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This page last viewed: 2017-06-23 and has been viewed 6221 times
By Jullian Gray
Summary: Hannibal takes Face home to meet his family.
Warning: SLASH, H/F, Violence, Language, bigotry, mention of rape and child abuse
Note takes place after the 5th season. The team has their pardons, not because of Stockwell but because of Face.
Special Thanks to Elizabeth, Shee, and of course my ever-faithful friend, Jes who gets me through it all.
Hannibal glanced over at Face as he drove down the two-lane country road and smiled. Though by all outward appearances the younger man was calm, Hannibal could tell he was a bundle of nervous energy by the way he kept straightening his tie and smoothing down his pristine shirt. At this particular moment however he was running his fingers through his neatly groomed blonde hair.
Reaching over Hannibal took Face's left hand in his right and squeezed it. "Relax, kid."
Face looked at him and Hannibal could see what looked like panic in his eyes. "Are you sure about this John, I mean I can get a hotel room, it wouldn't be any problem."
Hannibal sighed, they'd had this conversation over a dozen times since they had started on their drive from LA to Fostoria, Michigan, and now it looked like they would be having it again. "Tem, I want you with me, hell kid we haven't been apart for Christmas since we met."
"I know, but this is different, you never had a chance to spend it with your family before, I mean, it's not like you could go home after we escaped Fort Bragg."
"The team is my family." Hannibal raised Face's hand to his lips and kissed it. "And you, sunshine, are my life. I don't want to spend Christmas without you; I don't want to be away from you. If you are too uncomfortable to meet my relatives then I'll turn the car around and we'll go home."
"No," Face shook his head, "I'll be alright, its just I've never, well, I've…"
"Never been taken home to meet the family." Hannibal laughed as he squeezed Face's hand.
"No." He offered his lover a weak smile.
"I've got one better than that for you kid," Hannibal held up Face's left hand so the younger man could see the diamond inlaid gold band that encircled the tanned ring finger. "You're going to meet your future in-laws."
"Why did you say that?" Face moaned as he shut his eyes and let his head fall back against the headrest.
Hannibal couldn't help but chuckle, now Face knew exactly how he'd felt when he had sat down and talked to Father Maghill just a few short months ago. Though the priest was old, he still held a lot of authority, and Hannibal found himself slightly nervous when he had asked the old man about making a permanent commitment to Face.
"I've heard a lot about you, Mr. Smith." The old priest leaned forward in his chair to get a closer look at Hannibal.
"All good I hope." Hannibal started to laugh, but it quickly died on his lips when he noticed the priest wasn't smiling.
"You love my boy, Templeton, Mr. Smith?"
"With all my heart." Hannibal didn't hesitate for a second. "That young man means everything to me..."
"That's another thing, you're a little old for him, aren't you, he's …"
"Young enough to be my son," Hannibal finished with a sigh. "I know there is an age difference between us Father, I'm reminded of it constantly, but if we don't care, I don't see where it matters."
The priest continued to stare Hannibal in the eyes, a stare which hardened as he spoke. "You hurt my boy, Mr. Smith and I'll make sure there isn't a place you can hide. I may be old but I still have God on my side."
"Never, Father, Face's my life, and I plan on doing everything in my power to keep him safe and happy."
The old man moved farther forward and extended his hand. "Then you have my blessing."
"Thank you Father." Hannibal reached out and shook the other man's hand. "I was wondering if you would do us the favor of performing the ceremony."
"You know that this type of union is not recognized by the church, and in fact could get me excommunicated if it were found out I preformed it."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked, it's just it would mean so much to Tem if you could have…"
"Now hold on Mr. Smith, I didn't say I wouldn't." The old man smiled for the first time. "We just can't have it here. But you tell me the date and the place and I'll be there."
"Thank you Father." Hannibal sighed in relief. "Now all I have to do is ask Face, and hope he says yes."
"He'll say yes." The priest chuckled. "You don't worry about that, you're all he's talked about since the day he met you."
And when he had asked him, Face had said yes, leaving only one last thing to do, tell his own family.
"You're going to be fine kid. I'm sure my family will love you just as much as I do."
"And if they don't?" Face sighed as he glanced over at his lover.
"How can they not?" Hannibal rubbed the back of Face's hand with his thumb. "You're handsome, smart, charming…"
"A man." Face interrupted.
"It doesn't matter..."
"Maybe not to you, but your brothers and sister may have completely different feelings on the subject."
Hannibal let go of Face's hand so he could pull the car over on the side of the road. He put the car into park before turning to face his lover. "Tem, do you love me?"
"How can you ask me a question like that?" Face looked at Hannibal in complete disbelief.
"Answer my question." Hannibal stared at Face, blue eyes boring into blue-green ones.
"Yes, I love you!"
Taking his seatbelt off, Hannibal slid over to sit next to Face; he unbuckled Face's seatbelt so he could pull the younger man into his arms. "Then that is all that matters. If my family can't accept our relationship, then I don't need them."
Leaning forward, Hannibal captured Face's lips; cutting off anything the younger man was going to say. By the time he was finished, Face was panting for breath. "Tell you what we're going to do." Hannibal forced Face's head to his shoulder so he could rub his back and neck. "We're not going to say a thing to anyone about us. When you feel comfortable, then we'll tell them."
"Are you sure?" Face whispered.
"If it helps you feel more comfortable, I'm sure."
"I don't want to hurt you're feelings by…"
"I'm not hurt, Face." Hannibal moved to hug Face tighter to his body. "You love me and I love you, that's all that matters." Hannibal kissed Face's hair. "And when it's time, we'll tell them."
"Thank you." Face whispered into his neck.
"Anything for you kid." Hannibal kissed Face's hair again. "Anything for you," he repeated. "Now what do you say we head on down the road. If we're lucky we'll make it before midnight."
"Kay." Face sighed though he didn't let go for another moment.
"Now sit back and relax, everything will be a piece of …"
Face quickly pulled back to look into his lover's blue eyes. "Don't you say it, John Smith, don't you dare say it."
Hannibal only laughed at him as he pulled a cigar out of Face's jacket and stuck it between his teeth.
"We're here." Hannibal shut off his car before turning to look at Face only to discover he was now sleeping. Removing his right glove, he reached out to brush the hair off the younger man's forehead; then frowned when he noticed the slight warmth he found there. It had only been four months since Face had been shot multiple times saving his life. The same mission that had almost cost him his relationship with Face, and the younger man his life. "Face?"
"Hmmm" Face stretched and blinked a few times before looking over at him.
"We're here sunshine." Hannibal used the back of his hand to feel Face's forehead and cheek. "You feeling alright?"
"Little tired." Face moved into Hannibal's touch before suddenly sitting up straight in his seat. "We're here?" Face looked out the front window of the car to see a large yellow farmhouse painted in white trim. A porch wrapped around the front of the home, while two giant oak trees sat in the middle of the snow covered lawn. "It looks like something out of a fairy tale."
"Well my father kept us all grounded in reality with chores." Hannibal laughed softly as he continued to look at the younger man, who was still staring at the house in wonder. "But mom always made it warm and cozy; especially during the holidays. They always made sure that we had what we needed. "
"Must have been nice." Face's voice wavered slightly as he glanced over at his lover; then smiled. "I'm glad you're sharing it with me."
Knowing what the younger man had gone through as a child made Hannibal shudder inside. "Everything I have is yours kid, and I plan on making a lot of new memories with you."
Anything else Hannibal was going to say was cut off by the sound of several children as they ran out of the house and across the snow covered yard toward the car. All of them screaming, "Uncle John!"
"Looks like they know we're here." Face laughed as the children began to open the car doors, letting in the cold, snow filled air.
Hannibal laughed as two of his nephews began to tug on his coat, both yelling for his attention. "Uncle John, you came, you came!" one of them yelled as they pulled him from the car.
"Yes, Bobby, I came; didn't I tell you guys I'd be here this year?"
"Uncle David said you wouldn't be here, that if we were lucky we would get a gift from you and that would be it."
"Well Uncle David was wrong, wasn't he?" Hannibal laughed as he ruffled the boy's hair.
"That's what I told him!" the other boy yelled as he jumped up and down. "I told him that if you said you were going to come, then you would be here!"
"And here I am," Hannibal smiled. "Now where is your…" He stopped when he heard two other voices on the other side of the car asking questions, and demanding answers.
"Who are you?"
"Were you in the war with Uncle John?"
"Are you on his team?"
Hannibal turned to look at Face who was leaning up against the car while two other boys were pulling on his jacket.
"Easy guys, easy." Hannibal quickly rushed around the car to pull the boys off of Face, who was now looking pale. "He's not quite ready to be interrogated by you guys just yet." Hannibal laid his arm across Face's shoulder. "Tell you what, you boys unload the car and I'll give you the complete run down on my Lieutenant when you're done. How about that?"
"Yes sir!" they all snapped off quick salutes before tearing into the car.
"Hannibal, there is four of them." Face swallowed hard, "And they all look alike."
"Yes there are, and yes they do." Hannibal smiled as he squeezed Face's shoulder. "My youngest brother always said he wanted a big family, so he got one, all at once."
"How do you tell them apart?" Face shook his head as he watched the kids clean out the car.
"There is a secret to it that, I'll tell you about later." Noticing the trembling in Face's shoulders was increasing, he moved his arm down to encircle his lover's waist. "Come on kid, lets get you inside; last thing you need to do is get chilled."
"I need my cane." Face started to turn back toward the car, but one of the boys ran up to him with it in his hands.
"Here you go sir." The boy smiled before snapping off a quick salute and returning to help his brothers.
"They're trained better than some of my team," Hannibal commented; then laughed when Face shot him a sour look. "Come on Tem let's go meet the rest of them."
Slowly, the two made their way up the walk while the four boys rushed past them carrying packages and luggage. By the time the two made it up the front steps, Hannibal's sister and brother in-law were there to greet them.
"Face, this is my sister, Elizabeth. Beth, this is my Lieutenant, Templeton Peck, but we all call him Face."
"I can see why." Hannibal's sister smiled broadly as she looked the younger man up and down.
"Nice to meet you." Face smiled one of his best smiles.
"Where are my manners, come on you two, get in here out of the cold." Elizabeth ushered them into the house.
"Here, you two give me your coats." Hannibal's brother in-law, Frank, moved up to stand beside them as soon as they were in the door. Hannibal quickly shed his own, then moved to help Face, who was still having trouble not having the full use of his shoulder and arm yet.
"You two sit down over there by the fire," Elizabeth commanded as she turned to her husband. "Frank, bring some coffee in here so we can warm these two up."
Face allowed Hannibal to help him get settled on a large sofa by the fireplace. As soon as he was sitting down, Elizabeth covered him to his waist with a heavy quilted blanket.
"I see it runs in the family." Face chuckled softly as Hannibal moved to take off his shoes.
Hannibal stopped unlacing Face's shoe to smile up at his lover. "Yeah, she wasn't too bad for an older sister." As soon as he stood up from removing Face's shoes, Elizabeth was right next to him.
"Now John, where is my hug?" Hannibal's sister held her arms open.
"But she's kind of bossy." Hannibal laughed as he moved into her embrace.
"It's been so long." His sister hugged him tight. "I'm so glad that you can stay with us for a while."
"Don't thank me," Hannibal pulled back so he could look at Face. "Thank that man right there."
"Face, right?" Elizabeth moved to stand in front of the blonde.
"Yes ma'am." Face started to stand up, but was stopped by a 'don't you dare move look', a look he realized he had seen too many times from his own lover.
Elizabeth moved to carefully wrap her arms around Face, then gently hugged him. "Thank you for clearing his name and bringing him home to us. You don't know how much it means to this family."
"I was just doing what any second in command would…"
"Don't you say that." Elizabeth pulled back to look at Face allowing the younger man to see the hint of anger in her eyes. "Not every man would risk their own life to save another's. John told me how you were injured saving him, Mr. Peck."
"Yes ma'am, I didn't mean to upset you, but you see." Face swallowed hard as he looked up at his lover. "You're brother has save me from things worse than death; my life is the very least I can give him."
Elizabeth looked up at her brother who was staring at the blonde, his blue eyes bright with unshed tears. Then she turned her attention back to the young man before her, who was still looking up at her brother, his handsome face so full of trust and love.
She had suspected the two might have been lovers by the letters that John had written to her over the years. There hadn't been a single one that didn't contain at least four or more paragraphs about the young Lieutenant that had joined his team. Now seeing it with her own eyes, she knew that her brother was in love with the other man, and judging by his face, this young man was hopelessly in love with her brother.
"John's told me so much about you." She smiled when she noticed the slight blush rising in the younger man's cheek. "And the rest of the team, I feel like you're all a part of the family." Leaning forward, she gave Face a gentle kiss on the forehead before standing up and moving to the recliner across from Face, allowing Hannibal to have the seat next to his Lieutenant. "Where are they by the way, I expected to see all of you."
Realizing that his sister knew and had accepted Face, Hannibal allowed himself to relax a little. They still had his other two brothers to go through, but he didn't really care. Elizabeth was the only one that he really wanted to accept their relationship, and if she hadn't, he would have left with Face. He had made up his mind long ago; the younger man meant more to him than his own family.
"BA and Murdock went to go see BA's mother." Hannibal moved an ottoman over to the couch. "Prop your leg up kid," he softly commanded as he sat down next to Face. "I'd pay good money to see the look on her face when she opens the door."
"Good, then you can buy me a new camera, since I loaned Murdock mine to get a picture of her." Face sighed.
"What will be wrong with yours?" Elizabeth asked when she noticed Hannibal shaking his head.
"The last time our good Captain borrowed it, he returned it full of pie filling." Face rolled his eyes.
Hannibal chuckled as he remembered the look on his lover's face when he disconnected the lens from the camera and lemon custard came out. "Seems he was going through a pastry chef fantasy that week."
"Oh you just laugh it up, Hannibal, but I also remember you losing a complete luggage set to coconut cream."
"You didn't let him use my spare luggage again, did you?"
"Let me think about it?" Face cocked his head to the side. "My Ralph Lauren or your Samsonite? Yeah, that was a hard choice." Face rolled his eyes.
"Easy come, easy go." Hannibal sighed.
"Who wants coffee?" Frank asked as he balanced a large tray with a coffee pot and cups on one hand, while balancing another with cake and plates on the other.
"Here let me help." Hannibal rose to take the coffee tray, but Elizabeth was already on her feet taking the tray from her husband.
"You just sit back and relax, you two have had a long trip; we'll take care of everything," she scolded him before turning her attention back to Face. "What do you want in your coffee?"
"I don't want any, thank you." Face smiled.
"You don't drink it?"
"No ma'am, I drink it, it's just with the medication I'm on right now; it's not a good combination."
"Why didn't you say so, I can fix you something else, tea, hot chocolate?"
"I'm fine, really." Face smiled.
"It's no bother, I can fix you…"
"Beth dear, it's the caffeine," Hannibal interrupted her. "He takes a pain killer at night to help him sleep; the caffeine has an adverse effect with the drug."
Hannibal could still remember the horrible night that he had stayed up with Face until five the next morning. The kid had wanted to sleep so bad, but the drugs interaction with the cup of coffee he'd had after dinner that night wouldn't allow him to. By the time Face had finally managed to get to sleep, he was completely worn out.
"Good Lord, why didn't you say so, we have decaf." Frank started to stand up.
"No!" Hannibal and Face both shouted at the same time.
"Causes headaches." Face smiled weakly as he noticed Frank and Elizabeth were both staring at him.
"Is there anything you can…" her question was cut off as four boys ran into the living room and stopped directly in front of Hannibal.
"We finished Uncle John!" one of them yelled. "We put all the presents under the tree and your stuff in your room."
"We didn't know whose was whose, so we put it all together," one of the other boys confessed.
"That's fine boys; Mr. Peck will be sharing the guest room with your uncle since you're parents have the other."
"Speaking of parent's, where is James?" Hannibal asked, as he realized that for the first time, he hadn't seen his youngest brother or his wife.
"They went into town to see one of the Christmas shows, they won't be back until late tonight."
"Hey Uncle John, you promised to tell us all about him, remember?" One of the boys pointed to Face.
"That boys is not a him, he is the one and only First Lieutenant Templeton Peck, and he is the best First Lieutenant, Green Beret, and supply officer the US Army has ever produced." Some time later, when Hannibal finished his story, the boys were staring at Face in complete awe and his lover was beet red with embarrassment.
"You found a Cadillac in Vietnam?" Frank stared at Face.
"Not just a Cadillac, Uncle Frank, a convertible Cadillac," one of the boys corrected.
"You're shitting me."
"Frank, your language," Elizabeth scolded him.
"Hannibal wanted a car, so I got him a Caddy." Face shrugged his shoulders, and then sucked in air as pain flared through it.
"Tem?" Hannibal was instantly sitting up, looking at him.
"I'm alright, just moved the wrong way." Face tried to wave off his lover, but Hannibal wasn't buying the excuse, he could see how pale the younger man had become.
"I think it's time to get you medicated and in bed."
At first Hannibal thought Face was going to protest, but he got a surprise when he nodded his head in agreement.
"Thank you all for letting me come into your home." Face smiled as Hannibal helped him to his feet.
"Our home is your home." Elizabeth stood. "And if you need anything, and I do mean anything, please let me know."
"Thank you." Face smiled then turned to Frank. "Both of you."
"You're more than welcome. John, I have you two in your old room. If we need to, we can switch so you can have the master bedroom here on the ground floor so you two don't have to go up and down the steps."
"No, I'm alright." Face waved her off. "We have steps at home. I move slow, but I can get up and down them."
"If you're sure, it wouldn't be any problem to..."
"Really it's alright, thank you though."
Hannibal could tell by Face's body language that he was becoming upset, he always considered himself independent and the thought of being treated different because of his injuries did not set well with him.
"We'll be fine, Beth." He moved to stand beside Face, putting a supporting arm around his waist. "Come on kid; let's get you upstairs before she tries to read you a bedtime story." Hannibal laughed when Face blushed and his sister shot him a dirty look.
By the time they made it up the stairs and to their room, Face was leaning heavily on him. Hannibal helped Face over to the bed, then he went to their luggage; which was stacked neatly on one side of the room. "Where are your pajamas?"
"The big one." Face answered, his voice tight.
Hannibal turned to look at his lover. He noticed that Face was trying to unbutton his shirt but his hands were trembling so bad he couldn't hold onto the small buttons.
"Jesus kid." Hannibal moved to take Face's hands into his. "How bad?" Hannibal asked as he squeezed the younger man's hands.
"Don't try to con me Face, I know you're in pain." Reaching up, Hannibal stroked the hair out of his lover's eyes. "Now, how bad is it?"
"Bad," Face whispered, not looking the other man in the eyes.
"Don't you move," Hannibal ordered before he left the room. When he returned, he had a glass of water. Quickly, he dug through one of the smaller pieces of luggage until he found Face's medication. When Face accepted the painkillers without any complaint, he knew that the younger man was really in pain. Hannibal waited a few minutes, then started to unbutton his lover's shirt, Face started to protest but one look from him silenced anything the blonde might have said. When he was finished removing Face's shirt, he moved on to strip him out of his pants before helping him back into a pair of pajama bottoms; he decided against the top since it would involve moving Face's shoulder too much. Pulling the blankets back, he helped Face lay down before covering him back up. Reaching out, he began to stroke Face's hair as he watched the painkillers take effect. Knowing that Face lost some of his tight control when he was drugged, Hannibal started to ask the questions he knew Face would normally lie about.
"Where are you hurting?"
Hannibal nodded, he had figured that much already. "And?"
"Thigh." Face sighed as he fought to keep his eyes open.
"What about your chest?" Hannibal brushed a few stray hairs that fell over his lover's blue-green eyes.
"Feels alright." Face answered fighting back a yawn.
"Not having any trouble breathing?"
"No." Face couldn't help it this time, so he covered his mouth and yawned.
"Side?" Hannibal smiled as he watched his lover fight to stay awake.
Hannibal smile widened as Face's speech stared to slur.
"I'm here Tem."
"Love you too kid." Hannibal leaned down to gently kiss Face. "Now close your eyes, and go to sleep."
"Kay." Face did as he was told, and in a matter of seconds, he was fast asleep. Hannibal pulled the blankets more securely around the younger man's shoulders before heading back down stairs.
When he went back in the living room, he noticed that his sister was the only one there.
"Where did everyone go?" he asked as he took his seat back on the couch.
"Frank went to put the boys to bed, they should have been asleep a long time ago, but they were too excited since they knew you were on your way."
"Sorry we got in so late…"
"Hush John, this is the first time you've been home in ages, I don't care what time it is." The two sat in silence for a moment watching the fire before Elizabeth spoke.
"You love him don't you?"
Hannibal turned to meet her gaze. "He's my world Beth, and to be honest I don't want to live in it without him."
"Those are some pretty strong words John Smith." Elizabeth continued to stare at her brother waiting for him to look away.
"That's how I feel." Hannibal stared back refusing to back down. "And if this family can't accept it, then we'll leave in the morning." Hannibal started to rise but his sister held up her hand.
"Stop it John, sit down, you know all I care about is that you're happy."
Hannibal leaned forward and took his sister's hands. "He makes me whole Beth. When I thought I was going to lose him..." Hannibal closed his eyes and swallowed hard as he remembered when Face had stopped breathing in his arms at the hospital after he had been given the wrong medication. "When I thought I was going to lose him… I didn't want to go on."
"I understand John; I feel the same way about Frank." She reached up to touch her brother's face. "But I hope you know that David and James may have different feelings about your relationship."
"I know; that's why we're not going to tell anyone."
"Oh John," Elizabeth laughed at him. "You are fooling yourself, all anyone has to do is look at the two of you together and they can tell you're in love. I knew ten minutes after you two came through the door."
"Ten minutes, you're slipping Beth." Hannibal laughed when she reached up and messed up his hair.
"I noticed the ring on his finger." She smiled at him "Does this mean you've decided to settle down?"
"I've been with him since Nam."
"That long? She shook her head as she remembered her brother from his younger days.
"Yeah, that long. I figured I should finally make an honest man out of him." Hannibal laughed.
"It's a beautiful ring."
"He's a beautiful man."
"I can't argue with you there." A smile lit Beth's face. "You know you're going to have to fight your nieces off of him."
"You think so?"
"Dear, if I wasn't happily married you'd have to fight me for him."
"I don't think I have too much to worry about."
"No, I don't think you do," Elizabeth replied as she remembered the way the blonde looked at her brother. "Okay, I want to know all about him, give me all the details, I mean if he's going to be my next brother in-law I need to know his likes and dislikes, don't I."
"Alright, how about we start with the basics, I don't know his real name, I don't know his birthday, how old he is, where he was born, his parents name…"
Hannibal held up his hand stopping her. "I know, I'm making light of this Beth, but it's true." Hannibal settled back on the sofa. "Let me start at the beginning, when Face was three or four years old, he showed up on the steps of an orphanage…" When Hannibal finished his story an hour later, Beth was in tears and her husband Frank, who had joined them a short time after he started his story, was visibly shaken.
"How can anyone do that to another human being?" Frank asked as he hugged his wife to him.
Hannibal only shook his head, while he had given the two a rough outline of Face's life; he had left out a lot of details that he knew his lover would not appreciate him sharing with anyone. If the two were having a hard time with what he had told them, he couldn't imagine how they would have reacted to some of the more personal details that he kept to himself. Well he did know how his sister would act, she would go upstairs and hold Face in her arms, and try to protect him from the world the same as he now did
"I don't know Frank, I really don't, but there is something that you both have to understand. The kid doesn't let his past stop him, he deals with what life throws at him and keeps right on going." Hannibal moved forward again so he could take his sister's hands in his own. "And he will not want or accept pity, he is his own man, the only thing he wants is a fair deal, so please Beth, no matter how bad you want to coddle him or make up for what has happened in the past, don't, he won't accept it."
"John, I have to…"
"No Beth, you don't have to do anything." Hannibal's sister watched as a smile lit her brother's handsome face. "Besides taking care of him, and making him feel special is my job."
"Well I have news for you John Smith; you're going to have to share him while he's in this house." To her complete surprise, Elizabeth watched the smile disappear and her brother's eyes grew cold and hard.
"I care about you Beth, but don't make light of what I just told you. I love that man with all my heart; I don't share him with anyone."
"John, calm down, Elizabeth didn't mean anything by what she said; she just wants to be part of your life again."
Hannibal looked at Frank, then his sister; he closed his eyes and took a deep calming breath. "I'm sorry, but you two don't understand." Hannibal ran his hand through his short silver hair. "Ever since I've known him, people have tried to take him away from me, to destroy him, I…" Hannibal shook his head. "I don't want him hurt, and as much as I love you Beth, I still see everyone as a threat."
Beth moved to sit down on the sofa next to Hannibal; she reached out and pulled him into her arms. "John, we would never do anything to hurt you or that young man." Moving back she looked her brother in the eyes. "And I owe him so much for bringing you home to me."
The three talked for another hour before Hannibal decided that he needed to get back upstairs with Face. He was almost to the stairs when he remembered something extremely important. Though Face hadn't lashed out in his sleep in a long time, Hannibal didn't want to take any chances.
"Beth, I need you to make me a promise, keep the boys out of our room…"
"John." She shook her head. "We promise to give you two privacy…"
"No, it's not that, I don't want anyone near him when he's asleep; if he's startled awake, he can be dangerous." Hannibal put his hand on his sister's shoulder. "It's a defense mechanism left over from his Green Beret training, he doesn't mean to hurt anyone, in fact he's not aware of what he's doing until he's awake, so please Beth, make sure everyone, especially the boys, stays out of our room."
"Sure John, I'll tell everybody."
"Thanks." Hannibal bent over and kissed her on the forehead. "Well see you in the morning."
Hannibal made his way down the hall and into his old bedroom. He smiled at Face as he undressed. The younger man was currently curled up under the blankets so only the top of his head was sticking out.
Carefully, Hannibal pulled the blankets back and he reached down to take Face's wrists in his hand before sliding into bed behind him. He knew that Face was drugged out of his mind, but years of experience had taught him that this was when his lover could be at his most dangerous. As if to prove his instincts right, Face went ridged in his arms. Before he could say anything, Face took a deep breath as if getting his body ready for a fight.
"Han'bal?" Face mumbled, as he tried to pull his wrists away from the person holding him.
"Easy kid, it's just me," Hannibal whispered into Face's hair as he pulled the smaller man into the front of his body. When Face's body relaxed, Hannibal let go of his wrists, he stretched that arm out and Face moved his head to use that arm as a pillow and the other arm he draped over Face's waist, holding him tight to his body. "Go back to sleep." Hannibal kissed the back of Face's neck. "I've got you."
"Love you, Han'bal" Face yawned as he left his body completely relax in the older man's arms.
The next morning when Hannibal woke up he noticed that sometime during the night both he and Face had shifted positions. He was now flat on his back with Face tucked into his side as close to his body as he could get without laying on top of him, his blonde head buried under the blankets.
"Can't stand the cold, can you kid." Hannibal smiled as he pulled the blankets down enough that he could see the younger man's face. The smile widened as he pulled the blankets lower exposing his lover's arms and chest. It only took a matter of seconds before Face's hand reached out to snag the blankets pulling them back up around his body. Giving Face a second to drift back to sleep, Hannibal pulled the blankets back down again this time to Face's waist.
His smile widened when Face, still asleep, grabbed the blankets and pulled them up again, shifting his body so he was now even closer to him all the while holding on to blankets with one hand.
When Hannibal tried to pull the blankets away yet again he got a sleep filled threat.
"So help me Hannibal, you do it again, I'll hit you."
"Good morning to you too, sunshine." Hannibal laughed as he stroked his lover's hair back out of his face.
"No such thing as a good morning," Face grumbled, though he leaned into Hannibal's touch.
"Any morning I wake up with you is a good morning." Hannibal turned onto his side so he could wrap Face in his arms. "You feel like getting up?" he asked and wasn't at all surprised when Face shook his head no. "Tell you what kid, I'm going to go grab a shower, when I get back we'll get you up and dressed."
"Make it a long one." Face yawned as he pulled the blankets more securely around him when Hannibal got out of the bed.
At the door, Hannibal turned to look back at his sleeping Lieutenant. Sometimes Face showed his age by the way he acted, and after his last encounter with Frankie, the way he moved. Even with physical therapy, Face would never regain the complete use of his shoulder or leg; but to his credit, the blonde kept right on going.
Then there were times like these when his lover was asleep that he looked so much younger. It was a time when Face didn't worry about how he looked, the way he had to act or what others thought about him, when he was asleep, Face's body and mind seemed to be at peace.
"You going to get in the shower, or stare at me all morning?" Face asked as he rolled over to look at Hannibal.
"Thought you were going back to sleep?" Hannibal laughed.
"Was trying to, but you're staring at me."
"Can I help it if you're beautiful?" Hannibal smiled as Face blushed.
"Go get in the shower," Face grumbled as he rolled back over and pulled the blankets completely over his head.
Hannibal walked out of the bathroom, a white towel draped over his shoulders, and a smile on his face. He could hear the boys downstairs playing and his sister yelling at them to get ready to eat; the smell of bacon and biscuits drifted in the air. Deciding to let Face sleep a little longer he headed downstairs. As soon as he got to the living room, he was almost run over by Bobby and Ricky as they raced into the kitchen; right behind them were Todd and Jim, the other half of the quads.
"Hey, where's the fire?" Hannibal asked as he followed the boys into the kitchen.
"Well it's nice of you to join us." Elizabeth smiled as she moved to pour him a cup of coffee. "And where is your handsome companion?"
"Yeah Uncle John, where is Face?" Jim asked as he reached over to snag a biscuit off of Bobby's plate.
"He's still asleep," Hannibal told the boy before turning back to his sister. "He's not a morning person."
"Well if it isn't my big brother!" James Smith called out from behind Hannibal.
"James, how you doing?" Hannibal turned around and found himself wrapped in his younger brother's arms.
"Doing great," James stepped back, "You remember my wife Anna."
"Sure do, it's great to see you again John." James's wife moved to give him a hug. "I'm glad you could be here this year."
"So am I. So tell me, you two have plans for any more children?"
"Shut your mouth!" James laughed. "All I need is one more mouth to feed, hell you know my luck, I'd end up with four more."
"And you'd love every one of them," Elizabeth added as she moved to stand next to one of the boys before whispering in his ear.
Immediately, Todd jumped to his feet and ran toward the stairs.
"Now where is he off to in such a hurry?" Hannibal watched the boy take the stairs two at a time.
"Your Lieutenant is going to miss breakfast, so I sent Todd upstairs and tell him it's time to eat."
The family members in the kitchen watched as Hannibal went pale, then sprinted out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Hannibal reached the bedroom door just as Todd reached out to shake Face's shoulder. "Don't move Lieutenant!" Hannibal ordered just as the boy's hand made contact with Face's body. Hannibal watched in horror as Face tensed, but to his relief, didn't move.
Slowly, Hannibal made his way into the room. "Todd, I need you to back away from him, real slow."
"Aunt Elizabeth said to wake him up."
"He's awake Todd; you did a real good job, now I need you to back up."
"You're fooling Uncle John, he's not…"
"Please Todd, go back downstairs."
"But Aunt Eliz…"
"Now!" Hannibal felt bad for yelling when he watched the boy's bottom lip poof out, but he needed the boy away from Face. As Todd backed up and made his way toward him, Hannibal laid his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You didn't do anything wrong Todd, but he's injured, so we need to be careful, understand?"
"Sure, Uncle John."
"Good, now go back downstairs and finish your breakfast."
"Are you coming?"
"We'll be down real soon." Hannibal ruffled the boy's hair as he made his way toward the bed. He waited until Todd left the room before moving over to the bed where Face lay, his muscles still ridged, his breathing slow and steady.
"Tem?" Hannibal called out softly.
Smith sighed in relief that Face had answered him by using his name instead of sir or Colonel. Reaching out he pulled Face into his arms; that's when he noticed his lover was shaking. "You alright kid?"
"I didn't hurt him?" Face looked up at Hannibal, desperation in his eyes. "Please tell me I didn't hurt him."
"No kid, no." Hannibal hugged Face tight to his chest. "You didn't lay a finger on him, you didn't move a muscle."
"Thank God." Face sighed as he laid his head on his Colonel's shoulder. "When you yelled…" Face swallowed hard. "I… thought… I had…"
"No you never laid a hand on him; you followed my orders, just like always." Hannibal kissed the top of Face's head. "Hell, you do better in your sleep than when you're awake."
"You're funny Colonel." Face shoved against Hannibal as he tried to sit up, only to be rolled onto his back, his lover leaning over him.
"Love you, Lieutenant."
"Keep talking Colonel." Face raised his head up so he could kiss the older man.
"Oh, the things I could do to you, Lieutenant Peck." Hannibal leaned down to nip Face's neck and shoulder. "But I have a feeling we're going to be visited by my sister any minute now." Moving back so he could look Face in the eye, he kissed him softly on the lips. "Why don't you go get a shower while I talk to her."
"John, I should get a hotel room, it's not safe for me to be around your…"
"No!" Hannibal closed his eyes when he realized he had snapped at his lover. "No Face, this wasn't your fault. I told Beth to keep the boys out of our room, she either forgot, or didn't take me seriously, either way we're going to have another heart to heart."
"I don't want to cause any problems…"
"There's not going to be any." Hannibal placed his fingers over Face's lips, silencing him. "Now I want you to go and get a shower. I'll be here when you get back to help you get dressed."
"John, I …"
"That's an order Lieutenant."
Knowing that he wouldn't get any farther with this discussion, Face sighed. "Yes sir; but I have one problem."
"You're on top of me."
"Well we really do have a problem then, don't we." Hannibal smiled down at him. "Cause I like you exactly where you are." Hannibal's smile widened as Face blushed. "But I guess since we need to get you dress, I'll save this for later." Reluctantly, Hannibal stood up and pulled Face to his feet. "Bathroom is the third door on the left; clean towels are in the closet just behind the door, shampoo is…"
Face held up his hand as he moved over to pick up the small travel bag. "Brought my own, I'll be back in a few." With that, Face moved out of the bedroom.
"Morning Face." Hannibal heard his sister call out to his lover. "I don't know if John told you, but there are fresh towels in the closet behind the bathroom door, and the shampoo is on the rack in the shower, and if you need anything, just ask."
"Morning Elizabeth. Yes, he told me. Thank you."
"Good, we'll see you downstairs for breakfast in a little while.'
A few seconds later, Hannibal heard a soft knock at the door. "John?"
"John, I'm sorry, I forgot all about what you told me last night. It completely slipped my mind."
"Damn it Beth, I warned you, do you…"
"I know, and I'm sorry, the only thing I was thinking of was he was going to miss breakfast and I wanted James and Anna to meet him."
"Beth, if he was to hurt someone by accident, he would never be the same. He carries a lot of guilt from his past where it's not his fault; I don't want to imagine what hurting one of you would do to him. Please Beth, keep everyone out of this room. I'll take care of all his needs, you don't worry about him."
"Alright John." She smiled at him. "I guess you know what's best."
"I like to think I do." Hannibal winked at her. "We'll see you downstairs in a few minutes."
Twenty minutes later, after all the introductions were made, Face found himself sitting next to Hannibal at a huge table in the dining room, trying to force down a bowl of oatmeal. He had tried to tell Elizabeth several times that all he ate for breakfast was a piece of toast and a cup of coffee, but his argument fell on deaf ears. Normally Hannibal would have defended him, but since he had only put on five pounds out of the fifteen he had lost after being shot, his lover had remained silent.
"I can't eat anymore." Face groaned as he pushed the bowl away from him.
"A few more bites wouldn't hurt you, Lieutenant," Hannibal stated as he pushed the bowl back toward Face.
"And a few less wouldn't hurt you, Colonel," Face shot back as he slid it farther away from him, this time making sure it was out of Hannibal's reach.
Hannibal stared at Face for a few seconds getting ready to order the younger man to eat. As he eyed Face, he noticed that his lover had set his jaw in defiance, ready to put up a fight. Realizing that it wasn't worth it, he decided to let it go. Face had never been much for eating breakfast; hell, he wasn't a morning person at all for that matter. So as long as the kid ate enough to keep his blood sugar up, he would be happy.
Slowly, a smile spread across his lips. "Hey now, I'm still in great shape. Last time I looked, I could outrun you."
"That's something to be proud of," Face started to laugh, "you can outrun a crip."
Watching Face laugh made Hannibal's heart skip a beat; it felt so good to see his lover enjoying life. He had always respected Face for being able to make the best out a bad situation, even if he did whine about it.
"I'll take any victory I can get." Hannibal laughed.
"Well, I guess you're not as young as you use to be."
"Hey now wait just a minute." Hannibal glared at Face who was now grinning ear to ear.
"He's got you there, big brother." James laughed at Hannibal as Hannibal glared at Face.
"Don't you start, one smart mouth kid is bad enough around here." Hannibal shook his finger at his younger brother. "I don't need another one."
"Now Hannibal, if your brother …"
"Not another word out of you, Lieutenant or you'll be swimming in Lake Huron," Hannibal threatened.
"Don't you pay any attention to him." Elizabeth put her arm around Face's shoulder and gently squeezed. "I won't let him lay a hand on you."
"Well it's nice to know someone cares about my well being." Face smiled up at Elizabeth, then at Hannibal.
"She won't be around to protect you forever kid." Hannibal winked at Face, who swallowed hard when he saw the gleam in his lover's bright blue eyes.
A second later four screaming boys carrying hockey sticks and coats came charging into the dining room. "Let's go dad, lets go!"
"Alright, alright!" James stood up as the boys circled him. "Have you guys asked your Uncle and his friend if they want to come?"
"Yeah, that would be great!" The boy's turned in perfect unison to attack Hannibal.
"Would you join us, Uncle John?" Todd begged.
"Please, you could show us how you and Dad use to play!" Ricky grabbed Hannibal's sleeve.
"Hold on now guys, what's going on?" Hannibal pulled Ricky off of him.
"Were going down to the pond to play hockey," Ricky explained. "It'll be me and Bobby against Todd and Jim, unless you want to play too." Ricky smiled a huge smile.
"I'm not too sure guys; it's a mile hike from the house to the pond and I don't think Face is quite up to …"
"We'd love to come, as long as I don't have to play," Face interrupted Hannibal before he could finish. "In fact, I think it would be great to get outside and enjoy some fresh air."
"You sure kid, its awful cold outside." Hannibal looked Face up and down, his concern for his partner clearly showing through in his blue eyes.
"I'm sure Hannibal." Face smiled at him.
"Well, I guess that's settled then." Hannibal shook his head, still not believing that he was going to walk a mile in the cold and snow to play hockey with four rambunctious boys. "Go get our coats." He sighed.
Two hours later, Hannibal eased his tired and sore body down next to Face, who was sitting by the fire on the side of the pond.
"God I'm tired." Hannibal sighed as he took a cup of coffee that Face poured out of the thermos for him.
"Yeah, but you looked good out there." Face smiled over at him. "I can honestly say I enjoyed the show."
"Which part, me scoring the goal, or blocking James's goal?" Hannibal smiled proudly around his cigar.
"Actually, it was when you fell flat on your ass." Face snickered.
"Hey I was fouled."
"Yeah, by a ten year old." Face snickered again, though it was short lived when Hannibal grabbed him around the waist and began to tickle him.
"Stop Hannibal, please stop!" Face fought to grab Hannibal's hands, which were buried inside his coat attacking his ribs.
"Not until you tell me how great I am."
"You're… the greatest." Face huffed as he pushed against Hannibal. "Stop…now…stop…"
"An excellent hockey player," Hannibal added as he found an extra sensitive spot.
"The…best…Hannibal." Face tried to squirmed backwards out of Hannibal's grasp. "Stop…" he laughed.
"The greatest military strategist ever."
"No… one… better." Tears were now streaming down his face. "God…Hannibal…stop…can't…breathe…"
Leaning farther into his lover's body, Hannibal wrapped his arms around the younger man and pulled him into his chest so he could whisper into Face's ear. "Tell me how much you love me."
"With all my heart," Face whispered back before resting his head on the older man's shoulder.
Knowing that his back was to the pond and no one could see him, Hannibal laid a tender kiss on Face's forehead. His hands ran up and down Face's back under the younger man's coat. "Love you kid."
"You better." Face sighed; then laughed as Hannibal poked him in the ribs.
After another hug and a peck on the cheek, Hannibal let go of Face before moving back to sit beside him. He picked up the coffee cup and took a sip of the still hot brew. "I was thinking later this evening if you felt up to it, we'd take a ride into Frankenmuth and look at the lights, the town really goes all out for Christmas."
"Sounds nice." Face smiled at him.
Twenty minutes later, James tried to call the game.
"Come on kids, let's pack it in."
"Just a few more minutes dad, please," Bobby begged.
"Yeah Dad, we're tied; we can't leave it a tie," Todd whined.
"Look guys, your mother and Aunt have a lot of things that I need to help them with; now get your stuff together."
Hannibal looked over at his brother and the now dejected boys. "James, how about we watch them for a little while longer, that way you can get some stuff done."
"You wouldn't mind? I mean they are a handful." James looked at Hannibal as if he had lost his mind.
"Little brother, I've handled the NVA, surely we can handle four boys."
"You'd be surprised." James laughed.
"Get out of here before I change my mind." Hannibal motioned his brother to go on. "I'll let them stay on the ice for another hour tops, then we'll head back."
"See you at the house." James smiled at his older brother before turning back to the boys. "Do what your Uncle says!" he yelled at the kids before heading up the trail towards the house.
After James left, Hannibal and Face sat quietly together watching the boys continue their hockey game, which was really nothing more then chasing the puck up and down the frozen pond. Only thirty minutes later, snow began to fall. At first they were just small flakes falling here and there, but within ten minutes, the flakes were fat and full, falling faster and faster.
"It's really starting to come down, isn't it?" Face noted as he pulled his jacket more securely around him.
"Yeah, looks like we're in for a heck of a storm." Hannibal glanced up at the darkening sky. "Hey guys, I think it's time we pack it in."
"One more shot Uncle John," Jim yelled as he shot the puck across the ice.
"I've got it," Todd yelled back as he chased the puck across the pond. He was just about to smack the puck back the other way, when there was a sickening crack and the boy fell through the ice.
"Todd!" Hannibal yelled as he started across the pond toward his nephew, who was clinging onto the edge of the ice, screaming for help.
"John stop!" Face grabbed Hannibal before he could get much farther.
"Let go of me!" Hannibal struggled against Face. "He's going to drown."
"And you're not going to be able to save him if you fall in too. Damn it Hannibal, you weigh too much; if you walk out there, I'll have two people to save."
Face started to move toward the fallen boy, but only made it a few steps before Hannibal snagged him by the arm. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm lighter than you, if I lay down flat and distribute my body weight I should be able to pull him out."
"I don't like it." Hannibal shook his head. "But we don't have a choice."
Face nodded, moving forward again until he heard the ice groan under his weight. Slowly, he lowered himself to his stomach and crawled as fast as he could toward Todd. As he reached the edge where the boy had fallen in, the ice shifted and cold water soaked through his clothes, causing a chill to run through his body. Face closed his eyes for a brief second, said a silent prayer, and continued forward.
"I can't get out!" the boy screamed as he kicked about in the freezing water, desperately trying to grab a hold of Face.
"Todd, listen to me, you have to do what I say or we're both going to be in the pond, do you understand."
"I… can't… feel my… legs…or …my…fingers."
Reaching out, Face grabbed the boy by the coat. "I'm going to pull you out, as I do, I want you grab onto my clothes and pull yourself back toward your uncle. Do not try to stand up, lay flat. Understand?"
"Good, now on three. One, two, three." Face pulled as hard as he could, lifting the boy up and out of the icy water. His shoulder protested the weight and movement, but Face pushed past the pain and continued to pull the boy out of the freezing water. "Grab my jacket and start pulling yourself toward your Uncle," Face reinforced his earlier command as he grabbed Todd by the belt, pulling more of the waterlogged boy out.
Todd grabbed Face's jacket and did as he was told. Slowly, he worked his way down Face's body, crawling toward his family. Face remained perfectly still, not moving, despite the cold, until he heard Hannibal give him the all clear.
"We got him kid; get your ass back here."
Face rolled onto his side just enough so he could see the other boys gathered around Todd.
"Thank God." Face sighed as he began to push himself back from the edge; however as soon as he put his weight on his hands to push back, the ice he was laying on cracked under him. Water gushed up from the icy pond, immersing him from the waist up. Just when he was sure he was going to go all the way under, he felt his body being jerked backwards. Turning to look back, he noticed that Hannibal was lying flat on the ice a few feet back from him, his own cane was wrapped around the bottom of his ankle.
"I got you kid," Hannibal stated as he pulled Face farther back with the cane until he could grab the younger man by the foot, and then he pulled him off the thin ice.
"Remind me next year to go to the Bahamas," Face joked through his now chattering teeth.
"Anywhere you want." Hannibal wrapped his arms around Face, helping him to stand.
"Wet and cold, just like you; lets get back to the house," Hannibal stated as he brushed the wet hair back from Face's forehead.
"Nno argument hhhere." Face wrapped his arms around his chest trying desperately to stop his shaking.
Before they got started, Hannibal took his jacket off and gave it to the boy; he tried to give his thicker flannel shirt to Face, but his lover refused.
"It's nottt going to dddo either of us any gggood if you freeze to ddeathhh ."
"Face, you're soaked to the bone; you're going to freeze."
"Yeah, bbuttt… I'll make… a gggreat looking… corpse, nnnow lets… get mmmoving," he stated with chattering teeth.
The six of them started toward the house, but it soon became apparent that Face was having a hard time keeping up. He still hadn't completely recovered from his run-in with Frankie and now his wounds were reminding him of that with every step he took. When he stumbled and fell to his knees, it was everything he could do to keep from crying out in pain as his thigh cramped up.
"Face!" Hannibal set Todd down on the ground before rushing back to kneel in the snow beside him.
"M' okay," Face ground out between grit teeth.
"Bullshit Lieutenant, you're as pale as a ghost," Hannibal snapped, then closed his eyes and got his emotions in check; he knew Face was trying to put him at ease but he was mad at himself for allowing the accident to happen in the first place. "Come on kid," wrapping his arms around Face, he helped the younger man stand, "we're about halfway there."
Hannibal picked up Todd in one arm and wrapped his other around Face's waist. The six moved forward again; they made it another fifty feet when Face stumbled again, though this time Hannibal was able to stop him from falling.
"Hann'balll, you… needdd… to…go onnn and …take the…boysss to …the house."
"I'm not going to leave you."
Face shook his head. "Gottt…to…slowing you…downnn…take them…home…come backkk for me…"
"Go!" Face yelled as he pulled out of Hannibal's grip. "I'llll …keeppp… mmmoving… mmmeet you…halfff wway."
Hannibal set Todd down on the ground again; he hugged Face tight to his body, feeling the other man tremble in his arms broke his heart. "Love you Tem, and I promise I'll be back to you in ten minutes, tops," Hannibal stated, not caring if the boys overheard him.
Face rested his head against Hannibal's shoulder for a brief moment allowing himself to feel his lover's warmth and strength before pushing himself away. "Nnnevver gggettt …bbbaackk iff yyou ddonn'ttt llleave."
Hannibal nodded, picking Todd up. "Promise kid, ten minutes."
"We could stay with Face until you got back," Ricky volunteered.
"No, I want you three to run on to the house, tell your parents and your Aunt Elizabeth what has happened. I'll be right behind you."
"You got it Uncle John!" Bobby snapped off a quick salute as the three took off running.
Hannibal glanced at Face one last time before taking off in a jog, right behind the boys.
Face waited until they were out of sight before he sank to the ground. He knew he should keep moving, but he couldn't, his body hurt too bad. Every place where he had been covered by the water felt like needles stabbing him; and the shaking was getting to the point he wouldn't be able to hold on to the cane if he had to. Closing his eyes, he decided he would just sit for a minute, and then he would force himself to get up and move on.
Hannibal ran as fast as he could with Todd in his arms, his mind reeling from what had just happened. The accident at the pond had been bad, but the fact that he had left the man he loved alone in an open field, soaking wet was tearing him apart.
As he came out of an outcrop of trees that surrounded the house, he noticed James, Anna, Elizabeth and Frank running toward him. He silently thanked the boys for going ahead. This gave him extra time to get back to Face.
"John!" James yelled as he ran up to him.
"God, is he alright? Todd can you hear me?" Anna cried as she grabbed her son out of Hannibal's arms.
"He's cold and wet, but he should be fine once we get him in a warm bath."
"What happened?" Elizabeth asked as she wrapped Todd in a blanket she had brought from the house. "All I could get out of the boys was there was an accident on the pond and Todd had fallen in."
"There was a thin spot in the ice and Todd fell through." Hannibal looked at the others, and then glanced back the way he had come. "I have to go back and…"
"Ffface ssaveddd mmme," Todd stated through chattering teeth. "Hee grrabbedd mme and pullleddd mmme outt."
"Where is he?" Elizabeth looked past Hannibal's shoulder.
"I had to leave him…"
"John, how could you leave someone alone out in this?" Elizabeth yelled.
"I had to get Todd back to the house." Reaching out, Hannibal put his arm on his sister's shoulder. "Beth, I need you to get a warm bath ready by the time I get him back, he's going to be extremely cold. Now I need to get back to him."
"I'm going with you," Frank insisted. "With the storm that is coming in you could get lost; Beth make sure you get Todd to drink something warm, and have something ready for Face as soon as he hits the door."
"John, you get that young man of yours back home as quick as you can," Beth ordered Hannibal before turning back to her little brother. "Come on James, let's get Todd back to the house."
"Wait a second, John." James kissed Todd on the forehead. "I'm going with you."
"We'll have everything ready by the time you get back," Elizabeth promised as she and Anna started their way back toward the house.
"Let's go, before this storm settles in and we can't find him." Hannibal turned back the way he had just come at a dead run with Frank and James right on his heels.
Slowly, Face pulled himself up; he looked up at the sky and watched as the enormous snowflakes floated to the ground, covering the footsteps of Hannibal and the boys. He had managed to walk a hundred feet within the last ten minutes, however this was the third time he had fallen, and his limbs were now refusing to do anything but shake.
Taking in a shuddering breath, Face pulled his knees up to his chest before resting his head on top of them, he was so tired and cold, and his energy reserves were long used up.
He closed his eyes and centered his thoughts. A picture of Hannibal in his mind, he smiled and focused on those blue eyes, and waited, knowing that his Colonel wouldn't let him down.
"Face!" Hannibal yelled as he tried desperately to find his Lieutenant. "Face!" Since the three men had left the others, the weather conditions had gone from bad to worse. They were now in a near white out state, and almost all of the tracks were covered by snow. He knew Face was close, but with the swirling snow he couldn't see five feet in front of him.
"Face!" When he got no response, he did the only thing he knew would work. "Damn it Lieutenant Peck, answer me!" he commanded at the top of his lungs into the white abyss.
Whether it was a moan or the wind, Hannibal wasn't sure, but it sounded like "Colonel" and he headed in that direction. A flash of blue caught his eye and he ran toward it. "I found him!" Hannibal yelled as he rushed to Face's side, dropping to his knees beside the younger man. "Face, can you hear me?" He carefully lifted Face's snow covered head and what he saw terrified him; Face's skin was ghostly white, his lips a pale blue and his skin cold to the touch.
"Come on kid, don't do this to me." Hannibal pulled Face to him his fingers going to the younger man's throat to feel for a pulse.
"Yourrr llllaaatttee Colonnneeeellll," Face whispered, his voice barely audible over the howling wind.
Hannibal hugged Face to his body. "Hang on kid; I'll have you tucked in a nice warm bed in no time."
"How is he?" Frank asked as he and James came running over to Hannibal.
Hannibal moved to pick Face up, but was stopped by Frank. "We need to get him out of that wet jacket."
Before Frank or Hannibal could move, James had his coat unzipped and half off. "Here, use mine." As quickly and as gently as he could, Hannibal stripped Face out of his wet jacket. As the cold air hit Face's skin he began to shudder uncontrollably, then he suddenly stopped. When Hannibal looked down he noticed that Face's eyes had rolled up in the back of his head.
"Tem?" Hannibal gently tapped Face's cheek but he didn't get a response.
"He's hypothermic; we have to get him back to the house fast." James handed Hannibal his coat as Frank knelt down to help get it onto Face. As soon as the jacket was zipped, Hannibal picked Face up in his arms.
"Lets get moving."
"Where are they?" Anna asked as she paced back and forth in front of the door. "Shouldn't they have been back by now?"
Elizabeth looked at her sister in-law, then back out at the snowstorm that was raging all around the house. Since they had brought Todd home, the two women had given the boy a warm bath, a bowl of soup, and he was now playing quietly with his brothers in the living room. Now they were doing the hardest thing, waiting.
"They should be here any minute now Anna. Why don't you go warm up the bath water again, just make sure it's not hot, we don't want to burn him."
"All right." Anna hurried to the master bathroom.
Elizabeth listened as the water began to circulate in the pipes traveling to the bathroom just off the master bedroom. Once she was sure Anna was occupied, she turned her attention back to the front window. "Come on guys, where are…" As if from out of nowhere, four men appeared, Frank, James, and Hannibal carrying Face. "Anna, they're here!" Elizabeth yelled as she threw the front door open and ran toward the four men.
As she approached, she noticed how cold and wet each of them were. Their hair was damp from the snow, which was clinging to each of them, but what caught her eye was the man in her brother's arms. He was as pale as death and soaking wet, his blonde hair plastered to his skull, which was resting on her brother's chest. "Get him to the master bathroom now!" she ordered as she laid her hand on Face's cold forehead.
Hannibal rushed into the house with Elizabeth right behind him. "Anna, go help take care of the others while I help John."
"Is he alright?" Anna asked as she watched Hannibal ease Face to the floor while her sister in-law moved to unzip his coat.
"He's going to be just fine," Elizabeth reassured her, but Anna wasn't really sure whom she was trying to convince.
"Call if you need anything," Anna called as she closed the door behind her.
Hannibal and Elizabeth quickly stripped Face down; the second he was naked, Hannibal picked Face up to place him in the warm bath. As he eased Face into the water, he heard Elizabeth gasp. Ignoring her, he gently lowered Face into the water until he was submerged to his shoulders. The instant Face's body made contact with the water, he moaned, but didn't wake.
"He has so many scars," Elizabeth commented as she stared down at Face. "How…"
"Most of them are from our time in the prison camp," Hannibal stated with no emotion as he supported Face with one arm while reaching for the washcloth off the side of the tub with his free hand; wetting it down he began to wipe his lover's face and neck.
Hannibal closed his eyes as he remembered when Face had broken down in his arms and finally told him about his past with Father Thomas and Mark Conner. "He had quite a few before he came to me."
"But you said he was barely…"
"I know what I said Beth!" Hannibal snapped; he didn't want to have this conversation with his sister. What Face had told him had been between the two of them, and it was no one else business but theirs.
"I'm sorry John, I shouldn't pry; it's just he's so young, how…"
"Please Beth, stop." Hannibal looked at her, his blue eyes full of pain. "You're not going to say anything that I haven't asked myself a thousand times already."
Anything that she was going to say was cut off by a soft moan from Face.
"Tem?" Hannibal reached up to wipe the hair from Face's eyes. "Can you hear me kid?"
"Col'nel?" Face's eyes fluttered open though they didn't seem to focus on anything.
Hannibal let go of the washcloth so he could cup his lover's face in his hand, turning him so they were looking eye to eye. "I'm right here."
"Colldd, ssirr," Face began to tremble as his body began to warm.
"I know kid." Hannibal moved to stroke Face's cheek. "Just a few more minutes and we'll get you in a warm bed." Moving forward, Hannibal placed a gentle kiss on Face's still cold lips. "You're going to be just fine."
Elizabeth moved over to the tub with a digital thermometer intent on taking Face's temperature. "I'm going to take your …" She watched as Face shrank back from her, his eyes wide with fear.
"Beth, step back real slow," Hannibal ordered softly as he took the blonde's face in his hand. "Lieutenant?"
"III didn't telll tthhemm anything, Colonelll. I ppprommissee, I didddn't!" Face shook his head violently from side to side.
"I know kid." Hannibal moved his hand to stroke Face's hair. "You're the best first Lieutenant this army has ever produced and I'm proud of you." Leaning forward, Hannibal placed a gentle kiss on his lover's forehead. "You're safe now, Lieutenant, I want you to relax and let me take care of you."
"Kay," Face whispered as he closed his eyes, his body going limp.
"John, what just happened?" Beth moved to place her hand on her brother's now slumped shoulder.
"He thinks he's back in the camp." Hannibal shook his head. "He gets confused sometimes when he's hurting, or if his…sugar…drops…Beth do you have any orange juice in the house?"
"I need a glass brought up to our room." Hannibal leaned over to pick Face up out of the tub.
"John, you can't carry him up the stairs, put him in my bed."
"Beth, I can…"
"Put him in my bed; don't argue with me, John Smith, just do as you're told for once. I'll have clean towels on the bed." Beth squeezed his shoulder before she left the bathroom.
"Sisters." Hannibal sighed. "Alright kid, up you go." Hannibal pulled Face out of the tub, and then carried him to the bed. He smiled when he noticed that Elizabeth had laid out several towels along with a thick terrycloth robe. "I think you're her new favorite, Tem."
Within a few short minutes, Face was dried, wrapped in the robe, and under several thick quilts. Elizabeth had come back in with not only a glass of orange juice, but also several warm water bottles, which she helped Hannibal pack around his body. Taking the thermometer from his sister, Hannibal checked Face's temperature, and then sighed with relief.
"How is he?"
"His temperature is still low, but it's improving." Hannibal handed the thermometer back to her before he moved to stroke Face's hair. Leaning forward, he placed a gentle kiss on the younger man's forehead before speaking softly to him. "Now, how about you wake up for me, Sunshine?"
Elizabeth watched in amazement as her rough and tumble brother became an entirely different person before her eyes. Hannibal had always been tough; always putting on a macho image, ready to fight at the drop of the hat. Now she watched as her brother's love for his partner came pouring out of him.
When Face didn't respond, Hannibal tried a different tactic. "Wake up; that's an order Lieutenant." Though his voice was soft the command still held power.
Elizabeth couldn't believe it when the young man moaned and tried to shift onto his side.
"Can't… time…up…just…went to…sleep."
"I know." Hannibal smiled as he sat down and pulled Face back over to him. "But I need you to do something for me."
"Not this time Lieutenant." Hannibal pulled his lethargic lover up so he was resting against his chest. "But I promise as soon as you're done, you can go back to sleep."
"Kay." Face cracked his eyes open, but Elizabeth could tell it was taking a lot out of him.
Hannibal put the glass up to Face's lips. "I need you to drink this for me."
Reaching up, Face tried to take a hold of the glass but his hands were shaking so hard there was no way he could have held it.
"I've got it." Hannibal took Face's hand in his free one. "You just drink."
Elizabeth had to smile as she listened to her brother encourage the other man to drink the entire contents of the glass.
"One more swallow Lieutenant, that's it, you're doing good." Hannibal lowered the glass when the last of the juice was gone. Elizabeth immediately stepped forward to take it from his hand.
Closing his eyes, Face laid his head back against the older man's chest. "Tired, sir."
"You want to lay back down?"
"Please." The voice was little more than a whisper, and it was only one simple word, but it broke Elizabeth's heart to hear the pleading desperation that it held.
Gently, Hannibal helped Face lay down on the bed. As soon as he was flat, Face curled up on his side, his knees coming up to touch his chest while his head went down to his knees. One arm wrapped around his bent legs, while the other covered his head.
"You're going to be alright Tem, you're safe," Hannibal whispered as he covered Face with a blanket.
"Does he always sleep like that?" Elizabeth asked, not believing that the young man could possibly sleep in such an uncomfortable position.
"No." Hannibal sighed. "Only when he's feeling vulnerable."
"John, you haven't told us everything that he has happened to him, have you?"
"No." Closing his eyes, Hannibal fought back the pain he felt every time he thought of what Face had gone through as a child. "And I'm not going to."
"John?" Elizabeth knelt down in front of her brother when she saw a tear fall from behind the closed lids.
When Hannibal looked at her, she could see the pain in their blue depths. "I can't lose him Beth. I… can't…" his voice broke as he fought back the tears.
"He's alright John." Elizabeth moved to hug her brother as she watched him finally give into the stress of the day. She continued to hold him while he cried his pain, all the while stroking his hair the same way their mother had when they were children.
When Hannibal finally pulled away from her, he wiped at his eyes. "Sorry."
"Why are you apologizing?" Elizabeth asked as she reached out to wipe away a tear that was halfway down Hannibal's face. "There is nothing wrong with loving someone."
"You know how dad was, men don't cry."
"I have news for you, John Smith, they do when they, or the ones they love, are hurt."
Both turned to look at Face when he moaned in his sleep.
"Beth, I need to be alone with him."
"Alright, I'll tell the others that he is alright and that you two are going to lay down for a while. I'll be in later to check on both of you. If you need anything before then you…"
"Han'bal," Face cried out, his voice full of fear.
"I'll call you," Hannibal told her as he moved to lie down behind Face.
He quickly pulled the smaller man into the front of his body. "Shhh, I'm right here Tem." Hannibal wrapped his own limbs around Face, holding him tight. "I've got you baby, I'm here."
"Thought…you…left me." Face shuddered. "Couldn't feel you."
"Never," Hannibal reassured him as he kissed the back of Face's neck. "You should know by now that you can't get rid of me." Hannibal kissed his neck again. "Now, how about you turn over here so I can see you."
Elizabeth watched from the doorway as Face slowly uncurled himself and rolled over to tuck himself into the front of her brother. His golden head lay on Hannibal's outstretched arm. Reaching down, her brother picked up his lover's hand. He kissed the palm before placing it inside his shirt over his heart.
"Now can you feel me?" Hannibal whispered.
Face nodded as he moved his body closer to Hannibal, who wrapped his arms around him, pulling Face in close. "Go to sleep Tem, you're safe."
Elizabeth left the room, pulling the door closed softly behind her, determined to make the younger man's stay at her house the best experience he ever had.
"How is he?" Anna asked as she rushed over to Elizabeth when she entered the living room.
"We got his temperature back up and he's sleeping."
"Thank God." Frank moved to hug his wife. "Is John staying with him?"
"Yes, he's going to stay with Face till he wakes up." Elizabeth smiled as she looked at her family. "I'm going to suggest that when he wakes up we have one heck of a dinner waiting for him."
Face shuddered when he woke, he could still feel a chill in his body and he ached all over, especially in his thigh and shoulder. Before he opened his eyes he took in a deep breath, smelling the familiar sent of fine Cuban cigars and expensive cologne. Opening his eyes Face noticed that he was tucked in tight against his lover's chest, Hannibal's head was resting on top of his. Glancing up he noticed that Hannibal was still asleep, Face sighed contently as he snuggled down into Hannibal's arms.
Looking up at the sound of his lover's anxious voice, he found a pair of concerned blue eyes staring down at him.
"Hi." Face smiled as he reached up to touch Hannibal's cheek. The older man took his hand and kissed his palm before leaning down to capture his lips.
"You scared me kid," Hannibal whispered against his lips, before kissing Face again.
"Don't you dare apologize to me," Hannibal cut Face off before he could continue. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have a nephew right now…." Hannibal stopped as his voice caught in his throat. "Damn it kid; don't scare me like that again."
Hannibal wrapped his fingers in Face's hair and kissed him hard. His tongue licked across the younger man's lips and Face opened his mouth and allowing him to enter. Hannibal deepened the kiss as he rolled the smaller man onto his back. He pulled Face's robe open, exposing his chest as he worked his way down Face's throat, licking and kissing his way lower while his hands roamed the younger man's body, feeling the warmth that was now radiating from the tan body.
Face moaned and arched up when Hannibal took a nipple in his mouth; when the brown nub was swollen and erect, he moved to the other one. Once the second was as sensitive as the first, Hannibal moved lower; his tongue dipped into Face's navel, teasing the soft flesh. He then reached up to lightly pinch Face's sensitive nipples, at the same moment he pinched the swollen skin, Hannibal took the younger man's erection into his mouth.
Face threw his head back as his hips came off the bed, the sensation of Hannibal's hot mouth on him almost made him come. Face turned his head into the pillow in an attempt to silence the moan that tried to escape as Hannibal took his entire length down his throat.
Face reached down and ran his hands in his lover's soft sliver hair, when Hannibal looked up at him, Face could see the need and desire in his partner's blue eyes.
"Ready for you," Face whispered, then bit down on his lip to keep from screaming out when Hannibal twisted his nipples and increased his suction on his penis.
Hannibal knew that Face was offering to give him what he needed, but he wasn't ready for that. No, he couldn't say that, he wanted to bury himself deep into Face, to feel that connection. But he also wanted to give Face something more; he wanted to make sure that the younger man was completely satisfied.
Hannibal felt a tremble under him, a sure sign that the young man was just on the edge of his orgasm. With another twist of the swollen brown nubs, and another increase of suction, Face came, the younger man threw his head back as his hips came up off the bed, his back arched. Hannibal continued to suck Face's member until the younger man was completely spent.
Glancing up, Hannibal noticed that Face's eyes were closed, his chest heaving up and down as he recovered from the intense orgasm. Moving back up Face's body, Hannibal reached over to the nightstand and grabbed a bottle of hand lotion. He liberally coated his fingers with the lotion before inserting a finger into Face's anus. Face moaned, opening his mouth slightly. As soon as it opened, Hannibal kissed him, forcing his tongue into the younger man's mouth; a few seconds later, Face reciprocated the kiss by entering Hannibal's mouth with his own tongue.
Knowing that Face had recovered from his orgasm, Hannibal slid a second finger into the smaller man's body. Again, Face moaned against his mouth as his hips started to move against his lover's hand. When Hannibal was sure Face was adjusted to the two fingers, he added a third, stretching and preparing his lover. Sure that Face's body was ready for him, Hannibal shifted his body so he was kneeling between Face's legs; the entire time he kept his mouth locked onto the younger man's. Slowly, Hannibal slid his fingers out; just as his fingertips were leaving Face's body, he pressed his member all the way into the smaller man. Face moaned into his mouth as the younger man arched his back. When Hannibal began to withdraw, Face wrapped his legs around his waist urging him back in.
Hannibal set a slow and steady pace, his hands roamed the younger man's body, determined to drive Face back over the edge again. When he felt his lover begin to shudder with need, Hannibal increased his pace, thrusting harder and deeper. When Face came the second time, Hannibal was right behind him, shooting his seed deep into Face's body. Only when his body was completely stated did Hannibal release Face's mouth.
"I love you so much Tem," Hannibal whispered as he brushed Face's lips with his own.
Face smiled up at the pair of bright blue eyes staring down at him. Reaching up, he wrapped his fingers in the short silver hair. "Not half as much as I love you," he stated before pulling Hannibal back down to his mouth. Face kissed Hannibal with all he had, trying to put as much love as he could into the simple act.
Pulling back, he laughed softly when he felt Hannibal's member twitch inside his body. "You up for another round?"
"I would love to take you until you couldn't walk for a week, but I'm not as young as I use to be," Hannibal admitted, though he made no move to pull out of Face. He had always enjoyed the feeling of being lodged in his lover's body after sex, keeping the physical connection between them as long as possible. Whenever he took Face from behind, he would make sure that Face stayed spooned into the front of him so he could stay inside the younger man until he fell asleep. Though in his current position he knew he would have to move soon, his knees just couldn't take the strain.
"You're more than young enough for me." Face smiled up at him again.
Again Hannibal's organ pulsed and Face laughed, rotating his hips, causing Hannibal to groan in frustration.
"Tonight kid, you are had," Hannibal stated as he begrudgingly pulled out of Face.
"Promise?" Face wiggled his hips. "I mean, you just said you weren't as young as you use to be."
Hearing his own words turned back on him, Hannibal grabbed the younger man and pulled him into his arms so they were face to face, their chests pressed together. "Guaranteed." Hannibal captured Face's lips.
With a quick smack on the younger man's ass, Hannibal released Face and stood up intent on getting a clean washcloth to clean them both up. He made it two steps from the bed when Face's words made him stop dead in his tracks.
"Who knows about my past now?"
"I know you didn't get me here by yourself, you had help getting me in the bed…"
Hannibal quickly moved to kneel down in front of Face; he took the younger man's hands in his own. "Beth helped me." When the younger man tried to look away, Hannibal grabbed him by the jaw and forced him to look at him, blue eyes blazing.
"Now you listen to me and you listen good. You have nothing, I mean nothing, to be ashamed of." Realizing he might be hurting his lover, Hannibal changed his grip, bringing up his other hand he cradled his lover's face. "And if it makes you feel any better, I told her that most of them came from the war."
"Most?" Face whispered.
"I told her the rest were none of her business." Hannibal leaned over to kiss Face. "And if you want to tell her more, it's up to you, but she knows not to ask."
Closing his eyes, Face moved forward so he could hug his partner. "Thank you," he whispered.
Feeling the tension leave Face's body, Hannibal wrapped his arms around his lover and returned the embrace. "You don't have to thank me." Hannibal placed his hand on the back of the younger man's neck and gently squeezed. "Don't you ever thank me for protecting you." Hannibal hugged Face closer to him. "You have saved my sorry ass more times than I can count."
When Face mumbled something he couldn't hear, Hannibal pulled him back so they were looking at each other. "I didn't hear you kid."
"Sexy ass, not sorry." Face grinned.
"You are so had tonight." Hannibal smiled as he pushed Face onto his back and began to tickle him. When the younger man was gasping for breath and begging for mercy, Hannibal finally stopped. "Now smart ass, we're going to get cleaned up and show the family that my hero is alright."
"Are you sure you don't want to come with me?" Hannibal asked again as he watched his lover try to take another bite of his eggs.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Face smiled at him as he pushed the eggs around the plate. "I'm still a little sore from yesterday, besides I don't have my cane."
"I'm sorry kid I forgot all about it." Hannibal reached over and squeezed Face's hand. "I'll pick you up a new one while I'm out." Looking around to make sure his sister wasn't looking, Hannibal picked up Face's plate and dumped the rest of its contents on his own. "Make sure you eat lunch," he whispered in Face's ear before kissing him on the cheek.
Reaching up, Face placed his hand on the back of the older man's neck to keep him from rising up. "I love you," Face whispered back.
"I know." Hannibal smiled as he kissed the younger man again.
"All right you two, either break it up or go to the bedroom." Elizabeth laughed as she moved over to the table. Looking down at Face's plate, her smile widened as she picked it up. "Told you breakfast wasn't that bad, tomorrow Ill fix you a big stack of blueberry pancakes," she announced as she moved back to the sink.
"Hannibal," Face moaned as the thought of having to eat anything in the morning turned his stomach.
"I'll talk to her kid." Hannibal laughed as he kissed Face's forehead before moving to the door. "See you in a few hours, if you need anything, you call me, understand."
"Yes sir." Face snapped off a quick salute.
Face wasn't sure exactly what his lover said as he left the room, but he knew for sure he heard the words "smart ass kid" Laughing, he turned back around to look at Elizabeth. "Is there anything I can help you with?" he asked.
"Not a thing darling." She smiled back at him.
"I could dry." Face started to stand.
"Now sit back down, I'll put them in the rack and they can dry themselves, but I'll tell you what, if you like, you can help me with the cookies."
"Sure." Face smiled. "But I'll warn you now, I'm a terrible cook. Your brother accuses me of trying to poison him."
"Sounds like John," Elizabeth grabbed a large mixing bowl out of a cabinet along with several other ingredients. "But if he's willing to cook, you let him. Momma taught him everything he knows."
"Really?" Face's eyebrow went up.
"Lord yes, David, our older brother, was rough and tumble, well so was John, and the two would constantly get into it. They got along as well as oil and water. I don't think there was a day that went by that the two of them didn't try to kill each other. So to keep the peace, Daddy would take David out in the fields with him, and Momma would keep John here at the house. The three of us would bake up a storm, has he ever made you his apple pie?"
"Not that I can remember."
"Oh if he made it for you, you'd remember, trust me, and his peach cobbler, oh!" Elizabeth raised her hand to her forehead in a mock faint. "You just wait till I see him; he should be ashamed for not fixing them for you."
"It's alright, I have to watch my weight."
"Watch your weight, Face, if you get any smaller you'll blow away," Elizabeth scoffed. "What do you weigh, 150 soaking wet?"
"Normal for me is about 165." Face shrugged.
Realizing she had bothered him, she moved to sit across from him.
"What do you weigh now?"
"I'm back up to 148." Face dropped his eyes. "I try, but I just can't seem to put any back on."
Elizabeth looked at the young man sitting in front of her; he looked so frail, even though she had seen that he was a lot stronger than he looked. "It's alright Face." Reaching over she squeezed his hand. "You don't worry about a thing; while you're here, I'll do everything I can to help."
"Thank you Elizabeth, but you don't have to worry about
"It's not worry, its love, I care about you, and if I can help you in any way, I'll do it." Elizabeth squeezed Face's hand again "Now what do you say we get those cookies made before the boys come back?"
About noon, Elizabeth hustled Face out of the kitchen and into the living room, gently forcing him into the couch by the fire with a blanket wrapped over his legs.
"Give me half an hour to get the kitchen cleaned up and I'll show you some photo's that will make John blush."
"You sure you don't want any help?" he asked as he looked up at her.
"No, you rest, I'll be right back."
When she left, Face leaned back in the sofa and closed his eyes. He thought of how nice it must have been for his lover to grow up in this house, full of love and warmth. There were times he wished his own life could have been like this, but then he reminded himself, if his life had been like Hannibal's, the two might have never met. No, Face thought, as much as he had wanted a family, he wouldn't trade any of it for his life with Hannibal and the team.
Even though he had only been dozing, Face still jumped at the sound of his name.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Elizabeth apologized.
"No, it's alright." Face sat up on the couch, he was glad to see that Hannibal's sister was standing well out of his reach. "I'm like that most of the time."
"You're always this jumpy?"
"I'm not too bad at home, but yeah, I guess you can say the Army trained me to be ready to go."
Elizabeth nodded her head in understanding, but Face could tell she still wanted him to comment more. He was thankful when she didn't ask.
"I have some of the family photo albums; I thought you might want to see John as a boy."
"Oh would I ever." Face smiled up at her.
For a brief moment, Elizabeth's breath caught in her throat. If she hadn't been a married woman, her younger brother would have a fight on his hands for this one. Taking a deep breath to get her hormones under control, she sat down next to Face.
As they flipped through the albums Face couldn't help but notice how cute Hannibal was as a child. Even though the photos were in black and white, his lover's blue eyes still shone through with intensity.
"This one was taken right after he came back on his first leave from the Army." Elizabeth pointed to one.
"He's just as good looking now as he was then," Face commented.
"Now you wouldn't be a little bias would you?" Elizabeth laughed at him
"Me?" Face gave her an innocent look. "No, never."
As they went through the photos, he noticed that in most of them Hannibal was in them by himself or with a family member.
"Don't you have any of him with a girlfriend?" Face asked. "I'd love to see what his old flames looked like."
"I just have one." Flipping the book to the end, Beth pulled out a photo of Hannibal and a young woman leaning against a car. "This is John and Edith Harris; oh she loved him so much it was almost unbearable to watch. She would follow him everywhere just like a lost puppy."
"So what happen?"
"John went away to West Point and never looked back. I think even back then we all knew he wasn't the marrying type…" Elizabeth looked over at Face. "If you know what I mean."
Face smiled and nodded. "Let me guess, as far as the family was concerned, he just hadn't found the right woman."
"I'd say the right man." Elizabeth returned his smile as she squeezed his hand. "But you're right, we didn't discuss those things back then, and John never made us question his sexuality; I mean he had plenty of girls hanging off of him. As far as everyone was concerned, he just had a wild streak and he wasn't ready to settle down. Mom use to say he had a tiger by the tail, and one of these days it would catch up with him. I always said he was the tiger and someone would catch him."
Elizabeth chuckled when Face blushed.
"So what happened to Edith?"
"She married our older bother David; they had a girl together, though their marriage only lasted a few years. I don't think she ever got over John. Needless to say that things are tense when David and John are in the same room. "
"Thanks for the warning."
"You don't worry about a thing, if David starts to become a prick, I'll toss his ass out." Elizabeth squeezed Face's hand again. "The two have never gotten along, and to be honest, I'm glad that my little brother has someone in his life."
"Thanks for having me in your family."
The two of them continued talking for another couple of hours before Elizabeth noticed that Face was fighting to keep from yawning.
"Good Lord, why didn't you tell me you were getting tired. You should have said something."
"No, I'm alright." Face smiled, and then covered his mouth with his hand as he fought off another yawn.
"Uh huh." Elizabeth shook her head; she was amazed how much the younger man was like her brother. "Why don't you lie down on the couch and take a nap, I'm sure the others will be back in an hour or so."
"You know, I think I like that idea." Face nodded as he moved his legs up onto the couch.
"If you need anything, you just yell." Elizabeth moved to cover him up with a blanket.
"Thanks for everything." Face smiled up at her.
"You're more than welcome." Elizabeth leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.
It was only a matter of minutes before Face was fast asleep.
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