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Self-Destructive

By Jullian Gray

NC-17

Summary: Hannibal brings a new Lieutenant "Peck" into the unit and gets way more than he bargained for.
Warning : Language, sex, violence, death, (not a major character) attempted suicide, attempted rape, mental disorder *** The characters are dark in this story, and we meet "Peck" for the first time.

Spoilers: Nothing Else Matters
Special Thanks to Elizabeth, Pat and Shee for making this readable for everyone else.

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=jbHn1Pgj6Zk


Animal I've Become
By Three Days Grace

I can't escape this hell, so many times I've tried, but I'm still caged inside,
Somebody get me through this nightmare, I can't control myself

So what if you can see, the darkest side of me, no one will ever
change this animal I have become, help me believe it's not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal, this animal, this animal

I can't escape myself, so many times I've lied, but there's still rage inside,
Somebody get me through this nightmare, I can't control myself

So what if you can see, the darkest side of me, no one will ever
change this animal I have become, help me believe it's not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal, I have become, help me believe
it's not the real me, somebody help me tame this animal

Somebody help me through this nightmare, I can't control my self,
somebody wake me from this nightmare, I can't escape this hell

This animal, this animal, this animal, this animal, this animal, this
animal, this animal…

So what if you can see, the darkest side of me, no one will ever
change this animal I have become, help me believe it's not the real
me, somebody help me tame this animal I have become, help me believe
it's not the real me, somebody help me tame this animal…

This animal I have become

                                                            **********

"Where the hell does he think he's going?"

"Peck, that's a restricted area!  Pilots and ground crew only!"

"Hey, Peck, I'm talking to you!"

"Where's he going?"

"What the hell?"

"Son of a bitch! Grab him before he kills the captain!"

"He's going to kill him! Grab him!"

***

Several Weeks later


"So, you found our new supply officer, right?" Ray asked Hannibal as he leaned back against the colonel's file cabinet.

"Yes," Hannibal answered as he continued to read over the mountain of paperwork that was cluttering his desk.

"Hear he's the best," BA growled from his chair.

"He is."

Ray and BA exchanged glances with each other, then looked down at their Colonel.

"Oh, no," Ray groaned as he put his head in his hands. "Not another one! Hannibal, you can't do this to me.  You can't stick me in with another, like…like…"

"Like what?" BA growled, as he looked over at Ray, his hands automatically balling into fists.

"Oh, get over it, man.  You know damn well what I'm talking about. You wanted to fight every day, punch every officer you could find in the face. Don't even pretend to act innocent!" Ray stated as he rolled his eyes before looking back at Hannibal. "Come on, Colonel, what's wrong with this one?"

Hannibal set down the paper he was reading. He rolled his shoulders before looking up at his men. "You might say he has self-destructive tendencies." An evil smile crossed his lips as his eyes began to gleam.

"Oh, man, we're in trouble," BA groaned.

***

"I'm telling you, Smith; this one is trouble with a capital T. If you know what's good for your unit, you'll leave this one here to rot."

"Thank you for your advice, sir, but if I remember, you said the same thing about Sergeant Baracus."

"This one makes Baracus look like a pussy cat."

"So he likes to throw punches, huh?" Hannibal picked up the file on his soon-to-be new supply officer.

"Yeah, he can throw them with the best, all right.  Not to mention he has a mouth on him that would make a Marine
drill-sergeant blush."

"I'm not worried about his mouth as long as he can get the job done."

"Have it your way, Smith. If you want him, he's yours, but let me tell you, I think you're making one hell of a mistake."

"Noted, sir." Hannibal smiled as he stood up.

***

"General Morrison said you're actually taking this scumbag, Colonel?" the guard asked Hannibal as they made their way down the stockade's interior holding area toward the isolation cells.

"Yes, Corporal Barnes, I am."

"You have read this guy's files, sir?"

"Yes, I have."

"And you still want him?"

"Yes, I do." Hannibal smiled over at the Corporal, a smile that caused a shiver to run down the other man's spine.

A few minutes later they arrived outside an isolation cell. "Here he is, sir." The guard motioned toward the locked door.

"Open it up."

"Yes, sir."

"On your feet, Peck!" Corporal Barnes yelled as he opened the door and banged it with his nightstick.

"Fuck off, Barnes," a voice growled from the bunk.

"I said move it, Peck." Barnes moved further into the cell, his nightstick ready.

"Last time I looked, I had a few more bars than you, and until the court-martial, I still outrank you, so fuck off, bitch!" the man on the cot snapped, still not bothering to look over at the door.

Hannibal smiled as he watched the guard turn red.

"You sorry little son of a bitch!" The corporal started to advance on the man in the bunk, but stopped when Hannibal put his hand on his arm, restraining him.

"Last time I looked, soldier, my bird outranked your bars. Now get on your feet!" Hannibal commanded.

Slowly, the man on the bunk rose to stand in front of the Colonel. Hannibal took a sharp breath as he took in the young man now standing before him. Peck's photo did not do him justice; the younger man was beautiful. Not just handsome, but beautiful. His hair was light blonde, though longer than it should have been. His eyes were a bright blue-green. They were clear and sharp, hard; his face was that of an angel, his body lean, thin, and well toned.

"You see something you like?" the young man glared back at him, his eyes narrowing.

"How old are you, Lieutenant?" Hannibal ignored the blonde's glare as he moved to stand closer to him.

"If you read my file, then you should know it."

Yes, he had read the young man's file, but he didn't believe that the boy standing before him was anywhere near his twenties. "I want to hear you say it, Lieutenant."

Peck studied the Colonel standing before him for a minute. The older man seemed to have an air of authority about him, and authority was something that Peck had a major problem with.

"Screw you." Peck thrust his jaw out in defiance.

"You mouthy little son of a bitch!" Barnes started towards the lieutenant, his nightstick raised and ready to strike.

"Leave us." Hannibal grabbed Barnes before he could hit the blonde.

"Colonel Smith, you don't know what he's capable of."

"Well, then, that makes two of us, because he doesn't know what I can do, either." Hannibal turned his cold blue eyes on the blonde. "Now leave us, Corporal."

"Yes, sir." Barnes looked over at Peck, then back to the Colonel. For the first time since Peck had gotten to the stockade, he almost felt sorry for him.

"Now, Lieutenant, I asked you a question."

"You asked a question? I don't seem to recall."

"Don't make me repeat myself, boy."

Peck continued to study the Colonel. The other man had balls, he would give him that. It was rare that anyone stayed alone in the cell without being armed. But this still wasn't enough to truly impress Peck. "I did answer your question," Peck smiled. "I believe the answer was `screw you.'"

Before Peck could react, Hannibal stepped forward with lightning-fast speed and slapped the Lieutenant hard across the face. The force of the blow knocked the younger man backwards against the cell wall.

The blow shocked Peck, but only for a second. He was instantly on his feet and back in the Colonel's face. "You bastard, I should..." the younger man started to yell, but before he could finish, Hannibal smacked him again, this blow harder than the first, knocking the blonde off his feet.

Hannibal moved to stand over the fallen man. "That's screw you, sir."

"Bastard," Peck mumbled as he tried to get to his feet, only to be shoved back down.

"I didn't hear your answer to my question, Lieutenant."

"Twenty-four. " Peck growled as he tried to get back up. He was almost upright when Hannibal grabbed him by the front of his shirt and slammed him into the wall before pinning him against it, his face only an inch from the smaller man's.

"I hate a liar, Peck.  Got no damn use for them, except for when it comes to getting something for my unit, and you're not in my unit."

Peck, pissed off like he hadn't been pissed off in a long time, still managed to keep his cool. It was one of the things that he did better than anyone around. "Fuck you, sir." A smug smile appeared on the young man's lips as he twisted the last word.

Hannibal narrowed his eyes as he looked at the other man.  He knew he should just walk away right now. Morrison was right; this one was different from BA. There was something far more dangerous about him.  Maybe it was for that reason, or for some other he didn't know, but he wanted this man for his unit. As he stared into the hard and defiant blue-green eyes, Hannibal decided he would break the young man; he would bend him to his will to make him the best lieutenant there had ever been, even if it killed both of them in the process.  He had shaped Ray and BA to be soldiers for the Army, trained them to serve their country, and he would do the same to this one He never backed down from a challenge, and this boy would be one hell of a
challenge.

Hannibal continued to stare into the blue-green eyes until Peck looked away. Reaching out, he grabbed hold of the blonde mane, pulling the younger man's head back around so they were once again looking eye to eye. "You even 18 yet, boy?" He tightened his grip when Peck tried to look away. "I'll bet your balls haven't even dropped."

"Fuck you." Peck's mouth twisted in a bitter smile. "Sir."


"You're learning, boy." Hannibal lightly patted the bruised cheek, but he still didn't release his hold on the blonde's hair. "But I'm still waiting."

"Twenty-one, sir."

The slap Peck received would have knocked him back to the floor, except the Colonel's body kept him pinned to the wall. "Liar!" Hannibal yelled. "The truth, Peck; I want the truth!"

"Get off me," Peck roared as he pushed against the older man pinning him to the wall. "You fucker; get off me!" He screamed as he tried to get out of the Colonel's grip. "You can't do this!" Peck arched his back and then yelled out when Hannibal's hand tightened in his hair, preventing him from moving. "God damn it!"

"Tell me the truth, Lieutenant." The Colonel hissed in the younger man's ear. "You want me to stop, then tell me the truth."

Peck struggled even harder against the Colonel, but it did him no good; he couldn't get out of the older man's grip. Hannibal watched the emotions that played across Peck's face as he continued to struggle for freedom: anger, hate, and finally, fear, pure unadulterated fear.

Realizing that the older man was reading his reactions, Peck closed down on his emotions, making his face a blank mask. "I'm not fucking afraid of you!" he spat.

"You're lying. You're scared shitless." Hannibal felt a smile tug at the corners of his mouth. "But you don't have to be. All I want is the truth; you give me that, and all this stops."

Peck made a terrible sound, a low awful cry as he made one more last-ditch effort to get away. When he couldn't break free, he went completely limp in the Colonel's grip. "Seventeen," Peck said in a choked voice. "I'm seventeen."

Hannibal stared deep into the blue-green eyes.  Satisfied that he was being told the truth, he began to relax his grip. "Was it so bad," he shook his head, "that you have to make it this hard? Just tell me what I want to know; that's all I'm asking." He smiled as he released his hold on Peck, gently patting the boy's cheek before moving to stand by the cell door.

"You're leaving me here, aren't you?" the teen looked over at him, and Hannibal noted for the first time since he had walked into the cell that the boy looked his true age.

"No, kid, I'm not leaving you, but by the time I'm done with you, you'll wish I had." Hannibal looked down at his watch. "I have to sign for your release to me. I'll be back in ten minutes. Be ready."


With that, the Colonel left the cell, sealing the younger man's fate forever.

Corporal Barnes waited until the Colonel made his way down the hall before he reentered the Lieutenant's cell.

"Looks like you got a new friend, Peck," Barnes sneered as he tapped the cell wall with his nightstick. "You know, I'm going to miss our time together."

"Fuck you." Peck moved back to the far side of the cell, making sure to give himself enough room to strike if the Corporal advanced on him.

"That pretty tan ass in the showers all soaped up."

"Shut up!" Peck snarled.

"How about one for the road?" Barnes sneered as he advanced on the smaller man. "Just a quick blow before you leave." With that the Corporal, swung the nightstick into Peck's side. To his surprise, the blonde didn't back down. He grabbed the stick with both hands as jerked it from the other man's hands. Instantly, Barnes backed away as Peck advanced on him with the club.

"I should bash your brains in for all the grief you've caused me," Peck growled as he backed the Corporal into the corner. He raised the nightstick above his head and started to bring it down hard. Just an instant before he would have crushed the Corporal's skull, he stopped his downward swing. "But you're not worth the effort." Peck threw the nightstick on the bunk. "Now get out before I change my mind."

***
Lieutenant Templeton Peck stared over at his new Colonel. He still couldn't believe that Smith had gotten him out of his court-martial and had taken him into his unit. No one wanted him. He was a troublemaker, Sure, he could do his job; hell, he could do it better than anyone he had ever met, but that didn't matter to most when they read his record, especially his last offence.

As they drove down the road, Hannibal began to run some numbers through his head, and he didn't like how they were coming out. If Peck had just turned seventeen, yet he just started his second tour, and at his current rank…"How in the hell did you get to be an officer in the Special Forces at sixteen?" Smith asked him as he guided the jeep down a narrow dirt road.

Peck thought about telling the Colonel it was none of his damn business, but stopped when he remembered the earlier encounter with the older man.

"My recruiter didn't give a shit how old I was, that's how I got in. Then, at basic training, they got my grades from my college classes."

"College." Hannibal scowled. "Bullshit, you lying little son of a bitch." Hannibal reached out to grab the blonde's fatigues, shaking him. "Now stop lying to me!"

"God damn it, that's enough!" the blonde screamed. "I've fucking had it up to here…"

Hannibal slammed on the brakes, causing Peck to crash into the dashboard, then fall back into his seat. Before the jeep had come to a complete stop, the Colonel jumped out, marched over to the other side, and pulled Peck out.

"You're right, it is enough. I know what your file says, and I don't believe word of it!" he yelled in the younger man's face. "Now I want to know how a smart-ass little bastard like you got into my beloved Army!"

"Because your beloved Army doesn't give a fuck as long as it has warm bodies to ship to this God-forsaken hell-hole! And if you lay your hands on me one more…"

"I'll beat the holy hell out of you if you lie to me again!" Hannibal raged as he slammed the smaller man against the side of the jeep.

"I didn't lie to you! I was a freshman in college when I signed up!"

"At sixteen! Bullshit!" Hannibal raised his hand to grab the younger man by the jaw, but Peck was ready for him. He grabbed the Colonel by the wrist. Using Hannibal's body weight against him, Peck managed to twist around and get free of the older man's grip. He backed up a few steps before Hannibal recovered.

"I'm telling you the truth! I was raised in a Catholic orphanage all my life! It's not like living in a regular home. You can only do two things, study or pray, and I gave up praying years ago!"

"You expect me to believe that!" Hannibal growled.

"I don't give a shit what you believe, but it's the truth, sir!" Peck spit the last word out like it was a vile thing.

Hannibal stared at the smaller man for a few minutes; he could see the anger and hate coming off Peck in waves. "You want a piece of me, don't you, Lieutenant?" Hannibal smiled as the younger man continued to glare at him.

"You have no idea, sir." Peck growled back at him.

"Come on, boy; take your best shot."

"I hit you, you send me back to the stockade."

"Tell me: are all your evaluation scores from the Green Berets bullshit, too?"

Peck balled his hands into fists, took a step forward, then stopped. "Fuck you! I've got nothing to prove to you!" he snarled, then he dropped his hands to his side. "So either let's go to the base or take me back. I don't give a shit." That said, the blonde took a cigarette out of his front pocket and lit it with a silver Zippo lighter. He leaned back against the side of the jeep and regarded Hannibal with as much interest as someone might a piece of dog crap.

"Think you've got it all figured out, don't you?" the Colonel asked as he made his way to stand back in front of the blonde.

"You know how I see it, Colonel? I rot in prison, or I get killed in the jungle. I really don't give a damn what happens," Peck shot back.

Before Peck could take another drag of his cigarette, Hannibal knocked it out of his mouth. "You won't smoke in my unit."

"That's what you think." Peck started to open his shirt pocket to pull out another cigarette.

Seeing that Peck was going to defy him again, Hannibal grabbed the teen by the front of the shirt and shoved him to the ground. As Peck fell, the Colonel went down with him, using his own body weight to pin the smaller man to the dirt road. "You belong to me while you are in my unit, and what I say goes, do you hear me?" Hannibal snapped. "I own you, boy, body and soul. You are mine, and you will do as you are told while you are under my command!"

Peck stared up at the older man, his face in complete shock. It was rare that anyone got the better of him, and this man had done it twice in less than an hour. Why did the older man have him so off-balance?

"What do you want, Colonel?" he asked as he stared up into the bright blue eyes looking down at him. Suddenly Peck knew. It was what they all wanted from him; this man was no different than any of the others.

Hannibal watched as the shocked look on the youth's face turned into a cold hard smile.

"You want to fuck me?" Peck gave a sharp laugh than made Hannibal cringe. "Is that it, Colonel? You saw my photo, like everyone else, and now you want your turn?"

Yes, he had found the young man handsome and felt an instant attraction to him, but he didn't think it showed. Noting that Peck was studying him, he tried to deny his feelings. "You little whore. I got you out of the stockade because I thought you would be an asset to my unit…"

"Now who's lying?" Peck laughed a bitter laugh at him.

 Hannibal realized that if he wanted the boy to tell him the truth, then he needed to do the same.

"Fine. You want the truth, Peck? I think you're beautiful. You are most likely the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life, and yes, I would love to have you in my bed," Hannibal admitted, then he shot Peck down. "But you have a problem with authority that needs to be taken care of before I go any further with you on any type of personal level."

"And you think you're man enough to correct my problem?" Peck raised his eyebrows "Hell, for that matter, Colonel, do you think you're man enough to take me in any way that I don't want you to?"

Never one to back down from a challenge, Hannibal decided to show the younger man who was in charge. "More than." With that, he grabbed the blonde's hair and forced a brutal kiss on the smaller man's lips. He was a little taken aback when Peck opened his mouth and allowed him
to invade it with his tongue.

Then, without warning, Peck moved his body hard and fast to the left. He brought his knee up, only missing the colonel's crotch by a fraction of an inch, his right hand coming up in a fist to hit the older man in the jaw.

Though he was caught off-guard, Hannibal's body responded to his years of training. He grabbed Peck by the throat with his left hand, cutting off his air, while bringing his own right hand down to hit the smaller man in the ribs. To his surprise, Peck didn't move to protect his midsection. Instead, he swung at the Colonel's head again, forcing the older man to let go of his throat to deflect the blow. Peck followed this with a left to the older man's body; he managed to get another two blows in before Hannibal grabbed his wrist. Realizing that he was about to be pinned to the ground, Peck swung his right arm as he twisted his lower body, trying to throw the older man off of him, but Smith outweighed him and the Colonel dropped his full weight down on the younger man's stomach, knocking the breath out of him. As the breath whooshed out of Peck's lungs, Smith managed to grab the man's other wrist. As he secured Peck's wrists, he noticed the younger man's handsome face contorting in anger and rage.

"Get off of me!" Peck screamed as soon as he got his breath back.

"You know, Lieutenant, you're even more beautiful when you're angry," Hannibal laughed as the younger man's face turned red and he struggled harder. Hannibal tightened his grip when Peck almost managed to get himself free. He had to admit that, even though the teen was small, he was extremely strong for his size. After what seemed like an eternity, Peck gave up his struggles, his body going completely limp.

"Take it," Peck spat, though his voice seemed to have lost its strength. "You won't be the first."

Hannibal was completely shocked by the young man's statement, so shocked that he almost let go, but something in his brain made him hold on as he saw an opportunity to teach the kid a lesson he wouldn't soon forget.

"You may be right." Hannibal stared down at the younger man's eyes. As he looked into their blue-green depths, he could see the fear in them. Leaning forward Hannibal placed a gentle kiss on the younger man's lips. "But if I decide that I want a relationship with you, I will be the last." When he pulled back, he chuckled at the smaller man's surprised expression. "I told you, Lieutenant, you belong to me and my unit now. I own you, and the sooner you get that through your head, the better off you're going to be." Hannibal waited for a smart-ass remark or for the blonde to continue his struggle, but to his surprise, Peck stayed perfectly still.

"Now, I'm going to let you up. When I do, I want you to get in the jeep. Understand, Lieutenant?"

"Yes."

A wicked smile lit the Colonel's lips as he stared down at the young man. "Yes, what?"

"Yes, sir."

Hannibal chuckled as he let go of his Lieutenant and stood up. Reaching down, he extended his hand back to the younger man, who, after a brief second, accepted it. The next few seconds were a complete blur to him. One minute he was pulling his Lieutenant off the ground, the next he was lying flat on his back with the younger man pinning him down.  Peck was straddling him, the younger man's knees pinning his wrists to the ground. One of the blonde's hands was on his throat while the other was twisted in his hair.

"Let's get two things straight, Colonel Smith," Peck snarled. "First, I'm not a whore. I have never given myself to anyone, and I don't belong to anybody." Peck tightened his grip on Smith's
throat. "Second, I was top in my graduating class for Special Forces. Those are MY scores in my file; they are not forged!" That said, Peck let go of the Colonel's hair and throat before leaning
back so he could reach into his pants pocket to pull out his lighter. Once he had retrieved it
, he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He took a long deep drag before returning his cold, hard, blue-
green eyes to the man below him. "Now, as I see it, you have a few choices. When I let you up, you can try and kill me, send me back to the stockade, or we can go on our merry way. I don't give a shit which." Peck took another long draw off his cigarette before pitching
it away, then in one fluid movement he got off the Colonel.

Hannibal looked up at the younger man, still not believing that the blonde had managed to blindside him the way he had. Slowly, a smile crept across his face. "Can you get my supplies as well as you can defend yourself and run that smart-ass mouth of yours?"

"I'm the best there is, sir." Peck flashed a smile that made the Colonel's heart speed up.

"Then help me up so we can get going."

"With all due respect, I'm not going to fall for that." Peck's smile widened.

"So you're not going to help an old man off the ground."

"You may be a lot of things, Colonel Smith, but a helpless old man isn't one of them," Peck chuckled as he pulled out another cigarette out of his breast pocket.

Standing up, Hannibal knocked the dust and dirt off of his fatigues while he watched Peck light his smoke, Zippo flashing in the afternoon sun. "I wasn't playing with you about the cigarettes, kid; you're going to quit."

"Tell you what, Colonel.  You find someone big enough to take them away from me, and I'll quit."


***

"They're here!" Ray called out as the Colonel's jeep made its way back onto the base.

BA climbed out from under the jeep he was working on to look at the two men as the vehicle approached.

"Looks like a pretty boy," BA growled as he wiped his hand on a worn-out shop towel.

"Now, BA, just because he looks a little young doesn't mean he doesn't know what he's doing."

"Means he's some college boy who ain't never seen a day of combat." BA threw the shop towel in the jeep's seat. "Means I'm going to have to pack his dead ass back through the jungle so he can be shipped back to his mommy."

Ray thought about correcting BA, but he couldn't.  It always happened. The young ones just didn't make it long. They all seemed to think that this was one big game, some great adventure to tell their friends back home. They all seemed to find out the hard way that Charlie wasn't playing and this great adventure was for keeps.

A few seconds, later the jeep pulled up beside them, and the Colonel and their new Lieutenant got out.

Ray had to agree: this one was a pretty boy, all right.  The boy was damn near angelic in his looks, but there was something else about him. A hardness in the blue-green eyes that seemed to tell Brenner that this young man had seen things that he shouldn't have for his age.

"Ray, BA, I'd like to introduce you to our new supply officer, Lieutenant Peck."

Ray held out his hand to shake the Lieutenant's hand
, while BA just growled at him. Ray was expecting Peck to jump back, like most of the young ones did, but Peck didn't budge. He stared the bigger man up and down before reaching into his pocket. Peck pulled out a cigarette and lit
it, never once taking his eyes off BA. After a few seconds, he turned his back to both of them so he could look at the Colonel. Ray realized with a cold shudder that the young man had just sized up
their sergeant, and decided he wasn't a threat.

"I suppose this piss-poor excuse for a camp has a supply office?" Peck asked as he scanned the camp.

"Yeah, it's over there behind the mess hall." Ray pointed it
out.

"If you need me, Colonel, I'll be there."

"You want to find out where you're bunking, Lieutenant?" Hannibal asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I'll find it," Peck commented as he picked his bag up out of the back of the jeep. "I'm sure it won't be that hard." With that, he turned his back on all of them and started toward the supply office.

"He sure is a cocky little son of a bitch," Ray commented to Hannibal as they watched the blonde walk across the compound. "I would have thought you'd have adjusted his attitude by now."

"We had a pretty in-depth conversation." Hannibal rubbed his throat.

"You mean to tell me that he took you down? Come on, Hannibal, you took out BA in five minutes."

"I could take him," BA grumbled.

"I don't think so. He may not look like much, but he's a quick little son of a bitch."

"Don't care how quick he is." BA flexed his arms, causing the muscles to pop out.

"Tell you what BA; I want him to quit smoking." A smile appeared on Hannibal's lips. "He's got a silver Zippo. You get that from him, and I'll give you a two day pass in Saigon."

"You kiddin' me, Hannibal?" BA looked at the Colonel in complete shock. "All I got to do is get his lighter away from him?"

"That, and don't complain to me about the injuries you receive trying to take it away."

"See you in ten minutes," BA chuckled as he walked across the compound after Peck.

Once Baracus was out of earshot, Ray turned back to Hannibal. "You set him up."

"I think our Sergeant needs to learn to respect our new Lieutenant, and this is going to be one hell of an eye-opener for him."

"You really think he's going to get the better of BA?"

"Ray, I had him down on his back, pinned to the ground, and he listened to every word I said, but the second he saw an opening, that kid had me flat in less than three seconds." Hannibal shook his head. "His file says he has limited combat experience, but I'm not buying it. That boy has seen a lot of action."

*****

BA smiled as he looked at the slim blonde-haired man standing with his back to him, facing the supply shelves, shaking his head. How the Colonel could even begin to think that this skinny little runt could whip him was beyond belief. As he approached, he noticed that the Lieutenant's posture changed, indicating that the other man knew he was there. Deciding the he wasn't going to take Peck by surprise, he went for the direct approach.

"Colonel says you smoke."

Peck turned to look the big man up and down. "Yeah; you want a pack?"

"Colonel says you need to quit."

"My priest said that, too." Peck reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette. As he stuck it in his mouth with one hand, the other pulled out the silver lighter. "I didn't quit for him, either." With that the lighter flashed to life, igniting the end of the cigarette. Once it was lit, the blonde leaned back against the shelving. "Now, do you want something, or are you here to discuss my bad habits?"

"The Colonel says you going to quit."

"Yeah, I got that already." Peck inhaled again. "But since that isn't going to happen, you're wasting your breath and my time."

"I say you're going to quit now," BA growled as he took a step toward the smaller man.

Baracus had expected Peck to back down; instead, he only laughed. "I don't think so, big guy." The blonde took another draw off the cigarette and blew it out in BA's direction. "In fact, you need to leave before you get hurt."

The big Sergeant's anger instantly rose to the surface. He yelled as he charged Peck, but just before he was able to slam the other man back into the shelving, the blonde moved to the side. BA tried to recover, but he was moving too fast and slammed into the shelves. He tried to regain his balance, but before he could move, the lieutenant slammed his foot into his side, causing him to crash to the floor. BA tried to get to his feet, but Peck was all over him, landing punches to his stomach and ribs. When he was sure that he couldn't take any more, the blonde stopped.

"I gave you a warning this time. Next time I'll hurt you." That being said, Peck dropped his smoked cigarette beside BA's head before snuffing it out with his foot; he then grabbed a clipboard off a shelf and left the supply office.

***

"Colonel, you've got to come see this," Ray called out to Hannibal, who was in his quarters changing clothes.

Emerging from the tent, he noticed Ray pointing across the compound.  As he followed the other man's finger, he saw his new Lieutenant walking across the base, clipboard in hand and a lit cigarette hanging from the side of his mouth.

"Son of a bitch! I didn't think BA could get them away from him."

"Colonel, why don't you just order him to stop?"

"I did." Hannibal laughed. "Besides you know as well as I do there is no regulation against a man smoking. Hell, the Army supplies the damn things."

"No offense, but I don't see what the big deal is. He's here to fight for his country; let him smoke."

Hannibal looked at Ray. "Because I don't want him smoking them, that's the big
deal."

"No problem, sir." Ray held up his hands in surrender.

Hannibal turned his gaze back to the blonde. What he didn't tell Ray was this really had nothing to do with the blonde smoking. What the problem was that he wanted Peck to follow his orders, to do what he told him to do and when.  The cigarettes were just a way for the
young man to defy him.

"Hey, Colonel, you think we should find BA?"

"Probably not a bad idea," Hannibal sighed.

***
Hannibal sighed as he looked around the room at his men. BA was currently sporting a split lip and a swollen jaw, Ray had a black eye, and Peck… Hannibal sighed again as he looked at the young man.


His Lieutenant was currently leaning against the wall with a cigarette in his mouth and a shit- eating grin on his perfect lips.  And to top it all off, there wasn't a mark on him.

For over a week his entire team, himself included, had tried to get the smokes away from the teen, and each one of them had failed. He had tried reasoning without any success. BA has tried brute force on several different occasions and come away the worse for wear, while Ray had tried a mixture of both without any luck, either. Yesterday, Hannibal had decided to call it quits on getting the lighter; it just wasn't worth the havoc Peck could wreak anymore.

"All right, guys, that's everything I've got." Hannibal looked at each man again. "Does anyone have anything else to add?"

"Yeah, I think your plan sucks," Peck stated as he blew out a cloud of smoke.

"Oh, really, and why is that?"

"Well, let's start with the fact you have Baracus taking point…"

"And what's wrong with that?" BA growled as he turned to look at the Lieutenant.

"Because you're about as quiet as a bull in a china shop. I can hear you coming for a mile, and I know if I can hear you, Charlie sure as hell has no problem spotting you."

"Yeah, well, what makes you such an expert?" BA yelled as he stood up, knocking his chair over.

"Because I was my unit's sniper; it was my job to be quiet." Peck glared at the big man. "Not to mention I have more time and combat missions than you."

"You're full of…"

"He's right, BA." Hannibal moved to put his hand on the big man's shoulder. "Our Lieutenant just started his second tour two months ago."

"There's no way…" Ray whispered as he looked over at Peck. He was just a kid. How was it possible that he had already spent a year in this hellhole, not to mention signing up for a second?

"All right, kid, I'll give you your first argument, so who do you suggest takes point?"

"I think that's pretty obvious, Colonel."

"You?"

"Why not?" Peck shrugged as he put out his cigarette only to light another one.

"When was the last time you saw action?"

"Before you dragged me out of the stockade, I had come back in with the 101st. I'd been out in the field for three weeks."

"So you were assigned to them?"

"Not officially."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Hannibal raised his eyebrow.

A smile tugged at the corners of Peck's lips. "I could tell you, Colonel, but then I'd have to kill you."

"Where were you officially?"

"My records say Saigon, but you know what they say." Peck took another draw off this cigarette. "Paper will let you write anything on it."

Hannibal stared at Peck for a few minutes. He wanted to call the young man a liar, but he knew Peck was telling the truth. He had read over Peck's official file again, but there were too many holes in it. Dates and times just didn't always add up. He had already made some calls to a few friends he had at the Pentagon, and hopefully he would have his Lieutenant's complete, unadulterated file.

"All right, Lieutenant, your concern has been noted. Anything else you don't like?"

"Yeah, there is. How about you reconsider your night drop to predawn..."

Five hours later, the team broke up from their briefing with a new plan of attack for their next mission.

***

Peck slumped against the back wall in the Huey as the rest of the team piled in. They were all tired, and dirty, but he was the only one covered from head to toe in blood. Peck reached a shaking hand into his front pocket and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it with his lighter and took a deep draw before resting his head against the bulkhead. The mission had been a success, but it had taken a lot more out of him than he had imagined.

***

"Damn it, why don't you make some more fucking noise?" Peck snapped soldier behind him.

"I'm sorry, Lieutenant!" The private practically yelled back as he snapped off a salute.

"God damn it, why don't you just fucking shoot me in the back yourself? Don't ever salute me out here. A gook sees you salute me, and it's my head he tries to blow off, you understand?" Taking a deep breath, Peck closed his eyes as he tried to calm himself down before speaking again, but it didn't work. "Go back to the Colonel. Tell him I've found the trail Charlie is using," Peck growled as he made his way farther into the jungle. "And stay on the fucking trail I made. Don't step one foot off of it."

"Yes, sir!" the other man yelled back.

"Might as well set off a fucking flare and let the gooks know exactly where we are. Fucking newbie," Peck bitched under his breath as he made his way deeper into the jungle. He had only gone a few hundred feet when Peck heard voices. He instantly dropped to the ground. Lying perfectly still, he focused all his attention on the voices. It only took Peck a few seconds to figure out that the men standing a few feet from him were a group of North Vietnamese soldiers looking for his unit. Peck was just about to start making his way back to the rest of the team when a loud explosion ripped through the jungle.

Peck shook his head, trying to clear the ringing from his ears. `Damn stupid fool,' Peck thought as his mind processed the fact that the explosion was most likely the end of the green soldier. Looking around, he noticed that the NVA were now moving toward the explosion. "Fuck!" Peck swore. He waited a few seconds for the enemy to pass; watching them go by, he counted four of them. Waiting a few more minutes, Peck slipped in behind him and followed.

The NVA only traveled a few feet before they ran into the Colonel and the rest of the unit coming up to investigate the cause of the explosion. Before the enemy could open fire on the team, Peck gave his position away.

"Colonel! Take cover!" Peck yelled at the top of his lungs as he threw a grenade to his right, catching the first soldier by complete surprise. Before the enemy could regroup themselves, the team opened fire, pinning them down. Peck took the opportunity to make his way to a new position. However, as soon as he took aim and fired, the enemy turned on him and began spraying the jungle with bullets. "Fuck!" Peck cursed as threw himself to the ground, large splinters of wood raining down on him. The team began to return fire, giving the younger man a chance to take cover again.

Peck crouched behind a tree and tried to catch his breath.  He knew he had been lucky the last two times, but he knew if he fired again he might not make it a third time. Peck pulled his knife out of his belt, a plan already forming in his mind.

Picking up a rock, the blonde hurled it as far as he could; as soon as it hit the ground the NVA began to concentrate their fire in that direction. Peck waited. As he hoped, one of the enemy moved off toward where he had thrown the rock. The blonde slowly slipped out of his hiding place and followed the soldier. He crept up silently behind the enemy, and before the NVA soldier knew what happened, Peck slit his throat. Before the warm blood had stopped flowing over his hand, Peck moved back toward the two remaining men. When he was twenty feet away, Peck dropped back down in the underbrush and began to yell in Vietnamese that he had been hit. A twisted smile crossed his lips as the third soldier came toward him. Peck called out one more time, screaming that he was dying; the other soldier came running toward him. Just as the other man was about to come up on him, Peck stood up and ran his knife into the other man's chest, catching him between the ribs, the blade going straight into his heart. Pulling the bloody knife out of the enemy, Peck silently made his way toward the last NVA soldier, who was frantically calling for his friends. Keeping himself out of sight, Peck made his way back toward the last man. He kept under cover until the last minute, when he stepped out and yelled, "You're dead!" in Vietnamese. The soldier spun and fired. Peck felt the bullet graze against his skin, but he ignored it as he slowly squeezed off his own round. The bullet caught the enemy directly between the eyes; the man was dead before he even hit the ground.

Peck dropped to he ground and took several deep breaths as the adrenalin began to leave his body. Reaching into his packet, Peck pulled out a cigarette. He had just put it in his mouth to light it when he heard his Colonel.

"Peck! Where the hell are you, Lieutenant?" Hannibal hissed as he made his way through the underbrush.

Sighing, Peck got to his feet, the unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. "Here, Colonel," he called out as the team moved closer to him.

"What the hell happened?" Hannibal asked as he looked over his blood-soaked Lieutenant. "How bad are you hit?"

"The enemy is neutralized, and we have fifteen minutes to make it to the landing zone, so I suggest we scoop up the newbie and haul ass, sir." Peck reported, his voice all business.

"What about you?" Hannibal reached out to touch the younger man, but Peck stepped back out of his reach.

"Not my blood, sir."

Hannibal studied the blonde for a few seconds, then nodded. "All right, people, let's move. We have less than fifteen minutes to get the hell out of here." Reaching out, Hannibal grabbed the unlit cigarette out of Peck's mouth. "You've still got point, Lieutenant."

Peck nodded as he picked up his rifle. "Yes, sir."

***

Hannibal moved to sit down next to the younger man as the chopper lifted off. He had been concerned about Peck since the firefight, but this was the first chance he'd had to talk to him.

"You hit anywhere, Peck?" he asked for the second time as he ran a keen eye over the blonde.

Peck, true to himself, raised the cigarette to his lips and took a draw off of it before answering. "No, Sir."

"You sure about that, son?  You're one hell of a mess."

"First, Colonel, I'm not your son, and second, I'm fine."

Hannibal looked at the teen's shaking hands, but only nodded, not wanting to get into it with the young man after everything they had already been through.

"All right, kid." Hannibal nodded as he leaned his head back against the bulkhead and closed his own eyes. "If you need to talk when we get back, you know where to find me."

Peck opened his eyes and looked at the older man.  He didn't understand why Smith was trying to be his friend. None of his other commanders tried to befriend him except…

No, he couldn't think that way.  It didn't pay to look back; it hurt too much.

 

 

***

The day of his arrival, Peck had made a list of everything he had found lacking in the camp, starting with the basics all the way up to some of the luxuries he felt that they were all entitled to. Shortly after their return from the team's first mission, he began to fill that long list.

"I still can't believe he did it." Ray shook his head as he took another swallow of his beer. "Hell, the beer is one thing, but the basketball court and the bed.  How in the hell did he find a real bed
out here?"

"I don't know." Hannibal shook his head. "All I know was I made the comment that I would love to sleep on a real mattress, and the next thing I know I have a full-size bed."

"What was that statement he made to you when they delivered it?"

"If a General Fulbright shows up looking for it, you don't know where it came from."

Ray laughed as he took another swallow of his beer. "I hear he's working on getting an officers' club built. Heard they were going to start building it next week."

"Told you he was the best there is," Hannibal chuckled as he watched the basketball game going on across from the motor pool. His Lieutenant was currently dribbling the ball up the court while a Marine from a unit stationed at the base tried to take it away. Just one more shot and the Lieutenant had the game won. Hannibal didn't know what the stakes were, but judging by how hard the two men were playing, he was guessing they were pretty high.

Peck had started out wearing a camo shirt with a t-shirt underneath. Now he was shirtless, with sweat glistening over his tan skin. As the Colonel looked closer, he could see the bruises appearing all over his Lieutenant's chest and ribs where the two men had punched and hit
each other during their "friendly" game.

Hannibal smiled as Peck spun around the Marine for a nice easy lay-up. "Nice." Hannibal smiled as he stood up to move over to the court to congratulate the young man. The smile, however, quickly left when the Marine slammed his fist into Peck's lower back, driving the smaller man to his knees; as soon as he was on the ground, he kicked the Lieutenant in the kidneys.

"Fucking cheat," the Marine snarled. He moved to kick the blonde in the ribs, but he was knocked to the ground by BA, who had seen what was happening from his spot in the motor pool.

"Leave him alone!" BA snarled.

"He cheated." The marine tried to stand back up but BA shoved him back down. "He fouled me."

"And you played a nice clean game, right?" Hannibal asked as he moved to stand beside BA. "All of you guys back off!" Hannibal yelled as the Marines who had been watching the game from the sidelines headed over toward their fallen companion.

"Colonel Smith, I…"

"Look, son, I watched the whole thing from over there and I've got to tell you I've never seen boxing and basketball mixed together before, but you two did a hell of a job."

Hannibal glanced over at Peck, who was still on his knees, arms curled around his midsection. He noted that his Lieutenant had made no effort to move, his blonde hair hiding his face.

"Now, I don't know what kind of wager you two had on this game, but whatever it was, you lost." When the Marine tried to protest, the Colonel held up his hand to cut him off. "Now suck it up and act like a man. Call it a learning experience if you think he cheated."

Hannibal moved forward to plant his foot in the middle of the Marine's chest, pinning him to the ground. "But you lay a hand on my Lieutenant again, and I'll hurt you. Do we understand each other?" Hannibal asked as he began to put his weight on the man's chest.

"Yes, sir."

"Good." Hannibal smiled as he stepped back. "Now get out of here."

The Marine quickly scrambled to his feet and jogged over to his friends, who had gathered on the court.

"Now I'm also going to suggest that the rest of you go find something else to do, because the show here is over."

The Marines bitched and moaned, but they left the court, leaving the team alone.

When Hannibal looked over at Peck, he noticed that Ray was already kneeling beside him. The blonde was still bent over, holding his side. As Ray spoke, Peck shook his head no. Moving over to the two men, Hannibal knelt down beside Peck. "What's going on, Ray?"

"I don't know, Colonel; he won't tell me a damn thing."

"You all right, Lieutenant?"

Peck nodded his head yes, but didn't open his mouth. Realizing that this was most likely the first time he hadn't heard a smart-ass comment from the other man, he turned to look at Ray. "Told you, Hannibal; he isn't talking."

"Look at me, Peck," Hannibal ordered.

Again, the blonde just responded by shaking his head. Reaching out, Hannibal gently grabbed the young man's lower jaw and forced his head up. The blonde's face was a sickly shade of white, his forehead was covered in sweat, and his jaw was clamped shut so tight that the
Colonel would have sworn he was going to crack his teeth. As he looked at the younger man's pain-filled eyes, he felt an aching fill his heart.

"Jesus!" With his free hand, Hannibal tried to wipe the stray hair from the blonde's eyes, but Peck jerked back, his eyes now showing fear along with the pain. "Easy, I'm not going to hurt you.  I just want to help."

Hannibal watched in amazement as the pain and fear disappeared, and was instantly replaced by anger and hostility.

"Don't need your help," Peck ground out through clenched teeth.  Closing his eyes, the young man took several deep breaths before forcing himself to uncurl and climb to his feet.

The three men watched as their Lieutenant staggered over to his discarded shirt, picked it up, and pulled a pack of cigarettes out; putting one in his mouth, he reached a shaking hand into his pants and pulled out his lighter. It took him a few tries to get the cigarette lit, but when he did, he took a long slow draw off it.

Standing up, Hannibal and the rest of the team moved back over to their Lieutenant.

"All right, so you don't need my help. That's fine. Now you want to tell me why that Marine felt it necessary to try and kill you over a basketball game?"

Peck took another draw off of his smoke before pitching it way. "Most likely because he doesn't want to have to dig the new latrines."

"Wait, we got that job this month," BA grumbled.

"Not anymore."

"You got us out of it?" BA looked at Peck in amazement. "Man, you something else."

Peck smiled as he pulled out another cigarette, but before he could light it, Hannibal snagged it out of his mouth.

"I told you to quit those things."

"Make me."

Hannibal glared at the Lieutenant for a minute. Holding the cigarette for Peck to see, he broke it in half before grinding it to pieces under his feet.

"One of these days, Lieutenant, when you least expect it, that lighter is going to be mine."

A cold, hard smile crossed Peck's face as he reached into his pocket and pulled out another smoke. "Whatever you say, Colonel." He then winked at Hannibal as he pulled out the lighter, lit the cigarette, and took a long slow draw off it. "Whatever you say."

***

"Hey, Colonel, here's the files you wanted." Captain HM Murdock smiled as he bounced into the older man's office. "But I still don't know why you had to get these all the way from Washington."

"Because, Murdock, I believe the one I have is missing half its contents." Hannibal glanced up at the other man as he took the folder and began to scan through it.

"So, I hear on the grapevine that your pretty boy is going to get us a real Christmas tree this year, all the way from the States."

"Yeah, he is," Hannibal smiled. "Or that's what I heard."

"Think I might hunt him down and see if he wants to have a drink with me. Might ask him to get me a new helicopter while he's out shopping."

"Good luck, Captain," was all the Colonel said, his attention fully focused on the reports in the folder.

A few hours later, Hannibal closed the file on Peck. He was still having a hard time believing what he had just read, but if even half of it was true, it explained a lot of the younger man's attitude.
Leaning back in his chair, Hannibal scrubbed his face with his hands. No wonder the kid fought so damn hard to stay in control of himself; he couldn't blame him. Sighing, Hannibal got up, determined to set a few things straight.

Smith checked all over the camp looking for his Lieutenant and had no luck. He was just about to head back to his office when he caught the red glow from a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. Turning to investigate further, he noticed Peck was sitting on the hood of a jeep in the dark motor pool, his back resting against the windshield, his eyes upturned toward the stars.

"Penny for your thoughts," Hannibal called out softly as he approached the younger man, not wanting to startle him.

Peck turned to look at him for a brief moment before returning his gaze back to the stars. "'Fraid you wouldn't get your money's worth tonight, sir."

"Mind if I join you?"

Peck only shrugged. "Free country. Well, at least as long as we're here."

Hannibal moved to sit on an oil drum just a few feet from the jeep.


He studied the young man before him and came to realize that there was far more to the teen. That everything people saw was what Peck wanted them to see: a handsome young man, innocent and non-threatening. But now, after reading his file and what he had gone through and done, well, to say that things had changed was a great understatement. There truly was something else behind that handsome face and those boyish good looks. Someone that Hannibal wanted to know better, someone he could love.

"You ever plan on telling me about your time with your last unit?" Hannibal asked as he continued to study the blonde.

"Ah, my stint with my old SOG unit." Peck smiled, but didn't look at Smith. "Nothing much to tell."

"How was Laos?"

"'Bout the same as Cambodia." The young man glanced at Smith for a brief second, then looked away. "Hell, Colonel, you've seen one bug-infested jungle, you've seen them all."

"How about you tell me about it?"

Pitching his cigarette out toward the compound, Peck looked at his Colonel before fishing in his pocket to pull out another. "Nothing to tell: my unit went in and did its job, what was left of us came back." Peck sighed. "Now I'm with another Special Ops unit, another A-team." The young man shrugged. "End of story."

"As I read it, there was just you left the last time they sent your unit in." Hannibal leaned forward so he could see the younger man better. "What happened out there, kid?"

Peck took a draw off his cigarette and slowly let it out. "You know none of this is official, right? None of what I'm going to tell you ever officially happened."

"Yeah, I got that from the reports and all the missing pages.  That's why I'm asking you."

"My last unit was sent in on a search-and-destroy mission on the border. We had intelligence that Charlie was moving supplies in from Laos and it was our job to put a stop to it." Peck's smile widened as he looked over at Hannibal. "Which we did, and we did it with style." The Lieutenant took another draw off his smoke before leaning his head back against the jeep's windshield. "The problem was we did too damn good a job." Peck looked over at the Colonel. "You know what I mean, don't you, sir?"

Hannibal nodded. "If you do a job right the first time, they expect you to do it again and again."

"Yeah, you got it.  Only they wouldn't give us any downtime, and we started to make mistakes. Really small ones at first, but they were there. Bryan, my CO, tried to tell the bastards up top we needed downtime, that we were getting burned out, and that Charlie was catching on to us, but do you think the brass listened?" Peck's voice was rising. "Hell, no!  They just kept sending us back out. We'd come in out of the field, grab a hot shower, fresh supplies, a night's sleep if we were lucky, then back out we'd go." The Lieutenant closed his eyes and shook his head again. "At one point I didn't know if we were coming or going until I got off the slick."

"What happened on your last mission?" Hannibal asked again.

"We got fucked." Peck took another draw off the cigarette, before pitching it out into the compound. The second it was gone, he reached for another. Once it was lit, he continued. "I don't know if our intelligence was off or Charlie knew we were coming, but one thing was for sure, the bastards were waiting for us. They waited until the choppers were back in the air, then they let us have it. There wasn't one of us who wasn't hit at least twice."

When Peck went to take another draw off his smoke, Hannibal noticed the young man's hands were shaking. "Donnie took a couple of rounds right to the face; killed him right off the bat. Frank took two to the gut and two in the chest. God, how he screamed!" Peck rubbed his eyes with his hand. "He cried for his mother until he died. Bryan took one in the chest, and one in the thigh. I guess I was the lucky one; I caught one in the shoulder, and two in the right leg."

Hannibal moved from his spot on the oil drum to stand beside his Lieutenant, but he didn't interrupt. He could tell that Peck wasn't finished talking. "Bryan tried to call the choppers back, but they wouldn't land. They said the area was too hot." Peck started to laugh, but there wasn't any humor in it. "They wanted us to secure the landing zone. Can you believe that shit? We have two men dead, we're both hit, and they want us to secure the fucking landing zone. So Bryan starts screaming at them to get their asses back on the ground or he'll personally shoot them down himself." Peck took another draw off the cigarette; his hands were trembling so badly he could barely hold onto the smoke. "We held out as long as we could, but they overran us. I thought we were dead right then and there, but that would have been kind of the bastards."

When the young man stopped talking, Hannibal encouraged him to continue. "The file says you were missing for three months."

The blonde nodded but didn't say anything for a few moments. "I spent two months in a POW camp. I couldn't leave Bryan." Peck turned to look at Smith, his eyes haunted and full of pain. "I couldn't leave him." The young man swallowed hard. "I wanted to die after what they did to us, but Bryan made me promise." Peck swallowed hard again, and Hannibal could tell that he was fighting back tears. "He made me promise that, after he was gone, I'd escape." Sighing, the young man closed his eyes. "I spent another two weeks there by myself before I was able to get away."

"Can I ask how you escaped?"

Hannibal watched as a sadistic smiled formed on the blonde's perfect lips. "They underestimated me, Colonel." Peck took another draw off his cigarette. "People see me and take me at face value, a surfer boy from California. And that's just fine with me.  If that's all they think I am, then so be it; it works in my favor."

Hannibal studied the young man on the jeep. He was right. To look at the kid, that was all anyone saw: a handsome face with nothing behind it, but he knew there was more, and had to ask to see what the response would be. "Just what are you, Lieutenant?"

"A survivor, Colonel. Nothing more than that."

Hannibal looked at his Lieutenant, his mind registering everything he was hearing. "So, after you escaped, what happened?"

"It took me another couple of weeks to work my way back into Vietnam. I happened to luck out and stumble into another unit. I probably would have died if I hadn't. From there, I spent the next couple of weeks in the hospital."

"And that is when your record turns to shit."

"I had some things I had to take care of." Peck tossed the smoke into the compound, but within a matter of seconds he had another lit. "The Army just didn't approve of what I wanted to do."

"Says that you damn-near killed two Air Force pilots."

"I'd planned on it, but their crew stopped me."

Hannibal studied the blonde closely. "They were the ones who left your unit."

"If the fucking choppers had come back when we called them, Bryan would have made it!" Peck raged.

"You don't know that, kid."

"The hell I don't!" Peck snarled, his eyes blazing. "I was there, God damn it!  He died in my fucking arms!"

"Easy, Lieutenant." Hannibal held up his hands. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Peck stared at the other man for a minute before turning to look back up at the stars; he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands, making him look even more young and vulnerable. "If they had just come back, he wouldn't have had to suffer the way he did."

"What about you, kid; how badly did you suffer?" Hannibal asked as he moved closer.

"Me?" Peck laughed his humorless laugh again. "I was tainted before I ever got here.  No, they couldn't take anything from me that someone else hadn't already taken." Sighing again, the young man glanced over at Smith. "He was a hell of a CO; you'd have liked him, Colonel."


The blonde looked back at the cigarette in his hand. "He wouldn't have liked me smoking either."

"Then why do you do it?"

"Because it helped me get off the morphine when I got out of the hospital." Peck turned to look at Hannibal. "You ever been shot, Colonel?"

Hannibal shook his head no. "Been grazed a time or two, but I've never taken a direct hit."

"Well, I'll tell you now, by the time I got back to a U.S. base, I would have been happier to have died." Peck looked at the cigarette again. "Of course, the doctors were more than happy to help me forget the pain. By the time I left the hospital, I was hooked, so I had a choice: get off the shit or stay on it. I chose to get off of it." Peck took another draw off the cigarette before pitching it with the others. "Problem is: now I can't get off these things, either."

"I'd be glad to help you with that." Hannibal held out his hand for the pack of smokes.

"No direct orders or demands?" Peck looked at the other man, his eyebrow raised.

"No, kid; just one friend trying to help another quit a bad habit. If you don't want to quit, I'll understand, and I'll respect your choice."

The Lieutenant studied his CO for a few minutes. As he looked into his Colonel's eyes, he noticed something that he hadn't seen before. What, he couldn't place, but there was something very different about the intense blue gaze.

"Ah, what the hell; here." The young man handed Hannibal the pack. "Now's as good a time as any, though I'm not going to say I won't have a fresh pack in my pocket ten minutes from now."

"It's a start." Hannibal smiled at him. "The lighter too, kid."

"No." Peck shook his head as he pulled out the lighter to look at it, noting the names of his former unit scratched into it shiny metal. "I can't do that. It's all I have left of them.  It was Bryan's father's."

"Were you two lovers?" Hannibal asked. He didn't know why, but he was suddenly feeling jealous of the dead man.

"Me and Bryan? Hell, no." Peck slid off the hood of the jeep to stand in front of Hannibal. "He was married with two kids. No, Bryan was a close friend, nothing more." A smile slowly spread across the blonde's handsome face. "Besides, if I were to get involved with someone over here, I think I would prefer an older man." Reaching out, Peck slowly ran his hand across the other man's arm. "Something tells me that if I found the right person, he'd make me feel special, like I was his and no one else's."

"I think I know someone who would love to show you just how special he thought you were." Hannibal smiled as he took the blonde's face in his hand, his thumb caressing the younger man's cheek. "And if you were willing to try, that person would like to start very soon."

"I think I'd like that," Peck whispered as he leaned into the older man's touch.

Leaning forward, Hannibal tried to kiss the younger man, but the blonde quickly moved back. "Not here.  Last thing I need is to get fragged for being queer. I've got enough enemies in this camp; I don't need another reason for people to hate me. I'll meet you in your quarters in twenty minutes."

"You're always thinking, aren't you, kid?"

"That's what's kept me alive for this long." Peck smiled. "Twenty minutes." With that, he started to walk away when something suddenly occurred to Hannibal. Reaching out, he snagged Peck by the arm.

"I need to know right now: do you feel something for me, or is this just another way for you to survive?"

"Why, Colonel, do you think I'm using you?" The young man tried to laugh, but the pressure Smith applied to his arm made him stop. "You're hurting me." He looked down at the Colonel's hand, then back up at the older man's face, the blue-green eyes becoming hard and angry.

"Answer my question," Hannibal growled, but he did relax his grip a little.

Peck's body tensed for a moment, as if he was going to fight, then slumped as if it was all too much effort. "I don't know what I feel for you, Colonel." Peck turned so he could see the other man better. "Infatuation doesn't fit; it's more than that. Respect, yes, but that's not it, either." The young man reached into his shirt pocket to pull out a smoke. When he realized they weren't there, he smoothed the shirt with his hand as he sighed deeply. "I'd call it love, but I don't know what that feels like."

"Come on, Peck, you've never been in love?"

"No, sir." The statement was flat and devoid of emotion. "Lust, yes. Love, no."

"So what you're feeling isn't lust?" Hannibal raised an eyebrow.

A smile pulled across the blonde's lips. "Don't get me wrong, Colonel; you're a damn good-looking man, but…" Peck stopped and, for the first time since Hannibal had met him, he seemed to be at a loss for words.

"But you don't know how you feel," he finished softly.

"Yeah." The younger man nodded.

"You ever had a relationship with a man before?"

"I know what it's like to get fucked by a man." Peck tried to look away, but was stopped by a gentle hand on the side of his face.

Hannibal could hear the pain and anger in the young man's voice as he spoke, and when he looked into the blue-green eyes, his thoughts were confirmed.

"You've been raped."

Peck tried to look away, but the Colonel wouldn't let him go. Suddenly he was angry and he wanted to get away. He didn't need the older man's sympathy. He didn't need anyone! He had taken care of himself for years, and he could do it now, too.

"You had it right before, Colonel, I'm a whore, and all I was trying to do is con you! All right, you win and I lose, so how about we forget this conversation ever happened."

Hannibal would have believed the young man's words, but his eyes held so much pain, it made his heart ache. Again, Peck tried to turn away, jerking against Hannibal, trying to get loose. But before the young man could twist out of his grip, Hannibal pulled the smaller man tight to his body, trapping Peck's hands between them so he couldn't use them against him.

"No, kid; what you're trying to pull right now is a con."

"Let me go!" Peck struggled to get free, but the Colonel held him tighter.

"Shh, stop; be still," Hannibal whispered into the blonde's ear as he forced his head to his shoulder. "Relax, I've got you."

"I don't need you!" Peck raged as he continued to struggle.

"I think you do, I think you're tired of being frightened and alone, always having to look over your shoulder. Because you know as well as I do that someone is just waiting for the right moment to hurt you again."

"Let me go!" Peck wailed.

"Never." Hannibal tightened his embrace. "Because I need you just as much as you need me."

These words stopped Peck dead. All struggling stopped, just like a switch had been thrown. Hannibal considered loosening the embrace, but he remembered all too well the last time he had lowered his guard. Besides, he wasn't finished yet; he still had things to say, and having the young man in his arms seemed the best.

"I've come to realize that you are a very special person, someone who is so much more than a pretty face. You're someone who deserves more than just a quick roll in the hay. I know you don't know how you feel about me, and what I'm going to say may scare the hell out of
you, but I love you, kid, and I would really like the chance to show you how much I care about you." That said, Hannibal laid a gentle kiss in the blonde's hair. "Let me take care of you, protect you."

For a few seconds, the Lieutenant didn't move. He really didn't think he could if he had wanted to. One minute all he could feel was anger, and now… now he was so confused. He wanted to hate the man holding him, but he couldn't, because he honestly felt something he had never felt before. He could feel a small part of him coming back to life, a part of himself that he had buried deep after taking one too many traumatic events. Again, he tried to discourage the older man, not sure if he could handle feeling anything but anger again. "You can't."

"Please, let me love you," Hannibal whispered into the soft blonde hair.

Any fight the young man might have had in him left him as his mind reeled from the words. Slowly, a small fragile part of himself came back. He slumped against his Colonel, and a silent sob escaped his lips.

Carefully, Hannibal stepped back enough so that Peck could move his hands out from between them. Once there was nothing separating their bodies, he pulled the younger man back in to him, this time into a gentle hug.

Slowly, the blonde's arms came up to wrap around him. Hannibal smiled as he felt the young man's body rest against his. He held his Lieutenant for several minutes in the dark motor pool, doing nothing more than enjoying the feel of the smaller body next to his.

"How about we go to the mess tent and get a cup of coffee?" Hannibal whispered softly as he kissed the blonde's hair again.

"I'd really rather have a cigarette," Peck sighed as he pulled back to look into the other man's eyes.

"Not happening, kid." Hannibal smiled as he threw his arm over the younger man's shoulder as he started to direct them toward the mess hall. "You quit, remember?"

Ten minutes later, the two sat alone in the mess hall, talking over coffee.

"Can I ask you about the comment you made back in the motor pool?"

"Which one was that, sir?" Peck looked at him as his hand went up to reach in his shirt pocket. Like so many times before, the young man sighed as he realized he no longer had his cigarettes. Just as all the times before, he smoothed his shirt down instead.

"When I asked to protect you, you told me I can't. Why did you say that?"

"I have enemies, Colonel, and not just gooks out there in the jungle. I've pissed off a lot of people over here, and almost all of them are higher in rank than you. Hell, there have to be about twenty Marines here on the base alone who would love nothing more than to pound me into the ground." Peck looked at his CO, his blue-green eyes full of concern. "And to be honest with you, I think a relationship with me would be a bad idea. You could really get hurt."

"You let me worry about me." Leaning forward, Hannibal laid his hand on top of the young man's. "Hell, you let me worry about both of us. You're a part of my team now, kid, and we take care of each other."

Three weeks later

"How in the hell did he do it?" Ray asked as BA finished assembling the barbeque grill. "I mean look at this thing.  It's not like the homemade one we had before."

"Don't know." BA shrugged as he tightened down the last bolt. "All I know is he said he wanted to give you one hell of a send-off, and he asked me to put this together. But from what I hear, he has half the base wishing they were in our unit."

Hannibal smiled as he helped his young lover unload the back of a jeep. "Do I want to know how you managed to get all of this stuff, Face?"

Tem stopped and smiled at the older man. It had taken him a while to get used to his new nickname, but each time he heard it, he was reminded of how much the other man loved him…

A week earlier

Hannibal smiled as he looked at the young man sitting on the bed in his quarters.  He swore that if Peck got anymore nervous, he would make himself sick.

Over the last two weeks, he had taken his time to get to know the younger man, and though at times he felt like he was getting nowhere, Peck was slowly opening up to him, and he now understood why the young man acted the way he did a lot of times.

"You know we don't have to do this." Hannibal took the younger man's hands in his. "There will be other times."

The blonde shook his head. "No, I want to.  And you're wrong.  Every day we're here could be our last." Peck swallowed hard as he looked in the Colonel's eyes. "I want to prove to you how I feel about you."

"You don't have anything to prove to me." Hannibal leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on the blonde's lips. "I just want you to remember," Hannibal kissed Peck, "I'm not going to hurt you." This time he deepened the kiss. "I'll stop anytime you want."

"Don't want you to stop," Peck panted as they broke apart again.

"I just want you to know you have options."

"Stop talking," Peck insisted as he pulled the older man down to him.

"Easy, kid," Hannibal laughed softly. "Slow down; we've got all night." Reaching out, he pulled the younger man's hands off  him before extending them above the blonde's head. He continued to hold them as he captured the soft lips again, though this time he forced his tongue into Peck's mouth, savoring all the flavors he tasted there.

As the younger man began to moan in his mouth, Hannibal moved his hands so he was holding both wrists in one of his hands. With the other he unbuttoned Peck's shirt, pulling the fabric back, exposing the tan skin and erect nipples. His hand began to caress the smooth skin, enjoying the feel of it beneath his fingers, but he stopped when he felt a flaw on the shoulder. He broke off the kiss and moved so he could inspect the damaged flesh. Though the surgeons had done a superior job patching up the wound, it was obvious there had been time from when the injury had occurred and when it was given proper treatment. He could only imagine the pain the young man must have endured.

"Told you I was damaged goods."

When Hannibal looked up into the blonde's eyes, he could see the pain in them, and he knew the other man was waiting for him to reject him.

"Far from it, kid," Hannibal kissed the scarred flesh. "You're perfect."

"You have a very strange idea of perfection, Colonel."

"I know what I like, and to me, Lieutenant, you are perfection." Again, the fingers on his free hand began to gently trace the scar. "Does it hurt you?"

"Only when it rains." Peck gave a dry laugh. "And guess what's a month away?" Peck's smile widened. "The start of the wet season."

"I guess I'll just have to see if I can keep your mind off of it, then." Moving forward, Hannibal captured Peck's lips. His free hand once again began to roam, this time to the young man's pants. Hannibal broke off the kiss and began to move down the strong jaw,
slender neck, and across the collarbone. As he kissed and licked his way lower, his hands moved to unzip the Lieutenant's pants. "Don't move your hands," he ordered softly as he removed his other hand from Peck's wrists so he could tug the blonde's pants down over his narrow hips and down the tan legs before tossing them onto the bed. He smiled when he noticed that his Lieutenant wasn't wearing Army issue underwear.

"Silk boxers, Lieutenant?"

"Everyone should have something they like over here."

"Well, I think I just found my favorite thing." Hannibal smiled as he moved down to kiss and suck on Peck's nipples, and when the young man moaned, he moved slowly down to the flat stomach, his tongue circling and dipping into the blonde's navel. Working his way lower, he felt the blonde shudder under him. He smiled as he moved his hand so he could gently squeeze his Lieutenant's erection through the fabric.

Peck moaned again as he squeezed again, a little harder this time. "You like that, Lieutenant?" Hannibal whispered as he squeezed again. Hooking his fingers into the waistband, he began to pull the boxers lower. "Let's see what else you like."

The blonde shuddered again, this time harder than the first. Taking it as a sign of anticipation, he continued to pull the boxers lower. The silk fabric was just starting to show flesh when Hannibal felt Peck's hands on him pushing him backwards.

Peck close his eyes as he let the Colonel slowly work his way down his body. He was really enjoying the feel of the older man's hands as they glided across his skin. When the Colonel's mouth found his nipples he moaned from the pleasure. But as Smith worked his way lower, pleasure began to turn into panic as old memories and feelings started to work their way into his brain: hands not so gentle, touches that were not welcome or wanted. The panic increased to the point he couldn't think; all he knew was that he had to get away before it happened again.

"No!" Peck screamed.  He shoved Hannibal backwards as he scrambled off the bed. His eyes were darting around the room as he tried to find a way to escape. The only problem was that the older man was blocking his only way out. Slowly, he backed up until his back made contact with the corner of the room. Realizing that there was no way out, he got ready to fight.

At first, Hannibal didn't know how to act.  He couldn't understand what was happening. One minute he and Peck seemed to be enjoying themselves, the next he was flat on his ass.

"What the hell is your problem?" he snapped as he stood up, knocking the dust from his pants, confusion turning to anger. "You know, if you weren't interested in me at all…" his voice trailed off as he noticed the panicked look in the blonde's eyes and the way he kept
looking around the room.  "Jesus!"

"Easy, kid." Hannibal held his hands up in a non-threatening manner. "Easy." He took a step forward, but Peck crouched down, getting ready to defend himself. Knowing what the young man could do, Hannibal kept his hands up as he moved over toward the bed, his eyes never leaving the other man. "I'm just going to sit down." After sitting down, he noticed that Peck seemed to relax slightly. Reaching behind him, Smith grabbed hold of the younger man's pants and held them out to him. Peck looked over at him, his eyes going from the pants he held out to the door. "If you want to leave, that's fine, but you really need to put these on."

Peck looked back and forth, going from the Colonel to the door, his eyes constantly going from one to another. His mind was screaming for him to get out, that he was in trouble, that he needed to run way as far and as fast as he could. However, another part of him was telling him to stay, that the man sitting on the bed didn't mean him any harm, that he could trust him.

Peck shook his head as his mind fought with his emotions. He was so confused: part of him he wanted to be held, wanted to feel safe, but he couldn't ever remember a time when anyone had ever wanted him for who he was. Everyone always wanted something else, something more than he was willing to give.  Nobody ever wanted him.

Hannibal watched as the young man began to shake uncontrollably. "Lieutenant, look at me." Hannibal called out softly. As the blonde turned his gaze back to him, he could see the pain, fear, and confusion in the blue-green depths.

Peck knew what was coming next: demands, threats, or worse, a brute-force assault. He knew he could fight against the Colonel, and if he was lucky, he might win. But Peck didn't want to fight the other man, he wanted to trust him. He needed to trust someone; he was so tired of being alone. Without warning, Peck collapsed to his knees. He placed his hands over his face and sobbed; he was just so tired of fighting all the time. It had been so long since he had known peace.

Hannibal's first reaction was to jump up and run over to Peck, but he had experienced what the younger man could do in a fight, so with great effort he kept his movements slow and talked his way through every action.

"Lieutenant, I'm going to come over and cover you with a blanket." Standing up, Hannibal put down the young man's pants and pulled the top blanket off the bed. Moving slowly, he walked over to the smaller man, who was still kneeling on the floor, his head still buried in his hands. Being extremely careful of him, Hannibal wrapped the blanket over the shaking shoulders before kneeling down in front of him.

"Templeton Peck, look at me," he commanded softly. When Peck looked up at him, he thought his heart would break into pieces. Never had he seen anyone look so lost, so desperate. Opening his arms, he pulled the younger man to him, cradling the blonde to his chest as he hugged him tight. "It's all right, kid; I'm here." He rubbed the smaller man's back in soothing strokes. "I've got you."

Hannibal held Peck for a long time while the younger man cried out his pain and misery. As the sobs slowly subsided, Hannibal decided it was time to get them both off the floor.

"Come on, let's get you up." He stood up, pulling the younger man up with him. When they were both on their feet, he moved them back over to the bed. He could feel Peck start to shake again as they got closer to the bed. Realizing what the younger man must be thinking, he tried to reassure him. "It's all right, kid, trust me." Once at the bed, he gently forced Peck to sit down. He removed the blanket from around his Lieutenant's shoulders before forcing the blonde to lay down flat.

`It's always the same' a small voice in Peck's mind cried out. `It's always the same.'

Hannibal's heart broke again as he watched the tears spill down the young man's face, leaving wet trails on the tan cheeks. He smiled, hoping to reassure the blonde as he picked the man's legs up and placed them on the bed. When Peck was completely on the bed, he covered the young man with the blanket before moving to sit beside him.

After wiping away the tears, he moved his hand to the soft blonde hair, enjoying the feel of the silky strands as they slid though his fingers.

"Relax." Hannibal soothed. "Just relax."

"I'm sorry…" Peck choked back a sob.

"Shh, it's all right, kid." Hannibal smiled, trying to reassure him.

"I should go..." Peck turned to look away before trying to sit up.

"No," Hannibal gently pushed Peck back on the bed. "I don't want you to be alone." He cupped Peck's face and tilted it so they were once again looking eye-to-eye. "Ever again."

As he studied his lieutenant, he realized just how much the younger man was still hiding from him. He now knew there was a small, scared, fragile being hidden behind the rough exterior. Leaning down, he laid a gentle kiss on Peck's forehead. "Now I know the real face behind all the others you put on." Hannibal then leaned over to place a tender kiss on the tear-stained cheek. "Tonight I've seen my Face." With his thumb, he caressed the tan cheek. "And I want nothing more than to keep you safe, and if you'll let me, to show you how much I love you."

Hannibal smiled when Peck nodded, his blue-green eyes losing most of the misery. "Good," Hannibal moved to place a kiss on Peck's lips. "Now close your eyes and get some sleep; you've had a rough night."

When Peck opened his mouth to protest, Hannibal laid his fingers over the blonde's lips, silencing him. "Not a word, Face. You're sleeping here tonight, understand?" Peck nodded his head. "Good." Hannibal removed his fingers. "If you need me I'll be over at my desk."

Before he could stand up, Peck grabbed his wrist. "Please stay." The voice was barely a whisper, and so childlike.

"Gladly."

Peck moved over in the bed so that he could lie down beside him. As soon as Hannibal was settled on the bed, he motioned for the younger man to move back to him. He smiled when his Lieutenant tentatively placed a hand on his side. Taking the young man's hand in his own, he raised it to his lips and kissed the palm before draping it back across his chest. Then he slid his free arm under Peck's shoulders and pulled him into his body, adjusting the blonde's head so it rested on his shoulder. Again, he started to stroke the silky strands.

"Go to sleep, kid."

Peck looked up at him for a moment before doing as he was told; within a matter of moments, he was sound asleep in his Colonel's arms.

***

"Hey, Lieutenant, are you going to answer my question?"

"Huh?"

"The supplies, kid?" Hannibal smiled as he moved closer. "Where did these supplies come from?"

"Oh," Peck's smiled widened. "You don't want to know."

"If I'm going to have to bail your skinny ass out of the stockade again, I'd like to know why."

Peck laughed as he grabbed the last box out of the jeep. "All right. Murdock knows this guy in Texas who raises cattle. He put me in contact with him, and we made a trade."

"What kind of trade?"

"My hot body." Peck laughed, but stopped when the Colonel grabbed his arm.

"That's not funny. I don't want you to even joke about something like that. Do you hear me?"

"Let go of me," Peck warned as he pulled back against Hannibal.

Realizing what he was doing, Hannibal loosened his grip so he was only lightly holding on. "I'm sorry, kid; I don't like the idea of you being with anyone but me."

The blonde looked at the older man; he searched his lover's bright blue eyes. "You're jealous." A soft laugh escaped his lips.

"I am not jealous…" Hannibal stopped and started to laugh. "Yeah, kid, I guess I am." He ruffled the blonde's hair. "Now, you were telling me how you got this stuff."

"All right, as I was saying, Murdock knows this guy in Texas who is a big gun nut. So I made a trade…" Peck held up his hands before Hannibal could say anything. "Now before you get pissed, I didn't send him anything that belongs to us. Everything I sent came from the NVA, stuff I've collected here and there."

"And the grills?"

"Well, let's just say that General Fulbright might have to order take-out if he wants a barbeque anytime soon."

"Is it just me, Lieutenant, or do you have problem with the good general?"

"You might say that." Peck reached for his shirt pocket, only to sigh when he felt the empty spot where his cigarettes used to be. He sighed as he remembered giving the Colonel his new pack that morning before they left to get the food. "General 'Bull' Fulbright was one of the geniuses who decided to keep sending my unit in again and
again." Peck smoothed his shirt down. "Since I can't get to him and hurt him outright, I decided that I would take every little pleasure away from him that I could." A smile spread over Face's lips as a gleam filled his eyes. "And I'm just getting started."

Hannibal sighed as he shook his head. He could understand where the kid was coming from. If his team had been destroyed the way Peck's had, he would want some type of revenge, too, no matter how small. "All right, kid, but I want you to be careful. I can bail you out of a lot of shit, but if you get in too deep, I might not be able to help you."

"I understand," Peck nodded.

"Good," Hannibal bent down and picked up a case of meat. "Now, did I ever tell you the best way to marinate a steak?"

***

"I don't know how he can do that after the way we ate last night," BA groaned as he watched Peck scramble for the basketball after knocking it out of the Marine's hands.

"That's because he didn't eat as much as we did," Ray responded as he rubbed his own overfilled stomach. "I don't think he eats enough to keep a bird alive."

"Discussing the pretty boy again?" a voice stated from behind them. Ray and BA turned around to see a Marine named Erickson standing behind them. "You know, I think that is the best looking thing that ever came into this camp."

"I don't care for what you're saying, fool." BA growled as he stood up.

"Oh, come off of it, Baracus, you can't tell me that you haven't checked him out." Erickson nodded his head in the blonde's direction. "I mean, look at him.  Even if you aren't gay, he's easy on the eyes."

Yeah, BA had to admit he had looked Peck over; they all had. But the younger man had said nothing, or that he was interested in anyone, so he had left it at that. If Peck wanted someone, BA had no doubt in his mind that he would tell them.

"Yeah, he's good-looking, but that don't mean he wants anything from the likes of you," Ray answered for BA as he stood up beside the sergeant.

"I didn't say he had to like what…"

Before Erickson could finish, BA grabbed hold of him by the front of the shirt, his fist drawn back, ready to strike.

"Don't you even think about laying a hand on him, sucker, you hear me? You or any of your buddies even think about harming him, I'll pound you into the ground."

"I'm not the only one who wants a piece of him." Erickson sneered. "You can't keep him safe from the whole base."

"Hey, guys, what's going on?"

BA turned to notice that Peck was coming up behind him, concern written across his face.

"Nothin', man.  I was just telling this jarhead that certain things belong to our unit, and we protect what is ours," BA answered the blonde, as he let go of the Marine.

Peck glanced at the three men, sure he was not being told the whole truth. "If it's nothing major, I'm sure I could get what you need," the blonde told Erickson. "I mean, it can't be worth a fight."

"I don't think it is." Erickson smiled at BA. "But you know how some people are about sharing."

"Just write me out a list and I'll see what I can do."

"Sure, I'll drop it by to you later." Erickson smiled as BA growled at him.

Once the Marine left, BA moved to stand beside Peck. "You don't need to be around him.  He's bad news."

"Erickson?" Peck reached up to run his hand through his hair. "I'm not too worried about him. He's like most of the jarheads around here: brute strength and no brain. The only time guys like him are dangerous is when they are in groups. And the last thing I plan on doing is being alone with a large group of Marines."

"You still need to be careful," Ray added.

"Sure," Peck smiled at them. "By the way, you guys want to shoot some hoops?"

"You got to be kidding," BA groaned as he rubbed his stomach. "I couldn't run from Charlie if I had to."

"What about you, Ray?"

"No way.  I'm with BA on this one." Ray smiled as he threw his arm around Peck's shoulder. "Besides I want to buy you a drink as a token of my gratitude for making my last few months here halfway tolerable."

 

 

***

 

"Come on; you're lying to me." Peck laughed as he took another drink.

 

"Nope. When I first met Hannibal, he was a three-pack-a-day smoker. Used to have a smoke cloud around his head all the time"

 

"So what made him quit?"

 

"Charlie got a few good shots off at him one night; seemed to zero in on the glow."

 

"Yeah, they'll do that." Peck laughed as he leaned back in his chair. "So he quit after that, cold turkey?"

 

"No, man; he started to smoke these nasty-smelling cigars, but only around the base. I thought the cigarettes were bad, but they didn't have anything on those things."

 

"The only reason he stopped them was because he couldn't get hold of anything decent."

 

"Don't bother me none," BA griped. "Them things stunk."

 

"Yeah, the cheap ones do." Peck smiled, his mind already thinking ahead.

 

"Ah, man, I recognize that look. Don't you dare buy him any of those stinking weeds," BA warned.

 

"Now, would I do that after I just gave up smoking myself?"

 

"You didn't give up nothing, I've seen you smoking here and there when Hannibal ain't looking, and yeah, I think you would." BA glared at the blonde. "I think you would do just about anything to be able to smoke with the Colonel watching."

 

"Now, BA, if I wanted to smoke around the Colonel, there wouldn't be a single person on this base who could stop me." Peck smiled knowingly at both men. "Besides, if I wasn't ready to quit, I wouldn't have given them up to him in the first place."

 

***

 

Peck looked down at his watch as he finished up his last beer. BA and Ray had left thirty minutes before, and he knew that he should be going himself. Over the last hour, more and more of the base's Marines had been coming into the officer's club, and Peck was figuring now was as good a time as any to leave.

 

He was just about to walk through the door when Erickson came in.

 

"Hey, Peck, what do you say I buy you a drink?" The Marine smiled as he pushed the teen back into the room.

 

"No, thanks, I've had enough."

 

"Then you can buy me one." Erickson laughed as he pushed the blonde toward the bar.

 

"I'd love to, man, but I've got a meeting with my CO." Peck stepped back, his body already reacting to the threat at hand. "And you know how Smith can be."

 

"Yeah, I hear he can be a real prick." Erickson shrugged as he moved toward the bar. "Maybe I'll catch you later."

 

"Sure." Peck relaxed a little when he realized that the other man was no longer a threat. "Later." He smiled as he made his way out the door.

 

Peck was halfway across the base when he began to get the feeling something was wrong. Stopping, he cocked his head to one side and listened. Even though he couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary, he knew he was being followed. Moving quickly, Peck darted forward and around one of the buildings that were several feet away from him. As soon as he was around the far side of the building, he turned and waited for his assailant. He didn't have to wait long before the person following him stopped just short of where he was standing. Taking a deep breath, he prepared to strike until he heard a familiar voice.

 

"All right, kid; you caught me.  Come on out."

 

"Hannibal?"

 

Hannibal smiled at the confusion he heard in the younger man's voice. "Yeah, Face, it's me." Very cautiously, Hannibal stepped around the side of the building to see his lieutenant leaning up against the metal side, visibly shaking.

 

"Jesus, kid." Hannibal moved to grab the younger man as he slid down the side to his knees.

 

"Do you have any idea about what I was getting ready to do to you?" Peck asked as he looked up, his hands going to his shirt pocket.

 

"I think I could handle myself.  It's not like I haven't been trained…"

 

"Not like I have!" Peck yelled as he pushed himself off the side of the building and started to march across the compound toward his quarters.

 

"Face, wait." Hannibal started after the other man. When his Lieutenant kept on walking, ignoring him, he became angry. "Stop, Lieutenant, that's an order." Hannibal ran after the younger man, grabbing him by the shoulder.

 

Peck continued across the base, paying no attention to his CO. He was extremely upset, and when Hannibal grabbed him by the shoulder to stop him, he took a swing at him out of pure instinct. Only at the last second did he manage to pull the punch to keep from smashing the other man in the face.

 

Hannibal stepped back as the punch came at him, but he realized that if the younger man hadn't pulled it short, he would be lying on the ground with a busted jaw.

 

"Damn it! Do you want me to kill you?" Peck yelled as he put some space between the two of them. "Don't you understand?  I could have killed you!"

 

"Stop it, kid.  I don't want to have this conversation here in the middle of the compound." Hannibal stepped back up to Peck. "Let's go back to my quarters and discuss this." Hannibal placed a gentle hand on the younger man's elbow and steered him towards his quarters.

 

"There is nothing to discuss." Peck tried to pull away, only to be stopped when Hannibal tightened his grip. However, the second they were in the colonel's quarters Peck tried again.

 

"Let me go, Colonel; I'm too damn dangerous to be around." Anything else that was going to be said was cut off when Hannibal covered his mouth, kissing him hard and deep. When the two broke apart, Peck was panting for breath.

 

"Now that I've shut you up for a minute, I want you to listen to me." Hannibal reached up to stroke the younger man's cheek. "I know what you are, and I don't care."

 

"I could have killed you."

 

Hannibal moved his hand to the back of his Lieutenant's neck so he could pull the younger man to his body. When Peck was pressed against the front of him, he wrapped his arms around his lover.

 

"Listen to me. I've read your file. I know what the government trained you to do. I know you are more than Special Ops. Don't you get it, kid? I know what you are capable of, and I still love you."

 

"You can't." Peck shook his head as he tried to pull away. "Do you have any idea what I have done, what I am?! You can't love something like me, I'm nothing more …"

 

"No, kid.  You are wrong; I do love you." Hannibal hugged Peck closer to him. "And I want you to remember that you are in my unit now, not some shadow group." Hannibal kissed Peck gently. "We will still be going out in the field on missions, and I will expect you to give me everything you have while we are out there, but you are no longer alone." Reaching up, Hannibal placed both of his hands on the side of the blonde's head to make sure that they were looking eye-to-eye. "You are part of my team now, do you understand? You are not alone; we are all here for you."

 

"No, it's you who doesn't understand, Colonel. I can't just turn it off.  It doesn't matter where I am or who I'm with." Peck sighed as he laid his hands on top of Hannibal's and pulled them from his cheeks. "My training is buried deep down.  I could have killed you tonight, before I even realized who you were. If you hadn't called out when you did…"

 

"Stop it. What's done is done, and now that I know, I'll try and be more careful."

 

"You can't!" Peck yelled. "Don't you understand I'm a …"

 

He never got a chance to finish.  Hannibal grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him hard, the older man attacking his mouth as his other hand wrapped around him, pulling their bodies tight against each other.

 

As he continued to attack Peck's mouth, Hannibal guided them toward the bed in the corner of the room. When the younger man's knees hit the mattress, he shoved him down on the bed.  The second Peck was flat on his back, Hannibal straddled his waist, the blonde's wrists held tightly in his hands.

 

"I don't care what you think about yourself." Hannibal moved Peck's hands up so he could kiss each palm. "You are not some terrible monster." Leaning forward, Hannibal gently kissed his lover. "You are nothing more than a very young man who has had a very rough time." Hannibal moved off of Face to lie beside him on the bed.  As he rolled over, he pulled his lover into the front of him, so he was wrapped protectively around his lieutenant. "I know I can't promise you a rose garden, kid, but I will try and make our life together the best I can, and to do that I need you to trust me."

 

"It's hard," Peck whispered softly as a shudder ran through his body. "I've never had anyone who didn't want something from me."

 

"I know, baby," Hannibal whispered back as he tucked the smaller man closer into the front of his body. "But I want you to remember that I'm here for you, and if we work together we can get through anything. You just have to trust me."

 

Peck closed his eyes and sighed; when he opened them, Hannibal noticed the hard look was replaced with a softer, almost childlike gaze. "I'll try, John."

 

"That's all I can ask for." Hannibal laid a gentle kiss against the young man's lips.

 

***

 

TBC

 


Self-Destructive by Jullian Gray
Self-Destructive 2 by Jullian Gray

 

 


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