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Disclaimer: If they Were Mine, and They Had To Go Through what I Put Them Through On A Daily Basis, They'd Stage A Revolt And Run From Me. :-D However, because They Aren't Mine, I Can Do Whatever I Want . . . Seriously, I'm Just Playing In Someone Else's World they Made Up, And I Appreciate The Loan, Mr. Cannell! You Can Have Them Back At the End Of the Tale! :-D <Aren't I Generous?>
Warning: This Is Soooooooo Slash! There Are Plenty Of Objectionable Scenes That Could Seriously Squick A Person Not Into Slash, So Be Advised. There Is Also A Death In This Story Of A Totally Major Character, So If You Don't Like That Kind Of Thing Either, Steer Clear Of This Story. There's also the 'F' Word Here And There, As Well As Other Language.
Episode Spoilers: As Far As I Can Remember There Is One for That Episode With The Princess and Her Nutso, Rebel Boyfriend And Mind Games, As Well As A Spoiler For The Entire Premise Of The Fifth Season Itself, Without Reservations, And The Gray Team.
Summary: Love, Death, And Its Cycle . . .
Author's Notes: Please Don't hate me for This. I Wrote this Story For Another Television Show Altogether, But One Day Realized It Could Translate To A-Team. So, If I Ever Post the Original Story To Somewhere Else, And It Gets Recognized, I Did that On Purpose. Come to Think About It, It could also Translate To Even Another Television Show. I'm Not A Doctor, I'm Just Pretending To Be For The Sake Of Dramatics. So Please Do Not Criticize Me For Mistakes They Make On TV And I Pick Up To Write With. :-D
Face woke to the strangest feeling of being watched, and it brought back old fears and half-forgotten memories, and his heart pounded in his chest. "Shhhh." The comforting voice of his Colonel said, and a soothing hand was laid on his sunshine blond hair. "It's okay, Face. I'm just watching you sleep."
Oh. Things were okay. Hannibal was just watching him sleep. Face started to drift off, but then the bizarreness of the
situation hit him. Hannibal was watching him sleep. Face rolled over and blearily opened his eyes. Yup. Hannibal was beside him on the bed, watching him sleep.
"Um . . . Hannibal." Face's voice was low, and the older man looked at him, more than aware of his fear. "Why . . . why are you watching me sleep?"
"You're part of my team." Hannibal answered with a smile. "But since it obviously worries you, I'll leave."
"No . . . no, it's all right, really." Face swallowed. "It . . . it's just when people watch . . . watched . . . me sleep, when I was a kid, par . . . particularly men, they . . . they would . . . well, you know . . . do stuff to me. It . . . it hasn't happened in a long time, but I can't always control the . . . fear." He looked down at the covers ashamed of his fear and the disgust he was sure would be on Hannibal's face.
"Oh damn, Face." Hannibal's eyes widened and darkened with rage at the people that had used his younger friend so badly, and he captured the nervously fluttering fingers in his strong, capable hands. Face looked up, surprised at both the gesture and the compassion in Hannibal's voice. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"I . . . it's okay. I coped." Face swallowed.
"No one should have to cope with that." Hannibal answered as he pushed a lock of hair from Face's face. "Especially children. But I need to tell you something, and I don't want you to be scared of me because of it, okay, Face? You know I'd never hurt you, right?"
"Well, yeah. Of course, Colonel." Face's voice held a note of conviction and his eyes only held trust, and more than a little
confusion, and Hannibal smiled under the extremely unusually open gaze.
"I like you, Face."
"I like you too, Colonel." Face was puzzled, and he raised an eyebrow. "You know that."
"No, Face. You don't understand. And you have to listen to everything I say and not interrupt." Hannibal watched as Face's eyes widened, and mutely the younger man nodded. "I mean I really like you." Hannibal continued. " I can understand why women are drawn to you, and it's more than just your body, though that's not a bad part of the package. You have an air of..." Hannibal frowned slightly, and his brows creased in thought. "Not quite innocence, yet you're not really dark either. You're rather . . . mysterious . . . I guess is the word I'm looking for. I mean, you can be at once mocking and seductive, and yet, when you put your heart into something, it's your whole heart, and it's real, and it's intense, and the force of your conviction shows. And your eyes . . ." Hannibal looked infinitely sad, and Face blinked as he resisted the urge to hug the hurt away as the older man sighed. "To those who know you, Face, your eyes say everything about you that you never say with your mouth. They talk of pain, anger, frustration, and yet there's love there too. There's a kindness and a gentility that's as much a part of you and that's no less obvious than the bitter mockery in that silver tongue of yours. And all that rolled into one person make a person want to protect you and defend you to our last breaths." He shook his head as his lips quirked. "Which is probably one of the reasons you're such a good Con-man. People look at you and listen to you, and, just like each one of us on the team, even if we know you're handing out lines, wants to protect you and keep you away from everything that can . . . and has . . . hurt you." He sighed. "But we can't do that, can we, Face? You'd suffocate and we'd lose you. We'd lose you just like all those women who've tried to lock you in their golden cages over the years have lost you." Face went to speak, but Hannibal continued quickly. "Damn it, Face. I've fought this for years, and I can't do it any longer without you knowing what's going on in my mind. You see, I just want to take you in my arms and make all the pain and fear in your eyes disappear. I want to hold you and take all the hurt I see in your eyes away until all that's left is a radiant joy in the knowledge that you are cared for, because Face, you ARE cared for."
Face couldn't believe what he'd heard, and that it came from Hannibal of all people. "Hannibal . . . Colonel . . ." He inhaled deeply and swallowed. "Are you . . . are you saying . . ." He couldn't finish, and Hannibal smiled lopsidedly.
"I'm saying I need you, Lieutenant. I'm saying I want to be with you in body as well as in spirit. I've watched you, Face, and for a good long time. You can be arrogant, insensitive, and even aloof at times, but I learned that's a protection for you . . . a
method of hiding what's inside you. The part of you that's been hurt time and time again, and used time and time again. You've got a sensitive, caring, gentle soul that's been badly used over the years, Face, and I've wanted so many times to tell you how I feel. You and I know we're joined, Face – bonded if you will – not only by being on the run, but by our time in the military, as well as by the time we spent in the Vietnam Prison Camp. But, I also know that, someday, when we're not on the run, you're going to make someone a very good husband and father." Hannibal fought the urge to reach to reach out and stroke Face's pale cheek as the younger man stared at him as if Hannibal'd suddenly lost his mind. "And for that matter, so will I . . . someday."
"I . . . I don't understand. You want . . . want me . . . physically?" Face tried desperately to wrap his mind around the
concept, and was obviously alarmed. "I . . . I never . . .I mean . . . thought you were . . .straight." He chuckled nervously. "More than straight. We're talking steel-rod here."
"And for the most part I am." Hannibal's voice was quiet. "But there have been a few men – all voluntary of course.
I'd NEVER do anything to hurt you, Face. You said it yourself. Do you believe it though, Face? Do you really believe me when I say I won't hurt you?"
"Yes." Face's voice, though barely a whisper was confident, and Hannibal smiled gently.
"Then don't be afraid of me, Face. All I wanted to do was just watch you sleep. I had no idea of your past, though I had
suspicions, and I'm glad I was able to tell you how I feel." He grinned. "It's a relief to know that you know. I just want you to
know that if you ever do decide you want to be with a man, I hope it'll be me. However, by the same token, if you never decide you ever want to be with a man, that'll be all right too. I'm here for you either way."
"It will?" Face looked directly into Hannibal's eyes, and the older man didn't even flinch or look away.
"It will." The Colonel nodded. "Look, Face, I've almost lost you twice now – no, three times – and for stupid reasons, not
the least of which was that idiot Princess and her stupid rebel boyfriend. I'm not going to lose you because you felt forced to do
something you weren't willing to do, and it'd just about kill me if it were with me." He frowned and shook his head. "And when I think about . . . about how you've already been hurt . . ." His voice caught in his throat and he looked away and Face gripped Hannibal's hands tightly in his.
"Hannibal . . ." Face swallowed. "You . . . you have no idea what it . . . all of it . . . actually means to me. Not only to
have you back off, but the offer as well. And well, it's not much, but any time . . . if . . . if you want, you can watch me sleep." He smiled brightly, then yawned and lay back down. He closed his eyes, and a few minutes later, as testament to his great faith and trust in his Commanding Officer and friend, Face was deeply asleep.
Hannibal smiled and settled back as he basked in the warmth of Face's faith and trust, and silently vowed never to betray either his friend's faith, or his trust.
Then, however, came the stupid Fake Pardon.
Face stood next to Hannibal's bed and his whole body trembled. He was terrified. He had screwed up again . . . REALLY screwed up and on a grand scale. It wasn't just his normal screw up, it was a ROYAL, I'm-an-idiot-how-could-I-ever-have-done-that, kind of screw up, and he didn't know what to do to make things better.
It had been a couple of weeks, and Hannibal had pushed him through a grueling training exercise, and let the others work on him as well, but the easy camaraderie between the four of them had completely changed, and he knew it'd been his fault. He had no idea what to offer the other two to make things up to them, but a year before, Hannibal had sat at Face's bedside and had confessed that he'd wanted him physically. However, Face had been afraid, and Hannibal had seen that fear and was content, on the occasion, to do as Face had offered, and just watch the younger man sleep. Hannibal had never mentioned the proposition again, and as Face looked down at the older man, he wondered if he offered himself to him, if it'd make Hannibal forgive him and let things go back to how they'd been before the Fake Pardon. Face knew he certainly deserved the physical pain that male coupling would cause him – especially after the intense emotional pain that he'd caused Hannibal, Murdock, and B.A. by his
outright rejection of them, and he swallowed.
"What do you want Face? It's two o'clock in the morning and I'm tired." Hannibal's voice suddenly sounded, and Face knew the older man was definitely annoyed, if not outrightly angry with him. Face couldn't stop the unbidden memory of one of the priests in the orphanage as he'd trapped the young boy in a confessional and used his body for physical punishment of Face's misbehavior . . . as well as for physical gratification for the priest, and he couldn't stop the boy inside the man from quivering in remembered fear and agony. Well, he deserved the pain this time, and he knew it, even as his heart thudded painfully in his chest, and his breathing quickened and shallowed.
"I'm sorry." Face was barely able to force out and Hannibal rolled over, then rubbed his eyes and sat up. Face almost jumped back, but froze in one place and blinked at Hannibal like a deer caught in headlights.
"I'm assuming you mean for the thing with the Pardon." Hannibal frowned and noted Face's fast breathing, sweaty countenance, and trembling body. "Geeze, Lieutenant, will you calm your ass down? I'm not going to kill you. After all, you've already done the training exercise . . . and without complaining too." He snorted. "Will wonders never cease."
"But . . . but things aren't the same, yet." Face's voice was barely above a whisper. "B.A. and Murdock, and even you, are still angry at me and aren't talking to me. I'm practically being ignored, and I can't stand it, Hannibal. It's like I'm here, but I
don't exist anymore. I . . . I just want things to go back like they were. I just want to be friends again." Face's trembling increased.
"Lieutenant . . . Face." Hannibal started, but Face raised a shaking hand and stilled him.
"Hannibal, let . . . let me finish. I . . . I may not be able to m . . . make . . . say this . . . if . . . if you don't." Hannibal again looked at Face and was shocked by the hopelessness and the fear he saw in his friend's eyes – the same expression he'd seen so often in the eyes of young soldiers who'd been at the ends of their ropes after they'd seen atrocities and things in Vietnam and Korea that they'd never been prepared for in the States, and whom he'd had to talk out of eating their own guns, bullets first. He looked again into Face's misery-darkened eyes and swallowed as he realized that the same desperation and panic in them were the exact same kind he'd so often seen in the eyes of soldiers who'd overdosed and had to have been sent home in body bags. Soldiers who hadn't been victims of any enemy, but who'd been victims of their own minds. Hannibal's heart twisted in his chest as cold horror churned his stomach.
"I'm listening." He answered and nodded with all the calm he could muster. He knew he had to let Face talk at that moment, or there would be no Face to talk with later.
"A . . . a year ago." Face swallowed and started again. "A year ago, you were in my room. You were watching me sleep."
"I remember." Hannibal nodded.
"You m . . . made an offer. You . . . we . . . we've never talked about it since."
"I know. What about it?" Hannibal was thoroughly puzzled. Of all the things he'd expected to hear from Face, that wasn't it.
"D . . . do . . . do y y you st st still w w w w . . . want m m m me?" Face could barely form the words through his frozen lips, and he hated himself as he stuttered violently, and Hannibal stared at the obviously terrified younger man.
"Oh, Face." Hannibal's voice was low and he inhaled deeply as he considered his words carefully. Face had offered his body to make up for . . . for what? To make up for something that they'd all wanted. A moment of freedom. And for that moment of freedom, Face'd been used and almost killed. Hannibal had punished him more for that than the actual betrayal of the team, and he knew that B.A. and Murdock were no-less upset about that than he was, though Face obviously thought they were angry at him for the initial betrayal. No one had spoken of any of their real, inner fears to Face, just took their anger and fear out on him on the exercise course, and Hannibal knew that Face had suffered immeasurably for it.
Face took Hannibal's hesitancy as anger and/or doubt, and he bit his lips almost savagely as he clamped down on his painful and unruly emotions. "I promise, Hannibal. I . . . I won't yell or . . . or fight." He wrapped his arms around his chest and couldn't stop the child-like whine as he pleaded with the one person who could make everything all right in Face's world again. "Please, Hannibal. I know I screwed up, and really, really badly, and I'm sorry, but I don't know what else to do to show how sorry I am. I . . . I didn't think, I just reacted, and ended up betraying the only real friends I've ever had, and I never wanted to hurt you or the others. Please, Hannibal, you've got to forgive me, because if you forgive me, I know it'll make the others forgive me too."
Face was on the very edge of a complete breakdown and Hannibal knew that any kind of rejection on his part would push Face completely over the wrong edge. However, Hannibal didn't want Face to physically be with him out of guilt, fear, or out of any desire to be punished. He wanted Face to tremble with want and desire – not terror and uncertainty. He inhaled deeply, then slowly reached out and took Face's wrist in gentle, non-verbal communication. He knew that whatever he said next would set the stage for the future between the two of them. Face's hands shook violently, and Hannibal swallowed as he was reminded that the last time he had seen his friend so fragile had been just after they'd escaped from the Prison Camp.
"Face." Hannibal's voice was quiet and thick with compassion. "Not a one of us, me, B.A., or Murdock blames you for
wanting your freedom. Hell, we all know how badly you wanted it, and as for not listening to us, well, let's face it. We're not pretty women." Hannibal sighed. "Pretty women are your downfalls, Face. You are usually a very good judge of character, but you really have this massive blind spot when it comes to women, and no amount of training on our parts have seemed to have made a difference in that. We all know this, and we've all learned to take that into account and have adjusted to that over the years. But, Face, what made us MAD is the fact that we almost lost you. Damn it, Face, we've been together for years, and we all know that death is inevitable. But, how many times are we going to have to sit by and almost lose you to someone stupid who's used you!? THAT'S the part that made us angry, Face. We KNOW you didn't mean to betray the team OR our friendship. It's
just that not a one of us is ready to lose you . . . ready for you to die through stupidity, especially someone else's stupidity, and
that's the only reason we've been as hard on you as we have." He inhaled and then sighed again. "However, I do know that the
situation just got a little out of control for a little while, that's all. However, what's done is done and what we need to do now, is to
go on from here." He watched as Face nodded, albeit slowly. "And, Face, everything has been dealt with. Maybe not well, but it HAS been dealt with. And as for the other . . ." He very slowly, so as not to spook the younger man, reached up and with extra-gentle fingers, stroked Face's unnaturally cold cheek. "I DO still want you, Face, but not like this. I'm not going to let you offer
yourself to me like some kind of martyr – or a terrified slave who thinks he needs to be punished." Hannibal made sure that his eyes met Face's. "That's not what you need right now."
"What do you mean?" Face's whisper was low, and Hannibal sighed.
"As leader of the team, Face, my job is not only to make plans that keep you guys physically safe, but to make sure you're all mentally and emotionally safe as well, especially when we're out here on the run. I guess I haven't been doing such a great job of that lately. I've left you alone to fight your demons too long, Face, and right now, you need someone to take care of you – emotionally rather than physically."
"I don't know what to do." Face was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted to the point that he had no more defenses left, and knew that Hannibal knew it. With the same trust that allowed him to offer to let Hannibal watch him sleep whenever the older man wanted, Face placed himself completely in his Colonel's care. Hannibal slowly pulled the younger man to him, stretched him out beside him on the bed, and held him against him as one would a child or a brother. Face sighed and Hannibal stroked the blond hair back as his head fell against the strength of Hannibal's shoulder.
"Whatever you need to." Hannibal answered quietly. Face's arms wrapped themselves tightly around the older man's waist and the child that lived in the man's body – the one who had been lied to, used, who'd had his dreams ripped from hands, and who had almost been killed because of it, wept inconsolably.
Over Face's head, Hannibal saw Murdock and B.A. as, drawn by the noise of Face's emotional cleansing, they stood in the doorway of the room for a moment and watched. Hannibal raised a finger to his lips, and the other two nodded in complete understanding. As quietly as they had crept to the door, they turned and left Hannibal and Face together, so as not to disturb the catharsis that had been too long in coming.
It took almost three hours and Hannibal berated himself for his inattentiveness to his Lieutenant's heart-wrenching distress. His back ached and his joints stiffened, but he held onto Face as the younger man's emotions purged themselves. Face's screams finally abated to sobs, his sobs to cries, and his cries to whimpers, and those finally died into hiccupping breaths that eventually turned into deeper breathing as Face's exhausted body sagged against Hannibal's and he slipped into a deep sleep. Hannibal smiled down at the warm body that curled around him, for the moment guileless and innocent, and pulled the covers over both of them. Then, as he drifted to sleep himself, he couldn't resist the urge, and he placed a gentle kiss on the warmth of Face's soft, inviting lips.
A year later, Face was again almost killed, and it hadn't been anyone's fault but that of bad timing. Hannibal hadn't left Face's
side almost the entire time that it had taken him to recuperate, and Face took that time to study his friend – his Colonel. He watched him move, speak, eat, and just be Hannibal. Face had observed Hannibal – The Colonel and The Leader for years, but for the six long months of his recovery, he observed Hannibal – The Man, and the more he saw, the more he realized he liked . . . and in more ways than just as his friend, his father figure, his Colonel, and his Commanding Officer.
A year previous, Hannibal had literally saved Face's sanity and his life as well. Suicide had not entirely been ruled out as a course of action after the Fake Pardon, though Face was ashamed to admit it. He knew the extent of Hannibal's experience and his instincts, and he realized that Hannibal had at least had an inkling of what was in Face's thoughts the night Face had gone to him and offered the older man his body in return for forgiveness. Yet, Hannibal had never mentioned it, or that night, again. It was for that reason mainly, after Face had almost been killed a third time, why the younger man did such a thorough study of Hannibal – The Man.
Face realized that he had wasted a lot of time holding Hannibal's affections, wants, and needs at bay, and he didn't want to waste any more. Also, he had to admit, to himself at least, that he couldn't get Hannibal – The Man out of his head. Hannibal, though he had indeed wanted Face, had resisted his offer of his body a year before, and merely let the younger man sleep next to him and cry on him and divest himself of more pain and fear than what they all knew had been caused just by the Fake Pardon. Hannibal's only fee for all of that, had been a gentle kiss when he'd thought that Face had fallen fully asleep.
Face sighed. Rather than be repulsed by the man's kiss, as he'd thought he'd've been, he'd actually found the kiss sweet and quite touching . . . and if he hadn't been so tired, arousing. Then, when he'd woken up still wrapped in Hannibal's arms, he knew he'd never felt so safe and secure before . . . or since.
He thought back to the night that Hannibal had first confessed his interest in Face and he shook his head. He hadn't
really been surprised by Hannibal's confession that he'd been with other men. After all Hannibal had been in the military a lot longer than any of the others, and he'd even been in Covert Operations. Face knew from personal experience that Covert Operatives generally did whatever they had to, to get their assigned missions completed. Though he personally had never had to sleep with men to complete any of his missions, that didn't mean that it didn't, or couldn't happen to someone else, and if it DID happen, they sure as hell weren't going to talk about it. What HAD surprised Face, was that Hannibal wanted HIM and in THAT way.
Face knew virtually nothing about being with a man, other than what had been done to him, so, as he recovered from the gunshot wound to his stomach, he researched as much about gay sex as he could. He took long looks at male bodies and acclimated himself to seeing them from all angles. He read books and took notes on ways of physically pleasing men, as well as wrote out copious notes on what he liked having done to him, and that he assumed another man would like to have done as well. Caught in the idleness of recuperation, and with nothing but time on his hands, and with the meticulousness of preparation that usually went into one of his scams, Face copied diagrams, drew bodies, and let his curiosity and his mind run over all kinds of male on male scenarios, until he was at least comfortable with the IDEA of being next to another man in more than just a sleeping bag or a tent, and for more than just sleeping.
A couple of times, Face fell asleep over his research, and, unbeknownst to him, Hannibal had discovered the drawings and the notes. He just smiled to himself, and never mentioned his findings to his Lieutenant. Though he'd said nothing to Face, he'd seen him as the younger man had watched him and studied him, and he realized why Face researched things so studiously and single-mindedly. Without embarrassment, Hannibal felt a flush of pride, but no real surprise, that the younger man would go to so much trouble for him. He also realized that even though Face's curious, significantly scientific and linear mind accepted the things that he read and saw, Face's inner mind, his body, and his painful memories wouldn't be so easy to convince when, and if, Face decided to take things a step beyond mere research.
Six months after Face had fully recovered, the team had been officially pardoned after their capture of a major Soviet Spy, and for a while, each of them went their own separate ways to follow their own dreams. Face though, had stayed close to Hannibal, and he acted as the older man's manager when Hannibal decided he wanted to give acting a REAL go.
As they had done once a week for two months, the two men sat and shared dinner in Hannibal's bungalow in L.A.. Face looked over at the animated, older man, and sighed as he realized that finally, the time had come for him to mention his willingness to take their relationship a step further than it had ever gone before.
"Um . . . Hannibal?" Face's hesitant voice broke into the older man's narrative, and he looked up as Face swallowed nervously at him. "I . . . um . . . was thinking . . ."
"You surprise me, Face." Hannibal grinned at him, and Face smiled back, though no-less nervously than he had when he'd first spoken.
"Funny, Colonel." He swallowed again. "Seriously. About that offer . . . uh . . . you made a couple years ago. The one
about . . . about us being . . . er . . ." He tried to formulate the word, but nothing exited, and he turned scarlet.
"Lovers?" Hannibal supplied, as if the discussion were something they talked about over dinner all the time, and Face's
aspect went scarlet.
"Uh . . . yeah. I . . . I've been doing some . . . er . . . research . . ."
"You did research?" Hannibal kept his voice neutral, and Face swallowed.
"Yeah." Face looked down at his untouched plate of food. "You . . . you know, to find out if it were something I . . .
er . . . wantedtotry." He ran the last half of his sentence together, and Hannibal almost grinned, but decided that Face was still too uncomfortable with the idea to be able to take a joke about it.
"And what did you decide?" Hannibal asked seriously, his voice quiet.
"Uh . . . I want to try it." Face exhaled in a rush. "I mean . . . I don't know how good I'll be, or anything. After all,
you . . . you'd be my first . . . willingly . . ." His voice ground to a halt, and Hannibal smiled gently.
"And I'm deeply honored that you would even consider doing anything like this with me, Face." The older man nodded, then looked at his friend. "It means more to me than you'll realize to know you want to trust me enough to at least try this with me. However, I think we should take things slowly. Just to see how comfortable you are with this whole thing. I think you should sleep with me for a bit before we actually do anything."
"I thought that was the idea though." Face tilted his head, confused, and Hannibal smiled. He always got tingles when Face looked at him with his confusion so plainly exposed, and now he knew that they were taking their relationship further, it affected him even more than normal.
"No, Lieutenant." Hannibal explained. "I mean actually sleep, as in, share the same bed. So you don't have a panic attack and end up in a flashback."
Face melted inside and his stomach fluttered. Hannibal was still thinking of Face and his comfort, even though he'd waited almost three years for Face to be able to reach a point where he'd agree to actually be Hannibal's lover. Face rolled the unfamiliar word around in his mind for a minute and licked his lips more than nervously as he settled on it.
He, Lieutenant Templeton Arthur Peck, was going to be Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith's lover. He almost giggled at the surrealism of the sound. And what made it even weirder, was that it was at Hannibal's suggestion. Based purely on sight, history, and emotional qualities, by rights, Face would have been the more obvious one to have broached the subject. He shook his head and sighed.
The world was definitely a funny, ironic place sometimes.
That night, they did the dishes, they watched television, and they smoked cigars. All the things they did normally, but when Hannibal went to bed, rather than Face leaving for the night, the older man motioned Face to follow him to the bedroom. Slowly, Face did, and in total silence, he watched as Hannibal undressed down to his boxers. Face said nothing as he stood, and started to undress himself, though not without some trepidation.
Hannibal watched Face, as the younger man had him, as he stripped to his own boxers, then hesitantly climbed into bed next to Hannibal. The older man turned off the light, and for the next three days, they followed the same routine, up to and including Face, who'd wake suddenly, afraid and shaking, as he wondered who the man in bed with him was and why he was there. Hannibal always woke up along with Face and chastely stroked the younger man's head and arms and reassured him that he was all right, until Face fell back asleep, wrapped in the secure and safe arms of his friend. On the fourth and fifth night, Face slept straight through the night, and when Hannibal awoke on the sixth, he found that he wore Face like a blanket. The younger man had one leg thrown over Hannibal's, one arm around Hannibal's waist, his other hand rested on Hannibal's genitals, while
his head rested on Hannibal's shoulder, tucked under the older man's chin. Hannibal let Face wake naturally, and was pleased when Face merely blinked sleepily into Hannibal's face, and he smiled.
"G'morning." Face said and snuggled closer, then drifted back to sleep. Hannibal was glad that he hadn't had an early call any time all that week, as he liked being able to sleep in and wake up as naturally as they both could. He placed a light kiss on the younger man's forehead and Face's eyes opened. "Um . . . Hannibal?" Face asked, his voice hesitant and still rough with sleep.
"Um . . . when I . . . er . . . fell asleep on you after the . . . uh . . . after crying to sleep . . . er . . . mostly to sleep . . ." Face swallowed, and Hannibal smiled gently. He could always tell by Face's stammering that he was going to ask for
something that had to do with their budding relationship, and a change in it.
"Yes? What is it, Face?" He asked, his voice soft and quiet, and he held Face closer to him. The younger man pressed his body against Hannibal's, as he had done for the last three days, purely instinctually, and Hannibal knew that Face was finally,
physically comfortable with him.
"Well . . . you kissed me."
"You remember that?" Hannibal frowned. "I'm sorry, Face. I should have waited . . ."
"It . . . it's okay." Face swallowed. "That . . . that's kind of . . . uh . . . what gave me the idea to go on and . . . uh . . . do this." He indicated the two of them in the embrace and Hannibal's bed. "It wasn't bad. The kiss I mean." He blushed scarlet. "I... I kind of liked it. Anyway . . . I was . . . was wondering. Would you do it again?"
"Are you sure you're ready for that?" Hannibal asked and looked down at Face seriously. The younger man nodded then turned his head up and presented his lips to Hannibal.
Slowly, so as not to startle the younger man, Hannibal lowered his head until his lips lightly touched on Face's. He felt
Face as he adjusted to the sensation of Hannibal's stubble-roughened face on his own, and then his mouth opened slightly beneath
Hannibal's, and the older man increased the pressure. Face's hands tightened on Hannibal's shoulders as his eyes closed, and Hannibal's lips played with Face's as his tongue darted over their softness. Of its own accord, Face's body arched slightly beside Hannibal's and his mouth opened fully under Hannibal's, whose tongue pressed its advantage, and plundered Face's mouth. Small gasps left Face and he clutched the older man to him, which let Hannibal know, in no uncertain terms, that Face definitely liked what he was doing.
However, Hannibal had to be patient, and he knew it, and it was with GREAT reluctance that he tore himself away from the heady and intoxicating warmth that was Face's mouth. Face almost whimpered with disappointment, and Hannibal stroked his hair. "It's okay." He soothed, and Face sighed. "I just want to take things slowly, and if we'd gone on any longer, slowly would NOT have been an option."
"Pro . . . probably a good plan." Face stuttered, and his eyes shone as he gazed at Hannibal. "I . . . I had no idea . . ."
He swallowed and shook his head. "I didn't expect it to . . . to be like that."
"I know. And it was better than I could have hoped for." He smiled and sighed. "And as much as I really hate to do this, I've got to go to work this afternoon, and so do you if you want to get me that acting job on that new Godzilla flick." He kissed Face's nose, and obviously reluctantly, prepared for work. Both he and Face left the house with a promise of more kisses, and as many as Face could stand, later.
Hannibal took everything in threes, and for three days, they did nothing more than kiss, at which Hannibal noticed that Face got
decidedly better, if not more aggressive. Then Hannibal added touch. At first, he only touched Face above the waist, and when he felt Face's first tentative touches to his own chest, he trembled. Face was a fast learner, and Hannibal loved to watch Face as he pleasured Hannibal, because Face's aspect would always burst into a huge grin whenever Hannibal groaned, inhaled deeply, or bit his lip. When Hannibal excited him, Face was just as uninhibited, which, the older man decided, was one of his favorite things about Face.
Hannibal found that as he thrust his tongue between Face's lips and gently tugged on his nipples, Face arched his back under Hannibal's touch and threw his head back while a long, low moan left him and reverberated in Hannibal's ears, which added to his own pleasure. However, it was then that things grew more difficult, as Hannibal had known they would. Hannibal moved on from the chest and upper torso, and touched Face below the waist.
The first time Hannibal's fingers brushed Face, the younger man froze and a gasp of fear left him. Hannibal immediately removed his fingers and gently clasped Face's face in his hands. "It's okay, Face." He reassured him as Face fought to control his tremors. "It's just me, and I swear I'm not going to hurt you." His calm, quiet voice filtered into Face's frozen mind, and Face blinked up at him.
"I . . . I'm sorry." He swallowed. "It . . . it's just that . . . that I re . . . remember."
"I know, Templeton." Hannibal whispered and kissed the younger man's face as he used his real name to calm the blond and to ground him, though it felt and sounded odd to him. "And it's okay. This is why we're taking things slowly. We can stop for now."
"N . . .no." Face stammered. "I I'll b b be all . . . all r r right."
"Then I want you to keep your eyes open, okay? Just keep your eyes open and look right at me. That way you'll know it's me."
"O okay." Face stammered, and kept his eyes on Hannibal's face, but that first night, it didn't help, and Hannibal was kept
awake most of the night with nightmares about the people who'd hurt his younger lover. The second night wasn't any better, and on the third night, as they lay together, Face tensed as Hannibal moved beside him.
"It's all right, Face. I think I know what I'm doing wrong." Hannibal hugged the man against him and kissed his face.
"You're not doing anything wrong." Face's voice was bitter. "It's me. I'm wrong. I'm just a coward. THAT'S what's
"No." Hannibal shook his head. "You just need to feel like you're in some kind of control of the situation here. Like you're a participant, and not a victim." He stroked the man's hair back from his face. "You see, unlike the others who've taken you, I want you to give, Face, and it's time to give you the power to do so. I'm going to let you touch me. Wherever and however you want to. And then, if you want me to touch you, you just take my hand and guide it wherever you want it to be, wherever it'll bring you the most pleasure."
"You . . . you want me to t t touch you? First!?" Face's eyes widened, and Hannibal smiled, and nodded.
"Yes. I'll just lay here and let you do some exploring. Didn't you always want to be an explorer, or something like that, Tom Sawyer?"
Face tittered and flushed scarlet as he gazed at Hannibal's body. "If . . . if I do some . . . something wrong, you . . . you'll
tell me, right?"
"If you do something wrong." Hannibal nodded, and Face inhaled deeply as he gathered his courage. He bit his lip and traced his fingers over territory he'd already explored and knew very intimately, and Hannibal squirmed under the sweet, familiar, and oh-so-arousing touch. Face grew bolder at Hannibal's obvious enjoyment, and added his mouth and tongue to his efforts. Then, slowly, his long fingers trailed lightly over the length of Hannibal's manhood, and the older man couldn't keep the slight groan of pleasure inside him.
"T . . . th th that felt . . .good?" Face just had to ask, and Hannibal nodded.
"Yes." Hannibal managed to force out and he gasped as Face made another pass with his fingers. Hannibal twisted his hands in the sheets, and Face grew even bolder, and knew what he liked, and decidedly touched Hannibal like that. He watched as Hannibal's eyes squeezed shut and his hips arched slightly into Face's hands. Sweat beaded on his forehead and whimpers of extreme pleasure left the older man's throat. His muscles contracted, and he finally grabbed Face's hands and held them away from him as he took several deep breaths.
"Hannibal?" Face's voice was hesitant. "Did . . . did I so something wrong?"
"No." Hannibal panted as he grinned at Face. "No. Nothing wrong. Everything right. Too close. Didn't want to." He shook his head. "Not without you." He was reduced to one syllable sentences, and Face's grin almost exploded over his face.
"I . . . I almost made you . . .?" He couldn't finish the word and Hannibal kissed Face's lips, and was rewarded with a small moan.
"Yes, you did." He sighed. "And THAT'S what is should be like for BOTH partners. It's not supposed to hurt or to make you afraid." He looked into Face's eyes. "Now, what do you want to do? Do you want me to touch you, or do you want to wait?"
In answer, Face gently guided Hannibal's hand down his side to his hip and with his eyes locked onto Hannibal's, he smiled. "I trust you, Hannibal." He said, and his eyes indeed reflected the almost infinite depth of trust he had for his older friend. With their eyes locked, Hannibal gently explored Face's length and diameter, and a long moan left Face as he clutched at the sheets and trembled in Hannibal's arms. For the first time, Face's trembles were not caused by fear, and of its own accord, his body moved and gave Hannibal greater access to it, which Hannibal took full advantage of. Face was helpless in Hannibal's arms and hands, and the older man reveled in it. Face's body arched under Hannibal's ministrations and Face groaned panted, and writhed. Hannibal had meant to take things slowly, but the body that responded to him so well and so joyously, urged him onward.
He kissed the body where only his fingers had been and he tugged and plucked at Face's skin with his lips and teeth. He
settled himself on Face as his mouth traced a searing path down the younger man's heaving body. Hannibal reveled in the sounds that Face made even as his body shuddered under the intense pleasure the older man's mouth and tongue provided, and Hannibal knew that Face was close to release.
"Hannibal . . ." Face's whisper was thready, and Hannibal gazed into the man's eyes, afraid to see fear there. After all, they were supposed to go slow, but with the new development, they'd jumped a whole HELL of a LOT of fences, and Hannibal was afraid of how Face reacted to the new step in their relationship. He needn't have worried, and grinned as he took in the rapturous expression on Face's aspect, dilated pupils, and passion-darkened, glazed eyes. Need and want vied for space on his face, and his body trembled in wonder and excitement as he gasped for air. "Hannibal, please." Face panted and held out his arms. "Together, Hannibal." He almost begged, and there was nothing at that moment that Hannibal wouldn't have done for
his younger lover.
He slid up Face's body and trapped their erections between their heaving bodies. His mouth captured Face's as he gently rode his beautiful companion and Face responded willingly as he gave himself over to Hannibal's every kiss, every caress, and every thrust, and met them with his own. He wrapped his legs around Hannibal's thighs and threaded his arms through Hannibal's until his hands pressed into the man's muscular back, and he arched under Hannibal's body as moans, groans, and pants filled the quiet of the bungalow.
Hannibal knew that Face was on the brink of his final moment, and he knew that Face wasn't sure if he should give in to his bodily demands or not. "Let go, Face." He smiled and kissed the younger man. "It's all right. I'm right here with you."
Hannibal watched Face's aspect, and knew the exact moment that Face surrendered himself to Hannibal and truly belonged, physically at least, to the older man. He smiled as Face's breath quickened and he threw his head back as his body gripped convulsively around Hannibal. Face's mouth opened and Hannibal's name was almost torn from his throat as the blond head ground itself into the pillow below his head. A moment later, Hannibal felt the warmth as it spread between their bodies, and it was enough to push him over the edge as well. He clutched the still-trembling body to him and the after effects of Face's climax melded with his own orgasm, and what seemed like hours later, the two of them collapsed onto the bed, side by side.
"Wow, Hannibal." Face whispered when he was capable of speech again, as in-eloquent as it was for the man who could usually talk Eskimos who lived in igloos into buying refrigerators. "Wow."
"Yeah, wow." Hannibal smiled, then sighed. "We weren't supposed to reach that level of things for a while yet." He
frowned. "We were supposed to take things slowly and work our way up gradually."
"Too slow . . . not good." Face sighed, and his eyes drooped sleepily and gazed at Hannibal from under his eyelashes. "But, Hannibal? Is . . . er . . . that it?"
"Is what it?" Hannibal was confused, and Face flushed scarlet.
"Well, you said you . . . uh . . . wanted me." He blinked. "And you . . . we . . . uh . . ." He indicated the stickiness on his abdomen. "Er . . . can we do this . . . uh . . . again?"
"Do you want to do it again?" Hannibal asked as he ran his hand down the side of Face's cheek and the younger man turned his head into the affection, then rubbed against Hannibal's palm like a cat, as he yawned and snuggled up against Hannibal's body.
"Oh yes, Hannibal. Definitely." He managed to answer, but his eyes closed, and a moment later, Hannibal knew Face was asleep.
"We can do this whenever you want." Hannibal sighed and cradled the warm body against his, kissed the man's cheek, then cleaned the two of them up. With Face wrapped tightly in his arms, Hannibal too fell asleep, and the night passed in contented bliss for them.
Three Months Later
Hannibal had to wonder where Face got his energy from. He had discovered that once Face's passions and his inhibitions were released, his ardor, his creativeness, and his willingness knew no boundaries – all but one at least, and that was imposed by Hannibal himself. He had decided that since the two men weren't destined to be together forever, they weren't ever to go 'all the way'. Truth to tell, Face was a little weirded out by the idea anyway, and had readily agreed to the stipulation.
But then, one night, Hannibal came home from the studio, and overheard Face as he sobbed piteously in the living room. It hadn't been Face's night to stay there, and Hannibal almost broke down his own door as he burst into the place, expecting the absolute worst. However, all he saw was Face, as he sat, hunched over, on the couch, obviously in absolute misery as he clutched a piece of paper to his chest. Hannibal looked at Face in shocked silence, and knew that the last time he'd seen Face so devastated, had been the night of the Fake Pardon catharsis.
"Face! What's wrong!?" Hannibal threw himself at Face and gathered the anguished man into his arms.
"It's back." Face raged against the older man. "Oh damn it, Hannibal! It's back! It was supposed to be gone forever! I was supposed to have beat it once and it'd never come back, but it HAS come back!"
"Face." Hannibal took the distraught man's face gently in his hands and looked steadily into his eyes and tried to calm Face, but it did no good as Face was immersed deeply in hysteria. "Face, what are you talking about? What's come back?" Hannibal received no answer and finally, he just rocked Face back and forth as he fought desperately to calm the violently shaking and upset man. "I'm here for you Face." He whispered. "And I love you. You've got to know that I know that whatever's wrong we can work it out together." He rained kisses on Face's face, and the younger man's tears stopped, and he looked wonderingly up at Hannibal.
"L . . . love?" Face stared at the older man, and Hannibal ran a hand over his face, as Face blinked at him. "You . . . you
love . . . me?"
"Yeah." Hannibal sighed and the admission was almost torn from him. "Aw damn, Face. I was going to pick a better time – a better way – to tell you. I . . . I was hoping I wouldn't shock you." He sighed. "I really thought I could do it. I thought that I could just be with you and it'd get you out of my system. I thought we could be lovers and then go our separate ways when we found someone else." He shook his head. "But it didn't work out that way. Not for me at least." He smiled and ran a finger over Face's lips. "I tasted a small part of you, and it left me wanting more . . . so much more. I've never been so wrapped up in one person – male or female – before."
"You love me." Face repeated, and Hannibal nodded.
He gently wiped the tears from Face's face. "But, I'll understand if you don't feel the same. After all, we didn't start
this to fall in love . . ."
"But I did! I mean, I DID fall in love with you!" Face exclaimed, and his tears started anew. "But we can't! I can't! Not now! It's too late for us . . . for me!"
"Face." Hannibal was frightened, and he gripped the younger man's hands in his. "Why not? Why can't we be in love? What's happened!?"
"It's just so unfair!" Face howled. "So damned, FUCKING unfair!" Hannibal started in shock and stared at the younger man, who very rarely used profanity and never the 'F' word. Then Face dropped his head to his chest and couldn't meet Hannibal's eyes. "I'm dying, Hannibal." He finally forced out. "I've got three months to six at the very most, to live."
"What!?" Hannibal stared at the vibrant young man before him. "What are you talking about? You aren't . . ."
"Yes, I am! It's back and this time it's going to kill me!" Face scowled and looked at the floor. "I had cancer once, Hannibal, when I was twelve. And after two years of hell, it finally went into remission, and I thought it was going to stay away. This time, though, there's nothing they can do. It's cancer again, but this time it grew too fast and too big for them to catch, and is growing even as we talk. They . . . they said we could try chemo, again, but the outlook is less than a 15 per cent survival rate, and that's the high end of the odds." He burst into tears. "I've just found you, Hannibal, and now I'm going to lose you."
"Face." Hannibal wrapped his arms around Face. "You haven't lost me. I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere. Especially not now. Not when you need me the most."
"Love me, Hannibal." Face said into the bigger man's chest.
"What?" Hannibal was confused. "I do love you."
"No, Hannibal. I mean love me all the way. I've only got maybe three good months, although at this point, good is a relative term, I suppose, but I don't want to waste them. Not like I wasted three years. Please, Hannibal, do this for me." Face wasn't ashamed to beg, and he was too scared not to, and he did with his words, his eyes, and his body, and finally, Hannibal held his younger lover's face in his hands and looked into his eyes.
"Not tonight, Tem, okay?" He asked, his voice gentle and calm, and he ran his hands through Face's hair that had gotten
considerably longer since they'd been away from Stockwell. He inhaled the scent of the musky-smelling shampoo, ran his eyes over every detail of Face's aspect, pressed his ear to Face's chest and listened to every beat of his heart, then ran the tip of his tongue over Face's tender skin. "Face, did you get another opinion? What about Chemotherapy?"
"I did." Face whispered. "I went and got three other opinions and all the same. I . . . I could try the chemo, if you ask
me too, Hannibal, but it hurt so bad and I was always sick and nothing they did could totally take away either symptom, except to
completely knock me out. And like I said, the Doctors all said the odds were horrible, and they didn't recommend it. Not with how little time I've got to be strong enough to survive the treatments. I . . . I know you like to play the long shots, Hannibal, and you have this way of pulling off miracles, but . . .but I . . ." He looked down, ashamed of his own weakness. "I don't think I can go through all that hell again, only to have to die anyway."
Hannibal stroked the blond hair back and his heart broke as he looked at Face's pale aspect. "I won't ask that of you, Face. After all, you know how I feel about death with dignity." He whispered, and his voice shook. "Tonight, though, I want to make you mine in every way I can think of, except for that one. Face, I know this is selfish of me, but I want to be able to remember everything about you. I want to be able to close my eyes and remember how you sound when you laugh, cry, yell, whisper, moan, and everything in between. I want it all tonight, Face, hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch, and the other can wait for another night."
Face threw himself into Hannibal's arms and held onto the bigger man tightly and wept against him. "Anything, Hannibal. You can do anything you want, just as long as you still want me."
"I'll always want you, Face." Hannibal assured the younger man and pulled him into his arms, helped him off the couch, and walked with him to the bedroom, where he laid him gently on the covers.
Hannibal buried his face in the softness of Face's sunshine blond hair and inhaled his scent all the way down his body and
imprinted them into his mind and memory. Hannibal then slowly undressed Face and gazed at every curve and plane of his body until he had a complete visual map of his younger lover – his love – and he moved to sound. He pressed his head against Face's chest and listened to his heartbeat, his breathing, and suddenly, he tickled the younger man and Face's peal of unexpected laughter sank into his mind as well. He touched Face in his most erogenous zones and Face gasped and moaned, and Hannibal reveled in those sounds as well. When he pulled away, he added Face's whimper of protest to his repertoire. Then he ran his fingers and his hands over Face. He imagined that he could almost see the electric responses of Face's skin to his touch as Face writhed beneath him.
"Hannibal! Hannibal, please!" Face almost wept in frustration, want, and need as he arched desperately into the hands
of his lover, and Hannibal catalogued those sounds as well. Face shuddered and begged, but Hannibal cupped his hands around Face's sweaty face and smiled.
"Not yet, Face." He said and kissed Face's aspect, then flicked his tongue over the extremely sensitized flesh of the younger man. Face wrapped his hands around the railing of the big brass bed until his knuckles were white and he shivered almost violently as Hannibal's tongue pressed onward and he imprinted every taste of Face's body into his mind. Hannibal took Face into his mouth, and Face's hips surged upward beyond his control, as Hannibal focused every one of his senses on Face. It was heady and intoxicating, and Hannibal reveled in the fact that he, and he alone, made the younger man absolutely helpless with passion and mindless in his purely physical reaction to Hannibal's stimuli. Face couldn't stop the upward thrusts into Hannibal's mouth, and the older man didn't want him to.
"Hannibal . . ." Face absolutely gasped, and writhed. "Hannibal, if you don't . . . don't stop, I'm gonna' . . ." He couldn't finish and Hannibal increased his attentions to Face. A howl of pure pleasure was pulled from Face's throat and his body
"I want you to, Face." Hannibal broke off and spoke. "I want to taste all of you."
"But . . ." Face's fists twisted in the bed sheets and his voice was hoarse with the need for release. "You've never . . . no man . . ."
"You, Face. Let me have you." Hannibal once again took the impossibly hard shaft into his mouth and his tongue possessed the entire thing. Face pressed upward until his entire lower body was off the bed and he again gripped the rails in his hands. Hannibal felt every muscle in Face's body as they contracted all at once, and Face's warmth spilled into his mouth. He closed his eyes and swallowed every bit, even as his stomach clenched at the first taste. However, he forced himself to relax, and he realized that it was literally Face's life that he had taken into his body. The act took on a far more spiritual meaning to him, and he knew that he had done more than just imprinted Face into his memory. He had truly imprinted the younger man into – and onto – his life.
Tremors that he associated with a post-climax Face, violently shook his younger lover, and he stayed where he was and simply watched as Face collapsed to the bed in exhaustion. Hannibal realized that Face wasn't just a sum of a bunch of parts, sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feelings. He was a whole man, and one that Hannibal loved unquestioningly and with a devotion that would normally have terrified the older man. However, there was something about Face that made loving him, and wanting him as much as he actually did, a perfectly natural and normal thing, and Hannibal smiled as he realized there was only one more thing he could do to hold onto the treasure, for even a little while longer, that was Templeton Peck.
He slid up to the exhausted and extremely sated man, then took him into his arms. Face snuggled even closer to Hannibal than either had thought possible, and as Face's eyelids drifted closed, Hannibal kissed him.
"Marry me, Face." He said, and the blue eyes opened briefly, startled, but no less sleepy.
"Can't. Not legal." His eyes drifted shut, and Hannibal kissed him again.
"Marry me anyway. Can't acknowledge it legally, but I want you to marry me, Face."
"Ring?" Face's voice was barely audible, and Hannibal nodded.
"If you want."
"Elephant." Face sighed.
"You want an elephant?" Hannibal was startled to say the least, and Face giggled as his head dipped lower on Hannibal's chest.
"No. Ring. Elephant. You . . ." Face's words were lost in a sigh as his head sank onto Hannibal's abdomen, and the older man grinned.
"So, you'll marry me?"
"Yes, Hannibal. I Marry. You sleep." Face murmured, and a half-second later, was fast asleep. Hannibal's heart leapt in his chest and he grinned, then maneuvered into a laying position, and kissed Face's closed eyelids. He didn't know if Face would remember the conversation when he woke, but Hannibal would.
"Thank you, Face." He smiled and followed his lover and love, into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Two weeks later, after a particularly depressing visit to the Doctor's – a trip which Face had insisted on going on alone, Face
entered the bungalow that Hannibal had insisted that Face move into with him after they'd discovered Face was ill, and the younger man stopped in surprise, and no small amount of shock as Hannibal met him at the door. He opened his mouth to speak, but Hannibal kissed him soundly, took his coat, and handed him a glass of wine. Face was suddenly assaulted by the overwhelmingly delicious smells of his favorite foods being cooked, and he realized that for the first time since he'd found out about the new cancer, he was actually hungry.
"Uh . . . Hannibal." Face said hesitantly as he noticed an inordinate amount of candles that filled the bungalow, as well as the odd behavior of his older lover. "What's going on?"
"A celebration." Hannibal smiled mysteriously and Face pursed his lips, which Hannibal took the quick opportunity to kiss.
"A celebration?" Face refused to be distracted. "There's no birthday or anniversaries that I know of. It's not a Holiday..." Face's aspect suddenly cleared and he grinned. "I know! You got that movie deal!?" He shook his head even as he grimaced. "No. That can't be it. I'm your manager. I would have heard first . . . duh."
"Nope." Hannibal went back into the kitchen and nodded. "You're right. There aren't, it isn't, and I didn't."
"This . . . this isn't about the . . . the cancer, is it? I mean, I didn't tell you so that you'd act any differently . . ."
"No, Face. This doesn't have a thing to do with the cancer." He tilted his head as he picked up a remote control and
pointed it at the stereo. "Actually it does, but only in the fact that it's expedited things a bit. But I promise you, Face, that's
the only thing it has to do with the cancer." He pushed a button on the remote and soft Classical music filled the bungalow, and with another press of a button on the same remote, he dimmed all the lights.
"You installed a dimmer?" Face couldn't help but question. "When'd you install the dimmer?" He suddenly
frowned. "You didn't go to that audition today, did you? Damn it, Hannibal, I worked for a week schmoozing with idiots to get you that audition . . ."
"B.A. installed it earlier. No, I didn't go to the audition. I had something to do that was a little more important."
Hannibal answered, completely unconcerned and he went around the loft, lit all the candles, then looked at Face. "Something like
concentrating on making you happy. However, I have to put dessert in the oven now. I drew you a bath and there's some stuff all laid out for you if you'd be kind enough to partake of it before dinner as you'll be a little too busy after dinner."
"Uh . . . okay." Face answered with a sigh and knew that he'd get nothing more out of Hannibal until the man was ready to tell him what was on his mind. He entered the bathroom as he finished his wine and stopped in shock. Candles had already been lit and a bubblebath had been drawn. A black silk robe hung over a hook on the door, while matching pajamas were folded on the edge of the sink. Face ran his hands over the softness of the material, then looked over at the door where Hannibal leaned against the frame, and he smiled proudly. "You bought these . . . for me?" Face stared at the older man.
"Who else would I buy them for?" Hannibal shrugged nonchalantly, but was secretly VERY pleased that Face liked the
gifts. "You'd better get into the bath before the water gets cold though."
"Okay, Hannibal." Face sighed and undressed, then lowered himself into the wonderfully warm water. He leaned back and closed his eyes as the warmth and the comfort seeped into his weary body. "Oh gods, this feels sooooo good."
"I'm glad." Hannibal's voice was right beside him and Face started as Hannibal knelt beside the tub. He smiled and squeezed some soap onto a soft cloth and ran it over Face's body, and Face sighed again.
"You've got quite a romantic . . . not to mention a hitherto unknown domestic streak in you." Face looked into the strong
countenance that hovered over his and he knew that he loved Hannibal more than he'd ever loved anyone in his life. He also knew that as Hannibal bathed him, the older man felt the same for him. For the first time in literally years, Face knew true contentment and he allowed himself to sink into that feeling. When the bath ended, Hannibal helped Face out of the tub, vigorously toweled him off, then helped him into the clothing he'd purchased that very day. He escorted Face to the table and served him a fabulous dinner and they made small talk all throughout. After they'd eaten, Hannibal cracked open a bottle of champagne and poured two glasses, then led the slightly shell-shocked Face to the livingroom. "Uh . . . what about the dishes?" Face asked, but Hannibal merely smiled and sat Face down on the couch.
"Later." He answered. "I've got something more important to do right now."
"Hannibal? Are you all right?" Face was more and more worried by the minute by his Colonel's strange behavior, and the smile that never left his older lover's face, didn't set his mind any more at ease. Hannibal took Face's left hand in his and raised it to his lips, then placed a kiss on the trembling fingers.
"I'm fine, Face. " He answered. "In fact, I'm more fine than I've ever been. Two weeks ago, you agreed to do something with and for me."
"I did?" Face looked at Hannibal. "All I remember from then is exploding fireworks and lights and sound, and then sleep..." His voice ground to a halt as his memory kicked in. And a slight tremor passed through him. Suddenly, he froze and stared at the older man. "Hannibal, you asked me to marry you, didn't you?"
"I did?" Hannibal looked perplexed for a moment, then nodded. "Oh, yes, that's right. I did. I was there. In fact, you
agreed and said yes." He grinned. "You even chose your ring."
"I did?" Face collapsed to the back of the couch as Hannibal knelt before him and held up a gold ring in the shape of an elephant whose head and trunk met in a seamless band. "I chose an elephant?" Face blinked and then nodded. "Oh wait! I get it." The grin lit up his face. "It's you! It's perfect!"
"I think so too." Hannibal smiled gently and his voice was low and solemn. "Lieutenant Templeton Arthur Peck, I thee wed." Hannibal kissed the ring, then placed it on the third finger of Face's left hand.
"Hannibal . . . I . . ." Face's voice was soft and he blinked back tears, not sure what to say.
"And this is my ring. I think it fits you perfectly too, Face." Hannibal told him and held up another gold band, only in the
shape of a fox whose head and tail also met in a seamless band. He placed it in Face's hand and held up his own left hand.
"Hannibal . . ." Face swallowed. "The guys . . . Murdock, B.A., and Frankie . . . they'll talk . . ."
"I don't care . . ."
"But I do. With me, they'll see this on my finger and think I got it from some woman, but with you, if they see a ring on your finger, they'll know something's up and pester you incessantly for information." He sighed. "You see, right now, Hannibal, it's our time. Our moment. Our decision. Our life. I don't want to have to share it yet with anyone but you. Not yet at any rate." He looked down. "Not with so little time left to ourselves. Would . . . would you really mind all that much if I put it on your middle finger? I mean, it'll mean the same thing, it'll just be on another finger, that's all. I just want you all to myself right now and not have to answer a lot of questions . . ."
"It's okay, Face. I understand." Hannibal smiled, and Face knew that he really did, and sighed in relief. He took Hannibal's hand in his and Hannibal inhaled deeply as Face thoroughly wet Hannibal's finger with his tongue, then slid on the ring.
"With this ring, Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith, I thee wed." Face smiled and tears glittered in his eyes at the solemnity of the occasion, even as Hannibal drew him into his arms. They shared a kiss of love and joy, and finally, Hannibal backed away.
"And now, Face . . ." Hannibal's voice was low and throaty and the tone was one that never failed to make Face's eyelids droop with desire or his mouth part as his body remembered Hannibal's mind-numbing kisses. "It's time. He took Face's hands in his and led the younger man up the candlelit hall to the equally candlelit bedroom.
Face stood before Hannibal and bit his lip as Hannibal gently took the sides of Face's cheeks in his hands. He ran the tip of his tongue over Face's eyebrows and the creases that led downward, gently nibbled the delicate skin of his chin, and finally captured Face's mouth with his. A soft moan left Face as Hannibal's hands undid the robe and slid it sensuously down his lover's body. Face closed his eyes and let his hands run over Hannibal's chest and slowly undid the buttons on the man's shirt.
Hannibal bit his lip and his voice caught in his throat at Face's freedom and his touch as the younger man removed Hannibal's shirt. It fluttered to the floor and landed on top of the robe, even as Face ran his mouth over Hannibal's chest and his hardness touched against Hannibal's as the older man pressed himself against Face. The two men groaned as the heat built between them and Hannibal kissed the tender flesh of Face's neck, undid the buttons of his pajama top, then left kisses where the buttons had been, and Face shivered as the soft silk slid off his body.
Face trembled as he opened Hannibal's belt and struggled slightly with the button on Hannibal's jeans as his erection made the button and zipper difficult to undo. Finally the openers gave, and as Face slid the denims down Hannibal's hips, he lightly kissed the appendage over the silk boxers that Hannibal had chosen to wear just for the occasion. Face ran his hands back up Hannibal's legs as the man stepped from the pants, then slid his hands under the silk and fondled his lover – his spouse – as he had so often before, but the added weight of the ring on his finger made the moment all the more special for him. A deep groan left Hannibal's throat and he leaned his own head back as the silk boxers slowly followed the path down his legs that his pants had taken, and the heat of Face's mouth dispelled the sudden chill.
Face gripped Hannibal's buttocks in his hands and his fingers kneaded the muscled flesh. It was his turn to do for Hannibal what the man had done for him, and he delighted in the fact that Hannibal received as much pleasure from his touch that he had from Hannibal's. Face slid up Hannibal's body and Hannibal traced his hands down Face's chest, under the waistband of the black silk pajama bottoms, and crushed the younger man against him as his mouth sought Face's and his fingers traced the curves of Face's naked skin. Face gripped Hannibal's shoulders and his pelvis ground against Hannibal's as whimpers of passion left his constricted throat.
Hannibal pushed his lover to the bed and the last obstacle to their love, Face's pajama bottoms, which were thrown to the floor onto the pile of clothing. Hannibal plundered Face's mouth with his tongue, and one hand stimulated Face's nipples while the other fondled Face until the younger man writhed beneath him and his body shook with each pass of Hannibal's hands. Hannibal reached over to the nightstand for the tube of gel he'd left there earlier, as he continued to kiss Face. Face was so lost in Hannibal's touch and his kisses that he was unaware of what Hannibal had done, and he suddenly froze as Hannibal's gelled finger touched the one spot they'd never explored and shared. Face's eyes went wide as a cry of unexpected pleasure and ecstasy left his throat.
"Hannibal. Oh gods, Hannibal!" Face couldn't keep the man's name inside him and Hannibal grinned and continued to prepare his younger lover – his spouse – for their coupling. Face's aspect was flushed, his eyes – when they were open – were glazed with passion and desire, and his whole body threw itself into the arousal that Hannibal gave and took from him. Hannibal finally withdrew his fingers and Face lamented the loss. His eyes followed Hannibal's movement as he slathered the gel onto himself. Face reached down and his hands joined Hannibal's as, together, they prepared Hannibal for his entry into Face.
"You're certain you want this?" Hannibal's voice was low, and Face smiled as he sighed.
"I am, Hannibal. I want you to be a part of me. I . . . I can't guarantee how long I can do this with you and I don't want to waste any more time. I'm placing my heart, my mind, and now my willing body, into your hands." His smile was beatific and Hannibal kissed him. He checked to see if Face was still ready from him, and the groan that left Face as he arched his hips was all the permission Hannibal needed. He shoved his tongue into Face's mouth, and at the unexpected, but nowhere near unpleasant roughness, Face clutched Hannibal's shoulders and arched his body. Hannibal used the distraction his tongue provided, and positioned himself over Face, then let the younger man feel him as he poised just on the brink. "Please, Hannibal. Now." Face begged, and Hannibal needed no more urging. He gently entered Face and Face gasped at the initial pain as Hannibal's fullness stretched him, and Hannibal stopped for a moment as Face adjusted to the feeling.
Hannibal gripped Face's hips in his hands and slowly pushed all the way into his beautiful lover, whose eyes closed as his body rose and met Hannibal's. Hannibal tried to control himself and tried to keep things slow and easy and gentle, but once Face realized he wasn't going to be hurt beyond the initial entry, he threw himself into the act. As always, Face's wanton display of physical enjoyment raised Hannibal's level of excitement and arousal, and he pushed Face further and further along toward the edge. He loved the way Face gave himself over completely to him and their passion rose to a fever pitch.
Without any contact lost, the older man pulled Face onto his lap and let Face take over the speed of the movement. Face latched onto Hannibal's mouth as he rode the older man and then threw his head back as clasped his hands behind Hannibal's head. He panted, gasped, moaned and cried out as his passion grew, and Hannibal held onto Face's back and steadied the man as his nails dug into Hannibal's shoulders.
"Hannibal! Oh gods, yes! Hannibal!" Face exclaimed and the name was a litany – a mantra that only grew louder with each thrust. Suddenly, Face's entire body froze and Hannibal's name was literally screamed as Face's hands gripped the man's shoulders convulsively and he shuddered violently. That last expression of love and trust proved to be Hannibal's undoing, and he filled Face with his salty warmth as he clutched the heaving body against his.
Face hugged Hannibal to him and buried his face in his neck as his shoulders shook. Hannibal held Face until he felt wetness on his neck, and smelled salt, heard the hitch in Face's breathing, and he knew that Face was crying. "Face?" Hannibal lay him down and gently withdrew from the younger man's body. "Face, did . . . did I hurt you?" Face shook his head and continued to sob. "Then what's wrong, Face? C'mon, talk to me, Tem, please." He stroked Face's sweaty hair back from his face, and Face reached up and ran his fingers along Hannibal's strong jawline.
"I love you, Hannibal." Face whispered. "I've never loved anyone like I love you. I don't want to die, Hannibal. And . . .
and it's now official. As of today, I'm going to die, Hannibal. Not even Chemo could stop the growth of the cancer now. I . . . I asked about it, Hannibal, 'cause I don't want to leave you, but it's going to happen anyway, and I'm so scared." Hannibal gathered the distraught man into his arms and both men clung to the other. Hannibal stroked Face's blond hair.
"I love you too, Face." Hannibal finally said. "And I don't want to lose you either. I'm here, Face, and we'll get through
this . . . however long we've got . . . together. Just like we've gotten through everything else." He didn't realize that he too cried
until the salty tears ran down his own cheeks and he tasted them in the corners of his mouth. "I love you too." He reaffirmed and rocked Face back and forth in his arms until Face relaxed fully against Hannibal. Face's head slowly dipped downward, and Hannibal kissed the sleeping man on the top of his head, laid him back on the bed, then cleaned them both up. He didn't want to waste a moment of his time with Face, so rather than sleep, which his body desperately craved, he lay beside Face and watched him as he slept.
Two hours later, Face awoke and sighed as he snuggled further into Hannibal's embrace. "Love me, Hannibal." Face whispered and Hannibal smiled.
"What? Again?" He asked, and Face chuckled.
"Unless you need to sleep, old man." Face teased and grinned mischievously.
"Old man?" Hannibal poked Face in one of his most ticklish spots and the younger man almost jumped across the bed as his laughter rang throughout the bungalow. "I'll give you an old man."
"I certainly hope so." Face chuckled again and Hannibal gathered the warm and willing body into his arms and the passion flared between the two of them once again.
A blissful month passed for the two of them, but then the headaches started. They were small ones at first and were easily controlled with aspirin, but they grew steadily worse, and Hannibal and Face knew it was time – past time, actually – to tell the others of Face's illness. The team, though they hadn't exactly been separated, did live in different parts of L.A., and though it was difficult, they managed to get together every couple of weeks, give or take a week.
Unfortunately, and unavoidably, Face looked particularly ill the night they called the team over, and neither he nor Hannibal knew if it was because of the illness or the fear of having to tell their friends that Face was indeed sick . . . and dying. When he answered the door, the fact that he looked sick was the first thing they noticed.
"You look tired, Faceman." B.A. frowned at the normally vibrant man, and they all realized his words were an understatement.
"Yeah, you doing okay, man?" Frankie asked and Face looked at them and worried his bottom lip almost savagely.
"Face, what's wrong?" Murdock looked at Face's hunched posture and pain-tightened expression, then looked up at Hannibal who placed a supportive hand on Face's shoulder.
"Ya' ain't okay, are ya', Faceman?" B.A.'s voice was gruff, but quiet, and Face shook his head, even as his throat constricted painfully.
"No. I'm not. I . . .I've got can . . .cancer."
"But . . . they can do something about it, right?" Frankie asked and looked back from Face to Hannibal.
"Not . . . not this time." Face swallowed. He sighed as he realized that telling his friends was harder than he'd first thought, and he was glad that Hannibal was with him.
"This time?" Murdock's voice was low. "You had it before?"
"Yes. When I was twelve. They . . . they cured it . . . then. But now there's nothing . . . nothing they can do. It grew,
and is growing, too fast and there's nothing they can do about it now." Face ran a shaking hand through his hair.
"You never told us you had cancer before." B.A. fairly accused, and Face looked down.
"There wasn't . . . wasn't any reason to. It was cured."
"How . . . how long?" Murdock's voice was barely above a whisper, and he knew that as hard as it was on him to hear, it was even harder on Face to have to tell them. Face sighed as he knew what it was Murdock really asked, though he hadn't voiced the full question.
"Two . . . two months. Maybe three at the most. I . . . I've had it two months already. I . . . I had to tell you. I didn't want to make you worry or anything but I . . . I couldn't just go off and . . . die . . . without you knowing."
"Wouldn't been right not ta' tell us." B.A. looked the young man over as if he tried to memorize him, and Face dropped his eyes.
"Yeah, Face. It's hard on us knowing, but if you died, and we didn't know it was going to happen, it'd be even harder." Murdock reinforced B.A.'s words and Frankie nodded.
"We've been through a lot together." Frankie told him. "And I may not have been an original member of the team, but Face, you're my friend, and I want to be there for you, just like you were there for me."
"I . . . I don't want you guys to put your lives on hold for me. We've all waited so long to get lives, real lives going . . ."
Face looked at the floor.
"Faceguy, you're our friend, and friends stick together through anything and everything." Murdock frowned at Face. "Hell, Face, I'd sell my whole flight school and go back in the VA, if it meant you'd be okay."
"I'd even work for Stockwell again." Frankie answered, and B.A. nodded.
"I'd go back ta' bein' on the run again." The bigger man reassured Face, and he looked at the three of them.
"I . . . I don't know how to say thank you." Face shook his head. "Last time . . . last time it was just Father Magill and me and sometimes he couldn't be there. He never . . . never heard me scream." Face shuddered. "Sometimes I don't know which hurt worse, the cancer or the chemo." He smiled weakly. "Well, I guess now I'll find out."
"Ain't goin' through this thing alone, l'il brother, no matter how it ends. Ain't gonna' let ya'." B.A. said and hugged the
"B.A.'s right." Frankie nodded and clasped Face's hand in his. "I watched my Uncle go through this, and I wasn't allowed to go near him because I was only a kid." He frowned. "Well, I'm not a kid anymore, Face, and you couldn't keep me away if you tried, so you'd better not try."
"What they said, goes for me too Face, and if you need anything, anything at all, you just call." Murdock nodded his
agreement, then looked over at Hannibal. "I mean that, Hannibal. If either of you need anything, all you have to do is call me." He smiled sadly and shook his head. "Well, now we know why the two of you moved in together. Wondered about that."
"Hannibal . . . Hannibal's agreed to . . . to take care of me." Face looked down at the floor and they watched as he almost shrank into himself in shame. "When I can't."
"If ya' need help, like the crazy foo' said, just call and I'll be here." B.A. assured both Face and Hannibal, and Frankie
nodded less than a heartbeat later.
"I'll do what I can too, Face. Actually . . . " Frankie swallowed. "I can recommend a very good Hospice nurse for . . .
later. My . . . my father's was great."
"Thanks, Murdock. B.A.. Frankie. I don't think we could get through this if we were alone right now." Hannibal nodded and smiled at the others, who nodded, and it was quiet for a moment, then Face cleared his throat.
"I . . . I do have one . . . request." Face looked around at them shyly, and they waited expectantly. "When . . . when it's my time to . . . to . . . uh . . . go, so to speak, would you come here? Would you be with me until . . . until . . ." Face couldn't
finish and B.A. nodded.
"I'll be there." He promised.
"Anytime, no matter what, and with bells on." Murdock nodded.
"Just call, Face, and I'm so there for you." Frankie made the sentiment unanimous, and the relief that passed over Face's
aspect was at once humbling and gratifying to those who saw it.
"Then I guess I've really got nothing to be afraid of." Face grinned, weak though it was. "Although I have to wonder what I did right that gave me four of the best friends anyone could ever ask for."
"When you find out, let me know." Murdock winked and Face chuckled. "Seriously, Face. We are your friends, no matter what happens, and don't you forget it." Murdock grinned as Face laughed loudly and more naturally than he had in a while, and it brought a welcome warmth to the room.
"Oh, believe me, I'll remember that, but you guys better make sure you remember it, especially after I've relieved you of all your money tonight. Hannibal's planned one hell of a poker game." Face told them and turned to the table, his eyes suspiciously bright. He missed the look that the four exchanged over his head, as well as the 'thank you' that Hannibal mouthed gratefully.
The days that Hannibal was at the studio, Face put his affairs in order, and the nights that Hannibal was home, he made sure that Face's time was put to better use. However, stronger and stronger pain medications were needed and used, by Face to control his pain, but then, the nausea hit.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a gradual thing, where the sickness built up, but it happened all at once, and with increased frequency, which made it all the worse for Face . . . and for Hannibal as well. More often than not, when he got up or came in from work, Face was hunched over the toilet, and heaved until they both thought his ribs would break from the sheer force of his vomiting. There had been a slow weight loss over the first two months, but after the sickness hit, Face couldn't keep any kind of solid food down, and the pounds just seemed to melt away, which weakened him almost to the point of immobility.
He had always been extremely proud of his physique and had worked hard to keep it as good as he could get it. However, though he tried to keep up his exercise, he and Hannibal were forced to watch as muscle and fat, in equal amounts, seemed to just run off Face's frame. In a few short weeks, Face was reduced to almost nothing more than skin and bones, and between that and the cancer, he was in almost constant pain. The night that they tried to make love but had to stop because Face was in too much pain to continue, just about broke them both.
"I'm so sorry, Hannibal." Face wept as he trembled in Hannibal's arms and tried to fight the pain. "I . . . I just can't."
"It's all right, Face." Hannibal kissed the defeated younger man on the forehead. "We knew we'd have to stop sooner or later."
"But I don't want to stop. It's so unfair to you." He looked away. "Hannibal... if... if you want, you... you can go... go somewhere else."
Anger blazed across Hannibal's face and he gripped Face's fingers in his, and immediately loosened his grip as Face whimpered in pain. "Face. When I gave you this . . ." He indicated the ring Face wore. "And you gave me this . . ." He indicated the ring that he wore. "We exchanged more than just our bodies and a couple pieces of gold. We gave each other our hearts and our love." He pulled the gaunt body against him and kissed Face's eyes, his nose, and finally his lips. "I love YOU, Face, not just your parts. I may call you Face, and that may have been your nickname, but to me, Templeton Peck Smith, you were NEVER just a walking body part, and I never want to hear you say you are, or even intimate it."
"Thank you so much, Hannibal." Face whispered and snuggled closer to Hannibal. "I don't know what I did to deserve you, but whatever it was, I'm so glad I did."
"You were just you, Face." Hannibal kissed the weakened man's forehead. "You didn't have to do anything else. I, on the other hand, have to ask what it was that I did to deserve you."
"You gave me chance." Face yawned. "You gave a smart-assed punk a chance to show that he was more than just a good-for-nothing crook taking up space in the military. Love you . . . Hannibal." He sighed and was asleep a moment later as the pain medication kicked in. Hannibal curled around the thinning male and buried his face in Face's hair. He knew that Face wouldn't wake until later, when the pain medication wore off, and, as he did every night after Face fell into his drugged sleep, Hannibal let his tears fall and they dampened the darkened, thinning, coarse hair of the man he loved.
"I love you too, Face." He whispered and eventually followed his lover into sleep.
One week later, Face was completely bed-ridden, and Hannibal walked off the set. Face tried to remain cheerful, especially when the rest of the team would visit. However, as the days passed, it was clear by his dulled eyes, listless movements, and the pain-filled moans he made even in his drugged sleep, that he was closer to death than to life.
Four and a half months after he'd gotten the news about the cancer, and as the moon rose over Los Angeles, Face opened his eyes. "Hannibal." He whispered, and the man beside him awakened and was instantly alarmed, as Face hadn't spoken a word in three days.
"F . . .Face? Tem?" He stammered and Face raised a weak, thin, bony hand that trembled and was covered in unnaturally transparent skin through which blue veins stood out like twisted ropes.
"I . . . I think it's time. Call . . ." Face's voice was raspy and hoarse with disuse, and Hannibal kissed the lips that were
a mere pale shadow of their former vibrant pink.
"Wait for them, please, Face." He pleaded and a sigh answered him as Hannibal dialed the phone. "Hi Murdock. I know that it's after midnight, but Face . . ." He didn't get a chance to finish, and he stopped and listened for a moment, then ran a hand
through his hair. "Yeah." He said after a moment, and his voice shook. "He . . . he said he'd wait. Thanks." He hung up, smiled
weakly at Face, even as he dialed again. "Frankie? It . . . it's Face . . ." He didn't get a chance to say anything else, and a
moment later, he hung up, then dialed one last time. "B.A., Face . . ." Again, he didn't get a chance to finish, and he hung up. "They're on their way, Face." He said as he almost dove back to Face's side.
"Do . . . do you think I'm being selfish?" Face asked and Hannibal took his hand in his, then wrapped the skeletal fingers
around his bigger hand. "Wanting them to be here . . . now?"
"No, Face. And neither do they. There's nothing wrong with wanting your friends with you when you . . . when you . . ." He couldn't finish and Face exhaled.
"I wish . . . I wish we had more . . . more time."
"Some people never get to have what we do, Face." Hannibal sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm just grateful for the time we did have. All things considered, we've been very lucky."
"I . . . I don't . . . want to leave . . . leave you . . . alone."
"I've got the rest of the team, Face." Hannibal answered as his heart broke. "They'll take care of me. I'll take care of them. That's the way it's always been, but you . . . you gave me love, Face. No man can ever give more than that, and no one can ask for any more than that."
Face smiled and blinked his acknowledgment and his gratitude. "Hannibal." He whispered, incapable of any other
speech. "Help . . . help . . . dress?"
"What?" Hannibal was surprised.
"Don't . . . don't want to die . . . in our bed. W . . . want . . . wear clothes. Want . . . sit up. Out th . . . there in . . . in your . . . arms." Face indicated the back porch that overlooked the sparkling pool and as every precious moment passed, he
grew markedly weaker before Hannibal's eyes. The older man's hands trembled as he grew more and more afraid of the loss that he knew he was about to suffer and almost viciously, he swallowed both his fear and his grief as he retrieved the requested clothing, although he chose the outfit. Face slowly inhaled spoke again. "Special . . . underwear . . . in drawer." He said, and Hannibal choked back his tears as he knew why Face needed what he asked for. However, he had to be strong for Face's sake, and he merely nodded and retrieved what he needed. Lovingly, slowly, and extremely gently, Hannibal dressed Face in the black silk pajamas and the robe that he'd bought for Face on their 'wedding' day. He had just finished when there was a loud pounding on the door, and Murdock entered.
"Murdock's here, Face." He said, and his voice caught in his throat.
"Thought . . . B.A. from . . . pounding." Face's smile was soft, and Hannibal gathered his lover and spouse into his arms, and stroked the hair quietly, even as Murdock suddenly barreled into the room. As he had promised, he wore a small string of bells around his neck and Face giggled slightly as they tinkled merrily, but again, no one spoke.
Mrdock was followed about fifteen minutes later by B.A. and Frankie, both of whom complained about traffic. Frankie though complained loudly about B.A.'s driving, and again, Face rewarded their efforts at normalcy with a smile and a small chuckle. With an effort, they forced themselves to ignore the glass-like delicacy and fragility of his once bright, vibrant smile, as Hannibal gently raised Face into his arms and almost wept with the ease with which he lifted the younger man's withered body. However, he held in his tears once more, and carried Face out to the porch, sat back in a lounge chair, and cradled the younger man gently against his chest. Silently, the others joined them and knelt or stood by the duo.
Face slipped a cold hand into B.A's warm and bigger one, and smiled at the others. "Thank you." He whispered. "I . . . I know this . . . hard . . . on you."
"It'd've been harder if ya' hadn't wanted us here." B.A. told him, and Face sighed as his eyes drifted upward and he looked at the night sky that was unusually clear and resplendent with a myriad of stars and a giant full moon.
"So beautiful." He sighed and let his head fall against Hannibal's shoulder. "Only thing I . . . wish f . . . for, more . . . more time." He raised Hannibal's left hand with his own, and the moonlight gleamed off the two golden bands. "Now . . .
Hannibal?" He asked, and Hannibal nodded, then removed the fox ring from his third finger and with Face's help, slid it onto his
fourth. "Colonel . . . John . . . 'Hannibal' . . . Smith, I . . . thee . . . wed." Face forced out even as his voice grew steadily
weaker, and he kissed Hannibal's ring.
"Lieutenant Templeton Arthur Peck, I thee wed." Hannibal's voice, though strong, trembled, and the tears he'd held back, refused to be held any longer, and they ran freely down his face. He laid a light kiss on the elephant ring that Face wore, then they both looked over at their friends, and waited for their reactions.
"We know about you. About how you love each other. The rings cinched it." Murdock told the duo, his voice choked, and not one eye was dry in the entire group.
"We've known for a while now, actually. Probably before you two did." Frankie confirmed with a tight, pained smile.
"It's okay." B.A. nodded. "If any two people belong together, it's you." His voice was gruff, but he smiled down at Face
and gently squeezed the younger man's hand.
"Take . . . care . . . of . . . Hannibal." With what was obviously the last of his strength, the corners of his mouth turned
up and he looked into Hannibal's tear-filled, pale blue eyes. "I . . . love . . . him . . . you . . . so. Love . . . all."
"We will, Faceman. We promise." B.A.'s voice quivered.
Murdock nodded. "We definitely will. Just like we've always taken care of each other before. And you'll probably look in on us from time to time just to make sure." He chuckled, and Face giggled slightly.
Frankie swallowed. "We're not losing a friend, not really. We're gaining a Guardian Angel." He rolled his eyes. "Lord knows we can certainly use one." They all chuckled, though it was weak at best, and Face inhaled deeply, then exhaled.
"Thank . . ." Face breathed and his eyelids drooped wearily. "I . . . love . . . you . . .Han . . .." He couldn't finish and he parted his lips. Hannibal bent his head over Face's face, and their kiss was one that held as much love as their first one had .
"And I love you." Hannibal answered.
"Be . . . o . . . kay?"
"Yes, Face. I'll be okay. I promise. These guys'll make sure of it."
"Can't . . . stay . . ." Face said, his voice soft, and his hands loosened their grip on both Hannibal and B.A..
"Then let go, Face. It's okay. I'm right here with you." Hannibal's voice caught in his throat as his heart and stomach
constricted painfully and he remembered the first time he'd said those exact words to Face, and suddenly his voice stopped as his
heart broke. He listened as the breath left Face's lungs and he kept his hand on Face's wrist and felt the heartbeat as it slowed,
tremored, and then stopped. Face's hand went limp, then slipped from B.A.'s fingers and dropped into Hannibal's lap as his head lolled against Hannibal's shoulder.
A moment later, Hannibal felt a light breeze that might have been a kiss as it brushed his lips, even as the string of bells
around Murdock's neck tinkled, though there was no wind. They looked at each other for a moment, then down at Face's body, and knew that he was gone.
Despite the other men's presences, Hannibal knew he was alone, and he gripped Face's body tightly against him and rocked the lifeless man just as he had the night that Face had sobbed on him after the Fake Pardon. Instead of a younger man's rants against the unfairness of life, the loud, inconsolable wails that filled the night air were those of an old man who had already known great love, grief, and loss, and who knew that there'd only be more of it to follow.
Four years later, a big black man with a Mandinka haircut and lots of gold jewelry, a tall, lanky man with thinning brown hair and wearing a brown leather jacket, and an average height man with ebony hair and chocolate brown skin stood together, grouped around two headstones.
"Lieutenant Templeton 'Faceman' Arthur Peck Smith. Beloved Husband." B.A. read the slightly weathered headstone out loud, and his voice trembled slightly as he swallowed.
"Colonel John ' Hannibal' Smith. Beloved Husband." Murdock read the brand new one, and his voice was thick with grief.
"We've lost 'em both." Frankie finally said, but then he knelt and touched both graves. "But they've found each other."
Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith rolled his shoulders and looked around the white expanse that surrounded him, and raised his eyebrows as he saw only a mist that swirled endlessly at his feet. The mist slowly rolled back, and Hannibal saw that he stood in front of a long, white footbridge. He couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face as he realized that he didn't feel tired, he didn't feel sick, and most importantly, he didn't feel any pain. He sighed as he thought about how much pain there had been, and he shook his head. It was definitely a relief to be over that, and, not knowing what else to do, he placed his foot on the bridge.
"Hannibal." A familiar voice called to him, and he looked up and his face exploded into an even wider grin at the vision that stood on the bridge before him.
"Face . . ." Hannibal's voice was a hoarse whisper, and the angelic face, made even more angelic by the white suit he wore, the bright, sunshine blond hair, and the sparkling, laughing, bright blue eyes, smiled, though his eyes were suspiciously wet.
"You're here. You made it." Face stepped forward and cupped his hands around Hannibal's face. "I'm so sorry you suffered like that, Hannibal. Damned cancer." His voice trembled, and he stepped closer to Hannibal. "I was there with you. Though you probably never knew."
"I knew, Face." Hannibal rubbed his face against the hands that held it, and he stepped forward, then he smiled. "I always knew. Cripe Face, I've missed you so much." He crushed the younger man to him, and they shared a kiss of love that surrounded the two with an unearthly glow.
"Oh yeah." Hannibal exhaled when they finally broke apart. "Now THAT was just what the doctor ordered."
"And how would you know what the Doctors ordered?" Face frowned and snorted. "Half the time you fought them on almost everything they tried to get you to do, and the rest of the time you didn't listen to half of the things they told you."
"Toward the end there, there was nothing they could do, Face, and I knew it just the same way you knew it. Besides, it's like I always said, Templeton Faceman Peck Smith." Hannibal grinned, and Face's aspect softened at his name. "I love it when a plan comes together."
"So do I, Hannibal." The younger man relented, then rested his head on the older man's shoulder as Hannibal wrapped an arm around his waist and the two of them walked across the white footbridge together into the mist. "So do I."
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