What's In a Name?
Summary: Just a short character piece. After the Team is pardoned, Face has a talk with Hannibal.
Rating: By our illustrious archivist's standards, I think this one is actually G. (My readers from other fandoms would just die.)
The Obligatory Disclaimer: Let's all sing it together, shall we? They are not mine. They will never be mine. I only borrow them briefly, and I promise not to fold, spindle, tape, mutilate, or otherwise accost them while they are in my custody. Thank you for flying We All Knew This Already Airlines, and do remember to gather up your personal belongings and small children before exiting the aircraft.
"Hannibal, can I talk to you?"
"Sure, kid." Hannibal turned away from his contemplation of Maggie's back pasture to study Face's serious expression. "You don't look chipper enough for a guy who just got his pardon, Face. What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," Face assured him quickly. "I just want to ask you something."
"Okay." He smiled at the younger man and gestured for him to step on up.
"Uhm..." Face leaned on the railing next to him. "Well, first I need to tell you something. I don't really know how you're going to take this..." He glanced sideways at the man who would always be his commanding officer, the man he also thought of as his Dad. "Try not to judge too quickly, all right? We wanted to tell you a while back, but--"
Hannibal held up a hand, unable to let Face continue to torture himself unnecessarily. "Face, if this is about you and Murdock, you don't have to explain."
"You knew?!" Face blurted, shocked.
"Yep," Hannibal said easily.
"But...how...for how long?"
"Hmm..." Hannibal looked out over the pasture behind Maggie's house thoughtfully. "Since ‘Nam, really."
"But we haven't...we didn't...I mean, we only just..."
Hannibal turned to face him and grinned. "I know that, Face." He shook his head. "But I'd been in the Army twenty years when I met you two. Let's just say I know the signs."
Face studied him suspiciously. "You actually knew when we..." he muttered, unsure whether to be impressed or embarrassed.
Hannibal took a long puff on his cigar, mostly to keep himself from laughing. "Face, you both had ‘morning after' written all over you that day. It wasn't hard to figure out."
"Jeez," Face muttered, looking out over the railing. "Does BA know?"
"We haven't exactly discussed it, but yes, I think so."
Face nodded slowly. "I should have realized you two know us that well. Murdock was right."
"He told you we knew?"
"He said I was acting way too nervous about telling you. He said..." Face trailed off.
"He said what?" Hannibal prompted.
Face cleared his throat. "He said you weren't in the habit of disowning your kids."
Hannibal's grin softened to a warm smile. He'd have to remember to thank Murdock for that later. "Damn right. Was that really what you were afraid of?"
"Yes...no...I..." He shook his head. "I was afraid you'd be disappointed in me."
"For what? For falling in love with Murdock?"
"Well, for being...uhm..."
Hannibal chuckled. "I think the word you're looking for is ‘gay', Face."
He shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah. I know that doesn't go over real well with a lot of soldiers."
"Since when have I ever been ‘a lot of soldiers', kid? Come on, you know me better than that." He paused and seemed to consider whether to go on. "When I was in boot camp they hadn't exactly come up with ‘Don't ask, don't tell.' It was more like ‘Don't tell unless you want your ass kicked.' My bunkmate was gay, and I got into quite a few fights defending him, especially when we got to Korea."
Face looked over at him interestedly. "He told you?"
"I guess you could say that. He announced one day that he was in love with me."
"Oh." Face raised his eyebrows. "I'm guessing you found some polite way to tell him your door didn't swing that way, right?"
"Actually...no." Hannibal looked out over the pasture again. "We were together almost a year before he was killed."
Face nearly lost his teeth. "You..." He stopped and shook his head a few times. "Were you in love with him?" *Get a little personal there, why don't you?* He kicked himself.
Pale blue eyes glanced sideways and caught his. "You know, to this day I'm not sure. Sometimes I think it was just that we were in a war zone, and I..." He shrugged. "Whatever gets you through the night, you know?" He sighed quietly. "I don't think I felt about him the way he felt about me, which wasn't really fair. I mean, I've never been attracted to another guy. I didn't love him the way I love Maggie, if that's what you mean." He paused, then continued in an obvious effort to be honest. "But I really cared about him. Given more time...maybe."
"You really do understand," Face murmured. "I didn't know."
"Almost no one does."
Without meaning to, Face glanced at the door they'd walked out.
Hannibal answered the unspoken question. "Maggie knows, yes. I had a nightmare once when I was here about Andy's death, and I ended up telling her the whole story."
Face's relief was obvious. "Then I guess she won't freak out about me and Murdock."
"Definitely not." There wasn't much that he could imagine "freaking out" Maggie Sullivan. Hannibal suddenly remembered Face's initial stated reason for coming looking for him. "You said you wanted to ask me something."
"I do," Face said, turning and hopping up to sit on the railing. "That's why I didn't wait for Murdock to get here to tell you about us, actually."
"What is it?"
Face's voice was quiet and as serious as Hannibal had ever heard it when he responded. "I really love him, Hannibal. I'm going to ask him to marry me now that I'm a free man."
Hannibal grinned hugely and clapped him on the shoulder. "That's great, kid! If you want to know if I'll stand up for you at the wedding, you better believe I will."
Face returned his smile. "Actually, I hope you'll be my best man, but that's really not what I wanted to ask you."
"Of course I will!" Hannibal said immediately. "Now, what is it you're wanting to ask me?"
"Uhm...well, I have a feeling that Murdock is going to want this to be pretty traditional." He chuckled at himself. "As traditional as it really can be, if you know what I mean."
"I understand." Hannibal's eyes sparkled with shared laughter.
"Anyway, I think he'll probably want to take my name. We've sort of talked about it."
Hannibal nodded. "I imagine you're right."
"The problem is, I don't have one to give him, not really." Face stopped and swallowed hard before continuing. "Peck is just what the orphanage gave me, and I'm damn sure not taking Bancroft, considering the circumstances."
"I see the difficulty," Hannibal said. "So...what? You want me to help you pick a name?"
Face took a deep breath and met Hannibal's eyes. "Actually, I was hoping you'd consider lending me yours." He saw the older man's startled expression and hurried on. "I mean, I met you when I was eighteen, Hannibal, and you've really sort of been my Dad ever since, right? I know you don't really like it when people mistake me for your son, but I thought you might still--" He broke off and slid down from the railing as Hannibal suddenly looked away. "I didn't mean to upset you. Forget I--"
Hannibal turned back to face him again, and Face was startled to see tears in his eyes. "Face, I..." He couldn't seem to find the words, so he simply pulled Face into a hug. "I would be honored," he finally got out, "to share my name with you, son."
Face returned the hug, honestly a little surprised. "Yeah?"
Hannibal pulled back and looked at him. "Of course," he said quietly. "And what on earth ever gave you the idea that I don't like having people call you my son?"
"Uhm...you're just usually pretty quick to correct people who say that," Face muttered, looking at the boards of the porch floor with sudden interest.
Regret for what must have been hundreds of unintentional wounds inflicted over the years swept over Hannibal. "Oh, Face, I did that because I wasn't sure you wanted to be mistaken for my son. I've never really been sure how you felt about it, and I didn't want it to seem like I was trying to take a place that wasn't mine. I never meant it to hurt. As far as I'm concerned, you've been my son for years now."
Face smiled at him almost shyly. "Thank you for telling me that. It means a lot."
They hugged again and were still standing there like that a few moments later when Murdock cleared his throat loudly in the doorway. "Gosh, Face, I just can't leave you alone for an hour without coming back to find you in the arms of another man," he said teasingly.
Face chuckled and pulled away from Hannibal, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. "Sorry, Murdock. I tried to control myself, but..."
They all laughed, then Hannibal announced seriously, "Murdock, I'd like you to meet my son."
Murdock looked back and forth between them, realizing what he had walked in on. "All right!" he said, smiling happily. "Just wait ‘til I tell Billy. He's been wantin' you guys to get with the program for a while now."
"Templeton Smith does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?" Face asked, having gotten himself under control again.
It was Hannibal who answered. "It sure does, kid. It sure does."