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Hannibal's Melancholy Pt. 1/1 (Excerpt from Bitter Harvest)
by Rita Ractliffe (lovpeppard)
Origin: Fstdta inspired me with this about an hour ago! THANK YOU!!!
Dedicated to Fstdta, Wallygator and Hannurdock. You all know where this is
leading. Thanks for your help and faith.
Summary: On his way to visit a JAG attorney, Hannibal makes some momentous side trips in Washington, D.C.
Warnings: None.... sappy, maybe some tissue time.
Disclaimer: A-Team characters were created by Cannell and Lupo and are owned by Universal. Any other original characters and story otherwise belong to me. Copyright: Sept/2000 .
Having a lot of free time (for him anyway) to devote to this trip, Hannibal decided while in the air that he would take humor a yen he'd had for a number of years and take a small side trip before heading into Washington on his latest errand.
Clasping his briefcase with his precious papers close to him, he purchased a round trip ticket to Charleston, South Carolina, and set up advance reservations for a car to be waiting for him on his arrival. The flight was a quick one and almost as soon as he got settled, it was time to deplane. Hannibal went to the rental car agency, got his wheels for the afternoon and then headed out across the harbor on Highway 17 towards Mt. Pleasant. It was a relaxing, pleasurable drive; the luxury one that he hadn't really been able to enjoy for a long time. He checked his maps once he gained the other side of the bridge and made the appropriate turnoffs down Highway 703 to LO Bud Darby Road to take him to Patriot's Point and the berth of the USS Yorktown, site of the Museum of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
// This is utter madness, John. What the hell are you doing?? He debated whether to answer himself. What *was* he doing? Going to see an exhibit? Yes, but there was more to it than that. He pulled into a vacant parking space, taking his briefcase with him and headed towards the Yorktown, intent on seeing the display there. //And what if someone recognizes you?//
He smiled to himself and chided his inner voice. //Then I run. What I'm good at.//
He strolled down the wide pathway down to the dock, paid his ticket price and stepped on board the small ferry which would take him to the carrier. The ride was short and he wondered why they hadn't simply built a pedestrian bridge, but perhaps it was meant to signify how these men being honored in this place were set off from the normal military by reason of their momentary bravery in battle - that isolated moment that set them above the others. Much the same feeling you got when at the hallowed swells of Pearl Harbor. He felt the sides of his mouth tug at the thought. //I don't belong here, I never did.//
He stepped off the small ferry and proceeded up the narrow steps to the carrier deck itself. Reading the rules and maps, he situated himself and then went below to view the exhibits firsthand. He'd never been here before - never saw any reason to. He'd won the medal, but never felt he'd earned it. He began a long, studied stroll going from exhibit to exhibit extolling the virtues and outstanding deeds of the men who had earned these precious few standards of excellence from their grateful nation. Respectfully, he took the time to read each man's name and his distinction, honoring that man in his heart and mind.
Then, as he turned one corner, he saw the photo on the wall. It stopped him dead in his tracks for a brief moment, then he wandered over to view it more closely.
The man in the picture resembled him, but in a younger body. The blonde hair was swept back in a curling wave, the blue eyes twinkling even as they tried to remain sober for this portrait. Hannibal looked at the name below it on the frame: Colonel J. Smith.
He reached out to lightly touch the frame, wanting to make a brief contact, if even for a moment. He looked into the young, brave, determined blue eyes in the photo, eyes that still had the world ahead of them, and wondered if his own eyes would ever reflect that same light again. Could *he* ever be that naive and trusting and faithful again in this lifetime? Had he ever been?
He lightly brushed against the glass and murmured, "Dad. It's good to see you."
He locked gazes with the eyes in the photo, trying to capture them in his soul forever, to take them with him on the perilous journey he had plotted out for himself. Then he broke the look and glanced to the side. Next to Joseph Smith's frame on the wall was a blank space, where a photo had been removed long ago. But the engraved brass plate had been left intact, as it would have been too difficult and artistically destructive to remove it.. He read it with a sense of supreme irony. Colonel John Smith. All other mention and indications of a living man ever having been there were removed.
Hannibal snickered softly to himself. Well, he hadn't come to see his picture anyway. All he'd wanted to see was his dad, one last time. It made his heart swell with pride to see his father in this hall with so many other notables, to realize that America did remember *some* of its heroes. That was all he needed to know.
One of the docents came up and spoke to him. "Yes, that's Colonel Joseph Smith. He was killed in Korea in 1953, defending his command."
Hannibal smiled gently. "Yes, I know."
"He was a very brave man."
"Yes, I know."
The docent stepped in front of him slightly then looked back at the photo. "You certainly bear a resemblance to him. Did you know him?"
"Did you serve with him?"
"I tried to, but I was too late. I was stuck behind a hill when his division went forward and we were separated." Smith's eyes were glistening now. "I never even got to say goodbye to him."
"Who are you?"
Hannibal neatly avoided the question by pointing to the empty frame. "Who was that?"
The docent snickered, as if embarrassed. "He's one of the very few who went rogue on us. Can you believe he was the son of this Colonel Smith? Talk about two different people."
"Sounds like it."
"Excuse me, I didn't catch your name."
"Smith, John Smith."
"Were you related to either of them?"
Hannibal nodded sadly. "Yes. I'm his son." He pointed to Joseph Smith's portrait.
The docent turned back to look at the photo, then realization dawned. "But that would mean you're...." She turned back to query him, only to discover the room was empty.
Still having a few hours to waste before his appointment with the JAG advocate, Hannibal elected to visit a few sites that had meaning for him around the Washington area.
The Wall was, of course, the first stop. He moved with a slow measured pace along the length of it, stopping occasionally to reach up and touch a spot, remembering a name and saying a fond hello to the man it represented, giving a brief update on what was going on in the world these days and how much he was missed, and then Hannibal would move a little further down and repeat it at another name. At one point, he came up to one name which elicited a totally different response.
He looked malevolently at the wall and murmured sotto voce, "You sonofabitch. You knew all the time and tried to set us up to be killed. What the hell did we ever do to you?" His right hand moved up the smooth black marble, and then he discreetly folded the fingers under and laid a middle finger outstretched over the name: Samuel J. Morrison, USA..
It seemed to cast a pall over the place and Hannibal felt the need to leave, the kinder memories now tainted by the proximity of this traitor's name resting amongst all the other true heroes of Vietnam.
He rapidly left the memorial, his feelings in turmoil and headed off towards Arlington.
When he got to the cemetery, he walked in slowly. //It's been a long time since you've been here, John.// He walked steadfastly and with purpose towards the graves, which he knew the exact location of - imbedded in his heart like so much shrapnel.
When he got to the two identical headstones, simple yet powerful in their statement, he knelt down on one knee, and bowed his head, reaching out to touch the rose colored granite and running his fingers along the engraved names: Joseph and Sarah Smith KIA Korea, 1953.
"It's been awhile, dad, mom, and I'm sorry, but things have been keeping me on the run." He smiled wanly at the pun. "But I was here today and I really wanted to come by and say hi to you and mom. It's been so long..." Hannibal bowed his head, the old unresolved grief starting to flood his soul. "So long since I've seen you. I hoped I would have some good news for you the next time I came here, but it hasn't happened yet."
Smith sighed to himself. //Who am I kidding? I'm never going to get that pardon, vneither are the guys. We'll live and die branded for something we didn't do. It's not right, it never will be.// He let his gaze wander back down to the two gravestones. "Well, I should be going. I just wanted to stop by and see you. If things don't go well where I'm going, well, maybe I will be seeing you sooner than I planned." He slowly rose back to a stance, looking down at the solid blocks one last time. //You should never have been killed then, either of you. VIt was wrong... it was...// Knowing he couldn't change anything, Hannibal squared his shoulders, and straightened up to present a formal salute to the two most influential people of vhis early life. "Rest well, Colonel Smith and Major Smith." He finished the salute, and then turned to stroll back to the noisy street outside and to rejoin life as he knew it.
There was one more stop he wanted to make, partially to satisfy his curiousity, partially to pay his respects there too.
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