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This page last viewed: 2017-07-24 and has been viewed 3421 times
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Just borrowing from SJC & his pals.
Warnings: Slashy. F/H show their love, but not too graphically, imho. Lots of angst and mushiness.
Summary: Face must come to terms with himself after finding out AJ Bancroft had been his father.
Author's Notes: Originally posted for the A-Slash March Missing Scene Challenge – Family Reunion 2B. Scenes and quotes from the episode are to the best of my memory. In other words (snicker) don't expect perfect quotations. Also, the order of the story may not match exactly what the challenge description read, but all the elements are there nonetheless. Comments are welcome!
As they waited outside the van for the phone call from Stockwell, Face shot a glance at Murdock, then his eyes moved down to the ground. He reflected on the violent argument they'd had in the woods. He still felt betrayed by his best friend. He didn't like the way he felt, but couldn't help it.
For over thirty years he had wondered who his parents were. What had become of them that he had one day found himself standing alone at the door of Angel Guardians Orphanage. He had only been five years old....all alone, confused and very scared.
If Murdock had just told him, he would have had the chance to confront AJ Bancroft. Get some long-awaited answers to his many questions. But it was too late now. AJ—his supposed father--was dead. The damage was done. He regretted pushing Murdock down, regretted the words he'd venomously said; but he was angry. In such pain and anger, he had to lash out. And he was not yet ready to forgive.
Murdock could still see the anguish in Face's set features. He sighed quietly, feeling horrible. No matter how good his intent was, he now deeply regretted agreeing to AJ's wish that he not tell Face that he was his father.
Regrets. What good were they now? Murdock felt another shot of anger deep inside of him towards the elder Bancroft. The first had been at his grave after they'd buried him. After the others had walked away, he'd held back. He'd taken the folded framed photos of Face and Ellen from his pocket and remembered saying, "So you ran out on him again. At least you're consistent." He'd shoved the frame into the mound of dirt. "Well, I'll tell him for ya."
It had been the hardest thing he'd ever had to do. He'd never seen so much anger from Face directed at him. They'd settled with each other somewhat, though. He knew Face was still hurt and angry, but at least he was talking to him.
Face looked over to Ellen thoughtfully. She was standing by the grave saying her goodbyes, lost in her own thoughts, oblivious to the two of them. 'What if it's true? How am I going to tell her?' he wondered to himself. He grudgingly had to admit to himself that it had been a good idea for Murdock to call Stockwell and have him confirm AJ's claim. But the longer they waited there, the more nervous he was becoming.
"What time did Stockwell say he'd call?" Face asked Murdock.
"Should be any time now."
Face ran his fingers through his hair and paced back and forth. "You know, I'm not sure if I want to know now." He looked at Ellen again, then back to Murdock, confusion in his eyes.
"What are you going to tell Ellen?" Murdock asked quietly.
Face stared at her, pushing his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans and shrugged. "I don't know." His eyes lowered again. "I don't know what it's like to have a father. What's it supposed to feel like to lose one?"
The look Murdock had spoke volumes. He, at least, knew who his parents were. Knew what it felt like to lose them, then his grandparents who had finished raising him. He really had no idea what Face was feeling now and didn't know how to answer him. That's when the phone rang from inside the van.
Murdock picked it up. "Yeah." The conversation was one-sided until Murdock hung up. He looked at Face, who was watching apprehensively. "He was your father."
Face went into himself for a moment, then "Ah...uh...thank God." His gaze wandered down, then around, and back to Murdock. "It's like...a dream come true." His voice echoed his confusion.
He knew he now had to tell Ellen. Taking a deep breath, he started walking towards her. Murdock stayed at the van to give them privacy. Face suddenly wished Hannibal were here with him, then realized that wouldn't do any good, as he hadn't even told Hannibal about all this yet. He knew Hannibal was worried about him. Curious as to the sudden coolness between him and Murdock. But Face wanted to be absolutely sure about AJ before telling him about it.
He reached Ellen and shyly put his arm around her shoulders. She gave him a brief smile of gratitude for his comforting gesture. Face looked into her face and eyes and noticed for the first time the resemblance to himself. He had a half-sister. The thought gave him some hope that maybe something good will come out of all this.
"Ellen, I'm sorry about AJ. I'm sorry you didn't have more time with him." Face told her.
Ellen shrugged halfheartedly. "It was long enough." She sighed. "I took your advice and went back to talk with him. Got to know him a little. I still can't say I'll ever forgive him for leaving my mother and me. Or for being the kind of man he'd become."
Face knew why she felt this way and understood. He felt the same way himself. Ellen had been through alot these past couple of days and here he was about to drop another bombshell in her lap. He prayed she'd accept him. He desperately needed some acceptance. Anymore disappointment, he felt, would be too much.
"Ellen, I have to tell you something," he started quietly, nervously. "About AJ."
She pulled away from him, and raised her hand up as if to block his words. "Please, Face. I don't think I can handle hearing anymore bad qualities about my father."
"It's n-not like t-that," Face stuttered, swallowing hard.
"What is it then?" she asked, noticing Face's nervousness.
Face closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. "You're not the only family AJ had. He had another wife and child that he deserted before he married your mother."
"What?!" Ellen shook her head, confused. "What do you mean?" she asked a little harshly.
"I just found out it was true. I don't know many details, really. But it was the reason he wanted only the A-Team to find you and to protect him and his diary." He took Ellen's hands in his. "Because....his son from his first wife is on the Team and he knew that." He looked deep into her eyes, trying to find belief and understanding in them. "Ellen....he was my father, too."
Ellen only stood there, confused and in shock for a long moment. 'Another wife? Another child? Face.... her brother? This is beginning to sound like a really bad soap opera,' her overloaded mind thought.
"Ellen? Please say something," Face begged, tugging on her hands.
Ellen shook herself out of her reverie. "W-What do you mean you just found out? I mean, didn't he tell you?"
"No. Murdock found out accidentally. AJ made him swear not to tell me, because he wanted to tell me himself. Only he died before he could. Murdock told me after we buried him. Stockwell, just confirmed it." Face shrugged. "That's really all I know."
Ellen had heard them mention the name Stockwell, and only knew he was a very powerful man the Team had a working relationship with. And AJ had known him somehow, also. She once again pulled away from Face and turned around away from him.
She wrapped her arms around herself. 'AJ Bancroft, you bastard! Why are you doing this to me?' she wanted to cry. Before Face came to join her she had been thinking of what she would do. But this sudden news....she didn't know what she would do now. Fresh tears came to her eyes. She swallowed the sob that wanted to escape.
Face felt pangs of rejection when his sister turned her back to him. Before giving into them, he gave her a moment to absorb the news and collect herself. 'Don't jump to conclusions,' he told himself. 'Give her time.' He really hadn't known what to expect from Ellen. He hardly knew her, but wanted to. He only hoped she wouldn't abandon him, too. Like his father had.
With her back still turned to him, she finally spoke. "Face. Umm.... I'm not sure about this. I don't know if I can accept it. I-I need to be alone to think. I want to go back to the cabin." Without looking at him or waiting for acknowledgment, she walked quickly towards the van where Murdock had been watching them from.
Face remained where he was; staring at nothing, going deep into himself. Allowing the heaviness of rejection to once again creep in. He felt someone shake him by his shoulders, bringing him somewhat back.
"Face! Answer me! Look at me, please!" Murdock begged as he shook Face.
Face came back and looked into Murdock's worried brown eyes. How long had he been standing there? Face shifted nervously and ran his fingers through his hair again. It was an old habit that seemed always more pronounce when he was nervous or upset.
"Sorry, Murdock. I guess I kinda got lost in thought there for a minute."
"You had me worried, buddy. You weren't hearing me." Murdock looked him over, seeing Face slide his relaxed, calm mask over the apprehensive, uptight one. "What happened? What did she say?"
"Um....she just wants some time to think about things. She wants to go back to the cabin."
Murdock glanced towards the van with an angry look. "Yeah, she was pretty adamant about that!" He looked back to Face, softening his features. "You all right?"
Face smiled to reassure him. "Yeah. But I think I'll walk back." What he didn't say was that he thought Ellen wouldn't want him near her right now.
Murdock's stern look said, 'I don't think so!' "No way, buddy boy. Hannibal'd skin me if I left you here alone. He knows something's up. You have to tell him."
Face sighed, resigning to the fact Murdock was right on both counts. Hannibal would have been very angry at the pilot and he needed to be told.
Murdock put his arm around Face's shoulder and directed him towards the van. "You're lucky, you know." Murdock told him. "He loves you, and would do anything for you. We all would."
Face's features saddened again. "I know.... But nobody else can answer all the questions that AJ could've."
Murdock eyes lowered to the ground, once again feeling like a traitorous heel.
The short drive back to the cabin was silent. Ellen sat in the front passenger seat, staring out the window, never once looking back to her brother. Face sat behind her, not attempting to push her to talk. It was obvious to him she wanted nothing to do with him, for the moment at least. He was hurting, too. He couldn't wait to get back now. He wanted to be with Hannibal. To have him hold him, so he wouldn't feel so empty and alone.
No sooner was the van stopped when Ellen flung the door open and ran into the cabin and into her room, slamming the door behind her. Face and Murdock slowly made their way in. On the way, Face told Murdock he wanted to be alone with Hannibal and that he wanted him to fill in BA and Frankie on what was going on. Murdock was glad about that. He also needed to talk with someone and knew BA and Frankie had been wondering about things, too. BA hadn't even put up an argument when Murdock asked to borrow the van. Just that much told the pilot he'd have willing ears to listen to him.
Walking into the living room, they found Hannibal, BA and Frankie all standing there with questioning looks on their faces. Hannibal stared at his young love, frowning at the tired, pained features on the usually handsome face. He'd wanted to force Face to tell him what had happened the day before between him and Murdock. It had been obvious they'd had an argument over something serious; but he didn't know what, and Face hadn't offered any information. But he didn't think forcing Face to talk was a good idea this time. Whatever it was, it was something he could tell Face needed to work out for himself. He now waited to see what Face would do.
Face didn't hesitate. He went directly to Hannibal and took his hand. "I need to talk to you," he quietly said.
Hannibal sighed, relieved. "I've just been waiting for you to say the word." He smiled and squeezed Face's hand. "Let's go out by the lake."
No sooner were they out the door when BA and Frankie both surrounded Murdock. "What's shakin', man?" Frankie asked. "Ellen locked herself in her room, you and Face both have been acting weird--"
"Spill it, fool!" BA interrupted, getting right in Murdock's face and poking his chest. "What's up with Faceman?"
"Okay, okay!" Murdock put up his hands to fend them off. "Sheesh! But let's go in the kitchen and make lunch. I can't talk on an empty stomach." He wasn't really hungry, but it was an excuse to keep his hands busy and out of earshot of Ellen's room.
Face and Hannibal walked the short distance to the dock. Hannibal had his arm around the shoulders of the tweed jacket Face wore. He thought the medium brown color looked so well on him. And along with the blue jeans and boots, he looked the picture of perfection in his eyes. Hannibal appreciated the care Face took in his appearance, both in the clothes he so carefully chose and the way he kept his body fit.
It put a knot in his stomach seeing the most important person in his life was in a painful turmoil over something. Face had been fine until yesterday and Hannibal wondered if Bancroft had something to do with it. And how was Murdock involved? Wanting to break the silence, he took the bull by the horns....
"What's up, kid?" Hannibal asked, as they sat down side by side on the end of the dock, their legs dangled over the edge. "I know something happened between you and Murdock yesterday. You two hardly said two words to each other last night. I don't think you slept much either, the way you were tossing and turning."
"Did I keep you up?" Face stared out over the water to the trees beyond. "Sorry."
"No, you didn't keep me up. You definitely weren't yourself, though. You wouldn't even let me hold you. You just seemed to want to be left to yourself. That's how I knew something was definitely wrong."
Face quickly looked at the older man with a look of sorrow. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was hurt Hannibal. He moved closer, wrapped his arms around Hannibal's midsection and rested his head on the strong shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you. I just had a lot of stuff going through my mind."
Hannibal put his arm around Face's shoulders again, and rested his chin on the dark blond head. His other hand found one of Face's and he stroked the long, thin fingers. He smiled at how good it felt being this close.
"I was just concerned. Not hurt. You know you can tell
me anything, right?" Having known his lieutenant for so long, Hannibal was
in tune with Face's different moods. He knew not to take it personally when
Face was quiet and contemplative. It was just his way to try to work things out
"Yeah, I know that," Face affirmed. "I guess I needed to let the news sink in. And Murdock was having Stockwell check it out, so maybe I just wanted to wait and make sure it was for real."
"Make sure what was for real. You haven't told me anything yet," Hannibal reminded him.
Face chuckled softly. "Oh yeah, right." They shifted so that Face could look at Hannibal while he spoke. "Yesterday, I found out something I've been waiting my whole life to hear." He paused a couple of seconds, then continued. "I found out I had a father, and he's been alive all these years."
Hannibal couldn't hide the surprise on his face. His mind was putting two and two together, but he waited for Face to finish telling him. He noticed Face didn't seem to be particularly happy with the news. In fact, he looked and sounded sad.
"AJ Bancroft was my father, Hannibal. My mother was his first wife. That's why he asked for us to help him. He knew he was dying and wanted to see Ellen and me and tell me he was my father."
Face could practically hear the questions going through Hannibal's mind. To spare him the choice of which one to pick, he continued on his own.
"Murdock found out when he saw AJ had pictures of Ellen and I. AJ made him promise not to tell me, because he wanted to himself. But he died before he could. Murdock told me after we buried AJ." A hint of anger came to Face's eyes and voice. "We got into a huge argument over it. If Murdock had just told me earlier.... I'd have had a chance to—" He paused and took a sharp breath. "I felt that Murdock betrayed me because he kept it from me. He even told Stockwell about it before he told me." He sighed deeply. "I guess it was a good idea to have Stockwell check it out. I just wish I'd known before him, at least."
"I can see how you would feel that way." Hannibal nodded in empathy. "But...." He needed a moment to think of the right words. He opened Face's jacket and took a cigar from the inside pocket, bit the tip off and spat it off to the side. He didn't light it yet, but used it to gesture. "I know Murdock. It was probably killing him keeping something that important from you."
Face thought back to Murdock's "more-than-the-usual" strange behavior of the past couple of days. He'd kept himself scarce, and snuck away to make phone calls. Murdock had explained the story he'd made up in the van about Erica; that it had actually been Face he was talking about. He thought of the scene in front of the general store when he told Murdock he might ask Ellen out after the case was over. 'Oh geez!' Face thought, now embarrassed he'd ever said it. 'What must have been going through his head then!' He almost laughed at the quirk of fate.
"He's also a man of his word," Hannibal continued. "I've never known him to not keep a promise. I'm sure he was only doing what he thought was right at the time, Face. Did AJ tell Murdock he was dying?"
"Yeah. Murdock said it was AJ's dying wish that he be the one to tell me. And right after I knocked him on his ass, Murdock also pointed out that if AJ had lived to be able to tell me himself, that I'd be glad he hadn't told me."
"Hm-hmm," was all Hannibal added, letting Face continue on his own.
"Deep down I know he's right, but...." Face drew his knees up and wrapped his arms around them. "I guess I just want to blame someone and Murdock was the easiest one to blame." Face was quiet for a moment, thinking of his own words. "I've made him hurt just as much as I am, probably. I should apologize, it's not his fault." Face chortled dryly. "Maybe I should blame AJ for dying. Or for not contacting us sooner; before he got so sick."
"Well, if that'll make you feel better," Hannibal stated ambiguously, baiting Face.
Face heard the tone and knew what Hannibal was trying to do. He wanted Face to see how ridiculous and futile it was to point blame at anyone, let alone a dead man, and expect to feel better about himself. 'He's right,' Face thought. His anger and hurt deflated, but a sense of emptiness remained. 'Damn....'
"It won't," he finally answered quietly. Tears suddenly burned his eyes and a deep shuddering sigh escaped. He stood up and looked out over the water. "Maybe I was never meant to know who I am." His chest felt tight, wanting to scream out his lost chance. But he couldn't voice his sadness and let the warm tears drop silently.
Hannibal felt every bit of Face's anguish in his own heart. He pocketed the unlit cigar and stood up behind Face, wrapping his arms around the slim man to comfort him. "I'm sorry, baby," he whispered into the soft, dark blond hair. Hannibal squeezed Face against him protectively. "I know it's not much, but I know who you are. You're the man I love more than life itself, and I'd do anything to make your pain go away if I could."
Face leaned his head back on the muscled shoulder and held onto the strong arms wrapped around his chest. How much he needed this right now. To be held in the solid grip of the man he relied on so much to be his rock. "Actually, that means alot to me, Hannibal. You're the one person I can count on in this world. Nobody's ever loved me or cared for me the way you always have."
"I'm not the only one that loves you or cares about you. BA and Murdock do, too. Even Frankie's doing his damndest to fit into our little dysfunctional family." Hannibal kissed Face's cheek and chuckled. "They may not love you with the same....uh, let's say....level of intensity that I do. But, like me, they hurt when you hurt and would do anything to try to stop that pain."
The sentiment brought a shaky smile to Face's damp face. He wiped his cheeks with his arm, feeling some of the cold emptiness leaving him. "Thanks for reminding me."
They stood that way for a moment; swaying slightly. Eyes closed they listened to the sounds of the water slapping against the dock, birds and insects chirping their songs of everyday life with each other, a motorboat opened its throttle somewhere in the distance.
"This is nice," Hannibal said softly, afraid to break the serenity.
"Yeah," Face agreed.
"But," Hannibal said, reluctantly loosening his hold on Face, "we should go back. I'm sure the guys are climbing the walls by now wondering how you are."
"I told Murdock to go ahead and fill them in," Face said turning around. "But you're right, we should be getting back. I want to let Murdock know I'm not angry with him."
On the slow walk back to the cabin, Hannibal tried to think of more 'bright sides' to point out. "At least you found out what your real last name is, at least. And that you got a half-sister."
Face hmmphd. "I'm not so sure Ellen was thrilled with the news. And there's alot more I wanted to know than just a last name. Especially that name."
Hannibal silently hoped that Ellen wouldn't cause anymore heartache. He was also thinking of someway to find out more information on Face's real identity. A question suddenly struck him.
"Face, did you ask Murdock if AJ told him anything at all about your beginnings? They obviously talked about some things concerning you."
"No. I was too pissed off at him at the time, so I never thought of that." He thought a moment. "And I never gave him a chance to tell me anything much, either."
"Well then, young man. Let's go see if he knows anything."
They found the three teammates sitting around the table in the kitchen eating. Murdock was the first to stand up, pulling the napkin from his collar and wiping mayonnaise from his chin. He stared at Face hopefully, trying to gauge his state.
Face saw his expression and felt bad for being the cause of it. He walked up to Murdock and enveloped him in a warm embrace. "I'm sorry, Murdock. I never should have taken my anger out on you. You were doing what you thought was right."
Murdock hugged Face back fiercely. He'd hated the distance between them that the argument had caused. Now things were going to be right again. "Ah, Facey, I've been hating myself for not telling you sooner. I'm sorry, too."
"No, don't be. You wouldn't be you if you didn't stay loyal to your word." He broke the embrace, his face flushed with emotion. He reached up and put his hand on Murdock's cheek. "Everything okay between us now?"
Murdock put his hand on Face's cheek also. He, too, felt warm and his eyes were misty. "Yeah. Best buddies as always." He brought Face forward for another quick hug. "Let's not ever fight like that again," he said seriously.
"Never," Face agreed.
"Hey, Murdock," Frankie interrupted. "Will you share the guy, already? There's others waiting here, you know."
Murdock gave Frankie a mock sour look. "If I must," he joked.
Frankie turned to Face, his gestures and voice were uncertain. "HM told us about AJ and....well....you. I really don't know how you're feeling, so I won't say I do. But....if there's anything I can do....well....I'm here if you need me."
Face had to smile at Frankie's attempt. He knew the younger man felt like an outsider and wanted desperately to fit into their little clique. He gave Frankie a hug and slapped him on the back. "Thanks alot Frankie. That means so much to me. I really appreciate it."
Frankie grinned his very white toothy grin. He was happy he'd been able to chip away a little more of that wall that surrounded the Team. The grin disappeared when he felt strong arms push him out of the way.
"Now who's hoggin' the man?" BA pushed his bulk forward. Frankie gave him a disgruntled look as he struggled to remain standing and rubbed his now sore arm.
Not being much for words, BA struggled with them. "What Frankie said....that goes for me, too." He nervously pulled on one of his chains. "Wheneva I see you get hurt, I wanna pound somebody. But there ain't nobody to pound, so I'll just stay cool. For you. I'm here for ya, too, little brotha." He smiled then and picked Face up in a bear hug.
Face laughed and said, while struggling to breathe, "Thanks BA!"
Murdock cleared his throat. "Uh, wait a minute, big guy. You may not have taken your blood curdling anger out on a person, but something sure suffered for it." He pointed to the kitchen window, or what remained of it after BA had thrown the toaster through it.
"Oh yeah," BA giggled. "I'll have to fix that."
Hannibal had been watching over the others, puffing on his now lit cigar, enjoying seeing his Team come together again. He laughed heartily at the last scene. For a moment, tensions were forgotten. For a moment, at least....
"Well, I'm glad someone is having a good time," Ellen's voice suddenly cut in.
The Team all turned and stared at her. She suddenly felt self-conscious and crossed her arms in front of herself and looked down at the floor.
Face tentatively went towards her, nervous himself. "How are you doing, Ellen?"
"Oh, so-so," she said shakily. She looked at up at him, trying to keep eye contact, but not wanting to see the hurt she was going to cause. "I've been doing some thinking and I've come to a decision."
Face could tell by her demeanor that it wasn't going to be good for him. He was familiar with disappointment and could predict it. He steeled himself for her words.
"First, I want to thank all of you for the kindness you've shown me." She looked at the others then returned her eyes to her half-brother. "Especially you. You told me to give my—I mean, our father a chance and I did. I'm sorry you didn't get that chance, too. I'm sorry that you're still left wondering about so much."
Face shrugged and nodded his head lightly. He remembered the conversation well, but he was still waiting for the axe to fall.
"All my life I've been followed by his stigma. I've had to read about my father's life in the newspapers, and trying to avoid the fallout from it all. Now that he's dead I won't have to do that anymore. People will forget him eventually and I can finally become anonymous." Ellen took a deep breath and continued. "This is hard for me to say, but I really feel it's the only way."
She paused and gave Face a look that pleaded with him to understand her point of view. Face felt the blade descending.
"I'm leaving. I'll go to Washington, long enough to turn over his diary to the right people. Then I'm returning home to Florida to start my life over. I need to make a life for myself that has no connections to AJ Bancroft....or any other Bancroft," she ended quietly.
Face felt the blow of rejection vividly. His body jolted ever so slightly, then he felt a hand of support on his shoulder. He knew it was Hannibal without having to look. Ellen wasn't quite finished yet.
"I--I....I don't think we should see each other again, Face. Please understand my point of view. I had a father who deserted my mother and me, a man who was a criminal. And now, out of the blue, I have a brother--who's a criminal in his own right. How do you expect me to feel?" Her plea ended with a sob and tears fell down her face. "I want to forget everything. I just want to erase this chapter from my memory. Erase everything that reminds me of all the pain I went through!" Her voice rose to near hysteria.
Murdock couldn't standby anymore. He came to stand beside Face and angrily pointed his finger at Ellen. "How can YOU be so selfish!" he shouted. "Face finally finds someone who's a blood relation. Something he's wanted all his life, and YOU'RE slamming the door on him!"
"He's right, lady!" Hannibal joined in, just as angry as Murdock. "You can't blame Face for what your father did to you!"
"Please! Don't!" Ellen quickly turned around burying her face in her hands. Her shoulders shook with her sobs.
"Oh, don't pull that—"
"STOP IT!" Face suddenly shouted, cutting Murdock off. "Stop fighting!"
Face paced a few feet from them, breathing heavily. All eyes were upon him as he tried to reign in his uncontrolled emotions. He began his nervous habit of playing with his hair, realized he was doing it and shoved his hands deep in his pockets. He stopped by the window and looked outside. Ellen had hurt him deeply by rejecting him, he couldn't deny that. But strangely, he couldn't find any anger towards her.
He and his mother had been deserted by AJ Bancroft, just as Ellen and her mother had been. AJ had been a criminal, and in many ways, so was he. Not as bad as the military painted him to be, which was what Ellen believed. But he had broken many laws for his own, as well as the team's, benefits. He couldn't blame Ellen for feeling the way she did about those things.
He also couldn't blame her for wanting to run away and forget. To bury all that had hurt her and put on a new 'face'. That was something he'd been doing all his life....hiding hurt, changing his name, a new mask for every situation. Maybe it was a trait they'd both inherited from their father. Face wondered if when AJ was young if he was just as unsure and insecure as he and Ellen both are. In the short time he'd known Ellen, he realized they were so much alike in many ways.
That was why he couldn't find any anger for her now. He understood where she was coming from. He understood completely. Turning back towards the others, he saw five sets of very concerned eyes. Even Ellen's, which matched his exactly.
Hannibal grasped both his arms and looked deeply into his eyes. "You, okay?"
Face felt the love and concern that exuded from Hannibal. "Yeah," he sighed. "I just needed to collect myself. I'm fine now."
Hannibal held Face like that for a moment, reading his eyes, wanting to make sure. The dark blue eyes were sad, but calm. Hannibal nodded, ran his hands down Face's arms, squeezing his hands before releasing them.
Face turned to Ellen, who looked like a lost child....so much like himself. "I understand."
As much pain as he was in himself, he still wanted to reassure her. He shyly held out his hands to her. She looked at them, then at his eyes, seeing his need for at least one small piece of sibling contact. She bit her trembling lip and allowed him to take her hands.
"You and I are alike in many ways," he continued. "When I look back and remember things from my life, I can completely understand what you're feeling now and your need to try to put it behind you and go forward. So...." He had to force the words out. "I'm going to respect your decision. I won't try to contact you. I'll leave you alone." He gave her hands a squeeze. "I just want to know you'll be okay. That you'll take care of yourself."
A shudder of sorrow escaped her. "I will," she whispered.
He smiled at Ellen and released her hands, turning to the men behind him. "Hannibal, could you make flight arrangements for Ellen to get to Washington? First class."
Hannibal sighed, and headed to the phone. "I'll just charge it to the good General. I'm sure he won't mind."
Murdock slapped his hat against his thigh. "Face! How...?" He was exasperated, not knowing how Face could just let her go.
"Please, Murdock!" Face begged him not to give Ellen or him a hard time. "It's for the best. I realize that."
Murdock shook his head, thinking it was wrong, but didn't say anymore.
It took only a few moments to make the flight arrangements. Hannibal had also called Stockwell to bring him up to date. The others stood by in uncomfortable silence while he was on the phone.
"Okay," Hannibal said, coming back to them and pulling Frankie along with him. "There's a flight leaving in a little over an hour. Frankie, you accompany Ellen and the diary to DC. Stockwell will have an escort waiting there for you. Once she's in safe hands, take the first flight back here. Ellen, you better get your stuff together, there's not alot of time."
"I'm all ready to go," Ellen told him. She had a shoulder bag waiting by her bedroom door, and she went to retrieve it.
"Sure thing, Johnny. But why are we gonna hang around here?" Frankie asked. "Shouldn't we all be getting back to Langley. You know how Stockwell is."
Hannibal put his arm around Frankie's shoulder, guiding him towards the door. "Because there's a lake full of fish out there, and I'm not going back without a cooler full of trout, that's why. Stockwell's opinion be damned. Murdock, BA, let's go outside and give Face and Ellen a minute." BA and Murdock were hesitant, but followed Hannibal and Frankie out.
Face and Ellen stood facing each other again. "Well, I guess this is goodbye," Face said, willing himself to stay together for just a little while longer.
"You'll take care of yourself, too?" Ellen asked quietly. As much as she wanted to forget, she found she couldn't help but still care.
They stood there a few seconds, just staring into each other's familiar eyes. Finally, Ellen sucked in a deep breath and fresh tears started. She stumbled forward and fell into Face's arms. He wrapped his arms around her and held her for a moment.
"Thank you for understanding," she said into his shoulder.
Not wanting her to see his own tears, he kept his head turned away. "Goodbye Ellen." He wanted to add 'Keep in touch', but settled for "I wish you the best."
"You too. Goodbye," she said hastily, broke away from him and walked quickly out the door without looking back.
Face didn't look towards the door after her, or out the window to watch the van drive away after he heard it start down the gravel drive. He just stared at the opposite wall, wondering why his life to have be so screwed up.
Outside, Hannibal, Murdock and BA watched the van drive off. When
Ellen had come out crying, she looked at them apologetically and had asked them to "take care of my brother".
"We always do," was Murdock's cool response.
"I don't git it, Hannibal," BA said, confused. "How can she just turn her back on him?"
"She's running away for her own self-preservation, BA," Hannibal told him. "Just like Face has done so many times. That's how he understands." He paused, looking towards the cabin door. "Well, let's go pick up the pieces."
Face turned around when he heard them enter. He gave them a smile to show he was okay, but it didn't quite reach. Hannibal reached him and looked into his eyes, seeing the divided turmoil. He shook his head and sighed, "You ain't fooling anyone with that smile, kid. I know you're hurting."
Face leaned against Hannibal, letting his pain show openly. Hannibal put his arms around Face, rocking him gently. Face felt BA and Murdock's hands on his back lending him their support also.
"I do understand why she wants to be left alone," Face said. "But....it's just that...." his voice ended in a squeak.
"I know, Face," Hannibal comforted. "You've finally recovered something you've been wanting for over thirty years. And it was yanked away just as quickly as you found it. It's gotta hurt."
Face nodded, squeezed his eyes shut and held on to Hannibal for dear life. Hannibal felt his lover trembling against him. He held on tightly, hoping to draw some of the pain away. "It'll get better, baby. With time."
Face soon relaxed and let out a deep breath. "I know. I'll be okay." He did draw strength from his lover's embrace. Hannibal's arms around him were like a security blanket. Always there for comfort and warmth. "As long as you're here for me. I love you and need you so much."
Hannibal felt his heart burst with love and honor hearing the words. He moved his hands to either side of Face's neck and held his head while he planted soft kisses around his face, ending at his lips. "I love you, too. And I'm always here for you."
BA and Murdock had already stepped away, sensing the two just needed each other for a time. At times, Murdock felt a little jealous of their relationship. Not in a sexual way; he just wanted Face to need him more emotionally sometimes. But he knew Hannibal could be so many more people to Face than he himself could be. He didn't begrudge them. He realized a long time ago how good they were for each other, and always supported their relationship.
BA, at first, had been silently ashamed of them. He held strong beliefs, and one of those beliefs was that it was wrong for two men to be having sex with each other. But that was years ago. He'd made himself relax about the sexual issue and watched objectively as Hannibal and Face's relationship developed over time. He couldn't deny how well they complemented each other, and kept each other in check. They were two sides of the same coin, and fed off each other. Hannibal was always able to control Face's insecurities and impetuousness. While Face, at least most of the time, could keep Hannibal from getting carried away with his "Jazz". It didn't take him long to see the two were made for each other. There was no one more suited to Face and Hannibal than each other.
BA gave Murdock a sideways look. He really couldn't read the pilot's expression at the moment, but assumed he was concerned about his best friend. Faceman was better at judging Murdock's moods, but sometimes Face and the colonel got so wrapped up in each other, that the fool sometimes felt left out. It was these times BA took it upon himself to pick up the slack. As much as the crazy man's antics bothered him, he didn't like seeing Murdock lonely.
BA nudged Murdock's arm and whispered, "Faceman'll be okay, fool. 'Tween us and Hannibal, we'll make sure of that. Don't fret 'bout him."
Murdock looked at BA, his lips pursed as he sucked his inside cheek. He made a smacking noise when he broke the suction and grinned half-assured at BA. "It sucks the way they treated him, you know, big guy. But you're right. He wouldn't want us feeling sorry for him."
"We more of a family to him than those Bancrofts ever could be. We'll just keep on lovin' him like we always have, and Hannibal will keep on lovin' him in his way."
They watched Hannibal and Face a moment. The lieutenant looked much better. They were both smiling and were obviously sharing some very sweet words judging from their expressions, quick kisses and wandering hands. Both BA and Murdock had to grin at this.
"Oh yeah, I think he'll be just fine," Murdock's smile made his brown eyes sparkle. "And if Hannibal has his way, Face'll be feeling fine all night long."
BA giggled at the comment, which got the attention of the two lovers. "What are you two grinning at?" Hannibal asked suspiciously.
"Oooh, nothing," Murdock said innocently, rocking back and forth on the heels of his feet.
"Nothin' at all," BA added, while crossing his fingers behind his back.
Hannibal gave them the hairy eye, and a knowing grin. "Uh-huh. Sure."
He and Face moved to the sofa to sit. Face was just relaxing against Hannibal when he sat back up quickly, his eyes wide. "I completely forgot!"
"Forgot what?" Hannibal asked.
"What we talked about outside earlier." He looked up at Murdock, his expression hopeful. "Murdock, did AJ tell you anything at all about me? From when I was born or my mother? Anything you haven't already told me?"
Murdock's eyes got big and round. "Oh my God!" He clutched his cap against his chest. "Yes, he did! A few things, not much really. I'm sorry, Face. With everything that's been going on, I-I just didn't think of it. I'm sorry! Please forgive me!"
Face waved him over to sit next to him. "It's okay, Murdock. The way I've been acting, I never gave you the chance to." Murdock sat down on the sofa, BA sat in an armchair across from them, also interested in what Murdock knew.
Face didn't know where to begin, he had so many questions. He started with the one that seemed to top the list in importance to him. "Did he tell you what my name is?"
There was a brief few seconds of shocked silence from everyone. Such a simple question. Face had had many names over the years, yet he never knew what his real name was. Was that why it was so easy for him to change his names, himself, so often?
"It's Richard," Murdock stammered finally. "You were named after AJ's father."
"Richard," Face repeated very quietly. He let it sink in, then smiled. "Not bad. It's alot better than Alvin," he joked, shrugging. "What about my mother? Did he mention her?"
"Her name was Samantha. They were college sweethearts." He continued, wondering how Face would take the circumstances of his conception. "They got married when they found she was pregnant. AJ said he couldn't handle the responsibility of being a father and couldn't support all of you. He took off after a while."
They all saw Face's features sadden slightly, and he lowered his eyes at the mention of the pregnancy before the marriage. "I'm sorry, Face," Murdock said quietly, touching Face's knee.
"It's okay. I always assumed I was an accident. It just stung a little, hearing it's really true." Face leaned back against Hannibal. "Is there anything else?"
"Well, uh, only that after he left he couldn't forget you. He never knew what happened to your mother, but he eventually found you and kept up with you all these years."
The last words left Face's stomach feeling like lead. He ran a hand over his face and shook his head slowly.
"Face?" Hannibal asked, putting his arms around the younger man gently.
Face let out an angry gasp. "He knew where I was. All those years, he knew I was in that orphanage and the bastard left me there!"
Hannibal didn't know what to say. He just held Face tighter.
"Maybe he figured you were better off there than with him," BA offered. "Maybe he was hoping somebody better than him would adopt you."
Hannibal nodded his appreciation to BA. "BA's got a point. AJ ran out on you and your mother. He did the same thing to Ellen. I think he knew he was an unfit father. I would call him a coward, myself," Hannibal offered.
"A coward who cared more about getting rich in illegal business dealings than taking care of his own children," Murdock added. "You were better off without him, Face."
"Yeah," Face smiled wistfully. "I doubt AJ could pitch a sermon and a baseball both in the same day nearly as well as Father Maghill," he said, trying to lighten the mood for the benefit of the guys. It earned light chuckles from the pilot and colonel. BA just rolled his eyes upward.
He thought back to the last conversation he'd had with AJ. He'd told AJ the poem that the sister had taught him. AJ had told him in a feeble voice that any father would be proud to have him as a son. When Face reminded him he was a wanted criminal and that he doubted any father could be proud of a son like that; AJ had responded quietly "or a father like that".
Face now understood what he'd been trying to say. AJ had probably wanted to tell him then that he was his father, but he was too ashamed of himself.
"They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Boy, is that ever true." Face couldn't stop the ironic chuckle that escaped him. "What are the chances of a father and son both being on somebody's Top Ten Most Wanted List for completely different reasons?" He let out another cackle and shrugged. "And at least now I know where I get my great talents of conning, scamming, larceny, defrauding,--"
"Face!" Hannibal interrupted the listing of his inauspicious attributes. "Don't compare yourself to him."
Face sat up and placed his hand on his chest. "Okay, so maybe I didn't do anything to deserve being put on the military's top ten. But the rest...." he gestured and laughed. "I mean, think about it!"
They did think about it and thought the similarities were quite unique, and maybe a little amusing. But none of the three wanted to mock Face's lineage, even if he seemed to be doing so himself.
Finally Murdock broke the silence with, "I don't know....can traits like that be inherited?" He leaned back on the sofa and stretched his arms out before locking them behind his neck. "Then again, they do seem to come natural to ya," he said in his Texas drawl, putting his high tops up on the coffee table. "Least, they used to, before you got old and lazy."
"Old and lazy?!" Face scorned loudly.
"Yep," Murdock continued ribbing. "I remember those scams and get-rich-quick schemes you used to pull. You haven't pulled a doozy in a looooong time." He stared arrogantly down at his shoes, tapping them together.
"Only because someone won't let me!" Face countered, directing the comment at Hannibal.
"I'm only trying to make an honest man out of you," Hannibal said airily.
"Uh-huh," Face responded sarcastically.
"You may be good, Hannibal. But you ain't no miracle worker." BA giggled, slapping his thigh at his own joke.
"Oh, I don't know about that," Hannibal grinned. "Face has told me I've made the earth move for him plenty of times. Haven't you, sweet cheeks?" He reached up and pinched Face's cheek.
"Ah, geez!" Face slapped the hand away, his face burned red from embarrassment.
"Well, that's more than I wanted to hear," Murdock said, pulling his cap down over his face.
"Man! Sometimes you're worse than some high school kid," BA rebuked, standing up. "If we're fishin' tomorra, I better go see if that pontoon's gonna run."
"I'll help you, big guy," Murdock said, getting up also. "And don't forget you have that window to fix, too. Serves you right for losing your temper."
They continued arguing as they walked away, their voices carried well. "Can't fix the window till Frankie gets back with my van."
"Well, at least put some wood over it! It gets cold here at night!"
"Shut up and leave me alone, fool!"
Face laughed at the fading voices. Hannibal liked the sound of it. "Come here," he said, holding his arm out.
Face scooted up close to Hannibal, practically sitting on his lap. "Close enough?"
"Never," Hannibal smiled, wrapping his arms around the younger man. "Feeling better now?"
Face knew he was referring to the AJ and Ellen situation. "Yes." He snuggled in close, laying his head on Hannibal's strong shoulder. "I don't see any reason to keep dwelling on it, so I'm not going to let it get me down anymore."
"That's good." Hannibal sighed. There was a question about Face's early life he'd always wondered about, and today's talk of his parentage brought the question back again. "Hun, can I ask you about something from when you were young? Do you mind?"
"No. Go ahead." Face wasn't entirely sure, but he didn't want to disappoint Hannibal either.
"You just showed up at the orphanage when you were five, right? What about before then? Five years old is plenty old enough to know your own name. What happened?"
Face took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He remembered being asked that same question by Father Maghill and a few doctors. He didn't know then, and still didn't.
"I don't know," he started flatly. "After I showed up there, I wouldn't talk. For almost a year I didn't say a word. At least not consciously. Father Maghill told me I would mumble things during nightmares, so they knew I had a voice at least. They took me to medical doctors and psychiatrists. Physically, I was fine. The psychiatrists said that something extremely traumatic must have happened and I was blocking it all out. They couldn't keep calling me "hey you", so they gave me name Alvin Brenner. I always hated that name."
"What made you start talking again?" Hannibal was caressing his hair, letting him know he was loved and could tell him anything.
"Father Maghill." Face chuckled, remembering. "It came time for me to start school. But the county social workers told Father that if I couldn't communicate normally, then they would send me to live at a school for children with "special" needs. Well, he wouldn't have that. He knew I had a voice, and didn't want me to be sent away. So he and Sister Catherine concocted a sneaky plan between them to get me to talk."
Hannibal smiled at this. A priest with a sneaky plan....he liked that. "What did they do?"
"Father and I were all alone in the rectory. I was helping him rearrange his bookshelves, when he suddenly grabs his chest and collapses. I didn't know what to do, I was scared to death. He pointed to the phone and told me to call for help. I just shook my head no, and started running for the door to find help. He grabbed me and said it would be quicker to call and that the number to the kitchen was by the phone and that somebody would surely be there. He moaned really loud like he was in great pain and begged me to call. So I went to the phone, not even questioning why he happened to have the extension number to the kitchen right there handy. Sister Catherine had been sitting by the phone waiting for the call, so no one else would answer.
"Anyway, I was scared and crying, but managed to get the words out coherently enough for her to understand. That's when I felt Father's hand on my shoulder. I turned around and there he stood, healthy as can be with a big proud smile on his face. He took the phone and told Sister everything was fine and hung up. He knelt down, wiped my face and said, 'I knew you could speak, lad. You just needed the right encouragement'."
"He explained about the other school and why he did what he did. He said he loved me too much to see me sent away, and that I belonged right there with him until the right family came along. Of course, he soon realized what a talkative little chatterbox I could be and couldn't get me to shut up."
Hannibal was glad he wasn't shutting up at the moment. He was overjoyed that Face was telling him about a part of himself that very few people knew of.
"But back to your original question," Face continued. "I still don't know what happened to bring me to the orphanage. When I think about it, I just assume my mother was killed somehow and I was left wandering around alone and found the place by some miracle."
"You know," Hannibal suddenly thought, "now that you know her name, we could do some research. Hunt down records and find out what happened to her."
Face thought hard about that for a moment. It was true what he said about assuming she was dead, but there was always that nagging part of his mind that wondered if maybe she hadn't died, but had just left him there, abandoned on the sidewalk. He didn't think he could handle finding out if that was the truth. It was better not knowing at all.
"No, I don't think so. Maybe sometime in the future, but not now."
"Sure, babe. Whatever you say." Hannibal respected his decision, not wanting to push him before he was ready. He was amazed he'd gotten as much out of Face as he did, and decided it was time to change the subject. "Well, there's plenty of day left. What do you want to do? Go for a short hike? Swim? Go in the bedroom and lock the door?" Hannibal grinned and grabbed a handful of Lieutenant ass.
Face laughed and teasingly ran his finger across Hannibal's chest. "Well, now that you mention it...." He made a trail of kisses from Hannibal's ear down to his chin. "I really could use something right now. And that's...." Face suggestively ran his tongue around Hannibal's soft lips.
"Hmmm....?" Hannibal attempted to catch the tongue with his lips. His heart started beating harder in anticipation. Face allowed Hannibal to catch his mouth in a firm kiss. The colonel's hand was kneading the denim-clad cheek it was holding.
Face suddenly ended the kiss and broke into a grin. "Food! I'm starving!" Then he looked up towards the ceiling and planned the rest of the day. "Then I thought I'd lay out in the sun for a while, maybe shoot some hoops with Murdock to get him out of BA's hair. Then read for a—"
"Brat!" Hannibal smacked the butt he had been enjoying. "Okay, food it is," he groaned. "You do know that you're going to make this up to me later." It was no question, just a statement of fact.
And Face did make it up to him. That night after they were sure the others would be asleep and BA's snores would drown out any sounds that might escape their room. BA had refused to go to bed until he knew his van was back safe and sound. So they played cards until Frankie returned, going to bed shortly after.
Face did things to Hannibal that only a well-experienced lover could. He knew every inch of his partner's body. Could find every point of pleasure with his eyes closed as only a long-time love would know. His hands, mouth and body took Hannibal to heights as fresh and passionate as if their love was new.
Afterwards, their cooling bodies lay entwined with each other's. No words needed be said to convey what they were feeling. Hannibal once again let his thoughts go to what he knew of his lover's past and how it was affected now. He also let an idea he'd been considering for quite a while become a part of the equation. He smiled as he realized the idea seemed to fit just right. Now was the perfect time....
"Hmmm?" Face responded dreamily.
"Do you like your name?"
Face chuckled. "Which one?"
"Templeton Peck, goofball! Do you like it?" He already knew how Face chose the name. It had been the summer before he started high school. He'd been doing yard work in the area to earn money and wanted to start a savings account. He needed a social security number to get a bank account and didn't have one. Father Maghill took the opportunity to let Face choose a name to be legally changed to since he hated the name Alvin. He had thought long and hard and came up with Templeton Arthur Peck. He liked it because it sounded rich and distinguished. That would be the name that would grace his brand new social security card and savings account.
"I don't know. I mean, it looks good as a signature; but it sounds kind of pompous, I guess. Why?"
"You could change it if you wanted," Hannibal hedged, not quite getting to the point yet.
Face leaned himself up on his elbow and looked at Hannibal, strangely. He didn't really know what to make of the comment, but only one thing came to mind.
"Are you thinking I should take Bancroft's name?" Face asked, confused. He thought a second. "Richard's not so bad." He tilted his head, echoed the name in his mind. "I actually kind of like Richard. But not Bancroft," he shook his head. "I don't think I could ever get used to that name. Or even want to."
"I can call you Richard if you want. It is your real first name, after all. But I wasn't thinking of Bancroft for a last name."
"What last name were you thinking of?" Face asked, totally clueless.
Hannibal began fingering the edge of his pillow case. "Well, I was thinking that....maybe....you could take my name."
Face just stared at Hannibal wide-eyed a few seconds, letting the words sink in. Then an impish smile radiated his face. "Hannibal? Are you proposing?!"
Hannibal cleared his throat. "Well....yes. We've already lived together so many years. In most states, if we were a male-female couple, we'd already be considered married by common law. It's just a matter of one of us using the other's last name." He took Face's hand and kissed it. "I love you, and I want to make it an official lifelong commitment."
Face's impish smile had become one of serious happiness. Looking deep into Hannibal's sky blue eyes, he saw the love and how much this meant to him. "The commitment's always been there. I love you too, and always will. And I would love to share your name."
Hannibal's hand went to Face's head and pulled him in for a kiss that left them both trembling from the intensity.
When Face could breathe normally again, he said playfully, "I hope you don't expect me to be a blushing bride. I'd look lousy in a wedding gown."
"You'd look beautiful in a burlap sack," Hannibal said proudly, rubbing Face's arm. "We don't need the ceremony. As far as I'm concerned, it's official as of now." His hand ran down Face's left arm to his fingers. "However, some kind of symbolism would be nice. We could get rings."
Face's eyes danced at the thought. "There is a quaint little jewelry shop in town."
"I guess we're going shopping tomorrow. Uh....right after some early morning fishing," Hannibal smiled rascally. "We can get a good three or four hours of fishing in before the store even opens."
Face smacked himself in the head. "Of course! Where are my priorities?"
"Yes, Lieutenant. Really!" Hannibal shook his head, in mocked reproach. They shared laughter for a moment, then he went to the subject of names again. "So, do you want to keep your name Templeton or change it to Richard?"
"Hmmm...." Face laid back on his pillow, puckered his features up in thought. "Templeton Smith....Richard Smith...." He let the two names bounce around for sound. "Ah, what the hell. If I'm going to change my last name, might as well change the first. Richard Smith has a nice ring to it." He smiled at the sound of the name coming from his lips.
Hannibal agreed. "I like that one myself. Especially the Smith." Face snickered next to him. "What about a middle name?" Hannibal continued. "You got to have a middle name."
"Everybody's got a middle name. Have you ever filled out a form or an application and not have it ask for a middle initial?" Hannibal was enjoying his rambling example. "Middle names are how people with the same name differ—"
"Okay, okay," Face laughed, knowing he'd go on another ten minutes otherwise. "I get the point." He crossed his arms behind his head to think again. "Let's see...."
"Andrew sounds nice," Hannibal hinted.
Face looked over at him pointedly. They both knew that Andrew James was what AJ's initials stood for. Face realized that Hannibal was gently suggesting that maybe he shouldn't ignore or forget his father completely. He had felt a slight pang of guilt when he rejected the Bancroft name so quickly. He may not have liked the man personally, but he was his father. And his father hadn't forgotten him; he'd followed his life out of concern and had come forward to admit his mistake. Even if it was too late.
Face sighed and smiled wistfully. "Andrew would fill out my new name perfectly."
Hannibal's grin showed his pride in Face's choice. "Better not drop "Face" though. That'd really be too much for the guys."
"Yeah, I can already see Murdock coming up with every variation of Richard there is." He moaned lightly. "Dick would be the worst. Whoever came up with Dick as a nickname for Richard?"
"Better not let Murdock know you don't like it, that's the one he'll use to torture you with." Hannibal's hand moved to Face's hip. "There is one dick that I happen to be crazy about." His hand gently grasped and caressed the body part he had in mind.
Face let the hand work him for a few seconds. "Mmmmm. That part of me doesn't mind the name at all."
Hannibal got him up to more than half-mast before letting him go, fully intending to continue in a moment. He leaned his body over the younger one's, staring at his face, his eyes. He saw complete love and trust in them. His fingers caressed the ruffled dark blond hair and face beneath. He thanked God for the being beneath him having agreed to be his life mate....his husband?
"What are you thinking?" Face asked quietly, his own hand unconsciously reaching up to touch his mate's warm skin.
"Just thanking our maker for you. You are everything to me, Richard Andrew Smith. You are my world."
Face closed his eyes when the surge of emotion shot through him. When he opened them again, he had to blink rapidly to keep the tears in check. He thought he'd already known happiness. But when he heard his name, the same name he would share with Hannibal for the rest of their lives together, a new happiness he'd never felt overflowed him.
"I wish you could feel what I'm feeling right now." Face's voice cracked as he spoke. "You've made me so happy tonight. Hearing you say that name sounds so right."
Hannibal knew very much what Face was feeling, he felt very similar himself. "It is right. We are very right."
A thought came to Face's mind. "I know we have to wait until after we get our pardons to change it legally, even though I plan on using it from here on. But there's one other thing I would like to do when it's legal. It would mean an awful lot to me."
"Anything," Hannibal assured. "What is it?"
"When we're pardoned and on our own, and can finally contact the people we knew before. I'd really like it if we could have Father Maghill give our union a blessing."
Hannibal wasn't shocked at the request. Catholic traditions had been instilled in Face all through his childhood. He may not be as devout as he could be, but the beliefs were still there. He understood Face's request, but would the Church understand them?
"I thought the Catholic Church didn't support gay relationships."
"There's been alot of debate in recent years about modernizing some very old beliefs. Father Maghill is one of those who believes that if two people love each other, no matter what their sex, they should be treated the same as if they were a traditional male/female couple." Face looked down dubiously for a few seconds, then looked back up. "It wouldn't be completely supported by the Church itself because we're gay, and the fact that you're not Catholic. But just hearing him say the words would be enough for me. He'll understand and do this for us, I'm sure he would."
That was good enough for Hannibal. "We'll do it then," he promised. "And having the man who raised you from a pup do it would make it even more special."
"Thanks Love," Face smiled. "You guys were right earlier. I was much better off with Father Maghill. If things had been different, I probably never would have met you. I can't even imagine a life without you."
"Then don't. Because—" he kissed Face's mouth lightly. "I'm here to stay." He kissed him again. "Forever." Another kiss. "And ever." The next kiss was long and penetrating. Face moaned deeply and wrapped his arms around Hannibal.
No more words were said from Hannibal for a while. His mouth was busy exploring. Face's only words were murmurs of encouragement and sounds of extreme pleasure. Hannibal's style of lovemaking was something Face could never get enough of. He used varying degrees of gentleness and aggressiveness that always drove the younger man wild. This time was no exception. This time was even more special because they had the openly said commitment of lifelong dedication. Of marriage, in every sense of the word.
When all Face could see was the blinding white light of ecstasy, he was sure he felt the earth move once again.
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