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Ghost of the Past
Summary: Fifteen years after the fact, Hannibal and Face cross paths with the lieutenant's first C.O. from Viet Nam, and Hannibal learns just how Face ended up with his A-Team. Originally published in 1998 in Sugar & Spice's Beneath the SurFace fanzine.
Warning: Slash, language, attempted rape.
Hannibal Smith gathered his belongings from the back seat of the studio's limousine as the driver turned the big car into Costa del Oro, the street on which Face had scammed their latest abode. The distinguished silver-haired actor eased forward in the seat, anxiously peering out the windshield as Harry pulled the Cadillac up to the curb of Number 1011.
"Harry, great ride - can't thank you enough."
"No problem, Mr. Smith," the older man replied, genuine affection for his latest passenger ringing true in his voice. Mr. John Smith was not only one of the all-time great movie monsters, he was one of the nicest as well. "Pick you up in the morning at six? That'll put us at the studio by seven," Harry asked, nimbly exiting his seat and coming around to open Hannibal's door.
The leader of the A-Team winced. "Seven? Is that what time my call is?" he replied dully, knowing Harry was fully aware of the schedule.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Smith. To get you there on time, I'll be here early, I'm sorry to say." The driver all but giggled. "I'll have coffee, the Daily Racing Form, and the morning paper all set for you."
"Looks like your manager made it back early. I thought
you said he wouldn't return from
"Hmm, I thought that's what he told me. Ah, well, probably ran out of girls or something and decided to rest up on the patio, poor boy," Smith chuckled, mock concern in every syllable.
"He sure does like the ladies," Harry whistled, returning to his car. "See you in the morning, Mr. Aquamaniac." The driver waved a quick farewell, and maneuvered the car out of the cul-de-sac.
"Ooops, sorry!" he
called after the burly man. The runner politely waved, all forgiven and
Smith cocked his head as the man ran off, feeling that the jogger was somehow familiar. Deciding that it was only the fact that he'd seen the man so often around their street lately, he shook his head. "That guy is gonna run himself into the ground," he said to no one but himself as he started up the walk, squinting against the glare of the late afternoon sun.
Upon entering the house,
Face had really outdone himself scamming up this piece of
real estate. Too bad we can't put a down
payment on this place,
Incorrigible, he thought fondly, stripping off his jacket and
tie, dumping them on the simple, elegant wicker sofa.
Shaking his head from the scene, he descended the steps into the garden. The gentle sounds of waves breaking endlessly on the beach beyond immediately sent the colonel into a relaxed mode and he stalked silently up to the lounge chair.
Face was fast asleep, lying on his back, chic mirrored
sunglasses hiding his blue-green eyes from the sun. The lieutenant had been down in the heart of
Jesus, I'm starved! All I can think about is food.
Actually, now that
I wonder how long he's been out here? The colonel laughed unsympathetically. Is he gonna be pissed when he wakes up... hmmm...guess I could wake him up. He paused and glanced at the reddening sky. Nah, sun's going down anyway.
With a bemused grin,
The cabinets proved a barren wasteland inhabited only by a box of water crackers, a jar of Spanish olives and three cans of creamed corn. Creamed corn? Who the hell bought that? I don't remember us getting them... The refrigerator proved a bit better, offering a grapefruit, three navel oranges, some leftover Chinese take-out (which the colonel decided had lived long enough, pitching it into the trash) and two slices of an artichoke-anchovy pizza from last night.
Eh, wonder what's in the freezer. Pizza'll win if I can't find anything more appetizing in the deep freeze.
Much to his surprise, Face didn't wake up, and
As a sly, lewd grin creased his handsome features,
"Huh... what... Han'bl?" Face stirred, a confused note to his voice as his sleepy mind tried to comprehend the assault of frozen dairy topping over his body. "When'd you get back?"
Peck fought to bring himself into a sitting position, rubbing blearily at his eyes before he noticed the devious grin on his lover's face and the tub of Cool Whip in his hands.
"What the hell are you doing?" Face sputtered, more alert as he gaped at the melting cream. "Hannibal! Can't you just tap me on the shoulder? Shit!" Peck brushed in annoyance at the little bits of frozen confection.
"Yeah, I could just tap you on the shoulder, but that's not half as enjoyable," Hannibal laughed, watching avidly as Face brushed not only the Cool-Whip off his belly, but the towel as well. Before the startled younger man could react, Smith had dipped his fingers back into the tub and dropped another bit of topping right between Face's legs.
"Yeoww! That's cold!" Peck half-choked, half-laughed. "Will you quit it?" he yelled, struggling to extricate himself from the lounge chair.
across his lover's thighs, his erection thrusting through the robe. Face chuckled when he saw it.
"Oh, so that's it. I should've known!"
Adjusting his backside to a more comfortable position,
causing Face to wince slightly,
Face followed his gaze. "Uh, you're not thinking of -
yikes!' The lieutenant jumped as
Despite Peck's disastrous prediction, Smith could feel the heavy, flaccid shaft in his hand begin to twitch under a barrage of fondling. In short minutes, Smith had the younger man's cock hard, pumping it mercilessly under the unique lubrication. Face stopped struggling to free himself and began struggling to increase the friction. He lay back against the lounge and thrust upward, feeling Hannibal's grip tighten while the colonel's other hand coated his chest with the rapidly thawing topping.
"Oh, God, Hannibal..." Face muttered, wishing Hannibal's mouth would warm the freezing places on his skin.
As if in answer to his silent prayer,
Not to be outdone, Face gripped his lover's head with one hand, brutally pressing their mouths together as their tongues wrestled in a hot embrace. Peck's other hand thrust between their slick bodies to find Smith's throbbing erection. With a groan of desire he gripped it firmly, caressing it with strong, demanding strokes, finally forcing it to rub against his own aching cock.
When the spasms finally eased, he lay heavily on the lean
body under him, dimly aware of Face's urgent thrusting and that he'd lost the
tub of Cool-Whip. Rousing himself to satisfy his lover,
Smith relented, giving his partner a wicked smile. He
reached out and enclosed the thick shaft with one hand, letting the other cup
and squeeze Peck's tightly drawn up balls. "Where're we goin'?"
The glib reply won him a murderous look even as he pumped his fist up and down the straining erection. He caught his breath as he watched the cock shuddering in his palm and finally leaned closer.
"Mmm, never had such a treat," he murmured before engulfing the head of Face's cock with his mouth.
Peck arched against the tormenting lips, the throbbing waves
of ecstasy beginning to close in. He twisted against the erotic sensations as
"Oh, God, Han'bl... it's good... so good..." he panted as his colonel's mouth returned the sensitive head of his cock, the strong tongue swirling around, rubbing insistently at the tender underside.
"C'mon, kid, let it go..."
He barely had time to cover the hot, moist cockhead before
his mouth was drenched with the pulsing jets of Face's delicious salty fluid.
"And here, I thought there was nothing to eat in the house," he chuckled softly. Face grinned and stretched luxuriously.
"Yeah, well, if we're gonna get technical, I'm not in the house, Colonel."
"Insatiable," Peck muttered, the mock hurt think in his voice, but he extracted himself from the lounge chair, towel in hand. "S'pose this means we're going out?" he muttered heading for the house.
"Ha!" Face's voice sounded slightly muffled as he disappeared down the hall toward their bedroom. "I'm never gonna be able to set foot in the frozen foods aisle of the supermarket again without getting a hard-on."
"Hey, Face, let me dress you for tonight,"
Peck straightened and gave the colonel a skeptical look.
"Ah," the lieutenant stammered. "I, ah, don't think so, Hannibal. I haven't quite recovered from the last time you tried that and ended up matching my pale gray moleskin trousers with your own red checked denim shirt." Face toweled his hair briskly. "Nope, definitely not. You had your chance that one time."
The colonel knew nothing of the phrase "bribery will get you nowhere". In his experience with Face, it often got him everywhere.
"Scout's honor," Smith swore, giving the Boy Scout salute, as near as he could remember it.
Face wavered, his sensual lips twitching at one corner. "Any place I want to go?"
"No matter how expensive?"
"And you'll foot the bill?"
"Absolutely, drinks, appetizers, main courses, even desserts and after-dinner sherries."
Peck was still unconvinced. "And all you want in return is to pick out my clothes?" His voice took on an air of incredulity.
The younger man was having a difficult time processing the odd request, especially when Hannibal's insistent lips traveled along his jawbone up to his left ear, and began worrying the sensitive lobe.
"Um... well... I guess... as long as you don't do that
denim-moleskin thing again," Face muttered breathlessly. "Aw, quit
that, will ya? I'm trying to think here," he
suddenly demanded as
"Yeah, I know," chuckled the colonel, unrepentant. "Why do you think I'm doing this?"
Sighing with pleasure, Face managed to push the older man away. "Just get on with it, will ya? I thought you were hungry?" Peck's voice was slightly agitated as he moved back into the master bedroom, a towel tucked neatly around his hips.
"Uh-uh, remember? The deal is I dress you," the colonel reprimanded, stealing the slinky black silk briefs out of his lover's hand. He tossed them aside and encircled Tem from behind, his hands stroking the smooth, hard chest.
Face huffed but leaned back into the caress. "Oh, fine, what do you want me to wear?" He tried for a bored, unaffected tone but missed.
Face tried to inflict his most annoyed gaze on the colonel but failed when Hannibal's hands began slow, firm caresses of his hips and buttocks.
"Oh, this is very nice. It's a shame to cover it up," Smith muttered, as he gently squeezed the neat, firmly rounded globes.
Face was instantly terrified. "Um,
"Oh, I don't know, Lieutenant," Smith all but cackled, trying to control his laughter. His hands slid around Face's hips to fondle the younger man's genitals. Peck groaned with desire. "Seems to me you're carrying a mighty fine piece right here," the colonel chuckled, stroking along the swelling shaft more firmly.
"Hannibal!" Face suddenly admonished, tearing himself out of the older man's grasp. "If you want to go out and get dinner fine, but we're going now! I'm not about to eat at ." He paused in his mock tirade and gave Smith a blatantly sultry look from under his thick lashes. "We can be doing other things then."
Face's eyes crinkled with amusement. "Whatever." He gave a noncommital shrug.
"You're right, let me see what
we got here."
Peck frowned. "What?"
Face rolled his eyes heavenward. "You have got to be kidding? You don't want me to wear anything under my clothes?"
"And it better not be anything itchy," Face warned, his anxiety increasing.
The lieutenant became more nervous as the minutes passed
Just when he was thinking about sending a search party into the vast closet, Smith appeared, beaming from ear to ear. "I have got it!" he announced theatrically.
Face's eyes narrowed. He couldn't quite see what the colonel was hiding behind his back. "Yeah, and I have a feeling I'm gonna get it..." he muttered, petulantly. "Well, c'mon, show me. What assault have you conducted on my wardrobe this time?"
With a grand gesture,
Face's jaw dropped open in amazement. "You want me to wear that? People'll think I've escaped from a funeral."
"No, no, no,"
The lieutenant cast a pouting glance at
Face made sure
"Oh, I know you like this," Hannibal admonished, taking his time sliding the garment up Face's lean thighs, his fingers taking liberties against the firm smooth curves of his lover's backside. He settled the leather slacks on his lover's hips, lovingly arranging Face's genitals and carefully, very carefully, raising the zipper. He saw with amusement, the held in breath the younger man released when the zipping came to a successful, non-painful end.
Peck swayed in Smith's arms. "We're never gonna make dinner at this rate,
"Right you are!" the colonel suddenly burst out, slapping the firm, leathered ass of his lover. "Where are your sneakers?"
The younger man nodded his approval. "Nicely, thank
you," he replied formally, sitting down on the bed so
Much to his surprise, and intense relief,
Patting Face's leg, the older man stood up, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. "Now, give me a minute to put some clothes on and we're outta here." Smith heard his junior officer chuckling behind him as he turned back to the closet.
"Oh, gee, can I dress you?"
"That's a deal!"
"So, where are you taking me?"
"Well, you've kind of shot down any hopes of Ma Maison with that outfit you're wearing," Face muttered.
The younger man shrugged, a sly
smile quirked one corner of his mouth.
Now it was Face who laughed. "Oh, come on, Colonel, you love it when people want what you have."
Smith was surprised by his lieutenant's reaction. Face
"I can look after myself, thank you very much. And I
sure hope you're not thinking I'm some piece of property,
The colonel patted Face's thigh affectionately. "Nah, you made that all good and clear some time ago, Lieutenant. Not to worry. So," he said, lightening the mood, "where are we going?"
"Oh, I don't know. Any suggestions?"
Face's eyes narrowed and he cast a dubious sidelong glance
Face considered for several long minutes. "All right, but are you sure your wardrobe is up to par?" he teased.
"Well, if it ain't there's a
McDonald's just down the block,"
A short time later, the gleaming white Corvette, with its
racy red stripe and two dashing occupants, pulled into the parking lot of The
Crown Royale. Face hated to admit how impressed he was with the outside decor;
the restaurant was located in a magnificent, sprawling Victorian mansion set up
"I'm not sure either one of us is really dressed for
Smith scanned the other patrons approaching the huge ornate doorway. "It's not even six o'clock, Face. We're still with the early birds. Look at this two guys over there. They're pretty casual, chinos and polo shirts."
Face followed Hannibal's line of vision to a pair of college-age boys entering ahead of them. "Well, I gotta admit, we are a bit spiffier than that. I guess we'll do."
Flustered, Face jumped around to see if anyone had noticed the colonel's errant caress. To his relief, the parking lot was empty. "Will you knock that off? You know I hate it when you do that where someone could see," the lieutenant hissed.
Face looked down, abashed. "Well, I love you too, you know that. It's just...well..."
"The world isn't quite ready public displays of affection from men in love."
Peck shrugged, catching the wise, knowing look in Hannibal's brilliant blue eyes. "Yeah, I guess that's it. I mean, we have enough trouble as it is keeping ahead of the military. Keeping ahead of the narrow minds might prove a bit too daunting"
"Never! Since when does the
A-Team dodge a challenge?"
Face rolled his eyes heavenward. "Since the leader of the A-Team doesn't want to be sleeping on the couch tonight, that's when!"
The older man sobered immediately though his eyes were filled with lustful dreams. "Point well taken, Lieutenant. Now, how about some dinner so I can get on with the real feasting?"
But when they were led to an elegant table situated just off
to the side, accessible but secluded, Face, too, became aware of the all-male
crowd. He turned speculative blue eyes on his commander but
Face was furious. How dare
"Um, gee, Tem, I know you probably won't believe me but I had no idea this was one of those kinds of places. C'mon, we can get out of here without making too much of a scene," Hannibal offered the escape and rose in anticipation of his junior officer's acceptance but Face remained seated, his stubborn expression of a minute ago replaced with a totally uncharacteristic one of acquiescence. Smith cringed. Uh-oh...
"There's no need,
The wanton inflection of the word and the come-hither look
on Peck's face assured
The nostrils of the perfect nose flared dangerously and Face's eyes turned a cold, hard blue. "You might be content with a burger and greasy fries, but I would not. I'm not leaving," he said evenly.
"Then you're going to walk home,"
To his surprise, and dismay, Face smiled brilliantly. "I'm
sure I won't have any problem catching a ride - with someone," he purred,
For one of the few times in his life,
He decided on a different approach. "Look, kid, I told you I really had no idea this place was a hangout," he urged, resuming his seat at the table. "Honest! And I know you hate places like this so why don't we just call it a truce and go home, huh?" Hannibal's eyes pleaded and Face felt his reserve waver. "We can stop on the way and pick up some more Cool-Whip?"
Face's resolve broke and a true, indulgent smile crossed his handsome features. "You sure you didn't know what kind of place this was?"
Face shrugged, his smile indulgent. "No, I hate leather and the bikers and smoky dives you seem to think so amusing." Face sighed and looked around. "This place is really pretty nice. I guess it isn't so bad." He paused as he considered the colonel. "I am starving and we've got a table. I don't mind staying."
"Please... I'm not sure I understood the last one, but I don't mind staying, I mean, if you don't mind. I seriously doubt you'll tear this place apart like that joint you took me to in Tarzana."
Smith chuckled at the memory of last April Fools' Day, when the
Team had been going through an unusually quiet period. He'd persuaded Face to
join him at an absolute dive. The appropriately named End Shot Bar had been
filled with the roughest, rowdiest looking crowd
The hulking, lust-filled, half-drunk biker had suddenly
found himself upended across the bar by the slender form in the expensive suit.
Never underestimate Special Forces' Training,
The ice in the water was tepid compared to the coldness in
the younger man's look. Face hadn't talked to the colonel for a week afterward
Returning from his reverie, the colonel smiled gratefully, surveying the fine linens and elegant, if casual, atmosphere. Businessmen, men of finance, professors... no, he couldn't picture a brawl like the one in Tarzana.
"Okay, if you're sure. I gotta admit, I'm pretty famished, too." His eyes took on a glowing, azure warmth. "Though that was one mighty fine appetizer back at the house," he muttered, keeping a perfectly straight face.
"I didn't hear that," came
the slightly muffled reply, as Face picked up his menu and ignored the purely
lecherous gaze from the man across the table.
The two men were so deep in thought it was a moment before they realized their waiter was busily setting up an ice bucket next to their table. Face was wondering if it was customary in this restaurant to assume the guests were going to order a wine, when a second waiter produced a bottle, gracefully presented over his left forearm.
"Dom Perignon, 1973, for your enjoyment, sir," he proudly remarked to Face, neatly depositing the expensive wine into the ice filled tub.
Face looked to
Hannibal's amusement grew. "Hate to break this to you, kid, but I didn't order it either." Turning to the waiter, Smith raised his eyebrows. "You must have the wrong table."
The uniformed man stood rigidly upright. "Oh, no, sir... this is a gift to your companion."
Face's own brows shot skyward. "Who on earth would send me this?"
"That gentleman sitting over there by
the front window." The waiter pointed to a distinguished, stocky,
steely haired man, casually reclined at a table set against the magnificent bay
window overlooking the ocean. Both
"So, who's your admirer, Face?"
"I haven't a clue, though he does sort of look familiar." Peck stared more intently at his benefactor, overcome with an intense feeling that he'd seen the older man somewhere before.
Face stared. "Yeah, it is," he said slowly,
sitting straight up in his seat. He thought a moment, glanced at the very
expensive bottle of wine, then turned back to its giver. He knew he was about
A rapid flicker of emotions crossed Hannibal's face, the last of which was indignation.
"No, I would not. Put that down - you can't accept that wine."
Face turned his most endearing 'orphan' look on Smith. "Why
ever not?" he asked innocently. "If some stranger wants to give me a
$150 bottle of champagne, I say, 'a fool and his money are soon parted'."
His expression changed to one of total devotion. "C'mon,
"Well, I thank you kindly, but as we both know, I can take care of some rich joker who wants to throw his money away," Face laughed pouring out the champagne but he couldn't resist a little teasing. "Of course, the way this Team goes through money, maybe I ought to try and bilk this guy for some more capital, you know, lead him on a little..."
Settling the bottle back into the ice bucket, the younger man laughed out loud. "Yeah, I can just see it... china flying through the air... crystal goblets tossed into the potted plants... waiters running for their lives amid the Porsches and Jaguars..." He sighed wistfully before starting to sing, "These are a few of my favorite things!"
"What? What is it?" Smith asked, trying to keep the anxiety out of his voice.
Face shook his head. "This is really getting to me. I have the feeling that I know him," Face remarked, his voice soft as he tried desperately to place the stranger.
"Well, I told you I've seen him jogging around our
house, if that's any help,"
"No, I mean, I think I've met him somewhere before, that I really do know him."
"He knows you,"
Suddenly, Face went rigid in his seat, blue eyes huge with sudden comprehension. "Hannibal, can we go? I'm not very hungry anymore. We can pick up something on the way home." Peck didn't wait for the older man to answer; he was on his feet, tugging nervously at his jacket.
Smith tried to keep his jaw from falling but knew he'd been
unsuccessful. "What? Tem, we just ordered," he admonished, glancing
once again at the man across the room. Looking back at Face,
Face licked his lips anxiously before turning honestly
pleading eyes on his commander. "C'mon,
Smith was confused. Never in all the years that he'd known
Templeton Peck had he ever seen the blond charmer so willing to avoid a
confrontation. "Who is he, Tem?"
It was obvious that the man was causing his lover to relive
memories that had best been forgotten. Peck pleaded once again. "Aw,
This time, Tem didn't wait for an answer; he was moving
toward the exit, leaving a stunned
Emerging into the twilight,
Face shrugged, the stubborn crease in his brow deepening.
Nothing is ever easy with you, Smith sighed. Except loving you. "Apparently, your memory has provided our mysterious benefactor with an identity. Care to fill me in?"
Face turned away from
commanding officer in
"So, ah, there's quite a story here, huh?"
"Well, you'll probably hear nothing but silence, Lieutenant-Colonel Smith. That's about all I ever got from him. Well, from his mouth, at any rate." The stranger leered obscenely at Peck.
Smith jumped, angry for letting his defenses down. The
mysterious man from the restaurant sauntered over to the couple.
"Well, well, well... if it isn't Lieutenant Peck... after all these years," the diner purred.
Smith came nearly nose-to-nose with the stranger. He sized him up, bright blue eyes turning ice-cold as he stared hard at the other man. Face raised his own eyes defiantly, but he couldn't hide the fleeting misery.
"My, you have held up remarkably well over these years,
Lieutenant." The stranger paused as he ignored
Face's lip curled in disgust, his distress giving way to anger. "I would've ordered you an entire side of beef, Major, or perhaps an ass - something more suited to your personality."
As he pondered the dilemma, the elegantly clad man turned
his cold gaze upon
Peck snorted. "Out of your perverted hands, that's for
sure," he muttered under his breath, but
"Tsk, tsk, still so bitter after all these years, Peck? After I saved your tender hide from prison."
Every syllable of the major's words dripped with a sarcasm that ate into Peck's self-control. "You slimy bastard! I would have been better off with hardened criminals!"
The major laughed abruptly. "As
opposed to a hardened major? That's very funny," the man chortled.
He sidled around the stunned
"Who the hell are you?"
The man held out his hand, adopting an attitude of false congeniality. "Major William T. Cowan, now retired," he offered, eyeing Peck. "I never was promoted, thanks to you."
Face's eyes had narrowed dangerously. Smith hadn't seen Tem so angry and on edge since that barroom brawl last April. "You would have had to cover up too many molested subordinates to achieve that. You should've been the one thrown in prison."
"You're still a smart-mouthed, arrogant little shit, aren't you?" the major snarled before relaxing slightly, losing his anger and opting for a more sly approach. "Has he told you about us, Smith?" Cowan asked, his eyes boring through Peck. "Did he tell you about our little tryst back in Cam Ranh Bay?"
His dig had the appropriate effect; Major Cowan treated Smith to a look of concentrated hatred.
Face let out a long-held breath. He knew from the moment he
recognized Cowan that
"I'm not under your command anymore, Cowan, so get lost," Face snapped. "Go back to the slimy rock you crawled out from."
Cowan chuckled mirthlessly. "Haven't changed at all, have
you, Peck? You know, I was shocked when I recognized you in my neighborhood a
couple of weeks ago. Re-routed my afternoon runs to go by your house, just so I
could make sure. Then, when I realized you'd shacked up with Hannibal Smith
here, I felt an odd sense of pride. I mean, I broke you in." Cowan spared
The retired officer, lechery on fire in his eyes, turned back towards Peck. Knowing he had the advantage of having just shocked both of his listeners, he stretched out his hand and gripped one curve of Face's leather-clad buttock. "Mmm, mmm, just as round and firm as I remember," he declared.
"You lying son-of-a-bitch!" Face cried, hauling backward and swinging a powerful roundhouse punch
at Cowan. The blow caught the bigger man at the jawbone with a sharp crack
sending him reeling backward into the side of the Corvette. Before Face could
"Easy, kid, easy," Smith soothed, gripping Face firmly by the shoulders. "It's okay, Tem. I don't care what went on between you two. It doesn't matter to me."
The anger welled from deep in Hannibal's innermost being. Smith knew he was not without fault, and one of his deficiencies came in the area of expectations. He felt everyone should hold themselves to the high expectations he had for himself, to be honorable, upstanding and honest. Sadly, from long experience, he knew this wasn't the case.
Setting his mind, the colonel squeezed Face's shoulders sharply, determinedly, and set his mind. "Get in the car," he ordered, shaking Face from his terrible reminisces.
Peck knew that tone - and knew better than to disobey it. Oddly unsure of himself, the younger man accepted the command and moved around the vehicle, climbing into the passenger seat.
"You worthless bag of spit," he snarled, his voice so low only his captive could hear. "How many kids did you ruin over there? Gave you a thrill to force them into submission, huh? Well, let me tell you something, pal," Hannibal jammed his finger hard into Cowan's chest, accentuating the power of his threat, "if I ever see you 'round our place again, I'll shove those runnin' shoes of yours so far down your throat, you'll be shitting rubber soles and shoelaces for the rest of your measly life. Got it?'
Without waiting for an answer,
The colonel didn't look back as he climbed into the driver's
seat of the flashy white sports car. Instead he looked at the haunted
expression on his lover's face and felt his heart twist again, but this time it
swelled with love.
"Face? You okay?" he asked quietly, not surprised when the younger man didn't say a word. Face still hadn't looked at him, only stared out into the dying sun as it sank beneath the gentle waves of the ocean.
"So, you ready to tell me about Major Cowan?"
There was a lengthy pause and then a low admission. "I lied. It wasn't a nothing," Face shrugged, absently picking at a French fry. "You know what happened, or can imagine," he finally muttered, gazing out beyond the ocean to a part of his life lived long ago.
Smith finished chewing and swallowed, hesitant to press on
but knowing Face would sulk if he was allowed to dwell on the past events. "I
have an idea of what went on, but I don't really know. Look, kid,"
Face dragged his eyes back from the empty view of the sea
"I was stationed in administration at Cam Ranh Bay, sorting out the paperwork for incoming Special
Forces guys before they went on up to Nha Trang for
their assignments. I didn't ask for that job,
"Well, Cowan was my CO there, and now that I look back, I'd say he was the one who kept me in Cam Ranh. I was always uncomfortable around him. His jokes went from dirty to vulgar then to suggestive and they were directed to me, personally. I was shocked, and more than a little nervous but I couldn't quite figure out what to do about it. No way was I gonna complain to someone. It would have sounded ridiculous. In the end, I figured I only saw him two or three hours a day and I could put up with that. The rest of the time, I had free rein of the place."
The lieutenant leaned back against the seat, remembering. "It
was wonderful when I wasn't around him," he sighed, his voice nearly a
whisper. "I had more fun there than I think I did anywhere else. I learned
everything there was to know about how the
Face gave his first genuine smile in hours. "The old saying, it's not what you know, it's who you know. I made that my motto."
Smith waited but Face seemed more reluctant than ever to go on with the story. Gently, he urged, "So, where did Cowan figure into this?"
The smile vanished immediately from Peck's handsome face. He
sat quietly, choosing a French fry with ridiculous care and chewing it
"I forged his signature on a five-day pass to
The smile returned to Peck's lips.
"When I got back, Cowan was waiting for me, madder than
hell, brandishing that paper in front of him like a banner. He was all set to
march me right up to the MPs. I always wondered why he didn't have them waiting
for me. That should have struck me as odd, but all I knew was I was in deep
shit. I mean, I'd bluffed his name a bunch of times, but not for anything like
this. He dragged me back to his office and raged on and on about court-martials
and forgery and
Several minutes more passed before Peck continued. "I - I didn't know what to do. I knew he was right about some things. I didn't have a leg to stand on about the forgery; I did it and I reaped the benefits. He caught me dead to rights. He sensed this, that I knew I'd be found guilty and then he played up the rest."
Face turned toward
Face was silent a moment as he considered. "You know, I look back now and I can't believe I fell for the lines he fed me. He told me we could work out a deal to keep me out of prison." The lieutenant became still and silent, his thoughts lost in the painful memories.
"His whole demeanor changed in a flash. He grabbed me around the back of my neck and forced my face close to his. 'I want you, want to fuck you,' he hissed. I can still hear his voice, the way he said the words, can still smell his breath. I was so numb with shock I couldn't move... couldn't believe this was happening to me. And as I stood there, like some goddam statue, he's unbuckling my belt, forcing his hand inside my pants."
Face was unsure how much more to tell Hannibal but then decided to divulge the entire, sordid tale - no more secrets, no more hidden encounters. "I was terrified of what he wanted. I know I said, 'I can't' but he just kept tugging at my clothes, trying to force me over." Face's words became choked.
It was several moments before he could continue. "I don't
know how it happened,
Peck became silent, as if choosing his next words.
"Fortunately for me, Cowan suffered from a hair-trigger
and came before he could do any more damage." Face turned to look
The misery in his lover's voice tore at Hannibal's heart. He'd never had any idea that Face had suffered so in his life. Once in awhile, something would come out as they traded confidences in bed and it always amazed him how much his lieutenant had overcome. But an episode like this? How many other young men could carry on through that kind of hurt?
"When he finally let go of my arm, I realized there was a bit of pride left. I couldn't let him get away with this. He started rubbing his hand across my ass. I think that's what finally shook me out my trance. I gave one well-timed, expertly aimed kick backward and it was all over." There was the barest hint of a smile crossing Face's lips under the dim light. "It was a great shot, hit him right where he needed it."
But why did he say he'd
"That one time was all he ever got from me, Hannibal. I swear, that's the truth."
The older man felt his doubts fading away as he listened to the impassioned admission. He leaned over and kissed Face tenderly, a kiss of loving trust, rather than passion. "I believe you, kid," he whispered in the dark, moving his lips to brush the thick eyelashes, damp with despair. "I always do."
But Face's misery was growing. "How could I let him... let him... let myself be used like that? Why didn't I see what he was planning? It seems so clear now."
Face gave a sardonic grin. "I found out later that
there had been others. If I'd have known what a bluff he was I could have blown
his cover and he would've been put through the wringer. I just had to threaten
to rat on him, on what he wanted me to do, and he would've backed down, left me
alone." Face sat a bit straighter, his eyes narrowed. "You know, I
found out later that he'd had two reprimands for behavior unbecoming an
officer. One of them was for getting caught in a club in
"But you didn't know, Tem. You were just young and
scared. I mean, a sentence in
"I suppose," Peck muttered, his gaze dropping to
Smith sensed the break in his lieutenant's defenses. "So, what did Cowan mean that he'd never been promoted, 'thanks to you'?"
Peck became thoughtful again, his jaw stubbornly set. He
remained silent for a spell before starting again. "I took off out of his
office. I was so angry and mortified I thought I was losing my mind. I didn't
know what to do, and my arm was killing me. I ended up in the base hospital,
told them some bullshit about falling out of a jeep at the airstrip. I don't
know if the doc bought the story but he popped my arm back in, gave me a sling,
painkillers, and the paperwork to explain what had happened. As I sat there
contemplating which story would look best on paper, I saw another lieutenant I'd
met on the flight back from
Peck settled himself, taking a deep breath. "Well, I decided right then and there that no way was I going back to work in that office so, I, ah, set about organizing my own transfer."
"Yeah, right to you," Face laughed. "I sneaked into the adjutant's office that night and filled a request for an emergency personnel transfer. Your name was on the sheet and I remembered seeing you a couple of times in Nha Trang so I embellished my resume a bit, prayed that you were still in Da Nang and immediately transferred myself - with Cowan's signature, which was a bit tricky since it was pretty hard to write with my arm the way it was."
Smith chuckled at the proud tone, so like Tem but... "What about the scuzz ball? What did you do to him?"
Face feigned an affront. "What do you mean 'what did I do to him'?"
Face couldn't quite control the small grin of pride. "Yeah,
well, I suppose not. I was kind of under a time restraint so I did what I
could. While I waited for the transport up to
Peck had to smile at Hannibal's amusement. Regardless of what went on in their lives, Face was grateful that Smith was always there to talk to.
When the colonel managed to bring his mirth under control,
he wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. "So," he smiled,
brushing away the last tears of hilarity, "what made you choose me?"
Face's shoulders lifted slightly. "I don't know,"
he said, looking blankly out toward the gently purring ocean. "I've often
asked myself that same question. I used to think it was because your voice
reminded me of one of my friend's dads. He was a great guy, always there to
play basketball or take us to a baseball game. He treated us all as his sons.
"Tem," Hannibal's voice was soft and comforting. "Sometimes, I look at you and wonder if it's possible to love anyone more. I see couples on the street or at a restaurant and think 'You aren't nearly as happy as I am.' But just when I've decided things can't get any better, that no way could I feel even more blessed, you redefine the word love. Do you have any idea how much I adore you? How much I cherish having you with me? How much I value your presence in my life?"
Their lips brushed as
"Not up to necking in the car, Colonel?"
Face groaned as he quickly gathered the remnants of their hasty dinner from the dashboard. "Now what? We just ate."
Hannibal's roar of laughter came over the roar of the 'Vette's engines. "I know, but I, for one, have some dessert in mind when we get home, sweetheart, and we're all out of whip cream!"
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