I hit him hard with a right punch and he went flying across the room. Face should have known he was no match for me. In two steps, I had him by the shirt collar and was glaring into his bruised face and confused eyes. “I’m sick and tired of your insubordination,” I yelled through clenched teeth. Then, with a swift jerk, I threw him onto the bed.
“Hannibal, I’m sorry! But I don’t know what I did? Come on, you’re not yourself tonight!” Face mumbled through swollen lips and cracked ribs.
From the look in his eyes, he was dazed and scared at what I was doing, and he had every right to be; the leer in my eyes would have frightened me. I was able to pin his hands over his head while I straddled his hips. Then, I kissed him hard. He struggled and in the haze, I could hear the muffled words, “Hannibal, why are you doing this? Stop, Damnit!” I was furious that he was trying to talk while I was kissing him and impulsively slapped him hard across the cheek.
“Shut up! You know you want this Face! You’ve wanted it since Nam. I’m only meeting your lustful needs.”
“No, Hannibal! That’s not true! I don’t want this, listen to me!” Face pleaded.
His voice held a strange tone, one that I had never recalled hearing from him before, but I ignored it. It took longer than I wanted to rid him of his pants; he put up a good struggle. Knowing he was naked from the waist down was exciting me and giving me more strength to continue.
“Get off of me!” he shouted. “What’s wrong with you, Hannibal?! STOP!” But my weight, coupled with the beating he’d just received, were too much for him and he was denied the energy needed to break free. He tried to move, appearing tense and angry while I glared down at him. I didn’t want to look into those eyes anymore than necessary lest I should become soft and let him get away with this latest bout of insubordination.
Still pinned underneath of me, I ordered, “Don’t move, Lieutenant!” Under the circumstances, I didn’t think he’d obey, but all I needed was a second to unfasten my pants and then I could focus my attention back on him. As expected, the minute I released my grip, he was swiftly moving away. I caught him by the arm and he swung with his fist. I deflected it and twisted his wrist behind his back and wrapped my other arm around his neck and held him against me, breathing heavily on his neck and wanting him to feel the power I wielded over him. I whispered into his ear, “Now, now, Face. We’re not done here. When we’re finished, you can leave, but not before.” Just to show him who was in control, I tightened my grip around his neck and didn’t loosen it until I heard him straining to breath.
Dizzy from the lack of oxygen, he stumbled when I pushed him over to the bed and I fell on top of him. I wanted him naked but had to settle for what I got and so my jeans were easily removed by one of my hands while the other held tightly onto the arm twisted behind his back. He was in pain but, more importantly, he was most definitely not moving. Within a short period of time, I could feel his naked buttocks against my hardened cock. I could almost feel his tightening muscles as the reality of the situation began to creep into his mind.
“Please Hannibal, don’t do this!” Strange, his voice didn’t sound like him. It came from someone very weak and subordinate to me. I smiled. I was going to take him.
“You had better relax Face. Else what you’ve been waiting for won’t feel as good.”
“Please Hannibal! No! I don’t understand! What did I do? Why are you acting this way? Why are you going to do this?!”
His voice was trembling and getting weaker. A moment of compassion swept over me and I reached for the tube of lubricant and squeezed some out directly onto the cleft of his beautifully shaped ass. It was hard for me to control myself as all I wanted to do was plunge deep inside him, and I was beginning to lose control. His futile struggling was turning me on. Using my fingers I rubbed the lubricant down between his buttocks and not so gently found his entrance. When I pushed my fingers inside, he gasped and I could hear the quiet resignation that he could do nothing about this invasion of his person. He was so tight that I couldn’t put more than two fingers inside of him. My head was dizzy with anticipation. After years of waiting to take my Lieutenant, I was finally going to do it. I pulled my fingers out and reached under his hips and pulled his buttocks up high so I could rub my hardened cock against him. Finding the lubricated entrance into his body, I shoved my sex forcefully into him. The pleasure I was feeling drowned out the cry of pain that came from my victim. I pushed into him far; I had never felt an ass as tight or as hot as his. He was everything I’d imagined all these years. I released his arm but it didn’t move; I must’ve dislocated it. Holding onto his hips, I started pumping and ignored the cries and pleas that were coming from such a far away distance. When I looked down I could see the blood on my rock hard shaft as it was rapidly piercing his body. I couldn’t hold on any longer and so my release came as an explosion and I heard the subsequent scream of pain and anguish fill the air. When my mind stopped reeling, I pulled myself out of him, noticing the blood that ran down his inner thigh, and flopped down on the bed beside him, exhausted but satisfied.
Face didn’t move much. He eased his hips down very slowly until he was lying on his stomach; his eyes were shut but moisture was all around them. His breathing was ragged and labored. I really didn’t care; he got what he deserved after all these years.
Interrupting the moment, a loud noise heralded from the doorway. Standing just on the other side were Murdock and BA. Their look was evil.
“I get him next!” Murdock declared.
“No you don’t! He’s mine!” BA growled.
This confused me. Who let them into my apartment? Why were they interested in fucking Face? He was mine and I wasn’t going to let Murdock or BA have him…at least not yet. The confrontation began and I wrestled valiantly but in my current state, I was no match for BA’s strength and could only watch while Murdock began caressing Face’s bruised and battered body….
Hannibal’s eyes few open and he shot straight up from his pillow, sweating, panting and generally disoriented. He quickly glanced to the other side of his bed: empty. He ran his hands over the sheets to make sure nobody was there and then wiped his face with his hands before throwing the covers off. Stumbling into the bathroom, he splashed cold water onto his face and looked at his barely visible reflection in the darkened room. It had been years since he had a nightmare like that and he hated it fiercely. It scared him. He didn’t know what it meant and it took days for him to recover from one. He knew it was going to be a long night.
Trying to brush it from his mind, he noticed his medicine sitting on the sink and remembered he had forgotten to take one before he went to bed. He wondered if being sick had caused this dreadful dream to resurface. Quietly, he opened the bottle and dropped a small white pill into his hand, filled a glass with water and took his medication.
“Maybe something’s happened to Face?” he said out loud, hoping the sound of his voice would ease his worry. Returning to the bedroom, he picked the phone up and dialed. After nearly 10 rings, a sleepy voice answered, “Hello?”
Hannibal wasn’t sure what to say and so he said nothing; he just quietly hung the phone up and sat on the edge of the bed, his mind at peace that his lieutenant was safe and sleeping in his own apartment across town. Sighing, he wondered, ‘What could have triggered that nightmare again? And why was Face the recipient of his most violent and vicious acts?’
He searched for answers but only found himself having more questions. Instinctively, his brain began to search for a reason by analyzing the events of his last week and any interaction he had had with Face, but nothing was unusual mostly because Hannibal had been sick and had only kept a few of his more important appointments and canceled the rest. The odd thing about the nightmare was he could never remember the first part of it, the part that seemed to precipitate his anger towards Face; just something about him not doing something Hannibal wanted him to do. And there wasn’t anything that Face had ever done or could do that would make him so angry that he would beat him badly and then force himself on him. Hannibal wiped his face again at the awful memory. He did love Face and he wanted more than anything to show him those feelings, but he would never do anything to hurt him or jeopardize their friendship and that’s why this nightmare was particularly disturbing.
The thought of anyone raping his lieutenant most likely would have brought fatal retribution, if not from him than most assuredly from BA or Murdock. He remembered the countless times that they had come to their friend’s rescue from unwanted sexual advances from other men. There were more than a few near rapes by these unscrupulous people. But through all the near escapes, Face was never daunted in his living-on-the-edge lifestyle, the same lifestyle that put him into the arms of many a beautiful woman in LA.
Hannibal relaxed a little thinking about his friend and the countless number of women that he had probably fucked. Then his thoughts turned to a different angle, ‘I wonder if Face has ever been with another guy?‘ He didn’t put it past Face to try anything once but something told him that his friend was a virgin with men and, as much as he would have loved to, that is why Hannibal had never tried to get him in his bed. He respected his lieutenant and didn’t want to endanger their friendship, the team or Face’s respect by suggesting something that he knew Face wouldn’t want.
But, the underlying factor in that horrible nightmare seemed to be his desire to exert power over someone, namely Face. Through the beating, the words, the forced sex, he seemed to be dominating his young lieutenant and demonstrating the control and power he had. But why did he feel it necessary to prove something like that to a person who never questioned his authority and would most likely be willing to die for him? He didn’t know the answer; he had never known the answer to that question for as long as he’d had that nightmare.
He couldn’t sleep the rest of the night and when the morning sun finally crept over the horizon, he picked the phone up and dialed.
“Hello?” an out of breath voice said.
“Mark?” Hannibal asked.
“Yeah. Is this Johnny?
“Yeah. You doing your morning workout as always?”
“Trying to. What’s up?”
“I was wondering what you’re doing tonight? I’m in need of some ‘attention’ and was hoping you might be able to come over.”
“Sure thing Johnny. Be there around 7:00. You will feed me dinner this time, won’t you?” the smile was evident over the phone line.
“Of course. Just don’t be late. Bye.” Hannibal replaced the receiver and sighed. He was in the mood for some uninhibited sex and Mark was good for that. He could be as aggressive or as passive as Hannibal wanted and that’s what made him such a good partner. After that nightmare where he seemed to get pleasure from overpowering his victim, Hannibal needed someone who didn’t talk too much and could give as good as he got.
He took in a long breath and slowly exhaled as his mind thought about BA, Murdock and Face. The Team. The A-Team. His Team. He wondered if BA or Murdock had had same-sex relationships, and then wondered what they would think if they knew about his. Concluding that he never really wanted to know the answer to that question, he eventually laid his head back and drifted off to sleep.
Templeton Peck was feeling good. It was a Saturday night and he was in his Corvette on his way to meet Cyndi for their third date. Third dates always meant sex for him and the prospect of taking his latest blond haired, blue-eyed beauty out on the town was invigorating. He was particularly pleased with himself because he would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by dropping a file off at Hannibal’s apartment before meeting up with her; that meant he didn’t have to drive across town tomorrow to do it when he hopefully would be spending the day with Cyndi.
He knocked quickly on the door and waited for Hannibal to answer. He heard a flurry of noise and then the door opened slowly. Hannibal stood in the door blocking the way, looking anxious and surprised. Face’s mind was on other things so he pushed past Hannibal waiving the folder and saying, “I brought that file over that you wanted on our client, Branson. Thought I’d kill two….” his voice ended abruptly when he realized there was another person in the apartment; Hannibal had strict rules about discussing business in front of outsiders.
Not missing a beat, Face held his hand out and introduced himself, after all, any friend of Hannibal’s was a friend of his, “Hi, I’m Templeton Peck.”
Mark offered his hand and said, “Mark Stephens, nice to meet you.” The once over look Mark gave Face was not missed by Hannibal but went unnoticed by Face because, after all, he only intended on dropping off the file and he was going to be on his way again.
“Sorry Hannibal, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Face said apologetically.
Hannibal nodded an okay and figured that Face must be thinking Mark is an associate from the movie business. That thought only lasted a few seconds as he watched Face’s expression change from an apologetic smile to an uncomfortable grin. But, ever the con man, he recovered quickly and Mark never saw the fleeting expression that Hannibal saw.
“Well, I’ll just leave this on the table and be on my way,” Face tossed the folder on the table and headed toward the door. He half turned and waived to Mark, “It was nice meeting you Mark.” And to Hannibal, “I’ll see you soon.” And then the door shut and he was gone.
Mark obviously had something on his mind as evident by his grin and Hannibal knew what it was. “Don’t even think about it. He’s strictly a ladies’ man and, if by some stroke of luck he leaned this way, he’d be much more than you could dream of handling.”
“He is one nice looking fellow. I’d like to get my hands around that tight ass. You’re a fool to let him slip by. I get the feeling that he doesn’t know about your ‘extra-curricular’ activities?”
“Nah. He doesn’t know and I want to keep it that way,” is what Hannibal said. But what Hannibal thought was, ‘He knows now.’ He knew he hadn’t hid anything from him. Face was one of the most intelligent, observant, and intuitive men he’d ever known and he was certain Face figured out what that evening was about. Now the question became, what would Face think about it?
Face walked quickly to his car; once inside, he sat and stared blindly out the windshield remembering what he had seen: the wine glasses, the dinner table, the suit jacket flung over the chair. He remembered the music playing on the stereo. All signs pointed to that being anything but a business meeting, but he didn’t allow himself to take it to the next step and call it what it was. He glanced at his watch and remembered Cyndi. “Damn! I’m going to be late.” He turned the key and sped off to meet her.
“Templeton? Templeton?” Cyndi asked.
“Huh? Oh I’m sorry, what did you say?” Face said bringing his attention around to meet her gaze.
“Where have you been tonight? You’ve been anywhere but here with me?”
“Something just happened before I met you and I can’t stop thinking about it,” Face said while taking her hand in his.
“Are you all right? Is it something you want to talk about?” she queried.
“No. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to call it an evening.”
Cyndi was noticeably disappointed but agreed to ending the date under the provision that he calls her in a couple of days. She kissed him passionately and for a moment he questioned his decision to be alone. But then she was gone and he had no choice but to make his way back to his place.
The drive home was no better than the evening; he kept replaying the scene in his head and wondering if he was missing something. For as long as he’s known Hannibal, never did it occur to him that he might have a relationship with another guy.
The picture of Hannibal’s apartment went with him from the car, up to his apartment, into the shower and then into bed. He tried to get comfortable but couldn’t, and he ended up making a drink and sitting on the balcony of his latest scammed penthouse suite.
After what seemed like hours, he finally concluded that if Hannibal wanted a same-sex relationship, then so be it. Why should he care what Hannibal wanted or for that matter who Hannibal wanted. If he wanted to be with men, then that was okay with him. Satisfied with his new found conclusion, Face took the last swallow of his drink and went to bed.
Unfortunately, he still didn’t sleep too well and by morning he was good and confused. Not about Hannibal, he resolved that problem the previous night, but about himself. Why was the thought of Hannibal’s lifestyle bothering him? The feeling that he was having was foreign to him and he couldn’t understand why he just wasn’t feeling right about it.
Face tried to put it out of his mind and called Cyndi. They met for lunch but again he wasn’t much company and explained it away by saying he had to go out of town for awhile and that was distracting him. Being an extremely professed liar, he pulled it off without a hitch and told her he’d call in a couple of weeks when he returned home.
For the next couple of days, Face tried to go about his daily life as normally as possible. Always on the lookout for Decker, always on the lookout for something, or someone, to scam; but never quite clearing his mind of the events of the past weekend. He decided he wanted to talk to someone.
Murdock was sitting under a tree talking to his pet dog Billy when Face finally located him. “Hey Murdock?” Face called out.
A big smile came to him as he turned around and said, “Hey Faceman! It’s good to see you.” And he genuinely meant it. He loved it when Face would come and visit. He stood up and greeted Face with a hug, which Face promptly pushed away but that never deterred Murdock from doing it. “What brings you around these sane walls of wisdom? You here to break me out?”
“No, no, Murdock. Just came by to visit. Nothing’s up though. So… how’ve you been?”
Murdock knew Face long enough to know when something was bothering him but also knew him well enough to know that Face wouldn’t open up and share his feelings until he was ready. “Good. Real good. Same old therapy, same old treatment.” They meandered around the grounds and Face admired some of the nurses walking with the patients.
“Is that little red-headed nurse still working your section of the hospital?” Face asked.
“Yep. You want to go see her? She’s here today.”
“Nah. I’d rather just walk around here with you.”
Murdock loved the attention he was getting from Face and then remembered something, “Oh, I almost forgot. Hannibal called yesterday asking me if I’d seen you. I guess he’s been trying to reach you. He said he might have a very lucrative job lined up for us if the information in the file you gave him on Branson was accurate.”
“Ah, well, I’ve been out a lot lately,” his voice sounding a little defensive. In reality, Face wasn’t answering his phone. “And what do you mean ‘if the information in the file was accurate’? Of course it was accurate.” His voice was teasingly hurtful. “Did Hannibal say anything else?”
“Nope, just wanted to know if I’d seen you.” So that was it, Murdock thought. Something was up with Hannibal. Maybe Decker was close or Face got into a jam running one of his scams. Probably the latter, Murdock concluded with a smile.
They walked a few more minutes in silence and Murdock finally said, “Actually, I didn’t figure on seeing you until next week when you got me out of here.” To his surprise, Face didn’t appear to be listening but was deep in thought and would have kept walking had it not been for Murdock’s hand gently touching his arm.
“Huh? What is it?” Face asked.
“Oh nothing. Thought we might sit awhile and enjoy the view,” Murdock said while referring to a group of nurses eating lunch at a picnic table not too far away.
Face smiled and they sat down. If there was one thing Face enjoyed, it was watching pretty ladies. “Murdock?” Face asked hesitantly.
“Have you ever… well, what I mean to say is have you been…” his voice stopped and he fidgeted with his hands.
Murdock was stunned. He’d never seen Face nervous about asking him a question, or for that matter, nervous about anything. “Have I ever what?” he encouraged.
After several minutes of more nervous fidgeting, Face replied, “Oh, nothing. I don’t know where my mind is here recently. I haven’t slept very well lately; just forget about it, okay?”
‘Damn,’ thought Murdock, so close yet not close enough. “Sure Face. Anything you want.”
After Face left, Murdock returned to his room and relished in the memories he had of spending the afternoon with one of his favorite people. But something was bothering Face and he knew it had to do with their Colonel. After careful consideration, Murdock called Hannibal.
“Hey Colonel, this is Murdock.”
“What’s up Murdock,” Hannibal asked seriously.
“Well, I just got a visit from Face and I could tell that something was bothering him but he never said anything and I never asked but I thought you might want to know since you called asking about him yesterday.”
“Thanks Murdock. I’ll take care of it.”
Before Murdock could respond, the line went dead. He slowly hung up and wondered what was going on. It was a rare occasion when Face was disconcerted about something, and an even rarer occasion when it involved Hannibal. Hopefully, he thought, Hannibal will be able to fix things.
Face was no further along at figuring out his emotions than before he visited Murdock. He wanted to ask Murdock if he’d ever been with another guy, but the words just didn’t want to come out of his mouth. He wanted to tell Murdock what he saw in Hannibal’s apartment, but those words weren’t there either. He wanted Murdock to help him put a handle around his feelings and explain what exactly was eating at him. But none of that happened and aside from enjoying the afternoon with the crazy pilot, he had learned nothing and had left empty hearted.
“Okay, Templeton Peck, what the hell is wrong with you?” he asked out loud and to no one but himself.
He drove for an hour before he went home to his empty penthouse suite. He changed into a pair of jeans and a button down white shirt, ate a light dinner and then sipped on a shot of straight bourbon. His thoughts drifted to Hannibal and Mark. He pictured them together, kissing. At first he shook his head clearing the vision because he simply couldn’t allow his mind to have those thoughts. But he kept going back to the two of them together, kissing each other, touching each other and eventually having sex with each other.
Face jerked in his chair and leapt up knocking the empty bourbon glass on the carpet. He didn’t bother picking it up because he was in partial shock at his own body. The thoughts of Hannibal and Mark had gotten him aroused and he found himself unconsciously rubbing his cock. His mind was reeling because these were thoughts he shouldn’t be having; his upbringing made sure of that. Even in his wildest dreams, he never allowed himself such garish ideas lest they produce some lightning bolt that would strike him down. He paced around the room trying to forget what he had just done as well as trying to squelch the fire that was burning deep inside his groin.
Some time later, Face sat back down and picked up his empty glass. With quiet resolve, he realized that he had defined the feeling he was having: jealousy. He never really experienced jealousy except maybe as a child when some other boy had the immediate attention of Monsignor Maghill, but the feeling was fleeting as he could be assured that a wink, a smile or a nod would come his way if he stared long enough.
On more than one occasion, Face had fantasized about being with Hannibal, and even Murdock, but never did he allow the thoughts to invade is physical reality. It was wrong, it was against his religion; it was against the beliefs of the only family he had ever had. But somehow it was mysterious, exciting, and invigorating.
There was one more element to Face’s feelings: the element of hurt. Why didn’t Face know about Hannibal’s tendencies? He knew him as well as anybody and was feeling particularly left out of his colonel’s life right now. Did Murdock know? BA?
And, as much as he delayed this next thought and tried to push it from his head, he finally succumbed to his deep seeded insecurities. Why didn’t Hannibal make an attempt at having him? Yes, he finally pinpointed his problem and questioned Hannibal’s desire to satisfy his needs with someone other than his lieutenant. After all these years, Face had always been the one who Hannibal had turned to, sought advice from and generally trusted his life with. But now, he was seeking comfort in the arms of someone other than him. And he didn’t like it.
Another glass of bourbon prevented him from thinking clearly, otherwise he might have tried to envision what his reaction would have been if Hannibal extended an invitation to join him. The thought of being with him was both scary and exciting. Scary because he’d never been with a guy before, and exciting because the experience would be with someone he truly cares about.
With this newly made discovery, Face felt the loss of sleep these past few days catch up to him and even though the evening was young, he was too tired to do anything more than drift off into a relaxing sleep.
Hannibal hung the phone up and sank back in the chair. Murdock’s voice betrayed his concern and his hope in Hannibal to fix the problem. If he only knew that Hannibal was the problem, Murdock undoubtedly would not have called him. But he did, and now it was up to him to deal with the situation head on. By his calculations, they would be starting a new job in less than a week, and he didn’t want any excess baggage hanging onto any of them.
Being the expert strategist, he should have been able to come up with a plan, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t even sure what he was trying to plan for. ‘Should I come up with a plan that will bed Face?‘ he thought ruefully. ‘How about a plan that would confuse him, make him believe that he came to the wrong conclusion about the scene he saw the other night with Mark?’ Hannibal thought long and hard about his situation; a situation he had managed to avoid for close to ten years. ‘How about telling him the truth?’ came a voice from far inside his head.
Pushing that thought aside, he decided to drive over to Face’s new apartment. He couldn’t get a hold of him on the phone so why not. If nothing came of the visit, and Face appeared normal, they could talk about their next case. Besides, he had some questions about the Branson file. It would be very difficult to determine Face’s mood though. He was a master at deception and even the Team sometimes had difficulty telling when Face was scamming them or just being himself.
Hannibal was not looking forward to it. After one of those dreams, he tried to avoid Face as much as possible for two reasons: first, because he often felt that Face could see right through him and see that dream in all its gory detail, and second, because he never wanted to see any of his men being treated the way he had treated Face. And it disturbed him that he was capable of such atrocities against someone he cared deeply for, even if it was only a dream.
He checked the time; it was still early evening. There was no way of knowing Face’s schedule so there was no way of knowing if he would even be home. A brief moment of relief hit him at the thought that Face wouldn’t be there but that would only delay the inevitable and eventually he would have to confront him with the situation. He grabbed his jean jacket and keys and left.
The drive went by too quickly and he was standing at the door to his friend’s suite much sooner than he had anticipated. This seemed to irritate him more than anything else.
“Well, time to become Colonel John Smith,” he said softly and rang the door chimes.
Somehow the ringing chimes incorporated themselves into his dream but like all dreams he couldn’t get to them and they kept ringing. Finally, Face opened his eyes and realized someone was at his door. He jumped up and hurriedly walked across the room. Out of precaution, he looked through the small security hole in the door and saw Hannibal standing there, a subsequently, felt his stomach flutter. The thoughts racing through his head were too numerous to count but he composed himself quickly and opened the door. “Hi, Hannibal. What brings you out here tonight?”
“I was just about ready to leave. I haven’t interrupted anything, have I?” Hannibal asked while surveying the newly acquired apartment and looking for one of the many lady friends Face had no doubt brought to his new place.
“No, no interruption at all. Come on in and have a seat,” Face said. He was proud of his calm exterior and cool appearance even though his stomach was doing flips. “I must have dozed off. Just let me go and straighten up, I’ll be right back. Help yourself to a drink.”
Hannibal poured himself a hefty shot of whiskey and drank it down and then poured another shot. Face looked terrific; the tousled hair and disheveled appearance suited him well. But it wasn’t him and Hannibal knew he would appear again looking even better. And sure enough, after brushing his teeth, washing his face, combing his hair and tucking his shirt into his jeans, he looked better than ever. Usually Hannibal was able to ignore this aspect of his friend; but it was particularly difficult not to notice him tonight, and the stiff shot of whiskey made its way to his head and he was even more protective of his demeanor. To avoid showing Face any signs of what he was thinking, Hannibal over compensated his actions and appeared annoyed and aggravated.
“Here.” Hannibal handed him a glass with a shot of whiskey in it.
With raised eyebrows, Face took it and asked, “What’s the occasion? We get that job you were working on?” Face noticed the change in Hannibal’s behavior but tried to ignore it.
Hannibal didn’t answer. He admired the place but didn’t give his usual smile of approval, something Face seemed to strive for where Hannibal was concerned. There was some tension in the air and Face did not understand Hannibal’s mood. He felt the thing to do was just to let him take his time and his mood would change eventually and he’d be himself again. After taking in the view from the huge windows, Hannibal finally sat down.
“I haven’t been able to reach you on the phone,” his tone had changed and he sounded more irritated.
“Oh…, well….I’ve been out a lot. Working on another opportunity,” Face responded nonchalantly but he was beginning to feel queasy.
“Murdock called me today,” he added flatly.
Face’s heart sank. But he recovered quickly and acknowledged that while working on one of his deals over near the VA, he decided to pay the pilot a visit. “There isn’t a problem with Murdock, is there?” Face asked out of concern.
“No, nothing with him.” It was ‘Colonel Smith’ talking now to his ‘Lieutenant’ instead of ‘Hannibal’ to ‘Face’.
Face quickly turned away and looked out the windows. He didn’t like this third degree and he wasn’t prepared to discuss anything with Hannibal. He knew what Hannibal was getting at but he had barely come to terms with his own feelings and he hadn’t had any time to accept them, let alone share them with someone else. In fact, he wasn’t sure if he could ever accept them, but he felt he needed more time to at least try.
But the Colonel was relentless. “Murdock says you were bothered by something today. He didn’t know what it was but wanted me to see if I could help you.”
Face kept quiet and continued to stare out the window.
“Lieutenant?” came the stern voice Face had grown to admire but was right now wishing it would go away.
“Murdock’s in the VA and doesn’t always know what he’s talking about,” came Face’s evasive reply. It was curt and slightly stronger than he had anticipated but showed his irritation just the same.
Hannibal was getting angry but was managing to control it. He hardly ever got mad at Face but he wanted to know if Face was bothered by what he saw in his apartment, unfortunately, he was using his emotions to guide him instead of his head. Hannibal stood up and raised his voice, “He knows exactly what he’s talking about. And you have a problem and I want to know what it is!”
Face’s eyes flared and he glared at Hannibal. ‘How dare he come into my place and demand that I share my feelings with him. For that matter, demand that I share anything with him!’ At that point, Face decided he didn’t want to have this conversation any more and that meant he shuts down and nobody, not even Hannibal, can cut through the shell.
Hannibal realized too late what Face had done.
“Oh no you don’t! You aren’t going to shut me out!” Hannibal grabbed Face’s shoulders and spun him around. They were eye to eye and the expression that Face wore was total disbelief.
“I want to know what you’re thinking, Lieutenant!” Hannibal’s rage was showing through clenched teeth and fiery eyes.”
Face stood motionless under Hannibal’s strong grip and probably couldn’t talk even if he wanted to. He was completely taken aback by his Colonel’s anger and wasn’t sure what he had done to receive this treatment. But it didn’t take long for his own anger to erupt and his icy blue eyes bore down on Hannibal. In a low but steady voice, Face angrily hissed, “Take your hands off of me!”
The right punch hit him hard and he went flying across the room. The blow came as a total surprise and he laid on the floor a moment too long. In two steps, Hannibal had him by the shirt collar and was glaring into the bruised face and disbelieving eyes. “I’m sick and tired of your insubordination,” he yelled through clenched teeth. Then, with another punch to the stomach, Face doubled over.
“Hannibal! What’s going on?! What’s come over you?!” Face demanded but he was promptly ignored. Hannibal pulled him up again and threw him onto the sofa.
Face had had enough! He wasn’t going to remain passive and get beaten for something he knew nothing about. He recovered quickly and caught Hannibal by surprise with a punch to his stomach followed quickly by a left punch to his jaw. Hannibal stumbled backwards, but was quick to recover by catching his balance on a chair and, using it as leverage, he kicked an approaching Face in the stomach. He doubled over and Hannibal brought his fists down hard on his back. Face fell to the floor in a daze. Hannibal picked him up by his shirt collar and delivered one more jaw shattering blow, which sent him across the room, again, where he lay confused and disoriented. Moaning in misery, not just from the pain, but from the knowledge of who delivered it, Face tried to move. Hannibal roughly picked him up and dragged him into the bedroom and threw him onto the bed. Face was trying hard to focus and figure out what the hell was happening but that last punch was hard enough to knock the sense out of him.
Hannibal climbed onto the bed and straddled Face pinning his hands over his head.
“What the hell are you doing Hannibal!?” Face was too stunned to struggle. The gray haze that encased his colonel’s eyes was like nothing Face had ever seen before.
“Shut up!” Hannibal ordered and then backhanded him across the check to demonstrate his anger.
When Face turned back to stare at him, Hannibal leaned down and kissed him hard. Suddenly, Hannibal stopped and looked down at Face, who was staring up at him in total disbelief. Then the glaze that had enveloped Hannibal’s eyes disappeared and they rolled up into his head and he fell unconscious on top of Face.
Face struggled out from underneath him and stood next to the bed peering down at him. He was totally shocked at what had just happened and wasn’t sure if it was real. He shook his head in an attempt to clear it but he only succeeded in resurrecting the pain. The mood swing in Hannibal was like nothing he had ever seen before and he wasn’t sure what he did to provoke his Colonel. Blinking the confusion away, he realized he had to make sure Hannibal was okay. He checked his pulse, eyes and listened for his breathing; everything seemed normal given the circumstances of the last 30 minutes. So what happened?
He searched Hannibal’s pockets for some clue. Nothing. The only thing he could think of was to call BA and see if he knew anything.
“Hey BA, it’s Face. I need to know what Hannibal’s been doing since our last job.” He tried to keep the urgency from his voice.
“What for?” came the deadpan reply that was so typical of BA.
“I just do. Has anything unusual happened to him?”
“This is stupid, man. I ain’t his keeper!” BA growled.
“Listen, just tell me what I need to know!” Face demanded.
“Okay! Okay!” BA knew when to push and when not to and Face was in no mood for being pushed. “I drove him to a business meeting, a couple of auditions and he spent one day chaperoning the kids at the center. What’s goin’ on Face? Is he okay?”
“No, he’s not. He’s passed out at my place and I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He seems okay, it’s just his behavior is….well, he’s not really himself. Is that all he did?”
“Yeah, near as I can recall. Oh yeah, one other thing, I drove him to a clinic.”
“To a clinic!” Face exclaimed. “What for?”
“He said he wasn’t feeling too good. Seemed he had an inner ear infection. The doctor gave him some medicine.”
“Do you remember what the name of the medicine was?” Face asked.
“Okay. Thanks BA. If you think of anything else, call me.”
“Hey, Face. I can be there in 25 minutes. Should I come over?”
“No. Not yet at least. I’m going to let him sleep and I’ll call you in the morning,” Face said and then hung up the phone. Feeling the pain in his ribs made him wonder if he had made the wrong decision just now but as long as Hannibal was sleeping, there was nothing anyone could do.
Looking down at him, it was hard to believe that they had actually fought, even harder to believe that Hannibal had kissed him. But it wasn’t Hannibal, he told himself. He hadn’t seen that look before and Hannibal never would have punched him. At least he didn’t think so. He was very confused. What would he do if Hannibal woke up? He sure was angry with him and Face thought again that it might not have been such a bad idea to get BA over here just in case Hannibal’s behavior wasn’t any different upon waking up.
After he removed Hannibal’s shoes and covered him up, Face pulled up a chair and sat beside the bed. For the first time he realized how much he hurt. But he was too tired and sore to move and eventually his eyes grew heavy and he fell into a light sleep.
Hannibal blinked his eyes in the darkness of the room. He sat up and looked around, concluding that he was not in his own bed, nor for that matter, in a place that was familiar. He heard a noise and looked off to his right and noticed a figure sitting in a chair. He reached up and turned on the bedside lamp; Face’s eyes shot open. Or was it Face? It looked like him but didn’t look like him. When the eyes blinked, he knew it was, but something was wrong. His face was bruised and swollen and his eyes lacked their usual sparkle; in fact, they looked almost scared. His white shirt was stained red. This wasn’t the immaculate Face that he knew.
“Face?” Hannibal said while instinctively moving towards him.
Face was quick to move out of the chair and stand behind it holding a defensive posture, ready for a fight. But who was he going to fight? Why did he jump away…. Images flooded Hannibal’s mind as he started to remember. He remembered driving over to see Face, he remembered pushing Face into a conversation Face didn’t want to have, he remembered the fight, and ‘OH GOD!’ he thought.
He looked horridly at Face who was nervously standing behind the chair. ‘What did I do? Please, God, please tell me I didn’t hurt him!’ His need to show he cared superseded any rational thoughts and so he quickly moved towards Face wanting to see for himself what harm he had done to the one person he cared so much about.
“Hannibal, stop!” Face warned.
Surprised, Hannibal stopped, one leg on the bed and one leg on the floor, searching for something that Face wasn’t giving.
“Face…” he started. “What did I do to you? Are you okay? Please tell me I didn’t touch you.” Hannibal’s voice showed pain and urgency that sounded familiar to Face from their days together in Viet Nam.
“Hannibal? Are you feeling okay?” Face asked quietly, but still not moving from behind the chair. “Are you still mad at me?”
“No. I’m feeling terrible. Please tell me I didn’t…I didn’t…force you?” Hannibal’s eyes were filled with anguish and it was Face’s turn to look startled.
“Force me?” Face repeated slowly. Taking a moment to reflect, it finally dawned on him what he meant by that and he softly replied, “No.”
Hannibal dropped his head in his hands and leaned forward onto the bed, anguish permeating from his body.
Face wanted to go to him. Slowly, he moved around the chair and over to Hannibal, placing a hand on his shoulder only to feel him trembling. Now Face was really confused. He had seen too many emotional swings from his Colonel in the last couple of hours to understand what was going on.
“Hannibal? Are you okay?” Face asked quietly.
“Are you okay?” Hannibal asked just as quietly.
“Yeah.” Face said trying to put on a smile.
Hannibal looked up into the bruised face and sighed, “What did I do to you, Face?”
“Look Hannibal, why don’t you get some rest and we’ll talk about it in the morning.”
“No! I need to know Face! What did I do?!”
After a short pause, Face asked, “Can you remember anything?”
So much was already out in the open now that all Hannibal wanted to do was get to the heart of the problem. And so he began, “I remember wanting to… no, needing to talk to you about your visit to my apartment Saturday night. And what you thought about it. Mark never would have been there if it hadn’t been for this nightmare I’d had involving you. It was a terrible dream and I hurt you pretty bad. I can’t figure out why I have this dream but every couple of years it surfaces and it unnerves me. I couldn’t very well tell you or BA or Murdock about it, so I turned to Mark. He was an acquaintance from several years back. When you showed up, I couldn’t stop you from coming in but I knew you would figure it out quickly. When you made the realization of what was going on, you hid it well but I saw it. And then, when you didn’t answer the telephone, I began to wonder just how disgusted you really were with me. After Murdock called me and said you had been to visit him and he immediately saw that you were bothered by something, I had to come and talk to you. I don’t know why I was so agitated when I arrived; but I goaded you into that fight. But I don’t remember much after the first punch. I just pray that I didn’t… that you weren’t hurt too badly.”
Face listened intently and wanted to interrupt several times to tell him how he felt but couldn’t, the whispers from the nuns and priests ever so present in his mind. Instead, he lied, “You didn’t hurt me Hannibal. A few cuts and bruises but nothing that can’t heal.”
Hannibal looked into his eyes but still didn’t see what he was searching for. There wasn’t any anger or animosity but nor was there any forgiveness. He stood up and noticed that Face tensed up. He gently put a hand on his shoulder to show he intended no harm and then walked into the bathroom.
Face breathed a sigh of relief. But it didn’t last long because when Hannibal returned from the bathroom, he didn’t even look at Face. He just quietly started putting on his shoes.
“What are you doing?” Face asked.
“I’m leaving. I can’t stay here; I’m going home.” Hannibal sounded in control and normal again.
“No you’re not! You’re not feeling well and I don’t want you to go.”
“I’m feeling fine. And I’ll be all right. I just need my medicine and some sleep and I’ll be fine.” What Hannibal couldn’t say was he didn’t trust himself to stay in case he lapsed back into a violent state.
“BA will bring your medicine over in the morning; I’ve already talked to him.”
Hannibal’s eyes rose, questioning that last statement.
“I had to call him to see if he knew what had happened to you. You did pass out on my bed, remember? I didn’t tell him anything but, knowing him, he’ll be over in the morning.”
“My mind is made up and I’m going,” Hannibal stated flatly. He glanced at Face and read the look in his eyes: was Dr. Jekyl turning back into the Mr. Hyde personality that attacked him earlier? He consciously changed his tone and said much more softly, “I’m really feeling fine; much better than you look anyway. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
Face’s beautiful eyes looked down at the floor and Hannibal felt awful. He saw for the first time just how battered he really was. And, in spite of what he did, Face had taken care of him and now he was running out and leaving him to tend to his own wounds. He had been so concerned with himself and whether or not he had raped Face, he hadn’t stopped to think that maybe Face still needed attention. Hannibal got up and walked into the bathroom and filled a basin with warm water. He brought it out and sat it on the bedside table. Face was sitting on the side of the bed and looked up questioningly.
“Face, lie back,” Hannibal softly said.
Face was torn between his feelings of anxiety and these new feelings of lust. Trusting his commander, he did what he was told and Hannibal sat down next to him. Wringing out the washcloth, he wiped down his face and cleaned the blood from his neck and hands. Face’s eyes were closed and Hannibal was enjoying the encounter and the closeness of the situation. He unbuttoned Face’s bloodied shirt and laid it back, exposing the well toned and tanned chest. He noticed Face was looking at him while he did this and he felt a twinge of embarrassment at the intimacy. Never had he been so close with Face, but neither seemed to mind. Their eyes caught and locked.
“Please don’t go,” Face whispered. His voice giving Hannibal the reassurance he had been looking for earlier.
Hannibal just stared down at him, admiring his good-looking friend.
Then Face slowly put his hand behind Hannibal’s neck and ever so gently drew his lips nearer to his own and they kissed. Not a kiss like Hannibal had ever experienced before; but one that was full of emotion and yearning and love, and he never wanted it to end. When it finally did end, Hannibal withdrew and again stared down at Face. Never had he ever believed that his lieutenant would be interested in him, and he felt his stomach turning flips at the prospect of the two of them together. But then the black cloud descended and the sparkle in his eyes turned to sadness.
Face observed the change and showed his confusion.
“Face, I can’t trust myself with you,” Hannibal tried to explain. “For some reason, I’m not my usual self and I’m afraid that if I stay and drop back into that nightmare, I’m gonna hurt you really bad. And I just couldn’t live knowing that I’ve done that to you.”
Face never showed his insecurities but he was pleading with his eyes for him to stay.
“I’ll stay for awhile,” Hannibal gave in. Still unsure about this new relationship and not wanting to push Face into anything, Hannibal turned off the light and slid into the chair.
Face woke up and glanced at the clock: 5:10am. Then he remembered Hannibal and sat up looking for him.
He threw the blankets off and walked into the living room. “Damnit Hannibal! Why’d you leave?” He said out loud but to no one.
“I didn’t leave,” came the soft reply from the sofa.
Face turned around quickly, trying to hard to focus on the figure. “Why’d you come out here?” he asked feeling hurt.
“I told you last night. I can’t trust myself around you, kid,” Hannibal said motioning to the sheets and the bed in the bedroom and the inevitable sex that would have ensued.
Face walked over and sat beside him on the sofa. Sometime during the night, his shirt had come off. He ran his hands through his hair and Hannibal was admiring the bronze chest and arms that were just a few feet away from him. He could have taken Face just then but was afraid any aggressive behavior might be misunderstood and so he kept still and allowed Face to piece his feelings together.
“Hannibal?” Face mustered his courage and asked.
“Do you like me in the same way that you like your friend? Mark? I mean….could you like me that way?” his eyes met Hannibal’s but were quickly diverted with uneasiness.
Hannibal’s heart fluttered as did his stomach. ‘Does Face want a same-sex relationship with me? I’ve only dreamed of this since Nam and now he’s asking ME!‘ Hannibal swallowed hard and said, “I’ve never thought you would be interested, being raised the way you were and all. You never showed tendencies to lean that way, always seem to prefer the ladies.”
Face smiled at the last statement and then his expression became somber. Raising his hand, palm up he explained, “There’s this voice over here that’s coming from one of the nuns, or the priest and it’s saying this is wrong and evil and I’ll go to Hell for it.” And raising his other hand, he said, “And then there’s this voice over here that’s saying go for it, he makes you feel so good and maybe this is what’s missing from your life.”
“I’ve never even let myself think about it until I saw you and that other guy. I couldn’t put a handle around how I felt and that’s why I didn’t answer the phone when you called, and I went to see Murdock. I just couldn’t allow myself to think along those lines and that’s why I couldn’t talk to you last night when you wanted to know what was bothering me. I didn’t mean to make you angry; it’s just I couldn’t talk about something I wasn’t sure about myself. And I’m not sure if I can go through with it or even accept it but I could try, Hannibal, if you would be willing to show me. It’s not like I’m interested in any man, only you.”
Hannibal could see his friend’s eyes darting nervously about and, as always, begging for acceptance. His heart yearned for him and he said, “Face, you didn’t make me angry. Like I said, I don’t know why I behaved that way. In fact, I really don’t remember much of the evening….” Suddenly, Hannibal was overcome with protective feelings and leaned forward and embraced his young friend. Face was trembling and returned the embrace with a strong grip. Hannibal let him hold on; after all, it’s not everyday he shares his feelings about love. Hell, it’s not everyday that Face even talks about his childhood at the orphanage. Hannibal knew it was hard for him.
“I’ll show you anything you want to know. And if at any time you feel this isn’t for you, we’ll stop. Deal?” Hannibal whispered.
Face chortled silently and pulled away, embarrassed at his inexperience and naiveté on the topic. “Deal.”
Hannibal leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips, feeling a sexual rush in his body that he’d not ever felt before. Slowly but firmly, he pulled Face into a more intimate embrace. Immediately, Hannibal knew Face wasn’t ready for this and released his grip.
“What’s wrong?” Face asked.
“How’s your jaw feel? And your ribs?” Hannibal asked hoping the tension that had enveloped him was due to the discomfort of his body and not from the sexual attention, although he felt it was probably a combination of both.
“I’m a little sore,” and after a short pause, he added, “actually, I’m a lot sore. You’re gonna have to stop working out with BA,” Face smiled and sat up, rubbing his jaw and relieved that the atmosphere had returned to lighter conversation.
Hannibal got up and walked into the kitchen. A few minutes later, he returned with ice packs and towels. “Here, lie down,” he commanded.
“You’ve been saying that a lot to me lately,” Face pointed out while lying on the sofa.
Hannibal placed the ice packs on his ribs and some against his face. “Just stay like that for a few minutes. It won’t do anything for the bruising, but it will make you feel better.”
“Are you going to stay?” Face asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” Hannibal smiled and sat down in the chair looking at his friend relax and mesmerized by the thoughts of being with the one person he only every dreamed of being with. But unfortunately, to Hannibal, all was not blue sky and sunny days. Even though one problem had been solved, there was still another one lurking on the horizon: what to do about his behavior. He had been rough with Face, but Face stayed with him and aside from being slightly more guarded than normal, Face didn’t want him to leave. Why was that?
Hannibal wondered if he would have stuck around with a man who had just beaten him, and decided probably not. But Face had insecurities to deal with and they didn’t always allow him to use his head. Hannibal knew it was important for him to strive for and receive approval, something no one had ever given him. But was Hannibal taking advantage of an insecure friend, making him believe that he could love, and have sex with, an old fool like himself? Well, as long as the sex wasn’t forced, Face was a big boy and could handle himself. And Hannibal meant it when he said he would stop at any time. This way of life wasn’t for everybody and someone with Face’s background was walking the fence.
Face and Hannibal jumped out of slumber at the same time when the door chimes rang. Face held his ribs and blinked into focus the clock: 9:30. “Probably BA,” he stated.
As he opened the door, BA growled, “Hey man, what took ya so long? Thought I had the wrong apartment.” He pushed through the door but stopped when he got a better look at Face in the light. “What happened to you? I thought Hann’bal was the one with the problem?”
“He is, or was,” Face moaned. It was taking him a little time to work out the stiffness. “Why don’t you come in,” he added sarcastically as BA had already walked into the living room.
“What’s going on man?” BA grumbled to Hannibal while tossing him his bottle of medicine. “Face calls me saying you passed out and I show up and he’s all bruised and cut. You two been havin’ problems with someone? Face, don’t be gettin’ in no fights ‘less I’m here, we need your face to get us stuff.”
Face smiled during this lecture thinking it was the most he’d heard BA speak in a long time. But BA was protective and nobody that he cared about was going to get beaten up without having to answer to him. Face decided it would be prudent to steer away from this subject. “Hannibal did pass out but, as you can see, he’s fine now.”
“Thanks, BA,” Hannibal said while taking a pill out and swallowing it, a skill he had learned in the Army.
“Listen, if nobody minds, I’m going to take a shower. BA, why don’t you stay for breakfast? I’ll be out in a minute and will put something together.” Not waiting for an answer, Face disappeared into the bedroom.
“So Hann’bal, what happened to you?” BA asked. “And what happened to Face?”
“I’m all right, I guess. I’m not up to par but by this weekend I should be fine. We can start work on the Branson case then. This one’s gonna pay, and pay well,” Hannibal said smiling and avoiding the latter question.
BA returned the smile with an appreciative nod and they talked about the case until Face emerged from the bedroom wearing a white pair of jeans and a dark blue button down shirt. BA nodded approvingly at his appearance, knowing that Face’s good looks were usually his ticket to meals, hotels, and in rare cases, donations to the children’s center. But he still wanted to know who beat him up and was ready to ask the question again when he noticed a peculiar look on Hannibal’s face.
Hannibal watched Face walk across the room and gave him the once over but instead of filling with pride, he smirked and looked away. BA noticed but Face didn’t.
Hannibal’s demeanor got increasingly agitated as Face prepared breakfast; BA tried to ignore it, Face was oblivious to it. Finally, Face called them to the table and served a normal breakfast of sausage, eggs, toast, fresh fruit and coffee.
“Looks good,” BA stated and helped himself to a little of everything.
“Thanks,” Face said while sitting down to his traditional breakfast of toast, fruit and coffee.
Hannibal was quiet and looked disturbed. Finally, he asked Face, “Why don’t you eat something more than that? You really could stand to put on some weight.”
BA and Face exchanged a glance at this somewhat odd statement. Then Face replied, “I always eat this. You know that I’m not that hungry in the morning.”
“Well, you need to eat more. Eat some eggs,” Hannibal said while pushing the dish of eggs in front of him.
Face was silent but he glared at Hannibal. Again, there was a transformation from ‘Hannibal, the friend’ to ‘Colonel, the commander’ and he could see the hazy glaze of last night in his eyes again.
BA sat quietly observing, wondering why Hannibal was trying to provoke Face.
“I said I’m not hungry in the morning. I’ll eat more later in the day.”
“And I said you’ll more now! We have a case coming up and you need to be in better shape, Lieutenant!” Hannibal said stressing the word ‘Lieutenant’.
‘Whoa,’ BA thought. ‘Something’s really wrong here.’ BA watched in silence to see what Face would do.
Face did what he always did: he retreated inside himself. He didn’t reply, ignored the plate and stared at his coffee cup wondering what happened to the Hannibal of six o’clock this morning, and wishing this new Hannibal would back off. But that wasn’t to be. Hannibal knocked the dish onto the floor and was across the table instantly. He lifted Face up by his collar and hit him across the jaw with a right punch that sent him flying across the room.
“Hannibal! Back off!” BA yelled, not believing his eyes that he just witnessed Hannibal hit Face.
But Hannibal was on top of Face and pulling him to his feet. Through clenched teeth, he yelled, “I’m sick and tired of your insubordination!” and was ready to administer another hard blow when BA grabbed his arm and pulled him off Face.
“What the hell’s wrong with you, Colonel?” BA yelled. “You ain’t hittin’ him no more!”
“Sergeant, this isn’t any of your concern. Get out of my way!” Hannibal ordered. He pushed BA back and went for a dazed Face again, delivering a hard punch to his stomach and was getting ready to come down hard on his back when he was blind sided by BA who tackled him and they both went tumbling across the room. BA quickly moved into a position to restrain Hannibal, when he realized Hannibal wasn’t fighting back. In fact, Hannibal wasn’t moving at all; he was unconscious.
“Hey Colonel! Wake up man! What’s wrong with you?!” BA said while slapping his face. But there was no response.
Face stumbled over to his friends, blood trickling down the corner of his mouth, and holding his ribs. He croaked, “What happened?”
“I don’t know, he just passed out. Got a real funny look in his eyes and then they rolled back into his head and he was out. Ain’t never seen nothin’ like it. Have you?” BA asked.
“Yeah, last night. Let’s move him into the bedroom.”
After he was in the bed and covered, they returned to the living room.
“Man, I ain’t never thought I’d see the day when he’d hit you, Face,” BA added solemnly. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Face absently replied, thinking about what could be wrong with Hannibal.
“So, he’s the one who messed you up. He did it last night, huh?” BA surmised.
Face nodded but was preoccupied thinking about Hannibal and what might have triggered it. He didn’t notice BA walk into the kitchen and bring back a bag of ice until he heard, “Here. Put this on your jaw, it’ll keep the swelling down.”
“Thanks, BA,” Face said while leaning back on the sofa. “And thanks for helping me with Hannibal. I’m not much of a fighter when it comes to him.”
BA understood. Hannibal and Face had a strong relationship that bordered on father/son. For Face to hit Hannibal, well, he just couldn’t picture it. And for Hannibal to hit Face, that was even more difficult to believe. BA thought if he hadn’t seen it he would have never believed it. But he did see Hannibal hit Face, and with a vengeance. “What’d Hannibal mean when he said, ‘I’m sick and tired of your insubordination!’? You didn’t do anything to deserve that.”
“I don’t know. He said it last night too. He’d mentioned something about a dream he had that scared him. A dream where he hurt me, but I can’t figure it out.” Then, a thought came to him. “Hey BA? Where’s that medicine you brought over to him?”
BA took the bottle of medicine that had been set on the table over to Face.
Face read the label: Amyxtheracillox. He gingerly got up and walked over to the phone and dialed.
“Dr. Maggie Sullivan, please,” Face said to the person who answered.
BA leaned back and listened.
“Hey, Maggie, this is Templeton Peck. I have a question for you about a drug that was prescribed for an inner ear infection. It’s called Amyxtheracillox. What can you tell me about it?”
BA listened to a long pause followed by several words that were meant more to encourage the speaker to continue talking than anything else. Eventually, Face thanked Maggie and hung up.
“It seems we might have found our culprit. This medication isn’t used too frequently because of its side effects. Seems it has the ability to exaggerate behavior, a passive person might become lethargic and an aggressive person might become hostile or violent. A build up of this type of drug in the system could cause such erratic behavior that some people have had to be hospitalized. It’s an unwritten code in the medical profession to NOT prescribe this drug to war veterans.” Face explained this to BA while walking into the bathroom and flushing the remaining pills.
“I still can’t believe Hann’bal took his anger out on you, of all people. He feels differently ’bout you than he does me or that crazy foo’ Murdock. He’s not goin’ to take it too good when he sees your face and knows he’s responsible.”
Face didn’t comment. His ribs ached, his jaw hurt and his eye was swelling and he really just wanted to lie down and try to forget everything. Even if Hannibal was wrong, Face hated it if he disappointed him or even made him slightly angry. BA must have been reading his mind because he added, “Hannibal never would of hit you because you didn’t eat those eggs. It had to be the drug. Once that drug gets outta his system, he’ll be fine and back to his old self again.”
The words were true enough and they offered Face some reassurance, but his confusion was evident when he stopped halfway between the bathroom and the sofa and stood staring at nothing, lost in thought. He felt BA take his arm and lead him to the sofa and ease him down. He also felt the ice packs being placed on his ribs and one on the side of his face. Then he heard BA cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, and was thankful for his help. As he felt himself starting to doze, he knew that with BA around, he didn’t have much of a concern with Hannibal, and so he didn’t fight his tiredness.
Face woke up when the silence in the room was disturbed. Blinking away the light, he focused on BA who was sitting in the big chair across the room, frowning at him.
“You look terrible,” BA grumbled softly.
Face touched his cheek gently and grimaced at an image he had in his mind of his appearance.
“Hey Faceman,” came a voice from behind him. Face turned and saw Murdock coming out of the kitchen with a tall glass of water. “Thirsty?” he said while handing him the glass.
“Thanks, Murdock. How’d you get here?” He had begun to sit up but his aching ribs were making the task much more difficult than it should have been. Murdock reached over and pulled him upright and didn’t let go until he’d lifted his legs over the side and was sitting.
“Big Guy called me and told me to come over. Also told me what happened and I couldn’t believe it. Still wouldn’t except that I see you. How’re you doing?”
“I’m fine. How’s Hannibal?” Face worriedly asked.
“He’s still sleeping,” Murdock answered.
“What time is it?”
“Almost two in the afternoon. BA’s not exactly one for sitting and watching you sleep, so he got Amy to get me out of the VA and drop me off. I stayed up here with you and Hannibal while BA tinkered around in your garage. By the way, he changed the oil in your corvette, tuned it up and washed it,” Murdock added with a grin. He knew that would make Face happy.
“Really? Thanks BA,” Face genuinely appreciated the attention his car was given.
BA nodded concealing the truth of why he got Murdock. He couldn’t leave Face alone with Hannibal until he was certain that Hannibal wasn’t going to beat the hell out of him again. He had witnessed Hannibal’s rage and anger and also witnessed Face’s reluctance to fight him, that combination didn’t make for a healthy or happy A-Team and he wanted both him and Murdock around when Hannibal woke up. If for no other reason than to offer himself some peace of mind that the pills were truly responsible for his erratic behavior.
They sat in silence a while longer until Face stood up, with Murdock’s assistance. “I want to check on him,” Face said.
He walked into the bedroom and didn’t return until he was certain Hannibal was sleeping okay. He absently walked around the room reflecting on the last 18 hours and felt foolish. His feelings were so clouded with all the events that he couldn’t separate what was real, fiction, fantasy or wishful thinking. He wanted Hannibal to wake up and be himself so that Murdock could go back to the VA, BA could go back to the center and he and Hannibal could figure out their relationship. But he had to admit that he felt comfortable with them around and a little grateful since he couldn’t be sure Hannibal wouldn’t wake up and start the violence again.
His eyes, posture and physical demeanor conveyed his confused feelings to his friends but they didn’t say anything. For different reasons, they were as confused as he was.
The swelling kept to a minimum but the bruises were becoming quite prominent around his eyes and mouth. Murdock wrapped some bandages around his ribs to add support and it felt good to have pressure on them. Then they ate lunch and Face managed to eat the sandwich that was made for him. The food coupled with the pain killer that Murdock gave him made him feel a lot better. BA was getting restless and left the apartment in possible pursuit of another car to fix which allowed Murdock and Face some time to talk.
“I feel somewhat responsible for what happened. After your visit yesterday, I was worried and called Hannibal. I had no idea that he would react the way he did. I’m sorry.”
Face shook his head and said, “It’s not your fault. And it wasn’t ‘Hannibal’ who hit me. It’s that damn medication he was on. He won’t remember any of it when he wakes up.”
“Was that what was bothering you yesterday? You wanted to ask me something but never got a chance, what was it?” Murdock took a chance and asked. If Face didn’t want to talk, he didn’t have to.
Face looked at Murdock a long time remembering the questions he had wanted to ask yesterday but the words had not come to his lips. He wanted to shut off the conversation and retreat to the sofa but he couldn’t move and ended up peering out the window over the city below. He wasn’t sure if he could ask the questions and if he did manage to get the words out, was he prepared for the answer? With a sigh, he quietly asked, “Have you ever been with a guy?”
Murdock didn’t appear shocked or surprised or anything by the question, he just shrugged and nodded his head yes.
Thinking that Murdock didn’t understand his question, he reiterated, “I mean have you had sex with another guy?”
“Yeah,” came the reply. Murdock studied Face’s expression to see if he could tell what he was thinking, but couldn’t.
Face looked down at the floor and allowed his thoughts to run. Who had Murdock been with? How long ago? What had it been like? He had a million questions but again nothing wanted to come out of his mouth. Murdock must have seen or felt the confusion and decided to elaborate.
“It was back during the war. Just after I arrived for my tour, I was assigned to another pilot, a guy who’d been there awhile. Well, he mentored me in all aspects of Viet Nam. We developed a friendship that progressed into a sexual relationship. He taught me a lot about physical pleasures and I was young enough and naïve enough to go along. It didn’t last very long as his tour ended and he went home. I think about him from time to time, but some things are best left as a memory.”
Face was staring trance like while Murdock relayed his story, trying to take it in. After a moment of silence, he asked, “How about BA? Has he ever been with a guy?”
“I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be yes. One time when my mentor and I were entering the hotel where that sort of thing went on, we almost ran straight into him and one of his buddies. We both knew what it meant to be leaving from, or arriving at, that hotel, but we simply nodded and passed each other, never mentioning the encounter again.”
Through the blackness surrounding Face’s eyes, Murdock could see the anguish in his friend. But there was no disgust or disappointment. Just emptiness. He waited in silence for him to comprehend what he was hearing.
“How ’bout Hannibal?” came the almost inaudible question.
Murdock shrugged. His body was saying he didn’t know, but his eyes were saying he thought he had.
Face took a deep breath and said, “Do you ever feel like you want to be with a guy now?”
Murdock moved uneasily at the question. Face noticed the nervousness and questioningly tilted his head to encourage an answer.
“Yeah, sometimes,” came the nervous response. Then his eyes betrayed him and Face realized that the answer was meant for him. Murdock’s quickly diverting eyes and embarrassed look confirmed his interest.
Before Face could totally comprehend what he just heard, the suite door opened and in walked their sergeant. “I found a place where I can rotate your tires,” came the gruff comment from BA. He didn’t seem to notice the tension in the air nor the look between Murdock and Face. Face broke the moment and looked around for his glass of water. BA continued, “I’ll take care of it later in the week.”
Face’s mind was racing at discovering Murdock’s interest in him. He’d just come to terms with his own feelings for Hannibal and now there was another person to consider. And he wasn’t even sure he had come to terms with his own feelings. Never having been with a guy before was intriguing if not intimidating and to learn that all three of his teammates have had same-sex relations was more than he wanted to learn in a single afternoon. He gently rubbed his face and was momentarily distracted by the pain it produced.
As if the events of the last few minutes weren’t enough of a jolt, he jumped again when he heard Hannibal’s voice, “Who called the meeting?” And then upon seeing Face, he frowned and said, “What the hell happened to….” his voice trailed off when he saw three pairs of eyes burrowing into his. Once again, the memories came back, slowly at first, then they picked up speed: the arrival of BA, the breakfast, the fight with Face… Gleaning a horrified expression, Hannibal said, “My God, Face, are you all right?” And he reflectively moved toward him. BA stood next to Face holding a protective stance and Murdock stood closer to Hannibal, watching him intently.
Face held up his hands, discounting his injuries, “I’m fine Hannibal. How’re you feeling?”
Hannibal stopped and ignored the question, “Face, tell me I didn’t…” And then turning toward BA, he pleaded, “BA, you stopped me before I did anything, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, man. You would of messed him up bad if I wasn’t here,” BA’s voice wasn’t angry or accusatory, he was simply stating a fact.
Not wanting to put Hannibal through this, Face changed the subject, “Colonel, it was those pills you were taking. Apparently, they have some bad side effects and can make a person prone to violence. They were changing your personality and, for some reason, you were taking out your hostilities on me. You’d get to a certain point in your anger and black out.”
Hannibal still didn’t look convinced that he hadn’t harmed his friend and Face knew what he must be thinking giving the violent bout they had the previous night. Face assured him again that he was fine, “Hannibal, I’ve got a couple of black eyes, a sore jaw and maybe a cracked rib or two. But nothing else.”
Murdock and BA couldn’t understand the relief that swept over their colonel, after all, wasn’t that bad enough? But Face understood and they stood in silence waiting for someone to break the tension. Face was hoping someone would say something but in situations like this, it was usually him who came up with the ice breaker and he guessed that this was no different.
“How about something to drink, Colonel?” Face asked while he moved into the kitchen.
“Ah, yeah, okay,” Hannibal acknowledged and went to sit on the sofa, still looking guilty and not feeling all that great.
Murdock asked, “Hey, Colonel, how long have you been taking that medication?”
“I had a ten day supply and I was on day seven, but I was feeling better a few days ago.”
BA was still guarding him with speculation, wondering how long the drug would stay in his system after having taken seven days worth of the stuff. Hannibal glanced up at him and almost in a whisper said, “Thanks.” BA nodded and knew that Hannibal never would provoke any one of his team unless something else was in control. They sat in silence until the drinks were ready.
The afternoon passed into evening with most of the conversation centering on the Branson case. Early on they spoke of Hannibal’s erratic behavior and the medication, but nobody belabored the point.
Hannibal was the first to mention that he was leaving. Face was startled by this, he had hoped he would stay the night again and they could continue discovering this new dimension to their relationship. “Are you sure, Hannibal?” He’d hoped his voice didn’t betray his feelings.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” he replied while pulling on his jacket.
“I better be gettin’ you back to the VA,” BA said looking at Murdock.
“Yeah, I left a very important appointment with Billy. You take care Face. Hannibal, you too. See you this weekend.” Murdock said referring to the next case they would most likely be taking.
Face was still in a state of shock as they left the room and headed towards the door. He wanted Hannibal to stay, he wanted to talk, he wanted so many things but as usual, something was preventing him from speaking. All he managed to do was offer a very slight nod of his head.
Once outside, Hannibal checked his pockets for his keys and discovered they weren’t there. “That’s strange,” he said. “They must be on the table.” He waived goodbye to BA and Murdock as he backtracked and knocked on the door. After a few seconds, the door opened and Face was holding up the keys with an unusual grin. “Figured you’d be back.” Face turned and walked back into the living room. Hannibal had no choice but the follow.
“Did you lift my keys, Lieutenant?” Hannibal said being somewhat annoyed that he was a victim of his friend’s talents.
“I needed to talk to you,” Face’s voice was low and cold. “Why won’t you stay?”
Hannibal sighed and wasn’t sure how he was going to phrase what he had to say. He walked over to Face and stood very close, so close that Face could feel the heat from his body. Hannibal reached down and enclosed his hand over the hand that was holding his keys and placed his other hand on Face’s shoulder. The bruised face was difficult to look at and he felt himself long for the silky masculine features that had earned his lieutenant his nickname. Very quietly, he said, “You’re not ready. You think you are, the thought of being with another guy is exciting to you, but you’re simply not ready. You need time to digest the possibilities, digest what you learned today from Murdock.” Before Face had time to formulate a question, Hannibal answered, “Yes, I heard your conversation with him.” Hannibal paused to allow Face time to adjust. “There’s nothing in this world that I want more than being with you. But I can’t take advantage of you now. When you’ve had time to heal, think about everything, make your choice, then we’ll see what happens.”
Hannibal slipped the keys from his friend’s hand and left the apartment before Face could internalize the departure.
Hannibal sat in the car making no move to turn the key. The thoughts of the past 24 hours were racing through his mind but the prevailing thought was of Face: being with Face, caressing Face, kissing Face and loving Face. He wanted to march back up into his suite and tell him how he felt. Tell him how long he has wanted him. Describe the wonderful sensations and feelings that being with another man can offer. But the reality of it was, he couldn’t.
He had long known about Murdock’s feelings for Face and had at one time wondered if he had approached Face about them. Now he realized that they had never been together. Face was naïve about men and that thought was most exciting. He shifted slightly to relieve the pressure building in his now bulging crotch.
Face needed time to think. Besides, there was no guarantee that he would want to have sex with another man. Given time to think about it could prove fatal, though. And what would happen if Face chose Murdock? Could he handle the rejection? He let out a sigh of resignation realizing that the dynamics of the Team have forever changed.
Face continued to stare into space repeating the words that Hannibal said. His mind ran through the conversation he’d just had, and then the one he’d had earlier with Murdock. He blinked away some confusion and ran a hand through his hair oblivious to his own movement that was taking him to the window. Peering out over the city lights, a smile crossed his lips as he repeated the line, ‘make your choice’.
‘Yeah, make my choice,’ he thought. Face now had time to think about this comment. Both Hannibal and Murdock would be willing partners. And he would be a willing partner for either of them as well. He loved them both but for different reasons; Hannibal for his strong leadership abilities, and Murdock for his crazy love of life. It would be difficult to choose; in fact, it would be impossible to choose.
Physically and emotionally drained from the day’s events, he laid down on the sofa. Smiling contentedly, he drifted off to sleep intent on building this new relationship as soon as he woke the next day.