Please find below a Christmas fill I wrote last year - it is set in the First Impressions Universe, sometime after Mission Five.
Hannibal could feel his temper rising with every step he took across the base back to his quarters; he had never been as embarrassed in all his life. He’d thought this little break would do his boys some good, they’d been working flat out for the last six weeks, thought they would appreciate a little down time and a chance for some R&R, but instead they seem to have used it as a chance to just run wild.
He couldn’t believe that he had been hauled in front of the camp commander and asked to explain the antics of his unit – it was so humiliating. There certainly better be some good excuses coming his way once he caught up with his team... But not tonight. His head was thumping and his temper was just too frayed. It would wait until the morning and then, well, then he would see.
Unfortunately, it was never to be. Hannibal swung open the door to his quarters and froze. Music was blaring out at an obscene level, no doubt contravening about another ten camp directives, and the three members of his team were currently rolling around on the floor in the middle of his tent wrapped in coloured streamers and paper chains.
“Give it here, fools!”
“Get the hell off it BA, this was my idea, so I get to decide where it goes!”
“It’s mine! I am the party commander, I get to command!”
“Get off it!”
“You’ve ripped them!”
Hannibal’s temper suddenly burst, “ENOUGH!” he roared, loud enough to be heard over the Christmas music, “What in hell’s name is going on here?!”
There was a beat of silence as a hand reached out of the melee on the floor and snapped off the CD player before three voices started up at once.
“Boss! You’re early!”
“Hannibal, listen man, we can explain...”
“Hey, Bossman! You see Santa out there then?”
But Hannibal really wasn’t in the mood. “Attention!” he shouted and there was a couple of minutes of mad scrambling and tearing of streamers before the three men stood in a reasonable imitation of attention, the odd stray paper chain hanging from a shoulder or an arm.
He walked down the line in front of them, his eyes boring into each man as he stalked past, his irritation cranking up a notch with every second.
“Don’t...” he hissed as he turned to stare at them. “Don’t insult me with your petty excuses and blatant lies!” he caught the quick glance that flew between Murdock and Face and it did little to improve his mood. “Whatever all this is about,” he waved his hand expressively around his once tidy quarters, “can wait. I have more pressing things to talk to you about.”
This time Face’s eyes flicked left to BA and once again Hannibal caught it. “Eyes front Lieutenant!” Face instantly complied, Hannibal’s tone and furious expression not allowing much room for dissent as he ploughed on. “You can start us off here by explaining why you have spent the last three days running an illegal casino out of your quarters, conning good soldiers out of their hard earned pay!”
The slightest impression of a wince flitted across the Lieutenant’s face before it was wiped clean again. He coughed nervously before offering, “There was no con, sir, I beat them fair and square!”
“Oh, please!” Hannibal scoffed as he turned his eyes to BA, “you wouldn’t know fair and square if it turned up to bite you on the ass! And you!” the Corporal met his CO’s stare with obvious trepidation in his eyes, “Beating up on security guards at the hangers! BA, what the hell did you think you were playing at? I thought you understood those days were over! You toe the line or you ship out!” Shame washed over BA’s face but Hannibal had already moved back to Murdock.
“And you Captain...” Murdock’s eyes were flicking around the room, alighting everywhere but on Hannibal’s face, a sure sign that he was stressed, “You stole, stole!, a cargo plane and took it out on an unsanctioned flight, do you have any idea how hard I have had to peddle to save you from a court martial?!”His eyes were wide and panicked and it was Face that answered on his behalf, “But surely, sir, it’s not stealing, not if we brought it back like we did?”
“QUIET!” Hannibal rounded on him in a second. “Not stealing? Face, the army has rules that are meant to be followed. You don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing only the ones you are interested in!” Face let his eyes fall to the floor as Hannibal stepped back.
“I am, quite frankly, disgusted in you men.” An uncomfortable silence fell. “I was embarrassed to be your CO tonight! Listening to General Grant as he listed everything you have been up to over this past week when we are guests on this base. Guests! I thought you would enjoy staying here for Christmas, a few home comforts and all that. It seems I was wrong. Seems none of you can even be trusted to be in polite company at the minute. Too much time spent with camels in the desert, you are beginning to have the same manners! Appalling!”
Three pairs of eyes stared morosely at the floor as Hannibal shook his head at them, “When I think of everything I went through to get you assigned to my unit, every one of you, and this is how you repay me? Insubordination and humiliation? Well, it’s just not good enough!”
The heavy silence was back for a moment.
“Well, I’ve just about had enough of this boys. I wish I hadn’t bothered, I wish I’d left you all right where I found you, not dirtied my hands with you all. Maybe then I would have a team I could be proud of instead of this shower!” He shook his head once more, disappointment written all over his face, “Well you had better sort this mess out, I have had enough of the lot of you!” and with that he turned and stalked out of the tent.
It was late and very dark but Hannibal didn’t care as he let his temper carry him away to the furthest corner of the base. It was only when he reached the fence that he stopped and, hanging onto the chain mail links, tried to get his breath back.
Hannibal turned on his heel and immediately found himself face to face with a man he recognised instantly, even though he seemed to be a little thin around the edges, a little transparent in places...
Patton smiled, “Well done, Smith! Many a man will dispute the evidence that is right in front of their eyes, just because they know it to be impossible!”
Hannibal frowned, “And they would have a point sir, I mean after all, aren’t you...?”
“Well, yes sir... dead?”
Patton laughed, “Things like that don’t matter son! Not on Christmas Eve! Not when there are wishes to be had!”
Hannibal’s frown deepened, “Wishes?”
“Yes! Special Christmas wishes to be granted for those who really desire them!”
“Me?” this time Hannibal laughed, “But I can’t think of anything that I really want to wish for!”
Patton smiled at him, “But you already made your wish! Back in your quarters, you wished you had never selected those men for your team. You just need to say the word and that wish will be a reality.”
Hannibal narrowed his eyes. It would be that easy? One word and it would be as if he had never recruited those men? No more holding Face’s hand through his constant emotional crises, no more trying to coax Murdock into behaving in a sane and rational manner, no more covering for the fact that BA was an airborne Ranger who refused to fly. How much easier would this life be without all these issues? Without these men?
He smiled at Patton, “You’re on sir, make that wish come true!”
“Wait!” Suddenly there was another wispy wraith like shape next to the indistinct form of General Patton and Hannibal’s eyes opened wide once more, “General Eisenhower?”
The new shape smiled, “In the flesh son! Well, not quite the flesh, but you know what I mean!”
“What are you doing here Ike?” Patton snapped, “I am trying to grant a wish here and you are in the way!”
Eisenhower ignored him and instead turned to Hannibal, “Are you sure that this is the wish you really want, Hannibal? It’s a big one to make...”
Hannibal nodded, but couldn’t suppress the shades of doubt that suddenly clouded his mind.
“He said yes,” Patton snapped, attempting to push Eisenhower out of the way, “now clear off and let me make this wish come true! You can’t stop it now!”
“No, I know,” Eisenhower cocked his head to one side as he considered Hannibal, “Only the colonel here can do that, but perhaps I can make him consider just a little bit more.”
“Oh, for goodness sake!” Patton folded his arms crossly as Eisenhower turned to Hannibal.
“You seem fairly set in your decisions there Hannibal?” A nod in reply, “You won’t reconsider?” A shake of the head, “Well, as I said to Patton there, I can’t stop your wish, only you can do that, but I do have the power to let you see what will happen once you make that wish. Will you do that for me instead? Then you can make your wish safe in the knowledge that you have looked into it in depth. What do you say?”
Hannibal turned to Patton who still had his arms folded and was tapping his foot impatiently, and then back to Eisenhower. Before he nodded and smiled, “Okay, then General” he said, “You’re on.”
He hardly had time to wink before the warm desert night was replaced by a warm centrally heated corridor. Hannibal looked up and down and found he and Eisenhower standing in a long white tiles corridor, rooms with plain simple doors were slotted along the corridor at regular intervals and the distant sound of off-key carolling could be heard in the distance. Hannibal turned to his guide. “A hospital?” he queried, his stomach already knotted in anxiety.
“Not exactly,” Eisenhower replied and nodded at one of the closed doors. Hannibal paused for just a moment and then walked to the door and peered in through the small observation window.
It was obviously some kind of day room. A large TV, an artificial Christmas tree, lots of comfy looking seats, all pushed back at the moment to make room for the mass of men standing loosely in the centre of the room singing along to a Christmas carol CD. Hannibal studied the scene in front of him carefully, he knew there must be a reason that Eisenhower had brought him here, and then he saw it.
“Murdock...” he breathed as he made out his captain in the midst of the carollers. Murdock was wearing pyjamas, as were most of the singers, and was joining in with great gusto, his voice clearly audible over the others.
Hannibal turned back to Eisenhower, “Not a hospital then?”
Eisenhower shook his head, “VA,” he explained.
“Aah...” Hannibal turned back and watched as ‘Silent Night’ began. Murdock was right at the front, laughing and joking with a few of the other men, some of the staff and looked to be having a great time. “Well, he seems to be happy enough here.”
Eisenhower frowned slightly although Hannibal couldn’t see over his shoulder, “This is 2008. Six years after you decided you didn’t want him for your unit. He’s been here ever since.” “Right...” Hannibal’s frown was fleeting, “But he seems happy, yes?”
“So, that’s good! Shall we?”
With one last glance at his Captain enjoying the carols, Hannibal stepped away from the door and into a dark garage.
It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the change of light, before he could just about make out the sight of a figure laid underneath a very distinctive black and red van.
“It’s BA!” he hissed out of the side of his mouth to Eisenhower, “Won’t he see us standing here?”
Eisenhower shook his head and replied in a normal volume, “No. We are not really here. People in this reality can neither see nor hear us. And we cannot interact with their world at all. Here,” he pointed to a hammer laid on the floor at their feet, “pick that up.”
Hannibal bent down and grabbed for the handle of the hammer, but his fingers went straight through it. He turned to Eisenhower and frowned; his guide just shook his head, “No interaction at all,” he repeated.
Hannibal’s attention was drawn back to BA as he slid out from under the van and started packing his tools away, talking to his girl as he did so, “There you go baby, almost good as new. Now, didn’t I tell ya I’d get ya sorted?” he patted the side door as he walked on, right past Hannibal and Eisenhower, cleaning his hands on a rag as he went.
“He seems happy too – must’ve repaired the van after Murdock flattened it...” Hannibal smiled at the memory and turned back to Eisenhower. “See General? I told you this was the right thing to do. Me and the boys would have been much better going our own separate ways after Mexico. I’ll keep my wish.”
Eisenhower looked steadily at him. “You sure about that Colonel? Still got one more to check on?”
Hannibal laughed, “Face? Oh, come on General, that one will always land on his feet. Far too sharp to need me around him!”
“You don’t want to check?”
Hannibal looked back at BA who was singing Mowtown songs while he cleaned up and then back at Eisenhower. “Oh, what the hell, why not?”
And then they were moving on again.
Hannibal knew he was back in the desert the second he took his first breath; there was something about the way the desert night smelled that he would never ever forget. They were alone, on the edges of a vast tent city that could only be an army base and he was just about to ask Eisenhower why they were here when a figure strode round the side of the tent and almost walked into them.
Face was obviously in a hurry, and Hannibal tagged along behind him watching as he wound his way expertly through the maze of tents, never once breaking his stride. Within a couple of minutes he ducked into a single tent standing off on its own slightly and Hannibal followed him in.
The second Face flicked a lamp on in the corner of the tent Hannibal spotted the two silver bars on his shoulder and whistled through his teeth to Eisenhower. “See? He’s made Captain, and held on to it this time. Told you he would cope just fine on his own.”
Eisenhower looked sideways at him, “And that doesn’t bother you?”
Hannibal shook his head as he continued to watch Face potter around the tent, “Course not... Why would it?” But Eisenhower noted the slight flush to his cheeks and even Hannibal himself noticed the uncomfortable churning in his stomach as he realised that perhaps he wasn’t as instrumental in the lives of his boys as he had once thought. “Come on,” he turned away from Face, “Let’s go.”They took a step forward and Hannibal found himself back in the long white corridor where he had seen Murdock and he frowned at Eisenhower, “I thought we were going back to Patton? Get my wish granted?”
Eisenhower frowned back, “Hannibal. I really feel I need to say something here.”
Hannibal pulled himself up to his not inconsiderable height and fixed General Eisenhower with a firm stare – he could always tell when there was a confrontation heading his way.
“I’ve watched you with interest, followed your career closely, and I’ve always thought of you as a wise and careful man,” Hannibal maintained his blank expression, “a little unorthodox perhaps,” a smile pulled at the corner of the General’s mouth, “but a good leader. Effective. Good with his men. But this...” he gestured around at the corridor, “this ‘wish’. I think you are being idiotic.”
Hannibal bristled. “You wanted me to see what would happen to my men had I not brought them on board and I have. They are all fine and happy and getting on well without me. I looked like you told me to, and now I want to make my decision. What’s wrong with that?”
Eisenhower sighed, “You looked Hannibal, but you really didn’t see.”
Hannibal shook his head again, “And what the hell is that supposed to mean? It’s a little late in the evening for cryptic clues.”
“Nothing cryptic, you just need to see Hannibal, open your eyes and really look this time.”
Eisenhower glanced at the clock on the wall. “I can give you another twenty minutes of my time, Colonel, and then you are really on your own. Come this way.”
He headed down the corridor and Hannibal had noticed for the first time that the carolling had stopped. In fact the whole place was very quiet, almost like it was the middle of the night but it was hard to tell the actual time as the corridor was so brightly lit.
They walked along until they came to a stairwell at the end and then headed down. Hannibal felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as he and Eisenhower silently descended, but he couldn’t say why. Two flights down, they came out into another long white corridor and Eisenhower walked to another door with an observation window and stopped. Hannibal joined him.
It was gloomy inside and Hannibal’s eyes took a moment to adjust. Just at the exact moment that he started to make sense of what he was seeing, a chilling scream came from the room beyond the glass and he pressed himself flush against the window. “Oh my God,” he breathed at Eisenhower, “that’s Murdock! What the hell are they doing to him?”
Hannibal could see that his Captain was strapped to a chair, three or four orderlies surrounding him, banks of equipment all round the edges of the room.
“Electric shock therapy,” Eisenhower explained.
Hannibal looked around in alarm, “They can still do that?” Eisenhower nodded, “Does it help?” this time a noncommittal shrug.
Hannibal turned back to the figure in the room as another scream split the air. “Can he leave here? If he wanted to?” he asked as he watched Murdock writhe on the chair once more.
“In theory,” Eisenhower replied, “But we need to move on. Time is precious.”
Hannibal nodded but found it hard to tear his eyes away from Murdock this time. He blinked and they were back in BA’s garage.
He sighed in relief as he realised that everything was just about as he had left it. BA was finishing off cleaning his hands on a rag while softly singing an old Gladys Knight number under his breath. Hannibal turned to Eisenhower, about to remark on the similarity of the scene, when the doors of the garage flew open and four men with guns burst in, riddling BA’s precious girl with bullet holes.BA flung himself to the ground and Hannibal almost did the same before Eisenhower grabbed his arm and forced him to remain standing, reminding him with his eyes that they were safe, no bullets could harm them from BA’s world.
The deafening volley seemed to last for days before, at a signal from their leader, the men ceased firing and an eerie silence fell on the garage.
“Baracus!” the leader yelled, “On your feet man!”
And BA, looking mercifully unhurt, slowly climbed to his feet.
“So...” the gun toting front man took a step closer to BA, “Thought you’d run on us eh Baracus? Thought you’d dump your shipment and just take off?”
“I was set up Raoul!” BA yelled back at him, “You tipped them border guards off about me! They knew I was carrying some shit, they was waiting for me, man! Had no choice but to dump it!”
Raoul put on an expression of false innocence, “Bosco! Now why would I do that? Why would I set up one of my own mules?”
Hannibal turned to Eisenhower, fury in his eyes, “He’s running drugs? BA? What the hell is he thinking of?!”
“I’ll tell you why, man!” BA took a step closer, “’Cause you wanted me outta the picture right? ‘Cause with me gone, you get my girl here,” he patted the poor shot up van again and took another step forward, “And it means you free to move in on ma little sister without me there to bust your face for even thinking it!”
Raoul narrowed his eyes, “Maybe, BA, maybe. Or perhaps I just thought it would be fun to watch you rot in jail for running, when you always have such high and mighty morals! Seems a shame those morals didn’t last long when someone made a move on your family hey?”
“You lied to me!” BA yelled, “You said if I did one more run you would leave her alone, but that’s not true is it? It’s always one more run, one more run! Never gonna end!”
Sarcastic applause from Raoul filled the garage, “At last, Bosco. You never were too bright. But, alas, now you have worked out the truth you’ll be no good to me anymore. Or the boss. Better let him decided what to do with you. Boys!” Raoul snapped his fingers and his three henchmen closed in on BA; Hannibal automatically moved to his Corporal’s side, but knew he would be no use what so ever.
The fight didn’t last too long. BA put up fierce resistance, but in the end they were too much for him. Hannibal could see the rusty hand to hand skills that his BA spent so much time perfecting and it was only a matter of time before an elbow to the back of the neck brought the big guy down. Hannibal could only watch in despair as BA was hauled out of the garage and into the night.
Another blink and they were back in Face’s quarters. His Lieutenant, he couldn’t think of him as a Captain just yet, was still there, changed out of his uniform but pacing around the tent, picking things up and putting them down and, Hannibal was surprised that he hadn’t noticed it last time, he was looking very nervous. On edge. His eyes kept flicking to the door and his hands kept tightening into fists and once Hannibal had finally noticed these tell tale signs in the man he knew so well, he felt his own anxiety rise in tune.
They didn’t have to wait long. Within a minute of Hannibal’s arrival, the door to Face’s quarters flew inwards and a tall, stocky, red headed Colonel walked in. Hannibal’s heart sank; Colonel Sol William Sanders.
Face immediately stopped what he was doing and stood to attention, but Hannibal didn’t miss him taking a step back, leaning up against the desk and putting as much space between himself and the Colonel as possible. Hannibal took a step in, his heart pounding in his chest, he didn’t like this one little bit.
“You finished that filing, Peck? I didn’t remember telling you you could go.”
“Yes, sir, it’s finished.”Hannibal’s hackles rose at the tone to Face’s voice. What was lurking in there? Something he didn’t like at all... Fear?
“Good...” Sanders’ voice had that smarmy edge to it that Hannibal most despised. He had almost forgotten how much he hated this man, how much he hated what he had done to Face back in their own reality. But here, he was still in the army, still free to do as he liked, hadn’t crossed Hannibal Smith in this reality. And why would he? If Face wasn’t in Hannibal’s unit how would Hannibal have ever found out how vile the man really was? He went cold all over as he realised what the implications of this could be...
Sanders took another step towards Face, “I was wondering whether you had disappeared early on purpose? Whether you had forgotten it was Christmas Eve and I was having my little party?”
Face, eyes wide, shook his head and Sanders smiled back at him, “Excellent! We are all really looking forward to it. My guests cannot wait to get stuck in to their gift.”
Hannibal looked on in confusion as the blood drained from Face’s features while Sanders just laughed.
Silence fell as the two men stared at each other. “So,” Sanders said, taking another step in, “Eight o’clock you need to be in my quarters for, and it’s only,” he glanced at his watch, “six fifteen now.” Face tried to take another step back against the desk, “I think that leaves us time for a quick aperitif, Peck, don’t you?”
Face didn’t answer; but Hannibal almost exploded as Sanders suddenly dropped his trousers and his shorts and freed his burgeoning erection. No one moved.
“Come on Peck!” Sanders eventually snapped, “You know the drill by now! On your fucking knees, whore!”
Hannibal’s hands flew into his hair as Face dropped to his knees and Sanders wasted no time at all shoving himself all the way in to his mouth.
“Oh my God!” Hannibal breathed trying to back away but unable to tear his eyes off the scene in front of him. He turned to Eisenhower, “Make him stop!”
Eisenhower’s eyes were full of sorrow, but he only shook his head.
“Oh, yessss...” Sanders’ voice pulled Hannibal’s eyes back to Face and he watched in detached horror as the Colonel fucked Face’s mouth without care or consideration. His pudgy fingers had handfuls of that beautiful caramel hair that Hannibal always loved to stroke when they were alone and he used it to hold Face still while ramming his cock right down his throat.
“Ohhh, “ he moaned again, “I’m so glad I got you this nice big tent right out the way here, means I can make as much noise as I like while I fuck your clever little mouth and no one will hear us... Just the way you like it eh, Peck?”
Face didn’t respond. His eyes were shut tight and his hands limp on his thighs but Hannibal could see very real tears running down the sides of his face.
Then Sanders shoved in just that little bit too far and Face started to cough and to wretch and his hands came up and pushed the Colonel away from him.
“Fucking hell!” Sanders exploded, pulling himself from Face’s mouth and backhanding him brutally across the face, “Watch where you put your fucking teeth, Peck!”
Face fell backwards onto the floor, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth and just looked up at Sanders with wet, fear filled eyes. Hannibal took a step in, taking a protective stance over him, his own hands curled into tight fists.
“You useless pile of shite!” Sanders hissed and spat at him, “Can’t even give head properly! Useless fag! Get on your fucking feet!”
Face struggled to stand but wasn’t quite fast enough for Sanders who kicked him hard in the kidneys before yelling again, “On your feet!”
Hannibal tried to move in once more, putting himself between Sanders and his fallen Lieutenant, but it was no use and Sanders kicked Face in the thigh even as he used the table to haul himself onto his feet. “Right...” Sanders hissed as he pushed his trousers further down his thighs, “You can’t do a blow job right, then I’ll have to get off another way. Drop ‘em and get over that desk!”
“No, no, no...” Hannibal moaned, “Don’t you fucking touch him!”
But of course no one could hear him and Face did as he was ordered, shoving his combats down his legs and bending over the heavy wooden desk. With a sick swoop to his stomach, Hannibal suddenly realised why that particular piece of furniture was in here.
Sanders entered him dry, only the remains of Face’s saliva to help him in and Face couldn’t help but cry out in pain. Hannibal cried out with him and paced round the desk, his hands in impotent fists at his sides.
It didn’t last long. Within two minutes Sanders had emptied himself with a cow like moan and pulled out leaving Face sprawled across the desk, his eyes closed and his chest heaving. Sanders leant forwards and cleaned his spent dick on the back of Face’s t-shirt, leaving traces of semen and blood on the baby blue fabric.
“Eight o’clock Peck,” he hissed as he rearranged his clothing, “Don’t be fucking late.” Face didn’t move or respond and Sanders chuckled as he fastened his belt. “No smart reply, eh? Good. I think you are finally learning. It’s only taken you six years to realise that I own you; that you are mine and do as I say. Given up waiting to be rescued then have you? About fucking time.” He smoothed back his hair, “And make sure you tidy yourself up. It’s Christmas Eve. My guests won’t want to fuck a fucking tramp!” Then he was gone.
“Oh, Jesus Christ!” Hannibal crept over to the desk where Face still lay, “He’s passing him round, my boy, my beautiful boy. Jesus Christ!”
Face slowly pushed himself onto his feet, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand and pulled his trousers back up, wincing as he did so.
“Face...” Hannibal tried to reach out to him but his hand went straight through Face’s arm as he walked slowly over to the bed.
Hannibal followed him feeling more useless and impotent than he ever had in his whole life.
Face went to sit on the bed but frowned as he noticed the red smear on the back of his t-shirt. He ripped the offending article straight off and threw it across the tent, bending to reach another from his locker and pulling a horrified gasp from Hannibal’s lips as he did.
“Jesus,” he breathed, “look, that bastard’s been cutting him!”
Face’s back was indeed covered in neat criss-crossed cuts. Nothing random or violent about those marks, they were very deliberate, very slow, very neat, and very, very sick. Hannibal couldn’t tear his eyes away from the vandalism of his boy’s smooth, tanned flesh, but as Face bent forward to pick up the new t-shirt he had dropped on the floor, Hannibal found he had to hold back the urge to wretch.
There, in the flesh of Face’s back were three initials carved with sick precision. S.W.S. Sol William Sanders. The fucking bastard had branded him! Hannibal screamed wordlessly at the roof of the tent and knew that if it had been at all possible, ho would have killed Sanders there and then. How dare he? How fucking dare he touch Hannibal’s boy like that?
“Oh, kid, I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry...”
Face pulled the new t-shirt on over his scarred back and then dropped to his bed and sobbed; tearing Hannibal into pieces. He’d never seen Face like this, yes, he’d seen him cry; he’d seen him scared and vulnerable and insecure. But this was different. Face was broken, and Hannibal had never seen that before.
Hannibal hovered over him, Eisenhower forgotten as he tried to offer some crumb of comfort in a way Face could feel or sense of anything, but nothing seemed to work.
Eventually Face’s tears dried up and he straightened up again, eyes drifting to the clock. Seven forty five. Hannibal felt his throat tighten. Would he have to watch that as well? Who were Sanders’ ‘guests’? Would he have to watch as they also defiled his boy? He knew he just couldn’t.
But Face it seemed had other ideas. He leaned forward towards the locker at the side of the bed and slid the drawer open taking out an M-9 hand gun. “Oh shit,” Hannibal breathed, “he’s going to shoot Sanders!”
He flashed a glance at Eisenhower who remained as inscrutable as ever and then back to Face who was calmly checking the magazine and slotting it home.
“We have to stop this!” Hannibal’s voice was shaking, “He’ll spend the rest of his life in prison, or end up on death row, either way he can’t do this, General, he can’t!” He sank to his knees in front of Face.
Face took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Hannibal could see him willing himself into that calm state he needed to take a sniper shot. “Don’t do it, kid,” he whispered, “he’s not worth it. Don’t do it.”
Then he opened his eyes and snapped the safety off the pistol.
Hannibal’s mind jumped into gear at the same instant, “No, no, no!”
Face lifted the gun and put it in his own mouth.
“No!” Hannibal screamed, he turned to Eisenhower “You have to stop this! Stop this! He can’t do this, what the fuck is he thinking of!”
He spun back to Face who still had the gun in his mouth as silent tears leaked from his closed eyes. “Tell someone kid! Fucking tell someone! Don’t let him do this to you! Tell someone!”
“Who’s he going to tell?” It was the first time Eisenhower had spoken since they came back and Hannibal could hear the sadness in it. “He has no one.”
“Please stop him!” Hannibal implored, “Please, don’t let him do this!”
Eisenhower shook his head, “I told you. There’s nothing I can do.”
And then it clicked. What had Eisenhower said earlier on? Only the Colonel can stop this wish now.
Hannibal turned his back on Face and leapt to his feet, “I don’t want it! Of course I don’t want it! Why would I want Murdock in that place? BA forced to run drugs just to protect his family? And Face like this?” He shook his head. “I don’t want that wish General! Make it stop, I want my men back!”
And then came the bang. It was so loud, coming quite unexpected and from right behind Hannibal, that it knocked him to the ground.
Face! Noooo! His mind let out a silent scream as he fell, landing hard in the sand and getting a face full of grit.
He looked up, not wanting to look behind him, not trusting to what he might see, and found himself back at the perimeter fence and totally alone. No Eisenhower. No Patton. He risked a glance over his shoulder, and no Face. Thank god.
Another bang split the night air and the sky was lit with colour as shouts of ‘Happy Christmas!’ filled the camp.
Midnight. Christmas Day.
Hannibal struggled to his feet. He needed to see his boys.
It took him four minutes to run back to his quarters and he burst in, making Murdock jump as the pilot was sweeping sand over towards the door.
“Colonel! Sir! Sorry sir, we’ve not quite done yet, but-“ he was frozen in his words as Hannibal grabbed Murdock’s head in his hands and tilted his face back to see his eyes.
“You okay there son?” the concern was obvious in Hannibal’s voice, “You feeling alright? Everything okay?”
Murdock was pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing and it was driving BA up the wall. “Quit it already, fool,” he grumbled out of his Popular Mechanics magazine. “It’s all set up, you need to relax an’ let them handle it now.”
But Murdock didn’t stop his pacing, and even started chewing on his fingers as well, the stress clear in every line of his face. “But maybe we aint done the right thing here, Bosco? I mean Face was pretty pissed with us an’ Hannibal has been lookin’ all sad all day thinking that we forgot his birthday an’ maybe they had plans for tonight an’ things have been pretty quiet up there since Face stopped hollering an’” He stopped dead as he walked into BA’s massive chest and before he could think of something else to worry about, his mouth was taken in a hard fast kiss and he even forgot that he was stressed to high heaven about the gift that he and BA had got for Hannibal’s birthday.
Hannibal slammed the car door and looked up at the team’s latest house, the very dark and silent latest house and despite himself, he felt down.
He’d asked the boys not to make a big fuss of his birthday, not to go to ridiculous lengths, but that fact that they hadn’t that his birthday had almost passed by in a huge cloud of silence was actually much more upsetting than he really imagined it ever could be.
It wasn’t like they hadn’t given him a card each over breakfast, or that Face hadn’t woken him up with a truly spectacular blow job or even that he hadn’t got presents (although he did wonder who would be using his new aftershave the most, him or Face who had already put a quick splash on when he thought Hannibal wasn’t looking.) No, the boys hadn’t ignored his birthday and they had done exactly what he’d asked them to by keeping it all low key, but he’d really hoped for a nice meal together or at least a few beers and a takeaway watching some crappy TV – coming home to find the house in darkness was disappointing to say the least.
He trudged into the hallway and stood listening, suddenly wondering if they were all in the den, waiting to jump out on him with streamers and balloons and pizza and beer, but when he opened the door to nothing but silence and darkness, the last thread of patience he had with his day snapped and he turned on is heel ready to do nothing more than go to bed and forget this whole, god awful day.
Face always thought of himself as a fairly happy go lucky type of guy. There was nothing much that got to him (well, major league betrayal by trusted Generals maybe) but really he took the rough with the smooth and went through life with a smile on his face. But today, well, today he was royally pissed off.
Hannibal’s birthday was an important event for him, all the team’s birthdays were. They were his family, and he loved them, and he knew that it was important that they celebrated birthdays properly, despite what Hannibal might say in a little fit on self sacrifice. But this... no, he had doubts as to whether today constituted a ‘proper’ birthday. He should have known better than to trust Murdock and his crazy ideas and his wonderful present that could be a joint one from the three of them and his ‘trust me Facey, we do this my way and the Bossman will have a birthday he’ll always remember.’
Well, this was a birthday that Face would always remember, but for exactly the wrong reasons...
Hannibal trudged upstairs, past Murdock’s room and the low rumbling giggles he could hear coming from the corporal and the captain, to the room he and Face were sharing and he brightened considerably at the thin strip of yellow showing under the closed door. At least that meant that Face was still awake, at least it meant there might be chance for a quick roll in the hay, even if there hadn’t been spectacular birthday sex on the dining room table as he’d hoped for.
He walked to the door and swung it open and then stopped, almost tripping over his feet in the doorway as she stared into the room before him.
He was facing the bed, the huge wrought iron four-poster bed that had had Face and Murdock physically fighting to be the first one to touch all four of the walls and successfully call ‘dibs’ on the room (Murdock’s rules). The white duvet was turned down at the foot of the bed, leaving the pristine white sheets on display, sprinkled artistically with a smattering of blood red, beautifully fragrant rose petals. There was a wine chiller on the bedside table, a bottle of champagne ready and waiting along with two glasses and a fresh tube of his favourite lube, the one that tingled just ever so slightly.
And then of course there was Face. His beautiful, loving, generous, happy boy, lying on the bed with such a scowl of annoyance that Hannibal couldn’t help but laugh. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was that had upset his poor boy that badly... He wondered if it was the cuffs holding his wrists up to the posts either side of the head of the bed, or maybe the soft leather straps fastening his ankles to the corresponding posts at the end, opening him up beautifully to Hannibal’s eager gaze. But he thought not, Face was no stranger to bondage games and was always an eager player.
So maybe it was the gag, the shiny black PVC bit in his mouth that was stopping him from voicing his obvious displeasure at whatever it was prickling his patience right now, but no, Hannibal conceded, cocking his head to one side as he felt himself hardening more inside his jeans with every passing second, it wasn’t that at all, it had to be the bow. And the sign.
The blood red bow, the same shade exactly as the rose petals that was fastened around the base of his, very interested looking cock, totally negating the scowl on his face, and the sign that said ‘Happy Birthday Bossman! Enjoy your gift, love James and Bosco xxx’ that was nestling just under his freshly shaved balls.
Hannibal ignored what was left of that rapidly deflating scowl as he unfastened his jeans and prepared for deployment, smiling at his beautiful boy before him, “Oh, Face,” he whispered, his voice rough with pure lust. “You have no idea how fucking delicious you look like that,” he shook his head as he dropped his trousers, “so, incredibly beautiful.” That chased away the rest of the scowl and in its place was the open look of love that Hannibal adored.
“Love you so much, baby,” he whispered as he climbed onto the bed at Face’s ankles. “And I am gonna have such fun proving it to you...”
Face’s eyes slid shut at the first feel on tongue on skin and as rational thought became harder and harder (along with another part of his body...) he began to think that maybe Murdock hadn’t had such a bad idea after all.
Murdock sighed and looked up from his bare feet to the bare walls in his bare room, and then back to the bare bed, the only sheet having been removed forty minutes ago when he had threatened to fashion himself a rope out of it and escape through his third floor window. It had been an idle threat at that, just a way for him to vent some frustration over the whole stupid incident, because, really what was the point in even trying to escape unless he knew where the guys were? And since his telephone privileges had been removed, he hadn’t been able to talk to them in days.
He sighed again. All this because of the disappearing act he pulled last week when the team wanted him to jolly over to Dallas with them while they tracked down an errant son who had disappeared with the family jewels and a rather older woman. They’d thought he’d like a trip back to his old stomping grounds, see the sights, feel the heat, and they were right, but it was seeing the guys that had been the real thrill of the week. Four days and four nights where he didn't feel like a patient or a vet or a crazy guy, when he just felt like one of the team, old HM Murdock, back in the fold. It had been great.
Not so great when he got back though. The three months that he’d so far spent in this particular VA hadn’t taught him that it was impolite to disappear for a few days without squaring it with them first. He’d got that message loud and clear though when they threw him into solitary the day he wandered back in off the streets and then took away privilege after privilege until all he had left were his pyjama bottoms. And it was cold; it was December, and even in LA it was damn cold. He sighed again. He shouldn’t have fought them, shouldn’t have let them get a rise out of him.
It was just like it had been in the camp, when the guards would try to get under your skin just to see you explode. Hannibal always told him to let it go, that it wasn’t worth it, that he shouldn’t play their games. But he couldn’t there and he couldn’t now, it was just the way he was made up, and it’s not like Hannibal ever practised what he preached either...
But no, he wasn’t going to think anymore about that tonight. It was Christmas Eve for goodness sake, he should just be grateful that they hadn’t shot him up with something and concentrate on thinking about the guys and what there were doing for Christmas and how much better it all would have been if Hannibal had listened to Face’s constant whining and let Murdock stay with them over the Holiday.
He looked at the dark patch of sky visible through his window and tried to see if he could make out a sleigh zooming through the stars, but he couldn’t. When he was a child he’d lost count of the Christmas Eve’s when he had been certain, completely certain with no shadow of a doubt that he had seen a tiny little sleigh flashing across the sky above him – but comments like that only got him laughed at by everyone he told, until he told Face of course.
He thought of that night now, the heat of the jungle dark, the sounds of the insects and the frogs and he and Face laid on the bonnet of a jeep, sharing cigarettes and seeing Christmas Day in together.
“You ever seen the red guy then Face?” Murdock could remember the whole conversation in his head as if it had happened only yesterday not over two long years ago.
Face had laughed, that bitter, cynical laugh that he used to use all the time back then and taken a long drag on the cigarette.
“Father Christmas doesn’t come to poor orphan children Murdock, I thought you knew that?”
Murdock had turned, and looked at the handsome, fresh faced officer at his side and wondered how life had managed to turn someone so young into a soul so very old. “No?” he said instead. “You never got presents left at the end of your beds?”
“We got presents,” Face’s eyes were so very far away as they stared into the muggy, starless sky. “But it’s kind of hard to leave them surreptitiously at the end of every bed in a forty bed dormitory. You can bet your last candy cane that someone is awake at any point of the whole night.”
Murdock studied him for a moment, watching the way his eyes softened at the memories he was guarding so very zealously in his head. “So?” he prompted.
“So we got them after mass, if we’d been good enough, sat still enough, joined in enough,” he shrugged. “I have to admit I missed a couple of presents over the years, but generally, yeah, I got something.”
Silence fell once more as Face kept the cigarette to himself and his eyes on the sky, and if it wasn’t for the way his hand shook ever so slightly as he drew on the nicotine stick, Murdock would have thought the conversation was easy for him. “What was your best present then?” he asked, his own eyes alight at the thought of the little crossbred puppy he’d found at the end of his bed the morning of his seventh Christmas.
Face sighed as he exhaled and for a minute Murdock thought he’d pushed too far and that Face would retreat, turtle like, into his hard and impenetrable shell once more but then he shrugged and said, “I dunno, Murdock, you get one geometry set, you find it hard to get excited about another right? But anyway,” he continued smoothly before Murdock had chance to respond, “we were talking about Father Christmas, you seen him then buddy?”
Murdock turned back to the flat black sky and allowed Face his deft switch of topics before smiling up at the heavens, lost in his own treasured memories, “Yeah,” he said, his voice drifting, “three or four times actually. I think the farm was on his flight path or somethin’, ‘cos he flew right over head more than once. Even waved at me one night when I was twelve.” And then he froze because this was the point when people laughed at him and if he was lucky, he was able to pass it off as a joke, but if he was unlucky, well, that was never nice.
He looked over to Face, wondering how this was going to go, wondering if this was one foray into crazy too many for his rather flighty best buddy, but Face had only turned to face him and smiled, not a hard, cynical smile, but a wistful, gentle one, one that took years off him and made him look like the little boy he still was inside. “Yeah?” Even his voice was wistful. “You are one lucky dude there Murdock. Fuck, I would have done anything for a chance to see him like that...”
And that had been the moment over. Just after that, the heavens had opened, and as much as it didn’t force them back indoors, the pounding of the water put a stop to conversation right up until the point that Hannibal came looking for them and ordered them back to their hooch with a scowl on his face that they both knew was mainly put on.
Murdock smiled. He would give anything to be back on that jeep now, sweating and covered in mosquito bites, knowing that every day could be their last, just to be able to spend it with Face. He smiled and looked back at the square of night sky wondering if Santa was going to make an appearance for him tonight and wondering if Face was looking up at the same bit of sky too.
Suddenly, the whole sky lit up. Murdock frowned as the thick black dark was flooded with orange, then blue, then green, then white and he got up off the bed, guessing that there were fireworks off in the distance somewhere. The sky was empty though, and it was only when he looked down that he froze, his heart suddenly pounding in his chest.
There beneath him, where the grass of the gardens should be, it was white, a real life marshmallow world. If Murdock didn't know better, if he didn’t know that it never, ever snowed in downtown LA, he really would have thought it was a genuine winter wonderland; the white fluffiness was fairly convincing, but the three snowmen standing there would have tipped the balance for sure. The flashing fairy lights strung from every tree suddenly caught his eye as music boomed out from a hidden sound system and Murdock smiled as ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ abruptly filled the night air.
He smiled and his eyes fell on the scene below as the doors from the rec room flew open and swarms of patients and staff alike fell upon the white stuff with a mad glee, making snowballs and snow angels and walking up to the three snowman, laughing and pointing. Murdock followed their stares and looked hard at the snowmen for the first time, noting the cigar in the mouth of the first, the bristly hair running down the head of the third and the beaming smile on the face of the third. He laughed out loud and settled in at the window to watch the fun below, perfectly content in his own company now, perfectly happy to sit this one out and wait, perfectly convinced that his three closest friends were thinking of him just as he was thinking of them on this one special night of the year, perfectly prepared to moan at the colonel until he agreed to take them all skiing somewhere for a weekend in the New Year.
Perfectly aware that he didn’t actually need to be with them to be any closer to them than he already was.
No particular warnings. 2,957 words. Written for Reawakening2010.
It had been a routine job, cheating spouse, not the type of thing we like to take on at all, but things were slow, and Face had said we’d needed the money so I’d swallowed my pride and accepted, but it hadn’t been good. Ugly, was probably a better word for it; a whole week of following the philandering husband around, filming, in stereo sound and glorious Technicolor, all of his various male conquests, and then, when my suspicions were aroused by the poorly disguised glee of the betrayed wife when told of our findings, a quick tail job later and we discovered that she was up to the exact same thing.
Result? No one got paid, a whole week of time and resources and wasted, and everyone feeling just about as low as they possibly could.
The drive back to the house we were currently ‘borrowing’ was strained to say the least. Murdock was babbling, like a mountain stream he was going on and on and on about everything and nothing in a sad, desperate attempt to lighten the mood. BA was blazing angry, he’d spent a whole week bitching about the unfaithful husband, wondering how a family man could treat his wife like that, wanting a few minutes alone with the guy to show him the error of his ways and then the truth of the matter had hit him harder than a steaming train. Face was sullen; I figured he was feeling guilty about pushing us into the whole gig in the first place, but then, I mused, he’d been off all week, locking himself in his room as soon as we got back, taking even longer in the shower than he usually did... Weird.
“Let’s go out tonight,” I blurted in my own, sad, Murdockian attempt to lift their spirits.
For a second there was nothing but a stunned silence, until Murdock, predictably, was the first to break. “Oooh, yes! Yes! Let’s! Let’s do that, bossman, let’s go out and bowl some bowls and eat some fries and then hit the movies and scoff some popcorn! That sounds pretty cool!”
I frowned, “That wasn’t quite what I had in mind, Captain.”
“No?” This was Face, speaking for the first time since we had left the client’s house. “What did you have in mind then, boss?”
Turning where I sat I looked at him where he lounged in his seat in the back of the van. He was still being odd, maybe sullen wasn’t the right word but there was something off about his tone, something very, very, off. “I don’t know,” I shrugged, “Club maybe?” he looked impassively at me. “Maybe we’ll get lucky?” I added, trying to tempt him.
Incredibly it seemed to have exactly the opposite effect. “Nah,” he said dismissively and turned his face to stare out of the window. BA remained in a furious silence beside me while I could almost feel Murdock deflating like a man-shaped balloon in the seat across from Face and, defeated for now, I turned back to the dark road outside.
It was no better when we got back to the house; BA disappeared straight into the gym the owners had set up in their cellar, Face into the shower, and Murdock into the world of Halo. Leaving me to unpack the contents of the van.
It was nothing I had planned at all, my mind was on Face, mulling over his current flighty mood, wondering what had triggered him off this time and trying not to even consider why everything he said, did, wore, ate, looked at, smelled of, smiled at, or shagged bothered me so damn much... and then I saw the camera.
We’d got it especially for this mission; it was tiny, about as big as a Lego brick and damned good quality. Wireless technology, crystal clear pictures and perfect sound, and this last week we had spent days upon days creating file after file of the client’s husband shagging his way through most of the male population of Beverly Hills.
Like I said, I never planned a thing, honestly, one minute it was in my hand, and then suddenly it was tucked under the flat screen at the end of Face’s bed, seconds before he came out of the shower and locked himself in his room, and then I was in my room down the hall, and my laptop was switched on and then... well...
He was sat on his bed, leaning up against the headboard, and I thought for a minute that he might be watching the TV as he was looking almost straight at the camera, but then he dropped his eyes and looked down, and with a start, I realised that, although fully dressed, he had has jeans shoved down around his knees. I should have just slammed the lid of the laptop down at that point but of course I didn’t, I couldn’t, I mean, shit... a view like that, you tell me, how many people in this world, male and female wouldn’t have stared?
So I did. I sat, probably open mouthed and drooling, while he took hold of his half hard cock in his hands and just looked at it. If that had been it I could have maybe forced myself not to watch anymore, but just as that thought struck me, he started to move. It was slow at first, a squeeze up, a squeeze down, his other hand moving around to rub and play with his balls, and that was me hooked. I felt my own cock thickening in response and had to swallow around the sudden dryness in my throat as he spread his legs as wide as the material of his jeans would allow and let out a long low moan, head tipping back onto the wall.
I don’t think I have ever moved as fast in my entire life, and that includes the time I saw that sniper get a bead on me from the rooftop in Fallujah. Before I knew it, my combats were in a pool around my boots on the carpet, my boxers with them and my hand was frantically working on my own cock as my eyes were fixed to the screen of the laptop.
Face was looking down again now, slowly working his cock up and down with one hand as he circled the head with the flat palm of the other, watching himself intently all the while. He whispered something I couldn’t quite hear, followed by a breathy moan of ‘oh yeah’ which went straight down to the root of my cock. I leaned forward.
After a few minutes of this, when I could see that he was starting to pant and his cheeks were beautifully flushed, he took away his palmed hand and reached into the drawer of the nightstand, pulling out a little tube and squirting something into the palm of his hand. I watched, transfixed as he rubbed his hands together, and then reached down and took hold of his cock once more, in both hands this time and started the slow steady stroking once more, a little faster than before maybe, and the wet squelching sound his movements made on the now shining skin of his dick had me gasping and tightening my grip on my own throbbing cock.
He shifted back a little and drew his knees up, tilting his hips a little in my direction and giving me an incredible view of his balls and the dark space underneath. My own hand sped up again, I stared transfixed, trying to remember the last time I had the privilege of seeing a man like this, spread out and wanting and reached down to fondle my tightening sack at the exact same second he mimicked my actions in the room down the hallway.
For a few, glorious seconds our hands were in perfect synch, but then I couldn’t keep up that pace, not when his fingers started to trail further down, underneath those perfect, neat balls, down into the space below, searching, searching for his secret entrance. At first I sped up, desperate, almost frantic stroking that would have me coming all over the floor in seconds, but then I stopped altogether, ripping my hand off my aching flesh as I felt that incredible tightening start and knew I was seconds, just seconds away from completion, and I couldn’t do that, not before him.
Blinking the sweat from my eyes, I left my dripping dick alone to calm, while I stared open mouthed at his trailing hand. The camera may have been good, but it wasn’t good enough to see into that dark space. It didn’t matter though, as I could tell the exact second when he’d found and breeched his hole as his jaw went slack and he let out the most incredible erotic groan I have ever heard in my entire life.
“Oh, god...” I heard his gasp and then the hand on his cock went wild. I couldn’t move at all. My own dick was twitching madly, dripping pre-come onto my thigh but I couldn’t even reach out and grab it I was so absorbed by what I saw. His eyes were screwed tightly closed, mouth agape as he frantically jerked himself off, one long finger pushing rhythmically into his hole. “Oh, god...” he repeated, speeding up even faster, “Oh, yes, please, please, take me, take me...”
His words almost made my own hand redundant, I’ve never been so close to coming untouched in my whole life, but then he was the one who came, heels digging deep into the duvet, hips lifting up into fresh air, spurts of semen splattering audibly onto his stomach where his t-shirt had ridden up and those incredible breathy little pleas, “Oh, please, please, please, Hannibal, boss, take me, please!” and I slammed the laptop shut in horror.
For a second I couldn’t even breathe, my cock, hard as steel, but no longer pulsing as it waited for my lust clouded mind to make some sense out of all this. Could he see me? Watching him jerk off like that? Getting myself off on his private pleasure? But no, that was ridiculous, how on earth could he possibly see me? So, no, if it wasn’t that, then did he know I had planted the camera? But again, no, he’d been in the bathroom right down the hall when I had done it, and I knew it was well hidden, right under the base of the TV stand.
So what did that leave? He couldn’t see me, he didn’t know I was watching so that only meant he... wanted me?
That thought was like an erotic punch to the gut and had my cock jumping right back into the game and demanding completion. But no, not now, I couldn’t do that anymore, not when I had just seen, heard what I had heard... In three frantic seconds I had dragged my boots off, yanked my trousers back up, shoving my reluctant hard-on back inside, and was almost sprinting down the hallway to Face’s room. Without a pause for even a breath, I lifted my foot and slammed my heel into the wood just where I knew the lock was, wrenching it right off the door frame and swinging the whole thing wide open.
Face was laid on the bed in exactly the same position he had been when I had slammed the laptop shut, but now his legs were flopped down into the duvet, still wide open but boneless, and his flushed face had looked sated and heavy, but not now. The second the door had flown open he had jumped up, fear, shame and guilt chasing away all that satisfaction and I wasn’t about to have that.
“B-boss?” he stammered, trying desperately to pull his jeans up over sweaty legs and I kicked the door shut behind me as I held onto his eyes.
“I want you,” I told him, stopping both his stammering and tugging in the same second. “I want to kiss you, and hold you and make love with you.” He just stared at me and I suddenly began to wonder if this was such a great idea. I froze.
Time seemed to stand still and we just stared at each other, my interested member suddenly starting to flag in the face of his distinct lack of reaction and I took a step back. “Fucking hell...” I muttered, suddenly feeling utterly, utterly stupid and took another step back towards the door.
“No!” he all but shouted, rising instantly onto his knees, jeans still pushed down, t-shirt hitched up and I couldn’t help but look, watch as almost before my eyes his cock was starting to harden once more and he held a shaking hand out towards me. “Please,” he whispered in the same voice as before which had my cock twitching right back to life, “please boss, don't go.”
I didn’t need asking twice. I was on him in a second, almost wrestling him to the bed as our mouths found each other in a messy, brutal, frantic kiss. We struggled to strip each other, but after he almost dislocated my shoulder in his enthusiastic tugging of my shirt and I had only managed to tangled his ankles up in his jeans he breathed, “Oh, fuck it, boss,” against my mouth immediately followed by a breathy, “just take me now,” in my ear. I almost lost it again right there and then, but instead managed to reel myself back in, as he shifted beneath me and I jammed a pillow under his hips before grabbing hold of myself with a shaking fist and lining myself up and then we stopped.
It was at that second that our eyes met and suddenly reality intruded into our private little bubble of lust. It struck me what we were about to do, I was about to fuck my one time protégé, my current XO, one of my very best friends in the whole world, and after we had done this, life would never be the same again. I just stared at him, worried, wary.
Then his hand was on my face, his beautiful blue eyes shining up at me. “Please,” he whispered, “I love you boss, you know I do. I’ll make this work,” and I was overwhelmed with incredible sadness that he would think like that.
“No,” I whispered back, leaning in to kiss the tip of his nose as his eyes slid shut in dismay, “We’ll make this work, kid, ‘cause you know I love you too.” And I did, of course I did. How had I never realised that before? This obsession I had with him and every aspect of his life, how had I ever thought of it as anything other than love?
His eyes opened again, brilliant blue and shining with both tears and love and I pushed in, holding his gaze as I did, realising for the first time that he was no stranger to this act and biting down my irrational hatred of all who had come before me. He must have seen something in my face though, as just as I slid that last inch home and my eyes closed in bliss, his hand was there on my cheek and I looked at him again. “You’re the only one I’ve ever let in bareback boss,” he whispered, “I’ve been saving that for you.”
And that was the straw that broke my control. I surged in; grabbing his mouth with mine and kissing him hard and raw as my hips started thrusting wildly. I’d been so close before while I’d been watching him on the laptop, that I knew this was not going to be a good reflection of my skill in this area, but right at that moment, shit, it was hard to care.
I lifted my head and then he was moaning beneath me, his own head pushed back into the pillows again, eyes screwed shut, whispering the words that had almost undone me minutes before, “Oh, yes, please, please, take me, take me...” and I did, hard and fast and almost brutal until, when I fisted his cock just once, he shook apart underneath me, coming again, spurting semen onto my hand and his stomach, his hole twitching around me and pulling me over with him.
“Iloveyou,Iloveyou,Iloveyou,Iloveyou,” I chanted over and over into his neck as I emptied myself within him and then I felt his arms tighten around my back as I slumped down on top of him, limp and totally exhausted.
For maybe ten long minutes, neither of us moved, but then I felt him shift below me and I knew I must be crushing him and so I shuffled onto my hip on the duvet next to him and found him looking at me, eyes guarded and nervous. I cupped his face, knowing him better than I know myself and instantly seeing the direction his thoughts would have taken. “I do, Face,” I told him earnestly, “I’ve loved you forever, only just worked it out tonight though.”
Another couple of seconds passed as he pondered those words, weighed them up in his head and then he smiled, my favourite smile of his, the one I knew was totally genuine, right from the very bottom of his heart. “You have?” he asked and I nodded, “So what tipped you off then?” he asked innocently and I just leant in to kiss him once more, effectively silencing him and changing the subject and wondering how on earth I was going to ever tell him that story...
5,860 words. No particular warnings.
Face stood at the top of the quarry and looked down; squinting into the setting sun as he tried to work out what was going on. He’d done his job, taken out the stragglers as they’d come in from the west, they were now tied back to back on the dusty ground next to his ruined jeep. And that was something he was incredibly pissed about, he was only supposed to be borrowing the damn thing until tomorrow, but now he knew he’d never be able to show his face around that parking lot again, and they’d always let him borrow such cool cars.
He frowned as indistinct shouts drifted over from the far side of the quarry and Face made his mind up. Something wasn’t right, they should have been done by now, had the whole situation tied up along with the drug runners who were using this quarry to hide their gear and bury their enemies. The sun made it hard to see, but Face realised that Hannibal’s plan may not be proceeding as smoothly as they would have liked, nothing new there then, he tucked his gun into the back of his jeans and walked past his squirming captives to haul the rope from the jeep.
Of course if those bastards hadn’t shot his engine up, he could simply have driven around to the other side of the quarry and down the track there into the bottom, but no, that was impossible now, even if he ran flat out it would take him at least fifteen minutes to get around and then down, far too long to be of help. He needed to go over the edge and straight across the floor of the quarry, that way he’d be close enough to lend a hand in about five minutes.
Ignoring the squirming drug runners who were no doubt wishing him to hell from behind their gags, he rooted about in the back of the jeep and came out with three lengths of rope. The first, he made sure was secure in its skein and then slung it across his chest, pulling one arm though to make sure it wouldn’t fall while he was rappelling down. The second, he tied into a loop and then stepped into it, pulling three further loops, one from each side of his waist and one from between his legs, tugging them all tight and tying the loops off in front on him, right up against his belly. Finally he took the third rope and secured it to the towing loop on the back of the jeep, threaded it through the loop on the front of his improvised harness then wound it around his hips once before leaving the excess in a skein in his left hand. Then, with a broad smile to the men watching him from the shade of the jeep, he walked to the edge of the quarry and stepped over.
Face liked rappelling, he liked anything that got his adrenalin flowing, but he always preferred using a proper harness than these improvised things that threatened to cut off the blood supply to very, very important areas. With a smile on his lips at that thought and what Hannibal would say about it, he continued his descent, faster than he probably should do, feeling the setting sun on his back and the warm wind in his hair.
Then he felt the jolt and all enjoyment of the situation abruptly vanished. He stopped and looked up, his heart speeding up as the saw the old rope up above him, wearing itself thin as it rubbed on a jagged outcropping of rock. He frowned and skipped sideways, feeling the harness biting into his things and butt, trying to dislodge the rope from the snag, but managing instead to cut through another few threads of safety. He looked down, still about seventy meters to go, he’d die for sure if he fell that far, landing on the jagged boulders below and his heart speeded up even more.
He looked up, wondering how quickly he could climb back out, but realised that was a non-starter the second he reached out to take a hold of the sides of the quarry and they just crumbled under his fingers. He stopped, forced himself not to panic and looked around for some inspiration before he fell to his certain death. And then he saw it, another five meters to his left and slightly above him, just about reachable if the rope held out, a sapling, growing right out of a crevice in the rocks and Face hoped it was holding on as tightly as looked like it was.
Holding his breath, knowing that at any second he could fall, he edges sideways, ignoring the thought of the fraying rope and concentrating on that tiny tree instead. Once he gauged he was in reaching distance he had to stop himself from making a mad leap and grab for it, instead keeping his pace as fast as he could, but steady, until he was close enough to wrap his hand around the slender trunk, right down near the base of the tree.
He breathed a sigh of relief and felt his heart calm slightly as he anchored his feet to the sides, letting the sapling slowly take his weight as he fumbled to one handedly unwind the spare rope from his chest and shoulder. It was awkward, without letting go, Face couldn’t get it over his shoulder easily, and instead had to unwind it, loop by loop, reluctant to trust the now very frayed first rope with any of his weight at all. Eventually he was done, feeling the wind cooling the nervous sweat from his back, Face started to wrap the new rope around the base of the sapling, looping his elbow over the smooth bark so that he had two hands free with which to tie it off, and then the last thing that would make him safe, looping it around his chest, right up under his arms, twisting the rope so that it would slide as he descended.
Finally done. He slowly eased his aching arm off the sapling and let the rope around his chest take the weight now; keeping his feet braced against the quarry walls, and sighed with relief when the tree, the ropes and his feet all held up.
Deciding to keep the original harness on as a safety, Face started edging down again, very slowly this time, little shuffling steps, letting the rope biting into his back and underarms take his weight, knowing that each second took him closer and closer to safety.
He was making good progress, still just over about forty meters to go when his foot slipped as the rock crumbled beneath him. His body twisted with the force of the jolt and the makeshift harness jumped up, yanking Face’s arm up with it, twisting it up and back and Face could feel it slowly, slowly being dragged right out of its socket. The pain was excruciating, and biting back the agonised scream he wanted to yell out, Face thought and moved quickly. He tightened his original harness and let it take his weight again, knowing it only needed to hold for a few seconds as he freed his trapped arm and then wrapped the chest harness back on, just slightly lower this time.
Bracing his feet on a solid bit of wall, he leaned down into his hips, feeling the ropes around his thighs as they took his weight, biting into his skin, and relaxed the tension on the top rope, freeing his arm and loosening the whole rope around his upper body.
It all happened so fast from there on, that Face could never really understand what had happened. But just at the point when he was sliding his good arm out of the improvised high harness as well, the initial rope attached to his waist finally snapped. It was poor timing, another couple of seconds and Face would have been able to reattach his second makeshift harness and he wouldn’t have fallen at all, as it was, one minute he was held up by his hips, manoeuvring his new harness into place, the next he was falling, only to have his momentum brought up short as the second rope went taut, slipping up and over his shoulder, and snagging tight around his neck.
The shock was horrific, and for a second panic took over as Face’s hands went to the rope biting into his neck and his legs kicked out frantically, looking for somewhere to take his weight, but there was nothing, he couldn’t even feel the quarry walls anymore. Then he realised that his desperate thrashing was only tightening the rope even further and he forced himself to be still, fingers desperately clawing at the tight rope, trying to prise it from his skin, but it wasn’t going anywhere.
It was fortunate it had tightened so high, right up under his chin, forcing his head up to stare at the sky, a deeper blue now evening was approaching, because instead of snapping his neck or his windpipe in one go, it was only slowly, slowly choking him, crushing the delicate tube a little more, second by second, and Face could almost hear the damn clock ticking in his head.
He realised that he was never going to be able to get his fingers under the tight tourniquet of the rope and so made a desperate grab for the bit above him instead. He found it on his third attempt and grabbed on tightly with both hands, ignoring the pain that flared through his wrenched shoulder. The muscles in his arms bulged with the strain, but he eventually managed to pull himself up a couple of inches, taking the pressure off the lower end of the rope, but almost sobbing in despair as it didn’t alter the tension around his windpipe at all.
Holding on tight with his good hand, he let go with his left, and, gritting his teeth with the pain, tried again with his desperate fingers, trying to open the knot, loosen the rope, but by now he was sweating the cold, sharp sweat of fear, and his blood was pounding loudly in his ears and there was a dark haze just around the edges of his vision.
The rope wasn’t moving, far too tight for his desperate, scrabbling fingers to shift, so he gave up, still holding his weight in his now trembling right arm, Face groped about for his gun with the other, thinking he would shoot through the rope and then pull himself up, arm over arm, until he got back to that tree where he could loop his arm over and use both hands to free his neck. But his hands were shaking now, his fingers slick with sweat and one minute the comforting butt of the gun was in his hands, the next it wasn’t, and he couldn’t even hear the sounds of it crashing against the boulders at the base of the cliff for the terrified pounding in his head.
That’s when the panic came back with vengeance. Face realised that he had nothing left up his sleeve; he had one busted arm which must have come right out of its socket now as he couldn’t even move it, one arm that was spasming in reaction to the stress it was under holding his weight like it was. The rope around his neck was so tight he couldn’t swallow and his vision was darkening more with every second; he was dying and he knew it.
He didn’t want to die, he was only thirty nine for god’s sake, he had so much he’d wanted to do with his life, like finally clear their names completely, be offered reinstatement only to turn it down, to have a life where he wouldn’t have to run and hide, run from the military or hide what he felt about Hannibal. Hannibal... his boss, his lover, his best friend and his soul mate. What would it do to John to find Face hanging here like this? Dead. Features purple and bloated, his bowels and bladder emptied all over himself, killed because he’d been reckless, stupid, just like Hannibal had always said he would...
Face felt his heart kick into overdrive even as his hand slipped and the rope tightened even more. He fought as much as he could, one good arm flailing for a grip on the rope again, feet kicking for purchase in the rocks he could now feel scraping against his back and shoulders, but it did no good.
He’d always thought that you were supposed to see flashes of your past life go through your head when you died, things you’d done, seen, experienced. But Face didn’t, he saw the things he should have done, the things that he would have no chance for now. A house by the beach that he and Hannibal could call theirs, a Christmas morning, just the two of them in bed, exchanging gifts, a whole lifetime of kisses and touches and love that was lost to them forever.
His heart broke, and then it gave out, and with a last whisper of breath - Face died.
Death was warm, he decided later on. And comfortable, and he hoped that meant he’d gone upstairs and not down below where he’d always secretly felt he’d really deserved to be, but then he felt the fire in his throat and wondered if they were still deciding where to put him.
His eyes felt heavy, but he forced them open, seeing flames in a fireplace that terrified him, shutting them again and wondering where Father David was, whether all the praying he’d done for Face throughout his life had been a colossal waste of time and then he heard a voice, one he never thought he’d hear again.
“Hey, it’s okay sweetheart, don’t panic, you’re safe.” And Face did panic because if Hannibal was here then he was dead too and that couldn’t happen, that couldn’t ever happen, because Face swore he’d never let it, and then he remembered the quarry and the shouting and how Face was going over to help before he got himself all tangled up and because of that Hannibal had been killed, and it was the only thing he was supposed to have done, just protected him and he couldn’t even do that and then the tears were flowing from his eyes but Hannibal was wiping them away, his own voice full of tears and pain and Face wondered how he could still cry when he was dead.
“Face, baby, please,” Hannibal’s voice was broken, and Face couldn’t stand it, hated what he’d done to his man, “please don't cry, I can’t cope with that, please, open your eyes and look at me, please, baby, please...”
And of course Face did because how could he ever not do something Hannibal asked of him? And there was the boss, looking filthy and scared and old and alive and Face just stared at him, “John?” he whispered, feeling the knives in his throat at his words.
“Oh, Temp,” Hannibal whispered, almost falling on top of Face is his relief, holding a hand tightly to his face, his own tears soaking into the crisp white dressing. “Oh, thank god,” he whispered leaning in to brush his lips over Face’s, “thank god you are okay.”
Face watched him, distressed beyond words at John’s tears and his whole broken demeanour, “I’m okay?” he croaked, “I’m not dead?”
Hannibal lifted up and looked down at him, the tiniest hint of a smile taking years off him, adding strength and turning him back into the man that Face recognised. “No, sweetheart, you’re not,” but then it was all gone, replaced by pain and fear once more. “But you were, Jesus Face,” he shook his head, terror lurking in his eyes, “BA climbed up that wall himself and lowered you down and when we got you to the bottom you weren’t breathing, your heart had stopped, your eyes were just staring...”
And Hannibal choked to a stop, grabbing Face fiercely, sending waves of pain through his damaged shoulder, but Face didn’t care because pain meant he was alive he hadn’t left John alone, all those futures he’d seen? He could still have those, still give his man the future he deserved. Face clung onto him with both his arms, even the one that hurt like hell to move because Hannibal was crying now, hard and fast into Face’s neck and Face could feel the salt in the tears burning his torn skin, “I’m sorry,” he whispered, knowing he’d done this to Hannibal, feeling the heat from his own tears as they slid down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry...”
“Don’t leave me,” Hannibal whispered, hard against his neck before sitting up and scrubbing at his face, making an effort to get himself together, “Templeton please,” he said fiercely looking straight into Face’s eyes, “please don’t ever leave me.”
Face wanted to say he wouldn’t, of course he did, but he hadn’t wanted to go in that quarry either, and he’d fought as hard as he could, tried everything he could think of, but if BA hadn’t got to him, if the big guy had been maybe thirty seconds slower, maybe he would never have come back. He just stared instead and Hannibal smiled that sad smile again, knowing exactly what was in Face’s head.
He reached down and stroked back the dirty curls that were flopping over his forehead. “Look after yourself then,” he whispered, voice more like the boss now, “stop taking risks, being so damn reckless with yourself,” they just stared at each other. “You don’t seem to realise that you hold my entire life in your heart.”
Face closed his eyes but felt the warm tears leak out anyway. He did now, and he hated himself for what he’d put the boss through. But then the bed dipped and there was a warm and heavy weight behind him, and a hand loosely over his abs, and a mouth at his neck, gently ghosting warm air over the thick angry rope burn. “Go to sleep, my love,” Hannibal whispered. “Once Murdock and BA wake up, you won’t get any peace, so enjoy it for now,” Face felt sleep calling him but he immediately tensed, suddenly utterly terrified that he wouldn’t wake up if he allowed himself to drift off. “It’s okay,” Hannibal soothed, feeling the tension in his body, “I’ve got you baby, you need to sleep, to heal, and I will be right here all the time, I’ll make sure you come back again, alright? I’ll always make sure you come back again.”
So Face let himself, go and as he did he could feel hard hands on his chest, pushing, pushing, forcing his heart back into life, and lips on his, not tenderly, but hard and desperate, tasting of salty tears as breath was forced down his crushed throat and Face knew that was true. Hannibal and the team had brought him back once; he just had to trust that they would do it again, whenever he needed them to, for whatever reason, and from whatever place.
However... Designation who prompted the original story, also expressed interest in seeing things from the other side of the quarry, so for your reading pleasure, please find posted below... High Stakes from the Team's POV.
Hannibal wiped his hands of dust and grime as BA tied up the very last bad guy and sat him up against the wall with his buddies, under the very careful supervision of one of the locals press ganged into working up here. “Anything from Face yet?” he asked Murdock who’d already moved into the back of the jeep, ready to make their escape. He was mildly irritated that the kid wasn’t here already, going back to pick him up would cost them precious seconds and they needed to call the police sooner rather than later.
“Nothin’ yet, colonel, sir!” Murdock piped up, standing in his seat and pulling binoculars from the side pocket, “I’ll have a little check on him.”
Hannibal nodded, and went through his mental check list one more time, making sure that all the loose ends were tidied up before they took their leave.
“I got him,” Murdock’s lazy drawl pulled him from his thoughts and his irritation kicked up a notch at the amusement in Murdock’s voice. “He’s on his way down to us now,” Murdock reported. “Rappellin’ by the looks of it!”
“He’s what?” Hannibal snapped, furious to think that Face would let his prevarication with extreme sports get in the way of their clean escape. “Give me those!” he swiped the binoculars off Murdock who sat back down in his seat, grin firmly in place. Hannibal stood at the side of the jeep and quickly found what Murdock had been looking at, he was about to swear, to start his rant and wonder what the hell Face thought he was doing, but then he stopped, and frowned, and readjusted the focus.
“What?” Murdock asked, sitting up at once when he recognised that look on his colonel’s face.
“I don’t know,” Hannibal replied thoughtfully. “Something’s not right, he’s-” he cut off sharply and took a step in; Murdock could feel the invisible thread that he always said ran between Hannibal and Face, tighten with a jerk. “BA!” Hannibal yelled, leaping into the front passenger seat, “We need to go now! Face is in trouble!”
BA moved like lightening, vaulting over a pile of pit props stacked outside, he was in the driver’s seat in seconds, turning the engine over and throwing the heavy jeep into gear as Murdock hauled himself up into a standing position hanging onto the roll bar as BA screeched off.
“Eleven o’clock, big guy,” Hannibal told BA sharply, “head for the quarry wall.” He lifted the binoculars again, but the jeep was kicking about far too wildly and creating much too much dust for him to be able to see anything.
“What is it?” Murdock yelled as they bounced onwards, his own eyes unable to pick up anything at all out of the ordinary.
Hannibal took a deep breath and forced himself to remain calm as his brain replayed what it had seen over and over again. By the time he had taken the binoculars from Murdock, Face had been stationary against the quarry wall, about half way down. He was obviously having a few technical difficulties with his gear, and since Hannibal knew they had all the climbing equipment in their jeep, he guessed that Face had rigged himself an improvised harness; he did it all the time, was always so supremely confident in his ability in situations like this that he never listened to Hannibal’s advice and words of warning. But then, Hannibal conceded, the amount of times that Face’s guts, ingenuity and willingness to take a risk had saved their skins definitely outweighed any trouble he’d ever got himself into. But as he’d watched, separated by almost a mile of dusty quarry floor, the unthinkable happened. Suddenly, Face dropped like a stone, only to be brought up short with a jerk and before Hannibal even had the chance to silently congratulate the kid on having a safety line in place, he saw the desperately thrashing legs, and the way that both of Face’s hands were now on his neck and the horrific truth dawned on him as he yelled out for BA to come – the rope was around his neck, he was hanging about forty metres up a rock face with a rope slowly tightening around his neck, if he wasn’t already dead, he had only minutes left to live.
“Hannibal?” Murdock yelled, his own eyes wide in worry and Hannibal pulled himself together.
“He’s fallen,” he replied calmly, far too calmly for a man whose very life was, literally, hanging in front of him. “He had a safety line on, but that’s round his neck now, it’s choking him.” Murdock looked over at the rapidly approaching cliff face but still couldn’t make anything out. “BA,” Hannibal continued, “the second we stop, get a harness on, Murdock and I will rig a rope.”
“There aint no time for a harness, man!” BA yelled, the fear in his voice clear for all to hear.
“No choice,” Hannibal snapped. “You’ve seen the state of these walls; you’ll never get up without one.” After Face, BA was the next best climber, but Hannibal knew that going up without a rope was pointless and dangerous and ultimately no use to Face.
And then they were there. BA brought the jeep to a sharp halt and leapt out stepping straight into the harness that Murdock already had open for him and as the two of them pulled and tugged at straps and webbing, Hannibal grabbed a coil of rope from the back of the jeep and scrambled up the loose rocks at the base of the quarry wall, his neck craning backwards as his terrified eyes took in Face above him. What he saw was equal parts reassuring and terrifying. Face was obviously still with them, Hannibal could see the muscles and tendons of his arm bulging as they fought to keep the weight off his neck, but then he was so high above them, and his other arm was hanging so limply, Hannibal knew they were in deep trouble.
“Face!” he yelled as he unfurled his rope, “Hang on in there, kid, we’re coming for you!” Face didn’t reply, Hannibal wasn’t even sure his words had been heard, but then his eyes caught the sapling up above with the rope secured to it, and knowing there was no other way, swung his own rope to try and loop over it. His first attempt missed and at that exact moment, Face’s good arm finally gave up the fight and he fell another couple of inches, the rope around his neck taking all the weight now. Hannibal watched in horror as Face’s whole body thrashed in pure, unadulterated panic, his feet kicking loose stones down over Hannibal, his arm trying to grab at the rope once more and forcing a calmness he didn’t feel into his own taut limbs, Hannibal threw again, almost crying with relief as the rope caught snug between the slender trunk and the quarry wall.
He swung again, wrapping the rope tightly as he heard BA and Murdock coming up behind him. With one eye on Face’s rapidly weakening struggles, Hannibal watched as Murdock quickly fastened one end of the rope to the harness and then, with Hannibal and Murdock on the other end, BA took off, scrambling up the side of the rock face just as Face’s body stilled, twitched and then hung limply in the evening sun.
“Bosco!” Hannibal screamed, not even recognising his own voice for the terror in it and BA went even faster, kicking stones down in his rush, Hannibal and Murdock holding his weight and praying.
BA had never moved so fast in his entire life, he didn’t feel the stones biting into his fingers, he didn’t feel the pain in his knee as he slipped and crashed into the rock face, all he saw was Face up above him, no longer struggling, just hanging, swaying slightly at the end of that damn rope and he went even faster. Within two minutes he was close enough to touch, even though it had felt a hell of a lot longer. He struggled up for another ten seconds and yelled Face’s name, just as the swinging rope brought them round eye to eye. What he saw then he knew would haunt him until the day he died; Face was dead, his eyes open and staring, his skin purple and mottled, his lips blue, nothing there at all, no life, no spark, nothing. He’d gone.
“BA!” the shout from down below shocked him back into action, even though he had no idea which of his two team mates had yelled it. He wasted no time at all on the rope around Face’s neck, knew that with all his weight on it there was no way that was coming off. All he needed to do was to get Face down to Hannibal and Murdock fast and they would do whatever they could then. He pulled out his knife and quickly cut the rope from his own harness, knowing that left him in terrible danger, but that it was also the quickest way down for his friend. Then he fastened it quickly around Face’s chest, making sure he didn’t look into those empty eyes as he did so, and finally reaching up to severe the rope still attached to his neck, shouting to Murdock and Hannibal below that he was theirs even as they had already started to lower him.
Murdock let the rope out slowly but steadily, his heart pounding hard in his chest as Hannibal went back to the base of the cliff to gather Face into his arms as soon as he could reach him, and then it was all hands on deck. Hannibal ran with his precious charge to the relatively flat ground in the shade of the jeep and laid him on his back in the dust. Murdock was right behind him, skidding to a halt at his friend’s hip even as Hannibal’s shaking fingers unwrapped the rope from around his neck. He didn’t waste any time checking for signs of life, he’d seen those empty eyes for himself and he knew that Face had gone, what he didn't know was how far, and whether he was near enough still to come back, and there was only one way to find out.
“Face, can you hear me!” Hannibal’s voice was alien in Murdock’s ears, too broken, too old and he tried to blank it out as the heels of his hands found Face’s sternum and he started pushing, counting urgently under his breath. “Face, baby, please...” Hannibal begged and to his horror he realised that the boss was crying, crying and he had to force his own tears back in response.
He finished his chest compressions and moved straight up to his buddy’s still face, refusing to look into those blank eyes one more time and tipped his chin, feeling the ever present stubble under his fingers before opening his mouth wide and checking for obstructions. “Colonel!” he snapped, risking a glance up at Hannibal to find him watching with silent tears streaming down his cheeks. Murdock shook his head and, sealing Face’s nose with his long fingers, he fastened their mouths together and blew, keeping an eye on Face’s chest to make sure it was rising and falling with each breath. “Colonel!!” he shouted this time and Hannibal snapped back to life under his gaze. “Get a grip, colonel, he said a little more gently as his hands found Face’s chest once more, “He needs you here, bossman, he aint got too far we can’t bring him back yet, not if we work together.”
Instantly Hannibal straightened, the colonel reasserting himself following Murdock’s very deliberate use of rank, and the man devastated by the loss of his love drifted off into the background. “Okay,” he said, moving into place. “Count?”
“Twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty, nine, thirty,” Murdock counted and then paused as Hannibal immediately went down for two breaths. The second he was up, Murdock started again, “One, two...”
“Eight minutes man,” BA’s low rumble told them he’d made it safely down from the rock face and a second later he dropped to his knees opposite Murdock, ready to take over if he were needed, carefully laying Face’s gun down by his shoulder.
Hannibal glanced quickly at Face’s Glock, remembering the day he’d given it to Face after the kid had lost his Sigma getting blown off the end of a pier. He quickly pushed the memory aside, refusing to acknowledge the screaming in his head that was telling him that Face was dead, he was dead and Hannibal would never hear him laugh again, never feel the heat from his body wrapped around him in bed again, never get to watch him curled on the sofa, absorbed in some old black and white movie, never hear his own name, whispered like a prayer as the kid came underneath him... He shook all of those thoughts away, Murdock was right, Face wasn’t gone yet, they’d got him down quickly enough, and now they just had to drag him back.
At thirty Hannibal went in again, feeling those oh-so-familiar lips under his but knowing they had never touched in circumstances like these before and forced the well known facts that insisted on crowding his mind into silence. Facts learned in their regular first aid refreshers, now held using materials downloaded from the web, facts like, ‘CPR performed without chance of a defibrillator is rarely effective’ and ‘CPR rarely restarts a stopped heart’.
Face was strong, he reminded himself, his heart may not have stopped completely, it may just have slowed right down. What they were doing was keeping his oxygen levels up, giving him the chance to recover, use some of that strength to come back to them. And if he could then he damn well would, kid was the most stubborn man he’d ever met... But when BA’s deep voice whispered, “Fifteen minutes,” he couldn’t stop the fear that washed over him along with more silent tears.
He lifted up from his respiration and as Murdock instantly started counting again, he looked straight at his corporal. “Call 911.”
BA paused, knowing Face’s wishes as strongly as the rest of them, how he swore he couldn’t cope with prison again, couldn’t be on his own without them. How the person he’d had to pretend to be in jail had worn him too thin, made him do things he didn’t want to do again, how he’d rather die than go back. BA knew that sending him to hospital was sending him to prison.
Hannibal held his stare. “Make the call. We let them get his heart going again and then we take him back.” BA paused a second longer and then nodded, rising to his feet to make the call.
He never got that chance though, as soon as his back was turned he heard a sound, a hoarse rasping noise, not dissimilar to a cough and spun on the spot to see Murdock sat back on his heels, face to the sky, whispering fervently to the indigo sky while Hannibal was leant over Face who was now on his side, the bossman’s shaking fingers pressed into the swollen flesh under the kid’s chin, his own words drifting through the still evening into BA’s ears. “That’s it, that’s it, baby, you breathe for us. I know it hurts, but you gotta breathe, we can’t lose you Face. I can’t lose you. I need you Face; I can’t do this without you. Good boy, breathe for me...” and feeling like he was intruding, BA went to start up the jeep.
Definately end now!
I’ve no idea what happened. One minute I was on the top of the wall, edging carefully around, about to get into position to cover the boss when he stepped forward to make the deal ,the next I’m laid in the dirt, coughing brick dust out of my lungs and trying to kick the rubble off my legs.
Unfortunately, I don’t have to worry about that for long as there is a helpful bad guy hauling me out of the remains of the wall, dragging me out into the centre of the yard and forcing me to my knees, hands on my head and a gun pressed fucking hard into the back of my neck.
“Hey, gringo!” a voice yells too close to my pounding head for comfort and I tense wondering if Hannibal will make his presence known, “I know you hiding here somewhere! Now show me your ass or the pretty man gets a hole in his head!”
I’m fairly sure he doesn’t really want to see the boss’ ass, even though it is a very, very fine example of ass, the best, in my humble opinion and I feel a wave of despair crashing over me, knowing that I’ve put him in a hell of a position here. What can he do? Give himself up, risk his life right alongside mine, and know that those kids being forced to work in Carlos’ silver mines won’t get the freedom they deserve? Or stand by and watch this fucker blow my brains out? And he will, I can tell he is dying to.
“I is counting to ten!” he yells and starts his count and my mouth works without thought.
“Yeah, that’s ‘I am counting’ fuck-wit. Jeez don’t you guys know your simple present tense?”
There is the crack of something hard to the side of my head and then I hear the hammer pull back and I can’t help but close my eyes and wish I had underwear on. But then there is Hannibal’s voice and it damn near breaks my heart. “Don't! Don’t hurt him! Okay, okay, here I am, look, don’t hurt him!” And I look up against the setting sun and there is Hannibal, putting down his gun and lowering himself full length to the ground, spread eagled in the dirt, and I wonder why he is doing that when no one asked but I follow suit, just as the whole damn place seems to go up in a huge blast.
- - - -
Only two of them are left alive after Murdock’s more than enthusiastic petrol bomb took out the dynamite store. My ears are still ringing as Hannibal hauls me up off the floor and half drags, half carries me to the van, shoving me in so hard my shins hit the kickboard and I stumble, falling face down onto BA’s immaculate carpet.
With a thud I am enveloped in darkness as the doors are closed and then Hannibal’s weight is on me, his hands on my belt buckle, his erection pressing hard into my ass and his mouth at my ear. “Jesus Christ Temp,” he hisses as his hips snap hard and repeatedly against me, “thought he was gonna do it, there and then when you couldn’t keep your fucking mouth shut!”
I’m struggling to breathe with his weight on me otherwise I would object to those words... talk about pots and kettles!
“Thought I was gonna lose you,” the boss’ fingers are shaking and he can’t seem to work the simple belt buckle, I lift my hips to offer some assistance but then I’m dragged up, hauled around and dropped onto my back, Hannibal on top of me immediately, pinning me down, his fingers having better luck with my zipper and then all there is is heat. Heat of his hands on my head holding me still, heat of his tongue and his lips as he finds my mouth and plunders it, hard. Heat from his rock hard cock as it juts out from his open fly and right into the gap made by my gaping zipper. Heat from the drooling precum as the head of his cock thrusts hard against my pubic hair, my tight balls, making me gasp in exquisite pain, and then my own cock, manfully rising to the occasion despite (because of?) the recent near death experience.
And then Hannibal is coming, hard and fast and so, so hot right into the gap in my combats, his heat spurting against my cock base, running over my balls and I’m coming too, jamming my hips up into him, forgetting to breathe as, for the second time in twenty minutes, my world crumbles around me.
Then we are still, the boss’ hand stroking my face and he lifts up. “Can’t ever lose you,” he says, then heaves himself up and away, heading off to make sure the job is finished, and I just lie there, covered in the proof of his love.
Face sat on the decking at the back of the house, mug of coffee in his hand, mobile phone and a Post-It note on his knee and looked out at the tiny speck that was Hannibal and Murdock, dead centre in the middle of the lake in the little boat that came with the property. He smiled as he saw one of the figures in the boat stand up, enthusiastically reeling in his line while the other stayed seated, frantically grabbing hold of the sides of the tiny vessel to try and stop the whole thing from tipping over; it wasn’t hard to guess who was who.
He’d raised his eyes at the boss when Murdock had come hurtling into the sauna to tell Face that the two of them were going fishing and Hannibal had just shrugged back, Murdock’s enthusiasm for the outing enough proof to recognise Hannibal’s motives in agreeing to go. Even so, Hannibal had never had the best of sea legs, and even though he had stopped short of actually throwing up, as far as Face was aware anyway, he always tended to scramble back onto dry land just as soon as he possibly could, often looking decidedly green around the ears.
The sound of the huge glass doors to the den sliding open behind him took his attention from the intrepid fishermen and Face turned to flash a quick smile at BA who, dressed in his running gear, ear buds dangling over his shoulder came and stood at the glass fencing, next to the chair that Face was resting his still swollen ankle on and following the lieutenant’s gaze to the tiny boat.
“None o’ them fools in the drink yet then?” he asked, the sheer amazement at Hannibal’s lunacy clear in his tone.
Face laughed. “Nope. But my money’s on the boss, Murdock’s feet seem to be stuck to the bottom of that tub.”
They both watched for a few seconds more as the two figures swapped places in the perilously rocking boat, one crawling to the bow on hands and knees, the other, almost skipping to the stern, rod held aloft the whole time. Face laughed, more at BA’s groan of sympathy for Hannibal than anything else and looked up to see the big man looking carefully at him.
Ignoring the swooping feeling in his stomach, Face smiled again, knowing what was about to come. “You going running?” he asked as lightly as he could.
BA paused just a fraction before answering, “Nah... I mean, I was gonna, but I reckon I’ll wait now. Make sure them crazy fools get back alright.”
Face swallowed a sigh. “BA,” he made sure the open smile was still on his face, “You go, I’ll be fine, man. You know I will.”
Looking awkward at being caught out, BA turned his eyes back to the figures in the boat and Face waited, letting the thoughts settle in his friend’s mind at their own pace. Out of the three of them, BA had been the one who had insisted of treating Face like he was made of glass the most since that whole horrific episode in the alley way with Pike. Murdock had only mentioned it the once, holding Face’s eyes and saying, “I don’t think you really wanted to check out on us there bud,” and continuing before Face could get a single word in, “but if you ever do feel like that, you make sure you come and talk to me, right? Or Hannibal. Or BA. You got that?” Face had felt his throat close up and so had just nodded his reply and Murdock had smiled one of his really genuine smiles and that had been that.
For Hannibal it had been harder. Face could sense him wanting to fuss, wanting to say things, do things and only just managing to hold back. The worst time had been when they were making dinner last night and Murdock had handed Face the huge vegetable knife and a half cabbage, asking him to slice it for coleslaw and Hannibal had gone as white as the ceramic sink, before eventually excusing himself to stand on the deck in the dark, puffing furiously on a cigar. Face had prepared the cabbage for Murdock and then followed the boss out, not saying a word, just holding him, reassuring him with his presence alone. It had taken almost ten minutes before the tension had leaked out of Hannibal’s shoulders and then he had just sighed and kissed Face softly before whispering, “I know you won’t, kid,” to Face’s silent promise and they’d gone back inside to a wink from Murdock and homemade pizza and slaw.
But BA had always been there, right behind him, just watching him, Face felt; helping him up and down the stairs when Face could manage on his own, offering to get him pain meds, drinks, snacks, blankets, his iPad... generally just always being there and it was starting to grate on Face’s nerves. He felt that BA was on suicide watch with him, and was tempted to ask for his hand gun to clean just to see what the big guy would do. However, when he’d vented to Murdock over laundry duties in the cellar, Murdock had stopped sorting their smalls and looked up, his face terribly, terribly sad. “Faceman,” he said quietly, his eyes huge in the dim light, “Bosco aint worried about that, he knows you didn’t really mean it,” Face had frowned, confused. “Don’tcha see? Big guy’s feelin’ guilty that Pike Two messed you up, messed you around with Adele an’ all that when it was him that had killed Pike One.”
For a second Face had just stared, blinking stupidly. He couldn’t believe that, what on earth was BA thinking? “He thinks that?” he’d asked, incredulous. “But,” he carried on at Murdock’s nod, “Pike One would have killed me for sure if BA hadn’t turned up at the docks in LA...”
Murdock shrugged and shook out a pair of BA’s white trunks. “You tellin’ me you wouldn’t be feelin’ guilty if roles were reversed?”
Face sighed and stared, unseeing, at the socks in his hands, of course he would, but still...
As soon as he’d gone back upstairs he’d found BA trying to get a better picture from the satellite dish mounted at the side of the house and he’d walked right up to him and hugged him, forcing back a smile as he felt BA stiffen in shock at his touch. The big guy had, almost reluctantly and pretty fiercely, hugged him back for the briefest of moments before Face pulled away and looked into his suspicious brown eyes. “Bosco,” he said, quietly and steadily, “I know I have said this before, but thank you for saving my life at the docks in LA. What’s happened here isn’t your fault, you’ve got to know that. If it wasn’t for you, Pike would have shot me dead that morning.”
BA just looked at him and Face knew Murdock had been dead right in his analysis of the situation.
“You never told him did you?” BA said eventually, a frown on his face. “In that warehouse with Pike when he was hurtin’ you, you never told him it was me.”
Face smiled and shook his head.
Silence fell once more and it was now Face that was starting to look uncomfortable under BA’s stare. “You know why,” he whispered, his throat suddenly dry. “You would have done the same for me.”
BA nodded and then he was the one who took hold of Face’s shoulders and pulled him in for a very rare glimpse of Baracus emotion. “Thank you,” he whispered into Face’s ear. “You’re a good guy Faceman, don’t you ever forget that.”
And then the whole weird moment was over and BA went back to his satellite dish and Face wandered onto the deck to wait for his eyes to stop stinging and since then BA hadn’t been quite so mother-hennish with him, although Face could tell he still really wanted to be.
“You sure?” BA asked, back on the deck, his eyes fixed on the good ship Murdock bobbing frantically in the middle of the lake.
“Sure,” Face had reassured him.
“You want anythin’ before I go?”
BA looked back. “Okay then, I’ll go. Be about an’ hour right?”
Face had nodded and smiled and BA had flicked on his iPod before turning and starting off slowly on the path that led around the side of the property.
“Never again, kid, never again...”
Face was started out of his doze twenty minutes later by Hannibal flopping down in the chair next to his on the deck, a strong smell of fish about him and skin the colour of chalk. Face laughed. “That bad huh?” Hannibal just nodded forlornly and Face glanced about. “Where’s Captain Ahab now then?”
Cracking an eye open Hannibal looked at him. “Cleaning his fish round the side,” the property came with its own outdoor fish preparation area. “He’s gonna cook them for dinner.”
“Them?” Face’s eyes widened. “How many’d you catch?”
“Me?” Hannibal asked incredulously, “None. Him? Five...”
“Five?” Face whistled through his teeth, impressed as Hannibal leaned over and took a swig of Face’s coffee, grimacing as he realised it was cold.
“Yeah, I know...” Hannibal answered grimly before turning and fixing Face with a look. “Eddie called,” he said quietly, “while we were out.”
That caught Face off guard and he felt his eyes opening wide in surprise. He’d never met Eddie, but Hannibal had told him he was a friend of Adele’s and had been the one who had originally managed to track them down. Face had scowled at that, but Hannibal had reassured him, told him he thought that Eddie was essentially an okay guy, just infatuated with Adele and Face could readily believe that. Anyway, it had been odd but since the day that Adele had been rushed to hospital, Hannibal had been unable to find him, speak to him about what had been going on. He never answered his phone, wasn’t in the ICU when Hannibal got there; they’d never spoken about it, but Face had just presumed he’d done a runner.
“Yeah?” he asked, trying and failing to sound like he didn’t care.
“Yeah,” Hannibal replied. “Seems he’s diabetic, had a hypo or something, been in hospital himself this last week.”
Face considered that. “You believe him?” he asked cautiously.
“Absolutely,” Hannibal answered at once. “I told you Face, he’s not a monster like Pike.”
There was no problem with Face accepting that, he knew Hannibal was generally a good judge of character. “So?” he asked quietly, “What else did he say?”
Hannibal twisted in his seat, reaching out a hand to rest on Face’s thigh as he spoke. “She’s woken up,” he said quietly and then waited as Face shut his eyes, pressed his fingers against his closed lids and breathed for a minute, wrestling with the feelings storming around inside him.
After a minute, when Face looked back at him, he continued. “She’s not spoken and she only wakes for very short moments of time, but the docs are cautiously optimistic that she will come out of this now.”
Face nodded. That was good. Good for Adele, good for Eddie.
“You want to go and see her?” Hannibal offered cautiously and Face shook his head right away. No. No he did not want to go and see her. Hannibal squeezed his leg and moved on. “I asked Eddie about your father as well while he was on the phone, see if he knew anything.” Face felt his stomach tighten again at those words. He’d told Hannibal what Adele had eventually admitted about his father, the bits he could remember at least, which really wasn’t very much. “But he doesn’t,” Hannibal told him gently. “Eddie’s known her for over thirty years, but she’d never even mentioned you to him until earlier this year.” Face looked down at his jeans and sighed, no she wouldn’t have done would she?
They sat in silence for a few minutes more, Hannibal’s hand a steadying presence in Face’s life like always and then Hannibal spoke again. “If you ever decide you want to go and look for him-”
“No!” Face cut him off sharply and then took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, forcing out a strained smile. “No, thanks boss,” he amended quietly. “I know you will all help me, but no. Certainly not now, and maybe not ever, I don’t know if I could ever handle that.”
Hannibal nodded, he’d expected as much and of course it wasn’t the finding-his-father that Face didn’t know if he could handle, it was the possible rejection all over again. “Okay, well, you know the offer’s there,” he said instead and squeezed Face’s thigh once more.
They sat in companionable silence for a while, strains of Murdock’s rendition of La Boheme as he cleaned the fish drifting around the outside of the house. Then a sudden gust of wind blew up and flicked at the Post-It note on Face’s knee causing both Face and Hannibal to grab at it, stopping it from taking off into the lake.
“What’s that?” Hannibal asked as Face put it on the table under his coffee mug to stop it blowing away again.
Taking a deep breath, he turned, and looked Hannibal right in the eye. “It’s directions to a therapist in Reno,” he was proud of himself for being able to say the word without stammering over it. “I have an appointment with him, two thirty tomorrow.”
For a second, Hannibal was just stunned into silence, his blue eyes shining as he stared at Face, the shock etched into every plane of his face.
“I looked up that woman in Dallas,” Face told him, having to look away, finding the expression on the boss’ face too raw to watch, “But it’s too far. I like it here. If I go to Reno then I can drive there and back in a day, easy.”
That was true, but it was only half of the reason Face had decided against her. He had looked her up like he told Hannibal, but then he slammed the laptop shut as soon as he read that she specialised in ‘suicidal patients’. That wasn’t him, and knowing he needed to prove that to everyone, including himself, provided at least some of the driving force in finding this guy in Reno.
Hannibal was still staring at him, but as Face lapsed into silence he eventually spoke, “Face, baby,” his voice was a dry whisper. “I’m real proud of you here, kiddo, you know that right? So, so proud of you for doing this.”
Face nodded, not surprised that the boss was shocked at his decision, every time he’d tried to discuss it so far had ended up with Face hissing something along the lines of ‘I’m not crazy!’ and that had been that.
The silence stretched out again.
“So, two thirty, huh? Tomorrow?” Face nodded. “You want me to drive you?” Hannibal offered cautiously and Face turned to him, his eyes wide and naked.
“Fuck, boss,” he whispered shakily, “I was really hoping you’d come in with me...”
In the work of a moment Hannibal was on his knees at Face’s side, arms around him, lips on his temple, his cheek, his hair. “Of course I will,” he whispered, pure, ecstatic relief surging through him at Face’s words. “Of course I will, there’s nothing I want more than to help you with this.” Face just nodded and held on tight as Hannibal continued to drop kisses onto him. “We’ll beat this,” Hannibal’s voice in his ear whispered, “you and me kid, this whole team. We’ll beat this and we’ll help you make whatever you want out of it. You believe me?”
Face nodded and held on tightly. Yes, he believed him. It was time he stopped letting life just happen to him, and took back all of that control for himself. And for the first time in his life he felt that he could actually be strong enough to do it.
End. Thank God!
This story has had an awful amount of traffic through it but not much in the line of comments (Thank you Aussie Bones for being every author's dream reader!!!).
I appreciate every single reader that's been through here, but I would love to know what you thought - I'm already planning my next big fic and so it's good to know what works and what doesn't.
Thanks for reading, and sticking with this fic through all it's ups and downs! :)
His first reaction to Hannibal walking out on him like that had been to leave. His bag was already packed, his worldly possessions combined into one medium sized holdall and if that was what the boss thought of him now, then maybe he would be doing everyone a favour if he just disappeared.
But then, even before he’d managed to struggle to his feet and get his stuff, it had struck him; he’d had a sudden, searing image of Hannibal, gun raised to his temple, pulling the trigger and the force of the vision had almost crushed him, and he realised then what he had done, how violently he had betrayed the man who loved him.
It was more than that, though, much more. And as he sat through the small hours of the morning and the black of the night slowly, slowly receded, he thought back to his early days with Hannibal and the vow he had silently made as a soldier, long before they had been anywhere near the point of making vows as lovers.
Hannibal had been the first person to look twice at the angry young lieutenant who could run his mouth as fast as his body; the first person to ask ‘why?’ instead of just reaming him out, and that was all it had taken for Face’s life to turn around. He found that with someone to trust him and believe in him and value him he could start to be a better person, a more level person, and he vowed that he would repay that trust by always being exactly what Hannibal wanted him to be, always doing whatever it was that needed doing.
And he had. For almost twenty years he had done whatever was needed perfectly and often without Hannibal even having to say anything. Maybe the methods he chose weren’t always what the boss had had in mind and maybe the end results were a little different too, but Face had instinctively known the big picture, known what was expected of him and he had moved heaven and earth to unsure that that was what he had delivered for his colonel.
Until yesterday. And that was the thing that had brought him up short and shocked him back into real life. It didn’t matter whether Silas had shot Hannibal or not, it didn’t matter whether Face had checked out his facts properly or not. All that mattered was what Hannibal had expected of his XO in that situation, and in the quiet calm of the night, those expectations were crystal clear to Face now.
He was right to kill Pike the way he did; as unpleasant as he usually found taking a life, as unsavoury as the after taste of his over enthusiastic shooting might be, Pike was a threat to his team and would not have stopped in his crazy vendetta until he was dead. Face was right to kill him.
And after that his role was clean up. He should have sanitised the situation, made sure nothing existed to link either him or the team to the whole debacle. And if the worst had happened, if his CO, his life, his love had been killed, then he should have stepped up to the mark and taken control. Someone needed to move the bodies, someone needed to meet up with BA and Murdock and tell them what had happened, someone needed to be there for Murdock, be strong for BA, someone needed to organise a burial, someone needed to command the unit until they all decided what they were going to do with themselves. And that someone should have been him.
Regardless of what he owed Hannibal as a lover, the vow to hand over his heart and soul for all eternity had come after the vow to be the very best soldier, and later XO, that he possibly could be. He’d said he would never let Hannibal down, never, and now he had - and why? Because he’d been out-thought? Out-manoeuvred? Out fought? Out soldiered? No. Because he’d been damn selfish. Shame washed over him in a hot wave.
’I can’t trust you Face, I just can’t.’ Those words were haunting him now, circling round and round in his brain like a whole kettle of vultures and he realised what that meant to him, losing Hannibal’s trust like that. He wouldn’t be XO anymore, couldn’t be, how could you have an XO you didn’t trust? So where did that leave the team? How could they take on missions? How could they survive without that income? He couldn’t even begin to consider the knock on effects into his personal life, how much Hannibal would be able to stand by him and how much he wouldn’t.
And of course the ripples didn’t stop at Hannibal either, they just kept on spreading, absorbing everyone and everything they came into contact with. BA for example; he saw himself as chief protector of the team, and he would gladly stand between any one of them and a threat. The problem was, how was he supposed to do that if he thought that the biggest threat to Face came from his own hand rather than the hand of an adversary?
And then there was Murdock, and Face let his head droop as yet another tsunami of shame hit him. Murdock dealt with so much, coped with all the times his own mind back-fired on him and in all of those times, he’d never, ever been tempted to just jack it all in and top himself. Face knew that for a fact as it had come out in one of their all night whisky induced bonding sessions, where Hannibal and BA would eventually pass out and Murdock and Face would talk until dawn, wrapped up in a shared blanket marvelling at how they seemed to be two halves of the same brownie. Murdock’s joy at life, his wonder at waking up every morning and just being alive was far too strong for that.
He rubbed at his eyes, gritty with lack of sleep, and wondered what Murdock would think of him, giving up like that in a moment of despair. Refusing to tough it out, refusing to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe he didn’t need Hannibal to be able to live, and that maybe there were others out there who needed him and were relying on him to help them get by.
Face had fought all his life. He’d fought to stay sane and to stop the world from beating him down when many others would have given in from the first moment. He’d fought to stay in the army when the powers that be decided he was too risky, too unstable. He’d fought to stay by Hannibal’s side and then later with his team when others had tried to split them up, and he’d fought to be the very best person he could be for his family, to be everything they needed and stop the darkness inside him from rearing up and claiming his soul.
And then, for two short minutes, he’d given up; given up the fight, given up striving to be the good man that Hannibal wanted him to be and let himself slide down into desolation and despair. He hadn’t seen what was needed from him, in fact he hadn’t seen anything beyond his own determination that he simply wasn’t good enough to be able to survive without Hannibal in his life. He’d been a coward, he’d taken the route of least resistance and now it looked as if that moment of weakness was going to cost him everything he held dear.
So what were his options now? To sit here and mope and feel desperately sorry for himself and wait until someone came to check on him and take his weapons and shoelaces off him? Or was he going to man up and try to fix some of his mess before it destroyed them all?
There wasn’t a decision to make, he hauled himself to his feet, took a second to steady his aching body and then quietly let himself out of his room looking for where Hannibal had taken himself off to.
He didn’t have to look far. As soon as he was on the landing and glanced out of the circular window letting daylight into the stairwell he saw him, sitting outside, the early morning light giving his hair and his jumper an other-wordly glow. The house hugged the sides of a small fishing lake, the decking at the rear stretched out right over the water so you didn’t even have to leave the property to catch your dinner. Hannibal was on his butt in the sand on the tiny beach that crept gently down to the lake’s edge, cigar in hand and face raised to the mountain which climbed up out of the water on the far side. The whole scene, the sun rise, the lake, the mountains, Hannibal... it was all so beautiful and a very sharp reminder to Face about all he could have lost.
He limped outside in his sleep shorts and his bare feet and immediately felt gooseflesh rise all over his body in the cool of the early morning. He steadfastly ignored it though, the chill in his heart over the things he’d done and the things Hannibal had said far outweighed any chill in the air. He padded straight over to the still figure in the sand and dropped down so they were sat side by side, adjusting himself until he could sit comfortably without straining his painful ankle.
Hannibal didn't greet him, didn’t move at all and Face suddenly found himself lost for words, floundering at the best way to tell the man he loved how sorry he was that he tried to run out on him here. Permanently. But in the end, as he scrambled in a very un-Face-like way to open the conversation, it was Hannibal that spoke first. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly and Face looked around at him in shock.
He was still wearing yesterday’s clothes, still sporting various cuts and bruises from his fight with Pike. His jaw was covered in stubble and his eyes were heavy and bloodshot with dark shadows underneath, he looked dreadful and Face felt his heart crack just a little at the sight.
Without pause he leant in, his arm creeping around Hannibal’s waist, his other hand resting gently on his taut stomach and felt himself almost melt with relief when Hannibal raised his arm and allowed Face to nestle up against the soft wool of the caramel sweater, complete with smears of blood all down the front.
“I’m sorry too,” Face whispered, unwilling to risk his voice at such an emotional moment, “for all the ways I let you down.”
Hannibal tugged him in more firmly at those words and even pressed a kiss to the top of his head; filling Face with a hope that maybe there was a way out of this for them.
“No, kid, you have nothing to apologise for here, this is me, this was my call and I’m the one who dropped the ball.” Face frowned, confused but Hannibal took a long draw of his cigar, cleared his throat awkwardly and continued with his obviously pre-planned words. “I should have guessed how all this was affecting you; the cumulative effects of everything that’s happened recently and the things you can remember from when you were little.” Face flushed and looked down at the sand, wondering, not for the first time if Hannibal had a fast track right into his head. “I could see you had things bothering you, you’ve been saying different things in your sleep,” Face flushed even deeper, “looking edgier every time you came back from seeing her... But we never seemed to find the time to go over it, did we?”
Face didn’t say a word; he just stared at the sand between his legs and wondered where this was going.
“Anyway,” Hannibal cleared his throat again, “I hadn’t realised how badly it was affecting you and that was very remiss of me. I’ve had a little chat with Murdock and he’s made a few suggestions,” he cleared his throat yet again, oozing awkwardness into the morning air, “and I’ve managed to get the number of a really good therapist in Dallas. Someone who’s had a lot of success with people who have... who... who are finding things really tough,” and now Hannibal was almost as flushed as Face.
“Hannibal...” Face murmured, his eyes on the sand.
“So I thought maybe we could head out that way and see if she’ll see us, hey?” Face could tell from the difference in his voice that Hannibal had turned towards him and he closed his eyes in shame. “We could take a few months off, get some rest, just take the time to chill and you could work out some of these things that are making you... feel down...” he finished lamely.
“Hannibal,” Face repeated through gritted teeth, “I don’t need to see a shrink!”
“Temp,” there was pain in that voice, raw, anguished pain and Face couldn’t stop himself from looking up, hating to hear that tone in the man he loved. “I can’t lose you, kid.” Hannibal ground out. “And I can’t let you do that to yourself either, you are too special, too precious...” Face swallowed hard. “It will be fine, we can beat this,” Hannibal’s arm tightened on him, reawakening the pain from the bullet track in his bicep, but Face ignored it. “You and me, kid, we’ve done worse than this before, yeah? This, these, feelings, you’ve been having – we can whup their asses too, right?”
Face swallowed around the golf ball that had apparently lodged itself in his throat and wondered just who Hannibal was so desperately trying to convince here that they could kick Face’s obviously suicidal depression. He took a deep breath. “Boss,” he said, slowly and carefully, “you don’t have to worry about me-”
“Face!” Hannibal interrupted, shock clear in his tone. “You think I don’t care how you are feeling? I know I got a bit heated up there last night, but it’s not because I don’t care! I care so much it scares the fucking crap outta me...!”
Leaning in, Face swallowed his shame at the way this conversation was going and made sure he held Hannibal’s eyes with his own, made sure that the boss could see the truth in there, the absence of a con, the absolute and total honesty in Face’s words and his soul. “John,” he said slowly and carefully. “You don’t have to worry about me ‘cause I’m not going to... do anything stupid,” he paused, wanting to make sure his words had got through.
“Temp, honey,” Hannibal’s hand was shaking as he reached to touch Face’s cheek. “You don’t have to hide from me. I was there, remember? I saw what happened... I know I said some pretty harsh things earlier on, but this will be okay for us, you hear me? We can get through this. It will be fine.”
Face bit down on his frustration and tried again. “I don’t want to die, John,” he said quietly, his voice starting to break over his words. “I want to be with you. Always. It was just... I thought you were dead...” And that was it, as much as he could take finally reached and he pitched forward grabbing on to Hannibal so hard it must have hurt, his words coming out in a stream of pain that he had no way of stopping. “I thought I couldn’t go on without you, but I realise I was wrong now, I realise that if you... if, that happens someday then you’ll need me to go on and be strong for the others and that’s what I’ll do. Hannibal, you don’t have to worry about me, you can still trust me, you don’t have to leave me, I can do this, I can be whatever you want me to be. Haven’t I always done my job? Haven’t I always delivered the goods for you? Haven’t we always been a good team?”
“Oh, the best, baby, the very best!” Hannibal rushed to reassure him. “And I’m not leaving you, I’d never leave you, I thought you knew that, this will be fine, it will, I swear to you, we’ll get all of this all worked out.” He let Face cling to him, wrapping his own arms around his shaking back and felt hot, desperate tears leak from his eyes, wondering how he would feel if Face had died, how much he would feel like getting up and carrying on...
He was appalled to see his boy like this, so strung out and overwhelmed. Appalled at the words that had come tumbling out, that Face had felt he’d had to be something specific for Hannibal all these years, that being himself wasn’t enough.
But that was a topic of conversation to file away for another day and Hannibal fully intended not leaving this haven in the mountains until he’d covered a number of topics with Face; the suicide attempt obviously one, Adele, his father, his recently recovered childhood memories, and now this, the others. He couldn’t believe he’d let things get this bad, that he’d let Face hide this much from him, maybe if he’d known what was really going on in the kid’s head that stunt in the alley wouldn’t have been such a shock to him, maybe he could have even guarded against it, just like he needed to guard against it now.
Face was still shaking and clinging, but he wasn’t crying and that worried Hannibal, he knew they weren’t there yet, that Face was still holding on to too much pain inside him and it needed an outlet. Despite their differences over the last twelve hours, Hannibal knew his boy well, knew exactly what he needed to let go, and so as Face clung to him, his fingers vises on his arms, Hannibal twisted his own head so he was leaning down and slowly, gently, so, so, lovingly, he pressed the most cautious of kisses onto his boy’s lips.
The response was overwhelming. Face reared up in an instant, moving his hands to the back of Hannibal’s head to hold him in place and kissing back with a force borne of desperation. For a second, Hannibal struggled simply to contain him, but finally he managed to assert control, to take the lead, control the strength and pace and gently guide Face into something more careful, more fulfilling for both of them and he realised that that was a fairly accurate metaphor for their entire existence together.
Face had always been brave and strong, both mentally and physically, but he’d also been vulnerable. He would charge into everything he did with a hundred and ten percent effort and enthusiasm, he would roll with the blows, adapt as he went along, but he could never sustain that pace forever. Running like that, firing on all cylinders, burned him out pretty quick and when he was burning out, he was at the mercy of his emotions, his quick temper, his impulsivity, his sharp tongue all surged to the fore and got him into trouble. And that’s where Hannibal had come in. He was able to take all that enthusiasm and energy and channel it more appropriately, stop the burn out before it even started and let Face moderate his own behaviour. It had worked, it had worked beautifully for years and Face played the ying to his yang by keeping Hannibal grounded in return, not letting him get too swallowed up in the jazz and making sure that there was enough sense in his crazy-insane plans that they could actually come together effectively.
They were a team, like Hannibal had told him, the best team there was. But of course, as Hannibal was just starting to realise, even the most wonderful of arrangements had a downside and that happened when Hannibal didn’t notice the warning signs that Face was still burning out, or if he couldn’t get in to prevent that final shove, the shove that had Face rapidly spinning out of control. Thinking Pike had killed him in that alley, that had been it, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back; Hannibal had managed to haul him back for the short term, but the events of last night, their row, Hannibal storming out the way he had, had all just conspired to push him right back out on the edge again.
As they kissed, Face suddenly yanked Hannibal’s sweater up and away and Hannibal shivered with the first wash of the morning air on his torso, breaking their connection for the very briefest of seconds before reaching down to meet Face’s searching mouth with his own. He realised that he’d known all of this all along, known how Face could react if pushed hard enough. Did he really think the kid was suicidal? Was going to slit his wrists the second he was left alone? No, he didn’t. If he’d really feared that then he never would have left him alone all night the way he had. The kid had made a primitive knee jerk reaction in that alley, a response to fear and desperation from a man who had never developed more appropriate coping strategies, and whose fault was that?
Hannibal realised that he had contributed to this as much as he had contributed to everything that Face had done and lived and learned since he sixteen years old – still a baby. But it was like BA was always trying to tell him, Face wasn’t that child anymore, and it was long past the time where Hannibal should have stopped propping him up emotionally and let him stand on his own two feet a bit more. He knew that’s what needed to happen now if Face was ever going to achieve any kind of emotional stability in his life...
All rational thought, however, was firmly shoved to the back of his mind the second that Face found the bulge in the front of his trousers and started insistently rubbing at it with his hand. Hannibal moaned as the arousal in his gut started to twist and rise, and in seconds they were both scrabbling to undo the button on his cords and shove them down over his tense thighs, pushing his briefs down at the same time and he hissed as he felt the cool sand on his bare skin.
Face’s shorts were the next to go, and within a minute they were both naked, the morning sun warming them and turning their skin a pearlescent gold, and in all this time since Hannibal’s jumper had come off, they had never broken their kiss, not once. But now, with his lungs burning and his pulse thumping in his ears, Hannibal lifted off and Face fell back into the sand beneath him, his eyes closed and his chest heaving for breath as he lifted a knee to rest against Hannibal’s side, a hand right on his tattoo, keeping up that contact.
Fancy a visual? Click here. NSFW
For a second Hannibal just stared at him, letting his eyes run up and down his strong lean body as it lay in the sand beneath him. The smooth planes of muscle, still baring the marks of Silas’ capture, the dusky nipples, taut in the cool air, his beautiful cock, flushed dark red where it lay against the tan of his stomach, smearing it with pre-come that glistened in the sunlight. His eyes were closed, purple smudges underneath them that betrayed his state of exhaustion and suddenly Hannibal felt a fear unlike anything he had ever known that they would lose this thing they had together and he vowed to himself that he would never let that happen.
He wanted to take his time on the body beneath him, spend hours covering every inch of that glorious skin with his mouth and his fingers and his love, but he knew he couldn’t do that, not this time. Looking back up into the kid’s expression, he saw the desperation there as Face opened his eyes and returned his stare. He saw the way that his breath was starting to hitch more rather than settle down, he saw the needy little twitches in his fingers, and how his eyes were swimming in the tears that needed to flow.
Hannibal knew exactly what was needed from him here, and he wasted no more time in fulfilling that need. His head dropped and found Face’s lips once more, plunging straight in with his tongue, opening the kid up so he could fill him with his love. He transferred all his weight onto his left arm, dropping to his elbow and feeling Face’s fingers digging hard into the flesh of his bicep. Then he let his right hand drift down as his hips dipped to rest gently on Face’s abdomen and he wrapped both their cocks up together in one large palm.
Face keened into his mouth and responded by thrusting his pelvis up hard into Hannibal, his fingers tightening and the little hitches Hannibal could feel in his breathing telling the older man that the tears were here at last. Hannibal felt his own return in response, hot and angry behind his closed lids as he moved himself, moved Face, kissed him, loved him and tried to pull him through this.
It was desperate, frantic, frenzied, and Hannibal knew he would have bruises where Face’s fingers were clutching almost convulsively at him and he was trying in return to steady his own hips, the tugging of his hand, keep them gentle, but it was a losing battle. Face started thrusting up harder into him, the sobs audible now even through the desperate need in their kiss and Hannibal reached with the fingers half buried in the sand to grab at any part of his boy that he could reach, determined to be everything he could for Face now and forever. He got a handful of hair and held on tight, thrusting and tugging and kissing, kissing so hard, desperate now in his desire to drive all this pain and insecurity out of the man he loved once and for all.
Face’s hands had moved to his back and were clutching feverishly at the muscle he found there as he tried in turn to bury himself in everything that was Hannibal, knowing damn well that what they were doing here wouldn’t solve anything for him, but that it was all he needed right now, and god he needed it so much. He pulled Hannibal down even harder, trapping their cocks together and Hannibal dragged his hand out, using it to hold Face’s head, moulding them even closer, mashing their chests together, pushing Face back into the sand, as lost in all this as Face was now.
And then Face started shuddering beneath him, shaking apart with each thrust of Hannibal’s heat onto his own and Hannibal tried to pull back, tried to give him the space and the air to come, but Face held him still, kept their mouths fused even though neither of them had the motor control to actually kiss as their climaxes reared up to absorb them.
Face went first as Hannibal felt his own twisting, roiling heat filling his cock, and then there was that glorious wet warmth against his stomach, making their cocks slide frenetically against each other as Face’s emptied, spurting hard in time with the sobs that Hannibal could feel in his mouth. Then Hannibal fell, jamming himself down hard, sealing his mouth over Face’s to catch those broken little sounds as he spilled over and over again, mixing his seed with his lover’s wanting that act alone to be enough to bind them together forever.
They shuddered through their mutual release and as soon as Hannibal came back to himself and realised that their mouths were still melded together, he started kissing again, slowly this time, deeply, passionately, licking through his boy’s mouth, tasting tears on his lips and trying to kiss around the sobs that were still there, take them away along with all the pain they represented.
He tipped onto his hip in the sand, pulling Face with him, keeping them meshed together and slowly used his mouth to bring his boy down from the edge, gently lessening the intensity of his caress, pulling back slightly until he was running kisses along a stubbled jaw, and Face’s sobs were nothing more than jerky, stuttered breathing.
He kept on going, gently, lovingly kissing cheeks, eye lids, forehead, nose until Face finally opened his lids and looked across at him from red rimmed, bloodshot eyes. In silence they regarded each other. Face looked exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically but somehow he looked better, as if something evil and toxic had been gouged out of him, painful but necessary, leaving him finally able to rest and heal.
As if he could almost read Hannibal’s thoughts, Face’s eyes grew heavy and he let them slide shut, almost at once going limp in his lover’s arms. Hannibal screwed his own stinging eyes closed once more and gathered his poor exhausted boy up into his arms, hoping he would sleep for hours, hoping that they would both be strong enough to fix this mess when he woke up.
Thankyou so much karenjd for the wonderful image that inspired the beach scene! x
There was rustling beside him and then muffled, pained gasps and a voice, the most precious voice in the universe whispering frantically into his ear. “Face! Face, dear god, look at me! Open your eyes and look at me!” Face just screwed them closed even more forcefully; there was no way he was going to get involved in mind games in his own personal version of hell. The rustling and the shuffling continued, followed by a ripping, tearing sound and then there were hands on him, poking in his hair, prodding the part of his head that hurt like fuck at the back. “What have you done, oh, baby, what have you done?” The terror in those words lanced through Face like an icy spear, and without thought, he opened his eyes, compelled to look up at their owner.
Hannibal was pale, the smears of blood on his face standing out in sharp, sharp contrast to the whiteness of his skin. His hands were running all over Face’s head, and he could feel them shaking as they touched, coming away daubed in blood. He glanced down, couldn’t really help it, even though Hannibal’s bloody chest was the last thing he wanted to see, the violence that had killed him, the reason he’d ended up in perpetual hell like Face himself. He frowned in confusion at the loose hoop of duct tape hanging around his boss’ neck and realised that at one point it had been a gag, and then his eyes ran down to that pale caramel sweater and he stared in confusion at the grime he saw, the odd smear of blood, but no bullet holes, no evidence of exsanguination. Without thinking he raised his hand, the same hand that had been holding the gun and frowned at the pain moving it had caused, but then he was touching and finding Hannibal warm and whole and feeling very much alive.
With a hiss of pain, Face was pulled up off the ground and enveloped in a fierce, desperate hug that he could do nothing else but return. He was still confused, still had that searing pain in his head from the one bullet, but if this was hell, then maybe it wouldn't be as bad as he had first feared.
“Oh, god, Face, I thought you had done it, I thought you were-” Hannibal stuttered to a halt and buried his face in the warmth of Face’s neck, shaking hard and whispering, “What were you thinking? What were you thinking?.” And Face just held on to him, grabbing at any bit of clothing or skin he could manage and tried to wrap his head around what the fuck was going on.
But then Hannibal was pulling him up, grabbing him off the floor and almost carrying him towards the still open door of Silas’ Cadillac. “Get in, kid,” he whispered, his voice anxious, “we need to get out of here pretty damn fast.”
He tried to push Face into the back seat but he resisted, grabbing hold of Hannibal’s biceps in his hands and staring at him right in the eyes. “I saw him shoot you,” he whispered, the memories those words conjured up almost more than he could stand. “I thought you were dead...”
Hannibal wilted under his agony, “No baby,” he whispered, still lowering Face into the car. “He didn’t shoot me, he was being a prick, trying to scare me, trying to make me freak or piss my pants or something.” He shook his head sadly, “He was never going to kill either of us that easily.”
Still Face frowned, realising that Hannibal had been gagged, restrained by the tape and that’s why he hadn’t moved or shouted out to Face before he got his hands on Pike’s gun. He put a hand up to the back of his head which was throbbing in time with his pulse and looked at the blood on his fingers. “I shot myself...” he whispered, wondering why the hell he was still breathing.
Closing his eyes against the pain of those words Hannibal leant in and kissed Face, hard and fast on his lips before pulling back. “You didn’t,” he reassured him, “I kicked the gun away just in time, you’ve got some shrapnel damage, that’s all, but it’s not too deep.”
Face stared at him, trying to take it all in, only just starting to realise what he almost did, his eyes flicked over to where he knew Silas was slumped at the side of the alley, only just starting to realise what he had done... “Oh, god, John... Pike...”
Again Hannibal kissed him, lifting his legs at the same time and bundling him into the back seats. “I know,” he whispered, “I’m sorting it. You stay here while I get this done.” Face stared at him and Hannibal could see the shock setting in, knew how Face felt about taking a life, the way it always hit him. “You had no choice,” he reassured him, desperate to get this mess tidied up, desperate to get out before the cops showed up. “He was gonna kill us both, Face. And Murdock and BA, probably your mom and Eddie too. You had no choice.”
He got no answer, Face just pulled his legs up and curled into himself on the leather of the back seats while Hannibal hauled Pike’s body into the trunk, picked up their guns, poured gas from a can in the back all over the ground and then threw a match, watching in grim satisfaction as the alley went up in flames. He forced himself to drive slowly and carefully away from the mini inferno, back out onto the main street and away from the hospital as the first sirens sounded off in the distance.
Face was fairly unaware of the drive to meet up with Murdock and BA and the van. He knew that’s where they were going, could hear Hannibal on his cell as he drove, making arrangements, reassuring Murdock that they were both okay, but he was buried so deep in his own personal fog he could never have said whether they had taken ten minutes or ten days to get to where they were going.
They met up at the back of a car park in a rest station and Hannibal was ruthlessly efficient the second he pulled over next to the van. He stalked around to the back door of the Cadillac and hauled Face out, his hands firm but gentle and then carried his unresponsive lover over to the open door of the van. Murdock was waiting in the driver’s seat as Hannibal laid Face in the back, stroking his hair and kissing him quickly on the lips.
“Murdock is gonna drive up to the house with you kid,” he whispered quickly. “Me and BA have to sort some stuff and then we’ll follow you.”
He tried to pull away but Face reached up and grabbed him, his fingers gripping like claws in his desperation. “No,” he gasped and Hannibal felt a spike of sympathy rush through him. “Don’t boss, don’t leave me please, don’t leave me.”
“Hey, kimosabe,” Murdock’s voice, strained and on edge but forcibly cheerful reached back from the driver’s seat. “Don’t you worry about nothin’, here, you an’ me are gonna have a nice drive up into the hills an’ Hannibal and the big guy will be there before we know it, right bossman?”
“Right,” Hannibal agreed, peeling Face’s fingers off his arm and sliding out of the door of the van.
“John, please...” Face begged and Hannibal hardened his resolve.
“I have to go,” he told him firmly, “I have to sort this,” and Face withdrew, understanding in his eyes and curled back in on himself again, wrapping his arms around his torso as he watched Hannibal get to his feet outside. Looking at the devastation in his boy’s expression, the colonel sighed. He and BA needed to do this right now, they needed to tidy up all these loose ends, and after that – shit – he knew he’d have some major repairs to do with Face as well.
Murdock kept up a steady and chipper monologue all the way up to the house in the mountains they were renting for the next few weeks. It was a tough job, as the only words Face spoke in the entire two hour drive were to ask Murdock to pull over when his concussion made him bring up his dinner all over the side of the road.
They set off again almost at once, Murdock keen to get somewhere safe and Face added frequently to the contents of the bucket Murdock had given him on the long drive through the rapidly darkening night.
When they arrived, Murdock left Face curled around the bucket in the back of the van while he checked the place out, switched on the electricity and quickly allocated the rooms. Then he came back, and, cheerful voice firmly in place, helped Face from the back of the van and straight into the master bathroom where he had already started the huge bath running.
“I’m fine, Murdock,” Face said tiredly when he saw what was going on. “I don’t need a bath, I just need to go to bed.”
“Course you need a bath!” Murdock told him brightly, “’Cause I’m the one who washes all the sheets an’ I aint washing sheets that you’ve mucked all over on purpose, Face. Look at the state of you!”
Face didn’t need to look, he could feel the dirt and the grime, the sweat and the blood all over him, and Murdock’s comments about the sheets were a little off as well, they all took turns with the chores, the only thing that Murdock did more than the others was cook. But deep in his head, Face knew that Murdock was right, and that his friend only wanted the best for him, so he stripped down slowly and let Murdock help him into the water, sighing as the heat immediately soothed every ache and pain other than the ones inside him.
He lay back in the water as Murdock gently washed him down, poked about in the back of his head, removing tiny fragments of shrapnel with some tweezers and finally numbed and cleaned the gash on his head before sealing it with wound glue. Then he let himself be towelled dry and led to the bedroom where the duvet was turned down and his sleep shorts were already out and waiting for him.
Clean and dry, but with his body pulsing in pain, his stomach rolling with nausea and nightmares already creeping into his fuddled brain, he dragged the shorts on and crawled under the duvet, wondering if he could hold it all together just until Hannibal got back. But he didn't have to worry, just as the shaking was starting to get the better of him and turn into something a little closer to convulsing, he felt the bed dip and smelt Murdock’s familiar body spray as his best friend in all the world climbed, fully dressed, under the covers with him. He immediately turned towards that warmth and Murdock was there for him, opening his arms and letting Face crush himself up against Murdock’s hard chest. Within seconds the shaking was subsiding, morphing into something more like trembling, and Murdock’s big hands were on his head and his back, keeping away from the shrapnel site, but just holding, soothing, comforting, and with two hands full of t-shirt, Face let himself start to come down.
Face was sleeping, but Murdock was wide awake when he heard Hannibal and BA come in just short of three a.m. He lay still, holding Face securely while he slept and lifted his head to acknowledge he was awake when Hannibal cracked the door open. Hannibal nodded back, let his eyes run over Face’s sleeping form and then crept back out into the hallway. Murdock gave him a few minutes, made sure that his arrival hadn’t disturbed Face’s sleep, and then gently extracted himself from his friend’s grip, sliding out of the bed and following the sound of quiet voices down the stairs.
BA and Hannibal were both sat at the island in the middle of the kitchen, one on either side with two glasses and a bottle of Johnny Walker between them. BA leaned over to snag a third glass for Murdock while Hannibal pulled out a stool for him. “He okay?” he asked quietly as BA poured two fingers into the whisky glass.
Murdock downed them in one and BA filled his glass again.
“He’s okay,” he answered softly, “but really, really freaked out. What the fuck happened?”
Hannibal sighed and rubbed at his forehead before quickly relating everything that had occurred since he had left the house that morning. When he’d finished, the three sat in silence, each mulling over their own particular thoughts.
“Shit boss,” Murdock eventually whispered into the silence. “What if... what if Pike had decided to be a little more straightforward and a little less of a jackass? You’d be dead right now, both of you.”
BA shifted uncomfortably and Hannibal rubbed two fingers across his forehead. “But we’re not,” he ground out flatly. He couldn’t get that image of Face laid out in the alley, lifting the gun up to his head, pulling the trigger, actually pulling the fucking trigger, out of his head at all. It was like it was on a perpetually repeating loop, burning itself into his mind.
“He thought you were dead, Hannibal,” Murdock offered, reading the look in Hannibal’s eyes and automatically defending Face.
“I know, but how could he do that? I just-” he stopped, they all stopped, straining their ears to catch the sound drifting down from upstairs.
“Fuck...” in a moment, Hannibal was on his feet, running for the stairs, hearing Face’s shouts, wondering where the weapons were, wondering what he’d find in that bedroom... He burst through the door and saw Face was sitting upright in the sheets, awake now, his eyes confused and downright scared. He looked over at Hannibal standing in the doorway and then they both moved, Face leaning forwards, reaching out for the comfort, Hannibal climbing right onto the bed, crawling up and gathering him into his arms, both of them far, far too close to knowing what it was like to be alone.
They stayed like that, immobile in each other’s arms for long, silent minutes until Face needed more and edged around, letting his eyes stay closed and his lips feel their way along Hannibal’s jaw until he was close enough to reach the older man’s lips. He stretched up, pressing his own mouth firmly against Hannibal’s and slipping his tongue out to flick against closed lips, asking for the entrance he was always granted.
Not this time though. One minute Face was being held securely, his cock just starting to swell slightly at the promise of what was to come, the next he was being roughly pushed away, so hard he fell back against the headboard and Hannibal swung himself around, presenting his stiff back to Face as he let his head fall down into his hands.
Face was stunned into silence for almost a minute as the piercing pain of rejection slowly filtered through his body to pool coldly in his heart. And then it hit him, why Hannibal was turning him away, what he’d done in that alley, the way he’d killed Silas Pike. Shot after shot after shot he’d let rip into the bastard, and why? Because he’d lost control, let his emotions get the better of him and allowed his heart to rule his head. Stupid. Hannibal was always telling him he had to stop and think, he couldn’t get away with reacting like a five year old, that one day it would get someone killed.
Well, today it had done, but only Pike, who’d wanted to kill them all and hadn’t Hannibal said that was okay? That Face had had no choice? Or had he only said that to get him into the car? To let Hannibal clear up his mess and get their butts out of there before the cops turned up?
When they’d started on this whole ‘Soldiers of Fortune’ thing, Hannibal had told them, over and over again, that it was not their role to be a lynch mob. They would stop the bad guys and present them and enough evidence to the police so that they could be taken care of in an appropriate way. If the need was strong enough then they would use deadly force, but otherwise – no; in no circumstances at all were they going to turn into vigilantes.
So, was that what this was all about? That Face had killed Pike in cold blood when there had been no real need? Hannibal wasn’t dead, had never even been shot; all Face needed to have done was to turn around and look and they could have taken care of Pike in a much less bloodthirsty manner. But he hadn’t, he’d ended up blasting the guy’s internal organs all over the wall in the alley, and now Hannibal was disgusted in him, in the bloodlust he’d seen in Face’s eyes as he repeatedly pulled that trigger, so disgusted that he wouldn't let Face kiss him, didn’t want to hold him anymore... and where the hell did that leave their relationship now? His insides turned to ice, was it over? Was Hannibal so appalled in him that he didn’t want him in the team anymore? In his bed? Face swallowed hard, he couldn’t let that happen, he just couldn’t – he would do anything on earth to stop it.
“I’m sorry...” he choked out and Hannibal twitched slightly, looking at Face from under the hand cradling his head. “I can’t believe I did that,” he whispered, “I should never have shot him like that.”
That eye slid shut again and Hannibal wilted even more, his sigh clearly audible in the silence following Face’s words. The quiet stretched on and Face began to panic. He felt nauseous once more and wasn’t sure if it were due to his concussion or the waves of disapproval he could feel rolling off the boss. His heart was hammering against his ribs and he was sweating, that nasty cold sweat of fear. He couldn’t believe that his apology had fallen on deaf ears the way it had; if anything it had only seemed to stoke Hannibal’s resentment of him even higher. So if the apology had failed then what was left for him? Justification seemed the next best alternative.
“I thought you were dead,” he offered plaintively, “I saw him shoot at you, heard the shots, saw him laughing. How the fuck was I supposed to know he was only playing mind games?” Hannibal got to his feet and walked to the window, staring out sightlessly, tension obvious in every plane of his body from his folded arms to the veins that were standing out on his neck.
Face shifted to the edge of the bed, testing his swollen ankle on the floor and willed Hannibal to turn and face him, tell him it was alright, he understood. When no such reassurances came, he ploughed on. “So, maybe I didn’t do it the way you would have done, maybe I messed up where you wouldn’t have. But, shit, John, I did my fucking best!”
Still Hannibal stayed still and silent, staring out of the window and Face slowly got to his feet, the panic and the adrenalin in his veins masking the pain in his foot. “I know I shouldn’t have killed him,” he stated to Hannibal’s rigid back, “I know you always say that brings us right down to their level and we are better than that, should be better than that,” he shook his head and took a step in, tentatively resting a hand on Hannibal’s shoulder, “but I... I just lost it for a second there, I thought I’d lost you!”
Hannibal made a disgusted little growl and shrugged Face’s hand off him, a movement that hurt more than anything that Face had suffered at Pike’s hands in the last week. He recoiled physically from the man he loved, stumbling a little in his shock and suddenly the room was far too small and Hannibal’s presence was far too painful and he just needed to get away. He leaned heavily on the chest of drawers as he forced his ankle to take his weight long enough to get to the door and then he stopped, tears in his eyes, his throat as tight as a bow, shaking from the effort of standing on his own two feet. He gripped the door handle tightly and stared down at the beige carpet, determined to have one last go at bringing Hannibal round.
“I’m sorry John,” he whispered, the bitterness of his words impossible to miss. “I’m so fucking sorry that I’ve let you down here. But I did it because I love you,” he implored. “Because I thought he’d hurt you and I fucking love you.” There was no response. “You have no idea how I felt,” his voice scratched at his throat on the way out. “No idea what it was like to have to watch the man I love scythed down in front of me like that by a psycho with a gun...”
He depressed the handle, but before he had chance to even start to open the door, Hannibal was on him, swinging him around and slamming his back into the wall next to the door so hard he hit his head yet again. He started to slide down but then the boss was there, a big hand around his throat, holding him up, his furious face just inches from his lieutenant’s and Face froze, recognising a Hannibal Smith right at the end of his rope when he saw one. “No, Face I don’t!” Hannibal spat, boiling hot fury evident in every syllable. “But I do know how it feels to watch some dickhead with a piece threaten to blow you apart right in front of me ‘cause I’ve seen it, haven’t I? Too many fucking times to count!”
Face knew that was true, he’d felt that terror himself. But this was different, this time he’d really thought that Hannibal was dead.
“But they were all assholes,” Hannibal continued, “Pike one of the biggest ones going. What about if it’s not an asshole wielding the gun? What then, hey, Face? What then?”
Face just stared at him, thoroughly confused.
“You, Tried. To. Kill. Yourself!” Hannibal iterated, punctuating each word by banging Face against the wall. “I sat and watched as you lifted that gun and put it to your own fucking head! Your own head Face! How do you think that made me feel? What in fuck’s name were you even thinking?”
Things finally slid into place in Face’s head and he struggled against the hand on his throat. “I thought you were dead!” he defended himself desperately.
“You should have looked!” Hannibal yelled at him. “You should have fucking well checked!”
Face was rapidly losing control himself and the pressure of Hannibal’s grip on his neck was beginning to hurt. He wrapped both his hands around Hannibal’s wrists even as he started yelling back. “I didn’t want to see you dead! I didn’t want to remember you like that, all shot up and gone!”
“And that would have mattered? When you were planning on offing yourself anyway?” Face’s mouth opened but no sound came out. “And so I have to watch you blow your own fucking brains out all over the fucking ground instead then do I?!” Hannibal spat back. “DO I?!!”
Face had no answer to that, and with his silence, Hannibal’s fury ran out to be replaced by tragic resignation. “How can I ever trust you again after this?” he asked, the rawness of his voice impossible to miss.
“What?” Face asked quietly, shocked by the realisation of what he’d done.
“How can I let you go out on a job knowing that this is what you would do if the shit really hit the fan?” Hannibal asked him. “How can I let you run the risk of getting captured if I think you are gonna add yourself to the ‘death in custody’ statistics? How can I carry on this relationship with you if I think that every time we fight I’m gonna find you swinging from a rope somewhere?”
“John, I...” Face started, but he was soon cut off.
“I can’t trust you Face, I just can’t. And without trust then what the fuck is the point to all this?”
Face just stared, his eyes filling with moisture, the pain in his chest so acute he was having trouble breathing around it. “What do you mean?” he whispered, but Hannibal just shook his head and removed his hand, frowning at the marks he could already see standing out on Face’s skin.
“Just go to bed, Face,” he answered tiredly and turned at once, slipping out of the door, leaving Face to slide down the wall and slump into a heap on the carpet.
“She’s alive,” he said instead, watching how Face controlled himself, everything but that tiny softening of his stance that told Hannibal how relieved he was at the news. “But she’s unconscious, and I have no idea of her prognosis; the notes made little sense to me and Eddie wasn’t there to ask.”
Face nodded as he processed that information carefully. It was no surprise to him that Eddie wasn’t around, he hadn’t answered any of the numerous time Hannibal had called him over the last few days either. He rubbed absently at his jaw, wincing as his fingers inadvertently pressed on the bruise from Silas’ gun butt where it stretched down the side of his face and flicked his eyes up to Hannibal’s. “I should have come with you,” he said quietly. “Maybe she would have woken up if she’d heard me there.”
Doing his best to contain his sigh, Hannibal forced out a sad smile. He’d been relieved no end when Face had said he couldn’t bring himself to go to the hospital before they skipped town, Hannibal knew that the kid wasn’t ready, either physically or emotionally, and he himself just couldn’t face sweeping the broken pieces of his boy up off the floor one more time. The last thing he needed now was Face beating himself up over that decision.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “it wouldn’t have made any difference, they’ve probably got her sedated anyway, and I didn’t get chance to talk to her, she was too close to the nurse’s station.” Again Face nodded but Hannibal could still see the guilt in his eyes. “Don’t worry about it,” he said gently, “if you decide you want to see her again in the next few weeks sometime, then we’ll come back, okay? Maybe when you don't stand out quite so much.” Hannibal was trying to lighten the mood a little, but knew that Face with his sling and the stick and all the bruising around his face was pretty hard to miss at the minute. “This was supposed to be a covert operation remember?”
Face let a wry grin slide through his expression, as Hannibal reached out and gripped his knee firmly. “Anyway, there’s nothing else we can do here,” he fixed Face’s troubled eyes with his own. “We know she’s still fighting this, still hanging on so now we do what we had planned – get you and Murdock back in top form and then go hunting for that bastard Pike, right?”
“Right,” Face agreed fairly unenthusiastically and Hannibal rose to his feet.
“Come on then, kid,” he said firmly, “let’s get this show on the road.”
Taking a deep breath, Face started to rise, leaning heavily on his stick and trying to put as little weight onto his ankle as possible. It wasn’t broken, but it was pretty badly banged up and it was obvious that he shouldn’t even have been on it yet. He’d been pretty insistent on coming on this little trip to the hospital though, and Hannibal sighed, wondering if it had been a mistake even letting him get up out of bed this morning.
Maybe it was because Hannibal was so concerned about Face’s ankle and the damage that he’d done by walking on it so soon, or maybe it was just due to the fact that he didn’t ever dream that Silas would be as bold as to turn up outside a city centre hospital at eleven o’ clock in the morning; but whatever the reason, Hannibal had, uncharacteristically, let his guard down as he watched Face prepare to struggle to his feet, so the gun barrel in his back and the hand on his shoulder came as a very, very unpleasant surprise.
“Well, hello there, old man,” Silas sneered right into his ear, making Hannibal’s toes curl in hatred. “I suggest you stand nice and still and don’t even think about going for your piece, or I aerate your spleen for you right here.”
Hannibal stood stock still as Pike fished his gun out of the waistband of his cords and glanced down at Face who was still on the bench, staring at Silas with a look of complete loathing in his expression. “And you, sweet cheeks,” Silas grinned at him, “I’ve not got hollow points here you know, I could take you both out with the same bullet, no sweat.”
Face’s eyes slid over to Hannibal and then back to Pike, but in that look a whole plan had been conveyed and finalised. It was the same plan they always tended to use in situations like this, and Face found it a depressing reflection of their lives that they even had a ‘one member of the team held at gunpoint’ standard response. Hannibal, being the one that had the barrel in his ribs would be the one to cause the distraction and Face, being the one who was relatively free to move, would do it whatever way he saw fit. Great, Face thought cynically, foolproof...
“Okay then boys,” Silas was being annoyingly chipper at this point in proceedings and Face knew that that didn’t bode at all well for the rest of the day as far as he and Hannibal were concerned. “Let’s get going, I have a car parked just around the corner there, and I think it’s such a nice day we should go for a ride, hey?”
Hannibal clamped his jaw tightly together, despite the temptation, it wasn’t wise to mouth off to someone as clearly unstable as Pike in a situation where he had a loaded gun in his ribs; he’d made the mistake of underestimating him once today, he sure as hell wasn’t going to do that again. His eyes flicked to Face once more as the kid finally heaved himself to his feet and he hoped that his smart mouth would stay closed as well.
“You alright there, then handsome?” Silas sneered at Face. “You’re looking a little peaky. Had a bad week?”
Hannibal held his breath, but Face just responded with a muttered, “Go to hell, Pike,” which had Silas laughing as they turned and made their way towards the alley way where the Cadillac was parked.
As they walked, slowly, with Face trying not to put any weight on his ankle at all, Hannibal forced aside all his self recrimination and concentrated on getting them both out of there in one piece. Face was still in a pretty bad way, he shouldn't even have been walking around out here like this, and there was absolutely no way in heaven or hell that Hannibal was going to let Pike hurt him again. Absolutely not, that was just not going to happen, but he knew he only had minutes to try and put something together.
He knew Face had read the plan from his expression in their one shared glance; it was a tried and tested method of escape that they had used over and over again during the past. However, today had its own added complications, the fact that Face really couldn’t even stand on his own yet and only had the use of one arm being the major difficulties, but the fact that they were out in a public area, people milling around them, oblivious to their plight, only made it more complex; there was no way that Hannibal could be responsible for starting a shoot out in the street on a busy lunch time.
“Come on, Peck,” Silas suddenly snarled, shocking Hannibal back to the here and now with a brutal jab of the gun barrel into his ribs, “Stop being such a fucking Queen and get a move on. I saw you earlier you know, I know you can walk faster than this, now shift.”
Face didn't look around but he did speed up slightly and Hannibal narrowed his eyes. His first thought at Pike’s words were that Face was deliberately walking slowly to give them a little more time to come up with something, but then he noticed the grey tinge to the kid’s face, the way his lips were pressed tightly together, and with a sinking feeling running right through his chest he realised that Face was in pain, in real, soul sucking pain, probably from his ankle and at that realisation, he watched as their chances of escape took an abrupt down turn.
Pike was incorrigible though, whistling happily now as they turned the corner into the alley way and suddenly everything went darker and quieter and Hannibal felt as if they had entered a shady, dangerous tunnel, with only one way in or out.
“Okay!” Pike sing songed as they reached the car. “I want your piece on the ground Peck, nice and slowly. I think you are pissing me at all, then the colonel here gets it. Capiche?”
Face didn't reply, he looked like he was struggling to stay on his feet, but he did reach back and pull his gun out of the waistband of his trousers slowly and carefully, holding Pike’s stare the whole time as he threw it to the ground to land a few feet to the left.
“Good boy,” Silas smiled patronisingly at him. “And now, if you just reach into the back seat of the car there, you will find a roll of duct tape. You need to get it out and you are going to come over here and use it on Smith for me. Off you go.”
For a second Face didn’t move, but then his eyes slid over to Hannibal and at the almost imperceptible nod he saw there, he leaned off the car and tugged the rear door open, bracing himself on the front seat as he reached in to snag the roll of tape.
It was as he straightened up that Hannibal made his move, suddenly sagging slightly against Pike, his head lolling and doing a perfect impersonation of someone on the edge of a faint. “What the fuck!?” Silas exclaimed, staggering as Hannibal leaned on him before rolling himself upright again even as he reeled forward.
“He’s gonna faint,” Face supplied, the fear in his voice real as he couldn’t quite believe that Hannibal was going for such a high risk manoeuvre. He started forward, only to freeze as Silas swung the gun from his pocket with its long suppressor on the barrel and pointed it at Face instead. Then Hannibal staggered again, stumbling into Pike and pushing him towards Face before finally collapsing to the ground in a fully credible impersonation of a dead faint.
For perhaps half a second, Silas was struck dumb, his gun pointing aimlessly in the space between his two captives and his mind undecided. It was within that tiny window of opportunity that Face moved, closing down the part of his brain that recognised pain he stepped forward and, slipping his arm out of its sling, grabbed Pike with both hands, stepping back and pulling him head first into the side of the car with all his strength.
Silas, however, was solidly built, and like BA before him, Face had underestimated that fact. Instead of hitting the car head first with enough force to crack bone, Pike only suffered a glancing blow, enough to hurt and bring up an egg on his forehead, but not enough even to stun. He staggered to his feet and Face, trapped between the open car door and the body of the vehicle itself, automatically lifted a foot to kick the still-poised weapon from Silas’ hand before he recovered enough presence of mind to use it. Unfortunately that meant transferring all his weight onto his damaged ankle, which, even though Face could have bitten down on the pain hard enough to get him through, was simply not strong enough to hold all his weight on its own and collapsed right underneath him.
He dropped like a stone, grabbing at the back seat and the door handle to save his butt from landing on the ground and, fast as lightening, just as Hannibal was launching himself forward, Silas moved. He reached out and grabbed the door, swinging it shut as hard as he could and smartly trapping Face’s head between the edge of the door and the frame of the car. There was a sickening thud and as the door bounced back open with the force of the slam, Face slithered down out of the gap and lay, bleeding from a fresh wound to his head, unconscious at Pike’s feet. Within a second the gun was trained on him and Hannibal froze, breathing hard as he looked at his adversary, who was silently poking at the purpling lump on his forehead, a look of purest loathing on his face.
Face had no idea how long he had been unconscious. He awoke to a strong smell of petrol and a pounding head, and for a moment he wondered if he were back in the lock-up with Silas determined to give death-by-car-fumes one more go. He listened hard, so well versed in the act of waking up in dodgy situations that he didn’t move, didn’t make a sound, and didn’t even let his eyes flicker to let on that he was awake.
Once the ringing in his ears settled down, he heard voices, no, one voice, and his stomach rolled as he realised it was Silas Pike, and with the smug edge he could hear to it, knew that their escape attempt had failed.
Pike’s voice was behind him, and so far away that Face couldn’t work out anything he was saying. He opened his eyes, but it took a few moments before he could persuade them to focus on anything and then he found that he was still lying where he’d fallen in the filth next to the Cadillac. He couldn’t see Silas or Hannibal, but could still hear Pike’s smug monotone behind him and risked twisting his neck, looking back towards the alley wall. His eyes swam into focus and his stomach clenched in pure fear; Hannibal was laid on the ground in a pile of trash bags and empty cardboard boxes. Face knew it was him as he could see the dark brown cords and camel coloured sweater that he knew he’d been wearing that morning. He could also see the boss’ hands, wrapped up together with duct tape around the wrists and laying loosely over his stomach and he could tell by the way that they were all bruised and marked up that he’d been fighting with Silas.
The man himself was standing over Hannibal, breathing hard and bleeding from more than one place himself and, as Face began to slowly, slowly drag himself to his feet, he raised his gun from his side and pointed it at his prisoner, his words finally loud enough to hear. “You sure you don’t fear me old man?” Even though Face strained to listen, he couldn’t hear Hannibal’s reply at all, but he could hear Silas’ responding laugh. “Well, you should fear me. Peck does, he knows the pain I can inflict on him, the pain I am going to inflict on him once I’m through with you.” Face froze, knowing that he was too far away to get to Hannibal’s side and looking around desperately at the place where he’d thrown his Glock. It wasn’t there, of course it wasn’t there, but then Silas cocked his gun, the sound reverberating around the tight space and Face knew he’d run out of time.
He got to his feet, staggering as his head reeled and feeling the shooting pains in his ankle, his head, his ribs and his arm. He was slightly behind and to the right of Silas, maybe ten feet behind, literally in his blind spot and he knew that he had seconds to get there and knock him off his feet, give Hannibal the chance to get up and come bail him out. No sooner was that thought in his head, however, than Silas cocked his head on one side, considering Hannibal carefully. “You sure?” he prompted and even as Face was making his way over, gritting through the pain and deciding which angle was the best to tackle the bastard from, Silas’ gun spoke. Once, twice, three times, four, five, six... the silenced barrel popped in the alley way, sending shock waves reverberating up and down and Face staggered to a halt, his mind reeling in total disbelief.
Pike was at point blank range, his gun aiming straight to where Hannibal’s chest would be and Face looked over, terrified of what he would see but still only his colonel’s legs were visible, the rest of his body hidden by the boxes and Pike lowered his gun and laughed. That laugh broke through Face’s stunned shock and he literally propelled himself forward, blind, gut wrenching, agonised fury the only thing fuelling him on. He was maybe five steps from Silas now, who was still laughing, the gun held loosely in his hand and as he covered those steps, all he could hear were those pops again, over and over and over again. All he could see in his mind’s eye was Hannibal’s body as it leapt and jumped under the impact of the bullets. All he could imagine was the look of shock and pain on his lover’s face as it registered that he had been shot, that he was dying, that he was never going to get out of here and so neither was Face.
Face knew he was dead, knew that no one, not even the legendary and his most beloved Hannibal Smith could escape being shot like that from so close a range, and because of that – the fact that Hannibal was dead – Face realised that absolutely nothing else on earth mattered anymore; nothing. With that thought in his head, he tackled Pike around the waist even as he finally became aware of Face’s presence and turned, lifting his gun to finish the job. He never had the chance, Face’s grief leant him the strength and fury of a thousand men, and he slammed Silas’ wrists against the wall, spilling the gun from his grasp before following through with a solid right hook to the jaw.
Silas however, was no slouch himself, and even if Face’s rise from the ashes had taken him by surprise, he pulled himself together pretty quickly after that and rolled with Face’s fist, absorbing some of the impact and then bringing his own fist round, smashing into his adversary’s nose, showering them both with tiny droplets of blood as he did. For the second time in an hour, Face dropped like a stone, but this time only stunned, and the sight of Silas’ gun, laid in the garbage right at his finger tips, soon snapped him back into full awareness.
It was in his hand and swinging around even as Silas’ face was starting to cloud with fear. Face didn’t hesitate, his finger squeezed and shot off round after round, his aim automatically altering as Silas jerked back with the impact of the first bullet then started his own slide to the ground, eyes wide and shocked. Face didn’t see that though, through his increasingly blurring vision all he saw was Hannibal as Silas shot him again and again, and it didn’t matter how many times he pulled the trigger himself, that searing pain he felt in every fibre of his existence didn’t diminish in the slightest; so he stopped. He let himself slump down, flat to the ground himself even as Silas mirrored his movements, his eyes wide and unmistakably empty.
For a second there was silence, only the sound of Face’s ragged breathing reached his ears, but then he heard a choking sob, and as he closed his eyes against the welling tears he realised that it came from him but it still didn’t help, nothing would help him now, there was nothing in his life, nothing to love, nothing to cherish – nothing to even breathe for. Of all the things that Adele had stolen from him over the years, his childhood, his father, his home, his innocence – this was by far the worst. Her intervention in his life, leading Silas Pike right to him like this, had cost him Hannibal - his entire reason for living, his only reason to carry on breathing, the centre of his world.
There was no doubt in Face’s mind what he needed to do now. He was sprawled in an alley way with two dead bodies full of bullets, the gun that killed them both still in his hand. Even though the shots had been suppressed Face knew that they would have been heard by someone, and that it wouldn’t be long before the police arrived. So he needed to get up, to move the bodies into the Cadillac, to find some keys on Pike and get the hell out of here.
But he couldn’t, he just... couldn’t. How could he force himself up and look at Hannibal now? Did he want to see what the bullets had done to the man he loved more than anything else in existence? No, of course he didn’t, he didn't want to do that, he didn't want to do anything anymore – nothing mattered. Not Pike or the cops or Adele, or even, God forgive him, Murdock and BA. The only thing there was in his life now was pain, pain he knew just how to get rid of.
Almost in a daze he lifted his arm, Pike’s gun still wrapped tight in his fingers and moved it until he could feel the cool metal of the barrel on his forehead. He didn’t bother opening his eyes but forced himself to breathe deeply, he could do this, all he needed was a moment, a second of calm and he could do it, pull that trigger and it would all be over, every pain he’d ever experienced wouldn’t even be a memory any more.
His finger twitched and he paused, wondering where he would end up, wondering if the teachings from the orphanage were right and he was about to sin, would go straight to hell for what he was about to do. But then he realised he was already in hell anyway, so what did it even matter? He squeezed the trigger.
“’Fraid so, captain,” Hannibal replied, noticing that Face’s second bag of blood was two thirds through and bending to take his BP again. “And how are you feeling now?”
He saw Murdock’s shoulders under the thin hospital gown stoop and his head drop to stare at the floor before the pilot answered him. “I’m okay thanks, sir,” he whispered, “I’m sorry I zoned out on y’all there, dunno what came over me.”
Hannibal froze and stared at Murdock’s bent head. “Murdock,” he instructed firmly, “son, look at me here.” Murdock raised his head, his flushed, embarrassed face the last thing Hannibal needed to see at the moment. “You do know,” he said softly, “that you were poisoned don’t you? That Adele laced the cordial with some psychoactive plant?”
By the look on Murdock’s face, it was obvious he didn’t know. “She... she did that...?” he stammered, his eyes flicking to Face on the cot as sudden, horrific realisation washed over him, “and that?” he nodded, his voice rising the whole time.
Too damn exhausted and worried to get irate alongside Murdock just now, Hannibal only nodded as he finished off the BP reading, keeping his eyes on his captain, hoping that the news wouldn’t bring on a relapse.
“Fucking hell fire...” Murdock breathed, looking pale and shocked. “I mean, I knew she was up to no good, but wanting that for her boy,” he shook his head and Hannibal frowned at the tears he saw in Murdock’s eyes. “He doesn’t deserve that Hannibal does he? Poor Faceman...”
Hannibal sighed and got to his feet wondering if he could donate another unit of blood for Face as the kid’s BP was on its way down again, “Murdock,” he said soothingly, trying to keep the worry from his face, “he’s gonna be fine now. He’s got us, and you know that’s all he needs.” He pulled the covers back on the cot Murdock was sitting on. “Come on,” he instructed, “you’re cold and you still look a little washed out, get under the covers and try to rest.”
Murdock let Hannibal help him into bed and then stretched his hand out across the divide, trying to reach Face again. Hannibal moved out of the gap between the two cots and pushed on Murdock’s, sliding them until they were flush together. “Thanks bossman,” Murdock mumbled as he turned onto his side and lay one arm over Face’s chest, the other curling around his head, then he closed his eyes and Hannibal could tell he was asleep even before he’d managed to rig up the blood donation kit for himself.
It had been only three weeks since he’d given blood himself, but he didn’t want to run the risk of not having any available should it become essential that Face get some more, so settled down to watch his charges and the clock as the bag at his side slowly filled with warm, fresh AB+.
The unmistakable growl of the van’s souped-up engine startled him when BA had been gone just over seventy minutes. Hannibal surreptitiously slid his gun from its holster and snapped the safety off, keeping it hidden by his side for the time being as he listened to footsteps approaching the doors. Then there was the sound of a key in the lock and he allowed himself to relax just a tiny bit before the doors swung open and BA’s reassuring presence was looking in at him.
“Okay?” they asked simultaneously, and Hannibal allowed himself a dry smile. “Both sleeping,” he reported quickly. “And you?”
“No probs,” he answered, walking back to drive the van in, “no sign of anyone an’ I cleared the whole house of our stuff.”
Hannibal nodded, relieved beyond anything that BA had completed his mission uneventfully, but now faced with a decision that he’d always hoped he wouldn’t have to make.
Within minutes BA was standing next to him, looking down at Murdock and Face and the way that the pilot was still wrapped around their unresponsive team mate. “Well?” he asked quietly, knowing that Hannibal would know exactly what he was getting at.
A long drawn out sigh was the only answer he got at first, but then he watched as Hannibal reached out and placed a hand on Face’s shin, stroking the limb under the covers with his thumb as he spoke. “His BP is still dropping, I’m worried he’s got internal bleeding, I don't think we have much of a choice here.”
They looked at each other in silent conversation before BA asked, “You want to take him in now?”
The agony on Hannibal’s face was clearly visible. “I suppose so, but once they see those marks on his body, the bullet wound, they’re gonna call the cops for sure, maybe even finger print him anyway.” The same thoughts had occurred to BA as well, but what could they do? If Face was bleeding internally, then keeping him here was akin to shooting him dead themselves. Eventually Hannibal came to his decision. “One more bag of fluid,” he said quietly. “If his BP doesn’t pick up with this bag, we’ll take him in.”
BA added his sigh to Hannibal’s and then passed him a clear plastic folder, “Here,” he said watching Hannibal’s face carefully, “this is his emergency pack.”
Hannibal took it and opened it, looking at the top sheet before dropping the whole packet onto the floor at his feet and burying his face in one hand.
BA walked past him, squeezing his shoulder as he went by, giving the boss a bit of space and privacy to get himself back together. It had hit BA in almost the same way when he had looked at Face’s self-made file back at the house, although, really, he thought later, he should never have been surprised. Wasn’t it obvious that Face, the boy who wanted nothing more than a family and an identity of his own, should call himself ‘Jack Smith’ in his emergency i.d. pack?
Three days later...
Hannibal looked at all the hospital monitors as they bleeped and flashed and wondered if he could work out what each one was actually doing here. But then he realised it didn't matter, all he had to know was that they were bringing life to the broken body on the bed, and that as long as they continued to do that, he wouldn’t worry about them.
He had taken a huge risk coming in here, but three days without word had been almost more than could be tolerated. He’d had the place under surveillance of course, and knew that the police were very, very suspicious of the tale they’d been told and the injuries they had seen. It would only be a matter of time before something similar to the truth came out and then there would be no going back. Hannibal only hoped that he was long gone by then, dragging the rest of the team down with him would be the greatest sin he could ever commit. But eventually he’d decided the risk in one single visit to ICU was worth it, after all, they were driving up into the mountains later this same day, so who knew when he would be able to get the opportunity to come back? Maybe this was the only chance there would be to explain that they were going out of town, maybe for quite a while...
But when the push came to the shove, he hadn’t said a word to the pale, still figure lying in the bed, had only stared and tried to work out the medical jargon in the notes at the end of the bed and if he had done the right thing three days ago, was doing the right thing now. He pulled his surgical mask up a little higher, knowing that the strict anti contamination rules they had in place here were protecting him from the ever present CCTV cameras as well.
He sighed and took a step closer to the bed, determined to say what he had come here to say, deliver the messages he wanted to stay behind as he left LA, possibly for quite a while, but as he opened his mouth to start he heard voices out at the Nurse’s station in the corridor and looked up, brow creasing at the two cops leaning on the desk, obviously showing the nurse on duty there a photograph.
Hannibal took a step back, as the nurse shook her head, but pointed in his direction anyway and Hannibal knew his time was up. With one last, long look at the silent figure on the bed, he slipped around the bed, and keeping his mask on and his head down, walked in the opposite direction to the nurse’s station until he came to the fire exit right at the far end. Without a backwards glance, he buried his regrets, along with his gown, cap and mask, in the linen chute and slipped out into the stairwell, heading up as fast as his long legs would carry him.
He went up to the seventh floor and then cut across the entire hospital until he came to the glass elevators overlooking the main street below. There were no police cars, no MPs and so Hannibal felt fairly safe in riding it down to the main entrance where he buried himself in the mass of people milling about and made sure he ‘sneezed’ at just the right time as he was passing the CCTV camera by the main doors.
In seconds he was out in the sunshine and striding purposefully toward where he had left his nondescript Station wagon, a replacement for the trusty Chevy, and knowing he had to get back to the warehouse soon as leaving Murdock and BA on their own for any length of time was just a complete recipe for disaster. He was almost there, could see its dirty brown front end jutting out further than any other car when a voice to one side startled him and he looked around.
Frowning at the sight that met his eyes, Hannibal looked quickly around and then changed his path, walking right up to the person who had called him, the person who was sitting on a bench in the sunshine, watching him carefully.
“What are you doing here?” Hannibal snapped as his opening greeting, “I told you I would only let you come if you waited in the car for me!”
Face shifted uncomfortably, leaning his stick against the bench so that he could adjust the sling that supported his arm. “It was fucking hot in the car,” he grumbled, “and I just wanted to know how she was,” he added plaintively, “just wanted to know if she’d made it...”
Sighing, Hannibal sat down next to him, letting a big hand rest gently on his knee as he forced himself to remember how hard all this had been on Face. That last bag of blood had done the trick, finally boosting his BP up into acceptable limits and Hannibal realised that maybe the kid had lost more blood than he had at first thought, and with a sense of relief so high, he had packed the emergency i.d back into the fireproof box where they stored all their most important things and settled down to watch Face through the night while his other two men caught up on their sleep.
It had been just after three in the morning, when a sharp intake of breath alerted Hannibal that Face was awake, and trying not to let his hopes soar too high, Hannibal had slipped of his chair and knelt on the floor next to the cot, stroking Face’s forehead and gripping his fingers tightly. “Hey baby,” he whispered and watched as Face’s pupils struggled to focus on him, “How you doing?”
It took a moment, but then that focus was clear and the most amazing, beautiful angel’s smile filled Face’s entire countenance. “Boss,” he whispered, quiet and exhausted still, “you got to me in time.”
Hannibal smiled back, tears in his eyes and stroked Face’s hair back off his forehead, “I did, sweetheart,” he whispered, “I did.”
Face let his eyes slip shut, but the smile remained. “Tired,” he said, already drifting off into a more natural sleep.
“Then go to sleep,” he whispered, “and we’ll all be here in the morning as well,” and Face had done just that while Hannibal watched him. And then when BA had woken and taken over the watch, Hannibal had pushed another cot along Face’s and Murdock’s and laid down, draping his arm next to Murdock’s and finally letting himself get some rest.
When Face awoke again, the sun was high in the sky, not that any of the occupants of the unit could see, there being no windows at all to let in the natural light, but that had been one of the reasons that Hannibal had chosen this particular unit in the first place. He came back to his senses slowly and cautiously, enough of the pain and terror of the last twenty hours remaining to pervade his foggy consciousness.
But then the feel of a hand in his hair and the identities of the voices around him permeated through the fear and, eyes starting to flicker, he smiled again, despite the pain from his injuries that were all starting to wake up and announce themselves to him.
“Hey, kiddo!” Hannibal’s deep voice was the first to direct itself at him in particular. “You back with us? How’re you feeling?”
Face opened his eyes to find his head on a pillow in Hannibal’s lap, his body stretched out on the cot and lovingly wrapped in blankets against the chill of the unit. Hannibal was sitting at the head of the cot, his back against the wall, BA perched on a chair next to them both and a pale looking Murdock was curled on his side under the blankets of the cot next to BA, his head, resting on two pillows, down at the end opposite Face.
“Urm, yeah,” he cleared his throat and shifted his weight slightly, “pretty much like BA rolled on me really. Yeah, like that.”
Hannibal and BA laughed, and Face was filled with a spreading warmth as he felt Hannibal’s laughter rumbling through his chest. “You wanna coffee there, Pretty?” BA asked him, already getting to his feet in anticipation of the answer.
“Fuck, yes,” Face answered and his stomach rolled loudly in agreement.
BA laughed again as he headed off to the other side of the unit, “I’ll find you somethin’ to eat as well then.”
Face smiled in thanks and turned to Murdock who hadn’t moved, hadn’t made a sound since he had awoken. “Hey, buddy,” he greeted him cautiously. “You feeling better now?”
Murdock nodded. “BA says you saved my life...” he said quietly. “From all them drugs I took. You know I never meant to.”
Face struggled to sit up and he felt Hannibal’s hand in his back, pushing him up, helping him to save his ribs. “Of course I know that,” Face reassured him earnestly. “I know you, HM, I know you didn’t mean it.”
Murdock nodded. “Thanks though,” his face was still sincere, “I appreciate it.”
Winking, Face smiled at him, swallowing around the lump in his throat, “You’re welcome, bud,” he knew from past experience that arguing with Murdock here was pointless and it was better to let his friend just get all this off his chest if that’s what he wanted. But then his expression darkened as a rather unwelcome memory suddenly came back. “After all,” he said bleakly, lying back in Hannibal’s lap, “it was my mother who tried to poison you...”
He missed the dark look that passed between Hannibal and Murdock at that point and closed his eyes for a moment, opening them again to smile flatly up at Hannibal but they were prevented from any further conversation by the arrival of BA with coffee and Pop Tarts.
Conversation had been nothing more than light banter as Face demolished his Pop Tarts, and BA went back to make him some more. But then, at a nod from Hannibal that Face really couldn’t miss, Murdock said he was going to go to the bathroom and try to get as good a wash as the tiny sink would allow him, while BA offered to go with him as the pilot was still a little unsure on his feet.
Face waited until they door to the tiny washroom had closed behind them and then he sat up again, wiping Pop Tart crumbs off the bandages wrapping up his ribs and twisting slightly to look over his shoulder at Hannibal. “Alright, boss,” he asked quietly, “what is it?” For a second it looked as though Hannibal was going to brazen it out, but then Face saw him visibly wilt and scrub a hand through his hair and look so tired and fed up that Face felt his heart start up in fear. “What?” he repeated, a little edgier this time.
Hannibal shifted forward and pulled the blankets around Face’s bare torso, frowning at the goose flesh he could already see between the dressings and the wounds, then held the blankets together in Face’s lap himself, straddling the cot right in front of his boy. “Boss...?” Face prompted again.
“Okay,” Hannibal swallowed and looked right into those fear filled blue eyes. Taking a deep breath, he started. “When we were leaving Pike’s lock-up, he was waiting to ambush us, he had some kind of automatic weapon with him.”
Face frowned, this was where he may expect to hear that one of the team were down, but they weren’t, he’d seen them with his own eyes, just three minutes ago, they were fine all fine, he looked up, his face pulled in confusion, and then something hit him, something that made his heart pound even faster and sweat stand out on his chilled skin. Hannibal shifted even closer and, keeping one fist tight on the blankets, let the other hand drift around onto Face’s hip, stroking him through the layers of fleece, keeping him grounded.
“He got in a lucky shot, hit Adele in the back of the head.”
“No!” Face physically recoiled, it was like he was the one who’d been shot and Hannibal kept a tight hold of the fleece, keeping him close, while the hand on his hip slipped around to the small of his back holding him steady.
“She was breathing when we left her, the EMT’s were only minutes away and she had a friend with her.” Face just stared, far too shocked to even say a word. “I haven’t been able to get through to her friend since though, and the hospital won’t tell me a thing, not even if she’s still alive or - not. I’m so sorry,” he finished lamely.
Still Face just looked at him and Hannibal felt his heart break for the kid, the confusion in his expression, the hurt, the hopelessness and the anger. They just stared, Face wrestling with all that was inside him before he finally, forlornly, shook his head, tears standing in his eyes. “I-,” he started and then swallowed, hard before trying again “All... All she ever did was lie to me, Hannibal,” he whispered brokenly. “She just used me to get to some fucking fictional pot of money that Pike spun had her a line on; she never loved me, never wanted me.” Hannibal rubbed his back trying to offer just a tiny crumb of comfort. “She lied about why she left me,” Face continued quietly. “She lied about how I was conceived, she lied about not knowing who my father was...” He shook his head, totally and utterly destroyed by it all and Hannibal stored away that fact about his father for later, to revisit at a better time.
“She never cared about me,” Face whispered and his eyes fell on Hannibal’s fist where it tightly gripped the blankets in his lap and, as he followed his boy’s stare, Hannibal felt his chest tighten at the two silver droplets he could see standing on the green fleece of the blanket.
He lifted his hand from Face’s back and ran it up to his nape instead, a solid, comforting presence and Face, taking strength from that support, took a deep, shuddering breath and ploughed on. “She didn’t help me when I really needed her to, when I was too small to fight my own battles, and then gave me away when she couldn’t face what she’d done,” he whispered and Hannibal filed that statement away for later as well. “She drank coffee while Pike tortured me,” he added, so matter of fact that it brought an involuntary tightening of the hand at his neck, “and she could have killed my best friend...”
Silence fell and Hannibal waited, his eyes on the back of Face’s bent neck, the mark from Silas’ injection still visible as Face struggled to hold it all together, his shoulders heaving with the effort of keeping things locked up tight. He took his own deep breath and forced his simmering anger back down; that was not what Face needed here, and Hannibal was determined to do whatever it was that Face needed. He leaned in and pressed a kiss on top of his boy’s dirty hair, trying to tell him it was okay to feel whatever he was feeling, that he was here for him, always would be.
Face looked up and, even though it was expected, Hannibal felt a searing pain in his chest on seeing those tear tracks down his cheeks. “So, why?” Face asked, his voice small in the huge space of the unit, his eyes, huge and shining and begging Hannibal for an answer. “Why do I care whether she’s dead or not?” he shook his head. “She certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep if it were me that’d been shot, so why do I care? Why does it hurt so much? Right fucking here.” His fist thumped hard over his heart at that last word, and Hannibal winced, knowing the pain inside that had led to that action, but also seeing the bruising to those ribs that Adele must have stood by and watched happen.
But there was no time to dwell on that further, or time to consider any of the revelations that Face had dropped on him so far, because the last words out of his mouth had finally done what Adele hadn’t managed to do, and broken him so completely that he sagged forward into Hannibal’s arms, letting himself be caught and held and loved.
“Oh, baby, I’m sorry,” Hannibal murmured into his head, holding him and rocking him while Face just slumped against him, too shattered even to cry any more. “I tried to get everyone out in one piece and BA was doing the best he could to cover...”
“Not your fault,” Face mumbled against him as Hannibal could feel his whole body shuddering with emotion, “either of you. Shit. It’s not like she didn’t have it coming to her...”
Mindful of his ribs and the bullet track in his bicep, Hannibal hugged him closer, trying to still the shaking. “I’m sorry I wasn't there for you when you saw her, when Silas took you. Hurt you...”
“You’re not gonna be there for every mess I ever get into, boss,” Face whispered brokenly. “You can’t beat yourself up over this.”
Hannibal felt his heart swell at those words and ran a hand through Face’s hair as he spoke. “I’m not,” he reassured him, thinking how typical it was of Face that he were trying to comfort him, trying to make him feel better after all this crap. “I just wish I could have saved you from all this hurt.”
Face laughed from somewhere in Hannibal’s sweatshirt, but it was broken, a hollow, empty sound. “You couldn’t have helped me; you weren’t there from the day I was conceived. I think my card was pretty well marked from then on in.”
Going back to kissing his head, stroking his back, Hannibal wished with everything he had that things had been different for Face as a child. But then, he admitted to himself, if they had, would they be where they were right now? Together? That possibility, a life without Face at his side, was just too awful to even contemplate.
“It hurts you so much,” he said, going back to Face’s earlier question about Adele, “because you are a good, good, soul, Face. You care about people, and you care enough to want to make things better for them, to put yourself on the line for them. That’s not a character trait that Adele has ever had. I’m afraid the only person she has ever cared about is herself.”
Frowning, Face lifted his head from Hannibal’s chest and Hannibal couldn’t resist cupping his cheek and leaning in for the lightest of kisses on his bruised mouth.
“She said,” Face was still frowning as Hannibal pulled away; he was trying to chase a memory that just wouldn’t sit still. “She said she loved my father...” Hannibal waited in silence, sensing that a word here could lose the tenuous memory forever. “No,” Face’s frown deepened. “No, she didn’t, she said he’d loved her.” Hannibal thought of Eddie’s dog-like devotion and wondered how well Adele cultivated her gift of snaring people. “She said I’d loved her,” Face admitted quietly, his guilt ridden eyes on Hannibal’s.
“Of course you did,” Hannibal soothed him, knowing that this was something that Face needed permission for, his complex feelings over the woman that had hurt them all so much. “She’s your mother, Face. You were bound to love her,” he smiled sadly at the intense devastation in Face’s eyes. “You still love her now, don’t you? You have such a pure heart, you can’t help it.”
And there it was, a new, searing wave of pain let loose with Hannibal’s words. “I hate her,” Face replied brokenly, fresh tears welling up in his eyes. “For all she’s done, I hate her!”
“I know, baby,” Hannibal soothed him, letting go of the fleece now, two hands on his cheeks, stroking him gently. “I know you do. Anyone in your position would, but you can’t shift all that love you once had for her either can you? Not completely?” Face just stared at him. “And that’s fine too, Face. I understand, anyone would understand. Doesn’t mean you like her, doesn’t mean you want to see her, just means you are beautiful enough to still love her despite all she’s done.”
Face just stared at him and Hannibal waited, seeing the turmoil in those expressive blue eyes and patiently waiting for it to resolve itself.
“If she dies,” he whispered eventually, “then it’s all over isn’t it?” Hannibal frowned slightly, not quite sure he understood. “All the things I’d always hoped for, that one day I’d find her and she’d like me and she’d want me and I’d have cousins and relatives, you know? That’s all gone then isn’t it?”
Hannibal had been sure he couldn’t have felt any more desperately sorry for Face than he had done five minutes ago, but that little speech, straight from the heart of a six year old, who despite every way his feckless mother had treated him, desperately wanted her to come back and start acting like a real mommy for once, well, that was just about more than he could take. If Adele did survive Pike’s bullet, he would have to work hard to resist the temptation to shoot her again himself.
But he had no idea at all on how to answer Face’s question, what to say that could even start to make it alright, so instead he had just pulled his boy back into his chest and held him tight, stroking and soothing, murmuring words of love, until Murdock and BA came out of the washroom.
Leaning back in his chair, BA crossed his feet at the ankles and tried to force some calm into his limbs. Pike wasn’t here, he probably hadn’t even considered coming after Murdock. He’d just taken a bullet off the boss after all, maybe not in the exact place that Hannibal had planned for it, because then the bastard would be dead like his damn brother, but he was hurt. If he any sense at all he’d just disappear and lick his wounds somewhere.
BA thought about Brock Pike and that huge wave of guilt reared its head once more. Silas Pike had taken Face because he thought Face had killed his brother, but of course it wasn’t Face, was it? It wasn’t Face who should have gone through all of this, suffered like this - it should have been him. But then BA shuddered, because, well, look at everything Pike and Adele had done to get close to Face - what would they have done for BA? Would his momma have been dragged into this? Would they have used her to get to him? He sat up straight again, all that anger coming back. No way. No way was he gonna let that sick bastard anywhere near his family – the ones in Chicago, or the ones right here, right now.
Voices drifted out from the office at the back and BA strained to listen as he heard Murdock’s alias mentioned. “It’s not a doctor I’ve seen before, that’s all,” the nurse was saying, “and I wondered if Mr. Taylor would like his friend there to talk with the doctor, after all he’s not been awake that long.”
Alarms sounded in BA’s head and he was on his feet and making his way down the corridor to Murdock’s room before he even realised. He stopped at the closed wooden door and leant his ear against it, listening hard, and at the sound of a muted struggled inside he didn’t wait a second longer. With speed and agility that often surprised those who didn’t know him, BA was inside, door closed firmly behind him and yanking Pike off Murdock’s struggling body before Pike had had the chance to see what he was up against. The pillow that Pike had been holding down over Murdock’s head fell to the floor and BA felt a surge of relief at the noisy gasps he could hear coming from the person on the bed.
Silas Pike was made of thick, solid muscle, and so was heavier than BA had accounted for. The move that he had hoped would throw Murdock’s assailant across the room only had him staggering back a few paces, incredibly keeping his feet. BA frowned, but seeing the blood on Pike’s shirt where his doctor’s coat hung open he took his opportunity and slammed a fist right in, right on that dark red target left by Face and was gratified to hear the groan of pain as Pike collapsed on the floor.
“BA!” Murdock’s voice was nothing other than a dry rasp and BA turned to look seeing the pilot still struggling with the ligature around his neck and BA swore, realising that the pillow was only a device to keep his victim quiet while he throttled him with something much more effective. He was at the bedside in two strides, his big fingers delicately loosening the cord and unthreading it from Murdock’s bruised neck.
“Okay? You okay, Crazy?” he asked, not even noticing his familiar nickname for the pilot in his desperate concern.
Murdock nodded, holding tight to both of BA’s forearms as he swallowed in huge gulps of air. “Yeah,” he gasped, “Yeah. Listen, big guy, we gotta warn Face. His mother, she-”
“I know, he knows,” BA soothed. “It’s all sorted man, we just gonna get out of here an’ lay low for a while.”
“He knows?” Murdock asked, worry in his eyes as he looked up at BA, “How is he? He- BA!”
BA tensed at the panicked look Murdock was sending over his shoulder and dragged the dinner tray off Murdock’s table as he turned, throwing it up as part shield, part weapon, managing to deflect the table lamp that Silas had swinging his way so that it only hit his shoulder and not his head. Even so, the force of the blow was enough to send BA reeling, bouncing off the wall and then falling, Silas on him in a flash, his knees on BA’s chest, his hands around his throat.
“This is even better,” Silas hissed as he put all of his weight into crushing BA’s windpipe. “Peck won’t know what hit him when I kill both you and the crazy guy over there! Revenge is sweet after all.”
BA twisted his neck, turning so that Silas’ thumbs weren’t pressing right on his airway anymore and braced a foot against the bed. “Aint Face you need revenge on, fool!” he gasped, twisting his body under the weight pinning him down. “He didn’t kill your brother! I did! You been picking on the wrong man, sucka!”
A dark anger flooded Silas’ face and he leant down harder, his eyes boring into BA’s. “Yeah? Well I’ll enjoy this even more then, watching you die by my hand this time!”
Suddenly, BA’s whole body leapt into the air as he pushed with the leg braced against the bed. The move unseated Silas, but instead of coming off as BA had hoped he would, his solid bulk meant that he only slid forward, his hands keeping up their pressure on BA’s abused neck.
“Not good enough, loser,” Silas hissed and moved in for the kill, his face, savagely satisfied, staring right into BA’s.
BA struggled, knowing that if he fell here, then Murdock was next on Silas’ list, and then Hannibal and Face would be unprotected as well. But Silas was heavy and solid, and little black dots were starting to appear in BA’s vision and he knew his time was running out.
“Die!” Silas hissed at him, his eyes narrowed in hatred, “Die you fucking murderer!” and BA began to think he would. “Go, on, die you-” and then suddenly it was all gone, the pressure on his neck, the pressure on his chest, that cold face, the words of hate and BA sucked in a beautiful breath as he blinked away the spots in his eyes to find himself looking up at Murdock standing above him.
The pilot was wearing his hospital gown and swaying on the spot, but with the table lamp still clutched tight in his fingers. “You alright, Bosco?” he asked slowly and BA smiled, scrambling quickly to his feet.
“Oh, yeah, Crazy,” he said, grinning through his gasping breaths as he took the lamp from Murdock’s hand and dropped it on the bed. “I couldn’t be better now, seein’ you like that,” laughter wheezed out from his lips and Murdock returned the grin even as his swaying got worse. “Here, man,” BA rasped, stepping forward, “let me carry you, we’re outta here brother.”
Murdock only nodded and let BA scoop him up in his arms and then, stepping over Pike’s prone form on the way, BA did a quick furtive check up and down the corridor before he stepped out and made his way at a quick jog towards the fire exit.
Hannibal sat back in his chair, with the laptop on his knee and chewed his lip thoughtfully as he looked at Face. The kid was still on oxygen, and had just started on his second unit of blood which was pushing his blood pressure back up to something near normal. His arm had been redressed, and the bleeding had finally stopped and Hannibal had cleaned and treated all the lashes on his body, finishing off by wrapping up his ribs and his swollen ankle, which Hannibal was just hoping wasn’t broken.
But still Face hadn’t stirred, not one flicker of an eyelid had met Hannibal’s treatment of him, not even when some of the deeper wounds had been stitched. The constant soothing monologue hadn’t worked either, and in desperation, Hannibal had even tried ordering Face to respond to him, but nothing had succeeded. He looked back at the open laptop on his knee and rubbed at his head, wondering if it was the blood loss, the carbon monoxide, the blow to his head, the pin prick injection site on his neck, or any of his other many injuries that was keeping Face from waking up.
He was worried, worried about BA and Murdock, yes, not sure what was keeping them, but also worried about Face. He was no doctor here, he’d done everything he could think of, everything he’d found on the internet to help him, and still Face was out cold. There was an uncomfortable niggling deep in his brain that told him Face needed a hospital...
The sound of the Sunfire’s rough engine outside alerted him to BA’s arrival and he ran to open the garage doors for them.
As soon as they were in and Hannibal had checked the around their rapidly darkening surroundings to make sure they hadn’t been followed, he turned to help a rather fragile looking Murdock, still barefoot and in his hospital gown, as he pulled himself from the car.
“Murdock,” he greeted him, looking him over from his pale complexion, to the thin purple ligature mark around his neck.
“Colonel!” Murdock replied, snapping off a quick salute, but Hannibal ignored him, choosing to grab hold of him instead, pulling him hard against his chest in an enthusiastic, if slightly awkward, hug.
“Good to have you back, HM,” he nodded, his cheeks tinged pink with embarrassment and Murdock smiled at him as they separated.
“Good to be back,” he drawled in his best Texan twang. Then, “Where’s Face?” he asked suddenly, eyes flicking around the unit and Hannibal nodded over to the corner they used for sleeping and Murdock disappeared, bare feet slapping on the floor as he weaved, unsteadily towards the cots.
Hannibal turned to BA and the big guy saw his commander’s eyes flick to the bruises showing dark on his neck before narrowing as they moved back to his eyes, “Report,” he ordered brusquely.
“Pike was there when I got there,” BA said quietly. “’Cept I didn’t know, they told me he was with a doc an’ I had to wait outside.” Hannibal nodded, understanding the guilt he’d seen in his corporal’s face as soon as he’d looked at him.
“Understandable,” Hannibal reassured quickly, wanting to hear the rest of the story.
BA nodded, still unconvinced, but continued anyway, knowing that there would be time enough for guilt later. “So when I went in he was attackin’ HM, had a pillow on his face, cord round his neck.” If at all possible, Hannibal’s eyes darkened further. “We fought,” the slightest twitch of a smile pulled at BA’s lips, “An’ Murdock took him out with a lamp.”
“Dead?” Hannibal asked, not seeing the funny side of that just yet and BA shrugged.
“Dunno man,” he admitted, “we hadta scarper quick, all that noise, someone hadta be comin’.”
“Okay, BA,” Hannibal rubbed at his forehead, a sure sign he was stressed. “That’s fine for now, and then,” they locked eyes, “after this, we go after him, hunt him down. I’m not letting him blindside us like this again.”
BA nodded, his expression one of full agreement. “I told him, boss, told him he’d been after the wrong guy.”
Of course he had, Hannibal hadn’t expected anything less than that from BA, he’d known since the second they had received Adele’s call in the van that the guilt was eating him inside out. He clapped him firmly on the shoulder, “You’re a good man, BA,” he said quietly, “but it changes nothing. This concerns all of us now, he’d take any of us down if he had the chance. We aren’t going to let him.”
“No,” BA agreed, “we aint.” He glanced over his shoulder into the corner where Murdock was sat on the edge of one of the cots, his voice low as he held a one sided conversation with Face. “How’s Face?” he asked, kind of wary of hearing the answer, kind of disappointed the kid hadn’t been already been awake when he got back with Murdock.
Hannibal followed his gaze and BA looked back at the boss to see the barely contained despair in his eyes. “I don’t know, big guy,” he breathed, “I don't know what the hell I’m treating with him, there’s so much, and he hasn’t stirred, not once, not a damn flicker.” He shook his head. “I’m outta my depth here,” he admitted, “he’s been shot, drugged, poisoned, beaten to all hell... I’m not a doctor here.”
BA ran a hand through his Mohawk, knowing what else he could see in Hannibal’s face, knowing the decision he was making. “I bet Face has done one o’ those emergency pack things for himself, you know,” he said quietly, wary of tipping Hannibal’s hand too early.
“He has,” Hannibal confirmed, “but it’s back at the house.”
“I can be there an’ back in an hour...” BA offered carefully and Hannibal frowned.
“I know, it’s just...” he shook his head, “No, I’d rather we all stayed together right now.”
BA glanced back at their team mates over in the corner and knew that they were both relying so heavily on him and Hannibal. “Bossman,” he said quietly, “what happens if he takes a turn for the worse an’ we don’t have a choice? We gonna drop him off without a back story? Let them finger print him an’ chain him to the bed?” Hannibal scrubbed his face with both of his big palms and BA could feel the indecision coming off him in waves. “We take him to hospital without that cover, an’ we may as well drop him off at Leavenworth ourselves, we won’t be gettin’ him back.”
“I know that,” Hannibal ground out from behind his hands.
“So I need to go get that stuff for him!”
“But Pike,” Hannibal said, lifting his head, eyes beseeching his corporal, “he could be waiting there for you.”
“I’d like to see him try,” BA muttered. “He comes at me or any of us again an’ I won't be leavin’ until I know he aint gonna get back up again.” Hannibal just stared at him. “Plus we need our gear, one of the laptops is there right? An’ all our stuff? I can have it all in the van in twenty minutes.”
Hannibal sighed and BA watched as he dropped his hands and let his eyes drift to Murdock and Face who were still in the corner. “You’ve got ninety minutes to get back here,” he said eventually. “And then I’ll have to come looking for you, leaving these two here alone.”
“I know,” BA answered softly. “Don't worry, Hannibal, I’ll get it done.”
But Hannibal was worried, he hated splitting his team like this, especially with Face and Murdock both so vulnerable right now. “Okay,” he breathed and BA knew it was against his better judgement. “Take care of yourself, Bosco.”
BA nodded and went straight for the van as Hannibal opened the doors on the dark night to let him out.
“John!” she called to him, feeling the sobs threatening in the back of her throat again as he made his way towards her. “Thank god you found us, I’ve been so, so frightened! I-”
She stopped dead as he jogged past her without even a glance in her direction and immediately dropped to his knees next to Face, fingers checking for a pulse, quick blue eyes assessing all the damage to his boy and obviously not liking what he saw.
“John...” Adele started reproachfully and then Hannibal’s eyes were on her, so hard, so cold that her mouth snapped shut all on its own.
“Don’t speak to me,” he hissed, venom in every word. “I swear to god, Adele, you speak to me again, I will...” he shook his head, swallowing the threat he wanted to make. “Just shut up – you got that?”
She stared at him, her eyes swimming in tears, her chin quivering as he turned away from her and devoted all of his attention to Face. “Hey, sweetheart,” he said into the silence as BA finally managed to cut the Sunfire’s engine. “Face, can you hear me? Are you in there? Come on, wake up a bit here baby.”
Face didn’t move or stir, so Hannibal took out his knife and started gently cutting the ropes that held him as Adele watched, open mouthed. “Is he...?” she whispered around the lump in her throat.
“He’s alive,” Hannibal snapped at her, “Despite your best efforts to the contrary. How long has he been out?”
“I don’t know,” Adele admitted as she felt herself flush, “I wasn’t watching.”
Hannibal glanced up long enough to give her a ‘you are the lowest life form imaginable’ look before turning back to carefully pull the last bit of ropes off Face’s ankles and then rearrange his limp body into the recovery position. Once that was done, he set about doing a thorough assessment of Face’s injuries, frowning most at the deep trough cut through his bicep by Silas’ bullet. And the entire time he was checking him over, he was talking, a soft, low monotone, perfectly audible to Adele in the quiet of the garage and enough to have her staring in total shock.
“I’m just gonna wrap your arm up here, sweetheart,” Hannibal told a still unresponsive Face. “Losing a bit too much blood there for my liking, we need to keep that all inside, right? Okay then, this might sting a bit for a few seconds,” he ran an anti-septic wipe all around the wound, inside and out, before covering it with a piece of gauze. “Done, hope that wasn’t too bad, you know I hate hurting you, I always hate doing this, can’t stand to see you hurting, I love you far, far too much for that...” and on it went while Adele just listened and stared.
Eventually Hannibal was as satisfied as he could be and Adele watched, transfixed, as he slowly manoeuvred Face into a position where he could lift him, taking care to cradle his head against his own shoulder and rise slowly, to minimise causing any further damage to his patient. As he finally straightened to his full height, Face’s not inconsiderable weight held securely against his chest, his eyes caught Adele’s and he couldn’t miss the way she was staring at him, her eyes wide, the look of disbelief on her face and bare envy in her eyes. For a second, Hannibal just returned that stare, his chin tilted proudly, and then, with their eyes still locked he bent and pressed a fierce kiss onto Face’s temple, right above the bruising from Silas’ gun butt.
“He’s mine,” Hannibal told her, his voice coming out as a possessive growl from deep in his chest. “I love him so much; I should kill you for what you have done to him.” Adele paled, and given her already stark complexion, that was a feat in itself. “Suffice it to say, I won’t let you hurt him again. You’d do well to remember that, Adele.”
Adele opened her mouth to speak and Hannibal just walked away from her, leaving her watching him go with her mouth literally hanging open.
“BA!” Hannibal said as he and Face got closer to the wreckage that used to be the doors. “Send Eddie in for Adele, we’re getting out of here.”
Looking down to check on Face, he heard BA’s gruff instruction but didn’t look up as Eddie scuttled in past him, he was too busy tracing the lines of his love’s face with his eyes, tracking every mark and blemish and vowing silent revenge. He could hear Adele crying behind him and Eddie’s fast tones as they tried to soothe her, but Hannibal got the distinct impression she was just frustrating his attempts to free her.
He smiled grimly and looked up as BA approached him, his own stark expression soon wiping any trace of that smile from Hannibal’s face. “What?” he asked sharply, knowing his corporal so well after all their years.
BA shook his head. “I dunno, man, I aint happy about this at all.”
Frowning, Hannibal shifted Face’s weight in his arms. “What is there to be happy about?” he asked darkly.
Letting his eyes flick down to his injured team mate, BA’s eyes darkened in concern and it was an indication of his worries that he didn’t ask Hannibal for an update into Face’s condition. “That Eddie,” he said instead, “he reckons he put the tracker on Pike’s car.” He nodded at the Sunfire, “And that aint Pike’s car...”
The simple statement put fear into Hannibal’s heart. So, if the tracker was in the car, and the tracker led them here, then that meant that Pike was here as well. “Any idea where?” Hannibal asked urgently, knowing that the corporal would have followed his train of thought effortlessly.
Again, BA shook his head. “Could be anywhere,” he said quietly, “loads of good vantage points.”
Taking a deep breath, Hannibal looked over his shoulder to where Eddie was leading a limping Adele towards them. “Right, change of plans big guy,” he said, they had intended Eddie taking the rental and them all going their separate ways at this point, hopefully never to meet up again; but they couldn’t take the risk of Pike picking Eddie and Adele off like that, no matter how tempted Hannibal might be. “We all go in the van, you provide cover for us, okay?”
Nodding, BA went to the entrance of the garage and looked out into the bright sunshine as Hannibal explained the change of plan to a Eddie, and in a moment they were all ready, Hannibal nodded and burst into the bright sunshine, Eddie and Adele right behind him as they made for the safety of the van, a mere five metres away.
No-one, however, was prepared for the ferocity of the attack that greeted them. Hannibal put on a burst of speed, not even feeling the weight of Face in his arms as automatic gunfire suddenly seemed like it exploded from all around them, tearing up the concrete at their feet. He heard BA’s answering gunfire and hoped that he’d got the bastard back, but then had no choice but to skid around the corner out of sight as the bullets came so close to him that he could feel their wind on his arms. He laid Face as gently as he could in the lee of the building and then pulled out his own gun and turned to offer BA some support.
Pike, Eddie and Adele were nowhere to be seen, but Hannibal could see BA, hunkered down in the doorway still, gun ready and eyes flashing to each of the surrounding warehouses as he made sure their attacker didn’t change position. Hannibal clicked his fingers and BA looked over at him, a quick, gestured conversation later and he knew exactly where Pike was laid up, where Eddie and Adele had gone to ground, how much ammo BA had on him and the most likely weapon that the bastard was using. Hannibal sat back against the wall for thirty seconds of thought, his free hand resting on Face’s chest, feeling that comforting rise and fall that told his boy was still with him, was still getting out of this with Hannibal, and then he had his plan, and in thirty more seconds of gestures, so did BA.
Silas waited, still and deadly in the covered doorway of a warehouse over to the left of Smith’s position and wondered what the hell the old guy was doing. He was pissed that he’d missed his chance to scythe them all down, but they had caught him out with their hasty exit. He should known, that Smith had rumbled him, but there had been no indication at all until they tried to run for it; that big oaf Baracus and fat Eddie had been wandering aimlessly around out in the sunshine as Smith, no doubt tried to calm Adele down and stop Peck bleeding out all over the floor. Silas smiled. Well, he had them trapped, there was no way they could get to that pimped up van without running straight through Silas’ sights, and <i>then</i> he’d cut them all down.
Not Peck though, he smiled to himself as he felt the tender pull of the knife wound to his stomach, thankfully much more superficial than he had first thought. No, it would be fun to go back to plan one with that one, once the others were out of the way, of course. And then he might go over to the hospital and get rid of the crazy pilot as well. He’d love to be known as the guy who single handedly took down the A-Team, he might even video his time with Peck, then he could use at as an advert of sorts in his new career as hit man.
Abruptly, a car engine roared into life and he leaned forward, fully attentive now and totally confused. He’d taken care to shoot out the tyres of the rental that Charing had been using, and was certain that no one had made it to the safety of the van, but then he cursed aloud as the Sunfire came flying out of the garage and made a defiant break for the road in the distance.
He quickly scrambled out of his hiding place and dashed out into the open, squinting through his sights at the car that had already passed him and was screaming its way to safety. His squeezed his trigger, letting out a steady stream of bullets after his quarry, and then quickly jerked to the side, trying to get a better bead on the driver.
That quick little jink sideways, trivial as it may have seemed to Pike, actually ended up saving his life. The bullet fired with utmost care and concentration from Hannibal’s gun would have hit him firmly in the small of the back otherwise and it would have been game over, this way, it only clipped his hip, sending him spinning to the ground in agony, knowing damn well they had out smarted him.
But Silas was nothing if not thorough. He had made sure that he had a backup plan in place for a situation just like this. Rolling on his back he fired off a few quick rounds in Smith’s direction, doubting he would be lucky enough to actually hit him, and then hauled himself to his feet and staggered back into his warehouse. Thirty seconds later he was in his Cadillac, turning the engine over, and less than three minutes after Hannibal’s bullet had brought him down he was driving off the industrial park and out towards the freeway.
BA watched Pike make a run for it and for a brief moment considered following him, but then he thought of Face and turned the Sunfire around instead, arriving back at the warehouse in seconds. He got there to find the van already open, Face stretched out immobile and bleeding onto the clean carpet, but no sign of anyone else.
“Hannibal?” he shouted, fear prickling at the back of his neck once more as he looked nervously around.
“Here!” came the reply over to his left and in Hannibal’s unmistakeable tones. Keeping his gun ready, BA jogged around the skip at the side of the garage entrance and his eyes widened at the carnage he found. Eddie was sitting up against the skip, his eyes wide, blood all over his hands and his suit, staring stupidly at Hannibal who was frantically pushing a medical dressing onto the back of Adele’s head.
“Oh, man...” BA moaned as he dropped down next to Hannibal and immediately took over the pressure on the pad.
“Thanks,” Hannibal muttered, and then turned back to Eddie, wiping the blood from his hands onto another clean dressing. “Right, Eddie, listen to me!” he snapped, and Eddie’s shock filled eyes flicked from Adele back to Hannibal. “I’ve called 911, they’ll be here within minutes,” BA looked up, concern in his dark eyes at those words. “But we have to go, do you understand that? We can’t stay and wait for them.”
Eddie frowned and his eyes flicked about, “Danny?” he asked, the shock making his words slow and deliberate, “What about Danny?”
“He’s coming with us,” Hannibal said firmly. “We look after our own.” Eddie nodded dumbly and Hannibal grabbed at his wrist. “Okay, give me your hand then, you need to hold this here and press, hard, you got that?” Another nod. “Okay.”
BA waited until Eddie had shuffled forward and was firmly pressing on the wound at the base of Adele’s head before he took his hand away. He turned to Hannibal and they shared a dark look, both knowing how bleak the situation looked for her. BA sighed, “I’m gonna start the van,” he said, rising to his feet and wanting to get far away before the ambulance turned up.
“No,” Hannibal suddenly blurted, spinning away from Eddie and flashing his concerned eyes up at his corporal. “Take the Sunfire and go get Murdock. Sign him the hell out of there and meet us at RV Bravo.”
Eyes narrowed, BA looked at him, “You think... <i>Pike?</i>” he breathed his voice thrumming with anxiety.
Hannibal nodded. “Could be. Bastard’s crazy enough to do it and it would still get him his revenge on Face.”
Without another word, BA turned and ran, seconds later, Hannibal heard the Sunfire start up and roar away. He turned back to Eddie. “I need to go, now, right?” Again Eddie just nodded but he was doing what he’d been asked and keeping up the pressure. Hannibal reached into Eddie’s suit pocket and fished out the PI’s phone, flipping it open and scrolling through the contacts before he found his own number. “Tell them you were the victims of a random shooting, you didn’t see anything and don’t mention us at all - not even Face. You got that?” Another nod. Hannibal called himself, and as soon as the cell connected he rang off, knowing that he would ditch the phone but keep Eddie’s number. He shoved the phone back into Eddie’s pocket and rose to his feet, Eddie’s eyes following him all the way.
“I’ll call you,” Hannibal told him, “see how she is.”
“Thank you,” Eddie whispered, his eyes full of tears, “I don’t want her to die.”
Hannibal sighed, “She doesn’t deserve you,” he said sadly, “she doesn’t deserve either of you.” And with that he turned and ran for the van.
Then Silas was back, and Face forced himself to watch while a silently terrified Adele was dragged in and tied to a metal girder, so she was now standing upright, just in front of Face. Silas was silent until he had finished his job of securing his prisoners and then he dropped down on his haunches, grabbing Face’s chin and yanking it up so they were eye to eye.
“Well then, Peck,” he said coldly, “this is goodbye.” Face just looked at him. “You know I’d have loved to kill you myself, slowly and very, very painfully. But I just can’t run the risk of Smith catching up with me,” he shook his head sadly. “No, that’s not in my plans for the day at all. So I’m just going to leave you here, with your mother for company, which, believe me, is punishment enough for anyone, and I’m just gonna leave this old car running.” He watched Face’s impassive expression carefully. “You know carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t such a bad way to go,” he said softly. “This has really worked in your favour, I’d have had you screaming and begging before the end if I’d had my chance.” Face bit back the retort he would have loved to make and instead just returned Silas’ stare.
“Ah, well,” Silas said, dropping Face’s chin and getting to his feet. “I suppose I had better get going. As much as I doubt that Smith will find you now I’ve switched venues, I’d really rather not take that chance, and so I feel I have to leave.” He looked down at Face again, and then with a hard swift kick to the bullet wound in his arm turned and left.
The pain was so intense that Face found himself swimming towards unconsciousness once more, but knowing that the engine of the car was spewing poisonous fumes towards him, he fought hard, worried that if he let himself go under now, he may never wake up again. He forced his head up off the floor, ignoring Adele who was calling his name repeatedly, and checked out their surroundings. Basically, they were in deep shit. The garage was sealed and there were no windows. It was also a fairly large building which made Face think that they were still in the business district, far fewer nosey neighbours to wonder why a car engine would be running for so long and then he turned to the car itself and his heart sank further.
Modern cars, with their catalytic convertors and carefully controlled combustion produced such a small amount of carbon monoxide that poisoning to the extreme of death would be a very rare occurrence indeed. Either Silas knew this fact, or the gods of fate were frowning at him, but from where he was laid he could see that this car was a Pontiac Sunfire, almost twenty years old he guessed; a perfect car to gas them both to death with. He glanced down at his blood smeared arm, the bullet having gone straight through, carving a heavily bleeding trough in his flesh as it did so, and knew he’d actually be lucky to be alive long enough to die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Danny!” Adele was still calling him and he eventually lifted his head in her direction, his levels of irritation with her just about as high as they could go.
“What?” he snapped, “What the fuck have you got to say to me that you think I would be in the slightest bit interested in hearing?”
She faltered into silence, seeming to be surprised by the venom in his voice, before finally coming out with, “I came back to help you...” as if that would make everything else disappear.
Face sighed. “It never occurred to you that I wouldn’t have been in that mess in the first place if it wasn’t for you?”
“I didn’t know he wanted to hurt you!” Adele shot back instantly.
“No, just rob me, that’s much better.” He let out a low mirthless chuckle, “And if you did know what he wanted, would you have stopped him? I doubt it. Not the first time that’s happened, eh? Mother...”
Adele slid into silence, that most unwelcome feeling of guilt starting up once again.
Face lay still and tried to ignore her and the various pains in his body as he wracked his brains for a way out of his predicament.
“So, what’s the plan?” Adele eventually asked him and he gritted his teeth, he’d hoped he’d shut her up for good before.
“Plan?” he snapped back.
“Yes, plan!” Adele had recovered enough to find some of her own snap again. “How are you getting us out of here?”
Face sighed and let his forehead rest on the cold concrete floor before speaking, very slowly and clearly to ensure she understood. “Adele. I’ve been drugged, whipped, beaten, knocked out, shot and hung from my wrists for hours. I’ve got broken ribs, a busted ankle, an eye that can’t see and I’m bleeding all over the floor. On top of that, I’ve been tied up in a way that means I’ll choke myself if I try to move. I hate to burst your bubble, but I won’t be getting you out of anything today.”
There was a minute of silence and Face hoped that meant that she wasn’t going to speak at all, but then his optimism was cruelly dashed. “But... we’ll die...” she whispered, “the fumes!” and somehow that was worse than her belligerent complaints from before because now she just sounded scared, absolutely and utterly terrified, and the part of Face that needed to help people struggled up to the front of his consciousness.
“The fumes won’t get me,” he told her in a dark attempt to lighten the mood, “I’ll bleed out before then.” He glanced up and saw her stark, terrified face and sighed once more, long and hard and wondered how she could manipulate him so damn easily. “Don’t worry,” he said quietly. “Hannibal will come for us.”
Another long pause came from Adele before, “He’s not coming...”
Face lifted his head, suddenly scared, suddenly so damn terrified for Hannibal and what the hell she had done to his team this time that the pounding of his blood made his head throb harder and the blood from his arm flow faster. “What do you mean?” he asked, low and lethal and Adele found she was even more scared than before. “What have you done?”
“Nothing!” she answered, a pleading note in her voice, “I’ve done nothing! I just told him where you were and the trouble you were in and he said he wasn’t coming!”
For a second the iciness of that statement threatened to absorb Face whole as he thought of that, Hannibal, knowing he needed him and not coming, not coming to save him. Not coming to claim him. But then he forcibly injected some rationality into the situation, this was Hannibal, and Face trusted him with everything he was made of. Never once had the boss abandoned him, or any of them, when they had needed him. Hannibal would come, he would. The only thing in doubt was whether Face would still be alive when he arrived...
“He’ll come,” Face told her firmly.
“But, Danny, I told you... I called him and he said-”
“He’ll come,” Face repeated.
She sighed, “Look, I know you think he loves you but when I-”
“He’ll come!” Face roared, feeling the rope tighten on his neck a touch with the tensing of his muscles. Adele swallod her words and stared at him. “And I don’t think he loves me, I know it for an absolute fact!” He turned away from her, her very face making him feel sick. “But I wouldn’t expect you to understand at all, Adele,” he whispered, “’cause no one has ever loved you in your whole empty life.”
“That’s not true!” Adele shot back, her eyes shining in tears. “You loved me! Before-”
She stopped dead and Face let out another mirthless laugh. “Before... Yes, that kind of sums it up nicely doesn’t it? Before you sold me for a few smokes.” He shook his head, “So, your small dependent child loved you, not much of a claim to fame that one is it? It’s not like I had any other options!”
“Your father loved me!” she spat out and the silence that followed was even heavier than anything that had come before.
Face raised his head, ignoring the dizziness that the move provoked and stared at her, the blank fear on her face that told him she knew she was rumbled and didn’t have a clue how to get herself out of her mess. “My father?” he asked quietly, lethally. “You told me you were raped. You told me you didn’t know who he was.”
“I... I... the gang, I did know them a bit. I-”
“Liar!!!” Face yelled and Adele froze as even the car engine seemed to falter in the wake of his anger. “You are a damn liar! Everything you ever tell me is utter crap! You told me you were raped; you put all of that guilt and pain onto me! You let me think I was a product of violence, the offspring of your terror, but they were all lies! More fucking lies!”
He had to stop, his head was swimming, the pain behind his eyes was thumping with his pulse and the cord around his neck fastened even tighter. Tears clouded the vision of his one good eye and he closed his lids, turning his face from her and letting his cheek rest on the cold floor, suddenly so unbelievably tired of this whole game and the things she could do to him with just a few words, so tired.
“Danny?” she whispered as she watched him sag in front of her, her own heart pounding in terror.
“Why do you hate me so much?” he whispered, his eyes closed, blessed numbness starting to seep through him.
“I don’t, hate you Danny, I really don’t.” Were those tears Face could hear in her voice? He wasn’t sure, but couldn’t find the energy to open his eyes and look. “I love you,” she whispered, “I did from the very moment I saw you. You were so little and so perfect and I knew I would never to able to look after you well enough.” Face frowned, shit; she was a good actress, that was a definite sob in her voice then. “And I was young, still a child myself and so selfish, and I knew I was hurting you... and you’d be better off without me.”
“You didn’t do it for me...” Face mumbled heavily.
“No. I didn’t. I did it for me. But in the end it worked out best for you though. Right? You were happy in the orphanage, they were good to you! Better than I would have been.”
Face’s eyes stayed closed. “No one wanted to adopt me,” he whispered, almost to himself. “They always picked me out, but as soon as they discovered I was a foundling, five years old and left out like the garbage, they started to worry about why. Father David tried not to tell them at first, wanted them to get to know me, hoping they’d see past that hurdle but that never worked.” A frown pulled at his brow. “That was worse, because they’d show me things, ‘This will be your bedroom when you come to live with us,’ ‘This can be your bike when you live here’ that type of thing, but then they found out the truth about me and never came back.”
“Danny...” Adele whispered.
“I started acting up,” Face didn’t seem to know she was there anymore; it was almost like he was talking to himself. “Went into juvie at ten, shouldn’t have gone in but I lied about my age, who I was. Thought it would get me off, but instead it got me locked up. And then I figured if people were gonna do what they wanted with me anyway, then why not just let them and make some money out of it as well? But of course all the money went on drink and drugs, shit, anything to help me forget what I was doing...”
Adele couldn’t speak now for the tears streaking her cheeks.
“Father David came looking for me, found me in some Salvation Army place. I’d been beaten up, drugged and raped and he told me if I didn’t go back with him I’d be dead in three months.” A wry smile tugged at his pale lips. “He was right of course. I agreed and he got me clean, helped me get into the army, he knew I needed that structure to keep me straight.” He sighed, pushing all that away from him again, all that fear and pain and despair, everything that was his life before Hannibal. “And that’s when I met John.”
He slid into silence, calmer now, thoughts of Hannibal filling his mind, how it felt to be held by him, kissed by him, loved by him. God, he really hoped all that wasn’t finished for him, he really hoped John would find him in time.
“I’m so sorry, Danny,” Adele whispered into the silence. “For every way I hurt you and all the damage I’ve done, I truly am sorry.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Face told her simply; annoyed that she would interrupt his day dreaming like that. “I don’t love you, I don’t even like you. And after what you did to Murdock?” he shook his head, stopping as the movement tugged at the cord around his neck. “I’d go as far as saying I hate you, and I don’t hate anyone lightly.”
“But after this?” Adele asked him, the pleading tone to her voice clear, “We can try again? Start to get to know each other properly?”
“No.” Face told her flatly. “All you have ever caused me is pain. If I get out of this alive then I am celebrating by never seeing you again.”
“If?” Adele asked, and all that fear was back. “What do you mean, ‘if’? I thought you said John would come?”
“He will,” Face was struggling to get his mouth to work properly now. “I just don’t know if I’ll still be alive when he gets here...”
“Danny! Danny!” Face could hear her calling him, but couldn’t dredge up enough energy to respond or even look at her. He always knew he’d die a violent or unnatural death one day, he’d just hoped that he wouldn’t be alone when he went. Right now though, he’d give anything to be on his own. Dying with Adele had to be the worst possible scenario ever, and even worse, what if she followed him to the afterlife and bugged the hell out of him for all eternity? He shuddered.
“Danny!” he could hear she was crying and found it very hard to care. “Danny! Please don’t give up, don’t leave me here!”
He smiled an ironic little smile, thinking back to that new found memory of being left on the steps of the orphanage, pleading with her not to leave him. Seems life had come full circle for them now. She hadn’t cared when he’d begged her not to leave him all those years ago, so why the hell should he make the effort to stay with her now?
“Danny, please, stay awake!” Adele pleaded, but there was no answer. “Your father!” she called to him in desperation, “Let me tell you about your father! Stay and listen about him!”
“All lies...” Face whispered, just wanting the pain to go now.
“No! No, listen, no lies, I swear to you, Danny, listen to me!” Face ignored her letting the darkness come closer. “Please listen,” she begged, “let me tell you this, it’s the least I can give you.”
“Not interested,” Face murmured, wondering if it was the blood loss or the carbon monoxide that was making him feel so sick. He forced his fuzzy head up and looked at her. She was blurred and the light hurt his eyes, but she looked... broken somehow, all her usual front just gone. “Leave me alone,” he muttered, laying his cheek down on the ground once more, closing his eyes and wondering how long it would take him to die.
But Adele wasn’t giving up. Face could still hear her voice, but it sounded so far away that he thought he must have drifted into another room. She kept going though, and even through the constant droning of the engine, Face could hear her words even though he didn’t want to, even though he knew they would just grind him further into the dirt. Then somehow, they started to put pictures in his head, not of what she was talking about, but of himself, curled up on the bench of the trailer in his pyjamas while Adele read to him, some book that was far too advanced, way above his level of understanding, but he realised he didn’t care. All he cared about was that there was just the two of them, and she was reading to him, to him. Just for now, she was all his.
The warmth of that memory washed over him and took away all the pain and the emotional hurt. It took away the smell of the fumes and the blinding headache, and just like all those years ago, he let himself sink into her voice, not really listen to the words, just the sounds, the soothing cadence, and on that he started to drift.
“I met your father at a peace protest in San Francisco back in the summer of 1973,” her voice was softer than Face had heard it since that long ago day, and wistful, so, so, wistful. “He was called Arthur, I named you after him, and he was a student there. He’d been to Vietnam, a soldier, like you, but when he came back, he wanted to do some good, to change the world, make it a better place to live without the need for more war.”
Face felt like he was floating in a dark warm tank. Nothing hurt, he wasn’t scared anymore, he felt safe and wrapped up tight against the world.
“We fell in love,” Adele was still telling her story oblivious to her son drifting away right next to her. “He was so loving, so sweet and kind and considerate,” she smiled. “Just what I’d always wanted. But then, after we’d been together for nine months I found out I was pregnant,” she paused and Face was lucky that he couldn’t see the look on her face or even hear her words anymore. “I was devastated,” she whispered, “I went straight out to try and arrange an abortion but it was too late, I was too far along, so I did the only thing I could do and told Arthur.” She sighed. “He was thrilled. He was ten years older than me and a baby was just the icing on the cake as far as he was concerned. He proposed, I accepted and we started making wedding plans.”
For a long time she was silent, staring at the floor at her feet as she thought back to the mistakes she’d made and the different way her life might have turned out if she’d made better choices.
“But I got cold feet,” her voice had dropped into almost nothing and Face wouldn’t have been able to hear her even if he had still been awake. “So, I told him I’d miscarried, called off the wedding and moved to LA. I never saw him again.” Hot tears ran down her cheeks as she thought, for the very first time in all those years, how upset he would have been for her just to disappear like that. “He didn’t even know you were born,” she sobbed, regrets pouring out as fast as her tears, “he never got to see you and hold you and know how beautiful you are and how strong and brave and smart and good, just like him. Oh Danny, you are just like him and I never let him know, I never let you know...”
She tailed off into noisy sobs and cried until her eyes were sore and puffy and her cheeks were blotched with red, then she looked over at Face. “Danny?” she called cautiously, noticing for the first time that his legs had fallen to the side and that he was still - very, very still. “Danny!” she called again and yet again there was no answer. “Face!” she shouted at him and when he didn’t answer, when he didn’t even so much as twitch, she started to sob again, leaning back on the girder she was tied to as she prayed for her son’s life.
The man himself was eerily absent, and Adele craned her neck, covering every meter of the warehouse before thanking her lucky stars, steeling herself and slowly, slowly opening the door.
It was silent inside nothing was moving or making a sound, not even Face, and with another quick, furtive look, Adele ran silently on her bare feet right across the concrete floor until she found herself at his side.
“Danny!” she hissed, reaching up to lift his chin and then recoiling at the blood she found on her fingers. “Wake up! We have to get out of here!” Face lifted his head and opened his eyes and the expression in them tore her apart, sent her spinning right back to that day thirty three years ago, Danny hunched under the trailer looking at her with utter betrayal in his face. She looked away, up to the blood soaked rope wrapped around his wrists, too high for her to reach and tutted in frustration. “How do I get you out?” she whispered. “You’re supposed to be the expert in all of this! Think of something!”
“Go away,” Face answered simply, the pain in his body and his heart audible in every syllable. “Just fuck off and leave me the hell alone. Haven’t you done enough to me yet?”
Adele had to rein herself back in, stop her limbs from doing just what he’d said as she knew if she did, then she would be haunted by her past for the rest of her life. “Don’t be such a baby...” she muttered instead, eyes following the rope up to the roof and then down to the wall where it was wrapped around a cleat. “Do you want him to kill you?” She dashed to the wall and started unravelling the rope from the cleat.
Face closed his eyes and let his chin fall back to his chest again. Did he want to die? No, of course he didn’t, but right now he hurt so much from his body right through to his soul that he found it hard to find the will to fight any more. “Go away,” he whispered again. “If he finds you here, he’ll kill you.”
“Ahh,” Adele mocked as she tugged on the rope, “I didn't think you cared!”
“I don’t,” Face muttered, “I really, really don't. I just thought I’d let you know.” The empty tone in his voice sent shivers through Adele’s whole body and she wondered how she could have got it all so, so wrong with him. For a second she was transported back to the day he was born, no one to hold her hand through her contractions, no one to encourage her when she pushed, she’d cried all the way through her labour. And then the midwife had placed him in her arms, his eyes open and already that incredible shade of blue and suddenly everything had seemed entirely worth it. She’d stroked his face, the damp little whorls in his hair, his peachy cheeks, and then, when she’d traced his tiny curled fingers with her own, he’d grabbed on, his tight little fist gripping her finger with a force that took her breath away.
At that point the tears had come again, but this time they were tears of wonder and joy and she swore to him and herself that he was the only thing that mattered from that moment onwards, that everything she ever did would be for him, and they would face the world together, beating back all the horror that Adele knew it held.
It didn’t last of course. Within three weeks she began to realise the ways in which her life would have to change, the resentment started to creep in and that was the beginning of the end.
The rope finally coming loose shook her from her unwanted memories and Face’s weight immediately pulled it from her hands, she turned to warn him, but it was already too late, with a pained groan, he tried to take his weight and keep his balance, and failing, fell to his knees for the second time that day.
Adele ran over to where he knelt and tugged at his arm, “Come on! Get up! We need to leave.”
Face ignored her, but lifted his hands instead, “Untie me!” he hissed urgently, pain stealing his breath at the end of each word.
“Get up!” she repeated.
“For fuck’s sake, untie me!” Face hissed at her struggling to his feet as he did so, “If that bastard Pike comes back, you’ll wish you’d untied me first!”
“He’s right. You will.” Called a laconic voice from the side of the warehouse and Face and Adele both spun around to face Silas who was lounging arrogantly against the wall.
Face hauled himself upright and pushed Adele behind him, yanking his jeans back up over his hips as he squared up to Silas across the huge empty space between them, his hands now bound in front of him.
“Oh, how gallant!” Silas laughed, slowly making his way closer to them. “I’m surprised at you Peck, wanting to protect her like that. Don’t you know what she’s done to you?”
“Oh, I know alright,” Face answered coldly and Adele was shocked at the clearness in his voice, every trace of pain gone. “But I’m a Ranger, and as such I have a certain level of honour. This is between you and me. She’ll get what’s coming to her some other way.”
Silas stopped and cocked his head to one side as he looked at Face. “A Ranger?” he asked carefully, considering. “You’re not a Ranger, you’re a convict. A fugitive. There’s no honour in that, just like there was no honour when you killed my brother in cold blood.”
Face didn’t answer and Adele tried to step around him, “Well, that’s where you are wrong, Silas!” she shouted, “He didn’t even-”
“Shut the fuck up!” Face rounded on her, shoving her back with his hands, “Get out of here,” he hissed, “and call Hannibal!” He turned back to Silas. “Let her go,” he snarled, the hatred clear in his voice. “This has nothing to do with her, just untie me and then we can settle this like men.”
Silas appeared to consider this while Face could hear Adele stepping away from him towards the door. “No, I don't think so,” he eventually decided. “I already gave her the chance to walk away from this, and she quite stupidly came back. And I’d find it so much more fun just to kill you slowly and under my own terms, Peck.” He smiled, “I, unlike you, have never pretended to be something I am not. Plus, you killed Brock with your bare hands, something that will have taken quite some doing, so I’m certainly not planning on untying you at all Not until you are dead, anyway.” He started walking in.
Face felt his strength leeching out of him as the pain gnawed at his bones, but he dragged on whatever reserves he could find and made sure he stood his ground, blocking Silas’ view of Adele and hoping that she could make her escape before he noticed where she had gone; she was of no use to him here at all, but if she could just phone Hannibal...
However, Silas was no fool and Face watched his dark eyes as they flicked to a spot somewhere over Face’s left shoulder, and then, after a quick eye roll he reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a gun. “Adele,” he called, his voice sounding nothing more than slightly bored, “where are you off to? Don’t be ridiculous and get back over here or I’ll shoot you.”
Face took a step to one side, blocking Silas’ view again. “No, you won’t,” he responded calmly.
Silas turned back to him, keeping his gun pointing straight ahead, right into Face’s chest, and cocked his head to one side. “Now, why would you want to do a thing like that?” he asked, seeming genuinely confused. “After the way she’s treated you... why would you put yourself in front of her bullet?”
“Blood’s thicker than water,” Face replied evenly and wondered why he couldn’t hear Adele moving towards the door, didn’t she know a fucking distraction when she saw one?
Silas considered him carefully. “Nah,” he eventually proclaimed. “You don’t know her, you certainly don’t like her, what do you care if she’s dead?”
Face tried to keep his expression carefully blank, but knew he’d failed when Silas smiled, “I’m right, you don't care about her, you only care about what she can do for you which means... Oh!” He slapped a hand on his forehead, “How stupid am I! She’s going to call the cavalry in right? Smith and his merry band?” He leaned around Face once more. “Adele, dearest, I’m really not going to let you do that, so be a darling and get back over here or I will shoot you.”
He lifted the gun and took a warning shot, too high Face knew to be anywhere dangerous so he took his chance to move. He ran straight at Silas, hoping the unorthodox move would be enough to stall the other man’s trigger finger, but unfortunately he had forgotten about the rope still holding his wrists together. It fed through the pulley as he ran, right up until it reached the end, the end that Silas had knotted widely enough so that it wouldn’t come out. The resulting jolt was so fierce, it yanked Face backwards and he fell, his head hitting the floor with a solid thump.
It was unfortunate that his head wasn’t reeling badly enough to block out Silas’ laughter, and he lay back, letting the spinning go on and on, hating the man more than ever and hoping Adele had made it out. But then he felt the rope bite hard into his wrists again and he forced his eyes open, blinking back nausea as he realised he was being hauled up into the air once more, much higher this time, as Silas didn’t stop until Face’s feet were swinging about twenty feet off the ground.
And then the gun rang out again, three quick shots that had Face wincing, expecting to feel the red hot bullets ripping his chest apart, but Adele’s terrified scream made him realise that Silas had moved his attention onto his other captive once more.
“Adele,” Silas said, his voice sharp. “I won’t tell you again, get back over here or the next ones won't miss!”
Forcing his fuzzy mind to concentrate, Face twisted his head so that he could see Adele, right over by the door now, and cowering in obvious terror. Noticing the look on her face, he almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
Silas sighed. “Okay then,” he said gently, “let’s try this instead.” He pulled a knife out of a holster under his jacket and lifted it up until it rested lightly on the rope that held Face up in the air. “Get back over here or I cut this rope and we’ll see how big a splat Danny boy makes on the ground right?” Adele still didn't move, she was visibly shaking and looked far, far too terrified to even be able to follow what Pike was saying to her. He sighed, “Five... four... three... two... one...”
Face had jumped out of enough planes over the years to know how to land safely. However, in all his years of parachuting, he’d always had the advantage of, well, a parachute. Plus he’d never jumped with his hands tied above him before either. As it was, he hit the ground hard, feeling his ankle twist underneath him before he even felt the pain and rolling to absorb as much force as he could, jarring his shoulder hard as he did so. But now he was free again, and Silas was still around, still very much a threat, so with a super human effort, he hauled himself to his knees, eyes casting about and just in time to see Silas stalk across to the still immobile Adele and drag her by her hair, back into the middle of the room, throwing her at Face while he yanked the mobile phone out of her hand.
Grunting in pain as she fell against him, Face tried his best to ignore her as she grabbed hold of his jeans, hauling herself close to him and sobbing against his bare back. He was watching Silas, listening to his muttering as he flicked through Adele’s phone. “Chose the wrong hostage there didn't I?” he monologued. “Should have known you wouldn’t give a flying fuck about Peck...” Despite everything - that hurt, and Face hated that she was still able to wound him like this. After all she’d done, and all he’d found her capable of, why did he still let her hurt him? Silas’ yell snatched Face’s attention back and he looked up as the phone was dropped on the ground and stamped on, the anger in the expression of his captor filling Face with a feeling he’d not had in a long while – hope.
“You bitch!” Silas yelled, reaching back around Face to slap Adele hard across the head. “You already called him didn’t you? Stupid, interfering cow! I knew I should never have let you walk out of here! You called Fucking Smith! You betrayed me!” In all the chaos, with Adele trying to duck behind him and Silas trying to lean over him, Face saw his chance. As Silas went for Adele, his suit jacket fell open and there was the knife, just ripe for the taking. Face didn't need asking twice, with a move so fast he surprised even himself, Face reached up with his bound hands and grabbed the hilt, pulling it out and stabbing back in even as Silas realised what was going on and was leaning back.
Face knew he’d connected, he’d felt the tiniest bit of resistance as he’d pushed in, but the knife was sharp and it didn’t last and then the warmth on his fingers told him he’d found a good spot, but then his head exploded in pain all around his eye as something hard, probably the butt of Pike’s M4, hit him and he fell back, sprawling at Adele’s side, his blurred vision taking in the sight of Silas raising his gun once more.
“Bastard!” he muttered and Face just had time to smile at the red stain spreading across Silas’ shirt before the gun spoke, pain flared up through his arm and dark nothingness came to claim him as Adele screamed once more.
He wasn’t out for long, he came round just as Silas dropped him into the trunk of his car, and his reflexive struggling brought a tight pressure to his neck which made the panic inside him rear instinctively. But then he heard Silas laugh again and he forced himself to stop, to relax his body and the pressure eased just a little. “Well done, Peck,” Silas’ voice had grudging respect in it. “Most people keep on struggling ‘til they are dead. This not a first for you then? You been playing some kinky games lately?”
It was a first. Face hadn’t been hog tied like this before, with his wrists and ankles behind him, both attached to a noose around his neck, he didn’t suppose many people had. But he wasn’t a fool, and he’d soon worked out that struggling was not going to help him here. And anyway, Adele had called Hannibal, Hannibal knew where he was, he would come and he would get him out, of that Face had no doubt. But then Silas laughed, and the boot slammed shut and all that certainty disappeared.
If you would prefer not to read this part of the story, which is kind of important to the overall plot, I have marked it with two lines of asterixes and I would suggest skipping the marked section. I will then post a very brief and factual summary of what you have missed so you can catch up without any upset.
I realise child abuse is a very emotive subject - and rightly so! I am not condoning it in any way. Please look after yourself. If you have had experience of this matter, as many of us, unfortunately, have, and you feel that this will upset you - DON'T READ THE MARKED TEXT. Thanks - Indigo x
Adele forced herself to stroll calmly across the parking lot only when she was around the corner and definitely out of sight of the warehouse, did she allow herself to collapse against the side of the building and try to control the shaking in her limbs. Danny was there, she’d had no idea that Silas had taken him, where the hell was John? Why wasn’t he looking out for him? How had Silas got the drop on him? But of course Adele knew the answer to that question only too well, Danny had been so upset after their meeting, after the things that she’d said to him that of course he would be an easy target.
She rubbed at her forehead to try and erase the images of him in her head, of him so helpless, of Silas hurting him like that... She felt sick, sick right down to the pit of her stomach and she hated it. Silas was a psychopath, that was for sure. It was a good job that Adele had managed to control herself back there, one sign of weakness to Danny’s predicament and Silas would have had her strung up right alongside him. That ‘what can I do for you?’ crap had been just that as well, a trap, designed to lure Adele in, have her begging for Danny’s life only to have Silas turn on her as well.
No, she had done the right thing there, there was nothing she could do for Danny, nothing at all, Silas was more than a match for her in every unpleasant way going. She’d done well to get out with her life, and now she needed to phone a taxi and get the hell away from that madman for good. Her shaking fingers brought out her phone but she closed her eyes, Danny’s brave little grunts of pain as Silas flayed his beautiful skin tortured her eyes and her mind and with a snap decision, she dialled.
It was answered on the first ring, and looking nervously over her shoulder in case she’d been followed, Adele cupped her hand around the mouth piece and spoke quickly over the furious voice at the other end. “Yes, yes, I know, John, now shut up and listen to me as Danny’s life is in danger here.”
A forty minute drive away, Hannibal and BA looked at each other as they heard Adele’s words and Hannibal immediately halted his tirade. “Go on,” he said instead.
“Someone called Silas Pike has taken Danny and is going to kill him.” She hated the way her voice was shaking.
Again, Hannibal and BA traded glances, “Pike?” BA asked and Hannibal waved him quiet.
“Where?” he barked into the phone instead and Adele was instantly there with her answer.
“A warehouse over in North Gardena, number 202 on West 134th Street.”
“And why does this Pike want to kill Face?”
“Because he thinks he killed his brother!” Hannibal frowned at the edges of panic he could hear in Adele’s voice, “But it wasn’t even him, it was your other man, Baracus!”
“Oh, man,” BA moaned, hanging his head and Hannibal reached over and squeezed his arm.
“And how do you know all this then, Adele?”
“Because I’ve just been there!” There was a definite note of panic in her voice now and Hannibal silently complimented her on her acting skills. “And he’s got Danny hanging from a rope and he’s beating him and burning him and he’s going to damn well torture him to death!”
Hannibal’s brows pulled together at those words and BA could see his fingers were white where they gripped the phone. “So I suppose that you would like us to come charging over there right about now, and storm into that warehouse, right?”
“Yes!” Adele cried out, “Oh, yes, but hurry, John, hurry, he’s hurting him!”
Hannibal closed his eyes. “I don’t believe you,” he whispered coldly.
For a second there was nothing but a stunned silence from Adele, before she finally persuaded her mouth to work again. “What?!” she gasped, unable to pull out anything more eloquent.
“I don't believe you,” Hannibal replied. “Ever since we have met you, you have just fed us one lie after another. You’ve poisoned my Captain, had him in ICU, twisted Face backwards and forwards until he doesn’t know who he is anymore, and now you just want to make it a full set by getting Bosco and I to charge in with all these ridiculous lies about Face and then you’ll what? Shoot us? Have the military waiting to lock us up? I wouldn’t put anything past you, Adele!”
“No,” it almost sounded as if Adele was sobbing now and Hannibal frowned again. “You have to come, you have to help him, Silas is going to kill him!” Hannibal didn't reply. “John,” Adele whispered, “Danny told me you love him, that you’ve loved him since you first met him.” Still Hannibal didn’t reply, “Prove that love to me now, John!” she pleaded, “Come and save him before it’s too late!”
“And what do you care about that?”Hannibal asked coldly, “Since when have you ever cared about Face?” Silence came down the line and Hannibal frowned before looking at the phone in his hand. “Go home, Adele,” he said quietly and pressed the disconnect button, before quickly switching the phone off. He leant back in his seat and let out a long breath with his eyes closed tight. “You know where you’re going, BA?” he asked.
“Sure thing bossman,” BA replied concentrating hard as he weaved in and out of the traffic, “be there in about half an hour.”
Hannibal nodded and clapped him on the back as he moved into the rear of the van to unlock the weapons store, hoping and praying that they would get there in time to save Face.
Adele stared in shock at the phone in her hand, before grabbing it and redialling, swearing in frustration at the dead tone she got back. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest and she felt sick; as furious as she was with Danny after their little chat that morning, she couldn’t just leave him like that. She’d been so certain that John would come for him... Danny himself had been so certain of John’s love for him that morning that the callous reaction to her news rocked her to the core. She surprised herself when she realised that there was no savage satisfaction to the confirmation that Danny had been fooling himself for all these years, that John did only want him for the sex.
So what more could she do know? She had given Danny the opportunity to tell Silas it wasn’t him that had killed Brock Pike, but for some reason she couldn’t quite fathom, he had stayed quiet on the matter. She had tried to alert John to the trouble Danny was in, but John was too proud and suspicious to listen to her. She’d done all she could, and now she needed to do what both Danny and John had told her to do, which was get the hell out of California and try to pretend that this entire horrendous episode had never happened.
She pulled the number of a taxi firm from her address book and pressed connect, listening as it rang three times, and then, just as the operator answered, Adele pressed the red button cut them off. She slumped back against the wall of the warehouse she was hiding behind and wondered why she couldn’t just walk away. She owed Danny nothing here. He’d told her to go, told her he didn’t want to see her ever again. He hadn’t asked her for help, hadn’t even co-operated when she had tried to throw him a lifeline, she’d tried to get John to help him, what the hell else could she do?
But still she couldn’t leave. The image of Danny, and those quiet little sounds of pain he’d made when Silas whipped him were all she could see and hear. He seemed to be there at the front of her vision all the time, that indecipherable expression on his face, and so she closed her eyes tightly, not wanting him to stare at her like that.
However, once her eyes were closed it was even worse, he was there as well, that exact same emotion in his eyes, but this time from another time, another place, and another situation that Adele had, quite successfully over the years, pretended had never happened. She couldn’t hold the memory back any longer; Danny’s words at the hotel that morning had ripped it from the deep dark hole in her head where it had been hiding and now it was thrashing about in her consciousness, like a bat trapped in a room, throwing itself against the walls looking for a way out. With a whimper of submission, Adele sank to the ground and let it come.
She opened her eyes and winced at the sunlight trying to force its way in through the cheap nylon curtains of her bedroom in the back of the trailer. Her head pounded, her throat burned, her stomach was churning and the soreness down below reminded her of her partner from the night before and his none-too-gentle approach to sex. She sighed, she was actually a little sick of waking up like this.
With great difficulty and nausea, Adele turned on her other side to look at the little nest of blankets on the carpet next to her bed. She’d long ago given up trying to make Danny sleep in the main part of the trailer on a night; if she was alone he would creep into her bed as soon as she turned in, and if she had a visitor he would curl up on the floor, silent and usually unnoticed by her ‘guest’ and even Adele herself had long stopped feeling uncomfortable that he was there while she was ‘busy’.
But this morning her bed was empty and the blanket nest was empty and she sighed, partly in relief, partly in frustration. If her bed was empty then that was good, that meant that Bryce or Bruce or whatever his name was had already left and she didn’t have to put up with another ten minutes trapped under his hulking frame as she sweated all over her, but if the floor was empty as well then that meant that Danny was up and probably out playing in the mud again. She sighed, it was almost as if he did that just to deliberately annoy her. He knew how much she hated going to the laundrette.
She lay still for another few minutes and then slowly got to her feet, the draw of a quick shot of vodka proving too hard to resist, pulled on her dressing gown and yanked the plywood door of her bedroom open. She blinked and stumbled into the main living area of the trailer, grabbing hold of the side of the kitchen counter to steady herself and keep on her feet. It was dark and gloomy in here, this end of the trailer was obviously still in the shade of the trees and all the curtains were closed which was odd, as she was sure they had been open when she and Bryce/Bruce had taken to her bed last night.
She blinked again and her eyes started adjusting, but her brain took a little longer to catch up with what they were telling her they could see. She frowned as Danny’s face came into focus, pale, eyes wide and staring at her, but upside down which was odd and something her vodka soaked brain was struggling to come to terms with. Slowly the pieces fit together and she realised that he was laid in his back on the small table opposite her, his head tipped off the edge so her could see her, his feet pointing towards the couch at the end near the window. Taking a step in, Adele opened her mouth to shout at him, ask him what the hell he thought he was doing laid on the table like that when she suddenly realised that he wasn’t alone.
Almost in slow motion, she took in the scene before her, her eyes much, much quicker than her brain which was still refusing to connect the dots and come up with an acceptable reason for what it could see.
Danny was naked, his brown legs and torso in sharp contrast to the whiteness of his thighs and stomach. Bryce was also naked, one hand on himself, stroking firmly even as he watched Adele, the other... oh god... Adele felt the nausea in her stomach increase tenfold and she took another step in, looking down at Danny’s desperate pleading face, the tears streaking his cheeks, the way his hands reached out for her and she stopped, just out of his reach, clinging onto the door to stop herself from collapsing on the spot.
“Just what do you think you are doing?” she whispered, low and hard but the tremor in her words was impossible to miss. She clung on harder as her legs started to shake. “Get the hell away from him and out of this trailer before I call the police.” She didn’t want trouble from him, she just wanted him to go, now.
But Bryce didn’t stop, he continued to move his hands in synch, Danny’s face twisting in pain with every movement and smiled at Adele. “What am I doing?” he asked, his voice low and fuelled by lust. “I’m filling your cupboards with food. I’m stocking up your vodka supply.” Adele just stared at him as he leered at her, violating her son before her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He smiled, “And I’m making sure you have enough joints to last you the rest of the month...”
Still Adele didn’t move.
“Turn around,” he commanded in a voice used to being obeyed. “Go back to your pit and stay there until you hear me leave. And then I’ll go get your shopping.”
Adele looked down at Danny; his arms were still reaching for her, his silent tears leaving clean streaks down his grubby face, his eyes begging, imploring her not to go, not to leave him here with this man, to help him, to save him.
“Turn around,” Bryce ordered again and this time there was a threat in his voice and Adele thought of the food and the drink and the joints and the price that everyone had to pay in life, and turned around.
“Mommy!” It was the first time Danny had made a noise and she could hear him scrabbling around to try and reach her, Bryce swearing under his breath as he kept tight hold of his wriggling limbs. “No, mommy!” he cried, “Don’t go!”
Adele closed her eyes and started the slow walk back to her room, wishing she could close her ears as well. “Mommy!” there was panic in that little voice now, but Adele had reached her room.
“Be good, Danny,” she told him over her shoulder and then stepped in, closing the door behind her.
- - - - - - - - - - -
A while later, she heard the door to the trailer shut and Bryce’s car start up and drive away. She waited another ten minutes before dragging herself out of bed and staggering into the living area, eyes searching for her son. He wasn’t there, and for a horrible, sick minute she wondered if Bryce had taken him but then she noticed that the door was slightly ajar and so, pulling her dressing gown tightly closed, she stumbled out into the sunshine.
She squinted over to the tree and the water tap, but he wasn’t there and so with resignation, got down on her knees and looked into the gloom under the trailer. She saw him straight away, dressed in his usual shorts and t-shirt, and huddled into a tight ball next to a wheel. “Danny,” she called him gently, “come to Mommy.” He didn’t move, his face still pressed into his knees. “Danny,” she tried again, “I’m going to make you some breakfast. Come and show me what you want.” Still no movement. “Danny...” she made sure her voice was as sweet as it could be. “Don't do this, darling. It’s not nice to ignore mommy like this.”
And then he looked up and Adele recoiled in shock.
Gone was the way he’d always looked at her in the past, the adoration in his eyes, the desire to please, to love to and be loved. Now, instead of that, his little boy’s face wore the expression of an old man, a man who had seen too much, been betrayed in the worst possible way, and, even worse, finally saw that the betrayal was only the latest in a very long line, past and future. Adele felt a surge of guilt wash through her but quickly pushed it down, well, it was about time he learned that life was full of shit and if you wanted anything you had to pay the price. His blue eyes, dry of tears now, bored into her and she straightened up, knowing that her sweet little boy was gone for good.
“If you are not back inside in five minutes you won’t get any breakfast,” she told him sharply as she walked back inside. “There’s no point just sitting there crying like a baby.”
He didn’t come inside, not until Bryce came back with the food and the drink and the hash and dragged him out from under the trailer, and he didn’t cry, not until they were alone again that night and in a fit of guilt, Adele was helping him get ready for bed. He’d watched as she had taken his favourite cookie monster underpants off him and given him his pyjamas, going white as she’d noticed all the dark red stains inside his briefs. Without a word she’d thrown them straight into the trash and that’s when Danny had cried, begging and begging her to get them out again, and only stopping when she’d smacked him and dumped him in his bed by the table in the trailer.
(Safe Catchup: This section takes place as a flashback to when Adele and Face lived together in the trailer.
Face usually sleeps in Adele's bed, or on her floor if she has a man with her.
One morning Adele wakes up alone and on going into the main part of the trailer finds the man she took home, Bryce, sexually abusing her son.
She is shocked, but Bryce offers her food and drink and drugs to be allowed to continue.
She lets him and walks out ignoring Face's cries for her help.
Afterwards, Face is more than aware of what she has done to him and their relationship is ruined.)
After that fateful day, he’d never tried to get back into her bed, never made a nest on her floor. He’d never cried and he’d never looked at her with love in his eyes. Bryce came around twice more, not even bothering to sleep with Adele first, and then that’s when she went to Pablo. He was rich, single, overweight and had some very questionable sexual preferences. However, he had also wanted to take her to New York, had wanted to make her into a model in exchange for certain – rights. He’d also been quite happy for Danny to come along as well.
Adele had originally said no, Pablo turned her stomach and she felt that the price expected of her in exchange for his patronage was far, far too high. But now, well things were different; Danny wouldn’t do anything she asked of him, was sullen and sulky. She also couldn’t stand the way he looked at her now, the flat expression, the way that she was transported straight back to that moment on the table, his arms reaching out for her, the pleading in his eyes and she couldn’t stand it a moment longer.
Guilt was not an emotion that Adele readily embraced and so within three weeks of that morning with Bryce, she’d called Pablo, agreed to come to New York with him and told him that Danny was going to live with his father. He wasn’t of course and Adele was a little stuck as to what she would actually do with her morose son. In the end she decided to leave him somewhere obvious, somewhere the police would pick him up, but then, in looking for a place where no one would know her as she left him, she stumbled across the Orphanage on Tylery Road.
It was just after midnight and harder than she had anticipated to persuade a clearly frightened Danny to let go of her arm and wait for someone to answer the door.
“I don't want to!” he pleaded, his thin fingers gripping her arm tightly, “I don’t want you to go without me!”
“I’ve told you!” Adele hissed, worried that at any moment they would be discovered. “I have to go and I can’t take you with me! The bad man will get us!”
“I won’t let the bad man get us...” Danny promised, “Please take me!”
“No!” Adele fumed, eventually managing to get one hand off her arm only to have it reattach onto her coat.
“Why?!” Danny wailed, perilously close to tears now for the first time since Adele had thrown his first set of bloodstained pants away.
Adele knew that she was very close to missing Pablo come by to take her to the airport and so said the one thing that she knew would work, the one thing that always worked with Danny. “Why? Why can’t you come with me?” Danny nodded, his frantic eyes full of tears. “Because you aren’t a good boy,” she spat at him. “You weren’t a good boy for Bryce and you weren’t a good boy for me, so now you have to stay here.”
It worked. Danny’s hands sprang off Adele as if she was suddenly red hot and he backed away, settling himself into the corner of the open porch and sliding his bottom onto the ground. Adele sighed in relief. “Right,” she said adjusting her crumpled clothing, “wait until I have gone around the corner and then ring the bell.” Danny stared at her in silence. “And don't tell any of those people inside anything about me or the bad man will kill us both, right?” he nodded. “Promise?” Adele prompted him, her voice stern.
“Promise,” Danny whispered and Adele turned and without a backward glance disappeared into the night.
Face didn't ring the bell after she had gone and he didn’t tell any of the people in the orphanage anything about her when they found him at first light. In fact he didn’t say one single word to anyone for fifteen long months and by that time, his subconscious had done a grand job of wrapping up his whole past life with Adele and hiding it right at the back of his head. But of course, Adele, finding out that life with Pablo was every bit as awful as she’d thought it would be, knew none of that.
She had, however, carried that last image of him huddled on those steps in the dark with her for many years until she had managed to lock it away herself. The emotion on his face had haunted her and seeing it again today on the the man who was hanging at Silas’ mercy in that warehouse was what had brought all of this back to her. But now she understood what she was seeing; it was the expression of someone thoroughly betrayed and who now expected nothing more. That first day in the trailer with Bryce, Danny had begged and pleaded for her to help him and she hadn’t. After that he hadn’t even bothered asking anymore - he’d known it was useless.
And that’s what she’d seen in Face today; the pride, the resignation, the refusal to ask for help, even when he must have heard Silas offering her his freedom from pain and death, the acceptance that she wouldn’t help him, had never helped him, the futility of letting himself believe for one minute that she ever could.
She closed her eyes tightly against the rush of emotion those thoughts provoked in her. He’d asked her for help with Bryce, pleaded and begged her to save him and she’d turned away from him. The man who that scared little boy had become had decided he would never make that same mistake with her again, he would never ask for help that wasn’t going to come.
She opened her eyes and realised that this was the time when she needed to try and right that some of that wrong. Hannibal Smith may not care enough about Danny to come to his aid, but Adele owed him, she owed the little boy who had last reached out for her all those long years ago. Today was the day when she finally reached back.
The taxi dropped her off right outside Silas’ warehouse and Adele saw his car parked in the lot as she made her way across the loading bay to knock very loudly on the person sized door built into the huge loading doors. Within a moment, Silas’ face appeared at the window and then the door opened a crack and he looked out at her, surprise etched all over his face. “Adele,” he smiled coldly, “what a wonderful surprise.”
“I know it isn’t,” Adele bit out sharply. “I know you have tried to ditch me here.” Silas raised a thick eyebrow in a gesture of innocence. “And I want to have a few words with you about that.”
Silas glanced backwards over his shoulder for a moment, into the warehouse, and then smiled, leaning against the door frame, his arms folded. “You shouldn’t have anything to be cross with me about,” he leered at her, “Because of me you are now reconciled with your long lost son.”
“Can I come in?” Adele ground out. “It is ridiculous, having this conversation out here like this.”
“Err, no,” Silas frowned, “I’m a bit busy just now.” He rubbed his knuckled distractedly and Adele found herself wondering how they had got all marked up like that. “You were telling me about your long lost son?”
“Oh, him!” Adele spat out. “Once a loser, always a loser! And that’s one of the things I want to talk to you about!” Silas’ eyebrow went even higher. “Why I had to go through all of that crap with him, pretending I wanted to get to know him, when there wasn’t any money at the end of it!”
“You didn’t want to get to know him?” Silas asked, looking genuinely interested and Adele shook her head.
“I wish I’d never met him, I wish he was dead!” she spat, her eyes furious, thinking of the way that Danny had spoken to her back at the hotel, the things he’d said, the ascertains he’d made about himself and John...
“You do?” Silas asked, surprised.
“Yes,” Adele hissed, “I really do.”
“Just a couple more questions,” Silas said, his head on one side considering her, “How did you find me here?”
“Eddie followed you,” Adele instantly lied, somehow it always felt safer to hide behind a lie rather than tell the truth.
“And no one else knows?” Silas prompted and Adele shook her head. “You really would like to see Peck dead then?” he asked once again and Adele sighed, folding her own arms.
“I told you,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “I would!”
And then Silas smiled at her, a cold, wolf’s smile and stepped to one side, “You’d better come in then,” he said, turning his back on her and wandering slowly across the huge expanse of warehouse floor. “Close the door please,” he threw back over his shoulder, “and would you like a tea or coffee? I was just going to make one.”
Adele closed the door, and followed him in, her heels making noises that seemed to bounce over every wall and surface in the huge, empty space as she walked. “A coffee would be good,” she retorted hotly, “but some answers would be better,” and then she stopped dead in her tracks as she realised for the first time that she and Silas were not alone in the cavernous room.
Silas was off to her right, re-boiling the kettle and clinking around with cups and tea spoons while on her right, not ten metres away, was Danny. She was shocked into silence at the state he was in, his wrists bound tightly above his head, fastened to a pulley system that would obviously go higher or lower simply by pulling the rope at the other end. His face was a mass of blood and bruising and swelling, but both eyes were open, both eyes were staring at her and she stared right back. His chest was bare and bore its own collection of bruises and marks, including a good number of lashes leaking blood all down his torso. The blood ran in narrow rivers, and Adele’s eyes were drawn to the white waistband of his trunks, clearly visible above the level of his jeans which hung low over his hips, and the way the blood was soaking in, spreading through the white cotton due to the capillary effect and dropping out of sight behind the blue denim of his jeans.
“Milk and sugar?” Silas asked conversationally and Adele tore her eyes away from Face, noticing the way his bare feet were just skimming the floor as she turned her back on him and walked over to Silas’ little kitchen set up.
“Just milk,” she replied, her voice calm and steady, watching as Silas poured hot water into three cups, one with coffee granules, one with a tea bag and one empty. He handed her a white coffee and sipped at his own black tea before placing it carefully down on the counter and picking up the third cup. For the first time since they’d walked back into the warehouse, he acknowledged Face as he wandered over with the cup held in his hand.
“Thirsty, Peck?” he asked brightly, and when Face didn’t answer, he turned to Adele and smiled at her. “What do you think, you think he wants this water?”
Adele carefully sipped her coffee as her empty grey eyes flicked back over to Face. “I don't know,” she answered airily, “Depends on whether or not you think he deserves it.”
Silas’ face darkened and he took a step closer to his captive. “Oh, he deserves it alright,” he muttered, and without another pause he flicked his wrist and threw the hot water all over Face’s chest, watching with detached consideration at the way he hissed and twitched at the feel of the water on his skin. “Hmm,” Silas eventually murmured, turning away again, “No blisters. Not hot enough I think, I will have to give him his drink first next time.”
Adele was perched on a stool angled slightly away from Face and she turned to Silas as she sipped at her coffee. “So,” she began, her voice hard and cold. “I’m guessing from the fact that he is here and you are obviously enjoying making life uncomfortable for him that there never was any money and I was just a ruse to help you to draw him out?”
Silas grinned at her. “Got it in one, Adele.”
“Right...” she frowned at him, “and you don’t feel just the slightest bit guilty for having used me like that?”
Still smiling, he shook his head.
Adele sighed. “So, what’s he done then, that’s made him worth all of this trouble for you?”
This time, the smile disappeared and Silas turned his black eyes back to his captive. “He killed my brother,” he hissed, “that’s what he did. And now I’m going to kill him.”
Turning slowly on her stool, Adele faced Silas’ captive once more, her eyes drawn to the red splash marks on his torso from the water. “Is that right?” she asked in a high, imperious, voice. “Did you kill his brother?” Face looked at her, she could see strong emotion in his eyes but couldn’t quite place what it was just then. “Well?” she prompted when he didn’t answer. “You forgotten your manners?”
“Fuck you,” Face whispered and although there was a definite slur to his voice, there was no mistaking the venom behind the words.
Silas sighed, “That’s all I’ve had from him as well,” he muttered, rising to his feet. “Appalling lack of civility.” He wandered over to a table by the wall and rooted around a bit before he came back with a length of electrical cable in his hand. “You want a go?” he asked Adele, offering it out to her.
“No, thank you,” she replied, wrinkling her nose daintily, “I wouldn’t want to get blood on these pants, they’re silk.”
Silas nodded as if that were the most natural thing in the world and stepped up closer to Face, then for the next seven or eight minutes, the only sounds to be heard in the room where the swish of the cable, followed by the crack as it connected smartly with skin, coupled with nothing more than the odd pained grunt when Face just couldn’t keep it in anymore. Adele, meanwhile, sipped her coffee.
Eventually, Silas grew bored at the lack of reaction his cable was getting and threw it down, watching in fascination as it trailed thin ribbons of blood across the concrete floor. He returned to his tea and took a swig, slightly out of breath and massaging his shoulder as he perched on a stool across from Adele. “I’ll win in the end,” he told her matter of factly, “I’ll have him begging and crying before he dies.”
“I’m sure you will,” Adele replied quietly before turning to flash a quick grin up at him. “He always was such a stubborn boy.”
Silas nodded as he sipped his tea and then placed it down, regarding Adele coolly. “So,” he said eventually, “I believe we have a bit of a problem here to deal with.” Adele raised her eyes at him. “You think I have treated you unfairly and taken advantage of you for my own ends.”
“That’s right,” Adele told him, “you have.”
Rubbing at his chin, Silas regarded her thoughtfully. “Well, I hate to say it Adele, but you may have a point.”
“You know I do.”
“Well,” he folded his arms and looked her right in the eye. “I am a man of honour and I always try to right any wrongs I may commit, so, tell me, I don't have any money to give you, but is there anything I can do that will go some way to paying my debt?”
Adele considered this for a few minutes, her eyes on the discarded cable on the floor, “Well,” she said slowly, unsure on how her words would be taken. “There is one thing you could do for me.” She looked up to meet his eyes and he raised a thick brow at her. “You could stop Hannibal Smith from coming after me.”
Silas watched her evenly as he sipped his tea, “You know,” he said conversationally, “I was really expecting you to ask for the life of your boy there.” He nodded towards Face and Adele raised her own eyebrow in reply. “And I’d have done it as well, if that’s what you’d wanted.”
She smiled at him, a little girly smile that she knew most men adored. “What would be the point in that?” she asked simply, “I’ve already told you I wish he was dead. I’d much rather you kept Hannibal Smith off my back instead.”
Putting down his cup, Silas held out his hand. “Alright then,” he grinned, “we have a deal. I stop Smith for you, and then you and I are even.”
Adele reached out and shook his hand firmly, returning his smile as she did so, “Deal,” she replied. Then she put her coffee cup down and looked at her watch, “Well, I really must be going,” she told him brightly. “There seems to be no reason at all for me to stay in LA anymore, and if I hurry, I can get the early evening flight back to New York.”
“Of course,” Silas too got to his feet and nodded at her, “good flight then.”
Adele nodded back, and without a single glance at Face as he dripped blood onto the concrete floor, she turned and walked out of the warehouse.
“Bosco. You know where Face is? He’s not answering his phone.”
“Err, yeah,” BA scrubbed a hand through his Mohawk, “he’s seein’ his mother. I jus’ dropped him off.”
“Really?” the surprise was clear in Hannibal’s voice and BA was dreading the moment when he had a full grasp of what exactly Face was planning on discussing with Adele.
“Yeah, how’s the fool?” BA cringed himself at those words but they were out before he could stop them, he just hoped that Hannibal understood their use.
“Better,” Hannibal reported. “They’ve moved him from the ICU into a room on his own. He’s still not woken up, but they are expecting he will soon.”
BA closed his eyes and muttered a quick prayer of thanks in his head. “That’s good,” he replied gruffly. “Listen man, I have some news for you, about this whole business with Murdock, some news for the hospital too.”
“Yeah?” Hannibal sounded interested. “Okay then big guy, but not over the phone, yeah? You coming over today?”
“Already on my way.”
“Good,” BA could almost imagine Hannibal looking at his watch as he answered. “See you here as soon as then, Ward Sixty, Murdock’s in room 4b, okay?”
“Okay.” BA hung up and pulled straight back out into the traffic.
It took twenty minutes for BA to reach the hospital, a further ten while he parked and walked all the way across to Ward Sixty and located Murdock’s room. He was still sleeping, but the deathly pale pallor of last night had gone, and there was the faintest pink flush of health to his cheeks that made BA feel so much better.
“So,” Hannibal prompted from the doorway. “Updates corporal?”
BA nodded, and with a last glance at the sleeping Murdock, followed Hannibal out of the door to stand in the corridor outside Murdock’s room. “Miguel called,” BA announced without preamble and Hannibal’s eyes narrowed.
“What did he say?”
“Salvia divinorum,” BA recounted accurately. “It makes people hallucinate and have weird turns, you know?” he nodded his head back towards Murdock’s room.
Hannibal nodded. “How did he ingest it?” he asked quietly and BA sighed.
“The elderflower cordial was laced with it...”
For a second Hannibal just frowned but then his face darkened into a quiet, controlled rage that BA had seen in his commander’s expression very, very seldom in the past. “The cordial?” he repeated quietly. “Then I was right in my suspicions, Adele was trying to harm him.”
BA nodded solemnly, “That’s what Faceman said an’ all.”
BA nodded, “He took the call from Miguel.”
“And he’s gone to see her?” the incredulous tone to Hannibal’s voice put BA on edge and he knew that there was still more to come.
“That aint all he knows, man,” he muttered.
“What?” Hannibal prompted an uncomfortable fear like feeling building up inside him.
BA sighed. “There aint nuthin’ wrong with her,” he reported quietly. “She aint dyin’ at all.”
Hannibal blinked. “We know this for a fact?”
BA nodded. “Murdock had her medical records sent over, but then he musta forgot they were there ‘cause I found ‘em under his bed when I was lookin’ for that damn cordial.”
Hannibal rubbed his hands across his face, “Jesus Christ,” he muttered. “How did he take it?”
This time BA shook his head, “He’s mad as all hell, bossman, think he’s gonna go and tear her a new one alright.”
“Damn it!” Hannibal exploded. “Why did you let him go on his own like that? Why didn’t you make him wait for me?”
BA held his ground and held Hannibal’s stare. “’Cause he aint a child, Hannibal! I keep tellin’ you that! You can’t keep on tellin’ him how to live his life!”
Hannibal looked at his watch. “Okay, we’ll have to leave Murdock here on his own for a while. I’ll go and speak to a doctor, tell them about the cordial, and you go get the van, pull it round to the front and wait for me there.”
“Will do,” BA answered, pulling away from the wall. “Where we goin’?”
“To see Adele ourselves,” Hannibal said darkly. “There’s one of two things I’d like to say to that woman myself...”
Eyes narrowed in agreement, BA turned and headed off to get the van.
BA pulled the van into the alley at the side of the hotel just as a plain black sedan pulled out going the other way.
“Wait here,” Hannibal ordered him. “I want to be able to get away fast if we need to.”
BA nodded, even though he’d really been looking forward to seeing Adele for himself. Hannibal was right though, plus if Face was in a state, then Hannibal would deal with him much better without BA around...
Hannibal walked in and went straight to the bar, looking around for some sign of Face in the mostly empty room. When there was nothing, he tried the restaurant, and then the pool bar before calling Adele’s room and finally her mobile. With no luck, he then called Face and frowned as his phone went straight to voicemail as well, and with that feeling of dread building with every second he approached the desk.
It took him almost five minutes and a great deal of convincing stories, before the woman on the desk eventually told him that Adele had checked out that very morning. They didn’t have a forwarding address, and even if they had, they certainly wouldn’t have shared it with Hannibal. No one at the desk remembered seeing Face there, but she suggested he go and check with the bar man, which he did at once. The barman was much more helpful. Yes, Face had been there with his mother, but he’d left, about thirty minutes earlier, on his own; Adele following soon after him. Hannibal thanked him and then stalked out, his mind in turmoil as he went to meet with BA.
The red lights on the bedside clock had just flicked onto one pm when there was a light knock on Adele Armando’s hotel room door. She crept silently to the peep hole and peered through, sighing with relief as she noticed the receptionist, Leah, from downstairs, she pulled the door open and composed her face into one of fear and worry. “Yes, Leah?” she asked tremulously.
“It’s alright, Mrs. Armando,” the Leah soothed. “Your ex-husband did come looking for you as you worried, but I threw him off the trail, told him you’d checked out this morning and that I didn’t know where you had gone.”
“Oh, thank you!” Adele breathed dramatically. “You have quite possibly saved my life there, my dear; he is such a nasty, violent man...”
Leah frowned, “Maybe you should go to the police about him then? If he’s as dangerous as you say...”
“I will,” Adele reassured her, “just as soon as I make sure he won't be able to find me again if I do.”
The look on Leah’s face was one of pure, unadulterated sympathy and Adele reached into her pocket, pulling a note out and pressing it into her hand. “Thank you again,” she gushed, “I am so grateful to you.”
Leah left, and Adele leaned against the wall, wondering what to do now that she had thrown Hannibal of her trail for now. She wasn’t at all stupid though, she knew damn well that he would catch up with her at some point in the future, the question was, where should she let that happen, and more importantly, when?
Her phone suddenly rang, making her jump with its shrill tone and she sighed at her nervousness, snatching it up and seeing the name displayed before rolling her eyes and answering.
“Yes, Eddie,” she snapped, “what is it? You better have a really good reason for calling me as I haven’t had the best of days at all...”
Abruptly her legs dropped out from under her and she sat on the dressing table stool with a thump. “What????” she almost screeched at poor hapless Eddie, “No, you better tell me that again, and this time make it something I actually want to hear...” Adele’s hands were shaking that much that she put the phone down on the table top and flicked it onto speaker.
Eddie’s voice, a little tinny perhaps, came out loud and clear. “This money that we have been chasing, Adele, the A-Team don’t have it, they’ve never had it, it doesn’t even exist any more.”
Adele massaged her temples and stared murderously at the phone. “How do you work that out then, Einstein?” she snapped at him.
A sigh came over the phone and Adele could almost imagine Eddie, sweat stains spreading across his shirt, wiping his shiny brow with an already wet handkerchief... he really was the most incredibly gross person she had ever met. “So, back in Baghdad, the A-Team apprehended a container which held the printing plates and billions of dollars in fake U.S. dollars.”
“Billions?!” Adele breathed, thinking perhaps this story wasn’t going to end as badly as she had first feared.
“Yes,” Eddie answered cautiously. “But then, after the plates were removed, effectively framing Smith and his men, the container was blown up and all the money destroyed.”
For a second Adele couldn’t speak, and then she croaked out, “All of it?”
“Yes,” Eddie sighed. “That which wasn’t destroyed in the container was collected up and burned as the A-Team were taken into custody. None of the money was reported missing. Smith and his men were never accused by anyone of taking it. None of that money ever left the FOB.”
Again Adele was stunned into silence. “None of it?” she eventually whispered foolishly.
“None of it,” Eddie confirmed.
“But... but how do you know this?” she stammered at him, “Silas’ brother told him –”
“I know it because I have my own army contacts,” Eddie interrupted her, “and Silas’ brother was the one who set the A-Team up in the first place!”
Adele remembered Danny’s words to her about the Pike he knew, ‘he’s the whole damn reason we’re in the mess we are in.’ he’d said. Silas’ brother. Of course. “We need to tell Silas,” she whispered slowly, “that’s there’s no money.”
For a second there was nothing from Eddie’s end and then he laughed, a dry, tired laugh. “Adele, dearest,” he chuckled, “please don’t tell me you are that naive!”
Bristling, Adele went back to glaring at the phone. “What? You think that Silas knows there’s no money? How ridiculous!” She scoffed. “Why on earth would he go to all this effort if he knew?”
When Eddie came back on the phone there was no humour in his voice. “Eddie’s brother, Brock, was at the LA docks when Smith and his men brought the plates back to the USA,” he explained patiently. “According to my sources, when the whole thing went to shit, Brock went after one of Smith’s team, hunting him down through the wreckage and cornering him, intending to kill him. However, it was Brock who ended up dead, his neck snapped clean in two.” He paused, enjoying the stunned silence from Adele. “Which one of Smith’s men do you think he went after then, Adele?”
There was another loaded pause before Adele almost breathed, “Danny...” down the phone.
“That’s right, Templeton Peck, and the rumours that I’ve heard are that Brock’s little brother has been asking around, trying to trace Peck for two years, wanting to get even with him for killing his brother.”
Adele held her head in her hands and stared at the phone beneath her, she just couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Danny killed someone?” she eventually whispered and this time it was Eddie who was stunned into silence.
“Killed someone?” he repeated, “Adele, he was in the army for almost twenty years! What did you think he was doing in all that time? Macramé?”
“No need to be snappy with me Eddie!” Adele snipped back, her pride well and truly dented at this point.
“Anyway,” again, Adele could imagine him shaking his shiny red head at her. “That doesn’t even matter as it seems that it wasn’t Peck who killed Brock, it was Baracus, coming to Peck’s aid.”
Adele rubbed her eyes, “How do you know any of this, Eddie?” she asked again, suspicion in her voice.
“Because I, unlike Silas it seems, have actually spoken to people who were there when these things happened, I spoke to some of the guards who were watching over Smith and his men at the docks, who heard Peck thanking Baracus for saving his life like that.”
Adele took a moment to process all that Eddie had told her, before she let out a long sigh and ran her fingers through her hair to her scalp. “I don’t believe this,” she told him, anger and shock audible in every word. “I cannot believe that Silas would just use me like that! As a tool for getting to Danny! Tricking me into doing his dirty work for him like that,” she really was appalled. “Where the hell does he get off playing with people’s emotions like that?”
It was fortunate for Eddie that he wasn’t in the room with Adele at this time as she would not have appreciated the incredulous look that spread over his face at her words.
“I think that Mr. Pike and I need to have a few words...” an oblivious Adele whispered lethally. “Do you have a number for him, Eddie?”
“You know I do,” Eddie sighed, “but it’s no good, it doesn’t even ring when you call it anymore.”
“Damn!” Adele slammed her fist onto the table making her phone jump. “So we just have to let him sneak back off into the sunset then do we?” she seethed.
“Well,” Eddie tried to not sound too smug, “we would have had to do that,” he said quietly, “if I hadn’t put a bug on his car...”
“Oh, Eddie!” Adele visibly brightened, sitting up straighter on her stool, “I could kiss you!” she was, of course, only saying that as she knew that Eddie was safely across the other side of town, but she knew he’d like to hear it anyway. “So, where is he then?”
There was a pause. “Adele,” Eddie’s voice was quiet. “Silas is a dangerous man, you can’t just go dashing off to see him on your own.”
“Yes, yes, I know that!” Adele muttered, “And that’s why you are coming with me, right?” she knew Eddie could never refuse.
“Yes,” he said at once and she felt that warm glow of smugness filter through her.
“Okay then, so tell me where he is and then come and pick me up!”
Eddie paused, “But, why would you need to know if I am coming over to get you? I’ll tell you then.”
“Tell me now,” Adele simpered in her little girly voice, “and then I can plan better what I intend to say to him if I can imagine where he is.”
“Eddie, darling, please...” she whined.
And of course Eddie caved in. “Okay! He’s parked outside a warehouse, number 202 on West 134th Street, North Gardena. Alright?”
“Thank you, darling.”
“And you will wait for me?”
“Of course I will Eddie, come over as soon as you can.”
Eddie agreed and rang off and Adele snapped her phone shut, slipping it into her bag as she grabbed her keys and headed for the door.
He smiled at the concierge as he arrived, sliding a few notes across the counter and wishing he’d thought to change out of his jeans and Hannibal’s sweatshirt. The concierge was putty in his hands, agreeing to pass his message along and Face wandered into the almost empty bar to wait, choosing a secluded table at the back of the room and ordering a club soda.
The twenty minute wait was hell on his nerves however, and by the time Adele drifted into the bar, her face a mask of anguished concern, Face had already caved in and asked for a shot of vodka in his soda.
“Darling,” she gushed, sliding into the booth opposite him and taking his hand in hers, “I got your message, whatever is the matter?”
Face had to physically stop himself from yanking his hand away from that cold, firm grip, and instead slid seamlessly into his prepared speech. “Mother,” he spoke quietly, holding her eyes with his best intense stare, “I need to know if you are serious about wanting me to come to New York with you.”
Adele’s eyes widened in fake shock, “Oh, course I am darling, why wouldn’t I be?”
Taking a deep breath, Face pushed on. “Well, we need to leave today then, right now. I’ve got a car, are you ready to go?”
The look on Adele’s face was priceless and Face had to work hard to make sure he didn’t laugh. He was sure it took a fair bit to pull the carpet out from underneath her, and he hoped it wouldn’t be the first time in this conversation that he managed to do it, but he needed answers, answers he knew damn well she would never give if he just asked. “I... well... yes, dear... but... now?”
Face pulled a look of anguish onto his face, thinking of Murdock lying pale and still in that hospital bed made it pretty easy, and drew out his next move. “Yes. I spoke to Hannibal and he won’t let me go with you, so I’ve snuck away from them. Once they find out I’ve gone, they’ll come after me which is why we need to leave now.”
For a second Adele was clearly lost for words, but then she got her head back into the game, “He won’t let you go?” She frowned, “Why would he stop you?”
Shrugging, Face took a swig of his drink, “Because he needs me for a job we’re doing. He’s my boss; he gets to say when I can get time off, just like any boss.”
“But,” Adele’s eyes were wide. “I’m dying. Didn’t you tell him that?”
Again Face shrugged, enjoying twisting this particular knife, “He says he’s not bothered and I shouldn’t be either. He says I’ve hardly known you five minutes, why should I care if you die?”
Adele’s face was a picture, and Face wondered if her ‘dying’ routine had been so convincing that she had even started to persuade herself it was true. But then the con-woman in her surfaced once more and moved onto the real objection she had to Face’s change of plan. “But, Danny, how can you just leave now, like this? Don’t you need to get your things?”
“I don't need any,” Face replied quickly. “I travel very light.”
Pausing, Adele let her mind whirl around the problem here; Danny in New York without any money was no use to anyone. “What about money?” she asked him carefully, “Do you have enough to see you through all your time without work?”
Face let his eyes widen and even fill with tears as he leaned towards her. “I don’t have any,” he whispered sadly, somehow feeling they were getting to the crux of the matter here, “I thought I could just stay with you in New York?”
And then he knew he’d got her. He watched as she flinched and almost pulled her hand away from him before thinking better of it and leaning in once again. “Danny,” she whispered, stroking his wrist in a way that sent shivers running up and down his spine, “I know about the money from Baghdad, you don’t have to hide that from me.”
So there it was, she thought he was rich; somehow hiding away a stash of those billions of dollars that had gone up in flames the night that Pike and Morrison had set them up, and even though it had been expected, that realisation was like an icy cold stake right through his heart and he struggled to hold back the tears. “That money?” he whispered, his voice rough. “That’s why you did it, hey? You pretended you were dying just to get your hands on some of that money?”
It was like time just stopped for a few seconds. Adele’s fingers froze in their act of stroking his wrist and their eyes locked – he could see the almost-panic in hers and he hoped to hell that she could see the barely contained fury in his.
Eventually she decided to brazen it out. “Money?” she had a perfect hurt/confused expression on her face as she carefully tried to withdraw her hand. “I have no idea what you mean, darling.”
Real fear flashed over her as Face tightened his fingers, not permitting her to pull back from him and he let his expression fall open, allowing the anger, the seriousness, the coldness of his eyes wash over her. “Yes, you do,” he whispered, low and dangerous. “Somehow you found out about the counterfeit money and that was what prompted you to get in touch with me after all these years. All that business about wanting to get to know me, how you were dying,” Face felt the fury leak out in that one word and he reined himself back in; if he let it all out now, all the pain, all the anger... well, he had no idea what he would do. “That was all a load of horse shit wasn’t it? Just a ruse to try and get me to sign it all over to you.”
Adele stared at him, for once in her life lost for words as she looked into his cold blue eyes, recognising herself in him for the very first time.
“But it didn’t work did it?” Face smiled a brittle, hard smile, enjoying the fear that lurked in her eyes. “Because I never cared enough about you to want to give you anything,” he couldn’t resist the opportunity to inflict a little pain himself. “And that was before I found out that you had tried to poison Murdock, because you did, didn’t you?”
He let the silence fall, let it wash over them both. His fingers, tight on her wrist could feel her pulse jumping frantically against her skin and a savage satisfaction unfurled within him. She was scared, he was scaring her. Good.
But then Adele decided to fight back. “Yes I did!” she hissed, trying to drown her fear in anger. “He threatened to spoil my game and tip you off, and I couldn’t have that, not when I could tell you were so close to caving in.”
“So he deserved to die?” Face spat coldly.
“No,” Adele’s cold laugh chilled him, “he was never supposed to die! He was supposed to revert to type, have another one of his crazy spells, end up in the nut house again where he could rant and rave about me from the safety of his strait-jacket and no one would ever believe him!”
Face whipped his hand away in disgust and tightened his fingers into fists. He’d knocked people out for less than that in the past and her words cut him to the core as he knew how close they were to being true... and for Murdock to end up like that would be a fate worse than death for him - for them all.
Adele sneered at the horror in his face and pressed her advantage. “And yes, I came after you because of the money, of course it was because of the money, why on earth would I want you otherwise?”
Her words were like a solid slap and Face fought hard to get hold of some of that anger again, something that would protect him from the searing pain right through his chest. But it was suddenly so hard to find and instead he just looked at her, hiding his agony under nothing more substantial than a blank stare.
“After all, I went to all that trouble to ditch you the first time, grabbing, needy little thing that you were, why the hell would I ever want you back in my life again?”
“There was no one after you?” The words were out of Face’s mouth before he could stop them and he could have kicked himself for letting them out, especially when Adele laughed out loud at him.
“Oh, no! My poor little Danny! Did you believe that story, about the big, bad man wanting to catch your mommy?” She smirked coldly at him. “I suppose it’s easy to believe what you’ve always wanted to hear isn’t it? Would the truth have been harder to swallow?”
“Shut up,” Face muttered under his breath.
“What’s the matter? You don't want to hear what really happened back then?”
“Shut up!” he repeated, teeth clenched, finger nails digging crescents into his palms.
“Scared of the truth about yourself, darling?” Adele mocked.
“I know the truth already!” Face exploded, “I know about the trailer and your drinking and the whoring around and the way you’d get me to steal for you and hit me when I didn't do things right! I know about all the men as well and the way that you would let them touch me if they’d leave you a bit of hash or a bottle of vodka when they were done!”
All the blood drained from Adele’s face and her eyes quickly flicked around to make sure no one had heard him. “Oh, really?” she asked coldly. “Well, if you remember all that, then surely you would remember that I did meet a man and he offered to take me to New York and make me into a top model, living the high life and all that that entailed, and you!” she stabbed a manicured finger at him, “were most certainly not invited!”
Face felt his cheeks pale and hated himself for it when he saw the look of victory that swept across Adele’s face.
“That’s right, dear,” she hissed, twisting her own knife now, “you’d always been nothing more than an inconvenience to me in the past, but by then you were a blight on my entire existence! Always so damn clingy, wanting hugs and approval and climbing into bed with me the whole damn time and asking if you were a good boy...” she shook her head, her lipped curled in disgust. “You ought to count yourself lucky that we passed that orphanage that night, my original idea had been to just leave you on a street corner somewhere!”
Despite everything that Face had ever gone through in his life up to that point, despite every low opinion that he’d ever had of himself and every put down that others had heaped upon him, those words hurt him more than anything that had ever come before. He just stared at her, hating the way he knew from her smirk that his agony was etched all over his face, hating her for saying those things, thinking those things, but most of all, hating himself for being nothing she’d wanted back then, being so unlovable and repulsive that she had wished him dead.
Adele could see the devastation in his eyes and knew her victory in this battle was just around the corner so she leant in for the death blow, “And you are just the same now aren’t you?” she whispered. “Except it’s not me that you are clinging onto all the time, refusing to see when you aren’t wanted. No, now you have latched yourself onto John and the others, sucking them dry like the emotional parasite you are!”
Face’s heart was pounding hard against his chest as her words wrapped round and round his mind like a giant boa constrictor. “You said John didn’t want you to go to New York?” she spat at him. “That was a lie wasn’t it? He wanted you to go really didn’t he? A chance to get you out from under his feet, to cut the ties that are slowly choking him to death!”
And now Face was reeling. Hannibal had said that hadn’t he? He had told Face to go to New York, said it was the best thing to do... Hadn’t he? Or had he? Suddenly it was all just a confusing blur. He heard Adele laugh at him and he fought hard in his memories for the words that had actually been spoken that night but they wouldn’t come, nothing about the New York discussion would come...
“Ahhh, what’s the matter?” Adele mocked him in a voice that had him longing to put a fist into her mouth, “Never noticed how much you annoy John before? Truth hurt, darling?”
She was right; he did annoy Hannibal, all the damn time. It was like Face had a hot wire straight to Hannibal’s temper; no one could get to the boss as much as he could, no one made him so angry and frustrated at times.
“Oh dear,” Adele laughed, “seems I’ve knocked open can of truth worms, hey, Danny?”
He suddenly wanted to run, get out of this booth and just flee, from this woman, the team who didn’t want him, from Hannibal who had obviously been wanting him to go for so, so long now...
“Go on,” she hissed, “run away. You know they want you to, you know John is just desperate to be free of you...”
Face tensed, the muscles in his legs bunching to do exactly what she was suggesting and then it suddenly came back to him, the words from that night, exactly what Hannibal had said to him, ’ The very, very, last thing I want to do is to spend one more night away from your side...’ And Face had believed him, why? Because Hannibal had held him and stroked him and then taken him to bed and loved him, because that’s what Hannibal did, he loved him, and so did Murdock, and so, in his own gruff way, did BA. Adele never had, and ever since he’d met her, Face had kind of known that any way, but his team, well they always had – and they always would.
He willed his muscles to relax and stop shaking and forced himself to meet Adele’s mocking stare head on. “You have no idea how stupid your lies sound,” he told her calmly. “Hannibal never wanted me to go anywhere. He loves me.” She raised a patronising eyebrow at him. “He’s in love with me,” Face clarified. “You always thought you had a chance with him?” Now it was his turn to look at her in mock sympathy, “You never did. He’s taken. By me.”
Emotions rolled over Adele’s face in almost comical quick succession. Shock, disbelief, humiliation and finally determination, and with a cold sneer, she had one more attempt at driving home her absolute destruction of him. “You think he loves you?” she scoffed. “Just because he fucks you every once in a while?” She saw the flinch that Face couldn’t hold back at her words and forged on. “He doesn’t love you! It’s no such thing at all. You said yourself how difficult it is for any of you to have a girlfriend in your current situation, all you are to him is sexual relief, a warm hole for him to come in! You think it’s more than that?” She shook her head at him, “Then I pity you and the heart ache you have coming your way.”
For a second, the desperation threatened to swallow him whole, but then Hannibal’s voice sounded loud and clear above the roaring in his ears. ‘I love you, Temp, with everything I am.’ and it gave him the strength he needed to swallow the threatening panic down and smile serenely at Adele. “He loves me,” he reiterated, knowing with absolute certainty that it was true. “Twenty years we’ve been lovers,” he smirked at the shock she couldn’t hide. “That’s right, from long before he had no other choices, he chose me to share his life with him.” Adele just stared as Face pushed on, “I was seventeen when he picked me out. He was the first person ever to love me, the first person ever to make love to me. He gave me my name and he gave me my life. He means more to me than you ever could, and that’s exactly the way I want it.”
He slowly got to his feet, holding her eyes with his own as he stood. “I am going to walk out of here now, Adele, and you are going to pack your bags and get the hell out of LA.” She just stared at him, lost for words once more. He considered her, tilting his head in thought. “If I could have my time with you again, you know, I actually wouldn’t change a single thing, even if I could pick any woman at random off the street and know damn well that she would make a better mother than you ever did. You said once that walking out on me was for the best, and out of all the lies you’ve spun, that’s the one true thing that left your lips. You leaving me pushed me into Hannibal’s path, and with that my life is complete. The next time you consider the fact that your handsome prince never arrived, remember that I have been living with mine for over half my life now.” Face smiled as he saw the realisation of the truth in his words as it hit her.
He tugged Hannibal’s sweatshirt down over his hips. “You are never going to darken my door again,” he told her, quiet but confident. “And if I ever find you anywhere near BA or Hannibal or Murdock...” he shook his head sadly, “then I will kill you. You understand me?” He was gratified to see the fear in her eyes. “And if Murdock doesn’t make a full recovery from your little stunt,” he shrugged, “I’ll kill you anyway. Poison you with something you don’t even see coming. Think on that the next time you stuff a three course meal down your neck in a restaurant.”
Adele looked up at him, and he knew she was taking him very, very seriously indeed. “Goodbye,” he said quietly, turned on his heel, and walked out.
He stalked straight out into the sunshine, but he could already feel the shaking starting up in his legs and the cold sweat across his back. He looked for a taxi and reached out to hail one, but then realised he would never make it and instead turned into the alley at the side of the hotel, only just managing to get behind the cover of the first trash can before his breakfast came up all over the ground.
He wretched over and over again, even when there was nothing left to come up, but then his sixth sense kicked in and he felt someone behind him as he dry heaved into the gutter. In a flash he straightened and turned, bringing his arm up at the same time and feeling the satisfying thump of cheekbone against elbow even as the sharp sting of a needle in his neck caught his attention.
He stumbled as he looked up, his vision already starting to grey around the edges, and frowned as his knees hit the ground with a bone jarring thud. His last conscious thoughts as the blackness swirled in and took him were, who was that man in the dark suit smiling coldly at him? And why did he look so damn familiar?