A day at the beach

"No, you just came out of the hospital three days ago."

"But Hannibal, three days is a long time and I don't even want…"

"You were not released as healed, we took you away because your nightmares were raising too many questions. You haven't fully recovered Lieutenant."

"But I feel fine, come on, just sitting at the beach, I won't even go into the water." Face whined.

"You are supposed to be in bed."

"Where I haven't been in the past two days, you let me get up two days ago, and even out on the deck. It's no difference to be sitting at the deck or the beach. And I'll finish the last of the antibiotics today too."

Ten days ago when they were coming from a mission Face suddenly fell out of his seat and was curled up in pain, pressing his hands to his belly. When Hannibal checked him over he admitted that he had been in pain for days but didn't want to jeopardize the mission. After that he was laid up in hospital for a week to cure a nasty kidney infection. Ever since the camps Face was having kidney trouble now and then so Hannibal was beyond pissed that he hadn't said anything earlier on. When the worst was over and Face's continuous screams at night raised too many questions the team decided to take him away. The doctor tried to convince Hannibal that his 'son' really should stay in the hospital but finally released him on being the patient's wish. They were given Antibiotics and anti inflammatory drugs he was supposed to finish along with the order to stay in bed and drink a lot. They all went to the beach house Face had scammed before the mission to take advantage of the place and also because they didn't trust Face to follow the doctors order. Hannibal also wanted to have a close eye on him because of the nightmares, while Face was prone to them they usually didn't come every night and didn't also end with him screaming out his lungs all the time.

Once a safe distance away from the hospital the night terror subsided, Hannibal was waiting for a good chance to talk to his second about that. He had a suspicion that the hospital was what had caused all the nightmares.

Right now they were arguing whether Face was allowed to go down to the beach. Murdock and BA had gone there and Face was watching them having fun from the window. There were not too many people at the beach and Face longed to feel the sand and feel the spray from the crashing waves.

"We'll only be here for two more days before we have to move again, I couldn't even enjoy the beach so far, please Hannibal."

"Well, you could have enjoyed the beach had you informed us about your kidney trouble before it turned into a full blown infection."

Face looked down to the floor, he knew he deserved this but damn, the little boy was so scared that his daddy would not come home again, Face couldn't risk blowing the mission because they were a man short, not that one. "I'm sorry."

Hannibal had seen the looks Face gave the boy, he knew this mission had been hard for his Lieutenant even without the kidney pain. It would have killed him if the father had not been rescued in time because he was slowing the team down. Hannibal still had lectured him about hiding his troubles, even though he understood. If Face knew he understood he would just talk his way out of it the next time such a thing happened, and Hannibal had no doubt it would happen again. This was Face after all.

"You got to take your antibiotics in thirty minutes."

"I know, they taste terrible, glad it's the last one."

"You are not even supposed to taste them, just swallow them fast."

"It sounds so easy from you."

Hannibal knew Face always had difficulties to swallow drugs so he dropped the topic.

"Sit down, you are not supposed to be standing around all day, rest."

Face knew he had lost and did as being told. Hannibal saw the sad expression and the longing look out of the window and felt sympathy for Face. He knew how he loved the beach and it wasn't often that they had the chance to just spend some time there. He wandered over to the shelf where they kept Face's medication and picked up a thermometer.

"Here, put that under your tongue."

"But I don't have a fever anymore."

"If you want to have a chance to go down to the beach stop talking and put the thermometer in."

Face's eyes lit up. "You'll let me go there?"

"Maybe, if your temperature is not in the slightest elevated and if you agree to my conditions."

"I'll agree to everything."

"You are risking your slim chance right now." Hannibal said while pointing at the thermometer that was still not where it belonged. Face quickly put it under his tongue and clamped his mouth shut.

Hannibal read the thermometer and put it down. "Okay, we can go down to the beach under those conditions. You'll lay down on the couch until it's time for your antibiotics…"

"Okay, no problem."

"I'm not done Lieutenant. We'll go down together, real nice and slow, you won't go into the water, you'll drink the whole water bottle I'll take along for you, You'll not get too excited with Murdock and after two hours, when it's time for your anti inflammatory drug you'll come back here, take it and take a nice nap."

"Okay, anything. I've been holed up here for far too long now."

"Alright, close your eyes and rest until it's time to go."

Twenty five minutes later Face had taken his tablet and they were on their way.

"Hey big guy look, Face and Hannibal. Face, come here I'm building a castle and the guys from the fort next to it want to take over."

"I'm coming."

"Face, remember our agreement, play it cool."

Murdock was building in the sand with a little black girl, from the looks of it and the way she acted she was mentally handicapped. BA sat a bit away under a shade talking to a lady. Hannibal supposed she was the girl's mother.

"Hey Hannibal, meet Clare, mother of Murdock's new friend Cynthia."

"Hello, I'm Hannibal."

"So you let him talk you into allowing him to the beach?"

"He's a lot better and he loves the beach, let him have some fun. He's here under strict conditions though."

"Yeah, as if he would listen."

They talked some and watched the game Murdock Face and Cynthia played. They were all laughing and having a good time. Hannibal kept watching until the game between Face and Murdock got too agitated for his liking, they were chasing each other around the sand castle where Cynthia was currently building a new tower.

"Face, stop that. Remember what I told you."

Face stopped dead. "Sorry Hannibal, I…I forgot." He quickly sat down in the warm sand and helped Cynthia, not wanting to risk being sent back inside right then. He was an adult but he knew he still had to listen to Hannibal, their situation was different from others and he knew he wasn't too careful with his own health. He also knew he couldn't piss off the colonel for good because he wouldn't be able to make it on his own, and to be honest, Hannibal was only looking out for him and only commanded him around when it was necessary.

"What was that Face?"

"Hannibal let me come here only if I play it cool and don't run around. I'm supposed to be resting."

"He's right, sorry, okay, let's just build."

"What's the matter with your son if I might ask?"

"He's sick, he should take it slow before something happens."

"I see. Cynthia likes playing with them, she has a great day."

BA excused himself and went swimming. Hannibal and Clare continued chatting. After a while when the game got a little wilder again Hannibal called out to Face.

"Kid, come over here."

Face felt caught and didn't look at Hannibal as he came closer.

"Sit down here. I told you to rest. Here, drink some of your water, remember the whole bottle goes before the two hours are up."

Face drunk some and watched Murdock and Cynthia play from his spot besides Hannibal. "Can I join them again, please, I'll just sit there and build, promised?" He knew better than to disobey Hannibal.

"Okay, wait, let me put some sun crème on your back, your skin feels hot already, don't stay in the sun for too long, you'll get a sunburn. Ten more minutes, then you come here to the shade and take a break and another drink."

"Okay." Face was gone again leaving Hannibal and Clare.

"I'm glad I still have sunburn lotion in the house, he's not gonna stay out of the sun, no matter what I do."

"Cynthia is like that too, when she's at the beach she forget's the world."

In the course of the next hour Hannibal called Face over to get out of the sun and drink several times, he never stayed there for long though. Hannibal and Clare were engrossed into their talking and when they looked for the building trio all three of them were sitting just at the side of the water in the wet part of the sand letting the waves wash over their legs.

"Face, which part of don't go into the water didn't you get!" Hannibal thundered and Face jumped and scouted back some until his but was on the dry and warm sand.

"Come here at once."

Face hurried to comply. BA was just coming out of the water too. "Of all the stupid…You are going back to the house right now."

"But Hannibal, the two hours…"

"Stop it right there, you were not supposed to go into the water."

"I didn't we were just…, Cynthia wanted to feel the water but was afraid to go inside. We just sat there."

"You sat in reach of the waves, your swim trunks is all wet, your kidneys have to stay warm! Should I take you back to the hospital right away?"

"No, but I'm fine."

"Shut up and get out of those wet pants, now."

Face hadn't brought any changing clothes for himself so he had to go with Murdock's Mickey Mouse ones. He didn't like it but at the moment knew better than to argue. So it was a stupid idea to sit in the water whit his kidneys not fully healed but the girl had beckoned him to sit beside her and he just couldn't say no. She was so happy with them.

Hannibal made to rise "Clare I'm sorry I have to leave to take this nasty boy inside.

"Hannibal!"

"I'll get him Hannibal, I feel tired after swimming, want to rest for a bit."

"Okay then BA is in charge. Cute pants kid. Get a move on."

"My two hours are not up. You said two hours."

"Face, move it, now!"

"That's unfair."

"BA you are in charge, make sure he takes his meds and then lays down for a nice long nap."

"I won't go!"

"Stop sulking and move it." When Face didn't react he added "Oh and BA, make sure he goes to toilet before bed to ease himself. Wouldn't want the bed to get wet again, right kid? " Hannibal ruffled through Face's hair as he spoke.

Face turned wide eyes on him. "Hannibal, how…"

"Come on Faceman, better get a move on before Hannibal get's more creative."

Face got up and without looking back at Hannibal walked away.

"Faceman, has he picked that name? Does he want to be some kind of superhero?"

"No, it's his nickname."

"I see,Cynthia does that sometimes, calls herself wonder woman or such."

"I guess all kids do that."

"May I ask what institution you had your son in, I hope she'll get to a stage like him one day, you know, appearing very normal to everyone who doesn't take a closer look."

"Huh, sorry, I don't know what you are getting at."

"I mean you had him in some kind of care as he grew up, right? To help with his handicap."

"Handicap? Face is not handicapped." Hannibal was truly puzzled.

"Oh, you mean…but…come on, the way you have to remind him to drink and then bedwetting at this age, sure he has no mental issues?" Now she looked puzzled and it didn't help at all that Hannibal broke out into laughter.

"Sure he doesn't look after his own health and I sometimes turn into a mother hen, you know I adopted him and he had quite a lot of health issues, but the bedwetting…" Hannibal had to stop to get control over his laughter…"I was just riling him up. He won't move once he has made his mind to not go but me talking like that in front of a stranger will sure get him to move before I conjure up more things." 'And yeah the kid does have some mental issues but not the way you think and his health problems usually come from a bullet or a beating he took'.

Now it was Clare's turn to laugh. "Wow, you are a good actor, I truly thought he was handicapped. " She got serious again. "You know, last year I had to decide to keep Cynthia at home or give her to an institution where she gets all the professional help she needs. I wanted to keep her around rather than just have her from Friday afternoon to Monday morning but it was really good I did send her there, she has made such great progress. But I miss my little girl a lot during the week."

"I can understand that. It's hard to not have the kids around, even when they are grown. And it's hard to take the right decisions if you don't know what the future holds."

They talked some more until Cynthia got tired and they left for home.

Hannibal sat there watching Murdock having fun in the waves and thought about her words. About how Face could be so confident on the job and at the same time so insecure around his team. How he had jumped when Hannibal had hollered, as if he was afraid of him. And then the constant nightmares during the last time. Had he taken the right decision all those years ago? When he saw the progress Murdock made inn their first years on the run he thought about getting a clinic where Face could safely be treated without the risk of getting locked up by the Army. The kid had a shit load of mental issues, that was a given, even if they were different from what Clare had thought. He had decided to keep Face under his own wing, try to help him through the aftereffects of his childhood and Nam as best as he could but had it been right? Wouldn't a professional institution have been the better place for the kid? Had he acted selfishly because he had wanted Face to stay close? Would his screaming at night have been over a long time ago if he had gotten the right help?

Hannibal was still in his musings when BA came back and sat down beside him.

"How's Face?"

"Fast asleep, fell asleep after laying down for just a few minutes and hasn't stirred in the past two hours. Man he sure is wiped out from those drugs."

"Do you think I was too harsh on him?"

"Did you just hear me? The guy was asleep on his feet the last few steps. I think you are too soft on him, he should be in bed and not wandering around the house or going to the beach."

When the sun started to go down they went back to the house. Hannibal had expected Face to come back but the kid was nowhere to be seen, probably still sulking. Murdock found Face laying on the deck, wrapped up in a blanket. The sun was not shining to where he lay but the air was hot.

"Face, you okay?"

"Sure." He quickly removed the blanket.

"Why are you wrapped up like a little bug, it's hot."

"I…I think I overdid it at the beach, I feel drained and tired and Hannibal threatened to send me back to the hospital. Please, I don't want to go back there, don't tell Hannibal I don't feel so good. Please."

"Face, you know I can't do that."

"Just…it will be okay by tomorrow, please Murdock."

"Sorry buddy, Hannibal needs to know how you are coping; it was quite scary when you just fell out of your seat in the van. Either you tell him or I do."

Hannibal came out to the deck a moment later. "Here you are, I thought you would come down to the beach again. Are you alright?"

"I'm fine…."

"Colonel…"

"Murdock, let me, Hannibal I…I overdid it a bit at the beach…I decided to stay here instead and rest."

"Okay, you overdid it by all means, glad you recognized it, do I need to worry?"

"No, just tired is all, sure it will be okay by tomorrow."

"Any pain?"

"No, just feel drained and not too good."

"Lay back down and put that blanket over your middle to keep your kidneys warm. I'll help BA making supper."

"Okay"

"Now was it so hard to tell Hannibal? He didn't bite your head off, did he?"

"No, but I'm sure I'll not be allowed to the beach next time."

"You are one of a kind Faceman. Rest, I'll see if supper can be spiced up a bit, if you know what I mean."

At dinner Face eat something together with the others but not much. He was way to quiet for Hannibal's liking too. After they were done he exclaimed he was tired and went to bed. Hannibal checked on him thirty minutes later and the kid was indeed asleep. He frowned. 'Should have been more strict with you kid, now what do I do with you? Back to the hospital for a check up or trust you to tell me when it gets worse?' He was still in his musings when Face started to moan and twist his head.

"No, no, don't wanna."

"Shh Face, just a dream, sleep tight. Shh." Hannibal tried to get him out of whatever dream was haunting him. But Face continued to shift around uneasy. Hannibal got more and more worried as the dream seemed not to be the cause of the moaning anymore. Face curled up pressing his hands against his stomach and whimpered but he wasn't awake.

"Face, come on Lieutenant, wake up." More moans and whimpers followed and some two glazed over eyes looked back at Hannibal.

"What's it kid?"

"Hurts so."

"BA, go get the van, we need to take Face back to the hospital."

"No, no, no hospital please, no, ouwww."

"I should never have taken you out of there in the first place, come on, up you go." Hannibal had him under the shoulders to help him up.

"No, ouwww, not that, need….bathroom."

"The bathroom?"

"Yes, fast, help me, hurts so."

BA who had arrived to say the van was ready helped Face over to the bathroom.

"Okay kid, we are outside but the door stays open."

At that moment Face didn't care, he just tried to stay on top of the toilet as his intestines cramped up more and painfully released their content. When there was no sound from the bathroom again they peered inside and found Face curled up on the floor. They brought in blankets to make him comfortable close to the toilet until the continuous attacks were over.

Somewhere in between Murdock vanished from the scene to get to the other bathroom with the words 'must have been something in the food'. Hannibal breathed a sigh of relive, this had nothing to do with Face's kidney trouble then.

"Still want me to take him to the clinic? What's coming out of him now is just water, don't even know where he takes it all from."

"No, no please, no."

"It's okay BA, we just have to make sure he doesn't dehydrate. No worry kid, no hospital."

"Promise?"

"I promise, as long as you don't get worse."

"I won't, I promise."

'Sure kid, as if you had any influence on that. But once you are so vulnerable I may get to the ground of all this.'

"But what's wrong with hospitals? You get help there, the nurses are cute…."

"They have straps to tie you down and lock the door." The reply was just a whisper.

"I never heard of that done in a hospital."

"They did."

"When kid?"

"Father told them not to but they did." Face was beyond answering, lost in some painful memories.

"It's been a long time ago kid, now relax and calm down, okay, we'll help you back to the bed."

"Cynthia lives in a hospital."

"She told you that?"

Face nodded, still not quite with them.

"I'm sure it's a nice place and they treat them well. Her mother is very concerned about her and wouldn't let anything bad happen to the girl."

Face was hanging limply between BA and Hannibal as he was steered back to bed. The attack had sapped the rest of his energy. Hannibal covered him up and Face reached for his hand, his eyes on the colonel. "You wouldn't allow for me to get locked up in a hospital, would you?"

"Never kid, now close your eyes and sleep."

Face did just that and when Hannibal finally went to bed he did the same. He slept well in the knowledge that he had taken the right decision all those years back.