XI.

"Actually how did Face and Hannibal meet, back in Vietnam?" Amy interrupted the silence.

"Hannibal took him on the team," BA simply said.

"Care to elaborate?" Amy looked at BA who was sitting between her and Murdock on the sofa.

"I can probably illustrate," Murdock said.

"Shut up, foo'. You know nothin'," BA barked at him. And in a softer tone he continued, "Hannibal ran into Face in Danang. At that time Face was a troublemaker. He was known for his scams, but not for being a good combatant. Everyone wondered why he was in the army at all."

"Don't forget all the nurses who knew him," Murdock interjected, but BA was not was not letting Murdock distracting him.

"Hannibal gave him orders to organize things. Things that no one thought would be on hand in Vietnam at that time. He always got what Hannibal asked for. Then he took Face on a mission. I told him we didn't need him, 'cuz he wasn't tough like us, like Hannibal, Ray and me. I told him Face would only put us in danger. One time we jumped from a truckand the fool twisted his ankle and lost his Helmet. Ray gave him his own. I told Hannibal he should leave Face in his own unit, which was a supply unit. But one night, Hannibal told me that Face needed a strong commander, if not he would end up either in jail, or dead. He told me Face has talent, but needs someone to discover it? Think Hannibal was right. At that time I didn't understand Hannibal, but I knew he was serious about the kid, so I swore that I'd protect him. Over time, Faceman improved? He learned to trust and to be responsible. He learned to work as a team. By time Ray Benner left our unit, Face had become a very capable soldier, and a full member of our unit."

"And this was pretty much necessary, 'cause when the Colonel was on the jazz, and BA followed, those hellhounds needed a reliable backup," Murdock added. BA's lips curled up like a cobra, and he gave Murdock a growl.

"I always saw Face as a womanizer, and think about Leslie," Amy said.

"He still is," BA answered, but Amy looked at him sceptical.

Murdock swallowed and pursed his lips. "Doctor Richter would call this emotionalised hero worship."

"Aw, don't start you loony bin rap." BA waved his ringed fist and let out a groan.

"I think Murdock is making a good point," Amy said looking at Murdock.

"It is true what BA said about Face. If Hannibal hadn't taken him on the team, he most likely would be dead or in jail by now? He would have destroyed himself. He probably had this self-destructing lifestyle because he still missed Leslie at that time, and saw no sense in life without her. I think Hannibal was guiding him," Murdock continued.

BA pursed his lips. "That doesn't explain anything. I also owe Hannibal a lot, but…" BA stopped, looking embarrassed with his lack of ability to speak out what was on his mind.

"It probably doesn't explain everything, but it gives us a hint. I mean Face is a guy who loves the love, and the love loves him," Amy interjected. BA glared at her, and Murdock nodded. "Only this time, the love doesn't love him back."

XII.

"What happened to you? Where was the sympathetic comrade and friend, when I needed him most?" Face's words didn't sound like an accusation he sounded crestfallen and sad.

The way Hannibal was chewing his cigar, told Face that he was seriously thinking. Face knew this wasn't normal. Usually Hannibal seemed to have a plan even before someone asked him, even before others saw the problem.

"Face, what is wrong with you? I'm your commanding officer, your friend, not some damn bimbo, whom you tell you love her to get what you want."

"What!" Face voice blurred to a croak.

Hannibal bent forward slightly. He laid his head to one side and stared intensely at Face. "I really like you a lot Templeton Peck, but not this way. And even if I did, it wouldn't change anything."

Now Face was completely confused. He stretched out his hand only to drop it quickly. "Eh, uhm," Face stumbled. "What the hell are you talking about Hannibal?"

"Do you think I'm stupid? Do you think I don't know what's going on?"

"Uhm, actually, I don't even know what's going on right now."

"Sure, you do. You told me you're in love with me, because you thought I have strong feelings for you too. You wanted to please me. You know you've made some mistakes recently, mistakes that could have cost us our lives, or at least mistakes that got us in a lot of trouble. You think I'm upset with you. I am. Only, I have no clue why you decided you'd mess around with my feelings. But, it won't work. You should know me good enough to know this. And I thought I knew you. I thought you had respect for yourself, and for others, but you don't. Apparently you haven't changed very much since Danang. That's disgusting." The words came out hard, and Face moved his mouth, but couldn't bring out a word. His eyes were wide open and started swimming again.

"That's not true Hannibal, I…"

"Oh c'mon, please," Hannibal interrupted him. "Better stop, before you make things even worse."

"Worse!" Face looked calm under the given circumstances. The confusion helped him over the painful disappointment at least for now. "I made things worse? I didn't try to break the nose of my best friend. "But, my nose isn't what really got bruised here, is it?" Face shouted the last words, because Hannibal had just turned on his heels and left.

XIII.

BA, Murdock and Amy sat on the couch and stared at Hannibal as he entered the room. The three kept silent.

"What the hell has gotten into kid?" Hannibal said.

"What the hell has gotten into you, man," BA replied.

Hannibal exhaled audibly. He was breathing heavy as if he had run all the way to the house. "I've talked to the kid? It makes me sick," he said.

"It makes you sick?" Amy echoed rather loudly. "I thought of you as an open-minded, educated man. And now you're telling us that it makes you sick that one of your teammates loves a man, loves you? It makes you sick, that you're loved? And I thought there might be a difference between aloof and heartless."

Hannibal gave an icy glare. "This is not what I meant."

"What then?" BA demanded.

"Face thought he can get me by my feelings, after doing several lousy jobs." Hannibal said. "This makes me sick. I thought he had learned a great deal since Nam."

"What do you mean, Hannibal?" Amy asked.

"In Vietnam, when I meet Face, I saw another young man in him. This other young man needed guidance to find the right path. The path of trust and honor, the path of compassion and humanity. The young man I saw in him learned that lesson in Korea. It was me. I was a young troublemaker of about 19, just like him, wasting my talents, living a quiet self-destructive life that could have killed me in my early years. And then there was Karen, a Doctor. She not only took a bullet out of my body, but also taught me some lessons about the right and the wrong ways in life. If it weren't for her I would've been a real asshole by now. She constantly reminded me to keep my humanity, even in war. She taught me that war is a matter of tactics, not of killing. When I was on the battlefield, I knew there would be someone who felt really miserable if I were to come in on the truck of dead bodies, that she would not only mourn me, but every death that I caused.

Then I met Face in Vietnam. I knew him so well it was like looking at my younger self. I swore I would guide him, not let the madness of war destroy his young, unstable soul. I swore I would be there for him to do whatever would be necessary, to give back to him what I received from Karen." Suddenly Hannibal stopped talking and took out a cigar. He ripped the cellophane away and threw it to the floor. He lit the cigar, but not as calm and cheerfully as he normally did. "I was probably less successful than I thought I was. It hurts. Face might not realize it now, but this way he'll never find contentment."

"Colonel?" Murdock began. "Is it really so absurd for you that he might really be in love with you?"

"Yes it is Murdock." Hannibal's voice sounded confident, but his eyes danced around Murdock in confusion.

"Has it never occurred to you that Face is just a boy that needs love so desperately? The love he never had in his childhood? The love even Leslie couldn't give him?" Murdock looked at his Colonel.

"All those women were probably just the desperate attempt to find love," Amy added.

"They're right, Hannibal. You should know that. Just cook chicken soup for Face, take care of him, and he will love you," BA said.

Murdock nodded. "And you, mon Colonel, are the one who cares for Face, who always has. He tries hard to be the scammer, the lady's man, but some part of him is still an orphan, waiting everyday for Mommy, and daddy to come back."

"You really should talk to him without arguing," Amy suggested.