Title: Close Enough
Summary: There are fathers. There are sons. And there are men that are not quite either.
Author's Notes: Set about a week after the fifth-season episode Family Reunion, the main events of which takes place on Thanksgiving Day. Spoilers for that episode. I own nothing – I have made a life's work of Textual Poaching.
"Face." Hannibal pokes his head out of the kitchen.
"Huh?" Face looks up from the dining room table, where he has been staring into space for an hour. Hannibal has been surreptitiously checking on him for most of that time, in between preparations for their belated Thanksgiving meal.
"Give me a hand in here?"
Face hesitates, then smiles faintly. "Sure, Colonel."
Hannibal eyes the kid with concern as he ducks into the kitchen. It's been a long, rough week. Discovering that AJ Bancroft was his father – after the man's death – has left Face more shaken than Hannibal has seen him since they escaped from Chao's prison camp, long ago.
"What d'ya need, Colonel?"
Hannibal glances around quickly. Help with the dinner was little more than an excuse; he finally gestures to the mound of vegetables by the sink. "Peel sweet potatoes?" He suggests.
Face groans good-naturedly. "I didn't do enough of this in the Army?" He rolls his eyes and pulls a kitchen stool over to the sink, reaching for the vegetable peeler.
"S' good for ya." Hannibal grins, "Builds character."
They lapse into a working silence as Hannibal minces garlic – all work that has to be redone, thanks to Stockwell and his meddling. Hannibal scowls at the thought of the reckoning that Hunt Stockwell has coming from him, someday.
"Who taught you all this, Colonel?" Face's voice breaks the quiet, though he doesn't look up. The way he focuses so completely on what he has to do, until whatever-it–is is finished – that's not something he got from Bancroft.
Hannibal would like to think Face got it from him.
"C'mon, Hannibal, you didn't learn to cook like this in the Army. Not the Army I was in, anyhow." Face spares him a brief grin.
"Oh." Hannibal smiles. "My mother."
"She was a good cook, huh?" There's something deceptively casual about the question, an eagerness lurking just behind the words.
"Like you wouldn't believe." Hannibal says wistfully.
Face nods. "What about your father?"
That gives Hannibal pause. "Worked in the mine." He says finally. "He didn't cook much. Too busy with the union."
Face chuckles faintly, abruptly. "I bet you're like him."
Hannibal glances up, studying the younger man as he replies. "I hope so."
Face nods, bends back over the peeler without speaking.
There is another long silence before Hannibal sets his knife aside with a clatter. "Face . . ." He sighs. "I'm sorry."
Sorry I don't know what to say.
Sorry AJ Bancroft was a scumbag. Sorry he was your father and I'm not.
Sorry AJ Bancroft was a scumbag.
Sorry he was your father and I'm not.
Face's hands pause in their motion, his wide blue eyes meet Hannibal's. There is a moment of profound communication between them, forged from many years of fighting and nearly dying together. Then he smiles – not the con-man smile, but the gentler, genuine one. "I know, Colonel." He bends back over his work.
After a moment, Hannibal does too, and the quiet comes back.
It's not exactly a father-and-son quiet.
But it's close enough.