The characters are not mine. I am not writing this for profit, only for entertainment.
This story takes up where my previous story "Making it Official" left off. Please send me your reviews.
Scars and Nightmares
Face was asleep. BA, Murdock and Hannibal sat and talked a little more, so many questions to be answered. Hannibal and Face had just announced that Hannibal was "adopting" Face. They had always been close. Even in Nam it seemed like Face was more of a son to Hannibal than a second in command. He had never treated any of his men differently. He had never shown Face favoritism. If anything he had always been harder on Face. He expected more of him.
"Hannibal, man you better be good to Faceman. The fool is right; Face came to all of us with a lot of troubles. You fightin' an uphill battle. You better be ready for it."
"I know. But really guys, nothing is going to change. Face and I have talked a lot and he doesn't want things to be any different. I have always thought of him as my son. He has been hurt, we've seen it. He doesn't want to make a deal of it. We need to keep doing what we have always done." After both men nodded their agreement, so Hannibal continued, "I'm going for a little walk. Face is sleeping so keep it down. He still needs time to recover. He's hurting; between the migraines and the ribs he had to take a pain pill. He should be out for a couple of hours. I'll be back long before he wakes."
"Sure Colonial. We'll keep an eye on him for you." Murdock had always considered Face his best friend on the team. Face understood Billy and Murdock's other quirks. They had always been able to talk and have fun. He was happy for his friend. He knew that all Face had ever wanted was a family.
Hannibal stepped onto the front porch. He looked out over the lake as he lit his cigar. He felt at peace. He had the son he always wanted and in a way had always had. He thought about the past few days and about the conversation he just had with BA and Murdock. Murdock was right. Face had come to Nam with scars and nightmares.
Face was different than other soldiers. He had had so many heartaches and pain that Nam at first had done little to change him. It wasn't until the camps that Face seemed affected by what was happening all around him. He had been plagued with nightmares for years. After Nam and the camps no one expected anything less. At the time they assumed the nightmares would only get worse. But when Hannibal thought back, Face hadn't had any more nightmares after the camp than he did before.
He stood looking over the lake. He wanted to help his son. He wanted Face to be happy and to find peace.
BA and Murdock had managed to keep themselves occupied and quiet. This was quite a feat as far as Hannibal was concerned. Lunch was ready but Face hadn't emerged from his room. Hannibal knew the kid had lost some weight. As much as it was important for him to sleep, he needed to eat. Face was always on the low end of his expected weight. Losing 5 lbs looked dramatic on his slim build. Beyond that Face had a need to keep his blood sugar up. Not eating regularly could cause Face to become sick as well.
Hannibal walked to the bedroom and knocked lightly to see if Face was awake. He received no response. Slowly he entered the room and made his way over to the bed. Face was resting peacefully. Hannibal reached over and grabbed both of Face's wrists. As soon as he touched him, Face tensed up.
"Easy there. Face it's me. Come on now son, I need you to wake up. Face, relax and open your eyes for me." The same mantra for years, too many years. Face had scars that ran deep. Even these he had yet to explain to Hannibal. And although Hannibal could guess, he would never directly ask Face. That would have to come in time, Face's time. Until then he would try to stop the nightmares and be there for his son.
As soon as he heard Hannibal's voice he began to relax. He opened his eyes and looked up into Hannibal's face. He grinned as he responded, "I'm awake dad. What time is it?" He ran a hand over his face and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"It's time to eat. You've been asleep for about 2 hours. How are you feeling?"
"Better, I feel much better. Head doesn't really hurt and my ribs are just a dull ache. I'm not really hungry though."
"I know you don't want to eat but you need to. You've lost some weight, weight you can't afford to lose. All I ask is that you do your best and eat something. Do you think you can do that for me son?"
"I'll try but I won't make any promises. It's just that…those… those pain pills make me nauseous." Face studied the blanket that covered him. He didn't want to look at Hannibal and see disappointment. Had he looked he wouldn't have found it. Instead he would have found love and understanding.
"Face…Face look at me son." Hannibal waited for Face to look up. What he saw were all the insecurities of a childhood filled with pain and rejection. "Son, I know how they affect you. I just want you to try. Maybe a little something will help your stomach settle down a bit. I… I just want you to start feeling better and to get your strength back."
Face smiled, "'kay. Just give me a minute to get cleaned up and I'll be right out."
5 minutes later he entered the breakfast room. "Hi guys. Sorry it took so long."
"No problem Face. I made some soup and sandwiches. Hope you're hungry."
"Thanks Murdock." He looked at the table but didn't make eye contact with any of the guys. He poured himself a glass of water and made a small bowl of soup. Slowly he began to eat but was only able to finish half the bowl.
When he finished his lunch Face got up from the table and went for a walk. He needed time. The past few days had been both physically and emotionally draining for him. He still had not confessed everything about his past. He didn't want to think about it much less relive it. He just wanted to start over with his new family and forget all that had come before.
He walked down to the lake and sat on the shore. The peace he had always found looking out at the ocean he now found looking at the lake. A strong wind was blowing off the water and causing the waves to crash against the shoreline. He listened to the birds and the rustling of the leaves. He relaxed as he leaned back against a boulder. As he relaxed his mind began to wander.
He looked up at the stairs before him. They were made of cement and lead to a large building with big wooden doors. She had said she would be right back. She had said he would be safe here. She had said a lot of things, like she loved him.
He looked up with tears in his eyes as she walked away. He ran after her but she told him to go back. He didn't understand. She loved him, right? She kissed him and said goodbye. Then she yelled at him to go back to the church where she had left him.
He cried all the way back. He sat on the first step not knowing what to do. He continued to cry until a man approached. He was dressed in black and had a white collar. He seemed nice enough and acted like he cared.
The priest brought him into the church and gave him something to eat. He had quit crying but soon fell asleep. When he awoke there were other people around. The priest introduced him to the new man. This man asked a lot of questions but he wasn't able to answer them.
"What's your name?"
"Richie." The little boy responded.
"What's your last name?" The boy didn't respond.
"Where are your parents?" Again the boy didn't respond.
"How old are you?" The boy held up three fingers.
The man turned to the priest as he continued to speak. "Well, father it appears he is either lost or has been abandoned. I will have to check to see if anyone has reported a missing child. We will put him in foster care until we find out. After that I just don't know."
"If you find he has no one bring him back here we can put him in the orphanage and try to get him adopted out."
Hannibal went in search of his son after he finished his lunch. He was worried about Face. Face was still recovering from his fall and still trying to break the cycle of migraines he was having. The path to the lakefront was well worn. Hannibal followed the path until he caught site of Face. He stood back watching Face as he sat looking out at the lake.
At first Hannibal didn't realize Face was sleeping. He watched from a distance and marveled at the peaceful expression of his son's face. Face truly showed his age when he slept. He continued to watch until he saw the unrest creeping in to his son's sleep. It was subtle at first, his head shook back and forth in slow steady movements then the pained expression reached his face. By the time Hannibal reached his son, Face was crying. He grabbed at Face's wrist and then proceeded to try to wake him.
Face awoke looking into Hannibal's eyes. He started to cry again. He reached out and Hannibal took him into his arms. They remained like this without speaking for several long minutes. When Face finally relaxed he didn't want to talk, he just wanted to sleep.
"Son, let's head back to the cabin. We can talk later. Let's get you to bed." Face smiled slightly and nodded his agreement. Slowly and with help he got to his feet.
Face was asleep again. He didn't want to deal with his past but it was determined to come back to haunt him. Damn AJ Bancroft. He blamed Bancroft for dredging it all back up again. It had been years since he had dreamed of the day his mother had abandoned him on the church steps.
As he slept more nightmares of the past invaded his sleep. He needed the rest. He didn't want to get sick again. The stress of the past few days had not eased. He could tell the migraines were not going to go away fully until he relaxed.
He slept fitfully for another hour. When he awoke Hannibal was sitting next to his bed. He ran his hand over his face and rubbed at his eyes. He wanted…no he needed to talk to Hannibal and tell him more about his past. Maybe then the nightmares would stop. Maybe then he could start to heal.
Hannibal sat without saying a word. He knew Face had to do what ever he needed to do in his own time. Something was going on with him, but Hannibal wasn't sure what. He just wanted his son to feel better.
"Hannibal. Dad. I need to talk to you." He took a deep breathe before he continued. "I think all of this talk about family is…I'm having nightmares again. I…when I was a kid I use to wake up screaming because of the nightmares. I was thrown out of the foster homes because my 'parents' needed the sleep. As I got older my nightmares changed. But this one…the one I had on the beach. It's not a nightmare…it's a memory."
"I'm here for you. Just take your time. I'm not going anywhere."
"I don't have any memory of my father. I don't know anything about who he was or what happened to him. But… I… the only memory I have of being a little kid is from when I was three. I… I'm not really sure who it was but I think it was my mother. I remember her walking away. I remember being scared. I chased after her but she yelled at me, told me she loved me. She said she would be back. She made me go back to the church. Then she was gone…I…never saw her again."
"Face, how old were you?"
"The priest asked me that when he found me on the steps." He gave a small chuckle but it was one or irony not of joy. "You know you always here in the movies about people leaving their kids on the door step or at churches. I was left on the door step of a church." He paused before he answered Hannibal's question. "I was 3 years old or at least that's what I told the priest."
"My God. I wish I could go back and be there for you. I wish I could take all that pain away from you."
"Thanks Hannibal. I have never spoken to anyone about this. It was the reason I was kicked out of the foster homes and a big part of the reason I was never adopted. I was considered damaged. The nightmares would strike during nap time and wake the other kids. I would keep the foster families up and after a while they would give up on me. They…Some…would decide that I needed something to cry about, so they would give me something to cry about. When that didn't work they would give up on me. Some thought if I was so exhausted I wouldn't have the energy to cry out or to dream. But between the dreams I had before and then the dreams of what was done to me it only got worse. Eventually the Sisters decided I was inadaptable. I was no longer brought out and paraded in front of the perspective parents. I wasn't good enough for them to even look at and turn down. I was either left in the dorm room or sent to the yard. A few times people would see me in the yard. I know a couple of them asked about me but…I overheard the Sister tell the one set of parents that I was no good. She told them I was dumped on the steps and had been given back to the orphanage numerous times because I was a problem child that was too damaged to be with a good family. I never tried to make myself be seen again. I figured the Sister…well, she was a church…she…I don't know I guess I just figured a nun wouldn't tell a lie so I must be damaged."
"Son, you are far from damaged. Let me help you to see you as I see you. A fighter who has overcome tremendous odds. A kind and gentle man with a heart of gold. An intelligent business man, a financial wizard and enough commonsense to keep this old man out of trouble on more than one occasion. No matter what was said about you as a child, the man you are today makes me believe that they were all very short sighted and ignorant. How could anyone look at you and think of anything other than what I see in you."
In a small, quiet voice Face responded. "But I am damaged. Maybe I wasn't when I first got there. But I have had to do and have had things done to me…I'm damaged probably beyond repair. I don't know how you can say those things about me. I'm a liar, a cheat…"
Hannibal wouldn't let Face continue to berate himself. "Lieutenant, You hear me and you hear me well. I WILL NOT STAND FOR ANYONE TO SPEAK ABOUT MY SON IN THAT MANNER! Is that understood?"
Face had startled when Hannibal raised his voice. He knew it was too good to be true. It had only been a matter of time before Hannibal became like the others. He braced himself to be hit. But it never happened. Slowly…very slowly the words filtered into his brain. Then recognition of what Hannibal was saying came to him. Finally his heart opened up and realized for the first time he was loved for who he really was not for what he tried to portray himself to be. Hannibal knew of the scars, he knew more than anyone on Earth what Face had seen, done and what had been done to him. And yet here before him, Hannibal stood ready to defend him against himself.
"I'm waiting for an answer. Do you understand me?"
Face realized he had been thinking and hadn't really answered Hannibal. By now BA and Murdock were at the door way. They had heard the yelling and were ready to help how ever they were needed. Each were carrying a weapon. Face looked up to answer Hannibal but saw over his should BA and Murdock in the doorway with guns drawn. He couldn't help it. He tried but he couldn't hold it back. He started laughing.
Hannibal didn't see what was happening behind him. All he knew was that Face still had not answered him but was laughing. He didn't find the situation funny at all. He became angry and yelled again. "LIEUTENANT I WANT AN ANSWER NOW! STOP YOUR LAUGHING OR YOU WILL BE PUNISHED!"
Face turned with a look of fear in his eyes to Hannibal. He hadn't been able to stop himself. When Hannibal raised his voice again and threatened him with punishment it became too much. He shut down. With a lowered head he finally answered. "Yes sir I understand." He couldn't face Hannibal. He figured he had been wrong a moment before or maybe this is how a family treated each other.
Hannibal saw the flash of fear. He immediately regretted yelling. The idea of hurting Face was completely foreign to him. His idea of punishment was going to be to do the circuit or cook for a week. He thought maybe Face was laughing at him for ordering him not to speak about himself in such a manner. "Do you mind telling me what you find so funny about all of this?"
Face still couldn't look at him. He simply pointed to the doorway. Hannibal turned to see BA and Murdock. He too couldn't help but laugh. "God, Face I'm so sorry. I thought you were laughing at me. Come here."
Face slowly walked forward. He didn't know what was going to happen. No one had ever apologized to him for yelling at him. Hannibal reached out and held him in a tight hug. "Face, you are my son. I love you with all my heart. They were wrong. You are a special person who deserves to be loved and protected. I couldn't do it before but I promise you this I will be there in the future. I will not hurt you. You may end up on KP or running but I will never strike you. No child of mine will ever be spoken to or about in such a way as you were speaking. Not even by you. You and I still have a lot of work ahead of us. But we will work it out together."
Face smiled. He could feel the love. He didn't fear the past like he once had and now he looked forward to the future.
BA and Murdock left without speaking a word. They didn't know what was going on and knew they would be told if they needed to know. For now they left to give Hannibal and Face a little space.
"I never had a family that cared about me. I guess this is going to take some getting use to."
"That's ok. Like I said, we'll do it together."
"Sounds like a plan. Do you mind if I lie down for a while? All of this…this stuff is making me tired. I would like to nap for an hour or two. I haven't been sleeping well. I could really stand some more sleep."
"Sure, I'll go out and give you some space. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams…"
Face awoke the next evening. He had slept for 20 hours straight. It was a long, peaceful, undisturbed sleep. He opened his eyes and saw it was still dark. He stretched and headed to the bathroom. He didn't hear anyone but could hear the TV playing in the other room. He was hungry. He couldn't understand why he was so hungry. He felt a little dizzy but didn't understand why.
He finished in the bathroom and made his way out into the family room. Hannibal and BA were watching a movie on TV. Murdock was no where to be found. Hannibal looked up and saw Face in the hallway. "How are you feeling?"
"Okay, I guess. Han…Hannibal. I…I'm a little dizzy." He leaned against the wall to keep himself up.
Hannibal was off the couch and by his side before he could fall. "Easy son. You need to sit down and get something to eat. You've been asleep sine last night. You're going to be alright. I just couldn't get you to wake up long enough to eat or drink."
Hannibal lead Face to the kitchen table. BA went to the kitchen and got a glass of orange juice and started to heat some food. Murdock who had just appeared grabbed the medical bag.
"Let's check you out real quick while BA gets you something to eat." Face quietly submitted. His blood pressure was good but his blood sugar was extremely low. Hannibal was surprised the kid was able to walk. "BA put some sugar in that juice. Face your sugar is low. We need to get it up and get you to eat something. Okay?"
"Yeah…I'm hungry. I can't believe I slept that long. Hannibal…"
"We'll talk more after you eat. It's going to be okay." Hannibal was berating himself. He knew better. He knew he should have woken Face to eat or at the very lease to drink some juice.
"Don't…" Face was looking at Hannibal. He didn't say anything else. Hannibal knew what he meant. He looked down and then looked up with a grin on his face. He couldn't hide anything from the kid.
After eating Face felt better. He moved to the family room and waited for the others to join him. Hannibal sat next to him on the couch keeping a close eye on him.
"I don't think I have ever had a more peaceful night's sleep much less such a long uninterrupted sleep that wasn't drug induced. Hannibal…Dad…" He stopped and smiled. He felt great. He felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. "I want to thank you. It's the first time in as long as I can remember I didn't have nightmares. I think I am finally starting to heal. Thank you for everything."