By Darth Stitch
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to 2 TV gods by name of Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell and is now a movie directed by Joe Carnahan. Will put the toys back when I'm done.
DISCLAIMER TO SAVE MY SOUL FROM GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET: Too late. But this is going to be a fun ride! :P
WARNING: Slash. Some bad language. If the notion of two men being sweet on each other is not your cuppa tea, now's the time to clicky-click on that back button and run for your life.
When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?
- Paul McCartney & John Lennon, "The Beatles"
Honestly, falling in love with his commanding officer was the absolute last thing on Templeton "Faceman" Peck's mind.
While Face had always known that his door had a bi-directional hinge, it normally leaned towards those delightful creatures of the very feminine persuasion. He'd been perfectly happy to be that way, damn it, even if there was that time when he'd thought he had a good thing going with Charissa Sosa and then she promptly took his heart and stomped on it with those sexy high heels of hers. Maybe if she hadn't left like that, maybe he would have had a chance to forget…
He really hated tragedies, romantic ones most of all. Face figured life was too short and he'd already gone through too many things he'd really rather not think about anymore. Dwelling on the past and doing the whole therapy thing wasn't his kind of gig – he'd only have to look at Murdock for that. He knew his buddy hated the whole head-shrinking deal – Murdock was happiest in the air, marching to the beat of his own drum.
Sometimes, Face envied his loopy buddy. Murdock had a purpose in mind, even if it was one only known to himself and he was perfectly contented with that. Maybe his friend had the right idea there. In fact, Face initially joined the Army because his own life was pretty much running from yet one mess into another and so far, all he'd been doing to deal with things was wing it.
And then he met Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith and learned an all new definition of "winging it."
He thought he figured the older man out at first – yet another one of those wise mentor-types, taking the brash young idiot under his wing, making a man out of him – to help him, so to speak. Yeah, right – he'd been there and done that and he'd delighted in disappointing those types. The way Face figured it, it was better he made it clear to them what they were going to be in for – he didn't want them to waste their time any more than he wanted to waste his.
Hannibal surprised the hell out of him.
Hannibal seemed to take everything Face did in stride, with that infuriating twinkle in those steel-blue eyes and even gave him an idea or two. Or three, the Colonel being what he was, with that fine-tuned mind that never seemed to think in any conventional pattern. Face had gotten hold of the man's service records (one just had to know how to talk to the right people) and any sane person wouldn't have credited all of the stunts Hannibal had pulled over the years. But Face had seen his C.O. in action and even though he'd thought he had pulled off some crazy-ass scams, Hannibal had him beat hands down.
And they always got off scott-free, each and every time. Even when plans went south, as they often did – somehow Hannibal got them out of there and safely home. Face had lost count of the number of times Hannibal would place his life on the line for any of the men who had ever served under his command, even him.
Finally, Hannibal did what Face personally thought was the craziest stunt he'd ever pulled off in his entire military career.
He went and promoted Face as his second-in-command.
Face would never forget that conversation.
"With all due respect, Colonel, are you out of your mind?" Face had told him, in the privacy of Hannibal's rarely-used office.
Those remarkable eyes regarded him steadily and with more than just a hint of mischief. "No more than I usually am, Lieutenant." The stress on the title was deliberate, meant to provoke him. "You really should try it sometimes – it's very liberating."
"No, thanks – somebody has to be the voice of sweet, sane reason around here," Face retorted.
"See? You're being a good second-in-command already. Knew I was right on the money with you, kid."
Kid. Hannibal had always called him that from the very beginning – not that the age gap between them was that huge. Hannibal had been one of the youngest men in the service to make Colonel, as a matter of fact. Face had a brief burst of semi-hysterical laughter. "Okay, Colonel – enough with the jokes. I'm trying to be serious here."
"So am I," Hannibal returned evenly.
Jesus. There was no mistaking that look on Hannibal's face this time. And that prompted Face to ask the most obvious question.
"Why?" Why him, when even the top brass had written him off for the numerous scams, pranks and escapades he'd pulled off in the Army. Sure, he'd done a lot of these things now to help out his buddies – somebody had to make sure they were getting the stuff they needed to fight out in the field and then some extra.
"Because I know you can do it," Hannibal answered him. "And there's no other man I'd want to have at my six."
Face couldn't say no after that. Because in that moment, he had just realized that there was no way in hell he could bear to disappoint John "Hannibal" Smith. Not this particular man.
And then God or Fate or Whoever it was that decided things like these decided to take up Their cosmic baseball bat and smack Face upside the head with this whole insane falling in love business. It just wasn't fair to do that to a man, it really wasn't.
It wasn't just that it was against the Rules – Lord only knew that Face had done his fair share of stomping on whatever Handbook of Life people tended to throw at him. Face knew the truth – it had done its share of sneaking up on him on those dark, cold nights when there were no distractions or barriers between him and his own personal demons.
The simple hard truth was that while Face was dead certain that his Colonel, commanding officer and friend cared about him deeply – it would never be in the same way that Face felt about him. And Face knew he didn't have the right to ask for anything more than that.
He didn't deserve it.
Unrequited love always hurt like a son of a bitch.
Face had quietly sworn to himself that he would keep this proof of his own questionable sanity dead quiet, buried deep in the back of his head, never to brought out in the light of day. It was enough that he'd been lucky enough to serve with the bravest, most brilliant commander in the entire U.S. Armed Forces. It was enough to be told that Hannibal would always want him watching his back and no other. It was enough to know that he had this man for a friend and a brother-in-arms.
He'd kept this secret successfully for so long, even as Hannibal ended up heading the A-Team with B.A. and Murdock and once again cheerfully dragging Face into that mess. Okay, so maybe Face getting a little too friendly with that corrupt Mexican general's wife was part of the reason why he and Hannibal met B.A. and Murdock in the first place. But still! Be part of a crack commando unit? End up being known as that particular Special Forces group who specialized in the ridiculous and the insane? Yeah, as long as Hannibal was leading the way, why the hell not?
And then, Murdock had to go and figure him out.
Maybe Face shouldn't have been so surprised that it was Murdock who sussed the truth out of him. Or maybe because Face probably let his guard down more than he normally did. He'd seen Hannibal in more than his fair share of near-death experiences but the Colonel had usually gotten out of it without a single scratch or at least nothing along the lines of the life-threateningly serious.
That day – Face just knew he would be having nightmares about it for years to come. He didn't know how Hannibal knew there was a sniper out there. He'd just yelled at Face to get down, in that unmistakable voice of command that no one in his right mind would dare disobey and then he felt Hannibal's weight pinning him down on the ground. Dazed, when he'd finally looked at his C.O., he saw that they were both covered in blood. And after that, instincts and training that Face had been given but had never expected to use kicked in and he was the one giving out the orders to get them back home, to save Hannibal's life.
It scared the shit out of him. And he knew he could do that again in a heartbeat if it meant the lives of his team.
Because Hannibal had chosen him as his second in command and Face wasn't about to let his Colonel down.
So maybe he had been careless that day. He'd been worried sick, praying that Hannibal would make it. He'd seen just too many people who hadn't – their life wasn't just about the fun and games. Perfectly understandable that maybe his emotions were laid out right in the open and thank God he only had an audience of one at the time.
You don't just love him like we all love him. You're in love with him, aren't you?
Sometimes, though he would never tell his buddy this, there were moments where he was prepared to swear up and down that Murdock was downright psychic.
He knew he could trust the other man to keep his secret. The thought of a matchmaking Murdock was just too terrifying to contemplate.
When B.A. had come in to tell them that Hannibal was going to make it – it was as if Face could breathe again. Of course, they had to deal with a couple of weeks of trying to deal with a certain cranky convalescing Colonel after his release from the hospital but was not yet cleared for active duty. That was a hell of a lot easier to deal with than thinking about the man nearly bleeding to death in his arms.
"Buck up, muchacho," Murdock had told him one day as he was busy grilling up some steaks. B.A. was out of earshot for the moment, having gotten some tools for his bike. "The course of true love never did run that smoothly. It's got a lot of turbulence. Or something like that, I think."
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Murdock hadn't brought up the subject of their little top-secret conversation in Hannibal's tent until now. "Murdock…" Face growled threateningly, sitting up from his relatively comfy easy chair.
The manic pilot grinned. "Now, Facey, don't you look much better? 'Course I'd rather see you mad than sad but happy's the best, muchacho."
"You're not going to let me live this down, are you?"
"Live what down?" B.A. suddenly put in, having caught the tail end of that conversation as he returned.
"All I'm sayin' is," Murdock continued, without missing a beat, "is that if Facey runs around lookin' like he's done lost his own true love, Colonel's gonna worry about him. And y'all know that ain't good for a man recoverin' from a bullet wound."
B.A. looked at Face consideringly. "Fool's right, LT. You don't look so good."
Oh hell. Was he that obvious? "The Boss is getting better by the day," Face said, hastily trying to shift the subject a little bit.
"Seriously, B.A., I think it's gotta have something to do with being the X.O," Murdock said conspiratorially.
To Face's complete horror, B.A. looked like he was prepared to play along. Worse yet, it looked like he was actually tuned in to Channel H.M. Murdock this time around. "Yeah," the burly corporal drawled. "Gotta be something they put in the water in X.O. school or somethin.'"
"Bosco, you've been corrupted," Face gasped.
The two idiots ignored him. "All X.O's are required to do the Mother Hen bit, worrying about the whole team, especially their C.O's. And if their C.O. happens to be Hannibal Smith…" Murdock said, pausing dramatically.
B.A. raised his eyes heavenwards. "May God have mercy on their souls."
Face flipped both of them off.
"Now, now, boys, didn't your mamas tell you to play nice with each other?" drawled a very familiar, slightly gravelly voice, with just a faint hint of a brogue.
"Jesus, Hannibal, what are you doing out of bed?" The minute the words were out, Face wished he could take them back. It had to be written all over him that even B.A. could figure it out.
"I rest my case," Murdock said triumphantly.
Hannibal took out one of the currently-forbidden cigars (and how he managed to get a hold of that, Face hadn't a clue because he thought he managed to hide them all and he was supposed to be the one with the knack for finding whatever the Team needed…). To his credit, he didn't light it up just yet. "I'm not in the hospital anymore, Face. Walking around for a bit isn't going to kill me."
Face leaned back on his chair, already trying to figure out how he could temporarily nick those cigars from Hannibal. At least until he was completely cleared by the docs. "Hey, just looking out for my C.O., that's all…"
"You'll make someone a beautiful little mother someday, Templeton," Hannibal teased, lips quirking in that familiar grin.
Oh damn. Face willed himself not to blush. Also willed himself not to flip his commander off because KP duty was not high on his list of favorite things to do, no matter how that wee little devil in the back of his head chanted it was going to be worth it…
"Awww….isn't that sweet?" Murdock cooed. "C'mon, Bosco, I think we'd better give 'em some 'alone' time."
Oh no he wouldn't…. he wouldn't fucking dare! Face struggled out of his chair to tell Murdock off but Hannibal had already pulled up a seat beside him. And B.A. and Murdock had already wandered off, leaving them alone as promised.
Oh. Shit. Face was SO going to get that crazy pilot for this later.
"Hey," Hannibal said, pinning him with those intense steel-blue eyes. "You okay, kid?"
"I'll live, Boss," Face answered him as truthfully as he dared. Because you're alive and you didn't waste your life saving my sorry ass. It's not worth losing you, Hannibal. It really isn't.
Face had a sinking feeling that Hannibal was seeing right through him this time and honest to God, he was far more terrified of that than anything else he'd ever gone through in his life. He couldn't live with it if Hannibal had figured it out and Face had finally managed to disappoint the one person he swore he would never fail…
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," Hannibal quoted the familiar old Bible verse softly. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat, Templeton."
They'd gotten used to the familiar nicknames so much that Face had almost forgotten that Hannibal had rarely called him by his real name. And to his horror, part of the truth came tumbling out. "I'm not worth it, Hannibal –" Shit, were his eyes prickling with real tears? He blinked them back, angrily, looking away. Hell, no – he wasn't going to cry like a little girl in front of Hannibal, of all people.
"You are worth it," Hannibal insisted fiercely, clapping a hand on Face's shoulder and getting him to look him in the eye again. "All of you are worth it. Believe that, Lieutenant, you hear me? That's an order!"
Face let out a shaky breath. "Yeah." At the expectant look on his Colonel's face, he abruptly remembered the familiar protocols, came to attention as much as he could, sitting on that chair and snapped off a salute. "Yes, sir!"
"And I better not hear something like that out of you again, you hear me, Lieutenant?"
Satisfied, Hannibal shook his head, smiling. The smile faded when he found that his cigar had suddenly been plucked from his mouth and had somehow ended up in his lieutenant's hands.
"With all due respect, Colonel, doctor's orders are for you to stay off these until you're cleared for duty, sir!" Face could lay it on really thick if he had to and he needed some distraction because Hannibal had been a hairsbreadth away from figuring it all out.
And then, Hannibal shook his head in exasperation and a hand reached out to ruffle Face's hair in that old, familiar affectionate gesture.
"Smart-ass kid," the Colonel grumbled.
Face was still smiling as Hannibal ambled away back to his tent. The smile turned into a far more rueful expression the minute the older man's back was turned.
You are worth it. All of you are worth it.
Just as ordered, Face found himself believing the man who said those words. And believing in him.
Right now, it was more than enough.
- end -
I know, I know, I know. George Peppard's Hannibal doesn't have a brogue. Liam Neeson's Hannibal does though and it makes me melt each time. It amuses me to no end that the brogue is there and that because it's movieverse, the canon can be tilted in a slightly different direction. Anybody who's got a story about movie-verse Hannibal having Irish in his background out there? Please? Pretty please?
Of course, the Bible verse our favorite Colonel quotes is from John 15:13.
Maybe I ought to call this set of stories the Sgt. Pepper series. Except for the first story, they're all picking up after Beatles songs. (shakes head) And the Face-Muse and the Murdock-Muse in my head are proving surprisingly good singers. Sweet jeebus, what have I let myself in for now?
Youngest man to make Colonel? I'm interested in the backstory behind that too, especially since movieverse Hannibal is supposedly 43 years old, in a timeline that is supposedly concurrent with the present day (2010) and the comics series puts him in the first Desert Storm, where we see soldiers are already addressing him as Colonel and if my math is right, Hannibal should be in his mid twenties. If someone of a military-minded inclination could explain that in a fan fic, I'd be mighty happy.
What? If I'm getting eaten alive by plot bunnies, I ought to spread 'em out to the rest too! :P