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: Okay, somebody better bring the drinks to our handbasket party – Murdock just broke out the nachos and salsa! :P
WARNING: This story is part of a fan fiction series with slash elements. As in, two men being sweet on each other. So if this is not your cuppa tea, time to clicky-click on the back button and run for it.
He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me
- John Lennon (Lennon/McCartney), "The Beatles"
Honestly, falling in love with his second in command was the absolute last thing on John "Hannibal" Smith's mind.
Because the last time he checked, he was perfectly straight, thank you very much – not that he had anything against alternative lifestyles. The Catholic priest who raised him (and God better be good to Father Ryan or He'd hear about it repeatedly) was the kindest, most compassionate and open-minded person Hannibal had ever known. Of course, Father Ryan would have rolled his eyes at being described that way, having been called by some of his own contemporaries as being completely "batshit crazy." The old priest was quite proud that Hannibal chose to carry on the Ryan family tradition of the crazy (Hannibal was considered a Ryan by adoption, if not by blood and that was perfectly good enough) into the military.
This, however, kind of threw crazy for a loop. Sometimes, Hannibal wondered if Murdock didn't have the right idea all along. At least his way of coping seemed to work perfectly for him.
He thought he'd left behind any adolescent angst over sexual identity and preferences in the relatively safe area of the way-back-when and the happily-forgotten. The first person also to mention "mid-life crisis" to his face was probably going to get a sock on the jaw as well.
It might have been simpler to say that he cared deeply about Templeton Peck, was somewhere between flattered and flabbergasted at the unexpected depth of his affections, but was quite, unfortunately, unable to reciprocate in the exact same way. And unless Face mustered up the courage to actually talk to him about it, Hannibal would keep his realization dead secret, if only to save his poor lieutenant from any further humiliation. Anyone else in his position might have felt that way.
In fact, that was the absolute sensible thing to do at this point.
The trouble was, "sensible" wasn't always a part of Hannibal Smith's vocabulary. God help him.
He absolutely hated having to deal with internal conflicts – he was pretty comfortable with who and what he was at this point in his life and it was rare that he really had to deal with serious soul-searching, as he'd always known what he was, who he was and what he wanted to do. This was different and it was hell of a lot more complicated.
I will not hurt him.
He was never for empty words or promises and he'd meant what he said to Murdock.
And if Face ever decided to come clean – a prospect that both filled him with delight and dread – Hannibal was fairly sure that his answer wasn't going to be a gentle let-down.
The mere fact that he knew he was contemplating this scenario was enough to scare him to death. And he had never lacked for courage in anything.
There wasn't a lot of time to think when one was on the run. So right now, he was secretly glad that too many things were happening for him to really sit down and take stock of himself.
Staying low and keeping one's ear to the ground was the name of the game, the goal being to stay the hell out of jail. Let the initial frenzy pass over, let them guard all the exits first, post names and pictures at the borders. Later, when things have calmed down a little, when there hasn't been any sign of their quarry, they'll lose interest, lower their guard – getting out would be a snap.
Between him and Face, they probably mapped out half a dozen exit strategies, had all the means to get out of the country if they wanted to. And he knew they would have to go eventually – they needed to keep moving and they couldn't stay off the grid here indefinitely.
In the back of Hannibal's mind, he was quite prepared to endure doing time and take the heat off his boys. As long as they were free and clear, that was what mattered.
Ultimately, it was his fault – his responsibility.
Morrison had tried, albeit in an oblique fashion, to warn him off. He should have seen it coming – should have seen that Morrison already had that deal with Pike and his Black Forest thugs and that Lynch had really just brought him and his team in as insurance. Hannibal was a career soldier – he should have known all the fucked-up things human beings could do to each other, especially when money was talking.
He should have realized that a billion dollars was enough for most people to betray lifelong friendships over. And there were those who'd sell their own mothers for less.
That he wasn't and would never be one of those people still wasn't a goddamn excuse.
Hannibal hid a smile as he, for probably the nth time, did a quick check on his boys. He could hear Murdock cheering from his current position at the old video game in the corner of the tiny diner they were currently in – hell, he hadn't seen one of those old-style The Last Starfighter games since the 80's. B.A. was outside, checking on the van – how Face managed to scam one that bore a remarkable resemblance to their corporal's old, beloved "girl" was beyond him.
And as for Face himself, well, Hannibal had his breakfast here – what he wanted for it anyway. Face wasn't much for breakfast other than plain ol' scrambled eggs and toast. And maybe something on the order of sweet and not entirely good for one…
"Hey," The aroma of freshly brewed coffee hit him almost immediately. Face was there, coffee mug in hand and Hannibal knew it would be made just the way he liked it, black with just a touch of sugar. And inevitably, there was pie – not part of what they ordered but Hannibal was willing to bet his last dollar that Face had managed to charm it out of the waitress at the counter.
"Hey yourself," he returned, accepting the mug gratefully. He pushed the plate of eggs and toast towards the younger man as Face settled in the seat across the table from him. "Eat that first before the sugar."
Face rolled his eyes. "Yes, Poppa Bear. I hear and obey."
"Smart-ass kid." Inevitably, Face smirked at that one and Hannibal conceded the point to him for the moment, since he did dig into the eggs and toast first.
It was remarkably easy to act as if nothing had changed between them, as if Hannibal still didn't know a thing. Hannibal knew that the best way to portray any given role was to find that element of truth within oneself, the ability to really be that role off stage and it would come out naturally in one's performance.
But Hannibal knew he wasn't acting – not really.
"So, John, you done beating yourself over this whole mess or what?" Face said casually. " 'Cause, you know, the whole Catholic guilt thing is kinda cute at first but it gets old after a while."
It took every ounce of Hannibal's will power not to choke on his admittedly delicious coffee. And it wasn't just because it was rare for Face to actually call him by his real given name either.
"Catholic guilt, Templeton?" Hannibal responded in as even a tone of voice as he could muster.
"Yeah, the one that involves you getting caught by the MP's and the rest of us getting away scot-free," And this time the younger man actually had the sheer fucking nerve to glare at him.
Carefully, Hannibal set down the coffee mug – he didn't really feel like having hot coffee all over his hands or lap if he managed to break the thing. He didn't bother denying the accusation either – what would be the point?
"It's just an option, Templeton, nothing more."
"Yeah? You can scratch that off the drawing board right here, right now, John. It's not happening. Ever."
They didn't often have arguments like this one – at least not ones where Face actively challenged him like this.
"You questioning me, Lieutenant?" Hell, no, it wasn't fair for Hannibal to hide behind rank like this but he wasn't in the mood for fair at the moment.
"With all due respect, Colonel, it's my responsibility to see that my commanding officer and best friend doesn't do something on the order of the heroically stupid and self-sacrificing."
No, Hannibal wasn't imagining the brief catch in Face's voice at the last few words. Nor was he imagining the very real fear and concern behind the apparent anger.
And now that he knew what to look for, he could sense the other feelings there as well.
Oh. Damn. He was in so much trouble, wasn't he?
Face blinked, surprised at the way Hannibal caved in so easily and understandably suspicious.
"What exactly does 'done' cover here, Hannibal? Want to get a little specific?"
Hannibal affected a hurt expression. "Don't trust me, Face? After all these years?"
"I do but you're a better con artist than I am, old man."
"I am not that old," Hannibal told him, summoning what was left of his dignity and pride.
"I noticed," Face muttered, a red flush slowly creeping up over his cheeks.
No, Hannibal didn't hear that. Because he'd be hard pressed to deny the feeling of heat creeping up over the back of his own neck so… yeah, he really didn't hear that. "You were saying, Face?"
"Stop changing the subject, Hannibal. I need to know the terms of this. Please."
"Well, what you said. Nothing on the order of the stupidly heroic and self-sacrificing." Hannibal really wanted a strong drink right now, despite the hour of the day but he had nothing but the coffee and so a cigar was the next best thing.
Face just had to say "please," didn't he?
Partly to cover himself and partly because someone around here needed to keep eating, he pushed the pie towards his lieutenant. "Shame to let that go to waste, kid."
Much to his amusement, Face obediently took a forkful of that pie. "I'm surprised you're letting this go so easy."
In retrospect, he shouldn't have said what had just popped out of his mouth. It was wholly uncharacteristic and God help him, it was the honest truth. "Because you asked."
Aw, hell. Hannibal waited for the realization to hit his lieutenant and dear God, what was he going to do next after this, but then, Face brightened and those big blue eyes lit up with sheer mischief. "So if I ask if we can hide out somewhere sunny, preferably with a fantastic white-sand beach and lots of pretty senoritas, you'll give in?"
Hannibal reached over and playfully cuffed him over the ear. Mostly for the "pretty senoritas" crack but hell, that was Face for you. And mostly because he was feeling somewhere between relieved and disappointed at this point. "Don't push your luck, kid."
"So…. have Momma and Poppa Bear kissed and made up yet?" Murdock sang out. He immediately sat next to Face, getting the other man to move with a "scoot over, Momma Bear, Baby Bear needs some of that pie."
Face flipped him one but gave him a bite of pie anyway.
"What's the fool going on about now?" B.A. asked, wiping his grease-stained hands on a paper towel. Hannibal made room for him so he could take a seat too.
"It's a thing with C.O's and X.O's – C.O's the Poppa and X.O's the Momma and when the parents are fightin', it ain't good for the kiddies."
To Face's openly obvious and horrified disbelief, B.A. seemed to be seriously considering what Murdock was saying. Hannibal, though, could smell the conspiracy coming a mile off.
"Well, Face would make a pretty Momma Bear…" B.A. said thoughtfully.
"Fuck you, Bosco," said Face, laughing and completely red at the same time. "Why do I have to be the Momma Bear?"
"Does Hannibal look like anyone's idea of a Momma Bear to you?" Murdock countered.
"Well, Face could be Goldilocks too, y'know," Hannibal said, joining in the fun.
"Noooo!" Murdock protested. "We loves our Momma Bear, we do!" He proceeded to throw his arms around Face, who retaliated by trying to tickle Murdock in the ribs.
"Y'all missing the point here," said B.A. soberly.
"Which is?" Face and Murdock chorused.
"Well if Hannibal's Poppa Bear and Face is Momma Bear and Murdock and me are the Baby Bears… that means we family. And we stick together, no matter what."
There was a small silence, one of those where none of them needed to say anything, because there was nothing that needed to be said.
Murdock sniffled. "That's beautiful, Bosco."
"I rest my case… Poppa Bear," Face told Hannibal with a meaningful look.
"I said yes, already – what do you want me to do, get down and propose to you?" Hannibal returned. Because if they were all tuned in to Channel Murdock today, he might as well enjoy the show. He was doomed, head-over-heels, utterly screwed at this point and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Face pretended to consider it. "I might think about it if there was a ring and we have that white-sand beach…"
"Okay," B.A. said seriously. "I'm drawing the line at seeing Face in a wedding dress, I swear to God…"
"B.A.," Hannibal told him, just as he saw B.A. pick up that fork and get himself a bite of that pie. "Wash your hands first, then eat."
"Yes, Poppa Bear."
The waitress serving at the counter smiled as she heard the laughter of the four men sitting in one of her booths. Their laughter was infectious and on a gloomy morning like this one, it made her little diner seem like a warmer, brighter place.
She'd been watching them for a while, although she couldn't hear what they were talking about but one couldn't help but be drawn to them. The blonde one was a charmer and the one with the cap was like an overgrown kid whose eyes sparkled like it was Christmas Eve when he spotted her old video game. The silver-haired one had a smile that made her heart skip a beat and the big one with the mohawk had scared her a bit but he was awful polite to her, so it was all right.
She'd always remember them for that and not just because 10 minutes later, they would help her against the local troublemakers looking to put a hurting on someone and ruin her little business. She wished they would stay a while but she could tell that they really needed to go. And they asked her not to mention them to the police, when she asked if there was anything she could do for them in return for their help.
So when the sheriff came and questioned her about it, she fudged their descriptions a little bit and later, she realized that they had to be those so-called Federal fugitives she was hearing about on the news. Federal fugitives, hell – they were the nicest fellows she'd ever known.
She'd sent them off with a lot of food and her famous apple pie, which made the blonde charmer cheer like a little boy. And in her prayers, she wished them well and safe from harm.
- end -
I know. My Muses are EVIL. I swear!
"Father Ryan" is a shout-out to one of my favorite priest characters of all time – Father John Blackwood "Blackie" Ryan, from the Blackie Ryan mysteries by Father Andrew M. Greeley. Father Blackie or currently Bishop Blackie, as he's now known, is a totally ROCKIN' character.
Canon or Fanon has Face tagged as the Catholic in this group… so since this is movie verse and since Hannibal does have that touch of the brogue, I figured it would make sense to tilt TV canon a bit sideways for this and get Hannibal to be the Catholic.
Yes, we had a Beatles return here. :P It was the only song that made a weird kind of sense for this fic.
The postcript came as a surprise… but hey, it seemed to make a weird kind of sense as well.