I know it's been such a long time. So to thank all of you, I have an extra, extra long chapter today! Everything is revealed in this chapter and I wanted it to be just great for you guys. I love you all. Enjoy, review, or do whatever, just read!
The boys had to be left behind, no question. Francesca entrusted Murdock with dinner and led the kids into the car. Hannibal followed her out and leaned on the car as she got in, "What was it you wanted to tell me?"
"Oh, don't worry about it now," she smiled. "I can't think about it now." Of course, she could think about it now. It was her child after all, a part of her. "I'll be home later. Be careful. Don't burn the house down, please."
"Count on it. I'll keep those crooks in line," he winked. "You be safe, okay?" In those few seconds, Hannibal examined the woman he loved dearly. Her hair tumbled over her shoulders in cascades of gold and her eyes bore into his soul. She could read him like a book. For some reason he liked that. Feeling controlled by her was a benefit of the relationship. She wore a pretty, blue, cotton dress with three quarter length sleeves and a high neck, perfect for the warm, October weather. The grip on his arm was tight and reassuring. Her hands gracefully tightened around his wrists.
"Yes," Especially with the…baby. "Don't get into too much trouble, please. I want you in one piece when I get back."
Hannibal pressed his lips against hers in a tight kiss, warmth building in their mouths, wanting to passionately consummate his return. But there were bigger things, and two children in the backseat who let out cries of disgust as the two adults kissed. They broke apart, Hannibal laughing lightly. His smile seemed endearing as he looked into the back seat. Francesca examined his gaze with care, running her hand up his arm. His muscles were tense as he held onto the car. He turned back to her, "I'll see you all later, okay?" One more kiss on the nose and he stepped away, closing the door. He went up to the front door, looking out at her as she carefully adjusted the children's car seats. Some strange twinge in the pit of his stomach caused a bit of shock for him. Was it want? It didn't matter at the moment. The car went off down the street and he was left with narrowed eyes.
Once they got to the hospital, Francesca, Andrew, and Jessica all went into the Tommy's room. They found Mel sitting beside Tommy, their hands intertwined. He looked up. His blue eyes were grey now, his head missing his blonde hair.
Jessica and Andrew both ran up to Tommy and threw there arms around him. He ran his hands through their hair and kissed them. After what seemed like another millennium, he turned his attention toward Francesca who waited patiently near the door.
"Francesca…" he breathed out.
He looked weak and fragile, but still like Tommy. She approached the bedside and lowered her lips to his forehead, kissing him delicately. Running his hands up her back, he murmured, "You look beautiful."
"Shut up," she replied, clutching his shoulders. She didn't know what to say to the brother she thought she'd never speak to again.
"Thank you," Tommy's voice cracked.
"Stop. Stop it," she pulled away and grinned through her tears.
They started talking as Mel tended to the children. Reminiscing, crying, laughing. Until Tommy started questioning her.
"Any guys?" he put his hand on his stomach, sighing.
"Any guys…well…" Francesca sighed. Be forthright. Truthful. "Yeah. There is a guy."
Tommy raised his eyebrows, "Really?"
"Do I know him?'
"Yes," Francesca nodded, biting her lips.
"Dave? Did you get back together with Dave?" Tommy asked. Dave and Tommy always got along, even when Dave and Francesca didn't.
Francesca shook her head, "No. No, not Dave. Dave actually passed away recently in a fire."
"No!" he sat up a little straighter. "That's terrible."
"Off topic, Tommy…" she gritted her teeth. If he kept talking, she wasn't so sure she'd tell the truth.
"Okay, then tell me, who?"
This is it. "You're not gonna get mad or anything, are you?"
"Oh, God, Francesca, who is it?" he groaned, laughing slightly.
"You know him, quite well, actually…" Francesca took his hand in hers. "It's John Smith."
Tommy laughed, "There were quite a few…" His smile faded. "Oh, Jesus Christ."
"At the wedding…you were sleeping with him. Oh my God. Francesca!" he wasn't angry, just confused and shocked a bit. Mel glared over at Tommy, fearing the children would overhear and pick up on the meaning. He didn't notice, didn't care to, and instead continued, "I mean…he's my friend, Francesca."
"I love him very much, Tommy."
His gaze softened at that, "You love him?"
"So much," she replied quietly.
Tommy reached his hand out toward her and she accepted it with a squeeze, "Well, how can I interrupt love, huh?"
"It's a good thing that you're not too angry."
"Oh, I'm not angry, just…surprised, I guess," Tommy smiled. "But that's good. I'm happy for you."
Francesca swallowed, "That's not the only news."
"Oh no," he chuckled. "What now?"
Clapping her other hand onto his grip, she smiled meekly, "I'm going to have a baby."
Tommy's eyes brightened to their normal blue. He rolled his eyes and smiled, "You're ridiculous."
They hugged, Tommy babbling and laughing, "I'm going to be an uncle, finally."
Francesca pressed her face against his, glad that she had his support. Even if Hannibal was not in the state to become a father, she had this family. She didn't know if she could afford to lose his love, though.
"So does Hannibal know? About the baby, I mean."
"No…not yet. I'm telling him very soon," she sighed. "I just keep getting interrupted."
Meanwhile, back at the house, Murdock was straining the noodles while B.A. and Face flanked Hannibal at the island. "I want to see it," B.A. begged for the fifth time.
"Fine!" Hannibal gave in and slipped his hand into his pocket. He pulled out a navy, square box and then opened it to reveal a ring. "It was my mother's."
It was a simple golden band with one beautiful diamond in the center. Though so effortless, it was elegant and gorgeous.
"Boss," Face smiled. "You got it right." Face still was worried about the baby. He was pretty sure Hannibal would still marry Francesca with the baby. Hell, he may even be ecstatic. But he didn't know for sure.
"It's perfect," B.A. grinned. "I can't believe you're doing this."
Quickly, he put the ring back in the box and into his pocket. "Don't make me have second thoughts." It did seem ridiculous. Two years of erotic bliss, five years of estrangement, two months of courtship, and then marriage. Hannibal was not the romantic one by any means, but it felt right. God, did it feel right. A smug smile crossed his face.
Hannibal looked at the refrigerator and saw a list of numbers. Mel's Cell: 467-555-3256. He quickly took out Francesca's old phone, which he had been using for himself and dialed the number. It rang twice before Mel picked up the other line. "Hello?"
"Hi, Mel," he said quietly. "This is John Smith. Could you put me on the phone with Tommy?"
She knew exactly who he was, "Uh…why are you calling, John?"
"Business," he smiled to himself. "I heard he woke up."
There was a pause as the phone was handed over to Tommy, "Hello."
"Tell Francesca to get you a coffee or something," Hannibal said quietly, knowing Tommy would know his voice.
"Francesca, go get me a bottle of water down in the cafeteria," Tommy said.
Hannibal could hear some bickering before Tommy got on the line and said, "She's gone. You know, we were just talking about you."
"Really?" he was slightly confused.
"She told me about you guys," he laughed.
Freezing for a moment, Hannibal mustered the courage to say, "That's what I was calling you about."
"Well, I'm all ears," Tommy sounded a little thrilled. Was it hearing Hannibal's voice or the thought of his sister and him together?
"I just wanted to…well…" Hannibal fleshed out his plan before blurting. "I'm going to ask Francesca to marry me." There was a silence on the other end before he added, "And I'd like your blessing."
Tommy quickly replied, "What a gentleman. Yeah, 'course you get my blessing. Just take care of her. Don't get her into too much trouble."
"I'll take good care of her…I can't promise anything about the trouble," he murmured, smiling.
"Worth a shot, right?" Tommy laughed before hanging up the phone.
"I haven't been on a date in a…really long time," Francesca bit her lip, looking up at the man across the table.
"Neither have I," he replied, smiling. "So I guess we're going to be helping each other get back into the swing of things."
Francesca laughed, pushing some hair out of her eyes as the waiter came by with their drinks. She had ordered a vodka, stiff and strong for a first date, but she wasn't aiming to impress. "So…you work with computers?"
"Ethical hacking. It's the tops," he rolled his eyes.
She laughed, "Oh god."
"It's the unethical stuff that's the fun part," he murmured, bringing his glass of bourbon to his lips. "You're not going to turn me in for that, are you? Agent Barrett?"
"Not tonight," Francesca bit her lips flirtatiously and leaned on the table. "So what kind of unethical stuff is this?"
"You're not going to arrest me?"
"Pinky swear?" he held out his pinky toward her and she smirked.
Bringing her pinky to his, she blushed, "Pinky swear." They weren't children, but for some reason, his playfulness and humor made her more comfortable. She hadn't been on a date in two years. Let alone a blind date set up by her partner Andrea Nole, who had seen how morose Francesca had become in the past few weeks and decided that it'd be a great idea. Francesca tried to protest, but was ultimately silenced once another agent, Steve Griffin, teased Francesca for her perpetual singlehood.
Her date, Dave Bowman, was a friend of Andrea's sister (she used the term friend very loosely) and worked for the government, just like Francesca. But he wasn't any of those hero types that she was simply sick of. He seemed like a normal guy and Francesca needed normal in her life. Without it, she would've gone crazy. But with it, she was different. She was shy and laughed quietly. Her eyes widened at the touch of a man and her heart raced when she thought of promiscuous deeds they could do in the spotless leather interior of his Lexus.
They went through dinner, gallivanting through topics such as favorite drinks to ethics and even a bit of movie history. By the end of the night, they were both a little tipsy as they walked arm and arm out of the restaurant and down a few blocks to the parking lot. Francesca and Dave stopped in front of his car. He said in a low voice, "Why don't we take this party somewhere else?"
She agreed and he began driving, but she convinced him to drive out into Havel's Park, a darkened forest where hikers and lovers alike camped out. They both awkwardly waited for the other to move.
It began as an exploration of the other as Dave pressed his lips delicately across the side of her mouth. Francesca, intrigued by this new conquest, was determined to put Hannibal from her mind and focus on a new man, a new experiment.
By the end, their hands and legs stuck to the leather, sweat dripping down their foreheads. Francesca was out of breath as she shimmied back into her stockings. Dave was good. But Francesca had been with an awful lot of good men. She missed the great one.
That evening, Francesca and the children returned, leaving Mel with Tommy at the hospital. The children and boys sat down at the table, pulling out chairs haphazardly. They were all quickly served and Francesca sat down between the children who were both still skeptical of the men, but to see Francesca smiling and laughing with them was comforting.
Hannibal and Francesca exchanged occasional glances at silent moments in the meal. When their eyes met, Francesca blushed and Hannibal smiled to himself. He was proud he could do that to her. The glances instilled confidence in his proposal he planned to make. He could just imagine them, settled down, truly. In a house, like this one, but theirs. And he could see them in their bed, laughing in the morning sunlight and touching each other with trembling fingers. Hannibal imagined looking at her hand and seeing his mother's ring on her finger, showing that she was his. That she wasn't going to run off, and more importantly, he wasn't going to again. Of course, that was all his imagination in an ideal world.
Francesca was thinking the same thing. But there was that added package. The one thing Hannibal couldn't imagine then, she had to imagine because it was a part of her. She couldn't just forget about it. There wasn't a reason to anyway, since she was so excited about the baby. Scared, yes, but also incredibly excited. She quietly recalled how she had found out.
She walked out of her hearing with Charisa Sosa at her side, feeling nauseous and dizzy. The trial had gone well and now they waited for a verdict, which at the moment, seemed to be leaning toward not guilty. Her stomach surged violently again and she diverted from her ally for the women's bathroom. Charisa followed her, angered by Francesca's flightiness.
"Francesca," she called after her and ducked into the bathroom. She could hear Francesca retching in the stall.
Francesca finished, coughing up a little extra spit. She flushed the toilet and stood, "Yeah. Sorry."
"Are you alright?" Charisa questioned as Francesca left the stall.
"I…" it took a moment for Francesca to formulate her words. "No. I don't think so. I mean…no." Francesca went over to the sink and started to wash her hands before she froze, her eyes closing tightly closed, "I need you to get some things for me, will you do that?"
Charisa came back to the bathroom twenty minutes later with a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bottle of water, and a pregnancy test. She hadn't questioned Francesca after she listed off the items. Frankly, she was furious because she still thought that something had gone on between her and Face. Charisa handed her the bag wordlessly.
So in that bathroom stall, Francesca took two tests and waited with furious anticipation. She was sweating, from heat or nerves, she didn't know. Sure enough, they both were positive.
Francesca went back to the sinks and held one in each hand. She didn't know how to react.
"Whose is it?" Charisa snapped.
Francesca flinched when Charisa's spit hit her face. She reddened and whispered, "John's."
That wasn't something Charisa had expected. Her expression softened, watching tears build up in Francesca's eyes. "I'm sorry…about all of this."
"No…no," she lowered her head. "It's my fault."
"So…was it like a one time thing or…?" Charisa asked her with a quiet, sympathetic voice.
Francesca shook her head, "No. We've known each other for a very long time. And when we were reunited all of these old feelings came back. This was just an accident." A few tears fell down her cheeks, "What am I going to do?" Her biggest fear was being alone. Alone with a baby and the man she loved off saving the world. "I can't…I'm…dangerous."
"Francesca, you have other options, you know," Charisa put it very lightly.
"No," a small smile broke out across her face. "No, I'm keeping it."
Charisa bit her lip, "Look…I'll help you. You know, if you need help. I know that," she lowered her voice so that only Francesca could hear. "That he won't be around. So if you ever need someone else to help or just someone to talk to."
"Thanks," Francesca flushed. In the silence that followed, she lowered her hands to her stomach and laughed to herself. "I think I'm really going to love this." A distraction. A permanent one.
And since then, she had grown to love her baby with all her heart. It was something to live for, someone to live for other than herself. However, telling Hannibal about it was not going to be an easy task. Once everyone finished dinner, Francesca cleaned off the dishes slowly with the help of Andrew who usually got more water on himself than the dishes. B.A. and Face sat watching The Lion King with Jessica, thoroughly entertained by the Disney movie. The evening was full of laughter and childish antics. Francesca wondered for how long this could go, this charade of pretending the danger was far away from them.
At about nine, both Jessica and Andrew were ready to crash and only an hour later, so were the boys, except Hannibal, whose heart was beating more quickly every minute as he thought about his imminent proposal. Francesca let them use the guest room and they all piled over the bed with faces smashed into the pillows.
Hushed, Hannibal and Francesca remained in the kitchen. She sat on the counter with her legs crisscrossed while Hannibal leaned against the island. They were talking about life. How she'd gotten to stay out of prison. She told him about Charisa. How they were friends. He was a little worried about this relationship, if it was incriminating or not, but he decided that ever since Charisa had snuck Face that key, it never really was about business.
"So have you talked to her lately?" he asked with a smile.
"Yeah," Francesca nodded. "Just yesterday. She was just giving me some updates on the case, but luckily nothing has come up about me anymore."
"That's all that matters to me," he sighed. "You're safe."
She lowered her head, embarrassed and grateful for the man who stood before her. "What about you guys? What's gonna happen?"
"Unfinished business, I suppose," he shrugged. "Eliza McDonald is still alive."
Francesca looked up into his eyes, "I want you to stay."
"I wish I could, Francesca," he went toward her and put his hands on either side of her legs. Their faces were so close.
"You can…just…be with me. I want you to be with me," she was desperate now, thinking about her unborn child that he was still oblivious to. Hooking her arms around his neck, she breathed in, "God, I just love you so much."
A smile passed over his face and he kissed her forehead. "Francesca…" he trailed off and then he said, "I want to ask you something."
"What?" she cocked her head to the side and ran her hands up his chest.
He paused. "You love me. Right?"
"Of course," she laughed. "Was that the question?"
"No, I just wanted to make sure," he breathed out and stuck one of his hands into his back pockets.
"Well, I love you. Of course, I love you," she continued before noticing what was happening. The navy box glared at her with harsh intensity, "John…"
"I've been thinking about this for awhile. I really have," he swallowed, opening the box. "Um…" his hands were shaking a bit. "And no matter how much I push it out of my mind it keeps coming back."
Francesca stared up at him, "John…"
"I guess, obviously, what I'm trying to say is will you marry me?" he asked quietly, showing her the ring inside the box.
Stunned, Francesca choked out a few words before saying through tears, "Oh, god…"
"I know…I'm shit at this kind of stuff," he blushed.
"I wish I could say yes."
His heart leapt, "What?"
"There's something I need to tell you that," she pushed the tears out of her eyes and jumped off the counter. Francesca went past him, leaving space between them. "Something that could just change everything."
Snapping the box closed, Hannibal didn't reply. He had gone white, not expecting the 'no' or whatever it was he got.
Tears began to pile up in her eyes and she crossed her arms, "God, I'm going to ruin everything."
"What're you talking about?" he asked in a worried manner.
"John …" Francesca turned away from him. "I'm pregnant."
The shock of this realization made Hannibal step away from her. He felt his temples begin to palpitate and his legs felt weak. If only there was a chair around. He leaned on the counter, swallowing.
She didn't reply, only folding her hands over her eyes.
Hannibal cleared his throat, a silly smile on his face, "That one time?"
Francesca nodded, "I'm sorry."
"Sorry…" he lowered his head in thought.
"What am I going to do?" she sighed.
He looked down at her, "What do you mean?"
"What do you mean 'what do I mean'?" she turned back to him, her cheeks glistening.
"We're two grown adults. We can handle it."
"We?" Francesca questioned. "There won't be a we."
"You'll be off saving the world, I'll be at home with the baby. It's not right for a child to grow up like that. It'll be me. Alone," Francesca moaned.
He stood up again, "No. It won't be like that."
"You just said you can't stay. This isn't going to change anything!"
"If you would just listen to me, maybe we could straighten this out," Hannibal shouted plainly. He didn't know what he was feeling at that moment. A combination of frustration and anger, he supposed.
She pushed the tears off of her cheeks and managed to whimper, "I'm scared, okay? I don't want to do this alone."
"That's not going to happen. I'm not going to let that happen."
They both were quiet before he asked, "Why are you scared?"
"Oh, God. Let me just show you my resume for being an unfit mother," Francesca said sarcastically. "I could screw something up, ruin my child's life. And I'll have to stop working since you won't be around to help me. And that brings up another point. When will our baby get to see its father?" She looked into his eyes. Hers were glistening and wavering in confusion, "On Christmas? A card for a birthday? How could anyone go through life like that?"
Hannibal interjected, "That's not how it would be."
"It sucks not to have a dad. A man you can come home to who will help you with school projects and teach you how to change a flat tire. It's shit," she continued on.
"But I'd be there-"
"How could you when you're hunted after by the military trying to arrest you, and criminals trying to kill you?"
"Because I'd get here. I could do that."
Francesca shook her head, "You're not God. There's no way you-"
"Listen to me Francesca!" he yelled gruffly.
She immediately stopped talking, looking at the backs of her hands.
"I would find a way to be here," Hannibal's voice wavered slightly. "I…know how hard it must've been. I would not want my child going through…" he stopped for a moment. Such strange words coming from his mouth, he thought. "Going through life without knowing me. I wouldn't be able t-to stand it," in those few moments, Hannibal's eyes had filled with burning tears. "God, Francesca, this isn't just a baby. It's ours," he mused. "Don't you understand that?"
Francesca started to cry again, heaving sighs in her hands. She wasn't sad or angry, but so full of joy and excitement. And nervousness. Hannibal approached her, wrapping his big arms around her tightly, "I love you, Francesca."
"I can't do this alone. I just can't," she murmured into his chest. Francesca looked up at him, "I love you, John."
Hannibal pressed his lips to her forehead. A few tears escaped from his eyes. Francesca felt the wetness on her skin and grinned. "So…Wow," he murmured.
"We're going to have a baby," she giggled through her tears.
"Yeah," Hannibal put his hands on her cheeks. "I couldn't be happier."
Francesca paused for a moment, "Neither could I."
They kissed deeply for a few moments before Hannibal pulled away with bright rosy cheeks. A smile crossed his face. Francesca admired it with her glistening blue eyes as she clung to his arms. "I never imagined having a child," Hannibal sighed.
Francesca didn't reply, but instead took one of his hands, holding the palm outward and placed his hand on her stomach with a quiet smile. They both stayed silent, both of their hands pressed against her stomach in an unimaginable ecstasy. Hannibal stood in amazement. The baby was his. This was his claim, almost. His unspeakable bond. To think that his child was already there was almost an impossible concept.
There was already a small bump there, a curvature that held something so precious to both of them. She reached out her other hand and pushed some of his hair behind his ear. Her hand stopped, wrapped around the back of his head. "H-how far along?" Hannibal choked out awkwardly, forgetting that there had only been one time that this chance could've arisen in the recent past.
"Three months," Francesca bit her lip. "I'm due in May."
Hannibal looked up at her quickly with understanding and fright at the same time. It seemed so soon.
"Don't you worry your pretty little head," she grinned and brought both of her hands to his shoulders. "We've got time," she kissed his cheek lightly.
"We're going to be parents," he said quietly, at a loss for most words.
"Yeah," Francesca nodded with a smile. She lifted her head to look at him, "Does your offer still stand?"
Running his hands up her sides, he smirked, "Definitely."