Chapter 15

Hannibal knew why, simply because everyone needed someone to listen from time to time. Only the kid would not get it. He did not trust anyone in the team enough to tell things about himself, which in itself was a great thing since he actually talked all day. "Why you are telling me this? That one I can tell you. Because your mouth finally caught on to the fact that you can trust us with more than your life in combat, a fact that your mind is still denying. I know everything about all my boys but I don't know anything about you. Even your file is doctored. I don't even know your real age. Why do you think you can't trust me?" He had tried to get this kid to open up several times and it was frustrating. Anytime he started he would shut down again before actually giving away any information."

"Age? I'm talking about name, identity, and you care about a number?" The anger that was about to ebb away just a moment ago was back with full force. Face didn't even know how it had happened but he found himself yelling at his Co. He had pushed the right button and Face had not even been aware that it was there. "Why should I trust you? You're telling me the name doesn't matter but the age does? Go ahead, give me a number, I've been a number all my life. I'm so sick of it, I want to be somebody, no damn number. And just for the record, I don't trust anybody. Especially not people who have some sort of power over me and therefore can kick me out at any moment."

"You are determined that I will throw you off the team, are you?"

"Why would you keep me? Hell, even I would get rid of me first chance. Anyway, you can now happily suck your damaged liability lieutenant from the team. You have every excuse in the world, every psychologist would even send me home. Unless you need me to get you some more things before you can me, just leave a list before you go back to celebrate the promotion of Templeton Peck."

"Kid."

"What?" All power had gone from his voice. Venting his anger had felt good but now that the anger was gone it left him with regret as the knowledge of what had just happened hit him full force. He had just thrown away his chance to finally be somebody, to be a member of the A-Team. And he had come to realize how he would miss those people, probably more than anyone else who had left him during his life.

"Wanna sit down before you collapse?"

Since Face didn't move Hannibal turned the cot back over, pulled the mattress on it and more or less maneuvered a boneless lieutenant into a sitting position before sitting down on Murdock's cot that was next to Face's.

"You think that's all you are on this team? The supply officer that gets us our stuff?"

"That's my job. What else would I be?"

"You are one hell of a soldier for example."

"Like thousand others too."

"You're a great marksman, one of the best I've come to know."

"There are more guys out there that can shoot straight."

"What am I even trying to tell you. Your soldier skills sure can be replaced." Face's shoulders sunk a bit more at Hannibal's words. "It's your personality that can't." Hannibal could see the wheels turning in Face's head but he didn't get it yet nor did he say anything so he went on. "Don't you get it kid? We are not just a team, we are a family. And you seemed to be the missing link in our family. The glue that keeps us together and makes us complete. That is why we work so well together. We seem to know what the other one is thinking when we are out in the field, but when it comes to personal matters you are a very hard one to read. Anyway, like it or not you have been adopted and you are not getting rid of us that easily."

The poor kid was shaking like a leaf. His head hung down, eyes on the floor, he started speaking in a very quiet voice, just like on auto pilot. It seemed like his mind didn't actually approve of his mouth speaking but there was no way he could stop it.

"When we got our exam papers at the end of each year the father would always congratulate the students during Sunday mass, telling us that we did well enough to pass to the next level and that our name on the certificate was proof forever that we worked hard all year. Only my name kept changing every some years until I had to stick with one from my final year, so as not to cause confusion later on. I always hoped that one day I would hit the right name and remember something or somebody would tell me my name. My parents couldn't have hated me so much as to even keep my name from me, the name that was given to me. After all they did stick around for some years, I guess. I mean I don't know but the nuns guessed I was about five when they found me wandering the streets and I could not have survived on my own right from the beginning. There must be other people that know my name; grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, friends. I always hoped the orphanage would get an anonymous hint that the boy in your charge is called so and so. Or at least a first name or a birthday, anything that was truly mine. But it never happened. It was terrible in later years when I was at a school that didn't belong to the orphanage and I had to witness all the proud parents and grandparent congratulating their kids to their graduation. No one ever came to witness my graduation. I mean, the nuns and priests had other things doing but it still hurt to be standing in front of the class and all the parents and relatives to receive a graduation that nobody cared about. People were taking pictures as the exam papers were handed out but the pictures always stopped when it came my turn and continued with the next boy. As if I was thin air. But I understood. If nobody cared enough to give me my real name, who would care what became of the boy without a name. Sure, the father looked at each of our exam papers and sometimes would put all of us together for a group picture, but that wasn't the same. It was after the ceremony was over. And now BA and all his joy. I didn't only have to watch this time but play an active role in organizing everything for him."

Hannibal waited for more but Face did not speak again. After some minutes he crouched down in front of him and gently lifted his chin. Face knew the routine. Hannibal would now tell him how sorry he was but he was too damaged to be kept around. That always happened when he finally opened up to one of the numerous foster parents. He finally lifted his eyes to look at Hannibal but could not place what he saw. Hannibal had the 'I'm sorry' look alright but the 'I'll send you away' look was missing. Face was confused.

"You didn't organize BA's promotion party but yours and BA's. We were all there at the ceremony to witness the promotion of the two of you, not just BA. I'm sorry if you felt that way."

"You …you still want me around? Why?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Because…because I'm damaged goods, colonel. No one wants me. Not for long anyway."

Hannibal had never felt so angry at unknown people before. At all the people that had kicked this kid in the teeth. He was a brilliant young man but so insecure from bitter experience. He sat beside Face and drew the shaking young man close.

"Would…would you…would you have come if it was only me getting promoted?"

However before he could answer, the so called door that was actually a tent flap opened and the rest of the team stepped inside. They had arrived in time to hear the crash as Face had fallen over the bunk but had opted to stay out of whatever was going on and listen in on the conversation from a distance.

BA in his ever charming straight forward way growled out "What you talking about fool. Hannibal told you that you are ours. And we keep what is ours and look out after it. Sure we all woulda been there just the same."

Murdock added "Why didn't you say anything? You suffered through all of BA's euphoria and organized everything. We could have done that if you had just said something, I mean, you would still have had to suffer through BA's euphoria but at least we woulda known."

"Shut up fool. Nobody suffers just 'cause I'm happy. Besides he said he doesn't trust as enough to talk, why do you need to ask again."

"I…I didn't mean it like that. I do trust you."

"Then why didn't ya talk?"

"BA, didn't you just tell me not to ask that question?"

"No, actually it's a good question. If you do trust us Face, why didn't you say something? You've been grumpy all the time. A simple 'leave me alone I don't like promotions' would have done it." Hannibal decided it was a good time to press a bit more.

"It's just…just…I never told anybody. Just get through it and move on."

"Yeah, and build up frustration where talking would have been so simple."

Face was still shaking and obviously uncomfortable being the center of all concern. Ray decided to come to his rescue. "Colonel, leave the man alone. I guess he learned his lesson." It later on turned out that that wasn't the case but Ray couldn't have known that. "Besides a simple 'leave me alone I don't like promotions' wouldn't have done it. It would just have started the thousand questions earlier."

"And it would have saved him weeks of silent suffering."

"You always need to have the last word colonel, do you?"

"No, I do. Because you all forgot to mention the most important thing. He has a given name. We gave you the name Faceman and I will happily stitch that on your uniform 'LT Faceman'. And while I'm at it I will add some design. What about a small plane and some stars."

With that BA had Murdock by the collar of his shirt. "Leave the Faceman alone, fool. He doesn't need no crazy man stitching anything on his uniform."

Face sat there with a stupid grin spreading on his face. His dream had come true and he had not even noticed it. Here he sat held close by his 'father' and watched his brother protecting him from something he didn't need protection from. He would love for Murdock to stitch 'LT Faceman' on his uniform. Maybe he would just leave it hanging somewhere in Murdock's sight.

"Now that that's settled, can we get on with our celebration? I can see five guys with three day passes sitting around on base, one of them in his underwear. If that makes the round the name of the A-Team is damaged beyond repair." Ray was trying to lighten the mood and was also desperate to get back to the party. "Besides Face has outdone himself this time. I don't want to miss this party."

"Uhmm….guys…go ahead. I'll just stay here and get some rest."

"You still sulking Faceman?"

"You know the number one team rule Lieutenant. The A-Team never leaves a man behind. Come on Face, get dressed and lets go."

"Um….well…actually there are only four guys here who have a three day pass. I have only one and it's late already."

"Why didn't you get one for yourself too? You're never one to object to some time off base."

"Doesn't matter Ray, I'm his Co, I'll just issue a two day pass for him, come on, get dressed."

"Hannibal…that won't be possible."

"And why not?"

"I…I had three days like you, I…ahmmm…I sold my two days to someone else."

"Why?"

"I was a bit short of money and …well…I wanted it to be over instead of watching three more days."

"Did you make it official?"

"What?"

"The transfer of the pass."

"Yes, his name's on the pass."

"Then no problem, I can still issue a new one for you. The joys of being in the army kid."

"But…no, I didn't book a hotel too."

"I asked, they have more rooms."

"But…"

"What again? Stop making excuses." BA was getting tired of the game.

"I can't pay for a hotel."

"And why not? We just had pay day and you sold your pass. What did you spend all your money on?"

"Needed it for your call."

"Come on, those calls are free."

"But not if you want it at a certain time and for longer than usual. And especially not if you want it for the guy who picked a fight with the operator last time he came there."

"How much did he charge you kid."

"Doesn't matter."

"Kid."

"Just drop it okay?"

"How much Face?"

"A month's pay for a first lieutenant."

"What? And you paid all this for me? Wow, Faceman, you're something."

"We could have put our money together."

"Didn't want you to think I can't do my job."

"Kid, sometimes you're really interesting. Now get dressed and let's go."

"But…"

"No buts, you either join us or I'll drop you off at the infirmary and pick you up in two days." Hannibal knew that Face's knee wasn't a reason for him to stay at the infirmary but he also knew that Face hated to be admitted and the shear thought of it would stop his arguments. "What's it going to be?"

Face hung his head. "I would love to join you but I'm broke. I can't pay for the hotel. I'm so sorry you'll have to pay for your rooms, I wanted to settle that but…" he trailed off.

"Nobody expects you to pay for us."

"I know, but I wanted to."

"Anyway, let's go, we'll pay for you this time."

Ray picked up Face's pants. "Are you sure this knee will fit inside?"

"It did so far."

"Shouldn't be that swollen anymore. What did the doc say."

"I…erm…didn't go there?"

"What? I ordered you to go."

"Sorry. Doc couldn't do something anyway, it just needs time. And I needed time to organize things rather than sit in the infirmary waiting."

Hannibal folded his arms over his chest and bit on his cigar. "BA, accompany him to the doc before we go."

"Ahh, come on Hannibal. I only need to rest it for a while."

"I'll believe that when the doc confirms it, off with you."

BA helped Face up after he had managed to wriggle into his pants and supported some of his weight. Face could have done without as he had during the past days but BA just wanted to be of help and Face let him. It was strange for him to accept help but he somehow enjoyed it, especially coming from BA.

As the duo made their way outside Ray called after them. "Hey BA, tell the doc to move it before our guests…erm…miss their ride."

Hannibal just groaned. "I don't even want to know."

While waiting at the infirmary BA was getting more and more uncomfortable.

"Something wrong?"

"Nah…well…yes…uhm, Faceman, you didn't pay for all them things at the party, did you?"

Face chuckled, "No, just the call and a few things. You underestimate my organization skills."

"Was just wondering why you're broke, I mean, not having anybody home to send money to and all."

Face just shrugged. "Used it."

"How? There's not too many possibilities around to spend money at. You're not gambling or buying drugs, right?"

BA looked almost shocked at the thought and Face decided to better come clean than to risk rumors that could end up with Hannibal. "I send most of my pay to my orphanage but please, I don't want people to know."

"Why? You helping out those kids is really good of you. Man, I'm sorry I thought bad of you. I just thought ones you don't have a family and all…"

Face looked away at that.

"Me and words. Just forget it, you do have a family now. A bit of a strange one but family anyway."

Before anything more could be said the doc had time for them and confirmed that Face should rest his leg. In less than twenty minutes they were back with the others and ready to go.

"It's about time we got moving. Let's go celebrate the promotion of Sergeant BA and Lieutenant Faceman."

Ray was almost out the door when Face added in a small and dreamy voice, "And a new found family."

The party went on without further incidents. The team sat together at a table and Hannibal ordered Face, whose leg was propped up on a chair, not to move. The others mixed with the guests from time to time but made sure Face was never alone at the table. After some more hours the party came to an end and it came time to move to the hotel. Hannibal went to the reception and accepted one key.

"Let's go guys."

"Wait, what about the other keys? I booked four rooms."

"Face, you're not the only one who can organize things. What do you think where you inherited that trade, runs in the family." With that Hannibal started upstairs leaving the somewhat stunned group behind. "You coming or what?"

When he turned to check the progress of the others his heart swelled. While three of his team members looked stunned Face was beaming with pride. He stood straighter than he had in weeks. It was just a side comment Hannibal had made without much thinking but to Face it meant the world. Someone finally wanted him, and not just someone but Hannibal of all people. He wanted him to the extent that he could even imagine for Face to be his son. The day that he had dreaded so much and that had started off so terrible had turned into the best day of his live.

"Come on kid, let's go." Face didn't need to be told twice. He took the few stairs to catch up with Hannibal who then put an arm around his waist to help support some weight for the rest of the short walk.

Being stunned turned to being amazed when Hannibal opened the door to a huge suit with several rooms.

"We needed an extra bed and since Face needs to rest but also shouldn't be alone all the time I thought he would be best off on the couch right in the middle here." Hannibal turned around and saw the rest of his team still standing just inside the suit. "The freezer should be full of ice for your knee kid. I don't know about you guys but I'm going to sleep. I don't mind if you keep standing there but please close the door."

That sent the rest in motion, if one of them in a slow and limping motion, and soon they were all about to undress and get ready to sleep.

"Face, gimme your uniform jacket."

Face was about to hand it over when BA snatched it out of his hand. "You're not going to stitch anything on it fool, I'll keep that." Murdock winked at Face and Face returned a smile but inwardly he was sorry. He really would have loved for Murdock to stitch 'LT Faceman' on it, even though he knew that could get him in trouble he was well prepared to face it.

When they all awoke late the next morning Hannibal ordered room service and all but one were surprised that instead of the usual breakfast a big chocolate cake was delivered. Only Face wore a dreamy smile on his face.

"Wow, that looks delicious. Hannibal, you really thought of everything. Maybe we should replace our supply officer."

"Thanks Ray but that was not my doing. Just look at our current supply officer, I think he's finally gotten around to celebrate his promotion." But Face was so lost in his thoughts he didn't even hear what was being said.

"Face? Earth to Faceman." Murdock waved a hand in front of his eyes.

"Huh? Sorry."

"Where did you get this? We were all here together and you could hardly have walked out without us noticing."

"A magician never shares his secrets."

"Let's forget about the how, I'm interested in the why. You finally going to celebrate your promotion kid?"

"No."

"Then why the cake?"

"I have something far more important to celebrate."

"Which would be? C'mon, don't let me ask everything."

Face turned a bit red and looked down. "I always dreamed of how I would share the first chocolate cake with my family when I finally found one. Stupid to hang on to kids dreams, I know."

The room was silent for a moment, nobody had expected this.

"No, not stupid at all kid. C'mon then, you gotta cut the cake." Hannibal brought the table close to Face's couch so he only needed to sit up. The others dragged some chairs around it and Face started cutting the cake and sharing it.

Murdock raised his cake like a cup of champagne and started to bring out a toast but didn't get far before BA groused "Shut up fool." To everyone's surprise he raised his own cake "To a new found family that will stick together forever."

They spend the next two days mostly in their luxurious suit, talking, playing cards and just enjoying each other's company. Soon the morning of the third day was there and it became time to leave. Before everybody could leave the room Face turned to all and said "Thanks guys."

"For what man?"

"For the best two days I can remember."

Hannibal put an arm around his shoulder. "There'll be many more kid, promised. Now let's go, you sit in front, will be easier on your knee." While Face didn't limp as much as before he still had pains.

"No, Face has to sit with me at the back, pleeaassseee."

"Thanks colonel, I'll sit with Murdock and Ray."

Hannibal had the feeling that those two were up to something but wasn't sure what. They rode back to base and Face was grinning from ear to ear when they got out of the jeep.

"We're all in our uniforms and the Faceman is finally smiling, let's take a last promotion picture." BA got a passing soldier to snap some more pictures of the group and Face made sure that his name patch wasn't covered by anybody. When they were done BA turned to Face. "See, now you're finally proud of your rank Lieutenant….Murdock!"

As BA run after a fleeing Murdock, Face straightened out the patch of cloth that had neatly been pinned to his uniform, covering the name patch that was there. It read 'Lt. Faceman' and had a star to the left and a little plane to the right.

THE END