HIDDEN BAGGAGE

By AEIU

The breath caught in Hannibal's throat as he beheld his lieutenant. "His lieutenant," he thought. He had lusted for a young Templeton Peck the first time he had seen him in Vietnam; a cocky smart mouthed brat with a reputation as a scammer extraordinaire and a trouble maker. Peck, also, had the face of an angel and the body of a Michelangelo statue come to life. But Peck was a kid under his command, with emphasis on the word kid. He claimed to be twenty but Hannibal had suspected that he was younger, a lot younger.

As time went on, in the hell-hole known as 'Nam, Hannibal realized he wanted his lieutenant. As he had watched the boy turn into a man; he admired the strength, drive, and intelligence that Peck had shown throughout the hardships of the war. All maddeningly contained in a gorgeous body which suggested innocence with more than a hint of debauchery. By that time Hannibal knew he would have never been satisfied with a cheap meaningless sexual encounter. It would have to be a pairing of equals; a mental as well as physical coupling. But integrity would not allow him to take advantage of his subordinate.

And later, as he learned of the man's vulnerabilities, he realized that he loved his lieutenant; perhaps even from the very beginning.

Though Templeton Peck seldom talked about his past, Hannibal sensed the kid had been knocked around pretty hard by life. It had left him scarred, both physically and mentally, with an inability to trust too easily. Hannibal had been glad that his sense of honor and responsibility to his men had prevented him from making that first move so many years ago. He would have hated to be just one of the many people in the man's life who had simply used him for their own needs. Back then it had been enough just to be near him and bask in the warmth and hero worship that shone in those beautiful eyes.

But in their years on the run, something had changed. There had been subtle questioning looks, occasional touches that lingered longer than necessary and private conversations which took on a new intensity. A sexual tension developed between the two of them that had been broken several months ago when Face had made the first move to take their relationship to a new level.

They had been lovers for nearly four months and, while he would admit to some disappointment that he was not Peck's first male relationship, the reality of having Face in his arms paled any fantasy that he had created in his mind.

As a lover, Face brought a bright white passion which left both of them gasping. It bordered on an intensity which was almost manic. It had taken several weeks for Hannibal to realize that Face was in total control in their bedroom. And while Face was a master of nonphysical seduction and loved cuddling in the soft moments of the afterglow; he appeared to have little interest in accepting physical foreplay. While he seemed driven to deliver as much pleasure to his partner as possible, he was always giving and never taking. Hannibal worried if Face was physically and emotionally satisfied. It seemed as if, for some unspoken reason, Face did not feel worthy of a reciprocal relationship. Hannibal had tried several times to slow the pace and show Face how cherished he was but Peck would use his erotic skills and steal control back with the colonel only able to put up the most slightest of resistance.

But tonight that would change. Tonight Hannibal intended to take control and show Face what he meant to him. The trap had been laid, baited and the prize was delectable.

"You certainly know how to treat a guy," Face purred in Hannibal's ears, unknowingly pulling the colonel out of his musings.

As Hannibal gazed at his lover, he hoped he would be able to master his own desires. They had already feasted on a selection of Face's favorite foods that he had ordered for their dinner. After dinner, his lieutenant had excused himself to slip into something more comfortable. He had emerged several minutes later wearing a short white silk robe which barely hung down below his tight muscular buttocks. The color of the robe contrasted starkly against the dark golden brown of the long lean legs. Hannibal suspected the full body tan was the only thing the lieutenant wore underneath the robe. As a finishing touch, Peck had washed his hair and was casually letting it air dry. Hannibal wasn't sure why but there was something about that small act that was a real turn on. Something about the tousled hair gave Face a wanton look which promised unbridled acts of passion.

Face purposely walked behind the colonel, and draped his arms around his neck as he pulled himself close to his beloved and whispered huskily in his ear, "Why are you so nice to me? If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to seduce me."

Hannibal bit back a moan of desire as he turned to embrace the young man. It had already started. It's hard to be the one in control when that someone can make you want them so bad that you're willing to take them anyway you can have them; whether there on the floor or on the front lawn of the military police compound. But tonight he was going to be strong. "Let's move this to the bedroom. I've got something in mind."

"I have something in mind too but you're wearing too many clothes," Face complained as started undoing the buttons to Hannibal's shirt.

Hannibal placed his hand over Face's nimble fingers causing Face to bite his lower lip in disappointment as he looked up at his slightly taller lover. Hannibal saw the want in Face's eyes and his groin swelled up in protest over being denied something it wanted so badly.

He brought Face's hands to his lips and softly kissed them before gently leading him into the bedroom. He pulled on the robe's belt and let it drop, followed by the robe, to the floor. If he saw every sight in the world, he knew he would never see anything as beautiful as his lieutenant's naked body.

He laid Face out in the bed and carefully rolled him over onto his stomach. He could feel Face start to stiffen as he straddled the man at his hips, careful not to put his full weight on the seemingly fragile body.

He leaned down and whispered into Face's ear, "You're tense. Let me give you a massage and help you relax. Tonight I want to feel you. I want you to feel me."

Face took a deep breath and tried to force the tautness from his body. Hannibal had tried this before. "You know that's not the best way to relax me," he said in a lascivious voice as he wiggled his hips against Hannibal's crotch.

"God, this is going to be hard," Hannibal thought as he warmed the body oil in his hands and began to massage it into the tense body. "I want to make you feel good, Lieutenant."

Face tried to lose himself in his lover's strong hands and ministration but he hated to have his movements restricted even by someone he loved. He decided that he could allow Hannibal a few minutes of control but as soon as he had an opening he planned to take it back. All it would take was a strong hip buck and a quick turn of their bodies then he would have the colonel where he wanted him.

Face obediently stretched his arms above his head as he waited for Hannibal to drop his guard. He could feel the colonel lean forward, their bodies almost parallel, Hannibal's nuzzling his ears as the man's hands rubbed the entire length of his arms. Peck knew Hannibal was off balance and prepared to make his move.

'Click.' He heard the snap and the cold steel of the handcuffs as it shut against his wrist. His eyes flicked open and he looked up. A lump of dread quickly formed in his stomach as he saw the shiny links of metal weaved between the bars of the headboard on the bed frame. He attempted to plant his feet on the mattress and buck Hannibal from the bed but the colonel had anticipated the move. He moved back and pinned the knees of his lieutenant's outstretched legs. Hannibal twisted backward as he pulled out and extra set of cuffs. Before Face was able to protest, he secured his trapped lover's ankles to the bars of the footboard. Hannibal rolled off of the bed and waited for the expected response.

Face looked up at Hannibal questioningly as he attempted to pull his chained hands down. He felt the chains of the cuffs caught against the bars of the bed and his eyes widened in panic.

Hannibal had been prepared for an adverse reaction to the restraints but he hadn't expected the ferocity. Face began thrashing wildly on the mattress; yanking his arm and legs so hard that he shook the frame of the bed. It was even money which would give first; the bars or his joints.

To Hannibal, the most unnerving part was throughout the frantic flailing movement Face had not uttered a single sound. Worried that Face might hurt himself, he tried to place a reassuring hand on his panicked lover's shoulder but Face pulled away from his touch.

"Lieutenant, stand down," Hannibal commanded in his most military voice. "That's an order!"

Face responded to the command by ceasing all movements save his heaving chest. He lay rigidly on the bed; his naked body glistened with sweat as the silk sheets from the bed lay strewn on the floor. He turned his eyes, still wide with fear, toward Hannibal as he gulped large gasps of air and tried to force himself to remain clam.

"Colonel, what's this?" Face asked in a voice tinged with fear.

"I told you," Hannibal explained, "tonight I want to touch you. I want you to relax and let me take control. Let me love you."

"Hannibal, I don't like this. Take them off."

"Good," thought Hannibal, "he's talking to me. The worst should be over. Once he understands what I'm doing, he'll be fine."

"I don't think so, lieutenant," Hannibal said aloud with a lusty grin as he removed his shirt. "I've waited too long to get you like this."

As soon as he said it, he realized how true it was. After being the recipient of Face's sexual proclivity, he was looking forward to making agonizingly slow love to his lieutenant until they were both too tired to move. The thought brought a twitch to his genitals. The anticipating pleasure was doused when he saw Templeton's face; like he had been punched in the gut.

""Damn," thought Hannibal, "what does he think I'm going to do to him."

"You worry too much, lieutenant," Hannibal said reassuringly as he brought down one finger and caressed it along the man's jaw line. "I'm doing this for you."

Face couldn't stop himself from flinching from the Colonel's touch. He cringed as he saw the look of disappointment on Hannibal's face. "Hannibal, I am begging you. Don't do this. Please."

Hannibal tried to mentally step back from the situation he had created. He had remembered that Face could fight as easily with his legs as his hands but he had forgotten how effectively he could turn the tide with his golden tongue. As he listened to his lieutenant's beg to be freed, he wished he had never started this.

But he had. He knew if he continued to listen to Face's pleas, it wouldn't be long before he freed his lover from the restraints. Then he was sure that he would lose him forever. Things had gone too far. He'd never be able to convince Face that it was some ill-conceived joke gone wrong; much less the truth that he had wanted to help him to enjoy all the aspects of making love. That he wanted Face to learn to trust him.

He could only guess at some of the demons that plagued his lover but trust was not something that came easily to him. This exercise was to help him break through the final barrier between them but if it ended with Face feeling threatened or betrayed then he might run; out of the bed, away from the team, out of his life. Hannibal knew he needed to see this through to the bitter end if it had a chance to work. He needed to prove to his lieutenant that all he meant to do was give him pleasure. But he'd never be able to do it looking at those scared eyes or listening to frightened voice.

"He'll understand," Hannibal reassured himself. "He'll forgive this." He picked up the sash to the robe he had pulled off earlier.

Do you trust me?" he asked of his captive. He took a step toward the bed and watched as Face cringed slightly. "Do you trust me?" he demanded in a voice harsher than he intended.

Face gulped back his verbal response and nodded; his eyes fixated on the sash.

"Good," sighed Hannibal in relief. "I don't want for you to get hurt but I do need you to be quiet. This is for your own good. I promise it will be alright."

For an awful moment, he thought Face was going to say something but he only watched, wordlessly, as Hannibal placed a wadded handkerchief in his mouth then carefully secured it with the silk sash.

"That's not too tight, is it?" Hannibal asked willing Face to understand what was happening. He smiled when his prisoner of love shook his head no. "Good. Once you relax, I know you'll like this."

He closed his own eyes so he wouldn't have to watch his beloved's face. He stripped off his pants, opting to stay in his undershirt and shorts hoping it would prove to Face that he had no intention of taking him against his will. He sat on the bed and closed his mind to everything except his desire to make love to the one he pledged his heart to.

He gave light butterfly kisses across Face's checks and down his jawline. He could taste the bitter tang of the salt of his lover's sweat. He hoped it was sweat and not tears; for if it was tears then he was surely lost.

"You're so tense, baby. Just relax. You'll like this. You know you want it. You want me like I want you. Just listen to my voice. Feel me." His kisses and gentle touches moved slowly down the lithe body. His tongue artfully plundered the delightful belly button before his eager mouth continued its downward journey. He felt Face's body give a small shudder in his hands before going limp.

"That's good baby. Real good. Just relax and let me do this. I love you so much."

He didn't know how long it took before he realized that the man in his arms wasn't relaxed but unresponsive. He lifted his head and looked in alarm at Face's eyes; they were cloudy and unfocused as they stared into space. He had seen it in the prison camps in 'Nam and with Murdock in the VA. Men whose body and minds had taken all they could so they withdrew from the horrors of reality.

He pulled himself up and yelled. "Face! Face, can you hear me? Say something!"

He tightly gripped the comatose man by the shoulders and began to shake him. "Lieutenant, answer me! I gave you an order, mister!" But the body only fell, bonelessly, back to the bed when released.

"Oh God, oh God, What have I done?" Hannibal worried anxiously as his shaking fingers sought out a pulse. "I almost raped the man I love."

He quickly undid the gag and removed the cuffs, throwing them as far as he could across the room. He winced at the red marks which encircled Face's wrists and ankles received when he fought against the restraints. He knew Face would fight against the being tied down but in all of his fantasies about how this night was to happen, he had never thought that there would have been marks. He looked guilty at the finger-shaped bruises which began to form on his lover's shoulder and arms. He hadn't meant to have held him so tightly when he tried to force the man to waken and tell him that everything was alright.

Like Adam and Eve banished from paradise, he was suddenly aware of their nakedness and ashamed. He had stripped Face bare before he had started this disastrous lesson in trust while he had retained some of his clothing. Instead of being comforting, he wondered if Face had perceived it as a symbol of his helplessness. He gently dressed Face hoping, that even in his state of unconsciousness, he would feel less vulnerable and waken. A circumstance he both prayed for and feared.

He looked over the results of his handiwork. If Face's eyes had been closed, he would have looked like he was sleeping; if it wasn't for the steady rise and fall of his chest, he looked dead. He tried to make him comfortable in the bed and he prayed Face would forgive him.

"God, I need a drink," thought Hannibal. He didn't want to get drunk because he knew that would make things worse but he needed to think calmly and he couldn't do that while looking at Face.

He picked the discarded sheets, laid it over the too still body, and left for the living room. Once there he poured himself a small Scotch from Face's vast supply of alcohol. He stared at the glass for several minutes before he downed a mouthful and savored the burning sensation as the liquid made it way to his stomach.

"Should have listened to the clerk," he mumbled to himself. He remembered going into the specialty shop to purchase the bedroom cuffs. The clerk had advised him to come up a 'fail safe' word. He had warned that using restraints in the bedroom even if both parties agreed to it. It was important to set up a signal to let the other person know that things had gone too far and had to be stopped.

In his own arrogance, he had chosen to ignore the clerk's advice. He knew his lieutenant, knew every nuance of his body, and knew what was best for him. He had already spent many nights fantasying about this night. He had told himself that if things didn't go exactly as he had planned, he would improvise like he had done numerous times in the field. An unorthodox route could still lead to the finish line. He had never dreamed this would be the results of his actions.

He finished his drink and decided to return to the bedroom so he could be with his partner when he woke. He would watch his lover return to consciousness and, hopefully, decide what to tell him when he woke up; something that would make his lover forgive what he knew he would never forgive himself for doing. As he entered the bedroom, he knew that he would have to rethink his plan. Instead of trying to think what he would say to Face when he woke up, he would have to think what he would say when he found Face as the bed and the room were empty.

Face slowly walked the back roads of the neighborhood. He felt pretty sure that he was in shock. Despite the warm air of the night, he felt cold. His arms were crossed tightly against his chest as he tried to stop himself from shivering. He didn't want to believe what had happened, but it had.

He had been looking forward to a night of intense lovemaking and the safe secure feeling he got falling asleep in Hannibal's arms. It had all changed the moment he felt the steel enclose around his wrists. He had asked and begged the colonel to take them off but Hannibal had been determined to start what he had finished. But what had he been trying to do? And what had he done? Face realized he needed some time to regroup and try to make sense of something that made no sense.

His bare feet hurt against the rough sidewalks but he felt he had to keep moving. He was too vulnerable out in the open. His wandering had not been purposeful but he found himself standing outside the beach house he had secured for Murdock and BA while the team made preparations for their upcoming case.

In the past, the four of them had shared one house when on a mission but he had hoped that he and Hannibal would be able to enjoy some privacy for an unofficial honeymoon since pledging their love for each other.

As he stood outside the house, he knew they would let him in, no questions asked. But they would have questions and, worse, they would call Hannibal. He wasn't ready for that.

He kept in the shadows as he eased his way down to the garage. A few quick hand movements and the garage door opened silently. The black van shone like a beacon of refuge in the darkness. It was probably the closest thing to a home that he had known in his adult life. Certainly he had spent more time in it than any of the numerous places he had scammed, only to be force to leave in a few month.

He climbed into the back of the van. He scrunched up as small as possible against one of the inside corners of the van; unconsciously trying to make himself as small as possible in hopes that they would not see him; those who had hurt him in the past. There had been so many of them over the years of his life.

Alone in the dark, his in replayed the recent events from just before the snap of the cuffs to his escape from the man he loved and trusted. The man who he had thought loved him.

"I was stripped down naked. No, that's not true. I voluntarily let him take my clothes. I was chained down. That's happened a lot in my life for a lot of different reasons, none of them good. I was chained to a bed. That's happened more times than I want to remember though when I was a kid they didn't need chains to restrain me. I asked and begged him to stop. I hadn't done that in a long time, it never did any good. He had been told that he didn't want to hurt me and this was something that I wanted. I don't know why they always say that, it's not true. Why would he do this?"

The differences were glaring but the similarities were too many to ignore. It was like that horrible night in Vietnam. He always feared the repercussions if Hannibal learned what had happened. He had always been afraid that he would be punished and sent away when the story came out. With sickening dread he knew why Hannibal had done what he did, what he didn't know is why the colonel had stopped.

Horribly confused and afraid, Face prayed for the darkness to cover him and never let him go.

When the light finally found him it was stark and overwhelming. He tried to pull himself further into the corner and the darkness; he wasn't ready to face it. He barely heard the conversation around him.

"BA, put the gun down," warned Murdock holding open the back of the van door. "It's Faceman." He had thought he had seen someone stealthfully walking through the darkness. It had taken him a while to convince a reluctant BA to leave during the last few minutes of the game to check out the possibility of a burglary. It had only been the suggestion of teenager looking for a vehicle for a joyride that finally convinced him to check the area.

"Whatcha you doin'? Tryin' to get yourself shot?" demanded BA as he brought his pistol down and took a closer look at his friend. "What's wrong with him?" he whispered to Murdock.

"I don't know," answered Murdock as he climbed into the van and closer to his friend. He worriedly watched as Face seemed to shrink back further, seemingly aware that he was not alone but not knowing if that person was friend or foe. He had only seen Face like this a couple of times; they were times that he didn't want to have to remember.

He slowly moved so he was totally in Face's sight, his hands held forward and downward showing that he was not a threat. "Are you alright?" he asked looking for any obvious signs of injury.

When he did not get a response, he asked another question. "Where's Hannibal?"

A guilty start brought Face out of his self-recriminations. He looked up at Murdock with the eyes of the lost and whispered, "He knows. He knows about Barrister."

Both Murdock and BA were at a loss for words. They both vividly remembered the time they had spent with Major Barrister. He had been a ranking officer, a friend, and a betrayer.

Murdock's eyes turned cold as he thought back on the past. He had done a lot of things working for the CIA and in Vietnam. There were a lot of things that he regretted; Barrister's fate was not one of them.

His eyes softened as he looked at his friend. He looked so helpless, a stark contrast to the cool confident conman he had talked to earlier in the day. He lightly took hold of Face's hand and with BA's help they drew him from the van.

Face pulled back as they neared the door to the house. His eyes flittered between the two men as his mind raced. "Why do they want to take me inside? It's okay, they're my friends. They helped me with Barrister. I can trust them. But I thought I could trust Hannibal. How did he find out? What was he trying to do? What's he going to do when he finds me? No answers."

"Come on, Face," coaxed Murdock. "Let's go inside and you can tell us what happened."

"Shh, little brother," BA said as he slowly reached his arm back and gently tugged on Face's arm. "You're safe here. Come in to the house."

"Why can't I think?" Face asked his voice heavy with despair.

"You're upset," said Murdock. "Come inside and lie down. We can handle it together."

"But it's Hannibal. He's probably looking for me now," Face whispered as his eyes tried to peer into the darkness for its hidden traps.

"It's okay, man," BA assured his friend. "We didn't let Barrister bother you then and we won't let Hannibal bother you now."

"Really," Face said in amazement. "It's Hannibal," he repeated.

"Don't matter none," said BA. "You don't talk to him until you're ready."

Face looked anxiously between his two friends. He didn't want to involve them in his problem but, God help him, he did not want to be alone. Maybe they could help him think. With BA holding his hand and Murdock clutching his shoulder, he let himself be taken into their home.

They slowly got Face into the house and onto the couch. Murdock attempted to question Face about what had happened but Face could only shake his head and repeat nothing or that he didn't know before he shut down and refused to listen to any more questions.

"That's okay, Facey, you don't have to say anything else," Murdock said as he offered Face a cup of hot chocolate. "Here I made it with real milk. It'll help you relax."

Face gratefully took the drink. He was so tired but his mind kept going over the event of the past few hours and the events of so long ago. He sipped the hot fluid and tried to concentrate on the sweet taste of the chocolate as it slid down his throat.

Less than a minute later, Murdock rescued the cup before it fell out of Face's lifeless hand. Murdock straightened Face's head which had fallen back crookedly against the back cushion of the couch.

"What did you put in that chocolate?" BA asked accusingly.

"Just a little sedative," Murdock said defensively. "He's jumping at every sound. His nerves are shot. He needs to rest."

"How do you think he's going to feel when he realizes that you drugged his drink? It's what happened before."

"Don't you even try to compare the two," Murdock said angrily.

"It's not me that's going to be comparing them; it's Face."

Murdock shrugged. "I'm not going to tell him. Hopefully he'll think he just went to sleep. He's probably right about Hannibal coming here and he doesn't need to be awake for that. Let's get him into the bedroom."

"I'll take care of that," BA said as he easily picked Face up and carried the sleeping man into the bedroom.

"I got an extra pair of pajamas we can put on him," said Murdock.

"Nah, he's not going to want anyone else messin' any more with him. Let him sleep in his clothes."

Murdock fussed for a few minutes as he tried to make Face as comfortable as possible. He loosened a few buttons on Face's shirt and pants. His eyes narrowed as he saw the sorry state of his friend's wrists and ankles. They were eerily similar to the time in 'Nam when they had discovered Face in Barrister's tent.

"What do you think happened?" BA asked Murdock in a loud whisper as they walked back into the living room.

"I don't know," Murdock said with tight lips, "but our colonel has some explaining to do. Did you see Face's wrists?"

"Yeah,"BA admitted reluctantly, "but it don't make any sense Hannibal loves him. He'd never hurt Face."

"Something happened. I just don't know how Barrister fits in. That was so long ago."

"When the colonel gets here, remember to listen to his side of the story. There's got to be more going on here."

"Oh, I'll listen," Murdock said, "but I'll tell you one thing, Hannibal's not talking to Face until he's had a chance to put himself together."

BA grunted his agreement and settled back into the chair and waited for their leader to show up.

Hannibal hesitated as he approached the beach house. Part of him realized that he should have consulted with the rest of the team within thirty minutes of discovering Face had gone. But he hadn't wanted to see the condemnation in their eyes when he had to explain how he had let things get so out of control so quickly. He had hoped without a vehicle or even shoes, Face would not have gotten too far but after nearly two hours of fruitless searching he knew he needed to tell Murdock and BA what had happened. He hoped that Face had already reached them and was resting safely in the house though he dreaded what Face would have told them about what had happened.

He was within a few feet of the door when it burst open. He almost took a step back when he saw Murdock's angry countenance as he stomped toward him; the fury radiating from him was almost a living palpable being. At least he knew Face was safe.

"How is he?" Hannibal asked as he noticed BA slowly coming up behind the captain.

"Do you care?" demanded Murdock. "I just don't understand how you could side with that bastard Barrister instead of Face. He loves you. He'd do anything for you."

"Barrister?" asked Hannibal confused. "What does he have to do with any of this?"

"Barrister. I haven't thought about him in a long time," thought Hannibal. Major Barrister had been his best friend. They had gone through West Point together, and joined the army together. He had been the best man at his wedding and wrote the letters of condolences to his parents and wife after he had been killed in a fire fight.

"I don't think he knows what happened with Barrister," BA said. "What happened tonight?"

"Is Face alright?" Hannibal asked.

"He's sleeping," Murdock said. "Now answer the question, what happened tonight."

Hannibal could feel his face getting red as he struggled to remain calm. He knew that getting angry or defensive would only make things worse. "I tried something new and Face didn't like it."

"Well there's an understatement," said Murdock. "He went running out in the middle of the night without shoes."

"We saw the marks on him," said BA. "Did you put cuffs on him?"

"Yes," admitted Hannibal. There was no way to deny it.

"He agreed to that?" BA asked incredulously. "He hates that."

"I didn't ask him," Hannibal said suddenly feeling ashamed. "I just did it."

"No wonder he freaked out," Murdock said. "It was like Barrister all over again."

"What does Rob Barrister have to do with this?" asked Hannibal.

Murdock started to explain.

FLASHBACK

It had been another hot, humid, and miserable day in Vietnam as Captain H.M. Murdock and Sergeant BA Buracose walked toward the officer's hut shared by their commander, Colonel Hannibal smith and his second in command, Major Robert Barrister.

"Ain't nobody here, fool," BA said to Murdock. "Hannibal ain't expected back from headquarters for another couple days and Barrister is at that meeting. Probably won't be back until midnight."

"I know but there's something wrong," Murdock said as he looked around for some kind of clue. "Face was supposed to have met up with us. He's got a big deal cooking. He never would have just backed out without leaving some kind of message."

BA had to admit that the lieutenant's missing their meeting worried him. Face might have been lax in a lot of the military's rules and restriction but when it came to completing a deal or scam he was a complete professional. It wasn't like him to ruin a deal by not showing up. "So what are we doing here?"

"The last thing Face said was he had a meeting with Barrister about tomorrow's mission. I thought he might have left a message here."

"There ain't nothing here. Let's…" the rest of BA's sentence was cut off as they heard a crash inside the hut.

"What was that?" BA asked.

"I don't know," said Murdock as they listened to the light sound of scraping and struggling within the hut. "It sounds like some kind of animal got in there."

"Let's check it out," BA said as he pulled up his rifle.

They cautiously opened the door and peered inside.

"Holy shi..," BA said as he gaped at the scene in front of them. One of the cots in Colonel Smith's and Major Barrister's huts was flipped on its side. His superior officer Lieutenant Templeton Peck hung painfully awkwardly from the cot; his wrists and ankles secured to the cot's frame and a gag tightly tied in his mouth. He continued to frantically thrash against the restraint, blood seeping from his frayed wrists and ankles. But the greatest shock was the lieutenant's total lack of clothes; his body decorated with dark finger shaped bruises.

"BA" shouted Murdock as he ran to a corner of the cot, "help me get him upright."

Shocked out of his stupor, BA ran to the other end of the cot. Peck attempted to lash out at them with his foot but was stopped by the restraint.

"We're here to help you," said BA to the distraught man.

Working together, the two easily righted the cot. BA moved to the head of the bed and worked at pulling the metal posts from the frame while Murdock settled on the bed and started to work on the gag.

"It's okay, muchacho," Murdock said soothingly. "We're not going to hurt you. We're going to get you out of here."

"What happened?" demanded BA.

"Later, BA," said Murdock, "I think he's in shock."

Peck tried to move his tongue around in his dry mouth as his eyes darted around and stayed on Murdock. "Water, please," he asked.

Murdock grabbed the glass of water sitting on the nearby locker. He lifted Peck's head and shoulders up as far as he could given the restraints and brought the glass to Peck's mouth.

The lieutenant drank the water greedily. He shuddered in Murdock's arms and took several deep breathes as he tried to control his racing heart. "We've got to get out of here," he said to his rescuers in a shaky voice.

As BA and Murdock continued to try to pull the cuffs from the frame, Peck closed his eyes and said, "Calm down, calm down. You can think your way through this."

"Sergeant," Peck said in a calm commanding voice, "stop trying to pull those loose. Barrister put the key in his foot locker. Go get it."

BA stared for a moment at the lieutenant who was speaking to him as if he was in the field giving orders to clean the latrine instead of laying bare ass naked chained to a bed. He moved from the cot and went to Barrister's foot locker. He pulled the lock off with one vicious jerk. He didn't see the key laying on top so he upended the entire locker dumping all of its property to the floor. He rummaged through the mess and pulled out a set of keys.

"Got it," said BA.

"Captain," said Peck to Murdock, "my clothes are around here somewhere. Find them."

"On it," Murdock said. He discovered the clothes neatly folded in a corner of the hut. He brought them to the bed just as BA was removing the cuffs.

Peck hissed in pain as he brought his sore arms down to his side and tried to sit up. He clumsily grabbed for his shirt and stuck his arms into the sleeves. His nerveless shaking fingers were unable to manipulate the buttons of the shirt.

"Guys," Peck said as panic began to creep into his voice, "I can't do this and we've got to get out of here."

"Don't worry," Murdock assured him as he and BA sat and helped the lieutenant dress. In spite of Peck's attempts to help, they had him half-hazardly dressed in a few minutes.

"That's good," said Peck as he got to his feet. "We've got to get out of here before he gets back." He tried to take a step but immediately stumbled; his aching feet and legs unable to hold his weight. BA and Murdock caught him before he fell to the ground.

"My feet aren't working right," Peck explained. "Help me take a few steps."

They supported Peck as he took a few steps around the hut. As soon as he could stand and walk without help, he pulled away. "We've got to go," he repeated. "Did anyone see you come in here?" he asked.

"No," said BA. "Come on, we've got to get you to the MPs."

"No," said Peck. "That's not going to work. You guys get out of here and make sure no one sees you. I'll follow behind you."

"That's not going to work," said Murdock. "You need help; we'' go together."

"You shouldn't be seen with me and they can't catch us in here," insisted Peck. "I'll meet you at our hut."

"Don't be talking like a fool," said BA angrily. "We're going to leave here together."

"Okay," agreed Peck, "but not together. New plan. Let me go first and make sure there's no one around. When you hear my signal leave. We'll go back to the hut but let me walk ahead. Act natural and pretend we're not together."

BA was prepared to argue but was stayed by Murdock's hand on his shoulder. He turned to the captain and saw him shake his head no. "Okay," agreed BA silently, We'll humor him for now."

BA and Murdock walked casually behind the lieutenant seemingly engaged in their continuous verbal battle; all the while watching their friend ready to step in if he needed any help. They watched as he appeared to gain more confidence as he traveled through the camp. He even acknowledged a few greetings from the other soldiers that passed him but he never stopped or indicted he was aware of the two men behind him.

Peck entered the hut about five minutes before BA and Murdock. He sat on his cot, wrapped his arms around himself and rocked back and forth for a few minutes. He looked up at BA and Murdock who stood close by watching him with concern.

"Are you sure neither of you left anything behind in there?" Peck asked anxiously.

"Yeah," answered Murdock. "What happened there?"

"Barrister didn't like taking no for an answer," said Peck.

"Damn," said BA though he had already suspected the truth. "What are we going to do about this?"

"Nothing," said Peck.

"Nothing!" shouted BA before dropping back to his regular voice. "What do you mean nothing? You gotta do something! That man…"

"That man," interrupted Peck, "is the second in command of this unit. Who do you think they are going to believe; Mr. Married West Point graduate or the camp whore?"

"Aww, Face," Murdock said reverting to the recently picked nickname for their handsome friend.

"Don't be talking about yourself like that," insisted BA. "It's not true."

"Come on, BA," Peck said bitterly. "Didn't you say I got most of the thing I get on my knees?"

BA found he couldn't look the lieutenant in the eyes as he thought back to the day he had made that comment about all of the special items Peck had been able to secure for the unit. "That was before I knew you. I know it's not true."

"Well, that's one on my side," said Peck. "Two," he added when Murdock snorted.

"Hannibal will believe you," Murdock said. "We'll be your witnesses."

"No," insisted Peck. "Barrister is his best friend. I'm not going to have your lives ruined because I got sloppy."

"What do you mean?" asked Murdock.

"Barrister made a pass at me a couple of weeks ago," Peck shrugged. "I turned him down and I thought he got over it. I should have known better and been more careful."

"There ain't no reason for no body to do that to you," said BA.

Face gave him a hard stare. "It happens."

"Face," Murdock insisted. "Hannibal will believe you. He'll believe us."

"He might at first," Peck admitted, "But once Barrister gets a chance to talk to him, he'll start doubting. Once he starts doubting, I'm not going to be the one he chooses. He'll either think it didn't happen or I led Barrister on."

"The colonel's not like that," said Murdock.

"If a woman who says she wants to be your mother, doesn't believe it when she sees it with her own eyes; what makes you think anyone else would?" asked Peck.

"Whatcha you talking about?" asked BA.

"Nothing," said Peck. "It was a long time ago."

"You can't let Barrister do this to you," persisted Murdock.

"It'll be the last time," said Peck. "He'll know that someone helped me out tonight but he's not going to know who. That will make him nervous. So he's going to have to go slow. If he finds out it was you two, he'll start making your lives miserable, get you or get you transferred out. "

"Hannibal would never do that," said Murdock.

"Barrister has a lot of pull," Peck reminded him. "Anyway, I just have to make sure that I'm never alone with him and I don't accept anything he gives me to drink. He'll lose interest eventually."

"And if he doesn't?" asked BA.

"I'll think of something else. If it gets too bad, I can always transfer out. I've done it before."

"You shouldn't have to be the one to leave," insisted BA.

"Barrister's not stupid. He already told me that no one would believe me if I tried to report it. That he'd tell everyone that I was trying to get him kicked out because he wouldn't go along with a plan to sell weapons on the blackmarket." Face shook his head and brought it down to his hands. "He's got everything figured out. Even if you testify for me, he'll claim I chained myself to his bed so I could be found by you. He could even claim you were working with me to steal those weapons. We were all one more report from being thrown in the brig and dishonorably discharged before we came here."

"But why did he leave you there?" asked Murdock.

Face shuddered. "He wasn't done. He said he'd waited a long time to get me there and he wanted to enjoy it."

"We can't do nothing," BA insisted horrified that an officer he respected had done such a thing to his friend.

"Yes, we can," said Face. "The fact that he doesn't know who helped me is the only thing I've got going for me. If we just act naturally, he's not going to know you helped me. That will make him sloppy. He'll make a mistake."

Despite their arguments, Face refused to do anything which might bring risk to his friends' military careers. The morning brought a new nuance to the situation. Upon Barrister's return, he reported to the military police that someone had broken into his hut, vandalized it, and stole money and a watch. The gossip was that he had no proof who had committed the act but he had strong suspicions.

In the morning, Barrister had lectured the men on the need for trust among the soldiers of the unit and how such base crimes deserved the harshest of punishments. BA and Murdock strove to look slightly bored throughout the speech but the noticed that more than once, Barristers glare was directed at their friend.

After the lecture, the unit left on a simple recon mission, Barrister did not return.

END OF FLASHBACK

"Oh God," said Hannibal shocked that so much could have happened to his team without his knowledge. He thought back to the time period which seemed like another life ago. He had gotten all of the news when he had returned to camp.

The break-in at his hut, the recon mission, a surprise attack, and Barrister shot in the back by an NVG sniper. There had been a few rumors that he had been fragged by his own men. He, himself, had quashed the rumors as he knew Barrister was too fine of an officer to have any of his men hate him that much.

"Did Face..." Hannibal asked as a horrible suspicion erupted in his mind.

"Don't go there." BA said as he pushed Hannibal back a step. "I was with Face the entire time of the fire fight. He wasn't anywhere near Barrister."

"Face wouldn't do something like that," Murdock added.

"I know," said Hannibal. "But there's just so much to think about."

"Well you think about it at your house," said Murdock. "Face will probably sleep until morning. If he wants to talk to you when he wakes up, we'll call you."

"I forgot," thought Hannibal incredulously. "I was so caught up thinking about Barrister that I forgot why Face is here." "He'll want to talk to me," Hannibal said with more confidence than he felt.

"I'm sure he will," Murdock told his commander. "But let us watch over him tonight. You both need some space."

"No, I don't," thought Hannibal. "I need him. But I can't push him any more tonight."

"Okay, "agreed Hannibal reluctantly. "But let him know that I didn't mean to hurt or scare him. He knows how I feel about him." He slowly turned his back to his friends and started the long walk back to his house feeling every year of his age.

As they watched him leave, Murdock turned to BA and asked, "Were you with Face the entire time?"

"No," admitted BA. "I lost sight of him and Barrister right after it started.

Murdock nodded his head and the two of them walked back into the house to watch over his friend. It had been weeks since he had suffered from nightmares but they suspected he would have them tonight.

And they had been right.

It had been a long night with way too little sleep. Hannibal tried to wipe the grit from his eyes as his mind kept returning to the events of the night before and to his friend, Barrister.

It wasn't a question of whether or not he believed his men; he did. But it brought into question what he really knew about anyone. He had been too good a friend to Barrister for too long not to know that he preferred men. Creatures of their generation and the military culture, he had not faulted his friend for finding a woman and marrying her. Many men of their ilk did; some to help suppress their desires for sex with other men and others as a cover for society. Barrister was the latter. He didn't know if Barrister's wife knew of his preferences but he did know that his friend had continued in his indulgences throughout the marriage. They had even shared a bed a few times. But while it satisfied a physical need, there had been no emotional satisfaction in the act.

If he was honest, he could admit that Barrister liked sex rougher than he did but he had never heard any talk that his friend had taken liberties with the men under his command or had forced himself on anyone. He had always considered Barrister too honorable to commit such a base act.

Hannibal remembered the first time they had seen Lieutenant Templeton Peck as he disembarked from the plane, prior to being assigned. He and Barrister had both commented on Peck's youth and exceptional good looks. The memory of the lieutenant's lithe graceful figure had stayed with them. It had been talked about that evening when the conversation had gotten raunchier as the night progressed and they imbibed in alcohol.

As he looked back, he could not remember exactly what each of them had said but there had been an uneasy feeling that a line had been crossed. There was a memory of Barrister sheepishly shrugging his shoulders and saying he hadn't meant it as it sounded. When Peck got assigned to his unit, all such talk ceased and the lieutenant was afforded the respect he gave all the men under his command. But sometimes Barrister would slip and sometimes the look in his friend's eyes as he watched the lieutenant had made him nervous.

That Barrister had committed such an act while under his command and Face had not felt he could report made him wonder what else he didn't know about or had gotten wrong.

Given this new information, it was small wonder his lieutenant had reacted as he did. He had known that Face had more than enough offers from women and men for sexual favors. He had suspected his lieutenant had been the victim of a sexual assault but Templeton seldom talked about his past. Given how sensual Face was as a lover, Hannibal had assumed that nothing in his past had left any lasting scars.

He had been wrong. Now that he looked back with different eyes, he realized there had been clues from Face's initial dislike of being touched to his need to be in control of their lovemaking. Things that would have warned him if he had been an attentive enough lover and asked the right questions. But he had decided to formulate a plan based on his wants and needs. His plan of action had been a straight attack through the front door as he barreled ahead regardless of the results. As such he had traumatized the man he loved by bringing up dark memories. Now there was a chance he could lose Face for good.

Morning found him sitting out on the porch of his home looking down the street and within reach of the telephone. He had suppressed his urge to call Face; not wanting force him into making a decision he was not ready to make.

It was mid-morning by the time he saw the team van headed for the house. A spike of fear pierced his heart when he realized BA was the only person in the vehicle. He tried to remind himself that there could be reason why Face had not chosen to return to the house. Those excuses gave him little comfort as he walked up to meet BA.

"Well?" asked Hannibal barely able to breath.

"Face asked me to get his clothes," answered BA as he continued for the house.

For a moment, Hannibal felt the earth shift under his feet as the pounding in his head became deafening. He had destroyed everything. Face was leaving him and couldn't even stand to see him again. Hannibal felt his knees start to buckle when he a large hand rested on his shoulder and gave it a shake. He opened the eyes that he hadn't realized he had closed and looked into BA's concerned stare.

"No, man," said BA. "It ain't like that. Face said he wants to come see you but he wants clean clothes and shoes."

Relief washed through Hannibal like a spring rain. "Just like Face," he thought. "He's feeling insecure and wants to cover it in clothes."

"How is he?" he asked.

"He says he's okay and he over-reacted. But I can tell he's still upset."

"Do you think he'll forgive me?"

"Humph," BA snorted. "You know Face he's already convinced he's the one that needs to be forgiven. He says he'll be over as soon as he changes. Says he'll be about an hour but I'd give him two."

"Thanks, BA. Tell him he can take as long as he wants. I'll be here."

BA nodded and went into the house. About ten minutes later, he came out carrying a handful of clothes and a pair of shoes.

Hannibal looked over at the items BA was taking to the van. He knew there was a lot you could tell by the clothes Face chose to wear. "Expensive pants, jacket, undershirt, shirt and vest; whites and light blues. He's scared and looking for forgiveness. Aw babe, you didn't do anything wrong."

As he watched the van leave, he realized that it would be about lunch time when Face came to the house. "He'll probably be hungry," Hannibal thought. As he waited for the man he loved and betrayed to return to him, he came up with a new plan.

It was about one hundred and thirty-five minutes later, when Face waved off BA and Murdock and headed for the house. Murdock had wanted to go with him into the house but BA had convinced him that things would be okay then just dragged him back by the shirt collar when he still wanted to stay. Face was grateful to BA for his interference; it would be hard enough to face Hannibal without adding an audience to the mix. He hoped he looked more confident than he felt.

He was slightly surprised that he didn't see any sign of Hannibal as he approached the house. He knew it had taken him longer to get ready than he had said but he had wanted to look just right when he pleaded with the man he loved to give him another chance.

"Probably decided I wasn't worth the trouble," thought Face as he entered his home. "How could I compared the two of them?" The Colonel would never force himself on someone. He was an honorable man who had too much integrity. That and his own baggage from the past had prevented them for admitting the feelings that they had for each other. It had taken a week trapped together in a small cabin to force Hannibal to waylay his honor and him to let go of his past. Since then Smith had been everything he had every wanted in a lover and friend.

But he had never completely been able to forget the past. And now it threatened to destroy everything. Face knew he would do anything to stop that from happening.

Upon entering the kitchen, his nose was assaulted by the smell of potato soup. It was one of his favorite things to have for lunch. He smiled as he saw Hannibal hunkered down over a large boiling pot.

"They'll know it was you, if you poison me," Face said with a laughing tilt in his voice.

Hannibal gave a start at his lover behind him. He had been so intent on making the perfect lunch that he had lost track of time. "No problems," he said as he returned the smile. "I'm following the recipe to the letter."

"That will be a nice surprise from last time," Face said referencing Hannibal's last attempt to make soup which had used a lot of improvision and inspiration to make a foul smelling goop which had emptied the house.

"It's ready, if you're hungry," Hannibal said.

"Sounds good."

Face sat down at the breakfast table while Hannibal brought the soup and turkey sandwiches. They ate in relative peace; both happy to be back together but knowing they needed to talk. He was grateful that the colonel did not seem to be angry with him though he had every right to be. As he finished his meal, he decided it he would need to lay his cards on the table if he was ever going to be able to regain his lover's trust.

"Hannibal, I'm sorry," Face said as he stared contritely at his empty soup bowl.

Though he had been expecting an apology, it still surprised him. Face had a bad tendency of feeling guilty about everything that happened even when he was the victim.

"Temp," Hannibal said as he clasped the young man's hand, "you have nothing to be sorry for. I'm the one who's sorry."

"No," Face said. "I over-reacted. I brought BA and Murdock into our personal business. I'm sure I embarrassed you."

"They're family and they're worried about you. I shouldn't have sprung that out on you like I did."

As he was reminded of their last time together, Face flinched nearly pulling his hand out of Hannibal's loving grip. Though it was difficult to think about, much less put into word, Face knew Hannibal deserved an explanation. "It brought up a lot of bad memories, right down to the way you kept using my rank instead of my name."

"I do that when I'm nervous and when I want you to do what I say. But I don't want to force you to do anything you don't want to do," Hannibal said hoping his words made sense.

"I know. At first I was just scared but later I thought that somehow you had found out about Barrister and wanted to punish me. I've always thought you'd blame me for what happened."

Hannibal reached one hand out and pulled up Face's chin so he could look him in the eye. "Kid, if I had known that he was going to try something like that; I would have shot him myself."

Surprise and hurt flashed in Face's eyes. "I didn't…"

"I didn't say that you did, kid."

Face looked back down again as a blush started across his features. He wondered why it was so easy to be physically intimate with someone but so hard to talk about it. "Then why?"

Hannibal slowly brought Face's hand to his mouth and kissed it. He wanted to make sure his words would be understood. "Temp, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But sometimes it feels like you're making love to me but I'm just having sex with you."

"That's not true. I never meant for you to feel like that."

"You always love me so completely and thoroughly," Hannibal said as he accented every word with another kiss to Face's hand, "but when it comes to your own pleasures you short yourself. I wanted to make sure you're enjoying it."

"I love every minute we spend together."

"I wanted you to enjoy it more. I'm sorry I tried this first without talking to you but I was sure that you'd say no and I was so sure I knew what was best for you."

"I don't like restraints. They make me feel trapped."

"I know and I'm sorry."

"But you liked having me like that. I saw it in your eyes. That scared me."

"No," Hannibal stressed loudly. "I've had a lot of fantasies about making love to you very slowly and pleasuring you. I thought restraints were the best way to do it but not if you don't want it."

"I don't like not being in control," Face admitted. "I never know when it's going to stop or what's going to happen."

"It starts when you say it starts and it stops when you say it stops."

"Do you know how many times in my life I've screamed for it to stop? It never did. Most of the times that just made it worse."

"When you say stop, I'll stop," Hannibal promised.

"You didn't this time."

"I didn't understand. I do now. I'll stop."

"I trust you but it's hard to think about that."

"It's okay. We don't have to do anything that you don't want to.

"No," said Face. "I want to make you happy."

"This isn't about making me happy. This is about you; about both of us. But not if you're not ready."

"I want you to make love to me, Hannibal," Face said. "However you want to," he thought, "I know you won't hurt me."

"I want that too." Hannibal melted in those beautiful trusting eyes but he could see the fears that still lived in Face's soul. It had taken a lifetime to put them there and they would not be removed overnight. This moment was going to begin the seduction of his lieutenant. He would work at it until he removed all of the pain and the doubts from the past. And he would see if unconditional love and tenderness could do what cold steel could not.

THE END