A/N: This scene originally took place at the end of a book where Face and Hannibal meet in Vietnam and was written with someone else. In the end this scene in particular was used to pinpoint some elements and interactions with the two characters that the Monkeeshines conglomerate does not wish to highlight and/or base a series off of. So in that regard it can be considered AU. However, it is one of the few scenes of the book that was completely edited and because we feel that the writing was well done, we decided to post it despite our qualms with the content.


Face leaned his back against the rough bark of the tree. It hurt like hell to lower himself down to sit on the ground like that, but the idea of being around all the people in the dispensary right now made his skin crawl. He knew they couldn't see it – all of those things that Ivan had so willfully pointed out. But if a man he'd never met could see it, and someone like Smith could use it, who was to say nobody else would. And he just couldn't find the energy or the willpower to rebuild those walls.

The pain meds didn't help with that. They were only part of the problem though. He couldn't focus. Every time he flashed that smile as though he had no care in the world, it fell short. He could feel and the world could see it. And it left him exposed to everything he was trying to get away from.

He'd finally managed to slip out unnoticed when a team came in shot to pieces. No doubt lead into battle by some brave soul who didn't give a damn about anything other than medals and promotion. He scoffed to himself at that as lifeless eyes stared blankly out over the water. They were all the same; self-righteous bastards. And he'd been an idiot to think for even a moment that perhaps Smith would turn out to be different.

He ran his thumb over chamber of the revolver. Smooth metal, somehow still cold to the touch even in the heat. It wouldn't take much. A quick twitch of his finger and it would all be over. No more of this bullshit. This unequivocal pain that radiated from the inside that he had no way to stop. He did have a way to stop it. Under the chin, straight through the brain. And not a soul in the world would miss him. Someone would eventually stumble onto him in a few days. Probably when the smell got so bad that they couldn't ignore it anymore.

The back of his eyes were stinging. The tears welling up and making the gun blurry. He took his finger off of the trigger and against the barrel instead. He closed his eyes and rested the back of his head against the tree, deep breaths coming more rapidly than he wanted. Come on, Face, get it together. Stop fucking thinking and just get it done.

He was so lost in those deep dark corners of his mind that he never heard Hannibal approach until his voice cut in. The ringing in his ears and the confusion in his brain didn't help. Suddenly Hannibal was standing there, startling Face out of his thoughts. He jerked his eyes open, his ribs screaming at the sudden movement as he looked around to locate Hannibal. He regretted it instantly and dropped his head down again so that his red eyes were out of view. The last thing he wanted was anyone seeing the raw emotion that was there. He didn't need long, just a moment to get things under control again. Face ran a hand over his eyes and back through his hair.

Smith had said something to him. He needed to respond. What was it? He searched his recall, sorting through the layers and coming up empty. The words were just too far out of his grasp to make any sense and only getting further away.

"What?" His voice cracked and he cleared his throat before looking up again. "Sorry, I didn't catch... I wasn't..." He closed his eyes again for a moment and shook his head slightly to himself. Get it together. Deep breath as he pulled a coherent thought together. It didn't happen. Instead he raised a questioning brow up to Hannibal and waited.

Hannibal remained still, holding paper's out in his direction. "You're discharge."

Face hadn't been expecting that. Either way he needed to take the papers instead of sit there. He rested the gun in his lap as he shifted his weight, grimacing even from the small movements as he reached for the papers. He didn't bother opening them. Simply placing the useless document next to him. There was nothing back in the states for him. Just like there was nothing here or anywhere else in the world anymore. He could feel that heaviness in his chest threatening to boil over again. Just don't think about it. All he had to do was wait until Smith was gone again. It wouldn't take long.

"For what it's worth, all your medical expenses will be covered. If I were you, I'd hold off on anything non-life threatening 'til you get back to the world." With that, Hannibal took a step back and turned away. "Have a good life kid. Hope you find what you're looking for."

The back of his eyes were suddenly burning again. He wasn't searching for anything! Why did that simple statement feel like an icepick had been dug into the core of him? It didn't matter. He could swallow it. Push it down where it couldn't touch him. "Why'd you do it?" His voice was strained with emotion he didn't know how to control. He shouldn't have asked that. He didn't need or even want to know. Just let Smith go. Put a bullet in his head and call it good. Whatever Smith's answer was, it didn't make a damn bit of difference.

And yet Smith stopped and there was no taking the words back as he looked at Face. "Do what?"

A dry laugh escaped him. He should have known better. In fact, he did know better. For some reason beyond his comprehension he pushed himself up off of the ground, using the tree for leverage as the world spun for just a moment at the change in elevation. The gun still loosely gripped in his hand as he limped forward. "You sold me out." It took him a moment to sort through the jumbled thoughts. Half formed and taunting him as he fought to grasp them. "I asked around about you. You know what everyone said?" Words began spilling from him too quick to keep track of. "Hannibal Smith is a guy you want to serve under. He's got your back. He'll go down for his crew. Everyone I talked to said the same. Damn. Thing." A cruel cynical laugh escaped him again. The hand with the gun finding the side of his head as he ran it back and forth against his hair as though he could physically force his thoughts to straighten out.

Hannibal's eyes narrowed slightly, his voice hard and unrelenting. "I will go down for my team. In a heartbeat. And I won't let anyone or anything come close enough to destroy us from the inside out. Not even you."

"You came to ME!" he shot back. "If I had anything to do with orchestrating this, the last thing I would have gotten out of it was a trip back to the states." Why was he still talking? Let him leave. Then this would all be over. That solid pistol grip in his hand a comforting friend as everything he'd ever known cascaded out of his control and words continued to tumble from him. "You've got the whole world fooled and I was dumb enough to buy into it. I just can't figure out why you would go through all the effort of making everyone think you're so selfless when in reality you're just as much of a self-righteous bastard as everyone else I've ever dealt with!" The emotion was raw and more and more out of control, by the end of it tears were welling up in his eyes again and his voice was cracking with quickened breaths.

Hannibal didn't turn and leave, instead staring him down. His voice calm and collected as though he were reciting facts from a book. "You were here to use my team for your get out of jail free card. And I was fine with that because in the meantime we used you to accomplish our mission. So now that our mutual usury is finished, we can go our separate ways."

Then leave! Please God, why wouldn't he just leave? It would be quick. A moment of no thought. A twitch of his finger.

"Tell me, other than buying into your lines, how the hell am I a threat to you and this team that I was supposedly apart of - or wasn't at all?" He didn't know anymore where he'd ever stood. It was clouded. Face had been wrong, he knew that much. Ivan had informed him of that and it was true. The logic and emotion competing for dominance. Logic won out in the end. It always did. "I told you," his voice was tight in his throat again, "I flat out told you I'd do the job and I'd play your game." He took a deep breath and looked away for a moment, hot tears cascading down his cheeks. He should be wiping them away, but he just couldn't find the energy to care.

Hannibal didn't move. Just stood there watching him with scrutinizing eyes. The same ones that had been able to read him so easily that he'd been used and tossed away blindly without ever even knowing it. "And I'm sure you can understand why your track record didn't exactly lead me to take you at your word."

"That's irony for you."

Piercing blue eyes bore through Face's as he looked back up to meet Hannibal's stare. "Can you honestly tell me that you would have done any differently? That you would have put it all on the line for someone you couldn't trust?"

"Apparently I did." Face looked away. He shouldn't have admitted that. There was no safety there, but he was bone tired and the medication wasn't helping. Too many emotions flashing across his eyes for him to be able to even try hide. He had no defenses left. Ivan had taken care of that. Smith reinforcing everything the Russian had said.

Face had known for a long time, but denial was a powerful thing. And now it was gone. He was worthless and untrustworthy and nobody cared or wanted him around. That had been a simple fact from the moment he was born. And it didn't matter what he tried or did, in the end, it always ended the same way.

Face could feel Hannibal's eyes on him like a physical sensation. Studying him. Reading him like a God damned book. Why wasn't he leaving? He didn't want anything to do with Face. And damn it, Face didn't want anything to do with him!

"You got your papers." Face glanced back up at the sudden quietness of Smith's voice. Why the change, it made no sense. "What more do you want? You never gave me any reason to think – any way to think, when I wanted to – that you gave a damn about anything but saving your own skin. At the expense of your team, your country, your honor -"

"You don't know shit about me or my honor!" The anger in his voice driven from deep inside of him. Some well protected core that he was unaware he even still cared about or had.

Hannibal didn't pause, "All of it together wasn't enough to buy your loyalty." A deep penetrating stare that was looking for something in Face that made sense. Something that made Face entirely uncomfortable and all together vulnerable. Pieces that fit together like a puzzle – the ones that were missing. "All you wanted was to get the hell out of Vietnam. So go. I don't know what more you want me to say."

"I wasn't just saving my skin because I don't like getting shot at. It was because I wanted my honor intact to whatever degree I still had. My country trains merciless killers who have no code of honor. Who will destroy and mutilate a whole village of innocent people and never see a day of recourse because it was done in the name of "freedom"." The disgust had him taking a step forward, meeting Hannibal's measuring gaze head on.

That disgust came through in a sickened laugh as he shook his head. It had all been for nothing in the end. "John Coldwater had that chance. Templeton Peck..." He let trail off before he finished. Templeton Peck was a lost cause. And as soon as Smith left, like everyone did, he'd put a bullet in his head and call it good.

He saw it coming. If Smith was searching him for those pieces, he'd find what everyone else eventually did and leave. He clamped his still swollen jaw shut against it. That pain searing through him just like he knew it would, taking the focus off of what he knew was coming.

A deafening silence reigned for a long moment as Face's mind swirled. Ivan's words jumbled with Smith's. The pain meds blending them together. Hannibal's voice, quiet and almost gentle caught him off guard. "War is a bitch, kid. I'm not saying its right – whatever happened back there, whatever made you stop caring – because it's not. It's not right, and it's not okay. But it's a fact."

Face looked away as his brow furrowed. He could feel that lump in his throat as the memories came dangerously close to the surface. The looks in their eyes. Scared and defenseless. He clamped his eyes shut. Don't!

"Whether you like it or not, the fact remains, you are a US soldier. And you will be no matter how far you run or whose name you steal."

Tears were streaking down his cheeks again. He couldn't stop them now. He'd lost that fight with control the moment those memories had threatened him. "I've got no place left to run." He took an uncoordinated step back and leaned against the tree, his leg weak from holding him up, the gun heavy in his hand. It would be so easy to end this right now. Smith wouldn't be able to stop him. Hell, he probably wouldn't even try.

"Then where the hell are you going?"

"I don't know anymore." He flexed his fingers around the weight of the gun. Uncontrollable emotions had him tapping the gun against his thigh. Some physical release of the emotion he couldn't expel.

"The whole time you've been here, you've been running your own agenda. Trying to figure out just how close you can walk to the edge without actually breaking those rules I've had to set. The only thing you've given a damn about, far as I can tell, is that piece of paper. So you're just running blindly to nowhere?"

The last of the strength in Face's legs gave out and his back slid down the tree until he was on the ground again. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, hands wrapped around the back of his head with no regard for where that gun wound up pointing. It was only deep seeded training that kept his finger off of that trigger. "I had it all figure out and then Murdock responded to your mayday call. The moment that happened I was fucked. Dead or in jail." A deep sob that he wasn't expecting caught his voice. "I never wanted that paper – I've got nothing in the states. I wanted to stay out of jail." He clamped his eyes shut so tight they hurt, his breaths coming quicker as the emotion got more and more out of control. "I told you, I'm not going back."

"So where are you going?"

"I've got nothing left." He shook his head, his forehead rocking against his knees as the absolute emptiness of his life made its totality known. His breathing was too quick, the tape holding his ribs in place refusing to allow his chest to expand enough.

"You've made it pretty clear you don't want to be here."

Deep breaths. He needed to slow it down. In through the nose, out through the mouth. This would all be over soon enough. He cycled through it a couple times. His chest screaming in pain as his lungs burned with a lack of oxygen before he finally managed to get it under control. "Put a bullet in my head and call it good." He couldn't tell if that was a thought or a whisper, or even a breath.

He lost track of time, it didn't matter anyway, there was no more on the horizon for him but vast emptiness. He didn't know how long he'd been sitting there, silence only broken by his strained sobs. But when he finally managed to look up again Smith was crouched in front of him. "Why the hell would you do that when you have Charlie to do it for you? Especially if, in the meantime, you might actually accomplish some good in this god-forsaken hell hole."

Lifeless anguished eyes met Hannibal's searching ones. They pierced right through him as those scared innocent eyes of "Charlie" flashed before him again. Their screams, pleading for their lives or at least a quick death. "I don't want to feel this way anymore."

"What way?"

He couldn't possibly want an answer to that. Nobody had ever asked that before. Face's eyes glazed over and he lost sight of Hannibal as he tried to sort through those layers. He'd never been able to identify it. He'd never had to. He'd just buried in the past and not looked back. "Lost." His voice was empty and hollow, shaking has he exhaled. "Empty. Alone." He wasn't saying that. He didn't even recognize the voice – it was too far away and out of focus. He couldn't possibly be saying those things. A stranger who'd compromised himself. Who could never deny it. "Worthless." His voice cracked and suddenly it was real. That voice was his and Hannibal Smith bore witness to it all with a studious unflinching gaze.

His hands were shaking and his skin felt as though a thousand spiders were crawling on him. But he couldn't move. Exposed and frozen in genuine fear and unkempt turmoil. He was absolutely vulnerable for the first time since he'd come to Smith. No lies, half-truths, or selfish defense mechanisms to protect himself.

Hannibal's voice was quiet, almost delicate. "Stay with this team. I can't promise you purpose, but I can promise you won't be alone."

Face stared at him blankly. The words echoing around before they made themselves clear. And then they made no sense at all. That blank stare placarding him. Some part of his brain was still engaged, but he'd be damned if he could figure out what part was still functioning enough to form a sentence. "Why would you do that?"

"Because I could use another man who's not afraid to take a bullet."

But, that... he frowned. "Why?" Face nodded slowly at that as things began to make sense again. Special Forces team got shot to hell on a regular basis. You were lucky to survive a few drops on them. There was nothing else for him and could think of worse ways to go. Hell, he'd experienced worse ways to go recently. "I don't want to turn into a monster." He blinked a few times, forcing his eyes to focus again. "What will happen to the charges?"

Hannibal shrugged slightly. "I'll take care of it."