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“Face?”

No response. Poking his head through the partially opened door Hannibal heard nothing, absolutely nothing. No voice, no footfalls, not even the hum of electronics disturbed the dead calm.

Dead calm. The phrase inched it’s way to his conscious. With the door now fully opened, the tinny percussion of keys rattled as he dislodged the spare from the lock. Face had given him the key long ago, “Just in case,” he had been told.

“Face?” His voice sounded unnaturally loud in the silence of the apartment.

The kid wasn’t in the living room nor beyond in the dining room. A glance to his left revealed nothing immediately out of the ordinary in the kitchen. But something niggled at his brain, something had tripped an alarm. “Spartan” came to mind.

Odd. There had been expensive appliances lined up under the kitchen cabinets, but they had gone missing. A Cuisinart food processor and Kitchenaid stand mixer in particular were not in evidence. Taking several steps in that direction exposed more of the room to him.

The lithograph that had once hung facing the doorway was gone. Only a remembrance was there now. The brighter rectangle of wall surrounded by a shadow of discolored paint; within the pale patch, a single nail.

“What are you doing here?”

Hannibal spun at the sound of the voice, low and raspy. Face stood in the doorway of the hall leading to the bedrooms. Shirtless, his sweatpants hung precariously loose on his hips.

“Came to see you.”

“What do you want?” Face’s voice was another register lower. Hannibal thought it sounded threatening, or maybe only en garde.

The kid seemed a little unsteady on his feet, a slight sway in his stance.

“Been drinking, Kid?

“What do you want?” Face repeated.

“We’ve been worried about you, me and the guys. We’ve tried calling, but you haven’t answered, haven’t returned messages. Even called Sosa. She wasn’t answering either. Murdock said you didn’t come to the door when he stopped by earlier.”

“Well here I am. You can go now.”

With shades drawn the apartment was dim, but not so much Hannibal couldn’t see Face hadn’t shaved in days, the beard emphasizing the hollowness of his eyes. Dark smudging below each had him questioning if they were bruised. A stumble momentarily took away enough shadow for it to be clear his eyes were simply bloodshot, tired and heartbreakingly raw.

Hannibal’s gaze shifted past Face’s shoulder, another nail in the wall having also lost its purpose. Same as in the kitchen. It was dawning on him. A quick scan around the room confirmed what he suspected.

“How long has she been gone, Face?”

 

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They had been back from the desert for closing in on five months now. He knew the man didn’t want to hear it, so Hannibal thanked Russ silently for this reprieve with the delivery of a fine blend of scotch. His boys needed the break, hell, he needed it. They had temporarily been reassigned and spread out over the base. Murdock even took short excursions, flying to other bases, but was always back “home” to Benning within the week.

The four met up at least every other week to watch a game or simply to have a few beers over pizza. Unsurprisingly, Hannibal and Face saw more of each other than the others, but that’s always as it had been. Hannibal had to admit though, Face kept close to him. Stuck close by after the debacle of Sosa’s abandonment. It had been going on a year and half, but Face was still healing. Although, on this particular rotation Hannibal had been a little distant, maybe not as available as he had been in the past. Nothing dramatic, nothing overt, just not always there at a moment’s notice.

Sure, couples break up all the time and for a myriad of reasons, but Hannibal could only characterize the demise of Face and Sosa’s relationship as cruel. She had swept in, with her eyes on Hannibal if he remembered correctly, only to be rebuffed before setting her sights on Face. Hannibal had likened her to the proverbial Yoko of their team.

He recalled how she had driven a wedge between Face and Murdock, no easy feat. Theirs was a bromance to rival some of history’s best: Butch and Sundance; Sherlock and Watson. Those historical figures had nothing on the goofy friendship that developed between the two men.

She had also dashed forever any hopes Hannibal had of taking a new path in the relationship between himself and Face. Truth be told, Hannibal had carried a torch for his young man for years. Never acting on it, thinking it would be best to wait for a fully matured Face. He wanted absolutely no semblance, no hint of coercion by an older officer. He had known for years Face batted for both teams. It wouldn’t be a matter of induction or just wishful thinking. The only problem with his planning was he waited too long.

So instead of being the lucky one Face went home to, he along with his other boys did their best to glue the shreds of Face’s broken heart back together. Bad enough they had set a date for the wedding, but the unnecessary revelation Sosa had only used him for his contacts, used him as a hub for her never ending networking efforts all for the purpose of climbing her way up, had been a viscous twist of the knife.

Hannibal’s heart ached for the kid. There had been many a drowning drunken night. There had been days filled with rage, and others overrun in despair and melancholy. He was there for Face as much as he could be; although, not as much as he wanted to be. He made a pact with himself in the bathroom mirror one morning. He would not thread his way in as a rebound. They both deserved better than that.

 

The pool hall had a definite Hopperesque atmosphere to it. The only thing missing was the ubiquitous haze of smoke. Not only as a man who enjoyed his cigars, Hannibal missed smokey bars and clubs, he felt some establishments simply didn’t clean up well. The fog from cigarettes could, as in this case, disguise many a blemish.

He and Face had met outside Hannibal’s office. The Colonel on his way home, the Lieutenant on his way to detour that endeavor. Hannibal had to laugh when he saw the kid.

“What’s up, Face?”

“Thought I’d see if I could talk you into a beer or five.” Face missed Hannibal. They weren’t spending as much time together on this rotation home as was their custom and Face was feeling a little adrift.

“Who’s buying? You or me?” Hannibal was smirking.

“Which answer will convince you to join me?”

That long arm was across Face’s shoulder. “Come on, Kid. We’ll work out the details as we go.”

 

Each of the tables along the walls of the Americana’s pool room were illuminated by a single dim bulb placed within a hanging fixture. Cracked and deteriorated shades diffused the light downward over their sweating bottles and empties. The tables were along two walls forming an “L” around the pool tables, presumably for an audience to watch the play. Only one of the wooden sets had been occupied by enthusiasts though. And truth be told, it wasn’t the art of the game that held their fascination as much as which player they had wagered on.

“Shoot a game, Boss?”

“I don’t care to, but go ahead and pick one up. I’ll watch.”

“I don’t want to do that. I invited you out. Not going to leave you sittin’ here.”

“I didn’t realize this was a date,” Hannibal teased.

“It wasn’t, but you know, I’m easy.” Face laughed.

“I wouldn’t let that get out if I were you,” Hannibal was laughing along.

“Cat’s already out of the bag on that one. Think it’s even scratched into the wall in the bathroom.”

This was fun. Face genuinely enjoyed Hannibal’s company. There was an easiness about them that made Face feel cocooned. How had he managed to not only get assigned to the superstar CO, but become his second, his XO, his friend? And with another beer under his belt, maybe he could be a little more. Something he had pined over for many years and which had only amplified since Sosa’s departure.

Hannibal had always exuded a presence of manliness. Without being macho it was also clear one would be wise not to mess with him. He was a man’s man. Face had read the demeanor as straight. Maybe shadows of fluidity, but none to be dabbled with. At least he read it that way until the night he watched as his presumably straight CO exited the gay bar Face himself was headed for in Atlanta, the Colonel with one of those long arms around another male patron.

He couldn’t decide if the sighting was good or bad. Had Face been there ten minutes earlier it could have been him whom the Colonel was now opening the door of his SUV for. It could have gone the way of embarrassingly avoiding eye contact too.

Nonetheless, here they were in the pool room of a bar with Face fully aware of Hannibal’s tastes. Without being overt, he had dropped hints in the past few months to let the Colonel know his focus wasn’t what you would call narrow. Hints that were specifically engineered to be read clearly. It wasn’t long after Sosa left he began to envision himself with his CO. Hannibal, for his part, never acknowledged or at least never played into the attraction. Although prior to his involvement with Sosa, the two had enjoyed a bit of playful flirting. Face often wondered if a time would come when he and Hannibal, no, John, would take a step toward something he had been careful only to allow flit along in his periphery.

They had settled into a silence with each other, allowing the surrounding atmosphere to fill the void. The rowdiness coming from the main room of the bar was a pounding beat of conversation streaked with music, shrieks and laughter, its volume rising and falling.

Here in the pool room it was quieter. More like a steady hum. It’s smooth machine-like drone regularly broken by the crack of billiard balls being scattered across a table. The occasional groan tempered by equal shouts of, “Ha!” as the last pocket was called and landed. Or a more dramatic disruption, when the impossible bank shot made a beeline to drop in its destination pocket. Both were followed by players and spectators mumbling as money changed hands between winners and losers.

Face’s attention and impossibly blue eyes moved from the gaming back to his companion. Each breaking into a smile before lifting their beer bottles in concert. The Lieutenant’s focus was lost as his sight followed the path dictated by the lift of his chin and backward tilt of his head. Draining the last of the brew his Adam’s apple settled from it’s pulsating rhythm. Selecting another from the ice bucket in the center of their table he cracked it open only to dive at it with his mouth as it threatened to fountain upward. The disaster averted he wrapped his lips around the tip to capture the bit of ale clinging to the thread where the cap had been secured. His eyes lifting to see Hannibal watching, expressionless.

Caught staring at the masculine display of Face’s apple bobbing followed by those lips secured around the bottle, encircling it, cheeks hollowed ... he was brought up short by Face’s focus returning to land directly on him.

Face didn’t miss it. The smile he slid into wasn’t returned. Instead Hannibal took in a deep breath letting it out as he adjusted himself to sit up straighter. He licked his lips before taking another swig from his own bottle, turning his head toward the closest table where balls skittered about after the break.

He wasn’t mistaken. Face was sure of what he saw there. Maybe a little bottled courage was all they needed. The possibility flared. After biding his time for so long he had to know. Was it their time now?

Finishing their beers they rose, an unspoken agreement between them. They had been together so long it was typical for each to know the other was ready to head out, much like their habit of finishing each other’s sentences. Face slapped the bar to get the keeper’s attention in order to palm a tip into the tattooed young woman’s hand.

Hannibal was at the door when he caught up. The Colonel swung it open, pausing to the side allowing Face to pass through first. They headed down the sidewalk toward Hannibal’s Land Rover. No matter where they were they presented an impressive image: two tall men, shoulders straight, long legs striding.

Without warning Face grabbed at Hannibal’s hand, easily pulling him into a narrow gangway. Fifteen feet in he thumped his back to the brick exterior. Bringing Hannibal’s hand to his waist he tugged at the man’s shirt grasping for purchase around the back of his neck, pulling him in.

For only a few heartbeats Face wavered, became still. In the fading daylight his bright blue eyes moved left then right, searching Hannibal’s. He lightened his grip, allowed Hannibal to pull away if he chose. When the boss made no such attempts Face guided their heads together. There was another pause, this one shy and tentative, before their lips met.

With his being Face asked the question, demanding the answer. Right here. Right now. Is this our start? The start of something that was fated to be if only they’d take the chance.

His gentle pressure was returned in kind. For how careful Hannibal was with Temp’s mouth there was no getting away from the rest of his body. He layered Face between himself and the brick, one hand staunchly remaining on the younger man’s waist while the other rifled through the soft curls of fading blonde. There was no battle for dominance, only a careful give and take.

Hannibal leaned back, pealing himself away. Reluctantly clasping the other man’s face to stop him from following as he broke from the kiss. Disentangling them in stages, first his mouth then his chest, finally his hips.

Temp looked to him, a shy smile playing along his lips. He was as calm and open as Hannibal had seen him in months. His smile spreading warm and honest. The tentative hopefulness there only a few minutes before now pure happiness.

His fingertips touched the peach-like softness of Temp’s earlobe, unable to do anything but gently manipulate it only to stroke along the velvet skin of his neck, just behind his ear. He thumbed across a cheekbone before kissing his forehead.

God, how Hannibal loved this man. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for the kid. His kid. His second. His Lieutenant. His friend.

But not his lover.

Tilting his head ever so slightly in apology, he slowly moved it side to side. His answer was no.

Hannibal would swear even years later he could see the color drain from Temp’s face. “Let me take you home.”

Face didn’t answer. Eyes downcast, his expression one of disbelief.

“I’m driving you home, Kid. I won’t leave you here. Come,” he encouraged adding an open palm to the back of a shoulder, subtly urging him toward the sidewalk.

Half a block and they were approaching Hannibal’s SUV. The Colonel took several steps alone before realizing Face had stopped.

“Face?”

“You go ahead.” He shuffled a bit before adding, “I’m not ready to go home yet.”

Hannibal knew chances were good if the kid went home he wouldn’t venture back out into the night. He also knew if he didn’t go home then, Hannibal and his other boys would be covering an AWOL situation.

When their eyes met, Face didn’t lie to himself. He knew exactly what his CO was thinking.

“Face, please. I don’t want to feel responsible for what could happen to you tonight.”

Face’s hands inched their way into the pockets of his jeans as he looked for nothing across the street. A lick of his lips and he continued forward. He would carry on, accept Hannibal’s lead.

There was nothing to be said as they traveled the now darkened streets. Hannibal occasionally catching a glimpse of Face out of the corner of his eye. Face for his part never changed his view from peering out the side window, building after building dissolving behind as they drove by. His elbow ground into the less than plush cushion of the armrest, thumb and index pressed to his lips. Only when they pulled to a stop outside his apartment did he turn his head.

“I’m sorry, Boss. I was out of line.”

Battling the urge to touch, Hannibal only shook his head, “No Temp. You weren’t out of line. I was. I shouldn’t have let it go as far as it did.”

“I had to know. Now I do. You don’t see me that way.”

“It’s not that.” He took a deep breath as his gaze went forward again, past his hand sitting atop the steering wheel, “I’m seeing someone.” He glanced back to Face who had found something of the utmost interest in his own lap.

The door opened. With a quick, “Goodnight Hannibal,” he was gone.

 

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Not long after what they both considered to be that disastrous night, Face attempted a transfer. When Russ Morrison caught wind he put a hold on it. Hannibal was running a well oiled machine with his boys. It had taken time for it all to slot together, but it had become an unstoppable force, this somewhat askew combination of young men.

When Russ heard of the request, he stalled it and summoned Hannibal. “I don’t know what’s going on here Hannibal, but you need to fix it. You and those boys of yours will never be as efficient or effective apart as you are together. Is there something I can do?”

“No. Nothing, Russ. I’ll talk to him.”

“Do you know what this is all about?”

“Yeah, I believe I do. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”

“See that ya do. That boy is invaluable. We can’t have him moving into a new chain. We need him right here. And you can tell him I said so if you think it will help.”

And talk they did. Hannibal balancing on that seesaw between the man who turned Face down and the Colonel in charge of a fine-tuned Alpha Team. Hannibal asked him directly if, in Face’s opinion, they could get past what had happened and continue to work together. Face tried to brush off the transfer as his attempt to not make Hannibal feel uncomfortable.

Hannibal let him have that. If it’s what Face needed to move on, he could have it. Hannibal thanked him for his thoughtfulness and believed Faced actually bought it. The kid was stressed, Hannibal could see it in his eyes, the tightness of his shoulders. It may take a little while, but things would smooth out again.

He reported back to Russ the team would remain intact. He did, however, suggest Face needed a little more time off deployment, telling Russ he could see his lieutenant was tired, weary. Hannibal would feel better if the kid were well rested. It would be best for the team. Russ had no problem extending their current assignments for another two months. Told Hannibal to take care of his boys and he would see him back at their FOB. He would be flying back out himself in several days.

Face didn’t need time for more rest, he needed time to acclimate. He may not have known it, but Hannibal did. There were plenty of situations that arose while on duty that depended on the team members not being distracted. In six weeks time Hannibal would re-evaluate their LT and decide if he really was able to put behind him what had transpired between the two of them.

It had barely been four months since they started dating, but Andy and Hannibal were through. Wondering if he had deliberately, albeit subconsciously, thrown a wrench in the works between them Hannibal did his best to project nothing was amiss to his team. Face was the only one of his boys who knew he was seeing anyone and Hannibal was positive he hadn’t mentioned it was a man. It was best that way.

 

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In the desert there was seldom a choice. Things were done that needed to be done. They had jobs to do. There was the occasional downtime, but for the most part Hannibal and his boys were known as the go-to team when precision and a certain amount of improvisational chutzpah was required. This, of course, making them in high demand.

Murdock had flown them to the base of the hill along an outcrop. Intelligence held an insurgent force would be moving into the area, taking shelter in the caverns and ateliers. If all went as planned they would be taken into custody.

Hannibal and Face accompanied Bushi and his twelve man A-Team. It was Face Bushi wanted for his marksman abilities. It would be up to the Lieutenant to disable their vehicles. The insurgents had few amorored trucks; although even those were susceptible to blown out tires. It would then be up to Bushi’s men to capture the envoy alive. Normally BA would accompany him as a spotter and provide cover fire should their position become compromised. But not this time. BA was back at the FOB, foot elevated, being a cantankerous patient sidelined by an injured and severely swollen ankle.

A sweep was made of the area. Both Hannibal and Face were impressed by Bushi’s men. They worked as a concerted pack. Little communication amongst them yet they each seemed to be aware of what all the others were doing.

Spread out, to the untrained eye they could have the appearance of aimless wandering. Yet if that view was changed to overhead it was easy to see they had mapped out a circumference with Bushi as the hub. From the periphery they worked in a grid covering every inch. Tightening a concentric pattern until all twelve were again before their leader.

Bushi covered their missive one more time. A barebones outline recap of stategy and order included the importance of covering their two “guests” as he put it. Driving home the point by noting, “I can safely say none of you want to be remembered as the guy who lost Hannibal or Face, legends that they are.” With a non verbal cue six of the twelve were cast outward as the first shift surveillance team.

Night was coming on fast. The remaining men picked defendable grottos to bunk down the first four hours. Bushi joined Hannibal and Face. “Anything you need from us, gentlemen?”

“No. We’re good. Unless was there anything you had, Face?”

“Nope. Not me.”

“Have your night gear?” Bushi double checked, all business.

“Yes, Dad,” Hannibal nudged.

Bushi couldn’t help chuckle. “Sorry Hannibal. Well goodnight.” He called past the Colonel, “G’night Face.” Face hadn’t heard him. Head down he was busy laying out sleeping arrangements for himself and Hannibal.

Within the half hour they were bundled in their sleeping bags. And within in another ten minutes it was clear their individual single layer of Mylar blanket would be no match for the heat sapping stone on which they lay. Hannibal was up and out of his sleeping bag.

“Come on, Kid.”

Face poked the top half of his head out from his sleeping bag. “You sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. Get up.”

Sleeping bags zipped together and Mylar blankets laid one atop the other they were snugged in for the night, though Face was doing an admirable impression of a two-by-four.

“Relax, Kid. Get some sleep.”

After a deep intake of air followed by a slow exhale it was surprisingly easy for Face to do just that. Hannibal had his hands tucked into his chest, forearms against Face’s back. His head tipped up, he lightly ruffled the LT’s hair with each breath.

Come morning, or what passed for morning, 0400 hours, Face’s watch was ever more insistently dragging him from sleep. It had gone from a gentle vibration to a low rumble on his wrist forcing him to work one arm out from where it was secured to still the timepiece. No easy feat considering Hannibal had him pulled in tight. No longer demurely tucked to his own chest, Hannibal’s large paw held him snug.

“Boss?” he whispered to no reply. Trying to negotiate the tightening grasp and being bound by the sleeping bag, Face was becoming somewhat claustrophobic. “Boss,” a little louder.

“Go to sleep, Face.”

“It’s 0400. We need to get up.”

“Shhhh.....”

Face had wiggled his way to his back and was searching in vain for the zipper.

“Quit squirming, Kid,” was mumbled in his ear.

“You gotta let go, Boss.”

“Okay. I’m awake. What are you doing?”

“We gotta get up if we’re going to be set up by 0500.”

“Change of plans. Extraction will be here 0600.”

“What? Why?”

“Bad intel. The caravan hasn’t set out and new word is they’re not going anywhere. Bushi was here not too long ago. Said to enjoy an extra hour of sleep. He doesn’t need us for anything. They’re staying on posts until the chopper gets here.”

“I don’t think I can go back to sleep.”

Hannibal pulled him in close again causing Face’s heart to skip into double time, fumbling about behind him with his other hand. Face heard the telltale zip before the night-cooled air of the desert invaded their cocoon and he realized Hannibal was only pulling him close to work the zipper.

Hannibal felt a tremble run through the LT. “Still time to change your mind.”

“Gotta take a piss.”

On his return he found Hannibal had rolled the bags separately and had Face’s blanket compacted back down into its self-pocket and set alongside his rucksack.

“You didn’t have to get up too.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to get back to sleep. Besides, I’m thinking there’s a beautiful sunrise brewing on the horizon. I’m climbing to the top. Coming with?”

Face smiled. “Yeah, I’m coming.”

 

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“I think you’re wrong.”

“I’m not wrong, Murdock. He isn’t interested in me like that.”

“What? You think cuz you’re a man? Let me tell ya, there’s more fluid people around than anyone likes to admit.”

“Come on, Murdock. That’s not ...”

“Take a look in a mirror, Buddy. Then tell me I’m wrong.”

“Look. Murdock ...”

“Hey, my door doesn’t happen to swing in both directions. Don’t mean others’ don’t or I got a problem with those whose do. Also doesn’t mean I’m blind to it. I’ve seen the looks you two give each other when you think no one’s payin’ attention. Besides how ya know until you try?”

“I have tried.”

“And?”

“And he turned me down.”

“Really.” It wasn’t a question. It was more an exclamation of disbelief. “He must have been suffering from a head cold or demonic possession. I know there’s an ember aglow there for you Facey. I can’t put it in words. I just know.” He thought for a moment, then, “Did he say why?”

“He was seeing someone else.”

“When was all this?”

“It was a long time ago.”

“Well he’s not seein’ anyone anymore. I know that for a fact. Only tail chasin’ him round is that Major Sterling. And take my word for it, you present a much nicer view in your BDUs than she ever could.” Face just looked at him, stumped as to how to extricate himself from this conversation. “You don’t believe me? Let’s go ask Bosco.”

“No! God, Murdock. You’re a menace.”

Murdock stood and placed a hand on the still seated Face. “Think you’re making a mistake in letting something that could be so right slip away.”

“He doesn’t want me. He’s already made that clear.”

“Just think about it, Facey.”

I think about it all the time he thought to himself.

 

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“Hold up Hannibal. I’ll go with you.”

 

This “on the run” shit was taking a toll. Hannibal had insisted they take a break, a holiday as it were. Crystal Lake had seemed like the perfect spot. Nestled in trees, access to fishing. An all around quiet and peaceful retreat. Just what they needed. A lot of fresh air and a chance for the team to reconnect.

Lately the four men would come together for a job or to practice maneuvers, hone skills. Hannibal couldn’t remember the last time they got together just to shoot the breeze, have a couple of beers. It had been too long.

This was just what they needed. No TV. No Decker. No one to recognize them. Well that was before someone did. Who would have thought there were wanted posters out in the middle of West Bumfuck, Nowhere, USA? Made sense if you thought about it. What better place to hide from pursuers than in a forest?

Before that bomb dropped, Crystal Lake was living up to Hannibal’s expectations. Murdock had been so excited. The boss wondered if they would be able to convince the sometimes delusional pilot it was time to return to LA.

 

Walking along they occasionally bumped shoulders. The first few times were met with stereoed, “Oh ‘scuse me,” or, “Sorry.”

They had followed the path along the lake’s perimeter. Face was the one who spied the dip to the side that lead into the brush and trees. It was several degrees cooler beneath the canopy of the forest. There was silence between the two, barely rustling leaves along the less traveled trail. Face nudged lightly, pointing with his chin at activity to his right, some small creature burrowing through the forest carpet.

They walked by without disturbing its efforts. From behind, Hannibal heard a sound he couldn’t readily identify. Twisting at the waist to see a squirrel nibble at its nut, spin it in its paws and nibble again. It was patiently working at cracking it open. Turning back again his hand brushed Face’s.

This time instead of shying away from each other, their hands took matters unto themselves. Knuckles slid against each other, melding their combined warmth. Face’s index extended to touch as Hannibal slowed their pace to a halt. He took a gentle, easily escapable hold of Face’s wrist as he turned to face him. It was held with only two fingers, but there was no attempt at retreat.

Face’s hand inched forward cuing Hannibal to slide his tentative hold over Face’s thumb. Hannibal’s own thumb pressed into Face’s palm, fingers to the back of his hand. It let go as if realizing it had gone too far, had crossed a line. Face’s hand flattened, his pinky searching forward whispering along the back of Hannibal’s fingers, telling him it was okay. Their digits entwined and just as quickly untangled. Hannibal opened his palm, an invitation.

The moment was suddenly broken by the grey-coated observer now up a tree. From its post above it was chastising them both, loud and pointed. Their gazes shifted from the critter to each other, sharing a smile. Hannibal ran his hand the length of Face’s arm urging him once again to continue on their way. His arm crossed Face’s shoulder to its accustomed perch.

They had only taken a few further steps before Hannibal let go. With two long strides he was in front of Face, stopping them again. Face was lost. Even after all the years they had known each other this was new territory. He didn’t know how to respond. At least not at first, not when he put any thought into it. But when their lips touched they moved together in a rhythm that was no different than the one surrounding the rest of their lives, their lives together. It was a new interpretation of knowing the other’s next move, finishing a sentence, sharing a smile. It was their inevitable next step. After reluctantly breaking apart, they pressed their foreheads together for only a moment. An unspoken common gesture.

“Murdock’s going to be looking for us for dinner. Hungry?”

Face had, inexplicably to himself, become tongue-tied. He could only nod.

“Think that squirrel’ll give us any trouble?”

”Hope not. I left my Glock back at the cabin.”

”If he tries anything I think it would be wise to make a run for it.”

Face chuffed a laugh, smiling warm and familiar. “Let’s head back.”

Hannibal’s hand extended out, palm up. Without comment Face set his own in the offered cradle.

They set off again linked as they were, this time retracing their steps, occasionally bumping shoulders. Both embracing the knowledge their time had come.

 

 

 

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From H/F group pomptfest

Loves_Books suggested: Face and Hannibal had been flirting but nothing more before he got together with Sosa. After their awful break up, he hopes Hannibal might want to pick up where they left off, but Hannibal seems to have moved on (perhaps he's even with someone new), leaving a pining, miserable Face trying to figure out what to do next.