BA approached the small house outside the base which Face and Hannibal shared, nervously opening and closing his fists. He knew the kid had had a really bad day but unfortunately he knew he couldn’t do anything to help him. Not at this point anyway.
The main door was closed but, as he was about to knock, he heard the faint voice of the LT from inside, informing him it was open and that he should come in. BA had been there many times before and it always amazed him how meticulously the younger man kept it clean and perfectly tidy, despite the common hearsay that men were messy. This time, however, the small sitting room was a chaos of dismissed clothes, bags and similar stuff; the sofa was slovenly and the comforter that usually was neatly folded on the cushions lay in a heap on the floor. The rest of the man’s meal from last night was still half eaten on the small table in the centre of the room, in the great company of four empty bottles of beer. That, more than anything, alarmed the big guy. He was about to scold Face for his imprudent behavior but then, noticing his miserable state, he went to sit beside him instead.
“You know you shouldn’t have done it. It’s not safe,” he stated, his calm voice booming in the silence of the house.
Face just nodded his head and whispered “I know” in return, unable to say anything else. If he wasn’t so desperate, he would have cried out his misery but at this point it was useless. There was nothing he could do to save himself. The only consolation was that Hannibal wasn’t there to see him like that and when he returned Face would already be gone. No more talks, no more kissing, no more sex, no more Hannibal at all. He had made a mistake and he was going to pay for it for the rest of his life. He just hoped the Colonel could understand his reasons.
“Did you talk with the General today?” BA asked him, interrupting his musings.
The LT sighed and forced himself to speak.
“Yes. I’m going to be Released For Standards. Since he always had a great opinion of me, he is trying to cover me: Released For Medical Reasons would make people talk and he doesn’t want to cause an uproar. That means I am fucked, anyway!” he laughed bitterly, feeling the sting of tears behind his eyes.
“Oh, shit, man! This is fucking unbelievable!”
“I don’t blame the General, Bosco! And anyway, what was he supposed to do? He had no choice! I am the only one to blame for this…”
BA knew Face was terrified at the idea of leaving the team and the Army, and he couldn’t imagine how he felt right now. All he could offer him at the moment was his support.
“Face, you know that you can count on me, if there is anything I can do please tell me…”
“Can you turn back time to three months ago?” the kid replied in a broken voice.
BA felt his chest constrict in pain at seeing his younger friend so defeated, it just wasn’t a ‘Face thing’ at all, but he had to admit his situation was desperate.
Two months before
“Face, open the door or I will!” BA shouted at him behind the toilet’s closed door.
A second later a pale, sweating and defeated Face was in front of the black man, ready for the verbal confrontation he knew was going to come.
“What do you want, BA? I’ve asked you to leave me alone… Jeez, a man can’t have a little privacy when he is …”
“When he is what?”
“When he is sick! Is that alright with you? Can’t I be sick sometimes?”
BA studied the kid’s face closely, noticing the dark circles below his eyes and the desperate expression. He definitely wasn’t alright, he knew there was something more that Face wasn’t telling him. He had been like this for quite some time and if others hadn’t noticed or didn’t care, well, he did and he was going to find out the reason. Face now was at the sink, rinsing his mouth, but when he stood up a little too fast he stumbled forward and BA was ready to catch him.
“Whoa, brother! You ok?” he asked, steadying him.
The question made Face furious. “For the tenth time, I am alright! Now let me go!” but the words betrayed him because when a new wave of nausea hit him he nearly passed out and if not for the black man’s help he wouldn’t have made it to the toilet. When he was finished, exhausted, he couldn’t avoid the accusatory look of his friend.
“How long have you been so sick?”
“Two weeks, more or less…”
“And you didn’t think of seeing a doctor?”
Face sighed and wondered how he could explain the whole situation, because he wasn’t sure of BA’s reaction.
“No, I didn’t.” he replied quietly.
“Well, you are going now. I’m taking you to the hospital so they can help you…”his tone was nothing but friendly.
“Bosco, it’s not that I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I didn’t see a doctor because I know he can’t help me.”
The black guy was puzzled. Knowing perfectly well that he wasn’t going to win the argument, Face took a deep breath and confessed the truth.
BA was silent at first, as if his mind hadn’t fully registered the absurdity of the situation. “You’re what?” he exploded in the small space. Then his expression changed and he relaxed marginally. “How is that possible? You’re a man!”
“Well, it happens sometimes. It’s not very frequent and generally they don’t exactly write it on posters along the streets with their faces on!” he sighed, knowing he was growing angry at the man, despite the fact that it wasn’t his fault and he was just trying to help. Anyway, he could not help feeling nervous to talk about it. He noticed the older man had fallen silent and was staring at the floor clearly ashamed.
“Look, BA, I didn’t mean to talk to you like I did. I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time lately dealing with the whole… thing. I know you don’t feel comfortable talking about such personal issues and if you weren’t so big I would have just run away from you. Now… I suppose that, now… well, now that you know… what do you want to do?” Face managed to say without breaking down and crying.
To his surprise, the black man put his big heavy hands on Face’s shoulders and they looked at each other for a couple of minutes. Face thought BA would have let him down in that circumstance but he didn’t. In his eyes now Face was reading sorrow and friendship. He waited nervously for him to speak and when he did it was like a 100 ton load was removed from his heart, and he could breath normally again.
“I just have one question: is it Hannibal’s?”
“Do you love him?”
“More than my life.”
“Do you understand this is going to change just about everything? What do you want to do?”
“Yes, I know things will change and I am terrified of that. And I don’t know what to do. As for now, I’ve just tried to hide the fact from everybody. How did I go?” he asked, a small tired smile gracing his beautiful features.
“Not so good, buddy. Look, you know I was not so happy when I found out you and the boss were lovers; but then, seeing you two together and the way you take care of each other, I changed my mind and now I am happy for you. Does Hannibal know?”
“No, he doesn’t…”
“Are you going to tell him?”
“I… I don’t know, I’m just so confused at the moment. This life is the only life I can get, the only one I want to live and I can’t imagine doing something different. And I am not sure Hannibal will be pleased by the news.”
“You won’t know if you don’t try, Face.”
“I’ve tried, really, a couple of times, when we were in bed, relaxing and… you know… having fun! But he was so happy and I thought ‘If I tell him, he will be pissed off’ so I didn’t, because I wanted to cherish those moments… for when I will be on my own, I want to remember the way we were, together.”
BA shook his head. “You’re talking like you know he is gonna dump you. Maybe you’re wrong, maybe…”
“Bosco, that’s bullshit and you know it! Hannibal is a Colonel, he has a very good reputation and he loves his work, he loves the Army and he will never leave it. Not for me, anyway. You know the rumors about us? My… situation… is going to destroy him, in every way, he will lose what he has built in all these years and he will feel obliged to stay with me because he is a man with strong moral values. I don’t want that.”
The big guy could understand how Face felt and, without a doubt, he took his decision.
“I can help you. To cover the nausea. A friend of mine, when I was 16, was pregnant and for the first month she had serious troubles. Then she found a natural remedy that helped her a lot. I can get those pills for you. About the rest, it’s up to you. I don’t want to force you to do anything but I think being sincere with the man you love is the right move. And you’ll have to be extra careful and take care of yourself, try to stay out of trouble. I don’t want to think what could happen to you on a mission…”
“I know, I’ve thought about it… I… How can I thank you?”
“Just take care of yourself. I mean it, Face. I can’t be with you every moment of the day.”
The LT smiled again and this time BA did the same. “Are you going to be my shadow, big guy?”
“More or less, yes, that was the idea.”
“Alright, so we have a deal. BA… thank you, for everything.”
“Yeah, well, that’s ok. Now, can we just get out of this hole?”
Laughing at the assumed irritation of his friend’s tone, Face let the Sergeant help him to stand up.
The following weeks, as he had promised, BA was at Face’s side whenever he needed a little extra support or when he felt dizzy or nauseous. Neither Hannibal, Murdock or anybody at the base noticed he was acting strangely and life went on as usual. Face felt a new man and most of the time he almost forgot about being pregnant. Except when he and Hannibal were in bed, having sex. Every time the LT felt bad for hiding such an important issue from his lover, but he never found the strength to talk to him.