Hannibal and Face moved into their new house shortly before the young man entered the ninth month of his pregnancy. The building was situated in the south area of the city, in a residential area; the owner was an old man who was selling it not because he didn’t like it but for reasons of strict necessity. In fact he had lived there with his wife and his family for over thirty years but now he was old, his children all grown up and married with children too, living in their own places; his wife had died a couple of years ago.
The property was too big for the lonely man to maintain it: large kitchen, comfortable sitting room, guest room and bathroom on the ground floor; two bedrooms, study and bathroom on the first floor. The master bedroom also had a bow-window and an en-suite bathroom; the laundry and a couple of spare rooms used as storerooms were in the basement. The wooden structure was solid and it only needed fresh paint, especially on the outside; the house definitely needed some new furniture and more technologies but it was perfect for Hannibal and Face. There was a porch on the main façade, a small garden in front of the street and a larger one in the back.
The first time Hannibal came to visit the house – alone, because Face was still supposed to take it easy and rest, and stay off his feet - the owner welcomed him warmly, offered him a drink and talked about how happy he had been in that house with his family; the Colonel explained his situation – that he was a Colonel within the Army in the Special Forces but he had resigned and he was searching for a house where he could live with his son. Not that he was shy to admit his relationship with Face but he supposed the old man would have been shocked to hear the truth, plus he feared people would not sell him their house if they knew he was gay and his lover was pregnant. He himself considered it a supreme gift life had given him but most people did not, they would think of Face as some kind of freak, a monster and he didn’t want that to happen.
After taking a tour of the whole building and taking a million photos, Hannibal declared he still had to talk to his son before making a definitive decision but he liked the house very much and he wished the younger man would agree with him so they could buy it. The owner displayed a huge smile to the Colonel, saying he was glad to leave the property in the capable hands of a very respectful and honorable man, and hoped to hear soon from him. He did not have to wait long because two days later he received a phone call from Hannibal. One week later the papers were signed. Face was enthusiastic at the idea of moving into the new accommodations but Hannibal insisted they wait until he and the guys had finished the necessary maintenance works.
It was now ten days since they had settled down and everything was proceeding as planned. Being a military man for so long, Hannibal couldn’t avoid planning the “event” in details. Face decided to have a natural delivery instead of a less painful C-section, like the Doctor suggested, but he was doing well and he absolutely wanted to be awake when the baby would be born. Hannibal agreed with his lover’s idea, clearly excited at the idea of being father of a young life; Lipinzski insisted that Face come to the Institute at the first signs of discomfort, however, without waiting until he was in a lot of pain, that way they could control the situation better plus he would be assisted by well trained nurses and doctors and so they would have nothing to worry about.
Truth be told, the young man wasn’t worried; he had been worried sick for Hannibal and his friends for months, and now that they were finally reunited he was enjoying their company and their attentions. He didn’t even whine when Murdock or BA insisted that he take a nap or simply a rest, or when they asked him ten times a day how was he feeling; he was going to miss it when the baby was finally born. As Gloria suggested, he learnt to accept help from his lover and his friends for what it was, with no self- recriminations that they were doing it for pity or because he was a burden to them.
The baby was due to be born on the 26 of July. Hannibal had already prepared a bag with Face’s things to take to the hospital; one for the baby, which contained rompers, bibs, diapers, towels and some other stuff the doctor had specifically requested; and one for him, because he didn’t want to leave his lover and his son alone. He placed the three bags in the sitting room, near the main door, despite Face’s objections that they gave the room an untidy appearance. Hannibal also managed to convince the younger man to use the downstairs bedroom, which was little but definitely more comfortable for him. The Colonel spent most of his time at home, fussing over his pregnant mate, making sure he had everything he needed; he eventually would go out to run errands only if Face wasn’t alone.
On July the 12, Face was dozing the afternoon away in the guest bedroom; Hannibal had been called to the gym (their Gym) a couple of hours before because of some very important matter that could not wait, and Murdock gladly agreed to stay with the young man while his lover was away. It was just a precaution, Face was doing well but Hannibal wanted to be sure he wasn’t alone in case he needed anything. The pilot was watching TV in the sitting room with the volume low, not really seeing it and almost falling asleep himself when a small muffled cry pierced the silence.
Murdock was on his feet instantly and made a beeline for the bedroom where Face was, finding the younger man awake and in pain; he was almost sat up against a mountain of pillows, since that was the only position in which he could get some rest without feeling any pain in his back. Coming to sit beside him, Murdock noticed the damp sheets and covers and shivered.
“Face… are you alright?” he asked in a small voice.
The LT nodded slowly. “I think my water broke… help me get up!” he declared quietly.
“Where are you going?” Murdock asked, not sure if Face was supposed to walk now.
“To take a shower before going to the hospital. Where is Hannibal?” he replied almost casually, as if the situation hadn’t hit him and it was routine. The pilot was glad the younger man hadn’t lost his grip; answering his question, however, was more difficult because Face was clearly expecting his lover to be home. Not finding Hannibal when he most needed him could cause Face distress and aggravate the already delicate situation.
“Hannibal is at the gym, buddy. He was called because of some important business but he should be back soon…”
Face’s reaction to the news wasn’t pleasant. If a second before he had been calm and self-confident, now he would have sagged to the floor if Murdock hadn’t been there to hold him upright. “Whoa, Facey, warn a guy before collapsing… come on, help me, you’re too heavy for me to carry you!” and he directed the younger man to the bed, but Face stubbornly declared he needed a shower. “Ok, but I’m helping you. I don’t want you to get hurt because you fell in the tub or anything.”
He efficiently helped Face out of his wet shirt, pants and underwear. Getting in the tub was a difficult operation because the cubicle was not large enough for the two of them and Murdock wavered for a second, unsure about what to do. “Hannibal makes me sit on the stool and steps outside usually…” Face explained then and the pilot, grateful for the suggestion, did as instructed. Once Face was comfortable he started the water, making sure it was not too warm but not cold either, and gently washed the muscular body, noticing how tense the skin on his stomach was. Once he was finished, he helped Face to dry himself and to get dressed. Face didn’t talk during the whole procedure and remained tense despite Murdock’s promises he would be alright. When the pilot asked him about the bags Hannibal had prepared for him and the baby, he cried out.
“What’s wrong, baby? Talk to me, Facey…” he gently urged the younger man, holding his hand as he panted after the contraction and realizing they could not wait for Hannibal to come back home. He would have to take his friend to the hospital now.
“Where is Hannibal? I need Hannibal…” Face whined weakly, feeling lightheaded, holding tightly onto his friend’s hand.
“He will meet us at the Institute. Come on, on your feet Lieutenant. We’ve got to get you in the car.”
Face was confused, John was supposed to be there to help him as he had promised a million times. Where was he? He didn’t think he could do it without his lover; he was glad the pilot was him, though. He let Murdock help him off the couch onto his feet and to walk the few steps to his car, where he ungracefully crashed onto the seat. Murdock hurried back inside to retrieve the sports bags with their personal things, then after he closed the main door he was back in the car.
He drove as carefully as possible despite the traffic and they arrived at the hospital half an hour later; Face didn’t talk much during the short trip but he wasn’t in much pain to Murdock’s relief. In the alley of the Institute, the doctor was waiting for them: Face was helped to a wheelchair and taken to his room, the captain following him.
Within ten minutes the young man was comfortably resting in a fresh soft bed. The doctor visited him once he was settled and assured him he was doing good, the baby was just fine but it would probably be a few hours until he was ready to deliver his child. Face, who was already exhausted by the trip and the contractions, didn’t want to believe it and just shook his head. The doctor left the room and they waited. Two hours later Face was exhausted, the last contraction left him breathless and he really wanted the baby to be born at this point.
“Murdock, call Hannibal!” he breathed in a hoarse voice.
“I’ve called ten times already, he will call back when he sees my messages. Try to relax, Facey… deep breaths…”
“Next time you say ‘try to relax Facey’ I swear I’m going to kill you!” the LT warned just as the door was flung open and a highly worried Colonel burst into the room. Face almost cried in relief and let the older man hug him.
“I’m sorry, baby, so sorry I wasn’t with you this afternoon… Are you ok? Did you talk to the doctor?”
“Yeah, he says I have to wait until I am more dilated or the baby will suffer… I don’t think I can do it! I changed my mind, I want a C-section now,” he murmured into the older man’s chest, feeling exhausted but a little better now that Hannibal was with him.
“Just hold on a little longer, honey. You’ve been so brave…” the soft encouragements the Colonel kept whispering in his ear lulled the younger man into a blessed light sleep that lasted only a few minutes until a new contraction came, and Face screamed and he swore before he was calm again in Hannibal’s arms. “I love you, baby!”
Sweating and panting from the exertion, Face just moaned in reply, closing his eyes. The Colonel, who was sitting behind him so the younger man was almost in an upright position, quietly wiped away an errant curl from his forehead and kept rubbing circles on his back with his warm hand in a soothing gesture. “Feels good. Don’t stop!” the younger man whispered, leaning into the comforting arms of his overprotective lover.
Two hours later the doctor finally declared Face was ready. By that point, the LT was not fully conscious of what was happening around him; he was aware of Hannibal’s presence and he was glad of it, he knew the doctor was with them now but he couldn’t really focus on him and he couldn’t hear what he was saying. At some point he felt the need to push and more people were around him, nurses and assistants, and he kept pushing despite the pain until he heard Hannibal gasp behind him and a small high-pitched cry pierced the sudden silence of the room. Then Hannibal left his side only to return a few minutes later with a small bundle in his arms, covered with a soft light blue towel: his baby. Tears in his eyes, he caressed the small creature with one finger and the child gripped it with his small hand.
“Welcome to the world, Liam!”