After their confrontation, both men found it easier to deal with the ongoing situation. Hannibal, unable to help his lover in any official way, did his best by taking care of him in a tender and loving way and this time Face accepted it gratefully: he discovered it was quite pleasant to be the centre of the Colonel’s attentions and, if this was the result of his pregnancy, he regretted not having told him before. He was going to miss it in the next months; he couldn’t even imagine what being separated from the older man really meant now that he was so emotionally fragile.
On the fifth day after Hannibal’s return, Bosco came to their home to announce that the General wanted to speak to the LT; the news was greeted with silence, Hannibal and the Corporal exchanged worried glances, while Face sighed deeply but didn’t speak a word. He got up from the couch where he was nestled around his lover and walked outside. The big guy made a move to follow him but the Colonel fixed him with a deathly stare before joining the younger man; Face was watching the horizon, not really seeing it, the pain he was feeling clearly displayed in his beautiful features.
“It’s going to be alright, baby!” were the only words Hannibal could think of.
Face didn’t reply immediately, he was trying hard to control his emotions and it was difficult to speak. He didn’t want the older man to see him crying, again; he had cried enough in the last days, he was sick of being so vulnerable and weak. But he wasn’t trained for this kind of thing and he failed miserably. Hannibal noticed the silent tears on his lover’s perfectly shaven face and didn’t waste time before engulfing him in his arms. “It’s ok to cry, sweetheart. I know you don’t want to but if you need to, it’s better if you do it now, when I can hold you, than at the base…” Face tried again to put on a brave front but soon melted in the Colonel’s arms; Hannibal gently guided him to the swing where they sat for long minutes until the younger man was a little calmer.
“I don’t want to go away,” he finally whispered.
“God, Face, I don’t want that either!” the older man rasped, his voice rough from emotion.
“I don’t know if I can make it without you,” he stated quietly.
“I don’t want you to talk like this, Face. Besides, I know for certain Bosco’s mum is going to fuss over you all the time…”
“But I need you…”
Hannibal sighed. What could he possibly say to make the kid feel better? He really didn’t know. So he opted for the truth. “Look, baby, we both knew this moment would come. We talked about it. We have to face it, now. I can’t just leave without giving General Morrison a good reason and besides I have … responsibilities, you know! I know we had a rough time when I came back but I know now I don’t want to be separated from you. I just need time to make things work but I promise you - ” and he tenderly cupped Face’s chin, forcing him to raise his head in order to look at him in the eyes “ - I promise you I will join you as soon as I can. Is that acceptable? Can you wait for me, Temp?”
The LT sniffed and actually smiled a little.
“Was that a smile?” Hannibal teased him, feeling immensely relieved to see his lover more relaxed and self-confident.
“I already miss you, John. But it’s ok. I have to accept the reality and… I have to tell Murdock! He will never forgive me if I don’t!”
“What if we call him and ask him to come here? Meanwhile Bosco and I will pack your things… not that I want to, honey, but it has to be done, sooner or later, and I don’t want you to be bothered with such things while you’re with us!”
Face gratefully accepted the advice.
Murdock arrived half an hour later; Face had managed to pull himself together and was waiting for him on the outside porch. The pilot was hyper as usual and Face actually felt better having him around, his energy was contagious and the younger man actually drew strength from him.
“You’re looking less green than last time I saw you, buddy!” Murdock commented casually.
“I’m feeling better, thanks! But I… I’m afraid I have to leave, Murdock!”
The pilot looked genuinely surprised. “Oh, come on, Face! It was just a bug, now that you’re all clear…”
The LT smiled at his friend and quietly explained the situation to him. “It wasn’t a bug, buddy! It’s a little more complicated than that. I… I am pregnant!”
The captain’s reaction was electric! He almost jumped out of his skin. “You’re what? But… how… I mean… You are a man… Is that possible? Oh man, I can’t believe it…” he shouted.
Face’s reply was surprisingly calm. “I don’t know how it’s possible but it’s true. I am sorry I didn’t tell you before but I had a hard time dealing with the whole thing…”
“Did you tell Hannibal yet?”
“Yeah, we had a bad argument after I told him but now we’re ok. I have to go to the General in a few hours, I’m going to be released… This means…”
“You’re going home, I know…” Murdock interrupted. “But, may I ask you? How do you feel about it? I mean, are you happy? I can’t believe it, I’m going to have a nephew in a few months… Do you know when he is due to be born? Is it a boy? Or a girl? I hope it is a boy, not that I don’t like girls but you know… Can I teach him to play baseball? Oh I can already see him holding the bat with his tiny hands…”
Face couldn’t help but laugh at his friend’s enthusiasm. “We still don’t know the sex and we still have to decide many things, but I like the idea of having you around my child!” For the first time, the young man spoke about the subject without worry. Life always seemed easier with Murdock around.
Meanwhile, inside, Hannibal and BA were packing Face’s things. That gave the two men the opportunity to talk. It was Bosco who broke the silence. “Hannibal, what would you think if I went back with Face? I mean… not to stay, just for a couple of days in order to help him and mama get things started…”
For a second, the corporal thought he had made the wrong move, as the silence between the two men became extraordinarily dense; but then Hannibal sighed and sat on the bed, relaxing a fraction. “I was kind of hoping you’d offer to do that! I would do it myself but unfortunately I can’t leave right now and Face really could use your help.”
Moving awkwardly in the small room, BA went to sit beside the Colonel. “So, is it ok between us, Colonel?” he asked simply, knowing the older man would understand all the tacit implications of the question.
Raising an eyebrow, Hannibal looked at the Corporal who seemed afraid of his reaction. “Honestly?” he asked quietly “When Face told me, I was mad at you… and jealous too, because you took care of him while I would have liked to be there for him, if only I knew. But I think I understand why you did it. And so thank you, for being such a great friend to us!”
The big guy exhaled quickly and smiled. “I’m just happy you two are ok now. If you’ll excuse me, now, Hannibal, I have things to do before leaving…”
“I bet. Go, BA.” And Hannibal waved him away with both hands.
The meeting with the General went well, everybody at the base was shocked to find out Face was leaving and it took him almost an hour to say goodbye to everybody; the LT was brilliant, as usual, and if the whole situation hurt him then nobody noticed. That night, Hannibal didn’t let go of him, didn’t sleep but watched his lover all night long, drinking in his scent, noticing the already slightly swollen abdomen, caressing him, dreaming of the time when this would be habit for them.