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Kill The Plants (H/F)

Originally started for the hurt/comfort challenge last year over at the Yahoo Hannibal/Face Fan Fic group, then abandoned in favour of writing An Alphabet of Hurt and Comfort, now finished off at long last!

“Goddam fucking stupid mother-fucking nature!”

The angry, slightly hoarse shout rang through the house in the very moment Hannibal stepped inside, and he winced in sympathy, closing the front door quietly behind himself. As the shout faded away, the sound of a TV playing could be heard from the living room, in the opposite direction, and he hesitated for just a second before taking the easier of the two options and heading that way.

BA and Murdock both looked up at him as he came in, the pilot throwing a half-hearted little salute while BA just looked slightly guilty as he asked, “Any luck, Boss?”

“No, though I’ve got milk and some other basics.” Hannibal held up the canvas bag filled with what little shopping he’d been able to pick up in town before he’d spotted a police presence and had to make a quick exit. “Murdock, want to see what you can rustle up for dinner?”

“Already got a stew in the oven.” As if on cue, Hannibal suddenly got a nose full of a wonderful meaty, herby scent, carried through from the kitchen on the gentle breeze from the open windows. Truthfully, it was probably a bit too hot for stew, but they were working with a very basic store cupboard in their current safe-house.

“Good job,” he told Murdock as he handed over the bag, BA immediately leaning over to pull out the milk. “He’s holed up in the bedroom, I take it?”

Before either of his men could answer, a loud series of sneezes echoed through the thin walls of the house, six in total followed immediately by a very loud, very unhappy, “Damn it all!”

“Good luck, man,” BA told him firmly, as Murdock disappeared off in the direction of the kitchen, and Hannibal squared his shoulders before turning towards the bedroom.

The door was firmly shut, and he took a deep breath before turning the handle slowly and letting himself in. “Face? You okay, kid?”

The room was in semi-darkness, the curtains pulled mostly closed against the late afternoon sun, and it was hotter than an oven with all the windows closed as well. It took Hannibal’s eyes a moment to adjust, then he spotted his lover lying on his back on the bed, wearing only a loose t-shirt and boxers, with a pillow over his face.

“Do I look okay?” Face’s voice was muffled, but even through the pillow Hannibal could tell it was rough and strained. “Please tell me they had something?”

Two long steps brought Hannibal to the side of the bed, and he perched on the edge of the mattress, dropping one hand to rest on Face’s bare thigh. “Sorry, baby. They didn’t have anything on the shelf, and I didn’t get a chance to ask before the police turned up.”

“Police?” Face lifted the pillow away, looking up at Hannibal through red-rimmed, teary eyes. “Did they spot you? Did you have to run?”

“I got away clean, kid, don’t worry.”

“Good.” Face sighed in relief before immediately sneezing loudly, which triggered a coughing fit. Hannibal stroked his hand gently up and down his lover’s leg until Face finally settled again, catching his breath. “Fuck this. Fuck it all.”

Hannibal frowned; the younger man sounded pretty badly congested, and understandably miserable. “I’m sorry,” he said again, offering Face the box of tissues from the bedside table. “I wish there was something I could do.”

“Not your fault. If it was just a cold I could take some Tylenol, but the fucking plants – ” Face broke off to sneeze again. “Fuck the fucking plants. And the trees. And the grass.”

A soft laugh slipped from Hannibal’s lips, earning him an angry glare from those weepy eyes before Face pulled the pillow straight back over his head with a loud sniffle. Immediately, the colonel felt guilty – his lover was clearly suffering, and it wasn’t remotely funny. If anything, it was disturbing to see Face made so miserable by something as innocent as pollen.

It had developed out of nowhere three summers back, and none of them had even suspected it was more than a simple infection at the time. Face had been suffering with what they all thought was a nasty summer cold for nearly two months, sneezing and snuffling and coughing while trying manfully to keep going as normal. None of the team had put two and two together until they were on a job in the middle of a farming community, and one of the stable-hands had taken one look at the teary-eyed and miserable Face before offering him an antihistamine.

Hay fever. Blindingly obvious once they knew, of course, though Face had taken it pretty personally at the time – why the hell had he somehow developed a pollen allergy now, and what the hell was he supposed to do about it? Hannibal had dragged him to a friendly doctor in the nearest town, and some experimentation had quickly figured out the best combination of meds to keep the worst of Face’s symptoms at bay. An over-the-counter antihistamine daily, a nasal spray and eye drops as needed, and boiled sweets to help soothe his throat and cough.

All easy enough to manage, especially in comparison to the long list of prescription meds the team had to source for Murdock, and Face had weathered the last two summers with relative ease, his sniffles far fewer though still present. All easy enough, until suddenly the team had been forced to hide out at short notice without most of their belongings. Without any of Face’s meds. In the peak of summer, in a lovely safe house surrounded by grassy fields and flowers in full bloom.

Face had suffered in silence for the first couple of days, but this morning had brought a strong breeze along with a slight heat wave. The house had no aircon, sadly, so it was a choice between either baking or having all the windows open. And clearly Face had now reached the end of his tether.

A muffled sneeze was immediately followed by a tired groan, and Face rolled away from Hannibal, keeping his head buried firmly under the pillow, for whatever little protection it offered. His thin t-shirt slid up a fraction at the motion, exposing a strip of perfectly tanned skin which Hannibal couldn’t resist – he slid his hand up from his boy’s thigh to stroke gently at Face’s taut belly before bringing his palm to rest on the warm skin of Face’s lower back.

“You’re really hot,” he murmured, smiling when he managed to startle a laugh out of the younger man.

“Tell me something I don’t know, boss!”

“I mean it, kid.” Face’s skin was practically burning, which was perhaps unsurprising given how warm it was in the bedroom. “You need to cool down a bit.”

There was a low, threatening growl from beneath the pillow. “So help me, Hannibal, if you suggest opening a window in here I will withhold sex for a year.”

“You couldn’t last that long.”

“Try me.” Face sneezed yet again, and Hannibal stood abruptly from the bed, determined to find something useful he could do for the suffering man. He couldn’t make all the pollen vanish, or magically produce antihistamines out of thin air, but there had to be something he could do to help Face cool down, and hopefully make him a little more comfortable that way.

In a heartbeat, Hannibal knew what his lover needed, and he leaned over to press a warm kiss to Face’s upper arm, unable to claim anything more thanks to the fluffy pillow in the way. “Back in a moment, baby.”

Careful to close the bedroom door behind himself, leaving Face alone in his dark little sauna, Hannibal headed straight for the bathroom. It was the work of only a moment to close the window and tug the blinds closed, and then he turned on the shower as fully as it could go, hoping the cool spray would lower the temperature in the room as well as possibly taking down any stray pollen which might be in the air.

Hannibal stripped down to his boxers, bundling up his clothes into a tight ball and burying them in the hamper. He suddenly felt guilty for not changing his clothes before entering the bedroom, worried he might have inadvertently dragged more pollen into his lover’s personal hell, but there wasn’t much he could do about that now.

Face was still curled miserably on his side when Hannibal slipped back into the bedroom. “Up you get, baby,” he announced cheerfully, somehow not surprised when Face simply flipped him the bird in response. “Come on, Face, I promise it’ll make you feel better.”

“Unless you’ve killed all the plants and burned all the grass, I don’t think anything will ever make me feel better.” Well, at least that was a more verbal response, even if it was still mumbled from beneath a feather pillow.

“Get up, drama queen.”

“Get lost, dictator.”

Hannibal tried to keep his threatening smile in check. “Brat.”

“Bully.” Face clearly realised Hannibal wasn’t going to leave him alone, and hurled his pillow across the room with a heavy sigh, promptly sneezing loudly and sniffling quite pathetically before rolling to his feet. “Okay, I’m up. Now what?”

“Come with me.” With a gently guiding hand on the small of Face’s back, Hannibal moved them both into the darkened bathroom, pleased to feel the immediate drop in temperature from his efforts with the cold water.

“Oh,” Face breathed, leaning back into Hannibal’s touch. “That’s better already. Why didn’t I think of this?”

Hannibal pressed a quick kiss to the nape of his lover’s neck. “Because you were too busy cooking half your brain with the heat in the bedroom, and the pollen fogged over the other half?” he suggested with a smile, and Face huffed a congested laugh even as he quickly stripped off his t-shirt and boxers, making as if to step straight into the shower. “Hang on there, I don’t need you going straight from heat stroke to hypothermia.”

Adjusting the temperature of the water until it was a comfortable lukewarm rather than an icy near-freezing, Hannibal finally let his sniffly lover climb in, stepping out of his own boxers before climbing in himself. Face had buried his head straight under the spray with a happy little groan, hands braced against the tiles, and Hannibal would have laughed if he hadn’t seen how red-rimmed his lover’s eyes truly were.

Grabbing the soap without saying a word, Hannibal lathered up a washcloth and set to work washing Face’s long back, peppering the heated skin with chaste kisses as he worked. Face coughed once or twice, keeping his head mostly under the water, but Hannibal thought his breathing already sounded a little less congested.

Dropping to his knees, Hannibal soaped up Face’s strong legs, smiling when his lover lifted one foot at a time to be washed. He continued his work in silence, savouring the peace and quiet as he stroked over tanned skin, hoping he was both soothing and distracting Face from his hay fever misery. The gentle sound of the water falling onto the tiles was all that could be heard in their darkened haven.

With a gentle tap to one hip and a cheeky kiss to a firm buttock, Hannibal turned Face around so he could work up his lover’s front. “You okay?” he asked quietly.

“Much better, Hannibal, thanks.” Face sounded it, and a quick glance upwards showed baby blue eyes already looking much brighter than they had earlier. “I didn’t realise how hot I was, and the air is clearer in here, somehow, with the water. The pampering is nice, too, I have to say.”

“Have to say I’m enjoying it as well, baby.” With a smile, Hannibal turned his focus back to soaping up Face’s strong thighs before washing over his lower belly and groin, keeping his touch firm so as not to tease; unlike in most of their shared showers, Face was still soft, perhaps a testament to how miserable he’d really been.

“Hannibal…” Face’s voice was deep and husky, but to Hannibal’s knowing ears it was not from arousal, more from the lingering effects of his pollen allergy.

“Hush, baby, don’t worry. That’s not what this is.” Hannibal rose up to his full height, earning himself a face-full of water in the process, and kissed Face firmly on the lips. “This is just about making you feel better and cooling you down, not heating things up.”

Face chuckled, leaning back into the spray and wetting his hair again. “Always the man with the plan, huh, boss?”

“You better believe it.”

Washing his way up and across Face’s toned stomach and chest, then down first one arm before moving on to the other, Hannibal eventually laid the washcloth aside and reached for the shampoo, only to be startled when Face suddenly pulled him into a tight embrace.

“Thank you,” Face whispered as he twined his arms around Hannibal’s back, his words almost lost under the constant stream of water bouncing off the shower cubicle around them. “Really, thank you. I’m sorry I’ve been such a brat.”

Hannibal revelled in the feel of all that warm, wet, soapy skin pressed so closely against his own, and buried his nose in Face’s wet curls. “You know I was only teasing earlier,” he whispered in return. “I can’t imagine how miserable this has been for you. It won’t get better for a while yet, I’m afraid, but we’ll get out of here just as soon as we can, I promise.”

“And you really can’t kill the plants for me?”

“Maybe the little ones.”

They broke apart with matching laughs, and Hannibal set about lathering up Face’s hair before the water turned from cool to cold, only to smile as he felt hands in his own hair at the same time. Face to face beneath the spray, they exchanged kiss after kiss as they washed each other’s hair, both of them content just to be close and together.

Tender moments such as this one could be few and far between, living the lives they did, and as much as Hannibal hated being unable to sooth Face’s hay fever in any other way, it was with deep regret that he eventually turned off the shower after they’d rinsed the soap away. He reached for a clean towel, bundling his lover up gently in the soft cotton.

Face heaved a soft sigh, allowing himself to be dried off, and ran one hand back through his damp hair. “I don’t want to leave this room,” he confessed, a note of vulnerability in his voice that spoke volumes to Hannibal.

“Don’t bother getting dressed, baby, just go lie down on the bed, okay?” Hannibal kissed his lover gently. “I’ll be through in a moment.”

Hannibal waited until Face reluctantly left the cool bathroom, towel hanging temptingly low on his hips, and quickly dried himself off. He filled a bowl with cold water and added a couple of clean washcloths, then wrapped his own towel around his waist, not wanting to give Murdock and BA too much of a fright if they happened to be wandering by as he left.

Thankfully, the short path back to the bedroom was clear, though the heat of the house hit Hannibal hard again, the air feeling as thick as cotton wool after the damp coolness of the bathroom. He found Face stretched out once more on his back on the bed with his eyes loosely closed, the damp towel abandoned in the middle of the floor and a thin sheet pulled up to his waist, barely covering his modesty.

Hannibal deposited the full bowl on the bedside table then went straight to the windows, tweaking the curtains completely shut to close out the last of the sunlight. “There we go,” he said quietly, strangely reluctant to break the comfortable silence. “Just you and me.”

An abrupt sneeze, followed by a sniffle. “And the pollen. And the heat.” Face sounded resigned more than upset now, though Hannibal still moved swiftly to retrieve one of the cloths from the water.

“Here, try this.” He folded the material carefully, wringing out the majority of the water before leaning across to drape it over his lover’s closed eyes.

Face shivered but managed not to twitch away entirely. “That’s cold, and wet.”

“That’s the whole idea.” Hannibal threw his own towel to join Face’s on the floor, then slid inelegantly beneath the sheet. In the heat of the bedroom he could already feel the perspiration beading on his own skin, though for the time being he was content enough to stretch out on the bed next to his lover, close but not quite touching. “Might keep some of the pollen out. Try and sleep for a while, maybe?”

“Okay, boss.” Another sneeze, then Face reached out to take Hannibal’s hand in his own, squeezing gently. “You too, hmm? You had a busy day, what with running from the law and fussing over me. Then maybe we could share another shower before dinner?”

Rather than reply, Hannibal simply lay there in the dark and listened as Face’s breathing slowed gradually, until he was sure his lover had fallen asleep. A catnap actually sounded like a pretty good idea, he’d have to admit, and so Hannibal found his own eyes slipping closed as he let his head sink down into the pillows.

The heat of the room seemed suddenly more comforting than stifling, and he’d done all he could think of to ease Face’s suffering, short of getting him out of this environment entirely. The next few days wouldn’t be easy, of course, though hopefully they could make a second attempt to get some over-the-counter medicine once the police presence in town had died down.

Until then, if cool showers together were what Face needed, Hannibal would be more than happy to oblige.

And if he could think of a way to kill all the plants, just for Face, then he would.