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Justification (H/F)

This is Hannibal's POV of the events in Impregnable, Confinement and Deliverance. All previous warnings still apply, so please do not read on if in any doubt. And please don't hate me if you do read on.
LB


Hannibal has always wanted to have a family of his own, to leave a legacy and make his mark on the world in a way he simply can’t as a soldier, no matter how important he knows his work in the Rangers is. He knows that Face must feel the same way: Hannibal is an only child whose parents are long gone, while Face was abandoned as a baby. Family is obviously the most important thing to both of them.

And Hannibal also knows that Face will make the most wonderful father. Even though they haven’t had the conversation yet, he can already picture them raising a family together, either making it work while still in the Rangers, after they’ve both permanently transferred State-side, or even retired for good.

But it’s really too soon to ask the questions or even raise the topic at all: the two of them have barely been together for a year, even though they’ve been working side by side for nearly ten times as long.

Hannibal has just always quietly believed it will happen for them, one day. At some point in the future. Two adopted children, or maybe three, four. One boy and one girl, at least, or as many as Face might wish; enough for a whole football team, if Hannibal has his way.

The medical trial isn’t something he gives a lot of consideration to when it first comes up. The Army gives them regular check-ups and takes samples of all kinds of bodily fluids, before missions and after missions and at random points in between, so when he receives an email asking if he’d consent to his sperm potentially being used in a new experiment, he doesn’t give it a second thought before agreeing. Why the hell not?

When he finds out a bit more about what the experiment is actually for, he immediately feels a thrill of excitement deep in his chest, though he still never really thinks it will apply to him. He’s too old to be considered as a host, not that the thought of carrying his own child has much appeal, and apparently the doctors in charge have already found their first volunteers.

It’s none of Hannibal’s business how they might have found those ‘volunteers’.

But rank has its privileges, and he’s surprised but secretly thrilled when he learns Face is on a shortlist of potential future hosts – suggested by Russell Morrison, apparently, who had learned of Hannibal’s involvement – though of course his lover doesn’t have the security clearance to be told anything about the experiment at this early stage. No, Face will only be told if his participation becomes necessary, which is far from likely.

The thought of Face, with his honed six-pack and perfect physique, steadily growing round with Hannibal’s baby in his belly… It’s a beautiful thought, one that steals Hannibal’s breath away and makes his trousers feel tight. That thought really shouldn’t be quite as much of a turn-on for Hannibal as it apparently is.

The science is exciting too, of course, and even a man of action like Hannibal can see the potential advancements this experiment could bring in the fields of both organ transplant techniques and fertility treatments. The transplant advances could be used to help soldiers who have lost limbs in war – it would be a privilege for Hannibal to be involved in any small way, and he’s confident that Face would feel exactly the same, if they were able to have that conversation.

Then, as they so often do, circumstances change in the blink of an eye, and there is no time for conversation of any kind. No time for permission or agreement, just Hannibal signing a piece of paper and allowing them to take his Face away from him for a few hours, when they are only just back from an arduous mission.

There will be time afterwards. The doctors have a plan of sorts, to conceal the truth from their new host for as long as possible, and to introduce the idea to him slowly. They don’t want to risk sending Face into shock and jeopardising the whole experiment. Face will need careful handling, both physically and mentally, if he is to be able carry the baby to term at his first attempt.

Hannibal isn’t entirely convinced, but he goes along with the plan for the good of Face’s health, especially when he learns that it will be his baby that his lover will be carrying. Their baby, in every way that matters. Face will come around to the idea, especially if Hannibal can be the one to tell him. Face will understand. Face will make a wonderful father, after all.

But things go so terribly wrong on that fateful night, and Hannibal barely manages to hide his panic when Face wakes up screaming, trying to tear open his stitches. Something had gone hideously wrong with the anaesthesia, clearly, and Face claims he’d been awake through the entire implantation procedure, in agony and aware of everything the doctors had discussed over his paralysed body.

The thought of his precious boy being in such pain is almost more than Hannibal can bear, but he holds it together long enough to get Face back to the doctors, trying to soothe and calm him as much as possible, fearful for the child in his lover’s belly. Face fights and argues, naturally, creating such a scene that the doctors have no choice but to sedate him for his own good, and move him to a secure suite in a high security medical facility.

Perhaps it’s better this way, the doctors explain to Hannibal, while they settle Face’s unconscious body into what will be his new home for the next nine months. They’ll be able to monitor both Face and the baby with greater ease, to make sure they are both healthy throughout the pregnancy. They will also be able to explain things to Face in a controlled environment and to apologise. And perhaps it’s also better that Hannibal stays away, just for a little while. Just to give Face a chance to adjust.

Hannibal agrees immediately, without question, both as Face’s CO and as his partner – the doctors know all about his relationship with Face, somehow, but to them scientific experimentation takes precedence over DADT. All Hannibal wants is the very best for the man he loves, and for his unborn child. More than anything, he wants them both to be safe. Face will still understand, given time, and he will be delighted at the opportunity to raise a family with Hannibal.

Hannibal does insist on being there when Face first wakes up, though, watching from behind the two-way mirror as his boy stumbles from the bed on shaky legs and immediately tries his hardest to break down the door. He feels so very proud of Face in that moment, but to his surprise he also feels a little sick. He does as he is asked, though, and apologises briefly to his lover, choking slightly on his words but knowing without a doubt that it will all work out for the best.

Then he reluctantly leaves the facility, feeling strangely as if he is leaving a piece of his soul behind. And perhaps he is.

In the end, Hannibal doesn’t return for four weeks, at the doctors’ suggestion, though it has been nearly impossible to think of anything but Face during that time. He receives a phone call each day telling him how Face is coping; apparently, and perhaps predictably, he isn’t coping well at all. Morning sickness is a struggle from day one, and they even have to feed him through a tube at one point when he repeatedly refuses the food they offer him.

That thought doesn’t sit at all well with Hannibal, though he believes the doctors when they tell him it was the only way to help Face and their baby. He finds it reassuring to know that they care so much about Face’s health. Face is in good hands.

Murdock and BA ask Hannibal where Face is, missing their friend and teammate, and Hannibal spins them a brief but entirely true tale of an undercover mission needing Face’s specialist skills, backed up by Morrison, who is fully aware of everything that’s happened. It’s classified, Hannibal tells them apologetically, and the two men accept the explanation without question. It isn’t the first time one of the team have been poached for a last-minute mission, nor will it be the last.

And if this mission lasts about nine months? Well, it’s classified, of course. The boys will understand.

* * *

To Hannibal, Face has always been a beautiful man, both inside and out. But it’s astonishing how much more beautiful he is now, heavily swollen with Hannibal’s child and with strong muscles clenching rhythmically in the throes of labour.

In the end, Hannibal has been able to visit only a few times over the course of Face’s pregnancy, having to go out on missions even without his lieutenant by his side. Not even Morrison could pull the strings necessary to ground Hannibal’s team for nine months, and so their reduced team had taken a series of baby Rangers under their collective wings instead of finding a more permanent replacement for Face, and been given simpler tasks that barely distracted Hannibal from the thought of his distant lover.

His last visit had been nearly three months ago, when Face’s rounded stomach had already seemed full to bursting point. So very beautiful, skin tight as a drum across the swell of their baby, with even the fresh stretch marks seeming as if they belonged there. Face’s hair had been full and thick, his bright blue eyes still defiant and full of fire. Hannibal had longed to go to him, to kiss him and to hold him, and to feel the movement of their child nestled safely in her father’s belly, but the doctors had gently yet firmly discouraged him from doing more than observing Face through the mirror.

And Hannibal knew now that they had been absolutely right: his presence, in any way, wouldn’t have helped matters. Sadly Face still hadn’t accepted the reality of the gift he’d been given, though thankfully he’d stopped trying to escape after the first couple of months, and the doctors hadn’t wanted to agitate him further by initiating a conversation between the two of them. Keeping Face calm and stable throughout his pregnancy had been their priority, and Hannibal had absolutely agreed with them.

The physical distance has been hard to bear. Hannibal has been used to sleeping with Face in his arms every night, even in the field, and he’s felt cold and lonely without that long lean body by his side. He’s missed Face’s company too, his witty conversation and his sharp insights on missions. He hopes Face has been too busy to miss him in return, and too focussed on the pregnancy to be bored. In a way, Hannibal thinks the change of pace must have been good for Face. The last few years have been hard work, after all. Face needed a rest.

But at least the doctors had kept Hannibal updated over the months, with a phone call every few days. Hearing those updates wasn’t the same as actually being present, but learning how Face had been coping so well as the experiment progressed and also about the more scientific results helped Hannibal stay focussed on the end goals.

Finally being in the same room as Face after nine long months apart nearly brings Hannibal to tears, especially as he takes in the incredible sight of the heavy and glorious curve of his boy’s belly. Face has naturally grown pale during his time indoors, but still he is glowing: apparently pregnancy has agreed with him.

The doctors allow Hannibal a few short moments with the sleeping man, stepping back slightly from the table but never taking their eyes from the sea of softly-beeping monitors. Pushing their presence to the back of his mind, Hannibal runs his hands gently and reverently over Face’s bump, feeling the strong muscles there ripple with contractions as his daughter readies herself to be born. He feels a deep pang of regret that he’d never had the chance to feel her kick and move within Face’s body, but at least he will be present for her birth, something he will always be thankful for.

His daughter. Their daughter.

It would have been absolutely perfect if Face could have been awake for his C-section, but Hannibal understands and appreciates the doctors taking every possible precaution with his partner’s health. They assure him that Face won’t be aware of anything during his time under the anaesthetic, that there will be no chance of a repeat of his suffering during the initial implantation, and Hannibal is relieved they’ve solved that particular problem. The last thing he wants is for Face to suffer in any way.

He moves to the top of the table and strokes his fingertips over Face’s forehead gently, staring at loosely closed eyelids rather than watching as the doctors work to deliver his daughter. When he hears her first shrill cry, though, he turns eagerly to accept her swaddled form into his arms, feeling his heart almost fit to burst with love for both this tiny new life and for Face, who has carried her and nurtured her and kept her safe for all these long, difficult months.

Emily.

Named for Hannibal’s much-missed mother, and he feels sure that Face will appreciate the significance of the name when he finally wakes from the anaesthetic, though Hannibal will never tell him that he’d briefly considered naming her ‘Temperance’ after Face himself. Their daughter wouldn’t have thanked him for that, in years to come.

The doctors all assure Hannibal that Face will recover well, explaining that his extended period of unconsciousness now is nothing to worry about given the strains his body has been through during the course of the experiment so far. Face truly was the perfect candidate for them in the end and the doctors are absolutely delighted with the results they’ve learned, as well as being full of ideas for what their next steps need to be.

While the science still excites Hannibal, and he’s naturally glad that Face is helping the advancement of medicine, in truth he stopped being able to understand most of the details some time ago. And now, more importantly and at long last, he’s a father.

He’s petrified and over the moon at the very same time, and he’s never been more terrified than during those first twenty four hours. Emily is a precious miracle, an absolute doll who blinks up calmly at Hannibal as he holds a bottle to her lips and closes her tiny fingers around the very tip of his pinkie. His heart feels so full of love as he cradles her close to his naked chest, and he knows he would rather die than let any harm ever come to his baby girl.

After a few days of observation, days when Hannibal splits his time between the still-sleeping Face and their beautiful new daughter, the doctors give him permission to take Emily home with him. She truly is absolutely perfect in every way, strong and healthy and a very good weight – ten pounds and two ounces at birth, so no wonder Face had been quite so large towards the end of his confinement.

Face, though, is still sleeping, his body understandably exhausted after the trauma of pregnancy and giving birth, and Hannibal is reluctant to leave him in spite of the doctors’ reassurances. Face still looks a little pregnant, his stomach swollen yet neatly stitched up, so utterly gorgeous that Hannibal can hardly believe this beautiful boy belongs to him.

But Hannibal has greater responsibilities now, and he feels the weight of those responsibilities lying heavily on his shoulders. Pressing a soft goodbye kiss to Face’s pale forehead, Hannibal takes his first tentative steps into the outside world as a new father, a carefully selected Nanny waiting at his house, along with a clever cover story in place to explain both Emily’s sudden presence in his life and Face’s continued absence.

Hannibal’s priority right now has to be with his daughter. The doctors will take good care of Face for him.

Given how well Face has performed during the experiment so far, the doctors want to continue. Further pregnancies, more children, and Hannibal is incredibly excited at the prospect even though he understands that the next baby won’t be biologically his. The doctors are learning lessons that will save lives, as well as inventing new techniques that will create lives, and this time they want Hannibal to be involved from the very beginning, both to keep Face calm and ensure his continued cooperation.

And there is no doubt in Hannibal’s mind that Face must continue; Hannibal is quietly confident that Face will actually be honoured to continue, when they explain it to him properly. He’s already given Hannibal the greatest gift possible – a family of his very own – and Face is more than generous enough to want to give that same gift to as many others as possible. That generosity of spirit is one of many reasons why Hannibal loves him so very much.

The paperwork for Hannibal’s transfer stateside to the intel division at Fort Benning is nearly complete, pushed through by Morrison, something that will allow Hannibal to go home to his daughter each night and visit Face when the doctors say he can. This time, Hannibal will be with his beautiful boy from the very first day. This time, he will be able to watch first hand as Face’s belly stretches and shifts and grows.

This time, they will be in this together, and he knows in his soul that Face will be glad to have him there at last after so many long months spent apart.

The future stretches ahead of them both, bright with possibilities, and Hannibal loves Face so much it almost hurts. This is what they were meant to do. This will be their legacy, their gift to the world.

Hannibal knows that Face is a very lucky man.


Sequel: Expecting