The Other Side of the Story
The Other Side of the Story
Summary: Written in response to a Missing Scene Challenge on the A-Slash list.
The Other Side of the Story
The man with the silver-white hair stood in the middle of the compound, drawing on his black leather gloves as he surveyed the area. He looked first towards the storage sheds where Salvador, Gibbens, and the rest were safely locked away. They would be turned over to the Federales as soon as they could be summoned.
Next, he let his eyes travel to the orphanage's little chapel. He and his men had attended Vespers that evening, out of respect for the Reverend Mother. He had sent his team to bed shortly afterwards. After two battles in one day, they deserved a decent night's sleep.
He turned once more, and let his eyes linger on the dormitory where the nuns were settling the over-excited children in for the night. He walked closer to the building, and waited patiently.
Finally, all the children were tucked safely into bed and drifting off to sleep, and the nuns left to perform their final duties of the day. As they passed, he put out a hand to attract the attention of one in particular.
'Sister Teresa,' he said quietly, 'could I have a word?'
The nun looked to her Mother Superior for permission. It was granted with a benevolent smile.
'Certainly, Colonel Smith,' she replied. 'How can I help you?'
Hannibal swept a hand towards the courtyard, inviting her to walk with him.
'Tell me, Sister,' he began, looking at her with hooded eyes, 'how do you know my Lieutenant?' He'd already heard Face's side of the story; now he wanted to hear hers.
The former Leslie Becktall contemplated the question, keeping her eyes lowered as she thought. Finally, she looked up.
'Simply put, we met in college,' she said at last. `We seemed to have a lot in common, so we dated throughout our freshman and sophomore years. Templeton was outgoing and witty, and could cheer me up no matter how bad I felt. He was there when I needed him, without all the come-ons the other guys used. I felt comfortable with him.'
'Did you know he was in love with you?'
Sister Teresa nodded.
'In our sophomore year, I sensed that his feelings for me were going far beyond friendship, and I sensed similar feelings in myself, and that troubled me deeply. You see, all my life I've known I had a vocation, a calling to serve God in a special way. When I felt myself falling in love with Templeton, I knew I had to choose.' She turned to face Hannibal. 'Templeton was always very special to me, but God had a prior claim.'
'So you left without saying anything.'
'I didn't want to hurt Templeton, Colonel Smith,' the nun sighed, 'but I was afraid that if I told him what I was planning to do, he would try to talk me out of it, and he probably would have succeeded. I thought that if I left him a message of any kind, he would come after me, and I wouldn't have been able to go through with it. It hurt me not to tell him, but I had no other choice.' She looked at the older man, her eyes pleading with him to understand.
'Do you realize what that did to him?' Hannibal asked softly. 'How badly you broke his heart? That he went to Viet Nam hoping to die?' It was a question, not an accusation.
'I had no idea then,' she whispered, 'but I do now.' She sighed again. 'But what else could I have done? To have seen him that night would have broken my resolve. I couldn't risk that. Couldn't risk being anything other than what I knew I was destined to be.'
Hannibal looked at the nun closely, considering how much to tell her.
'You speak of Destiny,' he said. 'Perhaps there is such a thing; perhaps there isn't. All I know is that Life has never cut that kid any slack, and your leaving him like that was the final straw.
'Call it Destiny, fate, or coincidence; whatever it was, I was there when the chopper brought him to our base camp. He was a good soldier, but unmindful of his own safety, and constantly getting into trouble. Others saw him as an unrepentant screw-up. Only I saw the real reason why he didn't give a damn.'
Hannibal looked into the gathering darkness, reflecting.
'It took me a long time to get him to open up, to trust me enough to tell me anything at all about himself. I still don't know everything, and I probably never will, but what little I do know makes me very protective of that young man. It was a long, hard road, but he finally learned that his heart is safe with me.'
Startled, Sister Teresa looked up at the silver-haired man, and into ice-blue eyes that challenged her.
She nodded, half to herself, remembering what she had seen earlier in the day. It made sense now. The relationship between these two went far beyond that of comrades-in-arms. She reached out and laid a hand on Hannibal's arm.
'I cannot condemn the love that saved his life, Colonel,' she said quietly. 'I'm glad he found you. Thank you for giving him the love I could not.'
Hannibal relaxed visibly.
'Thank you, Sister,' he said sincerely.
He turned and started walking back towards the dormitory; Sister Teresa turned with him.
'You know we leave tomorrow?' She nodded. 'Will you talk with him before we go?'
'Of course, Colonel.' She smiled. 'I'll be in the chapel after Mass tomorrow. Send him to me there.'
Hannibal smiled and nodded, then extended his hand. She took it warmly.
'Good night, Sister,' he said, then turned to join his men.
Sister Teresa watched as he walked away.
'Go with God, Colonel,' she whispered. 'All of you.'
Sister Teresa smiled into the darkness, then turned her steps towards the chapel, the weight of fifteen years lifted from her heart.
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