CHAPTER ELEVEN

"I admit, I screwed up there, Doctor. I was looking in the phone book for the VA and he wandered off...No, he's going to be okay, just a couple days in the hospital for observation...No, there's absolutely no reason for that. He'll be able to continue with the program... And the fingerprints?...Good...

"I did want to ask you, Doctor," - tread lightly here - "...he didn't try to defend himself, this time or at the half-way house...well, shouldn't he be able to...no, I wasn't implying...no, I understand....no...no, doctor, I just didn't know what he may have retained from his military training...I understand that, Doctor. I would definitely let you know if he did...No, there would be no problem with that. The possibility of termination was made very clear... I understand that, Doctor.

"Now, about the pills. I'd like to go with a 30 day supply...Under other circumstances, I wouldn't consider it, either. But having to constantly look for a facility...no, it's just having to try and steer him in that direction...well, if I hadn't had to find one so quickly it wouldn't have happened, you know...no, not an excuse but you have to agree that...very well, doctor...you'll set up the 30 day thing, then?...Good. Good-bye, Dr. Barish."

Sam visibly relaxed as he hung up the phone. So he'd gotten his ass chewed, but not as badly as he'd expected. That wasn't what had him tensed up. It had been asking about Randy's potential for violence. It was dangerous but necessary. Now Sam's suspicions were confirmed. Randy should not have lost it that day. He should have been conditioned to avoid violence at all costs.

Sam hadn't wanted Barish thinking about Randy after that. Sam knew if he moved the conversation away from the beating to the medications, the good doctor would get sidetracked to the experiment itself and forget about Randy. He was actually surprised that Barish had gone along with handing out 30 days worth of pills. It was a definite change in the protocol. Guess he was a better conman than he'd realized.


*****

Hannibal watched as Murdock and the two Ables checked out their communications with BA. It was at least the third time BA had made them check the equipment. So much for his words of encouragement. They were all feeling the same way. Edgy. Well, Hannibal was taking BA's words to heart. His men couldn't feel confident if he didn't. He'd gone over the plan, thought about it from Face's point of view. He could do that, if he worked at it. Kinda like a mother trying to look at her kid objectively. But he knew the way Face thought very well. Like a cautious Hannibal.

He had a pretty good idea of everything that could go wrong. And, not knowing how much of Frankie's account of things was on the level, knew that they would have to go into it thinking Corvino had figured out it was a trap. Which meant they were giving themselves up as bait. They would have to get Corvino to admit what he was doing, get it on tape, and then hope that Murdock and the Ables would be able to get in undetected and find them before they were mincemeat. Might not be too healthy, but it could be done.

He sat down with a cigar, waiting.


*****

Sam still had to get this morning's dose to Randy, before anything else happened. Barish would take care of the rest. The attending physician's signature would appear on the new orders for a certain medication, which would suddenly appear in the drug supply cabinet. Once Randy was released, it would all go away again.

He made a stop in the men's room, and carefully shook the pill from Randy's bottle. It shouldn't be too difficult to slip it to him. He wondered about the other stuff these doctors had him on, but supposedly Barish would have known if there would be any adverse interaction. He hoped. That would be all he needed.

Randy was awake now, although still rather dopey from the pain medications. He looked up when Sam came in, smiled weakly at him. When Sam opened his hand to show him the pill, Randy suddenly looked scared. Not again...

"What's the matter, Randy? It's just your pill. You remember. You have to take one every day, so you don't get sick."

"I know, but..." For a moment Sam thought Randy was actually going to cry. Sam softened his voice.

"But what?"

Randy looked decidedly guilty. "I dropped it." A mere whisper.

"What?"

"I dropped it. Before we got off the bus. You gave it to me and I dropped it. I couldn't find it again." Randy looked up, pleading. "Please don't be mad, Sam. I didn't mean to..."

God. So that's what happened. That's why Randy had gone off the deep end. Shit.

"Hey, Randy, don't worry about it, okay? But promise me, if it happens again, you'll tell me right away, okay? Don't be afraid to tell me. It's more important that we take care of you. So you don't get sick."

Randy swallowed, nodded. God, the man could be so pathetic sometimes. Sam found himself wondering again about this whole damn scheme. To take a man like Randy had been, and turn him into this...damn.

And what did that say about Sam?


*****

"Did you find out what you needed to, Carla?"

Stockwell looked at her, impassive. Carla knew his mind was working at top speed, readying decisions based on what she could - would - tell him.

"For the most part, yes, General. As far as I could tell, the rumors were just that - rumors. There's still a small chance, but nothing beyond what we were already prepared for. The people I talked with, the most likely for the team to contact, all believed what they saw in the papers, that the team had been executed. I would have to say that these rumors were born of Smith playing his games again. Nothing more."

Stockwell raised an eyebrow. "You're quite sure of that, Carla? Perhaps we should be keeping an eye on things for a bit longer."

Don't give anything away. "If you like, General. Certainly it wouldn't hurt anything, but it would mean taking people away from other projects. My personal opinion? Unnecessary. Unless we find something later, which I doubt is going to happen, I don't think security has, in reality, been breeched."

"Hmmm." Stockwell sat still for a few more moments, eyes still on Carla. She was used to that. Basically ignored it. If she paid attention when he did that, she would have no secrets left. She became a piece of furniture he was staring at.

Sitting up his chair, Stockwell pulled a pile of papers toward him. "Very well. We'll consider the matter closed for now. We'll alert the Ables already on duty so they can be a little more on their toes, but that should be sufficient. That's all, Carla."

"Yes, General." She turned and left his office, not allowing the smile inside to show.