CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

Kurt watched as Randy paced the waiting room. Again. The man could not settle down. First he'd stretch out on the couch, staring at the ceiling. That would last maybe five, ten minutes. Then he'd be pacing again. Kurt was getting concerned now, as the periods on the couch were getting shorter, the pacing more frantic. Almost aggressive. He looked over at Daryl, who was also watching Randy. Their eyes met and Kurt saw that his partner was getting just as concerned.

Without a word, Daryl suddenly stood and hurried to the nurse's station. Kurt watched curiously as he talked with the nurse there, and then with another nurse. The second nurse left, returning a few minutes later to talk further with Daryl. She showed him something in her hand. Daryl looked, nodded his head, pointed at Randy. She also looked at Randy, doubt clearly showing on her face. Another consultation with Daryl, and she turned over whatever it was in her hand.

Daryl came over to where Kurt was sitting. He had a pill bottle in his hand.

"Sam mentioned these several times before he started fading out. Had them in his pocket. Said it was important Randy got them. I doubt he'd take them from me."

Kurt looked at the bottle. At the label. Frowned. A prescription-strength aspirin? What the hell was so important about aspirin?

"One of the first things Sam wanted to know was if we were working for a Dr. Barish. Then he's worried about Randy getting these pills, this 'aspirin'. Carla wanting to make sure these guys aren't interfered with. This isn't just a simple surveillance, Kurt. Damn it, I think we've gotten in deeper than we thought. A hell of a lot deeper than we should have."

Kurt nodded. He could hear the heavy-duty worry in Daryl's voice. He knew the feeling. Oh boy, did he know the feeling. This whole thing was so out of control. He was going to have to talk to Carla. Like it or not, she had to give them more information, so they'd know what to do. Kurt was into surveillance. This was way too 'cloak and dagger' for him. Way too much.

Sighing, he shook out one of the 'aspirin' and walked over to Randy. One thing at a time...


*****

For a few moments, he was afraid they were going to lose everything, but BA had reacted predictably. Hannibal had been waiting for the outburst and wasn't disappointed.

BA stood perfectly still for maybe five seconds before putting his fist through the wall. And then the other fist. Then Hannibal and Murdock were both grabbing him, holding onto him as best they could as he almost literally wrestled with the information. If BA heard what they were saying to him, he didn't acknowledge it. He moved around the room like a caged lion that had finally had enough of its confines, swinging the men holding him as if they were feathers. Had it not been for the circumstances, it would have been comical. Finally, he stood still, kneading one big set of knuckles into the palm of the other hand. Murdock and Hannibal slowly released their grip on him.

"BA? You okay now?" Hannibal was staying as calm and commander-like as he could. Still feeling his own anger and frustrations, he didn't want to contemplate what was going on in his sergeant's mind.

"He's dead, Hannibal. Stockwell is dead!"

"BA!" Distraught as he was, Hannibal was not about to let this get out of hand. Now, more than ever, he had to keep his men together in a disciplined unit. "We're not even going there, BA. Not now, not ever. That's not what we do. What we are going to do is keep our shit together, keep doing what we've been doing, and not give Stockwell any indication whatsoever that we know about Face. Understood, Sergeant?"

The look BA shot Hannibal actually made him step back. He had never seen BA so full of hatred before. Not even in the camps. And then the look was gone, replaced by BA's normal scowl.

"You know I wouldn't do nothin to hurt Face, Hannibal. I'll do whatever it takes."

The tension in the room loosened considerably. Hannibal had no doubt the Ables surrounding them would have some unpleasant encounters with the man over the next days, but he knew BA would keep it within bounds. He turned to Frankie.

Throughout the entire episode with BA, Frankie had not moved, hadn't said a word. Again, Hannibal was struck by the difference between Frankie and Face. His lieutenant would have been right there with him and Murdock, trying to control BA. Granted, he most likely would have kept his distance from those muscular arms, but he would've had that golden tongue working a mile a minute. Hannibal sighed. At least now he could start thinking of getting his man back.

"Frankie? How are you doing?"

"How am I doing? How am I doing!" Frankie's angry shout brought them all up short. "I've been going through hell with you guys for how many fuckin months for nothing! That's how I'm doing! Turning inside out tryin to please you guys, makin myself into your precious Face, and now you're gonna go get him back and forget Frankie, forget what I've done for you, forget the friggin obstacle courses and fuckin acting lessons and getting fuckin shot at - for NOTHING!"

"Frankie, it wasn't for nothing. We had to teach you how to survive - that was our only concern. You didn't have the training we all had, and it was dangerous for everyone, especially you."

"That's bull, Johnnie. You guys never wanted me here from the start. You made that clear as a bell. No matter what I did, it wasn't good enough for you."

"That ain't true, Frankie. You had to learn, just like we did. Only thing, you had to learn it quicker."

"I don't need training in explosives, BA. I could teach all of you a thing or two, y'know. But that wasn't good enough either."

"It was never a matter of being good enough, Frank. Damn it, it was for your own good..."

"Yeah, Frankie, just settle down, okay?" Murdock moved toward him. "We gotta stick together..."

"Stick together? Are you nuts? All you wanted was Face. Face! God, I'm so sick of hearing how great Face was, how Face could scam anything, how Face could charm anyone, how Face wouldn't'a done that, how Face wouldn't'a screwed up this. I'm sick to death of hearing about that fucking conman! You can have him, man!"

No one saw BA move at all. The only thing they saw was a big, black fist slamming into Frankie's jaw, knocking the smaller man back against the wall, where he slowly slid down to the floor. Hannibal and Murdock looked at BA, not sure if they should applaud or laugh.

"He'll toe the mark, Hannibal. Count on it." BA shook himself. No way that little bastard was going to screw things up.


*****

Carla was on the phone with Kurt. She was not happy; Kurt couldn't blame her, really. He knew there had been nothing else they could have done, but nothing was going the way it should have.

"You have to get him out of there, now. Before the doctors can contact the authorities."

"Ma'am, he's still in surgery. There's just no way we can move him out of here for at least a day or two."

"Not good enough. We cannot allow the locals to get involved in this. There's too much at stake."

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we really need more information here. We're working blind."

"You'll just have to continue working blind for now. We have a secure facility just outside Dinosaur. It's not that far. I'll make those arrangements; you find some way to get him there. I want the four of you out of that hospital before anyone can ask questions. Understood?"

Kurt sighed. "Yes, ma'am. I'll take care of it."

Dinosaur. Wonderful. The organization kept four such facilities in the US. Secure medical facilities for special 'clients'. Information on these clients was strictly on a need-to-know basis. Whoever made the arrangements for the client's safekeeping determined who needed to know. The four men would basically disappear once they arrived. The equivalent of maximum lockdown. Kurt had been in the one on the east coast early on in his career, watching over a 'gentleman' from Nicaragua. It had not been pleasant.

Well, he couldn't stand there bemoaning things. He had to get an ambulance set up, and figure out how the hell he was going to safely spirit Sam out of here under the noses of the doctors. Not to mention get Randy out without causing a scene. Shit.

Maybe it was time to get out of this business...