CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

Randy didn't like this place. At all. The patients' rooms were nice enough, but the place was hidden away in the middle of nowhere, and the gates were locked securely behind them. He didn't like being locked in. Locked in with guards. Oh, sure, they wore suits. But they were guards, all the same. Randy didn't like that. At all.

Sam had stayed under all the way to this new hospital. They'd let the doctor off about 10 miles from Dinosaur, after making sure he'd written down all the medical information Sam's new doctors would need. Sam was now 'resting comfortably' in his room. Kurt, Daryl and Randy had been ensconced in a small suite down the hall. Randy didn't like that, either. He was too far away from Sam to keep an eye on him. And he did not want to be sharing a place with these other two guys. He'd seen them exchanging glances and signals all the way here. And Kurt had kept his pills. Well, that would change. Very soon. He'd play along with these doctors, make sure Sam was well taken care of. As soon as he was well enough, the two of them would part company with Kurt and Daryl and this...place.

Randy was sitting in the living room of their suite, watching television. Or appearing to. He was watching Kurt and Daryl more. He knew they didn't like the situation any better than he did, but for different reasons. He'd really like to know what those reasons were. And he'd like to know who they were working for. Whoever it was, they didn't want whoever was running this joint to know it. Otherwise Kurt or Daryl would've been on the phone first thing. And they had certainly buttoned up when they got in here. Wouldn't even talk to Randy. The doctors weren't talking to any of them. That would also change. They'd talk to him. One way or the other.

Kurt and Daryl eventually wandered into their respective bedrooms and hit the sack for the night. Randy waited until he was sure they were asleep and then checked the rest of the suite thoroughly. He wasn't sure what he was looking for, but he found a few little electronic gizmos that he didn't think really belonged here. Not anywhere he was, at any rate. They flushed nicely down the toilet. He grinned. Be interesting to know what the people on the other end thought of that noise.

Still grinning, he moved toward Kurt's room. Time to reclaim his little pill bottle.


*****

Stockwell smiled, well satisfied. This job had come just at the right time. It would safely get Smith and the others out of the country for at least a week or more. It would give him time to take care of a few things without worrying about their interference. Not that he worried about it that much. He still didn't know what they knew, what they didn't know. But he was quite sure if they had sufficient facts to be a problem, they would have acted by now. So they were still in the exploratory stage. By the time they got back from this little venture, Barish should have things back under control. They had come very close to collecting them this time; next time they would know what to expect and be ready.

Stockwell's smile faded slightly when he thought about Carla. She was getting just a bit out of hand. Granted, she was a very good player. Just not quite up to his level yet. The problem was that he hadn't quite figured out what her game was yet. He knew she wasn't happy about this arrangement with Barish. He'd worked with her long enough to know her nose was a bit out of joint over the whole matter. He also knew she wouldn't consider pique a justifiable reason to take whatever actions she had. No, there was something else at work there. An attempt to solidify her own position? More than likely. Carla enjoyed her power. Maybe a little too much, but nothing that he couldn't deal with. As long as she didn't cause Barish problems. Barish's organization had its own rules.

They weren't quite as indulgent as he was.


*****

He sat in his room, in the dark. He could hear the others moving about the place, the murmur of their voices, the television playing, a clink of dishes here and there. He'd been listening to it for a long time. Had watched the sunlight fade while listening to it. And all the while, thinking.

Johnnie had come in earlier, to talk things over. Tried to placate him, tried to be calm, but the anger was still there, in his voice. Frankie had kept his temper this time. Hadn't mouthed off about Face again. Had listened, trying to hear the words that meant Johnnie was sorry for what they had done. Never heard them. Not even a hint of it. No, everything was about the team, how it was the team that mattered, the safety of everybody on the team, how they couldn't afford to have division within the team, especially now. Now that they thought Face was alive.

Now they had to pull together and get ready to go and find him. So he could be back where he belonged. So the team could get back to where it belonged. And how Frankie could be a part of all that, if he wanted to be. Because once they were able to go after Face, it would mean the break with Stockwell. And that meant Stockwell was going to be coming after them. All of them. It would be better if Frankie stayed with them. Safer.

Frankie had snorted at that. He couldn't help it. Pointed out that if they just stuck with Stockwell, that would be safer.

Johnnie had just shaken his head. Stockwell would never let them go after Face. And there was no way they would bring Face back to this, not when there was little doubt the general had been involved in the whole disappearance. No, they would break with Stockwell and go get Face. If Frankie wanted in, he was welcome - as long he realized he would have to follow orders, be a real team member. Otherwise, he would be on his own. Johnnie admitted there was a good chance Stockwell would leave Frankie alone; he was more likely to go after the team than one man.

Frankie hadn't agreed to anything. Johnnie had looked at him for a long time before moving to the door. He'd had one last thing to say.

"Just remember, Frankie. If you let the cat out of the bag on this, it's not just Face that'll pay. Everyone will. Including you. It's something to think about."

Johnnie had walked out then. Left Frankie to make his choices. As if he had any. Not when it was put to him the way Johnnie had. He rubbed his swollen jaw. Baracus had been more blunt. Same thing. Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. So for now, he would stick with the team. He would keep his mouth shut. For now. But one day...one day he'd find a way to get out of this whole mess. After all, he'd been Stockwell's man before. Nothing said he couldn't be again. If he really wanted to.


*****

He opened his eyes a mere slit, watching the figure moving about the bedroom. Silent. Almost. Like he was just a bit rusty yet. Kurt opened his eyes fully. Didn't turn the light on, didn't sit up. Something told him movement would not be good. Startling this man would not be good. He allowed himself to shift the sheets just a bit. A mild warning.

"Can I help you, Randy?" Softly. Curiosity only. No challenge in the tone.

He stood perfectly still. Good control. Turned to look at the man in the bed. They watched each other for several moments, neither saying anything. School yard bluff? Or just thinking things out?

"I forgot about the pills, Kurt. I like to keep them with me. Didn't want to disturb you. Sorry."

"No problem, Randy. They're here, in the drawer." Keep it casual.

Randy stepped over to the bedside table, pulled out the pill bottle, pocketed it. "Thanks. Sorry I woke you up." Left, as quietly as he'd come in.

Kurt stayed awake for some time after. He had averted a confrontation that would not have ended well. He was sure of that. Glad now that he'd taken the opportunity when he had it. Glad there was one little pill hidden in his overnight bag, just waiting for the lab to check out.