CHAPTER THIRTY

"We aren't leaving. No way."

Kurt and Daryl glanced at each other. Whatever they had expected, this wasn't it.

"Sam, I don't think you understand..."

"No, you don't understand. You haven't seen Randy without those pills. Back in Florida, he missed one dose and came damn close to killing me. After hearing what's in these new pills, there is just no way he's going to be anywhere except here when he goes off them. I'm not worried about withdrawal per se. Randy's stronger than he looks. He could get through it. But you don't understand what's going on inside his head. I do. This withdrawal is not going to be just physical. He's not stable without those pills. And it's going to be worse this time. No, he needs to be where there are doctors to help keep him calm and controllable."

"Controllable?"

"Yeah. Controllable." Sam looked hard at the two men. "Look, I know a lot more about Randy and his story than you do. I was in it almost from the start. I know what was done to him, and not just the drugs. The whole experiment was a government project, trying to find a way to neutralize top enemy agents without killing them, in case we needed them. The people doing this, under Dr. Barish, needed to find out what combination of psychology and medications would make them more 'amenable' to working for us, what worked, what didn't, how long it would take, how long it would last.

"Unfortunately for Barish, things got out of hand. Randy started remembering things. Just...glimmers, really. But I didn't tell Barish. If I had, they might have decided to terminate things. Or, they might have adjusted the meds to make sure those glimmers didn't get any clearer. I don't know. I just know I couldn't go any further with the whole damn thing. I had to get us both out of it.

"So we took off. Part of his memory was of the west coast. So that's where we were headed. But the doctors had adjusted his new meds again. Before, he'd been pretty pliant - easy to con, easy to maneuver. But the longer he was on these new pills, the more aggressive he got. And his coping skills were going out the window. Depending on what happened, he'd bounce between this aggressive, suspicious iceman and the man he'd been before - gentle, quiet, dependent. Now, of course, the old Randy is almost completely gone. Instead there's this guy who decides what he wants and goes after it, regardless of who or what gets in his way. I don't think that's what the doctors had in mind, either. They wouldn't be happy with this guy."

"Don't you see, Sam? That's exactly why he can't stay here."

"No, you have to see. Once he's off those pills, God only knows what he's going to do. Past experience tells me his paranoia is going to skyrocket. The potential for violence is astronomical. I don't want him hurt. If he's here, the doctors can sedate him. Controllable, like I said. If we leave, we're on our own. And I don't know if I - or even, if we - could handle him without damage to him or us. He's much better off here. It could take weeks for Barish to find us here, if then."

"Sam, this hospital is part of an organization that does a lot of covert business for the government. I know our boss is trying to keep you out of Barish's hands, but she works for the head honcho. If she's involved with this, he's got to be involved, and that means he's in contact with Barish. He would have to be. And believe me, it's only a matter of time before Stockwell finds out you're here, and then...."

"Stockwell?!"

The shock in Sam's voice took the other men by surprise.

"You know him, Sam?"

"Yeah. And Iíll bet your bossís name is Carla..."

The look on Kurt and Darylís faces said it all. Sam leaned back on the pillow, looking out of his window. He was suddenly tired. So damned tired.


*****

Randy carefully pulled his shirt back on. He looked at the doctor, eyebrows raised.

"So, doc, everything look okay to you?"

"Yes, you did everything you were supposed to, my friend. The movement in that shoulder is almost at the normal range again. Another week and you should be good as gold."

Randy smiled. He'd worked that shoulder until he thought it would kill him, Sam pushing him, never letting him just get by. He was glad Sam had been so tough. He didn't need to be laid up now. Not when they were so close to making their escape.

He grinned at the doctor as he stepped out of the office, receiving a big smile in return. Some of these guys were really cold, but not this guy. He'd seen Randy doing his stretches a couple days ago, had stopped to ask about them. Randy had told him about having been in a 'car accident', and the doctor had really seemed interested in the injury. He'd offered to look at the shoulder, and Randy had been glad to have a professional check on it. It had been purely professional, the doctor only asking the name of his original doctor, and when the accident had occurred. Randy figured these doctors were trained not to ask too many questions of their patients. Which was just as well. He didn't have to make up any stories.

As Randy closed the door behind him and headed for Sam's room, the doctor stopped smiling. He was about to put his career on the line. But if he was right, the reward would be well worth it. He slipped on his jacket and headed for his car. Signing out at the gate, he quickly drove into town and pulled over at the first gas station. Inside, he moved to the pay phone and started dialing.


*****

"BA?"

"All set. Van's ready any time you say the word. Got three different routes, just in case."

"Good. Murdock?"

"Weapons stored away in the van, Colonel, along with munitions. Except for the little surprises under the mattresses. Those are ready whenever you are."

"Good. Frankie?"

They all looked at him. It all depended on Frankie, and he knew it. But this was no scam, it was explosives, and they weren't waiting for him to screw up, they were waiting for him to provide the all important diversion.

When Murdock had come back to the complex, they had all known. It was there in Murdock's eyes, in his step. His whole body was almost humming. The Ables hadn't noticed anything, of course. They were used to dismissing Murdock's 'eccentricities'. But the team, even Frankie, had known. Without a word, they had once again gravitated to the one room that was never successfully bugged. There, Murdock had confirmed what they already thought. Given them all the details he had, scant though they were. It had taken only a few seconds for the decision to be made. The plan came within moments, as it only involved getting away from the complex and Stockwell. Hannibal had turned to Frankie then.

"Frankie, I know you don't want to do this. I know this whole thing has been hell for you, and I am sorry for that, whether you believe it or not. Stockwell threw us together and no one was ready for it. And yeah, we were rough on you. Not because we didn't like you, but because it was necessary, to keep you alive. Again, you can believe it or not. Up until now, I don't think you've accepted the realities of our lives, Frankie. It isn't a game. We don't get re-takes, like in the movies. We make the wrong move and somebody, maybe one of us, gets killed. Period.

"We need you to help us get out of here. Any of us can blow things up. We need more than that. We need a series of events that's going to take every Able in this complex away from us, away from the van. So nobody gets shot. You're the only one here who can pull that off. We need you, Frankie. We need you with us on this one."

It had taken a moment for Frankie to decide. He knew Johnnie was laying it on. But he also knew it was based on the truth. Anybody could blow something up. It took skill and art to pull off a timed series of precise explosions. Shit. Maybe if they got Face back, the pressure would be off him to be something he wasn't. If he pulled this off - when he pulled this off - maybe then they'd really appreciate his skills. Part of him said he had no choice, part of him said he held all the cards...

"Frankie? You set?"

"Yeah, Johnnie. Give the word, you'll have fireworks that'll put Disney to shame."