CHAPTER THIRTY NINE

Randy moved quietly over to where Sam lay in the back of the van. Since they had finally come to a standstill, his moans had lessened considerably, although he was still very restless. Randy placed his hand gently on Sam's forehead, frowning when he noted the warmth. Sam was a dilemma for Randy. On the one hand, he probably owed Sam his very life. Sam had been his protector, his teacher, his friend. On the other hand...Randy felt an almost irresistible urge to keep moving, to get even further west, to finally reach the ocean. He didn't know why this was so important to him. He just had this feeling that if his friends, the ones from that dream, were going to find him, it would be at the ocean, on the beaches of California. Damn it, it was where he belonged. He knew it.

So what to do with Sam now? They had reached Bad Rock. As soon as Kurt and Daryl got back with their report, they would decide when to contact this doctor. Sam obviously needed medical attention. Soon. And yet, this whole thing was a delay. And Randy could feel an almost panicky feeling when he thought about that. Irrational, he realized. But he couldn't get rid of it. All he could do was try to keep it in check, keep it from making his decisions for him. He could feel that urge so strongly - to just get rid of the whole bunch of them and take off. Or let these people that were after them come. Let them have Sam and Kurt and Daryl, while he raced off to his destiny.

These strange people. The ones that Sam had never fully explained to him. Never had said why they wanted Randy so badly. Or what they intended to do if they did get him. It wouldn't be good, that's all he could really understand about it. For the life of him, he could not understand what he had done to make anyone chase after him. But then, there was that gap. As his mind had gradually cleared, he had realized that there was a big time period between Nam and the VA he'd found himself in. Big. And while he could understand that some of the things he'd done in Nam might make him a target, it was that missing time that was the more likely culprit. Why couldn't he remember it? Any of it? Except for that dream, of course. He clung to that like a life buoy. Tenuous, yes. Half seen faces, half recognized voices. And yet even that gave him doubts.

He knew what he had done in Nam. Not totally, not clearly, but he knew. He had vivid flashes of memory of it, and it wasn't good. Necessary, but not good. And somehow the people in his dream, and the feelings they evinced, conflicted badly with those memories. Maybe they didn't know about Nam. Maybe they hadn't been there with him. The feeling persisted that they had been, though. That he had known these people almost forever.

Randy shook his head. No more thinking about that stuff. It gave him a headache. And he needed to concentrate on the here and now. He wasn't dumb enough to think they hadn't been followed here. If Sam knew about this place, others did. Again, he didn't know why; he just knew. Somehow - and this made him very uneasy - somehow Sam was connected with their pursuers much more deeply than he'd let on. He just knew too much about them. And then there was Kurt and Daryl.

He'd trusted those two at first because he had to. Because they had helped him get away, helped Sam get to a doctor. But how far to trust them? That was the real question. How far could he trust anyone?


*****

Hank sighed one more time, carefully pouring two cups of coffee. Handing one to Hannibal, he wondered what in the world he had done when he'd first accepted help from these people. Sure, it had been the only choice he could have made back then, but it had sure created a world of problems for him since. And now this. 'Agents' all over the place. Kidnapping. Maybe murder. God. All he wanted was to have a nice, quiet little town to watch over. Instead, he got the A-Team.

"You know I can't do anything until they do." He sipped the hot coffee carefully. He would like to round all these 'agents' up and throw them out of town, but he knew he couldn't do that. Hell, if they were anything like Smith described, he didn't know if he could do that even after they started something. He only had two deputies, and neither one had ever pulled their guns except on the range.

"I know, Hank. I'm just hoping that the presence of law enforcement will make these guys think twice before pulling anything. They don't like attention. But I won't kid you, Hank. These guys are gonna play for keeps. I don't know the one group, but if they're anything like the general's people, they aren't going to play by the rules.

"Basically, you've got two choices here. You can ask your deputies to stand with you, with us, and get rid of these guys before any innocent people get hurt. Or, and I won't blame you a bit for this, you can close your eyes and let this thing play itself out."

"And blame myself if someone does get hurt." He glared at Hannibal. "You realize Maggie's gonna be stuck right in the middle of all this shit. No matter who else gets involved, she's in it, and she's got no choice about it. Does she even know all these ya-hoo's are coming here?"

"Not yet. I haven't wanted to chance contacting her. My men are watching her place though. I don't think she's in any danger until Face tries to contact her. That's going to be the trickiest. If Face is fit enough, he can get to her without alerting these other guys. If he was the one needing the medical care, and someone else tries, it could blow up in our faces." It was Hannibal's turn to glare at Hank. "I won't let anything happen to Maggie, Hank. I won't let anyone get close enough to harm her. I promise you that."

"Promises don't mean much if you're dead, Smith. Do you even know how many of these guys there are? Or how well armed they are?" Hannibal looked at the floor. "I didn't think so. Well...damn it." He slammed the coffee cup on the desk, slopping hot liquid. "I knew I'd regret the day you people came to this town. I'd rather have those damn bikers. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna let anyone shoot up this town. I can't speak for my deputies. If this was just ordinary criminals, I'd have no problem telling 'em to mount up. All I can do in this case is ask them. But I'll be with you. For the town's sake, and for Maggie's sake. You just let me know what you want me to do."

"Thanks, Hank. Right now, the only thing I'd ask is that you make your presence known. Double or triple your rounds. Just let these guys know that they've got to deal with you, with the law. Like I said, hopefully that will make them all think twice."

"What about Peck? If he's on the run, will that spook him, too?"

"It might, but I don't think so. He knows you. But if it does, we'll just catch up with him wherever he goes. And it will make things easier here, too." Hannibal had actually thought about trying something to make Face think about moving on, but he hadn't come up with anything yet. And if one of them needed a doctor, he didn't want that on his conscience.

"Okay, Smith, I'll get the extra patrols set up right away. The guys should be okay with that much, anyway. I'll let you know what they say about anything else you might have planned."

Hannibal smiled his thanks, and slipped back out the side door. It had taken longer than he'd wanted, and the outcome wasn't as promising as he would have wished, but at least it was done. He could only hope they really wouldn't need the extra fire power.


*****

Randy listened carefully as Kurt and Daryl described their reconnaissance. He wasn't at all happy with the numbers he was hearing. He figured for every person who'd been seen in town, there were probably at least two more waiting in the wings. The doctor would have to wait, at least for tonight. He didn't like sitting here, though. These guys would be checking out the surrounding area as well. If they stayed here, they'd be sitting ducks.

He remembered one of the small farms they'd passed on the way in. Isolated. Out in the open. Several small, ramshackle buildings on it. A couple kids' bicycles in the yard. It would mean letting Sam sleep in a real bed, get some much needed rest. And they would be able to see anyone coming long before they arrived. Thinking about those bicycles, Randy could pretty much be guaranteed cooperation from the owners. Perfect.

Telling the men only that they were going to find a safer place to wait things out, he put the van in gear and slowly turned the van around. Things would work out. One way or another.