CHAPTER FORTY ONE

Hank drove slowly, not giving Hannibal's concerns a lot of respect. A man who'd been on the run for as long as Smith had, got to be paranoid. Made mountains out of molehills. Hank had no concerns as far as Jack Potter was concerned. Living out so far, so isolated, Potter had become very independent, almost to a fault. If he had problems with something or someone, he would take care of it himself, never called Hank until it was all over. Sometimes Hank had a problem with that, most times not. Jack wasn't a violent man, neither were those two boys of his. But they didn't have a problem pulling out the shotguns if needed, either. Usually they didn't need to, but on occasion Maggie'd been called on to pull some buckshot out of a local kid, and Hank usually didn't have to ask where it came from. So he wasn't too worried about any of these 'agents' pulling anything out here.

He pulled into the long driveway and headed toward the house. He saw Maggie's car sitting in the front, Jack's old pickup next to the barn. All seemed quiet. Which was a little strange. Jack, or one of his sons, should be coming out the door. Someone always met visitors outside the house. Hank chuckled. Friendly as could be once they knew you, just the same the Potter's never let any one just walk up to the house. The chuckle died in his throat as he thought about that. It was odd no one was out and about. Maybe Smith's 'feelings' weren't so far afield after all.

Hank pulled the car around, so he was facing the road. He sat in the car, watching the house carefully. Someone should've come out of the house by now. He got on the radio, waiting for his deputy to respond. If he was going to walk into trouble out here, he was damn sure going to let someone know it.

"Jennings here, Hank. What's up?"

Hank sighed. Jennings was a good deputy, but he just would not stick to radio protocol. "I'm out here at Potter's, Jennings. Things don't look quite right. Stop by Maggie's; Smith is there. Let him know what's going on. If I don't call back in 15 minutes or so, you best get out here in force."

"You want backup now, Hank? I'm not that far."

"No, don't want to panic over nothing. Doc Sullivan's out here so it may be the family's just occupied. Over."

Hank stepped slowly out of the car, stretched his back a little as he took one more look around the farmyard. He walked up to the door, putting on a casual act. Didn't want to alarm anyone who might be inside. Before he could knock, the door was opened. And Hank really wished he'd taken Smith more seriously.

The man with the gun pointed at him smiled, but it was more grimace than smile. "Hello, Sheriff. Come on in."


*****

'Face?' What the hell did that mean? For a second, Randy wondered if he wanted this woman looking at Sam or not. But Sam had wanted to go here; he seemed to think this woman would help them both. Well, okay. Strange, yes; competent? Sam had thought so. That would have to be enough.

"My friend was hit by a car a few days ago. He's been in a hospital, left day before yesterday. He had a rough trip here, obviously. His records are by the bed. His name's Sam, by the way." The doctor looked at Randy; she looked puzzled by something. "Is there a problem, doc?"

"No, I mean, uh, I..." the doctor stumbled over her words, "uh, why did he leave the hospital?" She started moving toward the bed, concern replacing the puzzlement on her face.

"Things got a little complicated. Doesn't matter now. I just need you to make sure he's okay." She seemed a lot more in control now, checking Sam's vitals. She did glance at Randy every now and then; or rather, at the gun in his hand.

"I'm not going to hurt you, doc. This is just insurance, y'know?"

She didn't respond right away, busied herself looking through Sam's hospital records. Finally, while trying to look at his x-rays by the light from the window, she glanced directly him. "I like to know who I'm dealing with. What do they call you?"

He smiled at her. Now she was starting to sound like a person he could work with. "Name's Randy. Sam seemed to know about you, that's why we came here." He left the question unasked. He wanted to see how she responded.

"He knew about me? And you didn't?"

Hmm. What did she mean by that? The woman was starting to intrigue him. "Do you think I should have?"

Again, she didn't answer right away. Instead she started digging through her bag, pulling out a syringe and small bottle. As she fitted the needle into the bottle, she looked at him. "You came here only on his say-so? You must have a lot of trust in him."

It wasn't an answer, really. She was skirting around something. "Yeah, I trust him. To a point. More than I do most people, anyway." She nodded her head, as if confirming something. "You know him, do you?"

Again, that silence before answering. The doctor liked to think things through before opening her mouth. She was about to answer when there was a knock at the bedroom door.

"Randy? We got company."

Immediately the easy-going manner disappeared. Randy tensed, moving carefully between the doctor and the door. "Who is it?"

"Local sheriff. Kurt's got him downstairs with the rest. He was on the radio before he came in, Randy. I think we got a problem."

Randy looked over at Dr. Sullivan, who had looked up, alarmed at the mention of the sheriff.

"You know about this? You call anyone before coming up here?" His voice was calm, but stern.

"No, I didn't call anyone. I don't know why he's out here. Really." She swallowed, nervous. "You won't hurt him?"

"Not if I don't have to. But we're gonna have to leave. Get him ready. You, too. You're going along."

"Oh, now wait a minute..."

He pointed the gun directly into her face. "One thing you gotta learn, doc. You don't argue with me. Ever. Now get him ready." He stepped out of the room, and locked the door. He was feeling frustrated and angry. This should have been so simple.

"Okay." He glared at Daryl as he stepped past him, moving down the stairs. "Get these people down in the basement. Tie 'em up good and tight. Then get the van. We're leaving."

"Sam?"

"We're not leaving him. The doctor's coming along to take care of him."

"Where are we going, Randy?"

Randy stopped, stared off into space. Smiled, just a little.

"Where we should have gone in the beginning." 'Where I belong...'