CHAPTER FIFTY SIX

Hannibal stared at the wall of the motel room. Standard print of a woodland scene. Cheap frame. But the rooms themselves were comfortable. Good for a week or so. That's how long Kurt figured they'd be staying. Unless Stockwell or this Barish guy got too close.

BA and Daryl had taken the vans, BA to hide his, Daryl to dump theirs. A long way from here. Daryl would pick up a rental. They had to have transportation at hand, just nothing that would be recognized. Kurt was still making the decisions. That was okay with Hannibal. He wasn't really thinking straight right now. Wasn't really thinking. Well, except about the men in the next room.

Murdock stepped over to him, saying nothing, just watching.

"I'm okay, Captain. I just..." He shook his head, not knowing what to say next.

"Yeah, we all 'just'."

Murdock stepped away, turned on the TV. Started watching cartoons. He tried to concentrate on them, get involved in them, but it wasn't working. He kept looking over at Hannibal. As if he didn't have enough on his mind. He really wished he could call Dr. Richter. Things were really piling up upstairs. All those men...nothing he could've done about it, but still...

And, of course, Face...

Frankie moved over, sat next to him on the floor. His stomach was still queasy. The first thing he'd done when they got to the room was run to the can. He really wanted to just walk out the door and not look back. Problem was, he didn't know if he could. Didn't know what was waiting for him out there. He could have dealt with Stockwell before all this shit happened. Now, he didn't know. He didn't know what Stockwell would do to him, to the team...And there was this other guy. This mad scientist. Shit. He didn't even know what Kurt or Daryl had in mind. He didn't know anything any more.

Hannibal watched them for a moment longer, then returned his gaze to the painting. In the next room, two men were going through hell of one sort or another. He'd watched them for some time after getting them settled, wanted to stay, to help, but Maggie had finally pushed him out. She kept Kurt with her. For her patients' sake. And that was what was killing Hannibal right now. He'd looked into those pain-filled eyes of his lieutenant, spoken his name, watched as he shrank back when Hannibal had gotten close to him. Face had not known him from Adam.


*****

Maggie sat down, just for a moment. She'd given Sam another dose of antibiotic, and more pain killers, but it wasn't enough. She was very worried about that infection. He needed to be in a hospital with specialists watching over him, not some motel room with a general practitioner. She was seriously concerned that he may not make it.

Randy was another story. He was totally out of it, mumbling and crying in delirium, balling up in terror any time she went near him. There was nothing she could give him without fear of a reaction with all the other crap still in his system. The only thing she could do was keep track of his vitals, in case something started going terribly downhill. Kurt sat on the edge of the bed, wiping off the sweat and trying to make sure he didn't get completely out of control.

"You okay, doc?"

Maggie sighed. "No, but then I'm not the one to be concerned about. I'm afraid Sam has a bad infection. It could kill him if he doesn't get some serious medical attention. Soon. And Randy...I have no idea what to do to help him."

Kurt looked at the floor. He knew things had gotten way out of hand. He blamed himself for Sam. He should've insisted on driving, so Sam wouldn't have gotten tossed around so badly. Hell, he should never have let Randy take charge from the start. Put the inmate in charge of the asylum, that's what he'd done. And now Sam could die. Hell, he and Randy could both end up dead. But Kurt was as lost as the doctor when it came to solutions.

Except...

There was still one avenue to try. It would depend on Smith and his men cooperating. And Daryl. Daryl would have to agree. It would be a lot to ask. A hell of a lot. He wasn't even sure about himself. But if they didn't, there'd be another two bodies. And he was having a hard time living with the ones already out there.

Shit.

"Oh, God!" Maggie shot up out her chair, practically leaping to Randy's bed. Kurt whirled around, staring in horror.

"Turn him on his side! Hurry! He's convulsing!"


*****

They all looked up as BA and Daryl came through the door.

"Okay, the vans are taken care of. BA and I both have keys to the rental so we're ready to roll if need be." Daryl looked at the three men and the TV. "Who's on perimeter watch?"

Hannibal stared at him. Perimeter watch? Shit. He shook his head, chagrined. Where the hell was his mind? He had to put Face's problems to the side; he had the rest of his men to look out for, damn it.

"Murdock, you and Frankie take first watch. BA and Daryl next, then Kurt and I."

BA looked at Hannibal as Murdock and Frankie stood up to leave.

"You okay, Hannibal?"

"I will be, BA. Just gotta get my head out of the clouds." He smiled, trying to reassure not only BA, but all of them.

Daryl was watching the interchange carefully. He was upset that no one was checking for Stockwell or Barish, but it had been clear from the moment Smith had tried to talk to his lieutenant that the colonel had been thrown off-kilter, badly. He could understand. It would be like Kurt not knowing who Daryl was. Daryl should have stayed close, make sure someone remained in charge. But it was alright now. Smith was pulling himself together. He would be the asset they needed.

Murdock and the kid were about to head out the door when they heard the yelling from the next room. Immediately all the men were running out the door, down the hall. They found the door locked, and Daryl pounded on it, hard.

"Kurt! Doc! What's going on?"

"Wait!" was the only response they got.

It was only a minute or two, but it seemed like hours, before the door opened. Kurt stepped out, taking a quick look back before closing the door.

"C'mon. We have to talk. All of us." Without another word he moved the men back to their room.

"Have a seat. This might take a while." Kurt stood in the corner of the room, while the others sat on the beds and floor. BA stood guard at the door, scowling angrily.

"We need to debrief. I need to know what you know," he nodded his head at Hannibal, "and you need to know what we know. And then we have to make some decisions. Hard decisions."

"What happened in there, Kurt?" Hannibal would debrief, but he wanted to know about Face, now.

"Randy went into convulsions. Not unexpected. It could happen again. Probably will happen again. Maggie's taking care of it. Now, Colonel Smith, you want to start?"

Hannibal wasn't satisfied with Kurt's answer, but he could see it would do no good to pursue it for now. This man in front of him was 'in charge', for now, and they did need to compare notes.

"Okay. It started when I got burned on the set..."

The discussion took a long time, sorting through the myriad puzzle pieces that comprised the last few months. At one point, Kurt looked Hannibal straight in the eye, and Hannibal knew something very bad was coming.

"From the notes Carla was able to give us, the experiment was actually in two parts. Randy's memories were suppressed, by severe psychological conditioning. In effect, his past life, with notable exceptions, was wiped clean. He had no past. That was part of the experiment. To see how well he would cope, to see what combination of drugs worked to maintain that conditioning. Sam's job was to guide him along, report back to Barish, basically keep an eye on things. But Sam was also the other half of the experiment.

"Sam went through the same 'conditioning'. His past life was erased, for all intents and purposes. There were two differences. One, he was not, thankfully, given any drug 'therapy'. Two, he was given a 'new' past. He was fed information and 'memories' at the same time his real past was suppressed. If he answered a question correctly about his real past, he was punished. If he answered the question correctly about his made-up past, he was rewarded. The real past became a nightmare, a figment of imagination. He came to accept Barish's version as the truth. Again, there were some things he was allowed to retain, just as Randy was. Otherwise, he had a completely different life and history."

It was not Hannibal who reacted the most violently. Hannibal merely looked at the floor, shaking his head, hands over his eyes. BA started pacing angrily between the door and the far wall. Frankie looked wide eyed, convinced he was living in a science-fiction plot. But Murdock nearly went ballistic.

Jumping up from his seat on the floor, he'd shouted, "How could anyone do that? Good God, he stole two men's lives! What...why...who gave him the right to..." He slumped down to the floor again, tears in his eyes. "God, Face...he didn't like much of his past anyway, but to take even that away ..."

"Will it come back? Can it come back?" Hannibal was looking at Kurt now, anger simmering just below the surface.

"I don't know. That was part of the experiment. To see if the charade could be maintained over the long haul. I suppose, with the right psychiatric help, they can be restored. To what extent, I have no idea."

There was dead silence for several minutes. Kurt finally broke it, having allowed what he considered to be a sufficient time for this news to sink in. He continued with the debriefing, factually and emotionless. Now was not the time to let his own anger and disgust out.