CHAPTER ELEVEN

"So you see, gentlemen, with everything Mr. Peck has enclosed here, you really don't need to go after the military for anything. I'm talking myself out of a job here, but with no guarantees of winning a suit, there's really no payback in taking it any further. Not under these circumstances."

Hannibal, BA, and Murdock sat like three stones. The attorney, with help from a CPA friend of his, had gone over with them every scrap of paper that had arrived in the package that morning. And it was overwhelming. Face had invested money in clients' businesses, in stocks, bonds, overseas investments, real estate - how on earth had he managed to keep track of it all? Not only was there money for their retirements, but enough available capital to put them back in business. Which, up to this point, had first meant finding their teammate. But there had been one envelope left. The attorney had been instructed to give this to them last. Two simple words on a piece of otherwise blank paper.

"Stop looking."

And their world was blown apart.


*****

He stood outside the LAX terminal, waiting for a cab. It was warm today, and he adjusted his gloves with irritation. All he wanted was a quick cab, a shower and more than a few drinks. And sleep. God, how he needed sleep. First item on his 'need to' list, however, was a place to live. Next a vehicle, and some new clothes.

Several hours later he had fulfilled most of his list. He was halfway through a bottle of good Scotch, lounging in the hotel's furnished robe, hair still damp from the scalding hot shower. He had not registered under 'Oswald Booth'. In fact, he had walked five blocks from the hotel the cabbie had let him out at to another, less luxurious place. He was now 'James Carlton', businessman on a working holiday. Tomorrow, who knew?

He'd been out of the area for too long; it took a little more effort to get accommodations under the usual conditions, but it worked out well enough. He'd be moving into a nice secluded place on the beach to relax at for a few weeks, until Stockwell was just a bit nervous. He chuckled bitterly. He wanted Stockwell really nervous. He hadn't spent all his time overseas only checking up on terrorists. He'd done some homework of his own. Useful, having "his" people just give him whatever he asked for. He knew a few things Stockwell really wouldn't want him to. He'd have a fucking cow if he knew. Which, of course, he would, soon. He'd made one last stop before returning to his hotel. At the post office he'd mailed a small package for Stockwell at an address no one was supposed to know about. There were some people even Stockwell shouldn't push too far...


*****

Murdock glared at the stack of newspapers in the corner. All this time, watching and waiting for word from Face, running from newsstand to newsstand like some crazy man. Yeah, he had been crazy. He'd lost himself in his desperation to find his friend, his brother, his teammate. And all this time, Face knew he'd been looking. And he hadn't come to him, until now, like this, to tell him to stop. He didn't want to be found. He didn't want the team. He didn't want Murdock. Why?

There was something Hannibal knew but wasn't telling them. He could tell by his eyes. There was a coldness in them, but there was hurt, too. Like he'd been expecting Face to tell them to fuck off, but was surprised when he really did. But why? There had to be a reason.

BA sat, watching yet another football game. Or at least, he was staring at the television. He could leave now. Just get the van, throw his stuff in and head back to Chicago. See his mama, get his youth center going, be normal. With the money Face had set up for them, he could have a real nice life now. Fix up a real good place for the kids to come to. Yeah. Nice house for Mama, too. Get her out of that apartment. Thanks to Face.

Face. What the hell was he doing? Why didn't he want to come home, back to the Team? Man, it just didn't figure. He could understand it if they were still at Langley. But man, they were free now! And Hannibal. Hannibal knew why. He just wasn't talking. And that wasn't right, either. Him and Murdock, they had a right to know if something was wrong. And loud as Chicago was calling, there was no going back there if there was something bad going down with Face. No way.

Hannibal slowly and methodically lit his cigar, sitting on the patio. A light breeze was blowing off the ocean and felt good on his face. He had a lot to think about now. A lot of decisions to make. The first was whether or not to talk to BA and Murdock, tell them what he had figured out about Face. No, that really wasn't a decision. He knew now that he had to tell them. They would believe it now, as surely as he did. It would be the only reason for Face to have acted as he did.

Oh, God. He was tired. Down to the bones tired. He really did understand why Face had made the decisions he had. He knew the man too well to think he would have acted in any other manner. It was the actual killings he couldn't accept. This was not the man he knew. Or if it was, then Face was surely going through a horrific sort of hell right now.

He should have forced Face to talk to him back at Langley. He should have known that, had there actually been a woman that important to him, he would have been talking about her long before that. He should have known then those vacations were a setup, with all those extra goons around. A way to get the rest of them out of the way long enough to immerse Face in that malicious craziness over there.

He had to wonder what Face would be thinking, afterwards. It wouldn't be pretty. With his upbringing, that promise the team made, being alone...shit, kid, why didn't you come to me first? Damn, damn, damn.

What really worried him now was what Face was going to do next. He knew Stockwell had to be involved. But would Face be with him - or against him? And what was Hannibal going to do about it?

He stepped back into the hotel room, feeling four eyes staring at him.

"It's time to talk, fellas."