CHAPTER SIXTY THREE

He had borrowed the car again that afternoon. He hadn't actually told Hannibal he was going to church. Just asked to borrow the car. Hannibal had hesitated only for a second. Long enough to let him know that something was amiss. Had the pilot said something to him? Possibly. Probably. With BA coming back, he might have felt it was time.

They hadn't told him right away that BA was coming back. He'd overheard Hannibal talking to him on the phone. He kept track as much as possible of all the people Hannibal talked to. He'd thought about bugging the phone, but that seemed extreme. At this point, anyway. He'd paid special attention to Hannibal's discussion regarding Face and the team. Face wouldn't like that; still had dreams of a full recovery, getting back with the team as if nothing had happened. Even with the hand. Right. Despite what Hannibal told BA, the colonel still hadn't talked to Face about it. He wondered when they intended to drop that bomb.

Then he heard Hannibal tell BA about having Face stay with Maggie. That's when he realized BA knew what had happened. Mama must have told him. There were a lot of interesting possibilities playing around in his mind. When BA left, he'd thought Face didn't remember anything of what happened with Maggie. Was that still the case? Well, he could make sure BA thought Face knew. Wouldn't be that difficult. After all, he knew, and all he'd have to do is let BA see that. And make sure BA knew that he wasn't sorry about it. Which he wasn't. Face would have been horrified. Not him. So let BA know and then let things play themselves out.

BA would probably tell Hannibal. Yeah, that would be good. Kill two birds with one stone. That would just leave the pilot. He'd have to think about that one for a while. Murdock's loyalty to Face was phenomenal. Much stronger than the other two. He'd often wondered about that. But then, Face had a lot more in common with the pilot than the other two. More than the others, including Murdock, knew. He'd definitely have to work on that. It would be much much tougher to crack that alliance. But it was do-able.

If he played this right, if he planned it properly, he wouldn't have to worry about Face remembering any of those little secret weapons he had. In fact, he might not have to worry about Face remembering much of anything at all. He smiled as he pulled up in front of the bar. He had some new friends to meet...


*****

Hannibal watched the car maneuver carefully down the drive and out of sight. He had a bad feeling about letting Face take off; since talking to Murdock, he was more than a little suspicious about where he was really going. Like the pilot, he didn't see this Face going to church. He wondered where he'd been going all this time, what he'd been doing. He wished he had another vehicle to use, one that Face wouldn't know about. He'd like to follow and find out a few things. He'd let his emotions take over too much. Let himself believe Face was getting better, blinded himself to things he should have seen. that was over.

He thought about this Face. He didn't even know what to call him; in his mind, he couldn't call him Face. He found himself just referring to him as the 'guy'. It was as civil a term as he could use. He remembered that first time they had met up with him - with Molly. Ironic. Thank God Murdock had been able to deal with him. God only knew what might have happened to Molly - or any of them - if he hadn't. And that night when Face was so terrified that the guy was coming back. So sure he couldn't handle him on his own. And again, it had been Murdock that had finally gotten rid of him, for whatever reason. What was it about the pilot that made the guy back off?

He was glad Murdock hadn't confronted Face yet. He didn't want that to happen until BA was here. He didn't think Face was up to par physically but then he didn't have to be. Not with his training. And he'd already shown how easily he could take Murdock, even with only one good hand. And after several months of relative inactivity, Hannibal wasn't all that sure of his own abilities in a physical match up with him. He sighed. A sure sign of the toll these months had taken on his own confidence. No, he definitely wanted bulk and muscle around when the confrontation came. And it would come. It had to. No way was he going to let this guy keep Face. No way.


*****

It had been a most pleasurable interlude for him. And productive. Lot of gullible people in these rural areas. With a surprising amount of spending money. At least they did have. He grinned happily. He now had several investors in his pocket - not to mention their cash. He wasn't sure exactly what they had invested in; neither were they. But it sounded great, so everybody was happy. So good to be back in the action.

He had a nice little buzz going. Long time since he'd had that much to drink. During his past meetings with these dupes he'd nursed the booze, wanting to make sure he stayed on top of things while getting back in the groove. Today he'd celebrated with them. Had to be careful, though. Hannibal probably would not be happy with his little lieutenant imbibing. No, the good colonel was quite sure he'd been doing whatever at the church. Oh, yeah. Quite the little choirboy. He laughed out loud. God, life was good!

He pulled the car up to the garage, carefully. No point in advertising. He stumbled just a bit as he got out of the car. Careful, fella. Wouldn't be very dignified to land flat on your face. He chuckled. Flat on my Face. Love it.

Uh oh. Suck it up. Hannibal acting as his welcoming committee. Good ol' Dad. Thinks he's gonna ream me a new ass, huh? Don't push it, Colonel. Face might have taken a tongue lashing from you - not me. Go ahead, do your thing. Me, I'm hitting the rack. BA's coming later. Gotta be ready...


*****

BA pulled into the driveway late in the night. He hadn't called before arriving. He was tired and tense and just ornery enough to let the alarms wake them up. To his mile-worn mind, they should have known he would be arriving and should have been awake anyway.

Having to come back here was grating on him. And the reason for coming back - Molly and Carla - was only a small part of that. It was Face. Accept it. He didn't know what he was going to do when he saw him again. All the anger and distrust was surfacing once again, as strongly as it had that morning when Mama told him what Face had tried with Maggie. Didn't matter he'd had a fever. Face wouldn't have done it unless it was in his mind to begin with, was BA's thinking; he didn't care what Mama said about it.

Hannibal was the first one he saw coming out of the front door, armed. Murdock came running out right after. Also armed. He should've thought about that. He could've gotten himself shot coming in like he had. Well, they should have recognized the van right away anyway.

No Face.

"BA! Why the hell didn't you call us first?" Hannibal had put down his shotgun, and angrily pulled a cigar out of his shirt pocket.

"Jus wanted ta get here, Hannibal. Sorry." He didn't sound at all sorry as he opened the van, pulled out his bags. Without another word he walked past the two men and into the house. After a moment, they followed.

Face watched from the corner of the house. He'd heard the alarms, grabbed his gun from under his pillow and slipped quietly out of the door to the back yard. He watched as the van pulled up to the house and his teammates gathered. Smiled.

Almost time for the opening curtain.