CHAPTER SIXTY EIGHT

"Report?"

"Nothing on the reason for Dr. Sullivan's arrival. Captain Murdock took her back to her office this afternoon. Seems to be additional law enforcement activity around her neighborhood since then. All members of the team left in the black van approximately 27 minutes ago. Heading in the general direction of the Dana's."

Additional law enforcement activity? Had Smith recruited the local constabulary? She knew they were on fairly friendly terms. Apparently they felt Dr. Sullivan might be in some danger. Hmm. Hadn't considered that on any realistic terms, but it did open certain possibilities. She'd keep it in mind, depending on how this operation went. Interesting, too, that they took Peck with them. She hadn't expected them to include him on a mission. She would have considered him too much of a liability. Especially of late.

She'd had ample opportunities to get at Peck over the past few weeks. Smith had seemingly given the man free rein to roam all over the countryside. He'd visited a lot of rather unsavory places over that time. She'd been surprised at that. She'd made one attempt to bring him in; her people had failed miserably. He caught the tail almost immediately and lost them in the back roads. He hadn't seemed to care if he was followed, as long as they didn't get too close. In fact, he had seemed to enjoy dragging her people around. She couldn't quite figure out what was going on with him. She would find out. Eventually.

In the meantime, she needed to be near the Dana's house. Just in case. Always just in case.


*****

BA pulled the van into a parking space a block behind the address Molly had given them. Face was to go with BA around to the north, Murdock around to the south. Hannibal slid quickly along a driveway and across the Dana's back yard. Within moments the others joined him at the back door. Face was looking a bit pale, out of breath. Hannibal looked at BA, who nodded back. He was keeping an eye on him.

Hannibal knocked at the door. He had a feeling this day was going downhill fast. Joe answered the door. If there was a stereotypical warehouse worker, Joe was it. He and BA could have been salt and pepper twins. Hannibal had a little hope of salvation when Joe welcomed them in with a soft, almost cultured voice. Rough looking, soft spoken. Okay. He could deal with that.

Joe led them into the living room, where Molly was sitting in an overstuffed chair in the corner, drumming her fingers on the arm. Hannibal was somewhat amused to see that she did not appear worried or distraught as much as angry. Their dog, apparently feeling embarrassed at his nakedness, was laying curled behind the chair. He looked to be a golden. Must have been beautiful before...

Molly locked eyes with Face almost immediately.

"What's he doing here?" Not a good beginning.

"What's the matter, hon?" Joe apparently didn't catch the connection.

"That's the guy that got us into the damn mess."

Joe looked at Face. Face looked at Joe. BA looked at Joe. Joe looked at Hannibal.

"I think I would just as soon not have this man in my home, Colonel Smith."

"He's with us, Mr. Dana. He's part of the team" Trading formalities. Establishing the ground rules. Joe Dana didn't work that way.

"Then I'm afraid I'll have to ask you all to leave. We'll handle this on our own."

Hannibal had just opened his mouth to start asking for details. He stood with his mouth open for just a moment, nonplussed. He'd never run into a situation like this before.

"It's okay, sir." Face stepping forward. "I'll leave, no problem. I would like to offer my sincere apologies to your wife, and to you, sir. I never intended any harm to you or your family, and I'm sorry you're having to go through this because of me and my actions." He nodded to Maggie and Joe, and immediately walked out of the room. They heard the back door close.

"BA." The big guy was already heading out. Hannibal turned back to the Dana's.

"Okay, let's get one thing straight right now. That man is a member of my team. If he's not welcome in this house, we'll meet somewhere else from now on. What happened to your wife was bad, I realize that. But he was not himself, and I personally do not appreciate having his actions at that time held against him now. He's here to help you just as much as the rest of us are."

"But you still have to have a babysitter with him." Molly was sarcastic, still angry. She had been forgiving when she thought that whole episode was behind her. Now, not only had it come back to haunt her, others were being involved.

"BA is not babysitting. He's guarding. Face is more of a target for this person than you are. I guarantee you that." He glared at both of them. Joe had the grace to drop his eyes and sit on the couch. Molly glared back for a long moment before looking angrily out the window. She saw BA talking to Face. It didn't appear that the younger man was paying much attention. She remembered that faraway look and it made her shudder.

"Let's get this over with, please."

Hannibal and Murdock sat down to get the details.


*****

"Face, you okay, man?"

"Yeah, BA. I'm fine." He didn't look fine. He was staring off into space again. Damn.

"Face, you seein them things again?"

"A little, BA. A little..." He shook himself. Closed his eyes. Deep breaths. He opened his eyes, looking at BA. "I'm okay. Really."

"You wanna go wait in the van? Sit down?"

"Yeah, yeah, maybe I should. I got a bit of a headache..."

"Okay. Hang on." BA hurried to the front door, gave Hannibal a quick heads up as to their whereabouts, and came back to Face. "Let's go."

They walked slowly around the block to the van. BA got the idea Face wanted to talk, but was reluctant to begin. So BA kept his pace slow to match, giving him time to work up to it.

"BA..."

"Yeah?"

"Hannibal didn't intend for me to be in on this job, did he?"

Oh boy.

"Well, I think he wanted to give ya a little more time before gettin into things again, so I guess, no, he didn't intend it."

"It's all kinda foggy to me. Did I...hurt her?"

"No. Scared her bad, but you didn't hurt her."

Face watched his feet taking steps. He felt like he was just drifting along with the body.

"I fucked up a lot of things, didn't I?"

BA glanced at him. "Wasn't your fault."

"Right."

They were almost to the van.

"How long does he think will be long enough?"

Damn. He wished Face would ask Hannibal this stuff.

"I don't know, Face. Jus have to take things as they come, see how they work out."

"So maybe never."

"Can't say that, Face. You know that. You heard him in there. You're part of the team. You ain't gonna get kicked off. Jus may be doin different things than you used to. And that may only be for a little bit. Jus don't know yet."

"Yeah."

"Hey, don't get down, now, Face. It'll work out for ya. For all of us. Jus gotta give yerself some time. Don't push when you ain't ready yet. Ok?"

"Yeah."

They didn't speak again. When they reached the van, BA took a careful look around before getting in. Face was already in his seat, head back, eyes closed. BA looked at him for a long moment. Things weren't gonna be easy. Not for a long time yet.


*****

"Ma'am?"

"Hmm."

"Shall we take him? He's pretty much out in the open. Baracus as well."

"No. No, I think we'll let him go on for a bit." She watched the black van from their own, still listening to the conversation taking place in the Dana's living room. Just stating what she already knew. It had been that first little conversation she had found most engrossing. Nice little speech the lieutenant made. Smith, too. Interesting. Interesting, too, that Baracus was sticking to Peck so closely. The dynamics going on here were complicated. They were still very protective toward Peck. So he wasn't out of the woods yet. She smiled at that.

Their clients were very antagonistic toward Peck. Understandable. And convenient. That could be worked. Very nicely. The Dana's were Smith's only lead to her. And Mrs. Dana held a pretty hefty rock over their heads. Kidnapping. Possibly attempted murder. Get her angry enough, scared enough...who knows what she might do with that rock.

All in all, a very productive afternoon...


*****

The drive back to the farm was pretty quiet. It only took Hannibal about 10 minutes to go over what had happened with the Dana's. After that, no one had much to say. They didn't have much to go as to tracking down Carla. It grated on Hannibal that they would have to wait for her next move. One of them would have to stick close to the clients if they were to have any chance of locating her again. And that meant one less at the farm. Damn.

Murdock was watching Face like a hawk. Which wasn't really necessary as he seemed to be asleep most of the way back. Once back at the farm, Face almost immediately headed out to the meadow. It was clear by the way he hurried from the van he wanted no company. Murdock followed at a discreet distance.

"They didn't exactly make things pleasant for him, did they? Can't say as I blame them, though." Hannibal lit a cigar as they watched the other two men disappear.

"It ain't only that, Hannibal. He's worryin about his place on the team again. Thinkin he messed up a lot of things. He knows you didn't want him in on this one. And no, I didn't tell him that." BA scowled at Hannibal. "He figured that out hisself. So now he's wonderin if he's ever gonna get back on. One other thing." BA hated to bring it up, but Hannibal needed to know. "I think he had another of those spells, after he left the house. It was short and he got through it, but I don't like it. He gets tensed up like that, it brings them things on. That ain't gonna help him get back on the job. We gotta figure out some way to stop 'em before they start."

"Yeah, I know, BA. I know." Hannibal closed his eyes. "There's something he's not telling us yet. I don't know why, but until he comes clean with whatever it is, those things aren't going to stop."

"Yeah. I been thinkin 'bout that. He never really told us anything, y'know? Everything we know, we found out almost by accident. Maybe we need to set him down for a long talk, Hannibal. Whether he wants to or not."

"Yeah. But not yet. I don't think any of us are ready for that just yet." Or when we will be...