JULY 10
Lion's Paw
Holiday: Don't Step On a Bee Day

BA didn't like it, and he knew none of the others did, either, but there hadn't been much choice. Face was procuring the supplies they had to have for the next phase, Murdock was bringing the chopper (and BA knew damn well what that meant, in the long run) and Hannibal himself was parlaying with the head honcho - just buying time until BA's part was finished. Well, BA's and now Amy's as well.

Had one of the others been along, they would've provided the diversion while BA was tapping their lines, setting up the camera. That would've been okay - they'd done it a hundred times, knew how it worked - knew when it was going sour. With Amy...hell. She knew what she was doing, as far as that went. She'd been with them long enough, and Hannibal and Face had worked with her. A lot. Still, he knew he'd be spending as much time watching out for her as he did planting those wires. He couldn't help it. And that wasn't good.

He shook his head, staring at the fast-running creek ahead of them. Another one of those things that made Hannibal's plans...Damn. So much for the flat tire trick. BA hadn't wanted to bring Amy's car, either, and here was a darn good reason why. No way that low-slung compact would get through that water. He looked across the creek. The road looked good, if muddy. Bridge couldn't have been out that long. Well, maybe this could work anyway. Back the car up a ways, flatten the tire...yeah, Amy would look even more 'helpless' after crossing that creek and walking the half-mile to the house. Yeah.

They worked their way across the creek, BA holding Amy's hand, occasionally grabbing her arm to keep her on her feet as the water did its best to take them both right along with it. As they slid to the damp ground on the other side, he had to wonder if this was such a good idea after all. Amy looked more than "helpless"; she looked exhausted. But she smiled wanly at him, pulling her shoes off to get the pebbles and sand out. Not a bad idea, as he felt an offending stone press into his ankle.

BA had one boot back on and was starting to empty the second when Amy suddenly shouted and jumped away. Immediately BA was up, stepping to her side, glancing in all directions. Just as immediately he realized why she'd hollered - a small swarm of angry bees surrounded them.

And BA had just stepped on one.

He fell away to the side, rolling out of the way and into the creek, garnering a few more stings along the way. The water shoved him several yards downstream before he was able to pull himself out once more. The swarm had followed him but, apparently frustrated by the water, had moved off. He lay on the bank, breathing hard, feeling every hot needle the attackers had left behind. Not even that gunshot to his leg had hurt this bad; made him sick to his stomach and dizzy.

He heard Amy came stumbling up to him.

"You okay, Amy?" Damn, his voice sounded like it was barely a whisper.

"I'm okay. A couple stings. Are you?"

"I don't know. I got stung..." He waved an arm. It took too much effort to talk.

"We have to get back to the car, BA. You're covered in them."

"No, we gotta - "

"No way you're going to be able to do anything with those guys, BA. Can you even walk?"

For the first time, BA realized he might be in real trouble. Amy's voice was...scared. How many times had he been stung? Amy was right; the wiretap would have to wait. He had to get them out of here. And from the way his head was pounding, he had to do it soon.

"BA. BA? You're not allergic, are you?"

Eyes closed, he shook his head, gently. Very gently. Just as carefully, he started to rise, feeling Amy's hands on his arm, pulling. He would've laughed any other time. Like a bit of a woman like Amy could pull him up. Just the same, he was grateful to have her there, helping him keep his balance.

No sooner had that thought run through his head than he felt himself slide back to the ground.

This was not good.

He looked up, staring glassily at the rushing water in front of him. It made his stomach churn even more and he quickly closed his eyes again. No way he could get across that and he'd just end up taking Amy down with him.

"Amy." God, it was hard to talk. "You gotta get to the car. Call Hannibal."

"I can't leave you, BA!"

"You got to, Amy. I can't...you gotta go. Now."

For a moment there was silence, then he heard her step toward the creek.

"I'll be back as soon as I can, BA."

He nodded and lay back on the damp ground. He could hear her splashing through the water, and he thought she might have fallen once, maybe twice. Nothing he could do about that, other than hope she made it across without getting hurt herself.

Nothing at all he could do...


*****

Amy stopped suddenly at the knock on the door. Glancing at the clock and frowning, she cautiously peeked through the peephole. Surprised, she stepped back and opened the door.

"BA! What's the matter?" At this time of night, there had to be a problem. "Is everybody okay?"

BA looked down, obviously embarrassed. "No, they all right. I just..."

He handed her a small box. Clueless, Amy opened the box. Inside was a small pendant. A bee of gold and silver filigree.

"BA, you didn't have to..."

She smiled softly, shaking her head.

BA was already well on his way to the elevator.

FINI