"Gentlemen, I have a new assignment for you."
Hannibal looked up sharply. "I thought we said nothing new for a while." He looked over at Face, who was discussing with Frankie the finer points of safe cracking. Face, taking the side of finesse, Frankie liking explosives. They ignored Stockwell.
Face had been doing pretty well, all things considered. There were still too many times when something would be said and he'd get a completely blank look on his face. That would be followed by an embarrassed silence, which Face would try to laugh away. But everyone knew it bothered him. On the last mission, Hannibal had found himself double-checking, making sure Face remembered not only things that he had assumed Face knew, but that he remembered what he had just been told. It wasn't good for either of them.
"I know that, Colonel, but this can't wait. And it's important that the Team handle it. As per our agreement..."
Hannibal sighed with deep annoyance. If Stockwell brought up that damned pardon one more time...
"All right, Stockwell, let me get the guys and you can drop this new emergency on us."
Murdock arrived a few minutes after the rest of the guys had arranged themselves in the living room. He was still wearing his newest uniform, a dark green shirt proudly proclaiming "Hill's Nursery" across the back. He was not happy.
"General, how do you expect me to maintain my new lifestyle if, every time I get the hang of things, you come in and pull me off the job to run another mission?"
"If you're having problems, Captain, I suggest you go back to LA, where you were supposed to be anyway."
Murdock made a face at Stockwell's back as he stepped into the living room and flopped unceremoniously down next to Frankie, who gave him sympathetic smile. Face, on Murdock's other side, had to think fast as to why Murdock was supposed to be in LA; one of those things he'd been told but hadn't actually remembered. All he remembered was something about dogs...
Hannibal caught the flash of uncertainty on his lieutenant's face but let it go. If it were something important, he knew Face would seek him out later and ask about it. That in itself was a change. Normally, Face would never talk to Hannibal about anything that made him appear a liability to the team. He would either work it out for himself or get help from Murdock or even BA. Now, it was Hannibal, and Hannibal alone, that Face turned to.
Hannibal absent-mindedly took one of the envelopes Carla was handing out. That Face was putting on such a facade for the others told of just another problem that had not been resolved - trust. Even though Face came to him for his questions, it was more because Hannibal had told him over and over that he could and it wouldn't be held against him later. He would not go to the others. Hannibal had asked him about it once, and hadn't liked the response.
"If they have doubts about my ability to do the job, it's much easier to..." There he had stopped, looking uncomfortable.
"Much easier to what, Face?"
The answer was almost mechanical. "Liabilities have to be...reduced..." He'd stopped again, hurried on. "I know that's not the way it is here, Hannibal. I know that...intellectually...but..."
"Okay, Face. As long as you know it 'intellectually', we'll work on the other as we go." Hannibal wondered then, and many times after that, how long it would take before the trust that had taken so long to build in the first place would be rebuilt. And how many problems it might cause in the meantime...
"This will be a retrieval mission, gentlemen." Stockwell looked from one man to the next, gauging their reactions. As expected, they ranged from bored to resigned. Except for Peck. He was totally without expression, simply waiting for the information. Interesting. "Some very delicate files were on their way to the United States from one of our, shall we say, less than friendly neighbors to the East. The courier was found dead in Miami, and no trace was found of the files.
"A few days after the disappearance, the person for whom these files were intended received a phone call. Very short, very succinct. One million dollars to be paid into a Swiss bank account, by a given date, in exchange for the files."
"And the money was paid into the account, which was immediately transferred to...what, the Caymans? And no files." Face looked up at Stockwell. He had not even opened his envelope yet.
"Exactly, Lieutenant. The job of the Team is to find those files."
"Don't suppose you have a location in mind?" Hannibal pulled out a cigar and casually lit it, knowing the Ables would complain as soon as they came back in.
"Actually, we were able to trace the call." Hannibal raised his eyebrows in surprise. That was pretty amateurish of the thief. "It was a public phone, and the receiver had deliberately been left off the hook. There was also a little note left." Stockwell pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Hannibal. It said, "Gotcha!"
Hannibal grinned as he passed it along to the rest of the Team. Neither Stockwell nor Carla thought it that funny.
"And this public phone was where, General?" Hannibal continued to grin as he puffed away. His respect for their new adversary had grown.
"A little town in Florida." Stockwell looked over to Carla.
"Belle Glade, General."
"Hey, watch it, Face!" Murdock jumped up, wiping the beer from his jeans as Face hastily retrieved both the bottle and the note from the floor.
It didn't escape Hannibal's notice that Face had turned just a shade pale, or that as soon as he'd straightened up, he'd stared right at Carla. And Carla had that now familiar shit-eating smile on her face.
The Team spent the next half hour going over the details with Stockwell, what little he had. A list of known political extremists who could have known about the transfer, people from the country where the files had originally been stolen from, and various local thugs. None of them seemed to fit the personality of the thief, to Hannibal's thinking.
Stockwell and Carla left shortly thereafter, and again, Hannibal noted that Face had made a surreptitious, and unsuccessful, attempt to pull Carla to one side before she walked out. There was something the two of them knew and Hannibal intended to join the club.
Face, meanwhile, had managed to slip away from the house unnoticed. He desperately needed time to himself, to think. Hannibal and the rest of the Team didn't know about Belle Glade. Not that he, or anyone else for that matter, had deliberately not told them. It just hadn't come up. Not too much about the time before California had. At first, Face had been in no shape to talk about any of it. Later, no one asked. And that had started the real problems.
Not that he blamed them. Not really. They were so concerned about getting his memories back, they had concentrated only on that. Even after he started seeing that psych, they hadn't talked about anything other than his 'old' life. Once he was back in Langley, it was as though he'd lost everything else as well. No one seemed to care that he had lost more than his memory. He'd lost everything he had thought was his life.
Oh, they were sympathetic when he'd wonder what had happened to all of them afterward, but no one asked what they had done, where they had been, what it had been like. He even tried to talk about some of the things they'd done, like going to Loring Park, but it seemed to make everyone else uncomfortable, so he'd quit.
The worst part was having to be nice to Carla, because Carla was the only one who knew, who really knew, what had happened. And she wouldn't tell him where any one was now. Just kept saying they were well, and that he should just get on with his life, like they were. As if it were that easy. Suddenly thrust in with a bunch of strangers who were supposedly as close as family to him. Being watched and pitied and 'encouraged'...like he was getting over some dread disease, instead of having lost...hell, say it, instead of having just lost his best friend.
And then he'd looked at that note, and recognized the handwriting. Immediately. And heard the name, Belle Glade.
It had to be him. And Carla knew it...