CHAPTER TWO

BA and Frankie had already gone to their rooms to start packing. Murdock was sitting on the couch, a scowl on his face. Hannibal wanted to find Face and have a talk with him, but decided to take care of Murdock first.

"Problem, Captain?"

Murdock tossed a none-existent something to the floor and sighed.

"I just really liked this new job, Hannibal. And I was good at it. But I'm gonna lose it now..."

"You don't have to go, Murdock." Hannibal sat down beside him. "You're not under the gun like the rest of us. It's your choice. And no one, no one would blame you if you said enough's enough. After all these years, we've all had at least a semblance of a normal life. All of us except you. Maybe now it's your turn."

"Hannibal, I can't do that. I like my job, and I like having my own place and all, but...geez, it would be so boring...I gotta be around you guys to really, really feel alive, y'know? I just wish Stockwell would be a little more...convenient."

Hannibal chuckled. "I know, he's not real concerned about our private lives. Well, guess we'll all just have to be patient for a while longer. Once we get our pardons, then we'll all be making some changes. In the meantime, I'm glad you're on board, Captain."

Leaving Murdock to curse Stockwell's future generations, Hannibal went outside and began looking for Face. Somehow he didn't think this conversation would be concluded so easily.


*****

Face was so deep in thought he almost didn't hear the footfall behind him. Almost. He whipped around, pistol in hand, relaxing when he saw Hannibal.

"I thought we talked about that, Face." The colonel wasn't happy.

"I thought you were going to give me some warning," he snapped back. He immediately regretted it. That wasn't the way you talked to your superior officer. "Sorry, Hannibal. I'll work on it."

Hannibal just looked at him and then sat down on the lounge chair next to him. He didn't say anything for a while, just pulled out a cigar and waited. Face belatedly pulled out the lighter for him. Another dumb thing he had to remember. Why the hell couldn't the man light his own cigar? Inwardly he took a deep breath. To the old Face, it was just a habit, another thing the 'new' Face had to develop.

"Something about this mission that bothers you, Lieutenant?"

"No, why should it?"

"You're not in the habit of dropping your beer, for one thing. Nor of going for a walk instead of getting ready for the job."

Shit. Hannibal never missed anything.

"Hey, the beer was just an accident, Hannibal. Don't make a big deal out of it."

"And the walk? You'd normally be figuring out what we were going to need for this job, not wandering around with your head in the clouds."

"In case you hadn't noticed, a lot of things aren't 'normal' any more." The best defense was a good offense. "This is a habit I picked up while I was gone, okay? Taking a little time to ground myself before hand. If I'd done this on those other jobs, maybe they would have gone a little smoother."

"I thought maybe you were trying to figure out how to get in touch with Carla."

"Carla? What the hell for? She never tells me anything anyway. You know that."

Hannibal wasn't quite satisfied, and Face knew he had to keep just the right look on his face or Hannibal would know there was more to it. He also knew not to be the first to speak.

Hannibal sighed and looked away. "Okay, Face, if that's the way you want it. You've got an hour to finish your 'grounding' and get ready to go." He stalked away to the house.

It wasn't really the way Face wanted it. Face wanted to be able to tell the colonel everything he suspected, everything he knew. But it was the Team's job to take down the thief. It was Face's job to protect him.

That's what they had always done for each other.


*****

"I've never known Peck to be clumsy, have you, Carla?" Stockwell was casually watching the scenery pass by the limo windows.

"No, General, I hadn't really noticed that before."

"What do you suppose caused that little reaction? Hmm?"

"He was sitting next to Captain Murdock. That in itself would rattle most people."

"Ahh, but that shouldn't bother the lieutenant. He's known Murdock for years."

"The 'original' lieutenant did, sir. This one is still getting used to him."

"Point taken, Carla." He continued to peruse the view. "I supposed we should be expecting any number of surprises from him. At least until his memory fully returns."

"I would say so, yes, General."

Stockwell chuckled. "That should make things very interesting. For everyone."

Carla smiled in turn. Interesting was not the word she was thinking of.


*****

He was watching out of the apartment window. He wasn't expecting anyone, not yet, but he kept a close watch, just in case. He'd learned the hard lessons of getting complacent. It wouldn't happen again. Which didn't preclude having a little fun along the way. Like that note. He smiled at that.

He figured Stockwell would have the famous A-Team on his tail within another day or so. It would take that bitch that long to persuade him that they were the only ones who could handle this job. He wondered if she would tell him about the real connection to Belle Glade, or keep that as one of her many little secrets. Probably keep it to herself. Never tell too many too much. But she would find some reason to use the Team. He'd known that from the start. Because of Face.

Face. It had taken him a long time to find him again. Carla had done everything she could to keep him from finding out. But there were files, and where there were files, there were ways of accessing them. And finally he'd found the right ones. Face. It had taken some effort to use that name instead of the one he knew. But he did. When they met up again, he didn't want to confuse things for either of them. If that was the name his friend had used, was using, then that's what he would call him. And they would definitely meet up again. Because of Carla.

Carla really was a vengeful kind of person. She didn't like the idea of his being 'the one that got away'. After all she had done for him. He should feel truly ungrateful for slipping away at the first opportunity. Yeah, right. Promises of bringing back his memory, helping him get back to his people again, just like they were doing for Face. And he'd gone along with it...for a while. He'd started remembering things alright. And that's where Carla's little plans had gotten fucked up.

He'd started making his own plans, but they hadn't really gelled until he found out about his people, his friends. The ones he'd always wanted to go back to, just as Face had been wanting his. And found out they were all dead. He'd gone all this time thinking he had someone waiting for him, only to find out they had gone just before the whole experiment had started. Which was why he was chosen. Because they knew he had no one. And that's why Carla had thought she could hold him. Because, after all, what else did he have?

She hadn't counted on Face. Hadn't counted on the fact that he knew Face would not abandon him, nor he, Face. Had seriously underestimated the bond the two men had formed.

I took care of him; he took care of me. Always. Always in that life, anyway. And, like himself, he knew his friend was fitting into his 'old' life with as much ease as a turtle on his back. The re-integration had gone to two extremes, both equally guaranteed to fail. Taking two men who had learned to rely exclusively on each other, who believed they had only the other; throwing one into a gang of men he didn't remember, the other into a void with no one to turn to. Neither would be happy with their situation. Both would miss their other half. The certainties of that connection. And eventually they would both make the move to reunite.

He just happened to have gone first.

It had been a twist of fate that he'd learned of these files being transferred. Good luck for him, bad luck for the courier. If he'd been a few minutes earlier, the guy would still be alive; but, that was hardly his problem. He'd interrupted things in time to grab the prize for himself, which was all he really cared about. And now he sat with mega-bucks in a secret account, and the prize within easy reach when he needed it. The prize Stockwell wanted, anyway.

His prize would be on his way in another day or so.