CHAPTER THREE

They had gone directly to Belle Glade, to the neighborhood where the phone booth was located. There would be nothing left there now, of course, but Hannibal wanted to get a look at the area. He had a feeling their guy was still around, somewhere. That little scam with the money wasn't the objective. There was something else this guy was after.

Face stepped out of the van nervously. Kept on a mask of calm curiosity, but he was like a wound spring inside. He didn't want to look across the street. He knew exactly what was over there. A small cafe with a suspicious waitress. Who would probably remember two bums who had caused a ruckus there, but who wouldn't recognize either of them now.

"Face?"

He jumped, pulling himself back to reality. The others were staring at him. Again. Hannibal didn't look happy. Again. Damn.

He tried to sound casual. "What?"

"If we're not boring you, we were just discussing whether or not this guy would still be around here or not. What do you think?" Hannibal kept looking at him, with 'that' look.

Face looked around as if he was really thinking about it. He knew. They were probably being watched right now. That note had been left for Stockwell to find, meant for Face to understand. He was here.

"No, I don't think so, Hannibal. This guy just dumped a million in his bank account. He's going to want to enjoy it. And it wouldn't be here."

Hannibal hesitated just a moment. "Mmm, you're probably right. Well, we'll nose around a little, see if anyone noticed someone who didn't belong. There's a hotel up the street. Why don't you get us a couple rooms, Face? We'll meet you there in a few minutes."

Relieved to get away from the colonel's scrutiny, Face nodded and hurried up the street. It took only a few moments with the young, and very feminine, desk clerk, to get them a suite for the price Stockwell had allocated for two doubles. Face had wondered at the sudden frugality on Stockwell's part. Wasn't like him to worry that much about expenses. Only the outlandish ones.

Glancing out the door to make sure the guys weren't coming in yet, he made one more request. He had just concluded that business when the Team walked in. Smiling, he led them to the elevator and up to their new accommodations.

Looking around the spaciousness, Hannibal grinned. "Some things you never forget, huh, Face?"

"You are so right, Colonel."


*****

Hannibal called Stockwell shortly after they settled into the suite. When he hung up, he had a sparkle in his eye.

"Stockwell got a phone call earlier, from the guy who was supposed to get those files. Seems the thief has another deal in mind. When he was reminded that he'd already been paid, the guy told him that was only the down payment. And once again, they were able to trace the call. Came from a phone booth on the other side of town. No note this time, though." He looked over at Face. "Seems our friend is still around, after all, Face."

"Possibly. Or a confederate. I mean, you did consider the possibility that there's more than one person involved in this, didn't you, Colonel?"

The sparkle in Hannibal's eyes got just a tad steely. "Yes, Face, I took that into consideration."

Face smiled, careful not to react to the challenge. "Never underestimate the enemy, huh, Hannibal?"

"I never do, Face. I never do."


*****

The clerk at the front desk heard the front door open and sighed. It had been a busy day and she was wishing she could take a break. She looked up expectantly and was immediately drawn to a pair of eyes that would put Harrison Ford to shame. Two in one day? She should definitely have taken her uncle up on this job sooner...

"Hi. I was wondering if I could leave a message for one of your guests."

"Sure, I can get it to them for you." She smiled her sexiest smile.

He matched her smile and she damn near went through the floor. Then he handed her an envelope. She never looked at it.

"I'll make sure they get it, Mister..."

"Thanks, sweetheart." He winked at her and abruptly turned and walked out.

She watched, fascinated, until he disappeared from view. Only then did she look at the envelope. Oh, wow. They knew each other...how weird...


*****

The phone in the room rang and Murdock scooped it up.

"Wally's Bar and Grill."

"Excuse me? I was calling room 420."

"I'm sorry, little lady, this is 520." He hung up a moment later.

"Who was that, Murdock?" Hannibal looked up from the couch, where he and BA were watching a soccer game.

"Some gal, got the wrong room." He joined them on the couch, and was soon engrossed in the game.

Face had been listening from the bedroom door. He could feel his heartbeat quicken. Of course, there was always a chance it really was a wrong number, but he didn't think so. Way too coincidental. Part of him wanted to race down to the desk and collect whatever it was that had been left for him; the other part knew he would have to take his time, make it casual, or Hannibal would know without doubt that something was going on.

He carefully closed the bedroom door, leaned back against it. Why was he even doing this? He knew he should tell Hannibal everything. He knew he should be doing everything he could to bring this job to a successful end. He knew his first loyalty was with the Team.

He knew it, but he didn't feel it. Damn.

He sighed, moved to stand in front of the window. He stared down at the street, half-hoping he would catch a glimpse of him, knowing he wouldn't. Sometimes he got so mixed up, memories coming back about the men in the other room, colliding with what he had believed to be reality. And then he'd go to Hannibal to get it straight, relying on the colonel's promise that it wouldn't affect his standing with the team. But it had. The last job, Hannibal had almost babysat Face. Acted like he wasn't even as competent as Santana.

That was really when Face knew that this was not going to work. It was like trying to put the proverbial square peg in a round hole. At first, he'd wanted it to work, badly. And he did whatever he could, whatever he was told, to make it work. But even though he'd remember things, it was like watching an old movie. Just characters on a screen. It wasn't real to him. He had never gotten that connection back. And he didn't believe he ever would.

Now he had a chance to get back what he'd lost. And he wasn't going to screw it up...not for anyone.


*****

He'd gone directly to his car after leaving the hotel and headed for his new digs. A far cry from a cardboard box. He smiled bitterly at that thought. Crazy as it may be, he really wished they could go back to those days. When all they had to worry about was that day, that hour. Sure, there'd been days when they'd gone hungry, when they were cold, wet. But those problems seemed minuscule to the ones now. All the scheming and hiding...

That would be over soon. Stockwell probably thought it was over once Barish was gone, but he had no idea. Stockwell...and Carla. Thinking they had everyone where they wanted them again. Thinking they were in control. Until he'd gotten away. That upset the applecart. Created all kinds of upset.

They hadn't seen anything yet.


*****

Face had his chance later that evening. They were on their way out to find a restaurant for supper. Half a block from the hotel, Face pulled up short.

"Hey, you guys go ahead. I left my wallet back in the room."

"You won't need it, Face. Stockwell's picking up the tab." Hannibal hadn't thought he'd have to remind Face of that.

"I know, but I just feel better having it on me. You guys go ahead, I'll catch up." Without another word, he turned and hurried back toward the hotel.

"Something wrong, Colonel?" Murdock had noticed the frown on Hannibal's face. He turned and looked back at Face, already turning into the hotel.

"I'm not sure, Murdock. Something's not right, but I don't know what."

"Something about Face, Johnny?"

"What makes you say that, Frankie?"

"Well, it's just he's not really with us yet, y'know? I dunno. Maybe he shouldn't have come with us on this one."

"Face is part of the team, Frankie. Don't you forget that. We'll watch his back." BA scowled hard at Frankie, making the other man back away a step.

"Hey, no offense, BA. Really. It's just..."

"All right, enough." Hannibal put up placating hands. "Face can handle this. I never said he couldn't. This whole job just doesn't smell right. C'mon, let's go."

He didn't want the team fighting among themselves, but he agreed with Frankie for once. He never should have brought Face on this one. Not until he knew what was going on between him and Carla.


*****

The clerk smiled brightly when she saw Face coming back in the door. He strode quickly up to the desk, flashing her a brilliant smile.

"Did I do that right, Mr. Hamilton?"

"Perfect, Lisa. Absolutely perfect. My friends will never expect the surprise." He took the envelope she handed him, forcing his hand not to shake.

He hurried into the lobby and found a chair in the far corner. He held his breath as he carefully tore open the envelope. There was a note, in the same, familiar handwriting.

"Good to see you again, buddy. Time's not right yet, but I'll see you soon. Be ready."

Face smiled. 'Be ready.' As if he hadn't been ready for a long time...