CHAPTER FIVE

He had one more call to make before he took to the road. He knew there was a problem within the Team. Watching the sudden departure from the restaurant, he'd known then that he would have to work fast. He'd apparently underestimated the strain his friend had been under. It should have been obvious, being confronted daily with people he was supposed to care about and not remembering them. It would have been much worse than his own situation, having to deal with memories alone, no one else to deal with.

He quickly dialed the number that would bypass all the assistants and delays. A direct line he shouldn't have had. A consequence of having too much confidence in security systems. A consequence of underestimating the enemy. Of course, she hadn't known he was the enemy at that point.

The call was answered curtly. She would be expecting anyone except him.

"Hello, Carla. How are you today?"

"I won't bother asking how you got this number. What do you want?"

"Just calling to chat, Carla. It's been a while since we talked, you know."

"Do you still have the files?"

"Oh, yes. Safe and sound. Feel better?"

"What do you want? You've already been paid very well for them. And reneged on your end."

"Now, that's not quite true. If you ask Mr. Bellows, he'll tell you that I said the money would be a start. He neglected to tell you that, didn't he?"

"So what do you want?" Carla was sounding more and more impatient. He smiled at that.

"Lex talionis."

"What do you mean?"

"Ah, Carla. Retribution is what I want. Retribution in all its forms."

He hung up then, hearing her questions and demands and ignoring them.

Off-balance. Just the way he wanted them...


*****

It was three days of hell for the team. They canvassed the streets, stopping everyone they met, talking to shopkeepers, trying to get any clue as to strangers that had been in the area. They split up, covering both parts of town where the phone calls had come from, knowing it was really just a way to occupy their time.

Face knew their quarry was gone. What he wasn't sure of was where he had gone. West, to Colorado? North, to Minnesota? Where would Face go, under similar circumstances? That was easy.

Part of him said to drop everything and hit the road. It was getting too close with the guys. They were watching him, all the time. No matter where he went, what he did, one of them was close at hand. All very casual about it, and they maintained a 'reasonable' distance, but it was obvious to him. He cursed his own stupidity for that night at the restaurant. All the more reason for him to want to bolt. He didn't like being under such scrutiny. He didn't like anyone watching him. Spying on him.

But the other part of him, the practical part, knew he had to wait. There was some plan in place, some scheme that had to play out first. He had a pretty good idea what that was all about, too. Barish was gone, there was nothing they could do about him. But there were others, just like the good doctor. And Stockwell. Impatient as he was, he knew he had to wait, wait until certain things were in place.

And if things went the way he thought, he would not only have his friend back, they would have their revenge as well.

He smiled, and moved on to the next shop.


*****

The third call came that night, the product of that call the next morning. The bank where Stockwell's organization did some of its business was seized by the Fed. Certain irregularities had been discovered, thanks to some information which had been delivered to the authorities the day before. It wasn't a disaster, but it caused 'complications', as Stockwell put it.

"So where did the call come from?" Hannibal was on the phone with Stockwell, neither man happy that they still hadn't gotten anywhere near their thief.

"Minneapolis, Colonel. I want the team there ASAP. There's a small private airfield just outside Belle Glade; the jet is already there, waiting."

"I want to know what else is in those files, General. Is it just your organization that's involved? Or are there others?"

Stockwell sighed. "There are others, Colonel, but I'm not at liberty to say which ones. That is strictly..."

"Need to know, right. All right, Stockwell. We'll pack up and head out. But you better come up with something more for us to go on, or it's just going to be another wild goose chase."

Stockwell hung up without responding.


*****

He was taking a long, slow walk along the busy streets. Remembering. The first place he'd gone was the underpass where they had lived in their little boxes. The boxes, of course, were long gone. Any trace of the two men were long gone. New people had moved in. Not very friendly people, either. Oh well. Can't go home again...

He'd walked from there to the half-way house. He only spent a few moments looking at that. It held no happy memories. Just clearing out the cobwebs here.

It was then he'd started the long part of his walk. He could have done it with his eyes closed. Past the deli - damn, Joey was still working there. He watched him through the window, waiting on customers. Ha! He'd grown a mustache. Fancy that...

He continued his walk, looking at all the familiar places, people. Of course, no one recognized him now. He even stopped and chatted with a couple of people who had been helpful to the pair, but although they spoke pleasantly enough to him, it was clear they only saw a stranger. It was depressing, in a way.

Finally he reached his destination. Loring Park. How many hours had they spent here, wandering the paths, circling around the lake. Oh, they'd gotten some looks from the gays cruising around, but as long as they stayed together, they had no problems. He had to watch himself here alone, though. Not that he was afraid of an assault; he just wasn't in the mood for fending off friendly advances.

He wandered the park for a while longer, enjoying the feeling of really being home again. This had definitely been their favorite place. As he headed back down the street, he stopped. A "for rent" sign sat in the window of a basement apartment. He smiled.

What better place for a fresh start? At least, when he'd finished his job...


*****

They lucked out. BA didn't even show signs of waking up until they were in the limo on the way to the hotel. Face ignored his outburst, growing impatient with the continual complaints about flying. He had the greatest urge to just tell the guy to shut up and grow up, but he knew better. He was Face, after all. Face indulged the man. And Face would never stand a chance against BA. Like hell. Face just never showed BA what he could really do. But for now, he just put up with the irritant. He was finding so many things about this group to be, well, irritating. Very irritating.

Over the last couple of days, he'd been thinking a lot about his history with the Team. He found it hard to believe that he could have stayed with them for all those years. But then again, he was a different person from the young kid that had been so easily influenced by the Great Colonel Smith. He could understand how someone like Face would have come under the spell of someone like Smith. It was almost inevitable. Two of a kind, almost. What he hadn't figured out yet was whether Face had been like Smith before the two met, or had he molded himself into that after? How much had Smith deliberately influenced the young kid?

Well, the younger Face was easy enough to figure out. But why on earth had he stayed with these guys so long? From everything he'd learned about, well, himself, he would have been quite capable of making a living - a good living - on his own, on the run or not. Why had he allowed himself to stay under Smith's dominance?

And then there was Murdock. He would never understand that attachment. Never. Pity? Possibly. Certainly not now. Murdock was dangerous. Apparently hadn't been out the nut house that long. Everyone kept telling him the stories, the weird antics Murdock had gone through. He didn't know whether to believe them or not. He certainly hadn't seen any of that in Langley. Eccentricities, certainly. But he'd seen more of a dark side than a humorous one. And Face was supposedly his best friend. That just didn't make any sense at all.

The other two - BA and Santana - he would've dropped those two in a second. BA bounced between being someone's nightmare come true and a real wuss. Afraid of flying? But then maybe that wasn't so far-fetched. Most bullies were real weenies when it came down to it. Oh, sure, he was good when they'd gone on those few missions since his return. But so were a lot of people he knew.

Wait. No. People he'd thought he knew. Face shook his head. Damn it, this was where all the shit got confused again. His past, the past he knew as his, didn't exist. The past he'd never heard of was real. The Team - they were his friends, his family. Anyone else didn't exist.

Except...him. He was real. Face knew that. He knew that.

After all, he had the note.