CHAPTER FOURTEEN

"So when do we leave?"

"Tomorrow morning. Our flight should get us in just before lunch. There is a slight change in plans. We're going to take a more 'back-door' approach this time."

Sam grinned widely as Randy outlined his changes. He'd never heard of the "Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations", but he liked the sound of the guy running it. And neither Stockwell nor the team would expect them to go this route.

"It's not fair, you know, changing the rules in the middle of the game." He mockingly scowled at his partner-in-crime.

"I know - but it's much more fun."

This part of the plan didn't involve finances, which hopefully would have thrown Stockwell off kilter a bit. There were so many people the two could go to, when it came to Otto Reich. But again, Reich wasn't the real threat to Stockwell. The earlier demands had caused financial headaches. This was the first serious step toward bringing down Stockwell's empire. The political ramifications would be tremendous, not only at home, but abroad.

And they had just gotten started.


*****

The team had arrived in D.C. that afternoon. Hannibal was spending a great deal of time on the secure phone to Stockwell. There were too many possible targets on the committee; the team wouldn't stand a chance of covering them all. Which meant involving the Ables. Which meant headaches up the wazoo.

First of all, Stockwell was insisting that if Ables would be used, he would be in charge of the operation. Hannibal told him, quite bluntly, that the team would go back to Langley in that case. The rest of the team sat around the hotel room, listening and trying to suppress their grins. There was no greater entertainment than listening to Hannibal and Stockwell go head to head.

Eventually, of course, Hannibal won out. He reminded Stockwell that if there were any problems, the general did not want to be directly connected to any of this. Reluctantly, Stockwell gave in, and set up a meeting with Hannibal and the Ables the general would be assigning to him. After that, the team spent their time going over the maps and lists of people they would have to watch. It was going to be a massive operation, and Hannibal, knowing he would be working with people who were not used to his methods, was trying hard to come up with a workable plan that wouldn't confuse everyone.

It was late in the evening when he had finally come up with the final plan and assignments. His own team would be handling the most likely contacts. The Ables were dispersed among the other lesser players. After checking out the myriad buildings, offices, and exits, Hannibal had had to move to a one-on-one plan. There were just too many places to stake out.

The Team was to meet with the Ables early in the morning, so they hit the sack early. Hannibal stared at the ceiling for a long time before giving up and quietly getting up. He stood on the balcony outside their room and stared across the lights of D.C. He wasn't fond of the city, but it could be beautiful, seen from the right place.

Naturally, his thoughts drifted to his missing lieutenant. He wondered if they were already in the city, or waiting until the last minute to make their appearance. He knew damn well the two of them would be together. He didn't know if it made him angry or sad to know that Face would be a willing participant in this. He thought about the outburst about those damn sentences, and it crossed his mind that Face may try to talk Randy out of this scheme of his. It was possible, but that would indicate a strong loyalty to the team. Strong enough to overcome Face's need for revenge. Or maybe he saw it as justice. Either way, Hannibal didn't think Face was that attached to the team to try stopping Randy. Hell, he knew it.

He knew now that they had made a huge error with Face, right from the start. He should have had time to himself, with the right doctor, to accept what had been done to him. They shouldn't have brought him back to the team so quickly, insisted on pushing him into the old routine so fast. And they damn sure shouldn't have tried to make him ignore his time with Randy.

Maybe if they had allowed him to be both Sam and Face, had accepted that Sam was as much a part of his life as the team, maybe...

Hannibal sighed and wandered back in to the room. Too many maybe's. Way too many...


*****

Sam dozed through most of the flight to D.C. He didn't like to let himself really sleep; he wasn't sure if the dreams would come again or not. He knew they came every night. Like clockwork. More of the same kind of mix-ups as that first night. They were disturbing, and yet, there was something about them that was...reassuring?

Ridiculous. How could seeing his mother with Smith be reassuring? Maybe it was just the fact that he could see his mother's face so clearly. Who she was with didn't really matter, as long as he could see her. The same with his father. They couldn't look so real, night after night, looking the same each night...not if they were just images those doctors had given him. And yet, everyone kept telling him that that's just exactly what they were. Just images. Fakes. That they had never existed.

Was that possible? Really? Could a bunch of psycho-babblists make up a whole lifetime like that? Well, given the right stimuli, he supposed it was possible. It certainly was, done the way they had with Randy. But he hadn't been drugged. Not like that. But then, he was different from Randy in one major respect.

Randy had had a family.

According to the team, to the psych, to everyone he'd met since California, he had never had a family, had no one to leave behind. No one of 'significance'. And, according to this last shrink, that's what had made it possible to make it all work without drugs. Because, subconsciously, he wanted to believe the past they gave him.

And that's why the so-called resistance in accepting the truth. His real past. It wasn't as 'all-American-apple-pie' as the lies. They had almost convinced him. Almost. They had tried, he had tried. Maybe, if they hadn't been so hell-bent on making him forget about Randy. If he had been allowed to see him, talk to him. It had been frustrating and confusing. Why not let him see Randy? What were they so afraid of?

So he'd gone back to this A-Team, and found himself working for the very man who had supposedly turned him over to these mad scientists. And he was supposed to accept that. That was where everything started breaking down for him. These guys were supposed to have known him for almost half his life, were supposed to be practically like family, and yet they wanted him to work for the man that... how the hell did they think that would ever work?

There was only one way. They thought they could convince him to believe their lies. They would make him think they were telling the truth, and everything he remembered was a lie. Make him fit into their history. Their history. Not his. Theirs.

He'd thought perhaps it was Carla and Stockwell pulling the strings. Making the decisions about Randy. But then Smith had admitted that he, and the rest of the team, were deliberately not telling him things. Things he should have been told, if they were really part of his past.

If it was his past, he should have been told. If it wasn't his past, then it wouldn't matter. But it was part of the team's past, and he was supposed to be part of the team, so...but if it was all a lie...

He was getting a headache. A bad headache. He couldn't figure out any more what he should believe. It seemed like everyone was lying to him. Smith, Murdock, Baracus, Santana - all intent on doing Stockwell's bidding. Just continue the experiment but with a set of 'facts' to make up for the fiasco in LA. Adjust to salvage what they could. Make him accept the new story.

The faces of his mother and father. So clear. So crystal clear. The memories of the team, so blurred, so hard to find...

He couldn't believe them. Not any more.


*****

The next morning Randy walked briskly up the street, looking for a particular cafe. He had made this appointment yesterday afternoon, right from the airport. The senator was a bit skeptical about making the appointment, but once Randy had given him certain information, he was willing to meet.

He found the cafe, and stepped inside, quickly scanning the occupants. He saw him at the back, in a booth. Randy sauntered in his direction, watching the other diners. No one paid any attention to him. He reached the booth, and without saying a word, slid into the seat across from the young senator. They looked at each other, carefully taking the other's measure.

"You have something for me?"

Randy took a single sheet of folded paper from his jacket pocket and slid it over. The senator opened it and quickly glanced over it. A deep frown swept over his face.

"You're sure of this?"

"Dead sure."

"Where's the rest?"

"That'll cost you."

The senator stared at him, repulsed. "Are you serious?"

"Yep."

"I can do my own digging. Our business is finished." The senator got up abruptly and headed for the cash register at the front. Randy stood, stretched, and sat down again.

At the register, the senator had just paid for his meal when another man stepped up, stumbled and fell against the senator. Apologizing profusely, the man straightened the senator's rumpled jacket and tie before backing off. The senator smiled absently at him and proceeded out the door.

Ten minutes later Randy was back at their hotel, waiting in the lobby. Sam showed up a few minutes later. They grinned at each other.

"Okay?" Randy already knew the answer, of course.

"No problem. Inside pocket, safe and sound."

"Good. I was afraid for a minute he was going ask me how much, but he didn't. Just got mad and left."

"You're sure he'll do something about it? He'll put that information to use?"

"Positive." They looked at each and grinned again, giddy with the ease of the operation. Not a sign of the A-Team or anyone else. They were probably running themselves silly trying to keep track of the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"So, ever seen the Lincoln Memorial?"