CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

Randy watched as Sam made the phone call. He'd heard the anger spring up, and knew Smith had said something about Face. After he'd hung up, Sam had silently gone into the kitchen and pulled out a beer. He stood there, drinking in long gulps, when the phone began to ring. Without moving, he told Randy to answer it.

"It'll be Baracus. You know what to do."

That conversation had been short and effective. Chuckling at the results, he'd turned back to Sam, surprised to see that he had opened a second bottle, still stood silently in the kitchen.

"Sam? You okay? It's working like a charm."

"Yeah. Great." He looked at the clock. Ten more minutes. He pulled at the beer again and felt the coarse coldness going down his throat. He was starting to feel a slight tingle now, too.

"Sam...what's going on?"

"Nothing...Smith...I shouldn't let him get to me. Him and Stockwell's damn head games...their lies..."

"Are you so sure it's all lies, Sam? What about Baracus' mother?"

Sam looked sharply at Randy. "What are you saying, Randy?" His voice was low, calm.

"I'm saying she knew who you were right away, Sam. She didn't wait for you to come to her. She knew which of us was Face."

"Damn it, Randy, there is no Face! There never was."

Randy stepped over to the small coffee table, pulling a photo album from the shelf underneath. "What are these, then, Sam?" He opened the pages, shoved the album at Sam.

Without thinking, Sam grabbed the book and looked at the pictures. Pictures from Nam. Pictures of the team. All of them.

Sam dropped the album to the floor and moved slowly to the small kitchen table. He sat, staring at the wall. He drank long and deep from the bottle of beer.

When the fifteen minutes was up, Randy made the call.


*****

BA was silent on the drive to Chicago. Hannibal had tried reassuring him, but BA just glared at him. Like it was Hannibal's fault. Frankie kept watching out the window, glancing cautiously at the front seat occasionally. Murdock was keeping up a quietly whispered conversation with his hat. Hannibal would look back at him now and then, not sure if he was just trying to amuse himself or if there were bigger problems.

Chicago was only a few hours from Indianapolis, and the team had started out first thing in the morning. They would have left that night, after the second call, but had been told to be ready to leave when they were called in the morning with instructions. It was obvious from BA's call to his mother's apartment that that's where the two men were staying, and Hannibal had been sorely tempted to crash their little party. Randy had put a kibosh to that idea by stating that they would be calling the hotel at intervals during the night and they had all better be there to answer. The two conspirators had apparently thought of every contingency. When the night passed without any checkup calls, Hannibal could have kicked himself. None of them had gotten a decent night's sleep, waiting for those calls, thinking about Mrs. B.

When the call had come that morning, early, Hannibal was not in any mood for games. He didn't know whether to be relieved or angry when it was Randy on the other end. Apparently Randy was not in the mood for long conversations, either. He tersely gave them the address of a gas station in Chicago. They were to be there at ten, by the corner phone booth. Further instructions would come then. With that, Randy had hung up.

The timing was close. They had no time for breakfast, just barely time to check out and hit the freeway. BA had said he knew approximately where the station was and how to get there. The only thing they had to worry about was getting caught in traffic. And the way BA was driving, Hannibal concluded it was probably the other cars that had to worry about them.


*****

Randy made the call in the morning. Hanging up, he sighed, and moved to the bedroom. Sam was stretched out on the bed, still sleeping. He hadn't said another word last night, just sat at the kitchen table, reaching into the refrigerator for the next beer, downing it, reaching for another. Randy tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't respond at all, so he just let him drink. After a while, Sam's eyes started glazing over, it was harder for him to hold on to the bottle. Finally, his put his arms on the table and lay his head down. Randy had half-dragged, half-carried him to the bedroom and got him on the bed, closing the door behind him. He then stretched out on the couch, television on low, and forced himself to sleep.

Today would be a hard day for both of them. He knew, and accepted without resentment, that he would be dealing with the team. He didn't want Sam going anywhere near Smith, not at this point. Too many things could go wrong. He had a pretty good idea of the kind of man Smith was, and he had developed a respect for the way the man's mind worked. So far, he and Sam had been able to stay ahead of the game, but just barely. While it was true that Sam and Randy had made the first move, after that it had become simply a matter of reacting to the other side's reacting to the previous move. There was no real plan. See what they did, do something to mitigate damages, watch them do the same. It sure as hell was no way to win a ballgame.

All the more reason to keep Sam out of the picture today. With all that he had encountered yesterday, he would be too vulnerable to Smith's mind games. Smith would make mince meat out of him. And there was no way Randy was going to let that happen.


*****

The team arrived at the gas station with less than ten minutes to spare. Hannibal stood next to the booth, BA standing guard. Murdock and Frankie stayed in the rental, watching for any ambush. Clifton seemed calm, but Murdock noticed he was watching the surroundings with every bit of attention as the rest. He didn't like the idea that they would have to watch Clifton as closely as they would Randy and Face, and knew he wasn't alone in that. None of them wanted to be dealing with two fronts, particularly when they just didn't know what the hell Face was going to do next.

The phone rang at exactly ten. Hannibal snatched up the receiver.

"Smith."

"Good morning, Colonel. Glad you could make it."

"Cut the chitchat. We're ready to deal."

Randy sighed theatrically. "Colonel Smith, really. Where's your sense of adventure? Your love of a challenge? All those things that made you such a legend in country?"

"That was then, this is now. And right now, you're holding an innocent woman who happens to be very close to this team. And we don't like that."

"Well, we can remedy that very easily, Colonel. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, thirty minutes. He goes in alone." Randy hung up.

Hannibal glared the receiver before slamming it down.

"You know a Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, BA?"

BA frowned. "Yeah, it's kinda famous around here. Just a little place, abandoned. Folks go there huntin ghosts all the time."

Hannibal sighed. "We're supposed to drop Clifton there at noon. You know the layout at all?"

"Never been there, Hannibal. But I don't think it's far. Should have time to do a quick recon."

"Okay, then. Let's go."

They would be flying by the seat of their pants again, which wasn't unusual, but Hannibal didn't like it. They'd been doing too much of it on this job. Too much jumping when the gun went off, instead of shooting first. That had to change. And soon...


*****

Randy heard Sam moving around in the bedroom and sighed. Time to lower the boom. Again.

He knocked and entered. Sam was sitting up in the bed, head held in his hands. He looked up blearily, trying to focus.

"You alive?" Randy was not about to be sympathetic. That wasn't what Sam needed this morning.

"Barely."

"Good. I've got to call Smith soon. We won't have much time to get over to the cemetery and get set up. I want you on the outside, keeping an eye on things. I'll deal with Clifton and Smith."

"Wait a minute..."

"No, Sam, you wait a minute. After last night, there's no way in hell I'm putting you up against either one of them. This was your idea, but today you follow orders. I'm not going to let you screw this up because your head's not on straight. Got it?"

A flash of anger swept over Sam's face, but he sighed and put his head back down on his hands. "Got it." He looked up, staring at the wall, not able to look at Randy. "Sorry about last night. That was stupid."

"Yeah, it was. Now get ready to go. We haven't much time."

Randy closed the door a little harder than necessary. Good. Sam was contrite, and yet that anger was simmering beneath. A perfect combination for today. Sam would follow orders to make it up to Randy, and he would vent that anger on the team and Clifton.

Fifteen minutes later, Sam came out, dressed and ready to go. He carried a long, flat case with him. After a quick, cold breakfast, they again slipped out of the apartment. Randy had already stowed the rest of their gear in the car. They would not be returning to Mrs. B.'s apartment.

As Randy drove, Sam quickly slipped into camouflage fatigues in the back seat. They made one stop, to call Hannibal. It only took a few more minutes to arrive on the back side of the cemetery. Without a word, Sam stepped out of the car, assembled his sniper rifle, and headed off. He would station himself high in the trees, a spot they had picked out yesterday. They had found the cemetery after visiting the Historical Society. One glance at the information on the 'haunted cemetery' and they had grinned in unison. It seemed the perfect place.

Randy climbed through a hole in the fence and stationed himself behind one of the few remaining monuments. The cemetery was over-grown and scattered with trash and vandalized stones. There were any number of places to hide in the jumble without being seen, and still have a view of the carelessly locked front gates. Randy glanced at his watch. They had made good time.

He figured the team would arrive any minute.