CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

Instinctively, Randy dropped to a crouch, sliding Clifton roughly to the ground beside him. He wasn't sure where the shot had come from, who it was aimed at. He took in the surrounding area quickly, efficiently, and saw the pilot kneeling beside a body. Looked closer, saw the body was moving, hands trying to stifle the blood flow from a wound high up on the leg. Damn, this wasn't supposed to happen!

He watched cautiously as Murdock pressed his hands over the colonel's, putting pressure on the wound. Randy hesitated only a moment, then, still crouched, raced the last few yards to the car. Pulling the keys, he popped open the trunk and grabbed the med kit from their belongings. Whatever the reason for Sam shooting the man, there was no way Randy was going to walk away from it. If anything happened to Colonel Smith...


*****

Murdock swung his rifle up as Randy hurried toward them. No way this bastard was going to finish the job...

Randy stopped short, held the med kit off to the side, his other hand up in the air.

"You can shoot me or let me help, the choice is yours."

"Help? You got him shot..."

"Murdock..." Both men started at Hannibal's voice. "Murdock, let him...not much choice..."

"Colonel..."

"Captain, I really...don't want to bleed to death..."

With a final glare at Randy, Murdock put his weapon on the ground, keeping it close. Randy stepped up, quickly flipping open the med kit. Without further conversation, the two men started cleaning and bandaging the wound.


*****

He ran through the brush, no longer sure which direction he was going. He kept hearing the shot, seeing the colonel fall. Other pictures were shooting through his head, as well. Pictures he didn't understand, people he didn't know, places he'd never been. All the things Hannibal had told him, the team had told him, all the past he couldn't believe, all the lies...but they pushed through anyway. He had to get to Randy. Get back to reality.

Get rid of that voice screaming in his head, accusing him...


*****

BA was muttering angrily as he took the last corner and Frankie kept as close to the door as possible. They were pulling up to the first address after racing through traffic and Frankie was feeling more than a bit queasy. He hadn't liked the ride, didn't like the looks of the dilapidated building, and was more than nervous about what they might find there. He knew Hannibal didn't think they'd find anything, or he never would have sent Frankie with BA, but all the same...

BA had a good memory for his Chicago, as the address they'd been given matched the warehouse. The building was sagging at the roofline, and there was no sign anyone but vandals had been inside for years. It took BA only a few moments to find a door that had been broken open; a quick look in the empty, echoing building told them no one was inside, and certainly there had been no one there in some time. BA's muttering grew more agitated as he hurried back to the car, Frankie scurrying to keep up. The next address was an unknown, but BA figured it would take a good ten minutes to get there. Based on Randy's timetable, they would have just over twenty minutes to check it out and get to the other two.

Frankie hoped Johnny was right about this being a diversion...


*****

Hannibal watched Randy as carefully as he could through the pain. The man's expression was grim and concentrated, which was expected, but he kept glancing up, toward the cemetery. Each time, there was a flash of anxiety. Hannibal knew Randy was waiting for Face, knew things weren't supposed to have happened like this; he really had not planned on anyone getting seriously hurt. Hadn't expected it. Especially hadn't expected it from Face. And that worried Hannibal as much as he knew it was worrying Randy.

Murdock tied off the bandage and Hannibal grimaced as the knot tightened on his leg. He knew he had been lucky. Another inch or two to the left and the bullet would have sliced through the artery. Was it luck, too, that he'd been hit in the leg and not the head or chest? Or had Face done that deliberately? A mix of protecting Randy and anger at Hannibal, but coupled with some remnant of the real Face? Enough of a remnant to keep him from killing Hannibal outright?

Randy stood, looked once more toward the cemetery. Murdock stood also, picking up his rifle as he did. Hannibal didn't like the look on the pilot's face. Randy glanced at Hannibal before fixing his glare on Murdock.

"Murdock..." Hannibal disgustedly noticed how weak his voice sounded. "Let him go. Face won't let you take Randy, you know that."

Murdock's glare moved from Randy to Hannibal for a split second, but the gun remained directed at Randy.

"He's right, Murdock. Sam's not going to like you pointing that thing at me. And don't forget our little guest, Clifton. You really think you can handle three very uncooperative prisoners, and take care of your colonel? That's just a little on the superhuman side, my friend."

Murdock shifted the weapon, tightened his grip.

"Captain, let him go. We've got enough to deal with." When Murdock still hesitated, Hannibal forced all the strength he had into his voice. "That's an order, Captain."

Hannibal saw Randy step away, heard him running. Murdock stood, gun dropping away, pointing at the ground. Hannibal breathed a sigh of relief. As long as no one ended up knocking Clifton's teeth out, the team would have time to find them again. Right now, he just wanted a nice, comfortable hospital bed...


*****

He stumbled against the fence, his eyes on the car. He didn't see Randy. Where was he? He was supposed to meet him at the car. He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to...

He saw him then, kneeling over the colonel...working with Murdock. Working on Smith. Why? Why was Randy helping them? They were the enemy. The team wanted to stop them. Why would Randy help them? What was going on?

He stepped back away from the fence, melting into the brush. The images he thought he'd pushed back came clamoring in again. Watching the three men, he saw, not Randy, but Face working on the colonel. The Chicago field turned green and overgrown, traffic noise from the nearby highway disappeared amidst the sound of nearby shelling. He could feel the soggy clinging of humidity-drenched clothing, smell the overpowering odor of rotting vegetation.

It was a lie...he'd never been with these men...never. But the images kept coming, relentlessly, over and over. Hannibal was there, wounded, and he and Murdock had had to wrap up his leg wound before BA had helped haul his ass over to the chopper...he remembered holding onto Hannibal as they'd pulled abruptly up from the jungle floor, keeping him still, telling him to hang on...landing at the base, running alongside the stretcher as the medics raced to the triage area...covered in Hannibal's blood...refusing to leave until the doc's told him his colonel was okay...

His colonel...lies...Hannibal...it had to be...lies...


*****

Randy didn't wait for Murdock's reaction, knowing that none of Smith's men would disobey a direct order. And he had bigger fish to fry now. He'd seen Sam come to the corner of the cemetery fence, hesitate, and then move back into the woods. Randy raced toward him.

It took him a few moments to find him. He was standing perfectly still, looking off into space. Randy stopped, approaching him quietly, but keeping in view. He didn't like the look on Sam's face; confusion, anger. Who knew what might happen if Randy startled him?

"Sam?"

Sam's eyes slowly focused on Randy. He frowned, still seeming confused.

"Sam, we need to get moving. Now, before Baracus and Santana get back here. Sam? You with me here?"

Sam slowly nodded, but didn't move. Cautiously, Randy reached over, gently grasped Sam's arm. "C'mon, buddy, let's go to the car. Okay?"

Again, Sam nodded. Together they moved toward the car. Minutes later, they were on the road, heading west. Randy stopped once, at a strip mall, where he placed a quick call. Carla. No chit chat, no goading. Just gave her the location where he'd left Smith and Murdock. Two minutes later they were back on the road.

Sam hadn't said a word.


*****

Murdock sat, dangling his cap in his fingers. Occasionally he would glance over at BA or Frankie. He ignored the two Ables who sat across the waiting room from them. Hannibal had been taken into surgery an hour before, and, at least according to the ER doctor, should be out anytime. The bullet had gone through his thigh, doing some damage to the muscle but otherwise was a clean wound. The doctor had said there shouldn't be any complications. Hannibal was a lucky man, according to him.

Murdock wasn't feeling that lucky. He was totally confused. He had felt so angry, right up until Frankie had said something about it being a good thing Face hadn't wanted to kill Hannibal. That was when Murdock had finally realized the truth. Face was too good a shot to be off that much. Had he wanted to kill Hannibal, he would have.

But then he also remembered the look on Randy's face when he'd come running up to them. Thinking back on it, Murdock realized that Randy really had not expected anything like this to happen. That he was as surprised and shocked as Murdock. And that's when Murdock knew that Randy had no more control over Face - or Sam - than the team had. And that's when he knew that Face was in deep trouble.


*****

Randy drove with determination, not caring where, as long as they left Chicago far behind. The original plan, to rent a house to work on Clifton, was out the window. He knew Carla would be running things now, running the team and the Ables, synchronizing the search. At this point, she would be calling in favors on Stockwell's behalf, contacting local, state, maybe even federal resources. Now they had a focal point, a time frame to work with. Murdock would be able to give a description of the car, of that he was sure. Carla would make sure the authorities knew the two men were armed and dangerous. Might even mention drugs. Definitely kidnapping. Make them into total monsters. Make sure they were returned to Stockwell in body bags if at all possible.

He wasn't sure what the remains of the team would do. Baracus might be placated on one front. They had left a note at his mother's apartment, telling the man how to reach her. But then there was Smith. He had a feeling the rage Murdock had exhibited was nothing compared to Baracus' reaction. Put those two together, add in Santana - it wouldn't be good.

They stopped for gas in a small off-the-beaten-path village. Randy noted a small station wagon parked in back as he came out of the restroom. Looked around. Nothing within sight of it. Drove the rental car around the block, coming up behind the station a few minutes later. He parked off to the side. It was late in the afternoon. The sign on the station door had said they closed at six. He would wait.

He thought about Clifton, still tied up in the trunk. He'd had to stop once, when the prisoner's banging on the lid and shouting had gotten to be too much. He'd threatened to knock him over the head again if he didn't shut up. One look at Randy's face and Clifton had acquiesced. There hadn't been a sound out of him since. Once they had the station wagon, Clifton would be able to at least stretch out in the rear. For two cents, Randy would just leave him here in Podunk Holler and forget the whole thing. He had other, greater problems now.

He looked over at Sam. His friend had not said a word since the cemetery. Had stared in front of him, hardly even blinking. Randy looked at Sam's hands, tightly clenched in his lap. There was slight tremble there. Randy wanted to talk to him, find out what the hell had happened back there, but he didn't dare. Not now. He had no idea what Sam might do. So he sat, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, waiting.

At five minutes after six, the gas station attendant stepped around the corner of the building, sauntering toward his car, head down as he sorted out his keys. He never saw Randy. Moments later he was deposited in the back seat of the rental car.

Randy hauled a sore and stiff Clifton out of the trunk, and bundled him quickly into the back end of the station wagon. He quickly tossed a light-weight blanket over him, with a warning look. Clifton didn't open his mouth.

It was harder getting Sam to move. He had to practically drag him from the car and over to the wagon. He spoke quietly, calmly. Finally Sam was seat-belted into the passenger seat, and Randy took the wheel. Making sure they had a full tank of gas, he pulled carefully away from the station and took a side street out of town.

Randy figured they would be in Minneapolis within three to four hours. Hopefully Carla wouldn't think about looking there for a while longer. He glanced again at Sam.

Hopefully she wouldn't think of it for a lot longer...