CHAPTER THIRTY NINE

Sam was dozing on the bed when Daryl left. Kurt slid into the chair next to the bed, looking him over as carefully as he could in the semi-dark. Apparently the light bothered Sam, so, although the windows were open, the curtains were drawn and none of the lights were on.

Sam was sweating, pale. Kurt knew he wasn't deeply asleep; although his eyes were closed, he was in nearly constant motion. Hands twitching, legs moving restlessly, turning first on one side, then the other. And that mumbling. Back in full force. Rapid, desperate. Enough to drive a sane man crazy just listening to it.

Kurt knew Daryl was worried. Neither of them knew how hard the withdrawal would hit Sam. He'd been drinking so heavily for close to two months now; that didn't necessarily mean he'd get the DT's, but all the other factors made it difficult to know. How were they supposed to know if he would be reacting to the alcohol withdrawal, or the lack of food, or his mental state? Hell, Kurt wasn't sure if the ramblings coming from the bed were from the alcohol or from Sam's overall confusion. Not knowing could kill him.

Sam's eyes snapped open, wild, frightened. Kurt moved closer to the bed, began talking softly, reassuring.

"It's okay, Sam. You're safe."


*****

Cleanup should have been a mundane chore. Not only was it necessary, but Hannibal figured it would give them all something to occupy themselves until whatever was going to happen, happened. Not a big deal.

Wrong.

It started out with little things. Frankie bumped into Randy as they maneuvered around the small kitchen, nearly causing him to drop an armful of bottles. A frown from Randy, an apologetic gesture from Frankie.

Then Murdock accidentally tore a small hole in one of the curtains as he took it from the rod.

"This was supposed to be cleaning, not demolition." Randy's grumble was just loud enough for Murdock to hear. He disdainfully ignored it.

Little things, adding up.

The couch, Sam's refuge outside of his bedroom, had to go. BA picked up one end, Randy the other. They had to turn it to get it out the door. Randy moved to his left, BA moved to his right. Scowled at each other. Randy moved to his right, BA to his left. Glares exchanged.

"You want to keep dancing, follow my lead."

"You follow my lead, sucka."

Randy promptly dropped his end of the couch, pulling BA off balance. BA practically threw his end of the couch and went for Randy.

Murdock and Frankie stood in the kitchen, watching, fascinated. No one challenged BA, and they were actually looking forward to Randy learning a little lesson. They'd forgotten that Randy had a few special qualities of his own, and had no inhibitions about using them.

By the time Hannibal got into the cabin, Randy had BA in a tight chokehold, and there was no sign he was going to let go. Murdock and Frankie were trying to pull him off, which wasn't easy with BA thrashing around, trying to get free as he fought to stay conscious. Kurt was standing in Sam's doorway, horrified. Daryl had just opened his door, half-asleep.

"What the hell..." Hannibal rushed into the fray, shoving Murdock and Frankie out of the way. Grabbing Randy's arm, he pulled to get it away from BA's neck. "Let go, Randy! Randy...damn it, Major, let go! That's an order!"

Immediately Randy released BA and stood, arms stretched out to the side. He stepped back quickly, face blank, eyes cold, keeping an eye on both Murdock and Frankie. Hannibal was helping BA up, making sure he was all right, and at the same time making sure he didn't go after Randy and get everything started up again.

Standing between the two men, Hannibal was about to let them have it with both barrels when there was a crash from Sam's room. Kurt looked quickly inside.

"Shit!" He turned and wrapped them all with a look of pure venom. "Hope you're satisfied now." He hurried in, closing the door quickly, but quietly behind him. They could hear him talking, fast and low.

Barely keeping his own voice low, Hannibal pointed to the door. "Everybody outside. Now."

As he herded the chastened men out the door, he gave Daryl an apologetic look. Daryl just shook his head, disgusted, and headed in with Kurt.


*****

"It's okay, Sam. You're safe."

Sam's eyes stayed wild, his look rabbiting around the room, as if searching for something.

"Where...?"

"You're in the cabin, Sam. Up by the lake. It's safe here, Sam."

"Cabin? What cabin? Why? Where's..."

"You're ill, Sam. But you're going to be fine. I'm here for you, so is Daryl. You're safe, okay?"

"Where's...where's..."

"Where's who, Sam? What?"

Sam slowly sat up, held his head in his hands. Mumbled something.

"What did you say, Sam?"

"Cold..."

"Okay." Kurt grabbed another blanket, wrapped it around Sam's shoulders. "Better?"

"I don't know. I can't...think." He looked up, started looking quickly around the room again.

"What are you looking for, Sam?"

"Where is he?" Demanding, angry. Voice stronger, though hoarse.

"Where's who, Sam?"

"You don't know. You never did. Never. Never..." He began rocking, holding his knees, watching the room. "You don't know..."

"Sam." Kurt moved closer, sitting on the edge of the bed now. "You're safe, Sam. Safe."

Sam had kept rocking, mumbling. He seemed to retreat back into himself again. At least he seemed calmer.

And then the ruckus arose in the living room.

Kurt heard two loud thumps, followed by obvious sounds of scuffling, grunting, raised voices. Sam didn't seem to notice. Not yet. Kurt quickly stepped to the door and stepped out into the chaos.

Kurt immediately flashed back to Redondo Beach. Randy had the same look on his face, cold, passive, dispassionate. He had his arm locked around BA's throat and was squeezing tightly. BA was struggling to break the hold, but Randy's stance was such the man couldn't get any position. Murdock and Frank were also trying to pull them apart. Then Smith was there, pushing and shoving, shouting at Randy. Taking command. Randy suddenly released his hold and stood back, obedient soldier.

Then came the crash from behind him. Kurt whirled, saw Sam had jumped - or fallen - from the bed, knocking over the nightstand, and was clawing frantically at the wall.

"Shit!" He said something to the men in the living room, not even realizing or caring what, and shut the door behind him. He hurried over to Sam, grabbing his shoulders, trying to get his attention.

"Barish...he's here...he's here..."

"No, Sam, no. Barish is dead. He's dead, Sam."

Kurt felt, rather than saw, Daryl beside him. Both men kept trying to reassure Sam that Barish was dead, but he didn't seem to hear them. Kurt wasn't sure Sam even knew they were holding him.

Just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Sam suddenly went still, blinked a couple of times, and looked around him.

"Kurt?"

"Yeah, Sam, it's me. Me and Daryl."

He clutched his stomach. "I...feel sick..."

They got him into the adjoining bathroom just in time.


*****

The four men stood on the shore, looking everywhere but at the colonel. He stood several feet apart from them, cigar smoke curling rapidly as he puffed, waiting.

"I don't like repeating myself. What the hell happened in there? BA?"

BA gulped. He'd been thinking, ever since Hannibal's outburst earlier, about all that had happened. Not just recently, but, as the colonel had said, over all these past years. He had been feeling bad, very bad, about his actions, his words...and yet, there was some part of him that just couldn't get past the last few weeks. And the longer he was around Randy, the bigger that part of him got.

He shouldn't have let things get to him. He should've just moved the damn couch and let it go. But something had just snapped. Coupled with the guilt and the shame of losing control, was the confusion at how easily he'd been beaten. That just didn't happen.

"It was my fault, Colonel." BA looked up in surprise. Randy, taking the blame?

"I lost my temper. It won't happen again."

Hannibal frowned. Looked at Randy closely. Still no expression on his face, just cold, calm...killer. Same man that had been on the beach. Not the salvageable kid any more.

"It had better not. None of it." He shared the glare with the rest of the men. "We've got one mission here. And he's in that cabin. Anybody got a problem with that?"

No one said a word. Randy looked at Smith, questioning. Hannibal sighed, nodded, and watched as Randy headed back to the cabin.

"Uh, Colonel?" Murdock was toeing the sand, looking up hesitantly.

"What, Murdock?" Hannibal felt so tired. He didn't want more complications, but knew Murdock would provide them.

"Randy was a major?"

Hannibal closed his eyes, resigned. He'd slipped there, but there'd been no other way.

"Yeah, he was a major." He looked at BA, knowing he was feeling sheepish about the result of the fight. "Project Phoenix."

Frankie was the only one who didn't look stricken. He had no idea what they were talking about.

"What's...?"

"Never mind, Frankie. Just remember, Randy's on the edge right now. Don't push him, okay?"

"Oh, I got that already, Johnny, loud and clear."

"Good."

Hannibal looked once more at his men before heading back to the cabin. He had to talk to Randy, get a few things straight. Complications. Damn.

Frankie looked undecided about whether to go or stay, finally opting to take a walk. He didn't really want to be around any of the guys right now. They were all acting...spooky.

BA and Murdock stared out at the water. The sun had burned away the dew, and now it was silent except for the wash of the waves on the shore and the birds in the surrounding woods. Peaceful.

"I saw you but let you live; next time you die." Murdock said it quietly, almost reverently.

"The man's a time bomb, man." BA stared back at the cabin. "I hope Hannibal knows what he's doin."