CHAPTER FORTY

Randy stood in the kitchen, waiting for Smith to come in. He knew the colonel would give him a dressing down, and he also knew he deserved it. That didn't bother him. What bothered him was the idea that he had somehow let Sam down by fighting with Baracus. Fighting...no. By trying to kill him. Randy knew with certainty that if Smith hadn't come in, he would have choked the life out of the sergeant without even thinking about it.

It was one of the things that made him valuable to Stockwell. He'd been well on his way to becoming another Clifton. A hired gun. A man who took care of the things that a man like Smith couldn't, or wouldn't, take care of. Who would do it without thinking, without remorse.

Randy sighed. He'd been on the path to become that man, but something had held him back. It had taken some time to figure out what it was, but once he had, he was lost to Stockwell. Some would call it a conscience; others, humanity. He called it Sam.

The fight with Baracus told him something he hadn't wanted to admit. Hadn't wanted to accept. He was moving back into that old way of thinking, the old way of life. It seemed almost inevitable. Because he knew, deep down, that he was losing Sam.


*****

Kurt and Daryl were seated on the floor in the bedroom, one by the window, one by the door. They were both trying to be outwardly calm, not let Sam see their anxiety. He had more than enough of his own.

They had gotten him back on the bed, thinking he would surely sleep after the bout of vomiting he'd gone through. That had lasted maybe five minutes. Weak as he was, he couldn't rest. He hadn't paced as much as he'd staggered from point to point in the room, grabbing the headboard, the dresser, chair, the walls, anything to keep himself upright. Stopping now and then to mutter incoherently to himself, then moving on again. On occasion he would stop and stare at one or the other of them, puzzled at times, seemingly angry at others. He didn't speak directly to either one of them.

Daryl had positioned himself by the window when Sam first started swaying around the room, to make sure he didn't accidentally go through the glass. Kurt had automatically stationed himself by the door; instinct born of years dealing with bad guys. He doubted Sam had enough clarity to try an escape, but that didn't mean it couldn't happen just as a panic reaction. Kurt would have felt a lot better if he knew one of the others was actually in the cabin. If something did happen, it could be disastrous if he or Daryl had to struggle with Sam. He had to see them as friends, as allies. If need be, they had to appear to be as helpless against the team and Randy as he himself was.

Kurt hoped, if it came down to that, that Randy would not be involved, either. Sam's relationship with the team couldn't be any worse, and somehow, Kurt thought Face would accept whatever the team did without question. But Sam and Randy had a special bond; one that caused Sam to turn his back on his 'duty' and save Randy from Barish; hell, to leave the team. One that made Randy take chances to protect Sam that he wouldn't even consider for someone else, that helped him go up against Stockwell. And that bond was stretched to the limit right now. Kurt didn't want it broken. It would be devastating for both men. Even if Face came back.


*****

Hannibal stepped into the kitchen, saying nothing, getting a cup of coffee and sitting at the table. He saw the glum look on Randy's face, and decided that a reaming out was not what the man needed right now. A muffled noise came from Sam's room, and Randy's head jerked up, listening. When nothing more came, he relaxed, but only slightly.

It was then that Hannibal realized how blind he'd been to the real dynamics going on. He, and the rest of the team, had seen Randy as some kind of Machiavellian villain, drawing Face into a conspiracy against Stockwell, against the team. The wizard stealing the prince from his kingdom. The level of antipathy the team felt toward Randy had nothing to do with his past. It had nothing to do with the extortion, or the routing he'd given them. It was all about his taking what was theirs. And the anger BA and Murdock felt? It had as much to do with Face choosing Randy over them as it did with his consequent actions.

Jealousy.

Right from the start, when Face had been returned to them, they had fought to distance him from Randy. Had changed the subject whenever Randy came up, been indifferent to his attempts to talk about what he had done during the time with Randy. Told themselves it was best for Face to forget all about that, that it was for his own good that he concentrate on remembering his real past, remembering the team. But was it actually the idea that he had become so close to someone else, that there was another out there who could take their place? Had it been for his benefit or their egos that they wanted him to forget about Randy?

And what about Randy? Had he forced Face to become Sam? Had the choice been forget Face or leave Randy? Had Face gone from the frying pan into the fire? Was that what had brought about this disintegration? Somehow, Hannibal didn't believe that.

Watching Randy now, Hannibal saw how wrong they had been. Whatever Randy was, whatever he had done, he genuinely cared about Sam. Maybe even about Face.

Hannibal looked up at Randy, who was watching him carefully in return.

"Sit down, Randy. We need to have a talk. A long talk."


*****

The mumbling had stopped earlier. Kurt had found the silent shadow stumbling around the room to be infinitely more disconcerting. Sam had been leaning heavily against the corner walls for several minutes, watching them. Cornered, literally. Watching him had been like watching television with the remote control gone haywire; anger, then fear, then confusion, even occasionally a smile, each emotion lasting no more than a few seconds. Then he just went blank and abruptly slid to the floor.

Daryl looked over at Kurt, mutely signaling him to stay put. Daryl himself stood slowly, stiffly, and moved over to Sam. Sat cross-legged near him, but not too close.

"Sam? How you feeling?"

Sam looked at him, hesitant. "I'm...fine."

"Tired?"

"No. I'm fine. Fine."

"Okay. That's good. Uh, I was thinking about fixing a little something to eat. Would you like something?"

"No. I'm not hungry." He pulled absently at the carpet.

"If I fixed you some soup, would you eat it?"

"I'm not hungry." Pulled a little harder at the fibers.

"As a favor to me?"

No response. Yanked at the carpet.

"Okay, Sam. Okay."

Daryl waited a few minutes. Sam quit picking at the carpet, closed his eyes. Slowly, Daryl stood and moved over to Kurt. Sam's eyes opened, watched the two men. Otherwise, he didn't move.

"Can you fix up some soup for him? We've got to try and get something in him or he's going to dehydrate."

Kurt nodded and left. Daryl returned to sit by Sam, who looked warily at him before once again closing his eyes, shutting him out.

Randy and the colonel were sitting at the kitchen table when Kurt came in.

"I need some soup for him."

Randy practically leaped up, grabbing a can of soup from the shelf, a kettle from the cupboard. "He agreed to eat something?"

"Not yet, but Daryl wants to try."

Randy nodded, got the soup heating.

"How's he doing?" Hannibal was watching Randy, who appeared calm except for a nervous drumming of his fingers against his thigh.

"Restless as hell, bouncing from one emotion to another. Was sicker than a dog a while ago. So far, though, nothing unexpected."

Hannibal nodded. Nothing unexpected. That was probably as good as it was going to get for a while.

The soup ready, Kurt poured some into a cup and carried it carefully into the bedroom.

"Please, let him eat something..."

Hannibal didn't respond. He knew the comment wasn't meant for his ears.

Daryl was still seated by Sam. He took the cup and gently touched Sam's arm.

"Sam. Sam, your soup is here."

Sam kept his eyes closed, frowned, annoyed. "Not hungry, I said."

Daryl looked puzzled. "But you asked for some soup, Sam."

The bloodshot eyes opened, Sam's turn to be puzzled. "I did?"

"Yeah. Just a few minutes ago. But if you don't remember..."

"I remember. Just...a little fuzzy, that's all."

"So you want it?"

"Of course I want it! I wouldn't have asked for it otherwise."

"Okay, Sam. No problem."

Daryl smiled at Kurt, as he helped Sam hold the cup and cautioned him to sip it. Sometimes a lie was a good thing. A very good thing.