CHAPTER FORTY TWO

Randy abruptly stood, moved to the doorway of the living room.

"You want to get Baracus back in here, we'll get that couch out." He turned, fired a warning look at Hannibal. "That 'intimate moment of sharing' is just between us. My past is mine. Nobody else's."

Hannibal nodded coolly. No way he was going to tell any one else here. His own feelings were mixed up enough. Horror, sympathy, anger, disgust...regret. He didn't think Murdock or the others were up to that mess. Not now. And there would be no reason to share it afterwards. He stood, putting both coffee cups in the sink and walked outside. The cool breeze from the lake felt very good.

Murdock and BA were still standing by the lake, talking, and Hannibal headed down. Hopefully, they had both cooled down enough to get on with business. He really wasn't up to more confrontations.

"Guys." They looked up simultaneously. BA nodded, back to his usual taciturn self. Murdock hesitated, then smiled, tentatively.

"Hannibal. Sorry about the fight. It won't happen again. Promise."

Hannibal waved his hand, dismissing it, inwardly relieved. His guys would pull through this. Eventually.

"I think Daryl and Kurt are getting some soup into Sam, so maybe he's feeling better." If the guys were bothered by the name, they didn't comment. "BA, you want to try the couch again?"

BA hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Sure, Hannibal. We can dump it back of the house." He looked up at the cabin, straightened determinedly and headed in. Hannibal smiled after him.

"Hannibal?"

"Yeah, Murdock?"

"We're trying, okay? I just...hell, I just wish Face...Damn. It's been so long...and the way he feels about us now...It's hard, with Randy around."

"I know, Murdock. And a large part of this is my fault. Like it or not, Randy's part of Face's life. We can't shut that up in a box and toss it away. I won't make that mistake again. We have to accept that if we ever want Face back. If we ever expect to earn his trust again."

"I know. BA and I talked about that." Hannibal looked up, somewhat surprised. "Yeah, we do talk seriously now and then. And we know we kinda pushed him into doing the things he did. Doesn't make it any easier to accept. It still makes me angry, but..." Murdock sighed, plowed on. "Well, you were right. About Face. He's still in there. We just gotta find him again. I guess I wasn't always easy to deal with, either."

"But Randy's a little harder for you to handle than Billy was for us."

Murdock smiled sheepishly.

"That's one of the things BA and I talked about. The thing is, Face always was a good judge of character. And even if he wasn't himself, instincts like that don't just disappear. If Face - or Sam - thought Randy was worth sticking by, then, even if it's hard to see it, he must be okay. And I think Randy really does care about Face, he's not just using him..." Murdock made a face. "It's just...what he did...his past..."

Hannibal was startled, then remembered what Murdock meant. "He was fucked up in LA, Murdock. As bad as Face was, if not worse. And Nam was a different time. People did things they wouldn't otherwise. Like robbing banks." They smiled at each other. "Sometimes, things happen to people that shouldn't and it changes the way they look at life. Doesn't mean it changes them. Deep down. Just means you have to work a little harder to find them."

"You like him, don't you?"

"I don't know. He's dangerous, I don't forget that. And I'm not sure I trust him farther than I could throw a bull by the tail. But sometimes people get forced down the wrong path. Think that's just how things are. Then they find someone like Face..."

Murdock looked quizzically at Hannibal. When he didn't say any more, Murdock just nodded and headed up to the cabin.

Hannibal stayed, looking out at the lake. Thinking about a twelve-year-old boy. Murdock was right. If Face, even as Sam, thought Randy was worth 'keeping', he was.

He smiled, a little buzz starting in his head.


*****

"Would you like a little more, Sam?"

Sam shook his head, pushing the cup away. He closed his eyes, braced his head against the corner. He was still pale, sweating, but the restlessness seemed to have gone. He looked exhausted.

"Do you want to lie down?"

"No."

Daryl sighed, but at least they'd gotten something down him. And so far, it was staying down.

"How about you?" Kurt sat on the other side of Sam, looking concerned. "You haven't gotten much sleep."

"Yeah, I should take another stab at it. Hopefully there won't be another...disturbance." He glanced at Sam. "Holler if you need help."

Daryl carefully stood up, watching for any adverse reaction from Sam. When there was no movement from the corner, he nodded and quietly left the room. Kurt settled himself more comfortably, preparing for a hopefully boring watch.

He was relieved that Sam had quieted down, but he didn't trust the interlude. It would be great if this was all that Sam would have to go through, if he could just stay relaxed and finish drying out. But Kurt knew better, and he knew Daryl was just waiting for the next round. The only real question was how long before it started.

He thought about the fight in the living room. Not unexpected. He knew there would be big trouble when Smith's men showed up. Even so, he'd have expected them to have a little more self control. And Randy...that bothered him a lot. Too much like before. Kurt knew he was under a lot of pressure, feeling a lot of guilt, and he was not happy having the team here. At all. It was a sign of his concern for Sam that Randy allowed them to stay.

And Kurt was under no illusions. They were being 'allowed' to stay. If Randy decided he didn't want them here, they'd be gone. One way or another.

Movement from the corner. Sam was looking around, searching for something. He looked puzzled, then angry.

"Something wrong, Sam?"

"Where is he?"

"Daryl? He went to get some sleep."

"Not him, you idiot! The other one. Smith! Where is he? I know he's here. He wouldn't leave. Not until he's finished."

"Finished with what, Sam?"

But Sam was already off on another plane. He was now looking nervously at his arms, first one, then the other.

"Do you see them?" Whispering.

"See what, Sam?"

Ignoring him, Sam slowly started picking at his arm. Almost cautiously.

"You have to be careful. Not let the others know."

"Sam?"

"Shhh. I have to get them, one...by...one..." He picked again at his arm, pinching the skin, leaving a small red mark. "If you aren't careful, they'll know what you're doing, and then they'll come, all of them, all at once."

"Sam..."

"Shh!" He frowned, concentrating, pinching, ever so slowly moving up his arm.

Kurt sat, still, watching in fascination. Whatever Sam was doing, he was totally absorbed in it. Kurt was a little concerned about the marks he was leaving, but he didn't seem to be causing any real damage. And apparently, as long on neither of them did anything to alert 'them', Sam was safe.

For several minutes, all was quiet. Kurt watched as Sam kept pinching his skin, the deep frown of concentration remaining. He finished with his right arm, carefully, cautiously, started on his left. And suddenly stopped. Looked around, suspiciously. Scrambled awkwardly to his feet, breathing hard. Kurt stood up, ready to catch the weaving man.

Sam didn't seem to even notice Kurt. Lurching forward, he grabbed the back of the chair, all the time looking around him, searching once more.

"He's here. He's here. Steal me. Steal me..." Almost a whisper. Shook his head. Angry. "Not this time...My father..."

Kurt moved cautiously toward the window, seating himself in front of it. Watched as Sam began the now familiar routine, stumbling around the room, reciting.

It was going to be a long day.


*****

BA and Randy had moved the couch without incident out of the cabin and around to the back. It had been heavy and awkward, and both men stood for a moment, catching their breath. BA kicked at the corner of the couch, as if not satisfied with its position. Randy watched him. Took a deep breath.

"I hope your mother wasn't too upset."

BA tensed for a moment. No, he owed it to Hannibal to at least try.

"She was okay with it. More worried 'bout Face than anythin."

"She seemed like a real nice woman...I'm sorry we used her like that. Really. I don't like using civilians."

"So why did you?" BA couldn't keep all the anger out of his voice, despite great effort.

Randy didn't want to put all the blame on Sam; that wouldn't help rebuild things between him and the team. "It was the only thing we could think of. And we never, never, planned any harm to her. That never would have happened."

BA nodded. He realized Randy was protecting Face, that only Face would have known about his mother, could have set things up so quickly. Randy, taking a good share of the blame. Like he had the fight. Making an effort. Worried more about Face than the consequences of having the team here. He looked at Randy, who was staring out at the lake, idly turning a small stick in his hands.

Maybe, just maybe, BA recognized something of what Face had seen.

Maybe.