CHAPTER FORTY THREE

The rest of the day dragged by. The men occupied themselves as best they could with the rest of the cleaning, but, since Sam was now having problems coping with noise, there wasn't much they could do. There was still an odor in the place, but they were getting used to it. They would wander in and out of the cabin, being careful to close the door softly, but the tedium was getting to them.

Murdock noticed the fishing equipment on the porch, and, after some gentle encouragement from Hannibal, Randy rounded up a couple more poles and the two of them, accompanied by Frankie, went down to the dock. BA watched them, giving Hannibal a we-all-know-what-you're-trying-to-do look. Hannibal just smiled.

Daryl woke up mid-afternoon and grabbed a quick sandwich before going in with Kurt and Sam. A few minutes later, Kurt came out, looking guilty.

"Problem, Kurt?"

"Sam's looking pretty rough; we need to check his vitals, get a blood sample, but he won't stand still long enough. Fact is, he just won't let us get anywhere near him now. Talking is fine; getting close is not. We, uh, we need someone to, uh..." He looked helplessly at BA.

"It's okay, man. You need a bad guy to hold him down while you check him over."

"Basically. That, and, uh, you need to order us to check him out."

"Huh?"

"Daryl wants to cover all the bases, in case Sam puts two and two together, and tries to blame us."

"He's taking the good guy/bad guy thing that seriously?" Hannibal was a little skeptical. The last time he'd seen Sam, the man looked like he wouldn't know if someone slugged him, let alone who did it.

"There's no telling what he's taking in and what he isn't. All we need is one misunderstanding and we lose. He hasn't lost any of his paranoia. If he thinks we're on the wrong side..." Kurt shrugged. Obviously neither he nor Daryl were willing to take any chances. Hannibal decided he couldn't either.

"You okay with that, BA?"

"No, but what choice I got? Let's do it."

"Okay, I'll go in first. Wait a couple minutes, then come on in. Be prepared for anything. And I mean, anything." Kurt looked at them again, apologetically.

"It's okay, Kurt. Don't worry about it."

BA waited three minutes, steeling himself. There were two things he didn't want to do. He didn't want to go in assuming Face was going to be a basket case and get his head kicked in. More worrisome, he didn't want his still simmering anger at the man to take over.

Hannibal would never forgive him if he beat the shit out of Face.


*****

Frankie was not a fisherman. He was too talkative and too hyper. Add to these natural tendencies his nervousness about being around Randy, and it was a recipe for disaster. Murdock caught on quickly, saw that without some kind of intervention, Frankie would probably end up Randy's latest victim. So Murdock took Frankie to one side, talked very seriously to him for a few minutes, and returned to his spot on the dock. Frankie grabbed a bucket and headed down the shoreline, head down, checking the beach.

Randy watched him for a few minutes, obviously puzzled. His curiosity finally got the best of him.

"What's he doing?"

Murdock glanced over at the retreating figure, a small smile on his face. "He's looking for Lumbricus terrestris."

"What?"

"Lumbricus terrestris. Anecic vermis. As differentiated from the eipgeic, and the endogeic. Anecic's are the princes of piscis procurement."

"He's looking for worms."

"More importantly, he searches for those of prodigious magnitude for maximum exposure."

"Very large worms."

"Correct."

"Which is bound to keep him out of our hair for quite some time."

"Precisamente."

Randy looked out at the lake for a moment. Smiled.

"Cool."

Murdock smiled contentedly and tossed his line in the water.


*****

BA swung the door open and stepped determinedly into the maelstrom of the bedroom. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, and then he got his first look at Face. Hannibal had told them when they arrived what the situation was, but the physical description hadn't done him justice. Face was a mess. Hair long and greasy, matted beard, the smell. Even with the windows open, BA could feel his stomach lurch. But it was the eyes that stopped him cold. Wild, glazed, darting here and there as if watching a hundred tennis balls bouncing around. He stared at the apparition across the room, and any anger he had held onto evaporated.

Kurt had been sitting by the door, just out of its way. He immediately got to his feet. He had hopes that Sam would just capitulate at the sight of the big sergeant, but he knew they were more pipe dreams than anything. He tensed, ready.

Daryl was standing in front of the window, and didn't look at BA's entrance. He was watching Sam, waiting for the first move.

Sam finally focused on BA's general direction, and his stomach clutched. He could barely make out the figure by the door, but he knew who it was. The colonel's monster.

This is it, Sam. Smith's finally decided to kill you.

Fuck 'em. He wouldn't die easy.

Daryl saw Sam looking over at BA, immediately caught the stiffening in the man's body. He tried to sound convincingly angry.

"What are you doing here, Baracus?"

BA hesitated a split second, focusing on his mission, made his voice stern. "Orders. Gotta check him over." He looked back at Sam, swallowed hard. Be convincing, without creating more havoc than necessary. "C'mon over here, Face. Make it easy on everbody."

"Leave him alone, Sergeant."

It started. Sam's chant. Kurt and Daryl both heard it, recognized it. BA had no idea what it was, but it spooked him. Bad. It started, like the drone of a beehive, starting out low, getting louder, faster, angry. Lots of anger. Directed right at BA.

Shit.

Kurt, standing nearest to BA, murmured softly. "Take him, BA, but easy does it. Don't want to give him a heart attack." BA glanced at him. He was dead serious. Great.

BA moved slowly toward Sam, who gripped the back of the chair tightly. For a moment, he held his position. BA moved closer. Sam tried to step forward, attack, but he only fumbled against the chair. BA heard the chant falter. Closer. Sam, stumbling over the words now, staggered back a step. Desperation replacing the anger in his voice. Panicking. BA stopped, stricken. Face wasn't just seeing BA. He was seeing something much worse coming out of the shadows. God only knew what. BA decided enough was enough. He'd moved slowly, not wanting to upset Face more than necessary, but it was backfiring. Get it over. Quick.

For a big man, BA could move surprisingly fast. Before any of them realized what had happened, BA had his arms wrapped around Sam's shoulders and chest, his head pressed down on Sam's, dragging him down to the floor. Sam was trapped, but struggled with every bit of strength he had left.

"Okay, Face, now you settle down and we'll get this done and over. Just calm down. Calm down." BA kept talking, soothing, trying to break through the fear.

Sam kept struggling, but his strength was giving out fast. One final, unsuccessful wrench, and his body gave out. He sagged in BA's grip, breathing hard.

BA held him tightly for another couple of minutes, until he figured there would be no more struggles. Loosening his grip, but not letting go, he looked over at Daryl. BA forced himself to remain 'in character'.

"Git over here and do what you were told to. Now."

Daryl picked up the med kit and hurried over. He pulled out the syringe for the blood sample, wanting to get that out of the way first. Swabbing Sam's arm, he looked into the now dull eyes.

"I'm sorry, Sam. I have to."

Sam looked past him, face blank, eyes unfocused. Whispered. Daryl just barely made out the words.

"Get them...one by one...careful...they'll know...they'll come...one by one....shhh..."


*****

Murdock and Randy were on their way up from the dock. Frankie had finally given up on the worms, and the fishing, and waited for them on the porch, dozing in the late afternoon sun. Hannibal stepped out to greet the fishermen, listened to the tales of the ones that got away, grinned at the ones that hadn't. It was a moment out of time, when the four men could forget what had brought them here.

It lasted only a moment. BA came storming out of the cabin, stopped to glare at the group of men, and hurried off the porch and up the drive. Hannibal immediately went after him, the others staring. Before any of them could follow, Kurt stepped out.

"Leave them alone, guys. Let Hannibal deal with it. That's who BA needs right now." He sat down heavily, rubbing his face hard.

"What happened in there?" Randy was angry, but scared, too. "Sam...?"

"Sam's...okay. We had to get a blood sample, check him over. BA had to hold him down. It wasn't..." He shook his head, looked up at Randy. "Daryl's getting the blood sample wrapped up. You need to take it to a doctor, have it checked. Daryl's writing up something, said the doctor will know what to do."

"Okay. But Sam's okay? You sure?"

"He's okay, considering. His heart rate's up, even factoring in the stress of the moment. Blood pressure, too. So those are a concern. We'll know better what's going on when we get the blood work back." Kurt shook himself. He wasn't about to tell them about the latest ramblings. He was sure BA would tell Hannibal, and the colonel would decide what the rest of them needed to know. "You know a doctor that'll cooperate, Randy?"

"He will when I ask him."

Kurt didn't stop to think about the cold tone of voice, just nodded and headed into the cabin.

Five minutes later, Randy drove away in a cloud of dust. The rest of the men sat on the porch, waiting for Hannibal and BA, waiting for the other shoe to fall.