CHAPTER FORTY SIX

"Garr giving you problems, Kurt?" Randy's voice was sharp, expectant.

"No, no, he's cooperating, Randy. Uh, Hannibal, where's BA?"

Hannibal cringed. "Not again..."

"I'm afraid so, Colonel. We have to put in an IV. Daryl tried to reason with him, but Sam went ballistic." Kurt didn't tell him Sam was now hiding under the bed. "We're going to have to sedate him, but we have to get the damn thing in, first."

Hannibal shook his head. He wasn't sure BA would agree to a second act. Hannibal wasn't sure he wanted to ask it of him.

"Uh, maybe I could try, Hannibal."

Murdock's voice was low, hesitant. Hannibal looked over at him, watched him twisting the zipper of his jacket. Remembered BA's warning.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Murdock. Sam's not..."

"I can handle it, Hannibal. Remember? I'm sane now." He flashed Hannibal a small smile. "I want to help, okay? I could always talk Face into doing stuff he didn't want to. Maybe Sam's not that much different."

They looked over at Kurt, who shrugged. He didn't care who the colonel sent in, as long as someone went. Daryl may already have blown the trust thing with Sam; he didn't want the whole thing to go down the crapper.

"All right, Murdock. Just...be careful, okay?"

"You got it, Colonel." Murdock snapped off a salute. Somehow it wasn't as reassuring as it was intended.


*****

It had come sooner than expected. From a different quarter. Hadn't anticipated that. Stupid. Idiot. Too damn cocky. Hadn't adequately considered the danger presented by the reinforcements. Forced to retreat. Not hide. He didn't hide from danger. He didn't hide. But he had to have time. Time to think. Time to plan. Then he would know how to get rid of this one. This one.

Then the next.

One by one.

One by one.

Shook his head. Not now. Have to think. Plan. Looked at the underside of the bed. Thick wires stretched across, holding the mattress up. Wire. Weapon. Yes. Work one loose...damn. Too thick. Too thick. Or he was too weak. Too weak...too thick...too...two...two...one...one...one by one...

Concentrate! Damn. Damn. Looked around. A face. A face peering at him. Go away. Go. Now. He kicked out at the face. Good. Gone. Gone. One down. One to go. One on one. Two for one. Tie one on. Number one. One by one.

One by one.

One by one...


*****

Murdock glanced swiftly, apprehensively, around the room, expecting to see Sam cringing in some corner, or holding them off with a table lamp, or...something. All he saw were Daryl, by the bed, and the doctor, waiting nervously by the dresser.

Daryl saw his confusion, stepped quickly over.

"Murdock? Where's BA?"

"I thought I'd try to talk to him. BA looked pretty shook up after the last time, and...well, Face is my best friend, after all."

"But this isn't..."

"Yeah, I know, I know." Murdock waved his arm dismissively. "But I gotta think Face is in there somewhere, and he might listen to me. It won't hurt to try, right?"

Daryl gave him a doubtful look, then shrugged. "No, I guess it won't. He's under the bed."

"Under the bed?" For an insane second, Murdock wanted to laugh. "What's he doing under the bed?"

"He didn't want the IV. Fell out of bed trying to get away, and crawled under there. I tried to talk him out, but he just tried to kick me, so..."

"Hmm. Okay. Not a problem." Murdock didn't bother to explain that he was familiar with this tactic. He'd used it himself on occasion, when the nurses had gotten too attentive for his frame of mind at that particular time. It always worked. People got tired of practically standing on their heads trying to talk to him. Always overlooked the obvious. He stepped carefully over to the bed, and lay down on his stomach next to it. Resting the side of his head on his arms, he looked at the occupant underneath.

"Hey, Sam."

Sam was on his back, arms at his sides, eyes closed. His grimy hair was in disarray, partially covering his face. He was whispering to himself and paid no attention to Murdock. Murdock stifled the shock of pity he felt.

"Sam, it's me. Do you remember me?"

The whispering stopped. The head turned in his direction. Mindful of Daryl's warning about being kicked, Murdock kept talking, soft, calm, trying to keep Sam's attention without irritating him.

"This was a smart move, Sam. Nobody can reach you under there, can they? Caught 'em with their pants down there, buddy." Murdock smiled at him.

Sam just stared at him.

"Kinda crowded out here, isn't it? All these people standing around. Makes it hard to breathe, hard to think, with so many people waiting for you to come out. You don't like that, do you?"

Silence from under the bed, but Murdock thought he saw some puzzlement showing.

"Would you like them to go away, Sam? Give you some space to think?" Murdock's hands were starting to go to sleep from the weight of his head, but he didn't move. "I can make them go away, if you want me to."

Murdock barely saw the slight nod.

"Okay. I'll have them go away."

"No. No...just...him..."

"Him? Daryl?"

"No."

"Kurt?"

"NO."

"The doctor? You want him to go away?"

Another nod.

"Okay." Murdock kept looking at Sam, but spoke to the room. "Doctor, can you go in the other room please?"

Garr looked uncertainly at the other two men. Kurt nodded, motioned toward the door. Shaking his head, the doctor left the room, the door shutting firmly behind him.

"That better, Sam?"

"Yeah."

"Do you feel like coming out now, Sam?"

Nothing.

"You'll be safe, Sam. I won't let anyone come near you. Anyone does, I'll make them leave, like I did the doctor. Okay?"

Sam nodded. Murdock hesitated, the slowly wriggled away from the bed, but stayed on his stomach. Sam started inching his way out. A few moments later, he was beside the bed, holding onto the frame. Murdock could see Sam was still unsure. Slowly he got to his knees, reached out his hand.

"C'mon, Sam. It's okay."

Sam looked at Murdock for a long minute, then slowly reached out his hand.


*****

Sam heard the new voice. Familiar...Ignore it.

One by one...

The voice kept talking. He looked over, irritated.

"This was a smart move, Sam. Nobody can reach you under there, can they? Caught 'em with their pants down there, buddy."

What kind of bullshit was that? Of course it was smart. Sam was smart. Did this guy really think he was fooled?

"Kinda crowded out here, isn't it? All these people standing around. Makes it hard to breathe, hard to think, with so many people waiting for you to come out. You don't like that, do you?"

Of course he didn't like it. That's why he was under the fucking bed. Idiot.

"Would you like them to go away, Sam? Give you some space to think? I can make them go away, if you want me to."

Yeah, you'd like that, wouldn't you? Get rid of the only allies Sam had. But then there was that other guy. The one they called the doctor. He could go. Okay. See if this guy is for real. He nodded.

"Okay. I'll have them go away."

Not all of them, you jerk. "No. No...just...him..."

"Him? Daryl?"

"No." No way.

"Kurt?"

"NO." God, no. He was the stronger of the two.

"The doctor? You want him to go away?"

Finally. He nodded, disgusted with having to deal with this guy.

"Okay. Doctor, can you go in the other room please?"

A moment's silence, then Sam watched the doctor's legs go out of the room. Heard the door shut. Good. Now he was set.

"That better, Sam?"

"Yeah." You better believe it, bud.

"Do you feel like coming out now, Sam?"

Sam hesitated. He still wasn't sure how to deal with Big Mouth.

"You'll be safe, Sam. I won't let anyone come near you. Anyone does, I'll make them leave, like I did the doctor. Okay?"

Yeah, you and whose army? No way the others were leaving. They were Sam's army. His men. But it's time to come out. Time to take care of business.

One by one. He nodded, waited until the guy had moved away from the bed, then started moving cautiously out from under the bed. He stopped when he was almost all the way out, held onto the frame, in case the guy made a move and he'd have to scoot back under.

The man got up on his knees. Knew it. Getting ready. Sam watched as the man put out his hand.

"C'mon, Sam. It's okay."

Sam cautiously reached out his hand. He grasped the other, allowed the man to help him up. His legs felt shaky, but he forced himself to stand. Pretended to stumble a bit, getting close to the window. Perfect. He felt the energy surge. About time...

The guy was smiling at him. Thought he'd won, did he?

It took only seconds. Still holding the other man's hand, Sam wrenched his arm up and around the guy's throat, jerking the man around in front of him. His other hand smashed through the glass in the window, grabbed and broke off a large shard, held it just under the guy's ear, by his jaw.

One by one. And you're the first, guy...