CHAPTER SIXTY TWO

He knew they were waiting for him. Waiting until he could stand the trip to meet this priest of theirs. They thought he needed a few days yet, although he could tell staying here was making them all tense. He wasn't talking; didn't mean he was blind.

Two days after he'd come up from the darkness, the day after the explosion, the colonel had come in, told him about Randy. Watched him, looking for some reaction. Whatever he was looking for, he was disappointed. Disappointed, and something else. The colonel had sighed, heavily, and left, and he knew Smith and Baracus had already talked.

Later that afternoon, the doctor and the colonel had stood beside the bed, telling him he needed to get up, start walking around. He knew they were right; he had to start building up his strength, literally get back on his feet. But he didn't want them near him. Gently they had each taken an arm and started helping him to sit up. He'd panicked. He'd fought.

He'd fallen heavily back against the pillows, an involuntary grunt surfacing at the sharp stab of pain in his shoulder. The woman held a hand over her eye, the colonel clutched his side. Over the racing of his heart, he'd felt the gloat of success. Not bad for one arm. They wouldn't try to grab him again. He'd get up by himself, thank you very much.

Glaring at him, the colonel had taken the doctor's arm and led her out of the bedroom. He was left in peace for a long time. He stayed still for a while, letting his body relax again. He was just starting to think of how to get out of bed on his own when the bedroom door had opened once again. Reinforcements from the colonel? He tensed, readying for another round.

Mick had stepped in, quietly, and shut the door behind him. Stood there, watching. A small smile on his lips.

"Well, my friend, you're not as helpless as they make you out to be, are you? I think, perhaps, you and I can come to an understanding..."

He looked sharply at Mick. Thought for a moment. An understanding?

Yes, perhaps they could.


*****

For the next three days, he worked with Mick's people. The woman would come in, check him over, then leave. None of Smith's other people came near him. Which was fine with him. Time enough to deal with them later. Right now, he had one goal.

He walked around the room, a man on each side, until he couldn't walk any more. Until he had to be lifted back onto the bed. His muscles ached; hell, they burned. There wasn't a part of his body, soft from disuse, that didn't scream at him to stop. He gave himself exactly thirty minutes to recuperate and then he was up again. He used the pain; he drew its energy into himself and took yet another step.

On the fourth day, he opened the door of his bedroom and walked out unaided. Sure, his progress was slow as he followed Mick down the hall. But he leaned on no one.

Mick opened the door to the library for him and stepped aside. He moved through the door, looking around, getting his bearings. Took in the looks from each of the people inside, registering their reactions.

Shock, surprise, relief...resentment.

He'd expected that. He'd succeeded without them. Proved he didn't need them. But he was careful to keep his features neutral. Didn't want them to think he was too aware of things yet. Not yet.

He still had things to do.


*****

He knew his time was short. Mick had told him of his own suspicions and he agreed with the man's assessment. Now that he was more or less mobile, there would be little reason for Smith to stay here. He had much to learn before his own plans could be finalized.

He wandered the house and grounds, seemingly aimlessly. But he had a purpose. Make himself invisible. Make them take him for granted. Get them to talk when he was present, without suspicion. His silence helped immensely. They got used to him showing up suddenly, saying nothing, sometimes sitting down, sometimes wandering off almost immediately. Exactly like someone would act who had no idea what was going on around him. And since they wanted him to feel 'comfortable' with them, they couldn't very well walk out when he came in.

Eventually he started hearing what he needed to hear. Seeing what he needed to see. Some of it would get back to Mick; that was their agreement. But some of it he would keep to himself. Most of it. Mick would learn only enough to keep him satisfied.

It had been a strange 'conversation'. Mick talked, suggested things. He had either nodded, or remained still. Eventually they had come to an understanding. Mick's people would help him get back on his feet, and he would provide Mick with information about Smith's plans for escape. Mick wanted one thing - to keep Daryl with him. It was important to Mick.

That was Mick's first mistake. Letting him know how important Daryl was. Letting him know where his weakness was.

That was another reason he kept quiet. People didn't like silence. They would talk to fill in the void. Knowing that was the secret to being a great salesman. Knowing when to keep your mouth shut. The mark would eventually talk themselves into the sale. Worked damn near every time.

And it worked now. Perfectly. Two days after leaving his room, he knew exactly what he needed to know.


*****

Kurt and Daryl were sitting on the patio when he approached. These two were the most at ease with him, although there was still a certain reserve.

"Hey, Sam. You're really getting around great now." Kurt smiled at him, totally at ease calling him by that name. Not that it mattered to him one way or the other.

"Yeah, Sam. Have a seat." Daryl pulled a chair over, closer to them, but giving him his space. After a moment's hesitation, he sat. He made no response to further comments, just stared off into the distance. Soon, Kurt and Daryl had resumed their own conversation.

"I still think we should consider it, Kurt. Mick says we don't have to do anything illegal. We'd only be, like, security consultants."

"Helping him outwit the law, Daryl. Helping him spread terrorism. No thanks."

"And what we did for Stockwell was always above board, right? Good God, Kurt, the whole reason for Stockwell's existence is to do the things the law won't allow."

"But for the right ends, Daryl. Not for money. And we stopped people from getting killed. We didn't provide the means for mass murder."

"That all depends on whose side you were on, right? Stockwell toppled governments, and some of those replacements weren't exactly democratic. A lot of people died because of him."

"A lot of people would have died any way. At least we put someone in those places who were at least willing to consider democracy."

Daryl stood, shaking his head angrily. "What do you think Mick is doing? The people he supplies are the ones with very good reasons to want to overthrow their governments!"

Kurt practically slammed his glass on the table. "Are you listening to yourself, Daryl? Damn it!" Kurt visibly got himself under control. "Okay, let's just think a minute, okay? What do you think Sam over there would say about us joining your uncle?"

Daryl looked over at him, but he kept staring off into space. What would he say? He'd say shoot the bastard and get rid of one more piece of vermin. In fact, that wasn't such a bad idea.

"And what about Randy? Randy's been there, Daryl. What do you think he'd say?"

"Randy's dead."

"He...okay, but what would he say about this whole thing, Daryl? Really? If he were standing right here in front of you, having done all those things he's done, seen all the things he's seen, what would he say?"

Daryl said nothing. He glared at Kurt for a moment, then headed back into the house without a word. Kurt sighed, gulping down the last of his drink.

"We're quite the pair, huh, Sam?"

He just sat there, looking at Kurt. Wondering what the man was holding back.


*****

Later that afternoon, he'd gone into the library. Hannibal and Maggie were already there, and nodded to him, wary. He made his way to an overstuffed chair by the window, out of their way, but close enough to hear. One by one, the rest of the team, along with Kurt and a still sullen Daryl, joined them. Each of them noted his presence, and moved unconsciously to the other side of the room. BA stationed himself by the door, leaving it open enough to see anyone coming down the hall.

Hannibal began speaking, keeping his voice low so it wouldn't carry out of the room. "Okay, Father Magill will be waiting for us to call him when we get to LA. I told him we should be there in a week, tops."

"We flyin, Hannibal?" BA scowled, but there was no outright refusal.

"No, BA, not this time. We can't afford to take a chance at any of the airports around here." Hannibal scowled himself now. "I saw the newspaper a couple days ago. Seems the security chief at the Monterrey - Escobedo International Airport was found murdered."

"He had something to do with us, Johnny?"

"I think he did. Clifton would have talked to him about our arrival; he would have had the information on Mick's whereabouts. And Mick doesn't like leaks." Hannibal glanced apologetically at Daryl.

"Now, wait a minute..." Daryl started to protest, but Hannibal silenced him with a look.

"I'm not saying he had anything to do with the actual murder, Daryl. But he would have made his displeasure known. What I'm really saying is that any place where Mick's contacts are involved is going to be doubly risky for us. And all things considered, we have to play it as safe as possible."

He knew Smith was looking at him when he said this. He had to accept the truth in the colonel's assessment. Sure, he was getting around better and better, but he'd be of little use in a sustained firefight, or if they had to make a run for it. His own plans meant they had nothing to worry about from Mick himself, but, as Smith stated, the Mexican authorities were another matter.

"So what's the plan, Hannibal?" Murdock had been wandering the room, coming uncomfortably close to him several times. Scrutinizing him. He kept his face carefully neutral, but he could feel the anxiety grow with each pass the pilot made.

"BA's going to sneak into town, find us a van or a truck, make sure it's serviceable. Daryl, you, Kurt and Frankie will scout around, find a place we can hide it until we need it. Someplace close enough to reach as easily as possible. The security is getting more and more lax around here; if we get a chance to make a break, we'll take it. Otherwise, we move out in three days, after the rest of the house has gone to bed. What few guards will be around we should be able to handle with no problem."

"I don't like sneaking around behind Mick's back, Colonel."

"I know, Daryl, and I'm sorry to ask you to do this. But your uncle may have plans of his own for us, and I don't intend to wait to find out what they may be. No offense, but he's a business man, Daryl. And I'm quite sure Stockwell would offer him quite an incentive for our return."

"He wouldn't..."

"Daryl. Think about it." Kurt kept his voice reasonable. "If we weren't here, would there be any question in your mind about staying with Mick? Any at all?"

Daryl stared at him, realization finally hitting home. "No. Where else could I go?" His voice was quiet, regretful.

"Whether you stay or go is up to you, Daryl." Hannibal's voice was also reasonable, quiet. "But we have to have your help to get out. Can we count on you for that much?"

"You know you can, Colonel."

Hannibal nodded, satisfied. "Okay, then. That's settled. Any other questions?"

"Yeah, Hannibal. What about him?" BA nodded toward the chair.

Hannibal's voice was quiet. "One way or the other, BA. I'm not going to stand around arguing the point."

BA looked back at Hannibal, nodding his head. It went without saying who would put an end to any difficulties.

He waited until everyone had filed out and the room settled into quiet. They wouldn't have to worry about any arguments. He fully intended to go with them, to get away from the ranch.

Whether he would be with them all the way to LA was another question...