CHAPTER SEVENTY FOUR

"I have everything ready for you, Father Magill. We've set aside the first floor rooms on the far side of the courtyard for you and your friend. Other than the common areas, you won't be disturbed."

"I thank you, Sister. I only hope he'll be staying."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry, Father. I've known you long enough to know you can talk nearly anyone into nearly anything."

Father Magill chuckled at that. It was probably true; he'd always been told he had the gift of the blarney. He smiled ruefully. Thanking the sister, he entered his room and almost immediately sobered. Would Templeton stay? Would he even show up? Colonel Smith had said he was with the Team, and had agreed to see the priest, but would it be enough? Even if Templeton stayed, would it work?

Slowly removing his few possessions from the valise, Magill thought about the many, many times he had verbally jousted with his young, silver-tongued charge. No matter what Templeton had done, he would find some way of explaining how perfectly reasonable it had been for him to do it. And no matter how grievous the sin, Magill had secretly enjoyed outwitting (sometimes) the convoluted logic the youngster had employed.

But this was no puckish child he would be confronting. It would not be the young man he'd seen off to war, nor the man on the run who still managed, regardless of the risk, to stop in for a visit with his old mentor. This would be a perfect stranger, someone who would not be defending a childish misdeed, but fighting for the life he wished he had had, felt he should have had. The life he remembered, not the one he had lived. And, as Colonel Smith had warned him, a man who could be dangerous if pushed too hard, too far.

And Father Magill would have to push him too hard and too far, if this was to work at all.


*****

"You're sure they were Ables, not just civilians?" Hannibal chewed lightly on his cigar, frowning slightly.

"No, they weren't civilians, Hannibal. Things were just a little too casual for that, if you know what I mean."

Hannibal nodded, looked over at the table where the three men were still playing cards.

"Kurt, Daryl. I need you two to check something out." He quickly told them what Murdock had seen on the street below. "We need to know who they are, what they were doing. I'm not sending Face in there if Stockwell's onto Father Magill."

Nodding, the two men quickly headed out the door and down the stairs. Murdock returned to his watch by the window. A few minutes later, he saw the two former Ables. Kurt casually moved around the corner, taking the path the other two men had used. Daryl, stepping out seconds later, headed for the building the first man had come from. Murdock didn't like them separating like that, but recognized they had their own way of working. Kurt was already out of sight; Murdock kept his eye on Daryl, who, after a quick glance up and down the street, made a couple quick movements at the doorway and stepped inside.

All Murdock could do now was wait.


*****

Daryl closed the door quickly behind him, looking around the small foyer. Apparently this was a security apartment building; he checked the names on the mail boxes. None of the names held any significance; two were blank. A second door, also locked, led him into a long hallway, two solid doors on each side. A third door, with a sign noting an alarm would be set off if opened, stood next to a small elevator at the end of the hall. Deciding to check out the un-named apartments first, he punched the button for the fourth floor, waiting impatiently for the slow-moving car to reach its destination.

Ten minutes later he emerged from the empty apartment and headed up to the top floor. Listening at the door to the other "empty" apartment, he could just barely hear movement from inside. He stepped back, staring at the door handle. He had no idea how many people might be in there. Stockwell's teams usually worked with at least four people. That meant if he went in there, he'd be dealing with at least two, maybe more. If the idea was not to alert Stockwell to their presence, those weren't good odds. He took another step back toward the elevator. He didn't need to see what was in there to know who they were. He'd let Smith know, and they'd go from there.

He was just reaching for the elevator button when the doors slid open, revealing two men inside. Two very serious men. One smiled at him, not nicely.

"Welcome to the party."


*****

He watched Kurt go around the corner, then Daryl break into the building across the street. They were distractions, distractions he badly needed. He didn't know what they were doing, didn't care. They gave him something to do besides think about that priest. That damn priest.

Why the hell had he ever agreed to meet with him? He should have known better. Should have known there was a catch. He'd thought he could handle this; Magill's name was familiar to him only because of what he'd been told before. That's all it had been, a name, like all the others they'd thrown at him. He hadn't known what he looked like.

But he remembered that face, the minute the priest had turned around. He remembered it!

And that wasn't possible. Magill belonged to a past Stockwell had made up. A past that didn't exist. So Magill didn't exist. He couldn't. And yet...he knew that face. And there was only one way that could be.

The experiment.

Magill had to have been involved in it. Somehow. Some way. Magill was one of those responsible for this whole mess. One of those who had screwed up his mind, destroyed his memories.

Ruined his life.

He turned again to the window, staring at the building directly across from theirs. Stared at the door Magill had gone through. He was in there now. Waiting.

With who else?


*****

"No sign of them? Either of them?"

Hannibal stood a few feet from Murdock, who was still watching at the window.

"Nothing, Colonel. I don't like it. It shouldn't...wait. There's Kurt." Murdock straightened, moving slightly back from the glass. "Doesn't seem in too big a hurry, but that doesn't mean anything." He looked anxiously at the building next to the retreat. Still no sign of Daryl.

"All right. Give Daryl a few more minutes, then we go in after him." Hannibal headed for the door, more anxious than he wanted to appear. There were too many things going on, too many things that could go wrong. Normally, he thrived on situations like this. This time, there was too much at stake. Too many things that had already gotten fucked up. He pulled open the door and Kurt almost fell in.

"Geez, Colonel, don't do that!" Kurt recovered himself, shaking his head as he stepped further into the room. He looked at the three faces staring at him, waiting. "Well, nothing to report, guys. No one around. But if they were Stockwell's, they wouldn't have anything to report, other than Father Magill is attending a retreat. So we're okay, so far, anyway."

Hannibal looked at Kurt. Something was off there. Kurt's words were casual, but there was a glitter in his eyes and a slight flush on his face. The man knew something, and it was important.

"You didn't see any sign of them? Not many places they could disappear to, not in a residential neighborhood."

"Must have had a car. There was no one around," Kurt repeated, looking steadily at Hannibal. Whatever it was, he had no intention of spilling it to any of them. Hannibal sighed. Another damn complication.

"What about Daryl?"

"He was going to check out the building the one guy came from. Don't worry; he can handle himself, Colonel. If he finds anything, he'll report back first."

As if on cue, footsteps were heard in the hallway. Everyone tensed, reaching for weapons, until Daryl strode in. He looked at the group, eyebrows raised.

"Find anything, Daryl? At all?" The irony in Hannibal's voice wasn't missed, but Kurt and Daryl were the only ones that didn't seem mystified by it.

"Nothing, Colonel. If these guys were Stockwell's, they were probably only using the building as a lookout, not as a base."

"You're sure, are you?"

Daryl looked straight into Hannibal's eyes.

"Dead sure, Colonel."


*****

It was late. He'd been leaning back on the bed, staring out of the window, seeing only the very top of the building across the street. Watching as the sun crept into afternoon, faded into evening, fell into night. He hadn't moved from the bed in all that time. Once, someone had knocked on the door, lightly, hesitantly almost. He knew what they wanted. He'd ignored the knock and it hadn't been repeated. They knew he was in here; there was no way out of this room except through them. There was no place to go, except the building across the street.

He would have to deal with him. He had no choice.

He couldn't let them know what he knew. What he remembered. It was his only chance. He sighed, bitterly, disgustedly.

He'd fallen into their trap like a blind man.


*****

"He called, Hannibal. He said, whenever we're ready. He'll be waiting. Him, or the sister."

"Thanks, BA." Hannibal moved to Face's door, took a deep breath, knocked lightly. When there was no answer, he raised his hand to knock again, hesitated, let his hand drop. Face knew what he wanted. He'd come out when he was ready.

Hannibal settled back into his chair, puffing on his cigar. Murdock sat at the table, with Daryl and Kurt and the unending card game. Frankie watched the street, from the small slit between shade and window frame. BA leaned against the counter in the kitchenette, eating a late supper. He'd waited for the priest's call in the van, parked in a ramp several blocks away, since Father Magill had arrived. Now his job was done.

Everyone's job was done. Save one.


*****

It was nearly pitch black out now, only a faint light from the old street light. He stared out at the building across the street. It was dark, too. Nearly. One window, a small one near the door, showed a light. Nothing else.

He turned, swayed slightly. He hadn't eaten all day, hadn't slept in longer than that. It didn't matter. He wouldn't need his body for that much, anyway. It was his mind that had to work now. It had to be sharper and quicker than ever before. The enemy he would be facing now wouldn't resort to beatings or drugs or threats; he would do as he'd done before, use persuasion and cunning and convoluted logic. But this time it wouldn't work. This time, he was ready for it. His mind was ready.

He stepped out of the bedroom. Stared at Smith. The "man of honor". He wouldn't make that mistake again, either.

"Shall we go?"