And I will never see the sky the same way,
And I will learn to say good-bye to yesterday
And I will never cease to fly if held down,
And I will always reach too high
-- Vanessa Carlton, "Twilight"
DFW International Airport
"The plane," Morgan remarked with mock-disinterest, "has
Jarod picked up a napkin from the table and wiped the remainder of the
chocolate ice cream from Gabriel's face, as Morgan waved over a waiter
to pay their bill. After cleaning similar smears of strawberry from Raphael's
cheeks, Jarod pushed the plates into the middle of the table and then
lifted the two boys down from the raised chairs on which they sat. Looking
around instinctively for his cane, he grinned at the remembrance that
he no longer needed it, before swinging his leather jacket over his shoulders.
Morgan, meanwhile, had paid for the drinks and ice creams. The group left
the café and headed for the doors through which the passengers
from the flight would appear.
Jordan and Merritt had begged to fly back first class, instead of going
in one of Sebastian's jets, and Jarod and Morgan had finally agreed. It
had been child's play to arrange for two of the men at Pele's Brisbane
office to fly to America at company expense, with a short stopover in
Melbourne on the way, to ensure that nothing went wrong during the flight.
Pele staff that neither Jordan nor Merritt knew would meet the Australian
men, and the young people would never need to know that they had been
chaperoned, unless, of course, something went wrong. As there had been
no messages received before or during the flight, it was assumed that
The two boys were just beginning to get fidgety when the doors slid open
and the first passengers exited. Jarod glimpsed the 'MEL' tag on someone's
suitcase and knew that they would probably have been from the same flight,
picking up Gabriel as Morgan took her baby brother in her arms, to prevent
him being swept away in the rush.
"Daddy," Gabriel complained. "How come dey's takin' so
Jarod grinned at the boy's impatience, trying to suppress his own. "Just
a little longer, honey."
"It's takin' ages!" his son moaned.
Suddenly there was a yelp from Raphael, who wriggled frantically in Morgan's
arms. She took a firmer hold of him, even as she began walking towards
the end of the barrier. Jarod followed her in time to see the familiar
face of his son, pushing a luggage trolley with one hand, the other around
Merritt's back. The man couldn't help grinning, even as he hurried forward
in time to see Merritt rush into Morgan's arms.
"Hey there, stranger," he remarked in Jordan's ear, seeing
his son turn with a delighted grin.
"Hi, Dad!" Jordan's arms came around him in a firm hug, with
care for Gabriel, who was looking a little pop-eyed when he was able to
throw himself at his brother.
"Jo-den!" Gabriel beamed, placing an obviously wet kiss on
his brother's cheek, which Jarod was pleased to see that his son didn't
Jarod ushered the group out of the way of the people coming through the
doors before he had the chance to greet Merritt. The young woman was now
only an inch or two shorter than Morgan and was darkly tanned, as was
Jordan, from her time in the Australian sun.
"It was a long flight," she complained, trying to smooth the
hair Raphael's enthusiastic embrace had ruffled, while hanging on to him
with the other arm as he cuddled her around the neck.
"Well, you would insist on taking a public plane," Jarod teased.
"If you'd gone on the jet, it would have been direct -- and a lot
"First class was great," Jordan enthused, handing Gabriel to
Morgan, as Jarod took charge of the luggage trolley on which the two cases
and small cabin bags stood. "Real silver cutlery and china plates,
and a proper bed!"
"As opposed to the flight you took over there," Morgan remarked
lightly, "which had a real dining table and your own bedrooms."
Merritt giggled. "They were both great, just too long," she
offered, her accent notably foreign and familiar to Jarod's ears. "Australia's
great, but it's so far away!"
They exited the building, and a man standing beside a limousine, which
stood by the main door, immediately opened the car's rear door, taking
control of the trolley from Jarod and hefting the cases into the trunk
as the travelers took their cabin bags. The group got into the car, which
left the airport, heading for the Prometheus building, as the occupants
began to talk about the previous few months.
Jarod looked Morgan, with Merritt beside her and Raphael in a booster
seat, his face turned up to the young woman, his delight at her being
back obvious in his eyes. Merritt kept her left arm around his waist,
tightening it occasionally in a hug, and on one of these occasions Jarod
saw the gold band on her forth finger, a small diamond gleaming in the
dim light. He looked sharply at his elder son, who sat on the same seat,
Gabriel between them, and could feel the happiness in Jordan's heart,
tempered by his sadness over Jacob, but it was tolerable now, and Jordan
could move on from that tragedy. It was obvious, however, that he would
not have go on alone, and Jarod decided to remove any potential barriers
that might stand in the way of their happiness.
"What did you bring me?" Gabriel demanded at this juncture,
and Jordan grinned.
"Who said I brought you anything, little brother?"
"You promised!" the boy whined, and Jordan chuckled.
"I did promise, you're right," he agreed, hefting his bag onto
the seat and opening it. Pulling out a gift, he put it on Gabriel's lap,
taking out a similar one for Raphael.
The younger child eagerly ripped off the paper, turning the stuffed animal
around to look at the face and turning confused eyes up to his brother.
"What is it?"
"It's a koala, Gabriel," Jordan explained. "Some people
call it a koala bear, even though it isn't a member of the bear family."
He pointed out the claws and the large, round ears. "It sits in trees
all day, and eats leaves."
"What's mine?" Raphael asked Merritt, as he pulled the paper
away from his brown toy, and she smiled.
"This is a kangaroo, Raffi," she explained. "It's got
strong legs to jump, and a pouch to carry its babies in." She showed
him the soft pouch, before reaching into the pocket of her jacket and
pulling out her purse, extracting a photo. "See, that's me feeding
the kangaroos that lived around the house where I was staying."
Raphael's blue eyes were wide as he looked at the photo. "Dey's
big!" he proclaimed, and Merritt agreed, handing the photo to Morgan.
Jarod leaned over to speak quietly in his son's ear. "I hope you
got something for every child."
Jordan nodded. "Eight different toys -- one each."
The older man smiled approbation, even as Gabriel eagerly reclaimed his
brother's attention with demands to be told more about the koala.
* * * * * * * * *
Frederick Hohmann tapped lightly on the office door, glancing over his
shoulder at Maria, who was sitting at her desk. "Have you talked
to Herr Winston this morning?"
"No, sir," she answered readily. "But I don't usually
see him 'till after nine, and it's only eight thirty now. He gets in earlier
than I do, most days."
He nodded, placing his hand on the doorknob and, after a moment of hesitation,
turning it. It was a thing he would never have dreamt of doing when the
old Direktor was in power, but, thankfully, those days were now gone.
When the silence from the office continued, he pushed the door wide, breath
catching in his throat, his eyes widening as he saw the man draped across
"Is he there?" Maria's voice asked, and he felt her move to
stand beside him. A choked cry forced itself out of her mouth as she took
in the scene, turning horrified blue eyes up to him in his role as the
authority figure present, and Frederick responded instantly.
Hurrying over to the desk, he placed two fingers on his boss's neck,
although it was obvious from the dried blood on the floor that his death
had taken place hours earlier.
"Call the infirmary," he ordered over his shoulder. "Get
one of the doctors up here to confirm it."
Looking around the office, he saw that nothing was out of place, apart
from the pages on the floor, which the force of Peter Winston's body hitting
the desk could have caused. On instinct, he moved over to the filing cabinet,
pulling out one of the drawers and flicking through the folders, seeing
that the formerly thick file in which information about Lucian had been
kept was empty. This only confirmed to the head of security that the depraved
former head of the corporation was responsible. Taking out his cell phone,
he arranged for increased security for the entrances, despite knowing
that Lucian would probably have been gone for some time.
Two men from the infirmary appeared in the doorway, and Frederick left
the room to go down to his own office and see what he could do to salvage
the situation. The first and most important part, he knew, was a further
tightening of security.
His deputy was waiting in his office when he arrived, and, from the look
on his face, Frederick knew it was more bad news.
"Well, Christian?" he demanded impatiently. "What is it?"
Mr. Schwartz cleared his throat somewhat nervously. "It's Martin
Frederick's imagination leapt to Yuri and the abduction by Lucian, his
head pounding as he tried not to imagine all the complications, but Christian
Schwartz continued before he could utter them.
"We found his body in his cell this morning, sir. He was apparently
murdered last night."
* * * * * * * * *
Elizabeth strolled down the hallway, glancing through the small panes
of glass in the doors to see into the rooms she passed, finally stopping
outside one and knocking.
The room contained a series of desks, a class facing a whiteboard, on
which were written various mathematical equations. The gray-haired teacher
stood beside it, and smiled at the visitor.
"What can I do for you, Elizabeth?"
"I want to borrow Cam, if I can," the younger woman responded.
There was an instant jeer from the back of the room, and she fixed the
perpetrator with a look that would have melted steel. "You watch
yourself," she told him sweetly, her eyes lighting briefly on a young
woman in the second row of seats, before jumping back to the young man
who had made the sound, "or I might let slip about a dream or two
you had last night."
In the deathly silence that followed this threat, Cam dropped his pen
into the pencil case and put it and the math textbook into his desk, a
gleeful grin on his face as he stood and came over to the door.
"My husband said you hadn't done your homework," Elizabeth
explained, after shutting the door. "And, as I wanted to talk to
you anyway, I thought I'd save you a little embarrassment."
"You're a lifesaver," he told her gratefully.
"I try." She led the way into the lift and then up the residential
floor. Trevor was already waiting in the new suite he and his wife shared
when they arrived, and Cam curled up in an armchair while the adults sat
on the sofa.
"What's up?" the young man queried.
Trevor's brown eyes met Cam's. "Dr. Sydney Ritter," he said
calmly. "What do you think of him?"
"Well, he seems nice enough," Cam began cautiously, not entirely
sure what Trevor meant.
"You're losing your touch," the psychic remarked drily. "Or
else you're just being a smart ass. You know what I mean."
"What makes you think there's anything?" the young man demanded.
"I mean, yes, I've picked up a few bits and pieces, but you obviously
know something, too, or I wouldn't be in here getting the 3rd degree."
Elizabeth laughed, resting her hands on the arms Trevor had wrapped around
her waist, before becoming serious as she spoke. "His dreams are
full of his brother, who died a few years ago."
"And that's so unusual?" Cam challenged.
"Wait," the woman told him. "It's not that simple. The
conversations they have go beyond what most people can manage with those
who've died. It's as if Jacob is still alive."
"Jacob!" The young man was startled. "Was there any connection
"It's possible there was, yes," Trevor agreed sternly. "But
it has no relevance, so let's keep to the topic here, so you don't miss
more of algebra than you have to."
Cam snorted. "All of it's fine by me." He relaxed back in the
chair. "Dr. Ritter is a very perceptive and sensitive person, but
like with his dreams, it's not like usual sensitivities. It's almost like
he's empathic, but not quite. It's more -- general than that."
"Tastes, smells, sounds," Elizabeth agreed. "Anything
that affects the senses."
"ESP," Trevor suggested, but his wife shook her head.
"I think it's too limited to be ESP," she argued. "As
I understand ESP, it would allow the individual to know things he wouldn't
be able to sense in the normal world. Sydney's dreams suggest he's able
to sense things in unusual situations. He might be in a room, for instance,
and know what's happening in another, without being able to directly see
it." She studied the carpet for a moment, before she looked up again.
"There was a time, a few years ago, when he was temporarily blind.
If he had ESP, he should still have been able to 'see' things from that
time, but his visual memory of the period, at least as far as his dreams
show it, is blank."
"Well, that knocks that idea out," her husband remarked.
"Why don't you just ask him?" Cam proposed. "I mean, if
you ask him straight out, he'll probably be so surprised at anyone noticing
that he'll tell you."
Elizabeth glanced up at her husband and nodded. "He was planning
to go back to Blue Cove this morning, I think, so you might want to talk
to Sebastian now."
"I will." Trevor kissed Elizabeth's hair and then released
her, standing up and stretching. He shot a grin at Cam. "Back to
"Aw, man!" Cam got out of the chair but hesitated, scuffing
at the floor with the toe of his sneaker. "Isn't there anything else
you want to talk about?"
"No," Elizabeth told him firmly. "Now shoo. I promised
I'd go and see Angelique before lunch, and it's nearly 11 now."
Cam moved laggingly to the door, seeing Trevor heading down the corridor,
before reluctantly going down the hall to the stairs and jogging up them,
back to his math class.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Broots flipped through the Supernova files and then sorted them into
order, before slotting them into one of the filing cabinets that lined
the walls. At a knock on the door of his office, he looked up and called
for the person to enter. Warwick opened the door and closed it behind
himself, approaching the desk and handing over a folder.
"This is the report about the treatment of the Supernova victims,"
Warwick stated. "We finished the last doses this morning."
"And how's it going?"
"Well." Warwick smiled in satisfaction. "At this stage,
we're getting them to write reports on what Lucian had them do. That should
be finished in a day or two."
"Good work," Broots stated approvingly, accepting the report.
"I'll let you know if there's anything else I need from you."
Warwick nodded and left the office. Broots glanced through the pages,
seeing that the antidote Jarod had created for Supernova had worked effectively
on all those whom tests had proven had been given the drug. The reports
from the Supernova victims would provide further ways to secure the Centre
from any further attack, and Broots was working on a report to present
to the Board for still more improvements.
The door of his office opened and Kim stepped inside, letting the door
fall shut behind herself, as she approached the desk.
"How's it going?"
"Fine," he told her somewhat absentmindedly, turning to the
computer and making several notes before looking back at her again. "Was
there something you wanted?"
"I need a copy of Cox's will about Ammon House, so that I can hand
it over to Father Kelly."
"Oh, right." He pulled out the filing cabinet drawer containing
the papers pertaining to Ammon House and withdrew the relevant envelope,
handing it to her. "This is the original. If you could copy it and
bring it back to me, that'd be great."
"Sure thing." She took it, sent a brief grin in his direction
and then left the office.
Broots stared after her for a moment before shaking his head slightly
and refocusing on his work again. Morgan would be back the following day,
and she would expect to see the report before it was submitted to the
Board. He could talk to Kim later that night when she came home with him,
as she had begun doing on a regular basis, even after Debbie had come
back from staying with his brother, but for now Lazslo had to concentrate
on his work.
* * * * * * * * *
"If only Australia wasn't so far away," Jordan complained,
and Jarod nodded in agreement from his prone position on the grass.
"You'll have to save up for another trip, some time in the future,
for a honeymoon or something," he teased, seeing Merritt blush red
and Jordan intently examine the ground of the custom-made park in which
they were sitting. "And in the meantime," he suggested, seeing
the young woman smother her third yawn in about ten minutes, "why
don't you both go and unpack, and maybe have a nap, before dinner?"
"Sure." Jordan got out of the deckchair in which he had been
sitting and waited until Merritt had hugged her mother before taking her
hand and strolling back through the dappled light to the gray building
that loomed behind them.
Jarod looked at the woman in the deckchair opposite. "That trip
obviously achieved its aim."
"It sure did," she agreed. "And I'm glad Merritt was out
of the way when Lucian took Yuri. I only wish we'd managed to keep hold
of the sick bastard after we got Yuri back."
"No further sightings?" Jarod asked, reaching up to fill her
glass from a jug of juice on the picnic table between them.
"Not yet." She sighed, accepting the glass and sipping the
contents. "He's probably realized that just about every city has
sweepers looking out for him. My guess is he'll probably flee the country,
maybe to South America or somewhere."
"There aren't many places he could go," Jarod told her feelingly.
"I should know."
"You hardly ever left the USA," she mused. "How come?"
He grinned. "A little thing called a passport, Morgan."
She cocked a skeptical eyebrow. "You forged how many fake IDs in
"True," he conceded. "Actually, it was really because
I didn't want to lose track of what you were up to in Blue Cove. That's
a major difference between Lucian and me. He has offices all over the
world that he can visit or keep an eye on. I really only had the Centre.
That meant I had to stay in the vicinity, so I knew where my trackers
Morgan nodded understandingly. "At least it's over now."
Jarod smiled wryly. "Want to know something weird? I actually kind
of miss it."
She stared at him in amazement. "You
you miss it?"
"Sometimes, yes," he confessed. "I miss the variety and
the tension. It's so quiet around here that there are some days I feel
like I'll go insane if I don't do something. I guess," he sighed
ruefully, "I just wasn't meant to live a normal life."
He glanced over at the playground equipment Sebastian had had put into
the stretch of bare ground that had been converted into a ready-made park
for the Seraphim and other residents to enjoy, before casting an eye at
the woman who had slipped down to join him on the picnic blanket, thinking
that, despite his feelings of impatience, this was as close as he was
going to get to his own family, with Gabriel and Raphael playing on the
Morgan reached out to touch the back of her hand to his forehead, her
expression concerned but her eyes dancing with laughter. "You're
delirious, Jarod! I think we need to call the infirmary."
He chuckled, pulling up some grass and throwing it at her. "I never
knew you were the anxious type, except where your -- our son's concerned,
of course," he added.
She sighed, her good humor gone. "I really don't want to go back
tonight." Reaching forward, she put the glass on the table and then
rolled onto her stomach, folded her arms and rested her chin on them,
her eyes following her son as the boys ran over to the sandpit. "I'd
love to transfer the Seraphim to Blue Cove, just to have Gabriel near
"And Sebastian would probably have you shot or something,"
Jarod told her obligingly. "He was devastated when he first learned
about Gideon, but nothing would separate them now."
"Oh, I know it's wishful thinking," she retorted. "And
I also know that he's so happy here, it would be cruel to move him back,
but I miss him so much."
"When Lucian's out of the way," Jarod suggested, "you
could probably run the Centre from here. Make us a permanent partner and
move here. Sydney would probably come here, too, to be near you, Angelo
and his grandchildren."
"And you," she added quickly, before looking thoughtful. "Do
you really think I could run it from here?"
"Sebastian runs all his companies from here, and he's got plenty,"
Jarod replied immediately. "He spends his morning in meetings, and
then his afternoons are free to spend with his son, or that's what happens
on most days. I don't see why it should be any different with you. The
Centre has an office here in Dallas, and you could move the major hub
down here, if you were worried about losing control, being so far away."
He grinned. "I know Broots would love the idea. Ramona told me what
he said when the three of you came down here, before Gabriel and the others
She smiled. "I'm sure he'd be happy, as long as I transferred Kim
"They're really serious about that, huh?"
"Absolutely." She nodded. "And even better, Debbie thinks
Kim's great. If they ever take it further, and I'm pretty sure Broots
wants to, she'd probably love to have Kim as a step-mom."
"I'm glad." Jarod looked solemn. "Debbie deserves that
sort of stability in her life."
"Yes," Morgan agreed, "she does." She sighed and
rolled over to look up at him. "I've sometimes wondered, if I'd never
got to know Debbie properly, whether I would have bothered going to see
Gabriel before I knew he was my son, and not just my brother. Would I
have loved him as much as I do?"
Jarod smiled slightly. "I don't think your mother would have let
you do anything else."
"But I might not have paid attention to what she was trying to tell
me," she argued. "Debbie was the first person who made me realize
that I didn't have to be whatever 'Daddy' wanted me to be."
"Thank God she did," Jarod responded fervently, getting to
his feet as Gabriel came running over, his clothes caked in wet sand.
"Gabriel Charles, look at you!"
"I can't, Daddy!" his son protested. "It's all in de back!"
He turned to expose the streaks of green on the new pale blue shirt that
had been purchased for the welcome at the airport and Jarod rolled his
"I'm sure I never behaved like that." He looked down at the
woman lying on the rug. "He must have got it from your side of the
She snorted. "Well, why doesn't the former precocious infant take
his son off and change him into some harder-wearing clothes and I'll call
Broots, just to check that everything's okay and whether I really need
to go back there tonight."
Jarod brushed as much of the sand off his son as he could before chasing
the boys towards the building. Morgan watched them for a moment, smiling,
before taking out her cell phone.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
"What do you mean, Peter's dead?" the voice shrieked down the
line, and Broots held the phone away from his ear until the receiver went
"I only know what Christian from Berlin told me," he responded
warily. "It seems Lucian shot him last night. And Delius is dead,
"Good riddance," Morgan spat. "He's no loss." She
hesitated, her voice softening with grief. "But Peter
I can't believe it."
I think you should come back up," Broots offered uncertainly.
"Mr. Voorhees and Frederick Hohmann, the head of German security,
want to talk to you as soon as possible."
"I'll be there in a few hours," she snapped. "And I want
to see that report you're supposed to have for me about tightening our
The dial tone sounded in his ear and he dropped the phone back into the
cradle before turning to his computer. The file was already open on his
monitor, and he typed in the last few words of his report before beginning
to print it out. Kim's hands came down on his shoulders and he turned
to look up at her.
"Do you want me to pick Debbie up from school for you?"
"Please." He flashed her a tense smile, before suddenly looking
thoughtful. "She was supposed to go and have a final fitting for
her dress for the dance today. I was going to take you along with us anyhow,
because of how much she likes knowing what you think of her clothes."
Kim smiled. "I'll take her. She can show you the dress once it's
"Thanks." He watched her leave the office and then picked up
the pages that had been printed, checking that they were all there before
putting them into a folder and setting it aside.
* * * * * * * * *
Sydney paused in the doorway of the playroom to see that Angelo was sitting
on the floor, two of the Seraphim in his lap, listening eagerly as one
of the caregivers read the children a story. The psychiatrist thought
it was time to take Angelo back to Blue Cove, wanting to have his son
at home with him, where he could take care of him. He couldn't leave Angelo
here any longer. He had a duty of care for the son he had let be all but
destroyed, only wishing that Catherine had trusted him with the secret
of who the boy really was, so that he could have begun earlier. With a
rueful sigh, knowing how little his son would want to leave, Sydney was
about to enter the room when a hand gently tapped his shoulder and he
turned to find the building's owner beside him, to whom Jarod had introduced
him not long after he and Angelo had first arrived here.
The older man nodded slightly, returning the Australian's handshake.
"Sebastian," the younger man corrected. "I wondered if
I could have a word."
Curious, Sydney accompanied Sebastian to the elevator, watching as the
car descended to one of the lower floors, finding himself in a hall lined
with offices when the doors opened. He was led to one of the largest,
about halfway down, and entered to find several people sitting in one
corner. Ramona and three other people sat on the sofa. Three armchairs
stood vacant, and Sebastian waved Sydney to one of these, taking another
himself. Just as he sat down, Sydney heard soft, familiar footsteps, turning
in time to see Jarod enter the room.
"Hope I didn't miss anything," he stated, as he sat down in
the last empty armchair.
"We were just about to start," Sebastian informed him. "I
hadn't even gotten around to doing the introductions yet." He turned
to Sydney. "Dr. Ritter -- "
"Sydney," the psychiatrist amended, and Sebastian nodded slightly
in acknowledgement, waving at each of those seated in the circle.
"Sydney, these are Trevor, his wife Elizabeth, Ramona and Cam."
He suddenly grinned. "I think you already know my most recently attained
board member of Pele Enterprises."
"You could say that," Sydney agreed, smiling, as Jarod chuckled.
"We've got a proposal for you," Sebastian began, dispensing
with formalities, and Sydney tensed immediately. "We've seen how
happy your son is here, and we wondered if you'd consider letting him
stay -- for good."
Sydney's immediate instinct was to refuse. He had felt guilty, ever since
learning the truth about Angelo, that he had done nothing to protect the
defenseless child, and after discovering that the empath was his son,
that guilt had only magnified. This offer, it seemed to him, would be
throwing off the responsibility he had only recently adopted of the care
of his son, who was so incapable of taking care of himself in the unfamiliar
scenarios that the world would present to him.
"You've done a lot for Angelo," the young man Sebastian had
introduced as Cam remarked softly, to Sydney's surprise. "I doubt
that you need to feel guilty about it."
Wary, Sydney glanced at Jarod, who nodded, as if understanding, but deftly
steered the topic to a different area, shooting a quick glance at Elizabeth
before returning his gaze to the psychiatrist. "Angelique's happier
than I've seen her in some time," he remarked. "And I'm sure
that a large part of that is due to Angelo being here."
There was a moment of silence, which Trevor broke.
"It's just possible, Sydney," he began thoughtfully, "that
we might be able to do something for your son. I don't say that we can
get him to the level Jarod described to us, when you were using the treatment
he designed, but we might be able to improve his communication skills,
and hopefully also his concentration."
"How?" the psychiatrist returned, opening skeptical. "The
neural pathways that were restored by the treatment collapsed again when
it wasn't completed."
"You've seen the result of those people who are skilled in the art
of healing," Elizabeth reminded him quietly. "As Angelo's current
state was caused by tissue damage, there's a likelihood that they might
be able to do something about it. Of course, it's been so long that the
damaged tissue has already healed itself, which is why it might not be
completely successful. All we can do is give it a go."
Sydney considered for a moment. He had certainly seen the results of
those healers' skills -- the condition of the man beside him was evidence
of their abilities.
"Well, you could try," he offered doubtfully. "I don't
suppose it could do any more harm."
Sebastian nodded at Trevor, who made a note on a writing pad that rested
on his knee. Then the dark-skinned man's gaze swung around once more to
the older man, resting on him thoughtfully.
"Have you ever considered, Sydney," Trevor remarked, "that
Angelo's ability as an empath must have had a biological foundation? Nothing
that Raines did would have caused it in him."
"What are you implying?" the psychiatrist asked promptly.
"Nothing we've found would lead us to the conclusion that Catherine
Parker had any empathic or extra-sensory perceptive abilities," the
younger man stated. "Her 'Inner Sense' had nothing to do with the
physical senses, as such," Trevor's gaze intensified, "which
leaves us with Angelo's father."
Sydney straightened in his seat. "What are you trying to suggest,
Sebastian instantly raised an eyebrow. "Just out of interest,"
he stated quietly, "how did you know that was Trevor's last name?
Nobody's used it since we entered the room."
"It's written on
" Sydney's voice trailed off, his hand
in the process of indicating the notepad that lay on Trevor's knee, and
the surface of which was not visible from his seat.
Jarod reached over and tore off the sheet of paper, silently handing
it to his mentor. On it, Sydney saw the words 'Trevor McCarty' and looked
up again wordlessly.
There was a long pause before anyone spoke again.
"We believe it's a phenomenon called 'clairsentience,'" Trevor
explained. "It means 'clear feeling' in French, and -- "
"I know what it means," Sydney replied sharply, his feeling
of shock shattered by the assumption of ignorance. "I did grow up
in France, you know."
Sebastian chuckled as Trevor was momentarily flummoxed, before managing
to continue. "It's an extension of one or more of the senses. The
clairsentient individual can feel things they wouldn't normally be able
to, hearing things from further away than they would be able to do naturally,
for example, or seeing things on the other side of closed doors or even
just the other side of a room."
"Like when Jarod was coming before," Ramona interposed gently.
"You heard it before the rest of us did."
"There's also an apparently stronger connection to the spirit world,"
Elizabeth put in. "It probably explains why your dreamed conversations
with your brother are so much more real than those of others."
Sydney stared at her. "What do you know about my brother?"
She smiled slightly. "Sydney, everyone in this room, and most people
in this building, have some sort of gift. You aren't alone."
The psychiatrist was immediately curious. Although his profession refuted
the existence of 'gifts' such as these people claimed, he had had too
much experience of the paranormal to dismiss it in the automatic way most
of his professional colleagues did.
"You know we're not normal."
The sentence suddenly drifted into his mind, one that his brother had
uttered decades earlier, and which he had automatically contradicted.
They had been discussing unusual phenomenon, he recalled, after a lecture
in which ESP and other phenomena had been presented and refuted by a lecturer
in their psychiatry course.
"Of course we are," Sydney had insisted. "We've
got two arms and two legs, like everyone else, don't we?"
Jacob chuckled, deep in his throat, as he hefted his bag over his
shoulder, and then tapped the side of his head. "It's what in here
that tells you whether you're normal or not. And I don't think any of
the people here," he indicated the groups of people surrounding them,
"know the sorts of things that we know."
Sydney blinked, refocusing on the group around him, seeing that Jarod
had raised an eyebrow, as if waiting for him to comment, and the older
man wondered briefly if he had ever discussed that conversation with his
young prodigy. On consideration, he didn't believe that he had.
"We might be able to help you to hone that ability," Sebastian
offered, "if you're interested."
Sydney met his gaze steadily, recovering his composure. "I've lived
for almost 70 years with this in a basically latent state, Sebastian,
if indeed it actually exists. I don't really want to become a highly tuned
clairsentient at this stage. I've got enough to deal with, without it."
Sebastian nodded understandingly, nodding again at the other people in
the room, who rose and quietly left it. Sydney looked at the page he still
held, seeing the firmly inscribed handwriting, his eyes tracing the letters.
When he looked up again, only Jarod remained in the room, watching him,
waiting for a reaction, and the older man raised an eyebrow interrogatively.
"How long have you known?"
"Since just after Morgan left." Jarod leaned back in his chair.
"Sebastian and Trevor came to talk about it with me. But I've always
wondered if there was something different about you."
"You're mocking me now," the psychiatrist replied sharply,
and Jarod laughed, shaking his head.
"I wouldn't do that, Sydney. And I did always feel that way. But
it wasn't something that I would've been able to pick up anyway. You're
obviously receptive, rather than emitting your senses."
"You seem to have become quite an expert."
"I did a little research." He met the older man's gaze, a trace
of humor in his dark eyes. "The way you taught me."
Sydney rolled his eyes. "I never taught you to research me!"
Jarod laughed. "I like to know what I'm talking about, as do you."
The psychiatrist stared at the paper in his hands again before slowly
looking up. "I'm not going to tell Morgan about this."
The Pretender raised an eyebrow. "Why not? Do you think she won't
"It's a personal decision," Sydney snapped. "My decision."
"Of course it is," Jarod agreed quietly, standing and heading
towards the door. "I just don't believe she'd be as surprised as
* * * * * * * * *
Lucian sat at the window of his hotel room, his newly purchased laptop
open in front of him, a file sitting idle. After a moment, the screensaver
started, and the screen went black, before words began to scroll across
The Centre. Die Fakultät. The Asian Station. The Pretoriat.
Other names followed these, and then Lucian idly watched as the sequence
restarted, planning what he would do when he once more had control of
his empire. There would be no Triumvirate this time. Everyone would answer
to him, and only to him. The basic organizational structures had always
been sound -- his father had had a good understanding of organization
-- but the old Triumvirate had always believed it had too much power.
When he took over, that would change.
Pushing the chair back further, basking in the sunlight that streamed
in through the window, he shut his eyes and thought of his most recent
glories. Killing Peter Winston had been fun, but more for the knowledge
of how it would affect Morgan than anything else. Lucian, aware of their
shared history, had not missed the strong feelings the dead man had had
for his American counterpart, and, whether the feelings had been reciprocated
or not, he had no doubt that the loss of a friend, for a woman who had
had so few of those, would be painful. It would also, he hoped, increase
her own feelings of concern about her personal security.
But taking care of Delius had been a piece of personal revenge he had
anticipated for years. Part of his training had been done in Germany,
at the old office in Potsdam, before the new building in Berlin had been
completed, and Martin Delius had enjoyed his apparent superiority over
both Cox and Lucian himself during those years.
The devastating realization on Delius' face of who 'Valentine' really
was had been wonderful, and he had made sure the man's death was as slow
as he dared to make it. Certainly, it would have been agony, and he smiled
at the thought. In fact, the persona of Valentine had been useful, and
had lasted for a long time. He thought back to how it had begun, the smile
slowly fading from his face.
Lucian tossed the handful of dirt onto his father's grave, glanced
at his mother's dry eyes, and knew. Though the Centre inquest revealed
the death was due to natural causes, Lucian sensed that it had been doctored,
or at least influenced to read as it did. He nodded to her as she prepared
to walk away, still trim and beautiful despite her years. He had her dark
hair and eyes, his father's deep voice, and now, an empire to run.
He recalled the last conversation he'd had with his father before
he died. Hermann had told him about the Triumvirate's quashing of several
of his most necessary projects because of the human cost, refusing to
see the Big Picture and how the end result would benefit mankind. They
had also been prying into some of the projects housed on the lower floors,
and that was someplace they simply had no business.
It was time, then, for a change in management. Lucian had been doing
his research and knew which of the other senior executives would follow
the company line, and not be squeamish about what had to be done. They
were men who had already proven themselves by bringing in valuable subjects
like Jarod, Kyle and Damon. They could be counted on to treat the commodities
as property and not get sentimental about what was done to them.
That kind of strength was necessary in an organization like The Centre.
Lucian had that strength himself, and expected nothing less of those who
would work under him. The faint-hearted would be swept away to make room
for those with spines made of steel.
He smiled as he watched his mother retreating toward the black limousine.
After he finished rearranging the board of directors, he'd have a little
personal vengeance to ice the cake. He pulled the stack of sanction orders
from the inner pocket of his black suit, checked the names against the
faces as they departed the graveside, and began to plan how best to remove
them from office.
It would be a pleasure to take care of that himself. And that new
doctor he'd seen in the halls, the one with the abject love of road kill,
whose hobby was taxidermy, would come in quite handy as well. Lucian meant
to keep these trophies as a reminder of his power, in the secret room
that was his father's legacy.
But first, he'd have to make the young doctor's acquaintance and feel
him out, to see if he'd be interested in such an unusual, yet artistic
undertaking. If not, such a junior scientist was surely expendable as
well. And as long as he had signed sanctions in his pocket for the Triumvirate,
no one would question a lowly sweeper who was just carrying out orders.
What he did with the remains was his own business.
He glanced at the headstone standing guard over the open grave and
read the epitaph. It was standard schmaltz, not good enough for a man
of Hermann Bruce's stature. But the date caught his eye, and he chuckled.
The date of his father's death was immortalized in stone, reminding him
of the transfer of power. People might not remember that event once Lucian
went underground, but he would carry the reminder with him always.
Hermann Bruce, born August 20, 1915, died February 14, 1985.
That would be a splendid new name for his covert identity.
"See ya, Dad," he murmured with a brief salute. "Mom
will be here shortly."