Promises Kept

 

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Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

"I haven't seen her," the receptionist was saying, as Jarod and Jordan entered the building. "And I certainly would have stopped her before she went out. Of course I would!"

The men exchanged slightly confused glances and then shrugs as they got into the elevator. Their conversation was about the boy they had left in Blue Cove and his progress, and this topic lasted until the elevator doors opened onto the nursery floor, and a scene of unusual activity.

The large doors to the playroom stood wide, and two of the caregivers hurried into the elevator as soon as it arrived, barely giving Jarod and his son time to get out before the doors shut.

"What on earth…?" Jordan began, before grinning. "Is this what happens when I go away?"

"Maybe when I do," his father retorted.

"Jarod!" One of the caregivers met them as soon as they walked into the large room. "Have you seen Michaela this morning?"

"I've only just got back from Delaware," the Pretender explained, seeing Jordan go over to greet his fiancé with a kiss and join in the game his little brother was playing. "I haven't had a chance to see anyone. Is she missing?"

"For an hour!" Amy told him in a panic-stricken voice. "We thought she was in her room, but when we went in to look, she wasn't there. Then we thought she was hiding, but we've searched every room on this level, and every cupboard, and she's nowhere to be found!"

"Calm down," Jarod told her sharply, recognizing the rising hysteria in her tones. "You'll upset the other children."

The woman took several deep breaths before speaking again. "We've just arranged for security to begin searching the lower levels of the building, working their way up, but she could be anywhere by now!"

"Well, I can't imagine why she'd leave," the man stated calmly, "so we'll find her eventually. I'll take these up to Yuri," he tapped a bundle of files in his arms, work that he had been given to offer the younger Pretender, "and then I'll come and help you all look." He glanced at the group in the corner. "Why don't you ask the other children where she is? They'll probably know."

"Good idea."

Amy turned and moved back to the corner where the other Seraphim were playing calmly with the stuffed animals that had been brought back for them from Australia. The sight struck Jarod as odd, considering the bustle that was going on around them, and he continued to dwell on it as he got into the elevator.

He nearly dropped the folders he was carrying as the elevator doors opened and he saw the little girl sitting on the floor outside the apartment.

"Michaela!" he exclaimed, hurrying over to pick her up. "Is this where you are? Everyone's looking for you! Have you been here all this time?"

She looked at him calmly. "I's waitin' for Yuri," she explained sedately.

The man's brow furrowed. "How do you know about Yuri?"

"I seed him one day, when I was sleepin'," she responded, giving him a beaming smile. "An' Tempes' said dat he lives here, so I's waitin' 'till he comes out."

"I'm taking you back down to the nursery," Jarod told her, turning to press the elevator call button, but before his fingers could touch it, the girl screamed, wriggling frantically in an attempt to get out of his arms before he carried her away. Jarod flinched as her shoe hit him in the thigh, where the bullet had been removed.

"Noooo!" she shrieked shrilly. "I wants to see Yuri! Not goin' back down! No!"

Jarod cuddled her, trying to calm her down, forgetting her abilities, until something sharp seemed to cut into him, causing him to freeze, his eyes popping in pain. The electricity shot through him, exiting through the soles of his feet and going into the building, causing the lights around them to flicker. Jarod fought to breathe, but the muscles in his chest refused to react to his mental orders, and he could only gasp vainly.

Gradually, as the long seconds passed, the agony faded, and he fought for air, slowly becoming aware, through a haze of pain, that Michaela had stopped screaming. As his sight cleared, Jarod saw she was looking at him out of wide, terrified eyes.

"It's… all right," he panted, leaning weakly against the wall and pressing a hand to his forehead as it began to throb, seeing that the folders had fallen from his grasp, thankful he hadn't dropped her also.

"Unca Jarod," she whimpered timidly, flinching away from him as he gently stroked her shorn hair with a shaking hand, managing to avoid the long, red scar.

The skin on his arm was black in the places where it had made contact with her, and her clothes had black spots also, where the more powerful spurts of electricity had burst through. The smell of burnt hair and fabric lingered in the air as Jarod, having caught his breath, managed to lurch to his feet again, keeping a hand on the wall to maintain his balance.

"Are you okay, sweetie?" he asked softly, seeing that she was pale, her eyes still wide and full of panic.

"I didn' mean it, Unca Jarod," she wailed tearfully, before starting to cry, and he gathered her in both arms, holding her against his shoulder and gently rubbing her back as he rocked her.

"I know you didn't, Michaela," he soothed, stroking her hair and managing to control his trembling limbs, feeling his heart flutter in his chest. "It's all right, honey. Honest, it is. I'm okay now."

Privately, he wondered how many of the computers in the building had switched off and lights had blown. The nursery floor had been insulated before the children were rescued, to prevent this sort of thing happening, either from Michaela's electrokinesis, or a fire started by Gideon. Up here, however, there was no extra protection and the power could have traveled through several floors. Luckily, they were probably far enough above the offices that the large stores of data there should be safe, but he thought wryly that dinner would probably be burnt.

The door of Yuri's apartment suddenly opened and the occupant stepped out into the hallway, his eyes widening at the sight that met his gaze, but hesitating when he saw the girl in Jarod's arms. Michaela still had her face buried in Jarod's shoulder, clutching him around the neck, and he was able to feel her trembling as she continued to sob violently.

"Is… is everything all right?" the younger Pretender asked hesitantly.

"It is now," Jarod assured him, nodding down at the files. "Can you get those for me?"

Stepping away, he picked up the phone hanging on the wall beside the elevator, as Yuri began to collect the folders and sheets of paper. Dialing the number of the nursery, he was unsurprised to hear it picked up at the first ring.

"It's okay, Helen," he assured the frantic woman. "I've found Michaela."

She heaved a relieved sigh. "Thank God for that. Will you bring her back?"

"Not right now. She's a little… upset," he replied, after a brief pause to choose the right word. "I'll bring her down when she's feeling better."

"That's fine, Jarod," she told him. "Just so long as we know she's still in the building, and all right."

He hung up the phone and turned to find Yuri offering him the files, the man keeping an uncertain eye on the girl in Jarod's arms.

"I was bringing them up for you anyway, if you want them," Jarod told him, feeling his right arm start to throb from the pain of his burns. "Did Sebastian provide you with a first aid kit?"

"Uh, yeah," the younger man agreed warily, clutching the folders to his chest. Waving at the door, he followed them inside, seeing Jarod sit on the sofa and begin to take off Michaela's small top, checking her skin for burns.

Dropping the folders on his workstation, Yuri went into his bathroom and took the box down from the shelf where he kept it, carrying it out into the living room. Opening it onto the coffee table, he extracted a tube of burn cream and took out a roll of gauze bandage. Then he retreated to an armchair on the far side of the room, watching silently.

Picking up the tube of cream, Jarod removed the top and dabbed it onto the various scalds on Michaela's chest, which seemed to be the main area from which the electricity was emitted, although the palms of her little hands were also redder than usual, and he had small, starfish-like burns on his arms, one next to a scar he had to remind him of his test with Allegra, whilst still in the Centre. Presumably, if they were to concentrate her skill, she would need to be taught to focus her energy on her hands, to control the direction in which she could direct the electricity.

"Unca Jarod," she whimpered, looking up at him out of large, frightened, brown eyes.

"It's okay, sweetie," he soothed, picking up the gauze and using it to cover the burns, despite the fact that his arm was painful to use, and his feet were also throbbing. "This will help make it hurt less."

When her burns had been treated, he lifted her onto his lap, cuddling her against him and rocking her. She snuggled up against his chest, tears once more filling her eyes, until she again began to sob.

"Hey, none of that," he urged gently, lifting her so that her eyes were on a level with his. "Come on, honey, no more tears, okay? Everything's all right now."

"P… promise?"

"Of course I do." He lightly kissed her tear-stained cheek. "Does anywhere else hurt?"

Shaking her head slowly, she wrapped her arms around his neck and rested her head down on his shoulder, but the change of position meant that she could see the man on the far side of the room, and she raised her head again, before pointing at him.

"Dere's Yuri!"

"I know, sweetie," Jarod replied, seeing the younger Pretender visibly stiffen. "Tempest was right. Yuri does live here."

She looked at him curiously. "You knows Yuri?"

Jarod smiled. "Yes, Michaela. Yuri and I," he looked up at the man opposite, arching an eyebrow slightly, "are friends."

"Why's he over dere?" she asked.

"I would imagine," Jarod suggested carefully, "that he didn't want to be in the way."

"But we's finished now," Michaela announced cheerfully, her normal confidence restored by the change of subject. Wriggling out of Jarod's hold, she plumped down on the sofa and patted the unoccupied cushion next to her with an expectant air. "Yuri," she called. "Come sit wif us."

"Please," Jarod prompted automatically.

"Please," she added.

Jarod could see the younger man's reluctance, but forced himself to stay silent and keep his face expressionless, not wanting to influence Yuri's decision in any way. Michaela, however, obviously understood his hesitation in another way. Jarod saw her face fall as she watched him consider the invitation.

"I isn't gonna hurt you," she promised pleadingly.

The pain on Yuri's face at that statement was obvious, and Jarod could imagine the mental pain it caused him, unable to help seeing the irony in that babyish statement.

"He knows that," Jarod assured her gently, seeing Yuri nod, a movement that Jarod suspected was involuntary. "He knows you wouldn't hurt him, sweetheart."

After a moment, the younger man rose from his chair and laggingly approached the sofa, taking the place Michaela had indicated. Immediately, she wriggled closer to him, and Jarod saw Yuri's fingers tighten around the arm of the sofa, in an attempt not to move away also, but he managed to remain still. The girl studied his face for a moment, before beaming.

"You's nice," she announced. "Jus' like I foughted, when I seed you."

Yuri was unable to completely conceal his internal emotional struggle, his jaw clenching several times and blinking back tears. Jarod saw one escape from his eye as Michaela snuggled close to him, wrapping her little arms as far around his waist as she could reach, but the Pretender wiped it away with his other hand before it could get far. The older man saw him hesitate, before his arm curled around the girl beside him, his movements obviously awkward.

Looking away, Jarod examined the skin on his arm, removing the top from the tube of cream and applying the cool, white substance to the blackened patches. He would obviously have to come up with medication to mute the little girl's ability, in the same way he had with the pyrokinetics, to prevent any further accidents. Applying the gauze bandage to his arm, he fastened it securely, wriggling his toes and feeling pain there also, knowing there would be burns from the exit wounds and hoping his socks wouldn't have stuck to the burnt skin, making them difficult to remove later.

When Jarod looked up again, Michaela's eyes were closed, her head resting against her father's chest, worn out from the use of energy and the emotion that always followed it. Yuri was looking down at her, gently stroking her hair, but he stopped the moment he felt Jarod's eyes on him.

"This was your decision, Yuri," Jarod reminded the younger man quietly, shooting a warning look at the camera on the wall, hoping to prevent anyone from interrupting, "not mine."

"I know," Yuri murmured, his eyes locked on the girl in his arms. "I don't deserve this."

"If you stay here, Michaela will pursue you," Jarod mused thoughtfully, looking down at the child's relaxed face, resting against her father's chest. "If you leave, she'll miss you. Maybe so much that she'd run away to find you, like she did today. There aren't many people she's developed strong connections with, but you and Emily are two of them."

Yuri's features folded into a glare as his eyes rolled up to the other man. "I don't want to have to deal with this."

"You don't have a choice," Jarod shot back. "Not now. You were given a choice about coming to help, and you agreed. You wanted to be close to her." He eyed the limp body lying against Yuri's side, and his lips twisted in bitter sympathy. "You can't get much closer than that."

The young man flinched away, but the child beside him only snuggled closer, her arms tightening around him, before she relaxed again.

"See what I mean?" Jarod arched an eyebrow. "You have a responsibility, Yuri. Michaela might not know who you are, but she knows you're special, and that's enough. She wants to be friends with you, and you've only got two options."

Standing, feeling the soles of his feet prickling painfully as he put weight on them, Jarod lifted the sleeping child out of Yuri's arms, gently disengaging her relaxed grip and rubbing a hand up and down her back as she whimpered.

"I'll be in my room, or the infirmary, and you have my cell phone number," he stated. "If you want to talk, call me."

Limping slightly, his thigh also throbbing, he left the room, seeing that the guards, who had been waiting on either side of the door in case they were needed, relaxed their stance as soon as he appeared. Pulling the door shut behind him, Jarod pressed the button for the elevator to take Michaela back down to the playroom and to tell the others what had happened, before getting treatment for his burnt feet.

* * * * * * * * *

Blue Cove, Delaware

Morgan switched off the headlights and got out of the car, ensuring she had her purse. Unclipping her gun, she carefully stored it in the glove compartment, rather than take it into the supermarket with her, locking her car door and closing it, before turning towards the building.

The lump of wood made solid contact with the side of her head, the dull thud satisfying to the man who swung the blunt implement, as she crumpled to the ground. He pulled something out of his pocket, picking up her limp hand, and slid the tip of the needle into the blood vessel, a flashlight held between his teeth so that he could see what he was doing. Injecting the sedative, he let her hand drop before putting the syringe back into his pocket and then walking over to a nearby car, driving it close enough that he could pull her body into the back seat without anyone being able to see.

The car drove away, and then there was silence.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

The moon was high in the sky when the car pulled up in front of the gray building, and Jarod and his son came out onto the steps. Jordan wanted to be back to the Centre for a meeting with the other members of the team overseeing Pedro, so he had to leave early. The man gave his son a final hug and watched him run down the stairs. Jordan had, at his baby bother's pleading, stayed for two nights, but he had been so enthusiastic about his work during their discussions that Jarod hadn't even tried to dissuade Jordan from leaving, aware that his son had found a profession to keep him busy and, which was more important, happy.

The elevator carried Jarod back up to the residence floor and he glanced at his watch as he got out, thinking that he could have another two or so hours of sleep before his baby son would come in to wake him up. Outside the door to his room, he found Elizabeth, her hand raised to knock, and he was immediately concerned at the worried expression in her eyes.

"What is it?"

"It's the Seraphim," she told him, as he guided her into his room. "They're all dreaming about Morgan, that she's been abducted by the man who took Faith. And these are strong dreams, like the ones Trevor has when he's seen visions. I think it could be true."

Before Jarod could respond, his cell phone, lying on the workstation, began to ring, and he quickly picked it up, activating the call.

"Hello?"

"Jarod, Morgan's missing." The words tumbled over each other, and the Pretender could hear the anxiety in Sydney's voice. "The sweepers at her house reported that she never came home last night. We found her car near the supermarket, her gun was in the glove compartment, but she's not there. There was blood on the ground near her car…"

"Sydney, stop," Jarod protested, holding a hand up in a futile gesture of protest at the barrage of words, feeling his stomach tighten in anxiety. "What time did she leave the Centre last night?"

"Almost eleven." The psychiatrist's voice was strained. "Sam walked her to her car and then went home, but she never got there, and the store's security footage doesn't show that she ever went inside it."

"Do they have parking lot cameras?"

"Yes," Broots' voice put in, "but the light in the area where she parked her car was broken, so we couldn't see anything."

"Do we know who smashed it?"

"Just a group of kids," the head of SIS told him. "Teenagers."

Jarod thought for a moment. "Try to enhance the footage," he said finally. "I'm guessing the only person who'd try this would be Lucian, but we might as well make sure. I'll ask the Seraphim and other people here and see what they can tell me."

"I've already alerted the offices, nation-wide," Broots told him.

"Fine," Jarod stated curtly. "I'll call you when I know any more."

He cut the connection and looked at the woman. "It's true," he informed her. "Lucian took her last night. Probably the only reason the Seraphim haven't woken up in distress is because you took the dreams away from them."

"I can give them back," she offered hesitantly. "It won't be pleasant for them, but if it'll help them work out where Morgan's been taken…"

"They'll work it out anyway," he replied curtly. "I'll go down now and find out what they can tell me. Go wake up your husband and Ethan, and bring them down to the playroom. They might be able to help."

Dropping his cell phone into his pocket, he hurried down the few flights of stairs and into the large playroom. As he opened the large doors, he heard wailing coming from the area in which the children slept and knew that Elizabeth had allowed the children to dream about the woman's abduction. Helen came out of the passageway that led to the bedrooms, relief in her eyes when she saw him.

"The children…" she began anxiously, but he interrupted.

"I know. We need them, though."

He hurried into Gabriel's room, seeing that the boy was sobbing in Sara's arms. The child held out his arms as soon as his father appeared. Jarod lifted the baby into his arms, and Gabriel buried his face the man's neck, howling.

"Bring the other children in here," he directed, and the woman left the room to do so as Jarod looked down at his son.

"Where's Mommy?" he asked quietly. "Do you know?"

"She hurted," Gabriel wailed, before dissolving into frantic tears, burying his head in his father's shoulder. Jarod held him close and looked up as the Seraphim were brought into the room by their caregivers, running over to where he stood. Jarod sat down on the floor, Gabriel in his lap, and the other seven huddled close to him.

"Where is she?" he asked them, forcing himself to be calm. "Where's Aunty Morgan?"

Tempest had been staring at the floor, but she finally looked up at him, and Jarod saw the same light of knowledge in Uriel's eyes, but the boy let her speak.

"'S a big place'" the child told him, "Big an' all white, with a round thing on top, an' like door-things all over it, Unca Jarod."

That could be anywhere! Jarod thought in frustration, trying to think of a way to get her to pick a landmark that would be unique to only one city without confusing her. He forced himself to calm down when he saw Angelique flinch and tears fill her blue eyes.

"Dat was b'fore," Uriel piped up. "Now she's in a buildin'. All dark."

The children's parents joined the group, Angelo picking up his daughter and cuddling her, as the other Seraphim climbed into their parents' laps. Trevor, Elizabeth and several others hovered in the background with the caregivers.

"Washington DC," Ethan murmured, his eyes closed, his arms around his son. "Momma said…"

"I'll get the jet prepped," Ramona offered, as Ethan trailed off. Sebastian, who held Gideon and Dominique in his lap, murmured into his wife's ear and she stood up and went over to say something to Trevor, who left the room.

There was silence for several minutes, before Jarod got to his feet. Ethan gave Uriel one last hug and then slid him onto Julia's lap, the woman sitting between him and Joseph, the healer seated in a wheelchair, his balance still unsteady, but therapy was treating the ongoing weakness on his left side. Jarod pulled out his cell phone and dialed Sydney's number. The psychiatrist answered on the first ring.

"Lucian took her to Washington DC," Jarod stated. "We'll fly up to meet you there. Have the local office start looking for them. And bring antidotes for Supernova and the others, just in case."

"Where?" Sydney asked, before he could hang up.

"We'll meet you outside the Capitol building." Hanging up, he slid the phone back into his pocket.

"I'm coming with you this time." Ethan's tone was firm and he looked up at his brother as if daring him to suggest otherwise.

Jarod barely had time to nod before Trevor returned, hurrying over to them with a black case in his hand. "I ordered a car for us," he put in. "Namir's coming, too, just in case."

The Pretender didn't want to think of Morgan possibly being injured, but knew that it made sense to take precautions, considering what his son had said, particularly now that the Israeli could heal without causing any damage to himself. Gabriel clung to his father, and Jarod gently disengaged his hands, lifting his face to look into his son's brown eyes.

"I'm going to find Mommy," he explained gently. "You stay here."

"Mine," the boy whimpered, as Jarod handed him to his caregiver, and Angelique leaned out of Angelo's arms, cuddling the boy when Sara was close enough to the empath for her little arms to reach.

Jarod, Trevor, Namir and Ethan left the room, hurrying to the elevator and riding it to the lobby. A car was already standing at the entrance, and as soon as they were inside, it drove off. Trevor opened the case on his knees, and Jarod heard Ethan sharply draw in his breath as he saw the guns inside, with numerous rounds of ammunition.

Jarod accepted the gun and holster Trevor gave him, unavoidably reminded of the last time he'd held a firearm, and its consequences. A cold shiver of fear ran down his spine, but he pushed it aside, concentrating on trying to form a plan of action for when they arrived in DC. He hated the fact that it was a five-hour flight, but there was no way to reduce it. All they could do was to make sure they were as well prepared as possible when they finally arrived.

* * * * * * * * *

Washington DC

Morgan could feel her head throbbing and managed to press a hand to her forehead, opening her eyes to a well-lit room, the brightness of the walls causing her to shade her eyes with her other hand. After a few seconds, her eyes adjusted, and then she lifted her head, feeling something trickle down the side of her face. Touching it, she saw that her fingertips had been reddened by blood.

"Ah, you're awake, Miss Parker… oh, I'm sorry," a snide voice stated, making Morgan jump, "of course, that should be Miss Ritter."

She looked around wildly before finally seeing the raised platform, well above her head, encased in glass, in which the former head of the Centre stood, smirking. Automatically reaching for her gun, she looked down to find her holster empty at the same moment as she heard a soft chuckle from the man.

"You really think I'm stupid enough to leave you armed?" Lucian mocked. Reaching forward, he knocked on the glass walls around him. "This isn't bulletproof you know."

"What do you want?" she demanded.

"I'm keeping my promise to you," he responded coolly, but there was a strange light in his eyes that caused a thrill of cold fear to run down her spine. This man was definitely insane. "I said I wanted you willing, and although I had to do some of the hard work myself, you didn't protest too much."

Morgan's eyes flickered around the room as she struggled to her feet, and she saw the six doors that lined the walls, wondering where they led, before returning her gaze to Lucian's face. His expression was one of greed and pleasure, and she wondered what he was planning, before he raped and then murdered her, which, she was sure, was his intention.

"I don't know what you think you'll achieve by this," she told him, forcing a tone of anger into her voice. "Killing me won't get you your power back."

"Who said anything about killing you?" he asked in a surprised voice. "No, you're much more use to me alive than you ever could be dead, at least for the moment. You see," he mused, "unlike myself and the people my father and I put in to run my companies, your cohorts are bothered by those pesky little things called feelings. When I tell MacKenzie and Broots that I've got you, I think we can probably clock their reactions with an egg timer. I'll get my companies back and after I've enjoyed you for a while I'll decide what to do with you then." His eyes gleamed eagerly. "You're just the type of woman I've always wanted," he purred. "A bit of a fighting spirit."

"They'll kill you first," she spat.

"Oh, I don't think so," he responded evenly. "You see, they don't even know you're missing. Jarod is, even now, still working hard at the Centre."

He picked up a remote control and pointed it at a wall behind her, and she turned to see a large TV screen built into the wall, which flickered into life. She could see the familiar dark head bent over papers, writing busily, but her eyes roamed quickly around the visible parts of the office and she knew at once that it wasn't Jarod's. Morgan knew Jordan had been planning to come back to Delaware, but had stayed in Dallas with his family. It was conceivable that he was now there again, meaning that Lucian had been tricked by the very technology whose creation he had so celebrated.

Hope began to burn in her, knowing that both Broots and her father would be anxious if she didn't turn up for work that morning. She blessed the technician's idea to have sweepers at the houses of executive employees, who would report comings and goings, and knew that Sydney's first step would be to call Jarod in Dallas. In a short space of time, every Centre employee would be looking for her, and there weren't too many places they could be hiding. In the meantime, she would somehow have to hold off Lucian's attempts to get any closer to her…

* * * * * * * * *

Over Washington D.C.

The jet was 30 minutes away from Ronald Reagan Washington National airport when Jarod's cell phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Jarod, we've had a security breach," Broots' voice told him. "It started about 20 minutes ago."

"What are they looking for?"

"They tapped into the camera system, and the only ones that were activated are those that were put into Pedro's room for his team to observe what he was doing and the one that was already in the room next to it, which we set up for Jordan as an office."

Jarod looked at the table in front of him thoughtfully. "Try and trace it, Broots. I'd guess it's Lucian looking for something, so we might be able to narrow down the search area that way."

"Sure thing," the technician told him promptly. "Should I tell Jordan he's being watched?"

The Pretender thought for a moment. "Lucian could be listening in, so don't. If he's just watching him on camera, he probably can't do any harm, but have sweepers posted outside the room, and keep watch on the breach, just in case." The Pretender thought for a moment, listening to Broots repeat the orders. When the head of SIS was listening again, he added something that had just occurred to him. "Jordan might feel that he's being watched. If he does, you'd better send him a message from me to keep working normally. Lucian must have a reason, and we don't want to play into his hands, particularly if it puts Morgan in any danger."

"Got it." The call was disconnected and Jarod returned the phone to his pocket, telling his fellow passengers what had been said.

* * * * * * * * *

Washington DC

"What about Peter?" she demanded. "What did he do to you? Why did he have to die?"

Lucian was pacing the small, glassed-in room, watching her closely. "You don't get it, do you?" he demanded. "You don't see why I had to do it, why the Centre had to be mine."

"Explain it to me." Morgan struggled to suppress the small flutter of fear in her stomach as she watched him. "Tell me why."

"The psychiatrist's daughter," he sneered. "Inherited it, did we? The penchant for questions?"

"Did it have to do with your father?" she guessed, remembering what she had read about them in the files. "Was that why?"

"I would have expected you of all people to understand," he hissed. "You've spent years trying to keep up with 'Daddy.'"

His voice was as smooth as velvet, a soft purr, but Morgan wasn't as deceived. She already knew the lows to which this man could stoop, how dangerous he really was.

"I won't let him win," Lucian snarled softly. "I'm better than he is. Stronger. He was weak, the way he let my mother win when she killed him. Even Aunt Michelle never believed that I could be that strong, but she knows now. I'll show her, just as soon as I'm done here."

Oh, dear God, Morgan thought to herself as he stared down at her, his eyes glowing with a new, strange, mad intensity. He really is insane. Her fear increased, along with her determination not to show him how she felt. Momma, she thought desperately. Please, Momma. Don't let him kill me. I don't want to die.

Hang on, baby, Catherine's voice echoed in her ears. They're coming. Not long now. Just hang on a little longer. Keep him talking.

"What about all those women?" Morgan prompted, knowing that her mother was right. "I know it was you who killed them. What was that for? Why?"

A tiny smile played around corners of the man's mouth as he folded his arms over his chest and a look of pride appeared in his eyes.

"That was art," he affirmed smoothly. "They were so beautiful and so easy. They couldn't resist me. No one can, you know," he stated in a confidential tone that made Morgan shudder inside. "I loved how simple it was. They came with me so willingly, and they were so surprised when the time came for them to die."

He laughed, a deep husky laugh from deep within his chest, and then reached into his pocket, pulling out a scrap of fabric that Morgan recognized as that which he had stolen from her so many months before. His eyes glowed more fiercely as he stared down at her, but the rest of his face was expressionless, and Morgan felt her terror increase even further. She was going to die at this man's hands. There could be no doubt about that now.

"You're the one I really want, though," Lucian told her, and although his tone was still as soft and smooth as ever, Morgan detected a strange, almost hysterical note in it. "You're going to enjoy what I'll do to you," he purred, his dark eyes glowing like fire. "I'm very good at it, Morgan. I know that you appreciate fine things, and I'm the best you'll ever have. But then," he added in a careless tone, "you'd enjoy it no matter what I did to you. That's if I let you remember it."

He picked up a case and took out a syringe, holding it up to the light, and Morgan could guess at its contents. She shuddered at the thought that she could be under this madman's control. He had wanted her willing and she knew that if he had the chance to administer that drug, which she guessed to be Supernova, he could do whatever he wanted with her and she would be unable to resist.

Please Jarod, she thought desperately. Hurry!

* * * * * * * * *

Trevor, who had the best knowledge of Washington, pulled the limousine up in front of the Capitol Building, and Sydney and Sam approached it immediately, getting into the back seat. Namir sat in the front, beside Trevor, so there was just room for them all.

"Nobody's seen anything yet," Sam began. "We had a call from the office about 10 minutes ago, but no positive sightings."

Jarod's cell phone rang before anyone could respond to this, and he answered it at once.

"Broots?"

"We've narrowed it down to a few blocks, north of the city," the technician told him. "It's coming from somewhere along 15th Street, probably in the area of Florida Avenue and Girard Street."

"Good work," Jarod told him curtly, repeating the directions to Trevor, who immediately steered the car into the moderately heavy traffic, heading for that part of town. "Can you narrow it down any more?"

"We'll keep trying," Broots assured him. "And I'll call the office and tell them to redirect the search to that area."

"Do that," the Pretender responded sharply, hanging up. He turned to his brother, who was sitting with his eyes closed, his mouth moving rapidly, and Jarod, reading his lips, realized that he was begging his mother to tell him where his sister was.

"What do we do when we get there?" Sam demanded. "We've got blocks to search!"

"And we've got just the person to make it easier," Trevor put in. The car's other occupants stared at him in confusion.

"Who?"

"Sydney," the psychic responded, glancing at the psychiatrist in the rearview mirror, and Jarod saw the stunned look on the older man's face, suddenly working out what Trevor meant.

"He's right," the Pretender agreed, and Sydney shot him a startled look. "At least try, Sydney," he pleaded. "We don't have time to waste. If Lucian realizes we're here, he'll kill her!"

"But how?" Sydney murmured back. "I don't know…"

"I know a little, the basics of it, anyway," Jarod interrupted, before raising his voice. "Trevor, how long until we get to the area Broots talked about?"

"Ten, maybe 20 minutes," the psychic told him, "depending on the traffic."

"Hopefully that's long enough," Jarod replied, turning back to the older man and starting to guide him through the various tests that had appeared in books and on Internet sites designed to hone clairsentient abilities, unable to help thinking, as he did so, the irony of the fact that their former roles were now reversed.

"This is 15th Street," Trevor announced, almost 20 minutes later, as they turned right. "And there's Florida Avenue."

"Can you slow down a little?"

Sydney's voice was calm, and Jarod could see the determination in his eyes, knowing that he had realized he was the only chance to save his daughter. No other person's skill in that vehicle was as likely to succeed as his.

"Turn right," Ethan suddenly stated, and Trevor obeyed immediately, slowing the car to a crawl as it drove along the curb. Most of the houses were copies of each other, using the same color bricks and roofing tiles. However, a large two-storey building about halfway along the street, with few windows, caught Jarod's eye. As they pulled level with it, Sydney's gaze intensified.

"There," he said sharply, pointing at it, and Trevor stopped the car a few feet past the gate. Jarod picked up the case of guns that had been pushed under the seat and offered the contents to those who had joined the group in Washington. He was startled to see Sydney pull back his jacket to reveal his own firearm, closing the case as the psychiatrist swiftly attached a silencer and checked that his gun was loaded.

"The closest team is 20 minutes away," Sam announced, disconnecting his cell phone and producing his own gun. "Should we wait for them?"

"The longer he's alone with her, the more chance he has to kill her," Jarod responded.

"Let's do this," Namir ordered, automatically taking charge.

The healer jogged around the outside of the house to work out the best way of entering it, coming back to where the others waited just outside the gate, out of sight of any windows.

"There are three doors," he told them softly, "so we will split up. Sam, you and Ethan, Trevor, you come with me, and Jarod and Sydney."

"And if they're locked?" Sam asked.

"Shoot the locks," Trevor told him, glancing at the weapons. "All our guns have silencers."

At the word, the group split up, Jarod and Sydney moving towards the nearest door. Putting out a hand to the knob he expected to be locked, Jarod was surprised when it opened. Gun at the ready, he entered, Sydney behind him.

Two doors confronted him in the dim hall, bright light streaming through the gaps beneath them, providing sufficient illumination for Jarod to make out Sydney's features.

"Which one?" he hissed softly.

The older man was about to reply when he heard muffled voices from inside the main room. After a moment of concentration, using the methods Jarod had suggested to him in the car, he could make out some of what was being said.

"Well," Lucian's voice announced, "what a pleasant surprise. Sam and Mirage. Now we're only waiting for one more arrival, and then the whole, happy family will be together."

Sydney moved to the further door, waving Jarod at the closer one. It was obvious that Lucian was already aware of their arrival, and his next words confirmed that.

"I'd put those guns down, if I were you," the madman warned. "Otherwise your attempted rescue will be in vain and Morgan's head will have a very large hole in it." Sounds suggested that they had obeyed, and Lucian's tone changed. "That's better," he purred. "Now we only have to wait for Jarod."

Sydney began to frantically weigh up his options. It was probable that, when Jarod appeared, the former head of the organization would kill them all. The Pretender was only waiting for a signal from Sydney to enter the room, unable to hear what was being said through the thick walls.

"If he doesn't come soon," Lucian growled suddenly, "I'll take care of her anyway."

That tipped the scales, knowing that there would be a better chance of them all surviving if they obeyed Lucian's commands as much as possible, and Sydney nodded, opening his door slightly at the same moment as the younger man opened his, to cover the sound.

The room was brightly lit, and it took Sydney's eyes a second to adjust, seeing that Jarod had the same problem, which gave Lucian the advantage.

"So nice to see you," he greeted the Pretender. "Now put the gun down."

Jarod had no choice but to obey, and Sydney saw that the other four had also placed their guns on the floor.

"If anyone else is listening to this, at the Centre or somewhere else," Lucian announced, "I'd just like to say to Broots or MacKenzie that what happens in this room will be very similar to the way I'll treat you all, to get back what rightfully belongs to me."

Sydney could now see again, and peeped around the door to find that Lucian had his arm around Morgan's neck, his gun held to her temple. From the limp way she was standing, Sydney guessed that she had already had to fight Lucian off before their arrival, and that the effort had exhausted her. Trevor, Sam, Namir, Ethan and Jarod stood in front of the other doors in the room, and Sydney's door was behind Lucian. The psychiatrist hoped his earlier comments meant that Lucian had no idea he was there.

Lucian's head had turned slightly from one man to another, and now his gaze rested on the Israeli healer in front of him, moving the muzzle of the gun from Morgan's temple to aim it at the man.

"Physician," he sneered, "heal thyself."

The crack of the gun echoed around the room, but Namir managed to move quickly enough that he avoided the bullet.

"That says wonderful things for the way Israel trains its troops," Lucian remarked. "I wonder if they would be willing to work for him, after I offer them a little Aurora and Supernova, of course." He laughed. "There's nowhere for you to go now," he mocked. "Not like your escape last time, when you were trying to treat that wreck of a human being, who used to believe that he actually ran my organization."

Sydney saw that Sam had begun sidling towards his boss and only just managed to stop himself from calling out a warning, but Lucian had already noticed and swung around, pulling the trigger. Sam was thrown to the ground with the force of the blast, clutching at his shoulder. Jarod had begun to move in the sweeper's direction, but Lucian once more aimed the gun at Morgan's head.

"Take one more step and I'll kill the woman you love," he snarled. "And then Sam, too."

"He has a wife and a daughter," Jarod reminded the sociopath, from between clenched teeth, his face white with fury, as he halted.

"Tell me why I should care," Lucian demanded, before his tone became mocking once more. "You could've been such a success, Jarod, if you hadn't become such a damned do-gooder. You could have become as successful as Lyle, or Delius, who might have been a miserable piece of crap, but at least got somewhere in life. But you? You're just pathetic! Trying to help the little guy, right the wrongs, make the world a better place." From the motion of his head, Sydney guessed that Lucian had rolled his eyes. "You make me sick!"

Sydney could see that Sam's face was losing color as a pool of blood began to spread out behind him and the psychiatrist realized that the only way to save them all was to kill Lucian, and he was the only one who could do it.

He was suddenly reminded of the day he had been in a similar situation, when he knew that the only way to stop Raines from killing Jarod was to shoot him, but he hadn't been able to bring himself to shoot the man, aiming instead for his legs, hoping that it would give Jarod the chance to escape, but accidentally hitting the oxygen tank.

This time, however, he knew that he didn't have the luxury of missing. If that happened, they would all be dead. His fingers tightened around the gun, forcing his hand to stop trembling.

"And now it's time to die." Lucian looked around. "Let's see. Who first?"

His eyes slid from face to face, tightening his hold around Morgan's neck, and Sydney could hear a choking sound as her fingernails scratched uselessly at Lucian's arms, leaving red trails.

"Of course," Lucian declared, "the oldest first."

The madman aimed his gun at Jarod's chest.

"This won't hurt as much as when Lyle did it," he smirked. "I promise."

Sydney's arm steadied, his grasp firm around the metal in his hand, as he looked along the length of the gun to the back of Lucian's head, aware that this would be his only chance. Then his finger tightened around the trigger in a smooth motion.

Time seemed to slow as the bullet left the chamber with only a whisper, and his eyes followed its arc into the back of Lucian's head, seeing the madman thrown forward, his left arm still around Morgan's neck. The gun in the madman's hand fired as he fell, the bullet burying itself in the ground at the Pretender's feet.

Ethan dashed over to help his sister to her feet as Jarod and Namir rushed to Sam's side. Sydney stepped into the room and Morgan almost collapsed into his arms, her eyes glistening with tears as she buried her head in his shoulder, but only he heard her sobs and felt her shoulders heaving as she wept in relief. Trevor picked up his gun and released the safety, holding it at the ready and approaching Lucian's body, checking for a pulse.

Sounds of squealing brakes and stomping footsteps outside drew the group's attention as the doors were flung open to reveal groups of sweepers, their guns at the ready.

"You're too late," Sydney told them calmly. "It's over."

He pointed the body out to those who had not already seen it, and then the seven people left the sweepers to call in cleaners to take care of it, moving out through the dark hallway into the bright sunshine. The street was full of black sedans, and many of the neighbors had come out to see what was going on, but they were ignored as the group made their way to the limousine. Namir and Jarod assisted Sam into the rear seat of the limousine and the healer spent several more minutes working on him before stepping back.

"I have done what I can," he told Jarod. "His body must heal itself, also. But it will do so without any long-term problems, I believe, as the bullet passed through cleanly."

"Good." The Pretender led him to where Morgan leaned wearily against the trunk. Namir began to heal the wound on her forehead that had been caused by whatever Lucian had used to knock her out as Jarod pulled out his cell phone.

"We've got her," he announced, as the head of SIS answered on the first ring. "She's fine. And Lucian's dead."

There was a huge sigh of relief on the other end. "Thank God," Broots muttered.

"We're going to Sanctuary," Jarod told him. "Sydney, too." He raised an eyebrow at the sweeper, who shook his head. "But Sam will come back to Blue Cove with the jet, and he's going to need some first aid," Jarod finished. "So have a medical team standing by."

"Thanks, Jarod," Lazslo replied warmly. "I really appreciate that."

"Sydney did all the work," Jarod told him. "You should be thanking him."

He handed the phone to the psychiatrist and got into the car, slipping his arm around Morgan's shoulders as she got in beside him, Sam and Ethan opposite, color slowly coming back into the sweeper's face. Morgan leaned her head against his shoulder with a sigh of relief, and he gently stroked her hair. A moment later, Sydney got into the car, which headed back to the airport. Jarod arched an eyebrow at Namir, who was looking over his shoulder into the back seat of the vehicle.

"Just out of interest," he asked, "how do you feel?"

The Israeli gave him a beaming smile and ran a hand through his rapidly regrowing, dark hair. "Wonderful," he announced happily. "Just wonderful."

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

"Mine!" Gabriel wailed tearfully, running across the lobby, holding out his arms, and she caught him up in a warm hug, holding her against him, her view briefly misty from the tears in her eyes.

Jarod followed in time to see Ethan gather an equally upset Uriel in his arms, holding him close. Elizabeth, her strained expression instantly replaced by one of relief, ran into Trevor's arms.

"It's all right, baby," Morgan murmured in Gabriel's ear. "It's okay. I'm right here."

He sobbed against her throat, his arms clutching her around the neck, his grip surprisingly strong. Gradually, as the moments passed, the group in the lobby thinned; Trevor going with his wife to report to Sebastian that Lucian was finally dead, Namir going to hunt out Ramona, and Ethan going reassuring the other Seraphim that everything was fine. Finally, it was only Jarod, Sydney, Morgan and Gabriel, and the baby began to calm down.

His eyes were red and swollen when he lifted his head, reaching out for his father, who stepped over and wrapped his arms around them both, indicating with his eyes that Sydney should join them. As soon as the psychiatrist was close enough, Gabriel lifted his head to plant a kiss on the man's cheek.

"Gran'pa finded Mine," he announced proudly, releasing his hold on his mother just long enough to give the older man an enthusiastic hug, before clutching the woman around the neck again.

"Let's go up to the playroom," Jarod suggested quietly, guiding the group over to the elevators.

Gabriel had even stopped hiccupping by the time the doors slid open on the twelfth floor to reveal the brightly painted hallway. However, he refused to let his mother go, and Morgan finally carried him over to the sofa, sitting down on it, Sydney beside her, his arm around her shoulders. Heavy-eyed with tension and exhaustion, she leaned her head against him.

Jarod glanced around at the other Seraphim, preparatory to joining them, but his breath caught in his throat as he saw Michaela sitting at a table in the far corner, coloring in a book, opposite Yuri.

Looking around, he saw Sebastian leaning against the wall nearby, and the intentness of his gaze made the Australian move to his side.

"What's up, mate?"

Speechless, Jarod waved a hand at the man and his daughter, seeing Sebastian grin.

"We lost her again this morning, just after you left," the man confessed. "Seems like I wasn't good enough in the comfort department, and she wanted Yuri." His eyes rested fondly on the girl. "She trusts him, and that says buckets to me. In fact, all the kids do, even Angelique, and God knows what emotions she picked up from him. He's going to be supervised with them, of course, at least for the time being, but he seems to realize he's got a responsibility to his daughter, and I think that'll straighten him out more than spending the rest of his life in a cell at the Centre."

"Are you sure?" Jarod demanded, and his friend nodded.

"Who knows?" Sebastian suggested thoughtfully, smiling. "One day, we might even tell her the truth about who he is, and he can have the privilege of hearing her call him 'daddy.'"

End of Movie
Promises Kept

 
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