Puppy Love

 

home / season five / episode thirteen / act III

   

Jarod's rental property
Portland, Oregon

Walking into the room, Jarod dropped the folder down onto the table and Nia looked up from her breakfast.

“Good morning.”

“What time did you leave?”

Jarod smiled. “Early. I was going to wake you but I couldn’t bring myself to do it - you looked so peaceful.”

”I suppose I should be grateful.”

Jarod shrugged. “It’s up to you.”

Nia looked at him closely and stopped her bantering. “What is it?”

“They’re dropping the case.”

“What?!” She sat up and stared at him. “How can they do that?”

”They said there wasn’t sufficient grounds for laying charges and that there was insufficient proof to show that the animals had been mistreated.”

Nia sat, speechless, for a few seconds as Jarod dropped down beside her onto the sofa with a deep sigh. She put a hand on his knee. “What are you going to do?”

He smiled faintly. “How do you know I’m going to do anything?”

“I’ve seen that look on your face before, when we got up to hike for more than nine hours across impossible bush land…”

“Okay, okay. You’re right.” He ran his fingers through hair that was now a great deal longer than is had been after the explosion. “I am going to do something.”

He stood up and began to pace the room, angrily glaring out of the window but his voice, when he spoke, was a quiet whisper. “If I knew who was responsible for this, I’d make sure that they knew how much pain those animals went through! I’d…”

“Jarod!”

He looked up, coming out of his reverie to see Nia staring at him with a worried look on her face. Shaking his head, he forced a smile.

“I’m sorry. I was thinking out loud.”

“So it would seem.” She stood up and walked over to him, slipping one arm around his waist and feeling his come around her shoulder. “You want justice done and so do I. There has to be a reason that the case was dropped. What do you have there?”

She nodded over at the file he had dropped in front of her and he walked over and opened it.

“Photos. The ones I took while we were waiting for the back up to arrive and help us clear the yard. I managed to get them from one of the officers, along with the report that had been started and then abandoned when word came from above that it wasn’t going anywhere.” Jarod slammed his fist down on the table, making the empty dishes jump and causing the glass from which Nia had been drinking juice to roll off the edge of the table. It would have smashed onto the floor had she not leapt forward and grabbed it, replacing it on the wooden surface before putting a hand on top of Jarod's.

“We will do this, but we won’t do it as well if we allow our emotions to control our actions.”

Jarod smiled faintly. “You sound like someone I used to know.”

“Who?”

“A friend.”

Nia pushed the table to one side and sat with her head leaning against his knee, gently easing off his shoes and massaging his feet as she spoke.

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

Jarod sat for a few moments; fighting the urge to reveal everything from those terrible few days before he was once more back on the road he had chosen after his escape from the Centre.

“I can’t tell you everything.”

“Even something will be better than nothing.”

He gently placed one hand on her head and stroked her hair, remembering when she had done the same thing to him.

“I can’t tell you now.”

“Later, then?”

”Perhaps.”

* * * * * * * * *

Renewal Wing, The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

The door slowly creaked open and Willie’s face peered inside, checking the corners of the room to make sure that his boss was alone. Then he walked in and drew up a chair, facing the wheelchair where Raines sat, ever motionless.

“Mr. Raines, sir, I have something to report. Miss Parker and Mr. Broots have found something about the Eclipse and are investigating it. It appears that Mr Broots located the DSA and the files and showed it to Miss Parker and the two of them are attempting to learn more.”

Willie broke off and looked more closely as his boss. “Yes, sir, I understand that I have to stop them but, for the moment, it’s very difficult. You see, I don’t have a lot of power.” He paused before continuing. “Very well, if need be I will advise Mr. Parker of the fact and leave it with him.”

Willie stood up and returned the seat to its original position, before walking to the door. Before leaving, he looked back. “We’re looking forward to having you back, sir. Whenever that may be.”

* * * * * * * * *

ASPCA offices
Portland, Oregon

“Did we lose many last night?”

Dr. Ronaldson looked up to see Jarod standing in the doorway. “Three dogs, one cat and all four ducks.”

”All four?”

The doctor nodded. “They were infected with a virus they probably caught from the stagnant water in which we found them. It’s a new strain of malaria that affects only birds.”

“Lucky we didn’t lose the lot then.”

”Very.” The doctor signed her name on the bottom of a sheet and pushed it aside before looking up at Jarod. “I suppose you heard that they won’t be pressing charges.”

“Yup.”

She shook her head. “I can not imagine what could have caused that decision. I mean, it was all there.”

Jarod looked at her. “I don’t know either, but I intend to find out.” He turned on his heel and walked out of her office and to the rooms where the animals were being housed during their recovery. After a few moments of staring blankly at the dog in the cage before him, Jarod returned to his office.

“You have mail.”

The mechanical voice distracted Jarod from his thoughts and he looked up at the screen to see an automated message from the Traffic Records office in New York. Jarod pushed back his chair with a start and glanced out over the busy traffic in the street outside. He was suddenly confronted with an issue that he had been avoiding for some weeks - the pursuit. And it seemed so sudden. The memory of the game he had set fled his mind as soon as he found the box, but now it was forcing itself to his attention and was rapidly becoming a very major issue. He had timed the stages it would take for the Centre jet to get to each of the addresses that the tickets provided as well as the hours that the offices were open and he knew that, from now, he had only a few days and two options. He could leave - run away from Portland and all of this. And Nia. She forced herself back into his thoughts and he found himself on his feet and staring blindly at the map of Oregon that covered his wall. His other option was to stay in Portland. He could find the person or people who were responsible for the horrifying treatment of the animals and run the risk of being caught by - who? He didn’t know if it was Miss Parker who was actually doing the pursuing. Well, only one way to find out.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“This is Sydney.”

“Still at the Centre?”

“Jarod!” Sydney sat up straighter in his seat and smiled. “I haven’t heard from you in a long time. And of course I’m still at the Centre. Where else would I be?”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

Sydney’s brow furrowed momentarily. “Are you alright, Jarod? I mean, you sound almost relieved to know that I’m here.”

Jarod laughed, a sound that Sydney could tell was forced. “Just thought you might have been off chasing new clues.”

“I know that Lyle hasn’t been at the Centre today, if that’s any help. Why do you ask?”

“Have to keep track of you, too, you know. If I let you get too close, well…”

There was a pause, while Sydney thought about Jarod's comment but before he could speak, Jarod filled the gap.

“What’s worse, Sydney? Mistreatment of people or of animals?”

For a few moments, Sydney considered the question, knowing from his tone of voice that the answer would be of importance to his protégé.

“It’s difficult to say which is worse, Jarod. The treatment of animals is terrible because the animal usually has no idea of why he is being mishandled. But the neglect or violence against a person is a terrible thing because often the person doing the mistreating can go too far and become excessive.”

Jarod give a dry, harsh laugh that grated on Sydney's nerves. “Ironic, isn’t it?”

Sydney heard the dial tone in his ear and hung up the phone before he registered consciously that Jarod had ended the call in his usual abrupt way. Looking down at his desk, he shook his head and tried once more to concentrate on his work.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod's rental property
Portland, Oregon

“This is it.”

Nia rubbed her hair with the towel and looked over at Jarod, astonished to see the change in expression that had occurred in the twenty minutes she had been in the shower. “Are you going to tell me what it is, or do I have to guess?”

“I found our culprits.”

“More than one?”

“Two. Brothers. Quite revealing, this information is, too.”

Nia shook the last of the water from her hair and wrapped a towel around it like a turban while Jarod watched.

“I wore one of those once.” He forgot about the information in front of him in the interest of the new topic. “I rode a camel, too.”

“And you were a Sherpa on Mount Everest, a test pilot, a thoracic surgeon, a lieutenant on a naval destroyer. You told me.”

Jarod looked sideways at her, a small amount of frustration creeping into his voice. “You still don’t believe me.”

Laughing, she shook her head. “Are you going to show me what you found?”

“Oh, yeah.” Leaning over, Jarod plucked a sheet of paper from the folder. “Voila, we have our culprits.”

Nia took the sheet and read the names that Jarod had highlighted. “Steven and Peter Dockerty. Are you sure they’re the real culprits? Sure, they own the house, but…”

Jarod leaned forward and laughingly placed a finger on her lips. “I’m sure. I’ll show you.” He picked up a video tape from the pile in front of him and slipped it into the machine, allowing it to start up automatically while he pulled Nia down to sit on his lap.

“Where on earth did you get this from?”

”The apartment block behind the yard. They have a surveillance camera trained on the alley behind the building and it catches everything that happens in the other property - including the cock fights.”

She twisted around and stared at him. “So what are you going to do?”

Slipping her off his knee, he got up and began to pace the room energetically, his hands behind his back. “I don’t know yet. But something.” And quickly, he added to himself. The call to Sydney had shown Jarod that his time was running out and, during the night, he had stayed awake watching Nia sleep and trying to imagine running out on the animals for whom he had sworn vengeance. And then there was Nia. Hard as it had been to leave last time, this time it would be even tougher. But, the longer he stayed, the further away that separation would be.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney pushed open the door to his laboratory, in which several sets of twins were struggling with tasks he had set them, to find Miss Parker sitting in a chair in front of his DSA player.

“Can I help you, Parker?”

“I hope so.”

Sydney gave her a second glance. Although he would never had admitted it to her, that tone of voice was the same as her mother used whenever she had wanted something from anybody.

Miss Parker turned back to the desk and started up the DSA player. A noise from the corner made her turn to see the figure she had thought and hoped was not present. Angelo leapt up and ran frantically towards the door, veering past the arm that a sweeper put out to stop him and disappearing into the corridor, chased by the two sweepers that were in the room. His voice came faintly back into the room.

”No Eclipse. No more Eclipse. Never, ever.”

Turning back to Sydney, Miss Parker was about to speak when she noticed that he was staring at the machine. ”What do you -?” She began when, stepping forward, Sydney slammed both fists down on the machine, causing sparks to fly out of it and the twins to whimper and retreat further back into the corner of the room. He turned to her, grabbing her shoulders and forcing her up and out of the chair.

“What do you know about this project? How did you find out about it?”

“What is Eclipse?”

Sydney released her so suddenly that she almost fell backwards and had to grasp the back of the chair for support. Her arms throbbed where he had held onto her and she was reeling at his sudden and violent reaction. Becoming more determined, she asked the question again. “Sydney, what is this Project Eclipse and why did Angelo behave like that?”

Pacing the space between his desk and wall in a movement that reminded Miss Parker of a caged animal, Sydney continued to look at the floor and his voice, a low growl, seemed synonymous with his actions.

“This is not something you want to know about. Trust me, Parker.”

“Sydney, this project is obviously something big. Why won’t you tell me?”

”It…was a failure. It was a Tower-supported project that Raines was primarily in charge of and it didn’t succeed. That’s all you need to know.”

“But, Sydney, why was Damon…? And Angelo?”

Sydney turned and glared at her. “I told you, Parker, that’s all you need to know.”

Before she could reply, he disappeared out the door and she could hear his footsteps almost running down the hallway. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed that the twins were still staring at her from the corner and Miss Parker turned back to the ruined machine. As she did so, Broots peered around the doorway.

“Miss Parker, I just saw Sydney running…”

“I know. The important thing, though, is the contents of that folder. Did it tell you anything?”

Broots shook his head. “It’s in code. Many different types. Without knowing what they were, it would be impossible to work it out.”

“Have you got anything?”

”Only a few names. Damon, Angelo, Jarod and someone or something called Looking Glass. At least, that’s what I think it said.”

Miss Parker put one hand on his shoulder. “Broots, I really want to know what this is about. I can feel that it’s important. Please, keep trying. I’m going to see what else I can find?”

“But - how?”

“There’s only one person in this whole place who knows everything about everything.”

Broots looked blank for a few seconds before the truth hit. “You’re going to ask…?”

“My father.”

* * * * * * * * *

ASPCA offices
Portland, Oregon

“Jarod, what are you doing?!”

Looking up from the gun barrel that he was cleaning, Jarod encountered Nia’s startled eyes and put the clean pipe back on the desk in front of him. “Just… getting things ready.”

“What for?”

“I think it’s time the Dockertys knew what it was like to have to face some of the things that they forced their animals to suffer.”

Nia ran her eyes over the cruel implements on the desk. “Are you insane? Those are fighting spurs! They can cause terrible injuries.”

“I know.” Jarod smirked slightly. “A nice, easy way to get a fast confession.” His eyes traveled to the clock that he had set up on his computer, showing the minutes ticking away until Lyle and his group could reasonably be expected to arrive in Portland. The time was too short for comfort and Jarod knew that this time he would be running it very fine. Impatiently he looked up at Nia. “You saw what I did last time. It’s fear that all this is based on, not injury. Those men aren’t going to risk hurting themselves or each other. They’ll just tell me what I need to know.” He picked up a spur and ran a finger lightly over the edge, feeling the blade cut into the callous that his recent work had caused on his thumb.

“Jarod, I can’t believe that you could do that - it’s inhuman!” Nia’s voice rose to a higher pitch and she turned away. “I hope you weren’t relying on me because I couldn’t possibly help with this. It makes you no better than they are.”

Jarod watched her walk away, his mouth dropping open. He had been counting on her assistance to make this sting work. As he slipped the photos and papers into a large envelope, he began to think seriously about what he was doing. It hadn’t occurred to him that this could lower himself to the level of the people he was trying to trap. There was a fine line, he knew. This time, had he crossed it?

On to Act IV

 
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