A Shot in the Dark

 

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Die Fakultat
Berlin, Germany

Julia looked at the cup that was put in front of her and then at the man who still sat opposite her, a small smile on her face. "If we do this very often, I could find myself broke at the end of the week."

"You get paid?"

"I receive a small salary, yes. It's more of a gesture than a proper pay packet."

"Herr Delius trying to convince himself that he's using a paid employee for his work rather than a science project?"

The woman shrugged. "You don't expect me to answer that, do you, Mr. Tanaka? He is my boss."

"Very true, and your loyalty is admirable," the man simpered. "But I would be very happy for us to do this more often."

"As you said, Mr. Tanaka, I'm a science project. Considering the level of your other 'conquests,' I can't really imagine why you would lower yourself to this." She raised both her hands in a gesture of demonstration. "Miss Parker, for instance, would have to be considered very preferable…"

"I would rather," the Japanese man stated coldly, "hear you continue telling me of the project than discuss that."

Having successfully and intentionally drawn his attention away from herself, Julia hid a smile and sipped her drink before continuing.

The brakes on the bed were released and it was wheeled out of the room, turning right when it was through the doorway on the way to the elevator and down to the room that the child usually lived in. Edna scribbled her signature on the bottom of the form and then handed it to the waiting man, who looked it over and then turned to glance around the room.

"One down, nine to go."

"I think Dannie's probably close to being able to be taken back to his room, considering how well he's been responding to treatment."

"What about Jarod?" Mr. Parker glanced over at the boy before looking back at Edna, who shook her head slowly.

"I'm concerned that he doesn't seem to be responding well. It might be worth running a few more tests to see if there's anything else we could give him. We know about his allergy to the vaccine component but there may be something of potentially more effect than what he's receiving now." She glanced over as Jarod began muttering in his sleep, tossing on the bed.

"You're the doctor," the man stated evenly. "You may order any tests you believe necessary." He glanced around the room. "And the others?"

"It seems a somewhat strange request, Mr. Parker, but I'd like to order hearing tests for two of the children."

"Oh, really?" He shot a sharp look in her direction. "Which two?"

"The twins." She led the way over to the beds. "Since their fevers began to go down, I've become suspicious that something happened their hearing."

"Very well." The man looked as the paper he held. "I'd appreciate copies of the results myself."

"Of course, Mr. Parker." She watched him walk to the door and then he halted, turning to her once more.

"I forgot to tell you before, Edna, but we organized for my secretary to stay with Annie during the hours that she's been at home. She's been fine."

The doctor smiled. "Thank you, sir. I really appreciate that."

"You're doing fine work, Edna." The man nodded to the beds. "Just keep it up."

* * * * * * * * *

Lake Catherine, Maine

The veranda was dark, stars shining brightly in the night sky and clearly visible to the two people who sat on the steps. She leaned back against him, feeling his arms around her, her head resting against his chest. Apart from the occasional hoot of an owl, the world was silent.

"Are you sure this is such a good idea?"

His voice was soft and questioning, but rasped slightly, revealing the emotional strain that he had been under and was still burdened by. In response, she pressed herself slightly against him.

"Yes."

The word was only a whisper and almost seemed to be carried away on the slight breeze, but he heard it, lowering his head to press his lips to her hair.

"But when you go…"

Turning, she looked up into his face, her eyes piercing, despite the darkness. He smiled slightly, reading the expression in her eyes as he reached out to gently stroke her cheek. She closed the distance between them and he took her in his arms, leaning against the veranda railing, his back pressed against the white timber, gazing into her eyes.

The birds calling outside the window woke Morgan with a start, and it was with a sense of shock that she stared into the blue sky. She had had that dream before, but never in such clarity as this time. Getting out of bed, she gathered her clothes and walked over to the window. Clutching the bundle to her, she gazed out over the setting in front of her, eyes fixed on the man sitting on the white timber veranda at the front of his home. Ben Miller was staring up at the sky, and she could see the sadness in his eyes.

Morgan Parker's gaze traveled to the chest in which she had first found the information about the children her mother had rescued from the Centre. All over the room, signs of her mother lingered, pictures or objects that had been special to Catherine, and also to the man who had loved her. But there was nothing more here for her daughter, except perhaps a chance to escape the pressures of her normal life. And the sadness that her presence caused to the man who lived here far outweighed that escape. That alone was more than enough reason for her current decision. She wouldn't come back to Lake Catherine. Not until she had the answers to her questions and could return with a clear mind and a clear conscience. And maybe not even then.

* * * * * * * * *

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

"So you last saw Alastair when?"

"The morning I was taken out of the room. As each kid got better, they were taken back to either their own rooms or else others nearby. I went to a room next to the Sim Lab."

"In 1975?"

Jarod shot Jordan a sideways look of mixed amusement and annoyance. "Just how long did you think it took me to get better?"

The boy shrugged. "I had no idea. You might have tried for something really spectacular, such as a heart problem, for instance."

"That would've made running kind of interesting over the past five years, wouldn't it?" the man laughed. "No, I was taken to my room. Alastair and the other four were left behind. According to the official reports," his tone became angry, "all five of them died of septicemia within three days. But another report I found said they were sent to Die Fakultät when Edna thought they were well enough to travel. The escorts all disappeared as soon as they arrived, and Edna was put into an insane asylum by her husband within a few months, though I'm not sure if there was a connection to the meningitis or her daughter being abducted a few months later." Jarod's hands balled into fists. "In fact, everything possible was done to make sure that nobody ever knew they were still alive."

Jordan looked up. "But you said Mr. Parker had been there a few times. How come he didn't know they didn't die?"

"He was the main person they were trying to hide it from," the older man responded immediately. "You have to remember that all the reports in both Blue Cove and the Pretoriat say that they're all dead. Only Berlin's records indicate that they're still alive. They were difficult to find, and I don't know why anyone from the Centre would go looking."

"So you never saw or heard from any of them again until this morning?"

"Exactly."

"And did you think about them?"

"Occasionally. Work for the first few weeks after that was fairly light, at least compared to the amount I'd been doing before that, so I had time to wonder what had happened to them. As time went on and the workload increased, I thought about them less and less. Recently, I've hardly thought about them at all, as I'm sure Alastair won't fail to remind me." Jarod laughed. "But we had a lot of fun for the few days until I got moved away."

"Jarod!"

The voice was a whisper and the boy opened his eyes, rolling over to look at the boy in the other bed, his own tones lowered to an equally cautious murmur.

"What's up?"

"Can you walk yet?"

"Yes, why?"

"Good. We're being inspected by the members of the Tower in the morning."

Jarod looked at Alastair as if the boy had lost his mind. "Dumb question but 'so?'"

"'So,'" he put emphasis on the word, "let's make life difficult for them."

"In what way?"

"Well, it'd be nasty if the charts were all mixed up, wouldn't it?"

Silently pulling himself up in bed, Jarod had to choke down laughter at the thought of the look on Mr. Parker's face when he found himself displaying incorrect charts to the people he was trying to impress. With a quick glance over his shoulder at Edna, he slipped out of bed and softly padded across the floor, mixing up the charts from the ends of the eight beds that were occupied. Jarod got confused looks from the twins and, in rapid gestures, tried to explain what was going on. They both grinned at him and gave thumbs-up signs, which confused him, but he imagined that it must be something positive. Slipping back into bed, he grinned at Alastair and received a similar look in return, before Jarod rolled over and tried to sleep. Muffled giggles from the bed beside him suggested that he wasn't the only person imagining the possible consequences on the following day.

* * * * * * * * *

"And this is the condition of young Clare."

Mr. Parker handed the chart over to the first of the men, who glanced at it before sending a look of astonishment in the direction of the man.

"Are you sure, Mr. Parker? This appears to be Alastair's chart."

The man impatiently took it back and glared at the information, forced, albeit grudgingly, to admit his error.

"You might be right."

Stepping over to the bed where the boy was lying with his eyes closed, Mr. Parker put out a hand and was about to pick up the chart from the end of the bed when the doctor stopped him, taking the top folder from a pile in her hands and giving it to him.

"It seems," Edna told him calmly, "that there might have been some confusion during the time that the rooms were being cleaned this morning."

"Thank you, Dr. Raines."

The man tried to suppress his anger, borne of embarrassment, and continued to discuss the condition of the eight children.

* * * * * * * * *

Nearly half an hour later, when the group had gone, Edna went over to the beds where both boys lay with their eyes closed and stood between them, her arms folded and one foot firmly tapping the linoleum floor until the two finally opened their eyes and looked at her.

"Were you wanting me to get into trouble?"

"Oh, no," Jarod assured her quickly. "It just seemed like a good idea at the time."

"And we did get the response we hoped for," Alastair reminded him. "If it had gone on for much longer, Mr. Parker's blood pressure probably would've been off the chart. And his face!"

"Just like a tomato," Jarod agreed, as both boys dissolved into giggles that left them breathless.

"I'm starting to think that the two of you are well enough to be moved back into your own rooms," the doctor interrupted, trying to suppress her own amusement. Despite maintaining a professional demeanor, she had appreciated the joke.

"Please, Edna," Jarod grabbed her hand as she began to walk over to the phone mounted on the wall. "We might never see each other again after we leave here. Couldn't you give us a few more days? Please?"

She stood by the bed for a moment, seeing an expression of a lonely child in his eyes, before she nodded slowly. "All right. I think you'll find that little excursion of yours last night is going to leave you pretty wrung out tonight, so I'd say that will do as punishment."

Jarod stared up at her from his position against the pillow, his eyes wide in sheer astonishment at this revelation. "Were you watching?"

"I'm a mother, Jarod," Edna retorted with a smile. "I have an extra sense where children are concerned."

"You are?" His expression changed to one of longing. "Is it nice, being a mom?"

"It's very nice." She sat down on the bed beside him. "It's one of the nicest things in my life."

"What would you do if your child ever disappeared?"

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean, Jarod."

"Well, would you keep looking for them, even after more than ten years?"

"Yes, Jarod, I would. I'd keep looking until I found her."

"Do you think other moms feel like that, too?"

"I think any other mother would feel that way." She reached out a hand and started to stroke his hair. "They'd always keep looking."

It was with a mixture of astonishment and concern that she saw him roll over and bury his face in his pillow, starting to sob softly. Standing, Edna pulled across the curtain that separated Jarod's bed from Alastair's and then sat down beside him again, gently stroking the hair on the back of his head, her voice soft.

"What is it, honey? What's wrong?"

"I… I want my mom." He looked up at her, tears streaming down his face. "But I'm never going to be able to see her ever again."

"How come, Jarod?"

"She's dead, and my dad too." Jarod rolled over, once more muffling his sobs in his pillow. "They were coming to see me and they died."

* * * * * * * * *

Green Acres Psychiatric Institute
Hartford, Connecticut

Sydney examined the face of the young man sitting opposite him as the footage finished and the psychiatrist closed down the machine.

"So…it was true?"

"Yes, Dannie." The man paused. "Although I don't think there's any way for us to know for sure if that was the cause of the Einnad persona emerging, it has to be considered a possibility. For the next seven years, he must have continued to develop to the stage he was when you were taken to the warehouse in 1982."

Tears glittered in the younger man's eyes. "I never meant to hurt her."

"You didn't," Sydney assured him soothingly. "We've been through this. You are not to blame for what he did when he was in control."

After a moment of silence, the younger man looked up. "How much did you know?"

"When I came back from Europe, I was shown a DSA of the project and also notes that Raines made about it. In addition, I was shown a recording of the final results."

"People dying?"

"That wasn't what I meant, but yes, they did."

"How many?"

"All but those in the room overseen by Edna."

"What happened to her? Is she still at the Centre?"

"No, Dannie." Sydney shook his head sadly. "Later that year, everybody at the Centre was told that, from the distress caused by the disappearance of her daughter, Edna killed herself. In reality, her husband seems to have put her into an insane asylum and left her there for 25 years."

"Her husband?"

"Mr. Raines."

The younger man looked at Sydney in astonishment. "They were…married?"

"Yes."

"Why didn't she ever say?"

"Mr. Parker instructed her not to, in case it upset any of you."

* * * * * * * * *

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

"So where is he?"

"If I know Alastair," Jarod replied with a laugh, "he's probably hiding somewhere to be deliberately obnoxious."

With an emphasis on the last word, raising his voice to make sure it would be heard, Jarod looked around narrowly.

"You know," he stated, trying not to laugh, "considering there's no breeze today, doesn't it seem a little strange to you that the bushes over there are moving, son?"

The boy looked over and then, grinning, nodded. "Now that you mention it, that is a bit weird. Still, you did promise I could be eaten by a bear, so maybe it's just one trying to be obliging."

"A bear?" Jarod tried to sound scared and pulled out the gun he was wearing in a holster around his waist, the click loud in the still early-morning air as he cocked it. "If it's a bear, I'll have to kill it before it can kill us."

"Oh, let it have its fun," Jordan protested, his eyes twinkling with laughter. "Let it maul us a little first."

"Last time, it was a wolf and this time it's a bear. I'm beginning to believe I should never come to Yellowstone again." Jarod rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry, Jordan, but I'm not letting a bear maul us, even if you think it might be fun."

"For the bear," the boy put in. "I never said it would be fun for us."

"Well, I'm certainly not going to oblige bears." Jarod eyed the bushes again. "You know, if it is a bear then it's a very little one."

"Maybe it's just a baby." Jordan turned a pleading face to the older man. "Can I take it home with me? Please Dad? Oh, please! I've always wanted a pet. It can have my seat in the helicopter and I'll sit in the back!"

Jarod looked down with a grin. "What would your grandfather say?"

"It'd be good protection, as well as all the responsibility stuff. Can you imagine the Centre trying to abduct us if a great big bear was in the way?"

"Well, let's ask the bear what it wants to do." Securing the gun, Jarod returned it to his holster and took off the belt, handing it to the boy. "I'm sure, if it has plans, it'll obligingly tell us about them."

He slipped off his backpack and also gave that to Jordan before cautiously approaching the bush, seeing the laughing blue eyes fixed on him as he approached. With a yell, Jarod launched himself over the greenery, landing on top of the man who was crouched there, and the two rolled into the river.

"Hey, I had a bath this morning," the stranger protested as, dripping wet, he stood and shook the water out of his hair.

"I hadn't," Jarod responded, laughing. "I thought it was time I did."

"Some people never change."

"Well, you certainly haven't," the Pretender told him, pulling the man into a firm hug before turning to the boy. "Jordan, this is Alastair. Alastair, this is my son, Jordan."

"Well, you're definitely better looking than your old man was at that age," Alastair remarked, with a wink which suggested to Jordan that he knew about the relationship and was simply sparing his feelings. Shaking the boy's hand, Alastair ducked as Jarod swung a mock-punch in his direction. Straightening and peeling off his shirt, the man wrung it out with exaggerated gestures and a look of disgust on his face.

"If you hadn't wanted to go for a swim, all you had to do was get out of the way," Jarod laughed, removing his own shirt. "After all, you knew what I was going to do."

"What, and ruin your fun? Never!"

"Most of the time, you were responsible for my fun." Jarod raised an eyebrow. "After all, I wasn't the one who came up with the idea of switching the charts, knotting the curtains, drawing on the sheets…"

"And I still don't know where you got hold of the charcoal for that," the other man retorted.

"How can you not know?" Jordan lifted an eyebrow likewise and Alastair glanced from the boy to the man before breaking into loud laughter.

"I never bothered to think about it, Jordan," the psychic choked out breathlessly, between peals of laughter.

"If you're going into hysterics," Jarod warned him sternly, "you'll get another bath."

"You wouldn't!"

"Watch me." The Pretender took a step closer.

"Okay, okay." Alastair restrained himself. "I'm calm."

* * * * * * * * *

Die Fakultat
Berlin, Germany

"And that, Mr. Tanaka," Julia remarked to the man opposite her, "was the cause of the people you saw being deaf."

"It seems an unusual reaction."

"It was caused by an allergy to the vaccine they were given," Julia replied. "It was found later that Raines had failed to test the contents of the vaccines on any of the children in the project and so many of them had severe reactions, most dying as a result of either that or the meningitis itself."

"So Raines was called up before the Triumvirate -- "

"Not exactly, sir. At the time it was located here in Germany. The American branch was provided with the necessary powers…"

The eyes of the Director revealed his anger, glinting in the light that illuminated the board of men who faced the individual standing in the middle of the room. His tone, too, revealed the tension that had engulfed the entire Centre and its partners over the past few days. The atmosphere was electric, apart from an aura of smugness that emanated from the doctor, which added to the feelings of the American Triumvirate members.

"God only knows what you were thinking," the Director spat. "You've not only compromised the entire organization; you've delayed -- and in some cases resulted in the forced termination of -- some of our most important projects, thereby losing us millions in potential earnings."

Raines accepted the criticism without comment, rejoicing, at the same time, in the success of his project. It had been irritating that the Triumvirate had been informed before his results had been achieved, but he suspected that he knew who to blame for that, and she would suffer, as he was clearly going to have to. With a resigned expression, he waited to hear what punishment they had elected to impose on him.

The Director picked up a folder and looked through it, eyeing each of the names of those who had taken part and their current status -- dead or alive. Flipping the booklet shut, he pushed it aside and picked up another, which Raines could see was his own personnel file. Finally he looked up and met the accused man's gaze.

"Dr. Raines, considering the degree to which you have endangered the future of the Centre, the Triumvirate and everyone associated with it, you should consider yourself lucky that you are even permitted to continue working here."

The lips of the man at the other end of the table curled into a sneer, but he remained silent. The Director, after a moment, continued.

"After serious deliberation, we have decided not to remove you from the Centre altogether."

The man fixed a steely gaze on the doctor, to ensure that he understood the unspoken threat.

"Instead, we consider that the best method of ensuring our safety is for your name to be removed from the list of those who have sworn loyalty to the sacred oath of Hippocrates of Cos. If," the Director continued, ignoring the change that occurred on the face of the man in front of him "you can later prove yourself worthy of the chances we offer you, we won't strip the other projects from your direction. As it is, you are now required to present all future ideas to the Board for clearance before even beginning any of them. Is that understood?"

Swallowing his rage at this announcement, Raines forced himself to assume a devil-may-care expression. "For how long?"

The tones contained a hint of bravado that made the Director lift an eyebrow. "For as long as we consider necessary." The man leaned back. "Very well, you're free to go."

"You are all kindness." The former doctor made a small, mocking bow and rapidly left the room.

"How do you know so much about it?"

Julia raised an amused eyebrow, replying with a question of her own. "You mean apart from the fact that I'm psychic, sir?"

"You speak with too much warmth for just an ordinary outsider," Tommy admonished with a smile curling his lips. "Even for one with as much knowledge as you have, thanks to your gift."

"That time, sir," she remarked quietly, "was when I developed my 'gift.' I was one of the children in the room overseen by Edna Raines."

"What were you before then?"

"My blood contains the same genetic factor that made other children special, but I'd never shown much talent. After I recovered from the meningitis, I began to 'see' things. It made me useful."

"And why were you in America? Your voice doesn't contain an American accent."

"It's South African, Mr. Tanaka. I was 'created' at the facility in the Pretoriat and transferred to the Centre so that I could be included in the Prodigy program. When the then-Dr. Raines was looking for children, I was an ideal candidate. It would have been of no importance if I hadn't survived the tests. It was just by chance that I was put into the group of those that managed to live."

Tommy Tanaka leaned back in his chair. "If that project had never gone ahead…"

"The Centre would be a much more powerful place than it is now. Among those children who died were ones who had wonderful gifts." A smile curled her lips. "Had the Centre, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say Raines, not been in such a hurry, they might have found others of equal, or perhaps even greater, use to them, but they will never be able to control them now." Julia rose to her feet.

The Japanese man raised an eyebrow. "Where are you going?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but the Herr Direktor wants me."

Julia fell silent so that they were able to hear the translator being paged over the loudspeaker that was mounted high on the wall in the corner of the café. She looked at the man who had remained in his seat, a light of amusement in her eyes.

"You see, Mr. Tanaka, the experiment really did make me useful."

* * * * * * * * *

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

"It was a little cold for the bath," Alastair commented, glaring at Jarod across the fire. "What would Sydney say if you came down with pneumonia?"

"You're assuming I'd tell him," the Pretender responded with a grin after swallowing a mouthful of scalding coffee. "I may not want the lecture."

"You'd get one from your dad," Jordan put in. "Even if you didn't tell him, I would."

"Thanks, son." Jarod rolled his eyes. "It's great to get such good support."

"Anytime." The boy shrugged, yawning as he lay back against Jarod's legs. After a moment, he closed his eyes and relaxed.

"He's a good kid," Alastair stated softly.

"He's a great kid," the older man affirmed quietly.

"He's you."

"No." Jarod shook his head. "Not completely. Some parts are similar, but there's a lot of ways we differ."

Alastair nodded, visually scanning the sleeping face. "You have no idea how weird it is to see him like this."

"Oh, I do," the Pretender assured him, beginning to gently stroke the boy's hair. "I remember how weird it was seeing him the very first time."

After a moment of silence, Jarod looked over at his friend. "Were you planning to hang around for a while?"

"I wouldn't want to interrupt the bonding session for too long," the man laughed. "But I might stick around for today."

"Why now, Alastair?" Jarod looked at him curiously. "Why did you wait this long?"

"Would you have remembered who I was until this past week?"

"I hope so."

The younger man shrugged. "I doubt it."

* * * * * * * * *

Die Fakultat
Berlin, Germany

"Yes, sir?"

The man's facial expression was stern. "I pay you to work, Julia, not socialize in the café with my visitors."

"I'm sorry, Herr Direktor, but he offered and I thought it would be impolite if I were to refuse."

He raised an eyebrow. "So what were the two of you discussing?"

Julia's face was void of expression. "The reason you find me so valuable, sir."

Delius smirked, leaning back in his chair. "I hope you're not considering switching allegiances."

"I was under the impression, sir, that they were supposed to work with you, not against you."

"You tell me, Julia."

She nodded. "Very well, Herr Direktor. They will work with you until the situation is no longer of any benefit to them, and then they will work against you."

"As I thought." He bowed his head briefly in thought before looking up. "But that's not the reason I called you here."

"Sir?"

"Your son has refused to settle ever since he fell from the bars in the gymnasium. I want you to go down there and calm him so that he can continue working well in the morning."

The woman fought to suppress her concern. "At once, sir."

"Oh, and Julia?"

She turned back from the door. "Herr Direktor?"

"I considered your recommendation," he spoke the last word sneeringly. "I think you may be right. Peter will recommence simulations with Clare and Michael tomorrow."

The psychic had to fight hard to keep the relieved look from her face. "Thank you, Herr Direktor."

* * * * * * * * *

She ran down the last few stairs, stopping outside the child's room and unlocking the door before pulling it open.

"Mommy," the boy whispered as she sat down beside him on the bed.

"You know you can't call me that here, baby." Gently she picked Peter up, stroking his hair. "I told you that."

"I know." He nodded, nestling closer to her. "But one day will I be allowed to?"

"Maybe one day, my darling. Maybe once all of this is gone, you and I can go to a new place and start a new life."

"With Daddy?"

Julia thought of the healer in his room down the hall and smiled faintly. "I hope he'd come with us too, Peter."

"And will I meet Alastair one day?"

She looked down at him with a wider smile. "Have you been inside my head again?"

"Uh huh." He grinned at her slyly. "How come you were thinking about him?"

"He was thinking about me, Peter." She kissed him softly. "I have something nice to tell you now, baby. In the morning, you get to work with Clare and Michael again."

"Goody." He smiled before looking up at her, his expression suddenly sad. "When do I get to work with you?"

"My work's different, sweetie. You can't help me with that."

"I want to." He put both arms around her neck, his eyes heavy. "I want to see you more often."

"I'll try to come and see you whenever I can, honey," Julia murmured, blinking the tears out of her eyes. Feeling him nod drowsily against her shoulder, the psychic rocked the boy in her arms for a few moments before slowly rising to her feet.

Placing him down on the bed, she gently covered him with blankets, including the handmade quilt that Delius had, amid much mockery, allowed her to make for her son during her pregnancy, now almost five years earlier. Julia's face revealed her pain as she pulled up the brightly colored cover and spread it over him, bending down to kiss the face that she loved best in the world and quietly murmuring in his ear.

"Sweet dreams, mein' liebst'."

Going to the door, she looked back at the boy once before closing the door and, as with all of her other visits, feeling her heart sink as she heard the lock activate. Her room was only a few doors away, so she went there, sinking down on to the bed to stare blankly at the floor.

It was nearly five years to the day since Delius had informed her that she would be taking part in the project to create her son, to try to regain for Germany the chairmanship of the Triumvirate. Not that his reasons were of any importance to her. He enjoyed believing that she never actually understood his motives and never knew when he lied to her, knowing, at the same time, that her abilities meant she understood him totally.

And of course, Herr Delius knew what a hold he had over her, knew how much she stood to lose, if she ever left. That was the reason that she had refused to go when Alastair had offered to take her with him during his escape, because it would have meant leaving the most valuable parts of her life behind. Standing, she looked at herself in the small mirror on her wall, smoothing her hair and neatening her suit, before leaving the room to answer her boss's as-yet-unspoken summons.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

"Where the hell have the three of you been?"

Sydney hid a smile, looking up to see Lyle glaring at him from the doorway of his office, and the psychiatrist exchanged amused looks with the woman seated in the corner. "We had a weekend vacation."

"You'd better hope that news of that doesn't get back to my father -- "

"Actually, Lyle, it was the Chairman who gave us the time off." Sydney offered the other man his copy of the memo, watching as the man snatched it and read the few lines.

"My father's losing his mind," the man sneered.

"That's quite possible," Sydney replied with a small smile. "But maybe you could take the matter up with him, rather than disrupting this meeting?"

"Oh, but before you go," Miss Parker interrupted sweetly. "Were there any new leads while we were off, relaxing?"

Growling something inaudible in reply, the man left the room, and let the door close behind him, trying not to howl in pain as his remaining thumb was trapped between the door and the wall.

End of Episode
A Shot in the Dark

 
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