Special Treatement

 

home / season six / episode fourteen / act IV

   

Columbus, Ohio

The rising sun began illuminating the room, which, until now, had only been lit by a lamp standing on the table where the two Centre operatives had been working. The woman sat in a chair on the far side of the room, only just able to hear the words passing between the men. For a while, she had tried to read through the information they had found, but slowly her attention became focused on the psychoanalysis Sydney was performing.

Her eyes traveled over Jarod's figure. He was still slumped in the chair, his shoulders bowed and his eyes fixed, for the most part, on the floor. Occasionally, he glanced up at Sydney, but he had never acknowledged her presence beyond that first comment, and she was torn between wishing he would and hoping he didn't.

Sydney, meanwhile, was finally allowing himself to concede that the hours of analysis were slowly beginning to produce a result. Jarod's answers to his questions were becoming more reasonable, and the psychiatrist knew that he was starting to accept the reality of what had occurred and not the twisted world that the hours of solitude in the room next door had caused.

"You'll never know for sure if it was your actions which caused him to develop the peritonitis."

"I should never have done it at all."

"No, that's true. It was a mistake." Sydney spoke calmly.

"Except that this 'mistake' cost a man his life, for what? What good came out of it? What benefit?" Jarod's tones were bitter and he turned away, his fingers clenched around the edge of his chair.

"You were trying to save a child's life, Jarod, a child you became very close to during the time that you spent together, and whether you like to admit it or not, it's very easy for emotion to cloud your judgment, as it is for almost everyone."

"Other people's actions don't result in people dying."

"Neither did yours."

Jarod stared at the psychiatrist in utter disbelief. "Have you been listening to a word I've said?"

Sydney smiled understandingly. "Of course I have. And I mean it. You didn't put your hands around his throat and squeeze every bit of life out of him, did you? You didn't put a gun to his temple and pull the trigger. You didn't do one thing that directly caused this man's death. Your actions, I agree, might have contributed to it, but you'll never know that for sure. If you were to be charged with his murder, would the case stand up in court?"

"Just because nobody else could prove it doesn't mean that I won't believe it."

"If you hadn't done it, would Ryan still be alive?"

Jarod lowered his head, closing his eyes briefly to prevent the tears from starting to pour from his eyes again as his hands moved back to lie in his lap.

"I don't know," he mumbled.

"Yes, you do, Jarod." Sydney leaned forward. "You know, and I know, from what you've told me, that if you hadn't done anything, that child would have died. That was not a situation where you could have won. Yes, you could have worked part of it differently, and perhaps things would have been different, but the basic facts would have remained the same."

Sydney paused, but the other man remained silent, his eyes fixed on the small flecks of blood on his palms from where his nails had sunk into the skin.

"This was a no-win situation. Whether Ecksley gave his kidney willingly or not, Ryan's body would still have rejected it and the situation would have been as critical, or more so, than it was before you acted. Your actions bought Ryan the time he needed until the other organ became available."

"A man died…"

"And if he hadn't, then a boy would have." Sydney reached out a hand and covered Jarod's with it. "That's what I meant about no-win. You'll never be able to weigh up all of your options from the situation and say 'this person was more important' because life doesn't work like that. Instead, you have to step back from it, tell yourself that you did what you could and that the situation got out of your control. It'd be nice if you could go back and change what you did, but it isn't possible. You can only accept what you did at the time and use it as an incentive to ensure that you do the right thing next time."

His eyes still fixed on the floor, Jarod was forced to nod, albeit unwillingly. Sydney eyed the man for a moment before reaching over to the table and pulling a plate towards him. Miss Parker had left the room briefly to bring food up for dinner, although Jarod had refused to eat at the time, but the psychiatrist now forcibly placed a banana in the younger man's hand, watching him begin to automatically peel and eat it.

Suddenly, the phone on the table rang, making all three occupants of the room jump. Morgan leaned forward and activated the speaker.

"What?"

"Uh, Miss Parker, I…"

"Broots, what on earth are you calling on this for?" She glared down at the phone as if he could see her, and his tones contained a hint of resentment at her sharp tones.

"Well, you forgot your cell phone in my office when you and Sydney left."

"Did you find out any more about the hospital?"

"N… not exactly. Something else came up."

Her tones dripped with sarcasm. "Of less or a lot less importance than the things I asked you to find?"

"Actually, you'll probably think it is kind of important. I mean, I know we knew for sure he wasn't really dead, even though they tried to tell us he was, but we never heard about him again, so he may as well have been dead, and he has got a kind of connection to what you asked me to look for, so maybe I did find a bit of stuff after all, but I guess it wasn't really me because the file just appeared on my desk and I think Angelo put it there - "

Miss Parker slammed her fist down on the table, making the phone jump and the man on the other end instantly silent. "Broots, who is 'he?'"

"Mr. Fenigor," a voice stated from behind the woman, and she spun around to stare at Jarod.

"How did you know what he was talk…?"

"Is Jarod there, too?" The tech's voice was suddenly full of curiosity. "Does he know anything about a project called Genesis?"

"Genesis?" Jarod stood up from the chair and walked over to the table, the pain that had been in his eyes fading as his focus was directed away from the thoughts that had been circling in his mind. "Why are you asking?"

"Apparently it was something that Fenigor was involved with. What is it?"

"It's a new name for the Yellow Files," Sydney responded from his seat. "To disguise the activities of the project once Miss Parker learned they were called Seraphim, Mr. Parker arranged to have the name changed."

Sydney ignored the look of astonished resentment that Miss Parker shot at him and continued.

"You already know that Proteus are the Red Files and, if it helps, Blue Files are called…

"Olympus." Broots finished for him.

Miss Parker stared at the phone. "How did you know?"

"All three names are mentioned here. Fenigor's been involved with all of them."

Jarod seated himself in front of the laptop that was open on the table and started to access the mainframe, allowing Miss Parker to lean over his shoulder and type in the correct password.

"Is there anything else?"

"A project called Exodus. The only information about it here is that Fenigor was involved with the beginnings of it about two and a half years ago."

"That's it." Miss Parker met Sydney's eye. "That's the project all those women are part of. Broots, find out everything you can about it and send it to me. We'll do all we can from this end."

"Sure thing, Miss Parker."

The woman disconnected the call as the dial tone sounded, turning to Sydney.

"How was Fenigor involved with all three groups of Files?"

Sydney shrugged slightly. "I don't know," he admitted. "I don't know anything about the work that he did at the Centre."

She turned to Jarod. "You sent us that tape. How much do you know?"

"Not much," the Pretender admitted. "I sent the tape because I knew he had something to do with your mother. After we talked to him at the bank, I did a little more research, but all I could find was that Fenigor acted as go-between for NuGenesis from almost the first day. When I was working at NuGenesis, I found out that he was sent there on the 14th of April, 1970."

He waited for Morgan to react to the date, but only the woman's eyes betrayed her surprise. She arched an eyebrow when he remained silent. "Well? Then what?"

"Then, in 1984, he was transferred to Donoterase."

"Where, presumably, he became involved with Project Olympus," Sydney mused.

"When did they start?" Morgan asked curiously.

"The first of January, 1970," the psychiatrist told her.

"That was the day Fenigor began receiving money from Mr. Parker," Jarod reminded the woman. "Presumably that was at least part of the reason for them."

"Hefty pay raise," she remarked dryly, looking back at Sydney. "Before the official beginning, how did people like Kyle or Faith fit?"

"They were allotted to Prodigy, or at least Kyle and Dannie were."

"Just what is Prodigy?" Miss Parker interrupted.

"It's a selected group made up of Red and Blue Files. Only those who had the necessary genetic predisposition to be pretenders were allotted to Prodigy. The others were put only into either Red or Blue files, depending on their ages."

Morgan looked at the Pretender sharply. "How do you know so much about it, all of a sudden?"

Jarod shrugged. "I did a little research after getting blown up in SL-27 and before being dragged back to the Centre about a year later."

Nodding, the woman turned back to Sydney. "And Faith?"

"I'd imagine Faith was probably assigned to the Blue Files -- Olympus -- after she was brought to the Centre," he told her.

"And Genesis?" she queried, turning back to Jarod when Sydney remained silent.

He eyed her without speaking, painfully swallowing a lump in his throat, before standing up and walking over to sit down on the sofa. She took his place in front of the computer, scanning the information he had been looking through, a series of messages between two parties identified by numerical codes.

"What's Fenigor's code?"

"CIV2." Jarod said in a monotone. "He oversaw the sorting of the genetic program from which all of the Yellow Files were created, so that Cox and the Chairman could make their selections." He swallowed hard. "Including our s… Gabriel," he corrected himself quickly, casting a surreptitious glance at Sydney.

"What's XASF?"

"I don't know." Jarod shrugged. "But I'd guess it's Mr. Parker. Why?"

"According to this, there's been a lot of messages passing between the two of them in the last few months," she glanced at him, "more specifically, since Raines was taken down to Renewal Wing."

"You know," Jarod commented dryly, "there seems to be something ironic about a man in his condition being down there. They ought to open a Non-Renewal Wing for him."

Sydney smiled faintly, relieved to see that Jarod's depression seemed to have abated slightly. "I'll suggest it at the first opportunity."

"Can you guess why they'd be sending so many messages back and forth?" Morgan put in.

"Mr. Parker and Alex were always quite friendly," Sydney remarked. "Fenigor was one of the first people he ever hired at the Centre, as far as I know. Now that Mr. Parker's back in control, he can bring in whoever he wants and clearly feels that Fenigor will be useful, probably for this 'Exodus' project, whatever it is." His brow furrowed. "What information is available about it?"

Morgan turned back to the screen, scrolling down it so that he could get a glimpse of the material. "It's a project the Centre's been working on since the late 1970s." Her brow furrowed. "I don't get it. This says the project was abandoned in the mid-80s."

"There's nothing to say it hasn't been restarted," Sydney reminded her. "It doesn't have to be quite the same. They could use the same material…"

"It looks like they have," she interrupted, pointing at various items on the screen. "Some of the old Exodus files have been opened again quite recently." Pointing at a date, she caught Sydney's eye. "And it's been going on ever since Gabriel was born. That's Exodus, then. All those organs."

Jarod's expression was already wary at the mention of his son, but this made his eyes open wide in astonishment. "What organs?"

Sydney half-turned to provide an explanation. "Parker and I are here because a hospital has been involved sending bodily organs and tissue to the Centre."

Jarod raised an eyebrow. "It wouldn't be All Saints, would it?"

The psychiatrist looked at him in astonishment. "How did you…?"

"I found some articles about children dying and came to investigate."

"These?" Miss Parker opened the files Broots had sent earlier and moved aside so he could see the headlines. Rising to his feet, he glanced at the headlines and nodded.

"Among others, yes."

"So what did you find out?" Morgan demanded.

Jarod began to pace the room. "It's a weird scenario. From what I could find out, Miniter has contacts among those who bring illegal immigrants to the US and selects those who could be useful to him. Then the hospital offers them jobs. A few days or weeks after they start he warns them that if they don't co-operate, he'll hand them over to the police. Then he gets them to perform the operations and remove the various tissues and organs from the children. He's present during the surgery but his name never shows up on records, so when the cases get to court, Miniter can say that he had no idea what was going on and will get away with it."

"So what does All Saints get out of it?" The woman's brow furrowed. "It seems like they run all the risks - they hire illegal staff, they perform the illegal operations and they run the risk of being shut down now that they've been caught. What could the Centre possibly be offering them?"

"Miniter is being paid by the Chairman to continue doing it," a voice from the doorway interrupted and the room's three occupants turned in surprise. "You people really should lock the door."

"What difference would it make, Rebecca?" Jarod retorted quickly with a smile. "You can open it anyway."

"Okay, good point." The woman entered the room and closed the door, going over to hug Sydney before sitting down on the sofa beside Jarod. "Anything I can help with?"

"If you didn't think there was," the younger man asked, "Why are you here?"

"A different reason." She eyed him thoughtfully. "But I thought I'd see what else I could do."

"What hold does Mr. Parker have over Miniter?" Sydney asked. "I don't remember anyone of that name working at the Centre."

"He didn't directly," Rebecca admitted. "But check the Centre records and you might be interested in what's there."

Morgan turned immediately to the computer, taking only minutes to locate the information. A gasp caused Sydney to step over to the table, his eyes widening as he read the details.

"What is it?" Jarod demanded impatiently.

"Minter was the doctor who performed the examination on Momma for the police, the night she was assaulted," Morgan replied in a tight voice.

"Mr. Parker found out," the Pretender guessed, "and threatened him so that he never named a suspect."

"He then used him for several major projects at places connected with the Centre and gave him a very good salary," Sydney put in, reading more of the information, "and has been paying him ever since to keep quiet about both what he saw at the Centre and presumably also the attack."

"So nice for them both to get pocket money," Jarod commented wryly. "It must have been tough, paying both him and Fenigor out of his private pocket. I wonder if Mr. Parker put in for a raise."

Morgan turned as Jarod said the name, her eyes coming to rest thoughtfully on the other woman. "As you know obviously know so much about it, Rebecca," she began, "what else can you tell us about Fenigor? Why did he resurface now?"

"Because he can," the psychic responded. "I did some investigation into his background a couple of years ago, just after he was shot, and discovered that he and Raines were always jostling for the same position. Raines wanted Fenigor's position very badly and finally decided that there was only one way to get rid of him."

"So Raines had Fenigor shot," Sydney finished, eyeing Jarod warily but deciding not to mention the other agenda that the sniper outside the Dover Town Bank apparently had. "And that got him nicely out of the way so that Raines could get on with his other projects."

"And the Chairman had no complaints because it meant that he didn't have to keep paying him," Morgan added thoughtfully, her tones somewhat bitter as she exchanged glances with Jarod. "A nice bit of extra pocket money for him every month."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

She was pert and beautiful, delicate and soft and happy-looking, her round belly pushing her back from the edge of the table.

Broots' head hit the desk with a resounding crack, and he sat bolt upright, breathing hard. Raising a hand, he wiped the sweat of his face, closing his eyes briefly and feeling pain in his chest at the memory of the dream. The thing he remembered most about her was her smile, an expression of innocent happiness that beamed back at him from his memory. He wanted it to go away, but at the same time hoped it wouldn't, wanting to remember their meeting, afraid that, if he forgot it, he might remember that other moment, when he knew what had happened to her, when he'd looked down to find the bracelet lying on the floor of the incinerator room

Something clenched in his stomach, making him glad that he hadn't eaten since the day before, a superstitious concern making him worry that, now he was investigating a similar project, the same thing might happen. He would go down the cafeteria, sit down with his tray, and face…

With a hollow groan, Broots sank his head into his hands, unable to block the sight of those bright blue eyes out of his mind, no matter how hard he tried.

* * * * * * * * *

Columbus, Ohio

Rebecca pulled a sheet of paper out of her pocket, handing it over. "I did a little investigation and managed to find a list of projects that are somehow related to the Seraphim."

"And Exodus is top of the list," Morgan remarked as she read through the names.

"What was the original Exodus, in the early 70s?" Jarod queried. "And how is it related to the new one?"

"It was something to do with organs again," Miss Parker mused. "But I don't know what."

"It was the Centre's way of taking advantage of the growing market for organs that was increasing at the time, with the production of better antibiotics and other drugs so that transplantation would be more successful," Sydney told her. "I remember that much about it, but that's all."

"Where did they get the organs from?" the younger man asked somewhat suspiciously as an idea struck him.

Rebecca nodded sadly, picking up on an image of Jordan in Jarod's mind. "Yes," she agreed. "It was Gemini."

As Jarod turned away, feeling suddenly sick, Miss Parker looked over. "So were all the things that Broots and I found at Donoterase the results of that? Or were they the more irregular results, kept for their unusual appearance?"

"Probably the latter," the psychiatrist responded. "I'd imagine that the others were stripped of any useful organs and cremated, just like the women in the Fountain projects were and those in the Exodus project probably will be."

Nobody could think of an appropriate remark to reply to this and, for several minutes, there was no movement from anyone in the room.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

He was becoming absent-minded. It was the effects of Fountain, he was sure of it. Files that had been sitting on his desk in the morning were turning up in his filing cabinet in the afternoon, with pages missing, which would appear the following morning on his desk. Nobody would be going in to his office during the day, Parker was certain, so that meant he must have been doing it himself. It was more than annoying, it was beginning to endanger his position. He was sure that eventually he would misplace a file required for a Triumvirate meeting. Others would see the state he was in and force him out of his position. God only knew who they would select to replace him.

He had had one hope, but now that was gone. Although he knew Lyle was still keeping his team searching for the Israeli healer, Parker suspected that, if he were found, Lyle would force Namir to cure his own problems, leaving his father to fade into oblivion. That was a risk he had taken by providing Lyle with the promised Tower position, and, although there had been no other option at the time, Parker now regretted it. He had already begun planning for a successor and knew Cox would be both ready and eager to take over when the time came, but right now his knowledge was too limited for that to happen. The only way to block Lyle's path to the top was with a better prepared candidate, and Parker had already begun to carry out the steps that would need to be taken so Cox could be ready to take his place when the time was right. Having brought Fenigor back to the Centre would help to ensure that. Provided that the two men could work well together, it would be a combination powerful enough, with any luck, to knock Lyle out of the running.

The Chairman's hands tightened into fists that trembled. His hair was beginning to fall out, leaving the shoulders of his jacket decorated with numerous silver strands, and the skin on his face and hands showed new, deep wrinkles. In other words, the aging process was catching up to what it had been before he had allowed himself to be a guinea pig for Fountain. The concern Parker had was that it would begin to accelerate beyond that point, increasing in speed, until his body would be a decade or two older than his mind. And there was now nothing he could do. He had to let it happen.

* * * * * * * * *

Columbus, Ohio

Rebecca watched Jarod and Miss Parker pore over the articles and other information that Broots had sent from the Centre and they had located on the mainframe. Sydney sat down quietly at her side and she smiled, turning to face him.

"Why did you really come, Rebecca? You could have sent that information."

With a knowing smile, Rebecca looked up to see the softened expression in his eyes. "I thought I was the psychic one, Sydney."

"You are," he told her. "But I'd heard so much about you from Jacob, even aside from the time we spent together, that I always felt as if I knew you."

"Did he tell you that I introduced him to Alexis?"

"You know that I never knew about Alexis -- except for the work she did as one of his projects -- until about five months ago."

Nodding slowly, she watched the other people in the room before suddenly giving a soft laugh, at the sound of which Sydney raised an eyebrow.

"What is it?"

"This whole situation -- the two of them." She kept her voice low so that neither would be able to hear it. "Every time I know that they're working together, I can never stop myself from thinking of the first few months after Jarod escaped in 1996."

"They were close as children."

"And I was envious of that," she confided suddenly. "I never had any real friends after I was taken out of the Centre and I was always jealous of their friendship." She sighed sadly. "I always knew this would happen and I think that's what I was jealous of. The few people I've ever drawn close to in my life usually get scared off because of the amount I know and the things I can do."

Rebecca watched as Miss Parker reached for the glass she had been drinking from, her eyes still fixed on the screen, and mentally moved the object several inches away, resulting in Morgan's hand merely brushing vacant air. Sydney laughed as he saw Miss Parker glance sharply over her shoulder and receive a look of innocence from the telekinetic on the sofa beside him, before he continued with their conversation.

"You've never been…?"

"Romantically involved?" Rebecca laughed. "Sydney, I'm a single mother, remember? It's usually a turn-off."

He smiled in acknowledgement. "Was that a thing you told every man who'd show interest in you, just to see what he'd do?"

"Not exactly. The sorts of places I live are usually enough to turn men off, and that's even more so now that the Centre's searching for me too."

"And Andromeda?"

"She's still living with the Hatchers. She comes to see me sometimes, or I'll go and visit there, but they're always uncomfortable with me being around." She crossed her legs, chewing her bottom lip nervously. "Unfortunately, all too soon that feeling will extend to her as well, and then I'm going to have to have her with me all the time."

"Why 'unfortunately?'"

"I'm scared, Sydney." She looked at him and he could see in her eyes the same vulnerability that he had also seen during the years she had been at the Centre and in their other meeting, years later. "I'm scared that I won't be able to do what's best for her. She lived in a settled environment at the Hatchers', before Lyle abducted her, and if I can't provide a similar situation too then there's nowhere else for her to go."

Jarod turned around suddenly. "Is Andromeda your only child?"

She responded to his question with one of her own. "With what you know of my limitations, Jarod, don't you wonder why I know so much about the Seraphim and some of the people who work with them?"

Jarod flipped through his memory of the children's faces, suddenly recalling a little girl with bright blue eyes and a shock of blond hair, whose telekinetic abilities had been so proudly displayed to him by Cox. He turned sad eyes on the psychic.

"Tempest," he replied somewhat glumly.

"Yes," she agreed softly. "Your niece."

The man froze in his chair as the full meaning of the words sank in, ignoring the startled looks on the faces of both Sydney and Miss Parker. Finally, a word managed to work its way out.

"E… Ethan?" he offered almost hopefully.

She shook her head sadly. "No, Jarod. Tempest is Kyle's daughter. Kyle's and mine."

"But Mr. Parker didn't even know you were still alive," Sydney protested, while Jarod remained speechless.

"Actually, they were hoping to make a Pretender," Rebecca admitted. "That's what Tempest was supposed to be, according to the notes I found at Donoterase. They used my ova by chance. Cox found them in Raines' lab and tested them for viability, but there was nothing to match them to. Raines' notes gave them clues to possible abilities of the donor, but no name. It wasn't until they -- specifically Mr. Parker -- realized I was alive that they did the tests. It was, as I'm sure you can imagine, a pleasant surprise." The last words were spoken through clenched teeth, as Rebecca rose from her seat on the sofa and walked to the window. An uncomfortable moment of silence followed, which Miss Parker finally broke.

"Are the Yellow Files the Centre's peak project?"

Rebecca turned, nodding at Miss Parker's question and pointing to the list lying on the table next to her. "All of the other projects the Centre is running at the moment are designed to ensure that nothing bad ever happens to those children."

"So Exodus…?"

"Exodus, as every religious person knows," she smiled faintly, "comes after Genesis. And it does in this case, as well. Exodus is a continuation, intended as a support program. The research from Exodus is intended to correct any problems the children may develop later in life." She shrugged. "As I said, they don't want any thing to happen to these children. From the information I've found, they're staking everything on them. It's a gamble, and they hope it'll pay off, big time."

"And what exactly is this new Exodus supposed to do for the children?" Morgan queried.

"That differs, depending on the child," the psychic retorted. "For someone like Gideon, with all of the possible problems that could arise from his unfortunate parentage, they want to be sure they can correct any mistakes that might come up. They've been monitoring him incredibly closely for his whole life to prevent any genetic defects or biological crises."

"And… the others?" Jarod asked somewhat unevenly, trying to ignore the blanched look on Morgan's face.

Rebecca resettled herself. "Mostly, they just want to ensure that, if anything goes medically wrong with those children -- cancer, Parkinson's, any of the diseases that are likely to affect at least one of them during their lifetimes -- they'll be able to do something about it. They can't afford for those children to die. The Centre's whole future is wrapped up in them. It's probably that which keeps Mr. Parker in his position as Chairman. If they can cure the children of anything which may affect their ability to work -- and also make a little pocket money by selling off their results to the highest bidder -- then the Triumvirate's power, and that of the Centre, would be unchallengeable."

Falling silent, Rebecca stood up, trying to suppress a shudder at the thought as she walked over to the window, staring out of it in a silence that was oppressive.

Returning to the sofa, she perched on the arm of it, her eyes traveling slowly from one to another of the faces in front of her. "You know what the children are like now, with the training they have. Just imagine what they'll be capable of in five years - in twenty! Most of them will have the maturity level of children more than twice their age, particularly those like Angelique or Gideon, who need emotional stability in their lives."

"And with their abilities," Jarod offered, his mind racing. "When they learn to control them and can use them in any way they're ordered to."

Only Rebecca saw the pain in Sydney's eyes as he watched his former protégé, but the emotion on the faces of all four people in the room revealed that they were all aware of the horror that the Centre could inflict when it had total control of the eight brilliant and highly skilled minds that were being trained on SL-17.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Trevor was meditating when the images began to appear on the edge of his mind's eye. Knowing that concentrating would be the fastest way to make them disappear, he forced himself to relax, resisting the urge to panic as he recognized one of the faces. Slowly, the steps began to be laid out in logical order, all pointing to one definite conclusion, and the corners of the psychic's mouth lifted as an image was presented to him, his ears filled with the sounds of childish laughter that accompanied it.

His eyes opened, taking a second to recognize his surroundings, before Trevor slowly got to his feet. The plan would need organization and it would take a lot of work, but it was doable. His eyes eager, the man rapidly left the room, hurrying to the stairs and running up them to the room where his boss was working.

* * * * * * * * *

Columbus, Ohio

"So what can we do?"

"Nothing," Rebecca responded quietly. "Not if you want to save your son."

Miss Parker looked up at her sharply. "What do you mean?"

Leaning over Jarod's shoulder, Rebecca pointed to a file that they hadn't yet opened and, when the information was in front of them, tapped her finger on the screen, indicating one of the lists. "This is All Saints legal team. Any or all of those names familiar?"

"But we could shut them down…" Jarod protested and she looked down at him.

"If the Centre wasn't playing such a large role with their hold over Miniter, I'd agree with you. But I've got no doubt by this time that the Centre is well aware of you being there. Walk through those doors -- any of you -- and you can kiss goodbye any chance of walking out unescorted. And you know as well as I do that it would be an escort right into Renewal Wing. Like I said, if you want to help your son and the other children, this is one of the places you'll have to leave alone, at least for now. Maybe later, when things settle down, you can think about it, but get your priorities right."

"And they are?"

"Family," stated a voice from the doorway. "That's what you're going to say, isn't it, Momma?"

"Yes, baby."

Rebecca went over and put her arms around Andromeda, whose pale face and red-rimmed eyes revealed her emotions, feeling the girl bury her face in her mother's shoulder. Gently, the psychic led her daughter over and sat her down on the sofa, feeling hot tears soak her shirt.

"It's all right, Andromeda, I know what happened."

"I… I always thought…"

Rebecca knelt down in front of the sobbing girl. "They do still love you, baby, but they're afraid of you now, afraid of what you know. My family was the same." She started to stroke the girl's hair. "They'll still want to see you, honey, particularly Michael."

"Can I live with you?"

The psychic recognized the question for what it was - a desperate desire for just a hint of comfort -- and sat down next to the girl, holding her close and pressing her lips to the girl's blond hair. "I'd love you to, Andromeda. I'd love to have my baby with me. It's hard for you, I know, but we'll be okay, you'll see."

A thought suddenly struck Sydney, and he turned to Miss Parker. "You should call Broots and tell him to stop looking into Exodus before anyone finds out, or we could have the same problems we had after Fountain."

Nodding, she picked up the phone. As she dialed the number, Jarod looked back at the laptop, an expression of concern in his eyes.

"I know that you don't like leaving this unfinished, Jarod," Rebecca told him quietly. "But you can't afford to meddle in things that could get you killed. Not at this stage of the game. There's just too much at stake."

Slowly, he nodded, closing down the files on the computer and, after sending the files on Fenigor to his own email address, shutting down the machine.

"So what now?" Sydney sat down opposite the woman. "What happens from this point on?"

She smiled. "What do you want, Sydney, a detailed plan of the next thirty years?"

"It might be nice," he admitted with a small laugh. "Actually, just knowing that we'll be alive at the end of this year might be nice, too."

"As I've said before, Sydney, there are a lot of maybes. And I don't have all the answers."

"That's so comforting," the psychiatrist responded dryly.

"You're in no more danger now than you have been for the last forty years working at the Centre. Why should this year be any different? You learnt a long time ago how to stay alive. Just keep practicing the same skills and there isn't any reason for things to change that dramatically." She smiled. "As for what happens from this point on, that depends on what Centre secret you dig up next, and that's a definite 'maybe.'"

"Why?"

"There's so many to choose from." Rebecca rolled her eyes, trying not to laugh at the expression on Jarod's face. "Please, don't ask me to start listing them or we could be here forever."

"We don't have time to be," Miss Parker interrupted as she hung up the phone and picked up the laptop. "Broots said that Fenigor's asked where I am about four times now and unless we head back soon, he might tell somebody else."

Rebecca reached into the bag she had brought with her and extracted a red notebook, which she handed over, grinning as Jarod's jaw dropped.

"Where did you…?"

"Angelo gave it to me when we met. It's got a couple of articles about the sorts of things you may have been investigating and I'm sure that'll be quite satisfactory to the boys in black. Otherwise," she grinned meaningfully at Morgan, "Jarod's lair was clean. Oops. Guess he got away again."

Laughing, the woman got to her feet. "I guess he did." She looked over at Sydney. "Are you ready to go?"

"As long as everything's in hand here." He glanced at Jarod in concern before turning to Rebecca as the psychic nodded.

"Everything's fine. We won't be here much longer than you, so in a few hours, as soon as you get back to Blue Cove, you can send a sweeper teams here if you're feeling so keen. Otherwise, we'll see you around."

Go to Epilogue

 
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