Well, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before, my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin
I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies
--Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight"
He was groggy at first, then instantly awake when two sweepers dragged
him from bed and pinned his arms, pulling him with them down the darkened
corridor. He was barefoot, and the floor was cold. Dressed only in his
pajama pants, he felt almost naked, terribly vulnerable.
This wasn't the first time. He knew what was coming, what they would
do to him. He fought them, jerking on his trapped arms, nearly tearing
them from his shoulder sockets. He shouted and pleaded with them, but
they drew him inexorably toward that awful cryogenic machine, and strapped
him down onto the sliding tongue that would take him into its mouth. He
barely felt the needle slide into his arm, but the medication took effect
almost immediately. He felt sluggish, his heartbeat slowing from its terrified
tattoo. He could hardly hold his head up, but still he fought, his arms
jerking weakly as they slid him into the metal tube and turned on the
He was fighting for his life, and losing. His eyes slid closed, rolled
open again as he struggled to stay awake and alive. Then they closed again,
slowly his struggles ceased, and he died.
Jarod's head jerked upright as he woke suddenly, the scream dying on
his lips before he could utter it. Looking around, he realized he was
sitting at the table in the motel room he had rented, his laptop in front
of him. Working. He had been working, and he had fallen asleep in his
He hadn't intended for that to happen. Maybe stopping at the motel was
a mistake, but he had needed to get off the road for a while. Bradford
boasted that it was home to the Zippo lighter factory, and under different
circumstances he might have been interested in a tour. It would have been
a fun, completely frivolous thing to do. Zoe had once told him he needed
to take more vacations. But what had actually enticed him into stopping
were the road signs, offering the promise of a clean, comfortable room
where he could rest.
Rest was what he needed, though not in the traditional sense. Jarod had
no desire to sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, the dream was there,
waiting for him. Knowing his limits so well, he had thought a brisk swim
in the indoor pool and a few hours of quiet activity would be enough to
refresh him; apparently, it wasn't.
He thought he knew why this particular nightmare had returned. Luther
Ecksley's death was bringing up shades of his own mortality, reminding
him what it was like to feel helpless, to have life forcibly taken away.
He had let this particular episode from his past lie unresolved for more
than four years now, waiting on Sydney's promise to investigate it fully.
Maybe it was time to take the initiative and look into it himself.
That would have to wait a while longer, because for now he had plans
-- plans he should probably tell someone about. Checking the digital clock
next to the bed, he realized it was early, but still possible that Sydney
might be in his office. Deciding to take a chance, he punched in the number.
His mentor answered on the second ring. "This is Sydney."
Instantly, the voice on the other end perked up. "Jarod, it's good
to hear from you. I've been worried."
He took a slow, deep breath, running a hand through his hair and thinking
idly that it was time for a haircut. "I called to let you know I'll
be out of touch for a while. I'm going on a kind of trip -- something
called Walkabout." He paused, remembering his time with Lauren Taylor
and her friend John. "It's an Australian concept."
"Yes, I've heard of it."
"They say if you walk long enough and far enough, you'll eventually
meet up with yourself." He sighed deeply. "That's what I need,
Sydney, to find myself. I don't know who I am anymore."
The sun was barely up, and Sydney already had his psychiatrist's hat
on. "This has something to do with Luther's death, doesn't it? You
still haven't come to terms with what happened."
"It has to do with a lot of things," Jarod replied. "I
just need to get away for a while." He was reminded why as a memory
of the inside of the cryochamber flashed through his mind in frightening
detail, and he shivered involuntarily. "I've
been having nightmares
again, about the freezing experiment."
"The one Raines and Lyle conducted on you."
"Yes." He took another breath, and let it out. "You promised
to look into this for me, a long time ago. Have you found anything?"
Sydney hesitated, and Jarod wondered if he'd forgotten, and was too embarrassed
to admit it. "Nothing of any significance, but I'm still looking
into it, I promise you. And I will let you know when I find something
of import." He paused, and his tone changed. "Please be careful,
Jarod. You're still in a precarious place right now."
A pained smile flashed across Jarod's lips. "Is that your way of
telling me I'm losing my mind, Sydney? I already knew that when I came
to your hotel room in Columbus." He rose, phone still in his hand,
and started packing up his meager possessions. "As I said, I'll be
out of touch for a while. No e-mail, no calls. I'll get back to you as
as whatever's waiting down the road manages to find me.
He turned off the phone before his mentor could reply, and then realized
what he'd done. He never used that word when ending his calls. Instead,
he would simply hang up, because he didn't like the finality of farewells.
Well, he told himself, there was nothing he could do about it now. But
perhaps it had been a Freudian slip of sorts, because this did feel very
much like the end of
He finished gathering up his things and headed for the stairs, intent
on leaving the Comfort Inn behind. He had found no comfort here at all.
In truth, he was beginning to wonder if there was such a thing, for him
-- and if he would find it, anywhere.
* * * * * * * * *
He placed the receiver back in its cradle and stared at the ceiling for
several moments. Now, it was his turn to feel guilty. Jarod was right
to question him. He should have honored his promise, and worked at solving
this mystery long ago.
They stopped my heart. Why?
I don't know. Why does Mr. Raines do anything he does?
It was a flippant answer, one Jarod hadn't deserved. Raines might have
been an evil man, but he never did anything without a reason. Sydney wasn't
sure why he hadn't taken the incident more seriously. True, Jarod had
already remembered most of it on his own, but that didn't mean there weren't
questions still to be answered. Perhaps that was the reason his nightmare
had returned -- a demand for closure.
I won't let this go; I promise you that.
But he had let it go, four long years without further investigation.
His negligence was finally catching up with him; now, more than ever,
Jarod deserved to know why during that three-week period he had been repeatedly
killed, and then brought back to life.
The question was where to look for information. Simply going to the archives,
where many had traveled before, was unlikely to reveal anything new. And
Broots had enough to do as Morgan's second-in-command without being asked
to conduct yet another computer search in his "spare time."
The man in charge of the experiment had clearly been Raines. His private
files would be the ones to check. The problem was that Raines was dead,
and his office had completely burned out months ago. Everyone seemed to
believe his files -- both past projects, and those still in progress --
had gone with it, but Sydney had always suspected otherwise. He noted
that Lyle, in particular, had been very nonchalant about the whole thing;
most unusual for a man who had a stake in some of those projects. Sydney
couldn't help wondering if he had found a way to get at least some of
the files out before they were destroyed.
There was only one way to be sure.
He checked his watch. Lyle wasn't usually an early riser, so there might
still be time for a trip to his office before he arrived for the day.
It was a dangerous proposition, with a high probability of being caught,
but Sydney couldn't allow that to stop him. If Broots, one of the most
timid yet courageous men he had ever known, could do such a thing -- on
multiple occasions -- then he could expect no less of himself.
* * * * * * * * *
Route 219 South
Jarod had promised himself there would be no distractions from now on.
He needed to think, needed to come to some understanding of who he was
and where he was headed, before he could ever hope to carry out Catherine
To keep himself honest, he left his cell phone, laptop, and Halliburton
locked in a secure storage facility. The Centre would never find them,
he was certain. They'd probably never know he'd been to Bradford in the
first place, since Miss Parker was cutting him a fair amount of slack
these days. Having divested himself of everything but a few changes of
clothes, he got in his car and headed south on Route 219, not really sure
where he was going but hoping he would know when he'd arrived.
The scenery, at least, was pleasant. He drove in and out of small boroughs
and townships, down roads that showed him panoramic views of the countryside.
After a while, a sign informed him that he was entering the Allegheny
National Forest. Trees along both sides of the road began to multiply
after that, many of them tall pines that partially blocked the sun and
made sunglasses unnecessary.
Jarod liked having the road mostly to himself. He knew he was tired,
his reaction time slowed as a result; driving in heavier traffic might
not be safe right now. Equally unsafe, he feared, would be to stop the
car, give in to his need for sleep, and allow the memories to torture
him. He'd had enough torture, real and remembered, to last him into the
It was at times like this that thoughts of Aurora came to him most clearly.
Even now, after months had passed, he still heard its siren song in his
weaker moments. Seems like I've had a lot of those lately, his
own voice whispered. Under the drug's influence, he never had nightmares,
never worried about who he was or what his ultimate purpose in life might
be. Everything was so simple, so clear -- or at least, that was the way
Without Aurora to keep his life serene, he was frequently bombarded with
doubts and questions about his half-remembered life. Uppermost in his
mind now was the Experiment, and why it had come back to haunt him after
Jarod had no answers -- but perhaps, somewhere down the road, he would
* * * * * * * * *
Sydney brought a folder containing Seraphim evaluations with him, in
case he should be asked to justify his presence in the Tower. As the elevator
doors opened, he saw no one, including sweepers, to block his path. Quickly,
but as calmly as possible under the circumstances, he made his way to
Lyle's office, and let himself in.
Lyle had recently received a promotion, though no one he'd spoken to
was quite sure of the reason. At the Centre, such things were often handled
behind closed doors, and it was unwise to ask too many questions. Decorating
for the new office was obviously still in progress, as two of the walls
remained blank and the desk itself was free of the usual accessories.
Still, the man had already put his stamp on the place: an oriental silk
tapestry hung prominently behind his chair, reminding everyone who might
come to visit just where his interests lay.
Thankfully, Lyle had a sense of order, a fact confirmed during a clandestine
visit to his apartment several years ago. Sydney was certain he would
find all of the stolen files in one place, which made the search somewhat
easier. He ignored the obvious targets of the desk drawers and filing
cabinets; Lyle had a penchant for hiding things, and would no doubt have
placed his cache behind a secret lock or recessed panel of some type.
Slowly, Sydney made his way around the room, freezing once as footsteps
could be heard outside. If anyone came in, there was no chance of avoiding
discovery, since he had neither the youth nor the agility of his colleague.
Broots might be able to squeeze himself into small places for hours on
end; Sydney, unfortunately, could not. Explaining away his presence probably
wouldn't work, either. Lyle hated Sydney because he was Jarod's mentor,
and was unlikely to let him off the hook for any transgression.
Eventually, the steps faded, and he went back to his task. The desk itself
captured his interest -- it seemed to be one massive piece of wood, flat
on top and curved at both ends to form the legs. The dimensions weren't
quite symmetrical, though; one side was slightly thicker than seemed necessary.
On a hunch, he got down on his knees, ran his hands along the side, and
felt the faint lines of a hidden panel, all but invisible in the wood's
grain. He pressed on it, and it popped open, revealing a recessed hiding
place that was definitely worthy of Lyle.
Inside, the files were stacked neatly on their side, color-coded blue
and red according to the Centre subject they concerned. Sydney paused
momentarily; no doubt there were enough secrets here to keep Morgan busy
for weeks. If they all disappeared at once, though, Lyle would undoubtedly
come after her. For now, he contented himself with flipping through the
red files, until he found one called "Resurrection" which seemed
to concern Jarod.
A quick glance confirmed that it was almost certainly what he was looking
for. Knowing he'd already overstayed his welcome, Sydney closed the panel
and got to his feet, taking care to leave everything just as he had found
it. He buried the red file inside his yellow one, and poked his head carefully
out one of the doors. For the moment, the coast was clear, and he took
the opportunity to made his way to the stairs, not even waiting for the
elevator, and heading back to his own office and freedom.
* * * * * * * * *
Routes 6 and 219
The trees lining both sides of the road gradually thinned, and became
a clearing as Jarod reached a crossroads. Four flashing lights stood guard
over the intersection, one in each direction. Pulling to a stop, he was
faced with a choice: continue heading south, or turn onto Route 6 and
wherever it might take him.
Something about that number sounded familiar, and he thought for a moment
before it came to him. The town of Corry was on Route 6. It was there,
at the Starlight Motel, that he had finally regained his memories of Eclipse,
and all the baggage that went with them.
Everything seemed to lead back to Eclipse: his connection with Faith;
his dark side, represented by the "justice" he meted out; the
train wreck that was his relationship with Morgan Parker. He would never
be free of its influence, any more than he would ever be completely free
of Aurora. The only chance he had was to try to put bookends around the
incident, give himself some form of closure. The road where it had all
started would undoubtedly be appropriate for that.
Another car pulled up behind him and beeped its horn, pulling him out
of his momentary reverie. The decision made, Jarod turned right and began
heading west, toward his destiny.
* * * * * * * * *
The more of the file he read, the more concerned Sydney became. "Resurrection"
had been no ordinary experiment, even by Centre standards. Raines and
Lyle had outdone themselves coming up with it. Even though it hadn't been
completely successful, he had no doubt there would be far-reaching consequences.
He put the folder down for a moment, and rubbed the bridge of his nose
in an attempt to ease the discomfort there. He could feel a headache starting;
it would probably be a nasty one -- maybe even a migraine, though he had
never been prone to those before. Hoping to short-circuit the process,
he dug a bottle of aspirin out of his desk drawer and swallowed a couple,
washing them down with what was left of his morning coffee.
Jarod needed to know what he had found; but, since the Pretender was
temporarily out of touch, that would have to wait. In the meantime, Miss
Parker also needed to see the information he had dug up. Perhaps it would
help her in the same way he hoped it would eventually help Jarod.
He felt extraordinarily weary as he rose from his desk to make the trek
to the elevator. In the corridor, he stopped, momentarily forgetting where
he was headed. The sequence of events seemed unfinished somehow, as if
he'd forgotten something important, but he shook it off and stepped into
the elevator car. As the doors slid open on SL-3, pain shot through his
head, momentarily halting him. He ignored it once it had passed, reaching
for the handrail to hoist himself onto the first step toward the balcony.
By the time he reached the top, he was breathing hard, barely able to
drag himself into Miss Parker's office.
Broots was there with her, which was to be expected. Sydney all but ignored
him. Instead, he placed the folder on her desk, barely managing to let
go of it before he turned and collapsed onto the sofa.
He heard someone call his name, and after that everything began to blur.
He struggled to catch his breath, and the pain seized him again with a
vengeance, making him clutch at his head. He could hear worried voices
mumbling words he couldn't quite catch, felt hands loosening his tie and
collar and helping him to lie down.
Not now, he pleaded silently, aware that something was terribly
wrong with him. He thought he heard Miss Parker's voice from a distance
bellowing something about the infirmary.
He struggled to speak, and it was more difficult than he could ever have
imagined. "Not the Centre," he managed to say. To become a patient
within these walls would be a fate worse than death. It was death for
someone like him, someone with enemies who would see this as an opportunity
to remove the obstacle his presence represented, once and for all.
Miss Parker leaned down close to his ear. "It's all right, Sydney.
Broots called 911. They'll come and take you to the hospital."
He relaxed slightly, trusting her to do what was right. Morgan had never
lied to him, not when it counted. He was glad now that they'd had that
discussion in the car on the way back from Columbus. She had seemed much
more comfortable around him since then. Sydney only wished he'd been able
to do the same for Jarod. Both of the people he kept watch over deserved
to know how he really felt about them.
I should have told you, Jarod, he whispered to himself as he drifted
away and out of consciousness.
* * * * * * * * *
Her office was awash with bodies, first the personnel from the infirmary,
then the paramedics as they arrived. Morgan knew she was walking on dangerous
ground by summoning them. The Centre hierarchy didn't much like having
outsiders in the building; but in a case like this, what they wanted went
right out the window. Sydney had seen to it that she received hospital
care when she had a perforated ulcer, and by God she'd do the same for
him now. He deserved that, and much more, for the way he'd looked after
her all these years.
When the paramedics had him ready to transport, she shooed the others
out, and sent a message to her lieutenants that she would be gone for
a while. Picking up her purse and keys, she prepared to escort them out
of the building, planning to follow them to the hospital in her own car.
"I'd like to go with you," Broots piped up. "Is that okay?
I want to be with him."
She put her hand on the tech's shoulder. "I know you do, Broots,
but I really need you to stay here and put Sydney's office in Lockdown.
We don't want any of his private data to
wander away, while he's
gone." She gave him a look to convey her full meaning, and he nodded.
"O-Okay, Miss Parker. But please, make sure they take good care
of him." He looked over at the psychiatrist, with his face so pale
and various wires and tubes sticking out. "I don't think I could
stand it if anything happened to him."
She followed his gaze with her own, understanding exactly how he felt.
"Oh, they will. Because if they don't, they'll have to answer to
* * * * * * * * *
Lockdown. It was standard procedure when the Tower or any of the higher-ups
went on an extended trip, got sick, or was fired. Broots wasn't sure he'd
seen many examples of the latter, at least leaving the building in one
piece. While Sydney was in the hospital, though, it was a definite necessity.
He spied the long, deep silver box sitting on top of the desk almost
immediately, and wrinkled up his nose quizzically. It was unlike Sydney
to leave something so obvious just sitting there, and then walk away.
It had to have been shortly before he'd gotten sick, though, so maybe
his brain hadn't been working just right.
Broots knew he probably shouldn't open the box; but then again, if he
was going to figure out what level of security this thing needed, he'd
have to see what was there. Relieved at having found a logical reason
for behaving like a spy, he went behind the desk and reached for the lid,
gently opening it to peer inside.
He stood there looking at the plastic toys, origami figures, and drawings,
and knew almost instantly whom they had come from. Feeling a bit like
a voyeur, but unable to resist the temptation, he sat down in Sydney's
chair and pulled out the items one by one with a sense of reverence, then
carefully put them back into the box. The last was a Father's Day card,
drawn in pencil and signed with a childish hand.
A slow smile spread across the tech's face. He'd never have guessed the
old guy was so sentimental, but these things obviously meant a great deal
to him, or else he wouldn't have kept them all these years. He shook his
head as he closed the lid. Keeping private mementos could get Sydney in
a lot of trouble, and would be better hidden away; until he discovered
their usual hiding place, he'd take them to Miss Parker's office for safekeeping.
Turning his attention back to Sydney's office, he took the files and
other papers sitting on the desk and placed them in a file drawer. Then
he took everything else that could possibly be of concern to anyone and
put those items away as well, locking the desk and cabinets with the master
keys he had gotten from the SIS office. When he was finished, he picked
up the box, turned out the light and left, locking the door behind him.
* * * * * * * * *
From inside the vent, a pair of bright blue eyes watched Broots go. Angelo
could still get into certain parts of the ventilation system, and he had
other ways to get into and out of someone's office without being seen.
His empathic sense understood what had happened to Sydney, and what he
most needed to get well. The box would make its way to him; Sister would
see to that. Then, hopefully, it would just be a matter of time until
another of the Secrets Kept Too Long would finally be revealed.
* * * * * * * * *
When Broots was finished, he went directly to Miss Parker's office. There,
he placed the box on a chair in the corner out of direct sight of the
door, so that anyone coming in wouldn't immediately see it. No one besides
himself had the authority to be in her office when she was gone anyway,
and few others had the nerve. Still, he had seen Valentine with his own
two eyes; it was best to be careful.
His task completed, Broots wondered if he should go to the hospital.
Maybe it would be best to call Miss Parker first. He reached for the phone
on her desk and dialed her cell number. It rang half a dozen times, and
he wondered if perhaps she had turned it off; finally, she answered. "What?"
"Miss Parker? I -- I just wanted to know how Sydney's doing."
"I'm not sure yet," she replied. "So far, no one's told
me a damn thing."
Broots could hear how worried she was, and he shared her concern. Maybe
it would help to have a distraction, if only for a moment or two. "You'll
never guess what I found in Sydney's office."
"The Empire State Building," she returned without thinking.
"Well, yes, but I left that on the floor," he told her in all
seriousness. "I don't think it's a security risk. But I found this
box full of
well, stuff I think you should see. Unusual stuff. I've
got it secured in your office until you get back."
"Keep it there," she told him. "Baby-sit it, for now.
As soon as I know that Sydney's stable, I'll be back to do a proper lock-up,
and then you can come with me to the hospital."
That sounded reasonable, and held the promise of keeping him in the loop.
"Okay, I guess I'll wait for you, then."
"I'll call you when I know anything."
She hung up, and he began idly looking around, hoping to find something
to keep him occupied while he waited. Running a glance over the desk,
he spotted the red folder. In all the excitement, it had been forgotten,
but apparently Sydney was bringing it for Miss Parker to look at.
Broots decided it wouldn't hurt to take a little peek. "Resurrection.
Hmm." He opened to the first document, and began reading.