Unfinished Business,
The Third Twin

 

home / season six / episode eighteen / act III

   

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

As Jarod was making up a bed in the corner of Jordan's room for Jacob, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning to find his father standing behind him, the major held out a paper-wrapped parcel, a look of sadness in his eyes. Raising an eyebrow, Jarod took it, feeling that the contents were soft and yielded under his fingers.

"What is it?"

His father swallowed painfully before forcing a small smile. "It's some of the clothes you wore, the day before you were abducted by the Centre. Your mother has one set, and I've kept the other with me ever since."

Jarod gently placed the parcel on the table before drawing the older man into his arms, his eyes glistening. After several silent moments, he drew away and started to unfasten the string that bound it. Almost reverently peeling back the paper, Jarod took out a hand-knitted sweater and neatly folded pants, which, accompanied by a shirt and a change of underclothes, made up an outfit that Jacob, despite his age, would fit into, his diet and environment having left him very small. Out of the corner of his eye, Jarod cast a glance at his father.

"Can you…" Jarod's voice broke, but he managed to continue. "Can you bear to see him in this?"

"Put him in it and we'll see," the older man responded quickly, turning away. "We'll have to buy him more anyway -- a kid can't live in one change -- and he doesn't have to keep them."

Nodding, Jarod wrapped the paper over the clothing and watched his father leave the room as his sister entered. Dropping the bundle onto the older boy's bed, Jarod placed his hands on Emily's shoulders and drew her towards him, his eyes keenly searching her face.

"You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine, really," she assured him. "They didn't do anything except keep me tied to a chair for hours, and the flight from Idaho gave me time to get over that. A good sleep and I'll be back to normal." Emily eyed him curiously. "How do you know Paul?"

"We've met once or twice," Jarod responded carefully, determined to give the man himself a chance to explain, knowing how much his sister would resent any interference on his behalf. "But I had no idea you two were romantically involved."

"We're just friends," she protested indignantly, and Jarod laughed.

"Yeah, sure."

Grinning, Emily hugged him briefly before drawing away. The smile faded as she heard loud sobs from the adjoining room and was about to go in when Jarod stopped her.

"I'll deal with it. You and Y -- Paul go and help Dad."

Hoping that she hadn't noticed his hesitation, Jarod opened the bathroom door, stretching out an arm in time to prevent Jacob from bolting past him out into the bedroom. Catching the boy, Jarod firmly closed the door before looking at Jordan, whose face was flushed.

"What's going on?"

"Hydrophobia," Jordan responded tightly, running a hand impatiently through his short hair.

Jarod snorted. "I don't believe it."

"All right then," the younger man returned, exasperated. "You get him into the bath."

Nodding, Jarod knelt in front of Jacob and looked into his eyes, which revealed the child's fear of the big bathtub full of warm water and bubbles.

"What's the matter, Jacob?"

"Scared," the child muttered between dry sobs. "Water hurts."

Jarod nodded again, having guessed at something like this being the cause, remembering the times when water had been used on him as a punishment, from a scalding hot shower when he had been interested in his body to the forced shower Lyle had inflicted with the fire hose when he had been dragged back to the Centre after Miss Parker had been shot. He could only imagine the numerous ways Cox would have come up with to punish him, thus resulting in the child's understandable fear, and Jarod only hoped he could alleviate it.

"You know, Jacob," he began persuasively. "Water doesn't always hurt."

Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, the boy nodded vigorously, clutching Jordan's jacket around his thin, bare shoulders. "Always, with Sir."

"But Sir's not here now," Jarod responded gently. "Only Jordan and I are here, so let's find out if water hurts when we're here, shall we?"

Now shaking his head, the child lunged against the arms that were holding him, but the man simply tightened his grasp a little more, keeping the boy still.

"Jacob," he stated kindly. "I'm sure the room where the water hurt, with Sir, wasn't as nice as this, was it?"

Shooting a quick look around the room, Jacob slowly shook his head before burying his face in Jarod's shoulder, his small shoulders heaving. The man stroked the tangled mass of hair on the boy's head, giving him a reassuring hug. Jordan slid a hand into the bath, although he had already tested it to ensure that it wasn't too hot, swishing it around and making the water slap against the smooth sides of the tub. The sound brought Jacob's head up off Jarod's shoulder and he warily watched Jordan flicking the water against the tiles as Jarod continued.

"And," he reached into the pocket of his jacket, producing a colorful plastic toy, "I'm positive you didn't get to play with a little boat like this one, did you?"

He put the boat into the child's hands, seeing the delight in Jacob's eyes as his thin fingers closed around the object.

"Is… is this for me?"

"For you to play with in the bath," Jarod agreed. He nodded at the older boy, who pulled a toy helicopter out of his pocket, before Jarod turned back to the child. "And you can have that too, to play with in the bath."

Jacob gave him a hopeful look, but there was wariness behind the positive expression. "Only in the bath?"

"These are specially for the bath," Jarod told him, as Jordan placed the helicopter on the rim of the tub and spun the prop. "But there are other toys for when you're out of the bath."

"And books to read," Jordan chimed in, remembering how much Jacob had seemed to enjoy the time they had spent reading. "Lots of books."

"So, what do you say, Jacob," Jarod put in, smiling briefly at Jordan before looking back at the boy. "Shall we try the bath?"

Jacob looked from Jarod to Jordan, then at the helicopter, and finally at the boat in his hands, before hesitantly nodding.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney glanced at his watch before getting to his feet. With the folder under his arm, he firmly grasped the walking stick, meeting Broots' eye.

"She'll obviously be a while."

"Sounds like it," the technician agreed. "You've got things to do?"

The psychiatrist's lips curled into a smile. "Don't I always? When Miss Parker's finished, will you tell her that I want to talk to her and ask her to come and find me?"

"Sure thing." Broots held out a hand. "Want me to mind that for you?"

Unable to repress a smile at the curiosity in Broots' eyes, Sydney shook his head. "Thanks, but I'll take care of it."

Making his way to his office, Sydney returned the file to its hiding place before sitting down at his desk. The box that he had taken from Angelo's new quarters now sat on the floor beside his feet, and Sydney carefully lifted it into his lap. Taking out the first of the folders, a look was enough to show Sydney that this was information about Timmy's early work at the Centre and his simulation results. Setting it aside to look through later, Sydney picked up the second, noticing that it was dated 4/13/70, and, with a shudder of premonition he was unable to suppress, the psychiatrist replaced the box on the floor and opened the booklet on his desk.

The first sheet was dated July 3, 1965, and it contained measurements of a child. The paper bore a rough sketch of a familiar-looking neuro-electric chair, scribbled notations along the margins suggesting it was being sized down to fit a child. As Sydney's eyes traveled back to the date on the top right-hand corner, he suddenly realized why it looked so familiar. It was only two weeks before the experiment Raines had performed on Rebecca, and Sydney's right hand clenched into a fist as the anger rose in him.

In an attempt to dispel it, he turned to the next page. This, dated 4/14/70, contained medical documentation, the observations carried out by a nurse on SL-27 of an individual Sydney had to assume was Angelo. The observations continued for almost two weeks, ending in medical notations made in Raines' handwriting.

It is believed that Angelo will show no further improvement in his current condition, and is unlikely to be of any further use to the Proteus Project. This was a calculated risk of Project Harpocrates, and I cannot feel that an error has been made in allowing the project to go ahead. We can now begin to explore the potentials that Angelo's new mental and physical state provides us with. WR.

Sydney lifted his head to stare blankly at the opposite wall, eyes kindling with anger. To treat a defenseless child in that manner, to coldly calculate the risks of such an operation, with the knowledge of what it might do to him, the state it might leave him in, and to be happy, even satisfied, with such horrendous results -- Sydney was unable to fully express his feelings at this discovery, worsened by the knowledge that there was nobody at whom he could direct his anger. Raines was dead, and to bring such things to the attention of the Chairman would be the signing of his, Sydney's, own death warrant.

His eyes scanned the information once again, alighting on the name of the project. Something caught inside Sydney as a sneer curled his lip. Harpocrates. He could see how, to Raines' twisted sense of humor, the name would have seemed gloriously appropriate, considering his accurate prediction of the results of the experiment. Harpocrates -- the Greek God of silence and secrets. The anger rose in the psychiatrist again as he leaned back in the chair, staring at the wall of his office for a moment, before returning his eyes to the paperwork. Closing the folder, his hands trembling, not from the after-effects of the stroke, but from his own emotions, Sydney pushed it aside, wishing he could do the same with such ease to his own feelings of nausea.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Jarod thoughtfully rocked back on his heels, watching Jordan and Jacob play with the toys. In the water, the bruises and scars were clearly visible, evidence of the harsh treatment that the boy had undergone. The child crowed with delight as Jordan filled a cup with warm water and tipped it over his head, giggling as the water ran down his face.

"Again!" Jacob cried eagerly, his eyes bright and, for the first time, free of fear. "Again!"

As Jordan obliged, Jarod soaped the loofah and rubbed it gently over the little body, watching the child giggle again at the ticklish sensation. Handing the loofah to Jordan so that he could finish washing the last of the basement grime off the boy, Jarod rose to his feet and left the room, returning after a few moments with the clothes that his father had given him. As he put them on the floor, Jarod picked up a towel.

"Let's see how these fit, shall we?"

Jordan helped the child out of the water, draining the bathtub as Jarod wrapped a towel around the small body and began to dry him thoroughly. When that was done, Jarod picked up the clothes, gently helping the child to don them.

Once he was finished, Jarod got to his feet, visually examining the boy and feeling a strange tightening of his throat. The clothes fit perfectly, the child's emaciated frame making him look more like four than six years old, and Jarod knew that this was the picture his parents would have carried in their heads of him for 33 years. Picking up the boy, Jarod held him so that the child was on eye level with the man.

"Do you trust us, Jacob?"

The expression in the boy's eyes became instantly wary, but he slowly nodded.

Jarod turned to the younger man, who had been watching this scene silently. "Son, would you ask your grandfather to come to your room?"

"Sure thing." Jordan opened the door and left the apartment, heading for Major Charles' room, while Jarod carried Jacob into the bedroom. Sitting down on Jordan's bed, the man looked at the child.

"Jacob, you don't have to be scared of that person, any more than you're scared of Jordan or me."

"B-but he yells," the child stammered fearfully, tears welling in his eyes as his fingers tightened around the collar of the shirt Jarod wore. "He yells like Sir did."

"He yelled once, because he was unhappy with Jordan," Jarod corrected gently, unfastening the thin, cold fingers and trapping them in his warm ones. "But he won't do it again."

Looking at the man in the doorway, Jarod could see the pain in his father's eyes as he gazed at the boy sitting on his son's lap. Smiling sadly, Jarod turned to the child on his knee.

"Do you trust me, Jacob?"

The child's fingers tightened around his, turning his gaze from the face close to him to that in the doorway, eyeing the sad expression in the man's eyes and the faint smile on his lips, before Jacob once more looked at Jarod and, very slowly this time, once more nodded his head.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Picking up the box again, Sydney noticed that it contained a number of sheets of printed data, names and addresses. The first name that caught his eye was 'Dragon House,' with the name Zeus alongside it, and Sydney reached over to his filing cabinet, producing a sheet on which was a list of coded names for all the Files, which Broots had given him several weeks earlier. Zeus, he understood almost immediately, was the code for Kyle, and Sydney flipped through the other pages, rapidly matching names with safe-houses.

Orpheus - Pine Ridge in Virginia, Minnesota. Orpheus was the code-name for Damon.
Achilles - Catherine Close in Hamilton, Alabama. That would be Mason.
Shiva - Ellinbank in Ulysses, Kansas. That was Yuri.

Page after page contained details of the various houses, including their accessibility from the ground and the air. Scribbled notations showed the dates on which they had been used, all on more than one occasion. Suddenly, gathering the pages together, Sydney turned his chair so that he could reach the scanner set up on the table behind him. Copying the data took only a few minutes and, while it was happening, Sydney once more examined the box. One sheet of paper remained, facedown, and, turning it over, the psychiatrist took note of the smudges and marks that suggested the page had been well handled. When his eyes fell on the name of the safe-house, however, Sydney understood.

Angel Manor.

It was the place Timmy had been taken, before being brought to the Centre. As a remnant of the past that he was perhaps able to recall, if only faintly, Sydney was left in no doubt that this was one of his most treasured pieces of information. Slipping the page into the scanner, he saved the details to a disk. Replacing the pages in the box, he stored the simulation results in a section of the filing cabinet in which he kept information about Angelo before picking up the box and carrying it to the elevator to return it to the empath.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

His now-short hair shining in the light, Jacob curled up at Jarod's feet as the man sat on the sofa in the living room that led off Jordan's bedroom, reading through the pages of material Jordan had purloined from the cellar at Cox's house. The boy's eyes were trained fearfully on to the two people talking quietly in the far corner of the room, one claw-like hand clutching Jarod's ankle, as the man absent-mindedly stroked his hair.

As Jacob was about to turn his attention to the man on the couch, the woman rose to her feet and headed towards the doorway that led to the hall. The man she had been talking to, after watching her leave, stood and began walking towards the sofa. Instantly, Jacob climbed up to throw himself into Jarod's arms, trying to hide behind the cushions. Allowing the papers to fall to the floor, Jarod curled his arms around the emaciated shoulders, preventing the child from falling off the sofa.

Yuri sighed as he eyed the man and boy. "We need to talk."

"It's okay, Jacob," Jarod soothed, ignoring the comment. "He's safe."

The younger man cast a glance around the otherwise empty room, before grinning. "You sure about that, Jarod?"

"Probably," the older man amended immediately, not turning his eyes from the terrified boy's face. When the fear didn't abate, Jarod raised his voice. "Jordan? Will you come here, son?"

When the young man appeared in the doorway of his bedroom a few seconds later, a drowsy expression in his eyes suggesting that he had been sleeping, Jacob squirmed out of Jarod's arms, running over to the older boy and trying to hide behind him. Picking up Jacob, Jordan watched as Jarod got off the sofa and opened the door that Emily had shut behind her, letting the younger Pretender go out ahead of him and nodding to his clone before also leaving the room.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Miss Parker drummed her fingers on the desk as he looked at the man seated opposite her.

"So, if your brother's safe, why are you still sending information to Berlin?"

Panic flashed briefly in the man's eyes before they were lowered in the direction of the floor, but he remained mutinously silent. Morgan waited for a moment before slamming her fist on the desk.

"Answer me, Sam!"

"It wasn't going to Leiden," the man mumbled.

"Then who?" she hissed, eyes narrow.

Even as she asked the question, a man's face flashed into her mind, along with the words he had spoken.

We don't seem so capable when intercepting messages as you here in Blue Cove.

"Was it Peter Winston?" she demanded suddenly, receiving confirmation in the way Sam's head snapped up and he stared at her in disbelief.

"H…how did you…?"

"I just did," Morgan told him. Leaning back in the chair, she folded her arms and eyed him thoughtfully. "Now, what are we going to do with you, Sam?"

* * * * * * * * *

Dallas, Texas

Yuri turned to Jarod when they were some distance from the building, watching the older man gazing up at the sky, as the sun began to sink towards the horizon.

"I… Thank you," he offered, somewhat awkwardly.

"Do you believe me now, Yuri?" Jarod responded softly, still not looking at the other man. "Do you believe me when I say that some people are worth saving?"

The younger man's eyes hardened. "The only thing this has shown me is that there are some people who'll do anything to forward their careers." Scooping up a clod of hard-baked Texas clay, he crushed it to dust in the palm of his hand, letting the splinters of gravel blow away through his fingers.

Jarod eyed him peripherally. "You mean Lyle?"

"I mean Cox," Yuri spat. "What kind of a sick individual does what he did to that kid?"

Rightly perceiving this to be a hypothetical question, Jarod didn't answer it directly.

"People might say that the same thing was done to us," he suggested quietly.

"It was nothing like what we went through," Yuri shot back immediately, his hands clenched in tight fists and stuffed into the pockets of his jacket. "I'm not blind," he growled, after a moment of silence. "Even not being able to get anywhere near the kid, I could see what Cox's done to him. All those bruises and cuts. And it wouldn't even be Jacob's fault if he couldn't do what Cox wanted him to…"

Jarod's eyebrows rose at this. "What do you mean?"

Yuri sighed deeply before turning to face the older man.

"Raines made me do some research into cloning, I guess not very long after Jordan was born. I was working with the material you put together, and my job was to figure out future stages -- defects that might occur, ways to correct them…" Trailing off, Yuri glared at the ground before finishing in hard tones. "And the possibility of cloning clones."

Jarod's tones were full of horror. "You think…"

"I can't say for sure," Yuri interrupted. "But I had a look at the notes Jordan took when he got Jacob out of Cox's cellar, and several of them use codes that I created for the work Raines had me do. It doesn't make any sense that Cox would have used those terms and codes if he was simply cloning you again. There had to be a reason for it, and the only one I can think of is that Jacob isn't you, or not directly. He's Jordan."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sam looked up from an examination of the floor he had recommenced after the woman's question to find Miss Parker gazing coolly at him, one eyebrow slightly raised, her arms still crossed over her chest. When she realized that she had his attention, Morgan straightened and rested her elbows on the desk, leaning her chin on her fingers.

"Of course you know that I'll be checking up on this story of yours."

Nodding, Sam reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and produced a thin roll of paper. "If you went looking, this is all you'd find," he told her. "When I talked to my brother about it, he said that I should give it all to you. In fact," the sweeper added, smiling faintly. "He said I ought to have told you from the start."

Accepting the pages, the woman fixed him with a steely look.

"Do you trust me, Sam?" Morgan demanded suddenly.

He looked startled. "Well, o…of course, Miss Parker."

"I don't want 'of course,'" she told him. "If I gave you an order, without any reason for it, would you trust me to have given you the right one?"

The man straightened in his seat, understanding the test of loyalty. "Yes," he replied quietly. "Yes, I would."

"Good." Morgan's previously stern expression relaxed somewhat. "And now, at least, I know I can rely on you."

Sam shot her an interrogative look. "Miss Parker?"

"Some people would call it blackmail," she explained. "I prefer to think of it as encouragement. If I find that you've betrayed the trust I'm going to place in you from now on, always assuming this backs up everything you've said," she tapped the sheets, "you'll find yourself reported to the Chairman for betraying the Centre."

Rising to his feet, Sam's eyes were free of the haunted expression they had held for the past few days as he nodded once in agreement. "I understand, Miss Parker."

Producing a sheet of paper, which contained the first threat they had found, she placed it on the desk in front of her. "A message will be sent to the people who were threatening you, with the suggestion that they desist at once. And, if you'd like," she eyed Sam closely, "I can also arrange for someone to keep an eye on your home when you're not there, to make sure that nothing happens to your family."

"I would appreciate that, Miss Parker."

"Good." She smiled. "And now, I've got something for you to do. You have several hours until you should be going home, I believe."

"Yes, ma'am," he agreed at once. "I was supposed to have been on duty, but…"

"But your schedule was changed so we could get to the bottom of this," she interrupted. "For the next couple of hours, then, I'd like you to put your 'better than the average man' martial arts skills to the test." She raised her voice slightly. "Broots, come in here."

"You want me to teach him?" the sweeper suggested, unsurprised at the revelation that the technician had been listening to the conversation, and his boss nodded.

"Yes, I do. I may also get you to keep instructing him in other areas, too. You have more time for that sort of thing than I do at present."

Broots sidled into the room, his face devoid of color, having overheard the discussion. "Miss Parker, I…"

"You said you worked better under pressure," Morgan reminded him, her eyes twinkling. "And I think Sam could put you under pressure even better than I could."

"Of course, Miss Parker," the sweeper agreed, straightening to attention and waiting for a sign from her before he turned. At the doorway, however, and with a hand on the other man's arm, he suddenly turned back. "Thank you."

She smiled again. "Earn it, Sam."

"I will, Miss Parker."

As the sweeper opened the door, however, Broots wriggled himself free from the other man's grip and turned.

"Miss Parker, Sydney said there was something important that he wanted to talk to you about. He asked if you'd go and see him when you were done here."

Morgan nodded. "Thank you, Broots." She suddenly grinned. "Have a good session."

She could hear the audible groan as the door closed.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

"How's Emily?"

"Sleeping," Jarod replied as he came into the living area of his apartment, to be greeted with this question. "But she's fine, or will be when she wakes up." He sat in an armchair opposite the man, speaking before the other Pretender did. "Dad's in Dallas, buying clothes for Jacob, and Jacob and Jordan are playing in their room. They won't hear us." He fixed Yuri with a firm look. "When are you going to tell Emily who you are?"

"I'm not," the younger man retorted, shooting a glance at the door to make sure that Jarod had shut it.

"My sister isn't stupid," Jarod stated bluntly. "And she's investigating the Executioner murders -- your murders. How long do you think it's going to take for her to figure out the connection: that wherever you are, someone somehow connected to the Centre dies."

"You didn't tell her," Yuri queried curiously. "Why not?"

Jarod examined the carpet for a moment. He knew his reasons for what he had, or rather had not done. But he also know that Yuri would find it difficult to empathize with, or even understand them, unless…

The older Pretender's lips twitched faintly as he looked up. "You tell me," he responded. "You tell me my reasons."

The other man raised his hands in a gesture of helplessness. "I can't…"

Jarod folded his arms, lounging back in his chair and crossing his ankles in front of him, a grin that he was unable to suppress on his face. "You can, and you know it. Become me. After all, that's what we were both trained to do, Yuri. I had to put myself in your place -- and it wasn't a particularly fun experience, I may as well tell you. Now it's your turn."

Yuri looked away, unable to cope with the expression of frank amusement in Jarod's face. As he did so, however, his mind slipped into the processes that he had learnt of its own accord, and he felt himself taking on the aspects of the other man that usually afforded him the most grounds for mockery, ever since reading about them in the files he had uncovered about the Centre's most successful Pretender.

The younger man felt his shoulders straighten, his head going up, in the posture Jarod that generally adopted, very different from his own habit of slouching. Yet at the same time there was a burden on his soul, the weight of the guilt Jarod carried around with him every day, the knowledge that his actions had hurt people, or contributed to their deaths. The determination not to needlessly hurt or torment people, either physically or emotionally, that Yuri had noticed during their planning to rescue Emily, seemed to become an important part of him, and it gave him an insight into the solution he sought. A reason for Jarod's failure to reveal Yuri's identity to Emily flashed into his mind; one that he instinctively knew was the right one

"You couldn't," he stated slowly. "There wasn't time when we first got there, in case one of the sweepers came back, and afterwards you knew that, if I hadn't come to find you, you might never have managed to free her, and there's hasn't been a 'right' moment since." Yuri paused for a moment. "That, and you don't want to hurt her with the truth."

Jarod raised an eyebrow, somewhat surprised at the other man's depth of understanding, but nodded in agreement. Forcing away the feelings inside him, Yuri stood and walked over to the screen showing the outside world, staring blankly out at the gathering darkness.

"My sister thinks you're pretty special," Jarod remarked. "I hope I won't regret asking this, but I'd like to know your plans for her."

The older Pretender waited for a response, but there was none.

"The Centre doesn't just 'get rid of' somebody unless they view them as completely useless," Jarod continued after a moment of awkward silence. "Now, I know Raines' reasons for having you tossed out of a limo in the middle of nowhere. If you've suddenly discovered a well of emotion inside the heart that all my lessons in biology taught me must be in there somewhere, and if my sister's the cause of that, then we're going to need to make sure nobody associated with the Centre ever finds it out. Because Lyle had no plans to let Emily go once they had me, and they definitely wouldn't let her go if they could use her as leverage to make you do what they wanted."

"I know," Yuri snarled impatiently. "What's the point of this lecture?"

"How much of what you said to me when you appeared in my apartment did you mean?" Jarod queried, with understandable curiosity. "Do you really care about her? Do you care enough to make sure that she was out of danger, no matter what happened to you? Although it may not have seemed like it, we came pretty close to being caught today. Would you try to protect her, even if it endangered your own freedom?"

"I… I don't know!" Yuri protested. "I've never felt about anyone the way I feel about Emily. She isn't like any other woman I've ever met. But I don't know what to call this -- I don't even really know how I feel."

Jarod stood up and walked over to stand in front of the other man, meeting his gaze steadily, his voice quiet.

"Then I suggest you find out," he stated evenly. "The Centre's used my emotions against me for my entire life, and I know how to avoid most of their traps and pitfalls. You don't. And if you really cared for Emily, you'd walk away from her right now, rather than putting her in that sort of danger."

Yuri eyed him. "You mean Zoe?"

"Not only," the other man retorted. "Although she was one instance, yes. Fortunately for me, I had my dad to help. You don't, Paul. And I hope you never have to face the sort of choice that I did, because, to be totally blunt, I don't think you could cope with it."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Miss Parker arrived at the doorway to Sydney's office to find him putting files in his briefcase. As she tapped on the door, he looked up.

"Did you get my message?"

"Yes." She stepped into the office. "Going home?"

"I was planning to." He smiled somewhat sheepishly. "I've had a long few days, with probably more walking than is good for me right now."

Morgan eyed him sternly. "And does this discussion have to happen here?"

"No," he admitted, the smile changing to one of amusement. "It doesn't."

"Good." She placed a hand on the case. "Do you have everything?"

Nodding, Sydney seized the cane from its place on the back of his chair, watching the woman shut the briefcase, pick it up and gesture for him to lead the way out of the office.

* * * * * * * * *

19 Wilson Boulevard
Blue Cove, Delaware

"Carly!"

Sam took off his jacket as he walked through the door, draping it over the chair in the hallway and venturing towards the rear of the house as he loosened his tie.

"Anyone home?"

His wife appeared in the doorway, smilingly holding a finger to her lips. "I've just put Megan to bed, Sam. Keep it down to a dull roar, okay?"

He swept her into his arms. "Call the sitter, Mrs. Arnold. We're going out for dinner."

She raised an eyebrow. "What happened to you?"

"His baby brother was right, again," a laughing voice stated from behind the man. "Gotta hate that, don't you, Sammy?"

The sweeper spun around, staring at Alastair, who leaned against the doorframe, arms folded and his eyes twinkling with laughter, before Sam pulled his brother into a crushing embrace.

On to Act IV

 
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