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Present Day
Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Jarod finished the lullaby and tucked the covers more closely around Jacob's small body, gently smoothing his hair, as two thin arms came up to drowsily embrace him.

"Will Jordan come soon?"

"In a while," Jarod promised the boy softly. "You go to sleep now and in the morning you can play with him, okay?"

"Uh huh." Jacob's dark head nodded once on the pillow, snuggling down for his first night in a proper bed, and he obediently closed his eyes. Jarod straightened up and retreated to the doorway, feeling his throat tighten as he looked down at the child, the innocence of the small face, marred by the numerous bruises that revealed moments in which Cox had lost control of his temper and had taken it out on this blameless human being.

Turning, he almost closed the bedroom door, knowing that a small nightlight he had borrowed from the nursery would be sufficient to illuminate the room. Silently he nodded to his sister, who sat on the sofa, reading, before entering his own apartment.

Through the half-open door to his bedroom, Jarod could see the small bed in which his baby son slept. The child was draped across the mattress in his sleep, providing a startling contrast to the scene Jarod had imagined when Jordan had described the scene in Cox's basement, and the man felt a renewed sense of gratitude that Gabriel was free from the life he might have had to live at the Centre, able to retain his innocence and confidence, instead of being as full of fear as Jacob had become in his six years of life. Walking into the bedroom, he pulled up the blanket that had been pushed down to the end of the bed by the small feet and lovingly spread it over his son. Gabriel moved slightly in his sleep, but relaxed when Jarod gently rubbed a hand against the middle of his back.


Turning, Jarod found Jordan and Yuri in the doorway. He came out into the living room to join them, closing the door after himself, seeing that Jordan was already holding all the research material he had gathered about Jacob. The pure agony that had been in Jordan's eyes when he had fled the room was still there, but it was accompanied by an obvious determination.

"What is it?"

"Can we start this now?" Jordan's hand rapped impatiently on the paperwork he held. "I mean, the sooner we get it done, the better, right?" The young man's voice was crisp, words tumbling out in a stream, his eyes pleading, trying to cope with what had happened in the only way he knew how -- by working.

Jarod hesitated. It wasn't that he didn't want to help the child. But he already felt drained from the work he had done earlier that evening, as well as the lack of sleep from the night before and the tension of rescuing his sister. Jordan, too, despite the short nap he had had, also already looked exhausted. Having intended to arrange a program the next day, Jarod wavered now, but yielded when he saw the pleading expression in Jordan's eyes.

"All right, son." He took a sheet of notepaper out of his pocket, handing it over. "This is what I came up with. Go see what's in Sebastian's lab."

Grabbing the page, Jordan ran out of the room. Jarod could hear his feet pounding down the hall and then a door slam as he obviously decided to use the stairs before the man turned to Yuri.

"Did you tell him?" he asked in a low voice.

"Some," Yuri admitted. "And some I didn't."

Nodding, Jarod was about to follow his son out of the room when Yuri grabbed his arm.

"Jordan wants me to help with Jacob's treatment," the man began hesitantly. "But I won't, if you don't want me to."

"You helped with his conception," Jarod replied, seeing the man flinch at the accusation, although it hadn't been intended as such, as they left the room, headed for the laboratory. "You probably know more about what's needed than I do." In the hallway, however, out of earshot of his sister, he stopped and turned to the younger Pretender. "I want to thank you," he added, "for your help today. I could never have saved Emily on my own."

Without waiting for a response, aware that one wouldn't be forthcoming, Jarod turned and led the way down the hall to the elevator, hearing the silence behind him before Yuri recovered enough to follow him.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod turned from the whiteboard on which they had been making notes about Jacob's diet and exercise to see the door open. Sebastian poked his head around it.

"Have you got a few minutes? We need to talk."

"Sure." Jarod capped the pen and threw it to Yuri. "We're close to being done here anyway. At least for now."

As soon as the door closed behind them, Yuri turned to Jordan. "I want to ask you a favor."

"What is it?"

Yuri tossed the pen from hand to hand, his dark eyes boring into Jordan's. "Don't tell Emily what I said to you before, about being the same as you and being from the Centre. I'd rather tell her that myself."

The young man's brow furrowed. "How come? I mean, it's not like she has no idea of what went on there or anything."

"I know that," Yuri snapped, continuing in a gentler tone. "I just don't feel ready to tell her all that yet. Maybe later, when we've been together for longer, but I don't want her to have that sort of burden yet." The expression in his eyes changed, suddenly seeming to beg for understanding. "Do you get what I mean?"

"Yeah." Jordan nodded, glancing at Yuri's hands, which, white-knuckled, had suddenly tightened around the pen. "Yeah, I understand. Sure, if you don't want me to, I won't say anything, but I think she'd understand. She's pretty cool."

"She's a lot of other things too," the older man added, turning back to the board, firmly steering the conversation back to the original project.

* * * * * * * * *


Ms. Hart cast a hunted look around before entering the building, slipping the key silently into the lock and turning it to enter the apartment. With practice born of long experience, and paranoia from the same cause, she had kept her eyes open during the journey, during which she had criss-crossed the continent, finally believing that she was safe, after so long with no sign.

Shutting the door, she discarded her hat and coat on the bed before walking over to turn on a small heater in the corner of the room. Her single bag of belongings stood in one corner and she placed a small bag of groceries she had purchased beside it. Sitting down in the chair and turning on the television, she sat back and began to flick channels in the hope of finding something that would take her mind off her current situation.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Elizabeth came out of her room into the dark corridor, seeing a glow from under one of the doors further along it, and wandered in that direction. Reaching the doorway, she heard the measured pacing from inside, unsurprised to find that she was outside Jarod's room. Pushing open the door without knocking, to avoid waking the sleeping inhabitant, and stepping inside, she saw the door to the bedroom standing half-open and wandered in that direction. Stopping while still out of sight, she watched as he paced the length of the room, halting at the bed in which Gabriel lay, sound asleep, and watching him for a moment, before turning and beginning his return lap. The woman couldn't help thinking that this had been going on since everyone else had retired to bed.

"Can't sleep?" she suggested, leaning against the doorjamb, her arms folded across her chest.

"Not usually," Jarod admitted with a shrug, turning towards the woman, obviously unsurprised at her appearance. "Not one of the things on my 'Top 10 Most Favorite Ways To Spend A Night.'"

She smiled, stepping into the room. "What do you do, then?"

He shrugged again, turning away and walking over to the small bed in the corner, leaning on the raised side to stare down into the sleeping face of his son.

"What frightens you so much about sleep?" Elizabeth asked softly, walking over to stand behind him. "The same thing Sebastian used to fear?"

"Used to?" He spun around to stare at her. "What do you mean by that?"

"Let me show you." She led the way to the room further down the hall, silently opening the door, seeing the envy in Jarod's eyes as he gazed at the pyrokinetic and his wife. Placing a hand on his arm, she drew him back and closed the door. "I can help you, Jarod," she promised.

"No," he muttered, turning to head back to his room, shoulders slumped. "There's only one thing that could ever help me like that." His hands clenched into fists as he forced down the longing for the drug once again.

"Will you at least let me try?" Elizabeth followed him into the room, sitting beside him on the bed. "Please, Jarod."

"How much do you know?" he growled.

"Everything." She spread her hands in a gesture of demonstration. "What you went through at the Centre, the experiment Lyle and Raines performed, Kodiak Brown, how much Sydney means to you." Elizabeth dimpled at him. "People don't have many secrets in their sleep."

His eyes glinted angrily as he glared at her, but he remained silent and Elizabeth could tell that he was weakening. Finally, with an exhausted sigh, Jarod yielded, running one hand through his hair as he trudged around to the side of the bed, lying down on it and staring blankly up at the ceiling. She sat beside him, placing a gentle hand on each of the fists that lay clenched at his sides, as if he was going to physically fight the demons that haunted him as soon as he closed his eyes.

"Trust me, Jarod," she whispered, reaching up to gently stroke the side of his face as his eyelids slid together. There was a brief struggle before he yielded, the frown he had worn since she had appeared in his room slowly fading.

"Daddy," a small voice plaintively stated, and Elizabeth turned to see the small boy sitting up in bed, his dark brown hair on end. Going over, she picked up the baby, returning to the bedside to pull the blankets over the sleeping man.

"It's all right, Gabriel," she murmured in the boy's ear. "Daddy's okay. He's sleeping."

"Sleep wiv Daddy?" the boy suggested hopefully, and the woman smiled.

"Would you like that, honey?"

"Uh huh."

He nodded eagerly, reaching out to the man with both hands. Elizabeth moved closer to the bed, pausing as the man rolled onto his side, sinking deeper into sleep, before gently placing the baby in his father's arms. Gabriel curled up, snuggling close to the man, so that his head was pressed against Jarod's chin. With a satisfied sigh, the child closed his eyes.

Placing a hand briefly on the boy's head after covering them both warmly, Elizabeth turned away and left the room. She would know if Jarod moved during the night and could return the little boy to his own bed if his father showed signs of becoming restive, but she knew that the experience of waking up with his son in his arms would be one Jarod would carry with him for a long time.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

The door opened and the man entered the room, closing it firmly behind him before taking the vacant seat on the other side of the desk and looking over at the two men opposite him.

"What's the plan?"

"We have to find those children." Cox folded his arms. "It's vital that they be found - and quickly. If not, everything is at stake."

The man opposite couldn't help grinning, lounging in his seat. "You sound just like our beloved Chairman," Valentine remarked. "But no doubt you want my help."

"Why else would you be here?" the third man asked coolly. "Or did you think we were going to broadcast our intentions to the entire building?"

"At almost one o'clock in the morning, there aren't all that many who would hear you," Valentine remarked with a grin. "But I do get your point. Still, there could be a problem or two to go along with it."

"When isn't there?" Cox stated bitterly. "Did you have anything specific in mind?"

"Two 'specifics' actually."

Fenigor raised an eyebrow. "And they are?"

"First, and somewhat ironically, Eve." Valentine reached into the pocket of his shirt and pulled out a folded sheet of paper, tossing it across the desk. "It's a request," he obligingly told the other two men before they had the chance to they read it. "A request for assistance. As well as that, there's the implied suggestion that we work together. At least, that's how I understand it."

Cox looked up, a look of curiosity on his face. "I'm afraid I don't see the problem. You reject the offer - life goes on."

"For some," Valentine laughed. "Eve has a rather nice little plan. She wants my assistance in one specific area -- to get rid of you two. Then she, Mr. Parker and I have a lovely time taking charge of the place and running it according to the way she feels it ought to be run. Oh, yes, and there's wedding plans in there somewhere too, as far as I can make out." He laughed. "Three wives. That should be enough to make anybody suspicious."

"Particularly when they all die untimely deaths," Cox chuckled, eyeing the man opposite. "That is your idea, isn't it? I saw a similar expression on your face before I left South Africa and poor dear Mutumbo copped it."

"But before we get to that, let me guess," Fenigor commented dryly, waving the sheet of paper at the sweeper. "Eve's using the disappearance of the children as further leverage to get rid of both of us."

"Pretty much, yes," Valentine agreed cheerfully. "She's worried that her road to the chairmanship of the Triumvirate is blocked by the two of you, particularly since Jarod escaped again."

"So she should be worried." Cox rested his elbows on the table and entwined his fingers, his eyes firmly fixed on the man opposite. "What's the other problem?"

"I found a file that Broots made for Miss Parker just after Jarod escaped again, which has almost every available detail about all of the Files -- Red, Blue and Yellow. I'm not sure precisely why she got him to create the dossiers but they're very extensive."

Fenigor grinned. "Just like her mother, she always was one for wanting answers. I can't say that comes as such a huge surprise to me."

Cox shot a glance at the man beside him. "I'd wonder what she's doing with them, why she wants that information exactly." His lips thinned. "She may be planning to use the influence she has with her father to cut me out of a seat on the Triumvirate."

"So what do you want me to do?" Valentine queried. "Tear the files apart?"

"No," Cox replied thoughtfully. "No, just keep a firm eye on her. Let me know what she gets up to, as soon as she does."

"No problem," Valentine smirked. "It will be a pleasure."

"I'm sure it will," the other man grinned.

"Should I do the same for Eve?"

Cox was about to agree when Fenigor stopped him. "I suspect Eve will be more of a danger than Miss Parker."

Cox eyed the man beside him. "Why do you say that?"

"Eve knows more about what's going on here - at all levels. Miss Parker has the security details, of course, but that's as far as it goes. Eve's information is more in-depth - thus more dangerous. The fact that's she so close to the Chairman is also a concern." The older man leaned back in the black padded leather chair. "I can really only foresee a single way to remove that danger."

"Remove Eve."

"Quite." Fenigor turned to Valentine. "What's your price?"

"Protection," the man responded seriously. "Your protection. As you said, Eve is very close to the Chairman and if he found that I was responsible for anything happening to her, my future might be as limited as hers."

"That's a very good point," Cox commented. "What's your suggestion?"

"A scapegoat." The man smirked. "Yuri. We've already got indications that he's wiping out people who are supporting the Centre. Maybe it's time he was seen to strike a little closer to home. For a person as paranoid as the Chairman is rapidly becoming, this could be the final straw…"

"And then the way is cleared for us even further," Cox finished. "I like it a lot. Very well, Valentine, we will both provide you with a nice, watertight alibi for the time that you will be disposing of our colleague, Eve."

"And the pleasure," Valentine assured them as he rose to his feet, hiding a grin at the success of his plan and pocketing the 'request' he had earlier forged, "will be all mine."

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

Yuri silently opened the door of the first room, seeing the man lying in bed, his face peaceful, with the small boy curled up in his arms. The sound of deep breathing filled the room, and Yuri shut the door as noiselessly as he had opened it, slipping through the dividing door between the living rooms and opening Jordan's bedroom door.

His eyes traveled immediately to the mattress in the corner, brow furrowing when he saw that it was empty. Shooting a quick glance around the room, he finally saw the small, dark hump on the bed, Jacob curled up against Jordan's legs. As the man watched, Jordan stretched down a hand, despite being still sound asleep, to touch the small weight on his feet.

Feeling something painful twist inside him at the sight, Yuri turned away, pulling the door almost shut after him and leaving the apartment. His feet carried him quickly along the hallway, but at the doorway of the room Emily had been assigned for the night, he paused, looking in through the partly open doorway to where she lay, also sleeping. Then his eyes traveled along to the room he had been allocated. He didn't want to go in there.

He knew Jarod hadn't been deliberately vindictive during the discussion about possible treatment for Jacob, but every word the older Pretender had said about the child's condition seemed to sink into Yuri's heart, making it difficult to breathe. He leaned against the wall, trying to identify the emotion, but it wasn't until he remembered adopting Jarod's personality traits that he could put a name to it.

So this was what guilt really felt like.

It was unlike anything he'd ever felt before, with a sudden, suffocating pain Yuri thought he could never rid himself of. He felt anger bubble up in him like an old friend, rage at the way his results had been used in such a devastating manner. Suddenly he wanted to strike out, and instinctively avoided the door he stood beside, making his way down the hall to the stairs and running down them, choosing to stop at a random level. By chance, he found himself stepping through a door into a large room filled with punching bags and weights, padded mats scattered on the floor.

Yuri looked down at the clothing he wore, knowing it wasn't ideal and would restrict his movement a little, but right now he didn't care, not even bothering to warm up as he struck out at a punching bag with all his might. A memory of his urge to leave a permanent mark on Lyle for taking Emily boiled up in him again, along with Jarod's refusal to allow him to hurt anyone, and the force of his punches and kicks doubled, leaving him breathless but still unable to shake the weight on his soul. Closing his eyes, letting his instinct tell him where the bag was, he expended every ounce of energy, ignoring the tears that slid out from between his closed eyelids.

* * * * * * * * *

25 Washington Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware

It was still dark when Morgan opened her eyes, remembering immediately where she was and all that had happened the day before. Faint sounds suggested that the other occupant of the house was up, and, pulling on the bathrobe, which had somehow draped itself over the end of the bed, although she had a vague memory of letting it fall to the floor before she crawled between the sheets, she slid her feet into her slippers as she got up and made her way down the stairs.

Her father sat at the kitchen table, an open shoebox on the table beside him and sheets of paper scattered around it.

"Did you sleep at all?" she queried, somewhat surprised to see him fully dressed.

"For a while." Sydney half-turned, smiling. As she placed her hand on his shoulder, he covered it with his own, squeezing gently. "How did you sleep?"

"Fine." She sat down beside him and poured some herself some coffee.

"I was going to wake you soon anyway," the man told her. "I want to get to the Centre early, so I can check on Angelo. Kim's coming at seven to pick me up."

Morgan leaned her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her fingers as the rich, Colombian beverage filled the kitchen with its fragrance.

"Do you think Angelo knows?"

"I don't think we have any way of knowing what your brother really understands," the psychiatrist replied thoughtfully. "But I'd say it's possible."

She nodded slowly, suddenly turning to him. "Were you planning to tell anyone?"

"Do you really think that would be wise?" Sydney placed his mug on the table. "After all, thanks in part to the assumed connection you have with the Chairman, you hold a powerful position which allows you to see and know a great deal about what really goes on. If it were revealed that you aren't who most people believe you to be, your whole future, to say nothing of your life, could be in jeopardy." The man smiled, reaching over to gently squeeze her hand. "Besides, Morgan, just because nobody else knows, that doesn't change the fact, does it?"

"Of course not," she agreed softly. "I'd just like other people to know, that's all. That I'm not one of them. It already sets me on edge when they call me 'Parker.' I can't wait for the day when I can be called by my real name."

"We didn't set the rules of the life we live by," Sydney responded thoughtfully. "But unless we play along, we run the risk of losing, and we can't afford for that to happen." He lifted her fingers to his lips, hiding the fact that they were trembling. "I don't want to lose you like we lost your mother." Reaching forward, he brushed the backs of his fingers down her cheek. "But I'm looking forward to that day too, Morgan. I'm so proud of you. I always was, even before I knew the truth."

His daughter smiled and leaned over to gently kiss her father's cheek before leaving the kitchen to get dressed.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas

The man felt hands shaking him as a weight was removed from his chest and forced himself to roll over, away from them. He was still tired and hoped that whoever it was would leave him alone for another hour or two.

"Go 'way."

"Jarod, wake up," a familiar voice stated in his ear as hands shook him even more vigorously. "It's important."

"It's always important," he grumbled, opening one eye to glare at his sister as he rolled onto his back. "One day it won't be, and I'll be able to sleep in like normal people."

"You're not normal," she reminded him absent-mindedly, sitting down on the bed beside him, her nephew in her arms. "It really is important, Jarod. Paul's gone."

It took the Pretender several seconds to remember who 'Paul' was, but as soon as he did, he lay back against the pillow with a groan.

"I was hoping for World War Three," he complained. "Something earth-shattering."

Gabriel climbed out of Emily's arms and onto Jarod's pillow, playing with his hair and giggling as the man tried to gently bat him away.

"This is important," the woman protested, ignoring both the boy and her brother's actions. "I know he goes off sometimes, but never without saying goodbye."

"Did he write a note or something?"



"Not to me."

"Check my computer," he told her obligingly, closing his eyes again as she stood up and walked over to the table, starting up the program.

"What's the password?"

"S-Y-D-N-E-Y," he responded, picking up his son and placing him on his chest, beginning to play a game of peek-a-boo. "Well?" he asked after a moment of silence from his sister. "Anything?"

"He said he got a lead on a story. He'll call once he's got some answers." She turned in the chair to look at him. "Why did he send this to you and not me?"

Jarod shrugged, sitting up with Gabriel in his arms. "No idea. You'll have to ask him that when he calls you." He smiled. "Don't worry, Em. He can take care of himself."

She eyed him skeptically but didn't have a chance to comment, looking around as the bedroom door opened and Jordan stuck his head around it.

"Are you awake?"

"No, son," Jarod remarked sarcastically. "I'm only awake when I've got my eyes closed, didn't you know?"

The young man grinned, pushing the door wider and waving Jacob into the room. The child held back until Jordan lifted him onto the bed, greeting Jarod with a hug and then curling up in the young man's arms as Jordan also sat on the mattress. Jacob immediately began asking Jordan questions about objects in the room as Jarod looked down at Gabriel, seeing the confused expression on the baby face.

"What is it?" he whispered in his son's ear.

Gabriel gazed up at him in bewilderment before pointing at Jordan and Jacob. "Free daddies?"

Sighing, Jarod looked up in time to see Jordan's eyes flash, knowing that he had heard, although Gabriel has spoken softly.

"No," he stated, avoiding the complicated explanation. "This is Jacob."

"It's time for breakfast," Jordan said suddenly, glancing at his watch, before picking up Jacob. "We'll meet you down there, Dad."

"Sure." Jarod watched the two boys leave, noticing that that his sister had also gone, and picked up Gabriel from the end of the bed, heading for the bathroom and a shower and shave.

* * * * * * * * *

25 Washington Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware

Returning to the kitchen, half an hour later, Morgan found it empty. The box sat on the table, a note lying on top of it, informing her that he would see her at work. It was unsigned, underlining to her that he was suffering a similar dilemma to one that had struck her. How would they address each other? Of course, their working salutations wouldn't change, but outside those hours? It was no doubt something that would have to be addressed, but it wasn't a question she could answer on her own, so she turned her attention to the shoebox, aware that Sydney wouldn't have left it there if he hadn't wanted her to look at it.

Taking off the lid, Morgan looked at the photo that lay on top, inhaling sharply as she lifted out the frame, gazing down at the image of her mother and a man she had to assume was Sydney, with a baby held in the woman's arms. She couldn't help eyeing his stance, noting that he kept a small distance between himself and her mother, his arms held firmly at his sides. Standing the frame on the table, she looked again into the box, finding a number of letters, banded with ribbon.

She placed these to one side, surprised at the number in the box, considering that she knew their affair had only lasted for a few months. Briefly, she wondered what had ended it, before pushing aside the thought and peering into the box again. The last object it contained was another photo, but this was almost painfully different from the first. Her mother was in Sydney's arms, looking up into his face, the love she felt for him clearly visible in her eyes. Morgan placed the picture flat on the table, gazing down at the two people and imagining how difficult it must have been for Sydney during the years that had passed, with only this to remind him of all that might have been.

On to Act II

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