Flying High

 

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September 25, 2001
The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney walked slowly into his office, placing the notes he had written of his most recent session with each of the Seraphim caretakers on the desk. He hated what he was doing now, knowing that Jarod was only a few floors away, yet far beyond his reach. But then, it wouldn’t have mattered if they had allowed him in. The Jarod in that room wasn’t the man he had worked with and been proud of for so long.

Aurora had taken care of that.

Sitting down in the chair, the psychiatrist sank his head into his hands with a groan, briefly closing his eyes, trying to force from his mind the images that he had seen on the DSA that he had made the mistake of asking Broots to retrieve for him. Opening his eyes again Sydney stared at the fine wood grain of the desk, running his hand over the smooth surface.

Then he saw the note pushed under his blotter, only one corner of which was visible.

He looked around carefully before pulling it out. There were no surveillance cameras in his office, or so Miss Parker had assured him. But now he had to wonder, too, if Miss Parker was the same person he had thought she was for so long. Regardless, he pulled out the slip of paper and read through the sentences it contained, lowering the paper again to stare blankly at the surface of his desk once more.

Glancing at his watch, Sydney knew that he could consider himself finished for the day, and so, clearly, did the person who had left him the note. Standing, he pushed the paper into his pocket and then collected his things. Getting into the elevator, he resolutely put a finger on the button for SL-14.

His visit to the chemistry labs went unchallenged and took only a matter of minutes. It would take a lot longer to get to the post box in Maryland, but he did have all night.

Sydney found himself staring blankly at the steering wheel when he eventually got in the car. This action should have galvanized him with a sense of purpose. The items he had gathered and was going to leave at the post box identified by the spare key that had been taped onto the back of the note would at least be a start to help with the withdrawal.

There was just one small problem to be overcome first. Jarod's father had to trust him again. That was potentially risky enough in itself.

According to the note, Ethan had already made contact with Jarod's father and the clone whom he understood they had named Jordan. That probably meant they would be ready for what they needed to do, whenever Jarod got out of the Centre.

Always assuming that the Major would trust Ethan, and that was a problem in itself. But, as long as he did, they would be ready when Jarod was out.

And then there was another problem that Sydney hadn’t reckoned on during his initial calculations -- the problem that Jarod wouldn’t be willing to leave when the time came anyway.

Two comparatively small problems and one huge one.

Eyeing the glass test tubes for a moment, Sydney turned back to the road. He reached the phone booth specified on the note and went into it, still clutching the scrap of paper. For a few moments he stared at the mechanism before lifting the receiver, inserting the coins and dialing the number.

* * * * * * * * *

Present Day
International Departures Hall, John F. Kennedy Airport
New York, NY, USA

“Have you got everything you need, Jarod?”

“I think so.” Jarod looked at the bag he carried and shrugged. “If not, I’ll just have to do without, I guess.”

“You can buy things there.” There was a glint of amusement in his father’s eye. “It’s not that much of a backwater.”

“Hey, I know nothing about it.” Jarod's tone was resentful. “I’m only being sent there, remember?”

“Well, I bought this for you, so that you could do a little research on the plane.” Charles pushed a book into his son’s hand. “It’s great -- but I don’t know how much you should believe.”

Jarod glanced at the book. “Bill Bryson. Down Under.” He looked up and tried to smile. “Thanks, Dad.”

Jordan eyed the information board and then Jarod. “Your flight’s just started to board.”

He nodded. “I should go.”

Major Charles gave him a slip of paper. “That’s the cell-phone number of the person who’s meant to meet you in Melbourne and the other number is her parents if she doesn’t answer.” He hugged his son. “Call us any time, okay?”

“I will, Dad.” Jarod hugged Jordan. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Back before you know it.”

“Take your time. Enjoy the break.”

“Look after yourselves.”

“We will, son.”

Jarod picked up the bag, looked once more at his family and walked through the doors.

* * * * * * * * *

Over the Pacific Ocean

It was dark on the airplane when Jarod opened his eyes, glancing around at the other passengers drowsily for a few moments before rousing fully and turning to lift the small plastic window shade beside him. Being night outside, it didn’t make a lot of difference but provided enough illumination for him to consult his watch and learn that he’d only had two hours’ sleep. Aurora had given him a chance to get some of the best sleep that he could remember; Jarod knew it would take time before his body could readjust to his earlier sleeping patterns. Particularly, he thought wryly, since it was supposed to be mid-day, rather than three o’clock in the morning as it was at his destination. Knowing that more sleep was impossible, regardless of how tired he felt, he put a hand into his bag and took out the book his father had given him. Examining the cover, he eyed each of the objects on it, able to recognize some but staring in complete bewilderment at others. The big, red thing that sat in the middle was the most puzzling.

“It’s Uluru.”

Jarod turned to the man in the seat next to him who had noticed the confused expression on his face. “And that is?”

“Oh, you’re a Yank.” The man grinned. “Know anything about geology?”

“Bits and pieces.”

“It’s the world’s biggest monolith.” The stranger gave a proud smile that spoke volumes for his patriotism. “Also the world’s most photographed.”

“Why would anyone photograph a rock?”

He shrugged, grinning. “Because it’s there, I guess. Been Down Under before?”

“Uh, where?”

“Down Under. It’s another name for Australia, you know, where the plane’s intending to land.” He laughed. “If you were aiming for a different destination, it’s a little late for you to change your mind now, but you could go and ask the captain.”

Jarod managed a faint grin in reply. “No, that’s where I’m headed.”

“Probably lucky. It’s a long way to swim back. So what will you be doing?”

“Just taking a break,” he answered cautiously. “Several people were worrying that I was working too hard.”

“I know the feeling,” the other man replied. “Well, you’ve certainly picked the best place on earth for it. You’ll leave there a changed man.”

“That,” Jarod responded solemnly, “is most definitely the plan.”

* * * * * * * * *

Lincoln Grove
Delaware, USA

The door of the car opened and the man slid into the passenger seat, glancing over at the man who sat behind the wheel. The second figure spoke softly.

“Well?”

“He got away okay. He wasn’t too happy about it, but it’s important to get him out of here, at least for the next few weeks.”

Sydney nodded. “What did he take with him?”

“Enough of that drug to help him with the withdrawal symptoms for the next two weeks. If he stays longer, she knows the composition and she said that someone can make more up for her.”

“And Jordan?”

“He’s getting over it. It wasn’t easy for him and he had some bad hours while Jarod was initially recovering, but that’s eased. He’s been better since the plane took off.”

The psychiatrist looked somewhat amused. “No matter how great the distance between them is, the connection they have won’t be affected.”

“Except in his mind,” Major Charles reminded the other man. “And that makes a big difference.”

“Granted.” Sydney stared thoughtfully through the windshield for a few moments and then turned to the other man. “You will let me know how he gets on?”

“Don’t you think he’ll contact you?”

“Not yet.” Sydney's fingers drummed the steering wheel impatiently. “Jarod won’t want to get in touch with anyone from the Centre for the next week or two. The pull of Aurora is still too strong. You’re a much safer option. He knows you helped him to get over it.”

“And you were the one who supplied the necessary medication, or at least made it available for collection at the post box when we needed it.”

“It was Angelo’s suggestion and Jarod doesn’t know I did it,” the psychiatrist reminded him. “Did he…?”

“He never asked and, as you suggested, I never offered the information.” Charles’ eyes softened. “Don’t you think he ought to be told? He needs to know that you played a part in this too - a very important part.”

For a moment Sydney was tempted, but then old habits reasserted themselves and he shook his head. “No, it’s more important that he knows what you did, what all three of you did. We had our chance. It’s time for him to build a future with his family. I can’t teach him who he is. Not anymore. It’s your turn now.”

On to Act I

 
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