Chameleon

 

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MacCaffrey Building

“That was quite a performance last night,” she commented over her coffee. The morning was breezy and cool, and she couldn’t get over her embarrassment of the previous night. “If you missed any of the surveillance devices, I’m sure they got quite a show.”

He nodded. “That was the idea.” Pushing his plate away, no longer interested in the jelly doughnut, he met her eyes. “You sound disappointed. You didn’t think I’d actually --“

“No, of course not,” she cut in. Her face was heating up again. That was exactly what she had thought, that he would take advantage of the situation and find some way to make the intimacy a reality. Instead, he had merely acted the part, convincing her so often that she was completely lost in the fantasy at times.

Jarod smiled. “Good. I did give you my word, you know.” He glanced up at the clear blue sky, took a deep breath of air and fished out his wallet to pay the bill. A waiter appeared instantly to clear away the plates and offer to bring change, which he declined. “Are you ready?”

“Ready for what?” She just couldn’t figure him out. But the more she knew about him, the more she wanted to know.

“To finish what I started. I said I was here to save a life, and as long as you’re willing to keep my secrets, you get to watch.”

“Okay. I’m game. What are we doing?”

“Laying down the parameters of the simulation,” he told her, pushing back his chair. “First, we gather information.”

“Like what?” She drained her cup and stood to follow him out of the café where they had shared breakfast.

“I already have a complete employee list of MacCaffrey Enterprises. I’ve examined the rash of recent deaths of executives, department heads and scientists employed by the company, as well as all the recent hires of new employees, including you. This is only one of the major corporations affected, but it’s the one I chose to investigate.”

“And?”

“Now we take a look into the deaths of those employees working only for the New York based companies. You know a little something about law enforcement…” He grinned broadly and opened the car door for her. “So I’ll expect you to keep up with me.”

An hour later, he was dressed in a cop’s uniform and she wore a flashy, tightly fitting ensemble accented with a pair of gleaming chrome handcuffs pinning her hands behind her. Towing her into a police substation as if she was under arrest, he hauled her past the front desk, into a busy room filled with desks and a hive of uniformed officers hustling suspects to and fro. She whined and cajoled him as he had instructed her, and he harshly reminded her that he was a servant of the law, and not subject to persuasion by her charms.

Sitting her down on a bench with a couple of other handcuffed criminals, he headed for the files and helped himself to a couple of folders. Then he pulled her to her feet again. “Let’s go, sister,” he told her firmly. “Time to get your picture made again.”

Turning down several corridors, he unfastened the cuffs and led her out a rear exit and back to his car.

“Wasn’t that fun?” he beamed, and handed the folders to her.

“Next time, I get to be the cop,” she pouted.

“Well, then, what do you know about forensic medicine?” He started up the car, ignoring her suspicious stare.

“Why?” She opened the first folder and started looking through it. “You are going to give these back, aren’t you?”

“I always do,” he promised. With a chuckle, he added, “Do you want to be the coroner or the corpse?”

After another costume change, he walked her into the County Coroner’s office. Thirty minutes later, they left with the information they had come to liberate, got into his car and headed for Central Park. Jarod stopped off at a hot dog vendor’s cart long enough to buy lunch, and then took Kim to a secluded area where he spread out his purloined files and began to study them.

He wolfed down his hot dog in a few eager bites, and started a monologue as he discovered clues hidden away in the files.

“Some of the deaths I have pegged as natural causes,” he began, and pulled a sheet of paper from his jacket pocket. “Some are probably the honest accidents they appear, but I want to make sure.” He flipped open the police reports, and skimmed quickly through them, pointing out suspicious details. “Let’s check the coroner’s reports now.”

Flipping through photographs, he showed her inconsistencies with what the police reports indicated, and inside an hour, he had determined that three of the four cases were more likely murders than accidents… or the suicide the police had declared, the story that had drawn him there in the first place.

“Not bad,” Kim told him after watching him work. “So you think whoever killed these guys may strike again, is that it?”

“I do. And Angus is the most likely target.”

She was on her feet in a heartbeat, gathering up the folders and stacking them neatly into a pile. “Then let’s go.”

Jarod stayed where he was. “That’s not how this guy works, Kim. We have time yet.”

“You’ve got him figured out,” she reminded her companion. “What else do you need?”

“I’m not sure who he is, just yet. I have to wait for him to make his move before I can catch him.” That wasn’t completely true. He had checked into Al Jergens’ accident and figured out that the man must have picked up Yuri shortly after his ‘release,’ then somehow ended up trying to track down information on him just over a year later. Jergens must have tipped off the former Centre denizen, and Yuri had followed him out there and killed him on the very stretch of road where he’d been saved. Jarod knew Yuri was still sniffing around MacCaffrey Enterprises, and he had suspects in mind, but nothing concrete on any of them yet. He needed a little more information, and then he would be ready to make his move.

Jarod didn’t want Kim to go off half-cocked and get herself in the path of trouble. She was an impulsive woman. That would be in-character for her, and he intended to keep her safe. “Besides, he’s got a plan. He doesn’t just move in for the kill. He’s very careful about how he sets things up. There’s a pattern to who he chooses and why.”

“So why Angus? Why any of these guys?”

His expression darkened. “It has to do with power,” he explained soberly. “The killer chooses those who wield it without mercy, without conscience… or so he perceives them. And even though Angus is a kind man, honest and just, because he holds the reins of the company, he’s the biggest prize of all. The killer will want to take his time with Angus. He’ll want to enjoy making the old man helpless first, before he kills. He'll want him to suffer.”

Kim studied him, her eyes narrowed. “So what do you have in mind? What’s your battle plan?”

Jarod reclined against the grass, closed his eyes and began to reel off one possible plan of action.

When he glanced at Kim to see if she bought the fiction, she was nowhere to be seen. And she had taken the files and his car with her.

* * * * * * * * *

New York City
Elan Hotel

Parker strode purposefully across the huge lobby, coming to a stop in front of the desk. She flashed a photo of Jarod at the clerk, and asked if she had seen the man.

“One moment, please,” the woman smiled, and left to fetch the manager.

Lyle leaned against the counter. “Valentine, how about a newspaper?” he suggested, and his sidekick dutifully left to fetch one from the concierge desk not far away. Turning to his companion, the thumbless man smiled and adjusted his glove. “You certainly were gone a long time last night, sis. Not feeling well?”

She cast him a glare filled with disgust. “Yes. You make me sick, Lyle.”

He chuckled. Valentine returned and offered only one section of the Times, which he proceeded to look through until he found what he wanted. He folded the paper open to that page, then laid it on the counter in plain sight. “Well, I’ve heard that’s a common attribute of siblings,” he mused. “But just so you know, your promotion to SIS has been beneficial to the whole family. You’d be surprised how much weight dropping your name has these days.”

Her gaze fell on the page he so obviously wanted her to see, and she saw the photograph of Michael Steinberg right away. The headline described that the lawyer’s body had been found in his apartment, apparently slain in his own bed. Lyle knew why she had gone there, and either he or Valentine had seen to it that any more information Michael Steinberg had buried would soon be buried with him.

Her belly clenched. Sometimes she forgot how dangerous this man was, until he reminded her. But she would not forget again.

The manager came up to the desk, and Miss Parker tore her eyes away from the newspaper to return to business. She would satisfy those in power that she was still doing her job, but every advance she made toward implementing her mother’s plan took her closer to her own death. And she had a sneaking suspicion that it was standing right beside her.

* * * * * * * * *

MacCaffrey Building

Jarod stepped out of Ms. Destry's car to the sound of rolling thunder signaling an approaching storm. He hoped he wasn’t too late. He thanked her for her generous support, released her from further service and jogged into the building. Trying not to attract attention, he headed straight for the elevator, sweat beading on his upper lip as he watched the floors fly by.

He stepped out into the command center, hurrying toward Angus’s newly resumed corner office. It was empty. The secretary directed him to the guest suites, where he was supposed to be meeting MacCaffrey.

Jarod rushed in, certain now that he had miscalculated the killer’s timetable, aware that he was now a pawn in the game rather than a player.

Angus sat on the sofa beside Kim, his arm around her shoulders protectively. On the coffee table before them, Jarod’s Halliburton sat open, the screen animated with one of his more gruesome simulations. He had been in his early teens at the time, and the psychological damage that pretend left him with made him unable to sleep properly for weeks afterward. Man and woman were riveted by the scene, and did not look up to take notice of his entry into the room.

“Turn it off,” he demanded.

“Let them watch,” said a familiar voice from deeper inside the room. "They've never seen anything like this before. But I have."

Jarod came all the way into the room, glancing to the left to see Rostov perched on the back of an overstuffed chair, the soles of his shoes on the seat cushions. He was just out of sight of the door but close enough to keep his audience where he wanted them, with the aid of a broomhandled Mauser. The pistol never wavered from its target as Jarod moved slowly into the room.

Rostov smiled at him. “You do good work,” he praised. “I was never quite that efficient. I could have been, but I really didn’t want to put myself out. You know?”

“Did you escape, or did they get rid of you, Yuri?” Jarod asked.

Surprise flashed over Rostov’s face. “Oh, my. You are good. I can see why they want you back so badly.” He rose and stepped off the chair, ignoring the screams of the boy in the video. “But you know just how far to go to stay out of their reach, don’t you, Jarod? You let them have a taste now and then to keep them interested in the chase, but you know they’ll never catch you. You’re too smart for that.”

Jarod’s gaze slid to Kim, who was now looking right at him. A small trickle of blood at her hairline oozed down her forehead, and beneath it a dark bruise was starting to color. Her eyes were haunted, but she was not afraid.

“Turn it off,” he ordered her quietly. “You’ve seen enough.”

“I thought they were quite captivated,” Yuri confessed. “Thanks for being away for so long. But then, you had a lot of information to dig up, didn’t you? I expected you to be gone longer, I’ll admit. And I wasn’t expecting Ms. Argent here to be point man. Good thing I’m adaptable.” He grinned, moving toward the window to put Angus between him and Jarod.

“Let them go,” the Pretender ordered softly. “I’ll be much more entertaining than they are.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, my brilliant friend. However, it does surprise me that you want to save garbage like him. Her, I can understand. She’s quite a babe, and obviously a demon in the sack. Or was that all just for show?”

“Every life is worth saving,” Jarod told him, angling toward the sofa. If he stepped directly toward Yuri, he knew that would set the other man off, so he closed the gap by moving diagonally, nearer the hostages. “I should think your time at the Centre would have shown you that. You know what it’s like to feel powerless. Why not help those like you?”

Yuri nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m doing.” He pointed at Angus. “Do you know what his company does? It chews up brilliant people and spits them out when they're all used up. I’m changing things. I’m creating openings where others who aren’t so power-mad can grow into them. I’m righting wrongs, just like you do. We want the same things, Jarod. Only I use a slightly different method than yours. I take the tyrants out of the picture. I keep them from doing more harm. The difference between us is, you make it possible for them to get back into the game.”

“I make it possible for the law to deal with them, as it should,” Jarod corrected. “You can’t exact vengeance yourself. That’s not the way things work.”

“Yeah. Right,” Yuri sneered. “That’s why you gad about terrorizing the bad guys into confessions that won’t hold up in court. Evidence obtained under duress can’t be admitted. Or weren’t you aware of that self-defeating part of the legal system?”

Jarod said nothing for a moment. He always made sure there was enough evidence to convict without those confessions. His track record, as Yuri called it, was clean. Every arrest he had engineered resulted in prison time… but not a one of the admissions of guilt ever made it before a jury. Those were for his satisfaction alone.

“You like putting the screws to the bad guys,” Yuri added. “It’s fun. It’s part of your heritage of pain. Go on, admit it.”

Easing slowly closer, Jarod skimmed his fingers over Kim’s shoulder. She was looking at the screen on the DSA player. Clutched in her hand was one of the little holographic discs. He felt her tense. She was going to move while Yuri’s attention was fixed on Jarod.

He pressed down on her shoulder, hoping she would understand that he wanted her to wait.

“I doubt either one of you truly realizes what you’re doing,” Angus mused softly, his gaze still riveted to the screen. “The people who did this to you made sure that you dissociated yourself from your own emotions as well as from the world around you. And I’m guessing that both of you came from the same place.”

“It’s called The Centre,” Yuri admitted. “Place up in Delaware in a town nobody ever heard of.”

Angus sighed wearily. “We buy research from the Centre. We’ve contracted with them for years.” He turned to face Jarod, alarmed. “Do you mean to tell me that my empire has been built on the torment of children?” His dark eyes flashed with outrage. “How can this be? How could they have gotten away with this for so long?”

Yuri snarled, “Because people like you don’t care where the information comes from, or at what price. You don’t bother to look beneath the surface. You don’t check things out for yourself. You just shop around for resources and take whatever you want.” He inched the pistol’s muzzle just a fraction upward and smiled. “And now the flame of Jehovah has come to cleanse you of your sins.”

Thunder rolled again, closer now, bringing the storm closer. Lightning flashed, and everything seemed to happen at once.

Angus stood up. Kim leaned left, dodging him, and hurled the disc hard at Yuri’s hand. Jarod lunged toward Yuri just as he squeezed the trigger. His hand flinched as the disk struck home, skewing his aim. The bullet sliced through the air where Jarod had been standing a fraction of a second earlier, completely missing its intended target.

Yuri recovered his aim just as Jarod reached for him. He fired off another round, but Kim had shifted direction and come up under Angus, slamming him backward over the sofa. They toppled head first onto the carpet just as Jarod’s fist connected with Yuri’s jaw.

But Yuri was already on the move, dodging behind the coffee table. He sprinted for the door with Jarod hot on his heels, dashing out into the corridor with orders to the guards now pouring into the room.

“Take him down, boys!” Yuri cried. “He’s got a gun!”

The men stormed into the suite with guns drawn. The point man tackled Jarod around the waist, forcing him back into the room, dropping him hard against the floor. Jarod shouted for them to stop Rostov, but training superseded blind faith, and the men carried out their orders on cue. By the time Angus informed them of their error, Yuri had vanished.

* * * * * * * * *

MacCaffrey Enterprises
Lobby

Parker drummed her fingers on the receptionist’s desk, frowning at the man in uniform standing impassively behind the young woman, frantically calling to try to locate the company’s elite guest.

“I know he’s here,” the blonde assured her. “I saw him come in about three hours ago. He went straight to the elevators.”

“What floor?” Lyle demanded impatiently.

“I don’t know. He could be anywhere.”

“Well, then find someone who does know, and take us to him.” Miss Parker’s tone was icy. She was tense, hoping Jarod had been tipped off and was already on his way out the building. There had been no time to call him and warn him off with her escorts hot on her tail every moment.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she paced a small section of the floor in front of the spacious marble booth, head down, thinking.

She dared not tell Lyle what she had learned from Michael Steinberg. The man had been open to her need for information. Though he had not been able to answer any questions directly, he had given her a key and a location where many of his files were stored. From there, she would be able to trace some of the missing children that her mother had rescued from the Centre. She knew chances were slim that she would find many of them still alive, and of those there might not be even one who believed her, or would volunteer to help her when the time came. Jarod was free again and ready to help, but there were only a handful of people she knew she could trust, including the Pretender. It would take far more than that to make significant changes in how things were done in the Centre.

It would take an army of true believers, and she was fresh out of that at the moment.

Things were looking grim, and try as she might, she just didn’t see things improving down the line. Evil had too firm a foothold on the powerful there. Failure, however, was not an option. There was an answer somewhere… all she had to do was find it, before the watchdogs tore her to pieces.

* * * * * * * * *

Guest Suite
MacCaffrey Building

Kim had rolled to her side of the bed, facing away from him as if to put what they had done behind her. But Jarod couldn't shut her out. He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a while, watching the flickering images of the city in the rain dance across the hand-carved plaster swirls.

"Penny for your thoughts," she said without turning over.

"I don't want to walk away, now that this is all over, Kim. That's what I always do, you know."

"I pegged you for that kind of guy," she admitted. Slowly she rolled onto her back, not daring to meet his eyes, choosing the safety of the impartial ceiling as a target instead. "But that's my act, too. It's safer that way."

"Safer for whom?"

"You know the answer to that, Delaware." She sat up, swinging her legs off the side of the bed and reaching for the slip she had lost earlier. She snatched her blouse from the foot of the bed and shrugged into it. They had come back to the suite to gather his luggage and to say good-bye, and things had gotten out of hand. Both of them had let it.

"Yes. I know. And maybe it's time for us to stop running away from who we are, what we are. Maybe it's time we learned to trust somebody else with our secrets, share the things that hurt us, and risk finding that kindred spirit we never thought existed."

He heard her sniff, but her voice was steady and clear, tinged with bitterness. "Pretty speech. But you know neither one of us can afford to go there."

Jarod reached across the bed, snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her down to the mattress, rising up on his elbows above her. "Only because we choose not to, Kim. That's a choice we don't have to make. We don't have to be alone forever."

There were tears in her eyes. One trickled across her temple, and she scrubbed it angrily away. "I don't do white picket fences and cozy cottages in the suburbs," she snapped. "And I can't see you doing that scene either, Jarod."

He almost smiled, pleased that she had finally called him by his name. But the moment of good humor evaporated with the sight of the pain in her eyes. "Trust me, Kim," he pleaded softly. "Let me help you.”

"The people who adopted me were Sarah and Terry Leone," she told him. “Michael Steinberg arranged it. My folks didn’t qualify for a regular adoption since they moved around so much. But Steinberg knew they were just what he was looking for. A lady named Catherine Parker brought me to him and told him that I would need to be kept safe. She said I would be talented and bright, and need lots of stimulation and challenges. I would be a chameleon.”

“And that’s what your parents named you. Kimmie Leone.”

“Kimberly E., for Esperanza. And yeah. Mom used to remind me of that all the time. She was a linguist and translator. My dad was a freelance photographer, so I grew up everywhere. After they died, I found some papers and a photograph that my mom had left for me. She wanted me to know who I was, to find my birth parents and learn where I came from. I’ve been looking for five years, and Catherine Parker is as far as I’ve gotten.”

He sat up slowly, never breaking eye contact. His throat closed up, preventing his response for a moment.

“I know where you came from,” he whispered at last. His eyes filled with tears. He blinked them away.

Kim stared. She shook her head, denying his verdict. “No. Not from there.” Her eyes gleamed with anger and refusal to believe. She pushed out from beneath him and rose, pacing at the side of the bed, emotions boiling over.

He nodded, understanding her reluctance to accept his pronouncement. She had seen what had happened to him as a child. She knew what kind of place it was, that the people who held the power there were capable of anything. But he needed to know how she felt about him, if her perception of him had changed because of what she had seen.

"Am I a monster, Kim?"

She frowned at him and swung to a stop. "What? What did you say?"

"You saw how I grew up. You know what I am now. Does it… does it make me a monster?"

Kim was panting now, filled with helpless rage, but his calm, hesitant question hit her like a bucket of cold water. "Does it… Hell, no, Jarod! They're the monsters, the people who treated you like that. I can't imagine--"

He sat up on the side of the mattress, his shoulders hunched, head bowed. "I often thought that, if people saw those DSAs, saw what I did, what I could do, that they would see me as… unnatural. Alien. Less than human. Sometimes, I caught people watching them. Knowing what I am changed them, how they acted toward me."

She stood still, frowning with concentration, trying to grasp this dynamic shift in her thoughts. "Were they… were they afraid of you? Cause I can't imagine somebody seeing that and feeling anything but outrage at how you were treated." She smoothed her hair back from her face distractedly. "My God, the abuse…" She swallowed hard, and raised tear-filled eyes to meet his. "How they hurt you, Jarod. There really is a Hell for children. And you grew up in it."

"The Centre was my whole world, Kim. I didn't know there was anything but that for a very long time." He stood up and slid his arms slowly, lightly around her waist. "That's also why Catherine Parker got you out. That’s what she was saving you from. Just like she tried to save me… but they killed her before she could get me out."

Kim nodded and scrubbed away an errant tear. "I'm grateful to her for rescuing me. But I still want to know who my real parents were. Now, more than ever."

"If you let me, maybe I can help."

She gazed up at him for a long time. Her hands came up to touch his face, stroke across the stiff five-o'clock shadow delineating his cheeks, and then she nodded. She eased out of his embrace and strode into the living room, retrieving her purse. Returning to the bed, she sat in the halo of light from the lamp, opened her handbag and pulled out a slim wallet. From it, she pulled a small, old black and white photograph of a smiling blonde woman. “This was my mother.”

Jarod recognized her face instantly and sat down beside her.

"Her name was Alexis Moore," he told her. "She died when you were born." He sat down on the bed beside her.

"You knew her?" Hope and incredulity beamed from Kim's face. "Do you know anything about my father?"

The Pretender took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "His name was Jacob. Do you remember the man conducting the experiments with me?"

Her throat worked to swallow, and it was a moment before she could push the question out. "His name was Sydney, wasn’t it?"

He handed the photo back. "Yes. Sydney and Jacob were twins. Sydney is your uncle." Jarod smiled warmly at her and stroked a lock of hair back from her forehead. “You have your father’s eyes.”

She sighed. "And since you’re speaking in the past tense about Jacob, that means my father’s dead, too, right?"

"Yes. He died two years ago. Sydney was devastated."

"Oh."

He knew what would come next.

"You could meet Sydney, if you wanted. I could arrange it… He’s been looking for you, Kim."

“I’ll have to think about that. I’m not sure if I want to meet the man who tortured you as a child.”

“I can understand that. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly how I feel about Sydney, but there were circumstances those recordings didn't show. He… he protected me, too. Gave me refuge when I needed it most,” Jarod assured her. “He was the closest thing to a father I had.”

She shrugged, leaning away from him as he tried to put his arm around her. “I’m okay, Jarod,” she assured him with a sniff. “I’m not happy about it, but it won’t kill me. I’ll get over it.” Shakily, she wiped her face and buttoned up her blouse. “I guess that’s it, then. No more hunting for loose ends.”

“What will you do now?”

Kim got up and headed for the living room, where she had left her skirt. “Travel. Try something new. I’ve been here way too long already.”

He followed her into the next room, dressing in her wake. “Come with me. Maybe you can help me find my family.”

She shook her head and smiled up at him. “Yuri said those people want you back,” she reminded him. “How far do you think we’d get together? No, you’ll be faster on your own.”

“They won’t catch me if I don’t want them to,” he insisted.

Slipping into her skirt and zipping it up the back, she glanced around for her jacket. “And if they had me to use as a bargaining tool against you, do you think you’d be so quick to leave me behind? Get real, Delaware. They’ll never leave you alone, and anyone you take with you will be a target, too.”

Jarod said nothing, knowing she was right. But it hurt to see her so casual about parting with him. He thought -- he had hoped -- that he meant something to her. That she cared.

“If you could stay with me,” he asked softly, “would you want to?”

Her head came up. Her expression was unreadable. “Don’t go there,” she told him. “Neither of us can afford to indulge in that fantasy.”

“I just…” He shrugged, uncertain what he wanted to say.

She stepped into her shoes without breaking eye contact. Looking away long enough to grab her jacket off the back of the sofa, she advanced on him. “Here’s my answer, Jarod.” Her arms came up around his neck in a fierce embrace. She kissed him hungrily, deeply.

He could feel her trembling, feel how her lips quivered as they slid away from his. And then she was headed for the door without looking back. By the time she crossed the threshold she was running, a softly suppressed sob echoing in his ears.

Jarod finished dressing, packed up the Halliburton, the DSAs and all the clothes he intended to take with him. He was used to traveling light, and one small valise held everything he chose to keep. There were a few loose ends that needed tying up, and by the time he finished the rain had stopped. The departing storm growled at him in its wake.

Just as he was getting ready to walk out the door, the suite telephone rang.

“Yes?”

It was Angus, and his voice sounded grave. “The front desk just rang me, but I thought I should be the one to tell you. Visitors have arrived that you won’t want to see. I’ve got my people stalling them until I get there. Meanwhile, we’re preparing a helicopter for you on the roof. It will take you anywhere you want to go, my young friend.”

“Thanks, Angus.”

For a moment, MacCaffrey said nothing. “You can be certain I’ll be cutting all ties with the Centre,” he promised. “And I’ll thoroughly investigate any other firms with whom I do business in the future. This will never happen again, Jarod. Not with MacCaffrey Enterprises, anyway. Now, hurry upstairs. You’ll miss your flight.”

Jarod understood. “I’ll be making a large deposit into the company accounts soon, as promised in our agreement. I think the research you’re doing will help a lot of people, save a lot of lives.”

“Take care of yourself, Jarod. Godspeed.”

Jarod hung up the phone and headed for the elevators. Moments later, he watched Miss Parker, Mr. Lyle and a sweeper he didn’t recognize rush out onto the roof just as the helicopter turned in the air to make its way out into the city and elsewhere. He waved, but this time, he didn’t smile.

Kim Leone came out from behind one of the massive air conditioning units on the far side of the helipad, and watched him leave. After a moment, she waved back. And then she released a small piece of paper that flew out of her hand in the rotor wash still buffeting the building.

He knew what it was. The photograph of Alexis sailed away, off the roof and down into the canyon between buildings to the street below. She didn’t need it anymore. She had found what she had been looking for, and let it go when the quest was over. If she wanted to make connections with her last remaining family member, she knew who to ask.

Jarod watched the people disappear in the distance, looking until he couldn’t even see the building anymore.

It was enough.

She cared.

End of Episode
Chameleon

 
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