Bobby awoke slowly to the uncomfortable sensation of cold water trickling down his neck and soaking his shirt collar. Roused back into awareness by pure discomfort, he forced his eyes open and found himself looking up into the concerned face of his captain.

Startled, he tried to sit up only to be pushed gently back down by Deakins.

“Don’t move just yet,” Deakins told him quietly. “Just lie still for a couple of minutes, okay? You’ve had a pretty bad shock. You need a chance to recover from it.”

Bobby sucked in a long breath.

“I… That was the worst dream…”

Deakins sighed softly.

“Bobby, it wasn’t a dream.”

Bobby lay frozen, staring up at Deakins in borderline panic. The captain laid one hand firmly on Bobby’s arm.

“Stay with me, Bobby. I need you to stay with me, now. I know it’s a bad shock to the system, but you have to focus. It’s important.”

Slowly, the panic in Bobby’s eyes subsided, and regained some measure of focus. Deakins nodded, relieved.

“Good. Now, I want you to tell me, how much do you remember about the Centre?”

Confusion registered in Bobby’s eyes as he stared up at Deakins.

“How… How do you…?”

“How do I know it’s all for real?”


“Bobby, do you remember the night Mrs Parker took you out of the Centre?”

Bobby thought on that for a long moment before speaking slowly.

“Some of it. I remember… I remember looking up at the sky and feeling disappointed that there were no stars. We walked a long way… She was in a hurry… I was just frightened. I… I kept thinking that Mr Raines was going to catch up to us any minutes, and I was terrified of what he’d do to me.”

Deakins bit the inside of his cheek at Bobby’s confession. He had no doubt that Bobby’s fears would have been one hundred percent justified – and then some.

“There was a car waiting for us,” Bobby went on tentatively. “And a man… Mrs Parker told me I had to go with him, and he’d take me to a friend of hers. I remember we drove all night, and most of the next day…”

“Yes,” Deakins confirmed quietly. “We did.”

Bobby froze, staring at his captain in renewed shock.

“Y… You… That was you?”

“Yes, it was. I never realised that little boy was you, though, until now. I had my suspicions when Lyle and Parker turned up this morning ago asking questions about you, but I wasn’t certain until just now.”

Slowly, Bobby pushed himself up, and this time Deakins didn’t try to stop him.

“All these years, I’d convinced myself that I’d been in a foster home for four and a half years… I totally buried the truth.”

“There’s no shame in that. You were put through a hell that no child should have had to endure. But you need to remember it now, even though it’s going to be very hard for you.”

“Why?” Bobby asked in a strained voice. “Why do I have to remember now?”

“Because you may be the only one who knows the reason they’ve decided to come after you now, after thirty years.”

Bobby sat back with a heavy thud, tears glistening in his eyes.

“I don’t want to, Captain,” he said plaintively. Deakins felt his heart go out to the younger man.

“I know, Bobby, but you have to. For your own sake, you have to remember.”

Bobby’s shoulders slumped, and he stared up at the ceiling. Little though he liked it, Deakins was right. He had to remember.

His breath caught in his throat as, slowly and with some effort, the memories began to filter back.

It had been nearly two weeks since Mommy had gone off to the hospital. That had been just about the worst day of his life, seeing his beloved mother being taken away in the ambulance. Of course, the days leading up to that had been pretty scary, too, with her becoming ever more unstable.

Now? Now, it was just him, his big brother Frank, and their dad. The three of them together. Except... something wasn’t right.

Seven year-old Bobby stared out at the dark night, a blanket pulled tightly around his shoulders. Something sinister was on the prowl out there, and it was coming for him, he was sure of it.

Bobby, go to sleep, will ya? Dad’ll be mad.”

Bobby glanced over to his brother’s bed, then sighed and slid down in his bed, pulling the covers up tight under his chin.

His fear were probably highly irrational, he decided tiredly. Just silly worries he had from a conversation he’d overheard just the day before… and probably misinterpreted.

He’d come home from school, and had taken care to slip quietly into the house. His dad seemed to have little patience for him with Mom in the hospital, so he tried to compensate by making himself as invisible as possible.

It didn’t always work, unfortunately, and he regularly had a sore butt to prove it.

Today, he slipped in as quietly as he could. He must have been especially good at being invisible that day, because his father was on the phone, and never heard him come in. Consequently, Bobby found himself listening in on a conversation that, in hindsight, he knew he probably shouldn’t have.

“…what do you mean, test him? I sent you all that crap a week ago! Your own tests? That’s bull. Take my word for it, Mr Raines, he’s smarter than even you could hope for. He’s everything you wanted, and then some. Yes, that’s right. And don’t forget, you agreed to finance my wife’s treatment Yes, for as long as it takes. And don’t forget the college fund you promised to set up for Frank. No, I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Look, I’ll agree to your stinking test, but only because I know you’re not going to be disappointed. But I want everything you promised me, Raines. Permanent care for my wife, and for me and Frank to be looked after, too.”

It had set Bobby’s mind on edge at the time, that his father had not thought to include him in that last statement. In the end, though, he dismissed his worries. He was sure it was merely a slip of the mind that his father had forgotten to mention him as well.

A hand on his shoulder startled him back into awareness, and he nearly yelped in fright.

Hush, don’t make a noise,” his father whispered to him. “Get up.”

Bobby sat up slowly, looking at his father, puzzled.

Dad? What’s going on?”

I said, don’t make a noise. Don’t wake up your brother.”

Bobby looked again at Frank. He was sure his big brother was faking, but he dared not accuse him of it. Reluctantly, he threw back the covers and got out of bed.

Here,” Ben Goren said, tossing a pair of shorts and a shirt at his son. “Get dressed, Bobby.”

But it’s in the middle of the night!” Bobby protested, even as he began to change out of his pyjamas.

I know, but some folks are coming. They’ve come a long way especially to see you, Bobby. You don’t want to let them down.”

W… Why do they want to see me?”

They heard how special you are. Hurry up and get dressed.”

Bobby couldn’t help the fear that was starting to grip him deep down in his gut.

But… why do they want to see me?” he asked again.

Ben looked down at his son, on the verge of losing his temper. Bobby cringed, understanding that, once again, he’d pushed too far with his questions. He braced himself for the anticipated slapbut it never came. He looked up, puzzled, and found his father was staring at him with tears in his eyes.

Daddy, how come you’re crying?”

It’s nothing,” Ben said gruffly. Then, he dropped into a crouch in front of his youngest child, so that he could look him in the eye. “Bobby, listen to me. The people that are coming to see you run a special program for bright kids like you. They’re going to test you a bit, and if they like the results they get, then you’ll get to join their program. You’ll get to go on a kind of a holiday, which’ll be heaps of fun

There was a muffled knock on the front door.

That’s them,” Ben muttered. “Go let them in, Bobby, and be on your best behaviour. We want them to be impressed with you.”

Bobby ran to do as he was told. There were two men at the door, one who introduced himself as Sydney, and the other who was introduced by Sydney as Mr Raines. Bobby decided instantly that he didn’t like Mr Raines at all, but Sydney seemed okay.

The tests turned out to be simple IQ stuff, and Bobby flew through all of it, feeling elated at the praise being dealt to him by the man called Sydney. The smirk from Mr Raines was making him uneasy, but he managed to ignore it. Finally, nearly two hours later, when Bobby was nearly falling asleep at the table, he heard Mr Raines speak to his father, and those words were burned forever into his memory.

He’s as impressive as you promised, Mr Goren. We’ll take him with us immediately.”

Bobby looked around at his father, suddenly more than a little frightened at the thought of going anywhere with the creepy Mr Raines. What he saw left him speechless with fear. His father stood in the archway behind him, and at his feet there were two small suitcases, and Bobby’s school backpack.

I’ve got his things ready,” he said gruffly.

That wasn’t necessary,” Raines said glibly. “He won’t need any of that where he’s going. Everything will be provided.”

Daddy?” Bobby asked, tears filling his eyes. “What’s going on? Are you sending me away like Mommy?”

Ben Goren blanched visibly, and he crouched down and swept the little boy up into a fierce hug.

No, Bobby, I’m not. I told you, they have a special program that they want you to join, but you have to go now.”

W… When will I get to come home?”

You’ll be home before you know it,” Raines told him in what Bobby assumed was supposed to be a soothing tone. It sounded more predatory to him.

You promise?” Bobby whispered, looking up into his father’s eyes pleadingly. “Do you promise, Daddy? I can come home again soon?”

Yeah, real soon, Bobby,” Ben said, unable to hold his son’s stare. Bobby stared at him for a long moment before resigning himself to what seemed to the inevitable. Drawing back from his father’s not-so-protective embrace, Bobby turned and walked over to Sydney – not to Raines – and as their car took him away from his family, away from his home, and away from the only life he knew, he felt something die within him. It wouldn’t be until much later that Bobby Goren would be able to pinpoint what that little something was that was snuffed out inside of him that night. It was hope

“He sold me,” Bobby whispered, shaken to the core by the memory. “My own father… He sold me…”

Dimly, he was aware of strong arms slipping around his shoulders, attempting to offer some comfort. He gave initial resistance, but then his strength of will finally broke altogether and he gave in to that reassuring embrace.

“I’m sorry, Bobby,” Deakins murmured as the detective sobbed in helpless distress into his shoulder. “I am so sorry.”

Even in the midst of his distress, Deakins’ words registered in Bobby’s mind, and he pulled back slowly, looking tiredly at his captain.

“For what?”

“You were already in that place when I started serving on the Force in Delaware. I could have… I should have done something. I heard enough rumours about what was going on in there, but I listened to my superiors, and did nothing.”

“But you did do something,” Bobby said softly. “When Mrs Parker went to you for help, you listened. And… and you kept your word and were there to meet us when she brought me out. You drove me all the way back to New York. You put yourself at risk for a boy you didn’t know. Don’t say you did nothing. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have escaped. I… I don’t know what would have happened to me if it hadn’t been for you.”

Deakins sighed softly.

“It doesn’t seem enough.”

Bobby shut his eyes.

“I… I worked so hard to bury those memories. I don’t want to remember it… Any of it. Why did he have to show up now? Why did he have to come and remind me?”

“How much did Jarod tell you before you had the panic attack? What do you remember?”

Bobby’s breath caught in his throat as the main gist of what Jarod had been trying to tell him came back to him.

“The Centre… They want me back. They… They’ve sent agents after me.”

“Yes,” Deakins agreed, “and they’re not going to get you. I promise you that.”

Bobby looked at him, stricken.

“You can’t guarantee that,” Bobby said. “You know how ruthless they are.”

“All the same,” Deakins said, “I give you my word that I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you stay safe.”

“What will you do?” Bobby asked hoarsely. “Lock me away somewhere? Maybe at Carmel Ridge, with my mom…”

“What we’re going to do,” Deakins said, a slight edge to his voice, “is hear Jarod out. Listen to what he has to say, and pay heed to whatever advice he has to give. None of this is going to be in any way pleasant for you, Bobby, and you’re going to have to remember things that I know you’d rather not. But we are going to find a way through this. Will you trust me now?”

Bobby watched Deakins with a sad, weary gaze.

“I always did. Captain, could you send Jarod in here? I need to talk to him, but I… I’m not sure I can face everyone just yet.”

“You have nothing to be ashamed of, Bobby,” Deakins assured him. Bobby smiled weakly.

“I know that. It’s just a bit much to… to deal with right now.”

Deakins nodded in acquiescence.

“All right. I’ll send him in. Are you going to be okay?”

“I don’t know,” Bobby admitted softly. Deakins clapped his shoulder gently, reassuringly, before standing up and heading out of the bedroom.

The silence in the living area was palpable, and enough to give Deakins pause as he exited Alex’s bedroom. Four heads came up, and though no words were spoken, the looks he got were all the same.

“He’s awake,” Deakins told them in answer to their collective unspoken question. He turned his gaze to Jarod. “He wants to talk to you.”

Jarod stood up slowly. He was almost frightened to ask, but Deakins seemed to anticipate him.

“He remembers. He doesn’t want to, but he does.”

Unable to feel any sense of relief in that, Jarod started to walk past him, but Deakins caught him by the arm.

“Listen to me, Malone. Be careful what you say to him. He’s clinging to reality by a thread right now. It won’t take a lot to push him over the edge. Do you understand me?”

Jarod nodded, holding Deakins’ gaze as he replied.

“I understand. I promise you, I’ll be careful.”

With some reluctance, Deakins let Jarod go, and the younger man disappeared into the bedroom.

“How is he?’’ Mike asked quietly. Deakins walked around and sank into the sofa, next to Alex.

“Not so great. It’s a hell of a shock for him, to suddenly be confronted with the knowledge that five years of his life was a carefully constructed lie.”

“I just can’t believe he didn’t remember any of it,” Alex said softly. “How could he so completely override memories like that?”

“The mind is very resilient, Alex,” Carolyn answered. “It’s very good at repressing very bad memories. All it would have taken to help Bobby replace his memories of that place with ones he could cope with would have been the power of suggestion. If he wanted to forget badly enough, it wouldn’t have been that hard to do.”

“He didn’t forget it completely,” Mike pointed out. “Not if he’s been having nightmares about it. Just last night…”

“Mike!” Alex hissed, and he promptly went red as he realised his blunder. Deakins raised an eyebrow in reaction.

“Last night…? On the stakeout? Bobby fell asleep while you were on surveillance?”

Alex didn’t reply, except to glare ferociously at Mike. A moment later, Deakins chuckled grimly.

“Relax, all of you. I’m not going to step into him over it. Certainly not now. But you said he had a nightmare?”

Alex nodded.

“Yes. He was talking in his sleep. He said ‘refuge, Sydney, please, refuge’.”

“Refuge,” Carolyn mused. “That was what was on that disc that Jarod showed us. Jarod said refuge.”

“He didn’t say it,” Mike corrected. “He practically screamed it. Didn’t he say that refuge was their safety word?”

“Meaning that it was what they said if they wanted to stop,” Carolyn guessed.

“Small comfort,” Alex said bitterly. Deakins sighed.

“Yes,” he agreed softly, his gaze going to the closed door of Alex’s bedroom. “I imagine it must have been.”

Jarod entered the bedroom slowly, not quite sure what to expect. Bobby sat on the side of the bed, shoulders hunched and elbows resting on his knees. He watched as Jarod walked in, not saying a word until the other man was finally seated beside him.

“You’re a lot taller than I remember.”

Jarod blinked, taken aback by the odd statement. A moment later, the absurdity of it struck him, and he began to laugh. Bobby smiled, and then chuckled softly, unable to keep a solemn front.

“So are you,” Jarod pointed out, grinning.

“I… I don’t remember everything,” Bobby said uncertainly. “Just… bits and pieces. It’d hard, trying to sort out the real memories from the false ones.”

“It will come back to you,” Jarod told him.

“I don’t want it to,” Bobby said. “I don’t want to remember it.”

“I know,” Jarod murmured. “I’m sorry, Bobby. I really am, and I would never have come if I didn’t think it was necessary.”

“How did you find out? That they were going to come after me, I mean.”

Jarod hesitated for just a moment before answering.

“Sydney warned me, and asked me to help you.”

Bobby responded to that with silence.

“Sydney?” he echoed finally. “Sydney… from the Centre?”

“He can be trusted,” Jarod insisted, on hearing the scepticism in the other man’s voice. “He’s helped me a lot over the last ten years.”

Bobby looked doubtful, and Jarod supposed he couldn’t blame him. He tried again to reassure him, though.

“Sydney’s not a bad person, Bobby. Out of everyone involved in the Centre, he’s probably the only one we can really trust.”

You trust him,” Bobby grumbled. “Not me. I barely have a reason to trust you.”

Jarod supposed he had to concede to that point.

“It isn’t Sydney that you need to worry about, Bobby. It’s Miss Parker, Mr Lyle and Mr Raines.”

Bobby sucked in a sharp breath at the unwelcome memories that last name prompted.

“Raines…? That evil son of a bitch?”

“I see you remember him,” Jarod commented, and Bobby nodded.

“Yes. I remember him. I’m sorry to hear he’s not dead.”

“Unfortunately,” Jarod agreed. “And he’s more evil than ever.”

Bobby shuddered.

“Wouldn’t have thought that was possible.”

“Look, Sydney believes that Raines is behind the decision to reacquire you, but he doesn’t know why. You’re going to have to try and remember what he was working on with you before Catherine Parker got you out.”

Bobby stared away to the floor, ashen-faced.

“I don’t think I can.”

“I understand how hard it is, Bobby…”

Bobby glanced sideways at him, and smiled weakly.

“I… I guess you do. But I really don’t know if I can bring myself to remember. The… The simulations I did with Sydney were bad enough, but what Raines did to me…”

Jarod was silent for a long moment before speaking softly.

“Bobby, did you ever have contact with a boy called Kyle?”

“While I was in the Centre, you mean?”


Bobby fell silent, searching his memory for any recollection of someone called Kyle.

“I remember there was another boy there. He was definitely Raines’ favourite. I… I remember he scared the hell out of me.”

Jarod nodded grimly.

“That was Kyle. My younger brother.”

Bobby blanched visibly.

“Your brother?”

“Yes. He was taken not long after I was. Raines had no control over him. The son of a bitch turned him into a pure psychopath. He turned him into a killer. And then, when he didn’t have any further use for him, he had him killed.”

Bobby let his breath out in a long hiss as he processed Jarod’s bitter words.

“So I wasn’t the only one that Raines tormented.”

“No, you weren’t. You’re wrong about one thing, though. You were Raines’ preferred choice, not Kyle. He devoted a lot of time and attention to you, and he was furious when you escaped.”

“You really believe that Raines has a specific purpose in wanting me back?”

Jarod regarded him sympathetically.

“If he didn’t, they wouldn’t be trying to get you back. They would have just put a bullet in your head.”

Bobby sat still and silent for nearly a minute before speaking again.

“And if they can’t… reacquire me?”

Jarod didn’t hesitate in answering. He knew there was no point in trying to cushion the grim truth.

“If they can’t get you back, then they will try to kill you.”

Bobby shut his eyes briefly, trying to calm the feeling of panic starting to rise within him.

“They tried to get you back… didn’t they?”

“Yes. They’re still trying, although not as hard as they once did.”

“How did you keep from being caught by them?”

“I kept moving. I never stayed in one place for too long. I became exactly what they trained me to be; a pretender. You name it, I’ve done it.”

Bobby shook his head.

“I can’t do that. I can’t be on the run. I can’t live like that.”

“I know,” Jarod agreed. “We’ll find an answer. Somehow, we’ll find a way to convince them never to go after you again.”

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