-Chapter 6-

"Where are you going?" Murray asked Theora as she stood up from her control desk. He knew she would not leave her operative in the lurch for no reason."

"To see Bryce," she replied. "Danny," she called over to the controller who'd taken her place during the incident with her brother Shawn a few months earlier, "take over until I get back."

"Why?" Edison asked over the link. "I'm coming with you."

"No, you're not," Theora said, clearly meaning it for Murray as well. "The doctor says that Bryce has developed a secondary personality named Trace Carter. Nothing to do with you, Edison. Sorry. He thinks I'm Theo Carter, his mother."

"I see," Edison said, sounding disappointed. "Well, tell him his friends are thinking of him."

"I can do that," Theora said, putting her coat on and leaving.

On her way to the hospital, she stopped off at Zik Zak Know Children to pick up a stuffed snow leopard. She hoped that Bryce, or 'Trace', would believe it was the one he called Jen-Jen. Arriving at the hospital, she made sure all the tags were removed from the little stuffed leopard. Then she got out of her car, locked the doors, and hurried inside as the rain that nobody had predicted started to bucket down.

"May I help you, Miss?" a receptionist asked her, politely.

"Yes, I'm Theora Jones. I'm here to see…"

"Miss Jones," Dr. Cairns asked, smiling as she approached. "I'm Dr. Cairns. I'm the psychologist assigned to the case of Bryce Lynch. Would you come with me, please?"

"Of course," Theora said, following her.

"He's still in dissociation mode at the moment," Dr. Cairns told her. "I just wanted to prepare you for that."

"Thank you," Theora told her, a worried expression on her face.

When they reached the psychiatric ward, 'Trace' spotted Theora. A childish grin lit up his features and he rushed over, hugging her.


Remembering her acting lessons, as Murray hadn't been the only one to take them, she put her arms around him, the stuffed toy still in one hand, and kissed the top of his head in a motherly fashion.

"Hi, Trace," she said, smiling warmly at him. "How do you feel, honey?"

"Okay, I guess," 'Trace' said, quietly. Feeling the stuffed animal against his back he turned. "Jen-Jen!" he exclaimed.

"The doctor said you missed her," Theora told him. "Why don't you go put her in your room? I have to talk with your doctor, then you and me can have some time together? Okay?"

"Okay," 'Trace' agreed.

Once he was gone, Dr. Cairns escorted Theora to her office.

"Please, have a seat," she offered.

Theora sat down, looking at the diploma proudly displayed on the wall. "Cambridge?"

Dr. Cairns nodded, proudly. "Paid for my first year as a part time sandwich board girl for Zik Zak Know Clothes. Now, let's get down to business. I think you can help us help our young friend Bryce, or Trace as he currently thinks of himself."

"How so?" Theora asked. "He seems incredibly confused."

"From what I can make out," Dr. Cairns said, looking down at the file on her desk, "the elements of this personality's memories are taken from his real life. They are merely garbled. The name he's chosen for you, for example, Theo Carter, come from a partial acceptance of your own first name, and the last name of Mr. Carter. He's named his stuffed animal Jen-Jen, which I believe refers to the name of his lost fiancee, Jenny?"

"Where did you get all this information?" Theora asked.

"Mr. Cheviot gave us the names and some of his background when he came the other day and filled out the admissions paperwork."

"Oh. Of course. So, what can I do to help?"

"Well, I don't think he's ready to be released into your care just yet," Dr. Cairns told her. "But at this point, regular visits from you can help us with his emotional adjustment."

"Emotional adjustment?"

"We believe that his inability to face his emotions, thanks to that awful school he went to, is what led to his breakdown and eventually to the emergence of the personality known as 'Trace Carter'."

Theora smiled at the doctor's derisive tone when she had mentioned Bryce's school, which was the Academy of Computer Sciences. It was a school whose very curricula were seeped in logic. Having dealt with it, and Bryce during one particularly nasty point in their friendship, she agreed that while it had honed his technical and logical skills, it's emotions-are-illogical-and-a-waste-of-mental-energy belief structure had clearly caused terrible damage to him in other ways. She hoped that it could be reversed.

"I wish we could sue that damned school," Dr. Cairns admitted. "Unfortunately, we cannot. What we can do is work out a treatment program which will hopefully counter what it's done, and allow him to feel comfortable with his emotions."

"I'll do whatever it takes to help," Theora promised.

Dr. Cairns nodded, gladly. "You'll have to play the role of Theo Carter, mother of Trace Carter, for a while."

"I think I can manage that," Theora said.

"I'll ask 'Trace' questions about you and let you know what he says so you can give a convincing performance."

Theora chuckled.

"Something amusing about that?"

"When you said convincing performance, it reminded me of something I did during one of Edison's reports a few months ago," Theora explained. "It'd take to long to explain fully."

"Well, when our young friend has recovered and we have some time, I'd love to hear it," Dr. Cairns told her.

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