"Basis of Control" pt. VII January, 1989 Cleveland, OH By noon the following day, Sam had accomplished little more than when he'd gone to bed the day before. He'd gotten directions to Dr. Jones’s office the night before from Al when he'd returned. By the time he got Christina in the car and got on the road, it was ten till noon. As he drove, the question of how he would recognize this guy began to worry him. "Hey, Sam. Going somewhere?" Al asked suddenly from the passenger's seat, handlink in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. "Al!" Sam cried, relieved. "Hi, Al!" piped up Christina from the back. "Hey, darling." "I'm going to meet Martin Jones, remember?" Sam prodded, turning Al's attention back to him. Behind them, Christina started singing "Ba Ba Black Sheep". "Oh, hey, right. I guess I got here just in time then, huh?" "No kidding. Everyone okay back there?" "You don't have to keep asking that, Sam," he said gently. "I know, but I worry. Without me there to keep your butt out of trouble, who knows what could happen?" "Nag," Al muttered, but his eyes held gratitude. Sam maneuvered the car into a parking space. "Come on, Christina," he said, slipping out from behind the wheel. The girl snatched up her stuffed animal and unbuckled her seat belt while Sam opened the back door. Al trailed them into the office. Sam opened his mouth to ask Al where Martin was when a man came out of nowhere and kissed him on the mouth. "Yuck," Al proclaimed. Sam pulled back sharply. "Oh, boy..." "Yeah, uh, Sam," Al said hesitantly, "looks like Sylvia pulled the wool over both our eyes. I'm gonna go back and have a word with her to-" "Wait!" Sam said, forgetting himself for a minute. "For what?" Martin asked. "You're late," he added. Then he glanced at Christina. "What's she doing here? Sylvia...I rented a hotel room." "Oh...boy," Sam said again, taking a few steps back. "Uh, Sam, Ziggy doesn't have any data on this, but if you want my opinion, I'd say put a stop to this affair now." Martin cupped Sam's chin in his hand. "Sylvia...what's going on? First we have that _very_ strange phone call, then you show up with your daughter..." Sam pulled away and Martin sighed. "You still love him, don't you? In spite of all he's done, or hasn't done, as the case may be, you still love him." "There's your opening, Sam," Al said enthusiastically. "Do I?" Sam asked tensely of Al. "You tell me," Martin said. He took Sam's arm and led him to a bench outside the building. "Sylvia...you know I love you." "Sam, I may have been pretty blind to miss...this, but I can tell you, she loves Aaron. I don't know yet if she really loves this guy, but I intend to find out." Martin continued talking, speaking over Al's words. "But this was only half my idea. Now, I never forced you into anything." It was long past time to take charge of this. "No, no you didn't. But it just can't continue." The look in Martin's eyes said *Why?* but, to his credit, he didn't voice the question. "Y'know, maybe Sylvia and Aaron need to get this out in the open," Al said thoughtfully. "Who knows how much longer the affair was going on before the divorce. See if you can find out how long it's been since Sylvia and Martin surpassed the doctor/patient relationship, if you catch my drift." Sam gave him a frantic "How do I do that?" look. Al never got the opportunity to brainstorm because Martin started talking again. "I don't understand why you want to end this." "Because I'm married," Sam pointed out. "To a man who doesn't pay you a minute's worth of attention per day. Look, Sylvia, I will cherish you. He won't." At Sam's expression, he gripped "Sylvia's" shoulders in desperation. "You tried already, do you hear me? You really did - you know that. You told me 'no' and you did everything you could to be happy with your husband. You waited on him hand and foot and you ignored him. You - you were the loving mother and the sexy wife, but he saw past you and never looked _at_ you. And...when you came to me that day in tears and told me 'yes', I knew I could make you happier than Aaron ever did." "It's not that simple," Sam protested, pulling back out of the restraint. "Why not?" "Because," Al said, exasperated, "she's married." "It's still wrong, that's why. No matter how I pretend it isn't, no matter how much I rationalize...it's still wrong. And the marriage of Sylvia and Aaron will pay for that mistake." "I thought we agreed there was no more marriage. Not where we were concerned." Sam gaped. "You can't just erase something like that. Besides, Sylvia - _I_ still love Aaron. I'm sorry, but it's true." "Good, Sam. I'm gonna go back and talk with Sylvia, okay?" Sam nodded tightly and Al vanished. "Look, Martin, I don't want to argue. I can't go on doing this and we both know that." Martin seemed about to become angry, but then he just looked down at the floor, chewing on his bottom lip. Finally, he looked up again. "I hope - I really do hope - that you find the happiness you deserve. I don't think it's with Aaron, but if you feel you have to keep looking there..." "I do." Sam shook his head. "All marriages have rough spots. I just turned in the wrong direction when we hit our rapids." Martin looked at Christina and smiled sadly. "Bye, Christina." Then he glanced back up. "Bye, Sylvia." He leaned in for a kiss, but Sam extended his hand. "Bye." ^----^----^----^----^ October, 1999 Stallions Gate, NM Al palmed the scanner and stepped into the Waiting Room. Sylvia was seated cross-legged on the table, reading a book. She looked up and smiled at him, but the smile faded when the intensity of his expression set in. "What is it?" she asked hesitantly. Al took a deep breath and smoothed down his deep green vest. "Do you want to tell me about Martin?" "I - I'm not sure what you're talking about." "Yes, you are," Al countered. "This, you remember. I can tell." She dropped her gaze, focusing on anything but his face. "I tried to work things out with just Aaron, I truly did. He was working more and more and I was starting to feel unappreciated, ignored and..." "Undesirable?" Al hazarded. She exhaled heavily and nodded, running shaking fingers through her hair. "And lonely. Especially lonely. At first, it was just the appointment. Then Dr. Jones and I started running into each other outside the office, and we became friends; we spent time together. He eventually asked me if I would...be willing to become involved with him. He said he knew I was married, but he didn't care and that I needed someone to look after me. Before I knew it, we had become more than friends, but still I told him 'no', that I didn't want to risk anything I had with Aaron." "You don't need anyone to ‘look after you’, honey," Al said, surprising himself with his calm. "But you do need to be honest." She nodded and he waved in her direction. "Go on." "I tried everything I could think of with Aaron. I tried talking to him - he ignored what I was trying to tell him. I guess, for Aaron, if he didn't really hear it, it wasn't really happening. I tried doing little things that I thought would catch his attention, but nothing was working. Finally, I just felt I couldn't take it anymore, and I...I told Martin that..." She trailed off and shrugged shyly. "Sam's going to tell Aaron the truth, Sylvia." "No! He can't!" she gasped out, truly terrified. "Aaron'll be furious!" "Maybe, but isn't it better than hiding things from him left and right? Sylvia...you told me you felt Aaron doesn't love you anymore. Do you love him?" "Yes!" "No, honey, you have to be completely honest with me and with yourself. Don't act as if it was so obvious - it's not. Do you love Aaron?" "I think so. I - I mean, I love him enough to try." Al smiled gently. "That will be enough, Sylvia. The willingness to change - it's almost always enough. Do you love Martin? Or is it the idea of him you fell in love with?" "I don't know. I mean, at first, I thought it was him. He was so kind and understanding...and he never pushed. But now..." Al took a breath and let it out slowly. "If you love Aaron enough to try, you have to trust that Sam's doing the right thing in bringing it out into the open. Secrets never did anyone any good." Inwardly, he flinched at his own words. "I know," she whispered. "Will you stay with me for a while?" He softened somewhat. "Well, not too long, but maybe for a few minutes. I know this must all seem frightening." "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, flushing slightly. "You have your own wife to get back to." "Look," Al compromised, "why don't you get some rest and I'll come check in on you later today?" She grabbed his wrist as he turned to go. "Thank you," she murmured. He gave her a self-deprecating smile. "Just doing my job." Marina sat on the bed, rubbing her leg absently. It had been worse lately and the one thing she truly detested was the thought of having to rely on a wheelchair while in New Mexico, especially seeing as she'd have to use one of the two her mother said the project owned. Hers was still home in Ely, Minnesota. She'd just gotten off the phone with David, her husband. They'd only been married for just under a year and it had been extremely difficult explaining to him why she had to leave town for a week without him. Still, he'd understood; he always did. A faint smile materialized on her lips. She remembered the first time they'd been apart, when her business carried her out of town for just a few days. It had seemed like three days of pure agony, and now didn't feel much different. Not because they hadn't gotten used to the inevitable periods of separation (which was not to say they really had, either), but more because she was upset and anxious and she really needed him. The first thing she wanted to do was catch a quick shower before joining the rest of her family in her parents' quarters for lunch. After that... Marina sighed deeply. The last thing she planned to do was just sit around and wait for someone to come after her. For her father to tell them this much about what was going on, he had to be worried. The one thing that disturbed her was that he seemed to be unconcerned for himself, and she couldn't help but wonder if it was really them this lunatic was gunning for and not her father. She took a breath that seemed to shake and then she felt a tear slip down her cheek. *I'm probably just emotional because I'm away from David,* she reasoned to herself. Whatever the cause, the sadness and sense of loss that washed over her made her feel as if her heart would break. "This is silly," she muttered to herself, standing up. She brushed away the moisture with the back of her hand and reached for her cane. As she bent over, she froze involuntarily. She could have sworn she felt eyes on her. She straightened, catching the handle of the cane as she stood and leaned on it. "Hello?" she called out, not really expecting anyone to answer, but needing to hear the sound of her own voice to soothe her nerves. "Great, now I'm imagining things...I must be losing it." *This is ridiculous,* she told herself firmly. *You're in locked quarters just barely aboveground in some top secret establishment, no windows, and you're worried you're being watched. You're really off your rocker!* In spite of all her rationalizing, the feeling continued until she just felt she _had_ to get out of the room. She waited until her breathing slowed to a normal pattern before picking up the phone and dialing the extension to her parents' room. "Dr. Calavicci," her mother responded absently. She was probably in the middle of preparing lunch, unless her father had been able to find the time to do it. "Mom?" "Hi, Marina." She took a deep breath. "Is Dad there?"