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A Look Ahead

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Erik and Noelle reunite in France the summer after tenth grade. The youthful romance turns into friendship, and stays that way until a wild two weeks when they’re both 25. The fling serves to get them each over recent disappointments and they continue on as friends, rarely with benefits, for a very long time.

Erik does meet Thomas Delaney that summer. Delaney is, indeed, as sharp as ever, and takes ten minutes to mention the Sato rejuvenation clinic. Erik admits to everything and gives his old co-conspirator the best laugh he’s had in months. He only wishes Erik had come back as a small child.

He meets Michael and Rosey Sharkey that summer as well. His old bodyguard is in no way suspicious, only happy to meet the son of the man he admired most after his own father. He tells Erik that some day, when he's older, he'll tell him a few stories about his old man.

In his sophomore year Erik decides to step into the spotlight a little more. He becomes president of the Anti-Gravity Club and helps organize a car wash to raise money for North Buffalo Food Pantry. These are what he thinks of as resumé brighteners, something future magazine writers can use for background information. He has no such excuse for playing Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. in the spring production of Little Shop of Horrors.

In the summer before senior year Erik spends three weeks planting trees (more resumé fodder) and goes to Japan with Andre Torres. They visit the Mitsumotos in Otso and play tourist in Kyoto and Tokyo. At the end of the trip Erik bites the bullet and visits Kobe and Sagami Bay where he exorcises a few demons. Over the next several years he’ll do the same in Greece, Egypt, and many countries in eastern Europe.

In his final year of secondary school Erik wins the Yale Award for Overall Excellent and the Modern Languages Prize. The Yale award is a bit funny as Erik is admitted to Harvard where he intends to study Archeology and Near Eastern Languages.

Andre had fully expected Erik to put a red sports car on Redwing’s tab as soon as he turned sixteen, but his ward surprised him. Erik says having a car makes a young person soft, even if that person is only young in body. He takes his commuter bike to Harvard and then terrifies everyone by getting a Yamaha touring motorcycle (with his personal money) and using it for longer trips. He flies home for Christmas, of course, but in the spring he forwards his clothes and takes three days to ride home, tent camping in state parks on the way.

Kevin Pinker is never heard from again. He disappears as if he had never existed, although a careful observer might find his metaphorical fingerprints on certain items that come out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

William Hunter-Adams can’t get the idea of the Mega Wave out of his head, but instead of pursuing it directly, he ends up creating a suit that enables the wearer to deflect bullets and shrug off fire. It weighs nearly fifty pounds, but it doesn’t have to be worn for long, and the sight of a soldier walking right through flames and gunfire is something that tends to create an impression. Hunter-Adams dubs it “the monster suit.” Marketing has other ideas.

Gideon Fox-Devereux and Julia Grenfell die in prison, rather sooner than later. Neither ever gets to trial. Gillian Montrose buys Charisma and makes a go of it. Her parents eventually reach out to forgive her and are surprised to find that Gilly doesn’t care if they forgive her or not. It does wonders for their relationship.

Benjamin Zabala recovers from his ordeal over a long, painful year. He uses the time to explore a few college programs and finds, to everyone's surprise, that the logic and creativity of computer coding appeal to him. He earns an associate degree in computer science and ends up working for the college. When Andre Torres wrests a sizeable settlement out of Parthenon he uses it to buy a modest house. His mother is thrilled that her boy is healthy and successful, and that she can finally have the sewing room she’s always wanted.

When Erik Ostrovsky is admitted to Cambridge he takes the opportunity to hike and camp in England as much as possible, using this kind of rugged tourism as a substitute for military discipline. He makes regular visits to Tommy Delaney, now a very old widower with great-grandchildren. He stops in at Charisma one day and has a talk with Gilly. It doesn’t go well, exactly, but ultimately helps her let go of the past.

Erik completes his graduate work at Cambridge a few months before Sarah publishes her first book. Like her mother, Sarah has a gift of engaging her reader, but in academic writing for the general reader instead on fiction. Her examination of how enslaved women created community through domestic science does very well for a niche nonfiction work, taking its place in classrooms and book clubs alike.

Michael has no head for business, but with Erik’s help he forms his own consulting company. He uses math to save lives and his staff organizes his money and time. Michael is as good-natured and absent-minded as ever but frequent visits to the office by his terrifying “little brother” ensure that he is never cheated or taken advantage of by anyone. The one person who tries suffers mightily and for long after he’s learned his lesson.

Erik is part of the Wattell family for the rest of his life. Just as Andre had predicted, he ends up attending graduations, weddings and anniversaries, funerals and christenings. He becomes as much of a support to Marcus and Maddy as their biological children, a sometimes unnecessarily fierce advocate and defender of his adopted family. His connection with Andre and Maribella continues long after Erik comes of age. Eventually he stops explaining his connections in detail: Sarah and Michael are his brother and sister, Miranda is his cousin, as is her little brother, Javier. Erik finds himself playing host often, first at the New York apartment above Redwing, then at the fieldstone colonial house in Rhinebeck that he buys when it becomes clear that he will not be living alone for any length of time.

There’s no need for an actual disguise, but Erik takes a few steps to distinguish himself from previous incarnations. He keeps his hair on the longer side, depending on current fashion, and sticks to side parts if any. He never slicks it back or grows a moustache, although he experiments with different types of beards. With clothing he indulges his love of classic tailoring with dramatic contrast for city life and has some battered, high-durability field clothes for outdoor work.

Erik "comes out” to his family bit by bit. Marcus and Maddy worry, the memory of the AIDS crisis fresh in their minds, but they trust Erik to look after himself. Sarah worries that he’s enlarged the circle of people who can break his heart. Michael takes in the new data, does some reading on his own, and layers this information on to what he already knows of Erik. Miranda grows up knowing that her cousin dates both men and women, and only judges when he takes up with a very silly German artist and an arrogant libertarian activist at the same time. That doesn’t last long, thank goodness. “A libertarian, cuz? Are you a masochist?” Miranda says. She’s only in high school and already rivalling her mother in forthright remarks.

Erik does not marry, although he has a few long term relationships, mostly at a distance. At Harvard he meets Doris Huttering’s oldest daughter, Lynn, who is nearly his age. They become friends, and years later, when Lynn and her partner decide they want children, Erik provides the only thing they lack. Doris doesn’t discover the identify of the donor until the youngest grandchild is ten and is mad as hell for several months, mostly at being kept in the dark. She and Erik hash it out eventually. He buys her a brooch in the form of a quiver with an arrow for each grandchild and room to add more.

Redwing Corp can’t take down Parthenon International. They don’t even try. Instead, the Redwing Principals spend several years making small, strategic attacks against both the company and the Atcheson family. Just as they’re recovering, there’s another scandal, another investigation, another congressional committee, another untimely death. Malcolm Browning’s last shot before he fully retires is ensuring that video of Ronald Jr.’s daughter screaming racist slurs at a cop during a drunk driving arrest goes viral. Parthenon never dies, but eventually it’s bought out and renamed and the Atcheson family falls into luxurious obscurity.

When Erik “grows up” he takes a hands-off approach to Redwing, providing general direction and leaving the business to his chiefs, particularly Hassan who takes his advice but never gives an inch. Erik carves out a strange hybrid life as an adventurous traveller and a working archeologist who is also a patron of archeologists. His rivals paint him as a lightweight, a dilettante, a meddling rich kid. He forges ahead anyway and ends up being the third author in his family. Even on the right side of the law (mostly) Erik attracts danger. He’s shot at without result several times, and once with result before he turns thirty. It’s a minor wound, but one that reminds him that he is not immortal despite his nearly 100 years on earth. It doesn’t stop him from going out in the field, as he euphemistically puts it, and his worst enemies would admit that he gives as good as he gets. He has an odd epiphany during what is supposed to be a routine trip to a family reunion. He ends up almost accidentally rescuing a victim of human trafficking - a woman in her sixties - and realizes that this is his fate. He’s a weirdness magnet and always will be, no matter what path he chooses. He doesn’t mind.

Blake and Mortimer have a lot of adjusting to do in their new life. It’s not always smooth, but their relationship endures. Most of the heartbreak they suffer in the years ahead comes from work or world events. In 2003 they adopt a three-year-old boy. Two years later they complete their family with a daughter. In 2014, at the urging of their children, they officially marry in a small but beautiful ceremony in Pitlochry. Blake’s suspicions about Erik Ostrovsky persist, but he’s content to let junior agents handle that file. Mortimer believes that Erik’s life proves that everything he’s said about nurture over nature is correct, but he keeps that to himself.