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The Lesser of Two Evils

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At the front of the church sat the boy, his long hair tied back neatly, wearing a suit especially bought for the occasion. He sat rigidly between two adults, his uncle and aunt. His father was still in the hospital and would be for a long time to come.

Through most of the service he sat unblinking trying to be brave beyond his years - beyond anyone's years. But eventually he leaned forward and touched his mothers casket and the tears came. His shoulders heaved as he cried out his grief.

And at the back of the church, in the rear pew, sat a man wearing a very similar suit, again one only recently purchased. He was the only one in the church who heard the undercurrent of the boys cries, heard the communication on another level that expressed the pain most forcefully.

*I should have been there. I could have saved her. I should have been there.*

The man let the pain, the sorrow, the grief hit him with its full force. It added to his own feelings but he felt the need to take it, to accept it. He needed the pain. And then John spoke, quietly, softly.

"No, Adam. I should have been there."


After the funeral, John shook his fathers hand and kissed his new step-mother on the cheek, before changing out of his suit and into the clothes he had arrived in. He walked out of the house and, as soon as he was out of sight of anyone, jaunted to the Lab.

"Hallo John."

"Hallo TIM. Can you set up a long distance jaunt to the Trig for me, please?"

"Of course. It will be ready in a few minutes."

He walked into his cabin and sat on his bed for a moment, going through the events of the last few days, trying to find some way that he could have helped Adam, something that he could have done. Even if he couldn't have saved the boy's mother, surely there was some way he could have spared Adam some of the grief and pain. Maybe he could have contacted him somehow and explained that his mother needed to die. That her death had served a purpose.

He knew he couldn't, of course. He knew that what mattered to history wouldn't be that Helen Newman had died but that her death had helped to shape the destiny of a great leader.

Besides how could you ever tell a boy, or anyone for that matter, that there was a purpose to the death of a parent? That their mother had had to die for the sake of the future. Even if they believed you it wouldn't matter. Nothing could ever compensate for, or lessen, the sense of loss.

He put on his AE suit. As he folded his clothes he found the envelope in his pocket. And he remembered Peter's words.

"You can't help him now or in the future. At least not until he makes contact with you."

So one day, perhaps, John could help him. One day, when Adam made contact with him. Had that piece of information been a slip on Peter's part or a deliberate clue from a Time Guardian unable to divulge future history directly? Only time would tell.

He walked back into the main living area of the Lab and carefully placed the envelope back where he had found it. Then he stepped onto the Jaunting pad. TIM spoke.

"Good Bye, John."

"Au Revoir, TIM."

John put on his helmet and disappeared from view. And the lights of the Lab dimmed.