Near Sterling, Colorado, 1997
Charles Anderson was sitting on the bank of the South Platte River and staring at the muddy water. A year had passed since the events in Alcatraz and he still couldn't figure out why he had survived. Doctors couldn't answer that question either, they said that he should have died from his wounds and blood loss by the time he was found on the floor of the shower room. The same way his teammates had died, and their deaths bothered him a lot more than the physical side of his survival. His team died because he gave them an order. Or rather because he didn't give an order. He didn't need to close his eyes to see them in that damned shower room in Alcatraz. His and Hummel's voices still sounded in his ears.
"Goddamnit Commander, one last time – you tell your men to safety their weapons and drop them on..."
"I can't give that order!"
"I am not going to repeat that order!"
"I will not give that order!"
"What the hell is wrong with you, man?!"
Then all hell broke loose. One of his men fired. The Marines fired in unison. The SEALs gamely returned fire. But they were hit. Again. Again. Again. He took a bullet in his chest, his leg, his forearm. And all the time he heard Hummel's order to his Marines, "CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE..."
What was wrong with him? Should he have given that order to drop their weapons? No, he couldn't. As he said to Hummel, "I swore to defend this country against all enemies. Foreign and domestic."
Charles picked up a pebble and threw it into the river. Now he couldn't defend anything. The doctors had saved his life but his injuries were too severe. He couldn't be with the SEALs anymore. Well, he could sit out his ass in headquarters but he hated to do it. Hated to see pitiful looks and hear gossip behind his back. Instead, he retired, bought a cabin almost in the middle of nowhere and tried to be as far from people as possible. He knew one day he would have to decide what to do next but for now he wanted only to lick his wounds in his den.
So why did he survive? Only God knew the answer to this question. Charles looked up as if trying to find the answer in the blue sky. Suddenly a bright flash lit the cloudless sky. It looked like a fireball, then something black came out of it and fell into the water. Charles couldn't believe his eyes – that 'something' had the shape of the human body. A fireball disappeared but the ripples on the water indicated that it wasn't a product of his imagination. Following instinct, Charles jumped into the water and swam to the place where the body had fallen. He dived but the muddy water limited his visibility. Finally he saw it – a man's body at the bottom of the river. He grabbed it and swam up. He surfaced and greedily inhaled the air. He was under water at the limit of his trained lungs and was afraid it was too late for the man he held in his arms. He swam to shore still holding the lifeless body. Reaching the shore, he dragged the body a few feet from the water's edge and sprawled it onto solid ground. He checked the breathing and pulse and found nothing but passive drowning gave the man a chance. Charles put one hand on the man's chin, threw his head back and opened his mouth. Holding the man's nose with his other hand Charles pressed his lips to the man's mouth and breathed air into his lungs, then did it again. Releasing the man's head, Charles checked the pulse. Finding nothing he shoved his fist in the middle of the man's chest then put his hands on the man's ribs and began to press on them with all his strength and began CPR. After the fourth set, Charles put his fingers on the man's neck and felt a faint pulse. The man began to breathe on his own. Charles took him in his arms, rose from the ground and hurried to his truck. He put the unconscious man on the back seat and wrapped him in a blanket ignoring his own wet clothes, then sat in the driver's seat and rushed to the hospital in Sterling.
Charles stopped his truck before the front door of the hospital, jumped out, took the still unconscious man in his arms and entered inside. The small hospital was as sleepy as the whole town but his appearance quickly awakened it.
"Mr. Anderson, what happened? Who is it?" the nurse on duty asked, recognizing him from his frequent visits over his battle injuries.
"I don't know. Found him in the river."
The doctor and a couple of orderlies with a gurney approached them.
"Put him here, Mr. Anderson," the doctor said, and Charles carefully laid the man on a gurney.
A gurney disappeared behind the door but Charles still stood in the hospital's lobby. Strangely he didn't want to go away and leave the man all alone here.
"Mr. Anderson, you need to change your clothes," he heard the nurse's voice.
In truth his wounds had begun to ache from the cold water but it didn't matter. He used to feel much worse.
An hour later the doctor came to him looking confused and puzzled.
"How is he?" Charles asked.
"Do you really know nothing about him?" the doctor replied with a question.
"I told you, I've never seen him before."
"Yes, of course, I just..."
"Come with me."
The doctor led Charles to the ward where the man was lying. Only now Charles saw him clearly, without mud covering his body and fear for his life, and he was stunned by the sight. The man was young and slim, his body only slightly lifted the covers. His pale face was handsome, no, Charles corrected himself, it was beautiful, but it was covered with bruises and burns as well as his arms and chest. Charles tried to remember the guy's clothing. A dark overall and a light t-shirt, and they were torn to shreds. The guy's short brown hair was burned, too. He was breathing on his own, the doctor had put him onto an I.V. drip.
"We have a male Caucasian in his mid twenties. No abnormalities, no diseases, his health is good except..."
"His blood. I've never seen a blood test like this. He has a strong reduction of red blood cells. Also his BP is too high. His drowning couldn't have caused it, he is a strong healthy young man and he'll deal with the near drowning, but his blood could kill him."
"What about other injuries?"
"He has several bruises on his back and head, probably from hitting the water surface, but he has no bone and internal organs damage. Other bruises and burns are minor. I don't know what could cause them. Well, with this boy I don't know anything. It's as if he had fallen from the sky."
Fallen from the sky? But that was exactly what he had done. Charles remembered a fireball in the sky. No, it was too weird. So where had this guy come from?
"Did he regain consciousness?" Charles asked.
"No. He hit his head, and head injuries are unpredictable. He could still be like this for many days."
Charles went to the bed and took guy's limp fingers in his hand. The guy wore a ring on one finger – a signet with a dark blue stone. Charles lifted their hands to see better.
"It's a class ring," he said. "He's a graduate of the University of California."
"Are you doing my job, Commander?" Charles heard behind his back.
Charles paused still holding guy's fingers. They were so slender, making the ring looked too massive for them. And they were too cold. Charles carefully put the guy's hand on the bed near his side and turned around to face the newcomer.
"Go ahead, Sheriff, do your job yourself."
The Sheriff frowned. He didn't like having a man like Commander Anderson in his town. A SEAL, even an ex-SEAL, was too frightening for the backwater town, and Anderson sure as hell frightened him.
The Sheriff went to the bed and looked at the man on it. He had spent all of his life in Sterling and knew the whole county but he had never seen this man before.
"What happened?" he asked Charles.
"I was on the riverbank near my cabin and saw the body fall into the water. I swam to him and pulled him out of the water."
"Maybe. Sheriff, you better go and check the river. Maybe there is something left."
"I'm just going to do it without your tips, Commander."
The Sheriff left. Charles leaned over the bed and whispered, "I'll be back." He paused as if waiting for the answer, then left the ward and headed home.
The next morning Charles returned to the hospital. The guy remained unconscious. The doctor ran a few tests but couldn't find a cause for his condition. The guy's blood tests became worse and the doctor wasn't sure he would survive. It lasted for a few days, but one day Charles came to the hospital and the doctor greeted him with a huge smile.
"He's doing better. His tests are almost normal. He made it," he said.
Charles went to the ward and habitually sat in the chair next to the bed, then looked at the patient. The guy looked less pale, his almost blue lips turned pink. The bruises and burns had almost gone and nothing marred the beauty of the young face.
"You're too young to die," Charles whispered. "Death is for wrecks such as me."
The guy's lashes fluttered and he opened his eyes, revealing the bluest eyes Charles had ever seen. The guy looked around the room in confusion and asked, his voice was barely audible hoarse whisper, "Where am I?"
"In the hospital in Sterling," Charles answered.
The guy looked at him, and his look became even more confused.
"My name is Charles Anderson. I found you."
"What am I doing here?"
"You almost drowned in the river."
"No, what am I doing here, in this town?"
"We were hoping you'd answer that."
"I... I don't remember."
"What is your name?"
The guy closed his eyes trying to find the answer in his fogged mind. Finally he answered uncertainly, "John."
"What is the last thing you remember, John?"
John paused again.
"What kind of blast?"
"Don't remember... I'm running... holding somebody's hand... they're following us... I close the trapdoor... and then a blast."
The huge bewildered eyes looked straight at Charles.
"What does it mean?" John asked.
"I don't know. You need to rest, and see if the memory comes back to you."
"You're safe here."
"No, the danger is everywhere."
"Okay. Relax and try to sleep. I'll be here. I'll protect you."
John looked at Charles again, then nodded. He believed him. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.
Memory gradually returned to John. He remembered the Hive, 'Majestic', the years of running and fighting. He remembered Kim and his son, and then he remembered the Hive mothership.
After finding his son he returned for Juliet, then asked Ray to show him the way to one of the saucers. The Greys watched them but didn't try to stop. When they were near the gateway he pulled out a small device that he had taken with him secretly from 'Majestic'. It was a bomb. He activated it and threw as far as he could, then ran to the gateway dragging Juliet and Ray along with him. The Greys sensed the threat and ran after them. He jumped into the saucer, sealed the trapdoor and rushed to the control panel. He remembered the lessons of Carl Sagan and knew he had to think about the place where he wanted to go. In the next moment the mothership exploded.
So that theory worked after all, he had returned to Earth. But where was Ray? Did he find his son only to lose him again? He was told that he was dragged out of the river. What if Ray..?
He could hardly wait for Charles to return. When he finally saw the lean stern blond in the doorway he said, "I remembered. I was with my son. Ten years old boy. Where's he?"
Charles looked at him puzzled. John looked too young to have a son that age.
"There was no boy. Only you in water," Charles answered.
"Look, I held his hand during the blast. He should be with me. What if you hadn't noticed him?"
"John, the Sheriff searched the river. There was no boy."
"A blonde woman? She was with me, too."
"No woman, no boy. You was alone, John."
John leaned back against the pillows and closed his eyes. Where were they?
"I need a newspaper," he said. "Maybe there is something about them."
"The Sheriff didn't get any report about finding people."
"I need the newspaper."
"Okay. Wait a minute, I'll buy it at the newsstand."
John nodded. Charles left the ward frowning, unsure if John was in his right mind.
When Charles returned, John took the newspaper and scanned the last pages, then opened the front page and muttered, "What the hell, they can't even print the year without an error."
"What do you mean?" Charles asked leaning to him to see the page.
"This," John pointed his finger at the year, "1997 instead of 1967."
"John," he asked carefully, "Do you think now is 1967?"
John looked at him anxiously. "What're you trying to say?"
John's blue eyes widened. "No! You lie!"
"Who is the president now?"
"Look at this," Charles pointed his finger at the article.
"Bill Clinton," John read hoarse.
It couldn't be real. But it was. Unless it was the trick of the Hive. John looked up and eyed the ward. Only now he noticed that the equipment in it was strange. Oh Lord, the Hive got him! Panic swept over him.
John's pale face startled Charles. He grabbed John's shoulders and shook him.
"John!" he called. "John, hold on! I'm here, everything will be fine, believe me."
Charles' soft voice penetrated his panic. He believed Charles. Charles wasn't the Hive. He was strangely sure of that, though perhaps not so strangely, he was the E.B.E. profiler after all.
"Help me to get to the window," he said.
"I'm not so sure that's a good idea, John. You're too weak."
"Damn it, help me!"
Charles helped John to get out of bed and led him to the window. John stared at the street outside. The Hive could print the false newspaper, could set up the fancy equipment, but even the Hive couldn't change the whole town. Cars, clothes, signs – everything was weird for John. He really had been thrown into the future. The blast broke not only space but time, too.
Another thought came into John's mind. It meant Ray could be in any time and any place.
"I've lost my son forever," he whispered. His body went limp and Charles caught him.
They didn't talk about it anymore that day, but Charles needed to know what else John remembered.
"Do you remember your home?" he asked John the following morning.
John thought about the farm near Fresno in California, about his parents and sister. Even if they were still alive he didn't want to return to them. His last visit to home had cost him his brother.
"No, I don't remember," he answered.
"Your class ring," Charles pointed at John's hand with his chin. "It can help to find out who you are."
John really hoped it couldn't.
"You have nowhere to go."
John didn't have a place he could call home even before his trip to a Hive mothership.
"You can stay in my cabin."
An unexpected offer snapped John out of his apathy and he looked at Charles.
"Are you sure?"
"I live alone. The cabin is small but quiet and away from people. Think it's a better place for healing than a hospital."
"Yeah, right. Thank you, Charles."
"Then I'll buy you some clothes. I think they'll release you today. What size do you wear?"
John answered automatically, and Charles flashed him a glare. Perhaps this guy remembered more than he wanted to reveal.
Charles quickly bought boots, underwear, socks, t-shirt and jeans but paused near the rack with shirts. Finally he picked one, it was blue like John's eyes. Returning to the hospital, he gave the clothes to John and went to the doctor to arrange for his discharge. Soon everything was settled and John left the hospital with Charles. They got in the truck and headed to the cabin outside the town.
John yawned and stretched, then opened his sleepy eyes. For the first time in many years he had slept well all night, without dreams and nightmares. The bed in the spare bedroom was comfortable but more comforting was the feeling of Charles on the other side of the wall. He felt safe. He had almost forgotten what it was like.
His eyes widened in horror. Kim used to say that she felt better than ever when the Ganglion started growing in her head again. He was in a Hive mothership. What happened before he awakened? The Greys could have implanted him. The doctor in the hospital said his blood testes were weird. He *was* implanted!
John jumped out of bed. He knew it could happen. He asked Bach to take care about him in that case, but where was Bach now, in this time? He had to take care of himself. John ran to the kitchen and looked around. He noticed the medicine cabinet over the sink. He rushed there and opened the cabinet with a jerk. Rummaging through its contents he found syringes and grabbed one. He frantically began to open all cabinets and drawers and finally found what he needed – the bottle of acetone. He filled a syringe with acetone and brought it to his neck.
"What're you doing?! You'll kill yourself!"
He heard a shout but he wasn't going to stop. The strong hands grabbed him and held him tight but he fought their grip, screaming in frustration.
"Let me go, Anderson! Damn it, let me go!"
But Charles wasn't going to do it. John was strong and fought like a madman, so Charles had to use all his strength to hold him but finally he managed to overcome him. He pulled a syringe out of John's hand and threw it away.
John's scream almost deafened him. He gained a better grip and pressed the tense body to his chest.
"Are you crazy? That stuff will kill you!"
"You don't understand, I'm already dead!"
"What're you talking about?"
"The Ganglion. It's in my head. They implanted me. But they don't get me. Acetone kills the Ganglions."
'Dear Lord, it's worse than I thought,' flashed through Charles mind. This guy really was crazy. Moreover, he was crazy with suicidal tendencies. What should he do with him? He had to calm him down in the first place.
"Okay. You think there is something in your head. I got it. But why are you so sure?"
"I was unconscious in their mothership."
'It gets better and better,' Charles thought and said aloud, "Do they implant everybody there?"
"No. Due to certain genetic factors, some people are incompatible with the Ganglions' biology. We dubbed them 'Throwbacks'."
"So maybe you're Throwback, too?"
"I... I don't know."
The Hive had many opportunities to implant him in the past but instead people close to him were implanted. Maybe he really was unacceptable for the Hive.
John relaxed a bit and Charles sensed it. It was so unreal – to sit on the floor in his own kitchen holding a crazy guy in his hands and talking about aliens, and Charles felt as if he had started to go crazy, too. Yet despite all the craziness he liked holding John's body in his arms. It was slim but firm and muscular and... alive. Yeah. John was the embodiment of life and Charles couldn't let him go.
"Must be some way to check if this thing is in you," he said softy.
"E.B.E profile. But you don't know how to do it. Only other way is an imbalance of pH. I need to drink something that increases the level of acidity in my body. Do you have vinegar?"
"Give it to me. Then if the Ganglion is inside me my behavior will become abnormal. You should give me the shot of acetone."
'Abnormal behavior? I wonder what the normal behavior is for John,' Charles thought, but drinking vinegar was far less dangerous than an injection of acetone.
"Charles," John turned his head and looked straight into Charles' eyes. "Promise me you'll kill that thing, even me if necessary."
Charles didn't take his eyes off John. The green and blue glares met and then Charles nodded. "I promise."
He released John and got up. He crossed the kitchen and pulled a bottle of vinegar out from a cabinet, then took a cup from a cupboard and poured some vinegar into it. He returned to John and handed him the cup. John took it and drank the liquid.
"How much time should pass?" Charles asked.
"A few hours."
"Well, then we'd better go to the living room. No sense spending all that here on the floor."
John got up and followed Charles to the living room. There he lay down on the couch and closed his eyes.
"Why do you keep syringes in the medicine cabinet? Are you sick?" he asked after a while.
Charles' hard face hardened even more.
"No. Was hurt badly doing my job. Only a few months ago doctors stopped pouring their shit in me. It's why I'm here – can't do my job anymore."
John opened his eyes and looked at Charles. Charles' soul was hurt much more than his body, and heartache lingered in his fern colored eyes.
"I'm sorry," John said.
Charles nodded, accepting his sympathy. He felt it wasn't just words for John.
"Tell me about this world," John asked.
Charles chuckled, "I'm an awful storyteller."
"I need to know what happened after 1967."
"Okay. The cold war is over but..."
John listened to Charles' soft voice. It was comforting, relaxing, lulling. John didn't notice as he fell asleep. Charles got up and covered him with a blanket, then smoothed John's thick silken hair.
John opened his eyes and looked around in confusion. The room was dim, only the chair where Charles was sitting reading something was lit by a lamp. Charles turned his head and smiled at John.
"Hello, Sleeping Beauty."
"How long have I slept?"
"Eight hours. How're you feeling?"
John analyzed his feelings. "A bit dizzy... my neck is stiff... hungry..."
None of these indicated the presence of the Ganglion. He was clear. He gave Charles a happy smile.
Charles' heart skipped a bit. This smile was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. He forced himself to look away.
"Well, if you're hungry, I can help you. C'mon."
John wandered around the house. It was a quiet, nice place and he liked being here. Earlier that morning Charles went into the town and John decided to look around. Charles had very few personal items. His cabin was neat and Spartan, everything was in perfect order. The cabin suited its owner just right.
John entered Charles' bedroom. He went to the wardrobe and opened it. A few shirts, a few pants... something gold flashed in the depths of the wardrobe. John tensed. He reached in and pulled out an officer's jacket. A jacket of a Naval officer. A jacket with the golden stripes of Commander on it.
'Majestic'. The officers of the Navy occupied the top positions in 'Majestic'. That whole fucking thing started in Roswell as a Navy op, and Anderson was with 'Majestic'. It was why Anderson kept his eye on him. It was why he invited him here. Despite years of working with 'Majestic' John remained the black sheep and was always under surveillance. But not this time. Enough. He was sick of it. He tolerated 'Majestic' because of his illusory hope of getting his son back but now they had nothing to hold him.
John threw the jacket on the floor and began rummaging through drawers in search of a weapon. He was sure Anderson would have a gun nearby. He opened the drawer of the nightstand and saw it - the black 'Beretta'. He grabbed it and checked it. It was loaded. The next moment he heard the rustling of gravel under tires in the driveway. Anderson had come back home.
Charles opened the front door and entered the house.
"John, it's me," he shouted.
"When were you going to tell me that you're working for 'Majestic'?" he heard John's voice.
He turned his head and saw John standing in the bedroom doorway and holding his 'Beretta'. The 'Beretta' was aimed perfectly at his head. John held a gun confidently.
"What're you talking about?" Charles asked.
"Don't play me for a fool. You're with the Navy and the Navy covers 'Majestic'."
"I was with the Navy. I retired a year ago. And I know nothing about 'Majestic'."
"Look, John, this has gone too far. One day you try to kill yourself, the next day you try to kill me. You need professional help."
"You mean to lock me away in a mental hospital? It's a new plan? I've been there."
"I mean I want to help you."
"Don't need your help."
Charles raised his hands up and said in soft soothing voice, "Okay. Let me show my papers and ID."
He moved forward smoothly. John tensed.
Charles rushed sideways. John fired, and a bullet tore the sleeve of Charles' shirt. The next moment Charles was near John and slammed his fist on the back of John's head sending John into oblivion. He caught the falling body and at the same time took the gun out of John's weakened fingers. He tucked the gun in his belt, then lifted John and carried him to the bed.
After he laid John on the bed he found one of his ties and bound John's hands, then tied them to the headboard. He sat in the chair near the bed and picked up the phone. He had to call to the hospital. He started to dial the number, then paused and reset it. For the first time in his life he couldn't bring himself to do what he had to.
John moaned and opened his eyes. He saw Charles with the phone in his hand and rasped, "Are you going to give me to the shrink? Go ahead, my father did the same thing."
Bitterness in John's voice and pain in his eyes made Charles' decision. He put the phone down and said, "Tell me your story."
"Why should I?"
"Because I'm your only chance. I really know nothing about the things you're talking about and I sure as hell don't work for anybody. You're here because I got you out of that damn river. But how did you get there? I saw the blast and you falling from the sky after that blast and I know it was real. Tell me everything about that thing in a human's head, 'Majestic', what you were doing up there."
John hesitated, then licked his lips and said, "Okay. Listen. I graduated from university in 1961 and got a job in Washington, DC. I was 24. Me and my girlfriend Kim Sayers arrived there and started working in the White House. Soon I was drawn into an investigation of Project Blue Book and met Barney and Betty Hill. On the way home I faced 'Majestic 12' for the first time..."
When John ended his story Charles continued to sit still and silent. This story couldn't be true, but at the same time a crazy mind couldn't create this story. A man couldn't be crazy enough to come up with such a thing. Finally Charles broke the silence.
"You said Captain Bach was with the Navy. I have friends in the Pentagon who can help to find out what happened to him. And about 'Majestic' too."
John looked straight into his eyes.
"Why are you helping me?"
"I swore to defend this country against all enemies. Foreign and domestic. Even aliens, if necessary."
"So you believe me?"
Charles shrugged. Suddenly one thought occurred to him and he asked, "How old are you?"
"I was born in 1937."
Charles chuckled. "You're looking pretty good for 60," then he turned serious. "But you don't look like you're even 30 years old. You look much younger."
"Maybe that Hive mothership does something to humans. My son became older and I became younger."
The thought about his son saddened John. Charles sat on the edge on the bed and put his hand on John's shoulder.
"He's alive, John," he said softy. "He can be in any place and time, but he's alive."
John nodded, but pain didn't leave his bright blue eyes. Charles leaned forward and lightly kissed John's lips. John stilled but then his lips parted and he returned the kiss. Charles moaned burying his fingers into John's thick hair, pulling John's head closer, then his hand moved down John's body. He tugged at John's shirt and t-shirt, pulling them from the waistband of jeans and lifting them up baring John's torso. John wriggled on the bed helping him to do it. Charles tore his mouth from John's tempting lips and kissed his long neck leaving a mark on John's tanned skin, then moved down to John's bare chest and licked his dark nipple.
John threw his head back moaning with pleasure. His hands were still tied above his head and he couldn't touch Charles. He was at Charles' mercy and it excited him even more.
Charles undid John's jeans and dragged them down John's hips and over the curves of his ass along with the underwear. Then he pulled away and looked down. John was hot and excited. And perfect. And he was waiting for him. Charles quickly got undressed and covered John with his body, gasping as his hard shaft brushed across John's six-pack stomach, colliding with the firm evidence of John's arousal. He rocked frantically against the willing body lying beneath him, reveling in the feel of John's firm flesh, his mouth covered John's lips again and they swallowed each other's groans of passion. Ecstasy came too soon and their semen spurted between their close-pressed bodies. Charles fell on John's heaving chest unable to move as he caught his breath.
Finally he got up, found his shirt and wiped them both.
"Why did you do that?" John asked, and his voice was hoarser than ever.
"Why didn't you stop me?"
"My hands are tied."
"You could just say 'no'."
But John hadn't wanted to say 'no'. He had wanted it. And much more. He wanted to be with Charles. Charles wasn't weak like Kim or cold like Juliet. Charles Anderson was just the hardest looking man he had ever seen but he still had humanity in his heart.
Charles untied John's hands and kissed his reddened wrists, then carefully lowered John's arms on the bed. He lay down on the bed beside John and asked, "What is your real name?"
"John. John Loengard."
John turned to face Charles. His slender fingers touched Charles' chest and glided over his smooth ivory skin, then paused near the scar from a gunshot wound.
"Is this why you left the Navy?"
"This and a few more. Can't be with the SEALs anymore."
John raised his dark eyebrows. "You were with the SEALs? I remember that Kennedy's speech in May 1961 when he announced his intention to strengthen U.S. special operations forces."
Charles moaned and closed his eyes. "Oh John, is so weird to see your boyish face and hear how old you are."
Charles flew to the Pentagon to find out the truth and John decided to use the time without him to learn something about the passing years. He went to the town library and asked for sets of old newspapers. The young pretty man who was suffering from partial amnesia easily won the heart of the librarian and got everything he wanted. John spent a few days sitting in the library vault and leafing through the old newspapers.
When Charles returned from the Pentagon he found John here. He was led by the librarian to the vault and stood still in the doorway eying John for a long time. Finally he broke the silence, "No wonder all the women in this damn place fell in love with you."
John looked up and smiled dazzlingly. "Hey. What're you talking about?"
Charles went to him and put his hand on John's forearm. He wanted to hug John, to kiss him, but it was a wrong place. "Hey. Don't tell me you don't notice their looks."
"I do. Don't tell me you aren't jealous."
John smiled again. "Let's go home."
They left the library and got in Charles' truck. Half an hour later they were in the cabin and settled in the living room.
"What did you find out?" John asked.
"Captain Frank Bach died on June 20, 1967."
"What?! That was the day I was taken into a Hive mothership. What was the cause of death?"
John buried his face in his hands. His relationship with Bach was very complicated but he had respected that man.
"What else?" he asked finally.
"I found the files about 'Majestic 12'. On the day of his death Bach was relieved of command. Temporary command of 'Majestic' was entrusted to Lt. Commander Phil Albano. He was also the last who saw Bach alive."
"Son of a bitch. He killed Bach. And the Grey too. The Hive got him, I felt it."
"A few days later, Albano disappeared without a trace. 'Majestic' began falling apart and now it doesn't exist."
"Why?" John asked. "It doesn't make sense. If the Hive got 'Majestic' why didn't they use it for their own purposes?"
"I think because you destroyed the Hive. You said the aliens had a common brain and physically that brain was in the mothership."
"Yeah. I saw it when they drugged me."
"The explosion you caused in the mothership was strong enough to send you through space and time. So it sure as hell would have destroyed or at least damaged that brain."
John pondered Charles' theory. Charles was right.
"The Ganglions are still on Earth and still doing their job," John said. "But they aren't controlled and are acting without orders. It puzzled me when I read those papers – some events have to be the result of the aliens actions but they didn't have any logic."
"So what do we do now?"
"We have to find and destroy the Ganglions. Tomorrow I'll teach you how to identify an implanted human."
"Yeah. Tomorrow. Now we have another more important thing to do."
John went to Charles and straddled his lap. Charles caught his breath when John's fingers ran up and down his chest, then John moved closer and covered Charles' mouth with his own. Charles put his hands on John's ass and squeezed the firm roundish globes. John was right, they would be very busy until tomorrow.