“This isn’t over. Not by a long shot.” Duncan growled.
“I don’t understand. Ryan’s dead, Duncan. There’s nothing more we can do.”
“There’s something I can do. If I have to do it myself, I’ll go back in time and prevent Ryan from being attacked in the first place.”
“Can you really do that?”
“Legally no but try and stop me!” He grabbed his CompCom and called Liam. "Liam, set travellator 3 to the date in Evans' obituary and the geographic coordinates to the woods Ryan described behind the Evans property. Send Connor back to confirm the obituary. I wouldn't put those three hags on the tribunal to have manufactured the obit. Prepare travellator 4. Set the geographic coordinates for my basement and the temporal coordinates for noon, three days ago. Have Aisha get me a prison guard uniform and credentials."
"Boss, what are you up to?"
"Getting the truth and preventing the attack on Ryan, no matter how many fucking trips back in time I have to take."
"You're taking a big chance you know, especially if Ryan's attack happened during a prison riot."
"This is Ryan Edwards we're talking about. You have your instructions. Get it done!" He snapped.
"Duncan," Liam said in his most soothing voice, "we all love him too. This is hard on all of us. I'm just making sure you know the risks. It is part of my job, after all."
In a contrite voice Duncan responded, "I'm sorry, Liam. It's just..."
"I know, boss. I know. Everything will be ready when you get back. The great thing about having time machines at our disposal is that we don't have to rush this. We can take as much time as we need to get it right, and if we fuck up we can go back as many times as it takes to get it right."
Sighing wearily, Duncan admitted that Liam was right, signed off and went in search of lunch.
Ethan's doctor sat in his office with Ethan's brother Chris sitting in a chair opposite him. He glanced quickly at the latest scans on his computer. He looked up and began speaking, "I don't know how to explain it. Ethan's healthy as a horse. There's no sign of the HIV virus or antibodies in his blood. We did a complete series of microcellular scans. Everything is completely normal. All of his blood counts, including his T-cell count, are completely within normal limits. "
"You're kidding me, right? That's not possible," Chris replied, shocked.
"No, I'm not kidding. I'm completely serious, and normally I'd agree with you about the impossibility of the situation. However, we did find a couple of unidentified protein markers in his cells. I believe that they are somehow responsible for what has happened to him. Ethan has agreed to allow me to conduct extensive research on these markers and the effects they've had on him. I believe that somehow we may have stumbled on a cure for HIV, AIDS and just about any other disease known to man. I'm very excited about this."
"Doc, that sounds fantastic. Can I see him?"
"No, but you can take him home."
"Are you serious?"
"Yes, I am. I've already signed his discharge paperwork. I just wanted to talk with you first."
Chris stood up and extended his hand to the doctor, who stood and shook his hand. "I don't know how to thank you for saving my brother."
"I really didn't have that much to do with it, but you're welcome. Now, go and get him out of here. I'm sure he's more than ready to go home."
A very excited Chris thanked the doctor once again and practically ran to the ward where Ethan was waiting for him. Pulling him into a fierce embrace, he said with tears in his eyes, "I can't believe what's happened. I can't believe you're perfectly healthy!"
"You can't believe it. Look at it from my perspective. The death sentence I had hanging over my head is no longer there. No more medications. No more sickness. I can live a normal life," Ethan cried in Chris's ear.
Letting him go, Chris said, "So let's get the hell out of here. What's the first thing you want to do when you get home?"
"I want to take a walk along the river then when I find just the right spot I want to jump in and take a nice long swim."
"Are you feeling up to it?"
"More than up to it. I can't wait. Then I want to go out and get laid. You know the saying 'Save a horse, ride a cowboy'."
Chris laughed. "You're incorrigible."
As Duncan was finishing up some paperwork, Connor knocked on the open door frame.
“What did you find out?” Duncan asked as he looked up, leaning forward in his chair hoping for some good news.
With a sigh, Connor crossed the room and sank down into a chair, handing Duncan a newspaper clipping.
“This is from the local newspaper the day after Ethan supposedly died. The obit is legit. Ethan died from complications resulting from an unexpected medication interaction.”
Duncan slumped back in his chair. “So even if I do go back and prevent the attack on Ryan, he’s still going to die.” He thought for a moment. “Wait a minute. Newspapers back then got stuff wrong all the time. I want you to take another trip back, a week from the day you went back last time and the same location coordinates. This time, check the Hall of Records, or whatever they call the place where birth and death certificates are stored. Birth and death certificates are matters of public record. See if there is a death certificate on file for Ethan Evans.”
“Got it boss!” Connor practically ran from the room to complete his mission.