Before Ryan reached Duncan, he pulled out a stunner and aimed it at Ryan. “I don’t want to use this, but I will if you force me to.” Ryan stopped short of Duncan. Duncan continued, “Have you lost your mind? You’ve broken so many temporal laws I don’t even know where to start to figure out how to defend you once this gets to the Tribunal. What the fuck is going on in your head?”
“The same thing that’s going through your head, trying to figure out what’s happening,” Ryan retorted angrily.
“You used your access code to override the security lockouts and make an unauthorized trip back in time.” Duncan held up his hand to stop the rant that he knew Ryan was about to unleash. “I understand why you did it. I know you’re in love with Ethan, but it can’t work. If you go back in time to be with him, no matter how careful you are, the risk of contaminating the timeline is too great. If Ethan comes forward to this time, 800 years into the future I might add, he will be at a terrible disadvantage. What would he do for work? Where would he live?”
Ryan’s frustration and anger slowly dissipated once he realized that Duncan was just as concerned for Ethan as he was for the timeline. “I’ve been thinking about that. He would, of course, live with me. As far as what he would do for work, can you think of anyone better to be a historian?”
Duncan was quiet as he contemplated this. “No, actually I can’t. He would definitely be an asset, but can he learn 800 years of history?”
“Other than the salient points, does he really need to?”
“I guess not. We, however, still need to figure out what triggered the paradox alarm. In light of this, I can’t take the chance of you making any more unauthorized trips to the past. Scott, lock out Ryan’s access codes to the central computer.” Scott shot Duncan a do-you-really-want-to-do-that look, but complied anyway.
Ryan shot Duncan a bitter look. “I guess my usefulness here has ended,” he mumbled as he walked out the door, ignoring Duncan’s order to come back.
“I’m really not surprised he did that,” Anne commented to Adrienne. “You can tell he really loves that guy from the past. I wish I knew how to help him.
“I still feel that the answer is in these photos and newspaper articles. We’re just not seeing it.”
“Let’s take a look at the pictures. Newspaper articles aren’t really that reliable no matter how hard they try. They rely on information given to them, and if that information is inaccurate, so is the article.”
“True, but pictures can be edited as well. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.” Adrienne replied.
“Ok. This picture,” Adrienne handed it to Anne, “shows Ethan and Ryan with their arms around each other in front of Ethan’s shop. The sign reads ‘Evans and Edwards Woodworking’. This newspaper article talks about Ethan Evans taking on Ryan Edwards as a partner, both in his personal and professional life.”
Anne looked at the picture then scanned the newspaper article. “I’ve known Ryan since he was in college, and I know for a fact that he knows absolutely nothing about woodworking, so I’m pretty sure we can rule this one out.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Adrienne argued.
“Why is that?”
“Maybe he took Ryan on to manage the business so he can concentrate on the woodworking.”
Anne sat back in her chair. “I hadn’t thought of that. That puts us back to square one.”
“Maybe, maybe not. We know that Ryan going back in time to be with Ethan could have serious repercussions as far as the timeline goes. He’s thinking with his heart, not his brain. Once he starts thinking properly, he’ll realize that going back in time to stay with Ethan is not an option.”
“So let’s take a look at the other picture, the one that shows the shop run down and the weeds overgrown.” Anne pushed the picture towards the center of the table so everyone can look at it.
After studying the picture carefully, Liam asked for the hi-resolution scanner. “Something doesn’t look right, but I can’t put my finger on it.” He studied the picture for about 5 minutes before exclaiming. “That’s it! The sign; it says “Evans Woodworking. I think this is the correct picture and the one we should be focusing on.”
“Normally I would agree with you,” Connor joined in the conversation for the first time, “but there’s still the issue of the newspaper article saying that all three Evans’ disappeared without a trace.”
“Did they?” Cindy, another agent, spoke up. “Maybe Ethan did come forward to this time, and the others moved somewhere else, somewhere where they wouldn’t be found.”
“And where would that be?” Liam challenged.
“I don’t know. I’m just throwing out possibilities.”
“Okay, let’s say I buy into this,” Liam began, “when Ethan and his brother Chris were brought here by Ryan, it set off the paradox alarm.”
Anne said, “I think it was because all three of them were supposed to come forward.”
“I agree, but how do we convince Duncan to bring all three of them forward?” Connor said.
“We present the facts to him and hope he listens to reason. That’s all we can do,” Liam explained.
“But what about poor Ryan?” Ann asked.
Ryan paced the confines of his apartment, Ethan foremost in his thoughts. Oh, my God, Ethan. What are we going to do? I love you so much that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. There’s got to be a way for us to be together. I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off, but I swear to you that someday, somehow, no matter where you are, I’ll be there.