As Ryan paced back and forth, he became more and more agitated. There is an answer and I’ve got to find it somehow. I just don’t know where to begin looking. I’m getting really frustrated. The sound of his comp-com ringing startled him out of his thoughts. Duncan was calling his. “Duncan. What’s up?”
“I’m just calling to check on you to see how you’re doing.”
“How I’m doing? How I’m doing? How the fuck do you think I’m doing?” Ryan answered with a little more heat than he intended. But then again, with all the rage and frustration, maybe it wasn’t enough.
“I’m not going to insult you by saying I know what you’re going through because I don’t. I wish I could understand, though. What can I do to help you get through this?”
“That’s kind of a stupid question, isn’t it?” Ryan responded sarcastically as he ran his hand through his hair. “The answer is rather obvious. I need Ethan in my life, and I don’t give a flying fuck what time period we live in, as long as we’re together.”
“You know that’s not possible.”
“Fuck you! I’m gonna make it possible.”
“I just don’t know what to do,” Chris told Alicia over the phone. “He hasn’t opened the shop in a week. I think his heart isn’t in it anymore. He’s been depressed ever since Ryan was taken back to his time, and it’s getting worse. He’s not eating or anything. All he does is sleep. I’m starting to get worried about him. I’m also worried about the shop. It’s his life; and what about his customers?”
“I’ll come over and try and talk to him. Why don’t you go to the shop, find out who his current customers are and call them and let them know that he’s really sick and will reopen the shop when he’s feeling better.”
“That sounds like a good idea. I’ll talk to you later.” Hanging up, Chris headed up to Ethan’s bedroom. As expected, he was asleep. Laying a gentle hand on Ethan’s shoulder, Chris whispered, “Ethan, I promise you that I will do anything and everything I can to help you and Ryan. There’s an answer out there somewhere and we’ll find it together.” He left Ethan’s room and headed out to the shop. Grabbing a clipboard and pen, he went from piece to piece, gathering customer names and phone numbers when he noticed a strange metal box with a button on it in an open desk drawer. Pulling it out, he examined it closely. He recognized it as one of the boxes Ryan and his associates used to return to their own time. I have an idea.
Okay. They disabled my normal access codes, but I’m willing to be that they forgot about my emergency codes. I could submit my resignation via scheduled delivery comp messaging, then use my emergency codes to go back to Ethan. This time, they won’t be able to slip me a beacon. What’s that ancient saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. They won’t get a second chance to trick me. Ryan was convinced he had a solid plan; the only problem was when he could accomplish it.
After rereading the newspaper article several times, Liam set it down. “Okay, supposing that this article is correct,” he pointed to the article about the three Evans’s disappearing without a trace, “I can think of three ways the paradox alarm could have been triggered; one, neither Ethan nor his brother were supposed to come forward; two, only Ethan was supposed to come forward and three, all three Evans’s were supposed to come forward. The question is how do we figure out which one, if any of them, are correct?”
“As I see it,” Cindy opined, “the only way is to try all three; just be ready to send them back if and when the alarm goes off.”
“Good luck getting Duncan to agree with that,” Adrienne spoke up.
“Ethan, get up. You need to shave, shower and get dressed. You’re going on a trip.” Chris ordered, shaking Ethan’s shoulder.
“What? Why? Where am I going?”
“Just get your ass out of bed and get ready. I’ll tell you once you’re dressed. Be sure to wear tight jeans and a clingy t-shirt.” Chris grabbed the covers and pulled them off. “Ewww,” he said when he caught a glimpse of his naked brother.
Ethan got himself ready, dressing in his tightest jeans and t-shirt. “Okay, so where am I supposed to be going, and when am I leaving?”
“Hold out your hand.” When Ethan complied, Chris slapped the beacon into his hand and hit the button.
“What the fuu…” Ethan said as he dematerialized.
The klaxon sounded then the alarm system announced, “Unauthorized travellator activation. Unauthorized travellator activation.” Before the alarm repeated it’s warning, everyone was up and running towards the control room. Arriving in the control room they found a startled Ethan standing in the travellator. Surprisingly, nobody noticed that the paradox alarm did not sound. Liam was the first to reach the travellator. “Ethan? How did you get here?” Clearly shaken, he slowly held out his hand with the beacon. “How did you get ahold of a beacon?” Ethan just shook his head, the shock of an unexpected trip through time preventing him from answering.
“I think I can answer that question,” Connor said. “I’m willing to bet that this was Ryan’s and he dropped it when I snagged him and brought him back.”
“Speaking of Ryan, someone should call him and let him know that Ethan is here.” Adrienne directed her next statement to Ethan, approaching him slowly and holding out her hand. “I’m Adrienne. I’m a good friend of Ryan’s. Why don’t you come and sit down. Can I get you something to drink?”
“Water please,” Ethan whispered.
Duncan burst into the control room. “What the fuck is going on?”