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6.12 - The Trouble With Doubles
by ThomasMalthus

Chapter One

The alarm clock emitted its familiar toneless electronic buzz. 'I must've forgot to turn it off. Damn. My day off and I don't even get to sleep in.' Getting up was awkward, as usual on days when he didn't have to rush to get everything done before he headed to work. And the back pain wasn't helping matters either. That spring in the bed popped out again, leaving a small scratch on the middle of his back for the umptizillionth time.

Once he returned to his room from his regular morning bathroom rituals, he saw that his prize poster had come loose on one end. Lizzie had probably been hiding in his closet again while he was at work. Mom and her new boyfriend drove her there just about every time they were alone together. He secured the thumbtack back into the wall and smoothed it until it presented a clear picture again. He took a moment to look at it in awe.

"Moon Rangers: the Motion Picture". Autographed by the entire cast. He'd paid an arm and a leg for it, but it had been worth it. "Moon Rangers" was his favorite TV show of all time, bar none, but there was something that set him apart from real fans...he had an affinity for the real thing. Thinking of that made him glance at the framed picture right next to the poster. 'Max Arturo,' he thought. 'The man who started it all.' He continued to look at the photo and then glanced back at the poster. Hell, Patrick Stewart didn't even look like him. Well, maybe a little.

He exited his bedroom and thought he heard the TV on. Lizzie had probably forgot to turn it off before she went to school. He decided he'd have his standard breakfast for when mom wasn't around: fritos and orange juice. He reached for a couple of the small bags he had stashed above the refrigerator and tossed it onto the couch. "Ow!" he heard a hoarse little voice exclaim.

"Lizzie?" he asked suspiciously. "Why aren't you at school?"

"I'm sick," she replied as pitifully as she could muster. She sank further into her blanket as she spoke the words.

"You're faking," he said, playing with her as much as anything else.

"I am not, Herbie!!" she defended herself and then descended into a coughing fit. Herbie was the name she called him when she wanted to particularly annoy him, as everybody knew it was Herb now.

He moved over to her and made a show of feeling her forehead. "I guess you are sick," he said, with only mild surprise. Lizzie had been known to fake an illness from time to time, but she had never actually fooled mom. He had taken himself over a tall glass of juice as well as the pitcher (it was unlikely one would be enough). Before he sat down, he decided to be helpful to his sick little sister. "You want some O.J.?"

"No thanks," she said, sneezing lightly into the wad of tissues that she held in her hands. She was watching "State Center High", a positively insipid teen morning drama that only an 11-year-old could love. "You wanna watch 'Moon Rangers', right?" she asked with a small roll of her eyes.

She had already started to enter the channel number with the remote when her brother stopped her. "Nah. It's the 'Deep Sea Adventure' episode," he said with a mild shudder in his voice.

"Oh," Lizzie replied as if she couldn't care less.

"Hey, shouldn't you be in bed or something?" he started to ask when the phone rang. Please let it not be one of Chuck's friends. They always said something humiliating to him. "Hello?"

"Max Arturo's on TV. Just thought you should know." After a moment, he recognized the voice as Quentin's. He had been a member of the Lunatics for a while, but he lost interest after that new 'Magic' show came out.

"I know that, QBall," he said, using the group's old pet name for the guy. "It's the 'Jaws' ripoff and I've seen it a hundred times. It was one of the worst episodes. Plus that guest actress they got was so bad we named our award for worst guest actor of the week after her, remember?"

"I'm not talking about that," Quentin told him, more than a little exasperated. "He's on the news."

He paused to consider whether his old fellow Lunatic was joshing him. If so, his voice didn't give it away. "What's going on?"

"I just thought you should know," Quentin answered him (without really answering him) and hung up the phone.

Just a little dumbstruck, he turned around to face the TV. "Switch it to NNN, Lizzie," he told his sister in a soft voice. The girl protested, but eventually relented. She headed off to her bedroom in defeat.

You know how in the movies and on television when somebody tells a character to turn it to a certain channel just as the story that concerns them starts? Well, this wasn't like that. "...have yet to get a comment from them or Christina Arturo. In other news, the Arizona Mets..." He tuned out. There was something Arturo-related, but he didn't catch it all. He switched to local news quickly. Here his luck fared better. "...entity of the others pictured with the famed Arturo, but I believe we can assume they are some of his most loyal Moonatics." Herb cringed at the word. 'Moonatics' was only used by the ignorant media, 'lunatics' was clever, apt and subtle (the word derived from Luna, the scientific name for the moon, for cryin' out loud!) yet nobody seemed to grasp that but him.

"If you're just tuning in, famed 'moon explorer' Maximilian Arturo has apparently returned to Earth this morning as this already controversial footage shows. Arturo and three other as yet unidentified individuals entered the Motel 12 and tried to check in. Since this story broke that building has been literally besieged by rabid fans and the inquisitive alike..." Herb stopped listening. He dug through the drawers that sat next to the TV, looking for his old phone directory. He finally withdrew it and started frantically dialing. It was time to get the gang back together.

"Hear ye, hear ye," the overenthusiastic voice of Herb's not-so-slightly overweight pal Morris called from the podium. "I hereby declare this meeting of the San Francisco chapter of the Lunatics to be, uh, starting." He also wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. It didn't really matter, though; nobody was paying attention. "The honorable Herb Templeton, President." Now Mo realized nobody was listening. "Hey, uh, Herb. You might want to, you know, preside."

He looked intently at the television. He didn't know why he had to watch the clip over and over (Tommy graciously let the group tape the oft-repeated footage of Arturo entering the hotel on his tape of "Dungeons and Dragons: The Series". It had only lasted six episodes, so there was plenty of room.) But everyone else seemed to be doing it as well.

"He's gained weight," George pointed out, sticking his finger at the blurry, paused image of their hero, Max Arturo. "I wonder what the Martians fed him."

Herb let a half-smile escape his lips. "And just why would there be Martians on the moon, Georgie my boy?"

George made a scoffing sound. "What, are you forgetting the entire fourth season?"

"That was a TV show, George. This is real," he said, letting out a little more anger than he wanted to.

George got really defensive really fast. "Well, if it wasn't Martians, what has he been up to for twenty-five years?"

"It's a big publicity stunt," Lewie, the most cynical of the group, threw out. "They just hired some Max Arturo lookalike to promote Blastoff Week on Space Fantasy Adventure Network." Everybody groaned. They were in no mood for Lewie's paranoia. Still, George asked a poignant question and one nobody knew enough to answer yet. Nobody except the British man sitting on his duff in a Motel 12.

"They're not even showing 'Moon Rangers' in a decent timeslot any more, Lewie," Tommy cried out from his position closest to the TV. "Hell, they're not even showing it now, to cash in on this whole thing." He flipped over to reveal old episodes of "The Nation Time Misplaced" as proof and then flipped it off in disgust.

"Hey, uh, I know I probably already asked, but what time's the press conference?" Morris asked.

"7:00," Herb answered in a monotone. He moved to turn the TV back on and pushed play on the VCR. He rewound the tape to watch Arturo walk across the street with those three other guys. Who were they, anyway? Some sort of space retrieval team the government didn't even let us know about? Now he was beginning to sound like Lewie.

"That reminds me," George piped up. "I need to pick up Anne at ConcertLord at 6:30." As George left, the others found various things to do to occupy their time until the time Max Arturo had set for his press conference. They played Tommy's new 16-bit Atari 5000 (and were bored with it within fifteen minutes). They watched reruns of whatever other second- or third-run series the SFA Network were showing. Really what they were doing was waiting and they weren't very good at that. They could barely hold in their enthusiasm.

At 6:57 they turned the TV dial to Channel 6. The cameras were already set up outside the Motel 12 and one of the local network's more insipid-looking reporters was already on the scene blathering some nonsense that Herb and the rest of the group ignored. George and Anne entered with tacos just as the good stuff started to start. Maximilian Arturo walked into the room. They all could recognize him, despite the years. He had a face you couldn't forget.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press," Maximilian Arturo spoke with deep resentment in his voice. "It is because of your annoying persistence that I have decided to call this conference." Even when he paused for a moment to clear his throat, dozens of hands went up. "You're all going to be asking me the same question, so I guess I'll just get to the point. I've never been to the moon. I'm never going to the moon. But if you vultures don't leave me alone I may send a few of you there! Is everything perfectly clear now?" He stormed off before anyone could respond. Everyone just sat there, stunned for a moment.

Finally, one of Channel 6's reporters managed to comment. "Puzzling words from the man who twenty five years ago announced he was attempting to reach the moon..." Tommy flipped off the TV numbly.

"W..what do we do now?" Morris asked, expressing a common sentiment among the group.

"I think it's obvious what's happened," Herb said with firmness in his voice. His eyes had never left the television screen, even after the images of Arturo had disappeared from it. "That's not the real Max Arturo. It's an alien."

Chapter Two

"It just doesn't make sense!" Lewie exclaimed, as the Lunatics convened the next day to decide what to do about what Herb described as the 'Arturo situation'. "Why would an alien disguised as Maximilian Arturo come to Earth and deny ever going to the moon?!"

"It makes perfect sense," the group's president replied calmly. "Haven't you guys been following the news lately? Our scientists now believe that we have the technology to reach the moon, possibly even by 2005. Think about it: if you're a group of malevolent aliens, wouldn't you want to stop us interloping humans from joining the outer space club? And who better to send that message than Max Arturo... or at least somebody who looks like him?"

"I can buy it," Morris responded quickly. "What other explanation is there?" Nobody had a good answer for that. Lewie looked like he was about to say something, but then thought better of it.

"The question remains: what are we going to do about it?" Tommy brought up. All the other members of the group looked to Herb for the answer.

"Simple," he replied. "We kidnap him and force him to tell us the truth." The reaction from the club was complete silence.

"Sounds dangerous," George commented, his chin firmly entrenched in his hands as he lay flat on the floor.

"And illegal," Lewie pointed out. "I mean yeah, his behavior's weird, but that doesn't necessarily mean..."

"What it does necessarily mean is we should know what's going on with him," Tommy asserted. "We're fans. He owes us at least that much."

"He doesn't owe us..." Lewie began to retort. However, he was quickly cut off by the others.

"Yeah, we should know what happened to him..." "There's too much we don't know about this whole situation, he can at least tell us..." "I still think it's dangerous..."

Herb threw his hands in the air. "Alright, alright. It's agreed then. We nab this Arturo look-a-like. What we need now is a plan of action. I think the first problem is: how do we get into the Motel 12?"

"I don't think that's going to be an issue," Anne responded with a silly grin on her face. "My boyfriend, well, ex-boyfriend, can you believe he'd never even heard of 'Doctor When'?, used to work there and he left some of his old uniforms at my place. You could probably say you were new hired help, although security might have gotten tighter over the last few days."

Herb scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Alright. Now it's just a matter of who goes in."

Herb pushed the laundry cart off of the elevator. "It's safe to come out, guys," he stage whispered to the others. Tommy and George, a little more nervous than they were trying to let on, emerged from the elevator in their
ill-fitting uniforms.

"Where do we go from here?" Tommy asked Herb.

"His room's on this floor," Herb stated with authority. "I saw his room service tray go up here."

"How do you know it was his?" George asked.

"It was a big tray," Herb told him. "If we keep under the radar, so to speak, and keep our ears open, we're bound to hear the guy sooner or later."

"And then what?" George demanded to know.

"Then...we improvise." The three of them walked slowly and discreetly around the floor. They heard babies crying, a couple fighting in a language they were pretty sure only the lovebirds themselves could understand and somebody snoring so loud it shook the walls.

Finally, however, they came upon Maximilian Arturo's voice, which was a truly unmistakable sound (they had already heard it plenty of times from playing the tape back over and over again). They couldn't make out all of
what he was saying. "...a terrible idea, Mr. Mall...don't know what you could be thinking, or if you even are..."

The three of them stood seized with trepidation outside his door. "Well, make like Colin Mochrie already," Tommy said a little more forcefully than he perhaps should have. Herb mustered up all of his courage to rap at the door.

He had to muster up a bit more, because apparently Arturo hadn't heard him over the sound of his own voice. He knocked harder. "Oh, what in blazes is it now?" called his booming voice from inside.

"Cleaning service," he spoke loudly from the outside.

"You were just in here!" Arturo exclaimed.

"I...I know," Herb fumbled. "But we left something in your room by accident." It sounded good at the time, anyway.

"By accident, eh?" he grumbled. "By the looks of this place the only thing that could have been left here by accident is something that's actually clean!" At that outburst, they wondered if he was going to open the door at
all. Nonetheless, he did begrudgingly open the door to his room.

The three of them entered quickly and actually did what they had to do with a minimum amount of screw-ups. George gagged the man who claimed to be Arturo with some bedsheets they had brought up in the laundry cart while Tommy hit him with a tire iron over the head (not too hard though, just enough to subdue him for now). After a few tries, they were able to get Arturo into the cart.

But not before they were seen. Screw-up number one.

An African-American male somewhat younger than Arturo emerged from the bathroom with a towel covering his body and a colorful-looking yarmulke on his head. "Hey, what the devil are you people doing?"

"Nothing, gotta go," Herb replied and the three of them whisked off with the cart as fast as they could go. George ran ahead and pressed the button for the elevator and, luckily, it came quickly. Not so luckily, there were others in it. Screw-up number two.

A tall, bald man in a business suit and an elderly woman looked at them strangely. After an awkward silence of a few moments (as they'd had no time to cover their recent captive in bedsheets as they'd planned to), Tommy came up with, "Man, people pass out in the weirdest places." It was a little lame, but it would have to do.

They managed to cover Arturo up and walk through the lobby without drawing undue (actually it was due) attention to themselves. That was, until they walked out of the hotel. Screw-up number three.

"You can't take that out of here!!" the man at the desk exclaimed loudly as he followed after them.

"Uh...we're taking it to be cleaned," George reassured the man unconvincingly.

"Hey, who are you people anyway?" he asked them. "I've never seen you before."

"Look, buddy," Tommy said, noticing out of the corner of his eye that the van Anne was driving (Morris', her car had been in the shop for weeks now). "We need this cart for an experiment. Any chance you could part with it for, say, twenty bucks?"

"What an insult!" he exclaimed indignantly. "Forty".

"Deal." Tommy tossed off the bills and they loaded the thing onto the van.

Herb and the gang watched as Maximilian Arturo slowly came to. "Where am I?" he asked groggily.

"Don't worry, Mr. Arturo, you're safe here," George assured him.

"We've taken you hostage," Herb answered coldly, as if to offset the friendly tone taken by George.

Arturo groaned in response. "I'm getting fed up with being kidnapped and tied to a chair," the elder British man complained from his current confined state. "On the next world I'm buying a gun!"

"Next world?" Tommy asked, partially amused, partially fearful.

"I haven't got the time or the energy to explain myself to the likes of you!" Arturo bellowed. "Let me go now and I won't press charges."

"Out of the question," Herb replied, pacing as dramatically as he could back and forth in front of the man who both was and was not Maximilian Arturo.

"What the devil do you want with me, then?" he asked resignedly.

"We want the truth," George exclaimed a little more enthusiastically than perhaps he should have.

"What truth?" Arturo queried quizzically. "I told you, I didn't go to the moon."

"We don't believe you," Morris spat. "You're some kind of alien, sent here to misinform us about Arturo's mission."

"That's preposterous!" he exclaimed. "I'm every bit as human as...you are!" he continued with an awkward pause. "That would have sounded more convincing if I had a better object of comparison."

"What do we do with him now, Herb?" Tommy asked. "Should we find ways to make him talk?"

"No," Herb answered after a brief pause. "I just have one question for him."

Chapter Three

"And what would that be, exactly?" Arturo, now seemingly bemused by the whole situation, asked his newfound captors.

"Why?" Herb spoke with intensity. "Why toy with us like this? Why take off for outer space and then lie about it a generation later, after every schoolboy knows your story? Why treat your fans like they don't matter?"

"I wish I could answer for..." Arturo started, but Herb wasn't finished.

"And why...why when you were so blasted close to figuring out the actual formulas for space travel did you decide to concoct this hoax?" Herb asked angrily, taking them all by surprise. "Yeah, I've looked at the math and the formulas, and I don't really understand them. But the guys at the DSE say you weren't that far behind them, and in some ways were more advanced. But you didn't have quite enough figured out to build an actual rocket? So where were you all this time? The south of France? Tahiti?"

The others stared on, dumbfounded. Arturo looked as if he didn't quite know what to say. "I'm not the man you think I am."

"No," Herb replied quickly. "No, you're not. I just wanted to see it with my own eyes." Herb walked away slowly and started up the basement steps. "Untie him. Get him the hell out of here." The others did so without saying a word.

"Artie," came a voice seemingly from very far away. He was being shaken, he knew that. "Artie, they stop serving breakfast in ten minutes, get out of bed."

There was always a certain amount of disorientation when he woke up at the Sunny Grove Rest Home. He hoped he would always feel it, that he would never get used to it and start thinking of it as home, as some of the others had. He rose slowly, nodding his thanks to his roommate Carl, as he put his glasses on. He donned his robe and slippers and went to go get breakfast.

"Hi, Doris," he said to the lady behind the counter. "You're looking especially dapper today." The woman said nothing, but gave him what this particular institution passed off as a morning meal without so much as looking at him. It was the same routine he'd gone through every day for a month. It was getting old.

The television was on, if Artie wasn't mistaken, it was old reruns of the Eddie Albert Show. He'd seen this one, too. "So, what's on the agenda for today?" he asked playfully.

"What's with you, Artie?" The question came from a man whose name Artie could never remember. Used to be some kind of banker.

"I'm telling you, today's going to be a big day, I can feel it." His brightened expression remained unmirrored in the faces of his companions. "OK, so I'm alone here. Doesn't matter." He continued eating breakfast, thinking about all the possibilities that a new day brought him and tried his best not to be depressed when he realized that those were very few indeed. His thoughts were quickly disturbed, however, by the loudness of the television in the next room.

"Would you mind turning that down?" he asked the attendant in a loud voice. When he got no audible response from the nurse that was on duty, he moved to take his tray to be cleaned and, while he was up, went to complain about the television. "Didn't you hear what I said?"

"There's big news breaking, Mr. Feld," the man behind the glass replied, keeping his own eyes glued to the pitiful little black-and-white screen he was watching. Artie followed the action for a few moments, some English guy had just come back from space or some nonsense, but froze in place when he recognized a face. "Remmy?" he wondered aloud.

'Could it really be Rembrandt Brown?' he thought to himself. Rembrandt had been a small-time R & B act until he joined an already-established group called the Persuasions. He worked his way up to lead singer, but he wasn't quite as good as the guy he replaced, so the group ditched him after a few albums. That was when Artie took over. He hadn't had much of a solo career, but Artie had been with him every step of the way. Now here he was on everyone in America's television screens.

Artie stood slowly. If this wasn't opportunity knocking, it never would. A plan started forming in his mind. This would be his ticket. Out of here and to the big time, at last. Artie Feld would have his day.

"Artie?" said the voice on the other end of the phone. It had taken him a few minutes and not little bit of wrangling with the people who ran the home, but he had finally gotten in touch with his old friend. Or at least so he hoped. "I'm surprised that I knew you on this worl...I mean, that I still remember you."

"Of course you still remember me!" Artie exclaimed. "I took you all the way to the top!"

"The top?" Rembrandt's voice sounded quizzical but also a little oddly optimistic.

"Well, pretty close to it any way," Artie said quickly. "Listen, have you got an agent, Remmy? I saw you on the news with that moon guy and it could mean big things for you."

"Yeah, about that," said Rembrandt. "I'm not sure this is the best thing...how big we talkin'?"

"Big. Big big. John Tesh big." Rembrandt paused for a moment. Artie didn't know quite how to fill the gaps of their conversation. "I've got gigs lined up you wouldn't believe."

"Really?" Rembrandt asked. At that moment a conversation seemed to be growing intense for a moment. Rembrandt asked to be excused and put the phone down for a moment. When he picked it back up, he asked, "Can I call you back?"

"Let me call you back, Remmy, you're the red hot star. Though that better not be another agent in the room with you." Artie chuckled with what he hoped sounded like confidence. "Tomorrow morning, I'll give you a ring. I'll have gigs for you that'll blow your mind."

"Sounds good. Goodbye, Artie," Rembrandt said with some note of excitement in his voice.

"Goodbye, Remmy," he said as he heard the click on the other line. "And hello, Artie."

"I swear to you, Bill, this guy's the real deal. He'll make us both filthy stinkin' rich!!" Artie stated emphatically. He even gestured wildly, despite the fact the other man couldn't see him. It was yet another phone conversation.

"What did you say your name was again?" he said, sounding like he was addressing the delivery boy who brought him his lunch.

"Artie!" he yelled. "Artie Feld!" There was a distinct pause. "I got you into this business! I gave you your job!"

"I'm aware of that, Arnie," the man went on, "but this...Van Gogh Brown..."

"Rembrandt Brown," Artie corrected, though he did not bother to do so with his own name.

"He's not really what we're looking for right now," he went on, not really paying much attention to what the older man was saying.

Artie took a deep breath. "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was talking to a representative of a talent agency! Cause that's what this guy is, pure talent!!"

"Mr. Feld," the nurse who'd let him in here said, "I'm afraid you're going to have to keep it down. You've abused your phone privileges as is..."

"Just give me one more minute," Artie pleaded. The woman frowned, but acquiesced. She left the room.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Feld, I wish I could be of more help to you..." said the other man; his first name was Bill, Artie remembered, but he couldn't think of his last one.

"I'll make you sorry. I don't need you. I don't need anybody." He slammed the phone. All he needed was Rembrandt and a gig.

"So, does anybody here know of any music gigs that are going down? Might need a good singer?" Artie asked his fellow residents of Sunny Grove Rest Home. They merely stared at him in response.

"Oh, come on," he continued. "You've got to give me something, people." Still, he was met with only silence. "Jonathon, aren't you always telling me about that rich brat grandson of yours, always insisting on the best for his little brat kids?"

"Yes," he replied reluctantly.

"Ask him if he needs an act. Not just any act. An act from a classic R & B artist, who has spent the last ten, no fifteen, years honing his act to complete perfection. So that it captures the magic and power of 1960s Motown. An act that will not only come to dominate the San Francisco music scene, but eventually take the nation by storm!!"

A gruff "I'll see what I can do," was his only response.

The next morning Artie called Rembrandt. "Hey, Remmy, have I ever got news for you."

"What? Is it a gig? How much do I get?" he asked eagerly.

Artie smiled widely. "First, answer me this, Rembrandt. Have you ever done a bar mitzvah?"

Chapter Four

"Are you in a nursing home, Artie?" Remmy asked without much tact.

"What?" Artie answered, feigning surprise. "How did you get that idea?"

"The woman that answered the phone said..."

"Oh, her," Artie interrupted, making 'her' sound like a dirty word. "New secretary with a weird sense of humor. She's gone tomorrow, I swear."

"Yeah," Rembrandt answered in a voice that didn't fill Artie with confidence. "Listen, I've got to cancel the gig."

"What?!" Artie exclaimed. "The secretary's fired, I told you. It was a prank, Remmy. Lighten up will ya?"

"It's not that," Rembrandt sighed. "Something's come up and nobody else is available to take care of it."

"It sounds like you're bailing on me, Remmy," Artie replied chidingly.

"I guess I am," Rembrandt answered. Before Artie could squawk in protest, he went on. "We're going to be leaving town soon and I don't really have time to take any more gigs."

"You don't have time," Artie answered, a little numbly. "Look, we can stay in touch, even if you leave town..."

"Not in the town I'm going to," Rembrandt half-chuckled.

"Why? Where are you headed? Outer Mongolia?" Artie said with heavy sarcasm in his voice. "I thought we were headed for the big time, Remmy."

"I think we could have," Rembrandt replied wistfully. "I really do. I'm sorry, Artie."

"Me, too," Artie grumbled.

Kelly James awoke when her neck attempted to move around on the pillow, only to discover that there was no pillow. Her eyes blinked open and she saw that she had fallen asleep on the couch again. 'Damn,' she thought to herself. She searched frantically for the time and mentally swore again. She was already behind schedule. Only about five minutes to get Kaitlin and Eric ready for school before...

"Kelly!" came the bellowing voice from the bedroom. "Do you have breakfast ready?"

"Coming right up," she called back quickly. She scrambled into the kitchen and started to make his usual breakfast. Eric then entered the kitchen as only a six year old can. He was banging a toy drum that he had fished out of his toy chest. She had hoped he had forgotten the toy; it had been so long since he'd played with it, he probably scattered toys across his room getting it out. Oh well. That was just another chore for later.

"Eric, can you put that away right now?" she said, her final two words turning it from a request into a harsher-than-necessary order. He sulkingly obeyed, tromping back to his room beating the drum only slightly less loudly on the way.

"Kaitlin, is he dressed yet?" she yelled across the house to her nine-year-old. The girl had likely assumed more responsibility than was healthy for her age, but Kelly couldn't help it. There needed to be someone else around this house who could something accomplished without a major hassle.

"Almost, mom," the little girl's harried voice answered. As Kelly turned over the eggs, she didn't even notice that her husband of almost ten years (tomorrow, in fact, not that he'd be likely to remember) was standing behind her.

"Damn it, Kelly!!" he exclaimed, taking an unused pan and throwing it across the room as hard as he could. "I told you I have to leave early today and I don't have time for women who can't get things done on time!!"

"I...I'm sorry," she replied meekly.

"You'll think sorry when I get home," he growled. "I'll have to get something on the way to work." He left the house without another word.

Kelly flipped the eggs onto a plate and turned off the stove perhaps as speedily as any human in the history of cooking. She let herself relax for a moment and then decided to check on Kaitlin and Eric. Once they were safely off to school, she felt she could relax. She sprinkled some pepper on the eggs that were almost Humphrey's. She couldn't allow herself to worry about what would happen when he got home. Who knows, maybe he'd be in a better mood by then? She could always hope.

She sat down to watch TV while she ate. She couldn't stand most morning shows, but she did like to watch a little bit of the morning news on Channel Six. "...amed 'moon explorer' Maximilian Arturo has apparently returned to Earth this morning as this already controversial footage shows. Arturo and three other as yet unidentified individuals entered the Motel 12..." Kelly's hand let go of the plate and it hit her lap. Some egg yolk splattered on the couch but at the moment she couldn't have cared less. She donned her coat and grabbed her car keys off the hook next to the door. She had someone to see.

She had no idea what a mob would be surrounding the motel, or she would have taken greater precautions. Like brought a stun gun. These had to be the most rude people ever. She shoved her way through the horde as best she could.

At long last, she made it up to the check-in desk. "Excuse me," she said to one of the men standing behind the counter. "Excuse me!" she repeated emphatically.

"Let me guess," the exasperated man responded. "You demand to see Maximilian Arturo. Or at least have his telephone number or his room number or an autograph or a lock of his hair? Listen, lady, I've been getting these same requests all day..."

"No," she exclaimed. "I want to see Wade Welles. She was on TV with that moon guy, so she's staying here too, right?"

The man, practically relieved to be doing something that wasn't crowd control related, the man checked through the names of the people who had checked into the motel. "Uh, yes," he then leaned in to her and whispered, "Room 313."

She waited on the sidelines, acting like he had told her nothing that could be construed as useful. When she saw the police were about to break this party up, she made her way up the stairs to the third floor.

As she approached the door to the room where the portly man at the desk told her Wade was staying, she had no idea what she would say to her sister. She guessed she would think of something appropriate. Kelly knocked on the door and waited for her to answer.

When she did hear a voice, it was obviously not Wade's, but it was angry. "Can I help you?" She examined the man. He was in his late twenties, had shaggy brown hair and an average build. He looked like the type to cause trouble wherever he went. She wasn't a bit surprised he would hook up with Wade.

"I need to see my sister. You don't mind, do you?" she replied a little coldly.

His response was odd, she thought. A slight smile crossed his face. "One minute." The door closed in her face, but instead of doing anything rash, she just waited patiently. It paid off. Wade came out to greet her.

"Kelly! I can't tell you how good it is to see a friendly face..." was all she managed to get out before her sister slapped her in the face as hard as she could.

"How dare you!" she said.

Recovering rapidly, Wade sounded like she was confused. "How dare I what?"

"How dare you come back here, for one," she spat. "You must have been kicked out of a hell of a lot of places to end up back in San Francisco." Wade continued her innocent act. "What about the money? Where is it? Don't tell me you've spent all of it."

"What money?" Wade asked, sounding more idiotic by the moment.

"The money that mom and dad left us," she replied, putting much needed emphasis on the word us, "but which you decided was just for you to blow on...God knows what."

"You've got it wrong," Wade told her.

"Do I?" She looked Wade in the eyes, something she hadn't done since they began their little conversation. "OK, tell me what part I got wrong. Mom and Dad died in a car accident. They left all their assets, including several hundred thousand dollars in insurance money, to both of us. I get pregnant by Humphrey James..."

"Humphrey James," Wade said incredulously. "You left that jerk ten years ago. I helped you pack your bags."

"Is that what you believe? Is that what gets you to sleep at night?" she replied venomously. "I didn't leave him, I married him. I didn't have the money to support myself because you split with it." Wade had nothing to say at that. "I don't know why I came here. Except to tell you that you're not welcome. Goodbye, Wade."

Chapter Five

Kelly Welles sat soaking in the bathtub. She closed her eyes, trying to make herself forget about everything that had happened over the last day and a half. The meeting with Wade had gone worse than she had imagined, although quite honestly she wasn't sure what would happen there. Her husband had pulled one of his famous "incidents", but luckily she would be rid of him for a few days. A business trip. More like a godsend as far as Kelly was concerned.

She rose, dressed and entered the other room. She wasn't up for housework yet and the kids wouldn't be home from school for several hours. She put herself down in front of the television and became absorbed in her favorite soap operas, her only care for the moment being whether or not Reggie was the father of Faith's baby. Then the phone rang. She considered not answering it, it was probably somebody for Humphrey anyway, but after three rings picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Kelly," came a familiar voice on the other end. It was Wade.

"Damn it," she swore. "I told you I didn't want to see you again."

"No," she responded with a sort of dopey sound to her voice. "You didn't. I left without saying a word. Remember?"

"How could I forget," she seethed. "But that was ten years ago. I'm talking about our little meeting yesterday."

"Yesterday?" Wade echoed. "I wasn't in San Fran yesterday, Kelly. I've been in New York all week."

"Whatever," she cursed. "If you want to lie and play games, I'd suggest you do it with someone who hasn't put up with it before. I'm sick of it."

"Look, I didn't call to fight," Wade said, trying to establish a new tone for the conversation and failing. "I sent you something. I just...I want to make amends, Kelly. I was really messed up for a while, and I'm sorry you got the worst of it. But I've really turned my life around..."

"Well, that's great," she spat. "How wonderful for you. Why don't you come to visit, hmm? Show me all the lovely gifts you've bought yourself with my money!"

"Stop." It was not a command, it was a request although not by much. This was clearly hard for her. "I understand if you're less than thrilled about hearing from me. I don't know what's going on in your life and you don't know where I'm coming from either. I know I can never make up for what I've done, not really. But I just hope the gift I've sent you will start to make things, I don't know, better."

"You want to know about my life?" she said, her voice now cold. "I got married to Humphrey. I couldn't walk away from him, not pregnant and broke and friendless. That's my life now, Wade. And since it's your fault, maybe you can understand that I don't care what your life is like and I don't want your pity or your presents or anything else from you." She paused and Wade said nothing. It was a welcome change of pace as far as Kelly was concerned. "Maybe I should make myself even more clear this time. I don't want to see you and I don't want to hear from you. Understood?"

"Yeah," Wade answered softly. "If you change your mind, it should be coming in the mail any day..." Kelly hung up.

She picked up the remote and switched the television off. Moving back on the couch, she eventually curled up into a ball and began to weep as silently as she could. There was a possibility, however remote, that Wade was sincere about making up. It had been ten years and that was a long time to carry a grudge. But the incident yesterday, and worse yet Wade's denial of the incident yesterday, made it seem like just another one of her mind games. She did miss having someone to talk to.

But there was too much pain and anger. Kelly bit her lip thinking about what Wade's abandonment and theft had meant for her life. She couldn't give her the satisfaction of forgiving her, or at least not yet. Perhaps most pressing of all, she didn't want Wade to come here, to see what life had reduced her to. She had had such great plans.

The mail came and Kelly, as usual, went out to get it. After weeding through everything that was obviously for Humphrey's eyes only, she came upon an envelope with her name on it. She opened it. It was a check for five hundred thousand dollars from Wade. She barely held back the tears as she tore it to pieces.

Melissa blearily turned off the alarm clock and put her head back down on the pillow. It was one of her rare days off from work and she was on one of her much in-demand excursions, so why shouldn't she enjoy a few more hours of sleep? Particularly since the only thing that could have kept her awake was now at his own place of employment. "We've really got to make our schedules match..." she mumbled. She then felt a twinge of guilt and wished she had never thought or said it. Her stomach balled up in a knot.

There was little chance of getting to sleep now, but she tried anyway. As she suspected, after tossing and turning for about fifteen minutes, she still laid there, conscious but bleary eyed. She rose, showered quickly and dressed for a leisurely day on the beach. After donning her sunglasses, she stepped outside the door and began to look at the ocean. She squinted and continued to scan the horizon.

It was fruitless, really. He wasn't ever coming back. She knew that. She just couldn't bring herself to declare him dead. 'It shouldn't be up to me,' she thought. His mother had never given up hope and likely never would. How could Melissa face Mrs. Mallory again if she was the one who made her son officially a dead man?

She managed to submerge these thoughts in her mind and moved out to her usual spot on the beach. Once there, she was able to fall asleep. She was still dozing when her cell phone rang. She cursed inwardly. She had brought the accursed thing out here by accident. "Hello?" she answered with anger in her voice.

"Missy?" a voice on the other end who she immediately recognized as Mildred, one of her more uptight coworkers.

"Mildred, you do know this is my day off, right?" Melissa asked without much restraint. "I worked on that filing project you've been struggling with the past two weeks all morning yesterday..."

"That's not what I'm calling about," she interrupted, a little nonplussed herself. "I just saw something on the news, about that guy who tried to land on the sun about twenty years ago, anyway I could swear that was Quinn with him."

"Quinn?" she asked, still a little dazed. "Mildred, are you sure? Why would...it just doesn't make any sense," she half-exclaimed, half-whined.

"If I wasn't sure, I wouldn't have called you like this," Mildred responded gruffly. "I do have better things to do with my time than to tease you about something as serious as this."

"I...I'm sorry, Mildred," she said a little numbly. "I'll see you tomorrow." Mildred hung up after they exchanged goodbyes. Melissa had a friend at the paper, someone who had graduated from UC Berkeley with her.

"Tammy Perkins here," was the voice that answered the other line.

"Tammy," she said, not even bothering to introduce herself. "I need a favor. I've been told there was a news story involving my...husband," she swallowed. "I wanted to know if you had heard anything about it."

Tammy couldn't say anything for a moment, but eventually got her mental bearings. "Missy, honey, the only big story today has been Max Arturo's sudden arrival in San Francisco."

"Max who?" she asked.

"Arturo. You know, the moonatic guy. It's really not much of a story, not until he makes a statement anyway." Melissa figured Mildred had got it wrong (she thought that story about landing on the sun sounded fake) and asked Tammy to check into it. After she agreed, Missy decided to meet her downtown at the San Francisco Picayune's offices. Telling herself that this day was too good to last, she went back to her room, changed clothes and left her pristine beach one-day vacation behind.

Melissa stared blankly at the video footage she was watching. It was Quinn alright. She didn't know quite how to react. Except to say, "I have to go see him."

"I wouldn't advise it," Tammy told her. When Missy gave her a look, she went on. "The place is crawling with those fan geeks. There's bound to be a riot. You should probably wait, the navy will probably have some sort of official contact..."

"Can I call him?" she asked Tammy. The other woman seemed hesitant, but eventually nodded her consent. Melissa looked up the hotel's phone number and soon was connected to the room of the man she was certain was dead. "Quinn?" she asked meekly.

It took him only a few seconds to recognize her voice. "Melissa?" he questioned.

"You're alive," she replied rather insipidly on the other end. "I...I can't believe it."

"Neither can I," Quinn replied oddly. "I mean I can't believe that I'm talking to you, that you...that I'm back with you." He sounded strange, too. Did he talk like that before? She couldn't rightly remember.

"Are you ready to come home?" she asked, because it seemed to be the thing to say.

"I...yes. That sounds great." His voice started to pick up now, but still didn't sound quite right.

"OK. Just give me a little while to get things ready," she said.

"I love you, Missy," he said cheerfully.

"I love you, too," she replied and wondered if she meant it.

Chapter Six

Quinn toted his stuff into the house. Melissa took note of it. "Did the army give you that?"

"Yeah," Quinn answered, not sounding too sure himself. "Just some clothes. They thought maybe I would need..." He stopped and looked at her. "Are you sure you're OK with this?"

Damn. She hoped she had been hiding it from him. She should have known better. "Yeah. I mean, why wouldn't I be? It's weird and I'm not used to it, but there's no reason to make you stay in a hotel when..."

"We can take it slow," Quinn told her softly. "And I don't mind staying in a hotel, if it makes things easier."

Melissa wondered if there was anything that could have made this easier. If it had happened two years earlier, maybe. "No. We should do this now. You deserve to be home after all you've been through."

That seemed to brighten Quinn's expression a bit. "So...where do you want me to put all this?"

She didn't realize how awkward the question was at first, but once she batted it around in her mind, she couldn't for the life of her think of an appropriate answer. "How about on the couch for now?" she volunteered. Quinn looked less than pleased, but it was the best she could do for now. At that moment, the phone rang, breaking tension that she didn't even know was there.

Melissa answered it. A huffy Englishman was on the other line for Quinn. It sounded serious. "It's for you," she reported in a bewildered voice.

Quinn took the phone from her. "Great. Not you, too," were the first words out of his mouth. It was probably work stuff that was none of her business. She amended that. Since this work had kept her husband out of the picture for three years and her life in limbo for at least two of them, she thought it was her business. "Do we have to talk about this now," he went on, his voice clearly showing how peeved he was. "That's right." "Of course, the great and mighty Arturo has to weigh in on everything. Who could make a decision without you?" Melissa hoped this wasn't his CO he was talking to, otherwise he could be court martialed. "That's right, I don't think, do I? I'm just your little... No, I'm not going to hold just so you can chew me out some more. If you want to do something else, then this conversation's over." He hung up the phone.

"What was it?" she asked in a subdued voice.

"Just some loose ends," he answered vaguely. "The guy acts like the world will end if I leave before I do everything he wants."

She swallowed. "What was it...that kept you away? For three years?"

"I..." he started. He turned to look at her and was temporarily stunned. There was such sadness there and he really didn't know how to react to it. "Just a government project. Top secret."

"A project?" she answered with a touch of anger in her voice. "That you couldn't tell me about? I thought you were dead, Quinn. Do you have any idea how that tore me up inside?"

"I'm sorry," he said with what seemed like genuine sorrow in his voice. "But I didn't have a choice."

"I have a hard time believing that," she said coldly.

"It seems like you're having a hard time with everything," Quinn said a little more harshly perhaps than he should have.

"Hey, I didn't ask you to come back!" she exclaimed. Quinn's face fell. She tried to backpedal. "Quinn, I didn't mean..." He started to walk out. "Don't leave! We can still work this out."

Quinn paused. "You're right. But we obviously can't be around each other right now. I'll give you a call later." It was awkward, but it seemed to fit the mood she was in right now

Melissa had gone to her father's house. Her mother had died several years before and he still lived alone, so she often went to visit him. Well, not as often as she should. Still, he was often her confidant.

"I don't know what to do," she admitted. "It's like the only thing between us is this sense of obligation. Is that healthy?"

"I'd say not," Isaac Tennyson remarked rather snidely. "I never knew what you saw in Ken, and now that he's been gone three years, why not just end it?"

"It's complicated, Dad," she went on. "We're married and... he's been through a lot..."

"Did he tell you he'd been through a lot?" Isaac asked, sounding less and less helpful all the time.

"No," Melissa answered, "but he hasn't said much since he got back. But you can just see it in his eyes."

What came next was difficult for her father to ask, but it had to be said. "Is there somebody else?"

Melissa nodded. "I guess I just didn't want to admit to myself that I had moved on. I still kept the name and the ring...but I wasn't Mrs. Quinn Mallory anymore."

Isaac gave her a moment and then put his hand on her shoulder. "You should tell him that."

"I guess I'll have to," she said solemnly.

"If you don't mind me asking," Isaac started, although it was a little late now, "who is your new beau?"

Melissa looked at her father a little strangely. He was probably the last person on Earth who used the word beau. "You wouldn't know him, but he works at a government lab, just like Quinn used to. His name's Steve Jensen."

"Steven Jensen?!" Quinn exclaimed, practically livid. "The wheelchair guy? You're leaving me for him?"

"Wheelchair guy?" Melissa questioned, not really sure what Quinn meant. "Steve's not in a wheelchair."

"What is this, Missy?" Quinn asked her earnestly. "What's really going on?"

"Don't call me that," she said, rather insistent. "You know I hate it."

"What, 'Missy'?" Quinn replied quizzically. "I've always called you...Oh. I guess not here, huh?"

Now Melissa was really confused. "You're weird. You've been weird ever since you got back. Is there something wrong? Did they do something to you?"

"No, why..." he stopped himself. "Hey, quit trying to change the subject! You're the one who wants to divorce me and you say I'm acting strangely?"

"You've been out of my life for so long, Quinn," she tried to explain.

"Five..." he started and again had to stop. "Three years. That's not that long. Yeah, for me, maybe, being alone and stranded, but you, you had..."

"Nothing!" Melissa interrupted forcefully. "Nothing and nobody. I was alone, Quinn. Even though I was surrounded with family and friends, I was still alone. And you have no idea what that's like."

"Yeah, maybe I do," Quinn came back. "Maybe I know exactly what you're feeling. Would you even care? Would that even matter to you? Or is this just all about your pain?"

"I know what this must seem like," Melissa spoke as earnestly as she could.

"Yeah, right," Quinn replied sarcastically. "I guess we weren't meant to be."

"I guess not," Melissa continued meekly. "Look, maybe there's something we could work out, I don't know how this thing with Steve's going to go..."

Quinn froze. "What are you talking about?"

"I don't know," Melissa said confusedly. "I don't want to be married to you anymore, because I don't think we're the same people we were. But that doesn't mean I want you out of my life completely."

"What...you're saying you want to date?" Quinn asked. When Melissa nodded, Qunn broke out laughing.

"Why are you laughing?" Melissa asked. When he didn't stop, she got more than a little angry. "It's not funny."

At that oh-so-familiar look, Quinn did stop laughing. "Sorry," Quinn told her. "But it is funny."

"What's funny?" Melissa asked with a frown.

"Life," he told her in all seriousness. "And second chances. Goodbye, Miss... Melissa."

"Goodbye?" she asked, incredulous.

Quinn looked her in the eye. "They're giving me a chance to get back on the project. I'm going to take it."

"Oh," Melissa said a little numbly. "Then I guess it is goodbye."

"Have a good life," Quinn told her sadly.

"You too," she answered. Upon reflection, it was the lamest thing she could have said, the type of thing you said to some stranger on the street. But it was all that came to mind.

Chapter Seven

"I must say," Arturo stated between drinks at the Lamplighter, "I have a newfound respect for you, Mr. Brown."

"Thanks, Professor," Rembrandt answered. He then paused for a moment. "Why?"

Arturo put down his now empty glass. "Having seen how celebrities are treated firsthand, I must say I hope to never be one again. Putting up with it every day must require the fortitude of Wellington, the patience of Job and the ego of Narcissus. Barkeep, another round please."

"You're all heart, Professor," Remmy grumbled. After he got more beer in his glass, he went on. "I sure didn't come close to fame on this world," he chuckled. "I mean singin' the anthem's one thing, but a bar mitzvah? Really not my gig, you know?"

"Indeed," Arturo agreed. "I have no idea what my rapscallion double was trying to accomplish with this moon scheme, but he certainly made a name for himself. I cannot imagine myself doing the same, even given the different circumstances."

Rembrandt shook his head. "You just never know, though, do you? I mean, our doubles are capable of doing or being anything. I still can't believe that Frankenstein thing was me."

"It's amazing how much circumstance shapes who we are," the Professor said glumly. He then turned to Rembrandt. "This conversation's gotten downright depressing, hasn't it?"

"Hey, bartender," Rembrandt called out. "See if there's a 49ers game on, huh?"

"49ers?" he questioned. "You mean the 47ers?"

"Yeah," said Remmy. "Whatever. Just turn the game on." The man complied and the two of them sat and watched the game.

"I've always enjoyed American football," Arturo told Rembrandt. "Of course Rugby's superior, but..." And before that argument could start, Wade entered from the other room.

"Any luck?" the Professor asked.

"Don't know," Wade answered. "It's weird talking to yourself. I'm not sure I got through to her."

"I'm sure you did all you could," Rembrandt told her.

"Hear, hear. You went above and beyond the call of duty." The Professor held his glass up in a toast.

"I guess," Wade said half-heartedly. "It's just.. Kelly and I have always been so close. It's weird having a world where I...where she...where we don't have that relationship."

"Oh no," Professor Arturo cut in. "You're not taking us down that road again. Just sit back, have a drink and enjoy the game."

Wade did so. She didn't particularly enjoy football. She didn't believe Rembrandt did either. With the way he was engrossed in it, she thought she could be wrong. The subject of sports being on her mind made her think of something else that had been making her wonder. "So...how'd you know about that Roger Maris asterisk thing anyway?" she asked the Professor.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Welles," the Professor responded.

"Back on that world where we thought we were home, you said something about there being an asterisk next to Roger Maris' home run record," Wade pointed out. "Quinn told me about it later, but considering," she dropped her voice to a whisper, "that Quinn didn't get a chance to tell you anything later, what with you stranded there for years..."

"Oh, that," Arturo half-chuckled. "My double had no idea what 'a Roger Maris' was. He demanded I tell him, but as usual I told him to go..."

"I get the idea," Wade interrupted.

"The man was utterly clueless about sports. How you could have ever confused the two of us for any considerable period of time is beyond me." The Professor downed the rest of his beer and asked for another one.

"What was that, Professor?" Rembrandt asked.

"Nothing of importance, Mr. Brown," the Professor stated somewhat bombastically. "Just swapping memories. The best thing to do over a drink, wouldn't you say?" At that, the two of them toasted.

The night wore on, as they tend to do. The game was over and the 11 o'clock news was on. "Hey, look," Rembrandt stated. "Isn't that your buddies from the other day?"

Arturo gestured for the bartender to turn up the volume on the television. "...deciding not to hold the local Moonatics who briefly kidnapped famed scientist Maximilian Arturo. Arturo himself would not press charges, but the authorities held them anyway, as they believed they constituted a danger to Arturo's person. Nearly reaching their limit under the Hearst Law and having throroughly questioned the young men, they have concluded they are no danger to society."

"We're here with Moonatic Morris Pauling. Now Morris, what exactly did you hope to accomplish by kidnapping Mr. Arturo?"

"We just wanted the truth. We thought he owed us that much. Of course, now we realize we were wrong and we never would have done it if we thought we were going to get cau-"

Arturo now had control of the remote and changed the channel. He was silent for a moment and then noted, "It's a good thing we slide in the morning."

"Are we really going to do it?" Rembrandt asked seriously. "Slide without Quinn?"

Wade answered him. "It looks like that's what he wants."

"I just don't get it," Remmy went on. "Quinn wanted to get home as badly as any of us just a handful of worlds ago. Now he wants to throw it all away for a double of a girl he once dated? That's not like him."

Arturo sighed. "Perhaps none of us know him as well as we think." He took a drink out of his mug. "When one's reality is altered from day to day, trust is perhaps the most valuable thing there is. We have to trust each other, no matter what. If Quinn thinks that staying behind is what's best for him, then we have to respect that."

"I'm surprised, Professor," Wade remarked. "Quinn's like a son to you. You're just going to let him go?"

He paused only a moment. "As you said, it's what he wants."

"Not any more it's not," came a voice from the door. Quinn entered the bar, his stuff in tow. He did not look especially happy.

Wade surprised herself by hugging him. "What changed your mind?"

"It got changed for me," Quinn groused.

"Always happy to be your second choice, Mr. Mallory," a now very drunk Professor Arturo retorted. "Your fall back whenever you find you're not happy with whatever you abandoned us for."

"Look, I know that I've been ready to abandon you guys before," Quinn started apologetically.

"More than ready," Arturo snorted.

"But that's all over now," Quinn continued unabashedly. "I know where I belong and it's here. My home world or bust! No more settling for substitutions."

"Look, QBall," Rembrandt threw in. "I don't pretend to understand what your problem is, but it's going to take a lot of time for us to be able to trust you again. You can't just run off and leave us whenever you want. We've got to stick together."

"I get that now," Quinn said somewhat unconvincingly. "Really."

Rembrandt and Wade said nothing. Arturo turned to them. "I'd like a moment alone with Mr. Mallory. I'll take care of the tab, you two just go ahead and head back to the room."

Rembrandt began to head out, although reluctantly. Wade hung back a moment. "Are you sure this is wise, Professor?" she asked.

"I'm sure," he answered simply. With that, she and Remmy left the bar.

"I don't want to hear it," Quinn declared. "I know I screwed up, but why do you always have to come down so hard on me? I'm not even..."

"You're an abject moron!!" Arturo proclaimed. "I have not even begun to lecture you on what an imbecile you've been." He paused for a moment, attempting to rein in his anger. "You had three people who care very much about you and you miss no opportunity to throw it all away!"

"Rembrandt doesn't even know who I really am," Quinn told him coldly, "and I don't think you do either. You just can't get it through your head that I'm not your Quinn."

Arturo looked him in the eyes. "No. I know you're not my Quinn. I look at you and sometimes I think I see parts of him, but then you waste no time in proving me wrong. You could never be my Quinn. You're a complete and utter disappointment." Professor Arturo walked out of the bar.

Quinn stood alone. "I know," he said to himself.

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