Chapter 14: Usurper

The entire Westin house was in an uproar once the sun came up. Donna Murphy promised to tell everyone what she did in her absence after a good night’s rest. She was finally able to sleep once Gary and Miles dragged all of his belonging into the living room and carelessly discarding them against the wall. Gary's night on the lumpy couch could only be described as horrifying and painful, a feeling he would just have to get used to.

Chuck was sitting at the kitchen table eating some pancakes he defrosted in the microwave. They were engulfed in a tidal wave of maple syrup. Jamie was sitting across from him. They didn't appear to be enjoying each other's company. Gary was still laying on the couch in an attempt to relax, which clearly was not working. Donna Murphy was the last to wake, and she was the only one who appeared to have actually gained something out of a good night's sleep.

“Doug wants to see you,” Chuck finally spoke up. “I've told him how you're going to straight an narrow. He doesn't believe me, but he wants to see it with his own eyes.”

“His own eyes will have to wait,” Donna insisted. “This is my first attempt in years to do something to prove myself as an adequate mother. If I fail, I don't want Doug—and more importantly Paige—to witness it. They can join in celebration once Andrea Westin is home. On the same notion, am I to assume that you haven't told Doug about my late night meeting with my daughter?”

“He doesn't know,” Chuck assured her.

“Wonderful!” Gary yelled from the couch. “Now she can go home and I can have the room again. Right?”

“No!” Miles yelled back at him. “Donna Murphy stays here until mom returns home. Then, hopefully, she'll move in with Doug Danson.”

“I have to get to work,” Jamie interrupted. She stood up and walked between the group in the living room, and began to ascend the stairs. Chuck soon decided to follow her up. Jamie closed the door to the master bedroom behind her just as Chuck approached it. The door hit him on the forehead and Chuck recoiled a few feet backwards before opening the door.

“What was that about yesterday?” Chuck asked, rubbing his injury.

“What are you talking about?”

“The vote. You voted for Gary to have to room. It’s like you don't even care about what Donna is doing for us.”

“You're talking crazy, Chuck. I appreciate Donna Murphy and everything she's done, both in finding your mother and in the Polar Shift investigation, but that vote had nothing to do with who deserved it more. It was just common sense to give it to the person who was actually here.”

“Does anything you say make any sense to you?”

“I'd ask you the same question, but I doubt you'd understand why I asked it.” With that, Jamie grabbed her purse off the dresser and passed Chuck without giving him a second glance. She hurried down the stairs in hopes of finding solace at the hospital.

Chuck returned downstairs to see Miles grabbing his backpack from the floor and heading towards the door as well. “Allison's waiting for me. I'll have to wait for the full story when I get back from school. Gary, try not to break anything while I'm gone.”

“Wait!” Gary insisted. The young man scurried off the lumpy couch and ran to Miles' side. I haven't been to school in a while. You wouldn't mind if I tagged along? Just to see how the school is doing in my absence?”

“You think too highly of yourself, Miles shot back. “Contrary to what you've been led to believe, you were not the school's pillar of strength keeping it afloat. It's doing just fine without you.” Gary ignored Miles' reasoning and attempted the puppy dog look. Giving Miles the puppy dog look resulted in the opposite effect, causing Miles to want to punch him in the face. The only thing keeping his fist at bay was the fact that Gary was naturally pathetic anyways. “If only to get you to stop doing that. Fine. Get in the car.”

Back at the police station, Steven Alley was enjoying his new found free time alone, but the solitude was beginning to jarring, even for him. The station had a shower for him to use, but Steven wasn’t exactly able to pack a change of clothes, and even he was beginning to notice that his stench was noticeable.

Steven stayed up most of the night in the game room trying to beat all of the PlayStaion games that were in the police station library before he made his decision about whether or not to return home. He did miss his wife—whether or not she missed him is a completely different story—so he was seriously thinking about returning home already. Gary already did give him the okay to go home. Steven called a cab, so he figured he had around an hour since it was coming from Providence.

“One more game,” he told himself. “Soul Calibur. I love this game. I'll play a few fights against the CPU and once I feel I've won enough games, I'll go home.” Steven sat himself on the floor after loading the game into the system. He waited patiently as the system booted up and the game loaded up the main screen. Steven moved the cursor down to play the arcade version, but the cursor suddenly began to move back and pressed multiplayer.

Steven stared at the television dumbfounded. The second player, however fictitious he was, was moving his cursor and selected Xianghua. The selected character was considered a top-tier fighter as she quick, agile, and could strike with her sword and easily dodge the counterattack. Steven retaliated against his invisible opponent and selected Kilik, a Bo staff wielder that allowed him to attack from a distance, but his speed was considerably slower than that of his opponent’s.

The fight began. Kilik launched his attack first with a direct jab at Xianghua's stomach. The strike missed and Xianghua easily regained composure, and moved in for a quick combination of successful quick hits. She concluded her combination, and immediately went to guard against Kilik's multiple jabs. Xianghua took advantage of his momentary pause, and stuck him down heavily. Kilik was knocked to the ground.

Kilik began to spin on his back and swept Xianghua off her feet while simultaneously picking himself back up. Taking his opportunity, Kilik began to jab the motionless girl on the ground until a momentary paused allowed her to get back up and repeated her successive quick hits. Kilik was low on health, but felt his only choice now was to create a combination against her so that Xianghua would not be able to retaliate at all. The first horizontal strike hit, but the next attempt was easily blocked. Kilik knew it was the end for him as Xianghua not only blocked his next attack, but guard broke it. Now, Kilik was off balance and Xianghua took the opportunity to finish him off with a special grab move.

KO. Steven had lost the battle against his invisible opponent, who was celebrating her win in a gleeful tone. She was especially giddy as she stood behind Steven. He turned around and stared irefully at Meredith holding a wireless controller. “I'm sorry,” she said, trying to contain her excitement. “I mean it is a game, you know.”

“What do you want from me?” he asked. “You already berated me for telling them about CATS, You told me not to help them and I haven't. What else could you possibly want from me?”

“Well, in case you haven't heard, CATS is a household name now because one of our own tried to blow the whistle. We need to prove to the world that he's talking nonsense, and I believe your testimony could be greatly appreciated. You'll lie, of course. You'll say that Miles and company kidnapped you in order to tell them about CATS. You told them because you were under duress, but you will swear to the jury that there is no such thing as CATS. Got it?”

“No!” he shot back. “I can't just do that. I'm walking the straight and narrow. I can't help protect you guys. I wouldn't feel right if I helped you.”

“Please? For me?”

“What do you mean 'for you'? What have you ever done for me?”

“I'll show you my ankles.”

“Ankles? That's supposed to be sexy? I'm going home to my wife. I think I can get a little more thank some ankle action from her. Goode-bye Peacock. You and the rest of your merry team of genocidal maniacs can go back to your daily business. Just keep me out of it.”

“Hold on,” she insisted. Meredith's voice was full of desperation as she tried once more to keep Steven Alley in the room. He was already walking out and trying his best to block out her voice. “If you do this for us, I can have all your criminal records expunged, including the one that got you kicked out of high school. How about it?”

Steven stopped walking towards the entrance. He was so close to finally walking away from CATS forever, but Meredith's offer seemed too good to pass up. He had to take the opportunity, even if CATS won the war. “Fine. I'll stay here. More CATS fun.” Steven slinked back into the precinct game room with the despondent look on his face, but Meredith's face was one full of only joy. She patted Steven on the head delightfully before skipping off for the exit.

Miles, Allison, and an overenthusiastic Gary Derceto arrived at Hyde's Park High School a few minutes before the first bell was to ring. The courtyard was full of student, none of which Gary recognize. He clinged onto his two companions and they exited the students parking lot and joined the other students congregating in the courtyard.

“You know,” he began his monologue. Miles faked interest, but Allison's displeasure was evident. Gary ignored it. “It feels so good to be back here. This is where I belong. I don't know if I can, but can I drop back in? I need to talk with Ling. She still is the principal, right?” Miles nodded slowly, uncaringly. “I'm going to talk to her.”

Gary was suddenly back to his confidant persona. Leaving his friends behind, Gary began his overzealous march toward Mary Ling's office. Miles shot Allison a look as if it was her responsibility to watch him and make sure he didn't fall into a hole or anything like that. Allison shrugged and begrudgingly accepted her duty.

Miles was alone, but his solitude wouldn't last for long. Just as he sat down, he could see Ashley Brock coming through the crowd of students. The Devil (Ross, not the real one) was right behind her. Miles groaned and pretended that he hadn't seen them. Maybe if he remained perfectly still, he'd be invisible to them. Unfortunately, her eyes didn't work like the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. “I've been trying to call you,” she told him. Her arms were crossed in front of her in disappointment.

“I know,” Miles replied, “but if I see that you've called, I'd rather hear what you have to say, not hear what Ross has to say with your voice. Granted, I have to give my props to Ross. His voice isn't as beautiful as yours, Ashley. That's a fact, not a compliment Ashley. He's smart enough to know that to get threw to me, he needs a new voice. However, I'm immune to happy voices. Nice try, though.”

Ross stepped forward and stood tall between Ashley and Miles. Now Miles was just tired of seeing them together. “I'm not trying to be your enemy. You don't have to tell me anything. I just don't want you to think I'm trying to ruin it anymore. I admire that you're trying to save the world. I don't want to be known as the guy who trying to stop that or worse, succeeded. I'm not going to mess with you anymore. Truce.”

Miles looked over at Ashley. “Do you actually believe that?”

“He seems honest. He has no reason not to be.”

“Ross can take his apologies to someone who's actually dumb enough to believe them. Like you, Ashley.”

“Come on, Michael,” Ashley said as she pulled on his shirtsleeve. “If he doesn't want to listen, we won't make him. Larry Burke's trial is in a few days. We'll let him wallow in self-pity until then.” Ashley and Michael turned back around and walked away. Miles felt uncomfortable, but he wasn't sure if it was because Ashley was mad at him, or because she was walking away with another guy. Possibly both.

“You really do seem different,” Chuck told Donna as she ate her lunch with a smile on her face. “Why are you suddenly so happy? You don't seem different in any other way. You haven't found my mother. You're still at odds with Doug Danson. You still can't see your own daughter. What the Hell is up with you? Is that really you? Are you Miss Scarlet?”

“You don't pay attention,” she replied. “Miss Scarlet can not imitate another person's image. She can only disguise her own. Try to listen to your brother for once. Anyways, after you and I spoke, I went to Vienna to retrieve your mother. Of course, I learned from the train station that I was a day late and a dollar short. Literally, I had to ask someone for a dollar so I could get the information about her heading to Egypt. Anyways, before I left, I was sitting in the airport watching the news. Of course, it was in German, so I got someone to translate it for me. What do I see other than Doug Danson himself parading in front of the camera? Your brother's investigation is world news. If you're lucky, your mother will see the newscast and come home.”

“I don't think you've ever cared that much about my mother,” Chuck pointed out. “I believe that you went to Vienna, but I don't believe that's why you're so happy. Something else happened to you over there. Is it something I should be worried about?”

“Of course not.”

“Is it something Doug should be worried about?”

“Do not delve into my personal life, Mr. Westin. That is what caused our first fall-out, remember?” Chuck didn't respond. Donna stood up and returned to her room.

Back in Providence, Joe Harrington was getting a lot of media attention for being the judge in the case against Larry Burke. Every minute at work was filled with constant attacks from the media wanting to know more about Larry Burke and his connection to CATS. More importantly, they wanted to know what CATS was and why they were trying to destroy the world.

Joe Harrington didn't know, so his only solace from the mob of reporters was that gag order that Coretta Smith has suggested. The need for it resonated more and more as the days rolled on. Now, Joe was sitting with his wife at the kitchen table, trying to enjoy a comfortable meal at home. Harrington didn't own a pet, but he kept a stern warning about the ferociousness of his dog on his front lawn to deter any prospective visitors.

The gag order was still running fresh in his head and he was beginning to feel the only way to clear his head was to issue it and get it over with. Harrington stood up from the table and approached the phone on the counter. Just as he was about to pick it up, it began to ring. He answered it. “Hello?”

“This is Judge Joseph Harrington, correct?” His voice contained a commanding aura wrapped in it.

“Yes. With whom am I speaking with?”

“I'll introduce myself when you get down here. I need you to come down to the Hyde's Park General Hospital as soon as you possibly can. When will you be able to get away?”

“I should be able to get away around four in the afternoon tomorrow. What is this about, sir?”

“I will explain when we meet tomorrow. Until then, I bid you good day.” The man hung up the phone. Harrington had forgotten about the gag order and simply returned to his dinner.

Saturday came and was it just another boring day in Hyde's Park. Everyone in the Westin house took their time getting out of their comfortable beds. Gary Derceto was the only exception. Miles came down at around ten to see that Gary was nowhere to be found. His car was absent from the driveway as well. No one thought much about it. A little separation from Gary was a welcome change.

Breakfast was eaten in moderate peace. Chuck was ignoring Jamie. Everyone at the table could see that their relationship wasn't flying so smoothly. On the other hand, Donna was being even more secretive than usual. Any questions pertaining to her resent trip to Vienna was met with silence or a quick change of subject. Miles was silent as usual.

Gary's morning was a slightly more occupied than the rest of the Westin house residents. While they were having their uncomfortable breakfast, Gary arrived at a white house in a nice suburban neighborhood. He slid out of the car and rang the doorbell. His grin was present as Mary Ling opened the door.

“I thought I made myself perfectly clear yesterday. Once a student drops out of school, they cannot legally return. They are still eligible for a GED or even a high school diploma, but you cannot attend Hyde's Park High School. Okay? And I thought I told you to stop bothering me at home. This is my alone time.”

“Please? The Polar Shift made me drop out. Now that we're fixing it, we can pretend this never happened.”

“Everytime I try to pretend that it never happened, someone pops in and reminds me that Hyde's Park is the hotbed for Polar Shift activity. I can’t hide from it, and you should stop hiding from the truth as well. You are not returning to Hyde's Park High School. Ever.”

Nothing else happened until 4:00 rolled around. Right on time, Joe Harrington arrived at the hospital in Hyde's Park. For legal reasons, he had been to the hospital in Providence numerous times, so Harrington was pleasantly surprised to see that the hospital in Hyde's Park was not sub par in comparison to that one.

Jamie was at the front desk and greeted him with open arms. Harrington introduced himself as soon as he realized that Jamie Reese did not recognize him. Jamie paged for Drake to come and join the conversation. “Harrington,” Drake said as he shook his hand. “I remember you from Providence. I didn't get a chance to talk to you then. What brings you to Hyde's Park? If it's about Larry Burke, Miles isn't here, but I'll be sure to pass on the message.”

“It's not about Burke. He and Smith are keeping a tight lip on their defense. Actually, I got a call from a man with an imposing voice that told me to come here. He said that I would see something that a man like me would be interested in seeing.”

“And I guarantee you the hour-long drive was worth it,” the imposing voice replied. The group turned to see a man had just entered the room. His mustache was a strong brown, just like his hair, which was neatly combed and parted. He wore a heavy jacket over his clothes, as if he were expecting extremely cold weather.

Only one person recognized the man at the door and that was Drake Sarkassian, who was having trouble believing he was seeing what he was actually seeing. “Talsteed! You're back! Wait. What made you come back?”

“Apparently, the Polar Shift is on it's way to being reverse, so I felt that I should return to my position that was left open in my absence. There isn't a new dean of medicine yet, right intern?” The name “intern” was derogatory to Drake, and he took it hard.

Jamie came to his defense. “Excuse me, but in your almost three month absence, Drake has been running this hospital, and it's running just as smoothly as any other hospital in the country. This hospital is in good hands, and we don't need you to come in and interrupt that.”

“Be that as it may,” Robert continued, “he has no legal right to hold the position as dean of medicine. The law clearly states that one must hold a doctorate degree in order to hold the position of dean of medicine. Now, I admit that in a state of shock and confusion, I handed control of the hospital to intern over there, with my signature on a napkin to prove it. However, that contract was against the law, making it null and void. That being the case, the position of dean of medicine has technically been open since my departure.”

“Get to the point,” Harrington ordered.

“I am here to take back my hospital from usurpers like intern. I run this hospital.”

“You can't do this!” Jamie protested.

“Can't I?” Robert inquired back and he extended his arm toward Harrington in hopes that he would back him up. Harrington stood in silence before sighing. “I will review what the law says on this situation and make my final ruling when I return. Until then, I must follow my interpretation of the law, which puts Robert Talsteed back in power, as if he never left.”

“Fabulous,” Robert thanked Harrington. “Now, first order of business. Intern, you're fired. Secretary, you're fired as well since intern never had the legal right to hire you in the first place. Good-bye. Don't come back.”

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