Theusual disclaimers apply. Not making money from this. Wish I was ... characters do not belong to me!



by Cass


Doctor Mark Sloan was surprised to receive a phone call from Cinammon Carter. He hadn't seen or heard from the female counter-intelligence agent since the day they had tricked Kesslar into admitting his part in trying to kill Dane Travis. Shortly thereafter, Cinammon and Dane had been recalled to active duty. Cinammon had been delighted and had left LA almost immediately. Dane had been more circumspect. He had only just been reunited with the son he had unwillingly but of necessity abandoned when he was just a child. Their reunion had been uneasy at first - not helped by the fact that Jesse had witnessed his father killing the man he had thought was his brother. Dane had then told him the truth. He didn't have a brother. There was no 'second family' and he was no accountant. He was a CIA agent and people were trying to kill him. Now they would be after Jesse too - a fact given proof because the man he had just killed had known just where Jesse had lived. They could use Jesse to get to him, rendering Dane's sacrifice, so many years ago, futile. Jesse had been stunned at the revelation. It was too wild a story to believe, too fanciful to be true. The events which had unfolded thereafter, along with his father's painful confession about his part in the killing of his fellow agent and friend, Greg Kesslar, had made a believer out of him. The deep hurt he had felt at what he saw as his dad's betrayal of his 'first family' had changed to a feeling of admiration during this time. But they were still strangers. Which was what had prompted Dane to turn down his re-activation unless he could stay in LA, near the son he longed to get to know better.
Jesse had been touched and delighted at the sacrifice his father had been willing to make on his behalf and at first their reunion had gone well. Then the young man had noticed the agent's restlessness, his occasional distractedness during conversations, and had reluctantly been forced to admit that, as much as being a doctor was in his blood, so being a counter-intelligence agent was in his dad's. He could no more switch off that part of himself than he could wrench out his own heart and carry on living. Thus Jesse had told his father that he should go and do whatever it was he did and not worry about their relationship. It would be waiting for him whenever he decided to pay a visit or return for good. More to the point, his son would be waiting, happy to see his father whenever he could make it. No pressure.
Dane had been moved by the young man's compassion, although not at all surprised. He and Mark Sloan had had the chance for a long talk during his brief time in LA and he had found out a lot about his only child from the other doctor. He had discovered that Jesse Travis was indeed, compassionate, kind hearted, loving and loyal. He had also discovered more about the young man's mischievous sense of fun, his boundless enthusiasm and his habit of treading where angels feared to go. Mark's description painted a picture of a young man whom Dane had been proud to call his son and if he noted the equal pleasure that Mark had derived from telling him about his colleague and friend, he said nothing.
And now Cinammon Carter was calling, informing Mark that she had something to tell him - and he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was something bad and it was something about Dane.

"Dane is dead."
The bald statement hit Mark like a ton of bricks. He sat on the plush sofa in her hotel suite, staring in open-mouthed shock at the woman who had been Dane's partner and friend for so many years. "How … how did it happen?" he finally asked, when he could recover his voice.
She shook her head. "The details are unimportant," she said, in a clipped tone. Mark could sense the emotion which she was ruthlessly suppressing and simply nodded as she went on, "All I can tell you is that it was fairly quick and it happened in another country."
"I … I'm sorry," he said, somewhat lamely. "You'll miss him."
"Yes, yes I will," she admitted. "But we're not talking about me."
"Jesse." Mark swallowed, hard. His young friend had been through some tough times of late. Kidnapped by Paris Pharmaceuticals, he had been drugged and had teetered on the brink of a complete emotional breakdown; he had also been the object of a murderous stalker and his girlfriend had suddenly ended their relationship and moved away. How many more setbacks was he supposed to contend with before he broke completely?
Cinammon nodded. Her features softened as an image of the young man came into her mind. Stubborn, belligerent and scared as he had been when she had encountered him for the first time on her last visit here, there was also a deep core of strength within him, something which he would need to sustain him during the coming days. That and the help of his friends, whom she knew, from experience, to be people who cared very much about him. "Jesse," she echoed.
"How are you going to tell him?" Mark asked. "I … I'm afraid he's not going to take this very well …"
"I'm not," she said, firmly. "You are."
He stared at her in utter incomprehension. "Me?" he exclaimed. "Why me?"
"Because he knows you. He trusts you. He looks up to you."
"That may well be," Mark spluttered, "But …
"Mark," she said, softly, placing one perfectly manicured hand over his and squeezing, lightly, "Jesse has just lost his father. Who better to tell him than the man he thinks of as a second father?"
Mark blushed. "Cinammon, that's very nice, but …"
"But it's true," she persisted. "He doesn't know me very well," she continued, with a heavy sigh. "He has only met me once. You … you are his friend and he is practically another son to you. Now tell me, who do you think he should hear the news from? A friend - someone who will break it to him gently and be there for him when he grieves - or a stranger? Who would you prefer to tell him?"
When put like that … Mark sighed, heavily and rubbed a hand over eyes gritty with too little sleep. It had been a rough couple of days in the ER. "You're right," he conceded. "Of course, you're right. It's just …"
"This is something you would rather not do," she guessed. "This is something you would rather not tell him. Believe me, Mark, I would rather it not be true. I would rather Dane was alive and well and coming back to see his son. But he is not. And nothing we can say or do will change that."
The heartache which she had been valiantly trying to suppress was only too evident in her voice now and Mark smiled sadly as he took her hand and stroked it gently. "I'm sorry," he said, softly. "I'm sorry you've lost your friend."
She smiled bravely. "I'm sorry, too." Withdrawing her hand gradually from his she stood up. Mark rose with her. "You had better go," she said. "I need some time to … think about things and this is not something I can do with witnesses. Some of us need to grieve alone. Others - others need people around them to help. Go be with your friend, Mark. Tell him … tell him I'm sorry and I wish it could have been different."
He nodded sadly then, with a light squeeze of her arm he left the room.
As the door shut behind him, she sank onto the bed. Unbidden, tears came to her eyes and spilled over. Dane … With a gasp, she hid her face in her hands and sobbed.

As Mark drove to the complex where Jesse lived, he practiced the words in his head. 'Jess, sit down, I have some news for you …' 'Jesse, I'm afraid I have some bad news …' Jesse, son, I have to tell you something …' Nothing sounded right. In truth, nothing would. He had to give his dear friend the worst possible news and he had no idea how to break it to him. The last thing he wanted was to upset his young colleague, yet trying to think of a way to tell Jesse his father was dead without upsetting him was an impossible task. It didn't matter how he broke it. Jesse would be devastated. Oh, he would try to hide it. He would be brave and stoical and he would cover his grief with false bravado, but it would be there, nonetheless, waiting to engulf him. And he would try to bear it alone. Well, that was something which Mark Sloan was not going to allow. After he had given Jesse the news, he was going to insist that the young man come stay with him and Steve at the beach house. Then he was going to tell Steve and Amanda what had happened so that they could be there for their friend during the dark days which lay ahead. Jesse was going to have their support and love whether he wanted it or not.

The complex lay still and silent in the afternoon sun. Most of the occupants were at work in the city. Only one or two were at home during this particular day. One in particular was in bed, sleeping away the exhaustion of two straight days in the ER. The sound of the buzzer was a minor irritant at first, intruding on his dreams without waking him. It gradually became more insistent, eventually rousing him from his slumber and forcing him to move his weary body out of its comfortable nest. Padding to the door, still half-asleep, he peered through the peephole. Mark Sloan stood on his doorstep. His expression was schooled, a fact which puzzled Jesse. Mark was like an open book most of the time. A feeling of foreboding ran through him. What was Mark doing here, anyway? Without further ado, he opened the door, blinking at his friend. "Hey, Mark," he said, stifling a yawn, "What's wrong?"
Mark's expression did not change but there was a look in his clear blue eyes which Jesse didn't like. He didn't like it at all. "Jess," he said, heavily, "may I come in?"
The young man flushed guiltily as he remembered his manners. "Oh .. yeah … course. Sorry." As he closed the door and followed Mark into the main room, Jesse felt a shiver run down his spine. There was definitely something wrong. "Um … d'you want coffee?" he asked, a little flustered. "I haven't made any but I can, if you want some .. d'you want some?"
"Jesse …" The older man's voice sounded subdued as he interrupted Jesse's flow of speech. "Jess, sit down."
"Um …" Running his hand through his hair, Jesse regarded his friend for a moment or two, then, reluctantly, did as he was told, his body tensing as he braced himself for whatever Mark had to tell him. He couldn't even begin to imagine what it could be.
"Is it Steve?" he asked, hesitantly. "Amanda? Mark, please, tell me - I'm going bug-eyed nuts here …"
Mark sighed, heavily and wiped a shaky hand across his eyes. He didn't want to do this. He would have given anything not to be the one to do this. But he had to. Turning, he faced the wide-eyed, scared young man. "Jesse, son, I have some bad news. It's about your father …."

THE END(yes, really! Cruel, aren't I?)


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