Chapter warnings: none

Well, that's all for this installment. I'm working on the next one, set in the time gap. Thank you to all my readers, and especially those who dropped a comment. I'm so grateful you followed my babies this far, and I hope to see you guys again when I post the next. :)

"This is a kinder, gentler Cadmus."

It was the sort of lie humans told all the time, that fell from Luthor's mouth a thousand a minute. But, despite himself, Dubbelix wished he could believe it from Jim. Because Jim believed it, and wanted it so terribly it almost seemed he could make it true. Dubbelix knew how stubborn he was.

Dubbelix felt an unfamiliar swell of gladness. Desmond would never mind control Jim for his stubbornness again.

"Then I will, of course, help in any way I can, brother."

After Dr. Spence left, Jim half turned to Dubbelix. "You said 'brother.'" He didn't ask a question, and Dubbelix did not smile.

Jim blinked at him. "You…meant that." A wealth of feeling drifted from him, a tangle of Jake and Roy and warmth at his core. Down there, where no amount of mind control could take it away from him.

Dubbelix debated briefly. He had not considered before speaking, and to explain the truth was no option. Jim was not ready, and Jim should not suffer.

So, he chose the simplest course of action. Dubbelix laid a hand on the table, standing at Jim's side before that long, wide desk that hardly suited Jim at all. "I am here. Together, we will undo the damage Cadmus has done."

Impulsively, Jim leaned his arm against Dubbilex's, so every link between them flared. Dubbelix could feel the confidence and surety and gratitude that rose in Jim's heart. And, in that moment, Dubbelix did not wonder about belief or disbelief, because Jim knew, and that was enough.

Jim smiled. "Well, we better get started then."