All disclaimers in parts one and five. Note: the lyrics of "New York, New York" here are not quoted in full. That's intentional. :)


Murphy's Law
by Amanda Ohlin

Epilogue


Three days later
63rd and Madison
New York City
5:55 a.m.

"Start spreading the news
"You're leaving today
"I want to be a part of it
"New York, New York..."

The fact that Dr. Theodore Morris was breaking into song even before he reached the townhouse was an indication of the irrationally good mood he was in. All things considered, however, he had a right to be cheerful. The fiasco of the past few days could have ended far worse than it had. Even Dr. Ross's demands hadn't been quite as bad as he'd expected.

"I want to wake up
"In that city that doesn't sleep..."

He punched in the code and smiled as the door slid open, continuing to sing as he entered the townhouse.

"And find I'm king of the hill
"Top of the list
"End of the line
"King of the hill..."

Crossing the pool area, he launched into the final verses. Ross's final report to the Pentagon had been generally favorable, and she had skillfully diverted any fallout that could have resulted from Michael's escape - by not mentioning that part. She instead focused on Leflin's sabotage attempts.

"These little-town lows
"They have all melted away
"And I'm gonna make a brand new start of it
"Right there in old New York..."

The downside was that neither Leflin nor Special Agent #2 had been aware of the identity of their "source." But the attempt had failed, and the project was still in good standing. Which was all Morris cared about for the moment.

"You always make it there..." He trotted up the steps to Michael's bedroom. "You make it anywhere..." Opening the door, he entered just as the curtains slid open, spreading his arms wide for the big finale. "Come on, come through... New York, New York!"

He dropped his arms as it became apparent that his audience was conspicuously absent. "Mr. Wiseman?"

"In here, Doc!" someone shouted from behind the closed bathroom door. Morris relaxed, suddenly realizing that the shower was running. The water shut off, and a few minutes later, Michael emerged, dressed and drying his hair with a towel.

Morris smirked. "Have we suddenly become a morning person?"

"Don't bet on it." Michael hung up the towel and snagged a pair of clean socks from the dresser. "Didn't sleep too well, anyway. Figured I'd get some privacy for a change."

"I thought you'd be interested to know that Bernard Leflin Jr. is taking an extended vacation - for health reasons," Morris informed him as Michael sat down on the bed and pulled on the socks. "In his absence, the major stockholders are running things."

"An extended vacation?"

"An enforced vacation. He's lucky."

"What about that lawyer?"

"Not quite so lucky." Morris sighed. "Seems Mr. Bernstadt had been involved with some questionable dealings and had to leave the country. One of his victims, however, may have discovered his whereabouts."

Michael snorted. "That's real convenient."

"If it makes you feel any better, the Espotek lawsuit is still going forward as planned. Your family, naturally, will not be among the plaintiffs, but the numbers are still sizeable enough to have Espotek worried."

Michael tied his shoes and looked up. "So was it just a faulty respirator? Why I'm here instead of--"

"Mr. Wiseman--"

"Doc." Michael stared at him, all traces of his usual levity gone. "I need to know."

Morris sighed. "Had the respirator worked, Mr. Wiseman, you would have had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving." Michael continued to stare at him. "But at best - from what I saw -you would have been a vegetable. The damage to your spinal cord..." He trailed off, unable to continue. He couldn't think of a way to say it.

But Michael got the gist of it. "You're sure."

Slowly, Morris nodded.

Michael was silent, digesting that information, possibly comparing his current state to the possibility that the Doc had just laid before him. After a moment, he sighed and stood up. "All right, General Patton, what's on the list for today?"

"Breakfast and your morning workout," the scientist replied, and Michael sighed. "Cheer up, Mr. Wiseman. I have a surprise for you."

"A surprise." Michael gave him a suspicious look. "As long as it doesn't involve eggs, I'm game."

Morris chuckled and headed off to the kitchen. Yes, things were starting to get back to normal.

*****

New Rochelle, NY
9:45 a.m.

Thank God it was Saturday.

Normally, Heather slept in til noon, so Lisa was surprised to come downstairs to find her daughter sprawled on the couch in front of the television, watching cartoons. Beside her was a box of cereal, which Heather was dipping into like a bag of popcorn in a movie theater. She was still wearing her pajamas, and looked thoroughly satisfied.

Lisa chuckled, and Heather looked up. "Aren't you just the picture of contentment."

"Had nothing better to do." Heather shrugged. "I don't know, I just felt like getting up." She grinned. "It's nice. The peace and quiet. No Uncle Roger."

"Heather..."

"Oh, come on, Mom. Admit it. He was getting to you, too." She sat up. "Besides, it was about time he had it out with Aunt Ruth."

"I just hope that's working out," Lisa sighed absently. "Pick up the mess when you're done, okay?" She pointed to the bits of cereal that Heather had dropped on the carpet.

"There's only a few crumbs," Heather muttered.

"What-ev-er." The doorbell rang, saving Lisa from trying to reason with her teenage daughter. "Pick them up before someone steps on them. I'll get that." She could hear Heather groan as she went into the foyer, drawing her bathrobe closer around her before she opened the front door.

"Aunt Lisa, I will clean for you, I will mow your lawn, I will sleep on the floor, I will pay you rent if you give me asylum!"

Lisa sighed. "Hello, Amanda."

Amanda Bender tried to look as pathetic as possible while clutching two hastily-packed suitcases. "Please. I'm begging you. I can't take the two of them anymore!"

"'Manda?" Seeing just who it was, Heather hurried over. "What are they doing now?"

"The usual. I almost forgot why I decided to study abroad." She looked back at Lisa. "Please?"

Lisa glanced over at Heather, and could see the "please" mirrored in her own daughter's eyes. "Oh, all right. Heather, you want to help her with her bags?"

Heather didn't need to be told twice as she and Amanda hurried up the steps, chattering all the way. "So what'd I miss?" Amanda said.

"Well..." Heather opened her mouth, but paused at the look Lisa was giving her. "Same old, same old."

Amanda snorted. "It's got to be better than my first three hours back in the States." Heather started laughing. "What's so funny?"

"Trust me," Heather told her as they disappeared around the corner. "You'd never believe it."

Closing the front door, Lisa leaned against it with a sigh, smiling. Yes, things were getting back to normal.

*****

63rd and Madison
10:00 a.m.

"This afternoon," Morris said pleasantly, "you'll be starting some defensive training with an old friend of mine. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but fortunately he was understanding enough to shift around his busy schedule."

"You're never gonna let me live this one down, are you?" Michael sighed as he pulled on his jacket.

Special Agent #1 smirked. "No."

"And afterwards, you will spend an hour in counseling," Morris continued. Michael groaned. "Mr. Wiseman, while the events of the past week have proved that you can be trustworthy - when it counts - I am concerned that you are not emotionally adjusting to your second life as well as we had hoped."

"What gave you that idea?" Michael muttered sarcastically. He saw the look on Morris' face and sighed. "Sorry, Doc. Just kind of hoped never to see Dr. Davis again."

"You're not having a session with Davis," another voice replied. The three men turned to see Lydia enter the pool room, crossing briskly to meet them. "I'm taking over that department."

The smirk melted off of Special Agent #1's face. Michael frowned, confused. "What's going on here?"

"Dr. Ross was originally supposed to be a member of my team," Morris explained. "Circumstances thwarted that when we initiated the project." He ignored Lydia's derisive snort. "However, Dr. Ross will be joining us as a consultant - seeing as how her background in neuropsychology and her ability to smooth things over have proved very useful."

Special Agent #1 looked extremely uncomfortable. "Sir, I have to protest. Dr. Ross is completely unorthodox and might jeopardize the security of the project."

"Oh, really?" Lydia raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you feel that way, I'll just march right back to the Pentagon and give General Roskin a new report."

"General Roskin?" the agent asked, surprised.

"Who do you think really sent me down here?" Lydia asked. "Roskin's no fool. She knew something more was going on."

"There's also the matter of Leflin's mysterious source," Morris continued. "Neither Special Agent #2 nor Bernard Leflin knew the identity of the insider who fed them the information in the first place. There is someone in the Pentagon who's actively trying to sabotage this project, and I need someone to play both sides to find out who it is."

Michael looked baffled. "Most of the people who requested that I keep tabs on this project opposed it to begin with," Lydia explained. "It still hasn't occurred to some of those blowhards that I don't share their opinions."

"As much as I would like to continue this conversation indefinitely," Morris said, checking his watch, "we need to get moving. There's an office on the third floor, Dr. Ross. Make yourself comfortable."

With that, he started for the exit. Michael paused for a second, still confused, before shrugging it off and following the scientist out. "Hey, Doc, you think I'm trustworthy enough for a trip to McDonald's?"

The negative response was drowned out by the slamming of the front door.

Special Agent #1 stood there, stunned, trying to absorb this new bit of information. "You're part of his team, now," he echoed, spitting out the word "team" in disgust.

"Seems like it."

"Is this a permanent position?"

Lydia patted him on the shoulder and started towards the office. "Like it or not, Q-Ball, you're stuck with me."

"Don't. Call. Me. That."

*****

Somewhere in the Caribbean

It was almost dawn. The sky in the east was becoming lighter, the darkness of night blending into blue, then gray, then a pale yellow nimbus that precluded the rising sun. Alone on the deck, the little man watched expectantly, as if the sun might not decide to rise if there was no one there to see it. Such wonders deserved an audience.

He took a sip of water, stifling a slight pang of regret. For the second time, all that planning had gone to waste. Almost everything had worked out as he'd anticipated; the super man had taken the bait, brought the money, and he had escaped while his erstwhile partner had it out with the fool. The only flaw was the loss of the money, scattered across the plaster-spattered floor of the office building.

Ah, well. At least he hadn't gotten away completely empty-handed.

Smalls had proved useful. The man's connections had yielded a great deal of hidden assets; despite his conviction, he'd been able to put the money he'd stolen to good use. It wasn't $15 million, true, but Smalls had quite a nest egg. With one of the many aliases the man had, it was no trouble getting out of the country. The United States was not all it was cracked up to be, and he'd spent far too much time there. There was so much more out there than the U.S. had to offer. Although, he had to admit, some of their cruise lines were almost worth the money. Flying was overrated.

He reached into his satchel, pulling out an egg. Studying the pristine, perfect surface, he reviewed his equally perfect plan. What had gone wrong? Well, that was simple: Smalls had been too quick to judge. The man had been bleeding from the mouth, but not the eyes. Of course, he should have noticed that. Had the man, indeed, perished? Had he at least achieved his revenge?

Strangely enough, he found that it didn't quite matter. Perhaps he hadn't come out of it with his vengeance or the money, but he was content. For one thing, his accommodations were far better here than they had been in prison. And he didn't have to share a bunk with Charlie. The super man had played the game with honor, and won fairly. The fault was his for making a mistake.

But he was free. And he had all the time in the world.

Chuckling, the Eggman tossed the egg in the air, catching it again neatly in his palm. He placed it back in his satchel and stood up, shuffling down the deck as the sun finally broke over the horizon, illuminating a brand new day.

*****

The End


Author's Final Notes: Well, this sucker is not the longest fanfic I've ever written; however, "Murphy's Law" has taken a whopping 13 months to finish, which is a record in itself. Part of the problem was Real Life - my senior year of college was absolutely nuts - and the fact that I was working on three fanfics at once.

I know a few people who've e-mailed me wanted more closure. When I started writing this, I originally intended to wrap EVERYTHING up - but as I went along, I realized how implausible it would be. Even if, by some miracle, Lisa found out and was allowed to live, how could she deal with it? How could Michael be reunited with his family without endangering their lives or ruining their lives? The answer: He couldn't. Not in the resolution of this cliffhanger. Not without a major crisis - and an arc that would probably be several episodes - even a whole season - long. The status quo was reinstated, more or less, by the time I got this done, and even that took MONTHS of work.

Do I plan to write a sequel to this? Um... no. Mainly because I want to keep Dr. Lydia Ross from diving deep into Mary Sue territory. The only reason I decided to bite the bullet and write her in was for someone with some common sense to steer things toward a resolution. Ideally, she'd be a recurring character at best, mainly there to trade insults with Special Agent #1 and smooth things over, but I know myself too well. I know I'd probably end up writing her in far too much. If you want to use her for whatever reason, drop me a line.

However, I do have more story ideas in the works, although Real Life and my new job will make it tough to get to. I'm thrilled to have this done, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.