Cindy makes a decision.


The swimming events were taking place in downtown Astoria, where an immense natatorium had been built to showcase the racing, diving and synchronized swimming competitions. The small city was overjoyed, and a bit overwhelmed, its citizens and businesses scrambling madly to accommodate the sudden windfall of free-spending tourists.

Scott and Cindy reached the Olympic natatorium just thirty minutes prior to the start of Gordon's race- the 400 meter individual medley. The stands were packed, but they found their seats in relatively short order, stopping just long enough to buy a snack (popcorn) and some souvenir programs (over-priced). They took their seats just as the swimmers came out onto the pool deck. Scott pointed out his brother, who seemed nothing like the scrappy, hyperactive powerhouse he'd described. Just exhausted and depressed, which was senseless, considering he'd made it all the way to the Olympic games, and a medal ceremony. Oddly enough, though, there was something familiar about him.

Wishing she could get a closer look, Cindy glanced over at the stadium's vast electronic scoreboard. It flashed frenetically from swimmer to swimmer, somehow never quite focusing in on Gordon. Interesting. Well, there was always the program.

It was while she was scanning the team rosters that Cindy noticed something strange.

"Hey, Scott?" she asked curiously, "Why isn't your brother listed with the US swim team? You guys are American, right?"

He leaned over, flipped a few pages further in her program, and pointed to a rather blurry, thumbnail sized photograph.

"Right there," he told her. "European Union. And the short answer is, it keeps him further off the radar. He can't afford to be recognized by anyone we've rescued, and doesn't want to be associated with the corporation. Someone would certainly start hinting that Father's money got him on the team."

Fair enough. Explained the extreme brevity of his program bio, at any rate. Compared with the other athletes, Gordon's personal information was so obscure it might as well have been written in Sanskrit. Still...

"There's more to it than that..," Cindy ventured, carefully studying Scott's face, "...but it's one of those 'before' versus 'after' things, right?"

He nodded.

"One of these days, I'll probably tell you about it, but right now..., right now, someone's waving at us."

"... And one of them's a brother, I think." Cindy cut in, as he pointed to the next seating section. A woman ( blonde, late thirties, chunky jewelry, bright lipstick) had given them a rather hesitant smile and a little wave. Two kids were seated beside her. The boy (whom Cindy had met once, in San Francisco) looked similar enough to be related. The girl was an oriental Audrey Hepburn, elegant, poised and lovely.

Smiling slightly, Scott waved back.

"That's Gennine, my father's former wife. You already know Alan, and beside him is TinTin, a family friend. Well, more of an adopted sister, really. We can go over and say 'hi', after the race, if you like."

More family. Great. Wondering if the entire known universe was related to Scott Tracy, Cindy flashed her brightest, cover-girl smile. Then the buzzer sounded, and there was no more time for elaborate, sign-language 'hellos'. Thank Heaven.

What Cindy knew about Olympic swimming could have been written in three-inch block letters on one side of an index card ('be first', basically), but even she could see that things were not going well. The swimmers changed styles with every other lap, and Scott's brother seemed to lose ground at each turn. Clearly, he was tiring.

Cindy stared at the frothy, churned up pool, then up at Scott, who'd gotten to his feet. The crowd was screaming and clapping, calling encouragement to their favored swimmers in surges timed to match the young men's surfacing. Scott remained quiet, though, watching as Gordon dropped to fourth.

Then, somewhere around the freestyle lap (Australian Crawl, Cindy would have called it), his brother apparently decided not to lose. He literally turned blue doing it, but Gordon somehow heaved himself into high gear and shot past the third place guy. Touching perhaps a tenth of a second faster than his anguished competitor, Gordon smashed headfirst into the wall and sank, apparently unconscious.

"Oh, shit! Gordon!" Now, Scott exploded out of his watchful silence. "Get him out of there! He's drowning!"

Vaulting over about three rows of seats, Scott got to the aisle and raced for the pool deck. Cindy followed, reaching the gate just as Gordon's teammates hauled him out of the water. Alan and TinTin were already with Scott, threatening to tear the gate down if they weren't allowed in. Scott didn't threaten, merely spoke; but whatever he said was so effective, the guards nodded respectfully and opened up at once.

The crowd was making so much noise, Cindy's ears were ringing. It sounded like a concert in there, or street rioting. She spotted Gennine picking a way through the crowd, and paused to let the older woman catch up. They went through the gate together, joining the ring of teammates, officials and family who'd gathered around Gordon.

He was breathing, she noted with relief. Gasping, actually; clutching an oxygen mask to his face with hands that shook. Another swimmer and what looked like a coach were supporting Scott's younger brother, talking to him in low, encouraging tones. Then they helped him to his feet, and the three started walking up and down the deck, Gordon so rubbery-weak and uncoordinated, he looked drunk. She recognized him, then. He'd worn a uniform last time she'd seen him, but it was definitely the same young man who'd fetched her away from the triage tent in Macedonia, red hair and all. 'Small world,' she started to think, then, ' No..., large brood.'

Looking over at the scoreboard, she saw that the little dickens had won a bronze medal, after all. Scott, Alan and TinTin went over to congratulate him. As it was obviously a family moment, Cindy hung back, found herself standing by Gennine. Outside, looking in, wondering whether she really wanted to involve herself with this tangled, haunted family. Then, gazing at Scott, she made up her mind. He was worth it. Come what may, he was the one, and no other.