"What?" Amanda asked, her innocent blue eyes widening, "What does it mean?"
"Grace Kingsley," Jessi whispered, dumbfounded.
"Who's Grace Kingsley?"
Jessi rolled her eyes, sighing impatiently.
"Cassidy. I've come into the Rack with him before. English accent. He's a member of a secret organization called Latnok."
She held up her hand to display Sarah's ring, "This is their symbol. They've been trying to get Kyle to join them for awhile."
"Okay… that's weird. But what does that have to do with this Grace Kingsley?" Amanda asked, confused.
"Grace Kingsley," Jessie answered an edge in her voice, "Is Cassidy's mother, and a senior member of Latnok. Apparently she's also Kyle's biological mother. That means Cassidy and Kyle are –"
"Brothers," Amanda finished, "But so what does it all mean?"
"It means that the man who killed Sarah and the people responsible for putting Kyle through hell, are Kyle's biological family," Jessi snapped.
"Whoa. What?! What do you mean? Who's Sarah? And what have they done to Kyle?"
"Kyle," Jessi mused, biting her lip and ignoring Amanda's question, "I wonder where he is. He should be done by now."
"Done doing what?"
"I thought you didn't want to know his secrets until he told you himself?" Jessi scorned.
"I –" Amanda bit her lip, obviously torn. "I do want to wait. But I'm kind of freaking out now. I - Theres so much I don't understand."
"Obviously. But I –"
Jessi gasped suddenly, and her hand flew to her head and she grimaced in pain.
"What is it?" Amanda asked, scared, "What's wrong?"
"Kyle!" Jessi breathed.
"What about him?!"
"Something's wrong. He's – I've got to find him."
She stood up quickly and started to grab every file she could find. She returned the computer and typed something on the keyboard incredibly quickly – too fast for the bewildered Amanda to follow.
She tucked the files under her arm, stepped over the unconscious Nate, and headed towards the door.
"I'm coming with you." Amanda said, following Jessi out of the apartment.
"No you're not," she snapped, not slowing down.
"I can help!"
"No, you can't," Jessi retorted impatiently, "You'll just slow me down."
"Do you even know where you're going?"
"I am going to check the Tragers' first. You are going to go home."
"How did you even get here? You don't have a car. I do; I'll drive."
Jessi narrowed her eyes, considering it.
"Yes, you drive. But I'm not coming with you. It's faster to run. But, Amanda –"
"Don't go home."
"But you just said -"
"Yeah. And now I'm telling you not to go home. Just in case Kyle's at the Tragers'."
"Then I will go home; I want to see him. Why do you think you –"
"Listen," Jessi stopped, grabbing Amanda by the shoulders, "Kyle and I are the same. I can take care of myself. Latnok already got you once; they know what you are to Kyle. He'd kill me if I let you near them again."
"What do you mean, 'they already got me once'?" Amanda demanded, freaking out.
"Prom night," Jessi answered promptly, "It may have been your perfect night - but it was probably the worst night of Kyle's life." She turned and continued away from the building. Amanda hurried after her, struggling to keep up with Jessi's brisk pace.
They'd reached the parking lot.
"They are dangerous, Amanda. You have no idea what these people are capable of. They killed my mother. Stay away."
Without another word, she took off, running into the night.
Tears filled Amanda's eyes.
"Keep it together," she scolded herself. It was just all so much to take in, and she had so many unanswered questions. And Kyle. Whoever he was, whatever secrets he had, he clearly loved her, and had always wanted to protect her. Her instincts had told her that, but she hadn't listened. She'd known he'd had secrets, but had always thought he was being paranoid when he insisted on protecting her. Now she knew that his fears were legitimate, and that he was in danger. Serious danger, by people capable of murder, apparently.
She had to help, somehow, even without knowing all the answers, even just knowing that there was a chance she'd be putting herself in danger.
She was certain that Kyle had been watching over her, protecting her, even when she hadn't known. And all she ever did was cut him down and give him a hard time about it.
She got in her car, furiously wiping the tears out of her eyes. Now was not the time for emotional turmoil. Kyle needed her help. She began to drive towards her house.
Kyle's heart pounded faster and faster with shock as the significance of Cassidy's words hit him.
He didn't notice his arm slowly lowering, didn't notice when Cassidy's feet neared the ground.
His brother. How could this man – this murderer, this liar – this monster who had just threatened everyone Kyle loved possibly be his brother?
He thought of Josh, and the special bond shared between them. He'd do anything to keep Josh safe, and Josh wasn't even biologically related to him.
Josh and Lori. How could this man be to him what Josh and Lori were to each other?
His mind reeled with this new information. It was impossible to process.
He didn't notice when Cassidy's feet touched the ground, when the color started to return to his face, or when a satisfied grimace flashed across it.
Cassidy had to be lying. There was no way –
Electricity, flowing through his body. Pain. He felt himself drop to the floor as his muscles spasmed. He could hardly breathe; the pain coursing through his body was excruciating.
The world swam in front of him.
Cassidy had somehow managed to hold on to his shock remote. He'd been unable to push it whilst trying to keep his throat from being crushed, but now that his blood was circulating again, he'd regained the upper hand.
"Kyle," he mocked, "Always the sentimental fool."
He pushed the remote again, and Kyle yelled as a fresh wave of pain ripped through his body.
Cassidy pushed it again, and more pain rippled through him, coursing over the dying tremors created by the last shock.
"How," Kyle whispered after a minute of shallow, gasping breaths. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to talk. Everything hurt. Pain shot through every cell in his body.
A gleam of cruelty flickered in Cassidy's eyes. He was enjoying this. He pushed the button again. And again.
Kyle was hardly aware that his body had begun to twitch uncontrollably, as if he were having another seizure. The pain was so intense. He wanted to just give up, to die, anything to end it all. He didn't care. The pain had overtaken his thoughts. It had taken away his anger. He had no more strength to fight it, or even to think at all.
But then Jessi and Amanda's faces simultaneously popped into his head, followed closely by the rest of the Tragers, and Decklen. If this was what Cassidy was enjoying doing to him, his own brother, what would he do to them in revenge?
It was too much to think about. The mental and emotional pain the thought brought on added to his physical pain was proving too much for him to handle.
He opened his eyes a slit, only to see Cassidy's smirk inches from his own grimace of pain.
Cassidy pushed the button again, and this fresh wave of pain brought sweet nothingness and refreshing darkness along with it.
Jessi leaped onto the porch and yanked open the Tragers' front door. She couldn't hear anything happening inside, except a strange billowing sound. There were no heartbeats to hear.
Her eyes widened as she got to the kitchen, found out the source of the billowing. The patio doors were smashed outwards, as if something huge had been flung through them with an amazing amount of strength. Glass littered the ground everywhere, and pieces of the curtain gently blew with the soft breeze.
"Kyle?" Jessi choked, panic clutching at her chest. Obviously, something monumental had happened here.
And where were the rest of the Tragers?
"Kyle? Nicole?" The panic threatened to overwhelm her. The only people she cared about in the world were gone. She had no idea where they were or where to start looking. And Kyle – her life – was missing. Internally, she could feel that something was terribly wrong, even without the evidence in the kitchen.
But then adrenaline and anger pulsed through her body, replacing the shock and the panic. She would kill them, whoever had done this. If they had hurt Kyle, they would die. And she would take a sick pleasure killing them, she knew.
But for now, she had to find Kyle, had to help him.
"Jessi?" Jessi jumped. Amanda had walked in the open door, and come into the kitchen. She gasped at the sight of the smashed door.
"I told you to stay away!" Jessi yelled angrily.
"I'm not going anywhere!" Amanda yelled back, a tear escaping her eyes.
"You're crying?! You don't even know what's going on!"
"That's why I'm crying! Jessi! I love Kyle; please, tell me what's going on!"
Her jaw clenched. She knew that Amanda was telling the truth; she could see in Amanda's eyes that it wasn't just puppy love or a little crush she had for him. Amanda loved Kyle almost as much as Jessi did herself.
And Kyle loved Amanda.
"If you love him, then you need to stay safe for him." She answered quietly, tensely.
"I won't. I won't do anything until you tell me everything. Starting with what happened here and where Kyle is."
"I wish I knew the answers to both of those questions. But I'm sure Latnok has him, and I'm sure they've taken him somewhere new, somewhere I wouldn't find them. No doubt they know that I'm alive now, and if they know that, then they know that I will pursue them. That I'm willing to kill all of them, if that's what it takes." Her voice lowered, a shadow spread itself over her face.
Her eyes met Amanda's, and they lost a little of their edge. She straightened up, her voice returning to normal, "So they'll have taken him far away."
The conviction in Jessi's voice when she'd stated that she'd be willing to kill took Amanda by surprise. She realized in that moment that Jessi was dangerous - more so than the jealous girl who'd beaten up Lori and stolen her necklace.
"I still want to know everything," she whispered, fear gripping her heart.
"Hang on. I'm going to try and reach him."
She closed her eyes, focusing on Kyle. She thought of prom night, how'd she'd known something was wrong and how to find Kyle. This was like that. She just needed to focus entirely on entering his head.
She felt as if she was being hurled across time and space; she wasn't sure where she was going or how she was getting there. She'd only gotten into his head once without touching him, that day in Madacorp. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, egging her on.
She passed through a cloud of darkness, and was suddenly in the Tragers' living room. All the Tragers were there, as were Andy, Decklin, Amanda, and herself lounging casually around and clearly enjoying each other's company. It was early afternoon, and the sun cast a merry glow over the group.
Nobody was moving.
"Kyle?" she asked gingerly.
"Jessi?" he looked up from where he'd been sitting, splitting away from the frozen Kyle sitting at the computer desk.
What's wrong, Jessi?" he stood up, his eyebrows contracted with concern. He walked over to her, taking her in his arms in comfort. She loved it when he held her like that.
"What's wrong with me? Where are you?"
His brow furrowed further in confusion.
"I'm not sure." He said looking around, "What happened?"
"You tell me! I just got back to the Tragers and – "
"And what? What's wrong with the Tragers?" he glanced over at the still family. Nicole was smiling lovingly at Stephen, their hands entwined on Stephens lap as they snuggled on the couch. Lori was sitting with Decklin in a similar manner on the other side of the couch, and Josh and Andy were standing, kissing behind the couch. Amanda and the duplicates of Jessi and Kyle were sitting around the computer, laughing.
"I don't know. The kitchen door was smashed, and nobody was there."
"The kitchen…" his brow furrowed again as he pondered this.
"I – I think I had a fight."
"Yeah. With - Cassidy. Yes, I remember now. I got back and Cassidy was there."
"Then what happened? Kyle?"
"I – he shocked me. That electric thing they used before." His face wrinkled distastefully.
"And then," he continued thoughtfully, "Then he told me that they needed me to help them rebuild what we'd just destroyed. He said he was going to convince Latnok to spare me before, because he thought I'd saved his life – but – " His eyes widened.
"What? Kyle, what is it?"
"Jessi, I – Cassidy told me - he said I was his brother! I was about to kill him, and then -"
"You were about to kill Cassidy? What did he say that -"
"He threatened you. All of you." His tender gaze made another round across the scene.
"He said if I didn't cooperate, he'd keep hurting me, and everyone that ever mattered to me, like he killed Sarah."
"And then you tried to kill him?"
"First I punched him through the kitchen. But then, yes. I don't know what came over me. I -"
"So what happened? Did you kill him?"
"No. He told me he was my brother, and the shock... I let him go. Mostly accidentally, but - Jessi. I almost killed him. I wanted to," his voiced wavered, emotion leaking through it.
"Hey, shh," Jessi comforted him, wrapping her arm tighter around his torso, "It's okay. But what happened next?"
He shocked me again. I don't know how many times, but eventually I lost consciousness. That must be why I'm here." He gestured around him, "I still must be unconscious. You said you got back to the Tragers... I wasn't there?"
"No, you weren't, nobody was there. I don't know where the Tragers are either…"
"I think they're fine. I think they're at the Rack. Cassidy cloned my phone and told them to meet me there."
"Do you have any idea where they'd take you? Where you are now?"
"No. They must have used a sedative of some kind. Hopefully it's not the neural block they used on Amanda. But my unconscious state is probably why we were able to connect so easily. I have no idea where they'd take me, but I bet I'm not in Seattle anymore."
"Don't worry; I'll find you. I'll make them pay." Her voice and face hardened again with conviction.
"No," he said, concern flashing across his face.
"No, Jessi. I don't want you to find me. If they've got me, they can get you. And I don't think they'd be interested in sparing you; I think they'd kill you right away, like they did Sarah."
"They wouldn't be able to kill me; they're all ordinary."
"Yes, but they know what you're capable of. They have weapons to use accordingly - like guns. They'd kill you, Jessi. I want you to stay safe, I need you to keep the Tragers and Amanda and Decklin safe. Please."
"But I don't know what they'll do to you. I can't just –"
"Jessi, wherever they have me, I'm sure they'll do a better job keeping me contained than they did on prom night; they saw how I escaped. And that was a test; they were planning on my escape that time. And they'll be able to use you and the Tragers to get me to do what they want." He sighed, a deep sadness filling his eyes, "And I'll have to cooperate. I have to protect you all. Jessi, please - for me - stay. Keep them all – and yourself – safe. Don't worry about me. If there's any way for me to escape and still keep you all safe, I'll do it, and I'll be back. I'm sure they won't kill me. They need me too much. Besides, I'll be doing what I love to do – helping people. That can't be so bad. Maybe they'll just keep me in a lab and make me solve problems and fix things. That wouldn't be so bad."
"Except that they're making clones of you; what would they need you for then?"
"Jessi, please. Do this for me. Stay. Be safe."
"Kyle! No!" She yelled, panic and other unwanted emotions exploding out of her. She angrily smacked away the tears that had begun to fall from her eyes.
"Please, Jessi," he said softly, his sad, dejected look not leaving his face.
"Please, promise. You'll be no good to anyone if you're dead. They've got me for now, but I'll be back. Maybe in a week, maybe in a couple years. I'll be back though, I promise. For now, I need you to stay strong for the Tragers. Don't tell them what happened to me. Tell them I left for a while. To – to find Foss. Tell them I love them and that they were the best family anyone could wish for. And tell Amanda the truth about me. She deserves to know, so that she won't have to wonder her whole life, so that she can move on. And Jessi –"
"What?" she asked hoarsely, avoiding his eyes.
He touched her chin, gently nudging it upward so that she had to look into his own sad stare. He cleared his throat, holding back tears of his own.
"I – I'll miss you," he choked, and pulled her into hug, squeezing her tight against his body.
"Kyle, this can't be goodbye."
"It won't be. Just 'see you later'."
He pulled away and met her tear-filled gaze.
Suddenly - almost unbidden - his head moved forward, and his lips met Jessi's. They kissed passionately for a minute, until he pulled away again.
"Take care of yourself," he whispered, "And everyone else. I think you should go now. I'm waking up."
"Kyle," she sobbed.
"See you later, Jessi."
She felt herself being sucked backwards down the long tunnel, back to her own mind.
"NO!" she screamed. She couldn't leave Kyle; couldn't just give up, and let him surrender to Latnok, and to whatever sick plans they had for him. Her instincts screamed at her to fight back.
But Kyle had asked her not to, had told her to stay put and protect those he cared about.
"Sometimes, when you love someone, you have to put their needs before your own."
Her love for him meant that she'd have to honor his request. She'd stay.
She opened her eyes. She was back in the Tragers' living room, dejectedly looking up at Amanda's anxious face.
"What happened? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. Kyle's not." She shivered.
"What? How do you know?"
"I just talked to him." She cleared her throat, not wanting to cry in front of Amanda.
She sighed, cold defeat spreading throughout her body.
"We're sort of like wireless computers. We can get into each other's heads. It's easy when we're touching. But since he was unconscious, it was easier to reach him, even though he's probably far away."
Amanda couldn't believe how easily she accepted the absurdities Jessi was proposing. Still, in spite of everything, she believed that Jessi was somehow telling the truth.
"Yes, Latnok has him."
Her heartbeat quickened again.
"Calm down; it sounds like your heart is going to beat through your chest."
"Your heart. It's racing a little too much. Calm down."
"My heart? How can you - " But she accepted it, and moved on, "How can you be so calm?! You claim you love Kyle, but you just said that he –"
"You think I'm calm?" Jessi asked slowly, her eyes glinting ominously, her voice taking on a dangerous edge, "Then you're stupider than I thought. I have more practice dealing with crises. And don't you ever question the way I feel about Kyle."
She glared at Amanda in silence for a minute.
"Kyle told me to tell you the truth about him, so that you can 'move on'."
"Like hell he did! You're just saying that because you -"
"No!" Jessi snapped her voice hardening again, "I'm not just saying that. He did, because he doesn't know how long it will be until he can come back. He might -" she paused, and cleared her throat. She definitely was not going to cry in front of Amanda. "He might never be back. And he wants you to be happy, and know the truth so that you could move on without him."
"Never be back?" she whispered, her eyes filling with tears.
"I don't know. Now shut up and listen."
"Well, I'm just worried about him. I mean, he was planning on destroying something that is obviously super important to Latnok, and then he sends us this urgent message, but never shows," Lori stated, chewing her lip.
"Well, it's Kyle," Josh answered, "I'm sure that wherever he is, he's fine and he has his reasons for not showing."
"It just really worries me that he wouldn't even text us," Nicole mused, "Maybe we should go back."
"Nicole, they're closed. We have to get back home," Stephen said, "I'm worried too, but he's probably at home already."
They drove in silence for a while.
"Is that Amanda's car on the road?" Josh asked, nodding towards the car parked on the curb in front of the Trager house.
"Yeah – why wouldn't she park in her driveway?" Lori asked, frowning.
Nicole bit her lip and exchanged a worried look with Stephen.
"It's probably nothing," she said.
They stopped the car, and hurried into the house. The front door was already open.
"Wait," Stephen said, "I don't know why the door is open. It's probably nothing, but I'm going to go in first, to check it out."
"Stephen, be careful."
He stepped through the door cautiously, wishing he had a weapon. Something was off here.
"Kyle?" he called.
He jumped. Jessi had silently appeared.
"Jessi, you scared me. Where were you? We got a text from Kyle to meet him at the Rack but he never showed – did you go somewhere with him? Is he here?"
"He's not here," Jessi answered stiffly.
"Nicole, it's alright," he called through the door. The rest of the Tragers filed in.
"Jessi, what happened?" Nicole asked, "Is Kyle here?"
"Where is he? Do you know?"
She glanced between all the Tragers, not quite meeting anyone's concerned gaze.
"Jessi. What's going on?" Stephen demanded.
She motioned for them to follow her, and walked into the kitchen.
"Whoa!" Josh exclaimed, taking in the damage. Lori and Stephen simultaneously gasped, and Nicole covered her mouth in surprise.
"What's going on? Amanda? What are you doing here?" Josh asked, noticing her sitting at a chair at the table.
"I just told her everything about Kyle and me. I think she's in shock," Jessi answered calmly.
"You what?" Nicole asked.
"She followed me here. Insisted on coming. I knew there was something wrong with Kyle…"
"What's wrong with Kyle? Where is he? What happened here?"
"I don't know where he is."
"What do you mean? What happened?"
"Cassidy cloned Kyle's cell phone and sent you that text. He was waiting for him when he came home. Apparently this mess happened when Kyle punched Cassidy, after Cassidy threatened to hurt you all. Then Cassidy shocked him with this electrocution thing, and kept electrocuting him until he eventually lost consciousness."
Nicole's hand was back over her mouth.
"How do you know all this? Where is he now?" Stephen demanded.
''I don't know where he is. But since he was unconscious, I could get into his head, wherever he is. He told me what happened. Latnok has him now, somewhere."
"Oh my God. We've got to help him."
"I'm calling the police," Stephan said, beginning to leave.
"And tell them what? That your adopted son is a science experiment and he's now been kidnapped by scientists that took him God-knows where so that they can clone him?" Jessi scorned, "Please. You know they wouldn't be any help, even if they did believe you. Which would be highly unlikely. Even if you just told them that your son was kidnapped – they'd still never be able to find him. I don't know if I'd be able to find him."
"Clone him?" Amanda asked from the chair, exhibiting the first signs of life since the Tragers had come in, "You never said anything about cloning him!"
"Well, that's their plan," Jessi said dismissively.
"Amanda, are you okay?" Nicole asked concernedly. She didn't answer.
"Jessi, why did you tell Amanda about Kyle?"
"Kyle asked me to."
"Well, I can't just sit around here and do nothing, while these people are doing God-knows-what to Kyle. Jessi, what's your plan? I'm going to help," Stephen announced.
"No. I don't have a plan. Kyle made me promise not to try and find him. I promised to keep you all safe."
"Well, we aren't just going to leave him!" Stephen exclaimed.
"I can't believe you'd give up so easily," Lori said condescendingly to Jessi.
"Look," Jessi answered, her tone clipped, "I wanted to go after Kyle. I was planning on it. I don't care if I died trying. It would have been worth it. But he made me promise to stay here and look after you. His reasoning makes sense, and if I was in his place, I'd want the same. I respect him enough to respect his wishes, and I think you should too. He said he won't be gone forever, but – well, he doesn't think he'll be back very soon."
"Jessi. What else aren't you telling us?"
She sighed. "I don't know. I just got the sense that there was something Kyle was keeping from me, maybe because he didn't want me to worry. It was probably my imagination; you shouldn't worry either."
"How can we not worry while these maniacs have our son?" Stephen asked angrily.
"You guys mean everything to Kyle," Jessi answered, "Everything. If something happened any you, he'd never forgive himself, or me either. Cassidy killed my mother; think about what he's willing to do to get what he wants. Kyle knows that. He's going to cooperate, to keep you all safe. He knows that if he doesn't, they'll hurt you. I know Kyle, and I know he will do anything to keep you safe. Anything." She met Amanda's gaze for a moment, "As would I. Because anything he loves that much, I do too. So I will keep you safe, and I will not jeopardize your safety. Kyle can take care of himself."
"Why are you crying?" Josh asked Lori, appalled. He was holding back tears himself.
"Why do you think, bonehead? Kyle is being held against his will by murderers, and he isn't even going to try and escape – for our sake. And there's nothing we can do. It's just –"
"Jessi's right," Josh answered, clearing his throat, "Kyle can take care of himself. I don't like it either, but if I was in his shoes, I'd want my wishes respected."
"This is so wrong," Stephen attested, "Have these people no ethics at all?"
"To them, Kyle and I aren't people; we're science experiments. Science experiments that they've lost control of."
"If that's true then what makes him so sure they'll let him go if he cooperates?" Nicole demanded.
"I don't know," Jessi answered quietly.
Stephen noticed the tears running down Nicole's face, and put his arms around her.
She pushed him away, "I just – I'm just going to bed." She rushed out of the room. Stephen looked at the room full of kids.
"Lori, you're in charge. Get everyone to bed soon. Lock your room doors tonight, guys." He gestured towards the mess that was the kitchen, "We'll deal with this is the morning."
He followed Nicole.
"Amanda, are you alright?" Lori asked gingerly.
"It's just – so much to take in," she whispered.
"Yeah, it's a lot. First day I knew everything, I had a hell of a time not blabbing to the world," Josh answered.
"Yeah, it's a lot. But Kyle loves you. You know that. And he's still Kyle," Lori consoled Amanda."
"But what if he never comes back? And I never get the opportunity to talk to him about it? I -"
"Whoa, Kyle's coming back," Josh answered, "Knowing him, he'll break out of there, and be back in a few days. I give him three."
Amanda and Jessi exchanged meaningful looks.
"What?" Lori asked.
"Nothing. But it'll be longer than three days, "Jessi said, and left the room.
"Never thought I'd be asking this," Josh said slowly, "But Amanda, what do you know about Kyle?"