2007-03-23: The Family Secrets



Guest Starring: Dr. Hans Dugenhauser, Laurence Lancaster

Summary: Eric is snuck out of the hospital by the eccentric Lancaster family doctor to avoid press coverage on the miracle cure Dr. Stan Gifford had administered to him in What Are Friends For?. He is brought to his father, who is not happy with him. Eric discovers it's not just his identity that his father is helping to hide from the rest of the world.

Date It Happened: March 23, 2007

The Family Secrets

Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City

Eric is still in the ICU, though something strange is going on within that department. Doctors keep checking on him. Indeed, whispers of his sudden, miraculous recovery can be heard filtering through the halls of that particular floor. Words that a heroic young man had been brought in after rescuing a girl has got some nurses sighing, and orderlies peeking in his room now and then in curiosity. But to the doctors? They were in it for the miracle drug. In fact, while he was down, doctors kept checking on him, poking him, prodding him, wondering just how he recovered so fast. Against all odds, not only did the boy survive - but there wasn't a scratch on him! It was crazy. All his internal damage is gone, and the gunshot wounds didn't even scar. It was a miracle, in an age where people didn't believe in miracles anymore.

Somewhere downstairs, the American Journal of Medicine has gotten whiff of the story.

Whenever Eric wakes up, he would find…. a man. A very familiar man, standing over him and his hands on his body. He's got very white hair, and a mustache, but no beard. He is dressed in an expensive looking black coat, and inside he wore a full suit and a tie. What could be the most distinct bit about him is the monocle. If he wore glasses, he could be a shoo-in for Colonel Sanders.

Oh yes. He would know the man full well. His name is Doctor Hans Dugenhauser, the Lancaster family's brilliant, but eccentric, physician.

Eric Walker shouldn't be awake. He shouldn't even be able to be awake, he shouldn't be able to feel the hands poking and prodding at him. He should still be in intensive care. However…he frowns. He frowns in his sleep, because /someone/ is trying to wake him up. He's having a good dream you see. Something about Elena, and it being alright to kiss her. Her dad said so. He's got a loud voice though, especially when one is trying to sleep. He's got cold hands to…

…wait. Cold hands?!

Eric's eyes fly open and the first thing he sees is a familiar monocled face. "AHHHHHHHH!" Is what he tries to say, but it comes out much less…impressive sounding. "…uuuahhhhhhh…" His eyes fluttering open to stare in some great confusion at the good, and eccentric doctor.

And as he screams, Eric? Gets a fistful of cotton balls shoved in his mouth. Or at least, the doctor tries to. See, the sudden scream causes the doctor to yell out as well, and Dr. Dugenhauser has reached out for the most convenient thing he could to shut him up before the cute nurses on the floor start thinking that he's a visitor molesting a patient. Since the pillows are taken up by Eric, who in his comatose state became some sort of cheap pillow hog, the cotton balls come in, from the dispenser on the table next to him.

That and he was eccentric. He couldn't just use his hand, you see. It would be unsanitary without gloves and god only knows where the boy has been in the past forty-eight hours.

"Velcome back to the world of the living, Eric," Dr. Dugenhauser remarks cheerfully, peering closely at the boy's face through his monocled eye. "I must say, vhen ve heard that you have made a wery remarkable recowery, I vas wery sketpical. But it seems that it is true! Look at yourself. Not a scratch on you. Zis…" He peers at Eric's chart. "Dr. Stan Gifford is a miracle vorker, if vhat he says about this…RGN-400+ is true."

Eric…is silenced. By cotton balls. He chokes and gags, trying to flail and cough to get the things out of his mouth. They taste baaaaaaaaaaaaaad…and give him a very bad case of cotton mouth. He can't really formulate a response right then, as he is a bit distracted by the cotton balls to the face. He don't even know where he is yet, let alone know anything about any Dr. Gifford or his shot. He was just a little bit…um…comatose at the time you know.

Dr. Dugenhauser takes a seat, watching his young patient spit out the cotton balls. He steeples his fingers and hrms quietly, brows knitting as if to formulate a response. Finally, he speaks up with that soft, German-accented voice. "Imagine your father's surprise when he gets a call in his office today to let him know that you are in critical condition. You spent 10 hours in the operating room, Eric. You almost died. He is not wery happy to hear this." Which is an understatement. "He, of course, called your mother. So you can imagine, considering the way your mother is, how she reacted when your father called her. Needless to say, considering your father is in Europe, and your mother is in Aspen, I hawe been given the special task of remowing you from this facility vith all due discretion." He lifts his brows. "There are reporters asking about you downstairs because of your miraculous recowery. I have already talked to Mount Sinai's management. There is no reason to keep you here any longer and if you do not want your true identity to be plastered all ower the society pages in the morning, you vill make haste to get dressed."

Slowly Eric sits up. Better he is, better…and stiff, very stiff. He slowly sits up, glancing down at his chest in some shock. He…shouldn't be able to do that. He shouldn't be able to even get up. Hell, he should be…quite dead in fact. Or at least in a very bad way. He is rather surprised at his ability to talk even. So surprised that he doesn’t respond to the doctor at first. After a moment though he looks up and blinks towards her. "Mom and Dad know?" He says…well…rather surprised for a moment and then he shakes his head. "…of course they know, of course…I…wait what? Move me out of here? Is that…safe?" Then he pauses a moment and winces. "…the society pages already got ahold of all this?"

"Not at first. The emergency contact information in your vallet led the hospital to contact your father's personal assistant in the Lancaster building," Dugenhauser remarks. "And Nora has managed to get in touch vith your father while he is in Prague. He, I believe, has taken the Concorde straight back to New York after hearing the news. As for the society pages, no, it has not reached it yet. Which is why we must hurry." He adjusts his monocle and gives Eric a look. "Before you become the talk of the town. It is starting already, there are reporters downstairs, wondering about the miracle cure that has been said to have been administered to you. It won't be long before it spreads."

"Wonderful…" Eric pauses, rubbing his temples with a heavy hand. He sighs slightly, looking down. "…I…guess we better get going then." He says slowly, not really thinking about anything else, to surprised with his condition to do so. He is so going to get yelled at. Especially by his mother. "…I take it you found a way out without getting the press involved?" He asks tiredly. For all that he's not /dead/ he's still…hurt. In pain, and his head is swimming.

"I am nothing if not wery prepared, Eric," Dr. Dugenhauser says cheerfully. He sets the suitcase he is carrying on the edge of Eric's bed, and pulls out….. a wig. He pulls out a wig, a large pair of fake glasses, and a mustache. He looks at Eric, and GRINS, handing the items to him.

Remember. He came highly recommended. But he is also eccentric. Very eccentric. As a younger boy, he would remember this doctor giving him a jar of German sauerkraut as opposed to a lollipop every time he was done with his physicals. The offered disguise is so…so…Hollywood if he wasn't addled or so totally unamused about everything, this would be even funny. Well, to Dr. Dugenhauser, it probably IS. But that's besides the point. "Quickly now. Ve vill have to go through the ER after all, and that is vhere the wultures are."

With a smile, he walks out of the room, so he can quickly snag a spare wheelchair from the orderly.

Eric stares. I mean he can't really say anything because the doc is gone so quickly. He just…stares. "It's not even a good wig!" Is all he can finally say, staring at the wig and the glasses and then the…mustache. "How am I supposed to put this on?!" He asks of his nightstand. The doctor already has left the building, and he thinks the nightstand might be about the closest equivalent he can find at the moment. He just…stares, and stares, and then. "…god, this better work…" He grumbles as he starts to try to figure out just how it all goes on.

When Dr. Dugenhauser comes back, wheeling in a wheelchair, he pauses as Eric is still fumbling about with the 'disguise' he brought for him. He rolls his eyes from behind his monocle. "Of for god's sake, Eric! Ve do not have a lot of time," he grumbles, walking up to his patient. He stuffs the wig on top of Eric's head. The hair is sticking up in all directions, but he -is- a patient. He doesn't have to look presentable. He slips the eyeglasses right over Eric's nose, and pastes the mustache on the boy's upper lip. He takes a step back, eyes Eric critically, and nods. "Vell. You are no Yosemite Sam, but it vill have to do." And with that, he'll help the boy get on the chair. When he's on the chair, he'll wheel Eric out.

The doctor also manages to snag Eric's bloodied and cut up clothes, along with strips of coat Elena had used to stem his blood loss, which had been packed for him in a plastic bag.

The journey doesn't take long. No one seems to give him another glance as the older man wheels the younger man through the ICU floor, hitting the elevator button to the ER area. The ride is short. And once the double doors open? The ER is pack. There are a few reporters, with nurses yelling at them about how they can't just barge in there and demand to see a patient in ICU. Dr. Dugenhauser pays them no mind, but he does mutter, "I heard the Journal people are here to see your Dr. Gifford," he tells Eric. "According to some of the hospital staff, he vas the one who administered this miracle drug to you."

He continues on through the automated double doors leading to the front parking lot. A few feet away, Eric will see a very familiar looking black Lincoln.

Eric stays silent with his head down as he is wheeled out. Part to keep his face hidden, and part to keep him from laughing hysterically at the whole situation. He pauses though as the doctor wheels them out the double doors and he spies the familiar Lincoln. "…where are you shuffling me off too anyway?" He asks out of some curiosity, and a nagging feeling like he's forgetting something. Ah well. It'll come to him later.

When Elena and the rest lose there minds once they realize he's gone.

"Home," Dr. Dugenhauser states, giving Eric a look. "-Home- home." The driver, who has been leaning against the Lincoln, puts away the paper he is reading, and reaches out to open the door for him. With the driver's assistance, Eric is helped into the car. And when he gets into the car….he'll find a distinguished looking, middle-aged man in a suit reading the Wall Street Journal, with a pair of expensive, wire-rimmed glasses perched on his nose.

Laurence Lancaster looks up, his face from neutral, to relieved. "Eric, thank God." He nods to the older man assisting the boy into the car. "Hans."

"Laurence. You have got a miracle in your hands, it seems," the good doctor muses. "Do you need anything else from me?"

"Yes. I understand you have a meeting in your own hospital, but Vidalia and I would be very happy if you and Sonya joined us for dinner tonight at the mansion," Laurence states. "Thank you for being here at such a short notice, Hans."

"You're very welcome, Larry. Keep your boy out of trouble." With that, the door closes.

"Kenneth." Laurence nods to the driver, who nods back and starts up the car. With all of that done, he presses a button to the side of him, to draw up the protective, black soundproofed shield that separated the passenger area from the driver's area, and he turns to give Eric a -look-. No words need to be said. He just gives his son a -look-.

Eric is silent as they wheeeeel him towards the door. Silent as they deposit him in the car. Wincing as he says /home/ home. Well. Maybe he'll see Peter there. They are neighbors aren’t they? A glance up towards his father, before he then glances back down and away. At least until the screen is raised, and that look is given. Eric winces slightly once more at that look and he just sighs. "…hi dad." Pause. "…I suppose I'm sorry isn't quite going to cut this one."

"Eric what were you THINKING?" Laurence is staring at his son even as he sighs. "Engaging a man with a gun? I almost had a heart attack when Nora called me through the emergency number and told me you were critical!" He rubs his forehead a bit, and removes his glasses so he could rub his eyes. "Your mother burst into tears over the phone when I told her. And naturally when something happens to any of you children, she blames me! Said I shouldn't have allowed you to change your name and pretend to be….well. Not you. She's back in the mansion now waiting for us. If that….doctor hadn't come along with this miracle cure of his that I've been hearing so much about, you might not have made it. If your heartbeat hadn't spiked in the OR you might not have made it. I'm starting to wonder if hiring you your senseis had been a huge mistake all along if you were going to tumble headfirst into danger you're not equipped to handle like that."

"I think that was the problem dad," Eric says with a slightly rueful look towards his father. "I wasn't thinking…" A pause then before he just sits back. "I just…well…acted," He shakes his head. "It wasn't because I changed my name and all that either…I just…" He looks slightly embarrassed, slightly sheepish. "There was this girl there, the guy with the gun looked like he was going to shoot her and…I just moved. I didn't even…" Then he pauses and blinks as the rest of the words wash over the young man and he seems to sink into the leather seats a bit deeper. "…I was that close?"

There is silence. Laurence looks at his boy as he looks sheepish, lifting his brows a little bit. That part he didn't find out about. That Eric got shot because he was rescuing a girl. The anger and worry tapers off a bit in the man's dark eyes, and he sighs. "Oh, Eric…." he says, looking away at the one-sided windows of the Lincoln, watching the boulevards of New York pass him by. He is silent for a long moment. "I know it's not because of you changing your name," he says slowly. "Truth be told, your mother never understood it. You know how she is. I, on the other hand…" He was, after all, a self-made man. He could respect the fact that his son wanted to be the same. "I would love to say that I feel nothing but anger and worry over this, but….you laid down your life for someone else, son. That's pretty big. Heroic." He looks over at Eric and he can't help but smile a bit. And then, he furrows his brows. "….and the girl?" Did she survive? "I'd like to think you didn't get shot over nothing."

Laurence nods. "And yes. You were that close. No one knows what happened but you miraculously got better. In fact, word from the good doctor says the strangeness started in the OR by your 10th hour. Your heartbeat spiked. It went on strongly enough that they managed to pull you out of the danger zone."

"I…don't know," Eric replies with a sudden look of surprise on his face, patting his pockets where he cell phone /should/ be. He doesn’t have his things though, and he blinks. Damn hospital people taking his things and putting them away like they are supposed too! "…she didn't get shot though. The man with the gun ran off, and the last thing I remember was her leaning over me." He adds slowly trying to think back. Everything was so blurry though. He blinks though and frowns. There is something in his memory though…it's just not coming to the surface right now it isn't. "…I…don't know what happened. I was a bit out of it." He manages a smile though towards his father. "Maybe someone yelled me better when they heard you and mom being so upset."

The plastic bag was with the driver, so Eric can't reach his phone right now. Laurence observes his son carefully as he patpatpatpats his pockets for the cell phone he always has. That, and Eric has no pockets. He's still in his hospital gown. "Well, I'm glad that your mission was accomplished, but at great risk to yourself. It would do good for your parents blood pressures for you never to risk yourself in such a way again." Hah hah. Good luck, dad. Now that your son is trying to save the world along with a bunch of other crazies living in New York city. At the last, he smirks - a smirk that looks very much like his son's. "Perhaps." He looks out the window. "The world is a strange place if you open your eyes wide enough, after all," he remarks, the words cryptic and his eyes away while he watches the city pass him by on their way to Hyde Park. "But it seems you got out of this unscathed. Your mother will be happy. She has insisted on calling the campus to let them know you will be gone a week on a sudden family vacation. We almost lost you after all, and it would be good for you to reconnect with your siblings."

"…I'll do my best on that," Eric replies, glancing away from his father when he says it. He has /always/ sucked at lying. That’s one skill that he hasn't be able to perfect in his life, though he's not as bad as he used to be. He sighs though as his father smirks and he puts his chin in one hand and looks out at the passing shadows as they drive. "…dad, you have /no/ idea how right you are." He says absently before he blinks and grimaces. "…all of them?" He asks helplessly.

Laurence lifts a brow at Eric, inclining his head a bit at his equally cryptic reply. "Why, are you in some kind of trouble?" his father asks. Yes. He knows Eric isn't the best liar in the world. Almost all of his siblings beat him in that regard. He never had the gift to do so. "And yes, all of them. Adrienne was worried. Mark was worried. Brett and Lacey—" He pauses. "Well. Forget about Brett and Lacey but they're both required to see you." Otherwise he'll be pulling their trust funds and both think that's their worst nightmare ever. Searching his son's face, he sighs. "It better not be drugs or crime, son. Rescuing girls is one thing. Illegal activities are another."

"What trouble? Me?" Eric laughs nervously for a moment before trailing off into silence. A pause then before he shakes his head. "…no…not really," He adds after a moment before he sighs, rubbing the back of his head. "Adrienne was actually worried?" He mutters under his breath, trying to keep the bitter sound out of his voice before he shakes his head. "…I wouldn't mind seeing Mark." He doesn’t even ask about Brett and Lacey. They would most likely be sorry he /didn't/ die, and their funds didn't get any bigger. He blinks though at the last from his father though and shakes his head. "No no, god no. You know me, I wouldn't get ten miles of either of those." That’s Brett's thing, not his.

"Of course she was worried," Laurence says, a frown on his lips. "Why wouldn't she? She's your sister. Granted Mark is busy but when he heard you were critical, he wanted to go to the police himself to demand answers. Your mother convinced him that discretion is the better part of valor." He folds the stems of his glasses and slips it in the leather case by his side, snapping it shut and putting it away in his briefcase. "What happened to the two of you anyway? You used to be close. Your mother in all of her prowess for family gossip never figured it out." At the last, he watches his son intently, before he nods. "Good. Keep it that way. Brett is a nightmare enough to keep off the papers. I'd like to think my other son isn't so cavalier with his life."

He pauses. "….even though under the circumstances, that statement came just a little bit too late."

Oh Eric is cavalier with his life, but just isn't in the same way as his older brother. The young man sighs though, shaking his head. "I know, I know…I shouldn't say things like that about her. I'm sure she was worried," He smiles though and nods. "That sounds like Mark though, he'll be gruff when he finally gets around to seeing me, and he'll be on the phone half the time, but I know he at least cares." He pauses again before he looks down at his feet a moment, sighing slightly.

How do you tell your dad, the one man you respect more than anything else…that you aren’t close to your sister anymore because you scared her because…you’re some kind of freak. Granted, a cool freak, but…you’re not normal.

"Nothing, we just…grew apart. She attached herself to Lacey, and I'm just…not into that kind of scene I guess." He adds after a moment, giving his father a weak smile before leaning back in the seat again. "Believe me though, I want nothing more than to stay out of the papers."

"Your brother knows the value of hard work. He's very much like you, he's determined to make his name his own," Laurence remarks, glancing over at Eric even as he looks away to say what he does. But he knows his son is lying, even when he answers that question about his sister. He's better at it now, but his youngest son has always been an honest creature. "Mark was the first who tried to do something. I know he's hard to get close to, but given his occupation, you should understand why he has to be the way he is." He unfolds his crossed legs, leaning further into the seat. He was tall, just like Eric.

At the last, he nods, accepting the explanation for now. But the look on his face tells Eric that he definitely doesn't believe him. "Well, you'll get that wish," he tells him simply. "Nothing on the papers. You're going to have to level with me, though, son. I know you're lying. I'm your father. I run an international electronics conglomerate. You don't get there without being perceptive."

"I know," Eric replies with a smile. "When he remembers he can actually be…warm," A pause. "When he remembers." A slight smile there before his father…backs him into the proverbial corner. He swallows slightly before he pauses a moment. "…about which part, Adrienne or whatever problems I'm not into?" He asks, joking, buying time. Though he knows he's fairly caught. Calling Elena is vanished from his mind at this newest hurdle in his life.

The last thing he wants is his family bound up in all this mess as well.

"I wasn't aware that you had problems you're not into," Laurence says, catching that from his son. D'oh. Should've stuck with the other line, kemosabe. "Eric. You're nineteen. That's old enough for you to make your own decisions, but if you have problems that entail you into getting shot and almost dying, I think, as your father, I'm entitled to know so I can try and protect you. Do you understand? You're my youngest, I can't…" Exhaustion appears in his eyes. His father suddenly looks older than his forty-something years. Could anyone imagine being a father, and a hundred miles away to get a phone call telling him the youngest of his litter might not make it through the morning? "Though you can certainly start with what's going on between you and Adrienne. I promise I won't interfere, it's between you and her, and like I said, you're a grown man. You can make your own decisions. I just want to be let in a little, -especially- after today."

"I…what I mean…I just…I didn't mean I…" Eric stutters, backpedals. Oh this is so not fair! Hitting the guilt button, and he's not even properly dressed and…he just can't deal with this. So. Soooo not fair. He glances away from his father then, but he notes the tired feeling, the weight that seems to be on his shoulders. It hurts just to see it. "…I…know you won't interfere, and I know that you worry, and that you should have at least…" He shakes his head slightly, words failing him. Finally he sighs. "…I…scared her," He finally says, though it's not much of an explanation it's at least a start. He pauses again before he runs a hand though his hair, nervous habit he learned from both Mark and his father. "…just…I won't do anything to get myself hurt again, I'll take care of myself."

"….scared her? You weren't dancing in front of her naked, were you?" Laurence says, lifting his brows up. To be frank he didn't see what Eric could do that could scare Adrienne so much. Unless he tried jumping off a building. Or he found dead road kill and attempted to pass it off as one of her stuffed toys. His brow furrows a bit, but he waits for an explanation. "I know you can take care of yourself." And a grumbling mutter. "You just don't seem to be taking care of yourself -well enough-." There is a slight emphasis there. But he does wait for Eric to come out with it. He is patient. And he recognizes the nervous hand gesture.

"God no, I said scared her, not scarred her for life," Eric says with a laugh as he shakes his head before he goes back to looking down at his hands again, frowning slightly. "…your…not going to let me get out of this one are you?" He asks with a slight smile towards the older man before he sighs slightly and shakes his head. "No, I suppose you aren’t…" He adds mostly to himself. There is a young pause from the young man before he glances down at his hands again. "…there's a book out, by a doctor named Suresh. Have you seen it, heard of it?"

"Nope." One could almost hear the smile in his tone, as he responds to whether he was going to let Eric out of this. Almost. Laurence observes his son glance down guiltily in his hands even as every word he utters pounds on the guilt button. He was so good at it. It was one of the tricks he had learned to master after so many years toiling away in Corporate America. And then he mentions the book. No sign of recognition is on his father's face. Then again, he can't see it anyway considering Eric's eyes are elsewhere. "What about this book?" he prompts, crossing his leg over the other to rest his ankle by the knee, and folds his hands together on his lap.

"Didn't think so," Eric says with a muttered sigh. He pauses again though, trying to think on this. "…well if you've read the book it's easier to explain." He adds. "It's called Activating Evolution." He adds after a moment. "The Doctor theorized that well…people would…well it's hard to explain," He adds after a moment. It would be so much easier to just show him, but…the last time he tried that with family his sister screamed and ran away from him.

"Try," Laurence remarks, looking at his son intently. What the heck? What's that look for? Why is his father looking at him like that? Then again, he isn't saying anything. He's just looking at Eric, waiting for him to get on with it.

What’s with that look? Eric just blinks slightly at that odd look he's getting from his dad. He shakes himself at the one word though, and the forges right on ahead. Damn the torpedoes and all that stuff. "His theory was that people would start to be able to…do things, to develop different powers. He believed that this had already begun to happen, that people like that were living in the world today. I know…it sounds completely crazy…I didn't believe it really myself…but…" He swallows, closing his eyes, not wanting to see the look of shock and surprise and fear on his father’s face like he saw with his sister. "…it's true. It's all true, people /can/ do things…I can do things. When…I told Adrienne about it, she…well you remember the month that she didn't even want to sit at the same table as me at dinner unless you and mom made her?"

"So….she saw this thing you can do," Laurence says slowly. His expression is still the way it is. "And yes, I remember. That was how the….thing between you two started. Your mother thought it was a sibling disagreement at first. We both knew you upset her in some way, but we didn't know what it was, and Vidalia tried asking 'Rienne about it, but she wouldn't say." To his credit, he doesn't look skeptical. But he's still wearing that look. "….so what can you do, Eric? What can you do that scared your sister so much?"

"I asked her not to tell, made her promise," Eric says softly, slowly. "We were close, and I thought…she would at least understand, it was different…but it scared her." He sighs, his head falling into his hands for a moment. "I didn't mean to scare her you know…" He adds after a moment before he looks back up towards his father, expecting the disbelief, the odd looks. "I can control darkness…I know it sounds farfetched, but…that’s what I can do."

"……." Laurence looks at his son for a really long moment. Finally, he sighs, raking his hand through his hair and glancing out the window. There is silence. For the moment, there is nothing but the city passing them by. Darkness. His son can control darkness. Oh well. At least it had been passed on to Eric, and not Brett or Lacey or even Adrienne, who never did have the stomach for strangeness. When he speaks up again, it's deliberate. "Oh well," he remarks. "I suppose it could be worse. Your mother and I worried about that for a long time, you know. With the way we are, -one- of you would've started showing eventually."


He takes his high-tech Blackberry out from his pocket, and removes the audio receiver device from it. He also shuts the device off, and tosses it lightly to Eric.

It's only reflexes that let Eric catch the Blackberry. Everything else is involved in staring at his father. "I…huh…what?" He says intelligently. He looks as if he's going for the landed fish award tonight folks. Mouth gaping open as he stares at his father. "…I…you knew?! You…mom too?!" Stunned would be a good description of him right now.

"Well, I didn't say we knew for sure," Laurence explains. "More like we -expected- it. At least, expected it from one of you. At least one of you." He watches his son for a few minutes, before he smirks faintly. "After all, Dr. Suresh's theory did say that these abilities are genetic. How else is that passed, Eric, but through offspring?" He shrugs. "Granted after Mark, and then Brett and Lacey, and then Adrienne, nothing's come out. We thought our children turned out perfectly normal, but the theory seems, at least, credible from where I stand." He looks at the inactive Blackberry in his son's hands. "Blackberry on."

The Blackberry, with no receiver to translate the commands from its owner, turns on.

"Take a picture of Eric."

Click. The Blackberry snaps a picture of Eric, looking fishfaced.

"Now send it to his mother."

The Blackberry opens up an e-mail message, and attaches the digital photo to it, before sending it to moc.scinortcelenal|retsacnalv#moc.scinortcelenal|retsacnalv.

"…you just sent her a picture of me, staring open mouthed…she's going to lecture me about manners again," Eric says after a moment. Looking at the thing as he finally snaps his mouth shut. He…doesn’t know what to say, finally though he just thumps back against the seat. "…you…knew…and you /have/ read that damn book." He grumbles, though there isn't any heat or strength behind the grumbling. Just…relief, that finally. Someone in his family knows, and…doesn’t turn him out.

"I'm your father, Eric. Like I said, I didn't know -which- one of you. Now I know which one." Laurence reaches out to take the Blackberry from him, and replaces the audio receiver back upon it and slipping it in his pocket. "It was bound to happen eventually. But yes. I've read the book. So did your mother. It was the only study done by a respected academic about this stuff, we couldn't afford not to." Wait. Vidalia read a book? A book on -science-? He looks up when the black Lincoln slows down, seeing the gates part in front of them to let the car inside the secure grounds of the Lancaster mansion in Hyde Park.

The car climbs up the rotunda, stopping in front of the marble steps leading up to the front porch of the mansion. Kenneth the driver steps out, and opens the door for father and son. There is a maid waiting, with a wheelchair in front of her.

Laurence unfolds his legs. "You need your rest," he tells Eric. He takes the plastic bag from Kenneth when it is handed to him, and hands it to him. "Your things," he states, before turning to head up the mansion's steps.

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