Chapter One

March 1st 2007- Present time

Austin Winters

Life… at this moment it seemed so fragile. No, it didn't just seem fragile; it was in this moment that he realized it was fragile. Like porcelain. You think someone would have had the mind to put up a sign like the ones that frequent antique stores. You break, you pay.

It was these thoughts that plagued Austin's mind as he sat in the middle of a road, his lover's head, attached to a broken body, resting in his hands. Any one else would have cried. Austin didn't, as he couldn't. It was impossible. What he was, he didn't know. No one knew, and that is why he told no one. Sharing the information of what many would come to call a gift was useless. Sharing the information of what many have already called a curse was useless as well.

Looking up to the stars, he shouted as many mental curses as his mind would allow. Every time… This happened every time he got close to someone. Whenever he made an acquaintance, he feared for their life. That is why he avoided contact with other people at all costs. Telephones were safe, he had found. A phone call or two didn't spell death for anyone. But, if he said hello to someone that he met every day on the metro; it would be no surprise if this person was in the obituaries the next day. Why this was, he couldn't tell you.

In truth, Austin knew absolutely nothing about his life. When he looked back on it there was nothing. It wasn't that he was missing anything or had a desolate life. It was just that, nothing. When ever he tried to look back on memories all he found was a desolate gray, as if someone had taken his memories and covered them with thick layers of gauze. Once again, why this was, he couldn't tell you.

Shaking his head, he stood, allowing her one last glance. As if on cue, thunder shook the ground and rain began to pelt down from an angry sky. Rain, it was the closest he would ever get to tears. Gritting his teeth, he began to walk. This was a walk that he had taken more times than he wished. A walk in which there was no destination, a walk where he left another important person in his life behind. He didn't care if anyone saw him. If someone accused him of murder, it wouldn't be a very outlandish remark. It was his fault. He might as well have been the man who helped her take the jump.

Suicide. That's what they would call it. That would just be a lie. Witnesses, if there were any, would be able to honestly say that they saw no one else on the building with her. There hadn't been anyone else up there, at least physically. Mentally though, who knows who could have been willing her to take the leap. An agent had most likely convinced her that it was the only way to liberate herself.
Agents were what he had come to call them, "them" being the men and women who were so set against him. For what reason, he couldn't tell you. He was sure though that it was because they wanted his power, or at least envied it. There was no other way to explain why they hadn't just killed him. Also, all of the murders they committed were set up so that there was no way he could be the one who committed the crime. The only murder Austin had ever directly committed had been an Agent. They had sent one of their own to become his friend. He had actually fallen for it. He took consolation in the fact that she had fallen for it as well. Their relationship had teetered dangerously over the ravine called love… That's when it had happened. He remembered it so clearly, just seven years ago. He hated thinking of that though, her death. More so when these thoughts came to him he redirected them to the day they had met. It had been a beautiful summer day. Maybe that's why he had chosen his last name to be 'Winters' because it was the opposite of summer. That day had been warm and comfortable, and deceiving.

Winter was like a slap in the face, cold utter-realization.

June 22nd 2000- Past

(Seven Years from Present)

Austin Winters

A curse rang out through the air and there was a squeal of brakes along with the quick jab of a honking horn. Taking his keys from the ignition, Austin leaned back in his seat, a sigh escaping from his lips. Great, the car behind him had just slammed into his car. His eyes turned to the clock, 6:45am, what a great start to the day. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head against the head rest. Maybe if he just sat here for a while the damage to his car would just repair itself. He would probably have remained in this state of denial if the sound of someone tapping on his window hadn't jolted him. Shock must be what had taken a hold of him. When he moved it was as if through a fog. Somehow, his fingers found the button which slowly sucked the glass into the car door.

"Are you alright? I am so sorry; I don't know what I was doing! I have just been so busy today because of…" As the person continued to chatter away, Austin looked up at who was speaking. A petite brunette, with intense eyes that could have passed for purple was babbling away, and her face was creased with worry. Her accent was a refreshing clean-cut British one. She wore an expensive tailored suit that made her small frame seem taller and more powerful. He smiled a bit; it was obvious that she had wanted this effect. Raising a hand, he casually cut her off.

"I am fine," he spoke, his voice smooth and controlled, exactly the opposite of hers "really." He said when she opened her mouth once more. "And it is okay, this old pick-up had more than its share of dents before this happened. All that matters is that we're both okay. Are you okay?" He asked.

She paused for a second and then nodded. The woman was noticeably surprised by his reaction. He didn't blame her for being startled; most everyone in this city was either intentionally or unintentionally rude.

"I guess I am okay…" She paused once more, as if expecting him to burst out in protest because she was thinking of her own well being.

"Are you sure?" He asked because of her hesitance. When she nodded once more, he rolled his window up and then stepped out of his car. "Why don't you go inside and get a cup of coffee," He nodded to the coffee shop that was a few shops away from where their cars had met. "I'll call the police and a tow truck, and then I'll meet them in there."

"It would probably be better if I stayed here… wouldn't it?" She asked looking to him for reassurance. Poor girl, he thought, this must be her first accident.

"No, its fine, just go sit down, I'll be right in. Relax; I'll take care of everything." Finally, she nodded and began to walk to the coffee shop. Austin smiled, interesting person. He was lucky to get hit by her. He had also been expecting the other driver to be a just another haughty denizen of the city.

Walking over to the back of his car, he bit back a grin. His car was fine, but hers had been dented. It was an expensive car too. Running his hand over the metal of the car, he didn't take out his cell phone. He couldn't have because he didn't have one. Austin also didn't plan on calling the police. Austin was in hiding and couldn't afford the risk of letting agents know where he was.

With a glance around, he made sure no one was watching. Luckily, the cars weren't in so bad shape that they couldn't pull over to the side, so there wasn't a big commotion. Without even looking back down, Austin touched the hood of her car. He began to feel the energy building up inside of him. When he had first discovered his powers it had felt like a volcano. He hadn't been able to stem the flow of lava and had been very dangerous. Now, he was still dangerous, but he had his powers under control. A small trickle of power flowed through his right arm and seeped through his fingertips where they touched the car. For a moment nothing happened. Then, the metal of the car began to ripple, righting itself.

After making sure his car was locked, Austin made for the coffee shop, leaving two perfectly fine cars behind him.

June 22nd 2000- Past

(Seven Years from Present)

Agent 419

As she walked to the coffee shop, Karen Lynx pulled a pager from the inside of her suit jacket. She had only to look at it for her team to receive the message she was intending to deliver. I've had contact with the subject. It wasn't that a team was watching her, or that there was any type of camera on the pager. It was her power to be able to access and use electronics with her mind. More precisely, it was one of the powers that she had been injected with. Evidently she needed them to go up against this subject. Hopefully she wouldn't have to use some of the more dangerous ones. She was just supposed to get close to him, see what he knew about the 'agency'.

Replacing the pager, she ordered a Chai tea for herself and a coffee for him. After collecting the drinks, she took a seat in the far right corner. She had chosen this seat due to the fact that it was located where she could see the front door. Placing the coffee across from her, she took a sip. The first sip made her wince a bit as the heat stabbed at the tip of her tongue, but the second sip was creamy and made her relax somewhat. She wasn't jittery because of the car crash, in fact, she wasn't jittery at all. Stress was something that plagued her. It was what she considered the benefit of having to be secretive at every moment.

Karen's demeanor only changed somewhat as she saw Austin approach. She only needed to glance at him to know that he had just used one of his powers. There was a ripple in the air around him which was so slight that only someone who had been trained to see it actually could. Her guess was that he had fixed the cars, or at least attempted to. Really, the agency knew next to nothing about Austin. They didn't even know his real name. Through all of these years of tracking him they had only figured out that he did have powers. How extensive and powerful these powers were was beyond them.

When he entered the coffee shop she had already assumed an expression that implied she was deep in thought. It only took a second for him to spot her. In three long strides, his long legs practically swallowed the distance between the two of them. He stopped just in front of the table she had chosen, but she did not look up, still in character.

"Ahem." Austin cleared his throat, in an attempt to get her attention.

"Oh!" Karen looked up, as if startled. "I'm sorry, I guess I zoned out for a second."

"I don't blame you," He sat casually down on the chair across from her. "Life is pretty crazy."

"You're telling me." She smiled, and then nodded towards the coffee, "its black…" she would have continued if he hadn't cut her off.

"It's fine." His speech was short and roughly cut, but he still managed to keep an air of politeness.

"You're not one for small talk are you? Mr.…?"

"No, I'm not, Ms…?" If anyone else had spoken like this it would have seemed mocking. But, just from first impression you could already see that Austin Winters was not just anybody.

"Karen." When she spoke this time it was not timidly as it had been the first few times. Instead, it was more of a challenge to his attitude.

" Austin." It was obvious from his tone that he would gladly meet this challenge.

"Well, it is incredibly nice to meet you Austin. I must apologize once more for bumping into your car," this time she offered no explanation, knowing he would just cut her off if she did. "I will gladly pay for any damage done to your car."

"What damage?" She raised an eyebrow as if cueing him to continue. He caught it, but did not take it. It was obvious that he was amused by this. Karen wondered if this was a product of his powers. It was very possible that he thought he was above any other person that was simply "normal".

"What do you mean 'what damage'?" Karen finally spoke, realizing that he could probably sit here all day without replying. "I know I didn't hit your truck very hard, but there must have been a dent of some sort. I'm a strong person; you don't have to prolong telling me that I owe you one hundred thousand dollars."

"I'm not prolonging anything. There really weren't even any scratches on the cars." He paused for a second and Karen was forced to use her training in that moment. She didn't have to take any action, no, the problem was not moving. In that brief second that his speech had stopped an invisible magic had poured from his being and flowed towards her. Being an agent, she could see the change in the air, but as her cover was a civilian she could not show any change in her facade.

"I called the police, as I said I would," He spoke, the break in his speech barely noticeable, "and they said that because there were no damages, as long as the cars were in working order they would not need to come down." Austin removed something from his pocket and placed it on the table, "seeing as you had been so nice as to leave your keys in the ignition, I checked and both of our cars are in perfect condition." Karen looked down, her face showing disbelief. So that is what he had done; only moments ago she remembered placing her keys in her pocket. That had been just before she had walked over to his car and given him what seemed a wake-up call. She had to admit that she was impressed that his transition of his powers and speech had been so smooth.

"Well, then I guess my insurance doesn't need to know about this," she smiled, and her pager went off, as planned by her team.

"Work?" Austin asked as she removed her pager and glanced at it.

"Yes, I'm sorry I have to cut this conversation short, but I must go." She stood in one fluent motion, "Maybe I'll see you around."

"Yeah, maybe," as he spoke, a genuine grin finally found its way onto his face.

June 22 2000 – Past

(Seven Years from Present)

Unrevised Progress Log: Agent 410

Operation 1st Contact (1C): In preparation for 1C, I, 410, have written a small summary of information 'home base' has given Team 410-419.

Summary: Subject Austin Winters appeared on our radar May 17th 1991, age estimated during this period of time is Approx. 120 months. His place of residence was Mapleforth Orphanage, and he remained here for approximately five years. During this period of time, scans from afar showed that he had much potential for possessing great power. 'Home base' wonders if subject might be 556. He then left the orphanage and disappeared off of radar. Approx. 36 months later, April 28th, 1999, AW was sighted. We have watched and done several scans, but have not approached until this moment. Agent 419 was chosen for this project because throughout her work with 'home base' (HB) she has shown similar interests as AW. Also, she is more human, per say, than other agents. This is normally shown as a weakness, but in this particular case will be strength. 419 has a mission to delve into his life and pull out what she can. We are aware that the subject knows of us, but not what we are, only that we watch him. He currently has a sense of security and possibly believes that we lost his trail. Still, AW remains unsocial and drawn back from the 'outside world'. Power usage is not very common although it has increased since his sense of security has set in. I will add other information to the log as well in the future.

6:45am: As planned 419 'bumped' into subject AW. AW remains in car, 419 walks in a fit mood to the car.

6:46am: Contact seems to startle AW. 419 babbles incoherently. (Note to self, change that statement before submitting to HB.) They continue to talk. (411 records their conversation)

6:48am: 419 walks into coffee shop 'Cuppah Coffahe'. AW remains behind and begins to use power. Fascinating, he manipulates the metal so that the car rights it self. All of this happens in a span of only thirty-five seconds.

7:00am: AW enters coffee shop after loitering by the cars for a few minutes. It is evident he does not want Agent 419 to become suspicious. Vision is now obscured, Agents 412 and 415 are entering the coffee shop and the rest of the recording will be done by them, as well as 411. Pager will still be activated at planned on signal, but is now in the hands of 412.

This is Agent 410 and I will remain here until the team is recalled. Until then, I will be logging out until my view is restored.

Note to self. Darn Rob, you sure as heck need to edit this before turning it into your supervisors!!!! Maybe I'll get some in time tonight, if I'm not on watcher duty.

January 4th 2001- Past

(Six Years from Present)

Austin Winters

Austin sat in the living room of his small apartment. His feet rested on the glass coffee table which was located in front of the beaten green couch. His face was stone: blank with no expression upon it. The only thing that moved in the room were his thoughts.

'How could she do this to me? How could I have fallen for this? All of this time she has been… I can't hesitate, I have to do it. She is a threat. I have to.'

His thoughts were interrupted as the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs of the apartment complex filled the air. Still, he didn't move. Keys jingled as one slid into the door knob of his door. It was not until the door creaked slowly opened that he reassuringly patted the cruel metal of the gun which was held by the inner pocket of his black jacket.

" Austin?" Her voice drifted silkily through the air, caressing his ears.

"Yes Karen?" He spoke with the same controlled tone he had when they first met.

"Is something wrong? On the phone you sounded…" She stopped when she saw his expression. He stood and looked directly into her eyes. When he spoke this time his tone was frigid.

"Has it all been a lie?"

"What are you talking about?" She asked, her face in the perfect expression of confusion. Too perfect, he thought.

"Don't play dumb. Don't think I don't know."

" Austin… I don't understand…" Her expression never faltered.

"I see," when he spoke he nodded. His hand reached into his coat. "I see that this has meant nothing to you. If it had… you would tell me. Wouldn't you?" A glimmer of sadness entered his eyes, but that was the only factor that revealed his sorrow.

" Austin…" She gave in, he knew, it was too late. "I was going to tell you."

"After or before you killed me?"

"That wasn't the plan at all! I wasn't supposed to hurt you. They told me to just…"

"Manipulate me so they could see how hard I crashed and burned?" Karen winced miserably. "It's too late, Karen. If that is even your real name…"

"That I didn't lie about. I've been Jessica, Lillian, and I've had any number of names but for the past three years I have been Karen. I didn't lie about how I felt either. Austin I…" He cut her off as she took a step forward.

"Stay where you are." She ignored his comment and took another step as she continued to speak.

"You must understand Austin, I had no choice… This is my life. I know I lied to you, and that it may seem like the entire thing was false. It wasn't though. I wasn't supposed to get this close…" Her words stopped as he unveiled the gun.

"Why did you kill him?" The ice had returned in his eyes.

"I had no choice, it was orders. He was getting too…" He cut her off once more.

"Too annoying? What did he do? I finally find someone who ties in to my past and you slaughtered him!"

"We had to. I am sorry Austin. It shouldn't have turned out like this."

"No, you are right. I shouldn't have been so blind. I could have saved him. I could have killed you. I'm not going to make that mistake twice." He raised the gun, his finger on the trigger, he harsh eyes of the barrel staring Karen down.

"You don't want to do this." Karen put her hands up as if to signal him to stop.

"Oh, no Agent, I think I do."

" Austin, trust me. You do not want to do this. You'll regret it."

"How can I regret ridding this planet of one more murderer?"

"You don't understand what happened. He wasn't related to you in any way. It was all a lie. He was just some strange fanatic."

"You would say anything wouldn't you? Anything that would give me a false sense of security, and then you would probably off me as well."

"No, Austin, we weren't ever going to kill you. I would never kill you or intentionally hurt you… I was going to stop, to resign… to tell you everything! I promise. I can't fake these feelings that I have for you."

"Is that supposed to touch my heart?"

"No, it is supposed to get you to calm down and to listen to me."

"You don't understand do you? In my mind, you're not Karen any more. You're not even a human being. Only a monster could do what you did to that man, only an agent. That's all I will ever see you as now: a cold, heartless, cruel killer." With that, he pulled the trigger. A crash filled the air and the sleek silver bullet flew through the air.

October 4th 2000

(Seven Years from Present)

Unrevised Progress Log- Agent 410

Contacts 1-19: I have written a summary of what we have learned in the past several contacts.
Summary: From the second to the third contact, the subject did not use any of his powers. It was not until the fourth meeting that we tested his powers. A decoy was sent to rob them, and the subject used some form of persuasion to get the decoy to give up. That has been the only time he has used his powers in the past several months. Something disturbing has shown up on our radar however. He has been contacted several times by a man who goes by the name Jeff. During the third contact we managed to bug his phones and we have several recordings of this man claiming to be his relative. AW has yet to meet this man face to face, but has been drawn in. We did background research on this Jeff character and found that he is in fact not a blood relative or any type of relative of AW. It was even more disturbing to find that he had been tracking AW and a few other subjects of ours for quite some time. He does not seem to possess any power himself, and has not chosen to act yet, so we will not. Still, I have a bad feeling about him. In my opinion the sooner we expunge him from this sector, the better.

Of AW we learned that he has more power than we imagined. Not only can he manipulate the physical state, but also the mental state (as in 4C). He does not seem power hungry in any way as many of our subjects have been. If anything, he seems curious. Also, he is aware of the danger there is of using them and we believe this is why his usage has been limited.

Observations: It has been my observation that the relationship between AW and Agent 419 is getting more and more closely knit. Our supervisors were concerned at first that 419 would get too attached to 419, but now they see how they can use that information to their advantage. How, I've learned not ask questions that I know don't have an answer. In my opinion, 419 is still acting as a professional and is in no danger of revealing any information. AW does not seem to suspect anything, but it is truly hard to tell as he truly does not have any amount of friends who he talks to. In other words, there are not many conversations we can listen in on to get information. The only friend he seems to have is the employee of Vick's Pizzas, as he orders out a majority of the time he is in his apartment. AW seems to avoid the public as much as possible. AW and 419's 'dates' are to places where not many people go. I believe that he is still paranoid about the agency and avoids these places for that reason. Still, with the help of 419, he has started to venture out more often.

Jeffery Vincentia "Jeff"- Owns several apartments near a few of our subjects, including AW. He has called, as far as we know, AW five times in the last two weeks claiming to have known his father and to be a cousin. We have been given orders not to act until we have enough facts, and/or Jeffery makes his move.

Terrance Lentz- An employee of Vick's Pizza, who AW has recently started to request. We believe this is because they have started a friendship, although other theories might show that Austin is trying to limit the number of people he comes in contact with.
Other- I am attaching a recount of the conversation last had between 'Jeff' and AW, which was recorded by 411.
Note to self. Edit, edit, edit. These reports are due to the supervisor before the next watcher date.

October 1st 2000: 16:30pm:

J: Hey, Austin?

A: Yes? Who is this? Jeff? That you?

J: Hey, listen I was wondering if you wanted to get together some time next week.

A: (Pause) Well, I don't know Jeff. I've been really busy with work and…

J: Still writing that novel?

A: Yeah, I am. Listen, Jeff, honestly I don't know if I'm ready to meet someone from my family yet… I know that may sound a little strange.

J: Just a little… (Noted sarcasm in tone)

A: Yeah, but it has just is a bit of a shock to learn that any of my family still lives, and I just don't think I can face you yet. After years of thinking I was all alone, you would think that this would be the last thing I was feeling, but right now everything doesn't make sense.

J: Listen bud, its okay. We don't have to meet today, or even tomorrow, but I would love to see how your father's son has grown up.

A: Right, well I really have to go now but I'll get back to you soon.

J: You always say that but for some reason I'm always the one attempting to reach you.

A: I'm sorry about that Jeff… I'm forgetful; I haven't had anyone to call in a long time…

J: Don't worry about it. Take care of yourself.

A: Yeah, you too.

Conversation ends at 16:57pm.
Notes from 411: This conversation was different from the other ones the subject and J have had in the past. A was more distant and less eager to meet J this time. Whether that was from stress or from distrust we can only guess.

October 4th 2000

(Seven Years from Present)

An entry from the journal of Jeffery Vincentia

Dear Journal,

In the past few days I have noticed that I am not the only one watching Mr. Winters. There is a van parked a block away from his apartment that I am sure I have seen more than once. No doubt they have the phone calls I have made to Mr. Winters in their records. It does not faze me that they are now watching me as well. They cannot stop me from changing history.

It is funny because they probably think that I am here to watch their subjects only. They don't know how wrong they are. I am not even intent on discovering any more about Mr. Winters. I know that if I continue to harass their subjects than maybe eventually they will come to me, instead of me trying to find them. I have less than seven years to right what has happened. I don't know why or how this strange miracle that has happened has been placed on me, but I am not going to question it.

When my sister died, on March 1st 2007, I knew that it was not suicide. I dare not tell anyone in this time where I am from or what my mission is. Being from the future is hard. Just three days ago I walked into the supermarket and saw my sister standing in line; I burst into tears and was forced to leave. How I would love to run and take her in my arms, but my current or my past self is currently several hundred cities away.

I am getting off subject. I need to focus on why I am here. I will find those agents. It has to be their fault, and if it isn't they will certainly know who. I cannot have come all the way back for no reason at all. I am not a religious man at all, but if there is a God then I am thankful to him for giving me a second chance. More likely, it was by pure will that I was transported back here. Still, I have been here for several years and I have yet to get any closer to my goal. I wasted many of my years on pointless research, but eventually I learned more about the agents and their subjects. Then, after years of studying I finally found one of their subjects. Soon, I started to spot agents, and then it became easy. Some people would call it an obsession, I'm sure, if I had even talked to anyone since I arrived here.

In truth the only reason I have turned to seclusion is because the last thing I need to do is run into a friend of my families. Explaining why there is two of me is not on my schedule for the next several years. I would have changed my name, but I realized that there must be more than two Jeffery Vincentia's out in the world right now. I can't get my license renewed, but that is fine in the city it is very easy to walk from place to place. I can see why my sister loved it here. Every part of the city reminds me of her. I remember when I first came here, before her death; I thought this place was dull and dirty. Now, I see her brilliance every where.

Well, I just got off of the phone with Mr. Winters a second ago, and now I have a few more phone calls to make to other subjects. It is hard harassing people I must admit. I don't know how people ever do this for fun.

Sincerely,
Jeffery Vincentia

November 30th 2000

(Seven Years from Present)

Agent 419

"So where are we going tonight?" Karen asked, taking his offered arm.

"To eat." Austin smiled knowing that his answer would not satisfy her curiosity.

"Hmm… could you be more specific?" She smiled; he was too good at this.

"Well, we are going to eat food, and hopefully it will be delicious."

"At least give me a hint! What type of food?" She leaned against him as they walked down the street, her heels clicking against the pavement.

"It is not considered a surprise if I tell you everything."

"Ugh, you know I can't stand surprises!"
"Okay, okay… it is in the vicinity, and you have probably walked past it hundreds of times."

" Austin, we are in the city! I probably walk past every single restaurant ever known to man every day." Karen looked up at him and laughed at the smug look on his face. Elbowing him, she spoke again, "You get too much pleasure out of doing this, you know."

"I know," He looked down at her, the look was still there.

She shook her head in defeat. He was never going to let anything slip," Alright, at least tell me how far away it is, these new shoes are killing me."

"We're here." His answer surprised her and she looked to the left.
"We are eating in a dry cleaners?" A look of puzzlement came over her face.

"No," he chuckled, "we're eating here." He led her to the front of the fanciest restaurant she had ever seen.

"Did you finish your novel?" She asked, wondering what they were celebrating.
"Nope."

"Then I am definitely confused." She leaned in closer, and lowered her voice as if telling him a secret. "You do realize this place doesn't use paper cups and straws right?"

"I wanted to take you somewhere nice for once. I figured you have had enough take-out to last you several lifetimes."

"I think I'm in shock."

"I have that effect on people." He grinned, and led her inside.

"We have some lovely deserts on our menu tonight…" The waiter looked at them expectantly. Austin must have ordered everything on the menu for the both of them, and as promised, it had all been delicious. Karen was in heaven now. A heaven she didn't deserve. This entire time that he had been being so nice to him, she had been lying. Lying and possibly putting his life on the line. It made her feel terrible. After all he had done for her and now… all that she was feeling for him. It was then that she realized she would have to tell him. It didn't matter if her job or her life was on the line, she could not stand lying to him anymore.

"What do you want?" Austin asked looking at her.

"Oh, I don't think I could. We ate so much food, I am stuffed."

"Alright… you don't have to get anything…" He looked up at the waiter, "I'll get the tiramisu," her eyes lit up and he added, "with two forks, it's awfully hard eating desert with only one."

"You are a terribly evil man." Karen spoke when the waiter left. "You know that tiramisu is my absolute favorite desert."

"Yes, it is all part of my insane plot to make you have a good time tonight."

"Thank you," as she spoke her voice softened, "for everything really."

"No problem." His smile was so soft and warm that Karen almost floated away with it. Then she realized that she had to tell him, and now.
" Austin?"

"Yes?"

"Can I ask you something?"

"You just did."

"Ha, ha, I mean something serious."

"Go ahead." When he saw her troubled expression a frown replaced his smile, "Is everything alright?"

"Yes… well no… Austin, do you trust me?"

"Of course I do."

"Well… I have to tell you something… You see, all of this time I have been..." she was cut abruptly off as her purse vibrated. "Oh… hold on a moment." Unzipping it, she took out her phone and placed it to her ear.

"Hello?"

"Sarah? Is that you?" Her heart stopped, it was the agency. What if they told her they had found something out about him? What if they told her today was d-day?

"Yes… this is her. What is it?"

"I am sorry to interrupt your great time, but I just had to tell you about something that happened to me today in my art class!"

"Go ahead."

"Well, we were gathered around the subject and this rude fellow named John came in late to class."

"What happened?" She raised a finger, signaling to Austin that it would only be a moment.

"Well, he was sent to the principal's office. Evidently the principle went through his file and found something that concerned him."

"Is this something that someone else can take care of?" She asked as Austin nodded, but a noticeable sigh escaped him.

"No, in fact, I'll meet you at ten o'clock."

"Alright." Karen hung up.

"You have to go?" Austin looked at her.

"Yes… Austin, I am so sorry…"

"Don't be. I understand, I'll get the desert to go and maybe later we can have it."

"Alright… thank you for being so understanding." She stood and walked over to him. "Really, I will definitely see you after I take care of this problem. Leave your phone plugged in." She leaned over and gave him a quick kiss.

As she walked out Karen gave a sigh of her own. Evidently, her team had been watching the subject when Jeff had appeared once more. Concerned, part of the group followed him home and when the moment was opportune and Jeff was gone, they searched his apartment. Something they found concerned them and it was something she was going to have to take care of. When the other agent had said ten o'clock, she had meant the position from the door where another agent would be waiting. As soon as the door shut behind her, she spotted him. It was agent 410.

"What is it?" She asked him as she approached.

"Nothing good. We found a journal entry that was just recently written. Apparently this guy is from the future and has been looking for his sister's murderer. We don't know if this is true, or if he is a nutcase, but either way the entry was something that concerns Austin. He says that he has finally found the killer and that tonight he is going to find him and do what he should have a done a long time ago." Rob paused. "Karen, Jeff thinks Austin is the one that killed his sister."

"Oh no… but this means…"
"Yes, he is going to try and kill him tonight. We had an agent trailing him but we received orders that you are the one who needs to deal with him."

"Why? They know I was with Austin!"

"Karen… They have noticed how close you have been getting to Austin. It is starting to concern them."

"I…" for only a second there was a crack in her appearance, "I'm not getting close to him! They don't know acting when they see it?" Rob gave her a look of skepticism.
"Whatever, right now Jeff is coming and Austin's life is in danger. I would recommend you listen to them."

Karen nodded, "Alright." Rob put a hand to his ear as someone rattled something through his earpiece.
Rob looked directly at her, his vibrant green eyes piercing through her, "He's coming. You know what you need to do."

November 30th 2000

(Seven Years from Present)

Austin Winters

Austin leaned back in his chair, a sigh escaping him as he watched Karen exit the restaurant. So much for a romantic night out, but what should he have expected? Work always found a convenient way to interfere when they went out together. What her work was though, he couldn't say. Sure, he had asked her before and she had told him. But when she had tried to describe what she did it all sounded like jargon to him. For all he knew, she was a flower saleswoman.

Flipping open his wallet and leafing through a few bills, he realized he was glad that he didn't have to work. Sure, it was probably a bad thing to say but he was happy that his parents had left him their fortune before they dumped him at the orphanage. He assumed they had liked him, but had needed to leave him there. Part of him had always hoped that he would run into them one day. That was the illogical part of him, the one built on hope and love and lies.

He would have waited for the deserts to come if he had not been for what he saw. Karen's purse sat next to her chair where she had left it. Knowing that he could always come back for the cakes and that the purse probably had important things in it, he picked it up and half jogged out the front door.

It took him a while to spot her, but soon he saw her. To his confusion she was standing outside, only a few feet from the restaurant across the street and arguing with a short and chubby man. She looked calm, but the man looked frazzled and was turning beet red. As he made his way towards them their conversation entered his ears.

"What on earth are you talking about lady?" The man exclaimed.
"Please, Mr. Vincentia, you have to stop lying, they won't like that." Karen spoke strictly. The man replied with Austin's exact thoughts.
"Who are 'they'?"

"Mr. Vincentia, or should I call you Jeff, we know what you have been up to."

"Listen lady, I just arrived here on a plane and am here visiting family. You must have the wrong guy. I would love to hear more about these people, who want to talk to me, but I have to go, it's my sister's birthday."

"Mr. Vincentia, it is my understanding that your sister is dead." The man shoved Karen, and she took a few steps back into the alleyway behind her.

"Dead? What happened?" His eyes narrowed. Then he seemed to change his mind and backed off a bit, "Listen, my sister is alive. I don't believe you."

"Jeff, I wouldn't lie about something like this." Karen frowned, she seemed confused.

"Don't go there lady, threatening me is not going to get your foundation anything."

"Jeff, you can cut the act!" Her voice didn't raise but her tone was deadly. Jeff grabbed Karen and slammed her against the wall, his hand going around her neck and holding her a few inches off of the ground.

"Listen whoever you are." Austin missed a few snippets of the conversation as he was jogging around cars in an attempt to get there and rescue Karen. He didn't know what was going on, but he was sure she would have an explanation. Finally, he was across the street and approaching the alley way from the left. Austin stopped dead when he saw what was going on, and found himself thanking all of the goodness in the world that he was out of sight.

Karen, who was still being held around the neck by Jeff Vincentia, had placed her hands on Jeff's arms. That wasn't what scared Austin though. It was the fact that all of Jeff's veins were turning black with poison and the screams of agony that flew from Jeff's fleshy mouth that made him stop. It was Karen's eyes, which had turned an evil black which chilled him to the bone.

Shock, dismay, alarm, surprise, whatever you want to call it, it took a firm hold on Austin and he had to lean against the wall that bordered the alleyway to keep his legs from giving out. It was then that he realized who that man had been. There was no mistaking that it was the same voice he had heard on the phone only a few months ago. Jeff… He couldn't understand why he hadn't realized it when Karen had first said his name. Karen…
Austin wouldn't even allow himself to think about what he had just seen as he rushed away from the alleyway. The only thing that he could not get rid of was the echo of Jeff's tortured screams as they rang out through his mind. It began to rain and by the time he reached his apartment he was soaked to the bone. As he climbed the stairs utter realization dawned on him.
"They won't like that." Karen had said. Karen was an agent.