Diedra intercepted Devon as soon as he woke from his "sleep". She confirmed that his vitals had stabilized and sent him to the shower before she would say anything else. He rinsed the salty chemical residue from his skin and emerged less than fifteen minutes later. As soon as he opened the bathroom door, the smell of eggs and sausage assaulted him, making his stomach roar. Considering his therapist was vegan as well as an herbal fiend, Devon could guess who was doing the cooking. That caused its own strange ache within him; he made his way toward the kitchen to confirm his suspicion. Diedra caught him once again before he could turn the final corner and ushered him to the living room instead.

"How do you feel?" Diedra asked.

Devon cast a longing glance at the kitchen. "Hungry."

Diedra chuckled. "Of course, but before you see your wife, I need to speak with you."

Devon considered Diedra for a moment. Something in her expression made him uneasy. "You told Chastane everything?"

"I did," Diedra confirmed. "You gave consent, if you remember."

He remembered, although he still wondered if he'd made the right decision considering their circumstances. "Is she alright?"

Diedra smiled. "She's a strong woman, Devon. She took it better than I expected, but then I don't think she's had time to process it all yet."

Nodding, Devon glanced toward the kitchen. Diedra's touch on his arm turned him back.

"I'm going to tell you something, only because I suspect Chase won't." Devon frowned and silently prompted Diedra to continue. Diedra sighed. "During your episode, you were holding onto her. Do you remember that?"

"Vaguely," Devon answered slowly.

Truthfully he remembered Chastane's confession and request for the truth about his condition, but everything in between was still a blur. He did remember grabbing her, sort of, holding her to steady himself as much as just because he could. The adrenaline overload had disoriented him too much to consider the wisdom of it at the time. But now he had a clear head, and suddenly, an empty stomach threatening to eject its lining. Devon forced down a dry heave.

"How bad?" he croaked, clamping his mouth shut as soon as he finished speaking.

"I already checked her over, and she's fine," Diedra said soothingly. "She has a bit of bruising, and she'll be sore for a day or two. Otherwise she's perfectly all right."

Devon dropped onto the sofa; so much for his appetite. Devon hid his face in his hands and muttered a string of curses. He was grateful the IV drugs were still in his bloodstream. At the same time, Devon almost wished he could go back into unconsciousness for another day or three. Chastane had come and told him she loved him regardless of this and his million other failings, and he repaid her forgiveness by physically assaulting her.

Diedra shook her head, once again giving the impression she'd discovered his thoughts via telepathy. "Devon…"

"Don't." Devon glared at Diedra over his fingertips. It replayed like a children's taunt in his head – You're not a threat to anyone…you're not putting Chastane in danger… Devon choked down another bit of bile that crept up his throat. "Just…don't," he repeated softly between his fingers.

"I'm sorry, Devon," Diedra said, and to her credit, she sounded genuinely remorseful. "I considered honoring Chase's request to not inform you, but I'd rather you find out this way."

Devon snorted. Yeah, he was grateful for that at least. If he'd discovered what he'd done to his wife later, or worse, if he suffered a repeat incident, he wouldn't need Eva to kill him. He'd probably have just taken care of it himself, and good riddance. He could hear his mother's curses from years earlier, bellowing that he should have been the one that died instead of Robert. And now he'd actually injured his own wife, just like Robert had. Perhaps his mother had been right all along; after all, how was he any better after this?

Diedra sighed above his head. "Devon, at some point in this process, you will have to learn to forgive yourself when you make a mistake."

Devon dropped his hands and narrowed his eyes at his doctor. "A mistake…" Devon snorted. "No, I've made plenty of mistakes. What you're telling me I did to her…" Devon shook his head slowly while mentally coaxing his vocal chords to function. "That's not a mistake."

"You would never hurt Chastane intentionally," Diedra cooed. "She knows that better than anyone. She certainly doesn't blame you."

Devon continued shaking his head. No matter how qualified Diedra may be, his doctor would never understand. The older woman couldn't imagine what it meant to him, to love Chastane through everything, to have her return that once again, and then realize that it didn't even matter. As he considered the previous weekend, all those bouts of anxiety, each time he might have done something worse to her… He couldn't be alone with Chastane again. And he couldn't be trusted to touch her. Not until his overactive adrenal and pituitary issues could be corrected, and as he'd discovered a few years earlier, that wasn't medically possible yet.

Devon's head jerked up as a plate suddenly appeared on the end table beside him. He could only make himself look as far as his wife's waist before he looked away.

Chastane swore under her breath, and he saw her feet turn slightly. "God, do I buy you another house to keep you quiet?"

Devon glanced over to Diedra in time to see the woman shrug, a bemused expression on her face. "Surely you understand the damage caused by trying to keep secrets like that better than most, Chase. He needed to know."

He still couldn't gather the courage to look at Chastane's face. He feared she would look fearful – a fair reaction - or worse, she would appear sympathetic. Devon couldn't stomach either at the moment.

Chastane remained silent for several moments. Then she muttered, "I remember believing that, thinking every secret kept was inherently bad. But as I'm sure you already know, in the Dunn family, we all have them. It's a prerequisite for membership. We just…categorize them by intent, I guess, and handle them accordingly. Or mishandle them, as the case may be."

It had been reflexive more than conscious, and it certainly wasn't done willingly. Still Chastane's words worked like a magnet, drawing his eyes upward to her like a tractor beam. Once Chastane had secured his gaze with her own, Devon searched her face and realized there was no fear evident. Neither was there any obvious pity. It appeared more like she was conducting a visual assessment, using those amber orbs to gather the information she needed in order to discern what he wouldn't say out loud.

"Someday," Chastane began quietly as she reached forward and brushed her finger through his hair, "you'll figure out that I do actually know who I'm married to."

Devon tried to convince himself that the confidence she portrayed at that moment was genuine. He failed, so he looked back down at his lap instead. She chuckled under her breath.

"Anyway, you look like you're still with it," Chastane said matter-of-factly, "so we'll talk about the other stuff later. Besides, I suspect you haven't told Majorie or Rose the worst of the medical stuff."

Devon jerked. Of course he hadn't. He could only imagine his sister's reaction when Majorie found out he was, by all accounts, a jumble of misfiring neuropathways, hyperactive glands and a walking heart attack. And Rose would likely not take the news well either. He knew Rose saw him as something a little greater than human as a businessman, just like he understood that belief wasn't just his ego or imagination. Rose had followed him down a dangerous path once, against his father. And no one had dared cross his father back then. Anyone who may have tried was ruined long before Gregory the Third took any damage. Well, no one except Devon himself. Yet Rose had chosen her side, made the leap with him, and stayed through it all even now. It was as if admitting his physical ailments was equal to letting her down, like he'd used her loyalty but couldn't repay it.

"So let's talk about DPC instead," Chastane offered.

Devon blinked. He'd nearly forgotten about Chastane's meeting with Naomi. At the moment, he actually felt grateful for another topic to discuss, even if Chastane was just trying to distract him. "All right. What did my dear sister-in-law say?"

"Well," Chastane began as she crossed the room and pulled her bag from the chair, "she's definitely not our enemy."

When Chastane returned, she grabbed the plate, piled high with an egg and cheese scramble and sausage links along the edges. She balanced it on Devon's lap, and he realized not only was it too much for just him, but there were two forks. He felt like time had reversed for a moment, and they were back in their living room going over one of his upcoming lectures. It continued as his wife plopped down on the floor next to his legs, twisting around – he winced almost in tandem with her - leaning against the seat of the couch. Chastane grabbed one of the forks and took a bite.

His appetite hadn't returned, but Devon mirrored her actions anyway, if for no other reason than it just felt like what he was supposed to do at the moment. He noticed Chase extracted a plain manila folder from her purse while he took his first bite.

"Naomi wanted us to have this."

Devon swallowed and went for another bite. "And that is?"

Chastane frowned as if considering her answer. "Remember how I asked you what you wanted in a CEO? Whether that person needed to specialize in the money or the medicine?" Devon nodded. "Well," she continued, "that's how they made the original scheme work. It was done in two parts. One to suggest which clinical trials to hedge bets on –"

"And one to bastardize my equations so they could project the investment return," Devon finished. "That makes sense, although I'd love to know who my brother hired to do it."

Devon watched Chastane catch her lip between her teeth as she fingered the folder. "It was Gregory," she said softly.

Devon had been halfway through another bite. "No offense, but Greg can barely add single digits together on his own."

Chastane was already shaking her head. "Not your brother, Devon. Your father. I think he's the one who was manipulating your work."

Devon stared at Chastane for a minute, food forgotten. He tried to collect himself as his gut twisted once again. "Why…I mean, what…" For some reason, he couldn't put words together properly at that moment.

Chastane apparently understood what he was trying to ask. "One of the things Naomi gave me was the subcontractor and consultant expense records for the past five years. You resigned in 2008. According to these, DPC began paying your father a monthly consulting fee a year later, and he's been on the payroll ever since."

Devon's mind reeled. As much as he wished it wasn't true, what Chastane said made too much sense to be wrong. His father knew the company inside and out and had both the economic and mathematical acumen to modify Devon's work to turn otherwise innocuous research into a cyclic venture capital scheme. Still, Devon couldn't believe his oldest brother had been so desperate – or stupid – that he brought their father back into the company fold just because Devon had left. Was Greg that dependent on having a prop to hold him in power? Or had things turned so bad, so quickly during the country's economic slump that Greg believed he needed help to keep things afloat?

It didn't make much sense from that standpoint; pharmaceuticals had a unique niche that remained somewhat unscathed while other industries – housing, manufacturing, auto – collapsed. Sure, they'd suffered the same lawsuit issues as many other drug companies, and Devon reminded himself that the stockholders hadn't held a great amount of confidence in Greg by himself. Still Devon had always hoped his brother was at least decent in management, even if he wasn't a mathematician. If Greg had allowed their father to return in any capacity, however, Devon's confidence had obviously been misplaced.

Devon returned to his breakfast. Though disturbing, Devon felt sure he could deal with his father easily enough. After all, once they completed the regime change, Devon would be well within his right to fire a "consultant". All in all, if that was the worst news Chastane brought him, they would be in pretty good shape. He'd have to remember to send his dear old father a fuck you card in a couple of weeks in the place of the check he'd been getting from Devon's company.

Devon noticed that Chastane had stopped eating and was watching him expectantly. She must have thought he'd take the news worse than he did. "Well I hope they paid him well," Devon said coolly. "Maybe this time, once we have things corrected properly, I can get the bastard locked up for a few more years." Devon watched his wife for a moment as she chewed on her lip. He scowled; Chastane hardly looked as relieved as he would have liked. "What? Did my father do something else I need to know about?"

"It's the other part," Chastane replied quietly.

"The medicine," Devon said, shrugging.

Chastane fidgeted against his leg. "In 2009, it looks like DPC created a subsidiary research lab. Shortly after that, the lab was purchased from DPC and made to look like its own company. That lab is paid a flat consulting fee, so the actual R&D expenses don't get recorded against DPC's budget anymore."

Devon choked even though he had nothing in his mouth. That had to have been his father's idea as well. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

"I wish I was."

Devon moved the plate from his lap back to the table and leaned back. He closed his eyes and envisioned the financials he'd seen. There hadn't been enough specifics, but it would fit into the false revenue pattern. It would be brilliant if it wasn't even more fraud.

"It's not sustainable, though," Devon thought out loud. He reopened his eyes and let them go out of focus as he looked at the ceiling. "That lab would have a decade, tops, and then even the fake revenues couldn't cover the real bills. Who the hell did Father manage to rope into operating a biotech company for him that's inevitably going to be forced to file for bankruptcy?"


Devon was glad he'd moved the plate, because he jerked hard enough that Chastane might have been wearing their eggs otherwise. As it was she'd scooted away enough that she wasn't against his calf any longer.

His father's involvement should have affected him more, as Gregory the Third had, for most of Devon's life, been a powerful and dominating force in his family. Perhaps it was all the years he spent in boarding school rather than at home, or maybe Devon couldn't be intimidated by his father anymore because he'd relegated the once indomitable Gregory Dunn the Third to the shadows once already. Maybe it was his psychological defects providing some benefit for a change.

But to discover that Brian, the one he'd spent most of his younger years believing was his best friend, the one he'd confided in when he hadn't trusted anyone else, had once again found a way to fuck him over on his father's behalf…

Devon swore loudly and covered his face. He could literally feel the medicine still in his bloodstream trying to combat the adrenal effect instigated by the news. Devon noted his breathing and heart rate for several seconds; the drugs were still doing their job well enough.

"Fine," Devon growled, appetite gone once again. "Just one more person I can fire and toss into jail before we're finished."

Chastane inhaled audibly. "I don't think it's gonna be that simple. I've got a copy of the contract with the new lab, and it's pretty airtight." She offered a consoling glance as Devon glared out of the corner of his eye and shuffled a little. "Since we can't exactly get a legal opinion on it just yet, I thought I might go talk to Brian and see what's going on."

Devon felt his entire body react, even before he said, "No."

"Actually," Diedra interrupted, making him jump again, "that's not a bad idea, Devon."

Devon tried not to feel betrayed. He failed and let Diedra know he didn't appreciate her input with a cutting glare. "Absolutely not. I will not allow my wife to be alone with…" Devon swallowed back the lump growing in his throat, and yet he still couldn't say Brian's name out loud. "Not for any reason. Certainly not because of this."

Diedra appeared undeterred. "You can appreciate how much a person from the past can affect a situation. Perhaps it's time to face that particular demon from yours."

Devon looked at Chastane again. She displayed equal parts conviction and annoyance. He had to make her understand that he wasn't just trying to protect her for no reason. She needed to see it through his eyes, even though Devon knew logically it would never be the same kind of horror for her that it had been nightly for him. Chastane had suffered it, yes, but she didn't see it. She didn't have to witness the aftermath of that attack, her body lifeless on the floor of his family's library, bruised and bleeding and so pale she might have already been dead

Suddenly Devon knew in his gut that was why the mention of Brian felt so poisonous to his psyche, even after so many years had passed. He might have been able to forgive Brian for betraying him – he'd still considered it a standard operation back then. But Brian had done more than just betray or lie to or even spy on him. Brian had been an accessory to the attempted murder of Devon's wife. Still being his most trusted friend, Brian had known better than most just how much Chastane had meant to him. That Brian had stood by and allowed that to happen made it unforgivable in Devon's mind.

Still Devon struggled to find the words he needed to explain it to Chastane. Finally he said, "The last time you were near…him, Robert almost killed you. And he stood and watched."

Chastane tilted her head slightly, her brow furrowed. "I can't help but wonder though, why? I mean, when you first introduced me to Brian, I got the feeling he genuinely cared about you, Devon. It never seemed like something he was doing because he had to. It didn't even seem like he was hanging out with you just because it was you, and you were so rich and famous and all."

"Well, obviously he was a better actor than we gave him credit for."

Chastane shook her head. "Somehow I don't see it. And now this, which makes me wonder if it was an arrangement between your dad and his, and he doesn't have any choice for some reason. Like your dad had something he was using against his family." She shrugged. "That does seem to be how your dad operated most of the time. Just look at you and me for instance."

Devon considered it for a moment, then dismissed that line of thought. The comparison was marginal at best, and it didn't matter anyway. "I don't want you anywhere near him."

Chastane exhaled. "Look, Dr. Mancelli said Brian's one of your demons. Well, the last time Brian saw me, he thought I was dead, so maybe I'm like that for him. Maybe it's time he faced a ghost."

Even with Devon's dislike of Brian's intrusion into his life again, he had to admit that particular notion intrigued him. Maybe Brian had his own nightmares about that night. And if Brian hadn't, maybe he was overdue.

"At least think about it. Please?" Chastane pleaded, giving his knee a nudge.

Devon sighed. It would be impossible not to think about it. He looked down at Chastane again, saw the conviction and fearlessness in her tiger eyes. "All right."

Chastane grinned. "That's all I needed to hear." Devon raised an eyebrow at her, and Chastane smiled even wider in response. "Once you agree to consider it, you always end up giving in."

Devon snorted. "Is that so?"

"Well, maybe not to most people," Chastane admitted nonplussed. She rested her chin on his thigh and tilted her head so that she was glancing up through her eyelashes. "But I'm not most people."

Devon blinked several times and ran through his memories. After a minute he groaned. Chastane, of course, was absolutely right. Anything she asked, he eventually agreed.

Perhaps she deserved a lot more credit than he'd given her all these years, despite the deceptions in the beginning, for knowing who she was really married to after all.