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Prologue: Part 3: A Surprise Meeting

"Victor," Shane sputtered as Victor closed the distance between them.

"Shane, I heard that you were enjoying El Presidente's hospitality," Victor said, his voice oozing with mock pleasantry.  Obviously, time had not diminished the man's dislike for Shane.

"Yes," Shane said, holding out his hand and quickly regaining that mask of calm arrogance he had perfected.  He was rarely surprised, and this was not the time or placer to lose composure or do anything that could blow his cover.  "Why it's delightful to see you again after all this time.  And I'm not really here as a guest, just on a working holiday."

Victor raised an eyebrow.  "Of course.  I had heard you left the ISA for the private sector.  Color me quite surprised.  I seem to remember a young man who said 'there are things that could not be bought.'"

Shane maintained a placid, bemused expression.  Inwardly, he wanted to smack that grin off Victor's face.

"But then, we all grow up, don't we?" Victor said.  "Ideals don't pay the rent or put food on the table."

Shane said nothing.

"Ah, Shane, after all this time, I do hope that there are no hard feelings between us."

"No, of course not," Shane said quickly, wondering if it might have been too quickly.  "Time heals everything, or so the saying goes."

"Very true.  Then come and share a drink with me.  I'm sure you might like to hear some news from Salem."

There was no convenient way to avoid it, so Shane followed Victor to the bar.  As they walked, he observed the older man.  Other than in some ISA surveillance photos, this was the closest he had come to the man in well over a decade, and it was hard not to notice time's impact on the man -- a bit more weight around the mid-section, plenty of sagging skin around the neck and jaw, and a stiffness to his gait.  Yet despite the ravages of age, Victor still had the carriage of a man who demanded respect and obedience.   They reached the bar where Victor ordered two glasses of scotch.  He turned, handed one to Shane, and raised his own. 

"To letting bygones be bygones, and moving forward."

Shane raised his glass and then took a small sip of the liquor.  Victor was a snake and, if he were here, it was for a good reason.  Trying to probe carefully, Shane asked, "I'm sorry if I seemed surprised before.  As part of our security analysis, I reviewed the guest list, and did not see your name."

"Well, I have a long history with El Presidente," Victor explained.  "When I was a young ISA agent, much like you once were. . . ."  He smiled slightly and looked a little wistful. "Back then, I worked with then-Captain Vasquez, and it led to our long friendship.  He was quite a good chess player, actually, though not nearly up to your level."

"So you decided to come to visit now?"

"From time to time, Juan asks my advice on certain matters.  He may understand military tactics, but, unfortunately, lacks certain organization skills."  Victor paused.  "I however can provide that experience, having run so many businesses."

"Legal and otherwise," Shane said with a knowing look.

Victor chuckled again.  "That sounds like the ISA speaking."

"Sorry, old habits do die hard."

"Apology accepted," Victor said, taking a sip of his scotch.

They walked together toward a gap in the crowd near a window.  Shane used the opportunity to think.  He doubted Victor was here to assist Vasquez.  He was here to make contacts.  Was he part of the drugs for arms deal?  Shane had to admit that the thought made him a little giddy.  If he could bring the man down, he would be fulfilling a goal that had spanned most of his career.

As they walked, a bitter memory returned to him.  Nickerson destroying the book that mapped out Victor's operation.  The book Shane had nearly died to recover. 

The book he would have died trying to recover if Kimberly hadn't saved him.

And her sacrifice had turned out to be for nothing, because Shane's crooked superior burned the book before they could use it at trial.  If he could just go back in time, just stop that one act, they could have stopped Victor forever.  How would their lives have been different?  How many other lives would have been better off if Victor Kiriakis had spent the past 25 years in jail?

Victor interrupted Shane's thoughts.  "How's Andrew?  The last time I saw Caroline, she mentioned something about him traveling around Europe."

The last thing Shane wanted to do with Victor Kiriakis was discuss Andrew.  "Andrew's fine."

"That's good to hear.  I know Caroline was very concerned when he was in Afghanistan."

Shane nodded.  "Yes, I'm sure she was."

Victor shook his head.  "War is a terrible thing.  Seeing what happened to my son in the war. . . ."

Shane knew what had happened to Victor's son, Philip, and knew he joined the U.S. Marines after finding out that Victor had kept secret that Philip's daughter was not his.  Shane wanted to say that Victor's son and Andrew were nothing alike, that Andrew went to Sandhurst and fought in Afghanistan because he believed in serving a higher cause, not because he was running away from his father's lies.  Instead, Shane said nothing.  He really wanted to get away.

But Victor was undeterred by the silence.  "And tell me about Jeannie.  It sounds like she is doing very well.  Caroline told me she got into a couple of law schools."

That was another subject Shane wanted to avoid.  The last time he had seen his daughter, over the holidays, they had argued.  He had made the mistake of suggesting she apply to a couple of fallback schools since her dream school, Yale, was such a "crapshoot."  She took offense and spent the next two days of her visit giving him a cold shoulder.  She could hold a grudge almost as well as any of the older Bradys. 

"Caroline does love to brag about her 'brilliant granddaughter,'" Victor said, adding, "But then getting into Columbia is quite an achievement."

"Yes, well, she has good cause," Shane said, his stomach churning at hearing news about his family from a man he hated as much as Victor Kiriakis.  Yet the comment about Jeannie gave Shane what he thought would be a fair excuse to escape this conversation.  "Actually, Victor, I just realized that I'm supposed to call Jeannie tonight.  In fact . . . ."  He looked at his watch, which read 11 p.m.  "It's just about 6 p.m. in Palo Alto, so I might be able to catch her before she heads out for the evening.  If you'll excuse me."

Victor smiled.  "Of course.  Who am I to come between a father and his child?"

Shane bit back a retort and instead replied with a mild, "Thank you, Victor."  He headed straight for the door and made a beeline for his room.  He needed to review the blueprints of the second floor, study the guard postings, and map out the route that the guards would take when they changed shifts.

If he had been a little less preoccupied, he might have seen Victor finish his scotch, study the glass, and, then, break into a sly grin.

"Don't you know, Donovan, it's not possible to come between a father and his child if there's no father to come between?"