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Chapter 53: "What did you do, John?"

"When did Andy join the ISA?" Marlena repeated.

"I don't know what you're talking about," John lied.

Marlena gave him that look that she always gave when she right through him.  Damn.  He loved her, but sometimes he hated the way she seemed to know everything.  He shifted nervously from side to side and tried to figure out what to say.  This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.

"John?  I heard him on the phone."

He sighed.  If he played dumb, Marlena would drag Andrew downstairs and browbeat the answer from him.  "Not long after he came back from Afghanistan.  Just under two years ago."

"How could Shane do that?" she asked.  "He knew how Kim felt about the ISA, after what it cost them."

John tried to figure a way out, but could not see one.  He nervously said, "Shane had nothing to do with it.  Fact is, he was pretty pissed off at me when he found out."

"You?"  Marlena said the word very slowly.  Too slowly.  "What did you do, John?"

Sheepishly, John came clean.  "Andy came to me after the war and asked me to help him get into the ISA.  He knew I had contacts, and said that Shane would block him if he used normal channels.  I tried to convince him not to join, but he insisted.  He said he'd go to every ISA agent he knew if I didn't help and, if that didn't work, he said he'd go to MI5.  What was I supposed to do?"

"How could you?"  Marlena's voice rose.  "How could you do that to Kimberly?"

"Hey," John said.  "Keep it down.  Remember that the mama bear's just upstairs."

"I know that and, frankly, I think I should invite her down so she can have your head."  Marlena's tone was still angry, but the volume had decreased.  "You know how protective she is of the children.  How could you go behind her back like that?"

Now John's voice started to rise.  "Andy's a grown man.  He can make his own decisions."

"Right, like the ISA was Andy's decision.  Come on, John.  You can't really believe Shane didn't push him into this."

"I swear, Doc," John said.  "Shane didn't find out until Andy was halfway through training.  By that time, he was top of his training class and had some of the highest test scores they'd ever seen.  They couldn't kick him out." 

That had done nothing to appease Shane.  John still remembered the day that Shane had shown up unannounced through the secret elevator at Basic Black and had yelled at him for more than an hour.  John had sat patiently while Shane completed his rant, knowing his friend was probably more upset at how powerless he was over the situation than he was about Andrew actually joining.  Plus, John also knew that Shane was anticipating the nuclear explosion that would occur if Kim ever found out.

"Trust me," John added.  "Shane was not happy about it." 

"And let me guess.  Shane never really left the ISA.  He had to be ISA if he learned about Andrew."

John sighed, not thrilled that Marlena was putting all the pieces together.  "Yes, but you can't repeat this to anyone, not even Kimmie.  Shane's company is an ISA front and--"

"And whatever has happened to Shane is because of something he was doing for the ISA?"

"I assume so.  I just don't know what that was."  John ran a hand over his jaw.

Marlena narrowed her eyes and continued her interrogation.  "And the ISA won't tell you directly what Shane was up to?"

"No."

Her voice rose again, even louder than before.  "John, are you nuts?  Hasn't the ISA caused enough problems for us?"

"I already told you," he said, trying to contain his exasperation.  They had gone over this several times already.  "I'm doing this for Shane.  Look, you keep talking about Kimmie and Andy.  Well think about them.  If I don't look for Shane, they may never know what happened to him.  If our positions were changed and it was me who was missing, or even Roman, wouldn't you want us to find out what happened so our kids would now?"

Marlena seemed to concede his point, as she lowered her head and looked away.  "Do you have any idea what this will do to Kim if she finds out about Andy?"

"She can't know."  John stepped forward and grabbed Marlena's hands.  "It's Andy's call and he doesn't want her to know.  He doesn't want her to worry."

"She's his mother.  She worries anyway."

"Not about this, Doc."  John squeezed Marlena's hands.  "Look at me."  He waited for her to lift her head.  "You can't tell Kimmie about this, especially now.  I know at some point she'll probably find out or just figure it out for herself, but just let it happen naturally.  It's not going to do anyone any good to find out right now." 

Marlena seemed caught in her thoughts, but she finally nodded.  "You know I don't like keeping secrets from friends."

He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her.  "I know, but this time, Doc, it's really for the best."