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Chapter 3: Time Gone By

Time had come to a standstill.  The days or weeks or months, he had no idea how many, had blurred, and Shane had settled into a not-so-comfortable routine. On what he suspected was a regular schedule of days, the guards would beat him while demanding he admit it was not a misunderstanding and that he was tying to assassinate Vasquez.  Then he would spend the next period of time, alone in the dark cell, recovering from the beating and counting the cracks in the wall next to the mattress, all 87 of them.

By this time, the interrogations were a formality.  The guards knew there was nothing he would tell them, and even they seemed bored with it all.  It was like they were just going through some choreographed motions.  A veritable Torture Waltz, if you will.  It would have been funny if Victor Kiriakis had not been the choreographer.

Shane, however, understood the choreography.  The beatings were designed to keep him too weak to escape.  What he did not understand was why he was still alive.  There had to be some reason they had not carried out the execution, something Victor wanted.

Initially, his fury at Victor had been his mental ward against the greatest threat he faced from this imprisonment.  Training had taught him that extended periods of isolation threatened the prisoner's sanity and he understood why.  Too long in this hell-hole and it would be natural to lose track of what was real and what wasn't.  So, for a time, he worked to keep his mind focused, running through everything from the multiplication tables and Act 3, Scene 5 of Romeo & Juliet to planning out intricate plots to bring down the Kiriakis empire.

But as time passed, his plans for revenge had been joined by other thoughts, more personal ones.  The kids.  Kimberly.  He tried to suppress them; thinking of his family and the past, obsessing about what he was missing right now, might drive him crazy.  Still, the thoughts came.

He tried to picture his kids.  Eve singing in some part of the world.  Jeannie, smart as a whip and just as biting.  Andrew, now a quiet and contemplative man, no longer the boisterous boy of Shane's memories.  As he thought of each, his mind filled with alternating pride and regret.

Was Eve still singing at that café in Paris?  He had seen her during a brief stopover on a trip to Dubai, but they had only had a brief chance to talk between her sets, just long enough for them to make sure the other was okay, provide a quick update on what they were doing, and he to give her a "loan" to help cover the cost of recording her next album.

That's what they were reduced to.

Maybe they never had a chance.  Shane had tried to be a father to Eve when she lived in Salem, but he couldn't make up for the 14 years she missed and, even in the few years she lived with him, he was often away on missions -- or "dead."

As he lay in the darkness, he laughed at the irony that he had repeated so many of those same mistakes with Jeannie.  She had known he was her father, but for all that, a few holidays and weekends here and there were little more than Eve got.  Philip had been more of a dad to Jeannie.  No wonder she barely seemed to tolerate Shane.

She probably had graduated by now.  Lord, he tried to imagine how his missing that event had gone over.  Kim had probably tried to convince Jeannie that if Shane wasn't there, it was for a very good reason.  All the while, Kim was probably cursing his name for yet again disappointing their daughter.  Sorry, Kim, it couldn't be helped.  Just a bit of a hiccup.

Not that it would appease Jeannie.  If -- no, when he escaped from here, there would be hell to pay. And it wasn't just for that.  He had a lifetime lot of making up to do.   He just hoped it was fixable.

It seemed like only Andrew had escaped the damage Shane seemed to inflict on his family.  They had been lucky, having at least had Andrew's youth together in Salem.  He hoped Andrew was finding his way.  One of the benefits of Shane's job had been that he could get updates on Andrew's unit in Helmand province, but that also had been one of its curses.  During the battles in Sangin, Shane had received daily casualty reports; he woke each morning dreading that he might see his son's name on the list.

God, he wished they had talked some more during their last visit.  Andrew had come through unscathed physically, but experiences like that invariably changed a man.

Kim had seen the changes too.  He had lost count of the calls she made, expressing worry about Andrew.  There had been blame in her voice during those calls, the unstated accusation that if Andrew had not idolized his father so much, he would have never followed Shane's path through Eton and Cambridge, and certainly would not have chosen to enter Sandhurst and the British Army.

It was funny how much those conversations, despite the undercurrents of anger and blame in them, made him smile.  He thought of Kimberly a lot.  Lying in the cell, in the darkness, he could not stop reliving their time together.  How long had they wasted coming together and how stupidly had they pushed each other away?  He knew that he bore the onus of the blame for the death of their marriage.  He had never forgiven her relationship with Cal Winters.  He never came right out and said it, but he had felt so betrayed to find her with another man just a few months after he was thought dead.  And he had used her pregnancy with Jeannie as a focus for his anger.

But playing the events through now and thinking of their life, he saw that Cal was just part of a pattern of what made him love his Kimberly so much.  She was a survivor who had fought through so much in her life, but at her lowest times, she reverted to the vulnerable, abused girl who tried to protect herself through meaningless relationships where she could not be hurt.

And why had it taken nearly 20 years for him to figure that out?  Why hadn't he seen it then, before Kim got involved with Alamain or entered what Shane knew was a fairly loveless marriage with Philip?

Before he put the nail in their marital of coffin by sleeping with her sister?  That was the worst offense, wasn't it?  If he had just slept with Kayla out of hurt and anger, he might have been able to convince Kim that it was a mistake, that he also, at his lowest state, could seek solace in the wrong bed.  But he could not lie.  He had loved Kayla in a way, even though it was far different than with Kim.  Kayla was safe, and he needed safe after Kim had ripped out his heart by walking out the door.

So, in one fell stroke, he had lost his only love and his best friend.

No, that wasn't completely true.  Some of their friendship had been restored over the years.  They talked, initially about the kids, but the calls tended to shift to other topics.  Shane's job.  Kim's work.  Was he seeing anyone?  How was Philip?  And, then, when Andrew was deployed, they spoke almost every day, as he gave her updates on Andrew's parachute regiment.  Funny, even now, he could hear her voice on those calls, could remember almost every word she said.

He stared into the darkness and spoke aloud, "Kim, I swear, when I get out of here, I'm going to find you and I'll never let you go again."

"What a noble sentiment."

Shane jerked his head around, toward the door.  He had been so lost in his thoughts that he had not seen the window in the door open.  Peering in through the hole was a man whose face filled Shane with loathing.

Victor Kiriakis.