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Chapter 6: A Call to Switzerland

Roman slammed his phone against his desk in frustration.  Not one of his sources had panned out.  Nobody had a clue where Shane Donovan had gone.  Nightwing was still operating, apparently quite successfully, but its CEO had vanished into thin air.  Its party line was that he was "on assignment," and everyone in the ISA backed that up.

"And to think I put my life on the line for these bozos," he said aloud.  When the ISA had kidnapped Marlena to try to make John Black find treasury bonds, the agency had been corrupt but competent.  To just lose an agent completely was pure incompetence.

Oh, who was he kidding?  Somebody knew.  That somebody was just keeping the information from anyone and everyone.  It was possible that Shane had died on a mission, but Roman couldn't imagine why that would have remained secret.  He had to believe the man was alive.  He had to believe it for Kimberly and Andrew and Jeannie.

It dawned on him that there was one more person he might try.  As always, he was reluctant to involve the man, but he had no other choice.  Setting personal animosity aside, Roman picked up the phone once again and dialed Lugano.

"Hello," answered a woman's voice and Roman had to smile a little at the effect it still had on him.

"Marlena, it's Roman."

"Roman!  It's so good to hear from you.  How are you?  How is everyone?"

He spend the next few minutes filling her in on the minutiae of Salem life.  He didn't mention his sister's cancer; Kim had asked them to keep it secret and he respected her wishes.  She told him that John's therapy was nearly complete.  He was able to swim without problem and was now back to running.  He had run a solid mile without any pain just that morning.

"That's great," Roman said.  "I hate to do this, but this isn't really a social call."

"I guessed.  It's the middle of the day in Salem, and you wouldn't take time away from your Deputy Police Commissioner duties for a social call."

There it was again.  She had emphasized the "deputy" in his title.  Not as deliberately as Bo, but the touch of sarcasm was there.  "You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"

"Nope," Marlena answered, and he could almost hear her grinning.  "So how is it taking orders from your little brother?"

"Enough," Roman growled.  "Would you get John on the phone?"

Marlena turned to look at a very amused John Black.  He had been listening to her end of the conversation and had to laugh when she put the screws to her ex-husband.

"It's Roman," she said, holding the phone for him.

He stepped forward and took the receiver.  "I never would have guessed."  He put the phone to his ear.  "John here."

Roman bit down on the disdain he felt for the other man.  It was silly to hold a grudge after all these years, but it was there nonetheless.  He knew he had to set it aside, though.  This was for Shane, after all.  "John, I wouldn't call you unless absolutely necessary."  He figured the other man would know that was true.  "It's about Shane Donovan.  He's disappeared."

There was a long pause on the other end.  "I know."

"What do you mean you know?  How long have you known?"  Roman felt his anger rising.  John had to know what Shane's disappearance was doing to Kimberly and their kids.

"Look, I don't have any information.  All I know is that Shane disappeared.  We talked all the time before I came here and he came to see me right before I started my treatment.  That was just over a year ago."

Roman was undeterred.  "Did he say anything about what he was up to?"

Roman spoke as if Shane Donovan readily gave away all his secrets.  Even with John, his closest friend, Shane kept some things close to the vest.  "No, he didn't say what he was doing.  And before you ask, I can't even guess.  Nightwing's all over the place.  He could've gone anywhere."

"Damn!" Roman barked again.

John started to respond, but then stopped.  There was something Roman was not saying, and Shane was only tangentially related to it.  He could not be calling about Salem PD business; if Roman needed ISA resources, he had plenty of other contacts in the organization.  He had no need to go straight to the Chief, well, actually, someone Roman believed was just a former ISA agent.  Then the answer hit him.  This was personal.  "It's Kim, isn't it?  Or one of the kids?"

Roman sighed, and looked at the ceiling.  That man was too damn perceptive and there was no point in lying.  Forgive me, he mouthed.  "Yeah, it's Kimmie.  She's been diagnosed with leukemia.  The prognosis isn't too good."

John lowered the phone momentarily.  Kim was not be his biological sister, but he considered her his little sister all the same.  It wasn't just from his memories of Roman's life, but from the time he spent with the Bradys when John believed he was Roman.  He took a few deep breaths and looked at Marlena who had her hand to her mouth, obviously aware that the John had just heard bad news.  "Kimmie. . . ." he said.  "It's cancer." 

Marlena let out a short, sharp cry, then grabbed the phone from his hand, raised it to her ear, and sharply lectured her ex.  "You just spent five minutes telling me about what's going on, and you didn't tell me Kim's sick?  Didn't you think that was important?  Or do you think I'm more invested in Abe's problems with the City Council?"

"Doc," Roman apologized.  "Kimmie asked me not to say anything.  She hasn't even told my mom or the kids yet.  You know her--"

"I do know her," Marlena interrupted.  "And I know she's going to be stubborn and hard-headed and act like she doesn't need anything from anyone."  She looked at John, who nodded approvingly.  "Well, not this time.  This time, she's getting a surprise visit from me, whether she likes it or not."

Roman laughed.  "You won't hear any objections from me.  But why don't you wait until next week.  The kids are flying in on Friday and will be with her over the weekend when she tells them.  It sounds like Andy will be staying at least for a couple of weeks."

Marlena nodded.  "That makes sense.  Let Kimberly spend some time with Andy and Jeannie.  I'll see if I can get there on Monday."  She noticed John frown slightly, and asked him, "Is that okay?"

"Of course, Doc."  His look told her that he was doing some planning of his own.

"John?"

He reached out a hand for the phone.  "Let me have that."  When she did, John told Roman, "I'll do some more checking.  If Shane left any trail, don't worry, I'll find it."