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"So are you finding anything?" Hope asked from where she was reclining in her seat on the plane.

Not a damn thing so far, John thought.  "No.  Now I remember why I hate the ISA computer system.  Nothing is labeled in any way that makes sense.  All of these files are organized by case numbers and since I don't know the number we're looking for, it's like searching for a needle in a haystack."

Hope stood up and walked over to where John was sitting.  He had his laptop on a table that he was using as a makeshift desk.

"What about the files from the hard drive?" she asked.  "Didn't you say they seemed to have a code?"

John had forgotten about that, but she was right.  He dug into the bag of flash drives and fished through the pile until he found the ones that he has used to copy Shane's hard drive.  Switching the first of those for the ISA files, he looked at the folders, while Hope read the names from over his shoulder.

"'FA - AD'; 'FA - JD'; 'FA - ED.'  Wait. . . ."  Hope leaned closer.  "Family.  That's what 'FA' must be.  And the initials correspond to Andrew, Jeannie and Eve.  And there's one with 'KC.' I guess that must be for Kim."  She looked at John.  "So Shane kept dossiers on his entire family?"

"In his position, it makes some sense," John said.  "I'm sure he had ISA surveillance on his kids and Kimmie.  He had to think they could become targets."  He clicked on the "KC" folder and quickly perused the files inside.  It contained biographical information, known associates, background checks of those associates -- probably without their even knowing it -- and a host of other information about Kim's movements.  It even had details of her financial data.  "Don't ever let Kimmie know about this," John muttered.  "Not if Shane wants to live very long."

"No, I'll leave that to you," Hope said.  "I think I'll go back to staring out the window."

John started to close the file, but then saw something that caught his eye.  "Married: Phillip Collier (see file 38906421)."  That was funny.  That number seemed to correspond to an ISA file number.  John jotted down the number for future reference and closed the file on Kim.  He started to scan the other folders and was surprised to see another set with the "FA" prefix -- "FA - KJ" and "FA - SJ."

"Oh no, you didn't," John said to himself, suspecting who the subjects of those folders would be.  He began perusing the files in those folders.  At first, he expected only to see surveillance materials, like he had seen in the files on Kim, but that was not the case at all.  John saw a couple of letters to UCLA Medical School detailing tuition payments and scholarship arrangements.  There were similar letters to the school that Stephanie had gone to.  "You son-of-a-bitch," John said aloud, though he was not sure if that was said in anger or admiration.  He was so focused on the files that he barely noticed that Hope had returned to hovering over him.

"Is that what I think it is?" she asked. 

John nodded.  "Looks like Shane basically covered Kay's and Stephanie's educations without them even knowing it."  John clicked on another folder.  "Whoa . . ."

"What's that?"

"It looks like details on a charitable foundation -- well, a shell of a charitable foundation," John explained.  "That made heavy contributions to a medical clinic in Africa."

"Like a regular puppet master," Hope said.  She took a deep breath.  "You don't think Shane's--""

Despite how it might look, John shook his head.  "No.  Not a chance.  I'm one of the few people he was open with. . . ."  Granted, that usually was after plenty of alcohol, but Shane did open up a bit.  "He never mentioned Kay.  Kimmie, for sure, and the kids."

"So . . . what . . . he just paid for Kayla's medical career and funded her clinic just for kicks?" Hope asked.

"No," John said, suddenly understanding.  Unlike Hope, he had been in Salem when Kayla left for California.  "You know Shane, Hope.  Why would he do something like that?"

Hope was silent for a few minutes.  "You think he felt responsible for Kayla," she said.

That's exactly it, John thought.  He leaned back and thought for a moment.  Shane had never said it outright, but immediately after Steve had "died," Shane had taken on the role of Kayla's protector.  And, then, after the museum explosion, he had effectively pushed her out of his life and out of Salem. 

Neither he nor Hope spoke for awhile.  Finally, she broke the silence.

"You know . . . after Roman died -- or, well, we thought he'd died. . . ."  She paused, as if she was trying to find the right words.  "I always wondered why Shane was so driven to catch Stefano.  I mean Bo and Kim had lost their brother, but the ISA loses agents all the time.  But for Shane, it was more than just a job.  I always thought he took it personally that Roman had died on his watch, and sometimes I wondered if that was why he got so close to Kim and Bo, like he felt like he needed to watch over them so they didn't get hurt."

"I could see that," John said.

Hope nodded, and took a seat on the opposite side of the table from John.  "I'm remembering a story Julie once told me about Shane.  It was about the museum bombing."

John remembered.  Julie had arranged the party at the museum at Shane's urging and was one of the other people who had been seriously injured in the bombing.  John had been lucky that night.  He spotted the security breach that led to Shane discovering the bomb plot and trying to evacuate the building, but John had left the party with Isabella a few minutes before the bomb exploded.

"Julie told me that the day she left the hospital, she went to see Shane," Hope said.  "She goes in and sees him.  There he is -- paralyzed and stuck in a hospital bed.  And what does Shane do? He apologizes for getting Julie hurt."  Hope shook her head.  "That's guilt for you."

Yeah, John thought.  He looked at the computer screen and then ejected the flash drive.  He felt like he was intruding on something private, something he had no business looking at.  If there were clues to Shane's whereabouts, John doubted they were in those files.  He turned back to the pile of flash drives containing the files from the ISA mainframe. 

He might be looking for a needle in a haystack, but he felt a lot more comfortable looking there.