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John had taken Marlena to Sami's that morning, but decided not to stay very long. John's relationship with Sami ran hot-and-cold and while he had left for Switzerland on fairly good terms, he wanted to give her some time alone with her mother.  Plus Sami mentioned EJ DiMera coming over to discuss some matters, and John decided that the less contacts he had with DiMeras during this trip, the better.  They always served to distract him, and while he wanted to be here for Marlena, he also was itching to Los Angeles to meet with Andrew and then start hunting in earnest for Shane.  So he and Marlena decided to split up and meet for lunch at the Brady Pub.  John looked forward to some of his mother's -- well, Roman's mother's -- hospitality.  In the meantime, John had someone important to see.

"Brady," John grinned, as his son walked into the Starbucks.  It had been months since Brady had visited Lugano.  They embraced tightly.  Breaking the hold, his son stepped back and studied his father.

"I can't believe it," Brady said.  "You look great.  Fully fit?"

"You betcha, kid.  Ran five miles the other day, and I'm even doing a little work."  John took the opportunity to take a look at his son.  Brady had grown into a strong man.  He might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he had a good heart and that made John proud of his son.  "You're okay taking some time off work?"

"Sure."  Brady looked around.  "If we met at Titan, we'd probably get sucked into Board business."

John thought Brady was a bit more perceptive than his explanation.  Today seemed to be reminding him of most of the Salemites with whom he had difficulties.  His grudge with Victor went back long before Brady's birth and even though things had gotten better after John's marriage to Victor's daughter and Brady's birth, he still could never completely forget that Victor had held him captive and tried to use him as the Pawn.  It wasn't anywhere close to his hatred of Stefano DiMera, but it was reason to limit his contact with Victor.  "I appreciate you coming, kid.  Hey, I was thinking of walking over to University Hospital.  I heard Bo is probably there."

"With Carly who's seeing Melanie," Brady said.  The young man was obviously clued into the local news.  "It's been a crazy few days."

John nodded as they received their coffees and headed for the door.  "Yeah, you could say that."  They exited into the cold February air, and John pulled his coat tight around him.

"So I guess you're here with Marlena?  Grandfather told me about Sydney."

That was interesting.  John raised an eyebrow.  "How did Victor hear about that?"

"He met with Stefano the other day.  I guess he must have mentioned it."

Now John was even more interested.  When Stefano DiMera and Victor Kiriakis did business, nobody in Salem was safe.  "I guess it wasn't a social call."

Brady pled ignorance.  "I stay out of those meetings.  I just do my job."

John did not push, but he hated that his son was so beholden to his grandfather.  Despite having improved their relationship over the years, John had no illusions about Victor.  He was evil clothed in a nice suit.  "Now that I'm better, I could go back to Basic Black.  You could work there."

"It's okay, Dad.  I'm fine at Titan."  Brady's tone was clear, and knowing his son was as stubborn as a mule, John saw no further reason to press the issue.

They chit-chatted about nothing important as they made their way to the hospital.  It was odd for John to return there.  It was the last place he had been in Salem before going to Switzerland.  In fact, it was the place he married Marlena.  They headed inside and spotted their target immediately.

"Man-oh-man."  Bo Brady burst into a grin the size of Texas as he crossed to them.  "John, it's great to see you."  John hesitated, suddenly feeling a little nervous at the sight of Bo.  Before the accident, John had done some things -- for good reasons -- that had gotten Bo in trouble, not to mention arrested on the day of his wedding to Hope.  But judging by the grin, it seemed like time, not to mention lots of telephone calls and emails from Marlena seemed to have diminished any hard feelings.  As if to prove the point, Bo reached out a hand as if to shake, and then pulled John into a bear hug.

"Hey, buddy," John said with a grimace.  "Watch the spine."

"Ah, you're indestructible."  Bo nonetheless let go.  "And a sight for sore eyes right now.  Are you gonna stay in Salem?"

"No can do.  I'm just here for Marlena, just through the service for Sydney."

Bo's face fell.  "Of course.  Sorry."

Brady interrupted.  "I just saw Philip over by Melanie's room.  I need to discuss a little business."  Without waiting for a response, he patted John on the shoulder and headed for one of the patient's rooms.

Bo watched Brady leave.  "I've tried to get him away from Victor."  He sounded apologetic.  "But you know how Kiriakis is."

"Yeah, I know."  John sighed.  "That man has more arms than an octopus and when he sinks his tentacles in, you just don't escape."

"Not always," Bo muttered.  "I'm his son and I've managed." At John's dubious gaze, Bo added, "Sort of."

"Maybe, but you knew what Victor was before you found out he was your father.  Plus, the man's gotten smoother in his old age."

Bo smacked his palm against the nurse's station.  "It kills me that we had Victor dead to rights years ago, and he weaseled his way out of it.  After what Kimber went through at the hands of that man so Shane could get the goods on him. . . ."  Bo let his bitter words trail off.

"I know.  Speaking of Shane."  John looked around.  "I assume you haven't heard anything from him."

Bo took a moment and then burst into that all-knowing expression that John knew so well.  "Roman got to you, didn't he?  He's got you looking for the Gov'nor."

John chuckled at hearing Bo's pet name for Shane.  That was something he had not heard in a very long time.  "Roman just asked me to check things out.  I'm pursuing a couple of leads."

"Well then you know more than me.  Last time I talked to him was when he asked me if I wanted to join that company of his.  What was it?  Blackhawk?  Dark-something?"


"Right, that's it."  Bo shrugged.  "I figured Shane was just being polite.  He knew I'd never leave Salem."

No, Bo Brady was a Salemite through and through.  He might travel, but the pull of home always won over.  And Bo obviously had nothing more to add about Shane, so John changed the subject.  "So how's Carly?"  John always tried to be careful when asking Bo about women.  He could never keep straight who Bo was with at the time.  The safe bet usually was to ask about Hope, since John, like most of the family, believed Bo and Hope should be together, but Marlena had tipped him off this morning that Carly was the current subject of Bo's attention.

"Oh, she's fine, considering she's facing charges for attempted murder."

John chuckled.  "You sure can pick 'em, buddy.  For a cop, your ladies sure spend a lot of time facing charges."

"Har dee har har," Bo muttered, but he got the joke.  That was one thing about their relationship.  Even when discussing serious matters, they could make light of them.  "I think these charges will be dropped.  It was an accident, more or less."

"You mean an accident she didn't shoot Vivian Alamain?" John joked and they both laughed.

"Too bad," Bo said.  "If she'd done that, I might have had to give her a medal."

Brady returned, with his uncle, Philip Kiriakis, close behind.  Uncle was a bit of a misnomer, because the two men were so close in age.  Philip held out his hand.  "John."  Then, in a tone that sounded like the opposite of his words, he added, "Good to see you."

John returned the handshake.  Philip probably had a right to hate him, after John framed him for murder, but the younger man probably figured he had to say something polite given their business connections.  Philip was always a tough read.  He sometimes did Victor's dirty work, but John had always sensed that Philip's involvement in such matters was out of desperation, a son trying to win the approval of a stern father.  "Philip, it's been a long time.  I heard about your wife.  I hope she will be okay."

"Thanks, I think she will.  We're just waiting."  He turned to Bo.  "Can't you get Carly out of here?  I don't want her harassing Mel."  When Bo shook his head, Philip frowned.  "Fine.  Between her and my father--" He stopped abruptly.  "Well, no point bothering you with Kiriakis family issues."

Too bad.  John would have been interested.  He would have loved to get some dirt on the man to bring him down.

"So how long are you here, John?" Philip inquired, sounding caught between a desire to play the role of suave businessman and an even stronger desire to be anywhere but near John.

"Just a few days with Marlena.  Then we're headed out to Los Angeles to see Bo's sister, Kimberly, and her kids."

"Kid," Bo corrected him.  "Jeannie's just there for the weekend.  She'll be back at school by the time you get there.  You'll just get Andy."

Philip frowned.  "Andy and Jeannie?"  Was that just coincidence?  He looked at Bo.  "I didn't know your sister had kids."  All he really knew about Bo's sister was that she was some advice guru.  The name came to him.  Kim Collier.

"Yeah," Bo said.  "They're actually pretty good kids."  He winked at Brady.  "Maybe because they didn't grow up in Salem."

Brady just rolled his eyes, but Philip probed a little further. "So their last name's Collier?"

"No."  John answered for Bo.  "Their dad's Shane Donovan."

Philip's breath caught in his throat.  Donovan.  So Victor's assignment had to do with the Bradys.  As for Shane Donovan, the name sounded familiar to Philip, but he could not place it.  Then something came to him.  "Oh, wait, didn't he found the research lab here?"  He knew there was more to the name, but that was all he could think of at the moment.

"Among other things," John said.  "He's a good friend."  John wondered a little at Philip's changed demeanor; he no longer seemed like he wanted to run away.

"Family," Bo insisted.

Philip nodded, trying to process this information.  Victor's relationship with the Bradys was tumultuous to say the least.  So why did he want information on Kimberly Brady's children?  Philip had no clue, but at lest he had a starting point for the research.

He realized that John was watching him closely, almost suspiciously, and feigned a smile.  "Well, we all know the importance of family, don't we?  Anyway, I'd best be going."  He looked at John.  "You know, Titan business and all."

Making his escape, Philip decided on his plan.  He would put together the files Victor wanted and see where that led.  As he reached the elevator, he glanced at Bo and John Black, suspecting they would be quite intrigued by Victor's sudden interest in these Donovan children.  If only Philip knew exactly what that interest was and how best to use it to his advantage.