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Chapter 67: "That's Drew, isn't it?"

The afternoon passed fairly quickly in Malibu as the phone kept ringing and an ever-increasing number of "Get Well" deliveries appeared.  From her position on the couch, Kim gave orders about what to do with the various items.  The flowers to the local hospital, the stuffed animals to the children's ward, and some of the candy and food to the local sheriff and fire stations.  Marlena made a list of each item and the sender, so Kim's interns could send thank you letters.  At 4 p.m., Andrew caught John as he and Marlena entered the courtyard on their way back from one of the final deliveries.

"Hey, Uncle John, I want to show you something," Andrew said.  He ignored Marlena's scowl and motioned for John to join him in the garage.

"Go ahead," Marlena said to John, her voice even.  "You might as well talk shop out here so Kim doesn't overhear."  She headed into the house leaving John to follow Andrew into the garage.

 "Whoa," John said as he walked inside.  "Where'd that come from?"  He was staring at a silver and black motorcycle with red trim.

"Not from one of Mum's fans," Andrew joked.  "It came a few days ago from Donovan Manor."  He grinned.  The motorcycle was one of his prized possessions, a 2006 MV Agusta F4 CC.  Only 99 of them in the world.  

"Looks damn fast," John said.

"Yep, one of the fastest street-legal motorcycles in the world.  Top speed's 196 miles per hour.  Zero to 60 in three seconds."

"Don't let your Uncle Bo near this thing, kid.  He'll want to ride it back to Salem."  John circled the bike, obviously impressed, and studied the display panel.  "Let me guess.  This isn't standard."

"ISA tech upgrade."  Andrew pointed to the display.  "Wifi and GPS capability with bluetooth communications that link to the helmet.  Voice-activated, so I can have a full command center without having to take my hands off the handlebars."  He also pointed to the back wheel.  "Gyroscopic stabilizers.  I can't explain how it works, but the techies seemed bloody proud about it.  Said there's no chance of flipping or skidding, even at top speed."

John nodded then grew serious.  "Okay, so now that we can tell the ladies we were talking about the bike, tell me why you really brought me in here."

Andrew motioned John to join him by to a laptop sitting on a nearby shelf.  "I have to make sure I'm not connected to any outside connections."  He began punching the keyboard.  "Father set these files up so they'd be hidden even from the ISA.  It's got something like eight layers of encryption, each with a different passcode."  After about 10 minutes, he finally got the file to open.  "Here we go."

The screen showed a photograph of a bald, chubby man, with a neatly trimmed grey mustache and beard.  John examined it closely.  "No, it can't be."  John looked even closer, spotting some resemblance between the man and Shane.  "That's Drew, isn't it?"

"Actually, his name is Ralph Prentice-Fairbanks," Andrew said.  "Top makeup artist for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon."

"You're telling me Drew's been hiding in plain sight all these years?"  John was incredulous.

"For at least some of the time."  Andrew looked at the photo.  "I don't know exactly when Father caught up with him.  I only found out a few months before Father disappeared."

John thought for a few minutes.  Given the way Drew looked, there was no way he could be used to impersonate Shane.  Of course, the people who gave John the false lead may not have known that.  "What else can you tell me about Drew?"

"Well, what I just said about the RSC.  Personal life . . . he's been together with Geoffrey for awhile.  Geoffrey runs a local pub that most of the actors and crew go to after shows.  What?"  Andrew stopped, because he saw a very confused expression on John's face.  "What did I say?"

John's eyes narrowed.  "You're telling me Drew is gay?"

"That wasn't obvious to you?" Andrew asked.  He shrugged.  Maybe Drew had been very different when John knew him than he was now, but that was hard for Andrew to believe.  But then, it did seem that yanks had a bigger issue with gays than Brits did.

"How'd your pop take finding that out?"  John still seemed slightly amused.

"Are you asking if Father had issues with Drew being gay?"  Now it was Andrew's turn to be confused.  Finally, he shook his head.  It really must be a yank thing.  "I think he had more issues with Drew working for Stefano DiMera."

The bemused expression left John's face.  "Good point.  So Drew's this Ralph Prentice-Fairchild in--"

"Fairbanks -- as in Douglas Fairbanks," Andrew said.  "Ralph Prentice-Fairbanks in Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Here's the address," he added, writing it down on a slip of paper.  "It's a small cottage next to a pond, but security's state of the art."

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" John muttered.  "Speaking of which, I'd like to use Donovan Manor as my home base while I'm there.  Do you have any problem with that?"

Andrew shook his head.  "I'll tell Hopkins you're coming."

"I'll also need the codes to access Shane's communications room.  I already tested your pop's security at the Nightwing office."

"Oh?"  Andrew was intrigued.  "Which part?  The lights, the LRAD, or the gas?"

"All of the above."

"Ouch."  Andrew remembered Father describing the devices he had installed at Nightwing.  "I can see why you might want to give them a pass a second time.  Have to say, I think the security at Donovan Manor is even worse.  I once challenged a mate from school to try to get in there."

"What happened to him?"

Andrew sighed.  "Let's just say my mate got to enjoy the full panoply of offerings from the National Health Service."

"Well, I'll have to take my chances that Shane didn't change the codes," John said, shaking his head.  "I assume you know them."

Andrew debated silently whether to give John what he wanted.  The communications room at Donovan Manor was top secret.  Only Andrew had gone in there since Father disappeared, and he had found nothing.  But maybe John would find a clue that Andrew had overlooked. 

"All right," he said with tremendous hesitation.  "But if Father ever asks, you tortured it out of me."