Roy didn’t take them back to the agency’s location. He took them to a hotel. He didn’t forget to make a stop to find someone to help with giving Tammy a checkup. When he dropped them off at the hotel, he had made sure it was indeed safe. The others pilled out of the van after Roy parked but still stood by it after they exited.

“Your luggage is already retrieved from the harbor and are brought back,” Roy rattled off. “Your cars are in the garage out back.” He tossed the keys in Rick’s directions as he said that. “Just give them these cards.” This time, he didn’t toss the cards but handed them to Rick. “Room keys.”

“Only three rooms,” Angela mumbled.

“You’re on hideout still, hello,” Roy said, not losing a beat. “Remember we can’t let the others know. Even if we didn’t think of setting up a trap for the mole earlier, it’s a good idea to stay hidden.”

Angela nodded, admitting that Roy had a point. “Oh.”

Roy looked at Rick then. “You know the divide up. Guys and girls. Mr. and Mrs. Huo will have a room to themselves. ” His fierce expression had softened now and he looked at Wallace. “You gotta love me for that arrangement, right?” Then he cleared his throat. “Okay, I’m blocking the zone. Wouldn’t want to draw more attention, right? Good luck, guys.”

They stepped away from the van and headed for the hotel then.

“You gotta love that guy,” Rick said, handing Wallace a key card and a receipt slip also. He turned toward Nic and handed the same items to Nic as well. Then he gave one to Amber.

“I’m going to check into another room,” Yvonne announced as they were almost near the front desk.

“What?” Rick asked, turning to look at her. “Are you crazy?”

“Come on, we’re too crowded. And I’m going to share it with Amber.”

“You heard Roy. He especially set it up that way.”

“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Rick couldn’t say anything else because they were at the front desk already. Amber separated herself from the group already and had pretended not to know them. Rick signaled for Wallace to stay behind on purpose. It was a good idea not to draw any more attention at this point. They ended up going upstairs first because they already have the key cards.

“Now that two are out, I guess the rest of us guys are sharing a room,” Rick said. “Then the girls could each have a room of their own.”

Seeing Rick’s suddenly uptight mood, Wallace didn’t want to remind Rick that Roy had said he and Tammy were supposed to be sharing a room. Yet somehow, Wallace didn’t mind if he needed to correct Rick or not either. Though Tammy was his wife, after all, it was still strange getting used to having her around. Possibly because they’d been away from one another for too long. They needed time to adjust. And there were still so many conflicts between the two of them that it wasn’t a good idea to just forget about it now.

“Okay, here it is, Miss Chen,” Rick said, pointing toward one of the rooms. “Your room.” He turned to Wallace then. “Not sure where the other two are, but Yvonne’ll call me later for updates. So might as well go rest.”

Tammy was already opening the room Rick pointed at, using the key card he just handed her. It was the key card Amber handed back to him. While Tammy was opening her room, Nic had handed Angela the key card he was holding, because of the change of plan.

“Before we all go rest, I want to ask you one question,” Wallace said, looking at Tammy.

Rick seemed to catch on as to what was going on. He didn’t want to play peacemaker but he knew they couldn’t risk it. “It’s not really the time or place, you know.”

“Inside then,” Wallace said.

Rick, from past experiences, knew Wallace wouldn’t just drop it so he gestured for the others to follow Tammy into her room. Then his phone beeped. He picked it up and it was indeed Yvonne calling him. He told her to meet them up there.

“Might as well have everyone here to witness the scene, right?” Rick said when Wallace looked at him.

“Fine,” Wallace said, his attitude cranking up all of a sudden. Was all his bottled up feelings resurfacing again after they were no longer in apparent danger?

When Yvonne and Amber arrived, they could see the grim expressions on everyone’s faces.

“What now?” Yvonne asked, looking at Rick.

“Mr. Huo wants to clarify some things with her,” Rick said, his mockery in place.

Rick had pointed at Tammy so Yvonne was able to understand who he meant.

As for Tammy, she was finally able to detect the stares from the others standing nearby. Angela and Nic were standing by her far left. Amber, Yvonne, and Rick were much closer to her. Wallace was looking straight at her so she couldn’t ignore him.

“Wallace, why don’t we wait until Tammy has some time to rest?” Angela spoke up for everyone present.

Wallace turned to face the others who had all directed their stares on him at this point. From their expressions, he was aware they were united on this matter. Yet he wasn’t threatened by their presence or being so badly outnumbered. “This won’t take long.”

“But…”

“Just let him ask,” Tammy interrupted their sparring. “It’ll be over quick.”

Tammy still had on her peaceful smile despite the intensity building from within. Angela had on her worried expression along with everyone, but she nodded. They all waited for Wallace to ask that one single question–so they could all go rest. Without anymore obstacle lying ahead, Wallace turned to face Tammy again.

“How could you have kept the whole thing from me?” Wallace asked. “When you’re so close by.”

Wallace’s angry expression had made its appearance by then. Along with some hurt seen in his eyes. The others were more than prepared to spring forward to stop him at this point. It didn’t matter if they could succeed or not. They understood that he was restraining himself all along while Tammy was still in danger. But now, it was like he had kept it tight long enough.

“Wallace…” Tammy said, her placidity abandoned. She had looked past his shoulder and gave Yvonne a look.

That wasn’t lost on Wallace. Though he had his back to them, it was still so obvious that Tammy was looking toward Yvonne and Rick for help–and not Angela or the other two. And that little gesture had angered Wallace even more. He took a step back so he was able to include Yvonne and Rick into his circle as well, having his back to the other three.

“You don’t have to look at them for help,” Wallace said, gesturing his hands at Yvonne and Rick yet still having his eyes on Tammy. “They’re no threat to you now because I’m here.”

“What are you talking about?” Rick asked, wrinkling his face. “We would never threaten Tammy. If we wanted to hurt her, we wouldn’t go with you to save her.”

Wallace scoffed and turned to face Rick. “Is that so? Or were you scared that she would end up giving in and tell all your secrets to those people?”

Rick looked offended more than ever. “If you remember our team, you would know we were closer than that.”

“And my team let me get brainwashed like that?”

Wallace’s voice had risen to the point of creating fear, causing Amber to take a step back–and Nic had placed a hand around her shoulders. Amber didn’t seem to be so brave anymore–like the others had witnessed recently. Yet Yvonne and Rick who were closer didn’t budge at all. It was like they were used to him getting this mad. And it was like Wallace had abandoned all sort of reasoning completely since him asking those questions and pointing fingers at Yvonne and Rick proved that he didn’t care for what Roy had disclosed earlier. Or was it because he couldn’t really trust Roy’s words or anyone having to do with that strange agency anyhow?

Rick had now pointed his thumb toward himself before speaking up again. “I want to harm you? Did you think I have control over what happened in the past more than you? Even your wife didn’t have control over what happened, how could I? I wasn’t even notified when they found you that time and when I rushed into the room, the damage was done! What was I supposed to do?”

Wallace turned to Yvonne at that time. “Then where was she?”

Rick turned his head to stare at the wall behind Tammy at that time. It was like he was restraining himself. Or he was trying to find the correct words to explain to a child before returning his eyes to Wallace. “What did I tell you? No one could do anything.”

Wallace scoffed again. “A likely story.” He turned back to Tammy at that time. “If he said you had no choice, then why weren’t you restrained when you were in the same room as me?”

“What…?” Rick jumped in, his expression confused. He turned to look at Yvonne for an answer instead of caring to ask Wallace.

“Just let him ask,” Yvonne said in a small voice to Rick. “They need to sort out their problem sooner or later anyway.”

Rick’s face registered understanding around then. His face was even more wrinkled than before–if that was possible. He pointed at Wallace while still looking at Yvonne. “He thought she…”

Yvonne nodded before Rick could finish his question.

“That’s beyond bizarre!”

“What’s bizarre here is I can’t even trust my wife!” Wallace yelled out, his voice blocking out anyone’s chance to speak for themselves–and he was still staring at Tammy.

The reason why Angela and Nic hadn’t stepped in to stop the escalating argument was because they were still stumped by the turn of events. Not to mention how they were curious about everything themselves and wanted to hear the real version from Tammy. Now, they were witnessing Yvonne and Rick’s sideshow.

“No, what’s bizarre is you’re the one launching some dumb investigation right now when everyone should be resting and restoring their energy!” Rick returned, not backing down.

Wallace ignored Rick completely at this point and focused on Tammy. “How could you not even make the slightest protest when they tried to hypnotize me?”

Yvonne turned from them then. She was hugging herself and seemed to be experiencing some sense of flashbacks. Was she experiencing that day of the hypnosis all over again since Wallace was mentioning it now? They all saw her, except for Wallace and Tammy. Wallace was facing Tammy and Tammy’s view had been blocked by Wallace.

“Yvonne, you have to tell him,” Rick urged in a small voice as the others stepped over to comfort Yvonne.

Yvonne shook her head then. She accepted Amber’s hand on her shoulder and the empathy through Angela’s eyes. Nic didn’t say anything because he was in one of his surprised moments with Amber’s courage to protect Yvonne at times yet she seemed to be in fear of Wallace? What irony. Or had her bond with Yvonne all these times had forced her fear to subside?

“If you won’t, I will,” Rick said, his voice firm this time.

“Rick, you can’t tell him!” Yvonne yelled out, grabbing Rick’s arm as Rick turned toward Wallace and Tammy again. Her action had also meant she had stepped away from Amber and Angela already.

Wallace was still staring at Tammy all the while Yvonne and Rick exchanged all those words in their small voice. But now that Yvonne had yelled, he was forced to turn his attention onto them once more.

“Can’t tell me what?” Wallace asked, eyeing Yvonne and Rick cautiously.

“Can’t tell you that we used to…” Yvonne jumped in before Rick could say anything. “I meant…we…as in…”

Wallace’s eyes stopped on Rick then, having understood Yvonne’s fearful expression as she tried to get the words out in a jumble. “If you’re talking about me cheating on my wife with her, I already remember that part. In fact, I ended up cheating on her again after I lost my memory, nice?”

“You idiot!” Rick yelled out, trying to detach Yvonne’s hands on his arm.

“What he wants to tell you is he and I are together now!” Yvonne blurted out before Rick could get any more words out.

“What?”

That wasn’t Wallace, but Nic. He had stayed silent and confused for so long that he was getting used to it. Yet this had topped his list of confusions since the day he learned of Wallace’s crazy past–detail by detail.

“You’re together now?” Wallace asked, still studying Yvonne and Rick’s faces.

Yvonne nodded, confirming her words from earlier.

“Then why don’t you want him to tell me?”

“You have your problems to take care of. We can’t just spring this on you now.”

“Yvonne!” Rick finally yelled out. He had freed his arm already but it wasn’t because of his own doing, it was because Yvonne was too intent in convincing Wallace to leave them alone that she had let go of his arm.

“Stop bothering them while they’re trying to sort out their situation,” Yvonne warned, her threatening glare on Rick. The one she often used on Wallace in the past. The past before he lost his memory, not the current past. After delivering her message to Rick with her eyes, she turned to Wallace again. “We’ll be leaving tomorrow so you don’t have to worry about us bothering you two anymore. Like Roy said, it’s not as scary as you think. You don’t have to worry about any of us rupturing your lives anymore.”

With that, Yvonne turned to leave the room. For some reason, Wallace had experienced a sense of unexplainable jealousy toward Rick when Yvonne had given Rick that threatening glare. It was like he had claimed that specific glare exclusively already. And when Yvonne turned to leave, he could almost feel the hurt living inside her. It was like he had recognized the look in her eyes as she said those last words to him. What had he done to her? All the while she was trying really hard to help him restore his past life, he was lashing out at her. Not to mention dragging her reputation down in the past–both pasts–to fulfill his own infidelity lust. Yet it seemed like she never blamed him. Even wanting to stop Rick, her supposedly most important person at the moment, from hurting him. And what had he done for her in return? Aside from the constant torment of blaming her, that was.

While Wallace was thinking of all those things and focusing on Yvonne’s presence–and lack of presence from view afterward, he had neglected the fact that Rick had yelled out Yvonne’s name and rushed after her. Wallace also missed the part where Nic had rattled out some words to Tammy to rest–as Angela waved a nervous goodbye. Amber was already way ahead of the rest of them, running after Yvonne before Rick even did. Now that he snapped to alertness again, Wallace turned to Tammy.

“Go after her,” Tammy said before Wallace could say anything.

Wallace’s guilt level accelerated several more notches by then. What did he do to deserve such a wife? So forgiving and willing to help him patch things up from the past. And was also willing to stay by his side all these years, even when he was running around with someone else to hurt her even more.

“Go,” Tammy urged again. “Knowing her, she would leave right now, not tomorrow.”

Wallace shook his head then. “I’m going back to my room. I need time to sort all these out too.”

Tammy nodded, sending him a weak smile.

*****

“What are you doing here?” Rick asked, looking at Yvonne when they finally stopped at a nearby park.

Rick didn’t know how they could all run so fast at this point, but they did it.

“What am I supposed to do when I can’t control it anyway?” Yvonne returned. “You want me to tell him? And have everyone thinking I’m making it up?”

“She’s right,” Amber said.

“What?” Rick turned to Amber with much disbelief. “You, of all people, should know not to judge Yvonne.”

Amber scoffed. “Yeah, sure. But you’d already seen how Angela reacted. That’s life. People like them will always think inside the box. But they don’t know half of what’s going on. Even if Angela seemed to not attack Yvonne anymore and maybe it was because of how we just managed to escape death. But in the future? Like she’s going to change that. Multiply that with all the people around her. Yvonne’s not going to win against his warped memory.”

Rick then remembered. He seemed to calm down a bit. “No wonder they reacted in such way when I first met them at the hotel.”

Amber nodded.

“This is stupid, why can’t we tell him?”

“It was the deal, remember?” Yvonne reminded Rick. “They said unless Wallace remembers on his own, we can’t add in. if they find out, you know.”

“This is just stupid,” Rick repeated, feeling like he could kick something at this point. “But come on now, they won’t know.”

Yvonne shook her head. “I don’t want to risk it.”

“One day when he remembers, he will hate us.”

“He already condemned her anyway,” Amber muttered, her frustration mirroring Rick’s. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll blame it right back at him for being stupid. I’m not going to stand around and let them gloat in their happiness.”

“Amber,” Yvonne called out, her expression worried. “Come on, don’t do this.” She let out a heavy sigh. “What’s in the past is already done. We can’t change anything now.” She looked from Rick to Amber before continuing on again. “Don’t do anything rash.”

Rick and Amber had on the same reluctant look. But they nodded anyway.

“I just hate that stupid elixir,” Amber blurted out. “If I was there at that time…”

“We couldn’t change that, Kid, what makes you think you can?” Rick asked.

Yvonne let out another sigh and then turned to leave. Amber followed.

“I’m going to take a walk to cool off,” Rick said.

The girls nodded but didn’t turn around.

*****

Wallace lied. He didn’t go back to his room like he had claimed. It was not in his plan, but the urge to run after Yvonne was so strong he couldn’t just ignore it. As dramatic as it got, he had started running as soon as he reached the entrance, not caring if a crowd was present. He didn’t know why he’d chosen to run out of the hotel instead of calling Amber up to confirm their location. Or was he so ashamed of his upcoming actions that he didn’t want to call anyone? Asking Nic and Angela to help him was out of the question. He had no idea if his running would be any more fruitful than when he had chased Tammy down that one time in New York. Yet this time, he had a stronger feeling he was on the right track than ever. Or was his confusion the source to mislead him even more? How could he be out chasing after Yvonne when he should be sitting in his room reflecting about his past infidelity? And should be convincing himself not to travel on that road anymore. Especially when it took him so much to rescue his wife and have her by his side again.

Running didn’t help his quest to search for Yvonne. But running did help clear his mind. Soon, he was just running until he reached a park. He stopped at a bench and sat down, catching his breath, and wiping away his sweat. Closing his eyes, he still saw Yvonne in his mind. It was a useless run after all. Opening his eyes again, he tried to shake himself awake. That was when he saw a pair of shoes stopping in front of him. He looked up to see Rick staring at him. Rick was no longer mad. Or didn’t look like he wanted to kill Wallace versus when they were still in Tammy’s room.

“She left already,” Rick said, still standing in front of Wallace with that passive expression.

“Who?” Wallace asked, confusion washed over him.

“Yvonne,” Rick answered, his patience running out–and his mocking expression returned then.

Wallace knew Rick had every right to be mad. Not only was Wallace out and about searching for a past flame and abandoning his own wife at the hotel. But Yvonne was now Rick’s girlfriend. If he was Rick, he already advanced forward and threw several punches. Yet Rick was better at controlling his emotions than Wallace thought. Because Rick’s impatience disappeared as soon as it appeared. Rick let out a sigh instead, staring at an unknown object behind Wallace. It was like Rick was struggling inside. But Rick’s expression returned to its determined state briefly after the reflective moment.

“I’m not only part of your team in the past,” Rick began, looking at Wallace again. “But I was also your best man at your wedding. So I will help you one last time. Even if I’m going to regret my decision in the future. And I’m also going back on my words with Yvonne.”

Wallace raised a hand out to stop Rick then, shaking his head. “No, don’t. I don’t want to be the cause of your breakup.”

Rick shook his head. “Yvonne and I aren’t together.”

Wallace gasped in disbelief but felt an unknown sense of relief washed over him after hearing Rick say those words. He wanted to beat himself up for celebrating yet he couldn’t help it. His heart doing all the thinking at the moment and his mind wasn’t able to shut those feelings out either.

“And you didn’t cheat on your wife,” Rick rattled out after realizing Wallace wasn’t going to say anything else regarding the other matter.

© Monday, September 24th, 2012

Posted: Saturday, July 13th, 2013

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