"Dr. Kelly," Robert barked, his eyes cold and unafraid. "It's over. You're under arrest."
The room is silent as Dr. Kelly turns to face the agent intent on arresting her. The door that Robert opened slammed shut, and a hint of a smile ran from the doctor's eyes to her cheeks—something that Robert wished he paid attention to.
"Charles it's nice to see you," Dr. Kelly commented—her face calculating yet surprisingly nonchalant as if Robert was not a CIA agent in fully body armor pointing a gun at her.
Robert would be lying to himself if he didn't acknowledge feeling slightly unnerved by her demeanor. He knew just what Dr. Kelly was capable of. He knew that the kind, compassionate woman she portrayed herself to be was just a mask—nothing more than a disguise meant to camouflage her fiendish lust for immortality. She would do anything to continue her quest—even if that meant killing him where he stood.
Before beginning his assignment, Robert had done his research on Dr. Kelly. From the files he uncovered that she was the daughter of the world renown biogerontologist. He presumed that it was the sudden death of her father that pushed her to try to finish his research on drug-induced de-aging—DIDA, her father had named his project. Still, even the CIA knew very little about how far his research had gone.
At first, the scientific community welcomed DIDA as an intervention for psychiatric-resistant suicidality in youth, but over time, there were unanswered questions and doubts about the ethical implications of her research. No one knew just how far Dr. Kelly would be willing to go, and Robert was chosen as the agent to monitor her.
When his supervisors approached him with the mission, Robert easily understood why he was picked. In college, he was a star football player at night and a social work student by day, and he loved working with kids. That was why, he could never—would never—let Dr. Kelly kill an innocent child. Robert held his stance, watching and waiting for Dr. Kelly's next move. "On your knees!" he shouted.
"Now, now. There's no need to shout. I can hear you just fine," Dr. Kelly admonished, stepping closer her former colleague. "However, I regret to inform you that you are not the one in control here."
"I will shoot you!" Robert barked, his finger ready to pull the trigger. "Get on the ground!"
"Robert," Dr. Kelly addressed him, and Robert couldn't help but widen his eyes at the use of his real name. "Do you really think I would let you destroy my research when I am so close to finishing DIDA?" The doctor scoffed and shook her head. "I have known about your little mission for quite some time now. It was just not worth the effort to deal with you until now."
"Get on the ground! This is your last warning!" Robert barked, determined to ignore her. He knew that an intelligent criminal like Dr. Kelly would do everything to get into his head, and he refused to entertain it. The agent found himself feeling more uneasy the longer lasted. At first, he'd written off the pounding in his chest as mere anxiety before an arrest—something that every agent could admit experiencing in a high-stakes situation. That was until it got harder to breathe—harder to see straight—harder to hold his stance.
"Robby," Dr. Kelly began, reaching into her lab coat pockets. "Do you really think that you're in a position to make demands?"
"Wha—" Robert gasped, his knees buckling under him. "What did you do to me?"
Dr. Kelly smiled as she approached the agent barely managing to hold himself up. "I simply added some aerosol sevoflurane. Of course, I already gave myself a dose of a counteractant when I called you."
"Y-you won't get away with this." Robert mumbled as he fell face first onto the floor.
"You're wrong. I already have," Dr. Kelly replied, reaching into the cabinets to grab some zip ties. "There is nothing that will stop me now—not when I'm this close to achieving everything Dad dreamed about."
Robert could do nothing more than lay limply as Dr. Kelly binds his arms. Promises to make her pay for what she is doing were mumbled through his lips. His vision faded, and he succumbed to the vaporized sedative.
Simon gently tapped Jacob's back following the rhythm of one of his favorite tunes to hum softly to himself whenever he needed some reassurance. It was the song his mother used to sing to him, and he could tell that it was helping Jacob. The boy's meltdown when they began walking down the halls to the exam room certainly outdid the last one, but the nurses were kind and patiently waited for Jacob to calm down enough to get his vitals.
"The doctor will be in shortly," the nurse had said a few minutes ago. While the couple waited, they finetuned the list of items that they wanted to be sure to discuss with Dr. Kelly. Simon and Angelique were sitting in silence for mere moments before the doctor courtesy knocked on the door before entering.
"Simon and Angelique. Hello," the doctor said, "I'm glad you two were able to make it today." She reaches for Jacob's chart and thumbs through the pages.
"It's nice to see you too," Angelique replies. "We told the nurse, so I'm sure you'll see it in the chart. Jacob had an accident at the pool a few days ago. He nearly drowned, so we want to make sure everything is okay with his lungs."
"Oh no," Dr. Kelly said, patting Jacob on the head as the boy squirms away from her touch. "Was he unconscious for long?"
"It seemed like a long time," Angelique recounted, "but the paramedic didn't seem to believe he had been."
Before Simon or Angelique could ask another question, Dr. Kelly abruptly asked, "Did either of you notice any major behavioral changes from Jacob after his last appointment?"
"Not really," Simon answered, the confusion pushing his eyebrows together. "Was he supposed to be acting differently after the last appointment."
"Sometimes, we see some relapses from the adult consciousness after the midway mark,
Dr. Kelly told him while looking into Jacob's eyes with a flashlight. "Are you sure he didn't have one?"
"Actually, he did relapse," Angelique recalled, scrolling through their shared notes. "It says right here that it happened almost as soon as he got home, but he regressed again shortly afterwards."
"That's right," Simon agreed, running his hand through his hair. "I forgot about it because it passed so quickly."
"That is interesting," Dr. Kelly said while making a note of it in her chart.
"We just had anoth—" Simon started, before being interrupted by Dr. Kelly, "Has Jacob been noticeably performing better at games and puzzles in the last two weeks?"
"Now that you mention it," Angelique answered. "I do believe he has been. Teaching him in preparation for daycare was the easiest last week, and easier this week than during his second week."
"Thank you for telling me," Dr. Kelly replied. She stands in front of Jacob and moves her finger to see if he will follow it, and the boy did, maintaining rather exemplary attention for a toddler.
Simon tried to ignore the first interruption from Dr. Kelly, but when the doctor kept asking strange questions, he became concerned. "Is there some new development with Jacob's case?"
Dr. Kelly spun around from the computer she was making notes on. "No," she replied, looking Simon directly in the eyes. "Why would you think so?"
"It just seems like you're expecting something different than what we've reported," Simon answered, crossing his arms. "Is there something that we need to know about?"
"The questions are just routine case study questions," Dr. Kelly reassured him. "We're still treating Jacob's case as special since he had that hiccup at the beginning."
Simon felt satisfied with her answer. He did forget that they had agreed to participate in the case study for Jacob. For the next fifteen minutes, he and Angelique asked a few of the questions they wanted to pose to the doctor before they felt comfortable with Jacob going off for testing.
"How long will it be this time," Simon asked, lifting Jacob off the exam table and preparing to hand him to the doctor.
"It might be a bit longer," Dr. Kelly replied, but seeing Simon's hesitation to let go of Jacob, she added, "We just want to make sure he's alright after the pool incident."
With the mention of the pool accident, Simon backed off his interrogation. He had his doubts about Dr. Kelly's intentions, but he still blamed himself for the incident. If the doctor really did need extra time to make sure the boy was okay, Simon would give her that.
After all, that was the only way he could let the child he would die for be carried away—crying and screaming for him—in the arms of someone he didn't fully trust.