Liam watched Sandoval in concern as he continued his report on the devastating Volunteer attack in Salt Lake City. The other man seemed to be pre-occupied with whatever it was he was looking at; he wasn't reacting at all to what Liam was saying.
"You wanna hear this?" Liam asked finally.
"I read your report," Sandoval returned, not looking away from what was in his hands. "Not very enlightening."
"Well, how can I report what I don't know?" Liam asked, pushing away from the wall. The damage had already been done, but if he could salvage anything from it, it was worth a try. "I don't have top-secret security clearance. It would be more efficient if you'd ask Zo'or to clear me," he added, careful to keep his voice level. The last thing he wanted was for Sandoval to realize how very badly he needed this.
"He'll have to start making his own security decisions. Or find someone else to do it," Sandoval said quietly from behind him. "Maybe it'll be you."
What?! Liam felt a surge of alarm go through him at that comment. What did Sandoval mean? Just how sick was he?
"I thought they were just doing tests," Liam said carefully, turning around to face his father. If he could see Sandoval, maybe that would give him some insight into exactly what was going on. "How long will you be out?"
"It might take longer than anyone thinks," Sandoval replied, still in that quiet voice. He hadn't yet looked up from what was in his hands. "I'm sure you'll carry on."
"I don't like the sound of that," Liam commented.
He wasn't expecting Sandoval's reaction.
"Oh, spare me the false compassion, Major!" Sandoval snapped furiously. Liam stared at him, trying to keep the shock off his face. "The fact of the matter is, the world doesn't give a damn no matter what happens to any of us!"
Well, I know how that feels, Liam thought ruefully, and then his eyes widened in shock as Sandoval sent the contents of the medical cart crashing to the floor. He'd never seen his father react that violently to anything; Sandoval prided himself on his emotional control.
Something's very, very wrong...
He looked down at the floor, blinking in an effort to control the sudden moisture that filled his eyes, not wanting Sandoval to see it. Even now, when everything seemed to be crashing down around him, he couldn't risk it. Couldn't risk Sandoval wondering just why he was so concerned.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sandoval bend down to pick something up. It was the same thing he'd been staring at the entire time Liam had been there. Now that Sandoval was facing him - almost, at least - Liam could see that it was a leather wallet.
"Do you carry photographs in your wallet, Major?"
Confused by the question, Liam replied, "Only my ID. Why?" His voice was a bit shaky, but he was distantly pleased by the fact that it wasn't all that noticeable.
Sandoval kept his eyes on his wallet. "Evidence," he said softly.
"Of what?" He asked the question gently, hoping that his father would give him some idea of what was happening.
"That you were here."
The concern and the fear returned, much more intense. What was wrong?! "Sandoval..." he started.
Sandoval blinked, and then looked up at him. "That will be all, Major," he said curtly, seemingly back to his normal self.
Liam opened his mouth to say something else, and then closed it. What else could he say? 'Please tell me what's wrong'? 'How sick are you really'? 'You're my father'? "I'll keep you updated on the results of the Volunteer raid," he managed, and then slipped out the door.
Dr. Curzon wouldn't tell him; he'd already tried, back when he'd thought that Sandoval was only undergoing a few tests. And the Taelons knew only as much as he did - maybe less.
He looked through the window into his father's room. Closing his eyes for a moment, he sent out a silent prayer to whatever powers there might be in the universe to keep Sandoval safe.
Please, please, don't let him die.
Liam stared at Augur in shock. For just a moment, his mother's face flashed in front of his eyes, along with the memory of Sandoval's words; "It might take longer than anyone thinks."
Augur was continuing, and Liam forced himself to focus on the words. "He needs the hemologic factor of a parent, or a child," Augur added, his eyes fixing on Liam, "to save his life."
No, no, no...
"Sandoval is a Taelon stooge who'd kill us if it suited him," Renee's voice said from beside him. "Who cares if he's dying?"
I do! Obviously, Doors hadn't told Renee about him.
Augur was looking at him; Liam knew what that expression meant.
"This is going to be hard for you to believe, but," Liam started carefully, turning away from Renee - he didn't want to see her face at the moment, "just over a year ago, an alien named Ha'gel used Sandoval's body to create a son. Me."
He could almost sense Renee's disbelief as she stared at him. "You," she repeated.
Liam nodded, still not looking at her - he didn't want to see what she thought of him now.
"A year ago. A year ago."
"I grew into the body you're looking at in less than five minutes," Liam said, finally facing her. It was a slight exaggeration - it had been more like half an hour or so - but it got the point across.
"It's true, Renee," Augur added. "I was there. Liam is part human, and part of an alien proto-species called the Kimera."
"My mental process may be a little different, my emotions can be unexpected... There were vestigial organs in my hands called shaqarava," Liam added, wanting her to understand. "But the longer I'm on Earth, the more human I become."
"Hmm," Augur snorted.
Liam was well aware of the fact that the computer hacker thought he was deceiving himself - but he hadn't felt his shaqarava at all since he'd damaged the Jaridian messenger probe, when they'd been with Colonel Kincaid and Operation Dark Knight.
"And he didn't mention his DNA," Augur continued to Renee. "A triple helix: two strands human, one Kimera."
"Okay," Renee said, in a tone of voice that Liam recognized as disbelief combined with a fear that they'd been telling the truth. He glanced over to see her turn away from them. "You know what? I'm going home and hope that I wake up with a fever and know that I dreamed all of this."
Out of the corner of his eye, Liam saw Augur take off his glasses and rub his forehead. "Listen, what are we going to do about Sandoval?" Liam turned to face him, still feeling somewhat dazed by the news of his father's condition. "He needs two pints of blood, right now."
"Sandoval is our mortal enemy!" Renee exclaimed.
Liam got up and started to walk away. He really, really didn't want to have to listen to this. Everything that had happened with the Resistance was bad enough, but now Sandoval - his father, his last surviving parent - was dying; and Renee wanted to let him?!
"He's got our blood on his teeth; how could you even consider saving him by giving him yours?" Renee demanded.
"I told you; Sandoval's my father!" Liam snapped, whirling around to glare at her. He couldn't take much more of this. First his mother's death; then Lili's; now, a double blow - Augur's betrayal and Sandoval's illness...
I'm only a year old! Sandoval's all I've got left - can't you understand that?
"He's a surrogate; there's got to be another reason," Renee countered.
I guess you can't, Liam thought grimly. Augur understood - despite everything that Sandoval had done, Augur's first thought had been how they could help him - why couldn't Renee?
You want another reason? Fine, I'll give you one.
"Sandoval represents everything wrong the Taelons have done to humanity," Liam said, forcibly controlling his temper. "But for me to just let him die would be just as bad. I can't do that." He looked away for a moment, and then added in a quiet, firm voice, "I won't do that."
"All right, so what are we going to do?" Augur asked.
Liam gave him a grateful look. He was still angry about what had happened to the Resistance - it would take a long time for him to trust Augur again, if indeed he ever did - but his support in this was a great help.
"We get two pints of my blood."
Liam looked through the window into his father's hospital room. It had been a long night, and a very unpleasant one, with the only good news being the fact that he had - secretly - saved Sandoval's life. He'd been betrayed in so many ways, by so many people... there was no one left that he could trust. No one at all.
Except, perhaps, one person.
The one person that no one would expect him to trust.
Pressing one hand against the window, he watched Sandoval sleep.
I love you, Father.