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Sebastian was familiar with that epithet. His howling halted. It was close to midnight by this point and he had suddenly awakened to grave panic. The Professor had bolted into the living room to silence him from the family room down the hall. They were still in the Dakota, in the main wing of the residence’s second floor, along the eastern corridor. The marble-lined fireplace was roaring. The red velvet curtains were completely drawn shut.  


Stinking of stale sweat, dried blood, and urine, Sebastian found himself splayed on the Professor’s couch, a floral-printed sofa that even in the pleasantest of circumstances would have still left his back aching. The Professor was wearing Rose Noir and the perfume reminded him of his grandmother. He missed her chocolate chip cookies. He missed her even more.


-You. Cannot. Yell. You are still in danger. Speak softly. Do… You… Understand me?


The Professor's stern expression and muffled admonition continued stifling Sebastian’s scream, but behind the scowl her eyes belied a mix of regret and fondness.


-This isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t what any of us signed up for.  


-I know. I am sorry, Sebastian. There’s something I need to tell you. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time.  


In moments of desperation, Sebastian’s mind sometimes would float back to moments from the before. Moments of calm and peace, of happiness. On this evening, in this moment, he returned to the woods next to the waterfall where we camped during our first backpacking trip together. It was a misty, cool autumn evening and the leaves had just started to turn on the third day of a five-day trek across the Black Forest Trail in the Appalachian Mountains. That night we had perched our tent next to a cascade in a grassy cove five-feet above the creekbed downstream. We chose that spot because we were exhausted from having already covered almost 30 miles of terrain; it was a natural stopping point. And, more importantly, we picked it because we thought it was romantic. 


-Avery is still alive.


-What are you talking about? Avery was taken in Busan almost a year ago... Everyone is executed who gets captured. I saw Avery pulled from the base entrance. Avery was at the front half of the convoy, they were all taken. I barely escaped [Comment: How many times could Sebastian pull that off?].


-You don’t need to take my word for it. Look at this.


The Professor pulled out her phone, her thumbs tap-tap-tapping for a few seconds, and then a video appeared. It was Avery wearing an unfamiliar uniform with a patch over the left breast. Avery was sitting in a circle with others who also were wearing the same uniform. They were all smiling. In the background, Sebastian saw a landmark he knew very well. It was the Washington Monument. The video had been published three days before.


-Is this real?




Sebastian froze. He turned his gaze to the fire. His eyes welled. For the first minute, a single tear gently descended down his right cheek. Then a flood. It was the ugliest cry you could possibly imagine. What was odd was that the weeping produced no sound. Sebastian was adept at following directions. He was a good boy.


What had started as absolute dismission– Sebastian’s reaction to the Professor’s revelation that Avery had survived– shifted to deep longing and a readiness to do whatever it might take.


Sebastian had elevated levels of testosterone from spending hours at the gym daily after Korea had fallen, according to analysis of the bloodwork performed during his previous physical, which partially explained the bravado and sudden shift in his mood. Whatever weakness he had endured from the fall and chase through the park was replaced by a newfound energy that was explosive.  


There was no question about what the next move would be. He would rescue Avery, no matter the cost.




Central to the science of attachment is the discovery that our need to be in a close relationship is embedded in our genes; so, contrary to what many relationship experts today may tell us about the importance of remaining emotionally “self-sufficient”, attachment research shows us that our need to be close to our partner is essential. That, in fact, we can’t live without it.

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