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Beneath The Surface

Part 1

Paradigm City...a city of amnesia. How much of what we do arises from careful thought and consideration, and how much simply because weíve always done it that way? Do we even remember which is which? How do we know what we know? Did we learn it ourselves or did someone teach us?

In a world without memories, reality itself can be turned upside-down in an instant. We are left fumbling and helpless, hoping for simple answers. But answers to the big questions are rarely simple, and they often require some digging...

"A young lady is here to see you, sir," Norman stood politely in the doorway.

Roger Smith looked up from the painting he was working on. "Hmm, I wasnít expecting anyone," he answered. "Thank you, Norman, tell her Iíll be right there."

"Very good, sir." Norman inclined his head and went to deliver the message. Roger carefully wiped the paint from his hands and removed the protective apron he was wearing, frowning at his work. He had been working on this still life for five days now, and the fruit was starting to soften. If he didnít finish soon, it would go rotten.

With a quick check in the mirror to see that every hair was in place and his tie was straight, he went down to the receiving room. "Angel?" he said in surprise. Considering the way things had been lately, she was the last person he had expected to see.

The lovely blonde nodded. "I came to say goodbye," she said simply. "I know I left a message with Dorothy, but that was before I had decided it was time to leave town for a while and let things settle down a little. Walk me to the car?"

"Certainly," he replied and opened the door for her. "Leaving where, Angel? And why?"

She gave a short laugh. "One thing I have learned about Paradigm Cityís negotiator is that you donít just disappear on him because he has a way of getting really...curious, shall we say? Digging into things that are better left undisturbed?"

"I understand," he answered. It looked like she was really leaving, the back seat of the car was piled high with luggage. "Where are you going to go?"

"That doesnít matter," she answered. "Honestly, I just wanted you to know that I had left of my own free will and there was nothing mysterious about it. Besides, you canít tell Dastun what you donít know. You wonít try to find me, will you?"

"Angel, why?" Roger repeated. "I thought we...that is..."

"So did I, but someone got there before me," she answered, her eyes sad. "Your promise, please."

"As long as you arenít on the run from having done something that someone would hire me to negotiate, I promise I wonít try to find you," he hedged. "Canít we sit down and talk about this?"

To his surprise, Angel moved forward suddenly and kissed him hard. When she finally pulled away, he saw tears in her eyes. "Sheís a good woman and she loves you. Good luck, Roger Smith," she whispered and turned away.

Roger stood helplessly as the car drove off, not seeing the two figures watching him from the window.

Dorothy looked up at Norman curiously. "Why did she do that?" she asked.

Norman cleared his throat. "Miss Dorothy, Master Roger would undoubtedly be very angry if he saw us standing here. Come along, now, we can talk more about it later." With that, he turned and moved rapidly to the kitchen.

Dorothy followed more slowly, puzzling over what she had seen. She understood the biological facts about humans, but Angelís actions were not consistent with her admittedly slim knowledge of human courtship behavior. "Norman, are Roger and Angel in love with each other?" she asked as she entered the kitchen. "Grandfather always said that kind of kissing meant two people were in love."† Norman opened his mouth to speak then closed it again, suddenly seeming to be extraordinarily interested in the potatoes he was peeling. "Is that a question I should ask Roger?" she pressed.

"No, no, Miss Dorothy, I donít think you should even let Master Roger know you saw them," Norman said hastily. "Iíll try to answer your question, but Iíll need time to think about it so that the answer doesnít make you even more confused."

"Itís a hard question, then," Dorothy stated. "I understand. Thank you, Norman." She got another paring knife from the drawer and set to work.

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