When Henderson arrives, Patrick waits for the door to close. He doesn't bother with the pleasantries.
"How bad is it?"
"It's not, so far as we can tell," Henderson says. "Between your own preventative measures on John as a child, and his special forces training, it seems they came away quite empty-handed on all fronts. My contacts indicate that Ghent found nothing of use to them."
"And you're sure of them?"
"Sure as I stand before you."
So John kept them out after all. Pride is a powerful emotion, even tinged with bitterness. Patrick's son may be a stubborn ass, but he's also cunning when it comes to manoeuvring around things he doesn't want to do. Disobeying his orders in Afghanistan was hardly the start of John Sheppard's rebellion - only the latest instalment.
Patrick hopes his son takes the time in Antarctica to cool off and see the light. The Air Force doesn't have a place for John anymore - they've sent him to Antarctica, for God's sake - Patrick's more than willing to take him back if John decides he wants to come back.
And to that end, there are certain actions that need to be undertaken. Things to show that you don't touch Patrick Sheppard's family - even the black sheep son.
"Who was running the extraction? Simms? Lu and Kim? Dhaduti?"
"Cobb, I believe."
"Solo, or in a team?"
"So far as we can tell, it was a solo job." Henderson sees the look on Patrick Sheppard's face, opens his mouth, and hesitates.
Patrick has employed Leo Henderson for nearly twenty years. The man is brisk and businesslike, skilled at winnowing between the truth and lies of corporate rumour, excellent at maintaining open channels with all manner of information sources, and brilliant at handling managerial types who can't see the forest for the trees. Henderson knows it's not his business to ask his employer what he intends to do.
He still wants to ask.
At least he still has the wisdom not to do so.
Patrick signs off on Henderson's latest expenses, accepts the information gathered on Ghent Industries and Dom Cobb, and hands him off to Gerry for his next assignment.
Then, when the door closes behind his employee, he picks up the phone and starts making calls.
It may take months, it may take years, but Patrick Sheppard has a long reach and a longer memory.
The phone call from de Vendheim comes at a bad time, but Gerry takes it.
"I've got a meeting with him in five minutes. Talk fast."
"The extraction was mostly a failure, sir. The character profile suggested paranoia, which should have made him an easy subject; however, any attempts to gain useful information failed. The operative managed to get some information, but it's not particularly useful for your inquiries."
Gerry usually trusts his people to make appropriate value judgements, but this involves Pat’s son and military secrets, and even associates with de Vendheim’s experience can’t always see the big picture. "What’s 'not particularly useful' mean, exactly?"
"According to the report, he mentioned two entities - something called 'the Trust', as well as 'the NID'. We have nothing on any group called 'the Trust', and the NID was a governmental oversight body that was swallowed up into the International Oversight Advisory board in 2006."
"Government projects, from what we can tell."
Government projects? Gerry scowls at the Mondrian hanging across from his desk, all bright colours and sharp squares. "US government projects are being overseen by an international advisory?"
"Uh, yes, sir. I guess." The man hastens on, as though afraid of being asked anything further on that point. "He also mentioned a number of personnel who we checked up through his public work records - Major Samantha Carter of the Air Force, presently assigned to Space Radar Telemetry at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, and Dr. Radek Zelenka, presently assigned to a classified military project..."
"The same one that Major Sheppard and Dr. McKay are on?"
"That's the one. I've just sent you the report, sir."
He opens his email and finds the report file there as de Vendheim said. It’s fairly thorough - at least so far as the extraction operative could get inside Dr. McKay's subconscious, which, he reflects as he skims through the document, ain’t much.
“Good work. And don’t forget; you’re being paid to keep your mouth shut on this front.”
Gerry rings off.
It was a risk, paying for an extraction on one of John Sheppard's colleagues - all the more because Patrick doesn’t know about it. And Gerry ain’t going to tell him, neither.
He just thought he could give Pat some answers about what his son really does. Something to ease the boss’ mind.
Dave’s just gotten off the phone when his PA informs him that Chuck is here.
Chuck saunters in with a charming word for Melissa, closes the door behind him and lifts one eyebrow. “Is it done?”
“Done.” Dave exhales. “I just spoke with Clarence. He’s dealing with the charges against Cobb even as we speak.”
“You’re putting a lot of trust in Saito’s belief that the whole idea of inception could even work.”
“He seems to think that if anyone could do it, Cobb could.” Dave swung his chair a little. “Dad’s probably spinning in his grave. He was the one who pushed for the murder charges.”
“Yeah, well, there was no-one could hold a grudge like your Dad.”
Dave reflects that John probably comes pretty close. Then again, John’s a chip off the old block when it comes to personality. Dave likes to think he’s more like their mom - which explains why he’s still here, playing the good son, while John’s running around...doing whatever it is John does.
Uncannily, Chuck echoes his thoughts. “What’s your brother doing now anyway? I mean, Air Force Colonel, sure, but...that could be anything. Still Afghanistan?”
“Don’t know.” And Dave didn’t ask. “It’s not Afghanistan though. Some top-secret military thing in hostile territory is about as much as I could get from him and he still wouldn’t say where.”
The emails still come through every now and then - always on a Thursday, Dave’s noticed, although not every week. Sometimes months will go by before a slightly stilted mail arrives. Sometimes weeks go by before Dave answers them. It’s not as though they much in common to talk about anymore.
Still, sometimes he’d like to know more about this brother he barely knows.
When he mentions this to Chuck, the other guy grins. “At least you know not to hire an extractor on him.”
“Too much trouble. I’d have to bankrupt myself the way Dad did Ghent.”
Although Dave hesitates a moment. The guy that John brought with him the funeral...Robin? Rowan? He’s obviously pretty close to John - maybe even John’s boyfriend? He didn’t look military, so he mightn’t have been militarized against extraction attempts...
Chuck leans back in his chair, eyeing him suspiciously. “You’re thinking about requesting an extraction on the guy he brought to the funeral, aren’t you?”
Dave throws up his hands. “For fuck’s sake, Chuck. Two hundred years ago, they’d have burned you for a witch or something.”
“Nah. Just been hanging out with you too long, man.” Chuck tilts his head. “So...would you?”
He allows himself to be tempted for just a moment, and then shakes his head “No. Too much risk, not enough payoff.”
"You always were one to go it safe."
Chuck stops in the middle of the sidewalk with his hot dog, staring at his best friend's wife in horror. Behind him, people curse but step around him. This is New York, after all. "You what?"
"Not here," says Stephanie, taking him by the arm and tugging him along with the flow of people. He follows, mostly because his brain has stopped working. "Keep moving, Chuck, for heaven's sake."
They reach the end of the street before Chuck speaks again. He speaks slowly and quietly because he wants to shout at her and he can't in the middle of the busy New York street.
"Let me get this straight - you requested an extraction on Teyla Emmagan?"
He thinks of all the things he could say at this moment. About Patrick Sheppard and Ghent's attempt on John, about the failed extraction on Rodney McKay that he found in Gerry's files. About the file he paid a lot of money to get his hands on - the extraction attempted on Ronon Dex two years ago by another company trying to find out something that Chuck still hasn't managed to discover. About what the hell Dave is going to say when he finds out his wife has ordered an extraction on one of his brother's friends.
"Because I wanted to know what her game is. The woman's been influencing John to reconcile with Dave for the last few years since she turned up at the Inauguration dinner. Remember? When John was actually contactable for six months before he vanished on his next assignment but still only came to visit twice?"
"You've got a suspicious mind, Steph."
"I know the look of a player, Chuck. And this Emmagan woman is political. She's a single mother with a son to bring up and a close friend of John's. And almost every time John contacts Dave lately, she comes up in conversation. Teyla suggested he call, or Teyla wants to see something in the area, or Teyla's son is doing this or that."
Chuck's met Teyla Emmagan - along with the other 'work colleagues' that John brought home the last time he visited. Dave grumbled about his brother bringing a buffer zone with him and promptly invited half the VPs of the company around for the weekend.
He thought the woman was friendly enough, and her kid was cute. He didn't see anything between her and John, but maybe women are more attuned to that kind of thing?
"So, what did you find out?"
Steph makes a face. "Nothing. Nothing that's of any use, anyway. 'Subject was initially susceptible to the dreamscape, but rapidly realised that something was wrong and the extractor lost control.'"
"Do you want some advice, Steph?"
"No." Then, a moment later, she huffs. "But you're going to give it anyway, aren't you?"
"Put the report away. Bury it. Don't tell Dave. But sometime, get around to asking him about the Ghent Industries bankruptcy." She frowns, and Chuck just knows she's going to ask for answers now. He holds up his hand. "And when he tells you why Patrick went after Ghent, remember that Dave says that of the two Sheppards, he's the nice one."