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Of Science and the Human Heart 

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I want to hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all?
I want to see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out

"Miracle Drug" -- U2

"I assume you dream, Preston?"

"Yes," Preston says, and he's not sure why the words come out. He opens his mouth to tell Partridge...what? "Yes, I do dream."

He can feel the surprise hit Partridge, but the years of hiding emotions enable Partridge to keep his expression even. "That's where it begins," Partridge says. "That's where it began with me."

"Dreaming." Preston finds himself wondering what it was that Partridge dreamt about.

"Yes," Partridge replies. "I knew I was dreaming and I wanted to remember my dreams." He looks at Preston carefully and then lowers his book. "It was like knowing I only needed one more piece of evidence to get a conviction; I had to investigate it."

"So you went off your dose."

"Oh no," Partridge says, shaking his head. "That would have been dangerous and even illegal. I merely reduced it." And now Preston sees a flicker of emotion on his face, a very faint smile. "And it's a good thing I did; going completely off the dose all at once would have driven me mad."

"And this is not madness?" Preston asks, tapping the barrel of his gun against the book.

"No, it's poetry," Partridge replies with a smile. "The thought that I could hide it from you; that was the real madness. Perhaps I wanted to be caught."

"Why would you want that?"

"You'd understand if you could feel," Partridge says after a pause. "You have to kill me; you didn't come here alone. Don't worry; I'll make it easier for you." He slides his hand down between himself and the bench he's sitting on, and Preston can hear the faint metallic click of his gun.

"Don't," he says.

"You can't save me," Partridge says. "Not this time. You can't know this, but sitting here waiting for you to shoot me is rather excruciating."

"Is there another way out of this building?" Preston looks around. "I didn't tell them to surround it." He wasn't sure why he hadn't given the order then, and he's not sure why he's telling Partridge about it now.

"I won't ask you why you're doing this," Partridge says. "But can you afford to let me escape? After what happened with Viviana, they might ask questions you can't answer."

"Dupont mentioned her today," Preston admits, struck by the coincidence. "But I have nothing to hide, and tests will show that I am still taking my intervals."

"You'll have something to hide if you allow me to leave," Partridge says.

"Are you arguing with me because you feel?" Preston asks. "Do you want to die because of these emotions?" It doesn't make sense; every sense offender he's ever met has wanted to live so fiercely that it made it easy to find them and kill them.

"Far from it," Partridge says. "My emotions are telling me to run for it; it's my intellect that realizes that doing so would put you at risk." He smiles again. "There's a paradox here that I wish I could discuss with you."

"You taught me," Preston says. "If you strike me unconscious now, Dupont will believe that it happened. You are perhaps the only person who can still take me."

"They will have you watched," Partridge says, rising silently to his feet. "There's a reading room called Freedom," he adds, speaking quickly. "As soon as you know they're not longer watching you, go there and ask the custodian about a man named Jurgen." He looks at Preston seriously as he moves to stand in front of him. "I have just given you the Resistance, you understand?"

"Of course I do," Preston replied. As Partridge raises his gun, Preston grabs his arm, halting the blow. "I need to know something."

"Anything," Partridge says, and he's so close that Preston can feel Partridge's breath on his face.

"Did you ever find out what you dreamed about?"

"Of course," Partridge says, pulling his arm out of Preston's grip to raise it again. "You, John."

Just before the world goes black, Preston feels something.

-end-