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-Wipe Your Hands Clean And Start Over Again-

"What's her condition?"

The lab coated man looked up from adjusting the settings of his unconscious patients drip. "Stable, the only injuries she appears to have suffered was a minor burn to her shoulder and a deep cut to her upper arm that needed stitches, we're keeping her in an induced coma as you requested." He answered the new arrival to the makeshift hospital room, noting down the adjustments on his chart he stepped around the bed to greet the man who's identification badge identified only as Agent Keller. No first name.

Agent Keller stood just shy of six foot, with short cropped sandy blonde hair and silver rimmed glasses, teeth that were so unnaturally white they almost glowed; with the expensive blue suit he was wearing, he looked like he'd just stepped out of the pages of a menswear magazine but he wasn't what you'd call handsome, only good looking in a rather bland way. He would've been completely unremarkable were it not for his eyes; two perfect orbs of brilliant cobalt blue. Those eyes stared at the doctor in a way that was rather unnerving. "Good." He finally spoke, his attention caught by the woman attached to the ventilator. "You have been given your orders, haven't you?"

"I'm to do what you say."

"Without question. What we're going to do here…"

"What exactly is it that we are going to do here?" The doctor spoke up angrily. He gulped when Agent Keller's eyes darkened. "I mean, if you don't mind me asking."

"Not at all." Keller smiled, showing off his pointed teeth. "Though I'd appreciate it if you'd ask a little more civilly next time." Although his words were polite the intent behind them was not. "We are going to give this woman an oppourtunity to get her life back and gain a valuable asset in the process."

"How is it her life when she can remember nothing? I don't understand how she can be of any use to you, blank slate or not, she has a serious psychological disorder."

Keller chuckled and removed a file from his brief case, handing off to the skeptical doctor to see for himself. "A disorder brought on by the numerous psychological traumas she suffered over the course of her life. Orphaned at the age of three, seeing her grandmother burn to death and then losing her grandfather only months later at age eight and then being bounced around the foster care system. You know, families don't like it when their foster kids upstage their own in the brains department. Until, at age eleven, she finally landed with an upstanding family who by all appearances was a perfect fit. Father was in the army, mother was a midwife. She was with them for two years, and during those two years she was subject to severe and repeated physical, mental and sexual abuse from both parents." Keller recited unemotionally, he knew that file word for word. "When she was thirteen, the family started the process to adopt her, in an act of desperation she did something she knew would get her taken away from them. Of course juvenile detention isn't exactly the most nurturing environment for a thirteen year old girl…she went through so much but she still didn't crack." He finished with a hint of pride. "It took someone else's suffering to break her. Do you know why that is doctor? It's because she cares about other people far more than she does herself."

"Regardless, she still has the capacity to kill."

"Every single person on this planet has the capacity to kill, even you doctor, all that they're lacking is the right motivation." said Keller dismissively, he obviously didn't care much for the doctors opinion. "She is an amazingly resilient creature." Keller trailed a hand across the metal frame of the bed.

"You talk about her as though she's an animal."

Keller turned to face the doctor and smiled smugly. "Because she is." He took the file from the doctor's slack hands and tucked it back under his arms. "She has no use for the rules and regulations of society, acts purely on her own desire with no regard to how her actions affect others. However, as with any animal, she can be trained."

Doctor Reed stared at him hard, unable to believe the man's arrogance. "Do you truly believe this to be a good idea?"

"No. I believe it too be a brilliant idea, she is far too a valuable asset to be left to waste away in jail cell." The door on his left caught Keller's eye, "How is the other one doing?" he asked nodding to the door.

"Just a mild concussion, a few cuts and bruises, she's asleep now, we gave her a mild sedative when she came in to keep her…manageable." The doctor frowned when Keller nodded, he looked like he was barely concerned with the answer to his own question. "What is your interest in her anyway?"

Keller bit his lip in amusement at the good doctors naivety, his hand coming up to straighten his blue silk tie. "There a few emotions as powerful as the one commonly known as love…if one isn't careful, one can become a slave to it; like her." He nodded to the unconscious woman in the bed. "And so, if by some bizarre twist of fate this plan doesn't work out, well, let's just say there's more than one way to ensure she does as we say." Keller finished ominously. Victor Ross had been working with the agency for going on twenty years and never had he come across a man he disliked as instantly and strongly as he did Agent Keller. "I want to speak with her."

"Why they hell do you think I'll agree to help you?" Tracey asked angrily, her hands straining against the cold metal cuffs. She would've liked nothing more than to leap from her bed and strangle that arrogant son of a bitch with her bare hands.

"Because you'll get to be with Zoe."

"But without her memories, it won't be her."

"Yes it will, just without all the emotional scarring." Keller paused and decided to try a different approach, he'd been speaking with the former detective, for at least twenty minutes, outlining the intricacies of what was going to happen whether she liked it or not, and he still hadn't made any headway. "I must be hard, coming second to a dead girl, I mean."

"Zoe loves me."

"I'm not disputing that but she'll never love you the most. No matter what you do for her or what you say, it's never going to be enough to erase the ghost of Sarah Lewis from your relationship." Tracey swallowed hard but didn't refute Keller's claims. "And you know that, don't you. You know that Zoe loves you but if you died, she wouldn't be driven by a need to get revenge for your death. She'd just find somebody new."

Tracey shrugged, trying to be nonchalant and failing. Keller's words hurt her, because they were true.

"But you have a chance to make it right." Keller said cheerfully. "And it's a choice I suggest you make."

"I have a choice?"

"Certainly. You can go along with this and, as far as most are concerned, you died along with Zoe in that fire or you can go to prison for…well, let's see here, you killed two cops while helping Zoe escape, what's the going rate for that? Twenty years apiece?" Keller said conversationally. "Regardless, I doubt you'd last that long anyway. You'd die without ever seeing your precious little Zoe again."

"What's your interest in me?" Tracey snarled, her hands tensing around the metal bars of the bed until her knuckles turned white. "She's the one you want."

"I work for the government. We're cheap." Keller deadpanned. "Why take one when you can get two for the same price?" Keller pursed his lips and tossed Zoe's file onto Tracey's bed, where it was within easy reach of her cuffed hands. "Tell you what, give that a read and in the morning you can tell me whether you think that she really wants to remember all that crap. In the morning, you can give me your decision." Then he turned an left the room, simple as that. Tracey briefly flirted with the idea of screaming a few obscenities at his departing back but abandoned the thought when her aching head gave a cautionary throb.

She looked down at the file, a little intimidated by how thick it was. Did she really want to know? Zoe had always avoided talking about her past, well anything before she met Sarah. Tracey knew that she'd been abused, she knew the signs and Zoe had showed them all, at one stage of their relationship or another. But did she really want to know how bad it was? Once she opened that file, once she read it's contents, there was no way she'd be able unlearn what she'd find there, not unless Keller gave her the same drugs he was dosing Zoe with.

After a long moments pause, Tracey gave a heavy sigh and opened the cover of the file. She was going to get to know Eve Jacobsen.

It had been a long week. The drugs had been slowly released into Zoe's system and started eating away at her memories. Memories of Peter, Tracey, Sarah, Summer Bay. Her mind was being wiped clean and at the same time was being reprogrammed in preparation of starting again, Keller had been quite insistent on installing her with a safe word; just in case.

And Tracey had been by her side for all of it, holding the comatose Zoe's hand in her own and silently begging her for forgiveness. Keller had briefed her on what was expected of her and she agreed, she'd tow the line. Not only was it her only chance to be with Zoe, it was her chance to make amends for what she had done.

"How long?" Keller asked Doctor Ross impatiently, the three of them were waiting anxiously for Zoe to wake, the time had finally come.

"She'll wake in her own time." Ross snapped back. Tracey shut the bickering men out, concentrating on Zoe's face. The grazes and cuts she'd sustained in the fire had already healed, leaving her face as flawless as ever. Tracey hadn't been as lucky, she'd been left with a small scar running through her right eyebrow. She knew what Zoe would have to say about it; scars give character…and chicks dig them. At least, that's what the old Zoe would've said.

Tracey tensed when she felt Zoe's hand twitch in her own. "Uh, guys?" she said softly, getting the men's attention, not taking her eyes off Zoe's face as the blonde's eyelids started to flutter open.

This is the worst hangover ever! was Zoe's first thought upon waking, she cringed at the bright light, before her eyes started to adjust. To say that she was a little off-put by the anxious faces staring back at her would be an understatement. She turned her head to the attractive woman sitting next to the bed, holding her hand and looking at her with worried eyes.

"Um, don't take this the wrong way but…do I know you?"


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  • 2 weeks later...

-Cracked But Intact-

"Talk about being trapped in a gilded cage." Tracey mused to herself, running a finger along the expensive mural that lined the hallway's wall. It was Asian themed, as was the rest of the safe house. Well, it was more like a safe mansion really. The property was huge and out in the middle of nowhere; to keep civilians from stumbling upon it, was the official story but Tracey knew what they really meant was, to make it harder for you to escape. They'd been transferred there three days after Zoe had woken up. Three days since Tracey had to lie to the woman she loved, three days since she had watched Keller lie to Zoe and spin her a tale about how she was a government agent who had lost her memory after being injured in the line of duty.

"So my name is just Zoe? No last name?"

"No, when you are accepted into the Black Ops Unit you forgo all aspects of your previous life, including your last name." Keller explained curtly.

"You mean your first name is Keller?" Zoe giggled, making Tracey hide a smirk behind her hand. "Wow, you must've been teased so bad at school."

Keller glared at her, clearly unamused. "Whether I was or not is not relevant." He said coldly. "Your name is Zoe, in all official documents and while you are out on missions you are referred by your codename."

"Which is?"

"Phoenix." Keller answered and Tracey had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "For all intents and purposes, you do not exist."

Tracey watched Zoe's reactions carefully. She was putting on a brave front but Tracey could see it in her eyes that she was overwhelmed and confused and for good reason.

"I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble processing all this." Zoe finally said. "I'm a secret government agent who was injured on a mission and lost her memory? It's just all too unbelievable."

You got that right. Tracey thought but wisely kept her mouth shut.

"Well, believe it." Keller said simply, removing a black folder from his brief case. "This is your official file, it contains all of your personal details and detailed reports of your past missions. It's all in here." He handed the file to a skeptical Zoe. "I assure you Zoe, this is very real."

Reluctantly, Zoe flicked the folder open. It certainly looked very official, there's no reason why she shouldn't believe it, other than the nagging sensation at the back of her skull that something wasn't right. But really, who'd make something like this up? She turned her head and looked to the brunette woman sitting by her bedside, the only person in the room that Zoe felt an underlying connection to, for confirmation. Tracey felt Keller's eyes burning into her back and nodded reassuringly. "Okay," Zoe said reluctantly. "So what happens now?"

Tracey wondered if it made her a bad person that she was relieved that this had happened. It wasn't just the fact that Keller was keeping her out of jail but it was the good it had done for Zoe. By the time Tracey had met her, Zoe was broken; like a toy that people had used and then carelessly tossed aside when she had served their purpose and every time it happened she became a little more damaged, until she finally broke apart completely.

But now it was like she'd been put back together, a little cracked but still mostly intact, more than she was before at any rate. And she was happy now, truly happy, she approached everything with an almost childlike innocence and enthusiasm and that shadow of sadness that Tracey always saw in her eyes -even when she was smiling- was gone.

Tracey quietly opened the door and slipped into to the training room, where she knew Zoe would be sparring with her instructor. The second the Doctor Reed had deemed her healthy enough, Zoe had been entered into a intensive training regime. First up, hand to hand combat. Instead of focusing on one form of martial art, Keller had a man who had training in several different styles to instruct her. It wasn't as pretty or as fancy as the kind of fighting you see in the movies, the old man called Master Li -cliché, much?- had explained, but it was infinitely more effective. Seeing that Zoe was in the middle of a no-holds-barred fight, Tracey silently sat on the padded bench that ran the length of one wall.

"Come on, old man, stop trying to hit me and hit me already." Zoe taunted, dodging the left right combination punches, Li sent her way.

"What did I tell you about talking in the middle of a fight?" Li questions, batting aside the hand that Zoe had used to try and grab his arm to put him into a restraining hold and then ducking under the elbow strike that she followed it up with.

"That it's an excellent way to distract your opponent." Zoe smirked, bouncing on the balls of her feet, looking for her next opening.

"Exactly." Li said, suddenly lashing out with a kick at the same time. Zoe managed to twist, just in time, so his foot just caught the edge of her hip, instead of catching her in the stomach as it was intended to.

She gritted her teeth at the sharp pain and backpedaled as Li came at her with a flurry of punches. Quickly running out of room to back into, Zoe blocked the final punch; barely, and managed to push Li away, giving herself sometime to regain her footing. But the old man wasn't deterred for long, spotting Tracey out of the corner of her eye, Zoe decided to finish the fight -and maybe show off a little at the same time- , she brought her leg up into a quick roundhouse kick aimed at his head. It didn't connect, Li had dropped under the kick and swept her leg out from under her, sending Zoe crashing painfully to the mats.

Tracey watched on as Li dropped back into a neutral stance and Zoe flipped back up onto her feet and the two former combatants bowed to each other and exchanged a few words that left Zoe grinning.

"Hey," Tracey greeted as Zoe bounded over to meet her, shedding her mouth guard and padded sparing mitts on the way.

"Hey you," Zoe replied, still a little out of breath from her workout, and pulled Tracey into a quick kiss.

"You're more than just my partner, aren't you?" Zoe asked once Keller and Doctor Ross had vacated the room.

Tracey was taken aback, she had been making a concentrated effort not to push things, she hadn't even touched Zoe since she had woken up. "I…what makes you say that?"

"I don't know really." Zoe shrugged. "It's just a vibe I'm getting. Do I usually get vibes? Anyway, I just…I feel something for you, that I don't quite know what it is." she put her head in her hands and sighed. "Look, if I'm wrong then I'm sorry…"

"No, you're not wrong." Tracey interrupted, shifting uneasily and looking at the floor. She was kidding herself by thinking that she could handle this. Zoe was going to have questions. How did they meet? How long have they been together? And Tracey didn't have the answers.

"Oh. Well...good."

"Good?" Tracey's head shot up in surprise. "You're not freaked out?"

"By us? No. By everything else that's happened in the last hour? Yes." Zoe grimaced and looked down at her hands, playing with the loose medical tape around the cannular stuck in the back of her hand. "I'm not saying that…I don't know what I'm saying."

Tracey gnawed on her bottom lip, a bad habit that she thought she'd grown out of when she was ten years old, she hated this. Finally she reached across and took Zoe's hand in her own, giving it a firm squeeze. "It's going to be okay."

"Sorry, I'm all sweaty." Zoe apologized, letting Tracey go and grabbing a towel to wipe herself down with.

"I don't mind. You look like you're improving."

"Yeah, I guess." Zoe agreed. She was more than just improving, thanks to the constant training -six hours a day, seven days a week, for almost eight weeks- she was at the same level of someone who had been studying for years. "I just thought that this'd be easier, you know, since I've already learnt all this stuff."

"Well…" Tracey paused, trying to think of a plausible lie that didn't include 'Well, you never actually did learn any of this stuff'. "You hadn't been in training for a long time before the accident." was the best that she could come up with.

Zoe finished wiping the sweat off the back of her neck with the towel and threw it over the bench, exchanging it for a bottle of water. "Yeah," she frowned in agreement.

"What are you up to now?"

"Shooting practice." Zoe said, putting the cap back on the bottle and setting it down.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all. Walk me?" she asked, holding out her arm for Tracey to take.

"I've been holding back." Zoe said suddenly as they exited the training room, arm in arm.


"When I'm fighting, I'm holding back."


"Because I don't want to hurt Li." Zoe explained in a serious tone. Tracey was taken aback, the old Zoe wouldn't have cared if the old man got hurt just as long as she got her own way. It was just another startling reminder that this was not the same girl Tracey had originally fallen in love with. Not that that was an altogether bad thing; Tracey was never blind to Zoe's faults. "I mean, I know it's stupid. As if I'd actually be able to hurt him, the man's got about forty years of experience on me."

"You know that if you do that out in the field it could get you killed."

"I'll work on it." Zoe said before grinning brightly, her mood changing in an instant. "Anyway, he says that I get to start my bladed weapons training tomorrow."

"Oh yeah?"

"Uh-huh." Zoe dropped Tracey's arm and bounded ahead. "Can you imagine me kicking ass with a samurai sword?" she said, hyperactively pretending to swing a sword around as she walked backwards.

"Calm down, Zo." Tracey chuckled, taking Zoe's hands in her own and turning her around. "You're not a ninja yet."

Zoe laughed and threw her arm around Tracey's shoulders. "Ninja Zoe, I like the sound of that."

"You would. What are you doing this afternoon?"

"Another session with Doctor Klein." Zoe sighed, her good mood disappearing almost entirely. "I don't see the point anymore, we just talk about the same old stuff every time, it’s been nine week and we've never make any progress. It's like they don't even want me to get my memory back!" she exclaimed in frustration.

You don't know how right you are, Tracey thought. "Well, maybe they just don't want to force it. They're professionals, they know what they're doing. You just have to trust them." What a joke, even Tracey herself wasn't convinced by her own words. "How did your last session go anyway?"

"How are you dreams? Any changes?" Doctor Klein asked, looking at Zoe over the top of her clipboard. "Have they revealed anything about your past?"

"No, they're still stuck on the same channel. All fire, all the time." Zoe sighed, picking off a piece of lint that was stuck to the fabric of her dark pants. How many times could a person ask the same question and still expect a different response? "But I guess that makes sense, right? I mean, that would be my most recent and intense memory, the accident?"

Klein nodded along to her hypothesis, careful not to give anything away. "Other than the dreams, how are you faring?"

"Same as I was the last you asked. I know things but I have no idea how I learnt them. I have scars I don't remember getting. The first twenty six years of my life are just one great, big black hole." she noticed Klein scribble something down and open her mouth to reply. "And if even think about asking how that makes me feel, I am going to jump over this desk and snap your neck."

Smirking in response, Klein set down her notes and lent across the desk. "You're still having trouble controlling those violent tendencies, I see."

"Only towards people I don't particularly like very much."

"Such as?"

"You and Keller."

"That all?"

"Well, I do have a rather limited exposure to people at the moment." Zoe said, cracking her knuckles impatiently. At first she had appreciated the counseling sessions, she hadn't wanted to burden Tracey with all her jumbled thoughts so having Doctor Klein to unload on was a welcomed relief. For the first few weeks. After that they had just become tedious and they constantly found themselves going around in circles and repeating themselves. "I'm sure there are other people in the world who'll **** me off just as badly."

"And what will you do to them? Would you hurt them?"

"What? No! Just because I make threats, doesn't mean I'm actually going to go through with them. You telling me you never say things that you don't mean, Doc?"

"Of course I do, every day in fact. However, I neither possess the training nor skill to follow through. You do. I don't know if you realize how dangerous you are, Zoe."

"I wouldn't hurt an innocent person." Zoe said gravely. If some bad guys happened to get injured or even killed in the course of a mission that was fine, expected even, but it wasn't like she was going to maim somebody for screwing up her coffee order.

"I'm glad to hear that." Klein smiled, showing off her teeth and making Zoe think that she and Keller must share the same dentist. "Now, why don't we talk about Tracey?"

"Same as the one before it." Zoe grumbled, pulling open the door to the basement which served as a shooting range.

Tracey touched her back reassuringly. "You just have to give it some time."

Zoe nodded and collected the keys to the gun locker. "Right, more time, great." she muttered to herself while Tracey set up the paper targets that they would be shooting at.

"You ready?"

"I'm going to beat your score this time." Zoe bragged, unlocking the locker and withdrawing two of the regulation 9mm pistols and two clips of ammunition.

"That's what you always say." Tracey said, rolling her eyes. "Face it, Zoe, I'm just a better shot than you are."

Zoe handed one of the guns off to Tracey and put in the noise reducing earplugs that we so vital if you didn't want to go deaf by the time you're thirty. "We'll see about that."

"Admit it," Tracey taunted. "I kicked your ass."

Zoe smiled indulgently and flicked through her wardrobe, trying to find a shirt to wear. "I know, I need to work on my triple-tapping." she acknowledged finally settling on a simple navy tank top. Pulling the shirt on over her head, she caught sight of the scars that marred her abdomen, reflected in the mirror. "Trace?" Zoe said questioningly, lifting the bottom of her shirt and trailing her fingers across the marks. They were something that she had been wondering about for a while now but hadn't worked up the courage to ask. They looked painful and Zoe wasn't sure if she particularly wanted to remember the events that had lead to her receiving them. "How'd I get these scars?"

Tracey looked up from the book she was disinterestedly glancing through while waiting for Zoe to get dressed. "I-I don't…" she struggled to come up with an answer, she could hardly tell the truth now could she. This was one of those questions she had been dreading Zoe asking.

"They look like burns." Zoe observed. "So they're probably from the accident, right?" she said unsurely, trying to rationalize it to herself.

"Probably." Tracey said quickly, latching onto Zoe's pre-existing suspicions, rather than trusting herself to come up with an convincing cover story.

Zoe nodded and dropped the bottom of her shirt down. "It's just funny because they kind of look older than the burn on my shoulder." she laughed humourlessly. "Not that I'd know the difference, anyway."

Tracey looked at Zoe sympathetically. "Come here." she instructed gently, tossing her book to the floor. Zoe stood, biting her lip for a moment before obeying.

"It's getting late." Tracey gasped out, tipping her head back to allow Zoe's mouth better access to her neck and catching sight of the clock. "I should be getting back to my room."


Tracey pushed Zoe back so she could get a good read on her expression. This had been an issue they had been dancing around for weeks. "Are you sure?" Zoe smirked and ran her hand up Tracey's side, dragging her fingernails lightly against her skin.

"You love me, right?"

"I do." Tracey confirmed quietly.

"Then I'm sure."

It was the same as it was every night. The smell of smoke, burning hair and flesh and plastic, mingling together, strong enough to make her want to gag. Flames surrounding her, the heat searing at her skin. Sometimes there were terrified screams, people calling out unfamiliar names as they searched desperately for their loved ones. Other times it was just the hiss and crackle of the fire as it devoured everything in it's path. That was par for the course, as far as Zoe's dreams went. What happened next was not.

"I always said Summer Bay would pay." echoed a disembodied yet familiar voice, to distorted for her to recognize.

Zoe awoke with a quiet gasp. "Okay, that was new." she sarcastically remarked to herself, trying to calm her frayed nerves, sweat beaded on her skin but she didn't know if it was from the nightmare or from her previous physical activities. The arm Tracey had thrown across Zoe's stomach shifted and the dark haired detective tried to bury her face further into Zoe's shoulder, the movement reminding Zoe of her presence. She had thought that having Tracey there would've helped with the dreams, obviously she was wrong.

Zoe looked down at the peacefully sleeping Tracey and kissed her hair. "What the hell happened that night?" She whispered into the mahogany locks, frowning when she felt Tracey starting to stir; she hadn't meant to wake her up.

"What's wrong?" Tracey groaned, still half asleep. She was definitely not a morning person.

"Nothing." Zoe whispered in reply. "Go back to sleep, Trace."

Tracey murmured something along the lines of "Okay," and cuddled closer to Zoe, drifting back to sleep.

Zoe knew that she probably should've said something, Tracey might've been able to shed some light on what those words had meant and who had said them, or even if they had been said at all. But she felt like this was something she had to figure out herself. Like everyone kept telling her, she just had to give it time.

"Do you know what this is about?" Zoe leaned in to whisper conspiratorially in Tracey's ear. Keller had called them early that morning -needless to say, neither woman was pleased with the interruption- and instructed them to meet him in the conference room in twenty minutes; that was half an hour ago and they were still waiting for him.

"No idea. I thought government types were supposed to be punctual." Tracey grumbled, she had to forgo her morning coffee, thanks to Keller, and she was useless without caffeine in her system.

"Well…you know that I always come on time." Zoe said with a wink, making Tracey smirk, even without her brain firing on all cylinders she got the implication.

"Sorry I'm late." Keller apologized, barging through the door.

"Why were you late?" inquired Zoe, resting her chin on her hand.

"I was unavoidably detained." Keller said, withdrawing two black files from his silver briefcase and slapping them down on the table in front of the women. "Not that it's any of your concern."

It was at that point Tracey zoned out, dropping her head to the table with a clunk, as Zoe and Keller squabbled.

"We're the ones who have been stuck waiting for you, so I'd say it is my concern."

Keller sneered. "It's classified, therefore none of your business." he said self importantly, prompting Zoe to roll her eyes and mutter "Jackass." under her breath. "Now that's no way to someone bearing such good news."

"Good news?"

Keller nodded and straightened his tie. "You've shown remarkable progress in your re-training, you've exceeded all of our expectations. The decision has been made to send you out on your first mission. Nothing too strenuous, of course."

In an attempt to make it look like she was actually paying attention to the matter at hand, Tracey lifted her head and flicked the folder open. Her mouth dropped open as she immediately recognized the man in the photograph clipped to the top of the page. It was Peter Baker.


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  • 1 month later...


Peter Baker. Tracey was too shocked to hear Keller's words as he explained the situation. It wasn't like she hadn't thought about Peter since the fire; she thought about everyone who had been in that shed. Peter, Dan, Leah, Jack, Martha, Sally...had any of them survived? Tracey couldn't see how it would be possible.

"Wait, so this guy wants revenge on Baker because his wife got shivved in prison by one of his enemies?" Zoe interrupted Keller, her voice breaking through Tracey's distraction. "And now he's going after the guy's son? That's the stupidest thing that I've ever heard! I mean, blame the people who actually killed her, sure, that I get. But Baker had nothing to do with that, he was just doing his job. To go to this extent to get revenge on someone for something that wasn't their fault...it's insane."

"Yes, well," Keller cleared his throat. Even he could appreciate the irony of Zoe saying that. "It appears that the time spent in incarceration has made Mr. Gillan a little less than stable."

Zoe raised an eyebrow at his understatement. "And he's the one behind the fire that I lost my memory in? You told me that that was an accident."

"At the time, the doctors thought it best if you were spared the details of the incident. They didn't want to cause you any unnecessary stress." Keller informed her dismissively. Zoe mulled it over and nodded, accepting Keller's version of events even if they didn't fit quite right for a reason she didn't know.

"This isn't just a babysitting assignment, is it?" she finally observed, closing the black file and looking at Keller with contempt.

"What makes you say that?"

"If it was that simple, you'd never be bringing it to me. Not when witness protection seem to already have a handle on it. It'd be a waste of my skills."

"You're right." Keller smiled proudly, his little girl was growing up so fast. "Quite frankly, this man has become rather a thorn in our collective sides and we are looking for a solution to this problem that is a little more permanent."

"You want me to kill him." Zoe said flatly. "This isn't really about protecting Peter Baker at all, is it? You want me to use him as bait to draw out Gillan and then you want me to kill him." Zoe wasn't sure how she felt about that. She knew that Gillan was not a good person, not even just a slightly bad one. The man was evil, that much was clear. But could she assassinate him just because it was too much work for the government to keep him in jail?

"Essentially? Yes. The rest of the details are in the file. Read it, memorize it." Keller instructed, clicking his briefcase shut. "You leave the first thing in the morning."

And with that he turned to leave the room, Tracey stared at his retreating back and made a snap decision, this might be her only chance to confront him. Briefly touching the back of Zoe's head, to let her know to stay where she was, Tracey jumped up from her chair and followed Keller out into the hall.

"What the hell are you thinking?" she asked angrily, once she heard the door click shut behind her, making Keller stop in his tracks. "How could you possibly think having Zoe and Peter in the same room would be a good idea?"

"I'm sorry, I wasn't aware I answered to you."

"Do you want her memory to come back?" Tracey asked, ignoring his snide remark. "Because if anything was going to do it-"

"Exactly." Keller smirked. "This is a test. You're absolutely right, if Zoe's memory was ever going to return, returning to Summer Bay and coming face to face with Peter Baker would be the trigger it needed. And if her memory does return, then it's best if it happens now, before we invest too much money into her."

"Invest?" Tracey couldn't believe what she was hearing. "What if her memory does come back? What happens then?"

"Then we wipe it again."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"Then we terminate the project and chalk it up to a failed experiment." Keller said without a hint of feeling.

"And by terminate you mean-" Tracey asked slowly, she already had a fairly good idea of what the answer would be but she needed to hear it for herself.

"We'll kill her." was the remorseless reply. "Don't worry, it'll be quite painless, just like putting a rabid dog to slee-" Keller's head was snapped to the side by the force of Tracey's slap. Licking the blood from his now badly split lip, Keller slowly turned his stinging face back to the enraged former detective. "I am going to let that slide, but if I were in your precarious position I would think twice before doing it again." he said with an unsettling calm. "After all, the only reason you're here is on my say-so. You're expendable. I say the word and you'll find yourself residing in a luxurious 5x7 cell at the nearest maximum security facility."

Tracey clenched her fists by her sides in an effort to keep herself under control. "Peter would never agree to this," she said, trying to get off the subject of expendability. "He's going to blow the whole thing."

"On the contrary, Detective Baker is perfectly willing to co-operate, in fact when I spoke to him about it, he welcomed the idea with open arms. Did you really think that we wouldn't have cleared it with him first?" he waited for an answer that didn't come. "I suggest you go and prepare yourself for the mission, your future here does depend on it's success."

"Everything okay?" Zoe questioned when Tracey re-entered the room. "You rushed out pretty quick."

"Uh, yeah," Tracey said slowly, flipping her hair back out of her face. "There were just something that I need to clear up with Keller. Listen, about Peter-"


"Look, we've had...encounters with him before and...just don't be surprised if he's not all that...nice to us."

"Let me guess, personality clash?"

"Something like that." Tracey replied uncomfortably. Well, it was kind of true.

"Yeah well," Zoe sighed laconically, throwing her arms over Tracey's shoulders. "We'll jump off that bridge when we come to it," she tucked a strand of Tracey's hair back behind her ear. "Are you sure that that's all that's bothering you? You're acting kind of weird."

"Yeah, I just wanted to let you know what you're in for with Peter."

"You sure?"

Tracey smiled and kissed the concerned blonde. "I'm sure."

Zoe grinned back and caught sight of her watch as she folded her arms around Tracey's neck. "Oh! I'm late for training with Master Li!" she exclaimed. "I gotta go. Meet me for lunch?"

"Unless I get a better offer."

"Oh, very funny."

"So what's he like?"

Tracey pulled her attention from the passing scenery and focused on her lover. "What's who like?" she asked needlessly, she knew exactly who Zoe was talking about.

"Peter Baker."

"Peter? He's-" How to describe Peter Baker? Especially to his former arch enemy. "stubborn, predictable, self-righteous, arrogant-"

"No wonder we didn't get along. I don't suppose he has any redeeming qualities?"

"Well...he's loyal. He'll do anything to protect the people that he loves. He's a terrible cop though." Tracey said, rolling her eyes.

Zoe opened her mouth to reply but was cut off when the driver informed them that they were almost there.

"You ready for this?" Tracey asked, trying to ignore the butterflies in her own tummy.

"I suppose. Gotta get back on the horse sometime." Zoe mused as the car pulled into the driveway of a non-descript weatherboard house.

"Right." Tracey agreed uneasily.

"We're here." The driver said as the car pulled to a stop.

"Nice digs." Zoe commented on the interior of the house.

"Yeah, it's real homey." One of the witness protection officers, McKay, said sarcastically. He had good reason to be bitter, for three months he and his partner had been stuck babysitting Peter Baker and now they were being kicked off the without so much as an explanation.

"I suppose we should introduce you to his royal highness." McKay's partner, Robbins, remarked. During his stay with them, Peter had done nothing to endear himself to his reluctant protectors. "This way."

The fluttery feeling in the pit of Tracey's tummy intensified with every step they took. McKay lead the way, Zoe trailing behind him with Robbins just behind Tracey.

"Is he okay?" Tracey asked the tall man quietly.

"Baker? Oh yeah, he's fine." Robbins boomed, making Tracey cringe. "Well enough to bitch about wanting to go home all the time. If I wasn't contractually obligated to keep him safe, I'd let him just run out of here and get himself killed if that's what he really wants. Oh well," he sighed. "He'll be your problem soon enough."

McKay knocked on the white door at the end of the hall. "Peter, you've got a visitor." he said in a sing song voice.

As the locked clicked and the handle turned, the butterflies that had previously been residing in Tracey's stomach leapt into her throat. The door drew back and she forced herself to swallow the lump in her throat and then there he was; Peter Baker and quite frankly he looked like sh*t.

"Meet your new captors, Petey." Robbins said. "Try not to give them as hard a time as you gave us."

Tracey looked at Zoe's face, it was completely expressionless, no reaction, no recognition whatsoever. Her sigh of relief was almost audible.

"Hello," Peter greeted with a grimace. He had been preparing himself for this moment ever since that man with disturbingly perfect teeth had come and offered it to him. It was obvious to him now that he still wasn't ready. He'd never thought he'd see the day when Zoe McCallister looked at him with anything but hate in her eyes. He searched her face for any sign that she knew who he was, who he really was to her, and found none. For that he was grateful, he could not deal with Zoe trying to kill him again on top of everything else.

"Hi," Zoe smiled back blankly.

"Is that all?" Peter asked the men testily, his back was killing him and even standing with the doorframe supporting half his weight, was agony.

"You see what we have to put up with?" McKay sighed to Zoe. "Alright, alright. You can go back to watching your Blue Heelers dvd's princess."

"I gotta say," Robbins said once Peter had retreated back to the safety of his room. "I do not envy you guys."

"Thanks," said Zoe sarcastically.

"Well our stuff's all packed and we're ready to go but there's one more thing before we get out of your hair."

"One thing?"

"This way," Robbins nodded to the door on his left. "You know about the photo's right? Of course you do, that's why you're here," he answered his own question. "Anyway, this is the computer that they're sent to. Every week or so we get another batch." He tapped on the outer casing of the laptop. "I'll be buggered as to how he got the Outlook address."

"Can I see the pictures?" Zoe asked curiously. "I'd like to see what were dealing with."

"Sure, they're all just on the Desktop, knock yourselves out."

"Hi," Tracey greeted as Peter entered the kitchen area. As he had all day, Peter ignored her and withdrew a clean glass to fill with tap water. Zoe, he had no problem with, but Tracey he was down right ice cold to.

"Are you sure you should be taking so many of those?" Tracey asked, watching Peter popping pills over the rim of her coffee cup.

"They're pills for pain. I'm in pain." Peter snapped. The withdrawal symptoms combining with the ache in his ribs and back making him uncharacteristically surly. "You remember that time that you and your girlfriend blew up one of my best friend's wedding receptions? It kind of hurt."

"That wasn't us and you know it." Tracey replied passively.

"So what exactly was your plan there?"

"I don't know, I never asked." she admitted quietly.

"How could you do it, Tracey? I just don't get it, how could you be with her?" Peter asked, his bad mood subsiding as the drugs made their way through his system.

Tracey looked away. Not because she was ashamed, because she wasn't, but because she didn't want to see the disapproval in Peter's eyes. "You don't know what she's like when it's just us, she's...I love her."

"She's insane."

"No. She's not." Peter couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You don't understand. Peter, she has been hurt by every single person that was supposed to care about her. Sarah Lewis was just the last in a long line, she snapped."

"And she hurt people, she killed them. You saw what she was going to do to Jack."

"But she's not like that when she's with me, is what I'm trying to say. It was an act."

"How did you even meet?" Peter asked, trying to make sense of all of this. This was not the Tracey Thompson that he knew.

"Like I told you, I saw her working in a hospital in the city while I there interviewing a suspect, I wasn't sure it was really her at first-"

"So you knew who and what she was?" He angrily interrupted. Peter had been labouring under the delusion that Tracey had known Zoe for years before she became Zoe McCallister, that they'd grown up together. Not that that would've excused her behaviour but at least it would've made it more understandable.


"How could you?"

"She made me happy...and I hadn't been happy for a very long time, Peter."

"What, so that makes it okay, does it?"

"No. I'm not trying to justify this." Tracey corrected him. "And I'm not trying to get you to change your mind about her...or us. You asked a question and I was trying to give you an honest answer."

"That'd be a first." Peter mumbled under his breath, even though he knew it wasn't true.

"She really is different now, she doesn't remember any of it..." Making no progress with that thread of conversation, Tracey changed her approach. "Keller said that you agreed to this, why was that?"

"Because I needed to see it for myself."

"And what do you think?"

Peter shifted on his stool. "I think that she is different," he conceded. "But I don't know how long it'll last."

"You think that she'll revert back to form." Tracey slipped back into cop speak.

"A leopard can't change it's spots." Peter shrugged in response. Tracey could have told him that Zoe wasn't born that way, she could've told him about the abuse. But she didn't because it would've been a major betrayal of the younger woman's trust.

"What are you going to do once this is all over?"

"I'm not going to dob her in, if that's what you're asking."

"I wasn't but that's good to know. I meant, what are you going to do with yourself?"

"What do you mean?"

"I meant that you have an addictive personality. That's not a good thing." Tracey said pointedly when Peter began to smile. Arrogant shmuck. "I meant that you're addicted to being obsessed. You need something in your life to obsess over. Cases, people, Zoe. You said it yourself, this case has been your life for three years, are you going to be able to let it go? Or are you going to have to wait until another addiction comes along to replace it?"

Peter stared through her, absently rolling the bottle of painkillers between his fingers. "If you can keep her under control then I can let it go," he said unconvincingly. "I'm going to bed, it's been a long day."

"Yeah, sitting around watching Desperate Housewives must be very tiring for you."

Peter paused and looked back over his shoulder. "It is a very complex show."

"I think that we should tell him." Zoe informed Tracey. That morning the latest batch of photos of an unconscious Drew had arrived, along with a lovely note, meant to inform Peter that if he did not act soon then his son would die.

"If we do that then Peter is going to go after him, there'll be no stopping him."

"Maybe but he deserves to know."

"Deserves to know what?" Peter asked, unexpectedly rounding the corner and straight into their, what was supposed to be confidential, conversation.

"Nothing." said Tracey quickly prompting Zoe to touch her hand, letting Tracey know that there was no point in trying to lie about it now.

"Yeah, like I'm going to believe that." Peter scoffed.

"It's okay." Zoe whispered to Tracey, out of the corner of her mouth.

"I hope you know what you're doing." Tracey whispered back.

"Would one of you please tell me what's going on?" Peter asked, his agitation getting the better of him.

Zoe didn't hold back. "There's something that you need to see."

"What is this?" Peter asked, clicking through the pictures on the screen.

"Apparently, there was a leak on the witness protection side of things, Dennis Gillan knows that you're alive, he just doesn't know where." Zoe explained. "So he's been targeting your son for weeks to try and lure you out of hiding. First he blackmailed one of the constables at the Yabbie Creek police station to frame Drew for arson. When that failed, Gillan upped the ante. He started attacking Drew and sending pictures of him here along with notes warning you that if you didn't come out of hiding soon, your son would be killed. The witness protection agents didn't want you to know but I thought that you had a right to-"

"Where's Drew now?" Peter asked urgently, a thousand different scenarios running through his head.

"As far as I know, he's in a town called Summer Bay, he's been staying with your brother and his wife."

"I have to go to him, I have to help him!"

"You can't!" Tracey exclaimed. "This is exactly what Gillan wants, to draw you out of hiding. You'd be playing right into his hands." Not that that'd be anything new for him.

"I don't care!" he shouted, spit flying from his mouth. "I can't just sit around here, twiddling my thumbs, while Drew is in danger."


"No, Tracey!" he snapped and turned his attention to the quietly observing Zoe. "Zoe please, he's my son."

Zoe nodded, pulling the keys to the car from her pocket and holding them up. "You can't bring him back here."

"I know."

"And if you see Gillan, you do not under any circumstances engage him." Peter nodded, what she was saying made sense but he couldn't make any verbal promises. Satisfied with this, Zoe tossed him the keys. "Go and keep out of sight."

Peter caught the keys in one hand. He never thought a day would come when he was grateful to Zoe McCallister. Tracey was right, she really had changed. "Thank you." he said sincerely and rushed out the door.

"You're letting him go out there by himself? Gillan will be after him the second he sets foot in Summer Bay." Tracey said as the front door slammed shut, then she noticed Zoe's completely unconcerned demeanor. "But you already know that, don't you. You wanted Peter to overhear us."

Zoe shrugged and looked away. "I'm sick of waiting for Gillan to figure out where Peter is. I'm just doing what Keller told me too."

"So you're using an innocent man as bait?" Tracey hadn't seen Zoe display that kind of deviousness since before the mind wipe. It was rather worrying.

"This is going to work." Zoe said confidently. "Trust me."

Keeping his face hidden under his hood and behind dark sunglasses, Peter drove through the town he had once called home in a desperate search for his son. So far he had had no luck and time was running out.

Driving with no regard to the speed limit, the car screeched around a corner, narrowly missing Alf Stewart as he stepped out onto the road.

"You flaming mongrel!" Alf shouted, shaking his fist at the departing vehicle. "Bloody yahoos."

Peter allowed himself a small chuckle, he didn't think that he was ever going to hear that voice again. And then there, up ahead he spotted a dark haired boy. It was him, Drew, skulking his way down the road with a rucksack slung over his shoulder. Where was he going? It didn't matter.

To Peter's relief, he didn't seem to be harmed. But that relief proved to be short lived when Drew started to pick up his pace and looking over his shoulder in agitation, the reason why quickly became apparent. A large black car loomed behind him, quickly gaining ground on the frightened teen.

Peter acted on instinct, flooring the accelerator, sending the car barreling down the road. He had to get to Drew first. The car went into a slide as Peter swerved to avoid hitting his son but he wasn't entirely successful. Drew bounced off the tail-end of the car and before he knew it some guy in a white hooded sweatshirt was knocking him out and throwing his unconscious body into the back seat of a beat up old Holden.

Peter looked at his comatose son reflected in the rearview mirror as he sped away from the scene with Gillan in hot pursuit. He didn't want to hurt Drew, what kind of father would he be if he did? But it was the fastest and safest way to get him out of the situation.

Using all of his local knowledge, Peter weaved through the streets, managing to loose Gillan's car along the way.

And then there was the question of what to do next. He couldn't take Drew back to the safe house, Zoe had made that clear. Then the answer hit him. There was a disused farm just five minutes up the road he was currently on. He'd first discovered the property during the search for Zoe's hideout, little did they know at the time how close to home her hideout truly was. To be honest the number of abandoned properties they'd discovered in the area had left Peter a little stunned.

He pulled the car off the main road following the dirt track down to the dilapidated barn and parked it. They'd have to stay there for the time being, it was far too dangerous to stay out in the open with Gillan still out there.

He pulled the back door of the car open and slung Drew's limp body over his shoulders. Carrying his son into the barn, Peter wondered when he could've gotten so big. Picking up a dirty and torn tarp on the way out, Peter locked the doors to the barn behind him, he didn't need Drew getting up and running off before he heard the whole story. Once he was satisfied the car was covered, Peter withdrew the mobile phone, he had lifted from his son, from the pocket of his jeans and dialed in the number of the safe house. He knew that he wasn't going to be able to handle this on his own.

"Yeah, I found him, he's with me." he spoke into the phone urgently. "You think I don't know that? Gillan was after him, I wasn't just going to let that scum bag take him...We're at an abandoned farm on Hamptons Road, there's a dirt track the leads to the house about half a kilometer down from the turn off into Old Creek Road. Okay...Look, I've got it, alright? Just hurry up and get here." Peter clicked the end call button with a lot more force than what was needed. It had been Tracey who'd answered the phone and she reminded him that he was the only one from their old life who was supposed to know that they were still alive. If he wanted their help, he needed to get rid of Drew before they got there.

Muffled yells from inside the barn alerted him to the fact that his son was awake. It was about time, Peter had started to get worried that Drew had inherited his propensity for unconsciousness. Removing his hood, Peter mentally prepared himself what was to come.

"So what's the plan?" Tracey asked, turning the car onto Hamptons Road.

Zoe was silent, focused on steeling herself for what she was going to have to do. "Is that the turn off?" she finally spoke.

"I think so."

"Okay, pull over here, we'll go in on foot." she said, deciding that stealth was more important than speed. The element of surprise was one of the most deadly weapons to have in your arsenal, Master Li had taught her that.

Tracey pulled the car to side of the road and, before they could get out, a black car thundered past and turned off onto the dirt track, sending a cloud of dust flying up into the atmosphere.

"Gillan?" Zoe rhetorically questioned.


"Let's go."

"That's the big, bad Dennis Gillan?" Zoe laughed quietly. After a short run through the bush, she and Tracey had reached the farmhouse and were now couched down behind a feeding trough watching events unfold. "I thought he'd be taller," she remarked, wondering how such a tiny, troll like little man could inspire so much fear in so many people.

"I can't believe it." she said, as Gillan yelled at Drew to hurry up and get out of there. "He's just letting the kid go? This guy fails at being a criminal mastermind, you don't leave witnesses alive." Tracey raised an eyebrow at Zoe's matter of fact tone. "Well, you don't. Not if you don't want to get caught."

"Come on." Tracey urged as Gillan gave Peter a shove to get him moving. "We've got to get inside."

Come on, Zoe. Peter thought feverishly as Gillan and his goon herded him into the barn. If it was just Gillan, Peter knew that he could've handled it himself, no problem, but with the much larger henchman accompanying him and possibly more in the car, he knew that he would've have no chance of coming out of it alive on his own. Where are you?

"Who would've thought it would come to this?" Gillan taunted, withdrawing a revolver from inside his jacket. "You shouldn't have crossed me, Petey. And you definitely shouldn't have killed my wife."

"That's bull!" Peter spat back. "I had nothing to do with that!"

"It's your fault that she was in there!" The mafia boss screamed, his entire head turning bright red. "An eye for an eye, the only part of the bible I agree with." he leveled the gun at Peter's heart. "Any last words?"

Peter noticed movement in the shadows behind the two men and fought to keep the smile off his face. "Just two."

"And what's that?"

"Behind you."

Gillan whirled around to be greeted with Zoe's fist meeting his face at the same time her other hand took hold of his wrist, wrenching it painfully and forcing him to drop the gun which she caught before it could hit the ground. It was over in less than five seconds.

The gunshot was almost deafening in the confined space. Gillan stumbled back, his hand clutching at the rapidly spreading bloodstain caused by the bullet that had entered his chest and was currently lodged somewhere in his lungs. "Bitch," he rasped, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth. His final word.

Fearing that he would suffer the same fate as his boss, the goon, Roy Clarke, ran for the door. He did not get paid enough to go through this kind of crap.

Peter had to reach out and grab Zoe's arm to stop her from going after him. "What are you doing?"

"My job." Zoe shrugged off his hand.

He watched her sprint out the wooden doors and turned to Tracey who was checking for Gillan's pulse. "You really sure that she's changed?"

Roy ran for the car, his ticket out of there, with Zoe in hot pursuit, he had a head start but she was gaining on him quickly. Especially when he had to stop and struggle with unlocking the car door before ripping it open. Zoe grabbed the man's short hair as he attempted to dive into the drivers seat and pulled his head back, exposing his throat. "Sorry." she apologized, pulling her knife from it's sheath on the back of her belt and slashing it across his throat. Blood instantly started spraying from the wound, soaking the interior of the car and covering Zoe's hand. "Eve, if you don't put down the knife then you go back into the closet. And this time it won't just be for the day!"

Instantly she released Roy and stepped back, her blood covered hands shaking as confusion took over. "They killed him, they killed my Felix. It's all their fault!" "The phoenix will rise from the ashes." "Sarah's dead, she shot herself." "I know, I've got you on my list." "I hope I don't freak you out by saying this, but I want you to know. I love you." "They know who you are, Eve." "I love you, Trace." "I win." "Let her go, take me instead!"

"I always said Summer Bay would pay."

Eve's hand hovered over the tea-towel wrapped knife that she had hidden in her bag. This was it, she did this and there would be no turning back.

When she had first heard of Sarah's death she had started making plans, thinking about what she'd do to make them pay, make them suffer for what they did. At the time they were just fantasies, dreams, a way for Eve to keep her mind occupied so she wouldn't have to think about what was going to happen to her now that she had lost the one person in the world who truly understood her, who really loved her. She never intended for anything to come of them and then she met Zoe. It was a sign, it was fate. Finally, Eve realized that she had found the purpose she had been longing for so desperately. This was her destiny.

But even knowing that it was destined didn't mean it was easy. She liked Zoe, she was her friend, but Eve knew it was a sacrifice that she had to make if she wanted her plans to succeed. If she couldn't kill Zoe then there was no point to any of it, she may as well just continue on her way and forget the whole thing. And she couldn't do that. She wouldn't do that. Sarah deserved justice. Sarah deserved to be remembered.

"Eve, come on!" Zoe urged impatiently, snapping Eve out of her moment of indecision.

"I'm coming!" Eve chirped, slipping the knife into her back pocket and picking up the camera.

"About time." grumbled Zoe good-naturedly, taking the camera from Eve and throwing an arm around her shoulders, not noticing the other girl's distraction. "Smile." she instructed as Eve bent her legs to fit into the shot with the much shorter girl. Eve forced a smile as the camera shutter clicked shut. "There, that wasn't so hard, was it?"

Zoe didn't even see it coming.

The knife slashed across her throat in a flash of silver and red. Blood immediately began gushing from the severed artery. She let out a strangled gurgle as she fell, her legs unable to support her. Eve caught her on the way down and gently lowered the dying girl's twitching body to the ground. When Eve pressed the towel to Zoe's throat, to minimize the amount of blood she'd have to clean up later, Zoe looked up at her with tearful eyes that asked only question. Why?

"I'm sorry." Eve whispered her voice ragged with emotion as tears stung at her own eyes. "I-I take no pleasure in this." she admitted earnestly, as though it would somehow bring the other girl comfort in her final moments. She felt sick to her stomach, every instinct she had was screaming at her to do something, to help her, even if it was too late. She was trained to save lives, not take them. Eve bowed her head, unable to maintain eye contact as Zoe's pulse slowed, the blood leaking from her throat no longer a flood but spasmodic squirts. "I'm so sorry."

And just like that Zoe McCallister; five foot two, black hair, registered nurse, died and was reborn in the same moment; five foot eight, blonde hair, registered nurse. Killer.

Zoe looked down at the body, that's how she had to think of her now -not her friend, not the sweet naive girl who made the mistake of trusting the wrong person, not Zoe- and felt guilt; this was a good thing, she rationalized, if she didn't feel guilt then she wouldn't be human. But she also felt relief that she had made the first step, she'd always had a problem with getting things started and, after all, everyone knows it gets easier after your first time.

"Zoe?" Tracey and Peter cautiously approached her. "Zoe, are you okay?"

Zoe looked up at them miserably. "That's not my name."

Oh God. Tracey felt like she had just been sucker punched. She told Keller that this would happen. Peter tensed, bracing himself for the inevitable attack, now that Zoe's memories seemed to have returned there was no reason for him not to think that she wouldn't just pick up where she left off.

But the attack never came. Instead Zoe ran, jumping the wooden fence and taking off into the bush before either of them could make a move to stop her.

"Get rid of this." Tracey said blankly, nodding at the car with Roy Clarke's body half hanging out of it. "I have to-"

"Yeah, go." Peter said quickly, he didn't want Zoe running loose anymore than Tracey did. "I'll take care of it."

Zoe wasn't hard to find. Screaming swear words and driving her fists into the wide trunk of a eucalyptus tree. Venting her rage as twenty three years of pain came flooding back, threatening to overwhelm her completely. The skin of her swollen knuckles spilt, leaving bloody marks against the bark but she didn't stop. It was only when the strength to lift her hands deserted her completely did she start crying. She turned and let her back hit the tree, sliding down to the ground, sobbing into her bleeding hands.

For the first time she was seeing her actions from an outsider's perspective. She was seeing them for what they were; insane. She was no better than Dennis Gillan. No, she was worse. Not only did she target those involved in Sarah's death, she hurt innocent people who'd had nothing to do with it; The real Zoe McCallister, the helicopter pilot, Marc Edwards...Kim.

All she had ever wanted was to help people like her, who had been hurt like she had been. And she was good at it too. Maybe too good. Her superiors were always telling her that she cared too much, warning her not to get too involved. It was a weakness that patients could exploit. A weakness that one patient eventually had exploited. Sarah Lewis played on Eve's sympathies, spinning her a sob story about her traumatic childhood that may or may not have been true. Making Eve think that she had found a kindred spirit. Someone that she could confide in about the things that happened to her without getting a shocked reaction.

Most would reply with a horrified gasp if you told them that one of your foster families used your ten year old arms to stub their lit cigarettes out on, but not Sarah, she understood just how evil people could be. She understood that for every one decent, good person there was another ten who would be needlessly cruel just because they could. Or at least she said she did.

"I am such an idiot." Looking back now, Zoe saw Sarah for what she was; an unfortunate girl suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, brought on by chronic abuse the of crystal meth, with little chance of recovery. Nothing more. Not her soulmate, not her one true love. She was nothing. "She never loved me...she was using me."

She had hurt so many people, all because of one girl's lies. Tracey watched as Zoe let her head fall back against the tree, tears freely flowing down her cheeks and Tracey knew that she was looking at a woman who's entire belief system had just been shattered.

"Zoe-" Tracey crouched down in front of her and reached out to touch her mangled hands, only to have Zoe flinch away from her hand.

"Don't." Zoe's voice trembled as she wrapped her arms around her stomach and folded in on herself.

"Zoe, you have to understand that I did it to protect you." Tracey struggled to explain. "They were going to go ahead with it whether I went along with it or not-"

"That's...that's not what I'm upset about." Zoe sniffled. "Tracey, how could you love me after everything that I've done?"

"All that stuff doesn't matter to me. Zoe, you know that."

"It should matter. I should be in prison."

Tracey took Zoe by the shoulders and forced the broken girl to look at her. "But you're not."

"I should've died in that fire," she said in a smaller voice.

"Don't say that, don't ever say that."

Zoe swallowed hard and looked away. "I don't know what to do," she admitted.

"You're going to have to make a choice." Tracey said. "If Keller finds out that your memory has returned, he's just going to have it wiped again."

"If he can find me." Zoe thought out loud.

Tracey couldn't help the smirk that spread across her lips. "Are you suggesting that we run away?"

"Maybe, do you think that we'd be able to make it out of the country?" Zoe just wanted to forget that the past three years had ever happened, she wanted to start again.

"I'm willing to find out." Because the truth was, wherever Zoe went Tracey would follow. It's just the way it was.

"Peter, hurry up, you don't want to be late for your own New Years party." Amanda urged, trailing a hand across his back as she passed behind him, switching her emerald earrings for diamond ones that better matched her dress.

"I'll be down in a minute, I just have to check my email. I'm waiting on some files from Steve."

"Well okay, but don't be too long," she leaned over his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "I'll be downstairs sorting out the waiters, I swear you can't even hire good help in this town."

Peter touched her hand and watched her leave the room before turning his attention back to the computer screen. He frowned when one email in a particular caught his eye. He cautiously opened it and was greeted with two simple words. Thank you - TT.

So much had happened since that day out in the bush, sometimes it all seemed like a dream. It hadn't been hard spinning a cover story, Peter just told everyone that he was the one who shot Gillan and scared his flunky away. Nobody questioned it. And with everything that had happened since then, it hadn't been as difficult as it should've been not to focus on the fact that Zoe was still out there. But now here was proof, staring him in the face. The only question was what he was going to do with it.

He could take it into the department techs, they could trace the email address, the IP number and find out where it came from and the all consuming hunt for Zoe McCallister would once again be on. Or...

His finger hovered over the delete button. Or he could get a head start on his New Years resolution. A rueful smile spread across his face as the email was wiped from his inbox.

Peter Baker was letting go.



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