Brother's Keeper

Even though he allowed his gaze to bounce all about the room, Yuri Petrov never lost sight of the man seated opposite him. Stefan Cassadine sat behind a heavy dark desk positioned in the center of the room, a sheaf of paperwork spread out atop a blotter.

They were currently in the private study at Wyndemere. It was a serious room that hinted at back-room deals and decisions that changed the course of governments. From the richly polished shelves filled with leather bound tomes to the authentic Grecian antiquities that dotted the room, the study was in all ways a reflection of its owner.

The room's modern touches were also representative of the man who had made the study his own. On the front right corner of the desk sat an unusually thin computer monitor. Seemingly transparent from the back (a feat created by a series of processors which recreated the visual pixels displaced by the monitor’s physical presence), the newly-created technology was a gift from Stefan’s wife Faith, and available only to the Russian billionaire.

"Your decision?" Yuri prompted after some moments of silence passed. The Cassadine Head of Security wasn't impatient with his employer's extended silence. He knew all too well how completely the Russian billionaire gave his attention to matters at hand. Yuri only initiated the conversation in an unspoken offer to play the role of devil’s advocate against his employer’s logic.

The decision in question involved the fate of Doctor William Ellsworth Barrington III of Boston, Massachusetts. He was a world acclaimed evolutionary biologist (though in truth he possessed multiple degrees in various disciplines). The doctor had been among the first group of experts consulted by Stefan Cassadine regarding the Event Extinction discovery made by his wife’s hacker coalition.

Dr. Barrington had been intrigued and impressed by the scenario Stefan put before them. What was being considered was nothing less than the creation of a new world, a world the doctor would have a major role in crafting. The idea appealed to his inflated sense of ego and he congratulated Yuri’s employer for having the vision to even consider the attempt.

The doctor’s admiration waned after being introduced to the Russian billionaire's wife. It troubled Barrington that Stefan had chosen to dilute a bloodline relatively unchanged over centuries. Not even discovery of Faith’s Quartermaine heritage was enough to ease the doctor’s dismay.

‘I imagine your choice of life partners was an emotional one,’ Barrington offered boldly. He spoke only as a biological purist, the doctor insisted. Yuri suspected that the arrogant scientist was emboldened by his value to their undertaking.

"Barrington is to be included." Stefan Cassadine made a note in the leather-bound journal atop his desk. "His level of expertise supersedes any personal distaste I might have for the man."

Master Stefan might have chosen to ignore the other man’s views for the sake of their undertaking, but Yuri had no intention of allowing the Doctor unsupervised conversations with the Mistress. No matter how pragmatic Stefan Cassadine might seem, an ill-spoken comment from the doctor would undoubtedly result in dangerous ramifications for him- no matter his worth.

“Then only one matter remains,” Yuri noted.

“Yes. The matter of Doctor Kevin Collins.” Stefan removed his wire-rimmed glasses and gently pinched the bridge of his nose.

"You seem no closer to a decision than you were before." It was neither a question nor an accusation.

"No." A wince accompanied the response, as though the very admission caused physical pain. Yuri Petrov knew that any type of indecision vexed his employer. Stefan Cassadine was not a man to wrestle at length over any matter.

"What troubles you most about this inclusion?” Yuri began the now-familiar discussion. It was the third time they had gone over the pros and cons of extending an offer of inclusion to Port Charles' resident psychiatrist, Kevin Collins. A place for Kevin's young protégé, Lainey Winters, had already been secured.

“Doctor Collins is essentially an unknown quantity, though he is well-regarded by both colleagues and patients. Barbara speaks highly of him. As does Nikolas."

“Only a small number of that group are aware of the doctor’s …episodes," Yuri pointed out.

"True. And it is the existence of those episodes that concern me," Stefan frowned. "If the state of Dr. Collins' sanity were merely a security matter, there would be no discussion.” During their very first security meeting, Stefan laid out a set of guidelines for Yuri to observe when handling a possible threat to the endeavor they were attempting. The head of Cassadine Security was not bothered by his employer’s instructions. As always, they contained quite a considerable amount of leeway.

“You have proven yourself more than capable of handling the likes of Helena and Stavros,” Stefan continued. “Doctor Collins is hardly on that level. Still, is his presence an acceptable risk? Should the doctor's psyche fracture, we would lose the benefit of his training, as well as having to deal with a dead body.”

"It is possible that we will have already dealt with that situation," Yuri pointed out. Stefan's initial panel of experts had agreed that it was unlikely everyone would survive the stress of shutting out the world and trusting their fates to an irreversible course of action. "I do not believe that everyone chosen for this endeavor will be as prepared for the moment of crisis as they believe.”

Yuri's words were a reminder of the precarious nature of what they were about to attempt. The odds of success were already virtually nonexistent; any missteps would eliminate even that.

Stefan reached for his glasses. "I am inclined to consider Doctor Collins more resource than risk, and trust that in doing so I have not erred.” He made a brief notation. “He will be included.”

Yuri made a mental note to add Kevin Collins to his list of people who would receive his personal, close attention. If the doctor even gave the appearance of fracturing, Yuri would eliminate him as a problem. Permanently. And before any damage might occur


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