The subway car jarred slightly as it slowed down. Dr. Henry Morgan woke up from his short nap and, embarrassed that he'd fallen asleep in public - on the subway, no less - he looked around at the other passengers, both seated and standing. It was New York, after all. Fully-awake people fell victim to any number of crimes in this teeming metropolis every day. No need to make the perps' jobs any easier by dozing off and giving them an open invitation to harm you at will.
On the sideways seat directly across from him sat a woman with a girl of about six years old seated next to her. The child, dressed in pink overalls in blue trim and matching tennis shoes, eyed Henry with great fascination and she shyly returned his smile. He then thought to check to make sure he hadn't, God forbid, drooled. Thankfully, he hadn't. Then he checked to see if he still had his pocket watch and was relieved to find that he did. Satisfied that no one seemed to be in the least bit interested that he'd taken a little nap, he stood up and prepared to exit the train.
It also appeared that no one else was interested in the strange light that now filled the tunnel ahead. The bright, yellow light with a white hue at it's edges appeared to swirl counter-clockwise permitting an opening of sorts in the center to open wider and wider as the train approached. Panicked to the point of being speechless, he gripped the railing next to the door, shutting his eyes as the train passed through it. His panic level gradually eased as he felt no ill effects from it other than a slight pulling and snapping effect to his body. He opened his eyes and noticed that the train had reached his stop. Henry shook his head and told himself that the strange light must have been a remnant of a dream from his nap or simply a problem for the subway system's maintenance department to address.
He found a spot in the shoulder-shoving crowd exiting the car, inching slowly forward so as not to step on anyone's toes. As the crowd shifted its direction and headed toward the stairs and escalators, he noticed that the woman with the child was directly in front of him. But the child now appeared to be a boy dressed in blue overalls with dark blue trim and matching shoes. How could he have mistaken the boy to be at first a girl? He again brushed it off, assigning his prior confusion to a partial waking state.
'That's all it was,' he told himself. 'Just a muddled brain when first awakening.'
He eventually found more room around him that allowed him to jog up the stairs and out of the station. Once out onto the streets above, it was little more than a five-minute walk to the antique shop he shared with his son, Abe. The shop would be closed by now since he'd left work well after 7:30 PM so he took out his key and inserted it into the lock once he arrived. But it didn't work. He turned the key over in his hand, making sure it was the right one and tried it again and again. Had Abe gotten a locksmith to change the locks that day? Fighting fatigue and hunger, he impatiently rapped his knuckles on the door's glass window and waited. Finally, he saw the outline of a figure descend the stairs at the back of the darkening shop and pause.
"Abe," Henry called from the other side of the door. "Stop playing around and open the door. I'm hungry and it's been a long day."
The figure, presumably Abe, resumed approaching the door, although still a bit too slowly to satisfy Henry. As Abe, with a less-than-welcoming look on his face, gradually emerged from the shadows, he came to stand on the other side of the door. Henry was confused by this peculiar behavior. Abe was looking at him almost as if he ... didn't like him. Henry dismissed it as his son having found yet another way to tease him.
"Look, Abe," Henry told him tiredly, "I've no time for any of your games. Open the door, please." He gratefully stepped into the shop when Abe unlocked the door and held it open for him. While Abe re-locked the door, Henry sniffed to take in the delicious smell of tonight's dinner but smelled nothing. He frowned at Abe, surprised that there was no evidence of the dinner he'd been promised in celebration of the 11th Precinct having solved their 100th homicide, a particularly difficult one, with his help.
"No lemon chicken?" Henry asked, genuinely disappointed. "Or was it so delicious that you decided to eat it all yourself?" he asked, deciding to turn the teasing tables on his son. He chuckled uneasily as Abe brushed past him without saying a word and with the same unwelcoming look on his face. Henry's frown returned as he walked uncertainly behind his son. Just before they reached the stairs, he reached out and placed his hand on Abe's shoulder and startled at his reaction. Abe brushed his hand away and spun around to face him, his hands on his hips.
"You've got a lot of nerve waltzing in here all jokesy like nothing's wrong!" Abe snapped at him. For just a second, a new awareness flashed across his face as he seemed to really take Henry in, his eyes flitting over him from head to toe then back up. He shook his head and continued his rant.
"Best thing for you to do is keep your word for once in your stinkin' life and pack your things and move out like you said you would this morning." Abe backed away from him and quickly ascended the stairs. "Lemon chicken," he grumbled to himself. "You can eat dirt and die for all I care. And make your own way home from the river!"
Henry's mouth formed a silent O and his eyes jittered back and forth as he watched Abe hastily retreat from him in obvious anger. He searched for an answer to the WHY that now loomed large in his mind. What had brought on such an outburst? And ... he had said no such thing this morning about moving out! He pushed his hurt feelings aside and leaped up the stairs behind Abe, calling out to him.
"Abraham," he began before being cut off by him.
"And don't call me that," Abe said sourly. "My name's Abe, remember? Like every other halfway thing you do, you named me with a nickname instead of the complete version of it." He suddenly stopped and turned around again to face Henry. "What are you doing up here?"
Henry frowned further, pressing his brows together, desperately trying to understand his son's uncharacteristically combative behavior toward him. A sigh of frustration huffed out of him and he replied, "I suppose I'm going to slap together something to eat before retiring to my bedroom. That's what I'm doing up here."
Abe chortled mirthlessly, "Your bedroom's down in your dungeon, remember? And your dinner's in that bottle of cognac down there." His voice rose as his anger level rose when more confusion played over Henry's face. "C'mon, Henry, stop playing the innocent! It doesn't become you."
"Abra-, Abe, Abe," Henry almost pleaded with him as he quickly removed his scarf and hung it on the back of one of the kitchen chairs. He was mildly surprised to find that the coat rack was nowhere in sight. "I have no idea what you're talking about when you say I'm to pack and move out. I said no such thing to you this morning. Well, why would I?" he asked in answer to Abe's look of annoyed disbelief. But he pressed on, needing to unwrinkle this situation between his son and him.
"And, okay, you didn't feel like cooking dinner, that's perfectly fine. You work hard, too," he added, smiling. A smile his son did not return. But Abe was busy frowning as he tilted his head to the side, then bent closer to view the left side of Henry's neck. Henry had intended to rebut what Abe had said about his bedroom being in his downstairs laboratory, but it made him a bit self-conscious being scrutinized so closely this way. He lifted his left hand up to the side of his neck and asked, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Abe reared back away from him, still frowning. "Something's missing," he said slowly as if unsure of exactly what was missing. Then he perked up and said, "The scar from your knife wound." He pointed to the spot where Henry's hand lay on his neck and asked, "Where is it? You know, the scar from your original death."
Henry was thoroughly confused now. Knife wound? "Abe, I can assure that there is no such wound on my body. Sure, I've been stabbed at various times throughout my long life but you know all too well that the scar from my original death was the result of a gunshot wound." He frowned at Abe's frown and unbuttoned his waistcoat and dress shirt to reveal the angry swirl of scar tissue on his chest.
Abe leaned in, peering at the scar over his father's chest. He reached out his hand, stopping short of touching it. "When did you get that?"
"1814," Henry breathed out as he studied Abe's reaction. "The captain of the slave ship I was on shot me in the chest with his flintlock," he continued. "You know the story well. Or, at least, you should."
"I never heard anything like that before from you," Abe vehemently denied, scowling. "You died in 1814 aboard the Empress, all right, but it was from the captain stabbing you in the neck after the slaves freed themselves and took over the ship. The captain believed that you had stolen the key to their shackles and given it to them."
Henry lowered his head and compared the two stories in his mind. Similar circumstances, yes, but enough of a difference to make him begin to realize that something more had happened to him when the subway train passed through that strange light in the tunnel. He raised his head and stared at Abe.
Abe's contentious mood abated somewhat as he returned Henry's stare, blinking several times. He lowered his hand and reared back from him again. "And what happened to your eyes? They were greyish-blue before and now ... now they ... "
"What? What, Abe?" Henry asked, wanting and not wanting him to continue.
"They're more hazel," he finally whispered. "How is that possible?" Henry was shaking his head in confusion and frowning.
"My eyes have always been brown with hazel flecks, Abe," he told him.
"And your hair is not black anymore," Abe continued in a whisper, almost ignoring Henry's last statement. His eyes roamed over Henry's dark brown curls with chestnut highlights and concluded, "You colored your hair today. And contacts. You had to change your look again," he concluded with a smirk. "What? Somebody else you did dirt to caught up with you?" He smirked, satisfied with his conclusions. The scowl contained an unnerving look of disdain.
Henry didn't think he could frown any deeper than he already had, but he did. This conversation was totally confusing him. "If you are suggesting that I have willfully harmed anyone in the past and have adopted some sort of disguise in order to evade discovery - "
"Well, that hasn't changed," Abe huffed. "Still toss out a mouthful of words when just a few would suffice. That is, when you're sober." His arms were crossed over his chest but he slowly lowered his arms, placing his hands on his hips again. "But that wouldn't account for your original scar being moved from your neck to your chest," he considered. "And, wait a minute. You're a bit taller than me." He looked down at Henry's shoes. "You wearing lifts? Because there's nothing wrong with being 5'8", ya know."
"Abe, you know full well that I'm just under 6' tall. I haven't been 5'8" since I was 13 years old."
"Then, I don't get it," Abe said, ponderingly. "There's something different about you." He shook his head and turned away, walking to his bedroom. The first bedroom. "Whatever's up with you, though, I don't have time for it. And I'm too tired to be bothered with you right now."
Henry was confused. Why was Abe retiring to the bedroom that was his bedroom? "Abe - "
"Good. Night. Henry." he told him as he entered the bedroom and shut the door in his face.
A stunned, confused, and admittedly very hurt Henry stood in the hallway facing Abe's bedroom door. He rubbed his palms up and down on his pant legs then turned and walked into the kitchen. He pulled one of the chairs out from the table and slowly lowered himself down into it. He looked around the darkened kitchen and decided to do what he'd told Abe: fix himself something to eat and get to bed for some much-needed rest. These last few minutes with Abe had done much to tire him out. As he rose from the chair to turn on the light, he noticed the circular condiment tray called a Lazy Susan in the middle of the kitchen table. Quickly turning on the light, he returned to look closer at the outdated kitchen accessory that looked oddly the same as one that Abigail had won in a church raffle in the early 1970's but had burned up in a kitchen fire a few years later. He removed the ceramic containers from off of it and placed them on the table. He lifted the circular tray up and flipped it over to see the bottom. The small, gold label was still on it identifying in black lettering that the tray was a third prize awarded in a raffle held 12/20/72 at the First Presbyterian Church.
"How ... ?" How, indeed, was it still there? Had they mistakenly believed that it had burned up? He placed it back in the center of the table and put the white ceramic containers with hand-painted bluebells on the outside and the lids back on the tray. Squinting, he looked around, taking in his surroundings. There were other little things out of place here and there. Instead of an upholstered settee in the sitting area, there was a more modern, black, leather sectional. Henry walked closer to the sectional, his hands on his hips, his brow furrowed. Instead of the ship in a bottle on the mantel, the same ship, without the bottle, sat in its place. There were other subtle differences he noticed. A large, rectangular portrait of a well-manicured landscape setting that featured the long ago London manor he'd grown up in, now hung on the wall over the sectional sofa in place of the smaller, twin paintings of the same manor. And Abe being mistaken about his height?
Henry backed away from the sectional and let his eyes roam over the kitchen, finding the same small differences here and there, as well. Instead of stainless steel cookware hanging from nails on the side of the wall near the stove, copper cookware hung from a fixture over the kitchen island. What was going on here? He could dismiss things as Abe having redecorated that day, but the previously destroyed circular condiment tray? And the fact that his key no longer fit the lock to the shop? And those strange things that Abe had said while questioning his physical appearance and professing to have never heard the story of his first death by gunshot wound?
That strange light in the subway tunnel and the pulling and snapping sensation to his body came back to mind. Did that have anything to do with any of this? He'd heard of scientists propounding on the existence of wormholes that could supposedly transport people millions of light years backward or forward in space travel or years forward or backward in time travel but this was something different. He was at home. But his home was different. He looked toward the door that led to the hallway and his sleeping son beyond and wondered if he would be met with a similar brand of hostility from his colleagues if he dared go to work the next day. What exactly had he fallen into? One person came to mind who could possibly understand and believe what he suspected had happened to him: Lucas Wahl.
Henry quickly walked over to the landline phone and, thankfully, it had not changed. But he didn't know Lucas' phone number. And he couldn't pop over to his home because he didn't know where the young man lived. And it was no use to call 411 since Lucas had long ago let it be known that he only owned a cellphone. But, he realized, the Lucas here still might have a landline phone.
'Here? Where was here?'
He shook his head and called 411, hoping that his gamble would pay off and it did. The operator switched him over to an automated voice that spoke the phone number to him and then the system connected him. Henry held his breath, hopeful, as the phone rang but by the fourth ring, his hope began to fade when he realized he might be forced to leave a voicemail. After the fifth ring, though, he heard Lucas' breathless voice answer.
"Lucas!" He caught himself and breathed in and out deeply to calm himself. "Ah, hello, Lucas, this is Henry. I do hope that I'm not interrupting anything ... ?"
"Uh, no," he replied hesitantly. "If you're calling to sound me out again for mixing those two bodies up, it was an honest mistake like I said since they were identical twins, and - "
"No, no, Lucas," he interrupted although inwardly horrified at the thought of bodies being misidentified in the morgue even if it wasn't the actual morgue he worked in. "It, uh, your earlier explanation will suffice (whatever that was). I'm calling you on a totally different matter, hoping that you could be of some assistance to me."
"Uh, sure, sure," he replied. "Shoot."
"Well, I think it best that we speak face to face," Henry suggested. "Might I pop over there tonight so we can, ah, discuss this in private?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," Lucas happily replied. "And I'm glad that you changed your mind about not wanting to be alone with me anymore."
"Alone with you? Why would I mind that?" he asked, wary of his coming reply.
"You know, after I tried to, you know, kiss you."
Henry blanched at that statement. Lucas had tried to kiss the other him? Although he had nothing against people having their personal sexual preferences, he had consistently preferred the company of women during the past two centuries. Other men had, at times, openly professed an attraction to him, embraced him, even. But not even his close friend, James Carter, had ever tried to kiss him.
"It's okay, though, that you're not interested in a relationship with me. Guess that honor falls to Det. Martinez," Lucas added. "That is, if she ever gets over being majorly pissed off at you."
Henry closed his eyes and shook his head, wanting not to hear any further of how the other him had damaged yet another valued relationship. First with Abe, now with Jo. "Lucas, I appreciate your candor, but if I may have your address to give to the cab driver - "
"Oh. Understandable that you might have forgotten," Lucas replied nonchalantly.
Henry jotted the address down and thanked him before hanging up, then gathered up his scarf and left the shop to hail a cab. During the ride, he mulled Lucas' words over in his mind about Jo being "majorly pissed off" at him. After his troubling conversation with his son ... well, with Abraham ... he wondered what exactly had actually set them apart from him ... the other him.
The cab came to a stop and he realized he'd arrived at the address that Lucas had given him. He paid the fare and stood speechless in front of the building. Double checking the address and determining that it was the correct one, he entered the lobby of what appeared to be a hotel with luxurious appointments to rival the Waldorf Astoria. Only this hotel's name was Wahldorf Astoria. Suddenly feeling very under-dressed, he approached the elegantly-dressed woman behind the check-in counter and she gave him Lucas' room number and directed him to the elevators. As he rode the elevator up to the penthouse - penthouse? - he could still feel the hotel clerk's eyes sizing him up and haughtily remarking, "Oh, you're here to see our Mr. Wahl?" Our Mr. Wahl? He could only smile at the realization that the Lucas here was most likely rich. He felt a tinge of sadness on behalf of his own Mr. Wahl, who seemingly lived paycheck to paycheck. If only he could bring back a little of this Lucas' apparent wealth and gift it to the other financially struggling one that he knew.
The elevator opened to a private hallway that led to an intricately-carved wooden door to his left. The elevator operator bid him a pleasant good evening and he whirled around just in time to smile and nod to him as the doors closed. Henry walked up to the door and rang the bell. He heard nothing but the door subsequently opened and there stood a barefoot Lucas dressed in black, silk pajamas and bathrobe.
"Welcome back," he greeted him and stepped away, allowing him to enter and close the door himself. "And I promise to keep my hands and my feelings to myself this time," Lucas said, raising his hands as he sauntered over to the well-stocked bar. Cream was the dominating color throughout the living space with tastefully placed silver and wood accented furniture and light fixtures. Lucas offered him a drink but he declined. He had to keep a clear head for what he was about to share with his young host. His rich, young host. Filthy rich, apparently. Lucas sat down on the fur-covered sofa and placed a bottle of wine on the glass coffee table with a large, thick chain and anchor as its support, and settled back, sipping from his wine glass. "So, what is so urgent that you dare venture into my lair again so soon?"
Henry took a quick breath in and puffed it out. He stood at attention in front of Lucas and asked, "Do I look like myself to you?"
Lucas half laughed, half frowned as he sat his glass down on a coaster on the coffee table and leaned forward a bit. "What do you mean, do you look like yourself? Of course, you do ... " His frown deepened as his voice trailed off.
"Do I look like the Henry Morgan that you know?" Henry clarified. "Look closely, Lucas."
Lucas stood up and stepped closer to him with a slight smirk on his face. "Sure you want me this close to you?" he teased. Seeing how serious Henry was, he also became more serious. "Okay, okay. Now, let's see here," he said more to himself as he took in Henry's appearance, head to toe. His face took on a more serious expression when he began to note some of the same differences that Abe had. After a few tense moments (for Henry), Lucas shared his observations with him. "What, uh, is going on with you, Big Guy?" he asked.
Big Guy. Well, at least one of his terms of address for me is the same here, Henry thought.
"Are you familiar with the theory of wormholes? That they could allow someone to pass through to other dimensions?" Henry asked, hoping that this Lucas was as much a fan of science fiction as the other one was. He seemed to have Lucas' full attention now.
"Yes, I've read up on them a lot," he replied. "What do wormholes have to do with you looking different from the way you usually do?"
Henry swallowed before replying, his palms becoming moist with sweat. "I believe that I may have," he paused, taking in a much-needed breath, "No, I believe that I have passed through one. And that I am now in an another dimension."
Lucas squinted at him, his brow slightly furrowed before scoffing and asking, "You expect me to believe that?" He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at him from his towering height. "Just because you think I'm some kind of fruitcake doesn't mean I'm stupid."
"No, Lucas, you are not a fruitcake - "
"That's what you called me when I tried to kiss you last Christmas under the mistletoe," he told him, interrupting.
"I - mistletoe - Lucas, you are neither a fruitcake nor are you stupid BUT," he said loudly when Lucas attempted to interrupt him again. "I need your help to get me back to my own ... " he searched for the right word. " ... dimension, universe. I do not belong here. Will you help me?"
"Help you? Henry, how do you expect me to believe something so preposterous as you being from another dimension?" he asked, trying and failing to control his laughter.
"I can prove it," Henry quietly told him.
"So prove it," Lucas challenged.
"You're aware that the Henry Morgan you know has a knife wound on the left side of his neck just above his breast bone?" Lucas rolled his eyes and nodded. Henry reached up and unwound his scarf, unbuttoned the top buttons on his shirt, and opened the collar to expose his neck absent any scars. "What do you say to this, then?"
Lucas frowned and dropped his arms. He leaned down to peer closer at both sides of Henry's neck. "What the - ? You said you got that scar in a bar fight ten years ago. Ugly scar; looked like it should have killed you, actually."
Henry realized there was no getting around it. He hadn't planned to but he saw no way to avoid sharing his secret with Lucas. And, therefore, exposing the other Henry's secret of immortality. But he held no loyalty to the man who, among other things, was apparently a foolish scoundrel who gave little thought to the feelings of others. And if he was going to get Lucas to help him return to his proper place of existence, he had to be as truthful with him as possible. "It actually did kill me, Lucas. Well, not me, actually. It, ah, killed the Henry Morgan you know." He reached up and began to unbutton his shirt further.
"Whoa, whoa, Big Guy," Lucas said, raising his hands up. "You don't have to strip for me in order to get my help. But, have it your way," he added, lowering his hands and licking his lips.
"Lucas," Henry said, getting his attention. He opened his shirt to reveal the scar tissue on his chest. "The scar on the other Henry's neck is related to his first death. This is the scar related to my first death."
"First - first - death?" Lucas stammered out, covering his mouth with one hand, his eyes widened.
"Yes," Henry replied, buttoning his shirt back up. "Apparently, he and I share the same curse. We are both immortal."