"The memory had never been this poignant, this real, and this strong and it bothered me that tonight it was." Prequel to "Darkest Before Dawn."
Pairing: Adam/Lisa implied (briefly; blink and you'll miss it) Ami/Other
Timeline: Two and half years before "Darkest Before Dawn" and five and half years after "The Living Stones."
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Adam Newman, Lisa Davis, Megabyte Damon, Kevin Wilson, Ami Jackson and Jade Weston are not mine. They are the property of Roger Damon Price, Thames/Tetra Television, and ITV. Rose Jackson, Benjamin Shannon, Marty Nuemiller, Phillip Hayes, Danae Hayes, Evelyn, Apple Blossom, Gideon, and Tony do all belong to me.
Rooms A Thousand Years Wide
"He says it's a time machine."
I didn't want to move. I didn't want to lift my head from where it lay so comfortably propped on the softness that was Kevin's thigh. I just wanted to relax on the beach with my friends and enjoy the warmth of the sun shining down upon us.
University classes were out for the summer, my mother was off on a cruise with her fiancÃ©, whom even if he was a bit on the odd side was at least a distraction that kept her from sniping at me and trying to drive a wedge between myself and Aunt Rose. She'd given up a few years ago with trying to stop me from being a Tomorrow Person, now she simply fixated on trying to stop me from developing my other "talents." She thought Aunt Rose was a bad influence, encouraging me down paths that I really shouldn't tread. Mum didn't really understand my other "gifts" or the fact that Aunt Rose's tutelage was keeping me sane. Like our early battles when I first became a Tomorrow Person, Mum simply didn't want to understand.
Sharon Jackson wanted a normal daughter. She should have known better. My father hadn't been normal, and I, Ami Jackson, was pretty far from normal as well.
Kevin forced me to push thoughts of my mother away when he shifted position and I was left with the option of resting my head on his kneecap, or sitting up and giving my full attention to Jade. I chose the latter because as always, Jade's enthusiasm was bubbling over infectiously into everyone else, and without a buffer to help me resist, I knew I was going to be hopelessly pulled along as well.
"And you believe him, Jade?" Lisa's words were soft, her tone soothing enough and not the least bit patronizing and therefore avoided ruffling Jade's feathers or dampening her enthusiasm. Not that Jade's enthusiasm was an easy thing to dampen once she got into a good tear.
Lisa had been back with us for six months. There had been no explanations and no apologies, not like when Kevin showed up hesitantly at the Ship after his three-year absence. Kevin had been shy of us, guarded, as if at any moment he expected to be turned away or have to fight for his right to be with us. Lisa had simply shown up, plopped down on the sand between Megabyte and Adam and informed them that she was back. Just as with Kevin, there had never been any question about accepting her. They were Tomorrow People; they belonged with us. It just took them a bit longer to figure it out.
Jade shrugged, "I don't know. It's not like I could tell just by looking at it. But Mr. McCready has invented some very interesting things in the past."
"If by interesting you mean pretty capable of blowing things up, then I guess you have a good point," Megabyte remarked. He had not done the courtesy of sitting up from his prone position and giving Jade his full attention. His face was hidden beneath a boonie cap and his words were slightly muffled.
"Megabyte, he's just a sweet old eccentric."
"Jade, you need a new hobby."
One thing about Megabyte, while his timing wasn't always the best, he often times said those things that needed to be said. And he said them very plainly so that there could be no mistaking his meaning. It was one of those things that used to drive me up a wall, especially in regard to Jade, but as I'd gotten older I realized that Megabyte simply wasn't the sort of person to candy-coat things. Also, as we'd all grown older, Jade was less and less insulted by Megabyte's bluntness and that was a good thing all around.
Jade rolled her eyes and pushed strands of long blonde away from her face. It wasn't the first time that Megabyte, or any of us really, had referred to Jade's interests in the eccentrics and lonely elders of her neighborhood as her "hobby" or her "strays." Not that it was a terrible thing what Jade did; her heart went out to those who had no one else, and she had acquired more substitute grandparents than we had living grandparents combined. She also acquired more heartache for each and every funeral that she ended up attending when one of her elderly friends passed on. "I really think that it's something we should check out."
Jade said 'we,' but she directed her gaze at Megabyte, whom for all intents and purposes we would have believed to be sleeping if he hadn't taken an active part in conversation, and Adam who lounged beside Lisa, their hands entwined.
Megabyte may not have seen the look Jade gave him, but he clearly felt it. He snatched the hat from his face and sat up, a scowl forming. "Why us?"
"Because Adam is the physics genius and you're . . . well, you're - " Jade's hand fluttered in Megabyte's direction as though she couldn't quite find the words. In all actuality, she probably just didn't want to give Megabyte a compliment.
"Genius?" Adam smirked. Laughter was in his voice, but the faint pink stain on his cheeks belied his embarrassment at Jade's pronouncement. "Knowing Mr. McCready, it is something to be checked out. You didn't need to lay on the flattery, Jade."
Jade batted her eyelashes playfully in his direction. "But, it always works so well!"
"And why exactly am I supposed to tag along with Adam?" Megabyte continued to scowl.
I helpfully supplied the answer that I knew that Jade's pride wouldn't allow her to, "Because you're the mechanical wizard Megabyte."
The glare took me in for a moment, and I met and returned it easily. "Yeah, well the last time Jade had us check on what the old coot was building, we nearly got gassed out of there."
Jade immediately came to the old gentleman's defense. "It was an accident, he wasn't trying to hurt anyone! And he's always so happy when you and Adam show up to see his work. He likes that he can still capture the interests of young scientists."
The attempt at flattery and soothing Megabyte's annoyance failed. The scowl deepened, a feat that I wouldn't have really thought possible. "The man was making vampire gas, Jade. Vampire gas!"
"So?" Jade's feigned innocence was almost too much. I had to bury my mouth in my hands and force a cough to avoid laughing. Someday, that girl was going to be either someone's dangerous nemesis or the star of the stage. I was sincerely hoping for the latter.
"Vampires don't breathe!"
"Come on, Megabyte, it'll only take a few minutes." Adam was already on his feet, dusting sand from his jeans. "And if Mr. McCready has made something that even remotely resembles a time machine or anything that could be misused, he really needs someone to talk him out of keeping it."
What no one said but everyone acknowledged was that if Mr. McCready couldn't be convinced not to sell his latest invention to the highest bidder, then it might have to accidentally be removed or broken. Adam and Megabyte had done it in the past when Mr. McCready created silver nitrate bombs that could easily kill entire packs of were-beasts in one heartbeat. Unfortunately, those notes went up in smoke and he'd never been able to duplicate his work. While we admittedly wouldn't have interfered had they been anti-vampire bombs, the shape-shifting weres were a different matter. They were alive; and despite all the Purist propaganda that said otherwise, they were also partly human.
Megabyte pushed himself to his feet just in time to find himself enveloped in a delighted hug and greeted with Jade's ear piercing shriek. "Thank you so much! And I really don't think it's a time machine, but I have a feeling it could be . . . not good."
"Whatever," Megabyte shrugged her off, his cheeks flaming bright pink. Jade had long ago gotten over her crush on Megabyte, yet her open demonstrations of affection still left him slightly off-center. Truth be told, anyone's demonstrations of affections seemed to leave Megabyte flustered and seeking a way to make a joke or simply ignore it. "Let's just go and get this over with."
I opened my mouth to wish them luck, but the words froze in my throat. The entire world ground to a screeching halt as everything around me quite literally darkened. It was as though the sun disappeared, and all of the color had been sucked from around us, my friends, the beach and everything bathed in complete and perfect darkness. Every hair on my body stood on end, an electric charge running from my head to my toes, and as I tried to draw a breath it was as though heavy iron chains were wound tightly across my chest.
But that wasn't the worse of it. The worse of it was Adam's face. Pale and skeletal, almost dead, eyes flashing between brown and red. It made me scream and scamper backwards on my rear.
The scream, rising from my throat like a banshee wail, shattered whatever spell had fallen over me. The beach was warm and inviting, the sun blasted us with steaming rays and glittered off the gold and white sand, making the blue ocean look like glittering jewels. The wind blew warmly across my arms and the palm trees swayed in a merry dance that sang of peacefulness.
And my friends stared at me like I had lost my mind. The truth of it was that was I wasn't sure that I hadn't.
End of Part One