DISCLAIMER: This is an Uber story, which means that the two main characters bear a striking resemblance to a certain Warrior Princess and her Bard <g>. Xena and Gabrielle are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

LOVE/SEX WARNING DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal where you live, please do not read it.

Please send comments and/or constructive criticism to tkocialsk@nycap.rr.com

The Visitors


Trish Kocialski

Chapter 1

Monday, New Year’s Day, Somewhere off the coast of St. John

Soft laughter echoed off the glistening walls of the cavern.  The only light illuminating the small space was coming from the water in the pool.  The bodily forms could barely be made out in the ethereal lighting.   One, the taller of the two, lifts a pebble and throws it vigorously into the water causing a series of ripples on the calm surface.  The sound of the splash stops the laughter and is followed by a stern but respectful reproach. 


“My Princess…” the voice was low and couched in concern, “we must head back to our homeland.  It is not safe for you to be here any longer.  The threats against the realm are a very real possibility and Varian is not a man that can be deceived for long.  One of his men is sure to be close behind.”


“You worry too much, Janai.  Varian has always been in my father’s command.  I can’t believe that he is plotting against him…and me.  He is like my second father.  I’m sure there must be some misunderstanding.  The communication must have been interfered with somehow.” 


“Princess, please.  Would it not be wise to treat the information as true?  What harm could come of your returning early?”


“What?  And not complete my study of these people as my father wishes?” Princess Alana scoffed at the thought.  Besides, I’m having too much fun on this exploration and I’m not about to be scared off by an obvious miscommunication.  “I am not finished learning about, lest, understanding their behaviors.  Father said I had much to learn from them, especially from the ones we will visit next.”  She stood and moved toward Janai, “Besides Janai, that’s what you’re here for.  You are my protector.  You are the most complete warrior in our realm.”


“Yes, my princess, I am that.  But, if this communication is true, I am not sure I will be able to protect you from all the forces Varian has at his command.”


Alana’s voice softened and came out as a mere whisper.  “Janai…please, don’t call me ‘princess.’  We have been together far too long for that formality…and, the one thing I have learned to appreciate about these people is to respect each other as equals.”  She reached out and gently placed a hand on the taller woman’s arm before continuing.  “And, I promise that after we visit the country called ‘America’ we will depart for home.”


Janai realized she had pushed the issue as far as she dared.  Bowing her head in concession she replied, “Yes, my…Alana.”


“Come, let us swim with our friends in the sea one more time before we resume the more earthly shape of our donors.”  Alana stood and her form began to pulse a deep, but muted bluish purple before it changed its shape to a translucent nebulous silhouette and slipped into the pool. 


“I hope you’re right, my princess,” Janai sighed and then quickly followed, becoming a translucent deep blue-green amorphous shape.  The two pulsing figures flowed through the water easily.  Slipping around the coral reef at the entrance, then speeding away toward the open sea.


At the back of the cavern, a black form speckled with red and gray emerged from the wall.  “Ah, Janai.  I was hoping that message was intercepted.  Now my job will be a bit more difficult with you on alert and I’ll have to change my plans.  I wonder how the High Council and the Emperor will react to the loss of the Princess at the hands of humans?”  Intrigued at the thought of creating a reason for war, the dark form shimmered.  “This may even be a better plan than a transport disaster on the way home.”  The form began to pulsate into a deep red and gray cloud then flowed easily into the water in pursuit.  It would not do for him to loose track of them now.

* * * * *


Dean and Katie checked all their belts and buckles, made sure the respirators were functioning properly and double-checked their air supply before heading to the dive platform at the aft of the charter boat.  They were with ten other vacationers on the chartered dive and were making the last dive of their short four-day vacation.  Katie thought back to Christmas morning when she opened her gift from Dean.  To say she was thrilled when she unwrapped the box containing the vacation tickets that morning was an understatement.  In fact, she could hardly wait to leave.  The ordeal at Niagara Falls had taken its toll on the young agent and the thought of the warm temperatures was like a sirens call to action.  She was so ready for the trip that she had begun packing on Christmas night and barely made it through the next two days of visiting with Dean’s father, Joshua and his friend, Reverend Martha Lewistan.  Thanks to Martha, Dean and her father were beginning to mend the rift between them that had grown into a formidable chasm over the years.  And, thanks again to the dear Reverend, Dean was able to find her before she fell head long into an icy death behind the Horseshoe Falls. 


Coming out of her memory, Katie stood on the dive platform, surveying the horizon and smiling at the sight.  Off to the south was the island of St. Croix, with St. Thomas to their west and St. John right behind them.  Katie had talked Dean into a day trip over to St. John to dive at the Eagle Shoals site.  It was one of the most remote dive sites and one of the most beautiful ones.  There were lots of small curious caves and coral arches, along with a wide variety of coral outcroppings.  The healthy dollops of colorful tropical fish everywhere added to the beauty of the underwater scenes.


“Penny for your thoughts,” Dean remarked as they waited their turn to enter the water.


“Mmm, just enjoying the day,” Katie replied with a sigh.  “Have I told you how much I love this present?”


“Yeah, about a hundred times now,” her lover chuckled as she squatted down on the platform.  Dean dipped her mask into the water looking up as she spilled out the seawater.  “It is beautiful isn’t it?”


“Yeah,” Katie sighed again, “but it’s back to the real world tomorrow morning.”


“Well, you know, with your little bank roll, you could probably retire now and live here permanently,” Dean commented as she rose to stand next to the blonde.


Katie nodded realizing the truth in Dean’s words.  “Yes, I could.  But then it would become an everyday experience and, well, you’d loose the appreciation of it.  I’d rather just come to the islands often and be awed each time.  Besides, I don’t think you’re ready to retire yet.”


Nodding at the accuracy of that statement, Dean smiled at her partner, “Well, ya ready to get awed by some underwater scenery?”


“Yeah,” Katie smiled eagerly, “let’s do it!”  The women put their regulators in their mouths, slipped on their masks and held them to their faces as they stepped off the platform into the sparkling turquoise sea.


All the divers on this trip were experienced and had their cave certifications in addition to their open water certifications.  The caves here weren’t the same as the ones Dean and Katie encountered in the Bahamas, but could be just as dangerous if one wasn’t paying attention.  They had opted to dive the reefs and view the coral, having had their fill of underwater caverns on Grand Bahama Island.  The other ten divers were steadily making their way toward the cave openings, while they headed off following a school of yellow and blue angel fish behind a wall of coral.  Everywhere they looked, they found brilliant colors, a wide variety of coral, and schools of tropical fish.  The whole experience made this remote dive a pure pleasure.  They swam for thirty minutes among the fish and coral outcroppings constantly amazed at the beauty of nature found in the sea.  A group of dolphins swam close and one of the friendlier ones joined them for a while.  As they swam through the water as a trio, the dolphin seemed to be appraising them, nodding and clicking as they imitated each other’s moves.  It finally moved off after it won hands down in the graceful category, making a series of clicks that Dean and Katie swore was laughter as it departed to catch up with it’s friends.


Checking her dive watch, Dean motioned that it was time to head back.  The dive went just too fast for them, and they reluctantly changed direction.  As they turned to head back to the boat, Katie reached out and tapped Dean’s arm.  She pointed toward a flash of a blue-green…something…as it moved along the seabed.  Neither had seen anything like it in their diving experience and they were both bewildered at its materialization.  It almost looked like a luminous cloud that was somewhat transparent but could move faster than their dolphin friend.  It was similar in appearance to a large flat jellyfish that could ooze into different shapes as it ebbed with the current.  As they watched, the apparition split into two, one purplish and the other a greenish blue, before regrouping again.  Whatever it was, it seemed to be moving along with them.  Stopping as they stopped and moving as they moved.  Katie motioned with her head to go check it out.  Dean reached to check the remaining time on their tanks before she nodded in the affirmative.  As they changed direction and kicked toward the object, Dean realized they were actually two separate objects that picked up speed and darted toward a huge coral outcropping, slipping out of view.  Totally surprised by this evasive action, the women looked at each other, and then increased their kicks in an effort to catch up.  Arriving on the other side of the coral stand, the two objects were nowhere to be seen.  They scanned the bed of coral, looking for a cave or recess that they may have slipped into but found no plausible hiding place.  Turning toward the open sea, they only saw a big expanse of sand and coral and schools of tropical fish.  Shrugging her shoulders, Dean motioned toward the boat.  Katie nodded, but her eye caught a glimmer on the sandy bottom near the base of a huge bulk of brain coral.  She kicked down toward the glinting spot and found two small balls that looked like luminescent black pearls.  Cautiously reaching down, she picked one up and examined it.  Looks like a pearl of some kind, Katie thought as she reached for the second one.  By now, Dean was by her side, looking at the objects in Katie’s fingers.  She took one from Katie and studied it, rolling it in her fingers.  It was perfectly round, seemed to be solid and was surprisingly heavy for it’s size.  It appeared to have a hint of blue-green luminescence to it.  Both objects seemed to be exactly the same size and weight, but the one Katie was holding had a hint of deep blue, almost violet.  Looking over at her partner, Katie made a questioning motion.  Dean mimicked the motion and unscrewed the top of a waterproof cylinder that held their room keys.  She put the ball in the small container holding it out for Katie to drop hers inside too.  After securing the lid, the two women headed back to the boat.


They surfaced near the platform then swam over to the ladder and waited their turn to climb up.  The other divers were chatting excitedly about the caves and asked the two women what they had seen.  Katie began reciting all the types of coral and tropical fish they saw and told the group about the playful dolphin companion they had encountered. 


“Then on the way back we saw something really weird…” she was about to disclose the appearance of the elusive cloud-like shapes when she saw Dean give her a subtle shake of the head.


“…it was a…a…barracuda…just staring at us.  It, um, stared for a couple of seconds then darted off behind the coral,” Katie fabricated quickly.


“Ooo, I hate those things.  They look so…vicious.”  The freckled faced redhead exclaimed.


“Yeah, they look at you like they’re appraising you for your worthiness to be their next meal,” her boyfriend added. 


Another man from the group said barracuda aren’t weird, just misunderstood.  Everyone laughed and began telling tales of run-ins with barracuda and other denizens of the deep.  As the boat headed back to the harbor, Katie sat quietly by Dean, wondering why her lover didn’t want her to say anything about their encounter with the strange objects.

* * * * *


Back at the resort, Katie took their masks, fins and snorkels out of the dive bag and headed to the bathroom to rinse off the salt water.  She opened the small key container and looked at the two luminescent balls.  “Might as well wash these off too,” she mumbled as she turned the container over to drop the balls into her hand.  She rinsed everything off and set the equipment on the patio to dry.  Placing the two balls on a washcloth, she brought them into the kitchen where Dean was making two mugs of tea.


“Hey, love,” Dean drawled, as she watched Katie enter with the washcloth in hand.  “Whatcha got there?”


“Oh, those little balls we picked up on the dive.  I was rinsing everything off and decided to rinse them off too.”  She held them up for Dean’s inspection.  “Any idea as to what they are?”


“Nah.  Look like some decorative glass beads to me.”  She reached out and picked one up, rolling it in her fingers.  “Prettier though.  One’s a little bluer than the other.”  She held it up to the light for further examination.  “Hmm, if you hold it up to the light you can see through it.  They’re actually very pretty.”


“Yeah, I noticed that when I rinsed them off.  They’ll look pretty neat in the new marble displays Dirk and Bill got me for Christmas.”  Katie had quite a collection of marbles.  From rubies to black eyes, hot dogs to crystals, pearls, swirls and cats eyes, to tiger eyes and even a few of the new collectibles by various artists.  Some of the marbles in her collection are true antiques and quite valuable, while others are modern game marbles.  The one’s she was collecting in earnest now were the new artistic ones.  She had been a champion shooter in her youth, having won a few American Marble tournaments, and was having fun teaching Dean how to finesse a shot.  It made for fun competition and Dean’s skill level was coming up rapidly.


Dean nodded her head, “Good idea.  Add them to your little collection.”  Who am I kidding? Dean thought of the collection back home, Her collection is anything but little!  When Dean moved Katie’s possessions over to the new house, she just about gave herself a hernia when she lifted the first crate.  Realizing there were nine other crates, she opted to use the dolly for the rest. 


The teakettle began to whistle, so she tossed the ball back to Katie and resumed preparing the mugs of tea.  Katie caught the toss easily and gently wrapped it in the washcloth to be packed in her suitcase for the trip home tomorrow morning.

As Dean finished preparing the drinks, she handed Katie a mug, leaning back against the counter as she picked hers up and took a careful sip.


“Why did you stop me from telling the other divers about those weird cloudy things we saw?” Katie asked as she blew at the hot tea.


Dean just shrugged, “Couldn’t explain it, so I didn’t want to talk about it.”


“Maybe someone else had seen it too?  It came from the direction of the caves.”


“If someone had, they would have said something,” Dean replied.


“Or, maybe they were waiting for someone else to mention it first?” Katie considered.


“Yeah, that could be.  Anyway, it wasn’t worth mentioning.” 


Katie thought about that for a while, considering what possible reactions relating the encounter may have provoked.  “You’re probably right.”


Dean lifted an eyebrow in question.  “Probably?”


Katie looked up into the twinkling sapphire eyes, shook her head and grinned before giving Dean a light backhanded slap to the abdomen.  “You are so bad!”


“That’s why you love me,” Dean winked, earning a dazzling smile from her lover.  She put her mug down and encircled the young woman with her arms in a loving grip.  Slowly, she bent her head towards the eagerly waiting lips that parted just ever so slightly as they met in a soft embrace.  A quiet moan escaped from the younger woman as their kiss ended.


“Mmm, I think there’s more than one reason why I love you,” Katie whispered as she gazed up at her lover.


“Really?  You’ll have to tell me sometime.”  She paused, enjoying the feel of her lover in her arms.  “Are you all packed for the trip home?” Dean asked, seemingly changing the subject.


“Mmmhmm.  Why?  You have something in mind?” Katie replied knowingly.


“I thought maybe we could compare our reasons…” the words hung in the air as the two lovers began a physical exploration of each other as they walked over to the beds, deciding to opt out of the islands nightlife for tonight.

* * * * *


The next morning, Katie and Dean arrived at the airport in plenty of time before their flight was scheduled to leave.  Katie was always one to make sure she was on time or ahead of time for everything.  Dean was no slacker either in that department.  Adherence to rigid time schedules is a must for all military operations and with Dean's nearly seventeen years of military service, she could almost exist without a watch.  Being on time was as ingrained as her love of her country. 


After checking in, they walked over to the small coffee shop and bumped into two of their companion's from the previous day's dive.  Chatting amiably, they talked about their diving experiences and the quality of yesterday's dive.


"So," the young red head woman asked, "where are you two from?"


"The Washington, DC area," Katie informed them.  "How about you two?"


"Hey, that's cool.  We're neighbor's," Angie chimed in.  "I just started teaching in Falls Church this year,” she looked over at her boyfriend, " and Eddie here, is a counselor there."  She pulled out a packet of photos and flipped to the last one.  On the back she put Dean and Katie’s names and Washington, DC.


“Are those from yesterday’s dive?” Katie inquired after watching Angie jot her notes on the back. 


“Yeah, you want to take a look?  I had them done at the hotel when we got in.  I’m hoping to do some of the sunsets in watercolor.”


“Wow,” Katie commented as she sifted through them.  “You really have a good eye.”  She pointed at one in particular of a spectacular sunset framed in palm trees and sea oats.  “This one is super!”


“That’s my favorite too.  I think I’ll start with that one.”


Katie handed the packet back and picked up the conversation from where they left off.  “So you’re on your Christmas break,” Katie surmised, vaguely remembering the skiing vacations her family went on at Christmas time.  She quickly thought that if her parents had decided to go to the islands instead of the ski slopes that fateful year, maybe they would still be alive.  Shaking her head to clear the sad memory of their deaths, she looked up to see Eddie peering at her.


“Yep!  Except it’s politically correct to say winter break.  Can’t be offending anyone now can we?” Eddie joked and nodded in agreement as he noticed the slight change in Katie’s expression. 


Smiling at the attempt at levity, Katie looked over at Angie who was staring at Dean, who in turn, was trying to ignore the attention.  Feeling sorry for her lover, Katie directed her next comment to the redhead.  “So, Angie.  What do you teach?”


As the young teacher pulled her attention back to the others, she said she was an art teacher and began a long explanation of her philosophy of art education and it’s benefits for children.  Katie smiled and kept eye contact with the young woman, as she felt Dean’s warm hand on her leg under the table, followed by a grateful squeeze on her thigh.  This made Katie’s smile even brighter as she continued to engage the redhead.  Their discussion was ended abruptly as their flight was called.


“Hey, that’s our flight,” Dean said almost too gladly.  “Better be going.”  She stood up quickly and almost yanked Katie up with her in her haste to leave.


Eddie also perked up, listening to the announcement.  “Yeah, that’s the plane we’re on too.”


Dean almost moaned out loud, hoping that the young couple were not sitting anywhere near them.  As they boarded with the first class ticket holders, she was relieved to see that they were still waiting with the coach folks to board.


“What’s the matter hon?” Katie asked with a twinkle in her eye.  “Angie got you flustered?”


“Hey!  If she had been staring at you, the way she was at me, you’d be relieved to be boarding right now.”  Katie snickered quietly as they took their seats and buckled up for the flight.  “By the way, thanks for diverting her attention.”


“No problem, love.  I could feel the edginess just oozing from your pores.”  They sat there in silence, holding each other’s hands as they waited for the rest of the passengers to board the flight.  When Angie and Eddie smiled and nodded at them on their way to the coach cabin, Dean let out a small sigh of gratitude.

* * * * *


During the flight, Eddie looked over at his companion.  “Hey, Angie, you got that thing you picked up off the ocean floor?"


"Uh huh.  Looks like a kid's marble to me," she told her boyfriend as she dug it out of her bag.  "Here, take a look for yourself," she handed him the small ball.  "Looks pretty cool doesn’t it?"


"Yeah, I like the red-gray-black marbled coloring.  Maybe some kid tossed it overboard from one of the cruise ships."


"Hey, maybe it is made from marble...it's pretty heavy to be just glass." Angie took the ball back from Eddie and tossed it up and down in her hand before putting it back in her bag.


"What are you going to do with it?” Eddie asked, curious about what Angie saw in the item to pick it up from the seabed.


"I'm not sure ... I just thought it was pretty.  Maybe I'll give it to my nephew.  He collects all sorts of stuff and I know he has a marble collection.  It might even be worth something."


Contemplating the idea that it might be valuable, the two slipped off into thoughts of that possibility.

* * * * *




Chapter 2

Tuesday, Washington DC


The plane landed at Regan National Airport right on schedule.  As they came to the baggage area, Dean saw Dirk leaning against a pillar, examining the crowd as it entered.  He waved in acknowledgement as he easily picked out Dean’s form from the throng of passengers, and pushed away from the pillar.  The two women were laden with island goodies and Dirk reached out to help with their load.


“Hey.  Right on time,” he said as the two women greeted him with a hug.  “The cats will sure be glad to see you.  I dropped them off at the house already.”


“They didn’t give you any trouble did they?” Katie asked, concern in her eyes.


“Nah, they were little angels.  I kept getting Butter and Sugar mixed up, but not Spice.  You know, that Spice is a real mush.”


Dean lifted an eyebrow at that remark.  “You mean Spice didn’t yowl all night?”


“Nope.  As soon as she figured out that Bill was going to be pretty much in a stationary position, she just plopped down on his lap and purred.  She spent most of the time in his lap snoozing away.” 


“See!”  Katie bumped her partner with her hip, “I told you…you fidget too much!”  Dean just shrugged while the other two chuckled, then they headed toward the baggage claim carousel to retrieve their bags.

* * * * *


Katie chatted the entire time they waited for the bags, out to the car, and as Dirk put the bags in the trunk.  When she finally stopped to catch her breath, Dirk was able to get a few words in.  “So, tell me,” Dirk broke in as he placed the last bag into the trunk then walked to the driver’s door, “how was the trip really?”


“Smart aleck,” Katie scolded as he opened the driver’s door.  “Like I’ve been saying…fantastic!” Katie slid into the middle of the bench front seat, glad she would be able to absorb the warmth of the two bodies beside her.  “The weather was great, the scuba diving breathtaking … “


“And, the lovemaking?” he asked jokingly.


Katie blushed deeply and was at a complete loss for words.  Dean chuckled at the sudden silence from her partner and looked over at Dirk and said, “Hmm, I’ll have to remember that technique.”  That comment earned her a smack on the head with Katie’s straw hat.


“Hey!” Katie chided, “that wasn’t nice.”


Dean twisted in her seat and gave her lover a remorseful look.  “Sorry love, that wasn’t nice.  Guess I’ll have to make it up to you somehow.”


“Okay, but I get to say how,” Katie’s eyebrows did a quick up and down motion before she smiled and winked at her partner. 


“Oh, brother!” Dirk croaked as the implications of the comment hit him.  “I don’t know where you gals get your energy!”


They all laughed amiably as he pulled out of the short-term parking lot and headed for the interstate.  During the ride to their home in Occoquan, the subject changed to an update on the past four days and Bill’s continuing recovery from surgery.  Since the hit-and run by Natasha and the resulting emergency surgery in mid December, Bill had been home on medical leave.  Dirk had taken time off from his job to help Bill with his recuperation and the time together had strengthened their relationship. 


“The past couple of weeks have been really tough, but it’s actually brought us closer together.  It’s made me realize just how precious life is and how easily it can be taken for granted.”  He gave his riders a sideways glance before returning his focus to the roadway.  “I have a better appreciation of what you two went through back in the Catskills.”


“Not all relationships can survive trauma Dirk,” Katie reached up placing a hand on his shoulder, giving it a gently squeeze, “I’m glad you two did.”


The rest of the drive was fairly silent as they each thought about their partners and the strength of their bonds.  Katie removed her arm from Dirk’s back and snuggled closer to Dean.  By the time they pulled into the driveway, she was fast asleep with her head resting on Dean’s shoulder.


“Vacation wore her out?” Dirk whispered softly.


“Yeah, we packed a lot into those four days, but a good night’s sleep will do her wonders.”  She gently nudged the blonde awake.  “C’mon sleepyhead, let’s get you to bed.”


Katie opened her eyes and groggily answered.  “Mmm, sorry.  Didn’t mean to fall asleep like that.” 


Dean grinned at the young woman and placed a gentle kiss on the top of her head.  “How about you go ahead and get ready for bed.  Dirk and I will bring in the stuff.”


“Okay, but don’t forget to give him the rum we got for them.”  As she headed to the bedroom, she was followed by her three felines, tails lifted straight up in the air.


“I won’t.  See you in a bit.”


Dean and Dirk got all their bags and packages into the house in one trip, setting them down in the living room.  Before he left, Dean remembered to give Dirk the box with the rum.  “We picked up a couple of new drink recipes while we were there.  I wrote them down and put them in the box.”


“Thanks, Dean.  Maybe we can do dinner next weekend and try them out?”


“Sounds like a plan.  Thanks again for the lift, and give Bill our love.”  As he headed to the door, Dirk remembered to tell Dean that the cats had been fed and the litter boxes were clean.


“Great.  Thanks for taking such good care of them.  They mean the world to Katie.”  She paused, then added, “And, me too.”   Seeing Dirk back out to his car, Dean waited until his taillights faded down the drive before she turned and went back inside.  Locking the door behind her, she set the security alarms before turning towards the pile of bags.  She shook her head and decided there wasn’t anything she needed out of them tonight.  “Tomorrow,” she mumbled to herself then turned off the lights and headed to the bedroom.

* * * * *



Chapter 3

Wednesday, 0530 Hours


The buzzer on the alarm sounded harsh in her ears, even though she had been laying awake for the past hour and had expected it’s wake up call.  Dean reached up automatically and turned it off before rolling over to nudge her bedmate.  “Time to get up.”


“What happened to the night?”  Katie asked as she rolled onto her back and stretched her 5’6” frame to its limit.  “It seems like I just got into bed.”


Dean got out of bed easily, slipping on her robe.  Years of military service made getting up the easiest part of most days.  “Nope, that was ten hours ago.”  She looked at the clock in disbelief, ten hours!  Oh boy, I must be getting old, or you love, are getting me into some bad habits!  “C’mon, up and at ‘em!  You have to look bright eyed and bushy tailed for your first class!”


“Bright eyed and bushy tailed?” the blonde head came up from the pillow, green eyes looking questioningly at her partner.  “Where on earth did you get that one from?”


Dean just laughed and sat down next to Katie’s still prone body, thinking about where that saying did come from.  “It’s something Thad used to say every morning when he woke me for school.”  Dean gazed down at Katie, “I wasn’t always this easy to wake in the mornings.  Uncle Sam changed that in a hurry.”  She bent down and gave Katie a kiss.  “You know, it’s nice to be able to remember Thad without the pain.  Thank you.”


“Me?  Why thank me?” Katie’s eyes became round with wonder.


“Because you, my love, started me on the path to forgiveness.  I know it’s going to take a while.  I mean, Dad and I are at least talking these days, but it’s still hard.”  She reached out and caressed Katie’s cheek with the back of her fingers.  “But if it hadn’t been for you, encouraging me, and standing by me, I don’t think I would have been able to take that first step.”  Dean bent down once more, kissing Katie softly on the lips.  With lips barely parted, she said, “thank you.”


Katie reached up with both of her hands and slipped them around Dean’s neck.  “You’re welcome,” came the simple reply as Katie pulled Dean in for a longer kiss that filled their hearts with joy.  Reluctantly, they broke away, both knowing that there would be plenty of time tonight to continue this particular line of conversation.


“Mmm, guess I better get myself up, huh?”


“Yep.  Wouldn’t do to be late for your first class.”


By 0600, they were both dressed and in the kitchen.  Katie was taking care of the cats while Dean fixed two cups of Earl Grey and toasted some English muffins.


“Mmm, some of that mango marmalade would be good on those muffins.” 


Katie’s suggestion got an eager nod from Dean.  “Sure would.  I’ll go dig it out of the bag.”  Dean headed for the living room and the pile of luggage that was still sitting by the door.  Over her shoulder she called to Katie, “Hey, do you remember which bag it’s in?”


Katie put the last dish down for Butter and then joined Dean in the living room.  “Let’s see.  I think I wrapped the jars in the beach towel so it’s probably in the duffle with the snorkel gear.”


Dean picked up the duffle and set it on the ottoman.  She set the dial on the combination lock and pulled it open, then unzipped the bag.  Reaching for the bright beach towel, she felt the jar inside.  “Yep, here it is.”  She was about to zip the bag shut when she caught a glimpse of the washcloth sticking out of the other end of the towel.  Nope.  No time for that now.  We can unpack tonight.  Deciding not to zip it up, she left the bag where it was and carried the jar of marmalade over to where Katie was standing. 


“Here you go love.  One jar of mango marmalade.”


At 0630, they were heading out to the garage and glad it was going to be a short week.  When Dean opened the garage door, she stopped suddenly when she saw the sleek black Boxster sitting there.  It was the most beautiful, most expensive, and most appreciated Christmas present she ever received…and the sexiest too, well…except for unwrapping the bright red bow Katie tied around her naked body on Christmas morning.  Now that was quite the morning, Dean reflected, as she recalled her total embarrassment when the flushed couple entered the kitchen to see Martha and her father looking up at them over the rim of their tea cups.  Bringing herself back to the present, she just stared at the sports car and grinned all over again.


Katie caught Dean’s reaction and beamed right along with her lover.  “So, what’dya think?  The Boxster or the SUV?”


Caught like a deer in headlights, Dean turned to Katie, “Huh?  Oh, uh,” she looked out the garage window at the rising sun.  “Uh, guess it’s going to be a nice day…so, I think I’ll take the Boxster.”


“Good.  Now, just behave and drive nice!”  She winked at Dean knowing full well that Dean would be putting the car through its paces on the way to work.  As Dean slipped behind the steering wheel, Katie pushed the button to raise the garage doors and then got into her Boxster.  Easing down the driveway, the twin sports cars, one silver-white and the other black, carried their drivers on their way.  Katie couldn’t help but think of how apropos the color choices were.  They certainly are a reflection of our lives … at least our past lives.  Who knows what the future will bring?

* * * * * 


Spice loved to curl up in small spaces and open luggage was one of her favorite spots.  She had finished eating her breakfast and was sitting in a pool of sunshine, going through her morning bath routine when she spied the open duffle bag sitting on the ottoman.  Casually she got up and stretched before prancing over to the bag to sniff it.  Satisfied that it was one of her master’s bags, she jumped in and nudged the contents around until her nest was almost complete.  There was just that problem spot in the white washcloth.  It was just too lumpy.  She pulled on the cloth, pawed it, and nudged it with her nose until the offending piece of cloth came out from the beach towel.  She nudged the washcloth a bit more and exposed the two luminescent balls.  Their shiny appearance attracted her attention so she cautiously approached, sniffing the air around them.  A gentle paw reached out and touched the dark purple one giving it a slight nudge.  Spice followed with several tender nudges to both balls, settling them in the center of the beach towel.  Cocking her head to the side, she began to purr quietly as she took a step closer.  Her reflection on the shiny surface of the balls seemed to shimmer as she sniffed once more, gave a quick lick to both balls and mewed ever so softly for the normally vociferous feline.  Turning round and round, she finally plopped down in the middle of her now comfortable nest and promptly fell asleep, one paw outstretched, cradling the two balls protectively.

* * * * *


It was nearly 1900 when Dean pulled down the road, hitting the button for the garage door as she approached the house.  The Boxster pulled in and slipped into the spot between the SUV and its twin, Katie’s arctic silver one.  She let the car idle a bit as she listened to the engine purr like a matronly lion surveying its territory.  Realizing the time, she decided she had better turn off the engine and get inside before Katie called out the National Guard to look for her.



Entering the house, Dean called to Katie as she hung up her coat on the rack by the door.  When she stepped into the living room, she noticed that all the vacation paraphernalia that had been sitting there since last night was gone, except for the duffle bag.  Hmm, must be she forgot this one.  Dean walked over to the bag and reached down for the handles, but stopped short when she saw all three cats slumbering inside.  Wow!  Is that cute or what?  I wonder if I can get my camera before they wake up and jump out.  Tiptoeing out of the living room, Dean headed for the den and retrieved her digital camera.  She slipped back into the living room just as quietly and snapped a couple of shots before the cats were able to realize what happened.  When she looked up, she saw Katie standing in the kitchen doorway watching her.  The grin on her face spreading as Dean’s blush rose from getting caught in the act. 


“I don’t think your big, bad Army friends would ever believe you’re such a mush,” Katie said as she shook her head smirking.  “They’ve been like that since I came home.”


“Hey, it’s a real Kodak moment, ya know,” Dean interjected defensively setting the camera down on the recliner’s arm before she walked over to greet her lover properly.  Slipping her arms around Katie, Dean bent down and whispered, “Hi honey, I’m home,” before giving her a kiss.


“Uh huh.  And just where have you been?” Katie asked giving Dean a reprimanding glower.


“Well, it was such a nice evening, and …”


“And you thought you would take the long way home?” Katie finished the sentence for her with a smile on her face.


Dean just shrugged and gave Katie another kiss.  “I guess I should have called, huh?”


Katie reached up and placed her hand on Dean’s cheek, “Nah.  I knew you’d be late.  In fact, I bet I can tell you which roads you took.” 


Dean raised an eyebrow in surprise.  “Really?  Okay, give it a shot.”


Katie stepped back and began to tick off the roads on her fingers, watching Dean’s face as she named them all correctly.  “How’d I do?”


“Amazing!” Dean responded in shock.  “How did you know?”


“Easy, sweetie.  I just know you,” Katie replied as she softly poked Dean’s chest.  “Now, how about some dinner?  I put together one of those chicken pot pies you like so much.”


Dean sniffed the air hungrily.  “Ooo, that sounds great.  Where’d ya get the chicken?”


“Okay, so it’s technically a turkey pot pie.  I used the left over turkey we put in the freezer from Christmas dinner.”


“That’s my grrrll,” Dean purred as she took Katie’s hand and led her to the kitchen.

* * * * *


It didn’t take long for them to demolish the pot pie, salad, and a brownie sundae for dessert.  Over dinner they talked about their respective day and shared the ‘thank you’s’ they received from their respective colleagues for the goodies they brought back from St. Croix. 


“Well, guess I better clean up,” Dean decided as she pushed away from the table and stood.


“I’ll give you a hand,” Katie offered.


“Nope.  You cooked, I clean.  That’s the rule.”


“Oh, and like you don’t break rules…”


“Nope.  Not important one’s like this,” Dean offered Katie a dazzling smile as she began clearing the table.  “Why don’t we give the cats the leftovers?”


“What leftovers?” Katie asked as she examined the almost clean pie pan.  There was barely any left to give the cats a proper treat.


“Hey, they’ll think it’s a treat … and then maybe they’ll leave us alone tonight as a reward?”  That comment got Dean a smirk from her lover.


“Oh, don’t count on it!” Katie chuckled at the thought of a cat-less night, knowing full well that they each had their own territory staked out on the bed at night.  Picking up the pie pan, she went to the cat’s dishes to divvy up the remains, calling her felines when she was done.  When they didn’t show up, she called them again, and banged the spoon on the dishes for good measure.  Still there was no response from the cats.  Curious as to why they weren’t responding, Katie went to the living room to see what mischief they were up to that precluded a table scrap snack.  Well this is strange, she thought as she entered the living room and found no boisterous play in action.  Walking over to the recliner with the duffle, she found them all awake, but still coiled in the bag, surrounding the two marbles.  As she reached down to check them out, Spice looked up and made a protective growling noise.  Not aggressive, but definitely protective.  Katie stopped her motion out of shock more than fear and then reached in again.  This time, Butter, placed a paw over one of the balls and opened her mouth wide baring her teeth, causing Katie to stop her attempt once more.


“Dean!  You better come in here,” Katie called with a touch of alarm in her tone.


In the kitchen, Dean heard Katie’s call and stopped washing the pie pan, grabbed the kitchen towel and hurried to the living room.  “What’s wrong?” she asked as she stepped beside her partner.


“It’s the cats.  They’re being a bit weird.  They won’t let me pick up the duffle bag.  Watch.”  Katie again attempted to reach into the duffle and elicited the same reaction from Spice and Butter, and this time Sugar’s nape hairs stood on end.  “See.”


“I see what you mean.  Let me try.”  Dean extended her hand and the three cats shifted their position to address Dean’s intended action.  As her hand reached in to grab the handle that had flopped inside, the normally docile Butter nipper her finger, drawing a minuet droplet of blood that dripped onto the blue-green ball and slid down the curve.  On the underneath side, the surface of the marble shimmered slightly and absorbed the tiny droplet. 


“Ow!” Dean exclaimed, pulling her hand back and checking the tiny puncture.  “Hmm, this is strange.”  Not wanting a repeat performance by Butter, she suggested, “Let’s try some food instead of my hands.”  She went back into the kitchen and brought out their food dishes, but had added fresh tuna fish from a can before she came out, knowing that they never could resist tuna fish.  She waived the dishes near them, eliciting interest and three sniffing noses.  Finally, the aroma was too much for them and all three felines jumped out of the duffle and followed Dean, tails held erect, much like a scene from some Pied Piper sketch.


As soon as the cats left with Dean, Katie reached into the bag and removed the two marbles, gently rolling them in her right hand much like Humphrey Bogart had in the film, Caine’s Mutiny.  They felt very warm as she did this and she attributed that to their being surrounded by three fuzz balls for most of the evening.  Picking up the duffle with her other hand, she took them all to the bedroom.  After dumping the rest of the contents of the bag on the bed, she walked around the bedroom trying to decide where to put the spheres she still held.  Then she remembered the two new display holders she got from Dirk for Christmas.  She went into the closet and pulled them out of their boxes, easily mounting them between the two padded arms.  She decided to put them on the headboard of the bed for the time being.  Moving back to the foot of the bed, she sorted the other items into piles.  The beach towels and washcloth were put in the hamper, and the snorkel gear was put back into storage for the next trip. 

* * * * *


It was close to 2230 when Dean reached over and gently lifted the book that was lying on her lover’s chest.  It had come to rest in that position ten minutes ago when Katie dozed off while trying to read in bed.  Katie was usually able to read in bed for quite a while before giving in to the old sandman, but tonight, she barely read ten pages.  Dean tucked the flap of the dust jacket between the pages to mark Katie’s spot then set the book on the headboard.  The two marbles caught her attention, and she picked one of the displays up holding it up to the light for a closer inspection.  Out of curiosity, she turned off the bed lamp and examined the ball in the light coming through the skylight.  She was deep in thought when she heard Katie’s voice.


“It’s really pretty isn’t it?”


“Mmm, it is.  Look at how the stars look through this.”  She held it so Katie could take it and observe the effect.


“Kinda gives them all a purplish hue.  It’s neat the way you can see through it when a light is behind it, but looks completely impenetrable when it’s not.”  She handed it back to Dean and picked up the other one, holding it up toward the skylight.  “This one is a blue-green.”


Dean replaced the one she held to the headboard and turned to face Katie.  “Well, they’ll make a nice memento of our trip.”


Katie put hers back too and rolled onto her side to come face-to-face with Dean.  “Hey, you know how you can make it up to me for that crack you made in the car last night?”


“Oh, oh.  Guess you didn’t forget about that,” Dean smiled sweetly, “Okay, whatdya have in mind?”


Katie scooted closer and pushed Dean’s shoulder back on the bed.  “Oh, maybe a little apology…or maybe,” she lowered her voice and spoke in a very seductive tone, “a little…” she crawled up on top of Dean, covering her long body with her shorter one… “exercise in submission …”  She bent down and began placing soft kisses on Dean’s neck, collar bone, and shoulders, followed by her tongue lightly dancing across Dean’s lips.


“Oh, yeah...” Dean mumbled as she felt a throb beginning at her core, “I … really need, ah, …” Her words were cut off as her lips were captured by Katie’s and the only conversation that followed were moans of pleasure and barely audible chants of affirmation at the peek of their arousal.  Unbeknownst to the lovers consumed in their passions, the orbs on the headboard began to glow very faintly.

* * * * *


Chapter 4

Thursday, 0630 Hours


Butter, Sugar, and Spice followed their two masters to the living room and watched as they donned their coats, set the security alarms, and left for their daily commute to their jobs.  Jumping onto the back of the couch and straining to see around the corner of the house, the three felines watched and waited until the twin Boxsters pulled down the road.  When the vehicles were out of site, they bounded from the couch and scampered through the house to the master bedroom where they immediately went to the headboard.  Butter and Sugar took up a position on the pillows facing the two luminescent balls while Spice boldly nudged each one and mewed softly before joining her mates on the pillows.  Almost instantly, the blue-green ball began to pulse, soon changing shape from the solid orb into a blue-green cloud that moved over the bed and onto the floor.  Three pairs of eyes followed the apparition as it shimmered and stretched itself into a more human shape, pulsing more rapidly as it became solid flesh and bone.  The last change came as a brilliant blue-green flash emanated from the eye sockets before finally solidifying into a pair of blinking, seeing eyes.  The transformation was now complete and the three cats purred at the sight of their taller master standing naked before them.  She was an exact duplicate of Dean, with one exception.  This Dean had green eyes that were as clear as a gemstone.


“Hello there my little friends,” she cooed as she stroked each purring feline.  Picking up Sugar, Janai gently examined the cat, tuning in to the cats physiology and noting that she had a seizure disorder.  “Poor thing,” she whispered in Sugar’s ear.  “I know just the thing that will fix that for you.”  She put the cat back down on the bed and ran her fingers along the sides of the animal.  Starting at the head and following through to the tip of her tail, she repeated the process but this time a slight glow appeared to emanate from her hands.  On the third pass, Sugar dropped down to the bed and immediately fell asleep.  “That’s it little one, you’ll be fine when you wake up.  I may be as vulnerable as my benefactor in this human form, but I still have many of my enhancements available to me, so why not put them to good use.”  She stroked the cat affectionately and watched as her mates sniffed her approvingly, then snuggled next to her for their morning nap.  Next, Janai walked over to the full-length dressing mirror and admired her new form.  “Nice.”  Flexing her muscles and turning to peer at her backside, she nodded approvingly.  “Good choice, Janai.  This form will do you well,” she told herself.  “But this hair will have to be altered.”  She ran her fingers through the long tresses before turning back to the bed.


“Well, my Princess, I guess I’d better see what I can do for you.”  She looked around the room and spotted Katie’s hairbrush.  “Ah, this will do.”  She examined the brush and selected a single strand of Katie’s blonde hair from the brush, and then walked over to the headboard, picking up the other ball.  Janai and Alana had assumed the suspended spherical state when the two humans decided to make a move toward them.  The only way out of that state was to resume the amorphous cloud shape or wait to assimilate some human fluid or tissue sample and replicate that human’s form.  They didn’t count on the two humans picking them up and taking them home with them, but it seemed that things were going to work out all right after all.  They luckily were transported to the United States, which was their final destination anyway.  Unfortunately, all their clothes, money, and identifications were still back on St. John.  Janai knew she could ‘create’ duplicates, but that would require a good deal of energy and she did not want that energy expenditure detected just in case Varian’s men were seeking them out. 


She placed Alana’s ball and the hair sample in her right hand and closed her fist around them for a few seconds then opened her palm.  The hair had been absorbed by the sphere, which was now pulsing a bluish-purple.  Setting the ball on the floor, she watched as it changed shape, stretching upward and taking form.  Soon, the naked body standing before her was identical to Katie, except for the eyes.  Hers were a deep blue, almost violet in hue.


“Thank you, Janai.  That suspended state is very uncomfortable.  I was afraid we were going to have to accept their form,” she joked pointing at the cats before continuing, “until that welcome bit of blood fell on you last night.”  Alana went to the mirror much as Janai had done, to assess her new form.  “Ohhh, I like this one.  It’s the nicest one I’ve had yet.”  She ran her fingers up and down her new body, relishing the feel of her hands, and the hidden strength she felt under her new skin. 


Janai watched as Alana explored her body.  Remembering the physical exchange between the real Dean and Katie the night before, she began wondering what it would feel like to touch Alana in that manner.  “I suppose we should put some clothes on.  It wouldn’t be practical for us to travel around in this state of undress,” she advised, shaking off the erotic thoughts.


Janai opened the door to the walk-in closet, waving her princess in, and then followed behind her.  When they exited, they were dressed in jeans, sweatshirts over t-shirts and tennis shoes.  They stopped to view themselves once more in the full-length mirror before exiting to explore the rest of the house and to glean information about the humans whose form they had adopted.  Janai had found a band for her hair and had pulled it back into a ponytail, thus eliminating the urge to cut it off.


“Well Janai, let’s see what we can find out about our benefactors.”  Alana led the way, observing the clean, neat home with respect as they toured each room, followed by the three curious cats. 


When they arrived at the den, Janai began an earnest exploration of the room.  Her curiosity peaked when she found many locked drawers and the secure closet where Dean kept a lot of her ‘special’ equipment.  Waving her hand over the locks she opened them for her inspection.  The first area inspected was the huge walk-in closet.  The items held within earned an appreciative nod from Janai although she was surprised to see them.  During their visit, they had not come across such a collection of items in one place before.  Her eyes scanned a wall of weaponry that included handguns and rifles of a variety of makes and models.  A separate closet off of this one held various pieces of electronic items, protective gear, night vision equipment, and communication modules.  On the den wall there was an impressive display of knives and short swords.  The latter items intrigued Janai as to their actual usefulness, but they certainly did present quite a visual presentation of unique items.


Going through the drawers built into the wall, she pulled them out one-by-one.  Each drawer was covered and lined with silicone-impregnated cloth.  When she pulled back the cover, the first drawer held several handguns and their matching ammo clips in depressions specifically designed for them.  Picking up one of the pistols, Janai examined it in detail, enjoying the feel of the weapon in her hand. 


“Primitive, but quite useful for this time and place.  I wonder if this is common with the people in this area?”  Returning it to its molded depression, she continued her inspection, occasionally selecting an item for further review.  The third and fourth drawers held displays of antique weapons all in excellent shape.  There were Colts, Remington’s, and Smith & Wesson’s.  Some were percussion models and some were early rim fire models.  All were in pristine condition.  As Janai finished examining the last drawer, Alana came into the closet.


“Janai, I think you will find this interesting,” she spoke quietly as she backed out of the closet and returned to the antique roll top desk that was in the room. 


Curious about Alana’s request, Janai scanned the closet, making sure that every item was in its original position before she followed Alana to the desk.  Alana had raised the roll top and had a small black notebook lying on the desk pad.  She was reading the pages intently when Janai stepped up to the desk.


“What is so interesting, Alana?” she asked as she peeked over her shoulder at the neat, hand written pages.


Alana looked up and smiled.  “It seems that the human you have adopted is much more than what she appears.  Take a look at this.”  She handed her protector the small notebook and sat back as she watched Janai read.  As she did, Janai began turning the pages faster and faster until she reached the end and looked up at Alana in question.


“Surely, this is a work of fiction?” she queried as she handed it back to Alana.


“I think not,” came the crisp reply.  “If it is, would it not be on the bookshelves upstairs?”


“Where did you find it?”


Alana removed the desk pad and pointed to a series of fine lines in the woodwork that, to an untrained eye would seem to be indiscriminate scratches in the antique desktop.  As she pressed each section, they could hear a series of clicks finally causing a wooden lid to a hidden compartment to lift, barely exposing the top of it.  Gently pressing on the back of the lid, the front raised up enough for her to insert her fingernail and raise it completely.  “In here,” she pointed to the interior that held a series of identical books each with an earlier date embossed on the cover.  There was also a copy of Deanna’s military records.  Included were several military certificates of recognition.  Each certificate described the reason for the specific award.  Some were made out to Lieutenant Deanna Peterson, some to Captain Deanna Peterson, and several to Major and Lieutenant Colonel Deanna Peterson.  “It seems your benefactor is also a protector.  Her file is very impressive.”


Janai flipped through the file, beginning to get a better picture of just who this human she adopted really is.  Then she reached in and selected another notebook, quickly scanning the contents, and selecting another until she had viewed all of the notebooks.  “Well, this certainly explains the closet with all the weaponry.”`


“I thought you would find this interesting.  She has had to walk a very dark path in the name of her country.”


Janai nodded, understanding the fierce loyalty that must have driven her benefactor.  She too could appreciate the call of duty, knowing fully that she would willingly give her life for Alana’s safety.  “What of your human?  Have you found out anything about her?  Does she also follow as dark a path?”


Alana, shrugged as she stood and went to the computer station.  She sat at the desk entering quick efficient keystrokes and pulled up a specific screen before answering Janai’s question. 


“It seems my entity has tracked a different course.  She has much the same qualities and abilities, but has not had to make the hard decisions or complete the dark tasks that yours has.”  She returned to the computer and pulled up Katie’s electronic journal.  “As you can see, she keeps her records in a more auspicious place.” 


Janai scrolled through the journal with incredible speed, easily agreeing with Alana’s interpretation, only slowing her reading for the entrees of the past year.  Her curiosity grew with the human’s words regarding her relationship with Dean.  Wondering if Alana was equally curious, she asked, “Did you read it all?”


“Hmm?  Oh, yes I did.”  Ah, Janai, she thought to herself, the last year is quite interesting, isn’t it?  Changing tact, she said, “I believe my father is right.  I have a lot to learn from the people of this world.”


“Well, if you are going to learn more, we should probably be on our way.  Do you know where you want to go next?”


Alana thought for a moment, then nodded.  “Yes, the capital of this country is near here.  I suggest we start there.  I’m sure there will be many things we can learn.”


It was nearly mid-day before they prepared to leave.  They had scouted out some old jackets they hoped wouldn’t be missed, said their goodbyes to the three cats, and ‘borrowed’ a tattered map of DC that Alana found in the bottom drawer of the desk along with a bus schedule and Metro map.  Janai handled the security system, easily programming it to allow them to exit before it reset automatically.  As they walked down the road, Alana looked back at the house wondering if she would ever have the chance to meet these interesting humans face-to-face.  She felt she had many questions she would like to ask them, but then, if they ever did meet, she was sure there would be many questions asked of them too.  Janai too, looked back over her shoulder at the house, only she had a disturbing feeling that she had overlooked something.  Sighing, she pushed the worry from her mind, concentrating her powers on her surroundings as she slipped into her protector role.

* * * * *


Thirty-some miles to the north of Occoquan in Falls Church, Virginia, the bodies of Eddie Lowe and Angie DiAngelo were found by one of their colleagues when they failed to show for work for the second day and did not answer their phone.  They were still in their bed, lying in each other’s arms.  There were no outward signs of foul play except for the eerie feeling the coroner had…that they knew they were embracing each other for the last time.  The police had arrived on the scene and were handling their deaths as possible homicides at the coroner’s request.  A final determination as to the cause of death would come after an autopsy of the bodies.  A homicide detective was sitting on the couch questioning the young woman who found the deceased.


“When was the last time you saw Mr. Lowe and Ms. DiAngelo,” Detective Graves asked gently.


A tear streaked face looked up.  “Um, it was…” tears glistened in the reddened eyes.  “I’m sorry, it’s just…” she grabbed another tissue.


“I understand,” he said softly.  “Just take your time, ma’am.”


Nodding, Felicia Weathers blew her nose once more in the tissue.  “It was the day after Christmas.  I took Eddie and Angie to the airport.  They were going on this…” she sniffled, wiping her nose again.  “…trip to St. John.  In the Caribbean …you know?”


“Did you talk to them when they got back?” He probed.


“Uh, yeah.    The day after New Year’s.”  She nodded somberly, remembering the phone call.  “Angie called from the airport to say they were back.  I was supposed to pick them up, but my car broke down.”  She shook her head.  “Eddie just laughed and said that they would take a cab back here.  He was always giving me a hard time about my car…”


“Was anything wrong?  Did they tell you about anything that happened on their trip?”


She thought for a bit.  “Well, Angie was just rattling away like she usually does.  She gets…got very animated when she talked.  I remember thinking that Eddie was probably ready to strangle her.  I could hear him in the background telling her she could tell me all about the trip at work the next day.”


“Strangle her?  Was Eddie an abusive boyfriend?”


“Oh, no…no, nothing like that!  He adored her.  He just would roll his eyes and pretend to strangle her when she got on one of her talking streaks.”  Felica chuckled, then broke down in tears again.  “I,…I guess he won’t be doing that again.”


“I see,” the detective nodded in sympathy as he handed her another tissue.  “So, they weren’t alarmed at anything, or worried about anything?”


“No, in fact, Angie was real excited about this cave dive they did on the last day.  She said she had a real story to tell me tomorrow…uh, the next day.  Something about this thing they saw and a piece of marble or something that they found,” she thought again, “Yeah, something like that.”


Detective Graves finished jotting down his notes before asking a final question.  “What kind of marble?  A statue or something made from marble?”


“She didn’t say, only that she would tell me about the trip at school.”


“Okay.”  He jotted a note to look for something made of ‘marble’ in the apartment.  “Is there anything else you can think of that may be helpful?  Were they into drugs?  Or kinky sex?”


She shook her head again, “No!  Not them!  Neither one of them would do drugs or do anything weird.  They were really stable.  You know, good heads on their shoulders, respectable…that kind of thing”


“Are you sure?  Maybe they got into something bad on their trip?  It happens,” the officer suggested.


“No way!  Those two were really health nuts.  They wouldn’t eat anything with preservatives.  They only ate fresh fruit and veggies, rarely eating red meat, and hardly drank at all, except for lots of water.”  She paused and looked up at the detective.  “Who would do this?  Eddie and Angie were just the sweetest two people.  I just don’t understand.”


“We’ll do the best we can to get to the bottom of this, Ms. Weathers.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card.  “If you think of anything else, just give me a call.”  He stood and gave the young woman a comforting squeeze on the shoulder before going back into the bedroom to talk to the coroner.


Walking into the back room, he watched the coroner’s attendants finish loading the body bags onto the gurneys.  Detective Graves nodded as he walked past them to talk to the coroner.


“Hey, Doc,” he said as he stepped up to the newly assigned medical examiner.  “What’s your take on this?”


The new coroner was a tall, curvaceous redhead with a southwestern drawl.  She had been with the department for only a month and already had most of the police force, including some of the female officers, salivating with desire  “Well, there’s no visible cause of death, Pete.  Outwardly, they both seem to have been healthy and fit,” she added.  “But the weirdest thing…wait guys!” she called to the morgue attendants as they started to take the gurney with the body bags out of the bedroom.  “C’mere and take a look at this.  Then tell me what you don’t see.”  She unzipped the first bag and gently turned the body over, exposing the back.  Then she did the same thing with the female body.  “Now, what’s wrong?”


“Hmm,” Detective Graves hummed, then looked at the backs of both bodies again, then the fronts.  “There’s no sign of pooling blood.”


“Good man!” the coroner exclaimed with pride.  “You’re absolutely right.  I figure these two have been dead for at least twenty-four hours.  From the position we found them in, there should be signs of pooled blood on their backsides.”


He nodded in agreement and then asked, “So, why isn’t there any?”


For an answer the tall coroner just shrugged her shoulders and responded, “That’s what I mean about weird.  Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the autopsy reveals.”  She snapped off her latex gloves and tossed them in the trash bag taped to the gurney.  “The lab guys will be here for a bit.  We’ll know more in a day or two when all the test results are in.”


“You’ve got my number, right?” he asked smiling.


“Yours and just about everyone else’s,” she laughed heartily.  “C’mon.  I’ll buy ya a cup of coffee while they finish up in here.”


Stepping around the lab boys, they left the apartment and headed for the Starbucks on the corner.


Two blocks from Angie and Eddie’s apartment, a teenage boy hurriedly turned the corner on his way home from school and bumped into a man quickly walking down the street.  The stunned teenager looked up to see his school counselor.


“Hey, Mr. Lowe!  I came to your office today for my appointment, but they said you weren’t there.  Playing hooky, eh?” the youngster joked.


The man who looked exactly like Eddie Lowe, stared at the youngster for a brief second, then kept on walking, ignoring the confused state of the teenager.  As he walked, he pulled out a packet of photos of the couple’s trip to St. John.  The last photo in the pack was a group shot on a diving cruise boat.  He flipped it over and found the names of each person printed on the back.  “Ah, that’s better,” the man said as he pocketed the photo and tossed the rest into a trash can on the street corner.  Looking at the bank building next to him, he caught his reflection in the window of the bank and thought back to the comment by the youngster.  “Well,” he softly spoke to himself, “you better find another body to shift into…it won’t do to have a dead man walking about.”  With that, he began to search for a likely donor.

* * * * *


Janai and Alana had walked to the main intersection in Occoquan after leaving Dean and Katie’s home.  As they looked down the road for the express bus that would take them into DC an unmarked police car pulled to the curb next to them.


“Hey, Colonel,” Lieutenant Green called after rolling down the window and followed with a nod at the other woman, “Hi, Katie.  You two just out for a stroll?”


At first confused, Janai recovered quickly, and nodded at the man in the car.  Realizing that he must be a friend of the humans, she smiled at him and answered, “No, just waiting for the bus into DC.”


The Lieutenant shook his head and laughed.  “You mean to tell me that those matched Boxsters are on the fritz already?”  He laughed again before adding, “Buy American next time!”


Alana realized that the man must have been referring to something the women owned, so she decided to just go with his comment and hopefully give him an answer that would make sense.  “Oh, no…we’re just going to meet some friends and thought we’d go in on the bus.  They’re bringing us back later.”  She remember seeing a billboard about friends not letting friends drive drunk, then added, “Don’t want to drink and drive.”


Janai nodded at Alana and made a note to compliment her princess on her quick thinking later.


“Good idea, Katie,” the police officer agreed then had a thought.  “Hey, I’ve got to go to the airport to pick up my brother.  I can drop you off at the Metro stop there if you want.  That’ll save you the bus trip in.  The Metro is so much faster.”


Alana and Janai looked at each other hesitating and trying to come up with an appropriate response.


Seeing the hesitation, the police officer elaborated that he was off duty and it wouldn’t be a breech of department ethics.  “Besides, you’re both government employees, so technically you’re not civilians.”  He chuckled as he slid over on the bench seat and opened the door for them.  “C’mon.  It’s just a short ride anyway.”


“It’s not…” Janai started.


“…a bad idea,” Alana cut in, smiling at a surprised Janai.  “The Metro stop would be fine.”


“Great!  Hop in!” Lieutenant Green slid back behind the wheel as the two women moved to get in.  “You can tell me about your trip to St. John on the way up.”


Janai gave Alana a ‘look what you got us into’ glare as she waved Alana into the front seat first before sliding in next to her and closing the door.  From what Janai could remember during her quick review of the map they’d found, the airport would be at least a twenty-minute ride.  Making conversation with someone who obviously knew their benefactors, while they didn’t even know his name, was going to be tricky unless Alana would be able to use her ability to read thoughts.  But that meant she would have to touch him.  She scooted closer to Alana, causing her to slide even closer to the driver; it was a tight fit in the front seat anyway, but the extra contact might help.


Alana smiled at Janai as her leg came into contact with the man.  She closed her eyes for a brief moment then said, “So, Lieutenant do you really want to know about our trip?”


“Sure thing, Katie.  I’ve never been to St. John, but heard it’s beautiful.”  He checked his mirrors then pulled away from the curb.  “Tell me all about it.”


Alana began with a description of the island; it’s lush vegetation, beautiful beaches, and sparkling clear water.  She told him about the friendly people, the shops and island foods.  She could speak from experience because they had been there observing the island people.  It was their last stop before going on to the United States for the last leg of their earth tour.  Luckily they had been on earth for quite some time and were accustomed to the different languages and particulars of many countries.  They had saved the United States for their final stop before returning home because Alana’s father said they would learn the most there.   By the time she finished telling Lieutenant Green about the sea life they observed, he was pulling up to the entrance of the Metro stop at Reagan National Airport.  Janai was only too glad to get out of the car when the Lieutenant announced the stop.


“Thanks for the ride,” Janai said in a controlled tone as she closed the car door and waived.  Lieutenant Green returned the gesture as he pulled away from the curb and headed toward the parking area.


“See, that went well,” Alana said as they walked to the elevator leading to the Metro stop.


“It’s a good thing you were able to use your ability to read thoughts,” Janai huffed.


“You worry too much Janai.  He’d never been to that island, so he wouldn’t know if what I told him was correct or not anyway.  Besides, everything I told him was fact.  Now, let’s go see what we can learn about this country and it’s people.”


Lieutenant Green was turning into a vacant parking slot when he got the strangest feeling that something wasn’t quite ‘right’ about his little visit with Dean and Katie.  The more he thought about it, the more he couldn’t put a finger on it.  Dean was very quiet and reserved, but that was normal.  Katie seemed to be her bubbly self and that was normal too, but there was something…he just had this gut feeling.  “Nah, it’s just your imagination,” he told himself as he pulled into the short-term parking lot.

* * * * *


The double for Eddie Lowe found his donor as he rode on the Orange line train from the Metro stop in East Falls Church.  At the Court House stop, a young man had entered the train.  The man was in his mid twenties, tall and blond, with an athletic build.  The double positioned himself next to the young man as he waited for the train to depart the station, listening as his target chatted idly with the female he was with.  The man was a Marine, newly assigned to Quantico and he and his girlfriend were doing some sightseeing.  When the train jerked to life and began picking up speed as it left the station, the double bumped the man hard as he intentionally lost his balance.  It was just enough of a distraction to take a tiny sample of the man’s blood with his palmed extractor from the Marine’s thigh and…pick his pocket.  Apologizing, the double quickly moved to an open seat, grabbed the newspaper that was left there and opened it, effectively hiding his face from them while he absorbed the blood sample.  The next stop was the Rosslyn transfer station where the couple got off to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial.  When the double put the newspaper back down, he was a mirror image of the young Marine.  He watched as the young couple walked to the escalator and rose out of sight.  As the doors began to close, he put the newspaper back on the empty seat next to him and gazed out the window at the crowd waiting for the next southbound train.  His watchful eyes caught the sight of a tall, uniformed female.  It only took an instant for him to register the face.  He pulled out the photo from his pocket and smiled as he located her standing behind Eddie and Angie in the picture.  He flipped it over and noted the name, Dean, followed by Wash., DC.  There was one other listing with the same city, that one had the name Katie next to it.


* * * * *

Continued - Part 2

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