Chapter 11: The Parent Trap – part 5
Shane felt like he was trapped in a virtual reality simulator from hell. He simultaneously floated in the cold security of his alien side, heard Frasier’s babbling, and felt Gibson’s hands shaking Harris. It’s the bloody bracelets! she thought as she tried again to claw hers off. It hurt like a sonofabitch, and her continued panic threatened his calm.
Annoyed, Shane projected his inhuman calm on Harris. Gradually her hand slowed, as did her heart rate and breathing. Shane noticed that they matched his. Intriguing, he thought, peering at the bracelet around his wrist. Aloud he reported, “We’re psychically linked.” While part of his mind examined how the metal adhered to his skin, he turned his eyes to Gibson. “I want a list of everyone with access to wherever these were stored.” He’d find out who’d dared to fuck with him, and there’d be hell to pay.
Before Gibson replied Shane called to his son. Jacob, I need for you to go to our quarters and get my prism. Bring it to me in the infirmary.
You’re in the infirmary?
Shane resisted the urge to vent some of his frustration on his son. Yes. And I need my crystal. Bring it here.
Because some a– Shane took a deep breath before continuing. No more questions. Just do it.
Worry coursed from his son. Yes, Dad.
Shane sent Jake a pulse of reassurance. He hadn’t meant to alarm the boy.
Light flashed, and Ashlynn appeared at the foot of Harris’ bed. “Mummy! What happened? What’s wrong?” Before she had a chance to answer, the girl turned to Frasier and Gibson. “Daniel, Dr. Frasier, what’s wrong with my mother? Is she going to be all right?”
“I’m fine,” Harris said with an unconvincing smile, taking her daughter’s hand.
Frasier added, “Fine at the moment. But there’s–”
Shane felt and heard Jake barrel into the infirmary. His son ducked through the privacy curtain and made a beeline for Shane’s bed. He handed Shane his prism, his face creased with worry. “Now can you tell me what’s wrong?” Jake divided his gaze between Shane and Harris. “Why are you and Mom here? Did you give each other some weird alien STD?”
Shock rippled through the room, and Shane fought to maintain his hold on the void. He scowled at Jacob as he took his prism, wondering for the thousandth time why he’d complicated his life with this ingrate 12 years ago. Deep down he didn’t mean it. It was Harris’ fault the kid was such a smartass, anyway. “Not helping, Jacob.”
Shane turned to Frasier and Gibson, who were barely keeping straight faces. Frustration over the entire situation broke through his alien calm. He was about to rip them a new one when he realized why he felt their emotions so clearly. It was Harris, not him. He heard her rambling surface thoughts as well as some of Gibson’s, Frasier’s, and the remaining nurse. At least his kids knew how to shield.
Harris was getting anxious again, so Shane took charge before she could throw him further off balance. “Figure out who’s behind this,” he told her. Then he focused on the silver crystal in his hand. “I’ll get these things off of us.”
Addison glared at Myers. To think that I once wanted to get inside his head. To Daniel she said, “I’m going to need that list of names. Everyone who had access to–”
“What things?” Ashlynn asked, gripping Addison’s hand more tightly. “You still haven’t told us what’s going on. Why are you here? Why’s Shane here?” Addison wanted to know as well. The prat could heal himself, so how’d he end up in the infirmary?
“I’m afraid that we haven’t gotten the full story yet,” Addison replied. “Dr. Frasier, you said that I passed out?” She did her best to ignore Myers’ stray thought about how her questions weren’t productive.
“Yes, you and Shane,” Frasier said. “You both were brought here immediately afterwards. That’s when I discovered the duplicates of the psychic transference bands on your wrists.”
Addison blinked. She looked at her wrist, then back to Dr. Frasier. “Duplicate?” Frasier affirmed with a nod. Addison turned to Daniel. “Who do you have working to duplicate these things?”
Daniel shook his head. “No one.” Despite his neutral tone, Addison knew he was telling the truth. “But I’m sure we’d all like to know who made this pair.”
“And why they chose to gift the two of you with them,” Dr. Frasier added.
Worry radiated from her children. Addison pulled Ashlynn into a hug and reached out to touch Jacob’s hand. It’s going to be fine. We’ll figure it out. And they’ll be off soon enough.
For a few moments Shane forgot about his predicament, lost in the bizarre molecular bonding securing the metal band to his wrist. It was like an exaggerated Van der Waals bond, but–
Harris’ question and incredulity broke Shane’s concentration. Absently closing his fingers around his dormant prism, he listened to the others’ exchange. Curiosity and anger warred as Harris comforted Ashlynn and their son. “When I find out who created these,” Shane said with a quiet, anger-taut voice, “I’m going to find out how they made them, then kill them.” Horror of all things surged from Jacob. Shane frowned at him. “Metaphorically. We can’t afford to lose a mind like that. But that sonofabitch won’t ever cross me again.”
Just like the wanker to assume that a man duplicated the bracelets.
Shane scowled at Harris from her stray thought. Don’t be so literal. I know perfectly well that a woman could have made these.
Daniel pointedly cleared his throat. Once he had their attention he gestured at the bracelets. “So?”
Shane shook his head. “I need to study them further. The molecular bonding–”
Daniel held up a hand to silence him. I hate it when he does that, Harris and Shane thought simultaneously, then glared at each other.
A giggle and a snicker interrupted the glare-off. Shane rounded on the kids. “You think this is funny?” The step that Jake and Ashlynn took back was most satisfying.
“If you have nothing better to contribute, go find something useful to do,” Addison chided.
Shane was about to get up, but realized that he was buck naked under the hospital sheet and light blanket. He turned to Dr. Frasier. “I feel fine now. Get me some clothes. I have work to do.”
Dr. Frasier moved to Myers’ bedside and checked the monitors. “I understand your eagerness to solve this mystery, but it’s not that simple, Shane. I need to check your vitals and –”
“I’m fine. You’d know if I wasn’t.”
The doctor continued as if there’d been no interruption, which amused Addison greatly. “You two need to consider the ramifications.”
“What ramifications?” Addison asked politely, mostly to annoy Myers.
“If these bands perform like the originals, and so far they seem to, then you two are going to be joined at the hip.” Satisfied with the monitor displays, Dr. Frasier turned to her patients. “There’s a distance limitation. You need to stay within 100 feet of each other. When you move out of minimum safe distance, degradation begins. You should have a few hours before you start feeling ill. Since these duplicates are new, we can’t be sure. For safety’s sake, you need to stay in close proximity.”
“Right,” Daniel said, as if it were his decision to make. “I’ll have security review the feeds outside your quarters last night.”
“Can we do that?” Ashlynn interjected. “We want to help, and that’s something that Jake and I can do, right? Mum’s going to be busy interviewing people and Shane’s going to be examining the bands, so let us help with the security recordings.”
Addison smiled at her daughter approvingly. She and Jake were always quick on their feet. Addison was glad to see her daughter’s prompt response in a crisis situation.
She’d felt a similar swell of pride from Daniel as well. Although he’d never admit it, Addison knew that he cared about Ashlynn to some degree. But she’ll never have with Daniel what Jake has with Shane.
Addison pushed the depressing thought aside. “I think that’s an excellent idea. Don’t you think so, Daniel?”
After a moment’s hesitation Daniel nodded. “Fine. Is there anything else, Dr. Frasier? I’d like to have my people working on this–and done with it–as soon as possible.”
“That’s all,” Frasier said. Then she turned to Addison and Myers. “But you two might want to consider temporary living arrangements.”
A flurry of emotions–not the least of which was dread–rippled through Addison. Cohabitation was a truly depressing notion.