Grace Lasky and Agent Black parked their car half a block down the street from Vince Carter's house.
It was close to midnight. The lights in his house were on, and his garage door was closed.
"His vehicle isn't in the drive" observed Agent Black. "The lights are on. Maybe it's parked in his garage?" Grace answered.
She grimaced silently at herself, already knowing from experience that Vince parked his jeep inside the garage when he was home and secretly hoping that Agent Black didn't consider her comment suspicious.
Agent Black was inspecting Vince's house through a pair of small binoculars, and noticed a shadow moving behind the blinds in the main window on the front of the house. "Good call Lasky. Looks like he's in there" replied the older agent, not offering any indication that he was suspicious of her observation.
"It's about time he got back" continued Agent Black. "He's been in and out all week. I figure he already knows we're keeping tabs on him so he was probably staying on the move all week to prevent us from doing so. Some sort of sick game to him I suppose".
Agent Black shifted in the driver's seat, it's leather covering crackling loudly in the car. "Well, we have him now, and I don't intend to lose him".
"Do we intend to question Mr. Carter directly?" asked Grace.
Agent Black gave her a quick glance and then looked back at Vince's house. "No, Agent Garth and Mr. Lawless already have. Our orders are just to keep an eye on him and his movements. We'll wait for Mr. Carter to make a mistake. If Agent Garth thinks Vince was involved in the bombing of Mr. Watt's trailer, I believe him. Hopefully, Vince will do something to hang himself".
Grace silently sighed in relief, because the last thing she wanted to do was confront Vince and have him give her away, but that relief was short-lived. "Now Agent Lasky, it's time for you to do a little surveillance on your own ....."added Agent Black.
" .....Sir?" she asked, slightly surprised. "Parked behind us is a black Taurus, left there earlier today by one of Mr. Lawless' operatives. Your assignment is to take that vehicle to 23444 Rivernut Avenue and begin surveillance of the Macks' residence". Grace's face went pale, but Agent Black didn't notice.
"But we have Mr. Carter's location already determined ....." she said hesitantly.
"A precautionary measure Agent Lasky" Agent Black interjected calmly. "There's a remote possibility that Mr. Carter is not the one responsible for the attempt on Mr. Watt's life, or that he may have had help. We have to cover all possibilities".
Grace saw the logic in Agent Black's words, but didn't like it one bit. This field assignment was already nerve-racking enough, and now she could be exposing herself to Alex Mack, who could identify her former involvement with Vince.
The bad thing about all of this was that Grace didn't harbor any ill feelings for Alex anymore. When she helped Vince try to expose Alex a year ago, it was because she needed the money. It was an act of youthful ignorance, and something she wasn't very proud of. She knew what Vince had told her about this "GC-161 Kid", but she didn't know the whole story. He only told her at the time that he wanted to expose this kid and get back in good favor with his ex-boss, Danielle Atron.
Now, a year later, when she heard about David Watt's testimony that Vince had been hired to murder Alex Mack and the subsequent attempt made on Dave's life, it deeply disturbed her. She never wanted anybody dead! All she wanted was the money to help her make it as an FBI agent.
She privately hated herself for having anything to do with Vince in the first place, but how would it look to Agents Black and Garth is she came clean and told them what she knew? All Grace could do now was try to do the right thing this time. Alex Mack may consider Grace Lasky an enemy, but she was actually an ally.
Alex may have made a fool out her a year ago, but how could she blame her for only trying to protect herself?
Agent Black noticed Grace's hesitation. "Is there a problem Agent Lasky?"
"Uh, no sir" she replied.
"First, determine that Alexandra Mack and her family are home and keep an eye out on their house" instructed Agent Black. "I'll contact you in the morning. Report back to me if you run into anything you consider out of the ordinary. Not that teenagers running around with super powers isn't anything exactly commonplace".
Grace cracked a smile at her partner's joke. Tim Black was an experienced field agent, but always knew when to inject a little humor sometimes to make Grace feel more comfortable.
"I'll get over there right away sir".
It was late Saturday morning, and Alex paced nervously in the den of her house as Ray sat on the couch, channel-surfing with the t.v. remote. Alex was dressed in typical fashion; baggy jeans, a red sweatshirt with a wide black stripe across the chest, and a matching red knit ski cap on her head.
Ray was becoming desperate trying to see the t.v. with Alex constantly walking in front of it. Every time he tried to lean to one side, there was Alex, right in the way. He rolled his eyes and tossed his hands up in the air in complete frustration.
"C'mon Alex!" Ray pleaded. "Would you chill out? You're going to walk a rut into the carpet if you keep pacing like that".
"I can't help it Ray ....." she countered. "I'm just too wound up! I'm about to do something that Annie doesn't want me to do, but I feel like I have to. I just wish they would hurry up and get here so I can get this over with. I'm not glowing am I?"
"No, you're not glowing ....." Ray assured with a sigh.
Alex stopped pacing and plopped down beside Ray on the couch, dropping her forehead on his shoulder.
Pouting, she let out an audible moan. "Am I doing the right thing?" Once again, Ray rolled his eyes at Alex's theatrics.
"Hey, Alex. I know how Annie can be" he admitted. "And in one way, I can understand where she's coming from. But this time, I think you're right. I think you should tell Nicole and Louis about your powers returning. Remember all the hassles you had when you were trying to hide them? Anyway, we need all the help we can get if you want to try and find out who blew up Dave's trailer".
Late last night before going to bed, Alex explained to Annie that she intended to enlist Nicole's and Louis's help in trying to find out who bombed Dave's trailer, and also tell them about her powers returning.
Annie nearly exploded like the bomb that ripped Dave's trailer apart.
"Are you out of your mind Alex?!" she recalled Annie's exact words, but Alex didn't intend to lie to her friends anymore. Annie assured her that her powers were permanent, and after going through four years of lying to her friends, she didn't like the idea of lying to them for the rest of her life.
Alex lifted her head from Ray's shoulder to look at him. "..... And what about Rachael? I don't feel right about telling Nicole and Louis and not telling your girlfriend. She's my friend too Ray, and I feel like I'm lying to her too".
"Rachael and I are just dating, and if she needs to know, then you can tell her. Let's just play it by ear for now, o.k.?" Ray countered calmly.
Then the front doorbell rang.
Alex shot up as a sudden bright glow shone on her face, reflecting intensely off the t.v. screen. The t.v. suddenly fizzled and turned off and the lamps on each end of the couch flickered and went out.
"Geez Alex! Calm down for cryin' out loud!" Ray exclaimed.
"I can't help it Ray, I ..... oh hell....."
Alex was suddenly a five foot six, silvery liquid humanoid standing in front of Ray. He knew Alex's nerves were shot. She was terrified about if she was making the right decision or not. It was Louis' own carelessness that exposed secret in the first place a week ago, and now, Alex was going to voluntarily tell him, and Nicole, about her all-new secret world.
When Alex called Ray to come over an hour ago, she told him how Annie came down so hard on her the night before, that she and Annie wound up in an argument so loud that it roused their mother from her sleep.
Mrs. Mack rushed into their room to find her two daughters standing between their beds nose-to-nose yelling at each other. When she interceded, Alex grabbed a pillow and blanket off her bed and stormed out of the room to sleep on the downstairs couch. Ms. Mack was completely beside herself when neither one of her daughters would not tell her what they were fighting about.
Ray looked at Alex incredulously. "Man Alex, it's a good thing your parents went to see your Uncle Bernard today. You're a total wreck!"
"I know Ray, I'm sorry ....." Alex gurgled as her human shape collapsed in on itself and puddled on the floor. "It's them Ray, they're here. I can sense Robyn, Nicole, and Louis outside the door" she added.
"Uh, o.k." Ray stuttered. "Are you going to reform before we let them in?"
"I'll try" she whimpered.
Alex's puddle-form suddenly reacted. It columned upwards from it's center to Alex's normal height and expanded outwards into a rough human shape. With a watery swishing sound, Alex reformed back into a teenage girl. She held her hands up in front of her and inspected them.
"Now get a hold of yourself Alex, o.k.?" Ray said in a concerned tone, placing his hands on her shoulders. She nodded in consent while taking a deep breath.
"Yeah Alex" said a voice softly behind them. "We wouldn't want you exploding all over your friends and scaring them half to death".
Alex and Ray turned to see Annie standing in the entrance between the den and the kitchen, her arms folded across her chest, a stern look on her face. The memories of their horrible confrontation last night flashed through Alex's mind.
"Annie?" Alex asked sheepishly. "Why are you here? I thought you said you didn't want to have any part of this". Annie stared at Alex for a moment, and then her grave expression softened considerably. Annie dropped her arms to her sides and walked up to Alex.
Alex was unsure what would happen next.
Standing before her taller younger sister, Annie silently reached up and gently swept a stray lock of Alex's hair off her shoulder and secured it behind her ear, just like her mother did habitually. A cold flush flowed through Alex's head, and she could sense a great feeling of remorse emanating from Annie.
"Annie?" asked Alex. "Are ... are you o.k.?"
"I am now little sister" Annie choked as her big brown eyes welled and a single tear ran down her cheek.
Annie hugged her little sister, pinning Alex's arms. Alex couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the emotions she was feeling from her older sibling, and her eyes welled with tears too.
"I'm sorry Alex. I'm sorry I said all those terrible things to you last night" Annie apologized with a sniffle.
Returning Annie's hug as best she could, Alex looked at Ray. He was just standing there staring at them with a sentimental grin on his face.
The doorbell rang again.
Alex flinched at him, motioning to him to let Robyn, Nicole, and Louis in. Ray nodded in acknowledgement and moved towards the front door as Alex gently broke Annie's hug, took her by the hand, and drew her into the kitchen. There, she stopped to talk to Annie as Ray let her friends in.
Alex still felt the mildly numbing cold flush in her head while she looked at her sister. She now sensed extreme guilt coming from Annie.
"No Annie, don't feel like that. It's part my fault too. I said some pretty bad things too" Alex pleaded.
Annie turned to the counter, pulled several tissues from a box, and wiped her eyes. Looking back at Alex, she chuckled. "Amazing. Not only can you morph, move objects with your mind, and generate electricity, now you can sense emotions".
Alex felt the cold flush in her head dissipate. "Sorry 'bout that Annie. I ... I can't help it".
Annie lovingly touched Alex's cheek. "I know Alex, I know. It's just that, I'm worried about you is all, and I don't want to see anything bad happen to you. Last week, when you were discovered and kidnapped by Danielle, I almost lost my little sister. I just don't want to see that happen again".
"I know you care about me Annie, but ..... but I can't go the rest of my life lying to my friends either. I have to do this".
"You've grown up into such a beautiful person Alex, and maybe it's time I realized that you're not a little girl anymore" Annie continued. "Maybe it's time I stopped trying to run your life so much and let you make your own decisions".
"So, are you going to come in there with me while I do this?" Alex asked, motioning her head towards the den where her friends were. "I won't lie to you Alex, I still don't like this, but I realize that you're old enough to make your own decisions, and I'm not going to interfere in that anymore. You're my little sister, and I love you so much. So I'm going to go in there with you".
Alex beamed a huge smile. "Thanks Annie". Alex turned with her sister and walked towards the entrance leading into the den, but stopped long enough to whisper into Annie's ear, " I love you too".
From the vantage point in her car, Grace Lasky watched three teens go into Alex's house through her own small pair of binoculars. A short, stocky boy with red hair, a fair-skinned red-haired girl, and a black girl with long, dark, braided hair. Grace immediately recognized them as Alex's closest friends, Louis Driscoll, Robyn Russo, and Nicole Wilson.
She remembered how Nicole doubted her sincerity a year ago when she tried to win Alex's friendship, and couldn't help but respect the girl's keen ability to quickly spot her as a fake.
Grace envied Alex for the many friends she had. She never had any real friends of her own.
Dismissing her personal thoughts, she noticed Alex's next door neighbor and best friend, Raymond Alvarado, let the trio of teens in and then lean out onto the porch and make a quick scan of the outside before closing the door behind him. Grace noted his suspicious behavior.
"Odd" she said quietly, lowering her binoculars. A cell phone on the seat beside her chirped. She picked it up, hit the 'talk' button, and put it to her ear. "This is Lasky".
"No Agent Black, nothing going on here....." Grace answered into the phone. " .....Yes sir. Her parents left about an hour and a half ago, and right now several of Alex Macks' friends have come over. Looks like a normal Saturday to me so far .......Yes sir, I could use some breakfast and some shut-eye...... I should be back at the hotel within the hour ...."
Grace pressed the 'off' button and set the cell phone back down on the seat. She couldn't get Ray Alvarado's strange behavior out of her mind.
With a final gaze at the Mack house, Grace cranked up her car and drove off.