"Thank God we're home!" moaned Alex loudly as she, Annie, and Ray stormed through the door into the Mack garage. "I didn't think I could hold it any longer!" As soon as Ray shut the door behind them, Alex 's skin began to glow with a bright golden hue, lighting up half of the room.
It was a common reaction whenever Alex was nervous or scared, and right now, she was scared out of her wits, and it took every bit of mental effort she had to keep herself from glowing until they got home. Since night had fallen, it would have been pretty obvious to all passers-by if Alex was shining like a roman candle in the back of her jeep.
"Geez Alex! Cool it! Mom and Dad could get home at any time! The last thing they need to see is you lit up like a Christmas tree!" Annie argued. Alex turned on her sister, her nerves pretty much shot. "Well I'm sorry Annie. I didn't mean to make such a scene when I came in. I'll just flick the switch on the back of my head and turn my glow off ...".
Annie frowned at Alex, but didn't continue to berate her. This day already had enough nerve-wracking excitement in it, and getting into an argument with Alex wasn't going to make it any easier.
On the way home after Annie and Ray picked her up, Alex explained everything to them how it was her old nemesis Grace Lasky who was spying on them and following her. She also explained how she flowed through the chain link fence when she still had her human appearance. Annie listened as she drove, growing more worried with each passing block. She wasn't sure if the re-appearance of Grace Lasky or Alex demonstrating yet another bizarre ability worried her more. As Alex related what happened as they sped home, each of them kept looking behind them to make sure they weren't being followed by any black sedans.
She turned to her sister with a desperate look on her face. "What the heck are we going to do Annie?". Annie held her hands up in a calming gesture at her younger sister.
"First of all Alex, we've got to keep our wits about us and not panic". Ray just watched on in nervous silence, not making the mistake of cracking jokes at a serious time like this.
"What do you mean 'not panic'?!" snapped Alex. "I think now is a pretty good time to! That was Grace Lasky spying on us, who was driving a car that you said had government plates! She must be an FBI agent now!" Alex was referring to when Grace was posing as a high school junior at Danielle Atron High as a spy for Vince Carter a year ago.
After Grace managed to befriend Alex, she and Ray happened across Grace when they saw her going into Vince's house. Alex morphed inside and eavesdropped on their plans to expose her secret world, and during their conversation, Grace explained that she was about to start an FBI training course. Alex and Annie had to think fast to convince Vince that Alex wasn't the GC-161 Kid.
They eventually succeeded by setting Grace up and making her look like a fool in front of Vince, but they never expected to see her again either, especially now, as an FBI agent!
"Alex, she didn't see you do anything did she? You ditched her without making it look unnatural didn't you? Just calm down until we can sit down and think about this..." urged Annie as she opened the door leading into the kitchen and turned on the light. Alex and Ray entered behind her.
"Maybe they know I still have my powers Annie! Maybe they're onto me?" Alex pleaded.
"Alex, let's try covering all options before just jumping to .....". Ray was the last one in and unintentionally closed the door with a sharp slam, interrupting Annie.
She jumped in surprise as Ray grimaced at his goof, but Alex, who's nerves were already frazzled, gasped at the noise and instantly disintegrated out of sheer fright into a puddle with a loud splash!
It was an instantaneous transformation into liquid, as if Alex was a pail of water which had been poured out onto the floor. Only her clothes were left behind as Alex's puddle-self slinked out of her empty heap of garments and positioned herself directly at Ray's feet.
"Damnit Ray!" exclaimed Alex in gurgling irritation. "Now look what you've done, and I can't make myself re-form either!" Ray shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, the door just slipped from my hand .....".
Annie placed her hand on her forehead and shook her head exasperation. She was thankful their parents' car was not in the front drive when they got home, which meant they were not back from their Uncle Bernard's yet. It was like they were in a horror movie just waiting for the killer to jump out at them.
"What a day" she sighed quietly to herself, only to jump again when the phone suddenly rang.
Grace maneuvered her car quietly along the curb of a vacant lot half a block down from the Mack house and came to a stop. She shut the car off and looked at the Mack residence through her mini-binoculars. Alex's jeep was there and a light was on in the house. Grace sighed in relief that she had found the teens again.
What she didn't understand was why Alex led her on a wild goose chase earlier.
She was sure they knew they were being watched, and it struck Grace odd that they would react in such a manner. Maybe it was because Dave was such a good friend and they feared that the same person that bombed his trailer was the one after them. That made sense to her. She grabbed her cell phone, hit the speed-dial, and placed it to her ear. "Agent Black? Lasky ....." she said into the phone.
"Yes, I still have Alex Mack under surveillance, but I think they may be onto me" she reported. "Yes sir. I'll be discreet. All is quiet now, so I'll report back in the morning." Grace turned the phone off and tossed it into the seat beside her. She reached into the back seat where she kept a cooler and a basket, and retrieved a sandwich and a cold bottle of water. Grace prepared herself for another long night of watching the Mack house. She noticed Mr. and Mrs. Mack were still gone, and were possibly not due back this evening.
She was tired too, but that was part of the job. She knew that Agent Black requested another pair of agents to help them watch the Macks and keep an eye on the movements of Vince Carter and that they were due in tomorrow. She settled in as the cool night air placed a chill on the interior of the car.
"...And here we go again Alex Mack. Let's hope you stay in one place this time".
"Yeah, we're alright mom" Annie said into the phone. "You guys go ahead and spend the night at Uncle Bernard's. We'll be fine ......Alex?" Annie asked her mother nervously, looking at her sister's puddle-form on the floor.
"Oh, she's busy. She's uh, taking a bath right now, and is .....dripping wet. Sure thing mom, we'll see you tomorrow morning. Love you. Bye". Annie hung up the phone and gave out a loud sigh of relief. "Well, at least that's one problem avoided" she admitted to Alex and Ray.
"Alex, are you o.k. down there?" she asked, looking down at her melted sister, picking her clothes up from the floor.
"Yeah, I think so. I think I can reform in a couple more minutes" she answered back in her eerie, gurgling morph-voice. "O.k. then" Annie began, absently handing Ray Alex's clothes and then stepping to the refrigerator, taking out three sodas, and grabbing up a bag of chips on the counter.
"Let's try to soak up all of what happened today. No pun intended Alex. Let's go in the den and relax. It'll probably help Alex calm down so she can reform".
She motioned to Alex and Ray to follow her into the den. Ray fell into step behind Annie as Alex slithered behind them, sloshing as she went. After Annie turned the lights in the den on, sat the sodas and bag of chips on the coffee table, and plopped onto the couch. Ray sat in the loveseat and Alex flowed up onto the couch at the other end from Annie.
Annie's soda hissed as she opened it and took a sip. She leaned back into the soft padded couch, momentarily closing her eyes as she felt her muscles relax.
"So, what are you thinking Annie?" asked Ray, placing Alex's clothes on the coffee table and reaching for a soda. "Just trying to absorb everything that's happened over the last three hours" she answered. "I must admit, Grace Lasky showing back up as an agent for the government has thrown me for a loop. It's something I never expected".
"That's a first ..." commented Alex sarcastically from her liquid-form.
"Maybe Alex was right. Maybe they've found out about her powers returning somehow?" Ray added. Annie shook her head in prompt refusal. "No, I don't think so, especially after Dad convinced that guy Gino Lawless from the FDA about the antidote he gave Alex. I mean, I just don't see how they could know anything about her. There has to be another reason for Grace Lasky following us".
"Ray" gurgled Alex. "I feel like I can reform now. Toss me my clothes". "Huh? Oh, yeah, sure" he said, grabbing up Alex's clothes and plopping them right on top of Alex's puddle-form. The clothes suddenly liquified and melted into Alex's ooze-self.
With a barely audible slurping noise, Alex's puddle-form slowly elongated in two different directions, upwards and over the edge of the couch. It then expanded outwards taking on a human shape. As it did, it solidified and finally changed into Alex's human form, and fully clothed too. "There" she said with a smug smile. "All back to normal".
"Show off" Annie poked. Alex leaned forward and picked up a soda and grabbed a handful from the bag of chips. "So, if you don't think Grace and the FBI know about me, why do you think Grace was spying on us?"
"Maybe it's because she wants some sort of revenge against you for making her look like a fool to Vince before? If she's an FBI agent now, that would give her a huge advantage in getting even" speculated Ray. Alex cocked her head in serious thought at Ray's proposal. "No, I don't think so" Annie disagreed again, kicking her shoes off to get more comfortable.
"Remember that by helping Vince try to expose Alex a year ago, Grace involved herself in a plot to harm Alex, and I'll bet she never told the FBI about it. When Alex morphed into Vince's house that day and overheard their conversation, even Vince said he wasn't one of the FBI's favorite people. That means he's had run-ins with them before and there's no way Grace could have afforded to let them know. They would have never allowed her to become an agent. My guess is that the last thing Grace would ever want is to be exposed by Alex".
"I gotta admit Annie, that's pretty ironic" Ray confessed with a chuckle. "It still doesn't explain why she was watching us and following me" Alex chimed in with a frustrated whimper.
"The only thing I can think of is that Grace is part of the FBI team sent here to investigate the bombing of Dave's trailer. If she is an FBI agent now, she couldn't have been one for long, so I doubt she could be that serious of a threat to you right now Alex. The newspaper report suggested Dave was a valuable witness against Danielle Atron and PV Chemical. Someone might have bombed his trailer in an attempt to keep him from testifying".
"Wait a minute Annie" interrupted Alex. "Aren't I a 'valuable witness' against Ms. Atron and PV Chemical too? What about you and Dad, and even Ray?" Annie suddenly realized what Alex just said, and all they exchanged long, desperate looks amongst them.
"You mean we could all be targets for who bombed Dave's trailer?" Ray asked incredulously, almost choking on a swig of soda. Their blood ran cold when there was a loud knock at the front door.