PART NINETEEN

Alex swung the front door open and sighed in relief when she saw her friends Nicole Wilson and Robyn Russo standing on the front porch. Nicole noticed her nervousness when she saw her. "What's up Alex? Were you expecting someone else?" she asked with an unsteady half-smile. Alex motioned them in. "Yeah, Mulder and Scully ..." she replied with a serious chuckle. Nicole and Robyn glanced in confusion at each other. "C'mon in. Where's Louis?"

"He had to go home to finish up a big History assignment due Monday, so he dropped us off here ...". Nicole help up a slip of paper for everyone to see as Alex closed the front door behind them and locked it. "...And he sent this information with me".

"Where are your parents?" asked Robyn, looking around nervously. "They called and said they're staying at my Uncle Bernard's, so we're here by ourselves tonight. Have a seat ..." Alex offered politely. She sat beside Annie on the couch as Robyn took the far end and Nicole sat on the loveseat beside Ray. Alex tapped her forehead with the heel of her hand. "Geez, I'm sorry guys. How about a soda or something? I know you could probably use one". They nodded in acceptance and Ray went to get up. "I'll go get them one ....".

"Don't worry Ray, they're already on the way" assured Alex as the sound of the refrigerator door in the kitchen opening and closing could be heard by everyone in the den. Instantly, Annie rolled her eyes in expectation. Alex using her powers without even thinking was beginning to annoy her.

Into the room floated two cans of soda which positioned themselves in the air in front of both Robyn and Nicole. They both gently grasped the cans and Alex in turn released them. Alex could levitate objects if she already knew where they were as long as she could make a mental image of them. She only had to concentrate.

In the past, it used to make Annie so jealous whenever Alex was thirsty in the middle of the night. She could concentrate on a glass in the downstairs kitchen cabinets, float it to the refrigerator, fill it up with orange juice, and 'think' it all the way upstairs to herself. She remembered warning Alex back then about getting caught, and since her powers returned, she was being unbelievably reckless again.

It was seriously beginning to get on her nerves.

But for now, even through growing irritation, Annie took note how easily Alex performed this act of levitation. It didn't require several seconds of intense concentration like it once did; it took only a simple thought, and it happened instantaneously. When they were alone, Annie intended to run tests on the seemingly endless power of Alex's abilities. She watched her little sister closely and noticed she had no reaction to her intentions. It seemed Annie had made Alex feel guilty enough about using her telepathy so casually that she was no longer mentally eavesdropping.

Nicole smiled. "That is so awesome". Robyn looked at Nicole. "It's eerie, you mean". Alex grinned, knowing Robyn didn't mean anything bad by her comment.

"Is that the list of the hardware stores Louis said he was going to get Nicole?" inquired Annie, trying to get everyone focused. Nicole nodded and began to get up to give Annie the list, but Alex promptly floated it over to Annie.

"Alex!" Annie scolded angrily, startling everyone. Alex mouthed the word "What?" with an innocent expression, but Annie wasn't having anymore of it. "Enough already!".

Alex was stunned, as was everyone else. "I was just trying to help Annie. I didn't mean to...." she tried to explain, but Annie bolted to her feet and stood in front of Alex accusingly. "That isn't an excuse anymore Alexandra! And don't try that innocent puppy dog look on me either, because it ISN'T going to work this time!" screamed Annie. Alex sunk back into the couch and her face began to glow bright gold. Everyone else's blood ran cold and they gaped in awe at Annie's outburst.

Annie continued her rant. ".....Reading my mind whenever you want, going on wild goose chases with Grace Lasky with the FBI, morphing and levitating stuff .... What are you thinking?! Before you could have wound up Danielle Atron's lab rat, but now you have those powers f-o-r-e-v-e-r! You can't just keep abusing them the way you have been today! They're far too powerful to use so casually! You have to be careful with them!"

Just then, Alex felt a rush of anger flow into her from the close proximity of her sister, even without making physical contact. She was overwhelmed by Annie's emotions and couldn't help herself. Her temper flared. She stood and aggressively bumped chests with Annie.

"What you need to do Annie, is BACK OFF!" retaliated Alex loudly. Annie paused momentarily at Alex's rebuff, but re-engaged her sister. "'Back off'?! So you can zap, morph, or levitate something again until you get caught? That's how you got caught before; not thinking before you acted!"

Nicole squinted in confusion and asked delicately, "Uh guys? What did you mean 'Grace Lasky with the FBI'?". They didn't notice Nicole's question. Robyn was gaping in trepidation at the confrontation.

"If I want to zap, morph, or levitate anything 'Anne'....", Alex zapped the corner lamp on with an electrical bolt from her fingertip. " ....I will!".

" ..... And you'll 'zap' yourself right into someone's lab rat cage, and if you get caught, you could endanger all of us! Quit behaving like a selfish brat!" Annie retorted. "What?!" exclaimed Alex, an incredulous look on her face and her golden glow brightening even more.

Alex felt a tingling sensation inside her head, and without warning, her telekinetic power reach out and roughly pushed her sister! Annie reeled backwards as her right leg bumped the edge of the coffee table, causing her to trip and stumble several feet, finally crumpling to a heap on the floor by the t.v.

Everyone stood, realizing what happened. With a dazed expression, Annie looked up from the floor at Alex, flabbergasted that her little sister would use her power against her in such a manner. Alex stood in silent shock, staring back at Annie, her mouth agape. "Alex .....?" Annie asked squeamishly. Alex's eyes began to well up with tears. "Oh ... oh my God Annie. I'm, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ....." Alex stuttered.

Ray rushed to Annie's side, and helped her to her feet. As he did, Annie watched Alex in disbelief. Alex's glow began to fade, but not the look of anguish and guilt on her face.

Alex's chest started to heave in short, sharp spasms as she began to cry where she stood. The thought that her powers accidentally lashed out and harmed her sister was almost unbearable. Annie took an unsteady step towards her sister, who was sobbing uncontrollably now. Alex didn't know what else to do. It was an overwhelming feeling.

"Alex ...?" asked Annie once more, her voice steady but sheepish. To Alex, it felt like a knife through her heart. She couldn't face her sister right now, and she was embarrassed in front of all her friends by what she did. She had to get away from them, and turned towards the front door to escape. Annie reached out to stop her.

"Wait Alex ..... don't ..." she said calmly, but when she tried grabbing Alex's arm, her hand passed through it like water. Alex dove towards the floor, morphing all the way, and dissolved into a silvery puddle with a squishing sound. "Alex! Come back!" Annie pleaded, but Alex didn't stop. She quickly slithered around Robyn's and Nicole's feet, across the floor, and disappeared under the front door.


Gino Lawless of the FDA couldn't believe what Agent Garth was telling him. "You have to be kidding me Garth! You can't take your team out of here now, my own team is already stretched thin as it is! I need your security here!" he insisted.

Moments ago, Agents Garth and Briggs showed up at the small security warehouse on the property of the half-destroyed Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, where stacks of boxes containing evidence into the Danielle Atron investigation were stored. Gino spent much of his time sorting and cataloging the boxes of equipment, containers of chemicals, and files left over from the destroyed plant. They would in turn be shipped to the main offices of the FBI and FDA in Sacramento to be used in the impending trial against Ms. Atron and PV Chemical.

The small warehouse was hastily erected within a day after the explosives planted by Ms. Atron's accomplice Lars Frederickson ripped the plant apart. "I'm sorry Mr. Lawless, but we are spread thin too. Our field director in Sacramento has ordered me to take all of my team except for Agents Black and Lasky to investigate a drug smuggling ring in San Francisco. I sympathize with you, but my hands are tied" replied Agent Garth.

Gino tossed his hands up in the air, then placed them on his hips and turned away from Agent Garth. "Great, just great" he said begrudgingly. "When are you going to pull your men out?"

"We're leaving immediately. Our field director wants us in San Francisco by morning, but Agents Black and Lasky will be at your disposal" assured Garth.

"What about surveillance on Vince Carter? What about the Macks?" pushed Gino.

"I discussed that with the Field Director, and it's his opinion since there is no solid evidence against Mr. Carter being the perpetrator of the bombing, that he cannot afford to leave a large contingent of agents on this assignment any longer" explained Agent Garth.

"In other words, he doesn't give a damn, does he? Since when does a bombing not take precedent over a drug ring?" demanded Gino as he turned back towards Agent Garth, his voice rising in frustration.

"Gino, the bombing was a week ago, and we haven't got anything on Vince. It's entirely possible it was someone else and they are long gone by now" offered Agent Garth.

"Do you really believe that Garth? Do you?" he quipped.

"It's not my call anymore Gino" Garth answered steadily. "I think Vince is a slime-ball too, and I tried to explain that to my director, but he wouldn't buy it. The government has a hard-core stance on drugs and in most cases, they take priority. Agents Black and Lasky are very capable of helping you in the conclusions of your investigation here. You don't like more than just a few more days anyway. I'm sorry, but we've got a plane to catch in half an hour and we've got to go. Good luck".

Agent Garth offered his hand, and Gino shook it out of respect. He knew Garth was only following orders, but it bothered him because he knew Vince was a threat, and couldn't convince the FBI how much of one. He worked for Vince once, and he learned then how despicable the man was. He worked closely to Danielle Atron for too long and Gino was certain that Vince was a threat to not only his investigation here, but to everyone involved in it.

Gino turned to bury himself back in his work and contemplate some way to work through this setback. He didn't notice one of the former plant personnel who had been cleared to assist with the clean up operations step out from around the corner of the evidence storage building, and retrieve a cell phone from the inside of his coat. He punched a memory key which automatically dialed a stored number, and then spoke into the phone. "Vince? I have some news for you ....".


Alex's puddle-self flowed across the front lawn, crossed the street, and ended up along a wooden privacy fence which bordered an empty lot one house down from her's. There, she reformed into her human shape in a sitting position with her back against the fence, her arms wrapped around her knees. She rocked slightly to each side as she wept uncontrollably.

The guilt she felt for almost seriously injuring her sister with her powers was excruciating. As always, Annie was right, and she was only trying to tell her that using her newer, more powerful abilities was dangerous. Alex realized now just how right she was.

"Oh God, what have I done?" she thought sadly.

With a loud sniff, she wiped away tears from her face with her sweater sleeve and looked out across the lot. Long shadows stretched along the grass of the lot which was beginning to moisten with dew. The thought of her sadness when she took her father's antidote which deprived her of her powers only a week ago appeared in her mind, followed by the feeling of joy she experienced when she discovered they had returned.

Over the past week, she had become completely enthralled with the return of her powers and their ever-increasing strength. She realized now how stupid she had been for so casually disregarding how powerful she was becoming, and just accepting it instead of being concerned like Annie was. She admonished herself for having been so easily swept up in the feeling of raw power her enhanced abilities gave her. She knew Annie was only worried about how powerful she was becoming, and Alex suddenly felt worried about it too. No, 'frightened' was more like it.

She took a deep breath and composed herself, her crying finally abating. She wiped the rest of the tears from her face with her other sweater sleeve. Alex slowly held her hand up in front of her, and morphed it. She examined it closely as it's silvery liquid form shimmered before her, rippling like water. It's human shape disappeared as it's morphed shape contorted and flowed, changing shape as her will commanded it. Alex then sensed the mesmerizing power of being able to change her entire body into liquid ooze flow through her.

Suddenly, she felt the very bones deep within her begin to liquify and her outer body began to sag inwards, but it wasn't a painful experience. In fact, it was a satisfying, enjoyable sensation consisting of a hot, tingly flush that immersed her entire body or whichever part she was morphing. It immediately occurred to her that just thinking of morphing was triggering the effect. She shook her head clear and willed herself back to normal, and the GC-161 enhanced cells within her body obeyed instantly. She was human again though and through.

Alex sighed and stood. She trudged slowly along the privacy fence until she reached it's end, where it bordered the sidewalk across the street from her next door neighbors, the Micheals. She peeked around the edge of the fence and looked at her house two lots down. From her vantage point, she could see someone was sitting on the porch swing on her front porch. "It has to be Annie waiting for me to come back" she thought to herself. "Maybe I shouldn't go back. Maybe I should just run away somewhere, and join some freakshow. That way, I won't be able to hurt anybody I care for again".

Alex realized she was feeling sorry for herself. No, going back and facing Annie, telling her how sorry she was, and begging for her forgiveness was the right thing to do. Alex leaned back against the fence and closed her eyes for a moment to prepare herself for the embarrassing confrontation she knew was coming. After another deep breath, she opened her eyes.

But this time, she noticed something she hadn't seen before when her eyes weren't completely accustomed to the darkness outside. A black sedan parked about a hundred feet down the street; Grace Lasky's sedan.

A surge of anger flared within Alex as she instantly morphed into a puddle and set off towards the parked car.