PART TWENTYONE

Annie looked upwards in silent, open-mouthed astonishment at Grace Lasky hovering one hundred and fifty feet above Rivernut Avenue. She turned her head slowly towards Alex. "A ...Alex?" she whispered shakily. "What do you intend to ....?".

"Don't worry Annie, I don't intend to drop her" Alex interrupted, reading Annie's thoughts.

"Then what in the hell are you doing? You just exposed yourself to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Christ sake!". Alex's mouth spread into a wide grin. "I intend to find out what she's up to, that's what" answered Alex in a calm tone which sent a shiver up her sister's spine.

"Well Alex, from what I can tell, Grace is 'up to' about one hundred and fifty feet right now. What if she screams out and alerts the entire neighborhood?" Annie asked, nervously scanning the houses around them.

"She won't" Alex replied casually. "I'm also holding her mouth shut". Annie held up her hands and buried her face in them. "Oh God Alex, what have you gotten us into?" she moaned desperately. Alex didn't say anything, she just watched Grace struggling far above them. Annie dropped her hands and stood in front of her younger sister. " .....And how do you intend to find out anything from her when she's way up there? We can't even talk to her".

"Who says we can't talk to her?" Alex answered, her grin widening. "Oh no you don't Alex! I don't want to go up .....". But before Annie could finish, she felt that strange swooning sensation as her body became weightless from Alex's telekinetic power. She reached out and took Annie's hand and the two of them shot straight upwards in the air to the altitude where Grace was hovering. Annie clinched her eyes shut as she felt herself ascending at a near-dizzying rate.

When they reached Grace, she was shivering from the cold wind with a look of stark, raving terror on her face, and she was instinctively grasping all around her for something to hold on to in a attempt to keep from falling.

"Hello again Grace" Alex said coldly as she and Annie came to a stop six feet away from the FBI agent. Annie knew her sister would never let anything happen to her even though she accidentally pushed her down with her powers minutes before when they were arguing, but she was still scared at being this high up. It wasn't like they were in a plane or had solid footing underneath them, they were being held aloft by Alex's very will! What also scared Annie was that Alex was also known for being easily distracted when levitating something and dropping it when she had her powers the first time, but she also realized that her younger sibling's powers were far more powerful than before.

"Alex" she said, trying to control the quivering in her voice while glancing down at the street and housetops below them. "No Annie...." interjected Alex's telepathic voice in her head, but weakly. Alex was using a lot of power and it took away from her telepathic power. "You and I should only talk like this so Grace won't know anything we don't want her to". Annie looked at her sister and nodded. "Ok Grace ..." indicated Alex, releasing the grip on the agent's jaw so she could speak. "You can talk now".

Grace stared at the Mack sisters in horrified fashion, her hand rubbing her jaw. She was hardly able to catch her breath. "Alex ...." she gasped, finally able to speak. "Please .....please don't drop me ...". Alex and Annie noticed a tear suddenly run down each of Grace's cheeks. Annie felt a pang of sympathy flow through her for the girl, and Alex immediately sensed it. "Alex" Annie thought towards her. "I think you've got her attention. Just hurry up and lets get done with this. It's freezing this far up and you have Grace so scared she could start hyperventilating at any moment". Alex nodded at her sister in acknowledgement.

"Why were you following me today Grace? Why were you spying on us?" Alex asked bluntly, her adrenaline racing so fast that she didn't notice the cold much.

"Alex, I ... I was only doing my job. I was assigned to watch you and your family. Please, let me down ..... please ..." pleaded Grace in a panicked tone. Alex touched on Grace's mind and sensed she wasn't lying. Another aspect of her telepathic ability was that Alex could determine if someone was lying. "You were 'assigned' to watch us? Why?" Alex prodded further. Grace kept looking down and then back to the Mack sisters.

All she wanted was to be a long way from here ..... and Alex Mack. "Because you could be in danger!" Grace insisted as more tears ran down her cheeks, yet still managing to keep a little bit of composure for Alex's sake. "David Watt is a prime suspect against Danielle Atron, and so are you and your family. When his trailer was blown up, we ..... we feared you and your family might be in danger too".

Again, Alex sensed Grace was telling the truth. She telepathically passed her feelings to Annie, compelling Annie to speak up. "So you aren't here to spy on Alex because of her powers? You're here to ... to 'protect' us?".

"Yes! ... Yes!" stuttered Grace adamantly.

"But why should we believe you, especially after you worked with Vince to expose Alex a year ago? You could have gotten Alex killed if Ms. Atron and Vince had gotten their hands on her" Annie accused. Alex watched in silence as Grace tried to compose herself. She could sense the powerful feeling of fear emanating from the agent, but she could also feel fatigue starting to set in from the enormous expenditure of her powers.

"I swear I wasn't here to do anything like that to Alex again, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with Vince in the first place!" Grace admitted honestly. She looked at Alex with desperate eyes. "I'm ...I'm sorry for what I did before Alex, I swear I am! I ... I was just a stupid, mixed up kid who was only thinking of myself. I thought Vince was crazy at first telling me about a kid with super powers ..... and that I was just making some easy cash off some nut. I would have never imagined he was telling me the truth, and ..... and by then, I was way in over my head. I swear to you that I have hated myself ever since for what I did .....".

Annie looked at Alex, watching her sister study Grace intently. Alex's eyes softened, and she returned Annie's gaze. Alex read Grace's mind and she was telling the truth. She wasn't an enemy anymore. Suddenly, the three of them began to descend as Alex lowered them back down to the street. When they reached the surface, Annie and Grace sighed in relief as they felt solid footing beneath them again. "Alex ...." continued Grace. "I've been terrified about you seeing me ever since I got to Paradise Valley on this assignment, and I promise .... I am not your enemy this time. All I want now is ... is to help you". Annie stood silently and waited for Alex's response.

"I know that now Grace" Alex finally replied, her voice weak and gravelly. "...And as a matter of fact, I think you and Annie could ...could help me .... right now ....". To Annie's and Grace's surprise, Alex took an shaky step backwards, and fainted.

---------------------------------------------------

"Alex?" cooed Annie's voice from what sounded like a great distance. Alex crinkled her nose as the smell suddenly hit her, the sharp, pungent odor of smelling salts. She raised her arm defensively and swept away the hand holding the salts under her nose. She could feel a cold, folded up rag being adjusted on her forehead as she struggled. Her eyes opened partially and she realized she was on the downstairs couch in the den. The first thing she saw were blurry visions of Annie and Grace Lasky hovering above her. "Is she going to be alright?" Alex could hear her friend Robyn Russo's voice ask in trembling fashion.

"Yeah, she'll be fine. She just overdid it today and she's exhausted" Annie explained. Alex finally focused and slowly sat up. "Easy Alex" warned Grace softly.

She looked around and saw Robyn sitting on the edge of the loveseat across from the couch, concern all over her face. Something alit on her shoulder, and Alex espied the dark fingers of her best friend Raymond Alvarado's hand resting there.

He was standing directly behind the couch like a protective watchdog, eyeing Grace suspiciously. When Grace backed away to sit on the edge of the coffee table, Ray stepped over the back of the couch and sat beside Alex. Still glaring with contempt at Grace, he placed an arm around Alex's shoulder and gently pulled her close to him. She responded in kind by resting her head on his shoulder.

Ray remembered Grace all too clearly, and was showing her first-hand that he wouldn't allow anything to happen to this girl who was like his own sister. Alex could sense Ray's uneasiness and dislike towards the oriental beauty, so she reached over and patted him on the chest. "It's o.k. Ray. She's a friend, really .....".

Everyone was surprised when the dark sedan pulled into the front drive ten minutes ago, and out got Annie and another girl helping Alex towards the front door. When unknown benefactor stepped into the lit area of the front porch, Ray, Robyn, and Nicole were shocked to see it was Grace Lasky. Ever since her arrival, Ray had been giving her 'drop dead' looks even though Annie explained what was happening. After Grace helped Annie load Alex into her car, Annie hastily explained about Alex's powers returning, and insisted that it was imperative to keep them quiet.

Nicole walked into the room from the kitchen with a serving tray loaded down with glasses and pitchers of ice water and orange juice. "Robyn" started Nicole. "There's a tray of sandwiches I made on the kitchen table. How about fetching them so we can get some food into everybody? It looks like we're going to be up a long time tonight". Robyn nodded and darted into the kitchen to comply. Nicole set the tray down on the coffee table beside Grace, promptly poured a glass of orange juice, and handed it to Alex.

" .....And we especially need to get something into you Alex Mack" ordered Nicole with a half-grin. After Alex took the orange juice, Nicole glanced at Grace and gave her a look that would have melted an igloo. Grace just accepted the fact that she deserved it, and said nothing. Alex noticed and decided to say something to ease the tension in the room. As Robyn re-entered with the tray of sandwiches, Alex spoke in a weak voice which sounded like she just got up in the morning. "Listen guys. I know what all of you are thinking, but I just want to say that Grace isn't our enemy. I know what she did before, but that was over a year ago".

"Alex is right" Annie interjected. "It's time to forgive and forget. Grace knows about this now and there's nothing we can do about it. Anyway, she may be a very valuable ally to us". Grace cocked her head at Annie's comments. "Valuable ally? What do you mean by that?"

"First of all Grace" Ray said icily. "It means you can't tell anyone about Alex's powers, whether you're an FBI agent or not". Grace waved her hand dismissively at Ray. "I was already given the third degree by Annie in the car over here Ray" she said, turning her gaze on Alex now. "And I swear I won't say anything about her powers to anyone. I know what I did a year ago hasn't left any of you with a positive impression of me, but that was then, and this is now. Alex's secret is safe with me. I .... I owe it to you Alex".

Robyn set the sandwich tray down on the coffee table beside the other tray, and Annie immediately took a sandwich and handed it to her sister. "Eat" she commanded, smiling slightly. "O.k., o.k. 'mom'" Alex obeyed happily. She was starving anyway and needed something to eat. Using her powers as much as she had today has completely exhausted her.

"Go ahead" Annie indicated to Grace, who was hungrily eyeing the trays. "Help yourself". Grace obliged as did Robyn as well, but Nicole only sat on the loveseat watching Grace with contempt. "So, you're a 'changed' woman now, eh Grace?" she said, stabbing Grace with her words. Grace said nothing. What could she say? She deserved this treatment.

Annie picked up a piece of folded up paper on the coffee table and handed it to Grace. "What's this?" she asked, taking the document. "It's a list our friend Louis Driscoll compiled of area hardware stores that sell smoke detectors, smoke detectors from which we believe our mysterious bomber used capacitors from as spare parts to engineer a remote detonator to blow up Dave's trailer" explained Annie. Grace cocked her head and look at Annie and Alex. "Confused?" asked Annie.

"Quite" replied Grace. Annie then related everything they had discovered in the clearing above Henderson's trailer park. She told Grace how they found the receipt for the smoke detector, their theory of using it's capacitors as extra parts for the detonator to explode the bomb which destroyed Dave's trailer, and how Louis recognized the part number used on the receipt. Annie reluctantly explained how Alex confirmed with her powers how they knew it was a serious clue to their own investigation of the bombing.

Grace listened in silence and couldn't help but admire the teenagers' ingenuity and intelligence. Alex sensed Grace's feelings as well, still making occasional 'scans' of Grace to make sure all was well even as weariness was about to overtake her. Yet the more she scanned the pretty young FBI agent, the more Alex knew she was a friend.

"I have to admit Annie", confessed Grace. "I'm quite impressed with everything you've done here. This definitely gives us a major lead as to who blew up Dave's trailer. I would suggest checking each one of these hardware stores and see if they can remember to whom they may have sold a smoke detector to within the past week or two".

"We didn't need the FBI to figure that out Grace" Ray added sarcastically, still untrusting of the girl. Grace ignored him while Annie gave him a glare to shush him.

All the while, Alex had finally fallen quietly asleep on Ray's shoulder, his arm still wrapped protectively around her as she slumbered from the great exertion of using her powers almost non-stop throughout the day. Robyn had dozed off as well on Nicole's shoulder.

"Well, we've shared some of our findings with you, so how about sharing some of your's with us? Does the FBI have any suspects as to who blew up Dave's trailer?" Annie asked Grace bluntly. "Just one" the agent said shortly. "Vince Carter".

----------------------------------------------------------