As Ray phoned the hospital to ask about Dave's condition, Annie tried to calm Alex, who had begun to glow at Robyn's news. Robyn could only watch in amazement at her friend's bright, golden aura.
"Alex .....you're, you're glowing?" Robyn gasped as she stepped back from Alex in surprise.
"It's o.k. Robyn. It happens when I get nervous or excited. It's just that your news shocked me is all" Alex explained.
"Annie", Alex turned to her sister, "We have to go to the hospital to see of Dave's alright".
"Alex, I understand you're concerned, but mom and dad aren't just going to let you go traipsing around town where you could be cornered by every reporter in town, especially after you fainted yesterday" Annie complained. " .....And you have school tomorrow too" she added, placing her hands on her hips.
"Annie, Dave kept my secret from Danielle and Vince, and he saved mom and dad's lives! He saved 'my' life! I have to go and see if he's alright. I owe him that" Alex insisted. Ray ran back into the room. "He's at Paradise Valley Regional Medical Center, but they wouldn't tell me anything about his condition" he reported.
"Alex, you can't just ....."
"Mom and dad don't have to know Annie" Alex cut her sister off. "I can get in there to see him in my own way".
"Damnit Alex. Why have you got to be so hard-headed?" Annie demanded.
"Because as you've pointed out several times over the last couple of days, I'm not a 'little girl' anymore. I'm sixteen years old and I can make my own decisions and right now, I don't care if every reporter in the country is out there. I'm going to go see if Dave's o.k. He's .....he's my friend".
"O.k., o.k." Annie conceded, knowing once Alex had set her mind to something, that she was going to follow it through. Annie learned her lesson a long time ago about trying to talk Alex out of something that she felt strongly about. Like the time when a rumor had been started at Atron Junior High that the plant had captured a girl named Beth Gaskin who was suspected of being the 'GC-161 Kid', and was being held hostage in the plant's hyper-beric quarantine chamber.
Of course, it was yet another elaborate plan by Vince Carter to lure the 'Chemical Kid' into his grasp, and Alex and Ray narrowly escaped, with the unknown help of Annie. But Alex's mind was set on going into the plant to get Beth out and Annie realized that this was much like the same situation now.
"At least calm down and stop glowing first" Annie pleaded.
Alex took several deep breaths and her glow began to fade.
Robyn was still in a partial state of shock. "This is so confusing. I can't take all of this excitement at once .....". Alex turned to her friend. "Everything will be alright Robyn. This is still sort of overwhelming to me too".
" .....And you've got to keep everything you've seen here secret Robyn" Annie instructed. "You can't tell anyone, absolutely anyone, about Alex's powers returning. That includes Nicole and Louis too. At least for now. Anyone knowing about any of this could jeopardize her safety".
Robyn's eyes opened wide as she silently nodded her head in agreement.
"Relax Annie, we can trust Robyn, can't we?" Alex stated confidently, placing her hand her friend's shoulder and shooting her a big smile.
Robyn's freckled face blushed a dark crimson. "Sure, but, this is just so, so ....."
"Cool?" Ray asked. He was ecstatic about Alex's powers returning.
"Ray!" said Alex and Annie crossly. "Sorry ...." he apologized.
Alex looked around her and held out her hands. "Well, is everyone ready to go?"
"You intend to morph every one of us to the hospital? I don't think so Alexandra Mack" Annie said strictly, glaring at Alex.
"Why not Annie? It's the fastest way to .....".
" .....Because we've been running experiments all afternoon using your powers and not to mention you fainted yesterday. Taking three people that far with you is just too much of a strain".
"Annie, you've got to be kidding. I feel fine ....."
"Y'know Alex ....." Ray cut in. "Annie may be right. You've been going at it pretty hard this weekend".
"You too, Ray?" Alex said incredulously to Ray, feigning betrayal. "Hey, I'm your best friend Al, and you know I don't have a prob with the powers, but I still worry about you".
"And we need somebody here to cover for us. Ray can keep mom and dad busy if they call or anything while you're at the hospital" Annie added.
Alex pouted for second, but she did feel sort of tired, and she knew her sister and best friend really, truly cared about her.
"Morph? Does that mean when you, you turn yourself into liquid?" Robyn asked sheepishly. Robyn remembered two nights ago when Alex explained all of her powers to them, and Alex's ability to liquify not only herself but others with her was by far the most bizarre thing she'd ever heard.
"I'll go with you" Robyn offered.
"You will?" everyone asked Robyn at once. "Yeah, I will. I mean, it's freaks me out but I owe Alex for getting mad at her Friday night for not telling me about her powers, and for suspecting that she lied to me just now. I'm really sorry Alex ....." Robyn explained honestly.
Alex beamed another smile at her friend. "It's o.k. Robyn. Anyway, I've always wished I could show you my powers. Now, I can ....."
Alex turned to Annie. " O.k. then, I'll just take Robyn with me, and I'll even let you come pick us up so you won't have to worry about us having to morph back. Are you satisfied now?" she stated sarcastically.
"Alright. But no sewers! Stay above ground in case you get tired" Annie instructed" .....And you find me at the hospital when you're done. Understand? I'll call for a cab from here and meet you there to pick you up".
"Yes 'mother'" Alex quipped.
"I'll call a cab" Ray said, raising the cordless phone he was holding and dialing for information. Alex turned to Robyn and held her hands out to her. A wry smile crossed her face. Robyn looked almost terrified at Alex's gesture. "It won't hurt me, will it?" she asked nervously.
"Off we go ....." Alex giggled as she noticed the surprise in Robyn's face as her friend felt her body being instantaneously transformed in liquid. Within half a second, two pillars of silvery liquid stood before Annie.
They quickly merged into one upright mass and it collapsed into itself to become a puddle on the garage floor.
"Be careful!" shouted Annie once more at her sister.
"We will!" responded Alex's eerily distorted voice from the puddle.
The liquid mass swept quickly towards the door, and Annie couldn't help but chuckle at hearing Robyn's squeaky, liquid voice say "Oh my God" before Alex's puddle-self slipped effortlessly underneath the door.
"Jesus Christ" exclaimed Gino Lawless, as he inspected the remains of Dave Watt's trailer. A small crater three feet in diameter and a foot deep, and several large scraps of twisted, charred metal were all that was left of Dave's former home. The police had already erected a yellow-taped barrier up to a hundred feet from the blast point, and a crowd of over a hundred were circled around watching.
Gino kicked a charred can of stringed beans that was lying in his path. .
He turned to Agent Garth of the FBI, one of the men who accompanied him to Vince Carter's house the day before. "Got any leads on this Garth?" Gino asked him. "None yet. But we're onto it".
Agent Garth was the head of the FBI's investigation as Gino was on charge of the FDA's, and both men were thinking the same thing.
"One of our field investigators say whatever explosive and detonator was used, was probably made of plastic and completely vaporized by the propane explosion. There were no traces, and therefore, nothing we can link to anyone" reported the FBI agent.
Gino picked up a burnt piece of rubber from one of the trailer's tires and held it up close to his face for inspection. Gino Lawless wasn't stupid. He served eight years in the U.S. Army and finished as a Second Lieutenant in an artillery battalion.
"Very good work. Very, very good ....." he mumbled quietly.
"Where's David Watt right now?" Gino asked, tossing down the debris.
"Paradise Valley Regional Medical Center in stable condition. My partner Agent Briggs is waiting on me to get there so we can question him. What do you intend to do next Mr. Lawless?"
"Find Vince Carter".
It was beginning to get dark outside as Alex's silvery puddle form, which also contained her friend Robyn Russo, sped at lightening speed along the sidewalk in front of Paradise Valley Regional Medial Center, a hospital that Alex had been to before.
Two months earlier, Alex brought a woman here who had suffered a stroke in Paradise Valley Park, an event which turned into yet another one of her exciting adventures when she was hiding her identity from Danielle Atron. Alex morphed the woman to this very hospital and actually saved her life, but when the attending doctor began asking questions how Alex got the woman there by herself, Alex became so worried that she'd betray her secret, she refused to say anything.
Alex's rescuing the woman and her following silence about how she did it became a hot topic in Paradise Valley, and the attention of the evil CEO of Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, Danielle Atron, was piqued.
She began to become suspicious that Alex Mack could have only used superhuman strength to take the woman to the hospital's emergency room, and began to think that Alex was the "GC-161 Kid".
She even contacted Vince Carter to do away with Alex of that turned out to be the case. Alex's sister Annie, who was about to leave for college, had convinced her it was time to finally tell their parents about everything; the truck accident, her powers, and her four year long secret.
But at the last moment, Dave Watt, who had been keeping Alex's secret even without her knowledge, publically took responsibility for driving Alex and the woman to the hospital and saved Alex's secret. It was a nerve-racking time remembered Alex, as she guided her puddle-form swiftly through the heavy shrubs in front of the hospital.
Arriving at the outer wall of the hospital's main building, Alex maneuvered along it's base until coming to a side entrance which overlooked a small outside court. Since being transformed and incorporated into Alex's liquid state, Robyn remained in stunned silence the entire trip at the near-supernatural experience. In this state, Alex could sense Robyn's emotions but decided it was best to just let her deal with this experience in her own way. That was another weird side-affect of her puddle form, being able to sense the emotions and actually read the thoughts of others while they were morphed with her, but they couldn't do the same to her!
But Alex had to be careful about morphing too much, because it was a feeling that was very addictive.
She sometimes morphed herself while taking baths and laid on the bottom of the tub underwater, only to fall asleep in her ooze-state and wake up over an hour later to discover she had dozed off. It felt so natural to her.
In the last days before taking her father's failed antidote, Alex could morph her entire body into a liquid state in almost the blink of an eye, literally sloshing onto the ground with a gooey splash as quickly as someone could pour a glass of water on the floor!
She tried it once on a ten dollar bet from Ray, but the only setback was when she morphed that fast, her clothes failed to morph with her, and she couldn't reform for some ten minutes afterwards! She thought it would take forever to get Ray to stop laughing and give her her clothes back.
As Alex giggled to herself at the memory, she squished underneath the steel-framed glass door of the hospital's side entrance and elongated herself into a snake-like form, slithering along the baseboard of a small lobby inside. There, she flowed through an air-conditioning vent like water through a colander and made her way expertly thought the ventilation shafts. She could sense everything around her, and knew exactly where she was and where she was going.
Ascending one shaft, she entered into and crossed some thirty feet along a horizontal shaft until she came to another vent. She reached out with her senses and detected no one in the room she was about to enter, and then flowed through to vent covering into a women's bathroom.
With a loud "slop!", Alex dropped from the ceiling A.C. vent onto the floor, and reformed herself and Robyn into teenage girls again. Human again, Alex looked at Robyn as her friend's face was blank with awe.
Alex nudged her red-headed friend on the shoulder. "Robyn? .....Earth to Robyn. Are you o.k.?"
Robyn broke from her revery and then hurriedly felt her hips, shoulders, arms, and face to make sure she was whole again. "Oh my God Alex! That, that was the most bizarre, freakiest thing I've ever felt!" she exclaimed.
"Makes you want to do it again, doesn't it?" Alex laughed, proud of herself. Robyn's face was twisted with emotion, but after a few deep breaths, Robyn got control of herself.
"Uh, I don't know about that", Robyn answered unsurely. "Let me get over this experience first and I'll let you know". Alex giggled at Robyn's response as she looked around the bathroom.
"O.k., this is the ground floor so we have to get to the main desk and find out which room Dave is in. C'mon!" Alex instructed as she pulled Robyn along behind, exiting the bathroom and proceeding down the outer hall.
At the end of the hall, they found the main desk, and spotted the receptionist, who was a large, rotund, middle-aged woman doing paperwork.
Before she asked the woman anything, Robyn nudged Alex's elbow and pointed to a Sunday copy of the Paradise Valley Gazette which was lying on top of the receptionist desk. On it's front page was a full color picture of Alex! It suddenly struck her that she was a local celebrity now who had just been on t.v. the day before, and her face was on every paper in town! Alex didn't want to bring any undue attention to herself.
She was angry at herself for not bringing a cap with her to help hide her face. Robyn quickly figured out Alex's dilemma and nudged her again, pointing at a clipboard which was sitting on the receptionist's desk behind the counter. The woman behind the counter was putting away papers into a filing cabinet and had her back to her desk. Quickly checking around her to make sure no one was watching, Alex capitalized on the opportunity and levitated the clipboard off the desk and onto the counter in front of her. Robyn only watched in wonder.
Alex grabbed the clipboard, turned away from the counter, and quietly flipped through it.
Robyn spotted it first by placing her finger on it. "There it is! David Watt, Room 308" she whispered .
Alex and Robyn saw the woman still had her back to them. To Robyn's horror, she watched Alex flip the clipboard into the air towards the desk, expecting it to crash loudly into the reception booth, but Alex was already way ahead of her. The clipboard floated silently across to the desk and landed as lightly as a leaf under the direction of Alex's telekinetic will.
The two made their way towards the elevators down the hall. "I don't think I'm ever going to get used to you doing stuff like that Alex" Robyn admitted. "It's just so .....spooky". Alex pushed the elevator button and to their luck, the door opened immediately. There was no one inside.
"Spooky?! C'mon Robyn, it's not like I'm a ghost or something" laughed Alex as they stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the third floor.
"Well, it's pretty close if you ask me" Robyn insisted.
"If you want a 'ghost', I'll show you a ghost" Alex pondered to herself, recalling her encounter with the ghost of Danielle Atron's grandmother when she was fourteen years old. But that was another story.
Seconds later, the girls stepped out of the elevator and saw a darkly-dressed man standing outside one of the rooms hallway down the hall. Alex grabbed Robyn's arm and pulled her into a small alcove beside the elevators. "That's one of the FBI guys that was at the plant Friday when they arrested Danielle! I remember him because he asked Hunter a lot of questions" Alex whispered. "You know what that means?"
"That Dave is under arrest?" Robyn asked absently.
"No Robyn!" scolded Alex. "It means that if the FBI is standing guard outside his door, that there's more to Dave's trailer blowing up than just being an accident. I'll have to sneak in to talk to him".
"You mean somebody might have tried to kill him?!" Robyn realized with a gasp. Alex put her hand on Robyn's shoulder and positioned herself behind her, concealing herself into the alcove as best as she could from prying eyes.
"Alex, what are you doing?" Robyn asked.
"I'm going to morph in to see Dave. Stand right there and give me as much cover as you can while I do. You stay here. I'll be back in just a few minutes as soon as I know he's alright, o.k.?"
"O ....o.k.," Robyn stuttered. "But don't leave me out here for long".
"I won't" Alex responded with a gurgling sound. Robyn looked askance at her shoulder and saw Alex's hand still there, but it was shiny and pale, and rippled like water. Less than second later, it was a silvery liquid, and Robyn felt it slide of her shoulder as she could sense Alex liqufying in the tight alcove. Chills shot up her spine and goose-bumps covered her body just thinking of Alex melting down into a puddle directly behind her.
Robyn looked down and saw Alex's silvery, snake-like puddle-form flow between her feet, across the hall, up the adjacent wall, and into an A.C. vent.
"Whoa ....." Robyn muttered breathlessly.
Alex's puddle-form entered Dave's hospital room through the A.C. vent in the upper wall. The room's curtains were drawn but the weak light of dusk still shone through them. A bedside lamp was on. Dave was in the hospital bed, asleep and resting.
Alex flowed down onto the floor and transformed back into her human form. Her mouth opened in a small gape at Dave's condition as she stepped near his bed.
His left eye was bruised, and the cheek below it looked very red as if it was severely sunburned. Alex deduced it must have been from the heat of the explosion. A bandage on his forehead and on his left arm completed the look as Alex could tell that Dave wasn't seriously injured, but still took a beating from the blast.
She glanced at the door and her mind raced about the FBI agent on the other side, and why he was there.
She knew that Dave's trailer blowing up had to be more than just a coincidence. Someone did this to Dave; her friend.
But at the moment, all Alex cared about was that Dave was alright. She sighed in silent relief as she watched him resting comfortably.
"Thank God" she said quietly, placing her hand on his. Dave moaned as his head turned in Alex's direction. "Who's there?" he groaned weakly.
"Just a friend Dave, just a friend" Alex said softly.
"Ding!" went the elevator chime as it reached the third floor. Robyn jumped as she sat on a short padded bench beside the doors. She saw a man dressed in a dark two-piece suit step out, dressed the same as the man guarding Dave Watt's hospital room door. He walked directly for the other man.
Unknown to Robyn, it was Agent Garth, but she realized that he must be FBI too. She looked at her watch. Alex had been gone for a little over eight minutes, plenty of time to see if Dave was o.k.
"C'mon Alex, hurry it up ....." she said nervously, standing up and trying not to be conspicuous while she looked at the men meet and begin to talk outside Dave's door.
In the shadowy hospital room, Alex's head popped up when she heard men's voices outside Dave's door.
She knew someone was about to come in!
Robyn gasped silently and placed her hand over her mouth as the agents opened the door to Dave's hospital room and entered. "Oh no! They're going to catch heeerrrrrrr .........." Robyn said as a sudden warm flush and hot prickling sensation began flowing up her legs, and she had the felt the sensation of being sucked downwards.
She looked at her feet to see she was standing in a silvery puddle of ooze, and that she was being liquified from the legs up and drawn into it.
Once Robyn was incorporated into her gelatinous form, Alex spoke up. "Let's get out of here Robyn!".
The cab pulled up in front of Paradise Regional Medical Center and came to a stop. Annie jumped out and turned to the driver.
"I'll be right back ....." Annie promised the cabbie, and she turned and walked towards the front doors of the hospital. But before she got to them, she collided with Alex and Robyn walking around the outside corner from the side entrance.
"OOF!" went all three of them as they ran into each other.
"Alex!" Annie chided, chastising Alex for her clumsiness.
"Sorry ...." Alex apologized as the three untangled themselves.
By now, night had fallen, but Annie immediately lifted her hand up to reveal an orange and blue University Of Florida Basketball cap, which she pulled onto Alex's head. Alex's grandmother, who recently moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, sent her the hat a month ago. Annie just wanted to make sure Alex wasn't recognized.
"Thanks ....." said Alex, realizing Annie's preparedness. Annie herded Alex and Robyn towards the cab.
"Well, is Dave alright?" Annie asked sincerely.
"A little worse for wear, but yeah, he'll be fine. Except I nearly got caught in his room by the FBI agents" Alex replied.
"FBI agents?!" Annie demanded, grabbing Alex's arm. "Why are there FBI agents in Dave's room?"
Robyn piled into the back seat of the cab, but Alex paused to look seriously at her older sister.
"Because I don't think Dave's trailer blowing up was an accident Annie. I think somebody tried to kill him" Alex explained as she climbed into the back of the cab, leaving Annie just standing there on the curb, her eyes wide in astonishment.