Note: This story is not yet complete. What follows are the first ten chapters.
The blue vortex swirled and out fell our four travellers. Remmy and Diana were dusting themselves off; Maggie had landed face down in the dirt, as had Mallory.
"Hey, you okay, girl?" Remmy helped Maggie up.
Maggie stopped him and stared at Mallory, who was not moving. She saw the blood dripping down the side of his face. He had hit his head and rolled over to protect Maggie from hitting the same rock before he passed out.
"We've got to find a doctor. He's white as a ghost," Maggie finally said after summing up the situation.
He had become special to her: he was her only link to Quinn, and this had created a bond. She found herself enjoying Mallory for himself lately, not for the part of him that was Quinn. Although she loved Quinn she could not deny the fact that herself and Mallory were much more compatible. It was quite simple really: he thought the same way she did. Act first, ask questions later.
"Okay, let's get this boy on his feet." Remmy picked Mallory up under the arms.
"Remmy, be careful. We don't know if that's the only injury Mallory has," Diana warned.
Diana pulled Maggie behind her. "Okay, call as soon as he's taken in for an update on his condition."
Diana felt like Mallory was her responsibility; she didn't really want to leave him in this state with anyone. This was not anyone though... it was Remmy. She liked Remmy and she felt Remmy liked her too.
With a huge groan, Maggie fell back with Diana and walked towards the hotel. She was obviously in pain. Every part of her ached; her shoulder had contorted in some weird way as she tried to pick herself up after the slide.
"Are you okay?" Diana asked.
"Oh, sure; nothing an aspirin and a glass of wine couldn't fix," Maggie said with a wink that told Diana she was fine.
The phone rang. "Hello... Yeah, sure I'll let her know. Is he okay? Good, at least he's awake. See you soon." Diana set the phone on the receiver and turned to Maggie who was resting on the bed. "Mallory wants to see you. He won't talk to anyone else. Remmy is on his way here."
Maggie looked up at her with a questioning glance. "Why? Did Remmy say why?"
"Nope, just for you to get over there soon." Diana pulled a limp Maggie off the bed and got her on her way.
"Okay, okay, I'm going. Have I told you today how weird I think Mallory is?" She left with a giggle, too fast for Diana to scold that comment.
At the hospital Maggie asked where Mallory was and made her way to his room. Remmy had already left; Mallory had since dozed off.
The doctor made his way into the room. "Hello, I'm Dr. Hoffman. Are you Maggie Beckett?"
"Yes, I am. Doctor, what's wrong with him? He seemed to have only hit his head." Maggie was confused on why they had kept him.
"He seems to be having problems keeping a clear head. We're keeping him just as a precaution." The doctor moved in to ask her a more private question. "Ms. Beckett, do you know a Wade Welles?"
Maggie was taken off guard. "What!"
"Ms. Beckett, calm down; I asked Mr. Brown the same question and he seemed to have the same reaction," The doctor said quietly.
"It's just that... she's a friend who's been missing, and we really haven't spoken of her in awhile." Maggie was trying to clear her mind.
"Maggie, Maggie is that you?" Mallory slowly awakened.
Maggie took her attention off the doctor and completely focused in on Mallory. "It's me."
The doctor walked to the door and advised, "Let him rest." He proceeded to leave, eyeing Maggie and Mallory.
"Maggie it's me... How can I put this... It's me, Quinn." Mallory struggled to speak.
"Now Mallory that's mean. Stop it." Maggie was annoyed and ready to walk out the door.
"Really, Maggie, don't leave. I don't know how long I will be dominant and not... stuffed in an interdimensional void."
Maggie knew that with all of Mallory's genius, those words would mean nothing to him. He did not even understand this sliding thing he was doing at this point.
"Quinn... is that really you? I thought you were gone. Mallory said your presence hasn't been felt since 'Cult World.'"
"I've been here the whole time. You're falling for him, huh?" Quinn said.
"Mallory, if this is a trick, I'm not biting. You hear me buster?" Maggie was a little angered by this and spat the comment at him, this amalgamation of a new man and the man she had loved. She was confused.
Mallory picked up on the fact and tried to reassure her. "I know this might sound bizarre..." Maggie gave him a glare. "Just listen, okay... I believe the hit on my head gave me a jolt. I think Mallory is in some kind of lost state right now which gave me the opportunity to reestablish myself."
"Quinn, if that's really you..." she trailed off.
"It's me," Quinn retorted. "I need to get out of here, back to Diana. I have an idea how to separate myself from Mallory, but I don't know how much time I have and I'm losing more of my identity the longer we are combined."
Maggie finally took charge as she so often does, and started to get to work. If this was Quinn she had to try and help him.
"All right, first things first. Let's get you out of here." She headed out to find the doctor. Made an attempt to leave until turning back for a brief moment. She saw his eyes. Those eyes, the ones she knew, the ones she ...loved. But whose were they... Mallory's or Quinn's?
As Maggie and Mallory walked out of the hospital, Dr. Hoffman put himself in front of them. "I do not think this is a good idea, Ms. Beckett. Please let him stay until morning."
"He's made up his mind. I'm taking him home!" Maggie exclaimed.
What a funny way to put that, she thought... taking him home, that was all he really wanted for everyone. Even her and she had no home world to go back to.
As they approached the hotel, she could see Mallory/Quinn dozing off again in the cab. "Hey, wake up. I refuse to carry you." She laughed.
This made him feel a little more at ease; good old Maggie always knows how to kick a guy when he's down. "I'm awake. Let's go."
Maggie paid the cabbie; they were on their way to the elevator when he stopped her. "Maggie... I think I should tell you something." Quinn said cautiously.
"What is it?" Maggie knew what it was. She hadn't been able to get Wade out of her head.
Quinn was melancholy. "I don't know how to say this."
"Yes, you do," Maggie spit back at him.
As he found his voice he began to speak. "I'm in love with Wade. I need to find her. I've thought this over... and it's not that I don't love you, because I do. It is just she is my heart, you know." Not knowing how she would take this, he waited for her reaction.
"Quinn, you were my world. When I thought I lost you I went crazy. I always knew in my heart that I was never truly yours, though. Just because we had that whole life in the 'Bubble World'... There were many worlds where you and Wade were together. It's your fate." She said halfheartedly.
"I didn't mean to trick you," Quinn insisted.
"We had fun, Quinn, and I love you too; you're very special to me." She said this as she tried not only to convince Quinn, but herself too. "I have gotten kind of attached to Mallory though, so don't mess this up, okay?" She surprised herself by saying this but it seemed right. She and Mallory had really hit it off. He was totally hers without reservations.
"I'll do my best," he said with a sigh of relief and a devilish grin.
As they got to the room, Diana and Remmy had already gone to sleep. The others decided to follow suit.
Remmy awoke with a stir. He saw Mallory tinkering with Diana's PDL and sat up. "What the hell are you doing?"
Quinn answered, "Hey Rem, just takin' a look under the cover."
Remmy was in shock. That was so unlike Mallory and so much like... "Oh, my G-d... Q-Ball??"
"Yeah, Remmy it's me. It's a long story, but I have this plan..."
Rembrandt cut him off. "Of course you do, and what may I ask is that?"
He was just about to answer when Diana and Maggie entered. They had already discussed the past day's events.
"So you think you can do this, Quinn?" Diana came across as excited and weary all at the same time.
"Yes, but I need your help and we have to work quickly. Mallory is strong and will awaken soon. Rem, you said we have two weeks, right?" He switched his focus to the other man.
"And some change." They both laughed.
While Diana and Quinn worked, Maggie decided she and Remmy had to talk. They decided to go to the lounge.
"Remmy, he wants to find Wade." Maggie started.
"We all do, girl." Remmy spoke and took a sip of his coffee.
"I know that, but, he said that this is going to be his quest now. He loves her." Maggie was looking him straight in the eye.
"I'm sorry, I know you thought the two of you had a future together."
"I know, Remmy, and that's just it. 'I thought' but it would have never have come to pass. He was never truly mine for the taking." Maggie actually smiled at her revelation.
"You're taking this well." Rembrandt was in shock.
"I think it's because I found my Quinn in Mallory." She enlightened herself as well as Rembrandt and smiled.
"You and Mallory... makes sense, you're both crazy." Rembrandt laughed; Maggie joined him.
"What about you and Diana, you seem rather chummy." Maggie took a shot at finding out what her friend was thinking, and to her surprise he answered her.
"Well, we have talked and I think it just might be something to look into." He replied with a huge trademark Rembrandt smile and gave no other information.
Three days had passed, and Maggie and Remmy had been out getting some last-minute items that Diana and Quinn had asked for. They had also stopped for food for everyone.
"FOOD, I am starving." Mallory took what Maggie had in her hand and went straight back to fiddling.
Maggie was left awestruck by Mallory's actions. She tried to shake off the Quinnesque rudeness when it came to sustenance, and smiled. "So, hotshot, how's it going."
Too deeply into his meal and his work, Diana answered for him. "We're almost complete," she beamed.
A week later, the time had come. Quinn adjusted something and spoke. "If this doesn't work, I might never surface again. So do me a favor... if you find..." He stopped himself and started again. "When you find Wade, tell her..." He froze and a tear rolled down the cheek of another man for the love he, Quinn, had lost.
"We'll tell her Q-Ball…but we have faith this'll work. Your inventions always do, or we wouldn't be here, right?" Quinn smiled and as always Rembrandt made it seem a little better.
"Come on Quinn, I'm waiting to see those blue eyes and those good looks. Not that Mallory isn't handsome in his own right," Maggie quipped. She looked at everyone, trying to hide her embarrassment.
This made all the tension fall away. They all broke into laughter.
Mallory/Quinn gave the contraption to Diana and said, "Well, go ahead... make my day. I've always wanted to say that." He giggled to himself, then closed his eyes tight, trying to put his fear aside.
"Okay, everyone, move back. We aren't sure what this might do." Diana cautioned.
"Oh man, I know she did not just say that." Rembrandt muttered to Maggie.
Diana insisted. "Remmy, everything will be fine. Just stay back."
"Shhhhhhhh," Maggie hissed as she hit Rembrandt on the arm.
Diana looked back at Rembrandt and scowled. Then, back to the contraption... she flipped a switch, pressed a button and a huge vortex opened.
It was purple, and shone with a blinding intensity. The force threw the sliders to the ground, knocking Mallory unconscious. After a few moments it dissipated, leaving the room silent. No one moved. As they looked around, nothing seemed different at first... then all of a sudden, a familiar voice recharged the room.
"Hey, you guys!" It was Quinn, heart, soul and body.
"Oh, my G-d, Quinn!" Maggie ran to the handsome blue-eyed man, falling into his embrace.
"Q-Ball, I would not have believed it if I didn't see it myself. You are a sight for sore eyes, man." Remmy approached him, arm and hand extended.
Quinn decided that wouldn't do. He let go of Maggie gently only to reach for Rembrandt. His friend, confidant and his travelling companion for so long. The threesome could not have been happier, until they noticed Diana.
She spoke quietly. "Mallo... Quinn, are you okay?" Diana looked up at them with concern. "We have to get him back to the hospital. Remember, he was unconscious, that's how Quinn was able to surface in the first place."
"On the double, guys." Rembrandt and Quinn picked Mallory's lifeless body up and carried it out the door. Diana and Maggie followed.
At the hospital, Dr. Hoffman gave Maggie the "I told you so" look but said he should be fine.
Diana had decided to stay with him; when he awoke she would explain everything. "I'd rather be alone with him to let him know what's going on."
Following Diana's wishes, the trio of sliders waved and said they would be back in a few hours and departed. Diana understood they wanted to talk and did not give their abrupt exit another thought.
"Okay, Q-Ball, now what?" Rembrandt said with a renewed spirit.
"First things first, guys. We need to get Colin unstuck and then we can approach the subject of Wade." As Quinn said this he placed his hand on Maggie's.
Maggie smiled and whispered. "It's okay, Quinn, really."
"So, Mallory, huh?" Quinn smirked.
"Shut up, Quinn," Maggie shot back. She was not in the mood to be teased. Mallory was still in a bed at the hospital.
"Sorry," Quinn said plainly.
Remmy, breaking up the moment, conveyed to them the obvious. "We have our work cut out for us. We need to make a plan. Diana's our only hope; she understands all that tech stuff."
"Hey, I think I can help with that 'tech' stuff," Quinn smirked. Remmy and Quinn let out a huge laugh one of pure relief. They looked towards Maggie; she couldn't help but join in. Everything seemed to be getting back to normal. Or so they thought.
Back at the hospital, Diana sat vigil over Mallory. The three walked in. Maggie spoke first, almost in a whisper. "How is he? Any change?"
Diana turned to respond and a murmur came from the bed. "I have such a headache." Mallory was awake.
Not sure of his surroundings, he began to investigate the room. He saw Rembrandt and then Maggie, Diana at his side. He was also aware of another presence in the room. He stared at Quinn.
Seeing his confusion, Quinn spoke up. "Hey there, buddy. How're you feeling?"
Maggie interjected with an introduction. "Mallory, this is Quinn. He and Diana found a way to separate the two of you."
"Geez, Quinn, what did you do to me?" he said angrily.
Mallory saw Quinn's reaction to his anger and looked at the man that was his double, his fraternal match, and his other self. They had been combined for so long he felt he could still read his thoughts. "I'm okay, Quinn."
Quinn looked down at him and spoke shyly. "You had me worried there, Mallory. I'm glad... it seems everything is working out."
Not meaning to dismiss Quinn, he looked at Diana. "Can I get out of here sometime soon? I think there are still a few things we have to take care of," Mallory pleaded.
"I'll go find the doctor and see if all the tests were satisfactory enough for him to let you go." With that Diana left the room.
Quinn, noticing Remmy's gaze following Diana out the door, whispered to his friend. "She's very nice. I know I haven't been around, but I see something brewing." Quinn was proud of himself, and also felt that he was getting Remmy back for 5 years of teasing about Wade and Maggie.
Remmy smiled at Quinn. "You know Q-Ball..." He could not say that nickname enough. "I thought it would be good to have you back." He laughed out loud, a true Remmy laugh from the gut that Mallory had never heard before.
"I didn't know you had it in you, Rembrandt." Mallory shot a look at Quinn, worried if their relationship was based on who was in his head not who he really was. That notion was abolished quickly.
"Hey Mallory, get your butt out of that bed and let's go. You'd think Diana should know by now, we never follow doctors' orders." The men laughed, Maggie enjoying the scene.
"Okay boys, let's break this up and let Mallory get himself together. Why don't you guys pick up some lunch and meet us at the hotel."
They agreed and walked out waving goodbye. "We'll pick up Diana on our way out," Remmy said as he left the room.
Mallory and Maggie were alone for the first time. Really alone, she thought. It made her a bit uneasy. She looked at Mallory; his cut had healed over the last few days and he looked as if a peace had overtaken him.
He spoke. "Maggie, I thought you'd go with Quinn." Mallory looked conquered. All they had felt... all that he felt... was it only a mirage?
"I thought I'd stay here and help you, Quinn," Maggie said and smiled at him.
She had never used "Quinn" before referring to him. In fact she had stated that he was not and never would be Quinn to her. Was this a breakthrough? Mallory knew that his feelings had grown for her; had she felt the same?
He proceeded with caution so as to not ruin this moment. "Well, thanks... you know Maggie, I would understand if..."
Maggie did not let him finish. "Mallory, don't get mushy on me. We'll have time to talk later."
Mallory just smirked, thinking he just might be on to something, and agreed that there were more important things to do then discuss his feelings.
As the now five sliders sat in the hotel room, they discussed their next move. "Here you go Q-Ball, I believe this belongs to you." Remmy handed him the timer.
Quinn smiled. "Thanks for taking care of everything, Cryin' Man." Quinn winked and sent a knowing glance over towards Remmy. Remmy nodded and patted Quinn on the shoulder; nothing else was said.
"Okay, now what?" Diana looked over this newly expanded team.
"Well, that's up to you, Diana." Quinn became serious. "We need to get Colin back from transdimensional flux. You and I need to figure out how to do that. Are you willing to face Geiger?"
"Well, I helped get you into this mess so let's get to work. How much time do we have left?" Diana looked at Remmy out of habit.
Quinn answered her question. "We have about 12 hours. We should probably just wait out the slide. We don't have time to start making a traverse now. I do want to pick up a few things we might need, though."
"We'll relax, you need it." Diana said.
"Okay, we will after we get back," Quinn finished.
Quinn was beaming, happy to be back in the thick of it again. He thought to himself how after the Professor died and Wade was lost he just wanted to give up and not always be the decision-maker. He felt better about his role in the group; it was trust, not guilt, that led their journey and his leadership. He realized that now.
"Sounds like a plan," Maggie announced. "What can the rest of us do while you're on a treasure hunt?" she asked Quinn.
"Well, Remmy, you come with Diana and me. Maggie, you and Mallory hold down the fort; you know what kind of trouble I'm liable to get into. I need you two here just in case." With that trademark smile he took what he needed and got ready to leave.
"Okay, but don't take too long... we all deserve a good celebration drink at the bar." Maggie smiled right back at him and they left.
Without mishap, they retrieved everything they thought they might need and headed back to the hotel. As they walked in, they saw that Mallory and Maggie had already started celebrating.
"Couldn't wait, could you Maggie?" Remmy let out a small laugh.
"You guys took forever, so we decided we'd meet you here. Did you get everything you needed?" Maggie asked in a serious tone.
"Yeah." Quinn said as he ordered a beer.
The evening passed quickly, with all seeming to enjoy themselves. Quinn had come to appreciate the differences between Mallory and himself; he was not seeing a carbon copy for a change.
They had all decided that the name Mallory would stick. Mallory didn't mind; he was already used to it. He thought to himself, with all of those monsters out looking for Quinn Mallory that it might be better this way. He had found that the name Quinn Mallory was not taken very well on other dimensions. His appearance would not let on in most worlds that he was Quinn's double; most of their doubles looked like Quinn Prime. A group of sliders with two Quinn Mallorys was just screaming for trouble.
Quinn could see that Maggie and Mallory were great friends, the kind of "buds" he and Wade had started out as. He saw their future, the future he wanted with Wade. Quinn's thoughts drifted.
"Quinn, I scored those tickets for the hockey game," Wade said excitedly.
"Great." Quinn seemed half interested.
"Yeah, my ex-boyfriend's got connections. He thinks I'm going on some... 'hot date,'" Wade finished.
"We never got to go to that hockey game. We never got to do anything... except slide," Quinn said, coming out of his revelry.
"What?" Remmy asked. He knew that stare. "A penny for your thoughts, Q-Ball."
Quinn did not seem to hear him. "Oh, Rem, I'm sorry... did you say something?"
"Yeah, I did. What's up with you? You're a million miles away," Rembrandt observed.
"Actually, I'm right here. It's my thoughts that are in a different dimension." Quinn began to speak as if he was on that dimension.
"Remmy, all I can do is focus on Wade. Science can bring back Colin; I don't doubt that. Wade though, I'm so worried... it's been 2 years almost Rem, and she could be dead. I need to find the answers, if not for my own selfish reasons, then for all of us that love her."
"We're gonna find her, and she's gonna be alive. I know she is; I can feel it. And she isn't gonna hate either one of us." Remmy was not about to let Quinn wallow in self-guilt. "You know the drill Quinn, she would've wanted us to slide. We had no choice; the only way to save her was to keep on sliding."
Quinn thought this through, and realized he was right and had been from the start. "Thanks Rem, you always know what to say." The two men hugged.
Not knowing how long they had been speaking Maggie stepped between them. "I hate to break up the lovefest, but we have 7 hours... am I correct?" Quinn looked at the timer and nodded. "Then we better get some shuteye," Maggie added. They all agreed.
The next morning, with the vortex before them, Quinn spoke. "I forgot how cool it looked." With a smile he leaped, as did the others after him.
The Sliders fell out of the vortex onto a dirt road. They looked around for any signs of life.
"That does it. We are now officially in the middle of nowhere." Rembrandt frowned. "How much time Q-Ball?" He smiled as he said these words; they'd brightened up his attitude. He looked at Quinn and awaited his answer.
Picking up on his grin, Quinn answered with a huge smile, happy to be back in the driver's seat. "Two days and change."
"Great. Guess we start walking 'til we hit a town," Maggie said with no enthusiasm at all.
"Oh, come on soldier, you can do it!" Quinn said playfully.
"Ha, ha, you are so funny Quinn." She stormed off ahead.
"You took no time at all to get back on her bad side, didja Q-Ball?" Remmy walked ahead laughing. "I think that was a record," he yelled back.
"Maggie, come on," Quinn pleaded after her.
Mallory ran ahead to walk with Maggie and Diana caught up in place next to Quinn. "Are you guys always like that?"
"With Maggie it's always day by day..." Quinn said to Diana, as he looked ahead of them to spot Maggie and Mallory walking together happily. "I guess decisions have to be made for better or for worse," he said to himself. Quinn knew he made the right decision; that was not the issue. It was just... Mallory. Why Mallory? He understood why; he'd seen it at the bar the night before.
Diana spoke to get Quinn back from his thoughts. "So, how are we going to make the impossible happen?"
"I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe we can figure something out in the next couple of days before we slide." Quinn knew that he and Diana had a hard task in front of them. Maybe their brief stay on this world would give them time to brainstorm.
They walked for almost an hour, if not more. They only thing they saw was an old barnhouse; they decided it was safe enough and ended their journey there (at least for the night.)
Quinn and Diana began talking, jotting down notes on whatever they could find. Maggie and Mallory sat with them for awhile and humbly realized that this was all gibberish; for that matter, they would only hinder the scientists by asking them to stop and explain.
"We're going for a walk," Maggie exclaimed to whomever was listening. She pulled Mallory up and they began to walk to the door. She glanced back for a moment and then they were gone.
Quinn stopped as he noticed them out the window holding hands and laughing audibly. He knew what he told Maggie was the truth: that he loved Wade. Nonetheless, this was still hard. He was not used to sharing Maggie, selfish as that may seem. Ever since they had saved Maggie from her world it was assumed that they were together. He had never stopped loving Wade but she had made it apparent that nothing was going to happen while they where sliding.
Diana spoke to shake Quinn out of his thoughts. "Are you really okay with this?"
"With what?" He was confused.
"Mallory and Maggie." Now it was Diana's turn to be confused.
"Oh, that. Yeah, sure... I'm happy for them, it's just..." Quinn was cut off.
"You didn't expect her to choose him." Diana said matter-of-factly.
"It isn't that...well maybe it is. He is everything Maggie needs and wants. Mallory and I are so different... yet he's me." Quinn said halfheartedly.
"He isn't you, Quinn; he has some of the same DNA but he's his own person. Remember, just because his name is Quinn Mallory does not make him you. You should know that better than anyone; you've witnessed more of your doubles than anyone else. You also have to remember he has had different life experiences," Diana said as she comforted Quinn.
"He's the side of me I never got to explore, the wild side. I was too busy sliding. I feel like I've missed a lot," Quinn confessed.
"You may have missed out on some experiences, but you have seen so much more." Diana was trying to get him back on track. "Quinn, we are going to find your brother and Wade and then maybe we can all find some kind of normal life and you can experience some wild times." She continued with a sheepish grin. "I think that those wild times are going to seem tame to you, though, after all you've seen."
Quinn looked at this woman. He liked her. He thought Rembrandt could use a woman like this; she was wonderful. The impression she made on Quinn was that of a woman who would stand her ground, and with Remmy that's always a plus.
Diana noticed a smile on Quinn's face. "Feeling better, I see… good. Let's get back to work." Diana sat down and began drawing diagrams.
Quinn went back to his work, keeping his thoughts to himself. He looked over at Remmy and saw him sleeping like a baby. One less person to worry about now that he was back in one piece, and his sound sleep proved that. He returned to the work at hand more feverishly than ever. He was going to make sure to get everyone back so everyone could sleep soundly from now on.
Maggie let go of Mallory's hand and sat down on a hay barrel. "Wow, this is just like Colin's world," she said sadly.
"Diana and Quinn are going to get him back from wherever he is. You have to believe that." Mallory said.
"I do." She sighed. "It's funny how things work out. I never had any family; I was raised in the military. Colin was this little brother to me... he was just a big kid. I just loved that about him. I didn't realize until tonight how much I missed him." Maggie looked at Mallory differently than she ever did before. Her strong façade was showing some holes.
Mallory looked into Maggie's big brown eyes and for the first time saw a scared little girl. This was a side of Maggie that Mallory never knew existed. He spoke with as much tenderness as he could. "Everything is going to be okay; we have to have faith."
She smiled at him and felt his gaze go right through her. "Maybe we should talk about something else."
Mallory decided as Maggie put her head on his shoulder that he would make his move to find out if his suspicions were correct. "Maybe we should not talk at all." With that he took her face in his hands and kissed her.
"Wow, um…" Maggie backed away slowly, rendered speechless.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that. I just thought…" Mallory was embarrassed.
"Oh, no, that's not it. I just didn't realize you and Quinn weren't so different after all," Maggie quipped.
"What!!!" Mallory exploded, pushing himself out of her arms.
"Calm down!" She pulled him close again. "I was kidding. It was nice and I am happy that it finally happened."
"You are?" Mallory said very pleased.
"Yes and from now on I better be the only one you kiss like that." She ended with a giggle.
Maggie gave Mallory a long hug. As she faced the house, she thought to herself: this is it. Giving herself to Mallory meant everything that had happened was true. She was in her heart Mallory's, but that small piece of her that had held out hope that Quinn was okay and that cared so deeply for him was fading away. Quinn was okay and she could let her worries go. She savored that moment. In that moment she quietly said goodbye to Quinn.
As if Quinn could hear her he looked up from his work and out the window and smiled. He felt it was okay to move on.
"Hey are you there, any Earth to Maggie." Mallory looked straight at her and smiled.
"I'm here. Right where I should be: with you, Mallory." She then brought his face to hers and kissed him passionately.
They found a willow tree and snuggled to enjoy the sun's rays and each other. After a few long passionate kisses Mallory removed his shirt to tan himself. Maggie laid her head on his chest. The only sound you could hear was their hearts beating as one. They both fell fast asleep in the afternoon sun.
Quinn awoke and rubbed his eyes; he had fallen asleep on his work. The vision that he had of being home and his Mom yelling at him for "working himself to death" brought a smile, then a frown to his face. He snapped out of it as Remmy called for him.
"Q-Ball, it's about time you got yourself up. A freight train could have crashed through this barn and you wouldn't have moved a muscle," Remmy kidded. "Hey, how much time we got?" This last was directed at Diana, who had placed the timer next to her.
Not totally dismissing Rembrandt and his comment, she was just too groggy to deal with it. "About 2 hours." Diana muttered and awaited Quinn's wrath.
"You let me sleep for almost a whole day, are you crazy!? I have so much work to do!" Quinn was about to lose it.
"Quinn, you needed the rest." Diana said very matter-of-factly.
"Q-Ball, don't get mad. There isn't much you can do here 'cept for some R&R," Rembrandt pleaded with him.
"Remmy, how can any of us just sit back and have some 'R&R' with all that is happening," Quinn protested as he brushed past.
"Well Q-Ball, we will do Colin and Wade no good if we're all crazed and stressed out. Maggie taught me that lesson when I wanted to go back for you when the Kromaggs took you." Remmy said.
"You're right, I know... I just feel like I'm wasting time." Quinn sounded defeated. "I'm going to take a walk." Quinn left.
"You think he's going to be okay, Rem? " Diana asked very concerned.
"Yeah, he's just being Q-Ball. He can be a prima donna when he wants to be," Remmy joked. His smile faded as he watched Quinn walk away. He hoped Quinn would be okay; the poor man had been through so much. They all had.
Quinn was slumped over as he walked and didn't notice Maggie and Mallory near the pond skipping rocks and talking.
"Hey sleepyhead, you finally woke up. I thought we were going to have to drag you to the next world." Maggie yelled in his direction. He did not respond, or make any movement to indicate that he had heard her at all.
"Something's wrong, Mallory. I need to speak with him." She started towards him. Mallory held her back.
"Let me," he said.
"Are you sure, he can be kind of..." she trailed off. She was telling Quinn's double who had shared so many thoughts with him how he reacted to certain situations. This made her laugh and she added "I guess you know."
"We shall see." A somewhat confused Mallory added "We don't react the same in all situations, do we?" With that he left to catch up to Quinn before Maggie could answer.
"Quinn, hey Quinn! Wait up." Mallory yelled loudly.
"Leave me alone, Mallory. I just want to be by myself."
Quinn cut him off. "Mallory I really like you man, but right now I just want to be alone."
"Quinn, listen. I'm just here to listen, let me in. You are my double, my brother…"
"I am not your brother. Colin's my brother; you just happen to be a double that got caught in the slide," Quinn snapped.
Mallory brushed that off; he had to. "Look. I know you're worried about Colin, but I'm more than just an ordinary double. We have shared thoughts. I know how you think, Quinn, remember that." Mallory was getting defensive.
Quinn saw this and didn't want to fight. It expelled far more energy then he had at the moment. He decided to open up. "Look... I just don't feel in control; I feel like I've lost everything."
"You haven't lost everything Quinn; you have us." He knew that all of this was eating Quinn alive; he could almost feel it.
"Look Mallory, before that fateful slide of ours... I was different. I had shut off all my feelings to get by, to get a night's sleep. I felt that all the time that I was in the void that is your head." He realized that insulting Mallory was not a good way to start this interesting relationship. "I didn't mean that, sorry." he continued did not wait for Mallory to say anything. "I found all of those feelings and tried to work them out. Since I began sliding I have hurt all those I love. I was a clueless kid back then. I feel that all of this was a mistake." Quinn looked so lost.
"Yeah, I can see why you feel that way. I don't blame you. Listen Quinn, I have had the time of my life. I'm sure, in fact, I know the others would say the same. You have got to stop beating yourself up. I had dreams at night. Your dreams. Nightmares, Quinn. You can not change the past. You know now that your parents were sliders; you met your brother; you met Maggie. You couldn't have saved the Professor but we will find Wade and Colin alive." Mallory waited for a response.
"I know what you're saying. I agree with you. You seem to have the 'rational' gene that I missed out on." Quinn smiled, then sighed. "I got the 'think too much' gene."
"Get to know me and you might take that back. I will say that you gave me headaches, you thought so much." Mallory put his arm on Quinn's shoulder.
"Sorry about that." He gave Mallory a hug. "Thanks man, I owe you." Quinn felt a little better. This man was different. Mallory knew him as well as he knew himself. That scared him.
"Big time Quinn; you have back rent on the use of my brain, bud." Mallory had been chuckling, but now he lost it. He laughed so hard he almost fell down.
Coming from behind them Maggie said, "Hey there fella, calm down; you might break something." She was happy they were getting along. "So, I see we're all in a better mood... which is good, 'cause we slide in 15 minutes." Maggie decided not to pry. This was an odd relationship and they needed to figure it out by themselves.
Tumbling from the vortex, the five found themselves in a world devoid of any human life. "This can't be a good sign." Diana said.
"Okay, that is it. I am sick and tired of these spooky 'no one here' worlds. You better fix that thing, Q-Ball." Remmy huffed off away from the group.
Quinn scoped out the surroundings. "Okay, let's not panic," he shouted in Remmy's direction. "At least we're back in an LA we recognize. We can go to the hotel and keep out of sight for the duration of the slide. I really do not believe we are alone."
"Quinn, I know you have been out of it for awhile so I'll say this slowly... when have we ever kept out of sight for an entire slide?" Maggie said as seriously as she could.
"Well, you might be right but can we try at least," Quinn pleaded with the group. He realized that he was not as strong as he thought he was as he swayed on his feet, almost passing out.
"Quinn, you okay? What's wrong?" Diana was worried.
"I just got light-headed. I'll be fine." Quinn's protestations were less than convincing.
"We've got to get somewhere to rest; his body has to adapt to these slides again," Diana urged.
A rude surprise awaited them at the hotel: This world was overrun with Kromaggs. The sliders spotted an alley and ducked in as they saw more trucks approaching.
"How much time Q-Ball?" Remmy spoke in a whisper.
Quinn looked at the timer. "About 10 hours."
"You think we can stay out of their way until then?" Diana stared transfixed at the passing vehicles and their deformed occupants.
Mallory moved out of the alley to get a better look at these creatures that have been haunting his double... blissfully unaware that he was now in plain sight of a group of Kromaggs.
"You there Human, stop! You are now prisoners of the Kromagg Dynasty. Do not move," one of the soldiers snarled as he approached.
"I guess not." Quinn whispered to Diana.
Mallory froze. They were trapped. The alley that once had a back exit was fully blocked. They had nowhere to run.
An officer stepped up behind the thug. "Good job, soldier." Giving a pat on the back to this young Kromagg, he was startled to see a familiar face.
They found themselves in separate cells when they regained consciousness. Cold, dark and definitely Kromagg.
Quinn tried to figure out what had happened; the last thing he remembered was seeing the Kromagg Officer in the alley. He figured they'd missed the slide, but had no way to find out as the timer was gone. He began to panic; unsure of his surroundings he screamed for his companions. "Rembrandt, Mallory where are you guys?! Maggie, Diana; someone answer me!!"
A cool voice responded. "You didn't ask where I was, Quinn. Don't you care anymore?"
He focused on the voice, the voice of Wade. "Wade, Wade is that really you?"
Desperation showed through in his voice. They were playing mind games with him. It couldn't possibly be Wade. Yet he cried out again, "Wade!! Answer me if it's you!"
The voice spoke. "I'm here, Quinn. You left me here."
Guilt washed over him like a waterfall over a cliff. "Wade I never meant to hurt you. I didn't want to leave you."
"You kissed her, you pushed us out of your life. You let us slide home alone; you left me, Quinn... and I loved you." The voice began to sound as if it were in great pain.
Unable to bear it, he put his hands over his ears to block out the sound of her accusations. "You are not Wade, you can not be Wade..." A tear rolled down his cheek; he was defeated.
"It's me, Quinn. Please help me, I can't hold on..." Wade's voice quietly dissolved.
Quinn dropped to his knees and began to sob. "No, Wade, hold on, please hold on. Oh, G-d Wade." He whispered a prayer. "Anything. I'll do anything. Don't hurt her anymore." With that his cell door slammed open and two Kromaggs entered.
"Let's go human, up on your feet." He pulled on Quinn's 6-foot 3-inch frame as if it were a rag doll and tossed him out the door. "Walk."
"Where are you taking me?" Quinn yelled.
"To your mate, Human," the seething Kromagg replied.
"Wade!" Quinn was engulfed by emotions. Was it going to be this easy? Of course not. Where was everyone else? What was happening to his friends?
Quinn was pushed into a large room. A petite figure could be seen sitting across the way. He ran to her.
There she sat resting her eyes; she looked if she had been in a boxing match, which she obviously lost. He stared and tried to address her through the tears welling up.
"Wade. Wade, it's Quinn. I'm here, no one is going to hurt you anymore, I promise." He knelt at her side. This was a promise he intended on keeping.
"How human of you, Mr. Mallory." This Kromagg was one Quinn had seen before; he was one of the elite. "Don't make a promise you have no control over."
"You are not going to touch her again! Do you hear me Magg!" Quinn was not going to falter now that he knew everyone's futures were at stake.
"There's no reason to get angry, Mr. Mallory. We only have a few questions." The Kromagg officer was sadistically calm.
"Quinn, Quinn is that you?" Wade said in a partially audible whisper. "You came Quinn, I knew you would find me. Can we go home now? Please?" It was a child's plea that Quinn heard. His heart could withstand no more.
Keeping one eye on the officer, he knelt down to Wade. "We're going soon, honey."
A Kromagg came from another door closer to Quinn and roughly took hold of Wade. He fought with all his might but to no avail. Quinn was punched in the gut and left on the floor to scream "No, leave her alone!"
"Quinn, help me, please, I can't take anymore…get off of me you maggot…QUINN!" Wade screamed as the grunt took her away. Quinn was held down by the officer's foot on his already bruised chest, unable to move.
"Leave her alone! You want me, not her." Quinn yelled at the elite officer standing above him. He was pulled from the floor and thrown into a chair.
"Mr. Mallory, we can't hold such a touching reunion without getting some answers." The Kromagg now stood right in front of Quinn.
"Ask your question. Then take me to Wade and the rest of my friends." Quinn was very insistent.
"The question is... how did you pass the Slidecage; how did you get those humans home?"
"That's it? Then you'll take me to my friends?" Quinn was dumbfounded.
"That is all, and you and your friends are free." He took out the timer, reset for 10 hours. "We will slide you back to the world you were on and your slide will bypass this world."
Quinn was amazed at the reset timer, but didn't trust this Kromagg. Why should he? "The Slidecage has been disabled. I can't do anything to uncloak my world."
"I have important officers that are stuck in the Slidecage. It is not disabled," the officer barked.
Had they reestablished the slidecage? Quinn thought to himself. How were he and Colin supposed to get home now? The last time they were unable to slide with everyone else.
"I can see I must convince you that your help is necessary," the officer said
A door opened to reveal Diana, who had never encountered these beings before. She was held prisoner in a contraption with headgear. Before Quinn could say another word Diana was jolted with an electrical charge.
"Diana!" Quinn screamed with worry.
"Mr. Mallory, you are doing this to her, and…" Five doors opened showing his friends, all with the same device.
"I'd tell you," Quinn was lying. He had come up with a perfect idea. "It's just…" This Kromagg officer had to buy this, his friends where at stake. He would never even think to put any of them in danger but this was a plan they would all have to live with.
When he had seen all this technology he had come up with an idea to get Colin re-stuck. He might not see this technology again and the fact that getting Colin back was so close he had to try. He knew his friends would understand. At least, he hoped they would.
"It is just what, Mr. Mallory?" Quinn's interrogator was getting annoyed.
"I only have half the coordinates."
"Who has the other half?" A gun was now in Quinn's ribs.
"My brother. It takes both of us." Quinn hoped he swallowed the bait.
"Where is he, is it that human male that came in with you?" The Kromagg was confused and apparently buying into Quinn's plan.
"No, he's my fraternal double. My brother is what you call unstuck in the multiverse." The line was cast... would it be caught? "We don't have the technology to create what Diana and Mallory call a traverse. I believe you might."
"We have it, human. Once your brother is retrieved you WILL open the gateway." The Kromagg officer left. Quinn was now alone with his friends, each hooked up to a machine.
"Quinn what the hell are you doing, Colin can't help them." Remmy spoke, then realized what Quinn was doing and remained quiet.
One by one, Quinn released the others from their bonds. "Is everyone-- Wade!" She had gotten up from her chair and promptly collapsed. Her frail body lay on the ground, unmoving.
"Quinn, we have to get her out of here, now!" Remmy glanced about for an exit.
"Okay," he said. He looked at Wade. The pain of seeing her like this after so much time overtook him. Tears began to fall as he rocked her.
"Wade, can you hear me?" Quinn's voice shook as he spoke. "I'm going to get us out of here, I'm so sorry, I never wanted to leave you." He was sobbing now and everyone knew to let him have this moment.
"Quinn?" Wade said with the little strength she had left.
Quinn looked her over, cringing as he saw the bruises that had been inflicted. Some old, some as fresh as today. "Hold on sweetheart, can you do that for me just a little longer?"
"Yes... I've waited this long; I can wait a little longer." She looked up at this man that she loved. If he said that he needed a little more time in this rat hole she would try to understand. At least they were all together.
Quinn placed her in Remmy's awaiting arms on the couch. Remmy took her and stroked her forehead. "Quinn, it's gonna be okay, man."
"Thanks Remmy," Quinn said.
"Hey, sweetheart! Girl did I miss you." Rembrandt looked down at his angel, searching for a clean spot without a bruise to kiss. Rembrant whispered to himself, "These Maggs are going to pay."
"Remmy…I missed you too." Wade said as a tear rolled down her cheek on to Rembrandt's shirt.
"Quinn, do you think we can get away with this? Having them find Colin for us?" Mallory spoke over Quinn's shoulder bringing him back to reality.
"Oh yeah, I think this just might work, Mallory." He eyed his newfound friend.
To be continued...