Lovers and Other Strangers II

By SouthernSlider

Originally posted at the JOC Fanatics Board

PROLOGUE

It has been one year and three months since Quinnís and Wadeís and Colinís and Christinaís marriages. They slid to Hawaii World - where Hawaii ruled America and everyone was on vacation - for their honeymoons. After spending two glorious weeks of lovemaking there, they slid to their new "home" world to set up housekeeping. Maggie and Remmy stayed on that same world for a few months, but decided they missed the adventures of sliding. So they took off to explore other worlds, especially enjoying the fact that they could come and go at will.

Colin and Quinn found jobs at World Tech Labs, with Wade and Christina spending their time at home, exploring data of other worlds they wanted to visit, and making the boys happy. Their homes are side by side on a narrow street in a family-oriented neighborhood. Each home has a wide front porch, perfect for spending quiet evenings enjoying the moon, crickets chirping, friends and each other. The yards are small, but big enough for a flower garden. And there is a picket fence separating each yard from the other and from the sidewalk winding through the neighborhood parallel to the street. Life is good.......so far.

CHAPTER ONE

Wade and Christina sat on the porch at Christinaís house discussing plans for the evening. The boys will be home soon and they want to have the details already worked out. They are both rocking slowly, giggling like school girls at some of their ideas. Wade suddenly stops rocking and puts her hand to her stomach.

"Wade? What are you doing? Is it time?" Christina asked, putting her notepad and pencil aside.

"I just had a pain, but itís nothing. Iím not due for two more weeks." Wade answered.

"Wade, you know due dates are just educated guesses. The baby comes when it wants to, not when the doctor tells it to." Christina chided.

"Itís really nothing. Probably stretching, getting ready for his Ďbirthí day." Wade tried to gloss it over, but she didnít convince herself. She resumed rocking.

Christina stared at her a second, saw Wade looking calm, then reached for her pad and pencil. She looked over the list and was just about to ask Wade about the last restaurant she mentioned when Wade squealed. Christina dropped the pencil, let the pad slide off her lap, and tried to rise as quickly as her bulging stomach would allow. She was actually due a week before Wade, in six days to be exact, but it looked like Wade was going to beat her to it. Wade was bent slightly, struggling to breath and holding her belly.

"Wade, I think his birthday is going to be today. Youíre going into labor." Christina said as she finally got to her feet. "Quinn and Colin should be home any minute. Just hang on."

"Tell that to little Quinn!" Wade screamed through clinched teeth as the third pain hit, too close to the second.

Just at that moment, Colinís car pulled into the drive. "Thank God. The cavalry has arrived just in the nick of time." thought Christina, then she yelled at Colin, "Donít turn off the engine, weíre headed to the hospital!"

"What, you are in labor already?" he yelled out the open door that Quinn was exiting.

"No, itís Wade." she answered. Quinn slammed the door and went running up the walk, taking the steps two at a time. Wade was trying to stand as Quinn reached her.

"Wade, Wade, be careful." Quinn said nervously.

"Iím fine, Quinn, just get me to the hospital quickly. Your son is ready for this world and very impatient, not unlike his father!" Wade spoke as she took a couple of steps away from the rocker. Quinn helped her to the car, placing her in the back seat then climbing in next to her. Christina managed to get in the front and Colin sped out of the drive onto the street, while Wade experienced another pain.

 

 

Colin and Christina sat side by side in the waiting room holding hands. It had been two hours since they arrived. How much longer? Christina needed to walk. She tried to rise but the seat was too low. Colin rose and pulled her to her feet. "I would not venture too far. They might try to put you in a wheelchair again and haul you off to the labor room." Colin said, grinning.

"I almost wish they would." she replied. She took two steps toward the hall and suddenly stopped, putting her hand against the wall. Then she felt it; something warm and wet running down her leg.

"Christina?" Colin said, taking her free arm.

"Colin, get that wheelchair. NOW!" she groaned.

CHAPTER TWO

Wade lay in her hospital bed, cradling the baby in her arms. "Just like Quinn." she thought as she stared at him with tired eyes. "So why doesnít he want to name the baby after himself?" They had just finished another discussion on the subject with the result being the same again. Quinn was adamant. He did not want to name his child Quinn. She would not try to change his mind anymore. Besides, the name he suggested was a good one - "Michael Maximillian Mallory". They would call him Max. She looked at Quinn watching their son, and smiled a weak smile. How could she help but be the happiest woman on the face of this planet.

Next door, Colin and Christina were copying the same scene from Quinn and Wade, with one exception. The child Christina held in her arms was a little girl - "Brandy Amanda Mallory". Colin wanted to name her after the mother he was just beginning to get to know. They only needed a very short discussion to agree that it was a wonderful name for their daughter, since they both had a deep connection to the woman belonging to the name. Christina suggested Brandy and related to Colin exactly why. She would always remember his sweet, shy smile when she told him the significance of the name; how she always felt as if warm brandy were flowing through her veins when he kissed her.

 

The two cars travelled slowly down the winding street. With precious cargo in each car, Quinn and Colin were being very cautious. Too cautious, thought Wade. "Quinn, itís not necessary to drive ten miles an hour. At this rate we wonít get home until heís ready to graduate from college." Wade had chided him for his slow crawl.

"Sorry, Wade. Iím new at this. I have a big responsibility now and nothing is going to happen while Iím in charge." he answered.

"In charge! Since when are you in charge?" Wade raised her voice. "This is going to be a modern marriage, Quinn Mallory. No one person is Ďin chargeí."

"You know what I mean, Wade." He started to mention the fact that it was his doing that had gotten her into so much trouble, but he couldnít talk about something she didnít remember. He wasnít going to let his son come to harm. "I just meant that....heh, I am driving here; and Iím not going to be the cause of an accident." He tried to smooth things over, relieved that he was pulling into the drive to end this conversation.

It was like watching the same scene on two different television sets at a store. The men got out of the car simultaneously, walking around to the passengerís side and opening the door. They took their respective children from the arms of the mothers, stepping back for the mothers to exit. The babies were then returned to the mothers, fathers putting their arms around them and leading them up the walk, up the stairs, and into their homes.

CHAPTER THREE

Quinn sat on the third step to his front porch, elbows resting on his knees. He breathed a heavy sigh and raked his fingers through his hair. Colin came up the walk, then proceeded to sit on the step below Quinn, stretching his long legs out on the sidewalk, crossing them at the ankles, and leaning back to put his elbows on the next step. Quinn just looked as he sat, and said nothing.

"Whatís the matter, bro? Little Max still keeping you up nights?" Colinís proper English that had been so prevalent when Quinn found him was slowly beginning to dissipate. Colin knew Max had not been a good sleeper like Brandy when they brought him home, but after six months things should have gotten better. But Quinn didnít look so good.

"No, Colin. Max has improved a lot. Heís been sleeping better for a couple of months now. Heís not the problem." Quinn spoke quietly.

"Whatís going on, Quinn?" Colin asked, very concerned, hoping it had nothing to do with Wade.

"Iíve got to go away for a while. Iím not sure how long Iíll be gone." Quinn started to explain. "I hate to leave Wade alone with the baby, but this is a must."

"Is World Tech sending you on a business trip? I hadnít heard." said Colin.

"No. This is personal. I have to do some sliding, Colin." Quinn said as he rose and started down the walk with his hands in his pockets. Colin frowned, rose and ran to catch up with his brother.

"What are you talking about? You canít leave Wade and the baby to go off sliding again! I thought you were through with those adventures. Youíre not thinking about Maggie, are you? ĎCause if you are, Iíll...."

"NO!" Quinn interrupted. "And itís not an adventure, Colin. Itís just something I have to do. Iím not going to explore other worlds; Iím just going to one world." He paused, then, "Make that two worlds. Iíve got to go see Mom first."

"Whatís going on, Quinn?" Colin asked.

"I canít talk about it now. Trust me, bro. Itís just something I have to take care of." said Quinn, putting his hand on Colinís shoulder as they walked down the sidewalk through the neighborhood.

They walked a little further, then Colin spoke up, "Maybe I could go with you. Wade and Max can come and stay with Christina and Brandy. They can take care of each other for a few days. And it would give us some time alone without all the family and business distractions."

"No! Itís too dangerous. I canít put you in jeopardy like that, not with a wife and baby to take care of." Quinn said adamantly.

"Dangerous?! If itís so dangerous then what business do you have going? You have a wife and baby to support, too, you know." said Colin, beginning to really worry about Quinn.

"I have to go, and I have to go alone." Quinn replied. "Iím through discussing it. Letís go back and get the grill fired up for the supper Wade and Christina have planned." Colin knew there was no use to attempt any further conversation on the subject. Quinn could be stubborn, and this was one of those times. They returned to Quinnís house in silence.

CHAPTER FOUR

Colin lay there in the dark, hands clasped behind his head. Christina knew he was still awake, and knew something was bothering him. He hadnít been himself at supper. She rolled to her side to face him, placing her hand on his chest, saying nothing, but conveying concern. Colin turned his head toward her slowly and gave her a weak smile. He knew that she sensed his troubled mind. He answered her silent question.

"Itís Quinn. Somethingís wrong with him." Then he related the afternoonís conversation between the two of them. She lay there listening to all he had to say, lightly moving her fingers back and forth across his chest. When he finished she moved closer, snuggling up to his side, laying her head on his shoulder. Colin brought his arms down to hold her tight.

"Colin, maybe I can help." she said softly, after a few minutes. "Our minds are linked because of the mind control I had over him. I could sense if heís in trouble, and maybe send him some help." Colin raised up to look at her.

"You never said anything about a mind link."

"I wasnít trying to hide it; I just thought I would never use it. Didnít see a need for it with our lives so wonderful on this world." she explained.

"Maybe it could help. Weíll talk to him tomorrow. We have to try. Thank you." said Colin and he brought his lips to hers with a warm, tender kiss that only Colin Mallory could deliver.

 

Quinn lay in his bed, hands also clasped behind his head, just like his brother next door. The things those two did in the same manner was sometimes eerie. His mind was made up. He had to tell Wade tonight.

The bathroom door opened, spilling light into the darkened bedroom. Quinn turned his head to see the beautiful vision standing there. His heart skipped a beat. Having a child had only brought a more beautiful glow to her already heavenly face. He closed his eyes and swallowed, "How do I tell her now?" Wade flipped the switch and brought the room back to darkness, making her way carefully to the bed. Quinn turned on his side as she lowered herself next to him.

"You were awfully quiet tonight at dinner, and so was Colin. Is something going on between you two?" she asked as she snuggled close into his waiting arms.

"No, weíre closer than ever. I guess his mood was a reflection of mine. He knew I had some unpleasant news to tell you." Quinn answered, bringing his fingers to her cheek and turning her face toward his.

"Whatís wrong, Quinn?" she asked, frowning, a little nervous.

"I have to go on a business trip tomorrow. I leave tomorrow night." he blurted out.

Wade expelled her breath, "Is that all? You had me worried. I thought something was wrong." Quinn was semi-relieved that she didnít seem to think his leaving was too terrible.

"Well, I think leaving you here alone with Max is pretty bad. And I donít have any idea how long Iíll be gone. It could take days." he said. Maybe even weeks, he thought to himself.

"Well, Max and I will be just fine. Besides, Colin and Christina are right next door, and Christina and I spend most of our days together anyway. It wonít be a problem, except that I will miss you terribly." she said, trying to relieve his mind.

"Youíre wonderful, do you know that?" he said, caressing her cheek with his thumb.

"Of course I am. Iím just glad you finally realize it." she answered, teasingly.

He brought her to his chest tightly and kissed her, longingly, deeply, almost bruising her lips. God, he loved her, how could he leave now? But he had to.

Wade had intended to ask what the trip was about, but the thought left her head as soon as his lips touched hers. She thought of nothing but making love to this wonderfully passionate man.

CHAPTER FIVE

Christina stood at the living room window with the curtain pulled back, watching the street. Thank goodness Wade had gone on home a little early with a fussy Max. She had to talk to Quinn. "I hope he didnít dismiss the offer when he heard it from Colin this morning. Heís got to let me explain." Christina thought, as she saw the car coming down the street. She quickly went to the door to get Quinnís attention as soon as they pulled into the drive.

"Quinn, come in for a minute please." she yelled as he opened the door and began to exit. Quinn peered at Colin, with a slightly agitated look on his face, but came up the walk with him anyway. A sigh of relief left Christinaís lips. She held the screen door open and they entered, closing it behind them. Quinn turned on his heels immediately to face her.

"Christina, Colin told me what you said this morning. You canít...."

"Quinn, please let me do the talking first." she interrupted, "then you can talk." Quinn saw the determination in her eyes.

He let out a disgusted sigh, sat down on the sofa and gestured with his hand, "So talk." Colin sat down next to Quinn, and Christina sat in the chair to his left.

She took a deep breath and began, "Quinn, I donít know whatís going on, but I do know you feel something is important enough to take you away from here. I also understand that you think itís dangerous." He started to speak, but Christina held her hand up to silence him before he made a sound, then she continued, "Quinn, our minds are linked. If you run into trouble, I will know it. I can send help. If the problems you anticipate donít occur then you can take care of business and return." She stopped and waited for his reaction.

"Christina, I appreciate your wanting to help, but even if you know Iím in trouble, you canít send Colin to help me. He would then be in the same trouble I would be in. Iíll not have that, under any circumstances!" His voice started calmly, but gained volume and nervousness as he ended, causing Brandy to cry in the next room. "Iím sorry." he said, dejectedly, raking shaking fingers through his hair.

Colin rose, "No problem, Quinn. Iíll take care of her." He put his hand on Christinaís shoulder and squeezed it gently as he passed by, hoping to give her encouragement to go on. Maybe with him out of the room, Christina could do more to convince him.

Christina rose and went to sit next to Quinn on the sofa. Before Quinn realized what was happening, Christina had put her fingers gently on his temple. Just at the mere touch, Quinn was rendered helpless. He was no longer in control. Christina looked into his eyes and probed his mind. She hated to do it. She had promised herself she would never use her mind control skills again, but this was an emergency. Never say never. Thereís always an exception to the rule.

She found his thoughts, her mouth and eyes opening wide at the discovery. "Quinn," she whispered. "I understand now." She pressed her fingers a little harder and Quinn came out of his trance-like state. He blinked and put his hand up to his temple where her hand had been. "Iím sorry, Quinn. I had to." she paused momentarily, then continued. "I understand everything and I can still help. You donít have to go through this entirely alone." She proceeded to explain what she could do and began to weave a plan.

When she finished, Quinn cupped her chin in his hand, and spoke slowly and softly, "You are so wonderful. If I didnít love Wade so much, Colin would have a fight on his hands."

She smiled shyly and touched his cheek. "If you didnít love Wade so much, you and Colin would still belong to me on another world." she teased.

Colin stepped to the door, holding Brandy, to see Quinn and Christina laughing and talking. "Your mother must have been successful, Brandy. She is a remarkable woman," he said to his daughter as he stepped into the living room.

Christina saw Colin coming toward them and stood, "Quinn has agreed to let me help, if necessary." she said, speaking in general. She had promised Quinn she would not tell Colin what she had learned. He would tell his brother when the time came, if it came.

"Iím glad you have come to your senses. Weíre all family now. None of us has to go through anything alone." Colin said.

Quinn rose from the sofa, "I know brother. Iím sorry I was so stubborn. If I need help, Christina knows what to do."

She would have to tell Colin why it was too dangerous for him to go to Quinn if the situation called for her help, but she would not tell him why Quinn had to go. Quinn was very adamant about keeping his business his own. No need to stir up trouble.

Quinn continued talking while Christina was lost in thought. "I have to get home now and Ďpackí, and say goodbye to Wade and Max. Take care of them, Colin. Iím counting on you. And take good care of this little lady," he said, grasping Brandyís little fingers. "She deserves a chance to grow up, so she can be as wonderful as her mother."

Colin handed Brandy over to Christina and put his hand on Quinnís shoulder as they started for the door, "You know Wade and Max will be fine. Iíll take care of them as if they were mine. You just take care of yourself and come back soon."

"Thanks, brother. I love you." Quinn said and grabbed his brother for a bear hug. Colin felt that his brother thought he might not return. He hoped his feelings were unfounded.

CHAPTER SIX

When Quinn entered his house after his visit with Colin and Christina, he found Wade in the bedroom already packing his things. He knew it was all unnecessary; he wouldnít be taking anything on the slide, but he had to keep up the pretence of a business trip. He couldnít let Wade have any suspicions otherwise. She ran to kiss him as he walked through the door. He grabbed her and held her tight. "God, please tell me Iím doing the right thing." he thought.

She pulled back. "I think I have everything ready but you should check it out." she said. Crying was heard from the next room. "Iíd better go check on Max." She left the room and Quinn went straight to the closet.

From the top shelf, he lowered a small box. He took the top off to reveal the timer his mother had given him and Wade. He removed it and placed it in his suitcase under some clothes, just as Wade re-entered the room with Max. "I think itís all here." he said, closing the suitcase. "Thanks for doing this. It saved me some time."

Quinn took Max from Wadeís arms and held him close, blinking back tears welling up in his eyes. Then he held him in the air at armís length, "Max, you be a good boy, and donít give your mother any trouble." Max giggled and drool dribbled down his chin.

Wade came up beside them. "Max will just be a perfect angel, wonít you, Max." she said, tickling his tummy. Quinn turned him over to Wade and went for his suitcase. Picking it up, he leaned his head back and closed his eyes. His stomach knotted up

"Quinn?" Wade came up behind him. "Are you alright?"

"Yes. Yes, Iím fine. I just donít want to leave." he said, turning to face her.

"Weíll be fine." she said, very positively. She didnít want Quinn to worry.

"I know. Take care of Max." he whispered, wanting to crush her to his body.

"Let me put Max in his bed, and Iíll give you a proper goodbye." Wade said, smiling coyly.

Quinn was standing at the front door when she returned. She held out her arms and placed them around his neck. He took her in his embrace and kissed her with all his being. Finally releasing her, he said, "I have to go." Wade almost staggered. Quinnís kiss had left her a little dizzy. She smiled a dazed smile and only half heard him whisper "I love you." as he went out the door.

He walked to the car, tears streaming down his face. Colin and Christina watched from their front window as he drove down the street. Colin took her in his arms, whispering, "Help him, Christina. Bring him back to us safely."

CHAPTER SEVEN

The vortex opened and Quinn jumped out rolling on the grass in the middle of the compound. Being rather late in the evening, no one had seen him. He had parked his car in the back parking lot at World Tech, putting his suitcase in the trunk after taking out the timer. He, then, had jumped into the vortex, praying he was doing the right thing. Now he stood here on his motherís world, hoping she could help him. He picked himself up, dusting off dirt and grass, and headed for her quarters. She had given him a gold card to enter headquarters anytime he came to see her so that there would not be any trouble from those that might not know him. He doubted that would ever be the case. The story that the Grand Starfire was mother to two of the companions here had spread like wildfire. Quinn and Colin had become very famous on this world. Everyone wanted to see the two ĎGrand Sonsí.

The Grand Starfire was seated at her desk. Her mind was telling her something was amiss. The board on her desk alerted her to the fact someone was coming up. "Quinn?" she thought. "How wonderful! But something is wrong." The elevator doors opened and Quinn exited.

"Mother. Iím glad youíre here." he said as he went into her outstretched arms.

"Iím always here for you, son, and I sense that I am definitely needed." she frowned as she pulled back to look at his face. "Whatís wrong? Itís not little Max, is it, or Wade?"

"No maíam. Theyíre fine. Itís me. I have a problem and I need your words of wisdom and your help."

She guided him to a seat, rejoicing in the fact that, after all those years apart, her son felt he could come to her in time of need. But she was distressed that there seemed to be a problem of great proportions.

Quinn sat, looking everywhere but at his motherís face. She sensed his hesitations, but she waited patiently for him to speak. Quinn didnít know where to begin. He didnít even know if he should tell her the whole story. Maybe he could just ask her to help him get the co-ordinates he needed for the world he was going to, and leave it at that. But no, she would know there was more. He turned and looked at her with half a smile.

The Grand Starfire wanted to take his face in her hands, probe his mind, and save him the pain of saying aloud whatever he had in his heart. But she couldnít. She knew he needed to say it all so he could hear it himself. Sometimes just stating a problem out loud was half the battle toward solving it. She took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently. "You can do it." she said softly.

He began haltingly. But soon he was pouring out his heart with ease, smiling at times, crying at times. He talked and talked, leaving out no detail. And she let him go on and on never once interrupting, never displaying any emotion that might discourage him. He talked, it seemed, for hours, finally ending with "and thatís why I came here. I need to get the co-ordinates of that world. You understand why I have to go there."

She smiled, releasing his hand, and took him in her arms. "You have grown to be a wonderful man, Quinn. Your father would be proud." she spoke as she pulled back and looked into his eyes. "If we have been to that world, the co-ordinates were recorded. But we will take care of that in the morning. Right now, you need some rest and some sleep. You have a big task ahead of you and youíve got to be at your best."

She led him to one of the doors leading off her headquarters. Opening the door, Quinn saw a large, luxurious bedroom, decorated in a very masculine fashion. He turned questioning eyes to her.

"I was hoping your father would return someday, unexpectedly, just as he disappeared." she said, with a tear in her eye. He hugged her closely.

"Maybe someday, Mom, maybe someday." He released her and she put her fingers to his temple.

"Sleep, my son, sleep peacefully. You need it." And she left the room closing the door quietly, leaving Quinn to dream of Wade.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Morning dawned. Quinn opened his eyes slowly. "Where am I?" he voiced aloud. "Oh, yeah. Momís." His burden began to re-enter his mind. "How did I sleep so easily? I donít even remember getting into bed." And then it hit him. "Mom. She must have given me some help. God bless mind control.....sometimes." He wanted to be just a little irritated that she had done this, but he was too appreciative of the peaceful nightís sleep he had just had. His sleep hadnít been very good in months His problem was always on the edge of his subconscious, making him toss and turn, and sleep fitfully.

The door opened. "I sensed you were awake." his mother said, standing in the doorway. "I trust you had a good nightís rest." He raised up, covers falling to his waist. He realized he was totally naked between the sheets and brought them up to his neck with both hands. His mother smiled.

"You know I did." he spoke, trying to sound a little angry. "You caused it."

"Yes, and arenít you glad." she answered, continuing to smile.

He returned the smile, "Yes. Thanks. I needed it badly."

"When you get dressed, breakfast will be waiting for you in my office." then she closed the door, giving him no chance for a response. Quinn flung back the covers and swung his feet over to the floor. He was a little embarrassed at his present physical condition, but smiled at the dreams of Wade that had caused it.

An hour later, Quinn and his mother, having enjoyed a hearty breakfast, were well into the records of the worlds her Starfires had visited. Each world was numbered and a very vivid description of the atmosphere, the nature, and the inhabitants had been given. Quinn was getting discouraged. They had been through so many. Nothing. He breathed a heavy sigh and walked away from the desk. His mother looked up at him over the glasses sitting on her nose, but said nothing. "So impatient." she thought. "I donít think he realizes how many worlds there are. Weíve hardly made a dent." He turned abruptly.

"Mom, I think itís futile. Weíre never going to find that world in your records." She stopped her reading, removed her glasses and rose to walk over to Quinn. She took his hands in hers, "Son, if we have visited that world, we will find it. Have patience."

"But what if you havenít even visited it? Iíll never find it!" he said, ripping his hands from hers and walking away.

"Weíll find it, Quinn. Have faith." she said with a sigh, and returned to her desk.

Hours passed. They had taken turns reading and resting. Quinn now lay on the sofa in the corner of her office, one arm resting over his eyes. Quinnís mother was at her desk reading record after record. "Quinn." He didnít move. "Quinn!" she said louder.

He stirred. "Huh, what?"

"Quinn, I think Iíve got it." He jumped up and ran to the computer.

"Thatís it. Thatís it!" he cried. "You did it!" He grabbed her around the shoulders and nearly knocked her out of the chair They both laughed and cried.

Quinn had the co-ordinates placed in his timer, impatiently waiting for nightfall. He wanted to leave now, but knew his mother was right in saying "wait until dark". It was his best chance to exit the vortex unseen. And he certainly didnít want to be seen. It would kill any chance he had of accomplishing his mission. He had agreed to the help Christina had offered, but wasnít totally convinced she could get him out of his predicament if he was taken captive on that world.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, darkness came. Still, Quinn waited. Eight oíclock. Nine oíclock. Ten oíclock. The later the better, his mother said. He agreed. Better chance of no one being out and about. When the clock struck midnight, Quinn hugged and kissed his mother goodbye. Opening the vortex, he took one last look at her, "Thanks. I love you." he said and jumped into the swirl.

"Goodbye, my son," she whispered, with a tear falling. "Good luck."

CHAPTER NINE

Quinn was dumped onto the ground, unceremoniously. "Damn. My genius mom perfects sliding, but she still canít find a way to make a soft landing. Iím going to discover that way some day, if itís the last thing I do." He got up, dusted himself off and looked around intently to see if anyone was around to see his entrance. No one. He went immediately to the cover of some bushes to continue his scouting. "I can NOT get caught here." He looked over his surroundings, studying every nook and cranny to see if he recognized anything. He turned to his right. "Hey, I know that house. It was the first place I came to after the escape. Great! Now if I could just run up on the other place this easy. Iíve got no clue."

At that moment, his eyes fell on a telephone booth. He ran quickly to it, flipping pages to the one he needed, ripped it out and returned to his hiding place. He scanned it quickly. There it was. "Thank you, Lord." looking skyward as he spoke. "But it canít be this easy. Thereís going to be trouble. I just know it."

After a few minutes, he decided to make his way to the address under the cover of darkness, then in the morning he would make his presence known. He had remembered a few details from some conversations he had, so he started making his way toward the house, hoping luck was with him. He kept close to anything that would provide cover, knowing any open territory would render him helpless. The journey was slow and methodical. He could take no chances.

After darting in and out, here and there, he saw the street sign. "Yes!" He looked at the houses in the immediate vicinity, but none looked familiar. He needed to see a house number to decide in which direction he should go. The only way to get it was to get closer to a house. No cover there. But surely no one would be out at four in the morning. He dashed out from under cover toward the closest house. Headlights suddenly blinded him.

"Halt!" the voice cried. The gun released its ammunition and Quinn crumpled to the ground.

CHAPTER TEN

Christina jerked awake and sat up. Colin lay next to her, sleeping soundly on his stomach. She shook him awake. "Colin, wake up. Quinnís in trouble. Iíve got to go." He had lazily opened his eyes at her shaking, but was suddenly wide awake at her words.

She jumped up, jerked on some clothes laying in a nearby chair, and grabbed the timer from her nightstand. She had placed it there as soon as Quinn left, to be sure she could get to it quickly and get gone. If Quinn had found trouble, there would be no time to waste.

She kissed Colin quickly and opened the vortex. "Be careful. I love you." Colin said, only a little nervously. He knew it was dangerous, but he also knew Christina was good at what she did. She would help Quinn and bring him home safely. She grabbed him and kissed him again, a little more urgently this time.

"I love you, Colin Mallory. Weíll be home soon." She jumped and the swirling vortex closed, leaving Colin alone in the room, praying.

The vortex opened on the other side of the wormhole, and Christina tumbled out. There he was. Two police-looking people were leaning over him. Thank God the Grand Starfire had learned how to make the vortex open where one wanted it; if not, she could have landed miles away.

He was now being lifted from the ground. Christina made her way toward them and walked up to the van. Quinn had given her some details of this world; she hoped she could pull it off. "Hi, what have we here?" she asked, unconcerned. They stopped in mid-drag.

"Where did you come from?" said one of them, suspiciously.

"Oh, I live just down the street. Iím a very, very early riser, and I like to get my morning exercise by walking in the cool pre-dawn." Christina spoke confidently, walking up to the group. "Whoís he?" leaning over slightly as if to get a good look at his face.

"Another esc..." started one guard, but the sentence was never finished. As Christina had leaned over, she quickly raised her hands, putting fingers at the temples of both guards and rendered them helpless. They lay mindlessly on the ground.

She moved over Quinn to check his condition. There was a small dart-like object sticking out of his leg. Christina pulled it out. "Stun gun! Great, that I can handle." she thought, relieved it had not been a bullet. Then she took Quinnís face in her hands, commanding his mind to overtake the drug that had entered his system from the stun gun. She worked her mind feverishly. It took several minutes, but slowly Quinn began to become aware. He opened his eyes.

"Christina." he whispered.

"Iím here, Quinn. Youíre okay, but weíve got to get out of the street before weíre spotted." She helped him to his feet and they beat a quick path to some bushes, leaving the guards where they lay.

Quinn quickly related to her what he had found out so far, explaining that he had been caught when looking for a house number. She had noticed a house number when she was walking up to the group earlier and pointed in the direction they needed to go.

Before heading out, they took the guards and put them back in their van to sleep off the effects of the mind control Christina had exacted upon them. Then they took off for the house in question. A few minutes down the road, Quinn spotted it.

"There it is." he said, a little nervously. "I guess we should wait a couple of hours. Itís a little early." Quinn sat down with bent knees, and propped his elbows on them. "Iím still a little groggy from their wonderful stun juice." he said.

"Yes, I guess so. It was pretty powerful stuff. I had to really work to get your mind to overtake it. But weíre pretty safe here. You rest; Iíll keep an eye out."

Quinn lay back on the ground, putting his hands behind his head. Christina looked at him, smiling. "Colin does that sometimes." she thought. "They are so much alike, yet so different." Then she turned her eyes to watch for signs of trouble.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

"Quinn. Quinn, wake up." Christina nudged him with her foot. He opened his eyes and sat up. "Itís been daylight for a while now. I think you should go up to the house. The longer you stay out here, the better chance you have of being spotted by some more guards." He stood up and pulled Christina to her feet.

"Youíre right. We had better go now." he said.

"No, Quinn. You have to go alone. You donít need me there. Iíll hang out here. It looks to be a beautiful day. Iíll do a little sight-seeing, but Iíll be close by." Quinn looked at her for a second, then took her in his arms. holding her tightly, saying nothing. Christina could feel his pain.

"Iím scared Christina. Iím not even sure how I want it to turn out." He clutched her tighter. She waited a minute before replying.

"Quinn. Youíll handle the situation, whichever way it goes. Remember, Wade is waiting for you back home and she loves you, no matter what." He pulled back to look at her.

"I think Iím worried about her more than anything. This could affect her greatly." Christina brought her hand up to his face.

"Sheís strong, Quinn and she.. loves.. you." she said, pausing between each word for emphasis. "Sheíll handle it."

Quinn pulled her to him again, holding on to her as if his life depended on it. He felt he could gain strength through her. Finally, she pushed him back. "Go, Quinn." He brought his fingers to her chin and kissed her lightly on the lips. Pulling himself up straight, he stared into her eyes a moment, turned, and headed toward the door of the house in front of him.

Quinn walked slowly up the steps. Christina stood back, watching. "Everything will be fine, I just know it." She whispered to herself. Quinn reached the door and raised his fist to knock, then stopped in mid-air.

"What do I say?" He thought a minute; nothing came to mind. He turned to look at Christina. She stood there, tears glistening in her eyes for him, and smiled. Then she slowly nodded her head. He turned and rapped on the door three times. Eternity passed before the door opened. When it did, there she stood.

CHAPTER TWELVE

"Quinn? Is it really you?" She was stunned, and just stood there staring, then found herself. "Forgive me, please come in. Itís certainly not safe to stand outside. How did you get here?" She knew she was babbling but she couldnít help it.

"Itís a long story, but I did come back. I never thought it would be possible." he answered. Neither one knew exactly what to do. They both stammered, moving awkwardly She knew why he was here.

"Quinn, I...." she started.

"Mommy, Mommy. Look what I found." a small voice interrupted her. A little boy, about 3 or 4 years of age, came running into the room. He stopped short when he saw Quinn, staring warily. Quinn stared back. Slowly, the boy walked up to Quinn, "Daddy?" Quinn looked from the boy, to Jane, then back to the boy. Jane revealed a slight smile, accompanied by tearing eyes, and nodded her head when he had looked up. Quinn knelt to be at eye level with the small child. "Yes. Yes, I am.....son." he said quietly.

"Daddy!" he squealed and wrapped his chubby arms around Quinnís neck. Quinn closed his eyes and enveloped the boy in his arms. After a few seconds, the boy wiggled from Quinnís embrace and ran over to his mother. "Mommy, Mommy. Daddyís home!" he squealed with delight.

She laughed, "I know, son."

He ran from the room continuing to squeal, "Oh, boy. Daddyís home."

Before the question "How?" could leave his lips, Jane took him by the arm, leading him to a sofa in front of the fireplace and said, "I think we have a lot to talk about. Please, sit down." He sat stiffly, on the edge of the sofa, with Jane taking a seat to his left. She turned toward him, leaned back and tucked one leg under the other. She put her hand gently on his arm, "Itís okay. You donít have to be nervous."

Quinn turned to look at her, smiling weakly, "He....he looks just like me." he stammered.

"Yes, he does, and has since the day he was born. Thatís why his name is Quinn Michael Mallory, Jr." she said.

Quinn jumped up, raking his fingers through his hair. Thank God he had insisted on not naming little Max after himself. He knew Wade wanted to badly, but he also knew there was the possibility that he already had a son named Quinn. When Wade had told him she was pregnant, the memory of this world had come flooding back to him. He had thought about it constantly for over a year. Then when Max was born, and Quinn saw how wonderful he was, he knew he had to find out if there was another. And now, here he was, standing in the home of his first child. A child conceived because of a deal. Jane wanted a child to ease her loneliness on a world with few men. Those few were captives in a breeding facility She was not a suitable volunteer to breed with a man. In exchange for Quinnís co-operation in trying to produce a child, she would help him escape with his friends. Quinn had agreed.

Quinn turned to face Jane. She was just sitting there, looking at him very contentedly. Motherhood had done wonders for her. She looked so happy. "How does he know who I am?" Quinn asked. She smiled.

"The picture I took of you before you left. Itís on the table next to his bed. We look at it every day and talk about Daddy. I have made sure that he knows who his father is. He loves you very much."

Quinn returned to the sofa to sit next to Jane. He turned toward her. "Thank you." he whispered, "Thank you for that." She started to respond, but the response died on her lips as little Quinn came running back into the room, picture in hand.

He jumped onto Quinnís lap, "Look, Daddy, look. See, thatís you." he said excitedly, pointing to Quinnís picture. Quinn was nervous, but he tried to hide it and respond positively and lovingly to this little boy....his son.

"Yes, it is, Quinn. Iím glad you have it to remind you of your Daddy who loves you so much."

"I love you, too, Daddy." little Quinn popped up and put his arms around Quinnís neck. Quinn couldnít stop the tears as he put his arms around his sonís small body.

"What do I do? She wonít let me take him with me. I canít stay......I canít leave."

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Little Quinn was a fireball for the rest of the morning. The excitement of having ĎDaddyí at home had him pumped up. He spent most of his time showing Quinn all the treasures in his room.

At lunch, Quinn informed Jane that someone had accompanied him to this world. He went to the door to see if he could spot Christina. She was coming up the walk and saw him motioning for her. When she stepped inside, Quinn closed the door and hugged her.

"I have another son." he said. She held him at armís length and looked into his eyes. "Quinn Michael Mallory, Jr." he continued. "He looks just like me and he knows Iím his father." He took her in his arms again. "What am I going to do?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.

Jane had put little Quinn down for a nap as soon as lunch was over. He had spent all of his energy that morning and fell asleep almost immediately. Quinn, Jane, and Christina now sat in front of the fire talking at length. Quinn told Jane about his brother and their marriages to Wade and Christina. Christina explained how they met and all about her mind control powers. Then Quinn told her about his and Wadeís son, Max, and how his birth had prompted Quinn to find a way to return here and learn the truth.

Jane wanted to know all about Wade and Max. She urged Quinn to talk at length about his home and family. As he did so, she saw everything falling into place. Things were going to work out after all. She would inform him of her plan after dinner and hoped he would see it her way. He had to.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Quinn was in his sonís room, watching the wonder of it all, when the call for dinner came. Little Quinn tugged at his fatherís arms, urging him to move quickly. As Quinn rose, his son ran from the room. "Where does he get all of that energy?" Quinn wondered, as he left for the dining room. Christina, Jane and little Quinn were waiting when he entered.

Christina had planned to leave before dinner, but Jane insisted she stay. There was resistance on Christinaís part. She felt the three of them needed the time alone and she was anxious to return to Colin and Brandy. She also knew Colin would start to worry too much if she stayed much longer. Jane finally had to tell Christina why she wanted her to stay; why Quinn would need her to stay. Jane had sensed Quinnís closeness to Christina. Hearing Janeís reasons, she agreed.

Jane sat at the head of the table, Christina to her left, and little Quinn to her right. She had placed Quinn at the end opposite her, but her son wouldnít hear of it. He wanted ĎDaddyí beside him. No one at the table could deny the little cherub his adamant request.

The meal went well. The adults often relented to little Quinnís chatter. And afterward, he insisted his daddy read him a story and tuck him into bed. Quinn left the room with his son on his shoulders. Jane and Christina retired to the sofa in front of the fire once more.

When Quinn entered the room an hour later, he saw Jane and Christina deep in conversation. Jane looked a little sad. Christina was holding her hand. "Whatís going on?" he thought. He went quickly to the sofa.

"Quinn?" said Jane. "I didnít hear you come in. Is little Quinn asleep?"

"Very soundly." Quinn replied, as he sat next to Christina. "Never heard the end of the story. He was exhausted."

"Itís been quite a day for him." said Christina. "Itís not everyday you meet your father for the first time." Quinn and Jane both smiled.

Jane rose from her chair and walked to the fireplace, then turned to face Quinn and Christina. She paused, clasped her hands together, then spoke. "Quinn, I asked Christina to stay for dinner for a reason. She wanted to get back home, but I thought you....uh, we, might need her support. So, Iíll get right to the point." She took a deep breath and continued. "I want you to take your son home with you."

Quinn jumped up. He was elated, but puzzled. Why would she give up a child she wanted so desperately? "What? Why?" he said aloud.

"He has been without his father all of his life. Heís soon to be without his mother. He needs you.... and Wade.... to be his parents." she spoke as she started to cry. Quinn couldnít seem to move. Christina rose and went to comfort Jane. She composed herself and continued. "Iím dying. I donít have very long to live. I think the only reason Iíve lasted this long is because I didnít know what I would do with Quinn. Iíve had to be here for him. But now youíre here. He loves you so. You have to take him home with you." She stepped forward to be inches from him. "Please." she begged.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Quinn was stunned. He just stood very still. He couldnít answer her plea. All he could do was think how this was turning out. He wanted his son, but he had been sure that there would never be a way to have him without staying here. And that was an impossibility. Now he had his son, but at the expense of another personís life....his sonís motherís life. "My poor son. He gains a father and loses his mother."

"Quinn?" Jane was trying to bring him out of his trance. "You have to take him, Quinn." she begged again. He looked down at her.

"Jane! Itís not even an issue. Of course, Iíll take him. Heís my son!" He was almost shouting, wondering how she could even think he might deny her.

Christina came forward, placing her hand gently on his arm to calm him. He looked at her and said, "My son, Christina. I have my son."

"I know, Quinn, I know." she whispered.

"What about your wife?" Jane asked. "How will she feel about this?"

"Sheíll love him, Jane. He will be our son, just as Max is." Quinn answered.

"Thank you, Quinn. Now I want to spend some time with my son." she whispered, as she left to go sit by her sonís bed.

Quinn took Christina into his arms. "God, Christina. I have two sons, and they both will be with me." he said, barely audible. She said nothing, but squeezed him gently to let him know she was happy for him. "Thank you for all your help. I would not be here now if not for you." he said as he released her slightly to look into her face.

"It was my pleasure, Quinn. Besides, it gave me a chance to practice my mind-control skills again. I just might resume that practice. It felt good." she teased, trying to lighten the mood.

"Iím sure Colin wonít mind, but I donít think youíll need to control his mind to get him to do what you want." he teased in return.

"Well, maybe Colin is not the only one I want to control." she answered back.

"Oh, no. Two sons and a wanton sister-in-law. Have I got my hands full." he replied, laughing. And she, along with him.

Quinn let his smile diminish and looked at Christina very seriously. "How do I let Wade know about all of this?" he asked.

"Well, as I see it," she answered, "you have two choices. You can either slide home with your son in your arms and surprise Wade, or you can send me home now, and Wade and I will have a very long conversation. I think we could have everything out in the open and be prepared for your homecoming very shortly." He expelled his breath, loving her for what she wanted to do.

"I canít put this burden on you, Christina. It wouldnít be fair." he said.

"Itís not a burden, Quinn, and I donít think it would be fair for Wade to be surprised. She and I can talk this out and she will be ready." Christina replied.

Quinn shook his head. He didnít deserve this. He had screwed up so many lives with his irresponsible eagerness. Now everywhere he turned, things went right for him. "Iíll spend my life giving back, I promise." he vowed to himself.

Christina tiptoed into little Quinnís room and told Jane of the plan. Then Jane walked out with her, hugged and thanked her for all of her help. The vortex opened and Christina was on her way. Jane went to Quinn, opening her arms to embrace him.

"Thank you, Quinn......for everything, now and in the past. Take him home in the morning. Iím fading fast and I donít want him around for the end." she said, as she released him.

"I will. Thank you for taking such good care of him while I was gone. And thank you for keeping me alive for him." he answered. "I promise you, he will always know his mother."

Quinn kissed her lightly on the cheek as he silently prayed for Christina to accomplish her mission. Would he gain a son and lose a wife in the process?

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Christina tumbled out of the vortex onto her back lawn. It was late, but there was work to be done. First she had to speak to Colin. She found him in the kitchen, half of his body inside the refrigerator. She stood, leaning against the door jamb, waiting for him to surface. Colin came out holding a plate of cold cuts and a bottle of milk.

"Well, hello there, handsome." she said as he turned toward the table.

"Christina! Thank God, youíre all right. Whereís Quinn? Is he okay?" he said hurriedly, as he put aside his midnight snack and ran to her side. She opened her arms and embraced him tightly.

"Heís just fine, and will probably be home tomorrow." she answered. "I have some things to tell you, but it will have to be the short version for now. I need to go over to Wadeís and have a long talk with her."

"Whatís wrong?" Colin asked, as he released her from his arms.

"Nothingís wrong. I just need to explain Quinnís trip and its results before he gets here." she said.

Christina proceeded to tell Colin about Quinnís son and how this all came about. Then she told him about Janeís impending death and that Quinn would be bringing his son home to Wade and Max.

"I guess you do have to have a long talk with Wade." Colin said, as he walked Christina to the door, arm around her shoulder. "How is Quinn taking all of this?"

"Oh, everythingís wonderful with him, except his worry about Wadeís reaction. But weíll talk more later. Right now, I have quite a task to perform. It could take a while, so donít wait up." she said as she walked out onto the porch. Colin took her hands.

"Maybe I should come with you." he said softly.

"No, it would be best if I handle this alone. You just stay with Brandy and have a nice warm body waiting for me to snuggle next to when I return." she said, squeezing his hands slightly.

He released her hands, moved his up her arms and held her tightly when his hands reached her shoulders. "Iíll have more than that waiting for you. You can count on it." he whispered. Then he kissed her,...... long, slow, agonizingly soft.

"Hmmmmmm, youíre killing me, here. I wonít be able to think rationally." she said, with raspy words, as he slowly parted his lips from hers.

"Good. When you get back to me, I donít want you to think at all; just make love to me." he whispered. She smiled, almost feeling dizzy, touching his cheek with her hand. Then she headed down the steps and on to Wadeís.

Christina moved up the steps to Wadeís house slowly, still feeling the effects of Colinís kiss. "Damn that man. How does he do this to me...every time?!" she thought. She then tried to formulate an outline of her story about Quinn. Reaching the door, she hesitated, then knocked several times. She knew Wade was still awake, having seen the lamp on in her bedroom window as she walked over. The door opened.

"Christina. Whatís wrong?" Wade asked, with a little fear in her eyes.

"Wade, nothingís wrong, but we need to talk." she answered. Wade pushed the screen door open and Christina entered. They moved, in silence, to the sofa. Wade was a little nervous, knowing something was going on. It was too late for just a little idle chat.

Christina took a deep breath. "This is going to be quite a story, but hopefully, one with a very happy ending." she started. Wadeís eyes were wide with wonder. Then Christina proceeded to explain about Quinnís trip.

She started with his visit to his mother, then reminded her of the world they visited with little male population. Then came the reason Quinn was able to escape that world. Christina stopped talking to let what she had said to Wade sink in. Wade stood and walked toward the front window. Christina didnít move.

Wade turned, "Go on."

Christina stood up and moved to stand next to Wade, putting her hand on Wadeís shoulder. "He has another son,.....Quinn Michael Mallory, Jr." she said. Wade blinked, but said nothing. Christina continued, telling Wade how he agonized over the possibility when he knew he and Wade were expecting. "You know that he had to find out if there was a child." she said. Wade still said nothing.

Christina kept going, revealing the imminent death of Jane, and that Quinn would be coming home with his son. She didnít leave out the fact that Quinn was very, very concerned about how this would affect Wade. Her talk still elicited no response from Wade.

"Wade, you love him for the very reason he had to do this. He takes his responsibilities very seriously. He loves you so much and he loves both of his sons." Christina continued. Wade, for the first time since Christina had mentioned his son, looked her in the eye.

"Thatís quite a story, like you said." she responded, quietly. "I thank you for helping Quinn and coming to tell me everything. I really need to be alone now."

"Wade, I....." Christina started, but Wade had already gone to the door and opened it for Christina to leave.

"Iíll be fine, Christina. Thank you again." Wade said as she ushered her out the door.

Christina stood on the steps, watching Wade close the door behind her. She sighed. "I have to do this."

Their minds were linked because of the mind control Christina had used on her earlier to rid her of the memory of the Kromagg breeding camp. She had to know if everything was okay. Was Wade just taking time to absorb it all or was there going to be a problem? She closed her eyes and concentrated. When she opened them a couple of minutes later, she walked slowly down the steps toward her own home and Colin. She needed Colin now more than ever.

Wade just stood, leaning against the door after Christina left, one lone tear rolling down her cheek.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Christina was up early. She hadnít had much rest in the last two nights, but there was no sleeping now. Quinn would be home today and his future would be in the balance. What would Wade do? Maybe it was time to return to her house for another talk. Christina paced the floor.

"What I really want to do is latch onto her mind. Make her accept this new child and Quinnís past. But I canít. I canít control everyone in my life and make them do what I want. If I did I should just leave and return to my Starfire World. No. Wade and Quinn have to work this out on their own. I have to have faith that their love will get them through this. Iíve seen it. Iíve felt it. I know their love is strong." Colin entered the room.

"Christina, who are you talking to?" he asked.

"No one, Colin. Just myself. Iím trying to will this situation to turn out positively." she answered.

"We have to have faith that it will." he said.

"I know. Thatís just what I was telling myself." she said, hugging him fiercely, then looking up at him questioningly when she heard a knock at the door. "Who is here so early?" she asked.

"Maybe itís Wade, with good news." Colin suggested. They both went to the door, really expecting no one but Wade.

"SURPRISE!" was the chorus that greeted them.

"Remmy! Maggie! What on earth?!" Colin said as he let them into the room.

"Farm-boy! Bet you never expected to see us this morning." Remmy said as he slapped Colin on the back. "Oh, and this sweet lady. How are you, beautiful?" He turned and hugged Christina as Maggie and Colin exchanged hugs.

"Please, come in and sit down." Christina gestured them towards the sofa. Maggie and Colin headed that way, but Remmy took Christinaís hand.

"First I want to see a very beautiful baby." he said.

"Well, you just stay right here and Iíll bring her in." Christina smiled, and left to get Brandy. Colin, Maggie, and Remmy began to talk about all of their adventures since they were last together.

"Oh, my lord. Would you look at that!" Remmy beamed as he walked toward Christina.

"Her name is Brandy Amanda Mallory." she said.

"Well, she is just gorgeous, just like her mama." Remmy said as he took her in his arms. "Thank goodness she doesnít look like you, Farm-boy." Remmy teased as he and Maggie made a big fuss over her.

"Yeah, we were very lucky." Colin answered, displaying a crooked grin.

"Well, what about Quinn and Wade?" Maggie asked. "Was theirs a boy or a girl?" Colin and Christina looked at each other, then Colin spoke up.

"A boy,.....Michael Maximillian Mallory. They call him Max."

"Thatís great, very fitting." said Remmy, sounding a little melancholy. "Farm-boy and Q-ball are fathers. I canít believe it."

But Maggie saw the look they exchanged. She knew there was more to the story and couldnít stop herself from asking what was going on. She wanted any news about Quinn, good or bad.

Christina returned Brandy to her room as Colin sat Remmy and Maggie down to tell them the story. When she returned, they were hearing the question Colin had asked Christina about Wadeís reaction.

"Oh my lord. What those two have been through. And now this. Why canít things just go right for once?" Remmy lamented, just shaking his head. Maggie turned to Christina to question her about Wadeís state of mind. Christina just sighed.

"I really donít know. Last night she was confused and hurt, I know. I havenít spoken with her this morning, but Iím not optimistic. Maybe when Quinn gets home they can work through this." Maggie jumped up.

"Excuse me a minute. Iíve got something to do." and she headed for the door. They all looked confused.

"Maggie, girl, where are you going?" Remmy yelled. No answer. She was already gone.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Wade was pacing the floor when there was a strong knock at her door. "Who in the world? I donít need this now." she fumed. The knock came again.

"Wade, open the door!"

"Maggie?" Wade thought frowning, and went to the door. Before she could open it completely, Maggie came barging in and turned to stare at her.

"Maggie, look, Iím really not in the mood for a visit right now." Wade said, very irritated at her entrance, and not the least bit curious about her sudden appearance.

"Well, youíre going to get one, Wade Wells Mallory, and a lot more." Maggie said, pointing her finger in Wadeís face. Wade was in no frame of mind to take Maggieís shit.

"What is it with you? You come busting into my house after months of sliding? Whatís your problem?" she yelled, slamming the door.

"You listen to me, and you listen good." Maggie growled. "Iíve just been to Colin and Christinaís. They told me the whole story about Quinn and his other son."

"Itís none of your business!" Wade interrupted, rather loudly.

"Well, Iím making it my business." was Maggieís answer, turning the conversation into a shouting match. Wade turned to leave the room and Maggie grabbed her arm. "Youíre not going anywhere. Youíre going to listen to what I have to say."

"Let go of me, you bitch. Youíre way out of line here." Wade answered as she jerked free of Maggieís grasp.

"Iím trying to save your marriage!" she said through clinched teeth.

Wade stopped short. "What?!"

Maggie stepped back, putting her hands on her hips and took several deep breaths. She tried to calm herself and lowered her voice to speak. "Wade, I love Quinn. I have since the day I first saw him on my world. I have tried to get him to return those feelings, but one thing always stood in the way. His love for you. Nothing can penetrate that. He loves you more than life itself. But Iím telling you, if you let his other son get in the way of your welcoming him with open arms, then Iím going to do everything in my power to get myself into his life." She was getting worked up again. "I will work twenty-four hours a day to bring him around to me, and I will find a way to poison his mind against you. I will stop at nothing to take that man...and his son...away from you." She stopped to breath.

Wade just stood there staring, open-mouthed. Maggie then continued. "Wade, you have to decide. If you want him, Iím outta here. If you canít handle this other son, he will be mine." She headed to the door. "You have two hours after Quinn returns to decide. If I donít see a positive response from you, Iíll assume heís mine for the taking."

She blew out the door and slammed it hard enough to rattle the windows. Standing on the porch, still grasping the door knob, she took a deep breath, then expelled it. "There. If that doesnít get her butt in gear, nothing will. I love you, Quinn. I hope you appreciate what Iíve just done for you." Maggie left, tears in her eyes, knowing Quinn would be Wadeís forever. She had just seen to that.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

The vortex opened onto the grassy lawn of Quinn and Wadeís yard. Christina, Colin, Remmy and Maggie were standing on Colinís porch. Quinn tumbled out, and rolled onto the ground, his arms tightly surrounding his small son. They came to a stop, and little Quinn wiggled out of his fatherís tight hold on him.

"That was fun, Daddy! Letís do it again." he squealed, jumping up and down.

"We will, son, we will, but right now, we have some people to meet." said Quinn, taking his sonís hand. He lead him towards the house, not knowing what to expect.

Wade opened the front door and stared at the sight before her. She looked over to the porch next to hers and met Maggieís eyes head on. Then she went running down the steps, arms open, to grab Quinn around the neck. Colin, Christina and Remmy all grinned simultaneously, and left the porch, heading in Quinnís direction. Maggie stood alone, smiling sadly at the greeting Wade and Quinn had for each other.

"Goodbye, Quinn. Be happy." she whispered, then left the porch to join the group.

After a choking bear hug to Quinn, Wade bent down to eye level with her new son. "Well, hello there. Your little brother is waiting to see you." she said sweetly.

"I have a little brother?" he asked excitedly.

"You sure do." said Wade. "Why donít we go inside for some milk and cookies, and weíll meet him." He put his chubby hand in hers and skipped up the steps. Quinn closed his eyes to stop the flow of tears.

Everyone came to stand in line to greet Quinn. Christina stepped up to him first and hugged him fiercely. "Sheís gone, Christina. Died in her sleep last night." he whispered, with tears starting again.

"Iím sorry, Quinn. But she will live on in your son." Christina answered.

"Yes, she will. Iíll see to that." he replied and released her, wiping the tears away with the back of his hand. "Thank you." he started, but Christina stopped him with a shake of her head.

"You know thatís not necessary." she whispered, and stepped back.

Remmy slapped him on the back. "Remmy! When did you get back?" Quinn smiled and hugged him.

"Just ahead of you. Q-ball, I gotta hand it to you. I go away for months on great sliding adventures, but what do you do? You go and have, not one, but two sons! Way to go, man." he said, grinning from ear to ear.

While Quinn and Remmy were exchanging pleasantries, Christina moved up behind Maggie. "Somehow, I think we have you to thank for that little scene between Wade and little Quinn." she said. Maggie smiled slightly.

"It was nothing. Wade and I just know how to communicate with each other." she replied, eyes beginning to water. Christina said nothing, but gave her a small hug.

Colin grabbed his brother and hugged him unabashed. "Welcome home, brother. Looks like youíve got your hands full, now." he said as he released him.

"Brother, you donít know the half of it. That boy is nothing but energy, and in a couple of years, Max will be right in his footsteps." Quinn said, shaking his head. "But donít get smug. Your wifeís been talking about mind control again. I think youíre going to have your hands full too." He looked at Christina as he teased, but he had nothing but love and adoration in his eyes for the way she helped him and Wade. He would never realize Maggieís contribution.

Colin looked at Christina with a shy smile, put his arm around her waist and said, "Donít worry, bro. I can handle it." They all laughed and went arm in arm up the steps to see Quinnís growing family.

THE END

 


Alternate Earth 117
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