Disillusions

 

home / season five / episode twenty-one / act II

   

April 24th
Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Strains of music filtered out from the building, flooding the street with sound. Glancing up, the blonde man flashed his ID at the bouncer, slipping past the large man into the club.

It was, as expected, full of barely twenty-one year olds drinking and dancing to what he supposed they called music. The bar itself was packed with young people pushing to get their drink orders, thirsting more for the buzz the alcohol would induce than the liquid itself. Strobe lights flickered across the dance floor, which was full to capacity with sweaty, just this side of drunk bodies grinding against one another in a ritual pre-foreplay manifestation of attempted sexual gratification.

He didn’t want to be there.

His eyes scanned the room, looking for her. She’d be here; she was always here. Or the club across the street. Around the corner. Two blocks over. Somewhere, in the midst of post-adolescent chaos, she always found her home.

“Has my hero come to rescue me? Again?”

Turning to his left, he found her standing at his side, a large grin affixed to her face. A drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, her large brown eyes sparkled, seeming to dance in time to the music. He extracted the drink from her hand, downing the last of the liquid in the glass before she could protest. “Come on, we’re leaving. Now.”

The grin instantly slipped into a pout, as she pressed herself to his side, swaying to the beat. “That’s not fair. I was just starting to have some fun.”

His arm wrapped around her shoulder as he began to lead her toward the exit. “When have you ever known me to be fair?”

“Never, not when it involves letting me have a good time.” She dragged her feet as they moved, her heavily-lipsticked lips twisted deeper into a classic pout, causing him to think she looked like a small child who’d been caught playing with her mother’s makeup.

“That’s right Mimi, I hate it when you have fun.”

Outside and away from the club, he stopped, looking down at her. Her lips were bright red. Dark grays and blacks edged and surrounded her eyes. He pulled a tissue from his pocket and proceeded to do his best to remove her makeup. “How many times have I told you, you’re a thousand times more beautiful when you don't hide behind all this junk?”

She shut her eyes when he moved to brush away some of the eye shadow. “Every time you see me.”

“Then why don’t you believe me?” Her eyes opened again to look up at him and he smiled. “Do you think I’m lying to you?”

She met his gaze for a moment before squirming away from his touch. She still didn’t like close contact for long periods of time, but he continued to push her, hoping to break through. It wasn’t often that he actually cared about someone other than himself -- usually when he chose to involve himself with others it was only to help himself in the end. “Well?” he questioned after they’d stood in silence for a while.

“No,” she mumbled, the pout creeping into her voice.

He chuckled. “That brother of yours has got to be worried about where you are.” He unlocked the car they were standing next to, opening the passenger door for her. “I’m taking you home.” Unable to stifle the laugh as she flung herself into the seat and slammed the door, folding her arms across her chest in a sullen gesture, he moved to the drivers’ side, climbing into the car himself.

The drive was made in silence, as it always was. They’d fallen into this routine and while he couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was that made him continue to watch over her, as he glanced while paused at a stop sign, he couldn’t help but smile. She’d curled up on the seat, her feet tucked under her, eyes shut, fast asleep. All the wildness she exhibited while awake was gone; if he hadn’t witnessed it on a regular basis he could pretend it hadn’t been there at all.

“We’re home,” he told her fifteen minutes later as he stopped his car in front of the small house he saw on an almost nightly basis. He could see the shadow of someone inside walking the length of the living room. “Looks like big brother’s waiting up again.”

Her eyes opened and she glared at the house. “Shane needs to get a life.” Before he could respond, she opened the door, and jumped out of the car, slamming it shut behind her.

Watching until she was inside the front door, he shrugged at the lack of goodbye, pulling the car away from the curb.

He’d see her again tomorrow.

*****************

“Where have you been?”

“Don’t start with me.” Mimi glared at her brother as she shrugged off her jacket. The leather was new enough that the smell of smoke didn’t linger too heavily on it as she dropped it to the floor at her feet, kicking off her shoes as well. “I’m home. I always come home. He always brings me home. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were in on it, making sure he kept an eye on me.” Moving quickly, she ducked around the man in the doorway, heading straight for the couch, where she flopped down, curling her legs under her, grabbing for the remote.

Shane watched his younger sister as she flipped the channels, wincing when she settled on ‘Celebrity Undercover’ on MTV. “Janie!” he snapped, quickly moving to the TV and turning it off.

The glare he received was enough to freeze him on the spot. “That,” she spat at him, sitting up. “Is not my name.”

“No, it’s not. It’s the name of a little girl. When you act like a child, I will call you by the name you used as a child.”

She stood from the couch, turning to leave the room. “You’re not my father,” she reminded him, her voice a notch below ‘scream.’ “You’re just my uptight big brother.” She took a big breath, pausing at the doorway. “Just get, and stay out of my life.”

Sinking to the couch, Shane shut his eyes against the sound of her stomping footsteps up the stairs. He cringed, as the door to her room was slammed shut. He should be used to the outbursts by now, she’d been having them since she hit puberty. They’d been aimed at him since she was sixteen, when their mother had passed away.

They just never got any easier to deal with.

*****************

April 25th
CGB Bio-Tech
Norfolk, Virginia

Jarod pulled the thin white coat that screamed ‘scientist’ around his torso, trying to ward off the wind blowing around him. Hurrying to his car, he unlocked it and pulled out a notebook, tucking it under an arm. Locking the car, he moved back to the side of the building, happy for the buffer it provided.

A small squeak drifted across the breeze toward him from the small alley between the buildings, where the dumpsters were kept. Turning toward the noise, Jarod stopped short, finding that he was standing in front of two large men, one with his arm wrapped around the waist of the young woman in the photograph on Shane’s desk. Thinking for half a second, Jarod found her name buried in his memory. Mimi.

“Hey, let her go,” he said, stepping closer to them, watching as Mimi struggled against the grip the one man had on her.

“Git outta here, mind your own business,” one of them replied, stepping toward Jarod. Jarod took an advancing step toward them and the man stepped closer as well, reaching out and pushing at Jarod’s shoulder, hard.

Stumbling into the wall next to the building, the folder falling from his grip, papers falling every which way, Jarod shook himself, quickly regaining his footing. He turned slowly, facing the man who had shoved him. "I think I told you to let go of her," he growled softly, glancing at the second man, who still had a firm grip on Mimi.

"We like it much better this way," the man next to him replied, balling his hand into a fist. "And we ain't takin' orders from some geek in a lab coat."

Jarod's lips twisted into an angry grimace. The goon moved to swing at him, and Jarod pounced, taking advantage of the lack of balance involved in the swing and knocking him backwards onto the ground. The man's head struck the side of the dumpster next to them and he remained on the ground in a daze.

Moving quickly, Jarod took hold of the other man, and pried his grip from around Mimi's shoulder. Forcing him away from the young woman, Jarod stepped between them, keeping Mimi from the other man's reach. "Just take care of your friend, and leave us alone," Jarod ordered, stooping to gather his paperwork into a messy pile in his hand before moving from the alleyway, Mimi in tow.

"Thanks," she murmured to him, hanging onto his arm as if it were the only thing keeping her on her feet.

"You're welcome," Jarod replied, smiling down at her. "I think your brother's a bit worried about you, let's get on inside, shall we?"

Nodding, agreeing without question, she followed closely at his side as they moved around to the front of the building, and inside. Shane was waiting by the door, a worried look on his face. The worry increased as he took in the dirt smudge on Mimi's cheek, and the grip she had on Jarod's arm. Instantly moving to brush at the smudge, he cast his gaze from his sister to his new partner. "What happened?"

Squirming away from Shane, and closer to Jarod, Mimi grimaced. "Nothing, big brother. Some guys grabbed me, and my hero here," she squeezed Jarod's arm as she gazed at him like a love-struck teenager. "Rescued me."

Gently removing her hands, Jarod offered Shane a sheepish smile. "I was getting my notes from the car… I'd forgotten them this morning. And I just walked by at the right time."

Eyeing the space between them as it went from non-existent to about a foot, Shane nodded. "Thanks Jarod," he said as he swept his sister into a hug, one she seemed to go into passively for all of three seconds before squirming to get away. "We should go call the police about this."

"No we shouldn't." Mimi looked up at her brother and pouted. "It wasn't a big deal, okay? Just some jerks messing around. Stud-boy here saved me, and it's over. Let it be over, okay?"

“She’s right,” Jarod interjected quickly, moving another half-foot from Mimi. “The guys are probably gone by now, or would be by the time the police got here. They were just looking for someone to harass.”

Mimi took a step toward the door, trying to maneuver past Shane, who seemed to know he was defeated on the police subject, into the building. “Look, I ditched the bodyguard for the afternoon and I’m only here to get that…” she grimaced. “Stuff you insisted I try.” One of her hands shoved at her brother’s shoulder until he moved. “I’m the stupid one for being out there without my ‘protection’ anyway. After all,” she squared her shoulders. “Both you and him seem to agree on that subject.”

The men followed her as she turned her back to them, walking down the hallway toward their office. Jarod remained silent and off to the side as he watched Shane give a small bottle to his sister. They didn’t say much until she was almost out the door. “Will you at least be home for dinner tonight?” Shane questioned as she turned the doorknob.

“I’ll think about it.” The reply drifted back from the hallway just before the door shut.

Sitting back at his desk, Jarod watched Shane pace behind his own. The mans agitation was obvious; Shane removed his glasses, ran a hand through his hair and put the glasses back on, pausing for a moment to look over at Jarod.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Shane said quietly, stopping and sitting in his desk chair, staring down at the top of the desk.

“No you don’t,” Jarod replied softly.

Shane’s head bobbed slowly. “Sure. Everyone thinks the same thing about her.” His head rose, meeting Jarod’s gaze for a moment. “She’s high-strung, obviously out of control - it’s next to impossible to believe that she’s in her mid-twenties when she acts like a fourteen year old.” One of his shoulders shrugged, almost defeatedly. “I’m used to people thinking that. People always feel sorry for me, when they meet her.”

“Why is that?”

Visibly studying Jarod for a long moment, Shane leaned back, picking the picture frame off his desk as he moved. “When our mother was pregnant with Mimi, she got very sick. She almost died, almost had to abort the pregnancy early in her second trimester. The doctors said it was the medications they had to give her to stabilize both of them that caused some anomalies to occur in Mimi’s brain.

“Mom died when I was sixteen. I basically found myself with very few options. I could let the state take my baby sister -- she was eleven -- or I could figure something out and keep her with me. It wasn’t easy. Not even close to easy. But Mom had left us some money. We owned the house outright. I did what I could to make sure that, at least until I was eighteen and could fight as an adult to protect her, that no one found out what was going on. I coached her not to talk about how home was -- that Mom was gone.” He stopped for a moment and looked up from the picture he’d been studying with great intent. “Why am I telling you all of this?”

Jarod smiled. “It’s easier to explain to someone who’s still more or less a stranger?”

“Must be.” Shane smiled in return, returning to his story. “We had a rough time. One of the things that had been obvious since my sister was a baby was that she wasn’t going to respond to much in a normal, expected way. She had outbursts, things that left temper tantrums in the dust before she even started. Five minutes later, she’d be the happiest, sweetest child you’d ever meet. She’s still like that. She hit puberty early and never left.”

“Is that why you became involved in bio-tech?”

Shane nodded slowly. “In large part, yes. Even before we knew there was something wrong with my sister, I was interested in chemistry, in why things were made the way they were and how to change them. But it never would have become more than a hobby if it weren’t for wanting to help her.” He dragged a hand over his face, showing exhaustion. “The more work we do, the more it seems like I’ll never be able to do anything to help her. We’ve developed scores of therapies that are supposed to help conditions similar to hers. None of them do much of anything to her. Except when the side effects are really bad.” His eyes darkened, becoming haunted. “Those are the worst. When I try something for her, only to make her sick.”

His eyes cleared quickly as he looked back at Jarod. “Greg doesn’t exactly know about this… Please don’t say anything. Molly helps me sometimes in getting things for Mimi, but if Greg knew… I’d lose my job.”

“Don’t worry,” Jarod assured him. “Nothing you’ve said leaves this office. Keeping necessary secrets is something I’ve become quite good at over the years.”

An understanding silence wrapped itself around the room as the men both turned to their respective computers, work needing to be finished.

******************

April 25th
The Centre

The office was silent as Miss Parker entered, settling herself behind her desk. She was just reaching for a file when a clattering of computer disks falling to the floor shattered the silence. Broots stood in her doorway, looking down at them. “What do you want?”

“Uh, Miss Parker…” He dropped to his knees, grabbing for the small pieces of plastic. “I, uh, found some more information…” He looked up, disks clutched in his hand. “On -- you know.”

Miss Parker leaned forward at her desk, looking down at him. “What?”

“Um, well, I managed to slip past some of the lesser encryptions and found…” Broots shuffled the disks, locating one with a piece of tape across the top. “Here, look at this.”

He stood, placing the disk in her outstretched hand. Inserting it into her computer, she moved out of the way to allow him to pull up the files. “These were in a file on Nova. Just these snippets.”

*Early tests failed completely. Subject exhibited erroneous reactions -- this cycle should be rejected and destroyed. Start over.

*Violent tendencies exacerbated.

*Subject had calculated reaction -- deceased.

Miss Parker’s eyes widened at the last line. “Death was calculated… What the hell is going on here?”

“I don’t know.” Broots shrugged a shoulder, looking at her. “But this is dangerous. There was a set of death certificates with this file -- but the system locked me out before I could transfer them.”

“How many?”

“Four that I saw. No names, no dates. Just filed under Nova.” He looked away from her, back at the monitor.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

He visibly cringed. “All of them were signed off on by Raines.”

***************

April 25th
Starbucks
Downtown Norfolk

He sat at a table outside. A grande tripe mocha sat in front of him, half-finished. A cigarette burned in an ashtray in the center of the table, forgotten.

He appeared to be people watching. In fact, he wasn’t seeing anyone who passed in front of him. His mind was on Mimi.

Still unable to put finger on what it was that drew him to her, he turned the relationship over in his mind. They’d met by chance. He’d been trying to get his hands on some information that would prove to be vital to the situation he was now in. Email from his friend, pointing him toward the genetics lab at CGB Bio-tech. In, out, gone -- just like always. Except this time, he’d been met with big, beautiful, tear-filled eyes and a soft, sweet face staring up at him from the steps.

“I can’t find her.”

“Can’t find who love?” His response was instant and unthinking. He barely even startled when she reached up, taking his hand and holding on tight.

“Mommy. She’s gone and I don’t know where.” Tears slipped down her face as her lower lip trembled.

The woman had to be at least in her twenties. Her voice, her mannerisms, tried to be much younger. “When did you last see her?” he questioned in a gentle tone, sitting next to her.

“A long time ago.” She sniffled and laid her head against his shoulder. “I’m scared.”

“It’ll be all right, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Her eyes glistened as she looked up at him. “Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Daydreaming much?” Mimi’s voice startled him out of the memory. She grabbed the chair next to his, turned it so the back faced the table and sat, straddling it. Grabbing for his coffee, she took a drink.

“Mimi, what a pleasant surprise.”

She grinned and took another drink. “You can’t lie. So, what are you doing just sitting here staring off into space on this bright, sunny afternoon?”

He looked her over carefully. She looked mellow, almost content. Her clothes were sedate in comparison to the last time he’d seen her. Black jeans and a casual white button-down shirt, only buttoned on the middle three buttons. Her hair was loosely pulled back from her face in a ponytail and she was virtually free of makeup. “Not too much,” he answered, smiling at her. He liked to see her like this and it was rare that he got to.

“Well…” She finished off the last of his coffee, took a drag from the cigarette and crushed it out. “Then we should do something.” Standing, she grabbed his hand. “Come on, you know you want to spend some money on me.”

Following her up and away from the table, he allowed her to hang onto his hand. Honestly, he enjoyed the contact. It was rare she permitted people to touch her, so he took full advantage. “What makes you think I have any money, or that I’d spend it on you?” he teased, falling into step with her as she led the way down the street.

“Because I want you to and you live to make me happy.” They stopped at a corner, waiting for the light t change.” You’re far better to me than you should be,” she whispered to him in all seriousness.

Laying a hand on her cheek, his head shook. “No, that’s impossible.” Leaning, he kissed her forehead. “I couldn’t ever actually be good enough to you that it would be more than you’d deserve.”

“I…” The smile on her face faded as she looked up at him. “I don’t… Something’s wrong.”

“What?”

“I don’t know.” Her hand clutched his jacket for stability as her legs seemed to give out. “Shane gave me a new protocol to try. My head feels better,” her voice cracked slightly. “But my body feels like it’s falling apart.”

He caught her as she slipped unconscious.

On to Act III

 
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