Ryman Legacy Chapter 12D

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Slide 1: 

The Ryman Legacy Chapter 12D By Mzyra Since You’ve Been Gone

Slide 2: 

The morning after Jose ran away… “I guess this means Jose didn’t come back last night then?” Lyle asked his dad quietly. “No, I guess not.” “What are we going to do?” “Look for him and hold it together for your mother. It’s all we can do for the minute.”

Slide 3: 

“Mia?” he asked softly, rubbing her arm. “Hm?” she blinked awake slowly. “Oh, did Jose-?” Juan shook his head. “It’s morning, so we’ve got to go, I just wanted to let you know.” “Yeah, but don’t worry mum, I’m sure Jose will be at school and then I can get him to come back home.” “Do you really think he’ll go to school?” she asked Juan hopefully. “Erm, hopefully, but even if he doesn’t, I’ll keep an eye out for him while I’m on the beat, hopefully we’ll come across him somewhere.” “Okay,” she said quietly with a small smile. “Have a good day.”

Slide 4: 

Juan wasn’t the only one trying to hold things together; Mia was trying to hold herself together for him. It was especially hard watching her two remaining children leaving for school – what if one of them didn’t come home that night? She was sure it was irrational, but she couldn’t stop the worrying just by trying to be rational.

Slide 5: 

So instead she tried doing something productive by using the computer to try and figure out where Jose might have gone or what he would be doing. She found a page of his on a social networking site, but apparently he hadn’t been on it in a very long time and all of his friends on there were relatives. Nothing new in the search history either. No new leads except the knowledge he didn’t spend much time on the computer apparently.

Slide 6: 

She was still searching fruitlessly when Lyle and Liv arrived home from school. “Any luck?” she asked tentatively. “None. He wasn’t there at all. But it’s not really surprising; he didn’t like going anyway, maybe Dad will have had more luck downtown.” “Maybe.”

Slide 7: 

“Was he at school?” “No. I take it you didn’t find him either, then?” “No sign,” Juan sighed. “Right…” “It’s only been one day Mia, he’ll be fine, I’m sure.” “Yeah…”

Slide 8: 

“Don’t get all stressed about it Mum,” Liv said cheerfully as her mother joined her watching TV. “He’s probably sofa-surfing with that friend he said about. I’ve heard about other people doing it all the time.” “Do you know who the friend is?” Mia suddenly thought to ask. “No. He said she was a vampire, right? I’ve never even met one myself, but how many can there be in Simfield? I’m sure Juan will be able to ask around.” ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 9: 

Jose wasn’t at school the next day either. “Did you- er, that’s a new uniform isn’t it?” Mia asked as Juan arrived home. “To your first question: …no, still nothing. If anybody knows anything they’re not telling me. To the second: bad timing, but yes – I got promoted!” “Oh, that’s good!” Mia forced a smile

Slide 10: 

“It is good,” Juan confirmed, “since with this comes the ability to fly and a lot more power to make investigations. It’ll be a lot easier to look this way and you can relax a bit more,” he suggested, moving around to give her a backrub. “Who would have thought it would be this hard to find a teenage boy?” Mia sighed. “He’s not the only person we’re looking for and I’m increasingly learning that it can be extremely difficult to find anyone who really doesn’t want to be found.” “Not impossible though?” “No. Not impossible.” ~~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 11: 

Mia and Juan were awake again early the next morning; both hoping that with Juan’s new position they might have better luck finding Jose that day. “I don’t want to get my hopes up too much though. I mean, I’m sure flying will help to look around downtown, but you can’t see through walls or roofs can you?” “… That is true, but there’s still a chance and if Jose isn’t aware that he could be spotted from the sky…” “Yeah… But- But what if- What if-”

Slide 12: 

“No, no, no – don’t start thinking that way. He left because he wanted to, he’s probably perfectly capable of coming back when he wants to too.” “Which means he’s still angry and doesn’t want to…” Juan realised there was no good answer to that question and looked for a distraction. “He’ll come around eventually. Hey, let’s watch the news before I go to work; there could be some kind of good news on there…”

Slide 13: 

“The main story today is still the sudden retirement of Simfield’s previous Mayor Sara Jayapalan and the inauguration of new Mayor Rodney Jalowitz. Mayor Jayapalan held the position for decades, but claimed that the time had finally come for her to retire and suggested Jalowitz as her position. The rest of the council agreed and the new Mayor gave a rousing speech outlining his plans-”

Slide 14: 

“That’s impossible!” Juan whispered. “I had no idea!” Mia agreed. “Do you think he told Liv?” “No. I don’t.” Juan pinched his leg, hoping to wake up. Not a dream then. Something very wrong is going on here. “Er, actually I think I’d better go into work early with all this happening. You’ll be okay, right?” “Oh, yes, you’ve got to do your job. I’ll see you later. Good luck!”

Slide 15: 

Forget work, he thought as he engaged the flying mechanism on his suit for the first time. Rodney Jalowitz, I have no idea how you’ve done this, but I’m going to put a stop to it right now.

Slide 16: 

Juan had only been to the Mayor’s building a couple of times before as a lower-level police officer and whilst being briefed on Seth and Rodney’s jailbreak, being one of the few who knew the full story. Regardless of what right he had to be there, he would march right in there today.

Slide 17: 

There had even been a change in personnel apparently, as Juan didn’t recognise the secretary behind the desk. “I need to see the new Mayor. As soon as possible.” “That’s fine. His office is through the dark door in the upstairs corridor.” Juan was surprised by how easy that was. “Er, shouldn’t you need ID, or…?” “Probably normally, but you’re with the police and he’s probably expecting you anyway Mr Ryman.” “Er, okay…” It wasn’t until he left the room that he realised she’d known his name without him telling her. That was odd.

Slide 18: 

Still puzzling this, Juan followed the woman’s instructions and headed up the stairs, where he stopped dead in shock. That could not be who he thought it was. But then he remembered – Rodney had broken out of jail with him, so wherever Rodney was, he was likely to be too. But that was insane! It was the middle of the day! In the middle of town! You couldn’t possibly allow someone like that to just wander around! Hopefully he could just head through that door without catching his eye, because that was a conversation he did not want to have.

Slide 19: 

But before Juan could do anything, Seth spotted him and came over. “Hey, I know you! You’re- oh, I’ve forgotten your name after so long-” “Juan Ryman,” he said slowly. Had this guy forgotten what he did? “Oh, so you did get to marry her in the end! Guess she forgave you for ditching her the first time.” “I didn’t choose to ditch her, if you’ll remember.” “Well yeah, but she didn’t know that! Figured she wouldn’t trust any guy after all that stuff, especially somebody who abandoned her before.”

Slide 20: 

“I didn’t-” “Yeah, yeah, I know, but still! Not only somebody who left you before, but who’s now still half dead! I heard it was my daughters who brought you and the other guy back, right?” “Yes…” Oh my god, I think he remembers and he genuinely doesn’t care! “Ah, see I never knew they’d get amazing powers or anything like that! I’d be so proud, but then they’ve gone and disowned me and obviously the ex-wife won’t let me visit either – you know, whatever happened to forgiveness?”

Slide 21: 

“The same thing that happened to guilt and repentance?” Juan suggested. He’d gone light headed – this was so surreal it had to be some kind of dream; he was having a friendly conversation with his murderer; he half expected to see his father emerge from one of the side rooms riding a unicorn with a penguin. “Meh, saying sorry is over-rated; half the people who say it don’t mean it anyway, so why bother? ‘Course some people believe in karma and all that, but… Well, either it doesn’t exist or whatever I’ve done isn’t as bad as everyone thinks because my life’s going pretty well at the minute!” “Yeah, can I just check: you do remember killing me, don’t you?”

Slide 22: 

“Well yeah- I mean, for legal purposes no; you grabbed that cowplant cake of your own free will and I was definitely somewhere else anyway, but, between us, yes. Why wouldn’t I?” “Right. Just checking.” “It was nothing personal, you know, it just had to be done. And now you’re alive again …ish, so who cares, right?” Oh. My. God. I’ve never met anyone who needs to be behind bars as much as you do. “Anyway, I guess you’re here to see Rodney. He’s through there, working and being boring,” Seth gestured over his right shoulder.

Slide 23: 

“Ah, Harris! I didn’t think it would be very long until you stopped by.” Rodney greeted Juan smugly as he entered the office. “What. The. Hell?!” “Sorry?” he asked innocently.”I don’t know what you mean.”

Slide 24: 

“I just met the man who killed me in that corridor.” “Oh, Seth is still hanging around? He wasn’t chatting up one of the girls again was he? I told him he doesn’t stand a chance, but he seems determined to prove me wrong.” “He relaxed on a recliner whilst waiting for me to starve to the point that I had to risk grabbing cowplant cake or die anyway. And he gloated the whole time.” “You know, once upon a time that story might have surprised me, but having met him…” “Which just goes to show he hasn’t changed. You have an unrepentant multiple murderer wandering your premises and it doesn’t bother you in the slightest.”

Slide 25: 

“Calm down Harris, Seth’s not a threat to anyone anymore.” “Oh, you’re really that certain? And I suppose you’ll tell me he had nothing to do with that building that burnt down either.” “I wouldn’t know,” he said carefully, “but I would point out that since that happened in the past too, it wouldn’t be covered by the aforesaid ‘anymore’.” “So he was behind that. And you at least helped him escape to do it, whether or not you were involved in that yourself. I can’t say I’m surprised. But I would like to know how the hell you could ever become Mayor.” “Ah, that. Well…”

Slide 26: 

“Oh good, this is the right room.” Sara looked up from the e-mail she was writing, “Who are you and what are you doing in my office?” “Your staff told me where to go; I told them it was important. It is important actually, but I really think you should get new people; they shouldn’t just believe everything they’re told.” Suddenly Sara’s frown faded with a look of recognition, before it was replaced with another: “Hang on, aren’t you one of the escaped prisoners?” “Ah, straight to the point. Good idea.”

Slide 27: 

Rodney pulled one of the chairs out and sat down casually. “You know, I’m not really certain anymore. I thought I was, but then I walked here in broad daylight and wasn’t greeted by any screams or shouts of ‘Get him!’ so perhaps I’m not. Not that I think I should have been arrested in the first place; just lost in an art gallery at night, didn’t take anything, that’s hardly a crime.” “That’s a yes then. Why would you just walk in here like this when you’re bound to be arrested again?” “Because I don’t really want to be arrested again and I think you could help me out there.” “Why on earth would I ever help you?”

Slide 28: 

“Well you see, I’ve been talking to your brother – the mass-murdering one, you know who I mean – and I think I know a number of things you don’t want the public to know. Take, for instance, the fact that hardly anybody actually knows who the escaped prisoners are; that’s because you don’t want people knowing that one of them is your brother because hardly anyone knows who he is and what he’s done. I, of course, know exactly where he is right now, unlike anybody else.” “You’re trying to blackmail me with my brother?” Sara growled. “If that’s what you wish to call it.” “What happened with Seth may well be a secret, but you overestimate how much it matters whether it comes out or not. I could handle it.”

Slide 29: 

“Perhaps,” Rodney smiled, “the public might forgive you for keeping important secrets from them for the sake of your reputation. Or they might not. But then there’s the matter of his trial: not public, not fair, and, I’m pretty sure, completely illegal. I personally have reason to believe he could have at least been given a different sentence on the premise of insanity- you know, had he been given any right to a defence. Which basically means that we wouldn’t be going back to jail alone, if you catch my drift.” Sara glared at the man before her before sighing and conceding. “So what do you want? Charges dropped?”

Slide 30: 

Rodney leaned back and put up his feet on Sara’s desk cockily, “Well, like I say, I don’t think I should have been in jail in the first place – the officer in charge just had it in for me since I’m his wife’s ex – so I hardly think that’s sufficient. Now what else do I want…?” he mused aloud. “Cut the crap – there was still a chance that you could have been caught on the way here, you must know perfectly well what you want or you wouldn’t have risked it.” “Touché. Okay, I’d like to be Mayor. You can take retirement – you have held the position for about thirty years now – and suggest me as a replacement.” Sara burst out laughing. “You have got to be kidding me!

Slide 31: 

“Look, I may not want to go to jail, but I know all the higher-ups in the police; it wouldn’t be a long sentence and they’d make it easier than you will have had it. There is no way in hell I’m going to hand over a position of this much responsibility to someone like you.” “If you go to jail somebody will replace you and in a ‘democracy’ like this, who knows who that’ll be? I’ve heard you’re married to a zombie; what if they’re of the anti-zombie agenda? I promise to lay off the zombies if you suggest me.” “Why should I trust a man who’s broken out of jail with a mass-murderer and is trying to blackmail me?” “Lack of choice?” Rodney suggested. “And, of course, speaking of the mass-murderer…”

Slide 32: 

“I’ll have Seth handed over to the chief of police the day after I’m inaugurated. They can do what they will with him.” “I take it Seth doesn’t know that you’re here then?” “He doesn’t know what I’m saying, no. His name will never have to be in the press and you can go and live a nice, quiet retirement with your husband and the rest of your extended family, free from anti-zombie sentiment and fear that anyone will find out. Or you can have me arrested and try to face down allegations of cover ups, illegal activity and with your murderer of a brother still on the loose. I know which I’d prefer.”

Slide 33: 

“I don’t like being manipulated,” Sara growled. “Really? Normally people love it,” he replied sarcastically. “What’s your name again?” “Rodney Jalowitz,” he said smugly. “… You win. But you should watch your back. What comes around goes around.” “Don’t worry, my back is entirely covered, believe you me.”

Slide 34: 

“…Let’s just say Sara and I had an in-depth discussion of the facts and she decided that it’d be best all around if she retired and that I’d be the best-suited replacement for the post.” “You blackmailed her, didn’t you?” “My, that is a popular word,” he said pleasantly, “I believe she brought it up too.” “Only because I expect that’s exactly what it was. And it’s very much illegal.” “You won’t find any evidence of it.” “Well before you came to office Sara promoted me to the top of the police: it won’t be long before I do find something concrete on you and we bring you down. And Seth too.”

Slide 35: 

Rodney laughed, “Actually that wasn’t Sara, that was me. One of the first things I did, in fact. Though ever having to see you in that outfit does make me reconsider slightly.” Juan’s ignored that as his stomach sank. “Why would you promote me to the top of the police?” “Because I think you’re the prime candidate for the position,” Rodney smirked, not even trying to keep a straight face. “Why?” Juan insisted, anger increasing still further. “Well… Do you know who the Chief of Police’s boss is?” Juan stared at him in horror “… Oh god, it’s you, isn’t it?”

Slide 36: 

“Wow, we are quick, aren’t we? I wonder if we could somehow transfer your intelligence to Seth…” Juan just glared. “Anyway, yes, I am now your boss. Congratulations.” “So what, you’re going to fire me?” “Oh my, no. I could have fired you regardless of your position anyway. Or demoted you.” “So what’s your game? Give me one good reason I shouldn’t quit right now.” “By all means, feel free. You know, if your family doesn’t need money to live.” “I could get a different job.” “Not with me writing your reference you couldn’t,” Rodney responded brightly.

Slide 37: 

“… So you’re forcing me to stay in this job. Why? You hate me. I certainly hate you.” “Partly for those reasons. I haven’t forgiven you for arresting me and I can make you miserable. And I will. Plus, I don’t have to worry about my chief of police figuring out my motives or personality because you already know them perfectly well.” “And I suppose you’ll fire me if I try to interfere or fight back?”

Slide 38: 

“Well, that is one option I have, but I’ve been careful this time and I know that the threat of losing your job will only stretch so far. What would be to stop you talking your wife or kids into getting jobs to cover the loss? Or just taking the financial hit so you can fight me instead? Relying on that would be risky at best.” “So what, you’ve got something else to blackmail me with?” “As a matter of fact, I believe I do,” he said, turning to his computer and pressing a few buttons. “Take a seat and see for yourself.”

Slide 39: 

Juan pulled one of the seats forward and the turned the computer around. “What’s this going to be? Doctored pictures? False allegations?” “No, I wouldn’t expect that to put off how much you hate me. And it’s not specifically aimed at you. No, this is a potential piece of legislation I discovered through some research while I was a fugitive. I think you’ll find it… interesting.” “… I somehow get the feeling I might be about to hate you even more than I do right now.”

Slide 40: 

Juan turned back to the computer and scrolled through the document. “…Oh my god… What the…? …This is ridiculous!”

Slide 41: 

“That’s what you’re threatening me with? It’s ridiculous! It doesn’t even make any sense and has no foundation-!” “Are you sure? There’s a link to the research and I think you’d be surprised how accurate it seems to be…”

Slide 42: 

Juan rolled his eyes and clicked to the link just to prove Rodney wrong. But as he scrolled through all the data and case studies, the holes in the narrative… they weren’t there. “This is wrong. There has to be something wrong with all this data. That can’t possibly be right! It’s not right!” “I checked myself and… well, it’s not wrong. Whether it’s right…”

Slide 43: 

“Are you telling me you seriously believe all this? You must have some first-hand experience that tells you it’s not true!” “How do you know that your experience isn’t an exception that proves the rule?” “Even if it were – which it’s not – the proposed legislation is ridiculous! And if you’re not certain about the idea behind it, how could you ever pass it?” “Well, I see myself as more of a pragmatic politician, so frankly what I believe doesn’t need to have any effect on what I pass or do.”

Slide 44: 

“You son of a bitch! People won’t let you pass it, even if you wanted to! Everyone will know that- That that’s wrong! They’d stop you!” “Oh really? And I suppose if I had asked you before whether people would let me become Mayor when I’d blackmailed the previous one into quitting and suggesting me, you would have said exactly the same thing, wouldn’t you? People are clueless about politics around here. Somebody in charge tells them that they should agree with something and most of them will automatically.” “But-! But they don’t know about the blackmail, but they’ll know people who would be affected by that and they’ll go against it!”

Slide 45: 

“Will they? Think about it. Pretty much the only people that law applies to are certain members of the extended Ryman family, hardly anyone else.” “That’s a lot of people nowadays.” “They may be the biggest single group in Simfield, but they’re far from a majority and you can’t even count on all of their support – just look at Seth; killed members of his own family. The townies and the rest of them won’t know, most of them won’t care and those that do could easily be swayed by the data. It could pass easily.” Juan stared at him. “I think I might have to kill you.”

Slide 46: 

Rodney laughed. “Again, calm down Harris. If you’ll recall, this isn’t a threat, it’s a counter-threat. If you seriously try and mess with me and my power I’ll pass that law before I lose the ability to do so. If you don’t mess with me and do what you’re told, it’ll never have to see the light of day.” “…I was right. I hate you more than I ever thought possible. I think I’ll have to leave before I try to kill you anyway.” “Oh, wait, before you go, there’s one more thing-”

Slide 47: 

“SETH! GET IN HERE!” Rodney shouted. “Don’t you have an intercom system for doing that?” Seth asked as he entered. “Yes, but I knew you’d still be trying to chat up Emmy out there and that was just as easy.” “Can we get on with this?” Juan asked sullenly. “Yeah, what’s going on?” “I’m fulfilling a promise to your sister, Seth.” Rodney explained.

Slide 48: 

“I wouldn’t have thought you’d care about promises,” Juan glowered. “I do, when I feel like it. Right: it is the day after my inauguration. Juan: you are the chief of police. Seth: you are Seth. As such, I am handing Seth over to you Juan.” “You mean in the kind of way as handing a criminal in to the police?” Juan asked suspiciously. “In exactly that way, yes.” “Er…” Seth started uncertainly.

Slide 49: 

“What’s the catch? And I don’t want to hear your protestations of innocence, what is the actual catch? You are Rodney Jalowitz: everything about you has a catch.” “Ah, you’re not half as much fun when you’re cynical. Fine, you remember I said that making you chief of police was one of the first things I did? Pardoning Seth came before that.” “So we can have him, but we have nothing to charge him with, so we’d have to let him go, is that right?” “Absolutely.”

Slide 50: 

“Fine. Well, I see I don’t have much choice,” Juan relented. “I would, however, like to add before I leave that I hope the both of you burn in your own personal section of hell for all eternity.” “See you for work tomorrow!” Rodney called after him gleefully.

Slide 51: 

“Somehow I get the feeling Harris may not like us, Rodney.” “You may be right,” Rodney said with a dark smile. “Are you sure he’s not going to catch you out somehow like last time?” “… Positive. He might try and he’ll never accept it, but he won’t succeed.” “So… I’m really free? They can’t arrest me again?”

Slide 52: 

“They can’t properly and legally arrest you, no. But firstly, you can’t kill anyone else. If you even think that you might want to, tell me first.” “Fiiine…” “Also, you still have a lot of enemies and just because they can’t legally touch you, it doesn’t mean some of them might not bend the rules for a bit of revenge, so you may still want to lay low and be sensible about it-” Seth gave a huge fake yawn. “Oh, yeah, sure,” he said sarcastically. “I don’t care, I’m going out regardless. And I’ll be able to claim self-defence if anything happens.”

Slide 53: 

“Where are you even going?” Rodney called after him. “I’ve just spent the past decade alone in jail, where do you think I’m going? And the answer is not a f***ing art gallery!” Rodney floundered for another suggestion. “I’m going to get laid, Jalowitz! You should try it sometime…” he muttered as he slammed the door. It’s like a chain of frustration, Rodney mused. Receive all the frustration from Seth, take it all out on Harris. Better than being in jail anyway… ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 54: 

Later that afternoon… “Oh my god, this is amazing Daddy! You should have told me you were going to become Mayor!” “Well, I would have done, but-” Rodney thought fast, “I was worried about the possible media attention it might bring. I didn’t want people invading your privacy or anything like that. Or to disappoint you if it didn’t work out.” “Oh, well that’s okay. It doesn’t matter to me what job you have, you’re still my Dad. It sucked that you were too busy to come to my birthday though…”

Slide 55: 

Rodney got up and surveyed his daughter, who had grown at least a foot since he last saw her. “Well you’ve certainly grown up a lot since last time.” “I know – it’s great! I love high school; it finishes at 1pm! I get loads more time with my friends now.” “You’re not going to get a part-time job then?” “Well no, I wasn’t going to- But why, do you think I should?” she asked urgently.

Slide 56: 

“No, not if you don’t want to. It does give you more money, but then I can certainly cover that, can’t I?” Rodney said calmly as Liv smiled brightly. And people say that raising children is hard. “…What’s wrong Dad?” Liv asked as she noticed her father frowning slightly at her dress. “Oh, nothing. It’s just… Well, you’re the only daughter of the Mayor now, and how much did that dress cost? And that haircut?” Liv blushed a little; she hadn’t really thought about it. “You shouldn’t have to be buying the same old stuff that everyone else has, you should get better.”

Slide 57: 

“I’ll tell you what,” he continued, “You take my credit card, go shopping and buy whatever you want, however expensive it might be.” Liv’s eyes lit up. “Really? Wow! Thanks Daddy!” “No problem sweetheart.” Liv left excitedly, pondering about what she could get that her father would want her to want and that she would actually want too.

Slide 58: 

A few hours later… “So what do you think, Daddy? The dress is hand-embroidered with little jewels on the branches and is real silk too. And it took ages to do my hair like this! I just hope it wasn’t too expensive…”

Slide 59: 

“Haven’t I told you, Liv? There is no ‘too expensive’ where you’re concerned. And you look wonderful – exactly how you should.” Liv breathed a sigh of relief and glowed with happiness. But then she remembered and felt a bit disappointed, “Oh, I’ve got to get back home Dad – it’s one of our cousins’ birthday tonight. But it’ll be great to show everyone my new look! Thank you!” “No problem,” he smiled.

Slide 60: 

“Bye Dad,” she said, hugging him goodbye. “Yeah. Oh, and I’ll make sure to organise to have your car sprayed pink as soon as possible.” “Really? Thank you! You’re the best Dad ever!” Rodney just laughed. ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 61: 

Later that night, at the Verse house, there was a birthday party. More specifically, that of Wally Verse becoming an adult. It was a day of great celebration; all the teachers at Simfield Secondary went out for their own celebratory gathering at surviving such a trial.

Slide 62: 

Wally wasn’t sure whether to be happy about it himself. It was a lot easier to be a rebel as a teenager on somebody else’s dime and fight teachers and the school establishment. But he reasoned that it was about time that he challenged larger establishments too, so he was willing to make the sacrifice. For everyone else it was just a good excuse for a huge family party.

Slide 63: 

Not everyone was in such a good party mood though. “You okay in here Rox? Do you want to go home already?” “Oh no, I’m fine. It’s just a bit cold out there, you know.” “Really? You don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself very much…” “No, no, I’m fine, go have fun,” she said, forcing a smile.

Slide 64: 

“No way, there’s something wrong, I can tell. Tell me what’s up.” Roxanne hesitated. “I’m not sure-” “I’m not going to stop worrying until you tell me and if it’s something I’m going to find out eventually anyway…” She sighed. “Okay, well, it’s just… The other day it was my brother’s graduation from university, where he was living with some other students from Simfield, including a couple of your cousins. And, well-”

Slide 65: 

“Hey Roxanne, looking good. You know they have double beds here, right?” “Hey, what are you doing? Knock it off, you know I’m with Lyle!”

Slide 66: 

“’With’? You’re not in a proper relationship because he’s stuck in high school like some little kid, while look at you! Why are you limiting yourself to one person you can’t even have right now just because some dweeb asked you out in high school? You could be with a real man!” “Don’t talk about Lyle like that! You’re his cousin and you’re meant to be his friend! And he’s older than you anyway! And I don’t think a ‘real man’ would betray one of his friends like this! It’s not about your age, it’s about your personality, and that’s why I’m with Lyle and, apparently, why I would never be with you!”

Slide 67: 

“Fine, waste the best years of your life waiting for somebody it probably won’t work out with anyway. I just thought you could do better, but you need a brain to do that.” “Ugh, you’re an idiot,” she said angrily and walked away in disgust.

Slide 68: 

“No way.” Lyle said, shocked. “Seriously?” “I wasn’t going to tell you since nothing actually happened and I didn’t want to cause any drama, but-”

Slide 69: 

“Lyle, where are you going?!” “Outside. Don’t worry, you can stay here, I’ll be back in a bit.” “Lyle-!”

Slide 70: 

“Hey, Ivan!” “Hm?” Ivan asked as he turned around. “Lyle, don’t-!” Roxanne tried to say, following him, but it was too late and everyone stared in disbelief as Lyle forcefully punched his cousin in the chest.

Slide 71: 

Ivan was thrown off balance by the blow and tripped backwards, landing flat on his back. “What the hell, Lyle?!” he shouted up at his cousin. “What do you think?” he spat down at him. Lyle saw the look of understanding appear in Ivan’s eyes as he glanced beyond Lyle at Roxanne. “Oh. I see.” Ivan got back up and dusted himself off.

Slide 72: 

“You try to use the few days between when you left for uni and I become an adult to try and steal my girlfriend?!” Roxanne cringed and looked away as all the onlookers turned to look at her. “The girlfriend I introduced you to and you know damn well how much I care about?! The one I only introduced you to because I thought you were my friend?! Any of this sound familiar, Ivan?!”

Slide 73: 

If Lyle had had time to think about how he expected Ivan to react, he probably would have thought he’d deny it, though Lyle would never believe him over Roxanne. He did not expect: “I don’t see your name on her, Lyle.” “You-” “All I see is some kid who got a decent girlfriend because he was older and got there first. Well guess what? The tables were turned and I took my chance when I had it. But congratulations: turns out she has such low expectations that she’s willing to settle for you anyway. Enjoy your ‘marriage’.”

Slide 74: 

“Okay guys, break it up,” Wally said, sensing the coming escalation and glancing at Joey. “Yeah, it’s a family thing, we don’t need a fight,” Joey agreed, moving to his twin’s side. “Family?! Don’t need a fight?! You should tell that to him!” Lyle shouted. Wally put a strong arm across Lyle’s chest, stopping him moving forward again. “Dude, don’t start something: you don’t even know how to fight,” he muttered into his ear. “It doesn’t mean I can’t try!” “I’d like to see that, high school boy!” Ivan jeered back. “Enough!” An authoritative voice shouted.

Slide 75: 

“I don’t care who’s done what to who right now: I won’t have two of my nephews fighting each other in my backyard over anything. You can talk about it when you’ve both calmed down and if you can’t be civil to each other right now you’ll have to leave. I’m not sending you boys back to your parents black and blue.”

Slide 76: 

“Don’t worry about it Uncle Calvin; some of us don’t still live with our ‘Mummy and Daddy’ anyway.” “Ivan, stop it!” Joey pleaded. “What’s your problem?!” “I don’t have a problem, but maybe the little kid over there does,” he growled back.

Slide 77: 

Lyle struggled to fight past Wally’s arm, which was trying to turn him around and pull him away, but couldn’t move forward, so fell back on words rather than actions. “I get that you’re probably just jealous that you’ve never managed to get any kind of girlfriend, Ivan – have you even had your first kiss yet? – but this is way too far. You are so disowned. You’re not coming to my birthday, or my wedding – because some of us are actually going to get one of those – and I wouldn’t even be bothered to go to your funeral. You can just go straight to hell.”

Slide 78: 

And then he turned, shook off Wally’s grasp and stormed off, with Roxanne, Liv, Wally and James following him at a little distance, leaving Joey to argue with his twin. Nobody talked on the way back home. ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 79: 

“I just can’t believe he would do that. Seriously. Did he think I wouldn’t find out? And he admitted it right to my face! I think he wanted to fight me. Wally should have at least let me try. I could have won.” “But what if you didn’t?” Liv asked tentatively. “… I don’t know, but at least I could have left bruises or whatever. But I still don’t understand what happened that made him hate me so much that he’d try to steal Roxanne.”

Slide 80: 

“What I don’t understand is why you punched him in the chest of all places – surely it would have made more sense to go for the face or the stomach?” “Juan!” Mia scolded disapprovingly. “Oh, right, yes – violence is wrong and is absolutely never the answer. And if you had punched him in the face you might have broken your hand on a cheekbone so that wouldn’t have been good. So don’t fight. But, if you have to, go for the stomach next time.” He turned back to Mia and said innocently “You were saying, dear?” Mia just shook her head.

Slide 81: 

“And what am I supposed to do now?” Lyle continued. “I’m still friends with some of his brothers, especially his twin, and Uncle Rick and Aunt Celeste are alright, but do I still invite them to stuff? What if they decide they can’t come to things unless he’s coming too? It’s not fair, he’s such a selfish jerk.” “Well you said he hasn’t got a girlfriend, he’s probably just jealous Lyle,” Liv consoled. “So he should go out and get one of his own! How hard can it be to find a girlfriend on a massive university campus? At least he got to go to university!” “Welcome to life, Lyle. Some people are monumental jerks and there’s not much you can do about it except fight back.” Juan said knowledgably.

Slide 82: 

“Juan!” Mia scolded again. “Not necessarily in a violent way…” “Anyway,” Mia continued, “I’m sorry to hear that that happened Lyle, but you know that he failed, so you’ve only really lost a friend you didn’t really have anyway. And it could have been worse.” “Yeah, he could have succeeded…” “Actually, I was thinking more that your cousin could have blown up your house and killed your parents, but that’s true too.”

Slide 83: 

“…Yeah, that would have been a lot worse,” Lyle concluded, with a contemplative look at his mother. Nobody noticed the particularly dark look on Juan’s face. “Moving on: any news on Jose?” Mia said, trying to keep her anxiety under wraps. “Ah.” “Right…” “That…” Mia sighed, “I’ll take that as a no then, shall I?”

Slide 84: 

“Sorry Mia, but it’s been a busy and exhausting day for all of us. We’ll be able to look again properly tomorrow.” “How many tomorrows are there going to be to look for him in?” “Well I don’t plan on going anywhere, so I have plenty to spare, but hopefully we won’t need many.” “Yeah mum, we’ll find him soon,” Liv chipped in optimistically. Mia sighed again. “I hope so…” ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 85: 

At school the next day: “-and you wouldn’t believe how much trouble he is in with our parents now. Joey says that he’s changed his mobile number and everything to stop them calling; he hung up on Dad half way through the lecture, so we don’t know how long it’ll be before we see him again. Has Lyle calmed down a bit?” “I guess so, but if you put Ivan in front of him I don’t know how long that’d last for…” “Well, I guess Ivan’s my brother and all regardless, but you can tell Lyle that I’m on his side-” “Hey guys, what’s going on?” Tommy asked as he and Briney came out from art.

Slide 86: 

“Just talking about yesterday’s ‘incident’,” Clark informed the youngest brother. But Liv had been distracted already. “Briney? You’re in secondary school already? I didn’t realise we were so close in age.” “Yeah, I thought you were younger than Tommy,” Clark said. Briney gave a light-hearted laugh “Yeeeah, I get that a lot. Getting kind of touchy about it now, you know…” “Oh. Sorry,” Liv apologised earnestly. “Oh no no – don’t be. It’s fine!”

Slide 87: 

“Actually,” Briney continued as the Wong brothers got into a separate conversation, “do you mind if I talk to you, Liv? Alone, I mean.” “Er, no, not at all. Why what’s up?” “I, uh, I want to show you something.” “Oh okay, the music room will be empty…”

Slide 88: 

“So what’ve you got to show me that’s so important and secret then?” “Okay. You see me standing here, right?” “Yeees…” “Still see me?” “Yes.” “Still?” “Yes?”

Slide 89: 

And then he was gone. Instantaneously. Liv blinked a couple of times. What had just happened?

Slide 90: 

Liv jumped as suddenly he was talking from next to her. “Cool, huh?” “What the- Did you just sit down really fast or something?” “What? That wouldn’t be worth showing you.” “So… is it a magic trick? Something with mirrors or projections or something?” “Oh Liv…”

Slide 91: 

Suddenly Briney was gone again. “As if I would be that lame.” The voice came from behind her this time. “Okay, I don’t know how you did that, but stay there and I will come to you this time.” “I’d be faster.” “I don’t care,” she said sternly. “Stay where you are.”

Slide 92: 

“So… What? You can teleport? I’d heard there were Takemize ninjas who could do that, but I thought it involved doing like somersaults in the air and puffs of smoke and things.” “It’s not really teleporting,” Briney said thoughtfully.

Slide 93: 

“It just looks like it.” Liv gave a frustrated sigh. “Would you please stop doing that?!” “Sorry. But it’s kind of fun to see people’s reactions when you disappear and reappear somewhere else.” “Not when you’re trying to have a conversation, it’s not.” “Sorry.”

Slide 94: 

“So, if it’s not teleporting that you do, what is it?” “Well, don’t freak out, but… I can freeze time. And then I can move around while everybody else is frozen. So you see me in one place, then I freeze time – and you with it, move where I want to go and unfreeze it, and it looks like it happened immediately. Which it kind of did, to you. I don’t know, I’m not fantastic at physics, even if I can mess with the time continuum.” “How did you ever discover you could do that?!”

Slide 95: 

“Completely by accident, actually. I was just at home one weekend when I was a kid and felt myself getting hungry and wondered where dinner was, but when I went into the kitchen my Mom was making hamburgers, but she wasn’t moving. At all. Not even breathing. I thought that was weird, but went to find my Mum to ask her, but she was frozen in place doing her dance exercises.”

Slide 96: 

“I’ll be honest, I completely freaked out and thought it was the end of the world – I was only a kid – and went and hid in my room. Eventually I fell asleep and was awoken by my Mom with a hamburger, but she didn’t remember a thing. I could have put it down to a dream if I hadn’t figured out how to do it again.”

Slide 97: 

“But uh, that’s kind of why I’m in secondary school already – I’d been freezing time, but not my own aging, so… I kind of caught up a bit. I really should still be in primary school according to normal time, but I’ve got like my own time stream going on, which means I’m a teenager already. My Mums have no idea what to make of it – they assume that I must have been older than they remember when they found me and/or that there’s too many hormones in the food I eat.” “Wow. Who else knows about this?” “Er, just you, me and Tommy. ‘Cause, you know, he’s my best friend and I wanted to see how people react to this kind of stuff…”

Slide 98: 

“Well this is huge!” Liv said, still a little in shock. “Think of all the things you could do with this power! You could be like all those superheroes in comics and films! Fighting crime and stopping disasters.” “Er, yeah. Yeah, I guess so. I hadn’t really thought about that.” “Really? What have you been using it for?” “Well, back in primary school, going out to play in the middle of classes when I got bored… Cheating on tests…” “Briney Lum! What would your mothers say?!”

Slide 99: 

“Er, everyone has natural talents they use to their advantage? And it’s just as well I do, or else I’d be stuck in primary school anyway – I had to get moved up the same number of years as I aged through. They think I’m a mega-genius, but the teachers also think I’m hyper because I’ll suddenly shift in my seat really fast.” Liv rolled her eyes, but frowned thoughtfully. “I wonder why you can do this though. I don’t suppose you know?” “No idea, but the best guess is always whoever my biological parents are. Tommy reckons it means my real Dad’s Doctor Who. That would be pretty cool, but he has a time machine, so we’re guessing not. That, and he’s fictional.”

Slide 100: 

“Yeah… We were going to try and find your parents, weren’t we?” Liv said guiltily. “Don’t stress over that – if they can do what I can do it could be nigh on impossible to find them anyway. And who needs biological parents when you have superpowers?” he laughed. “But… What you said about aging while you freeze time – shouldn’t you stop before it goes too far? You don’t want to be hitting old age while your friends are still in their twenties.” He shook his head. “Ah, no, I think I’ve got it figured out now.”

Slide 101: 

“See when I first started I had no idea what I was doing, but now I’ve figured out how to stop my body aging without having to freeze in time too – and I haven’t tried doing that in case it ends everything if there’s no-one there to unfreeze us.” “Oh. That’s… good?” “Like you wouldn’t believe! Because now… I know how to stop myself aging even while normal time is going!” He was practically bouncing up and down on the spot. “Now all I have to do is figure out how to stop other people aging over time and maybe how to stop specific individuals getting frozen when I freeze time and I’ll be set!” “So you never have to get old?” “Never,” he whispered with a twinkle in his eye.

Slide 102: 

“You’re not going to stay a teenager forever though, are you?” “Oh no, I’ll wait until I’m an adult. Hopefully I’ll have figured out how to stop other people aging then too.” “Why? Are you going to sell the secret and get mega-rich?” “No, I think aging is good for most people. Just not me,” he laughed. “And maybe someone else…” “Really? Who?” she asked. Briney was looking at her, but didn’t respond. “Briney?” “Hm?” he asked. “Sorry, lost in thought, what?”

Slide 103: 

“You were staring at me and not listening.” “No I wasn’t,” he said quickly. “I was just… working out physics formulae for this aging thing. Takes a lot of time and thought and is very distracting, you know.” Liv raised an eyebrow. “I thought you said you weren’t good at physics.” “I- Um, I’m not. That’s why I have to spend so much time- Uh, do you hear that bell ringing? We’d better go. Like now.” And then he disappeared into thin air for a couple of seconds before reappearing and quickly mumbling “I do like your dress though.” Then he disappeared again.

Slide 104: 

Liv sighed and shook her head when Briney didn’t re-reappear. And only then did the school bell ring. Why were boys so strange all the time? ~~~~~~~~~~

Slide 105: 

“Mia…” “Just a while longer Juan. It’s only just gotten dark.” “Mia… It got dark hours ago…” “But- But what if…?” “If he comes home tonight then surely it won’t matter at which point.” “But what if he wants to be here to see…?”

Slide 106: 

“But he might not be coming at all. And you can’t put it off forever, love.” “Really? There really ought to be some kind of way around this…” “Well if you think you’re going to find and be able to access the cure for aging in the next few hours, then by all means wait, but if not…” Lyle and Liv just looked at each other sadly. They didn’t know where Jose was, but they both quite wanted to shake some sense into him, especially right then.

Slide 107: 

“Fine,” Mia said with an attempt at resolve, but just sounded sadder. “You’re right. It can’t be put off forever, I might as well get on with it now.” “It’ll be okay, Mum,” Liv said in a small voice. Mia swallowed, but couldn’t say anything else. Lyle avoided making eye contact and just stared at the cake.

Slide 108: 

As she stood before the cake she couldn’t help but look at the remaining son she had though. Where was Jose? What was he doing? Why wasn’t he there? Did he really hold so much of a grudge, or so much hate, that he didn’t even want to see her on her birthday? What had she done that was so wrong? What had she ever done to deserve all the things that had happened to her in her life? She couldn’t have discreetly wiped away the tears if she’d tried, so she didn’t, and merely blew out the candles with them falling on to the table.

Slide 109: 

And then she unenthusiastically spun into old age, including a rather daring pirate outfit. Ordinarily she would have been embarrassed and they all would have laughed about it later, but this time she walked away upstairs without comment. Nobody else had anything to say, they just looked at each other – Lyle warily, Liv with concern and Juan with resolve – before Juan followed her.

Slide 110: 

“You okay, Mia?” It was a stupid question, but it expressed more than it stated. She shook her head and whispered “No.” Juan couldn’t think of anything else to say. He could have told her that Jose would come home tomorrow or that it’d all be okay, but he wasn’t sure that the first was at all likely, and he was pretty sure she didn’t want to hear the second yet again.

Slide 111: 

He settled on lying next to her on the bed. He couldn’t do anything, but when she needed him, he would be there. They didn’t move until morning. ~~~~~End of Chapters 12C + 12D~~~~~

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