"So, wait...all this time, you've been having sex dreams about some girl with the almost same name as me? Ew! Scarred now!"
"That's the least of our problems, *Isabella*."
"Yeah, we'll talk about the sex dreams later...when I can get Shawn and Kevin to hold your brother down while I castrate him. In the meantime, what's this 'Kivar' business?"
"It's the Seekers...or what I thought was the Seekers."
"The Seekers, Brady?"
"Voices. Whispers. Like crunching cereal in my head. Telling me things. Telling me about *her*...about this town. Maybe all this time, it's been *him*."
"Whoa, hold on a second...you are NOT some guy named Kivar. I have it on good authority that you're Brady Black-Alamain-whatever-our-real-last-name-is. We have the same dad. Isabella Toscano was your mom. I think we would *know* if you were somebody else, wouldn't we?"
"Not necessarily! Isn't Mr. Dimera always messing around with your family tree? Didn't everyone think your dad was Roman Brady come back from the dead once? Except he wasn't...it was brainwashing."
*Ohhhh, don't REMIND me. The last thing I want is to repeat that kind of history. As far as I know, I'm Brady. I've always been Brady. But I think I'm Kivar, *too*. I'd have to be. If Isabel and I somehow know each other...that's the only explanation. I don't think even Stefano Dimera could come up with something this strange."
"You're not giving him enough credit...but you're probably right. This has nothing to do with him. And if that's the case...what *does* it have to do with?"
"I don't know, Diva. I don't. But judging by the looks of Isabel and her little war council over there...they definitely *do*."
"Then all we have to do is ask them what's up!"
"Belle, you're so naive sometimes...but don't worry, that's why we love you."
"And here I thought it was my keen fashion sense."
"If we ask, they're not going to tell. Even if Miss Evans wanted to talk, Heckle and Jeckle over there are shut tighter than the clams Caroline puts in her famous chowder."
"Then we find another way. I'm not going to lose you to some big secret, Brady. Not without a fight."
"So, they're harmless, right?
"They're human, but that doesn't mean they're harmless."
"They seem normal enough. Two high school girls. Belle and Chloe. Juniors. And he's a college drop-out. Almost twenty with major attitude. The brunette's more vicious than Kivar, actually. All protective of him...convinced I want him or something."
"No! That was another life, Michael. I'm never going to betray either of you again. *Never*."
"Okay, so what about this Kivar? This Brady Black? He has no conscious memory of who he is...or who he's hosting, right?"
"Yeah...it seems to be like with Brody and Larek. Except that Brady doesn't black out. He walks around with voices."
"Oh, that's comforting. He's schizo."
"So's your girlfriend!"
"*Guys*...we need to focus. We have to find a way to solve this without letting them know what we really are. It has gotten harder and harder to keep this secret between the nine of us and we can't afford to let them in."
"Seven. It's seven now, Maxwell."
"And it's going to stay seven. We're not losing anyone else. Not without a fight."
"Nicholas...I'm not seeing the results you promised. They're all still inside the CrashDown...apparently eating cheap diner food and playing Old Maid."
"So maybe the guy is fighting it? Maybe seeing Isabel didn't draw him out?"
"That pathetic little human fighting KIVAR? Our leader? That can't happen. We can't allow it. Kivar must be allowed to surface or all is lost."
"I know...I know. Don't worry...this just means we go to Plan B."
"And what, pray tell, is Plan B?"
"Plan B is Plan Blond Girl. I've got one word for you: 'leverage.'"
"Oh, you are fast redeeming yourself here, my young friend. I like it."
"Yeah, well I'm not giving this up. Max Evans and his friends will *pay* for everything they've taken away from us. I swear to you...we're not going down this time. Not without a fight."
She pushes away from the table, standing up and walking right through the stare barrier her brother and Chloe have constructed between them and the three shifty Roswellians. "I want a Cherry Coke" she says by way of explanation, when Brady's eyebrows quirk with a silent question.
She wants a Cherry Coke.
She wants a facial. New Mexico air has completely dried out her skin.
She wants to go back home and go to the movies with Shawn and pretend nothing is wrong in the world.
Most of all, she wants answers.
She walks up to the counter, sliding onto a stool just a few feet away from Isabel and her friends, and gestured to the dark-haired waitress. "Cherry Coke, please?"
"Oh! We're out. We need to refill the machine." The waitress, 'Liz' according to the nametag, looks at her sheepishly. "Kyle drank it all," she informs, gesturing to a cute jock slumped in a back booth. "He's drowning his sorrows," she informs with a slight lisp.
"Um...how about just Diet Coke with lots of crushed ice, then?" she tries, tilting her head, casually towards the hushed conversation three stools down.
She learned a lot about eavesdropping in the spring, after the whole mess with the Last Blast dance and Mimi and Jan. Pretty much the only good things that came out it were her loss of naivete, her and Shawn, and her brother putting Chloe's broken heart back together. She'd thought that the summer would be better. That it would yield something less than trauma and drama. And then her loving big brother had started acting weird.
More weird than usual, she amends, accepting the glass from Liz and automatically swishing the straw around. All she wants now is to make everything normal again. To give him the happiness he has always tried to give her.
"...if he really doesn't mean you harm...?"
"can't...won't...not who we really are..."
"...but if they don't know...them in *danger*, Max."
"...a risk we have to take, Isabel."
"Would you be saying that if it was Liz? Or Maria? Or Valenti?"
*Liz*. She glances up and notices the waitress gazing, longingly at the boy with the shorter, neater dark hair. Does everyone in this town have a staring problem? "Boyfriend?" she asks, with a cheery smile.
The longing look disappears, replaced by a sappy grin and oddly blank eyes. "Sort of. Max and I are working things out."
She nods, feigning interest, and sips at her watered down drink. What kind of *danger* could they possibly be talking about? And what did it have to do with Brady? "So...this is Roswell," she sighs, casually, looking around the alien-themed restaurant. "Had any close encounters? Know any aliens? Know anyone named 'Vilandra'?"
Liz chokes. Panic floods her face and she glances first at Isabel and Max and the other boy and then at a blond waitress back behind the grill and then at Kyle of the Drowned Sorrows. "N-no!" she gasps, a moment too late. "We lead much more boring lives than you'd think around here...and I've never heard that name...'Vilandra'...is it Spanish? E-enjoy your stay in Roswell, okay? I-I've got to take some more orders."
*Yeah, right.* That is all she needs to hear. To see. And she slides from the stool and heads back to the booth, where Chloe and Brady are sharing one of those soft, sweet kisses that makes everything else in the world disappear. And she stops. Sighs. "God, I miss you, Shawn. Why couldn't you have come along?" she mutters, veering towards the door instead.
She'll give her brother and her best friend a few moments of privacy before confirming their suspicions about Isabel and her friends, she thinks. Besides, she needs some air.
Even if it IS dry.
He kisses her and everything melts away. The diner. Isabel. Vilandra. All of it. For a few blissful seconds, he tastes nothing but Chloe's mouth, the berry gloss of her lips, the heat of her tongue. And she kisses him back ardently, curling her slender fingers against the nape of his neck and playing with the ends of his hair.
"I love you," she sighs, pulling away just a fraction of an inch.
"I love you, too."
And then he hears the Seekers.
What he now knows is Kivar.
Not a thousand whispers...just one.
One very clear voice.
With words that chill him to the bone.
*Let me out. Let me out or Tink dies.*
He jerks upwards, then, away from Chloe's arms...rising up in the booth and taking in the interior of the CrashDown Cafe. He searches every corner, every shadow, the corridor that leads back to the restrooms...but there's no sign of the annoying blond pixie he loves more than anything in the world. "Where's Belle?" he demands, raggedly.
"Belle...? I don't know...she went to get a soda and then I think she went out for some air."
*Oh God.* "No." He shakes his head, urging her out of the booth and then sliding out himself. "No, she'd be back by now."
"Brady, calm down. I bet she's just out the sidewalk."
He glances out the windows at the front of the small restaurant, but they tell him what he all ready knows deep in the pit of his gut. She's not there. She's *gone*. "They've got her," he gasps, choking on bile. "Oh, shit, they've got her."
"Who?" Chloe asks, gently...*too* gently. "Who has her, Brady?"
He shrugs off her hand, swings around. Isabel, her brother, and their friend are staring at him, stricken by his panic. It takes less than five seconds for him to close the space between them. Tables, chairs...all fall by the wayside. There is laughter in his head now...his own laughter twisted into something dark and sinister. Something distinctly evil and full of knowing.
"Tell me," he hisses, hands curling on either side of Isabel's stool, trapping her between his arms. "Tell me everything you know."
Her brown eyes fill with fear, with the sparkle of tears. "I-I can't," she murmurs, shifting a glance first at Max and then at Michael.
He ignores them both. Doesn't care. Can't care. Not about anything except making sure his sister doesn't pay for *his* insanity. "You have to. You have to, *Vilandra*."
She winces. And this time she looks at no one. "All right. Let's...let's just take it to the back room. Guys, give us a few minutes before you come in, okay?"
He squeezes Chloe's hand reassuringly before he moves back and allows Isabel to lead the way. But he doesn't look either.
He can only look forward now...not back.
"Do you remember the sunsets?"
"No...no, I don't remember anything."
"I do. I don't want to, but I do. I'd look off the balcony of my dad's penthouse and see a completely different skyline instead of Salem's. And I remembered watching the sunsets with you...with you in my arms."
"Th-they weren't your arms, Brady. They were Kivar's arms."
"You're the one who said I *was* him."
"You're not. You have his memories and his essence inside you...but you're not him. You're just a pawn in his game. We all are."
"My sister's life is at stake. I'm not about to be anybody's pawn. Nobody is more important to me than Belle. Not you...not even Chloe. I stood in the path of an oncoming train to try and save her life...you'd better believe some two-bit B-movie villains aren't going to get me off *these* tracks."
"I understand. Max and I are that way...we have that kind of bond. But there are things we can't *tell* you."
"Bullshit. You *can* tell me. You just won't. You're afraid. You're all afraid for your own skins...you're afraid that telling me what you are will mean I have power over you. I have news for you, Isabel...the only power I want is the power to get my life back to *normal.*"
"That's just it, Brady. I think it's out of your hands. Your life is going to be anything *but* normal now."
"Why is that?"
"Because...because we're *aliens.*"