Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters and events in the Seasons series are the creation of the author.
My special thanks to Fran who allowed me to tell you part of her story on the journey to recovery from cancer.
My special thanks to Pat for her expert assistance in rescue and fire fighting procedures.
My thanks to the readers who have been so kind in showing their appreciation of my stories. You are a super group! My special thanks to Lisa and Inga, who are my patient beta readers and to Susan for her comments and insights.
Check out the Seasons dolls at http://www.geocities.com/maclay529/azel.jpg
Note: The stories in this series are interrelated and should be read in the order they are posted.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction. Please do not read on if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
"Ryan, meet Alexandria," Janet remarked, with a roll of her eyes, as she stepped out of the elevator with her children and shaggy dog. "I'm sure you haven't forgotten me, Mrs. Williams. I am your son's widow and your oldest daughter's wife," she pointed out, with a forced smile.
"It is preposterous! I simply will not accept it! What was Robbie thinking of?!"
"Sex," Janet shot back unfairly, for the shock effect. "She is a very basic individual."
"Couldn't she have just slept with you?!"
"Not and lived," observed Janet, helping Ryan lift in bags. Ryan said nothing, but her eyes sparkled with amusement as she listened to her aunt spar with Alexandria.
Reb, released from Janet's arms, made a bee line to the stranger and looked up. "Where is Obby?" she asked earnestly.
Alexandria looked down in surprise. "What... is... an... Obby?!" she demanded.
Janet took Ryan's hand and went over to capture Rebecca's little sticky hands just before the child made a grab for Alexandria's furs. "That's the name Rebecca gave Robbie. Alexandria, you remember my daughter, Rebecca, and this is Robbie's daughter, Ryan," introduced Janet politely.
Eyes the same colour as Robbie's snapped up to look at Ryan curiously. "Oh yes, I have heard rumours over the years of Robbie's bastard".
Janet felt Ryan stiffen and she gently ran her thumb over Ryan's hand, hoping the gesture would calm Ryan like it always did her mother.
"Alexandria, Robbie and I are very proud of our children. Don't you EVER talk to them that way again! I think I must ask you to leave now. The children and I have had a very taxing day and we are not up to entertaining."
Vicious anger flashed across Alexandria's face, and for a second Janet thought the older woman was going to strike her. Instead, amusement sparkled suddenly into the cruel eyes. "Well, I don't think you'll be getting any sleep for a while. The police have gone through the place looking for evidence," informed the tall woman, as she swept past and stepped into the elevator. "I just HAD to co-operate with them!" She smiled at the parting shot as the doors closed.
"Hope the cables snap!" muttered Ryan.
Janet shot her a warning look and Ryan fell silent.
The condo was a mess. Drawers had been opened and furniture cushions and mattresses tossed aside. Janet wasn't completely sure that it had been totally the work of the police. It didn't make sense that Alexandria would come here or that she would co-operate with the police.
Suddenly anger boiled up inside of Janet, and she heaved a pillow across the room. It was that damn 'dark time' again! There was a vow of silence around it that the remaining Williams cherished. She loved Robbie so deeply, trusted her completely, and yet the trust had not been returned a hundred per cent. Janet had always been left on the outside, finding out things that everyone else in the family knew only after it was necessary for her to be informed. Damn all Williams to hell!
The anger passed as quickly as it had come. Janet just didn't have the energy after the taxing day to stay mad. She looked around for her family. Reb, the resourceful toddler that she was, had crawled into an armchair and was fast asleep with Rufus guarding the little body with his big, shaggy bulk. Ryan had wandered out onto the barren terrace garden.
Janet quickly set up Reb's portable play pen and laid the sleeping baby carefully into it, then went out to Ryan who was sitting on a garden bench looking out over Lake Ontario. Ryan didn't react as Janet slipped in beside her.
"Penny for your thoughts," Janet said softly.
"I thought I had a home and mother at last, and I wasn't going to be a bastard anymore," muttered Ryan, the tears spilling over with the effort of expressing her emotions.
Janet felt the tears well up and stream down her own face as she felt the pain of the teen. "Oh Ryan! Honey!" she exclaimed, and pulled her niece and adopted daughter into a deep, tight hug.
Ryan held on tightly and sobbed.
Janet let her and then, after a few minutes, she offered Ryan her tissue, wiping her own tears away with the back of her hand. "Ryan, a home isn't a building, it is the family that dwells there!" Janet stated earnestly, taking the teen's hand. "We are a family. Robbie didn't leave you, Honey, she was taken away. Her first thoughts were of you."
Ryan broke eye contact and looked moodily out over the water. Janet went on quietly. "I know you have lost faith again in Robbie. That's okay. The two of you will have time in the future to work that out. But I won't allow you not to believe in us. You are MY legal daughter and I love you just as much as I do Reb and Robbie. We ARE a family, and you are a very important part of that union. That's not going to change, not where it counts, here in our hearts."
Ryan swallowed and, blinking back tears, she turned to look deeply into Janet's eyes that were, surprisingly, so very much like her own. "Can I call you Mom instead of her?" she asked bluntly.
Janet didn't hesitate although she would have liked time to consider the consequences of such a decision on Robbie's tender soul. Ryan had to come first, and Ryan needed this. "I'd be very proud and honoured if you called me Mom too, Ryan," Janet smiled, through eyes brimming over with emotion.
Ryan nodded seriously and looked back out across the huge lake. "Okay," she agreed.
Janet laughed in relief and gave Ryan's hair a mess. "Come on you! I need some help in there or we are going to have to sleep in kitchen drawers tonight!
After an hour of tidying and making beds, Janet had made up a box of macaroni and cheese for the three of them. Once Ryan had showered and Reb had been bathed, she had tucked them into bed and told them stories.
Janet sat in the girl's room until she was sure her daughters were both asleep. Then, with relief, she walked back to the master bedroom, showered, and crawled between the cold sheets. She was so tired and yet now she was here, alone in Robbie's bed, the sleep wouldn't come. Instead, the tears did and she sobbed her heart out until finally exhaustion claimed her.
Elizabeth sat curled up in the corner of her couch. She had been at home all day, phoning in sick when she had heard of Robbie's arrest. She knew what she had been told to do, and say, by Robbie, but the emotions and fears that roared inside her made it hard for her to think. It was wise to stay in here away from everyone.
All these years she had guarded the secret and now it had come out. Only part of it, that was true, but enough that she now felt very vulnerable. Her thumb tip slipped between her teeth and she rocked back and forth absently. Robbie promised her that no one would ever know the whole truth. Robbie always kept her promises.
How could she cope without Robbie's towering strength? Her big sister had always been there for her. She wanted to phone the jail and talk to her, make sure she was all right, but that would mean talking to others, strangers, and she didn't think she could at the moment. Besides, Robbie's instructions had been quite clear that she was not to contact her. Robbie had gone over it with her so many times. She knew what Robbie expected of her. She always did what Robbie said....yet inside she felt awful.
Her eyes shifted to the computer as the screen saver flashed off to be replaced by incoming e-mail. It would be David. He and Robbie alone knew her home addy. She couldn't communicate with David anymore. It wasn't right. He was nice and had high moral standards and she...
Elizabeth stood suddenly, pushing the last thought from her head. She never thought those things! Never! She wouldn't allow herself to! With the look of grim determination that all Williams seemed to share, she walked over to her desk and lost herself in the beauty of numbers and the poetic structure of physics equations. Quantum Mechanics was like a balm for her tortured soul.
Ted Potts drove the heavy dump truck down Lakefront Road oblivious of the panoramic view of evergreens and northern lake to his right. He'd been out at Larry and Flo Butler's place picking up his paycheck and now he was on his way over to the Bartlett Car Dealership to get the truck's safety certificate for another contracting season.
He liked working for Larry Butler well enough. The pay was okay and Larry was good to his employees even if he was kinda short tempered at times. In the summer, he drove the dump truck, running loads from Larry's gravel pit down south of Indian Gorge to whatever site the company was working on. In the winter, he drove snow plow. But he was getting on a bit now and the lifestyle was getting harder, especially in the winter when he'd have to get up in the middle of the night. It was no fun. When the snow started to fall, he'd be called out into the freezing cold and be on the plow for eighteen hour stretches trying to keep the roads open.
Ted sighed. When he was younger, he'd thought his brother David was really stupid tying himself to that variety store and a big mortgage. But now David had paid off his bank loan and he seemed to be doing real well. He was his own boss, made his own hours and didn't have to go out in the cold if he didn't want to. David always was the smart one.
It was a split second later when the deer ran out in front of Ted's truck. He slammed on the brakes and swerved around the fleeting creature. The wheel locked and the back end of the vehicle spun out on the wet spring pavement. Over the truck went, rolling into the ditch and slamming the cab roof against a large granite boulder. Moisture shaken from the stark branches above rained softly on the twisted and silent cab.
David came out of his office feeling depressed and annoyed. There was still no response from Elizabeth. He hoped she was all right. He thought they had been getting on very well together! Each day they e-mailed each other and when she had come to the Drama Society play, she'd had a very good time. She'd agreed to go with him to Roy Thompson Hall...but now when she should want a friend, she had completely cut him off from her life.
Okay, David, don't let your hurt feelings cloud the issue, he scolded himself. Christian charity begins at home. You know that Bethy is very insecure and easily hurt. Naturally, she has hidden away from the press. It must be awful for her! One could see how upset Alexandria was on T.V. last night. She had cried and said that she just couldn't talk about it. That the thought of her poor Philly lying in a cold, wet hole all those years was just too much for her to bear. David had been quite moved. He was sure that his Bethy would be even more upset than her mother, especially with Robbie under arrest.
He walked over to the door and flipped the open sign out and then undid the latch. David had only turned around when his beeper went off. He looked at the code screen: Vehicle Accident: Lakefront Road. Quickly, he switched the sign to closed again and locked the door. Removing his apron, he tossed it on the counter and headed out the back way to his car. Already he could see other members of the volunteer fire department taking off down the road.
As soon as David saw the truck, he knew it was his brother. Ted always drove the same truck for Butler. He pulled to the side and leapt out to be met by a worried Larry Butler. "David, it's Ted. He's alive but he's pinned in there good and tight. It's hard to know how bad it is. He's in a lot of pain. Said it was his back and right leg," the man explained, as he walked with David down to were the huge truck lay on its side.
George Drouillard was lying on the cab door with his head through the smashed passenger window talking to Ted, while Paul Digby and Moe Singh got the Jaws of Life ready. David climbed up the fire ladder that had been leaned against the undercarriage. George moved aside and let David take a look.
"Hi Ted. How are you doing?" asked David, his voice tight with worry. Below him he could see his brother's head and shoulders sticking out from underneath a twisted lump of metal that had once been the roof of the cab. Beside him, half way through the front window, was a muddy Doctor Perkins.
"Sure... hurts David. But... that... might be a good... sign, eh." Ted responded, through gasps of pain.
"Yeah," agreed David. "Look, we're going to use Robbie's Jaws of Life to get you out. You just hang on!" Ted nodded, his eyes now closed and his face ashen. David looked at Perkins.
"His signs are good, David," Bill Perkins reassured the worried brother.
"Okay, Moe, it will have to be you going in there, on account of you bein the skinniest. Paul, you and Walt get more four by four to shore up this truck. I want a good cribbing in place before we start using the Jaws of Life," organized the fire chief.
Then he looked around and yelled over to the fire engine, "Ted!? You get on that fancy car phone of yours and see what the E.T.A. for the hospital helicopter is gonna be. Reminded them to land it in the skating rink parking lot. Then phone over to White's Funeral Home and tell them to get the hearse up here. We're gonna have to put a backboard under Ted, and we'll need their stretcher."
George looked over at David and smiled. "Sure wish we had that little Ryan here. She could always get the damn Engine radio to work, eh. Could do with Robbie squeezin down into the cab too! Damned if I ever thought we'd need women on the fire department. But those two are all right. I guess in the city you get a lot of females on the fire department now days."
"I guess," responded David, absently, watching Larry Butler wedging timber against the truck to make sure it would not roll or shift while they were working on it.
George cleared his voice awkwardly. "Ahhh, you heard anything? You know, about Robbie and the family...folks have been askin. They're well liked although some are a bit turned off by their
David looked up sharply but saw no disapproval in George's face. "No, no, I haven't heard a thing. Janet left with the girls not because of the town, but because the press wouldn't leave them alone. And of course, stupid Bartlett over there had Janet fired!"
George looked over at the man on the phone in the car. "Well, John's always been a jackass, right from a boy. Accordin' to my mama, he comes from a long line of them!"
Moe climbed up the ladder and then reached down to grab the heavy Jaws of Life apparatus that would be used to get to Ted through the twisted metal. "You be careful, son," warned George, patting Mohammed on the back. "David, I gotta ask you to get off now, so as we have more room to work.
David climbed down the ladder and stood at a safe distance with Paul. Moe carefully lowered himself as far as he could into the mangled cab and then waited as George handed down the Jaws of Life. Moe looked around thoughtfully, decided where the best place would be to start pulling the metal away from Ted's body and slipped in the metal prongs. Holding on to the handles, he held down the start button and the scissor like prongs slowly spread, edging the wreckage away from Ted's pinned body.
George was watching carefully from above. Doctor Perkins monitored Ted's signs from his position in the muddy ditch. An hour later, they were able to carefully strap Ted to the back board and slide him out the front window of the cab. The men gently carried Ted up the slippery bank and slid him in the back of the hearse, which in Bartlett doubled as their ambulance. Ted was on his way to the helicopter that would fly him to the Barrie hospital miles to the south.
Robbie had spent some time with her lawyers, who had arranged for her transfer to Toronto and for the court hearing for formal charges to be laid the next day. They had told her not to plead guilty to the charge of first degree murder. They wanted to plead a case of accidental homicide. Robbie didn't really care; her worst nightmare had now become a reality.
The matron had lead her by the arm down into the cell blocks and placed her in a cell with another woman, whom she introduced as Tracy. Robbie looked around. The cell was small, a bunk on each side and a metal toilet and sink at the end. The walls were brick spray painted cream. The whole place smelt of cheap disinfectant and sewage.
She looked at her cell mate. She was a wiry, tough looking woman with bulging muscles covered in poorly done tattoos. Her hair was cut real short and she ignored Robbie as she sat reading a Hard Metal comic book.
"I'm Robbie," the director said, walking farther into the cell. "Is this my bunk?" she inquired politely.
"If I say so," came the response.
Robbie gritted her teeth and tried to stay calm. Just my luck to get a stupid bitch with an attitude.
"Well, you were here first so I guess you get first choice. So which one is yours?" she responded, letting her impatience show.
"Both," responded the woman, uncoiling slowly like a snake and standing up. "You can sleep on the floor until I decide about you. Right, girls?" she said, speaking a little louder so those in other cells could hear. A chorus of cheers came back.
Robbie smiled. So this is the sort of hazing crap that Ryan has had to put up with over the years. I think I'm really, really getting pissed! "That's not acceptable to me. So I think you'd better choose...now."
The con brought her fist up and slammed it into Robbie's temple. Robbie let it happen. She didn't want to have started this fight. Then satisfied that the hit had left a mark, she went for Tracy, letting all her built up anger out. Three blows and the con was on her knees and dazed.
Robbie walked forward, stuck two fingers up the lady's nostrils and lifted her up off the ground by her nose. The woman screamed in pain as the cartilage in her nose broke and blood poured out. Robbie slammed the half conscious woman against the bars, holding her high so that she had to stand on her toes to ease the pain. The director looked out at the silent women that had been watching. "No one messes with me! Got it?!" she snarled, and then let Tracy sink to the floor. With disgust she went over to the sink that was attached to the wall beside the toilet and scrubbed her hands really well.
Alberta sipped at a liquor glass of Benedictine. She watched the reflection of the flames from the living room fireplace dance across the polished oak floor that edged the Persian rug. Leaning back into her arm chair, she closed her eyes and thought about her findings. Philip Williams had not had osteoporosis. She had dug out the shots of the murder scene too. The body had fallen with the top of the head near the base of a love seat. The second blow could have only come from the one side. The first blow had been right handed, the second left. There were either two people involved in the murder or, Alberta smiled foreseeing her boss's next point, or the killer was a switch hitter.
She opened her eyes, took a second sip of her night cap and lifted the statement that Robbie had made to the police in the presence of her lawyers.
"I argued with my father that night over my sexual preferences. He took a swing at me and I blocked it and hit him back. He fell to the floor. I thought he was unconscious.
"I went to find my kid sister and brother who were upstairs in their beds to make sure they were okay. I found them asleep. I went back down stairs planning on leaving, but I found that my father was dead. I panicked and buried him in the woods. Then I drove to the Port Credit harbour, took out his sailboat a couple of miles, and made it look like he'd fallen overboard and drowned. I swam back to the shore. The next afternoon, I reported my father missing. I'd told my brother and sister that my father had called me at my university residence and asked me to babysit so that he could take his boat out for the weekend. He sometimes did that. My mother was out of town that weekend."
Alberta put the paper down on the sherry table beside her chair. She smiled softly, Robbie Williams, you are lying and I'm going to prove it!
Janet had been notified early the next morning about the hearing. It was to be at eleven o'clock. She was anxious to get there and see Robbie, although the lawyer had reassured her that her partner was all right. Ryan was content to stay at the condo and babysit Reb while she went alone to the court house. Kissing her two daughters good bye, Janet took the elevator down to the parking garage and got into her truck. She was preoccupied, upset, and over tired, and she didn't sense any danger until she stopped at the end of the driveway and her door was yanked open.
"Fucking pervert!" screamed the teen, as he grabbed Janet and tried to pull her from the truck. Another teen leapt into the passenger side and started hitting Janet to get her out of the driver's seat. Fear clutched at her heart, as she tried to fight off her attackers. A blow to her right temple sent her reeling out onto the side walk. The teen leapt out of the slowly moving truck and started to kick at her with the help of the other.
Alberta had tried unsuccessfully that morning to contact Robbie's sister, Elizabeth. At ten, she had decided that she might have better luck if she tried to contact Janet Williams, Robbie's partner. On impulse, she decided to jog the few blocks from her home to the condo by the lake. As she came around the corner, she could see the two skinheads kicking at someone on the ground. A truck left in gear had rolled across the road and was buried in the hedge. Alberta sped up and hit the two punks at full speed. A few carefully placed kicks and the two thugs took off.
Breathing heavily, she took a second to get her breath and then squatted down beside the figure that was curled in a ball on the ground. "You okay?"
The figure shrunk away at the touch. "Hey, it's okay. They've gone now. I'm Doctor Alberta Pateas. I'm going to call 911 and get you some help."
The figure stirred and a bloody face looked up. "No! Please. I'm okay. I got to go...I mean..I've got an appointment. I'm late." Janet got to her feet with grim determination and only with the support of the tall woman beside her. Her head was throbbing and to her embarrassment, she threw up on the side walk. The woman stood behind her and held her with strong hands by the shoulders.
"First, I have to take you to emergency. Then, if they say it's okay, I'll take you to your appointment," organized Alberta firmly.
"No! I'd be hours at emergency. Please! I'm okay. I'll clean up in the Ladies when I get to the court house," argued Janet, holding her side in pain.
Blue eyes snapped up to meet green. "Are you Janet Williams?"
The green eyes looked cautious and worried. "Yes."
Alberta smiled. Janet thought she had a lovely smile. "I was on my way over to talk to you. I'm one of the forensic experts working on the case. Look, let me get you into the truck and get it out of the hedge. Then I'll drive you over to my house which is just a few blocks down the road. You can clean up there while we talk and then I'll take you to the courthouse."
Janet opened her mouth to protest but Alberta held up a long, graceful hand to stop her. "Janet, no security guard is going to let you in to the court house looking like that. Better you're late than not there at all. Come on, we'll be as quick as we can."
Janet nodded and let the confident woman take her by the arm and lead her to the truck. She couldn't remember who she said she was but it was something that sounded okay. She felt tired and disoriented and just about every bone in her body hurt.
Alberta backed the truck off the curb and onto the street. She was concerned when she heard the soft gasp of pain from the small woman beside her. Janet was pale and her eyes didn't look too focused. Alberta considered taking her to emergency anyway. Then decided against it. She'd get faster care if Alberta just took her home.
The next real clear impression that Janet had was sitting on a toilet lid with the woman who had rescued her, T-shirt covered breasts in front of her face. Nice breasts, nice abs. The woman was in great shape, observed Janet, as confident fingers worked to clean and bandage the cut over her eye.
"There, I think that's going to be okay. I've got a sweat shirt here that you can put on. Your shirt is blood-soaked. Janet looked down in surprise. Had she been hurt that bad? "I couldn't get your nose to stop bleeding," explained the woman.
Janet nodded. "What's your name again?" she asked in embarrassment, struggling to her feet as the woman stepped back. She was beautiful, with dark, curly hair cut short and blue neon eyes like Robbie's.
"I'm Doctor Alberta Pateas. I'm a forensic anthropologist working for the Metro Toronto Police. I was the one who recovered Philip Williams remains," Alberta explained.
Green eyes widened in surprise. "Oh." Janet turned, steadying herself by holding onto the sink. Her side pained terribly and she was finding it hard to breathe. Looking into the mirror she was shocked to see what a mess she was. The right side of her face was swollen and bruised and a large plaster covered the cut on her eyebrow. Her nose was red and swollen and her chin scraped.
"Look, you need a real doctor," observed Pateas.
Janet looked at the woman behind her in the mirror with pleading eyes. "I have to be there for Robbie," she stated quietly.
The woman grimaced. "Janet, it's already too late. The hearing would be over before I got you there."
"Oh shit," groaned Janet, closing her eyes and feeling the emotion and physical pain waving through her body.
Firm, warm hands took her shoulders. "This is what we are going to do. I'm going to take you to the clinic down the street and get you looked at. Then I'm going to bring you back here. You can't stay where you are in your present state if you are going to be a target."
Janet couldn't think. It was just too hard and blackness was again invading her vision. "I need to go to the clinic," she admitted, and felt strong arms wrap around her and lift her off the ground. She should protest she knew, but instead she found herself resting her head on a broad, comfortable shoulder. "I'm worried about my children," she managed to get out before passing out.
The next few hours were kind of fussy. She saw a doctor and had x-rays and then taken home; she was stripped and put to bed. She thought she had held Rebecca for a while and that Ryan had talked to her but she wasn't sure that she hadn't just dreamed it. Through all the misty images was the figure of the quiet, dark woman who had rescued her.
Robbie sat on her bunk and stared at the wall. Yesterday, she and her cell mate had come to an understanding. Once she had cleaned the blood off herself, she had wet a towel and taken it over to the woman who huddled in the corner.
Squatting down, she had held out the cloth. "I really lose it when I get mad," she said quietly. "Don't make me mad again." The bloodied woman nodded, fear in her eyes as she cautiously took the towel. "We are stuck in here for a little while, so let's make it as pleasant as this hell hole can be. I don't get in your way, you don't get in mine. Agreed?"
The woman nodded again, grimacing as she tried to clean the blood away from her broken nose.
Robbie looked at it critically. "It should heal pretty straight if you tape it." She held out her hand and after a moment's hesitation the battered inmate wrapped her hand around Robbie's wrist. Robbie got a grip on the woman and hauled her to her feet. After that things had gone better.
Until the hearing. Janet hadn't been at the hearing. The lawyers had told her that Janet had e-mailed to say she was at Robbie's apartment and that they had phoned her back to let her know about the hearing, but she hadn't come. None of Robbie's family had. Not that she could blame them. This must be horrible for them. And Janet was still pretty run down from her treatments. And Ryan, well she'd pretty well betrayed that kid's trust and love. Robbie buried her head in her hands. She hurt so bad inside.
"Hey, the hearing not go so well?" asked a nasal voice.
Robbie looked up at the woman across from her. What had happened at the hearing? She was so upset at not seeing Janet she hadn't really taken much in. She'd pleaded not guilty like her lawyers had told her. The crown had argued for more time because of other charges pending further investigation. What charges? Her lawyers had tried to get her out on bail. The request had been denied. They were appealing. Where were Janet and the kids?!
"It was okay. I don't know where my partner and kids are," Robbie confessed, surprising herself as much as her cell mate.
"Didn't they show today?" Tracy asked, shifting a bit to get more comfy. She'd got the shit kicked out of her yesterday and she was anxious to try and get Robbie on her side so it didn't happen again.
"She got somebody else?"
"Okay! Easy!" soothed Tracy, holding up her hands. "I was just askin. It happens a lot ya know.
They get sick waitin'."
"Not Janet. We got something special going," responded Robbie, trying to reassure herself as much as Tracy. Tracy nodded and let the conversation drop, returning to her comic book.
Several hours ticked by, Tracy reading and Robbie staring at nothing. Then some guards showed up at their cell. "Williams, you've got a visitor. Marlow, step to the back, Williams place your hands on the back of your neck and step up to the gate." Tracy gave the guard the finger from behind her back and walked slowly to the back wall to lean on the sink. If they think that having her put her hands on the back of her neck is going to protect them then they're fools! Tracy thought, watching with interest as one guard put chains on Robbie while the other stood by watching.
Robbie's stomach fluttered; maybe it would be Janet. She really needed to see Janet. They lead her through the corridors and up and elevator and finally down a hall to a small room. It was divided in half with a counter and thick glass partition. To Robbie's surprise and disappointment a stranger stood on the other side. She was tall and well built, with dark curly hair cut short. Intelligent blue eyes met Robbie's as she entered and watched her as she moved over to the partition.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Alberta Pateas. I'm with the forensic department. Janet sent me," said the woman.
"Where's my family?!" asked Robbie, her eyes flashing with concern.
"They're okay. They're at my place. Sit down. We need to talk," responded Alberta. They stood looking at each other for a few seconds, weighing each other up. Then Robbie looked away, broken and took a seat. Alberta didn't feel a winner. Just some one with an unfair advantage; she sat.
"Janet got worked over pretty good by a couple of skinheads that live in your building," Alberta said, and watched the colour drain from Robbie's face to be replaced by white anger. The prisoner leapt to her feet and smashed herself against the wall screaming in anger. The guard came running in. Alberta stood and watched helplessly from the other side as Robbie cried.
"Leave her!" Alberta ordered. "She's okay. She just got some really bad news, that's all. Give her a chance, for God's sakes." The guard hesitated, looked again at Robbie who seemed to have calmed some, and then shrugged. He went to stand outside the door again, watching closely through the window.
"How bad is it?" asked Robbie, her face against the wall.
"She'll be okay. Three cracked ribs, cut over the eye that took three stitches and a concussion. I'm going to see the boys are charged. They're the teenage sons of some wealthy right wing business executive. They're spoilt rotten and looking for a cause.
"They weren't there at the time. The incident happened at the end of your driveway while Janet was on the way to the court house," responded Alberta. " I had the police go and pick your children up. I wasn't sure how secure your place was with the boys living in the same building...They're safe now at my place. Sort of under semi police protection." Alberta added, trying to lighten the situation.
Robbie was silent for a few seconds as she tried to get her emotions under control. Then she walked over and sat down, looking up to met the woman's eyes who had also resumed her seat.
"No problem. They're a nice family. Ryan was really upset. I had to let her stay with her Mom. She just wouldn't let go of Janet.
Ice blue eyes looked up. "Ryan's my daughter, " she said quietly.
"Oh," frowned Alberta, "She calls Janet Mom, so I thought Reb must be yours."
Robbie looked down at her manacled wrists. "Maybe that's for the best."
"Janet sent you a note. Here it is," stated the woman, pushing the letter through the slot. Robbie took it in her hand and held onto it tightly. "She sent some books for you too. The guards will bring them down once they've been checked over," she finished awkwardly.
Alberta swallowed. She wasn't used to dealing with emotion. Her work was objective, scientific and when the dead spoke it was in sign language, the screams long gone with their lives. "Look, I need to talk to you. I know you are lying. I want you to tell me the truth."
Robbie looked up slowly from the letter, her emotions now masked behind still, hard muscle.
"I made my statement. I've nothing else to say," she spat out.
Alberta sighed in frustration. "At least answer this. Are you left or right handed or can you use both equally well?"
"I'm right handed."
Alberta looked at her. Now was not the time to push, she decided. She got up and signaled to the guard who watched through the window. "You need to change your mind about talking."
"I won't," Robbie responded. Alberta frowned and turned to leave. "Alberta?"
The doctor looked back. "Thanks," said Robbie again.
"I'll see that nothing happens to them, Robbie."
Robbie nodded as the guard took her elbow and led her back to her cell.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Bates! The crown's got a water tight-case here! Damn it, she admits to hitting him and covering up his death. We have a witness that saw her bury the body. What do you want? A trail of blood to her door step?" yelled the police officer, pacing as best he could inside Tom Bates' small and over crowded office.
The scientist sucked happily on the cold pipe. "I told you at the time, not to be too quick to pick her up. Now you've got a charge that you might not be able to make stick," he mussed.
The homicide officer stopped his pacing and leaned over the desk. "Oh, I'll make it stick alright!
With or without your help!" he snarled. "We found an old letter at Robbie's that she had sent to her mother just after the murder. In it, she said she hated her father and wouldn't be at the memorial service because she hoped he rotted in hell! Now what do you think about that, doctor?! The officer didn't wait for an answer. He stormed out of the office, almost side swiping Alberta as she walked towards the door.
She looked into her friend and mentor's office with a worried frown. "Come in, Alberta," the old man invited cheerfully. "And close the door."
"Are we in trouble, Doctor?" Alberta asked, moving aside a dried, weathered bone that had been left on the only other seat. Male coxa, Alberta identified to herself out of habit. An old guy by the look of things. She placed the human bone carefully on an already over crowded shelf and sat down on the now empty chair. She didn't understand how Bates could work in this mess. Her domain was fanatically ordered and neat.
Bates didn't answer for a bit. He had put down his pipe and now he was playing absently with a jar that contained the remains of a severed hand in formaldehyde. It had been partly dissected.
"This hand is from one of the victims in the restaurant shooting last week. I'd like you to render it down to the bone and have a look at it. I'd like your opinion, Doctor."
"Yes, Sir," responded Alberta, taking the jar that was pushed her way. "What am I looking for?"
A quick smile flashed across the worn face and devilment danced in pale eyes as Doctor Tom Bates picked up his cold pipe again and leaned back in his chair. "Now, telling would spoil the surprise!" he laughed. Alberta smiled. He really was an old bastard!
For a second, Bates content himself sucking on the stem of his pipe, a thoughtful look on his face. "Yeah, the police are not happy with us. We've rather thrown a monkey wrench into their case."
Alberta leaned back and stretched out her legs crossing her ankles. "Don't they want to catch the right person?"
Bates wiggled his eyebrows. "They think they have. The examination of human bones is not an exact science. For all our little charts and graphs in the end you rely on the gut feelings of the forensic examiner. Lawyers throw fits when you answer that you've looked at a thousand bones and this one just wasn't quite right." The old man laughed enjoying his little joke.
Alberta smiled. What he said was true. You even got used to the bones of the general population that you worked with. If you had to deal with another culture's different bone structure, you were at a disadvantage because you sometimes missed the subtle differences.
"I've talked to Robbie Williams," Alberta confessed.
"And?" enquired an amused boss.
"Her statement is a lie. I'm sure of it. But she wouldn't tell me the truth. I tried to talk to her spouse but I arrived just in time to see two skinheads pounding the stuffings out of her."
The pipe popped out of Bate's mouth and he leaned forward. "Is she alright?"
Alberta nodded. "I put the boots to them. Janet's got a bad concussion and is not real clear of things yet. She's at my place. So are their kids."
Bates closed his eyes and shook his head. "Why is it, Al, you can't just practice the science of forensics? Why must you always get personally involved? If you must solve cases single-handedly, join the police force and train as a detective!" Bates sighed.
Alberta's jaw moved but she didn't respond. It was not a question she was comfortable answering, even to Doctor Bates. It revealed too much of who she was. "It just happens," she justified instead.
Bates looked at her, then decided to let the matter drop. Alberta was young, brilliant, idealistic and driven by some inner demon. Over the years, he'd learned that it was best not to go looking for demons in others.
"Whatcha readin?" asked Tracy, coming back from making use of their loo.
"A book on Greek architecture, that my wife sent," responded Robbie moodily.
"Ain't you high bred! Give me a good old super-hero comic book any day!" the con snorted.
"Same thing," muttered Robbie.
"Same thing," she repeated, sighing as she rolled off her bunk. She just wanted to be left alone to try to deal with the news that Alberta had brought. But it would be stupid not to take an opportunity to get Tracy on her side. Tracy could be bad news and Robbie didn't think she was above sticking a knife in her ribs while Robbie slept.
"Oh yeah," scoffed Tracy.
"No. Look," said Robbie, shifting over with some books to sit beside Tracy on her bunk. "See, here is a picture of a male Greek sculpture."
"Ohhh, nice cut," moaned Tracy.
"Exactly! The ancient Greeks set the standard by which we judge the male body. Because of the nature of marble, their figures tended to have a foreshortening of the limbs which emphasized the chest muscles even more. Now look down here," said Robbie, pointing to the spot where the abdomen met the hip bone. "See how the abdomen muscle extends over the hip bone. That's called a Greek Fold. The ancient Greeks thought it was a sign of a well developed body and it was greatly admired."
"I'm admiring! Them Greeks were really hung, huh?!"
Robbie rolled her eyes. "The fold, Tracy," she reminded the woman.
"Oh, yeah the fold."
"It's actually a genetic trait and only 20% of males have it. No females do. Okay, now look at the picture of Adam here in Michelangelo's painting in the Sistine Chapel," said Robbie, flipping through another art book. "See the bunchy muscles, the foreshortened limbs, the Greek fold....same style."
"You mean, Michelangelo copied some ancient Greek!" exclaimed Tracy, taking the book and looking at the picture closely. "He didn't copy the dick. That thing's puny."
"The artists of the Renaissance, really all artists, learned their anatomy by copying the works of the ancients because nude modeling was considered a sinful act. So they picked up the style," explained Robbie.
"So?" asked Tracy, tossing the book back having lost interest.
"So, artists still do that. Look at your Batman comic here. Bunchy muscles, foreshortened limbs, Greek Fold; three thousand years later and our concept of how to draw the human form has stayed the same."
"Hey, cool, Batman's Greek! Hey, look, so is Superman!"
"Modern day cartooning has very close parallels with classical work. Look at the dramatic, heroic movements in your comic. They look just like the figure in this Greek frieze of a battle."
Robbie, feeling that she had made a point, took her books and went back to her bunk. Tracy looked for a long time at her comic books, flipping from page to page and book to book.
"Tell me something else," she demanded at last.
"About my comic books," snapped Tracy, impatiently.
Robbie took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. If she stayed locked in here much longer they could convict her of Tracy's murder!
"The Greeks established theater as an art form. Our concept of the hero is very much that of the ancient Greek hero," Robbie explained patiently.
"Aha. Take the original Herakles. Not the T.V. show or the cartoon. Herc has all the four elements of a Greek hero," pointed out Robbie. I'm lying on a damn metal cot in a cement cell lecturing some Joe killer about dramatic form! I think I've lost it!
"So are you going to tell me what the four things are!" growled Tracy, interrupting Robbie's thought.
"Oh, sure, sorry. An unusual birth or childhood, super-human ability, tortured soul and a need to help others," listed Robbie. "Look at Herakles. He has the unusual birth alright. His mother is a mortal and his father is Zeus. And he has unnatural strength that makes him a super-human. His soul is tortured because he killed a man, that's why he had to do the twelve labours as a punishment. And he was always going around doing good deeds to get noticed by his father. He is a classic Greek hero."
"Well, take a modern day hero...ahhh..."
"Xena!" suggested Tracy, with an evil grin.
Robbie rolled her eyes. "Okay, Xena. Unusual birth? Maybe, if she is the daughter of Ares. Certainly she had an unusual childhood because her father tries to kill her. She has super human strength, so the second criteria works. Tortured soul? You bet. She kills half the Greek nation at least once a week and always regrets it. And she has this need to help others."
"Hey! That's cool!" exclaimed Tracy. "Do it for one of the comic book guys!"
"Okay. Superman, unusual birth because he comes from another planet. He's an alien. He definitely has super powers! He has the tortured soul thing because he has to live a double life in order to be accepted. I bet he hates being Clark Kent. And of course, he has an almost pathological need to help others. He's a regular boy scout."
There was silence for a minute. "Do Batman."
"No! Let me read!" snapped Robbie. Tracy went back to her comics and when Robbie thought she was asleep, she pulled out the letter again that Janet had sent.
I'm so sorry I wasn't there in court for you, Robbie!
You warned me to be careful and I wasn't. I will be from
now on! Don't worry, the girls and I are all right. We are
staying for the time being with Alberta until I feel better.
She's really nice and the girls like her. She stopped the
guys who were beating up on me and then just took over and
saw to things. She's great! We'll be all right now, I promise.
I'm going to get you out, Robbie. I won't stop until I do.
I love you. I love you. I love you. Don't forget that.
She read it a few more times and then folded it carefully and stuck it back into her bra. Tears rolled down her face; she felt like she had lost everything she ever wanted in life.
Brian McGill placed his hand on the small of Gwen Smith's back to reassure her as they waited for the guard to let them through the barred gate. "This place is awful!" muttered Gwen, just loud enough for Brian to hear.
"Yeah," he responded, his voice strained with worry and fatigue. It had been a hell of a spring. First there was the stress of Gwen's marital break-up, and then the confusion and frustration he was experiencing in his feeling towards Gwen and now the extra burden of Robbie's arrest. All hell was breaking loose at the office.
They were led by the guard into a room divided by a counter and a glass wall. They sat down on the metal folding chairs and waited. After a while, a door on the other side opened and Robbie was escorted in. She wore an orange cover all and her hands and feet were chained and linked to her waist. Her face was lean and her eyes haggard. Gwen did her best to stifle the gasp of shock that escaped her lips.
Robbie shuffled over and sat down. Her smile was thin and brittle. "Hi, guys. Thanks for coming." The blue eyes moved to Brian. "How is it going?"
"Shares are down in the video, special effects and production companies. Your other interests are holding their own because no link has been made to you yet. The investors are complaining but so far have not taken any legal action. The films making too much money for them to worry about any splash effect from the bad publicity."
Robbie smiled cynically. The eyes turned on Gwen. "Well?"
"Lots of calls, Robbie. Three companies want permission to do made for T.V. films on your story. I declined on your behalf. Most of the CEO's of your companies have touched base. They're pretty nervous."
"Afraid the green buck well might dry up?" Robbie asked bitterly.
Gwen let it pass; after all she was right to feel bitter. A lot of feeder companies made their money off of Robbie's drive, talent and success. "I've got those forms for you to sign." Gwen folded them so that they would fit through the slot at the base of the glass. The guard came forward and took them away from Robbie.
For a second, the old spark flashed across her eyes, then the blue dulled again in defeat. "My censor board will have to approve my reading material first," she joked sarcastically. "I'll get them back to you as soon as I can."
Gwen nodded. "We've been to see Janet and the kids."
The blue eyes flashed up. "Is Janet okay?" Robbie asked earnestly.
Brian grimaced. "She's pretty banged up, Robbie. They kicked her about the face and chest. She's still really swollen and sore but she and Alberta both said that the doctor felt Janet would be fine. She hopes to visit in the next day or two as soon as the ribs will let her. She's in a lot of discomfort."
Robbie nodded, her jaw moving under the pale skin. She said nothing.
Gwen laughed. "Ryan has decided she is going to be a detective now!"
Blue eyes flashed. "No she is not! She's going to get her doctorate in physics like her aunt!"
Brian and Gwen exchanged looks. "Oh," the secretary responded noncommitally. Time to change the subject, she thought.
"I've been searching through the files. The name of the crown's witness rang a bell with me and I thought I'd just check it out. Isabella Selo is the daughter of a gardener that worked on the Williams' estate. That's why she was around and saw...well, what she was," stumbled Gwen. She went on quickly, "Last year, she wrote asking to be president of your official fan club. We turned her down nicely, explaining that you already had an official fan club."
Robbie sneered. "A disgruntled fan."
"It appears so. I told Janet, and she is going to pass the information on to your lawyers. They might be able to use it to discredit the witness."
Robbie shrugged and said nothing. They talked about business after that, avoiding anything about the case.
Two days later, Robbie was again taken upstairs to see a visitor. To her surprise, she was searched this time. Then she was taken to a different room. The room held only two wood chairs placed side by side in opposite directions. The chairs were bolted to the floor. Janet sat in one.
She rose stiffly, a look of shock and worry on her face, as Robbie shuffled over and stood looking down at her. The guard waited by the door, watching. Robbie's face was cold and masked of feeling, her lovely eyes dull and lifeless.
Janet stepped closer and wrapped her arms around the stiff figure, holding her tight' feeling the chained hands separating their bodies. After a seconds delay, Robbie's head lowered and rubbed against Janet's. Janet looked up to see eyes filled with pain. "I love you, Robbie," she whispered before hard, demanding lips met hers.
Janet pulled away from the kiss. It had not been tender or loving, just demanding and crude. This was not the Robbie she had fallen in love with. This was the old Robbie, cold, ruthless and commanding. "Ahhh, ribs hurt. Sorry. Can we sit down?" she muttered, not wanting to get into an issue with her lover when their time together was so limited.
"You okay?" asked Robbie in concern, showing emotion for the first time.
Janet nodded, tears welling in her eyes. "Robbie, Alberta knows you are not telling the truth. Please, hon, you have to!"
Cold blue eyes looked up. "You've never called me, hon, before."
"What?!" asked Janet, startled by Robbie's reaction.
"So who is your hon, Janet?"
Janet's face reddened in anger. "That was not called for, Robbie," she said quietly. Then went on trying to keep her temper in check. "Reb asks about you. She can't understand why she can't phone you whenever she wants."
"And Ryan? I hear she calls you mom, now," commented Robbie, looking at a corner in the room.
"Ryan is really having trouble with this, Robbie. She is feeling very insecure. She's afraid she has lost you and that I'll abandon her. She is trying to strengthen the bond with me in the hopes that won't happen. She is a very scared child, Robbie, with a lot of baggage," Janet explained softly.
Eyes burned bright blue. "You think I don't know that!?" Robbie snapped.
Janet swallowed and wiped the tears that had over flowed away with her hand. "I tried to contact Elizabeth but so far I haven't been able to get through."
"Leave Bethy out of this!" commanded Robbie.
Janet looked into the ice blue eyes that once shone with love. "I will do anything for you, Robbie, except let you rot away in here for something you didn't do."
"Read my statement, Janet. I did it!"
"Alberta said you didn't and Gwen has proof that the witness could be no more than a disgruntled fan."
"Fuck Alberta!" snarled Robbie, getting up. "Or do you already!?"
Janet got to her feet awkwardly and slapped Robbie across the face. Then she walked to the door and slammed out. Robbie let a smirking guard lead her back to her cell.
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