The Lakeview Saga
Disclaimers: This is an original story. All the characters are mine, except for a few I have borrowed from my good friend Mark Orr. This means you cant play with any of them unless you ask for permission. All song lyrics are copyright their respective producers.
This story also contains both general and alternative pairings, though the alternative stuff is definitely a more recurring theme. I promise I wont go into great details.
Dedication: I would like to thank my friends who suffered with me through the intense process of writing this story. We have a long way yet to go, but I couldnt have done it without your encouragement.
Feedback: I always like to know if Im doing a horrible job or if I should win a prize for literature. Please mail all comments to Shannon@dreamingrain.com. If you like my writing, and wish to join my writing group, feel free. The group is located at:
"We have all plowed our acre, Ill swear and Ill vow
For were all jolly fellas that follows the plow."
--Kate Rusby, "Jolly Plowboys"
"What in tarnation?" Jim Bob, a large, pot-bellied man in his late forties, exclaimed, nearly upsetting his coffee. His attention, like that of most of the other diners at this bastion of redneck activity in the small town of Lakeview, was focused on the two men whod just entered.
Jim Bob had reason to exclaim; the two men were certainly nothing like the overall-clad working-class folk who frequented the Possum Diner. They were both big, brawny men, but there was the end of their resemblance to most of the patrons. Both men were dressed in some kind of odd-looking tunics and trousers. Their boots also looked different They looked like they were particularly dirty members of some kind of medieval fair.
Mabel, the diners head cook and bottle washer, turned from the stove where she was flipping flapjacks. "Mornin boys," she said kindly, her eyes crinkling in a smile. "What can I do ya for?"
It was the sort of thing youd expect from Mabel. She was a short woman who, according to her physician was "morbidly obese". (Needless to say, Mabel trusted her physician about as far as she could throw him.) She prided herself on keeping to her true good Christian values by helping anyone in need, and she noticed right away that the two boys looked as if they could certainly use some of her brand of good samaritanship.
The two strangers glanced at each other before the taller of the two spoke. "You could start by tellin us where we are, milady," he said. His accent seemed to be British, though it didnt sound like something out of any movie any of the regulars had ever seen.
"Youre in the Possum Diner, honey," Mabel said. "Yall lost or somethin?"
"I suppose we must be," the man replied, looking extraordinarily puzzled. "Davey an I were just eadin in for a spot o breakfast when we walked in here-but this certainly isnt the Cock and Goose."
Mabel frowned. "Well, be that as it may, I can still rustle up some breakfast. Yall got cash?"
She didnt expect that they would, so she wasnt terribly disappointed by the response she got. "Cash?" the spokesman asked, frowning.
"Yeah. Money. Greenbacks. I know this place looks like a dive, but we certainly dont feed nobody for free."
She shot Otis, the town drunk the hairy eyeball and glared meaningfully at Leroy, one of the regulars. (Mabel did often feed regulars for free. She claimed it was the neighborly thing to do.)
Leroy got the hint, but stifled his chuckle behind the morning paper.
"Of course not," the man murmured. He dug through the small leather pouch he carried and produced a handful of small copper coins. "I dont suppose these will work?"
Mabel examined the coins and shook her head. "Nope. Fraid not. But never you mind Im sure this can get straightened out. Now yall just sit right there and let me get somethin ready."
"Magine that, Jim Bob," commented Leroy. "Neither o thems drunk off their asses."
Jim Bob laughed heartily, and both received a stern glare from Mabel for their troubles. "You boysre pretty damn lucky I let ya sit here an loaf around like you do every mornin."
"Aw, Mabel, you love us," retorted Leroy. "We add to the es-prit de-core." (He pronounced the French horribly, though none of the others noticed.)
The two strange men exchanged nervous glances before taking the chairs the woman indicated.
The diner was silent for a long moment before one of the regulars, deciding that it would be polite to pretend he and everyone else wasnt staring at the two men, quickly said, "So I hear theres sposed to be rain comin in."
"Looks like," responded Jim Bob with a shrug. "Then again, the weather sure has been mighty difficult Edith reckons its El Nino."
"Edith dont know nothin," retorted Leroy. "Them weather channel folks dont know shit."
The weather seemed to spur the regulars into overly loud, heated conversation, giving the two strange men a chance to whisper privately.
"What dyou make o this place, William?" the man who had not done all the talking asked anxiously.
"The people seem friendly enough," William allowed. "I just wish I knew how we got ere in the first place."
"Thatd help," Davey responded with a shrug. "But why didnt ya mention the fog?"
It had been rather harrowing for both men, this fog. They had been walking back from the barn where theyd been feeding their horses when theyd noticed it, a mist that was creeping toward them. The temperature of the air around them dropped noticeably, and they both shuddered, increasing the speed at which they walked.
This had proved useless, however, since the mist had engulfed them anyway. They stumbled around in the sudden, preternatural cold, and then theyd found themselves here, at the door to this diner, standing on some sort of hard pavement that was nothing at all like the board sidewalks that lined the streets of the large city six leagues away from their village. Nor was it the same sort of hard-packed dirt they were used to.
Theyd walked into the building, because it had seemed the most reasonable thing to do. At first, theyd both thought it would be better to explain everything as bluntly and as honestly as possible, but one look at the strangely dressed locals had stalled that plan.
"What point? We look like right loons, Im sure of it," William replied, looking down at the scarred wooden table and tracing some of the letters past patrons had carved there. (J&L, 1993 was the most recognizable mark on the table.)
"Im sure if we watch an listen, well find out where we are," William concluded lamely. He certainly hoped this would be the case.
At that point Mabel came around the counter and set two steaming cups of coffee before the men, as well as two heaping plates of bacon, eggs, and hash browns. "Yall eat up, now," she said cheerfully before turning back to the counter. "Youre both growing boys."
The food was delicious and both men ate greedily until all that remained were their plates, shiny with a new coat of grease.
"Leroy, you reckon you could drive these boys down to the po-lice station?" Mabel suggested, glancing meaningfully at William and Davey. "I reckon Barneyll know what to do with em."
"Sure thing," said Leroy, though it was painfully obvious he didnt relish the idea. "Come on then, yall."
William followed Leroy out, but Davey paused a moment to bow in what was supposed to be a courtly manner at Mabel. (He failed utterly, as he nearly overdid it and fell on his face. "Thanks for the victuals, milady," he said. "Youve been right kind to elp us, you ave."
He took the womans calloused hand and lightly kissed her knuckles, then turned and exited the restaurant.
"Well, I declare," Mabel, commented, blushing like a schoolgirl. "I aint been complimented that much since I was a girl Well, weird or not, those are good folks."
Jim Bob snorted. "Hmph. I dunno that Id go sayin that yet."
"You reckon theyre outsiders?" John MacPherson, one of the newest regulars asked. MacPherson was a quiet man, and he and his three teenaged daughters had recently moved to Lakeview after the death of his wife. He had been one of Mabels strays, someone she looked on with great compassion and kindness. Rumor had it that they were sleeping together, but the rumors were usually silenced by a glare from Mabel and a stern admonition to "Leave that grievin man alone with your stupid gossip."
"I reckon they are," Jim Bob replied knowledgeably. "They dont look like theyre from this world."
"Thats why I sent em to find Barney," Mabel said authoritatively. "He was real good with the last outbreak of Outsiders we had. Got to be friends with quite a few of em."
John nodded. "Well, if thats the case, the boys are in good hands," he said, picking up his Stetson from where it sat on the table. "Well, I got cows to feed."
"You take care, hon," Mabel called as he left the diner, followed closely by several of the other farmers she usually served.
The men went on with their days and forgot completely, for the most part, about the Outsiders.
The ride to the Lakeview police station was silent, except for a bit of a skirmish Leroyd had with both men. Youd think theyd never seen an automobile before. (Of course, since they were Outsiders, they probably hadnt, Leroy reasoned.) Theyd both cried out as the trucks engine roared to life, and had each clutched at the dashboard as if it were a lifeline as the pickup had moved through the early morning streets of Lakeview. Leroy wasnt at all sure what to say to his guests, and neither of the two men was being very talkative. William, after his initial shock at the strangeness of this vehicle, had begun looking at the whole experience as a grand adventure. That was why he was staring raptly out the window at the streets and houses that passed by them at rapid speed. Davey doubted hed be able to distract his brother right now Even though right at the moment he wanted a chance to discuss what theyd do. There was something decidedly unpleasant about being turned over to whatever the po-lice were. They needed to form an escape plan, if at all possible.
Eventually, they pulled up outside a large, formidable building in what was obviously the business district of the city, and Leroy grinned toothlessly at them. "OK, boys. Here we are. Well just see if Barneys in today."
Davey managed not to let out the sigh he wanted to express. It looked as if no escape plan was forthcoming. Resignedly, he followed his brother out of the truck.
The two men followed the truck driver inside the building and up to a desk, where a beefy, middle-aged man sat, already looking harried.
"Can I help you?" he asked, looking as if hed rather do anything but.
"Is Barney in?" Leroy asked. "Figured Id send these two to him they turned up at the Possum, and dont know where they are "
Barney had been a fixture in the city of Lakeview for over ten years. He unfortunately had acquired the nickname Barney Phyfe because he resembled the character from the Andy Griffith show in looks and general mannerisms. Unfortunately, he very much resented the nickname. Mabel declared staunchly that he was a "good man", but none of the rednecks that spent much time in the Possum agreed.
"Odd." The desk sergeant replied, taking a reflexive sip of coffee. "Barneys not in today, though, so hes not gonna be able to help you out much. Figures he wouldnt show up when there was a new outbreak of Outsiders."
Leroy wanted to protest. Two Outsiders would hardly be considered an outbreak. At least they wouldnt by his standards. But since technically he was driving with a suspended licence and tended to trust the police only as far as he could throw them, which wasnt very far, he resigned himself to backpedalling. "Well Like I said, they dont know where they are I figured yall would be the best people to hand em over to. And Barneys supposed to have experience with-that kind of people."
"Ha!" came a new voice. Davey whirled around to see a boy, dressed in the same manner as the man behind the desk, striding toward them, his manner sure and self-possessed. "Barneys a horrible tour guide too mean and whiny. Let me take em. I just came off duty, Sarge."
"Is that-a woman?" William hissed in Daveys ear.
Davey gave the person a closer look. Yes-she was definitely a woman. He thought he could detect the faintest sign of curves, but she certainly seemed to hide them well.
The man behind the desk was speaking. "Fine. You take care of em, Charlie."
Leroy hesitated. "Are you sure she-"
"Yes, Im sure." The sergeant cut him off. "Itll all be OK. Go back and tell Mabel the mission was a success-and tell her to bring me by some of her apple pie. I havent had any of that for a long time now."
"Sure." Leroy turned away and grinned at William and Davey. "It was good meetin you boys. See you some time." He extended a hand, and the two men awkwardly shook it. Apparently, theyd done it wrong, since Leroy looked confused, but then he shrugged and was gone.
"OK, boys come this way." The woman called Charlie said, giving them a reassuring smile. She strode off down the hall, not looking back to see if they would follow.
"Should we?" William mouthed.
Davey glanced from the womans retreating back to the desk sergeant, who was glaring meaningfully at them. "Perhaps so. Were being stared at. There are definitely more of them than there are of us."
This was true. Several of Lakeviews finest were watching the Outsiders curiously.
William sighed resignedly and trotted after the woman, Davey hot on his heels.
The woman called Charlie spent an hour quizzing them about exactly where theyd come from (the farming village of Ketings Hollow), their status in the village (both of them worked their fathers land after hed died of fever two summers ago) and how theyd come into Lakeview (through a fog that had seemed to swallow them up.) Resigned to their fate, the two men answered her questions calmly. What choice did they have, really? Both were holding out hope that Charlie would answer their questions, but at she never gave them an opportunity to voice any of them they realized they were going to have to wait.
Finally she stood. "Look. Its been a year since the last time there were this many foreigners, for a lack of a better word here in town. Unfortunately, this town tends to attract people like you-strangers from this world. The last time we had that kind of influx well, lets just say things didnt go well. Therere a lot of people who would cheerfully kill you because you arent from this world." Her face and expression were grim, and they both leaned forward and regarded her interestedly.
"What?" Davey gasped, looking around as if for hidden intruders.
"If you can read, go to the library and read the papers from a couple of years ago," Charlie suggested. "Youll get an eyeful."
Both library and papers had gone straight over the two mens heads, and they both stared at her with identical questioning looks.
Charlie sighed. "This is going to prove interesting," she commented dryly. "Ill start giving you language lessons later."
"We can speak the language fine," Davey said, confused.
"Never mind. Theres a lot you two dont know about where youve found yourselves. If I had the time, Id go over everything you need to know, but I dont think any of us are up to that kind of lecture, and Im really not sure where to start." She yawned widely and glanced at the timepiece on her wrist. "OK," she said, beginning to pace. "You two will need a place to stay. You got a problem bunking up?"
"What?" William asked for both of them, unfamiliar with her expression.
Charlie sighed and rubbed her temples. Colloquialisms were definitely going to be difficult to teach. "Sharing a bedroom. Theres a spare room at my place my partners brother used to live there, but hes recently gone and gotten married so its free."
"Oh, aye," Davey said quickly. "Weve shared a room and a tent often enough at home. Right, lad?"
William nodded. "True enough," he replied.
"Great!" Charlies pacing had neared her to the door. "Ill be right back. I need to change out of this uniform and into street clothes and then well be off."
Charlie led her two charges out of the stations, and was surprised for receiving only a few stares from her colleagues. Athena Horne, her best friend and sometimes-partner, couldnt resist a gentle jibe. "Have you told Lainey that not only have you switched teams but youre bringing home some of the other players?"
Charlie laughed, a full, rich sound. "Laineyd kill me. You know she would. Anyway, you have a shift to do."
"Dont remind me. Of either of those things. Apparently Im supposed to be partnered up with Smitty. Do you know what he said to me?"
"What?" Charlie loved Athena dearly, but the woman had no sense of the fact that she might be putting people off by yammering at them constantly.
"He actually had the unmitigated gall to suggest that I talk to Bobby White - you know, that evangelical preacher. Said Reverend Bobby would cure my dykeness."
"Honey, not even God himself could do that and you know it," chuckled Charlie.
"So are you going to introduce me to your new friends?" Athena persisted.
"Sure." She turned to the bemused pair behind her and gestured toward Athena. "This is my good friend, Athena. Athena, meet William and Davey." She indicated which was which with a gesture, though she mixed them up.
"Nice meeting you boys," Athena said with a grin that was positively infectious. "So youre new to this world?"
Davey nodded. "We just sort of stumbled here," he replied.
"Thats nice. Well, Charlies a good person. Shell try to make things less confusing for you. But if theres anything you need, anything at all, feel free to contact me."
"We will," William promised.
"Well," Charlie said pointedly. "I just pulled a night shift. Laineys going to kill me because Im already late."
Athena nodded. "Good luck," she said, patting Charlies arm.
Charlie gave her a brief grin then hustled her charges outside.
"What did all of that mean?" Davey whispered to William as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.
William shrugged. "What I want to know is what this towns doin lettin women be constables," he said. "Seems wrong, somehow."
Davey nodded. "Its certainly queer."
Charlies vehicle was smaller and more cramped-looking that Leroys truck had been. It was also festooned with rainbow-colored bumper stickers. William, whod had a little reading, murmured some of the words aloud. "Out and proud", "lesbian pride", "Im here and Im queer", were the prominently featured bumper stickers. However, since Charlie was in such a hurry to get home, he didnt have a chance to ask for an explanation of what the stickers meant.
Davey squeezed into the back seat while William climbed up front, and with another frightening lurch, they were off.
As they drove, Davey glanced sideways at the woman driving the vehicle. She was wearing a fascinating shirt, which had words printed in large letters across the front. "What does it say?" he asked.
"What? My shirt?" Charlie laughed. "It says my friend went to Disneyland, and all I got was this lousy shirt."
"We dont have clothes with printing on them where we come from," William said needlessly.
Charlie grinned. "Well, youll see a lot more printed clothes by the time you leave," she observed.
"I just want to know what Disneyland is," Davey said.
"Its a really expensive place to go on vacation," Charlie replied.
Davey would have asked more; the only concept of vacations hed ever had were times when there was little to do around the farm. But hed certainly never been very far away from his farm, unless you counted right now.
The house Charlie shared with her partner, a term neither man understood, was situated in a block of similar-looking modest homes. Privately, Davey wondered how they could tell which house belonged to which family, so similar did they look. However, he supposed that asking that question of his hostess might be considered impertinent, so he kept his mouth shut.
A short, plump kind-faced young woman with blonde hair and warm green eyes ran down the steps and embraced Charlie warmly. "Im glad youre back," she said, smiling up at the taller woman. "I was starting to worry."
"Im sorry. I meant to call But something came up." She indicated William and Davey, who were awkwardly climbing out of the car. "Theyre Outsiders, apparently."
"Hmmm," the shorter woman said, glancing at them. "They certainly look it."
"I told them they could use Dougs old room for the time being. Figure theyre pretty safe around here, especially since some of the locals still tend to be superstitious of demons being summoned or something."
The other woman laughed. "Demons? In Lakeview! Now, really, whod want to do a stupid thing like that?"
"You never know. At the very least, life for the last batch of outsiders wasnt exactly easy. I figured since we had the room, itd be better than them running around learning just how superstitious this town really is."
The other woman nodded. "I suppose thats a good idea," she conceded. "Anyway you should all come inside Charlie, you look tired."
Charlie hugged the other woman impulsively. "I knew youd understand, sweetheart."
"Yes I do Ill have to get the full story from them later, myself, though."
Davey manfully fought the urge to groan at this latest statement. It was bad enough being talked about as though he wasnt really there, but the idea of going through that whole interrogation again was about as appealing as standing in the path of a runaway bull, wearing red.
The woman stepped out of Charlies arms, smiling at the two men who were waiting awkwardly for direction. "Im Lainey Charlies partner."
The look she shot the taller woman made it perfectly clear exactly what was meant by the term the two were obviously very much in love. Yet another difference between this world and the one theyd come from, Davey realized.
The two men bowed a bit clumsily and introduced themselves. Both did so by force of habit. Neither was quite sure what to make of any of this
Lainey turned and beckoned them into the house and they all followed. Once inside, she bustled about, ordering Charlie to go to bed, and fixing a pot of tea on the stove.
"Ill give you the nickel tour later," she promised. "But you both look done in I figured you should at least relax a bit before we heap any more of this on you."
"Thats right kind of you, maam," Davey said fervently, seating himself on one end of the dilapidated sofa while William chose an equally battered recliner.
Lainey joined them on the couch, but did not press them for much information, for which they were both grateful. The three merely drank their tea in companionable silence
A silence that was abruptly shattered by an unholy shrieking that was coming closer and closer to their house
Continued in Part 2
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