4 Key Secrets
A/n: So, sorry this is so long in coming, I hit wall a few more chapters in, and want to rewrite, but until recently I didn’t know what to do so I've been procrastinating. After reading this great fic that stopped about four years ago with one more chapter to go I decided it really annoyed me and I should finish my own work.
Also I am in the middle of editing, a bunch of stuff is going to be taken out so if I happen to post something that says "amended" you know its because I edited or plan to. Such as removing Percy Jackson from the lineup of crosses. Also I had other bits featuring Cal Lightman, who is featured in this chapter, but I decided this is going to be the only time we see him. Thus I need to rewrite a chapter or two. I don't own Lie to Me or Cal Lightman, they are from Fox.
P.S. for those who've been wondering about the history of the Eppes family and how exactly Don met his wife, yadda, yadda, there is a between book in the works that explains everything, making Weiss Xander more like the prequel and this new story the first in the main series.
"Where are your brothers?" John asked the teenagers sitting at the table doing summer homework. Since the school had been destroyed, the Sunnydale High students had been fostered off to the elementary and middle schools. However, since the youngest of the Eppes twins had just opted to go to the exclusive private year-round school instead of public school, they didn’t get the luxury of a free summer.
Connor Eppes looked up, then glanced at his twin sister Dawn. "Last I heard, they were going to give Jack more grey hair."
"They should have been back by now," John said, frowning.
"Like they ever do what they say when they get distracted," Dawn muttered as she chewed on the end of her pencil.
"Like they really had the capability to take us anywhere for our birthday," Connor argued with his sister. "They were a little kidnapped."
"Are we really fighting?" John asked, looking between the siblings. Honestly, sometimes having so many twins in one house was like being at the UN.
Dawn pouted, much like her redhead brother.
"See, you did get something for your birthday," John said with mock cheer, "Aya taught you how to pout."
"And how to glare came from your sister," John said, walking away.
The twins looked at each other, shrugged and went back to their homework.
From the entryway into the living room Graham watched the teens with a frown.
"That is very distracting," a corporal muttered as Aya walked across the camp with his jeans in his hand. He was practically covered in mud, suggesting that he had taken off the pants because he couldn't move in them when wet. And though he was male, there was still that feminine quality to his body and he had an ass a coin could be bounced off of with legs to match.
"I'm very jealous of his husband right now," another corporal said, watching the redhead intently.
"Figures that would land a guy," the first corporal said, "What is he, a science geek?"
"Actually, Graham is a former marine," Lorne said from behind the man. "He’s twice your size and very possessive."
The man spun around in shock and a little apprehension.
"And even if he wasn't, think of me as a possessive boyfriend," Lorne continued and smirked when the men paled, nodded quickly and ran away.
"Wow. I didn't know flyboys could lie," Xander said, stepping up next to the god. He looked impressed.
"Can you tell Aya not to walk around half naked?" Lorne asked, folding his arms over his chest.
Xander shrugged. "We're having a hard time with reserves," he explained, "He’s trying to conserve energy."
Lorne looked at the teen, "Are you two alright?"
Xander nodded. "We'll balance out. We just gain a lot of our energy from the population. So not having the extra boost and not having to expel energy like there's no tomorrow takes a little getting used to."
Lorne nodded. "Just tell me if you start feeling sick. You might want to stay for the novelty, but Jack only allowed this because I'm here looking out for your health."
Xander nodded. "We're fine for now. We're no longer at that age where we have to have tons and tons of energy to survive. And I promise we'll get bored soon enough."
Lorne shook his head. "Go help your brother before he decides to run around fully naked."
"That, he would never do," Xander said as he walked away, "Me, on the other hand...."
Lorne rolled his eyes and went back to work.
A few hours later Aya was taking a walk through the forest, waiting for his hair to dry. At this point he probably should cut his hair, but the disguise factor was too much to resist. It was warm enough around to let his hair dry naturally anyway.
A young marine followed him at a good distance. The man was meant to make sure Aya stayed out of trouble, but also because...Well, this was Aya. If there was a creature hidden on this planet, it was a guarantee Aya was going to attract it. Whether it wanted to cuddle or eat him was a fifty-fifty chance.
There was also the chance he would get lost, or find the only hole in the ground or trap on the planet.
"Ow," Aya commented as he sat up from where he had tripped over an exposed root. He looked over his bleeding arm, then picked up a strange bit of bone that was on the ground. Interested, Aya carefully looked over the bone necklace and delicately worked the broken pieces back into place with his fingers. Once finished, he stood and hung the necklace on a bit of exposed broken tree branch.
Brushing himself off, he frowned slightly. Something felt wrong, as if something far away felt a lot of emotion that was very abruptly cut off. Frowning deeper at the mixed high emotions he was sensing, Aya nodded his head in the general direction of where he felt that bigger surge, and jogged toward the area with the marine following.
The others arrived where the young marine stood hunched over, clutching his middle. For a moment Lorne thought the worst based on Aya's guard, especially when they saw the body. Yet Xander blinked and walked up to the man slowly, which was when Lorne noticed a small lump in the sergeant's shirt that was moving.
"Baby claws?" Xander asked the man.
"I've never seen a cat move that fast sir," the man said in a strained voice.
"I once saw a freaked out cat race up a wall," Xander said, carefully unbuttoning the man’s shirt to revel a tiny red kitten sputtering and hissing in fright while digging razor sharp claws into the soft flesh of the marine's stomach. "Of course, the cat was named Aya..."
The man made an attempted laugh, then winced as the kitten bit him.
"What happened?" Lorne asked, choosing to ignore the body for the moment. The smell was horrible to his sensitive nose.
"He had me follow," the marine said, "Didn't see the body at first, just saw him stop abruptly and growl. When I touched his arm, he jumped three feet and the next thing I know, a cat is clawing his way into my shirt like a reverse of the freaking movie!"
"Well, I'm going to try to get him to attach to me," Xander said, "The more freaked out Aya is, the cuter he becomes as a defense. But he's also frightened, so he wants to be small and non-dislodge-able."
"Making it worse," the marine gasped as Aya made an attempt to get away from his twin. He moved toward the poor man’s crotch, reconsidered and then started to claw at the kidneys.
Xander stopped while the marine had skin left. "I think we need either dad or Graham. Depends if this is fried empathy or blind panic. I'm leaning toward the former."
Lorne's insides chose that moment to rebel. Luckily he was able to get away from the others before he was sick all over a bush.
"So, how's it like being half human?" Xander asked with no sympathy what so ever.
"Shut up or next time I'll 'accidently' aim for you," Lorne croaked, then threw up again.
"Maybe you should come back with us and talk to Graham for a bit," Xander suggested, unfazed by the threat. He conjured a stretcher and turned to the marine. "If you lay down, he might loosen his claws a little. I just don't suggest trying to grab him, if he does."
The man contemplated for a moment, then nodded before carefully laying down, holding the baby long enough to settle before letting his arms rest against his sides.
The colonel looked like he had sucked on a lemon, but nodded to two stronger men to carry the marine.
Twenty minutes later the four were through the Stargate and back on Earth. Aya had dozed the further from the body he got, but every jarring motion had gotten the baby claws stuck further into the marine.
The moment Xander was through the gate, he was calling Graham. The blond appeared a few minutes later as the marine was transferred to a hospital bed.
"Sorry, I was consulting on an MRI," the young god said, giving Lorne a curious look.
"Anyone we know?" Xander asked.
"Joyce," Graham answered. "Tumor, luckily we caught it while it can still be removed."
Xander nodded. "Score one for the healer."
Graham smiled. "What’s up?"
"Aya freaked out and he won't respond to me," Xander said, nodding to the bed, "If you don't work, we'll have to get dad."
Graham’s solution was so simplistic, it was comical. He reached out and grabbed Aya by the scruff like a momma cat and lifted. Instantly Aya was docile, his paws and tail tucked close to his body. Then Graham cradled the kitten in the crook of his arm.
Xander stated, "I didn't think of that."
"We had a lot of cats when I was growing up," Graham said with a shrug, “I’m going to find a room somewhere quiet and lay down with Aya. Maybe he’ll change back.”
“Ok,” Xander said with a nod, “We need to talk to Jack and Hammond about Evan here staying with us for a while. He’s having problems adjusting to godhood.”
“It might not be a good idea to go home right now,” Graham said, “Not until we’ve talked first.”
Xander blinked. “Why?” he asked, concerned.
Graham looked uncomfortable for a moment. “There's something going on. I don’t sense anything evil, but there's definitely something going on. I’ll explain when Aya is feeling better.”
Xander nodded. “Ok, well Lindsey wanted me to check out this organization in DC, I’ll do that and go bug Gibbs for a while.” He looked at Lorne, “Wanna scare the normals?”
The blond man rolled his eyes. “As fun as that sounds, I have a report to write, a superior to see, and probably a very long trip to the infirmary I am not looking forward to.”
“So nothing new in your day?” Xander said, smirking.
Graham looked between the two. “Remember to talk to Angel,” he said, then turned on his heel and walked out of the infirmary.
Xander frowned in confusion, then looked at Lorne. Suddenly his face went blank and he vanished without another word.
Lorne stared at the place the teen had been. After a moment he shook his head, deciding he didn’t want to know.
Graham easily found the room Xander and Aya usually shared when they stayed on base for any reason and were not in the infirmary. Now that he had calmed down a little, Aya wasn't as clingy and hissy as he had been, yet had not returned to his normal form. That wasn’t a good sign. Whatever had happened on that planet had scared Aya beyond normal parameters. Especially since he had lost a lot of fear after Adam.
Lying down on the bed Graham laid the kitten on his belly and scratched behind the little ears lazily. He waited quietly, not trying to coax the little redhead back into his human form like Xander would have. While the older twin knew his brother well, there were certain things that were better learned from someone that did not grow up with the person in question. Aya had quirks, just like Xander did. And while he had been empathic all his life, he hadn't had the ability to shape shift. Therefore Xander hadn't been around for the majority of Aya shifting, dependent on how freaked out he was. There was a way to get him to calm down, and usual means did not work.
Being one of the gods of healing Graham knew better than most how to handle with care. It helped with Aya when he was feeling fragile and just wanted to be held.
Being Jedi worthy didn’t hurt either. At least according to one of the obscure conversations he'd had with Xander about who would make a good Jedi out of the group. Graham had been the only one that won due to everyone else being overly emotional or just plan trigger-happy. Teal’c didn’t count only because he wasn't in Sunnydale.
He had a feeling Lorne was about to become the other Jedi of the group.
After a while Aya began to purr, then slowly melted back into his normal form. He wrapped his arms around Graham, and continued purring softly. The blond continued gently petting his husband’s hair, waiting for when he was ready to speak.
“I’ve never seen a human murdered like that before,” Aya said softly after a while. “I thought I felt him die, but it was so swift I barely felt it. But seeing the body….”
“Was overwhelming,” Graham deduced, “Why did you change into your cat form?”
“My guard freaked me out,” Aya said a little sheepishly, “Then there were a lot of people around and it was confusing and scary.”
Graham nodded. “You overloaded a little.”
Aya looked up. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Graham sighed, brushing Aya hair from his face with his free hand. “I'm certain that with our lives, this will not be the last person you see like that. I don’t know what you saw, but I’ve heard stories about your upbringing, so I wouldn’t doubt that you have never seen a dead human before.”
“Will it always be so scary?” Aya asked in a small voice.
“Maybe,” Graham said after a moment. “I think it will depend on who is dead, how they died and if you knew them and how well. Obviously a stranger will not have the same impact as a loved one, and a mutilated body is not the same as someone who died peacefully. Being empathic, you might be heavily impacted by any emotional echoes too, if there are any left behind.”
Aya nodded slowly. “They wanted to warn away the others. That’s why the death was swift. They just wanted to be left alone, for us to leave. That was the message.”
“Whose?” Graham asked, frowning.
“Creatures, Daniel knows,” Aya said shaking his head, “They don’t want war, they just want their lands to remain sacred.”
“Maybe we should tell Daniel?” Graham suggested.
“He'll figure it out,” Aya said, suddenly sleepy, “Nap now.”
Graham smiled a little as the redhead fell asleep. Oh, he would have nightmares later, but for now he was doing better.
Xander entered the office building for a firm called the Lightman Group and looked around with interest. He was determined not to let Graham’s comment about Lorne get to him. Not now, not ever. Forrest had been gone only a few months and Xander wasn't ready to even think that he wasn't the one. He didn’t care what Cupid said, or anyone for that matter. Forrest was his one, and no one was ever going to replace him.
Taking a deep breath, he squared his shoulders and walked up to the reception desk.
“May I help you?” the young African- American woman said politely. She obviously did her job well and knew just the right mixture of doctor’s bedside manner and nurses no nonsense to exert, even as a receptionist.
“I'm here to see Dr. Lightman, if he's free, or to make an appointment,” Xander said, smiling at the woman.
“Your name and what this is in regards to?” the woman asked, taking a slip of paper from a nearby caddy and picking up a pen.
“Xander Eppes, of Eppes Limited. It was suggested that I might want to invest in this establishment,” Xander said.
The woman paused for a moment as if she didn’t believe him, but wrote out the note anyway. “If you’ll wait over there Mr. Eppes, I’ll see if Dr. Lightman is available.”
Xander nodded and went to sit down at the indicated benches.
Five minutes later an older man entered the lobby. He looked slightly annoyed and even less convinced that Xander was who he said he was.
“You're from Eppes Limited?” the man asked skeptically.
“Since I was fourteen,” Xander answered standing. “Well, technically the whole family is Eppes Limited, but Aya and I have a majority control of the company; 'cause you know, not really a company as much as a state of mind. That’s what mom said at least. Are you Dr. Lightman?"
“You are Alexander Eppes?” the man asked, still disbelieving.
“Would you like to see my driver’s license and how much I'm not allowed to drink?” Xander asked, raising an eyebrow. “Or would you like Aya to run around you for a while to prove I’m at least the more adult of the two of us?”
“No,” the man said after a moment. Then he held out his hand. “Cal Lightman. You want to invest?”
“Well, my lawyer said it would be nice to invest in places worth investing, then gave us a list of places to check out. And well, I’m in DC for the day and decided what the hell?” Xander said, following the man down the hall. “What exactly do you do here?”
“We tell people when others are lying,” Cal said.
Xander tilted his head, “So basically you get paid for doing nothing since everyone lies?”
“We tell why someone is lying,” a woman said, joining them on their walk. “Gillian Foster.”
“Xander Eppes,” the brunette said, shaking her hand. “In that case don’t tell anyone, but dad spread a rumor that we can't lie.”
“We?” Gillian asked, puzzled.
“Aya is my twin,” Xander clarified, “He’s a little mental. But in an overly cute sort of way.”
“Mental?” Cal asked.
“Yup,” Xander said, nodding. “So then, how good are you guys at figuring out lies?”
“Very good,” Cal said.
“Maybe I should sic you on my sister,” Xander mused. “Mind if I observe for a little while? See if this place would be a good investment? I mean, Aya will insist on visiting too, but he might over look like if I’m satisfied.”
“No, he wouldn’t,” Cal said.
“He will, if I hold him down and tickle him,” Xander answered.
“That is true,” Cal said, smirking at the teen.
“Big whoop, you figured that one out,” Xander said sarcastically.
“Why don’t we go to the viewing room,” Gillian suggested.
After an hour of watching people lie on camera, he got bored and decided Aya would either love this place or be extremely offended. One thing was certain, he would love to see the faces of these people if he told them he was a god. It'd be priceless.
Unfortunately Don had decided to go the non-disclosure route since most of the fiascos of last summer, so he wasn’t allowed to tell strangers unless they were a) in the know, or b) something themselves. If he asked for permission, he could tell all he wanted.
Oh well, Aya might spill the beans anyway.
Getting into a cab he called Lindsey to draw up some preliminary paper work to invest in the firm, yet Xander was very surprised when the house phone was answered by a breathy sounding girl.
“Hello? Eppes residence?” the girl said as she caught her breath.
“Is Lindsey there?” Xander asked, frowning into the phone. Since when did they have younger children in the house?
“Oh, hi Xander,” the girl said in a dismissive tone, “I thought you were Kevin.” Then there was a yell that made Xander remove the phone from his ear.
When it was safe again Lindsey was telling someone named Dawnie- heavy infliction on feminine- thank you, and the sound of one of the lines being hung up.
“Who was that?” Xander asked curtly.
The confusion could be heard over the line. “Your younger sister Dawn,” Lindsey said slowly. “Are you feeling alright, Xander?”
“Fine,” Xander said, frowning deeper, “Have those papers for the Lightman Group drawn up. I’m spending the rest of the day in DC, and probably tomorrow with Jack.”
“Ok,” Lindsey said, “But I got to warn you Dawn and Connor, well mostly Dawn, are not happy with you two right now. You missed their birthday, and now are to make it up to them.”
“We will,” Xander said, then hung up before he could do something really stupid like ask who the hell Connor was. Thinking, he absently showed his ID to the guard at the gate, then later to the receptionist, who called Gibbs to see if he wanted a visitor.
“What's wrong with you?” Gibbs asked, stopping the elevator on the way back up to the bullpen.
“How many siblings do I have?” Xander asked.
Gibbs frowned. “Five,” he answered, “Sam, John, Aya, Connor, and Dawn. All twins. Any other questions?”
“Yeah,” Xander said, nodding, “I have a good question. Why don’t I remember my youngest siblings?”