Breaking the fourth wall: the twins and Caroline
Breaking the fourth wall: the twins and Caroline.Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, but belong to their respective owners.
"I believe that's the term for the feature when a show's characters interact with the audience..." Connor determinedly shook his head. "No. No, I refuse to think about it – Helen must've messed with you somehow, and-" Connor froze. He and Caroline had reached Caroline's car, and two twin girls, three to four years of age, were looking back at them.
"Well," Caroline said slowly, looking actually rather frightened than her usual for the first time during this encounter. "The one on the left is Bernice, and the one on the right is-"
"Hi! I'm Rebecca but you can just call me Becca!" the twin on the right spoke with a precocious-ness that Connor remembered all too clearly from the time when he was of that age. "Are you our daddy?"
"Becca!" both the other twin and Caroline exploded on her. "Are you listening to yourself-"
"Excuse me," Connor said as smoothly as he could as he thrust the fast food take-out into the car, "but this is for you two. Your mommy and I we need to talk about something for the moment."
"Are you going to fight?" Bernice asked with dark, but alert eyes.
"No," Connor said truthfully, "but we are going to argue, sorry."
The twins exchanged enigmatic looks. "Okay!" Rebecca Steele said brightly. "Mommy and Auntie Salome argue all the time and that's not a problem. Good luck!"
"Brat," Caroline said with a small but fond smile, before catching Connor's eyes and sobered up quickly once more. "Let's go and argue, then."* * *
Connor and Caroline walked a short distance away from the car (the twins were watching them even as they bit into the hamburgers and fries) and sat down.
"Well?" Caroline asked nonchalantly. "You want to say something?"
"You turned me into my father!" Connor exploded. "Well, almost, I suppose, since I didn't neglect them – I just abandoned them, apparently! How did that happen?"
Caroline was silent. "Connor, do you remember the time when I brought you home? Before you sent me a text message saying that we were breaking up?"
It was Connor's turn to fall silent and remember that day.* * *Despite his initial reservations, dates with Caroline were quite fun. Sure, she did like jewellery quite a lot (but what girl doesn't, aside from Abby?) and her clothing was pricy, but still nowhere near Lester's or Jenny's range, and frankly, it just made her look nice – and as any red-blooded man, Connor was very appreciative of good-looking women.
("Connor, it sounds like you were considering me your arm candy!"
"Sorry, Caroline, but I wasn't cheating on you, and besides when it came to women, I was dumb, and am still dumb. Where was I?")The dates themselves were not very scary as well – Connor had a somewhat limited range of ideas when it came to taking girls out – but so far the Natural History Museum, the planetarium, etc were quite successful. Movies – especially the time-tested classics such as the Star Wars series – too proved to be quite successful, but tonight...
"Connor, hi!" Caroline said cheerfully.
"Hi," Connor nonchalantly replied. "What's up?"
"Connor," Caroline said with a certain insecurity that did not usually suit her, "you know how you usually take me places?"
"Yes?" Connor said warily, realizing that something new was in the wind. "I thought you liked them, too?"
"Yes," Caroline nodded, "but I want to take you out tonight – to my home."
"Won't your parents mind?" Connor's eyebrows rose up and he was extremely pleased that Abby did not hear this (why was he thinking of Abby? She was not even his girlfriend!)
"Why, Connor, do you live with your parents at this age?" Caroline asked, teasingly.
"Of course not!" Connor protected quickly, "but that's not what I asked, either!"
"Ah, well don't worry," Caroline actually looked depressed. "They're dead."
"Say what now?" Connor stared.
"Went as tourists to Turkey – food and alcohol poisoning," Caroline twitched. "I really don't want to talk about it, please."
"Well, if it makes you feel better – my father's an abusive bastard whom I hope never to see again for as long as I live," Connor suggested weakly. "Does it make it better?"
"Some," Caroline nodded. "Thanks for the attempt to cheer me up, Connor." She walked to the young man and kissed him for his first time ever.
("Yes, that was the first time when a girl - a woman other than my mother has kissed me."
"Oh!")* * *
"And that was just the beginning," Connor said with a small smile. "That was the best night of my life ever...and I have forgotten about it completely – even before we had to deal with the giant scorpions of all things! What is wrong with me? I mean, I am not that stupid – forgetting that night on top of suddenly developing amazing technology skills out of scratch – should have tipped me off..." He paused. "And speaking of tipped off, that was just one night! A very long and enthusiastic night, but still-"
"As my mother said once, 'once is all it takes', referring to me in her peculiar way, of course," Caroline grimaced. "And it was only after the incident with Leek's toxic petting zoo that I realized that my period was late."
"And by then you broke the fourth wall while I didn't," Connor sounded thoughtful. "It's a funny thing, you know? I remember riding off with Abby, Nick and Jenny to deal with some time anomaly related emergency, but the next thing I remember meeting Sarah Page in the Natural History Museum – everything else is a blank."
"That I am not sure of, but what I am sure off," Connor said firmly, "that I owe you and your girls a lot. I remember you owning quite a bit of property dedicated to breeding dogs – can I help you out with common labour or something? That is to say, if you don't already have a stropping bloke or a husband to do that-"
"No," Caroline shook her head. "I didn't want a stropping bloke or a husband – I wanted you. But, I was too afraid to go back and to confront you there: Leek smirched me too deeply with his lies about you being an untrustworthy government agent for me to hope for anything good and with your blonde friend-"
"Don't," Connor shook his head, registering at the back of his mind that as far as the term 'friend' went, this was not a bad classification for Abby back then. "We'll figure it out as we go along – if you will have me after all the crap I pulled in Leek's captivity and so on behind the fourth wall."
"Deal!" Caroline grinned eagerly, and the pair shook hands.
High above them and far away to the west was the distant sound of thunder...* * *
When the twins see Connor return with Caroline to the car, they're very happy, to put it lightly. "So, you are our daddy?" Rebecca pipes up again, causing her sister and her mother to turn red.
"Let's just say that I'm staying for as long as your mother wants me to, and that's that," Connor replies, matching her tone, "that said, is it healthy for you to eat so much junk food?"
"We have it only rarely, sir," the other twin – Bernice – says in a much quieter voice than her twin does. "Sorry."
"That's okay," Connor quickly backpedals, "and don't call me sir. That is what my father de-manded of me, and believe me, that was one man you do not ever want to meet. Ever!"
"Okay," Bernice says, clearly relieved that he is not going to press his point, and so's Caroline. "So are you coming with us?"
"Yes!" the others reply at once and both of the adults blush because of it.
Rebecca just giggles.
High above and far away to the west there is a faint peal of thunder.* * *
Caroline's dog breeding compound is impressive, and her assistant Salome (whose folks were a bit too fond of Oscar Wilde, Caroline tells him) is also intimidating. "And who are you?" she asks Connor rather sourly.
"Daddy!" Rebecca speaks before anyone else can – she really is precocious. "Just as mommy told us all those times!"
"Really?" Salome levels her glare at Connor – if he had not been used to be glared at by women of all possible ages, he would be really cowed. "And where have you been all this time?"
"Behind the fourth wall, it seems," Connor sighs. "And I honestly don't have any better explanation."
"Humph!" Salome snorts. "You and Caroline...you're a real matching pair of nut jobs, you know?"
"Hey!" Surprisingly, it was Bernice who speaks up, and not her twin. "Don't call them that, auntie Salome! That's rude!"
Judging from the looks of the others, this is not typical for the more subdued twin. "Right," Salome replies after a brief pause, "so you know anything about computers? You know that whole infernal Microsoft Office™ thing?"
"Yes," Connor gives her a look in reply. "I believe that I have a good idea regarding how it works."
"Splendid, 'cause neither me nor the boss lady do – well, not really," Salome actually beams. "As far as I am concerned – you're hired!"
Caroline just rolls her eyes as Connor stares at her in mute wonder: is her assistant for real?* * *
As a matter of fact, and to quote Yoda, for real Salome is. She may be blonde, and she's built like a brick wall, with a very prominent figure (and Connor is a heterosexual male, he can't quite ignore such facts of life though he does best to try) and she's loud, but both twins know that she's a good person, as can be seen on their baby pictures – unlike Connor, who is noticeably absent.
I, and Abby, and the rest of the ARC have constantly sought to save the world, but somehow, in face of such simple, humane pictures, such a lofty goal seems hollow, Connor forlornly thinks, when someone tugs on his leg.
"So, what do you think?" Bernice says shyly, while her twin looks slyly on.
"I think," Connor quickly reacts, "that when you two were hairless, you were even harder to tell apart than now."
"No duh!" Rebecca laughs, and even Connor can notice clear notes of relief in her voice, "only mom and auntie Salome could distinguish us back then, and sometimes not even they – daddy, are you okay?"
"Mostly sorry that I wasn't around to help them out with you two," Connor exhales, "but I'll try better in the future, I'm sure."
"Glad to hear that," Salome makes an appearance. "You like grilled chicken, fried rice and salad for dinner? Because that's what we're having tonight."
Connor, who is hungry on top of everything else, just nods.* * *
The dinner is relatively tense but nowhere near hostile, and the food is good, Connor decides – he had not had a cooked meal since he moved away from Tom and Duncan and stopped cooking, period.
"You really cooked, once?" Caroline asks once Connor tells them that, genuinely surprised. "Seriously?"
"Not once, but relatively regular, I and Duncan both – Tom usually managed to get out of it," Connor nods. "What can I say? When there are three bachelor blokes under one roof and take-out can get either real pricey or real tedious very quickly, so something had to be done."
"Now I'm won over for good," Salome grins. "Knows computers and cooking? You're my type of a man, Temple!"
"That's... nice," Connor says weakly. "That's nice, right?" he pulls himself together and asks Caroline, though somewhat weakly, who just grins a little for the first time since the two of them had run into each other and nods.
Dinner does go slightly smoother after that breakthrough, though.* * *
"So, that's your office?" Connor asks once the dinner is over, and Caroline promptly tells him to go with her to access his computer and paperwork-related skills. "Looks a bit Spartan, but it's your call."
"I prefer to call it professional," Caroline corrects him, "and anyways, can you carry out the following instructions?" She puts a typed-up list of commands related to Excel and PowerPoint to Connor.
Connor suppresses an urge to roll his eyes to prevent karma biting him in the butt at the least appropriate time for the instructions were quite, quite simple for someone of his level. And then he remembers how Philip's instructions were once quite simple and he managed to mess up, almost killing Philip and Rex at one go, and lowers his confidence level a bit and began to follow them rather explicitly.
Since the instructions are simple for someone of Connor's knowledge, he manages to accomplish them rather quickly and presents the finished database to Caroline's inspection. "So, is it up to your standards?"
"Yes," Caroline quickly replies, grinning. "Connor, it may be presumptuous of me to say that, but – welcome home?"
Home... Now there is loaded word for Connor – never before it has sounded so good. "Thanks, Caroline," and Connor hugs her. "It's good to be home – especially when you didn't know you had one."
Far away to the west thunder shakes the sky. Far closer to home, the Anomaly Research Center still stands behind its 'wall' impassively against the sky.TBC