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Aberrant: 200X - Shades of Grey [Complete]


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(Read Two Girls first for background.)

*I need some advice….*

Davian took in his sister’s thoughts. Had this been a face to face meeting he might of expected something inane like a dress comparison or how to get back on Mother’s good side this week, but he knew she wouldn’t send to him like this if it wasn’t important. Her thoughts trickled in slow as spoken words and about as informative; once he understood the bent of her train of thought he mentally waved at her.

*Lexy, stop. Don’t talk at me, just think. Remember. Let me see what you saw.*

The stream of thought-words stopped. It took her a moment to relax enough, but she trusted her brother. She knew he’d do anything for her and never hurt her. Davian marveled for a moment at the utter completeness of her trust and wished he could ever believe that of someone else. He picked through the cacophony of her mind, gliding past the stray thoughts that cluttered and the automatic thoughts that kept her heart beating and eyelids blinking. He pulled the entire story of Diamante Pacheco’s college life and death, lingering over small details and learning everything his sister knew of Tiffany, Geneva, and Theodore Roth, just in case.

*Hmn, I think I should pull the cor-*

“Davian? Hey, Davian!”

Davian came out of his sibling reverie to fingers snapping in front of his eyes. He blinked, caught off guard, and looked around. In his attendance to his sister’s suspicions he’d forgotten where he was when she contacted him. Three worried faces were turned to him, and Kenny was kneeling in front of his chair still waving his fingers in front of Davian’s face. “You okay, Davian? You’ve just been sitting there, staring off.”

Davian schooled himself not to show his intense anger at himself for getting distracted. He was sitting in a study room of the library, in public! He shook his head and smiled at the brunette upperclassman that shared his Anatomy class. “Sorry, I just got lost in thought.” He ran a hand through his hair, trying to look sheepish. “With everything going on today, I haven’t even had a chance to talk to my sister or anything. She’s probably pretty freaked out.” He leaned forward in his chair and started gathering up his books into his satchel, willing his study group to believe him. “I should go talk to her. Sorry guys, can we work on the group project tomorrow?”

Kenny glanced over at the others and they all shrugged. “Sure. Since Dr. Ellway made the term project a group thing it shouldn’t take to long. Mind if we divvy up the research and I can just tell you in class tomorrow?”

Davian nodded, “Thanks.” He made his way out of the library, giving himself a moment to calm down before making contact with his sister again. *Sorry about that. I….Well, it doesn’t matter, nothing came of it.* He took a breath and went over her memories and thoughts again, frowning as he walked. *Something is off. I’m not sure yet, but I’ve already got some theories. Could you do a little sleuthing to help me with this? See if Geneva or Tiffany ever tried being friendly with Diamante more than the dress. Perhaps they got her to confide in them. I’ll look up Roth’s trust fund specifics and see when I can get my hands on the coroner’s report.*

Davian paused on the path, unwittingly cutting a handsome pose as he let his eyes wander the sky as he phrased his next sending carefully. *Alexis, what do you want to do with anything we find? You know the Roths. They’re about as touchable as we are.* He waited, shielding his own opinions and thoughts on the matter to ensure her answer was just hers.

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There was a quiet hesitation on Alexis' end before she said, *I think that anything we have needs to be rock solid, or else it won't hold. And even then... the evidence at this point is circumstanial. It wouldn't hold up. He'd get away with it, if we're right.*

Voices intruded and Alexis opened her eyes. Geneva and Tiffany were in the doorway, calling her name. *I'll work Tiffaneva, starting now. Let me know if you learn anything, and ditto for me.* "Hi, guys," Alexis said, waving.

"You ok, hon?" Tiffany asked, coming over to rub Alexis' arm. "We were just coming to see if you wanted to go get a pedicure, to relax."

"I'm fine. I just keep seeing the body," Alexis said, her eyes dropping to the floor.

"That musth have been horrible, like a strung up whale," Geneva laughed. "I'm surprised the rope held."

Alexis saw red, and the rage burned down the link to Davian. Before he could respond, she told him, *It's fine. Really. I'm just mad.* "Yes," Alexis said, choking out a laugh. "Just like a bleached whale." She counted up the money she had left on her card. "Let's get that pedicure. It sounds just about right."

Feeling sick, Alexis began a brainless chatter, imitating Tiffany. Together, the three woman left the room. Geneva and Tiffany never suspected that Alexis' sudden 'improvement' was not an improvement, but an act.

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Sunday, March 22 5:15 AM

Davian stared at the hole he punched in wall, contemplating what he was going to tell the RA once the nervous little Junior made his officious survey of the room at the beginning of the month. His attempt at rationality was subsumed by another wave of incoherent rage. He was standing in the center of the room now, away from furniture, electronics, and flimsy wall studs. Hands clenched until his knuckles groaned in protest and the skin stretched just passed the breaking point.

The wave passed, draining him down to a red simmer. A few sharp thoughts stopped the flow of emotions between himself and his sister. *There's no emergency, Alexis. We need to talk, but in person and away from everyone else. I need to be awake for this, and I can't do that right now.* He took a deep breath, control returning even though his vision was still hazy. *You were right.*

He paced the room, avoiding the computer desk and the three slips of city-stamped paper strewn across his keyboard. Below it was a manila folder with the rules and regulations of Gerald Roth's grand-children's trust funds. Each circuit of the room brought him inexorably closer to the desk, a lodestone of everything Davian hated about humanity, nova or baseline. He finally stopped there, putting the gathered all the papers into the folder without looking at them or letting his mind whirl over the information again.

*Meet me in the quad. We're going for a drive. Don't bring anything breakable.*

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Alexis woke up convinced her brother was in trouble. Rage thundered through him, which could mean that someone had scared him. He tended to become angry when that happened, and Alexis’ one thought was that someone was after him. She was out of bed and out of the window before she heard, *There's no emergency, Alexis.* Relaxing, the raven-haired nova "listened" to the rest of her brother's statement. She stifled the mental groan at her brother's command, but she didn't argue. The emotions pouring from him were enough to make her realize that now was not the time to complain about his pushiness.

Yawning - there was nothing that made Alexis feel tired more than being woken up five minutes before she was ready to be out of bed - the young nova eased out of the half-open window and pulled on clothing appropriate for the outdoors. While she was sure that the paparazzi would love to snap a picture of her in her spaghetti strap teddy and boyshorts, they would have to settle for her Harvard College hoodie and crimson bottoms to her silk pajama set.

Alexis almost went out the window and flew to the Quad, but she stopped when she realized that the damn ‘razzi would be out there. Grumbling to herself, she slipped on her sandals and eased her way out her door.

By the time she was out the front door of the sorority, she looked like Allana Morgan, ARC’s floor mom. The disguise worked; no flash bulbs snapped in the darkness as Alexis walked to the Quad. She was cursing the paparazzi with each step; she could have been there already if they weren’t such jerks!

Davian’s car was idling on the street that flowed by the Quad by the time that Alexis arrived. Her brother wasn’t inside; he was standing next to it, and every line of his body was tense. Alexis didn’t need to check her brain-bump to know that he was still angry enough to start trembling – or to explode. “Hey,” she said before breaking into a yawn. “What’s up?”

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Davian stalked to the other side of the black Maserati Spyder and opened the door for Alexis; even rage could not undo nearly two decades of careful etiquette training. As Alexis slipped into the car he thrummed a question along their bond. *Is it safe here?*

Alexis closed her eyes and searched for quantumn signatures in the area. She ignored the small power plant on the north side of campus, and other than that sensed only herself and the faint signature standing next to her. *We're good.*

Davian nodded, shut the door, and slipped into the driver seat and let himself become awake, as he called it. There were no outward signs of his change, except perhaps a slight relaxation of the muscles in his face and shoulders, but inwardly he felt as though a blanket he always wore about his mind had been removed, exposing him to currents of thought and power that while raw to his sensitive mind held the promise of power far greater than any baseline human would ever be capable of even dreaming of. He reveled in this short flash of invulnerability, letting out a small sigh of pleasure, but the practicality of his personality soon asserted itself.

He scanned the area while revving up the engine of the car and pulling out into the street. There were several pernicious photographers about already, salivating over early morning (or in one case, still late evening) coffee and praying for one money shot of Harvard's pet nova or some insight as to where the Layton twins would be headed so abysmally early in the morning. He pushed on their thoughts, molding them into distraction, napping, or an inexplicable loss of memory on how to operate a motor vehicle.

While he did this, the greater part of his mind that he allowed himself to indulge in usually only on critical tests or in the privacy of his suite at the estate in New York compiled all the information he had obtained on Diamante Pacheco, Theodore Roth, and Alexis' evil twins, Tiffany and Geneva. Those two were returned to him in short order as simply sub-par humans, women with no real grasp of the worth of other people or the magnitude of their selfishness. He would deal with them, but at his leisure and with as much planned humiliation as possible. Roth was another matter.

As he drove them out of Boston and onto narrow, long highways that drove to places people read about in travel books but only foreigners ever actually took the time to visit he handed his sister the information he had dug up or bought over the past few days. "Just skim it; I think you'll get the idea pretty quick." His voice was low and intense, dangerous to Alexis' ears.

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Alexis already knew what she would find in the folder. She wasn’t a precog, or the master private investigator – she had already decided what had happened. She would have been shocked to find out that she was mistaken, had she been wrong.

She wasn’t. The facts were laid out in grainy black and white photocopies, and she rifled through the pages quickly. Rumor, speculation and confirmation of the status of Roth’s trust fund were followed by bios of him and Diamande. Those were followed by the coroner’s report - Alexis didn’t even want to know how he’d gotten that - which were followed by eyewitness reports from the less scrupulous members of Roth’s household of a quiet phone argument between Theo and his older brother. Several key and damning words had been used.

Alexis let the folder fall closed on her lap as she hugged her arms. Had he meant to do it? Had it been an accident, that he’d decided to cover up? Was his eight digit trust fund worth someone’s life? Davian’s file indicated that to Roth, it had been.

There was a moment of silence, with only the sound of the car and breathing. For a moment, the twins’ world spun on a balance point, a moment when things could change, for good or ill. Anything could happen in that dark car.

Alexis finally choose one of the dark paths before them. “So… what do we do?”

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Davian turned onto a dirt path off the highway, the car coasting until it stopped just out of sight of the paved road. The engined idled into a predatory hum and Davian contemplated his better half. He spoke carefully, "Anything we take to the police will be circumstantial, at best. I could give them the truth, but after all the tests and questions and...." He sighed, "After everything, it still wouldn't be admissible in court."

He drummed his fingers on the wheel. "Even if it made it to court, made it to a trial, even if he was somehow convicted, he might see six months to a year in some minimum security prison that's a better standing of living than over half the world's population. We'd expose so much, and he'd get off with little more than a slap on the wrist." He waved at the folder, "I went to her wake, met her parents and siblings. They're absolutely terrified that all this will come out. They ordered the file sealed and are not only refusing to pursue charges against Theo, but badgering the DA's office to let even the preliminary case that they have open drop. They don't want the scandal. It would ruin her sisters' reputations, and two of them are still unmarried."

Alexis could hear the conflict in Davian's voice. He tried to be an understanding, culturally tolerant man, but in his mind Diamant's family had abandoned her and let her murderer walk free simply to avoid letting the world know that their daughter had had pre-marital sex. A declaration that her life was worth less than their reputation. He watched Alexis, wondering how long she would hold on to her unique brand of naivety. "If that's what you want...if you want the public to know what happened and to put Theo through the legal system, we can do that. It won't be easy..." He swallowed, true nervousness at this prospect in every line of his body, but absolute sincerity in his voice, "But it can be done."

He closed his eyes and looked away from his sister, "If you want justice, or revenge, though, then....then you have to decide how much you want to know about what will happen, and how fully you want him held accountable for his actions."

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Alexis was quiet for a long moment in the dark, quiet car. “I don’t know if I could handle it if he got away with it. It would mean that there’s no justice, no right or wrong. Remember when you heard Mom and Dad talking about Santa Claus? And how you said it felt, and so you hid it from me for a few more years?” Alexis’ jaw tightened. “It feels like that.”

Though their link, Davian could hear her pain and anger as she saw a possibility of an unjust world. It had been something that she had known about, something that she had been aware was the case in the world, but she’d never faced it before today. Something inside of his worldly, sophisticated sister needed to believe that the bad guy still got caught.

“If the police can’t stop him, we have to,” Alexis said. Her voice was full of the quiet authority of someone who always received what they commanded. She reached out and placed her hand over her brother’s. “Their hands are tied, and we have to act.”

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His mind was already laying the plans of what he needed from Theo's memories, and what he would need for an appropriate punishment. As was his way, Davian would never touch his fraternity brother, would never be seen or have any reason to be connected with the events that would unfold, and when it came would be Theo's choice how endgame played out. We all live with our decisions. This was not sent to his sister, but simply held within in him as he took upon himself the onus of judge and jury and the responsibility of Theodore Roth.

Davain laced his fingers up through hers and gave her hand a squeeze. "Alright, then. It will take a little time, and I'll need you to check everyone around him for me. This...it...this won't be easy, Lexy. It won't be nice, and it won't be fair, but it will be just. Can you trust me on that?"

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Davian could feel how afraid she was, how much she feared the change that this would bring. If they did this, everything, right down to their relationship, could change forever.

"I'll trust you."

Her voice was shaky as she spoke, but he could feel that she did trust him. It was a fragile trust, easily broken, but there nonetheless. "What is the first step here?"

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Davian shifted the car back into drive and pulled around on the road and back to the highway. "The first thing we do is pack for Ibiza. We leave at three, and there's not much that can be done until after we get back anyways. Theo's spending Spring Break in Cancun with some of the other brothers, and the more he thinks he's safe the easier it will be for us."

He pulled his mind inward again, becoming his lesser self. It felt...small, close, almost enough to be claustrophobic about, but this instinctual trick that had triggered so quickly after he realized what had happened to him and Alexis had preserved his identity as the less interesting Layton twin. "I'll come to you when I need your help, but I want to try to keep you out of this as much as possible. With everyone watching you now, wanting a scandal even more because you're a nova, we have to be careful that no one can track what we're doing."

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Alexis failed to restrained a shudder; in the darkness, as his lesser self, her brother never even saw it. The threat of getting caught acting against a peer would be socially devastating, and that was without the criminal aspects. It could ruin her life.

But if she didn't get caught, it would be a moment to remember, a moment when she had done something to help someone else. And if she was able to pull it off, she'd have done something incredible, something that she'd always dreamed: being a hero.

"We'll do this right," Alexis said softly. "There's no hurry. We can take our time and make it happen."

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