Swans Crossing: The Return

by Stephanie Blydenburgh

©Stephanie Blydenburgh (1997 &1998). Additional Copyrights: "Make it Light" ©1997 Alicia Lazaraus "Moving to Brazil" storyline ©1997 Miss Swan "Hold You Up", "My Love", "Cross That Line", "Vision in Polka-Dot Pink", "Over You", "Gotta Grow Up", and "Talking Sweet" ©1992 Heliosphere Productions and/or Newlifier Limited

Previously in Swans Crossing...

To end summer with a bang, Sydney Rutledge threw a "Good-bye to Summer Party". In addition saying farewell to summer, Swans Crossing was also bidding adieu to Garrett Booth, Sydney's ex-flame and enemy, who was leaving for France to attend boarding school. To stay in town, he plotted to have Owen Fowler, a young musician, direct a music video starring Mila Rosnovsky, former child star and Garrett's girlfriend. Once Mila became a rock superstar, he hoped his father would see how important he was in Swans Crossing and let him stay in town.

Meanwhile, J.T. Adams and Neil Atwater, brilliant young physicists, were almost ready to test run their secret rocket fuel project, UB2B. Little did they know, however, that they were being followed.

And Jimmy Clayton and Callie Walker, sweethearts and co-workers at the local auto shop, just found out that two bald men, who they had come across several times during the summer, were tracking J.T. and Neil. . . and closing in.

Chapter One

Her heart rate began to quicken. Callie Walker turned to Jimmy Clayton.

"That's the guy who followed Saja!" Jimmy whispered loudly, his dark green eyes widening.

Callie nodded. "The guy we chased out of Swans Shop!"

"The one with the Band-Aids on his head!" Jimmy added.

Callie peered through the door of the Tool n' Die, and looked at her seedy boss Barek staring intently at the TV screen. An image of a bald man crouching in the bushes watching two teens was what had Barek's attention. The man on the screen, whom Jimmy and Callie had had several run-ins with, was watching local teen geniuses J.T. Adams and Neil Atwater.

"He must be the one after J.T and Neil!" Callie told Jimmy, her blood running cold at this realization. "Well, one of the ones." She took his arm and without mentioning it, they knew where they had to go. They headed back to the Swans Crossing Country Club where Sydney Rutledge was having a pool party.

After hearing the roar of motorbikes outside the Tool n' Die, Barek hit stop on the VCR.

"Really great stuff Owen," he said, grabbing his leather jacket and motorcycle helmet.

"There's a lot more," Owen Fowler said, taking a bite of his triple ripple ice cream. Owen, a talented musician, was working on filming a music video. Barek had asked to view it, so after catching some footage at Sydney's pool party, he headed to the Tool n' Die.

"I'll have to take a rain check," Barek explained hastily, as he got on his motorcycle and sped out of the auto shop.

Sydney climbed out of the swimming pool, laughing.

"We killed you guys!" she exclaimed, wringing out her wet raven hair and high fiving her friend Glory Booth.

"No way!" J.T. said, his eyes shining. He grabbed two towels, and wrapped one of them around Glory, his girlfriend.

Sydney, J.T., Glory and several of the other guests at Sydney's "Good-bye to Summer Party" had just partaken in a rousing game of pool volleyball, boys against girls.

"We would have creamed you," J.T. explained. "if all the guys were here. Both Jimmy and Owen are gone."

Glory looked around. "Yeah. And hey, Callie's gone, too."

Sydney rolled her green eyes. "Big deal. Wherever Jimmy goes, Callie goes. And wherever Callie goes, Jimmy goes. Obviously, they're together."

Glory looked concerned, as she often did when the slightest thing was wrong. "They wouldn't just leave... what if something happened to them?"

Just then, Callie and Jimmy came bursting in to the pool area of the Swan Club.

"See Glory, they're fine." Sydney said, wearing a smug look.

"J.T.!" Jimmy called. He ran up and put a hand on J.T's shoulder. "Man, we've got to talk to you."

Callie nodded and turned to Glory and Sydney. "Will you excuse us for just a minute?"

Glory and Sydney said okay and walked over towards Mila Rosnovsky and Sandy Swan, two of their other friends.

"What's going on?" J.T. asked, noticing the worried expressions on Jimmy and Callie's faces.

"No time to explain," Callie said hastily.

"Where's Neil?" Jimmy asked urgently as he and Callie led J.T. by he arm.

"I don't know," he said. He looked around the club. "Hey Neil!!" J.T. bellowed.

"Shhh!" Callie said. Neil appeared and trotted up to the three casually.

"Yeah?" Neil asked. Callie grabbed his shoulder. "Hey!" he cried in surprise.

"We can't explain, just hide!" Jimmy said. Callie and Jimmy ushered J.T. and Neil into the pool shed, just in the nick of time.

Barek walked through the gate and entered the Swan Club, looking slightly out of place, wearing black jeans and a black shirt, while everyone else was wearing swimwear. Not to mention the fact that he was about twenty years older than most of the guests.

Jimmy and Callie walked away from the pool shed, trying their hardest to keep their composure. Jimmy had his arm around Callie and the two wore phony smiles as Barek approached them.

"Callie... young James?" he said as he came up to the teens.

"Yeah?" Jimmy asked casually.

"You wouldn't happen to know where J.T. and Neil are... would you?" Barek asked them. Callie nudged Jimmy.

"No, sorry." he answered coolly.

"Why would we know where they are?" Callie snapped defensively. Now it was Jimmy's turn to nudge her. She quickly shut her mouth.

Barek threw up his hands in surrender. "Hey... sorry! Just askin'." he said and walked away.

Jimmy and Callie exchanged wary glances and hoped that no one would tell Barek that they had seen J.T. and Neil.

Sydney walked over to the table where her mother, Margaret Rutledge, the mayor of Swans Crossing, was sitting.

"Mother?" Sydney's mom turned around, her face obviously stained with tears.

"Sydney!" Mayor Rutledge exclaimed, quickly wiping off her face.

"Mother! What's wrong?" Sydney asked, her voice full of concern.

"Oh, nothing dear." she sniffed. "Just my, uh, my allergies acting up,"

Sydney looked at her mom, her face twisted with care and confusion.

"Honey... I'm going to go home. I just have," she paused. "A lot on my mind right now, and, well, I need some rest." Mayor Rutledge said vaguely. Sydney didn't really buy her mother's story, but since she was her mother, she nodded slowly.

"OK... well, how will I get home?"

The mayor reached into her pocket book and handed her daughter the keys to the Mercedes. "Go ahead and drive home. I could use a walk anyway." she mumbled, and strolled out of the country club.

Sydney furrowed her eyebrows together as she stared after her mother. She fingered the car keys. "Since when do I have my license?"

"I can't believe that the party's almost over," Mila Rosnovsky said in a depressed tone of voice.

"I know," her boyfriend Garrett Booth said monotonously.

Mila sighed. "There's really no way you're going to be able to stay in Swans Crossing... is there?"

Garrett turned away. "I don't know. I'm trying my hardest." he took Mila's hand and squeezed it. "We'll always have the summer." he said wryly.

Tears welled up in her eyes. "But I want to spend my first year at Swans Crossing High School with you." Mila said, choking on her words. Garrett put his arm around her.

She laughed pitifully. "Who am I supposed to go with to the prom?"

He chuckled and lightly kissed her forehead. "Is that all you care about?" he asked jokingly.

The couple teased each other some more, and the problem was forgotten... for now.

After asking the party guests where J.T. and Neil were, and getting no straight answers, Barek decided to give up for now, and he left the club.

Jimmy followed after him, to make sure that he left. Sure enough he got on his motorcycle and headed in the direction of the Tool n' Die.

"OK! He's gone!" Jimmy called out to Callie.

Quickly, in her usual level headed manner, Callie grabbed two beach towels and opened the door to the pool shed.

"Hey!" Neil exclaimed. "Would you mind telling us what's going on?" He and J.T. wore very irritated expressions.

Callie and Jimmy chose to ignore their displeasure. Deftly, Callie draped the towels over their heads. "They can hide at my house." She told Jimmy and he nodded in agreement.

"But how are we going to get them there?" Jimmy asked. J.T and Neil were acting surprisingly cooperative, and did not complain at the towels being placed over them. "We can't let them go on their bikes, someone might see."

Callie tapped her finger against her cheek. "Hey! Sydney's got a car," She began to search the area for Sydney. "Granted, she doesn't drive, but maybe her mother would drive us over to the docks."

Sydney walked by with Sandy, laughing about something. "Sydney!" Callie yelled.

Sydney turned around. "What?"

Callie approached her. "Look, I can't explain why, but could your mom give us a ride to my house?" she motioned behind her to Jimmy and J.T. and Neil with the towels on their heads.

"Well, my mother already left," Sydney started. Callie's face fell. "But for some reason, she gave me the keys." Sydney handed them over to Callie. "Will you be careful?"

Callie nodded eagerly. "I promise. Thank you!" she quickly hugged her friend and then tossed the keys to Jimmy. She grabbed his hand. "Let's get out of here!"

Barek went back to the Tool n' Die and threw the door open angrily. "Where are those kids?" he asked himself. He tossed his jacket off and opened up a hidden compartment in his motorcycle. Inside sat a miniature walkie-talkie. He picked it up, and, after checking his surroundings, pressed the button. "Hello?" he asked.

"Barek?" a voice on the device said, in a thick Russian accent.

"I know who this "Professor Vann" is," he said in a growl.

"Yes..." the voice said. "Two very young professors."

Barek rolled his eyes. "They're just these local kids! We've spent an entire summer tracking two teenagers! Do you know how much money this is going to cost the party? I mean... how could two kids be involved in a plot to bomb Russia?"

The other end of the device was silent. "Boss?"

Barek was losing his temper. "What?!"

"We still have orders from the party to arrest. These kids, as young as they are, still are ordering chemicals from our country, which in the hands of the Americans, could be very dangerous."

Barek had to admit he had a point. "So go out and find them!"

"Yes boss," the voice said. "Over."

Barek replaced the walkie-talkie and sighed. What a waste his job could be.

"Jimmy?" Callie said over the loud roar of the wind. Jimmy and Callie were driving Sydney's red convertible with the top down, and the wind was tossing her auburn curls all over her face. Jimmy turned to look at her.

"Huh?" he asked, turning back to the road. Callie glanced at the speedometer, which was nearing 60 miles per hour. She gripped the side of the leather seat. "Could you please slow down?" His mouth turned up in a smile. "So, I guess we can add speed to your list of fears." He laughed, but Callie failed to see the humor in it.

"I just don't want to get pulled over," she said quietly. Noticing she was upset, he slowed down to around 35.

J.T. and Neil were hidden in the back, and they were grumbling. "Are we there yet?"

Jimmy pulled the car into a parking spot and got out of the car. "We're here," he replied, escorting them out of the car. The four teens stood on the docks which were located on the outskirts of Swans Crossing. Callie took a deep breath of the warm, salty air. She loved this smell, as she lived with it everyday of her life. Instead of living in a normal house, she and her hermit father Captain Elia Walker lived in a submarine. Callie's father was a very prominent marine biologist, and for most of Callie's life they traveled around the world studying different species. However, now that Callie was high school age, he decided to settle down and dock for a little while in Swans Crossing, which was a harbor town on the New England coast.

Jimmy pulled Callie aside. "Do you think that your dad is going to be okay with this?" Jimmy had met Callie's father on several different occasions, and though he was perfectly nice, he was not used to being around a lot of people, especially Callie's friends.

Callie shrugged. "I guess we'll have to find out, won't we?" She hopped up onto the ladder and climbed down the hatch.

"Dad?" Callie called. Her father, who had been down below, came up on to the top deck.

"Hi..." his voice trailed off when he saw, Jimmy, J.T. and Neil standing in his living room. Jimmy smiled for good measure, and the Captain gave a half hearted wave.

"What's going on Callie?" Captain Walker asked under his breath.

Callie gave Jimmy a nervous glance. "Um, Dad. This is really hard to explain, but J.T. and Neil are in some trouble."

Captain Walker nodded. "OK, what does that have to do with us?"

Callie shifted her weight from one foot to another. "They need to stay here," she blurted.

He rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine." he pulled his daughter aside. "But not for too long,"

Callie beamed at her father. "Sure, no problem."

"And they have to stay out of the way," he added.

"Alright. Thank you!" she hugged her father. She turned back to her friends. "Let me show you to your room," Callie led J.T. and Neil down some stairs. "Are you coming?" she asked Jimmy. He shook his head.

"I'll wait here," After Callie had taken them to their room, Jimmy and the Captain stood in silence. "So, uh, how's it goin'?" Jimmy asked, trying to make conversation.

Captain Walker shrugged. "Fine," he replied shortly. Then, as fathers often do, he got a surge of curiosity. "So, are you and my daughter... together?"

Jimmy blushed. "Way to make a guy feel comfortable," he thought to himself. "Umm," he mumbled nervously. Callie came back into the room, saving him from further embarrassment.

"They're just settling in," she said with a laugh. Jimmy nodded, and Captain Walker figured this was his time to exit. "Do you want to stay for dinner?" she asked him. Jimmy thought about it for a second, but didn't really feel very comfortable around her father.

"Actually, I told my dad I'd come home after the party. I'll take Sydney's car back and get my bike from the Swan Club," he said. Callie felt a little disappointed, but then he took her hand. "I'll call you?"

Callie smiled widely. "Great," she said softly. He squeezed her hand and then headed up the ladder. "Night Callie," he said.

She felt her heart flutter. "Night Jimmy,"

The air was growing cold, and clouds were settling around the moon. Sydney shivered. All of the guests had left, but she was stuck at the Swan Club, waiting for Jimmy to return her car.

She thought back to the image of her mother crying at the party. "Did this have anything to do with Garrett?" she asked herself. Her mind drifted to the scene between her and Garrett at the party earlier in the evening.

"That is if my plan fails to impress my father," Garrett said, when Sydney asked if he seriously was going to announce to Swans Crossing his discovery that she was switched at birth with Sandy Swan.

"You're a dreamer," Sydney said, stepping up to him. Like Mila was really going to be discovered as a rock star!

Garrett grabbed Sydney's arm and pulled on it. "I'm your worst nightmare," he said. Just then the mayor came up to them.

"What is this?" Mayor Rutledge said angrily. Garrett and Sydney looked up at her.

"Mayor," Garrett addressed her.

"What is this?" she asked again. "Take your hands off my daughter," she told him with a scowl.

"Gladly," he said, and walked away. Sydney sensed her mother was upset.

"Mother don't worry, it's okay." Sydney said trying to assure her mother.

"No it is not okay. It's just another sign that everything is changing... for the worst."

The mayor's words echoed in her mind. "The worst, the worst," She was so lost in thought that when Jimmy tapped her on the shoulder she jumped.

"Here's the keys to your car," he said, handing them over to her.

"Thanks," she said absently.

He thanked her and left the club. Sighing, Sydney gathered her things. She walked out to the parking lot, deciding it wouldn't be too big of a deal to drive home, even though she had been behind the wheel only one other time in her life. She put the key's in the door, and unlocked it. As she was going to get in, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

The parking lot was dimly lit, and she was alone, so this too startled her. She let out a shriek and turned around to face the person behind her.

"Garrett," she said angrily. "Nice of you to sneak up on me. What are you still doing here?"

Garrett smirked at her. "We still have some things to discuss."

Sydney sighed, frustrated. She pulled the keys out of the door and leaned against the car. "What now!?"

Garrett lowered his eyes. "Look, I am beginning to realize that this plan of mine might not work as well as I had thought."

Sydney grinned smugly. "Well what took you so long?" He ignored her question.

"I must admit that Mila isn't the best singer in the world," he said sheepishly.

She scoffed. "What was your first clue?"

Once again he ignored her sarcastic comment. "So that's where you come in," he said, giving her a cocky smile. She grabbed her brown hair and tugged at it in frustration.

"Well, hurry up. What do I need to do now?" she asked in an furious tone.

"I want you to get a recording of Sandy singing, and then you and I are going to dub it over Mila's music video and send it to her some record producers. When they see how great her voice is and how good looking she is, they're sure to sign her, and then I, as her agent, will get enough of the credit to impress my father." Garrett smiled when he was through, obviously impressed with his intricate plan.

Sydney, however, was stunned. Her jaw dropped. "You want me to double cross one of my friends?" she asked incredulously.

Garrett rolled his blue eyes. "Oh, come on Sydney! Don't feed me that innocent friend baloney! You'd have no problem double crossing Sandy if it was for your benefit."

She thought about this. "But... it is. I mean, if I do this for you, will you hand over that birth certificate?"

"Maybe," he said with a laugh. She kicked the car tire, enraged. Garrett loved the power he felt over Sydney, but looking at her in the moonlight, he could almost remember what he had seen in her when they used to be in love.

"You," she said, her eyes gleaming with hatred. "are the most egotistical, irritating, jerky..." Sydney began, but was interrupted when Garrett grabbed her by the shoulder and kissed her hard on the lips. She was so stunned and blown away that the only thing running through her mind was "I'm kissing someone I hate... and I like it."

Chapter Two

Their lips parted, and Sydney and Garrett stared at each other. The air between them was silent, as both were reeling from what had just happened. Sydney tried to avoid the stare of Garrett's blue eyes, but she was drawn to them. The look shared between the two was something that neither of them had ever experienced before. It was a look of confusion, repulsion, and tenderness.

"Sydney," Garrett started, touching her on the arm. At his touch she panicked. She shoved the keys in the door and entered the car. Her mind was spinning so fast that all she could do was start the car and tear away from the parking lot without saying a word.

After saying goodnight to Jimmy, Callie walked downstairs to the living quarters. J.T. and Neil had already made themselves at home, and were leafing through some leather-bound books from Captain Walker's library.

"Guys?" Callie said. The two looked up from their books. She handed them her father's cellular phone. "You have to call your parents and tell them that you're sleeping at the other's house," she explained.

"But won't we be here longer than a night?" Neil asked, while J.T. began dialing his phone number.

"Yes," Callie answered. "But I guess we'll have to figure out what to do about that tomorrow." Callie was secretly worried about how long her father would let them stay. The two made their telephone calls, and the boys' parents seemed to buy the stories. Callie excused herself, and then picked up the phone to make a call.

"Hello?" said a sweet voice on the other line.

"Glory, hi," Callie said. This is going to be really hard, she thought to herself. She could almost hear Glory smiling on the other line.

"What's up?" Glory laid down on her floral print bed and adjusted the blue plastic telephone.

"Glory, J.T. and Neil are in trouble," Callie blurted out.

Glory's blood ran cold. "What's wrong?" she said quietly, her voice breaking.

Callie sighed. "I can't explain what's going on. Look, you promise you won't say anything?"

"Of course!" Glory would do anything for J.T. She could already feel hot tears springing to her blue eyes.

"Some people are after them. It has to do with their science project, but I'm not exactly sure what yet. But for their safety they're staying here for a little while," she explained. She could hear Glory gasp.

"I'll be right there!" Glory said, feeling utterly nauseated.

"Wait! You can't come over now! It's getting late, and I don't think it's safe."

The tears were now streaming down Glory's face. "But what about J.T.? I need to see if he's okay."

Callie felt so bad for her friend. She was almost angry at J.T. for putting all of the ones he loved in such danger. "Glory," she said soothingly. "I promise that tomorrow, first thing in the morning, you can come over and see him, okay?"

Glory sniffed. "Thanks Callie."

"Get some rest, alright?"

"Alright." The girls said goodnight, and Callie set the phone in the cradle. She trotted down the stairs to get some rest herself, wondering why she had gotten into this mess.

The next day was a cool, beautiful Sunday morning. The sky was blue and everything was still so green that it was hard to believe that it was almost September. Mila sat on the bench in front of Swans that morning, breathing in the fresh air. She smiled. What a beautiful day! she thought. Just then, Garrett came walking down the cobble stone road to meet Mila.

"Garrett!" she called in a sing-song voice. She ran up the road and enveloped him in a big hug.

He was taken aback by this. "What's going on?" he asked, pulling away from her slightly and trying to keep his voice normal. He didn't want her to know that all last night he had been thinking about what had happened between him and Sydney.

She grinned jovially. "Well, it's a lovely morning, and I'm standing here with the most gorgeous, sweetest and all around most incredible guy in all of Swans Crossing."

Garrett groaned inwardly. You should add two timing to that list, he mused. "Thanks, Mila," he said softly, his voice edged with guilt. After hearing Garrett's somber and unusual tone, Mila immediately sensed that there was something wrong. "Are you okay?" she asked him, her voice full of compassion.

"I'm fine," he mumbled, and took her hand to lead her into the diner.

Sandy heard a knock at the door of her and Owen's studio. She ran up the basement stairs to answer it. The rapping behind the door was persistent. "Coming!" Sandy bellowed. She pulled the door open to see Sydney. Without so much as a 'hello', Sydney pushed her way into the room.

"Sydney, hi," Sandy said, her mouth twisting into a half- smile, although her friend's pushiness was irritating. "What's new?"

Sydney marched up to the expensive recording equipment and began to rummage through stacks of cassette tapes. Sandy stared at her, horrified. "What are you doing?" she exclaimed. Sydney glanced up with an annoyed expression on her face, as if Sandy was the one who was being bothersome. "I am looking for a demo tape," she said simply, and returned to her search.

Sandy rolled her eyes and brushed away a strand of her curly blond hair. "Well, it would have been nice if you asked." She joined Sydney and began to look for the cassette.

"Oh," Sydney said sheepishly, pursing her lips. "Can I have a demo tape?"

Sandy almost wanted to laugh. "I guess," she replied. "What for?"

Sydney felt a sick feeling in her stomach. Well Sandy, I am going to make you look like an idiot by putting your voice over a video of Mila dancing... all so I can get a birth certificate that proves that you and I were not switched at birth! Of course she couldn't say that, so instead she muttered something about needing demo tapes to organize what songs would be sung at the re-election concert.

Sandy smiled. "Sure, that's fine." She searched through the pile of tapes, finally retrieving the one Sydney needed. "Here you go." She handed the cassette to Sydney, who took it with a faraway look on her face.

"Thanks." Sydney began to head up the stairs. "I'm really sorry Sandy, I have to run." She contemplated for a moment about confessing to Sandy what was really going on. Then the thought of all of Swans Crossing calling her Sandy Swan flashed in her brain, and decided against it.

After he had eaten breakfast with Mila, Garrett also headed over to the recording studio to meet Owen, but ran into Owen before he arrived.

"Hey Owen!" Garrett called. Owen got off his bicycle and walked over to Garrett. He was carrying his video camera under his arm. "Garrett, hi."

Garrett, being the smooth talker that he was, launched into his proposition to Owen. "Look, to be able to make Mila a star there's a little something you have to do for us."

Owen pictured the blond beauty and smiled. "Anything. What is it?"

"Well, I know that Sandy was going to be included in this music video," he explained, placing his arm around Owen, vehemently selling his story. "But, let's face it Owen, she's not going to sell any records."

"Why not?" Owen asked. Garrett ignored him. "We need a gorgeous girl like Mila. Someone with real star quality," he said with emotion, gesturing with his hands.

"True," Owen agreed.

"However, and let's be honest with each other, shall we?" Owen nodded. "Mila doesn't have the prettiest voice-" Garrett paused, "at all. Now, don't worry about the logistics of it, just leave it up to me and I am going to make Sandy's voice and Mila's face the most famous combination in America!"

Owen grinned. "But what do I have to do?"

"Ah, my friend, all you have to do is shoot that video... minus Sandy," Garrett said with a hundred watt smile. Then, slowly, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his leather wallet. He removed three bills and placed them in Owen's hand. Owen's eyes widened at the amount of cash Garrett had just handed him. "Just sealing the deal," Garrett explained in a hushed voice. "So will you do it?"

Owen was silent. He and Sandy had been best friends and recording partners for years. It wouldn't be very loyal of him to ditch her like this. But then again, I can always make another video for Sandy, he rationalized silently. Besides... what a way to get Mila to notice me! After running this through his mind for a few more seconds, Owen nodded and shook Garrett's hand. "You've got a deal!"

As soon as she woke up that morning, Glory threw on some clothes and raced out her front door. She had hardly slept at all the previous night, and had terrible nightmares about J.T. when she did drift off.

It was a fairly lengthy walk to the Swans Crossing harbor, but her thoughts were so jumbled that it seemed to only take a few minutes. When she arrived at the docks, she saw someone pull up on a mini-bike.

"Hi Jimmy," she said glumly when the person on the bike removed his helmet.

"Glory, hey." Jimmy knocked on the metal wall of the sub. "What are you doing here?"

Glory could feel the tears spring to her already swollen eyes. "Callie said I could come see J.T.," she explained. Jimmy nodded and the two stood in silence until Callie appeared in the hatch. Even though the atmosphere was very tense around the sub, Jimmy could feel his lips twitching up in a smile when he saw her.

"Hi guys," Callie said in a neutral tone. She was both happy to see Jimmy and sad to see Glory nearly in tears. Jimmy and Glory climbed up the ladder and entered the sub.

"Where's J.T.?" Glory asked urgently, her voice shaking.

"He's downstairs." Callie said. "Jimmy, could you go get him?" Jimmy obliged and Callie turned to Glory when he was gone. "Glory, it's going to be okay."

She began to cry. "No it's not! I know something is really, really wrong! I need to see him!" Glory was bordering on hysterics, and Callie put her arm around her friend.

"Shh, shh. It's alright. He's coming," she said soothingly. J.T. walked into the living room, and Glory flung herself into his arms.

"Whoa!" he laughed, and then noticed she was crying. "Hey... what's wrong?"

The tears fell faster until she was sobbing. "You're in trouble! I can feel it! Are you going to be okay?"

He stroked her strawberry blond hair lovingly. "I'm fine Glory, I promise."

Jimmy and Callie figured this was their cue to give the couple some space, and they moved to the stairs.

"But then why are you here?" she asked innocently, sniffing. J.T. pulled her to a set of chairs and the two sat down.

"Look, Glory, before I say anything, how do you feel about me?" he asked quietly. Glory reached up and pushed a trendil of his wavy brown hair from his forehead.

"J.T., I love you," she said, stumbling on her words.

"Good," he said with a sigh of relief. "I need you right now."

She looked up at him and saw his face crinkled in a worried expression. "I'm always here for you. You know that."

He nodded solemnly. "My work has gotten me in trouble," he began. "I can't explain what Neil and I are doing, but some guys want our formula for UB2B, and they know who we are now." Glory felt the color drain from her face. "These wouldn't be the same guys who kidnapped me... would they?" she asked.

J.T. could not meet her eyes. "Yeah- yeah, it's the same guys." Glory's hands began to shake as a wave of horror swept over her. "J.T., those guys were going to hurt me! And now I know that they'll hurt you!" She jumped from her chair. "You have to quit, J.T. This has gone too far!"

J.T. jumped up as well. "But Glory! This is my life, and Neil and I have come so far. You don't honestly expect me to just give up, do you?'

"Yes I do! J.T., I don't want you to get hurt!" Glory could barely speak because she was crying so hard. "Please!" she pleaded. "Please stop your project before it's too late."

J.T. sat back down. "Glory, I love you, but I also love my work. I'm not going to give up- not now, not ever." After hearing his determined words, Glory continued to sob.

On the stairs, Callie and Jimmy could hear the emotional argument between the couple.

"Wow," Callie said softly. "I can't believe J.T. won't give this up."

Jimmy nodded in agreement. "I know. He's risked the lives of everyone around him, even his own girlfriend." Jimmy was hovering over Callie now, standing so close that she could feel his breath on her neck. "Callie?"

"Yeah?" she managed to say, even though she felt completely weak with him standing so near.

"I would never do that to you. If you asked me to give something up for you, I'd do it," he told her, staring deeply into her eyes.

Oh wow, she thought, and was at a loss for words. Thankfully, her smitten smile was all he needed to see to know that she was blown away by what he had said. He leaned closer to her, and cupped her chin to kiss her.

"Callie!" Glory wailed, just as Callie and Jimmy's lips were going to meet. The two jumped apart, and Callie reluctantly started walking towards the living room to see what was wrong with Glory. Meanwhile, J.T. appeared at the stairwell, and he and Jimmy went downstairs to talk.

Glory was still crying, this time so hard that she had to sit down. "Callie..." she gasped. "He's going to end up hurting himself! I love him! I don't want anything bad to happen to him!"

Callie hugged her friend. "I know Glory, I know." In her heart she wanted to tell Glory how selfish and ignorant J.T. was being. But she knew she couldn't do that. Glory had positioned J.T. on such a high pedestal, and Callie wasn't about to be the one to burst her bubble. "Look, you and J.T. have been through a lot, and I promise you can stay here as long as you need to, and I will keep an eye on him, okay?"

Glory managed a smile. "Okay."

"I just really think you need to stand by him right now. I know he'll come to his senses sooner or later." Callie said soothingly to her friend. I hope, she added to herself.

Meanwhile, Jimmy had followed J.T. downstairs into the room he and Neil were staying in. He shook his head and raked his fingers through his dark brown hair. "Man, what are you guys doing?"

J.T. sat down on his bed. "What are you talking about?" He avoided looking Jimmy straight in the face. He could tell his friend had overheard the argument between he and Glory.

"You've already put Glory's life on the line before!" Jimmy admonished him loudly. "And now you're putting your own life at risk!" J.T. frowned. "Hey, I don't need this!" Jimmy softened a bit. "Look, you just need to put this in perspective. What's more important? Glory or your science project?" Neil looked up from his Popular Science magazine. "Science, of course," he answered for J.T. J.T. hit him on the head playfully. "You dweeb! Look Jimmy, of course I care about Glory, but Neil and I are standing on the edge of a huge scientific breakthrough!" "But you guys have kept what you've been doing a secret for way too long. So long that you've put your lives on the line!" Jimmy sat down in a chair across from them with a determined look on his face. "I want to know everything about your project... and I want to hear it now."

With the demo tape in hand, Sydney headed over to the stone wall that divided her property from the Booths' property. She walked up to the crude hole cut into the rocks and saw Garrett's face on the other side. She suddenly got a weird feeling in her stomach, which took her by surprise.

"I, uh, got the tape," Sydney said in a low voice. She placed the cassette in the hole and Garrett took it with a grin.

"Good work, Sydney. You're getting closer and closer to that little piece of paper," he said smugly.

Sydney rolled her eyes. "And speaking of that, would you mind telling me when you're planning on handing it over?"

Garrett paced across the lush green grass. "Why do you want this paper so badly, anyway? I mean, even when the certificate's in your hands you're still going to be Sandy Swan."

Sydney pursed her lips. "But it will be my dirty little secret... not yours."

He laughed. "But I'll still know, Sydney. I'll always know." Even though Garrett's words were threatening, his tone was light and almost tender. Sydney had to smile. She just couldn't believe how you could be so attracted to someone that you hated. "And you'll never tell, right?" she asked him, although she knew he probably would, eventually.

"Oh, never," Garrett replied sarcastically. He then looked deeply into Sydney's green eyes, and a look of contempt and adoration played upon her pretty face. I guess now would be a good time to bring up the kiss, he thought. "Sydney, about last night..."

Sydney felt her heart beating faster and faster in her chest. She didn't want to talk about it for fear she might confess to him how wonderful the kiss was. "I can't talk about this," she said turning her back to him.

"But we can't pretend that it didn't happen," he protested.

She looked back at him. "Yes we can. That's what I want to do. I just want to pretend it never happened, just like I pretended that you and I were never once..." her voice trailed off. "Just forget it, okay?"

He nodded slowly. "Alright, if that's what you want me to do."

"It is," she said quickly.

"Well, then, I'll talk to you later, I guess." Garrett turned and slowly started walking away from the wall.

Wait! Sydney wanted to cry. Please, come back! I want to see what it feels like again. Maybe we shouldn't forget! But by the time she got up the courage to talk to him again, he was gone.

J.T. explained his project to Jimmy. Of course, Jimmy wasn't the child prodigy that J.T. was, so he had a hard time understanding what was being said. Plus Neil jumped in occasionally, trying to illustrate UB2B, which made everything seem even more complicated. In fact, Jimmy was still stuck on one key fact that they had told him, that their code name for ordering the chemicals was "Professor Vann". The name sounded vaguely familiar to Jimmy, and his mind wandered to the morning before Sydney's pool party. He had been eating breakfast with Callie, and Jazz, the Swans Shop proprietor, was talking with them:

"So, Jazz, any more strange grownies appear since the other night?" Callie asked with a smile. Jazz, a twenty- something woman who liked to talk to the teenage patrons, had been complaining that the only people who came in during her grave yard shift were middle-aged adults, or "grownies".

"As weird as the skateboarding butler? Or the lettuce freak?" Jimmy and Callie laughed. "Actually," Jazz began with a shy smile, "the one was sort of cute in a bizarre kind of way..." "Ahh, new boyfriend?" Callie teased. "Yeah. If I were a pancake, he'd bite," she said with a sad laugh. Jimmy looked at her, confused. "No, I mean it. That's all he's into. Pancakes and finding out about some guy called Professor Vann. This is the story of my life!" she threw her hands up in mock frustration. Could Jazz's new crush be one of the guys tracking Neil and J.T.? Jimmy found that really hard to believe, but this new information could be crucial to finding out about who these guys were. "... so we need her to go to the post office." Neil concluded. Jimmy immediately snapped back to reality. "Huh?" Neil looked frustrated. "I said," Neil began in a slow, condescending tone. "Callie has to go to the post office for us."

"Why?" Jimmy asked. Neil sighed. "Because the last chemical for UB2B could be in our P.O. box. We need someone to get it out for us because those guys could be hiding out by the post office."

Neil, J.T., and Jimmy started heading up the stairs. "Why Callie though?" Jimmy questioned Neil. He didn't really like the idea because he didn't want Callie to be in any danger.

"Why me what?" Callie asked. She and Glory were sitting in the living quarters of the sub, and Glory was looking surprisingly calm. J.T. silently walked to her side and put his arm around her. She didn't resist.

J.T. quickly explained that Callie needed to go to the post office, and that the men were less likely to hurt her because she was a female and to their knowledge, had nothing to do with UB2B.

Callie was a bit miffed that they wanted her to do this just because she was a girl and therefore, was less likely to be hassled. However, she was in no mood to argue, so she accepted the assignment. As she was reaching for her jacket, Jimmy touched her arm urgently.

"Can I talk to you?" he inquired. Callie nodded and the two headed outside.

Jimmy brought her up to date on the conversation between J.T. and Neil. "So while you're at the post office, I'm planning on heading over to Swans to talk to Jazz and find out what she knows about the bald man," he told her.

"Well, I guess I'll see you later then," Callie said, walking to her mini-bike.

"Yeah... but Callie?"

"Yeah?" As she turned towards Jimmy, she could see a familiar look in his eyes. It was the same one that he had had on the stairs earlier.

"I don't know if I really want you to go over there," he admitted.

Callie was incredibly flattered. "That's really sweet Clayton, but I can take care of myself. I promise I'll be careful."

Jimmy offered his hand to her and she placed her hand in his. "You promise?" he asked.

She smiled broadly. "I promise." Slowly, Jimmy brushed back her auburn curls and leaned towards her. Their lips met in a soft, lingering kiss. Callie had never felt so happy in her life.

Callie hopped off her motorbike and casually strolled into the post office. She had listened to and promised to follow Jimmy's warnings about being cautious, but ever since he had kissed her so sweetly in front of the sub, she felt as if she was walking on air.

Humming to herself, she pulled open the door to the post office and walked over to J.T. and Neil's P.O. box. She inserted the key that they had handed to her and unlocked the mailbox. Inside sat two envelopes. She pulled them out and read the return addresses. The smaller envelope contained Sydney's birth certificate. She's going to be so happy! Callie thought. She looked at the large, manila envelope. It was addressed to Professor Vann and the return address was in the Ukraine.

Callie's breath caught in her throat. "The Ukraine? Could the people tracking Neil and J.T. be... the secret police?" she wondered out loud.

Suddenly, a person came up behind her. Before Callie was able to scream, a hand clamped over her mouth, and everything went black.

Chapter Three

Slowly, Callie came to, her eyes fluttering open. She couldn't quite make out her surroundings, just that the dark room was illuminated only by a few candles. The flickering of the light cast an eerie glow on to the walls, and she could hear dripping water in the distance.

She shook off the groggy feeling and blinked her eyes a few times. Before her stood three men, all dressed in black. "What's going on?" she asked in a wavery voice. Callie tried to move her arms, but she then realized that she was tied up in a large rope net. The men cloaked in black were silent and unmoving.

"Where am I?" she cried, kicking at the net. One of the masked men approached her, and grabbed her leg to make her stop kicking.

"You know..." the man said in a low, crackly voice.

"Know what?" she asked, wiggling her leg to try and free herself from the man's grip.

The man pulled a large knife from inside his black suit. Callie's breath caught in her throat. He opened up the net and raised the knife above her head. He then placed it against her neck. She could feel the cool metal against her skin. She gulped. "You tell us where Professor Vann is, and we don't kill you. If you don't tell us where he is..." The man pushed a bit harder on the knife pressed against her throat. "I don't think I have to tell you what's going to happen."

After Garrett left the Swans Shoppe, Mila remained at her table, absently sipping at her soda.

"Well, hello Countessa!" called out a sing-song voice. Mila looked up from the bubbles in her glass and saw Nancy Robbins heading towards her.

"Hi Nancy," Mila said. Nancy made herself at home as she plopped down in the chair next to Mila's. She then glanced at Mila skeptically. "Don't tell me you're still upset about Garrett leaving town."

Mila shrugged. "We just had breakfast about half an hour ago, and I don't know," she paused. "He didn't seem like he really wanted to be with me."

Nancy did not looked surprised. "That's Garrett for you," she commented.

"Nancy, come on. What do you have against Garrett?"

Nancy twisted a strand of her reddish blond hair around her finger and sighed. She didn't really like the idea of Mila and Garrett as a couple, because Sydney had always had such a thing for him. "I don't," Nancy snapped defensively. Then she smiled. "Let's change the subject... shall we?" Mila nodded. "Cheerleading."

"What about it?" Mila said, sounding a little uninterested.

"Well, you are going to try out, right?" Over the last week or so of summer, Nancy had been prompting Mila to join the cheerleading squad.

"Why do you want me to try out so badly?" Mila asked, and Nancy's face clouded.

Nancy stared at Mila blankly. The true reason that she wanted to get her friend into cheerleading so bad was that she herself had always wanted to be a cheerleader. However, Nancy wasn't the most coordinated person. In addition to that, Mila had the looks of a cheerleader, with her long blond hair and blue eyes. If Nancy couldn't climb the social ladder herself, she might as well live vicariously through Mila.

Nancy put a hand on Mila's shoulder and smiled. "No reason."

As Nancy and Mila were talking, Jimmy walked into Swans. Nancy's eyes widened and she hissed at Mila to look over her shoulder. Mila glanced at Jimmy and rolled her eyes. Nancy had basically no chance with him, but she decided to let her friend swoon in peace. He didn't notice the girls as he strolled up to the counter.

Jazz looked up and smiled. "Hey Jimmy. What can I get ya' today?" she asked, lifting up her pad and pencil to take his order.

"Actually," he said, sitting down at one of the barstools, "all I need right now is to talk to you."

Jazz put the paper down. "Shoot."

"Well, I want to ask you a few questions about that grownie you were talking to the other night."

Jazz blushed. "Which one?"

"The pancake guy," he replied.

"Okay, well, he's just this guy who came in here a few times." Jimmy sighed inwardly. This apparently wasn't going to be as easy as he had thought. "Did he say where he's from?" he asked.

Jazz nodded. "Milwaukee," she stated.

Milwaukee? Jimmy thought. There is no way that guy is from Milwaukee! He racked his brain for another question to ask. "Um, what has he said about Professor Vann?"

"Well, he said that Professor Vann was not an old professor of his, he was actually kinda young."

"Okay, anything else?" he prompted.

"Not really, just that he didn't get to talk to him for very long, and he said he's looking forward to a much longer meeting." Jazz began to fill napkin dispensers as they chatted.

Jimmy realized that he wasn't going to get much out of his interview with the waitress, so he rose up from his stool. "Well, thanks Jazz."

"Hey," she said before he left . "Why are you so interested, anyway?"

Jimmy shook his head. "I can't say, but just let me warn you that this guy could be bad news, okay?"

Jazz frowned. She could sense some chemistry between herself and the mysterious man, and she was slightly offended that Jimmy would call him 'bad news'. However, she decided not to challenge him, and let him excuse himself and leave the eatery.

Owen picked up the telephone and dialed Mila's phone number. Mila had just gotten home from Swans and answered the gaudy phone, which was shaped like a red high heel, in her equally gaudy bedroom, which was decorated almost entirely in pink.


"Hey Mila, it's Owen," Owen said nervously. He felt sort of strange calling Mila at home.

"Owen! Hi! What's up?" she asked, flopping down on her pink bed.

"Well, I'm ready to shoot you singing in the video," he said proudly.

Mila was stunned. "Me singing? What about Sandy?"

Owen reached into his pocket to feel the cash that Garrett had slipped him. "Sandy and I have... other plans. So what do you say?"

"What do I say?" she exclaimed, her voice full of excitement. "When can I come over?"

Callie felt panic wash over her as she stared down at the glinting blade of the knife. "I don't know what you mean," she said in a broken voice.

"Yes you do! Tell us! Where are those kids?" the man boomed.

Callie realized he must mean J.T. and Neil. Her heart was pounding, and her mind racing. Oh god... what do I do now? she thought apprehensively.

The way the man held the knife so close to her neck, Callie could tell he wasn't kidding and was becoming deeply annoyed with her stalling. "Okay, Okay!" she cried, her lips quivering. "They're at my house," she confessed. The man nodded. "And where's your house?" he yelled.

"I live in a submarine down by the docks," she told him quietly. She was quivering with fear.

"How stupid do you think I am? No one lives in a submarine!" he bellowed, and raised the knife once again. "Stop playing games with me young lady or you are going to be sorry!"

Callie shook her head wildly in panic. "No, I swear! That's where I live!" For the first time in years Callie felt like she was going to cry. "Please believe me! J.T. and Neil are there!"

The figure pulled the knife away. He placed the same rag that was doused in chemicals to knock Callie out the first time over her mouth, and everything faded once again.

Saja DeCastro walked into Swans, wearing his black ninja suit. Saja, also known by his real name Bobby, was going through a phase, and had adopted the persona of "Saja", Lord of the Warriors.

Sandy, who was drinking a soda and chatting with Jazz, looked up when she saw Saja come through the door. A smile spread across her face upon seeing the boy. Ever since Saja had walked her home one warm summer night, he had popped into her day dreams rather often. In fact, she had nearly forgotten how she used to feel about Owen, who never paid any attention to her anyway. Saja had even seemed to flirt with her a little at Sydney's pool party. Sandy's face brightened as she recalled that night:

Sandy had come up to Saja at the refreshment table. Saja was filling his plate with several hamburgers. "I finished my song," Sandy said to him shyly. He looked up and smiled. "Ah yes, the song that begins with the Vulcan mind meld," Saja replied, and then looked from Sandy to his plate. He held it out to her. "You want one?"

Sandy lowered her head and her face reddened slightly. "Actually, I've given up meat... you inspired me," she admitted.

"Oh," he said, in a surprised but pleased tone. Then he got a glimpse of Callie, who was laughing at something Jimmy had said. "Thanks, no one's said that to me in a long time."

Sandy sighed happily as Saja's words echoed in her mind.

"Hey," a voice from behind her suddenly called. It was Saja, and when she looked at him a crimson blush creeped across her skin. She hoped he couldn't tell she had been thinking about him.

"Hi Saja," she said softly. "Do you, um, want to sit down?"

Saja smiled at her invitation, and was a bit disappointed that he could not accept. "Actually, I came here to look for Callie or Jimmy. Have you seen them?"

Sandy's face fell. "Um, no, I haven't seen them," she said, trying not to let the frustration she felt creep into her voice.

He could sense that she was unhappy that he could not stay, and figured this to be a perfect opportunity. "Sandy?" he asked nervously.

"Yes?" she prompted.

"I was wondering if you would like to go out for a soda or something after the concert on Friday," he said, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "You know, to celebrate your singing and all."

She grinned widely. "I'd love to!" she accepted, not bothering to hide her excitement.

"Great! Well, I'll see you then," he said, turning on his heels to go find his friends.

She waved and nodded. "I'll see you then."

The Walker Estate was murky even though it was only early afternoon. Crouched on the soft mossy soil were two tall men, one blond and one dark, armed with cameras, tape recorders, and other surveillance equipment.

"As soon as we get some photos, we can finally have enough to put them away," the blond man said in a hushed whisper. The other man grunted angrily in reply. "They've been in our country all summer, and don't have passports," the blond man continued.

"How they got through customs I'll never understand," the dark- haired man added. "Besides, I'm with the CIA, and I've got enough on those minors to arrest them as well." He scowled. "Those guys have a lot of nerve to think they have to travel to the United States to do my job!" he exclaimed loudly.

The blond man, who was more monotonous, told him to be quiet, but agreed with his complaints. "I've been to their country, and believe me, there aren't any Americans running around trying to arrest their teenagers." Suddenly, the men could hear footsteps on the overgrowth, and quickly aimed their cameras.

"Where should we put her, boss?" asked a bald man clad in black in a thick Russian accent.

Another man, whom the CIA and INS agents recognized as Barek, a local gearhead, came onto the scene. "Just lay her down a few feet from here," he grumbled.

Two more bald men approached, carrying a figure wrapped in a white sheet. The agents clicked their cameras furiously.

"Now, where did she say they were?" Barek demanded.

One of the bald men looked embarrassed. "She might have been joking. She said they were hiding in a submarine," he admitted to Barek awkwardly.

Barek smiled. "Naw, she wasn't joking. Get down to the docks... you know where they are, right?"

The bald man grinned. He remembered chasing a young man dressed as a ninja across the docks after posing as one of the docking posts. "Yes... I know where they are."

"I'll be right there. I just have one other thing to take care of. Don't enter the sub until I get there... okay?"

The men nodded and made their way out of the Walker Estate, after setting the body in the white sheet upon the ground.

The agents listened carefully, and as soon as all of the men had exited, they gathered their materials and headed to the Swans Crossing harbor to follow them.

Owen ran over to the Booth's house, a video cassette in his hand. He rang the doorbell, and Garrett appeared in the doorway.

"Owen! Are you done?" Garrett came out onto the porch and snatched the tape away from Owen. Owen smiled and flipped up the sunglasses attached to his regular glasses. "Yep. Shot and delivered," he commented happily.

"And Mila?"

Owen shrugged. "Well, she looked great!" he replied, a little too eagerly.

Garrett looked down at Owen, wearing a glare. "Excuse me?" he placed a hand on Owen's shoulder threateningly.

"Um..." Owen said nervously. "She looked great when she was dancing. Good dancer," he told him, trying to save himself. Garrett apparently believed him, because he removed his hand.

"I gotta run now, but just wait... I'm going to get this video to the producers ASAP!" Garrett ran back into the house. He charged into Glory's room, and was glad that his sister was not there to lecture him on what he was doing. He pulled down the shade at Glory's window, which was embellished with a picture of the 50's rock star Fabian. Garrett had found the shade in the attic one day, and hung it up in Glory's room, which faced Sydney's bedroom next door. When Sydney saw the shade pulled down she knew Garrett wanted to meet her at the wall. After imposing the signal, Garrett ran down the stairs and headed to No Man's Land. Several minutes later, Sydney appeared on the other side of the wall.

"You rang?" she asked wearily.

Garrett waved the tape above his head. "Owen shot the video!" he exclaimed excitedly. "Now we just have to get Sandy's song dubbed over Mila's video. Where can we use a VCR?"

"Your house?" she suggested, not wanting to invite him over to her place.

Garrett shook his head. "My parents are there packing to take a trip to the capital. What about your house?"

Sydney leaned against the wall and sighed. "I guess," she said reluctantly. "My mother's at a strategy meeting, so..."

"Great! I'll see you there!" he interrupted her, and quickly started heading next door to the Rutledge mansion.

Sydney rolled her eyes and unwillingly walked back into her house.

Jimmy swiftly climbed up the ladder and using his wrench, banged on the door of the sub. He needed to talk to Callie to see what she could make of Jazz's information, if she could make anything of it at all. Inside of the sub, Neil eagerly opened the hatch and saw Jimmy's face. "Oh, I thought you were Callie," Neil said, as the two boys headed down the hatch.

"You mean she isn't back yet?" Jimmy asked, suddenly feeling very apprehensive.

Slowly, Neil shook his head. "I thought maybe she went with you or something."

Jimmy blinked his eyes. "She's been gone over an hour!"

"I'm sure there's a logical explanation for this..." Neil replied, swallowing nervously. "Maybe she went by the Tool n' Die or something."

Jimmy wasn't even listening to him. "I told you this was going to happen! I knew she shouldn't have gone to the post office!" he stepped up to Neil who immediately backed away sensing his anger. "See what you've done! You've put another person in danger!" Jimmy shouted at him.

Neil suddenly grew irate. "You know, who do you think you are? This isn't my fault!"

Jimmy briskly climbed back up the ladder. "I've got to go find her," he mumbled, and lifted himself out of the submarine. He took off in a run, not exactly sure where he was headed. He wasn't watching where he was going, and as he dashed across the docks, he had a head on collision with someone. Jimmy quickly got up after he fell, and looked at the person before him. He gasped when he saw that the figure standing in front of him was dressed all in black, and wore an eerie mask covering his face.

Stifling a giggle, Sydney hit stop on the VCR. "And you seriously thought you could turn her into a rock star on her own?" she laughed while Garrett frowned.

"Look, the point is she will become a star... and we have just made it happen!" He ejected the tape and stood up.

Sydney rose up beside him. "So, when do I get my birth certificate?" She folded her arms across her chest, awaiting his reply.

He pulled a piece of paper from the back pocket of his khakis. "Oh... you mean this?" he asked tauntingly with a cocky smile.

Sydney reached for it, and Garrett lifted it above his head. "Ah, ah, ah Sydney. Are we not forgetting something?"

"What!?" she screamed in frustration.

"A simple 'please' is all," he replied with a wicked laugh.

"Please!" she yelled.

He shook his head. "Not nice enough, try again.

Sydney put on a phony smile. "Please, Garrett. Please give me that damned paper!"

Garrett snickered. "That's nice? Well... there isn't anything else for you to do. We just have to sit back and let the record producers make this happen." He slowly handed the paper over to her, but when she grabbed at it he pulled it away again. "But, if by some peculiar incident the producers don't buy this, then I will have to pull out my other copy." He then placed the certificate in her awaiting hands.

Sydney marveled at what she held. Although the certificate did show that one of Sydney Rutledge's foot prints had a swan-shaped birthmark, she didn't care. The fact was that she could have this tested for forgery and prove Garrett wrong. She was so elated that without thinking, she threw her arms around him in an affectionate hug.

When she realized what she had just done, she wrestled out of his grip, but Garrett held firmly onto her waist. "Wait," he said quietly. He moved towards her, and met her lips in a kiss much gentler than the previous kiss on Saturday night.

The two stood there with their lips pressed against each other for several blissful moments until they were interrupted by the creaking of the door.... and the footsteps of Mayor Rutledge.

Jimmy's mind whirled as the figure took off his mask. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that it was Saja.

"Saja, you scared me half to death! Why do you always have to run around wearing that thing?" he asked, brushing himself off from his fall.

Saja bowed his head. "Because I am a ninja warrior," he said simply. Jimmy chose to accept that answer, as strange as it was.

"So where have you been? I feel like the great Mamba Gamba has progressed, and I have been out of the loop, so to say," Saja asked

Jimmy hurriedly updated him on everything that had happened since Sydney's pool party the other night to the fact that Callie had been gone for over an hour now. "So we have to go find her!" he concluded.

Saja was a bit hurt that Callie and Jimmy had been so involved in the incidents without so much as a call to him to let him know what was going on. However, Callie and Saja were close friends, and he was worried about her. "Remember when Glory disappeared at the beginning of the summer?" Saja inquired. Jimmy nodded. "Maybe Callie's at the Walker Estate."

Jimmy agreed with the suggestion, and he and Saja raced to the Estate to search for Callie.

"What's going on here?" Mayor Rutledge yelled. Sydney and Garrett jumped apart.

"Mother, I can explain..." Sydney said, but her mother cut her off.

"What is he doing in our house? I've told you to stay away from him!" The mayor grabbed Sydney's arm and yanked her away from Garrett. "You... out of my house... NOW!" she screamed furiously at Garrett, who retreated from the mansion hastily, looking back at Sydney.

Involuntarily, tears began to roll down Sydney's cheeks. "Mother! Please don't be mad..."

Mayor Rutledge shot her daughter an icy glare. "I don't even want to talk about this. I have to go to my meeting now. But I am warning you, you are never to have any romantic relations with Garrett Booth... do you hear me?"

Sydney nodded. "Yes, Mother." Without another word Mayor Rutledge left her daughter, so sickened by what she had just witnessed that she was utterly speechless.

Sydney began to sob. If there was something she hated even more than the way Garrett made her feel, it was upsetting her mother. The mayor would probably never forgive her for what she had just done especially since she deeply despised Garrett and his father. Through her tears, Sydney could see that something had fallen from her mother's pocketbook. She knelt down on the hardwood floor and picked up the envelope Mayor Rutledge had dropped. With a sniff, she wiped the tears away with her palm, and then examined the letter.

Sydney was surprised to see that the return address on the envelope was the Booth house. Written above the address was the name Grant Booth, Garrett's father. Feeling curious, she settled onto her down comforter and opened the letter. It was dated 1977, the year that Sydney was born.

Dear Margaret,
I received your letter this afternoon, and I think that what was written should not be revealed to your husband, John. He and Cornelia should never hear of our affair. We have our children to think about! Besides, Margaret, there is no way that you can prove that I am the father of little Sydney. Let your daughter grow up believing that John is her father, for her own sake.

After reading the brief but shocking note, Sydney instantly felt a wave of nausea wash over her. The room spun, and her eyes rolled back. She collapsed onto the bed, dropping the letter on the floor.

"Callie!" Saja and Jimmy called. "Callie!"

Callie woke up from her drug induced sleep, but was unable to respond clearly to the voices shouting her name, for she was too weak. "Where am I now?" she mumured to herself, looking up at the sky.

"Look! There she is!" Saja exclaimed, coming across the girl lying on the grass covered in a white sheet. The boys raced to her side, and tried to help her up.

"Jimmy?" she mumbled, still feeling disoriented.

"Shh... I'm here," Jimmy replied comfortingly. Saja felt a pang of jealousy, but quickly pushed it away. "Do you remember what happened?" he questioned Callie as Jimmy gingerly lifted her up and helped her stand.

All of a sudden, the memory of the men in black and the knife came flooding back to her. "Oh no!" Callie cried.

"What?" the boys asked, alarmed.

She could barely catch her breath, but managed to spit out, "They made me tell them where J.T. and Neil are!"

Saja and Jimmy exchanged a glance, and the three teenagers took off to warn J.T. and Neil. They arrived at the docks quickly, since they ran the entire way. The three hurried up the ladder and jumped through the hatch of the submarine.

"Neil, J.T... they know where you are!" Callie exclaimed, and then she, Jimmy and Saja stopped dead in their tracks when they saw what was going on. In the living quarters of the sub were Glory, J.T., Neil, and Captain Walker. They were seated in chairs... and tied to them, bound and gagged. Surrounding the hostages were the three bald men, and Barek... who held a gun. He aimed the firearm at the newcomers and shouted, "On the floor now!"

Chapter Four

Moments later, Barek had proceeded to tie up Jimmy, Callie and Saja. Once they were bound and gagged he began to pace in front of his hostages, waving the gun around threateningly.

"Thought you had it all figured out... didn't you?" he asked the three as they stared up at him, unable to scream or move. "Well, do you have any idea what your little friends J.T. and Neil have been up to? Do you know that they have come across one of the most momentous scientific discoveries of our time?"

Barek asked the bald men for the manila envelope that they had stolen from Callie at the post office. After it was in his hands, he opened it in front of the group, and held out three Utranium rocks. "This is just one of the elements used in Neil and J.T.'s project. UB2B is a formula for a dynamic rocket fuel. With one missile powered by UB2B we could hold the entire world hostage. It could be launched from anywhere and would have enough fuel to reach any point in the world imaginable in a short amount of time."

Callie, Jimmy, Saja, and Glory all were stunned, although all they could do was stare at each other. This was the first they had heard of what the dynamics of the project were, and Glory especially was surprised. She couldn't believe her boyfriend was involved with such a lethal experiment.

"We, my colleagues and I, belong to the World Terrorist Organization. And you don't really think that you'd get away with holding such an important discovery in your hands... did you?" Barek thrust the pistol at J.T. "We've been working on this all our lives.. and two kids in America are able to come up with the formula in a summer!" He wrung his hands in anger. Everyone in the room tensed, as Barek was losing his temper. "When we found out that you were ordering chemicals from a company in the country where WTO has it's headquarters, we were able to come here to Swans Crossing and begin following you. You're not going to be able to bomb us first!" he yelled, moving the revolver from J.T's temple to Neil's. "I want the rest of the elements! Where are they?" J.T was growing very confused. He and Neil weren't planning to bomb anyone!

Barek realized that they couldn't answer him, so he pulled the bandannas off of the boys' mouths. "Where are they?" He asked again.

Neil trembled with fear. "I... uh, they um, are uh...." he stuttered.

"Answer me!!!" Barek bellowed.

"They're here," J.T. answered for him. "in our bag downstairs. Glory brought them for us. All of the information and the elements are in the bag," he mumbled. His voice was dull, and sounded as if he was giving up on the entire project.

Barek sent one of the bald men downstairs to retrieve the bag.

"Are you going to use it?" Neil stuttered. "Are you really going to hold the world hostage?"

Barek looked at the seven hostages, who were all staring up at him in terror and smiled slyly.

Sydney blinked. She found herself lying on her back, staring up at the cottage cheese ceiling. "What happened?" she mumbled groggily. She lifted herself off the bed, and then looked down at the floor. She saw the old, tattered letter from Grant on the hardwood floor, and everything flooded back to her.

The sick feeling came over her again, and she clutched her stomach. "Me and Garrett... brother and sister?" At this thought, Sydney felt so ill that she ran into the bathroom. She knelt down, about to get sick. She took a few deep breaths and the nausea passed. But the horrific thought of her and Garrett being related still lingered. She had to get the disgusting feeling of kissing someone she was related to off of her, so Sydney turned on the shower.

She got in, and even though the warm water felt good and relaxing, the shower spray mixed with her tears, as she was sobbing. Sydney got out, dried off and looked in the mirror. Her hair and skin were wet and clean, but her face was red and puffy.

"How could this be happening to me?" She asked herself. "Why did mother keep this a secret all these years?" Sydney buried her face in her hands and cried again. "What am I going to do... I kissed my brother!" Her more rational side kicked in. "I don't know if Garret is my brother for sure. Maybe mother thought she was pregnant with Grant's child, but it was just a mistake and it was really my father’s baby," With her bathrobe sleeve she wiped away the tears. "I mean, the letter never said Grant is definitely my father." Then she realized she had left the letter on the floor in her bedroom. She darted back into the room and stuffed the letter into one of the many boxes that littered the Rutledge home. Sydney suddenly felt very exhausted, and even though it was only six o clock, she climbed into bed and immediately drifted off to sleep.

"They're already here!" One of the CIA agents cried upon arriving at the docks. They had showed up a moment to late, and saw Barek's motorcycle parked by the sub. The taller, blond agent pulled his gun and held it up cautiously.

"I'm sure he's taken hostages... all those kids were staying here," he said. The other agent pulled out his walkie talkie from his coat. "We need some back up here at the Swans Crossing Docks. Possible hostage situation. 10-4," he spoke into the device, and then replaced it in his coat. He approached the sub and pounded against the metal. "Police! Come out with your hands up!"

The agents could hear movement inside, and pressed their ears against the sub wall.

"I've got seven hostages!" Barek roared from within. He walked over to Glory and placed the gun to her temple. She whimpered in fear. "You come chargin' in here and one of them gets it!"

The agents backed off from the building. "Okay, okay! Just tell us what you want and no one needs to get hurt."

"We want to be able to take what we have gotten from ‘Professor Vann’ and be allowed to fly back to Russia with no questions asked and no arrests made. Got it?"

"We can't let them get away," the dark-haired agent whispered. "We've been after them all summer."

The other man agreed. "That UB2B project could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. If we let them escape we'll be jeopardizing the future of the entire world!"

"Listen, we need to negotiate this," the dark-haired agent yelled to Barek in an attempt to stall him. "I don't know if we can do that. Would you agree to hand over the elements if we let you go freely back to Russia?"

Inside the sub, tears ran down Glory's cheeks. She was utterly terrified with the feeling of the gun at her head. J.T., who had been gagged again, was feeling responsible for what he had gotten Glory into, and was nearly in tears himself.

Barek thrust the gun against her harder. "I don't think that's going to work!" he yelled to the police outside. He looked back at his hostages. "I guess we're going to have to do this another way," he said, as he removed the gun from Glory and aimed it at Captain Walker. "Here's what's going to happen," he instructed. Callie watched in horror as Barek threatened her father, and the Captain was ghostly pale. Barek lowered his voice. "We're going to make the police sweat. Let there be a standoff. In the morning you," he pointed at the Captain with the pistol, "get this sub under the water and on the way to Russia. Once we're there I'll let you go... if you're lucky!"

Sydney woke up the next morning, feeling drowsy. It took a lot of effort for her to drag herself out of bed and get ready for the first day of school. After all of the strange and awful events that had taken place since Saturday, the night of her party, she had completely forgotten about school starting. "What a way to start my sophomore year," she thought, as she dressed and primped for school. She wasn't really concerned with the way she looked, she was just going through the motions. Quietly, she told Ralph, her butler, she was ready for school, and the two climbed into the Mercedes.

"Are you feeling alright Miss Sydney?" Ralph asked in his awkward British accent.

Sydney shrugged. "I'm okay," she murmured. Just great, she thought to herself. I just happen to be related to my ex boyfriend... who I just happen to have kissed twice this weekend! She laughed out loud, realizing how pathetic and awful the situation was.

The car pulled in to the crowded school parking lot, and Sydney got out of the car. "Thanks Ralph," she said absently, and began to walk towards the school.

Swans Crossing High School had been around almost as long as the town itself. It was an old, stone building, built with columns. The structure was beautiful, much like that of boarding schools in Europe. It was set on rolling grassy hills amongst lots of trees. Sydney walked up the steps, and pushed open the double doors.

"Another year," she mumbled aloud as she headed to the locker that had been assigned to her. With all that was going on in her life, Sydney was having a hard time fathoming the idea of going to math class.

Just as she got her locker open, Nancy, Mila and Sandy came bounding through the halls.

"Hello, Sydney-O!" Nancy called. Sydney looked up and rolled her eyes. She was not in the mood for happiness.

"Yeah?" she replied testily.

"I just wanted to say good morning!" Nancy said sweetly. She saw Sydney was clutching her class schedule, and ripped it from her hands.

Sydney raised an eyebrow. "Thanks Nancy."

Nancy examined the schedule and smiled. "Well what do you know! You and I have almost all of our classes together!"

Sydney shut the locker and swung her bag over her shoulder. "How thrilling."

"You know, you sound almost as depressed as the Countessa," Nancy remarked, pursing her lips.

Mila, who had been silent up until then, sighed. "I can't believe I have to go to school and Garrett isn't even here," she said, her voice breaking.

Sydney felt that familar pain in her stomach again. Just hearing Garrett's name made her feel sick. "Let's just go to class, okay?" she said softly, breaking away from her friends and quickly trotting up the stairs.

"Wake up!" A voice yelled, breaking Callie from her sleep. She felt disoriented, and it took a few minutes to realize she had fallen asleep in the chair she was tied to, and J.T., Glory, Neil, Jimmy, Saja, and her father were all waking from their uncomfortable sleep next to her.

Barek stood in front of the group, his arms crossed. The bald men stood next to him, and the one that Jazz had had a crush on was holding the gun. Barek crossed the room to untie a sleepy Captain Walker.

"We've got to escape, and you have to get this thing underwater," Barek directed. He took the gun from the bald man. "All right?" he pressed the gun to Captain Walker's back as he wordlessly led his captor downstairs to the console where the sub was controlled from.

Callie felt terrified as she watched Barek disappear with her father. She was still gagged, and could not say anything, but her chair was near Jimmy's. She reached out, and the two were able to touch fingertips, and Callie was comforted by this.

J.T. and Glory were feeling the same desperation, and stretched to hold hands. The bald men were neither moved nor annoyed by this gesture, and stood motionlessly in front of the group.

Outside the sub, the agents and the Swans Crossing Police Department circled the area. Their guns were raised, ready to shoot if necessary. But all night the stand off had been uneventful, and many of the police officers were growing tired. At this time, the press had showed up, and began to broadcast live from the scene of the stand off.

"We now interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin," said a voice on the TV. Garrett groaned. He was laying on the couch, and had been watching an episode of Ricki Lake.

"Aw man," he mumbled. He was enjoying being home while his parents were at the capitol and he didn't have to go to school, since he was supposed to leave for boarding school in a week.

A woman appeared on the screen, and she was standing at the docks. The police were surrounding Callie's sub in the background. When Garrett saw the sub, he immediately sat up. The reporter started speaking into her microphone. "We are here at the Swans Crossing docks where a man from the World Terrorist Organization is said to be inside the submarine of Captain Elia Walker. Police are speculating that he has taken several hostages, and is armed and dangerous. The names of the hostages are not being released, but are said to be several local teenagers. We will bring you more information on this breaking story as we receive it."

Ricki Lake returned to the screen, but Garrett was already putting on his jacket. If Glory was one of the hostages on that sub, he had to go save her.

Callie listened intently to try and hear what was going on in the control room. A few tears sprung to her eyes because she was so worried about her father. She quickly blinked them away and continued to listen. Meanwhile, Garrett arrived at the docks, and tried to push his way through the crowd. ""Why is it so quiet? What's going on?" he called out. No one answered him. He looked around in panic. "Glory?!" he yelled.

A shot suddenly rang out, breaking apart the silence, and both Garrett and Callie screamed in horror.

The "WTO" idea is @copy;1997 maxiom@geocities.com. A special thanks to Miss Swan- cmditico@earthlink.net and maxiom@geocities.com for some of the ideas that went into this chapter.

Chapter Five

Callie heard a blood curdling scream, and it took her a moment to realize it was hers. She squeezed her eyes shut, unable to make her brain assimilate this sound with her father possibly being the one who was shot. She wanted to call her father, but the gag made her voice sound muffled.

Then she heard a noise from down below. "Stay still!" a voice yelled, and Callie recognized it as Barek's. "Or next time I'll shoot you!" At this, Callie heaved a sigh of relief. She figured her father must have been struggling to get away from Barek, and to intimidate him he had shot into the ceiling.

In the control area, Barek had a tight grip on Captain Walker. "Why do these hostages always try and make this so hard?" he asked himself out loud. "Now hurry up and get this thing moving!" he commanded the Captain. Captain Walker was now feeling quite frightened, and decided to oblige. He sat down at the control board, and began to press buttons, pull levers and work the other controls. Barek tapped his foot impatiently.

Meanwhile, outside the sub, the crowd was going crazy. Garrett was just about losing his head. There was no doubt in his mind that Glory was in that submarine. He had thought maybe she had just left for school early, but he remembered that he hadn't seen her much the day before. She had also told him she was worried about J.T.

"I'm going to kill that Rocket Boy!" Garrett thought to himself, balling his hands into fists. He began to pace the deck wildly. "Glory!" he yelled, knowing it was of no use. "Glory!" He felt positively ill as he recalled the sound of the gun shot. "If my sister isn't okay..." Garrett could almost feel tears begin to well up in his eyes, but quickly pushed the horrible thought away. "Oh, God, please let her be okay!"

Tears fell down Sydney's cheeks as she sat on the library floor amidst paper after paper. She had printed out dozens upon dozens of articles on the history of the Rutledges and the Booths. Then she had highlighted all of them, and any connection between the two families was noted. During her search, she found her birth announcement, the article on the unfortunate death of her father, and Garrett and Glory's birth announcements. However, there was no information whatsoever about the Booths being connected to the Rutledges.

Sydney was about to give up, but then she realized there was one last issue of the Swans Crossing Gazette that she hadn't checked. She unfolded the paper, and was surprised to see an announcement made... for the engagement of Margaret Rutledge and Grant Booth!

Mila sat in her English class, wondering where Sydney was. Mrs. Enderlein had taken roll, and Sydney was supposed to be in this class. Mila wrote down the classroom expectations feeling very adult. This was the first time Mila had ever been in a real school, since she had been an actress for most of her childhood. She had gone to school on the set and had tutors. This is a lot more fun, Mila thought, remembering how she had sat at the lunch table with Sandy and Nancy in the cafeteria, much like the episodes of her former television show, "Three O' Clock Dreams" that had taken place in school. But where is everyone? she asked herself silently, snapping back to attention and realizing that there were a lot of familiar faces missing. It seemed as if Sydney had disappeared right before lunch, and that Glory, J.T., Neil, Callie, Jimmy and Saja hadn't even bothered to show up for the first day of school.

Interrupting her thoughts was a beep from the P.A. system. "Teachers, please pardon this interruption. We have a crisis situation at the Swans Crossing Docks. Students have been instructed to stay away from this area, and teachers, please do not take attendance today. Apparently, there are some students missing that are involved in this situation. Thank you."

Mila's jaw dropped. "Crisis?" Were all of her friends that were missing at the docks?

Sydney couldn't catch her breath as she read the short blurb announcing that Margaret and Grant were to be married. "What's going on?" she wondered out loud, ripping the article from the paper and stuffing it into her black backpack. The date was right before the day her mother and her father were married, and much earlier than her birthday. That familiar dizzy feeling rushed back to her again, but Sydney stood up anyway and headed out of the library. On her way out, she heard the announcement over the P.A. system that something was going on at the docks. Sydney stood in the empty hallway, leaning against a locker for support. As soon as the last bell rang she headed outside, and wandered towards the docks, even though she really had no idea where she was going.

Inside the submarine, Callie was feeling very scared. What was going to happen to them once the sub was en route to Russia? Wishing she could talk, she looked over at Jimmy, who had been very silent during this entire ordeal. She looked into his eyes, trying to convey the message that she was terrified.

Jimmy stared back at her. He realized he had come to know Callie very well because he could tell from the look in her eyes she was frightened. He wanted to comfort her, but he too was scared. He let her know he understood by nodding and returning the look. Once again, Callie reached over to brush her fingers against his, and this time, Jimmy held on to her hand.

Over on the other side of the sub, J.T. was giving Neil looks of his own. He glared at his friend. He had never imagined that UB2B would get them into so much trouble, and when he looked over at Glory, whose face was red from tears and her eyes widened in fear, J.T. became furious with Neil, and with himself. He thought back to what Jimmy had said before when they were talking in the sub:

Jimmy had followed J.T. downstairs into the room he and Neil were staying in. He shook his head and raked his fingers through his dark brown hair. "Man, what are you guys doing?"

J.T. sat down on his bed. "What are you talking about?" he avoided looking Jimmy straight in the face. He could tell his friend had overheard the argument between he and Glory.

"You’ve already put Glory's life on the line before!" Jimmy admonished him loudly. "And now you're putting your own life at risk!"

J.T. frowned. "Hey I don't need this!"

Jimmy softened a bit. "You just need to put this in perspective. What's more important? Glory or your science project?"

Now J.T. had the answer to Jimmy's question. Glory. Just wished I'd thought of that earlier, he thought to himself, looking at Glory and wincing. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive myself for this one. J.T. took Glory’s hand and held onto it tighter than he ever had before. It was almost as if he were holding on for dear life.

Glory felt J.T. squeeze her hand hard, and wondered what was going on. She looked up questioningly into his blue eyes. Being the perceptive person she was, Glory could tell that J.T. was blaming himself for what was happening. She felt the tears well up again. Her mind wandered back to the time when she and J.T. had first told each other how deep their feelings for one another were. It was in Neil's hospital room, when Neil was in a coma after being hurt in a UB2B related explosion:

"Here we are in our usual position. Neil between us," Glory said as she and J.T. sat down at the end of Neil's hospital bed.

"Right. I just wish he'd be his usual self and sit up and interrupt us." J.T. paused. "I hate him!" he suddenly remarked, becoming angered. "I mean, I hate him for risking your life, I hate him for risking his life, and I-I hate him for being so smart and so stupid-" he babbled.

"J.T.," Glory interrupted, trying to calm him down.

"And I love him and I hate him, and I've never felt anything like this before!" he continued.

"J.T., you saved Neil's life," Glory reminded him firmly. "You always protect me. You're the most courageous person I know... and I love you."

J.T. looked into her eyes, surprised. "Glory... I love you."

The couple leaned towards each other slowly, and kissed.

Glory sniffed, remembering when their lives were nearly carefree. She just wanted things to be like they were before, when she didn't know how dangerous J.T.'s project was. When she could always feel safe with J.T. Even though he was here now, he was the one who needed to be protected. Glory squeezed his hand back, and pushed her fears to the back of her mind. J.T.'s always been there for me, and now it's my turn to support him. Glory looked back at J.T., and tried to let him know what she was thinking.

Just then, as all of the hostages were trying hard to communicate with each other, movement was felt throughout the submarine.

Callie's eyes grew wide. She knew exactly what was going on. Slowly, the submarine began to submerge into the depths of the water.

Outside, the press and the onlookers gasped. They watched in horror and helplessness as the sub began to go under the water. The police stood motionless, for they were unable to do anything about it. Garrett began to scream and shout his sister's name. But then, he felt a sudden surge of inspiration. There's no way I can sit here and watch my sister disappear! he thought to himself. In a panicky and impulsive manner, Garrett leapt into the water to save Glory.

Her head was spinning as Sydney walked slowly onto the docks. There was a large crowd, all shouting at a figure in the lake who was swimming to Callie's sub which was sinking into the water. But Sydney didn't join them in their anxious cries. She moved to a more secluded area of the docks and sat down, not caring that she was getting her clothes dirty by sitting on the damp, muddy wood. "Who am I?" Sydney asked herself suddenly. She was in her own world, the outside crisis not seeming very important to her at all. "Am I Sydney Rutledge, Sydney Swan or Sydney Booth?" Tears began to wet her cheeks as she turned this question over and over in her head. "Why am I the one who always has these problems? Why do I have to worry all the time? Where did I come from? Who are my parents?" She buried her face in her hands while deep sobs escaped her body. "Will I ever know who I really am?"

"Garrett!" Mila screamed at the top of her lungs, arriving at the scene in time to see her boyfriend leaping into the water. "What's going on?" she asked the crowd, but no one could hear her over the loud cries of other people at the docks. "Garrett!" she shrieked again.

Garrett swam to the top of the sub, which was submerging slowly. He was in such a trance, thinking of nothing but saving his sister, that he wasn't even comprehending what he was doing. He was swimming against the waves, and his strength surprised himself. His wet clothes clung to him, and he was swimming so frantically that he was gulping in large amounts of water. He reached the top of the sub, and struggled to climb on the slick surface. He pulled open the hatch and water began to pour into the open hole. Garrett jumped into the hole along with the water and landed on the floor with a thump.

Glory, J.T., Neil, Callie, Jimmy, and Saja all looked up. They were shocked and thrilled to see Garrett struggling to get up and help them. Even J.T., who had been Garrett’s longtime enemy, was feeling very fortunate to have him there. But Callie was watching him in horror. She was happy that she was about to be saved, but she couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing. Water, buckets and buckets of water were coming into the sub as it sunk lower into the lake. Tears flooded Callie’s eyes as she watched the only place she had ever called home being engulfed in water.

"Barek!" cried the bald man when he noticed the water pouring in and the intruder who had fallen through the hatch. He ran to seize Garrett, grabbing him tightly by the arms. Garrett struggled from his grip, and was able to free himself by knocking him into the now knee-deep water. He raced to the group of hostages, and began to untie Glory. The other bald man waded through the water and tried to pull Garrett away, but he was so determined that he was able to fight him off without much effort.

"Barek!" the bald man screamed loudly, struggling to get up. "Barek!"

After Garrett had untied Glory, he and Glory got to work on the others until all of them were freed. Garrett started to usher them up the ladder, as the water was quickly accumulating in the room. He was unaware that Barek and Captain Walker were in the control room, so he concentrated on getting everyone else outside. The two bald men didn't pose much of a problem, since they had nearly given up on stopping the teens from escaping. Instead they just called for Barek, who didn't hear them.

"My dad!" Callie suddenly cried, wading away from the others and heading down the stairs to the control room.

"Callie! Wait!" Jimmy called after her. She can't go down there! Barek has a gun! he frantically thought to himself, his heart pounding in fear. Callie might get hurt! Jimmy headed down the stairs and grabbed her shoulder. "Callie, you can't go in there!" he yelled, trying to stop her.

Tears ran down Callie’s cheeks as the water grew deeper and deeper. "I have to," she said quietly, pulling the door open.

Barek and Captain Walker turned around. Barek took the gun that was placed against the Captain's temple and aimed it at Callie.

"No!" Jimmy shouted in panic. Things seemed to move in slow motion as Barek pulled back on the trigger.

A special thanks to Miss Swan- cmditico@earthlink.net for the help on the flashback scene "J.T. and Glory say I love you".

Chapter Six

"No!" Jimmy shouted in panic. He grabbed Callie and pulled her down on to the floor, squeezing his eyes shut because he knew the gun shot would make a loud noise. They waited a second, but there was nothing.

Barek stared down at his gun. He must have shot a blank! At this realization, Callie and Jimmy pushed themselves off of the wet floor and raced up the stairs. Captain Walker followed, but Barek was right at their heels.

Barek aimed and shot again, this time causing a bullet to come out of the gun. Fortunately, his aim wasn't good though, and he narrowly missed the escaping hostages.

Quickly, Jimmy, Callie, and the Captain reached the ladder and were now working their way up the hatch.

"Stop!" Barek cried, hurrying to apprehend them. Abandoning the gun, he climbed up the ladder and grabbed at Jimmy, who was the last one heading up. Barek clutched onto Jimmy's pant leg, and pulled down. Since the ladder was extremely slippery, Jimmy tumbled off of it and fell back into the sub, which was now filled with water deep enough to swim in. Everything went black when Jimmy went under the water, and he instantly felt disoriented. He didn't know which way was up, and flailed his arms about, trying to surface.

"Jimmy!" Callie screamed, when she looked back and realized he had fallen into the sub. She could see him under the water, but he looked like he was having trouble swimming. She also saw Barek, who was now coming after her. Callie took a deep breath and plunged into the water after Jimmy.

Callie swam, and was able to grab him. She struggled to pull him up. The water was growing deeper and deeper, and was splashing wildly around the sinking sub. Barek lunged at them. Out of breath, Callie turned around and with all her might, kicked Barek in the stomach.

"Ow!" Barek moaned, stumbling and splashing into the water. Realizing that this was their only chance to escape, Jimmy and Callie swam up to the hatch, and climbed up the part of the ladder that wasn't engulfed in water. When they pulled themselves up to the docks, paramedics and reporters swarmed around them.

"Are you all right?" one of the paramedics asked. They handed Callie a towel and began to check her vital signs. Callie could say nothing. "Miss, are you okay?" they tried again. Callie then realized someone was talking to her and she nodded, her eyes fixated on the water. The water blurred together until she couldn't see anything. It took her a minute to figure out she was crying. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks. She sobbed quietly, which was very uncharacteristic of Callie. But at the sight of her home sinking into the lake, she couldn't do anything but cry.

Jimmy was a bit taken aback by the sight of Callie crying, but he rushed to her side and gently took her into his arms. Callie buried her face into his shoulder as tears streamed down her face. Jimmy stroked her wet hair, holding her as she sobbed helplessly.

"This is all my fault!" Callie whispered to him.

"No, it's not," he replied quietly. "Everything's going to be okay." "I've just ruined my father's entire life's work," she said between sobs. "He'll never forgive me!"

"Shh, yes he will," Jimmy answered soothingly. "He's your father. He loves you." Jimmy looked up at the Captain who was standing a few feet away. His face was expressionless as he silently stared at his sinking home. He looked much like a statue, still and cold. "He'll forgive you," Jimmy assured Callie again, hugging her tightly. He then looked back at the Captain and wondered whether or not what he had just said was true.

Suddenly, the crowd gasped, and everyone looked up. Out of the top of the sub, which had about a minute left before it completely sunk, came Barek. He was soaking wet, and had an evil, vengeful look in his eyes. Following him were his partners, the two bald men.

"Freeze!" said the CIA agent, aiming his gun at Barek, who swam to the dock and climbed up. Barek was now powerless. His gun had sunk with the submarine, and the entire Swans Crossing police force surrounded him. He glared at Jimmy and Callie, and at Garrett who had foiled his plan. Slowly, Barek raised his hands in surrender.

The agent cuffed him, and then the bald men, who all stood, unmoving. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law," said the agent as he proceeded to read them their rights.

"Excuse me? What is your name?" a reporter shoved a microphone in Garrett's face. He stood on the docks, his arm wrapped protectively around his sister.

"Garrett Booth," he replied, smiling for the camera.

"We understand that you were the one to free all of these hostages and to bring down the plan of the three terrorists. Tell us, how does it feel to have just foiled the only hostage situation in Swans Crossing history?"

Garrett beamed and tossed his head arrogantly. "All I have to say is," he paused dramatically. "Ooh, I love myself!"

The reporter laughed, and moved on to interview some of the other teenagers. Mila, who had been watching Garrett's interview, came running towards him. She flung herself into his arms, nearly knocking him over.

"I love yourself, too," she whispered to him. Garrett pulled away from Mila slightly and looked into her eyes. He cupped her chin in his hand and kissed her in front of everyone.

Sydney watched as Mila and Garrett stood on the docks, kissing and hugging, and then kissing again. She sunk back down to the ground and burst into hysterical tears.

"J.T.!" Glory cried from across the docks. She had left Garrett when Mila had approached him, and now she hurried to J.T.

"Glory!" he yelled back, and pulled her into his arms. "I'm so sorry Glory," he whispered hoarsely. "I never meant for any of this to happen. I should have listened to you!"

"We're all right now, J.T. And we're together. That's all that matters," Glory told him sincerely, looking into his eyes.

"You mean you forgive me for creating this whole mess?" he asked incredulously.

She nodded and smiled for the first time since Sydney's party. "Of course I do!"

J.T. laughed with relief. "Thank you so much! I love you!"

Glory stood on her tiptoes and brushed her hand against his cheek. "I love you, too!" she exclaimed, and the two leaned towards each other.

"J.T. Adams?" spoke a sudden voice from behind them. J.T. and Glory reluctantly stopped moving closer.

"Yes?" J.T. answered the agent. As J.T. met his eyes, the agent groaned inwardly. He didn't like what he was about to do. He could tell just by the way that J.T. looked at Glory that he was a good kid. But nonetheless he had broken the law. Wincing, the agent pulled out a pair of handcuffs and snapped them around his wrist.

"You have the right to remain silent..."

Upon hearing about the crisis situation in town, Mayor Rutledge left her meeting and rushed to the scene. When she reached the docks, she saw her daughter sitting on the ground beyond the crowd, sobbing.

"Sydney!" the Mayor called. She quickly knelt down on the docks beside her. "Darling, are you okay?"

Sydney didn't answer her mother. She couldn't tell her what was wrong, even if she wanted to. The Mayor held on to her daughter and rubbed her back, trying to calm her down. "It's okay, honey."

Sydney hiccupped, and continued to cry irrationally.

Mayor Rutledge felt a chill run down her spine. Does she know?

After the last of the sub sunk into the lake, most people began to clear the scene.

"Walker Woman?" Jimmy asked Callie, gently pulling away from her.

"Yeah?" she sniffed. Most of the tears had ceased.

"Would you and your father like to stay at my house tonight?" he asked, offering her his hands. Callie placed her hands in his, and managed a tiny smile. "That would be really nice. I guess I have to ask my dad, though." The two walked cautiously over to the Captain.

"Dad?" Callie said carefully.

"Yes?" he replied, not turning to look at her. His voice was flat, and barely audible.

"Jimmy offered to let us stay at his house tonight, since..." her voice trailed off.

Captain Walker finally turned around to face them. "That's nice of you young man," he told Jimmy stiffly. "But I think I'll stay in a hotel. Callie, you can stay at the Booths' with Glory."

"Okay," she agreed quietly, her voice wavering. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then?" she asked her father.

"Yes," he answered shortly, and then walked away without so much as a hug goodbye.

Callie turned to Jimmy, a lump rising in her throat. "Well, I better go make sure that I can stay at the Booths'," she said with a sardonic laugh. Jimmy also felt a lump rising in his throat. Callie looked positively miserable. "I'm coming over there first thing in the morning." He grinned at her, trying to make her smile.

"Thanks," she replied, lowering her eyes. "I guess I'd better go now." Callie then thought of how coldly her father had just treated her, and a single tear fell.

Jimmy placed his hand on her shoulder, and kissed her cheek where the tear had fallen. "Remember, I'm here for you, okay?"

Finally, Callie smiled up at him. "That means a lot, Jimmy," she told him, and softly returned the kiss by pecking his cheek lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Glory watched in horror as Neil and J.T. were placed into a squad car. The police started the car, and it began to move away from the scene.

"No!" Glory screamed, running after the car. She was acting completely irrational, but she didn't care. All she wanted was for J.T. to be safe at home, and for everything to return to normal. "J.T.!" she cried, but she was no match for a car, and it drove off into the distance.

"Glory!" Garrett called, grabbing his sister by the arm.

"J.T." was all she could say. "J.T...."

Garrett pulled her away from the scene, as she stared at the spot where the squad car had been. "Come on, I'm taking you home."

As they began to walk away, Garrett's arm around Glory's for support, Callie rushed up to them.

"Garrett? Can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked.

"Sure, what's up?" he replied.

"Well, I just wanted to say what you did back there was really brave," she admitted, even though she was upset at the destruction of her home.

"Thanks," he said. Then he and Glory proceeded to walk away again.

"Wait! I wasn't finished," she called after them. Garrett turned back. "Would it be too much to ask if I could stay with you guys tonight?"

Garrett shrugged. "I guess not. My parents won't be back until tonight and I don't think they'd mind."

When the three arrived at the safe and comfortable Booth home, Callie immediately began to feel a little better.

Garrett set Glory up on the sofa. She was completely silent, and had a far-away look on her face.

"Garrett, could I talk to Glory alone for a minute?" Callie asked. She could tell her friend needed some comforting, and she might be able to help more than Garrett, just because Callie was a little bit more understanding than him.

"Sure," he replied, as he retreated to his bedroom.

"Glory?" Callie started, sitting next to her on the couch. Glory sat up, keeping the blanket wrapped around her. "Do you want to talk?"

Glory looked blankly at her friend. "I don't know," she whispered.

"Glory, everything is going to be fine," Callie said, trying hard to make Glory feel better. "I know that you've heard this before, but it's the truth. I'm sure J.T. isn't going to go to juvenile hall or anything."

"But we don't know that," she protested quietly. "J.T. broke the law, and something is going to happen to him and Neil."

Callie nodded. "True," she admitted. "But you're the one who is always optimistic during situations like this. At least J.T. is safe."

Glory shrugged and fell back onto her pillow. "I guess."

Callie decided to go upstairs and get changed out of her damp clothes. As she climbed the stairs, she heard a key turning in the door. She looked up, frightened and gripped the staircase banister.

"Glory! Garrett!" Mr. and Mrs. Booth called as they unlocked the door and dropped their luggage on the carpet.

Glory jumped from the couch and leapt into her mother's arms.

"We just heard on the news what happened," Cornelia Booth exclaimed in her southern drawl. "Are you okay?"

Glory nodded and began to cry. "Yes, but, J.T...." she choked out her words between tears. Callie looked on, feeling very awkward.

Garrett heard movement below, and emerged from his bedroom. "Mom, Dad, what are you doing home?"

Mrs. Booth brought Garrett down into the living room and hugged him tightly. "Well, here's our little hero!" Garrett blushed as he caught a glimpse of Callie snickering at him.

"Son?" Grant Booth began. He had been quiet during his wife's affectionate display with her children. "Can I have a word with you?" Mr. Booth pulled Garrett aside while Mrs. Booth tried to comfort Glory.

"Yeah Dad?" he asked nervously, switching his weight from one foot to the other. He was worried about what his father wanted to talk to him about. He might be a hero to most of Swans Crossing, but Grant always had a way of seeing things differently.

"I'm proud of what you did today," he admitted, placing a hand on his son's shoulder.

Garrett didn't hide his surprise. "Really?"

"You did a great thing for this town today. You saved the lives of several people, and you helped the police out. You risked your life for your little sister, and you truly are a 'little hero' in your mother's words." Mr. Booth beamed down at his son. "You showed quite a bit of maturity and responsibility today. And I have thought this over long and hard, and I have decided that you are grown-up enough to decide where you want to go to school. If you want to go to Swans Crossing High School instead of Nichol a Vech Meia, that's your choice."

Garrett's jaw dropped. "Are you serious?" he asked, his voice raising several octaves. "I can stay?!"

Mr. Booth nodded.

"Yes! All right!" Garrett exclaimed, jumping up and down. He was so elated that he began to run around the house, whooping and hollering. "Hear that Glory? I get to stay!" Garrett hugged his sister, his mother, Callie, and then his father.

"Thank you," Garrett whispered sincerely to his father. "Thank you so much."

Mr. Booth nodded, and glanced at his wife, who was offering Glory a cup of hot chocolate. "I think we all have you to thank, too."

Mayor Rutledge opened the door to Sydney's bedroom, and led her daughter to her bed. Sydney had stopped crying, and had grown very quiet.

"Honey, I think you should get into bed now," her mother told her softly, in a comforting tone. Sydney nodded, and slowly plodded into the bathroom and changed into her pajamas.

Like she did when Sydney was a child, Mayor Rutledge tucked her into bed. "You'll be okay, sweetheart," she said, feeling slightly frightened, still wondering if somehow Sydney had discovered the truth. "Good night."

"Good night," Sydney mumbled, her throat thick from all of her previous crying. She turned over on the soft, down pillow, and fell into a fitful sleep. All of the trauma she had experienced in the last 24 hours was really affecting her, even her dreams....

"Good morning sweetie!" Cornelia Booth said when her daughter came down the stairs into the kitchen.

Dressed in a floral print shirt and jeans, Sydney sat down at the kitchen table.

"Here's your breakfast!" she exclaimed, setting a bowl of cereal, a plate of toast, and a glass of orange juice in front of Sydney.

"Thanks Mom!" Sydney replied happily.

Just then Garrett came trotting down the stairs. "Good morning Mom!" he said, pecking his mother on the cheek. He came up to Sydney. "Morning Sis!" He kissed her on the cheek as well.

Sydney immediately sat up in bed, panting, in a cold sweat. She closed her eyes and collapsed back onto the bed. "What a nightmare!" she moaned.

The agents seated J.T. and Neil in a room as soon as they had arrived at the Swans Crossing Police Department.

"Wait here, we'll be right back," they told them, leaving Neil and J.T. alone.

Neil rubbed his wrist, his hand hurting a bit from the tight handcuffs. "I can't believe it's over," he muttered monotonously.

J.T. nodded, and felt too exhausted to become angry with Neil. "UB2B will never be," he remarked, kicking his feet up onto the desk. "And we're never going to make it big in the scientific world."

Neil looked up at him. "Well, maybe someday."

J.T. laughed sarcastically. "Yeah, like in six years."

"Maybe I should go into cosmetics like my dad," Neil said, a faraway look in his eyes.

J.T. furrowed his eyebrows. "You mean you want to give up scientific research for good?" he asked incredulously, turning to his friend.

"You're the one complaining. We should just admit that it's over and move on," Neil answered in an irritated tone.

"Come on, Buckyball. We've worked so hard," J.T. reminded him, his voice losing some of the pessimism that he had expressed before.

Neil was about to respond when the agents returned. "Hello, boys. I'm Agent Guyette," said the blond man. "And this is Agent Pensky. We're here to interrogate you."

Neil and J.T. exchanged glances. Agent Guyette continued, "Here's how this works. I'm going to turn on this tape recorder, and I want you to answer each of the questions as honestly as you can. Then you will be released to your parents, after a court date has been issued. Okay?"

The boys nodded.

"Okay, let's get on with this then. When did you begin research for UB2B?"

J.T looked down, and when Neil didn't reply, he decided to field the question. "At the beginning of the summer."

"Were you aware of the age restrictions when you ordered chemicals from the Ukraine?"

Neil broke into a cold sweat. "I-uhm..."

"Yes," J.T. replied quietly.

"And you did it anyway?" Agent Pensky interjected.

"Yes," he said again.

"So you admit to lying on your application and assuming the identity "Professor Vann'?" Agent Guyette asked, his voice sounding irritated.

"Yes, I do," J.T. quickly responded.

"And you as well Mr. Atwater?" he asked, turning to Neil.

"I, um, well, uh, yes." he stuttered.

Agent Guyette handed Agent Pensky the yellow legal pad, and Pensky began to pace in front of the boys.

"Now for the big question," he said, pausing. "Will you please explain UB2B, everything from how the formula worked, to how you discovered it, to what your intentions for this formula were?"

Neil looked at J.T, his eyes wide. He wiped the sweat from his brow, and took a deep breath. "Well, it all began..."

A special thanks to my friend Erica for an inside joke in this story. I know you get it!

Chapter Seven

"Well, it all began at the very end of the school year," Neil began, as he proceeded to tell the agents the story of UB2B. "We told my dad that we were going to be working on creating a new collagen facial mask."

Agent Pensky raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Well, my dad is in the cosmetics business. If he thought we were working on something like a facial mask he would fund us and let us use his lab for research," Neil explained.

"So basically you lied to your dad?" Pensky asked in a critical tone.

Neil seemed to get nervous again, as if he was trying very hard not to say anything incriminating. "Well, yes, I uh, um, I suppose I did. I mean, uh, it was for a good cause and everything. I figured we'd tell him the truth once we became famous," he stuttered.

Pensky sensed his apprehension, and let him off the hook with that question. "Continue."

"Well, we tested the first rocket at the beginning of the summer, but it didn't go very far, and blew up right away. We realized we needed to create a heat shield, so we began to work on that. I tried to test it myself in the mine field, but it didn't work either and I ended up in the hospital." Agent Guyette frowned. "I'm still confused. What exactly was UB2B?"

"It was a self perpetuating rocket," J.T. jumped in. "It wouldn't need any fuel besides the UB2B elements put into it. Sort of like solar power except it wouldn't be the sun that would move it, it would just move on its own. It could be used to power rockets at NASA so that the astronauts on missions would never run out of fuel. It could eventually even be used for something as simple as powering our cars and electricity in our homes. UB2B never loses its power and you never have to replace it. It would cut down immensely on pollution, and when used in space shuttles, we could greater the distance we could travel," he explained sullenly. When he talked about it aloud all he could do was think of how this great discovery would never be introduced to the world, especially not by him and Neil.

Pensky and Guyette appeared to be impressed. "Quite a discovery for two people as young as yourselves," Guyette remarked with a small smile. "But according to the men from the WTO, you were planning to use this fuel to bomb the former Soviet Union, and they wanted to get it first so they could bomb us and take the rest of the world hostage with a missile powered by UB2B."

Neil shook his head wildly. "No! That's not even close to why we were doing this! We wanted to win the Nobel Peace prize, be famous for doing something to better the world. We knew we were too young to begin with, so we created Professor Vann. But even though we were breaking the law in essence, we were doing it for good reason! We weren't going to bomb anyone!"

Guyette and Pensky exchanged glances. "We need to discuss your statement alone for a moment, so if you will excuse us," Pensky told them.

The men exited the room, and Neil and J.T. sighed. "Whew! That was sort of tense," J.T. commented, leaning back in his chair and running his fingers through his unruly hair.

Neil nodded. "At least it's over," he said. Just then, the two men came back into the room.

"We need you to sign this saying you agree that you were interrogated, and you agree that what is on this tape is the statement you gave us." Pensky handed the slip of paper and a pen to the boys. J.T. and Neil took it and each signed the paper.

"You will be required to attend court on Friday. You will need to give the judge a testimony similar to what you have told us. The others we have in custody will also be put on the stand, and you will be cross examined by their lawyers. Then, after hearing what has been said, the judge will make a decision upon what your punishment will be," Guyette explained. "I think it would be in your best interest to have a lawyer present at the hearing. Your friends who were taken hostage along with you will be summoned to testify. But for now, you're free to go. We have your parents in the waiting room, so we are releasing you to their custody right now."

J.T. and Neil looked at each other worriedly, both thinking the same thing. How were they going to explain this to their parents?

"Saja!" Sandy called, hurrying across the docks. The crowd had thinned out, the reporters had gone away, and now it was just the two of them standing near the waterfront in the moonlight.

"Sandy, hi," Saja replied shyly, standing up. He had been sitting on the docks, soaking his feet in the water.

"Can I join you?" she asked him. He gave her a warm smile. "Of course." Saja and Sandy sat down, and there was an awkward silence.

"You're really brave you know," Sandy told him, staring off into the horizon.

He looked at her, and realized how pretty she was in the moonlight. "Brave? Me?" Saja said in a surprised tone of voice. She looked back at him, and smiled bashfully. "Yeah, you. To be able to keep your head in such a dangerous situation takes a lot of courage." she said. He shook his head humbly. "Nah. I had no choice, really."

Sandy laughed. "Don't be so modest! You," she paused and looked into his eyes. "You are really an amazing person," Sandy remarked quietly. After she said this she looked away, nervously avoiding his eyes.

"Do you mean that?" Saja asked her tentatively. No one had ever been so sincerely complimentary towards him.

"Of course I mean that. You're brave, and you inspire me a lot. With my song, giving up meat, and being myself," Sandy was speaking very softly, but Saja could hear her because the twilight was so silent and still.

Being yourself? Saja thought to himself. He didn't really think he was one to inspire self-assurance. After all, he wasn't even really Saja, he was Bobby. Over the years he had "tried on" a myriad of different personalities. Nonetheless, it felt nice to have someone hold such regard towards him.

"I admire you Saja," Sandy told him, almost in a whisper.

Saja grinned at her, touched. "I wish there was a way to let you how much that means to me."

"Dad, I-" Neil said, trying to keep his voice down. It was embarrassing enough having his father pick him up from the police station. He didn't want all of the staff members at the SCPD to be staring at him as well.

"I understand perfectly," Mr. Atwater responded in a sharp tone. "You lied to me, you broke the law, and then you nearly got six other people killed!"

"I know, I mean, it wasn't supposed to be that way..." Neil insisted, his voice raising several octaves. "No one was supposed to know about this."

Mr. Atwater was fuming. "Oh... I get it!" he exclaimed sarcastically. "So if you hadn't gotten caught everything would be fine?"

Neil nervously shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "I didn't mean it that way."

Neil's father shook his head, and looked at his son, who was purposely trying to avoid his eyes. "I'm really disappointed in you," he told him softly.

This seemed to hurt Neil more than the yelling had. "I'm sorry," he replied to his father, feeling defeated.

Mr. Atwater turned away, and began to walk out of the police station. "’Sorry’ just isn't good enough."

The next day was the second day of school at Swans Crossing High. Garrett walked through the hallway, tossing his backpack over his shoulder. He was feeling incredibly confident and totally overjoyed that he was able to go to school in Swans Crossing, and not in France. He had gone to the front office and gotten his schedule, his locker number, and Mila's locker number. He found Mila's locker, and ducked down in the row behind it. A few minutes later, Mila came walking down the hall with Sydney.

"What a day yesterday was!" Mila remarked. She twirled her combination lock and tossed her books into her locker.

"Yeah," Sydney replied monotonously with a faraway look in her eyes.

"Are you okay?" Mila asked, noticing her friend seemed rather forlorn. Sydney nodded, but said nothing. Mila continued, "Well, I was upset yesterday." she paused. "Actually, when I think about it I still am. Garrett's not here." Sydney rolled her eyes.

"Oh, I'm not?" a male voice answered. Garrett jumped up, and Mila's jaw dropped.

"Garrett?! What are you doing here?" she exclaimed, running up to him and giving him a big hug.

"Well, my dad was so impressed with my rescue effort yesterday that he let me stay in Swans Crossing!" He smiled broadly. "So here I am!"

Mila hugged him tighter. "I can't even believe this! This is so great! So you're here for good?"

Garrett gazed at her tenderly. "I'm here to stay."

Sydney saw him look at Mila, that same look he'd given her in the parking lot when they kissed after her end of summer party. She felt her stomach turn, wondering why, after all she knew now about her family history, she was wishing he would look at her in the same romantic way. Garrett and Mila seemed to take no notice in the fact that Sydney was standing there with them, so she scurried away.

Garrett looked up and saw Sydney take off. He felt a strange sensation come over him. "Mila, I have to go, uh, find out where my classes are, so I'll see you later?"

Mila nodded enthusiastically, completely oblivious to the tension between her boyfriend and her best friend. "Okay." Garrett kissed her cheek. "Bye."

Jimmy pulled opened the double door to Swans Crossing High and he, Callie, and Glory stepped inside.

"I'm going to go see if J.T. is here," Glory told them quietly. She excused herself and began trotting down the hall.

Jimmy noticed that Callie had remained pretty silent on the walk to school. "Are you all right, Walker Woman?" he asked her.

She turned to him and shrugged. "Well, it's been a weird couple of days. It's kind of hard to get over all of this so quickly, you know?"

Jimmy sensed that she was getting a bit defensive, and decided not to pursue the subject any further. "So, what do you think of Swans Crossing High?"

Callie looked around and began to take in her surroundings. Swans Crossing High was similar to the other schools she had attended, although it seemed shinier and cleaner. The inside of the building was proof of just how wealthy the town of Swans Crossing was. There wasn't any graffiti on the lockers, the floor wasn't littered with trash, and the windows overlooked a beautiful, grassy campus.

"It's a very nice school," she responded, leaning up against the locker beside Jimmy's. "I don't know, I just-" Callie stopped and looked up at him.

"What's wrong?" he asked with concern.

"Well, it’s just that I haven't really been to a school in a very long time," she said softly.

Jimmy looked into her brown eyes, which were clouded. She’s been really fragile ever since the whole deal with Barek and her sub, he observed. "How long is ‘a very long time’?" he pried gently.

"Elementary school, actually," Callie told him in a quiet voice. "I mean, you know my dad and I didn't really settle down until we came here to Swans Crossing." Jimmy could tell from the look in her eyes that just speaking of her father was making her upset. "I'm kind of nervous about starting school here. I don't really know how things work at this school, or any school for that matter."

Jimmy lowered his eyes to meet hers. "Well, if it makes you feel in any better, I'll show you the ropes."

Callie nodded. "Okay," she replied somewhat noncommittally.

Jimmy glanced at her and frowned. She was trying hard to hide it, but she still appeared to be so woeful. "I'm really glad you're here, you know," he told her in an effort to lift her spirits. She looked up at him. "Really?" she asked.

His frown turned into a smile. "Yeah. It's going to be a lot better going to school this year, when..." his voice trailed off.

"When what?"

"When I can be with you," he concluded softly.

Callie’s lips finally started twitching into a smile. "Thanks. I'm, uh, going to like going to school with you too," she said coyly.

Jimmy shut his locker and then outstretched his hand. Wordlessly, Callie placed her palm on his, and they walked down the halls of Swans Crossing High together.

"Sydney!" Garrett called down the hall.

Sydney kept walking, acutely aware that Garrett was coming up behind her. She didn't want him to see the tears in her eyes.

He grasped her arm, and forced her to turn around.

"What?" she demanded hoarsely.

"Why did you run off like that when I was with Mila?" he asked.

She avoided his stare. "No reason," she replied.

Garrett shook his head, an arrogant smile spreading across his face. "I think it's because Sydney's a little jealous," he taunted her.

She turned away. "Don’t be ridiculous! Of course I’m not!" she exclaimed defiantly.

"Come on Sydney, as much as you hate to admit it, you still have a thing for me, don't you?" Garrett raised his arms above her, pinning her to the locker.

"You're delirious," she murmured, involuntarily submitting to his gaze. Why does it feel so good to have him so near? Sydney asked herself. He might very well be my brother! But then a sudden thought occurred to Sydney. What if I really was switched at birth with Sandy Swan? Then that wouldn't make Garrett my brother, it would make him Sandy's brother!

A slow, vindictive smile began to spread across Sydney’s face. I don't think Garrett could imagine anything worse than being related to Sandy Swan! she thought to herself victoriously.

Garrett noticed that she was grinning. "See!" he exclaimed, feeling slightly triumphant. "I knew that you still had feelings for me."

Sydney rolled her eyes and pretended she hadn't heard him declare her "love" for him. "Garrett," she began. "There's something I have to tell you."

At around nine o' clock that morning, J.T. awoke in his hammock which he used as a bed, feeling tired and groggy.

"What a night," he moaned, scratching his head and stumbling out of bed. He had gotten to sleep at about three that morning. The police had released Neil and him at around nine o' clock the previous night, and then upon arriving home he had been grilled by his parents for an eternity. J.T. looked around his room forlornly, at his desk where his computer used to sit. As a punishment his parents had repossessed his computer, among many of his other things that had been used in the development of UB2B.

J.T picked up some papers that sat on his desk and flung them at the wall. "This isn't fair!" he yelled to no one in particular. All of this time, energy, and money wasted! he thought furiously. The telephone rang and he grabbed it so violently, he nearly knocked down his desk. "What?" he answered in a hostile voice.

"J.T., it's Glory," Glory said, her voice becoming subdued. She hadn't expected him to answer so rudely.

"Glory, hi," he replied, his tone softening, but not by much. "Where are you?" On her end of the line he could hear lots of noise, so she was obviously on a pay phone.

"I'm at school, where I thought you would be, too," she told him, her face wrinkling in confusion. She found it sort of strange he didn't know it was a school day.

"Well after a night like last night, I didn't really feel up to going to school," he answered defensively.

"What happened?" she asked with concern.

J.T. rolled his eyes, thinking of all the awful events that had happened in the past twenty-four hours. "I was grilled by the police, given a court date, and then sent home to be grilled again by my parents."

"I'm sorry." Glory felt so bad for J.T. All he had ever wanted to do was help people, and to make a name for himself in the science world. He didn't deserve this.

"Don't be, Glory," J.T. assured her, sounding much more like his normal self. "I didn't mean to take this out on you, it's just been a really rough time for me right now."

Glory felt her heart soar. She wished she could reach through the phone and hold his hand. "It's going to be okay, I know it is. You're a strong person."

J.T. sighed and sat down at his now empty desk. "I guess. I just hate to have brought you into this. You're going to have to testify at the hearing, you know."

Glory raised an eyebrow. She hadn't known she was going to be a witness, but she wasn't about to let J.T. know that this made her a bit uncomfortable. "That's all right."

J.T. heard a school bell ring on her end of the phone. "I guess you have to go."

"Yeah," Glory agreed. There was an awkward silence. "I'll call you when I get home?"

"Okay," he said in a strained voice. "Bye."

"Bye," she replied, and slowly hung up the phone.

There was something in Sydney's tone that made Garrett uneasy.

"What?" he asked her urgently. "What do you have to tell me?"

Sydney ducked from under him, and then looked him straight in the eyes. "When you told me that I was switched at birth with Sandy Swan, I thought it was all a big joke."

Garrett nodded. "Yeah?"

"Well, now I don't care if I am Sandy Swan, because at least I'm not the one who's related to her," she declared boldly.

He furrowed his eyebrows at her. "What are you talking about?"

Sydney opened her mouth to speak, but then the bell rang. "I guess I better go," she said, and started walking away from him. "We'll talk about this later!"

Garrett scowled at her, but felt a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. Who is she talking about? Who's related to Sandy Swan?

Meanwhile, inside a plush office in Hollywood, California, Robert Clark went through a stack of mail that was sitting on his desk.

He came across a large manila envelope. The return address was in Swans Crossing. Hmm, he mused. That's where Mila lives.

Curiously, Mr. Clark opened the envelope, and saw that it contained a single video tape. Clutching the package in his hand, he exited his office.

"Dave?" he called.

Dave Nascarella, a talent scout at the record company, ducked out of his office. "Yeah Bob?"

Mr. Clark scowled. He didn't like it much when subordinates called him "Bob" or "Bobby".

"I think we need to find a VCR and take a look at this tape," he told him, tossing the envelope to Dave.

Dave glanced at it, and saw that it was from Swans Crossing, Maine. "Isn't this where your niece lives now?" he asked.

Robert nodded. "I want to see what this is all about," he replied.

Dave shrugged, and went into the conference room where he knew there was a VCR. He popped the tape into the machine, and a gorgeous blond girl of no more than fifteen years old appeared on the screen.

She danced around to some pop music, and then began to sing. Her voice was beautiful! He watched the video, enchanted. It wasn't often that the record company found someone of such profound talent, and in such a strange way. The company rarely ever received music videos, it was usually just demos that they checked out.

"Bob!" Dave called urgently. "I think you better come see this!"

And thanks to darkforce3@earthlink.net for correcting an inconsistency in my previous chapters and for the idea for the situation between Sydney and Garrett.

Chapter Eight

Garrett sat in math class, staring at Sydney's back. He wasn't able to concentrate on Mr. Pahl pacing in front of the chalk board drawing cubes. His mind kept wandering to the scene between him and Sydney an hour or so earlier in the hallway. Garrett had been talking to Sydney, taunting her, claiming she still had a thing for him. Then she said in a low voice, "There's something I have to tell you."

"What?" he asked her urgently. "What do you have to tell me?"

Sydney ducked from under him, and then looked him straight in the eyes. "When you told me that I was switched at birth with Sandy Swan, I thought it was all a big joke."

Garrett nodded. "Yeah?"

"Well, now I don't care if I am Sandy Swan, because at least I'm not the one who's related to her," she declared boldly.

He furrowed his eyebrows at her. "What are you talking about?"

She opened her mouth to speak, but then the bell rang.

Garrett just couldn't figure this out. How could someone be related to Sandy when he had doctored the birth certificate as a hoax, to get revenge on Sydney for what she had done to him?

"Psst! Sydney?" he called softly, so the teacher would not hear them. She ignored him, so he began to tap her on the shoulder with this pencil. "Sydney?"

When Mr. Pahl's back was turned, she turned around and glared at him. "What do you want?"

"I want to know what you were going to tell me about Sandy," he said.

Sydney smiled slyly. It was nice to hold something over Garrett's head for once. "Not here," she protested.

Garrett felt uneasy. Why won't she talk about it here? What could this possibly be about? "Please Sydney?" he asked in a pleading voice.

She shook her head and turned back to face the front of the class. "Sorry Garrett."

Garrett buried his face in his hands, which Sydney took as a sign of defeat.

The bell rang and Mr. Pahl excused the class. Garrett jumped from his desk and rushed out the door. He leaned up against the wall and waited for Sydney to come out of the classroom. When she did he grabbed her by the arm.

"Hey! What are you doing?" she yelped.

He pulled her over to the drinking fountain. "I want to know what you were trying to tell me earlier, and I want to know it now."

Glory sat down at a table with Mila, Sandy and Nancy during lunch time.

"Where's Sydney?" Mila asked, noticing her friend was gone.

Nancy shrugged nonchalantly. "Who knows? Sydney's been acting pretty strange lately." She looked over at Glory, who had just arrived at the table. "So where's J.T. ?" she asked her.

Glory's face became guarded. "He's not at school today," she answered in a fairly harsh tone.

Nancy raised an eyebrow. "Well I know that," she said coolly. "So where is he?"

Glory sighed. "I'd really rather not talk about it," she replied softly.

Nancy shrugged again. "Fine. So, Mila, are you going to the cheerleading tryouts today after school?"

Mila nodded enthusiastically. "I can't wait." She looked across the lunchroom dreamily. "And it won't be too hard since Garrett will be there."

Nancy rolled her eyes, but Mila didn't notice. "So good old Garrett gets to stay in town huh?" she said to no one in particular. "Lucky us," she added under her breath. She turned to Mila again. "Well, you're a shoo-in as far as cheerleading goes. I'm sure no one else is going to be able to show you up."

Glory looked up from her sandwich. "I'm going to try out," she spoke up quietly. All eyes were now on her.

"Oh you are?" Nancy said. She gave Mila a glance as to say, "Well, good luck!" and then smiled a big, phony smile. "That's nice."

"So Sandy, are you excited about the concert?" Glory asked, deciding she didn't like where this conversation was going.

Sandy smiled. "Very. A little nervous too, though."

"Well, I'm sure you'll be great," Glory told her brightly.

"Thanks," Sandy replied shyly.

"I can't wait either," Mila spoke up.

Now it was everyone's turn to look at her. Sandy groaned inwardly. Leave it to Mila to steal the limelight from me, she thought bitterly.

Glory pursed her lips. "I'm sure you'll do great, too," she lied. She knew that Mila couldn't come close to having the inborn vocal talent that Sandy did.

The girls stared at each other awkwardly, the tension thick at their table. Callie walked by, and Glory called her over. "Callie! Come sit with us!"

Callie shrugged and sat down at their table, a little reluctant. Glory was really the only one there that she was good friends with.

"Hi Glory," she said, and then said hello to the other girls as well. Nancy didn't hide the glare she gave Callie.

"So how are you?" Glory asked, trying desperately for some normal conversation. It seemed that ever since the hostage situation the day before, everyone was tense and guarded.

"I'm okay," Callie answered quietly, staring off into space. She was searching the cafeteria for Jimmy, a little upset that she hadn't seen him much during the school day. He promised to "show me the ropes", she thought wryly.

In the distance, someone slammed their locker, creating a loud noise. The noise made Callie jump and gasp.

Glory looked at her with concern. "Callie? Are you okay?"

Callie didn't answer. The noise echoed in her ears. Her mind drifted back to the day before:

Barek and Captain Walker turned around. Barek took the gun that was placed against the Captain's temple and aimed it at Callie.

"No!" Jimmy shouted in panic. Things seemed to move in slow motion as Barek pulled back on the trigger.

I was almost killed, Callie thought with sudden realization. If there had been any bullets in that gun I would have died!

"Callie?" Glory said again, trying to snap her friend back to reality. "Callie?"

Callie rose up from the table, wanting more than anything to get out of the loud cafeteria. "I gotta go," she mumbled. "I'll see you at home Glory," she told her as she left the table.

Nancy rolled her eyes. "What a weird girl."

"Umm," Sydney began, staring into Garrett's steely eyes. Should I really tell him this? she asked herself. She wanted to tell him, she knew it would kill him, just as the thought of her being switched at birth with Sandy had hurt her. What I need is some time. I don't think I'm ready to tell him yet. The suspense is killing him already, she thought smugly.

Just then she spotted Callie walking by.

"Garrett, I have to talk to Callie. Meet me by my locker after school, and I'll tell you everything."

He was about to protest, but Sydney ran off after Callie before he got the chance. He cursed her under his breath and walked away.

"Callie!" Sydney called, and ran up to catch up to her.

"Hi Sydney," Callie replied in a faraway voice.

"Look, I know that you said at my party that my birth certificate hadn't arrived yet, but I need to know if you've heard anything," she said, a bit of desperation entering her voice. She really had no clue what was to turn up on the paper. It would either say she was a Swan, a Rutledge, or a Booth, which would be the most dreaded thing of all.

Callie, who looked sort of dazed to begin with, stared blankly at Sydney. "Oh," she answered in a flat voice. "Oh my god. I did get it."

"Well where is it?" Sydney demanded.

Callie thought back to a few days before, when she had been in the post office. Another bad memory flooded in her mind:

Callie hopped off her motorbike and casually strolled into the post office. She had listened to and promised to follow Jimmy's warnings about being cautious, but ever since he had kissed her so sweetly in front of the sub, she felt as if she was walking on air.

Humming to herself, she pulled open the door to the post office and walked over to J.T. and Neil's P.O. box. She inserted the key that they had handed to her and unlocked the mailbox. Inside sat two envelopes. She pulled them out and read the return addresses. The smaller envelope contained Sydney's birth certificate. She's going to be so happy! Callie thought. She looked at the large, manila envelope. It was addressed to Professor Vann and the return address was in the Ukraine.

Callie's breath caught in her throat. "The Ukraine? Could the people tracking Neil and J.T. be... the secret police?" she wondered out loud.

Suddenly, a person came up behind her. Before Callie was able to scream, a hand clamped over her mouth, and everything went black.

She shuddered thinking about it.

"Well?" Sydney asked again.

Callie looked at her. "Well what?"

"Where is my birth certificate?" she asked again in a frustrated tone.

Callie turned away. "I don't know."

"You don't know! How could you not know! This is my birth certificate! What are you doing going around losing my mail?!" she yelled angrily.

"I didn't mean to lose it. I was at the post office getting something for J.T. and Neil. I saw it there, I didn't throw it on the floor on purpose! That was when those guys came in...." her voice trailed off.

"And you got kidnapped," Sydney finished for her.

"Yeah, so if I were you, I wouldn't be too upset about what I did."

"Well, I guess I don't mind that you threw it on the floor, considering you were kidnapped when it happened."

"Gee, thanks Sydney," Callie replied sarcastically.

"But you didn't even tell me about it! Now what am I going to do?" Sydney moaned.

"What's wrong? You know that there's no way you and Sandy were switched at birth. It's just another one of Garrett's dumb pranks," Callie assured her.

Sydney sighed. "Callie?"


"Can you keep a secret?"

As soon as Sandy was done eating, Owen came running up to her, a jovial look on his face.

"Guess what?" he exclaimed, slightly out of breath from running.

"What?" she asked, getting up from the table. The two walked to a corner in the cafeteria.

"Mila should hear this too," Owen said, motioning for Mila two join them.

"What's up Owen?" Mila asked. For a second, he said nothing, dumbfounded by her beauty. Then he spoke. "Okay, I went to the pay phone during lunch today to check my messages on the answering machine at the studio," he started.

Both girls nodded.

"And guess who called us?"

Sandy didn't know, but Mila's eyes lit up. "Uncle Bobby?" she squealed.

Owen nodded. "Yup! He's coming to Swans Crossing to see us play at the concert tomorrow!"

Sandy looked at them in confusion. "Who's Uncle Bobby?"

"Bobby Clark, my uncle, the record producer," Mila explained.

Sandy's blue eyes widened. "Robert Clark? Are you serious? How did they hear us?" she asked.

Owen became a bit uneasy. "I sent in the video," he told her softly.

"What video? We never shot the video," she said.

Mila was still grinning. She tossed her blond hair over her shoulder. "Yeah we did, Owen and I did it," she remarked nonchalantly.

Sandy's jaw dropped. "You what?"

"Owen filmed me singing one of your songs. ‘Talking Sweet’, to be exact."

Sandy was now fuming. "You sang my song?! Who said you could do that?" she yelled. A few students passing by turned to stare at them.

"Well Owen did," Mila answered calmly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sandy was ticked off at her.

Sandy turned to Owen. "I can't believe you let her sing one of my songs! So let me get this straight, you told Mila to sing my song, filmed her, and sent it in to Robert Clark?"

Owen looked at the girls sheepishly. "Well, not exactly. You left out dubbing your voice over Mila's," he told them in a meek voice.

Both Mila and Sandy's jaws dropped. "What?!" they cried in unison.

It was Mila's turn to fume. "You dubbed her voice over mine? Wasn't my singing good enough?"

Owen didn't want to answer her question, so he just pretended she hadn't asked him.

Mila turned on her heels. "That's it! I quit!" she declared angrily and flounced off.

Sandy looked at Owen, who was wearing a bewildered expression. She thought of how they had been partners for years, and how they'd been best friends as long as she could remember. She knew in her heart that Owen would never hurt her intentionally, but the way that he had just betrayed her and even Mila was wrong. This time, she couldn’t just forgive and forget. "I'm with her," Sandy said to Owen softly. "I quit."

"Oh wow," Callie breathed after Sydney had told her the story. "Your mom and Grant Booth?"

Sydney shook her head in despair. "I don't even know anymore. I could be Sandy, I could be Garrett's sister. I don't even know who I am anymore," she could feel tears welling in her eyes again, stinging them because she had cried so much in the past few days.

Callie hugged her friend, realizing how upset she was. "It's okay. Look, you don't have any hard evidence about this. Don't jump to any conclusions, okay?"

Sydney sniffed. "But if I was really switched at birth with Sandy than it's Sandy and Garrett who are brother and sister, not me and Garrett," she smiled in spite of herself. How I'd love to see the look on his face if I told him that, she thought.

Callie looked at her skeptically. "You know that I never believed that you and Sandy were switched at birth, but I think you need to talk to everyone about this. See if Garrett knows anything and then ask your mom."

"I could never ask my mom," Sydney interrupted quickly. "I don't think she would tell me the truth anyway."

Callie tapped her finger against her cheek. "Well, you could always get a paternity test," she suggested.

Sydney looked back at her, her face brightening a bit. "How would I go about doing that?"

"I think all you'd have to is go to a doctor with Grant Booth and have blood tests done," she explained.

"Why would Sydney go with my dad to see a doctor?" spoke up a voice from behind them. Sydney and Callie turned around to see Garrett.

"May I see him?" Jazz asked, walking up to the counter at the Swans Crossing County Jail. Barek and his accomplices were being held there until their hearing the next day.

The warden nodded and took the keys off of the desk. "Right this way Ma'am," he said, leading her to the jail cells.

Sitting in the cell were Barek and the two bald men.

Jazz shyly looked at the one bald man whom she knew, and he jumped from his seat on a tiny, flat bed and came over to the bars.

"Hello," he greeted her.

The warden turned to leave. "Just holler if you need me," he told Jazz as he walked away.

"Hey," Jazz said softly, holding on to the bars. The bald man laced his fingers through hers. "Who is watching your soda shop?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I got someone to cover for me." She studied his face in wonder. How could someone so kind have done what he did to those kids? she asked herself.

"Will you be at the trial tomorrow?" the man asked her.

Jazz nodded. "Yes," she replied hesitantly.

"I hope you will be a good witness for us," he told her, looking into her eyes.

Why does that sound like a threat? she thought, feeling a bit uneasy. "I really don't know much."

He smiled. "That's good."

She looked up at him in confusion. "Why?"

"You can be," he paused, searching for the right word. "Good character witness."

Jazz swallowed hard. "Okay," she agreed. "I guess I have to go now."

"See you tomorrow," the man told her casually.

I guess I have no choice, she thought as she left the jail.

"I better go," Callie said, realizing that Garrett had overheard them. "I'll talk to you later Sydney."

"Wait!" Sydney exclaimed. "Don't go!"

Callie shook her head. "I think you need to explain this to Garrett right now, on your own."

"Explain what? What is going on? Why are you talking about my father?" Garrett asked in confusion, eyeing both girls suspiciously.

Sydney looked helplessly at Callie who was already retreating down the hall. She sighed, and looked up at Garrett. "I guess I have to tell you the truth."

Lunch was almost over, but Callie didn't want to stick around the cafteria to see any more chaos. She decided to go to her locker and get her stuff for her next class, which was World History.

"Walker woman!" a voice boomed from down the hall. Callie smiled and looked up to see Jimmy waving to her. "Hey," she said when he approached. He gave her a hug, which surprised Callie. It made her feel good inside that he was being so publicly affectionate.

"Hi, how have you been?" Jimmy asked, leaning against the wall as she rummaged through her locker.

"All right, I guess," she replied quietly, pulling a blank spiral notebook from her locker. "It feels strange for everyone to be acting so normal after what happened yesterday."

He nodded compassionately. "I understand."

"I mean, what we went through," Callie’s voice trailed off. Suddenly, many different images began to flash through her head. She saw her and all her friends tied up, the sub sinking into the lake while her father looked on watching, expressionless, she could remember what it looked like to be staring down the barrel of Barek's gun, and when he pulled back on the trigger....

"Callie?" Jimmy asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. She gasped and jumped. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, breathing heavily. Why can't I push those memories out of my mind? she asked herself. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"No," Jimmy argued, looking at her troubled expression. "Something’s wrong, I can tell. What is it?"

Callie lowered her eyes and looked back at him, not sure of what to say.

Garrett nodded. "Good, tell me the truth."

Sydney gulped. "Well..."

"Sydney!" Sandy yelled down the hall, running towards them.

Garrett pounded his fists together. Interrupted again! he grumbled to himself.

Sandy had obviously been crying because her face was red and tear- stained. Sydney decided to put her talk with Garrett on hold until she found out what was wrong with Sandy. "We'll talk after school Garrett," Sydney told him. "Meet me on the field where the cheerleading tryouts are going to be. I know you're heading over there later anyway."

"All right," he sighed, and reluctantly walked away.

"Well, what's wrong with you?" Sydney asked impatiently. The bell rang and Sydney and Sandy began walking to class, since their next class was together.

"I'm not going to sing at the concert tomorrow," she stated with a sniff.

Sydney stopped dead in her tracks. "What?" she cried incredulously. "You're not going to be in the concert?"

Sandy shook her head and tugged at her blondish curls. "I can't, Sydney. Owen betrayed me. He let Mila sing my song in the video and then he dubbed my voice over her image," she whined.

Sydney looked away. "Oh," was all she could say. Wow, I never thought this would happen. I can't believe I did this for Garrett and now MY concert is going to be ruined!

"So I'm not singing," Sandy said. "I just thought you should know."

"But you have to!" Sydney protested. "I mean, just because Owen did something cruel to you doesn't mean that you should give up your one chance to hit the big time."

Sandy thought about this for a moment. "But I can't sing without a band! And there's no way I’m playing with Owen now," she argued. "Or her," Sandy added bitterly, referring to Mila.

The girls got to their class and sat down. Sydney buried her head in her hands. She had a terrible headache. It had been a rotten day at school.

"Just think about it. Please?" Sydney asked Sandy again desperately.

Sandy nodded. "Well, okay. But I'm not guaranteeing anything."

Sydney sighed. What a day! she thought to herself, groaning in misery.

"I-I just..." Callie's voice trailed off.

"Yeah?" Jimmy prompted.

"I can't get the thought of Barek and the gun out of my head," she admitted. "I just keep seeing him everywhere."

Jimmy hugged her close to him. "I know. I think about it a lot too. If he had hurt you..." he left it at that, and Callie pulled away to look at him.

"If he had hurt me, what?" she asked.

"If he had hurt you I don't know what I would have done," he finished softly.

Callie felt her heart thumping in her chest. Things might be bad with everything in my life, but as far as me and Jimmy go, things couldn't be better, she thought to herself.

"And if you want to talk about it, I'm here," Jimmy added. The bell rang, and he started walking her to class.

"Thanks, I just might take you up on that," she told him with a smile as they arrived at her class. Before walking in, Callie paused at the door. "I guess I'll see you later then?"

He nodded. "Yeah, actually, can you come by the Tool n' Die after school today?"

"Sure. What's up?"

Jimmy smiled mysteriously. "You'll see. Just come by at about three-thirty, okay?" He kissed her on the cheek.

"Okay," Callie agreed. She watched him retreat down the hall until he was out of sight.

After school that day, Glory headed over to the locker room to change for cheerleading.

"You ready for the tryouts?" Mila asked her, changing into a pink t-shirt and black athletic shorts.

Glory nodded nervously. "As ready as I'll ever be, I guess."

Mila flounced out of the locker room. "See you there," she said as she left.

Glory sighed and went back to her changing. I wish I wasn't so distracted, she thought to herself as she gathered her long, strawberry blond hair into a ponytail. J.T. was so strange on the phone this morning, she thought, remembering the way he had snapped at her and how distant he was during the rest of the conversation.

Glory pushed the thought out of her head. "Concentrate on cheerleading," she told herself aloud, and walked out of the locker room.

"Glory!" a male voice called to her. She looked up, and saw J.T. standing before her.

"J.T.! What are you doing here?" she exclaimed.

He answered her by giving her a long kiss on the lips. "That's finishing what we started the other day before the police came," he said with a smile.

She laughed. "You seem happy," she commented.

"Well, I had to come see my favorite girl try out for cheerleading," he replied cheerfully.

Glory sighed with relief. Guess I was worried about nothing!

Sydney marched out to the field, shielding her eyes from the bright sun. She could see Glory, Mila, and several others preparing for the cheerleading tryouts. She also noticed that Nancy had front row seats and that J.T. had showed up to watch Glory.

However, she didn't see Garrett anywhere. Good, Sydney thought. Now I don't have to tell him.

At that moment, Garrett started coming up the field. Sydney groaned. Spoke too soon.

Garrett headed over to her and folded his arms in front of his chest. "Okay. Now you have no excuses. What is going on here?" he demanded.

"Garrett, you and Sandy are brother and sister," Sydney blurted out.

A look of shock and dismay crossed his face. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "What?"

"You and Sandy..." she said again, slowly.

"No, I heard you, I just don't know what you're talking about."

Sydney took a deep breath, preparing to tell all. But what if you and Garrett are brother and sister? a voice in the back of her mind kept repeating. She ignored it and began to speak. "After you left that night when we made the tape, my mother dropped a letter. I picked it up and read it," Sydney explained. "It was from your father. He was denying my mother's claims that I-" her voice broke, and she cleared her throat, "I was his child."

Garrett's jaw dropped.

"But see, since Sandy and I were switched at birth that makes you and Sandy brother and sister," she added quickly. "Not you and me."

Garrett was silent for several moments. It took him awhile to register what she had just told him. "Sydney," he began in a low, hollow voice when he had gotten over his shock. "The birth certificate was a phony."

"What?!" she shrieked.

"I did it to get back at you for getting me in trouble with Officer Moore and my dad."

Sydney reeled from his sudden confession. It was all a joke! All that misery and it was all a hoax?! Then she realized that there was more to what he had just said.

"Then if you made that up..." Sydney paused, afraid to finish her sentence.

Garrett nodded gravely.

"Then we really are brother and sister!"

Chapter Ten

Glory stood in front of the Swans Crossing court house at eight o' clock that morning, shivering even though it was fairly warm outside. She was very nervous about having to testify in front of most of the town, especially since what she might have to say could get J.T. into trouble.

I just hope they don't bring up my kidnapping, she thought to herself, feeling uneasy just remembering how the bald men had taken her over the summer. J.T. told me not to tell anyone about what really happened that night, and I promised him I wouldn't.

"Glory," a voice called suddenly. Glory glanced up to see Callie walking up the sidewalk to meet her.

"Hi Callie," Glory said.

Callie stood with her arms crossed in front of her. She was wearing a floral dress that she had borrowed from Glory earlier that morning, and was feeling a bit uncomfortable in it. "I feel sort of nervous."

"I know. So do I," Glory admitted.

Callie stared up at the brick building. "You know what? I'm more nervous about seeing my dad than anything."

Glory looked at her with concern. "Oh, Callie, he's your dad. It's not going to be uncomfortable. Maybe you two can move into a house or something now."

Callie shook her head. "I don't think Dad even wants me to live with him anymore."

"Callie! Come on, you're always the logical one. Your father is not going to send you into exile," Glory assured her.

Callie sighed. "Well, I certainly can't stay at your house forever."

"You are welcome in my house for as long as you want. I love having you stay over," Glory told her with a smile.

"Thanks Glory." Callie glanced at her watch. "Well, should we go inside?"

Glory looked up the street, which was deserted since it was so early in the morning. "Well, I had told J.T. I was going to meet him outside."

"Actually, I told the same to Jimmy," Callie replied. She rubbed her arms with her hands. "But it feels really cold out here!"

Sydney woke up that morning and realized that she had fallen asleep in her clothes. She stumbled off of the couch, smoothing down her now wrinkled black miniskirt. Her index cards fell to the floor. She bent to pick them up, and glanced at what she had written.

"Oh wow, how am I ever going to say that out loud?" Sydney asked herself, almost shocked at what was written on the cards. It was as if she had composed her entire speech in a vengeful trance. She looked at the clock, which read eight a.m. "Well, there's no time to rewrite it now."

Sydney threw on a clean shirt and a pair of black pants. She slipped into her black shoes and gathered her things. She had to get down to the stage. There were so many things to be done before the concert at six o' clock that evening. She had to make sure Jimmy and Callie had installed the stage motor and that it worked, she had to make sure the bunting and the backdrop were hung, she had to do a sound check, and she needed to speak to Sandy. Sandy had called the night before and told Sydney that she, Owen, and Mila had decided to sing together again, but Sydney still needed to make sure that they were prepared. Also, for some reason, Sandy had never even named her band. They needed to have a name before the concert.

There's so much to do! Sydney thought as she headed out the door, hoping her hair didn't look too bad. She supposed that she'd come back to the house and change before the concert. She shut and locked the front door behind her. After she had left, the phone rang.

"Hello, you have reached the Rutledge residence. We are unable to take your call, but leave your name and number, and we will get back to you when we can," Mayor Rutledge said on the answering machine. It beeped, and the caller began to leave his message.

"Hello Sydney, this is Billy Gunn. I arrived in town last night. I suppose I will see you at the concert tonight," said Billy in his thick British accent. "I'm looking forward to it."

Mila walked over to the Booth house and caught Garrett stepping out on the front porch.

"'Morning Garrett!" she greeted him perkily, giving him a big hug.

"You seem happy. What's going on?" he asked, returning her hug.

"I decided to sing tonight after all. And," she began coyly, "I have a surprise for you."

"What is it?"

Mila smiled mysteriously. "You'll have to wait until tonight to see."

Garrett took her hand, and they began to walk down the street together. "All right, all right," he agreed reluctantly.

"So, did you write me a poem?" she questioned him.

Garrett sighed. He had been up half the night trying to compose a poem for her. It had been quite a task, but he had come up with something. "I sure did," he replied proudly. He reached into his pocket and took out a crumpled piece of paper that was smudged with ink.

"Oh, Chandler!" Mila exclaimed. Garrett looked at her crossly. "I mean, Garrett," she corrected herself. "I can't wait to read it!"

He handed it to her and grinned. "Well, wait no longer."

Eagerly, Mila began to read the poem out loud. "'A shiny star up in the sky, a tasty piece of apple pie. A warm sunny, summer day, a really awesome football play. A cool movie with lots of guns, and doing something really fun," she read, the smile on her face slowly beginning to fade. "But none of this compares to how I feel-a, about the beautiful and lovely Mila!'"

Garrett beamed triumphantly, feeling proud of his work. "So, what do you think?"

Mila stared up at him, with wide eyes. "I um," she stuttered. "I'm speechless."

Neil tugged at his tie nervously as he approached the courthouse.

"Bucky ball!" J.T. called, jogging to catch up to his friend.

"Ready for the death of UB2B?" Neil asked glumly.

"Come on Neil, this doesn't have to mean death. I mean, I know we'll end up having to show the court our research and everything we did for UB2B, but maybe then everyone will see what a good idea it was, and let us have the go-ahead with the project. All we need to finish UB2B is that last element that went down with Captain Walker's sub."

Neil nodded. "True, but we're still underage. They won't let us work with those kind of materials if we're not twenty-one."

"I was thinking, maybe we could have it patented so that in a few years we can show it to the public," J.T. suggested. He opened the door to the courthouse and stepped inside.

"But someone will probably have already discovered it by then," Neil protested.

Glory, who was standing in the hall in front of the courtroom with Callie and Jimmy, walked over to the boys. "J.T.!" she exclaimed, enveloping him in a hug.

"Hi Glory," he greeted her softly.

Neil rolled his eyes. "Girls," he muttered under his breath.

"I'm so nervous about this," Glory told J.T.

"I know," he replied comfortingly. "I am too."

Callie and Jimmy approached them. "I think we all are, Glory," Jimmy said.

The five teenagers stood there silently for several moments, all feeling apprehensive about the trial.

A man walked up to the group. He was carrying a briefcase and wearing an expensive-looking three piece suit.

"Oh, Mr. Harding!" Neil greeted the man, going over to him and shaking his hand. He turned to J.T. "J.T., this is Aaron Harding. He's my father's lawyer, and for the trial he's ours, too."

"Hi, Mr. Harding. I'm J.T. Adams, and these are our friends, Glory Booth, Callie Walker, and Jimmy Clayton."

The man nodded in acknowledgment. "Hello," he said in a smooth voice. "Well, I want you all to know that this is just a preliminary hearing. We're going to hear testimony from all of you and the other witnesses, and then Mr. Adams and Atwater will testify, and so will Barek and his partners," he explained.

Callie turned away at the mention of Barek. She was nervous enough about her father and didn't want the awful memories of Barek and his gun flooding back to her now.

Mr. Harding continued. "It will last about three or four hours, and then will more than likely continue at another date. I know that Swans Crossing has canceled school today because of this trial, and also because of the concert. So I promise that this will be quick and relatively painless. Okay?"

The teenagers nodded silently in agreement.

"I am going to go in, and J.T. and Neil need to come with me. I will see you guys later. The trial begins in about twenty minutes," Mr. Harding told them. He, Neil, and J.T. proceeded to enter the courtroom.

"I think I should go in there with them," Glory said, and excused herself from Jimmy and Callie.

"I wonder where my dad is," Callie commented. She looked down the hall, trying to see if he was in the building yet.

"Well, he has to come. You can't get out of testifying," Jimmy remarked lightly, trying to ease her anxiousness. Callie didn't meet his eyes. She was still looking for her father, standing on her toes to see over the crowd that was forming in front of the courtroom door. "You're really spooked about seeing him, aren't you?" Jimmy asked her.

Callie looked back at him, twirling a strand of her hair around her finger. "Yeah, I am. I'm worried about seeing my dad, and seeing Barek..." her voice trailed off. From beyond the crowd, she could see her father entering the building.

"Speechless?" Garrett repeated, tossing his head arrogantly. "Speechless is good."

"Um, yeah," Mila lied. "Good." She quickly stuffed the poem into her purse, not wanting to look at it a minute longer. That was so bad! she thought to herself. How could he have written such beautiful, meaningful poetry during the summer, and write something so juvenile now?

Garrett took her by the arm and they walked across the street, towards the courthouse. "Well, I'm glad you liked it. I worked really hard on it last night."

On this?! Mila thought incredulously. However, she gave her boyfriend a bright, phony smile. "Thanks Garrett."

Garrett grinned back at her, completely clueless.

"No! That goes over there!" Sydney yelled at some of the workers who were moving the colored and strobe lights around the stage. "You think I would really want the lights all on one side of the stage?" she snapped. The men didn't answer her and simply moved the lights to where she had instructed them.

Sydney shook her head in despair. Working with the help is so difficult, she thought. She marched up the stage, and one of the workers came up to her. "Excuse me Miss Rutledge, this message was left for you."

Sydney swiped the piece of paper from his hand and began to read it out loud. "'Sydney, we were here early this morning, installing the motor for the stage. It's all done, and we'll be at the courthouse until this afternoon. Call later if you need us, or else we'll see you at the concert tonight.'" It was signed by Callie and Jimmy.

"Thanks," Sydney told the man quickly, and went backstage to the control panel. "So, how does this thing work?" she asked herself, searching for the button to turn on the revolving stage. She pressed a button, and the strobe lights went on.

"Hey! What are you doing?" one of the workers shouted at her.

Sydney giggled and switched the lights off. "Nothing!" she replied. She pulled a lever, which activated the revolving stage. She stood back and watched in awe as the stage rotated slowly. "Well, what do you know? They actually did it."

Sydney pulled on the lever again to stop the stage, and stepped back a moment to observe what was going on. A sense of pride washed over her as she saw all the last minute preparations coming into place. "No, I did it. I actually got this concert to happen," Sydney remarked proudly, and for the first time in a week, she was able to smile sincerely.

"Order, order. Court is now in session," Judge Rider announced, tapping her gavel against the table. "We will begin with the opening statement for the prosecution. This is a strange trial in that we have two defenses. The first defense is the group of terrorists who are being arraigned for the hostage situation on Monday. We also have the situation of Mr. J.T. Adams and Mr. Neil Atwater and their ordering radioactive chemicals illegally from the Rodavian Institute in the Ukraine."

J.T. and Neil exchanged anxious glances.

The judge continued. "The reason we are going to be hearing the testimonies in the same court is because the cases are interrelated in that the boys who ordered the chemicals were the ones the WTO held hostage. So, now, we would like to hear the opening arguments from the prosecution."

The woman who was representing the prosecution team stood up. "Thank you, your Honor," she said, and began to state her case.

"So what do you think J.T., ten years to life?" Neil whispered.

"Neil, come on! We're not going to go to prison. You heard Mr. Harding. We're getting a great trial. It's in our favor to have the terrorists in here, too. The jury is going to see what creeps they are and our crime will look like a misdemeanor," J.T. protested. Mr. Harding gave the boys a cross look, silently scolding them to keep quiet.

Meanwhile, across the room, Callie was fidgeting in her seat. She could see her father sitting in the front row, staring straight ahead.

"What's wrong?" Jimmy asked her.

She swallowed, and tried to answer him, but her voice was strangled.

"Her dad's over there," Glory whispered, answering for Callie. Jimmy nodded, and reached for Callie's hand.

"And I see Barek, too," Callie muttered. Her heart was beating quickly, and her palms were so sweaty that she had to let go of Jimmy's hand and wipe her hands on her dress. At that moment, Barek turned around and looked directly into Callie's eyes.

"Oh, my God," she gasped loudly. Barek quickly turned back to the front of the room.

"What?" Saja asked.

"Barek!" she hissed. "Barek was staring right at me."

Callie's heart continued pounding, and in her ears she could hear the gun shot, and her scream, and the water rushing into the sub. She could see the evil look Barek had in his eyes just a moment ago, as if to say, "You'll pay for this, Callie Walker."

"... and now I would like to call Barek to the stand," the prosecutor said.

Barek stood up, and he turned to Callie, Jimmy, Glory, Saja, Garrett, and Mila who were all sitting in a group against the wall. He smirked at them, and then approached the witness stand.

"Raise your right hand," the prosecutor ordered him, and Barek obliged. "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you?" she asked.

"Yes," Barek answered. He sat down on the stand, and adjusted the microphone.

"Thank you. Now, will you please state and spell your name to the court?"

"Barek. B-A-R-E-K."

The woman scowled at him. "No, your real name."

Barek swallowed, and nervously tugged at his tie.

Jimmy and Callie leaned forward in their seats, anxiously waiting to hear their boss' true identity for the very first time.

Sandy hurried to the site of the concert stage, Owen in tow with his keyboard. Behind them were some of Sydney's workers carrying the drum set and the amplifiers. Sandy was carrying a dry cleaning bag which contained her and Mila's outfits.

"I'm so excited, Owen!" she exclaimed, trotting across the grass. "I can't wait to see what the stage looks like!"

"Me neither. And I can't wait until we meet with the talent scout," Owen added.

Sandy chewed on her bottom lip. She didn't want to think about the talent scout, who was there under false pretenses. He would be expecting Mila to be singing the lead and sounding like Sandy. Sandy pushed the thought out of her mind and climbed up the stage stairs. "Sydney!" she called. "Sydney!"

Owen and the other workers began setting things up on the stage. One of the workmen walked by, and Sandy flagged him down. "Excuse me?" she asked.

The man stopped. "Yes?"

"Have you seen Sydney Rutledge?"

He rolled his eyes. "You mean Hitler? She's over there." He pointed to the backstage, where Sydney was standing, hands on her hips, and yelling at one of the employees.

"Thanks," Sandy said with a laugh. She headed up to her friend. "Sydney?"

Sydney looked up. "Sandy! You're here!"

Sandy nodded. "Yeah, I'm here."

"Oh, I'm so glad you decided to sing again. I don't think there would have been a concert without you!" she exclaimed, nearly knocking Sandy over with a big hug.

"Well, uh, no problem," she replied, wondering why Sydney was acting so strange.

"Okay, now I need to have a list of the songs, in order, that you are going to play. I also need to know the instruments being used, and who's using them, and, of course, I need the name of your band," Sydney rattled off so quickly that Sandy had a hard time catching it all.

"Well, I didn't really think of a name yet..." she answered idly.

"Sandy! Think of one! Now!" Sydney ordered. "Just say the first thing that comes to your mind."

"Even if it's stupid?" Sandy asked.

"I don't care what your name is, you just need one!"

"Okay," Sandy replied slowly. She thought of what was going on her life, besides her music. Her mind wandered back to the night that Saja walked her home....

Sandy and Saja heaved a sigh as they walked down a road in opposite directions. They were both feeling depressed because their friends had snubbed them that night. Suddenly, their paths crossed.

"Hi," Saja greeted Sandy as he approached her.

"Hey. Where are you going?" Sandy asked.

"Oh, nowhere, everywhere." he replied with a sigh. "How about you?"

"Same place."

"It's funny," Saja mused. "Sometimes you think you're the only person coming from that direction."

"Yeah," Sandy agreed. "And when you get there, you think there's only room for one."


Sandy then observed that Saja was dressed completely in black, in a ninja-style outfit. "I like what you're wearing. Is it a costume?"

"Yeah," he responded glumly. "Tonight it's just a costume."

"I feel like I've spent the whole night getting dressed up with no where to go," Sandy commented, remembering how she had gotten dressed up that morning, assuming she would be filming her music video that day.

"Yes!" Saja exclaimed, realizing how much she understood him. "Did you ever feel like you were an extra in somebody else's movie?"

"Worse," Sandy replied. "An extra in somebody else's rock video."

"So, are you going home?" he asked.

"I suppose," she said noncommittally.

"I guess you're taking the long way then, aren't you?"

"I've been going that way all night," she answered with a faraway look on her face.

"Well, at least you're not afraid of the dark," Saja told her, thinking of Callie, and how she and Jimmy had ignored him all night.

"The dark... right."

"Well, you know, I could make the dark a little bit lighter and, uh," he paused, suddenly feeling timid. "Walk you home."

"What did you say?" Sandy asked loudly, seemingly snapping back to attention.

"Oh, I just said that I could make the dark a little bit lighter and walk you home," he repeated quickly. "I didn't mean-"

"Saja, you read my mind!" Sandy exclaimed, interrupting him.

"I did?" he asked incredulously. "I mean, I did."

"Yes, I was just thinking of that line for my new song. It was like, an inspiration!"

Saja smiled and bowed his head humbly. "Well, I am glad to be the vessel through which the light of your inspiration can shine."

"We all have our moments to shine," Sandy remarked softly.

"You want to?" Saja asked, pointing back towards the road.

"Make the dark a little bit lighter and walk you home," she repeated, placing her hand on Saja's shoulder as the two walked happily down the road together.

Sandy looked up at Sydney with a smile. Suddenly, she knew the name for her band. "Inspiration."

Barek shifted in his seat, not wanting to reveal to the entire court house his real name. "That's classified information, Ma'am," he told the prosecutor adamantly.

Callie whipped her head around and turned to Jimmy. "What does that mean?" she asked.

His eyes were wide. "I have no idea."

Saja jumped into the conversation. "So he never really was Barek?"

"I don't know," Callie replied. The three turned their attention back to the courtroom, where the prosecution and defenses were having a sidebar. They walked away from the bench.

"The FBI has said that you are ordered to release your name now that you are being charged for a criminal crime," the judge said.

Jimmy and Callie's eyes widened. "The FBI?" they whispered in unison.

"What did Barek have to do with the feds?" Saja asked. No one responded to him, since no one really knew the answer to his question.

The prosecutor walked in front of Barek. "You can answer that now."

Barek cleared his throat. "Um, my name is Jack Bailey. That is J-A-C-K B-A-I-L-E-Y."

The teenagers stared at each other with wide eyes. "Thank you, Mr. Bailey. Now on with the questioning," the prosecutor said.

Callie's mind was racing. What is going on here? she wondered.

"All right, now, why did you move to Swans Crossing?" the prosecutor asked.

"I really want to hear this," Jimmy whispered to Callie. She nodded back at him, watching the courtroom intently and biting on her lip.

"I traveled to Swans Crossing for an assignment from the FBI. I am," Barek paused. "was a federal agent."

Saja, Callie, and Jimmy gasped.

Barek continued. "I worked with the agents who arrested me, Agent Pensky and Agent Guyette. They worked in different divisions than I, they were with the CIA and the INS. I was supposed to pretend to be the head of the World Terrorist Organization. While I was working with them, I had to make everyone believe that I was just some guy who moved into town, so I called up my friend Fats Wellman. He had wanted to go on a 'ride around the world', so he was more than happy to let me take over at the Tool n' Die. While I worked at the shop, I also followed around Adams and Atwater for my colleagues in the WTO. I worked with Aleksandr Bunin and Maxim Adreyev, two members of the WTO."

"What?" Saja exclaimed. Once again, no one answered him.

"And could you point those two men out for us?" the prosecutor asked Barek.

He pointed across the room to where the two bald men sat.

"Fine, fine," Sydney said, penciling in the word "inspiration" on her index cards.

"Don't you like it?" Sandy asked, hoping that Sydney would like the name.

"It's incredibly inspiring," she replied sarcastically. "Now, we need to get on with this," Sydney pushed her way through Sandy. "I have to do a sound check," she muttered, and then looked back at Sandy. "Can you show me how to do a sound check?" she asked.

Sandy rolled her blue eyes. "Fine."

Sydney took her friend's arm and smiled brightly. "Come on, aren't you excited?"

Sandy laughed out loud. Sydney could be so flighty sometimes! "Yeah, I am, let me help you with the sound."

Sandy walked up to the stage, a wide smile on her face, and gripped the microphone. She looked out to where the crowd would be seated later on that night. She closed her eyes, and could hear the roar of the audience. She could see the flashing lights, and all of her friends, and the fans in the front row, screaming and cheering, dancing to the music that she was making.

"Sandy? Sandy?" Sydney called, snapping her back to reality. "The sound check?" she reminded her.

"Oh, right," Sandy replied with a giggle. "Testing, one, two, three," she said into the mike.

"It sounds good from here," Sydney called out from her spot by the seats.

"Sounds good to me, too," a voice spoke up from behind her. Sydney turned around and looked right into the face of Billy Gunn.

"So, you were with the FBI, yet you held seven innocent people hostage, and tried to kill one of them? Explain this to us Mr. Bailey, because it doesn't make much sense to me," the prosecutor remarked.

Barek had a faraway look on his face. "Well, I started out just doing my job, posing as a gear-head at the Tool n' Die so I could join forces with Aleksandr and Maxim. They had traveled to Swans Crossing to follow J.T. Adams and Neil Atwater, and during my time posing as a WTO member I found out that they believed J.T. and Neil were going to bomb the Soviet Union. After awhile I realized that I didn't want to be an FBI agent anymore. I had become good friends with Aleksandr and Maxim; they really understood me. After awhile, I wasn't really pretending anymore. It had really become irritating that Callie Walker and young James Clayton were following me around town all the time," Barek said with an angry edge to his voice. He gave Jimmy and Callie a piercing glare.

Callie gulped, and Jimmy gripped her hand even tighter than he had been before.

"So, you are confessing to joining the WTO and holding J.T. Adams, Neil Atwater, Glory Booth, Jimmy Clayton, Saja DeCastro, Callie Walker, and Captain Elia Walker hostage?" the prosecutor asked.

Barek raised one eyebrow, and looked into the crowd. "Absolutely."

"Billy?" Sydney said, nearly stumbling over the chairs she was standing between. "Billy, what are you doing here?"

Billy smiled. "Well, love, you invited me, remember?" he reminded her.

Sydney blinked a few times. "Yes, I remember, but I wasn't sure if you were coming," she replied slowly.

"Sydney?" Sandy called from the stage. "Testing, one, two..."

"I got it Sandy!" Sydney yelled in an irritated tone.

"I guess I decided to show up after all. Aren't I supposed to hear Mila sing?" Billy asked.

"It doesn't matter," she replied.

"Pardon?" he said.

"Nothing," she answered, giving him a fake smile. "So, are you looking forward to seeing some of Swans Crossing's local talent?"

He shrugged. "I suppose," he responded vaguely. "So how are you, love?"

Sydney felt her skin crawl. Every time she met up with Billy, he hit on her. She could go out with him if she really wanted to, but she had always had feelings for Garrett. Guess that's not going to work, she thought mournfully. Well, since things will never be with Garrett... Sydney looked up at Billy and smiled again.

"I'm great," she told him with a flirtatious grin. She took him by the arm and began to lead him out to the parking lot. "So, do you think I can take you up on that ride you offered me the last time you were in town now?"

"Order! Order!" Judge Rider yelled, tapping her gavel. The people in the courtroom had begun to talk, gasp, and cause uproar when Barek made his "confession". The jury, who had been very quiet during Barek's testimony, were now whispering loudly. "Order!" Judge Rider demanded again.

The crowd quickly quieted down. "Judge Rider, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I don't think there is anything further to say. Mr. Bailey, or Barek as known to you, and his colleagues, Mr. Adreyev and Mr. Bunin, have obviously committed these crimes, and are admitting it to you all right here, right now." The prosecutor went back to her seat. "I rest my case."

"She's resting now?" Callie whispered to no one in particular.

"Is that bad?" Glory whispered back.

"Well, it's not good," Callie replied, biting on her lip even harder.

"I will send the jury into deliberation, and the rest of the court can break for the day. The trial of Mr. Atwater and Adams will have to be scheduled for tomorrow morning at eight o' clock. The court clerk will notify you when the verdict is in," Judge Rider read the instructions to the jury, and then they were escorted out of the courtroom. "Court is adjourned," the judge announced, and everyone stood up.

"Great," J.T. growled, walking over to his group of friends. "We have to go through this again tomorrow!"

Glory hugged him supportively. "I'm sorry J.T., I know the suspense is killing you."

"Yeah Rocket-Boy, I guess you'll just have to wait another day," Garrett remarked with a laugh. Everyone else looked at him, their mouths set in a straight line.

"It's not funny, Garrett," Glory scolded her brother.

"Yeah, and not only do they have to wait, but we all have to wait to find out whether or not Barek and his friends are going to get off free, or go to jail," Callie said with a worried look on her face.

"Like they'd go free after that!" Garrett scoffed.

"You never know! It's not a good sign that the trial was so short!" Callie snapped back.

"Hey, hey, let's stop fighting," Jimmy intervened, stepping in between them. "Come on, now the trial is over for today, and the concert is tonight. We should all put this behind us for now and try to have some fun."

The others stared at him blankly. "I don't know if I can do that," J.T. said glumly, and he, Neil, and Glory walked out of the courtroom, hanging their heads.

"Callie!" Captain Walker called to his daughter as the people were exiting the courthouse.

Callie turned around on the courthouse steps. "Dad?" she asked, her throat going dry.

Jimmy, who was holding her hand, let go of it and whispered to her, "I'll wait for you on the corner with Saja."

"Okay," she whispered back.

Captain Walker walked up to his daughter and embraced her. "Oh Callie, I have missed you so much!" he exclaimed, hugging her tightly.

Callie smiled, sighing with relief. She had been so nervous about seeing her father, but now things seemed to be back to normal. "I missed you too, Dad," she whispered, her voice catching with emotion.

"Now, I know you need to go with your friends to the concert tonight. But I have some big news for you. Will you meet me at my hotel room after the concert?" Captain Walker asked, sounding like his old self.

Callie nodded. "Well, there's a big party at Swans Soda Shop afterwards, but I will definitely stop by after that," she told him.

"Great. I have some very good news," Captain Walker mentioned again, looking anxious.

"Okay, Dad. I'll be sure to see you tonight, then." Callie hugged him good-bye.

"All right. Have fun tonight, Callie!" he told her as he watched her recede down the street to where Jimmy and the others were waiting for her. "I hope you have it while you can," Captain Walker added to himself. He watched as Callie crossed the street, took Jimmy's hand, and busily chatted with Glory, Saja, and the others. Callie seemed so at ease with all of them, as though they had been her best friends for all her life. How am I ever going to tell her? Captain Walker thought to himself apprehensively.

J.T. leaned against the uncomfortable back of his seat in the empty courtroom. He, Neil, and Glory were waiting in the courthouse for the verdict with the court clerk. They could have gone to Swans with their friends, but had decided to stay. Neil and Mr. Harding were talking strategy for Neil and J.T.'s UB2B trial, while J.T. and Glory made small talk, the tension between them very thick.

"I am so nervous about this," J.T. admitted.

Glory nodded seriously. "I know J.T. But I also know they'll go easy on you. You're only fifteen, they aren't going to send you to jail!"

"Well, there are always juvenile detention centers," Neil commented sarcastically, joining their conversation.

"Neil," Glory began warningly.

"I just want to see those guys who kidnaped you and tried to hurt you pay for what they did..." J.T.'s voice suddenly trailed off, and his eyes became fixated on a point in the distance.

"What is it, Bucky Ball?" Neil asked.

J.T. pointed to a flashing light in the courtroom. "The verdict," he said. "It's in."

Callie, Jimmy and Saja walked into Swans Soda Shop, which was bursting with excitement.

"Why are so many people here?" Callie wondered out loud.

"It must be because everyone's excited about the concert," Saja answered. "I am, anyway."

Jimmy smiled. "Yeah, you're just excited because of...."

"Sandy!" Saja called, spotting her at one of the tables.

Sandy waved. "Hi guys!" she called back, and the three walked over to her table and sat down with her. "So, how did the trial go?"

Callie sighed. "The case was rested way too early, and the jury is in deliberation right now."

"Oh," Sandy said, and there was a silence. "Well, I'm sure everything will turn out okay."

At that moment, Jazz approached their table. "Hi guys! Can I get you a 'concert float'?"

"'Concert float'? What's that?" Jimmy asked.

"Well, at Mila's party this summer we had 'Mila floats' and after the Newport game we had 'victory floats'. For lack of a better name we're calling the special today 'concert floats'," she explained.

"Okay then, four 'concert floats'!" Saja exclaimed.

Jazz penciled it in on her notepad, and started heading back into the kitchen.

"Oh, Jazz!" Callie called suddenly, and Jazz turned around.


"Why weren't you at the trial today?" she asked.

Jazz's bright smile faded. Her mind wandered back to a few days earlier, when she had gone to visit Aleksandr in jail.

"May I see him?" Jazz asked, walking up to the counter at the Swans Crossing County Jail. Barek and his accomplices were being held there until their hearing the next day.

The warden nodded and took the keys off of the desk. "Right this way ma'am," he said, leading her to the jail cells.

Sitting in the cell were Barek and the two bald men.

Jazz shyly looked at the one bald man whom she knew, and he jumped from his seat on a tiny, flat bed and came over to the bars.

"Hello," he greeted her.

"Hey," Jazz said softly, holding on to the bars.

The warden turned to leave. "Just holler if you need me," he told Jazz. The bald man laced his fingers through hers. "Who is watching your soda shop?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I got someone to cover for me." She studied his face in wonder. How could someone so kind have done what he did to those kids? she asked herself.

"Will you be at the trial tomorrow?" the man asked her.

Jazz nodded. "Yes," she replied hesitantly.

"I hope you will be a good witness for us," he told her, looking into her eyes.

Why does that sound like a threat? she thought, feeling a bit uneasy. "I really don't know much."

He smiled. "That's good."

She looked up at him in confusion. "Why?"

"You can be," he paused, searching for the right word. "Good character witness."

Jazz swallowed hard. "Okay," she agreed. "I guess I have to go now."

"See you tomorrow," the man told her casually.

I guess I have no choice, she thought as she left the jail.

"I had to work," Jazz told Callie in a soft voice. She quickly walked away to retrieve their order.

The jury returned to their seats, and so did Judge Rider. J.T., Neil, and Glory anxiously leaned forward.

The jury foreman stood up, a piece of paper in his hand. Barek, Maxim, and Aleksandr also leaned forward.

"We, the jury, find Jack Bailey, Aleksandr Bunin, and Maxim Andreyev guilty of attempted murder and terrorism."

Barek narrowed his eyes at the remaining teenagers, a look of pure evil on his face. The guards began to lead the men out of the building to the prison van. Glory ran to the phone to call Swans' and tell the other teens the good news.

"Hey, everyone!" a waiter behind the counter said, holding the plastic swan phone in the air. "The verdict's in!"

The bustling diner grew quiet. Callie, Jimmy, Saja, and Jazz all listened nervously.

"Guilty!" the waiter announced. Callie, Jimmy, and Saja all jumped up and down, exclaiming happily.

Meanwhile, Jazz turned away, so that the customers wouldn't see the tears in her eyes.

Sydney's hair whipped around in her face as Billy drove the Mayor's sleek red Mercedes around Swans Crossing with the top down.

"Now, don't you wish you had ridden with me that one night?" Billy asked her over the loud roar of the wind.

Sydney laughed in reply.

"So, I trust that tonight is going to be exciting?" Billy yelled.

Sydney grinned and leaned against the seat, staring out the window. She thought of what she had written in her speech. "Yes, it should be very exciting."

"Well, here's to justice!" Saja exclaimed, raising his float.

"Here, here," Jimmy replied, raising his glass as well. He looked back at Callie, who seemed incredibly relieved and was smiling widely.

"Oh!" Callie said suddenly, jumping from her seat. "That reminds me!" She lifted her glass in the air. "I'd like to make a toast," she began, looking into Jimmy's eyes. "to the new manager of the Tool n' Die... Jimmy Clayton!"

Jimmy lowered his eyes modestly, but Callie could tell that he was flattered and touched by her gesture. The four clinked their glasses together, and even Saja had to smile widely. He had had, at one point, a fondness for or even a crush on Callie. But seeing her beaming from Jimmy's accomplishment made him realize that she only had eyes for him and that they had a very caring relationship. In fact, Callie and Jimmy's relationship seemed to be so strong now that only something major could make it crumble. And Saja realized that he didn't want it to. He was pleased that his best friends had found so much happiness with each other.

Saja looked over at Sandy, who was watching Jimmy and Callie with a romantic grin on her face. He smiled at her, and she returned the smile.

Life is good! Saja thought to himself, leaning back in his chair contentedly.

Dusk had settled upon Swans Crossing, and tons of people were filing into the open air area where the new stage was built. Excitement was in the air as mostly young people were arriving to come see the concert to celebrate the building of the new stage, the moment that many had waited all summer for.

Sitting in the front row were Garrett, J.T., Glory, Neil, Jimmy, Callie, Saja, and Nancy. All were anticipating the moment when Sydney would come out and make her speech, and then Sandy, Owen, and Mila would begin their songs.

At precisely six o'clock, Sydney walked out on stage in front of the mauve backdrop wearing a simple, but very flattering, black dress.

Garrett felt sick to his stomach again. She may or may not be my sister, but I have to admit that she looks beautiful tonight, he thought to himself, horrified that he was even thinking something like that.

Sydney walked up to the microphone wearing a dazzling smile. "Good evening, Swans Crossing...."

And a special thanks to my mom and dad for helping me with some of the legal things in this chapter, but since I don't know much about law I don't know how accurate I was! And another special thanks to Miss Swan for helping me with the Saja and Sandy flashback, and the name for Sandy's band.

Chapter Eleven

"Good evening, Swans Crossing," Sydney announced to the crowd, smiling widely. Down below where the audience was seated, Garrett was staring up at Sydney strangely, as if he was nearly mesmerized by her.

"Booth, what are you doing?" Jimmy whispered.

Garrett gave him a puzzled look. "What do you mean?"

Jimmy had noticed the way Garrett was watching Sydney on the stage. "You're staring at Sydney Rutledge!" he replied after the applause had ceased.

"Shh!" Garrett hissed, blushing. "I am not!" He still watched her intently, though. Throughout the past two weeks he had been through so much with Sydney. From their impulsive kisses to the discovery of their lineage, his emotions for Sydney Rutledge were jumbled and confused.

"I want to welcome you all to the first-ever concert on this brand new stage!" Sydney told the crowd. Everyone cheered. "This stage was built with the friendship and teamwork of the highly motivated teenagers in our community. As chair person, I would like to thank my concert stage committee: Mila Rosnovsky, Glory Booth, Callie Walker, Nancy Robbins, and Sandy Swan. None of this would have been possible without your help," Sydney said, pausing for the audience to clap for the girls. "And I'd especially like to thank Callie Walker and Jimmy Clayton, who worked incredibly hard to design and build a revolving concert stage."

Jimmy turned to Callie. "We did it," he whispered to her.

She leaned against his shoulder, smiling brightly.

"Now, before the music starts, I want to talk to you about the upcoming mayoral election. I was instructed by my mother, Mayor Rutledge, to say something favorable for her campaign."

Mayor Rutledge lowered her head in embarrassment. "That wasn't what I had in mind," she muttered through her teeth to Jerry, her campaign manager.

"Well, a week ago I wouldn't have even dreamed of it. I was so afraid of what would have been said about me that I couldn't tell anyone what I am about to say tonight.... that I was being blackmailed by none other than Grant Booth's son, Garrett Booth."

The crowd gasped, and began to talk loudly.

"I don't even believe this!" Garrett growled, pounding his fists together. "I'm going to kill her!"

"He had me doing everything for him; I was his slave. Until I discovered that it was all a joke, and that he was just getting back at me," Sydney said, her voice dripping with venom.

"This is unbelievable!" Nancy exclaimed, watching the scene play out with a devilish look on her face.

"He told me that I was switched at birth with Sandy Swan. He wanted me to know what it would be like to live as a Swan, but he let the power go to his head," Sydney continued.

Sandy was standing backstage, her face burning. "What's this all about?!" she shrieked at Mila and Owen, who were standing next to her, listening to Sydney’s speech wide-eyed.

"So Mother, here is what I have to say in favor of your campaign. Citizens of Swans Crossing, do you really want to elect someone who has been so negligent in raising his son?" Sydney smiled vindictively, able to see the horrified look on Garrett's face. "I think not."

The crowd was silent, and blown away. The confession of the scandal was the last thing that they had expected to hear. There was an awkward, drawn-out pause, and then Sydney continued to speak.

"Now, without further adieu, here is the newest rock sensation to hit Swans Crossing, Inspiration!"

The crowd recovered from the serious speech, and began to cheer wildly when Sandy, Owen, and Mila ran out onto the stage.

"I don't believe this!" Garrett exclaimed, excusing himself from the crowd. "How could she do this to me?" He felt dizzy as her speech continued to ring in his head:

"I was being blackmailed by none other than Grant Booth's son, Garrett Booth."

"Citizens of Swans Crossing, do you really want to elect someone who has been so negligent in raising his son?"

Garrett took off, searching for some fresh air. The crowd was so stifling, and everyone was staring at him. What is my dad going to say to me now? Well, at least she didn't say anything about me being her brother!

Garrett headed over to the parking lot and sat down beside a car. He buried his head in his hands regretfully.

"Why did I ever play this stupid joke?" he asked himself out loud.

"That's a very good question," Grant Booth remarked, crossing his arms in front of him.

Sandy stared out into the crowd, where there were thousands of people looking up at the stage, cheering for her.

"This is it," she whispered to herself. She cleared her throat. "This first song is called 'Make it Light'. It was inspired by someone special," she told the audience shyly.

Owen began playing a slow, eerie tune.

"'You fill my life with joy, whenever you are near, I love to be with you, you make my future clear'," Sandy began in her beautiful voice. "'A lonesome night we found, on a night so dark and drear, what had always been around, the sentence uttered I still hear’...."

The music picked up a bit when she began the chorus, Mila dancing and singing backup.

"'Now we are together, then we were alone, the future stretches out before us, on our long journey home, the moonlight is no match, for the darkness of the night, be with me and escape the wrath, walk me home and make it light’...."

Callie turned to Jimmy, a smile on her face. "This has been entertaining so far," she commented, slowly rocking her head to the music.

"That was some speech from Sydney," he agreed.

Callie laughed. "You know, I was really convinced that Swans Crossing was going to be such a boring place to live, but I was really, really wrong."

"I guess I can't argue with that. First there was the disaster at the docks," Jimmy recalled.

"And then Mila's surprise party, where the cake ruined everything. And of course, there was Garrett being taken in by the police at the slumber party, Glory being kidnapped, and who could forget everything that happened with Barek and J.T. and Neil," Callie supplied.

"And now Sydney pulling one over on Garrett at the concert," Jimmy concluded.

"I was really scared about Barek and all that’s happened these past few weeks, but now it seems as if everything is back to normal," Callie remarked.

Jimmy thought back to what had just happened during Sydney's speech. "As normal as it gets in Swans Crossing," he commented with a smile.

Callie laughed. "Right."

"Callie?" Jimmy asked in a more serious tone.


"Are you happy that you moved here now?"

Callie turned to him and smiled confidently, looking much more like her old self now that the trial was over.

Sandy's beautiful ballad lilted over the crowd. "'The moonlight is no match, for the darkness of the night, be with me and escape the wrath, walk me home and make it light’...."

Callie titled her head towards Jimmy. "I couldn't be happier," she told him as they went in for a kiss.

The slow song ended, and then the lights began to flash more rapidly. Sandy started to sing her next song.

"'I look around and I see all the desperate faces, some people finding it hard trying to deal with life’s changes’," Sandy sang. "'We all need someone to lean on, someone who understands, I'll be right here when you need me, baby come and take my hand’..."

"'I'll hold you up when you're feeling down, I'll hold you up, yeah I'll be around’," Sandy, Owen, and Mila sang together.

"Wow," said Dave Nascarella, the talent scout from Clark Records. "These guys are really great! I have to talk to them after the show," he told Billy Gunn.

"I knew Sydney wouldn't let us down," Billy replied with a smile.

"Dad, I uh.." Garrett began, jumping up from his spot on the pavement.

"What is the meaning of this?" Mr. Booth demanded firmly.

"Well, I..."

"This is an outrage! What did you think you were doing by blackmailing Sydney Rutledge? Did you expect her not to keep quiet about it? For God's sake Garrett, she's a Rutledge!"

Garrett studied his shoes. "I never meant..."

"You never meant what?" Mr. Booth shouted. "You never meant to ruin my campaign? You never meant to lie to the whole town of Swans Crossing all summer?"

Garrett suddenly became infuriated. "Lie?" he yelled at his father. "You want to talk about lying? Why don't you explain your affair with Mayor Rutledge?!"

"And now I'd like to introduce Mila Rosnovsky, who will be singing her song, 'My Love'," Sandy announced when the group’s set was over.

People applauded as Mila walked up the stage and took the microphone from Sandy.

"'My love is like a rose, red like a heart that beats steady and true’," she sang, her voice not as beautiful as Sandy's, but still pleasant in its own sense.

J.T.'s eyes widened as each word came out of Mila's mouth. "What?! Why is Mila singing my poem?"

"'There are thorns to remind you that mistakes can be a part of love, too’," Mila continued.

J.T. turned to Glory, his eyes flashing accusingly. "I don't know!" Glory exclaimed, her mouth wide open.

I can't believe Garrett gave her those poems and she turned them into a song! Glory thought to herself, looking from Mila to J.T. nervously.

J.T. watched in horror as the private poem he had written to Glory was being sung to the entire town. His mind was racing, and drifted back to a conversation he had had with Mila, Garrett, and Glory at Sydney's pool party. J.T. and Mila had been sitting beside the pool, talking about Shakespeare...

"That was beautiful. You know it by heart?" Mila said in admiration after J.T. had recited a Shakespearean sonnet.

"I know all of Shakespeare's sonnets by heart," he told her shyly.


"Just the published ones. He wrote most of them to a mysterious, dark haired woman."

"Who do you think the dark lady in the sonnets was?" Mila asked.

"I don't know," J.T. replied. The two stood up when they saw Garrett and Glory enter the club.

"Garrett!" Mila exclaimed. "I'm so glad you finally got here!"

"I can see you missed me," he said sarcastically.

"Oh I did!" she answered, not noticing his sarcasm. I was so miserable until J.T. and I started talking."

Garrett rolled his eyes. "Great."

"We were discussing poetry," she explained.

"Yeah, Mila really knows her iambic pentameter," J.T. said, obviously impressed.

Mila turned to Garrett and smiled. "Well, I've had a great teacher."

J.T.'s adrenaline began rushing through his body. He angrily balled his hands into fists. "Garrett," he muttered under his breath.

Sydney leaned against a tree away from the crowd, breathing heavily. "I did it!" she said out loud. "I finally got him! After all he’s put me through, I got him in the end!" She laughed triumphantly. "What goes around comes around, Booth!" she shouted, not caring who heard her. She was nearly drunk off of her own power.

"Sydney?" Callie called, hesitantly approaching her.

Sydney beamed up at her friend. "I got him, Callie!" She threw her arms around her. "I put him in his place!"

Callie pulled out of her friends embrace. "You're as bad as Garrett!" she remarked disgustedly.

Sydney's smile faded. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, when I saved you on the docks that one morning, you seemed like a different person. I saw another side of Sydney Rutledge, one that wasn't hung up on getting her revenge. And now you're parading around here acting just like the person you despise!" Callie said, raising her voice. She just couldn’t understand why Sydney and Garrett played such petty, vindictive games with each other.

Sydney giggled. "Well, when you put it that way..."

Callie opened her mouth to respond, but didn't know how to explain it to her. Instead, she turned away on her heels and flounced off.

Sydney smiled, thinking of the way the crowd had gasped when they found out what Garrett had done to her. "Ooh, I love myself!" she exclaimed, stealing Garrett's catch phrase, and dissolving into laughter.

Mr. Booth stared at his son for what seemed like an eternity.

"'Crossing over this road for the first time, feeling the world could be mine’," Inspiration sang, the peppy music a striking contrast to the hostility that hung in the air between Garrett and his father.

"What?" Mr. Booth managed to sputter out. "My... what?"

Garrett narrowed his blue eyes. "You know. The affair that you had with Mayor Rutledge, fifteen years ago, right before Sydney was born. A few months after I was." His tone was very matter-of-fact, and cold.

"Where did you hear this nonsense?" Mr. Booth asked, faltering.

"Nonsense, huh?" Garrett said sarcastically.

"Don't talk to your father that way," he warned.

"Why not? What, am I supposed to have respect for you? After you cheated on Mom..."

"Stop it, Garrett!" he shouted, interrupting his son. "Do you want the whole town to hear this?"

Garrett was silent in reply.

"Look, do you want to know the whole story?" Mr. Booth asked, lowering his voice.

Garrett folded his arms in front of him. "Yes, tell me the whole story."

"J.T., where are you going?" Glory asked. He was fighting his way through the crowd.

J.T. didn't answer, he just stalked out of the crowd, towards the parking lot.

"J.T.! Wait a minute!" Glory called after him, running to catch up.

He whipped his head around, and glared at her. "How could you humiliate me like this? Those poems were private!"

"I didn't do this!" she insisted, her voice breaking. "J.T., please!"

J.T. caught sight of Garrett arguing with his father across the parking lot. Glory noticed what he was looking at, and felt the need to defend herself and her brother.

"Look, I had nothing to do with this! When I found out that Garrett had taken my poems, I made him promise never to do it again, and to make Mila keep quiet about them."

J.T. became even more furious. "Oh, so that makes it better!" he hollered. "You lie to me about it, and I'm supposed to say, 'Oh, since Garrett was told never to do it again, it's okay'?"

Glory took a deep breath, trying to keep calm. "I- I didn't know what to do. If I made him confess to Mila that had he stolen the poems, she would have broken up with him. He's my brother, I just couldn't do that to him," she explained in a tearful voice.

J.T. looked at her, trying to convince himself that everything was okay. He was hurt that she had lied to him, and was infuriated that Garrett had stolen something he had written and passed it off as his own. He had to figure out a way to pay Garrett back.

The music from the concert stage was so loud it could be heard far out into the parking lot. Mila was singing her somewhat silly song, "Vision in Polka-dot Pink".

J.T. listened to her voice for a minute. "’You're a vision I think, in polka-dot pink’..." He then smiled in spite of himself. Suddenly, he knew just the way to get back at Garrett.

Sandy and her band were singing their sixth song, "Over You", and the crowd was listening to the slow, pretty ballad. Sydney was still on the outskirts of the crowd, leaning against a tree, wearing a smug look.

"Sydney!" Mayor Rutledge called, rushing over to her daughter.

"Mother," Sydney started.

"Oh, Sydney, I feel so horrible that you had to go through that awful ordeal with Garrett Booth." She embraced her. "I always knew he was like his father. Are you going to be okay, Dear?"

"Yes Mother, I'm fine," Sydney answered. The mayor didn't look convinced. "Really," she insisted.

"I am so proud of you for putting Garrett where he belongs," Mayor Rutledge told her with a smile.

Sydney smiled back, but in the back of her mind she couldn't help but rehash what Callie had said to her earlier: "You're as bad as Garrett!"

She quickly pushed the thought away. I could never be like Garrett Booth.

"And now for our final song!" Sandy said into the microphone, smiling confidently. As soon as she had stepped onto the revolving stage at the concert, all of her insecurities had vanished.

Sandy motioned for Owen to begin, and he started the music to "Gotta Grow Up".

"'Don't know where I'm going, my head is feeling strange, my heart is beating overtime, my body’s going through a radical change, I'm feeling new emotions, I can't turn back now, standing at the crossroads, I'll get through somehow, guess I gotta grow up’," she sang, dancing self-assuredly.

"That girl has stage presence," Dave told Billy as they continued to watch the performance.

"Yes, I agree."

"And the band is really great too!" Dave exclaimed. "There’s one thing I don't understand, though. The video we got at Clark Records was of the back-up singer doing the lead."

Billy scowled. "Mila."

Dave shrugged. "Oh well, they're great anyway."

"'Letting go of childhood dreams, can sometimes make you sad, like hanging out all day and playing pretend, giving up all my toys hasn't been so bad, 'cause the boy next door has become much more than just a friend’," Sandy continued.

Dave and Billy rose up from their seats. "Well, we really need to go talk to them," Dave said.

"’Gotta grow up sometime, yeah yeah yeah, I gotta grow up’!" Sandy ended, and the crowd went wild.

"Thanks! You've been a great audience!" Sandy shouted out to the crowd. She beamed as the applause rang in her ears. She stepped off the rotating stage and she, Owen, and Mila exited.

"Excuse me?" Dave called out to her.

Sandy turned around and smiled. "Hi! Can I help you with something?"

He stuck out his hand, and Sandy shook it. "I'm Dave Nascarella, a talent scout from Clark Records," he introduced himself.

Sandy was awestruck. "Um, I'm, uh, Sandy Swan," she managed to say.

He smiled. "I know. You guys were terrific."

"You really think so?!" she exclaimed excitedly.

Dave nodded. "I know talent when I see it." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen and a business card. "Here's my number," he said, scribbling on the card. "Call me when you get the chance. I would love to hear you at your studio and maybe work out some kind of deal."

Sandy's eyes widened. "Great! Thank you so much Mr. Nascarella! I'll call right away!"

"No problem! I hope to hear from you soon!" he told her, and walked away.

Sandy looked at the card in awe. She jumped up and down. "Owen!" she called, skipping off.

As soon as the concert was over, most of the teens headed over to Swans Soda Shop for the "Post-Concert Bash". Within minutes, the diner was hopping with excitement.

"Encore, encore!" Saja yelled gleefully when Sandy, Owen, and Mila walked into the soda shop.

"Yeah, come on guys, one more time!" J.T. added.

Sandy blushed, and headed up to the platform in the shop where the jukebox was, and Owen set his keyboard on one of the tables. "All right!" she agreed. "After all, we might as well celebrate our possible record deal!" she announced.

"Oh, wow!" Glory exclaimed, hugging her friend. "That is so great!" Everyone else took turns congratulating them, and then Sandy started to sing the song she had been inspired to write by Saja.

"'You fill my life with joy, whenever you are near, I love to be with you, you make my future clear, a lonesome night we found, on a night so dark and drear, what had always been around, the sentence uttered I still hear’...."

"Would you like to dance?" Jimmy asked Callie.

Callie smiled. "I'd love to."

He took her into his arms, and they began to sway to the music.

"Today has been really fun," she said, pressing her cheek against his. "For one of the first times since we've been together, life is normal."

"Maybe now we can be your average teenage couple," he suggested.

"Like J.T. and Glory?" Callie asked. Jimmy dipped her back and she laughed.

"No way, they have their own set of problems. We're Jimmy Clayton and Callie Walker."

Callie shook her head with a teasing grin. She spun him around. "Callie Walker and Jimmy Clayton," she corrected.

"You got it, Walker woman," he agreed and continued to dance with her in an exaggerated fashion, spinning her and dipping her while they cracked up.

"'Now we are together, then we were alone, the future stretches out before us, on our long journey home, the moonlight is no match, for the darkness of the night, be with me and escape the wrath, walk me home and make it light’," Sandy sang.

"Saja, this new song of Sandy's is really pretty," Callie commented as Jimmy twirled her by him.

Saja was grinning from ear to ear. "It really is," he replied, staring at Sandy in admiration. She is really pretty, he thought to himself as he watched her singing up on the platform.

"I know that look, Saja," Jimmy teased as he and Callie danced by him again.

"What look?" he asked, not tearing his eyes away from Sandy.

Jimmy pulled Callie closer to him. "This look," he responded, staring at Callie romantically.

Callie felt on top of the world as he spun her around the soda shop, holding her close.

"So, you see Garrett, the mayor has just invented this harebrained story about me being the father of Sydney," Mr. Booth explained, trying to keep his confession light so that the people exiting the concert would not hear them.

"Why would she do that?" Garrett challenged.

"Because she wanted something to hold over my head." He glanced at Garrett pointedly. "Like you did with Sydney."

Garrett thought about what his father had said for a few moments. "So, are you saying that you and the mayor did have a thing at one time?"

Mr. Booth cleared his throat nervously. "Well, I uh, at one time, but it was just a little fling... why am I telling you this?" he suddenly asked. "You're fifteen years old, you don't need to know this!"

"I think I deserve the truth," Garrett deadpanned.

Mr. Booth turned away. "Maybe when you're older," he muttered. Then he turned back around. "You, um, aren't going to say anything about this to your mother or your sister... are you?"

Garrett smiled arrogantly. "I don't know, what's it worth to you?"

Mr. Booth's jaw dropped. "You're trying to blackmail me, too?!" he cried in disbelief.

"Look Dad, just guarantee that I can stay in Swans Crossing, and no one will ever know about this," he bargained.

Mr. Booth sighed and turned to walk away. "Something needs to be done about that boy," he grumbled to himself.

"Are you sure you aren't mad at me?" Glory asked as she and J.T. were dancing to Sandy's song .

J.T. smiled to reassure her. He looked over his shoulder at Mila, who was next to Sandy, singing backup. "Positive."

The doors of the soda shop opened, and a man carrying a bouquet of sunflowers entered. "I have a delivery for a Jazz," he announced.

Jazz looked up, a bit confused. "For me?" she asked. She crossed the room and took the flowers from the man. "Thank you." She pulled the card off of the cellophane.

"Who are they from?" Callie asked, who had come over to Jazz's side.

Jazz read the card silently
You were a wonderful person. Sorry it turned out this way, but I will never forget.

Jazz looked up at Callie, smiling through tears. "Just someone passing through," she replied with a bittersweet sigh.

"Glory," J.T. said when Sandy finished her song, and someone played a rock tune on the jukebox. "Will you excuse me for a second?"

"Sure," she agreed, and watched him head over to where Mila was standing. She saw them talking, and then laughing. A knot formed in her stomach when she saw Mila flirtatiously place a hand on J.T.'s shoulder.

"Glory?" Callie spoke up from behind her.

A wide-eyed Glory turned to her friend. "Do you think they're flirting?" she asked.


"Mila and J.T."

Callie looked up at the pair, who were laughing at something together. "Nah, they're just talking."

"But I had sort of a fight with J.T. today," she said in a worried voice. "And now I'm afraid of losing him."

Callie smiled. "Look, a little fight is nothing. You and J.T. have something really special, and one little fight isn't going to change anything."

Glory managed a small smile. "I guess so."

"Hey, guys! Want to come up here and sing with us?" Sandy asked. Callie looked at Glory expectantly.

"Come on, it'll be fun, and you can get your mind off Mila for awhile," Callie whispered to her, grabbing Glory by the arm.

"All right, all right," she agreed, and the two joined Sandy.

"’Talking sweet as honey, boy you ain't gonna get too far’," Sandy, Mila, Callie, and Glory sang together, laughing and dancing in the shop. "'Talking sweet as honey, better come back with your heart...’"

As Glory was singing with her friends, she noticed that J.T. was staring at the girls, but his eyes appeared to be glued to Mila. She felt her heart sink, and wondered to herself if this was the end of J.T. Adams and Glory Booth.

Amidst all of the music, Sydney walked slowly into Swans, feeling a bit out of place. She saw most of her friends singing and dancing with Sandy, but Nancy was sitting by herself in a corner.

Good old Nancy, she thought to herself, and walked over to where her friend was sitting. "Hi," she said.

"Sydney!" Nancy looked up at her, wearing a look of absolute respect and admiration. "I simply cannot believe what you did to Garrett, it was genius!" she gushed.

Sydney sat down on the stool and sighed. "Just something I came up with spur of the moment," she said softly.

"Well, it was the most entertaining thing I have seen in years. And what a fool Garrett was to think you would fall for a scheme to make you believe that you and Sandy Swan, of all people, were switched at birth," Nancy carried on. She then looked up to the platform where J.T., Jimmy, Saja, Neil, and Owen had just joined Sandy, Glory, Mila, and Callie in their singing. The group was dancing and laughing cheerfully, Sandy in the middle of it all. "But then again, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad."

"Guys, I really better get going," Callie told the group when the song was over.

"Aw, come on Callie, one more song?" Sandy pleaded with a grin.

"I'm really sorry, but I have to meet my dad. He has something important to tell me," she explained, wishing she could stay a little later.

"All right, well, we'll see you later then!" Saja said.

"Yeah, bye Callie!" the rest of them chorused.

Jimmy said good-bye to his friends as well, and he and Callie stepped outside. "I can walk you over to the hotel, right?" he asked her.

Callie looked up at the dark night sky, and nodded. "I would like that. 'Make a dark night lighter'," she quoted Sandy's song with a grin.

Jimmy took her hand in his, and they began walking down the dimly lit streets. "So, did you have fun tonight?"

"A lot!" she replied. "You know, I really feel like I fit in here."

"What do you mean?"

Callie shrugged, still wearing a smile. "I don't know, I mean, I grew up in a submarine. I was never really able to get," she paused. "close to anyone before."

Jimmy lowered his eyes timidly. "And you are now?"

She nodded. "I finally know what it's like," she admitted.

"You know, I feel that way too," he said.


"Well, before I met you, all of the relationships I had were superficial, like with Nancy and Sophia," Jimmy told her.

"But now..." she prompted.

"I've never really known anyone the way I know you," he concluded.

The two stopped outside of the Swans Crossing Inn where Captain Walker was staying. "Well, here we are," Callie said.

"I had such a good time tonight," Jimmy mentioned again. "I guess I’ll see you tomorrow at the Tool n' Die?"

Callie nodded. "Bright and early," she replied.

"Well, good night," he said, staring into her eyes which were shining in the moonlight.

"Good night." Jimmy and Callie leaned towards each other, and their lips met in a long kiss that sent an electric current down both of their spines. When their lips parted, Callie was breathless. She had never been kissed so sweetly before. They smiled at each other, and then Callie waved good-bye to Jimmy and entered the building. She went up to the front desk, and got her father's room number. She hopped into the elevator giddily, and rode up to Captain Walker's room, smiling and still able to feel Jimmy's kiss on her lips.

The post-concert bash was still going strong at Swans. Sandy had stopped singing, and now she and Saja were dancing to a fast song on the jukebox.

"You know Sandy, your new song was incredible," he told her, smiling timidly.

"Well, it wouldn't have been possible without you," Sandy replied.

Saja bowed his head humbly. "I am honored to be in the presence of such a talented star. I'm so happy that you are going to get a record deal!" He touched her arm, and both could sense the sparks flying between them.

Mila was sitting at the counter, idly stirring her drink with her straw over and over.

"Hey Mila, why so glum?" J.T. asked, perching himself on the stool next to hers.

"I'm just so mad at Garrett! I can't believe what he did to Sydney!" she wailed.

J.T. looked up and saw the double doors of Swans swinging open. "Well, speak of the devil," he remarked.

Garrett stepped into the shop, and everyone looked up. The diner went quiet, and all eyes were on him as he walked across the room.

Callie knocked on her father's door, and the Captain appeared in the doorway immediately.

"Callie! I'm so glad to see you, come in!" he greeted her pleasantly, wearing a smile.

"Me too, Dad," she told him. She entered the room and sat down in one of the chairs.

"So, how was the concert?" he asked.

Callie thought of how much fun she had and grinned. "It was incredible."

Captain Walker's expression became a bit anxious.

"So, what's the big news, Dad?" she asked.

"Well Callie, I have been offered a job! A great job researching in a lab at a university," he announced, smiling proudly.

Callie got up from the chair and hugged her father. "Dad, that's great! So, when do you start at Swans Crossing University?" she asked.

Captain Walker cleared his throat, and his eyes nervously darted across the room.

"Well, it's not at SCU," he said, staring at the floor.

"What? Well, where is it?" Callie prompted, trying to read her father's face.

"The university is in... Brazil."

And many special thanks to: Alicia "The Rhyming Diva" Lazaraus for writing the song "Make it Light". Miss Swan, whose storyline "Moving to Brazil" is introduced in this chapter.br/> Note: All the songs in this chapter excluding "Make it Light" are taken directly from Swans Crossing.

Chapter Twelve

"Brazil?" Callie repeated in disbelief, standing up. She began pacing the hotel room, her mouth dry, her hands shaking. "You have a job offer in Brazil?"

Captain Walker came over to her side, smiling. "Yes my dear, it is a wonderful opportunity for us. I would work an average nine to five job at the University of Rio de Janeiro, doing research in the bio lab. It would be similar to the work I did on the sub, studying lamprey eels, and of course the Nudibranchs, although there are different species in the southern hemisphere. The pay is really good, and they've offered to set us up in a house and everything. Can you imagine? The Walkers living in a house!" He chuckled at this idea.

Callie took a deep breath, trying her hardest to stay in control. "So, you're going to take it?"

"Well, after everything that has happened with the sub, there isn't really anything left for us here in Swans Crossing," he explained.

Callie thought back to the wonderful night she had had, laughing with her friends, dancing with Jimmy. "Speak for yourself," she muttered.

"What was that?" Captain Walker asked.

Callie lowered her eyes. "Nothing, Dad," she looked up at her father. He was smiling, and looked positively giddy. It was such a change from the last time she had been with him at the docks when he had been so cold, that there wasn't any way she could break his good mood by protesting. "So when are we leaving?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"We're leaving in four days," Captain Walker told her.

Callie's eyes widened. "Four days?"

"Well, look who it is!" J.T. exclaimed as Garrett walked into Swans.

"J.T.," Glory began warningly. All eyes were on Garrett as he crossed the soda shop. The loud, festive music had stopped, and everyone who was dancing, laughing, and partying all looked up to see Garrett.

"Sydney," he said, coming over to her side. "I need to talk to you."

Sydney looked up at him, a smug look playing upon her face.

"I don't think so, Garrett," she replied, loud enough for everyone in the diner to hear her. "I don't want to talk to you, and I don't think anyone else wants you here, either. Face it, after what you did to me you are all washed up in Swans Crossing," Sydney explained in a harsh voice. Garrett looked around him, at all of the faces staring at him. He had never felt so alienated in his life.

"I'm glad Sydney is finally standing up to Garrett," Mila said, coming over to J.T. and Glory, turning her back so she wouldn't have to look at Garrett.

Glory sighed. "I'm going to go get something to drink," she mumbled, and wandered over to the counter. She wasn't about to witness another flirt-fest from the her boyfriend and Mila.

"I thought you and Garrett were the dynamic duo," J.T. remarked. "What happened?"

Mila sighed. "Well, after what he did to Sydney, I don't think I could ever be with him again."

"Yeah, and she's not the only one he's double crossed tonight," J.T. said glumly.

"What do you mean?" Mila asked, furrowing her eyebrows in curiosity.

J.T. smiled to himself. "Well, you know the poem that you sang tonight at the concert?"

Mila rolled her eyes. "Yeah, the one Garrett wrote for me this summer."

J.T. shook his head. "He might have read it to you but he didn't write it."

Her eyes widened. "What do you mean? Who wrote it?" she asked him.

J.T. smiled shyly. "I did."

From across the room, Glory watched J.T. and Mila talking. She felt a lump rising in her throat as she watched him comfort her.

"Sickening, isn't it?" Neil spoke up from behind her. He sat down on the stool next to Glory’s.

"You mean Mila and J.T.?" she asked, not tearing her eyes away from the two.

Neil nodded. "Good old J.T., always trying to play the good Samaritan."

"Right," Glory answered in a choked voice.

Neil picked up on it right away. "Glory, are you all right?" he asked with concern.

She shrugged. "I suppose. After what happened with Garrett and J.T. tonight, I don't think things will ever be the same," she said sadly.

"Oh, come on. Look, J.T. and I are best friends. He could never see anything in Mila. You two are the perfect match," he admitted.

Glory wasn't convinced. "But she's already in love with his soul!"

Neil looked confused. "What do you mean? What about your brother?"

"Garrett gave Mila poems that J.T. had written to me. That was the only way he could get Mila to go out with him again. And now J.T. knows, and I'm sure he's over there telling Mila..." he voice trailed off.

"Try not to think about it. J.T. has a lot on his mind, and well, these things have a way of working themselves out," Neil said comfortingly.

"Thanks, Neil," Glory replied. But from the way she could see J.T. looking up at Mila, she knew that it wasn't going to 'work itself out'.

"Brazil," Captain Walker's words echoed in Callie's head.

"A wonderful opportunity for us."

"University of Rio de Janerio."

"Four days."

"Brazil," Callie mumured to herself. She sat down on the porch swing at the Booth's house, and she vaguely wondered how she had gotten there. She couldn't remember saying goodbye to her dad, and she didn't remember walking back to Glory's. All she remembered were the strange words her father had said.

"We're moving to Brazil," Callie repeated out loud. "Brazil." The more she said it, the stranger it seemed.

"How could it be?" she asked herself. "Just when things were beginning to work out for me, now we're going to have to move.... It’s not like it’s anything new though," she added bitterly. This was the story of Callie's life. Every time she seemed to get used to a place, Captain Walker announced that they were leaving. And it used to be okay with Callie. In all of the other places she had lived, she never bothered to make any real friends. It was never worth it. But her father had made it seem like Swans Crossing was going to be a permanent homestead.

Maybe it would have been if I hadn't ruined the sub, she thought to herself. However, in the back of her mind she knew that the incident with the submarine was not her fault. But maybe it is my fault for letting myself get too close to the people here, she mused. After all, I should have known this wouldn’t last forever.

Callie closed her eyes. She wanted to kick, scream, cry, do anything she could to end this nightmare and forget her father’s awful announcement. I can't believe I only have four more days in Swans Crossing, she thought sadly. Then another, more urgent thought occurred to her. How am I going to tell Jimmy?

"Please Sydney," Garrett pleaded, trying to keep his voice down. "There is something I really need to discuss with you."

Sydney arched an eyebrow. "What?"

"I think you know, and it isn't something that you'd want to have broadcasted all over town," he explained. "Can we go outside?" Garrett motioned towards the door.

Sydney rolled her eyes. "Fine," she agreed, and stormed out of the shop. As soon as the red trimmed doors of Swans swung closed, Sydney began tapping her foot impatiently. "All right, Garrett, let's make this quick. What do you have to talk to me about?"

"It's about the little accusation you have made about my father being your father," he began.

Sydney’s eyes darted around her, making sure no one could overhear them. "It's not an accusation. I've seen the proof with my own eyes. The letter, the engagement announcement-"

"Both fake," Garrett cut her off. "I talked to my dad about it tonight."

"What!?" she exclaimed. "You told your dad?"

He nodded. "I had to know the truth, and I knew I wasn't going to get it from you."

"Oh," she replied sarcastically. "And just what pray tell did your father say is the truth?"

"Your mother made this whole thing up. She accused him of being the father of her child just so she would have something on him."

"You mean the same reason that you invented the ‘switched at birth’ story?" Sydney asked, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Something like that," Garrett answered shortly. "And thanks a lot for telling that to the entire town!"

"Oh, you're quite welcome," she deadpanned. "You deserved it, and you know it. First you tell the biggest lie in history, that I was switched at birth with Sandy Swan, and then you accuse me and my mother of being liars. You really have a lot of nerve, Garrett Booth."

"That's right, and don't you forget it," he said, smiling arrogantly.

Sydney turned away from him, and stared into the lit street lamp outside the building. "We need to do something about this."

Garrett walked in front of her to face her. "What do you mean, we?"

"For once Garrett, I think we are going to have to team up," she admitted, having a hard time getting those words out.

"Why?" he asked distastefully.

"We need to find out the truth about what happened between our parents, and the only way we can do that is by-"

"Garrett!" Mila called, interrupting him and Sydney. Realizing they couldn't talk about it anymore, Sydney retreated back into the soda shop.

"Mila, hi!" Garrett said, reaching to put his arm around her. She backed away from him. "What's wrong?" he asked in confusion.

"I don't think we should see each other anymore," she told him coldly.


"After what you did to Sydney..." Mila’s voice trailed off.

Garrett rolled his eyes. "That's between me and Sydney, it has nothing to do with you."

"Oh yeah, well the fact that you stole J.T.'s poems and gave them to me has something to do with me," she snapped, putting her hands on her hips.

Garrett’s eyes widened. "W-what? Who told you that?" he stuttered, completely taken aback.

"The poet himself," she said with a scowl.

"J.T.," he growled under his breath.

"That's right, and J.T. is more of a man than you will ever be." Mila reached into her pocket, and pulled out the awful poem he had given her earlier that day. She tossed it at him, and turned on her heels. "Good-bye!"

Mila stormed back into Swans leaving Garrett behind, and immediately walked over to J.T.

"What happened?" J.T. asked when he saw her face was flushed.

"I broke up with Garrett!" she wailed, tears beginning to fall down her face.

"Good for you," J.T. said encouragingly. "I never understood why all the girls always wanted to go out with Garrett."

Mila sniffed in reply. "I don't know either," she admitted.

"Especially you," he continued shyly. "I mean, you're such a bright girl. You deserve better."

Mila looked up at J.T., and their eyes locked. She was surprised at the intensity of his stare. J.T. had never looked at her like that before. It wasn't just a friendly look, it was one of those looks. "Thanks," Mila sputtered, still looking into his eyes.

"Would you like to get out of here?" J.T. asked, seeing as she was still crying a little bit.

She nodded. "Okay."

"I'll walk you home." J.T. and Mila walked out of Swans together, while Glory watched on helplessly.

She stood up. "I've got to get out of here," she muttered, and headed out the door.

Callie let herself into the Booth house. Grant and Cornelia were already asleep, so she tiptoed into the living room and sat down on the couch. She didn't even bother to turn on a light, although she was afraid of the dark. She felt completely numb as she buried her face in her hands. Life couldn't get any worse. Suddenly, the front door creaked open, and her head shot up.

"We really need to talk Garrett," Glory told her brother in a harsh voice. The two came into the living room, and Callie ducked behind the couch so they wouldn't see her. She could tell there was a fight brewing between the Booth siblings, and she didn't want to get in the middle of it.

"What is it now?" Garrett asked in a weary voice. He had already been chewed out by his dad, Sydney, and Mila, he didn't need anything from Glory, too.

Garrett quickly began walking up the stairs, but Glory was at his heels. "You're not going to get out of this so fast!" she exclaimed. The two entered Glory's room, and she closed the door. "How could you do this to me?" she wailed.

"What? What did I do?" Garrett looked confused.

Glory picked up her picture of J.T. that sat proudly on her desk. As soon as she looked at the photo, her eyes flooded with tears. "You stole J.T.'s poem, and Mila sang it tonight at the concert. J.T. found out about it," she explained in a low voice. She looked up, her blue eyes flashing with anger. "I can't believe you did this to me! He left with Mila!" she shouted.

"Um," Garrett stuttered. He had never seen Glory so angry before.

"I hate you!" she screamed. "You've ruined my life!" she took the picture of J.T. and flung it at Garrett. It missed, and smashed against the wall, shattering and falling to the floor in broken glass shards.

The siblings stared at each other for a few intense moments. "I’ve got to get out of here," Garrett mumbled, leaving his sister behind, staring at the broken picture.

"Thanks for walking me home, J.T.," Mila said when they arrived in the front of her house. They were standing near the door in the glow of the porch light. "I just couldn't be alone tonight."

"I understand," J.T. replied. "But come on, tonight wasn't all wasted."

"No, it wasn't," she admitted. "I got to sing in front of all these people. And they liked us, they even liked me."

He smiled. "Well that isn't a big surprise,"

Then she frowned. "I am just so mad at Garrett!"

"Forget about it! It's his loss, and you know it."

Mila shrugged. "I guess. Well, you know, I should tell you what I have been telling Garrett all this time about the poem."

"What's that?" J.T. asked.

"It's beautiful," she told him shyly.


Mila nodded. "It gives me chills."

Right after she said that, J.T.’s mind wandered back. Where had he heard those words before? He thought for a moment, then remembered. That's what Glory always said when she liked one of my poems! Man, I was such a jerk to her tonight! he recalled. He realized he had been trying to flirt with Mila to get back at Garrett, and in the process had really messed things up with Glory. "Mila, I really have to be going," J.T. quickly excused himself, said good night, and bounded off in the direction of the Booth's.

After Garrett had left, Glory crossed the room. She spotted her book of poems sitting at her window seat. She picked it up, and carefully began to leaf through it. "I can't believe you J.T. Adams. You just go off with Mila tonight like what we had was nothing," she said out loud. She sat down at the window, and slowly ripped one of the pages out. She tossed it out the window, and let it slowly flutter to the ground. It made her feel better, like he couldn't hurt her. So she ripped another one out, and tossed it outside as well. Next thing she knew, she was holding an empty book in her hands. She had thrown all of J.T.’s poems out the window in some sort of a trance.

"Glory?" Callie spoke up cautiously, coming into the room. Glory looked up from the slew of papers on the ground outside the window.

"Hi Callie," she greeted her in a low, monotonous voice.

Callie looked at Glory's desk where a stack of Polaroids where sitting. "Are these from the party?" she asked, picking them up.

"Yeah," Glory replied. Callie leafed through the stack, until she came to a photo of her and Jimmy smiling at each other while they were dancing. She studied it a moment and then looked up briefly.

"Can I keep this?" she asked, still staring at the picture.

"Sure," Glory shrugged.

Then Callie noticed that she was standing amongst broken glass and pieces of frame and Glory’s photo of J.T. was lying on the ground. "What happened?" she asked her friend with concern.

"I threw it at Garrett," Glory explained. Callie could tell by the stains on Glory's face that she had been crying.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Callie asked softly. Glory turned away.

"Not really."

Outside, J.T. approached the Booth's house. He was carrying the ladder he used to climb up Glory's window and see her sometimes. I have to apologize, he thought to himself. I have been such a jerk tonight!

"As far as I am concerned, J.T. and I are through!" J.T. heard Glory say from inside her bedroom. He felt his heart sink. He looked down at his feet, and realized he was standing on a bunch of pieces of paper. He knelt down and picked it up. "’Accidental flares of love burst through the atmosphere’," it read. It was one of his poems. He dropped it back onto the soil, and looked up at Glory's window.

"I guess we are," J.T. said, and stepped away in defeat.

Special thanks to Miss Swan and to Maxiom for some of the story ideas in this chapter.

Chapter Thirteen

Glory woke up Saturday morning to swollen eyes. She sat up in bed, and as always, looked to her desk where J.T.'s photo normally sat.

"Nope," she sighed when she saw the picture was gone. "It wasn't a nightmare." J.T. really had left her last night, to comfort Mila. And it was all Garrett's fault! If he hadn't stolen J.T.'s poems in the first place... she ended that thought right there. She had to take some responsibility. After all, she was naive enough not to notice what was going on between Mila and J.T. I should have seen it coming, she thought, remembering how the two had been discussing poetry endlessly for the past few weeks.

She glanced into the trash can and saw the shards of broken glass. She and Callie had cleaned it up at about midnight, while Callie tearfully told her about moving to Brazil. Of course, that made Glory cry, too. No wonder my eyes hurt so much, she thought wryly.

Glory crossed the room to her full length mirror and stared into it, studying her disheveled reflection. "So begins the brand new life of Gloria Booth," she said out loud. She tried to smile, only making things worse. She looked over at Callie who was still asleep in the guest bed, and then over at the window seat, where Callie's suede motorcycle jacket sat. She slowly picked it up, and slipped it on over her pajamas. She scowled at her reflection, trying to look tough.

"Glory, what are you doing?" Callie asked with a sleepy laugh.

Glory whipped around and froze like a deer caught in headlights. "Umm..."

"It's okay," Callie said, laughing again.

Glory took the jacket off. "I was just trying it on," she explained. "I figure maybe it's time for a change."

Callie sensed what that meant, and she crossed her arms in front of her. "Glory," she said warningly, "you are a wonderful person and if J.T. doesn't see it it's his problem."

"Right," Glory agreed monotonously, sounding anything but convinced. "So, what are you doing today?"

Callie's smile immediately faded. "I guess I have to go tell everyone about moving."

"Namely Jimmy," Glory concluded knowingly.

Callie nodded. "Right. I don't know how he's going to take it."

Concern crossed Glory's face. "Look, I've known Jimmy nearly all my life, and I've never seen him like this. You know," she smiled, "head over heels."

"Really?" Callie asked with a grin. Then she frowned. "This isn't going to be easy."

"Are you going to stay together?" she asked carefully.

Callie sat silently for a moment, pondering the question. "I want to," she began. "But I don't know. It would be so hard being that far away... First I think I have to tell him about moving, and then I'll think about all of this."

Glory nodded in agreement. Callie gathered her things to go into the shower. "Good luck!" Glory told her.

Callie nodded glumly and crossed her fingers. "Expect the worst, hope for the best," she muttered.

Sydney sat at her vanity table, mindlessly brushing her hair. Last night was so weird. She had really given it to Garrett, but Callie made her feel so guilty. And then Garrett had been angry about what she had done, but nowhere near as mad as she had imagined he would be.

"I had to do it," she reasoned with herself. "I mean, he didn't believe a word I said about our parents, and I had to let him know he can't push me around like that. And if it gets him into a little trouble," she paused and smiled widely. "well that's just a shame isn't it?" She laughed heartily. But then she remembered asking him to team up with her. Of course he didn't get to answer her proposition because Mila had interrupted them.

She glanced out the window, and the Fabian shade pulled down in Glory's room caught her eye. "Well, Garrett, it's time to discover the truth," she declared, standing up and leaving the room. "Whether we like it or not."

"Mila? Mila, darling?" Countess Rosnovsky called, stepping off the elevator and entering Mila's bedroom.

Mila, who was standing out on her balcony came into the room. "Yes, Mama?"

The countess instructed Mila to sit down. "Dear, I heard all about getting a shot at a record deal after the concert last night," she began.

"Uh huh," Mila replied distractedly. She couldn't make herself seem happy when she was so depressed.

"And I also know you have a very good chance at being a cheerleader this year," Countess Rosnovsky continued.

"Maybe." Mila shrugged.

"Don't you think you have a little too much on your plate?" she asked gently.

"What do you mean?" Mila said, confused.

Countess Rosnovsky stood up, and turned away from her daughter. "Well, I got a call from your science teacher, Mr. Callahan."

Mila got up and faced her mother. "Really?"

"Yes, he says you haven't been concentrating much in class," she explained.

"Oh," Mila responded. "Well, I mean, chemistry is really confusing and-"

"I know you're not used to the routine of the public school system, but if you would just put as much effort into your studies as your other activities I would be very proud of you, my Angel."

Mila smiled. "I'll try harder, Mama," she agreed. After the hectic and confusing night she had had, she was in no mood to argue.

Countess Rosnovsky hugged her. "You're such a wonderful young lady."

"Thanks," Mila replied, grabbing her pink book bag off the floor. "I guess I'll go study in the library," she told her mother, heading into the elevator.

"Okay! Have fun!" The countess called after her as the elevator door closed.

Neil and J.T. burst out of the courtroom, as their trial had just ended.

"Can you believe this? I mean, is this exciting or what?" Neil blubbered. He continued before J.T. could answer him. "I knew as soon as they saw our discovery we'd be free."

J.T. gave Neil a look. "You did not! You were the one who was convinced we were going to go to jail."

Neil laughed good naturedly. "All right, Bucky Ball," he agreed. Then he continued to excitedly rehash what the court had decided. "Six hours of community service!" he exclaimed. "I mean, how easy is that? But the best part is we don't have to put UB2B to rest!"

"Right. We have 'the privilege of working with a team of physicists at the University of Maine in Orono'," J.T. quoted the judge, imitating his voice.

"I know, isn't it great?"

J.T. scoffed. "Sharing our project with a bunch of grownies is great?"

Neil ignored him. They stepped outside and he gulped in a breath of fresh air. "Ah, smell that O-2! Isn't it wonderful to be alive?"

"Yeah, wonderful," J.T. responded sarcastically.

"Is something wrong?" Neil asked.

"Oh, just about everything. Glory hates me know," he explained, profoundly aware of the emptiness he was feeling inside.

"Well, look on the bright side. Now you can use all that extra hard drive space to concentrate on UB2B," Neil quipped. J.T. was not amused. "So, you wanna come with me?"

"Where are you going?" he asked distractedly.

"Hello? Anyone home?" Neil teased him. "I'm going to Orono. To the U to work on UB2B."


"Well, of course now! It's been at least a week since we've worked on it. The hormones in my body are going through withdrawal."

An image of Glory flashed in J.T.'s mind. "Yeah. Me, too."

"So are you coming?"

J.T. shook his head. "Nah, I-I've got some studying to do."


"Studying, thinking, moping. It's all the same," he remarked glumly.

"Well, I am off," Neil told him, hopping on his mini bike. "Page me if you need me!" He high fived J.T. happily, and started his engine. As Neil sped off, J.T. sighed. He walked away from the courthouse, not at all aware of where he was going.

I guess we need to talk, don't we?" Sydney said, peering through the hole in the wall at Garrett.

"Yes, we do. We need to discuss your proposition to team up," he told her.

She could tell from the tone of his voice that he thought she was just dying to work with him. "Look Garrett, I don't like this anymore than you do-"

"I agree," he replied shortly.

"Agree to what?" Sydney asked carefully.

"Your plan. I mean, we both know our parents aren't going to tell us the truth-"

"You're right about that," she interrupted.

Garrett scowled at her. "So," he continued. "Where do we begin?"

"First we have to promise not to tell a soul we might be brother and sister." Sydney held her hand out on his side of the wall.

Garrett shook it. "Agreed."

"And I mean no one," she emphasized.

"Okay, okay!"

The two began to talk strategy, while a woman in the bushes let out a silent sigh of awe. "What a story!" she breathed as she began to make notes on her pad.

Callie cut her engine and coasted up to the Tool n' Die. She needed to prep herself before she told Jimmy that she was moving away. She got off her mini-bike and leaned against the wall, trying to come up with a way to break the news to him, when she heard voices from inside the shop. Female voices. Feeling curious, she peered in through the door which was opened a crack.

Inside the Tool n’ Die, Callie could see a petite blond girl in a short skirt, and an equally stylish brunette. They were hovering near the counter where Jimmy was filling out a work order.

"So, we hear you're the manager of this place," the blond said.

Jimmy looked up from his notepad and smiled politely. The blond ran the tips of her fingers up his lower arm, and Jimmy lightly pushed her hand away, trying to remain cordial. He didn't want to give the girls any wrong ideas. In the back of his mind, he was wondering where Callie was this morning. "Yep, I'm the manager."

"That must be so exciting," the brunette breathed.

He nodded. "I guess so," he replied shortly, ripping a receipt off the pad and handing it to her. "You can pick up your dad's bike on Monday."

"That soon?" the blond girl gushed. "Why, you're such a dear Jimmy!" she exclaimed flirtatously.

"If there are any problems, don't hesitate to call," the brown haired girl told him seductively.

"Will do," Jimmy responded. Callie heard the shuffling of feet inside, and quickly hid around the corner of the shop. She listened to the girls giggle as they walked away. She took a few deep breaths, trying to interpret what she had just witnessed.

They were flirting with him! Callie thought to herself. Then she came to a startling realization. When I go away this will keep happening, and they'll be here in the flesh while I'll just be a voice on the telephone. Jimmy's going to lose interest, and I don't want to trap him into a commitment when he's not interested anymore. Not to mention the fact that it would kill me if he stopped caring about me while I still care about him... a lot. Tears sprung to her eyes. I have to break up with him.

Mila sat at a desk in the library, tapping her pencil against her notebook. It was far too quiet. She checked the clock, which read noon. She still had two hours before she had to meet Sandy and Owen in the studio.

She lowered her head and tried to make sense of the atomic formulas swimming on the paper.

"It's no use!" she exclaimed in a loud whisper, ripping out a page in her notebook and crumpling it up.

"Hey!" spoke up a surprised voice after she threw the paper ball across the table.

Mila looked up, and saw J.T. grinning at her. "J.T., hi," she greeted him, sounding casual, but was surprised that her heart rate was going up.

"Hi Mila." He picked up the wad of paper. "Fighting with your homework?"

She laughed shyly. "Sort of. I just don't get it."

J.T. unfolded the piece of paper, examining her precise handwriting. "Chemistry?" Mila nodded. "Well, that's a piece of cake."

Her eyes lit up. "Really? You'll help me?"

He had already begun highlighting her notes. "Sure, no problem."

Without thinking, Mila impulsively threw her arms around J.T. and thanked him with a big hug. As soon as she realized what she was doing she immediately let go, and blushed furiously.

J.T. face reddened as well and he continued to work, afraid to meet her eyes.

Garrett held the door open for Sydney. The two entered the library.

"I can't believe it's Saturday afternoon and I'm spending it with you in the library," Sydney complained.

"The feeling's mutual Sydney, my dear," he responded with false sweetness.

The two headed up to the counter. Mr. Han, the librarian, wasn't behind the desk. Sydney pressed her palm against the bell sitting on the counter. "Hello? What does it take to get some service around here?" she asked loudly.

"Shh!" Garrett exclaimed, removing her hand from the bell. "This is a library!"

Mr. Han came out of the backroom, and smiled at the teens. "Can I help you?"

"I need microfiche from the Swans Crossing Gazzette for the years 1977 and 1978," Sydney demanded tersely.

"Okay, do you know how to use the machine?" Mr. Han asked.

Garrett opened his mouth to speak, but Sydney quickly answered, "Of course" for both of them.

Mr. Han returned to the backroom to retrieve the microfiche.

"What did you do that for?" Garrett hissed.

Sydney rolled her eyes. "Do you want the librarian to be reading over our shoulder?"

Garrett was silent in reply. She was right. Mr. Han handed them the rolls of micro film and led them to a small room where the machine was kept.

Garrett flicked on the lights while Sydney began to try and load the film into the machine. Garrett looked out the window at the others in the library. His jaw dropped.

"What's the matter, Garrett? See your reflection in the glass?" she teased.

"Look at this," he growled. Sydney joined him at the window.

Her eyebrows raised. She saw J.T. sitting at a table with Mila, their heads bent together over a pile of paper and science books. Every now and again, they would laugh at something, as if they were sharing a private joke.

"They look cozy," Sydney commented off handedly. She saw anger flash in Garrett's eyes. "But I'm sure they're not. I mean, Mila's with you and J.T. and Glory are together."

Garrett shook his head. "Not after last night. J.T. dumped Glory and Mila..." his voice trailed off. He had far too much pride to admit to Sydney he had been dumped as well.

"Wow," Sydney remarked. "I really have been out of the loop."

As Garrett turned away from the window, she could see real hurt in his eyes. He sat down, moving like he had been defeated. "Garrett-" Sydney began quietly.

He quickly cut her off. "Let's just figure out how this thing works."

Callie leaned up against the wall of the Tool n’ Die, trying to figure out what to do about telling Jimmy her big news.

I can't lay this all on him at once, she told herself. I have to start by telling him I'm moving, and then break up with him. She wiped the tears from her eyes, took a deep breath, and entered the Tool n' Die.

Jimmy heard her, and looked up from the motorcycle the two girls had dropped off. He immediately felt excited just seeing her face. Their relationship still had that "new" feeling to him. "Hey, Walker Woman," he greeted her warmly, an involuntary smile spreading across his face.

Callie suddenly felt dizzy, and quickly found her way to a chair.

"Are you okay?" he asked with concern.

She shook her head. "We have to talk," she murmured, wishing the room would stop spinning.

"Oh, okay," he said slowly, sensing that what she had to say was bad news.

Callie drew in a deep breath. She didn’t want to step around what she needed to tell him, so she decided to just give him the news, straight. "Jimmy... I'm moving."

Garrett ran his hands through his hair anxiously as he hovered over Sydney.

"I told you I saw this!" Sydney said, pointing out the announce- ment of their parents’ engagement.

"'August, 1977'," Garrett read. "How many months is that before you were born?"

"Well, I was born March 13, 1978." She counted off on her fingers. "That's 10 months after this announcement!" she exclaimed.

His eyes widened. "So there is definitely a chance that you could be my sister."

"Don't say that!" Sydney demanded.

"Well, this was a bust. You proved to me our parents were engaged. But it doesn't prove anything else." Garrett sighed. "There must be something your mother's not telling you."

Suddenly, Sydney looked up, a dazed expression on her face. Her mind flashed back to a conversation she had had with her mother a few weeks earlier.

Sydney and Ralph had been asked to help sort through the Rutledges' messy living room to find a keepsake box of the Mayor. It held a small, crystal swan. But when Mayor Rutledge returned home after work, it was still no where to be found.

Sydney asked her mother why she was so intent on finding the box.

"Mother, this isn't like you to fixate on objects," Sydney said quietly. "I remember when you lost Aunt Peneirsha's heirloom bracelet. You didn't dwell on it, not for a minute."

"Well there are," she paused. "There are some things you don't know."

"Like what?"

Mayor Rutledge sighed. "Just see me through this election campaign successfully, all right?"

"Of course," she reassured her mother.

"Then I'll tell you all about it."

Sydney twirled a strand of her brown hair around her finger. There was something so strange and mysterious about the way her mother placed such importance on finding the crystal swan. Maybe it held some answers to their questions...

"Sydney?" Garrett asked, looking strangely at her dazed expression.

"The swan!" she cried suddenly.


"My mother had a crystal swan in a box. I have a feeling it might have something to do with all of this!" She flipped off the microfilm machine and grabbed Garrett’s arm.

"Where are we going?"

Sydney gave him a determined smile. "Come on Garrett, we're going to my house!"

Jimmy stared blankly at Callie. At first, he thought she might've just been joking, but the sullen expression on her face told him she was dead serious. Jimmy felt like he had been punched in the stomach. All morning he had watched the door to the Tool n’ Die, waiting for Callie to walk through it, and now, when she did, she had news like this?

"You're moving?" he repeated, although his head was ringing so loudly, he could barely hear his own voice.

"Yes," she answered softly. "My dad told me last night. We're moving to Brazil."

Jimmy blinked a few times, in hopes that maybe he would awaken from this strange nightmare. "Brazil?" he managed to choke out. He couldn't believe that last night things had been so perfect between them, and now, just when everything was working out, she was leaving him. "When?"

Callie didn't answer right away. She stood up, and crossed the shop to stand next to him. She placed her hand over his in an effort to comfort him. "In four days."

Four days! he thought, unable to believe his ears. A feeling of shock and dismay instantly gripped him. He quickly pulled his hand out from under Callie's and hurriedly gathered his jacket and motorcycle helmet. Callie stared at him, hurt gleaming in her eyes.

"Jimmy," she called after him. "Where are you going?"

"Riding," he mumbled. He tore away from the garage, desperately trying to leave his problems behind.

"We're never going to find it!" Garrett said, his voice muffled because his head was stuck in a box.

"Just keep looking," Sydney commanded. The doorbell rang, and since it was Ralph's day off, she rose to answer it. "Stay here," she told Garrett. "If it's one of Mother's friends, be prepared to go out the window."

Garrett cocked an eyebrow in surprise.

Sydney walked into the foyer and pulled the heavy oak door open.

As soon as she had answered the door, a woman shoved a microphone in her face. "Miss Rutledge, what do you have to say about the rumor that your mother and her opponent, Grant Booth, had romantic relations?"

Sydney grasped the doorway, trying to balance herself. "What?"

"Are you and Garrett Booth really brother and sister?"

"How did you hear about this?" she asked shrilly.

The reporter ignored her. "Answer the question please."

"No comment!" Sydney yelled, and slammed the door in the woman's face.

"Who was it?" Garrett asked, meeting her in the hall.

Sydney squeezed her eyes shut, trying to dam the river of tears threatening to spill over. "I think we have a problem."

Chapter Fourteen

Garrett joined Sydney in the foyer of her mansion. "What's wrong?" he asked, noticing her distraught expression.

Sydney slumped down on the floor against the wall, chewing on her bottom lip. She couldn't look him in the face, for fear that she might burst into tears. "There was a reporter here," she whispered.

Garrett sat down next to her, an uneasy feeling in his stomach. "What did they want?" But he didn't really have to ask. The sullen look on Sydney’s face clued him in on exactly what was wrong.

"They know."

Jimmy drove for a long time, aimlessly. He was lucky he had lived in Swans Crossing for so long and knew the roads so well. His mind was far from paying attention to his surroundings. Why did she have to do this to me? he thought to himself, although he knew in the back of his mind that Callie’s moving away wasn't her fault.

Jimmy took another turn, at a high speed. Finally, he came to a park, where he stopped. He climbed off his bike, and sat down against a tree. All of a sudden, all the time he had spent with Callie went flashing before his eyes. When she had first moved to Swans Crossing there was an instant attraction between them. But Jimmy was sort of seeing Sophia, so that stood in their way. Then, after he and Sophia broke up, he and Callie couldn't stop arguing enough to admit that they liked each other. Finally, they admitted how they felt about each other and started going out, but tracking Barek began to get in the way. It wasn't up until last night that things seemed carefree and normal for the two of them. "And now this happens," he muttered out loud.

Jimmy pounded his fist into the ground in anger, which didn't serve much purpose except to hurt his hand. So, what are you going to do, Clayton? he asked himself. He thought of Callie once more and how great it was to be around her, like at the concert last night. The way they talked and laughed, the way her eyes sparkled while she teased him, and the way things felt between them. Jimmy always felt giddy and excited right before they went out because it was so new to him to care about someone the way he cared about Callie. He raked his fingers through his dark hair and sighed, remembering when he had kissed her for the first time at the Walker estate.

"I can't deal with this right now!" Jimmy exclaimed, grabbing his helmet and hopping on his bike, ready to continue his drive to nowhere.

"So where is she already?" Robert Clark asked Sandy and Owen.

Sandy tugged at her curly hair, still very nervous that she was at the studio with THE Robert Clark.

"She'll be here," Owen answered, twirling his drumsticks between his fingers. "I know she will."

At that moment Mila bounded in, her long blond hair bouncing perkily. "Hey, guys!" Then she noticed they had a visitor. "Uncle Bobby!"

The two embraced briefly. "So, what are you doing here?" she asked him.

"He's here to see us sing," Sandy answered, groaning inwardly. Mila was so forgetful sometimes.

"Oh, that's right! But I thought you saw us at the concert," Mila said, moving behind Owen's equipment to stand next to him as if she owned the place. Owen took no notice, as usual.

"Well, I did. And you guys were great," Mr. Clark told them.

Sandy beamed.

"I have been thinking that I'd like to make a recording of one of your songs, and then see if my friends down at WSCR, Swans Crossing Radio, would like to play it," Mr. Clark continued. Sandy's eyes widened. "Now I know that WSCR is a local market, but you gotta start somewhere. So, what do you say?"

Sandy opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.

"I think it sounds great, don't you?" Mila asked Owen and Sandy.

"Definitely," Owen replied coolly.

"It's more than great!" Sandy's breath was ragged. "A song of mine on the radio," she mumured dreamily.

"So, what song do you want to use, Uncle Bobby?" Mila asked.

The three teens looked at him, as he twirled his thumbs together. Sandy crossed her fingers in her pocket, hoping he wouldn't favor his niece and use one of her songs.

Meanwhile, Mila was doing the same thing, hoping that her uncle would pick one of her songs.

Mr. Clark tapped his finger against his cheek in thought. "Well...."

"Oh no," Garrett muttered.

Sydney looked up at him, her eyes full of fear and panic. "What are we going to do?" she gasped. Her glance moved towards the clock, which read four thirty. If they didn't hurry, their parents were going to see this on the six o' clock news instead of hearing it first hand from their children.

"Well, the jig is up," Garrett said, standing up. He grabbed his coat off the couch and opened the door. "I guess we have to go tell my dad, right away."

"Why?" Sydney asked in a shaky voice.

"Because we have to find out once and for all if you and I are related," he announced. Sydney nodded silently and the two headed out the door to the Booth house.

Jimmy looked up at the sky. He noticed that there were gray clouds gathering, a sure sign that it would rain soon. Immediately, he felt depressed again. Looking at the clouds reminded him of Callie. One of the first special moments they shared together was when they were staring up at the clouds and just talking one summer day.

Jimmy continued driving along the road, his head spinning. He was worried about what was going to happen between them, and he was upset that she would be leaving so soon. I haven't had any time to think about this, he thought, wishing Captain Walker would delay the move by a few days so it all could sink in. Not that it would do much good. She's still leaving, he realized bitterly. He wished he could go by the Tool n' Die, where he always went when he had a problem. Somehow, when he was fixing engines all of his problems seemed to disappear, at least temporarily. But she's probably still there, he thought, upset that he couldn't go over to the shop just yet, but also a little comforted that Callie was there if he was ready to face this. Which I'm not, he told himself wryly.

Instead of the Tool n' Die, Jimmy found himself on the driveway of the DeCastros’. He dismounted his bike, and walked up to the door and rang the bell. Saja usually has the answers, he mused. The door creaked open and Saja answered.

"Well, hello there," he greeted Jimmy, bowing his head. "And what brings you to my humble abode?" Saja stepped away from the door and let him inside.

They sat down on the sofa. Jimmy wasn't sure where to start. "Well... have you heard about Callie?"

Saja shook his head. "No, what about her?"

For a moment, Jimmy thought that maybe he shouldn't say anything to Saja. After all, he and Callie were good friends, and maybe she wanted to tell Saja herself. But he needed to talk to someone, so that part of his rationale was pushed to the back of his mind. "She's moving, Saja," Jimmy told him softly, his mouth set in a straight line.

"What?" Saja exclaimed incredulously, his brown eyes widening. "Where, why?"

"Brazil," he replied.

Saja gulped. "You have to be kidding. She couldn't... well, I mean, that's so far and... wow," he remarked in a low voice. "I guess I never thought she'd leave."

Jimmy nodded. "I know what you mean. I know that she and Captain Walker have moved around a lot, but I just never imagined the next stop would be so soon." He could feel a lump rising in his throat.

"I wonder why she didn't tell me," Saja said, feeling hurt. Jimmy was able to tell what he was thinking right away.

"Look, I just found out about thirty minutes ago, and you know..." his voice trailed off. He didn't really know what he was talking about. "I'm sure she’ll tell you herself by the end of the day or something," Jimmy assured him.

"Right," Saja responded quietly. "This is really awful. I'm going to miss her."

Jimmy suddenly became defensive. "And I'm not?"

He put his hands up in surrender. "Hey, I never said you weren't."

"I know, I'm sorry," he apologized. His nerves were shot, and he was just so confused and upset by what was going that he was snapping at Saja, who really had nothing to do with it. "I just don't know what to do. I mean, I-" Jimmy wanted to tell Saja that Callie was one of the few people he could talk to; the one girl in Swans Crossing he had really come to know; that he liked her more than he had ever liked anyone before in his life; and that he didn't want to be alone... but those words just wouldn't come out. Jimmy always had a hard time talking about his feelings. But Saja was a perceptive person, and could read into his friend’s expression.

"I know," Saja said. "I know that she means a lot to you. She does to me, too."

"So, what am I going to do?" Jimmy asked, his voice desperate.

"What do you mean what are you going to do? What is there to do?"

He shrugged. "I wish there was some way to keep her in town."

"You know there isn't. Once the Captain's set on something..."

"I know," he admitted. He knew deep down there was nothing he could do, but he didn't know how else to handle the situation.

"You just have to be supportive, and maybe she'll come and visit us on holidays," Saja told him, trying hard to be optimistic.

"A lot of good that does me," Jimmy remarked with a scowl.

"Do you want to stay together?" Saja asked.

Jimmy was silent for a moment. Then he answered resolutely, "Yeah, of course I do."

"Glory, you know Jimmy and I can't stay together," Callie told her. The two of them were spending the afternoon hanging out in Glory's room.

"You can't?" Glory asked, her eyes not moving from the fashion magazine she was leafing through.

"A couple of girls were at the Tool n' Die today, and they were flirting with him," she explained.

Glory looked up. "So?"

Callie knew in her heart why she couldn't tie Jimmy down when she was thousands of miles away, but it would be hard to explain it to Glory. "Never mind," she replied. "Let's just say Jimmy didn't take the news very well."

"Things will work out for the best, I promise," Glory assured her.

She smiled weakly in response. "They always do... right?"

Glory thought of J.T. "Well, not always," she said sadly.

Callie sat down on the bed next to Glory. "What are looking at there?" she asked, wanting anything to take her mind off of moving and Jimmy.

Glory pointed to a photo in the magazine. "What do you think of that haircut?"

Callie shrugged. She studied the picture of a girl with chin- length, layered hair. "It's cute, why?"

"Should I cut my hair like that?" she said slowly.

Callie looked from the magazine to Glory's long, thick, red hair. "Cut your hair? Are you crazy?"

Glory looked away. "I guess I just want J.T. to notice me again." Her voice was sad and distant.

"Oh, Glory," Callie sighed. "You don't need to change the way you look. Didn't we have this conversation this morning?"

Glory nodded. "Yeah." There were now tears in her eyes. "I can't believe you're moving," she paused for a moment. "I've always felt that you and I were sort of like sisters."

Callie quickly looked away, hoping Glory wouldn't notice that she was now busily examining the ends of her hair.

"How am I going to go through all this without you?" Glory wondered miserably.

"What is this all about?" Grant Booth asked in an almost frightened tone of voice as he stepped out on the porch. Sydney and Garrett stood side by side, both wearing serious looks on their faces.

"Dad, remember what we talked about the other night?" Garrett began.

Mr. Booth shook his head. "That is a preposterous accusation, and I will take no part in it," he stated firmly.

"You have no choice Dad. The press knows."

Sydney watched as Mr. Booth’s face grew red with rage. "What?! How could you let this happen?" he bellowed, pounding his fist into the siding on the house. "Do you realize how detrimental this is going to be to the campaign?"

Garrett lowered his eyes. "You've kept us in the dark long enough, and we need to find out the truth."

Mr. Booth was silent in reply.

Sydney cleared her throat. "Mr. Booth? I- I- um, I think we should go to the Planned Parenthood clinic downtown," she said, her voice quiet and unsure.

"Oh, you do?" he challenged.

"They will do a paternity test for a small fee, and then we'll all know. One way or the other," she muttered.

Mr. Booth sighed in defeat. "Well, what choice to I have? I guess I have to."

"Maybe we ought to go down to Mayor Rutledge's office and let her know what's going on, too," Garrett suggested. Mr. Booth opened his mouth to protest, but he knew Garrett was right. The three of them left the porch, and began a silent journey to find Mayor Rutledge.

"I think we need something upbeat, with a good message. Something that we can get the people of this town to sing along with," Mr. Clark explained.

Sandy and Mila leaned forward eagerly. "And?" they asked in unison.

"And I think I would like to get a copy of ‘I'll Hold You Up’ to give the folks over at WSCR," he said.

Sandy felt like jumping up and down. He picked my song! she thought to herself, feeling giddy and happy. However, she knew she needed to appear professional, and besides, she didn't want to gloat and make Mila feel bad. So instead of exclaiming joyfully, she put out her hand to shake Mr. Clark's. "Thank you very much Mr. Clark. We'll get right to that."

"You're welcome," he replied, sitting back down in his chair. Mila, who seemed a tad disappointed, went behind Owen's keyboard, and the three began recording their song. For once, Sandy thought to herself as she crooned out the words to her song, I have something that Mila Rosnovsky does not!

Nancy stood in the tack room, glad that it was getting cooler in Swans Crossing. It was always so hot and uncomfortable at the stables during the summer, but as soon as autumn arrived, it was her favorite place to be. She ran her brush over her chocolate-colored horse, Spice. He looked very content and tranquil as she groomed him.

She suddenly wondered where Sydney was, although it was futile since she never bothered to show up at riding class anymore. Actually, it was good that Sydney didn't come to many classes or meets because it put the spotlight on Nancy, for once. Maybe now she had a chance to win a blue ribbon, the ones that Sydney had all over her room.

Nancy continued to groom her horse, humming softly to herself. Just then, she heard footsteps outside the tack room. She looked up, and saw dusty cowboy boots, and a young man wearing them.

"Hello," he greeted her with a smile.

Nancy smiled suspiciously in return. "Um, hi." She had never seen this person around before, and was wondering why he was wearing Western riding clothes when this was an English riding class. She didn't think it took much to ride Western style because there weren't many equestrian sports that went along with Western riding. And apparently this rider has no clue where he is, she thought haughtily.

"Could you tell me where I can go for a ride?" he asked, still smiling. In the back of her mind Nancy wondered why he was smiling so much. The guys in her crowd never smiled at her.

"Well, do you have a horse?" she questioned him.

"No, I-" he began, but she interrupted him with a cutting laugh.

"Well you can't ride around here without a horse. What do you think this is, a dude ranch?"

He looked down at his shoes sheepishly. "Never mind. Thank you, Miss," the boy said. He sauntered away from the tack room entrance, before Nancy even had a chance to ask his name.

"Mother?" Sydney called in a quiet, almost inaudible voice. Mayor Rutledge was sitting at her desk, chatting on the telephone.

"One moment, Sydney," she said, holding out her hand, signaling for her daughter to wait a minute. She turned back to her phone call. "Well, yes, I know that there are only two more days until the election. The polls are close," she paused, and Sydney studied her feet. "Well, I know that Sydney's little publicity stunt upped the polls a tad... but it most certainly was not intentional," she gave Sydney a cross look. "But, I think that in the end the people will make the right choice." There was another lengthy pause, each second seemed agonizingly long to Sydney.

Get off the phone! she thought to herself anxiously.

"Thanks for the update Jerry, we'll talk tomorrow. Good-bye," Mayor Rutledge set the phone in the cradle. "Now what was it you wanted to talk about?"

Neil marveled at the sights before him as he stepped into the laboratory at Orono University. He had never really been inside a real research lab, or at least anything other than his father's cosmetics lab and the chemistry lab at school. But this was what he had always dreamed of. There were many people in the building, all working hard on something, over colorful test tubes and impressive lab equipment.

A man approached him, wearing a white lab coat that was stained and worn. He had graying hair, and looked like he was in his mid-forties or so.

He stuck out his hand, and shook Neil's heartily. "Well, you must be Neil Atwater."

"Yes, sir," Neil responded.

"I am Jake Simmons and I am in charge of the lab here at the U. I understand you and your friend have hit upon a real discovery in Swans Crossing a week ago."

"Yes, Mr. Simmons."

The man guffawed. "It caused a lot of scandal over there in Swans Crossing. I watched it in the news for awhile. I have a niece who lives there," he cleared his throat. "Anyhow, everything for the further development of UB2B is at the table over there, and you can get right to work. I trust you know about basic lab procedures?"

Neil nodded enthusiastically. "Yup!" he replied in a happy voice. "I'll get right to that."

Mr. Simmons turned to leave, but then looked back at Neil. "Oh, and see that girl over there?"

Neil nodded.

"That's Carolyn Smith. She's your new lab partner."

Sydney took a deep breath and began. "Mother, I- we- Garrett and I..."

"Garrett? Sydney, I thought I told you to stay away from him," Mayor Rutledge said sternly. Sydney interrupted her.

"No, listen. We discovered that there is a possibility that he and I," she couldn't even say the words. "that you and Garrett's father... Mother, I need you to tell me the truth." Sydney was shocked that she wasn't crying. I guess I've cried so much since I discovered this, that there aren't any tears left.

Mayor Rutledge covered her mouth with her hands. "Oh, my," she gasped.

"Please, Mother," Sydney pleaded desperately.

"Fifteen years, and you never knew. How did you find this out?" she asked, her eyes full of tears.

"I found a letter from Mr. Booth. And then I saw an old article in the paper stating that you two were engaged to be married. I put two and two together, and..."

Mr. Booth and Garrett appeared in the doorway. "They deserve to be a part of this, too," Sydney told her mother bravely. Mayor Rutledge didn't object.

"So will you tell us the truth?" Sydney asked. "Both of you?"

The mayor and Mr. Booth exchanged a look. Mayor Rutledge began to speak. "Well, Sydney, it is true that Grant and I were," she paused, "together at one point in our lives. Our parents did not approve of us being together, so we snuck around for a long time."

Sydney's eyes widened. They went through it, too?

"Then we decided to confront our parents, and we got engaged," Mr. Booth supplied.

Mayor Rutledge cleared her throat. "But before that, Grant gave me a crystal swan instead of a wedding ring, so we could keep it a secret for a little while longer."

The keepsake box! Sydney thought to herself.

"We made an announcement in the paper, and our parents became very upset and forbade us to go through with it. So I ended things with Grant, and married John Patterson, a very wealthy lawyer that my parents approved of. I did it so impulsively, and then I found out I was pregnant," a few tears were now streaming down her face. "You later came prematurely..." she looked over at Mr. Booth. "Or not. We never really knew. Grant married Cornelia, and your father died soon after you were born. There was never any reason to tell you."

Sydney became enraged. "What?! Never any reason to say anything to me?" she shouted. "I have a pretty good reason, I dated Garrett, Mother. He and I went behind your backs, just like you and Mr. Booth did."

The mayor's jaw dropped, but words failed her.

Sydney continued. "And all this time, when he and I were... together," her voice broke. "we could have been related."

Garrett cleared his throat. "I think we need to go find out, once and for all."

A few moments later, the four headed over to the Planned Parenthood clinic in a more run-down area of Swans Crossing. None of them spoke on the way. Sydney and Garrett felt better knowing exactly how their parents’ affair had played out, but both were sick with anticipation. The question loomed in the air. Was Sydney Grant Booth’s daughter?

"I know you think it's wrong, but I am going to see what my mom can do with my hair," Glory said as she and Callie walked through the Swans Crossing Mall. "And maybe I need to buy some new clothes or something. Can I borrow your jacket tomorrow?"

Callie nodded absently. "Sure."

"I know this is probably really silly to you, but I just want J.T. to notice me again, but not as the way I was before, you know? I want him to see that I can't be pushed around, and that he can't be with me when he wants to, and then not other times," Glory tried to explain.

Callie smiled half-heartedly. "I understand," she replied quietly. "I guess there's a lot people will do for someone they like."

Glory nodded in agreement. "Yeah," she sighed. "There sure is."

The two stopped to look in the store windows.

"This is the last time I'll go through this mall," Callie suddenly declared. Then she thought about it for a moment. "Actually, this is the only time I've gone through the mall." She managed a small laugh.

"Swans Crossing isn't going to be the same without you, you know," Glory told her, stopping to tie her shoe.

Callie knelt down beside her. "Thanks." She spotted a pay phone, and got an idea. "Glory, hang on a second, I'm going to call Jimmy." She walked over to the phone and inserted a quarter. She dialed his number and let it ring. The answering machine picked up, and she heard Mr. Clayton's voice.

After the beep she started to talk. "Hey, Jimmy, this is Callie. I just wanted to talk to you," she paused, hoping maybe he'd pick up the phone. "I'll be at Glory's in an hour or so. Call me there," she stopped again. "Please," she added before she hung up the phone.

"I wonder if he's avoiding me," she muttered out loud.

I can't believe that Uncle Bobby chose to use one of Sandy's songs! I mean, he knows me better than her! Mila thought mournfully as she walked along the street. It seems like everything I do this week is wrong! She saw that she was approaching Swans Soda Shop, so she decided to go in and get a drink, anything to keep her mind off of singing, her science grade, or Garrett. She pushed open the doors, and wandered over to the counter.

"Hey Mila," Jazz greeted her cheerfully. "What do you need?"

Mila shrugged. "You wouldn't want to know," she replied.

"Yikes," Jazz said. "You look pretty down."

"As far down as you can get."

Jazz looked over to one of the tables in the corner, where J.T. sat, stirring his drink with a straw. "Looks like you're not the only one," she motioned to J.T. "Why don't you go join him? I hear that misery loves company."

Mila gave her a weak smile, and got up to sit next to J.T.

"Hi Mila," he said, not bothering to look up from his drink.

"So, what's got you depressed today?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing, everything, and all that's in between. What about you?"

"About the same. I mean, I just keep thinking about Garrett, and what he did to me, but how after all this, I just, I..." her voice trailed off.

J.T. nodded. "Yes! I mean, I feel the same way... about Glory."

"You'll work things out, I know it," she told him comfortingly.

He shook his head. "I don't know. I mean, I want so badly to just go over there and apologize and make it all better..." he sighed in exasperation. "but I know that it's impossible. She doesn't want to have anything to do with me."

"Well, she'd be crazy to give you up so fast," Mila commented.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you're a great guy. A true poetic soul," she said, putting emphasis on the word true. Her mind wandered back to thoughts of Garrett.

"That means a lot, you know. I just feel like things have been going so bad lately."

"You and me both," Mila replied. "I mean, it seems like there’s a black cloud over Swans Crossing."

J.T. laughed. "Yep, and you and me are right under it."

"Well, maybe we can try and get through this together," Mila suggested with a smile.

The small, local airport was pretty crowded for the weekend. A young man of no more than twenty-six shifted his carry-on bag, and surveyed what was going on. He noticed a newspaper stand, and inserted a quarter into the machine. He glanced at the headlines of the "Swans Crossing Gazette". On the front page there was an article about the inaugural concert, and there was a piece about Sydney Rutledge making a speech that was damaging to the Booth campaign. It went on to describe how Garrett Booth had been blackmailing her by making her think that she was switched at birth with Sandy Swan.

The young man raked his fingers through his dirty blond hair and sighed. Things never change.

Sydney, Garrett, Mr. Booth, and Mayor Rutledge all sat in the small, cramped waiting room. The four could see that the press was circling outside, waiting for the two opponents to walk out of the building, but no one wanted to address their presence.

A few moments before, Sydney and Mr. Booth had gone into the office, and a doctor had taken a cell sample from their mouths with an instrument similar to a cotton swab. Then it went to the lab a few doors down to be tested. The doctor had not yet returned.

"I can't stand this," Garrett said, nervously jiggling his legs.

"You?" Sydney asked pointedly. Your whole life comes down to this one moment, Sydney Orion Rutledge, she told herself. Are you a Rutledge... or a Booth?

A woman wearing a crisp, white coat appeared before them. They all stood up simultaneously. "Your test results are back..."

And a special thanks to Jamilla for a wonderful storyline idea in this chapter, which will be explained later on!

Chapter Fifteen

"Your test results are back," the doctor at the Planned Parenthood clinic announced. Sydney, Mayor Rutledge, Mr. Booth, and Garrett all stood up. There was a long pause, one that felt like years to Sydney.

"And?" Sydney prompted.

"The results are negative. Mr. Booth and Sydney's cells were not a match," the doctor explained.

A loud sigh of relief washed over the two families. Sydney flung herself into her mother's arms. "Finally," she whispered through happy tears. "I finally know who I am," she wiped at her cheeks with the back of her hand and smiled. "Sydney Orion Rutledge," she said proudly.

Mayor Rutledge and Mr. Booth went over to the window of the clinic, and saw that the press was circling out on the lawn. "This is just great," Mr. Booth muttered. "I mean, Sydney isn't my daughter, and everyone was overreacting, but now our campaigns are ruined!"

Sydney and Garrett exchanged a guilty look.

"Complaining isn't going to help anything, Grant. Let's just go out there and deal with it now instead of making them think that there really is a newsworthy scandal going on," Mayor Rutledge suggested. The two reluctantly exited the clinic to make a statement.

Sydney sat back down in the uncomfortable chair, and grabbed a fashion magazine. She was trying to avoid the now awaiting stare of Garrett Booth.

"So," Garrett began.

"Yes?" she replied, her heart rate quickening. Now that Sydney finally knew the truth, that she wasn't Garrett's sister, she had to face something else that was looming in the air... the two kisses they had shared the week before.

"I think we need to talk."

"Well, thanks for talking me through all this, Mila," J.T. said thankfully as he and Mila arrived on her door step.

"No problem," she replied with a bright smile. "You helped me a lot, too." She rested her hand on his shoulder for a moment, as a friendly gesture, but was surprised to feel a jolt of electricity. "I, um..." she stuttered, but for some reason she couldn't remove her hand. It was like it was glued to his shoulder.

"I really mean it," he continued, not moving her hand away from his shoulder. "I mean, what Glory and I are going through..." he stopped mid-sentence, and then smiled at Mila. "It's just really nice to be able to talk to someone about all this. I mean, Neil wouldn't even attempt to understand all this, and there's really no one else I can go to."

Mila was still lightly touching his shoulder. Just an innocent, friendly gesture, she told herself. "Well, if you need to talk again, I'm here."

J.T. politely stepped away. "Thanks again, Mila. I'll see you at school tomorrow."

Mila opened the front door, and stepped inside. "Good night," she said quietly.

"Good night."

"What?" Sydney asked, annoyance tracing into her voice.

"Well, it's over now," Garrett said softly.

"Is it ever over, Garrett?" she remarked, turning to look at him this time.

"What do you mean?" he asked, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion.

"You and me," Sydney answered. "This whole summer was a big game for us. We were always one-upping each other, trying to humiliate the other, and for what?" she looked him straight in the eye. "So, is this it? Is the game over?"

Garrett moved a millimeter or so closer to Sydney. She became acutely aware of his nearness, and she could feel his hot breath on the back of her neck. A blush crept across her cheeks when she realized that a familiar song was playing over the radio. It was "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears. She had been listening to it when she was preparing to go to the Newport game, where she was supposed to walk off the field with Garrett and show everyone how she felt about him. She had dozed off while she was getting ready, and had fantasized about how it would play out. In her fantasy, they had danced together, lost in each other's eyes. She hadn't been able to listen to that song ever since.

"It doesn't have to be, Sydney," Garrett whispered.

"What are you saying?" she asked, taking deep breaths to calm herself down.

"What do you want me to say?" Sydney wasn't sure, but she thought Garrett was leaning closer and closer to her.

"Anything you want," she challenged.

"I think that maybe the game should be over... but we can keep playing."

Sydney raised her eyebrows in reply. "Oh, really?" She didn't know what else to say. She desperately wanted to do something. All week she had been a basket case worrying about whether or not she and Garrett were related, and now that they weren't, she had the sudden urge to hug him, hold his hand, kiss him....

"Sydney, things got so messed up between us this whole summer," he said.

She lowered her eyes. "Is this your way of apologizing?" she asked. No matter what she was feeling right now, she was still hurt from the ruthless blackmailing he had put her through.

"You hurt me too, you know," Garrett told her softly.

She thought back to the night of the concert. "Yeah, which brings me back to my original statement. We've always been playing these stupid, childish games with each other. It's just not- not right. Not how I want things to be in my life."

Garrett was silent a moment. "You know, I remember on the night of the nudibranch benefit when I made you stay after, you admitted to me that you still liked me."

Sydney swallowed hard. Why does he always remember these things? she asked herself. "Nerves," she explained with a small laugh.

"I think it was more than that. You didn't protest when I kissed you after your ‘Good-bye to Summer’ party," he recalled. Sydney wasn’t positive, but she thought she detected a little bit of a crack in Garrett's normally self-assured voice.

"Well, you're the one who initiated it in the first place," Sydney pointed out.

"So, where does all this leave us? We no longer have our lineage hanging over our heads."

"Or the birth certificate," she added.

"So, things are working out?" he asked. He ran his fingers nervously through his light-brown hair.

Sydney tilted her head towards him, feeling her heart beating in her throat. "Yes," she answered with a laugh that came out involuntarily. "I guess things are working out." She closed her eyes, anticipating the moment she knew was about to occur, when their lips would meet in a kiss that was something they had never experienced, a kiss that had no ulterior motives behind it.

"I guess someday is here," Garrett murmured, remembering the time they had danced together at Mila's party....

Garrett and Sydney were slow-dancing on the platform at Swans Soda Shop, both lost in each other’s gazes. It seemed as if they were the only two people in the shop, and they were so in love. They moved in to kiss, but realized that they couldn't in public. Sydney looked up at Garrett.

"Someday," she said with a sad smile.

"Yeah," he agreed. "Someday."

Just as Sydney and Garrett were about to kiss, Mayor Rutledge and Mr. Booth came back into the clinic.

"No comment!" the mayor yelled, struggling to pull herself away from the mob.

"Mother!" Sydney exclaimed, opening her eyes and jumping to her feet. She felt her heart rate slowly returning to normal.

Mayor Rutledge grabbed Sydney's arm. "We need to leave before that crowd gets out of hand," she began to pull her daughter through the door. "Don't answer any questions." Sydney looked back at Garrett, trying to read his expression as the door swung shut on their moment.

On Monday morning at school, Sandy was standing at Saja's locker, going over every detail of the meeting she had had the other day with Robert Clark. Saja seemed genuinely interested, but a tad distracted. He was staring down the hallway.

"Saja?" she called, trying to get him to snap back to reality.

"Yeah?" he said, not turning his head.

"What are you looking at?" she asked.

"I guess I'm looking for Callie," he admitted.

Sandy lowered her eyes. "Callie?" she repeated in a small voice.

Saja noticed that she had a slightly jealous look on her face, one that made him feel almost good inside. "It's not what you think, Sandy," he assured her.

She smiled shyly. "What do you need to talk to her about?"

"She's moving."

Sandy's jaw dropped. "You're kidding!"

He shook his head. "No, unfortunately, I'm not. It appears as if the captain is ready to move on, and take a job offer in Brazil."

Sandy's eyes grew wide. "Brazil?"

Saja nodded. "She stopped by my house last night after Jimmy left."

"What was Jimmy doing there?"

"Oh, he was seeking advice on his love life," Saja sighed good-naturedly. "Ah... at times I feel as if I am ‘Bobby DeCastro, Matchmaker Extraordinare’, instead of ‘Saja, Lord of the Warriors’."

Sandy giggled. "Well, it's so awful that Callie has to move."

Saja's smile faded. "Yeah, it is."

Suddenly, Sandy had an idea. "Hey!" she exclaimed. "Why don't we throw a good-bye party for her?"

"A party?"

"Yeah!" she said, slamming her locker shut. "We can book the Swan Club, or Swans Soda Shop," she looked into the distance thoughtfully. "Or maybe we should have it at someone's house... Sydney's maybe," she turned to Saja. "What do you think?"

Saja shrugged. "Whatever."

"Don't you think it's a good idea?" Sandy asked in an unsure voice as the two began walking to Sandy's first period choir class.

He nodded. "I do, I guess I'm just not ready for this.... that's all."

"I understand. So, do you want to meet at lunch time to discuss the party plans?"

Saja smiled sincerely this time. "Sounds great."

Glory strolled down the hall, her head feeling much lighter. She patted her hair, which now rested on her shoulders rather than half-way down her back. Her mother, who worked at a department store cosmetics counter, and often colored people’s hair, helped her achieve the cut like the magazine picture. It was shoulder-length, and softly layered around her face. It looked good, and suited Glory. She was also dressed very differently, wearing the only black dress she owned, and Callie's suede jacket. To top the ensemble off, she had lathered her lips in a new shade she had picked up at the drugstore on the way to school: Crimson. People were staring at Glory’s new look, and she wore a pout as if this really bothered her, but inside she was loving the attention she was getting. The stares felt good; maybe if these people noticed, J.T. would notice, too.

"Glory?" Garrett asked, a surprised expression on his face. He had been so busy lately he hadn't even noticed what Glory had done.

"What?" Glory replied piercingly, turning around to face her brother.

He didn't answer at first because he was too busy staring at her short hair and red lips. "Um..."

"Look, I don't want to talk to you. You're a thief," she declared, her words as sharp as a knife. "And a liar."

"Liar?" he said, confused.

"Yes," she turned away from him. "I guess you didn't think I would find out about Dad and Mayor Rutledge and you and Sydney."

Garrett swallowed. "Oh, that."

"Yeah, that. Don't you think it would have been in my interest to know that there was a possibility that Sydney and I were sisters, too?" the words were hard for her to say. She had found out late at night, while watching the eleven o' clock news. She had cried, and went up to her parents room to yell at them. Her mother had curbed her anger, and the three of them talked everything through. Although it felt better, there was still so much that was hurting Glory.

As if Garrett was reading her thoughts, he responded by saying, "I didn't want to hurt you."

Glory gave him a glare. "It’s too late." She turned on her heels, and flounced down the hall, her short hair bouncing behind her.

"So, you see, I was in the tack room," Nancy told Sydney as they sat down in their chemistry class together. Sydney nodded, but didn't look up from the test tube full of a colorful liquid.

"And then this guy came in, out of nowhere. I had never seen him before. He was young, about our age," she smiled. "And good looking..."

"Uh huh," Sydney muttered, aimlessly dipping litmus paper in and out of the liquid. All she could think of was the night before in the doctor’s office, the music, and the way Garrett had leaned towards her and looked deeply into her eyes.

"I can see you're thrilled," Nancy commented sarcastically.

"Right," Sydney replied vaguely. What did it all mean? she thought to herself. Why did Garrett want to kiss me?

"So, anyhow, I have to go back today. I want to know who he was. Granted, I wasn't very nice to him or anything, but he's all I can think of lately, you know?"

This time Sydney turned to Nancy's conversation. "Yeah," she said, looking into the distance. "I know what you mean."

J.T. was busy working on a difficult calculus problem when Neil came into the classroom and sat in the empty desk next to him.

"What's up, Bucky Ball?" he asked.

J.T. shrugged. "Well, this function for one."

"Ah, forget functions. I have a much more interesting story for you."

"What's that?" he asked, still punching numbers into his calculator.

"Okay, I began working on UB2B at the University last night," Neil began.

"Mm-hmm," J.T. mumbled.

"And you and I are going to have to work on the project with another partner," he concluded, his expression glum.

"Really? Who?"

Neil wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Her name is Carolyn Smith."

J.T. became intrigued. "What is she like?"

Neil rolled his eyes. "Well... she's a girl. What else is there to say?"

J.T. chuckled and punched Neil playfully on the shoulder. "You never change Bucky Ball. Never change."

Callie was going through the lunch line, staring at her plate of rubbery-looking spaghetti. She almost felt like laughing. Even the richest schools in the country have gross cafeteria food, she thought to herself. But her smile quickly faded. I wonder what it's like in other countries. I guess I'll find out soon. She then wondered if she would even go to high school in Brazil. Over there, the seasons were different from those on the northern hemisphere, and she was in for another summer vacation, even though it would take place in December.

I won't get to have Christmas in Swans Crossing, she thought as soon as she visualized herself spending December on a beach in Rio De Janeiro. She had had many fantasies about Christmas time. She imagined attending the winter formal with Jimmy, drinking egg nog at the Booth's house, and maybe she and her father would have even gotten their first Christmas tree.

Tears were now forming in the corners of Callie’s eyes by the time she paid for her food. She pushed all those crazy fantasies out of her head as she made her way across the crowded cafeteria. Then she spotted Jimmy. She felt a combination of happiness and nervousness wash over her.

"Jimmy!" she called to him.

He looked up, and she felt instantly comforted looking into his warm green eyes.

"Hi," she said softly, approaching him. When she got closer she noticed his eyes were guarded.

"I can't talk right now, Callie," he told her abruptly, stepping away from her.

"Why not?" her voice wavered.

"Because, I..." he paused. The look on Jimmy’s face told Callie that he was searching for an excuse. "I told my teacher I would spend lunch in the library researching something. You know how it is."

No, I don't, she thought, but nodded in response. "Okay. See you later then?"

"Later," Jimmy replied. He bounded off, leaving her alone once again.

Garrett sat at a table with Owen, J.T. and Neil in the cafeteria. He wasn't listening to their conversation, though. These guys are such geeks! he thought to himself, wondering where Jimmy had gone off to. He had heard from his family that Callie was going to be moving, and he suspected that Jimmy was off moping about that. Too bad... I could really use some normal conversation, Garrett told himself as the conversation about megabytes and video games or something like that lilted over him.

His eyes scanned the cafeteria, and landed on Sydney's table. She sat with Nancy, Callie, Mila, and his sister who was wearing that ridiculous getup. If only I knew what they were talking about, he mused. I wonder if she's thinking about me... the way I'm thinking about her.

Sydney looked up, and saw that Garrett was staring at her. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then they both looked away... as quickly as possible.

"Okay, now we decided on having the party at Sydney's," Sandy announced, tapping her pencil against the pad of paper in front of her.

"That's if Sydney says it’s okay," Saja reminded her, taking a bite of his sandwich.

Sandy nodded, and turned up her portable radio.

"Can you have those at school?" Saja asked her as the music grew louder.

She laughed. "I don't know. But there's a chance that maybe our song will be on the radio today, and I have to hear it if it comes on."

Saja tapped his fingers on the table in beat with the music. "I'm sure Mr. Douglas will love that," he commented, speaking of their strict math teacher.

She laughed again. She has such a nice laugh, Saja thought to himself, but then tried to push that out of his mind. You don't know if she likes you any more than a friend, he reminded himself. But he had to admit, his chances were increasing.

"So, should it be a surprise party, or should we invite Callie ourselves?" Sandy asked, her pencil poised.

Saja snapped back to the task at hand. "Let's invite her. I think she's had enough surprises for one lifetime," he answered quickly.

"Okay then, now let's go and start inviting people," Sandy said. She made her way over to the girls’ table.

"Guys?" she called, waving over her shoulder to Saja who was heading over to the guys’ table.

"Sandy!" Nancy exclaimed in a sugary tone. "I see you and Saja were getting pretty cozy over there," she smiled, while Sandy gave her a look. She noticed Sandy was carrying a pad of paper. "What were you two working on? The guest list to the wedding?" Nancy laughed at her own joke.

"No," Sandy answered simply. "The guest list to a party."

"Oh, now I have heard everything." Nancy remarked, placing her hand over her heart in mock surprise. "Sandy Swan planning a party with her boyfriend. I must have entered the Twilight Zone."

Sandy scowled, but couldn't think of a comeback.

"So, what's the party for?" Mila asked, and as soon as she did, Sandy noticed that Glory was giving her a look that could kill.

"Well, it's a good-bye party," Sandy looked over at Callie. "For you."

All the heads at the table except for Glory's turned to stare at Callie. "You're moving?" they all chorused.

Callie looked incredibly uncomfortable, and Sandy immediately regretted handling the situation this way. In a quiet voice, Callie filled them in on the details. Then she turned to Sandy.

"How did you hear about this? Did Jimmy tell you?" she asked in a hopeful voice.

"Jimmy? No, Saja told me."

Callie's face fell. "That's what I thought."

Jimmy squinted his eyes at Saja, wondering if the current pounding in his head was what a migraine felt like. "A good-bye party?"

"Yeah, you know, to say farewell and all. Give her some presents, take a few pictures, make some memories," Saja explained sadly. "Look, I know it's going to be hard and everything, but you have to go."

"I have to?" he asked warily.

"You're her boyfriend. It wouldn't be much of a party for her if you're not there," he told him.

Jimmy thought about what Saja was saying. He hadn't been very nice to Callie since she had told him she was moving. He hadn't returned her calls, and when she stopped him in the cafeteria, he had totally blown her off. The fact remained that they had a relationship. Even though they had just started going out, he knew that that didn't mean when things got tough he could simply abandon ship. Still, he wasn't ready to deal with this right now. He didn't want to face the fact that she was going to be leaving him soon. At this moment, he couldn't face it. It hurt too much. But Jimmy hoped by the day of Callie’s party he would be able to talk to her about everything. "Yeah Saja, I'll be there."

Glory walked out of school that day feeling worn out. So much had happened, but the thing that would brighten her day wasn't around: J.T. My first school day without him is over, she thought to herself, figuring it could only get easier from here on.

A poster on the wall by the doors caught her eye. Of course! she realized. The cheerleading results!

Glory crossed her fingers, and glanced at the list. Her name was there! For the first time all day, her red lips curved into a wide smile. I made it! I’m going to be a Swans Crossing High cheerleader! Then her smile faded. She looked at the top of the list, and in bold-type it read, "Captain: Mila Rosnovsky".

"Sydney! Sydney I made it!" Mila called up the hall, in a screeching voice. "I'm the captain of the cheerleading squad, Sydney!" Sydney ran up to her friend.

"That is so great!" she cried, and the girls hugged. As soon as Sydney let go, Mila began jumping up and down.

"I can't believe I'm the captain! They hardly ever give the position of captain to an underclassman!" she shrieked.

Sydney laughed at her friend’s enthusiasm. "Well, congratulations darling," she said, and they hugged again. "But you better stop jumping up and down, or you're going to tire you're self out!" They dissolved into happy laughter.

Suddenly, Sandy came running up the hallway. "Mila!" she screamed. "Mila!"

"What is it, Sandy?" she asked in a calmer voice.

Sandy panted, and held her radio in front of her. "Our song! They're playing our song!" she turned the volume up, and Sandy's voice came through the speaker.

"Oh my god!" Mila exclaimed, nearly knocking Sandy over with a hug. "Our song! They're playing our song!"

Sydney laughed as the two took off running in search of Owen.

"Owen! Owen!" Sandy blared over the loud hall noises. "Our song! Our song is on the radio!"

Owen looked up from his locker. His eyes grew wide, and he joined the girls in jumping up and down enthusiastically.

"’You stood by me when I really needed someone, and now I'm here to stand by you, oh baby, I'll hold you up," Sandy's voice sang through the radio. The song ended, and then the announcer came on.

"That was Swans Crossing’s new group, ‘Inspiration’ there with their debut single "I'll Hold you Up,'" the voice said, and Sandy, Owen, and Mila began screaming again.

Garrett pulled his mini bike onto the porch, sighing with relief that his stressful school day was over. He removed his helmet, and did a double take when he noticed someone was standing on his porch. And this wasn't just anyone, it was someone Garrett had known all his life....


"Moving to Brazil" storyline (c) 1997 Miss Swan. And a special thanks to Jamilla for her idea, which is developed further in this chapter, and to Aliza for helping with Garrett and Sydney's flashback scene.

Chapter Sixteen

"Grant?" Garrett said, his jaw dropping. "W-what are you doing here?" he asked in a faltering voice.

Grant smiled widely, and tapped his little brother on the shoulder. "Well, I came to help out Dad on the campaign, and just to visit with the family," he explained.

"What about school?" Garrett asked, speaking of the prestigious private college Grant attended in Vermont.

"Well, I am doing great this semester, and I decided to take a week long vacation and see what's up in Swans Crossing," Grant smiled again, and Garrett couldn't help but wonder if his face ever got tired from smiling so much. "So how's life with you?"

Garrett shrugged. What could he say... that he had just lost his girlfriend, but wanted long-time rival Sydney to be his girlfriend instead? That he had destroyed his sister's relationship with her boyfriend? That he had made the family into a circus show for the press? "I'm okay," he answered simply.

"Well, good to hear it. So you decided to go to SCH instead of going off to France?"

Garrett thought of how that decision had come about, which seemed like ages ago. "Something like that." Grant lived a "perfect" life, and he wouldn't understand something as complicated as problems.

Grant appeared to be growing frustrated at the way Garrett was being so quiet, but he kept making attempts at conversation. "So where's Glory at today?"

Garrett remembered arguing with his sister in the hall, and seeing her in the weird outfit and shorter hair. "Who knows... maybe cheerleading?" Garrett responded.

At that moment, Glory and Callie came up to the porch. Glory's glum face suddenly became illuminated. "Grant!" she cried, flinging herself into her brother’s arms. "What are you doing here?"

Garrett rolled his eyes as Grant beamed at Glory. "I'm here to visit, little sis," he said with a smile. "You sure look grown up!" he exclaimed, examining her short black dress, red lipstick, and newly coifed hair.

Glory gave him a small smile.

"So how's high school treating you? Garrett tells me you're a cheerleader?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said flatly. She didn't want to talk about Mila being her captain. "Practice was rained out today, though," she told them, motioning to the heavy clouds and light drizzle.

Grant grinned again. "Well, I'm sure that the boys sure are enjoying having you at SCH," he remarked with a chuckle.

Glory quickly changed the subject. "Grant, this is my friend Callie Walker," she said, introducing Callie to her brother.

Grant and Callie shook hands. "Nice to meet you, Callie," he said politely.

"Nice to meet you, too," she replied.

"Callie's staying with us right now," Glory told him.

Grant nodded. "Looks like the Booth house is pretty full these days," he joked.

"Well, actually, I'm leaving tonight. I'm, uh, moving," Callie explained softly.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," he said. There was a long silence, which Garrett found comforting. At least he's being quiet for one second! he thought exasperatedly.

"Glor, I would love to have some of your ‘Glorious Lemonade,'" Grant told his sister, giving her his trademark grin.

Glory nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah! I'll go make us some." She and Callie retreated into the house.

"Well, your brother sure seems nice," Callie commented once they were inside.

Glory nodded, and began fishing lemons out of the fridge. "Yeah, Grant and I were pretty close."

"How old is he?" she asked, helping Glory gather up the ingredients.

"Twenty," she replied. "He just started his sophomore year of college in Vermont," she told Callie.

Callie glanced at the clock. It was nearing four in the afternoon. "Why do you suppose Jimmy hasn't called or seen me yet?" she asked, looking pensively into the distance.

Glory, who was squeezing the lemons, looked at Callie compassionately. "I'm sure everything will be okay."

Time is running out, Callie thought to herself. "I guess I'll go call him, then," she said, and trotted upstairs to use the phone in Glory's room for some privacy. She picked up the phone, and dialed the Clayton’s number.

"Hello?" Mr. Clayton answered.

"Hi Mr. Clayton, this is Callie. Is Jimmy there?" she asked, nervously twisting the phone cord around her finger.

"No, he called from school and told me that he was going to be staying after for a few hours," Mr. Clayton told her.

Callie fought back the urge to scream in frustration and thanked him. She hung up the phone and sighed.

"So, we're going to need the basics- cups, plates, chips, soda, pizza," Mila said, jotting things down on her notepad. "and Owen said he can bring CD's and play DJ for the night."

"How juvenile," Sydney muttered, sating out her window, watching the rain.

"You don't want Owen to DJ?" Mila asked.

"Whatever," she responded distantly.

"Okay, now for the guest list. We have to invite all of Callie's close friends... which are basically our close friends," she said, making more notes.

"Can you believe that Callie is moving?" Sydney asked suddenly, still staring out the window.

Mila looked up. "I know, it's so awful. I really like Callie."

"Me too," Sydney replied.

"That's why we have to make this the best party she'll ever have been to," Mila said, trying to sound bright.

"Can you believe that Sandy is the one who planned all this?" Sydney remarked, feeling rather confused. Sandy was not the socialite type.

Mila joined Sydney at the window seat. "Well, it is a little unlike her." Mila noticed that Sydney was staring at the Booth house. "Why are you looking over there?" she asked, wrinkling her nose disdainfully.

Sydney didn't respond. She didn't want to tell Mila that she and Garrett had almost kissed the night before... that he had looked deeply into her eyes like he cared. That maybe, just maybe, they were on the road to reconciliation.

Then a familiar look crossed Mila's face.

"What are you looking at?" Sydney asked with a smirk.

"Who is that?" Mila questioned her, trying to sound casual. She was staring at Grant Booth.

"Well, I guess Grant's in town," she stated.

"Grant?" Mila repeated, still looking at the young man on the porch talking to Garrett.

Sydney nodded. "Grant is Garrett and Glory's older brother," Sydney gave Mila a knowing look. "Much older," she added.

"What are you talking about, Sydney?" she asked with mock innocence, and the two dissolved into fits of laughter.

Sandy tossed her backpack on the floor of Owen's studio. "So, do you want to be the DJ at Callie's party tonight?"

Owen shrugged. "Yeah, it sounds okay. How come you don't want to perform at the party?"

Sandy smiled shyly. "Well, I'm sort of going with Saja."

"Saja?" Owen asked in disbelief.

She nodded. "Yeah."

Sandy suddenly noticed a flicker of something in Owen’s expression. Was it... jealousy? She wasn't able to tell, because he composed himself right away. "Okay, then, I guess I will DJ."

"Great," Sandy replied, flicking on the radio. The last few notes of their song came on the speaker.

"That was ‘I'll Hold you Up’ by Inspiration... we've had a ton of requests for this one!" the announcer said.

Sandy's eyes widened. "Requests? People are requesting our song!"

Owen noticed that the light was blinking on his answering machine, and he hit the button to play the message.

"Hello," a male voice said. "My name is Brian Lopez of The Caboose. I heard your song on WSCR, and I wanted to know if you're interested in playing at the club on Saturday. Let me know, my number is 545-8905. Thanks."

Sandy was speechless. "A gig?" she squeaked.

Owen responded by giving her a high five. "Looks like we're on our way, Swan."

Pulling open the double doors, Callie entered SCH. The building was deserted, and she felt a little creepy because most of the lights were out. She decided to begin her futile search for Jimmy, although in her heart she knew he had been avoiding her.

She went up to the second floor, and found his locker. She began twirling the lock, and for a fleeting moment felt happy that he had entrusted her with his combination. Pulling the locker open, she noticed his jean jacket was not hanging inside. He must have already left, she mused, and began to leave the building. She wondered whether or not he had stayed after like Mr. Clayton had told her, or if that was some way to throw her off track. Now her thoughts were confirmed... Jimmy was definitely avoiding her.

Mila pulled on her jacket as she stepped outside of Sydney’s house. "Wow, it's really pouring," she commented. "Well, I am going to go get the party supplies, and I will be back about an hour before it starts."

"Thanks for the help, Mila!" Sydney called after her. Mila made her way across the Rutledge property, and hurriedly walked past the Booth's.

"Who's that?" Grant whispered to Garrett on the porch.

Garrett shook his head as Grant watched Mila run through the rain. "Oh no, you don't."


"She's my ex-girlfriend.... and she's only fifteen," Garrett told him in a scolding tone.

Glory came out on to the porch and set the lemonade and cookies down hard on the table. "And she's a flirt," she snapped, retreating back into the house.

"I can't believe that we have to work with a girl," Neil moaned as he and J.T. walked into the lab at the University.

"Ah, come on Neil, girls aren't that bad," J.T. said teasingly.

"Well, you sure seem to have your hands full with them," Neil shot back. "Oh great, here she comes," he muttered under his breath.

A tall, thin girl with light brown skin and long, swingy black hair waved to J.T. and Neil.

"This is the monster you keep talking about?" J.T. hissed.

"Hi Neil!" she greeted him in a pleasant voice, flashing the boys a bright smile. "Who's your friend?"

Neil rolled his eyes. "This is J.T. Adams."

"Oh, right!" she said with a grin. "I saw you on the news. Well, I'm Carolyn Smith."

J.T. shook her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Carolyn."

"Thanks." The three headed over to the work station, and began to set up the equipment. "I'm gonna go get some snacks. Anybody want anything?" Carolyn asked.

"Food?" Neil said incredulously. "We shouldn't eat in here!"

"Ah, come on, lighten up!" Carolyn told him. "I cannot do any work productively without Ring Dings, soda, and some music."

J.T. smiled. "You don't have to ask me twice! I'll take some Ring Dings, a couple of Twinkies, and some Cheetos..." his voice trailed off in thought. "And a bag of potato chips, too."

Carolyn laughed. "That all?" she teased. "So what about you, Neil?"

"Nothing!" he snapped.

She shrugged and turned to make her way to the snack machine in the commons area. "Hey Neil, you know... there aren't any Russian spies in the research lab."

J.T. laughed, and Neil scowled at him. "How are we going to perfect the heat shield and the fuel working with a girl?"

"It could be worse, buddy. We could have had to surrender all of our discoveries to the court," J.T. rationalized. "Now we have full rights."

"So where does this girl get off? I mean, she had nothing to do with this!"

"I heard she is one of the smartest girls in the state, and she won an internship at the University because of her exceptional science grades," J.T. explained.

"So?" Neil countered.

Carolyn came back into the room, carrying an armful of snacks. "Do you realize what a pig I must look like?" she remarked with a laugh, dumping them onto the table.

"Are we going to work, or what?" Neil asked, annoyed.

She nodded. "Before you guys got here I put in an hour or so. I took a look at some of your formulas, and changed around a few things. I think you might be able to get the heat tolerance to an even higher level with this equation, thus making the rocket fuel last longer," she explained.

"Amazing," J.T. breathed.

"Who said you could do that?" Neil cried.

Carolyn’s hazel eyes sparkled. "I did."

Nancy looked around the stables. She was on a search for the boy she had seen in the tack room the day before. She had no idea where he lived, or what his name was, but the mystery behind him was intriguing. It had been a long time since Nancy had put her efforts towards anyone but Jimmy Clayton, which had gotten her nowhere. She needed a new prospect.

She began walking towards the tack room, when she saw him. His back was turned, but she immediately recognized him. Her heart fluttered upon spotting the back of his head. Then she noticed that he was kneeling down, and was pouring water into the water trough.

That's odd, she thought to herself. Why would he be cleaning out the trough?

The boy looked up, and smiled at her. Nancy’s breath caught in her throat. He was wearing a name tag, cleaning the trough... he worked there!

Sydney stared out of her window, still watching the heavy rain. She knew she should get up and start decorating for the party, but she just didn't have it in her. Her eyes were drawn to the Booth house like magnets. Garrett was sitting on the porch with his sister and brother, looking a tad dispatched from the conversation. Could he be thinking about me? Sydney allowed herself to wonder. She kept seeing him... his blue eyes, the way that he looked at her in the clinic. She wanted more than anything in the world to go back there and finish what they were starting, but she knew it was impossible. Her mother's words during the drive home from the clinic echoed in her ears: Now there's no reason for you to associate with the Booths, she had said. It's finally all over now.

Sydney sighed. She didn't want it to be over. Not when she felt so strongly about Garrett.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the phone, and when Ralph didn't pick it up right away, she decided she should answer it.

"Hello?" she said.

"'Ello Love... it's Billy."

Sydney sighed. "Billy?"

"Yes, as in Billy Gunn," he explained.

"I know that," she replied testily.

"Well, Love, I'm still in town for the day, and I was wondering if you could show me Swans Crossing's night life?" he asked.

Sydney rubbed her temples. She suddenly had a pounding headache. "Well, Billy, that's a lovely offer, but I'm throwing a party for my friend tonight and I-"

"Great!" he cut her off. "I'll see you at seven, Love."

"But Billy!" Sydney yelled at the dial tone, and placed the phone in it's cradle. She made her way back to the window to continue her moping.

Callie opened the door to the Tool n' Die, and saw Jimmy busily working on a motorcycle on the ground.

"Here you are. How long have you been here? I've been looking all over for you," she told him cautiously.

"I had to run some errands. I just got here a few minutes ago," he replied. His voice sounded muffled from under the bike.

"Why didn't you tell me? I've been trying to get in touch with you all day."

"You know I run this place now. Where else would I be?" he said testily.

"Jimmy, call me crazy, but I have the feeling you're trying to avoid me. Is it because you're upset that I'm moving away tonight?" she asked in a compassionate voice.

"No. I told you, I've been busy here. Look, can you help me with this bike? I think there's something wrong with the engine. It's-"

Callie knelt down next to him, and placed her hand on top of his. "Jimmy, talk to me. What's wrong?" she pried gently.

"I told you, the bike-" he repeated, rolling his eyes.

Callie sighed impatiently. "Not with the bike, with you."

Jimmy finally looked up at her. "I told you, nothing's wrong with me," he pushed her hand away from his. "Didn't you hear me?" he shook his head. "Look, if you don't wanna help me with the engine, then why don't you head over to your dad's and do your moving away thing. I'm sure he could use your help," Jimmy told her, his voice sounding cold.

"My moving away is what's bothering you, isn't it?" Callie asked him, ignoring the way that he was talking to her.

"Hey, can we talk about this later? I'm busy," he growled between clenched teeth. Deep inside, Jimmy felt terrible that he was being so cold to Callie, but acting as if he didn’t care was the only way he knew to deal with this awful situation.

"Well, when do you want to talk about it? At my good-bye party tonight? An hour before I leave?" she said in an exasperated tone, folding her arms in front of her.

"Look, Walker Woman, I'm sorry. I just have a lot of things on my mind that are bothering me right now, okay?" he explained, his voice softening a bit.

"And I'm one of those things, right?" Callie asked quietly.

Jimmy tossed his wrench on the ground and jumped to his feet. "Well, what did you expect?" he replied angrily. "I mean, three days ago our lives were perfect. Then, your dad drops a bomb on us and the next thing I know, we're throwing a good-bye party for you and you're taking off tonight." He sighed and looked off into the distance, trying to hide the hurt in his eyes. "And not just over to the next state, you're leaving the country. You're leaving me. All in the course of four days. Yeah, I'm bothered by this!"

Callie stood up beside him. "Jimmy, I know all of this happened really fast, but what do you want me to do? Throw a fit and tell my dad if he doesn't let us stay here, I'll drown myself in Swan Lake?"

"Look, just forget it, okay? Just move away to Brazil and start your new life without me." He walked away from her and leaned against the table, trying to hide the fact that he was still desperately attempting to avoid her eyes.

Callie followed him to the table, and forced him to look at her. "You think I'm happy about moving thousands of miles away from the only place I've ever really called home?" she asked, angry that he was being so selfish, and not even thinking of how she felt about moving. "Leaving all the good friends I've made behind?" she continued heedlessly. "Having to break off the most meaningful relationship I've ever had?"

Jimmy looked at her, his eyes wide with confusion. "Wait- are you saying that you're going to break up with me?"

"Moving to Brazil" storyline and ending dialogue (c) 1997 Miss Swan Thanks to Jamilla whose Grant Booth storyline is further developed in this chapter. And a VERY special thanks to Miss Swan, who wrote the entire dialogue for the last scene in this chapter between Jimmy and Callie. I cannot thank her enough for the invaluable help she has given me!

Chapter Seventeen

"Are you saying you're going to break up with me?" Jimmy asked Callie in disbelief. They stared at each other for a moment, completely silent. "When did you decide this?"

"Jimmy, I'm sorry. It slipped out. I didn't mean to tell you this way," she said, avoiding his eyes.

"Well, when were you gonna tell me?" he asked in an irritated voice. "At your goodbye party tonight? An hour before you leave?" Jimmy added sarcastically.

"I was going to tell you when you let me talk to you, which obviously was not happening when I got here," Callie replied defensively.

Jimmy shook his head, his eyes downcast. "Why do you want to break up?"

"It's not going to work, Jimmy. I'm going to be in another country. We'll be miles apart. How would we keep in touch, write letters?"

"I could visit you," he said hopefully. "My brother lives-"

"Jimmy, it takes more than a little visit and a couple of letters to keep a relationship going. Pretty soon, we'd start drifting apart," Callie explained, cutting him off.

"How do you know that?" he asked, raising his voice.

"Because we're already starting to drift apart! Ever since you found out that I'm moving away, you've been shutting me out," she told him, tugging at her wavy hair in frustration.

"I only did that because I didn't know how to deal with the fact that you're leaving me. That doesn't mean we're drifting apart!" he insisted.

Callie sighed. How could she make him see that it would be easy for him to lose interest in her once she was gone? "I know that we will drift apart eventually, and I couldn't deal with that. We'll be living so far away from each other. We won't be seeing each other everyday anymore. We might start meeting new people..." Callie paused, and then added softly, "You might meet someone new."

Anger flashed in his eyes. "Are you saying that I would cheat on you?!"

"No! I just-"

"Maybe you want to meet someone new! Is that what you're trying to tell me? That's why we should break up, because you know you'll find someone better than me in Brazil?!" Jimmy shouted.

"Jimmy, I didn't mean that!" Callie told him quickly.

"Oh, yeah? What did you mean?" he challenged.

Callie started becoming angry herself. She didn't understand why he was acting like this, especially when she had caught those girls flirting with him at the Tool and Die the other day. "I mean that you seem to like spending time with other girls! Don't think I don't notice them coming here in the shop all the time, asking you to fix them up. And you seem more than happy to do it for them!"

Jimmy stared at her in disbelief. Why is she saying these things? "I can't believe this! Now you're accusing me of scoping out other girls behind your back! What do you think? You think I don't take our relationship seriously? You think I'm cheating on you or something? You're the one who wants to break up, remember?" he shook his head and sighed. "Maybe you're just turning the story around so that you can have a good reason to dump me!"

"And maybe you never did take our relationship seriously or you'd know me well enough to know that I would never do anything like that to you!" Callie shot back. "I'd never dump you."

"What do you call what you're doing to me right now? You accuse me of avoiding you, you accuse me of not taking our relationship seriously, you accuse me of cheating on you, and now you're trying to dump me because of things that aren't even true!" He looked at her, his expression a combination of anger and hurt. "You should know me well enough to know that I'd never do any of those things to you."

Callie chewed on her bottom lip. "So, you're saying that we don't trust each other?"

"No, I'm saying that I trusted you, but you don't trust me. I believed that our relationship was the real thing and that you cared about me," he told her, his voice growing cold. "Maybe you never did."

"I did- I still do!" she cried.

"Then why are we breaking up? You're just moving away. Haven't you ever heard of long distance relationships?" he asked desperately, trying to get her to see his side of things.

"Jimmy, you know it won't work."

He grew upset again. "No, we could make it work, but you don't want to. You don't even want to try! What else am I supposed to think? You probably wanted to break up with me a long time ago. For all I know, you're the one who got the job in Brazil for your dad so that you could have an excuse to get away from me!" he shouted accusingly. He immediately felt guilty when he saw the look on her face.

"I can't believe you would even think that."

Jimmy wanted to stop being so accusatory, but at least this way he was getting through to her. Ever since Callie had told him she was moving away, it seemed as if there was some sort of power taking over him, compelling him to say things that would hurt her the same way she was hurting him by leaving Swans Crossing. "Believe it," he said icily. "Now's your big chance. You can finally get away from me."

Hurt was gleaming in her eyes. "You know what? After seeing the type of person you are now- after hearing what you've said to me, maybe leaving you isn't such a bad idea after all! I never knew you could still be a complete jerk who only thinks of himself!" Callie snapped. She couldn't even believe this was the same person she had cared so much about last week.

"Oh, I'm the complete jerk?!" Jimmy scoffed. "Look who's talking! You can never be the one who started the problem- it's never your fault! It always has to be someone else's fault! I'm so tired of you blaming me for everything!" He slammed his fist into the table in anger.

"Blaming you is the only way I can get through to you! You always try to ignore what's happening around you. If there's a problem, you won't even deal with it- you just turn your back on it and shut people out! It's like you expect things to go away overnight!" Callie hollered.

"You're going away overnight! I mean, aren't you leaving for Brazil tonight? And you expect me to deal with that right now. You haven't even given me at least a week for your moving away to sink in! How can I deal with it when you don't even give me any time?" he asked.

Callie's jaw dropped. "Do you expect me to feel sorry for you? Am I supposed to break down and apologize for not giving you enough time to deal with something that's mostly hurting me? You haven't even supported me with the move! You haven't even been thinking about how I feel about leaving Swans Crossing!" How could he be so selfish? she thought to herself.

Jimmy rolled his eyes. "Oh, now you want me to comfort you and consider your feelings? Well, your moving away is your problem, not mine."

Callie through her arms up in the air in frustration. "There you go again, shutting me out and only thinking about yourself! You are so self-centered!"

"Well, there you go, blaming me again for all your problems!" he yelled back.

"My problems?" she asked. "You're the one with the problem!"

"Oh, yeah? Is that why you wanna dump me, because I have a problem? That's why you wanna leave me?" he said confrontationally.

"You never think about how things will affect anyone else! All you think about is how things will affect you! All you've thought about is how my moving away will affect you! That's all you care about!"

"No, because you know what? Your moving away doesn't affect me. I don't care anymore," he said unemotionally.

Tears sprung to Callie's eyes. "And you really mean that?" she whispered.

Jimmy looked away from her, and kept his eyes lowered, so he didn't have to meet her eyes. "You can get out of this place and never look back for all I care."

"So, we never really did know each other? So, what we had meant nothing to you? We just throw each other out of our lives and that's it?" she questioned him in a wavery voice.

He was still avoiding her eyes. "You heard me. Anyway, it was your call not mine. You made the decision to dump me before you move away. Aren't you happy that you finally got what you wanted?"

"You know this isn't what I wanted," she told him softly, but firmly.

He turned to look at her. "Hey, I'm out of the picture and now you're finally free. This is exactly what you want, right?" Jimmy asked, his words sharp and painful.

"I can't believe that I never saw you for the self-centered jerk you really are," Callie growled between clenched teeth.

"Then go! Why don't you just leave?" he walked over to the door and threw it open violently. "The door's wide open. Walk out and start your new life without me. We're through!" he yelled louder than Callie had ever heard him yell before.

The two stared at each other intensely for what seemed like an eternity. Both were out of breath from all the yelling, and completely stunned by what had just happened between them. Callie gave him one last glare, and then she stormed out of the Tool n' Die as fast as she could. Jimmy followed her and slammed the door behind her. As soon as she had left, he felt a searing pain envelop him. He recklessly began picking up motor pieces and crumpled newspaper from the table and throwing them around in anger... only this time, his anger was directed at himself. She's gone, he thought, slamming his fists down on the table in remorse. How could I have done this?

Outside, it was pouring rain. Callie took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself down. You're moving... it had to be this way, she told herself. But it wasn't reassuring. All she could think of was that she had just lost the one person she had ever truly cared about. She sunk down on the ground next to her bike, and sobbed regretfully, the rain mixing with her tears.

Garrett clutched his mother's grocery list in hand, grumbling to himself. When his parents had arrived home they had paid full attention to Grant, and banished him to the grocery store to buy things for Grant's "special dinner". Not that he was unhappy about leaving the house, quite the contrary. His father was a nervous wreck about the election fast approaching, and how he had a mere two days to repair the damage done to his campaign, Glory was moping around the house about J.T., and Grant was smiling, being perfect throughout it all.

Garrett angrily grabbed the shopping cart, and began speeding through the aisles, throwing things into the basket. He went down the beverage aisle, and while he was shoving bottled water into the cart, he knocked into someone.

"Watch it!" he said, irritated. He turned around, and saw who he had hit. "Sydney?"

Sydney looked speechless. "I... um," she mumbled. "I had to go to the store. Ralph is off getting party decorations, so I'm stuck buying the food."

"What?" Garrett asked, not understanding her explanation.

"The party tonight. For Callie," she stated, holding up a two liter bottle of soda to prove it.

"Oh, right," he answered lamely. "Will your mother be there?"

She swallowed. "Why do you want to know that?"

Garrett gave her a half smile. "I thought maybe we could, you know, hang out?" he offered.

Sydney lowered her eyes, and raked back her brown hair in thought. "Oh, Garrett," she murmured. "I already told Billy we'd, you know, hang out."

Garrett's jaw dropped. "Billy Gunn?"

She rolled her eyes. "Yes."

"I can't believe you'd go out with that greasy, leather clad, rock star," he snapped.

Sydney became defensive. "Look, you're the one who made me invite the guy to come to the concert. He's still in town," she explained. "For some reason or another," she added.

"Oh, please! You always had a thing for Billy and you know it," Garrett began to push the cart away.

"Do I detect a bit of jealously?" Sydney asked, laughing to herself.

"Yeah right!" he scoffed. "I'll see you at the party." Garrett pushed the cart until he was out of sight, and Sydney smiled to herself, secretly pleased.

Sandy tapped her foot, waiting for Sydney. Where is she? Sandy thought. Sydney had told her to come by her house so they could decorate for the party. When she arrived, Ralph let her in and told her Sydney was out.

Just then the door opened. "Sydney!" Sandy exclaimed. "Where were you?"

Sydney raised an eyebrow. "I was at the grocery store," she replied, setting her paper bags on the table. "Somewhere I really didn't want to be," she added.

Sandy sighed. "Well, let's get started."

Sydney once again raised her eyebrow. Sandy was being rather pushy. "Okay," she said slowly. "I guess we should decorate then..."

Sandy nodded, and held up a bag. "Ralph gave me these when I came." She pulled out a roll of crepe paper. "Do you have a ladder?"

Sydney thought for a moment. "You know, I have no idea."

Sandy laughed. "I'll be right back." She flounced out of the room confidently, while Sydney watched her.

What has happened to Sandy Swan?

Nancy watched the stable hand, and then turned on her heels. It wasn't that she didn't like him because he was a working class guy, but she was a little put off by that. Also, if he saw her.... what would she say?

"Hello again!" he called.

Nancy winced. Too late! She turned around. "Hi there," she smiled, and he smiled back.

"You know, I never got to ask you your name the other day," the boy said, flashing her another grin.

"Nancy," she answered. "Nancy Robbins."

He put out his hand. "I'm Kevin Hall."

Nancy carefully shook Kevin's hand. Then something hit her. "Hey, why were you asking me about the horses if you work here?"

He laughed. "It was my first day on the job. My family and I just moved here," he told her.

She nodded. "Oh, that explains why I haven't seen you at school. Will you be going to Swans Crossing High?"

Kevin shook his head. "No, I actually don't live in Swans Crossing."

"Where do you live?" Nancy asked.


Glory stood in front of her mirror, brushing her hair. "Do I look okay?" she asked Callie, who was standing behind her.

Callie nodded. "Of course. You look great. But a little dressed up for a goodbye party..." her voice trailed off.

Glory puckered her lips, and put on her red lipstick. "Well, J.T. will be there," she paused, lost in thought for a moment. "Callie, is it possible to love someone and hate them at the same time?"

Callie thought back to her awful fight with Jimmy. "Oh, yes," she replied.

Glory grabbed her purse. "I guess we have to go now."

Neither of them made a move towards the door. "Yeah, I know," Callie said.

"I can't believe you're leaving tonight!" Glory cried, her voice becoming tearful. "I am really going to miss you." The two girls hugged. "I mean, I know I must have said it a million times, but I really feel like I'm losing a sister or something."

Callie closed her eyes and chewed on her bottom lip. "Well, we should get going." She hurried out the door, wanting to get this whole ordeal over with.

"The place looks great, Love," a voice in the doorway said.

Sydney looked up, annoyed. "You know Billy, the party doesn't start for another ten minutes. I thought you rock stars like to make an entrance."

Billy smiled flirtatiously at her. "Well, you thought wrong, Lady Rutledge."

Sydney scowled. If he calls me that one more time... Just then, there was another knock at the door. A moment later, Callie and Glory came into the room.

"Callie! Glory!" Sydney greeted them, rushing to her friends to get away from Billy. "I am so glad you're here."

Glory smiled. "Well, we have to send Callie out with a bang, just the way she came into Swans Crossing."

"You know, this is really nice of you guys and all..." Callie said, sounding uncomfortable.

"But," Sydney prompted.

"But I don't think I'm going to be very good company right now. I mean, I have to leave tonight, basically right after the party," Callie explained.

"I'm sorry," Sydney told her softly. "You know, you helped me a lot with everything that happened with Garrett."

Callie smiled. "Well, I was glad to help you out."

"I mean it. You've been a good friend," Sydney said, and she hugged her. Callie sighed. It was going to be a long, emotional night.

"Sandy dear, I must say that this is a very successful party. I never would have guessed it was thrown by you!" Nancy exclaimed. Sandy looked up, and saw that Saja was coming through the door.

"Excuse me, Nancy," she said, pushing away from her. "Saja, hi!"

Saja grinned. "Looks like the party is going well. We pulled it off." Sandy smiled when he said "we". It was definitely a success. Everyone had arrived, and they were all dancing to Owen's music, eating the food, and socializing.

Saja noticed that Callie was standing in the corner near the door by herself. "I'll be right back, Sandy," he told her, and made his way over to Callie. "Hi," he greeted her.

"Hey Saja," she answered glumly.

"Not enjoying the party?" he asked.

Callie shrugged. "No, it's a great party and all, but I just can't believe that this is the last time I am going to see you guys."

Saja swallowed. "I never really thought you'd leave so quickly," he said quietly.

"You read my mind," she replied with a sarcastic laugh. "I'm going to miss you Saja. You're one of the best friends I have ever had." Tears were welling in the corners of her eyes, and she wiped at them with the back of her hand. "Look at me, I can't believe I am getting so emotional!" she laughed, trying to cover up the fact she was crying.

Saja lowered his eyes. "There's nothing wrong with being emotional, Callie. It's what I always liked about you. You, you.. feel so much. You have a real sense of people, and you're the only one who accepts me for who I am, and you're one of the best friends I've ever had, too." Saja gave her a hug.

"Saja?" she started, still trying to wipe away her tears. "Is Jimmy coming to the party?"

He shrugged. "Well, why wouldn't he?"

Callie looked down at her feet. "We had a huge fight. In fact, it was so bad that I'm not sure he ever wants to see me again."

Saja shook his head. "Callie, he could never not want to see you again. But he is a stubborn guy sometimes. Would you like me to call him? See if I can get him to the party?"

She turned away. "I don't want him here if he doesn't care anymore."

"I'm sure he does," Saja insisted. "You mean a lot to him, I could always see it in his eyes. He cares about you a lot, and I know he still does." Saja told her.

Callie sighed. "Well, if you want to..."

Glory leaned against the refreshment table, playing with the ends of her hair. She just wanted J.T. to walk by, and see her standing there. A romantic song began, and Glory scanned the room for him. If only he would come over, and take her into his arms as he had so many times in the past, and dance with her.

Suddenly, J.T. caught her eye as he spun around Sydney's living room... with Mila. Glory kept trying to watch him, but her vision was blurred by tears.

Garrett was standing at the refreshment table, sipping a paper cup of soda, which seemed to have no taste to him at all.

"Enjoying the party, Garrett?" Grant asked, joining him at the table.

"Well, I'm sure I'm enjoying it more than you," he commented. "Why did you want to come to a party where everyone is so much younger than you?"

Grant laughed. "Oh, come on Garrett. I'm not an old man. I'm only twenty years old."

Garrett found his brother's festive mood irritating. "Who invited you?"

Grant laughed again. "Actually, I got a call from Sydney Rutledge this afternoon."

Garrett choked on his drink. "Sydney?"

"Yep," he nodded, and then motioned to Sydney, who was standing in a group with Sandy, Saja, Callie, Glory... and Billy. "She sure has matured since last I saw her. I mean, she's with Billy Gunn."

Garret raked his hands through his dark blond hair. "Oh please," he muttered. But he knew his brother was right. Sydney had matured... and she was with Billy Gunn.

Saja put his finger in his ear to try and drown out the deafening sound of music. "Hello?!" he shouted into the mouth piece of the telephone.

"Hello?" Jimmy said on the other line.

"Jimmy, it's Saja," he told him.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"I'm at Callie's party... where you should be," he said in a scolding tone.

Jimmy was silent for a moment. "I know," he replied quietly.

"So why don't you get over here already?" Saja asked.

"Because she probably hates me now. We had a huge fight this afternoon. I'm sure I'm the last person she wants to see," Jimmy remarked glumly.

Saja laughed. "Trust me my friend, she wants you here."

"She does?" Jimmy asked, his voice filling with hope.

"Yeah, so hurry up and get here before she leaves!"

"All right!" Jimmy replied, and quickly hung up on Saja.

Saja laughed, and put the phone back on the hook.

The party was nearing an end when the doorbell rang. Saja jumped from his spot on the couch, and went to answer it, thinking it was Jimmy. But instead of seeing Jimmy in the doorway, he saw Captain Walker, carrying a large suitcase. A taxi was waiting for him in Sydney's driveway. "I'm here to pick up Callie," he said.

Saja stepped away from the door to let the captain in. "Sure, just a second." He went back to the party.

Callie looked up, and saw her father waiting for her in the entrance way. "Dad!" she said in surprise, jumping up.

"My dear, it is time to leave," he told her.

Callie's eyes widened, and she looked around at all the other party guests. "Now?" she asked.

"Yes. I'm sorry, but we have to get to the airport on time, and we're running a little late as it is," Captain Walker explained.

Callie looked over at Saja. "Where's Jimmy?" she mouthed.

He shrugged in reply.

"Okay, Dad," she said slowly. All eyes were on her now, and soon, all her friends had surrounded her.

"I'm going to miss you!" they all chorused. She went around the room, and said her goodbyes to everyone, met with dozens of hugs.

"Thanks for everything Callie," Sydney whispered to her when she gave her a goodbye hug. "You were there for me at a time when no one else even cared, and I will never forget that. And I never understood why you were angry at me when I told the town about Garrett until now."

Callie nodded, and Sydney continued. "See, you wanted me to tell everyone when it was about finding the truth. But I already knew the truth, and did it for revenge." Sydney smiled, tears in her eyes. "It's going to be hard to stay in line without you around." They hugged again, and then it was Saja's turn to say goodbye.

"Callie, I will never forget you," Saja told her in an emotional voice.

"Me neither, Saja," she replied between tears.

"You have been the only one who really understands me, and you've been a great friend. Thanks."

"No problem," she sniffed.

Glory was the worst. At this point, both she and Callie were crying hard, and they couldn't find the words, so they just embraced. "Bye Glory," Callie whispered.


Callie joined her father on the front steps. "Well, I just wanted to say that I never knew what it was like to have a home until I lived in Swans Crossing," she told the crowd tearfully. "Thank you," she whispered, and then she and her father walked out of the door before it could become any more painful.

Jimmy showed up at the party only five minutes after Callie and her father had left.

"Where's Callie?" he asked, walking into Sydney's living room.

"You're too late," Saja told him with a frown.

Jimmy immediately felt his heart sink. "Too late?"

"Well, she and the captain left for the airport a few minutes ago," Saja explained.

"Then I can still make it!" he said hopefully, running out of the living room. He turned back for a second, and grabbed a bouquet of flowers that was sitting on one of the Rutledge's coffee tables. "Wish me luck!" he exclaimed, and with that, he was out the door.

"Good luck," Saja said encouragingly to his retreating figure.

"Dad, come on. Why don't I go get you a cup of coffee, and we can sit for a minute. I mean, I hear planes are crowded, and you can never get a decent cup of coffee on airplanes," Callie babbled, trying anything to stall her father. They still had a little time left. Maybe Jimmy would show up at the airport last minute to see her off.

Captain Walker shook his head. "Callie, what's wrong?"

"Um, I just... Well, we've never flown before, so how about that cup of coffee? It will calm your nerves," she said quickly.

He laughed. "I don't even drink coffee! Besides, you're the one who seems nervous. Are you sure everything's okay?"

She nodded. "Fine, great. I just hate to have to go. I mean, it's a nice night, and we haven't seen each other in a long time. Couldn't we fly out tomorrow instead?"

Captain Walker stroked his daughter's hair. "Now Callie, you know that these tickets were hard enough to get. We have to fly to Miami, and then take the international flight to Brazil. It would take weeks to change them."

"I guess you're right," she admitted glumly.

"Now boarding flight 107. Flight 107 now boarding," the woman on the P.A. system announced.

"Come on, that's us," Captain Walker told her, getting up from the uncomfortable waiting area chair.

"But Dad-" Callie protested.

He gave her a cross look. "Callie," he said warningly. She reluctantly complied, and the two made their way on to the plane.

"Callie!" Jimmy called, running into the gate a few minutes later. "Callie!" He looked around at the waiting area of the gate. Callie and her father were no where to be found. He went up to the ticket counter. "Excuse me, I have to go on that plane. I never got to say goodbye to my girlfriend."

The woman behind the counter did not look sympathetic. "I'm sorry, but that flight is ready for take off. You can't go in there now unless you have a ticket, and even then you'd have to hurry."

Jimmy thanked her sullenly, and walked over to the window. Through the pouring rain, he watched Callie's plane circle the runway, and take off. It wasn't until she was out of sight that he left the window, threw the flowers in a garbage can, and headed home.

Brazil storyline and opening dialogue ©1997 Miss Swan. If anyone has any questions, comments, ideas, or constructive criticism for this installment of the Swans Crossing novel please e-mail me at SLourdes@aol.com. Thanks! :) [email no longer exists]. And a VERY special thanks to Miss Swan, who wrote the entire dialogue for the first scene in this chapter between Jimmy and Callie. I cannot thank her enough for the invaluable help she has given me!

Chapter Eighteen

Glory wiped her face with a Kleenex. She had been crying ever since Callie left. And it didn't help that J.T. had seen her crying and walked right past her, as if they had never talked before.

"Sydney, I have to get going," Glory told her, although the party was still going strong.

"Sure Glory, see you at school tomorrow," Sydney said, pecking Glory's cheek.

Glory exited the Rutledge mansion, and started walking next door to her house. She stopped, and checked her wristwatch. It was nine o' clock. She still had an hour before she had to be home, so she turned around and started walking towards the park.

Tears still trickled down her cheeks as she recalled the emotional scene she had just been involved in. She and Callie had been good friends, and she was always there to listen, especially when it concerned J.T.

I can't believe J.T. ignored me at the party! Who does he think he is? she asked herself, stomping her foot into the ground. After all we shared...

Glory’s mind wandered back to the summer, when she and J.T. were still a couple. She remembered him sitting on her front porch, reading her the poem he had written for her, holding her tight after she had been kidnapped, and holding her hand at Swans. What had happened to that sensitive, gentle guy?

"Did you have fun?" a voice asked. Glory's thoughts were interrupted and her head shot up.

J.T.? she thought, immediately recognizing the voice.

"I had a great time. It's too bad that Callie had to move though. I'll really miss her," Mila answered.

Glory crouched down in the bushes so she could make out their forms in the moonlight, but they couldn't see her.

"Right," J.T. said.

"J.T.?" Mila began.


"I was wondering... have you written any more poems?"

Glory's breath caught in her throat.

J.T. was silent for a moment. "Well, no, actually. Not since..." His voice trailed off, but Glory knew exactly what he was trying to say: Not since Glory and I broke up. "I just haven't been inspired lately," he concluded.

"Oh," Mila said. "Not at all?"

Glory watched in horror as J.T. looked up at Mila, her face glowing in the soft light of the moon, smiled, and started leaning towards her.

"Well, maybe a little," he replied huskily, and Glory took off running before she could see what came next.

Jimmy arrived at his house, glad that no one was at home. He needed to be alone, after everything that had happened. How did I mess things up so much? he asked himself, slamming his motorcycle helmet on the kitchen table. Already he missed Callie, and she had only been gone for about half an hour.

He trudged up the stairs to his room. He figured the only way he was going to deal with this tonight was to mope, and then try to drift off to sleep. Although he knew in the back of his mind that things didn't get fixed by ignoring them, he didn't care. There was nothing he could do tonight.

Sydney watched in annoyance as Sandy chatted with Billy. She rolled her eyes, and picked up an empty bag of chips. "You could help me Sandy!" she exclaimed in an irritated tone, but Sandy wasn't paying attention. How did Sandy start being so confident around rock stars? she asked herself in disbelief. Gosh, these people are pigs! she silently complained as she picked up more garbage from her party guests.

She dumped the garbage in a large trash bag, and marched over to Sandy. "Sandy, this was your party! Will you please clean this mess up?" she snapped.

"Okay, it was nice to talk to you Billy," Sandy said with a grin, and then rushed over to Sydney's side. "Is something wrong Sydney?"

Sydney groaned. "Well, I'm here cleaning up this mess, and you're chatting with Billy Gunn! I'm not happy!"

Sandy started to pick up the trash. "Don't worry about Billy, I'm not interested in him," Sandy assured her.

"Sandy," Sydney began slowly. "I'm not either." She thought of Garrett, and wondered where he had gone off to. "And if I was, I still wouldn't consider you a threat!"

Sandy gave Sydney a cross look, and Sydney walked over to Billy. "Don't you have to be going soon, Billy?" she asked warily.

Billy shrugged. "My plane leaves in an hour. Why don't you give me a tour of the Rutledge Manor?"

"You absolutely have to go after this?"

He nodded. "So how about it?"

Sydney rolled her eyes, and didn't bother to disguise her displeasure. "Fine, fine." She led Billy out the front door. "Sandy, Billy and I are going to go for a walk!" She slammed the door shut before she could hear Sandy protest.

Garrett sat on his porch, moping. The party had been a bust. Billy had been glued to Sydney's side all night, and he had never gotten a chance to talk to her. And she looked like she was having a great time too, he thought to himself glumly.

Suddenly, he heard voices on the other side of the wall.

"So, what do you think?" Sydney's voice asked.

"The landscape is beautiful, Love," he heard Billy reply in his British accent. "But not as lovely as the person standing in it," he drawled.

Garrett rolled his eyes. Oh please! Is she actually going to fall for that corn-ball line?

"Well, since you've seen it now Billy, maybe it's time for you to get going," Sydney said in a rushed voice.

Billy grabbed her arm. "Come on Love, just a few more minutes. Remember when I showed you the stars when I attempted to drive you home the last time I was in town?"

Sydney groaned. "Yes, I remember." She turned back to him, and suddenly he was hovering over her. He leaned towards her, and Sydney realized that he was going to kiss her.

"Billy, don't," she snapped, trying to wrestle out of his grip. He pulled her closer, and attempted to kiss her again. "Billy!"

"Come on," he repeated. "I came out all this way to see your little concert. The least you can do..." his voice trailed off as he planted a kiss on her cheek.

"Stop it!" she cried, becoming frightened as he turned to kiss her lips. She yanked away from him, and he accidentally ripped her sleeve. But that didn't stop him. He somehow managed to pull her back into his arms, and kissed her again. "Help!" Sydney yelled, but realized that it was hopeless. No one would hear her.

Mila and J.T. parted. Mila looked up at him, and saw that he was smiling. "What- what was that?" she whispered, her knees feeling weak.

"Is that okay? I mean, I don't have to do that if you don't want me to..." he said.

"Shh," she replied. "It's okay. I just wanted to know what's happening between us."

J.T. grinned. "What do you want to happen?"

Mila smiled back, and savored the feeling of his arms around her waist. "I'm open to new experiences," she murmured, as they leaned towards each other for another kiss.

Garrett jumped up from the porch swing. He heard Sydney and Billy arguing, and then he heard desperate cries for help. Impulsively, he ran around to the other side of the wall, where he found Billy pawing at Sydney.

"What are you doing?" he yelled.

Billy stopped, and smiled. "This is a private party," he commented. Garrett rushed to Sydney's side, and pulled her away from Billy. "Hey!" he exclaimed, becoming angered. He leapt to his feet, and approached Garrett.

"You stay away from her!" Garrett bellowed.

"Oh, and who's going to make me?" Billy shot back.

Garrett shoved him. "Who do you think, Mr. Rock and Roll?"

Billy scowled, and after he regained his balance, he swung at Garrett and punched him in the eye.

"Garrett!" Sydney screamed.

Garrett stumbled to the ground, and Billy brushed himself off. He looked at Sydney with disgust. "This is the last time I ever come to this little hick town." He stomped away from them angrily.

"Garrett!" Sydney exclaimed, kneeling down beside him. "Are you okay?"

He sat up, and touched his eyebrow. A little blood appeared on his hand. He smiled meekly at Sydney. "It was that bracelet with the spikes he always wears," Garrett joked. "Are you okay?"

Sydney was busily rummaging through her purse. She pulled out a Kleenex, and reached up. She gently dabbed his forehead. "I'm fine. You really saved me Garrett. I- I don't know what he would have done if you hadn't shown up," she told him, her voice breaking.

They looked into each other’s eyes, and Sydney kept her hand on his forehead. They leaned closer to each other. "Thank you, Garrett," she whispered.

"No problem," he whispered back. They leaned closer, until their lips met in a long, lingering kiss. Sydney had never experienced anything like it in her life. For once, she and Garrett were able to sit somewhere in public and share a kiss... completely carefree.

Glory plodded through the halls at school the next day, replaying the scene she had witnessed in the park over and over. She couldn't believe that J.T. had kissed Mila. It was just another sign that everything was over between the two of them, and there was no turning back.

She reached into her locker and pulled out a handkerchief. She wiped off the red lipstick she had on. This stupid new look didn't even help! she thought to herself. Then she looked at the handkerchief she was holding in her palms. She had given one just like it to J.T. over the summer. I wonder if he still has it, she mused.

An equally glum looking Jimmy came trudging up the hallway. "Hi Glory," he greeted her.

"Hi Jimmy. Where were you last night?" she asked, referring to Callie's goodbye party.

Jimmy raked back his dark hair and sighed. "I messed up big time," he answered. "I don't know if I'll ever even see her again!"

Glory nodded sympathetically. She pulled her books out of her locker in thought. "You know what you should do?"

His face lit up. "What?"

"Your brother Johnny lives in Brazil, right? You ought to go and visit him, try and track down Callie and make things right with her," Glory told him, feeling proud of her suggestion.

A smile spread across Jimmy’s face. "That's not a bad idea. But how could I just leave school?"

Glory shrugged. "Just go for a few days. Leave on Saturday, and come back the next week or something. It would be worth it, right?"

Jimmy thought back to his awful fight with Callie the day before, all the cruel things he had said to her, and the way he had just cast aside her goodbye party. "It would definitely be worth it. Thanks Glory," he replied, wandering away, and contemplating the idea.

"Homecoming is going to be so great!" Nancy announced at the lunch table.

Mila gave her a confused look. "Homecoming?" she asked.

"Oh, that's right. You never went to a real school. Homecoming is the last home game of the football season, and Swans’ is next week!" Nancy explained to Mila, who still stared at her blankly.

"You're looking forward to a football game?" she asked.

Sydney laughed. "No, we also get to have a big formal dance, and the school chooses Homecoming Kings and Queens."

Nancy nodded and turned to Mila. "I would have thought you and Garrett were a shoo-in, considering you were the super couple of Swans Crossing High, but now I'm not so sure."

Mila shrugged. "I don't think I will be going with Garrett," she said with a sarcastic laugh.

"So, who will you be going with?" Nancy asked.

"I don't know. What about you?"

Nancy smiled shyly. "Well, I think that I might have an idea."

"Ah, the mystery man from the stables?" Sydney teased.

Mila grinned. "What mystery man?"

Nancy beamed, enjoying the attention she was getting. "Actually, he's not so much of a mystery anymore. I know his name now."

"Well, spill it!" Sydney urged.

"His name is Kevin Hall, and his family just moved here from Arizona," she stated.

"Does he go to SCH?" Mila asked casually.

"No," Nancy replied slowly.

"Where, then?" Sydney inquired. "Don't keep anything from us, Nancy dear."

"He, uh, goes to Newport," Nancy told them in a small voice.

Mila and Sydney looked at each other and started laughing. "Nancy! You can't be serious," Sydney remarked.

"Oh, and why not?" she asked testily.

"Because!" Sydney exclaimed between gasps. "Newport? We're playing Newport during Homecoming! Even you aren't that low!"

Nancy lowered her eyes in defeat. "You're right, it was stupid of me to even think of it." She picked up her lunch tray. "I have to get to class," she said, and disappeared into the crowd.

Mila stood up as well. "I have to meet Sandy and Owen in the library. I'll see you in class, Sydney." She also merged into the crowd.

Sydney smiled to herself. "Perfect," she said out loud. She rose up from the table, pushed in her chair, and pushed open the door that led from the cafeteria to the patio. She stepped behind a tree, and saw Garrett standing there, a single red rose in his hand.

"Glad you could make it," he greeted her, handing her the rose.

She brought it to her nose and laughed. "This reminds me of old times," she joked.

"Exactly," Garrett replied seriously. "A second chance."

Sydney smiled up at him as he took her hand in his.

"But we can't meet in secret forever again," Garrett stated.


"Why don't we give this a chance again? You and I walk off the field together at Homecoming. Just like we should have at the baseball game."

Sydney grinned. It was a very romantic offer. "Okay," she said slowly.

"Do you promise you'll come with me this time?" he asked, giving her a pointed look.

"Of course!" she answered. "But under one condition."

Garrett sighed. "There's always a catch with you, Sydney." Why doesn't she ever seem to take our relationship seriously? he asked himself in frustration. "What is it?"

"I'll come with you... if you win the game," she told him with a teasing grin.

Garrett smiled broadly in return. "You can count on it," he replied confidently, and pulled her into his arms for a continuation of the previous night.

Sandy stood at the copy machine, running off tons of colored fliers. "I'm so excited!" she exclaimed to Mila, Owen, and Saja, who were helping her stack up the papers. "I mean, our first real gig. At a club! We're really making it."

Mila and Owen gave Sandy high fives. Saja smiled meekly. "Maybe I should go. I mean, this is your gig," he said slowly.

"No, Saja, stay. We could use your help," Sandy told him. She touched him on the shoulder, and could feel the sparks between them. She wasn't sure what was happening, but they had been spending a lot of their time together lately. Suddenly, out of the clear blue, an idea struck her. "Oh my gosh! I just thought of the greatest idea!" she squealed, nearly dropping her stack of papers.

"What is it, Sandy?" Mila asked.

Sandy turned to Saja. "Why don't you be our manager?" she suggested.

Saja cocked his head. "Manager? I never thought of being a manager of a rock band before. Hmm..." his voice trailed off in thought.

"Would you want to?" Sandy asked shyly.

Saja smiled. "Well, why not? I think it might be kind of fun. That is, if it's okay with you guys," he said to Owen and Mila.

"Sure, that sounds like a great idea! All big acts have managers," Mila agreed.

A hint of jealousy flashed in Owen's eyes, but he quickly blinked it away. "Okay Saja, that sounds fine," he said in a strange voice, one he didn't quite understand himself.

After school, Jimmy rode his mini-bike to his father's restaurant. The waiters and waitresses greeted him as he made his way to his father's office near the kitchen. Mr. Clayton looked up from his paper work, and smiled at his son.

"Hey Jimmy. What brings you here?" he asked.

Jimmy sat down in a chair. "Uh, Dad, can I talk to you about something?"

"Sure, what is it?"

Jimmy took at deep breath. Here goes, he thought to himself. "I was wondering... it's been a long time since I've seen Johnny."

Mr. Clayton nodded. "Well, he might come up here for Thanksgiving."

"Yes, but I was wondering if this Saturday I could go down and visit him," Jimmy blurted out.

His father looked at him with wide eyes. "You want to go to Brazil?"

Glory showed up for cheerleading practice after school feeling a little apprehensive. She didn't want to have to cheer with Mila leading them all, especially not after what she had seen the night before.

"Hi Glory!" Mila exclaimed, her blond ponytail bouncing. Glory couldn't believe she was acting as if nothing had happened! However, she swallowed her thoughts and put on a phony smile.

"Hi Mila," she replied.

Mila turned on a portable stereo, and instructed the girls on some simple warm up cheers. Glory let the music take her over, and soon she was hopping, jumping, and cheering to the music with a genuine smile.

Mila gave her a thumbs-up as Glory turned and did the herky jump they were practicing. All of Glory's worries melted away because she knew she was doing such a wonderful job. She shook her yellow, black, and white pom poms in sync with the others. Things were going great... until J.T. walked onto the field.

He stood several yards away, but even Glory could tell he was watching Mila.

"Okay, now we should work on the three-tiered pyramid which we'll be doing at the field show during Homecoming," Mila instructed. "Glory, you're the smallest, so you should be on top."

Glory and the rest of the cheerleaders began to form the pyramid, but Glory couldn't take her eyes off J.T.

A junior named Brooke Rocha lifted Glory up onto her shoulders. Glory stood up, and continued to stare at J.T. She put her arms in the air in the "V" position, and tried to straighten her body out. She stood at the top of the pyramid for a minute or two, her eyes still on J.T. He was talking to Mila, and Glory felt her stomach turn. They're standing so close, she thought in disgust. Suddnely, the ground seemed to be moving, and her knees buckled.

"Glory?" Brooke said from below her. "What's going on?"

Glory swayed from side to side, and then felt herself tip forward. She tumbled off Brooke's shoulders, and went hurtling towards the ground.

Chapter Nineteen

Glory landed on the grass with a thump.

"Glory!" Mila cried, rushing over to her side. J.T. and the other cheerleaders followed. Glory looked up at them, squinting. "Are you okay?" Mila asked her.

"Yeah," she grunted, trying to sit up. "I just got really dizzy all of a sudden."

"Can you see okay now?" J.T. asked softly.

"Mm-hmm," she replied, realizing that J.T. was standing next to her for the first time since the night of the concert.

"I don't think you have a concussion or anything, but you better get home," he told her, his voice gentle and comforting.

"J.T.?" Mila said, coming up behind him.


"Do you think you could help Glory home? I would, but we still have to practice for the Homecoming field show," Mila explained.

Glory sat on the ground fuming. Gee, they're making it seem like such a chore to help me home! "Don't worry about me, I think I'll be fine," she growled between clenched teeth. She stood up, but felt her knees shaking again. They threatened to give way underneath her, so she grabbed J.T.'s arm to help keep her balance.

"Oh no, you don't," he chided her tenderly. He wrapped his arm around her waist to balance her. Glory's heart began drumming at a ferocious beat. His arm felt so casual there, just like old times. His touch was full of warmth and care, and it sparked a flame inside her. "I'll take you home," J.T. offered, and slowly led her away from the field.

Jimmy’s father looked at him with wide eyes. "You want to go to Brazil?"

"Well, uh, yeah," Jimmy replied nervously.

Mr. Clayton gave him a confused look. "Do you realize how much a trip to Brazil is going to cost?"

Jimmy raised his eyebrows in thought. "But, um, you see, I thought I would go there and maybe learn a little about photo journalism. You know, see if I want to take after Johnny."

Mr. Clayton chuckled. "Bringing up careers. Nice tactic. Now why don't you tell me why you really want to go?"

"So, are you going to be okay?" J.T. asked as he helped Glory onto the porch swing at the Booth's house.

"Yeah," she said, surprised she could even find her voice. She was busy staring into his blue eyes, her skin still burning where he had touched her. She hadn't realized just how much she had missed him until he was near her. "J.T.?"

"Yeah?" he answered, his eyes shining with something that Glory interpreted as hope.

"Can you stay?" she whispered, her voice full of longing.

J.T. lowered his eyes, and a sad look crossed his face. "You know I would, but..."

She swallowed hard. "But what?"

He was silent for a moment. "I told Mila we could study after cheerleading practice."

Tears came to her eyes on cue, and she blinked them away, not wanting J.T. to notice. "Oh."

"Glory..." he started, but she turned away from his stare.

"Go," she told him hoarsely.

"But Glory-"

"Just go!" she snapped, not turning back to him. The tears were now steadily falling down her freckled cheeks. She waited until she heard his footsteps grow quieter and quieter, until he was gone.

Glory hiccupped, and angrily wiped at her wet cheeks.

"Glory?" a voice said.

Her head shot up, thinking maybe it was J.T., but instead she saw Garrett coming up the porch. "Hi Garrett," she mumbled.

"Can I talk to you a minute?" he asked.

"Sure, I've got all the time in the world," she replied bitterly.

"I just want to apologize for everything that happened. With J.T., and Mila, and the poems. I wish there was someway I could make it up to you, little sis," Garrett told her, giving her a hug.

Suddenly, Glory's face lit up. "Wait! There is!"

"What do you mean?"

Glory smiled. "Do you think that maybe you could get Mila and J.T. to break up?"

He thought about it for a minute. "I don't know, I mean, how would I do that?"

She gave him a pleading look. "Please, Garrett."

"I'll give it a shot," he promised.

Glory pecked her brother on the cheek. "Thanks!" She retreated into the house, leaving him in thought.

"I might not be able to break them up," Garrett said aloud slowly. "But I bet I know who could!"

Jimmy stared at his dad. "There are a lot of reasons I want to go," he began carefully.

"And I bet Johnny is only one of those reasons," Jimmy's father said.

Jimmy looked away. "Let's just say I need to be there. A lot is counting on this visit."

Mr. Clayton tapped a pencil against the side of his desk. "What about school?" he asked.

Jimmy tried to surpress his smile. Seems like he's caving! "Well, next week is Homecoming week, so there won't be a lot of work to do, and what I will miss I’ve already gotten from my teachers."

"You work fast," his father remarked with a laugh. "And speaking of Homecoming, what about the football game? Won't Coach Gromme be angry?"

Jimmy thought back to the way he had left things with Callie. "There are some things that are more important than football," he commented.

"Well, I guess it won't hurt that much if you go," Mr. Clayton said slowly. A smile spread across Jimmy's face. "But, you can only stay for ten days."

Jimmy nodded eagerly. "That's fine."

"And you have to find someone to take care of the Tool n' Die," he continued.

"No problem," Jimmy answered.

"And I want you to pay for half the plane ticket out of your salary from your job."

Jimmy reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a wad of cash. He set it on his father's desk. "Got it covered!"

"You always do," Mr. Clayton told his son.

"Thanks Dad! I'll see you at home!" Jimmy said enthusiastically. He took off from his father’s office to begin making arrangements for his trip to Brazil... and hopefully, to begin making things right with Callie.

Callie woke up after a fitful sleep in an unfamiliar room. She sat up, and groggily took in her surroundings. Then she remembered. She was in her new bedroom... in Brazil. She got out of bed, and crossed the room to the window. She had a beautiful view of the ocean, and the room itself, while sparsely decorated, reminded her a lot of Glory's: hardwood floors, window seat, pretty floral wallpaper. It could seem like home to her... if the room and she were back in Swans Crossing with all her friends.

"My first real bedroom," she commented out loud. She walked over to her desk, which was empty except for one thing. She opened up the drawer and took out the photo of her and Jimmy which was taken at the post-concert party. They were dancing very close to one another, and both seemed lost in each other’s eyes. I don't even look like the same person, Callie mused, studying her happy and romantic smile. There was something in Jimmy's expression, too. He looked so smitten.

Callie threw the photo back into the desk. "What a joke! If he had really cared, he would have come to my goodbye party," she muttered. She left her bedroom, and entered the living room. Her father was awake, and was hovering over one of the aquariums feeding the tropical fish.

"Good morning Callie! What do you think of your new home?" he asked, his voice sounding uncharacteristically cheery.

"It's okay," she replied, sitting down at the kitchen table. Out of habit, she grabbed a muffin off the table and chewed on it. It had no taste. "Hey, Dad?"

"Yes?" he said, joining her in the kitchen.

"You came around the Brazilian coast last summer when you left for two weeks and I stayed at the Booth's," she began.

Captain Walker smiled at his daughter. "Why yes, I did."

She furrowed her eyebrows in thought. "Did you know we were moving here?"

"Well, no," his voice faltered, and Callie stared at him in suspicion.

"Then it was just a coincidence that we end up moving to the same place you visited last summer?"

He rested his hand on her shoulder. "Nothing in life, my dear, is a coincidence," he told her. There was an awkward pause. "I have a proposition you might be interested in," Captain Walker said suddenly, quickly changing the subject, which Callie duly noted.

"What's that?" she asked, trying to conjure up some interest, which was quite a task.

"My colleague has a son and daughter your age. They're twins. I thought you might want to meet some new people here in Rio De Janerio, so I invited them over."

Callie shrugged. "Sure, why not?" she replied in an unenthusiastic voice, rising up from the table. "I'll go get ready." She pushed in her chair and headed over to her bedroom, while Captain Walker stared after her with concern.

Sydney looked out her window, and saw that the Fabian shade was pulled down. A few weeks ago, she would have winced at this sight, but now she was eagerly grabbing her white cardigan and racing out the door to No Man's Land.

She smiled widely when she saw Garrett standing on the other side of the wall.

"It's good to see you," she said in a low voice.

He smiled back at her. "You too, but there was something I wanted to talk to you about."

"What?" Sydney asked.

"Just a small favor," Garrett explained.

Her smile slowly faded. "How small?" she asked pointedly.

"Don't worry, you don't have to do this if you don't want to, but I was wondering if you could break up Mila and J.T."

Sydney lowered her eyes. It's always about Mila! she thought angrily. "Why?"

Garrett sensed that Sydney was feeling some jealousy. "It's for Glory. She feels pretty bad about J.T. and Mila hooking up, and I thought you might be able to do something about it."

Sydney tapped a manicured finger against her cheek. "Hmm..." Her mind wandered back to the conversation she and Mila had had right before Callie’s goodbye party.

Mila joined Sydney at the window seat, and noticed that Sydney was staring at the Booth house. "Why are you looking over there?" she asked, wrinkling her nose disdainfully.

When Sydney didn't respond, a familiar look crossed Mila's face.

"What are you looking at?" Sydney asked with a smirk.

"Who is that?" Mila questioned her, trying to sound casual. She was staring at Grant Booth.

"Well, I guess Grant's in town," she stated.

"Grant?" Mila repeated, still looking at the young man on the porch talking to Garrett.

Sydney nodded. "Grant is Garrett and Glory's older brother," Sydney gave Mila a knowing look. "Much older," she added.

"What are you talking about, Sydney?" she asked with mock innocence, and the two dissolved into fits of laughter.

"Perfect!" Sydney exclaimed, coming up with an idea.

"What? What is it?" Garrett asked.

"I can't say right now, but trust me, J.T. Adams and Mila Rosnovsky will be splitsville before Homecoming." Sydney beamed at him, and raised her eyebrows. "I guarantee it."

Mila and J.T. sat at the library together that evening. Mila was hunched over her science book, trying to make sense of the periodic table. J.T. was busily scribbling away in a notebook.

Mila shut the science book and opened another book on the table. "Hey J.T., listen to this." She cleared her throat and began reading from the book. "'How like winter hath my absence been, from thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen! What old December's bareness everywhere'!" Mila recited from her collection of Shakespearean sonnets.

"That's beautiful," J.T. commented, but his mind was elsewhere. The sonnet Mila had just read reminded him of Glory. The absence he felt between them was like a winter, and the days without her were dark.

He suddenly got an idea, and flipped the notebook to a clean page and started jotting something down.

"What are you writing?" Mila asked, looking up from the sonnets.

J.T.'s cheeks flushed. "Um, nothing," he said, quickly crumpling his paper up. "Nothing at all."

Callie entered the living room after she had showered and dressed, and noticed that two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were sitting on the couch. She groaned inwardly.

"Your, uh, father let us in," the girl explained, busily playing with the ends of her long, dark hair. "I'm Ana Tava," she introduced herself, extending her arm.

Callie shook the girl's hand. "Hi, I'm Callie Walker."

"And this," Ana said, motioning to the good-looking, dark-haired boy beside her, "is my brother Pedro."

Callie shook Pedro's hand as well. There was a long, awkward silence.

"So, uh, you're from the U.S.," Pedro stated.

"Yeah," Callie replied. "I mean, I've lived all over, but Swans Crossing, Maine is where I came from most recently." She then noticed that Ana and Pedro had slight American accents. "Have you guys ever been to the states?"

Ana nodded. "Oh yeah, a lot, actually. Our mother is from the West Coast. She met my father, who is a Brazilian, there when he was on vacation. They got married and moved here. Pedro and I were born here but we visit my mother's family in the U.S. a lot."

Callie nodded. "How interesting. It's nice that you get to experience both cultures."

"Yes, but I would hate to have to move a lot," Pedro told her sympathetically.

"Yeah, it's not the best of situations..." Callie's voice trailed off. She became lost in thought, and was having a hard time concentrating on what the two were saying. For some reason, thoughts of Jimmy kept drifting in and out of her mind, and she suddenly recalled a conversation she had had with him at the Tool n' Die one summer night:

"Have you ever missed someone you're close to?" Callie asked Jimmy.

An image of someone he cared about flashed in his mind. "Guess you don't know too much about me," he said.

"Well, you're not exactly volunteering any information," she remarked with a small laugh.

Jimmy suddenly grew uncomfortable, as he always did when he was forced to talk about his feelings. "Stay off that ankle, okay?" he told Callie, who had spained her ankle that afternoon.

"Right," she agreed as he lifted her up on the table so she could sit down. "So, who is it that you miss?" she asked, feeling curious.

Jimmy looked up at her slowly. "My older brother Johnny," he admitted.

"I've never heard you talk about him before," Callie said.

"Yeah, well, I think about him all the time," Jimmy told her.

"Are you guys close?"

"Yeah, he taught me how to pitch, play hockey, take apart a bike and put it back together with one hand tied behind my back."

"Where is he at now?"

"He's on assignment. He's a photo journalist, he's been gone for months," he explained.

"When was the last time you saw him?" Callie asked.

"Three months ago," Jimmy replied. "He was photographing the tamarinds of the Brazilian rainforests."

"Hey," Callie said to the Pedro and Ana, coming up with an idea. "You wouldn't happen to know of any American photo journalists here... do you?"

Pedro and Ana gave Callie an odd look. "No," Ana answered. "Why do you want to know?"

Callie's face fell, and she quickly pushed the thought of Jimmy and his older brother out of her mind. "No reason."

Nancy and her new friend Kevin were in the tack room at the stables. Nancy was grooming Spice while Kevin was doing his chores. She felt herself smiling inside. She couldn't believe how Kevin was listening to every word she was saying, and not ignoring her like the guys in her group.

"So, what time are you out of here?" she asked him, finding herself lost while looking into his hazel eyes.

"Um, actually, I have a thirty minute break coming up in five minutes. You want to go down to Swans Crossing and we can go to the soda shop you've been telling me about?" Kevin asked with a bright smile.

Nancy felt her stomach do somersaults. She couldn't believe he was actually asking her out! But before she answered, her mind wandered back to the conversation she, Sydney, and Mila, had had at lunch the other day.

Nancy smiled shyly. "Well, I think that I might have an idea," she told Sydney and Mila after they had asked her who she was taking to the Homecoming dance.

"Ah, the mystery man from the stables?" Sydney teased.

Mila grinned. "What mystery man?"

Nancy beamed, enjoying the attention she was getting. "Actually, he's not so much of a mystery anymore. I know his name now."

"Well, spill it!" Sydney urged.

"His name is Kevin Hall, and his family just moved here from Arizona," she stated.

"Does he go to SCH?" Mila asked casually.

"No," Nancy replied slowly.

"Where, then?" Sydney inquired. "Don't keep anything from us, Nancy dear."

"He, uh, goes to Newport," Nancy told them in a small voice.

Mila and Sydney looked at each other and started laughing. "Nancy! You can't be serious," Sydney remarked.

"Oh, and why not?" she asked testily.

"Because!" Sydney exclaimed between gasps. "Newport? We're playing Newport during Homecoming! Even you aren't that low!"

If Nancy walked into Swans Soda Shop with Kevin, and someone recognized him as a student at Newport High, she would be ruined. "Um, I would love to go out," she said in her most charming voice. "But I go to Swans all the time. Why don't we go get something to eat somewhere around here?"

Kevin smiled and nodded. "No problem." He took her arm. "Let's go!"

At school the following day, Glory walked through the halls sadly. Yesterday had been so confusing. She had wanted J.T., but had been so angry with him all at the same time. But maybe Garrett was going to be able to do something about it.

"Hi Glory!" a voice exclaimed. She looked up, and saw Neil standing beside her.

"Hey Neil," she replied.

"Where are you headed?" he asked.

She shrugged. "Gotta go to my first period algebra class."

Neil smiled at her. "That's on the second floor. I'm headed that way, I'll walk you."

Glory gave him a confused look, but didn't disagree. They walked up the stairs, and passed one of the brightly colored posters advertising the Homecoming dance.

"Ugh, not that time of year again," Neil muttered.

"What, you don't like Homecoming?" Glory asked him with a laugh.

"Oh please, does it sound like something I would enjoy? Having to go to some silly game, and then get all dressed up just to go to some dance with a girl?" He shook his head in distaste.

"I probably won't end up going this year either," Glory commented glumly.

"Why not?"

She rolled her eyes. "Neil," she began, crossing her arms in front of her. Then an idea struck her. "Unless..."

"Unless what?" he asked.

"Unless you want to go together."

Chapter Twenty

Neil was silent for a minute. Glory figured he wasn't going to accept her invitation to the Homecoming dance, so she quickly told him, "It will be strictly as friends, you know."

Neil surprised her by answering, "Sure Glory. As long as you don't feel weird about J.T. and everything."

Glory caught sight of J.T. holding Mila's books and walking her to class. She quickly turned away and smiled. "J.T. who?"

Sydney and Mila were sitting in their second period geometry class. Mr. Pahl had given them some free time, so the two were huddled together in the corner of the room. Garrett kept shooting glances in Sydney's direction, trying to see how her plan to break Mila and J.T. up was working.

"So, Mila, who do you think you're going to Homecoming with?" Sydney asked casually, doodling on her folder.

"Well, I mean, I guess J.T. and I will go. We've been... hanging out together lately," Mila said with a smile.

Sydney shook her head disapprovingly. "Mila, Mila, Mila. Whatever happened to 'Sisters Forever'?"

Mila gave Sydney a confused look. "What do you mean?"

"I mean at your slumber party last summer, we made an oath never to let any guy get in the way of our friendships. How do you think Glory feels about seeing you and J.T. together?" Sydney asked pointedly.

Mila squirmed in her seat. "I guess I never really thought of that."

Sydney smiled, and acted as if a wonderful idea had just hit her. "Mila! Why don't you ask Grant Halsey Booth the third?"

Sydney could see a slight blush creep across Mila's skin. "You think I should ask Grant?"

"Yes!" Sydney clapped her hands together. "It will be perfect!"

"But he's a college guy. And he's Garrett's brother," Mila argued.

"He's adopted. His parents weren't even married when he was born. They adopted him when he was about four or something. So he doesn't really have any Booth blood in him," Sydney told her.

"What's he like?" Mila questioned her, caving a little.

"Well, he's a nice guy. I never really knew him since he is usually away at school," Sydney explained. "But he seems to me that he's much more like his sister. Garrett says he's ‘perfect'."

Mila sighed. "But do you really think that he would go to a silly little school dance with a fifteen year old?"

Sydney smiled. "I'll figure out a way."

After third period, Jimmy ran into Garrett. "Hey!" he shouted in his direction.

"Jimmy, hi!" Garrett greeted him. "You sure seem to be in an okay mood. After Callie leaving and everything, I would have expected you to be in hiding for a few weeks. Where were you at her party?"

Jimmy's expression darkened. "It's a long story."

"I bet it is." Garrett laughed.

"Anyway," Jimmy said, quickly changing the subject. "I have a favor to ask you."

Garrett shrugged. "Sure, what is it?"

"I was wondering if maybe you could keep an eye on the Tool n' Die for me for a few days while I take a vacation," Jimmy explained.

"Vacation? Where are you going?" he asked.

Jimmy raised his eyebrows suggestively at his friend. "Brazil."

Garrett laughed, and gave him a high five. "All right! Yeah, I guess I can keep an eye on the shop for awhile, but I don't know much about machines."

Jimmy was already heading down the hallway. "It's okay, I'll get Saja to help you. Thanks!"

Garrett rolled his eyes. "Saja?"

It was early evening in Brazil, and Callie was in the garage of her house working on her motor bike. The events of the day kept replaying in her head. She was glad her father had introduced her to Pedro and Ana; at least it kept her mind off of Swans Crossing... and Jimmy.

"Hey, Callie," a male voice said. Callie sat up, and saw Pedro standing before her.

"Hi," she replied, quickly wiping some grease off of her cheek. Pedro was silent for a moment, and she saw a look on his face, one she had seen before. He nervously shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

"I, uh, was wondering if maybe tomorrow you'd like to do something?" he sputtered out.

Callie opened her mouth to turn him down, thinking she would have to go to school the next day, but then she remembered that summer vacation was just beginning in Brazil. Pedro's eyes looked down at her hopefully.

Before Callie responded, her mind wandered back to a time in the middle of the summer. She and Jimmy had been goofing around at the Tool n' Die, and then he had given her a look, the same look Pedro was giving her now, and had asked her on their first date to the Swan Club dance. A small smile spread across her face as she remembered this moment.

Yeah, Callie, and then he ditched you to be with Sophia, she amended silently. And then he ditched you again and didn't go to your party, even after Saja called him.

Callie looked up at Pedro and plastered a fake smile on her face. "Sure, why not?"

Mayor Rutledge paced the halls of the Rutledge mansion, mumbling her campaign speech out loud.

"Mother?" Sydney called hesitantly, walking into the living room.

Mayor Rutledge looked up at her daughter, and gave her a strained smile. "Hello dear. I'm just practicing my speech. I can't believe the big day is tomorrow," she remarked, speaking of the mayoral election.

Sydney gave her mother a sympathetic look. "Will what happened last week affect the outcome of the election?" she asked, her voice wavering. It wasn't until now that it occurred to her the scandal might cost her mother the election. Something her mother had said to her after Mila was caught with Billy Gunn rang in her ears.

Scandal of any kind can ruin an election.

Mayor Rutledge tried to smile. "Well, this scandal affects both candidates, so I guess it depends on who handles it the best. And I plan to charm the votes out of everyone."

"That's the spirit!" Sydney exclaimed, trying her best to sound enthusiastic. "So do you want to read me some of your speech?"

"Actually, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to take the day off from school tomorrow and come with me to make my speech, and maybe even help out at the polls. It would do wonders for my image if you were helping the community vote."

Sydney smiled slowly. She gave her mother a hug. "Of course Mother, anything to help you win!"

Garrett scowled at his brother across the dining room table. "Why did you ask him to help out at the polls and not me?" he questioned Mr. Booth.

Garrett's father looked crossly at his youngest son. "I think you've done more than enough to help my campaign, young man."

Garrett now turned his angry look towards his sister. "And her?"

"Glory wanted to help out, so I said she could," Mr. Booth replied. Glory ate her dinner in silence.

"Grant, dear, maybe we ought to let Garrett come out and help," Mrs. Booth bargained. "I mean, after all, the whole family will be at the polls. Won't it look sort of strange if all the Booths are there and Garrett isn't?"

"Well, I guess that doesn't matter to Dad. He would be happy if I wasn't even part of the Booths." Garrett stood up from his chair and put his napkin on his plate. "If you will excuse me, I seem to have lost my appetite."

Sandy paced around the studio, carrying a stack of papers in her hands. "We get a thirty minute set," she explained to Owen, who was sitting at the drumset, and Mila, who was perched in a chair near the keyboard. "Now, we have to decide which songs we want to sing, and in what order. Should we do what we did at the concert, or put together something new?"

"Something new," Mila supplied. "There's a good chance that there will be some people who saw the concert at the club."

Sandy nodded, and made some notes on her pad of paper. "Well, you're right, that should work." She paused, and said happily, "Can you believe were actually going to be playing a real club? It's so exciting."

Owen smiled. "I heard our song twice on the radio this morning."

"And I heard it on the way home from school!" Mila added excitedly.

Just then, Saja came barreling through the door. "Hey guys!" he greeted the three.

"Great, our fearless manager," Owen muttered under his breath.

A smile spread across Sandy's face. "Saja! I'm so glad you're here! We were just discussing what we want to sing at the gig on Saturday."

Saja came over to her side and eyed her notes. "Great, well, it looks like you guys really have this under control."

"Right," Mila said, bending down and scooping up her school books. "And since it's all under control I probably have to get home and start this awful math homework." She laughed. "I don't know how I will ever get used to this!" She made her way to the door, and Owen jumped up from his seat.

"I'll come with you. Why don't we stop at Swans and get soda? We can study together there," Owen suggested.

Mila grinned. "It sounds great!" She linked arms with him. "Come on, let's go."

The two waved goodbye and headed up the stairs.

Sandy realized her situation now, and quickly busied herself with the stack of papers.

Saja cleared his throat. "Hey Sandy?"

"Yeah?" she said, looking up at him.

"I'm really glad you asked me to be your manager. This is really fun," he told her with a smile.

"Better than being a ninja warrior?" she teased.

Saja laughed, and shrugged. "Um, maybe a little. Hey, I was wondering, do you have a date to the Homecoming dance?"

Sandy tried not to show her surprise. "Uh... me? No, no I don't."

"Well, what do you say you and I go together?" he asked, switching his weight from one foot to the other.

Sandy was silent for a moment. Oh my gosh! He's asking me to the dance! a voice inside her head screamed. "Sure, that sounds pretty good. Great, really," she stuttered.

"Well, I just stopped by to ask you that. I gotta run for now, but we'll talk later," Saja said, hesitating for a moment.

On the other side of the room, Owen came back into the studio. He had forgotten his backpack, but when he saw Saja and Sandy talking closely he stayed in the doorway.

"Okay. I can't wait," Sandy said.

"Me neither." Saja hesitated again, and then leaned towards her. He lightly kissed her cheek, and then headed up the stairs. Owen quickly exited the studio again, in shock of what he had just seen.

Sandy flopped down in a chair and let out a sigh of happiness.

Nancy clutched her books to her chest and smiled. A few faces were missing amongst the crowd at school the next day, namely Sydney. Nancy was getting a little annoyed at the way Sydney was ragging on Kevin, and the fact that she was just the least bit interested in someone from Newport.

As Nancy walked to her locker, she noticed the colorful posters advertising the Homecoming dance. She let herself fantasize for just a minute about what it would be like to take Kevin. After the game Nancy would go home, or maybe get together with the girls, and get ready for the dance. She would wear a long, flowing dress, and have her hair up. Kevin would ring the door bell, wearing a tuxedo, and bearing flowers.

"Nancy?" Mila called, coming up behind her.

Nancy sighed. She didn't want her fantasy to be interrupted. "Hi Mila," she grumbled.

"Hi. So are you ready for our big math test?"

Nancy tore her eyes from the Homecoming poster and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."

They walked to their next class together, and Nancy continued with her daydreaming.

Sydney sat behind a table, organizing the voting registry as people came in to cast their ballots. Her mother had left her some time ago to go make some speeches and statements to the press. It had pained her to hear some of her mother’s speech, which was mainly damage control for everything she had done.

Sydney looked up, ready to hand out another "I voted" sticker, when she saw the Booth’s walk in. Mr. Booth was not with the rest of his family, so Sydney figured he was probably out trying to repair his campaign, just like her mother.

From across the room she could see the look in Garrett's eyes. He couldn't very well come over and talk to her since he was with his mother, Glory, and Grant, but he gave her a half-smile, and winked. Sydney grinned back.

Whatever the outcome of the election, she was happier than she had been in months.

Jimmy came running around the corner on his last day of school before going to Brazil, and ran right into Saja.

"Hey, where are you off to?" Saja asked, bending down to pick up the books and papers he spilled.

Jimmy grinned. "Brazil," he answered.

Saja's brown eyes widened. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah. I mean, after the way Callie and I fought before she left, I have to do something," he explained.

"A wise idea, my friend," Saja agreed.

"So, I was uh, wondering. Do you think you could help Garrett run the Tool n' Die while I'm gone?"

Saja contemplated this for a moment. "Hmm, morphing into my next life. Bobby DeCastro, world renowned gearhead." Jimmy laughed, and Saja continued. "But then again, I have already agreed to be Bobby DeCastro, smooth talking music manager."

"Huh?" Jimmy asked, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion.

"Oh, I am now officially the manager of Sandy, Mila, and Owen's band," Saja told him.

Jimmy gave Saja a knowing smile. "That's really great." He paused, and then added suggestively, "Now if only I can make things right with Callie."

Saja raised his hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, I'll watch the shop for you. But I must warn you that I have no expertise in this field."

Once again, Jimmy was already off and running. "No problem. Thanks Saja!"

Callie stood in front of an exhibit, trying to conjure up some interest. Pedro and Ana had taken her to a museum to show her some of the history of Rio De Janeiro. It was just the kind of thing that would interest her, if her mind wasn't thousands of miles away.

For some reason, Callie couldn't just adapt to this new situation. She had spent her entire life moving from country to country, all over the world, and all she needed was a little excitement and her father to keep her company. But something had changed her when she lived in Swans Crossing. She had let herself open up to people. Sure, there are a lot of things they don't know about me, Callie thought to herself. But still, Swans Crossing had really felt like home. A lot of good it did me, she mused bitterly.

Interrupting her thoughts was Pedro, who, she just noticed, had gently taken her hand. Her first instinct was to quickly drop it. He wasn't her boyfriend, and they had only known each other a few days. But she didn't do anything. What did it matter? Things with Jimmy were over and done with whether she liked it or not, so why not let Pedro hold her hand?

Later that evening, Sydney and her mother stood at the side of the concert stage, eyeing each other nervously. On the other side of the stage were the Booth's, looking equally nervous. Sydney could see her mother's lips forming the words from her concession speech. Sydney did not find this to be a good sign.

"Mother? Do you really think you're going to lose?" Sydney asked incredulously.

Mayor Rutledge looked at her daughter anxiously. "I don't really know anymore. I just don't know."

The P.A. system screeched with feedback. This was it, they were about to announce who won the election!

Mayor Rutledge grasped Sydney's hand, and held her breath. Sydney felt guilty, but she couldn't help but look over at Garrett to see how he was taking this. She spotted his father making a silent prayer and hugging his family.

"And now, I would like to announce who the winner of Swans Crossing's 1992 mayoral election is..."