|Primary Characters:||Quinn, Colin, Rembrandt, Maggie|
|Warning:||m/m sex, incest|
|Description:||There’s a lot of sexual tension going around in the Sliders group. Some of them do things they shouldn’t.|
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before
Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before Let your soul take you where you long to be Only then can you belong to me
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication Touch me, trust me, savour each sensation Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
The Music Of The Night (The Phantom Of The Opera)
“Guys, it’s been fun, but I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.”
“Come on, Maggie, the night is still young. The party isn’t over yet. Besides, if you hog that room, there’s only going to be one left for the three of us. And even more importantly, only one bed.”
“Oh, no, you don’t, Quinn. You’re not sharing my bed. But look, Remmy’s asleep right here on the sofa. So that just leaves the Mallory brothers. Sleep tight. And sweet dreams.”
“Wait. It’s not fair.”
“I know it isn’t, but it isn’t my fault that this world’s Chandler Hotel has sort of shrunk. Night, night, boys. Don’t knock on my door, it’s a girl only zone inside.”
Maggie walked off, waving maddeningly over her shoulder. Quinn knew it was against the rules, but he had been hoping she’d make an exception just for tonight. He wasn’t in love, and he knew she wasn’t either, but Maggie could handle it. Women needed sex too, didn’t they? He was about to turn to his brother and ask him that question out loud, but he caught himself just in time. Colin wouldn’t know. As far as Quinn knew, his brother was a virgin. Somehow, it suited him. It just made him look even sweeter, all that innocense.
“Looks like it’s just you and me, bro. Are you coming?”
Colin was standing over Remmy, pulling up the blanket over him. That was nice of him. It would never have occurred to Quinn.
“Alright, Quinn. Maggie’s right. It’s late, and we slide tomorrow. We’d better get some sleep.”
“Not until nearly 2 p m. But ok. I guess I’m tired too. You don’t move about a lot in your sleep, I hope?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never slept in the same room with anyone. Except when I was a baby, and my foster mother never said anything about it.”
Just as Quinn had thought. A virgin. A big, tall, cute virgin. The thought was somehow hilarious and touching at the same time. But he managed to hide his grin from his brother. He couldn’t hurt his feelings. Quinn had been a virgin too, quite a bit longer than he had wanted to be. So he knew it was no laughing matter.
Colin continued acting in character, by turning his back while removing his jeans, shirt and socks. At least he didn’t bother putting on that ridiculous pyjama. By the time his brother was finished undressing, Quinn was already under the covers, wearing his shorts and nothing else.
It was funny, they could have shared a room all their lives, but because their parents had left them on different worlds to ensure their safety, they had grown up as strangers. As soon as Quinn heard his brother’s calm breathing announce that he was fast asleep, he turned and faced Colin.
His little brother looked so peaceful in his sleep. So innocent, so beautiful. Quinn had to fight down the urge to reach out and smooth away that lock of hair that kept falling into Colin’s eyes. It was time they were asleep. Maggie and Colin were both right. They would be sliding tomorrow and it wouldn’t do to oversleep, and miss the slide.
Quinn was dreaming about Wade. She was lying in bed next to him, on her side, facing him. Wearing nothing but her panties. It was the most beautiful sight Quinn had ever seen. Now she was moving closer, so close that she was touching him. And he loved her touch. He could feel his body responding to the proximity.
Suddenly he became aware of something not feeling quite right. He had to open his eyes and look, because that’s not the way a woman’s body should feel. Quinn had never felt that particular hardness press into him, but the sensation was unmistakable. This wasn’t Wade, it was Colin. His own brother. The problem was, even if his mind knew it, his body didn’t.
It was too late to do anything about it, except move away ever so slightly, careful not to wake his brother. They would both die of shame if they had to face this incident. But rather than lying awake for a long time, while his body cooled off, Quinn decided to do something about it. Colin had better not be awake to see this. He would definitely die if Colin found out.
Quinn didn’t want to look, but he could hear that his brother was doing the same thing he was. Could he really be doing that if he was asleep? Yes, he probably could. Quinn remembered nights like this, in his own room, when he was a teenager. Waking up with all the telltale signs. Oh, yes, it was possible. And a good thing too. Quinn hadn’t lost his virginity until he was almost 21. There were a good many years that would have been nearly intolerable without this kind of remedy.
Though it was the last thing Quinn wanted, he found the idea of doing this so close to another person exciting. It was easy to get carried away, but at the moment of release, he bit his lip hard, so he wouldn’t make any sound that might wake Colin. If the sounds he was making himself wasn’t enough to do that. Finally, Quinn could go back to sleep, and this time there weren’t any dreams that he could recall afterwards.
Maggie and Quinn had felt like going out that night. To some really fancy place for once. They had asked the others to join them, but both Colin and Rembrandt had said no. Rembrandt wanted to catch a concert on tv, and Colin told them he’d keep him company. It should have been a wonderful night, but instead it became merely a night to remember, one that neither one of them would ever forget.
Maggie met a really handsome young man. From the first time they caught sight of each other across the crowded room, they didn’t leave each other’s side. Quinn had been hoping Maggie would finally understand that they both needed each other. That even if they didn’t love each other that way, what they could give each other far outweighed any complications it might cause in the group.
But he was forced to sit at his table watching Maggie dancing with that stud, while he got angrier and drunker by the minute. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and he stormed out. Watching tv with Remmy and his brother would be better than this. Far better.
“I don’t believe it. How could they cancel the concert just like that? Damn.”
“I’m sorry, Remmy.”
“Now what? Oh, let’s check out the other channels.”
Zapping from channel to channel, Rembrandt finally found one that he liked. But would Colin be ok about watching something this hot? Rembrandt gave him a sideways glance. To his surprise, Colin couldn’t take his eyes off the screen. Apparently he had never seen anything like what the two people were doing together.
Normally, Rembrandt would be too embarrassed to be watching something like this in someone’s company, unless the other person was his lover. It had just been far too long. The sounds that couple was making were only too stimulating. Rembrandt could feel his own breathing picking up.
Again he glanced over to Colin, and to his embarrassment, Colin was looking back at him in a rather disturbing way. As if he was evaluating the situation. It was also only too obvious that Colin was just as aroused as Rembrandt was. There was no mistaking that look, the sound of his breathing and those flushed cheeks.
It was against everything the Sliders stood for, breaking every rule they’d ever made. But suddenly all Rembrandt wanted was to touch that face. He wanted to pull Colin closer and – What was he thinking? No. He couldn’t do this. But he wanted to. Rembrandt tried to reason with himself. Don’t go there. Is Colin up for this? – You won’t know until you try. – Even if he is, you can’t do it. – There’s nothing else for me out here. I don’t care what the others think.
Colin’s voice sounded husky and his breathing was ragged. Rembrandt didn’t know what to say, so instead he let his hands do the talking. And Colin didn’t make any move to get away from him. Encouraged by that, Rembrandt moved on. He pulled Colin closer and put his arm around him. Still no resistance.
Unable to hold back any longer, Rembrandt tilted Colin’s face back and began exploring that generous mouth with his own. The way Colin’s pliant form felt in his arms was irresistible, but Rembrandt had to know that he had Colin’s consent. He sensed that the young man was inexperienced, and Rembrandt had never forced himself on anyone, boy or girl.
“I won’t do this against your will. You’ll have to tell me you want this, or I’ll stop.”
“Don’t stop. I don’t want you to.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know what to do for you.”
“That’s ok. Just leave everything to me. I’ll show you what to do. As long as you know what you’re agreeing to.”
“I think I do. You’ll just have to be patient with me. I don’t want to disappoint you.”
“Don’t worry, you won’t. Just trust me.”
“Yes, Remmy, I do.”
“Come on then. Better do it right. Let’s go to my room.”
Rembrandt just loved the way Colin looked as he slowly, as if deliberately sexy, walked ahead of him into his room. Once inside, he lay down on the bed, looking up at Rembrandt with the most enticing smile on his lips. The tip of his tongue shot out and licked the luscious lips and Rembrandt couldn’t supress a moan. He had wanted to make it last, to enjoy the experience to the full. To see Colin sensuously undress before him.
But it was too late. Now all he wanted to do was to lose himself in the hard, smooth young body beneath him. Careful not to rush his young lover, Rembrandt sat down on the bed and began undressing Colin more quickly than he would have liked, but far too slowly for his own taste. He loved the way Colin lay there passively, waiting for the older man’s cue. At last, some bare skin. With a low groan, Rembrandt buried his face against Colin’s chest. In the ensuing wrestling, Colin’s last garments fell to the floor.
They didn’t even hear the door slam. Not until the door to Rembrandt’s room was opened, and someone came in did the sounds filter through to them. Rembrandt looked up to find his friend Quinn standing over him like a fury. The rage in Quinn’s eyes was almost frightening in its intensity. With a sound like a wolf’s growling, Quinn cannoned into Rembrandt, tackling him to the floor. The younger man’s fists rained blows all over his friend’s body. Rembrandt couldn’t even hold up his arms to fend this raving madman off. Weakened after the sex, he couldn’t put up much of a fight.
Finally, when all traces of resistance had gone out of the older man, Quinn turned away from him without a word. His brother was lying on the bed, naked and beautiful. Grabbing Colin by the arm, Quinn dragged him out of Rembrandt’s room, but he didn’t stop until they were in Quinn’s room, with the door slammed shut behind them. Quinn pushed Colin down on the bed and stood over him glowering. His brother hadn’t made a single sound in all that time. There had been no resistance.
How could Rembrandt do this? Colin belonged to Quinn. Not anyone else. That old pervert should keep his hands off innocent young people. Like Wade. If it hadn’t been for Rembrandt, she would have – they might have had a chance. Now that chance was lost forever. But Rembrandt wouldn’t have Colin. Not if Quinn could help it. His chest was heaving and his mouth was slightly open.
He couldn’t help staring at the perfect young body on the bed. Colin still didn’t say anything, just continued looking up at Quinn with such a look in his eyes, Quinn couldn’t stop himself from sitting down beside his brother to look more closely. Their gazes locked and something happened to Quinn in that second. Something inside him he hadn’t even known was there, rose up and took control. Whatever it was, didn’t give him any chance to think it over, to reflect on his course of action. When he finally spoke he hardly recognized his own voice.
And his brother answered him.
That was all that was said. Just those two words, but in them everything else was expressed. After that, Quinn’s memories got disjointed. It was as if his mind wasn’t working very well. Some other part of him took over. The old Quinn was drowned out in the flood of emotions spilling over him.
He began touching Colin’s body, wonderingly as if it was entirely new to him. His fingers loved the sensation of the younger man’s skin, still flushed and slick from Rembrandt’s touch. As if wanting to obliterate every trace of Rembrandt on Colin’s skin, Quinn began his exploration of the younger man. He didn’t know when his own clothes were shed, but after a while he became aware of the delicious sensation of skin on skin. Quinn covered Colin’s mouth with his own. The taste excited him even more.
“Remmy, what’s wrong? Is there an intruder in here?”
“No. Just leave me alone. I’ll be fine.”
“But what happened? You look a mess. Did her husband come back and catch you two together?”
“Something like that. Just back off, girl.”
“Oh, ok. I’ll see if I can find you some clothes.”
“Just go. I’ll do that myself.”
“Never mind. I can’t tell you why.”
“You’re not making any sense, Remmy. I think you’re still in a state of shock. Maybe I should call a doctor?”
“No. Now you’re going to listen to me, girl. Let it go.”
“Take it easy. I’ll get out.”
Maggie opened her own door, cautiously, in case whoever had attacked Rembrandt was still around. If only she’d had a gun. She still missed the reassuring weight of her service weapon every time she ended up in this kind of situation. But there was no one in there, and from what she could see, no one had been.
Next stop was Colin’s room, but that was empty too. That was odd. Where could he have gone to this late at night? Emory had driven her back to the hotel in his limousine to save her the cab drive through the empty streets of early morning San Fransisco. It was nearly 6 a m, and a guy like Colin wouldn’t be out at that time.
Outside Quinn’s room, Maggie paused as if in reflection. She couldn’t see Quinn either. Then she heard an unmistakable sound from inside the room. Caught between the wish to be polite and her increasing concern, she hesitated. Then she decided that she could always apologize later. She had to learn the truth about what had occurred on the first night in months she had been away from the others.
Silently she pushed open the door and peered through. The rooms weren’t large enough to hide anything. What she saw on that bed surprised even Maggie. Being a war veteran, and a seasoned interdimensional traveller had provided her with many experiences but in no way prepared her for the reality of the situation she walked into.
Not knowing what to say, she backed out again. Her face was a study in perplexity. What was going on? These things simply didn’t happen. Or did they? Absently, she sat down on the sofa, deep in thought.
The arrival of Rembrandt, looking ashamed, and unhappy, startled her out of her daze.
“Remmy, what’s going on? Can you explain this to me?”
“Tell me what happened.”
“Oh, girl, I wish to god nothing had happened. I’m so ashamed of myself.”
“You can tell me anything, you know that. We’ve been friends for a long time.”
“I know. This is just something so personal, and it’s really not anything I’ve been wanting to face.”
“It’s ok. Whatever it is, won’t change the way I feel about you.”
“Alright. Maggie, tonight Colin and I – we made love.”
“You and Colin? But -“
“I know. You don’t need to tell me.”
“I didn’t know you were -“
“I guess I didn’t want to tell you. Besides, most of the time it is women. It’s just that once in a while, it’s been a guy.”
“Ok. That’s ok, Remmy. But it still doesn’t explain what I walked into just a moment ago. What happened after you and Colin – after – afterwards.”
“That’s what was so completely inexplicable. Quinn walked into my room and basically tore me off the bed and beat me into the floor. I didn’t stand a chance. This new Quinn – you’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Want to bet? You’ll never guess what I just walked into. Do you think he might have been jealous?”
“That’s the only reason I can think of. I mean, he’d hardly be pleased to catch his little brother in bed with another man, best friend or not, but if that had been all, surely we could have discussed this in a mature way? Maggie, I swear to you, I didn’t force Colin. He wanted this as much as I did. I made sure of that.”
“I believe you, Remmy. Oh. This is so confusing. One moment everything is great, the next the whole world falls apart around you. And it’s not as if it’s the first time either.”
“I have a nasty suspicion I know what you’re going to tell me. But do it anyway. What did you see?”
“I think you already know. They were in bed together. Quinn and Colin. You figure out the rest. I’ve never heard of anything like it. Sure, some stepfathers might take advantage of their kids, even their sons. Even biological fathers, and mothers too. But two brothers?”
“I had these vocalists. Twins. Those guys were a bit too close for it to be merely platonic between them.”
“Oh, I guess I’ve heard about that too. Especially when it’s one of each, you know, a boy and a girl.”
“It’s unnatural. How dare he come into my room without knocking and snatch Colin away and do this to him? The Quinn I thought I knew wasn’t a pervert.”
“Remmy, I’m as shocked as you are, but we’ve got to keep an open mind. They didn’t grow up together, and for all I know, Quinn hadn’t had any sex since we started sliding. Do you know anything about that?”
“Yes, I do. He hasn’t. We used to whine about it a little, when you weren’t around.”
“And I’m pretty sure Colin’s never had any at all. It may seem unnatural to us, but we have to try and understand. The way our lives have been since we began sliding. Being alone like this with no one else to turn to.”
“Then what about you and me, girl?”
“What about us? I don’t have a brother.”
“I did. There were seven of us. And I’d rather die than have sex with one of them. The girls too, of course.”
“On the other hand, you’ve had a few girlfriends since we began sliding, haven’t you?”
“That’s not the point.”
“I’ve scored a few times myself. Besides, they’re guys. Young guys.”
“Then they have to deal with it the way men always have over the years, when they’ve found themselves without women. Or boyfriends.”
“You mean like in prison? Or a boarding school?”
“That’s not the same thing, and you know it. Or are you suggesting Quinn raped him?”
“No. Of course not. Colin’s a big boy. Quinn just couldn’t – I mean, he couldn’t, could he? Remmy?”
“I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know. Girl, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what to tell you. We should ask them about it. Confront them.”
“Do you think you could do that?”
“You’re damned right, I do. And you’re going to back me up, aren’t you?”
“No. This thing is so alien. So insane. If we push them for an answer, we might just force them right over the edge. Don’t do it, Remmy. Please. Whatever they’ve done, I still love them. Just wait a while and see if they come to their senses. Perhaps, they’ll be able to bring it up themselves. “
“That’s a lot to ask. But maybe you’re right. Oh, ok, I’ll leave it for the time being. You probably know best.”
Quinn woke up first the next day, with a pounding headache. He couldn’t remember anything about the night before. When he turned around, he saw that someone was lying next to him. Surely he should have been able to remember something like that? As he was about to whisper: Maggie – , the other person turned around and faced him. No. That wasn’t possible. Except it was.
Colin was the one who was lying in Quinn’s bed, naked, with a contented smile on his lips. He reached out a hand and touched Quinn’s hair and Quinn was lost again. The memories of last night flooded back and the excitement forced down the feelings of remorse and shame. Quinn moved closer and began kissing Colin again, demandingly, now that it was all coming back to him. Colin belonged to him. No one had the right to lay a hand on him.
Much later, when they were too tired to even move, someone knocked on the door. The spell was broken, and they began to look around for something to wear. Raiding Quinn’s closet they were able to get dressed again, before the door opened.
“Hey guys, we need to go. Time to slide. You’ve only got five minutes. So if you need to pack any stuff, now’s the time.”
“Ok. Give me a minute. I’ll be right out.”
“Yes, I’ll just go to my room and pick up a few things.”
They slided from inside the suite. It wasn’t the first time and at times, like now, it saved time. Maggie and Rembrandt hadn’t had much sleep that night, but they had waited until the last possible minute to wake their friends. What would they say to them?
In the next few worlds, the Mallory brothers pointedly refused to discuss what had occurred that night. Maggie didn’t think they could be unaware of the fact that their secret wasn’t a secret anymore. It didn’t seem to matter.
She couldn’t really blame them. If she had been one of them, she knew that she wouldn’t have been able to find any words to explain the situation either. She supposed that it was the sort of thing that couldn’t be expressed in words. Deep down, though, she agreed with Rembrandt. It was sick and unnatural and she wished she could have had the old Quinn and Colin back somehow.
Where were they? Something had gone wrong with the last slide. Quinn knew it as soon as they entered the vortex. He and Colin had been the last to slide and as they always did now, they had entered the vortex together. They just didn’t seem to arrive anywhere. The slide just kept going on and on for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, they slowed down. Finally, when they felt as if they had been sliding for weeks, they came to a stop.
It was a strange place. Hazy and grey, and somehow insubstantial. At the same time, it was large. Immense even. This space, or rather a system of tunnels, went on forever. There was nothing there, except for the two of them. They went on walking around, searching for a way out, for anything that might give them a clue to where they had ended up, but they never found anything. As they walked around, they became aware of a strange fact. They didn’t need to eat or sleep. Time seemed to pass differently in this singularity, as Quinn decided to call it.
For the first time since the new development in their relationship had come about, they found themselves alone, with time on their hands. In the weeks that had passed since they had been afflicted by this intoxication, they had never been able to discuss the matter. Never been able to refer to it even by a single word.
When they weren’t together, or whenever someone else was present, Quinn didn’t even think about it. His mind shied away from even touching upon the matter.
Colin, on the other hand had given it some thought. He had never felt as fulfilled as when Quinn had fought Rembrandt for him and taken him away. That was surprising, because until what had happened between him and Rembrandt, Colin had never thought that his first time would be with a man. It was Maggie that had been in his dreams ever since he first met her.
Confusingly, also from the first time he’d seen him, Colin had admired his big brother. When he had allowed himself to be seduced by Rembrandt, part of him knew that he had wanted this reaction from Quinn. He had enjoyed provoking this jealous rage in him. It made him feel desirable and loved. It had lit a fire inside him, that even these weeks together had been unable to quench.
Now, when they were alone together, stranded in the middle of nowhere, literally, a kind of lull had fallen over them. As if this place exerted some kind of soothing influence.
Whenever they had been alone in each other’s company, they had been drawn together helplessly. All traces of coherent thought had been washed away in that shameful but dangerously alluring ecstasy.
Now they were themselves again, and had regained the power of thought, the realization of what they had done swept over them.
Quinn’s first reaction was to run away from Colin. Not because he hated him, but because what they had done was beyond his understanding. It was an act so evil he couldn’t believe he had been capable of it. He hadn’t been himself, that was all he could conclude. Something inside him had taken over, and that something had been stronger than his own will, or had the darkness been there all along? Was it an integrated part of him that he had never known existed? How could he have done this?
In all the time since he had become aware of his own sexuality, Quinn had never been attracted to other guys. It wasn’t something he gave much thought, but growing up in San Fransisco he couldn’t remain unaware of the fact that many others felt that way. He had even had a friend or two at college who was decidedly gay. I had just never occurred to him to try. Not even on the night when Miguel Rodriguez had been hitting on him, had he been tempted.
Miguel had been rather feminine, and very pretty in a girlish way. Quinn could even admit that fact to himself. That knowledge simply wasn’t accompanied by any desire to accept the offer, if Miguel had even meant it seriously. Even though that obviously attractive person had done everything in his power to attract Quinn, he had felt not the least stirring of lust for him.
At that particular time, Quinn had been extremely desperate for sex, so he knew for a fact that he wasn’t gay. He had forced himself to face that possibility, and when he had considered it quite seriously, he had come to the conclusion that it simply wasn’t for him.
So why had this happened to him? It was as if a stranger had taken over him, body and soul. Quinn hadn’t been in control, something else, or someone else had been. The thought of that wouldn’t leave him alone. Most of all, he wanted to run and keep on running forever, and if he could he would find some place to hide.
The only problem was that Colin was still with him, and he couldn’t turn his back on him, even when the pain and the remorse were eating him up from inside. They were stuck with each other, for better or for worse, so he might as well face Colin and talk the matter through, once and for all. Maybe his brother had an explanation for him.
Except how could his innocent little brother know anything about what had happened? Actually, not so innocent anymore. Quinn had to remind himself that Rembrandt was the one responsible for that. While it didn’t lessen any of his feelings of guilt, it was a slight comfort that he hadn’t been the first.
“Colin – I guess we have to talk about it. Can you understand why all this happened?”
“Why we ended up here?”
“No. Us. For once I don’t have any interest in physics. This phenomenon can wait. It doesn’t seem as if we’re going anywhere anyway. Do you have any idea of how we could have done what we did?”
“No. I don’t have any explanation, but I want you to know something. I don’t regret anything. This may not have been right, or even meant to be, but now that it did happen, I can’t be sorry for it.”
“How can you say that? What we did was sick. Twisted. Unnatural.”
“Maybe. It’s probably different for you.”
“Why do you say that? Do you think I love you any less than you love me?”
“No. I just meant, you’ve had sex with women in the past. I haven’t.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you’re gay?”
“I don’t think so. It’s just that when Rembrandt -“
“Shut up. Don’t mention that name to me. He had no right to -“
“Did you think he forced me? He didn’t have to. I was happy someone wanted me, and I needed someone too. Then when you came into the room and fought for me, and took me from him, I couldn’t resist it. Part of me had been wanting to make you jealous. I’m sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe this is all my fault.”
“No. We did this together. I would love it if I could find some outsider to blame, but not you. You didn’t do anything I didn’t do. And – though it hurts to admit it – while it lasted I enjoyed it just as much as you did. That’s what I can’t understand. Even if it hadn’t been – even if you were just anyone, I wouldn’t have been attracted to you. I’m not gay either.”
“No. I know you’re not. Sorry, I don’t have any answers for you. Maybe we were insane for a while. Could it be some kind of side effect of sliding? I mean, beginning to act in irrational ways.”
“Maybe. I sure hope so. Even if I wish it could have taken just about any other course than this.”
“Me too, I guess. Just because something feels good, doesn’t mean it’s right. In the world I grew up, they would have said we were committing a sin. Rembrandt and me too. Since meeting you, and the others, I’ve lost my faith. Not that I was much into that even before. Science has been my religion, just like it’s been yours.”
“The worst part is that I’ve known all along that it was wrong. I simply chose to ignore it, because I didn’t want to see. Colin, I’m a monster. A pervert.”
“No, you’re not. Neither am I. We’re just two human beings, with weaknesses, like everyone else. It may have been a mistake, but we’re no monsters.”
“I wish I could see it that way.”
Quinn turned away from Colin and hid his face with his hands in despair. Nothing Colin could say or do would get through to Quinn in his misery.
The only thing that made Maggie doubt the fact that this new Mallory was their Quinn, was the fact that he had no memory of the relationship with Colin. In fact, he had no memory at all of having a brother, and that seemed suspicious to say the least.
But Maggie was no scientist. These timer-related things didn’t tell her anything. What that professor told them didn’t made any sense to her. Diana seemed to buy into those stories but that girl seemed to be very easily taken in.
It was a source of constant amazement to Maggie that people who were considered to be highly intelligent, in fact geniuses, could be naive and gullible enough to believe anything.
What Rembrandt thought she didn’t know. Since the new and terrifying changes had occurred between the Mallory brothers and even more since they had disappeared, Rembrandt had shut himself off from her.
Something seemed to have gone out of him. Nothing they could say or do would change anything, so they had just kept on sliding. The newcomers eventually grew on Maggie, as she got to know them better. After a while she came to accept them as friends and fellow sliders, just like the others. From the start it was obvious how much Mallory and Diana cared about each other, though at first they were reluctant to act on those feelings.
So they went on sliding from world to world. They didn’t have much choice. Or maybe they did, but no one wanted to give up, and unless they all agreed, they couldn’t drop out and remain behind on their own.
Over the months they travelled together, the attraction Diana and Mallory felt for each other grew. To Maggie’s astonishment, Rembrandt didn’t object. Maggie herself was happy for them. If only it hadn’t made her feel so left out.
There was something else that was bothering her too. Now that he was lost to her, she suddenly realized how much Colin’s innocent charm had meant to her. It was bitter to know that she had been the only one not to act on her attraction for him. Why hadn’t she realized sooner how she felt? If she had, maybe the painful conflict might never have occurred.
It was funny. For years they had persuaded themselves that it would be dangerous to the group if any of the members formed lasting relationships of any kind. Especially within the group. But now that two of them were involved with each other, the group still remained intact. Maggie could see how much it helped Diana and Mallory adjust to the constant changes in their lives. In a way, their location ceased to matter, as long as they had each other.
Rembrandt’s behavior was beginning to worry Maggie. She realized that what he had done was weighing on his conscience especially now that he would never have a chance to apologize and make things right with the Mallory brothers. Her heart ached for him, and she wanted to tell him she could understand and she was sure Quinn and Colin would have too. But Rembrandt wasn’t paying attention to her. The loss of his quiet sympathy was as painful to her as the feelings for Colin.
For a long time nothing had happened in the grey void. Then suddenly there was the familiar sound of a vortex closing, and someone falling through the air, or whatever else the void was made up of. The figure remained lying for a while as if too tired to even move, but when Colin walked closer, it sprang back from him, hand shooting to pocket as if in defence.
“Don’t touch me. Stay back.”
“Ok. Don’t worry about it. I’m not an enemy.”
“What are you doing here? In fact, where is here?”
“I have no idea. We slid into this place by mistake, and now we can’t get out of here.”
“You and who else?”
“My brother, Quinn.”
“Did you say Quinn? Quinn Mallory?”
“Yes. Why do you ask?”
“None of your business. Where is he?”
“He’s around somewhere.”
“Call him. Now. I want to see both of you. No tricks.”
“Of course not. We wouldn’t dream of hurting you. Quinn! Get back here, please.”
“Quinn. You have to come back now.”
For a while, Colin didn’t think his brother would come. All that they’d been through had hit Quinn much harder than it had Colin. Eventually, however, Quinn detached himself from the shadows further down the tunnel and approached them.
“What is it?”
His voice sounded dull and indifferent. Colin winced to hear him like that. That alone was making him regret what they had done. If he had known it would end up causing his brother such pain, he would have done anything for it not to have happened.
“We have a visitor.”
That finally provoked a reaction in Quinn. He looked up and faced the newcomer. As their eyes met, both of them pulled back as if from a blow. Quinn turned and ran away, disappearing into one of the tunnels.
Colin had been totally unprepared for that reaction.
The newcomer’s reaction was even more stunning though. She began to cry. Dropping to her knees, the knife falling from her numb fingers, the girl stared after Quinn.
“Quinn? It can’t be. I saw you die. No. No. No. I did get away. The maggots can’t be doing this.”
She covered her face with her hands, weeping disconsolately. Her thin body shook uncontrollably with the violence of the sobs being torn out of her.
Colin couldn’t understand anything, but he knew one thing: the girl needed comforting. So he dropped to his knees beside her and put his arms around her. At first he feared some kind of violent outburst, even though he had seen her drop the knife, but while she remained tense, she didn’t push him away.
Instead she leaned into him, still crying helplessly. Colin did his best to offer whatever comfort he could. He pulled her close and began touching her hair. She wasn’t very clean and her clothes were in a terrible condition, but he didn’t let that stop him. He kept on patting the tangled mess of hair, until finally the girl began to calm down.
Pushing her away slightly, he decided to take another look at her face. Something about Quinn’s reaction gave Colin a hint of who this might be. Though he had never seen her face before, he began to suspect her real identity.
“There. Calm down. I may not know where we are, but it seems to be safe enough. You have nothing to fear. Come on, sit down. You seem to be completely exhausted. That’s right. Rest your head on my shoulder. Good. Now you can tell me what that was all about.”
As if all the bravado had gone out the girl, she did as he told her unresistingly. Finally she began to talk.
“My name is Wade.”
“I thought so.”
“You know me?”
“I’ve heard a lot about you. I’m Colin. Quinn’s brother. Why were you so upset to see him? They’ve all been worried sick about you.”
“Rembrandt and Maggie. Quinn too, of course.”
“But it’s impossible. They’re dead. All of them. Quinn too. I saw them die. Painfully, slowly. The Kromaggs tortured them to death. I know they did. So how can Quinn be here? Besides, why did he run when he saw me? You did say they were worried about me, right?”
“Yes. They thought you were dead, or that the Kromaggs were using you in their breeding program.”
At the mention of that, Wade slumped down against Colin. It was a long time until he could get another word out of her. Eventually, though, she started talking again.
“No. I escaped. Before – anyway, after I’d seen the others die, I wanted to die too. When I realized what the Kromaggs were going to do to me, I had to find a way out.”
Again, Wade lapsed into silence. Colin could feel her body tensing up again. Obviously her memories were far too painful to endure. He wasn’t sure if it was even advisable for her to go on with her story, but on the other hand, being able to tell someone about it, might actually help. So he didn’t say anything, just waited for her to recover.
“I hid among the remains of their victims. The waste products of their cruel experiments. Vivisection. Do you know what that is?”
“No, but I think I can guess. Try not to think about that anymore. You found a way out, that’s all that matters.”
“But don’t you see, I lay underneath all those layers of dead human bodies. Parts of bodies, really. I didn’t think I’d ever get that stench out of my hair and clothes. Can you feel it?”
“No. Of course not. That’s just inside your head. Don’t think about it. Go on. Tell me what happened next.”
“Nothing happened. I got away. And I’ve been running ever since. I managed to get my hands on some kind of timer, but it’s just a prototype and it doesn’t work very well.”
“You still have it?”
“I think so. Wait a minute.”
Wade moved away from Colin slightly and began to search through the pockets of her worn old jacket. Finally she found what she was looking for. It was something a little like their timer. except smaller and with fewer controls. If only they could use that to get out of this place – With Quinn’s help he might be able to make it work. The problem was, would Quinn even be able to rouse himself from his lethargy and take an interest in his surroundings?
Wade put the device back into her pocket again, and leaned into Colin again. It was obvious that she had had quite enough of being lonely. So he went on holding her, waiting for the rest of the story.
“You were saying you saw Quinn and the others die. How is that?”
“The Kromaggs forced me to watch. I was in an adjoining room, looking through one of those oneway screens. Like in a witness confrontation.”
“I’m not familiar with that expression. The world I grew up in wasn’t technologically advanced. But you saw them being tortured and killed?”
“I see. Well, I can only think of one explanation for this. You’re not the same Wade the others lost. Or to put it differently, this Quinn isn’t your Quinn.”
“Yes, of course. But isn’t it strange that I’ve lost them, and he has lost me? It’s as if this was meant to be. Or do you think he’s forgotten about me by now?”
“No. I think Quinn was just as shocked as you were when you met. And there’s something else. Something that’s happened. It’s upset him.”
“You mean being stranded here?”
“Yes, that too.”
“Hey, didn’t you say you were his brother? The Quinn I knew didn’t have a brother.”
“Yes. He did. It was just that we didn’t know about each other. Our natural parents left us on different worlds when we were babies so we would be safe, while they were fighting the Kromaggs.”
“I see. How odd. So Quinn’s mother wasn’t his real mother?”
“No. And my mother wasn’t my real mother either.”
“Listen to me, Wade. That timer might be our ticket out of here. Do you think you could let me look at it? Or even more importantly, would you let Quinn check it out?”
“Yes, I suppose so. I was never as good with these things as Quinn was. Shouldn’t we go and get Quinn then? This place is strange. When I got here, I’d been running for my life, from some kind of gang. I don’t want to know what plans they had for me. And I was starving. Now I don’t feel any hunger, or thirst. I’m still tired though.”
“Maybe time doesn’t pass here, not like in the normal world. So I don’t suppose it would matter very much if you got some rest first. You look like you could use some sleep.”
“Thank you, Colin. You’re just as sweet as Quinn. Just let me sleep for a little while. Then I’ll go talk to Quinn.”
“Ok. Do you want to stay here?”
“Yes, if you don’t mind.”
“No. Of course not. If I lie down too, you can lie here beside me, and rest your head on my shoulder.”
“Thanks. That would be nice.”
It didn’t take them long to fall asleep. Colin too felt emotionally drained and sleep had never felt as tempting as right now. But at the back of his mind there was something that kept nagging at him. A warning. He slept lightly, and after some kind of dream or vision, he awoke with a start, upsetting Wade by his involuntary movement.
She pulled away from him, fear in her eyes, until she remembered who he was and relaxed slightly.
“I don’t know. Let’s go and find Quinn.”
“Ok. I’m coming. What’s really wrong? What happened? Why is he so upset?”
“I can’t tell you. It’s something I can’t even understand.”
“But you have to tell me. If Quinn is impossible to reach, I will need to know what I’m dealing with. I’ve never seen him like this.”
Then something seemed to occur to her. The pain was back in her eyes again. Not that it had ever really left.
“Did the Kromaggs get to him?”
“No. I mean, he has been their prisoner, but not since you disappeared.”
“Then what? Tell me, Colin.”
“I can’t. Quinn wouldn’t want me to tell you. It’s something so strange -“
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Suit yourself. This place is big, isn’t it?”
“You could really lose yourself in here and never come back. It was a good thing I remembered to bring all my stuff. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be going back to the exact same place. Look!”
That last word came out as a scream. Colin had already seen what was lying on the ground. Quinn. What had he done now? He couldn’t have – Surely he couldn’t have found a way to – but he wasn’t moving.
Colin couldn’t make his legs obey him. He felt frozen in his place. Wade, who until recently had been immobilized with grief, now exploded into action. She kneeled by the motionless Quinn, her hands working on him. Colin couldn’t see what she was doing, but now she bent down over Quinn’s face. Touching her lips to his, she seemed to be kissing him. Was she saying goodbye?
Then it occurred to him that he had seen this before. On tv. It was called CPR. He didn’t know what those letters stood for, but it meant blowing air into someone’s lungs. To make them start breathing again. Did she really think it would be any use?
But it seemed she was right. Even from this distance, Colin could see Quinn coming back to life. Now that his brother was breathing again, Colin found that he had regained his mobility.
He walked closer, trying to see what Quinn might have done to himself. Because Colin didn’t have any doubts that Quinn had been attempting suicide. There could be no other reason that his brother would lose consciousness like this. Wade really was amazing. Even after all she had suffered, she was able to rise to the occasion and keep her wits about her enough to save Quinn’s life.
Colin wanted to embrace her again, but he knew Quinn needed her now, not his brother. So Colin stepped back again, and let Wade see to his brother. She didn’t leave Quinn’s side until he was breathing normally and she had been able to make eye contact. Not until she was content that he was all there, in mind as well as in body, did she relax her vigil. By then, Quinn’s desperate attempt had so tired him out that he fell asleep within moments. Wade got up from her uncomfortable position and returned to Colin. They sat within sight of Quinn, but out of earshot.
“Now you’d better start talking. The Quinn I knew would never have done anything like this. Look at this.”
She held out a scarf of some kind. Now Colin realized that Quinn had somehow found the strength to pull that noose around his own neck, until he had lost consciousness. He had been trying to kill himself, and it was all Colin’s fault.
How could he tell Wade what he had done? What they had done. But he couldn’t escape the commanding look in Wade’s eyes. While held under her spell, he knew he couldn’t do anything but what she willed him to do. And in a way, it was a relief to be able to tell someone. Something told him that if anyone could give him absolution it was this seemingly fragile, petite woman. Underneath that exterior she was hiding all this steel.
Colin could hear himself telling her everything. When he’d finished his story, she kept looking at him unwinkingly for so long it began to unnerve him. She hadn’t made a single move, but her gaze burned into him and held him. When she finally spoke it was such a relief he felt tears sting his eyes.
“I see. Thank you for being honest with me. I don’t pretend to understand what happened between you. What I do know is this: you love each other. Besides, you’ve already realized how wrong you were. There’s nothing else you can do. I love Quinn and I know him. So I know that he wouldn’t love anyone who isn’t good.”
“Good? After I was capable of this, do you think I could be described as good?”
“Yes. I know good people can do bad things. In that Kromagg prison camp, I saw people sell each other out to try and save their own lives, or even to buy themselves a painless death. I also saw people die trying to save their children, or parents, or lovers. We’re all capable of evil. Look at me. Do I look evil to you?”
“No. You look like an angel.”
“You’re a funny guy. I’ve never seen any angel this dirty and ragged. You’re right about one thing, though. I know I must look harmless. Helpless even.”
“No. Not helpless.”
“Oh. Anyway, would you believe me, Colin, if I told you I’ve killed? With these hands, that don’t look strong enough to lift anything heavier than a milk carton. But I have. I’ve killed three Kromaggs, and one man. That was after I escaped. He was trying to – Never mind. Maybe I didn’t have to kill him. It might have been enough to knock him out, but I killed him.”
“It must have been in self-defense, so -“
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? He was unconscious. I could have stopped hitting him before he was beyond recovery, but I didn’t. I just kept on doing it. That’s something I never thought myself capable of. I couldn’t kill an animal, not even when I’d been starving, but I can kill a human being. Do you think that is evil, Colin?”
“I agree. You and Quinn aren’t evil either. You were caught up in a strange situation and you did something bad. That doesn’t mean you’re bad yourselves. You must learn to forgive. Not just others, but yourselves. Do you think you can?”
“I don’t know. It’s just that it had to be my fault. When he fought Rembrandt over me, I enjoyed it. Quinn’s had sex before, but until that night, I hadn’t. I know that it had been a very long time since Quinn’s last time, so – “
“I see. You weren’t thinking, just acting on that need. That happens to men, Colin.”
“I still love him, but I’m beginning to see that what we felt wasn’t love. It was some kind of insanity.”
“Yes, it would have to be something like that. You didn’t grow up together. I’ve read about that kind of thing. A brother and sister who were brought up apart then met when they were grown up, and fell in love. Or mother and son, or father and daughter. This kind of thing must have happened too, even if those guys must be less inclined to talk about it. Twins, too. I knew a pair of identical twins. Those guys were beautiful. I would have done anything to have one of them, or both, but they didn’t care about anyone else. Just each other.”
“You’re so wise, Wade. I can see why Quinn loves you.”
“I’m sure he does. You should have seen him talking about you. It didn’t happen very often, but it was obvious how much he loved you and missed you.”
“But I’m not the real Wade. Not his Wade. It’s not me he loves.”
“Don’t worry about that. He misses Wade, and you miss Quinn. That’s all you need to know.”
When Quinn came to, he found himself alone with Wade. Why had he failed? If he had been able to do just one thing properly, he would have at least managed to get this final act right, but not even that was he capable of. If Wade didn’t already know about him, she soon would. They wouldn’t be able to keep it from her. And when she found out, she would turn away from him in disgust. Her Quinn wasn’t a pervert. The Quinn she loved would never have done this.
It was obvious to him that she would have to be another Wade, but that didn’t change anything. He felt the same dull ache inside, when he remembered over and over again, how he and Colin had broken all the rules. To avoid that distressing thought, he began to wonder how this Wade had made her escape, and more importantly, how had she ended up here. His mind didn’t take the same pleasure in solving the problem as he would have only a few weeks ago, but it was some consolation, being able to turn his thoughts to this work.
“Yes. I suppose I have you to thank for that.”
Reading his tone, Wade had no doubt that he blamed her for ruining his attempt at escaping the pain and remorse he had to be feeling. That wouldn’t stop her from getting through to him. If his brilliant mind could find them a way out, she would make sure he did. For a more personal reason, too, she wanted to get her Quinn back, at least as much as was possible.
“I don’t expect you to thank me. That’s not what I need from you. Just don’t ever try again. I will do whatever I have to to make sure you don’t do it again.”
“Why do you feel so strongly about it? I’m not the Quinn you used to know.”
“I know, and I’m not your Wade, but we’re all we’ve got. I loved my Quinn, and I know you loved your Wade. Am I wrong?”
“That’s not the point. I’ve changed. You can’t love me anymore.”
“Let me be the judge of that. The question is, do you love me?”
“If you knew what kind of person I am, you wouldn’t want my love.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. Colin just told me all about it, and I still love you. So, I ask you again: do you love me?”
“You know I do, but what’s the point?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been through hell, and at the end of that I find you. That’s the point, or at least I thought so. Tell me if I’m wrong.”
“I don’t know either. What else do you want?”
“I need you to take a look at this timer.”
“Where did you get that?”
“From the Kromaggs. What can you do with it? It malfunctioned, I think. or why else would I have ended up here?”
“Or why would me and Colin be stranded here?”
“Exactly. If you can make it work, we can get out of here. You can’t want to stay here in the middle of nowhere, literally.”
“Ok. Let me see that thing.”
Quinn’s curiosity got the better of him, and he started working on the timer. In a little while, Colin joined him, and soon they were sitting there, all three of them, discussing the matter, arguing about it, and finally forgetting some of the awkwardness that had existed between them.
Time had no meaning where they were, but in the end, Quinn thought he had found the solution to the problem. It didn’t tell him where they were, or even how they’d ended up there, but more importantly, he now knew how they could get out.
The problem was, if he was wrong, they would all die. Instantly. Under the circumstances, all of them felt that a risk worth taking. Now all they had to do was wait until the timer counted down. They didn’t know exactly at what time it would, so they all stayed close.
The work on the timer had brought them all closer together. Now Quinn wanted to hear about how Wade escaped the Kromaggs. He was very interested to know how they had led her to believe that her companions were dead. For all he knew, they might be.
He didn’t say so. It was important for her to hold on to the hope that her friends were still out there somewhere. It was such a relief that at least this Wade had escaped the breeding camp. The thought of her enduring that, had kept him awake at night.
While they were talking, he was playing with the timer, and suddenly he accidentally pressed a key. As he was about to reset the display, he made a discovery.
“Wade. Look at this.”
“Yes. What does it mean?”
“Take it. Aim it at me, and press that key.”
“Just do it. Please. It’s important.”
She did as he asked her, then returned the timer to Quinn. The look in his eyes surprised her. It had been such a long time since she had seen anyone look that happy.
“Are you going to tell me what’s so great?”
“Wait. Colin! Come here. I want you to hear this too.”
“Ok. What’s happened?”
“This is Wade.”
“I know it is. Or did you mean -“
“Yes. She’s my Wade. Our Wade. The real Wade. The timer signature is the same. We come from the same place.”
“That’s wonderful news. Oh, look at that. The counter is counting down again. We have to slide.”
“Ok. All of us together now. I’ve tried to set it to the same coordinates we would have been sliding to if this hadn’t happened. With a little bit of luck we should be able to catch up with the others.”
They didn’t have time for more talk. One by one they threw themselves into the vortex. Each time they faced their own death, but they came out on the other side. They had just missed their friends, but Quinn was able to trace their signatures and they started their chase. After passing through five different worlds they finally caught up with one another.
One minute, they were sliding three together. The next, they landed in a heap along with four others. Two of them were entirely new to Wade. For a second, all seven of them remained sitting on the grass where they had landed. Fortunately it was late at night, and no one saw them. The park was empty at that time, except maybe for the drug addicts, and they would most likely steer clear of this odd group of people who just sat staring at each other around midnight.
Rembrandt shouted their names. Maggie opened her mouth to say something too, but was forestalled. The other two didn’t say anything, they just watched in wonder this reunion that shouldn’t have been possible, yet they could all see it happening.
“Wade? Colin. Cueball. You’re back. I can’t believe this is true. How did you manage that? We were told that you were gone, Quinn. Replaced by Mallory here. And you Colin, I thought you were – I don’t know – something weird that meant that you were gone for good.”
“No. We weren’t gone. Just not with you. We ended up in a strange place sort of between worlds. Quinn might be able to tell you more.”
“No. I can’t. I just know that we came back. Maggie, Remmy, this is our Wade. Our Wade.”
“How can that be? Girl, you’ve got to tell me all about it.”
“Yes, Wade, you have to. We thought you were in one of those breeding camps.”
“I was, Maggie. I was. I just escaped before it was my turn to be – to be bred. I’ll tell you more about it later. Now I’d like to go to the Chandler. I could use a shower, and a toothbrush. And if you have any clothes to spare, I’d be really grateful.”
“Of course. From the looks of you, you’ll have to borrow some of Diana’s stuff. You’ve lost a lot of weight.”
They got up, and began walking to the hotel. At this time of night, they didn’t manage to get a cab, so they walked all the way. It took them hours. By the time they reached the Chandler, the sun was rising in the east, and people had begun moving about again. Despite that, they were able to get Wade upstairs without attracting too much attention from the staff.
Maggie and Diana took Wade into the bathroom and helped disentangle her hair, though it was necessary to cut some of it off. Wade had always preferred her hair short, so it didn’t bother her.
It was such an exquisite pleasure to finally feel clean. Maybe one day she would stop imagining that cadaver smell sticking to her. Now she needed to sleep again. The sleep she had had in that nowhere place, hadn’t really refreshed her. She felt as if she hadn’t slept for years.
There was an awkward silence, when Rembrandt faced the Mallory brothers again. All this time, the only thing that had been on his mind was how he could make it up to them, what he’d done on a night when he’d felt lonely and desperate for some closeness.
Colin had been at hand, and irresistible as he seemed, Rembrandt knew he should have known better than to come on to the innocent young man. He felt that by doing so, he had unwittingly pushed the two brothers together.
But how could he say what was on his mind? Mallory didn’t even know what had happened before he joined their group.
“I’m really sorry for what happened. It was all my fault. Colin, do you think you could ever forgive me?”
“Of course I can, Rembrandt. I could have said no. It was my fault as much as yours.”
“You didn’t know what to expect. I did.”
“I know, but it’s ok. Really. I’ve had time to think and what we all did was caused by this life. Constantly on the run. With no one else to turn to, but each other. We made a mistake. In fact, more than one, but it’s over now.”
“You’re far too generous. Cueball?”
“Yes, Remmy. I forgive you. We talked about this while we were in the singularity and I know what you were going through. It’s not as if it was in any way as terrible as what we did later.”
“You don’t know how happy that makes me.”
What Mallory was making of all this, he didn’t tell them, but he was as relieved as they were when all that tension was relieved, and the three friends finally found their way back to the way things had been in the past. All was well in the Sliders group again.
Diana and Maggie joined the men. They interrupted the guys’ reunion. Quinn began examining the timers, and what he found astonished him.
“Maggie, you’ve got to see this.”
“What? We can’t be on your Earth since I’m still breathing, and we can’t be on mine either for obvious reasons, so what is it? Something good, I hope.”
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad. Look at the counter.”
“Does it say what I think it’s saying?”
“Yes. Five months. It’s never been this long before.”
Diana leaned over and politely asked if she could take a look. The new timer interested her.
Quinn turned his eyes in the direction of the room where Wade was sleeping. He couldn’t believe his luck. After all he was guilty of, he had been granted this gift. Wade still alive, and still in love with him. Despite what she knew about him. And now they would be on this world together for five months. It seemed to be a good world. This would be like a vacation. They would get a chance to get to know their new companions too.
From now on, he would be watching himself carefully. Never again would he let the darkness from within come welling up inside him. He would make sure it stayed under control. With Wade in his life again, he thought he would be successful.
He got up and casting Maggie an inquiring look, he found the way to where Wade was sleeping. It wasn’t fair, but he loved watching her sleep. The sight of her filled him with a deep sense of gratitude and contentment. When she woke up they would begin to make up for lost time. Until then he would get some sleep too. He wanted to lie down next to her, but he resisted the temptation.
To give the others some privacy, Diana and Mallory said goodnight, and disappeared into the room they were now sharing. Relieved that he had finally been forgiven, Rembrandt followed their example and went to his room. Quinn was unaware of the new tension in the room behind him. All he had eyes for was Wade.
It had finally dawned on Colin that there was something about the way Maggie was looking at him, that reminded him of something. Once Rembrandt had been staring at him exactly that way. The memories of what he and Quinn had done, he pushed to the back of his mind.
If he was right about Maggie, what did he feel about it? This time there was no reason for him to feel guilty about his own response. He just had to know, and to his relief he didn’t have to ask out loud. Maggie couldn’t wait any longer. She grabbed Colin and pulled him close. Now that he was finally back with her, she wasn’t going to waste any more time.
“I can’t take it any longer. All this time you’ve been on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. When it was too late, I realized that I wanted you, and I’ve felt this way ever since you joined us. You don’t have to say anything. I just thought I’d let you know.”
“But I want to say something. I can’t believe you never noticed how I was looking at you. But I thought you were too far beyond me. A woman like you – why would you even pay attention to me? I thought you were more interested in Quinn.”
“No. Not Quinn.”
At the mention of his name, they both turned and faced Quinn, who wasn’t paying attention. He still had that dreamy look on his face that they could read far too well.
“I mean, of course I love him. I love them all. We’re like family. It was just different with you. I was so mad that I didn’t get you before – I mean, I should have made my move much sooner.”
“Yes. I wish you had. Anyway, Quinn and I have talked about this, and whatever made us do it, it’s over. It’s never going to happen again. Maybe it was something to do with being so alone.”
“Don’t worry about it. If you can try to forget it, so can I. Come here.”
Maggie went on kissing Colin the way she had in her dreams ever since he disappeared. Tonight he would sleep with her. From now on, no one else would even get close. She would make sure of that. No one laid a hand on Maggie’s man. For a second she could even understand Quinn’s reaction that night. If she had seen Remmy with Colin, she might have done exactly the same thing.
It was time they all had some rest. For once they had plenty of time, so they might as well enjoy it. How incredibly lucky they were. The Sliders couldn’t wait to begin exploring this world. Once again sliding was an adventure. If only professor Arturo could have been there with them. But all wishes didn’t come true, and they had learned to accept it. Except for that, they all had what they wanted.