Street of Dreams
by Lasha Lee

My sisters have pictures of their kids plastered all over their walls, and overflowing photo albums, and home videos, and in a few cases videos of my nieces and nephews making their grand entrance into the world. There are thousands of photos of babies and toddlers and teenagers. There are bearskin rug pictures, and first bath pictures, and first step pictures, and I think they take that for granted.

By the time we got our son, he was already nine. I think the only baby photos ever taken of him were for a Wronith security file somewhere. There were no streams of dippy aunts taking snapshots and cooing over him, and all of our photos show a child growing into a man; not a baby becoming a child.

Maybe that's why we're so protective of him. I think I feel, and I know that Trowa feels, a sense of guilt where Rylan is concerned. Guilt that we didn't know of his horrible situation sooner; guilt that we didn't realize that the boy who would be our son had been born. It's ridiculous, I know, but it's there all the same. We missed out on so much of his life, so many little things, so many memories. It's made us possessive of what we do have.

I also know that he's a grown man now; that what bits of his childhood we were able to snatch are gone. He's married, and he works hard at the agency, and he's no longer content to be tucked into bed at night and coddled. When I think back now, I realize that a lot of the coddling he allowed because he knew that we needed it more than he really did. He knew that we were starving for a son, and he let us totally immerse ourselves into the role of doting daddies.

But it didn't change the fact that Rylan was a warrior. He loved us, but he couldn't change for us. He could not ever really allow himself to get lost in the image we presented. There was a part of him that no therapist, no loving father, no friend, no wife could ever touch. A part of him that was prepared at any time to shuck off all the luxuries we'd provided for him and face the world again entirely on his own. He trusted us, but Rylan also knew full well that there are things outside of our control. He wasn't na´ve enough to think that we were going to live forever, after all. He knew how strong some feelings toward Wronith went. He knew how life could turn around and kick your teeth in.

"I swear I'm going to wring his neck." I muttered, leaning back in the shuttle seat. "God, I need a drink."

"You don't drink." My partner reminded me, settling down at my side.

"Well, I'm going to start, okay? I think in this case, Allah will definitely understand and make an exception."

He didn't reply at first, just studied me out of intense green eyes. Rylan's eyes, although there's no blood between them. It's scary at times how much they resemble each other, based on nothing but coincidence. But inside, the boy is both of us.

"Heero and Duo promised to protect him." He finally said, his knuckles brushing against mine.

"Tro... what if that's not enough? He's not going to listen to them any more than he'll listen to us. He's got a cause now, and he's determined to see it through. He's using himself as human bait!"

"I know. That's why we're going there, remember? We'll tie him up or something, make him listen to reason."

We watched the ground fall away from outside the shuttle window, and he shook his head. "Maybe we can bribe him. We'll get him another dog or something."

I burst out laughing. "I don't think that's going to work at his age."

He wrapped his hand around mine. "He's going to be fine. We've raised him right. He knows what he's doing."

I wanted to believe him, but inside was a growing sense of dread too strong to ignore. And I knew it wouldn't fade until Rylan and Rosie were back on Earth where they belonged.


"I hate this!" Rylan glared at Luke, shaking his head. "I won't let you do this."

"You agreed." Luke glanced up from the computer screen, pushing his hair back.

"I know what I agreed to." Rylan flopped down on the bed. "But..."

"But what? It's too late to back out now. Do you know how hard it was for me to find out where those bastards are meeting?" "Why can't we just call the cops now and send them?"

"Because it doesn't work like that. They can't just arrest them for getting together and talking about how much they hate the Wronith. Until they have proof that THESE men did something, the authorities can't touch them."

"So they'll just wait for more Wronith to die."

"Pretty much." Luke agreed with a shrug. "Which is why you and I aren't. This was your idea, after all."

"It was my idea to find someone to spy on them! Not that you'd be that someone! I just wanted you to find out where to send the spy!"

"Well, who better?" Luke closed the window on his computer and leaned back in the chair, intertwining his fingers and making the joints pop. "Do you really think this is something Jazz is going to be able to pull off?"

Rylan didn't look convinced. "I don't like lying to the family."

"Rylan, we don't have a choice. If you and I are seen in public together looking all chummy our cover is blown, right? As long as the family thinks we can't stand the sight of each other, then we've got a good excuse to be apart."

"Well, as long as we don't have to get physical again. You can throw a pretty mean punch when your heart is in it."

"I meant it that day. You'd just pissed me off so bad... I'm sorry."

"Me too. How are you holding up, anyway?"

Luke frowned. "Let's not talk about me, okay?"

"Come on. We don't have to be enemies in here, remember?"

Luke stood up and walked across the room, wiping his palms off on his jeans. "We're a lot alike, you and I." He shrugged. "Sometimes I wonder..."

"Wonder what? I'm confused." Rylan cocked his head.

"I wonder if how you're conceived affects your whole life. Colors everything you do."

"How could it? A baby doesn't know where it comes from."

"But grown men do. Did you know I'm the product of rape?"

Rylan looked startled. "No... I didn't... no one ever mentioned it."

"Not many people know. I found out on my own. I wonder... if the violence we're conceived in means we're marked by it. If it seeks us out."

"Luke, you're not making a lot of sense." Rylan stood up and put his hand on his brother-in-law's shoulder. "We can't do a damn thing about where we came from. Yes, it bothers me that my father is a rapist. It bothers the hell out of me. It bothers me that my mother never knew what it was like to be treasured and loved. I remember her, Luke. She was a sweet woman, in spite of everything. She could have hated me for what I represented, but she didn't. She deserved better. Just like I'm sure your mother deserved better. But Luke, just because these men violated our mothers doesn't mean we have to let them violate us. I don't give him that much power over me. In fact, I think about how much he'd hate the man I grew up into and that makes me proud. Proud that I'm nothing like him."

"I wish I could think like that." Luke admitted. "All I keep thinking of is that someday I'm going to wake up and I'm going to be him."

"Sometimes I feel like that too. It took forever for Rosie and I... Look, I never told anyone this..."

"I am her brother, you know. I don't need to hear about her sex life."

"I know, I know. But when we first hooked up... I couldn't. I couldn't... do what I wanted to." Rylan blushed like mad, and Luke turned around, surprised.

"They gave me some medicine and I talked to doctors, and nothing could fix it. I was so afraid of being like my father that I just couldn't do it."

"So what happened? What changed?"

"It took nearly a year. I thought for sure she'd pack up and leave, but she stuck by me. Eventually I was able to get past it, and accept the fact that she was with me because she wanted me, and not because I was forcing her into anything."

"Rylan... It's different with you."

"How so?"

"Look, I don't know much about the Wronith, okay? But I do know that when they did this...Seeding, it was emotionless for them, right? It was a job; I bet they were incredibly clinical and professional about it, right?"

"I never watched, Luke."

"But you know I'm right. You know that's what it must have been like. And they wouldn't have wanted to really hurt the woman; just impregnate them."

"True."

"What my father did to my mother... it's amazing that she lived through it as long as she did.. It was emotional. It was violent. It was brutal. You can say that rape is rape, and I know that it is, but..."

"Luke, are we really standing here having a disagreement about whose father was a bigger monster? Fine, you win. But it doesn't make YOU a monster. If you were, your family wouldn't love you and worry about you as much as they do. I wouldn't love you as much as I do."

"I just need more time. Jazz... he knows about this. I'm seeing a head shrinker. He made me."

"Good for Jazz. I got a lot out of it. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who isn't directly involved. That way they can give you honest responses instead of emotional ones."

They were silent for a while. "You met him today, right?"

"Who?"

"Joey Mercer. Meishel's friend."

"Yes, I spoke with him for quite a while."

"Is he... look, don't get all testy. It has nothing to do with him being Wronith. But is he...okay? I mean, he's an okay guy?"

"He's very nice and very timid. He cares a great deal for Meishel. I think you need to be aware of this, Luke. Joey isn't always going to be a scared little rabbit like he is now. He's getting stronger, and he's going to go after Meishel. He wants a relationship with her, and I think she's going to take him up on that."

"So?"

"Knock it off. I know you still love her. I also think this whole thing with your biological father is behind why you dumped her. I tried to dump Rosie 9 times. She just laughed in my face."

"I can't be her boyfriend right now. I can't be anyone's boyfriend. Right now I'm barely able to be me. I'm a mess, Rylan." He said it sofly, rolling his eyes. "Maybe I can be fixed; I don't know. But until then, she's better off without me."

"And that brings me back to our original conversation. I need to know that if you're doing this with me, you're doing it for the right reasons."

"I'm doing it to keep my family safe from this Deran Pure!"

"I know. But I have to wonder if you're also doing it because maybe you're past the point of caring. Maybe you don't think it matters if something happens to you."

"You're saying I'm suicidal."

"Or you have a death wish. There's a difference between those two things. Maybe you're not standing here with a gun to your head, but maybe you don't really care if someone else has one pointed at you either."

Luke considered that for a while. "I don't want to die. But I need to do this. Don't cut me out, Rylan. Please don't. Let me help bring them down."

"For now, okay. But if I think you're in any danger I am taking you out of it. I won't ask your parents to give up their son for my cause."

"What about your parents?" Luke wanted to know.

Rylan had no answer.


On to part twenty-nine. Back to part twenty-seven.