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Disclaimer: All characters and settings from "Now and Again" belong to Glenn Gordon Caron, Paramount, Picturemaker Productions, and anyone else. I'm just a loyal fan. I do not mean any infringement on any copyrights.
Rating/Warnings: some violence, some adult language
Spoiler: not much of any
Archive permission: nope, not yet.
"I have a surprise for you tomorrow, Mr. Wiseman," Dr. Theodore Morris said, barely looking up from his paper.
Michael Wiseman turned from staring out the limousine's tinted window. "Oh?" He paused expectantly. When Dr. Morris failed to continue, Michael spoke up again. "It wouldn't happen to be a birthday present, would it? My birthday is next week, you know."
Morris looked up briefly from his newspaper and stated impassively, "Really? Well then, you may call it your birthday present if you wish."
Silence. Michael stared out the window of the Limousine. He began to fidget, looking at the doctor, then out the window, then glancing back. He had never been able to handle knowing about a surprise but not knowing what it was. Finally, he said, "Oh c'mon, Doc..."
"Come on what, Mr. Wiseman?" Dr. Morris asked dryly.
"You can't just leave me hanging like that!"
"Oh, I can't?" Dr. Morris looked up again and looked directly at Michael for the first time in the conversation.
"Yeah. Out of the blue you tell me you have a surprise for me and you won't even give me a hint as to what it is?!"
A typical roll of the doctor's eyes answered him. "It's a *surprise*, Mr. Wiseman. You will find out tomorrow. The conversation is over."
Michael sat back, seemingly defeated. The rest of the ride was filled with only the sound of Dr. Morris's rustling paper.
* * *
"Heather, when did you say that PTA meeting at your school was?" Lisa Wiseman sat in the living room trying to work out her schedule for the following week.
"Huh?" Heather was watching the news.
"Turn that off," Lisa said, noticing the news report. "They talk about that rapist every night, even though they really don't have anything new to say." Heather obediently turned off the television. "Now," she paused to be sure she had her daughter's attention, "when is that PTA meeting at your school?"
"Let me check." Heather walked over to the calendar, which hung on the wall in the kitchen. "It's tonight, Mom. From seven to eight-thirty."
"Great." Lisa looked at her watch. It was 6:30. She had better hurry. "I thought it was next week."
"I hope you aren't expecting me to go to that with you," Heather said. She began to walk away, but stopped and glanced at the calendar again. "Daddy's birthday is next week, isn't it, Mommy?" She walked in the living room where her mother still sat.
"Yes." Mrs. Wiseman tried to sound normal as she spoke. However, she failed.
"Are you taking a day off work?"
"No...Yes...Maybe..." Lisa looked up from her schedule. "I guess I haven't decided yet."
"You know what I think?" said Heather, sitting down near her mother. "I think we should have a party."
"What?" The idea sounded absurd.
"A party. We could have over all of Daddy's old friends and other friends of the family."
"Heather, I think people might find a party like that a little...um...weird."
"Well, because you father is..."
"...dead?" She broke in as her mother's voice trailed off. "He's dead, Mom, and it's not a bad word. Why are you shooting down this idea? I think it would be good, maybe even fun. And do you think this party would be for me? How many of my friends would be going? I brought it up because you might enjoy it. That way you wouldn't have to sit around the whole day feeling sorry for yourself, and neither would I. Come on! Wouldn't it be neat to just be with friends and remember him?"
"Heather..." Lisa sighed loudly and stood. "Can we talk about this some other time? I'm not really in the mood to argue, and since that meeting is tonight, I really need to get moving!"
"Okay, Mom," Heather said roughly. She turned and walked out of the room. She wasn't mad, simply determined. While the subject had been dropped for the moment, Heather wasn't going to let herself be defeated that easily.
* * *
"Just one little hint, Doc? Just one? I won't be able to sleep at all tonight! You know I can't handle waiting for something like this!" It was obvious Heather had gotten her persistent streak from her father. Michael had still not given up on trying to pry out information about his surprise.
"No, Mr. Wiseman." Dr. Morris was getting agitated. "I should have never told you about it. I thought it might give you something to look forward to, perhaps some motivation to be semi-cooperative during your exercises this evening."
Michael continued chewing his extra-healthy meal. While his mouth was still full over four different types of vegetables, he said, "Can't blame a guy for being curious." He swallowed the food. "Curiosity may have killed the cat, but--"
"--Satisfaction brought him back," interrupted Dr. Morris. "I have heard that one before, Mr. Wiseman, but you will get no satisfaction." That was the end of that. "When I return in about an hour, I expect you to be beginning you exercises for the evening like a good little science project." Morris smiled almost evilly. "And why don't you run a extra hundred miles or so on the tread-mill, just to be sure I don't forget about that surprise you are so intent on receiving."
"You're vicious, Doc, you know that?"
Dr. Morris ignored that comment and turned to go. "Until then, Mr. Wiseman."
* * *
"Well, that was a waste of time," Lisa told herself as she drove home from the PTA meeting. Most of topics discussed had not even applied to Heather, and it had run over time. It was now a little after nine.
She rounded a corner and was confronted with flashing lights and a road block. She stopped, and a policeman came up to the car. She rolled down the window.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. You're going to have to go a different way. This place is blocked off for an investigation."
"What's going on?" Lisa couldn't help but feel curious.
"We're investigating the murder of a woman. Her body was found right around here. We're looking for clues. It should all be in the paper and on the news tomorrow. We think it might be connected to the rapist in the area." He added unconvincingly, "but there's nothing to worry about." One of the other policemen motioned to him to come look at something. "Go ahead and turn around in that driveway if you need to, ma'am. Sorry for the inconvenience." He walked off.
Lisa pulled into the driveway and backed out facing the way she had come. As she headed home, she worried. "Nothing to worry about?" she said aloud. "A murder takes places just a couple blocks from where my child goes to school, and there is nothing to worry about?" She shook her head and sighed. "Great."
* * *
The next morning, Michael opened his eyes to Dr. Morris's head looming over him. "Good morning, Mr. Wiseman," said the doctor cheerfully. "I hope you slept well."
Michael groaned, rolled out of bed, and headed toward the shower. Abruptly, he swung around and said, "It's today!"
"If you referring to your surprise, you will receive it soon enough." Dr. Morris seemed to enjoy dragging this out. "Go ahead and get ready as if this were any other day, because your surprise will not arrive until later." Michael turned, discouraged, and went to take a shower.
When Michael was ready, Dr. Morris returned with his surprise. Into the townhouse stepped a perfectly formed female in her twenties. She had longish blond hair and deep sea-green eyes. Her perfect curves were fit into a pair of black pants and a red shirt over which she wore a fitted black leather jacket. As any male would be, Michael was awestruck. Dr. Morris was the first to speak. "Mr. Michael Wiseman, meet Mrs. Emily Hanson."
* * *
"Mom, have you seen the newspaper today?" Heather was sitting at the breakfast table enjoying her meal and that morning's paper.
"No, you've had it ever since I got up," Lisa was still in her robe as she stood in the doorway to the kitchen. "And that was only ten minutes ago," she said groggily and took a sip of the coffee she held. "Why do you ask?"
"That rapist in the area struck again. This time he actually killed the woman. They found the body last night. It's freaky, Mom. It was found just two blocks from where I go to school!"
Lisa recalled her trip home last night. "Yeah." She shuddered slightly. "It's kind-of unnerving, isn't it?" Heather nodded. "Do the police have any leads?"
"Nope, and that's the scary part. This has happened five times in the past month, and they have no clue who is doing it! It's very creepy."
Lisa felt the same way. The night before had been filled with not-so-pleasant dreams. There was a long moment in which Heather went back to her paper and Lisa sipped her coffee. Both were thinking about the same thing, but neither voiced their concerns. Lisa finally said, "Well, you better get going so you won't be late for school. You've got a ride, right?"
"Yeah." Heather looked at her watch, quickly closed the paper, and grabbed her backpack. "I still think we should have a party for Daddy's birthday."
"You never give up, do you?" Lisa rolled her eyes at her daughter's look of determination.
"Just think about it, okay?"
"I'll think about it," Lisa said, "if only so you will stop bringing it up." She followed Heather to the door. "I won't be home until late because I have a meeting with some clients this afternoon and then I'm going out to dinner with some friends. Be sure to..."
Heather cut in. "I know the routine, Mom." Lisa nodded and said good-bye. Heather opened the front door and began to leave. Then she turned back. She looked directly at her mother and said, "Don't be out too late, okay?"
Lisa could see the concern in her daughter's eyes and was touched by it. She smiled and said she would try to be back at a reasonable hour. Heather smiled back and then stepped out the door, closing it behind her. Lisa slowly went back into the kitchen to get breakfast.
As promised, she thought about Heather's idea. She didn't really think it was bad, only a little weird. It was something she wasn't sure she was comfortable with. She had never heard of having a party for a deceased family member. "However..." In her mind, she considered the idea. "It could be nice: talking about Michael, remembering funny things he did, telling stories." She continued to debate the idea. Who would she invite? "Roger?" she thought, "Definitely. Who else was friends with him? The Conners across the street. And Mr. Hanson. What was his name? Daniel! Yes, that was it. They had been friends."
Lisa remembered when Daniel and Michael had been close friends. They had kind-of lost touch when Daniel had moved to a suburb on the other side of New York City. She had become friends with Emily Hanson, his wife, while she was still Emily Roberts. They had enjoyed talking with one another over a cup of coffee. Emily had married Daniel not long after Michael passed away. Just a few months ago, Emily had been in a fatal car accident. Lisa felt a new compassion for Daniel, realizing that he was in the same boat as she.
Her thoughts veered back to the party. Heather had said it would be better than sitting around feeling sorry for herself, and that was true. "I must be crazy to even consider this," she thought, "but I am." She laughed softly at herself and picked up the paper, as she continued to eat her breakfast.
* * *
Michael stood in shock for a long moment. The woman, who was identified as Mrs. Emily Hanson, looked very unsure of herself and stood quietly watching the doctor and Michael closely. Dr. Morris continued to speak. "You wanted a companion, Mr. Wiseman? Someone to talk to, to listen to, and to empathize with? Well, the government wanted to try out our little experiment on a female. I guess you would call it 'killing two birds with one stone'." Both artificial humans were silent. He continued. "The two of you will work together with me. You will both live here. And you will both continue to avoid contact with anyone from your past life. Understood?"
Michael jerked his head up to look at Dr. Morris. "Huh?"
"Mr. Wiseman, did you hear *anything* I just said?"
"Uh...oh! Yeah, Doc. Sorry, just surprised... Yeah, I understand." Michael walked to the chair nearby and sat down. He was *very* surprised. Nothing could have prepared him for suddenly having someone just like him walk into the room. Well, not just like him, in the same situation as him. He was glad to now have someone to relate to, but worried in a way. She seemed awful quiet! He wasn't sure he'd even like her! However, he had been pretty confused, as well, when he had first been told of his death and current situation.
"Me, too." It was the first he had heard her say. Her voice was airy and quiet, probably because she was completely bewildered by the whole thing. She cleared her throat. "I mean, I understand, too." Her voice was now clear and a little stronger. She smiled with uncertainty at the doctor.
"Good." In his own way, Dr. Morris smiled back. "I'm going to leave you two alone for a while so you can talk. I'll be back around lunch time." He turned to go, but looked back and said, "I think a thank you is in order, Mr. Wiseman."
"Yeah, sure. Thanks." Michael did appreciate the thought, but he was wary of this woman who seemed rather quiet and shy. Besides, she was gorgeous, and he was going to be living with her. That didn't feel right since he was, after all, married.
After the door closed behind Dr. Morris, Michael was still sitting, thinking. Emily Hanson still stood. "Um, can I sit down?" She looked straight at Michael for the first time.
"Sure. I'm sorry. I'm not being a very good host, am I?" She sat in a chair near him.
She didn't respond to that. She simply said, "Let me introduce myself. I'll feel better if I do. I am Emily Hanson, or I was. Now I guess I am Mrs. Newman. That's what Dr. Morris said."
"Oh really? Is Doc trying to pretend we're married?! My new name is Mr. Newman now. I'll have to talk to him about that one." Michael was very annoyed that Dr. Morris would do that, but he let the subject drop for the moment. He would definitely confront the doctor later. "So, you're the new guinea pig in the cage, huh? Pleased to meet ya." He held out his hand. They shook. "Hey, how about if I show you around the place? Won't take too long."
"Sure. That's sounds fine." She smiled. She seemed very sweet, but she was still holding back something, he could tell. There was definitely more to her than he had noticed so far.
In his best impression of a tour guide, Michael began, "And to your left you will see the pool. And as we move on, the gym. Exercise equipment for nearly every muscle in the body." They moved through the kitchen. Michael simply said, "Our tour would not be complete without sampling the delicacies provided every meal by our wonderful Doc. We will embark on that little adventure during lunch today. I think you'll find it worth the wait."
Noticing the sarcasm in his voice, Emily asked, "Is it bad? What kind of things do we eat?"
"Plants." Michael made a face.
"Doesn't sound too bad."
"Trust me, you'll love it, especially after having it day after day after day..."
"Is that what Dr. Morris meant by a strict diet? When he said that I thought maybe a Slim-Fast bar and a diet Pepsi. That would be *my* idea of a diet."
They moved on. "Here's the waste collection room." He gestured to the toilet.
"They collect that stuff?!" She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"Yeah, and study it. I'd hate to be the person with that job."
"Hmmm... This is definitely going to be different."
"Moving on..." They exited the bathroom. "Here's the bed." He stopped a moment. "Uh...two people, one bed... Either Doc can't count or..."
"Not happening!" She shook her head emphatically.
"I completely agree!" he quickly responded. He was glad they were in agreement on that one.
"One of us is going to have to sweet talk the dear doctor into bringing in a cot or sleeping bag."
"Uh-huh. You can have the bed. I'll take the floor." He decided to do the nice thing.
"It doesn't matter to me."
They continued the tour. "And here's the shower." He opened it and she looked inside. "Since I've been here longer, I call first shower in the morning," he teased.
"Oh, really?" She laughed for the first time. "How 'bout you let me have first shower, and I'll let you have the bed?"
He smiled. "Deal." There was a pause. He looked around. "I guess that concludes our tour." He led her back around to the main room where they began.
"Do you swim in this often?" She walked over to the pool.
"Not really. Not for leisure anyway." She sat down next to it and took off her black boots and socks. "What are you doing?" asked Michael as she slipped her feet into the water.
"I always loved to swim in the pool in my backyard with my husband." She had a faraway look in her eyes.
"Oh." Michael sat down next to her, took off his shoes, and stuck his feet in the water. "You might want to take off your leather jacket."
"Huh?" She snapped out of her daydream, and without thinking, took off the jacket. "Why is that?"
Michael had a playful twinkle in his eyes as he said, "You wouldn't want it to get wet...when you fall in!" With that, he pushed her into the water, catching her completely off-guard.
She came to the surface, laughing. "You act like my little brother! Get in here!" She grabbed his foot and pulled him in, too. They treaded water a moment, coughing up water and laughing.
Just then, Dr. Morris returned. "What is going on here?" He asked noticing the two in the pool.
"Hey, Doc." Michael swam over to the edge of the pool. "We just felt like a mid-morning swim. Didn't we, Emily?"
She smiled and climbed out of the pool. "Yeah." Michael followed. Dr. Morris went and got them some towels.
"I do not believe taking a dip in the pool was included in my instructions before I left." He handed them each a towel and noted the leather coat on the floor. "At least you had the sanity to remove your leather coat before ruining it in the water." They dried themselves the best they could and sat down to eat. The doctor handed them each a plate of, as Michael had said, plants.
Emily looked at the plate sitting before her, and Michael smiled. "Dig in!" She did, slowly. After a moment, Michael tried to start up a conversation. "So, you have a brother?" he asked in between bites.
"Yeah. He lives in Chicago."
"What else? I mean, tell me about yourself. Your family, friends."
"I have a younger sister and an older sister. They both live near my parents in a small town next to Cincinnati." She stopped to take a bite of the steamed asparagus. Then she continued. "I have a husband named Daniel and twin six-year-old boys that we adopted last summer. They're quite a hand full, but..."
"Hold on. Daniel Hanson? I knew him. He's smart, lanky, hardly ever leaves the house without a tie?"
She chuckled at the description. "That's him. Wow, it's a small world after all!" She took another bite. He did too. After swallowing, she said, "What did you say your wife's name is?"
"I don't believe I had said yet. It's Lisa."
"Lisa. Lisa Wiseman? I know her! Or maybe I *knew* her. Anyway, we met while she was at the hospital with Heather for something and we just kinda clicked. I worked as a nurse at that hospital," she explained. "We went out for coffee a couple times and just talked. She's very nice."
"How's she doing?" Anything pertaining to his wife was of utmost importance to him.
"As of a few months ago, okay. She missed you a lot, but she was coping, and she went into the real estate business from what I had been hearing."
"Yeah, I've heard about that a little myself." He smiled and remembered. "Lisa... God, I miss her."
There wasn't much more talk the rest of lunch. Afterward, Emily said, "If you all wouldn't mind, I think I'll try out the shower since I'm soaked anyway."
Michael nodded. "Help yourself." She stood and left the room.
Michael looked over at Dr. Morris, who was sitting not too far from the table reading. "I need to talk to you, Doc."
"What about?" The doctor was not yet ready to turn his attention from his reading, and it showed in his tone of voice.
Michael heard the shower start and continued. "It's about this whole business. First of all, I don't feel very comfortable with her living here. I mean, I hardly know her...and there's only one bed. I'm hoping you're not expecting me to be okay with that...cause I'm not."
Dr. Morris finally looked up. "Mr. Wiseman, let me explain something to you. When I requested funding to make a second artificial human, I was very nearly turned down. I received enough to make the body, insert the brain, and sustain the body with food on a monthly basis. I did not have enough left over to buy another townhouse and equip it as this one is. I very nearly had to take money out of my own pocket to buy her clothes."
"Hope you didn't go through all that trouble on my account," Michael joked.
Dr. Morris didn't bat an eye at his comment. He simply continued. "Furthermore, I could not possibly request more money when they would see no problem keeping you both here. I knew you would protest, but there is nothing I can do. I assume you also wish to bring up the matter of her pseudonym, 'Mrs. Newman'?"
"Actually--" Michael began to say.
"Let me just go ahead and explain that as well. It is a perfect front. If you two are considered married, no one will find it strange that you live together here." He paused briefly. "And an added bonus in this arrangement is that once your former wife finds out about 'Mrs. Newman', we will have no more trouble from her, now will we?" Michael sighed, staring at the floor. "You will not actually be married, nor will you have to act married when not in public."
"What about the bed situation? You going to bring in a cheap cot or an old blanket or maybe even spring for a sleeping bag?"
"We'll see," Dr. Morris went back to his reading and Emily stepped in, clothed only in a towel. Michael realized he was staring. He blushed and looked away.
"I'm sorry. I don't know where any other clothes are. My others are still pretty wet." She seemed as embarrassed as Michael.
"Bottom drawer of the dresser in there." Dr. Morris pointed. She hurried off. He turned back to Michael. "She's gone, Mr. Wiseman. Now don't you tell me I didn't do a damn good job on her!" He smiled pridefully.
* * *
That's it for now. What do you think?