A/N: READ THIS FIRST:
This is a romance story involving an unconventional pairing. I wrote it because I wanted to explore a relationship between two canon characters that has never been developed in either the books or fanfiction. It was a bit of a challenge even finding one! But I saw that althought Tobias has been paired with just about everyone, and Jordan's been with both Marco and Ax, they've never been together. I'm a big R/T fan, so I couldn't see them just arbitrarily getting together. I needed a reason. I found it in 'Shadows of Ra'.
For you R/T lovers, there is plenty in the first few part. But this is still a Tobias/Jordan story, so don't start flaming me, because I did warn you (and yes, Rachel is dead, I couldn't possibly have her and Tobias break up). There is some Marco/Other, a little J/C, some Jordan/Other, and a bit of Tobias/Other. I nicknamed this 'Tobias and the Women he Slept With' for a reason. There is sex, profanity, and plenty of violence in this. Not too much in this section, but later parts will be rated R. Nothing too graphic, but I didn't write this for anyone younger than thirteen.
Also, since I wrote this, there is way too much angst and you'll probably drown in the sap.
Note: I started writing this about 6 months ago, so anything #45 onward isn't taken into account. Call it an Alternate-Reality future fic :P There are 5 more parts to this, so it's not unlikely that the books will finish before I do...::cough::
PS: The song/poem is MINE. ALL MINE!!! Mwahahahahahaha!
Shadows of RaWhen I met you I thought I knew
Just how things were to be
But I was wrong and then you were gone
And things would never be the same
All my life I looked for you
But when I found you, you left
And all I was left with
Was a Shadow of the Past
The young man stepped off the platform and looked around the spaceport. It felt queer being here again after nearly ten years in space. He had left when he was sixteen, he and the other Animorphs. Animorphs. The word was pretty meaningless now. They had gone their separate ways, and while people knew about the invasion and the resistance, few actually knew the identities of the members. None of that really mattered since he had been in space, but now...
Tobias wondered what the others were doing just now. He knew Jake and Cassie were on the Andalite homeworld but he hadn't talked to them for a few years.
Tobias briefly wondered if they had any children now. They had married when they were twenty. Ironic, considering Jake proposed when he was only fifteen. Five years was a long time for an engagement. But Tobias thought it fitted Jake and Cassie. They were the steady, patient type -willing to wait 'til things settled down before tying the knot and having a family. They had always been the reliable type. Not like him and Rachel. No, they had gotten married a full fifteen minutes after he proposed. They had convinced some poor bewildered priest to do it. It didn't really matter to Tobias and Rachel that it wasn't a proper wedding, or that neither of them were Roman Catholic, but they were still wed by a Catholic priest. Rachel was half-Jewish, and he was Protestant, though not a very good one at that. (He had never been baptized, and never remembered going to church, but apparently his parents were Protestant or something like that, or at least the people everyone thought were his parents.) Seconds after 'I do', they jumped on the waiting Andalite ship and headed into space. It was the day after Rachel turned sixteen.
Tobias and Rachel had been stationed on a Dome Ship, battling Yeerks near the Eleca system, and it was there, during a battle on the ground, that Rachel died. Cut down by Hork-Bajir blades as she fought. A stray Dracon beam had vaporized the body.
Tobias closed his eyes against the flood of memories. No, he could not think of Rachel now. He had come back, back to Earth to escape the past. Back home.
It was funny to think of Earth as home. He had no home here. For the past ten years, his home had been a Dome ship.
But Marco, Marco of all people, had been the one to convince him to come home. Marco was getting married, and he insisted that Tobias be an usher. There was no getting out of it.
Besides, Tobias had nothing left in space now. He had received an honorary discharge due to injury. Tobias hadn't been wounded in battle, nor was he missing any limbs. No, Tobias was trapped. Now that he had no natural weapons, he was useless to the Andalites.
They had offered him a strategic job, probably Jake's doing, but he had turned it down. Tobias was born to fly, not sit at a desk and bark orders. No, that was always Jake's job. But Tobias wasn't bitter. Jake had tried his best.
He had been wondering what to do with his life, when Marco's invitation came through the Z-space channels. Tobias had nothing to lose, so he accepted.
And now, here he was.
Tobias knew Marco worked with developing computer technologies, cutting edge stuff that some Andalite had probably sneaked him, but he didn't know what Marco looked like. It had been ten years, and he bet Marco had changed since then. Tobias sure had. He was taller now, not quite as lanky, but not buff either. His dirty blond hair had darkened slightly over the years, and he knew if he grew a beard and mustache (which he had tried once to see what it looked like) he was completely unrecognizable, which was why he was clean-shaven now. He couldn't make it any harder for Marco to find him.
Well he could, but he wasn't that mean.
"Tobias!" A man waved in the distance.
Tobias recognized him immediately. He raised his arm and waved back.
Marco jogged over and Tobias looked him up and down. Marco hadn't changed at all. He was taller, and had a dark tan, but he still had that perpetual smirk on his face.
"Good to see you again, Bird Boy." Marco stuck out him hand and Tobias shook it. It felt weirdly comforting to hear himself called by his old nickname.
Then Marco pulled him into a hug. "Welcome back."
Tobias nodded. "Thanks for inviting me."
Marco grinned as he gestured for Tobias to follow him. "I couldn't have a wedding without the Animorphs."
Tobias sighed as he walked beside Marco along the walkway towards the parking lot. "The Animorphs minus one." He whispered bitterly to himself, remembering.
Marco didn't answer for a long time, but when he finally did, he said. "You still miss Rachel, don't you?"
Tobias winced at the name. "Yeah."
Marco nodded. "Alright, man. I understand. Took me a long time to let go of Mom too."
Tobias had heard that Visser One's ship had been destroyed in battle, and that she had not escaped. The news must have had devastated Marco.
Marco studied his friend. "But you know you'll have to let her go eventually, right? When you're ready." He smiled. "But until then, just know you can count on me."
"Thanks." Tobias knew Marco was right. He had to let go...eventually.
"What are friends for?"
There was silence after that.
Finally, they reached Marco's car. Marco popped open the trunk and took Tobias suitcase from him.
Marco held up the suitcase. "Good grief, you travel light! This thing looks like one of those cases you see pilots dragging around." He cracked a grin. "Then again, you are a pilot now, aren't you? Flying those Andalite fighters?"
"Retired pilot." Tobias corrected.
Marco dropped the suitcase in the trunk and slammed it shut. "Close enough." He walked to the other side of the car. "Come on! Get in."
Tobias opened the door and sat in. He glanced around the car. "Nice." He remarked, feeling the leather interior.
Marco patted the dashboard lovingly. "It's a '04 Porsche 911, but I put in a hydrogen-electric hybrid engine, so while it didn't lose any of its original power, it's still environmentally friendly."
"Cassie would approve." Tobias said, amused.
"Have you talked to her and Jake?" Marco asked.
Tobias shook his head. "Not in years."
"Well, I called them on the Z-space channels, and they promised to come down for the wedding, so you'll see them there. Jake's best man, you know."
Marco stuck his key in and smiled as the engine roared to life. "Oh yeah, baby!" He grinned at Tobias like a kid with a favorite toy. "I have all the newest tech add-ons, but I still prefer to drive the old-fashioned way, without computer assistance."
"Bought her for a song." Marco added as he maneuvered out onto the interstate. "The old engine was bust anyway, so I had to fix her up, and now she's as good as new! Better than new!"
Tobias could feel the acceleration and was reminded of his own ship. "Nice," He told Marco, "but not quite as fast as Elfy."
"The Elfangor. My ship. Whenever I fly, I feel like my father is right beside me." Tobias blushed slightly at revealing such personal details, but Marco didn't seem to notice.
Marco nodded. "Now, this baby, I call her-" He stopped suddenly, a look of embarrassment and horror on his face.
"What?" Tobias demanded.
Marco bit his lip. "Xena."
Inside the car the silence that followed brimmed with tension.
"Sorry." Marco quickly whispered.
Tobias stared out the window. "It's not your fault." The masseter muscle in his cheek twitched. "I still love her. It's been eight god-damn years, and I still can't let her go." Tobias blinked away the tears that were forming in his eyes. "That's one of the reasons I came back, you know. To start over. Space has too many memories of Rachel. Too many ghosts." Tobias closed him eyes. These ghosts weren't only Rachel.
"So you ran from the war?" Marco asked, carefully keeping his eyes on the road.
Tobias began talking again. "In a way. Getting trapped was like the perfect excuse to get away from it all." I figured I could come back to Earth and have a normal life, you know? Maybe pretend I'm normal. I know I'm not, but here, I'm just one more body in seven billion. Out there, there were maybe a thousand humans with the Andalite fleet. I was one of three in our sector. The Animorph. The half-Andalite freak." He shook his head. "I'm twenty-five, Marco. I have my entire life ahead of me. And I'm sick of the war. I need to start over. I need to become just another face in the crowd. A normal human being." He cracked a smile. "And what better way to do that than to watch an old friend get married?"
Marco shrugged. "Is it working?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you forgetting? Are you leaving these 'ghosts' behind? Do you feel normal? Or are you just hiding from who you really are?"
Tobias thought about that. "I don't know, but I've only been on the planet for half an hour. I guess only time will tell."
Marco nodded. "You're right, but let me give you a piece of advice. Don't try to run. 'Cause you can't run from your memories, and you can't run from your past. Things don't work that way. It's a part of who you are, and running from yourself, well, that's just stupid." Marco pursed his lips. "Trust me. I've tried that."
Tobias glanced at him, waiting for an explanation.
Marco saw the look. "I OD'ed on cocaine." He said frankly.
The surprise must have registered on Tobias's face, because Marco smirked and said. "Yeah, I know. Doesn't sound like Almighty Marco, does it?" He let out a long breath of air. "Want an explanation, huh? Well, after the Yeerks got kicked off the planet and you guys went off to chase the across space, I changed my name and became a stockbroker. As far from who I really was as I could find. Well, the firm I was with was crooked. I didn't care. I was a new me. Forget about the old Marco. Started dealing drugs. Turned out the firm had gang connections. Well, I started using the crap myself. Overdosed one day. Woke up in the ICU from a coma and found out my heart stopped three times that night. Talk about getting cold water thrown in your face. I realized what a mess I had made of my life, and started over again. As me this time. Testified against the firm and plea-bargained a parole. Went back to 'Marco the Animorph', and went into military intelligence. Met a few Andalite scientists who weren't particularly fond of the law of Seerow's Kindness and became friends. With time, they helped me out with a few designs, and, Voila!, here I am. A top scientist negotiating a treaty between Andalites and humans to share technology." Marco flashed a half-smile at Tobias. "I've got some skeletons in the closet I'm not proud of. Everyone does. But I've learned to live with them. That's what you got to do. Live with the ghosts of the past."
Tobias looked out the window. He had a lot of ghosts he'd rather keep in the past. Rachel. Merdin. Beth. Alex. Aelex.
They were dead. They were all goddamn dead. Because he couldn't save them.
Tobias looked out the window and watched the city passing by. The city he used to live in.
It had changed, of course, but he still recognized parts. He looked out and saw the EGS Tower where they had pushed the ground based Kandrona out of. It was no longer being used, and had become somewhat of a tourist site. Tobias wondered if he should go back there and look around, for old times' sake, but then pushed the thought out of his mind. That mission brought back too many memories he'd rather forget.
The city had modernized quite a bit. Most of the cars on the road were electric or hydrogen or water powered, or were hybrids like Marco's, and there were even a few of the new antigravity cars that were being tested. They were rather bulky, but Tobias was pretty sure the engineers would fix that sooner or later.
Tobias held his breath as they passed the construction site where they received their power. It wasn't an abandoned construction site anymore. It was a museum dedicated to the resistance and the war.
Marco looked over, and he must have seen Tobias's pale face and stiff form, because he said, "I know it feels weird. I have to drive past that everyday on my way to work, but after a while, you don't really look at it anymore. You get used to it. Good ol' human adaptation, I guess." Marco stopped at the red light and looked around. "Ax always said that adaptation was the one thing that made humans powerful. Maybe that's true. Sometimes, I wish it wasn't, 'cause, you know, we've adapted too. Adapted to being thrown into a war. Adapted to becoming warriors. Killers. And you know what? I could go to a psychologist, and he'd tell me that my humor was a defense mechanism. Cassie's morality too. Your withdraw, Jake turning into a rock, and Rachel's violence. That too, you know." Marco caught Tobias's look. "I know you don't want to talk about her, but it's the truth. We all had to deal with the war, and we all did it in our own little way." The light turned green and they started driving again. "Now, Ax...Ax didn't. He's not human, though he's a lot more human than other Andalites. I guess that's how he escaped it. He just went along with the flow. Do what he was raised to do, and fight the Yeerks. Us," Marco shook his head, "we were kids, man. Kids who weren't ready for this. Who didn't ask for this." He sighed. "See, I once thought we would all one day snap. Well, I was right, in a way. We did snap. We have snapped. We didn't become raving lunatics, but we did become merciless killers. That's pretty much snapping, if you ask me." Marco chuckled. "But you don't ask, right? You know what, Tobias? Right before the war went full-scale and we were kicked out of the game by a couple of snotty two-bit generals, I realized something. I looked in the mirror and realized the person staring back at me was someone who would kill his own mother without hesitation. That person was who I had become. Who I adapted to be to survive in this war. And he hasn't left, Tobias." Marco suddenly looked very old at that moment. "Sometimes, I feel him in me. He's still there, and he always will be. There's always going to be that little voice in my head telling me not to trust my friends, saying Lydie could be one of them, analyzing a situation for danger when I'm at a dinner party, and looking for escape routes when all I want is short cut from work to the grocery store. That's what this war has made me. And now that you've returned to 'normal' life, it's going to hit you too. I'm just warning you, 'cause you'll have to deal. Humans can adapt to something, but they can't magically change back once that something is gone. And that's destroyed us. Not humanity, but us. You, me, and the rest of the Animorphs."
Jordan absentmindedly rearranged the flowers in the vase for the eighth or ninth time. Marco was coming over with a 'surprise', as he called it over the phone.
Jordan wasn't sure why Marco made her so nervous, then again, everything having to do with Rachel made her nervous, and Marco was her dead sister's friend. Sometimes, Jordan wished Marco and everything having to do with Rachel would just go away and never come back, but her mom liked having Marco there. Maybe it made her feel better to have Rachel's old friend filling her place at the dinner table. They had almost become his family Jordan felt sorry for Marco sometimes since he had no family, but he was, in a way, taking Rachel's place, and that didn't feel right.
Lydia was all right, though. Like Marco, she had been orphaned by the war, and ever since he started dating her, she had been assimilated into Jordan's family too. Of course, Jordan knew her younger sister, Sara, was insanely jealous of Lydia because she had a crush on Marco, but Jordan didn't care much about that. Her sister was a childish brat. Sure, she had spent most of her life listening to broadcasts with news about the war, but the worst of it, the actual battles on Earth, were over by the time she was seven, and the most Sara could remember was a lot of yelling and running about. But Jordan's mom treated Sara like fragile glass and spoiled her rotten. Maybe she was trying to make up for the daughter she failed to protect. Both of them.
Sometimes, Jordan was jealous of Sara, but it wasn't really Sara's fault, nor was it her mother's. After the ground war was over and things went back to semi-normal, Jordan enrolled herself in a boarding school and rarely talked to her family. What had happened to her during the ground war alienated her from her mother and sister, who spent the duration of the ground war in a relatively safe shelter. Jordan pretended she was fine; that she didn't hate her sister for abandoning them for space; that she wasn't mad at her father, who had died, of all the stupid ways, trying to cover the war for the news reports; that she didn't care she had lost a leg and her life was ruined. Jordan had always had a reputation for being a tough tomboy, and so she played up to that part.
Ever since Jordan had been a kid, she had wanted to be like Rachel. Her older sister was beautiful, smart, and didn't take any crap from anyone. Jordan wanted to be tough during the war so she could be like the hero Rachel was. Sure, the military never publicized the fact, nor gave credit to the 'kid resistance', but in Jordan's neighborhood, where half of the community were Controllers by the time the ground war started, everyone knew about the 'Andalite Bandits'. No one talked about it, but Jordan knew they all thought the Animorphs were heroes.
Of course, most of them had moved by now, and since few people wanted to talk about being a Controller, Jordan had a feeling her family was now the only one who knew about Rachel. It was kind of funny that the people who had saved the world were all but forgotten, but by the way Marco acted, Jordan thought perhaps that was the way they wanted it.
Jordan sighed and looked around the family room. The clock told her Marco would be there soon.
Jordan wondered why she was even standing there. She was twenty-four years old and had graduated with a B.Sc. five months ago. She was two years behind because the ground war had caused all the schools to close, but then again, so was everyone else her age. All their lives had been put on hold for those two horrible years, and people were getting their lives back together now. But instead of going out into the world to get a job, Jordan had come back home to sulk.
Jordan wandered into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. "Shit." She muttered. "Sara!" Jordan screamed. "Where's that six pack I bought yesterday?"
"How the hell should I know?" Sara snapped back from upstairs.
Jordan swore to herself. She was hot and she wanted a drink. Not to mention, when Marco got back, he'd want one too.
"I'm going out!" She yelled to Sara.
Jordan grabbed her keys from the kitchen counter and opened the door to the garage. She pulled on her sneaker and locked the door behind her. Sara may have been a teenager, but she didn't pay much attention to the world around her -except guys.
Jordan got into her specially designed car and pulled on her seat belt. She didn't really need a car with the pedals on the left, but it did help. Jordan could technically drive using her right leg, but she couldn't feel the pedals beneath the soles of her feet.
Jordan had lost her leg early in the ground war. The Yeerks had blown up her house out of spite, and a piece of sheet metal had slashed through her leg one inch below the knee. Jordan spent the rest of the two years in a hospital hopping around on her good leg. She didn't even have crutches since there were so many wounded soldiers filling up the hospital, and they got top priority. Her family had given her up for dead, as Jordan found out after the ground war was over.
Two years as a cripple had certainly changed her. Gone were the dreams of her childhood. She had once wanted to be beautiful, smart and strong -like Rachel- when she was young, but she had neither the looks nor the brains. She was, however, as everyone remarked, just as stubborn. And there was one thing she had that Rachel did not: She could play soccer, and play well.
Jordan could still remember the day open war broke out. She had just finished trying out for the high school team, and the coach had pulled her over as everyone was leaving to tell her she had made the team. Jordan lost her leg a week later. Jordan would never be the next Mia Hamm. All she had been before the war was gone, leaving the husk of the crippled body she had left behind.
But in the hospital, she forgot about her dreams of a soccer scholarship and Olympic gold. All she wanted was to survive the war; survive seeing mangled bodies covered with Dracon burns, and hearing the screams of soldiers who no longer looked human; sleeping in a corner on in the floor in the nurses office, because all the beds were full; biting her lip so she wouldn't throw up as she watched doctors push a mans guts back in and sewn up his abdomen right there on the floor of the ER because there was no room anywhere else; waking up to the echoing blasts from the fighting and realizing the walls were splattered with gobules of flesh drench in blood and flecks of gray that Jordan knew were brains because a Bug fighter had fired on them and demolished a section of the hospital; looking out the window and seeing the bodies pile up in the mass graves; suturing a man's cut arm because all the doctors were busy and she had seen it done enough times; wrapping up the body of dead newborn because an explosion had induced premature labor in her mother. Jordan lived, but she could never forget.
At the end of the ground war, all Jordan wanted was to walk again. Fortunately, new technology had surfaced and she was able to get a prosthetic leg almost as real as the real one. She could walk, jump around, even run a bit after some practice.
Jordan was determined to play soccer again, and focused on re-teaching her remaining muscles how to kick again. And through it all, she was running from the truth. Sure, Jordan could run and kick the ball again, but she could no longer stream down the field, dodge around the defenders, and send the ball flying into the net, slipping millimeters by the goalkeepers fingertips into a perfect goal. And Jordan lost her dream again.
Jordan sighed to herself and stared the motor. Memories were best left alone. She wasn't ready to face the ghosts of her past.
Jordan backed down the driveway and drove to the store.
Tobias stared as the car slowed down. The neighborhood...The neighborhood was exactly as he remembered. Jake's neighborhood. Rachel's neighborhood. Oh God, Rachel... Tobias tried say something, but his mouth was dry.
There it was. Right there. Rachel's house exactly the way it had been before the war. Tobias felt a chill run down his spine, because he knew Rachel's house had been destroyed in the war. It was like looking through time.
"They rebuilt it." Marco explained as he parked the car in the driveway. "They rebuilt the entire neighborhood."
"Why are we here?" Tobias asked.
Marco shrugged. "I practically live here."
Tobias raised his eyebrow. "How's that?"
"I mean, sure I have an apartment, but I eat dinner here almost every night. Good grief, I bring my laundry here! I don't even have a TV in my pad!"
"But aren't you getting married?"
"Lydie doesn't mind. She loves Naomi's cooking, and we've even talked about moving in after we're married."
Tobias gawked. "You've got to be kidding me! I mean, you're a grown man."
Marco shrugged "Naomi's been like a mother to us. I lost my mother a long time ago. And so did Lydia. We love Naomi. I guess she's become like a surrogate mom to us. It seems only natural for us to move in."
"But do they have enough room? As I remember it, they only have four bedrooms—"
"—and Rachel's room is empty." Marco finished. He bit his lip. "It's weird, but it's not like it was her room anyway. Her room got bombed."
Tobias looked away. He had flown into that room through the window every night for two years.
"This one's been a guest room, and I crash there whenever I don't feel like driving back to the apartment." Marco shrugged. "Naomi doesn't mind. In fact, I think she wants us to move in." Marco got out of the car and gestured to Tobias to follow him.
Tobias took a deep breath. He didn't want to do this. Sure, he knew he'd have to face his past if he came back to Earth, but he figured it was better than the ghosts of the base. Well, maybe he was wrong, 'cause here he was at Rachel's house. What could possibly remind him more of her? Tobias got out of the car and joined Marco on the front step.
Marco tapped the 8-digit code on the pad next to the lock and the door swung open.
Marco took a quick look around and, in classic Marco style, shouted at the top of his lungs, "Honey, I'm home!"
Tobias shook his head. Marco hadn't changed.
He heard the thundering of feet running above and looked up to see a teenage girl dancing down the stairs. Tobias's first impression was that of an exotic model, but a second look told him she was just a normal teen. Very beautiful and probably a model, but not really exotic. But there was something about her...
The girl gave them an impish smile and threw her arms around Marco's neck. "Markie! You're back!" She hugged him and kissed him on his cheek.
Marco grinned and tugged her ponytail playfully. "I told you not to call me that."
She stuck her tongue out. "So?"
Marco turned to Tobias. "You may not remember her, but this is Rachel's sister, Sara."
Tobias was shocked. The last time he had seen Sara, she was only six years old.
Sara let go of Marco and glided over to Tobias. She encircled his arm and looked up at him. "And who's this, Marco?"
"This is the surprise I was talking about. Meet Tobias, Sara."
Sara looked Tobias up and down as if appraising him. "Mmmhhh... Nice to meet you." She threw Marco a look. "Not the Tobias?"
Marco nodded. "Yeah, the Animorph."
Sara's eyes lighted with interest. "I see." She sudden jumped back. "Well, I have stuff to do, so see you later." She started up the stairs.
"Wait!" Marco called after her. "Where's Naomi and Jordan?"
Sara turned around halfway and shrugged. "Mom's at work, I think."
"But it's a Saturday!" Marco protested.
"Some big case." Sara said in a bored voice.
"Well, what about Jor?"
"She went out. To the store or something." Sara disappeared upstairs.
Marco looked embarrassed. "Sorry you had to see that."
Tobias shrugged. "That's okay."
"Sara's got some problems." Marco explained. "You know, with her mind. Because of the war and all. She's really childish, like she never grew up. Her mind's still trapped in the past. The years during the ground war."
Tobias winced. "Will she be okay?"
Marco shrugged. "Depends on what you mean by 'okay', I guess. She's pretty. She can get a job. Do modeling. And then she'll marry some rich guy and be his trophy wife. It's not a great life, but it ain't too bad either. And it suits her, you know? To be taken care of like a kid. She'd like that kind of life."
Tobias shook his head. "But that sounds so pathetic."
Marco nodded. "Yeah, but there's nothing we can do about it. She's just like that. The war made her that way."
Tobias slowly nodded. He thought about the Animorphs, their families, everyone in the world. All those lives changed forever. "Yeah. The war made us all that way."
Marco set the suitcase down on the bed. "Here you go."
Tobias looked around the room. It was sparsely furnished. There was a desk and two double beds. A closet covered the wall n one side and a laundry basket filled with what Tobias supposed to be Marco's clothes.
Tobias stared at the blue and white curtains that covered the window. Rachel's curtains, he remembered, had been red. He had flown by them every night and they had grazed the tips of his wings.
This is Rachel's room." He finally whispered.
Marco nodded. "Yeah." He gave Tobias a forced smile. "Make yourself at home. I'll go and get some drinks."
Tobias nodded and sat down on the bed closest to him. He looked around. This was no longer Rachel's room. Her clothes no longer overflowed the closets; her makeup wasn't scattered over her dresser; her homework didn't sit on her desk, ready for him to help her do; there was no bag of Tommy Hilfiger clothes under the bed, waiting for him. Rachel was gone.
Tobias walked to the window and pushed back the curtain. The landscape had changed in the past ten years, but he could still trace the path he flew each night. "Rachel" Tobias whispered to himself. "Where are you, Rachel?"
"Hello, Tobias." A soft voice said behind him.
Tobias whirled around. She stood at the doorway, her long blond hair swirling around her face. She smiled. That smile that she only smiled for him. The sun struck her at such an angle that she looked like a goddess. Or an angel.
"Rachel..." Tobias whispered.
Her face fell. "No." The short word was bitter. She looked like she was going to cry. "I'm Rachel's sister, Jordan."
"Oh..." Tobias pulled himself together. "I'm sorry... For a minute there...I thought..."
"It's okay." Jordan looked away. "You're not the first."
Tobias noticed for the first time that she was holding an open can of beer in her hand and was holding one out to him.
"Sure." He took it. Tobias had never drank alcohol before. It was banned on Andalite territory because the Andalites went crazy over the taste, and you didn't want a drunk Andalite in combat. But Tobias didn't particularly care at that moment.
Tobias popped the can open and took a gulp. The bitter liquid burned down his esophagus. It took all his self-control to keep from gagging.
"Hey, man!" Marco wandered in. "In case you didn't hear when I yelled, Jordan's—" Marco stopped when he saw Jordan. "—back." He finished. "But you knew that."
Tobias nodded and Jordan gave a weak smile.
Marco blinked. "Bird-Boy, I didn't know you drank."
Tobias coughed slightly. "I don't."
"I need to do something." Jordan got up and slipped out the open door behind Marco.
Marco frowned as he watched Jordan walk away. "Is it just me, or was that an excuse to get away?
That was an excuse." Tobias said quietly, remembering what had occurred moments before.
"Why?" Marco asked.
Tobias didn't answer.
Jordan closed the door to her room behind her and locked it.
She couldn't believe it, but she should have know. A lot of people had mistaken her for Rachel. Even her own mother cringed when she looked at Jordan, remembering. Why should Rachel's husband be any different?
It was always about Rachel. It had always been about Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. Jordan felt like Jan on the Brady Bunch.
She hated Rachel.
Her sister. The smart one. The pretty one. The one everyone saw first. The hero. The goddess. The sun.
Jordan knew that whatever she did, she would always be compared to Rachel. Jordan would always be know as Rachel's little sister. No matter how smart or beautiful or successful she was, Rachel would always be Number One.
Rachel had been that way ever since she was born. Her father used to call her 'Princess'.
Sara, when she was still learning to talk, called Rachel 'Ra'. Jordan, at the time, had found it funny because she had just learned in school that Ra was the Egyptian sun god. She had announced the fact to her parents, and her father said that Rachel was the Sun Goddess.
Rachel may have been the sun, but Rachel had a shadow. A very long shadow. And Jordan would be forever trapped in that shadow.
Rachel's shadow. Ra's shadow.