Life With a Lizard
Title: Life With a Lizard
Warning: This story is AU obviously
Teaser: Robin is worried about her Visitor husband's behavior and conveniently has forgotten what he really is – a lizard – due to her lizard phobia.
DISCLAIMER: The characters are not mine. They belong to whoever owns the rights to the "V" miniseries. This is just for fun.
Author's Note: This is my first "V" story. My main reason for writing this is because I don't think it was right for Robin to kill Brian just because he didn't tell her he was really a reptile. She knew he was an alien. I enjoyed watching "V" as a kid in the 80s and I've been watching it again on dvd recently, hence this story. I originally wanted to make this a comedy, but it insisted on being a drama.
Apprehensively, Robin Maxwell stepped into the small room where her husband, Brian, kept his pets. Furry rodents scurried about inside the wire cages, some burrowing into the aspen chips that covered the bottom of each cage. Their tiny feet were always busy digging and making a mess, the wood chips often being knocked out of the cage to flutter slowly onto the linoleum floor. A frown crossed her face and her nose wrinkled at the odd scent that filled the room. Rat and mice urine had a strange smell, a scent she didn't exactly care for. Although Brian changed their bedding often, she could still smell it lightly. Why did he keep the dirty things? They were rodents for goodness sake! Any sensible person would kill the nasty things and be done with it!
But Brian wasn't exactly normal. He was a Visitor, an alien from Sirius Four. When she had first met him, she had thought he was romantic and exotic. He looked incredibly handsome in his red Visitor uniform and with his thick sandy hair – and those gorgeous eyes! He must have seen such wondrous things on his journey across the stars and one foggy day when he had finally talked to her, it had been the brightest day of her entire life. Then when she had been taken to the mothership and locked in a small room, frightened and alone, he had made her secret dream come true.
And then she had given birth to the first human-Visitor hybrids. Her darling daughter Elizabeth who meant the world to her and…
Robin shook her head, unwilling to remember the Other One as a chill swept down her back. She didn't want to think about that thing at all. Maybe it really hadn't happened at all. Elizabeth was perfectly normal and the sweetest little girl. Yes, maybe she grew very strangely; she shed her skin and grown to the size of an eight-years-old when in fact she should be just over a year, but otherwise she looked human. There had been a war going on and maybe the stress of it all, pregnancy hormones, her father constantly asking her whom the father had been and her teasing sister – yes, it hadn't been real. A horrible green-scaled thing couldn't have come out of her! Brian didn't look like that at all, no matter what people said.
The Visitors were not lizards!
Snapping out of her reverie, Robin remembered the dustpan and brush in her hands. Warily, she forced herself to walk up to the cages. As she approached them, some of the rodents started squeaking loudly; begging for food no doubt. They had black beady eyes that seemed to watch her every move. They came in different colors, too. Some were white like lab mice, but there were black ones and a few calicos as well. A few of the mice climbed up the wire surface of the cage as easily as a person climbs a ladder. The things were like monkeys really and could get everywhere.
And the rats…
Those really made her shudder! They were much larger and just seeing them gave her the creeps. Rats were dangerous and could inflict nasty bites. Jabbing the air with a finger, Robin counted the plump rats in the cage. Her frown increased when she came up with a number lower than yesterday's count by two. And five lower than the day before yesterday… She didn't see any obvious holes in the cage, but they were clearly sneaking out somehow! Leaving the wood chips on the floor, Robin dashed out of the room and closed the door as quickly as she could, but the things probably had already snuck out. With those awful teeth they had, they could chew holes through almost anything. She imagined them crawling along the pipes of the house, hiding in the cupboards and ruining their food. They would leave their nasty droppings everywhere and chew holes in everything!
Pacing nervously, Robin pondered what to do. What if a loose rat bit Elizabeth? There were dark corners everywhere and her young daughter may not realize the rodent was dangerous. Young children often loved animals and always wanted to pet them. Worst, Elizabeth was younger than her years and just didn't have the experience a real eight-year-old would have. Should she buy traps? What if Elizabeth got her fingers caught in them? Pausing for a moment, Robin listened for telltale scurrying sounds but didn't hear anything.
Putting the brush and dustpan away, she quickly headed to the living room to check on Elizabeth. Satisfied that her daughter was busy watching Sesame Street, she headed towards the bathroom. The sound of running water filled her ears and she increased her pace, expecting to find that Elizabeth had left the tap running. But instead there was a shadow behind the shower curtain…
Had her husband come home early? Since the Visitors and their giant saucers had left, her father had helped Brian get a normal job. He enjoyed living on Earth, claiming it was much better than Sirius Four. She found that hard to believe. Earth was so ordinary from her viewpoint, but it was blessed with a huge quantity of water: the most rare and valuable commodity in the universe.
"Brian?" Robin called as she approached the shower curtain, her hand reaching out for the plastic material. "Those horrid rats of yours are…"
Her words trailed off as a large area of green scales met her startled eyes. Shrieking, Robin dashed out of the bathroom and right across the hall into their bedroom. Her dark eyes were wide with fright and her heart pounded loudly within her chest as she slammed the bedroom door, pressing her back against it. Chest heaving, she scanned the room for anything she could use for a weapon. There was their bed, the dresser, and a desk under the window… Oh, why couldn't Brian had kept some of those laser guns the Visitors had? Then she could shoot the bloody thing, whatever it had been!
Had her husband brought home another pet without telling her, something large and scaly? The Visitors weren't all that smart with Earth things and often didn't know how dangerous things could be.
"Elizabeth!" Robin cried as she suddenly remembered her young daughter happily sitting in front of the TV downstairs. Was a horrible crocodile sneaking up on her this very moment? Flinging the door open once again, Robin practically collided with her husband's chest. "Oh, Brian! There was some horrible thing in the bathroom, all green and scaly!"
"Really?" He asked, an innocent look on his handsome face. "Do you want me to go look?"
"Yes!" Robin trailed after him as he headed across the hall to the bathroom, clinging to his arm in fright. "And be careful! The thing I saw looked quite tall, so it must be a really giant reptile. It might try to bite you. Maybe we should call Animal Control…."
Brian gazed at her for a moment, then headed into the bathroom. He scanned the room, peered behind the door and pushed the shower curtain aside. "I don't see anything in here…"
"But it was right there!" Robin pointed at the shower with a trembling hand. The plastic curtain was covered in a billion tiny water droplets, proof something had just been in there. And that damp bath towel hadn't been on the floor before, either. A thought nagged at her mind, but she pushed it aside, yet in her heart she knew that a crocodile or other large reptile wouldn't use a towel or know how to turn a water faucet on, nether less be intelligent enough to use a shower!
"What exactly did you see?" Brian asked, his voice calm even though she was upset. Gently wrapping his arm about her shoulders, he held her in his slightly warm embrace. Visitors had a lower body temperature than humans and their skin often felt cool.
He never seemed to get annoyed with her and he was the perfect father to their child. He truly loved Elizabeth and she was still shocked that she had almost murdered him that one night back in the Resistance hideout. Worst, she had been planning on doing it right in front of their young daughter. How could she have thought that doing such a thing would be OK? If she would have, she would have been a real monster. The test tube of red dust had been in her hand and she had wanted to throw it so badly into the giant glass enclosure where Brain was being held. She had hated him for not telling her the truth, the truth about the Visitors….
She had been in shock, of course. Having recently given birth to the Other One would have shocked anyone. She didn't want to think that Brian really looked that way and that she had lain with something more akin to a crocodile than a human.
Or that she was married to one now – she loved her husband but she didn't want to think too much about what he really was.
So she had yelled at him instead, making enough loud racket to wake everyone up. Julia had carefully pried the dangerous tube out of her hand and had kept the stuff locked up afterwards. And Ham had given her a talk about how she didn't want to end up like him - a cold-blooded killer. In the end Brian had talked so sweetly that she had forgiven him, that and he claimed to be with the Fifth Column. She still didn't know if he had actually been with the Fifth Column or not and that part didn't really matter to her. He was her Visitor and she loved him, but she had felt betrayed at the time, too.
Robin truly didn't know what she had seen in the shower, as it had just been a quick glimpse. It could have been a back or maybe part of an arm… ? "Just something green, bumpy and with scales! It frightened me…"
"I'm sorry something scared you. You know I love you, Robin, and I love our daughter." Brian said softly into her ear, his arms wrapped about her. "I'll go check all the rooms if you want, but I don't see any water trails going out of the room. Surely a wet animal would leave a trail behind itself…"
Peering past his shoulder, Robin spotted the now-familiar plastic bottle sitting on the edge of the sink, the one with Visitor writing on it. It looked very similar to a shampoo bottle except she knew it contained an oily, slick substance. The bottle had water droplets on it and she would have sworn it hadn't been there a moment before. Humans used soap to get excess oil and dirt off their skin, so what did Brian use the oily stuff for? It was better not to think about it too much really. It was clear he wasn't putting it in his hair.
"You had better look for those escaped rats, too." She informed him, a slight dreadful feeling sneaking up on her. She suspected she was acting silly and he was humoring her in some way and yet being totally serious, too. They both knew what she had really seen and knew them one of them was ignoring the truth.
Or maybe they both were. Maybe he liked to pretend just as much as she did. They never really discussed the matter so she didn't know.
"Did some of my rats escape?" He asked, surprised. "Did you open the cage for some reason?"
"No, but everyday there are fewer and fewer rats in the cage! The big ones are disappearing on a steady basis. Those things can carry horrid diseases, Brian. Don't you know that? And they bite babies! What if one bites our daughter? Why can't you have a cat or a dog instead of rodents?"
"They're very clean animals, Robin. You know they came from a pet store, not some dumpster. In fact, rats and mice make excellent pets. Many humans keep them for pets. Didn't you ever have a pet?"
"No…" Robin shook her head. "But that still doesn't explain where they are going! I don't want some rat leaping out of the cupboards when I'm reaching for the box of pasta!"
Not that Brian ever ate pasta…
"I'll go search the house, but I'm sure it's perfectly fine."
Robin noted that he didn't say where the missing rodents had gone to or even admitted that some of them were gone. Glancing at her watch, she saw it was much later than she had thought and it was time to start cooking supper. Nor did she find any evidence of rodents in the kitchen: no sign of droppings and no food containers had been chewed. It just didn't make any sense…
'But they're lizards' a voice whispered in her head. She had seen National Geographic on TV before and although she had hated the violent scenes of one animal eating another, she knew what snakes ate.
No, no, NO! Robin shook her head. That idea had been truly horrid. Besides, Brian was a Visitor, not some wild snake out in the jungle. He was civilized. He used computers for goodness sake! Someone intelligent enough to use computers certainly wouldn't eat rodents! That was just insane.
"It's his secretive nature that's making me have these insane thoughts!"
That and Mike Donovan always insisting the Visitors were lizards! Everyone knew he and Martin were best friends. He certainly wouldn't be best buddies with a guy that swallowed rats, would he? Of course not! He even hired Martin to be his soundman now that the war was over. Robin filled a kettle with water, added a bit of salt and set it on the stove to boil. "It's just a money-making scheme of his. News people will do anything to make news, the more sensational the better…"
Time passed as she made a simple salad of raw vegetables for her husband. He didn't even use dressing, just ate it raw and plain as could be. His eating habits worried her as well. He ate so little that she just didn't see why he didn't shrivel up to only skin and bones. The timer buzzed and she pulled the pasta off the stove, draining it. Although Brian didn't eat spaghetti, she and Elizabeth loved it. Thank goodness their daughter had a normal, healthy appetite!
A short time later, Brian joined the two at the dinner table. He had dutifully searched the house just as he said he would and she had seen him peering in dark corners and under the sofa. "I saw no signs of either loose rodents or of any giant reptile in the house. Nor did I hear anything. If there were anything, I would have heard it. My people have excellent hearing."
Elizabeth looked from her father to her mother, as silent as ever. Her daughter's extreme shyness worried Robin somewhat. Was she traumatized from the war in some way or was it just the fast aging that had her confused? She never ran about shouting as normal children did. Maybe her daughter would grow up to be a bookworm or perhaps a scientist like her grandfather.
"I baked fresh rolls for our supper. Won't you try one, Brian?" Robin prompted as she saw the small amount of salad he had put onto his plate. It was barely enough to feed a child nether less a grown man.
"I'm sorry, but you know I can't eat processed or cooked food. My people can't digest it very well and it makes us sick." Brian explained with a sad expression on his face. "Otherwise I would be happy to eat the wonderful meals you prepare."
"But surely you can't live on that small amount of greens!" She exclaimed, worried. "You need to eat more than that surely. What did you eat on your homeworld? Didn't your mother ever cook for you as a child?"
"No, my mother never cooked. Cooking is a strange, foreign idea to us; one we didn't know even existed until we arrived at your planet. Many of the things that are ordinary to you are very strange to me, but cooking is near the top of the list." Brain told her as he stabbed the raw vegetables on his plate with a fork. "We've always eaten all of our food raw."
Robin suddenly remembered her midnight trips to the small kitchen in the Resistance hideout to gulp dawn raw liver during her pregnancy. She didn't want to remember that, not really and now the memory made her stomach feel slightly queasy. Oddly, she had never gotten sick from it but maybe she had just been lucky. Or it was that frightening patch of green skin that had grown on her neck that had kept her healthy…she suspected there had been things Julia had never told her. Robin stared at the spaghetti on her plate for a few minutes, allowing the rich aroma to calm her. "Even raw … meat?"
"Yes." He admitted. "On Sirius Four we have animals similar to your rats and pigs. We do not call them that, of course, but I think those are the best terms to describe them."
Robin raised her dark eyes to stare at her husband, feeling slightly shocked. "And you eat them raw? Doesn't the raw meat make you sick?"
"No, we have a short digestive track. The meat passes through our system quickly. We always make certain it's fresh before we eat it, too. That prevents illness." Brian explained, his eyes filling with concern. "Are you certain you wish to discuss this? Humans are sensitive to our eating habits and I don't want to upset you."
"I want to know. I need to know that you're not starving yourself or …" She paused, as there was no polite way to ask if he were eating any of their neighbors. That had been the other wild rumor going around – that Visitors used humans as food. She didn't want to believe that, either. It had been so cool to meet a real alien and she didn't want the dream to turn into a nightmare. She was trying to salvage that dream. The Visitors were still interesting, but her fantasy had tarnished and no longer had that shiny silver lining as the facts of reality set in. "A relationship needs to be based on honesty, Brain. I want to learn about you and your people – the truth about them, but how can I if you keep it all a secret?"
"Are you sure that's what you wish?" He asked as he rose from his seat at the kitchen table. Crossing to the freezer, he pulled out an orange creamsicle for their daughter as she had finished her meal. Unwrapping the frozen treat, he handed it to his young daughter. "I know I look human, but I'm not. I think your people often forget that as you grow used to seeing us this way and you're all very good at pretending."
Elizabeth sat at the table, happily gripping the wooden stick. She was a beautiful child with waist-long blonde hair and blue eyes. By looking at her, one would never guess she was part Visitor – until she stuck her tongue out. She did so now, her too long and thin forked tongue darting out to lick at the frozen desert.
Robin knew she had been pretending that her daughter was perfectly normal and that the snake-like tongue didn't exist. It was easy, as she almost never saw it. Elizabeth had learned quickly to keep her odd tongue hidden, especially when out in public. Its oddness frightened Robin. She knew it was irrational, but it was there just the same. Still, Robin knew she had grown more accustomed to it over time. Seeing her daughter's forked tongue didn't bother her as much now as it did the first time, right after Elizabeth had been born. Right after birth, her daughter had hissed at her, the forked tongue thrusting out and vibrating. "Do … do you have a tongue like that?"
"Of course I do." Brian replied, a faint smile on his face. "Where else do you think our daughter got her tongue from?"
"But I never see it." Robin protested, confused. Brian looked completely human to her. Nor did she notice it when they kissed. "I don't understand how you can hide something like that. You appear to have a human tongue in your mouth. I can see it when you talk."
"My people's technology is far advanced and the disguises we make are very good. They have to be." Brian explained, looking nervous. "I know you are angry about the things you went through before. Believe me, I never dreamed it was possible for us to have a child together as our species are so different. No one thought it was possible. It was a miracle. I wish I could have been there, but I didn't know. You must have been very frightened."
"Of course I was frightened! I had green scales growing on my neck!" Robin exclaimed loudly, stabbing a meatball viciously with her fork. She needed to eat her meal before it grew cold. Stuffing the tangy meatball into her mouth, she chewed. Her mind whirled around like a building storm of dark thunderclouds. A part of her was stunned that Brian had admitted that he was wearing a disguise. What exactly did the disguise cover? And how much of his human appearance was the disguise? Did he look like the lizards her younger sister had teased her with so cruelly during her pregnancy? Or was his skin just green but otherwise looking human? Maybe that wouldn't be too bad…would it? He did have green skin, didn't he? The thing she had glimpsed in the shower had been green… And she had seen Willie's green back once when Julia had done some test to it…it had freaked her out so badly at the time that the memory was hazy.
"Was the pregnancy very difficult?" He asked as he pulled his chair next to hers.
"Not physically. I was more frightened of the things I didn't understand: the green mark on my neck, the desire for raw meat and everyone kept insisting you guys were lizards….I didn't want to believe that. And once I saw Willie's back, I was scared of what was growing inside me – that it would be a monster…"
"Do lizards frighten you?" He asked as he reached out and held her free hand, the one she wasn't eating with. "We are different, but we are not monsters. Being a true monster has nothing to do with your appearance but with one's behavior. Diana forced many of us to do things we didn't want to do and we had to go along with it less she kill us. I often had to pretend to enjoy things I found disturbing."
Robin contemplated the question. She hadn't particularly been frightened of the few lizards the Resistance had kept in glass cages. There had been an iguana and a few others. She had known they weren't really dangerous but then she hadn't liked them, either. If it had been a loose rattlesnake she would have been scared, as those were poisonous. Her daughter was apparently poisonous, too, and could spit a dangerous neurotoxin when threatened. It had happened only once, thankfully, but her youngest sister had almost died from the attack. "Not if they're in cages. A big, loose one would scare me. Is that what you really are? A lizard?"
"Technically I am reptilian…" Brain looked worried now that he had told her the truth. It was plain in his eyes.
At his words, a cold feeling settled in her stomach. She had known, of course, but to hear him admit it was still shocking. She turned to look at him, the empty fork forgotten in her other hand. Even thought he had just admitted it, a part of her still insisted that it just couldn't be. His disguise was too perfect. She could even see sentiment in his human eyes and when they had made love they showed passion. Were his eyes even real? She didn't see how anyone could have fake eyes. If there were artificial, how could they show emotion or widen in surprise? His eyelids moved, too. How could you put fake eyelids on a person? Yet every reptile she had ever seen had slit pupils – the pupils she saw before her now were round and normal. Robin didn't know if she could ever handle that – a husband with slit pupils like a snake. The skin she thought maybe, just maybe, she could accept over time. She had accepted Elizabeth's forked tongue, hadn't she?
"Robin? Are you all right? I know this must be very shocking…"
Gears whirled in Robin's mind as she thought of the missing rats. Perhaps there were mice missing as well. She really hadn't bothered counting those before. But the rats had been large and plump, well fed. A few were surely equal to a meal of chicken or turkey pieces on a plate… Slowly she raised her eyes to see him properly. A strange calm had settled over her for the moment. "There are no loose rats in the house, are there?"
Brian shook his head.
"You really … eat them?" She wasn't sure she really wanted to know that answer. Somehow the idea of him eating rats was far worst than him having green skin. Maybe it was because she associated rodents with dirty alleys and disease. Rats had carried the Black Death. Everyone knew that.
"Yes. I realize that must be disturbing to you. It's why I eat them in private. I can eat a variety of small animals, but rodents are fast breeders and easy to care for."
Rats. Her husband was eating rats…
She had suspected that in the back of her mind, but she hadn't really wanted to face that. After all, she kissed Brian on a regular basis. How could she kiss someone that ate rats?
But you're still alive…
Yes, she was still alive and she'd been kissing him all along. If his eating habits hadn't made her sick yet, the odds were she wouldn't get sick at all. Maybe they were extra clean rodents or her ideas about rodents were wrong in the first place.
"But why the disguises at all?" She finally asked, confused. "We knew you were aliens. The giant saucers proved that. Why weren't your people open about their true appearance? We knew it was highly unlikely that aliens would look like we did."
"Our leaders discussed this. Many of us wanted to be truthful, yet we knew you had a long history of fearing reptiles. In many Earth cultures the snake represents evil. Or you use giant reptiles as villains in your entertainment. Our need was desperate and we couldn't take the chance you would turn us away because of our appearance. This is what our commanders told us when we were preparing to approach your planet."
Robin nodded her understanding. She had seen a lot of movies with reptile monsters. But now that she knew, it would be easier to accept it or that's what she hoped. Maybe, someday, she'd ask to see a bit of his green skin. A small patch wouldn't look too bad and she could get used to it slowly. It was really the unknown that had frightened her so badly. The Visitors were no more monsters than any other creature that lived on Earth. It wasn't their physical appearance that made them bad it was thieving ways and cannibalism. Eating another intelligent species was wrong.
"Do you think you can truly accept me as I am, now that you know my true nature?" He asked, worried.
Could she accept the truth? She had thought she had accepted it before and then had found herself pretending he was human again. With the perfect disguises, it was easy. But then, she had never actually seen Brian's green skin. Maybe she needed to see the truth in order to actually accept what he was. "I … I think I need to see…"
"Are you certain?" He asked, worried that she would go into hysterics again at the sight of his green skin.
Robin bit her lip and nodded. She had matured since that day at the Resistance hideout, keeping a house with Brian, raising a daughter and getting to know him better. She knew him far better now than she used to before when their relationship had consisted of mostly a few short conversations. The truth was, she had had an awful crush on him but she hadn't known how he had felt about her. "If I don't see it, I'll always keep believing that you're human even though I know you're not. Humans often have to see things to believe them."
Rolling up his sleeve, Brian dug his fingernails into the fake human skin on his arm, peeling back a short section. Green lizard skin glistened underneath, still wet with oil. The area he had torn was about the size of a half dollar, just large enough that she could see the truth yet hopefully not large enough to scare her.
The green skin pulsed to an alien heartbeat and Robin gulped. It looked strange, yes, but she managed to control herself. She didn't want to act the fool, screaming in fear of her own husband. Besides, she wasn't scared of Brian. Like Willie, he was very gentle. Most Visitor men seemed to be and that's what attracted human women to them. They didn't take drugs, become alcoholics or beat on their wives. It was the Visitor women that were tough as nails and extremely dangerous. Word was that the female commander of the LA mothership, Diana, often killed her own lovers and crew on whims or to cover her own mistakes. She was a true monster.
Cautiously, Robin reached out and touched the patch of green with a finger. The lizard skin was cool, oily and a little bumpy, but it really wasn't all that bad. "I think we should have done this earlier…"
"You weren't ready for it then."
No, she probably hadn't been ready. But she was now. And if Harmony could accept Willie as a lizard, then she could accept Brian. Just being a lizard did not make one a monster. It had taken time, but she had learned that lesson. And if the real monster, Diana, ever returned, hopefully Earth would be ready for her and her troops.