This story picks up about a year after Udara Legacy and focuses mostly on Buck although the other major characters will appear as well. As ages were rather flexible since the Alien Nation movies shot several years after the series finished, I'm summarizing what I'm using for this story—

All of the adults (George, Susan, Matt, Cathy, Albert, etc.) are still adults and are in the same jobs and family situations that they were in the series. Of the Francisco kids, Buck is 22 and a police officer, Emily is 16 and a junior in high school, and Vessna (is back) and is 5. Albert and May have a child a few months shy of a year old; as of yet he/she/it hasn't put in an appearance in the story so no name. Minor characters from the series will put in appearances as I need them, and if there's a character here that wasn't in the series, I've probably invented them.

--For those of you who are following River of Dreams, it hasn't been abandoned or anything like that. I found that having two primary in-progress stories worked pretty well, especially when I wanted to try a new technique, so I'm thinking about making this my new one now that Children of Man is done.

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Buck looked around the apartment and tried not to sigh. It wasn't any worse than any of the dozen other apartments he'd looked at today, but it wasn't really any better, either. He knew what his parents would say—were going to say—when he told them he was looking for a place of his own: he had a perfectly good room at home, and why would he want to go somewhere where he had to pay for his own utilities and food and everything else? They both seemed to miss the fact that he was twenty-two years old, with a steady job that he'd held for over six months, and it was past time that he had some independence. He surveyed the room again and tried not to shake his head. Unfortunately said steady job wasn't exactly the best-paying in the world, especially since he was only a rookie on the force, which kind of limited his options.

"Well?" Eric prompted. Buck had met the landlord through one of the dispatchers at the station; he was Michelle's uncle, or something like that, he thought. Human, quite a bit older…so far he seemed like a decent guy, if a bit harried. And at least he hadn't lied and claimed that the apartment was in 'like new' condition like one of the other landlords he talked to had. That place hadn't been in 'like new' condition since the fifties. If then.

He took another look around, trying to imagine the place with some area rugs and some art on the walls. He could probably make it work. This neighborhood was marginally better than most of the rest he'd looked in, at least, although he could already hear his parents fussing about it the first time they came over. He pushed that thought firmly out of his mind. He was an adult; this was his decision. So the neighborhood was tolerable, and if the apartment wasn't in the best shape, that had been true of just about everything he'd looked at. Here he had a little more square footage without a major difference in rent. And being on the ground floor wasn't so awful, especially considering what he could see of the staircase.

"I've got plans to renovate the whole building in the next few years," Eric continued when he didn't respond immediately. "At the moment work is being done on one of the other apartments, but if you're interested, you could take this one now with the option to move when it's finished." He shrugged slightly. "This one will be renovated too, but probably not until sometime next year."

Buck paused a moment and then nodded. "You said you'd need a security deposit and the first month's rent?" Not that he was sure what the point of a security deposit was, given that most of the walls were already banged up, the linoleum on the floors was torn and stained, and so forth, but….

"That's right. Do you know when you'd like to move in?"

He sighed again, audibly this time. Telling his parents probably wasn't going to be a pleasant experience, but it would be better just to get it over with. "It's Tuesday now…could I pick up the keys Friday afternoon?" He wasn't working this weekend, so he'd be able to get his clothes and things moved from the house, maybe pick up a few more pieces of furniture….

He took another quick look around, making a mental note of things he might want to purchase. The appliances and major pieces of furniture—a table and chairs and a pull-out couch for the combined living and kitchen area, as well as a bed and dresser for the single bedroom—were already here, but a couple more chairs would be nice. That, and new covers for all the upholstered furniture, because it was all in approximately the same state as the rest of the apartment. No mold—he'd have smelled that—but it had probably gone out of date twenty years before they'd crashed on this planet. If Eric hadn't demonstrated that all of the appliances worked, he probably wouldn't have believed it. After that…well, he'd have to pick up food, obviously, he'd get books and radio from the house but maybe he could find a cheap television if somewhere—

"Friday's fine," Eric said, interrupting his thoughts. "You can drop off a check when you pick up the keys and sign all the paperwork then."

Buck nodded, offering a hand. "That'll be great. Thanks a lot."

"No problem. If you have any trouble with the apartment, the super lives in Apartment One, right next door. That's also where the first renovation is being done, so if you'd like to take a look at what the plans are for this one, go ahead and drop by."

"I will, thanks." That might at least help appease his parents.

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"You're late, and the sarge is pissed," Cliff greeted with a grin.

Buck rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that's new." The bus between the apartment and the station had been running late—not exactly unusual—but the sarge would have been pissed even if he'd been here fifteen minutes early. It seemed to be his permanent state of being. "Any word from above?" According to rumor, all rookie pairs that had been formed while the department was shorthanded were slowly being broken up and paired with more 'experienced' officers, with the idea that they'd stay in the new partnerships for at least two years while they gained experience. Thinking about it, it made some sense, but Buck could help but hope that if the rumor was true they'd keep overlooking him and Cliff. Sure, the guy could be a pain in the ass on occasion, but he was also rapidly becoming one of Buck's best friends. And Buck would be the first to admit that he wasn't usually one to make friends quickly.

"Haven't heard anything yet." Cliff tucked his gun into its holster and stood up, grabbing his keys off the desk. "So how goes the apartment hunt?"

"Well, I've got a place. I'm supposed to move in this weekend...figure that gives me a couple days to work on breaking the news to my parents."

"Have fun with that." Cliff climbed in on the driver's side, waiting until Buck buckled himself in before starting the car. "When I told my dad I was moving out, I got like a three hour lecture on how in traditional Tenctonese society, children remained with their parents until they were ready to marry. And then they often moved in with the male's family until their first child was born." He shook his head. "I mean, I do understand that it's important to know our traditions, but I'm not going to live my life ruled by how people were living on a different planet a hundred years ago."

Buck shrugged. He was pretty sure his parents wouldn't play the 'tradition' card—he was typically the most observant in the family, and even he thought that remaining at home until he decided to get married was kind of ridiculous—but when it came to keeping he and Emily and Vessna close, it was hard to say.

"When are you going to tell them?"

"I'll probably bring it up tonight. That way they'll have a couple days to get used to it before I actually leave." Not that he thought that he'd get a moment's peace in those couple days, but he couldn't just leave one day and not come back.

"So where's your apartment?"

"Fifth and Lex. Closer to the station, at least."

"And it's not the worst neighborhood."

"Yeah, thanks, that's helpful. The neighborhood is something I'm just not going to bring up when I talk about the place. And I'll try and keep them away from it for at least a couple days while I get it fixed up a little. Which reminds me—do you have some time this weekend to help me get my stuff in?"

"Always thrilled to help move heavy objects."

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