Ian's POV

"Ewww... that's gross, Jake."

"Take a chill pill, Em," Jake muttered from across the kitchen table.

Emily rolled her eyes. "Bro, your hair is hot pink. That is so not cool."

Jake sat up in his chair, leaned over the edge of the table and smirked. "Is it annoying you?"

"It's hideous! Guys aren't supposed to dye their hair hot pink. It should be against the law or something."

Jake snored.

"It's not entirely his fault, Emily," Kate said, bounding into the kitchen. James (also sitting at the extremely large kitchen table) looked over at her and did a double take.

"What in god's name did you do?" Erik said, coming around behind the counter tops to stand beside James.

Kate's hair, usually black, was now a vibrant blue. Electric blue.

"We dyed our hair," the twins said in unison.

"No shit, Sherlock," Amy muttered from where she was cooking behind the counter tops.

David laughed.

"Seriously, whachya do now?" Evangeline inquired sharply from where she was sitting on the counter. "Please don't tell me you blew up the bathroom sink again to get your hair to look like that."

"We've never blown up the bathroom sink, actually," Jake corrected. "We blew up the kitchen sink. There's a major difference-"

"How many times have I told you not to dump your bad experiments down the drain?" Amy screeched, stalking around the counter tops, coming to stand beside Erik.

"Uh oh," Kate said. Then she punched her twin on the shoulder. "Dude, you made her mad."

"I made her mad? This was your idea-"

"I wasn't the idiot who suggested to test our potion on ourselves."

"You didn't seem too objective."

"Well you-"

And on it went.

All nine of us were crowded around in our kitchen. We tried to stay as away from the other humans as much as possible. We have discovered that our clash of personalities, weird habits, and violent tendencies to beat each other up can often... get on people's nerves.

"What were you trying to do this time?" James asked once Kate and Jake were done bickering.

"We were originally trying to make this edible paint that dyed your skin or changed your eye color for a few minutes," Jake said.

"And then we drank it to test it," Kate said, "But it changed our hair color instead. And so far it hasn't gone away. But we did figure out that the color changes every hour."

Just as Kate said that, we could see her electric blue hair slowly fading into a emerald green. Jake's was changing to a shade of lavender.

"Why do I get stuck with all the feminine colors?" Jake muttered to himself.

"Maybe it's a reflection of your hidden sexuality," David muttered.

"Excuse me?" James snarled, shoving David out of his chair.

Emily and Erik howled with laughter. Kate looked amused.

David and Jake started a mini battle where they both tried to shove the other out of his chair. Emily was fussing over her appearance, Kate was laughing like a maniac, Erik was encouraging Jake and David to kill each other, James was watching from the sidelines and trying to steal food from Amy, Evangeline was trying to tune everyone out, and Amy was yelling at people to "Get the hell out of my kitchen!"

This is your typical morning in the O'Shea household.

You should just be glad that Kyle wasn't here and that I was to depressed to say anything otherwise this would really be hell.

I rolled my eyes as Jake and David came crashing over to my side of the room where I sat in an old tattered arm chair trying to read a book.

"Hey," I growled. "Watch it."

If I had felt any better, I would have seriously enjoyed the shocked looks on everyone's faces and how the room turned dead silent as I spoke.

David and Jake just stared me. As did everyone else.

Slightly annoyed I asked, "What?"

No response. Shocker.

Finally Kate leaned over to Emily and whispered loudly, "The zombie had spoken. What should we do?"

Emily erupted into giggles.

I made a face.

"Oh, come of it, Ian. You haven't spoke in days. And when you do, you - no offense - sound like crap. Or a zombie," Amy said.

"No offense taken, Amy," I muttered sarcastically.

Erik stood up and walked over to where I was sitting.

Standing in front of me he said, "This is serious, bro. You've gone out with dozens of girls in high school-"

"Not helping, Erik," I snarled. I really was in a bad mood today.

Ignoring my snappy reply, Erik continued. "When you broke it off with those girls - or they broke it off with you - you weren't all depressed like this. A lot of those girls were nice, smart, funny, pretty, creative, witty, or whatever else you look for in a girl. But you never really minded when it ended. What is it about this chick - an alien, I remind you - that's driven you up the wall? Please tell us. We are very curious."

I looked at him.

Erik narrowed his eyes.

I rolled mine.

Amy gave a snort of disgust.

That's when I spoke in my 'zombie' voice.

"You've met her. You know what she's like."

James spoke up, "What does that have to do with it?"

I didn't answer.

All of my other siblings groaned in frustration.

"I give up," Kate cried. "You guys try to decipher his every word. I'm going out."

"Out where?" Amy inquired with steel in her voice.

"Out. Somewhere," Kate shot back.

"Over the rainbow," Emily sang.

"Will you just shut up already," David moaned.

Kate raced out of the kitchen with Amy screaming after her, "If I find out you're going out of the country again without or permission, I swear I will kill you, Katherine Melissa O'Shea!"

Kate made no reply. Wise move.

"Well, not that this hasn't been really fun," James muttered sarcastically, "But I'm gonna go check and see how the other people are doing."

James left.

Emily, David, Erik, and Jake soon ran off to go play two-on-two soccer.

So now it was me, Amy, and Evangeline.

We all sat in silence for a long time. The only noise that could be heard was Amy rummaging around in the kitchen, and Evangeline fiddling with her radio. I, of course, did nothing.

I was actually brainstorming places that Wanda could still be in - that is - if she was still on Earth.

I couldn't let myself think of that possibility.

So. Places she could be? Nowhere near the desert. I was confident about that. I don't think they would take her out of the country. At least not yet. They wouldn't want to overwhelm her too much at first. Maybe in time, they would take her out of the U.S. I was nervous about that idea. Souls didn't use planes anymore. I wasn't sure how I could even get out of the country if I wanted to.

Wait a minute. What was I thinking? Kate's been out of the country before by soul transportation. Amy was just now yelling at her for it. I could ask her. But not yet. I was positive that Wanderer was still in this country. For now.

So. No deserts. Nowhere in the southern states. Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas were immediately out. Maybe they shipped her out to the East coast. That seemed like the most likely place. I would start there.

But first, I was forgetting the obvious.

My siblings had been able to pass as humans for the past seven years. Surely, they could help me poke around for information on Wanderer. I wondered if souls kept track of everyone like humans did. If they did, then somewhere there would be a file on Wanderer, stating her current whereabouts. No doubt the souls would have some people watching her closely, so her file would certainly be up to date.

But where to look for a file like this?

My siblings and I were good at lots of things. Blowing stuff up, breaking into places, picking locks, getting perfect scores on SAT's, athletics, and other stuff like that. We could all do that. We also all specialized in something different.

I tried to remember what each of my siblings could do.

Lets see. I'll start with Amy. She was great with food. She was the cook of the family. She could make something delicious out of anything you gave her. She not only specialized in food, but she specialized in things to eat. Things not to eat as well.

Let's say you dropped Amy off in some barren wasteland. A jungle. Whatever. She would survive knowing what to eat and what not to eat. She could distinguish poisons things from edible things. She knew her plants. She knew what sort of stuff could make you throw up, what would give you hives, what would make you pass out, what would dehydrate you, what would kill you immediately, what would kill you slowly and other stuff like that. This was why we didn't get on Amy's bad side. You see, we all eat her food. If we made her mad, she could easily slip something into what we were eating and - bam - we would be sick for the next week.

Smiling slightly to myself, I concluded that Amy probably couldn't help me find Wanderer. Despite her evil skills.

Next person.

James. James was great with medicine. It was similar to what Amy could do with certain plants, except to a greater extent. James was like our 'Doc'. He could literally fix any medical problem. Without soul medicine.

No, no. I didn't think James could help me either.

Kyle. No, no. Kyle wouldn't be of use to me. He was hundreds of miles away. Besides, he specialized in mechanics. Cars, machines. Stuff like that. Maybe if I needed to build my own hovercraft, I would get Kyle. But not yet.


Me? The pathetic thing was I didn't do anything special. Nothing cool like the rest of my siblings. I was the smartest, I guess. Highest grades, test scores, and everything. I could solve puzzles and riddles. Lots of my other siblings could do that, but I was the best at it. Cracking codes. I didn't see how that would be very useful at the moment, either.

Evangeline. Evangeline could calm anyone down. I don't know how she didn't it. She was very persuasive. Can make anyone see her side of things. Evangeline can keep people from losing it completely.

I was definitely going to need her. For the sake my own personal sanity.

Erik... Erik was werid. Like me. Didn't have a really cool skill. Not yet at least. Erik was teh fastest out of all of us. And he was great and pissing someone off. That wouldn't be of use to me. Next sibling.

I would need Kate and Jake. Out of all the O'Shea children, those two cause the most trouble. Hands down. They're great with stealing stuff and breaking into places and picking locks and all other criminal skills. I didn't know how hard it would be to find Wanderer's file, or if it would be locked up or not. I didn't know how protective souls could get over personal information on each individual. Kate and Jake were also inventors. Hence the whole hair dying fiasco.

David was good with security. Cameras and gadgets like that. Might need his assistance.

And I would have to have Emily help me. Emily, the youngest, most positive O'Shea kid. Her specialty was disguises. She was great at changing looks, for better or worse. I might need to look a little different each time I want snooping around for government records that the souls had. If the souls even had a government.

But that still didn't mean I was in any way prepared to start searching for Wanderer. Unless... no. No. No. No. Forget it. I was not going back... to... that... that place.

But what if It was the only way to find her? To find Wanderer.

I groaned. I heard Amy and Evangeline jump.

"What?" Amy asked. I looked up at them. Their faces only betrayed curiosity. If I looked deeper into their expressions I could see... fear. They were slightly scared of me. Scared for me too. I was a stranger to them right now. In all of our years together, I have never lost it like this. I had never half-died before. They had never seen me behave like this, and I knew it scared them.

Ignoring their fear, I asked my question. "You two wouldn't happen to know... anyone who... specialized in government files. Or knew a lot about the souls. Enough to know where I might find a certain case of files on a certain... individual."

Amy stared at me. Evangeline almost cracked a smile. All the fear was gone now. This was more like the Ian that they knew. According to them, this was all one big puzzle that I had to solve. And they thought I could do it.

I wished I had that kind of confidence in myself. But I don't. I was scared out of my mind at the thoght that I wouldn't see Wanderer again.

Amy spoke first. She had abandoned her rummaging in the kitchen. I had caught her attention. "You mean aside from... you know... Them?"

"Yes," I muttered. "Aside from Them."

"Sorry, Ian," Evangeline murmured in a soft voice. "But I don't know where someone like that would exist. Aside from the... people we already know."

"Oh, Ian," Amy said. "You'll find her. Wanderer's smart. She would have found a way to get out of leaving Earth. She's still here. If you don't find her, then she'll come to you. Don't stress so much. It's bad for your health."

I rolled my eyes at Amy. I even cracked a smile for a millisecond. I knew I wouldn't be able to relax until I had Wanderer back in my arms. And I knew I was going to get teased like hell from the rest of my siblings for it. Oh well.

Evangeline gave a weak smile too. "The zombie is smiling."

I even gave a small smile again. You see, this is what I'm talking about. Evangeline can make anyone feel better. My entire soul felt like it was frozen over with ice. But when I talked to Evangeline, I felt a small section of it de-thaw.

"Hate to break it to you, bro," Amy started rambling in a matter-of-fact voice. "But I think that They are the only people that can help you out. That is... if you want Wanderer's file enough to go talk to them. But to be honest, Ian, it's beyond me how you could love someone enough to go face Them again. If you do love her that much though, I'll help you with whatever you need. But for now, you two need to get the hell out of my kitchen."

After many protests and complaints from Evangeline, and Amy had successfully kicked us out, Evangeline and I found ourselves strolling along down a corridor on the South wing of the house.

"You really love her don't you?" Evangeline said after a minute.

Wordlessly I nodded. I wished I could do more. A nod couldn't do justice for the way I felt about Wanderer.

Evangeline gave a great big sigh. "I knew you cared about her. You brought her to meet us. So I knew it was serious. I just never thought..." She trailed off.

I decided to offer an explanation. "Let's put it this way Evangeline. If I don't find her, I'm either going to look for her for the rest of my life and never give up, or go jump off a 20 story building without a parachute."

If I was being honest with myself, I wasn't sure that I was entirely kidding about the second half of my statement. Evangeline realized this too. "Well I guess we had better find this girl. What's the first plan of action, Commander?"

I grinned. It felt strained, and it hurt a little, but it was still a smile. It was nice to have Evangeline on board with my insane plan. I was right to come here. To come home.

"Well," I began, "I really want to get that file. I figure that Wanderer's whereabouts will be in there, along with any extra information I might need."

Evangeline stopped walking and looked at me. "If you want to get that file, you know you'll have to talk to Them. This is Their specialty."

I groaned. "I do not want to see Them. I do not want to see mom and dad."

"We all know that They work for the devil himself, but this is the quickest way to find Wanderer."

I was very disappointed by Evangeline's line of logic. She was right though. If I ever wanted to see Wanderer again, I would have to confront our parents.

Uhg. Sadly, they were still alive and uninhabited by souls. None of us would have been sorry to see them go.

"Alright. I drive out in a few days and see them."

Evangeline smiled. "I'm coming with you too, bro. Don't bother trying to stop me. I care about Wanderer too, ya know. You'll also need some help trying to talk sense into mom and dad. Plus, someone has to make sure you don't jump off a cliff. I'll be just a teensy bit upset if that happens."

And with that, she reached up to ruffle my hair they way we used to when we wanted to annoy each other, and ran off of down the corridor.

I am perfectly aware that many of you would like my head on a platter. A thousand apologies. :( Hope you'll forgive me. I've been absorbed in my other Host fanfic, Sticky Situations, and this one just fell out of my head for a while... For a long while. Sorry.

FYI, I will be making major edits on L&F soon. So I might take down a few chaps temporarily. I'm considering rewriting the whole story? There are too many mistakes and too many parts that displease me. What do you guys think?

I can't believe I have the nerve to ask this but, review? Please? :)

Host rocks my socks!