Author's Note:

Revised and rewritten along with chapter one.


Riley stuck her tongue out at the shiny rental parked in Car's spot. It did not look right in the Darings' garage. Since he left the other night, they had to rent a Chevrolet Impala to get them around Pleasant Hills.

She sighed as she averted her eyes from the gold Chevrolet sign over to Dick working on his rockets, which looked much more familiar to her.

However, the silence in the garage definitely wasn't the norm along with the rental car. Usually the sarcastic car would be nagging Dick about how ridiculous his stunts were, but the only sounds in the room were Dick talking to himself and the random sound of duct tape being pulled from its dispenser.

While she was worried sick about Carter, the family barely seemed to care. She certainly expected her mom to at least try to track him down, but she just blew it off and told her not to worry about it.

She glanced at the Impala before walking back into the house with her shoulders slumped over.

"Todd… can I talk to you?" Riley sat down next to her brother on the couch. He was in the middle of playing his Game Cone, but she had to try to get to him. After all, he came with her to the Royal Spy Academy to get Car back, right?

But… he only came for the spying and the girls…

She sighed as she came to that disappointing realization. She pushed up from the couch to ponder the situation alone, but the sudden silence in the room froze her in her tracks.

"What do you want, Riley? I can't keep this thing paused forever, ya know."

Riley whirled back around to face Todd, but ended up scaring him.

"Whoa! Riley, calm down! What has your panties in a bunch?" He clutched his controller to his chest and scooted away from her.

"I'm sorry, Todd… I've just been so worried about…" She trailed off and looked down at her hands folded in her lap.

"About Car being gone?" He stared at her intently as she nodded.

Riley glanced up at him hopefully. Maybe Todd will actually listen to me and…

"Oh, Riley! You can be so ridiculous sometimes. What are you worried about him for? It's not like he left forever! He's just taking some vacation time, that's all!" Todd nudged a button on his Game Cone and fixed his eyes on the screen. "He'll come back sooner or later."

"Todd! You have to listen to me! I don't think he left for some 'vacation time'… he and dad kinda got into a fight." Riley bit her lip as Todd turned around to face her completely.

"That's stupid. They wouldn't get into a fight!"

"But they did, Todd! I saw it!"

The two siblings rose up from the couch in synchronization.

"A fight…? How come I'm always missing the fun?!" He plopped his controller down on the couch and made his way into the kitchen. He was in the mood for a soda.

"Todd, this is serious. Dad kinda hit Carter in a soft spot... I've never seen him so unlike himself!"

Todd froze in his tracks and placed the soda can on the counter. "What do you mean a soft spot? Dad actually hit him?"

Riley sighed heavily and ran a hand through her hair. "Todd, you are so… no! Dad didn't hit him! I'm talking about Car's feelings! Dad hit a soft spot on Car! He said something about…" Riley's mouth dropped open as her breath caught in her throat. "I… I think I know what happened. I only heard a second of what they were saying before Car…"

Todd stared at his sister uncertainly as her eyes got a far away look. "Umm… Riley? Are you okay?"

"I'm… fine. I think I just solved something big, though… something really big. It might even explain why Car hates Dick so much!" She grabbed Todd by the shoulders and shook him before running upstairs to her parents' room.

Todd stared down at his can of soda and scratched the back of his head. "What the heck just happened…?"

***

"Mom! Mom!" Riley shouted down the hall as her feet pounded up the stairs. She screeched to a stop in front of the bed, nearly tripping over the rug in the process.

"Riley! What has gotten into you?" K gasped, "Did Dick get his head stuck in the toilet again?"

"No, he's fine… I came to talk to you about what happened the other night with Dick and Car." Riley twisted her hands together as she ran through her mind what had happened.

"'Well, she didn't love you back all that much! 'Cause look who she married in the end!'"

Riley swallowed as she pictured Car backing up into the drive and racing away from the house like a mad demon.

K sighed and put down the book she had been reading.

I suppose I can judge 'The Top Ten Spies of All Time' later…

"Riley, I told you not to worry about it. Carter can be very quick-tempered sometimes… well, all the time… but that's not the point. The point is that Dick made him a little irritated, that's all. He really needs to work on his temper…" K placed her fingers on her chin and furrowed her eyebrows.

"Mom, dad didn't just make him angry. He sort of… broke his ego." Riley pursed her lips.

"Broke his… what are you talking about, honey?" K shifted her weight and propped herself on her elbow so she could look into Riley's eyes.

"You should know! You were in the middle of it, Mom!" Riley threw up her hands in frustration at K's placid expression.

"Well, I know I fainted somewhere in the middle of it. The last thing I heard was Carter threatening Dick." K stared into her daughter's eyes. "How much more could have happened? That bit seemed pretty typical to me."

"Mom, that's not all that happened. You missed the ending." Riley shook her head as a nervous laugh escaped her.

K was never sure why Car despised her husband so much. He was so hard to read as it was. But she had learned to translate the affection behind his words of choice and it made her laugh how Carter had always kept his true words hidden behind a curtain of sarcasm.

Although, her spy partner still had his mysteries that K had yet to weasel out of him. And maybe what Riley had to say would help crack one of them.

"I hate being excluded from all of the action. It makes me feel so vulnerable. Riley, tell me exactly what happened between Dick and Carter."