By Anime Queen


A/N: Here's the next chapter, without further adieu. Thanks for all the support guys, I really appreciate it ^_^ This is the chapter with the action you've all been waiting for (I hope! Lol) Please tell me what you think.

Claimer: All characters and ideas contained in this are my own, so no stealing please!


Chapter 14

Mr. and Mrs. Carter were returning home from a late-night work shift. Some of the staff at their company unexpectedly took a sick leave, and the couple couldn't afford to leave the important work until the next day.

"I'm so tired," Mr. Carter whispered to his wife as they walked into the front door. "I'm not even going to take a shower."

Mrs. Carter nodded. She felt the same way. While she took off her shoes and set her handbag onto the kitchen counter, her husband proceeded up the stairs. She heard the door to their bedroom open and close softly.

I wonder if Felicity is home... she should be, it's very late already, she mused as she took off her work jacket, remaining in her skirt and blouse. She noticed the plate of cold potatoes and meat that she left on the stove along with a note for her daughter, and concluded that Felicity went to bed without dinner. Sighing, she put the plate back into the fridge. So much for trying to make it more acceptable that she wasn't going to be home to cook. She had known about the tremendous amount of paperwork that she and her husband would have to go through tonight, and when she told Felicity about it, the teenager shrugged and said it was okay, that she didn't mind cooking for herself.

After popping a couple of Tylenol pills for her headache, Mrs. Carter followed her husband's lead up the stairs. She paused a little outside Felicity's room, and tried the handle. It was locked. Mrs. Carter shook her head, mentally asking herself if she'd really expected any different.

Anniki stared up at her blank ceiling. If only she had found more about her grandfather, more than that necklace. She rolled over on her stomach and slid her hand inside her bedside table drawer, pulling out the pendant by its chain. It sparkled in its golden frame, even in the dark. Anniki set her chin down on the covers of her bed, and brought the trinket down to eye level, inspecting its smooth surface. If it wasn't for the spiraling gold frame she could have seen an almost perfect reflection of herself in the stone. She sighed, rolling back onto her back, and then, as if suddenly remembering something important, she sat up and stared at her computer.

"I wonder... today is as good a day as any," she grinned, and walked over to her desktop. She was too excited to sit down in the chair, although it was right there. She found the right CD and put it in the drive. She clutched the stone necklace as a window popped up on the screen.

"Could you please pass the lettuce Dad?" Tai pointed to the bowl full of chopped lettuce and licked her lips. Her mother laughed with her hand up at her mouth.

"You seem like you haven't eaten for a year!" she smiled at her daughter.

"I'm growing Mom, I need nourishment," Tai pouted. Mr. Omar handed the bowl with a salad scooper to her, and she proceeded to generously shoveling lettuce over her remaining potatoes. "Come to think of it, I am kind of hungry," she admitted with a sheepish smile.

Her parents glanced at each other and laughed, and, even though she didn't know what they were laughing about, laughed with them.

"C'mon, Mom, Dad, cut it out!" she managed though her giggles. "It's not that unusual that I get hungry!"

Her mother stopped laughing and thought about it for a moment.

"I think you may be right!" she exclaimed, and that set off another fit of laughter around the table.

"Almost there!" Anniki nearly knocked down her computer chair in all her excitement as she suddenly sprang away from her desktop and did a little dance in the middle of her room. She would yell out in joy, too, only she was well aware of her parents who were already fast asleep, and didn't want to wake them up. They would start with the questions again. Or at least her father. He's never asked her about a project she was working on before. She laughed lightly to herself. Of course she hasn't done anything quite like this before.

And she was so pleased with the result.

"This is the best thing I've ever done," she whispered, as she watched more and more windows open one on top of the one before. Her eyes lit up with excitement, the on-screen activities reflecting in her brown eyes. She was starting to feel slightly light-headed from all the adrenaline pumping through her veins, and gripped the edge of the table harder, continuing to monitor the progress of her program on the flat screen.

Nell drew the covers up to his chin and snuggled underneath them. He turned on the television set using the remote that was on his bed, and picked up a plastic fork. He didn't have time to cook when he got home, so he decided on finishing last night's take-out leftovers. He opened the plastic container with the scraps of meat and pasta, and dug in. It wasn't gourmet cuisine, but it was something. And after the day's events, he needed the energy.

But neither the food nor the movie on the screen in front of him succeeded in distracting him from worrying about Felicity. She seemed to take the criticism from Tai hard. But Nell agreed with Tai. Felicity needed to think long and hard about everything before forming her opinions. And she said she was going to apologize, so that means she's at least not angry. He just hoped she wouldn't beat herself up over what happened.

Plus he had his own problems to worry about. Next year he'll be attending college out of state. He knew of nobody who would be there out of his high school friends. He would be leaving life as he knew it behind, and the month of August inched closer and closer. He would hate to leave everything unresolved like this. If he had to leave, then at least he wanted to leave knowing his friends and his girlfriend were all right.

His pasta suddenly felt cold on his teeth. Strange, he thought, I just heated it up. He looked down, but instead of pasta in the box, he saw black matter circling up his fork. In a moment of panic, he dropped the fork, and instead of stopping when it hit the bed covers, it kept falling until he couldn't see it. Where were the bed covers then? With shock he realized that they also weren't there. All he could see was black smoke, slowly circling towards him. He moved backwards, and swatted at the smoke with his right hand. It went right through. He tried again with his left. It didn't do anything at all to help him. The smoke kept advancing.

Nell moved more backwards, but he might have just as well moved forward, for the black was almost next to him now, and moving faster than usual. He kept waving his hands in front of his face in hopes to disperse it, but it kept coming. It encircled his head so he could see nothing but the darkness, cutting his oxygen supply in half. He found it harder to breathe with every second.

He glimpsed someone else next to him, and cried out with an exceptional effort. The figure must have heard him, for it stopped, turned around, and walked towards him. There was a comforting while aura around it, and it relaxed Nell to look at it. As it got closer, he could distinguish that the form was a woman, but his eyesight kept slipping out of focus, and eventually he gave up. He felt the warmth as his skin touched the white, that spread to the rest of his body. Eventually, through the deep folds of slumber he felt the softness of his bed, but sleep took over.

TF was in the kitchen washing up and cleaning the counters in the kitchen. It had been Anniki's chore assignment, but since she figured out how to program TF to do the chores for her, she never had to anymore. TF's emotion grid didn't register anything wrong with that. He was created to be useful. He was fulfilling his duty. He was doing his job. His job was to do whatever Anniki told him to do. He dutifully scrubbed away the stains left from this morning's breakfast.

Eventually he was done, and turned off the lights. The house was now immersed in darkness, but the robot could see as perfectly in the dark as in the daytime. In fact, he hasn't even registered the difference above the subconscious level.

Checking to see if all his duties downstairs were done, he floated up the stairs into Anniki's room. He was just preparing the mental checklist of things he should do tomorrow, leaving space for Anniki's corrections, as he opened the door. He was just about to plug his battery into the outlet when he noticed that Anniki wasn't in her bed. He thought she'd already gone to sleep.

A glance around the room answered his questions. Anniki was standing over her computer, intently gazing at the screen, her knuckles white from holding on to the table to much.

"Anniki, you should really try and get some sleep," he told her quietly, cautious not to wake up her parents. He knew they didn't like to be disturbed.

Anniki answered with deep breathing sounds, coming faster and harder, until she gasped really loud. TF watched as her fingers released their hold on the table and her body swayed for a second before crumpling on the floor.