...Won't You Stop and Remember Me?
Roleplaying Log: …Won't You Stop and Remember Me?
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Three friends reunite to investigate a fourth friend's desecrated grave. The answers are incomplete and ugly.

Other Characters Referenced: Shadowcat, Psylocke
IC Date: January 25, 2019
IC Location: Salem Center, NY - Doug Ramsey's Grave
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 26 Jan 2019 05:56
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits: Cypher
Associated Plots

Note: This occurs simultaneously to Doug and Kitty confronting one another in "A Cold Shade of Winter"

The graveyard in Salem Center is one of the oldest in the state. Dutch settlers and Revolutionary war veterans are buried there, and as the moonlight reflects off the snow, the sprawling, gently rolling rows of monuments and tombstones are set off by trees, and benches. Somewhere in the distance, an owl hoots.

The winter wind gently flutters a loose strand of police tape, cordoning off an area of graves centering around a blast-crater, exposed hunks of frozen dirt already crusted with fresh snow.

This is what's left of the grave of Douglas Aaron Ramsey.


For Danielle Moonstar awareness of the grave desecration doesn't take long to reach her ears.

There's always chatter within SHIELD, from the highest levels to the lowest, as well as from the more local areas as well.

It's those local levels that clue Moonstar into the disturbance at the cemetery and once the shock has worn off, it's what was has her reaching out via text to her teammates.

*** Berto, Sam, did you hear the news?

And with that beginning line, Dani gives a brief breakdown that Doug's grave has been vandalized.

*** I can be there in twenty minutes. We need to check this out.

And with that last text sent, without even verifying the other two have agreed to meet her there, Danielle Moonstar is out of her cubicle at SHIELD and enroute to Salem. Brightwind is a fast flier, thankfully. She only has to leave him down a ways to make sure no one sees their arrival, or the winged horse himself.

Now the Cheyenne treks through the labyrinth of tombstones, searching for the right one. She won't get lost, she knows the way, the spot is forever etched into her heart and memory.


His cellphone is like an antique. If Sam were to donate it to charity the charity would return it. It was old before he vanished for most of a year in space. It looks like the battery cover is held onto the flip phone with a bit of duct tape. Sam murmurs into his phone. "Ah love you, sweetheart. Thanks for understandin'. Ah will drop by the diner. Maybe get a little pie with whipped cream… and some dessert." This might be the dirtiest thing Sam has ever said. The vice on the other end laughs. "Ah love you too. Buh-bye." Sam hangs the phone up, clicking it shut gently then stuffing it into his slightly threadbare, large coat. His tie blows a little in the wind before he stuffs it into his coat. He adjusts the coat so it is shut against the wind. He adjusts the hang of his black and gold scarf his mother knitted for him so many years ago.

Sam Guthrie's left hand pushes his blond hair from his face. After a moment, he straightens his tie reflexively and picks his way through the cemetery. He just got off work, he came here from work straightaway. His mouth is drawn into a hard, thing line. As he picks his way through, Sam softly, silently berates himself. He's only been here once since he got back from space. He had to tell Doug about Isabel, and the Shi'ar, and everything that happened. He promised he'd be back soon. "Ah guess Ah kept that promise." He bitterly mutters to himself before turning a corner and starting to walk the last hundred feet or so to the grave. His frown deepening ever so slightly with each grave he passes. His blue-gray eyes are a little watery, but it is just from the cold.

Each footfall carries the echo of a past failure and he lives the scene a few times over, again and again as he walks those strides.


The grave is a deep crater, blasted so far down that part of Doug's coffin is exposed, the wood rotted and cracked, the coffin now exposed to the elements. There won't be any re-interment until the investigation of the blast site is completed. That was one hell of a grenade, to take out a chunk of frozen dirt like that. The gravestone is nothing more than pulverized lumps of granite that got blasted across the graveyard, taking out chunks of other stones — one's embedded in a tree.
Twenty minutes, she says.


Twenty minutes isn't enough time to drive out that way, by any stretch of the imagination: Twenty minutes is 'make a scene of yourself' time, and worse in the dead of winter. Fortunately, over the years, Roberto da Costa has learned how to use his energy more efficiently. Learned how to be subtle when he needs to - preferably while everyone's expecting him to be anything but. So if there's a mysterious streak of black in the air, well hey, the law will fix those guys soon enough, right?

Under other circumstances, he'd be complaining. He'd be theatrical about it, you know: How he's tropical, he's not meant for these ice cold New York winters. How come they never meet anywhere with a beach? That sort of thing. Instead, the dark-skinned Brazilian is disconcertingly quiet, with a perfectly tailored black peacoat over his equally perfectly tailored black suit, a scarf of deep, dark red wound around his neck like he's trying to hide in it, pulled up to cover the lower half of his face.

"Sam," comes Roberto's scarf-muffled voice from behind the blond man, his mild remaining accent drawing out that middle vowel. Saam. He knows the hayseed is beating himself up - because it's Sam, and because they all beat themselves up when it comes to Doug. He wouldn't get lost any more than the others would, and soon enough, there it is. The jagged scar where their friend's grave used to be.

"So," Bobby says, considering the hole. "What the hell?"


Dani isn't too far behind the two.

There's a rustle of half-frozen grass to announce her presence and then, the Cheyenne steps into view.

She's dressed for winter as much as anyone else, only beneath her woolen coat is her typical black SHIELD uniform. She literally came straight from work to here and it shows.

Once close enough to Berto and Sam, Moonstar offers subdued greetings. "Berto. Sam. I'd ask how you both were doing, but -" She's pretty sure she can guess. Now her gaze turns to the wounded grave and the brown-eyed woman takes in everything she can see. That broken tombstone, the hole in the ground, the remains of the coffin peeking up from the interior of the grave. For a heartbeat of moment, Dani's expression shows grief, and then like the SHIELD agent she is, Moonstar tucks it behind a mask. "Isn't that the question, Berto. Why would someone do this?"


There is a glint of moonlight reflecting off of something metal in the coffin, a flash of light that strikes something just so, and then it's gone again.


Sam smiles even if he immediately feels guilty about it. "Bobby." There is warmth that cannot be faked in Sam's drawling voice. He takes a couple of quicker, longer strides over to the Brazilian billionaire and in a sudden gesture attempts to grab the other mutant in a bear hug. It is both quintessentially and uncharacteristically Sam behavior. If the hug is allowed, it will be brief but sincere. For just a moment Sam allows himself to forget all the hurt and the horror and just remember the family. It is a brief moment. He will break the hug as quickly as he started it, taking a couple of quick steps back to get space back.

Embarrassed, but too cold to show it, Sam just grunts. "A deadman did this." Sam's drawl is like a Hatfield talking about a McCoy. "Or at least they will hope they are dead when ah get my hands on 'em." The tone almost evokes the sounds of a river trip and banjos.

Sam pulls in a long breath. He looks over to Dani. "Want me to look at the numbers and see if ah can crunch the physics before the Police? Ah am assuming SHIELD can get that police report." Poh-lease he pronounces it. He frowns for a moment longer, then reluctantly opens up his arms. It isn't that he isn't fond of Dani, it's just not their usual greeting.


Despite any attempts at aloof dignity, Bobby gets hugged.

Of course, as a Brazilian Roberto da Costa has a nebulous concept of personal space to begin with, though the bear hug pins his arms to his sides and keeps him from responding with much more than a pat on one of the flying hayseed's arms, but it's fondly meant. With his scarf covering the bottom half of his face, there's nothing much to see beyond the faint hint of a wry grin, despite the grimness of the situation.

And then there's the hole.

He crouches on the edge of it when Dani joins them, glancing back up over his shoulder at the SHIELD agent, while Sam expresses some rather justifiably vengeful thoughts about the culprit… But his attention, quickly enough, wanders back down the hole.

"I wonder," the Brazilian muses, and then he jumps down into the hole.

You know, like a reasonable person would.

As usual, though, there is a method to Roberto's madness, because he did see that metallic glint, and soon his own very fancy cellphone is out, because it's got a very fancy flashlight app on it, for him to shine down into the spaces created by the rotted, cracked wood of the coffin.


…The light shines into the coffin, revealing… rotted fabric, and bone, with tatters of dessicated flesh on it. Damaged, jostled by the blast — but there's that flicker of light on something again. …Looks like the explosion smashed Doug's rib cage.

But then there's that flicker of light again, something reflecting the light from Bobby's phone.


Deadman.

That pulls something of a side-eye from Moonstar, but she says nothing to reveal what exactly her thoughts are on that subject.

Instead, she nods to Sam's words. "Yes, crunch the numbers." She agrees, "And once the report is finalized by the police, I'll definitely flash my SHIELD credentials to get a copy of it." And while Berto crouches at the edge of that grave, Sam reluctantly opens his arms. There's a moment of intense awkwardness from Moonstar - because this is not their usual greeting - and for the moment the SHIELD agent just stares at the blond young man. Finally, she reaches out to give a light push to one of those extended arms, and while that may seem uncaring there's a squeeze from her hand to show she appreciates his attempt at offering a hug.

Thankfully, for Dani's sake, Berto jumps into the grave which causes Dani to turn sharply around. Some might think she's about to admonish the Brazilian for potentially desecrating an already desecrated grave, but instead Dani says, "What is it?"


He's vaguely relieved. The only thing that would have been better is if she's have slugged his shoulder. He reaches into his messenger bag and starts towards the launched headstone with a tape measure in hand. They are handy when a lot of your work involves looking at the size of potholes to assuage complaints. Sam pauses though as Bobby hops into the grave.

"Holy? Bobby?" He almost starts in on Bobby about desecration and all that, but he knows Bobby. "What'cha got?" He asks instead, trusting Bobby to have a reason. His arms cross over his chest, but he is already figuring out angles in his head as he looks over the scene. "Try not to move anything big, okay?" Sam says finally. "Ah need set positions if ah am going to figure out how much force and from where." Sam's eyes dart over the scene, finally putting some feelings aside as he focuses. "Is he still in there?" because it's important.

It's not like Bobby was going to power up and lift the whole thing out!

…Probably?


Truthfully, he was expecting an admonishment or two, at least in that cordoned-off back corner of his brain where he actually thinks about those sorts of things. Sam was a good boy after all, and Dani, well, she had a particular relationship with death. Though at this point, it's just a body, right? If that much. He remembers, with a painful clarity, when Juliana Sandoval made that transition: From a person, to just meat. By now, she wouldn't even be that.

For a long moment, there's no actual answer from down in the blasted-open grave despite Dani and Sam's mirrored questions. No, there's a silence instead, made all the more weighty by the fact that they're in a graveyard, around an open grave, which is pretty spooky. Not quite abandoned mental hospital spooky, but it's a substantial spook factor.

Anyway, then there's the distinctive electronic *click* of a smartphone camera. And then a dusty clatter as the Brazilian breaks away some ruined bits of the coffin. And then some more *click* *click*.

"Guys," Roberto calls up a solid minute and a half after Dani and Sam's questions. "Either Doug had some kind of wire frame in his ribcage or this isn't him. I mean it's pretty gross but I don't think this was actually a person at any point."


Dani does have a particular relationship with, and ironically it's almost friendly.

The Angel of Death she's dealt with really does have a good sense of humor. One day she'll have to tell some stories. Preferably when everyone is drunk. So smashed no one will remember that particular conversation.

But no, no admonishments from her. Only an attentiveness that SHIELD has enhanced with her years there.

However, with that lengthy pause from Berto, Moonstar says, "Berto, speak to us already."

And thankfully he does, but what he has to say causes the Cheyenne's brow to furrow. Did she really hear him right? A wire frame in his ribcage? A look flicks immediately to Sam, something half questioning even as Moonstar says tightly, "I wasn't aware of any wire frame in his ribs."

Carefully now, the black-haired woman takes a step back even as various thoughts whirl jumble-y inside her skull.

The blast pattern, or what can be seen of it, is looked at. Even though she isn't as good as Sam, or those trained in ordinance, she can tell whatever was used was more than what standard kids often use to vandalize things. Her attention then shifts to the other pristine tombstones around them, before she shifts back to Doug's grave. "Pretty certain this isn't just some random kids vandalizing the cemetery while drunk and high. Not when the other graves weren't touched. Nor with the firepower they used here. This was specifically done for a reason."

Though possibly a different reason than what Moonstar is assuming. Assumptions. They can be both good and bad.

Moonstar reaches into her pocket and from the depths medical-type gloves and small clear baggies appear within her hand. Always be prepared. That's the motto of SHIELD (and the boyscouts) and it's why Dani has such equipment within her coat pockets.


That makes Sam pause. His math is put on pause for a moment. For half an instant, hope burns in his heart, it is quickly squashed. "So. They, whoever that might be, took his body and the explosion was to cover up the swap?" Sam makes a face, finding that theory a little hard to swallow just yet. His arms cross over his stomach. "Bobby. Under his head? Ah put a towel like the one ah was wearin' the night he joined up." And that's why it is all his fault. "If it ain't there, well?" He pauses, and Sam looks back over to Dani. "He didn't, Dani. Ah would know, as often as we crashed while blastin'." Sam's tone is certain.

His eyes still settled on Dani, Sam drawls, "Ah hate to ask, but can you just?" He makes a gesture as if to conjure up the ghost. "Ah ain't askin' to offend." he adds hastily, not wanting to dig up old hurts.

One can almost hear the wheels turning in his mind. Stryker? It's worth looking into. Who else? Hellfire Club, possibly. "Who would want his corpse?" Sam asks aloud to pull the others into his train of thought. Softly, he murmurs, "Ah know it was stupid, but ah didn't want Doug to leave without a towel." A little Douglas Adams reference between two heavy readers. Sam reaches up and pushes at his eyes. He isn't crying. You are. Anger flickers over his face, and for a moment his hands almost pulse with red orange fire, then as swift as a lightning bug on a Summer night in Kentucky those feelings are bottled right back up. Still angry at himself, Sam rubs at his face again, inwardly railing at himself that he isn't allowed to be messed up. He looks around a little. "Ah can get all the traffic camera footage." he says with a bit of certainty. "If they drove off with him, well maybe we will get lucky?"


"What if it was a message?" Bobby suggests. "The body was already here when the explosion went off, it damaged the fake corpse's ribs, which gave away the whole game. And it's pretty… Uh… Rotted. No, this happened a while ago, Sam." He still checks for the towel, as per Cannonball's request, though. No point in being slapdash about it.

Though of course Dani is the one who brought actual evidence-gathering equipment. Because she's a cop.

"Anything else exciting in that 'utility belt'?" he wonders of the Cheyenne woman, the concept of utility belts having long since wormed their way into the general consciousness of the superheroing community by now, surely. Though it seems like since he's already in the hole he's the one on evidence gathering duty.

He looks at her with those big brown eyes of his, in a futile attempt to guilt her. He's so rich, Dani. Hire people to do this sort of thing for him rich.

But in the end, he'll do it: After all, it's Doug.

"Anyway, what if he was never here? What if someone swapped him whenever - before the funeral, maybe? Then… I dunno, maybe they got mad nobody was recognising how clever their plot was and so they set the grave up the bomb. Or it's a coincidence and somebody just really didn't like Doug's grave."


…Maybe while Dani is exercising her due diligence, she can hear the mocking voice of that Hydra agent. 'I'm Discord, Chief.' And then mocking her, saying he'd see you later, in her own birthright tongue — a language not spoken by very many white men. There was, after all, only one guy at the school she could talk to when she wanted to speak it at all.

The towel is in there, old and rotted. Whatever this… thing is, it's been down there for years.

Not long before he died, Doug gave Sam something of his — a Rebel Alliance challenge coin, along with a sort of promise.

'Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes!' …He was quoting Yoda, but it was a shared moment of connection between two boys who were, in their hearts, always looking toward the horizon.

…A flashback, maybe. Doug, who so PRIZED himself on his intellect, is staring at the chess board and his tipped-over king in disbelief. Another lost chess game against Bobby, who he has never, EVER been able to beat on the board. And Doug… he was one hell of a chess player. "I had you. I HAD YOU. How did you do that? You have to have cheated…" The fury, the *frustration*, normally such a sedate guy but when he really lost his temper it could be every bit as volcanic as Bobby's… when he stood up in a rage and flung the board at him and said "Voce trapaceou! Voce e um cachorro sujo e trapaceiro!" …He said he was sorry, later. He was ashamed of himself, that he'd lost his temper in the moment like that—


Dani is an old hat at ignoring those pleading rich boy looks. An. Old. Hat.

As such,the baggies and gloves (WEAR THE GLOVES BERTO) are passed down to the Brazilian in a very businesslike and professional manner. "Some from the remains and a few slivers of wood, Berto." Advises the former co-leader of the New Mutants, then she waits for poor poor Berto to finish the task.

With Sam's question, Dani's attention shifts back over to him. There's a slant to her mouth when he asks if she can 'just'. "Just what, Sam?" Comes her immediate response, a slight edge to her tone, but then she shakes her head. She goes so far as to raise a hand, aware that her reaction was too knee-jerk. They've all grown since they were teenagers, including Dani.

"It doesn't work like that. If they were newly dead there's the potential, but whoever that was has been gone long enough that their soul has moved on."

When Berto speaks again, about coincidences, the Cheyenne shakes her head. "No, I don't think it is. Finish bagging, Berto and get back up here. I need to tell you both about an incident I recently had."

And dutifully, Dani waits for Berto to climb out of the grave, even as the words from that Hydra agent echoes within her mind's eye. Once Berto is relatively back above ground, or at least listening to what she has to say, Dani says, "What I'm about to say is classified - but recently SHIELD answered a break-in call. I was one of the Agents that arrived on scene to scuffle with the thieves. Turns out it was Hydra." Her tone betrays her dislike of that particular organization, "The only thing is one of them knew me. They were masked so I can't say who they were, but he knew my name, and the nickname you guys used to call me."

'Chief'. That brings a distant look to her features for a moment, "And he spoke in Cheyenne. There's too much here to be mere 'coincidence'."


Temper flares back at Dani. How would he know how it works? His mouth snaps open, then softly closes as Sam's features soften. After a soft breath, Sam lifts his own hand in a little 'it's okay' gesture. "Ah dunno how to ask. Ah am sorry." It is at least sincere. That pretty brunette with the big bum might be good for Sam? Or maybe he's just tired of fighting old battles? Either way, for maybe the first time in a long time they aren't yellin' at each other after saying twenty words to one another. It's progress. Sam continues to look around. He's working through a theory in his head even as Dani shoots it down with her new information.

"Dani." Sam says as she finishes. "He died." Again his hand raises. Sam is angry, but it's at himself. His words are spoken gently. "Are you sayin' what ah think you are sayin'? We let someone take our friend from us and he's been God knows where doin' God knows what and we abandoned him in the cold ground?" Sam's hands shake for just an instant in pure rage. "We're gettin' the band back together." His hands might have shook, but his voice is a little calm. "Who would be able to even do this?"


Once he's done taking the samples Dani needs, Roberto gets out of the open grave the easy way, seeming to rise up of his own accord (it's subtly controlled thermal emissions, of course) before landing on the ground, colour leaching back into him as he lets go of his solar form, stops drawing in all the ambient light that would otherwise reflect off of him; from there, he can offer the SHIELD agent her evidence baggies, though he pockets the gloves to throw them out himself later, compartmentalising without even really thinking about it.

"Don't worry, we're not about to compromise our SHIELD insider," the Brazilian assures her when she tells them that the story she's about to relate to them is classified. Having somebody on the inside is always handy, especially when it's inside an agency that's probably going to be trying to arrest the rest of them at the very least.

And then Dani tells them a very strange story about a breakin, and a Hydra agent, and…

He died, Sam points out, practically.

"So did Jean Grey," Bobby notes.

He doesn't just leave it at that though, as cool and dramatic an interjection as that might be.

"But Sammy's right, we need to get to the bottom of this, one way or another. "Somebody's been messing with us for years, and it's time we figure out who."


And as tight as Doug was with the gang, there were always two people at the school who always got the best of him. One, a school-boy infatuation gave way to true friendship, and they were like *crosses fingers* that — Kitty. And the other? That hopeless pathetic boy-crush he *never* got over.

Flashback: One day, in class, he was watching her water the flowers in the garden outside, and without looking, doodled in his notebook— 'Have you seen her all in gold? / Like a queen in days of old? / She shoots colours all around, like a sunset going down / Have you seen a lady fairer?' They all saw him, quietly adoring like a stupid puppy.


Berto's reassurance that her SHIELD secrets are safe with them earns a brief smile from Dani. He also earns a murmured thank you as she accepts the evidence bags handed to her. Those little baggies are tucked into her pockets for later. She'll have SHIELD analyze the data, to see if they can get an ID on the DNA of the person buried in the grave.

Sam's utterance that Doug died brings a sharp retort to Dani's lips, but she doesn't speak it.

She forces it back down.

They all know he died. All of them. Age has lent her some wisdom which allows her to realize there's no reason to tear at him simply because those uttered words cause her pain.

"I don't know what I'm saying." She admits, her tone slightly harsh, "But there's too many things connecting and not. Like a puzzle half started and forgotten for awhile and now we're scrambling to find all the pieces."

A nod is given to both Sam and Berto at what they've both said. "We're going to need more than the three of us, and I've two friends who are pros at handling Hydra. I'm going to bring them in to help us. You both should also know that the Hydra Agent called himself Discord. While it's not his real name, a name is a name. There has to be something we can find out about it."


"Ah love Doug like he is my own brother." Sam tells Bobby. He pauses, and lets his gaze linger on the other man. There would have to be a lot more alcohol involved for Sam to tell Bobby that, but maybe the Brazilian mutant already knows. Sam awkwardly looks away. He deadpans. "Ah would know. Ah got enough of 'em. Regardless. Jean Gray is like stupid powerful. Doug… " Maybe not so much.

Rubbing his forehead, Sam adds, "Bein' said. You are right." He is forced to agree. "Dead is not as final for some of us as it is others." If only Sam knew the irony of that statement. He pulls in a breath as he considers a few things. "Discord, huh? As in mayhem? Uncoordinated activities? Concealing and ruining. Sounds like the opposite of a Cypher to me. What that means, ah dunno, but a couple of creepy things is one thing, a whole slew of little pieces of evidence that point one way might not be causation, but it correlation." Sam considers. "Working theory is Doug is alive and well and pissed off? We work to prove it wrong?" He looks between the other two, looking to build consensus. He quirks a brow in an old almost playful gesture. The set of his jaw makes it clear he isn't playing just yet though.


"Right now we know just enough to know that we don't know," Roberto says, gently warningly and also a bit confusingly? But that's what you get. "We do this like we were taught. Don't jump to conclusions, don't try to force the facts to fit the answers we want. Maybe he's alive, maybe they did some super science bullshit and they copied his brain 'cause they wanted his powers, maybe somebody is messing with us. We work the leads, we find the facts, and then when we find out who's responsible we relieve them of extraneous body parts."

It's generally not super copacetic for X-Men (who aren't named Logan) to go around killing people, after all, but he's pretty sure evil masterminds can live short, like, an arm. And who really needs their spleen?

"Dani, you handle backup and the Hydra angle on things, since you've got the SHIELD hookup. Sam, we need to put our ears to the ground, see if there's been any other sightings of this Discord guy. Maybe Dani isn't the only old friend of Doug's he's 'coincidentally' run into. Didn't he used to have a thing for Kitty?" Spoilers, probably like all the guys did at one point, but she never seemed to look at anybody who wasn't named Peter. Which is super weird. "Can either of you think of anybody else?"


At Sam's definition of Discord the Cheyenne nods. That nod continues with Berto's words and for a moment there's pride there for her fellow New Mutants.

They've all grown so much. Matured so greatly. Become leaders in their own right.

Then the Agent of SHIELD pushes through, as she says, "Assumptions can kill. Let's make sure we're not assuming like Berto said." Then, "And yes, I can get the back-up handled ASAP. I'll pull what resources I can from SHIELD, though it'll have to be done 'off the books' and quietly." The question of just who else might old friends of Doug brings a thoughtful look to Dani's face, "There's probably others, but let's not just keep it to who he knew or was close to. If it's not Doug then there's the prospect of missing clues simply because we're excluding someone we didn't think knew Doug. We make sure to talk to everyone. No stone unturned."

"And we be careful." She says gravely, "Hydra isn't something to mess with. They aren't stupid, they have means and weaponry, they have technology. We do this the smart way."


"You are both right about assumptions." Sam admits. He frowns a little. "But if we are kicking over every stone maybe we should make sure to kick over betsy Braddock's stone?" He frowns a little bit to himself. After a moment's consideration he admits, "He was sweet on her."

Sam looks aside. "Let's also see if maybe Jean will put on the Cerebro helmet and take a gander for Doug? Ah mean, we wouldn't have known to look for him, so we would not have seen him with it before, but since she would, ah reckon, know what to look for, well, let's see if we can't cheat a little and see if we can't just cut this off at the pass?" Sam is quiet for a moment. "Ah? ah was off planet for most of a year. Some of my contact numbers don't really work so well anymore. I… will need help getting numbers, but ah will call, fly, or whatever needs to be done to look for him and investigate." Well, if folks were wondering why he didn't call. Not only is his phone a piece of junk but his numbers are out of date.


It wasn't like Bobby had really meant to get all 'take charge' about things, but well that's been his life lately: Whenever he does anything with Da Costa International, people tend to look to him to provide leadership, since it's his name on the stationery. Sometimes he really misses the days when he could just be the hot-headed jerk, but…

"Good idea," the Brazilian agrees to Sam's suggestion of talking to Jean. "Sounds like we've got some leads and kind of a plan." He pauses, looking around before he turns his attention back to the other two. "Also we should probably get out of the graveyard. I dunno about you guys but this place creeps me out."

Says the guy who just jumped down into an open grave.


"I'll let you know what comes back from the samples." Dani states, "If we hear anything more, we keep in contact with everything we learn, so we're all on the same page."

"Be careful." Comes her next words as she looks at both Sam and Doug, "If it is Doug -" Well, he knows more about them than they themselves do, thanks to those powers of his.

"We'll figure this out." Are the final words from the Cheyenne, striving for a reassuring tone, even if there's still a grim cast to her voice.


"If he shows up, ah will let both of you know." Sam assures them both. He shakes his head to himself. "It… was good to see you both." Sam adds as well, his tone conflicted. "Ah missed you both. Circumstances are awful…" Sam turns. "Stay in touch. Ah will." Sam looks around. "If'n ya'll will pardon me. COld nuff to freeze a Winnebago." He'll be blastin' for a bit,if only to warm himself back up.


…From the grave, there is only silence, and a mystery — seven years ago, somebody took the dead body of a sixteen year-old boy and replaced it with an incredibly elaborate fake. It was a spectacular, *senseless* violation of a person. Many people. Who would go to that kind of trouble to steal a dead body? What kind of spineless coward?

And even though Kitty is in New York City right now, discovering another piece of this puzzle… there are many questions left unanswered.

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