Rachel turned her head, a little startled. Lydia’s dad was turning on the coffee machine on the kitchen table. He wore a dressing gown and a bleary eyed expression.
“Oh,” she stepped over and extended a hand, “good morning mr…”
“Tony,” he shook, “please, call me Tony.”
He turned back to the coffee machine. Rachel’s hand went to her side and she watched him for a moment.
“This must be unusual for you,” she said after a while. It was more a question than a statement.
“Really?” He grinned ruefully, “Trust me, when your daughter is a lizard human hybrid you learn that it takes all sorts. Rachel, is it?”
“Sorry, I am unable to drink liquids.”
“Right,” Tony nodded, “sorry, didn’t think. Well, I did think, I was just being polite. Not that it was wrong for you to refuse… Look, what I’m trying to say is…”
“I lied,” he said, “this is unusual.”
There was the sound of light footsteps heading down the stairs and Lydia came into the room. Now that it was light and she was not wearing a hood Rachel could see that her head was covered in scales, not tattoos. Rachel didn’t know much about super-humans, though she knew what they were. She remembered at least that from her hazy, fading past.
“Morning,” Lydia said. She looked tired.
“Lydia darling,” Tony said, “can we have a chat. In another room maybe?”
Lydia nodded and gave Rachel a nervous look. She followed her dad out into the front room. He shut the door behind them with a click. Rachel considered listening in for a few moments, but then decided not to.
She wandered over to the fridge and opened it, staring at the shelves of food. The desire to be able to eat something again was like agony in the back of her mind. Hastily she shut the door.
Rachel had been sitting on the floor most of the night. Lydia had apologised that she didn’t have another bed. Rachel didn’t care, she didn’t sleep really anyway. She just sort of… zoned out.
There was the sound of footsteps and a small boy came down the stairs into the kitchen. He stared at Rachel.
“Hello,” she said, “please do not be scared. My name is Rachel.”
“Awesome,” he said, and went to find some cereal in the cupboard. Rachel stared at him, nonplussed.
Tony came back in.
“I hope you haven’t been rude to our guest Aidan,” he said, seeing the boy.
“Mm?” Aidan looked up. Tony sighed and gave Rachel a meaningful look.
“Just tell me if he’s annoying you,” he said.
“It is fine,” Rachel murmured.
“You’re welcome to stay as long as you like,” Tony sipped his coffee, “Lydia tells me you’re looking for someone.”
“Yes,” Rachel said, “I have lost a… friend of mine. I would like to find him.”
Tony nodded. Aidan, who was sitting at the table spooning cereal rapidly into his mouth looked up at Rachel critically.
“Do you have laser eyes?” He asked.
“Hey!” Lydia, who had just come in, folded her arms, “Don’t be rude.”
Aidan looked at her with wide, puppy eyes. He frowned and imitated Lydia’s irritated gesture.
“I’m not being rude,” he said, “it’s important!”
Lydia rolled her eyes and looked at Rachel.
“Do you have laser eyes?” She said after a while.
“Not to my knowledge,” Rachel replied.
There was a knock at the door. Lydia went to answer it. Aidan, finishing his cereal, went and dropped the bowl into the sink before rushing upstairs. Tony busied himself slotting some slices of toast into his toaster.
Lydia came back in, followed by Emma. She gestured that Rachel should follow them. Stepping into the front room, Lydia called back to her dad.
“Just going to… uh… plan a bank heist dad!” She said.
“You know, girl stuff,” Emma murmured. She smirked, then saw Rachel was staring at her. Her face returned to its usual stony expression.
“Sure thing darling,” Lydia’s dad didn’t look up from his toast, “just don’t get caught.”
Lydia turned back to the others and shut the door.
“So,” she said, “we need to find Francis. Do you think Adelaide or Lee might know where he is?”
“I tried calling them,” Emma said, “neither is answering their phone. I even went round Francis’ house, his parents are in a state. They’re close to calling the police. I reassured them that those two are staying around one of our houses, I forget which. It calmed them down, but I think Francis and Lee are going to be in for a tough time when they get home.”
“Francis is with Amadeus,” Rachel said, “I do not like or trust Amadeus. He is clever, and he imagines himself very powerful. I do not know what he plans to do, but he has taken the Source.”
“He has the Source!” Lydia’s eyes widened.
Emma breathed out slowly and looked up at the ceiling. When she looked down again she had a smile plastered across her features.
“I think I know what we can do,” she said.
“What?” The others said simultaneously.
“You’re not going to like it,” Emma said, “but I don’t care. There’s one person who we can use to find them, someone who we know wants to find Amadeus, has the resources and the power to do it and probably won’t bat an eyelid at letting us help.”
“You’re n-not suggesting we go to the D-Director?” Lydia stammered, suddenly unsure of herself.
“No,” Rachel said curtly.
Emma and Lydia looked up at her.
“Why not?” Emma said, a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“The Director is cunning and dangerous,” Rachel said, “I know, I was trapped in a facility with her for… some time. Trying to get her to help you is just asking to get yourself hurt. It’s stupid.”
“Well I’m feeling stupid,” Emma said, “you’re either with me or you’re against me. Who’s in?”
After a moment’s hesitation, Lydia nodded. Rachel looked at her, feeling a cold sensation spreading through her mind.
“Very well,” she said eventually.