Strobe lights flashed and the music was pumping as he first walked into the LA club. Early patrons were already taking to the dancefloor ready to dance away the worries of the workday. He and his friends made their way direct to the bar to order drinks, already having trouble finding a free spot. While waiting for their drinks a couple of them broke away to go and secure an open booth, the rest joining them soon after with their orders. What followed was a good half hour of trying to get as drunk as they possibly could.
By the time the group took to the dancefloor they were well and truly buzzed. They laughed at each other’s dance moves and were having a great time until ten minutes in someone spilled an open drink down his side.
“Hey!” he scowled, turning to face the perpetrator, “watch it!”
The young man continued to dance and ignore him.
“Hey!” he took hold of his shoulder, nearly twice the size of him and wanting to make an example, “why don’t you-“
He froze when the man turned around. They locked eyes for a moment before he threw his arm off.
“What’s your problem?!” he hit back.
Shaking himself off, he indicated his side.
“You threw your drink!”
“Fuck you, no I didn’t!”
“What are you even doing here?!”
He only garnered a confused look.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were in town?!” he tried again, trying to be heard over the music.
“Hey mate I don’t know you!” he insisted, backing away slightly, “so you and your problems need to get away from me. Enjoy your night!”
In moments he’d disappeared into the crowd again.
“What was that?” one of his female friends came to check on him a second later.
“I don’t know,” he frowned before handing her his glass, “I’ll be right back. I need to make a call.”
Isaac was just putting the boys to bed when he heard his cell phone going off. Knowing Nikki was at the other end of the house he excused himself from the boys’ room and rushed out for it. He got there just in time to be too late but frowned in confusion when he saw who it had been.
He quickly called back.
“Ike?!” he could hear thumping music in the background.
“Mac! Where are you?” he frowned.
“Still in LA! Look, I just ran into Tay and he’s acting really weird-“
“Tay?” Isaac frowned, “Tay’s at home.”
“He’s not, he’s here! And he’s being an asshole!”
Isaac’s mind raced. He knew Taylor was at home because he’d heard from him when Zac had gotten there. He knew Zac had collected Carey. As far as he knew, Mark was still under watch at the labs. He couldn’t think of a clone that would be in LA.
“You must be mistaken,” he insisted, “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Mackenzie cursed when Isaac hung up on him. If he hadn’t already tried calling both Taylor and Zac he would have tried again. He was about to call his eldest sister when he heard a voice somewhere behind him. While he wasn’t too worried about being in the alley alone purely due to his size, it had already been a weird night. He moved closer to listen in.
“No Sir, I didn’t think it was irrelevant,” he recognised the voice right away, “as far as I was aware the C series had been removed from Los Angeles. That’s the whole reason I came here, wasn’t it?”
Mackenzie frowned. He began trying to count how many drinks he’d had already tonight.
“Being identified was not part of the plan! What are my orders?!”
He blanched at that.
He hung up and sighed to himself. Mackenzie could see his silhouette on the other side of a divide. The moment he went to take a step back the man’s head snapped around.
“Who’s there?” he demanded, not waiting to come and see.
Mackenzie raised a hand when he knew he’d been caught.
“I don’t want any trouble,” he insisted, the lack of light in the alley making it harder to see the man’s features.
Maybe he had been imagining things after all.
“Yet you seem to be looking for it. Why you following me?”
Mackenzie frowned, just now realising he had an accent. He also seemed… younger.
He was definitely seeing things.
“I wasn’t,” he defended, “I just came outside to call my brother. I thought you were him, sorry.”
“And why would you think that?”
“Because you’re the spitting image of him! But you’re obviously not American so… I’m just gonna…” he started to back away.
The other man stepped forward, into more light. Mackenzie froze on the spot. Everything but his instincts were telling him that this was Taylor, and he had to keep reminding himself that he’d been drinking.
“What’s your name?” the imposter demanded.
“You first,” Mackenzie was slightly breathless.
“I’ll give you mine if you give me yours,” he smirked.
“Mac,” he instantly wondered if it was such a good idea, “Mac Hanson.”
A knowing look crossed the stranger’s face.
“You’re a Hanson,” he realised.
“You know who I am?” Mackenzie frowned.
“I know of you,” he confirmed, stepping forward and extending a hand, “Jackson Jones. I’ve been told I look like your brother.”
Mackenzie shook it, glad to finally put a name to the face.
“Yeah, you sure do,” he agreed, “where are you from?”
“I was born here,” Jackson readily answered, “but I was fostered in Australia when I was ten.”
“Australia?” Mackenzie’s brow rose, “I thought you were British.”
“That’s not something you should say to an Aussie,” Jackson narrowed an eye.
“It’s okay, I’m messing with you,” he smirked, “so you live here?”
“Yeah, few blocks from here,” Mackenzie indicated the direction, “you?”
The back door to the club suddenly opened, a couple of very drunk girls emerging. Mackenzie stepped back a little hoping they wouldn’t notice them, but when he turned around again Jackson was gone.
He looked either way down the alley, starting to wonder all over again whether he’d just imagined the whole thing. The stench of alcohol clinging to his jeans told him otherwise.
“You can’t be here, it’s dangerous!” Zac was scowling.
“We are well aware of that,” Walker insisted.
“We?” Taylor picked up on, “is Mom here too?!”
“She’s not here here, but she’s safe. For now,” Walker looked him in the eye.
“How can anyone be safe?!” Zac demanded, “if Tay had stayed in Dallas two more days he could be dead right now!”
Walker looked between them for a moment and Taylor felt his adrenaline rising.
“What happened?” Walker asked, his voice steady, “what happened in Dallas?”
“A clone went psycho and started killing everybody,” Taylor’s voice was steady in kind, “did you know about him? Were you ever going to tell us about him?”
“No,” Walker looked away.
“No to what?” Zac demanded, “no you didn’t know, or no you weren’t going to tell us?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Walker insisted, “what is Carey doing here?”
“What do you mean it doesn’t matter?!” Zac was getting more and more frustrated.
“We never told you his name,” Taylor realised, his eyes narrowing, “how do you know Carey’s name, Dad?”
“It’s also not important.”
“No, you don’t get to tell me that!” Taylor’s voice rose again, “you need to tell us what the fuck is going on, and you need to start talking now!”
Zac winced at Taylor cursing at their father, but he stood his ground aside him. Walker didn’t even seem surprised.
He sighed to himself and leant against the table.
“Right now your mother and I are at an impasse,” his voice lowered, “we know that we can’t keep running, especially at our age, and the time has come to decide one way or another our fates.”
“What are you saying?” Zac asked as Taylor just rolled his eyes.
“I’m saying I’ve come out of hiding to speak to Ivan Morris,” Walker revealed, “to negotiate on mine and your mother’s behalf.”
“These people don’t negotiate,” Taylor scorned, “and you’d know that better than anybody. You’re playing a game you already know you’re going to lose!”
“Not necessarily,” Walker reasoned, “we still have something they want.”
“They already have everything they want!” Zac argued, “they got Tay, they got Ike, and they’re coming back for Ezra and Penny because they made Tay sign a contract!”
“They want nothing from you but your lives,” Taylor added, “they got everything else while you hid.”
“And we’re sorry for that,” Walker insisted.
“You’re sorry?” Taylor’s brow rose and he broke into an incredulous laugh.
“We are,” he confirmed, “but this is the next step.”
“I don’t care about your problems, I really don’t,” Taylor shook his head, “I care about you because you’re my father, but as far as I’m concerned this thing you’ve got going on…”
He waved his hand.
“…Does not concern us. You did your damage and you need to leave us alone to deal with it.”
There was an awkward moment of silence as Taylor stared his father down.
“If that’s how you feel,” Walker shrugged his defeat, “I’ll contact Dallas at first opportunity and be on my way.”
“Tay,” Zac grabbed his shirt to pull him aside, Taylor throwing him off.
Walker stood to wait as Zac lowered his voice.
“I know I’m not really the eye in the sky on this one, I’m barely involved as it is,” he began warily, still very angry himself, “and I know you’re upset, but we’re not going to send Dad to his death.”
“So what, he stays here?” Taylor’s eyes narrowed again, “putting us all in danger? I am not prepared to explain to the kids why snipers started shooting our windows out or why their grandfather is laying dead on the floor when they get up in the morning!”
“So don’t,” Zac was sure he looked as awkward as he felt, “he can come home with me. Just for tonight.”
“We don’t know that we aren’t being watched right now,” Taylor said between his teeth, “they could already have surveillance on me and they might already know he’s here.”
“I don’t hear any doors being broken down,” Zac pointed out, “I think they’re a little preoccupied for today, don’t you?”
“I’ve taken the chance before and been wrong,” Taylor hit back, “are you prepared for those consequences?”
Zac looked back at his father who was at least pretending to not overhear.
“Right now I’m not prepared for anything,” he admitted, “we all need sleep. It’s been a bad enough day as it is.”
Taylor couldn’t argue that.
“I say we sleep it off and regroup in the morning. Give Carey a chance to settle in, and Ike a chance to find out what’s going on. We’ll pick this up later.”
“I won’t change my mind,” Taylor warned.
“I don’t care if you do or don’t,” Zac was blunt, “Dad? You’re coming with me tonight.”
Walker gave him a nod, conceding defeat. Zac left the study to head back to the dining area where he knew everyone was waiting in tense silence. Walker went to follow him, stopping to put a hand on Taylor’s shoulder.
“It was hard for us too,” he insisted, keeping his voice low so that no one outside could hear, “we missed you, and we missed the kids.”
“And it’s all on you,” Taylor wasn’t backing down, “you could have changed it from day one, but you didn’t.”
“And we’ll have to live with that,” Walker assured, giving his shoulder a pat before following Zac.
Taylor grit his teeth, holding himself back from following after. He needed to stop and take a breath.
“Dad’s coming home with me tonight,” Zac announced to the table where Emma, Natalie and Carey sat around, “we’ll regroup in the morning and decide what to do then. I want to get Ike involved while we figure this out.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Natalie agreed, “how’s Tay?”
“Not good,” he replied as Walker appeared, “good night guys.”
“Good night,” both Carey and Emma gave him a nod before he could head for the door.
Carey and Walker shared an awkward stare before the older man followed suit.