A Sense of Belonging

by Shaun Hately

New Series
DISCLAIMER:
Most of the characters contained within are not mine but are borrowed from the 1990s Tomorrow People Science Fiction TV series. They are the property of its creators and copyright holders.

Any other characters are the sole creation and property of Shaun Hately.

This fanfic forms part of my series of fanfics, entitled A More Perfect Union, and takes place after the events of The Lesser of Two Evils in that series and makes reference to that story. Chronologically speaking it begins just after the events depicted in the opening scene of the Origin Story with some parts of the story occurring during the timeframe of the Origin Story.

Once again, great thanks are owed to Beth Epstein for betareading this story

Comments and criticism (good and bad) on this story are welcome. Please e-mail me with comments at: e-mail me with comments at drednort@alphalink.com.au.

Chapter 1

Altona, Victoria, Australia
November 1, 1992
Early Afternoon

He sat on the steps, alone, looking out across the cricket ground to where several boys of his own age were setting up for the first impromptu game of the coming summer. He could have joined them - they would have welcomed him more than ever now, boys who before had had no real feelings for him, trying to make time, trying to express how they felt to someone who was beyond feeling or caring.

He felt a presence behind him on the stairs, a presence that had just walked out of the doors of the school, which had found him when he didn't really want to be found. A presence that sank down onto the steps next to him and just sat there offering the support of being there, but with enough sense to realise that speech was pointless - that no matter what he said, he couldn't really help. Adam resented the presence - he wanted to be alone. But this boy sitting next to him was not someone he could just push away. This was his friend who had saved his life. Adam owed him something at least. Owed him some response to his presence.

"Simon."

"Hi, Adam." The other boy looked across at his friend. Looked at the normally bright, energetic, and vibrant kid who was every day lapsing into a deeper and darker frame of mind. Simon knew the reason why, of course. Losing your mother, he could only dimly imagine how bad that must feel. And almost losing your father as well . . . he shook it off - he couldn't think like that or he'd lose it too. He had to help Adam - not wind up a basket case with him. Mrs Newman had been like a second mother to him, and he grieved for her. But at the moment, he couldn't worry about that. He had to be strong for his friend's sake.

"Adam, look. Are you all right?"

The reply was a monotone. "Yeah. I'm fine, Simon."

Simon didn't really know how to handle this. He knew Adam wasn't fine but he couldn't help him if his friend wouldn't talk about it. Since the funeral, he hadn't seen Adam show a shred of emotion. He hadn't seen him cry or seen him angry.

That wasn't quite true. Simon knew that Adam was angry, he could tell that after so many years as friends. He could see the few subtle signs that Adam was unable to hide from anyone who knew him that well. But there were no external signs.

And it was more than just anger. It was far worse than that. He could see the absolute rage that Adam had penned up inside him - the fury that he wasn't allowing to escape. Simon knew he had to draw his friend out. Knew he had to get him to express some sort of emotion.

"Adam. Don't give me that - I know you're not fine. I've known you for longer than anyone else except your . . ." he paused, ". . . except your parents."

He saw Adam's eyes close momentarily as if some sort of searing pain had just shot across the back of his eyes. He knew that he'd come close to getting a reaction and decided to strike while the iron was hot.

"Adam, I know you miss her . . . everyone knows you miss her. Why the hell can't you act like you do? She's dead, mate, all right. She's dead. I'm sorry. But you've got to accept that and not just sit around like everything's fine. Because it isn't. Is it?"

Adam leaned back against the steps and opened his eyes, staring almost directly at the sun. He held it in his glance for a moment. His reply was low and even and very, very quiet. Simon had to strain to hear the words.

"I killed her, Simon. It was all my fault."

Simon's mind went into overdrive almost instantly. He'd heard the rumours going around about the accident - how the police had said Mrs Newman had taken hours to die, and how Adam hadn't been at the accident scene when the first firefighters had arrived. How he was almost uninjured except for a minor concussion, and how no one had been able to get any type of rational explanation as to where he had been. It had all been officially put down to shock, but Simon wondered. He knew Adam had been having problems at home . . . knew that he hadn't wanted to go away that weekend with his parents.

But had there been more to the crash than met the eye? Of course not, that was unthinkable - the idea that Adam might hurt his parents! But then why did Adam blame himself? He had to ask - he dreaded the possible answers that raced through his mind. But he had to ask.

"How could it be your fault? What happened?"

Adam straightened up and looked Simon directly in the eyes. Simon felt himself being almost drawn into the brown eyes, glistening with moisture, so intense was the hold they had upon him. It scared him - he could see something in the eyes that he had never seen before.

"I've got to tell someone, Simon. I've got to. But I don't think you'll believe me. I can't tell you here - come with me."

He got up and Simon followed him.

They walked down past the cricketers, down into the part of the grounds farthest from the school, where people normally went when they were trying to avoid the eyes of the teachers. The area where no one was likely to see them or hear them talk.

They sat against the fence of the school, a cool breeze from the beach that lay beyond rolling up to their backs. And Simon waited. Finally Adam spoke. He voice was almost expressionless, a virtual monotone.

"The crash - I don't really remember it that well. Dad lost control. We hit the tree and Dad was knocked out. Mum was still conscious, she said she was trapped, and told me to go for help. I got out and I began to run down the road. There was a guy running towards me . . . then I was in the sea."

"The sea. But -"

"Shut up a minute, will you. I was in the sea. I didn't know what had happened but I wound up there. I was fully dressed, I was wearing jeans. I went under, Si, I almost drowned. I think I passed out then and I woke up on a beach."

He saw the look of Simon's face - somewhere between fear and pity, and he shook his head.

"I know what this sounds like, but I swear it's true. There's more, though, much more. There was . . . it looked like a wrecked plane - near the beach. I went up to it. I touched it - and it touched me. Inside, I mean. I fell into it - a door opened and I fell in.

"Inside it was like another world. It was another world. Simon, it was alien. An alien spaceship. And it called me to it."

"I got out of there, pretty quickly. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to be back with Mum - and Dad too. I knew what I had to do then. I knew what I could do. I could teleport - you know, zap from place to place. I tried to teleport to the town - I wanted to get there quickly - and I wound up back in the sea. And again. And again. I don't know how many times I did it. It took hours. Finally though, I managed to get back - back to where I started from. That was easier. But it was too late. God, Simon, I was too late."

For a second, Simon thought Adam was going to burst into tears. He wanted him to - he knew that his friend needed to let it out, and if it took some sort of fairy story for him to do it, then fine. But Adam seemed to marshal his emotions then, bring them under control. He looked at Simon.

"You do believe me, don't you? I know it's hard, I know it's crazy. But it's true. I swear it is."

Simon didn't know what to say. He was scared for his friend. Was Adam losing it? He thought about what he'd read, half remembered articles from Saturday magazines, about trauma, and the fact that people repressed memories of it, or made things up so they wouldn't have to remember the truth. Was that what was happening here? He supposed so. But what could he do about it? He didn't know, but he decided Adam needed him now.

"I believe you. If you say that's what happened, I guess it is."

Adam turned away. "You don't, do you? I don't blame you. I wouldn't either. I'd probably think I was going crazy. Except for one thing.

"I've been back there."

Chapter 2

Altona, Victoria, Australia
November 1, 1992
Afternoon

The school bell rang up in the distance. Adam leapt to his feet and much to his surprise, Simon thought he looked a bit better. Adam looked back at him.

"I'd better get to class. What have you got now?"

"I've got a free period. I'll see you later."

Adam walked away and Simon sat there for a moment trying to work out what to do. He didn't have a clue. All he could think of was that Adam needed help. If he believed what he was saying then maybe he was going crazy. Simon didn't have a free period. He'd just said that so he wouldn't have to walk back up to the school with Adam. He needed time to think.

If Adam was repressing what had happened, and making up these stories then that meant something really bad must have happened - didn't it? He couldn't remember and wished he'd read the articles in more depth. He supposed that losing your mother and almost losing your father was one of the most traumatic things that could happen to someone. But that wasn't what Adam was blocking out - on the contrary he was well aware that his mother had died. And he blamed himself for that. So what could be so bad that he'd repress it and not repress that? And why did he insist on taking the blame for his mother's death?

Adam needed help and Simon was his friend. He had to help him. But how? All he could think of was Adam's family. His dad was still in hospital, and was going to be for a long time. That left his uncle and aunt, who'd come up to the city to stay with Adam, so he could finish out the school year. Simon had met them a few times - they seemed like good people. And they were the only people Adam had to help him.

Simon got up and ran to the racks where his bike was located. He put on his helmet and rode out of the gates, not caring if anyone saw him leaving school early. All they were doing at the moment was constant revision for their exams. This was more important.

It took nearly half an hour to arrive at the Newman home and the whole time Simon was desperately trying to work out whether or not he was doing the right thing. Maybe it would have been better for him to try and talk to Adam himself? Even as he walked up the path to the front door, he hadn't reached a final decision. He rang the doorbell.

The door was opened by Matthew Newman, Adam's father's brother.

"Simon. What are you doing here? Adam's still at school - shouldn't you be?"

"Yes, I should, Mr Newman, but this is important. I need to talk to you about Adam."

The man shrugged, "You'd better come in, then."

They walked into the lounge room and Simon sat down in the chair that Mr Newman indicated then waited as the man sat down as well.

"Now what's the problem. Is there something wrong with Adam?"

Simon took a deep breath. "I think there is. I think he's -" crazy did not seem like the right word to use. "I think he might be losing his mind." That wasn't much better, but how did you say such a thing?

Mr Newman looked at him. "How do you mean? Has Adam said something to you?"

"Yeah, he has. I'm not sure I should tell you, though, I don't think he wanted anyone else to know."

"If Adam's having problems, I need to know about them. I can help him but I can only do that if I know what's going on. Simon - at the moment my wife and I are all he's got. Trust me. Please."

Simon nodded. "OK. I'll tell you what he told me. He said that after the crash, he got out of the car to go and get help. He started running towards town, but before he got there, he wound up in the sea. He says he teleported there, and he ended up on an island. There was a spaceship there. He said he couldn't get off the island for hours, and by the time he did Mrs Newman - his mother - was dead."

Mr Newman leaned back in his chair. "That's exactly what he said?"

"As near as I can remember - oh, two more things. He said there was someone else at the crash. A guy running towards the car. And he said he'd been back to the island since then."

Matthew Newman thought about that. It certainly sounded like Adam was having problems - how bad he had no way of knowing yet, he just hoped they weren't serious. But why would he be making things up - unless there had been more to the accident than met the eye.

He had sat with Adam as the police accident investigators had tried to find out what had happened. Adam had been incoherent and made very little sense, although he seemed to be trying to cooperate. Eventually concerned for his nephew's welfare - he had just lost his mother after all - he'd insisted the police stop asking questions. A few days later when they'd tried to question Adam again, Adam had changed. By that stage, he'd already withdrawn within himself, and he told the police he could remember nothing about what had happened. The police hadn't been happy with that - they'd been quite candid to Matthew that they thought Adam must have remembered something, but as there was no physical evidence to suggest any type of wrongdoing and they hadn't wanted to cause Adam any further pain they'd left matters there.

The thing was that the story that Simon now reported actually made some sort of sense. Adam had been soaked when he'd wandered back to the crash scene, and he had said something about an island and a ship - but Matthew couldn't remember precisely what - and he doubted he'd be able to find out without talking to the police and making them suspicious of his motives. No matter what had happened, his concern now was Adam - everything else was secondary to that. He turned back to Simon.

And there was something else as well. Adam had taken to disappearing for hours at a time ever since they got back to the house, and never told his aunt or his uncle where he had been. They hadn't made an issue of it, judging that he just wanted time alone. But they didn't know where he had been at all.

"Adam was almost taken by a shark earlier this year, wasn't he? You were there for that, weren't you?"

"Yes, I was."

"I heard something about him freezing - that he didn't even put up a fight."

"Yeah, he panicked or something. He had a knife and he got it out but then he froze. He said he couldn't think - he couldn't bring himself to stab it or something."

Matthew Newman thought on that for a moment.

"Do you think it's like Adam to freeze like that?"

"No way - but he was being attacked. I don't know, maybe it was more than he could handle. I was there too, and I was scared as well - and I didn't even get bitten."

"Sure - but do you think, maybe, he froze on the road out there?"

Simon seemed very hesitant. "I don't know, Mr Newman -"

"Forget it. I shouldn't have asked you that. Look, thanks Simon. Thanks for telling me this. I'll do what I can to get Adam help - it's probably something very minor. But thanks, I needed to know. Do you need a lift back to school?"

"I've got my bike."

"OK - if anyone asks where you've been, tell them to phone me and I'll sort it out. This was important."

"OK."

Matthew watched his nephew's friend ride away.

Chapter 3

Altona, Victoria, Australia
November 1, 1992
Late Afternoon

Adam walked in the back door. He actually felt a bit better now that he'd finally told someone what had happened, and there was more life in his voice than there had been in days.

"I'm home, Uncle Matt."

"Can I speak to you, Adam?"

"Sure." Adam walked into the lounge room. His uncle sat in the sofa, next to his aunt and motioned to Adam to sit down opposite them.

"What's wrong? Have I done something wrong?"

"No - we're worried about you, Adam." His Aunt Mary looked across at him.

"Why?"

This time his uncle spoke. "I got a visit from Simon this afternoon."

"Oh." The flat, unemotional voice returned.

"He told me what you told him. I need to know Adam - do you really believe what you said, or was it just something you made up?"

"What do you mean - made up? What I told him was true."

"OK - so maybe you can tell us what you told him. We want to know what happened, Adam."

"You'll never believe me."

His aunt spoke again. "Why don't you tell us and then we'll see."

"All right. The car crashed. Dad took his eyes off the road for a second and we hit the tree. Mum told me to run and get help, but before I got one hundred metres, I teleported - I disappeared into thin air, and reappeared in the sea. I got ashore on an island somehow and there was a spaceship there. I got into it - and it told me how I could teleport away. I tried and it didn't work. I kept falling back into the sea. So. Do you believe me?" There was a hint of bitterness in his tone, which came as something of a relief to his uncle and aunt - it was so long since they'd heard any emotion from him at all.

His uncle dodged the question. "Simon said there was a man as well. Did you get a good look at him?"

"No - he was on the road. He was white, somewhere around forty or fifty, I guess. I don't know. It all happened so fast. You didn't answer my question. Do you believe me?"

His uncle looked at him. "I won't lie to you. How can I believe a story like that? It doesn't make any sense, does it? People don't 'teleport'. They don't disappear from one place and reappear in another - not outside of science fiction anyway."

"It happened. I'm not lying."

"I'm not saying you are - I believe you believe it. I think you need help, Adam. I've been phoning around and there's someone I'd like you to see. I went to uni with him."

"A shrink?"

"A psychologist, yes."

"I'm not crazy."

"I'm not saying you are. But we need to find out what happened - why you don't seem to want to remember the truth."

"I am remembering the truth."

"It doesn't make sense, Adam. Listen to what you are saying. Look, let's take this man you saw - if he was there, why didn't he call for help? No one found the car for hours. The police found no evidence of anyone being around."

"I don't know. I don't know who he was or why he didn't go for help. Maybe seeing me teleport scared him off - I just don't know." Adam was angry now - finally starting to let his emotion show. "Uncle Matt. It's true. I can teleport. I've teleported back to the island a dozen times all ready. I'm not making this up - and I am not imagining it."

"OK, Adam - if you can do that, show me. Do it now. Convince me."

Adam's aunt grabbed her husband's hand. "Matthew, maybe this isn't such a good idea."

"No, Auntie Mary - it's a brilliant idea. Why don't I show you?"

And right before his aunt and uncle's stunned eyes, he disappeared in a flash of light.



For the first time, he managed to land precisely where he wanted to - right on the beach, right near the tent he had smuggled here a few days earlier. He felt safe on the island - he felt like he belonged. For the first time in his life, he felt he was home.

He'd always felt different - he'd never really fit in anywhere. But here on the island he did fit in. He wasn't sure why - he suspected the answers were inside the ancient spaceship. But he hadn't been ready to enter it before - he hadn't been in there since the day he first arrived, two weeks earlier. It had been too much of a step - what if the answers weren't inside? He needed them so much. He needed to know what he was. And he hadn't been sure he could handle it if the answers didn't exist.

Now he was ready. Now he had to know. He walked up to the carved portal and ran his hands across it slowly. It opened before him and he allowed himself to be drawn into it. He descended rapidly down the slide, the whole time feeling like he was plunging into oblivion. And wondering if he was.

When he reached the bottom, he stood up and walked into the room with the pillar of light that he remembered seeing before. He sat down on the floor next to the panel carved with the same otherworldly runes, and stroked his hands across it. He felt and heard thoughts, concepts and information flow into his mind. It entered his body via all of his senses - even through ones he hadn't known he possessed. He could smell the information, taste it as it eased into his consciousness.

He knew what he was. He knew what he had to be and what he had to do. What he didn't know was how.

He curled up in a ball next to the pillar and went to sleep. For the first time that he could remember, he felt absolutely safe.



"Hallo Uncle Matt."

His uncle looked up from where he sat and a look of profound relief, mixed in with not a little fear crossed his face. He didn't know what had happened the previous evening and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. But he was responsible for his nephew, and he cared deeply for him. And he seemed safe. He stood up and grabbed the boy in an embrace.

"What happened?"

Adam looked at him. "Do you believe me now?"

"I suppose I have to. How did you do what you did?"

"I can't explain now - maybe I can later. For the moment I just came to get a few things."

"You're leaving?"

"No - not forever. But I need some time to work out what's happening to me. I need some time to be alone."

"Adam, you're only seventeen - and I'm responsible for you. I can't just let you go off by yourself."

Adam shrugged. "You can't stop me. Look Uncle Matt. I really appreciate all you've done for me. I mean that. But for now, I need to be alone. I can't stay here." He looked around at the familiar walls of his family's home. "I don't feel like I belong here at the moment." He heard his aunt walking into the room behind him and could feel her relief as she saw him. He turned around and walked towards her, and wrapped his arms around her, then kissed her on the cheek, realising how much taller than her he was.

"I need some time to work some things out. I need to be alone on the island. I've never really belonged anywhere before and I want to know why I belong there. I'll be all right."

Before they could object, he walked upstairs to his bedroom and threw a few spare items of clothing into a backpack. Then he returned home.

Chapter 4

Tapahini
December 12th, 1992
Dawn

The sun was coming up behind Adam as he carried his dripping clothes from the stream where he had been washing them and hung them over the rudimentary clothesline hooked up next to his tent. It was going to be a beautiful day.

He decided to walk to the top of the small peak that dominated the centre of the island. He'd have a day off today - a day free and away from the lessons the spaceship seemed to want - to need to teach him.

From the top of the hill he looked out at the entire island. It was as close to paradise as he could imagine - and walking around he sometimes felt like he was in Eden. The only difference he could think of was that when his biblical namesake had been lonely, God had supposedly provided him with a companion. He wasn't sure if he actually wanted someone here with him or not - he was lonely, but he kind of liked the solitude. And unless anyone who came here belonged as much as he did - well, they'd only be an intrusion.

Finally he descended again towards the beach. He walked past his tent and towards the spaceship. The ship wasn't a particularly active companion. But he always felt safe within its walls.

He stood in the central room watching the pillar. Basking in its light. He didn't know how long he'd been there when he heard the noise. The sound of someone arriving down the chute in the other room. He turned and began to walk towards them. Then he stopped. He had no idea who they could be. He had no idea who could be invading his solitude.

Adam hid himself in a small alcove and waited as the person walked past. It was a black girl, very pretty, around his own age, maybe a little younger. She was wearing his clothes, which she must have taken from outside the tent. He realised as he looked at her that this person wasn't an invader or a threat. She belonged here as much as he did.

He let her get a bit ahead of him and then stepped out of the alcove and onto the small rise in the centre of the tunnel. He watched her look around in awe at her surroundings. Then he jumped down to the floor attracting her attention to him. He spoke.

"Hi."

The girl span around to look at him. She was afraid. He didn't blame her. She pointed at him then and began to speak.

"I hate this dream. Now you stay right there. Leave me alone!"

He began to walk slowly towards her. "Lisa," he suddenly knew her name. "It's all right. I won't harm you."

"How do you know my name, Adam? How do I know your name?"

He stepped up onto the centre rise and then down right next to her. He decided to start over. Start with an introduction.

"Hi, I'm Adam. Adam Newman."

As he said it, he reached down and took her hand in both of his. With the contact, some of the tension and fear seemed to leave her body.

"OK, Adam. What's going on here? Where am I?"

He took a breath. "Well, I'd suppose I'd better start from the beginning."

The End


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