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26 December 2007 @ 08:51 pm
Heroes WIP  
This is a wip, please don't list this, ninth_wonders... thanks.

The Great Untold Story of Sandra Bennet

Part One: From Odessa to Odessa, or How to Succeed in Dog Shows Without Really Trying

Noah Bennet had been the star of the track team.

And the debate team, And the drama club. And the model U.N.

He was the kind of boy nobody wanted a thing to do with.

Teachers claimed they loved him but resented him for being smarter than they had any chance of being. Girls fell in love with him from afar but found him aloof to inaccessible up close. Needless to say, there was not one student of his own sex that didn't have a complex about him, one way or another. Yes, Noah Bennet was THAT type. The type you're sure will cure cancer eventually, but until that day, you'd rather not have anything to do with him.

Unless you're the CIA. Or the NSA. Or the Men In Black. All of which tried unsuccessfully to recruit him right out of high school. But Noah Bennet was not interested in serving his country. He had no loyalty to flag or even planet. His only interest seemed to be in the sort of dangerous games that would have surely killed a lesser man. Drag racing down a freeway with no lights on. Cliff diving at night. Hunting deer with a knife in bear country. Cheating right under the dealer's nose in Vegas. This last one, incidentally, was part of how he bankrolled the rest. He was far more clever than others who've tried beating the house. With a modest $100 winning, he would buy a new wig or plastic nose and become a mysterious high roller another night. He never won enough at a clip that the powers that be got suspicious. There were always one or two lucky saps each night. It was just that the casinos' heavies were under the mistaken impression that is was a DIFFERENT lucky sap each night.

It was 1972, in Pamplona, that he met Adam Monroe. He was running in the same heat as Noah, the very-lucky-or-very-dead crowd that waited just beyond the gates where the bulls were kept. It wasn't that Monroe offered him a job, or anything so pedestrian. He simply inquired as to whether he could send someone to get in touch in a few years, when Noah was ready to do something with his life. "If you can find me in a few years," Noah had shrugged, swinging behind a gate to avoid an angry horn. "you're welcome to get in touch." Sadly, they were separated shortly thereafter, and Noah thought he'd seen poor Monroe in a twisted heap under the stampede of hooves and feet a few minutes later. It would be several years before that little misunderstanding was cleared up.

It wasn't even Monroe who got in touch two years later, but a fellow named Thompson. It was apparently auspicious (but rather more likely carefully planned) timing, as Noah had recently fallen tragically in love with a gorgeous Scandinavian bounty hunter who inexplicably adopted a rather ugly baby and went to work for the U.N. Noah had decided to ski away his troubles and was now laid up in the only hospital in Norway where the nurses looked like they were from Germany. He was miserable.

Then, one day, Thompson appeared. Noah thought he'd gone mental, conjured up an anchor from the BBC. He never said hello, never asked after Noah's health. He simply said, "My name is Thompson. We're sending you to Russia for orientation." That made about as much sense as anything at the time, so Noah nodded. When he was discharged, Thompson was waiting outside with a suitcase, a set of forged documents, and and pat on the back. "Perhaps I'll see you again," he said, and shuttled Noah into a car. The car took him to a private airfield north of Oslo. And that's how Noah Bennet got to Odessa the first time.

In Russia he met Ivan and almost quit. He had no intention of becoming an agent of a foreign government, he said, at which Ivan laughed heartily and said that was good to hear because the pigs in his government were the people he was least interested in helping. They started doing what Noah could only conceive of as odd jobs-- delivery of sensitive packages, thefts from heavily guarded government facilities, an assassination or two. Noah was fuzzy on the details, but the jobs seemed interesting enough, so he tagged along. Ivan kept him too busy to get curious.

The only clue he got to the nature of their work came when the two of them (Charlie's Angels, Noah used to call them derisively) were ordered to infiltrate a KGB sting and bring in a certain petty thief. Noah had his standard gun, but Ivan replaced his with a small firearm that looked like it was full of muddy water.

"What's that?" Noah asked.

"A thickening agent," Ivan said. That is all you need know, my friend."

When the shooting began at a warehouse near a local park, Noah and Ivan were already inside, waiting, hidden behind the suspended payload of a forklift, for the cover of fire to smoke out their target. Sure enough, at the first raps of the machine guns, a panicked man emerged from the shadows and made for the back door. "I can break his legs from here," said Noah confidently, aiming his gun and firing two perfect rounds into the man's calves over what he later realized had been Ivan's protestations.

The man swore loudly. Ivan rushed into action, grabbing his own gun and shooting out a pulse of the sandy liquid, knocking Noah down in the process. He missed and let out some fairly loud curses.

Noah rose. "What's the matter with you?" he seethed.

"What is the matter with me? He gets away, that is the matter with me!"

"What the hell are you talking about? I shot him through the legs!" Noah said, clambering over the storage boxes to get a view of the warehouse floor.

It was empty. Not a mark or a drop of blood on the floor to indicate he'd been there.

"What the--"

At that point, the KGB burst in and Noah and Ivan had to retreat.

As they ducked back into the park and crept across the withering grass, Noah whispered, "He was shot in the legs! People don't get shot in the legs and walk away and don't even bleed!"

Ivan looked back at him with a glare that burned, even in the darkness. "Obviously, my friend, some people DO."

They never spoke of it again.

Ivan gave him, at the end of it all, a passing grade. It would have been higher, had it not been for the spoiled rich kid from the East Coast who completely showed him up during a sparring session at the studio of a particularly vicious martial arts master. Noah didn't like him from the moment he set eyes on him, but at least he didn't seem to care for their teacher's ugly penchant for killing the students she failed. Thank goodness for small favors.

But for all the pain and torture of it all, Noah had pretty much grown fond of his mentor. Or perhaps it was just the novelty of having someone who wasn't completely transparent, even to his sharp eye; even after all this time and all they'd faced, Noah still wasn't any closer to knowing for whom Ivan worked or what the nature of that work was. So it was bittersweet when Ivan sat him down and promised that all he need do was choose his base of operations, and when he got there, everything would be made perfectly clear.

He was given a list of locations to peruse, but one jumped so far off the page it might as well have been the only name there.

Odessa, Texas.

And that's how Noah Bennet got to Odessa the second time. But I promised you the great untold story of Sandra Bennet, didn't I? Very well, then, let's hurry up and get her onto the stage.

She was born Sandra Dee Davis. Yes, she was named after THAT Sandra Dee; almost from the start she'd have none of it, however. She never could stand being Sandy or Dee or Gidget or any of the other ridiculous nicknames that were foisted on her in the Atlanta suburb where she lived. It only took her as long as discovering that the "a" in her name could be elongated before she ceased to answer to the flat "a" and insisted on being Sahhndra. It wasn't out of some pretention to be a Southern Belle-- Sandra simply wouldn't have anything silly. She preferred silliness on others, as evidenced by her being the first person to bestow a nickname on every new kid in the grade. Sandra Davis ruled the roost in elementary school, and in middle school she joined the school newspaper and raised holy hell. She actually got a principal fired before she was done.

More than anything, Sandra hated boys. They were boring, stuffy, listless louts with not a single interesting thing to talk about. They had no sense of fashion, no appreciation for art, not a whit of the social niceties that made life so worth living in old-money Georgia. Oh yes, Sandra came from money; sadly enough, very little of it had survived to her generation. So the curtseys and curls were the only remnants of a life that had once been much less ordinary.

But where Sandra hated boys, she adored small dogs. They were walking, snuffling little handbags for her to dress up and show off. Her mother had Mrs. Beasley; her three aunts had Mrs. Robinson (again with the movie names), Mr. Darcy, and the slightly less impressively named Mr. Peanut. Giving a dog a proper surname was one of the old-money traditions that probably should have gone the way of the old money itself; nevertheless, it was how Sandra was raised.

She won her first dog show at age 15 with a Yorkie who'd been abandoned by an abusive master. Sandra slept with him, ate his food, never left him alone all summer long, and slowly the animal learned to hold its head up high again. The dog's sob story touched the judges, and they were scrambling all over each other to sing Sandra's praises. In an interview for a local paper, Sandra went off on them in characteristic fashion:

"Well, I don't know what they think they're going on about," says Davis, 15. "It's Mr. MacAllister who deserves the credit. I didn't do a darned thing. How dare they ignore him and talk to me like I did something great? He's the brave one!"

The win bought Sandra and Mr. MacAllister a ticket to the regional championship in Charleston, South Carolina, and it was there that she came up against the first man who ever made her heart beat fast.

His name was Evan Delahunt, and the rumors of his coming dogged Sandra-- pun very much intended, mind you-- all the way up the coast. Evan had the wonder dog, a dachshund by the unfortunate name of Oscar, and he was unbeatable. The word kept getting repeated wherever his name was mentioned. Unbeatable. It stirred up Sandra's Southern passion like no other, and upon arrival in Charleston, she embarked on a rigorous training campaign, teaching Mr. MacAllister moves that would make a figure skater envious. There was no way she was losing to a hot dog named after a hot dog. Even if he was "unbeatable."

She and Mr. MacAllister advanced through the semifinals admirably before she even caught sight of him. He was a modest-looking young man, probably late high school to college age, with blue eyes and crop of flat brown hair. Sandra didn't think much of him, quite frankly, except that he was nice-looking in a modest sort of way. And Oscar! Oscare was long, thin, mangy, and the most homely mouse-brown Sandra had ever seen. How could such a beast win against Mr. MacAllister's gorgeous coat? Hollywood starlets woudl scratch her eyes out for the secret to his sleek hair. (A little hand lotion in the shampoo, for what it's worth.)

Evan was surrounded by a small coterie of fans. Female fans. Although this irked Sandra for some reason she couldn't name, she found them infinitely preferable to him. If they'd stop simpering, they might just be adorable. Sandra sort of wanted to sit them all down, do their hair, teach them how to stand up for themselves, and send them back to their lives to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting boys at their schools.

But Evan Delahunt himself was the one who noticed her. Dropping his pack of admirers, he sauntered over, looked at her and at Mr. MacAllister, and grinned broadly. "Why, hello there, Dorothy! Welcome to Oz!"

Sandra turned bright red. True, she was wearing her prettiest gingham dress, and true, she had a bow in her hair, but it wasn't even a blue bow, and Mr. MacAllister was not being carted around in a picnic basket! Scowling her fiercest scowl, she said, "My name is not Dorothy!"

"Sure it is," said Evan with an easy smile. "And there's Toto. Hallo, Toto!" To Sandra's chagrin, Mr. MacAllister barked cheerfully at the insolent jerk.

"His name," Sandra said slowly, mustering up all her pride, "is Mr. MacAllister. And I am Sandra Davis, I'll have you know, and neither of us like you very much, so go suck on a boxful of lemons with your stupid hot dog and leave us alone!"

She turned and marched, stopping only to frown disapprovingly at Mr. MacAllister, who was making depressed whining noises.

The day only got worse from there. Mr. MacAllister performed very well in the initial event, but when it got down to the final judging, a disaster happened. Sandra was very proudly walking him past the judges' stand when she caught sight of Evan. She turned her nose away haughtily, but before she did, she saw a creepy grin spread across his face. And Mr. MacAllister started walking in the wrong direction.

"Come," she said in her best showmistress voice, but he didn't listen. She repeated the word a few times, each time with greater panic, but Mr. MacAllister was acting like someone had dangled the entire dinosaur wing of the Museum of Natural History in front of his nose. He wandered right up to the central podium, where the winners would stand to get their pictures taken. And then-- it all happened in slow motion to Sandra-- he slowed down. Stopped. Looked around. And lifted his left hind leg.

Sandra heard herself scream in horror against a showful of gasps in the background. She burst into tears and fled.

How long she sat on the back steps of the hall, sobbing herself silly, was anyone's guess. Mr. MacAllister had followed her and was waiting patiently at her feet, little tail wagging in concer. "Shoo!" she'd cried at first. "I hate you. I never want to see you again!" But he wouldn't leave. It was as if someone had replaced her sweet, darling little terrier with a body double for a few minutes in there, and now the real Mr. MacAllister was back and oblivious to the havoc he'd created. Sandra decided after a while she'd just forget he was there at all. Her next dog would be a lady. Men always let you down. And ladies had more sense than to relieve themselves in public.

It was getting cold, and her dress was starting to blow about her knees in the wind. Somewhere in the depths of her misery she heard a voice coming closer to her.

"...know you feel bad about it, but it wasn't like you didn't want to..."

Mr. MacAllister had started to pace back and force, probably to keep warm. Sandra persisted in ignoring him.

"So you had your moment of rebellion. It'll work out better next time. Aren't you glad you did it? No regrets anymore, right? Now you know how it feels."

It was Evan Delahunt's voice. Pretending she couldn't hear or see him, she peeked between the fingers that covered her face.

He was leaning against the railing of the steps, smiling in that infuriatingly easy way of his. The breeze was ruffling his hair, and Sandra had to admit he looked awfully handsome in the waning light.

"Yes, I know she's listening. Hi there, Dorothy!"

The spaces between her hands widened just enough to give her a clear view from which to glare at him. "Go away, you great stupid!"

"I'm sorry about what happened in there," he said. "It happens to all of us in this trade."

"Except for it never happens to you," she seethed. "You're Perfect Man with the Wonder Dog!"

He laughed, long and loud. "Of course it happens to me. It happens to everybody, I just told you!"

She looked at him suspiciously. "I don't believe you. Everyone says you never make a mistake."

"Everyone is a lotta people," he drawled. "But I'll tell you something special, Dorothy, if you tell me something special." She waited him out. "Tell me, Dorothy, have you ever kissed a boy?"

"What?" She forgot entirely to be sad. "How dare you?" And she punched him right in the face. Not slapped. PUNCHED.

He fell backwards a few steps, said a word she'd never said out loud herself, and then laughed. "That's gonna give me a black eye. Nice shot."

"You want two?" She shot up to her feet. Mr. MacAllister barked encouragingly at her.

"You'd be worth it." His grin faded as he leaned forward. "You're just about the prettiest thing I've ever seen."

She stood back from him, cocked her hips, and put both hands on her sides. "You know something?" she said coldly. "You are the most arrogant son of a bitch I ever met!" It was her induction into the world of expletives, and she had the common decency to blush about it, but if anyone deserved it, this guy did. "I'll bet you always got what you wanted up until now, didn't you? Well, too bad, because this is one thing you don't get." She turned on her heel and grasped the handle of the back door.

It was locked. She stomped her foot in dismay and rushed back down the steps past him, hoping to be too quick about it to give him an opening.

She didn't make it.

He grabbed her wrist and pushed her back to she fell backwards, with a little cry, against his shoulders. "Sandra," he said, his voice a rumble against the back of her head. He used the flat "a."

"It's Sahn-dra," she insisted weakly. Somehow it had been easier to resist him when he called her Dorothy.

"OK, then," he said. "You win. You want to know my secret? I'll tell you anything. Look, I know I'm never gonna see you again. Can't we pretend? Just for now? That we actually like each other? I promise not to kiss you unless you say it's OK. But I really want to tell you my secret. It's burning me up and I think you're the only one I've ever met who's likely to understand."

There was need in his voice that paralyzed her. "I can keep a secret," she said softly.

He released her, and when she turned to face him, he was grinning again. But there was some relief in his eyes. "Good! You want to go get some waffles?"

Now, for a boy who had a secret that was burning him up inside, Evan Delahunt didn't seem all that anxious to share it, Sandra noted to herself as they gobbled up the thick golden squares with melting butter and gooey syrup. Their dogs waited patiently outside. He certainly was sharing everything else, though, from his boyhood dream of being a vet ("can't stand even being in 'em, I have to go in there, give 'em Oscar, and go stand outside") to his fondness for apple turnovers ("the way Grandma used to make them before she forgot who she was") to the first thing he thought when he saw Sandra ("couldn't stop looking at that pretty turned-up nose"). Evan talked and talked, like it was the first time he'd had an opportunity to do so in years. Sandra's curiosity melted into a sort of pity, and she felt kind of useful. Perhaps this boy needed some companionship. That turned him from golden boy to charity case, and she had a lot easier of a time dealing with the latter.

After the waffle house, they went ot the park, and as Sandra and Evan sat on a park bench watching the lake water ripple and reflect the stars, Oscar and Mr. MacAllister chased each other's tails and barked raucously. Sandra called after her dog in a warning voice. "Don't go off too far!" She rose to her knees on the bench, hands on the back of it, turning to watch the dogs frolic. "He is not listening to me at all today," she harrumphed, settling back down and turning to Evan plaintively.

Evan seized the moment, leaning in like a darting dragonfly and planting a kiss on her pouting lips.

Sandra jumped back with a cry, her cheeks flaming red, one hand pressed against her sudddenly violated mouth.

Evan just laughed. "That was worth it!" he crowed. "All right, then. I'll tell you my secret now!"

Sandra wanted to protest, but she couldn't. For one thing, it hadn't been an unpleasant kiss, brief as it was. Her heart was doing funny fluttering things she hadn't really ever felt. And for another thing, she really, really wanted to know the strange secret of Evan Delahunt.

He was grinning his signature grin. "Ready to see it?"

She nodded vigorously.

Craning his neck, Evan turned to the two small dogs. "Oscar! Mr. MacAllister! C'mover here!" he shouted, as though they were his human friends rather than two pets. Obediently the two trotted over and stood side by side in front of the bench, tails wagging and tongues hanging out expectantly.

Evan looked at the dogs for a moment, then said, "Yes, I am. You'd say she's the type to keep a secret, though, wouldn't you?" Mr. MacAllister took a step forward eagerly. "So why don't you go ahead and, um, let's see... lift your front paws. Just enough for a demonstration." The dogs obeyed.

Evan turned to Sandra. "I don't actually have to talk out loud to them. That's for your benefit. The whole conversation happens more or less inside my head. But this is how I do it. This is how I win dog shows."

Sandra was perfectly still.

"What do you say, Dorothy?" Evan tried to peek at her expression. "Pretty neat, don't you think?"

Calling her Dorothy was the final straw. Sandra turned, kicked him hard in the shins, and punched him in the other eye. "You told Mr. MacAllister to do that today!" she screamed. "I'm never gonna forgive you as long as I LIVE!" She grabbed her dog and fled, leaving Evan Delahunt far, far behind. She'd never see him again.

Sandra learned several lessons from that encounter. One, there were people in the world who could do strange things. Two, those people were usually very strange people. Three, anyone who wants to tell you a secret has an ulterior motive. And four, beware of boys who call you by something that isn't your name.

But there was a fifth lesson, too, and it was something she didn't learn until weeks later, when she got her very first and very last letter from Evan Delahunt.

Hello there, Dorothy!

I know, you don't like it when I call you that, right? Well, I won't call you that anymore. Just wanted to say I'm sorry. You're right, I did ask Mr. MacAllister to do what he did at that show. He felt real bad about it afterwards, though. But I wanted to you to know that I had a good reason. I saw that newspaper clipping when you won the locals, talking about how he was the brave one and you didn't do anything. So I came to that tournament hoping to find you, cause I thought maybe you could do the same thing I could, and I'd never met anyone who could. Guess I was wrong. But I had to do something to get your attention, because I couldn't get you to notice me. Sorry it was that.

Don't worry, I won't write you again or try to find you or anything. Just, thanks for that one night. I had fun. Even with the black eyes.

Please don't tell anyone what I can do.

Sincerely, Evan Delahunt.

Sandra was touched enough by the letter that she never did tell a soul about Evan Delahunt, the boy who could talk to dogs. This is important. Remember it.

But more important, Sandra Dee Davis learned a lesson from that letter:

If you really want to get someone's attention, you have to do something crazy.

:end Part One: Odessa to Odessa, or How to Succeed in Dog Shows Without Really Trying:

Next: Part Two: Attention, Please!

Feedback is welcome.
Tags: ,
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: rentiptoe39 on December 28th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Canon. Canon. You shoot people out of the kind with two "n"s in the middle.

So glad you liked :D