After driving for a little while, Kirby told his son to climb into the back seat and change into the clothes he would find in the bag. David looked and saw a grocery bag on the floor in the back of the car. He squeezed between the front seats and got to the back, opened the bag, and looked at his father in shock.
"Dad, this is a dress. These are girl clothes."
"I know what's in there, son. I need you to do as you're told," Kirby told him. "They weren't supposed to see us leaving. Now they will be looking for an old woman with a boy. If I take this wig and dress off and you put that dress and wig on...."
"We'll look like a father and daughter," David finished for him.
"Exactly," Kirby confirmed with a smile of pride for his intelligent son. The car weaved a bit just then and David teased his father and told him to watch the road. "Yes, Danielle," Kirby smirked in return.
"Dad?" the new Danielle asked a little while later when the car swerved even more noticeably. It was then that David saw the dark wet spot on his father's leg. "DAD! You're hurt!"
"I know that," Kirby hissed shortly. He immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, son. I'm hurting, but I shouldn't take it out on you."
"Yes, you should. It's all my fault," David replied.
"Listen to me, son," Kirby said firmly. "This was not your fault. You didn't do anything to deserve this. I should have had a talk with you about sex a long time ago. If it's anyone's fault, it's mine."
"But if you and Mamee had just turned me in when they came looking for me...."
"We would never have been able to live with ourselves, David," Kirby stopped him. "I love you son, and so does... did Mamee, and so did your uncle Melvin. We all saw the way you looked at the boys. None of us wanted you to be killed the way Huey was."
"You all knew?" David asked, blushing intensely.
"We didn't know you had already started doing things with other kids," Kirby answered. "We just knew that you weren't too likely to fit in with the religious fanatic view of life that our current government embraces." The car weaved again and David begged his dad to go to a hospital. "We can't, son. The government is looking for us now, son. We can't be seen or recognized. I have to keep driving as long as I can. I think it is just a scratch anyway."
Kirby's leg did eventually stop bleeding. The bullet wound was a little more than a mere scratch, but it wasn't too serious in and of itself. What was concerning to Kirby was the amount of blood he had lost. He didn't let on to David how light headed he felt and pushed himself to drive until he thought it was safe to stop. He finally pulled over at a rest area and parked the car.
"David, we have to do something very wrong right now," Kirby announced. "The police are going to be looking for this car, son, so we have to get another one."
"We're buying a new car, Dad?" David questioned.
"No, David," Kirby explained. "I wish we could. We are going to have to steal a car, son. I've never done anything like this, though, so I'm not really sure how to do this." Father and son were startled by knocking on the window of their car just then. They looked up to see an older woman standing there.
"Mr. Viggins, I vant help you and son," the woman said. "I have listened to news reports about you all night and this morning. Please, come vit me my car; ve talk."
"Why should we trust you? You could just be trying to get us out of the car so they have a better shot at us," Kirby responded.
"If police know you are in car, they shoot through the vindows, yah?" the woman pointed out. "Vy you should trust me... vell... you have a choice? And there is this..." She rolled up her sleeve and revealed a black triangle tattoo and a set of numbers that looked as if they had been burned rather than tattooed into her skin. Kirby opened the door. David helped the woman get his father into her car. "I vas little older than David ven I get these marks," the woman told them. "There vas boy in my village vas sveet on me, but he mean nothing to me. He vas bully und I not like him. Besides this, I had already fallen in love vit my beautiful Marta. He find out about us und turn us in to Gestapo. Marta, she go for shower one day und I never see her again."
"I'm so sorry, Ms...." Kirby said, fishing for her name as well as offering his sympathy.
"Mrs. Jones, but you call me Freya," the woman supplied. "I marry American soldier after war, because I never want to be treated like this again. So, I am miserable for forty years making babies vit man I never love. He vas good man, vas Mr. Jones, but never do I feel for him like I feel for my Marta. Mr. Jones give to me the three babies. Now two of my babies got babies of their own, even one vit a grandbaby now. Me, Freya who never like children ven I am young, have a great grandbaby now. Mr. Jones, he is gone long time now, but he give to me some other things that help you, Mr. Viggins."
"What happened to your other baby, Mrs. Jones?" David asked softly.
"My other baby," the old woman mused with a sigh. "My son, his name David too. He vas alvays like his mama, vas my Davey. He leave from here a long time ago, before his papa die. He go to California to look for his kind of people. Our kind of people," she added with a direct look at David in the mirror.
By this time, the old woman was pulling off the highway and onto a long dirt road. This led to an old farmhouse that had seen its better days, but was obviously cared for and lived in. She told David to help her get his father into the house. Kirby started to protest, but she clamped a wrinkled old hand over his mouth.
"This vat I never like about men," she said with a wink at David. "They think they must alvays make decision und sacrifice. Sometimes, is true. Sometimes, is not. You come inside; have some food. I look at leg, maybe fix up some, then you go." At the look from both of the males, she added, "I Mama to three babies, I know to cook, and I vork thirty years as nurse."
Freya fed them some tafelspitz with vanillekipferl for dessert. She stitched up the wound on Kirby's leg while David was sent to open the barn out behind the farmhouse. Inside was Mr. Jones' car. David came running back into the house excitedly just as his father was trying out the crutches Freya had given him.
"Dad, wait till you see this car! It is so cool!" the boy was gushing. "Can we ride with the top down? Please?"
"What are you talking about, son?" Kirby asked.
"No top down for you vit dat wig, Davey," Freya said with a frown. "You come vit me, ve fix you up good." Thirty minutes later, Freya walked back into the room. "Mr. Viggins, may I present your daughter, Danielle."
David stepped into the room and even Kirby had trouble believing that it was his son in front of him. Freya had given the boy a new wig and applied makeup as well. She had also given David a new dress to wear that was much closer to his size.
"You look just like what I imagine your sister would look like now," Kirby murmured. "And not too far off from the way your mother looked when she was your age."
"My sister?" David asked.
"I will tell you in the car," Kirby whispered a little emotionally. "We need to get going. Freya, I don't know how we can thank you."
"You thank me by keeping your David safe," the old woman replied. She turned to David and held her arms out. The boy practically leapt into the hug. "You not think your friends are your fault, liebling. You did not ask crazy man to take over the government. It is not your doing that your friends die. I know this, so you listen to old Freya. It takes me many years to learn this about my Marta. You save yourself troubles and learn from me. Besides this, if you cry, you ruin your makeup and have no Freya to fix for you again."
"Freya, we can't take this car," Kirby said as he stared into the barn.
"You are not liking color?" the old woman snorted.
"We're trying to avoid attention, not gain it," Kirby protested.
"Dad, what better way to hide than in plain sight?" David asked. "In this car, we aren't hiding anything. There is nothing suspicious about a father taking his daughter on vacation, so we shouldn't act suspicious."
"But David, this car...."
"This car vas meant to make someone happy," Freya told them. "For years it makes my Mr. Jones happy. Now it help your David grow up happy. You take it." She then handed Kirby an envelope.
The packet contained a birth certificate and a driver's license for David Jones with Kirby's picture on it, as well as a title for the car in the name of David Jones. There was also a school ID card for Danielle Jones. David and Kirby both stared at Freya in shock.
"Ven I tell you Mr. Jones vas good man, I mean he good provider, good father to the babies," the old woman said with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "I never say he good man to police. He make these kind of documents for bad people, now I make them for good people." At this point Kirby hugged her, and after David, or rather Danielle, got another hug as well, the two of them drove away in the 1960 Chrysler 300F convertible.
They drove for a couple of days without any incident at all. Freya had packed a huge picnic basket full of sandwich stuff that didn't have to be refrigerated so they only had to stop for gas. Each time they did, people admired the beautiful black and white car. David, as Danielle, told a completely convincing story of her grandfather passing away and leaving the car to his son, her father, who had twisted his ankle at the graveside service for his father. After the third or fourth time hearing this little performance, Kirby finally commented on it as they drove down the highway.
"I'm not sure how I feel about this whole thing, son," he admitted. "On the one hand, I'm proud of you for handling this all so well, but on the other hand I have to wonder about something."
"What's that, Dad?"
"Well, if you're so good at lying about all of this, I wonder what else I should ask you about," Kirby explained with a wink at his son.
"I think I better not answer that one," David answered with a grin.
"That's my boy," Kirby chuckled. He grew serious then and added, "I really am proud of you, David. I always have been and I always will be. I love you very much, son."
"Thanks, Dad," David said as he leaned over and hugged his father.
"If you ever need to talk to me, son, about anything at all, I will be here for you, son."
"I know that now, Dad," David responded. "I know you said none of this is my fault, but if I had talked to you or Mamee about how I was feeling instead of getting into stuff with Xander, Xandra, Tommy, Will, and Sue things might be a lot different now."
"They might be... They could be better, or they could be worse," Kirby told his son. "The point is that what has happened, has happened now. We can only keep moving forward from where we are. Looking back doesn't accomplish anything. Besides, you are only eleven... almost twelve," Kirby added before David could. "You have a long full life ahead of you son. You don't have to know all the answers now. You can take some time and figure out who or what you like."
"I already did that, Dad," David said. "Well I sort of did. I had narrowed it down to Xander and Xandra."
"That's narrowed down?" Kirby asked.
"Well, yeah," David answered with the roll of his eyes that kids give their parents. "Will and Tommy were lots of fun to play around with, but that's all it was with them: playing around. Sue was out of the running a long time ago. She was mean and nasty when she didn't get everything her way. She was probably the one that turned us all in. We had all stopped playing around with her after a little bit because none of us really liked her."
David was silent for a few minutes before he spoke again rather sadly. "Xander wanted to be an artist when he grew up," he recalled quietly. "He had a sketchbook that he hid between his mattresses that he kept all his pictures in. He had this one of me and Xandra.... Umm... I think this gets back to the category of I had better shut up now," David finished with a red face.
"For a naughty boy, you sure do blush a lot," Kirby teased gently.
"Yeah, and I know just where I got it from too," David returned with an impish grin. "Every time Mom wore her hair loose around her shoulders, you could have stopped traffic with your face. See, you're blushing now just remembering her doing it."
"Watch it kiddo, or I will tell you why I blushed when she did that," Kirby warned with a laugh.
"I don't wanna know, I don't wanna know!" David said quickly and covered his ears.
The week that Kirby and David spent together in the Chrysler was something special for both of them. They learned more about each other and themselves than they would have in ten years of the life they had been living. Kirby kept to the back roads as much as he could, especially when he thought they were getting close to the border, thinking that would help them avoid trouble. He couldn't have been more right and more wrong at the same time if he had deliberately tried.
Once he was off the main highways, Kirby got lost easily, having to backtrack a couple of times. Unfortunately, the third time he took a wrong turn, it led to a series of disasters. First was the problem that by the time he realized that he had taken a wrong turn, he didn't have enough fuel left to get back to the last town they had seen. Kirby wasn't exactly sure where they were, but it was a hot dry desert as far as the eye could see in any direction.
The second disaster Kirby encountered was learning that the desert wasn't nearly as lifeless as it appeared. He had told David that they would be camping out for a few hours until it was safer to cross the border into the much more liberal west, when what had really happened was that the car had run out of fuel. A little later, Kirby went to relieve himself and came across one of the desert inhabitants. The snake bit him on the inside of his right thigh as he was squatting down, then slithered away. Kirby got back to the car as quickly as he could, but by the time he reached it, he was already feeling the effects of the venom. He couldn't help wondering how he had missed the rattling sound, but then realized that he had been distracted trying to think of how to get back to a town so they could continue their journey. He opened the car door, but collapsed before he could get in.
"Dad!" David yelled as he jumped out of the car and ran around to his father's side. "Are you ok?"
"No, son, I'm not," Kirby answered truthfully. "I've been bitten by a rattlesnake."
"I can get you help," David told him. "I'll drive the car as far as it will go, and then..."
"There won't be time, David," Kirby whispered as he pressed a hand to his chest. He could feel his heartbeat already fluttering. "Just take what you need and start walking, now."
"I won't leave you, Dad," David said firmly.
"I don't want you to see this, son."
"Tough shit, I'm staying."
"David, language," Kirby wheezed as sternly as he could.
"Dad, no one let me near Mom when she got sick, so I never got to tell her I loved her or goodbye or anything," David vented. "I know Mom told you to leave and not watch her die, because I heard you and Mamee talking about it later. You stayed then and I'm staying now," he added firmly. "You are the only family I have left, and even though it's my fault you and Mamee and Uncle Mel got killed...."
"Not your fault!" Kirby corrected with a wheeze. "You... not to blame...Government crazy... Proud of you, son... Will love you always, David." Those were Kirby's last words.
David sat beside his father for a little while as he wept and felt more alone and scared than he had ever felt in his worst nightmares. Realizing that he couldn't stay there forever, he finally got up and searched the car for anything he could use to dig a grave for his father. He finally found a fold up shovel in the trunk of the big convertible. After a few minutes of trial and error, he got it to unfold and stay that way so that he could dig with it.
Several hours later, David was exhausted, and the dress he had been wearing was pretty much ruined, but Kirby had been given the best burial that David could manage. He stood staring at the car now, wondering how far it would get him. When he tried the ignition, it wouldn't even start. The engine just coughed and sputtered. He wrote a note on a scrap of paper telling anyone who found the car to return it to Freya, and gathered up what was left of the food and drinks. He picked up the wig that he had taken off while he was digging and started off down the road. He had no idea how long he had been walking, but he was starting to wonder why he had stopped sweating when he suddenly bumped into someone.
"Hey, watch out! You almost hit my baby!" he heard himself yell, but he didn't remember opening his mouth. He blinked in confusion as he looked up to see himself standing beside a little blond kid with yellow eyes who was holding a baby.
"Daniel, David," the little kid said happily. "David, meet Daniel and Bethany. You are both you, just from different universes."
"Heat stroke," David mumbled as he sat down rather roughly on the pavement.
"Well that seems to have gone well, don't you think?" the little blond asked Bethany. He looked over at Daniel and David and said, "Oh you might feel some pain as your brains adjust to being a twin again."
"I feel like someone is stomping on my brain," David and Daniel replied in unison.
"No brain stomping, I promise," the boy told them. "Okay, now that we are all ready... Oops, we will wait while Bethany has a bowel movement. Daniel, I think it is time for you to take your daughter back, NOW. What do you humans feed your children that could smell so bad?" He walked away holding his nose as Daniel changed Bethany.
"So you're me, is that what the kid said?" David asked.
"Or you're me, kind of depends on the point of view, I guess," Daniel replied. "Although I can't imagine why I would ever be caught dead in a dress."
"Well I can't figure out how I could have a baby at my age, I mean if you're me, you just started shooting about two weeks ago," David returned.
"I've been shooting since I was six," Daniel replied proudly. "Dad showed me how."
"Dad molested you!" David exclaimed. "No way, Dad would never do that."
"Dad didn't molest me, he showed me how to handle a gun," Daniel explained. "That must explain the dress. You were working undercover for the secret police."
"Do not talk to me about police, murdering bastards," David spat.
"You're working for the enemy," Daniel gasped.
"What enemy?" David asked in confusion. "The only work I do is homework. Well, I take out the trash every week too."
"So there's no war here?"
"No; not that our country is involved in anyway," David answered. "I think there is something going on in Asia somewhere, though."
"Ok, smelly little person all taken care of and you two caught up with each other," the little blond boy said as he walked back up. "I'd say things are progressing nicely. Let's take you all home now." He looked over at Bethany and said, "No, I will not apologize. You were really nasty smelling, whether it was your fault or not."
"Is he talking to your baby," David whispered to Daniel. He got a confused nod in reply. "Are you sure you three aren't a heat stroke?" Daniel reached over and pinched David. "OW!"
"Not a heat stroke, and not radiation sickness either," Daniel mumbled. "I wonder who we're going to meet this time?"
"Oh, lots of people," the little boy answered. "Some are people you already know, some you don't know, a few that you both think are dead, oh and one that you think is just a dream, Daniel."
"Well, that clears everything up," David said sarcastically. "You are all a heat stroke. I'm just going to sit here and wait to die. I hope I get to see Xander and Xandra when I'm dead."
"I'm sorry, David, they are alive but they don't live in the Charleston you're going to," the little blond boy told him. "You may or may not find them later in your life. My Dad says I'm not supposed to fix everything for you; it would make things too easy for you." Daniel and David both groaned as the world around them disappeared.