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The Good, The Bad, and The Extra dimensional (IC)

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Colt's motor cycle rolled up onto the curb in front of his West End brownstone. He painstakingly climbed off, dropped the kickstand, and let the bike sit. He performed the ritual of removing his goggles and letting them hang around his neck, followed by finding his hat and restoring it to his head.

For a second, Colt just stood, staring at the house that he lived in. The house that held all of his worldly possessions. The house where his lover Lynn Epstein resided. He sighed, deeply, wondering if it would ever truly belong to him.

He drew a black case out of his coat pocket, withdrew from it a small cylindrical item and performed the rote, relaxing motion of using the case's built in mechanism to light his e-cigarette. He placed it in his mouth and drew a breath through it. He watched the end of the device glow blue, slowly pulsing to life as it danced in a mockery of the bud at the end of a real cigarette. He breathed out and watched the life fade from the end of the cigarette.

Not a thought passed through his head as he stood and stopped, trying to slow his life down in an attempt to see where it was all going.

Finally finished with the cigarette, he packed it away, and climbed the steps to the front door of the apartment.

He liked coming home this way. It was better to feel the key scraping in the lock, to wipe his boots on the rug, and to get blasted by the warmth from inside as the door swung open, than it was to enter through the underground where everything was technological and impersonal. No remotes, no automatic doors, no passwords, and certainly no VINCE. At the end of a long day, he preferred it this way.

He opened the door and heard it's familiar creak. Shutting it behind him, he called out. "Honey? I'm home!" He removed his hat and coat and placed them on the rack near the door. "Ya wouldn't believe the day I've been having."

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"Dude, I really don't think we're at the stage in our relationship where pet names are appropriate, you know?" Jack called from the kitchen. Out of costume in simple jeans and a faded t-shirt, the swordsman had a number of pans sizzling on the stove and was in the process of rapidly chopping up a tomato. "Don't force it, we'll get there naturally," he continued with a smirk, pausing in his cooking to wash his hands and amble into the foyer. "What's the matter, someone try to pass off a nine gallon hat as the real deal?"

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"Jack." Colt remarked plainly, smiling at the swordsman's jest, "Reckon I didn't see'ya there."

Colt made his way to the kitchen, taking the long way through the den. He stopped to make a quick drink at the small bar that stood in the corner. When he arrived in the kitchen, he stood apart from Jack, leaning up against an opposing counter.

Colt held the wide, shallow glass full of whiskey and ice cubes in between his thumb and two first fingers. He gave it a swirl and took a small sip. Grimacing slightly due to the taste, he started making conversation. "So, what's fer dinner, partner? Ya make me anythin'?"

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Grim heard Colt come in, but was in the middle of chatting with her Uncle Joe in Chicago; she signed off as quickly as politeness would allow, then shrunk down to pixie size and flew out of the computer room, zipped down the stairs and into the kitchen, where she blossomed back to full size, wearing her usual off-duty T-shirt and sweats.

"Hi guys! Mmm, smells good, Jack."

Darting forward, she claimed a chunk of tomato and popped it in her mouth.

"Mmm, I loves them termaters!"

She hopped up on the counter, gave her boyfriend a quick kiss (she'd been making an attempt to scale back the PDA in front of Jack, out of courtesy), then gave him a questioning look.

"So what's so crazy about today, hon?"

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"Reckon I don't even know where ta start!" Colt exclaimed as he tossed an arm in the air. He took another sip to wet his whistle and made a small face. "Do'a start with the part 'bout ma Ma almost gettin' run over by a train, or the part where'a got shot?" He asked, pulling the buttons of his shirt apart with his left hand to show the place where the bandages were wrapped around his upper torso.

From the position of the bandages and the blood splotches, it appeared that the wound had missed all sorts of vital areas, luckily. It had gone through his shoulder on the left side, above his lungs and heart. "Wadun't no bullet neither. I got shot by a laser from a ray-gun, if'n ya'd believe that!"

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The tiny shapeshifter looked like she'd just taken a two by four to the face; mouth agape, eyes as big as saucers and not a word to say. Her jaw worked noiselessly for a few long seconds before she finally regained the capacity for speech.

"Whuzza-hah? Lasers? Trains? Your mom's here?!" :shock:

Grim hopped down off the counter and spun on her heel to face Colt, jabbing an accusatory finger towards the injury.

"'Splain! 'Splain now!"

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"Hey, away from that!" Jack shooed Lynn away from the vegetables. Before he could answer any food related questions, Colt outlined his manifold troubles and revealed his wound. The swordsman whistled. "Man, meeting the folks, big step." He glanced between his two housemates and coughed awkwardly. "The, uh, train and laser stuff sounds rough, too. Aheh. You know what?" He gestured to the simmering pans. "I can leave these for a minute. So I'll just... yeah." Pointing over his shoulder with a thumb, Jack backed out of the kitchen to give the couple some privacy.

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"Thanks, Jack, but reckon ya shouldn't bother." Colt waved his hand dismissively. "Y'all stay here'n cook. We'll go upstairs'n talk. We c'n move, that there stove ain't goin' nowhere."

Colt grabbed Grim's hand out of the air in front of him and kissed it. "Follow me upstairs, an' I'll explain everythin'."

---

About half an hour later, Grim was still pacing a rut in the floor in front of Colt's bed. He sat on the front corner of the bed with his hands between his knees in a relaxed position that wouldn't stress his shoulder. "An' that's all'a it." He shrugged, helplessly. Bad idea. He winced when his shoulder twinged. "I tell ya, if'n I knew what I was gonna have ta go through t'day, I wouldn't'a gotten outta bed. That're I would'a had more'ta drink. Or both!"

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Still pacing, Grim's quicksilver brain struggled to grasp the enormity of the situation; at one point she stopped, like she was about to say something, but then she just frowned and dropped down onto a stool that thoughfully appeared below her. Seconds later she was up again, stool dissolved into nothingness, holding a little wooden rocketship in one hand, and an unauthorized Colt action figure (complete with Stellar Cycle!) in the other.

"So let me get this straight. You're telling me that you crashed through the space/time continuum (or whatever), and landed in our dimension-"

And here she brought Little Colt not-so-gently down to the surface of the bed, leaving him in a twisted jumble on the bedspread.

"And then these guys came lookin' for you-"

She brought the rocket around in lazy circles, closer and closer to Little Colt, until it 'landed' next to him.

"And now none of you guys can get back-"

Finally she produced a goofy-looking hand puppet, sporting a calico dress and red yarn pigtails.

"And your mom's not actually here."

'Momma Colt' shook her head 'no', and covered her wooden face with her tiny hands.

"Is that about it, honey? 'Cause that's a lot for this girl to take in."

Momma Colt nodded in emphatic agreement.

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"Yea," Colt said, subdued. "Reckon that's about the size'a it."

Colt brushed some of the action figures on the bed spread out of the way, then patted the space next to him, offering her a seat. He raised his arms and offered her a hug while he was at it.

"Honey, I wish there would'a been'a better way ta' tell ya. Least ways not all't once like this...But Now't Gillman's here, I'm gonna have ta do somethin' 'bout it. An' I need yer help."

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"Honey, I wish there would'a been'a better way ta' tell ya. Least ways not all't once like this...But Now't Gillman's here, I'm gonna have ta do somethin' 'bout it. An' I need yer help."

But the changeling wasn't in a hugging mood, at least not yet; she remained standing, right in front of Colt, and was in fact visibly upset.

"Why didn't you say you were trapped here? Does this mean I'll never meet your mom, or see where you came from? I mean, I know that's not the issue right now; dealing with this Angel Eyes guy is a much bigger deal, but dude, this is huge!"

Grim resumed pacing, her hands balled in fists of anguish. "Why didn't you tell me sooner? I could have-" She stopped suddenly, her hands dropped to her sides. "I could have done nothing; there's no way-"

Then her eyes lit up, like she was struck by lightening, and she leapt into Colt's startled arms. "Wait, there is a way, or at least there might be! Phantom is the guardian of the dimensional veil; it's her job to keep people from jumping back and forth between alternate worlds all willy-nilly. At the very least, we have to tell her about Gillman and his buddies, and maybe then..."

And then the wind left her sails once more, her mercurial emotions surging like the tides. "But what if she wants you to leave, and not come back? She was a total hag to me the first time we met, because I spent time in Avalon. Gah!"

She buried her face in her hands, the rapid shifting of her own thoughts and emotions catching up with her; at length, she wrapped herself around the man she loved, as if to shield him from extradimensional threats, her chin resting on his shoulder.

"Oh God; one way or the other, this is really, really bad news..." :(

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"I didn't tell ya cuz I didn't want ya ta think bout it. There ain't nothin' ya could'a done any more'n I could'a." Colt's voice lowered, "An' part'a me just don't wanna' think bout it neither. I knew I couldn't'a gotten back. There ain't no reason'ta go dwellin' on it."

Colt held Grim close to him. He let his hand stroke the back of her head lovingly as she rested it on his shoulder. "She ain't gonna send me back. That much I know. First thing'a did when'a got here was make sure I had all the right papers that allowed me'ta be here. In fact, Jack was there when'a did it. Anywhoo, it's been months since'a got here. Ain't no way she'd up'n decide ta just send me back now. Not when she'd had plenty'a time to do it before, an' certainly not when she needs ma help wit' ol' Angel Eyes."

Colt was quiet for a moment before adding, "We'll be alright, Grim, I promise."

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"We'll be alright, Grim, I promise."

Still holding him, Grim sighed deeply. "Well, I'm still kinda mad you...and feelin' mad is better than feelin' hopeless, so...I'm staying mad for a little bit longer."

She created a ping-pong paddle and gently bumped him on top of the head a few times.

"Bad, bad Colt." After a few seconds, she spoke up again. "I want you to meet my family; not right away, or even all of them necessarily. Hell, I think Uncle Karl is still serving time from when he lifted that Grand Cherokee."

She ditched the paddle and relaxed her loving deathgrip a bit, leaning back so she could search Colt's face with her deep brown eyes.

"I know it's like every guy's nightmare to meet a girl's family, but I feel like...it's important, y'know? Like I said, not right away or anything, we got plenty of time, but I do want you to meet 'em someday."

Grim smiled and rolled her eyes. "Well, maybe not my mom; Mom's kinda terrifying, actually."

She gave him a quick kiss, but wanted a bit more, so she followed it up with a nice long one; when she fiinally came up for air, she rested her head against Colt's cheek.

"So, d'you want me to call my close personal friend, the guardian of the dimensional veil?" She flips out her cell. "I got her on speed dial."

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"I reckon, I c'n do that," Colt would do anything for her. Meeting her parents was the least of his worries. After all, he'd traveled through dimensions. What were a few parents?

He returned her kiss lovingly. "Yea, you call that there friend'a yers. Reckon we're gonna need'er.

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"Yea, you call that there friend'a yers. Reckon we're gonna need'er.

"'Kay." She cycled through her phone list and hit Taylor's number; as it started to ring, she gave Colt a sly look.

"Although now that I think about it, Mom might kinda dig you; she's a huge country music fan, y'know. Had a biiiiig crush on Merle Haggard back in the day."

She winked, then turned her attention back to her call.

"Hi, it's Grim. I need to speak to Phantom."

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Taylor picked up on the second ring, flipping open the battered little cell phone. Her voice was blessedly normal Taylor coming out of the phone and not Phantom's hollow boom. Which made since as she was currently standing in the middle of the market, trying to remember what all one went grocery shopping for, "Hey, Grim. I'm guessing this an official call. What do you need?"

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"Hey, Grim. I'm guessing this an official call. What do you need?"

Grim nodded as she carefully extricated herself from Colt's lap; 'official business' calls always made her want to stand up, for some reason.

"Well, the short version is some bad guys from Colt's home dimension smashed their way into ours with a stolen spaceship, and now I guess they're stuck here, and there doing all kinds of typical stupid cowboy stuff like robbing trains and whatnot."

She looks at her boyfriend and apologetically mouths 'Sorry'.

"I think we were hoping to send their butts back from whence they came, but really any help would be appreciated."

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Taylor eyed the ice cream in her cart, thinking it wouldn't survive a long term time in the Void. She tapped her fingertips against the metal bar of the cart and thought, "Well... I can come by and discuss the situation fully. I don't know which dimension Colt is from and I'd have to see him in person to cast a spell to detect that. Once I know more of the details, I'll know more what I can and can't help with."

She glanced down at herself, mentally making note to add some sort of bulky sweater. Or jacket. They were trying not to have word about the baby get out, after all. She didn't think Jack would be too pleased about this little adventure at all, but better to beg forgiveness then ask permission, "Where should I meet you?"

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"Where should I meet you?"

Grim looked thoughtful, then looked around Colt's room.

"Uh...to be honest, I don't mind if you come to our place; we really don't have that much to hide."

She put her hand over the phone and looked inquiringly over to her teammate.

"Do you mind if Phantom just 'ports over here? She's totally cool."

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"Naw, I reckon that's just fine." Colt waved his hand dismissively. "Whatever's easiest fer her. I sure wouldn't wanna put'er out." Colt leaned back on the bed and propped himself up with his arms. Bad idea again. He grimaced as pain shot through his chest from the gunshot wound.

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"Naw, I reckon that's just fine." Colt waved his hand dismissively. "Whatever's easiest fer her. I sure wouldn't wanna put'er out."

With a nod and a-ok gesture, Grim uncovered the phone.

"Okay, yeah, our place is fine; uh, do you need directions or can you just mystical GPS me? I forget how your powers work sometimes."

She made a spazzy face and mimed shooting herself in the head.

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"Just give me a vague location and I'll find you," Taylor nodded at the instructions, pushing her cart into the line and began fishing for her wallet, phone still tucked against her ear, "I'll be at the front door in about fifteen minutes. Give or take."

Taylor was true to her word as she walked up to the stairs of the brownstone about fifteen minutes later. A small asian woman wandered up (as she was not nearly so blase as to port in on the doorstep), dressed casually in jeans and a loose empire waisted top under a buttoned winter coat. She paused, eyeing the door before shrugging and knocking once.

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""I'll be at the front door in about fifteen minutes. Give or take."

"Awesome possum! I'll be downstairs waiting for you, and thanks tons and tons!" Grim snapped her phone closed and crawled onto the bed next to Colt, being careful not to touch him with anything other than her lips.

"Okay, she's gonna be here in about fifteen minutes; in the mean time, I think we need to get your ass Underground and stick it into one of Doc's healing vat things. Not just because I'm selfish and wanna snuggle, but because there are only three of us on this team right now, and you're the ony one who can fly that damned cycle."

She gives him a quick soft peck on the cheek

"Capiche?"

- - - - - -

Grim was waiting in a glamoured chair by the door in the front stairhall, reading the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly; when she heard Taylor's knock, she sprang easily to her bare feet, tossing the magazine onto the sideboard and dismissing the chair. Beaming at the sight of her former teammate, she greeted Taylor in a loose black cardigan over a vintage Freedom Friends T-shirt and gray sweatpants.

"Hey stranger, c'mon in!"

She gave her a friendly hug, then led her inside; once the front door was shut, she dramatically waved her arm, taking in the whole of the Brownstone with a flourish.

"Welcome to Casa del Interceptros! Colt's downstairs in the infirmary; he got shot with a frickin' laser."

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"Welcome to Casa del Interceptros! Colt's downstairs in the infirmary; he got shot with a frickin' laser."

"An I reckon it hurt like hell too." Interjected colt, who was standing in a nearby doorway, leaning against the door frame. He had no shirt on, but was wearing a pair of jeans and ratty old sneakers. His chest looked whole and un-scarred, to Grim's relief. Grim remarked that he'd only bought those shoes a little while ago. How they had gotten so beaten up in just a short while was anyone's guess, really.

Colt was using a towel to dry his hair off. He dropped the towel around his neck and strolled up to Grim with an easy relaxed gait. Pressing a his right index finger to his left breast he said, "All nice'n fixed up, see?" Then kissed her on her forehead. Jack's unease about their wanton public displays of affection had taught him to be a little more discrete when in the presence of company, as well.

"Greetin's, little lady, m'name's Billy." Colt extended his hand for Talyor to shake. "Ya c'n call me that're Colt, whichever works fer you. An' yer Taylor, right? Reckon we met briefly back at yer, ah, weddin'." Colt hesitated bringing up the event, knowing what a disaster it had nearly become. "'Grats again, by the way. 'An how's Jack these days? Reckon I hope y'ain't workin'em too hard." Colt was all smiles and good humor. Apparently, his 'bath' had done him more good than just healing his wounds.

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Taylor stepped inside and pulled off the winter coat, letting it vanish into the Void once the door had shut. She smiled politely at Colt, "Ouch, but no worse for wear I see."

Tucking her hands into her jean pockets, Taylor lifted her shoulders in a delicate shrug, "Jack's fine, if busy. We both have a lot on our plate these days. He really doesn't need me to work him too hard as he manages that himself just fine. He's working at the moment."

She smiled and looked between them, "So, you need a consult on interdimensional hijinks?"

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