Ch 10 Dinner with the First Family

White House Dining Room
Washington D.C., USA
Wednesday May 19, 1999
Dinner had started at six in the smaller of the White House public dining rooms.  Even with almost thirty people, there were empty tables.  The meal had finished and dessert had been served.  Dave, Jess, and Will were sitting at a table near a corner of the room.  They were discussing the exploration of the other worlds.

Sue, Leslie and Edna had realized that the men would be discussing the exploration so they had chosen another table so that they could discuss more imported subjects.  They had spent the time discussing their families.  Leslie had been glad to find out that the Clarkes were as close to the Clarke and Mathews families as her family was to the Maclarens and the Macphaters.  Sue and Leslie had kept an eye on Claire and Robert who appeared oblivious to the fact that Brenda, Mary, and the Steele sisters were sitting with them.

“Claire is very taken by Robert.”  Sue observes.

Leslie nodded.  “This is the first time that I have seen him take a serious interest in a girl.  They do not seem to notice that they are not sitting alone.”

Edna laughed.  “It reminds me of when Alice and Jess first realized that they were more than friends.  Will and they had done everything together for years.  Now he was on the outside looking in.  After a month, I talked with Alice and explained what was happening to Will.  She talked with Jess and they started to include Will more, but it was not what it used to be.”  She turned her attention to the first lady.  “Sue what are you and Dave planning to do when he is no longer President?  Have you given any thought to joining us in colonizing one of the new worlds?”

Sue was startled by the suddenness of the suggestion.  She and Dave had had some discussions of what they might do when Dave was out of office, but it had mainly centered on spending a lot more time with the kids.  Of course, he would still campaign for the party, but not the day after day as he had done before.  She realized that she had been thinking about these new worlds since the meeting that afternoon.  “We had not thought about that, but the thought is appealing.”

“I guess that would be easier that the two of them crossing back and worth all the time to see each other.  Robert had wanted to join in the exploring but we told him that he could do that when he was not in school.  He will be starting at James Cook University in a couple of months.  It will be in the engineering program, we plan to introduce specialties in a number of fields that will be directed at the needs of a new world.”  Leslie said.

“I thought he was only sixteen.  Claire is in the international baccalaureate program.  She would have had a year of college by the time she graduates high school next year.  She had skipped grades twice, 2nd and 4th grades.”  Sue said.

“He is sixteen.”  Leslie replied.  “He has also skipped a grade but he just decided to take the tests last year and skip the rest of school.  He had wanted to start college this spring but Will talked him into taking the scouting course and learning about the equipment that we were developing.”

“In our family, they do not waste time when it comes to completing their studies.  My Alice was the youngest person to have earned a doctorate in Mathematics at Edinburgh until Marie came along and beat her mother by six months.”  Edna added.

“I did not know that your granddaughter Marie was a mathematician.”  Sue commented.

“Yes, she took over her mother’s position when Alice chose to spend full time on the Adjacent World work.  Alice said that Marie was the better mathematician.”

“Better than Dame Alice?  I understood that she was the best mathematician in generations.  That her presentation of her Adjacent World Theory had hurt her reputation and that is why she retired.  Well we know that she was right and I am glad she had retired for such a good reason.  But I had not known anything about Marie except that she was married to John Lawrence III who was expected one day to be the prime minister.”  Sue said.

“John could be prime minister in the future if he wanted but the only reason that he is still in Parliament is that we needed him there to interface with the government.  He and Marie are planning to colonize as soon as possible.  Not that colonizing is a reason not to be in government, but it will be a while before political boundaries catch up to the new reality.  Alice dreamed of all of us living together in homes that had rooms in each world.  It sounds possible but I am not sure where you could find a place with land on each world.  Over two thirds of Earth is water.  The chance of finding land on all five worlds would be less than half of a percent.  To have a place on each of them where you would want to live would be even more unlikely.  I have no idea how we would find such a place.”  Leslie commented.

“This world is a big place and so are the other worlds.  There will be plenty of those places.  The job will be finding the locations and especially a location that is a good location on each world.”  Edna had done a lot of thinking about the worlds that her grandchildren and great grandchildren were going to be living on.  She looked forward to their new home.

Sue looked around the room at the different people.  It felt like a family gathering.  She had missed those since they had been in the White House.  “I have learned of many amazing things occurring for your family.  I would not be surprised if you found such a place.”

Edna was watching Claire and Robert.  “Oh I believe we are seeing one of those things now.  I guess it is a little early to welcome you to the family, but that is the future I see.”

“It does look that way.”  Sue said.

Their mothers would have been surprised if they had known what Claire and Robert were doing.  Robert was passing on to Claire the abilities the he had picked up from the boys.  Using the ability of mentally communication that he had already helped her learn, he was showing her how to sense people and objects.

They sat talking but the main communications was mind to mind.  Good, you are able to sense all the agents’ guns.  Now, combine that with the ability to sense people.  Claire check on who else is carrying a gun in the building.
 There is one outside the door in the hallway.  A secret service agent is coming up the back stairs.
Robert is surprised that Claire knew he was an agent.  How do you know he is an agent?
She smiled.  You are not one to act as though you know everything.  Well the truth is that I know Agent Keller, but I can also detect his badge and the lapel pin with the star.
 Yes, that will work, but his badge is different from those in the room.
 He is the shift supervisor.  I can sense the guards at the Capital.  Robert, how did you learn to do this?
 As long as I can remember, I have had the ability to sense nearby family and friends.  Robert decided that Claire would be the ideal person to explain the abilities too.  It would also help in her training.  Yesterday, when the boys were showing what they could do with these abilities, I realized that I could follow how they did what they were doing.  I found that I too could sense people and things.  Later, I worked with them to learn their brothers’ abilities.  They were stronger with their original abilities but we all mastered the different abilities.
 Did you teach them your ability?  Claire asked.
 What ability?  He had not mentioned the sensing of the windows or the other worlds to her.
Claire could tell he was keeping something from her but she also got the impression that it was related to the whole family.  Your ability to sense and learn other abilities may not seem like much but it may be just as valuable since it is what is helping you to teach me.
I had not thought of that as a special ability.  Yes, I must have taught them since I had them sensing how we each used the abilities.  It helped in teaching them and you. 
 Yes, I realized that you were showing me how to sense what you could do but you had not realized that it was anything special.  Claire paused.  A patrol car with a police officer just drove away from the Capital on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Robert could follow where she was sensing.  Claire, see how far you can sense people with guns.  I want to try an experiment when you reach you limit.  I am going to break mental communications while you check that out.
Claire could no longer sense Robert’s thoughts.  I miss him and he is right here in front of me.  I wonder what the experiment is.  Marine guards at the marine barracks.  A police station in Anacostia.  A patrol car with two officers a little bit farther but nothing beyond that.  Let’s see if Robert can receive my thought when he has me tuned out.  Robert, I can sense a patrol car with two officers here but no further.
 I can sense them also.  You could not sense this patrol car here.
 Now, I can.  Is it because when we are mentally together like this we are working together?
 You got that right away.  Robert’s happiness at Claire having figured it out made Claire very proud.  Can you sense these guards near these planes?
 Yes, they are guarding the presidential planes at Andrews.  I can sense another patrol car with an officer getting out of it, a little further south and that is as far as I can sense.
 I now have the same range as you and mine has also increased.  He takes Claire’s hand.  The boys sit holding hands when they work together.  We found that it helps with their range.  I can sense the airport where our plane is.  Can you sense the guards at the gate?
Yes, that’s BWI.  Our plane?  Claire was surprised by the plane.
 Macphater Mining Equipment owns the plane, but mom, grandpa Ian, and my uncles Andy, Don, and Gav own the company.  Grandpa had us take the plane for Brenda and Mary’s graduation.  We are to pick up some controllers in Dallas.
 Your family makes mining equipment!  Why do you need such well-trained security people for a manufacturing plant?
 Most of the security is for the mines and the gold, silver, and uranium shipments.  Dad also handles the security for uncle Gav’s offices.  Pot of Gold handles a lot of investments besides our own.  Dad has been training…
 You family has gold, silver and uranium mines!  Claire had barely kept herself from speaking out, but the intensity of her thoughts surprised Robert who was use to all his friends knowing about MME.
 Yes, but most of what we mine is copper and iron now that we have sold the coalmines.
 How rich is your family?  Claire was used to classmates whose parents were politicians or ambassadors.  Many of their families were rich but she suspected that Robert’s family was much wealthier.

I am not sure.  It is in the billions.  Why?  He is surprised at Claire’s reaction.

 I was expecting all the stories about us would be how I have fallen for the tall, handsome boy who rescued me.  Now it will be the RICH, tall, handsome boy who rescued me.  They will believe that I am after your money.  Claire smiled to show she was kidding.  A laugh would not be appropriate for the verbal conversation they were having simultaneous with the mental conversation.

 I got paid while I was training for the wilderness exploring, but that is the first money that I have gotten asides from allowances.  All our wealth is in the company where it should be.  Well I have a house in the retreat, but it is not even furnished yet.  Mom was waiting for Brenda and Mary so that we could shop for all of that stuff at once.
You have your own house?
Yes but I live with mom and dad.  Mom convinced grandpa to build the houses early to give the extra people we were hiring something to do.
Why did your grandpa build these houses for you and your sisters?
 Not just us, each of my cousins also has a house there.  Grandma Brenda wanted to keep the family close together.  It started when Uncle Gav moved to Brisbane.
 How many houses are there?
 Twenty-eight for the grandchildren.  Mine will be the last one to be build there. 

An outside thought entered Claire and Robert’s minds.  You need to show us what you learned, little brother.  Claire, welcome to the family.

The two young lovers turned to see Robert’s sisters smiling at them.  The Steele girls could tell that something had occurred but believed it was that the twins had noticed the handholding.

Claire and Robert sat there with red faces.  Tonight, I will get the boys to help.  He communicated to his sisters.

The twins returned to their conversation with Mary and Linda.

“Mary, we are setting up university programs to study the new worlds at each of the window locations we will be using.  A big part of that will be medical.  Aunt Marge has been planning experiments to determine what types of allergic reactions people will have with the new plants and animals.”  Brenda explained.

“How do we know that we’ll have an allergic reaction at all?  Or if we do that it wouldn’t be so severe that it will kill everyone.”  Linda asked.

Her sister answers.  “Anything can be a cause of a severe allergic reaction.  There are rare cases of babies being allergic to their mother’s milk.  This would be a major study even if we only had one new world.  Four worlds will be a very, major undertaking.  I just read a paper where Dr. Gillian said that different ecologies would offer unique …”

She was interrupted as Brenda and Mary broke into laughter.  Mary Steele was startled that they had thought her comment was funny.

Brenda saw the look on Mary’s face.  She held up one finger to ask Mary to hold on a second.  The twins managed to stop laughing.  “Dr. Gillian is Aunt Marge.  Professor Margaret Farwell Gillon.  She’s Aunt Alice’s sister.  I helped her with the paper but the publication wouldn’t give credit to an undergraduate.”

Linda started laughing, followed by her sister and the twins.  Mary Steele had been quoting their Aunt to the twins.

The laughter had gotten everyone’s attention.  Brenda stood up and explained how Mary had quoted Aunt Marge to them.  There were smiles and a couple of chuckles but everyone returned to their own conversations.

“Mary, Kim and Aunt Marge aren’t the only medical experts in the family.”  Brenda says.  The plan is to set up a university with a hospital once we determine where we will be living.  We expect to be able to attract plenty of the top talent looking for the opportunity to work off Earth.”

“Top talent!  What do you want with me then?”  Mary looked upset and confused.

“Girl, you have top grades.”  Linda told her sister.

“How many of your classmates are reading medical journals?”  Brenda asked.

“Kim has helped you with your courses.  She knows what you can do.”  Mary Maclaren said.

“But she has had to help me.”  Mary Steele found it hard to believe that they thought so well of her.

“I have worked with Uncle Jess and Alyca for the past three years.  Even Alyca will ask Uncle Jess for help and she has two PhDs.  Getting help when you need it doesn’t means you are dumb, it just means that you know when to ask for help.  I suspect that you have asked for less help lately than you did at the beginning.”  Mary Steele nodded her head.  “Do you find that you and Kim are having long talks about topics that you have been studying?”  Again, Mary Steele nodded her head.  “Were you learning more in those talks than in your classes?”

Mary Steele realized what had been going on.  “Kim has been teaching me.”

Mary shook her head no.  “Have you been doing extra research on the subjects that you were discussing?  I bet that you read the paper by Aunt Marge because of something that the two of you talked about.”

“Yes.”  Mary Steele said with a smile.

“It is how mom and dad taught us to learn.  You come from an inner city environment where most people to don’t care about such things.”  Brenda stated.

“Mom had to work two or three jobs.  She got us to read books and we were to educate ourselves.  Mary and I would read and talk about what we had learned while we waited for mom to come home.”  Linda said.  “Rob and Kim have done much the same thing with me.  Is this how some families are able to do so well?”

“It helps.  Being smart also helps.  Like two young girls smart enough to sit and talk to each other about the things they read.”  Mary Maclaren said.  “When we got to Edinburgh, Aunt Alice, Uncle Jess, and Aunt Marge put us in a grad school level home learning program.  You cannot believe what it was like working with them.  I wish that I had been able to start years earlier like Alyca did.”

“That’s one of the reason that I think Aunt Alice wanted the whole family to live together.  I think that Robert is a good example of what may happen when we do.”  Brenda said with a smile towards where her brother sat on the opposite side of the table.

Linda looked over at Claire and Robert sitting over on the other side of the table.  They are still holding hands and talking, but the look in their eyes was like what she has seen in the boys’ eyes quite a number of times when they were sitting quietly and talking.  She had often thought that they were communicating with more than words.  Now that she thought about it, she could almost tell that they were communicating.  She looks at her sister.  Yes, she could tell it with them also.

Brenda saw that Linda had realized that Robert and Claire were communicating mentally.  “We will be able to teach you, as soon as we learn from Robert.”

“Teach us.”  Mary Steele asked.

“Don’t the two of you often know what the other is going to say or what they are feeling?”  Mary Maclaren asked.

Both Steele girls said “Yes” at the same time.  They looked at each other.  They had known even before she said it that their sister was going to say yes.

“When you have a large family with the ability, you learn how to spot it.  It’s just another reason why you are now a part of the family.”  Brenda smile matched that of her sister.

Kim had heard what Mary and Brenda has been discussing with the Steele girls.  She was glad that they had found a way to let them know.  She had wanted to discuss it with them for over a month.  She had become almost sure that they had the ability to communicate nonverbally.  They only unconsciously used it, but she had seen the ability grow in them as they spend more time with her family.  It is a good example that close association can help to develop one’s ability.  She could tell that it was developing between Robert and Claire.  She remembers the year that they had spent in Texas when she was a teen.  The ability to communicate with Rob had developed during that time.  It had been a shock when she had had to go back to Scotland.  They had written and talked on the phone daily but it had not been the same as being together and communicating without words.  There had been visits at the holidays.  Mom and Beth were best friends and mom could tell what had happened.  Then just as she started her first year at university, they had started to be able to feel the other emotions even across the thousands of miles.  She has a sudden thought.  She looked at Alice.  Did mother arrange that so that they could learn to communicate over a long distance?

“Beth, whose idea was it for us to live near you while mother taught at SMU?”  Kim asked her mother-in-law.

Beth felt the intensity that was behinds Kim’s asking of the question.  She took a few seconds to consider her answer.  “I believe you mother first mentioned it right after you were born.  She said that it would be good to have us really get to know each other once you were old enough.”

“Rob, I believe my mother planned to have us fall in love and get married from the time I was born.”  Kim said to her husband.

Rob looked down at his daughter who he was holding.  “Thank you Alice for choosing me for Kim.”  The baby started making happy noises.  Did she understand or is it just the tone and feelings from her father that had caused her to react?

“That sounds like Alice, she was always planning.”  Tom said.

“What was the clue that led you to this?”  Beth asks.

“I have noticed how the boys’ and Robert’s abilities have picked up since we have all been together.  I think that the more of us with abilities that are together the more our abilities develop and we also can learn each other’s abilities.  Robert can now sense people and objects just like the boys.  In addition, Jason can now sense objects and the twins can sense people.  Have you noticed how Claire and Robert have been sitting looking at each other and talking.”

“Yes, they make a nice couple.  They remind me of you and Rob or your mother and father.”  Beth said.

“And they also look like the boys when they are sitting quietly together,” said Tom.  He had spent much of his time during the past few days with his grandsons.  He had noticed how they would sit quietly together but still be communicating.  “Claire and Robert are communicating.  Just like the boys.”

They all turned and looked at the young couple.

“Yes, but they seem much more intense that the boys.”  Rob commented.  “I had taken it as just the attraction between them.”

“Yes, that’s there but there’s a whole lot more going on.”  Kim called.  “Robert!  Would you and Claire come and talk with us.”

Robert and Claire turned to look at Kim.  The both rose and came over to join the Reynolds.

“You forgot to visually communicate between yourself to agree to come over.”  Kim said to Robert and Claire.

“Thanks, we have got a lot to learn.”  Robert said.

“Was it that obvious?” asked Claire.

“I had just remarked that Robert’s and the boys’ abilities have improved in the last couple of days.  When we looked over at the two of you, you looked just like the boys do when they sit quietly and communicate though you were talking.  You have to remember to continue the verbal and physical communications; something that I am not sure the boys can do at the same time.”  Kim answered.

“They can but they had never considered the need to hide what they are doing.”  Robert said.  “Take a look at them.”

They all looked at the table with Tommy and the three Maclaren boys.  The three boys turned as one and waved at their parents while they continued to talk with Tommy.

“They are teaching Tommy to communicate non-verbally.”  Robert said.  “They are eager to teach the four of you.”

“Beth and I cannot communicate like Kim and Rob.”  Tom said.

“We are not so sure.  They have enjoyed the time that you have spent with them helping them with their abilities.  Now they want to return the favor.”  Robert said.

“You are passing on what they are communicating.”  Rob was startled by this.

“And what you are saying.  I am putting their thoughts into words.  There is a much more that would take too long to put into words.”  Robert confirmed.

“The bandwidth is wider than the spoken word.”  Tom looked at his son.  Rob nodded his head in agreement.

“Claire, what has Robert taught you?”  Kim asked.

Claire was startled that Kim realized so much of what they were doing.

Kim laughed.  “I am the mother of those three.  I have spent the last few years learning to keep ahead of them.  That means figuring things out on only a few clues.”

Claire understood what Kim meant.  She thought about when she and Robert would have little ones to watch over.  Robert’s positive reaction filled her with joy.  “He is teaching me to sense people and objects just as the boys did in helping with my rescue.  We have also been learning how to communicate.”

Kim looks at Robert.  “All things you couldn’t do a few days ago.”

“Yes, it was just like with the windows and the other worlds.”  Robert realized what he had said.  Had his dad told them?  He realized, as he looks at them that his words were not a surprise.  Then he realized who had been surprised.

“There is still a lot that we need to tell each other.”  Claire said.  “We have only known each other less than a day.”

Robert and Claire were again looking into each other’s eyes.

“Thank you for answering my questions.  It helps to understand some of the things mother had done.”  Kim said.

“What had Aunt Alice done?”  Robert asked.

“She planned on this learning of abilities from at least when I was born and probably much longer.  I need to think on this some more.  When I have it all figured out I will let you know?”

“On Monday, Marie said something similar about thinking about the windows.”  Robert remarked.

Beth laughed.  “That’s something they learned from their mother.  You two can go back to what you were doing.  We have a lot to discuss.”

Robert and Claire returned to their table.

Martha Steele was sitting with David, Kevin and Nev.  Though one might more correctly have said that Martha and David were sitting separate from Kevin and Nev.  It looked like more than one romance was blooming.  Kevin and Nev were discussing what they had learned about Secret Service training, which effectively left Martha and David alone.

“I find it hard to believe what they’re saying that the boys can do.  My grandmother would have talked of spirits and voodoo, but I left all of that behind when I left New Orleans.  Dave, what do you believe happened?”  Martha asked.

“I believed that Claire was very lucky twice today, but from what we just overheard Robert and her say, I think it was the same piece of luck.  Then again, I grew up in Thuringowa and I have known about the Macphaters all my life.”  Dave looked over at Will who is talking with the President.  “My father, his brothers, his sister, and my mother’s youngest brother, and many of my cousins work for them.  The Macphaters and the military are the two best places to work in Townsville.  Many people work for both since they’re in the reserve.  The ASAS has always had a reputation of using more than the five senses and the Macphaters and the Maclarens are the ones that you hear the most about but it’s not restricted to them.  The information that we made use of today couldn’t have come from any conventional source.  I personally asked the boys questions.  When Jason was asked how many men were in the house, he acted just as he would if we asked him how many people were in the room.  Your daughters were not surprised at what the boys did other than it being more than what they were used to.  You don’t believe your daughters?”

“I am concerned that the tuition on top of the salary, the chance to travel, and the excitement today may have led them to accept things too readily.”

“The Macphaters pay well and have excellent benefit.  What your girls are getting is beyond most that I’ve heard of, but not unusual for someone they consider family.  Take Kevin.  He is a distant cousin.  I went to school with his brother who is a nice guy but has no ambition.  All he wanted was a job and a family.  Kevin on the other hand wanted to be a pilot.  He has been fascinated by planes all his life.  To be a pilot, you need a college degree and no one in his immediate family had ever gone to college.  The Macphaters heard about it and offered to pay his way through college.  When he was close to finishing his mandatory active time in the military, he came to Ian Macphater, Leslie’s father, and told him he was ready to work for him as pay back for his college.  Ian said he would like Kevin to work for him, not so he could be paid back but because he heard that he was a good pilot as well as Kevin being family.  The Macphaters had not only paid his way through college but they had kept track of him in college and in the military.  He was family and they were watching out for him.  Ian and his children run MME with the same care for their employees.  I do not know the how of what happened today but I don’t think of voodoo and spirits when I think of the Macphaters.”  Dave stated.

Martha is amazed at the feeling and loyalty that Dave had displayed in answering her question, but she was still nervous about her daughters.  “But what about the Maclarens?”  Martha asked.  She realized she is sounding unreasonable, but it is her daughters.

“Martha, Leslie is taking control of the company and that’s what her father and brothers want.  What they’ve done well at, she and Will do better.  From what I have seen of Will’s relatives, he isn’t an exception in that family.”  Dave answered.

“Sorry to bother you with a mother’s concerns, but they are all I have.”  Martha was near tears.

Dave reached over and comforted her.  “I know how it’s to be an only parent.  When May passed away and left me with three children to raises, I don’t know what I would’ve done without my family and the Maclarens.”

Martha looks up.  “How did the Maclarens help you?”

“When May got ill, Will gave me a desk job where I could take off and be with her when she needed me.  It was over a year until she died.  When I went back to Will and said that I was ready to start flying again, he said that I needed some time with the kids and a vacation.  They were buying the Gulfstream and needed someone to be there when questions came up and to make sure that things went as they needed.  He paid for the kids and me to be there for over a month.  There was very little to do so the kids and I traveled around and got used to being a family without May.  Oh, I did get a lot of time in the flight simulator and some of it was with the kids.  We flew home with the plane.”  Rob was smiling as he remembers the time that they had.

“So your kids want to be pilots now?”  Martha says with a smile.

“Ian and Jenifer do.  Trace wants to be a doctor on an air ambulance.”

“Air ambulance?”  Martha asked.

“The Outback is a big place with homes miles apart.  Some locations only see a doctor when he flies in on his plane.”

All conversation stopped at Tommy yelled, “I can tell which hand you have it in.”  He was looking at Jason who has his two hands in fists in front of him.  They had been teaching Tommy how to detect objects.  The three Reynolds boys had smiles as big as Tommy’s.

Tommy picked one of the coins off the table and then raced over to his father.  “Dad, hide this coin in one of your hands and don’t let me see which one.”

The President took the coin and put both hands behind him.  He then brought two fists in front of him just as Jason had done.

Tommy looked mad at his dad.  “You put it on the chair behind you.”

“That is very good, Tommy.”  Jess said.  “What pocket do I have my coins in and how many of what type do I have.”

Tommy turned to Jess.  He thought for a second and a puzzled look appeared on his face.  “You have eleven coins in your left pocket but I have not seen those types of coins before.”

Jess smiled as he pulled his coins from his pocket.  “These are British coins.  Our money is different from what you have here.  Why don’t you take these as a reminder of what you have learned today.”  Jess handed Tommy the coins.

“Thank you Mr. Maclaren.”  Tommy was happy at the prize that he had gotten.  He rushed back to show his new friends.

“How did he learn to do that?” asked Dave Clarke.  He was a surprised parent not the President of the United States at the moment.

“I believe my grandsons taught him.”  Jess said.

“I believe we will have more surprises with Claire.”  Will said.  “Robert, would you and Claire come over and talk with us.”  He called to where Claire and Robert were seated two tables over.

They were rising even as Will had called.  They came over and took seats at the table.  Sue and Leslie soon joined them.  Edna went to sit with Kim.

“Mom and Dad, it is amazing.  I can tell where people and objects are.”  Claire told her parents.  “Dad, I know that you put the coin in your pocket after Tommy left, but not the pocket where you usually keep coins.  I can tell that Edna is now sitting with Kim even though I am not facing that way.  I can tell where all the people in and around the White House are and which are guards and secret service by whether or not they have guns.”

“Claire, do not assume that you know who the guards or secret service are by whether or not they have guns.”  Will looked at Claire and then Robert with a questioning look.

Robert and Claire looked at each other then turned back to the others.  “We can communicate non-verbally.”  Robert said.

“You need to get the routines to make it look like you are deciding things with facial expression.  I could tell that you had already decided before you looked at each other.”  Jess commented.  “Then again, I have been doing it for over forty years so I know what to look for.”

The Clarkes looked at each other.  Dave started to speak but Jess cuts him off.  “Claire you have seen how your parents do it.  They have had to be in the public spotlight for years and they have a very good act.”

“Yes they do.”  Claire agreed.

Sue looked at her daughter.  “How long have you known?”

“Mom, I have only known since the kidnapping when Robert communicated with me.  I have suspected for years but could not believe it.”  Claire replied.

“What will happen when the public knows?”  Dave asked.

“We will not be telling them.”  Jess replied.

“The secret service agent must have over heard.”  Dave had a very concerned look on his face.

Jess smiled.  “Our boys have done a good job of distracting him.”

The President realized that Tommy and the Reynolds boys were over asking the closest agent questions.

“Dave, I believe your family and Will’s should sit down together and have a long talk.  You all have a lot to discuss.  Many things have changed today.  I will take the rest of us and return to the Blair House.  The boys have had an exciting day and all of us could use the sleep.”  Jess got up and walked over to Mary and Brenda.  “You should be in the discussion with your family.  The rest of us are leaving.”  The girls headed over towards their parents while Jess gathered up the others and left.

White House Executive Residence
Washington D.C., USA
Wednesday May 19, 1999
They were seated around the dining room table in the Presidential family living area.  Dave was at the head of the table with Sue on his right.  Will sat next to Dave but Leslie had chosen to sit next to Sue.  One of the twins was sitting by each of their parents.  Claire was the foot of the table with Robert and Tommy.  The steward had served drinks before the President had told him that would be all for the night.  With the Secret Service agents in the hall, that left only the two families to hear what was said.

“Tommy, what we’re going to discuss is a family secret.  You are not to discuss any of this with anyone but those of us here.  It is very important that you keep this secret.  Do you understand?”  Dave asked his son.

“Do you mean about Claire and Robert will one day getting married?  Jason told me earlier when I asked about why Claire and Robert were acting so strange.  He said that we’re all family and not to tell anyone.  I told him that I knew about family secrets and not talking about them with anyone but family.  Isn’t it neat what they showed me?  They said that there was a lot more for me to learn.”  Tommy spoke without taking a breath.  He was very excited.  He turned and smiled at Robert.  “You’re going to be my brother.”

“Yes, I am.”  Robert said with a smile as big as Tommy’s.  Claire then everyone else was also smiling.

“Claire and Robert, I take it that you wish to marry.”  Dave said.

“Daddy, not until I am out of college.  I am only fourteen.  If you mean will Robert and I be married one day, then the answer is yes.”  Claire stared at her father.

He was the first to break eye contact.  His daughter had changed a lot today.  He had never seen her so forceful and sure of herself.

“Mister President.  Claire and I have a lot more to learn until we will be ready to be on our own.  Just because we have found each other does not mean it is time to marry.  We have not even kissed yet.”  His sent a thought to Claire.  I want to kiss you but I want it to be special.

Claire looked at Robert.  The happiness that she felt for this boy that she loved is apparent to all.  She returned a thought to him.  Yes, it will be.  You are such a romantic.

“Robert, you should call me Dad or Dave.”

“Yes, sir.  Only in private and it will be Dave.  There would be too much to explain if the press heard me calling you Dad.”  He looked at Sue.  “Don’t you agree, Sue?”

Claire laughed, “Leslie, Will.”  She looked at each as she called their name.

”Now we need to talk about what needs to change.”  Dave said.  “Tommy and Claire won’t be going back to school.”  He looked at Tommy who had not heard about this.  Tommy could not make up his mind if he was happy to be out of school or upset that he would not see his friends.”

“Tommy, your school was lucky today.  No one was killed.  Agent Lui was wounded.  At Claire’s school, five people died.  We cannot let you go back to school because someone may be killed if there is another attempt to kidnap you.”  Dave told his son.

“I liked Agents Alverez and Gold.  I don’t want anybody at school hurt.”  Tommy said.

“Tommy, how would you like to go to Texas and spend some time with Jason, Eric, and Jerome?”  Will asked.

“Can I?”  Tommy looked at his parents.

“I would need to go with them.  Where are they going in Texas?”  Sue was concerned.

“You would be staying at the Smith ranch to start with.  The Reynolds will be going there for the security that can be provided for them and to help with preparations.”  Will said.

“I would like to go with the boys to a ranch.”  Tommy yawned.  “I am tired.  Can I go to bed?”

Sue looked at the clock.  It was not yet his bedtime, but he looked very tired, probably all the excitement.  “Do you want me to help you get ready for bed?”

“Mommy, I am not a little baby.  I can do it myself.”  Tommy said with another yawn.

“Say good night.  I will tuck you in later.”  Sue said.

“Good night daddy, mommy, Claire, Robert, Will, Leslie, Brenda, Mary.”  Tommy slowly got up and left the room.

“I hadn’t expected him to be so willing to go to bed.  I hope he’s all right.”  Dave said.

Claire started to say something but a thought from Robert cut her off.  No, you do not need to tell them.  I caught most of what you did.  Can you show me that later?  How did you know how to do that?

Claire’s replied.  I have used that to put myself to sleep for years.  Traveling with Dad means you need to get your sleep when you can.

Robert was intrigued.  How did you know how to make someone else sleepy?

 I have noticed that when I did it sometimes that Tommy would also fall asleep.  I was thinking that he should not hear about the windows and wondered if I could make him sleepy without falling asleep.  It is like communicating but it was a feeling and not a thought.

What Claire had done made sense.  It would not probably put someone to sleep, but if you were tired, it would move a person towards sleep.

The others had not noticed that Claire and Robert were communicating.  Even with the couple of seconds when Robert had considered what Claire had done, the whole thing was less than three seconds.

Dave looked at Will.  “Why the ranch?”

“We had planned to open a window at the ranch.  I have been working with Diana White to improve security.  Of course, we’ll have to find a location that has land in the other worlds at a matching level.  With only three of us with the ability available, it will take a day or two to locate sites for setting up windows if you can provide helicopters.”  Will replied.

“How?”  Dave realized that Will was divulging a secret that he wanted to keep in the family.

“Some of us learned how to sense the other worlds.”  Will looked at Dave and Sue.  “Both of you may be able to learn the ability, but it takes a lot of opening and closing of the window to get one sensitive to each world.”  He looked to his son.  “I assume that you have shown Claire how to do it.”

Robert shook his head.  “Not yet.  We were busy with the other abilities.  It takes time when both of you are learning.  I had forgotten to mention it until Kim said something.  It may be necessary to have a window opening to each world to get the right orientation.”

“Who besides Robert can sense these other worlds?”  Sue asks.

“Will and I can only sense the two that we actually opened a window up on to.”  Leslie said.  “We set the window settings close for the other two worlds and some of us were able to detect those worlds.  That is how we know that the Fire world was very dangerous at the house.  The location was the inside of an active volcano.  Robert was the first to sense that.”

Claire and Robert were looking at each other as they did when they communicate intensely.

“I understand how to do it but I do not understand how to reference the different worlds.  We can try this again tomorrow on the way to Quantico.”  Claire said.

Leslie looked at Claire and Robert.  “That was quick, you showed her how to do detect a world.  It took us a half hour for each world.”

“Teaching without words is very fast.”  Robert said.

“Who are the other two who will be doing the search?  Mary and Brenda?”  Sue asked.

“No, Jess and Brenda.  Mary has to leave for home on Sunday.  She is needed to set up the windows there and search for a location.  We’ll be leaving later in the week to go home.  Brenda will stay in Texas for a while to help with sensing the other worlds.  Jess and Edna will return to Scotland in a week or two.”  Will answered.

“What are the possibilities for windows opening into the White House?”  Dave asked.

Will nodded for Robert to answer.

“World 2, Air, has a high plateau that is well over a thousand feet above ground level here.  That is as close as I can tell here.  When we landed, it seemed like two thousand feet above ground level.  I did not notice any lower areas when we drove to Kim’s or to the White House.”  Robert answered on the first adjacent world.

“World 3, Earth, has a high cliff at the White House.  I would say over three hundred feet high.  Between here and the Blair House is the edge of a cliff and then there is water.  I believe it is ocean.  From the airport to Kim’s and then to here, the lowest place I noticed was over a couple of hundred feet above the surface of the earth.”

“World 4, Water, has been ocean everywhere I checked since we landed.”

“World 5, Fire, has high mountains.  When we landed it was much higher than the land for Air, but it was up and down like mountains and not a flat plateau.”

“World 3 is your biggest threat for someone to invade the White House.  Any of them could be a threat if someone put a bomb through a window.  Getting to this area on another world and then finding the exact location is going to be hard.”  Robert concluded.

Claire had been following what Robert has been doing in his mind.  She had a better understanding of how to look at the other worlds, but not how to identify them.  To her, it seemed like there were more than four possibilities.  As she thought about how the number was wrong, a thought from Robert entered her mind.  There are more than four worlds.  I had not thought to look for the others.  We will look into this tomorrow.  Do not say anything about the other worlds for now.  Your dad has enough to do worrying about with four new worlds.  I do not think that the other worlds can be detected except by two minds linked like ours are.

Claire looked at her father.  He was deeply concerned about the security aspect of the situation.  She passed a question to Robert.  Can we stop a window from opening in a certain location?

Robert realized that they had not thought of that.  That is a very good idea.  We can understand more when we think in tandem.

Claire started to smile at the praise, then she remembered that they needed to hide the fact that they were communicating.  Thanks.  I agree with keeping it secret.  I look forward to a lot more of this thinking in tandem. 

Again, their mental conversation took a very small amount of time.

“We shouldn’t discount the ability of someone to find the correct location.  We need to assume the worst.”  Will commented.

Robert said, “Claire had an idea that we have not thought of.  Can we jam a window from opening onto a world?  We need to have Marie look into the possibility of a jammer.”

“It might be possible.  Whatever was causing the variation in the window may be able to shut a window down or keep it from opening.  Jess and Alyca should also look into this.”  Mary said.

Sue was not happy with the direction the discussion is going.  “It appears that it will be a while before we need to worry about an attack from another world.  What we need to worry about is where we can stay safe on this world.  Claire, Tommy and I staying with the Reynolds for the next few weeks shouldn’t be a problem.  Claire may have to wait until Dave is no longer President before she can go to college.”

By the looks on their faces, Dave could tell that Claire and Robert were devastated by the idea of being separated.  Sue and I need to talk this over.

Sue had gotten his thought.  She gave him a look.  She thought.  I want to keep her safe.

 I do too.  Dave thought.  Let us discuss this later.  Her being with Robert and his family may be the safest place that she can be.

Sue nodded in understanding then realized how well they had just communicated.  We have not shared thoughts like this before.
Dave looked down to where they were holding hands.  Yes.  I do not think that it is only that we are holding hands.

Claire noticed that her father did not agree with what her mother had said.  See passed the information to Robert.

Will also knew that it was not the time to discuss this.  The Clarkes had had one child kidnapped and the other almost kidnapped early that morning.  “Your family going to Texas may cover the activity there.  Diana will keep the reporters off the ranch, but they will hover nearby.  It won’t be unusual for helicopters to be flying around after suspected terrorists or just keeping an eye on things.”  He said

“A purloined letter ploy.”  Dave remarked.  “That would be a good way to hide the activity.”

“Sue, we need to be going and you need to check on Tommy.”  Leslie stood up.

They said their goodbyes and left.

As they exited the White House, Will noticed that Robert still had the detached look that he had had when communicating with Clair.  He was putting too much attention into it.  “Robert, can you detect any men with guns waiting for us?”  Will asked.

“You mean besides the White House guards, the large number of police cars in the area, the guards at the Blair House, and Uncle Jess and the others.  There is someone else with a gun a couple of blocks from here, but I believe he is just making a night deposit after he has closed his shop.  He has money and checks in a small bag with a zipper.  Sorry dad, I will have to stay more aware.  Claire and I were checking on how well we can look for threats while we were separated.  She was explaining what the different people with guns were doing.  Just because I can tell that someone is nearby with a gun does not mean I know whether they should be there.”  Robert replied.

“Robert, I think that you and Claire need to stay together.  The things that you are learning to do together are amazing.  We need to think of yours and Claire’s education in terms of a team education rather than of two individuals.”

“Once more of us learn these abilities, we will be working in flexible teams.  You may have given the twins too high of a royalty for helping with the mines.  Soon we will have more of us that will be able to look for minerals.”  Brenda commented.

“I think mom made a good decision.  The boys have a much longer range than Claire or I.  Our individual range is in feet.  Their range is in miles.”  Robert had deliberately understated Claire’s and his abilities.

Soon they entered the Blair House.  They headed to their rooms and changed into more comfortable clothing before joining the adults who had come over earlier.  While Leslie and Will explained what went on in their private meeting, Robert, his sisters, and the two Steele girls were seated away from the others.  After a couple of minutes, Edna joined them.

“Care to try to teach an old woman?”  She asked Robert.

“No problem.  Go ahead and bring her over.”  Robert said.

They laughed and settled into learning new abilities.

Chapter 11


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