All hell broke lose. Deanna, too stunned to react, could only sit and watch the scene unfold before her. Will, on the other hand, still reeling form the rapid fire of events that had occurred in two short days, launched into Alexis immediately. Anger and the need for answers prevailing over common sense.
"What did you do? What do you want from us? I swear, if you have done anything to hurt this family, past or present, I *WILL* see you punished for it." Will had moved around from behind Deanna, and was slowly advancing on Alexis.
Mandy reacted in a flash. She ran around her father, working her way between him and his intended target. "Daddy, no! She didn't mean it, they made her do it, please leave her alone. She turned to Alexis then, crying, not waiting for an answer. All that see had seen and felt during the transfer session suddenly made sense. "She hurt you, made you do it, it's not your fault, you --"
Alexis grabbed her by the shoulders, gently moving her out of the way. "Amanda, I've had this coming a long time. Just let it go, OK? I came here to help your family get answers, and I am going to make sure they do. Whatever happens after that, is nothing I don't deserve."
Somehow this last exchange brought Deanna back from the darkness of her own memories, from the world in which she had been living in the hours since the truth of the past had resurfaced. Her daughter was in trouble, and this time she could help. "Everyone, just stop!" Her sudden outburst silenced the room. "Mandy," she said, in a more even voice, "No one is going to do anything to anyone in this room," her gaze shifted from her daughter to her husband and back again, and then finally to Alexis. "Not until we sort this all out. Now, come and sit down. I, for one, am quite interested in hearing your story, since it seems my daughter already has."
Will, however confused by Mandy's outburst, couldn't let the matter drop. "Deanna, what story can she possibly tell that we need to hear? She's already admitted she was-"
"It's been 30 years, Will. What she was, was little more than a baby herself. We will hear her out."
Deanna's words, both those she had spoken, and those left unsaid, finally broke though his anger. This woman was a child once, a child with a family. Involved or not, she was probably as lost and alone and scared as their own little girl must have been. He silently cursed his harshness with her, and moved to sit next to his wife.
Alexis sat down on a smaller loveseat across from them, and was more than a little surprised when Mandy came to sit beside her, rather then with her parents. She shouldn't have been so surprised, she realized. Mandy Riker was, without a doubt, her mother's daughter. It seemed that their experience had bonded them somehow. Whatever it was that had so unsettled her about this girl before, she now found it comforting in a way only Deanna seemed able to match. She offered the younger girl an uneasy smile of gratitude, and began her tale.
"I was, maybe five or six when my family just spit. I don't remember the details, just that I was alone, and pretty scared. Someone found me walking around lost, said they knew someone who took care of little kids who didn't have anywhere to go.....very 'Oliver Twist,' but it is true, as far as I can remember. Unfortunately, I wound up working for a woman named Jackie Wilder." Alexis paused, reflecting. "I didn't know what I was doing was wrong back then. Hell, I never even knew what I was doing at all the first few years."
Deanna reached out and took her hand, her since of compassion for that lost little girl outweighing all else. "What happened, Lexie? Just tell us."
"Jackie would bring in kids, my age, a little younger.....she said they'd been hurt, abused, horrible things. She wanted me to make them forget. So," she looked down at her hands, "that's what I did. I made them forget, and Jackie and the others made them disappear. She said she was protecting them, sending them to better homes. It was years before I figured out she was lying to me, but I never knew what really happened, until now...."
Realization began to dawn in Deanna's mind. "You're saying she used you to telepathically alter people's memories? You never said anything about being telepathic....although, in six years I suppose I should have figured it out."
Alexis squirmed uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, I should have mentioned it, but the truth is I never really had a name for it, and what I did know scared me to death. I only stayed with them because it gave me a place to eat and sleep as long as I did what I was told."
Will felt like a total idiot. Sure he'd reacted to protect his family, but the poor kid wasn't even in control of the situation. But at least now, if these people did have something to do with his daughter's disappearance and aftermath, now he had a name of someone he could really go after. It helped, a little. "And you're sure, or you think you are, that these were the people involved in our case?"
"I'm sure of it....Amanda found a news clipping. Her name was in it....for me and anyone who knows her, that's all the proof needed. The hard part is figuring out what she did with your daughter."
Deanna looked up with saddened eyes. "Lexie, even if what you say is true....my little girl has been dead for thirty years now."
Alexis looked up at her then, startled. "No, Deanna, you don't understand. That's impossible."