Title: Caretaker
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Elias and Caleb Taylor.
Setting: Somewhere between “V: The Final Battle” and “V: The Series”.
Summary: The real reason why Elias gave Willie a job at the Club Creole.
Disclaimer: The characters don’t belong to me. I’m simply playing with them.
Notes: I began this while I was working on other V fics for last year’s Fandom Stocking. The story as planned has considerably more to it; I’m preoccupied with another fandom for now, but I may well return to write the rest at a later date. In any case, even as-is, I decided this fic stands alone well enough to share.



“I saw Willie again today,” Caleb Taylor remarked casually, glancing up over the edge of his newspaper.

Elias Taylor failed to acknowledge his father’s remark. His attention was fixed on the piles of papers and folders spread out before him on the desk: license applications, contracts, swatches of sample fabric… and endless invoices.

It was the twenty-third of December, but Elias was not in a holiday mood. A parade of annoying unforeseen technicalities had put the grand opening of his new restaurant, the Club Creole, more than two months behind schedule. Evidently there was no free pass on red tape, even for a fairly prominent V-Day veteran who had parlayed his modest heroics—and more significantly, his natural streetwise charisma—into a status of minor celebrity. The trouble was that by now he had milked that particular fifteen minutes of fame for just about all it was worth, and whether his money would outlast the delays was becoming an uncomfortably open question.

“I saw him at Greenvale,” Caleb persisted, a little more quietly.

The last word was enough to drag a sigh out of Elias, and he finally raised his head from the morass of legalities and details in front of him.

“You don’t need to be goin’ out there so much, Pop. You know Ben wouldn’t ever have expected it—you know the way he felt about it.”

The older man smiled thinly, stretching his legs and letting his newspaper crumple in a heap beside his armchair. “Maybe I haven’t exactly been doing it for Ben. Not completely, anyway.”

Elias gaped. “Are you gonna tell me you’ve been going all the way out to Greenvale just to see that lizard?”

“Well, he’s still got that job out there. Says he’s doin’ fine, but… it’s no good for him, you know. Nobody oughta be all alone like that—human or not.” Caleb’s expression softened. “He saved my life, Elias. I just… don’t like to see what he’s doing to his.”

“Some life,” Elias murmured, busily shuffling a few photocopies of zoning permits—although his concentration was now thoroughly broken. “If he wanted company, why isn’t he hanging around with the other Fifth column scalies? Plenty of them are doin’ okay for themselves.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Some reason, he never did seem much like he really fitted in with his own kind. I used to think they scared him a little—even the ones on our side.” Caleb smiled, but the expression turned rueful. “Besides, all those Visitor womenfolk in the fleet… and he went and fell for a local girl. Gotta make you wonder, a little.”

Elias’ first impulse was to remark that any of the Visitor females he’d seen, whether friend or foe, would probably eat Willie alive—but he held his tongue just in time, with an uneasy thought that the saying might be far too literally true. He settled for a shrug.

“So take him out dancing. Let him meet some other ‘local gals’.” He smirked at his father. “Wouldn’t hurt you any to get out of the house more either, you know.”

Caleb chuckled softly, but his expression was still somber as he shook his head. “I think that’s a few steps ahead of Willie yet. What he needs is something more useful to do, out around other people—live people. Besides, his English ain’t gonna get any better with him alone out there all the time, just talkin’ to himself…”

He hesitated. “Or to her.”

The younger man winced. He’d never known Harmony Moore as well as his father had, but in those long, hard months with the underground, he remembered the way she was always at Willie’s side—even after she saw the truth, revealed in the mottled green scales that lay beneath his mask of artificial humanoid skin. What she could have seen in that homely little lizard, with his hesitant and awkward ways, he couldn’t begin to guess. Not that Harmony had exactly been a beauty queen herself, but…

But she’d had heart, and evidently, she had given that heart to Willie. She’d believed in him, cared for him, protected him… and in the end, she had died for him.

There must have been a pretty good reason for that.

With the sigh of Atlas taking the world upon his shoulders, Elias pushed himself away from the desk.

“Okay, Pop—why don’t you tell me just what it is you’re fishin’ for, so we can argue about it straight out.”

Caleb’s smile this time was neither melancholy nor humorous, and Elias knew at that moment that his arguments were already lost.

© 2010 Jordanna Morgan