This story takes place after my last fanfic "Choices", so if you haven't read that and you want to know what happened to Maggie, you'll have to read it. But this story stands on its own OK, so reading the other one isn't required to understand this one. This could be considered as having spoilers for Exodus and beyond.
Also, much thanks to Karebear for beta reading the first few sections of this and telling me if I was on the right track! ;-)
As Quinn lay on the ground, he thought back to something Professor Maximillian Arturo had once said: "The first causality of sliding is dignity." Sliding didn't afford one the luxury of graceful landings, but this had to be one of Quinn's worst. Such thoughts ran through Quinn's mind as he became aware of a cold, wet sensation seeping through his clothes. "Just perfect," he muttered.
When Quinn opened his eyes, he was greeted by the wide, impish grin of Wade Welles. "Greg Louganis you are not. I'd have to give that dive about a .05--but only for the effort," she laughed as she and the tall African American man by her side extended their hands and hauled Quinn out of a rather substantial mud puddle. Quinn winced as he put a hand to the back of his head and pulled it away covered in mud.
Rembrandt Brown shook his head and tried to wipe the tears of laughter from his eyes. "Man, you looked like a crab scuttling across a red hot frying pan, thrashing around in the air like that!" Rembrandt said, silently thanking himself that *he* had been the first one out of the vortex. That way, no one else had seen his reaction to the sudden fall, which had been almost a carbon copy of Quinn's, minus the mud puddle. He circled Quinn and sighed. "Well, I'd have to say those clothes are history," he said, observing the solid cake of mud that extended from the top of Quinn's head all the way to the back of his ankles.
Wade picked up a handful of leaves and did her best to scrape some of the mud off of Quinn's back, but all she managed to do was smear it around. She dropped the leaves and took a quick glance around Golden Gate Park. She was glad Quinn had adjusted Rickman's timer to allow them to land in San Francisco all the time. It was comforting to be in familiar surroundings, and if she wasn't mistaken, there would be a small building containing public restrooms not far from here. She started off in that direction.
"Wade, where are you going?" Rembrant called after her, rubbing his neck, which was starting to ache from his own landing.
"There should be a couple of restrooms close by. Some running water and some paper towels will help Quinn get cleaned up a lot more than some old leaves will," she answered, turning to wait for the two men.
Quinn caught up with Wade. "Check the timer. How much time do we have?" Unfortunately, Quinn had also had to adjust the timer so it counted down to their window of opportunity again. Doing so would maybe increase their odds of getting home. At least he hoped it would.
Wade pulled the small black object out of her pocket and checked it. "3 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes. Just enough time to get all that mud off of you," she answered, grinning up at him.
The three of them walked along quietly. It was early in the morning, so the park was deserted. They arrived at the small building containing the restrooms in a few minutes. Quinn shed his jacket and handed it to Wade.
"I don't think there's any saving this. Just pitch it," he instructed her. He looked quizzically at the restroom doors, both of which were unmarked. "Which one is the men's room?" he asked them.
"I dunno. Guess it doesn't matter if no one is in there. There's only one way to find out," Rembrandt said. He pushed open the door. It was pitch black inside. "Helloooo? Anyone in here?" he asked, although it seemed absurd to be asking that, since the lights were off. All they heard was Rembrandt's voice echoing off the walls. "That answers that," Rembrandt concluded as he flipped on the lights. "After you," he said, holding the door and indicating Quinn.
Quinn shifted his feet and looked uneasily at Wade. She rolled her eyes and said, "All right, all right. I'll wait outside. I don't recall you being so modest before. I mean, it's nothing I haven't seen already. After all, we *did* land on a world where there were no clothes, remember?"
"Yeah, and it's an experience I don't care to relive unless I have to," Quinn said with a laugh, giving her a gentle shove away from the door.
Wade rolled her eyes again, and headed for a trash can near a park bench while Quinn and Rembrandt entered the restrooms. Before Wade tossed the jacket in the trash can, she glanced at down at it's contents and noticed a newspaper. She fished it out of the can before dropping the jacket inside.
Wade unfolded the paper and gasped as she read the headline on the front page. She sprinted back to the restrooms. She had to tell Quinn and Rembrandt before it was too late.