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[personal profile] last01standing
Title: How the Sky Looks Different from the Ground
Rating: PG
Characters: Tobias, Rachel, DeGroot and Aria
Summary: The AU where Tobias isn’t an animorph.
Disclaimer: I am not KA Applegate and plan to make no profit for this endeavor. There are parts of this chapter taken from book #23, The Pretender. No copyright infringement intended.

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How the Sky Looks Different from the Ground

I put on my best clothes, faked a phone call to the school saying I had a family emergency and left my uncle’s house for the meeting with DeGroot at just past nine in the morning. He mumbled something at me as I moved past the door but it didn’t sound anything like happy birthday was supposed to.

Happy birthday to me. There would be no presents. No cake. Just another year I’d actually survived under my belt.

Grace might have done something for me if she’d still been around. For her birthday, I’d stolen half a dozen cupcakes from a bakery and we’d sat out in the woods and swapped ghost stories as we licked the frosting off our fingers.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and stared at the floor I was going to have to book it to make the nine-fifteen bus into the city.

“Tobias!” a voice cried from somewhere across the street. “Tobias I’ve been looking all over for you! Why weren’t you in school?”


Why wasn’t she in school?

“I’m not talking to you,” I said and kept walking.

“You don’t have to talk then,” Rachel said. “Just listen.”

I stopped but didn’t look at her. The cars whizzed by on the street by my left. On my right, Mrs. Eden was coming out to get her morning paper. “All right,” Rachel said and took a deep breath. “All right here we go. You can’t trust her.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Tobias, you know they’re playing you, right?”

“Playing me?” I echoed, looking up to her. “Rich coming from you.”

“I’m sorry alright,” Rachel said. “I’m sorry I lied to you and I’m sorry you heard me talking to Cassie but I need you to put that behind you and trust me. She’s not who you think she is.”

“And who the hell is she?”

Rachel swallowed. “Your cousin, Aria. She’s not who you think she is and you can’t trust her.”

“Aria?” I repeated. “Are you following me or something? How can you possibly know about Aria?”

“I can’t tell you that,” Rachel said. “I wish I could, but I can’t and I can’t tell you why but you’ve got to watch your back. There’s something big going down and somehow you’re in the middle of it.”

I tugged my jacket closer to my body as a chill snaked its way down my spine. “Middle of what? This have something to do with your mission? I heard you talking remember. Some sort of bet I think. See if you could make me believe you actually liked me.”

“But I do like you,” Rachel said softly. There was something so honest, so genuine about her tone that I almost believed her.


“Yeah,” I said, pointing past her. “Right. I’ve got to go or I’ll miss my bus.”


“I don’t want to hear it,” I said and paid my fifty cent fare for the ride into the city.


She’s not who you think she is.

Walking into DeGroot’s offices, I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head.

She’s not who you think she is.

Fine, but no one’s who you think they are. Rachel is not the pretty blonde bimbo. Grace is not a faceless victim. The Sharing is not a family friendly fun time and I am not a wimp.

For reasons unknown to me, I kept looking over my shoulder, but there was no one following me. Why would anyone be following me anyway? What had put Chapman and Rachel on my scent?

I kept hearing voices, snatches of conversation that reminded me vaguely of those three days where I dreamed non-stop of the ocean.

A squabble of pigeons scattered up from an alley as I passed. I shoved my hands deeper into my pockets.

Aria hugged me when I entered DeGroot’s office. I stiffened in her arms. I wasn’t used to physical contact. Graces had been friendly, yeah, but she was more likely to tousle my hair than give me a hug. Aria’s hair smelled like lilacs. I thought of the foggy faceless women from my memories that was my mother and the even more amorphous notion of a father. Was this what it was like to have a family?

She’s not who you think she is.

DeGroot shook my hand and led me to his desk. DeGroot sat behind it. Aria and I sat on the opposite side. Aria squeezed my hand.

“It is an important occasion,” DeGroot said with a certain aura of grandeur. “The document I have was left for Tobias by his father albeit a different man then previously believed to be his father.”

It was my birthday. That was the special occasion. Wasn’t family supposed to remember your birthday? Why hadn’t Aria remembered?


I jerked back to reality. Aria smiled sweetly at me.

“It’s all right to be nervous, sweetie. This is a big thing.”

Tobias, you know they’re playing you, right?

“I’m okay,” I mumbled.

DeGroot shuffled the papers on his desk and cleared his throat. “Since it seems you are ready, we may proceed.”

“Just read it!” Aria snapped.

My head whipped around her in surprise. She put a hand over her mouth, adjusted her dress and said, “I’m looking forward to seeing what this is all about.”

She looked sweet, sitting there in a tasteful blue dress and he light sweater but I’d seen something in her face. Just a flicker and just for a moment but it was there.

She’s not who you think she is.

Who are you, Aria? And what the hell do you want with me?

DeGroot fumbled in his desk drawer for his glasses, all the time keeping his gaze on my cousin. When he found then, he started reading shakily.

"Dear Tobias. I am your father. You never knew me. And I never knew you. I do not know what your life has been over these many years. I hope that your mother found someone else to love. I know that all memory of me has been erased from her mind. All evidence of my time on Earth has been erased."

Aria was staring at me. “What?” I hissed, shifting in my seat.

DeGroot looked at me from under his glasses. “I said ‘All evidence of my time on Earth has been erased.’”

I hadn’t really been listening the first time but the second time around the words registered properly. “Time on Earth erased? That’s insane right?”

Aria was still staring at me but something different and cold had swept into her eyes. She glanced toward the lawyer. “Continue.”

DeGroot nodded. "I am being given this opportunity to communicate with you by the very creature who has erased my life on Earth. He has called me back to my duty, and I cannot fail.

"This will all seem very strange to you, my unknown, unseen, unmet son. But I am not one of your people. I have taken on the form of a human, but I am not human."

“Not what now?” I echoed. “This is a joke, right?”

The lawyer exchanged a look with Aria. There was something wrong with this whole thing. Who was Aria? She wasn’t my cousin. She couldn’t be. She did look like me, but that didn’t mean anything. Loads of people out there must look like me. She could be anyone. How could I check?

But why would someone plot to pull one over on someone like me. I was nobody.

“I was in a terrible war,” DeGroot read. “I did terrible things. I had to, I suppose. But I grew tired of war, so I ran away. I went and hid among the people of Earth. Among humans. While on Earth, and living as a human, I took the name Alan Fangor."

Tobias Fangor. I guess it would have been as good a name as any other except for the fact that this mysterious father was supposedly an exiled alien passing for human. It didn’t sound like he was going to rescue me from my uncle and aunt’s so it really didn’t matter. I had more pressing things to deal with.

But it seemed like it mattered to Aria. Like it mattered to DeGroot. DeGroot wasn’t even reading the letter anymore. He was staring straight at me with narrowed eyes, reciting the thing from memory.

“I took the name Alan Fangor. But my true name is Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.”

The room went silent as if expecting some cataclysmic reaction. Aria was staring at me. DeGroot was staring at me. I squirmed under their gazes. “Is that it?”

The moment was gone. The hungry glint left Aria’s eyes. DeGroot deflated.

“There's more,” the lawyer said and repeated, “But my true name is Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. And though you will never know me and we will never meet, I wanted to make sure that you knew my disappearance from your life was not by my choice. I wanted nothing more than to live out my life, loving your mother and loving you as well.”

“Elfangor,” I muttered. “He might as well have called himself Spock. What a way to skirt child support.”

Aria had withdrawn her comforting hand from mine. DeGroot seemed increasingly disinterested. Something clicked in my head. This Elfangor must have been someone they knew. Someone important.

She’s not who you think she is.

“But I was part of something larger than myself,” DeGroot read, almost mumbling now. “I had my duty. There was a great evil I had to fight. There were lives I had to try and save. Including yours and your mother's. I am from a race called Andalites. Duty is very important to us. As it is to many, many humans. I cannot say that I love you, my son, because I do not know you. But know that I wanted to love you. Know that, at least.” DeGroot folded up the letter and sat up a little straighter in his chair. “It's signed Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul, Prince.”

The walls were closing in on me. I could feel Aria’s breath on my neck. I had to get out of there. “So my dad’s still dead, right?”

“Yes,” DeGroot said, pulling off his glasses and placing them carefully on the desk. “Yes it does seem rather like that.”

I nodded. There was a clenching in my gut that I couldn’t quite explain and I thought just for a second that I could hear the ocean. I turned to Aria. “Have you talked to my uncle? I mean about me moving in with you.”

Aria brushed her hair back behind her ear. “Tobias, I would love to take you in but I was—” She hesitated just long enough for me to know she was lying. “I was called with a job offer. I’m going to spend the next year in Australia on nature shoots.”

She’s not who you think she is.

“Great,” I said, smiling tightly. “Well it’s always nice to have family. Just wish they weren’t dead or on the other side of the planet.” I snorted. “I really should go home. My uncle’s probably waiting for me.”

I turned to walk out of the room.

"Tobias," Aria said.

I stopped at the door but didn’t turn around. “Please don’t say you’re sorry.”

“I knew your father,” Aria said. “We had our differences but the universe will not see the likes of Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul again.”

“I don’t like the word crazy,” I said, not unaware of the irony, “but you’re claiming to have known an alien.”

Aria opened her mouth. Closed it again. I walked out the door.

I heard voices drifting through the office door. “Should we take him?” DeGroot said. “Make him one of us just to be safe?”

I hesitated just for a second. Aria said. “He’s a waste of a yeerk. A pathetic little dreamer. Elfangor would be ashamed. Still, I am not someone to be under-cautious. Dispose of him.”

I tried not to speed up my pace. This was something I hadn’t heard, couldn’t let them know I heard. The receptionist smiled at me. I held it together until I made it outside. The sun was shining. The clouds were billowed up high. It didn’t look like a day when anything bad could happen.

Aria was a yeerk. There was a cold knot twisting in my stomach. That was supposed to be family. My way out. But I didn’t have a way out.

She’s not who you think she is.

Rachel. She’d tried to warn me somehow. She’d known. But how? If she was a yeerk like I suspected, what possible advantage could she get from tipping me off to their game.

There was a hawk soaring on the thermals in the sky.

My father, whoever he was had fought these things. Rachel was fighting these things.

The day seemed a little brighter. Even to someone with a death sentence hanging over his head.

I stuck to the crowds as I made my way back to my house, trusting people to be enough to keep me safe. I couldn’t go to the next Sharing meeting. I couldn’t go wondering in the woods like I used to when Grace was around.

My uncle was gone when I got back to the house and I padlocked the doors and shut all the windows. No one was going to get me in here if I didn’t let them in. I wasn’t going to let anyone in. Anyone could be the enemy.

My cat strolled through the room, rubbing my leg as it past.

“Hey, Dude,” I said, stroking his fur as I sat down heavily on the couch. “It’s been a long, long day.”

« It’s about to get longer, » Dude told me with resignation.

I shot up from the couch. Please say yeerks didn’t infest my cat with intent to kill me. After all this that would just be embarrassing. “You-you-you’re my cat.”

« And you’re going to die if you don’t get out of this house in the next twenty seconds. »

“What the hell are you talki—”

« Run. » Dude said.

I started running toward the backdoor fueled by instincts I didn’t quite understand. On my left I caught a glimpse of a body lying on my uncle’s bed, neck smeared in red. I tore the back door open.

Behind me, the world exploded.

And right before everything went black, I could have sworn I heard Grace whispering in my ear. You can win.


Yeah so I might have finished this story on the bus ride back home and I might have decided to be nice to the two people actually reading and post it early. =)

And yes, I know there's still a cliffhanger but don't get too uptight, last chapter will be up on Wednesday.

6 |

(no subject)

17/3/09 17:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Fine, but no one’s who you think they are. Rachel is not the pretty blonde bimbo. Grace is not a faceless victim. The Sharing is not a family friendly fun time and I am not a wimp.
That is a fantastic line.

Oh, and I love Dude being one of the ol' gang. Is it marco? It sounds like marco.

Pleeeeeeeaase update! I am really loving this AU.

(no subject)

21/3/09 03:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
One of my favorite lines as well. =) Thanks for reading.

(no subject)

17/9/09 17:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Wow, Animorphs fic! I remember that series from when I was little...I don't think I've ever seen fanfic though.
It's really great to find a story like this, especailly since Tobias was always my favourite character, too.
So yeah, I thought I'd let you know there're more than two people reading, and I'm really enjoying this.

(no subject)

17/9/09 23:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm so glad to hear it! Animorphs fans are few and far between. I reread them all marathon style last spring and couldn't get this story out of my head. (There are a few other animorphs stories knocking aorund if you know where to look. I can point you at a few decent ones if you like.)

(no subject)

18/9/09 08:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That;d be great, I'd love to read some more's been sop long since I read animorphs, maybe IU should give them a reread...,

(no subject)

5/10/09 04:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
(I'm sorry about taking so long to get back to you here but I really fail at replying sometimes)

Four Animorphs Recs and if it floats your boat there's a SPN/Animorphs rec at the end of this post