The characters belong to Tribune and Roddenberry-Kirshner, among
others. So far only the story belongs to me.
Thicker Than Blood
notes: This, my so far one and only third-season fic, was in
response to a challenge posted on the PS fanfiction board by Lyta in
March of 2000. The challenge was as follows: Write a story with the
following included 1) a Renee/Sandoval romance; 2) Liam feeling a tad
jealous; 3) a part where Sandy has to explain his interest in Ms.
Palmer to Da'an; 4) a shakespearean quote; 5) Jonathan Doors; 6) a
reference to any movie nominated for Best Picture in this year's
by Estirose (Angel Island)
I am supposed to be a professional. Calm, prepared, an epitome of
coolness. So, what has happened to me?
Or rather, why in all things did this have to happen to me? Why *him*?
Why Sandoval? Why all that I despise? Am I that desperate? Because he
certainly doesn't *act* accessible.
And yet, I seem to have an interest in him which exceeds the bounds as
either the Doors International CEO or a Liberation operative. Jonathan
is going to have a fit. A dozen fits. But I can't help myself.
And I suspect Ronald Sandoval, Protector and Attaché to Zo'or, might be
having similar problems.
* * *
It had started about two weeks ago. Dealing with the Taelons is not my
favorite thing to do, but I'm a pretty darn good actress, if I say so
myself. Doors International had just completed another adaptation of
Taelon tech, and as usual, the Taelons were on hand to trumpet the
newest thing they'd done for humanity, followed by their pet guards.
Yes, I call Liam a 'pet' too... he's put up with a lot of abuse from
Da'an but he refuses to get away. It's not like Da'an doesn't know the
truth about his protector.
And we had a party afterwards! Nothing like a wine and dine with the
Taelons. They're popular, we want to make friends and influence people.
Or was that influence friends and make people? I'm not too sure
nowadays. Of course, the Taelons don't eat, and their protectors don't
get to do much in the way of eating either. Not that I'm going to feel
too sorry for Liam; he deserves it. As soon as he stops thinking of
Sandoval as his 'father' rather than just a gene donor, the better
things will be for him. Plus, we'd not have to worry about Liam running
around donating blood to save Sandoval's life.
But I'm not getting to the point here. Of course, Doors was at the
dinner, as was I, sitting at the same table as Da'an and Zo'or. We got
to eat, drink, and be merry, or at least look like we were being merry.
Actually, the dinner itself was excellent, it was the company that left
much to be desired.
I hate excusing myself from the front table in order to powder my nose,
but it finally got to the point where I had to do so. Liam, fortunately
for him, was out of my way. Unfortunately, Sandoval was not. He looked
at me cooly and greeted me. "Ms. Palmer."
Just as cooly, I responded, "Agent Sandoval."
Then I pushed past him and headed to the little girl's room. The stop
at the restroom was, unfortunately, relatively brief. I managed to
check on a little 'project' that doesn't really belong to Doors
International and that I'd get arrested for if Sandoval knew about.
Come to think of it, Liam might be a little annoyed at not being let in
as well. Too bad.
I ran into Sandoval again on the way back to my chair. He wasn't
keeping a direct eye on Zo'or; instead, some burly agent was doing the
job of guarding the Taelon. "Ms. Palmer," he greeted me again. "Did you
run into some difficulty?"
Yes, I know I took longer than was expected, but I couldn't tell
Sandoval what had held me up. "I got called while I was in the
restroom, Agent Sandoval," I answered. "It was an important matter
relating to Doors International business that couldn't wait for the
dinner to end."
Well, it was a phone call, just not *to* me. "I understand. It was just
that we were getting... concerned. I was also hoping to invite you to
"Dinner? Why?" I blurted out, forgetting I was supposed to like the
"Zo'or is trying to put a more... human... face on his dealings with
Doors International. He has instructed me to discuss the current
relationship between Doors International and the Taelons. I felt that
dinner would be most appropriate for this conversation."
I wondered if Zo'or had actually said that, or if this was another one
of Sandoval's schemes. We're pretty certain Sandoval has free will, but
what he's doing with it is a good question. His sudden invitation for
dinner had me suspicious. What he planning to use Doors International?
If that was his idea, well, too bad. I wasn't going to let him use us.
"Certainly I would be more than happy to discuss the business
relationship with the Taelons. We're always glad to keep things steady
between ourselves and our Taelon partners."
He nodded as if that was the expected response. "Then, if you are
amenable to dinner on Sunday night at seven, I will make reservations
and provide you with transportation there."
With that, he left. I growled inwardly, knowing that Sandoval had
probably already had the reservations and arrangements made. I was
trapped being kind to the traitor. Forcing a smile, I managed to slip
back into my seat and finish the dinner.
* * *
"So, what were you and Sandoval talking about last night?" the
Liberation's favorite toddler asked me as he walked arrogantly into my
office at Doors International.
"He wants to 'discuss the current relationship between the Taelons and
Doors International'," I said, folding my arms. "That's all."
"You sure about that?" Liam asked doubtfully.
"The Taelons don't suspect Doors International of being in league with
the Resistance... what's left of it, anyway," I said, noting with
pleasure the flicker of guilt in Liam's eyes. It was his idea to give
Da'an a look at the Liberation, and Da'an who ultimately betrayed what
we'd rebuilt. No, I don't feel any sympathy for Liam, not after what
"And that's all?"
I was suddenly looking forward to my dinner with Sandoval. "Well, I'm
having dinner with Sandoval on Sunday."
I wish I had a picture of his expression when I said that. Too bad I
didn't have any recorders running right that moment.
* * *
Now, if I'd been only half as amused when I'd actually been at the
dinner with Sandoval, maybe I wouldn't be in my current state. But it's
hard to be amused when you're with Sandoval, and I didn't think my
usual calming techniques, like imagining him naked, would apply.
Besides, who wants to think of a naked Sandoval?
Okay, I guess I'm not that far gone. I'm attracted to him, but not in
*that* way. Thank goodness. I mean, he's not bad to look at, but I
can't imagine hitting the bed with him.
Thankfully, Sandoval was courteous in his own, remote way. He was
acting in such a way that I could genuinely not tell what was up with
him, or even whether he was working on his own agenda or that of the
Taelons. That meant the whole dinner could be him feeling me out on
whatever he was up to, or he could actually be playing the puppy dog
for the Taelons.
Whatever he was up to, I had to play the courteous,
ever-eager-to-please-the-Taelons CEO. I mean, I know better than to
give my true sympathies over in public. And especially when that public
I should mention here that I was able to deflect the fancy ride and
instead come in my own car. My flair for cars is well-known, and I
suspect that's why Sandoval wasn't more insistent about getting me a
ride. Instead, I met him at the restaurant, a fancy Italian place. I
wasn't beyond letting the Taelons or Sandoval pay the bill, though.
Sandoval met me just outside the restaurant, closing that watch of his
that he's so fond of. Given what I've been told about the species that
makes up Liam's non-human part, I'm glad Liam hasn't adopted that
habit. If you watch the two together, it's painfully obvious that Liam
has picked up some of Sandoval's habits, though I don't know if it's
because Liam is so devoted to his 'father', or if he's just picked them
up unconsciously from Sandoval's personality and memories.
"Ms. Palmer," he greeted me, the normal way he greets everybody.
"Agent Sandoval," I reply, courteously. He nods, and opens the door to
the restaurant. We get a few discreet stares; after all, the Companion
Protector to Zo'or and the CEO of DI aren't people you see in person
every day, even at this restaurant. Still, we are able to get a table
quickly, and that table is relatively isolated. Hey, I'm not worried;
Sandoval's a 'widower', and he's not likely to hit upon me.
I wish I remember all the conversation that I had with Sandoval that
evening. Some of it was trite, some of it tantalizing tidbits, some of
it relatively useful information. Problem was, Sandoval had some sort
of anti-recording device, and so I have no recordings and must rely on
my fragile human memory.
Some of it I remember really well.
The dinner was a garlic chicken fettucine alfredo, probably the best
I've ever tasted. Sandoval was dining on some sort of upscale lasagna.
As I was savoring the taste of the combination of pasta, sauce, and
chicken, Sandoval spoke up. "Ms. Palmer, Zo'or wishes me to convey his
appreciation of Doors International's work. He also expressed some
concern as to the loyalty of your workers. Have you done what we asked
in replacing those workers?"
I inwardly took a deep breath. "I don't think you have to worry about
our loyalty, Agent Sandoval. Doors has seen the error of his ways; my
loyalties have always been clear. Many of our employees who don't like
the idea of working with the Taelons have been encouraged to move on to
other jobs, of course with recommendations from Doors International to
make sure they don't have a bad opinion of *us*. We've seen the
benefits of working with the Taelons, and of course are always anxious
to work more with them. Potential employees know who they're going to
be working for; we don't get many Liberation sympathizers applying, not
with our new image."
There. I'm not lying. Everything I've said can be certified as true.
It's just that which of my loyalties has been clear to whom makes
"Very well, Ms. Palmer. Now, you've been working on some
The negotiations of that particular deal aren't extremely important,
except maybe executives with extreme nearsightedness. What happened
during our unofficial negotiations was, heaven help me, I enjoyed it.
Sandoval is a shrewd negotiator, just like I am. Sometimes I think he's
in the wrong field.
I think that I enjoyed the challenge, actually. I wanted to do it
again, and not just to annoy dear old Liam. Whatever I despise about
Sandoval, there are some things that are enjoyable about him.
And why not? Sandoval, in many ways, is in the same position that I am,
on opposite sides of this war. Sometimes, you've got to admit,
opposites *do* attract.
* * *
I got my first indication that something was going on when Sandoval
sought me out again. I mean, there isn't *that* much business that
Doors International does with the Taelons, not enough to justify the
time we were spending together. The first was a lunch invitation, the
second time he actually showed up at my office!
And, to top it all off, Sandoval insisted that this was Companion
business when anybody could see through him! Augur tells me of
Sandoval's chasing of a woman named Maiya, a Liberation member.
Sandoval was apparently very transparent when he was investigating the
I'm amazed that the Taelons, and Zo'or in particular, haven't noticed
this aberration on behalf of his implant. Unless... unless I've been
less cautious than I thought about my Liberation sympathies. Although
if this is a plan, only Zo'or and Sandoval know about it. Liam told me
that Da'an doesn't know.
Actually, that was pretty darn cute when he told me. Liam, well, he
sometimes *does* act his age. He swept into my office (thank goodness I
check it for bugs, the toddler's pretty darn lax about checking these
things) and demanded - yes, demanded - to know what was going on with
Sandoval. He was acting pissy, like his mother hadn't fed him his
Of course, Liam's lack of maturity (though he is awfully darn mature,
considering his true age) is not what I wanted to mention. It's what he
told me after he got through pouting after the lack of attention from
Apparently, Sandoval's behavior earned him a remark from Da'an....
* * *
Liam had gone to the Mothership as part of his duties as Da'an's
protector, among other things. It seems his shuttle's in need of a
tune-up, why am I not surprised? But the tune-up had been completed
when Liam chanced to practically walk into Da'an's questioning of
Sandoval. Thank goodness he stopped short, or I'd never have heard this
"Agent Sandoval," Da'an said, in his calm, detached tone. "I must speak
Yeah, like an Implant would refuse a Taelon. "Yes, Da'an?" Sandoval
replied, in the courteous, respectful voice he always uses when he
wants to be polite.
"You have been visiting Ms. Palmer several times in the past week. Is
there something regarding Doors International that I should know about?"
"No, Da'an," Sandoval replied, still in that same courteous manner.
"Zo'or wishes me to stay in good relations with Doors International. It
does necessitate paying attention and coordinating with their senior
management from time to time."
Cool cat, that one. "Very well, Agent Sandoval. I trust I will be
notified if anything involves me."
"Of course, Da'an."
I don't know if Da'an was convinced, since Liam didn't tell me, but at
least somebody noticed. Besides Liam, that is.
* * *
Of course, Liam and Da'an weren't the only ones who noticed Sandoval's
frequent attentions. I'd notified Doors as a matter of course about
Sandoval's visits. It was, however, a total surprise when he called me
in to talk about the matter.
Doors keeps pretty busy nowadays, running the network of cells that he
very, very wisely didn't tell Liam about. Ma'el's ship in Peru is where
he keeps his office nowadays; fortunately, it was fairly easy to claim
Doors International business at the refinery.
I slipped into the tunnels leading to Ma'el's ship and was shortly in
Jonathan's office in a chamber just outside the ship. He motioned for
me to close the door, which meant that it was important business. Once
I had done that and settled down in one of his chairs, he looked up and
got right to the point. "I'm concerned about the amount of attention
I nodded. "It's got me concerned as well," I acknowledged. "It's not
unlike him to keep a close eye on things. I've beefed up security in
the office, and I've had to plead not available to at least one of his
calls. I don't know what he's got planned, but I don't like it."
"Good. I don't have to remind you of Sandoval's background. Any other
"Liam's having problems because his 'daddy' is paying attention to me
rather than to him."
Doors shook his head. "Someday he's going to really screw things up."
"He's already screwed things up, Jonathan," I replied angrily. "All he
makes is a really useful figurehead." Okay, and a fairly useful
experiment, maybe. There's a Doors International project that I'd love
to have Liam in on; he'd *really* have nightmares about 'seeing dead
"And this way, he doesn't pay attention to what's going on *here*,
which is the main point. Still, see if you can rally the Liberation
leaders - what's *left* of them that is - and see if they'll appoint a
"I've got it. And about Sandoval?"
"Just be careful. I'd hate to have to lose you, too."
Doors occasionally scares the heck out of me, you know that? He really
would dump me if I fell in love with Sandoval. It calls to mind the
random quote of the day that I read before disembarking in Peru "This
is most strange, that she, that even but now was your best object, the
argument of your praise, balm of your age, most best, most dearest,
should in this trice of time commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
so many folds of favor."
I hated 'King Lear' in college. But I do remember it well; the passage
is right at the beginning, after Cordelia refuses to flatter her
father. Doors isn't in the same situation as Lear, but I can see him
dropping me like a hot potato if this turns out to be more than it is.
And I don't blame him.
* * *
With Doors' warning firmly in mind, I finished up my supposed business
at the platform, as well as catching myself up on Liberation activities
there. I don't know how I did it, though; my mind was busy analyzing
Sandoval and trying to figure out what he wanted, and whether it was a
good idea to respond to his advances.
Problem was, I was afraid that my response might become genuine, or
that Doors might take it as genuine. Jonathan's a rich man; he's not
beyond killing me if he thinks I might betray him. But, as I remind
himself, he's the best businessman I know.
So, I'll have to be careful, needless to say. Let Sandoval think I
might be useful to him; he's not the only natural actor in this war.
I'd let the tyke get jealous all he wants, for I intended to make this
work. It's not the first time I've outmaneuvered someone.
* * *
With my plan of action together, I was all ready for Sandoval, or so I
thought. Trouble was, I didn't plan things out as thoroughly as I
could. It was a fatal error, and one that I will surely pay for in the
long run. I started my plan by inviting Sandoval to dinner. Let him
know I'm feeling him out so he won't be suspicious when it turns out
that I'm feeling him out. Maybe even get a clue to what he's up to.
To my surprise, Sandoval accepted. Without any 'I will have to check
this with Zo'or' or any such nonsense, even! He accepted without
comment, and next thing I knew, I had scheduled a little private
working dinner with the head of the Companion Protectors.
Needless to say, Sandoval and I probed each other for what seemed like
hours at a french restaurant as exclusive as the one that Sandoval had
taken me to originally. Keeping up with him was quite challenging,
quite refreshing, and a nice change from work. Well, my Doors
International work, anyway. Responding to his comments with comments of
my own was exciting, especially when I had to keep my mask on.
By the end of the evening, I wanted to see more of him. I wanted to
hear what he'd say, and what he'd challenge me with. Sandoval is smart,
dangerous, hard to keep track of. It was what made me attracted to him.
That was my downfall.
* * *
Now, I can't help thinking of Sandoval. It's too bad that Liam didn't
inherit his wits in the package that Ha'gel gave him. If he had, we
wouldn't be in this bind, and I'd not be worrying about Doors'
perception of my date. (Or maybe I would; Doors wouldn't like Liam
Liam tells me that Zo'or is this close to noticing Sandoval's behavior.
This is dangerous, both for Ron, and for me. But I can't tell him that
directly. We both still have to have our masks in place, and pretend
like nothing has happened, that there is no attraction between us.
Heaven knows, I can't talk to anyone about this. Liam and Augur
wouldn't understand, Doors would be furious, as would any other
Liberation member, and I can't talk to anyone else without revealing
too much. So, now I must hide my feelings, hide them from anyone.
Thankfully, I'm very good at hiding.
Earth: Final Conflict fanfic