Ten Years: Psyche and Phalanx
Harris-Albright Thanksgiving 2007
Even without the the travel restrictions the Alex and Mike were under it was likely the Albright and Harris family holidays would have coincided regardless. The families were fast friends before the advent of their children's abilities. The fact that they had little option other than staying in Freedom for the holidays ensured that it was accepted tradition that they alternate hosting each other for the big events.
This year the Harris’ were hosting, Marvin had acquired a fryer and set it up in the driveway promising the gathered family and friends it would cut hours off of the onerous task thanksgiving meal preparation leaving them all much more time to socialize. Whilst the adults gathered on the lawn to chat and share the news of the day Alex and Mike were free to take their leisure with minimal interference. They sprawled in the den amid a nest of board games some of which still even retained all their pieces, “I dunno I get the feeling I felt a lot more challenge in candy land at four than at fourteen.” Mike opined as he gamely spun the spinner and counted his piece across the board only to be sent back more spaces than he’d moved forward, “Yea that seems about right.” he sighed with a small smile despite his gloomy demeanor he was clearly enjoying the time spent with his friend.
Alex grinned at him from her position across the board. “Challenge isn’t the point of candy land,” she pointed out with the unerring logic of someone who had never been challenged by Candy Land, or really most board games. “It’s fun!”
With her red pigtails in glittery bands and wearing overalls over a brightly striped turtleneck, Alex looked younger than fourteen, especially when she clapped her hands at getting to put another pink peg figure in her steadily filling car. “We are definitely missing some pegs though. If you end up pulling a wife and daughter, we might have to improvise.”
Mike shrugged and let out a short laugh, “Fun? Without math or anything?” he teased lightly, “Who are you and what have you done with Alex?” the broad shouldered teen joked and spun the spinner once more, “Well I’m flying solo so far so I have that going for me.” he acknowledged as he picked his way down the board.
When he came to a rest he smirked, “Ah taxes.” and he went to count out the requisite bills from his small pile, “I’m pretty sure the monopoly money has already been mixed in I’ll just use the shoe or something if that happens.” Mike suggested as he handed the mismatched pile to Alex and waited for her to correct his math.
Alex chuckled and dutifully adjusted the pile of cash before setting his change, plus correction, back in his piles. “Eventually, it’s just going to be a Frankenstein of all the board games together and will make sense to no one - not even me.”
Turning her gaze back to the board, Alex took her turn cheerfully, even when her luck took a turn for the worse. As she put her cash in the bank, she added, “Besides, I always have fun when we’re together - whether or not there’s math involved. Especially when you let me pick the game. I know Life isn’t one of your favorites.”
This time her grin was teasing.
Mike scoffed slightly at her contention she’d not understand the Frankengame, “Unless there is some higher dimensional physics to Uno I haven’t noticed that seems unlikely at best.” he admonished with a laugh. He watched her move her car and nodded at her misfortune, “Well you have to admit it is a bit crap.” he paused, “Pardon my language.” he excused with a slight blush, “Though you do make it alot more fun.” Mike acknowledged with a small smile.
Moving past the moment with perhaps a touch too much alacrity he moved to make his own spin and sent the plastic spinner rocketing off its spindle to ricochet off the walls in nearly upsetting the already unsteady pile of games next to him in its flight. “Uhg, sorry,” he winced as he stood to try and track down the spinner hoping he hadn’t broken it, “Need to pay more attention.” he murmured berating his lapse in control.
Alex’s smile was gentle and she held her cupped hands out together, a small crease of concentration appearing on her features as she focused. Telepathy was as easy as breathing for the young redhead, and as natural, but telekinetics took work.
Slowly the spinner stuttered into the air from where it had slipped between two games and floated back towards Alex’s waiting hands. She let out a little puff of breath, looking pleased with herself as she dropped the spinner into her cupped hands. “No harm done, Mike,” she told him kindly as she leaned forward to put the spinner down where it belonged. It stayed in place, maybe a little more lopsided than before but the game was almost ten years old now. “See?”
Letting out a heavy sigh as Alex pushed to retrieve the errant spinner Mike shrugged slightly and curled his shoulders inward his carefree demeanor vanished behind the fear of upsetting the piles of games or causing more damage in some minor movement. Glancing to the now righted spinner he met Alexs gaze and nodded, “Yea this time.” he morosely agreed and gingerly ‘spun’ the dial once more, sending in a lazy half rotation and moving his spaces. He often wished he had Alexs control and focus but every time he stopped thinking about it something like this happened.
As his already broad shoulders sagged, Alex reached out one hand to cover his, strengthening the soothing aura she projected, “Give yourself time, Mike. That’s really all you need.” She told him with unerring faith in his potential. Squeezing his fingers once, she added, “I’ve never lied to you, have I?”
Mike looked up at her and nodded, “Of course not.” he agreed, “I just,” he shook his head not verbalizing further though it didn’t take a psychic to know he wasn’t sure he’d have that time.
Present Day: Penthouse Suite, AEON Tower
Mike leaned over the counter with intense focus as he laid out the Crudités platter with care. “They’ll be here any minute Alex.” He called out a not so quiet reminder that the reports hovering around her above could wait until after the holiday. Checking the timer on the turkey a final time he stared nonplussed up at his fiance and rose into the air his ‘Kiss The Chef’ apron flapping lightly as he rose to Alex’s level arms crossed as he stared down at her. “Alex?” he asked expectantly.
She blinked once at him, finally pulled from ‘the zone’ by Mike’s body blocking one of the holographic screens flickering in the air around her. Data streamed by on the multiple displays, forgotten for the moment as her attention was diverted.
Uncurling from where she’d sat cross legged in the air, she floated over towards him with a smile, “Well, if you insist,” she said before pressing her lips against his, dutifully following his apron’s ‘instructions’. “I’m sorry, you were saying something? I was buried in the financials.”
With her arms curved around his broad shoulders, she smiled at him, “It’s nice to have you home during the day.”
Mike laughed, a low sonorous rumble in his chest, as she blinked up at him and floated over. “I suspect that may be why you bought it in the first place.” he teased as their lips parted. Tucking an arm around her waist as he pulled her gently down to the floor away from her work, “I was saying our parents will be here any moment.” he repeated with a smile and shook his head amused at her distraction. “And you’re still in your slippers.” he pointed out.
Looking down at his fiance the big man raised a brow, “Oh you noticed I was here?” he asked with a mirthful grin. Stroking the small of her back lightly he nudged her toward the bedroom, “Go get ready I have finishing touches to get on the appetizers.” he gestured at the perhaps overkill spread he’d laid out for what was really just a small family thanksgiving. “You think they’ll like it?” he asked for a moment uncertain at hosting it themselves despite now having more time resources and space than either of their parents.
“I know they’ll love it,” Alex replied with utter confidence. She left her hands on his stomach, leaning into the affectionate touch even as the buttons that shut down the various displays were depressed by telekinetic efforts. “Even if you hadn’t gone all cooking-network with your efforts.”
She pulled back, dutifully to go get changed as requested even if she’d clearly have rather lingered. No one was going to mind her slippers, after all, but it was important to Mike. Reaching up, she touched his jaw with light fingertips. “And you’re right, that’s absolutely why I picked out that apron.”
Alex floated up to press another kiss to his lips before vanishing up towards the bedroom. Stop worrying, Mike.
Mike nodded at her assurances, “I hope so.” he murmured agreement and looked off at the spread as she went to change her shoes. “I should have gotten the brussel sprouts from that farmers market.” he murmured mostly to himself despite knowing full well no sourcing was going to fix brussel sprouts but his mom had roasted them for every thanksgiving he could remember so it wasn’t like they could just skip it.
‘I know I know i just want it to be perfect.’ He reiterated once more as he tilted his head slightly zeroing in on the sound of the express elevator to their penthouse activating, ‘they’re in the elevator.’ he warned and distractedly pulled a pan of rolls from the oven forgetting the oven mit he’d insisted they needed ‘for appearances’.
“It already is,” Alex replied with a small smile, not bothering to raise her voice, as she shut the door to their bedroom and floated down to join him. She wasn’t about to pretend that he couldn’t hear her and, even if he was distracted, he’d easily pick up her thoughts, after all. Alex gave him a shining smile as she dropped into the center of the living room and padded over to open the door for their parents.
The Albright-Harris Thanksgiving had never been a fancy affair, more suited towards sweaters and tights than anything formal and this was no different. Alex opened the door as the elevator dinged, dutifully telling Mike, “They’re here, honey.” like his hearing hadn’t just given him the information. There was a level of normal that Mike still tried to cling to and Alex was nothing if not accommodating.
“Mom, Dad; hello!” She said cheerfully, offering her aging parents hugs before she turned to give the same warm embrace to Mike’s parents, “Come in!”
Dumping the rolls into a bowl and covering them to keep them warm Mike turned as their parents made their entrance. Brushing a stray hair from his forehead left a smudge of flour across his brow as he followed up with a round of careful hugs of his own, “Let me get your coats.” he offered easily and gathered them to hang in the closet by the door.
“Hope traffic wasn’t too bad?” he enquired as they welcomed their parents into the penthouse. “Mrs. Albright, Mr. Albright.” he greeted too formally earning an eyeroll from his mother, “You’re marrying their daughter I think you can manage Rebecca and Victor.” she scolded lightly as she leaned in to return his hug. He let out a small sigh at his mother’s perpetually carefree attitude as he glanced to Alex, ‘At least she didn’t say sleeping together.’ he acknowledged as they moved into the living room, “Can I get anyone a drink?”
Alex didn’t miss a beat talking to their parents but her amused peal of laughter sparkled through his thoughts as she sent him a purely mischievous smile.
Thanksgiving 2027: Caldwell Manor
Mike set the dry cleaning in the back of his car pausing for a fraction of a second as he zeroed in on a distant sound. Glancing to the clock on the dash he nodded, “I’ve got time…” and in a flash of white and gold Phalanx crossed the city.
He had of course had time for that interlude, supersonic flight tended to take the rough edges off many side trips. Nonetheless enough of them would add up. He ducked in through the door to the manor with a chagrined half smile, “Uh sorry I’m running late, traffic.” he murmured as he brushed a stray bit of rubble from his shoulder that had somehow managed not to be dislodged earlier.
“Among other things,” Alex said cheerfully from where she was overseeing some kind of game between their eldest children. “Don’t worry, you’re back in plenty of time to take over here as I need to stand up and walk for a bit. My back’s bothering me again.”
She extended slender hands for Mike to help hoist her out of the couch. “Your father’s trying to put Tim down for a nap, but Christopher and Zoe need an impartial referee or it gets a little heated in here.”
Mike lifted his petite if gravid wife to her feet with careful ease and placed a quick kiss to her forehead. He shrugged slightly at her knowing look, “Uhm Yea.” he acknowledged and leaned in to look over the game in progress, “Now kids remember.” he began earning an eye roll from Zoe, “It’s not whether you win or-” His daughter cut him off, “It’s how you play the game, yea, yea.”
She smiled at her elder brother, “And I’m going to play to win.” earning a forlorn sigh from their father.
Mike ruffled each of their hair despite perfunctory protests, “Well whatever keeps it fun for both of you.” he laughed as they did not inherit his particular brand of competition apathy. Looking back to Alex he raised a brow, “So should i poke my head in the kitchen ooorrrr…..?” he asked clearly looking for an excuse to take the ill advised action of interrupting this year's designated chef.
“You should not,” Alex countered with a serene smile and a knowing look. “Both grandmothers are finally working in harmony and you don’t need to fuss. Honestly, you should just tell them that you WANT to do the cooking next year when it comes up rather than trying to make everyone happy.”
Alex put the hands in the center of her back, trying to rub the cramp from her spine absently, “Though I am glad that you’re free this year. It’ll make it all so much easier -- Zoe!” Alex broke off to scold their middle child, “-- Don’t freeze your brother.”
“Mooooom, but he thiiinks faster. It’s just making it fair!”
Mike raised a brow slightly, “Harmony? So no repeat of the great tofurky wars of 2023?” he joked with a smile and shrugged slightly laying a hand on her back a touch of enhanced speed letting it vibrate like a massage chair. “Well it just seems to mean so much to them.” he observed and shook his head, “Besides-” Whatever he had been saying was cut off by their children's ‘antics’.
“Zoe.” he scolded as her brother unstuck from time. “She’s not wrong.” Christopher opined and looked ot his younger sibling, “Clearly we should even the playing field in our next footrace and I’ll lower the coefficient of friction under you.” he teased as he continued to jump his piece about the board despite her efforts.
“Mmmm,” Alex agreed absently, her brows creasing faintly - almost as if she were involved in a psychic conversation, but not quite. Without looking up from the board, Christopher finished his latest round of trouncing his beleaguered sibling, before pointing out prosaically, “We probably won’t be able to even finish this game if Mom continues to progress at the current rate.”
He paused and then fixed Zoe with all the superiority that an eight year old could muster. “She’s having the baby, dummy.”
“Christopher, we don’t call people dummies,” Alex chided, gently but firmly.
“Now appaaawha?” Mike began a to back up Alex and her mild scolding only to lose train of thought as their precocious sons words sunk in. There was the familiar look of panic that flitted briefly across his features as childhood cartoon images of needing to fetch hot water flashed through his mind despite having at least three decisive instances to disprove such flights of fancy.
He stared down at Alex his focus just loose enough to confirm he was eying the baby's position, “Why didn’t you say anything!” he sputtered as his own examination confirmed what Christopher had just said.
Alex scrunched her nose at Mike in displeasure as he clearly used his x-ray vision to see through her skin. “Because you fret,” she replied frankly, absently patting her husband’s arm, “And then you hover and feel awful because there’s nothing you can do. I would have told you if you hadn’t figured it out by the time we needed to leave… which will probably be right around the time the turkey’s done if I’m right.”
“Depends if Grandma takes the turkey out of the oven when it's done, or when she thinks it's done,” Christopher volunteered, unasked, to Zoe’s rolled eyes.
“Know-it-all,” Zoe teased.
She of course was not wrong. Already he was shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he tried to decide if they should just go now or if he needed to triple check the bags again to make sure nothing was forgotten. Frowning slightly he huffed, “There’s reason to Fret!” but there was no heat to the words.
He even let pass Zoe and Christopher's teasing as he looked to the kitchen and through the wall, “Well we certainly shouldn’t tell them they’ll try to rush or hold it off.” he murmured pensively and frowned slightly as his mother made another run at her ‘famous’ sugar free cranberry sauce.
“You’ll be eating hospital food,” Alex pointed out in tune with his thoughts, absently giving his arm another pat. “We can just leave now if you’d feel better about it. And no, there is zero reason to fret. Next time, maybe I just won’t tell you at all,” she teased before pausing for another contraction.
Mike smirked down at her slightly as he got his worries back under control, “No no we’ll wait.” he assured her and turned toward the kitchen teasing over his shoulder, “And you’ll be eating hospital food.” He countered as he paused in opening the door to the kitchen, “Your mom loves me and will pack me a goody bag.”