Jump to content

Recommended Posts

January 2021 

 

The same message had gone out both electronically and mentally to the whole family - Hi, everybody. We need everyone who can make it home tonight for a family announcement. This is important; not a drill, 616. In other words, by words and the numeric code at the end, this wasn't a life-or-death immediate emergency -but it was certainly something serious. 

 

Downstairs in the living room, Holly Cline focused on the act of psionic creation while watching her stepbrother watch Daniel Tiger while sending a message out to her brother. I don't know what it is either; they're both locked down tight. But it must be something. Nana is here. Her eyes flicked over to her father, who with his eyebrows set and his arms folded across his chest, had that look that meant he wasn't talking about anything more serious than the weather. 

 

In the kitchen, Anna Cline was honestly looking better than Paige had seen her in years - she'd found a shade of blonde for her hair that wasn't quite so obviously a dye job, and her complexion had improved now that she was living somewhere that she didn't get quite so much sun. She had arrived not long after her summoning and had proceeded to pop a tater tot casserole in the oven freshly after walking in the door. It was - well, it was more grandmotherly than she usually acted. 

Link to post

"Thanks for making it tonight, Anna," Paige said, shooting a curious glance towards the oven. "I know we didn't give you much notice. And thanks for the, um, casserole?" Paige had not had any idea that Anna even knew how to cook. There was a crockpot full of tortilla soup keeping warm on the counter, but potato casserole wouldn't conflict, exactly. "You're looking very well. How are you enjoying the new place?"

Link to post

Anna had learned how to cook casseroles during her sidekick's recuperation from the events that had turned her into a sidekick in the first place - not that she was keeping those thoughts uppermost in her mind right now. "Just seemed the right thing to bring a hot dish," she said hesitantly. She took a step, fast as Richard in short bursts, looked through the kitchen door at her son, granddaughter, and - well, at Bryant - before stepping back to her daughter-in-law's side. "I've been taking care of myself up there." She worked her thumb against an obsidian ring on her left hand, then whispered, her tone completely serious, "Are the kids okay?" 

 

In the other room, Bryant (who as usual was dressed in the toddler dress clothes he loved to the point of tantruming) climbed up on his father's lap and hugged him, giving him a cheeky smile as he asked brightly, "Chip?" 

 

"Not-okay, buddy," said Richard, giving the boy a smile as he dug into the Dorito bag for him. Bryant's hands were not quite clean enough to go digging on his own. 

Link to post

"They're fine," Paige promised, sotto voce. "We're all healthy, and the kids are doing great. I've had to threaten to gag Richard to keep him from bugging Will about settling down, if you can believe that," she continued in a more normal voice. "Considering what we were doing at his age, he's certainly one to talk!" Paige laughed and poured tortilla chips into a bowl to set next to the soup. "Holly!" she called, "come and set the table please!"

 

"I can't, I'm watching Brybry!" Holly called back.

 

"I think your father can manage just fine," Paige countered. "Come on, your brother should be here soon."

 

She could hear Holly's groan from half the house away, but eventually the cupboard opened and dishes began floating out, with the teenager herself making an appearance moments later. "What's this about Mom?" she asked insistently. "Come on, you know you can just beam it into Will's head while you tell us."

 

"Just be patient a few more minutes," Paige encouraged. "We want to talk to everybody at once. Bowls and plates, please, your grandmother brought us a casserole."

 

"She brought what?" Holly blurted out, then checked herself. "I mean, awesome, Grandma!"

Link to post

Anna was pleased by Holly's praise, having always had an excellent relationship with her only granddaughter. She was a little less pleased at Bryant's delighted "Fank you Nana" and the big hug he scampered over to give her, but she kept what she was feeling off her face as she hugged the boy back and said "Anything for my little boy." 

 

The mood was - well, not quite tense around the table, but Richard and Paige both obviously had something on their mind. Anna tried to keep the mood light, and the girl distracted, by asking about her school, but Holly's answers came in the short sentences of a girl deep in her teen years. Anna and Richard didn't really have good grounds to keep her off her phone at this meal, so they let her distract herself. 

 

 

Link to post

Richard felt the subtle waves of air motion of a speedster approaching the house, and the family's mental link all bug sang with Will's slightly anxious presence as he finished his race in from the west coast. His mental response to his sister had been wordless, like the sound of an anxious guitar chord. But the sound when he arrived was a (thankfully muted) "boom", accompanied by a rush of wind. When he opened the door, a couple of bits of dead leaves made their way into the entry hall, though Will was well-trained enough by his mother that he kept the worst of it outside. 

 

Now a young man in truth, he was, if not the spitting image of his father at that age, certainly close enough that folks would take a second look. Unlike his father, he didn't need to dye away the grey, and his hair, currently about shoulder-length, was wind-swept just so. He slowly took off the sleek shades on his face and tucked them in the pocked of his windbreaker, before calmly hanging it on the coat tree. He wandered into the dining room.

 

"Hey everyone. Sorry I'm late. There was a bit storm out in the Plains, had to dodge around the Barnstormers dealing with that. Pretty sure it was some new weather-controller bad guy. They seem to love it out there. Oh, potatoes!

 

Will started piling his plate high with food. 

 

"Grandma, I didn't think you'd be out here until sometime in the spring. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see you! Just didn't realize we were having a Family Dinner."

Link to post

Paige rose from the table as Will approached the house, and was waiting by the dining room door for him. She gave him a quick looking-over for health and fitness just out of habit, then hugged him and kissed his cheek. "Don't worry about being late, sweetheart, we're just glad you could make it. You're right on time anyway, we've only just sat down."

 

She took her own seat and began cutting up Bryant's food into smaller pieces for him. It was a good distraction, it allowed her to not have to look up as she said "We wanted you all to be here tonight because we have some news. I'm sure you all know that fifteen years is an amazing run for any television show, even with a solid company like Discovery. Doing the podcast helped, and the webseries, but unfortunately our ratings have slid a little and frankly, we're running out of stories to tell."

 

Link to post

"We're -" Richard shot a look at Bryant and amended "freaking canceled. Fifteen years for that company, highest rated show on basic cable three times, we discover ancient aliens _and_ dinosaur people, and what, thrown over for a bunch of backwoods college kids with a camera in their freaking telephones. Bunch of..." He said a word in his head that it wasn't appropriate to say in front of small children. 

 

"Well you should sue them!" said Anna, hot in her defense, "don't you have a contract with them? You can't let them just boot you out the door!" 

 

"The contract says they can cancel," said Richard with a little shrug. "Those...lawyers." He really wanted to swear. "We finish production on this season, we do a grand finale multiparter, and then that's that. Everything is supposed to be wrapped by the fall." 

 

Frowning, Holly had definitely put her phone down now. "Well...what are you going to do? What are we going to do for money?" 

Link to post

William had been digging into his food with as much speed and gusto as the manners instilled by his mother allowed. His appetite was in many ways the largest in the family, due to his powers being a touch more "physical" than even his father's. When Richard clarified they'd been canceled, though, he set his utensils down with a deep frown. 

 

"Wait, you're telling me that the Home Town Hero Hunters show is edging out your ratings? But you guys actually get the heroes to talk on camera! You've done interviews! Forget the time-travel, this is, like..."

 

Will shook his head with disbelief.

 

"It's not because you didn't pick up the home-improvement show idea, is it? Because that's not even the same network! And those things are-"

 

Will stopped, closed his eyes, and went through a mental calming technique that Paige taught him shortly after he graduated high school. His powers had continued to strengthen, and the sheer level of kinetic energy his body could produce would be dangerous if one wasn't careful. In an eye-blink for Holly, Paige, and Bryant, and less than a minute to the eyes of his father and grandmother, Will opened his eyes and spoke more calmly.

 

"I know you guys have been saving, but Holly's got a point. What are your plans next? And do you need help with the finale?"

Link to post

Paige laughed softly. "We're not going to be out on the street or tapping the college funds, guys, I promise. We've been careful with our money for a long time now, and the production company isn't going out of business or anything like that. Fifteen years is a great run for any TV show," she reminded Richard again, sounding both like she was repeating something she'd said a lot and possibly reminding herself as well. "We'll probably be taking a little time to decide what we're going to do next. I've had some interesting offers to produce shows, and your father has a couple of standing offers on other shows, unless he decides to finally start up that taxi service he's always talked about..." 

 

She gave Bryant his plate, then put his fork in his hand when the little boy seemed perfectly ready to go for his casserole with his fingers. "It's not all bad news! We've still got the rest of our regular season, plus the network has agreed to give us a super-size finale with a live-tape portion. One last big investigation to go out with, and we'll bring back some of our favorite guests, have little interviews with the production team, really do it up right. It's a much better sendoff than most shows get." 

Link to post

"You'll be fine, Ma," said Richard to his mother, giving her a reassuring shrug when he saw she was tense about it. He didn't know exactly what she was up to in Wisconsin these days, but he knew she did not want to go back to being on a fixed income. Especially since she might go back to the old line of work otherwise. "We all will. It's just a bum deal is all. And you're darn right about those lousy kids with their cellphones," he added, "just because it's cheaper they think that's all that matters."  

 

"Well...okay," said Holly, shifting in her seat. "As long as we'll be okay, that's fine. Bryant, that's my drink!" The light-fingered toddler next to her had picked up her soda but hadn't managed the trick of opening the can. She snatched it away with telekinesis, prompting a big-eyed look and a question of "Soda...?" for his brother. 

 

"No soda," said Richard automatically, "and besides, we do have some big plans for the final episode. We were wondering if you all would like to be in it, for one thing, as a big farewell to the family. 

 

"The last time I asked about that, somebody said it wasn't exactly good publicity," muttered Anna, her hands folded in front of her. 

 

"Ma that was ten years ago," said Richard firmly, "and things aren't the way they used to be anyway. Not for any of us." 

Link to post

"Don't worry, Grandma, if anyone gives you trouble for being on the show, I'll talk to them."
 

Will flashed a winning smile that was all Richard, as much as he'd swear he didn't copy any of his father's mannerims. He grew more serious after that. 

 

"Of course I'll be in it. I'm guessing we'd all be masked up? I know I'm probably worse than some heroes about it but I really do prefer having a secret identity. It's helped with college, and it's helping me avoid too much hassle at my new job. Plus I haven't told my girlfriend yet."

 

Will froze immediately after speaking, his fork halfway to his mouth and eyes wide, like a deer in headlights. Only Holly, through their "sibling bond", heard the words he thought next.

 

'I've made a terrible mistake.'

Link to post

Paige's spoon dropped into her soup with a plop, and only telekinetic reflexes kept her shirt from being splattered. "You have a girlfriend?" she asked, in a tone of voice that indicated the previous topic was on indefinite hold. "For how long now? Where did you meet her? Is she from one of your writing groups?"

 

"Girls are gross," Bryant opined, shooting a look at Holly under lowered brows.

 

"That's not nice," Paige told him by rote. "We don't call people gross. Eat your soup. Does she know anything about your family?" she asked Will, sliding seamlessly back into the interrogation.

Link to post

Richard looked very interested in this bit of news, folding his hands and looking across the table at his son. "A girlfriend, eh? How does she feel about-" 

 

"Dad!" said Holly, giving her father a scandalized look. 

 

"Dickie!" said Anna firmly, a look of unaccountable relief on her face for a half-second. 

 

"Hah-hah!" said Bryant, waving cheerfully with his finger, "Daddy in trouble!" 

 

Richard gave an elaborate, long-suffering sigh, beset at every turn. "You see what it's like with you gone! This is why we need you and your ladyfriend to come visit the East Coast some time." 

 

"I just think it's nice you're seeing someone," said Anna, "you know your father was already running around with your mother when he was your age, and they turned out pretty well!" 

 

Link to post

William Cline sighed the sigh of the doomed. He set his utensils down, wiped his mouth with his napkin, and took a sip of water before he started talking. All at slower-than-even-normal speeds. His parents didn't need their telepathic bond to know he was stalling, and Holly could pick it up over their sibling bond. Will's eyes flicked over his family for a moment, before he started to speak.

 

"We've only been dating a couple of months. I really like her, and she seems to like me, but after the last breakup, I'm not in a hurry."

 

Paige and Richard remembered how things went down after Amber. Will had been in a bad mood for weeks after that relationship ended.

 

"Her name is Elizabeth, but she goes by Eliza. She knows about you in that she knows the names of my family and what our relationships are. We're not to the point I'm comfortable telling her about..."
 

Here he seemed at a loss for words, so instead he simply held up a hand and let the strange green-and-black dots of kinetic energy bubble out from his palm for a moment. He nodded toward the manifestation of his power, then snuffed it out and continued.

 

"So she also doesn't know about the show. Because that'd connect the rest of the dots. We met through mutual friends. She's actually doing a lot of technical work; sound engineering and stuff, but most days she just works the boom mics and stuff."

 

Will glanced at his father, a slightly sly grin on his face.

 

"I haven't gotten her opinion on ninjas yet. One could argue she's a bit of a ninja, what with having to be silent and unseen on set when she's working the mic..."

 

He laughed a bit at his grandmother's observations.

 

"Mom and Dad also told me all the other stuff they were getting up to in those days, Grandma. I think me taking it a bit slower works out in the end."

Link to post

"Slow is absolutely fine," Paige assured her son, coloring very faintly at the mention of what she and Richard had been up to at Will's age. "But if you're going to be getting serious with this girl, you ought to tell her about your family soon. You're on a fair number of episodes, and if she does sound she probably has a good ear." She smiled wryly. "As someone who's been in the community a long time, the last way anyone should find out about their boyfriend's heroic identity is by guessing it from television. And you're going to help us with the special, aren't you? Keeping her in the dark would be risky."

 

"He just doesn't want her to see his dorky costume," Holly chortled. "Or the ones he used to wear for the show with the brains on them."

 

Paige put her tongue in her cheek. "Ah, that's right. Holly, do you still want to be Princess Power for the show, or would you like a more grownup super name now?"

 

"Mooom!" Holly whined, looking betrayed.

Link to post

"Hah I don't think all the stuff," started Anna, before Richard's firm "Ma!", in that Jersey accent that meant he was emotional made her sigh a mother's long-suffering smile. 

 

"I'll think of something," Holly grumped, her cheeks still pink as she looked down at her dinner.  

 

"I liked the brain suit," Richard offered his son, "but it may not be the right look. And your mother's right. Whatever you think about this girl," he told Will with perfect sincerity, "if she's not somebody you can be honest with, she's not the right girl for you. But if you think she is right, bring her home to meet the family." He looked around the table and felt a sudden stab of emotion at the sight of his wife, son, daughter, mother, and...adopted son. "That's what really matters." 

Link to post

Will ran a hand through his hair at the advice his parents were offering. This was not how he'd anticipated the meal going. At all.

"I'm not trying to lie to her! Just....like, this isn't the sort of thing you just tell people on the first date. Like, Mom, Dad, Grandma, if it was just you guys, I'd probably be less worried. But Bryant's a little kid and doesn't have any powers, and Holly's still a teenager."

Only the adults heard his mental words next; Holly knew he said something but Will was good enough he could block her out. The emotional echoes that resonated would give her a hint what it was about.

'I still have nightmares at least once every couple of months of when those soldiers came for us. I can't do something that risks that, but worse.'

He continued out loud.

"Plus, if that connection's made really public, people trace it back to Claremont. And there's loads of friends I made there that I don't want to risk exposing. I'm not lying to Eliza. But trust is earned and built for something like this."

 

He looked at his family, his expression softening.

 

"Okay, when is this going to get released? If I have a timeframe I can start having conversations with her. Work toward the 'reveal'."

 

Then he looked at Holly with a slight smirk.

 

"I'm pretty sure she'll appreciate my current outfit, Holly. The glow-lines are flattering."

 

Granted it helped that having physically-channeled speedster powers kept him in tip-top physical condition...

Link to post

Paige glanced at Richard for just a moment, looking almost worried, but her smile was back in place by the time she answered Will's question. "We're scheduled to broadcast the show with its live segments in June, and we'll be teasing for up to a month before then. If you decide that you don't want to be in the show or only want to participate behind the scenes, it's okay. We aren't going to be mad at you, we just wanted you to have the opportunity because it's been such a big part of our lives all these years." 

 

A moment later, Will could hear his mom's soft mental voice in his head, a broadcast only for him. It's normal to worry about your family, baby, but the soldiers happened a long time ago. Do you want to talk to Dr. Marquez or someone else about it again? I want you to be able to feel safe. 

Link to post

Anna Cline lacked the genetic gift for telepathy that ran in her daughter-in-law's family tree, so instead she spoke aloud when she said, "You don't have to worry about them or the people who sent them, Will. Ever again." For a woman who preferred to end her sentences with an exclamation point, it was a distinctly odd thing to say, and the cool surety in her voice sounded - well, it sounded like a woman who had begun her professional criminal career around the time the Korean War was coming to an end. 

 

Richard looked at his mother, then at his youngest son, then at Holly, and said in an unusually sober tone himself. "We'll talk about this later, Ma." 

 

"...what?" asked Holly, looking around with saucer eyes. "Are you keeping secrets from me?" she demanded. "I am not a little kid anymore, you know." 

 

"Ha-ha, you're a baby!" said Bryant cheerfully, pointing at Holly. 

 

"And you're a grandpa!" Holly spat back - and suddenly, her eyes wide, she looked at her parents, hand over her mouth. I'm sorry! came through loud and clear and perfectly sincere at Bryant stared at her and exclaimed, "Wh-what? Grandpa is so crazy!" 

Link to post

When his mother said the show was releasing in June, he breathed a sigh of relief. 

 

"Okay, that gives me a bit of time. You're both right about needing to talk to her, just...I wanted a bit of breathing room."

 

His mental voice echoed back to her. 'I...probably. It's not as bad as it was, just...I think talking about Eliza being in all of this made it spike. She has no powers, just some generic self-defense classes.'

 

At his grandmother's words, Will's face went blank. Holly felt a steel wall for a moment, not even catching his emotions; Bryant would not receive what was sent.

 

Paige, Richard, and Anna would feel an enormous spike of anger and satisfaction. For an easy-going boy like Will, it was shocking. But then again, Will was the one who'd fought the fight, and nearly died. 

"Good."

 

He moved from that on to Holly's exclamation.

 

"You're not a little kid any more, squirt, but you're still my little sister. I'm allowed to be protective. It's in the Big Brother Contract. Didn't you get the Big Sister Contract for Bryant a couple years ago?"

 

Will took another bite of food and chewed thoughtfully, before looking at both of his parents, determination in his eyes.

 

"I intend to keep the helmet on, or a bigger mask, but I'd like to be on the show, even if it's just at the edges. I want to help. This is important. It's...it's family. I was there at the start. I should be there at the end."

Link to post

"Holly," Paige said very mildly, "apologize to your brother. You and I will have a talk later." The steel behind the mild tone indicated that Holly probably wouldn't have a lot of fun at this discussion, but jumping on her right away for her lapse would only make it seem larger and more important in Bryant's mind. 

 

Turning back to Will, she smiled. "Of course you should," she agreed. "SuperCrime! has been a family project since the very beginning. However much you want to participate, you'll be in it till the end, too. And maybe you can bring your young lady to see the live taping, if you like. It might keep your father from asking terrible questions about grandchildren that much longer," she teased. 

Link to post

"Sorry, Bryant," said a suitably abject-looking Holly, shooting a glance over at her brother before looking back at her mom. She certainly looked and felt sorry, which was a good start, but she was a little too old to be convincing with the sad face she shot her mother before she looked down at her dinner plate to eat. 

 

"I not Grandpa," Bryant muttered, awfully subdued for a four year old, "I _Bryant_." 

 

"I'll be on my best behavior," Richard promised his son seriously. "Dad's honor." He couldn't exactly promise on Scout's honor, anyway. 


"Don't rush to make me a great-grandma, Willy," said Anna, relaxing a little as she dug into her own casserole. "You got a long life ahead of you, and the last thing you want is get tied down too early."

Link to post

"You're trusting Dad to not make a single comment or joke about it when Eliza's around? We'll see, I guess."

 

He gave his father a skeptical look. At his grandmother's insistence, Will coughed a bit and turned red.

 

"Not a concern just yet, but duly noted, Grandma."

 

He bought time by taking a bite of his own, never mind that he was telepathic. When he'd chewed and swallowed, he continued.

 

"I'll let you know when and where she'll be there. If she is."

 

The last sentence held equal parts fear and hope.

Link to post

"Of course you are, pumpkin," Paige assured Bryant, kissing him on the forehead. No matter how weird it was when she sat down to think about it, she'd long since gotten used to a third child in their family. In all the ways that mattered, the newborn who'd been placed in her arms five years ago was her son now and they were just going to be extra careful that he got the benefits of a healthy and sane family to grow up in. "You're a very good Bryant who needs to eat his yummy casserole."

 

She turned her attention to Will. "We'll hope for the best, then," Paige told her elder son. "Hopefully she's a sensible girl who can tolerate a little of the fun sort of weirdness in her life." Eyes twinkling, she added, "Would you like a swag bag to give her? That always impressed the girls in elementary school, as I recall."

 

"Nope, he has to write her letters," Holly countered, finding her feet in the conversation again after her misstep. "It's the only way to woo an Eliiiiiizaaaaa."

 

"You should be eating your casserole too," Paige pointed out mildly. "And maybe watching Hamilton a little less often."

 

"Not possible," Holly assured her, but took a dutiful bite of casserole. The teasing died down a little bit then, but Paige wanted to know more about both Will's new job and his new girl, so he spent most of the time until dessert being quizzed on every little detail. It was a nice distraction for everyone from the uncertanties of the future.

Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...