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The House of Lucas (IC)

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The return of Mark's parents from their sudden trip to Brazil had taken Mark out of school for a couple of days, the joyful reunion of the Lucas family celebrated with hugs and kisses, home movies and board games, everything a normal family did when they were reunited after a long departure. But Mark had missed his friends at school and didn't want the trouble of moving out again, so he'd opted to keep his dorm room with Mike. An unguarded discussion of his social life had let his parents know about his new girlfriend, and Mark himself was very stoked about the chance for Alex to meet his parents. His family was perfectly normal and average outside of their cool stories, of course, but it was still an important step.

He'd made arrangements to meet Alex at his house for an afternoon picnic with the family, something his father had insisted on upon hearing whose daughter he was dating. One lazy afternoon while his mother worked in her studio and his father flipped burgers on the grill, Mark sat out on their big front lawn, watching and waiting for Alex's car. It was a good day, and by all accounts promised to be an even better one. An apple fell from the big tree he sat beneath, and he caught it neatly as he reached back behind him. The house itself was a two-story cottage, a bit old-fashioned for its time, the suburb around it a place of straight roads and white picket fences. It was, he decided, a great place to come from.

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There was a rustle of wind before Alex popped into existance on his lawn. Her parents had purchased a car for her. Unfortunately, she was still working her way through Driver's Ed and Alex wasn't one to risk it without her license. Fortunately, she was more than capable of flying concealed to all human eyes. She looked a little windblown but in a cheerful way. Knowing she'd fly, she'd put her hair into two braids so only her bangs needed a hand run through them to coax them into a sembalance of order.

In addition to the usual riot of color that her clothes were - in this case a skirt, striped tights and a cap-sleeve blouse - Alex held a vase of flowers. She'd probably picked it because there seemed to be one of each possible color but it had a whimsy to it. Alex gave Mark a cheerful smile, "Hi! I brought these for your folks."

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"Aw, they're beautiful," said Mark with a smile. "And so are you. I like that outfit a lot." He hugged her, planting a chaste kiss on her cheek. They'd done more than that, naturally, but like any teenaged guy he didn't want to be all over his girlfriend with his parents around. "Dad's out back with the grill and my mom's just finishing in her studio." He'd mentioned his mother's work in the comics industry a few times, and had a few original paintings of hers up in his room. "Let's go around the back." His hand in hers, he led the way around the plush, highly manicured lawn to the brick patio and man behind it.

Wearing a Kiss the Cook apron with a white chef's hat on, Rick Lucas looked like a man out of time. In his early sixties with a greying haircut that wouldn't have looked out of place on James Dean, he was still tall and handsome, his build showing that the author of men's adventure novels kept in shape. He looked very much like all the pictures Alex had seen from the sixties and seventies, just with the greying and thickening of age. At the sight of his son and his girlfriend, Rick gave a cheerful wave and smile, instantly giving Alex a picture of which parent her boyfriend favored. He had a deep tan, probably from his summer in the tropics.

"Hi guys! Come on over! Burgers are almost ready!" To the house, he called, "Hey honey! Our boy's girl is here!" He swept Alex up in a hug when she got close as if he'd known her for years. "Hello there, Ms. Albright! Well, look at you." He grinned, his teeth perfect, white, and straight. He did look a lot like his son. "You look just like your mother did at your age."

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Alex blushed a little at being referred to as Mark's girl but she was quick to return the hug, shifting the flowers out of the way. "Thank you, Mister Lucas. That's the nicest compliment I could ask for. She asked me to say hello for her."

When Mark's mother showed up, Alex handed the flowers to her with a slightly worried, "I hope no one's allergic. I mean, I figured it'd be safe since I know Mark's not allergic and that's usually pretty hereditary but recessive genes are funny things. Your house is lovely."

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"Oh, these are lovely," said Martha, beaming at Alex. She smelled the flowers and insisted Rick to the same, Mark's dad cheerfully pronouncing them "Super!" "Thank you," she said with a smile. "I'll go put these up in the kitchen." The big windows were open against the lovely day, so she could continue the conversation even in there.

"Mark tells me you're a mentalist?" asked Rick as he neatly flipped burgers. "I worked with the finest psychic in the world back in the Freedom League. You'll learn a lot from the Scarab. Have you had a chance to fight the Psion kids yet?"

"Daa-aad." Mark laughed. "We're not going around seeking out the kids of all your old enemies. We're supposed to be learning how to be superheroes, not how to get into fights all the time."

"Pshaw, son, you know that's what makes a superhero!" Rick grinned exuberantly. "I still remember the first time I got into a big super-brawl! And that was with a god!" He laughed. "Ah, Hades. You know he actually remembered me the next time we met? It was quite an honor, even if he was an evil so-and-so. I still have the grill from that old roadster of mine he blew up. Those were the days. I was a lot younger then, of course."

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"Yes, sir," Alex said politely to Mark's father, clasping her hands behind her back. She smiled up at him cheerily, "The second Scarab is mentoring me. It's really quite an honor. We're really very lucky to have a venue to exercise our abilities and learn from experienced individuals."

She fell silent and blinkled at the older man's exploits. Not so much from the mention of fighting gods, so much as adjusting to a household in which the super-hero antics were openly discussed. By mutual agreement in the Albright household, Alex's extra curriculars were only discussed when her mother was in a shouting mood. Her hazel eyes flicked from Mark to his father and back thoughtfully before she smiled again and added, "My grandpa says that swinging on any sort of line is for the under-forty set. After that, one should invest in a teleportor."

Of course, the contact that Alex had opend up with her mother's father was also not something she had enlightened her mother on. It really wasn't worth the fight.

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"Ah, your grandpa. I'll never forget that time he shot that apple off my head at fifty paces to keep Adamant from pulling my limbs off. Those were the days. So he still likes teleporters, eh?" Rick rubbed his square chin with his unmitted hand. "Ah, I remember those old League teleporters well." He told a remarkably detailed anecdote about one time the Freedom League's teleporters had accidentally transposed them all with their counterparts from Gender-Reversed Earth, leading to some hilarious shenanigans when Centuria and Uncle Sam next went out on patrol. Mark smiled and half-listened; though he obviously liked the story, it was obviously one he'd heard plenty of times before.

"Rick, Mark, you're going to give the girl a complex!" called Martha Lucas, who'd come out to join the family with what turned out to be the plates and glasses for their picnic. "She doesn't need to hear all about your exploits. I'm sure she gets plenty of that from our son." It was all affectionate teasing; if superhero talk bothered Martha, she probably wouldn't live with these two. "Mark, would you mind helping me with this?" A loyal son, Mark headed quickly into the kitchen to help his mother with the food, reaching down to squeeze Alex's hand as they went.

A few minutes later, they had a set picnic table laden with all the makings of an all-American barbecue; hot dogs, hamburgers, and sloppy joes abounded. It was something of a mystery, except maybe lucky genes, how these people all stayed so thin.

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Alex collected a hamburger and plenty of fixings for it. The amount of food didn't really phase her as she'd had plenty of meals with the Harrises. Mike alone could eat an astounding amount of food. She licked the ketchup off one finger as she listened to yet another of Rick Lucas's exploits and wondered if her mother had half the stories to tell. It was a little surreal certainly, but she could start to see really why Mark was the way he was.

"My grandpa is tinkering with one at the moment. He says that the teleporter at the manor is a persnickity device but worth its weight in gold when it feels like working," Alex affirmed. Her grandfather's turn of phrase was a bit more colorful, actually, but the meaning was the same, really. "I haven't really given a great deal of study to interdimensional particle physics, personally, as I'm lucky enough to be a flier."

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"She's a really great flier," said Mark, grinning at Alex before looking back and forth between his parents. "She's beautiful in the sky. You should see her in the air."

"Sounds good to me!" said Rick exuberantly. "I've got to pay a visit to that school sometime soon, see if that history teacher needs any more lectures." It didn't sound like a slip of the tongue. While Rick talked, Martha smiled indulgently and took out her sketchpad, quietly working as she ate and held up her own end of the conversation.

"Don't let them fool you," she said with a smile at Alex, "we do occasionally talk about things other than superheroing around the house. Mark's father is just happy to see Mark dating a nice girl." Mark turned unaccountably bright red at that, his ears turning color first.


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Alex blushed at the compliment and then darker red at the idea of being Mark's girl. It was true, but, still a little weird to hear pointed out. She laughed and touched the back of Mark's hand as it was his turn to blush, "I'm really proud of being able to fly. I'm not really fast, or anything, but it was something I had to work at. The other mental stuff was all a lot more natural."

She tilted her head up to smile at Mark's mom, "It doesn't bother me at all. It's a nice change. We never talk about super-hero things at my house."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"We do talk about Rick and Mark's work here a lot," admitted Martha with a smile. "But I'm used to that by now."

"Aw, Mom," said Mark, looking a little bashful. "I don't tune you out or anything, but you know I'm no good at art the way you are." He smiled at Alex. "Mom should show you her studio when she's done. She's one of the last great hand-colorists in comics." He beamed at his mother, looking terribly proud of her.

"I'm a little old-fashioned," Martha added with a laugh. "I guess that runs in the family too."

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"I don't have an artistic bone in my body, I'm afraid, although I'd be honored to see the studio." Alex glanced down at her outfit with a small smile. She loved her colors, but knew full well that her idea of 'more is better' when it came to them was not usually shared. "That must be so neat to be able to put what you imagine on a piece of paper."

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