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Avenger Assembled

We Rise Together (IC)

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The morning after Valentine's Day found Jack Faretti standing in a room where he'd never thought to be, making plans to deal with a creature he'd never thought to see. "I don't see why we need windows in here at all," he said, looking crossly around at the apartment room they were turning into a nursery. "We need something defensive in here. The steel shutters are nice and all, but they're not as tough as the reinforced walls." He rapped on the plaster, which was just right for a nice coat of blue. "We could cover the windows," he suggested, "and take the opportunity of putting additional defenses in here. And maybe a bookshelf," he added. "Right over there, with lots of little kid books." If he can read at all.

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Taylor rolled her eyes at him, dropping her hands on what remained of her waist as she cocked her hip to one side. "Nothing says little boy nursery like wards on the walls and metal plates bolted over the windows. Jack..."

She trailed off and went up to him, slipping an arm around his waist and tucking her head against his shoulder, "The steel shutters are plenty protection and we can paint them to look less grim. So, blue or some sort of nuetral color? There were all these themes but I don't think I really want to do like Noah's Arc." She frowned and added in an aside, "Really, I don't know how that became a children's thing in the first place. It's a rather frightening tale, actually."

She shook her head and turned to look up at him, "It should definately have a rocker. Every nursery has a rocker.

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"Rockers are good," agreed Jack. "They let you...spend time with the baby, I guess." It sounded like he was doing his best to sound engaged about something he didn't understand, at least to his own ears. Running his hands up and down the wall, he said, "I don't think we need to give him any religious inclinations at the start. How about, I don't know, GI Joe or something? That was a good show."

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Taylor grinned at him with the advantage of having at least been to children's stores and having babysat her nephews and nieces. "I think he'll be a little young for that for a bit, honey. They don't do GI Joe nurseries. Or mutant turtles either. I think you need to think more along the lines of trains or bears or alphabet letters."

She folded her hands over her stomach, lacing them together as she watched her husband prowl around the room like the predator he was. Taylor sighed as Jack eyed the windows again and volunteered, "What about a jungle? We could paint the walls cream and then do a dark green carpet with a few rugs. Lots of stuffed animals?"

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"A jungle, eh?" Jack nodded at that, admitting, "I suppose growing up in a fortress isn't the healthiest way for any child to live. Maybe stuffed animals in that corner, a bookshelf over there..." He'd been insisting on the bookshelf, and whether or not she meant it, the look Taylor gave him at that prompted him to say, "Kids need books. My folks used to...really try and read to me. Maybe he'll take to it better than I did. After all, he's got the good genes for it." He gave her a little smile at that, pulling himself out of the corner where he'd trapped himself to walk to her side. "And he won't just live in here. I mean, he's got any dimension in the cosmos he can visit, right?"

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"Any dimension we'd like to visit," Taylor affirmed, stepping into his arms until her stomach bumped against him. She tilted her head back up to look at him and admitted, "I was a total bookworm as a child, unsurprisingly. Maybe he'll end up with a healthy middle ground, enjoys reading but doesn't refuse to leave his room."

She locked her arms around his waist and agreed, "We could put a rocker next to the bookshelf or a big comfy chair. Like a little corner over there."

Taylor nodded her head to the spot he'd indicated, "Maybe do a fairytale thing. You know, castles, knights and all that."

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He put his arms around her too, tentatively resting his hand on the bulge of her tummy. "A middle ground," he echoed. "That'd be good. The best kids are supposed to be a blending of both parents, right?" He smiled carefully. "You'll teach him how to read, I'll teach him...how to play sports, or something." Truthfully, Jack couldn't think of a lot of things he knew that would be helpful for a little kid to know. "Give him pictures of some place far away from here, that's what he really needs," he said in response to her thoughts about the castle and knights. "He's going to need to use his imagination early on and well."

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Taylor rested her hand over his, bowing her head slightly, "To hide everything you mean. So many secrets. What mommy and daddy do at night. Where we live. Who we really are."

And what... The words remained unspoken but the sigh was eloquent enough. Firming her spine, Taylor forced herself not to hunch her shoulders and she determindly turned her face back to the walls of the room, her chin tilted stubbornly. One step at a time, she reminded herself firmly, one obstacle.

"Actually, that's not a bad idea. It's not a traditional baby things but it might be neat. I have so many things from over the years in the pocket. Souviniers really, but we could get some nice framed photographs of places around the world and hang those on the walls along with the artifacts I have." She paused, "Well, none of the dangerous ones, of course, just the more kitchy things.

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Jack couldn't think of anything in his personal collection that he'd want to be around a little kid, that was for certain. "As long as he knows that we love him and that we want him to be happy, he'll know enough about us," Jack offered quietly. "That's all a kid really needs. That, and a way to..." He thought for a moment and said, half-smiling, "So, I hear magic runs in families. Should I expect lots of arcane blasts if I'm late with his bottle? I guess we need to think about his magic education too."

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"Considering how well you take one of my full power blasts, you have little to worry about in that regard. We'll have to pay hazard pay to the babysitter, though," Taylor teased but her eyes had softened and the lines of tension had vanished from around her mouth.

She shifted slightly, pressing her hands into the center of her back as she stretched and answered the question, "An aptitude for magic is possible but I'm more worried he'll inherit my phasing. Do you think I should ward the nursery against that or is that too overprotective?"

It was perhaps not the best question to ask a perspective father who had been complaining about the steel shutters not being enough.

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"No, I think that's a great idea," said Jack immediately, tightening his hug for just a moment. "And...and something holy as well," he admitted. "I can show you ways to do that. Things that I'll be able to pass, but any hostile vampire will be chased out." He caught her look and added, "Yes, I know you know more magic than I ever will, but I do have some vampire secrets." He grinned wryly.

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"Oooh, vampire secrets. If I ask real nice, do I get to learn the secret handshake too?" Taylor teased him, lacing her fingers together behind his back after she stopped protesting. Taylor leaned in to press a lingering kiss on the pale column of his throat. "I do like learning new things."

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"We're learning a lot of new things these days," said Jack reflectively. "New wards. New spells. New words." He bent down and kissed her. "Like Mom and Dad. I never...I've been watching those Discovery Channel shows on babies." He laid his hand on her heart, admitting, "That's about the best education I can get. Not a lot of people want me following their kids around."

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Her heartbeat thrummed steadily under his fingertips and Taylor covered his cool hand with her own, trapping it there for a moment. Her smile was soft, dimples flexing in her cheeks, "Jack, you'll do fine. There's books, you know, about becoming a parent. And my mom and dad will be able to help, at least with the baby-end if not the metaphysical heritage he may or may not inherit. We'll just take it one step at a time."

She reached up and stroked his cheek, her smile widening into a playful grin, "Speaking of steps, what about a name? Any thoughts? Family traditions? Outright vetos?"

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Nothing to do with me. Maybe in reaction to that impulse, Jack said, still smiling, "Jack Jr? It's got a nice ring to it, you have to admit." He thought for a minute, then said, "Something Chinese too, I guess, but you'd know more about that than I would. Jack Chun Faretti?" he suggested. "It has a certain ring to it. We can call him JC."

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"Hmm... as long as we call him JC or Jace and not Junior." Taylor said after a moment of thought, rolling the name around in her mind.

She wrinkled her nose at him, "So will you be teaching the baby super secret vampire languages or just English and Cantonese?"

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Jack blinked, taken aback. "Uh, I hadn't really thought about that," he admitted. He rested his hand there over her heart, letting her hold him there as she'd held him to so many places in life. "I suppose I'll probably want to teach him Vampiric, just for safety reasons. And it'll be good to learn Cantonese, too." He'd conflated Cantonese and Chinese in the past and learned to regret it. "The more places he can fit in, the better."

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"I hope he gets your eyes," Taylor said suddenly. It was such a human desire, when there were so many other traits for Taylor to worry about the baby inheriting. For the moment, however, she let herself indulge in playing the time honored game of trying to decide which features would mesh the best. She smiled helplessly at him and admitted, "I've always thought you had such stunning eyes."

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"And your smile," Jack added, unable to resist the sudden image of a tiny baby with miniature vampire fangs. It wasn't all deflection, anyway; Taylor really was beautiful when she smiled. "You have a beautiful smile." He reached down and stroked her face. "And your mother's personality," he added teasingly. "So we can stay on our toes."

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She laughed at that, dimples flashing in both cheeks, "More than on our toes, I'd say. Mom's a spitfire."

Taylor shook her head and looked up at him, her eyes still amused, "So are we painting this room the old fashioned way or do I get to use magic for my half?"

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"Let's do it the old-fashioned way," Jack suggested. "Though I'm open to persuasion otherwise if you've got a really cool paint spell." He grinned. "Never let it be said I'm not open to what you want." For his part, he walked over to the closet where he'd stored a bucket of good old-fashioned blue paint when they'd first started decorating the room.

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"No, no really cool paint spell. You know me, most of my knowledge is for things like blowing holes in moving objects," Taylor returned his grin, and pulled the drop cloth for the floor from the Void. It had a few suspicious looking brown spots as it had probably been used in the past for some sort of super hero clean up. Of the bloody variety. But it was absorbant and would do well to catch the drips on the ground. After spreading it around and down on the ground she looked around expectantly. "Don't you use tape for something? I think everytime my mom painted, she taped off things like light switches. I've never actually done this before."

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"I don't do a lot of my own decorating," Jack admitted. "I mean, I had people bring in a lot of this stuff," he said with a general gesture towards the apartment. "But I guess this is important enough to do ourselves." He ducked quickly into the bedroom, coming up with some of the masking tape they kept in the utility box near the bed. "I guess this'll do the trick?"

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