Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Heritage

They Have To Take You In (IC)

Recommended Posts

Sunday, June 21st, 7:05 pm. Southbound on the Garden State Parkway

As Colt expertly wove his Stellar Cycle through weekend traffic, Lynn sat behind him, arms around his chest, her helmeted head resting on his broad shoulder. She was excited, proud and nervous, and a dozen other emotions chased themselves around her belly.

But more than anything else, she was scared. Maybe even terrified. It had been over four years since she'd been home to see her parents, and in that time she'd become more than human, lived a whole lifetime and had her heart broken more than once.

Will they like him? Will he like them? Will he still love me when he sees the craphole where I came from?

She'd been quieter today than Colt had ever seen her, barely saying more than a sentence or two, sometimes barely above a whisper.

Lynn squeezed her lover tighter and prayed.

Share this post


Link to post

Mother always said, 'ya cain't be sure'a girl likes ya 'till she takes ya ta meet'er parents. Well, that're she takes ya'ta bed. But if'n ya get both, she's'a keeper.' Colt thought to himself as he sped down the highway. He felt Grim squeeze him as he passed a car a little close for comfort. I reckon she was damn right 'bout that.

She'd been quieter today than Colt had ever seen her, barely saying more than a sentence or two, sometimes barely above a whisper.

Their house had been eerily quiet that morning, with Jack out on patrol, and Grim not doing the talking, Colt was forced to pick up the slack. Needless to say, he'd run out of things to start conversations with pretty quickly.

Colt vowed to be on his best behavior today. He'd never brought a girl home to his mother. He'd always been too ashamed of the ones he'd spent time with. He knew that for Grim to even suggest this trip was a huge deal. If she was anything like him (and he knew she was), she'd suggested he meet her parents because she was intensely proud of him.

'An' if'n yer th' one't makes th' trip, rather'n them comin' ta yer house fer dinner'er sommat, I reckon things is serious!' Colt remember his mother saying. I sure hope she was right 'bout that too. Figures I finally meet'a girl I c'n bring home'ta ma'n I go'n find meself off'n 'nother dimension...

Lynn squeezed her lover tighter and prayed.

"I reckon yer squeezin' a mite tight there, babe." Colt turned his head and smiled at Grim through his goggles. "Y'all wanna loosen up'a bit? I might just pass out if'n ya keep't up."

Share this post


Link to post

"I reckon yer squeezin' a mite tight there, babe." Colt turned his head and smiled at Grim through his goggles. "Y'all wanna loosen up'a bit? I might just pass out if'n ya keep't up."

"Oh, I'm sorry, hon!" Lynn released her loving death grip and made an odd sort of moaning sound. "Ohhhh, this is gonna be tough....really tough." She didn't say another word for the rest of the drive.

Using the directions she'd given him from Google Maps, the cowboy was able to find Delilah Terrace with little difficulty; as Grim had mentioned, it was a trailer park directly under the flightpath of Atlantic City International less than a mile away, and while it was not the busiest airport in the world, there was considerable noise.

Lynn mutely pointed at her parent's trailer, an odd little structure with several non-standard features, including solar panels, a wide variety of antennae and a wind gauge on the roof. A wheelchair ramp led to the front door, but Lynn stepped to once side behind a large evergreen bush, beckoning Colt to join her. She seemed to be having a little trouble breathing.

"I just...I just need a minute. Oh God."

Before his eyes, his girlfriend began to change; it was still clearly Lynn, but not a version he'd ever seen before. Her hair grew down to her shoulders, brown and slightly curly, and there were subtle changes to her the shape of her chin, cheeks and eyes, becoming less elfin. And there were scars, lots of small ones, especially around the eyes and forehead, and the bridge of her nose had clearly been broken. Even her posture was different: closed off, leaning slightly forward, left hand tightly gripping her right bicep. She could barely even make eye contact with Colt as she took his hand and lead him up the ramp.

"Okay...let's do this..."

Somehow, as she knocked on the door, she looked much younger and much older.

"Ma, Pop, we're here!"

Share this post


Link to post

As they pulled up to the house, Colt dismounted the motorcycle with practiced ease. He retrieved his favorite floppy cowboy hat from the compartment where it was stored. He also stowed his goggles, and laboriously, his guns while he was at it. He even went as far removing his gun belts. "The things I do for love..." He winked at Grim, playfully.

"I just...I just need a minute. Oh God."

"Aw, naw honey, what's wron-" Colt stopped dead as the Grimalkin he knew changed into a completely different one. It still messed with his head when she did the whole shape shifting thing in front of him. It was easier for him to accept the changes that were most unlike her, like changing into pixies and such. But when she simply adjusted her height, or something, it made part of him uncomfortable. It reminded him that she wasn't really human, which made him sad.

But this... This made him nearly freak. This was the Grim he knew, but it wasn't. This Grim had scars and pains and worries and the weight of the world on her shoulders. A weight he would have given anything to be able to lift.

Before he knew what was happening, and before he had a chance to cope with the changes, she was dragging him to their front door. And it did take some dragging, as Colt was not ready to move, yet.

After she knocked and announced their presence, he leaned in close to her ear, "What's all'a this? Where did them scars come from? What did ya do?" he hissed. Colt suddenly got a feeling of dread as he heard muffled footsteps behind the door.

Share this post


Link to post

"What's all'a this? Where did them scars come from? What did ya do?"

Lynn leaned in close and and in a dull voice whispered into Colt's ear, "I lived here."

The door opened, and a striking woman in her early fifties stood in the doorway; she had long dark hair and blue eyes that were so pale they were almost gray, like a wolf's. She wore a white long-sleeved shirt, narrow cut black jeans and socks, and her arms were crossed tightly across her chest. A white streak, starting at her temple, shot through her hair, and her face, though beautiful, was as expressive as stone.

"You're late, Sheri."

"I know, ma." Lynn could barely raise her eyes above her mother waist.

"And your hair needs brushing."

"I know."

Her mother stepped back, allowing her daughter to enter, then her eyes fell upon Colt with the full weight of disapproval. She made no move to block him, but gave no indication he was welcome, either. Suddenly a warm masculine voice boomed from inside the trailer.

"Sheri, baby! C'mere, ya little rat monkey!"

"Hiya, pop!"

Inside, the trailer was cramped but surprisingly cozy; low bookshelves lined the walls, crammed near to bursting with a wide variety of tomes. What little wall space there was was hung with Japanese pen and ink drawings of natural scenes, mountains and waterfalls mostly. Several abstract mobiles hung from the ceiling, and it looked like a very nice computer set-up was wedged in one corner. The smell of matzo ball soup, potato pancakes cooked in olive oil and savory briskest wafted from the kitchen area. An iPod hooked to an excellent pair of speakers was playing the Velvet Underground.

Lynn herself had wrapped herself around a man in a wheelchair who wore a set of New Jersey Devils sweats; he wore a trim beard and had his long salt-and-pepper hair pulled back in a ponytail. Though his face suggested he was around the same age as his wife, there was a light in his eyes that Colt recognized.

"Oww! Holy sh##, honey, have you been workin' out? You're killin' me here!"

Lynn laughed and brushed the hair out of her eyes, and for a moment the Lynn Colt knew was back again. "Sorry, sorry...it's just so good to see you!"

"You too, Sher, you too."

Lynn's mom moved briskly into the kitchen area to tend to dinner, while her father looked over his daughter's shoulder, attempting to get a better look at the handsome stranger.

"Honey, you gonna introduce me to your friend?"

"Oh, sorry, right!"

Untangling herself from her father, Lynn scampered back to Colt's side and grabbed his arm.

"Daddy, I want you to meet Billy Reynolds, aka Colt. Colt, this is my father, Harold Epstein."

"Call me 'Butch', everybody does." Butch offered him a firm handshake.

"And in the kitchenette is my mom, Elaine."

Elaine looked up from the meal, stiffly raised a wooden spoon in greeting, and then returned to her work. Butch rolled backwards and indicated the couch with a casual wave of his arm.

"Sit, sit, sit!"

Share this post


Link to post

Lynn leaned in close and and in a dull voice whispered into Colt's ear, "I lived here."

"Now wait just a second, what does th-" The door opened, and Colt froze. He stood upright at the door, and watched as Grim's mother barely acknowledged him. That ain't a good sign...

Colt soldiered on. Once, Grim's mother gave him a slight recognition, even if it wasn't acceptance, he tipped his hat to her. "Ma'am," he greeted her.

Finally, after what felt like running a gauntlet, Colt entered the trailer home. It was cozy. It was no bigger than the house he had spent most of his life in. Though compared to their mansion-like brownstone... Colt removed his hat completely at the door as a sign of respect, and held it in his hand.

After the grilling that her mother gave her in way of greeting, he was relieved to hear the much warmer tone coming from her father.

Though, admittedly, some of the things he said made Colt a little suspicious of his sanity, which said quite a lot, given his own speech patterns.

Colt liked him instantly.

When Colt saw Grim hugging her father, he knew he had the Grim he loved back. For the first time since their conversation at the door, Colt's lips cracked into a smile, and he couldn't help but give a soft chuckle that the antics of father and daughter. A very very sharp pang echoed somewhere in his chest at the back of his heart, and he felt a lump rise into his throat. The smile quickly faded.

When he was introduced, he moved forward to shake her father's hand. He met the strong grip with one of his own, honed by holding a firearm steady for multiple years. "Well I reckon it's a pleasure ta meet'cha, Mr. Ep-uhh-Butch." Colt sniffled a little, his nose picking up a musky scent that wasn't coming from the kitchen. Marijuana? He sniffled more deeply this time, Yep, there ain't no mistakin' that scent. Man's been lightin' up somethin' powerful, way it sticks ta him. Not wanting to seem strange in front of her father, Colt gave another long deep breath through his nose. He glanced up at Grim's mother and returned the spoon-wave with a hand wave of his own. "Mrs. Epstein, that there brisket yer cookin' smells a might good if'n I may say." Colt complimented.

How in'a hell these two lovebirds ever met's beyond me. He wondered.

When commanded to sit, Colt did as he was told. He eased gingerly into the seat, but relaxed fully once he was seated. Hat on his lap, he spoke up once more. "Well, thank y'all fer invitin' me over. I reckon it was mighty nice'a y'all."

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, thank y'all fer invitin' me over. I reckon it was mighty nice'a y'all."

From the kitchen area, Elaine Epstein spoke, her voice rather flat.

"Technically we didn't invite you; Sheri said she had some important things to discuss, and she wanted us to meet you. We agreed." She turned off the stove and started carrying dishes over to the small foldout table next to the kitchenette. "I hope you like the brisket, Colt; it's my mother's recipe. Sheri, can you help me with the food"

"Sure, ma."

While Lynn joined her mother in setting out the meal, Butch leaned over to whisper in the cowboy's ear. "Don't mind Lainey; it just takes her a while to get used to people, y'know? Plus with her medication..." He wiggled his hand back and forth and grimaced, then rolled over to a small dorm fridge just outside the kitchen area. "You wanna beer, Colt? We've got Blue Moon, Sam Adams and Corona."

Now that she was working with her mother, Colt could see Lynn's body language shifting back to the timid, hesitant behavior he'd seen earlier. Her hands actually shook as she laid out the plates and utensils; at one point she dropped a fork, something Colt had never seen her do before.

Share this post


Link to post

"I hope you like the brisket, Colt; it's my mother's recipe. Sheri, can you help me with the food"

"Oh I don't doubt I will, Mrs. Epstein. Ain't nothin' in'a like Ma's home cookin'." Colt declared happily. Another sudden sharp pang hit him. Damnit He thought to himself. I been here fer months now and this ain't bothered me yet. Why now? Just cuz'm seein'a fam'ly enjoyin' one'n'other's company?

While Lynn joined her mother in setting out the meal, Butch leaned over to whisper in the cowboy's ear. "Don't mind Lainey; it just takes her a while to get used to people, y'know? Plus with her medication..." He wiggled his hand back and forth and grimaced, then rolled over to a small dorm fridge just outside the kitchen area. "You wanna beer, Colt? We've got Blue Moon, Sam Adams and Corona."

Colt nodded at the declaration that this treatment was nothing out of the ordinary. When asked if he wanted a beer, Colt took a second to look over Butch's face. Colt liked him. He sounded like a good man, and at least part of him was a joker. Also, with the scent of pot on him, it was a reasonable assumption that the man couldn't be too serious. Wheelchair or not, Medicinal Marijuana was not allowed in the state of New Jersey. Not yet, anyway. Colt decided now was as good a time as any to try and break the ice.

"Well, seein's how, 'I need to wash the taste of weed and hooker spit out of my mouth,' ain't no way'ta make'a first impression," Colt began, clearly quoting the episode of the popular TV show Family Guy rather than using his own words, which was further emphasized by the fact that he dropped his western accent for more of a Rhode Island one. "I reckon I'll take'a Blue Moon, sure." Colt put a large smile on his face to show that he was joking. If he'd missed his guess, he could be in for one awkward moment, but if he was right, Butch would get a kick out of this.

Now that she was working with her mother, Colt could see Lynn's body language shifting back to the timid, hesitant behavior he'd seen earlier. Her hands actually shook as she laid out the plates and utensils; at one point she dropped a fork, something Colt had never seen her do before.

Not waiting to receive his beer, Colt hopped up from the couch and quickly took the dish from Grim. He laid it on the table on one of the hot plates set out. Then he bent over to pick up the fork. "Here y'are," He offered it back to Grim. "Y'all let me know if'n ya need some help over'n that there kitchen." As he placed the fork back in Grim's hand, he fixed her with a very level gaze. She knew that look. He used it on her every time she got upset and came to him to put things right. His eyes told her things would be fine, "Relax," they siad, "I'm here."

Share this post


Link to post

"I reckon I'll take'a Blue Moon, sure."

Butch laughed and nodded as he got the Family Guy reference. "Friggin' sweet!" he replied in his best Peter Griffin as he fetched two beers and an orange from the mini-fridge. "Hey, I'll join you in one of those!" He produced a large pocketknife from the pocket of his sweatpants, and was about to cut open the orange right on top of the small appliance before his wife yelled at him.

"Butch, for God's sake, use the cutting board! Honestly!"

The wheelchair-bound man snuck Colt a 'Jeez Louise!' look, then deftly scooted past his wife and daughter and began preparing the orange slices for the Blue Moon, reaching up to the counter to use the board.

"Here y'are."

"Y'all let me know if'n ya need some help over'n that there kitchen."

Lynn tucked her head into the crook of Colt's shoulder and made a small groan, then she smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, we can use the help."

In short order, the small foldout table was set with a fairly impressive traditional Jewish family meal; the brisket and potato pancakes smelled wonderful, and there was a big crusty challah loaf as well. Once every was seated, with Butched rolled up to the end of the table, all the Epsteins bowed their heads as Elaine said a prayer.

"Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech ha-olam, sheh-ha-kol nih'yeh bid'varo."

"Amen"

"Let's eat."

The food was even better tasting than it looked, though Butch insisted on slathering his brisket with barbecue sauce. As the meal was consumed, the family seemed to find old rhythms, each member passing food to the other without even having to ask, based on a look, nod or a soft grunt. Lynn's mother spent a good amount of the meal giving Colt a very thought looking over; her gaze was steady, but not malicious, almost clinical. Butch and Lynn seemed to be sharing some secret joke, and were clearly trying to hold back laughter.

Around the time folks where enjoying seconds, Elaine raised her water to lips and spoke cooly over the glass.

"So, 'Colt', what exactly do you do for a living? I don't suppose there's much call for cowpokes in Freedom City."

"Mom!"

Share this post


Link to post

"Now, now," Colt hushed his girlfriend with a hand motion, "I reckon it's alright. They're entitled'n all. I am'a guest'n all, so's I should answer, ain't that right?" Grim knew what Colt was getting at instantly. He looked at her pointedly, for her agreement. When she nodded her approval, he answered, "I'ma Super Hero, ma'am." He told her plainly. "I'm part'a them Interceptors y'all been hearin' 'bout. 'Long wit'a Shapeshifter named Grimalkin," Colt spared her a subtle, sideways look, "'An'a Swordsman: Jack'a all Blades."

Colt leveled Grim's mother with a confident gaze. He'd been on his best behavior since they'd arrived. He'd shown their family the utmost respect. He'd given them no reason to think he might be lying. His expression almost dared Grim's parents to object.

At the look of shock on her mother's face he added, "I reckon it's mostly pro bono, really, but'I do get'a stipend fer't."

Share this post


Link to post

"I'ma Super Hero, ma'am." He told her plainly. "I'm part'a them Interceptors y'all been hearin' 'bout. 'Long wit'a Shapeshifter named Grimalkin," Colt spared her a subtle, sideways look, "'An'a Swordsman: Jack'a all Blades."

Elaine Epstein dropped her glass, and it bounced on the carpeting, the water soaking into the pile; her face showed more expression than it had all night. For his part, Butch nearly chocked on a mouthful of brisket before Lynn quickly got up and expertly gave him the Heimlich maneuver, catching the hunk of meat in a napkin she just happened to be holding.

Lynn shook her head as she quickly disposed of the brisket in the garbage can in the kitchenette. "Damn it, I knew we shoulda waited until after dinner! You guys okay? Can you breathe, pop?"

Butch feebly nodded as he rolled away from the table, still gasping for air but at least his face was no longer beet red. Elaine was turning her head from side to side, eyes squeezed shut as she tried to process everything.

Lynn stood up and started to pace in the small space. "Look, I wanted you guys to know this about me, about my life." She indicated Colt with a wave of her hand. "Our life. We do important work, and we're making a difference!"

Now mostly recovered, Bitch pointed repeatedly at the young man his daughter brought home. "I knew it, I knew I recognized you! From the news, when you were defending the hospital from what, those alien things a few months back!" He shook his head in disbelief. "Wow; that was some messed-up sh## right there. Unbelievable."

Lynn nodded vigorously,a huge grin on her face. "I know, right? There were tons of them, but I took out a bunch of the flying ones!"

"How."

"Hmm?" The changeling stopped and turned to her mother, still sitting at the table staring at her plate, as though she was trying to burn a hole through it.

"How is this possible? What happened to you?" Those pale eyes swiveled over to glare at her daughter. "Something happened to you, didn't it? There was a chemical spill, or you were stuck by radioactive lighting, right?"

Lynn shook her head, confused and concerned. "Mom, that doesn't even make any sense-"

"And now you've come back here to show all us little people how much better you are then the rest of us, eh?" Mrs Epstein stood up, and her chair fell backwards as she spread her arms wide, a mocking rictus grin bisecting her face. "The new and improved Sheri Epstein, the talk of Delilah Terrace! Won't the neighbors be thrilled!"

"No, ma, it's not like that!"

Butch swiftly approached his, an arm outstretched. "Honey, don't be like this; I hate to see you like this!" He gestured towards Lynn, who'd crumpled sobbing on the floor. "Our daughter came back home to share this with us, Lainey! Can't you be happy for her?"

Share this post


Link to post

That...Ain't's good's I'd hoped ti could'a gone. Colt thought to himself after the chocking incident. But then for a few seconds it seemed things were okay. Once Butch recovered, he seemed almost happy about it. Colt gave a nod when mentioned the hospital. A dark day he'd rather forget, but a victory hard won, and certainly one that had been celebrated.

"How."

"Hmm?"

"How is this possible? What happened to you? Something happened to you, didn't it? There was a chemical spill, or you were stuck by radioactive lighting, right?"

"Mom, that doesn't even make any sense-"

"And now you've come back here to show all us little people how much better you are then the rest of us, eh? The new and improved Sheri Epstein, the talk of Delilah Terrace! Won't the neighbors be thrilled!"

"No, ma, it's not like that!"

"Honey, don't be like this; I hate to see you like this!" He gestured towards Lynn, who'd crumpled sobbing on the floor. "Our daughter came back home to share this with us, Lainey! Can't you be happy for her?"

By the time Butch's hand gesture was complete, Colt was already at Grim's side, comforting her. He let her g et a good few seconds of crying in while Butch and Lainey argued. He rubbed her back and still they argued, growing louder, and louder. It was only making her worse...Colt looked up. His face was an inexpressive block of stone.

"Butch, Lainey," it was the first time he'd called her that. To him, they were no longer Grim's parents, they were just two angry people having a fight that needed to be stopped. At least that's what their actions told him. No parents could truly act like this, could they? Was this what his father had been like? Is this why he had left, rather than staying to raise him, because he couldn't spend a few minutes in the same room with family without arguing? Colt decided to handle the aggressive one first. "Wit' all due respect, I know'm a guest here'n all, but...stop this. please! He alsmost begged. If it were anyone else, Colt would have blown his stack by now. But yelling would only exacerbate things, and he had enough respect to know better. "Yer makin'er cry." Colt looked down at the sobbing Grimalkin in his arms. An expressions finally falling over his face: One of deep sadness...and then determination.

"Please, I cain't stand seein'er cry." Colt reached up and grabbed a napkin from the table for Grim, knowing she'd be hard pressed to conjure one after what had just happened. "Y'all said ya didn't invite me. An y'all should know, I wasn't all that keen on comin', neither. I told Grim't I wasn't sure t'was such'a good idea. But she insisted. She wanted this, badly." Colt continued to comfort Grim as he made his speech. He held her hand that wasn't using the napkin. "Far's I'm concerend, Grim here's the bravest girl'a know. I fer one'd rather be back on top'a that there hospital roof'n do what she's done." Colt hardened his expression for the final push. "Grim came here'ta put'er trust'n y'all. What happens? Y'all respond by throwin't in'er face!"

"If'n I'd wanted't show off, I could'a. I could'a com'n here, guns blazin'n yellin', 'Yeehaw!' all night. But that ain't what this's 'bout. "Y'all gotta understand that."

Colt looked down at the tear stricken Grim, "Many ways, Lynn's all I got'n this world. Wit'out her, I'd be out'a job'n more'n one friend, sure's shootin, not'a mention a lover. Now, I ain't from 'round here'n I don't know how y'all do things, but if'n this's the type'a treatment she c'n expect from'er own parents, then I think it's best maybe we be gettin' on'r way." Colt held Grim close, letting her feel how steady he was in the face of the argument. He let his stoic nature comfort her. From his spot on the floor, Colt gazed up at her parents expectantly, and waited...

Share this post


Link to post

"Many ways, Lynn's all I got'n this world. Wit'out her, I'd be out'a job'n more'n one friend, sure's shootin, not'a mention a lover. Now, I ain't from 'round here'n I don't know how y'all do things, but if'n this's the type'a treatment she c'n expect from'er own parents, then I think it's best maybe we be gettin' on'r way."

Colt's words had at least some of their intended effect, as Lynn's parents stopped screaming at each other long enough to hear him out. As they listened, Lainey's face was anguished, almost as though she was in physical pain, whereas Butch's features were clouded with shame. When he finished, Lainey stormed over to Colt and jabbed an accusing finger at her daughter.

"Do you have any idea what she put me through, what she put us through? She stole from me, ruined my credit rating, and then had the nerve to call me up and-"

"Mom, shut up!"

At last, Lynn was no longer sobbing; she was far too angry for that now. She carefully disentangled herself from her boyfriend and stood face to face with her mother. who was stunned speechless by her daughter's tone.

"Look, I did what I had to do to get out of this house! I didn't do it out of spite, or to hurt your stupid credit rating; I did it so I could live."

And suddenly a change swept over her, as every injury on her face blossomed into a fresh wound, a ghastly mask of violence. The changeling took a limping step towards her wide-eyed mother, who covered her mouth with her hand, stricken with horror and guilt.

"This is what you did to me, Ma; not all at once, of course, but over the course of, what, three years? Four? This is what I ran away from."

Mercifully the injuries faded, until even the scars were gone; Lynn's unmarked face was profoundly sad as she watched the woman she once loved crumple to her knees.

"Because if you didn't kill me, I swear I woulda killed you, Ma. And where would that leave Dad, huh? What good would you do anyone in the frickin' ground?"

With great difficulty, Butch climbed out of his wheelchair and sat with his wife, his arms around her narrow shoulders; after a moment's hesitation, Lynn joined them, hugging both her parents for the first time in years. For a long time, the family remains in a tight knot, wordlessly rocking back and forth, until Lynn speaks again, her voice chocked with emotion.

"Y'know I still love you guys, right? Even though you make it really, really hard sometimes."

She turned to look at Colt, smiling though her eyes were wet.

"Can you get her a glass of water, hon?"

Share this post


Link to post

Wordlessly, Colt nodded. He'd taken a huge riskin allowing himself to lose his temper. However, it seemed to have worked after a fasion. Perhaps his strange perceptions from looking in from the outside was exactly the fuse that was needed to set off this powder keg.

Colt climbed to his feet and fetched the water. As he held it out for Grim's mother, he said, "I reckon I owe y'all'n 'pology. I was outta line'n I shouldn'ta said all that. Y'all didn't deserve hearin' it. Leastways not from the like'sa me." He turned his eyes on Grim, "I'ma get some air," thinking, "And let y'all have some privacy," he knew she would understand what he was doing. "Com'n get me if'n ya need anythin'."

Colt left quietly by the front door, and went outside. He went to his bike and retrieved the package of e-cigarettes he had stowed there. "An here I was thinkin' I was quittin'." He thought, switching the small decice into the on position. "Well, I s'pose there's always next week." He shrugged and took a drag. The end of the plastic device lit up blue, and Colt released a small smoke ring into the air.

Share this post


Link to post

"I reckon I owe y'all'n 'pology. I was outta line'n I shouldn'ta said all that. Y'all didn't deserve hearin' it. Leastways not from the like'sa me."

Still shaking, Lainey took the glass with murmured thanks, and drained it in one gulp; Lynn held her tightly, her head laying on her mother's shoulder. Perhaps unsure what to do, Butch rubbed his wife's back in comforting little circles.

"Com'n get me if'n ya need anythin'."

Once Colt left, Lynn and Lainey wordlessly helped Butch back into his chair; the two women sat on the sofa, and the three of them just sat there for a few minutes, staring into space. Finally, Lynn's mother turned to her and spoke in a tone that was almost back to her normal even tonme

"Sheri, can you help me clear the table?"

"Sure, ma."

As they started to pick up all the dishes and carry them over to the kitchenette, Butch idly scratched the back of his head, a calculatedly casual gesture.

"Uh, I'm gonna check on your boyfriend, Sher. Be back in a sec."

Lynn mutely nodded as she worked with her mother. Her father rolled over to his computer desk, pulled a knock-off Gucci shaving kit out of the top drawer, and then headed outside, handily navigating the ramp. Seeing Colt with his e-cig, he maneuvered his wheelchair over his way, the shaving kit in his lap.

"Mind if I join you?" Not really waiting for a reply, he indicated the Stellar Cycle with a jerk of his head. "Hell of a ride you've got there, bud. Does it, y'know, do stuff? Shoot lasers or oil slicks and smokescreens?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Far's I'm concerned, Butch," Colt gave him a nod, "It's yer yard, ain't't?" Colt chuckled at the absurdity of the request.

"Hell of a ride you've got there, bud. Does it, y'know, do stuff? Shoot lasers or oil slicks and smokescreens?"

"That's right," Colt told him, "All 'cept the lasers, leastways." Colt gave the side of the cycle a tap with the back of his fist. It opened up the compartment that housed Jericho and Marlin temporarily. "Reckon I'm the onboard cannon."

Colt gave a sigh as he looked down at the travel case Butch was holding, "How long ya been smokin', Butch?" Colt fixed him with a knowing gaze. He had a cigarette in his own mouth, but it was rather clear he was not referring to tobacco. "Far's I'm concerned, I can't'a done no worse in thur. Might's well speak m'mind'n be frank with'ya, if'n that's alright." Colt sighed, and took the E-Cigarette out of his mouth and gave it a once over with his eyes. "'Mong all'a them thing's Grim's gotten with them powers'a hers, a keen sense'a smell's probably th'most prominent. Reckon that's why'a switched ta'these. Naw, if'n she didn't know b'fore, y'all c'n be sure sh'does now." Colt didn't mean it in a scolding manner. He just meant to inform her father of the truth. Give him everything he knew. He was her family, after all, and he was going to do his own best to make sure that she didn't have any reasons to dislike them. As long as they were willing to hear him out, that was.

Share this post


Link to post

"Far's I'm concerned, Butch," Colt gave him a nod, "It's yer yard, ain't't?"

The older man merely shrugged as he zipped open his kit. "Ah, y'know, just being polite. You look like a guy who values his privacy."

"That's right," Colt told him, "All 'cept the lasers, leastways." Colt gave the side of the cycle a tap with the back of his fist. It opened up the compartment that housed Jericho and Marlin temporarily. "Reckon I'm the onboard cannon."

Butch whistled at the weapons on display. "Wow, that's some sweet iron ya got there!" He snuck a peek back towards the trailer, then shook his. "I'd ask if I could handle 'em, but if Lainey saw me holding a gun, she'd kill me with her deadly eyebeams."

He laughed.

"She hates guns."

"How long ya been smokin', Butch?""Far's I'm concerned, I can't'a done no worse in thur. Might's well speak m'mind'n be frank with'ya, if'n that's alright."

"'Mong all'a them thing's Grim's gotten with them powers'a hers, a keen sense'a smell's probably th'most prominent. Reckon that's why'a switched ta'these. Naw, if'n she didn't know b'fore, y'all c'n be sure sh'does now."

Lynn's father shook his head as he rummaged around in the kit and produced a small baggie of weed, a lighter and some rolling papers.

"Nah, I'm sure Lynn's known for years." He sighed deeply as he started to roll a joint. "Y'see, me and Lainey play these games; if she doesn't see me smoking grass in the house, then she can pretend I don't still smoke. It's stupid, I know, but whatcha gonna do, right? If you ever get married, you'll understand."

He licked the paper, then lit up. "Speakin' of which, I gotta ask you, young man." Butch sat up slightly and adopted a mock-formal attitude and just the hint of a Southern accent, the joint dangling from his fingers. "Just what are you intentions with my daughter?" The twinkle was back in his eye; he was fully aware of the irony of a pot-smoking dad asking a clean-cut superhero that question.

Share this post


Link to post

He laughed.

"She hates guns."

"Nah, I'm sure Lynn's known for years." He sighed deeply as he started to roll a joint. "Y'see, me and Lainey play these games; if she doesn't see me smoking grass in the house, then she can pretend I don't still smoke. It's stupid, I know, but whatcha gonna do, right? If you ever get married, you'll understand."

"Heh, I reckon I didn't think't was'at bad!" Colt chuckled a little at the comment. Though pretty much every example I've seen seems ta wanna tell me otherwise. Ma'n Pa couldn't do it. An' here Grim's parents're fightin'. Prolly best not'a think 'bout't.

He licked the paper, then lit up. "Speakin' of which, I gotta ask you, young man." Butch sat up slightly and adopted a mock-formal attitude and just the hint of a Southern accent, the joint dangling from his fingers. "Just what are you intentions with my daughter?" The twinkle was back in his eye; he was fully aware of the irony of a pot-smoking dad asking a clean-cut superhero that question.

"Whoo boy! I reckon I been waitin' all day fer ya't ask me that. But the truth'a't 's, maybe I'm'a man who like his privacy." Colt reiterated Butch's earlier comment, fixing him with a steely stare. The look only lasted for a few seconds before Colt burst into a smile. "Aw, c'mon there, Butch, I'm just yankin' yer chain a lil'."

"Truth is, ... I ain't really sure. Ain't nothin' bad now, that's fer sure, but I ain't so sure I know m'self." Colt slid the compartment where he kept his weapons stored shut to buy himself some time. "Grim is...Well, I reckon she's invaluable t'me. In more ways'n she knows, maybe even'n I know. Now, I might not be sure what'm gonna go'n do, but y'all c'n rest assured that whatever't is, I'm gonna do right by her, that's a promise." He looked back down at butch, right into his eyes, "A promise I aim't keep."

Share this post


Link to post

Colt's 'steely-eyed gaze' bit caught Butch by surprise, and soon he was laughing and coughing with smoke billowing around his head.

"Oh man, that was good! Very good indeed!" :D

"Truth is, ... I ain't really sure. Ain't nothin' bad now, that's fer sure, but I ain't so sure I know m'self." Colt slid the compartment where he kept his weapons stored shut to buy himself some time. "Grim is...Well, I reckon she's invaluable t'me. In more ways'n she knows, maybe even'n I know. Now, I might not be sure what'm gonna go'n do, but y'all c'n rest assured that whatever't is, I'm gonna do right by her, that's a promise." He looked back down at butch, right into his eyes, "A promise I aim't keep."

But when the cowboy grew more serious, Lynn's father leaned in, hanging on every word and occasionally nodding in agreement. When Colt finished, the older man carefully stubbed out his joint on the wheelchair's armrest (which from the look of the wood he did a lot), and put everything back in is shaving kit.

"The thing of it is, the best advice I can give you, no matter what your plans with Sheri are, is what not to do." He spread his arms wide and smiled ruefully. "I am an object lesson in this regard." He then began to count off on his fingers.

"First of all, don't lie to her. I mean, you can lie about the little stuff, like if you remembered her sister's birthday or something, but not the big stuff, because like Shakespeare said, the truth will out. And believe me, it is always worse."

"Second, don't get mixed up with bookie and lowlifes of that ilk. I know your Mister Cowboy Goodguy, but everyone has a weakness." He looked down at his useles legs. "My love of partying, excitement and good times cost me and my family a lot." Tears began to stream down his face, as his body was racked with sobs. "It almost cost me a daughter, a sweet little girl who had it a lot harder than she had to because her old man was a lousy f***-up."

Butch looked back over his shoulder at the trailer, and pointed to it with an outstretched arm. "It wasn't always like this, ya know; you put a decent family through a meat grinder and somebody's gonna get hurt. Maybe a lot of people." He put his head in is hands and sighed. "Oh, Lainey; I'm so sorry."


Inside the trailer, Lynn helped her mother dry the dishes; they hadn't spoken for several minutes, but ech seemed to draw some small comfort from the other's prescence. At long last, the changeling sighed and set aside her dish towel.

"Ma, I'm sorry for the way everything turned out; the phone calls, the police, the credit cards, everything. I wasn't trying to hurt you or Dad. I just couldn't live her anymore."

Lainey nodded. "I know; we all felt trapped here back then." She sighed and looked at the walls and cabinets of the tiny kitchenette. "Sometimes I still do."

Share this post


Link to post

"If'n there's one thing'a don't mak'a habit of, it's lyin'." Colt gave Butch that look again. The stern look that meant he was serious. "Sure, I got my bad habits," Colt began as he tucked away the recently extinguished e-cigarette. "But I reckon fer'all my drinkin'n smokin' Grim ain't left yet. Hell she's done more fer me'n I know. After all, I'm near'ta quit'n cuz'a her."

Then Butch gave his speech. When the older man cried, Colt felt a tear leak down his own cheek as well. "Well, I'll tell'ya, Butch. That sure hits home. An' I mean that. I ain't even got'a dad. Leastways far's I'm concerned." He smiled at the older man, and placed a hand on his shoulder, "Way I sees't, y'all'er still here. T'me, that there in'n of't self's a victory. If'n I were't be'a judge, I'd say ya done jus' fine." Colt smiled at him, meaning every word he said.

Colt looked back up at the trailer. More than any other place he'd been over the years, more than even the Brownstone, this structure looked like a home. Colt knew suddenly, that's what he really wanted. "I think'm finly stat'n ta get't..." He said quietly to himself. When Butch looked up at him, trying to hear, he said to the man, "Now how's 'bout some desert'n coffee? I reckon I mak'a real mean Texas brew if'n yer innerested."

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, I'll tell'ya, Butch. That sure hits home. An' I mean that. I ain't even got'a dad. Leastways far's I'm concerned." He smiled at the older man, and placed a hand on his shoulder, "Way I sees't, y'all'er still here. T'me, that there in'n of't self's a victory. If'n I were't be'a judge, I'd say ya done jus' fine."

Butch chuckled and shook his head. "Well, it's very kind of you to say that; we brought three beautiful children into the world, and despite our best efforts they all turned out amazing, so we must have done something right."

He sighed, and for a moment he actually looked his age, maybe even a bit older. "Colt, you and Sher are gonna do whatever your gonna do, and God only knows where life will take any of us. But I'll tell ya one thing; based on what I've seen today, if the two of you ever take the step...well, the one I hope you'll take, I would be very proud to bring you into our family and call you son."

Then he laughed loudly, and the light was back in his eyes.

"No pressure or anything, right?" :D;)

"Now how's 'bout some desert'n coffee? I reckon I mak'a real mean Texas brew if'n yer innerested."

Butch pursed his lips. "Ooh, that sounds good! I take mine black with two sugars; none of that pale syrupy mess my daughter calls coffee for this old fart!" He scooted over to the wheelchair ramp, bellowing as he came. "Honey, Bill here's gonna make us a pot of real joe! Get out the cake and ice cream!"


Once the dishes were done, Lainey turned her attention to her daughter's hair. "I'm sorry, it's just driving me crazy, honey; wait here, I'll go get-"

She started to head for the trailer's tiny bathroom, but Lynn held up a brush seemingly out of thin air.

"Here, ma, use this one."

Her mother looked at the hair hair implement with unabashed wonder. "Where did you..?"

Lynn looked somewhat embarrassed, and could not meet her mom's eyes as she held the brush out at arm's length.

"It's a hero thing, ma; don't sweat it."

Gingerly taking the offered brush, she lead her daughter in to the living area, where Lainey sat in a recliner with Lynn at her feet, and she combed out the girl's long curly hair. The familiar activity was soothing for both of them, and the shapeshifter closed her eyes and breathed in the trailer's familiar contents through her nose, and for a little while it was like she never left.

After a few quiet minutes together, Butch started hollering about coffee and dessert from outside, and both mother and daughter rolled their eyes the exact same way as they got up and headed for the fridge.

Share this post


Link to post

He sighed, and for a moment he actually looked his age, maybe even a bit older. "Colt, you and Sher are gonna do whatever your gonna do, and God only knows where life will take any of us. But I'll tell ya one thing; based on what I've seen today, if the two of you ever take the step...well, the one I hope you'll take, I would be very proud to bring you into our family and call you son."

Colt gave an appreciative look, and a nod of his head. What ever words he could have said didn't need to be. He knew Butch could already hear them. "Thanks," he sufficed.

Butch pursed his lips. "Ooh, that sounds good! I take mine black with two sugars; none of that pale syrupy mess my daughter calls coffee for this old fart!" He scooted over to the wheelchair ramp, bellowing as he came. "Honey, Bill here's gonna make us a pot of real joe! Get out the cake and ice cream!"

Colt laughed at that, "Trust me, Butch. Y'all might change yer mind after ya gon'n had this here drink. Reckon it's so strong it'll take hair offa yer chest. When I'm the first up'n I make th' coffee, Grim's taken'ta puttin' th' coffee in'er milk!" Colt smiled as he teased her from the yard. As he held the trailer door for Butch, Colt added, "I reckon I ain't gon' stop till I squeeze every last drop'a hate from them beans."

Then he caught the look the women were giving them,

After a few quiet minutes together, Butch started hollering about coffee and dessert from outside, and both mother and daughter rolled their eyes the exact same way as they got up and headed for the fridge.

"Hey now, don't y'all look't me wit' that there tone'a voice." Colt shook his head in mock disappointment, "Ain't they somethin'?" He asked butch, jabbing his thumb towards the women. He flashed Grim a smile. Everything was A-OK.

Share this post


Link to post

Overall, the evening had gone a lot better than Lynn had expected; in general, any trip to her folks that didn't involve a visit from the Atlantic County Sheriff's Department was a good one, but this time she was actually glad she'd come.

Things were still awkward between her and her mother, but that was nothing new; the fact that they could be in a room together for more than five minutes and not scream at each other or throw things meant they'd both come along way. And Colt and Butch had hit it off, just liked she hoped they would.

Her mom was happy to hear about her plans to attend school in the fall; though she was less than impressed by her choice of majors ("So what, you want to be a cop?"), the thought of her daughter attending college still seemed to please her. Of course, nothing could prepare her for the Xeroxed copy of Grampa Lou's book Lynn had made her, spiral bound with vinyl covers courtesy of Kinko's; she read the letter and clutched the volume to her chest, too moved for words.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do with it yet, " Lynn told them. "But I figure you should read it before we make any decisions. I don't want to start any more trouble for our family."

As they rode the Stellar Cycle back home, the changeling's arms once again wrapped around Colt's torso, Lynn smiled at thoughts of the future, something she hadn't done in a long time

Share this post


Link to post

The rest of the visit was a pleasant one for Colt. Especially when Grim recounted the letter from her uncle. Colt was glad he hadn't needed to read it for her again this time.

For the first time in a very very long time, Colt felt at home. He liked Grim's parents a great deal, and they began to warm up to him as well. He briefly wondered if he had finally found a family willing to give him a home. But the thoughts gave him another lump in his throat, so he put them aside. Though for the rest of the evening, he had nothing but adoration on his face whenever his eyes fell upon Grim.

As the two rode home, Colt knew that he couldn't be happier...

As they rode the Stellar Cycle back home, the changeling's arms once again wrapped around Colt's torso, Lynn smiled at thoughts of the future, something she hadn't done in a long time

"Honey? Yer squeezin' me a might tight agin." He told her over his shoulder, 'An I reckon I wouldn't have't any other way. he thought, happily.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...