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Tea and Biscuits

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Late February, 2013

Freedom Hall, 3:00 PM


Velocity paced slightly just inside the entrance to Freedom Hall.  She had arrived only about a minute early for the time she had arranged to meet her teammate, Fleur de Joie.  But of course, for the speedster, a minute could seem like an eternity.  In one hand, the young woman held a couple of bags from her favorite bakery in Kingston.


But more beyond normal impatience that she could feel, Velocity was rather certain her current anxiety had more to do with feelings of uncertainty about burdening Fleur with her problems.


Despite being on the same team for a few years now, Velocity was not especially close with Fleur, but the speedster certainly liked the other woman, and did not doubt that they could be friends.  Instead, she knew that the current distance was more the result of a number of different things.  For a start, Fleur was a bit older, around the same age as Velocity's older sister, rather than the speedster herself. 


But perhaps more importantly, both their lives had generally been heading in different directions.  Beyond her duties as a member of the League and the work she restoring Sanctuary, Fleur had gotten married and had a child.  Velocity meanwhile had gone off to college, and had thus been somewhat less involved with the League. 


Since she had returned to Freedom City since the beginning of the year, Velocity had had an occasion or two to work with Fleur, but still not had a lot of chances to spend a lot of time socially with the other woman.  Ever since the encounter with her former boyfriend Robert Harrow in Sweden, and what she had learned during that encounter, Velocity had been struggling with a number of things about herself, her powers and her possible future. 


Daedalus had helped arrange for specialists Velocity could consult with on some of those issues.  But the speedster still felt that she just need someone to talk to about what she was dealing with.  While there were a few other heroines she might be able to talk with, Velocity felt Fleur was in a better position to provide a perspective that the others could not.


The speedster glanced at her watch for about the fiftieth time in the last twenty seconds.  Still not quite time for Fleur to arrive to take her over to Sanctuary.



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There wasn't much anyone could do to keep time from passing slowly for a speedster, but at least Fleur was prompt.Right at the appointed time, the potted hibiscus near the door seemed to yawn open with a sudden plethora of leaves and branches, discharging a familiar green-and-brown suited figure. "Hello, Velocity!" Fleur said cheerfully, dusting herself off and ignoring the few stares she was getting from visitors to the Hall. A whole school group across the lobby were staring open-mouthed, obviously having seen a little of the heroic action they were hoping for on their field trip. "I hope you weren't waiting long. Ammy is with her creche today, so we'll actually have time to sit down and chat." She laughed and extended a hand to her teammate. "Ready to go?" 

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While not completely used to Fleur's mode of transportation, Velocity was at least familiar enough that she did not display any sign of surprised at the other heroine's arrival.  Being able to process information more than a thousand times faster than a normal person certainly did not hurt either.


"Good afternoon Fluer."  The speedster replied with a smile.  "Any waiting is my own fault for being early.  And how long it might have been also tends to be rather relative for me."


As Fleur mentioned that her daughter would not be present this afternoon, Velocity felt a slight feeling of relief.  While she certainly found the young girl quite adorable, it would make it a lot easier to cover the things she wanted to with Fleur without having to be careful about what she said in front of her daughter. 


"Well, I brought some yummy baked goods, including some low sugar or gluten free for Ammy to have later."  She stated, holding up the bags from the bakery. 

"Ready whenever you are."  She then added, taking her teammate's outstretched hand.

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"That's very thoughtful, thanks!" The plant yawned opened again, and this time it swallowed them both in its leafy maw. Velocity felt a moment (a long moment, for her!) of disorientation as the world became nothing but green, a light green like the sun shining through spring leaves, and air heavy with the scent of newly mown grass. Within seconds, they were stepping out into an entirely new world. 


Velocity had heard of Sanctuary, certainly, but she'd never been, and the stories didn't quite do it justice. The spot they were standing on looked like the edge of a forest glade in a fairy tale. All around them was thick deciduous forest, looking completely primeval but for a single path that curved away and out of sight to the south. In the center of the glade was a cottage made of plants, its walls live growing trees woven together with branches and vines, its roof arching limbs covered in broad flat leaves. The windows were made of strange unearthly crystal that caught and sparkled in the sunlight, and the path to the door was lined with seashells. Everywhere there were flowers, growing wild but in a profusion and variety that nature never could've managed on its own. There were other, smaller outbuildings made of plants and earth behind the cottage, and at the back of the clearing a silver windmill rose above the trees, but the initial fantasy impression was still striking. 


"Welcome to Sanctuary," Fleur told Velocity, immediately shedding cowl and mask in the warm air. "While we're here, you should feel free to call me Stesha. I have coffee ready inside!" She led the way up the path to the house. "How have you been?" 

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Velocity managed to stay focused through the feeling of disorientation that came with Fleur's dimensional travel.  Once they were through, the speedster quickly recovered, as her goggles' three hundred and sixty degree sight and her own quickness allowed her to take in all the sights around in an instant.


"Wow."  She managed to say, after being awed for a few moments.


The young woman then focused back on Fleur, as the slightly older woman removed her mask and cowl and started towards the highly unusual house they were near.  "Only as long as you call me Megan."  The speedster replied, the speed and tone of her voice changing, as she started after her hostess, moving at a normal speed for a change.  As Stesha's question, there was a slight pause, even noticeable to the plant controller, before Megan responded.


"Honestly, I've been better."  Velocity lifted her goggle up off her face, allowing herself to relax some.  "I hope things have been well for you?"

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"Oh, we get by," Stesha said glibly, pushing open the door and leading the way into the plant house. Inside, the house was comfortable and surprisingly modern, with an open floor plan that grouped together a small kitchen, a square dining table with a booster seat secured to one of its four chairs, and a conversation grouping of a couch and several chairs around a flat-screen television. "Amaryllis' second birthday is in just a few weeks, I'm planning a little party for her with some of the children from the village. She's too young to really appreciate it, but they will. How do you take your coffee?" 


She bustled about for a few moments preparing the coffee, laying the pastries out on a plate, then bringing the whole thing over to the coffee table. Only then did she settle down on the couch and study Megan quietly. "You do look troubled," she observed quietly. "What's going on?" 

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"A fair bit of cream, but just a dash of sugar."  Megan replied when Stesha asked how she took her coffee, glancing around at the interior of the other woman's home, smiling slightly as she mentioned her daughter's upcoming birthday party.  "I am sure Ammy will enjoy herself."


Taking a seat in one of the chairs near the couch, she added, "Your home is very lovely Stesha.  Plenty of light, with an airy and refreshing feel."


When Stesha made her way back over and set down the coffee, the speedster picked up her cup to take a sip as the slightly older woman asked her question.  Once again Megan felt a slight feeling of guilt about wanting to burden Stesha with her problems, but she really felt the need to get someone else's perspective on things.


"Well, first, I want to apologize about coming here to burden you with my worries."  She replied.  "I know we don't know each other very well, but I like to think that is mainly a result of me being off in college and you, well, dealing with all this," Megan gestured outside the crystal windows at the views of Sanctuary beyond, "and of course Ammy."


"Normally I might have gone to my mom, or older sister about some of the things that have been bothering me recently, but that would require explaining. well, me being Velocity, which I have never told them."  The speedster continued. 


Megan paused for another moment, taking a sip of her coffee as she thought about how she might start this conversation for what seemed the millionth time.  "I guess the best way to start might be with a question of my own."

"Stesha, what would you do if you learned that, at least in some possible future timelines, you would be the mother of a child that was driven mad by his powers which allow him to rip apart the very space time continuum?"


"Because, that's what I recently learned."



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Stesha was quiet for a moment, sipping her coffee and giving the question the thought it deserved. "Future timelines are a tricky thing," she said finally, drawing one leg up under the other on the couch. "Every so often a hero does get a message or a visit from a future self or someone who will know them someday, and it's always a sort of puzzle. You've got the warning, but what do you do with it? Do you change everything you were going to do, just to make sure this bad future doesn't come to pass? Or do you just keep going and hope that somehow the things you do are right because you want to do right, and that some timelines just don't turn out?" 


She gave Megan a sympathetic smile that was edged with just a hint of sorrow. "In the end, most of us who get those warnings from the future wind up ignoring them. There's the occasional "don't go into that building tomorrow!" that's easy enough to follow, but do you end a relationship because you know ahead of time that it's doomed, or quit hero work because eventually you'll die of it? Can you deny yourself a family and your potential children their lives because one of them might do bad things one day?" 

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Megan managed a small smile.  "Yeah, time travel can be a real mess."  She then paused and continued, "but in this case, it is something more of a mess than usual."


"If this was just a case of learning that I might have a son that would become a supervillain, well, that would be disappointing, and I might try to do things better, but I am not sure I would dwell on it like I am with this.  From what I was told, my possible son has the power to collapse multiple timelines together and the theory on him is that the more timelines he exists in, the stronger he is in all of them."


"And it gets better, this was more than just a warning, someone, maybe even this future son himself, sent a device back to our timeline that was specifically designed to try to get the father and I together, or back together, in this case.  I was told about this future son and the purpose of the device by a future version of the father from a timeline where we did marry and did have this son, and he was now determined to prevent that from happening in as many timelines as he can."


"The device certainly exerted some influence over the father in our timeline, who was talking about using my DNA to clone a child if he could not have me.  Thankfully I was able to get the device away from him with the help of the hero Fenris and he seems to be free from its influence, though he still claims to still love me and regrets breaking up with me.  Which of course could be real, or some remaining influence of the device."

Edited by Thevshi
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Stesha raised her eyebrows as she listened to the story, her coffee mug cupped in both hands. "That's quite a mess," she agreed when Megan was finished. "Do you have any way of determining whether the person you saw from the alternate timeline was telling the truth?" she added. "That's another complication when dealing with warnings from the future, things are not always what they seem, and the people who come with warnings may not always have your best interests in mind. It's not always easy to know who to believe. But you're reasonably sure that the man who came back in time is trustworthy and was telling you the full truth?" 

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"Believe me, that is something I was not completely sure of myself, particularly given how things happened."  Megan replied.  "The future version of the father did not come back himself, at least not that I know of, but sent some operatives back instead.  They caught up with me during a business meeting I was at in Sweden a few weeks ago through my internship with Summit Transnational and knocked me unconscious and took me to some 'null time' where I met the future Robert."


"Believe me, I was rather sceptical about trusting someone who had kidnapped me, but, the threat of this future child felt like something I couldn't just ignore.  And, he sent me back to try to help keep the watch away from the present Robert, and as I said, he was certainly not acting like himself while he had it."


"After I managed to subdue Robert and Fenris and I got the watch away from him, some more of these operatives from the future showed up to try to take possession of the watch, though I honestly cannot be sure they were working for the man I met before or someone else.  Because they attacked us, I wasn't about to give them the watch.  We defeated them, and currently Daedalus has the watch and can hopefully learn something about it."


"So...no, I cannot be completely certain that what I was told was true.  There is at least some corroboration with what he said, but I have no way of being sure he was giving me the complete story."

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Stesha nodded. "So in a way, no matter what you decide, you'll be trusting your own instincts, and what you know of this man." She picked up a blueberry scone and buttered it. "It sounds like he's someone you used to be involved with, but you broke things off at some point?" She took a delicate bite and brushed crumbs off her pants. "Maybe you could tell me more about him. Do you still have feelings for him? As in, if none of this had ever happened, do you think you would ever have gotten back together with him?" 

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Megan listened to Stesha's questions, letting out a small sigh.  "Well, Robert, or Lord Robert Howell, is about two years older than me and recently inherited his title after his father passed away towards the end of last summer."


"We first met just after I had finished high school at North Bay Academy and joined the League.  That summer, two high school friends and I took a several week trip to Europe.  That trip included a several day stop on Ibiza, where I celebrated my eighteenth birthday.  I met Robert at the nightclub we had gone to that night, and the two of us ended up going back to my hotel room.  The next morning, we both went our separate ways."


"That following fall, I started at Yale, other boys came and went.  But then during my Junior year, I got the chance to go and study at Cambridge, and it turned out Robert was still there finishing his PhD in theoretical physics.  When we ran into each other not long after I had gotten to Cambridge...well, I guess we both had fond memories of that night in Ibiza, as we started dating."


"I dated Robert for almost eight months, which, I am sad to say, actually qualifies as one of my longest relationships ever.  Our time together...well, it..I thought it was really wonderful.  Beyond just the time we spent together at the university, we took a number of weekend trips to Paris, spent a long weekend in Nice, part of our winter holiday at a resort in the Swiss Alps, and during our Easter holiday went together to the Maldives.  I mean, there was some tension, at least part of which was related to me keeping this," she indicated her costume, "a secret, but for the most part I think I was able to minimize that.  Robert's schedule was a rather busy one, and though my professors thought they were loading me down with homework...well, needless to say, my powers have long made dealing with even the most heavy homework load something that only a little time.  So I was able to be out for a couple hours as Velocity, either in England or over in other parts of Europe, and then still be back to spend time with Robert when he was free."


"When might be the right time to let a guy I am involved with know about my being Velocity is something I have struggled with a couple of times, but none quite like I did with Robert.  The last month or so we were together I was especially struggling with whether or not to tell him.  Probably one of the main reasons I did not was because of the source of the other major tension in our relationship, what its future would be once my time at Cambridge ended and I returned to finish at Yale."


"Like probably most young people, early on we were focused on the present, and not really thinking long term.  As my time started to grow shorter, we sort of just avoided talking about it.  I think we might have eventually talked, but then this," once again Megan indicated her costume, "brought an abrupt end to things."


She paused a moment, then continued.  "I don't know if you remember hearing about when I went missing for a couple of days last May, but it involved a mission Captain Thunder asked me to go on.  UNISON had sent a team of superagents to Bulgaria to recover some weapons grade plutonium that a criminal group had smuggled out of one of the former Soviet Union countries to sell on the black market.  I was asked to join the mission as the League’s representative.  It was supposed to be a simple mission taking no more than one night to finish up.  Instead, the UNISON superagents had decided it paid better on the other side, and once we had secured the plutonium, they betrayed me and the UNISON intelligence agent assigned to the mission, leaving us unconscious as they made off with the plutonium to try to sell themselves."


"While I had wanted to just call for backup, in no small part because one of the rogue UNISON agents had temporarily suppressed my powers when they had betrayed us, the UNISON intelligence agent, a former Spanish secret agent, convinced me that we were in the best position to try to recover the plutonium, if we disappeared and pretended to be dead.  So, we went into hiding and managed to track down the rogue agents a couple days later in Turkey.  While they got away, we did secure the plutonium."


"Needless to say, when I finally got back to England, Robert was furious, as I had been gone for close to three days, without any word on where I was or what was going on."  The young woman paused a few moments once more before continuing.  "There I was, with a perfect opportunity just tell him the truth.  But I was physically and mentally exhausted after the events of the previous days, and thus handled things about as badly as I possibly could.  Instead of telling him the truth, I tried to make up some unconvincing lie about just needing some time to myself."


"Robert saw right through it, and decided he could not trust me.  So he dumped me.  Though that hurt, a lot, I could not really be mad at Robert.  After all, I had lied to him and kept secrets from him.  So, I finished up my time at Cambridge and came back home."  Megan stopped again, one hand coming up to message her temples some before she went on.  "Sadly I have experience with relationships ending like that, and have learned to move on pretty quickly.  With Robert, it was not so easy."


"If you had asked me your questions even a few months ago, I would have admitted that I did still have feelings for him and would have been willing to get back together with him if possible.  But, if you had asked me a few weeks ago before I went on that business trip, I would have said no, I had moved on and was happy with the new guy I had been seeing for about a month."


"Now...now I would have to say that I do still have feelings for him."

Edited by Thevshi
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Stesha nodded. "See, I think that right there is the only pertinent question you have to answer," she told Megan simply. "This business about a foreordained child, that's nothing to base your life around. You could marry him and have no children, marry him and adopt children, marry him and end up only having girls  because you had sex one day of the month instead of another. And just because you stay away from him doesn't mean there couldn't be a fluke or a plot or a drunken one-night-stand at some point that leads to this kid showing up. If he does end up born, then you have some warning, then you can take action in a much more concrete way. But you can't spoil your chances for happiness just because someone tells you that something bad could come of it." It was hard to say, Stesha being generally a glib sort of person, but it seemed for a moment as though she might be speaking from some experience. 


"But it's also possible," she continued, her face and voice smoothing right back to normal, "that your feelings for him are confused because you want to protect him from this, or because you feel like he's a loose end in your life. If you do want to try and patch things up with him, I think you're going to have to be forthright with him. Not only from fairness or so you can have discussions about things like children with both of you on the same page, though that's part. He's going to notice eventually that you continually fit three days of activity into every afternoon, and it's going to make him wonder." 

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Megan listened as Stesha made the argument for why she should just not let the concerns about Collapse be the sole reason for staying away from Robert.  While the young speedster was still somewhat uncertain, she had to admit that Stesha made some good points.


She then managed a smile as Stesha mentioned the need to stop hiding things from Robert if Megan choose to renew their relationship.  "Well, that at least is something that is not an issue anymore."  She replied.  "Following this whole incident with the watch in Sweden and Switzerland a couple of weeks ago, Robert now knows that I am Velocity.  I also told him all about this possible future son of ours, when I was trying to convince him to give up the watch."

Edited by Thevshi
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"How did he take it?" Stesha asked with interest. "I remember when I finally had to spill the beans to my own family, it can be very stressful, and they can react in all sorts of different ways. But it's even harder to keep that kind of secret than to come up with the guts to tell them, I think." She cocked her head, nibbled on her scone. "Did it seem like he might want to be with you again, after the influence of the device had worn off? That must have been a very frightening experience for him, if he remembered any of it." 

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Megan grinned slightly as Stesha talked about when she had finally told her family about her powers and heroing.  "Yeah, I still have not worked up the nerve to tell my parents or siblings.  As I started all this while still a teenager, not telling them had more to do with not wanting them to try and stop me if they knew than anything else.  Now it is just become easier to continue things as they have been."  


"As for things with Robert, my secret identity wasn't something I choose to tell him, it was more something he learned because of the device."  Megan responded.  "And I told him about our possible son while the device was influencing him.  The news certainly gave him a bit of pause, but he quickly moved past that to try to convince me that it did not matter and was not anything we could be certain of.  But seeing that the device appears to be all about trying to ensure that son is born, that response was not too surprising."


"Once he seemed to be free of the device's control, he did not really mention the possible son, but certain stated he still believed he loved me and wanted to be with me again.  It certainly did not seem he was bothered by the fact I was a superhero, but that could just be part of having a stiff upper lip and all that."  Megan gave a small shrug.  "While he was certainly acting like himself once more, I was not one hundred percent sure he was completely free of the device's influence just yet.  It could well be the feelings he talked about were just some residual effect.  A little bit of time has passed now, so I guess I will learn if anything has changed about his feelings."

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"It's definitely a complicated situation," Stesha agreed. "But sometimes complicated can be worth it. Maybe you both still need a little time to settle down before you sort out how you really feel about each other, but you've got plenty of time. If he's the one, he'll still be the one six months from now or a year from now, right? And if not, well then he wasn't really the one." She shrugged a little. "But as far as the rest of it goes, you'll want to be sure you've got a briefing on file with the League regarding that possible child. If he does exist and is a threat to multiple timelines, we'll want our people to be aware of that before they get sucked into a situation that they might only end up making worse. You can keep parts of it confidential if it makes you uncomfortable." 

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Megan gave a small smile at Stesha's suggestion about her and Robert perhaps needing a bit more time to sort things out.  "Sadly my powers are not particularly conducive to patience, or at least what most people would consider patience.  But, I do want to be a bit cautious about things."


She then nodded when Stesha mentioned having a report on file about Collapse.  "Yeah, I made sure to put together a report about both the child and the Stopwatch after Fenris and I delivered the watch to Daedalus.  I had to explain most of this to him so he could understand what the watch was and what to try to look for in his examinations."

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"Good, it sounds like you're all set, then," Stesha agreed with a nod. "Daedalus is very meticulous about keeping track of all the information we have about various timelines." She laughed a little. "Thinking about divergent timelines and alternate realities too much starts to give me a headache, but it's something of a hobby for him. I suppose when you're immortal and super-intelligent, you need to think about really deep things just to pass the time." 


She relaxed against the couch cushions, taking another sip of tea. "I noticed you have quite a lot of school under your belt for someone your age. What are you planning on doing?" she asked curiously. 

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"I am right there with you with getting a headache from thinking about all the possibilities that can exist with alternate timelines."  Megan replied with a small smile.


When Stesha mentioned her schooling and asked about her plans for the future, the younger woman gave a small shrug.  "Not really sure I have more schooling than anyone else my age really, though I have had opportunities to go to really good schools, but I am still just finishing my bachelors."


"As for what I plan to do with it, well, that is a bit more difficult to answer.  In a lot of ways, much of what I have done in my schooling has been a result of me keeping my powers a secret from my parents and having to very academically accomplished older siblings making me feel there was something I needed to live up to."


"Right now I am in the middle of an internship with Summit Transnational, one of the more prestigious internships in my area of study.  They might offer me a job when the internship is over and I graduate, but I not entirely certain I will take it.  While I enjoy the work and the people I work with, the hours are just too insane, least, not without using my powers in a way that would raise too many questions.  It would probably be a lot harder to be active as Velocity if I took the position, and, I don't really need the money."

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"It's nice to have so many choices," Stesha observed cheerfully. "I'm sure that with your resume, you can find a job that suits you, however much of your time and effort you think you can devote to it. And you never know what paths life will lead you down, even after you decide." She chuckled and glanced around at her leafy house. "When I graduated college, I decided that I didn't want to become a botanist, I wanted to be a florist instead. And then I ended up being a superhero and managing a planet instead. Who'd have thought? But if you're flexible and look for possibilities, anything can happen. So you're the baby of your family, huh?" 

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"Yes, it certainly is."  Megan nodded in agreement as Stesha mentioned having choices.  "My mother is pretty heavily involved in philanthropy work in Freedom City, so I might think about helping her with that some."


As Stesha mentioned how her own career and life had turned out far different than she could have envisioned, the speedster grinned.  "You forgot to mention mother.  And I have to say, from what I have seen and heard, you handle all of it very well."


She then nodded as the Stesha asked about being the youngest in her family.  "Yeah, my sister is four years older, and is currently in a residency in Seattle.  My brother is two years older, and currently halfway through getting his law degree at Stanford.  How about you?  Any siblings?"

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Stesha grinned. "Five of them," she confirmed. "An older sister, three older brothers, and a little sister. When I was in my angsty teenage phase, I complained that by the time I came along, the novelty of children had worn off, but I still didn't get to be the baby in the family. But there was always someone around to play with, and that was nice." She set down her empty teacup and folded her hands comfortably in her lap. "It can be hard to feel like you're living up to your older brothers and sisters, especially when you're just getting started. But hey, neither of them is doing it and being a superhero as well, so I think you're doing just fine."


She laughed. "In any case, I always planned on being a mother one day, so that's something that almost turned out the way I thought. I love kids, and though some might say I'm biased, I'm pretty sure that Ammy is an especially good one. Now ask me again when she develops more of her powers, right?" she added ruefully. "She's one of those whose name was down for the Nicholson School the day she was born." 

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"Wow, I thought having one older brother was a pain.  I couldn't imagine having three of them."  Megan replied with a grin as Stesha mentioned how many siblings she had.  The speedster then nodded as the other woman mentioned the difficulty of feeling you were living up to older siblings.  "Yeah, following after them in school was not easy, especially as I was not very far behind.  For a while I was thinking I would be regulated to being the 'pretty one,' but, then this happened"†she indicated her costume, "and keeping up with school work while still having time for fun became a whole lot easier."


Megan then chuckled slightly as Stesha mentioned the fact that she had not only focused on school but also been a superhero.  "Well, with my luck, both my older siblings are also superheroes and I just don't know it."


"Well, being a good mom, or parent in general, is not always easy.  I grew up with a number of people that were basically raised by their nannies, not because their moms were working or anything, but more because they just did not want to deal with raising kids.  My parents used nannies, but always as a means of helping my mom out, not completely taking things over."

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