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Although Talya's reputation might give the impression that all her New Year's Eves were spent at fabulous parties or madcap adventure, the fact of the matter was she'd had plenty of quiet New Years as well. There were certainly enough years where time's steady march onwards had not been a matter to celebrate. Still, in all of the New Years that she had celebrated, loud or quiet, Talya had certainly never fallen asleep a good half an hour before the overly-hyped television special had even begun it's crescendo. 

 

Yet sleeping was just what the blonde was doing, rather uncomfortably in her position as human barrier. Sometime between when Min and Erik had stepped out, the former to bathe Eden and the latter to produce snacks, Talya had curled up on the floor to keep Mia from getting past her and was now serving as an even better handhold for cruising than the couch had provided. How Talya continued to sleep through the chubby - and potentially sticky - baby hands yanking on her side was anyone's best guess. Normally, the ex-thief slept relatively lightly. Today, though, Mia's hand catching in her hair earned only a sleepy snort as Talya shifted, one arm encircling Mia absently. 

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"Alright, that's one gremlin down for the count, I'd say," Erik's voice preceded him before he rounded the corner with a lavishly intricate pile of nachos heaped into a bowl large enough he had to use both hands to balance it safely. "How are you doing with-- huh." Spotting Talya asleep on the floor he paused in the doorway, nonplused. Finally setting the bowl down on the coffee table in front of the couch, when a few slices of jalapeño and drops of salsa almost immediately escaped containment, he looked to Mia, who seemed rather pleased with herself all thing considered. "Getting pretty good at that, aren't you? I don't know what we're going to do with two of you running around soon. Think you can stay right there while I go get the camera?"

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Min had departed some time ago with Eden to bathe her and get her ready for bed.  Washed, dressed in her Geckoman pajamas and snuggly tucked into bed, the oldest daughter of the Espadas trio was soon sound asleep ready to wake in a new year.  The dryad herself didn't really think much about the changing of the year, a combination of age and her more seasonal outlook, but the past few have certainly been worth remembering.

 

Tonight was one such example, thought the dryad as she spied Talya and Mia.  She quietly stepped aside to let Erik pass and get the camera while she settled on the ground behind Talya, brushing out some of her hair that their youngest daughter mussed.

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Talya's sigh was equally soft as Min's fingers threaded through her blond curls and she drowsed long enough for Erik to return with the camera. Mia's shriek of glee at having undivided parental attention, however, finally roused the thief from her cat-nap. 

 

"Midnight already?" Talya wanted to know, as she turned on her side to smile up at Min - the words still drowsy as she shifted into wakefulness with only minor disorientation. This time, though, she was awake enough to catch Mia before the baby could continue to scale her shoulders in attempt to reach her mother. Shifting her arm, she lifted Mia over her head towards the dryad.

 

"Your daughters might be night owls," Talya commented before twisting her head to squint up at Erik and his camera with some suspicion. "I thought you had promised food."

Edited by alderwitch

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"Right next to you," Erik assured her, gesturing toward the bowl on the table with the hand holding the camera while holding the other up in mock defence against the implied consequences for failing to deliver snacks. "Give me a minute and I can probably get some drinks, too. Maybe something caffeinated, it's barely eleven thirty, Bedtime Bear." Putting the camera down on a convenient shelf he double-checked that Min had Mia well in hand before reaching down to offer Talya help up. "Are you coming down with something?" the dusty brown haired man asked more seriously, a flicker of concern making it past his teasing grin. "Not like you to just run out of gas, even if Mia does tend to gobble up all the energy around her. ...which may be a thing she literally does, considering."

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"Eleven thirty?" Talya parroted in return, frowning up at Erik as if he were speaking nonsense although she couldn't deny the evidence of promised food. She twisted her head to glance at the clock to confirm that she'd officially gone down around the same time that their three year old had given up the ghost. "Mia being an energy vampire, while not the oddest occurrence ever, does seem unlikely. I don't often get sick but it's been known to happen. Especially if magic's involved but I haven't exactly tussled with a magic user since, well..."

 

Guilt flickered briefly across her aristocratic features as her gaze flicked from Erik to Min's face directly above her. "But that didn't linger," she promised both of them swiftly. "When the damage is that severe, I just reset back it seems and clearly that curse remains in effect. I might be a little more tired of late -- perhaps a tetch more sensitive to spicy foods but I generally blame a British pallet. Don't fret. I really am obnoxiously resilient."

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As rambunctious as Mia could be, Min could tell she was nearing the limits of her endurance.  Reaching over Talya, Min gave her blond love a warm smile before extracting their youngest daughter's hands from her hair and lifting her clear.  "It is the little one's time for a bath and bed," the dryad announced as she rose to her feet.

 

"We tend to eat a fair amount of spicy food here," Min commented as she turned to leave, looking down at Talya.  "You weren't always so sensitive."

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Talya felt at a distinct disadvantage once the only one left on the ground with two somewhat concerned faces peering down at her. She rolled up to a seated position swiftly, with a limber grace and folded her long legs up tailor style. Having people concerned over her well being was still a new phenomena and while Talya was generally prone to brushing off such concerns, she'd not yet abandoned the residual guilt of having put Min through watching her most recent death. Dutifully, she turned her thoughts over to the few mild complaints she had. "It's not as if I've been running a fever or suffering chills."

 

"I suppose that I may have been more tired, though its not as if we keep the most regular of hours," Talya allowed as she ticked off things, more to put any concerns at ease than giving the conversation true weight. "And, certainly, I've been favoring bland foods. It could be some sort of sinus pressure - my balance has been just a smidgen off but nothing I'd worry over. Honestly, I doubt I'd even notice it if I wasn't prone to balancing on precarious ledges or hanging off the roof by my fingernails. I suppose that it started a bit after the whole dumpster episode but not until a few weeks after at the very least and its a fresh, new body. Death tends to wipe the slate clean, clearing out even things like a lingering cold - or recent hair styles, or--"

 

Both Espadas were treated to the rare sight of the usually glib blonde spy breaking off her words mid sentence, her hands freezing mid gesture as all the blood drained from her features. 

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One of Erik's feet slid forward reflexively, his posture ready for a sudden attack in response to Talya's expression. "What? What happened?" Alarmed, he turned around to look at Min before quickly turning back to the Englishwoman. Wishing he'd spent more time learning the specifics of how Talya's regeneration worked he wracked his mind for what vulnerabilities someone from the forties might have if those powers weren't working properly. "Polio?!" he blurted before immediately raising a hand to forestall an unnecessary answer. "Wait, no. Sorry. What am I not getting?" He was using the tone he reserved for when he was trying to be especially calm and reasonable while explaining something to Eden without sounding worried.

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Talya buried her face in her hands, that blonde curl that usually obscured one eye falling down to shield her features even more than usual. The muffled noise from her covered features wasn't quite a laugh or a sob, but some strangled sound in between the two as she did the math quickly in her head. 

 

"I got the vaccine when it came out - although whether or not it took... neither here nor there," Talya's usually clipped tones were a little garbled by the fact that she'd not remerged from the hands braced on either side of her temples, "Death generally resets everything, for me. Including my birth control." Of course, for the last several decades, that had been more the matter of not having to deal with the monthly inconvenience of biology as Erik was the first partner in that long for that to be a concern. Reasonable, or not, Talya was a little too busy wrestling with the entire concept to begin down the path of self recrimination. She'd get there eventually, though, no doubt. 

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Erik's jaw worked open and closed for several wordless moments as he processed that, moving onto rapid blinking and inarticulate sounds to fill the growing silence. "Uhhhh..." He hadn't asked for the specific details of the magic curse that had rendered Talya infertile, just filing it away as another of the legion of background details that made his life and the lives of those close to him unusual, which was beginning to seem like a mistake. Running his hand through his hair he dug deep for something insightful or reassuring to say and ended up sitting down heavily on the couch instead, staring blankly down at his hands.

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As the silence stretched, Talya finally lifted her blonde head from her hands. Cowering, after all, had never been in her nature and all the difficulties in her long life, Talya had long ago learned to face chin up and head on. She took in Erik's posture and the really rather reasonable shock on his handsome features. With her usual easy grace, Talya rolled from her seated position up to her feet silently. Reaching out, Talya touched her elegant fingers to the center of the palm that he was staring at, the gesture somehow mutely apologetic and affectionate the same time. The touch of fingertips still lingered even as she vanished to Erik's other senses, clearly a preamble to an inevitable flight response - most likely to the tallest building in the city to have a moderate panic attack forty stories up. 

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Erik was on his feet immediately, almost bowling Talya over into the coffee table and the sizeable bowl of nachos as he wrapped his arms tightly around where he knew her waist ought to still be despite her invisibility. "Oh no. Definitely none of that, with the running and the jumping out the window and everything," he admonished, the words somewhat muffled as he pressed his face into the top of her head. He was close enough that she could feel his pounding heartbeat, racing faster than normal but steady. "This sort of panicking is a team sport, cielo. We'll figure this out." There was a brief pause before he added more awkwardly, "I, uh, feel like I should probably, like, apologize...?"

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As Erik well knew, Talya's tricks didn't turn her ephemeral and she'd not taken more than a step or two away so she was quickly caught and encircled in strong arms. After a brief hesitation in which Talya might have still considered other avenues of escape, she reappeared with her cheek against his chest and her arms loose at her sides before she found his hips with her hands. 

 

"Despite rumors to the contrary, I am unfamiliar with this entirely. Television seems to purport that this is where I ought suggest that we're jumping to conclusions and it could be nothing but I do so loathe playing to type," Although it was at least banter, Talya's clipped tones were too brittle, too sharp as she turned her head to the side to finally relax into the comfort that was offered with a very, very quiet, "I can't do this."

 

As if that very quiet admission released some internal pressure, her posture deflated as she added a moment later, "If you apologize, then I'll need to apologize and then we'll just start all over when Min comes back into the room so she can say we're being absurd."

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"Have I become that predictable?" Min asked from the doorway.

 

"You know I wouldn't have to tell you both you're being absurd if you would, perhaps, stop being absurd."  The ancient guardian's gentle rebuke was delivered with a smile as she joined her loves side.  Wordlessly she wrapped both Erik and Talya in her arms, hugging them both to her.

 

After a pregnant pause she finally asked, "Why would I say you both are being absurd this time?"

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"More like reliable," Erik exhaled with a faint chuckle as Min joined the embrace without prompting and broke some of the tension. He exchanged a look with Talya as though silently debating which one of them would break the news. Having accurately predicted Min's reaction he found he felt less apprehensive and more sheepish about the whole thing. "Well, see, remember how we were talking about donating some of Eden's hand-me-downs that Mia's outgrown?" he began slowly, shrugging slightly for effect amidst the tangle of arms. "Talya's thinking we should maybe hang onto those."

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Talya groaned but at least she remained there, caught between the two of them and her arms still loosely entangled with them both, "I am not ready to talk about potential clothing choices or anything of the sort. I still don't think I can manage this," she declared, at least tipping her head back to frown up at Erik rather than down at the ground. "If I was prone to the vapors, I'd be having them at the moment. Would that I had less stalwart sensibilities or a more delicate constitution."

 

Her shoulders heaved with a small, beleaguered sigh and she let her head fall against Min's shoulder as she said, despite her earlier comments about the futility of apologies, "I am sorry."

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Min gave her head a small shake the kissed Talya on her forehead.  "Don't be."

 

"It is not as though either of you planned this," she continued, still holding her husband and the ex-thief close.  "And even if you did I would be only mildly disappointed in not being included in that conversation."  Min was thinking back to when she was pregnant with Eden, and knowing how Erik reacted then she was quite certain that this was unplanned.  "If you're worried about how I feel about this, don't be.  If you're happy, then I am happy."

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"You do tend to be a little more laid back about this stuff than most of us, florecita," Erik pointed out with a chuckle that turned into an annoyed groan  as he thought a few steps ahead. "The old man's side of the family are going to be such @#$%s about this when they find out. Uh. I mean, that is..." He turned his attention back to Talya, leaning away from the tangled embrace enough to get a better look at her expression. "What I mean is, how do you want to handle this?" It didn't come out half so smoothly as he'd been hoping but it was at least earnest. "You know we're with you whatever you want to do."

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"My love, Erik and I are still dancing around expressing genuine emotions without burying them in banter when alone," Talya said, at least some dry humor finally back in her tone as she slanted a look up at Min, "There's no possible way we'd have managed to get through an entire conversation about family planning when left to our own devices. If nothing else, someone would have distracted someone else when things grew too uncomfortable... Actually..."

 

She tipped her head to the side, genuinely considering seduction as a way out of the admittedly necessary conversation. Glancing from Min's serene expression to Erik's earnest one, Talya hesitated before answering the unspoken question. "No..." Talya said first as if she were still testing the idea out. Finally, she sighed, the tension leaching out of her muscles, "No," she repeated, this time more certain as she added, "I suppose that I'd like to move the time table up on remodeling; the bed is already rather snug."

 

Talya paused and then true dismay flickered across her features as she came to the most distressing of realizations, "Nothing I own is going to fit!"

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"I suppose you'll just have to wear nothing," Min casually said, lifting her shoulders in a slight shrug.  The dryad's carefully neutral expression held for a heartbeat before breaking into an impish grin.  "Neither one of us would mind that, and it's not like Erik can get you any more pregnant."

 

There was a subtle change in Min's demeanor, while she still held a smile there was a sense that she was suddenly being very serious, and she planted a kiss on Talya's forehead.  "Whatever you need to be comfortable, our dear songbird, we're here for you."

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"Saw that line coming," Erik insisted, the tension of a held breath released in a short, deep laugh. He leaned over to kiss the same spot on Talya's forehead before extricating himself from the tangle of limbs to walkover to the coffee table next to the couch. "Let's not pretend I didn't have any help, though, c'mon. Let's see..." Rummaging around he retrieved the stub of a pencil and a stack of sticky notes with half of the Nicholson School's logo still visible printed on one side. Tongue between his teeth he sketched out a few lines on the top piece. "Renovations I can do. We were already talking about knocking down that wall, yeah? We're just using the rooms across the hall for storage right now anyway." He was getting a little ahead of himself but it was nice to have something constructive he could do in response.

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