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Debate Night

 
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Ashlyn Radcliffe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:33 am    Post subject: Debate Night Reply with quote

It had been a long night for Peter and Lyneth - three hours was a long time for two children under the age of nine to be stuck to chairs on stage in front of an audience without a break. Even school had more breaks for recess and lunch than that. And though they had only started wilting toward the end, Peter had fallen asleep on his mother's shoulder long before they'd got to the car. Once home, his parents had to wrangle both Peter and Cora into the house, along with Peter's dog, Chewie, and of course, his frog, Lucy.

Thankfully, Chewie was reasonably self-sufficient, pottering into the fenced garden to do his business before coming back inside and lolloping up the stairs toward Peter's bedroom. Lucy, too, was fairly easy to deal with - all Ash had to do was remove the frog's pink top hat and put her back into her terrarium, though trying to do this one handed with Peter slumped against her side was certainly a trial. Then it was Peter's turn, while James dealt with Cora and closed up after the dog. Ash gently but quickly stripped her little boy out of his fancy suit, guiding his arms and legs into pajamas. She wasn't going to enforce teeth-brushing tonight. "All right, little man," she murmured, tugging the covers back. "In you get."

Now that he'd been jostled about from the car to the house, out of his suit and into his pajamas, Peter was sleepy and groggy but just barely awake and coherent enough to speak before sleep overtook him again. "Mama, did we do good tonight?" he asked her uncertainly, as he peered up at her from his pillow.

"You did so well, Peter," she promised him gently, kneeling beside the bed as she tucked him in, making the most of his lack of wriggliness to get a couple of long cuddles in as well. "I'm very proud of you. You looked so handsome, and you spoke like a little gentleman."

He frowned very seriously up at her, through sleepy but adoring eyes. "Some of the questions were hard. And I didn't understand what that man was saying," he said, of the man who'd been silent all night until the end, when he's sprung a question on the children Peter was unsure of answering.

She stroked his hair gently, smiling his honest comment. "You're right, some of the questions were hard," she agreed. "But people ask questions at the debate because they want to know what the candidates are actually like. You don't have to follow through with anything that you actually said." Her smile warmed as he mentioned the last questioner. "That man seemed to me like someone who was asking questions to make himself sound special and important," she told her son. "But I never saw him before, and I don't think many other people there knew who he was, either. You did very well."

"Papa said the gov'nor is just a figger head, but if that's true, how can we change anything? Me and Lyneth just wanna help the orphans and make Rhy'Din a fun place to live," he confessed, simplifying their campaign platform to the most basic level. It had never occurred to Peter at least that those are things they might be able to do without becoming governor.

"Well, you can't change policies or write laws," Ash agreed quietly. "What the Governor does is lead by example. They use their position to make people aware of causes that they feel strongly about. Like you and Lynnie and the orphanages; like Mrs. Brock-Tur Gairdin and the housing shortage. People watch what the Governor does, and a lot of the time, they'll be more interested because the Governor is interested."

Peter's frown deepened. "There's too many orphans, Mama." It wasn't the first time he had thought this. After all, he'd brought countless Lost Boys to Neverland over the years, until they'd grown up, but he couldn't do that here on Rhy'Din. He'd agreed to be adopted and to grow up because he'd always longed for a mother and to be part of a family of his own, but the issue of orphaned children would always be one that was near and dear to his heart. "We just want to help them."

Ash smiled gently. "You don't have to be the Governor to help the orphans of Rhy'Din, sweetie," she promised him. "And if Mrs. Brock-Tur Gairdin wins the race, she'll want to talk to you and Lyneth about that, and about how to make Rhy'Din more fun. You don't have to be the Governor to make sure people know what you're working on."

"That's a long name!" he remarked with a sleepy giggle. "What about the other lady?" he asked, having only understood about half of what Pharlen had said at the debate. He wasn't an idiot, but he only had the vocabulary of about an average nine-year-old.

"You know what, I don't know," she admitted, "but there's no rule that says you can't write to the governor and make suggestions. Not winning isn't the end, Peter. Okay?" She inched a little closer, glancing up as Snow flitted in through the open window.

"Okay, Mama," Peter said agreeably, snuggling down into his pillow and covers to get settled in for the night. "I love you, Mama!" he told her, his eyes getting heavy again. The shadowed silhouette of a tall man appeared in the doorway, as James had finished tucking Cora in for the night.

"I love you too, little man." She leaned close to kiss his cheek, smoothing his hair with a last brush of her hand before switching off the lamp by his bed. Snow glimmered in the darkness as she tucked herself close to Peter's neck.

"Where's Snowy?" he asked absently, before feeling her settle in close to his head. "Oh, there you are! I was worried. Night, Snow. Night, Lucy. Night, Chewie. Night, Mama. Say night to Cora for me. Night, Papa," he said, seeing the unmistakable shadow of his father in the doorway. He yawned once, curling up beside his fairy friend to surrender himself to sleep.

"Sleep well, sweetheart," Ash whispered to him through her smile, slow to rise to her feet. She backed up to the door, always reluctant to leave her children to sleep without being watched over.

But there was Snowdrop right by his side, like a guardian angel. And there on the coast, there was little worry of danger. James pushed off the doorway as Ash started his way. "Night, Peter. Sweet dreams, lad," he told his son, who strangely had once been his nemesis.

It was hard to imagine the antagonistic relationship that had once existed between James and Peter. Though it had only been a little under a year, they had settled with surprising ease into a father-son relationship, something Ash was very proud of them for doing. She smiled, stepping back out of the bedroom with a low sigh. "How does a small rum sound to you?" she murmured to her husband.

"Sounds like music to my ears, lass," James replied, with a small smile. It had been a difficult night for all of them, perhaps even more so for a pair of protective new parents. A little rum would help soothe their frazzled nerves.
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Ashlyn Radcliffe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tucking her arm about his waist, Ash headed for the stairs, tired but not quite ready for bed. It wasn't that late for the adults yet. "I wanted to belt that man so hard for asking a stupid question just to keep the kids up," she admitted ruefully.

"I wonder if he realizes they've done all this own their own," James speculated quietly, sliding an arm around her shoulder as they made their way toward the stairs. "At least, Peter didn't challenge him to a duel," he admitted, relieved at that.

While their parents might be asked for advice from time to time, Peter and Lyneth had gone about this campaign all on their own.

"He probably doesn't," Ash mused. "To be honest, most people will have assumed that we're the ones doing most of the work." She chuckled faintly. "If only they could have seen the state of the kitchen on poster day."

"Do you think anyone will really take them seriously?" he asked, letting go of her shoulder so that they could make their way down the stairs and have that rum.

"Some might. Rhy'Din's a strange place, and neither one of them is precisely a child," she pointed out. "They each have a kind of unique perspective."

"People will see them as children," James reasoned, as he moved toward the liquor cabinet and took out the best and most expensive bottle of rum they owned. It hardly mattered what the children's ages were; even if they were older than they seemed, most adults would perceive them as children, and they were running on a child's platform. "Peter was right. Even if they win, they'll need a lot of help," he said, as he poured a fingerful of rum into each glass.

"If they win - and remember, it is still an if," Ash said, bending to unzip her boots and tuck them away in the shoe box, "then there will be plenty of people they can ask for help." She paused, half-smiling as Chewie shuffled into the living room, apparently not quite ready for bed himself yet.

"It's a big if," James agreed, admiring the view of his wife as she unzipped her boots. "Is there any law that says children can't vote?" he asked. He'd only arrived in Rhy'Din a few years ago and was no expert on the rules or lack thereof. It seemed reasonable to assume that if children could run for governor, they could vote, too.

She laughed, shaking her head. "Not that I've come across," she admitted. "Which is also the reason my university students range in age from fourteen to forty. With all the cultures on Rhy'Din having their own ages of consent and majority, it'd be pointless to try and enforce a Rhy'Dinian age of majority."

"You realize that if every orphan was to vote, it would likely be a landslide," James pointed out, though he doubted that would happen. He also doubted whether homes could be found for every orphan in Rhy'Din or whether they'd all even want homes and parents and the rules that would accompany that, but some certainly would. He moved over to hand her one of the glasses, while Chewie poked his nose at the shoebox.

"Hey, you ... shoes are not toys," Ash informed the puppy, taking the glass from James. "Chewie ... where's your ball? Where's your ball?" The ridiculous enthusiasm put into this query that the dog probably did not understand made even Ash smile as she eased down into a seat beside her husband. "I doubt they're going to win," she said in a more even tone. "I don't think Rhy'Din really wants that amount of enthusiasm being thrown at them constantly from the Governor's office."

"Rhy'Din could use a little enthusiasm," James remarked, adding, "But I see your point. And we don't want them becoming a target just because people find them obnoxiously naive and excitable," he reasoned, taking a small sip of the rum. There had been a time when he'd have downed the entire bottle by himself, but he had learned moderation.

"Humph's already put plans in place to make sure they're protected, in the event that they win," Ash assured him softly, leaning into his side for a brief moment before a tatty rope twist was dropped into her lap by a hopeful chocolate labrador.

"We don't live at Maple Grove, love," James reminded her. In fact, they lived in a pretty remote location outside the city proper on a cliff above the Rhy'Din coast. At least, that was when they weren't out to sea. That said, there were times when Peter stayed with Desmond and Piper while his parents were out to sea, but Maple Grove was one of the safest places in Rhy'Din, due to the security Humphrey had made sure was in place there.

"You really think he'll have forgotten that?" she asked gently, lifting the tatty rope and tossing it across the room to the tune of Chewie's feet scrabbling over the carpet. "Besides, we're not totally defenceless out here."

"Nor is Peter, but I don't really want the boy dueling again. Not only does he cheat, he enjoys it too much. And this isn't Neverland," James said. He wasn't sure what would happen if Peter were to become seriously injured here in Rhy'Din, without Neverland's magic to heal him. "I do worry for their safety," he admitted. "But what really worries me is the fact that they're only children and they shouldn't have to carry such a weight of responsibility at their young age."

"Which is why, even if they win, we're going to keep sheltering them from the worst of what happens in the city," Ash reminded him. "They wanted to do this because people are forgetting how to smile, how to laugh at the world. Not because they want to make sweeping changes or take responsibility for an entire city. And if they win the vote, I'll help them remind the adults in this city that life is worth laughing at."

"Fair enough," James relented. "But I warn you, if anyone so much as looks at them the wrong way, I cannot be blamed for my actions," the pirate promised with a roguish grin. Technically, ex-pirate, but once a pirate, always a pirate.

"You almost sound like you're looking forward to it," she laughed, raising her glass in a silent toast to him. "The thought of you and Peter fighting side by side to defend Lyneth - a little girl who really doesn't need protecting at all, I might add - is hilarious."

He shrugged, neither confirming nor denying his desire to run his sword through a villain or two, if they tried to make trouble for his son or his son's BFF. "What kind of father would I be if I did not defend my own child?" he asked, trying and probably failing to look innocent. His eyes were shining too brightly, the smirk too evident on his lips, even as he tried to hide it with a sip of rum.

"A weedy, weedy wimp," she informed him impishly. One thing he could guarantee from his mischievous wife - Ash rarely took life seriously unless it was absolutely necessary.
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Ashlyn Radcliffe
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Aye, exactly, and we both know that James Radcliffe is no wimp!" he declared vehemently, lifting his glass as if to underscore the point, just as Chewie dropped the chew toy in his lap. He sighed at the dog. "Your timing, as always, is less than perfect," he gently admonished the dog, looking disdainfully at the toy as he took it up between two fingers.

Ash giggled at the little dog's timing, unable to resist reaching down to rub his ears. "One more throw, and then we're being calm," she informed the canine, and nudged James. "He loves you really."

"Aye, sometimes I think he loves me too much," James remarked, though the dog clearly belonged to Peter. He tossed the toy a good distance, wiping his fingers off on his pants as he watched the dog hurry after the toy.

"You're just grumpy because you're his victim of choice for early morning wee-wee patrol," Ash teased her husband fondly.

"It wouldn't be so bad if that's all he wanted to do is wee," James pointed out, but usually, taking Chewie on wee-wee patrol meant waiting while the dog inspected the area, looking for the perfect place to do his business, and then he wanted to play and to eat and to show James how much he loved him. By the time all that was done, the pirate was usually wide awake and on his way to making the first pot of morning coffee.

It wasn't as though James had to do the early morning wee-wee patrol. Ash would do it, but James was quicker at waking up in response to the dog's insistent tugging on the sheets. She grinned at her husband. "Just wait until we take him swimming in a real ocean."

"As opposed to a fake ocean?" James countered with a smirk at his wife's phrasing. "The children have a point about the orphans, you know," he said, circling back to that subject. "But how do you encourage people to adopt?" he asked, seriously. Was it a matter of making people more aware? He was pretty sure most people in Rhy'Din were well aware of the orphan crisis. It was a difficult problem and probably one Rhy'Din had been wrestling with a long time.

"I think you make the orphans more visible," Ash mused. "You get businesses to open their doors to the orphanages, so that the kids without families aren't kept out of sight of the population at large. There shouldn't be any shame attached to being an orphan, and yet they're so often hidden away."

"What about the street urchins?" James said, before taking another sip of his rum. Children in orphanages was one thing, but those who were running wild in the streets was another.

"If life in a home with a family can be made more enticing than a life lived on the streets, the number of urchins might go down," Ash shrugged. "But they are more dependent on the criminal classes who make use of them."

"So, it's a complicated problem," James admitted, realizing there were no easy solutions. If there were, the problem would have been resolved by now. He wondered how people on other worlds had handled similar problems. How had Earth handled it? There had been plenty of orphans and street urchins when he'd been a lad growing up in London, but what was it like there now?

Well, the industrial revolution on Earth and the creation of compulsory schooling had done a lot to get the children off the streets, but Rhy'Din's looser cultural ties made such things almost impossible to attempt. "It's always going to be a complex problem," she agreed. "All we can really do is raise awareness of it."

"Hmph," James grumbled in acknowledgment, but not really in reply. He couldn't argue with her about that, but maybe slow progress was better than no progress at all. "Food for thought, as they say," he said, tossing back the rest of his rum. "Drink up, love. It's time for bed," he told her, though that didn't mean he was ready for sleep.

Ash tilted her head toward him in amusement. "Are you parenting me, James Radcliffe?" she teased impishly.

"Unless you want me to spank you, no. I have other more nefarious plans for you, wench," he replied, waggling his dark brows her way, hinting at what those plans might involve.

"Oooh, that does sound like fun." She giggled, knocking back the contents of her own glass. "Am I the damsel in distress or the wicked piratess tonight, Captain Sexy?"

"Which would you prefer, lass?" he asked, with the curl of a roguish grin. He had no preference really, so long as she was his. Whatever she chose, the result would be the same.

Ash snorted with laughter, uncoiling her legs to heave herself up and onto her bare feet. "You're incorrigible, Jamie," she informed him warmly. "At this rate, we're going to have more babies despite using the unspeakable contraceptive."

"So long as we don't add to the orphan population," he remarked, though that was highly unlikely. He took her glass from her and set both of them aside on a table before moving to his feet and his full height. As far as incorrigible, well, he'd been called worse. "Come along, wench," he said, scooping her up over his shoulder with a small grunt. "I've plans for you," he said, adjusting her weight against his shoulder before starting toward the stairs, with Chewie following at his heels.

Well, there was certainly no doubting that Peter Pan's new family was definitely a loving one.
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