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Moving Forward

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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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9975.12 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:24 am    Post subject: Moving Forward Reply with quote

"Aw, c'mon, peanut ..." Fliss sighed, putting the last box back down on the bed to turn and fold herself down next to Alexei on the floor. Her little brother was vehemently against her moving out, despite the fact that she was only going to be five minutes away. "I'm not going far. And you can come by everyday if you want to."

Broken-hearted as Alexei was that his big sister - whom he obviously idolized - was moving out, he was determined not to cry - at least, not in front of anyone. "But ..." the little boy started, trying to desperately to find a good reason to make her stay. "Who's gonna help me with my homework?" he asked with what was left of his Russian accent.

"I will!" she promised him, tucking her arms around him to look into his eyes. "Honestly, peanut, all this is really going to change is that I won't be sleeping in here with Bella anymore. Sure, I have work at the fire station and my night classes, but Lucas is 'round here or at his mom's nearly every night for dinner, and now I'll be with him when he decides. I'm not going far away, and I'm not disappearing. I promise."

"But what about Bella?" he asked, now that Fliss had mentioned the dog that had become so attached to her over the last few years - anything, really, to convince her to stay. "Are you taking Bella with you?" he asked worriedly, wondering if he'd have to get used to the family dog not being around anymore either. Never mind the fact that the family had numerous other pets.

"Bella's staying here, peanut," Fliss promised him affectionately. "She's Dad's dog, really. And Lir is definitely your dragon, too." She bopped the end of his nose gently. "Look at it this way, little dude ... you get to move in here to the big bedroom, because you're the next oldest."

"But I don't want you to go!" Alexei blurted, practically bursting into tears as he flung himself at Fliss. He had given it his best shot. He had tried to hold back the tears; he had tried to convince her to stay. It wasn't like she was going far away - she was only moving in with Lucas - but who was he going to snuggle up with when the nightmares woke him in the night?

There was a delicate moment as Fliss caught him, careful to fall back onto her own rear end with her brother in her arms. She'd talked to her mom about dealing with this - she couldn't give in, or Alex was never going to learn to accept that change was a part of life. "Hey now, shhh ..." She hugged him close, rocking gently. "What's really bothering you about all this, hmm?"

It took him a moment of sobs and hiccups to control his voice enough that he could make a coherent reply, not to mention gather the courage he needed to explain, though he had never kept anything from Fliss. "Bad dreams," he told her bluntly, not really needing to explain more than that. And it wasn't just bad dreams about his own experiences, but his little sister's, too. He was the eldest son - the only son - and he didn't want to bother his parents with his problems when he was going on nearly nine years old.

She stroked her hand over his hair. "Peanut, it's time you let Mom and Dad know that you're still struggling," she told him quietly. "Keeping things like this a secret, even with good intentions, it just ends up hurting worse. You really think Mom and Dad would ever think badly of you because you still get nightmares now and then? Really?"

"They're busy and ... Mama gets tired and ... I don't want to wake her and ... I'm not a baby and ..." He broke off abruptly as he'd run out of ands. For the most part, Alexei was a happy, well-adjusted child, but one didn't go through what he and the others did without it having some lasting effect. "Are you and Lucas gonna get married?" he asked, curiously.

"Kiddo, I'm not a baby," Fliss pointed out. She was seventeen; Uncle Tony had given her a car; she was definitely not a baby anymore. "When I have problems, I go to Mom and Dad. That's part of what they're there for. And Mom would hate it for you to be struggling all on your own, when you could go and wake her up. Trust me, she would much rather be awake with you than have you be awake and sad on your own. Okay?" She tilted her head, gently wiping his cheeks with her fingers. His question made her smile. "I think maybe we will, someday," she told him quietly. "But we have so much time ahead of us, there's no rush."

Somehow Alexei understood that Fliss was growing up, but it wasn't her growing up that scared him so much as their growing apart. She was going to work and school and spending time with Lucas. Where exactly did he fit into her busy schedule? There would be no more sleepovers in the treehouse, no more blanket forts, no more movie or games nights, or if there were, they wouldn't be the same. Maybe it wasn't so much the nightmares that were bothering him as it was change. "When will we see you?" he asked, bluntly though she'd already answered that question in a way, looking at her with adoring eyes while she wiped his tears away.

Fliss eyed him with gentle amusement. "Okay, peanut, you know what? Let's make a date, just us. Once a week, no matter what, you and me are going to hang out. Sometimes we'll invite Mo and Bess, or Lucas, or even Mom and Dad, but no matter what, it'll be you and me. Sound good?"

"Really?" he asked, eyes widening, face brightening at the prospect of her making time just for him, whether it was just the two of them or the whole family. "Promise?" he asked, holding up his hand and spreading his fingers as he remembered something she'd taught him. "Pinky swear?"

"Absolutely promise." She held up her own hand, hooking her pinky finger around his. "We just gotta pick a day, and I'll make sure I don't have any shifts on that day, so there's nothing that gets in the way. Okay?"

"Okay!" he exclaimed, sniffling his nose and beaming a smile her way before tossing his arms around her neck. "Lyublyu tebya, Fliss," he whispered as he hugged her tight.

"Love you back, teddy bear," she whispered against his ear, squeezing him fondly for as long as he wanted to hold on. "So ... I bet Dad would totally be up for getting ice cream if you tell him how heartbroken you are over me sleeping about fifty meters in that direction from now on."

Alexei laughed at the mention of ice cream, the storm cloud lifting. "Papa always wants ice cream. Mama said if he keeps eating it so much, he will get fat, and then he won't be able to Flame On," he told her with more boyish laughter.

"Knock knock," a decidedly masculine voice interjected. "Did someone say ice cream?" Johnny asked as he poked his head in the door.

Fliss snickered with her little brother, looking up as their dad knocked and looked in through the door. She didn't bother rushing to get up; they'd all known something was going to come to a head with Alex on the big day of the move. "I think my little brother and sisters need a pick me up this afternoon," she informed her father cheerfully, handing Alex up onto his own feet before moving to stand herself.

"Can we, Papa?" Alexei asked as he found his feet, turning those pleading puppy dog eyes on his father. "Pleeeease?" he asked, drawing the word out, as children sometimes did when they wanted something badly.

Johnny looked between Fliss and Alex, wondering what he'd just missed. It was hard to miss the fact that Alex had been crying, and it wasn't hard to figure out why. "It's fine with me, so long as it's okay with your mother," Johnny replied, knowing who wore the pants in the family. "Why don't you go ask her, while I help Fliss with her things?"

Alexei smiled up at his father. "Okay, Papa!" he replied before darting out of the room, his voice heard calling for his mother.

Fliss laughed faintly, watching Alexei out of the room before glancing up at Johnny. She gave him her worst impression of an innocent look. "What?"

"Trying to make him feel better by offering ice cream?" Johnny guessed as he stepped into the room and took a look around, a small frown on his own face. He wondered who was going to miss Fliss more - him or Alexei.

"Little bit, yeah." Fliss tilted her head as she looked up at Johnny. "You do know I'm not going to disappear, right?" she pointed out to her father. "I'm literally less than five minutes away." She laughed faintly. "If you and Alex start crying into your splits, I want Mom to take a picture."
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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yeah, I know, but the house will be quieter without you here," Johnny said, tempted to make all the same arguments Alexei had made, even if he didn't know it, except for the part about nightmares. But Johnny wasn't Alex, and he knew Fliss had to grow up sometime. "I'm proud of you, yanno," he told her drawing her into a hug.

"You'll enjoy the quiet," she predicted, knowing her parents' relationship had suffered a little with the influx of small people into their lives. She leaned into his hug, wrapping her arms around him in return with a small smile. "Means a lot to know that."

It might have suffered a little, but neither Johnny nor Liv would have changed a thing. "Not the first time I've told you that," he said, wrapping her in his unnaturally-warm, fatherly embrace. "You better not be a stranger, or I'll send Maria over to give you a piece of our minds," he teased, knowing she'd do it, too, whether she could speak out loud or not.

Fliss snorted with laughter. "Did you forget we work together, too?" she asked in amusement, drawing back to discreetly wipe her cheeks. Yes, she was only moving a short distance away, and yes, she wanted to, but Johnny and Liv were the first home and family she'd ever had. Of course it hurt a little bit.

"For now," he admitted, knowing her dreams went far beyond that of being a firefighter like her father. He pulled her back to take a better look at her, noticing how she'd wiped her cheeks. "Come on. You're gonna make me cry," he warned her with a smile.

"Who's crying?" she asked defensively, showing him dry eyes and a bright smile. "Besides, if you cry, then Mom'll cry, and that'll set the kids off. So, you know, no crying." She wiggled her finger in front of his nose teasingly.

"I'll save my tears for your wedding, okay?" he asked, assuming she was going to get married someday, whether or not it was to Lucas. "Just ..." he hesitated a moment, turning serious, before going on, reaching over to brush a too-warm finger against her cheek and push a wayward strand of blond hair away from her face. "You know your mom and I will always be here for you, no matter what, right?"

She smiled back at him, a serious sort of smile to match his solemn certainty. "I know," she promised her father fondly. "Really, I do. You're always gonna be my dad, you know? Even when I'm, like, forty, with grown up kids of my own, I'm still going to be asking you for advice on how to do stuff. That's what parents are for."

"I'm not really old enough to be your real dad," Johnny pointed out, not for the first time, mirroring her smile with one of his own, solemn and sad and proud all at once. "But I couldn't be more proud of you if you were of my own flesh and blood," he added. What he was trying to say was that it didn't matter whether she was adopted or not - she was his daughter in every way that was important, and he loved her no less for not being theirs by birth.

"Still my dad, old man," she insisted, nudging his side with her elbow. She paused, looking around the room. It seemed very empty without her personality plastered all over it - the pictures and bric-a-brac she'd accumulated over the last four years tucked into four boxes that held everything she called her own. In a few days, this room would be Alex's, undeniably taken over by the clutter of a small boy who would definitely rejoice in having more space to himself. "Who'd have thought I could fit all my crap into four boxes, huh?"

Johnny smirked. He was hardly an old man, just having turned thirty a few months ago. He wasn't a teenager anymore either, but he was and would probably always be young at heart. "It's not crap, Fliss. All of that stuff? It's what makes you you," Johnny pointed out, sweeping her hair back from her face again. "What do you say we all go for ice cream before Alex loses his patience?"

She laughed, shaking her head again to resettled her hair about her face. She still wasn't comfortable not to have the wheat-gold fall to hide behind. "Well, Lucas isn't home until after six, so sure," she agreed, knowing her boyfriend was getting a second key cut on his way home from work, too. She'd promised not to break in while he was out.

"It's not like you're moving that far away," he said, more for his own benefit than hers. "Are you taking Bella with you?" he asked, unsure how he felt about that. He and Bella had initially chosen each other, but Fliss had clearly become her favorite.

The look Fliss gave him was usually one Liv gave him when he was wavering between being ridiculous and needing a hug. "Of course I'm not," she told her father in amusement. "She's your dog, Dad. Besides, you guys'll need her to keep the kids in line."

"She's like Nana in Peter Pan," Johnny said, smirking in amusement. He wasn't even going to mention that the actual real live Peter Pan had become a friend of Alex and Maria and the other kids at Maple Grove.

Fliss snorted with laughter, turning to pick up the last box from the bed. "C'mon, Captain Darling," she told him. "You get to break it to Mom that everyone's going out for ice cream."

"There's only one Captain in this family," Johnny remarked, reaching over to take the box from her with ease. He might not be as big and strong as Steve Rogers, but he was still capable enough.

Fliss rolled her eyes at his solicitude, but let him take the box, recognising that her dad still needed to be Dad for a little while longer. A thump from outside the bedroom door made her head tilt, moving to open it up and find little Bess - all two years of her - sitting in the middle of the hallway, seriously considering whether her fall onto her padded backside was worth crying over. "What are you doing up here, munchkin?" Fliss asked, bending to hoist her baby sister up onto her hip. "Thought you weren't supposed to be doing stairs yet?"

"Maybe she flew?" Johnny suggested, only half serious. It worried him a little, too, that Bess had somehow managed to find her way up the stairs and to Fliss' door. She did share her father's DNA though, and it was possible she'd been born gifted in some way, too. That still didn't quite explain how she'd managed to find her way there and why no one was watching her. "She's not crawling out of her crib already, is she?" he mused aloud. If that was the case, it was time to start thinking about a bed.

"I bet Mom would rather she was crawling than flying," Fliss chuckled, hefting Bess on her hip as she lead the way to the stairs and started down toward the kitchen, where it sounded as though Alex and Maria were working on Liv to persuade her into an ice cream outing.

"Probably," Johnny said, knowing either could be dangerous for a two-year old, but in different ways. "Sounds like we're going to have to convince your Mom that we won't all die if we spoil our dinner one night," he said, with a wink and a smirk at his eldest.

"I heard that," Liv called to them from the kitchen. She was sitting at the table, her reading glasses lying on top of the household accounts book next to her pen, with Maria sitting on one knee and Alex hugged in close to her side, both chattering at her in their own unique ways. She glanced up as Fliss and Johnny entered, blinking in surprise to see Bess up already. "I thought she was down for a nap?"

"So did I, but we found her waiting for us outside Fliss' door," he explained, reminded of Sweet Pea in the old Popeye cartoons, where the baby just followed everyone around on hands and knees wherever they'd go. "Looks like it's time to think about a bed ... and safety gates."

"I guess so." Liv sighed, glancing between the two children cuddled in close to her with a flicker of a smile. "You know, I don't think I ever stood a chance of winning this conversation, did I? You've been plotting against me again."

"Do you really want to tell this group no?" Johnny asked, knowing she had already lost the battle without a fight. He set the last box of Fliss' possessions down with the others and reached for baby Bess. "What were you doing out of your crib, young lady? You have a lot of explaining to do," he teased, tapping her nose playfully.

"Is it possible to say no without turning myself into the wicked witch?" Liv laughed, shaking her head. "Oh, fine. But if anyone argues about eating their broccoli tonight, I will get the black pen out for the star chart."
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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maria clapped her hands together delightedly as Fliss laughed. "Man, I'm glad that chart doesn't apply to me anymore," she grinned, handing Bess over to Johnny.

Teased by her father, the toddler giggled, flailing her hands for a moment, and sneezed. And in the moment of the sneeze ... she vanished. A split second later, there was a thump from the living room, and yelp from Bella, who had previously been napping in there.

"Too bad she won't let us dip our broccoli in ..." Johnny started, his voice trailing off with a yelp of his own as little Bess disappeared into thin air. "What the ..." he murmured, breaking off before he swore. "Bess?" he called, hearing the thump in the living room and the yelp from Bella and moving that way, his heart racing with panic.

"She's with Bella, Papa," Alexei informed his father, often two steps ahead of his parents due to his own telepathic gifts.

Liv was already up and out of her seat, her face pale with shock at the sight of their youngest physically disappearing in front of them. Maria had gripped her firmly around the hips, trying to keep her calm.

Fliss, on the other hand, seemed to take it in stride. "Well ... that's new."

Alexei, too, seemed to take it in stride, but then, he and Maria had already witnessed the weirdest of the weird and were learning how to control their own gifts. Johnny was right behind Liv, both of them in a panic over their baby girl's newly-emerging talents. "Thank God," he whispered, with a relieved sigh of breath to find Bess right there beside Bella.

The toddler lifted her head to look up at them, confused but smiling as Liv bent to pick her up. "That is not going to be a fun thing to deal with," Liv mused, kissing the baby girl's head fondly. "If that's what just a sneeze does, I don't want to know what proper being sick does to you, little miss!"

"I'm not sure I understand what just happened here," Johnny said, frowning and looking both puzzled and concerned. Was Bess' teleportation just a random event that had been triggered by a sneeze or was this something they were going to have to look forward to on a regular basis?

Liv tilted her head to look up at him, trying not to show her intense concern, though she knew Maria could feel it and had likely already passed it on the Alexei. "Love, how am I supposed to explain it?" she asked as gently as she could manage. "This is out of my league. You all have gifts that are out of my league."

Johnny had a feeling Bess was going to show some sort of talent as she got older - just as his nephew Franklin was doing - but he hadn't expected it to happen so soon.

"Papa," Alexei interrupted as the children caught up with them. "She only went a little way, and Bella was there," he pointed out.

Trying to keep a lid on her urge to panic, Liv looked down at Alex and Maria. "So you think she's sort of aiming herself for people she knows?" she asked. Perhaps other parents wouldn't have asked their children such a question, but in this house, Liv was definitely outnumbered. She was only human, after all.

"Da," Alex confirmed with a nod of his head, looking to Maria for input with a mental nudge. After all, he might be telepathic, but she was the empath, and it was a lot easier for her to sort out what was going on in Bess' head.

Maria was frowning as she concentrated, finally lifting her hands to take hold of Bess' flailing fingers. Contact always seemed to help her make sense of her baby sister. The silent Storm held on while her family watched, finally letting go to raise her fingers and try to make sense of what she thought she knew through sign. "Bess did not know what she did, and she was scared, and when she is scared, she wants people she knows. Also, she did it before, when Papa and Fliss brought her downstairs."

Johnny was frowning further. All of that made sense, but how in the world were they going to keep track of her if she did it again without their knowledge? "Maybe we should talk to Luce," he suggested. "Or Zach," he added, as an afterthought.

"Zach is more likely to be able to help," Liv nodded, reaching down to stroke Maria's hair, raising a smile for Alex. "Thank you, darlings. I'm sorry I panicked; I'll try not to do it again."

In the doorway, Fliss was smiling to herself. Trust Bess to make her eldest sister's last day in the family home interesting.

"Maybe she's getting a cold," Johnny mused further, laying a hand against the toddler's forehead, though with his unnaturally higher temperature, it was impossible for him to tell if she was running a fever. If that was the case, should they hold off on their trip out for ice cream? Why was having children always fraught with such worry?

Alex looked a little confused as to what all the fuss was about. After all, Bess wasn't the only one in the family with special abilities. "Papa," Alex interrupted again, with a tug at his father's sleeve. "Maybe Maria and I can help."

Johnny arched a brow at Alex, appreciating the offer, but seeing a small flaw in his son's logic. "Not when you're away at school," he pointed out.

"She is due another snuffle," Liv conceded, setting Bess into Johnny's arms to give her attention to the other two smalls. "You know what? You two can definitely help when you're home," she assured them. "But I think we should ask Zach if he can work out what's going on before we start trying to make plans. It might be as simple as just keeping a close eye on her for the time being, after all."

"Okay, Mama!" Alexei replied with an agreeable smile. After all, it was his parents' job to sort things out, not their children's. "But can we still go for ice cream?" he asked, with the one-track mind of any normal nine-year old.

It was times like these when Liv's rarely displayed stubbornness came to the fore. She might be out of her depth, she might be struggling to control a small amount of panic, but she'd already made a promise, and she was going to keep it. "Yes, of course we can, love," she assured Alex. "So ... shoes, coats! Hippity hoppity, make like a bunny!"

Alex whooped loud enough for both him and Maria, snagging his sister's hand and hurrying off to find their coats and shoes, leaving Johnny behind to worriedly contemplate baby Bess.

"You know freaking out about it isn't going to change that it's happening," Fliss pointed out from the doorway, mildly smug that this was not her problem anymore.

Liv rolled her eyes at their eldest. "I can still ground you," she warned in amusement.

Fliss flashed her an innocent grin.

"That would be hard to enforce," Johnny remarked, amused by Liv's threat despite his worry. "If she sneezes in the ice cream parlor, people are bound to notice," he pointed out.

Liv frowned. "But this is Rhy'Din, and everyone she knows will either be in the parlor with her, or back here in Lucy's house," she pointed out. "We can handle this."

"Geez, I hope she doesn't teleport that far!" Johnny said, that worried frown still on his face, though he really didn't think she would, when she had only just started showing signs of her new-found ability.

"Johnny ..." Liv laid a hand on his arm, holding his gaze sternly. "We can handle this," she repeated, hoping she wouldn't have to remind him aloud of their middle daughter's uncanny ability to pick up on, and match, the mood of her parents.

Johnny met Liv's gaze for a moment and nodded. "I know. It'll be okay. We'll figure it out together," he assured her, leaning in to brush a brief kiss to her lips. It wasn't anything Fliss hadn't seen before.

"At least she isn't bursting into flames, right?" Fliss offered brightly, leaning back to take her coat from Maria as her brother and sister returned. "So, guys ... two cars or one, and if it's two, who's coming with me?"

"There's a silver lining in there somewhere," Johnny admitted, thankful Liv and Fliss were there to talk him down from his anxieties. "You know, Sue told me Frankie has been exhibiting some, er ... strange abilities," he said, as he took Bess' coat from Alex and started getting their youngest into it.
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Adult Wyrm
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Really?" Liv's brows rose as she crouched to help Maria and Alex settle their buttons and toggles. "Nice of her to warn us before time."

"She mentioned it, but, uh ..." Johnny frowned a little, blaming himself as always. "I really didn't think much of it. I mean, Bess is only two, and Franklin didn't start exhibiting any abilities until recently."

"I know." Liv smiled faintly. "You know what I'm like with surprises. I promise, I'm not going to march into New York and yell at your sister. For a start, she could squash me like a bug."

Maria patted her hand affectionately. "Like a butterfly," the little girl corrected with flickering fingers. "You're not a bug, Mom."

Johnny was frowning again at Liv's inference that she was less than worthy just because she was human and not possessed of any special powers. They'd had this conversation before, but it wasn't one he wanted to have in front of their children. "No, you're not a bug or a butterfly. You're a very special woman who we all love very much. Right, guys?" he asked, pulling them all into a group hug. It was another way of squishing Liv, but a much better one.

Caught in the middle as the five closest members of her family piled in for a hug, Liv laughed helplessly, arms pinned to her sides. She tipped her head back, meeting Johnny's eyes with one raised brow. "You did that on purpose," she laughed.

"Guilty as charged," Johnny replied with a grin. He smooched her cheek a little too noisily, as the children hugged her close. "Okay, guys! It's time for ice cream. Alex and Maria, you're with Fliss. Liv and Bess are with me," he said, deciding for them, somehow knowing Alex and Maria would prefer to drive with their sister, even if they didn't say so.

"Right, c'mon, Monster One and Monster Two," Fliss announced, jangling her keys like some kind of high tech Pied Piper. "Both in the backseat, because I'm not doing the shotgun argument."

Liv snorted with laughter as their eldest took charge, sighing faintly. "Sometimes it scares me how good she is with kids," she murmured. "I'm going to be the youngest grandmother we know."

"Gods, they aren't even married yet!" Johnny pointed out, with a look of shock on his face at the very idea their oldest might be having premarital sex with her boyfriend. And they were letting her move in with Lucas because why?

"Sparky, cast your mind back to the day I moved in with you," she suggested with a cheeky glimmer in her eyes. "Remember what happened the morning after? And they've known each other much longer than we had at the time."

"And we were also at least ten years older," he countered. There, let's see what she says to that, he thought with a smug grin, as they started toward the door, Bess on one hip. Bella made herself known, barking once and following along, tail wagging happily.

"Seven years, in my case," Liv pointed out in amusement, catching Bella's leash before the beautiful dog could dash out and try bouncing into Fliss' car with her. "Also ... you were my first boyfriend. So I think she's following a very good example, personally."

"Give or take," Johnny said with a shrug, having estimated the age difference. "Do you think they'll get married?" he asked curiously, waiting near the door for her and Bella to catch up.

"To be honest, I can't see them breaking up without something catastrophic happening, can you?" Liv pointed out, ruffling Bella's fur as they caught up to Johnny and Bess. "And you could be a bridesmaid before you even know how to walk without falling over!"

"A teleporting bridesmaid," Johnny corrected, though it was more likely Bess might be a flower girl. He might have remarked on how he didn't want them to rush into anything, but then he and Liv hadn't waited too long before they'd been married. Then again, they'd been much older at the time, too.

"Stop worrying so much about what might happen at some point in the future," Liv suggested, locking the door behind them. "Right now, she's just moving in with her boyfriend, who we know very well, and who lives less than five minutes away. I'm not going to ask her about sex unless she brings it up, and neither are you. She's seventeen, love."

"I don't want to know," Johnny admitted with a wince. In all truth, he didn't even want to think about their daughter having sex, even if he was fond of Lucas. It kind of weirded him out. "You realize we're likely to have children around the same age as our grandchildren," he mused aloud, though he didn't really see them having any more kids just yet, if ever.

"Are you making plans for my womb, Mr. Storm?" she asked in amusement, opening up the back of the car to usher Bella inside. Fliss' Audi had already disappeared, proof that she and the kids were going the long way to meet them at the ice cream parlor they liked best.

"I wouldn't mind having one more," he replied with a smirk and a shrug, before going around to the other side of the car to get Bess into her car seat. He paused a moment as a thought came to mind. "You don't think ..." he started, almost afraid to finish that thought. What if she sneezed while they were driving?

Liv froze, catching his eye with a warning look. "Don't even think about it," she told him. "I do not need that level of stress in my life, Jonathan Storm."

"Yes, dear," he replied obediently, as he strapped Bess into her car seat. He privately wondered if maybe he should sit in the back, but if Fliss' theory was right and Bess only poofed close by and where there were people she knew and trusted, it was likely, she'd only go as far as his lap. It was a good thing the ice cream parlor wasn't too far.

Closing up the back with Bella secured, Liv moved to the driver's side, taking charge of the vehicle for once. She didn't want to think about what would happen if Bess poofed while she was driving; she didn't want to imagine all the awful ways their baby girl could die horribly if this newfound gift of hers triggered at the wrong moment. The thoughts were there, of course, but Liv was doing her damnedest to keep them under control. Alex and Maria did not deserve to share in their parents' freaking out over something beyond everyone's control.

"It'll be okay, Liv," Johnny assured her gently with a soft smile as he climbed into the passenger seat. Even if Bess did manage to teleport, it was unlikely she'd go far. At least, he hoped so.

"I hope so," she sighed, pulling her belt on and starting the engine. "The kids do not need me freaking out all day every day about this."

"Do you want me to call Lucy?" Johnny asked, once he was buckled in. They could stop by later and let her have a look at the little patient, if it would make Liv feel better.

"Maybe later?" Liv didn't like having to call in her sister, but Lucy knew best, of all of them, how to isolate and understand the enhanced genes that made most of their family so extraordinary.

"You know, all of our abilities have only helped us survive and made us stronger," he reasoned, even when it came to the abilities that had been forced on Alex and Maria. "Bess was born this way, just like Franklin. She has to instinctively know how to protect herself. Like ... like when you toss babies into a pool. They instinctively know how to swim," he reasoned.

There was a long pause. Then ... "Johnny," Liv said carefully, "have you been tossing Bess into the pool without telling me again?"

"No!" Johnny replied with a chuckle. "Of course not. That's not the point, though. The point is that ... Think of it this way. Have I ever gotten burned? Has Alex ever dropped anything on himself? Has Fliss ever ... Okay, forget Fliss. Bad example, but even Fliss has never hurt herself with her own powers."

"Maria struggles with everyone else's feelings an awful lot," Liv pointed out. "But I get it, I do. Something that affects you physically, it doesn't seem to do damage or allow damage to you. It's not going to stop me from worrying, though."
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Me either, but ... It seems like there's a safety valve of some sort built into our abilities, you know?" he ventured further. "Like ... maybe she can teleport, but for now, she can only teleport to familiar people and places." It didn't seem likely someone could teleport at random to some place they'd never been, after all.

"That's something, at least," she conceded. "I'm sorry, love. I just ... I'm so out of my depth when it comes to everyone's amazing abilities. I'm just me, you know? Just a bog-standard, nothing special human, surrounded by extraordinary people every day."

"Stop it, Liv. There's more important things than having special abilities," he reminded her. It wasn't the first time they'd had this conversation, after all. "Do you think I love you any less because of that? I was an ordinary human once too, you know."

She stilled, shutting her mouth on anything else that wanted to come out. The last thing Liv ever wanted to do was upset her family with her own insecurities, and she had promised him when they'd first gotten engaged that she would try not to let her worries sabotage their relationship. "Sorry."

"You don't have to apologize, baby. And you don't have to shut up either. I just ..." He sighed, worried he hadn't explained himself very well. "Do you have any idea how much we love you? How much we need you? Besides ..." he started, smiling a little to try and cheer her up. "Weren't you once known as the World's Best P.A.? Now you're the world's best Mom. That's gotta count for something." Not to mention sister, friend, lover, and wife.

Liv actually squirmed under the praise. "Johnny ... sweetheart, I, I wasn't looking to be praised or told how special I am," she tried to explain herself, worried that she was making things worse. "I just ... I love you. I love our kids. I love our crazy family. But I'm allowed to feel second-rate sometimes, especially now our two-year-old has some kind of stunning ability that means I'm never going to be able to keep up with her. Let me freak a little bit. It won't last. I promise."

Johnny frowned again. He'd only been trying to make her feel better with his praise. The only ones of them born with their abilities were Fliss and Bess - the rest of them had been born just as ordinary as Liv, though it could be argued that Alex and Maria might have had innate abilities that hadn't come out until they'd been enhanced by an experimental serum. "Okay," he said, agreeably, though he still felt bad about it. As far as he was concerned, no one was as special as Liv, with or without superhuman abilities.

She sighed softly. "I'm sorry," she apologised. "I know I'm insecure, and I know it annoys you, however much you try and tell me it doesn't. But I am better with it these days. I just don't do well with surprises, and this was a surprise. I'll handle it, Johnny. I promise you I will."

"I'm not annoyed," he insisted. Annoyed wasn't quite the word he'd use to describe his feelings at the moment. "I worry, too, Liv," he reminded her. "We're in this together. Being a ... whatever I am ... doesn't make me worry less."

"I know." She reached over to squeeze his hand gently. "So we'll worry together. Quietly. When the kids are asleep." She flashed him a faint smile - proof positive that Liv, for all her faults, was definitely better with her insecurities these days.

He smiled back at her, knowing this was why he'd fallen in love with her in the first place. "Agreed, but uh ..." He chuckled. "Both hands on the wheel," he reminded her.

She snorted with laughter, a giggle that got louder when, from the back seat, a tiny voice agreed with him. "Bo'han'wee, Mumma!"

"All right, all right," Liv chuckled. "You two are riding me today!"

"Listen to your daughter, Mama," Johnny teased, when little Bess echoed her father's warning. Thanks to her, they were laughing again, just in time for their rendezvous with the rest of their children.

When they pulled up outside the parlor, Fliss had both her siblings sat on the roof of her car with her, more proof that Uncle Tony had done some serious modifications to make the vehicle even safer than it was commercially before handing it over. Maria waved both hands at them as Liv pulled in to park.

Johnny turned to Liv, one last time before they were inundated with overly-excited children. "I love you, Mrs. Storm, and don't you ever forget it," he told her, leaning over to steal a kiss.

Smiling lips touched his as she leaned into that kiss. "How could I ever forget that, Mr. Storm?" she murmured. "You're my number one fella."

"I better be," he replied with a grin. There were a few other men in her life, including a brother, a brother-in-law, and a son, but there was only one Johnny.

"Do we need to re-enact the wedding night again, Mr. Storm?" she asked impishly, laughing as Bella barked from the back. "I think the fur-baby wants out."

"The fur-baby wants her fair share of ice cream," Johnny pointed out with a chuckle. "All right. Are my girls all ready for ice cream?" he asked, turning to look at baby Bess.

"Eyes squee!" Bess threw her hands up, showing off her proud accomplishment of exactly one full front tooth.

Liv chuckled, unbuckling her belt. "Okay, trouble makers, out we get!"

"Hey, who you calling trouble makers?" Johnny said with a chuckle. He'd been called a lot worse, but it had been a long time since he'd gotten himself in any real trouble. He unbuckled and stepped out, looking around a moment to see who got there first.

The Audi was parked a little distance away, the three occupants sitting on the roof and waving at him as he looked around. Liv snorted with laughter as she, too, slipped from the car. "You want the baby or the fur baby?"

"One is as messy as the other!" he remarked, chuckling again. He really had no preference, able to handle one as easily as the other. "Lady's choice," he said, letting her take her pick.

"Oh, well, in that case ..." Laughing, she opened up the back. "C'mon, Bella! Let's go and get your Fliss and Alex and Mo!" The beautiful dog let out a joyful bark and loped down from the car, pausing just long enough for Liv to get a good grip on the leash before lurching off toward the Audi at speed. With Liv staggering along behind, only just upright.

Johnny chuckled at the sight of Bella tugging Liv along behind her, rather than the other way around, but it didn't surprise him. In that moment, he felt his heart swell with pride and joy and more love than he had ever imagined possible for this little crazy quilt of a family he and Liv had put together. Coming to Rhy'Din had been the best thing he'd ever done, not because it gave him purpose, but because it had given him Liv.

If he'd asked his wife, he would probably have been surprised to learn that she felt the same way about him. Not that there was much opportunity for those sorts of questions when there was ice cream to be had. They were regulars at this particular parlor - a rowdy sort of bunch, but fun to have around for a little while once a week or so. Today's little outing was ever so slightly subdued, thanks to the knowledge that Fliss wasn't going to be at home with them tonight, but at least there were no tears. That is, no tears until they got back to Willow Manor and Fliss had loaded up her car. Then Maria exploded with silent sobs, clinging to her big sister's neck tightly as though she never wanted to let go.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To his credit, Alex was being brave now, for his little sister's sake, but even he couldn't console her, so it was Dad to the rescue again, kneeling down in front of Maria and turning her to face him. "Sweetheart, Fliss isn't leaving us forever, and she's only moving in with Lucas. We see Lucas almost every day, just like we're going to see Fliss. Nothing is changing. She just won't be sleeping here anymore. That's all," he tried to explain. There was, of course, more to it than that. Fliss wouldn't be there for dinner every night or to help with homework, but it was time they let Fliss grow up and make a life of her own.

The pretty little face in front of Johnny was wibbly with tears, little hands flickering unhappily. "But I will miss her."

Behind her, Fliss winced, swallowing hard as she looked away, absentmindedly hugging Alex for something, anything, to do so she wouldn't join in the crying.

"I know, sweetheart," he told her gently, thankfully not crying himself. "But we have to be brave and let Fliss grow up. She can't stay here forever. She needs to grow up and figure out what she wants to do with her life, and she can't do that if we keep her here forever. We want her to be happy, right? Sometimes that means letting go of people a little, but that doesn't mean we're losing her. It just means she's becoming an adult. Do you understand?"

Reluctantly, Maria nodded, rubbing her nose as she sniffled.

"Besides, little miss, I gotta come back tomorrow to help you guys with dinner, right?" Fliss pointed out. "You really think I'm just gonna abandon the chore chart before you get a chance to rewrite it?"

Johnny smiled as Fliss added to her own defense. "We're always gonna be a family," he assured them all, looking from one child to the other, youngest to oldest. "We're always gonna have each other. Nothing is ever gonna change that, okay?" he asked, opening his arms to draw all three of them in for a hug.

"Damn straight," Fliss agreed, wrapping Alex and Maria close as Johnny enveloped all three of them. "Nothing's ever gonna change that I'm your big sis, okay, guys? Always on the end of the phone and if you ever really need me, I'm right there, no matter what."

Johnny smirked, not bothering to correct Fliss' language, which she probably picked up from him anyway. Now that they'd had their ice cream and said their farewells, they were just delaying the inevitable. "There? See?" he asked, brushing the tears from Maria's face with gentle, too-warm fingers. "Not going anywhere. Just moving in with Lucas."

Convinced, however reluctantly, Maria nodded, clinging to Alex's hand as Fliss bent to kiss them both fondly.

"I'll call you at bedtime tonight, okay?" she promised, hoping to ease the transition a bit.

Alex nodded, giving Maria's hand a reassuring squeeze. No matter how sad he was about Fliss' leaving, he was determined to be brave for Maria.

"Is Lucas coming by to pick you up or are you heading over there alone?" Johnny asked, though it was a short walk to where they'd be living. He could practically see it from there.

"I'm taking the car over," Fliss told him, reaching up to hug her father fondly. "All my stuff's in the back. No dropping by without calling first," she added impishly.

Behind him, Liv snorted wth quiet laughter.

"That's not really fair, Fliss," Johnny scolded as he hugged her back, considering she was more than welcome to drop by unexpectedly. He thought it only fair it worked the same the other way around, but he also understood their need for privacy.

The girl laughed as she stepped back, leaning into Liv for a moment to kiss her cheek and tweak Bess' nose. "We'll work out what works, Daddy," she promised. "So, I guess I'm off, then. See you guys, tomorrow."

Johnny stopped himself from hugging her again, from clinging like a lost puppy dog. Why did it feel like his heart was breaking, even after he'd assured Maria and Alex that Fliss wasn't going far? Why did he feel like he was losing her, too? She wasn't his little girl anymore - she belonged to Lucas now. But he did his best to smile and wave and look cheerful for all their sakes. Just her calling him "Daddy" tugged at his heartstrings, but he knew in his heart, he had to let her go.

"See you, baby girl. Make us proud," he told her, a little too quietly for her to hear. Anyway, he was already proud.

As the car pulled away, Liv looked at her collection of forlorn faces, pushing her own sense of loss to one side in favor of cheering them up again. "You all looked like someone kicked your favorite puppy," she informed them in amusement. "So, since we're going to mope all evening ... I say pizza, games, and a movie. How's that?"

The three of them nodded, usually excited at the prospect of pizza. It was Alexei who spoke first, looking up at his mother with sad, trusting eyes. "Pizza, games, and a movie?" he asked, wide eyed. And they'd just had ice cream - all in one day?

Liv shrugged, smiling. "Everyone deserves a really junky day every now and then," she told them. "So ... in exchange for this amazing treat I just now decided on, you guys should tidy the living room for me so we have plenty of space, right?"

"Okay, Mama!" Alex agreed obediently, grabbing hold of Maria's hand to tug her along with him. He missed Fliss as much as anyone, but he still had a family who loved him, and he couldn't have asked for more than that.

Johnny was quietly watching as Fliss' car disappeared over a small green hill on its way to the main house, only a short walk away.

Liv's hand gently touched his back. "They never really leave, you know," she said softly. "She isn't walking away; she's just found her own path."

"I know," Johnny said, sniffling suspiciously a little, Liv's voice drawing him back from his thoughts. He knew there were three other little people who needed him, not to mention a wife and a growing number of pets. "Seems kinda silly to miss her so much when she's right over there," he mused aloud.

"But she's not going to be in the same house," Liv said gently. "It's a change, love. It just takes time to get used to it. When Lucy first moved away from me, I was heartbroken, but it didn't destroy our relationship. It helped me not to take her for granted."

"I know. And I'm gonna see her everyday. I know that. I'm just gonna miss her. That's all," he said, though she knew that already. He knew it was likely she was going to miss her, too. "Our baby's all grown up," he said, turning to face her, a sad, but proud smile on his face, tears blurring his vision. Even though they hadn't raised her from birth, he couldn't have loved her any less.

With Bess on her hip, she didn't have both hands to hug him with, tucking one arm about his waist as he turned to her, instead. "And you know what? If we hadn't met her, taken her in, she wouldn't be moving in with her boyfriend today. She wouldn't have graduated last year; she wouldn't have a job and a plan for the future. We helped her do that."

"I know," he replied, his smile widening. He didn't like to take any credit for the way Fliss had turned out, but Liv was right. "I'm proud of her. I hope Lucas knows how lucky he is to have her," he added.

Liv smiled, rising onto her toes to kiss his cheek. "Oh, I think we can rely on him not to look a gift horse in the mouth."

He chuckled at the way she put it. "He better never think of her that way, or he'll have to deal with me," he said, though he doubted it. Lucas didn't have to tell him to know how much Fliss meant to him.

"Oh, yes, I remember now." Liv nodded with sage teasing in her eyes. "You don't like the idea of Lucas riding Fliss like a present wrapped up with a big bow."

"Bite your tongue, woman. I'd prefer to think of them snuggling on the couch," he said, tapping a finger against her lips to silence her, before leaning in to silence her with a kiss instead. But at least, he was smiling again. "Okay, well ... We have three other rugrats who need our attention, so what do you say we go argue over what we want on our pizza?" he asked, grinning.

She laughed, hugging into him as Bess giggled along, clueless as to what was so funny. "That sounds like the perfect plan, Sparky."
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a testament to their love and devotion to both each other and their children that a day that could have easily ended in tears would end with smiles and laughter. Maybe it was cliched, but in reality, they weren't losing a daughter so much as gaining a son, as a short distance away, a young man stood waiting to welcome Fliss into his arms and his life and his home. Lucas wasn't trying to take her away from her family so much as offering her a chance to start a life of their own.

Fliss climbed out of her car and straight into Lucas' arms, hugging him tight for a long moment as she sighed. "Man, I thought for a second there they were gonna lock me in a closet and throw away the key."

Lucas was a little surprised by her greeting, opening his arms to her embrace, his wings folded neatly and practically unnoticed against his back. He furrowed his brows in concern as she hugged him tight. "You okay?" He knew how close she was to her family and how much they meant to her.

She nodded, drawing back with a smile that was only a little sad. "I'm good," she promised him affectionately. "I just ... the kids and Dad, they were kind of upset. It rubbed off a little, that's all."

"They love you," Lucas pointed out, though he was sure she knew that much already. "But we're only across the way," he added with a smile, knowing she'd miss them, too, even if she didn't want to admit it.

"I know. And I want to do this." Fliss smiled, bouncing up to kiss the tip of his nose. "I'm good, really. Wanna help me unpack my pitiful crap from the car?"

"Sure, I'll help you unpack your pitiful crap," he echoed with a grin, kissing her back. He'd spent the better part of the day scrubbing and cleaning the apartment and he had even bought her some flowers to brighten the place up.

Four boxes didn't seem like much, and to be fair, it was mostly clothing. But the next time they moved, it would be their belongings, not her crap, and that was a feeling that definitely buoyed her up. "So what did your mom say when you told her I was moving in here?"

"She said it was about time and then lectured me about birth control," he replied with a chuckle, as he looked to the meager pile of boxes she'd shoved in her car. "Which is the heaviest?" he asked, gallantly.

Fliss laughed. "You're kidding, right? Aunt Lucy gave me the same talk, literally seconds after putting the implant in my arm." She gestured to the smallest of the boxes. "That's the heaviest - pictures and stuff. Pretty much everything else is clothes. I was gonna put it all in black bags, but Mom got involved, and suddenly there were boxes."

"Why is everyone acting like you're moving to another planet?" Lucas asked, chuckling a little at her story, but confused, too. His mother didn't seem to mind so much that he had moved out or that Fliss was moving in, but it hadn't occurred to him that maybe that was because he was a son and not a daughter.

She chuckled, shaking her head as she stacked two boxes, one on top of the other. "I have no idea," she grinned. "At least I only had to promise one day a week to Alex to cheer him up. The peanut was sobbing on my floor while I was packing."

"Oh," Lucas said, frowning and feeling just a little bit guilty, but what were they supposed to do? Live the rest of their lives with their parents and siblings just because they'd be missed? Maybe it had something to do with the Storms all being orphans - all except for Bess who was too small to know what was going on yet. His mother certainly hadn't made a fuss and had even encouraged him to go to Rhy'Din, but his situation had been very different from Fliss'. "I don't mind if you spend time with them, you know," he pointed out. This wasn't about taking her away from her family, so much as them being together.

"I know," she assured him. "But this is good for them. It's change, but it's not a bad change. It's just going to be different, and they have to learn that change isn't always a bad thing. Don't worry so much, okay?"

"I'm not worried. I just feel a little guilty. That's all," he admitted, trying hard to be honest with Fliss, despite his own insecurities and tendencies to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. "I know your family loves you, but they have to let you go sometime."

"I feel a little guilty about it too," she confessed. "And they are letting go, slowly. I mean, we already pushed this back four months so they could get their heads around it. But this is what I want, Lucas. I want to live with you, start really building a life together. So yeah, there's a little guilt. But it's totally outweighed by everything positive."

"And they'll get used to it," he added with a smile, encouraged by everything she was telling him. They might be young, but they knew what they wanted, and they wanted to be together. He didn't see that changing, at least, as far as he was concerned. "So, let's get your stuff inside. I've got a little surprise," he told her, with a hint of mischief in his expression.

"Oh, really?" Her grin was teasing as she set the boxes on the ground to close up her car before picking them up again. "Did you cook, or are you wearing lacy panties?"

"Are those your only guesses because I am definitely not wearing lacy panties," he replied, laughing as he picked up the other two boxes - one of them the one she had indicated was the heaviest.

"You ... ooh, you bought a chest of drawers so my panties won't be all over the apartment?" she hazarded another guess, though given that they'd been planning this for a while and Lucas was always prepared, that was likely not the surprise.

"No, silly girl," he replied, with another chuckle. "But I could if you want me to," he added. He had an income now and was saving for something special, though he hadn't told her that.

Fliss snickered softly as they mounted the steps up to the front door. "If we need more storage space, I can buy it," she reminded him. "I have a job and and everything, remember?"

"I think we'll be okay. I cleaned out a couple of drawers and part of the closet for you," he confessed proudly. He had never been much of a clothes horse himself, so it wasn't too hard to make room for her, despite the small size of the apartment.

Of course, it helped that her belongings had been making their way over here in dribs and drabs for the last few months. Her laptop already lived with Lucas, as did her course notes for her psych classes, mainly because no vital homework papers were safe in a house with a telekinetic small boy who enjoyed pranks.

There was only one flight of stairs to climb to get to the apartment that Caroline once occupied over the garage near the main house, which was a good thing since that box he was carrying was heavier than it looked. Once inside, he set the boxes down on the floor, the smell of food cooking greeting them at the door.

"You did cook!" Fliss laughed happily, setting her boxes down on top of his to spin about and kiss his cheek enthusiastically. "I am so good at this! Well, twenty-five percent good. Wait, is a third twenty-five percent or thirty-three percent? Math isn't my thing."

"Twenty-five percent is a fourth," he corrected her, laughing as she rewarded him with a kiss, albeit on the cheek. "Would you have preferred I was wearing lacy panties?" he teased with a smirk. The timid boy who'd left home to hide the fact that he wasn't entirely human had certainly grown more comfortable in his skin these past few years, especially when it came to Fliss.

"Only if you do a striptease for me later." She winked at him, almost giddy with the sudden realization that she was home. This was home now. It was exhilarating enough a thought to make her boogie for a moment in the middle of the room.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Just the wings, huh?" he asked, with a smirk. That was something he could never remove, whether he wanted to or not. It had taken some time, but he was finally starting to get used to the idea. Dinner wasn't the only surprise he had for her, but one thing at a time. "I hope you like lasagna," he said, hinting at what it was he had cooking.

"I love your wings," she promised him affectionately, stroking one of those limbs with wriggling fingers. "I love you more, though. And oh my god, this is our home! It's so exciting!" Siezing his hands, she pulled him into her excited dance for a moment. "Boyfriend-made lasagna in our home, I'm so psyched!"

He stifled a shudder as she stroked his wings, wondering if she had any idea what that simple touch did to him. "It's just an apartment, Fliss," Lucas pointed out, laughing as she pulled him into a dance about their modest dwelling.

"Missing the point," she laughed, twirling under his arm. "It's our apartment. Look at us, doing the grown up stuff together! Oooh, does this mean we should get his and hers soap?" This being Fliss, there was no way in hell she was serious about that.

He laughed again, unable to remain sober in the presence of her silliness. Maybe that was what made this work - his serious side balanced out her silly side and vice versa. But whatever it was, she had him laughing further. "So long as I don't go to work smelling like a girl, I think we can manage."

"Baby, we're living together now," she reminded him gleefully. "You can't avoid smelling like me forever." Grinning, she crowded in close, tilting her head back to meet his eyes. "You're happy about this, right? I'm not rushing you or anything?"

The thought of her scent lingering while he was away from her didn't bother him. He just didn't want to go to work smelling like lavender or roses. "Yes, of course I am," he said, sliding his arms around her waist. He had dreamed of nothing but being with her for months, but he would be even happier when he made her his wife. "Just because I'm not jumping around like a madman doesn't mean I'm not happy, Fliss."

"I know, I just ... you know I get all effusive and weird, and sometimes you seem a little embarrassed by it," she pointed out fondly. "Which is cool, especially when I do it in public. Because that old lady on the beach definitely needed you to rescue her from me, absolutely."

He laughed again. "Fliss, there's no one here to get embarrassed in front of," he pointed out, amused not only by that particular memory but by her insistence that she embarrassed him. "Well, I don't think she really wanted to watch us skinny dip right in front of her, do you?"

She giggled. "You know, you should be really glad I didn't invite her to come skinny dipping with us," she teased wickedly. There was a pause as she sniffed the air. "You know, that smells about done. Is there anything you want help doing?"

"Nope," he replied. "Everything's ready. All that's left to do is eat." Of course, there was the matter of the dishes, but that wasn't until after dinner. "Let's just hope it's edible," he said, keeping his fingers crossed mentally. Was it strange to think that while Fliss' family was having takeout pizza, Lucas had gone to the trouble to cook a proper meal?

Start as you mean to go on. They were both on low salaries, and saving so they could scrape their way through their respective training, though Fliss' would take longer than Lucas' would. Cooking was definitely cheaper than takeout. Clapping her hands, Fliss squeaked happily, skipping over to the table. "You sure? You don't want me to lay the table, or stand in the corner looking attractive yet also half-starved?"

"Lay the table?" he echoed, laughing at the way she had phrased that. "You can lay me later, if you want," he teased, thankfully not blushing for once. Yes, he was definitely getting more comfortable being himself in Fliss' presence.

"Ooh, you temptress." Yes, they had crossed that line together, and no, Fliss hadn't told her mother. But it had been Johnny's advice on handling her flame that had allowed it to happen. "Okay, I'll just go and sit down, and try not to get too excited about the later part."

"Sex and lasagna don't really mix," Lucas pointed out with a smirk as he moved over to the oven. Grabbing a potholder, he bent over, carefully making sure his wings were well out of the way, and pulled the pan of lasagne from the oven.

She giggled, sliding into a seat at the tiny table that was tucked into the corner of the kitchen. It was a very small apartment, but it suited them. "So ... you don't want me to paint you with scalding hot cheese and sprinkle you with oregano, then?"

There was that laugh again. "Um, no, I think that might be painful, but if you want, you can lick tomato sauce off me later," he said, hardly believing his own cheekiness, but that's the effect she had on him sometimes.

"You really think you need condiments to be extra tasty to me?" There was a very brief pause. "Okay, that just sounded creepy and kinda cannibalistic."

"I've heard whipped cream can be fun," he said, as he set the pan of lasagna on the stove and reached for a plate. Young as they were, they had only just started exploring the birds and the bees.

"Heard, huh?" Resting her chin on her hands, Fliss grinned over at him, blatantly admiring the view he presented as he served up. "So I'm the only one who does naughty web searches in this relationship so far?"

"I plead the Fifth," Lucas said, proof he was not a Rhy'Din native, which was as good as saying he was guilty. Apparently, she wasn't the only one who gave in to some curiosity now and then.

"A-ha! I knew you did it too!" She clapped her hands together, waving finger guns in his direction with an almost obnoxious sense of triumph. "Can I read your search history? That'd be so much fun - ooh! Maybe we should search together!"

Lucas chuckled, cheeks flushing a little, but quick with a response, mostly because it would be too embarrassing. "No! You'll just have to trust me," he told her, eager to change the subject. "So, are you hungry? Ready for dinner?" he asked, not knowing her parents had dragged her out for ice cream a short while ago.

"Yeah!" She might spend an hour or so groaning at being so full, but there was no way she was going to tell Lucas she'd just had a huge sundae with her siblings when he'd gone to all the trouble of cooking for her. "Feed me, gorgeous!"

His smile widened, the flush deepening at her flattery. He didn't think he was much to look at, but he was glad she thought differently. "I hope it turned out okay," he said, a hint of anxiety making itself known. He so wanted everything to be perfect in hopes of impressing her, never realizing it was hardly necessary.

"Luc ... we learned how to make this together, remember?" she pointed out gently, easing back on her exuberance at that suggestion of anxiety. "And we cook together once a week anyway. I absolutely trust you in the kitchen."

"I know," he replied, feeling a little silly since she was there more than she wasn't even before she was officially moved in. "But I want to make it special," he added, explained, reaching for her hand to lead her toward the kitchen, though she knew very well where it was located.

"All I need is you to make anything special," she told him, twining her fingers between his as he drew her toward the kitchen. "And, you know, first night in our apartment. I'll try not to be too manic with excitement when we go to bed."

"I don't mind if you're excited," he told her, chuckling again. Though it might not show, he was excited, too - and strangely, nervous. This wasn't about playing house; it was about making a commitment to each other for the long term. Stepping into the kitchen, she might notice that he had made a real effort tonight at creating a romantic setting. The table was formally set complete with candles and flowers, and though he might not have a woman's touch, he had done his best with what they had.
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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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Can Be Found: Maple Grove
9975.12 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fliss paused in the doorway, taking in all the effort he had gone to as a soft, amazed smile melted over her face. Her hand squeezed his. "I feel like I should be wearing a dress for you," she murmured, twisting toward him to rise onto her toes and kiss his cheek. "It's beautiful."

"No, you're beautiful," he countered, smiling at the kiss and the praise for his efforts. "You don't have to wear a dress for me. I'd rather you were comfortable," he told her, before leading her over to the table and pulling out a chair for her. "I even managed to sneak a bottle of wine out of Humphrey's cellar, with Jon's help," he added with a grin.

"Oooh, going for the full-on seduction tonight, huh?" Fliss hugged his arm before letting him help her to her seat. "Just as well I'm wearing matching undies."

"After a couple of glasses of wine, I doubt either of us will notice or care," he remarked, though he wasn't planning on getting either of them drunk. In his mind, this - their first official night of living together - was a matter for celebration, hence all the trouble he'd gone to with dinner.

She giggled, flipping her hair back out of her face as she watched him move about the kitchen. "You know what I'm looking forward to most?" she asked thoughtfully. "Not having to leave. And even when I do have to leave, knowing I'm coming back in just a few hours. That's ... kind of amazing, you know?"

"I won't have to wake you and walk you home anymore," he said, in complete agreement with the convenience of their new living arrangements, though it had never really been about convenience. "And I can wait up for you when you get home from night school," he added, turning to carefully ease the lasagne out of the oven.

"Mmm, and I can make you breakfast in the mornings without having to rush, because the kids won't be expecting me to be in my own bed." Fliss beamed happily at this. "We are going to be so good at this."

"You don't think we'll get sick of each other or argue about things?" he asked, as he cut into the lasagne and extended an arm so that she could hand him a plate. He wasn't overly worried about it - he knew all couples argued from time to time - but he had witnessed years of unhappiness between his parents, and that worried him a little.

She shrugged. "I think all couples argue now and then," she mused, handing over a plate from where she was sat. "I mean, look at my parents. They get snippy with each other, but they always make it up. They've got a really solid foundation, and ... I think we have, too."

"I think so, too," he said, taking the plate and sliding a slice of lasagne onto its surface before swapping that plate for another so he could repeat the process. "I just ..." He paused a moment, hesitant to continue. "I don't want us to be like my parents," he said, though there was hardly any danger of that. They were entirely different people, after all, in an entirely different situation and even world. "I worry sometimes that my father might come here and try to drag me and Matt back home with him."

"You really think he could?" she asked gently. "I mean, you're not exactly alone here, either of you. Pretty sure your dad isn't stupid enough to cross all of us, is he?"

"I don't know. I hope not," he replied, moving over to claim a seat and set his plate on the table. There was salad and bread on the table, and a bottle of wine chilling in a bucket of ice. He rarely, if ever, spoke of his father, as it was not a pleasant topic of conversation. "I know he's ashamed of me ... of us, but he knew Mom was from Rhy'Din when he married her."

"But did it mean anything to him?" Fliss wondered. "I mean, Rhy'Din's just a word for a lot of people. Unless you've lived here, you wouldn't know how amazing it is, and how ordinary we find the extraordinary things."

"Probably not," Lucas replied, picking at his lasagne. This was not really what he wanted to talk about on such a happy occasion, and he was sorry he'd mentioned it. "I think Mom kept it a secret from him for a long time."

Fliss watched him for a long moment, setting down her fork to reach across the table and wrap her hand about his. "I'm sorry, baby," she told him, quietly sincere for his confusion and upset over the breakdown of his parents' marriage. "I guess some people just never grow together. I know we are, though."

"We're not them, Fliss," he agreed wholeheartedly, raising his eyes to meet her gaze and closing his fingers around hers. "We're never going to be like them," he added convinced of that. "I wonder if they were ever in love," he mused further, though it hardly mattered now.

"Your mom thought she was," she reminded him as gently as she could. Jessica had been very clear on a number of occasions with Fliss about being absolutely certain of her feelings. "She really thought he was the one. But people change as they get older, and it doesn't sound like they made much time for each other while your dad's career was taking off. That's what went wrong."

"My Dad's career became more important than anything else," Lucas said, summing up what Fliss was trying to get at. "My career is important to me, too, Fliss, but not more important that you or us," he assured her.

"I know," she promised him in return. "And my plan is not more important than you, or us, or ... or our family, when it happens. I mean, yeah, things are gonna be a bit tight for a couple of years, but we're in it together, right?"

"Together, forever," he replied with a warm smile, giving her hand a soft squeeze before letting go to pick up his fork. "We should eat before it gets cold," he said, the unpleasant topic forgotten for now.

"Yes," she agreed, her own smile bright in answer. "Food is good." She might have incredible heartburn after eating way too much in a single afternoon than was really good for her, but there was no way Fliss was going to admit to that. It was the first night in their home together; she wasn't going to ruin it.

He wouldn't have minded if she didn't eat a lot; he was just happy to have her there with him, knowing she wasn't going anywhere for once. By the time dinner was finished, both their stomachs were full, and the bottle of wine was half-drained. Giggles ensued as they made an attempt to clean the dishes, but it wasn't long before they were tossing bubbles at each other across the kitchen.

Fliss' eyes crossed as bubbles landed on the end of her nose, giggles erupting from her as she blew at them, flicking her own handful of bubbles at her winged boyfriend. "Who was doing the washing again?"

"I don't know and I don't care," he said, catching her around the waist and pulling her close. Nothing was going to ruin his good mood - not tonight, not when they had made and finally acted on a commitment to be together. Maybe it was the wine, but he couldn't help but grin, feeling happier than he had in a long time. "What do you say we leave them 'til morning?"

She squeaked as he pulled her close, dragging her damp hands through his hair with a cheeky grin. "I ... think that is genius," she agreed impishly. "In the water, right? Not just, you know, all over the kitchen in a kind of modern art thingy?"

"In the water," he confirmed, mostly so they wouldn't end up crusty by morning and impossible to clean. "Maybe I should talk to Humphrey about getting a dishwasher," he suggested, though dishes were the last thing on his mind right now.

"You have one!" she declared cheerfully, throwing her hands in the air. "It's called Fliss!" Cackling at her own joke, she leaned into him, wrapping her arms about his neck once again, fingertips teasing at the soft down of his wings. "Only I'm kind of on strike tonight. Noooo dishes for me!"
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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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Can Be Found: Maple Grove
9975.12 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Hmm, that's a funny name for a dishwasher," he remarked, smirking back at her as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Are you the maid?" he teased, eyes bright with rare mischief, not to mention happiness.

"Not unless you stuffed my hymen back up there!" She snickered wickedly, gently rubbing the tip of her nose to his. "Hey, I just had a thought ... we could, you know, lock the front door and just fall asleep after doing dirty stuff to each other."

"I wouldn't know how!" he said, chuckling at her remark, his smile warming at the show of affection. "I like the way you think, Miss Storm. You don't think anyone will visit, do you?" he asked, though it was doubtful.

She raised a brow, tilting her head back to meet his eyes with a wicked grin. "Not tonight, they won't," she said, with absolute certainty. "I may have embarrassed my dad with a suggestion that I was going to jump you the second I got here."

"You didn't!" he said, eyes wide at the thought of her father knowing anything about their love life. "Do you want me to kill me?" he asked, over-reacting just a little, though it seemed Liv and Johnny trusted their daughter enough to move in with Lucas and presumably trusted Lucas to take good care of her.

Fliss snickered softly. "Relax, babe," she assured him. "He's cool. They never would have agreed to me moving in with you if they didn't trust us, you know. And your mom would have put me in a chastity belt."

"At least, she didn't give me the condom speech," he said. Thank the gods, neither had Fliss' father. He wasn't a child, after all. He might not be very experienced with women, but he wasn't born yesterday.

She laughed. "C'mon," she cajoled him affectionately, rising up onto her toes to brush a soft kiss against his lips. "We don't have to fool around, you know. We could just relax and see what happens."

"Why do you think they call it that?" he asked curiously, kissing her back, before taking her hand to lead the way to the bedroom. Was there something wrong with calling it what it was - making love or even having sex?

She blinked, caught a little off-guard by the very serious answer. "Um ... because it's fun to do?" she suggested, obediently trailing along behind him as he drew her by the hand. "I don't know. I could use a different phrase. Would you prefer me to ask if I can bounce on your dong?"

He chuckled at her suggestion. "No, that's even worse!" he said, even if it was accurate sometimes. He didn't want to be clinical about it, but he thought it should sound a little more romantic than "fooling around". But maybe it was just the wine muddling his brain. "Doesn't matter anyway. You-you do enjoy it, right?" he asked, uncertainly suddenly, just as they reached the bedroom door.

She hesitated at the sudden question, blinking through the fuddle of the wine as she met his eyes worriedly. "Of course I do," she blurted out. "I-I wouldn't, I wouldn't do it with you if I didn't enjoy - why, don't you enjoy it?"

"Yeah!" he replied, a little too enthusiastically. "'Course I do! I just wanted to make sure you do. I mean, you'd tell me if you didn't, right?" he asked further. Or at least tell him if he did something she didn't like?

"Why wouldn't I? I mean ... we tell each other everything," she pointed out, a slow blush rising on her cheeks as she went on. "I mean, you know, our first time ... there was a lot of talking. And ... instructions."

That was true enough. The two of them had both been virgins when they'd met, even if they wouldn't admit it to anyone besides each other, but they were adults now and they were responsible for themselves. "And we're still learning," he added, a bit of a blush on his face, too, though he'd blame it on the wine.

She bit her grinning lip, nodding as she skipped a little closer to slide her arms about his waist. "No one I would rather learn with than you."

"We can teach each other," he admitted, already having learned some things about her and eager to learn more, tugging her into the bedroom, even as she slid her arms about his waist. He had taken special care to clean up the room, make the bed, and make room for her things in his dresser and closet, though that wasn't immediately apparent.

She'd have to unpack tomorrow, but that was hardly a problem. There was already a decent amount of her belongings all over the apartment as it was. Stumbling in a tangle of feet, Fliss erupted into giggles as they lurched into the bedroom, tipping backward onto the bed and bringing Lucas with her. "Look, I caught an angel!"

He laughed as he tumbled onto the bed with her, his wings still folded against his back. If he'd have spread them open in the small confines of the bedroom, he'd probably have knocked something over. "A fallen angel, maybe," he remarked with a grin.

"Mmhmm, and I'm the one who corrupted you." She grinned up at him, teasing her fingertips beneath the line of his t-shirt, seeking out the cunningly hidden fastening that allowed him to wear such things around the obstruction of his wings.

"Temptress," Lucas teased, matching her grin as his own fingers searched for the button and zipper on her jeans. Half the fun was getting there, and he was taking his time doing so.

She giggled, gently tugging his shirt open to slide it down from his shoulders, covering her own face in the soft material in the process. "Enchantress would be more accurate," she pointed out in a slightly muffled tone. "Magic and all."

"Does that magic involve fire or something else?" he asked, fingers moving to work the buttons of her shirt open and leaning in to brush a trail of kisses down her neck and between her breasts.

"Oh, I think we're making ... sparks," she murmured back to him, gasping softly as his lips brushed over the sensitive line of her neck. They might only have been going at this for a couple of months, but he knew her weak spots already.

He mumbled an incoherent reply, distracted by the attention he was paying her body now and by the reaction his body was having to hers. Though they might fumble toward ecstasy, it was an awful lot of fun getting there.

But what made this fumble all the more memorable was the sweet lethargy they were able to enjoy together for the first time when it was over. There was no rush to get dressed in case someone dropped by, no hanging necessity for Fliss to go home, because for the first time they were both home already. There was a very real freedom in being able to curl close and know that neither one had anywhere to be but right here.

Even if they had to get up in the morning for work, morning was still a long way away, and it felt like almost a luxury to languish together in bed for as long as they wanted without worrying about Fliss having to leave. If they wanted to fall asleep naked in each other's embrace, no one would know or care. Lucas had patiently waited a long time for this, and he wasn't disappointed. There was nothing that could make him happier, except maybe to officially make Fliss his lifelong mate, but if he had his way, that would come in good time. "Happy, baby?" he asked, his voice quiet and slightly slurred, a little drunk on wine and love and sleepiness.
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Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Mmm ..." She stretched lazily beside him, no longer worried when she found herself lying on one of his wings, cuddling just that little bit closer. "This is heaven."

"Then I guess one of us is an angel," he mused aloud, smiling to himself as he brushed his fingers in a gentle caress against her cheek. "I love you, you know," he told her, as if he needed to remind her. He spoke quietly, as if he was afraid speaking any louder would break the spell.

"Love you back," she promised softly, tilting her head to touch a gentle kiss to his jaw. "More every day." And it was true - what she felt for him now was orders of magnitude stronger than what she'd felt for him two years ago. The old adage was true where they were concerned; they'd grown together, not apart.

"I was thinking ..." Lucas started, his fingers tracing soft circles against her back as he held her close. "This place was only supposed to be temporary, and now that it's the two of us, I was wondering if we should get a place of our own."

She blinked, a little startled by his suggestion, but not unpleasantly so. Her lips curved in a slow smile. "I like that idea," she admitted softly. "I mean, we might need some help to put down a deposit and all, but ... somewhere that's just ours? I like that a lot."

"Well, I was thinking about a place here at the Grove, but if you'd rather get an apartment somewhere else, we could do that, too," he said, having assumed she wouldn't want to be far from her family. The apartment above the garage, where they were now, had been fine when he was living here alone, but now that Fliss was living here, too, he thought she might like someplace nicer and a bit roomier, too.

"Really?" She lit up even more at the prospect of finding somewhere on the Grove to share. "You think Old Mr Granger would let us?" She was acutely aware that she wasn't a Granger, after all, allowed to live on the Grove only through the good graces of the family themselves.

"Well, Mom is sort of related, and she said if we wanted to move into one of the empty cottages, she'd talk to Humphrey and see if it's okay," he explained further, glad she seemed to like the idea. He wasn't sure he was ready to move away from Maple Grove yet - from the safety and security of the place and the people they had come to know and love there.

"I'd love that," Fliss assured him, not quite able to hide a soft shiver at the tease of his fingers over her back, her cheeks flushing even as she smiled. "Who knows? Maybe when we settle into a routine, we might even be able to get a pet."

His smile widened at her mention of a pet. "I was thinking the same thing, but I'm not sure what. Dog, cat, turtle?" he suggested with with a chuckle. He'd thought about surprising her with a puppy or a kitten, but had thought better of it for now, unsure how she might feel about it.

"Parrot, monkey?" She giggled, wriggling until she could lean up on her elbow, her fingers drumming against his chest. "It doesn't all have to happen at once, you know," she told him tenderly. "I meant what I said - so long as I've got you, I'm good."

"I know," he assured her, shifting onto his back and turning his head to look up at her, somehow arranging the wings on his back so that they wouldn't be crushed beneath him. "I just want you to be happy, Fliss," he told her, knowing how much she was going to miss her family.

"I can't stay a little girl forever, baby," she murmured. "No matter how much a part of me wants to hide away with my parents forever, I want to grow up, and I want to spend my life with you. That's what makes me happy. Stop worrying so much, okay? My mouth is definitely big enough to let you know if I start getting unhappy."

"I hope you never get unhappy," he said, that worried look on his face again, despite his own happiness. Then again, neither of them was perfect and were liable to argue about something or other at some point. He just hoped they didn't argue the way his parents did.

"Luc ..." Her hand rose to smooth at the frown lines on his brow as she leaned down to nip his nose fondly. "I'm naked and I'm not going anywhere. Is this really the time to worry about something that might never happen?"

He didn't really need a reminder of her nudity, unable to keep his gaze from wandering away from her face to admire said nudity. While she might worry that she was too slim and not curvy enough, he couldn't have disagreed more. A slow smile lit his face again, as he pushed her over onto her back, his desire for her renewed. "Thanks for reminding me," he teased, leaning in for a slow kiss.

She didn't even try to stop him, laying back against the pillows with a low laugh that faded into a loving moan at the sensation of him so close as his lips covered hers. Say what you like about young love, but it was certainly ... vigorous.

It didn't hurt that they had youthful energy to burn. While their passion might mellow with the years, he hoped their love for each other would only grow. Though his parents had fallen out of love, Fliss' parents were a perfect example of a couple whose love for each other was still going strong. Lucas thought if they followed in Johnny and Liv's footsteps, they could hardly go wrong.

And with a foundation as strong as this, the only way was up.
A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.
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