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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2024 5:25 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Marshal Knox and Jameson Bryant

"Thanks, Cait," Marshal said. He was making his peace with it all now. No matter what, Fievel would be safe and cared for. And no matter what, Maureen was alive. She was safe and warm and happy, not cold and bloody like the people in his past and his nightmares. Maybe she would never even have to know the danger she'd been in; he liked that idea, and her not thinking badly of him as a result. "Could you stay with me till they get here? I don't think it'll take long."


***


Jameson was in a mission debrief when his phone buzzed. He glanced at it--

"Excuse me, folks. I need to step out. Something urgent has come up. We can finish this up another time, thanks."

Marshal needed help. That statement always would have prompted him to action - but the third person wording in a text that came from Marshal's phone had him extra worried.

"Okay," one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents replied. "You need any backup, Mr. Stalwart?"

Get here before SHIELD does.

"No, I'm good. Thanks, Stan. Personal business. I'll catch you all later."

He hurried home - his new home - as quickly as he could. It helped that he had an experimental teleporter from S.H.I.E.L.D. to facilitate his travel to the far-flung locations the superhero business took him to. The teleporter could be a little temperamental, but it worked better in places it had mapped previously, so he was able to get back to the suburb without any snags.

Once he got to the house, he became more cautious. He had to consider the fairly likely possibility that this was an ambush. That whoever had Marshal's phone was holding him hostage. He pushed open the front door, stepped through the front entry hall, and started scanning the living room... and saw Doctor Thornton's body, and it all started to make sense.

Jameson took a few seconds to survey the death scene from the doorway. The thing that struck him was the complete lack of aggression. He didn't see any injuries to the doctor other than the single, efficient, fatal one. There was no blood. Not so much as a wrinkle on her clothing. It was obvious Marshal had killed her - a neck break that quick and clean was the work of a super soldier. That didn't surprise him. (No wonder Marshal was worried about S.H.I.E.L.D., though.) What surprised him was that there was no evidence of anger from a man who had a lot of very valid reasons to be angry.

Then Jameson stepped further into the living room, approaching Marshal and... a child?

The presence of the kid confused Jameson. He was fairly confident that Marshal didn't have any children, whether in his own custody or otherwise. Maybe a niece? Some kind of Big Brother thing? The kid didn't seem to be in any distress - she looked like she was on a more even keel than Marshal, truth be told - so Jameson decided her identity wasn't his top priority at the moment. Jameson knelt in front of them.

"Hi," Marshal said calmly.

But Jameson couldn't help noticing that Marshal was flinching every time the superhero moved his hands. That was new. Marshal hadn't done that the night before. Clearly he was stressed... and clearly he was used to being the target of physical violence, and having to take it passively. So that was how HYDRA treated their unwilling soldiers? It tracked.

"Hey," Jameson said, raising his hands slowly, keeping them where Marshal could see them. "I'm not here to hurt you. I'm not going to let anyone else hurt you, either. I'm going to help you, I swear."

Still moving slowly - making sure Marshal still seemed okay with it before making contact - Jameson gave Marshal a gentle hug, then sat beside him so Marshal was comfortably sandwiched between him and Cait.

"What did she did to you?" Jameson asked quietly.

"I killed her," Marshal replied in a flat tone, before realizing he'd reversed Jameson's question in his brain and answered What did you do to her?, which wasn't what the superhero had actually asked.

"Was she going to hurt you?" Jameson continued to probe gently.

Marshal shook his head. "Not me. Maureen."

Jameson was confused. "She... was going to hurt Maureen?"

Marshal nodded, staring down at his hands. "She was going to make me hurt Maureen. Like I told you about last night. Like the ambassador's wife..."

Jameson's breath caught in his throat. What would have happened... what would have happened to Maureen... He tried not to let himself think about it, but the images rose to his mind unbidden. How she would have suffered. How he would have felt losing her...

"But you protected her," Jameson said. A statement, not a question. Ginny was dead and Maureen was still at the dog rescue, oblivious to the peril she'd been in. "You saved her. Thank you. I... I can't even begin to express how grateful I am. How grateful Maureen will be..."

Marshal shook his head. "You shouldn't be grateful. Neither of you. There's something you don't know about me. I should have told you before you moved in, but I didn't think it was going to matter. I guess it does. I have these words in my head. An activation phrase. If someone says it, they can make me do anything they want. They still can. Just like HYDRA."

"Oh... I did know about that, actually," Jameson said. "Ginny offered it to me last night."

Marshal's jaw dropped, and he turned pale. Well, now he had a new master. At least this one wasn't cruel...

"I didn't take it," Jameson assured him. "I would never do that to you. Don't worry."

Marshal stared at the superhero, now completely baffled. Jameson had had a chance to lock away his mind, hijack his body and take it over and he had just... casually chosen not to inflict that pain? Just like that?

"But what if you need it?" Marshal asked. "What if I snap? What if I go crazy and you have to stop me?"

"What are you going to do if I go crazy and you have to stop me?"

Marshal blinked at him. "Huh?"

"What's your contingency plan for if Mr. Stalwart goes on the rampage? How are you going to stop me? Have you thought about what you would do?"

"Well... no. Of course not."

"Why not?"

"Because... well, because you're good. I'm just... not worried about it."

Jameson smiled at him. "Exactly. Same. You're good. I'm not worried about it."

Marshal couldn't quite formulate the words to respond to that.

Jameson, however, was getting back to practicality. "It's only a matter of time before someone realizes Doctor Thornton is missing, and this is one of the first places they'll look. Can we... uh...?" He glanced over at Cait, trying to casually gauge her role here.

"Oh! Sorry!" Marshal was still trying to get the hang of this conversational thing, and realized he should have introduced her long before. "Uh. This is Cait McIvor. My friend. She's helping me."

Well, that explained it - more or less. Jameson settled on the simplest interpretation of events, which was that he had simply overlooked one of the McIvor children the night before when introductions were being made. He hoped he hadn't been too rude about it. His mind had very much been elsewhere. Well, Cait didn't seem inclined to leave, or Marshal to kick her out, so Jameson proceeded.

"Hi, Cait. So um... we're going to need to move pretty fast here. Eventually, we're going to have to tell S.H.I.E.L.D. - but not just yet. First, I want to have as much evidence as possible of Marshal's innocence, that this was self-defense. I have a few strings I can pull. But if either of you have any other ideas...?"

Jameson was settling into his usual role in this sort of situation, but his mind kept darting back to how close he'd come to losing the love of his life. All that had stood between Maureen and a horrible death was one man's courage and strength. Thank goodness that man was Marshal Knox.

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Fri Jun 28, 2024 12:21 pm
by Quaxo9
Cait McIvor

She watched Jameson carefully as he entered the house.Honestly, she was a bit surprised by his caution. These super types tended toward brazen - unless, of course they'd met enough villains to teach them that they weren't unstoppable. That kind of luck only happened in the movies, and yet so many fell for the idea that it was all real.

Cait watched him notice Ginny. His eyes flickered over the body and its surroundings before rising up to see Marshal. Their eyes met for a brief moment before he returned his attention to their mutual friend. Mr Stalwart's priorities also seemed to be in the right order. By the time Jameson finished working through things with Marshal, Cait was convinced that he wasn't just a suit. This meant that she could be candid.

"We didn't quite meet yesterday because I was hiding as a rat in Marshal's hood. I'm Rhiannon's sister. A little mishap with a magic crystal de-aged me a few years, but I'm still mentally...older."

She stood up to walk toward the kitchen, but turned to shrug. "After the first couple hundred years, you stop keeping track." Standing on tiptoe, she pulled the business card off the fridge and trotted back to the two men.

"Well, we can get Marshal lawyered up for starters. This guy lives across the street and he owes Marshal for saving his son's life. But, he's also going to need something to work with. I know that Ginny had cameras set up in here and I have no doubt she kept the recordings. If we could get them - or tapes of her sessions with Marshal where she used his command words - to prove that she'd been abusing her station...well, I think things would go a lot better for us."

She sat down next to Marshal, facing him. "I guess the cameras in here could have protected you. I'm sorry that I didn't see this coming. But I'm going to help make sure you don't have to pay for what she did."

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Fri Jun 28, 2024 5:59 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Marshal Knox and Jameson Bryant

Jameson accepted Cait's explanation with a nod and a smile. Did he really understand? No. But it was enough to go with for now.

Marshal, for his part, was relieved. Cait was 'older' mentally - perhaps still the adult he knew? At least he hadn't called an actual child to a murder scene. Maybe they could still have the friendship they'd had before? When she changed so suddenly, Marshal wasn't sure if he ought to be encouraging her to make middle school friends, and do her homework... and forget about him. The last thing a twelve-year-old needed was the burden of a depressed, middle-aged alcoholic holding her back. An adult in a child's body, though... he could still talk to her, couldn't he?

At least this would prevent from doing anything to make a fool of himself. But he still desperately wanted to hold onto his friend.

"Please don't apologize," Marshal said when Cait brought up the cameras. "I was glad you did that. I didn't want her watching. Our home is supposed to be safe."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Marshal felt stupid. He shouldn't have said 'our.' No matter how nice Jameson was being, there was no way he'd want to stay after this. Marshal would be back to living on his own. But it had been so nice while it lasted...

"There are plenty of tapes," Marshal went on. "She taped all our therapy sessions. And... you know... the stuff she did with my conditioning. It's all in there. We'd have to go her office anyway to get any of it. Obviously that'll be a little bit of a problem..."

"I can get you back into the S.H.I.E.L.D. base," Jameson offered quicky. "Not sure there's much my influence can do beyond that, but for what it's worth."

"That'll help a lot," Marshal agreed. "Getting in the front door would be the hardest part. But uh... you understand what you're promising, right? That you'll help do a break and enter right under S.H.I.E.L.D.'s nose? Superheroes don't usually... uh... condone..."

"I understand," Jameson replied. "And I'm not saying that I'm going to suggest a robbery as a plan for every boring Saturday afternoon. But these are pretty exceptional circumstances. Clearing your name is priority one here."

"Thank you," Marshal said. This was looking doable. Super soldiers weren't exactly known for their stealth - they were more for making a statement - but if Jameson could get him in, Marshal could do a smash-and-grab, get what he needed and hopefully be out before S.H.I.E.L.D. caught on. "Thank you both for your help. But I understand if... well, this may not work. If I end up going to prison, it'll be okay."

"Nope," Jameson replied firmly. "That's not an acceptable outcome here. Try not to worry. I just need to call Maureen really quick - I don't want her to stumble into the middle of this while we're gone - and then let's go pay S.H.I.E.L.D. a visit. I'll be right back."

Marshal tried not to imagine the conversation Jameson was having with Maureen. "Yeah, sorry babe, I know it's scary, but you never have to see him again..."

Jameson returned a few minutes later. Marshal scrutinized his face to see if he was upset - if he and Maureen had argued - but he didn't see any sign of that. Jameson still seemed perfectly calm.

"Hey," Marshal said. "I understand if... you know... if you need to move out. I know this isn't what you bargained for."

Jameson shook his head. "Actually, Maureen and I were discussing kind of the opposite. I know this wasn't what you agreed to, and it's okay for you to say no. But now that Maureen's identity has been exposed, it's not really safe for her out there. We were wondering if you would be willing to consider letting her come live with us too. That way we could both protect her. We'd feel better knowing she had a super soldier watching her back too. I know two roommates wasn't what you offered. It's your house. Your choice. I just wanted to ask."

For a moment, Marshal felt his familiar paralysis when confronted with a decision - he was so unaccustomed to being allowed to make them. But no, he told himself. This one was easy. He had all the information. He knew the parameters. He understood his feelings about it. He knew what he would do. His posture became more confident.

"Yes," Marshal said. "Yes, I want Maureen to live with us. I like having you both here. I want her to be safe. I want to help protect her."

Jameson smiled. "That's great. Thank you, Marshal. So, are you ready to head out?"

Marshal nodded. He turned to Cait. She was 'older,' he reminded himself. But looking at her, he had doubts. He didn't want to corrupt a minor by dragging her along to a robbery at S.H.I.E.L.D. What would Rhiannon say if he lured her sister into a life of crime? He didn't want to be a bad influence...

"Uh." Marshal said. "It's okay if you want to go home, Cait. This may get dicey. I don't want to put you in an uncomfortable position. You've done so much for me already, and it means so much. You don't have to do this. You can bail me out if I screw this up."

A joke, of course. If he screwed this up, it was pretty much guaranteed he would never see the outside of a prison cell again.

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2024 7:03 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Imiel

Imiel felt better after a night's sleep. The weight of being human out in the world didn't seem quite so heavy, with the light of day streaming through the window blinds.

Guess I was just tired after all.

By the time he'd gotten dressed and put on some coffee, the girls were starting to stir, so they all ate breakfast and then he got them dressed for the day too.

He wondered when it would be appropriate to go see Rhiannon. He didn't want to intrude. But he was worried about her and her children, hoping they were alright. She had said he and the girls could come over. Was she just being polite? He wanted to be a comfort, not another source of stress. Maybe they could go for a walk, just stop by and say hello, and then they could continue their stroll if the McIvors weren't in the mood for guests. Yes, that's what they would do.

"Do you want to go for a walk? Maybe see if we can visit Ms. Rhiannon and her kids?" Imiel asked Annie.

Annie nodded eagerly. "Are you going to wear your outside face, Daddy?"

Imiel felt a pang, but he nodded. "Yep. Always. Remember we don't tell anybody else that I have a different face, okay?"

Humans aren't comfortable with aliens.

How many times had S.H.I.E.L.D. drilled that into his head? Sure, Rhiannon knew what he was, but that didn't mean she needed to see it. It set humans at ease when you looked human too. He shifted his appearance from his natural Skrull one, gave himself a quick glance in the mirror to make sure none of his true form showed - not a touch of green - and nodded to himself.

As they walked the short distance to the McIvor house, Imiel felt eyes on him from the direction of the most newly-arrived residents' home. He glanced over at the neighbor who was ostensibly out watering her flowerbed - but she had become completely distracted by staring at them, and the water poured unnoticed from the hose onto the concrete of her front walk. Feeling a little awkward, Imiel waved and kept walking, but the woman seemed to take that as an invitation; she dropped the hose and went to intercept them.

Oh no, Imiel thought.

He tried to speed up his stride - he wasn't really in the mood to make awkward neighbor small talk - but Annie had three-year-old short legs, so the woman quickly caught up.

"What beautiful little girls!" the woman cooed. "I just love them!"

"Thanks." Imiel tried to keep his reply brief, but the neighbor lady was blocking his path now.

Annie stared at her with undisguised skepticism, but the woman seemed completely unable to read her expression. She dropped to her knees in front of Annie and opened her arms. "Come give me a hug, sweetie." Annie's eyes widened with alarm, and she darted away to hide behind her father.

"I don't encourage her to hug strangers," Imiel said. He didn't like the way the woman was staring at Annie with her arms still extended, as if expecting Imiel would order the child to comply. It creeped him out. "We need to get going. Come on, Annie."

Annie, apparently just as eager to exit the situation, did not need to be told twice. She grabbed her father's hand and started walking.

The neighbor lady didn't follow, but she seemed totally unaffected by the rebuff. "See you soon, cuties!" she said - apparently addressing the kids alone, as if Imiel wasn't even there.

Weird, Imiel thought.

He didn't give it much more thought, though. Some people were weird and pushy about kids, treating them more like dolls than humans with autonomy.

Imiel and his daughters stepped onto the McIvors' front stoop - why was he so nervous all of a sudden? - and he rang the doorbell.

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Tue Jul 02, 2024 1:25 pm
by Quaxo9
the McIvors

Cait gave Marshal a side-eye, then grinned.

"Oh, you aren't leaving me out of this. Besides, I am pretty sure I have a skill set that you're going to need to get those files. I mean, I have no doubt that you could probably pick up a safe or a desktop and carry it out of SHIELD, but...I think we could be lower key than that. They still have my sword, so I can just tell the desk that I'm there to pick it up."

She shrugged, then added quickly, "Just let me dash home for some bits and bobs - and some shoes I guess. SHIELD seems like a 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' kind of a place. I'll be right back - don't leave without me." She pointed at Jameson as she emphasized the word 'don't', still grinning despite her serious tone, then dashed out the door and down the street.

The neighbours were calling already - and Cait's crooked grin softened a bit. Rhiannon needed support right now. Emotional support. It was something Cait never quite seemed to be able to do. Sure, she could be empathetic and supportive...just...for other people. Not her sister. Not her sister who knew too much and too little about her all at the same time.

"Hey Imiel, Annie, Mia - just come on in - you're family now." Cait blasted past the man, opening the door and letting it swing wide behind her, not stopping to see if he'd step in. She ran up the stairs, yelling out her intentions as she did so.

"Jameson's giving me a ride to SHIELD to pick up Excalibur. Don't wait up - I'm sure the paperwork will be stupid."

She rummaged through the bathroom in the master suite for some of Rhys' bobby pins. They were stuck into her hair like they were holding back growing bangs. Next, she stopped at Charis' room and swiped a ballpoint pen and a steno notepad off the desk. From her own room, Cait grabbed the ID SHIELD had supplied her with (as if it looked anything like her now) and the lanyard that'd come with it. Back at the front door, she stuffed her feet into a pair of sneakers without stopping to tie them and ran back down the street.

Rhiannon, Ewan and Charis hadn't left their seats in the living room. They had been doing some mental blocking exercises and the simultaneous doorbell and thunderous sister/aunt had abruptly ended that session. The three still looked weary, but they all perked up with the arrival of Imiel and the girls. Rhys stood and walked toward the entrance.

"Please do come in, Cait's right - there's no need for a doorbell anymore." Partly because the shared experiences their two families had did make them seem more connected - and partly because she'd felt their approach long before the bell rang. She caught a glimpse of Cait running up the steps to Marshal's house and felt a pang of jealousy. To just...leave. Rhiannon desperately wanted out of the house. She' d been fighting with being stationary for some time now, but with what had happened over the past few days...

"Imiel, do you think we could maybe go for an outing?" She'd asked her question while still facing the window, but turned to look at him directly to clarify. "I just...I'd like to get out of the house. Perhaps a walk? A museum?" She'd figure out logistics later - whether they needed a taxi or a bus, or perhaps Imiel drove - but first, to gauge how a potentially boring trip might go over with the other family.

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2024 8:13 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Marshal Knox and Jameson Bryant

“She used to be older,” Marshal commented quietly after Cait had left. “Yesterday she was an adult.”

Jameson noticed the tone, and felt a stab of sympathy. “That must have been… jarring.”

Marshal nodded. “Yeah. Well. Things change. It’s gotta be better, right? For her, I mean. Must be nice to get another chance at it all.”

And he had no intention of messing it up for her, older than she looked or not. He was surely already well on the way to creating that mess - in the brief time she’d known him, she’d already had to deal with a suicide attempt and a murder victim. At the moment he wasn’t exactly contributing to Cait having a happy life.

He realized he should probably tell Jameson about the former, before the subject came up… or the superhero read it in Ginny’s files, undoubtedly with the cruelest possible spin.

“Hey, uh. Just so it doesn’t come as a shock. I did try to kill myself one night recently. Cait... she saved me. But I’m okay now. I promise.”

The unspoken: ‘But I won’t burden you.’

“I’m sorry to hear that happened,” Jameson said. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Yeah, well.” Marshal shoved his hands in his pockets. “It kind of seemed like the thing to do. Ginny played me a recording. I was dreaming. I said ‘Hail HYDRA’ in my sleep. Ginny said I was beyond help. It sounded true.”

Jameson’s brow had furrowed. “She said you were beyond help because… you had a bad dream? I don’t get that, Marshal. It sounds to me like she was talking nonsense.”

“But… doesn’t that mean it’s still in my head? Down deep? That somewhere in there, I’m still HYDRA’s man?”

“No. I don’t think so. I mean, I’m no expert on dreams. But I think your brain is just processing what happened to you. That’s normal for someone who went through trauma. You don't deserve to suffer like this, Marshal. What you deserve - what you've always deserved - is healing and care.”

Marshal blinked at him. “You really think that?”

“Yeah. I really do. Hey Marshal, do me a favor. You were alone that night, right? You don't live alone anymore. If you start having those thoughts again, please come talk to me, okay? Any time, day or night. Wake me up if you need to. I want to talk it through. I want to keep you here.”

“Thanks.”

Jameson gave Marshal another hug. It was something Marshal was very much still getting used to - how tactile Jameson was - but it surprised him how much he liked it. How starved he had been for affection. He’d tried to fill the void with sex, in the past, but it hadn’t helped at all. He was starting to realize that maybe what he had really needed all along was friends.

“Thanks,” Marshal said again. “I like it when you hug me. It feels good.”

“Good,” Jameson said with a smile. “I’m glad.”

The front door opened, but it wasn’t Cait yet - it was Maureen. Marshal braced himself, but she seemed… surprisingly nonchalant about the body in the living room. Barely looking at it, she made a beeline for Marshal and Jameson.

“I’m sorry…” Marshal began. How could he possibly apologize enough for all this?

Maureen shook her head - then wrapped him in a hug too. “Thank you, Marshal. You saved me. Thank you. You’re a good friend.”

Marshal’s cheeks reddened. Again, he was at a loss for words. But it mattered. All of it mattered.

"Did you like the yoga DVD?" Maureen asked.

Marshal was not prepared for that particular question about how his morning had gone, out of all the things she could have been wondering, but he nodded shyly.

"I'm glad," Maureen replied. "I have other ones, too. Do you want to try one when you get home? We could do some yoga together this evening."

"Yeah," Marshal said. "I'd like that."

The message received was more than just the words. She thinks I'm coming home. She's treating it like a given - I won't be locked up tonight. And she wants to spend time with me. Even after what just happened, they both want me around. Not just tolerated. They want me here.

“So um,” Marshal said after a moment. “Can I ask a stupid question? I’m not very good at reading people’s signals. Are you… are you guys my family now?”

Jameson smiled. “Not a stupid question. Yes, you read our signals right. Yes, we want to be your family.”

Maureen nodded. Like Jameson, she had felt the trauma and pain practically coming off Marshal in waves - but she saw the goodness, too. The person she wanted to have around.

Marshal went silent again, processing. But his brain was spinning around the same thing over and over again: I have a family now. I finally have a family of my own.

They didn’t leave without Cait. She clearly wanted to come, and she was right - she had skills neither of the others did, that they would definitely need.

When Cait got back, they briefly introduced her to Maureen, with promises for more substantial introductions later, then Jameson transported himself, Marshal, and Cait back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. In the presence of a superhero, they were waved through with just a cursory security screening and wanding with a handheld metal detector. Security didn’t even look in Marshal’s backpack - which was good, because it was currently empty, potentially going to be filled with whatever needed to be removed from Ginny’s office.

“I’m going to go make a couple of phone calls,” Jameson said. “I’ll be more useful doing that, I promise. I’ll meet you back here. You’ll want to leave with me, so they don’t look more closely at you on the way out.”

Marshal knew the code to unlock the door to Ginny’s office. The doctor didn’t have a receptionist - her practice was too specialized and niche to need one - and she had never bothered trying to prevent him from seeing it. She’d always thought he was stupid, mocking his lack of higher education - or maybe she just never expected him to attempt to disobey. In any case, the entry code flowed easily from his fingers.

He took a deep breath, nodded, and pushed the door open.

The office just looked like an office. Drab furniture and neutral wall colors. A desk, a computer, a chair, a wall safe, a filing cabinet, a couch…

Marshal’s gaze was drawn to the couch like a laser. He started to sweat. His hands shook. His breath came fast.

What is wrong with me? Snap out of it. Idiot! What am I freaking out for? This was nothing. I made some bad choices about sex. That was all. I was stupid. It was my fault. I made bad decisions. Why is my heart beating so fast? Why can’t I breathe…?

He forced himself to look away. Focus on the mission. Don’t look at the couch anymore.

“She probably has files on her computer. I can hack it.” For someone who rarely used technology, Marshal was surprisingly skilled with it when he needed to be. It was a HYDRA skill set that had stuck. “But there’s the filing cabinet, and the safe. They’ll be locked. And then there’s a back room. She has a machine. For. You know. Like HYDRA. That’s how she messed with my conditioning.”

Marshal’s heart was beating fast again, thinking about being in that room. He focused on his breathing. Wiped his sweaty palms on his slacks. He didn’t want to go back there. Ever. But he had to. They had to get the information that would exonerate him - and he had to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else.


***

Jameson’s phone calls were going better than he could have hoped. He had convinced Dr. Laurel to see Marshal that afternoon - an emergency psych consult, to hopefully provide an expert to testify that Marshal wasn’t dangerous. The doctor had been understandably nervous about seeing a patient who had just killed his previous therapist, but Jameson had been persuasive - and of course had promised to personally guarantee her safety.

A second call. Success again.

Then a third. “Hello, Sergeant Barnes? I got this number from Captain Wilson. My name is Jameson Bryant - a.k.a. Mr. Stalwart. I apologize if calling you out of the blue seems intrusive, but my friend urgently needs help…”

Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2024 12:12 pm
by Monkey Kitty
Imiel

You're family now.

It was so kind of the McIvor sisters to treat them that way. It was the first moment where Imiel had ever felt truly at home on this planet, like he truly belonged somewhere and wasn't just a stranger observing everything at a distance. He felt warm inside, in a way he hadn't in conscious memory.

It was also very, very platonic, of course. But that was fine. He knew where he stood. He was more than happy to be family for Rhiannon.

Imiel's eyes lit up when Rhiannon suggested the museum. "Absolutely! The museum is an easy trip. You just take the Route Four bus right downtown, and the stop is across the street from the entrance." Belatedly realizing how nerdy it made him sound that he just knew this off the top of his head, but with no real grounds to counter that impression, he just leaned into it and added, "I take the girls there pretty often. Annie and I like to look around. They have a lot of cool stuff. Mia just sleeps through the whole thing, of course."

Annie had perked up at the word 'museum,' but had lost interest in the grown-up talk of logistics. She tugged on Rhiannon's hand. "I made you a picture, Miz Ree-Ann," she said, doing her best with the complicated name.

Imiel smiled - he had been vaguely aware this was going to happen - but he blanched slightly when Annie actually handed over the drawing. When he was trying to get the girls ready to go, he hadn't really paid much attention to which of her works of art Annie had selected from their display on the fridge. Now he realized the subject matter, and it was too late.

"It's of me and Daddy and Mia at our house," Annie explained proudly, just in case the message had failed to land.

Of course, at our house Daddy had green skin, and Annie had depicted that accurately.

Imiel smiled awkwardly and hoped Rhiannon would chalk it up to some childish fantasy on Annie's part. Thank goodness he had their potential outing as a distraction.