Author Topic: Sharing the News - Good and Bad  (Read 444 times)

Johnny Storm

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Sharing the News - Good and Bad
« on: June 29, 2019, 02:48:54 PM »
Life was definitely moving at a decent lick on Maple Grove, especially around the Storm/Rogers/Prescott triad of homes. With permission from Humphrey Granger, as well as a donated building on the grounds of the Grove, Steve and Lucy were already working on remodeling the place for a school, and putting out feelers to families with children possessed of certain types of innate ability, as well as to any teachers who felt up to the challenge they were going to present them. Colin had been all but ordered to turn his attention onto IT security and networking for the school in progress, and Natasha seemed certain to take on one of those teaching roles. Liv was offering up her organizational abilities to keep her sister and brother-in-law from flying apart at the seams, and Johnny had a whole host of connections to draw upon in the creation of a safe environment for young children with such talents.

And that was just the professional side of things.

Liv might still have been a little shell-shocked from Fliss and Lucas' visit a few hours earlier, but with the younger children all off enjoying themselves with friends and the twins stolen by Miranda Granger for an afternoon, she felt as though she had time to process.

"So ... should we tell Steve and Lucy?" she asked her husband, stroking her fingers through his hair.

"About the wedding or the fact that we missed something?" he asked, though they should probably share both bits of news, as they were equally important, if for very different reasons. They'd made every effort to wipe Hydra from the face of the Earth - literally - and still they seemed to have missed something.

"Well, obviously the second part," she pointed out. "But good news tends to temper the bad news. And it isn't bad news yet. With this sort of warning, we can ask our friends on Earth to look into Senator Foster and his connections and perhaps stop this before it happens at all."

"Yeah," Johnny agreed, frowning a little, despite the fact that his wife's fingers were tangled in his hair. "But Steve is gonna be pissed. He thought we got them all, and he's gonna be pissed when he finds out we didn't."

"Would you rather he be pissed at Hydra for still being active, or at us for not telling him we knew?" Liv countered gently. She knew she was worse than useless when it came to things like this, but she could at least keep Johnny's mind level.

"No, we have to tell him," Johnny said, and the sooner the better. "I guess that answers your question, huh?" he said. It wasn't so much Steve's anger that worried Johnny as the simple fact that Hydra was still out there, operating somewhere under the radar.

"They're going to be underpowered," Liv pointed out, giving him a gentle tug up onto his feet. "Far fewer resources. Why else would they still be operating with such secrecy?"

"I know, but ... If Lucas' father is part of Hydra, that means they might know about Rhy'Din," Johnny reasoned. It all depended, he supposed, on how much Jessica Foster had told her ex-husband about her family's origins.

"It's a big might," Liv reminded him. "Can you imagine trying to explain to anyone over there that Rhy'Din exists, much less everything else that entails?"

"So far, it doesn't seem like they know about Rhy'Din, but they could be bidding their time," Johnny pointed out. There was just no way to know for sure without digging deeper. He moved to his feet, his hand still in Liv's. "No, you're right. We need to talk to Steve. Maybe he can send a few A.E.G.I.S. agents to investigate."

"I don't think that is a maybe, sweetheart," she answered, smiling gently as she drew him toward the back door. "A.E.G.I.S. can find out the details. This may not be an imminent threat, either. It was a fortune reading; they don't seem to give accurate timelines."

"Maybe she was wrong," Johnny said, hopefully. He wasn't sure what Steve was going to say when they told him their intel had come from a fortuneteller, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

"We can but hope." She pulled him close, hugging her arms about his waist for a long moment. "But more importantly ... how does it feel to know you'll be walking your daughter down the aisle before Christmas?"

He chuckled at that, as he returned her embrace. "Honestly? It feels weird. How'd she grow up so fast?" he asked, though to be fair, Fliss was already a teenager when they'd adopted her.

"She's still growing," Liv mused. "And she's always going to need her father, one way or another. Still, it'll be funny to see Tony's reaction when he finds out - especially if it happens on his wedding day."

"Yeah, but ..." Johnny frowned as he realized something. "I'm not sure if I'm ready to be a grandpa yet." He had only just turned thirty-two, after all.

Liv laughed, shaking her head. "Have a little faith in your little girl," she suggested. "I highly doubt Fliss is going to want to have children while she's in university, do you? You have at least three years to prepare yourself for that."

"Izzy and Marnie will be aunts before they get to kindergarten!" Johnny pointed out, though he'd always known this was a possibility when they'd adopted Fliss. He'd known she was already a teenager and that they wouldn't have her for long before she grew up, but that hadn't stopped them from adopting her or from loving her, and it wouldn't stop them now. "I'm gonna get old before my time," he muttered with a sigh.

"You'll always be my Sparky," his wife teased, rising onto her toes to growl into his ear impishly. "Besides ... what's wrong with being a foxy grandad?"

"Means I'm old," he said, though he really wasn't. Besides, wasn't age just a number, especially on Rhy'Din. "Tell Fliss she has to wait until I'm at least forty before having kids!"

"Oh, no, you get to tell her that," she laughed, prodding his stomach. "I am not your shield against the wrath of Felicity, Johnny Storm!"

"Oh, come on, Liv. As parents, we're supposed to be united!" he said, having heard that somewhere, though he couldn't remember where. Probably Dr. Phil.

"United, yes," she agreed, pulling him outside. "Not using each other as human shields when we deliberately antagonize the children." But she was still laughing, tucking her arm about his waist as they headed down the porch steps and across the grass toward the Rogers' house.

Johnny Storm

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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2019, 02:50:33 PM »
"Who said anything about antagonizing?" Johnny asked, sounding almost insulted. "I just don't want to ... Wait, if they have kids, that means we can spoil them and then give them back when they start acting up, right?" he asked with a smirk.

"Yes, just like they do with our kids." She grinned up at him cheerfully, glad to see him finding something to look forward to. She thought it was inevitable at this point that they would be grandparents before they hit forty, and Liv had no problem with that.

"That might be fun," Johnny said, sliding an arm around Liv's waist as they made their way to the house next door. "Payback's a bitch!" he added, chuckling. Hopefully, no one overheard, or he'd probably be reminded about his language.

"You're so lucky none of the kids are around to parrot that back at you," was his wife's answer as she giggled back at him. She could definitely imagine Bessie repeating the one word that was naughty in that sentence.

"Why do you think I said it?" he asked, smirking back at her. He'd learned the hard way not to cuss around the kids when Bess was at an age where she'd mimicked everything everyone around her said. He lead the way up the porch stairs, but didn't bother to knock. "Anyone home? It's us!" he called through an open window.

"No, really?" Lucy's voice floated out from that window - she and Steve were sitting at the kitchen table. "I never would have guessed!"

Liv chuckled, shaking her head.

"Are you busy?" he asked, his hand on the door lever, but not pulling it open just yet, until he was sure they were welcome. Johnny squinted to peek through the screen to see what Steve and Lucy were up to without realizing he might see something he didn't really want to see.

"We were, until we heard you coming!" Lucy called back cheerfully. "Come on in, you know you want to."

"I'm not sure I want to know what they were doing when they heard us close our back door," Liv murmured teasingly to Johnny.

"Neither do I," Johnny murmured back. He did not want to visualize Steve and Lucy naked, in part because the other couple looked so much like themselves, albeit with some minor differences. There was also the fact that he'd slept with Lucy, once upon a time, before he'd started dating her sister, but that was like ancient history ago.

Letting themselves in, Liv lead the way to the kitchen, where Lucy was actually just getting the kettle off the stove. She laughed at her sister's teasing, pausing to hug her briefly before smiling over at Steve. "I hope we're not interrupting anything too important."

"No, we were just talking about the school," Steve assured her. "Have a seat. Can I get you anything?" he asked, pushing off his chair and moving to his feet. They might be family, but he still knew his manners. "We were about to have a cup of tea. Care to join us?"

Johnny chuckled at Steve's question. "She's turning you into a proper Englishman, Steve."

Steve grinned. "I'm afraid that happened a long time ago."

"He was trained by the best," Lucy added impishly, pouring the hot water into the teapot. It was true, in a way - Peggy had to be the one who had trained Steve to like tea.

To be fair, Steve still enjoyed a beer or a cup of coffee as much as anyone, but afternoon tea had become something of a tradition in the Rogers' house. "There's beer in the fridge, if you prefer," he told Johnny, in case that was his preference.

"Nah, tea's good. We're not really here for a social visit anyway," Johnny told the pair.

"Not that we don't like visiting you," Liv added, sliding down into a seat at the table comfortably. "We have some news - some good, some concerning. Which would you like first?"

Lucy raised a brow as she glanced at her twin; that was code for this could be very bad between them. She raised her eyes to Steve, letting him make the decision.

"What do you mean by concerning?" Steve asked, looking from one face to the other. He didn't like the sound of that, but he had no idea what that so-called concerning news might be. He noticed the glance between the twins and knew they had shared something unspoken between them, but he didn't know what. "What's this all about?"

"Concerning it is, then." Liv glanced at Johnny briefly before she began. "Fliss and Lucas found themselves an actual psychic at the carnival," she began, needing to get that out there first. "The real deal. And some of her reading suggested that Lucas' father may be connected to a still active Hydra cell on Earth."

Thank goodness the children were completely out of earshot - the word that escaped Lucy's lips was definitely not for little ears.

It was like the calm before the store. Johnny waited for Steve to erupt, but it was Lucy who reacted first. Steve's fingers tightened on his mug, his face turning ashen. He might have remarked on the impossibility of Hydra still being active, but after all these years, he knew nothing was impossible.

"I need a beer," he said, getting up from his chair and going to the fridge to fetch one, though it wasn't going to help soften the blow, especially given his enhanced constitution.

"I know it sounds crazy coming from a psychic, but Fliss and Lucas said she knew things she had no way of knowing," Johnny pointed out.

"What's the man's name?" Lucy asked in a tight voice, already reaching into her pocket for the cell phone she only ever used to contact A.E.G.I.S.

Liv cringed a little in the face of the deep upset they had brought into her sister's house, but knew it would have been much worse if they had not shared as soon as they were aware.

"Daniel Foster," she said with a frown of her own. "Senator for California."

Lucy nodded sharply as she raised the phone to her ear and stepped out of the room.

Johnny Storm

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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2019, 02:50:51 PM »
Steve took two beers from the fridge, handing one to Johnny before cracking one open for himself - all in the time it took for Lucy to make a phone call. He would have suggested calling A.E.G.I.S. if his wife wasn't doing it already.

"Would you excuse me a minute?" he asked, following Lucy out of the room and leaving his beer on the table.

Johnny cringed, but even if the information proved false, it was better to be safe than sorry.

Liv shrugged, biting her lip. They'd given the information over; now it was up to Steve and Lucy what was done with it. "At least this way they know that someone is working on it on Earth," she said softly. "Someone they trust."

"I hope she's wrong," Johnny said, frowning, but that much probably went without saying. "How'd we miss it, Liv?" he asked, looking troubled.

"We were looking for facilities," she offered, though she didn't know any better than he did. "Compounds. Not politicians. I don't know, Johnny."

Johnny muttered something under his breath, which was about as inappropriate for young ears as what Lucy had murmured a few moments earlier. "We have to end this once and for all, Fliss. But I don't know. We're talking about Lucas' father here."

"A father who turned his back on his boys," she reminded him. "A grown man who banished his eldest son from his sight the moment he showed any sign of being different, and whose coldness drove his wife to pack up the younger and join Lucas here as soon as she realized the same was about to happen to Matt. I don't think Lucas will be a problem. I think Matt is the one who will have difficulty accepting it."

"Before we jump to any conclusions, we have to know for sure," Johnny pointed out, assuming that was what Lucy and Steve were up to right at this moment - calling A.E.G.I.S. and asking for intel on Senator Daniel Foster of San Diego, California. "Jessica never said she noticed anything suspicious?"

"Not that she has ever mentioned to me," Liv mused. "But her move here was very abrupt. But then that could be because we provided her with an escape plan that her husband could not possibly uncover or retrace."

"The question is, does Daniel Foster know about RhyDin?" Johnny asked, though it seemed the man had no interest in his wife and sons. If he had, why would he have sent Lucas away and pushed Jessica and Matt out of his life? Unless ...

"We have no way of knowing that, Johnny," his wife pointed out. "I can't answer questions like that at all. I know as much as you do - less, in all probable fact."

Johnny frowned, an idea forming in his head, as unlikely as it might be. "What if he sent Lucas away on purpose?" he asked, shaking his head as he realized he hadn't quite phrased that right. "I mean, what if he sent him away to keep him safe from Hydra?"

"Then surely that's something they'll find out in their investigation," Liv pointed out. "It would be nice to think the man cared even a little for his sons. He's hurt them a great deal."

"Hard to say without talking to him. Even if we did talk to him, he might deny it. It all depends on how deeply Hydra has their hooks in him ... assuming the fortuneteller is right," Johnny mused aloud.

"Margaret and Andrew have a good team now," Liv murmured. "They'll find out, one way or another. All we can do is wait. If any of us were sighted on Earth right now, it might push Hydra back into hiding again."

"I have family in New York, Liv. But New York is a long way from California," Johnny pointed out with a frown. No, he was going to have to trust the A.E.G.I.S. Agents to do their job.

"I know." That was all Liv said, but her face stiffened for a brief moment. The last time she had been on Earth had been to visit Sue, and that visit had ended in near disaster. It was difficult to forget.

"And we have a wedding coming up, too," he reminded her. There were plenty of reasons for them to visit Earth, without looking too suspicious. But again, New York was a long way from San Diego. Johnny glanced to the other room, almost wishing he could be a fly on the wall. "Do you think he's upset?"

"Yes," she said simply. "He's only just started to settle into life here, finding his feet, and now this is reaching out to pull him away from his family again. I can't imagine how awful that must feel."

"Maybe she's wrong. Maybe it's not Hydra. Lucas said she was kind of cryptic, didn't he? Maybe they misunderstood," Johnny said, hoping against hope, though from what Fliss and Lucas had told them, the information did seem to be pointing toward Hydra.

"To be honest, I'd rather it was Hydra," Liv said worriedly. "At least we know how they work. We don't want a new group trying to hurt our family, Johnny."

"But the only way they could hurt us is if they knew where we were," Johnny said, his voice trailing off, a worried expression on his face. "You don't think they'd use Lucas or Matt to find us, do you?"

She didn't want to say it, but ... "They might," Liv said with a sigh. "They almost killed me, thinking I was Lucy, knowing it would tear Steve apart to lose her. They go for the weakest link, Johnny, every time."

"The weakest link," Johnny echoed, trying to sort out who or what that was. The kids, he thought. They were his Achilles' Heel. Liv and Lucy, too. Suddenly, Johnny's expression darkened with anger. "Anyone tries to hurt my family and they'll answer to me."

She reached over to take his hand, needing him to stay at least calm if not collected. Steve and Lucy were bound to be knotted up over this news; they didn't need the Storms to be feeding that anger and worry when they returned.

A couple of flames broke out on Johnny's shoulder, but were quickly doused as soon as Liv took his hand. "When is it gonna end, Liv? I thought we were safe. I thought the kids were safe." He wasn't even sure how safe Maple Grove would be if Hydra decided to seek them out.

"I don't know," she said, disheartened. "But I do know that you and Steve, and Lucy and Nat, and all our friends, will do everything you can to keep us safe."

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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2019, 02:51:21 PM »
Realizing he was upsetting her with his own worries, he gave her hand a squeeze and offered a soft smile. "Don't worry, Livvie. We'll figure it out. I promised you I'd keep you safe, and I mean to keep that promise." He touched a kiss to her lips, as if to seal that promise. They'd defeated Hydra once; they'd simply have to do it again.

She leaned into him as he kissed her, needing his warmth for a moment to reassure herself that the worst had not happened, and might not even come close to happening. They'd been warned in advance; that was far more than they had had last time Hydra had reared its head.

And there was nothing Steve wouldn't do to protect his family, and that family included them. No, Johnny decided, this was a blessing in disguise. If Lucas' father was indeed loyal to Hydra, at least, they'd been warned about it and had time to do something about it to keep their family safe.

"Don't forget, the fortuneteller told them they were going to get married soon and live a long and happy life together," Johnny reminded her, smiling.

"Well, they are already working on the wedding," Liv managed, producing a smile that, while small, was still genuine. "And children, don't forget - a boy and a girl. So you are going to be a grandfather, just perhaps not as soon as you thought."

"I still say I'm too young to be a grandfather," Johnny said, relaxing a little now that the conversation had shifted to a happier subject. "Our little girl is all grown up," he said with a sigh, almost forgetting that Fliss was already a teenager when they'd adopted her.

"She's still going to be our little girl," she reminded him fondly, glad to have a break from the tension, however short that break might turn out to be. "Tony's going to have a fit over what to get for their wedding. He already went above and beyond with the car."

"Tell him to buy them a honeymoon," Johnny suggested with a smirk. Because they didn't really need a house, as there were plenty at Maple Grove.

"That's not a bad idea," she laughed softly, leaning against his side with a quiet sigh. "I wish we could just enjoy that chapter without all the worry we have all over again."

"It'll be okay, Liv," Johnny assured her, hoping he was right. "Steve will make sure A.E.G.I.S. gets to the bottom of it. Even if Luc's father is Hydra, I doubt he'd want any harm to come to his sons," he reasoned, hopefully.

"We can hope," she murmured, lifting up a half-hearted smile for him as Lucy came back into the kitchen.

"Steve's just finishing up on the phone," she told them. "We've got people on it."

Johnny nodded, as Lucy proved his point - or at least, one of his points. "Good! See? Got it covered! In the meantime, how can we make sure Luc and Matt are safe?" he asked, and by extension, Fliss and everyone else connected to the Fosters. And who was going to tell Jessica?

"We've got tracking coms we can give them," Lucy mused. "They'll be able to communicate across the Nexus if necessary, and obviously they can be tracked with them. I think it's just a case of giving them the warning and asking them to let us know if anything suspicious or unusual happens."

"And they have the bloodstone rings," Johnny pointed out, which had been given to most everyone who lived at Maple Grove, but those who didn't really need them, like Johnny and Steve. The rings would only work in RhyDin, but all one had to do was press the stone and they'd be whisked away to the safe room at Maple Grove Manor.

Lucy nodded. "They already have that layer of protection, yeah," she agreed, sitting down with a sigh. "At least we have some idea of where they're going to strike this time."

"Do we though?" Johnny asked, not so sure. "I mean, we don't know if Luc's father knows about RhyDin, much less Hydra. We might still have the advantage."

"We might," Steve agreed, as he joined them, looking pensive but not grim. "But we have to assume the worst."

"We're going to need to talk to Jessica," Lucy said, glancing over at her twin. Liv was closest to Jessica of all of them, after all.

Liv looked reluctant, but nodded. "All right. What do you need me to ask her?"

"Ask her if Daniel knows about RhyDin," Steve replied. "Ask her if he knows how to contact her or how to find her or the boys, if he wanted to."

That was Step One, though Steve knew Hydra had their sources, too. So far, they'd been careful about keeping RhyDin a secret, but all it would take is one mistake for Hydra to track them here.

Liv nodded. They didn't need to worry about her forgetting - Liv never forgot anything, no matter how trivial. That's why Jonathan Granger had dubbed Liv the Nexus' Best Personal Assistant.

"I'll ask," she assured them. "I'm sorry we brought you such bad news."

Steve frowned, more worried than angry. "It was only a matter of time before Hydra reared its ugly head again. I was didn't think it would be so soon."

"It's not your fault," Lucy said quickly, laying her hand over Steve's. "It's no one's fault. Even if they are going to make a move, they have little to no resources now. We cut them off. Whatever they're going to try, they only have one chance at it, and they know it. We'll stop them."

"They'll be more careful this time," Steve said. "Johnny, make sure all the kids have Bloodstone rings and make sure they wear them. I know it's Matt and Lucas we're worried about here, but if Hydra finds out where they are, it puts everyone at Maple Grove at risk. I'll talk to Humphrey and Jason about increasing security. It's almost summer break. Do you think it would be prudent to homeschool the kids until the year is out?"

"We were going to anyway," Liv pointed out. "Better to have them here than dealing with the appalling people at that school any longer. It's only a couple of weeks more for lessons anyway."

Steve nodded. "What do you think Tony would say if we asked him to postpone the wedding?" He didn't really want to do that, but could they ensure the family's safety knowing there was a rogue Hydra cell out there somewhere? Especially at such a high-profile event as Tony Stark's wedding?

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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2019, 02:53:08 PM »
"I think Pepper would make a spirited attempt to kill you, darling," Lucy told her husband with a wry smile. "Do you really think they'd be that bold? Tony's wedding will be incredibly high profile, not to mention the sheer number of heroes and agents that will be in attendance."

"All in one place, all at the same time," Steve pointed out, taking a different tact than Lucy. It would be a perfect time to attack; a perfect time to take out the Avengers and half of A.E.G.I.S. "Better safe than sorry, Luce."

"You'd have better luck telling him why you're worried, and suggesting that he elopes with Pepper and has a small destination wedding somewhere random," Liv offered. She was slightly better at manipulating Tony than the others, mainly because he was generally terrified of ever saying no to her.

"Maybe you would. I doubt he'd listen to me," Steve said, still frowning.

"Let's talk to Jessica first before we jump to conclusions," Johnny suggested. He didn't want anyone to panic, and if Hydra was watching, he didn't want them to get suspicious.

"You're right," Lucy agreed. "When did you become the voice of reason, Everlast?" This, she offered with a teasing smile as she looked over to him.

Johnny shrugged, grinning proudly. "Since becoming a Dad?" he asked, though it was more statement than question.

"Sorry, I don't mean to push the panic button. I just know Hydra," Steve said, fingering the label on his beer.

"To be fair, we're the ones who pushed the button," Liv pointed out. "We thought you should know. They only just told us, themselves."

Lucy smiled reassuringly over at her sister. "You said something about good news, as well."

"Oh, yeah!" Johnny chuckled and nudged Liv, almost forgetting. "You tell them, Liv!" he said with a grin.

Steve blinked out of his worries and looked from Johnny to Liv. "Another baby?" he guessed.

"Oh god, no!" Liv laughed at Steve's guess. "The twins aren't even a year old!" She giggled, shaking her head. "No, Fliss and Lucas have tentatively set a date."

"Oh! That's great news!" Steve said, his expression brightening a little. Yes, he was worried, but he was only worried because he cared so much. "Congratulations! So, when are they getting married?"

"At the moment, it's definitely autumn, and probably October," Liv answered in amusement. "Family affair sort of thing, apparently - they say they don't need a fuss made."

Lucy scoffed. "They're getting a fuss," she said firmly. "Even if I have to make it myself."

"Once all this business with ..." Steve trailed off. "Once things settle down again," he rephrased what he was going to say.

"It's gonna be okay, Steve," Johnny assured his hero. "We have the advantage this time, and Fliss and Lucas deserve happiness. The fortune-teller said they're gonna have a long, happy life together."

"And that Johnny's going to be a grandfather," Liv added, deliberately steering the conversation away from the heaviness of the worry hanging over them all.

Lucy snorted with laughter. "What, already?"

"No!" Johnny said, laughing. "Not yet. At least, I don't think so." His expression changed as he realized the implication of what he was saying. "You don't think they've ... you know ..." He trailed off, waving a hand in the air, which didn't do much to explain his train of thought.

Lucy dissolved into silent laughter, leaning on Steve in an attempt not to fall out of her chair. Liv patted Johnny's hand.

"Sweetheart, we've had this conversation," she reminded him affectionately. "Yes, they have definitely had sex. Many times by now."

Johnny frowned. He didn't remember having that conversation before, but if Liv said they had, then they probably had. Even Steve couldn't help smirking, linking an arm with Lucy's to keep her from sliding off her chair. He had probably been the world's oldest virgin before he'd met Lucy, but it had been a different kind of world then.

"Try not to think too hard about it, Johnny," he told his brother-in-law.

"Don't worry," Liv told Johnny with a fond smile. "I had the talk with her. She got very embarrassed when Lucy started getting out bananas and condoms and those appalling anatomical drawings."

Johnny groaned. "That's more than I need to know!"

Despite everything, even Steve couldn't help chuckling. "She's not a kid anymore, Johnny," he reminded him helpfully.

"Don't remind me!" Johnny replied.

"Perhaps you and Ed should commiserate together," Liv suggested teasingly. "He's having trouble accepting that Zahan is definitely not a little girl anymore."

"Zahan doesn't have a boyfriend!" Johnny bemoaned, though he was fond of Lucas. In fact, he couldn't think of anyone he'd rather have marry his little girl than Lucas.

"Yet," Lucy pointed out. "She's the same age Fliss was when she met Lucas."

Liv rolled her eyes laughingly. "Be fair," she chided her twin. "We have enough teen drama in this family without encouraging more in the Granger's!"

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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2019, 02:53:46 PM »
"Was it that long ago?" Johnny asked, frowning. It seemed like it was just yesterday, he and Liv had gone to the orphanage looking for a child in need of a good home and had found Fliss. "My little girl's all grown up."

"And still your little girl," Liv told him once again. "Who you will be walking down the aisle in a few months, so you should probably get the mournful look off your face before then, sweetheart."

"I'm not mournful," Johnny said, though he didn't look particularly happy either. He was happy for Fliss; he just wasn't sure he was ready for her to grow up.

"How does the saying go?" Steve asked. "You're not losing a daughter, you're gaining a son?"

"A son's a son 'til he takes a wife, but your daughter's your daughter all your life," Lucy murmured, looking down at her hands with a faint smile. She couldn't remember where she'd heard that, but it had definitely stuck with her.

"I'm happy for her. I am!" Johnny said, almost as if he was trying to convince himself of that fact.

Fliss had moved out and in with Lucas months ago, but she lived close by enough that they saw her often. Johnny knew nothing was going to change by her getting married. What was it that was worrying him then? Was it the fact that they'd been so close and now that she had Lucas, she didn't need him anymore? Or so he thought.

Liv smiled, squeezing his hand. "Maybe you should have a father-daughter day sometime soon," she suggested gently. "I'm sure she wouldn't say no."

"And do what? She's too old to take out for ice cream," Johnny said, though that wasn't really true.

Steve laughed. "Johnny, no one is ever too old for ice cream!"

"Why not go to the Wonderplex?" Lucy suggested. "You two are insane with those rides, and no one else ever wants to go on the worst ones with you."

"Oh! Good idea!" Johnny said, wondering why he hadn't thought of it himself. "You don't think anyone would mind if we go alone?" he asked, his question mostly aimed at Liv.

"They might grumble a little, but they won't mind," Liv assured him, certain of that.

Alex would pick up the reason out of Johnny's mind, and Maria would understand better than any of them that Johnny needed that time with his eldest. As for the toddler and the twins, they didn't need to know.

"I'll make it up to them another day," Johnny said. Maybe it was silly, but he needed a day with his eldest, if only to show her how much she meant to him - as if she didn't know that already.

"I think it's a great idea," Steve added his two cents.

"Of course it's a great idea, I had it," Lucy laughed, nudging Steve impishly. "All my ideas are great, right?"

"Would this be counting the idea that you were quite capable of making a tiered birthday cake, and it came out looking like that disaster in Sleeping Beauty?" Liv asked her sister merrily.

"I think I better plead the Fifth," Steve remarked with a grin. At least, he was no longer moping or looking overly worried. He could thank his wife and in-laws for that. He leaned over to smooch Lucy's cheek, just because.

"I think maybe this is where we came in," Johnny said, nudging Liv and offering her a wink.

"Do you know, I think you're right," she giggled back to Johnny. "Do you think it's where we pull out, too?"

Lucy choked on her laughter. "Oh god, Livvie, you need to scan your sentences before you say them out loud!"

"Just for the record, I never pull out," Johnny said, grinning.

"Too much information!" Steve said, laughing.

"Okay, okay, we get the hint," Johnny said, pushing to his feet. "C'mon, Liv. I think we've worn out our welcome."

"Well, we don't have the kids for another couple of hours," Liv murmured. "I could wear you out while we wait."

"Yes, definitely your cue to leave," Lucy agreed with a chuckle, watching the pair of them rise.

"I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon," Johnny remarked, with a grin at his wife. "See you later!" he told the other pair as he ushered his wife toward the door. "And try not to worry!"

With Steve and Lucy's goodbyes following them out, Liv and Johnny slipped out into the afternoon sunshine, feeling much better than they had when they had arrived. A problem shared might not be a problem halved, but given that there must be at least a dozen highly trained agents bringing their skills to bear on this problem, the worry wouldn't niggle quite so much. After all, they had a wedding to help plan, and that was not a problem at all.