Author Topic: After the Fires  (Read 76 times)

Johnny Storm

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After the Fires
« on: October 22, 2020, 02:04:43 PM »
Despite Rhy'Din being home now, Johnny Storm hadn't stopped paying attention to the news back on Earth, especially with a sister and her family still there. But this time around, it wasn't the East Coast that concerned him, so much as the West Coast. It seemed 2020 was a crappy year all around for those who called Earth home, which made Johnny just as glad he and Liv had decided to stay and raise their family on Rhy'Din. That said, he still cared about his home planet, and he couldn't very well sit idly by while wild fires raged on the west coast when he knew he could help.   

Though she had decided not to join her father at the fire station - at least, for now - Fliss had insisted on accompanying him to Earth. After all, she possessed similar abilities where fire was concerned and had already proved her worth. Though Johnny had resisted at first, concerned for her safety, she was an adult now, capable of making her own decisions, and there was no one he'd rather have at his side.

With Sue on the ground, coordinating the fire breaks and containing the worst of the spread by sheer force of will, it had been the Storm father and daughter slowly drawing the heat from the flames to extinguish them for two long, arduous weeks. "God, I feel like I could sleep for a month," Fliss groaned as she packed her backpack for the trip home.

"I feel like I could sleep for a year!" Johnny remarked with a chuckle. He'd been through exhausting missions before, but nothing quite like this. The threat of fire, though never entirely extinguished, was at least at a manageable level now and with minimal loss of life. "You were awesome, by the way," he praised his eldest.

Caught in the process of stretching out her back and pretending not to yawn, there was a pause before Fliss answered him. "Well, I had a really great teacher, you know."

"I can't deny that," Johnny agreed with a grin, though he was mostly teasing. He might have helped teach her how to use her abilities, but the rest she had done on her own. "I'm proud of you, Fliss," he said, turning serious. "And I hope you never have to go through anything like that again, but how's the saying go? With great power comes great responsibility or something like that?"

"You sound like that Parker kid's uncle," she teased him back, nudging her elbow against his side affectionately. "You know it goes both ways, right? I'm proud of you, too."

He shrugged, his expression a mixture of pride and embarrassment. "Can't very well sit on my ass when people need my help, can I?" he asked, though it was a rhetorical question.

"Oh, geez, can you not mention your ass when Mom's parting words to you involved biting you on it when you got back?" she asked, feigning disgust. Now she was a married woman herself, however, it was definitely feigned. She had a feeling Lucas was going to both scold and welcome her when they got back.

"Oh, come on. Don't be a prude," he said, nudging her back. Fliss and Lucas were married now, and he knew they had to have sex, but he didn't really want to think of his daughter that way.

"You're my parents," she reminded him laughingly. "I'm allowed to be squicked out by the thought of you getting jiggy with it."

"Yeah, well, that goes double," he said, struggling to zip his duffel bag closed as it was too stuffed with clothes he couldn't be bothered to fold.

She glanced down at his bag and snorted with laughter. "How did you ever manage before you had Mom?" she asked him, batting his hands away from his bag to open it up and start folding his clothes so it would shut for him.

"Uh, I just bought new clothes," he admitted. Or didn't bother wearing anything but his collection of fireproof uniforms. That didn't really answer her question though. Once upon a time, he had Sue to take care of him, but that was a long time ago.

"You're adorable," his daughter informed him with a fond grin. She was silent for a moment as she folded his underwear. "This felt good, you know? Last time I did something that used my powers, people died. This time, people lived. I like that better."

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2020, 02:04:59 PM »
He only smiled a little sheepishly at the compliment. At least, he thought it was a compliment. "Yeah, it did ... does. It feels better to be helping people than fighting bad guys, but fighting bad guys is a way of helping, too."

"I don't like hurting people," she admitted. "I only want to do it if I have no other choice." There was a pause, and she snorted with laughter. "Pretty sure Lucas' dad is spitting feathers at being referred to as my father-in-law, though. You know, rather than me being his daughter-in-law."

"Yeah, well ... For a guy who didn't want a mutant for a son, I'd say he got the better part of the deal. I mean, his daughter-in-law helping put out fires is pretty good P.R., if you ask me," Johnny pointed out. As a career politician, he was pretty sure Daniel Foster would find a way to spin it in his favor.

"Whaddya wanna bet Uncle Tony will jump on that press and twist it back?" Fliss challenged with a grin. Tony Stark had a bee in his bonnet for putting Daniel Foster's nose out of joint, and it was entirely because the man had rejected the son who was now Tony's nephew by marriage.

 "I wouldn't take that bet in a million years!" Johnny replied. Tony Stark might be his brother-in-law, but he was not all that predictable, at least, as far as Johnny was concerned.

She laughed, finally tugging the zipper on his bag back into place. "I guess it all depends on whether or not I survive Luc's welcome home," she said with a grin.

"I'm pretty sure he's gonna be happy to see you," her father assured her. Lucas had been calling every night to make sure she was okay, beating even Liv's record.

"He's still gonna yell at me for taking risks, though," she pointed out. "Just like Mom yells at you, only with less teasing."

"Calculated risks," Johnny corrected. "There's a difference." They were never really alone fighting the fires. There were other people there helping, both professionals and volunteers. They were the ones who were really in harms' way, not Johnny and Fliss. In Johnny's mind, they were the real heroes.

 "That one doesn't work on him," Fliss said in amusement. "He knows how bad I am at math." She flashed her father a grin, tossing his bag at him before lifting her own onto her shoulder. "Thanks for letting me come along, though."

Johnny frowned at his daughter as he caught his bag. "Fliss, we made a difference here. You made a difference. What good would our powers - our abilities - be if we didn't use them to help people?"

"I know," she agreed. "He likes worrying, it gives him something to do when I'm not there to get on his nerves." She was fully aware that she was not painting her marriage in the best light, but she also knew that Johnny was perfectly well aware of just how strong his daughter's relationship was.

"He worries because he loves you," he told her, though he was pretty sure she knew that already. "Your mom worries, too," he said, frowning a little. Liv might worry, but she couldn't change who or what he was.

"I know that, too," Fliss assured him, still grinning. "It all balances out, you know? The make up sex is out of this world." She stuck her tongue out at Johnny, daring him to argue with her on that point.

He rolled his eyes and put a hand up. "Too much information!" he warned her. He slung his duffel over a shoulder. "Ready to go home?"

She let out a relaxed sigh. "Yeah. Let's go home." And likely startle their family, since everyone was expecting them back tomorrow morning.

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2020, 02:05:46 PM »
He slung an arm around her shoulder. As much as he'd enjoyed spending time with his daughter, they were both eager to be home with their family. "Love you, Fliss," he told her, planting a kiss on her cheek.

She leaned into his side, smiling as he kissed her cheek. "Love you back, Dad." But they had been away from home for two long weeks, and neither one had the patience to wait one more night. Besides, it was funny to imagine the look on Tony's face when he realized his guests had absconded without his knowledge sometime in the night.

"You got the portal device thingy?" he asked. He wasn't very good with tech of any sort, which was why he had given it to her for safekeeping. Besides, he wasn't sure if his elevated body heat  would cause it to malfunction, and he didn't really want to have to call Tony for help.

"Uh, yeah." She dug the portal stone out of her pocket, jangling it on the end of the keychain Matt had put it on when he realized it was spending way too much time in the junk bowl, right out there were anyone could see it. Attaching the stone to her keys was a sure fire way to make sure Fliss nearly always had it on her.

"Let's go home," he told her, a warm smile on his face as he linked his arm with hers. They'd done what they'd come here to do, and now it was time to go home. They'd been gone long enough, and they were both getting more than a little homesick.

The mansion was quiet as they made their way down to the ground floor, with only the barest mumble of sound coming from the main room the live-in Avengers used as a sort of common area. Fliss couldn't help smiling to herself at the sound of the group laughing, even as they stepped out into the dark evening. "I'm glad they're getting on better here."

"Sure you don't want to say good-bye?" he asked as they made their way from the mansion. Though the fires had been on the West Coast, they'd originally portaled into New York to meet up with Sue before heading west, and they were returning via the same route.

Fliss shook her head with a smile. "They'll keep us here all night drinking if we go up there now," she predicted, chuckling. "I'm not that eager for a hangover!"

He frowned, a little uneasy about the idea of his friends encouraging his daughter to get drunk. Here in New York, she wasn't even old enough to drink legally yet, but the frown was quick to disappear, knowing she was mostly joking. "Neither am I!" he said, though he had to drink a lot to get drunk these days. "Besides, your mother would kill me."

"Oh, please," Fliss drawled. "Where she's from, I've been legal to drink for three years already." She grinned at her father, knowing perfectly well that the discrepancy was what made it harder for him to discipline drinking once she hit seventeen.

"You don't think she'd have a problem with you getting drunk?" he asked, brows arching upwards. There was a significant difference between drinking and getting drunk, however. Fortunately, Fliss had never been the kind of teen who seemed all that interested in that sort of thing.

"I think she'd have a problem with it if I was doing it every night," his eldest pointed out. "But once in a while doesn't do any harm, right?" She nudged him with a grin. "Besides, I only ever get drunk with people who can control me."

"And who would that be?" Johnny asked, as the two of them descended the stairs of the mansion and started across the grounds.

"You, Luc, Aunt Nat," she answered, counting them off on her fingers. "You, because you kill me with the disappointment thing; Luc, because he gives me other things to do with my mouth; and Nat, because she is totally fine with punching me if I go too far."

Johnny waved a hand at his daughter as soon as she mentioned Luc. "Okay, okay, too much info again!" he scolded with a chuckle. He knew Fliss adored Luc, but he didn't really want to hear about the details of their love life.

 "You squirm more than Alexei does," she accused him fondly, pulling out the portal stone as they approached the hedged in circle where the permanent entry to and from Rhy'Din had been set up on this Earth. "Maybe I should speak up in front of both of you when Mom and Aunt Lucy are around - they'd love to watch it."


Johnny Storm

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2020, 02:06:03 PM »
"Alexei doesn't know about the birds and the bees yet," Johnny pointed out. Or so he assumed anyway. "He just thinks girls are gross." Girls that aren't his sisters or cousins, anyway.

"And girls think he's adorable," she laughed, activating the stone. The portal swirled into existence, barely visible in the darkness. "After you, Daddy dearest."

"He'll change his mind someday," Johnny presumed. Probably sooner rather than later. "See you on the other side," he told her with a wink before letting go of her arm to step through the portal on the way home.

Smirking to herself, Fliss let him go first just long enough that when she ran through herself, she could barrel straight into Johnny's back in a playful tackle. "Gotcha!"

On the other side of the portal, they tumbled out onto the grass somewhere at Maple Grove, Johnny groaning as Fliss landed on top of him. "Aren't you getting a little too old for that?" he asked, rolling her off him and rubbing his back.

She cackled as she rolled onto her back, letting out a happy sigh as she looked up at the stars overhead. They could already hear the sounds of the Storm and Rogers houses nearby, the younger children already settled into bed and the older on their way. "I'll never be too old for it," she informed her father impishly. "It's way too much fun to get one over on you now and then."

"Well, I might get too old for it," he pointed out, rolling onto his back beside her. They'd just spent two weeks together back on Earth and they were anxious to see their family, but this moment of quiet between father and daughter was too rare to pass up. "The stars are different here," he said, as if he'd only just noticed, though he'd noticed a long time ago.

"I like that no one can agree what the constellations are here," she mused. "Ask one person, and they say that one is a boar. Ask someone else, and they'll tell you it's one half of a naked woman. But they're still the same stars, no matter what people call them."

"There's a lot no one can agree on here," Johnny pointed out, though that was hardly important. Maybe people were just people, whether they called Earth or Rhy'Din home and whether they were human or not.

"But they don't go to war over it," she responded. "Most people just accept their differences. I got lucky to grow up in Rhy'Din - almost as lucky as I was to get adopted by you."

He looked over at her a moment, blue eyes bright in the darkness, like starlight. "We were the lucky ones - your mom and me - to have found you," he said, reaching over to take her hand and give it a gentle squeeze.

She grinned, glancing over at him, the little flicker of flame always present in her own gaze more clearly visible in the darkness. "Are we gonna argue about who's the luckiest?"

"No, let's just say we're equally lucky," he said. Fliss had escaped the lonely life of the orphanage, and Liv and Johnny had chosen their first child. Who was to say which was the luckier?

She grinned, shifting to sit up and look across the grass to the little group of houses. "I guess I should head home," she mused softly. "Unless Mom's holding Luc hostage."

"Why don't you come in and find out?" he asked. If Luc wasn't there, Liv would at least know where he was, but he knew Luc well enough to know he wouldn't want to be alone all this time.

Fliss' smile softened as she thought it over. "All right," she agreed, heaving herself up onto her feet to offer him her hand. "C'mon, old man, up you get."

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2020, 02:06:20 PM »
"Old? I'm only thirty-three," he told her, though he'd  never kept his age a secret. He enjoyed birthday parties as much as anyone, but he wasn't sure he liked the idea of getting old. He took her hand and pulled himself to his feet, pausing a moment to crack his back, but only because she'd tackled him.

"You're older than me," she pointed out with a cheeky grin. "Ask Alex what constitutes old sometime - it's an eye opener."

"Alex thinks sixteen is ancient," Johnny said. To be fair, sixteen probably did seem ancient when you were only eleven.

"And yet he can't wait to be sixteen," the big sister laughed, hiking her bag onto her shoulder once again. "C'mon. Betcha the kids're waiting up just in case you get home early."

"Let's not rush it. He'll be sixteen soon enough," Johnny said, almost dreading that day, not because it meant he himself would be older, but because it meant another of their children would be almost grown up. He plucked his duffel up off the grass and slung it over a shoulder, eager to see the smiles on his family's faces and know he was home.

Falling into step with him, Fliss let the last of her tension relax from her shoulders, letting go of the stress of the last two weeks, safe in the knowledge that they were home, and they were well. They had helped avert disaster for so many people, and they had both come through it all in one piece.

But before they could reach the front door, the door was flung open and a stream of Storms were racing toward them to greet them. That's what happened when you had children with heightened telepathic awareness. "Papa!" Alex cried, throwing himself at his father's legs in greeting.

Maria was not far behind her brother, hugging Johnny's other leg happily as Liv came to the back door. Bella, too, came bounding out to greet them, torn between smothering Johnny with love, or just tackling Fliss to the ground.

Johnny laughed at the greeting, beaming happily. He knew they'd done a good thing, but this was where he belonged. "Okay, okay, I missed you, too!" he said, crouching down to hug his children tight and risking a sloppy kiss from Bella. He looked past the children then to Liv, a smile on his face that was just for her. "Hi, honey, I'm home."

"Welcome back, Major," Liv teased affectionately. She had been expecting him, but it would be a wonderful surprise for the little girls in the morning when they woke up and Papa was home already.

"Major?" Fliss queried, tilting her head at her father curiously.

"Inside joke," Johnny said, with a shrug. If he had to explain, the pun lost all its humor.

Behind Liv, another figure emerged from the house, unmistakable even in the darkness from the silhouette of wings at his back. "You're back," Lucas murmured, a smile lighting his face as he stepped around Liv and went to greet Fliss.

"Yup, we're back!" Leaving her curiosity to one side about her parents' in-jokes, Fliss beamed as she moved to meet her husband with a smile and a kiss. "Miss me?"

"Every second," Lucas confirmed, his arms sliding around her waist to pull her close, despite the small crowd looking on. They'd seen as much already.

Johnny cleared his throat as he got to his feet again, taking Alex's hand on his left and Maria's on his right. "Time to say goodnight. It's well past your bedtime," he told them, though it was really just an excuse to give Fliss and Luc some privacy.

Alex groaned. "Do we have to? You just got home."


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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2020, 02:06:36 PM »
"Yes, you have to," Liv reminded the kids. "Because you are still going to school tomorrow, whether you sleep or not. Evil mum is evil, I know." She flashed a smile at the pair, careful not to glance in Fliss and Lucas' direction either.

Johnny smirked as he led the way back to the house. "Go home, Fliss," he said, as he passed the young couple, their house a short walk away.

"Come to dinner tomorrow," Liv added, flashing their eldest a warm smile. She knew, as well as Johnny did, that tonight was definitely all about reconnecting.

Fliss smiled, gently drawing back from her kiss with Lucas to wave at her parents and siblings. "Night, guys," she called. "We'll see you tomorrow!"

"Night!" Lucas called back, mirroring Fliss' wave, a smile on his face that hadn't been there for two weeks now that Fliss was home. He'd volunteered to join them, but he knew he'd only get in the way.

"It's good to be home," Johnny said, pausing to greet his wife with a kiss.

"It's good to have you home," Liv agreed, sliding her arms about his waist to return his kiss with smiling lips, ignoring the disgusted noises coming from Alexei for a moment.

"Why don't you two go put your PJs on?" Johnny suggested, letting go of his children's hands so that he could properly greet his wife, as Lucas had greeted Fliss.

Maria tugged on his pants for a moment to get his attention. "Are you home now for always again?" she signed, her eyes wide with hope.

Johnny couldn't ignore that question or the look in his little girl's eyes. He crouched down again, pulling both his children closer - children he and Liv had chosen to be part of their family, like Fliss. "I can't promise I'll never have to go away again, but I can promise that I'll always come back," he told her, looking from one to the other.

"Did you and Fliss put the fires out?" Alex asked curiously.

"Mostly," Johnny replied, honestly enough. "There are still some fires burning, but they're mostly under control now." At least, until next time.

"Did you make them go cold, or did you blow on them really hard until they went out?" Maria asked, apparently fascinated by the whole thing. Liv bit her lip, trying not to smile too openly at the blatant bit of manipulation that had resulted in bedtime being pushed back just a little while longer.

Johnny knew there was a little manipulation going on here, but he didn't really mind. He'd been away from his family for two weeks, and he'd missed them just as much as they'd missed him. He didn't think a few more minutes would matter too much. "You know it doesn't work that way, Mo," he told her, his expression a mixture of fondness and amusement. "I absorbed the flames mostly. He held up a hand, a small fire bursting into flame before he drew the other hand over the flame, and it disappeared, like it was nothing more than a magic trick.

"But didn't that make you get really, really hot?" Maria inched closer, her eyes still wide with interest even as she peered at the flame on his palm.

"Sweetheart, I'm always hot," he reminded her with a grin. There could be more than one meaning to his statement, but it was unlikely his daughter would know that.

"I can get some ice," Maria offered, much to the amusement of her mother.

Liv smiled, reaching down to stroke their daughter's hair. "Papa's teasing you, sweetheart."


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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2020, 02:06:53 PM »
"It would only melt," he added, with a wink at Liv. "Anyway, most of the fires are under control now, and Fliss and I are home safe and sound, and that's all that matters, right?" he said. "Did you miss me?" he added, that smirk back on his face again.

Little Maria nodded, throwing her arms around Johnny's neck to hug him tight all over again. A warm pulse of worried affection made itself known in his heart, a sharing of her feelings through the empathic abilities she was learning to control.

Not to be upstaged by his sister, Alex followed suit. He was still young enough that he wasn't afraid to show affection for his family members, including his parents. "We all missed you, Papa ... Even Lir!" he told his father.

Watching as Johnny was smothered with love by his older children, Liv smiled to herself, letting him have as much time as he needed. Alex and Maria were almost certainly delaying bedtime on purpose, and she knew it, but at the same time, she didn't blame them for it. Johnny had been missed, and he deserved to know it.

Johnny ate up the love for as long as he could, before Alex pulled away to ask, "Can we have milk and cookies before bed?"

 Johnny chuckled. He didn't doubt that they'd missed him, but he was well aware they were conning him, too. "I don't know, can you?" he asked, looking to Liv for an answer.

Liv didn't even try to hide the grin on her face as she answered. "Seeing as you've already had milk and cookies tonight, I'm going to go with a big ol' nope," she informed them, chuckling at the brazen impudence. "Honestly, you'd think Papa and I never actually talk to each other sometimes!"

Alex blew out a breath and pouted, though he couldn't very well argue with his mother when she was right. "Sorry, Mama," he murmured.

"Tell you what ..." Johnny was quick to interject. "If you both go right to sleep, I'll make my special chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, okay?"

Maria's eyes went wide with hopeful excitement, a promise that earned Johnny another kiss and a hug before she seized her brother's hand and started to tug him toward the stairs.

Liv laughed quietly, bending to kiss Alex's hair. "Nice try," she complimented him. "Maybe next time."

"G'night!" Alex told them both, glad his mother wasn't angry with him. Chocolate chip pancakes were better than cookies anyway.

"Not too early!" Johnny called as the pair thumped their way up the stairs to bed.

Laughing, Liv leaned against the wall, listening to the thump of feet up the stairs and into bedrooms. "They've missed you," she said, looking over at Johnny.

"Did you miss me?" he asked, taking a step closer so that he could wind his arms around his wife's waist and kiss her nose.

"Mmm, I might be persuaded to admit to that, yes," she teased softly, that tease belied easily by the way she went so willingly into his arms to cuddle close. "You smell gorgeously smoky, by the way."

His brows arched upwards at her statement, even as she snuggled in. "I took a shower!" he insisted, pausing a moment to take a sniff of his own clothes, but he and Fliss had been so engulfed in smoke for the last two weeks that he was a little immune to the smell.

She chuckled, hugging her arms tight about him. "I like that smoky smell, believe it or not," she informed him. That must have been odd to know, given that she herself had been in a life-threatening fire not so very long ago. But that smell reminded her of him, and how could she not love it?

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2020, 02:07:10 PM »
"I wonder if I taste smoky," he mused aloud. "Smoked Johnny, that's me," he added with a smirk at his own corny joke.

She snorted with laughter. "I don't think I've ever acquired a taste for smoked sausage," she admitted with a wicked little grin, final
ly rising up onto her toes to claim a proper kiss. "Welcome home, sweetheart."

"It's good to be home," he murmured against her lips before indulging in that kiss and deepening it. It had only been two weeks, but he had missed her, too. He had never been away from her for that long before and never wanted to be again.

Liv hugged herself close to him, letting her kisses tell him how deeply he had been missed. She would never stop him from following where his heart told him he needed to go, so long as he always came back to her.

There was no doubt he'd always come back. While New York would always feel like home, Rhy'Din was where his family was and hence, where his heart was. This was where he always wanted to be.

The best thing about leaving was having a home to come back to, and Fliss was just now discovering how sweet that really was. There was something very special about being welcomed home by someone who loved you, who had missed you as much as you missed them. So special, in fact, that she hadn't stopped grinning like a fool yet.

Lucas hadn't been very vocal about welcoming Fliss home in front of her family, but the kisses they'd since shared had said more than words. He was proud of her for doing what she could to help with the fires, but he had missed her terribly.

It took them a little longer than usual to make the walk from her parents' house to their own, given the amount of kisses shared every few steps, but finally they were behind their own front door, and the very last vestiges of tension relaxed from Fliss' shoulders. She smiled up at Lucas tenderly. "I missed you, you know that?"

"I missed you, too," he told her, glad they were behind closed doors now, so that he could show her how much he missed her without embarrassing himself. "I was worried about you," he added with a small frown.

"I'm sorry," she apologized, and she meant it. Her fingers stroked gently against his cheek. "I never meant to worry you. I'm never in danger when it's fire, baby. And besides, Dad's too much of a helicopter to let me get hurt."

"I know, but I couldn't help it. Matt and Cas tried to take my mind off things, but it was hard," he admitted. It wasn't that he didn't believe in her or trust her, but only that he was worried about her safety, fire or no. "I'm proud of you though," he added, smiling softly.

She nuzzled to him, smiling her own soft smile in response. "It feels good, to be able to use what I was born with to help without hurting people," she said quietly. "But I don't think I'm ever going to be a hero with a capital H. I'm happy just being Fliss."

"Maybe you were given that gift for a reason," he pointed out. It wasn't the first time he had mentioned it. He wasn't so sure about his own supposed "gift", but he was about hers.

"Still not sure it's a gift," she insisted, dismissing the kinder means of describing her ability with a fond smile. "You're a gift, though. One of these days, I'm going to wrap you up with a ribbon just so I can unwrap you slowly."

"Well, Christmas is coming," he teased with a smirk. It would be their first Christmas together as a married couple, but he thought she deserved more than just him for Christmas. "Are you tired? Hungry?" he asked, searching her face as if he might find the answers in her eyes.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 02:08:51 PM by Johnny Storm »

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2020, 02:07:27 PM »
To be fair, she did look tired. It had been a rough couple of weeks for her, but she wasn't ready to sleep yet. "I'm good," she promised him. "So much better now I'm home." Without conscious thought, she curled her arms around him, burying her face into the crook of his neck to breathe him in. "I love being home. I love you."

He smiled, happy to just hold her for as long as she wanted. "I love you, too, and I missed you," he told her again. He would never make her promise not to go away again, if she was needed, but he hoped it wouldn't happen again anytime soon, if ever. "Come on," he told her, taking her by the hand to lead her further into the house. "Let's get comfortable."

"Mmm, that sounds wonderful." She shuffled along behind him, happy to be lead. Her parents would likely be a little surprised by how acquiesant their eldest was in the company of her husband, but then, she didn't have to be the one in charge in her own home. Luc would take care of her.

He didn't take her to the bedroom, but to the living room, pulling her down beside him onto the couch. It was cozy enough there, and what he really wanted was just to be close for now. The rest would come later.

And she was right there with him, curling up as close as she could get to him, needing that reminder that, despite all the heat and hardship, she really was home and safe and with him. It was a weak feeling she would never admit to Johnny, but with Lucas, she wasn't ashamed of the fear she had been feeling for days.

He wasn't telepathic or even empathic, but Lucas knew Fliss almost better than anyone, and he had a feeling the last two weeks had been harder for her than she'd let on. "Are you okay?" he asked, wrapping his arms around her to hold her close in his embrace.

"I will be," she said softly. "I know we saved a lot of lives, but ... so many of them lost almost everything because of those fires, you know? They have to rebuild with nothing to start from. And that's just the people. Am I an idiot for crying over wild animals and the trees themselves?"

"No, of course not," he said, frowning in concern, not only for her but for everyone who was affected by the fires, including that of nature. "But, you know, fires are a part of nature, too. They just got out of control," he reasoned, though that might not give her much comfort.

"I know," she sighed. "I guess I take everything a little too much to heart, huh? Not the best quality in a psychologist, really." She snorted with laughter, trying to make light of the open heart she'd learned from her parents.

"You take everything to heart because you care, Fliss. That's not a bad thing," he told her. "You want to help kids like yourself and Maria and Alex. That's not a bad thing either. And you know what?" he asked, tipping her chin to face him, a reassuring smile on his face. "You're gonna be awesome at it.

She smiled faintly, letting him see how tired she was after two weeks of hard graft with minimal sleep. "You're way too good for my ego, you know," she said fondly. "How have you been? You didn't tell me much about what was going on here when we talked on the phone."

Lucas shrugged. "I'm fine. Just missed you and wish I could have helped," he admitted. He'd felt more than a little useless while she'd been away, but he would have only been in the way.

"Baby, what you do here is completely incomparable," she reminded him gently. "Trust me, I've been in a situation where I had to be rescued from danger. I know how amazing it is to be pulled out of harm's way by someone who chose to be there. You're a hero, even if you don't realize it."

"I'm not a hero, Fliss. I'm just doing my job," he insisted, but none of that really mattered now that she was home. "I'm just glad you're home," he told her, pulling her tighter, as if he never wanted to let her go.

"It feels good to be home," she agreed, cuddling in tight herself. "I missed you so much. I mean, I love Dad, but his idea of evening conversation before bed suffers without Mom and the kids there to keep him on one topic for more than ten minutes."

Johnny Storm

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2020, 02:07:43 PM »
Lucas couldn't help but chuckle. He knew how close she was to her parents - her father, in particular. There had been a time when he'd worried he could never take the man's place in her heart, before he had realized he didn't have to. "They missed him. They missed you both."

"I figured," she grinned. "How many nights did Mom bully you into having dinner with them over there? She worries when one of us is on our own for more than, like, four hours."

He rolled his eyes, chuckling again. "I lost count," he admitted. "But I mean, my mom was almost as bad. I had to remind them more than once that I know how to take care of myself." Of course, it wasn't really about that so much as about him not being alone.

"They love you," she teased affectionately. "Not as much as me, but then, I don't usually use food as a method of showing my love. I have boobs."

Lucas blinked, not quite following her train of thought. "What does boobs have to do with it?" he asked, looking puzzled.

"You know I love you, I let you play with them," she informed him impishly, lifting her chin to brush a grinning a kiss to his cheek.

"Oh, I see," he replied with another chuckle. "I did miss them," he said, shifting his gaze momentarily downward before looking back at her face. "But I missed you more," he added, brushing a kiss against her lips.

Fliss giggled into his kiss, her fingers drifting through his hair and back just a little further to caress his feathers briefly before returning to his neck and shoulder. "Are you on shift tomorrow?"

"Mm," he murmured, obviously distracted by her attention. "I can call in," he added, sliding his hands up her waist and leaning in to brush more kisses against her neck. He hardly ever took any time off, after all, and now that she was home, he wanted nothing more than to spend time with her.

"Pretty sure they won't hold it against you," she murmured, gently nibbling on his ear. "Want to go to bed, sweet stuff?"

"I do if you do," he replied, though it was pretty obvious what he wanted at that point. "Tired?" he asked, drawing momentarily back to meet her gaze. He could see the weariness in her face and didn't really need an answer to that question, but left it up to her. He had waited this long; he could wait a little bit longer.

She sighed, nodding reluctantly. "I'll make it up to you in the morning," was her promise, though, especially if he was going to call in sick. If she did it right, he wouldn't be able to walk further than the bathroom for a few hours.

"Time to tuck you in then," he said, moving to his feet and pulling her up off the couch with him. He'd saved enough days off that calling in one day shouldn't be a big deal. Even if he did feel a little guilty about it, he deserved a day off now that Fliss was home, and he intended to make the most of it.

Tugged up onto her feet, she leaned into him affectionately. "If I'm good, do I get a bedtime story as well?" she teased, resting her head onto his shoulder as they turned together toward the stairs.

"I can think of better things to do, but I think you need to sleep," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist to help her up the stairs.

"You are the perfect husband," she murmured, smiling to herself as they headed to bed. "I will be a better wife in the morning, promise."

Johnny Storm

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Re: After the Fires
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2020, 02:07:58 PM »
"Stop it, Fliss. You are always a good wife, but more importantly, you are a good person. You're a hero to a lot of people, including me," he told her, pulling back the covers once they reached the bed so that he could tuck her in.

She laughed quietly. "You're the best," she said. He never let her put herself down without arguing with her, even when she said it jokingly. He was better at the psychology than she was some days.

"Get some rest, baby. I'm not going anywhere," he assured her as he helped her into bed, even going so far as to take her shoes off before tucking the blankets over her and leaning close to press a kiss to her forehead. "Love you, Fliss."

"Love you back," she managed, her weariness catching up to her in a big way. One hand groped for his, not sure if he was coming to bed or just putting her to bed, but not wanting him to go far.

There was nowhere he'd rather be at that moment but right there beside her, proving it by climbing into bed beside her and pulling her close. He might not fall asleep just yet. In fact, he was likely to just lie awake and watch her awhile, but he wasn't going anywhere, and neither was she.