He knew he wasn't very good with words and wasn't quite putting into words what he wanted to say. What did any of this have to do with the water? Not a damn thing, except that he wanted her to know what she meant to him and how much he loved and appreciated her. He'd meant to tell her something else about something that had happened when he'd first arrived, but it no longer mattered. Nothing that had happened before he'd met her seemed to matter. "I love you, Livvie," he told her, deeply touched by her words, as she took him into her arms. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"There's no need to think about it," she told him, drawing back to share her smile with him tenderly. "You've got me. And we've got Bella, and Fliss, and our whole family just a portal step away." She leaned close, touching her lips to his. "And if you can manage to keep your voice down, you'll get your end away later, too," she added impishly.
"How much later?" he asked, with a small smirk of his own, as he lifted his head from her shoulder to meet her lips, his arms going around her, forgetting once again that they were still lounging in the pool with an impressionable teenager only a short distance away.
She giggled against his lips, glad that she had finally cracked the secret of how to rescue his mood before he could grow melancholy. "After Fliss is in bed," she told him, kissing the tip of his nose. "Speaking of which, we should get dried off and dressed if you're going to wine and dine your girls tonight."
"I said that a while ago," he told her with a chuckle, amused at the kiss to his nose. He may have only made small progress today, but at least it was progress, and he couldn't deny that he was happy here with her and Fliss and Bella. He finally had a family and home of his own. Whether or not he was a hero, he was a hero to them, and maybe that was all that really mattered. "Yes, dear," he told her. "Just one more thing..."
"Mmm?" Liv raised her brows, wondering what he was planning now. She didn't mind him stalling, enjoying spending a little time together in the pool without needing to be concerned about whether or not the dog or the teen were going to drown each other.
But he wasn't planning on spending any more time in the pool. A mischievous smile touched his lips as he pushed off the side of the pool until he was waist deep in water, unafraid of drowning so long as she was there with him and he remained in shallow water.
Liv watched, a slow grin beginning to rise on her face as she touched the edge of a faint suspicion. Was he really going to test her theory right here and now?
He was only immersed to his waist in water, so perhaps it wasn't a true test, but it was a start, and it was far too tempting for him not to try it. "Stand back, Livvie!" he warned her, extending an arm toward her so she'd keep her distance. Though he'd taken her flying with him before, he wasn't quite sure what to expect and didn't want any harm to come to her.
"Okay!" His obvious excitement was infectious enough that Liv was grinning widely as she escaped the pool, tucking her bathrobe about herself and gathering a towel into her hands to protect his modesty if this came off.
He back a little father into the pool, as deep as he dared, which admittedly was only about chest deep and drew a deep breath to gather his courage, though there was nothing to be afraid of. He closed his eyes a moment as if he was concentrating on something and before long, the water around him started to ripple as if it was coming to a boil as his body temperature rose.
Watching Johnny from a place of relative safety by the house, Liv wasn't surprised to hear Fliss come back out to join her. "What's he doing?" the teenager asked, her voice hushed as though she were afraid of breaking Johnny's concentration.
Liv smiled, looping an arm around Fliss' shoulders as the two stood together by the back door. "Just watch," she said quietly. "I think he's about to prove something to himself."
As it happened, Fliss didn't have long to wonder. Johnny opened his blue eyes, feeling the heat raging inside him. "Flame on!" he shouted the two words familiar to anyone who knew him well, pushing off the bottom of the pool to propel himself upwards, the heat doing the rest as he burst into flames and shot upwards into the sky like a rocket with a cry of exuberant and almost childlike delight. In that moment, he knew it was good to be Johnny Storm.
The two girls by the pool let rip with a loud cheer, whistling and catcalling as Johnny shot into the sky, joined by Bella's barking as the dog burst from the house to run in circles beneath where Johnny flew. Applauding, Liv and Fliss hugged one another, each as delighted for Johnny as the other, glad to see him slowly overcoming the fears that held him back from truly enjoying the summer with them.
As far as Johnny was concerned, flying was by far the best part of being the Human Torch. He reveled in the ability and no matter how many times he soared through the sky, it continued to give him a rush of adrenaline and pure joy every time. The flaming form of the Human Torch shot across the sky, flying in circles, leaving spirals of flame in a trail behind him which soon dissipated as he circled around to head back toward the house.
Laughing, Fliss allowed herself to be shepherded back inside the house once it became clear that Johnny was coming in to land, calling Bella with her. Neither girl nor dog were going to get an eyeful of the Torch's goods. Liv moved to meet him, holding the towel out as she grinned. "You know, I'm willing to bet that you enjoyed that."
He was coming in hot and fast, but had such perfect control that he touched down on the ground without any trouble, extinguishing the flames as soon as his feet hit the ground, as naked as the day he was born. "You'd win that bet," he told her with a grin. "So, I guess we proved your theory right, for now."
Braving the heat as it eased around him, Liv wrapped her arms around his waist, settling the towel securely about his hips as she kissed him. "Congratulations," she told him. "Now we have something to celebrate as well as just enjoying dinner together." Her nose brushed his tenderly. "I'm so proud of you, love."
He shrugged one shoulder as she wrapped the towel around him and kissed his nose, a soft smile on his face. "It was your idea," he pointed out giving her the credit. "All I did was prove you right."
"But you did it," she reminded him with fond familiarity. "I love you, Johnny." She kissed him again, soft and gentle, and drew back, taking his hand in hers. "Come on, let's get dressed. No tight pants."
"I love you, too," he told her, returning her kiss and linking his fingers with hers, so she could lead him back toward the house. Laughing at her remark, he knew it probably had something to do with Fliss. "And here I thought you liked me in tight pants."
"Oh, I love the look of you in tight pants, but not trying to get you out of them," Liv laughed as she drew him back into the house. "And I think Fliss might enjoy teasing you a bit too much if your trousers creak with every step you take."
"You don't seem to have too many complaints when I wear my uniform," he pointed out helpfully as she led him inside. While she might like him in tight pants, he didn't really share her fondness for them, but the uniform was another matter. "What do you think would happen if I picked her up for school in my uniform?" he asked with a mischievous grin.
"It's fun peeling you out of your uniform," his wife informed him playfully as they headed for the stairs. "So long as you don't have an erection, darling, I don't think she'd mind too much."
"Ewwww," came from the kitchen as they passed. Fliss was pulling a face at them. "Can you go and talk about your interconnecting bits where I'm not?"
Johnny laughed at Liv's remark, laughing even harder when he heard Fliss' voice from the kitchen, as if she was the voice of reason, rather than the pair of mature adults. "She's the one with the one-track mind!" Johnny exclaimed with a chuckle. "If we're not downstairs in half an hour, send out a search party!" he teased as he and Liv started up the stairs.
"Like hell!" was shouted up after them as Liv pulled her husband up the stairs, the little house ringing to the sound of laughter from all quarters. Whatever the ups and downs, they'd found their balance as a family. Not even Johnny's form-fitting uniform was going to make a dent in the solid relationships he had made with three little orphans who loved him deeply - the wife, the daughter, and the dog. They were making things work as a family, and that, it seemed, was as essential to him as the very elements themselves. Life really was almost perfect.
[size=9]((Conquering his fears, one step at a time. That would never have happened before Fliss arrived! Many thanks to Johnny's player for being awesome as always!))[/size]