There are few things in any world that are more fascinating to a new parent than the playground of a school that teaches all ages and abilities - magical or otherwise - at the close of the school day. While, yes, there was a certain uniformity about the dress code, and similarities among the parents, nonetheless it looked like absolute chaos to the untrained eye. New tricks were being shown off; there were tears from some children, laughter from most; the teens seemed to be trying to act more adult, but failing miserably as teens are wont to do. It was a wonder anyone could even identify their child in the mass of movement, much less pry them away.
A motorcycle pulled up near the playground, the engine rumbling loudly enough to draw attention. To those who knew better, they'd know that the man whose face was hidden beneath the helmet was none other than Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. To those who didn't, he was just a brash young man on a very loud motorcycle. He wasn't there to annoy the other parents, though - he was there to pick one of the students up from school. After a moment, he climbed off the bike an pulled off his helmet so that he could take a better look around, searching the crowd of kids, teens, and adults for a particular face.
Of course, the children were more likely to recognize the Human Torch than the adults, and it wasn't long before an excited murmur rumbled through the playground as he waited by his bike. It was a shame he hadn't remembered just who else attended this school, though ... no one really deserves to be pounced by an over-excited half-Fae fresh from school.
Lyneth barreled out of the crowd of children, bypassing her mother entirely, and thumped into Johnny's leg. "It's the Burny Man, I found the Burny Man, I win, I win!" She clung to his leg as a laughing Fliss came into view, apparently having lost the race to reach Johnny first.
"You betcha, squirt," the teen assured the little girl. "Might wanna put him down, though."
Johnny wasn't expecting to be pounced by anyone, certainly not by the midget-sized Fae girl who seemed to enjoy harassing him every chance she got. Lucky for her, he was fond of children, human and otherwise. He never quite knew what to think of her, though she seemed harmless enough. "Human Torch," he corrected with a heavy long-suffering sigh. He shook his leg a little, but the girl only seemed to hold on tighter. "Lyneth, let go! I'm not the Burny Man!" he exclaimed, not quite noticing that they were starting to draw attention.
"Yes, you is, you're the Burny Man, and you got a sideboard, and she's the Burny Girl!" Lyneth insisted as Fliss joined them, rolling her eyes at the enthusiastic declaration from the tiny girl. If anything, Johnny's attempts to make Lyneth let go made the little half-Fae hold on tighter, giggling up at him.
Johnny looked a little bit lost as he glanced to Fliss with a look that said "Help me," hoping she could translate what the pint-size package of trouble was trying to say. His lips moved as he echoed her words silently, without actually saying anything. "Burny girl?" he mouthed to Fliss. There was one sure-fire way to get Lyneth to let go, but he didn't have the heart to turn his flame on and risk burning her.
Fliss just grinned, shrugging as though she was physically powerless to help him. Ever since it had been made official, she'd been treating Johnny even more like family, which meant he was being teased a hell of a lot more than he was used to these days.
"Yes, like Soupy Man has Soupy Girl, and Bad Man has Bad Girl, and now Burny Man has Burny Girl," Lyneth explained, looking up at him as she hugged his leg. "Also ... can you see my mummy? 'Cos I can't."
"Soupy Man?" Johnny echoed, looking doubtful as he shook his leg again in an attempt to dislodge the growth that had attached itself to him, gently though. "There's no such thing as Soupy Man. That's just ridiculous. What's his super power?" Good grief, he thought to himself. I'm debating superheroes with a munchkin. Shake, shake. He frowned a moment and scanned the crowd. "Well, if you'd stop clinging to my leg, we could go find her for you," he pointed out.
"Seriously, Dad, never heard of Soupy Man?" Fliss laughed, bending to finally unhook Lyneth from around Johnny's leg and lift the little girl onto her own hip. "Underpants over his tights, and you don't know who that is?"
Lyneth giggled, hugging to Fliss' neck as she looked around. "My mummy is the pretty one with black hair," she informed Johnny in a rather superior tone, as though he had never met Piper before.
"No, what is his super power? Does he defeat bad guys with soup? Come on, Fliss! That's not a superpower?" This was a very serious discussion, as far as Johnny was concerned. He took this sort of thing very seriously. "Oh!" It finally dawned on Johnny who Lyneth was talking about. As usual, she got the man's name totally messed up, but he wasn't sure whether it was on purpose or by accident. "You mean Superman! Eh..." Johnny said, waving a dismissive hand at them both. "Superman's got nothing on Steve Rogers." So, Bad Man had to be Batman, he figured at last. "Thank you, Captain Obvious. I know who your Mummy is," he replied, scowling a little as he scanned the crowd.
"I'm not Captain Obvious!" Lyneth objected loudly, indignant to her toes.
"No, you're Admiral Annoying from the Planet Arrrgh," a new voice interjected, and Piper came into view behind Fliss, catching Lyneth as she lunged out of the teenager's grasp. "Hello, trouble. Hi, Johnny, and Fliss. Is anyone else going to crawl out of the playground today? Jon and Vicki, maybe?" She touched the tip of her nose teasingly to Lyneth's, making the tiny girl laugh uproariously.
"There she is!" Johnny exclaimed as Piper joined them. Who was Captain Obvious now? This was almost immediately followed by a look of confusion. "Why would Jon and Vicki be here? Emmy and Benny are just babies," he pointed out helpfully. Thankfully, neither Jon or Vicki were there to hear him call baby Benjamin Benny.
"Oh, it's my subtle hint that I haven't seen you here before," Piper assured him in her gentle voice, dropping Lyneth down onto her feet and capturing one small hand firmly. "Thank you for fielding Lynnie, though. It has been known to take at least an hour to find her when school breaks up for the day."