Chapter 24: Home Again

It feels so good to be home, but it’s even better that Dad is home with us.  Our stay in Bridgeport lasted close to a week.  I’ll never go to that cursed city again.  But it doesn’t matter because he’s home now.  He’s alive and he’s where he belongs.  Though he heals remarkably well, he’s still recovering.  Though he’s always been healthy, he is getting older, and combined with how severe his injuries were, it’s taking him longer to get back up to speed than he’d like.  That doesn’t stop him though from going downstairs and getting onto the machines…

It frustrates him though, when he can’t do what he thinks he should.  He certainly can’t go as long or press as much weight as he did before.  He seems to think he should be able to.  Then again… I can feel the trepidation he tries to hide.  Though we don’t speak of it, he knows what happened to him and he knows what I did… even if none of us understand it.  I certainly don’t, and I was a part of it.  But he thinks about it, I know.  Thinks about what happened and knows how very close he came to leaving his family.

Maybe that’s why he pushes himself so hard.

Then again, he’s very rarely alone.  Mom’s been watching him like a hawk.  So when he goes down to the basement, she’s there with him too.  She’s smart enough, though, not to say anything.  Being married as long as they have been, Mom knows how to handle Dad.  Instead of insisting that he take it easy, she just works out down there with him.

After a little while, when she knows he’s winded, she’ll stop, wipe her brow and then grin at him, challenge him to a game of Spaceman.  He grins and they go upstairs.  He knows what she’s doing, and she knows that he knows, but it always seems to work.  It gets him to rest for a bit.  Though, they don’t always get right to playing the game.

I walked in yesterday to grab a book to read and overheard, “…wish you wouldn’t worry so, Soph.”

“Yeah, like you wouldn’t worry about me?” my mother murmured with a sarcastic grin.  I could actually see tears in her eyes as she stroked a hand over my father’s cheek.  They didn’t notice me: it was as if there were just the two of them in all the world.  He brought up his hand and placed it over hers.

“That was foolish wasn’t it?” he murmured.  “Well, I won’t tell you not to worry then.  But I am ok.  Or at least, I’m getting there.  So maybe you can worry a little less?”

Her laugh was husky as I snuck out, grinning.  Some might be embarrassed by finding their parents in an intimate moment.  Not me.  For one, the empathy makes it impossible at times not to know something is happening.  Hm… this is going to make it difficult as Luna gets older and there are boys in the picture… Oh dear.  Anyway, for another, as I grew up, I was always coming up Mom and Dad in a steamy embrace.  Then there was the time I walked in on them one night during Woohoo… I turned and walked right back out.  I always thought it was sweet.  It was what I happened, but was always a little afraid I might not find.  Then I met Jeff.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without him.

He was my rock through everything.  We haven’t talked much about what happened, about what I did.  Even now, I still don’t really understand it.  I just know there was something inside of me when I felt my father… leave.  And that thing got loose.  I’ve always known we were special, that our blood was that of the Dragon, but it always seemed fairly normal.  What happened in that Bridgeport hospital was NOT normal.

“Good to be home,” Jeff murmured, sinking further into the bubbles of the hottub.

“Mhm,” I murmured in agreement as I leaned against him.  “Definitely.”

“How are you?”  I didn’t have to ask what he meant.

“I feel fine.  I mean… I’ve always had power inside me, I’ve known that.  But nothing like that day.  And nothing like it sense.  Did any of that last batch of tests come back?”

“Yes and there was nothing unusual.  For you anyway.  Nothing elevated, nothing out of the ordinary, not like it was right after.”

“Guess my grandmother was right… we really do have power.  I mean, I never doubted her, but I never figured just what kind of power we have.”

Jeff frowned.  “Yeah, though I don’t think that was normal and I’m not sure how you’d fair if you were able to do that all the time.  I’m glad it worked, I really am.  You know how much I like your dad.  He’s the father I never had.  But I don’t think having that kind of… energy running through you all the time would be good.”

“You’re probably right.”  I grinned at him.  I hated to see him unhappy or worried and he had been both.  Leaning close, I murmured,  “Ya know… remember what we talked about… before all this happened?  About giving Luna a sibling?  Why don’t we get started on that now, hm?”

He grinned and leaned over for a kiss.

As summer gives way to fall and the air begins to cool, we’re all trying to spend as much time with Luna as we can.  She’s growing up so fast and her birthday is right around the corner.  I can’t believe it.  Seems like just yesterday I held her for the first time.  And now… she’ll be off to elementary school soon!  Just seems so unreal.

We’ve developed a routine so that everyone gets a chance with her.  When her daddy gets home from work, he changes.  She toddlers into our room and then he picks her up and gives her her snuggles.

Jeff hands her off to Mom, who spoils her with a story.  Then she likes to hold her.  Luna is a very affectionate child.

Then, it’s my turn to give her a bath.

But the honor of putting her to bed goes to Dad.  Luna can’t go to sleep without her grandfather giving her a hug and kiss.  Every night, he kisses her forehead and runs a hand over her hair.  “Love you, my lil Eclipse.”

“Me love you too, Pop-pop.  Me love you lots.”

Then she lays back and is out quickly.  Once she sleeps, the rest of us go out to the living room.  Dad and Jeff take their places at the chess table while Mom and I sit down to watch TV.

We’ve been careful since we all came home, careful about talking about what happened in Bridgeport.  But there’s an undercurrent in the house, one that won’t seem to go away.  Mom would just rather forget it, I know.  Jeff is of two minds: the doctor in him wants to keep performing tests on Dad and I to make sure we’re both ok, but the husband and the son in him, is just glad that Dad’s ok and that there are no ill-effects from what I did.

For myself… I’ve had a bit of time to think about it.  I still don’t remember much except for the feeling, the raw power that consumed me at the moment I felt my father’s life fading.  It was like nothing I’d ever felt.  My rage seemed to unleash the power.  But it seemed to be gone now.  Or… maybe not gone, but just- dormant, I guess.  Dad’s the only one I can talk about it with, really.

We try to do it when no one else is awake yet so as not to upset Mom or Jeff.  We’ve also tried to keep it from Luna.  She senses far too much at such a young age.  Even now, I see the look in her eyes when she watches her grandfather.

“Dad, do you think… do you think it can happen again?  I can’t feel it anymore, but somehow, I know it’s still there.”

A thoughtful expression I knew too well crossed his face.  His words were measured.  “You know what your grandmother was.  A Dragon, Queen of the Giant Serpents, but stripped of the ability to become her true form.  Her mortal form wouldn’t be able to sustain the energy to change.  But that energy, that power is there.  And she passed it down to me, and I in turn, passed it down to you.  I think you were able to summon it then because of a great need.  I don’t think you have to worry about it happening again.”  He gave me a sheepish grin.  “I don’t intend upon putting myself into any more precarious situations.”

I glared at him.  “You had better not!”

He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder.  “Don’t worry, Northern Light.  Your old man plans on enjoying his twilight years.”  He pulled me into a hug.

“I love you daddy,” I whispered to him.

“And I love you too, baby girl.  Thank you.”

And that was the last we talked of it.

Luna was up early today.  She’s been so excited all morning.  “Birfday Mama, birfday!” she called out as I got her out of the crib.  I laughed, though I could feel my eyes watering already.

“You betcha, baby!  Who’s my big girl, huh?”

“Me Mama, me!  I’m a big girl!”

The cake was already set up on the counter, two little candles alit.  “Cake!” my daughter squealed.  “Cake!”

All of her family was there, all of us so happy, yet all a little sad too.

She was all too eager to blow out those candles.  Even as she leaned down, I did too to give her a bit of a hand as she drew in a deep breath and then let it out all at once at the candles.

I put her on the floor as she clapped her hands.  “Mama, me be a big girl!” she squealed as the sparkles began to surround her.

And then, my baby wasn’t a baby anymore.  She was a self-possessed young lady who ran immediately to the mirror, then the dresser to pick out appropriate attire.

As a surprise for her birthday, Dad had had Uncle Falkor’s old room redone just for Luna.  She’s too big for the nursery now, of course.  She was ecstatic about it and ran around like a loon, exclaiming over everything before she launched herself at her grandfather.  “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” she exclaimed.  Then she was off again.

I think my daughter has more energy than I did at that age.  Where I was more sedate, Luna is a bundle of energy.  Dad’s about the only one that can get her to stay still for very long and I think it’s because they both share a love of learning.

There was another surprise for Luna.  On her father’s next day off, we had a family outing to Venice Beach.  Dad had bought the property a few months ago, before everything happened.  He had a crew add a few things, thinking it would be a fabulous place to have family outings and gatherings.  Granted, it was pretty cold as winter was coming in, but Luna wouldn’t dissuaded and honestly, neither could we adults be either.

While her father and I enjoyed the hottub facilities-

Luna happily tested out some of the playground equipment.

Then, somehow, she talked her grandparents into playing on the water slide!  In this weather!

Still, no one was the worse for wear, except for the distinct chattering of teeth as we headed home.  It was a good day.  A very good day.  I’m a lucky woman.



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