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 Let's Be Sweethearts Together, February 14, 2167 | Reese Marshall
Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 08:24 PM
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38 YEARS
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Surprisingly, the words seemed to placate Reese. The explanation that no one would be camped out and see them; the idea that the event didn't start until the after noon; the honesty behind how most people were out on dates tonight. (Perhaps someone might have pointed out that this time with Bruce was three children too many and a few kisses short of one, but Reese did not have that perspective.)

"Yeah -- yeah, alright." He nodded. "I've got to run down to Jacks. We dropped her stuff down there before we came." It was just planning logistics of how to organize the night. He assumed that Bruce would just take his girls and he could take Wendy; they'd grab the stuff and come back up. He was pretty sure he could hold himself together for the hour it would take to run the errand. "I'll get a change of clothes while I'm there. You can save your suit for a night I'm less prepared."

He rubbed the back of his neck as he watched the girls play, letting out a breath. Slowly he offered, hands tucked into his pockets, "How often do you get to be uncle of the year?" he asked. Wendy had started playing something that might have been described as "Pirates" but she was calling it "Marauders" -- one would assume based on her father's favorite baseball team. The rules all seemed the same and she had declared herself captain and was hopping around the ball pit with a hand over her eye to be her patch. "Those kids seem really attached." He hesitated not wanting to sound rude, but that statement finally came, "I never really pegged you as liking kids." He'd bought them toys for Hanukkah, but that gave literally no gauge of involvement in their lives.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 09:05 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Online


Bruce turned to watch the three girls play together, though his auditory attention remained on Reese throughout his listed itinerary. A long trip to Jacks from Evendale and then back up to Haven by SkyRail, with an eight-year-old and overnight bags in tow. A long period alone with Wendy after Reese had already lost his composure and disappeared to calm himself. Though Bruce realized that Reese wouldn’t accept a ride in the car, there existed other methods of easing his burden a bit “Is Wendy’s bag still packed from when you dropped it off? If so, I could take Wendy back with us to help her get settled. That way she doesn’t miss out on the extra play time.”

He didn’t state aloud that this would provide Reese with a break as well, though the implication hung in the air between them.

Neither Mabel nor Avery seemed to mind that Wendy had declared herself Captain. Mabel was fine with the role of first mate, and Avery thrilled simply because she hadn’t been relegated to the role of pet parrot.

The question about the girls ironically drew Bruce’s attention away from them to settle on Reese’s face again coupled with a rush of warmth at the compliment. He could never be their Dad, but he remained as involved as possible as their uncle. “Is it Shangri-La?”

His voice contained no trace of offense from Reese’s remark, as it was one that Bruce had heard before. He had created a fantasy retreat for adults that banned anyone under eighteen from the premises and used mind control, surrogates, and a prop and costume closet to rival their movie studios to assist with those fantasies. He resided on the ground, possessed an undeniable preference for leather, and had admitted to Reese in no uncertain terms tonight, and previously, that he had experience with the Scene. He understood the impression that might create.

That didn’t answer Reese’s question, and so he offered the barest shrug of his shoulders and as his features softened, he explained, “Family gatherings, weekends sometimes, whenever their parents need a helping hand or want a night alone. One of the perks of bachelorhood, I get picked to babysit.”

An oversimplification, but only about a half dozen people knew the true nature of his relationship to the girls, and so it would remain.

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 10:05 PM
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38 YEARS
Citizen
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese had not vocalized the request because to do so would have put unnecessary pressure on Bruce, on their friendship, on himself. It would have taken a spot light and put a blaring red alarm next to him that said 'inadequate father,' and while Reese believed that about himself, he didn't want Wendy to misinterpret it as a dislike for her or an attempt to be rid of her.

The situation, however, was complicated enough without him being alone on the SkyRail when he suffered another episode of emotional collapse brought on by a child who should have made him happy, which she did. It was all so complicated.

He nodded. "Yeah. Yeah that makes sense." he said as if the idea hadn't occurred to him, but the eye contact said that it had and he was thankful that Bruce had offered him this break. "Wouldn't want to interfere with their play time. You're sure you're okay with that?" he verified.

To the question about Shangri-La, Reese shook his head. "No." He answered. His wife and he had not been the poster children for a traditional family. Most everything, other than Shangri-La, Reese might have pointed out, would have been something that they shared to some extent. He didn't think crops or skin tight leather behind closed doors really said anything about wanting or not wanting children; nor did fantasies make him believe that Bruce lived a life that was devoid of realism enough to raise someone well-rounded if given the opportunity.

He listened to the explanation that he gave for when he got to babysit and gave a nod. "Mostly I just can't imagine you not sleeping more than a couple hours a night and getting covered in vomit and shit--" this time he meant the word in its most literal sense "--for two and a half years and thinking this is great, let's do it again." He gave a little shrug. A soft smile rested on his face; a father's smile. One might have imagined that was the smile that had once graced him at t-ball games and pee-wee football; at birthday parties and parent-teacher conferences.

"But I mean, if you like it, it's the best fucking thing there is." He watched the little girl leap from the edge of the pit into the balls. They went flying and she started laughing up a storm as she shouted: "The Navy is on our tails! Ready the canons!" A few little boys had joyed in to play -- apparently Wendy had decided that they were going to be the enemies and they seemed to have no issue with that.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 10:56 PM
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45 YEARS
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363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Online


“I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t,” Bruce reassured the other man with a brief pat on the shoulder. Another affectation from Shangri-La that he had adopted into his personal life, or that he had built upon from his personal life and perfected for Shangri-La: never make promises or offers unless he had the ability and the inclination to see them through. Here, now, he wished to spare Reese the emotional stress and Wendy the unnecessary burden of watching her father endure another round today. “They can get started on cookies earlier.”

A teasing grin flit across his lips as he added, “We’ll try to save one for you.”

In reality, this would be easy; they had baked forty-five. What should have produced an even four dozen but the girls had insisted on sneaking some of the dough and apart from reminding them that the more dough eaten the fewer cookies they would have at the end, Bruce had made no attempt to stop them. He hardly worried about ruining their appetites for the pizza and junk food at Jungle Jamboree.

The other man’s denial that Shangri-La played a role in his assessment earned an arched brow and a slight gesture of the neck, encouraging Reese to elaborate on his reasoning. He smiled at what followed: the mental image it conjured, the fact that the other man had finally spoken literally rather than figuratively. Then, briefly, the smile dimmed as the matter skirted close to a truth. Family – as a husband, as the paterfamilias rather than Uncle Bruce or Bruce the eldest child and big brother – didn’t fit easily into his lifestyle. His relationships ended over that issue more often than not: the hours, the nature of the work, the expectations and his involvement, and he knew himself well, knew that he couldn’t raise a child as a single father with Shangri-La looming over him. He shrugged a second time, now in resignation as he admitted, “I love children, but they never materialized.”

Not for him. For his ex, and how could he begrudge her that?

Bruce parted his lips to speak again, but one of the boys – closer to Wendy’s age – bombarded the girls with balls, and two smacked Avery in rapid succession. Once to her stomach, which she might have shrugged off with an “owwie” before patting herself with both hands to self-soothe. The second slammed her in the face, directly in her nose. Mere seconds later, she began to sob, and Bruce had already excused himself and crossed halfway to the ball pit.

“She’s little,” Mabel half-explained, half-chastised, repeating the warning her parents had given countless times when she played too rough with her baby sister.

Bruce swooped in and scooped her up into his arms. Her face was a bit red between the impact and her tears, but the balls weren’t so hard as to leave any marks or do lasting damage. Hefting her, he spoke in his most soothing voice. “Do you want to keep playing? Or do you want to sit with me and Reese?”

Avery sniffled and buried her face in her Uncle’s shoulder, murmuring that she wanted to stay with them.

“Okay, Avery. That’s fine.” He imparted a reminder to the children to treat another gently, before he exited the play area with the younger girl to rejoin Reese. Stepping up beside him again while he patted, Avery’s back, he remarked, “There’s always an adventure when age gaps are involved.”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 16 2018, 11:50 PM
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38 YEARS
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese laughed and shook his head at the offer that they'd try to keep a cookie for him. "If you can't manage to stop three little girls from devouring however many cookies, you'll owe me an extra glass of whiskey." he teased.

He laughed at the way Bruce explained having children as 'materializing'. He was starting a mockery of 'the birds and the bees' lecture when Avery got hit with the ball and adult banter was set aside for something far more important.

Wendy didn't have a little sibling so while she was nice and hadn't knocked Avery over or thrown anything at her during their play, she didn't realize until Mabel explained that she was little that the boys had done something wrong. She blinked as she watched Bruce gather the little girl up, her brows knit tightly.

As Bruce returned, a frown was resting on his face. Not the one that he wore, for lack of a better word, naturally, but one that showed a deep empathy for the little girl. He nodded at Bruce's assessment. "Yeah. Adventures are sometimes good; other times they peg you in the face with a plastic ball." He leaned over to try to get a look at the little girl so he could offer her a friendly smile and wave.

Wendy for her part looked at her father lingering back with Bruce and the little girl, new acquired from the ball pit, and then she looked at the boy who had thrown it. It was hard to tell if Wendy was a school yard bully in the making or was just being groomed to be a councilwoman for Haven, but through the balls she marched up to the boy. One of the other adults watching, presumably the boy's mother looked up from her holo, but there was no altercation between the children.

Instead, Wendy put her pointer finger into his face said something and then pointed at Avery. She withdrew her hand and pointed again at the little girl before the boy started nodding vigorously, got out of the pit to go over to Bruce and apologize to the Avery. Then he returned to the ball pit where play resumed with Wendy appeased and the pirates a player short.

Reese shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. He let out a little laugh as he shook his head. "She's really persuasive." He said off-handedly. "Apparently she can basically talk anyone into anything if she tries." He didn't say it like it was an ability, merely a personality trait. "I honestly don't know whether to stop her when she's doing good things, you know? But I don't want a bully on my hands." In Reese's book 'bossy' was an entirely different entity; the two overlapped in a singular way -- they could make someone do what they wanted. One was acceptable, a personality trait that was very prevalent in the Marshall family, and the other wasn't, no questions asked.

@Bruce Vaughan
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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 17 2018, 12:26 AM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
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363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Online


The distance in space and time between Avery and the game in the ball pit allowed the girl to calm. Her sobs grew softer and slowed into sniffles, though she left behind a damp patch on Bruce’s vest. He held her securely throughout the cascade of tears as she shifted from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Interrupted only by Reese’s wave which she didn’t have the energy to return and the boy’s apology, which Bruce accepted on her behalf before sending him back into the ball pit to play.

The pain had already begun to fade, though the surprise from how rough the game had become, and the sudden realization that she couldn’t keep up because she was so much smaller than the other children lingered. With it came reluctance to return until they had finished their game, despite her unabashed love of the ball pit under typical circumstances. If in a few minutes she still had no desire to duck back into the fray, Bruce would offer to take her to a ride or a game, something else to distract her and to compensate for her fun ending so abruptly. She murmured something half-incomprehensible, although he gathered the gist of the request from familial experience, and so he asked Reese, “Would you mind if I put on some music?”

Peculiar, perhaps, given the din and the holographic jungle band.

However, his attention was drawn to the other man’s remarks about his daughter. The personality trait, or the unique ability, his uncertainty about the ramifications and how to nurture it or redirect her. The concern about her growing up to be a bully.

If asked, Bruce would say without hesitation that his childhood had been a happy one. Even with the uphill battle for acceptance in the broader city and the officers that patrolled the neighborhood to conduct ID checks. His parents had been open and affectionate, able to keep up with him and so happy to encourage his interests, no matter what form they took. Mama and Papa Vaughan worked hard in their professions and had developed a complementary work schedule to ensure he had someone at home. Both sides of the family visited regularly. Despite the deprivation of some parts of Jacks, they had earned a middle-class living and had never wanted for food, clothing and shoes without holes, or medical care. He hadn’t experienced a jealousy phase when Calvin came home from the hospital, swaddled in his little blue blanket, nor, years later with his sister in her pink one. He had taken his duties as oldest, as the Big Brother, seriously.

He had also managed to mind control his family, his friends, his teachers, and other people in his life on and off through that period of his life. Until they sent him the Carrie Institute, where he was tested, trained, rated, and finally returned home to his family with a greater sense of control and personal responsibility. He tried not to dwell too much on those experiences even as they informed his entire adult philosophy regarding the importance of informed consent. He joked about his family putting up with him, but those remarks dipped into the well of truth. He wasn’t proud of that period of his life, though he could still remember how thoroughly he had enjoyed it.

He nuzzled his chin into Avery’s hair and spoke in a soothing tone because she had snuggled against his chest and would feel the reverberations of his words, though they were intended for Reese. “They used to say that about me. Such a persuasive child but what to do about it?”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 17 2018, 09:06 PM
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38 YEARS
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese glanced over when he asked the question about putting on some music. "Yeah, go ahead." he nodded. It wasn't often that Bruce asked to use his powers around Reese. At one point, Reese had wondered if it was something about Reese that made Bruce uncomfortable. He had wondered if he'd given off some vibe that he didn't like them. By now, he had just come to the conclusion that Bruce wasn't a show off -- which made enough sense given he circumstances.

The implications were lost on Reese as he had said the words. He didn't know more than a vague hint here or there about his friend's history. He didn't know that Bruce had controlled people's minds without their consent. (In fact, whether the implications had gotten across in the accusations or not, Reese's statements were never about Bruce doing something without his consent. He knew that he wasn't that kind of person.)

So he glanced over, missing the meaning because how could he infer something so terrible and out of control from someone so polished. He shook his head. "Well, she grows up to be anything like you, I wouldn't be mad." He said without really thinking through what that might have meant. He caught it, ran it back through his mind to try to figure out how to rephrase it and then just shrugged and let it stand.

"So what'd they do?" he asked. He seemed legitimately open to a suggestion on parenting ideas from a man who didn't have any children. "I mean -- I don't mind her being confident, obviously. I'd rather she stand up for herself." God knew she was going to need it in the circles that they were in. He'd already heard rumors about one of the families discussing with the school about moving their child out of the classroom with Wendy for safety reasons. His parents had threatened a lawsuit; the issue had been dropped, but it didn't make it not happen. "I just ... want what's best for her, you know?" He gave an awkward shrug.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 17 2018, 10:50 PM
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45 YEARS
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363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Online


Persona at Shangri-La notwithstanding, Bruce wasn’t a show-off in his personal life, and the carding incident a couple of months back underscored why. Public displays made Typics (and some Evolutes) uncomfortable, as did his presence occasionally when faced with the pervasive rumors. Certain aspects of his powers also leant themselves better to practical applications, as opposed to what he did at Shangri-La. For instance, if the girls had trouble sleeping tonight, he had no compunction putting them to sleep, though he wouldn’t make a show of it. Reese’s agreement earned, a “Thank you.” Then, over the repetitive and rudimentary drum line from the holographic gorilla, came the unmistakable sound of Braham’s Lullaby played on a piano.

Avery responded as expected, by curling further into his arms while cocking one ear to better listen to the familiar tune.

Though he accepted the compliment in the spirit in which it had been given, Bruce also gleaned that his friend had misinterpreted his words. An impressed furthered by Reese’s follow-up question.

What did they do?

He didn’t want to upset his friend since the context was his daughter. However, he felt he owed the other man honesty, and so he replied neutrally, vaguely, “They sent me to the Institute. It fixed me right up.”

Only a year of his life spent there, with the testing, the training, the scrutiny. When he left, he started his suppressant dosage. The same one he’d received monthly for the past thirty-plus years.

Use of the phrase standing up for herself drew Bruce’s attention to possible implications. Wendy was a Marshall; her family could buy and sell most everyone else in Haven. What possible reason could she have to stand up for herself? Unless…

Pursing his lips together, he hummed thoughtfully and studied Reese’s face before he said, “If this is presumptuous or groundless, then forgive me. But you do know I grew up in Evesdown?” Though he didn’t speak of that often, it had already become a campaign issue; everything was becoming a campaign issue.

He continued gently in a tone devoid of judgment, “That made it easier. Having similar peers.”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 19 2018, 04:43 PM
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38 YEARS
Citizen
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



For a moment, even after the word Institute had been so clearly said and the implications were almost unavoidable, Reese still seemed unable to fully understand. Perhaps he had pushed aside the idea that his daughter could have a power at all -- his parents and brother had been adamant (behind closed doors) that she would turn out to be a carrier just like their cousins who had been born positive.

His brows knit and he shook his head. "No." The statement might have seemed inappropriate in light of both the statement (which didn't invoke a 'yes' or 'no' response for any reason) and the person that he was speaking to. "It's -- it's not like that." he tried to clarify, but now he was trying to figure out if it was.

Why did he suddenly feel compelled to buy her a Christmas gift this year when he had left it up to his parents and Santa every other one? Why had he agreed to play outside with her on the day that Bruce had shown up? Why had he stayed that extra hour on Christmas? Why had he attended her January recital?

"It's not like that." he repeated. Thinking about it made his head spin; he didn't need to crash again in the span of an hour and so he focused on what Bruce said afterwards, clinging to it to keep above water.

"Yeah; yeah, I know." Reese acknowledged and then nodded. "Yeah, well... She can't leave Haven. That's where all her friends are; where my family is; where her school is." There were requirements that people didn't understand that went into being a Marshall. Every Marshall who was worth any salt went to the same preparatory private school starting in third grade; they did Junior Cotillion from 4th to 8th; and then when they graduated high school, magna cum laude or better, they attended Nocht. Those were not standards that she could live up to living in Evesdown.

Reese hadn't lived up to them and it still cast a shadow. He didn't want that for her.

"I see what you meant though -- My parents attend a--" he paused, suddenly realizing halfway through the statement that it might sound entirely horrific to the ears of someone who didn't grow up around the people that Reese had. There were no ways to compare the struggles of one man to another; the upper crust had issues that related to their social and economic expectations the same way that the homeless in Jacks did.

"Nevermind." he shook his head, hands going into his pockets shoulder slumping forward with nerves. His eyes found the ground. "You liked it there, right? Evesdown? More than Haven?" This was a safer way to broach this topic, focused not on his daughter but on Bruce.

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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 19 2018, 06:22 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
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363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
Bright is Online


The song slowly faded as it ended, prompting Bruce to look down at Avery in his arms. “Do you want to go back to playing?”

“Not with the big kids,” she objected. Though the pain had faded and she had calmed markedly, the fear of getting hurt again, and the realization of this sized-based power differential remained.

“That’s fine. How about the little kid play area?” Bruce nodded in the direction of a foam area near the ball pit off-limits to children over four.

Avery studied that for a moment (as though she hadn’t played there countless times before during prior visits), and he offer placated her, earning a nod of agreement. Bruce set her down with a final hug and sent her off to play and climb for a bit, which left him alone with Reese to continue their conversation; for the best given the serious turn that it had taken.

Through Reese’s denials and the sudden tremor in his voice, the mental manipulator studied him. He possessed only a child’s recollection of his life before the Institute, and nobody had been afraid of him the way they were of children they believed sociopaths in the horror movies that comprised the particular subgenre. There hadn’t been denial that he could be an Evolute, because of the DNA test, and the fact that his family was on generation four by that point. But his family also tended towards physical powers, and they didn’t know how to help him, or to help one another when he could smile and everyone lost interest in whatever their concerns were, guided along by his desires. And he didn’t know any better, couldn’t discern that anything was amiss because this was how it was. Of course he got his way without putting up an argument.

Yet through an adult’s eyes in retrospect, that of someone who understood his abilities inside and out, someone with a psychology degree, he recognized the signs of denial and the panic in Reese’s eyes as he reviewed every past decision to comb for signs of mental influence. Were they in his office, he would prod his friend about this, both to calm him down and to explore, but they had a sleepover to get through and that would be counterproductive. Thus when Reese insisted a second time that this was something else, Bruce shrugged a single time. Offered neither agreement nor disagreement, didn’t challenge him or pursue the topic further.

He switched tacks. “She could have friends outside of Haven,” he pointed out. She had already expressed interest in seeing Mabel again to invite her to a tea party. His nieces certainly didn’t live in Haven or belong to Ark’s elite. “There’s a scout troop that has open enrollment.”

He lifted one eyebrow as the other man cut himself off in the middle of describing whatever it was his parents did. Prompting him silently for clarification that never manifested, instead brushed away with a never mind.

“Nobody on either side of my family has failed the DNA test in five generations,” Bruce remarked. This was the first time that he and Reese had caused to discuss any of this, and while he spoke in a far more polished manner when answering questions as part of his campaign, it was telling that he referred to testing negative on a DNA test that would restrict opportunities as failing. However, he came from a family of Evolutes who were unashamed of their status or their abilities. What was the alternative? They certainly wouldn’t tell themselves that they had failed, not when they took pride in what they could do, not when broader society from their ID cards to their history books to two members of the Council and a dedicated law enforcement agency all told them this already.

His statement further implied that both Mabel and Avery had tested positive, as had his nieces and nephews, his parents and grandparents, his siblings, all of their cousins and their children. All of them.

Did he like Evesdown better than Haven? How to begin untangling those threads. Particularly with someone whose ID card contained the coveted TUH designation. He rubbed his chin and the five-o-clock shadow there as he explained, “I don’t get carded when I visit my parents in Evesdown.”

Perhaps Reese could understand that, in light of the rage that had consumed him when watching Bruce’s carding incident on Arbor Street. That this was simply not a concern at all in the neighborhood of Bruce’s birth; nobody had the power differential to create such a humiliating experience, and any child who tried was swiftly taken aside by a teacher or a relative and taught never to do this to their friends or their classmates. Occasionally an overzealous police officer did so to put a resident in their place, but this still occurred far more frequently in Haven.

“I turned out fine, despite what some of my neighbors think. I went to Nocht. I own a business. My family are all valuable members of the community.” Bruce’s gaze flicked from Reese to the girls in the ball pit, and then Avery off by herself for a moment. “I belong in Haven because I made myself belong there. Because the residents of Haven want what I can give them even when they pretend otherwise in polite company. But I belonged in Evesdown because I wasn’t alone.”

He paused a beat and gazed into Reese’s face. “Does that make sense?”

@Reese Marshall
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Reese Marshall
 Posted: Jan 19 2018, 10:16 PM
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38 YEARS
Citizen
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237 Posts
There are moments that the words don’t reach There is suffering too terrible to name You hold your child as tight as you can And push away the unimaginable The moments when you’re in so deep It feels easier to just swim down
Thyme is Offline



Reese was quiet. It was a lot to absorb and his face said as much. Everything from the words themselves to the sentiments that were implied. The idea that his daughter was never going to fit in to his family because of a DNA test. He remembered talking to his girlfriend when they'd signed the forms. He remembered not talking about it because the idea hurt too much. Bruce's family was just as proud to be evolutes as his family was to be typics.

It was complicated to say the least.

Slowly, though, he started to work through it. She could have friends outside of Haven. That wasn't wrong -- she got along with just about every other child she came into contact with. (He tried not to read into it, but it was hard now, separating the idea of whether she had powers.) It would be easy for her baby sitter to take her to girl scout meetings in Evesdown where she could meet other children who would one day develop powers.

He would suggest it to his parents. Exposure to other evolutes would likely do good things for her if she did end up as anything other than a carrier -- and even if she, even mentally Reese caught himself saying, lucked out and knew that was the wrong phrase to use.

Silent he remained as he continued to roll the information over in his mind, taking everything in turn trying to mesh it with the idea that everything would be okay. That Bruce was an evolute and he was fine; that his family wasn't living in a shack begging for food. Still things like the carding incident haunted him. He wasn't sure that he could have held back if the question had been directed to his daughter instead of a man. A least one person would have walked out with a bloody nose and a black eye -- it was anyone's guess.

Slowly he formulated his response, starting with the easiest thing to explain. Perhaps it was a touchy subject, but it seemed only fair to clear the air. "We've had three people who tested positive." Ever. Obviously, before the emergence of evolutes it had been exclusively typics in the family. "Two cousins, twins, carriers -- their father is a typic, but apparently his grandfather was a T5. And Wendy." It was said with the weight it deserved.

She had a stigma. The same way, perhaps, a typic being born in the Vaughan family might not have brought resentment or cruelty, but a second glance or a raised brow.

"So yeah... I mean, it makes sense." he said, but the conversation went on hold.

Wendy came running over to him, abandoning her ship and crew. It was the same reason she'd come over before. It might have been cute if it was in a story book instead of reality. Both watching out for each other; a mutually supportive relationship between a father and daughter. In reality, it was strange hearing the words come out of the child's mouth. "Are you okay?" Her eyes snapped over to Bruce as if he owed her an explanation about why Reese looked stressed out.

"Yeah, sweety. I'm fine. Mr. Vaughan and I are just talking."

"About what?" she asked, brow raising as if she was going to judge the topic of conversation and decide if it should continue. If that was what was upsetting her father, then she would brush it off and choose another one.

"About how fucking nosy you are." Reese answered, reaching out to poke her on it as he said it. She giggled through telling him not to swear. "You're starting to sound like Grandma checking in on me. Go play. Or I'll see if I can get you an AARP card."

He turned her around and gave her a little pat to send her back off. She went willingly enough, waved at Avery on her way past the little kids section, and then climbed back into the ball pit.

"Sorry." he offered, rubbing his neck. He knew it was weird for her to check on him, but he couldn't stop it any more than he could change her DNA test. "Anyway; We'll see if we can get her in some activities down in Evesdown." he concluded and then slowly he asked a question that was likely inappropriate, but he supposed Bruce would know better than anyone else (and he had no other evolute friends to direct his questions to).

"If she does get a power like yours... how will we even know?" Physical powers were easy enough to identify. Mental ones? That was always tricky.

@Bruce Vaughan
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Bruce Vaughan
 Posted: Jan 19 2018, 11:05 PM
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Evolute
45 YEARS
Citizen
Tier 3
363 Posts
Mental Manipulation - able to manipulate other people's minds through mind control, illusion projection, and memory manipulation, primarily.
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Bruce looked into his friend’s face as he absorbed both the content of the admission and the weight behind it.

Three.

In the nearly 140 years since the emergence of the first Evolutes, Reese’s family had only three people who had tested positive. And all three were within recent memory. With two as carriers.

It boggled the mind.

Truthfully, Bruce maintained awareness that many of the wealthy Typic families prioritized purity of bloodline. It was the reason that TU could make inroads in high society, how Rebecca Ramsey could make such inflammatory comments without anyone stepping back and questioning how this could possibly be acceptable. Of course they would draw distinctions between Evolutes and Typics in broader society, an since they maintained barriers to ensure that they didn’t have Evolutes for relatives, then it didn’t affect them personally or prompt a change of mindset or attendant behavior.

By contrast, people in his neighborhood tended to marry people they met in the neighborhood, people they knew wouldn’t judge them for their Evolute status or worry about the purity of their bloodline. This resulted in Evolutes meeting and marrying other Evolutes, and all of this stemmed from a quirk of genetics rather than the probability of being born on a particular date, it clustered in the families around whom he had lived, in his own family.

“There’s no shame,” Bruce said firmly; he believed that in the deepest part of himself. Yet before he could expound further on all of the unique experiences he’d had over the years as a direct result of his powers, Wendy ran over again, and he withdrew so as not to intrude.

Only when she had returned to the ball pit again, out of earshot with her back turned towards them did he resume the conversation.

“I might have information on the scout troop at my apartment. When we get back later, I’ll look for it.” That would provide him with an activity while the girls played video games or watch a holo, during Reese’s journey to his own apartment to gather their overnight bags. Bruce couldn’t guarantee that he had this on hand, but kept abreast of all manner of information about potential activities and opportunities now that Mabel was in elementary school. Though he had no legal rights or responsibilities, his ex included him to a far greater extent than many others might, for which he remained grateful.

Though expected, the question still caused Bruce to grow quiet. He ran his tongue along the back of his teeth while considering the least cryptic, most helpful response he could offer without veering into meaningless platitudes or reassurances coupled with guarantees that nobody could ensure. The seconds dragged on while the girls played, and the holographic band started a new song, a poor rendition of Polly Wolly Doodle. Until finally his attention snapped back to Reese and he opened his mouth to speak. “Start keeping a journal.”

One hand slid into his back pocket for his comb, something to busy his hands while they continued this stroll down memory lane and he had to balance a child’s experiences with those of an adult and a therapist and a friend. That he had to speak of his own inadvertent behavior as a child in the same terms used for victims of gas-lighting. “Keep it regularly, even if you don’t write every day. A couple of sentences per entry is sufficient; there’s no need to pour yourself into the pages but it’s imperative that you’re truthful. The point is to establish a routine and have a point of comparison.”

A pass of the comb through his hair, pushing brown strands displaced earlier back into place. “Review it periodically to search for discrepancies in your mood, in your routine, in your thought processes.” Another pass of the comb, its teeth soothing against his scalp. “That should cover more affirmative mental powers: mind control, memory manipulation, pheromone manipulation, things of that nature. Others are a bit more apparent. You’ll know if she’s a telepath. They…” He thought back to the telepath he had met while at the Institute and then the couple of others he had known in his time as a therapist. “They often manifest overt signs. She’ll begin hearing voices, and you might begin hearing voices as well-hers."

A last motion with his comb, and he withdrew the implement to replace in his back pocket. “Conversely, you can always call me. I can sniff out other psychics more often than not.”

@Reese Marshall
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