Title: Ten Years and Counting
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 21 June 2009
Fandom: Light, Water, Muses
Pairing: Dace/Catherine, Karen/Darya, Art/Sam/Janet, Olivia/Alex, Alex/Rachel, Alexis/Tory, Anastasia/Tessa
Word Count: 3964
Summary: It's been 10 years since so many lifechanging events took place.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD09
Note: I wanted to do something to commemorate the 10th calendar, so why not do a 10 year anniversary of some of the biggest events that caused LWM? Not the least of which was Art's grenade. This was fun to write and the muses grabbed me by the short and curlies and rode me hard and put me away wet. I'm exhausted!
++ Karen ++
It feels like walking into the predator's cave, only to find the dangerous beast depressed instead of angry. "Hey punk," I greet quietly, still half expecting one ear to flick around to catch my sound. Over the years, Dace has settled more and more into who and what she is, the difference between the human and feline less and less obvious. But tonight she just looks like a sad woman staring up at the moon.
"Did you realize that ten years ago I told Sylvia to fuck off and walked out of her life?" Snorting humorlessly, she scrubs her hands hard over her face and says even more quietly, "And I nearly ruined my own."
"Has it been that long?" The wonder in my tone isn't feigned as I join my heart-sib in her lonely vigil. Catherine will be close by, if not at Dace's side soon, and I will stay with her until then. "I didn't place the exact date of that fight. But I sure remember that farce of a marriage." We both remember that I was the only one of the Suits to attend and even then I knew it was stupid and wrong. Dace visibly flinches and I gentle. "So what has you out here beating yourself up over past mistakes? Fuck, Dace, that was ten years ago." Lamely, Dace shrugs and I mentally take stock of ways to snap her out of it. "This is a big tenth anniversary for a lot of stuff now that I think about it. Em died, Art got hit by that grenade."
"Alexis killed Blair," Dace adds in before firing me a weird look. "You are working towards cheering me up, right?"
Huffing a short laugh, I turn my body towards hers, holding the night-darkened eyes. "This is always a tough time of year for our tribe. Art and Zo's folks died on the second, Snake-Eyes died on the thirteenth. The Suits fell apart all those years ago. And I'm turning forty-three in eleven days." The aggrieved note in my voice gets what I wanted, the flash of her endearing smile. "And you turn forty in a few months." Again, I have to chortle as she winces, but immediately sober. With a gentle hand, I reach out to cup her cheekbone, stroking the scar and piercing over her brow. "Did you ever really think about that?" I have her complete attention now. "You and me as kids were on the fast track to nowhere. We scraped the bottom of the barrel and got dragged through the muck there. We've both looked death in the eye far too young and far too often. We've loved and lost and been hurt so bad we wanted to die."
The silence falls thick and angsty between us as the painful words sink in. But if there is one thing I have always adored in Dace is that she always gets it. Oh, it might take a while, but she always catches up on what I'm thinking. Realization dawns over her expressive face, careworn with experience and time, and she straightens to face me, my hand falling to her shoulder.
"You're turning forty-three in eleven days," she muses wonderingly. "I'll be… forty soon. Whoa."
++ Dace ++
It's a weird pep talk, but it has me thinking clearly again. We have been through a lot, all of us, but we're stronger than ever before. No challenge has beaten us down.
Karen startles when I lash out with my enhanced reflexes to yank her into a crushing hug. If I could, I would lift her feet up, but she's just too damn tall. With a chuckle, Karen squeezes me back, and she does lift my feet off the floor, dammit. But I forgive her with ease, particularly when she kisses my temple tenderly.
"And, if the pep talk wasn't enough," she hums softly. "Just imagine where you'd be if it never happened."
As usual, she's right and I blow a heavy breath out into the thick sorrel waves of her mane. Then she pulls away and gives me a friendly push towards the house.
"Now go get your pack and have a good night."
With a hefty smack across my ass, Karen swaggers off with a jaunty whistle.
"The longer I know her," Catherine's voice says quietly from the shadows. "The more I like her."
With a sensual sway to her hips, Cath strides over to wrap me in her hug. "There's another anniversary you two forgot about. Oh, it's not as important as a big tenth, certainly, but in three days," she pauses to hold my eyes with the deep pools of her loving gaze. "It will be six years since we met."
Memories of the noisy bar in Chicago wash over me, that place where our souls first touched. Like that first meeting, we kiss and feel the connection so powerful between us.
"Well, I met you both," she giggles against my lips and we laugh together. "Both of you are damn memorable."
Right on cue, Sara steps onto the porch, her dark head swiveling around until she spots us. All that's missing now is Sofia, and I bet she isn't far away. But first…
In a giggling tidal wave of girlish energy, arrives the best part of our big family. At three and a half, Katie and Sandy have evolved into little individuals, tempered and grounded by Rose's always loving presence. At six and quarter, she is their rock and their heart and is always exhausted from keeping tabs on them.
Sure enough, Rose is right behind my girls, who attack Catherine and me enthusiastically. To this day, they still do not call me by name, using instead the kitten-trill they have always used. Katie is scooped up into our cuddle while Sandy wraps herself around our knees.
"You're not supposed to run," Rose sighs melodramatically and the twins giggle.
"Sorry, Boo," they chorus, still using my favorite nickname for their dark Guide.
Smoothing my hand over her glossy black curls, I grin warmly at this child of my heart and she leans against me with a sigh. "It's been a long day, kittens. How does macaroni and cheese sound for dinner?" A chorus of 'yay' assaults my sensitive ears, but I don't release my grip on Katie while Catherine keeps a grip on Sandy. "And Boo is right, you're not supposed to be running."
"Or shouting," Catherine adds and the girls pout lightly, but do as their told. Hyper as they are, both girls are pretty good kids, but extremely high maintenance. If it weren't for Rose and my pack, I'd have probably gone insane.
They're all more than I've ever deserved.
++ Rachel ++
Over time I've grown used to Rose's following Dace around like another parent. Seems only fair, as the boisterous Bogart twins look to Alex and me the same way. All three girls are with Dace and Catherine as they head for the kitchen of the main house where we're all hanging out. Rose looks tired where she trails after Dace, her hard curled around the tall woman's belt.
"Guess it's finally dinner time," Alex chortles lightly, nuzzling at my scalp. We've been curled up on the couch for some time now, just relaxing away the long day. While having the entire extended clan in one place is exhilarating, it's also exhausting.
Time heals all wounds. While I don't completely believe that old adage, there is some truth to the statement. Those of us scarred by life have grown stronger and more hale amidst this unique collection of humanity.
The evil and pain of my past seems somehow distant now, like a particularly violent and horrible horror film that left me with permanent nightmares. The memories have grown less sharp, if no less real, surrounded as I am with love and acceptance. The scars left on me by the Cantwell heritage I was born to, the loss of Patrick and Connor, the trials of my time with the Legacy, all still lay heavy on me; but I do not bear them alone.
Unbidden, my eyes travel over to where Michel sprawls in toddler abandon over Kat's somnolent body. Though he's hardly a toddler anymore, what with his fourth birthday less than two months away! My baby has grown into a fine young woman who makes me intensely proud, even as her twentieth birthday looms close.
And I will be fifty.
Gods, where does the time go?
"The wolfling went down with a fight," Darya comments and draws my eye to where she's standing behind the couch suddenly. As they usually do, Dace's nickname for the boy has stuck whether I like it or not. Truthfully, I think it's cute, particularly when he growls like a wolf pup at the Big Cat.
"It only took an hour of tickling," Alex chuckles. "I honestly thought Kat was going to crash before he would."
Sensing our talking about him, Michel's extraordinary eyes flutter open and he oozes off Kat's body. Jerking awake, the eldest child looks around wildly until she locates him and I'm proud of her attentiveness. But the sleepy boy is merely toddling over to me to climb onto the couch and collapse on me. "Maman," he murmurs, pressing his silky head under my chin and his fist to his well-formed mouth. He is an impossibly beautiful child, clearly showing both Alex and Michael's good looks. The amber-gold eyes he inherited from our statuesque pal flutter closed, the thick black lashes brushing his dusky cheeks. My heart swells with adoration when he stills and sighs with perfect trust into my body only when I stroke his head and back. It's strange, but the older he gets, the more he is starting to look more like my son. Impossible, I know, but nonetheless true. Alex sometimes pouts that it's not fair that he sees me as his favored parent. But we have a unique connection, this impossibly sensitive child and I, one that only the Awakened among us understand. Thankfully, this includes Alex and both daughters.
As sensitive as her baby brother, Rose materializes to drape a big hug over me, making me chuckle and grip her tightly. "Love you, Maman." The adoration of these children, not of my body, but of my heart, never ceases to move me. Michel grumbles at the jostling, even as Rose carefully wiggles herself into what little of Alex's lap is available. After all, my head and one shoulder cover most of my lovely wife's torso. I ignore the few pulled hairs as Rose makes herself comfortable.
Kat's smile sleepily flashes at me from where she sprawls on the loveseat nearby, completing the circle of family. While my past may be full of tragedy, my present is all I could ask for and more.
++ Darya ++
The Corrigan-Moreau clan is blissfully ensconced in their happy cocoon of love and I wander off, needing to find my own clan now. Not that it's ever really just the six of us, not here with this enormous extended family!
Like how the Corrigan-Moreau kids are so sensitive to their parents, my Emily appears to eye me curiously. For a long moment, I just stare at my eldest child, still marveling at the changes time has wrought on her. From a tiny bundle, helpless and whimpering, came this tall girl, wise beyond her ten and half years. She's grown so tall, passing me up months ago, gangly and ever more beautiful.
"Hey baby," I smile at Emily, who grins back. "How's Gramma Stasia?"
"Sleeping that headache off. Tessa wasn't worried, so neither am I. Are you hungry? I think Kryn is cooking with the twins."
Dinner does sound good, so I nod and follow her back to our house. The night has grown chilly, though not too bad, so we hurry across the cul-de-sac and to the warmth of home. Inside is the usual chaos, despite the slightly late hour, but the energy is distinctly home. Cubby, now a handsome eight years old, wrestles with Dobby while the girls cheer them on. It gets more interesting when Cory and Elana sneak up to pounce on their older brother. Of course, in his typical fashion, Cubby is very careful of his siblings and cousins.
Unable to resist, Emily swoops in to grab a wriggling Cory while Cubby does his best to pin Dobby and his unusually athletic little sister. The whole scene makes me laugh, but I swallow the merriment and help herd the mass when Janet comes out and starts cracking the verbal whip.
"Come on, you wild animals. There's a light dinner and then baths."
With much obligatory moaning and groaning, the children troop off to the kitchen, Elana giggling in Cubby's headlock. These are the sort of moments that imprint the most sweetly on my memories, these seemingly ordinary snapshots in time with my big family. Around the massive farmhouse table built by Art and Karen, the whole gaggle of us gathers to eat and chatter. The youngest five still require close supervision, particularly so wound up, but that's one of the advantages of having five adults present. Elena giggles as Sam Eskimo-kisses her and they share bites of the macaroni and cheese and salad. Fawn blabbers in her way at Emily, who nods attentively. How my eldest keeps up with her Guide is still a mystery, but she never forgets a word. Wynnie is mostly asleep in Karen's lap, sucking on her nylon spoon, blue eyes drooping and one fist clenched in Karen's t-shirt. It's the eldest and youngest that look the most like my dear mate, not the ones she actually contributed genes to. This is still a source of great amusement to everyone.
It's the twins that carry the most blatant imprint of the McKenzie side of the family, with their reddish-brown hair and smiles that remind me eerily of my mother. They will be sensitive and magical more the way that Zo and Rachel and Alex are and not like Dace and their older sister. Only Brannwyn seems to be ordinary, but strangely, her siblings seem better at their unusual talents when she's about.
My musings are done now, interrupted by Dobby asking for help with his salad that is too chunky for his little fork. Pretty soon I'm expecting him to outgrow the silly nickname that Emily gave him as a baby. But for now, he beams at me for my help and munches away at his dinner.
How I adore these ordinary moments.
++ Art ++
I'm tired, but there are things I need to get done yet. Cory squirms in my grip where I'm doing my best wash his hands, his body gripped between mine and the sink.
"Don't wanna wash," he whines. "A'ready gotta bath."
"Then you shouldn't have gotten into Dea's chocolates. Now you're in trouble and you have to wash up again. So don't fuss."
Sulky, he does as he's told, feet kicking lightly in the air until we finish up and I can wipe him off with a towel. Plunking him down, I crouch and take his little hands in mine. "Now, you know you aren't allowed into Dea's chocolates. So tomorrow you have to help Mama with the chores." Cory crosses his arms and looks hurt and annoyed. Hmm, obviously that hasn't gotten through to him. "And you cannot help with the dogs until the weekend."
That does it, as the boy's face falls and his eyes get bright with tears. "But Bahbas."
"Son, you know I love you to pieces, but this has to be done. Next time you think about getting into other people's things, you remember this punishment." Miserable, Cory nods, allowing me to hug him, but not returning the gesture. So I send him off with my gentlest tone. "Now, off to bed with you." Janet appears at the kitchen doorway as I remember to call after Cory, "and you make sure to apologize to Dea."
"Yes Bahbas," floats back to me and I nod to myself.
Still looking angry, Janet sighs and steps in to lean against the counter near me. "I'm sorry to have dropped that in your lap," she sighs, squirming uncomfortably not unlike her youngest son. "I was just so mad that I knew I wouldn't be able to punish him appropriately. Really, I just wanted to whack him one."
She's adorable, all flustered like this, but I wisely swallow my amusement, instead moving in closer so that we're almost touching. "I know. It was a crazy night, getting everybody fed so late and all the kids hyper. Cory will mope for a few days, but hopefully he'll stop with this particular bad behavior." Ducking in, I nuzzle at Janet's neck and she only fights it for a moment before softening with a sigh.
"I suppose I should feel lucky that they're generally such a well-behaved bunch."
"That's the spirit."
Chortling to herself, Sam steps into the kitchen with Cory's dirty shirt. "The smallest boy child finally seems to be authentically apologetic. Let me guess, you took away the dogs?"
Pressing her tall, lanky body into our loose cuddle, Sam snuggles her head down so that we can all trade nuzzles.
"Yes. I hate to use that card very often, I know how much the kids love to help, but nothing else was getting through to him. He can help again this weekend."
Age has made my women even more gorgeous, their forty-two years and change making them dramatic and sexy as hell. Particularly when they're feeling frisky!
Unfortunately, I have to gently pry Sam away from her amorous intentions. "As much as I'd like to jump into this, you'll have to get started without me." Both pout and I have to chuckle. "I promised Ace that I would get that tub fixed tonight. I think it's stressing her out."
"Hurry back," Sam purrs against my ear and they each kiss me senseless before wandering off towards bed hand in hand.
Sigh. Being responsible sucks sometimes.
++ Alex ++
I love this life, every little scrap of it, but sometimes the little things stress me.
"Baby, will you relax? Art said she'll be here," Olivia calls out from the living room and I blow out a harsh sigh. My routine has been ruined and it has me completely out of sorts. To some, it would only be a clogged tub. To me, it's my personal time interrupted. With all the constant chaos around me, I need quiet mental recharging space.
The familiar little voice instantly calms me as I turn to scoop Jimmy up into a hug. "Hey Pumpkin, what are you doing up?"
"Can' sleep," he murmurs and melts into my body. Adopting this sweet child was a weird step in my life all those years ago, but I have never regretted the decision.
"It was an exciting day."
"Mmm, hmm," he mumbles.
"Would you like to go cuddle with your Bebe?"
That makes him smile and hug me tighter. In the living room, Liv instantly straightens up from her lazy slouch across the couch and accepts Jimmy's limp weight. "Well hi there handsome. Gonna keep me company?"
There's no verbal answer, but Jimmy appears to be satisfied with his curvy mattress and sighs happily, his blue eyes closing. His pale coloring is as startling against Liv's swarthiness as my own. One darkly tanned hand strokes over the fine swath of his golden hair, followed by sweet kisses.
Even the knock on the door doesn't disturb his new relaxation. Thankfully, it's Art waiting there with a weary smile. "Sorry I took so long, Ace."
"That's okay, I'm grateful for the help."
For a long time, the silly nickname drove me crazy, because it sounded so much like Dace. Not to mention that was who gave me the damn moniker in the first place. The fact that there really are too many Alexes on the premises is beside the point.
Grinning at Liv and the sleeping Jimmy, Art follows me to the lone bathtub in the house where dirty water puddles defiantly.
"I would have just poured that nasty smelling stuff down there," I hedge, helplessly gesturing at the mess as Art kneels down. "But I remember that the septic system might get pissed off."
"City girl," the other woman teases me and I scowl for effect. "Let me see if I can get you to your bubble bath."
"I know you think it's silly."
"Not really, every parent needs some alone time. Thankfully, it looks like Liv has the rug rat well in hand."
"Thank goodness for that."
We share a commiserating glance and chuckle. This is a club I wasn't privy to until Liv and I adopted Jimmy. Now, I'm a parent.
Liv first made my life whole and then Jimmy gave me further purpose, making our unorthodox family even more complete.
++ Monica ++
It's a nice night, cool and crisp with a hint of rain in our near future. On a whim, I'd asked Dana if she would like to take a walk. Now we're rambling about the grounds, hand in hand.
All this time has passed and our togetherness on all levels hasn't faded. She's my partner in every sense of the word and keeps me grounded in reality throughout the crazy and banal of our lives.
"Did you ever see yourself in a place like this?"
Dana's voice is soft as she stares up at the sky and gives my hand a warm squeeze.
"In the middle of the desert with you?"
"No, of course I never saw any of this happen. One phone call from Mulder and one glance at that woman-cat set me on this path. You are just a damn nice bonus." The heavy slap to the ribs I asked for and it makes me 'whuff' in surprise before I laugh. With an icy, haughty look, Dana cows my amusement and I kiss her knuckles in apology. "I'm sorry, Dana. I'm being a pain in the ass."
"You'd think I'd be used to it," she sighs and we continue our relaxed walk. Alex is striding purposefully across the cul-de-sac towards the Fraiser-Farazell house and returns my wave. Bet that errand has something to do with the dreaded stopped up tub. Poor thing has been stressed out over that all day.
This late at night, the Ranch is fairly quiet, one of the dogs barking in the kennels, music filtering out of Cindy and Boxer's place, the rustle of wind in the trees.
Then off in the faint moonlight is my favorite sight, one that makes me pause and nudge Dana to look. Alexis Barnes was a broken creature, lost and insane with no one to guide her. Then the sister of that dead Guide came along, making that broken Jaguar nearly whole for the first time. The moon's cool light glitters in her blonde hair and Tory's curly dark mop as they play tag from shadow to shadow. The childish playing is so good for them both, scarred and once lonely as they are. And none of us ever thought that Alexis would be comfortable enough in her own skin as to go and play outdoors.
This is our most enduring legacy, Alexis and the various children that will inherit the earth as it is destined to become. This is what we've fought for, some for more years than any of us care to admit. But I don't think anyone would change anything that's happened to get us to where we are now.