SalmonMax Posted February 8, 2014 Share Posted February 8, 2014 Renata flew back to Andry's building, put her clothes back on over her costume, and ran the city blocks back to where she'd stashed her car...all still fighting the lingering headache and dizziness from her 'power push' event. She was so out of it that she actually managed to get lost at one point and had to go building-to-building to find the secluded lot where she'd parked. ,, And that's when the real hard part started. ,, She got in, started the engine, and as she slowly pulled out, she hit a speed dial button on her phone. ,, A second later it picked up, and she heard her father say, "Ren! Are you okay?!" ,, Hearing him eased a vise in her chest she'd only barely been aware of. A reminder that, for all their differences, they were family. The near-panic in his voice was painfully, nakedly audible. She had to pull over as her vision blurred. ,, "Yeah, Dad," she said thickly. "I'm ok. Sorry I didn't call...couldn't get a signal while I was still in the cordon. Cell towers were all fucked up or something I dunno..." ,, "She's all right!" That wasn't directed at her, and Renata heard a sobbing gasp from somewhere away from the receiver. Then her mother came on and tearfully said, "Are you hurt? Honey, we were so worried! We've just been staring at the TV for...for since it started! Why didn't you call?!" ,, She opened her mouth to answer, but her dad came to her rescue; she heard him say something quietly, away from the phone. Then he got back on. "Peanut, we're just glad you're okay. I mean, we didn't think you were usually in that part of town, but we tried calling you and you didn't pick up, and...things just got worse and worse." ,, Renata winced. She really needed some way to use her phone in costume. Or at least check messages. "I'm sorry, Dad," she said softly. ,, He blew out an exhalation that chuffed in the phone's mic, then assured her, "It's okay. Everything's fine. You're all right." He chuckled then...that famous, immediately-infectious chuckle that was like an express elevator to trust. "What were you doing clear up there anyway, Peanut? Not too many college kids or artists hanging around there." ,, She winced again, for a different reason. He always found a way to remind her that she was slumming, without ever doing it openly enough to call him on. Goddamnit. A vengeful little surge of spite kicked in, and Renata replied without a hitch, "I was...well I was on a date." ,, The silence on the other side of the line was seven kinds of vindicating. It managed to convey 'incredulous' without transmitting any data at all; a masterpiece of efficiency. Renata pounded the nail in a little more and added, "Lunch date." ,, That brought things back a bit. "Oh," her dad said, "Lunch date. Of course." ,, "I mean, we've had regular dates too, but this was just lunch." She couldn't help it. Imagining the looks on their faces was worth any price. ,, "Well...that's great!" the Senator exclaimed. "Jeez, Peanut, why haven't you even told us before you were going out?" ,, Ren heard her mother bark, 'what?!' in a startled voice, and had to cover the mic for a second so the laugh she couldn't contain wouldn't wreck everything. When she was sure of herself she replied in an appropriately embarrassed tone, "It's only been a couple of times now. There's nothing really to tell yet." ,, But too late, now her mother was back on, and her voice was so excited that Renata felt a little bad about it...but it couldn't be undone now. "Hon, this is amazing news! When did you meet?! What kind of boy is he?! Is he anyone we know?!" ,, She laughed, and the nervous edge to it was both completely convincing and completely real. This was starting to get more complicated than she'd wanted it to be. "A couple of weeks ago, I guess," Ren said, "He's nice, but you guys wouldn't know him or his family. He's..." Her brain skipped a beat. Jesus Christ, what was her boyfriend like? ,, Credentials. Lets give him credentials. ,, "...he was in the army," she said. "Got a good job offer though so he didn't go career. He's been overseas, which is pretty cool." ,, Her parents were silent, raptly sucking up the information like black holes surrounded by old unstable stars. ,, "...like hunting, being outdoors. We're talking about doing some camping before it gets cold. Uh, anyway...like I said...it's still no big deal." ,, Her dad laughed his big, 'you're all in on the BEST joke' belly laugh and said, "Talking about camping is no big deal? Hon, your mom and I have been waiting for you to tell us this for...well for years. We were so worried that whole Jon thing had really hurt you. I mean, all through the rest of high school, and college...just nothing. So even one date is great news. Hey, I know!" ,, The boyish enthusiasm in his voice closed like fingers around her heart. She knew that tone really well. ,, "Why don't you bring him over?!" ,, fuckfuckfuck! ,, "Dad...it's a little early to drag him to meet the folks, don't you think?" Renata desperately parried. "I don't want to scare him off." ,, He laughed again. "Peanut, anyone who's tough enough to go out with you can certainly deal with your mom and I. We're kittens compared to you!" Ren heard her mother reprove him gently, and he chuckled again. ,, "I'll...I'll think about it, ok? No promises." Renata hesitated. "Is everyone else okay? I mean, with the attack and everything? Have you heard from everyone?" ,, That brought things back down again, which made her both relieved and a little guilty. ,, "Not everyone," her dad said. "Not yet." His tone assumed an only slightly-enforced cheerier tone. "We'll get that all straightened out as it comes, but for now, seriously, punkin...we're going to keep the table set with another place. So bring'em on over! All right?" ,, "Look, dad...it's not that I don't want to. He's just...this is a bad time, you know?" Renata pleaded. "He's got friends up there." ,, "Peanut, I'm so sorry," he said quickly. "You're right. Of course. We're just so happy for you, we forgot all about what he's going through. Give him our best, and you guys come over whenever you want. Alright?" ,, She sighed and nodded. There was no escape. He'd keep going until he had some kind of agreement he could hold her to. "Okay, dad." ,, A few minutes later Renata was back on the road, head spinning from one more thing to juggle. She had some time, but sooner or later she'd have to serve someone up...or come clean about having lied to them right after one of the worst scares in the family's history. ,, Why weren't there superheros for situations like THIS? 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