The Comforts of Home
by Dialecticdreamer/Sarah Williams
part 4 of 8 (complete)
word count (story only): 1272
:: Part of the Polychrome Heroics universe, the Mercedes story set, and the Road Trip, Joshua finally has a moment to breathe, and bond with his children… all of them. ::
back to part three
to the Road Trip Index
on to part five
“Have you ever wanted to be something other than a police officer?” the blond bodyguard asked.
“Not since before high school,” Joshua admitted.
Il Dottore spoke again, and both bodyguards' body language unconsciously morphed into a restful, attentive pose. “You could be a very effective teacher to others interested in emotional first aid and trauma care, especially those working with traumatized children. I'd be quite interested to see if your particular storytelling methods can be taught, with replicable improvements for the listeners.”
“I'd be what, a special consultant to your… family business?” Joshua asked carefully.
“Would that upset you?” the healer asked.
“I'm not a hick, and I try not to wear blinders, except long enough to keep the peace between my ex-wife and my son.” The blond officer shifted his weight, glancing at Elisabeth Finn.
She nodded sharply. “Go ahead.”
“When Drew was attacked, it set his whole family into protective, defensive overdrive. When their hired security wasn't doing enough
,” Joshua rolled his eyes. “Including hassling one of Drew's friends instead of doing their freaking job, I noticed that a whole lot of new visitors arrived, camping out near the Finns. Some of them were carrying concealed weapons, and some of those
were the bane of every cop's existence, bolt pistols
.” He spread his hands. “There wasn't any escalation, no one got physically hurt.”
Elisabeth bit her lip. “Except for Mike Bradstreet, but that's an entirely different problem with no real solution, just a whole lot of headaches.”
“You're implying a run of criminals in your quiet little town,” Il Dottore ventured, laughter lilting in his voice like ripples in a stream.
“Angry criminals,” Joshua emphasized. “Plus angry family, ex-military friends, probably not-so-ex-military friends who were very likely in trouble when they got back to their duty stations, and enough teleporters to make the two closest grocery stores move all their high-calorie goodies to the most visible displays and end caps within days. Every delivery place in town would smile
like a cat with a bowl of cream when the name Finn cropped up. The local gym didn't usually open until nine on Sundays, but suddenly, there were people inside starting at six and leaving
by eight-thirty. It's not genius to see
what's in front of my nose.”
“So, what do you think you were seeing?” the dark-haired bodyguard asked, glancing at his boss for an instant.
“Friends helping one of their own, whether it was through Tolliver's and Simon's military pals, Doctor G's tendency to know half a million people by reputation at least, or Elisabeth's tendency to ruthlessly rule the world via compassion.”
Cash snickered. “You missed half a dozen of my pals, too. At one point, there were three
full crews casing your town.”
“Did they find anything I need to know about? Shoplift? Swipe newspapers off doorsteps?” Joshua shook his head. “I wasn't the only one talking about the 'family reunion' over at the Finn household, and nobody seemed to want a more fantastical explanation for it.”
The former bank robber scratched his eyebrow. “One crew might've put in a few bids for driveway and ramp work, over on Crescent Street.”
Elisabeth brightened. “Oh, I got their card! They did great work on Susan Clay's place, and the ramps let her little boy actually play
in his own back yard instead of having someone drive him to the park.”
“I rest my case,” Joshua declared, laughing quietly. “With the Chief gone, there are only four officers I'd worry about if an incident happened, while the rest of the force would be concentrating on containment, de-escalation, and protecting civilians.” He cocked an eyebrow at Cash. “Are you planning to stay in Mercedes for the next six months or so? That makes it unlikely that you'll rob one of the local banks.”
“Six months isn't enough time to plan a job and
get a team working smoothly together,” Cash corrected. “Even if I had a bank ripe for the picking, I would have to plan time to build cohesion as well as removing the most likely errors
Elisabeth's eyes widened. “That sounds like some of the high-risk surgical teams I've worked with, though we don't often get actual practice on patients together, rather, shadowing and endless, endless nitpicking over the procedural details until everyone is working with the same system.”
The sound of someone's stomach rumbling turned all the adults' eyes toward Griffin, who was just beginning to wake.
“Now's a good time to give you some tips,” the blond bodyguard declared. “One, make sure he's drinking no more than one sixteen-ounce soda per day. Empty calories are going to be useful for a while, but sodas are horrible for long-term use, even for speedsters. Two, if he's got a favorite food, stock up, especially if using a chest freezer will make it cheaper to keep the supply, and keep it usable longer. Three… Uh… did anyone warn you that he might have different
chances of becoming a soup?”
“It was mentioned. We'll deal with it if it comes up,” Joshua answered.
The dark-haired bodyguard shrugged expansively. “You're not freaking out at the possibility; that's better than my parents managed. Pick something high calorie to feed him as he wakes up, even if he's still groggy and not yet using words. It really helps quash the 'starving to death in my own skin' feeling.” He glanced at Doctor Finn, and blushed slightly. “He's going to need some… extra private time, since the biological systems are going to be wandering in and out of focus for weeks. Don't make a big deal of that, if you can avoid it?”
Joshua snickered as he rolled his eyes. “Clearly, I have no clue how to recognize the hypocrisy in either shaming or
encouraging such behavior, just because the kid's genes changed.” Becoming serious, he narrowed his eyes at the bodyguard. “I'm not going to get everything right on the first try, but I'm not going to do something that
likely to hurt him, either.”
“Uh, noooo,” the bodyguard drawled. “I mean… did you go through a phase where you just kept
trying things out now that the hormones were kicking into overdrive? That's going to crop up for him soon, and be totally different than before. Try not to wig him out, okay? It wasn't very pleasant when people who should have known better were making jokes about extra-long showers, and so forth.”
Joshua winced. “Oh, I see. Yeah, his therapist warned me about that when I started trying to get together the plan and the funds for the trip. You went the genetic route?”
The bodyguard shook his head. “One of my siblings, and… I didn't know because I'd already been kicked out for being a soup.”
Il Dottore touched the other man's wrist, whispering something in Italian. “I believe there are plenty of people to watch over four sleeping children while you help the fifth youngster get to the dining room? Don't rush,” he suggested firmly, “and make it a habit to ask your son what he would like for seconds, rather than whether
he wants them, until he stops waking up at the sound of his own stomach rumbling.”
Joshua levered himself to his feet, then began shifting the toddlers piled around Griffin. The teen mumbled something, cracking his eyelids to tiny slits, then fumbled to his feet. His father guided him to the walker, but did not step away until Griffin stood without swaying.
“Should I bring back a round of coffee at least?” the older man asked.
“We'll get it in a few minutes,” the blond offered.
on to part five