Disclaimer: You know the drill. 'Mutant X' and it's amazing cast of characters: Not Mine. Lexi and Izzy Fox-Mulwray and Ryan and Bethany DeLauro-Kilmartin: Mine.
Lexi had never been shy about being the centre of attention. Even as a baby, she had been perfectly content to have everybody focusing on her, and the impromptu 'Welcome Back' party that her adopted grandfather and her sister had thrown for her was no exception.
Between mouthfuls of cake, she regaled her family with tales of her adventures after her abduction, and how she had come up with a plan to help them to rescue her, gleefully noting that Eckhart had been completely taken in by her deception.
Adam's face became very solemn when he heard Lexi's account of the 'games' that Eckhart had had her play, and the results of those games, and although he didn't say anything, he resolved to speak to Shalimar and Brennan about arranging more frequent training sessions for both girls. They had known since the day the twins were born that they were potentially among the most powerful New Mutants alive, but it was often very easy to forget just how strong their abilities were, and just how devastating they could prove to be in the wrong hands.
They had been very lucky that Lexi had been too clever to buy the stories Eckhart had tried to feed her, but Adam couldn't afford to forget that if Lexi had been taken in, her mental domination ability could have been used to force countless New Mutants to serve Eckhart against their will.
They had to make sure that Lexi and Izzy were both aware of the power of their gifts, and of how vital it was that they didn't abuse them.
"You should have seen Eckhart's face when Lexi told him that she hadn't bought his story." Brennan told Jesse and Emma, who were both quite sorry that they hadn't been able to see this for themselves. A defeated Mason Eckhart was always good for a laugh, and no matter how often one of his plans was thwarted, he was still just as astounded when the next one didn't work out either. "I don't think he'll ever get over being duped by a seven year old."
"It's not going to do much for his reputation if this ever gets out." Jesse agreed happily, bouncing Ryan on his knee. The toddler was too young to have fully grasped the seriousness of the situation, but that didn't keep him from taking part in the celebrations as enthusiastically as the rest of them – perhaps even more so.
Even baby Bethany seemed to have been infected by the good mood, and she cooed happily at them all from her mother's arms.
"Were you scared when the bad men stole you?" Izzy asked. She hadn't stirred more than a few feet from her sister's side since Lexi had first been brought back, and didn't seem to have any intention of doing so in the foreseeable future. Under the circumstances, none of the adults could fault her for that.
"Nope." Lexi insisted cheerfully.
"Really?" Izzy eyed her sceptically. Lexi was very brave, but she knew that if she had been the one to be taken, she would have been very scared.
"Maybe a little." Lexi admitted grudgingly, before hastily adding, "but I wasn't scared for long."
"It's okay to be scared, honey, especially when something like this happens." Emma assured her gently. "I would have been scared if I had been the one that Eckhart had taken."
"Me too." Shalimar seconded. "And it was even scarier for me when you were taken."
"He's a very bad man." Lexi stated.
"That's an understatement." Her mother agreed, putting an arm around her shoulders and hugging her gently.
"I didn't like having to call him 'Uncle Mason' either." Uncles were supposed to be like her Uncle Jesse, who was always nice, who played with them and bought them candy and toys and who was there when she needed to talk to him about something, not like Eckhart, who had only been nice to her because she had abilities that he wanted her to use but she had had to pretend that she thought that he was nice. If she had refused to call him 'Uncle', he would have known that she knew the truth and she had been afraid that he would do something bad to her if he knew.
"Well, you never have to call him that ever again." Her father promised her. "In fact, I think that we'd all really appreciate it if you didn't."
"Hear, hear!" Jesse nodded vehemently, as did the other adults.
It didn't take a psionic to sense that Lexi's memories of her time with Eckhart were troubling her and, not wanting to let her dwell on it, not until she had had a chance to come to terms with what had happened and was ready to talk to them about it, Adam cut in, smiling down at the eldest of the children who had adopted him as their Grandpa. "I know that we've all had a lot of cake and candy already," he began, a twinkle in his eyes as he ruffled Lexi's hair, "but if I know our Lexi, she's still got some room left for..." he paused for effect, "...Ice cream."
"Yay!" Whatever Lexi may have thought about it, Ryan was certainly not adverse to the idea and, in the blink of an eye, he tore out of the rec room towards the kitchen, so fast that he was almost a blur, waiting impatiently for one of the adults to show up to start dishing it out.
Lexi's smile was broad as she followed, Izzy close behind her.
"I'd better get them their ice cream before they decide to start dishing it out themselves." Jesse commented wryly, knowing what the likely result would be if that happened. He rose to follow the three children out of the room.
"Do you think that she's okay, Adam?" Shalimar asked quietly once her daughters were safely out of earshot. Physically, she knew that Lexi didn't have so much as a scratch on her, but that didn't mean that her experience hadn't done some psychological and emotional damage.
"I think so." He reassured her. "Lexi's a strong kid – she definitely takes after you and Brennan in that respect. When she's ready to talk about what happened, she'll come to us."
"She's pretty amazing." Emma commented. "We've been fighting Eckhart and Genome X for years, and your seven year old is able to outsmart him and to make sure that he thinks twice before he comes near her again."
"More than twice." Brennan corrected. Considering where she had electrocuted him, he wouldn't have been surprised if Eckhart preferred to keep a continent, at the very least, between himself and Alexis Marie Fox-Mulwray from now on. 'Even if he does want to, he's not going to have the chance.' He vowed inwardly; they had been very lucky to get Lexi back unharmed this time. If he had anything to say about it, there wouldn't be a next time.
"I think it's a pretty safe bet that Lexi will be following in her Mom and Dad's footsteps, probably Izzy too." Adam said. "She's going to make one Hell of a member of Mutant X one day."
"Yes," Shalimar agreed. She winced at the sound of a crash from the kitchen, swiftly followed by an 'Oops' from Lexi. "God help the bad guys."
Happy Easter, everybody. :-)