You needed another gin right this instant. Either that holy alcohol manifested itself in your outstretched hand or your whole anatomy would slip off into the void like a particularly sloppy mudslide. You willed this to transpire—the physics defying materialization of your drink, that is. Not the mudslide though, honestly, if this hypothetical mudslide consisted of Bailey's Irish Cream and Kahlua coffee liqueur rather than earthy debris, then you would certainly receive it with a welcoming embrace.
You stared so fiercely at your sweating palm and slim fingers that you were nearly certain that you could conjure both the gin and the alcoholic application of the mudslide. A condensating crystal glass of clear gin, the slender stem of which was balanced between your middle and ring fingers…a fat margarita glass with that blended heavenly concoction garnished with grated chocolate swirls…
Neither appeared and, quite frankly, that irked you more so than the sudden tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at your chamber door. Your hand fell unceremoniously to the pink sheets of your bed as your visions of alcoholic release evaporated like the unattainable mirage they were.
Now who in their right mind would be summoning your presence at such an hour? Why you'd already retired to your room in the lab and bid The Children not to bother you. They were all out flaunting their youth and wasting away their precious lives doing god only knows what. Making out in the kitchen or drinking their brain cells into the negatives or building robots or scowling at their mothers or playing with pistols and rifles. That's what they were doing. Not knocking at your door…no you were relaxing in your room, enjoying an ultimate mudslide and waiting for the bleary sleep of an alcohol induced unconsciousness.
"Mom?" a soft voice, so gentle in her intent, so innocent in her formative years, whispers through the frosted glass of your room's door. My god, did she have the gumption to address you? In this moment, you wondered what disaster warranted your attention, aid, or other service. She wouldn't come to you for any other reason if not required to do so.
"Yes, sweety, come in." you moan, sitting up on the edge of your bed and wiping your nose on your hand. Blinking to bring the door into focus, you watch eagerly as she enters cautiously. She'd no doubt found this childish bedroom of yours, though it be nestled deep within Skaialabs, and thus you felt no shame in her presence in this bright pink lodging. Once upon a time, it might have humiliated you for it to be revealed to your daughter that, beneath your debonair demeanor, a young girl's interests begged attention. Never mind that now, however.
"What can I do for you, dear?" you ask, patting the unoccupied space of mattress beside you and smiling motherly at her. The motherese tone slipped into your voice by its own apparent need for her love, you thought. You nearly flinched at the sweet and sugary way your larkesque accent sounded. She would reject that motherly tone, you knew even before her lips pursed disapprovingly. She thought you were mocking her and being the passive aggressive dictator she thought you to be. Oh sweety, please don't think I'm mocking you.
"John, Dave, Jane, and I explained the game tribulations to Mr. Egbert and Mr. Crocker." She replies, her dainty hands moving almost reflexively to smooth her skirt. She is trying not to look around the room, you notice; her eyes remained fixedly on your face (though not your eyes). She shifts uncomfortably, her jaw muscles fluttering as she seems to hesitate in continuing. Was she going to ask something of you? Perhaps she merely sought your approval since she had taken the initiative of aiding in revealing such a terrible occurrence to The Fathers. In your honest opinion, The Children should've just left those poor men in the dark.
"Can you elucidate some of it to them as well? Perhaps hearing the truth from an adult will solidify our validity." She tells you, not asks. It didn't escape your attention that her eyes happened to leave your face when she'd called you an 'adult'. Had she really ever seen you as more than a patronizing older sister? Had you ever seen yourself as more than a child playing grown-up?
"Why did you tell Mr. Egbert and Mr. Crocker about that unfortunate game?" you ask gently, watching intently as her eyes flicked from the small wizard figurines to the bright pink furniture—anything but you. Truthfully, you had not meant this inquiry to be condescending of her executive decision; it was an honest question. The Fathers didn't need to know about the events which transpired within the game nor their untimely demises. Why not leave them ignorant to such trauma? Rose, dear, you should've known this and had the decency to convince your friends the same.
"It was all very sudden. I believe they would've remembered eventually, much like Dave's Bro. Morally, it was eating away at John and Jane…" she trails off, maybe at a loss for words or maybe feeling she didn't need to justify her actions to you. Her hands clasp behind her back and subtly she leans back against the door for support.
She looked so tired; so aged and wise in her child eyes. That damned game you'd helped construct had matured her well beyond her years and exposed her to the sort of terrors that no child should ever be forced to battle. It pained you more so to remember how eager she had been to play the game and share it with her little friends. Like lambs to slaughter and you'd crafted the butcher's block.
"Mother?" she asks, perhaps a little more firmly than she'd intended. Though your eyes rested on her, she realized you were lightyears away in thought, the unbridled frontier. Rose sighs deeply, sauntering towards you after a moment's hesitation and putting a delicate hand to your shoulder. It breaks you from your thoughts and causes your gaze to fix on hers stably. She was here and she was yours and with an alternate universe of calamities in mind, you would do everything within your power to keep her with you.
"Yes, yes. I will talk with them." You say hurriedly, your words tumbling out quickly as she removes her hand and scrunches her nose distastefully. She hated that smell—the alcohol on your breath. It made her recoil every time. This was all so tense you thought the atmosphere would become so tangible one could choke on it. It'd always been with her.
"We brought them to the lab." Rose states clearly, raising her fragile little chin superiorly as if she was waiting for you to passively aggressively break her down and reject her decisions. What was she balancing there? Her confidence seemed to wobble on the tip of her chin as you stood leisurely, allowing your joints to become accustomed to standing.
Though you stood a head taller than her presently, you knew she would grow to be as tall as you were. Sans kitten heels, you thought, recalling your encounter with Roxy's mother hours earlier. Christ on a cracker, she scared the living devil out of you; that sophisticated, powerful, keen woman your daughter would one day mirror. It was a glimpse into a reality you'd never dreamed could coincide with your own.
"Well then, shall we?" you say, offering her a smile and gesturing towards the door widely. Her brow creases sourly and lips press into a firm line as if she vehemently wished to say more. As she turns uncertainly towards the exit, your hands move to your blonde hair, patting and fusing with it frivolously. Wiping your thumb around your lips, you attempt to fix your lipstick and secure some sort of stability in your appearance. Did you look alright? God, you didn't want to embarrass her in front of her friend and…him.
"You look fine, mother." Rose tells you, taking you off guard with her soft understanding. You pause in your haste, looking at her appreciatively as you smooth your skirt and then straighten the neckline of your dress. She is poised by the door, one hand on the knob and the other hanging limply by her side. You can quite easily predict her next words, you noted brightly, moments before her firm lips slackened.
"Actually…will you be alright? I mean, uhm, it isn't my business what relationship you had with Mr. Egbert…" she trails off, clearly uncomfortable with this subject though she'd thought to ask you anyways, perhaps out of concern for you. Her cheeks are dusted with a light blush, you notice, and her confidence has slid right off that high-held chin of hers. Like a quiet mudslide; where was that precious chocolately vision you'd fantasized earlier?
"He won't remember. And yes, it is your business—to an extent." You tell her, finally coming into your senses and stooping to secure a firm hold on your high-heels that waited by the vanity. Slipping them on expertly and righting yourself, you notice her nosey stare watching you intently. Was she hoping you'd spill the beans so she could write some damned lovecraftian horror about it?
"We weren't intimate; just shared similar interests in making the world safe for our children." You tell her, offering the sort of soft edged smile that mothers always gave their children in movies. Dotingly, you watched her as she tightened her grip on the door knob and ground her teeth in her puckered little mouth.
Though outwardly you ignored this tense dejecting attitude, inwardly your heart seized at her frostiness. Roxy had told you about how keen Rose had been to meet her 'teen mother' during the game and yet now she addressed her actual mother with the sort of cold shoulder that chips away at you. Why, you were quite certain the other Children were enthralled to be reunited with their Guardians! You foolishly imagined the picturesque reunion between Jonathan and his Guardian, thinking that Mr. Egbert was the sort of good father that had a good, grateful son.
"You know, he told me so much about Jonathon. He seems like a fine young man." You try to reconcile your differences and form some sort of ground where you could talk to her as if she didn't despise you. Though it was all very hazy, you could recall the moments when Mr. Egbert had told you about his paranormal pranks, resourcefulness, hilarious antics, and generosity. He'd even questioned you about that faithful April day when John's meteor had leveled the joke shop as well as Nanna. Despondently, you wondered if he accredited his survival to your presence that had drawn him from the doomed building.
Fidgeting with your hands in front of you and wringing them absently, you notice her hard stare as she turns the knob to, finally, open the door of the lab. She opens it widely, gesturing with a mocking sweep of the arm for you to go first. You do, not taking any of her shit seriously and instead focusing on the greater deeds which were being put forth at the moment.
You could see them all. Jonathon was standing with that Crockercorp heiress and your insufferable son. The Fathers were together, and had turned at the sound of your heels clicking on the Skaialab tile. In fact, The Children had also ceased their chatter to watch you expectantly as you made your merry way to their social grouping in the lab. Rose was following beside you though just a bit behind you as if she did not wish to be associated with you. Perhaps she just enjoyed sauntering in your shadow. Never the less, you greeted them all warmly and ignored her cold shoulder.
"Hello and welcome to the Skaianet Laboratory, creator of the distinguished Sburb and all its superlative technology—at least in my universe." You address the party collectively with a diminutive smile and open, palm-up sweep of your arms that charitably encompasses the visible aspects of the technologically advanced laboratory. Quickly, you mentally catalog and judge their reactions respectively. They're all staring at you with so many different conflicting emotions it is enough to introspectively upset you though your careful façade reveals nothing.
It was so plainly written on their faces, though you could've deciphered what laid behind their eyes effortlessly—a social skill that had saved both your career and life on more than one occasion. Ironic, seeing as your career was your life, you scoffed.
The Crocker girl was taken completely by surprise, likely astonished by your resemblance to her pal Roxy and hitherto impressed by what you possessed that Roxy yet did not. Jonathan, a true friend, wasn't gawking at you but rather had concerned-filled eyes only for Rose's well being. David was, well, was being David; no doubt thinking some inappropriate epic narrative internal monologue about your noir femme fatality.
And The Fathers—ah, The Fathers. You could certainly distinguish between the two of them, you noted impressively. Suave Mr. Crocker, true to his gentlemanly convention, reserved his stare properly and fixed his eyes quite appropriately to your face rather than your figure. If he had personally known you he would not have been so chivalrous or refined.
Which brought your attention to Mr. Egbert. He was so aware of your heavy-lidded gaze that a Cheshire grin stretched your lips when you saw him staring. He looked just the same as you'd left him, though considerably lacking the pools of blood and destination-less stare. Middle aged, tall, broad chested, and sturdy as if he hadn't gained much weight post-graduation. The prototypical father figure.
"How are you, Mr. Egbert? It has been quite some time!" you don't give yourself a moment to hesitate or flinch away from the elephant in the room. Instead you rather boldly choose to embrace it, quite literally. He doesn't know how to respond as you throw your arms around his neck casually and only puts a light hold on your waist. As you pull away smiling, you get a good look at his face; stunned. How charming.
"Ms. Lalonde! Fine, I've been—well truthfully, that is—considerably aghast at the fairy-tale I've been told." He responds, his words tripping over each other and pulling a narrowed-eyed frown from his son. Fairy-tale? He was right to find it all relatively unbelievable though you were disappointed to learn he was so adamant in his denial.
"That fairy-tale happens to be an ill-timed product of my life's work." You reply, rather tersely fixing your smile to an appropriate wattage. He's speechless for a moment as if it finally registered in his mind that you'd helped create the game that had put this all in motion. Turning from his momentary flabbergast, you offer your hand to Mr. Crocker in a professional manner he reflexively reciprocates. Though he was identical to Mr. Egbert, it said, you were not old friends.
"Mr. Crocker, what a pleasure." You say properly, shaking his hand firmly and looking him in the eyes with the sort of business-like attitude that very quickly earned his approval. As a second thought, you turn to Jane and put a hand on her cheek fondly. You figured you could win both Roxy's and Mr. Crocker's approval by getting to know Jane. Two birds, one stone.
"Jane, is it? Roxy has recounted wonderful things concerning you." She nods in confirmation, not quite sure what to say and, you thought, still somewhat overwhelmed by your presence. Ah, but she was seemed so sweet; suited for baking, encouragements, and sugary smiles.
"Same of you, Jonathon! It's fantastic to finally meet you." You turn to Mr. Egbert's son now, only getting his attention when you set your hands on his shoulders firmly. He'd been staring after Rose with a face that was composed of reassurance and strength. As his cerulean eyes flick to yours expectantly, you release him, thinking he resembled Hass Harley and Nanna very evenly.
"Just John. And yeah, it's great to meet you too. Rose has told me a little about you." He replies with a small smile and curt nod. He was not so easily trusting of you, something you accredited to his knowledge of Rose's biased accounts of you. There was a guarded corner in his eyes and a diffident intelligence about him. It was apparent to you, in that moment, why he'd truly received the denizen Typheus.
"Don't forget me, Hot Mom. I expect some maternal doting and offhand judgment too." Dave says, clearing his throat obnoxiously to warrant your attention and folding his arms across his chest in a mock display of hurt. Chuckling softly, you put a hand to his blonde shock of hair, ruffling it affectionately until he swatted your hand from his messy flaxen bird's nest.
"How could I ever, David?" you tell him, amused at the disarray you'd turned his hair into and only slightly annoyed that he'd called you 'Hot Mom'. Maybe on another occasion you could call him out on it and perhaps join his adoptive Bro for an ectobiological parental tag-team of discipline.
But now, you need to get down to business and address the monstrous cat that had been very chaotically let out of its loosely tied bag. Time to clean up the mess The Children had made. You know, adult things.