Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Come on an adventure in the Marvel Universe. Your character could be a superhero, regular person, or a wacky alien...Basically, anything else that exists in that 'verse.
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Monkey Kitty
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Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

George Collins

"Daddy, push me on the swing!" Annie called out to him.

George smiled; at least one person had settled in here easily. To him, everything still felt strange and... alien. An ironic word choice, perhaps. But he had never lived in a place like this, a neighborhood of tidy houses and neat rows of trees. It was nice to have a park at the center, with a playground and a pond. Annie loved the park. Even Mia, half-napping in her baby carrier, seemed to be enjoying the outdoor air.

Annie raced around the swing set, but took the corner too fast and took a tumble. She sniffled and tears rose in her eyes as she pointed to her scraped knee.

In a second, George was by her side, examining the injury. It wasn't bad - an ordinary childhood mishap that could be handled with a bandage and some reassurance - but it had broken the skin, and a few droplets of blood had risen to the surface.

"It's going to be okay, Annie," George said, kissing the top of her head as he pulled a tissue out of his pocket and used it to wipe the blood and mulch chips away from the minor wound. At the same time, though, he glanced around to see if anyone had noticed what had happened.

If anyone had seen the color of Annie's blood...
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Quaxo9
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Rhiannon McIvor

It was a lovely day, in spite of it all. This dimension was so very like their own. Really, she had no complaints about it other than the fact it wasn't their own. It was upsetting for the kids to suddenly be pulled away from their school and their friends.

And she'd been so hoping to give them a regular upbringing.

Fine job she was doing of it. Broken home. Moving twice in as many years. And the things she was keeping from them every single day.

Rhiannon smiled at the sound of the young girl's voice begging to be pushed just that little bit higher. Children were always seeking the edges of their boundaries. It was good. Healthy. Her eyes lifted from her book to gaze past the swingset to where her sister was playing one-on-one soccer with her daughter. Ewan stood on the imaginary sidelines and cheered for both sides. So like him to be supportive, no matter who was playing.

The little girl cried out and her attention was immediately drawn to the sound. A mother's concern. She'd half-risen and pulled out a bottle of water of her bag before realizing that the child's father was already attending to her. Of course. Well, it didn't look like it was a bad scrape...oh. Rhiannon blinked twice before realizing that the man was looking at her.

It was hard to explain why she suddenly felt so relieved. Perhaps...perhaps it was because it was nice to know that they weren't alone. Certainly, S.H.E.I.L.D. had informed them that there were 'mutants' in this dimension as opposed to 'metas' where they were from, but somehow she thought that maybe here it was different. Until just now. Now she felt more at home here than she expected.

The man now seemed a bit concerned and she chided herself for being rude as much as she internally panicked about her first conversation in this place outside of the secret service agents they'd met upon arrival. She smiled, popped her book in her bag and approached them. When she got close enough, she extended her hand in greeting.

"Hello. We're new to the neighbourhood. My name is Rhiannon. Please, don't worry about...anything. It's nice to know that this is a diverse neighbourhood."
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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George Collins

George was caught off balance when the woman approached him, and looked almost guilty.

"George. Uh. Is my name. George Collins."

It was getting easier. He was getting more used to it. It was starting to feel like his name, not a disguise.

"My daughters are Annie and Mia."

George told himself that he could relax a little. This woman had to know - otherwise she wouldn't have said the neighborhood was more 'diverse' for the presence of a middle-aged white guy. That was good. It didn't mean he could abandon all caution, though. Even someone like him who was similarly on the outside of conventional human society looking in might prove a complication in his own circumstances. Did she even know about the war? If so, which side was she assuming she was looking at? Either side could mean danger.

He shook her offered hand.

"Nice to meet you. We're new here too. We needed... a fresh start. What brings you here, if you don't mind my asking? Same thing?"
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Quaxo9
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Rhiannon McIvor

She bent low to say hello to both the girls, smiling as she did so, and took an appropriate amount of time to admire the one sleeping in her carrier.

"They are beautiful." Realizing she'd been a little exclusive in her own introduction, she lifted a hand to gesture in the direction of the open field. "My children are over there - Charis and Ewan - and my sister, Cait."

Cait had seen her talking with George and clearly had an eye on the situation, despite continuing to handle the ball and give Charis a good workout. Always the watchful one. Always the protector. She supposed some things would never change.

Bringing herself back to the conversation, she laughed lightly in response. "Oh, I'm not certain what your circumstances are, Mr. Collins, but ours is perhaps a bit odd. We, well, we didn't quite arrive here by choice. We are simply here to stay safe and out of the way until we can go home."

She hoped that was suitably vague enough for government work while not being too weirdly evasive for conversation with a newly-met neighbour.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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George Collins

George glanced over in the direction Rhiannon indicated. Seeing Cait watching him, he smiled and gave her a little wave.

Truth be told, he was a little envious that Rhiannon had a sister for company. George loved his daughters - loved them very much - but sometimes he longed for the company of another adult, just to talk to. It could be hard not to feel a little lonely when most of your conversation at home was with a three-year-old or a one-sided 'chat' with a baby.

"Please, call me George," he said. He wasn't quite sure how to explain his situation. Did he have to repeat his cover story? Or was it safe to talk openly to someone who might be in the same boat? His fingers awkwardly twisted at his wedding band - a ring that had no mate, as he had never actually been married.

S.H.I.E.L.D. had insisted on that particular ruse, though. George understood why. It was better not to have anyone questioning the girls' origins, and the best way to ensure that was to portray himself as their biological father. Which required a biological mother. He didn't mind that part.

What he minded was pretending to be a widower. It inspired sympathy he didn't deserve; it took advantage of people's good nature via unwarranted pity. He had pushed to be 'divorced' rather than 'widowed.' A story that wouldn't tug so much on the heartstrings. S.H.I.E.L.D. had pointed out that if someone tried to check out George's story, though, it was a lot simpler to fake a death certificate than a living ex. George couldn't really argue with that. So a fake widower he was.

"That seems... sort of like us," he admitted. "Only I'm not sure we really have a home to go to at this point. I'm not sure how temporary it is. It's nice to meet some new neighbors."

Eager to prolong the conversation, just for the sake of having one, but trying to steer away from dangerous subjects, he said, "I haven't met many of the other neighbors yet. Do you know what they're like?"
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Quaxo9
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Rhiannon McIvor

She watched him play with his ring, wondering if he knew he had a nervous tic. Why precisely George was so nervous, though, seemed to be remaining a mystery as he switched topics from 'the before' to 'the now'. At least, it seemed like he might be under the same sort of non-disclosure clause that they were, and if that were the case she could certainly forgive the mutual dancing around the awkward topic. Rhiannon's smile hadn't dipped since their conversation began, though as she began speaking a shadow crept into her features.

"No, actually I don't. We just got here...last week? And we've been rather busy with paperwork and such. The children aren't even enrolled in school yet. I don't know how long to let that go - I don't know how long we should plan to be here. On one hand, I certainly don't mind homeschooling them and not having too many connections here would probably be easier on them once we go back, but I worry that they'll fall behind in...other ways."

Her point was accentuated by a sudden outburst from the green. Her sister had just tripped her daughter in order to score an imaginary goal and Charis was having none of it. Cait was protesting with equal vehemence - ridiculous as she most certainly had done it on purpose. She'd have thought that her sister might have gained some maturity...now she was going to cause a fuss in the neighbourhood in front of someone she'd only just met and who knows how many others were watching through the windows.

Rhys realized a little too late that she'd stopped speaking and was scowling across the expanse at her sister who continued to taunt the child who was now attempting to fight her with some form of martial arts. She knew Cait could see her - why she continued with her atrocious behaviour was beyond her. Though, speaking of atrocious behaviour...

"Oh, please forgive me, George. I...ah...my sister does not always bring out the best in my children, I admit. Still, I should not have become distracted. What about you and your family? Have you been here long? Is your wife at home? Work?"
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

George Collins

George nodded sympathetically. He'd been having similar misgivings about how settled he should become here - of course, with his daughters being much younger, the specific considerations were different, but the basic questions were the same. How much connection should you seek in a place that might be temporary? Would putting down roots do more harm than good?

These usual unanswered questions were put out of his mind by what seemed like rather odd behavior from Cait. Rhiannon's sister seemed to be acting more like one of the kids than a mature aunt, which surprised him a little from an adult woman.

Not that it was any of his business, though, and it was quickly displaced by Rhiannon's question.

George flushed. "Oh. No. My... my wife. She. Uh. She died."

He looked away, embarrassed to be repeating the lie. George understood why S.H.I.E.L.D. had instructed him as they did, but he couldn't manage to deliver the cover story naturally. The death of a spouse would be such a painful loss - it was hard for George to use such a devastating event as a mere convenience, and his discomfort was all too obvious.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Marshal Knox

"I should go bring in the paper," Marshal said aloud to the empty living room. His voice echoed oddly - the house was much too big for one person, and he barely had any furniture to dampen the sound waves. He wished S.H.I.E.L.D. had assigned him a roommate or something. Or at least given him a reasonably sized space for someone who lived alone.

He didn't think he'd remembered to bring in the paper yesterday, either. When he got to the porch, though, he saw not one or two but rather eight crisp newspapers piled up.

Had it really been eight days since he'd gone outside? He couldn't remember for sure.

As he unfolded one of the papers at random, Marshal noticed some parents and kids playing in the park. He watched them for a moment - mostly out of curiosity, like a zoo visitor observing some exotic animal far removed from his own life - then remembered what S.H.I.E.L.D. had said, and hastily turned to go back inside.

You can't go near kids, Marshal. What if you get angry? What if you snap again? You could hurt them. Stay away from them.

Marshal certainly didn't want that. He awkwardly balanced the papers in his arms - he wasn't very drunk right now. He'd dump the outdated newspapers in the recycling bin, then go pour another whiskey.

He was careful not to look back at the families in the park. They certainly looked happier than he was, and wouldn't benefit from his morose presence anyway. He, on the other hand, would benefit from another drink and a handful of pills. It was afternoon yet, but with luck he could knock himself out long enough to sleep through the night into the next morning.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Rhiannon McIvor

She wasn't sure what she'd expected for an answer, but whatever that was certainly wasn't it. She'd assumed the topic was safe with the way he was playing with his ring...though she aught to have noticed that there was no tell-tale indent or tan line around it. No wonder he was fiddling with it - he wasn't accustomed to it. That small detail coupled with his embarrassment suggested that he wasn't being truthful. However, she sensed no wilful deception about him either - it was a simple leap to take to assume that the circumstances around the very obvious fib he'd just told was as a result of instruction by the same people who put her family here. Government, it seemed, was very similar no matter what dimension you were in.

"I am sorry to have pried, George, forgive me." She paused, then added, "And I hope you'll also forgive the further intrusion. I...you haven't been married, have you?"

Rhiannon held up a hand in a soothing gesture, "I don't need to know details, it's quite alright. I assume you have things you aren't supposed to say to anyone else either - same as us - but...if you do need to talk, our door will always be open to you and your family."

She stopped just short of offering to coach him on the delivery of his cover story. Fortunately for George, he wasn't speaking with Cait.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

George Collins

George looked shocked, then blushed crimson... then looked relieved.

He was so tired of lying. About everything. About even his own name. Yes, honesty was a risk. But Rhiannon seemed to be in the same boat, so she seemed as safe a bet as could be hoped, and if he couldn't be honest with somebody, he was going to crack.

"You're right," he said. "Sorry. About the deception. But the people who brought me here... brought you here too, I assume... said this had to be done to keep us safe. I don't like it. The idea of losing a spouse - it's nothing to be taken lightly. I get why that's the story they want me to tell, though. Pretty hard to fake an ex, but easier to fake a dead mother for the girls. That was really the point. It was about protecting them."
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