Blood Is Blood


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Guest Stars:

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Scene Title Blood Is Blood
Synopsis On a trip through time to fix her own past, Gillian meets her blood relatives.
Date April 1989

Bronx - Winters' Townhouse

While the outside sky is darkening from the gray, gloomy light of a cloudy day into the black starless night, the inside of the Winters' brownstone is full of light and warmth and the squeal and giggle of two rambunctious toddlers playing with their father before dinner. The few hours that Ali and Jeffrey Winters have with their children each night before they tuck them into bed are precious ones. The television that many parents use to soothe and babysit is turned off. And even as she prepares dinner in the kitchen, Ali takes every second she can to step away from the stove and oven and gaze at her little family with love and wonder.

She leans against the doorframe that separates the kitchen from the living room to watch Brian squeal and run away from Jeff on his hands and knees, apparently playing the bad guy in whatever silly chase game the three of them have invented. Little Stephie chases Jeff from behind, swatting at him on the rear with the remnants of a baby blanket.

"Run, Bwian, run!" the tiny toddler tells her brother, and Brian does until he falls onto chubby knees, trying to roll away from whatever peril Jeff is symbolizing.

"Dinner's in fifteen minutes," Ali informs them, if the redolent scent of spaghetti — or 'gaspetti' as the toddlers call it — wafting into the living room isn't enough to announce that the meal is almost ready. "Jeff, can you get them cleaned up? Once Stephanie is through slaying you, of course."

Jeff brakes a few seconds before his pursuer is at risk of getting carried away, the way children can do. Wouldn't be right to get to actual blows, after all, but he doesn't deny the tiny girl her bit confrontation. There's an agile twist, his socks squeaking on the varnished floor, arm out, and he catches his daughter neatly around the midsection. Hoists her aloft, setting them hip to hip but peculiarly perpendicular, and bears with the resultant shrieking good humoredly. He shifts dark eyes at his wife, shutters her a quick wink that's — only a half-dozen times or so exaggerated from the thickness of his lashes. "All right, Steph.

"You remember the plan, right? Helping mommy set the table. Goooo." He sets the girl down upright, and she looks sly for an instant, exchanges knowing glances with him, even as she spins off on a patter of small feet. Her father falls into a casual lope, though he makes a point to breathe harsh through his teeth, and rumble occasionally, providing Bwian ample reason to play dead. The older man, however, keeps darting his eyes between the carefully choreographed disaster that Stephanie is making at the dining table and the tiny stretch of hallway that serves as the townhouse's foyer. He looks about as nonchalant as Mr. Burns, admittedly. Lab work, even lab work at a top-secret facility of dubious objectives, does not lend itself well to complicated subterfuges.

The giggling inside can barely be heard from the outside. The windows are made to block sound, but some of it still can be heard. The sound of happy children playing, of dinner being ready. Gillian can't help but feel a tightness in her chest as she peeks through the glass into the bright house. It's cold and dark outside, but it seems so warm and happy inside…

The beautiful mom, the laughing children, the mess that a tiny girl makes of the dinner table. From where she is, she can't see everything, but what she sees is enough. The wind tugs on the red locks of hair, quite different from the toddler that plays on the inside. But through the glass she spots the small beauty mark on the tiny girl's cheek. The same one that sits on her own. So much changes, even her name, but that stays the same…

Stepping back from the window, her foot catches a lawn gnome and knocks it over. Or perhaps the lawn gnome launched itself at her foot to announce the intruder. Either way, the lawn gnome rolls over onto it's side with a clank of plaster on rock.

"Oooh, let's wash your hands first before you set the table," Ali says with a laugh and a shake of her head in Jeff's direction. Men. She moves to pick up Stephanie from behind, lifting her to nose at her dark hair, ready to carry her into the kitchen to wash at the kitchen sink when she hears that clatter outside the door.

"Jeffrey? Can you check the front yard?" she says, softly, keeping the worry out of her voice as she looks for Brian. There's no reason to worry, no reason at all, but working in such clandestine operations as they do and the fact she has two tiny souls entrusted to her care makes it part of her nature. "Brian, come here and we'll wash up for gaspetti, all right?" she calls to the little blond boy, holding one hand out to her as she holds Steph on her hip.

Jeffrey had started edging optimistically toward the front closet. Eased it open, even, allowing Gillian the briefest view of dark recesses, an expensively glossy shopping bag with a wide, flat box poking out of the top, cloistered insecurely between heaps of shoes large and small, underneath the drapery of hanging coats. Of course, the instant his wife's voice rings out, the man straightens abruptly, pushes the closet door shut with his hip, dark brows in a knit. "Sure, honey," he says, retroactively catching up. Something like alarm changes the shape of his shoulder, brings them up in sharper edges.

He hazards a step toward the window, a long hand reaching out to brush curtain aside.

Finds himself eye to eye with his daughter, give or take a few yards of lawn grass. "Uhm," he says, blinking. "Honey, before I raise too much alarm, do you have any idea why there might be a young brunette lady massacring our gnomes with a pair of sensible shoes?"

Brunette with red dye added on, no less. But in most lights it still looks dark. The curtain getting brushed aside causes her to jump with a startled expression, like someone who got caught— well— spying througha window. Yeah, she's the best covert operative in the entire history of time travel. Lance would have done a better job, she's sure. Immediate instinct is to run for it in those sensible shoes, but she scratches faintly at her neck, as if her hair made her itch, and then gives the smallest, tentative wave.

She's supposed to be there, really.

Well, she's supposed to be inside helping set the table, but that's before she aged twenty years and travelled back in time. That wave of a hand motions toward the front door, before she moves out of sight of the window. Not to flee, but to go to the door. Now or never.

"Massacring lawn gnomes? She's clearly sent by heaven because I hate that lawn gnome. Tell someone you like fairy tales and you suddenly get the weirdest things for Christmas," Ali says, peering at the window when Jeff reveals the face behind it. "She looks harmless enough. See what she wants — maybe she's lost."

They might work for a secret company, but Ali's rather trusting. Her work is mostly scientific, done in the lab, and she has little reason to believe anyone would come to her home to harm her or her children, least of all a pretty girl. Ali carries Steph and leads Brian to the kitchen, holding the little girl first up to the sink to wash her hands, then sets Stephanie down and repeats the process with Brian. "Okay. You can finish setting the table. Brian, help your sister." They use plastic plates for a reason. She picks up the bowl of spaghetti to bring to the table behind the two toddlers, blue eyes moving to the door.
Jeffrey ssssupposes. He scratches his chin with his fingers for a moment of wry speculation, then realization darts a rueful glance back at the closet door. "All right. But," he adds this objection even as he's loping toward the door, calling over his shoulder, "you said the gnome was 'cute.' That was your word. You said my tie with the little pumpkins on it was cute, too. And," he rolls the bolt out of the front door with fingers on the brassy handle. "And the lamp. What do you mean when you say 'cute' and you don't mean 'cute?'"

Not to be paranoid or anything. Not about that, in any case. While the children are occupied with herding toward ganspetti and his wife with reordering the table, he reaches up to the decorative shelf at the side of the door, takes down the taser. Slender, black, almost the precise shape and size of a television remote, even its fleshy buttons lacking the typical crisp clicker of defensive weapons. Only the exposed silver conductivity around the activity light might lead one to wonder.

Abruptly, the Winters home hiccups wide open, exhaling a gustatory treat of savory tomato and basil scents, chicken and spice out on the girl outside. "May I help you, miss?"

Paranoia is something that they have in common, but Gillian doesn't know how much of her plan will work— she doesn't have training of her parents. She's never done a covert mission successfully before. And all she has with her is the bag that hangs around her shoulder and across her chest, resting against her back. As soon as the door opens, she looks startled and swings the bag around, to reach inside and pull out a piece of paper. "Hi— is this the Winters' residence? I— I got the address right, right?"

On one side is a photocopied ad from a newspaper, an ad that they ran not too long ago. High contrast, as if photocopied. Or printed out from microfilm. Only it doesn't actually give the address, so much as a phone number to call, the address is written on opposite side, in a gentle scrawl of pencil Her voice sounds hoarse, raspy, almost as if she nearly has a cold, but doesn't quite make all the words sound off. Starts and stops sound the roughest. "I'm Gillian Chevalier— When I said I was coming moving to New York, I was told that I have family here, and that they might be able to help me. Great Aunt Stephanie's daughter… um… Alison?" Chevalier, her mother's maiden name. Stephanie, her birth name, and the name of her grandmother. It's the only information that she has to go off, but maybe, just maybe…

The dinner laid out on the table, Alison steps closer to peer at the girl at the door, glancing back to make sure her children aren't too close. She is a little more trusting than her husband with his taser, but she's still a mother. Her head tilts curiously as she hears the family names. "I'm Alison," she admits, before her husband can speak for her. "Who are your parents? I don't … I don't remember a Gillian in the family, but we're a bit spread out…" a child of one of her cousins, none of whom she's talked to in too many years?

The little girl with the name of Alison's mother comes to peek around from behind her mother's legs. "I'm Steffie!" she declares proudly. "That's Bwian." She points a chubby finger at the towhdead boy who has climbed into one of the dining room chairs and has his hand in the noodle bowl.

Turning his head to look fondly over his wife and daughter, Jeffrey does a minor double-take at the sight of his son elbow-deep in pasta. That wasn't precisely the plan. His eyebrows hook upward slightly, and he makes eye-gestures at his wife, before turning back to study the young woman at the door, studying her hair, the severe shape of her jaw, the dark clarity of her eyes.

"Ali, she looks just like you," he says, after a moment, and then there's a smile, genial, white. "Are you Bethany's daughter? She surprised us all with the Christmas card the end of last year. Nobody expected the wild child to have had one of her own, but," that explains the hair, perhaps, his eyes shifting back to the vibrance of the locks hanging down Gillian's shoulders. Perhaps it also explains the girl's use of his wife's maiden name. Or perhaps it explains nothing at all. He offers a hand.

The myriad of emotions is almost too much for the knot in the back of her head, but Gillian takes special care to make sure it's intact. The knot holding back her ability is the reason she's here. Looking at the tiny version of her, so innocent and direct, she can't help but smile, and then color at the words, and the save thanks to her dad.

"I was told we looked alike— though you have blue eyes," she says with an awkward gesture at the eyes, still holding the printed off ad. Her own eyes are closer to brown, though with a little hazel. The lightness of her hair helps make them look lighter. Notcing the wavering piece of paper again, she continues, "I saw the ad, too, and since you were looking for a babysitter and I need some place to crash for a little while, I thought I could offer— I can stay in a hotel too, but, that's where paid for babysitting would come in too."

Switching the fragile piece of paper into her other hand, she reaches out to accept the offered hand, her own hands warmer than they should be, nervous.

"Brian," Ali intones in her no-nonsense voice that is firm but loving, and Brian giggles before sliding down from the table and coming to peer at Gillian from the other side of behind his mother's legs.

"Her hair's like fi-wer," he says, peering over at Stephanie to see if his sister agrees. She's better at colors and things than he is, after all.

"Yes, it sort of is, Brian, that's a lovely simile," Ali says with a smile, moving closer to the door and reaching for Gillian, clearly to give her surprise relative a hug, if the girl is willing. "We have them at a daycare right now, but a live-in would be a better solution, on all counts. Do you have any babysitting experience? I mean, it's not like with a stranger, where we need tons of references, bloodwork, fingerprinting…" Her blue eyes sparkle at her own jokes as she holds out her arms to Gillian, not realizing the strange paradox unfolding before her, that the woman in front of her is the same person as the tiny version behind her.

Jeffrey watches the women converge with a faint sense of apartness, but he's at no point, ever, really far away. The 'remote control' in his hand swings sinewily from his wrist, carefully angled away from his family, even as he gives Gillian's hand a squeeze and recedes. His intentions are twofold, naturally. Babysitters are his wife's dominion, even if he's — literally the one holding the taser, and he cedes it to her. At the same time, however, he's shuffling nonchalantly toward the closet again, gaps it open. The noisome bump and click of the taser against the closet's wall is for Ali's benefit, allowing her to suppose that he's merely putting the dangerous Company toys awayyyy, high and out of children's reach.

However, the furtive nip of his fingers around the bag's strings obviously are oriented toward a different goal altogether. Misinformation. Unmistakably, the bag's presiding logo, GUCCI, draws Gillian's eye, even as the man is making off with it, giving both the faux-redhead a wink as well as her younger analogue a chummy thumbs-up. Diversions, go.

The paradox isn't lost on Gillian. Shouldn't she be passing out now? That's what Back To The Future said. But no, she's still upright. All that the bloodwork and fingerprinting would find is that she's got fingerprints and bloodwork nearly identical to the tiny girl that she wants to babysit. The open arms make her eyes close, a diversion in and of itself, as she leans into the hug in a way that doesn't seem like a stranger at all. "I've worked with kids before, at volenteered at an orphange for a while, but most the kids were older than— than yours, seven and above." The truth comes easier than the lies. "Hi," she says with a wave at both the kids, smiling a bit at Brian and his silliness, and her younger self. At least she gets to use her own name right now.

A glance as the man makes off with the bag, she even opens her mouth a bit as if to say something. But— Instead she just offers, "I may not be here for very long— a few days, maybe a week, but it could give you some time to find a full term one, so you don't have to pay for daycare. And— I probably should have stopped in early, but I got dropped off at a late hour." Thanks time traveller.

"Beth had a kid — this is so weird. She was one of the bra burners, from what they told me," Ali says with a laugh, as she leans into the hug that does seem familiar in a strange way. But family is like that, even family you never knew you had. "Come on in, Gillian. We're about to eat dinner, and I hope you don't mind spaghetti noodles that have been fondled by a toddler, because that's what's for dinner tonight. His hands were just cleaned. I can make a new batch, if you like, though."

She gestures toward the dining room table, and Brian tugs on Gillian's pants to show him his clean fingers. "See, they're cwean," he announces proudly, before looking at his mother as Ali disappears into the kitchen to grab another place setting. "What's a bwa?"

Suddenly: Jeffrey, trotting back in from a completely different part of the house, but that isn't altogether suspicious. The bedroom area remains quiet and visibly undisturbed behind him, anyway. "'Bra burners?'" the man is saying, even as he stoops to remove Brian from stubby-arms'-radius of sensitive objects, including food, belt loops, et cetera. From their new vantage point, Brian and Jeffrey beam down at Gillian. "I don't know anybody who says 'bra burner.' Must be from your side of the family. Bathroom's through there— you can wash your hands using either the ducky soap or the gardenia stuff.

"Whichever one you want. The ducky," he clarifies, hitching Brian up higher on his hip, "doesn't actually smell like ducks. He wanted his own dispenser." There's a rueful shrug, the kind of genial, caretaker's humor that a father expects to be able to share with a potential sitter. Or family. "So this must be like— Pay It Forward, eh? You give your time to orphanages, and then the kindness of relative strangers comes in full force. Karma."

"Feminism is just an independance thing, really," Gillian says, hoping that they don't suddenly try to call up this 'mom' of hers. At least not until she's had a chance to do what she came to do. While she moves, she raises her hand up, and the tattoo on her wrist is visible, as is the fainter scarring on the other one.

"I'm a bit of a wild child myself, but I'll try not to be a bad influence while I'm here." Though between the tattoo of a yin/yang with tribal markings on her wrist, and the freshly tattooed, still red butterfly just visible on her ankle as she walks, and the fiery red hair, she may have the bad influence down already.

"I've always wanted to believe in good karma, but it usually doesn't work out that way— maybe it will this time." Her tone is genuinely hopeful, as she smiles up at the small version of her twin brother. "You like ducks? I'll have to remember that. And thanks… um… Alison? Second Cou— I never quite get the whole relation thing right." Mom. But she can't say that. "The noddles sound fine— It's probably cleaner than the food I'd get at a road side diner." And when she makes it to the bathroom, she does wash her hands with the ducky soap— and spend a little too long staring into the mirror at herself.

Ali shoots her husband an amused look at the ignorance of 'bra burners,' then lifts a brow at the inked designs on her newfound cousin's arms, though she doesn't pass judgment as she sets one more place at the table and pours milk into the sippy cups for the two toddlers.

When the young woman heads into the bathroom, she glances at Jeff. "She seems nice enough, but I don't know anything about her. Beth's the oldest of the cousins — she was grown when I was just a kid, so I don't know almost anything about her. I'll have to call tomorrow and find out what I can. She seems sweet, but who knows what issues there may have been. She seems like a bit of a rebel, but then Bethany might have encouraged that." In 1989, tattoos are hardly as mainstream as they are in 2010.

Ali turns to lift Stephanie into her booster seat at one end of the table, strapping her in as the girl reaches for her pink sippy cup. "She has a pretty flutterby on her ankle," Steph proclaims. "Can I have one?"

"No," is her mother's terse reply.

"All right, all right," Jeffrey joggles little Brian on his hip, as if he's soothing the child from anxiety. In truth, it's his own nervous tick, runoff tension that the boy merely finds rather fun, judging from the squeak of pleasure and clasp of fat arms around his neck. "All right, so… she'll need some training, and you'll want to get to know her. But I think we should give her a chance. There's nothing," a beat. This is not exactly high-order, specialized Company terminology, "funny in the house, anyway.

"I know my dad could use a couple lessons in tact, but he was right about the Chevalier clan, you know? We barely ever see any of your family." Long strides take both him and the smaller man of the house toward the dining table, and he fits the boy into the low-level booster upon the chair, pausing to ruffle his fingers through the pale of the child's hair. "I'm not gonna make any huge generalizations about 'setting an example for the kids,' but." He gently tugs Brian's hand back from the pasta bowl. "We want them to know family's important, right?

"Blood can't pull that off by itself. Call, definitely call," he nods, and makes a half-hearted attempt to fit a fork handle into Brian's starfish hand, "but let's not have that hovering over dinner the whole night, eh? And maybe we should ask her first."

It takes a few moments, giving them plenty of time to talk amongst themselves, before Gillian reappears, water splashed on her face to wash away some of the make up and tears that she doesn't want them to know she shed in the bathroom. She managed to hold it in until she was alone, but looking at herself, seeing her mother more than ever… They came.

"The food smells great, way better than I can make," she adds with a dimpled smile, much like her smaller counterpart. Even if the smile seems softened by her eyes, and the mix of emotions there. So many emotions.

"So you're Brian and Stephanie, I'm Gillian, but you can call me Gilly or Gillybean— or anything of the sort. I also went by Jitterbug for a while," she says to the two kids, laughing as she mentions her internet handle. "Do you need me to do anything?" she asks the adults, those in charge.

Ali smiles and moves closer to Jeffrey after both children are strapped in for the rollercoaster that is family dinner, and she kisses his cheek softly, one hand moving up to stroke his dark hair. "Your family is more than enough for both of us," she says lightly, before stepping back when Gillian re-enters the room.

"Nope. It's all ready to go," the blue-eyed brunette says brightly, nodding to the extra place setting and taking her own seat. "It's pretty simple fare, but we weren't expecting distinguished guests of honor, were we, Brian and Steph? Otherwise you might have gotten the fancy food meant for special occasions — chicken stars and tater tots." She begins to serve up plates of pasta, passing the first to Gillian as their guest, the next to the children but setting them aside to cool for a few moments.

"So we have a spare bedroom. We'd be happy for you to spend the night here, rather than to waste the money on a hotel room. I mean, you're family. It'd be silly for you to go to a hotel, when we have the room," she murmurs, passing another plate to her husband and then serving herself last. "What brings you to town for such a short amount of time?"

Jeffrey installs Stephanie in a chair, and then reinstalls her when she starts looking sly, trapping her tiny shoulders with his hands. "You can sit next to our guest next time," he tells the younger girl with a warning lift of his brow, even as he turns, starts to move to the head of the table. He pulls it back and settles himself into it, long legs folding underneath the table with the tidiness of a man who is far too accustomed to sitting at desks. He pauses to bend his head side to side, relieving some faint crick of tension.

There's a bit of tension.

Though preceding the interrogation with the invitation to stay the night was lovely. "It's uncanny," he notes, only a little bit exaggeratedly, peering between the two older females at the table. "At this angle, especially. 'Ey, honey?" he peaks his brows at Ali meaningfully, before accepting the blop of spaghetti, a thorough slathering of sauce, taking up his fork. "It's true. We thought the Chevaliers had all retreated from the East Coast, and headed over to the Pacific for tie-died shirts and," he blinks at Gillian's inner-wrist, "art, and things."

With the bag securely draped over her lap, Gillian toys with her hair for a moment as she looks down, tilted away because of the scrutiny. The resemblance is something that Chesterfield had commented on, and— perhaps the embarassment will mask the length of time it takes to answer the inquiry.

"I guess you could say I'm persuing a dream? I just needed to get away for a bit, far away from my current life." And what's further away than twenty years in the past? It's the truth, but there's a tentative sound to her voice, as if she's trying to think of something better at the same time.

"And you have really dark eyelashes," she comments, settling her eyes on eyes that any ex-goth would envy.

Now that the sauce has cooled enough for the fingers that will inevitably make it onto their plates, Alison pushes the plates toward the two toddlers, then passes out the garlic bread kept well out of their reach. Salad is doled out last, and Ali just shakes her head with a chuckle at her husbands playful jabs at her side of the family.

She snorts just a little at the comment on Jeffrey's lashes. "Aren't they ridiculous? I waste so much money on mascara, and he looks like a china doll," Ali says teasingly.

"Dolly!" Stephanie says brightly, and Brian finds that hilarious, dissolving into a fit of giggles just as he takes a swallow of milk. The milk bubbles that come through his nose are apparently expected, as Ali is already reaching for a napkin to blot at the boy's face as it happens.

"Welcome to dinner with twin toddlers. You sure you want to stay?"

"They can be a handful," Jeffrey concurs, mopping away the edge of sauce from the corner of his mouth. He had hastened to finish his bite, but hadn't succeeded before the conversation switched topics, with little chipmunky comments from the peanut gallery. Punks. He glances at the children, wags the handle of his fork warning, before clearing his throat. "The kids, I mean. Although the statement can apply to my eyelashes, too. Even my mother has short ones.

"Must be my superpower, I'm told." Back in 1989, there was nothing to those kinds of jokes at all, even if your secret research was oriented with paranoid precision around that particular objective. Jeff doesn't even blink his stupendous eyelashes. "What's wrong with your current life?" he asks, and no doubt, Ali appreciates the neutrality that dissolves more blandly into his voice. He makes no offers, not yet. It's an inoffensive, utilitarian sort of caution. "Do you need help?"

And Gillian's barely gotten a small mouthful, by the time she stops to smile at the handful of kids, her dad's secret super power, and the question that she has to answer. "I'd say everything is wrong with my current life, but I'm sure I'm biased." And perhaps the scarring on her left wrist would give a hint of why she chose to do the travelling now. A long stay in a hospital should have followed such damage. Or it would have, if not for the healing handprint hidden under her top.

"But this is help enough— but I can tell you more later." There's a glance at the kids as if to add on, after the kids go to bed. She has lived with kids in the orphanage long enough to know better than to say it outloud.

"And I want to stay— definitely." Part of her can't imagine going back.

Ali's blue eyes drop to the wrist, now that she's in a better position to see it, and her brows knit together in worry and concern for this younger relation. Blood is blood, and she certainly would want a family member to help her children, were they ever in some sort of emotional crisis. "Of course," she nods, at the mention of later, and she looks at her husband with gratitude for his gentle compassion to what amounts to a stranger.

"Eat up, and there's plenty for seconds, even if Brian can't keep his fingers out of the noodle bowl," she says lightly, handing both the toddlers another piece of bread, seeing that they've finished their first.

Bread certainly is delicious, according to the dinosaur-proportioned bite Jeff takes out of his own piece, concurring with Brian's silent (muffled; he's trying) review of the repast. He pauses to swipe some sauce up with the bitten end of his own, and shifts his eyes back to Gillian. There's a distinct shadow of concern behind his eyes. Of course, it doesn't say that much that she hasn't asked for money, or criticized her mother, but all the same…

"There's also dessert." He concludes with a blink, a smile that goes on like an incandescent lightbulb, wattage enough to light up the table. The next instant, he realizes his error, winces apologetically at his wife when Brian flings noodle-wreathed fingers ceilingward and says something, presumably, about chocolate pudding. The syllable count and some of the consonants are similar.

"You're going to grow up to be a big trouble maker, I can just tell— your parents will be grateful they don't have a dozen of you," Gillian says, grinning with a more gentle smile than she'd had before. The toddler reminds her of her brother, as she first knew him. The one that wore a suit, had brainwashing to make him stronger and more soldier-like— he wasn't quite as childish and happy. But it had still been there. Sometimes. In his eyes, in the way he was with the kids.

"Thank you— it means a lot to me. To be able to come here and meet you and…" she trails off, strain visible in her voice, before she adds. "Sorry about the gnome, though. Hopefully I didn't break it."

"And that is why we have spaghetti stains on the ceiling," Ali says, raising blue eyes to the ceiling and then down to her son, smiling fondly. "And no, two at once is quite enough, though I can't imagine only one, to be honest." She reaches to her other side to pick up Steph's cup before it topples off the table.

"I'll get the pudding, and then we'll get these two put to B-E-D, and we can talk." She stands up to, setting her own napkin on the table and heading into the kitchen to retrieve the chocolate pudding — made from a box and whole milk, rather than bought in plastic containers in the dairy aisle — to bring to the table.

Mind you, getting the two put to B-E-D is a far longer process than those three letters spelled out might lead one to think. Jeffrey and his wife take turns switching off, and as a consequence, the two women are left dominion over the living room for at least a few minutes while there are hiccuping cries and a substantial amount of whining and a vague effort at reading bedtime stories before Stephanie's insistence she can do one better one by adding alligators to it! There is an inexplicable sound of ripping, a boy-voiced 'uh oh!' and Jeffrey insists, long-distance, through the muffling thickness of the door, "Everything is completely— completely fine!" before his voice diminishes into flustered whispering between the pitchy giggles of the children.

Around Gillian, there's a lamp designed to look like a leg, and the old, old couch is a conservative shade of blue, but the throw over it looks like it might have come from Malaysia, or something. Science posters on the wall; some of them simplified and cartoony for children. Things with stories behind them, a childhood that the young augmentor wasn't allowed to experience to its fullest. To explain how the lack changed everything is to be a monumental task, indeed.

A childhood denied her, due to the very science on those walls. The less kidified versions, at least. "It's nice," Gillian says softly from her seat on the couch, next to the leg-lamp that earns a curious look. What strange possessions. But then maybe her parents were eccentric. It would certainly explain her quirks, and Brian's. "Hearing them— they have good life here. Not that my childhood was complete crap or anything, but— it wasn't like this."

It didn't help she'd always felt like an outsider in her own family— and she had to wonder if it was because her parents had known she wasn't theirs. Blood may not change some things, but it does change others…

"And I really do see that we look alike. It's… nice." In another time she might have thought it was creepy, but right now…

"Would it be okay if I get washed up before we talk. I— have a lot to tell." More than they know.

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