lang2_icon.gif magnes2_icon.gif odette2_icon.gif

Scene Title Fathers
Synopsis Fathers can be their daughter's heroes…
Date August 12, 2020

A gunshot rings out in a pine forest, sending bird scattering from the treetops.

There are vast stretches of wilderness in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, miles of trackless forest and overgrown townships, plenty of wilderness for a person to disappear into. An overgrown field ringed by walls of dark pines is one such space, feeling like another world entirely. The overcast sky stands a sharp white against the jagged fringe of pines, and the many birds circling overhead so many dashes of ink on paper.

Another gunshot rings out from the edge of the field, and this time a glass bottle sitting on a post-and-beam fence explodes at the same time.

Good job!

Four yards away, Joshua Lang kneels in the brown, ankle-deep grass hands steadied on the shoulders of a young girl in front of him, smile spread across his lips. The sleeves of his flannel shirt are rolled up to the elbows, even though the temperature in the air is crisp on this midsummer morning. The gunslinger standing in front of him is bundled up just a little more, in a light sweater and wool jacket just a little too big for her small frame.

But Odette Lang is not averse to the morning chill in the air, in spite of what her rosy cheeks might say.

Today was important. Even if neither of them yet realized why.

The Pine Barrens
New Jersey

August 12th
7:06 am

From a hundred yard away, the gunshot sounds small.

Even through the pine trees, Magnes Varlane can guess the caliber of the firearm based on the audible pop it makes, rather than a deep crack. It’s not something like an airsoft gun, but likely a .22 caliber. Something light, primarily used for bird hunting. It’s the kind of bullet people walk away from getting shot by, which means it’s not often used for much other than a deterrent. Today, it might as well be a signal flare.

The walk from Providence only took thirty minutes, twenty-five until Magnes found the truck the people in town told him to look for, parked at the end of the dirt trail in the woods. The gunshots were a signpost, telling him he was going in the right direction. He could follow the pair of footprints through the wet earth, winding through the woods, into a grassy clearing divided by an old wood fence, lined with bottles.

A gunshot rings out, and a bottle explodes.

Good job!

That’s when Magnes sees the little, red-haired girl in the wool coat, holding a small rifle in her hands, firing down the field at bottles on a post. The man knelt beside her, this world knows as the Butcher of Mandritsara, a killer who died by the blade in Madagascar during Operation: Apollo.

But Magnes sees none of that man in the smile he affords the little girl. A girl of two names:

Odette and Adell.

His girl.

It's difficult for Magnes to know what to expect. Will this be hostile, will Addie remember him? He comes dressed prepared, in his laceless tactical boots he still keeps from Bright, a pair of black cargo pants in case he needs supplies or tools, and a white tanktop with a black tactical vest over it. It's not his typical style, but he's far more practical these days.

He just wants his daughter back. He doesn't want to fight, but he's prepared.

There's a gun hidden somewhere on him, but he doesn't keep it anywhere visible, for him his gun is typically an anti-Trask tactic.

Or an anti-people with ice powers tactic.

"Addie?" he calls out, his gravitational field harmlessly extended around them all. For Addie it might be familiar, for Lang it might be a strange gut feeling. Magnes doesn't actually do anything, but he has a preference for dangerous people to be within his sphere of influence, just in case.

He immediately looks to Lang, and leans his hand against a tree, allowing his weight to gently push it to the side ever so slightly. This isn't him pushing a tree down, it's him showing strength, the possibility of what could happen. That, if he wanted, he could lean his entire weight on this tree. That the option exists for him.

But he stops shortly after, taking a deep breath. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but I'm her dad. I'm here to talk. I'm not here to fight, I don't want my daughter to see that."

There's a brief moment where Lang can feel a slight heaviness, which then eases up as Magnes lightly exhales.

He's not here to fight, but, once again, he's showing that the option is there, that he is showing extreme restraint, without alarming his daughter.

The girl of two names has not heard the second in— a very long time, but as soon as she does hear it, she turns and looks, dark eyes blinking and smile fading. As the smile fades, Magnes will notice holes where teeth should be, missing canines and new teeth growing in. She hadn’t started to lose teeth when Eileen had taken her— she hadn’t been old enough. She had barely been old enough to make coherent sentences. But she’d always had an affinity for stuffed animals.

And a couple of them sit nearby in the truck bed, watching. A stuffed squirrel, a stuffed pig, and a monkey in a superhero costume, with a big M on the front and a cape behind him.

Odette’s immediate reaction, though, is to step behind Lang, as if to seek the security of his protection, looking around him over at the man against the tree, her brow furrowed with confusion and unease, but at least not outright fear.

Lang’s posture is steady, a single hand coming back to rest against the side of Odette’s head in a reassuring touch. He doesn’t move away from her, anchored in that position by her presence. Lang’s nostrils flare in a deep breath, followed by a slow sigh as he lets his hand move away from his daughter.

“Y’aint,” is Lang’s definitive stance on the topic. “But I know who you are,” he says carefully, making sure not to raise his voice. Lang doesn’t relax just yet, and Magnes can see he’s warily eyeing him the way someone might a stranger in an alley. “Whatever it is you’re doin’, it ain’t welcome ‘round here.” His hand moves to Addie’s small rifle, carefully taking it from her hands by the stock, held loose at his side.

“Whatever it was Ruskin told you, it ain’t true.” Lang posits a guess.

"I don't need Eileen to tell me anything." Magnes says as he keeps his tone calm, slowly walking forward, but he stops about ten feet from them. He respects Lang's personal space, as he knows this isn't a man to test and antagonize anymore than he already has.

He instead crouches down, watching what bit of Addie he can see. "I saw her when she was born, I saw her first steps, her first word. I got her the first stuffed animals she ever made a hospital for, and watched her mother try to teach her other languages at such a young age."

"I know who you are too, but I want to think that you're different from the one that I knew of." He looks up at Lang from his crouched position, seeming as patient as he can be. "You've taken care of her, I can tell that. I'm not here to fight you, or do anything to upset you or Addie. I'm here to talk. So let's assume that what Eileen has told you about me is false, and have an honest conversation. Let's mutually respect each other for my daughter's sake, and pretend that whatever nonsense surrounds us and the people we know doesn't matter right now."

As the stranger— because to her, the man is a stranger— talks, Odette looks toward her stuffed animals with curiosity. She doesn’t remember her first words, or her first steps, or her first stuffed animals, or the first time Dr. Schwein got mistaken for that kind of doctor, but— she looks back at the man again, tilting her head to the side for a moment. Other languages. Mother.

Something about him did seem so familiar. Like the name he had called her…

“Odette,” she says after a moment, not loudly, but not soft either. Her voice isn’t much like Magnes remembers, either. Time and age had changed it too much. And so did the environment she had been living in. She had hints of Lang in her voice. Hints of others in Providence. Even hints of Eileen. “My name is Odette.” There’s a childlike insistence to the words.

Sliding his tongue across the inside of his cheek, Lang gently rests a hand at the back of Odette’s hair and gives it a gentle scruff, then looks up to Magnes. He motions with his chin toward an old, lichen-spotted picnic table not far off of the dirt trail that led here. This site was maybe a park or a campground a decade or more ago. The motion isn’t for Magnes, though, but for Odette.

“Go’n fetch a friend,” Lang says to her, implying the stuffed animals, “me’n this boy gotta talk. But we might as well all sit like civil folks.” He treats her with a remarkable amount of autonomy for her age, stepping away from her and walking to the table with the slow pace of someone leading a guest to the dining room of their home.

“She ain’t told me not word one about you, other’n that someone would come around one day, askin’ after my daughter.” Lang says in a careful, conversational tone as he reaches the table. “You wouldn’t like what she has t’say about that person.”

Lang settles down on one of the bench seats of the picnic table, resting an elbow on the tabletop and propping the small rifle up against the edge of the table. The wood is soft and old, damp with morning dew. “My girl was practically a baby when she got handed off t’me. Now look at her,” he says with a motion to Odette, “makin’ her own choices. Bein’ her own person.”

Lang looks Magnes up and down. “You ain’t introduced yourself.”

"I admit, I'm kind of used to everyone knowing who I am and immediately shooting at me for some reason." Magnes says as he follows Lang over, and takes a seat at the table. "Magnes J. Varlane." he introduces, offering a hand over. "If nothing else, I know that you aren't from this world, considering that I know what happened to the you who was."

He leans his elbows on the table, getting a good look at Lang now that they're somewhat calm. "You know, a part of me is glad that she didn't have to experience what we did in trying to get back home. I didn't want her to see the things we had to see. But having to watch her mother grieve, having to wonder if she was alive or not, never being quite sure, never knowing where she was, for years… missing all of these moments of her life…"

He has to look down at the table, to calm himself a bit. "I know that you didn't take her, so I'm not mad at you. But I spent years tearing apart the universe to get back home, kicking through the doors of time and space to get to my daughter. If she wasn't taken from me, there's a chance I might have stayed in that world, might have avoided all the awful things that happened after. Or at least, I want to think that, but I know it probably isn't true."

Looking over, he watches Odette, Addie. "I promised Elaine one thing, one thing. I promised her I'd get our daughter back, I promised her every night. I still promise her, even though she isn't here to hear it…"

He reaches into his vest, pulling out a wallet. Then goes through the photos until he pulls one out of himself, Elaine, and Addie all posing with one of her early stuffed animals for a family photo on the couch. They're all dressed very casually, including Magnes in his Dad to the Bone shirt.

This is handed over to Lang.

There’s a moment where Odette stands there, defiant in the way her legs and hands and little fists are positioned now that her weapon has been taken away, that seems like she considers not going to get her friend, but then she looks up at Lang. She doesn’t even say anything, just a nod and her body loosens as she goes run-walk-skips to where her stuffed animals had been watching.

She takes her sweet time choosing between the three, and they have a few moments to talk before she’s walking back, with the stuffed monkey in a superhero costume in her arms. Super M, and his Sidekick Superpup were the only of her animals who wore clothes (if one called capes, masks and suits clothes), and the only ones that had English names, for that matter.

But Superpup hadn’t been brought along today, just Super M. She doesn’t approach the entire distance to them, staying far enough away that she can kind of listen in, but not disturb them, even as she murmurs quietly to Super M, “I know, I know, this is a job for Senor Tortuga, but he’s busy today. Someone has to keep an eye on Hertog Vos.”

Your daughter,” Lang says out of the side of his mouth with a smile. “Maybe you ain’t followed everything clear. So I’ll line it up and spell it out. That girl over there ain’t gonna remember you. You’re a stranger.” Lang says with an incline of his head to the side.

“She got handed t’me, goin’ on three years ago now.” Lang looks over to Odette, then back to Magnes. “You got the first steps, first potty, but I raised her. That girl over there wasn’t much more’n a baby when she was handed to me.” Lang sits back a little, picking at some of the old lichen on the top of the picnic table. “But she’s grown up in my arms, livin’ under my roof. I’m the one who’s comforted her when she’s had bad dreams, bandaged her knees when she gone an’ fell. She ain’t never said your name, or anybody else’s.”

“But I get it,” Lang says with a shake of his head, “you got yourself an emotional attachment, and I’m sorry for whatever happened that put you in this situation. Ain’t nothin’ I’d ever wish on nobody. But this…” he glances at Odette, then looks back to Magnes. “You ain’t really her daddy, your a donor, if y’catch my drift. All you’d be t’her is confusin’.”

"My daughter could talk when she was with us, even if not perfectly, obviously." Magnes is doing his best to keep visibly calm, but his ability is one of those things where it's very difficult to control where he is emotionally. Lang can likely feel a heaviness around them, even if it's not enough to actually affect much of anything, it is enough to reflect the residual aura of Magnes' mood.

"I am her father, and you should very well know that I'm not leaving with that explanation, I'm not just going to leave my daughter. I'm here to talk to you, to come up with a compromise, because yes, I know this will be confusing. I know what you've done for her, I know what you must mean to her." He motions to her while looking Lang directly in the eye. "You've been in my gravitational field for a long time now, but you don't see me threatening you, you don't see me taking her away or starting a fight. It would be easy, I don't have to talk at all, but I'm not Kazimir, I'm not Eileen or whoever else. I'm here to talk to her because I love that girl, and I'm here to talk to you because this isn't your fault and I'm not cruel."

"All of these circumstances, the fact that we're talking at all, do you understand that the only way this ends is compromise? I'm not going to fight you, and I'm not going to let you fight me. Your only choice is to talk. So talk to me as if I am her father, as if you are also her father, and that is the only reality that we are going to live in and that I am going to accept." He explains as the weight of his emotions try to ease up, but they're still quite there.

It's only when he looks at Odette that he manages to calm himself somewhat, and Lang can feel that too, the lightening of the gravity around them. It's almost normal, perhaps a fraction lighter than normal when he calms himself. "We are not standing from this table until we're on the same page. Assume I'm not an asshole and that I'm not threatening to take her away from you forever. I mean assume that you don't even have to live out here and this if you don't want to. I don't know, we could be roommates or something and work this out. I'm open to ideas. All that I'm asking you, literally the only thing I'm asking you, is that you consider my feelings just as much as I'm considering yours, or else we're going to be sitting here for a long time."

“You’re right,” Odette murmurs under her breath, though what she’s responding to only she can really hear. She usually talks to her stuffed animals, it’s something that Lang was very much used to by now. It was just one of her children's quirks. Which one she had with her often changed how she would act sometimes too, and this one— this one she would carry around sometimes with the others. She rarely took him anywhere by himself. Usually he at least had his sidekick.

After a moment, she walks up to the table and puts the monkey down on top of it between them, facing Magnes. “Eileen told me I shouldn’t talk about before. That before was dangerous and people wouldn’t understand.” And she had listened, because she liked Eileen, even loved her really. The woman had been kind of a strange aunt of sorts— even if she had also been the one who showed up that day, with scary eyes and a scary voice and taken her away from the babysitter who couldn’t protect her and the other child that had been with her.

He was gone now too.

Then she looks up at Lang. “I do remember, daddy,” she says, a hint of Lang’s own accent in her voice, rather than the one she had grown up with. And she definitely sounds older than her young years. “Some. My name is Odette.” she adds in Magnes’ direction… before she looks at the Monkey, “His name is Super M— but superheroes have secret identities, you know… And his name is Magnes.”

All the calm composure that Lang had in the face of Magnes crumples like aluminum foil with the words of one tiny girl. The raw emotion in Lang’s eyes is clear as day to see, and he works his jaw open and closed behind tightly pressed lips for a few moments. He swallows, tense and dry, eyes focusing everywhere except on Magnes and his little girl.

The birds make noise in Lang’s stead, the cry of finches chirping away in the high branches. Melodic, peaceful sounds that lie within high contrast to the emotional battle being fought at a picnic table in the woods. When Lang finally looks at Odette, his glassy eyes betray the storm of emotions twisting around inside of him. He tries to speak, but a hot breath is all that escapes. Lang slides his tongue across the back of his teeth, looks to the stuffed monkey, to Odette, then back to Magnes.

“We like it here.” Lang finally says after a long, difficult silence. But as much as he wants that to be a statement of fact, it comes across with a hesitant question mark on it. “It’s peaceful here. Safe. She don’t want for nothin’ here, and she’s got a— family.” Lang’s hands clench into fists, but not out of anger. Out of some attempt at keeping composure.

The more Lang dwells on the notion that Odette remembers, that Eileen had told her to stay quiet, the harder it becomes for him to stay detached from the conversation. Lang exhales a shaky breath, then looks from his little girl to Magnes.

“Why’d you come out here?” Lang asks. But the question isn’t as simple as motivation. It’s a call for answers. Where does this end?

Magnes stares at Odette, as his rush of emotions are probably somewhere polar opposite of Lang's. But some are the same, presumably some Eileen-related animosity. And there are still other matters at hand, matters of Odette's feelings and desires.

Matters of having to figure out what yet another one of his daughters wants. Finding some middleground of her autonomy and his desires as a father.

"You're a smart girl, just like your mother." he compliments Odette with a smile, wiping his eyes as he tries to regain his own composure, and looks Lang in the eye. "I came here to get my daughter, but as I said, I didn't come here simply to take her from you. I wanted to talk to you, to talk to her. I've spent years trying to get her back, trying to find a safe way to do this. Not counting the years trying to get back to this universe. And before you ask, I am in the right universe. If I can concentrate hard enough, I can feel the vibration of the strings, the frequency."

He holds up his hand and stares at it for a long moment. "Just in case you had doubts."

But he continues. "I don't want to shake her entire life up, if she doesn't want to leave here. And I don't want to just suddenly rip her from someone who's been taking care of and raising her for years. So, if Addi— Odette wants to stay here, I'll stay here. Eileen will just have to deal with it. We'll all work this out, me and you. If she wants to leave, you're welcome to come, again, I don't just want to yank her away from you, it wouldn't be fair to either of you."

"The bottom line is, I'll go where my daughter goes." Then, looking to Odette, he asks, "What do you think, Odette? Where do you want to be? There is no wrong answer, whatever you say is the right answer."

Small hands tighten around the monkey’s body for a moment, as Odette wants to reach out and hug her daddy, but doesn’t do what she wants to immediately. Because she needs to be the hero right now, and she would do the best job that she could. Sometimes heroes had to do things they didn’t want to do. Sometimes they had to fight back tears and ignore skinned knees and—

Sometimes they had to be strong for daddies too. “I do like it here. It’s nice. Everyone’s nice. I have all my friends. They taught me how to ride horses,” she looks over at Magnes as she says that, because obviously Daddy already knows about that. “Daddy’s been teaching me how to shoot. I’m pretty good at it! I could shoot an apple off your head.” She sounds like she’s proud of that, but she doesn’t really think too much about what else guns are used for other than shooting for fun. That’s what they were for to her. “And Tara’s not so bad. She’s not…”

She trails off, for a moment, voice catching. For a moment she sounds younger again, then she looks down at the monkey as if gathering strength before she looks back at Magnes. “What happened to mommy?” she overheard some of it, but she didn’t understand it.

All the aunts and uncles and even the dad that she’d had, Odette had never once called anyone Mommy.

Because she had a mommy. A mommy she remembered. A mommy who had taught her animals names in so many languages she sometimes forgot what they were in English. A mommy who had read her stories and held her.

A mommy who wasn’t here.

Lang makes a noise when Odette starts to ask about her mother. He might not have any idea what became of that young woman, but he knows she isn’t here now and Magnes hasn’t mentioned her. Instead, Lang angles a look over at Odette. “Darlin’, that’s a Big question.” It’s a term he’d used around the house, big question. Things he can answer for her, but when he’s ready to. It isn’t quite right here, but the last thing he wants to do is pile whatever ghosts Magnes is carrying with him on top of his daughter.

To change the topic, Lang flicks a look up to Magnes. “Providence is a free town,” he insists. “But Eileen ain’t runnin’ much of anything these days. She ain’t the rooster she once was, an’ we ain’t listenin’ to her crowin’ no more.” It’s like he’d been saving up those bird similies for a moment just like this. “Let’s call her retired from the public eye. Me an’ my business partner run the show these days.”

Lang inclines his head to Magnes. “I handle the day t’day. He looks at the big picture and drinks. So if anyone’d say you ain’t welcome, it’d be me.” Lang lets that hang in the air for a moment. “But my momma taught me hospitality. An’ my daughter taught me patience.”

Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Lang looks down to the table, taps his fingertips down on it, then looks back up to Magnes. “This ain’t the city. There ain’t no police. Ain’t no rules what ain’t treat people with respect an’ mind yer own business.” He takes in a slow breath through his nose. “Y’might like it here.”

Magnes smiles at his daughter, despite the loss he feels when she asks that question. But he follows Lang's lead on it, he can see that it's the correct lead in this instance. "I'm not exactly a sharpshooter, but I can shoot too. I taught myself because when I was younger I used to rely on my ability a lot, and when you've gone on my kind of adventures, you learn that there's a lot of ways to find yourself without your ability."

"I'm glad you have a lot of friends here. Friends and family are important, they're what I consider to be the most important thing in the world. They're what make life what it is." he says directly to Odette, before shifting his gaze over to Lang.

"I have two jobs. I'm a professional wrestler and I build houses and other buildings. My ability allows me to make it pretty easy on a team when it comes to things like that. I've kind of retired from saving the world for the most part, but Odette's sister does plenty of that in my place." He flashes a smile over at Odette again. "I'm more than willing to move here and help how I can. I'm willing to follow the rules and see what you have here. And I've been saving money for Odette, I wanted to be able to take care of her."

It was a big question, and Odette notices when neither of them answer it. She makes a small face at them, something Lang has come to recognize as her stubborn face— and for a moment Magnes can definitely see Elaine in this little girl. Adel, the daughter from a far off future that would now ever happen, had always kind of looked like him. Odette, however, looked very much like her mother. Lighter features, lighter hair, the roundness of her cheeks. And that expression— it looked very much like when Elaine hadn’t gotten something that she wanted and she knew it.

But, as they kept talking, that expression faded. As if she forgets about what she was being stubborn about the further they get from the question. And when he mentions professional wrestling, she suddenly brightens, as if someone just said something funny. And maybe to her they did, cause she’s looking at the monkey again. “Super M started out as a professional wrestler! Before he became a superhero. That was his stage name. Super M. He can jump really high and he’s really tough and he can always come back from any wound!” Mostly because she learned how to sew him back together and how to throw him at things, but— a child can imagine things, right?

“Will I get to meet my sister? Is she younger than me? I don’t remember having a sister…” She thinks she heard stories about something once, but— it was so long ago, and— she remembered other people too, but not as well as mommy and the first daddy. The one mommy had sometimes called Magnes.

Without a break or pause, though, she asks another question, “Do you want to meet Dr. Schwein and Écuyer Écureuil? They’re over in the truck! And the rest of the group is at home in my room. Except Plukovník Lev, but he’s guarding the chickens.”

Whatever Lang was going to say is swallowed down when Odetta excitedly chirps at Magnes the way she does. There’s a shift in his eyes, a tension in his posture, and a work of his jaw from side to side. Lang looks down at the old picnic table, eyes distant, then looks back up to Magnes.

“Ain’t much cause for wrestlin’ out here,'' Lang notes in an attempt at humor, “but even Senator McMahon found a second job once nobody wanted to see basic wrestlin’ no more.” But he doesn’t seem satisfied with that observation, just restless. “You wanna try this out, see how this goes, there’s some folks what could use a new roof. If you wanna come down here and help, spend time with the sprout…”

Lang closes his eyes and shakes his head. His throat works up and down in a dry swallow. “Weekends?” He asks, unsure of himself. “Is’at how they do it for things like this?” Lang’s thinking of divorce, but his head’s in the right space.

"I can jump pretty high, I haven't always been able to fly. I could actually jump up to the moon but I can't breathe in space!" Magnes exaggerates with a bright smile, reaching over to gently pet Super M. "I'd love to meet them! And of course you can meet your sister, but she's older than you. She's had lots of adventures, and even saved the world a few times. Her name is Adel, Adel Lane. I guess all my daughters like to have different names. You also have an aunt, many aunts really, cousins…"

But, looking back over at Lang, he nods. "We could start with weekends. I'll try things out, and if I like it, we can transition into a bit more time, see how things work out. I've lived in far more difficult conditions than the countryside, so don't worry. And I can take care of that roof."

All the while, Odette is beaming, even if she doesn’t quite seem to fully understand everything. Or maybe she does and is just pleased that she’s getting to share this with him. “Eileen told me that I couldn’t ever tell. But she’s not in charge anymore,” she looks over at her daddy, because, well, he’s pretty much one of the ones who said she wasn’t in charge anymore. But that wasn’t really why she had made the decision to say something really. “She also told me I probably would never see you or Mommy ever again. So I understand I won’t see Mommy again.”

It’s said so suddenly.

But she does seem like she understands it, as she picks up the monkey in one hand, and takes Magnes’ hand with the other. “But I get to see you now.” That was enough, it would seem. She wouldn’t be sad. She had spent years mourning her parents in private. They had lived on in her stuffed animals.

“I get to have two daddies.” She says it with a smile, directed at both of her daddies.

Lang looks mildly uncomfortable, if only in the way a man whose never had to even contemplate this situation might. Pressing his tongue against the inside of his cheek, Lang shakes his head. “Five years ago this woulda’ gone a whole lot differently for us,” he suggests with a lift of his chin to Magnes. “Funny how time changes things, ain’t it?”

Flat of his hand pressed to the tabletop, Lang makes steady eye contact with Magnes then slowly rises to stand. “Just stay out of Iago’s hair, he ain’t much for talking or cavortin’, but he sure likes— ” he eyes Odette, then makes a face and shakes his head. “He’s an ass. But he won’t go out of his way to cause problems if you don’t. So for everybody’s sake…”

Lang leaves it at that. Walking over to Odette, Lang takes a knee and runs a hand over her coppery hair. He doesn’t say anything, just looks at her with the same confused eyes he did the day she was handed to him. As he looks back to Magnes, Lang’s expression has softened. He doesn’t say anything, just communicates uncertainty with his eyes.

Magnes finally stands, then carefully floats over the table to gently land next to Lang and Odette. He crouches down, smiling at Odette but answering Lang. "I'm aware of Iago. I know of the, well, I have some history with an Iago." But then he reaches out offering Odette his hand. "All I know right now is, everything will be fine. That much I can promise. No one around me will get hurt anymore if I can help it. That includes you now." he looks to Lang, nodding to him.

The one who seems to be taking this all in stride, seems to be Odette. She holds onto her stuffed monkey with a smile and beams up at Lang as he touches her on the head, almost as if her confidence at this situation could be contagious. And maybe she just doesn’t think it should be any differently. She’s had her whole world change so suddenly once, and travelled with them across a country to come here— she may not have travelled through a handful of worlds, like Magnes had, but she still seems to have adapted to situations in a way that only a child who had someone she could count on by her side could have.

And that had been this the daddy with his hand on her head, for a lot of it.

“I’ll protect everyone too, daddy!” she says quickly, pulling him down closer so she can whisper a secret in Lang’s ear, something for him alone to know. A secret for this daddy. Because she has one more, besides remembering things that Eileen had told her to never talk about.

“Odette’s my superhero name.”

Just like Super M.

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