Sunshine Daydreams

I had a lot of fun with this prompt.  Just imagining the situation my character finds himself in was fun.  At the same time, I could totally see it happening.

Prompt: Sparkle

“Uncle?”

Marian looked up from his newspaper and hid a smile.  Camelia was wearing one of her party dresses.  It made sense.  After all, she was having a party.  However, it still caught him a bit off guard.  “Yes, Camelia,” he said, his voice soft.

When she hesitated, he folded the newspaper and set it aside.  “Is there something wrong?” he asked.  He glanced at the clock.  Her friends would probably be arriving in about thirty minutes.  He frowned at her.  “You’re not worried because they’re not here yet, are you?”

“No,” she said, flushing.  She gave him a weak smile.  “It’s early yet, but… I wondered if you might… like to join us.”

For a moment, Marian just stared at her.  The last couple months hadn’t been easy for either of them.  Marian knew that he wasn’t the ideal father figure.  He could be scary at times, especially to a little girl.  He also tended to be horribly overprotective.

He was trained to protect people.  That didn’t always mean that whoever he had been assigned to protect got to do what they wanted.  In fact, it was often quite the opposite.  When his niece wanted to do things, he treated her the way he did people he had protected in the past.  He assessed the situation and, too often deemed it too dangerous.

It had led to arguments.  Why couldn’t she go to the soda fountain with her friends?  Why did she need to stay close by him when they were in public?  Worse, too often, he couldn’t find a reason beyond, “because I said so”.

So, when Camelia asked him if she could have the other girls in her class over for a tea party, he couldn’t say no.  She would be in their backyard.  He could watch her from the kitchen window.  What could be safer?

This, however, was something he hadn’t anticipated.  He was torn from his reverie when Camelia flushed and shook her head.  “You don’t have to,” she said, a bit too quickly.  “I just figured that – that it…”

“I’d love to come,” he said, smiling.  Her eyes widened and, for the first time in quite a while, she smiled at him.  He gave a nervous chuckle and stood.  “Let me get changed,” he said.

By the time her friends were arriving, he was ready to join them.  He couldn’t help but chuckle at the girls – none of them older than twelve – arriving at his home dressed in their Sunday best, which hats and gloves and jewelry.  “They look so grown up,” he murmured at Gilbert.

Chuckling softly, Gilbert nodded.  He waved at Gretchen and said, “Have fun, sweetie.”  As she nodded and scampered out to the garden with Camelia, he turned to Marian.  “What are you going to do?”

“Camelia invited me to join them,” he said, shrugging.

Gilbert grinned and nodded.  “Have fun with that,” he said.  “I’m taking the boys out for ice cream, in the meantime.”

Felicja arrived at that moment with Zofia, also dressed in a lovely party dress.  “Henryk’s looking forward to that nearly as much as she’s been looking forward to their tea party,” she said.  Giving Marian a playful wink, she said, “Have fun, Marian.”

Marian nodded and offered Zofia his arm.  “The other girls are in the garden,” he said.  When she blushed, he added, “I’ll show you the way.”

“All right,” she said, taking his arm.  She waved absently at her mother as she and Gilbert left with the boys.

Outside, Marian was confronted with the reality of attending a tea party with four pre-teen girls.  They had their dolls in their laps.  Their gowns and jewelry seemed to twinkle in the sunlit garden.  There were sugar sprinkles on their cupcakes.  Even the teapot seemed to shine.  He’d never seen anything so sparkly in his life, but there was no escaping now.

He straightened and then poured tea for each of the girls.  Then, he took a seat between Camelia and Milda.  He was uncertain at first.  However, soon, he was chatting with the girls and, occasionally, their dolls as if he were at any afternoon tea.

When the time came for the girls to leave, he saw them out with Camelia by his side.  Then, he turned to her and smiled.  “Did you have a good time?” he asked, his voice soft.

Camelia nodded.  “Next weekend, can we do it again at Zofia’s house?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Marian said, nodding.

Laughing, Camelia hugged him.  Then, she scampered off to change into her play clothes.  As she reached the upper landing, she said, “And, of course, you’ll come too.  It won’t be the same without you.”

“Of course?” Marian said, blinking.  He was certain, somehow, that he would be going above and beyond the call to attend another tea party.  After all, none of the other parents had stayed for this one.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  He knew that he’d been trapped, now.  He’d be attending tea parties with Camelia for the rest of the season.  “God, save me from little girls.”

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Dreamers – part 11

I’m having so much fun with the prompts from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.  My story has take another unexpected turn.  I know this thing with Marian’s brother is going to come up again.

(Prompt: Alone)

Marion frowned slightly as he strode into the banquet hall. Most of the other agents were married, or at least were dating. The young lady on his arm was not any sort of paramour for him.

“A bit young, isn’t she?” someone said.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Marian turned to glare at the speaker. “Walker,” he said. Waving at Camelia, he added, “This is my niece, if you must know.” His brow twitched as he struggled to school his features. “Her father, my brother, passed away… suddenly. You might recall.”

“He’s being decorated posthumously,” Reader said, her voice soft. She gave Camelia a weak smile. “I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Albescu. Your father was a great man.”

Camelia nodded slightly, but she didn’t say anything. Marian gave Reader a wan smile. “Thank you,” he said, his voice soft. He spotted Gilbert and then sighed as he noticed that the Schneider children were there too.

“Come on, Camelia,” he said, his tone gentle. He guided her towards Gilbert and Madeline and said, “I want you to meet some friends of mine.”

“Yes, Uncle,” she said, her voice faint.

It broke Marian’s heart to see her this way. He was hoping that seeing other children might help raise her spirits a bit. Her mother had died when she was very young. Now, Nicholai was gone too and she was alone.

“Hey, Gilbert,” Marian said, his tone full of forced cheer.

Gilbert whirled away from Singer and Tinker and frowned at him. “Marian, hey,” he said. He glanced at Madeline and tilted his head slightly to one side as he looked back at Marian. “Are you all right?”

Marian gave a weak laugh. “Peachy,” he said, shrugging. He heaved a sigh and then arched an eyebrow. “You hear of that transport accident?”

When Gilbert’s brows furrowed, Marian knew that he hadn’t heard anything of it. The science agent turned to his wife. “Maddie?”

“It happened about a week ago,” she said, her voice soft. “You had just come back from the Mushroom and you’ve been in your laboratory since you got back.”

Singer nodded. “I heard about it,” he said, his voice soft. His brows furrowed. “They were saying it might have been pilot error… that he got disoriented in the fog?”

“Papa didn’t crash the plane,” Camelia said, her voice cracking. She hiccupped and then buried her face in Marian’s chest, sobbing.

Marian blinked and then hugged her, a bit awkwardly. “They… My brother was the pilot,” he said, shrugging. He bit his lip and squeezed his eyes closed against the tears that were suddenly threatening.

To his surprise, Tinker drew Camelia into an embrace. “It’s all right, sweetie,” she said, her tone soothing. “You’re allowed to cry about things like this.” Then, she frowned at Marian. “You’re holding up all right?”

“Bereavement leave,” he said, shrugging. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped at his eyes. Then, he looked at Singer. The other agent was looking chagrined now and he shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Singer,” he said. “That’s what the preliminary findings were pointing at.”

“They have new data, then?” Gilbert said, blinking.

Marian nodded. “They just finished analyzing the in-flight voice recorder,” he said. “It was sabotage. Nicholai said… that the controls weren’t responding properly. He could steer, but he couldn’t slow down. He fought to keep the transport in the air as long as he did… so that they crashed into an unpopulated area.”

“That’s why you’re here, then,” Madeline said. When Marian nodded, she gave him a weak smile. Then, she waved towards her children and Felicja’s twins. They were crowding around Camelia, chatting and exchanging hugs.

“They know each other?” Marian said, blinking.

Nodding, Madeline said, “Nicholai sent her to Camp Whip-poor-will for the summer?” When he nodded, she shrugged. “We did too.”

Marian heaved a sigh. “Well… hopefully, it’ll do her some good, seeing some familiar faces,” he murmured. He shook his head and then gave Gilbert a weak smile. “How’s it going with your investigation? The… dreamers?”

“We were going to try to contact them tonight,” Gilbert said, glancing at Madeline quickly. When she nodded, he heaved a sigh of relief. Then, he frowned at Marian. “Did you want to help? I know… you used to do séances when we were at school.”

“For All Hallow’s Eve,” Marian said, flushing. “That was… just for fun. This would be serious.” Then, he looked at Madeline and shrugged. “I’ll help, if you think I’ll do any good.”

“I’d be more comfortable with five people participating,” Madeline said, her voice soft. Her brows furrowed and she looked at Gilbert. “Four isn’t a good number.”

“There you go then,” Gilbert said, shrugging.

Singer nodded. “Daina can keep an eye on the kids,” he said, glancing toward the group, which now included his daughter as well.