Let’s Rock and Roll

Ezra lay back on the blanket and stared up at the sky. In spite of the gathering darkness, Missy and Loki were still playing with some of the other children who had come to the park. Morgan was sitting on the blanket beside Ezra, while they waited together for the show to begin.

“It was a nice day,” she said, her voice soft.

Nodding, Ezra said, “More peaceful than normal – no complaints here.” He sat up and then looked over at the kids. “Loki! Missy! The show will be starting.”

As he was calling their children over, other parents were doing the same. Missy bounded over and flopped down in Ezra’s lap. She leaned back against him, like he was a chair. Ezra smiled fondly and settled the noise dampening headphones over her ears.

Loki knelt on the blanket beside Morgan, his eyes locked on the sky. “What are they waiting for?” he asked, sounding like the impatient child he appeared to be.

Morgan laughed and pointed at the sky. “Begin,” she said, her tone commanding. As if in response, the first firework exploded in the sky, spreading out in a spray of bright crimson and violet.

Loki looked at Morgan and then shook himself and focused on the show. “Time to rock and roll,” he said, grinning.

Ezra reached out and took Morgan’s hand. He couldn’t help but smile as he looked up at the fireworks display. The times when they could just relax and be a family together were few and far between. To Ezra, that made them all the more treasured.

Here We Go

Ezra looked at the things he’d gathered for their picnic. He had the blanket all set in the tapestry bag that it came with. The little trays were washed and ready to use. Plates, napkins and flatware were all packed in the picnic basket. He’d packed their sandwich fixings into little containers, along with their salads and some snacks. The containers were also packed into the picnic basket. Finally, there was a large thermos with lemonade. They had everything they’d need for the picnic.

He looped the tapestry bag over on shoulder. Then he took the thermos in one hand and the picnic basket in the other. “All set,” he said, grinning at Morgan.

Morgan flashed him a smile and handed Loki a bag of toys that he and Missy could use at the park. Then, she took the picnic basket from him. “We’re ready too,” she said.

“Here we go!” Missy said, as she scampered out the door past them. The little bell necklace she wore chimed merrily. It was the only remaining hint of her former nature.

Shaking his head, Ezra called, “Missy, your hat!” The growl of frustration made him smile. She was, in many ways, still very feline.

“Some of the noises she makes,” Morgan said, shaking her head in amusement. “I’m surprised that no one realizes the truth.”

“People often overlook things when they can’t wrap their minds around them,” Ezra said, shrugging. Then, they were outside and walking, while Missy alternated between running ahead of them and waiting impatiently for them to catch up.

Marching On

Ezra frowned slightly at Loki. The boy had grown, as boys are wont to do as time passes. However, some part of Ezra had felt that the spell that had made him a boy would keep him that way.

“Does it bother you?” he asked. He flushed when Loki looked up at him with a confused frown. “H-having to grow up all over again, I mean.”

Loki looked thoughtful and then shook his head. “It did at first,” he admitted. Then, he smiled and shrugged. “School is boring, since I’ve been through it all before. At the same time, though, I spent my first childhood wanting to grow up. Now, I’m just enjoying being a child.”

“So… does it bother you that you’ll leave this childhood behind as well?”

Looking up at Morgan, Loki grinned. “Beats the alternative,” he said, shrugging. “Time passes, the world keeps turning. What choice do we have but to keep moving right along with it?”

“None, I suppose,” Ezra said, nodding slightly.

A Fire

Ezra’s eyes flew open. “Smoke,” he gasped. He sat up and shook Morgan awake. “Morgan,” he said. When she moaned softly, he shook her harder. “Morgan, wake up! There’s a fire!”

Morgan was awake in an instant. Grabbing her housecoat, she ran to the door. Ezra was close behind her. “Get out, Ezra,” she said, her tone brisk. “I’ll get the kids.”

Nodding, Ezra headed for the steps. He was halfway down the flight when he remembered it. He bit his lip and ran to the base of the steps. The fire was in his workshop – probably something as a result of the chemicals he used in his art.

He could hear Morgan getting Loki and Missy out the back. They were safe. That just left one thing. He ran across the little den, coughing as he tasted smoke at the back of his throat. He took down the painting and hurried out through the front door.

Morgan was already on the front lawn with the kids. Neighbors were rushing in to throw water at the fire. Ezra dropped to his knees beside his little family and sighed. “All right?” he asked, his voice hoarse.

“We’re fine,” Morgan said, kneeling beside him. She looked into his eyes and frowned. “What, in the name of all that is, could be so important that you’d risk your life to get it?” she said.

Ezra gave her a weak smile and held up the painting for her to see. “My father,” he said. Then, he coughed again. It was the only painting he had – the only image that existed – depicting him with his brother, mother and father.

Practically Perfect

Ezra sighed quietly as he stepped into the little house he shared with Morgan. “I’m home,” he called.

Morgan peered out of the kitchen. Smiling, she said, “I thought we could eat on the back deck tonight, since it’s so nice out.”

A faint smile touched Ezra’s lips and he nodded. He shed the jacket he had worn for school and pulled on the comfortable one he wore around the house. Then, he followed her outside, through the kitchen.

Missy and Loki were already sitting at the table waiting for them. Dinner was a simple meal of pan-fried chicken, baked beans and corn fritters. They spoke about their days and of events that would be coming up in the weeks to come.

After dinner, Missy and Loki played in the back yard. Ezra settled beside Morgan on the porch swing to watch as Missy chased fireflies and Loki chased Missy. A faint smile touched his lips and he looked at her.

“I like quiet evenings like this,” she said, resting her head on his chest.

Ezra nodded, wrapping his arms around her waist. “Nights like this… are practically perfect.” This, Ezra felt, was how a family should be. He knew Missy and Loki wouldn’t play so nicely for long. He resolved to enjoy it while he could.

The Slender Man Yet Again

Lucas stood beside Mischief on the deck of the ship. She was staring off into the distance, hugging her stuffed rabbit close. Lucas had to wonder. Did being this way bother her? How long had she been in the form of a little cat? Was it strange to be in her natural form again?

“Don’t,” she said, as Lucas started to turn away. Without looking back, she reached out and caught his hand, drawing him over to the rail. “Don’t look over your shoulder, Loki,” she repeated, her voice hardly more than a whisper.

Lucas tensed. “Why not?” he breathed back, dreading the answer.

“He’s there,” she said. She looked away, suddenly focusing on the water again. “Look at the fishies, Loki.” Her voice seemed too loud, somehow. He could tell she was trying to force him to thing about anything except the strange man standing just behind them.

Forcing his own gaze out towards the horizon, he said, “You’ve got better eyes than me, Missy. I can’t see fish at all. There’re birds, though.” It was difficult to not think about something, but thinking about something else… that, Lucas could do. Luckily for both of them, he supposed.

The Slender Man

Lucas read the webpage with only vague feelings of interest. He had heard the stories of a strange tall man whose face was different to every that saw him – who wore a suit and might or might not have tentacles, in addition to his arms. He knew where the first images had originated. It was a hoax – an experiment in how long it took something to become an urban legand.

However, as he now scanned the images, one photograph jumped out at him. The Slender Man was just visible behind a tree, watching what seemed to be a children’s party. What struck Lucas was… the man seemed familiar in some way – a way that had nothing to do with having viewed the other images before it.

“It’s just a story,” he snapped, closing the browser window. He had more important things to do than waste his time playing on the network. He had a conference to get to. After all, he was one of the presenters.

What Is Courage?

Prompt: put aside fear for courage

Lucas frowned slightly as he listened to Sweetin explain his thought process and what had led him to this point. He looked up at Morgan when the artist had finally wound down.

She sighed softly and shook her head. “It was rather foolish of you to try and handle this alone, Ezra,” she said, reaching out and taking his hands in hers. “What were you thinking?”

“I… guess I was trying to protect you,” Ezra murmured. He laughed, then, and said something that shocked Lucas. “I thought… as it’s me they want, this might be the best way to do that. If I run, they’ll follow me and leave you alone.”

Lucas scowled. Sweetin seemed like such a coward – letting people make decisions for him and doing what the Underground wanted just to keep them from hurting him. He’d listened to them, even when he knew what they wanted him to do was wrong.

At the same time, though… Morgan said he was a confidential informant with the Agency. He’d been reporting on Underground activities for nearly two years. Now, he’d put himself at risk to protect someone who was trained to defend herself. He was foolish, that was true. However, it was a foolishness that Lucas had to respect.

Ezra smiled faintly and said, “I’m rather glad you’re here now, though.” His cheeks darkened and he shrugged. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened in all my life.” Lucas couldn’t help but smile at his words.

Left Alone

Prompt: errands and affairs

“We need to disguise you,” Morgan said. She leaned forward and brushed the hair away from Lucas’s face. “Otherwise, that guy will find you again and I might not be there to stop him a second time.”

“Right,” Lucas said. He frowned slightly. “Just how are we going to do that?” He tugged the hair back down, so that it fell over one eye once again.

Morgan smiled. “I just need to get a few things.” She stood and moved towards the door of the sleeper cabin. “Just stay here – maybe take a nap. I won’t be long. I think I can get most of what I need right here.”

“On a moving train?” Lucas said, sounding doubtful. He sighed at Morgan’s easy smile. Then, she was gone. He shook his head and then laid back against the pillow. He had to admit that he was tired. If he was alone anyway, he might as well catch up on some sleep. The whole business the last few months had put him on edge. It actually felt nice to have someone looking after him – not that he’d ever tell Morgan that.

You’re Not Alone

Prompt: we shall always be alone

Morgan sat down opposite Lucas and looked at him intently. “So,” she said, as the train lurched into motion. “How about you explain to me how it is that someone I know is twenty looks like they can’t be more than five or six?”

Lucas hesitated. He glanced around and then looked back up at Morgan. “I guess this is about as private a spot as I could ask for,” he said, his voice weak. He shrugged. “Some sort of spell. I got hit with it and, next thing I knew, I woke up like this.”

“And that man?”

“Was sent to catch me,” Lucas said. He grimaced. “I’ve been running and hiding for over a month now. He’d just caught up to me when you intervened.”

“A month,” Morgan said. She sighed and shook her head. “Why didn’t you go to the Agency for help? I mean, I know you’ve helped on missions in the past.”

Lucas looked down and shrugged. “I… guess I was embarrassed,” he murmured. “I – I’ve never felt so vulnerable before – so alone!”

He startled when Morgan set her hand over his. As he met her gaze, she smiled. “Well, you’re not alone anymore,” she said. “I won’t let anything happen to you. However, I’m meeting someone on this train. So…”

“Want me to sit next to you,” Lucas said. He grinned at her. It was a weak smile, almost like he was afraid to relax enough to actually enjoy himself. When Morgan nodded, he hopped down and settled in the seat beside her. For several minutes, she watched and waited, while Lucas sat quietly at her side. She barely noticed when he fell asleep.

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