Sequel to Sundown, Holiday, Beacon
More superheroes in love! This time, it’s a complicated mission: meeting the parents.
With Holiday no longer undercover as a supervillain, they’ve made him a public part of the team ... and of their relationship. But that won’t be easy. Ryan’s parents, as the team’s science support, want to know every power-related detail, and ask questions about wedding plans and the future. Holly’s supervillain parents are almost certainly no longer on this plane of reality. And John’s parents love their hero son, but aren’t too sure about his choice of partners. Still, Ryan, John, and Holly have faced worse, together.
Contains mystic portals, one set of overexcited parents, one uncomfortable dinner-party, and blueberry pie.
Ryan and John gazed at the portrait. The portrait gazed back, tall and grand and imposing in painted silence. Holiday, between them, said nothing, and said it with a small tired smile: facing his parents.
Ryan couldn't excavate words. None big enough. Orders of magnitude.
Holly's parents, in lush extravagant color, loomed over the gallery and the forest of other painted figures. Arachne Jones had chosen to wear red, the deep heart's-blood red of a mortal wound; Horatius Jones wore black, tall and sharp and relentless. They contemplated the entire historic house and the cool stone floor and the extent of their domain with idle arrogance; they had not chosen to be painted with their offspring.
Holiday would've been two years old, then. Ryan could see the date on the discreet copper plate.
"They look," John said diplomatically, "like they belong here."
"They do, rather." Holly tucked both hands into trouser-pockets, casual and wry. He'd only put on two of the mystic rings of power that morning; a few weeks ago he'd turned one of the focus-stones into a hair-pin, and it perched above his left ear, an incongruous purple butterfly amid dark seas. "I still think of this as their house, you know. Not mine. Not properly."
"It is, though." Ryan shifted weight closer. Sharing space. Offering himself, as best he could. "Yours. All of this."
He meant it as comfort. Holly could do anything with this pile of antique stone and memories, could turn everything into a museum or a heap of rubble or a mouse, given those sorcerous powers. The offering didn't land right; Holly glanced at him, surprised.
John assisted, "You're already doing something good with it. Opening it up, letting people in, garden tours, living history, all that."
"Oh, that. I know." Holly's smile wrapped them both up in light, gathering everybody into the love; Ryan ended up breathless. "It's not as if it's a terrible sacrifice on my part, though, so don't make me sound too selfless. I never thought of it as home even when it was home. I never knew what home could mean, until the two of you."
He might've said that with bitterness. He didn't, because Holiday was -- behind the supervillain training and the legacy of those raptor-eyed portraits -- the kindest person Ryan knew. Made of that big sweet heart and eagerness to please. Currently beaming at both his partners, happy at the thought of home, and fiddling with a loose thread on a pocket.
"We'll take you back home after this." John looked up at Holly's parents again. "And we'll take care of you. A lot. Maybe using those toys you like. But, Holly ..." He paused. Hunted for phrasing.
"He means thank you," Ryan said. That was true; he knew John's faces, those expressions, that tangle of gratitude and protectiveness. "For letting us meet your parents."
"Oh, well." Holly gave him a small shrug, a head-tip, a sideways grin that could've brought armies to their knees. Holiday Jones in another universe would've been a model, an actor, a muse for countless artists: lovely in a way that'd shatter admiring hearts. Framed by portrait-gallery winter sunshine, smiling and contented, that loveliness became warmer and more touchable. "I've met yours. One set, at least. It seemed only fair. And this's as close as we can get. And I wanted to. Since I'd never brought you here. Until now."
Here meant Holly's family house. That hulking edifice of English heritage. The Jones money and the Lyndsay estate. The towering history and the weight of accumulated years of wealth, the thick accretions of power both magical and aristocratic.
The house extended opulent wings in multiple directions; the grounds sloped off into the distance and contained disused stables and an extravagant garage and a nineteenth-century hermitage. Holly paid the wages of the historical preservation society staff and groundskeepers who organized tours and maintenance. The master suite and private library remained off-limits to anyone not possessing a Sinister Sorcerer's power.