Issue #44 – It’s Official!

This entry is part 9 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 4: Confluence

Part 2

A Lifetime Ago

Ian tried to focus on the movie. It shouldn’t have been hard, it was the one he’d picked out; a tense suspense film about a lawyer who delved to deep into the past of his suspected serial killer client. He’d been wanting to see it for weeks, after missing it in theaters.

But now he could barely keep his eyes on the set. To avoid his instinct to look down, he glanced at Laurel, sitting on the floor off to the side with the bowl of popcorn. She looked away when she met his eye, but he could tell she was giggling silently.

The weight on his lap shifted and he couldn’t bear ignoring it anymore.

Alexis was sprawled across the entire couch, her torso stretching, catlike. This left her shirt, with its ninja star motif, riding up to bear her midriff and her head and shoulders on his lap.

They hadn’t started that way; nothing of the like would ever, ever happen with her awake, Ian knew. When the first movie, Laurel’s contribution of the night; a kinetic action movie based around a married couple killing their way though an organization that kidnapped their son with a variety of improbable weapons, began, the trio was sitting side by side.

Despite the noise and explosions, Alexis fell asleep and eventually tipped over until she was leaning on the laurel’s shoulder. When the movie ended and Laurel took the opportunity to get a drink, she’d fallen over completely and curled up on the couch beside Ian.

Throughout the current movie, she’d unfolded herself across the length of the couch, bulling aside Ian’s arm to find the ‘pillow’ of his lap. Now she was lightly snoring with the back of her head against his rib cage and her shoulder against his chest.

Peaceful though she might seem at the moment, Ian decided that even breathing overly much might be a poor choice. He had no idea what her reaction might be to waking up in such a position, but he was sure he didn’t want to find out.

Laurel was still watching them, still barely containing her laughter. Ian silently beseeched her to come up with a way to save him from the embarrassment, discomfort, or worse that would be in store for him. He found no help from that quarter, she only shrugged at him, eyes sparkling with amusement.

Alexis stirred in her sleep, wriggling her shoulders against him in an effort to get more comfortable. Apparently satisfied, she felt around until her hand caught his arm and pulled it over her. Ian found his arm resting on the perilously thin space between her bare stomach and breasts. Even in the darkened room, Laurel could see his face go red.

“Mmm.” the dreaming Alexis mumbled, snuggling into the arm she had captured. “Billy.”

Ian spoke before he could stop himself. “Who’s Billy?” He asked Laurel far more loudly than he would have hoped. The moment he said it, he covered his mouth in a panic.

Be it from his voice or the sharp movement that followed, Alexis stiffened where she lay. She’d been dreaming, enjoying the embrace of the latest upperclassman to be the subject of her schoolgirl crush. Now she was awake and for some reason, there was still an arm around her.

She slowly opened one eye and saw Ian staring down at her, holding his breath.

He started to say something, but sudden panic catapulted her into a sitting position so fast that she didn’t realize how close to the edge of the couch she was. The next moment, she landed hard on her rump on the floor.

Laurel burst into laughter, dropping the popcorn to clutch her sides. Alexis paid no attention to her, glaring up at the source of her embarrassment instead. “Ian!” She snapped. “What the hell?”

“I didn’t do anything!” came the panicked reply.

Still glaring her frustration, Alexis held up a fist and called up black heat to surround it like flame. “You better not have.”

Finally, Laurel found her voice. “Hold on, Alex, calm down.”

“Don’t think I’m letting you off the hook for always inviting this deviant to watch movies with us.” She shot back at Laurel.

“Deviant?” Ian gaped.

“Yeah, it’s a big word, but pervert wasn’t big enough.” Alexis defended.

Laurel shook her head. “Alexis, turn off your lighter, Ian’s not a deviant or a pervert.”

“He pulled my head into his lap!”

“Then you should be aiming it at yourself.” said Laurel. “Because you’re the one that got yourself into the position. I was watching the entire time.”

Alexis’s eyes narrowed in her confusion. “Wait. What?”

“You stretched out, and used the poor boy as a pillow.” Laurel said, her lips once again curling into a grin, both from the memory and from Alexis’s expression. “Don’t you think you owe him an apology?”

Ian shrank back against the couch. “No, that’s fine. It was a mistake all around. I should have woken you up sooner.”

“And had her fly off the handle at you sooner.” Laurel pointed out, retrieving the popcorn.

Ian chose to ignore her, seeing as how this was getting him and even more fierce glare from Alexis. “It won’t happen again.”

Alexis held his eye a moment more before extinguishing the black heat around her hand. “Damn right. And we’ll both me sure of that.”

***

The Present

Alexis seldom woke slowly. It was more like a switch; one moment she was deep in sleep, the next, her eyes opened and she wasn’t. That morning wasn’t any different. Lazily getting her bearings, she quickly established where she was and who was with her.

“You’re already awake.” She yawned, craning her next to look up at Ian.

“Yeah.” was the quiet reply.

“How long?”

Ian let out a long breath, pretending to think it over. “Well see, I figured I’d give you five more minutes. Big day last night and all.”

“So about twenty then?” She grinned at him upside down.

“Closer to ten.”

Languidly, she separated from him, yawning all the while. “I probably need it. But there’s so much I’ve got to get done today. I promised Stephanie Carroll I’d fill in for her keeping an eye on the kids at the Institute. I didn’t know you were going to propose! Now we’ve got to call our families and tell everyone here—and you know that’s going to turn into an instant party.”

As she listed off the suddenly multiplied duties of the day, she felt around, blinded by her unruly hair, for something to put on. She found a T-shirt, briefly examined it and then tossed it aside as too short for her needs.

Ian move quickly to save the shirt from hitting the floor with a gust of wind, drawing it to his hand so he could put it on. “Plus, General Pratt.”

“Plus General Pratt.” Alexis sighed woefully. She found Ian’s robe and threw it around herself, belting it at her waist as she stood up. “He’s going to be in full battle mode hearing that Mad-Mad and Maven are still free.”

“Yeah, I was thinking of that before you woke up.” Ian sat up to get his shirt on. “Let me take care of that.”

Alexis looked up from tying her hair back to fix him with an incredulous look. “What?”

“I can’t make a report?”

“You never have before.”

“Because the General doesn’t respect me like he does you or L.” Ian shrugged. “It just makes things more smooth. But you’ve already got way too much on your plate today and it’s my fault for asking you to be Mrs. Ian Smythe.” He finished with a foolish grin. He still couldn’t believe she’d said yes.

“Really?” Alexis asked, getting back up on the bed on her hands and knees and making her way over to kiss him. “I sort of liked the idea of you becoming Mr. Alexis Keyes, personally. You know, Victoria always said that when she gets married, she’s going to insist that he take her name.”

“And now we know why Nicky is the only one of your sisters that got a proposal.” Ian said with false warning in his voice. Then he frowned. “I never actually got to propose to you.” He suddenly realized. “Oh man, I’ve got to go back and find that ring.”

She laid a hand on his arm. “It’s fine, Ian. We’re engaged and that’s what matters. I can always ask Warrick to make a fake ring for me to wear.”

“I already did that.” Ian groaned. “Not a fake one, but real. And it took some arm twisting to get him to do it—that kid’s way too civil minded for a teenager, you know that?” He caught himself babbling and took a moment to center himself with some deep breaths. “But that’s not the thing.”

“Then what is?” She asked, taking a seat against the headboard beside him.

“That it’s a big thing to me.” he says. “The proposal part. I’ve thought about this for, like, ever. Since before we were dating; even a couple times while you were incommunicado.”

Very slowly he peeked over for her reaction to that. “I know how that must sound to you. And you’re totally right, that’s pathetic. But… since high school, I knew you were out of my league, but a guy can dream right?”

He put his arm around her and was unnecessarily relieved that she didn’t pull away. “And now through what I can only attribute to black magic, the dream’s come true. But it… something just seems missing without doing it the right way. It’d be like if we got married at a Vegas chapel by a Micheal Jackson impersonator.”

Alexis couldn’t help but giggle at the visual there and leaned over to give him a miss on the cheek. “I can see that it’s important to you. How about I ask Warrick to swing by the restaurant with Laurel when she goes to work things out with their insurance?”

“That’d be perfect.” Ian returned the kiss. “Thanks, hon.”

Once more, she got up and made sure the robe was closed. “You’re more than welcome. Unfortunately, I really do have to get ready.”

“Sure I can’t convince you to be late?”

“I wish.” She gave him another smile. “But Stephanie has a doctor’s appointment and these kids… I’ve told you about Kura Akagi, right?” Ian nodded. “Then you know why there absolutely needs to be adult supervision there at all times.”

“Yeah, I can see that.” He nodded. “You’re forgiven this time.” He gave her a regal wave before starting the search around the bed for his own clothes.

Alexis laughed. “I knew you would—“ She held up a fist and, still smiling playfully, called up a mass of black heat around it. “You know what’s good for you.”

He looked up from picking up his pants and laughed at a seemingly distant memory. Reaching out with his power, he gently shaped the black heat particles into a heart. “I do.”

Looking impressed with how far he’d come with his power, Alexis shook her head and let her power dissipate. “I’ll make it up to you. Tomorrow is Sunday and I will be all yours.”

“Sounds great.” He replied. “I’ll see you went you get back.”

“You too.” She answered on her way out of the room.

Ian didn’t know how long he spent just sitting there, smiling at his closed door, but presently, he realized that he had things to do—more than he’d imagined since he’d promised to report to General Pratt.

He quickly got showered and dressed, returning from the bathroom with the base elements of a game plan for the day in mind. Not just for the day, but the future.

***

As per her usual, Laurel had already been awake for hours.

Attired in her tank top, pajamas, and favorite fuzzy slippers, she’d already finished checking the logs from her web spiders, checked her inbox, and answered a number of concerned inquiries from various ROCIC installations. She was in the middle of taking a break while the FAA got back to her about radar contacts over Mayfield around the time Mad-Mad Madigan made his escape when a telephone icon appeared on the corner of her screen. She instantly recognized the number it displayed.

“So,” She said after giving the icon a double tap to answer. “Am I the first to congratulate the happy couple?”

“Half of it.” Ian’s voice came back. His voice still told of sleep and the desire for more of it.

Laurel sighed. “Please don’t tell me she’s run off already.”

“Couldn’t be helped. Someone over at the school needed her to stand in for her.”

“I could have done that.” she groaned and took a sip of coffee. “The two of you should be spending time together right now.”

“But you know our girl.” They said as one.

“Jinx.” Laurel laughed. “Well I’m going to have a talk with her about priorities when she gets back. Back to the point at hand though; why call me when we’re in the same house?”

“Oh, that.” Ian said, remembering his duties for the day. “Could you send me the number of the General’s hardline? I’m taking care of reporting to him about last night.”

“You? I thought you avoided talking to General Pratt as a general rule.”

“Not just him, all military kinds of guys.” He said, “They just make me leery.”

“Then why start now?”

“I promised Alexis I would. It can’t be that bad, can it?”

A smile crept onto Laurel’s face. “I’ve been telling you that for months; General Pratt doesn’t hold anything against you over your reaction to Prometheus. He respects us and the job we do—all of us.”

“We’ll see about that when I make the call I guess.” Ian sighed. “Oh well, on the plus side, I’ve got a reason to call home. I haven’t been doing that enough.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #43 – Love You MadlyIssue #45 – The Gremlin and The Game >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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