Safety first by siliconshaman.
Story date: day after the events of "For Every Action...
Characters: Joan, Kate and Jean Wheeler.
Summery: Joan has some family time.
Joan hadn’t told her moms what had happened right away. She’d been bursting to, actually having to bite her lip to stop herself from blurting it out as soon as she saw them. But the emergency medical aid station was SO not the place for that discussion.
Her landing had been not too bad, as these things went, at least no broken bones. But she was wet through, muddy, bruised and the reeds had raised welts all across her back where she’d whipped though them. She also had a ringing headache from over-extending her power.
Excited as she was, she really wanted to be somewhere quiet and dark with a blue camomile soaked cloth on her forehead and a bowl of Mom Kate’s Mac’n’Cheese inside her.
Luckily, no-one had seen her take off, or go flying across the park. So, when her moms came to pick her up, she just told them she’d been trying something new with her power and it had sort of gone wrong... which was more-or-less true. Mom Jean had looked at her, and asked her if she knew where she’d gone wrong? Joan had nodded and that had been that. For the moment anyway.
Joan knew her moms trusted her to figure out for herself how to do things safely now. She’d understood the need ever since she’d gotten her first bike at 6, and a broken arm had imprinted that lesson more firmly than any parental lecture could have.
But Joan didn’t feel comfortable being evasive about it. Luckily, tomorrow wasn’t a school day, so she could pick her moment then. Besides, she reasoned as they drove home, it was probably better to wait until everyone was a bit calmer. Being called to come collect her had jangled her moms nerves, although at least it was the aid station and not ER this time. Mom Jean in particular never took her being hurt too well, and her knuckles were white where they gripped the steering wheel, for almost half of the way home.
Mom Kate had called shotgun, which meant she had choice of the radio and as she fiddled with the tuning manually, she found a latin rock, or maybe a classic hits, station just as it was playing La Bamba...
Joan groaned, quietly, as Mom Kate started lip syncing deliberately badly to the music. It was a thing between her moms. La Bamba was their song. Joan had never gotten a straight answer as to why, but although Kate couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket she never let it stop her.
Mom Jean hung onto her mood for a whole two verses.. then gave way, threw back her head, and belted out the chorus along with her wife as they waited at the lights. It was a warm day, and Mom Jean had forgotten she had the roof down, so they startled the heck out of the guy in the station wagon next to them.
Once all three of them finished giggling about half a block further on, having left the startled driver at the lights, Mom Jean looked over at Kate and fondly said : “Dork!”.
Which set them all off laughing again.
The next day could have been awkward, to say the least. Joan had gotten up late, still feeling a touch ache-y from over doing it yesterday. It was Mom Kate’s turn to do breakfast, and Mom Jean had already left for the hanger out by the airport to work on something.
Joan didn’t want to tell one of her Moms ahead of the other, it wouldn’t be fair, so she had eaten up quietly and then pleading a headache and home work, had retreated to her room. She used her tablet in ‘stealth’ mode to start looking up stuff pertaining to flight and super-heroes.
Around lunchtime Joan heard Mom Jean land on the road outside and taxi her plane into the garage hanger. Riverside was an aero-community, which meant that the roads were extra wide and acted as runways for residents private planes. Just about every home in Riverside had a hanger as well as a garage. It was popular place to live for pilots and crew operating out of midway and O’Hara airport.
Joan padded out of her room, still wearing her floppet onesies PJ’s and bunny slippers. Softly she walked down the hallway from her bedroom at the back of the house, past her moms room and turned left into the kitchen. She ran and slid a short qay over the kitchen’s tiled floor, before bumping into the connecting door with the garage.
The smooth concrete of the garage floor was cold under her feet, so she hurried across it. Mom Jean was just climbing out of her sporty red&white Icon A6 having completed the post-flight checklist and shutdown. Joan hopped up and sat on the flared aquatic skirt and wheel pod of the amphibious plane, resting her back against the warm fuselage while her moms exchanged a leisurely kiss and embrace.
After a moment, they took half a step back from each other, each with an arm still around each others waists, and Mom Jean extended a free arm towards Joan, who eagerly skipped into the hug between them.
“So, whatcha been up to kiddo?” Mom Jean asked, squeezing her shoulders.
“Not much, homework a bit.”
Jean looked a question at Kate who, shrugged. “Joan’s feeling a bit under the weather still, love. So we’re having a quiet day.”
Jean pulled Joan a bit tighter in to her side, and Joan was a bit startled to realise she wasn’t that much shorter than her Mom now... although Mom Kate was still tall enough to rest her chin on the top of the short blonde crew-cut Jean sported.
“Tell you what sport, lets all take the rest of the day off. You know what we haven’t done together in ages? Build a fort! How about it? Help your Moms build a pillow fort?”
“Awww mom... I’m too old for that.” Joan said squirming slightly.
“Says who?!” Jean retorted in surprise. “You might be, but I’m not. So I’m gonna build one, you with me?”
“I’m in... you’ll need an engineer.” Kate added.
“Well kiddo? You going to leave it to just us two, or are you in?”
Joan laughed. “Ok, you pair of kids... I’m in!”
A couple of hours later Joan was glad she’d allowed herself to be dragged along, so to speak. She’d sat and directed while her Moms did the actual building. Mom Kate had retrieved an expanding rack from the garage and used it as a roof truss between the backs of the two sofas they’d denuded of seat cushions to add padding over the hardwood floor of the living room. It made quite a sizeable space, which Jean had draped with two of the big fuzzy blankets from their emperor sized bed. Kate had woven a string of LED garden lights through the rack’s struts, bathing the interior in a soft golden glow, and then thrown in a huge armful of scatter pillows, which Joan arranged into heaps while Jean had raided the kitchen.
Joan had brought her laptop, and they watched a film together, her Moms sitting side-by-side. Kate had draped her arm over Jean’s shoulders, as Joan had lain across their laps, while Mom Jean lazily braided Joan’s hair.
Joan winced as Mom Jean momentarily rested her hand on her back. The welts from yesterday still hurt.
“You ok Joan?” Jean asked.
“Oops! Sorry sprout. Did you get them checked out yesterday?”
“Yes mom, they’re just tender a bit...”
“Want some Ibrugel on them? I’ve got a tube on me...”
“Please...why have you got a tube with you?”
“Ah you know, weather’s changing and my scars ache.”
“Oh. Of course...”
Kate nudged her wife’s shoulder with hers. “I’ll do you while you do Joan’s bruises if you like...”
“Thanks Hun... there’s that one in the middle of my back I can never reach.”
While her moms had been talking, Joan had unzipped her PJ’s and slid them down to her waits, lifting up the t-shirt underneath. She didn’t realise anything was wrong until she heard Mom Jean swear and Mom Kate had gasped.
“Good god! Joan, what happened?!”
“Shitfire Kid, you look like you’ve been flogged!”
Joan twisted, trying to see down her back. What she could see the bruises formed narrow red and purple stripes across her back.
“Umm... yeah. I was meaning to talk about that to you moms...”
“Joan honey... you have some explaining to do. Has...has someone been hurting you?”
“What? NO! No! God no, nothing like that mom!”
Mom Jean looked sternly at her...only slightly softened by the fact she was biting her lip. Mom Kate still was looking at her in wide-eyed shock.
“It’s ok, really, it looks way worse than it is. I went flying backwards through a reed bed see...”
Kate relaxed slightly and nodded. “Yeah, that’d do it... although you’d have to be moving pretty fast to get that effect...Um. Joan, just exactly what did you do yesterday?”
Joan bit her lip, and the blurted out.
Mom Kate asked. “You mean you knocked yourself backwards, how?”
“No Mom, I FLEW. Directional horizontal and vertical flight under my own power. I didn’t go ballistic until the end when I cut power and splash-landed... well, more like splatted actually, into the reed bed.”
Her moms exchanged a baffled look, and then mom Jean asked;
“Ok, so.. you flickered? I mean, I know how much you wanted...”
“No Mom. I figured it out! I can push down on the ground, and that lifts me up.. Newtons third law. I push the air behind me away, and that propels me forward, like a jet engine. It’s still Tk, but I figured out how to use it to fly!”
Jean whistled...”Well.. I’ll be damned! That’s a new wrinkle...”
Mom Kate started to laugh, drawing a puzzled glance from Jean, until Kate pointed at her, and shakily exclaimed.
“Th.. that’s our kid! She SCIENCED her power, so she could fly!”
“Heh, yeah.. she’s got your smarts...”
“And your stubbornness, not to mention love of flying!”
Jean, leaning forward and down, threw her arms around Joan and hugged her.
“Ow mom! Back!”
“Yikes, sorry Joan. Here, let me get that while you tell us all about it.”
So, Joan talked, describing what happened and how she felt, with her back towards Jean as she rubbed in the soothing pain-relieving gel.
Joan had just got to the part where she had punched through the clouds, when her mom stopped her. It was measure of how excited and caught up in her memories that Joan didn’t realise something was wrong until her mom Jean caught her by the shoulder and turned her round to face her.
“Joan Wheeler. You. Are. Grounded!”
“NO.. I.. you.. Dammit kid!”
Joan hurt and confused looked between her moms, as Jean glared at her. Kate rested her hand on Jean’s shoulder, and as her wife looked at her, gently asked.
“Jean, honey, do you need to tap out?”
“No I...” Jean looked between her wife and their daughter, and sighed, shoulders drooping slightly. “Yeah, I do. Thanks love. Sorry sprout..I... Kate, you explain. I’m gonna go.. do something... some place else.”
Jean crawled out of the blanket fort, letting in a waft of cooler air, and scrambled to her feet. Joan could hear her boots on the hardwood floor clomping away. She looked beseechingly at her Mom Kate.
“Mom... what did I do?”
Kate pushed a curl of Joan’s ginger hair off her forehead before answering.
“It’s not you. You know how your mom Jean has some emotional scars still?”
Joan nodded, her mom hadn’t come away from flying combat rescue missions emotionally unscathed either.
“PTSD, I know. That’s why we don’t do fireworks on the 4th of July.”
“Right, well... I think I know what’s triggered her. She flew civilian missions sometimes, if they called in military assistance. There was one she told me about where they were tasked to search for a downed jet liner. Some soup teenager had flown into controlled airspace and collided with it.”
“Oh! Ohhh... yeah... but I was nowhere near a flight path, and they have radar don’t they?”
“Humans don’t show up all that well on radar Joan, and in clouds there would be no visual clues... and you know better. You might not have been on any of the usual flight paths, but you can’t assume you’re safe just because of that.”
“I know mom... planes get diverted for all kinds of reasons. Anywhere above 250ft isn’t safe, and that’s not counting military craft.”
“Right. Well, it hit your mom Jean pretty hard. You see, the reason they knew what had happened was because the kid was streaming live from his vid-watch when it happened. She saw the footage, as part of the briefing for the recovery mission. His watch was a mountaineering model, like yours. It was still broadcasting as the impact had triggered it’s emergency mode. So it was transmitting it’s GPS coordinates on the distress band from somewhere near the crash site. The authorities sent your mom out to look for him, umm.. trigger warning...the next bit is kind of nightmare fuel.”
Joan nodded, she needed to know.
“It’s ok mom...”
“Well... the watch survived, and your mom found it, and the boy’s arm... but that was all that was left. 600Km/h impacts don’t leave much behind.”
“Oh... I can see why she’d be upset now. She imagined that happening to me.”
“Yeah... maybe. But between that, and no survivors out of the 143 aboard and the 30 on the ground, that mission hit her worse than some of the one’s where she was shot at. I mean she got counselling at the time, but you don’t walk away from something like that without it affecting you. I guess... She worries about you, you know. It’s harder for her sometimes, when stuff happens, because she has her own issues to get through, and also she’s the one that had to stand around helpless when I was carrying you.”
“She does? I mean she’s all so... you know...” Joan shrugged, trying and failing to find the right words. Kate nodded.
“I know, outwards she’s a rock. Inwardly she turns to goo every time, but combat pilots you know. They’re trained to be calm even when it’s all going to hell. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t pay for it later however. That’s why our room has the best soundproofing made.”
“I thought that was... er... for other reasons.”
Kate blushed, they’d left the door open ONE time!
“Umm.. well, that too! But she has nightmares, which is why I know. They used to be about stuff she’d done or seen, but you’re kind of mixed up in there now, so sometimes it’s stuff she’s seen or done, but it’s you instead of her...if you see what I mean?”
Joan nodded, and then hugged her mom.
“Sorry mom, and I’ll tell mom Jean sorry too, umm... when she’s calmer...”
Sometime later, Joan padded silently through to the garage where her mom Jean was tinkering with the engine of her project plane, a vintage P45 she was restoring. The massive metal block was resting on a support cradle while Jean wrestled with a socket wrench underneath it.
“Hang on honey...”
Jean slid out from underneath the engine cradle on a mechanics dolly, and kicking a lever, it folded itself up into a chair under her as she took out a cleaning gel-infused wipe from her pocket and wiped the oil off her hands.
“Ok... me first. I’m sorry I snapped at you honey. That was uncalled for. Obviously, you’re not totally grounded.”
Joan nodded, then threw her arms around Jean as she threw herself into her mom’s lap, startling her.
“It’s ok mom. Kate explained about the air-crash. You’re right, I need to keep my feet on the ground until I learn to fly safely.”
Kate smiled at her, her shoulders sagging in relief, as she hugged her back.
“I don’t know what I did right, to get a smart kid like you.”
“You mean, other than marry mom Kate?”
“Other than that. So glad we decided to combine our genes to get you, even if we are still paying off the loan.”
“Heh, yeah... I always loved being able to tell the mean kids I know exactly how much my moms love me...”
“Nobody’s been teasing you lately, have they?”
“Not since fifth grade Mom. You landing the VTOL in the school-yard to pick me up convinced all the kids I had the coolest family ever!”
“Well, it was an emergency...”
“Suuure it was... and I don’t think the FAA inspector believed you either, but he couldn’t prove it.”
“Yeah. Didn’t hurt he was a father too. So... topic change: we’re going to have to look up the FAA rules and guidelines for soups you know.”
“Already on it Mom. Read them all. Both paragraphs.”
“Wha... wow. That’s not much is it?!”
“About par for the course for soups. It’s like nobody really knows what to do with us... and none of the ‘naries want to take a chance writing stuff and get it wrong. Although some soups are really unlucky. For some powers there’s tons of guidelines and books of regulations... all of it contradictory and most of it just plain wrong. But those are the scary ones.”
Jean hugged Joan, resting her chin on the top of her head as Joan leaned against her.
“Yeah, I guess it could be worse... it’s new for all of us, so we get to be barn-stormers and make up our own rules. Although...”
“I know mum, low level practice only until we figure out how to do it safely.”
“That’s my girl. Safety first! Now, lets get cleaned up and dinner started. Where’s Kate?”
“Basement, she said something about building the smallest self-contained radar and ID transponder ever...”
Jean laughed, shaking her head.
“Ok, might have known she’d be on it! Looks like dinner is up to us then sport! What say I fire up the grill and we have cook out? You can show me how you fly as long as you stay below the roof tops.”
Joan smiled up at her mom and nodded.
Crossposted from: http://siliconshaman.dreamwidth.org/1232
comments so far over there.