welcoming the new addition [attn: Reese]
The patriarch of the Evans family already visited once, briefly, a week ago. He's seen and held and rocked and fed Jake, his first grandchild. It's no matter to him at all that he's adopted, that he doesn't share a drop of his DNA. It matters a little that he was born to a Spiral pack. Questions were asked (Was he cleansed? Is he okay? There's nothing attached to him, right? You're safe with him?) and answered.

It's the next weekend now, and it's time for a proper stay. Sam already gave Reese the heads up, that the parentals were incoming, did he want to see them?

Yes, apparently. Yes and an offer to let them stay in his guest room, apparently. The offer was declined, awkwardly (because whoa what) and politely (because he's only just come back to them, shh, don't scare him away). The rift between the family and the eldest child is only just beginning to heal and close. It's too soon yet to subject Reese to a long period of interaction with his parents, particularly his father.

So on Friday afternoon Sam buckles Jake into a car seat in the back seat of her Mazda, and she drives way the hell out to DIA to pick up her mother, a tiny woman (she's shorter than Sam, by less than an inch but still) with an indomitable spirit. When they get home she takes a call from her father and he drops into the living room just as he had the weekend prior. Saturday, Sam spends the day with her parents, catching up though there's not much to catch up on. They talk almost once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, so they talk about Reese a little. Sam prepares them as best she can for their first meeting with a son they feared would be lost to them forever.

Then it's dinner time. Sam has invited Reese over to her place. Reese has the code that'll get him through the big orange gate that separates residents from the denizens of the downtown area. Once through, it's up a set of narrow concrete steps to the second level which is also the top level. Maybe he knocks when he reaches her door, out of propriety or out of a desire to delay the inevitable. Hopefully he tries his key, since no one inside will hear his knock.

When he finally steps inside the condo is filled with a much better cooking smell than either child could hope to accomplish. All the Evans children are artistic in some way, but Sam and Reese's creativity doesn't make it into the kitchen. That's their mother's domain, and somewhere in New York, it's also their youngest brother's. It's also filled with a booming voice and a peal of laughter, neither of which he has heard in person in several years.
For the record, it wasn't a congenial sort of "hey, long estranged parents, yeah, everything's fine now, come crash at my apartment so we can sing songs by the fireplace and hug it all out" invitation, but more of a dutiful "this is kind of why I have this space, not just for you but for anyone who needs a waystation" kind of thing. It had been wary, and not quite reluctant, and at the same time so full of a confidence that few other than Reese seem to inspire that it's quite possible it seemed like something more than it was. It's not that he doesn't want to see Shelly, of course. Or even that he's entirely against seeing Marshal. But . . .

Well. What's past is past.

He does, indeed, knock on the door first. It's a stalling tactic; maybe he hears his father's laughter from outside the condo, where he hesitates by the door (there may or may not be a text shot to a certain Shadow Lord saying wish me luck, heading into the lion's den in text speak shorthand) for long enough that it might seem like he'll turn around rather than coming in. Finally, though, a key slides its way home and turns tumblers, aligns them so that he can come in. He's been here to see Jake, of course, and maybe Sam's brought Reese's new nephew to her brother's apartment (for a supervised visit, of course, because even the most loving of sisters don't leave babies with alcoholics without the strictest of understandings if it can be helped) a time or two. Reese knows Jake and Jake knows him, but the resemblance Reese holds with the self his parents had known is tied mostly to the eyes (full of spark, of rebellion, of stubborness and impatience), the hair, the shape of the face that's so like Sam's. He's thinner now, and maybe a bit taller too though he's still a couple inches short of six feet; maybe he gets his lack of stature from Shelly's side. He's hardworn, full of wrinkles one doesn't necessarily expect to see on a twenty-eight year old face. (If one smells intently, he may or may not smell of a fortifying shot of whiskey amongst all the cigarette smoke. The weed, though, he's left alone for this visit.)

"Hey, Sam." The warmth there is genuine and though there are still mending wounds, Reese and Sam were always close before he left and it didn't take as long for them to renew that bond as one might think. It's easy to slide up and put an arm around her shoulders, to kiss the top of her head as bigger brothers everywhere do to little sisters they love. "Hi Mom - I brought wine and salad stuff, if you want it. Dad." The former is distant but warm enough, while the latter is a bit on the cool side - distance, yes, and then some. And the distance is physical as well as emotional - there may be a tenuous peace, but Reese still hasn't talked to his father since that first call home. Shelly's gotten a call or email every week or two since (bland things, nothing overly personal, but enough to know that he's relatively well and that yes, he's trying), but Marshall? Nothing.

One has to look hard to find the scars, but they're there if one knows what to look for - the marks of things that have happened in the time they've spent apart, both good and bad. It's to be expected, probably, that he keeps things as impersonal as he can now, to start with, even as they're all there to ooh and ah over a new Evans, this baby that Sam's adopted.

"Isn't my new nephew adorable?"
Sam's condo is relatively small, but still fairly spacious, particularly the kitchen, which is situated in such a way that it can't be seen from the entrance. To the left as Reese enters is a door to the second bedroom, once studio and now Jake's room, to the right is the laundry room. A little further and the place opens up considerably. There's the kitchen with its sleek new appliances, divided from the dining area by a counter, the sink, and a bar. That's when he'll see them, and they'll see him.

The years have changed them as much as they've changed Reese. Life for an Ahroun and his mate is a stressful, strained one. Shelly doesn't let herself think about the day Marshall will go out into the world and not come back, but it still shows. Sam hovers at the edge of the kitchen, leaned up against the support pillar that connects the counter and bar to the ceiling. She's dressed in t-shirt and shorts, sandals on her feet, her hair down and sort of almost kind of hiding the piercings that line her ears. When she sees Reese she turns and smiles at him with a look that's also measuring, gauging his reaction to being in the same physical proximity of his parents for the first time in ten years. It was a deliberate thing on her part, inviting him here, letting them into her space which is more or less neutral territory. She leans a little into his side when he hugs her.

Over by the oven is Shelly, Mom, shorter than she was when Reese less or maybe it just seems that way. Parents always seem like giants in their children's eyes until they become adults themselves and see that those that raised them are just people, too. Her long dark hair is streaked with grey and there are lines around her dark eyes and her thin-lipped mouth that weren't there when Reese was eighteen. She sees Reese and her brows lift a little, that look hopeful.

"Of course," she says, and it's strained. Shelly Evans was never uncertain, at least not within sight of her children. She was always so strong and so sure. But now, with her long lost son before her, she doesn't know what to do. Hug him? Reach up and catch him by the ears and drag him down to her height to give him what for? She crosses the distance between them, but she doesn't reach for him, only the salad, only the wine.

And on the other side of the counter, looming a little over it, is Marshall Evans, Athro Ahroun of the Glass Walkers, City Farmer of Montpelier. He stands a little over average height, with broad shoulders and a barrel chest, the rest of him hidden behind half-wall and sink. His hair, once a pale vibrant red (a trait none of his children showed, but it's still there, lurking in their DNA) is more silver these days. There are deep lines etched into his face, spidering out from his eyes, sharply defining his nasolabial folds. There are scars on him, as well. One crawls up the side of his neck, another pokes out from his hairline. His nose is crooked, but it's been that way since long, long before any of his children were born. He looks at his son for the first time in years, lifts his chin in quiet greeting. It's a tense moment for all of them, but fortunately it's not compounded by Marshall's Rage, which is once again diminished for this brief visit with his family, his small daughter, his tinier grandson.

They have all changed. Time does that. Ten years and then some will do that. It's worse for a family like theirs, for any family born into the war against the corruption of the Wrym. Even Sam some day will have a face lined with worry if it's not already getting there already.

Speaking of that baby...

He's in Marshall's arms, the tiniest of tiny creatures held in a pair of beefy arms. Jake's dark brown eyes are wide and full of wonder as he stares up at the ceiling, one little hand waving aimlessly.

"He is," agrees Shelly, smiling as she straightens and turns.

"And light as a feather," says Marshall, smiling down at the baby.

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