The moment we landed, Alma and I rushed to my parents’ house. She had arranged for our luggage to be taken home for us, and I couldn’t be bothered waiting for a car right now. My parents had waited long enough.
To my surprise, Portentia answered the door after I knocked. She probably insisted…
“Portentia, thank you.” I told her, hugging her.
She started signing something the moment I released her, but I still hadn’t gotten around to learning sign language. I made a mental note to arrange time. I had put that off too long.
Alma leaned against me and whispered “She didn’t know what to tell them, so she’s said nothing.”
“James! I’m so glad to see you, dear.” exclaimed mother from inside.
I patted Portentia’s shoulder and walked passed her. Mother was smiling, but her smile was quite obviously off. She walked over and hugged me tightly ― well, tightly for her.
Hugging her back, I asked, “Where is father?”
“He… he wanted to be alone, dear, so he’s in the study.” she replied. Noticing Alma, she let go and said, “Oh. Lady Pendreigh’s with you. Umm… Would you like some tea then?”
Alma gave her a smile and said, “Yes, please.”
Mother grabbed my wrist as she moved toward the kitchen, so I followed her.
“James, dear, I thought you’d have realized we wanted to talk with you alone.” she told me in a whisper.
“Alma already knows about Portentia.” I admitted.
“I… see. Your father won’t like that at all.” she informed me.
Father didn’t like being kept in the dark. I could imagine how he would have thought things through after Portentia’s rescue. He probably upset himself greatly.
“Have you checked on him?” asked Alma.
Mother looked at Alma in surprise.
“Sorry to intrude on your conversation. I’ll go inform him we’re here.” stated Alma.
I was about to argue, but I could see her determination. Father wasn’t going to like this. I wasn’t sure why Alma had the sudden urge to disturb him. Maybe she simply wanted to avoid repeating ourselves?
“She’s got very good hearing, doesn’t she.” stated mother.
“Oh. Yes.” I replied, turning back to face her. Seeing how anxious she looked, I said, “Mother, you’ll be fine. You can relax.”
“James, we were accosted and nearly held at gunpoint. All we were doing was shopping! Then Portentia arrived, and I felt like I had been caught up in some sort of movie. The way she moved, dear… It wasn’t natural. You’re quick. You’ve always been quick, but she’s… not human.” stated mother.
“She is a bit of a mystery, but I can assure you that she takes being a superhero quite seriously. She wouldn’t hurt anyone who’s not committing a crime.” I insisted.
“James, dear, you don’t understand. Something happened, and… her head… I can’t explain this, but it was like her head suddenly blew up. Then it was still there. I saw the chunks of it on the ground!” exclaimed mother, sounding atypically shrill.
I hugged her and said, “I’m simply thankful that she was there in time. Things could have gone much worse.”
“I don’t doubt that, but… we don’t even know what those men had wanted! What if they come after us?” she asked.
“They won’t.” I stated.
“What? James, you can’t know that. There’s no way to know what they wanted. They weren’t robbing the place. Portentia didn’t even tie them up. They’re out there somewhere!” she insisted.
“Why didn’t you tie them up?” I asked, but Portentia wasn’t watching.
“She’s deaf, James. A deaf superhero.” stated mother.
“Yes, I know, but she reads lips very well, as I’m sure you know by now.” I replied.
“It’s no use. She won’t say anything.” complained mother as I walked over to Portentia.
After I had Portentia’s attention, I repeated my question.
Glancing at mother, she said, “Umm… I didn’t have anything that could hold them. The last one… could do things, so I wanted to get your parents somewhere safer.”
“Safer? My home isn’t even safe.” stated mother.
Father and Alma were walking into the room, but I still admitted “Actually, I had a security system installed here months ago. Aaliyah designed it, and I liked the idea of you two being protected.”
“Son, we turned the men away when they came to do the work. I had thought the idea was ridiculous at the time.” stated father.
“Sorry, but it’s still installed. I guarantee it.” I told them.
“What!?” demanded father.
“As you saw today, a little extra security doesn’t hurt.” I told him.
“What are you saying, son? You knew we might be attacked and didn’t warn us? How could you not have told us about her?” he inquired.
“I’m not prone to disclosing the secrets of others, father. You taught me that much.” I replied. “As far as your attack, I didn’t have a clue. When I had asked Aaliyah to have a security system installed here, I was being paranoid more than having any credible notion that you might be in danger.” I explained.
“Then how can you account for Portentia, your employee, conveniently being there?” he asked.
“Aaliyah assigned Portentia as protection for you while I was out of the country. She had anticipated another abduction attempt where I did not.” I replied.
“Another?” asked mother.
“Ai was recently abducted by someone opposed to me being close to your son.” stated Alma.
“And why did you never mention this?” demanded father. “Your employee isn’t even human, son. How could someone like her exist and work for you without you thinking of mentioning it to me?”
I sighed and said, “Because I’m having to keep an extraordinary number of secrets. Portentia’s secrets are quite clearly her own. Everybody has secrets, father. Becoming privy to a few does not give me the right to reveal them.”
“You didn’t have to tell me her secrets, son. You could have told me a person with such abilities existed without telling me anything about who had them.” he insisted.
“You actually think you would have believed me without some sort of evidence?” I asked.
He opened his mouth, shut it, and was obviously considering.
“Magic exists.” I stated, creating a light over my hand. “There’s something you can believe.”
My parents both stared, and mother reached out toward the light.
“And that is precisely why I didn’t tell you. Knowing about magic can be dangerous, especially for an inquisitive mind. You’ll reach out and poke things before understanding them.” I told them, changing the light to a fire briefly before dispersing it.
Father moved back as if to sit and started to fall, but Alma easily caught him. He stared at her incredulously for a moment before attempting to find his feet again.
“I agree that I probably should have told you sooner, but, as I’m sure you’re starting to imagine, there’s a great deal to tell. Shall we take this to the living room?” I suggested. Then I moved mother there at full speed while Alma gently followed with my father.
Portentia joined us a couple seconds afterward, while father and mother were still looking around in shock.
“How..?” asked father.
“You were carried. Alma and I are rather quick. As I had said, there’s a great deal to tell.” I insisted.
Father nodded, and mother stared at me as if she were wondering if I really were her son. I really had put this conversation off too long, but what would I have said? “Hey, pops, I’m a new man today.” wouldn’t really have cut it. This wouldn’t be easy for them to accept.