It had been weighing on his mind a lot lately, the idea of family. The three of them had really settled in by their third year in the house. Lilly was staying the night at a friend's house. Delia was sound asleep, curled up around a pillow, almost at the very edge of the bed. He turned on his side to watch her sleep. She had become a very strong mother to a very willful teenager despite the fact that she was still a teenager herself. Nineteen years old, guardian to a fourteen-year-old. It made him both sad and proud simultaneously. She should be able to enjoy her life freely, not worrying about how even her smallest decisions effected the two other people at home.
He must've had a mother somewhere. Did she die in the place he came from? Was her hair red like his? Did he inherit his green eyes from her? Or maybe from his father. Lilly had gotten Collin's nose and Molly's jawline. Where did Alden's height come from? He'd been wondering about that as of late.
Delia sat up and dropped her pillow on the floor.
"You okay?" Alden asked and she turned to smile at him.
"Just fine," she lied and stood up.
She'd had a nightmare about her mother. She walked into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. She didn't realize he'd followed her from the bedroom. He placed a hand on her shoulder and she jumped.
"Hey, what's the matter?" Her lip started to tremble and she leaned into his chest.
She hadn't had that dream in several months. In it, her mother is twisting her hair for her. She's very small, sitting on a stool in the ice cream shop. She looks at her mother in the mirror and smiles. Then, she looks down to the floor and it's covered in blood. When she looks back in the mirror, her mother's eyes are closed. That's when she wakes up.
Alden wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head.
"You want to play that game?" He asked her.
She nodded and went to unplug all of the lamps. Alden made the furniture move against the walls to open up space for them.
"Okay, throw the pillow at me as hard as you can," Alden said.
She did. He stopped it half way between them and it dropped to the ground.
"It feels so unfair when you only play defensive," she said and picked the pillow up off the ground.
"Okay, let me try something different," he said.
He'd gotten a feel for what it was he could do exactly. He could pick something up and set it down like he would with his hands, but throwing items was still a struggle. However, he also noticed that when he blocked something, it was like he put up a shield. So far, his shields were all flat and shock absorbent. He'd been trying to shape them differently. He was going to try to make it round and elastic.
She threw the pillow. It slowed as it came closer to him than previously, then it flung itself back towards her. The pillow landed at her feet with a dull thud.
"That was different," she laughed.
He shrugged his shoulders, then ran towards her. She squealed, but he caught her and swept her off her feet and carried her back to their room.
"You were awake when I woke up," she said later as she drew circles on his shoulder. "What were you thinking about?"
"My mother," he sighed. "She's either dead, or she's out there somewhere."
He pulled his fingers through her curls and let them bounce back in place.
"Do you think Lu and Collin might know where she is?"
"Something tells me they'd keep that from me if they did find her," he said.
"I can't believe we still haven't heard from them," she yawned.
"They're keeping us safe be staying away," he said.
"Do you have any memories from before Lu found you?" She asked.
He shook his head.
"I've been trying to remember the past, but it's just blank. I was very young when they took me in."
They slept peacefully through the night, a rain storm raging outside of their home.
The sound of a crash and broken glass woke them from their sleep.
"Stay here," Alden whispered and stood from their bed.
He slipped his feet into a pair of sandals by the door and quietly crept down the hall towards the living room. A shadow moved in the kitchen. Shoulders slumped, dripping wet. Whoever it was, they ripped drawers out and slammed them shut all around the kitchen. Alden readied a shield to block the intruder in the kitchen.
"It isn't as if I'm trying to hide my presence," the voice was familiar. "Turn on the light, kid, and help me out."
The light flickered on.
"You've gotten better at that little trick you do," Collin smiled.
Alden was confused. He hadn't turned on the light.
"Dad!" Delia ran towards him and threw her arms around him.
He flinched, but hugged her nonetheless.
"You're bleeding," she cried and pulled him into the living room.
He was a wreck. His clothes were torn. He hadn't shaved in months. He'd gotten himself shot. Probably led them here. He shouldn't have come here.
"Hey kid, do you think you could take the bullet out of my side?" Collin asked as Delia helped him lie down on their sofa.
"There's a bullet lodged in my side, just over my right hip. Don't think it hit any vitals. Do you think you could Jedi mind trick the thing out of me?"
Delia eyed her father angrily.
"You don't make contact with us for three years and you show up now, injured and asking for favors?"
"Sweetie, we can fight about all of this later. Right now, please let your boyfriend save your daddy's life."
"What?" Collin coughed.
"We're married, remember? And you're not dying. If you bleed out on my sofa and Lilly comes home to be traumatized, I'll kill you."
"Lilly's not here?" He asked as Alden tried to differentiate the bullet from his muscle and tissue.
He'd done something similar when Lilly had lost an earring at the beach. Tiny piece of metal in an endless mass of sand. How could he possibly find that? He placed his hand on the beach. He could feel the sand, almost get a taste for its makeup. He stretched a field out over the beach, and there it was. The thing unlike the rest. He picked it up between his fingertips and dropped it in Lilly's palm.
He stretched out a field over Collin. There was the bullet. But, he couldn't pull it out with his fingers. And, it wasn't like setting a lamp down on a tabletop. He had to mentally map out the path that originally placed the bullet in its current location. He slowly moved the bullet backwards. Collin made a hissing noise and latched on to Delia's arm. She squeezed back, a tear dripping down her cheek. The bullet was out. Everyone sighed a breath of relief. Collin pressed the towels he'd stolen from the kitchen against his side.
"Lilly needs to stay at her friend's," Collin said through his teeth. "She's safer there."