Making Good Time

"And so yeah, we're going to be heading back upstate so we can actually do some training. I mean at least I am, I figure some of the others are. Niko and Gwen might want to run another session for teamwork or something and then T'Chantem said he'd be available for some fight training so yeah - going to be pretty busy." He held up and shook his phone. "But I'm bringing this with me this time, so no ghosting."

Jane gave him a smile from her bed. "Good, but remind me, T'Chantem is the..."

"The prince of Wakanda, yeah."

"Sorry I know you told me, but that's quite the tutor you have there."

Erik smiled as he got up from the bedside and checked the time on his phone. "Not really my tutor mom, just going to teach me a few pointers on the side. You sure it's okay I take the truck?"

Jane put a finger to her chin in an exaggerated fashion. "Hmm, well I was going to go to this old club that I used to hang out at while I was here. Oh and all of the other trips I take in secret while you're gone." She laughed warmly and held her arms out. Erik noticed they were just a bit thinner than before. "There's no trouble, but there is a hug tax," she added. Her son smiled and hugged his mother lightly. She gave him a big kiss on the cheek that he instinctively broke away from.

"And a kiss tip," she added.

He rubbed his cheek and smiled as he walked out. "I'll send a text when we get there."

"Have fun!" Jane called out as he left the room.

He fixed his red baseball cap on his head, swung his bag onto his back as he made his way out to the garage. He decided to err on the side of caution and pack extra shirts, pants, and just about everything given the last series of events at the facility. And of course now he also carried his umbrella by his side. He tossed the bag into the back and tied it down with zip cords but decided that maybe Thunderstrike shouldn't be left out in the open and so he carried it with him to the driver's seat, propping it up alongside him. The truck sparked to life with a gruff sound that eventually evened out to a normal purr. 'Alright,' he thought to himself, 'first stop Bleecker Street.' And with a swipe of an ID badge he was out into the NYC traffic.

~~~~

Theo sat on the stoop outfront of the Sanctum with her red duffel bag next to her. And on the duffel’s other side sat Niko, who looked like he was literally dying from stagnation.

“How long is this going to take?” He whined as if on cue. He thought he could busy himself by retying his shoes, but that took literally less than a second and he looked around for something else to do. Finding nothing, he busied himself by playing with the zipper on Theo’s duffle.

~~
*Flashback*
Theo was decked out in uneven pigtails and a mish-mash of colors she’d chosen herself. She tapped her feet rhythmically on the ground in patterns which only made sense to the beat in her head; ‘her own drum’ the teacher had said many times like it was some sort of insult. Her ten year old cousin sat beside her on the steps outside of the large house in New Hampshire, impatiently checking the road. “Don’t worry, Miskja, it’ll be here soon.”

"I wish I could just magic us away and we wouldn't need the stupid bus. But there's no such thing as magic," Theo replied, smoothing a few wrinkles in her brick red skirt.

Niko swore under his breath in Sokovian, neither confirming nor denying, but one thing was for certain, the damn school bus hadn’t shown up - again. “Come on, let’s walk. As it is, we’re going to be late.“
*/Flashback*
~~

His cousin, putting her hand atop his to stop him from zipping and unzipping the bag, brought Niko back to the present.

After an eternity (depending on who you were asking) a black SUV turned the corner and came to a stop in front of them. A tall, Hispanic man stepped out from the front passenger seat and opened the door behind him. Sam stepped out and thanked the gentleman. Another stepped out from the other side and opened the trunk, pulling out two large black duffle bags. After placing them on the sidewalk, the two shook hands with Sam and drove away.

“Good morning, you two. Enjoy the break?”

“I found my mind,” Theo beamed a smile at Sam

Niko squinted his eyes. He was fairly certain he and Sam were still not speaking, but at the time him and he weren’t speaking Niko and Theo also weren’t speaking so it wasn’t like he could ask his cousin to remind him. “Yes,” he grumbled. “Except for now, there’s too much waiting, and no, Miskja, that doesn’t mean I want to use the magic portal ring.”

Theo had gotten really good at pulling the Sling Ring out and making it ready for use. Faster than rich spoiled brats with daddy’s credit card, at any rate. But with Niko’s words she tucked the ring back into her coat. “It’s okay, Niko. We can keep waiting and take the slow way if you prefer. Whatever makes you happiest.” And she did sound genuinely willing to do it either way.

“Hmm. How long until the others arrive?” Sam asked as he looked up and down the sidewalk.

“Too long.” Niko complained, leaning back on his elbows and looking skyward.

“There are so many variables to consider for a question like that, Sam. How far away are the others? How fast are they traveling? Are they traveling at a steady rate of speed? Are they all traveling at identical rates of speed? Will any of them be stopping for churros?” Theo reached inside the other pocket of her coat and pulled out a shiny phone. “I’ll just call the future king of Wakanda and request he make a Churro stop. Anyone else want something? Niko? You hungry?” She held the device up in front of her like she was checking her makeup. “Call King of Wakanda.”

From around the corner a red truck slowly curled around a parked car. As if it recognized the sanctum and those out front it sped up a bit before pulling up to the curb a few feet further down the street.

Theo stuffed the phone back in her pocket. It seemed they really were going to let her call the King of Wakanda for such a trivial matter. Good to know. They were accepting her leadership again. “Niko, I need you to change T’Chantem’s contact in my phone. You showed me how, but… it’s hard. I want it to say, The Avenger formerly known as Prince. I’m prepared to pay you for your services.” From her sleeve Theo pulled out a ziplock baggie full of Niko’s favorite snacks: Doritos, M&M’s and even some almonds. “I’d like to see stupid David Blaine do that!”

“You made trail mix!” Niko said excitedly, reaching for the ziplock. His cousin warned him to ration it for the trip. It was good to have his Misja Brat back to her old self, and even better that they had got on so well during the stay at the Sanctum. He would even swear it was less of a dick to him this time.

From the front of the parked truck Erik popped out and began making his way back down the street. "Sorry guys, traffic was tight and my GPS took me down some weird side street. Anyone need me to take a bag?"

“Uber Thorson!” Theo jumped up and embraced the big man. “Don’t fight it, just take the hug.” She squeezed his neck and fought the urge to peck him on the cheek.

As if on cue came Gwen from around the corner. “I’m here! Sorry! Subway … delays …” She explained using her hands in a very animated fashion. “… and so damn HOT … It was like an oven!” She said fanning herself. “So we ready to go? I got an Iron Spider to work on! A security system to crack and … Oh! Will I get to learn to fly the Quinjet?” She said clearly over-excited about going back to the compound.

Sam hopped to his feet and grabbed both of his bags, “Erik! Gwen! How’s it going pals? Good to see we’re all back together. I missed you all.” He smiled as he put his bags in the truck. There was an unusual pep in his step today.

“Before we all pile into Erik’s truck and get all cozy close, does anyone have any questions or comments or concerns that they want to bring up. Maybe about the…” And Theo circled her finger around her temple a few times.

“Well I-” Erik started to say, but never finished the sentence.

"Mmmmm," Sam looked around to the others, "Nope. Just eager to get back North so we can get to work!"

“I’m glad you all are feeling more forgiving than you…” A look from Niko and she cut herself short. “It’s very kind of you. Alright so I’ll ask a question because I’m a bit concerned about it. Sam, who the heck were those guys in the black truck you were all chummy with and what did they want?”

OOC: Joint Post between the Team

< Prev : When a Prince and a god MET pt. II (T'Chantem & Erik) Next > : Making Good Time with a Few Potholes