Janice was beyond thrilled this crisp Saturday afternoon. She had been cooking all morning in anticipation of lunch, singing along to Spotify and practically sashaying every step she took. She twirled her way between the oven and the counter, did two-steps over to the sink, and dipped herself (her husband wasn’t interested in dancing) when she stooped to retrieve produce from the fridge. While she was generally a joyful person, today she was overflowing with positivity. Her boys were coming to lunch.

Many families have weekend get-togethers, there’s nothing particularly uncommon about that. Grown kids who left home would come over and enjoy company while sipping beer and eating home-made bean dip, lamenting over job woes or sharing family stories. Mom and dad would bask in the lives of their children, awash in their fortunes and trying to shoulder some of their burdens with supportive words. Sure, most families enjoy time together on the weekends.

Janice’s family was not like that.

As much as Janice wanted it to be, her family was never the close-knit clan that she had dreamed of. The two boys, her darling children, had fought their entire lives and especially would be fighting if one even caught a whiff of the other. Her husband, Ted, had all but given up on creating that tight bond amongst his children and wife, but Janice had never allowed herself to write it off. And finally, after years of trying to broker peace between her two sons, they had agreed to come to the house at the same time and enjoy a meal she was preparing.

As she was pulling mouth-watering pork steaks from the oven, she heard the front door open and shut. Her husband’s voice in the hall mingled with her oldest son’s and her heart jumped into her throat with excitement. She abandoned the steaks on the counter, tossing her oven mitts beside them, and went to the hall.

“Oh, my little Lancelot!” she said as she embraced her son. He towered over her by a head and a half, but she never gave up the nickname she gave him as a small child. His blond hair was cut neatly and chiseled chin shaved clean. He wore a smart blue button-up with pressed khakis and his strong arms wrapped tightly around his mother.

“Hi, Mom,” he said as he gently squeezed the woman. “It’s good to see you.”

“Oh, it’s so good to see you,” she replied, still holding the hug. “How are you?”

“I’m good, real good,” Lance replied as he let go of his mother. She still clung to him. “Just came from Europe. Portugal. Made good time getting here.”

“What were you doing there, son?” asked Ted. “We didn’t see anything on the news.”

“Nothing big, wouldn’t have made the news, I don’t think,” Lance replied. “Small oceanic incursion they asked me to check out. Didn’t take much time. Not very exciting. The Atlanteans just pushing their boundaries.”

“Troublemakers, the whole lot of them,” said Janice, finally releasing her son. Lance laughed.

“I happen to know some very kind Atlanteans,” he said. “Their politicians are just flexing some muscle. Not like we humans are immune to those tendencies.”

“Always seeing the best of people,” said Ted as he clapped his boy on the shoulder.

“We humans,” came a voice oozing with loathing from the direction of the kitchen. The family turned to face its owner to find Janice’s other son, Solomon, standing before them. He was dressed in a dark cape attached to his shoulders with metal pauldrons adorned with red dragons. The pauldrons he wore over jet black body armor with matching pants. On his feet were heavy metallic boots and on his hands were carbonado gauntlets. His black hair was covered by a silver helmet adorned with a glowing red orb in the forehead. His expression was hard as he looked at the family. Janice was impressed he was able to enter without being heard. “As though one such as you could be considered human,” he continued.

Ted sighed. Janice, determined not to let things start off like this, patted Lance on the chest and beamed at Solomon.

“Sol!” she said, cheerily. “Oh my baby boy, it’s so good to see you!” She rushed over to him and gave him a hug, squeezing him tight. He remained rather rigid, but reached up and returned the embrace.

“Hi, Mom,” he said. “Hi, dad.” Janice waited a moment, hoping that he would extend a greeting to Lance, but when he remained silent for a couple more beats, she broke the hug and looked into her younger son’s eyes.

“Would you please say hello to your brother? You promised you would try to get along.”

Sol sighed. “Hi, Lance,” he said, straining.

“Hi, Sol,” said Lance. “I, uh, like your uniform.”

“It’s battle armor,” Sol corrected him.

“I know,” Lance replied, nodding.

“Yes, you do, don’t you?” sneered Sol. “You’ve seen it in action, felt its effects first-hand. You’ve enjoyed the blast of Lethix energy-”

“And I still stopped y-”

“That’s enough, Lance, Sol,” said Janice, sensing the tension rise. “The shop talk stays outside. No Alpha-Omega talk today. We’re going to have a nice chat about the weather and our hobbies and our girlfriends and television and it will be fun.”

“Your mother’s right,” said Ted. “She’s made a fantastic meal and it’s going to be great.”

The two boys glared at one another, but nothing more antagonistic was said.

“Sounds good, mom,” Sol said as he turned to walk to the kitchen.

“Sure does,” Lance agreed.

Janice smiled. It didn’t matter to her that her children weren’t the best of friends as adults. It didn’t matter to her that Lance had been blasted with other-worldly radiation which gave him god-like superpowers. It didn’t matter that Solomon had devised a way to tap into and manipulate the energies of another world. It didn’t matter that Lance was a superhero and Solomon was a supervillain. It didn’t even matter that they were arch-enemies.

What mattered was that they were home with her and their father and that they were going to enjoy a nice meal together. Janet would work on getting them to care for one another again. And if their house was still standing by the end of the day, then this day will have been the best day Janice could recall in a long, long time.


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