a/n: Welcome to the third and final installment of the Powers Saga trilogy. The illustrator for this story is the amazing Carla Howes. Thanks for reading!
Who would have thought babies cried so much? Not that Bolin wasn’t expecting crying. He had read and re-read all the parenting books he and Tenna bought at least fifty times. What he wasn’t expecting was the ear-piercing, roof-rattling shrieks that Mica produced instead of normal baby whimpers. Seriously? How the heck could something so small make such a big noise?
Bolin jammed his head under the pillow. Maybe if he wished really, really hard Mica would stop crying.
No good. Tenna nudged him. Hard. “It’s your turn.”
Bolin looked over at her with bloodshot eyes. It couldn’t really be his turn already. Could it? “But I thought you were going to do the four am feeding.” His voice came out more like a plea.
Tenna barely budged. “I did. It’s six am.” She kept her eyes closed, but Bolin could see little tension lines on her forehead.
“Right. I knew that.” He rose slowly and shuffled zombie-style down to their small kitchen. Outside their little apartment Republic city bustled. Bolin watched the cars speed by as his hands moved in a familiar routine. Open fridge. Get milk. Put milk in bottle. Warm. Shake. Test. Ow! Too hot. Wait a minute. Grab Shadow’s breakfast. Go to back yard. Greet Shadow. Get bowled over by Shadow. Get licked by Shadow. Feed Shadow. Return inside. Trip over Pabu. Get Pabu’s breakfast. Feed Pabu. Scrub hands and face in sink. Eeek! Water too cold. Test bottle again. Head back upstairs.
Bolin paused at the stairs. Was that the doorbell? Who the heck thought now was a good time to visit? Only one way to find out, he supposed.
Bolin opened the door.
“Hiya Bolin!” He shoved his way in, a sizable, square-shaped something in his arms. “I just came by to show you my latest invention.
“Right now?” Probably not his smartest comeback. A smart person would have told Varrick to take a hike and come back after Bolin at least had a chance to change out of his pajamas. But hey, he was going on six weeks without a decent night’s sleep.
“I was going to swing by earlier but Zhu Li told me that might be rude, what with the baby being asleep and all. Is that her I hear? Man, what a set of lungs!”
“Um… yeah I was just…” He indicated the bottle in his hands.
“Oh, by all means!” Varrick gave him a permissive gesture. “Can’t let the little tike go hungry.”
“Okay then…” Bolin scratched his head and dragged himself back up the stairs. Maybe he’d be lucky and Varrick would actually get the hint and come back later like a normal, non-crazy human being.
“Why is Varrick ringing our doorbell at six in the morning?” Tenna asked when he arrived in the nursery. She was slumped in a rocker with Mica howling in her arms.
“I dunno. Something about some new invention.”
Bolin handed her the bottle and for a brief wonderful moment their baby actually went quiet. Thank the stars for feeding time.
“Oh, I see.” mused Tenna with a very distinct undertone of pissed-off. She stood and set Mica in his arms. “Well, I hope for his sake it’s made of gold… otherwise it’s going to be scrap.”
She whisked out of the room, robe fluttering, faster then he could say “Wait–don’t–”
Thank goodness Mica was a voracious eater.
Her bottle finished, Bolin hurried after his wife, burp cloth over one shoulder, Mica still in his arms.
He came downstairs to find Tenna in a combustion-bending battle stance and Varrick standing protectively in front of his invention, arms outstretched, sweat pouring down his face.
“Ah, Bolin, there you are. I don’t suppose you’d mind talking some sense into your beautiful wife?” He grinned sheepishly at Tenna.
Bolin sighed. Whether he “minded” or not was irreverent. Varrick just sorta expected him to “do the thing” like he did everyone else. Never mind that Bolin actually agreed with Tenna and thought Varrick deserved an explosive reminder that six am was not the time to come barging into a house with an infant and two very tired, very cranky new parents.
He looked to Tenna and she back at him. Bolin knew darn well she wouldn’t use her combustionbending in the house. Especially not with Mica nearby. A thought struck him. He knew… but Varrick didn’t.
“I don’t know Varrick. It’s awfully early. I don’t think the sense-talking part of my brain is awake yet…”
Tenna gave an approving half-smile and drew just enough breath to make the mark on her forehead glow.
Varrick started to sweat harder. “Okay, okay point taken. No more visits before noon, I swear!”
Tenna eased out of her stance. Though still exhausted, she seemed in a much better mood now that her complaint had been addressed so effectively.
“Right then. Now that that’s settled. What’s this new invention of yours?”
Varrick mopped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. “Glad you asked.” He stepped aside revealing an odd wooden and metal box with what looked to be a cloudy piece of glass in one side. There were knobs and switches on the front too. Tenna turned one curiously.
“It’s a box,” she said.
“Not just any box… a picturebox! Or PB for short.”
PB? Bolin mused. Isn’t that also short for peanut butter? He was tempted to point that out, but decided he was to tired to care what silly name Varrick gave his new toy.
Tenna continued to fiddle with the knob. “Where are the pictures?”
Varrick grinned and pointed to his head. “Right up here!
I’ve already got a contract with The Future Industries. Once your friend Asami’s finished laying the groundwork we’ll be able to hook up pictureboxes in every home across the four nations!”
“That’s um…great Varrick but… you still haven’t answered my question.”
Varrick looped an arm around Tenna’s shoulders. “Okay, imagine a mover. Are you imagining?”
“Now imagine people being able to watch that mover… in the comfort of their own homes! There’s no traffic, no chances of not getting a seat,” he winked at Bolin “No having to drag the little ones out in the cold. And the best part… no time limit! With the picturebox we can make series that go on for months not hours. And if there is extra space we can use it to advertise! Isn’t that great! We’re gonna be rich! Well you are. I’m going to be richer! But still!”
“Rich?” Tenna looked to Bolin, wondering perhaps how bombarding people with ads was somehow going to make them rich. As it was, even with the Nuktuk royalties, they could barely afford the roof over their heads, let alone some fancy new Varrick industries merchandise.
Varrick must have seen this in their eyes because he straightened and cleared his throat. “Of course! Who do you think is going to be staring in all those shows and advertisements…”
“Um… us,” Bolin offered.
“You bet your bottom dollar! Heck, in a few months you can even bring Mica along. An adorable little face like that will sell thousands of diapers,” he came over to Bolin’s side and made cute cooing noises at Mica as he tickled under her chin. “Isn’t that right. Yes it is!”
Mica smiled and gripped Varrick’s finger.
What if he was right? What if this new invention was a stepping-stone to a better future? They could afford a nice house with a big yard for Shadow. Oo or even better, Tenna could have her own kennel. She always wanted to try breeding and showing eel-hounds as a hobby. And Mica could have hobbies too, when she got old enough. They would be able to afford whatever classes she wanted. Heck, they could even send her Republic City Prep. That place offered a great education.
“So whatdoya say? Can I count on you guys when the time comes?” Varrick asked.
Bolin’s head was spinning. All these wonderful things he never had the chance to have growing up. He could give them to his daughter. All thanks to his dramatic flare and a silly little box. Stranger things had happened.
“You bet!” He looked to Tenna. He didn’t make a point of answering for her but he hoped desperately they would agree on this.
His wife scratched her chin. “So this box can make us rich, huh?” she laughed. “Good thing I didn’t blow it up.”