Mousy, quiet Mackenzie has grown up. Having children you love and protect will do that to you.
While they walked further out onto the Haven’s land, and around the saucer, Nichole began with herself. As Gil knew that, he remained silent. The part where, some years ago, she joined the Imperial Japanese AeroSpace Force and was given command of what was then an experimental ship, was new to him.
“And what’s her name?” Gil asked as they completed their circuit and had nearly returned to his back deck.
Nichole paused and looked away before coming close and taking his hands.
“Rahab,” she said softly. “I wanted to honor another machine who served you so well.”
“Thank you for that, Nichole,” he smiled at her.
“Mom!” Fifteen-year-old Erin called from the deck. “Why is Dad acting lovey-dovey with who you said was an old friend!”
“Because,” Mackenzie replied with a knowing smile while ruffling the hair of their eldest daughter, “before I married your father, my dearest friend, Miss Clarke there, was your father’s girlfriend. Oh, the things I had to listen to, those two, back in Portland State dorm!”
“Oh, gross!” Erin nearly gagged. “And you let this woman…!”
Hearing all the excitement, their other four children wandered out. Little Alix hid herself behind Kara.
“The Breakup…” Gil began, turning to face his family and resting his left hand on Nichole’s shoulder.
“The Change, you mean,” Erin interrupted.
“Yes. It was a strange time for us. All of us. A lot,” he looked significantly at Nichole, “of things happened. But never think that your mother isn’t the center of my life, along with you kids.”
“Please!” Joe sighed, rolling his eyes at the love talk. But his eyes came right back to their guest and didn’t stray, Gil saw.
“I, for one, am happy he had so much practice with her!” Mac laughed. “I guess that’s why the five of you came along so quickly!”
Erin retched and ran inside with her hand over her mouth. Mike laughed.
“I will admit,” Teresa finally inserted herself into their reunion, walking the three steps up to the deck and holding Mac’s hand while giving her a polite kiss, “that you are not the gray ghost I recall from the Accounting Department of the City.”
“We all had to grow up fast,” Mac said, holding her eyes. “Nichole treasured you, so I’ve learned to be strong, too.”
Teresa walked to a corner of the deck to not let them see her face.
“Is dinner…?” Mac asked Gil.
“Off,” he replied. They all looked up to hear the airplanes to the west, just over the coastline, headed north. “Well, kinda. We still have these two…”
“Joe!” Mac ordered. “Get wine for three. Kara? You and Alix check on the rolls in the oven and tell Erin to get herself together.”
The kids were gone and Mac waved at the table on the patio.
“So long as it doesn’t start raining, I think this will be fine…” she smiled.