"More Than Blood"
[Sunday, May 4, 2015]
"Nervous?" Hannah asked,
wrapping an arm around Danso.
"More like freaking out," he admitted.
His stomach was tying itself in knots.
"What if something goes wrong?"
"Nothing will go wrong," Hannah said.
"Everything is already agreed. This is
just a chance to formalize the agreements,
like a wedding. If something does go wrong,
then we'll deal with it together, as a family."
It was a much bigger family now than
the one Danso had grown up with.
He had Hannah, of course, along with
Hadyn, Lakia, Nathaniel, and Rosita.
He also had Amada Durante with
her sons Eduardo, Fernán, and Gil.
Faramundo had not come, which
surprised nobody. He wasn't
in favor of the blended family,
but he had gotten overruled.
Nathaniel's grandmother was there
to become everyone's grandmother.
Piotr was there as their lawyer.
Aidan and Saraphina had come
with him for moral support.
"There are so many people,"
Danso said, tugging at his tie.
"Of course there are," Hannah said.
"Family is more than blood."
"I don't want to forget Mama,"
Danso said, his voice hitching.
"You won't," Hannah promised.
"We'll all remember her together,
and the judge knows what to say."
Danso was so wound up
that most of the ceremony
just went by in a blur.
He remembered walking into
the SPOON courtroom with
Judge Gavel presiding and
Docket taking notes, because
Family Services let soups
handle some superkid stuff.
Then they all sat down
and the speeches began.
The words just flowed
over Danso like rain.
Then he and Eduardo
took Rosita's hands
to help her toddle down
the aisle to the judge.
More talk about how
two families became one
and agreed to share Rosita.
Then it was his turn.
"Henceforth, Danso Ward
is the son of Hannah Patterson,
inherited from Imani and Darius Ward,"
Judge Gavel announced clearly.
When he got to the younger kids,
the judge said, "... siblings,
children of Hannah Patterson,
inherited from Danso Ward,"
and Danso fell apart.
Hannah just held him
and let him cry.
When they went
back to their seats,
though, Danso couldn't
stop sobbing and it was
hard for him to breathe.
He felt dizzy and everything
was starting to turn awful.
"Let me help?" Aidan offered.
Danso was too overwhelmed
to speak, so he just grabbed
Aidan and clung for dear life.
"Shh, it will be all right,"
Aidan said, smoothing
a hand over Danso's head
and all the way down his back.
The flood of emotions began
to subside, and finally Danso
could lift his head and take
a breath without choking.
"Congratulations," Piotr said.
"You are officially a family."
A giddy laugh bubbled up.
"Yeah, we are," Danso said.
"Cool," Lakia said, unwrapping
her tail to wave it in the air.
"Now can we have cake?"
The adults laughed too,
a swift release of tensions.
"By all means," Mom said,
"let there be cake!"
She led everyone to
another room already
set up for the reception.
The cake was decorated
with a tree full of birds
and butterflies over
a banner that read,
We Are Family!
Inside were four layers
of chocolate sandwiched
with cream cheese icing
and strawberry jam.
"Well, go on," said Hannah,
handing him the knife. "Cut
the cake. You started all this."
Danso vision blurred, and
he had to blink hard to clear it.
He cut the cake, then presented
the first slice to his new mother.
"To our family," he said,
"more than blood, but
every bit as precious."
* * *
The Muffler (Hannah Patterson) -- She has straight black hair now streaked with silver, hazel eyes blending brown and green, and tan skin. Hannah works for SPOON, raising children with superpowers who need foster or adoptive care. Her usual limit was two at a time, but she has just taken on a set of five siblings-of-choice.
Origin: Her powers grew in slowly over time. As more children began to manifest superpowers, she realized that her gifts could help them when nobody else could, so she became a foster mother.
Uniform: Street clothes. Hannah usually wears a light colored top with darker pants or skirt, and sometimes a cardigan over the top.
Qualities: Master (+6) Foster Mom, Expert (+4) Eyes in the Back of Her Head, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Never Mess with the Mommy, Good (+2) Pillar of the Local Church, Good (+2) Sports Fan, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Love Life
Powers: Good (+2) Power Nullification, Average (0) Empathy
Motivation: Love makes a house a home.
Blankie (Danso Ward) -- He has milk chocolate skin, nappy brown hair cut close, and brown eyes. He grows a faint shadow of moustache to make himself look older. Danso is homosexual. Although he grew up with a loving mother, she died and left him with a much less tolerant uncle. Danso successfully hid his superpowers, but at sixteen he got caught kissing another boy, after which his uncle kicked him out. He survived on the street, collecting a group of other young soups.
Currently Danso lives in Onion City with his foster mother, the Muffler (Hannah Patterson). This reorganization of family structure has left him with four younger siblings: Boomer (Hadyn Kennedy), Whipcrack (Lakia Collins), Howl (Nathaniel), and Poof (Rosita Consuela Durante).
Origin: His ability to interact with other people's superpowers arrived with puberty.
Uniform: Street clothes. He tends to dress in faded, secondhand clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Dutiful, Good (+2) Family Man, Good (+2) Streetwise, Good (+2) Thief, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Letting Go
Powers: Good (+2) Power Manipulation
This meta-power includes such uses as detecting, tracing, enhancing, suppressing, and copying other people's superpowers.
Limitation: Because Danso is so young, he doesn't have much control or strength yet. His abilities are clearly still growing in, and can be erratic.
Motivation: Family comes first.
Boomer (Hadyn Kennedy) -- She has wavy blond hair past her shoulders, brown eyes, and golden-fair skin. Her ability to explode and reform her body has made her anxious and skittish, because she can't control it much. She clings to Danso as a protector and an anchor. Hadyn particularly enjoys jumping rope and has taught Lakia how to do it. She is currently eleven years old.
Origin: Her superpowers manifested at ten, when her father sexually abused her. Neither he nor their house survived the incident. Hadyn fled and lived on the street alone until she met Danso.
Uniform: Street clothes. Hadyn likes girl clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cute, Good (+2) Girl Stuff, Good (+2) Survivor
Poor (-2) Sexual Abuse Trauma
Powers: Average (0) Regeneration, Average (0) Self-Detonation
Motivation: Avoid conflict.
Whipcrack (Lakia Collins) -- She has tightly curled brown hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. Her parents are drug addicts, which led to her placement in foster care. She is six years old when she meets Danso. Lakia looks up to Hadyn.
Origin: A boy in her foster home had the Power Bestowal gift; he gave her a tail that can generate a neural strike. She ran away before anything worse could happen.
Uniform: Street clothes. She dislikes girl clothes, preferring to dress as a boy.
Qualities: Good (+2) Fast Learner, Good (+2) Fierce, Good (+2) Tomboy
Poor (-2) Self-Destructive
Powers: Average (0) Nerve Blast, Average (0) Prehensile Tail
Howl (Nathaniel) -- He has limp curly brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin. He's pudgy with baby fat. Nathaniel is allergic to wool and a lot of other things. This makes him a fussy eater and reluctant to try new foods. He is often cranky; even with his Super-Senses damped down, the environment is overwhelming for him. His experience of abandonment makes him clingy with his new family.
Origin: He was born with his powers, and his mother abandoned him when he was three because of them. First Danso and later the Muffler take care of Nathaniel, keeping his Super-Senses turned down so they don't bother him as much.
Uniform: Play clothes. He needs smooth, soft, tagless, seamless clothes as much as possible. He detests shoes and socks, always trying to kick them off.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cautious, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Loud
Poor (-2) Allergies
Powers: Average (0) Super-Senses
Vulnerability: Sensory processing disorder. Either Nathaniel lacks the required auxiliary powers that make Super-Senses bearable or they just haven't grown in yet.
Motivation: To stay with people.
Poof (Rosita) -- She has straight black hair and her skin holds a faint hint of golden-brown. Her eyes are still baby blue but will probably turn brown. Because of her teleporting, nobody knows her family or her birth name right now. She looks Hispanic so Danso called her Rosita. (Her given name is Consuela.) She loves to be tickled, and has already learned to associate that as a reward if she stays quiet during a diaper change.
Origin: She was born with her powers. She teleported away from her parents and wound up with Danso and later the Muffler too.
Uniform: Baby clothes. She already shows a clear fondness for pink.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adorable, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Smart
Poor (-2) Unknown Family
Powers: Average (0) Teleportation, Average (0) Danger-Sense
Limitation: Her use of powers is instinctive at this stage, not under conscious control. She tends to teleport when startled, frightened, or lonely.
Motivation: To be loved.
Gavel (Conrad Sorenson) -- He has russet skin, brown eyes, and black hair. His head is completely bald and he has a thin line of beard and mustache. He is tall with a powerful build. Conrad is conservative, and doesn't always deal well with the more liberal or expressive elements of society. He works for SPOON because they need someone to handle cases involving superpowers.
Origin: He began by studying law, and worked his way up from lawyer to judge. He developed the Moral Compass there. One day he got arrested for Driving While Black. The judge in traffic court was racist. His Truth Sense manifested and he started reading aloud all sorts of facts that it revealed to him about the judge, the police, and everyone else in the room. They couldn't cut him loose fast enough.
Uniform: On duty, black judge robe over an ivory button-up shirt. Off duty, usually a conservative business suit, dark over a light shirt. He rarely dresses more casually than a colorful polo shirt with neutral trousers.
Qualities: Master (+6) Judge, Expert (+4) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Trustworthy
Poor (-2) Stuffy
Powers: Master (+6) Truth Sense, Good (+2) Moral Compass
Motivation: To see that justice is done.
Docket (Pamela Wright) -- She has light brown skin, brown eyes, and straight brown hair usually pulled into a bun at the nape of her neck. She has a teardrop-shaped face and a slender body. She wears reading glasses with small dark frames. Pamela is married with four children (oldest daughter 9, younger daughter 8, twin sons 7). She runs an Activity Scout troop for her children and their friends.
Docket works as a court clerk, also volunteering at a community court for restorative justice where her telepathy is available upon request. She is particularly adept at sensing truth or lies. Through SPOON, she makes herself available as a superpower coach to people who are developing telepathy or related abilities. She helps Derreck Refferson and his K-9 Blitz learn how to handle their new powers.
Origin: Her superpower manifested during a court session in which the defendant was lying and thinking very loudly about the divergence from truth. It may have been activated, or at least assisted, from contact with other telepaths since their court handled a lot of soup cases.
Uniform: On duty, she wears a business suit, often entirely in black. Off duty, she wears elegant women's fashion.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Court Clerk, Expert (+4) Smart, Good (+2) Activity Scout Leader, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Jigsaw Puzzles, Good (+2) Meticulous, Good (+2) Superpower Coach
Powers: Expert (+4) Telepathy
Motivation: To get things right.
* * *
"Family is more than blood."
-- Shannan Martin
Foster care and adoption can create mixed-race families.
Danso's family adoption cake looks like this on the outside and like this on the inside. It resembles this recipe, minus the coffee.