Jason Sullivan - Teacher
Jason simply smiled warmly as one-by-one the younger generation were whisked away onto the dancefloor, whether willingly or not. All the people dancing seemed to move with such grace, even if they did not the crowd hid any bad dancers. It made him genuinely happy to see so many people having fun, despite the massive cost of the affair. He was especially glad for the students. The vast majority of them had worked extremely hard, they deserved their places and should be proud, and he really felt that. Those who didn't try hard but still made it...would probably be dead soon anyway. The sudden dark thought caught the old soldier off-guard and he shook it away, finding the eyes of his wife, whom had obviously seen the change in his expression, even if it was slight. The two smiled, before turning back to their respective conversations simultaneously.
It was just himself and Broker left now, the only man who had seniority over him that still lived. A little part of him was thankful for not being the oldest one present. Somehow it made him feel young again. Such a ridiculous notion. He cast it aside instantly. For a while the two eldest just simply looked out at the slowly moving crowd and he spied his two children both out there, dancing together. He already knew what had happened. Sarah had expressed her wish to dance, but was always going to be far too shy to ask anyone. Mary-Ann, being the kind mother she was, had suggested Matt do his gentlemanly duty and escort his sister to the dance floor. Matthew, in his foolish youth, had protested, still believing he could win an argument with Mary-Ann. He was quickly defeated and given his marching orders. And so there they were. Sarah enjoying the music, the dresses, the uniforms. Matthew, shuffling awkwardly, red-cheeked and out of place. Sullivan let out a chuckle.
It was the that Broker turned to him, that classic Decker trademark grin on his face.
“They grow up so fast, don’t they?”, he chuckled, before glancing back at Ace, “God… isn’t he just the spitting image of Magnus?”
Sullivan chuckled in tandem, nodding with agreement, like they were two school boys playing a trick. At the mention of Ace, Jason turned his gaze to the young man, quietly humming another agreement.
"Aye, very much like his father, and in so many ways," with his head still facing the dance floor, Sullivan brought his gaze back to Broker, a sort of wistful look in his eyes "You know, sometimes, in my old age, I...I forget for a second," he put his eyes back on Ace "I look at him and for a moment, just a moment, I think Magnus is standing right there. In the flesh. Like a man who'd just shrugged off an explosion and had been making his way back all this time. Isn't that just crazy?" he finished and shifted back toward Broker.
There was a short pause in which, for the first time in what may very well have been his entire life, Broker didn’t have anything to say.
He tried, for a few long seconds, to orchestrate his thoughts into some reassuring words, but instead, his efforts were rewarded only by the presence of a very short, but very pensive, silence.
Eventually, however, he mustered enough positivity to speak again, and placed a hand reassuringly on Sullivan’s shoulder.
Then, he turned to look out at Jack- hoping that Sullivan would track his gaze.
”Do you know why I called the boy Jack, Sullivan?”, he asked, as his eyes softened with the presence of reminiscence, ”Because sometimes… I forget, too. And I look at him, brimming with confidence and, frankly, an unfair amount of youth, and I just can’t help but see Fox when he was that young. That free.”
He squeezed Sullivan’s shoulder gently, ”Take it from the archaeologist, Badger. There’s no harm done in treasuring the past,” he assured him, before chuckling, ”Haha, especially not when you’re our age, and you practically helped build a chunk of it!”
Sullivan knew that hadn't been the answer Broker was expecting, but it just kind of slipped out, he wasn't sure why. Still, he could mark one thing off his Bucket List; 'Render a Decker speechless'. He was quite proud of that momentary achievement. Jason jumped a little when the older man placed a hand upon his shoulder, having not except, but dutifully followed his gaze to Jack. He was right again really. The boy was so full of life, brimming with potential and ability. It did his heart good to see such life. Reminded him what the fight was all about. His face turned to a smile again.
"Once again the Decker charm has worked its magic," he started, appreciating the almost affectionate use of his old codename "You're absolutely right. I'm sorry for my untoward comments. Still..."
He turned back to see a little scuffle unfold between Julian and Matthew, one which ended as quickly as it started. The old teacher did not even make an attempt to move, he simply arched an eyebrow. He was impressed with how far Julian had come too. The boy was leaps and bounds ahead of his former self. Good. The boy could do with a little more self confidence. And the way Jack coolly handled being accosted by a drunkard was equally impressive. He changed from a fighting frame of mind back to that of dancing almost instantly. Sullivan had seen the alterations. Although he was rather disappointed by the change of music. Classic waltzing was bad enough. But swing? He almost rolled his eyes at how old fashioned the army still was. Surely some good ultra-post-modern pop was in order? Still, it gave him something to laugh about.
"...Speaking of like-father-like-son," he nodded his head back to Jack "I see your boy has taken on all the charms of the Decker family. Bothersome wit, annoyingly good with women, and horrible taste in music to boot. So unfortunate," an almost childish smile had found its way to his face.
Broker, too, had been watching the scuffle, more curious than he was truly concerned.
It was true, Jack had inherited much from him: But the tolerance he was exhibiting certainly not one of them.
In his youth, Jack had certainly drawn his personality from the American side of the family: He’d been just as eager to prove his worth with his fists as he had been with his words.
But it seemed that the time the academy had given him to develop had taken that in an entirely new direction: The ease in which he returned to dancing was not a trait the Decker line had given him, but was almost definitely the influence of his mother’s genes- The Stones, of Irish descent.
The situation was defused quickly enough, and soon the dancers once again obscured the sight of the scuffle, and Broker folded his arms across his chest in consideration.
”Do you think I should go and find that kid’s dad?”, he asked, as he turned his gaze back to Sullivan, and stroking the stubble on his chin, ”I mean, I had no trouble finding his mom!”, he chuckled, for a second time.
He eventually settled, and nodded, ”Yeah… the kid’s a chip off of the old block,”, he grinned, jabbing Sullivan playfully with his elbow, [Color="#438D80"]”And that terrifies me.”
Sullivan's face had become plain, as it did whenever he entered into dry humour. He always had his role to play in the little comedy duo which they had slowly developed over the years. Old people had to do something too in order to occupy their time after all.
"Well if you do could you make sure to clean up after yourself this time?" his tone was almost emotionless "I am tired of cleaning stains off the wall. And I mean that for whichever you go looking for."
He returned the elbow jabs with an overly exaggerated, but all in jest, roll of the eyes and loud sigh.
"Well yes, the world can barely sustain one Decker. Heaven help us now that two have been set loose upon this existence."
Sullivan went to carry on with the act they had going on, looking forward to making more jokes. But suddenly he was interrupted by a short, sharp, cough from behind. He turned, with difficulty, in his chair to look up at the interloper. There was Mrs. Sullivan, auburn hair and green eyes, a face still rosy-cheeked and young. Her arms were on her hips, which meant someone was in for trouble. Fortunately she was looking over to him and straight at his fellow in bad comedy. Jason swivelled back and sunk slightly in his chair, a sly look on his face.
"Mr. Decker," Mary-Ann started, her Irish accent obvious but soft. Her tone of voice was like that of a school teacher "What excuse do we have this time for a lack of visiting our cottage? Perhaps you don't like the food is it?"
Uh-oh, Broker knew what that look meant.
Like an abused, Dickensian orphan, he removed his imaginary flat cap, and wrung it regretfully in his hands as his eyes dropped to the floor.
”Sorry, Ma,” he apologised, with that familiar satirical tone of his, ”I didn’t mean to cause no trouble, no way, no how!”
With that, he grinned, relinquishing his invisible headwear, ”I’m getting forgetful in my old age, Mary-Ann,” he explained, ”But if you really miss me that much… I’ll start leaving notes on the refrigerator, shall I?”
With a soft laugh, Broker lowered himself into a seat, adjacent to Jason, leaning his Mesoamerican cane against the nearby table, ”But now we’re on the subject, other than missing me dearly, how have the family been?”
Mary-Ann gave a look that was somehow half-disapproving and half-amused as a laugh escaped her own lips. Slowly she sat next to Jason closely as Broker continued.
"Sarah's doing very well," Sullivan began in answer to Broker's question "Got her results for school this year, all excellent. Still wants to be a teacher. But has rather unfortunately taken on one too many traits of her old man's," he continued with a smile "And Matthew, well..."
"He's like a firework that boy," interrupted Mary-Ann "Save for that he doesn't ever stop. His misfortune is having his head in the clouds about following this old blighter here into the Mech business. Not dissuading him at the moment.
Sullivan leant in closer to Broker, resting one hand on his oaken cane whilst using the other to hide his mouth from Mary-Ann "Takes after his mother you see," the sly comment earned him a sharp elbow-jab to the side, which Sullivan chuckled away.
"And how are you Mr. Decker?" Mary asked "Keeping busy in some ways now you're not off around the world?"
Broker chuckled along, rolling his eyes playfully as he slouched down into his chair slightly, and made himself more comfortable.
He was glad they were all doing well- And twice so to see Sullivan and Mary-Ann, still maintaining the frolicsome attitudes Broker recalled from their juvenilia.
It was a refreshing change- It was nice to see that some things were limitless.
”Me?”, Broker asked, rubbing his chin in thought, ”Well, you know me: I’m writing books, feeding the birds, occasionally tracking down and terminating double agents… y’know, old man stuff,” he beamed.
Jason smiled sincerely as they all passed idle chit-chat. It seemed as if all the buzz of music and dancers seemed to melt away. All he needed to know about what was going on was taking place in their little group off to the side. He was happy to keep it like that. And he was happy to see that Broker was keeping busy.
"Well, as Mary-Ann said, you should visit more often. I've got a pair of old-man armchairs that would be perfect setup out in the back garden. And I'm sure the kids would be happy to see you, isn't that right?" he asked, turning to his wife slightly.
He saw that she went to answer, a smile on his face. But when she looked at him the smile faded slowly, and her eyes took on a worried look. She didn't say anything, or make a sound, but simply raised her fingers to just beneath her nose. There was nothing there, and so Sullivan quickly summarised she was indicating for him to do the same. He slowly raised two fingers up, dabbing lightly under his nose and looking down at them to see a blotch of red now occupying them. He did it again, just to be sure. At which point one drop hit his leg. For a moment he kind of just sat there, staring at Mary. Eventually his compsure came back. With a hand that was slightly shaking he turned back to Broker, an attempted smile on his face.
"I-...ah. Hah. If you'll excuse me," he said, struggling with his cane to stand up "I just have to...to go to the lavatory for the moment. Shan't be long."
Covering his nose with one hand and supporting himself with the other, Sullivan turned awkwardly away from the table and chairs, before setting off on his unsteady way toward the toilet.
With another thoughtful frown, Broker pushed himself back to his feet- reaching for his cane, before deciding he could probably manage better without it.
Then, he bowed his head politely to Mary-Ann, and for the first time in the evening, displayed a more troubled expression.
”Well, Mary-Ann… it’s been a pleasure seeing you again. I’ll be sure to visit soon, alright?”
He smiled at her- If there was one thing the Deckers were truly infamous for, it was for maintaining the guise of confidence where, really, there was none.
Then, he quickly made his way after Sullivan- taking his comrade’s arm, and moving it around his shoulder for support.
”Come on, old man,” he whispered to his junior in a jovial, but none the less concerned tone, [Color="#438D80"] ”We just can’t take you anywhere, can we? [/ Color]