The strange atmosphere was interrupted by a very loud meow and a happy tabby cat cuddling up to his mistress.
“Tabby!” Mildred exclaimed and picked the feline up, cuddling him lovingly. She turned to her father with a big grin. “Dad! This this Tabby!” She introduced them and Alec’s stare melted into a softer tone.
“Hi Tabby.” He greeted the cat, let him sniff on his fingers and after given a curious look and a soft head butt, he was stroking her between her ears. The familiar was purring in content.
Finally Julie caught herself and invited everyone in, Alec following them last and waving away his daughter as she was about to help with the bags.
Finally arriving in the small living room Mildred put her cat down, who protested after being not given enough affection after all those days separated and grabbed her bags, bringing them into her room and putting everything away, followed by her trusted feline.
Mildred hurried up and promised herself to fold them correctly later but she really wanted to be back in the living room before something happened.
Tabby meowed unhappily from her feet and Mildred, never really being able to deny her furry companion, picked him up again, petting him lovingly while being quiet and hoping to maybe hear a bit of conversation. Unfortunately it was way too quiet so they were either not speaking loud enough or they were still starring at each other in awkward silence.
The young witch sighed and turned to Tabby. “Let’s just hope they all get along, right? If the day ends without dad beating the other man up, I’m counting it as a win.” No, she did not miss the mistrustful and cold stare her dad had thrown at the other man, she knew what she saw. And what she saw was her father ready for murder should he be anything but pleasant.
Mildred took a deep breath and returned to the living room, where they were all holding an awkward stare down, her father clearly winning.
“Mildred love!” Her mother jumped up in fake enthusiasm when she saw her walking back in, grabbing her arm and leading her away. “Could you just help me with something?” She asked but they were already half across the hall and on their way to her mother’s bedroom.
When they arrived, her mother closed the door behind her and turned to her daughter, panic clear in her eyes.
“What is going on?!” She demanded to know, her voice loosing every bit of the fake sweetness from a few seconds before. “Why is he here? And where the hell have you been the last few days?! Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
Mildred just stammered: “Well … I left you a letter?”
Julie sighed and threw her head back in frustration. “A letter which explained next to nothing! So out with it! What did you do?”
Mildred shrugged practically hiding behind Tabby. “I told you, didn’t I? The family tree revealed something and I thought it would be a good opportunity to go and find dad. I mean, I don’t know him but I really wanted to and I now finally had the opportunity. So I took it. Enid and Maud helped me out a little and then I just followed the trail.”
She looked imploringly at her mother. “I didn’t do it to spite you or make you angry, it’s just, I didn’t know how to tell you. I really didn’t do it to hurt you, I promise. I just wanted to find and get to know him. So please don’t be angry.”
Julie relaxed after every word from her daughter. She smiled in defeat at her and was about to say something, when Mildred interrupted her.
“And he’s really amazing! We get along great and he’s so nice and listens to me and he’s really funny and he’s always interested in what I have to say, even if it’s just word vomit. He even …” She made herself small again and avoided to look at her mother, “He even knows about my magic. And he’s fine with it. He doesn’t have a problem or anything.”
Mildred refused to look at her mother and Tabby meowed unhappily, butting her head and rubbing all up to her in an attempt to cheer her up.
Julie tensed up when she heard her daughter but calmed down fast. She held Mildred’s cheek and smiled at her. The young witch looked up hopefully.
“Well, if you’re singing such high praises of him, he can’t be all bad, can he?”
Mildred nodded. “He’s amazing!”
Julie sighed and brought her daughter into a hug. “Oh well, not how I imagined to see him again, but it’s not like we can change it now, can’t we. So let’s get back out before they rip each other to shreds.” The mother thought for a moment. “Or better before Dave, I mean Alec, rips Alvin to shreds.” She turned reproachfully back to her daughter. “You really have to explain this to me how Dave became Alec.”
Mildred nodded hastily, secretly hoping that her father would take over this part, because she was terrible at lying to her mother.
They arrived back at the living room, still intact, thank god, but something must have happened, because her father looked quite relaxed and a little smug, and she was sure no one but her could see that, he was that good but she thought that she knew him pretty well by now, and her mother’s boyfriend looked … scared for lack of better wording. He certainly tried to hide it, it was just … not very good. Mildred kind of wanted to know what they had been talking about.
After a few seconds Julie clapped her hands together. “So, who wants to eat something?” She raised her hand and looked around hopefully. Mildred’s hand shot in the air in an attempt to be solitary to her mother. Her father had an amused smile playing around his lips before raising his and before Alvin could do it as well Julie smiled and vanished into the kitchen, leaving her alone to play host. Thanks a lot mum!
She forced herself to smile and asked them if they wanted to drink anything, trying to be a good host and hoped that they would have everything they would want at hand.
Her father merely asked her for a glass of water while Alvin asked for a cup of tea. Mildred nodded and released her familiar back to the ground, where he walked over to the agent and jumped into his lap, demanding to be petted. Alec smiled at that and stroked him softly behind his ears while Tabby purred.
Mildred fetched the drinks and hesitated at the door, but soon realized that her mother really needed to be alone right now. So she returned and offered Alvin his tea while she grinned at her father spoiled her feline with pets.
“You look like some kind of bad spy movie villain dad,” Mildred said and Alec looked at her in mock offense.
“Excuse you? I am not!” He retorted and they shared a smile, the inside joke known to no one but them.
Mildred sat between them on the couch and tried to engage the other man in small talk, but it wasn’t really working. He only let out short or one word answers and it really wasn’t doing anything for her. Her father wasn’t a big help either. He was silent the whole time and seemed to be really engrossed petting her familiar, but Mildred knew exactly that he was listening to every word.
She sighed in relief when her mother announced that the casserole was done and if she could please prepare the table. Mildred almost jumped up of happiness to finally leave this behind but refrained from doing so.
Alec let go of Tabby and followed her, offering his help. Mildred smiled and told him where everything was and together they were done quickly and waiting for her mother to bring the dish out.
When they all sat down, the awkwardness just wouldn’t lift! Mildred really wanted to bang her head against something. She knew it would have been awkward, but she didn’t expect it to be so terrible.
“So,” Julie finally interrupted the silence and Mildred could have hugged her. “Alec.” And she put real emphasis into this word. That didn’t sound good. “What are you doing?” She asked.
The Russian turned to her and threw her a charming smile, making the man next to her stiffen awkwardly. “I’m currently working for the Government.” He answered.
“Oh,” Julie exclaimed, a bit of surprise colouring her voice, “That’s quite the career change.” She turned to Alvin. “You know, when we met he was training to be a plumber.” She smiled lovingly at him and he seemed to relax. She turned back to Alec. “I thought you would still be doing that. You know, Alvin here is a salesman.” She smiled happily at him and he seemed to relax visibly.
Alec only chuckled and shook his head. “No. That didn’t really work out.”
“And what do you do in the government?” She continued to ask.
‘Chasing bad guys in awesome car chases.’ Rushed through Mildred’s head, ‘Catching heads of criminal organisations. Destroying and preventing terrorist attacks. Saving the country.’
“Oh,” Alec continued in a light tone, “Nothing spectacular. I have kind of a diplomatic job where I travel a lot.”
Mildred almost choked on her food but could barely control herself after her father tapped her food lightly in warning with his. She still couldn’t supress her grin though and hid it by hastily shoving another fork into her mouth.
“So,” Alec continued, “How did you two meet?”
“Oh well –“
“That was actually –“
The couple smiled at each other and turned to the other two, holding hands. Mildred raised an eyebrow at them.
“We met at a park actually.” Julie said and then turning to her daughter, a slight flush colouring her cheeks.
“Well, I was walking through it and her sheet, where she was drawing on, was flying away in my direction. I caught it and we started talking and get to know each other.” Alvin explained and they both looked at each other dreamily.
“Yes. It was like fate had brought us together.” Julie added, not breaking eye contact.
Mildred and Alec looked at each other in silent communication and Mildred only shrugged.
After another very awkward minute for the father-daughter duo where the other duo was staring at each other dreamily, Alvin turned to Alec and asked him.
“Well, how did you two meet? I heard you were absent from her life until now. So how come you two met?” He asked, Mildred stiffening.
But Alec didn’t let the jab disturb him and he sent the other only an easy grin. “You’re right. I actually didn’t know Mildred existed until a few days ago. I just found her one day after she broke into my hotel room.”
Mildred rolled her eyes. “It wasn’t like I wanted to steal anything from you.”
Her father raised his eyebrow. “I know. Doesn’t change the fact that you climbed the fire staircase and came into the suite through the balcony.”
The two continued to bicker good heartedly while the other two looked at them in confusion.
“Speaking of which,” Mildred replied, turning back to her mother and rubbing her cheek sheepishly, “I actually wanted to ask if I could spent the rest of the holidays with dad.” She looked up hopefully at her mother while she was gaping back at her in confusion.
“What?” She asked.
Mildred’s stare turned begging. “Please? I still have the rest of the week and next week off from school and dad said I could stay with him in London. And I’ve only been to London one time when I was small. So please?”
Julie sat back tiredly. “Well, I had hoped to see you again after so long at school and I had hoped that you and Alvin could get to know each other better. Mildred, another time, okay?”
Mildred looked at her mother desperately, thinking about how her father could get downtime after a mission and how he never knew how long they normally lasted. “Please mum! I know we haven’t seen each other for a while but Dad lives even farther away and I’ve never even gotten to see his apartment. And I can barely remember the last time we went to London. Can I just go this time? I promise I’ll be good.”
Julie was still torn. She had hoped that Alvin could be a father figure in her life. She hadn’t expected for her actual father to come back exactly now. Sure, she could understand Mildred’s wish to get to know her father, but she was actually not so sure about that. Especially since a lot of things seemed to have changed. But on the other hand, the two seemed to really have clicked. She could see it in the easy way they talked to each other and how casually they were about everything, playful banter as if they had known each other for a long while now. Soft touches that spoke of familiarity and already they had inside jokes that went right over her head. But still, she had really hoped that it would work with Alvin. She was about to deny her daughter’s wish, when he interrupted her.
“Why don’t we make a compromise?” Alec asked. Everyone turned to him, Mildred’s hopeful eyes begging him to convince her mother. He smiled at her reassuringly.
“How about Mildred stays here for the rest of the week? It’s still quite a few days and next week she can come visit me. And she can go back to school from my place out. She can even bring Tabby. My place has nothing against pets.” He explained his idea and turned to look at them all expectantly. ‘And I can clean my apartment, hide the weapons and make my alcohol stash inaccessible.’ He thought but didn’t say out loud.
Mildred was all for it. That way she could spend time with both of them. She turned hopeful eyes to her mother which she saw visibly crumbling. The older Hubble sighed.
“Oh fine. Yes, you can stay next week with your father.”
Mildred squealed in happiness.