The city hadn’t changed much, but Alicia hadn’t been gone that long. The contrast between her action-packed summer and her normal school life had made the term feel like a whole different world, almost like it existed in a parallel universe.
Alicia bought a cup of coffee and wandered around a couple of stores. She would have time to kill as she didn’t have a house key, so she would have to wait for her mom to clean up and get home before she could get into the house.
After a few hours of wandering, Alicia jumped on the bus and headed towards her house. She couldn’t deny it, Ruby City looked different now she knew about its dark underbelly.
Buildings that used to be weird were now suspicious. They were portals to battles of good and evil, places where strange people and powers could be hiding out of sight of the normal world.
The bus’s breaking shook Alicia from her thoughts. “Oh, this is me!” She nodded at the person sat next to her. She quickly grabbed her bag and walked out onto the street, starting to move towards her home.
The second Alicia entered her driveway, the front door swung open and Sharon ran out, her arms outstretched. “Alicia!” shouted Sharon as she wrapped her arms around Alicia. “I’m so happy you’re home!”
“Hey Mom,” giggled Alicia as she hugged her Mom back. “Glad to be home.”
“How was your train ride?”
“Oh fine, the usual,” laughed Alicia as Sharon released her and waved for her to come in.
The house was already full of Christmas decorations. Sharon always went overboard at Christmas. The second December hit, every surface got covered in tinsel and fairy lights.
“Alica!” shouted Ulla as she waved from the couch.
“Hey!” grinned Alicia. “How are you feeling?”
“Pretty good!” nodded Ulla. “You did well back there, very impressive!”
“You must have literally jumped off the train and joined the fight,” shouted Mara from the other room.
“Yeah, I spotted the cordon and then saw Ivanna climbing up onto the roof, so I thought I should pitch in!”
“So kind,” replied Ulla and Mara in unison before bursting into giggles.
“I’ll be with you in a minute, I’m baking cookies!” added Mara as the sound of the mixer filled the kitchen.
“Wow! I didn’t know you baked!” shouted Alicia as she put her bag down and moved to the couch.
“I’ve taught her well,” chuckled Sharon.
“Ah, the best way to maintain a home. Brainwashing,” smirked Alicia. Ulla’s cheeks turned bright red as she quickly looked around, obviously trying to avoid eye contact.
“Exactly!” laughed Sharon. “Now let me make some tea,” she added as she walked happily into the kitchen.
“How was school?” asked Ulla.
“Good! Everything is going great!” Replied Alicia. “Sort of weird to have to lie about my summer, but I had fun!”
“You get used to it. Remember, keep your lies simple. Too much detail is always a dead giveaway.”
“Right,” nodded Alicia. “Are you living here now?”
“Well,” chuckled Ulla, her cheeks somehow growing redder. “Sort of? I still have my apartment as it is a MIST base. But I live here most of the week.”
“Gosh, there is only one spare room,” interjected Alicia sarcastically.
“Well I share with,” started Ulla before quickly realizing that Alicia was teasing her. “Hey! Don’t worry, I’m not using your room!”
“Good! I need somewhere to sleep!” chuckled Alicia.
After a few minutes, Sharon returned with tea. Alicia felt herself slipping back into the flow of home life. Of course, Mara and Ulla were new to the house, but it felt like they had been there forever.
Sharon was happy and that made Alicia happy. She really couldn’t have asked for two better women to come into her Mom’s life. It was obvious that they made an excellent trio and were enriching each other’s existence.