Side-Story: Cease and Desist!

"Okay, kiddo you got your pepper spray?" Dennis asked, eyes roving over his son's uniform.

"Yes, Dad."


"I don't see why we need them…"

"Handcuffs?" Dennis asked again, arching an eyebrow.

Paul sighed. He rattled the metal links secured in his hip pouch and patted the zip-ties in the pocket next to them. "Yes, Dad."


"I have a phone! And I can have Desist call for help through the Network if I really need it!"


"Oh for…MOM!"

Paige chuckled, pushing off from the wall and kneeling down in front of her son. "It's better to be over-prepared, sweetheart."

Paul just stared at her. "How can I possibly be over-prepared, Mom? Aunt Taylor is watching over us. Nothing bad is going to happen. I don't even know why we're doing this!"

"Hey, someone has to teach you how to joke around and have a good time," Dennis said. "Ever since Taylor got that stick up -"

"Ahem!" Paige snapped, her withering glare turning on Dennis.

The man didn't miss a beat, continuing his mini-speech, "her back for her posture, she lost too much of her funny bone. So it falls to me! I humbly accept the responsibility to teach you how to…"

"Oh god, Mom, make him stop."


Paul turned his wide, pleading eyes on his mother and clasped his hands under his chin.

Paige just laughed and ruffled his hair. "It's not going to be that bad, honey. You'll have a good time. If nothing else, take good pictures and use them as blackmail against your dad with the other kids."

"Et tu?" Dennis whimpered, holding his hand over his heart. "My own wife? Betrayed!"

She ignored him. "I know Erica has been looking for some excellent material on him for months."

"That's true…" Paul murmured. "But why do we have to…dress up?" He pulled at the shirt of the police costume. They had picked it up at the Halloween store - along with three more matching sets - with a grimace.

Dennis rubbed the back of his head as both his son and wife looked up at him. "Hey this," he waved his hand at the costume, "actually, was not my idea. Cease watched some soap operas with Ziz and Mimi a few days ago. If I'm going to have to deal with trying to satisfy his urge, you're coming along as backup, kiddo."

"This is so unfair," Paul groaned.

"Welcome to life!" Dennis chuckled. He ruffled his son's hair and pulled the costume's hat back on. "Ready?"


"Okay, Paul," Paige said, standing and wrapping the boy in a hug. "Be careful, listen to your dad, call me if things get crazy, and if things get dangerous then -"

"Have Desist call Aunt Taylor. I know, Mom."

She glanced at Dennis. "You be careful too, mister."

"Yes, Ma'am." He leaned over and laid his forehead against hers. "We'll be fine, Paige. There shouldn't be anything actually dangerous in the city anymore. I staged half of the stuff we're going to run into anyway. Plus, just in case I've cursed it, we have all the backup watching over our shoulder: Danica is pacing us from a block away with her team, Erica is keeping tabs through Cease's eyes, Ziz is flying around above the city pretending to birdwatch, and if shit really hits the fan, I'll just call for the nuclear option."

"Please don't call Taylor unless you actually need her," Paige murmured. "I'm the one who'll have to deal with rescheduling the meetings that she misses and then you'll be the one that suffers."

"Technically, we'll both suffer," Dennis teased.

"Eww." Paul grimaced. "I am right here. I have seen the internet. I know what you're talking about. Please stop talking where I can hear you."

Dennis groaned. "This is what happens when you are friends with Tinkers, Paige. I told you all of the kids were going to get around the parental locks."

"I'm a teenager, why do I even still have parental locks?"

"Let's just go." Denny turned to the stairs and cupped his hands around his mouth, shouting, "Hey, buddy! You ready?!"

"Cease comes!" shouting came down from the upstairs hall.

"Desist is en route!" a second voice was right behind it.

A moment later, two tall…men rounded the corner and bounded down the stairs. Each wore their own police uniforms. One was the same height as Dennis, while the other was just under a head shorter. It wasn't anything major, but the height difference coupled with the similar bone structure, facial features, and hair; it was enough to invoke the feeling of a father-son association. At least it would have been, had either not had just enough…oddness…about their personage to invoke a deep sense of unease in anyone who hadn't been around them for a prolonged period.

It was probably a good thing that Dennis and his family had gotten so used to shard attempts at body construction. There was a sort of fractal pattern evident in the nose and the fingers of both men that you could just see out of the corner of your eye. The humans present didn't even care anymore.

He'd been hanging out with aliens too much…

"We are ready to contain the criminal menace!" Cease shouted, his hand leaping to his face and slapping his forehead in a…horrible attempt at a salute.

Dennis grunted and gently took the avatar's hand, moving it into an actual salute. "Better."

"Now we are ready to contain the criminal menace!"

"Mom…can I please stay home?" Paul whispered.

Paige laughed, pushing him towards the door. "I kept your father and the boys in check last time, sweetheart. It's your turn. Have fun, you four!"

Cease's avatar ran ahead, throwing the front door wide and leaping down the steps. "All criminal elements must Cease!"

"It is time to Desist!" Paul's partner shouted, rushing outside as well.

Paul bunched his hands in his hair pulling for a brief instant before glaring at his father, and running past, chasing the rogue shards. "NOT YET!"

Dennis felt a chill run down his back. He didn't know how, he didn't know when…but he knew Paul was going to get back at him for this one day.

The menacing, evil cackle of his wife certainly didn't help.

Ah well, the best Family Fun Days always came with a side of permanent existential horror somewhere along the line. That was just how these things worked nowadays.

Dennis paused his foot on the first step, and frowned. "I have definitely been hanging out with aliens too much…"




"…I don't even know who's supposed to be the Good Cop and who's supposed to be the Bad Cop…"

Dennis sighed and headed down to catch up with his family. At the very least, this would be a fun story to tell to the others later.