Helen tucked Jack-Jack's blankie into the diaper bag, muttering to herself, "I hope E can come up with proper boots for Jack-Jack. Now that he's walking, he needs the support. He needs fitting for the next size up, too."
Bob and Lucius were out bowling... for real this time, under the watchful eyes of Dash, Violet... and Lucius's wife, Honey. She smiled; she was sure that Bob, with his new-found feeling of responsibility toward the kids, wouldn't turn the bowling date into a crimefighting/rescue session. And if he did get that itch for action, Honey wouldn't allow it. At least, she wouldn't allow Lucius to go, and Mr. Incredible without Frozone wasn't to be borne.
Turning her head, she stretched her neck up to the nursery, listening for her son. Their new home, provided by the government, was two stories tall, and she found it a longer stretch than she was used to. He didn't seem to be stirring, which drew a sigh. "I don't want to wake him," she murmured as she eased back downstairs. "But E will be calling soon, wondering where we are." This provoked another sigh, and a grimace. "Can't get a word in edgewise when she calls."
Before she even settled her head back on her shoulders, she knew she wasn't alone. Someone was standing in the living room, near the door; she could see them out of the corner of one eye.
"Hello, Mrs. Parr. Or should I say, Mrs. Incredible."
Helen stiffened to hear her name. linked with that of her super alter ego, called in that soft voice. With the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end, she turned to face the intruder. Her face, schooled to a noncommittal expression, tightened into a slight frown. Her chin went up, a subtle indication of her feelings.
"Mirage." Helen's tone was cool; she had taken a slight breath to calm her voice, and hoped the other woman hadn't noticed. She'd been rattled, but she'd be damned if she'd let Mirage know. "How did you find us?"
The silver-haired woman smiled sightly. "I have my sources." A pause, then the smile faded. Her tone was contrite. "I'm sorry for intruding."
"What do you want?" It came out whip sharp, revealing more of her feelings than Helen had wanted.
"I... I just wanted to tell you something. Something you should know. About your husband."
Helen didn't miss Mirage's tiny stutter. She stood still for a long moment, her heart fluttering, memories rising up of the lone platinum hair on Bob's old suit, of the enigmatic phone call, of walking in on him embracing this woman. She pushed them away, ruthlessly smashing down the feelings of doubt, jealousy and inadequacy she'd experienced. Willing her voice to a low growl, she said, "Go on."
Mirage twisted her manicured fingers together. She was dressed in dark slacks and blazer, her collared white shirt open at the throat. She looked very professional, and for a fleeting moment, she reminded Helen of Rick, in his suit and tie. But it was also evident that whatever she had to say was difficult for her, and Helen's heart rose in her throat.
At last, Mirage drew in a deep breath and said, "He never betrayed you. Ever."
Helen blinked. This was definitely not what she expected. "What did you say?"
"He didn't betray you." Mirage smiled softly. "Even when Syndrome fired the missiles, taunting him, he never said who was in the plane. It was obvious he recognized your voice. But he never admitted it was his wife and children. His family. I think he knew... if Syndrome had any idea who was really flying, he would have tried to draw you in, capture you, and use you all as pawns."
Helen snorted, and folded her arms. "Like hell he would have."
Mirage smiled. "You certainly took Syndrome by surprise. You and the children." Her smile faded again. "When it was confirmed that the missiles had destroyed the plane, it was as if some part of your husband was destroyed, too. He would have killed Syndrome if he'd had the chance." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "He threatened to kill me, and... he almost did."
Helen's eyes narrowed. "What? Bob would never...!"
"Under ordinary circumstances, no, he wouldn't. I know that. But when you walked in on us..." Mirage cleared her throat. "I had just told him you were alive and on the island. A few seconds before that, he had been choking me. That's how far... how far..." Her voice trailed off.
Helen's face reflected the confusion she felt. Bob hadn't told her all the details of his capture and incarceration, and she hadn't asked. There were some things that supers didn't do, and to tell the truth, Bob would have done his best to shield her. For her part, she knew he'd been brought to his knees when he'd thought he'd lost her. That had been enough; she hadn't wanted to make him relive it. Now she wished she had.
"So there was nothing...?"
Mirage seemed startled by the question. "Between your husband and me?" She shook her head. "No. Not like that. It was business. I admired him. He opened my eyes to the reality of what I'd gotten into. But he never betrayed you, in any sense of the word."
Helen nodded slowly, relieved. Those feelings of inadequacy and doubt were gone, defeated by the knowledge (though hadn't she always really known it?) that her husband had been faithful, in more ways than one.
"Thank you for telling me this."
Mirage took in a deep breath and nodded, a small smile trying its best to break through. "I thought you should know."
There was a short, uncomfortable silence. "What will you do now?"
A small shrug was the first response. "I'm helping out the authorities, in return for a reduced sentence." The younger woman looked uncomfortable. "Syndrome killed a lot of supers trying to get the Omnidroid perfected, and I was a party to it. I know where the bodies are buried... literally. Hopefully, I can help some of their families gain some closure." She glanced at the clock over the living room mantle. "In fact, my handlers are probably wondering where I am."
As if to shatter the moment, a noise, audible even from upstairs, caught Helen's ear, and she turned her head toward the stairs. "I think that's Jack-Jack..." Turning back to her visitor, she was startled to see an empty room. Mirage was gone.
She let a breath out through her nose, a huff of half-frustration, half-relief, and shook her head. Then, squaring her shoulders, and muttering, "Better get up there before he burns his crib... again," she bounded up the stairs to fetch her son. "Coming, honey!"