Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
rating: +36+x

“Mom, stop fussing with it,” Shawn Wheeler groaned. “My collar is fine.” The doorbell rang.

“I’ll stop fussing with it when it’s fixed, Shawn,” his mother replied, “and that’ll happen faster if you stop squirming.”

“What is it with mothers and shirt collars anyway? What is it about having kids that makes women fiddle with my clothes all the time?” Nevertheless, he stood still while she flipped his shirt collar back to the proper orientation and smoothed it out. “There. How do I look?”

Marion hid her smirk. His freshly pressed dress shirt was tucked neatly into smooth khaki slacks. The new haircut was slicked back with just a bit too much gel, and Shawn was, for once, wearing his contacts. He looked nothing like himself, and utterly, utterly ridiculous. He looked like a nineteen-year-old in love.

“You look like you really fell hard for this girl,” she said. “Does she know about your volumes of Star Wars fanfiction?”

“It hasn’t come up.”

“Uh huh.” Marion didn’t bother hiding her smirk this time. The doorbell rang again. “Well, your collar is straight and you look perfect. Wouldn’t want to keep your lady waiting.” Shawn rolled his eyes and shuffled past his mother, across the hallway and towards the door. Marion hung back as her husband came out of the kitchen behind her. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his angular nose and she couldn’t help but smile. While Marion was well on her way towards “little old lady”, Adam was as tall and thin as the day they met.

“What are you smiling at?” A mischievous grin crossed his face as he closed the kitchen door with his foot.

“You.” She had to crane her neck upwards and stand on her toes to kiss him, but it was worth it every time. “Ready for this?”

“No,” he sighed. “But let’s do it anyway.” The door swung open behind them, and Marion saw what could only have been her son’s girlfriend and her parents. She immediately noticed the young woman’s striking eyes—stormcloud grey with flecks of green, unusual but not impossible given the Chinese heritage suggested by her surname—but it was the girl’s father who drew Marion’s attention.

“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet Lucy Lang-Scranton,” Shawn said confidently.

“You must be the Wheelers,” said her mother. “I’m Anna, and this is my husband, Robert.” But Marion already knew that.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” said Adam. He stuck out a hand to Robert, who shook it vigorously. “I’m Adam, and this is my wife, Marion. You already know Shawn, I take it.”

“My parents met him while I was moving in,” Lucy explained. She began a story about the moving trolley that had lead her to her new boyfriend, but Marion was only half paying attention.

“Well, don’t lurk in the doorway all night,” said Adam when Lucy was finished with her story. “Come in. Let me take your coats.” Ms. Lang slid her coat off her shoulders and handed it to Adam Wheeler as the Scranton-Lang family came through the door.

“Do you smoke, Mr. Scranton?” Marion’s eyes shrewdly sized him up. She didn’t pick up any telltale signs of a smoker, but that didn’t prove much.

“I’m trying to quit,” he said, a sheepish expression on his aging face.

“Well, tonight is a special occasion,” Marion said, curling her mouth into a grin. “Would you join me outside for a celebratory cigar?”

“Can it wait?” Marion’s husband met her eyes, and communicated more than just concern with his look. “They did just get here.” He hung up their guest’s coat on the wall.

“No, it’ll give us something to talk about at dinner,” said Dr. Scranton. “Lucy was embarrassed that I’d spend the whole night talking about her Star Wars fanfiction.” Shawn’s head snapped to Lucy. Her eyes became dinner plates.

“Dad! You promised!”

“No, it’s good to get these things out of the way early on,” Adam said. “My first real moment with Marion involved the X-Files.” That was all that most people knew about his first meeting with his wife, but Marion suspected the two doctors had read her full report at some point.

"Shawn, why don't you show her your toy shelf while Mr. Scranton and I step outside?" Marion motioned towards their stairs and shot Adam a look that said 'I know what I'm doing'.

"Display case, mom," Shawn insisted, his cheeks the color of a firetruck. "It's a display case."

"You have a display case too?" Lucy had lost the teenage apprehension in her voice, and Marion gave Adam a nod as the woman she knew to be Dr. Lang entered the house.

Marion grabbed her own coat and retrieved two stogies from an end table by the main entrance. She handed one to Dr. Scranton, and the two exited the hallway into the crisp spring air.

"Is Lucy an only child?" Marion asked as she handed a cigar to Dr. Scranton. Of course, she already knew the answer.

"She's the only one we have," he answered. Marion flicked open her lighter to light his cigar. "Anna and I talked about having another after she was born, but it wasn't in the cards. How about you?"

"Shawn's older brother Alex is abroad this spring," she said. She closed the lighter and put it in her coat pocket. "He's in the French countryside, studying humanoid anomalies at Site-06-3."

Dr. Scranton stopped, the cigar inches from his lips. All of a sudden, the aging suburban housewife looked different. She looked less like a little old lady and more like a wolf standing at the edge of its den.

"Where is that?"

"We both know where," she began. “You’re one of the most recognizable faces in the entire SCP Foundation, Dr. Scranton. The prototype you and your wife built is turning twenty this year. I read your paper on the Pocket SRA a few weeks back. It's a solid proposal, but it's got room for improvement." Meanwhile, Dr. Scranton began surreptitiously checking his pocket.

“You’re looking for this.” Marion held up Robert Scranton’s Foundation-issued smartphone and placed it on the railing next to her. She lit her cigar and took a puff from it while Dr. Scranton maintained eye contact with her. “At my age, it isn’t easy to pickpocket someone. But stealing their phone and then stealing their memory of the theft? That's much easier. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I’ve had decades of practice at this sort of thing.”

“What are you?” Dr. Scranton’s voice was level and calm. “GOC? Chaos Insurgency?”

“I’m the mother of your daughter’s new boyfriend,” Marion answered. She picked up the phone and extended it towards Dr. Scranton, who took it with no small measure of caution. “Professionally, I’m the head of the SCP Foundation’s Antimemetics Division.”

Robert began to connect the dots he hadn’t before. Mrs. Wheeler, Marion Wheeler, the most well-known unknowable employee in the company.

"You're that Marion Wheeler? The one who successfully contained SCP-3125?"

Marion nodded. "If you know that, then you know that I couldn't have done it without your research on Adaptive Irreality Spaces, or the Class-C wormhole you found. You were there for what, a week?"

"Five days, eleven hours, and twenty-one minutes," Robert replied. "The longest of my life." Mrs. Wheeler puffed on her cigar.

"Right," she said before continuing. "It seemed like the best place to stick an entity that didn't abide by the laws of reality here. The world would have ended if you'd been stuck in there for much longer."

"Without your notes on trans-dimensional memetic links, I might have been," he replied. "Anna correctly assumed I was thinking of her almost the entire time, and she used those thoughts to pinpoint my location and throw me a life preserver. Without her, I would have starved to death or worse. I don't want to think about what might have happened if I'd been in there for weeks, or God help me, months."

Marion was taken aback. While she was busy finding a way to get rid of 3125, her research had saved a man's life, a man she hadn't even known existed at the time. Dr. Scranton’s retrieval from his wormhole was a blip on her radar, something to flesh out her CV. It was one thing to know she’d saved a man’s life. It was another thing entirely to see the man in front of her, and have dinner with his family.

“You said you read my proposal for the pocket SRA?” Scranton prodded, and Marion regained herself. “You had some suggestions?”

“We can talk about it over drinks later,” she answered, and Scranton raised an eyebrow. “Adam knows some of what I do, and he’s got a measure of protection from people who would try to get their hands on him. Most of what the Foundation does tends to go in one ear and out the other with him, and it’ll give our little lovebirds some alone time. Besides, sticking 3125 in a pocket dimension is a temporary solution. Since you’re here anyway, we might as well put our heads together and see if we can’t find a more permanent solution.” She extended her hand to Dr. Scranton, who shook it vigorously.

“Marion, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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