Chapter 28: Cute Toddler Spam, Feisty Old Ladies, and Teenagers!

I always told myself I wouldn’t be one of those parents who has to take a million pictures of her children… I lied.  I can’t help myself!  Alduin is just too cute!  And everyone dotes on him so.  His father, his grandmother…

Especially his grandmother.  He is certainly a grandma’s boy.

He and Daddy have been working on going potty like a big boy.  He’s doing pretty well.

For the most part, Alduin is very easy going.  Unless he’s hungry… then everyone in the whole house knows it.

It hasn’t all been about spoiling cute toddlers for us, though.  Mom has slowed down a little bit.  Despite being in terrific shape between her athletic skills and her Sim Fu training, her back has been bothering her quite a bit lately and she was noticeably limping the other day.  She refused to go to the hospital.  I know where I get my stubbornness from now…

But after a lengthy discussion with my husband, in which I begged him to talk to my mother, he agreed.

He didn’t give me details.  I have a feeling it wasn’t easy for him.  I’m pretty sure everyone in this family could give lessons to a boulder on hardheadedness.  But Mom finally went.  She saw one of Jeff’s colleagues, Dr. Bianchi.  When she came home, Mom was spitting mad!  We finally got her calmed down enough to tell us the problem.  Then she snapped, “I’m old, ok?”

When that just got her several level looks, she sighed.  “Dr. Bianchi says that I have osteoarthritis of the spine.  He’s prescribed me a bunch of pills to take and-and…”  She trailed off, looking sad.  I felt so bad for my mother.

“What is it, Mom?” I asked gently, putting my hand on her shoulder.

“He wants me to use a cane!  A cane!” she exploded.  I realized it wasn’t sadness on her face or what I was feeling from her, but indignation.  She thought a cane made her old.  I almost laughed, but managed to keep it in.

“C’mon Mom, go and model it for us!  I bet you’ll great!  Very sophisticated.”

She glared at me, trying to see if I was making fun of her.  Oh how I love my mother.  Finally, she grinned and then rolled her eyes.  “You just watch, I’ll rock that cane!”  She disappeared upstairs, calling down, “You guys wait there in the kitchen.  I’ll show you what an old lady can do!”

When she came down, in her nighty and strutting, we all burst into laughter.

“See, look at me?  I’m a little defenseless old lady.”  She tried to appear sweet and innocent.  However, having been on the receiving end of that ‘little old lady’s’ roundhouse kick, I knew she was full of it.

“Whatever you say, Mom,” I told her, rolling my eyes.  So Mom may not like the fact that she has to walk with a cane when the pain gets bad, nor does she like all the pills she has to take, but she deals with it.  And it still doesn’t slow her down much.

She still insists upon cleaning and traipsing up and down the stairs to do laundry.

And when she’s not working in the house, she’s still overseeing things at the spa.

I swear, the woman has more energy than I do!  Old lady indeed… When most of us are asleep in our beds, she’s out in her little zen garden, breaking space rocks with her bare hands!

And if it isn’t enough that my mother is giving me gray hair, my little girl is becoming a teenager!  She was bouncing up and down as Mom took the cake out of the oven.  We set it on the counter and she stepped up, that mischievous glint that never seemed to leave her eyes sparkling.

I found I was torn.  In one part of myself, I was proud of watching my children grow up.  But then another part of me mourns the loss of her childhood (and wonders what her teenage years will be like).


 

Hey!  It’s Luna!  I might have, um… borrowed the family journal.  I had to include this picture.  Think I’ll just slip that here in the page before.  She won’t notice for a while.  Pop took this of her right before I blew out the candles.  I’m not sure if she’s happy that I’m becoming a teenager or if that’s to hide the horror of knowing I’ll be able to drive soon enough!


 

Luna was more than ready for the next stage.  She’s always been so inquisitive and so perceptive; she sucks up knowledge so very fast!  And becoming a teen would allow her a whole new avenue for knowledge and open more doors for her yet.

She blew out her candles, the sparkles hit, and then she spun around.

Now, she told me not to put the picture of her before she could fix her hair and wardrobe in here.  But ya know what?  I saw that picture you slipped into the page before this, oh my dearest daughter!  All’s fair in love, war, and family!

But soon enough, she’d fixed the horrid clothing and decided that it was time to cut her hair a bit.  She wouldn’t let any of us see her until she’d entirely fixed everything herself.  Hm… Dad laughed at that.  He thought it was fitting, considering I apparently did the same to them.  I don’t remember being so difficult, was I?  Anyway, this was the result.

Isn’t she just beautiful?  Her daddy isn’t quite sure about his little girl looking quite so beautiful.  I distinctly heard him muttering something about needing to get a few supplies from the hospital.  I only laughed.  Between her father and her grandfather, Luna is going to have some issues in the dating department.  Hm… Or maybe not.  Jeff and I found a way, after all.

Oh!  And today wasn’t just Luna’s birthday.  It was both Dad’s and mine, actually.  Neither of us really wanted a cake for ourselves.  One was enough for us all.  We still had cake leftover from Alduin’s birthday anyway.  Dad went first.  He didn’t seem too thrilled with the prospect of getting older.

Dad aged fairly gracefully, I think.  Then it was my turn.  I tried to sneak outside so no one would see the awful wrinkles.  But they followed me anyway.

But before I could go inside to fix my hair and to check to see if I did indeed have wrinkles, something terrible happened.  Grim came for Hercules.

After that, wrinkles didn’t seem too bad.  Rest in peace, my furry friend.  You will be missed.  We placed his remains with those of his family.  That makes six of our faithful canine companions we’ve had to bury.  They are as much a part of the family as any.  It’s hard seeing all those graves there.  But I like to think they are enjoying their afterlife.


 

 

I’m not a young woman anymore.  Oh, I’m not melancholy or anything.  This isn’t a midlife crisis talking.  Like I said, losing Hercules put things into perspective for me.  It was time I dressed my age.  I know I’m still beautiful; Jeff tells me every chance he gets.  But wearing short dresses and long hair are a tad difficult when running around after an active toddler and when working out or performing martial arts, I thought it was time for a change.  So I got a little bit of a haircut and then decided to wear my hair up, and changed my wardrobe up.  I think it looks good.  And I’m ok with it, ok with being middle aged now.


And now I leave you with this picture of my little brother with the cutest pouty face ever!  Isn’t he just adorable?

Luna!  You will have your chance with the book when you’re older!

 

Sorry mom, I can’t resist ^^ Love you!


 

Chapter 27: Omens and Family

Mom has insisted on working with me a little while each day in the self-defense department.  My mother may well be past middle aged, heading toward a senior citizen, but you’d never know it, the way she wipes the floor with me.  By the time we’re done, I’m starving and exhausted.  As I grab a plate of mom’s goopy carbonara from the fridge, I took a seat at the table.  Luna had gotten home from school about the same time.  She was already at the table, working on her homework.  She looked puzzled.

“What is it, sweetie?  Problems with your homework?  I’m sure your Granddad would be happy to help ya with it.”

“Oh, no, not a problem with this.  It’s advanced trig and it’s pretty simple.”  My daughter shrugged.  I was a bit bemused.  I’d been really good in school, but math had never been my strong suite.  Luna, however, was in the accelerated classes and already taking courses that were getting close to college level.

“What’s the matter then, sweetheart?  Everything ok?”

“Just had a weird dream last night,” she told me, looking down at her homework.  “Not a nightmare or anything, just a weird dream.”

“Oh?  What kind of dream?”  I did my best to sound nonchalant.  In this family, dreams were paid attention to.  Luna was too smart for her own good more often than not, but we at least tried to keep too much of any lingering unpleasantness from her.

“Weird, like I said.”  She was thoughtful as she set her pencil down, done with her homework already.  “Something about a handsome prince.  But then it got weird and I swear I saw Bridgeport again and what I think was a vampire, though he was also a prince.”  She shrugged.  “Like I said, weird.”

I had all I could do to give her a small grin.  But my heart wasn’t in it.  Why did Bridgeport keep coming back to haunt her?  She was so little… I knew she had seen what I had, what happened to my father.  And it still wouldn’t leave her.  That, along with my father’s dream and with this new revelation that that- monster had had children… it worries me.  But trying to guess the future is like trying to hold an entire river in your hand.  As my father keeps reminding me, we can only be vigilant and act accordingly.  It’s hard though, almost overwhelming at times.

A surefire way to soothe the worry is to spend time with my son.  He’s still so small.  Soon, he’ll grow up.  But for now, he’s my little burrito.

After a bottle and a fresh change, I just love picking him up and holding him close.  The distinct smell of baby powder soothes me.  His little coos and giggles helps as well.

In other news, Mom and Dad have been spending a lot of time together lately.  Mom’s birthday will be in a few days and I think she feels a little self-conscious.  Dad’s the younger of the two, though not by much.  But Mom worries a little that he won’t look at her the same way once she’s ‘old’.  Dad thinks she’s being silly.  And he tells her that at regular intervals.  Most would think he’d be accommodating, pay her sweet compliments.  But Dad knows my Mom better than that.

That, and he was always better at acting than talking.  And he was always really good at talking, too.

Rather than have a family party like we normally did, Mom wanted to be alone, though Dad vetoed that.  So she and he spent the evening of her birthday out on the deck, just talking.

Then it was time.

Mom was not happy with the gray hair.  Not at all.  She called me upstairs and she and I fixed that, with the help of a little Miss Clairol.

And as they got ready for bed, Dad proved to her that she was as beautiful to him as she had been the first day he saw her.

Like I’ve said before, being an empath is rather interesting in this house.  I’ve gotten used to it by now.  And it’s rather sweet.  Though sometimes, a mute button would be helpful.  Still, it makes me smile.


 

Today we had a rather abbreviated Snowflake Day with the extended family.  Falkor and Faye came, of course.  Falkor’s next in line to be the superintendent at the school.  Faye is close to leading the entire police department.  It would have gone to Dad, but he didn’t want it.

Can’t forget my cousins.  Rickie and Katherine.

They have little ones of their own as well.  Here’s a snap shot of our little ambassador Luna welcoming her second cousins.  Donald and Abigail are Rickie’s.  Katherine’s little ones are a bit young yet to be out in the snow.  They stayed home with the babysitter which is why it was quite the abbreviated Snowflake Day celebration.

Hm… I think I’m feeling a bit old myself.  Hard to believe that I have a daughter in elementary school and another one that will be a toddler soon enough.  Definitely odd.


 

Draco greeted his brother warmly.  “Good to see you, little brother.”

“It’s good to see you, too.  Really good.  We-uh… we were really worried about you.  Faye and I would have come as soon as we heard, but we were told not to.”

“It’s good that you didn’t.  It uh… it was touch and go there.”

“I know.  Faye told me… all of it.”

Draco looked surprised for a moment.

“She did, did she?”

 

“Yes she did.  If there’s anything we can do, you know where we live.  I’m only a phone call away.”

 

“I know little brother.  Thank you.”

 

Faye waited to until she could get Draco alone.  “You got the email right?” she asked him quietly.

“I did.  Thanks for letting me know.  Has there been any other word?”

 

She shook her head in regret.  “None.  I’m not sure how hard the locals have been searching, but they’ve found no sign of their spawn, though there’s word that someone else has taken over Slayer’s empire, but we don’t have any information on who.”

 

Draco sighed.  “I was afraid of that.  Thanks Faye.  Look, I told you before, I’ll be putting my papers in soon enough.  Will you still keep me updated though?”

 

“Of course.”

 


Uncle Falkor and the rest of the family headed out early that evening.  That night, it was time for my little boy to become a toddler.  I carried him to the cake.

After leaning down to blow out the single candle, I set him down so the sparkles could surround him.

Then, before our eyes, my little boy became a toddler.

He’s such a looker, isn’t he?  And he has a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Mom and Dad swear that he is much like I was… I think he gives me a run for my money, even.


 

Chapter 26: Eye of the Storm

Draco frowned at the name on the email.  “What is it now, Faye?” he murmured, feeling goosebumps along his flesh as he stared at the computer screen.  The power he possessed told him this was something that would be important.  There was just the tiniest wish that the power would tell him why.  But it didn’t work that way; it never had.  It was a tool, nothing more.  Still, he hesitated in opening it.  After the assignment in Bridgeport, and his subsequent hospitalization, he had been on light duty.  Essentially, he was already semi-retired.  He would wait a bit longer before truly retiring, but it wasn’t far off.  So why the email from Faye marked ‘Classified- Urgent’?  That was a designation reserved for active agents, or at least someone on an active case.  But he wasn’t on an active case.  His last case had been closed.  Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann would spend the rest of their unnatural lives in a super-max security facility.

His stomach sank.  If Faye was emailing him like this, over a secure transmission, it had to do with them.  Draco flashed back to the dreams, to the feeling that went with them.  Letting out a breath, he opened the email.

Draco, it read.  The following attachment contains surveillance photos given to us by someone at Homeland Protection.  As you can see, the dates are from years before your encounter with Slayer and Fangmann.  Draco… they knew about Fangmann.  They knew and they said nothing.  Don’t ask how I came by this.  I’d rather you have plausible deniability about the whole thing, if it comes down to it.  I just thought you should know.  I’ll let you take a look.  If you have more questions that the photos and the notes don’t answer, I’ll see you during your Snowflake Day get together.

Draco clicked on the attachment to open it, his face a blank mask, giving nothing away of his feelings.

 2145

Subjects designated as Slayer and Fangmann reside in subject Slayer’s apartment[/font]

 It is obvious the two have an intimate relationship.

Draco continued to scroll through the rather extensive report and then he stopped, staring in shock at the screen.

Subject Fangmann has been seen with an infant.  Subject Slayer has not left the premises.  We can only speculate that she gave birth in the home to avoid any paperwork, any link to them.  Effort to protect themselves or the children, unknown at this time.  Perhaps both.

“A child…” Draco whispered, rubbing the back of his neck.  He wanted to stop there, but the feeling that this was important was too strong.  So he continued to read.

Agent X was finally able to get the surveillance inside the apartment.  It seems Subject Slayer is once again pregnant.

Once again, Subject Slayer has given birth at home, this time to twins, a male and female.  Their designations are Alaric and Cyn.  The older boy is Roarke.

Draco continued to scroll through the rather extensive surveillance report, seeing nothing more than a family, one not that much different than his own… except for while her children played in the living room, Elvira Slayer ordered murder done.

As he scrolled down, he stopped, his gaze sharpening at one entry.

An associate of Subject Slayer has come and has taken all three children.  New subject is Morrigan Hemlock, a part of Slayer’s organization.  A team was sent to tail them, but the tail failed.

Subjects Roarke, Alaric, and Cyn have been lost.  We can only assume Subject Slayer ordered them taken away, perhaps for their safety, or for hers.  Determination has been made that the children are not important at this time.  Efforts will be made to locate them, but realistically, continuing surveillance on Slayer and Fangmann is priority.

Draco didn’t need to read anymore.  He closed the report and sat there for a long moment.  He understood why Faye sent it now.  Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann had had children.  Based on the dates from the report, those children would be grown by now.  And being vampires, they would live a long time.  He ignored the rage that wanted to claw out at the fact that SHP had known, and despite their promises of working together, they had withheld this information.  The report was very clear.  They had known about her criminal empire, about her crimes.  Yet, they hadn’t shared it.  No thanks to them, Slayer and Fangmann would rot in prison.  And he had had a very large part in seeing to that.  How did their children feel about that?

He rose from the chair, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck.  That feeling came back.  He had thought it was over.  And maybe it was.  Maybe those kids had nothing of their parents in them.  But what if they did?  Would they seek revenge?  He had a family to protect.  And while he believed that there was good in everyone, he wouldn’t take chances with his family, not with his daughter pregnant again and with Luna just becoming a teenager.  He got up and made a call.


 

I listen to the workers outside the house and can only sigh as I rub the back of my neck.

They’re currently building a fence around our entire property.  Mom and I had been sitting at the counter, grabbing some food while Dad and Jeff were at their normal spots at the chess table.

Then Dad told us he’d hired a crew that would come in the morning to begin building a fence.  The rest of us froze for a moment.  “Why ever for, Draco?” Mom asked, looking confused.

“One, I’m tired of the paparazzi always outside our door.  Two, I don’t think it’ll hurt.  I-“

“Dad,” I said in a slow voice, a definite warning in it.  “I can feel that something’s up.  You haven’t gotten that good at hiding it.  What’s going on?”

He hesitated a moment.  “Maybe nothing.  I’d just rather be safe than sorry.”  He hesitated again, this time for much longer before finally saying, “Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann were more than just a crime boss and a dirty cop.  They were husband and wife.  And… they have children.”

The silence that fell was heavy with shock.  Then we all began talking at once until Dad gave a shrill whistle.  “Easy guys, easy.  Look, I seem to be getting conflicting information.”  He didn’t have to elaborate.  We knew what kind of information he meant.  His own abilities were fairly reliable.  “I don’t sense danger, but I can’t shake an uneasy feeling either.  So… this is just a precaution, ok?”

None of us liked it, but we agreed it was for the best.  I couldn’t stop the shiver that ran down my spine.  Now there is a fence around our property and a gate that is kept locked at all times.

For my own piece of mind, I also placed a bit of my own brand of protection around our home.

It isn’t much; I don’t have the same kind of power that my grandmother did, but at least I’ll always be aware of anyone stepping foot onto our property and at least in the house, I’ll be warned of any ill intentions.

After our meeting, Mom tentatively brought up the subject of self-defense.  “Once you have the baby, I can work with you.  I know it wasn’t much of your thing when you were growing up, but… just in case?  And, maybe Luna too?  Once she gets into high school?”  I agreed.  Of course, gotta wait for this little one to make their appearance first.


 

Obviously, my unborn child aims to please.  After I wrote my last entry, I went to sleep, feeling pretty drained and exhausted.  No sooner had I lain down than I felt the first contraction.  I’d been having some false labor pains and a sore back throughout the pregnancy so far, so I didn’t think much of it… until my water broke.  Then I was up, on my feet and yelling for Jeff.

He brought the car around and then helped me inside, telling me to breath and holding my hand.  I think I might have crushed his poor hand, though he didn’t complain at all.  Well… not much anyway and not after I finally let it go when we got to the hospital.  Jeff walked me into the hospital even as he called for some scrubs so he could change.

After several hours, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  Alduin Isidore Wyvern came into the world with a full set of lungs and let us know that he was not happy to be pulled from the nice warm, safe place he had been.

Once we got home, the little one hasn’t been put down for more than a few minutes at a time.

Even now, a few days later, there seems to be a line.  I have to race to get there first to get some time with my son!

“Dad, I can feel your worry ya know,” I told him after I had changed and then fed my son a bottle.  I turned to look at him, crossing my arms over my chest.  “I thought you were the one who said not to dwell on things, right?”

 

He sighed, looking sheepish.  “Yeah, I suppose I was.  More fool me, huh?  Seems the more one says not to worry about something, the worse the worry becomes.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle.  “As you pointed out before, we’ve done what we can.  And we’ll do more yet.  I’ve already told you that Mom plans on teaching us all some self-defense.  Luna already has a good head on her shoulders, even if she has more energy than three children her age. I imagine her brother will be a bit more sedate… we can hope, at least.”

 

Dad grinned at that.  “You have a point.  Is our little Eclipse out on the trampoline again?”

 

I nodded.  “Oh yes.  I still can’t believe Mom and I let you and Jeff talk us into getting one of those things.  The snow is six inches deep and Luna’s out there, having a grand ol’ time.  She said she wants to bounce to the Moon.”

Dad laughed.  “Sounds like our little Eclipse.  She’s just like you, ya know.  You always loved the outdoors.  You still do.”

 

I grimaced.  “Oh I love being outside… but I’m not one for the cold.  Not anymore, anyway.”

 

My dad grinned.  “I suppose that’s true.  She’s not the only one enjoying the snow today, though.  Just let Hercules and Ares out.  Those two are busy messing around in the snow too.”


 

 

The snow hasn’t really let up.  But that didn’t stop Mom from taking me outside to begin our little self-defense training.  I used to watch her during nice weather, so I like to think I held my own alright.

I’m no match for her yet, of course, but I’m working on it.  We thought about having Luna start now, but she’s too bright for her own good and it’s been difficult as it is trying to keep some of our worry from her.  So we’ll wait.  High school will be soon enough for her.  As it is, she’s talked her grandmother into helping her build snowmen in the front yard.

Mom told me they had quite the discussion, too out there.  “So sweetie, what do you think of your little brother?”

 

Luna grinned as she packed snow to help cement the middle portion onto the bottom portion of the snowman.  “He’s a cutie, Nan!  He’s a little shy yet, but I’m gettin’ ‘im to talk a little more.”

 

Her grandmother stopped.  “He talks to you?”

 

“Well, sort of.”  Luna pointed to her temple.  “I can hear him, in my head, though it’s not actual words yet.  More like… pictures, and images.”  She shrugged.  “I don’t think he’s like me or Pop-pop or Mama.  He’s more like you and Daddy.”

 

Sophia frowned.  “Then how are you communicating with him?”

 

“It’s because I can read thoughts and send them to people.  I don’t think he has anything like that, though.”

 

“Hm, I see.”  She continued to help pack snow on, following Luna’s instructions on where to pack it.  Eventually, it was done and they both looked at their work and then nodded at each other.  Then they burst out giggling.

Sophia slung her arm around her granddaughter’s shoulders.  “Well, c’mon then.  Let’s go inside.  I hear there may be some hot chocolate with marshmallows in there waiting for us!”

 

“Marshmallows!”  Luna skipped up and down.  “Race ya inside, Nan!”  And she was off like a shot, Sophia following, beaming.