Chapter 47: Consequences

I woke up the next morning after the skit, my husband’s arm snug around my waist.  It was unusual for him not to be up before me.  The man seemed to run on very little sleep.  I could almost hate him for it at times.

But this morning, there he was.  My lips curled into a smile.  It was rare for me to catch him when he was completely unguarded.  I slowly rotated so I could face him.  I traced a finger gently over his jaw, careful not to wake him.  It hit me again, the emotion that grabbed me by the throat at the oddest moments.  He was always there for me.  Even when I didn’t want him to be.  Especially then.  And it was when I needed him the most.

“You’re thinking too loud,” he grumbled sleepily, his eyes still closed.  I had to giggle a little at the way his voice sounded when he was all cross and sleepy.

“I’m not thinking anything,” I told him, tongue-in-cheek.

“I can hear you.  Go back to sleep.  Aren’t you the night owl?”

“And aren’t you the one that’s normally downstairs by now, hitting the weight machine?”

“I’m sleeping right now, or I would be if someone would go back to sleep.”  One eye slitted open to glare at me, though I could see the way one corner of his mouth was creeping up into a grin.

“What if I don’t want to go to sleep, hm?” I murmured, leaning on one elbow as I gazed at him.

“You awake at this hour?  Just what are you gonna do, hm?” he asked.

I leaned over him and pressed my lips to his.  It was soft at first, then I took it deeper.  I could hear the groan in his throat.  He turned over onto his back, pulling me on top of him.  I broke the kiss and grinned wickedly down at him.  “Do you have an idea now?”

“Yes, I think I do.”


 

We emerged after noon, hand in hand.  I was feeling much better, my head and heart felt… lighter than they had since my little “chat” with Natalya.  Roark went immediate to go check on Ryu.  Standing there, I saw my brother sitting at the dining room table, leaning back as Calysta played with his face.

I had to grin.  I loved watching them together.  Watching my little brother’s eyes light up the way they did whenever Cali was near made me one happy big sister.  They may have been opposites, but they were perfect for each other.  My brother needed someone to get him out of himself every now and again.  Left up to his own devices, he’d barricade himself in his room, reading or writing or maybe escape to the garage to tinker on his workbench.  All of which were fine hobbies and he was pretty damn good at them.  But Cali brought out another side to him entirely.  And it warmed my heart.

“Awesome. I’ll be back right after I knock some sense into my brother.” Calysta was saying.  Then she leaned down to place a soft kiss on his forehead.  “Love you, babe.”

“I love you too, Cali.”

I slid into one of the chairs, giggling even as Calysta wheedled the keys to his motorcycle out of my brother.  Little sister certainly knew what she was doing when it came to Alduin.  I watched her skip out of the house and then I turned to my brother, grinning wickedly.  “She’s sure got your number, pal,” I told him, nudging him with my elbow.

“Yeah, guess she does,” he replied, no shame in it whatsoever.

I laughed.  “Oh yeah, you are so totally gone over her.”  I put my hand on his.  “Good, I’m glad.  You two practically give off hearts at all times, ya know.”

He winked at me.  “That’s the idea.”

Mom and Dad joined us at the table a few moments later, drawn by the sound of us picking on one another, I’m sure.  Alduin smiled at them.  “Glad you guys can join us.  There’s been something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about since I got back home.  Just haven’t been able to do it before now.”

Our parents shared a look between them and then waited for him to speak.  “I’ve already said this to Luna, but I wanted you to know before going through with it,” he swallowed a moment, “I’m planning to ask Calysta to marry me.”

They looked at one another again, then Mom told him, “You both are young yet, Alduin, but your father and I are so happy for you.  She’s a terrific girl.  You belong together.”

Dad nodded in agreement.  I could see the pride in his eyes.  “You’re a lucky man, son.  And she’s a lucky girl.  You hold onto her, ok?”

My brother nodded solemnly.  “You can count on that, Dad.  I’m not letting her go.  We belong together.”

It made my throat close up a little to hear him say that.  Knowing what they’d gone through together and knowing what that bitch Natalya had planned for them… it made my blood boil all over again.  I could see the way Mom looked at me, her eyes narrowing.  The only one I’d told so far had been Roark.  I hadn’t been able to bring myself to even tell Mom and Dad.  I may have been the impulsive one in the family, but let me tell you, I inherited my temper from my Mom.  She was just a heck of a lot better at keeping hers at bay.  But it was there.  And nothing would bring it out faster than someone messing with her baby boy.

I should have known.  Even as I thought it, my brother turned to me, his expression utterly serious.  “Ok, Luna.  Spill it.  What happened between you and Natalya?”

I hesitated.  He had a right to know, I knew that.  But I didn’t want to tell him.  My brother was normally very calm and collected.  But I knew that where he and Cali were concerned… something like this would set him off.  He stood up, leaning over the table, getting into my face a little.  “Luna, c’mon, tell me!”  There was a bite to his voice now, enough that my eyes narrowed as I considered him.

I tried to dredge up some anger, or at least something other than the dread that was curling around my spine and creating a shiver that ran through me.  I stared into his red eyes, eyes like my own and knew I had to tell him.  I shut my eyes and let out a breath.  As I did, Roark came out of the nursery and sat down next to me, taking my hand.

Grateful for his presence, I opened them again and looked at my brother.  Haltingly, I told him what I had learned about what the sorceress’s intentions had been for him.  How her ‘help’ would consist of her replacing the missing pieces of his soul with nothing but hate and revilement for the woman he loved.  For a moment, after I finished, my voice trailing off, he just… froze.

I could see the way the fury lit his eyes, and the tremor that ran through his arms as they held him up.  I’d never seen my brother this way.  He’d always been… gentle with a romantic side that he covered with a lot of charm and smarm.  But this… I never cowered and I didn’t now, but something about him, something about seeing him this furious broke my heart.

“Alduin,” I murmured, reaching for him.  My touch on his arm seemed to snap him out of it enough that he stumbled back, basically just falling back into the chair.

His gaze looked down at the floor.  I shoved my chair back and got down in front of him.  “Hey, hey,” I soothed.  As I touched his arm with my hand, my eyes widened.  He was ice cold.  “Alduin!”  There was no response…

I heard my mother release a whimper.  I whipped my head around and all the color had drained from her face.  “Watcher, no.  Please, no!  Not my baby!”  Her hands clutched at the table as she watched my brother, tears swimming in her eyes.  I watched her dissolve into tears.

I shook Alduin’s shoulders, even slapped him across the face, trying to get some kind of response.  But his eyes were… vacant.

“Alduin!”  My voice was sharp, made more so by fear.  Something was terribly wrong… I couldn’t read him.  At all.  There was just… nothing there.  “Damn you, Alduin!  Snap out of it!” I shouted.

Roark pulled me away, gently.  “Let me try, babe,” he murmured.  I could only nod, trying to hold in the sobs that were threatening to burst forth.  He took my place in front of Alduin and touched a hand to either side of my brother’s temple.  He closed his eyes and I could feel him extend his own senses.  But a moment later, he staggered back, shock written all over his face.  That scared me more than anything.  Roark was always certain, always… steady.  For only the second time, I saw him unsteady, even afraid.  “I-I… there’s nothing there.  It-it’s like he’s just… gone.”


I paced around the entrance to the house, wanting to hit something or rend something apart.  But all I could do was hang my head.  It had been an hour or more since I’d told Alduin what I’d learned from Natalya.  An hour that he’d gone completely unresponsive.

Dad had checked all his vitals, tried a couple tricks he’d learned.  But Alduin still hadn’t snapped out of it.  Everyone had tried.  I had, Mom had, even Roark had tried again.  But none of us had any luck.  Even Nan and Pop had tried.  We were all at a loss.  I couldn’t sit still. And I couldn’t do anything else.  I walked back inside.  Nan and Pop were leaning in the doorway, their faces unreadable, even for me.

None of us said it aloud… we didn’t have to.  We all knew this had something to do with the Netherworld.  I knew about the pain.  Mom did too.  She could feel it.  But there wasn’t anything we could about it.

Cyn had come out, and she stood there, looking a little lost as she stood next to her brother.  I looked at my husband.  He’d been silent since the last time he’d tried to reach my brother.  I knew that look.  He was thinking about Alaric.  He’d gotten close to Alduin in a short amount of time and being unable to reach Alduin, as he’d been unable to reach Alaric…  He couldn’t even look me in the eye.

Mom hadn’t been able to stop crying.  She was curled up in Dad’s lap as he held her.  None of us knew what to do.  We were at a loss.

“Call Cali again,” Nan finally said softly as I stood next to her and Pop in the archway.  “Call her, get her back here.”

I swallowed and nodded.  I prayed for all I was worth as the phone rang.  It went to her voicemail.  But I kept calling.  Pick up, Cali, pick up! I ordered in my mind.  Watcher, pick up!

“Luna? What’s going on?”  I could hear the worry in her voice.

“Cali, we need you here. We’ve tried everything. Alduin…”  I couldn’t stop my voice from cracking, no matter how hard I tried.  I couldn’t hide the tears that were threatening to erupt at any moment.  “-he’s just… gone… We can’t get him to respond to anything… Please… just come here.”

I hung up and sat at the table, willing Cali to hurry.


 

Chapter 46: The Dark Knight’s Tale

Author’s Note: Ok guys, I have spent the last two days on this.  I was having a heck of a time.  It is finished and as good as it is going to get.  I hope you guys like it.

To see the full skit, please head to 02.21- The Pharaoh and the Pirate chapter of the Chronicles of Clarke legacy!  Go check it out anyway 😛

From the journal of Roark Wyvern

 

Luna’s deep breathing told me she had finally allowed herself to sleep.  It had gutted me when I’d finally managed to corner her last night and I’d been able to tell just how bad off she was.  The physical effects of using abilities like we had were myriad and often painful.  I didn’t know what she had done, not until she told me, but I knew that she had to be in such pain.  There was no color in her face and her eyes, those beautiful red eyes, were glazed over in agony.

As I looked at her now, she was still too pale for my liking, but I knew I’d have a fight on my hands if I tried to take her to the hospital and the crux of it was, there was little they could do for her anyway.  She needed rest, that’s what would help her.  My wife had the frustrating habit of not thinking of herself.  She was larger than life and had confidence in spades.  That was what drew me to her from day one.  That welcoming and downright intriguing light in her eyes had drawn me to her like a moth to a flame.  And while she was aware of her own beauty, her own self-worth, she was infuriatingly ignorant of the impact that she had on others.  My wife was one that affected whoever she came in contact with… for good or ill.  She often took center stage, often without realizing it.

And she cared.  Her heart was so big.  Her tendency to shepherd everyone around her was another reason I couldn’t help falling for her and falling hard.  But it was gut-wrenching for me to see her like this.  So busy trying to protect her brother and her new little sister, never once thinking of herself or what protecting them could do to her.  That’s who my wife is.  I loved her for it and still, holding her close like this, one of her hands clutched in mine, it broke my heart the way that little whimpers escaped her throat.

I leaned forward to kiss her forehead.  She snuggled closer, letting out a soft sigh.  There was something about seeing a strong woman- and that’s certainly what my wife is- let their guard down.  It didn’t happen often, not even with me.  One of the most infuriating things about her was her propensity to try to handle everything on her own.  Her pride hated it when she appeared weak, though that was never a word that came to mind when I thought of her, nor would you see anyone associate that word with my wife.

After I listened to her breathing for a few hours, I finally let myself fall asleep, listening to the sound of my wife’s heartbeat and feeling her warmth next to me.


The next morning, I slipped out of bed, gently covering Luna with the blanket.  She was still cool to the touch.  She was still in shock, really, from the mental toll she’d taken the night before.  I kissed her forehead and left the bedroom.  I thought about working out, but then I heard the TV on.  I walked into the living room and found my brother-in-law on the couch, playing video games.  I grinned.

“Hey, always heard you were supposed to be really good at this.  Feel up to a challenge?” I asked him, hopping on the couch without waiting for an invitation as I grabbed the second controller.

“Pft, a challenge huh?  Someone thinks highly of himself,” Alduin snickered.  “But I’ll humor you, oh lowly peasant!”

As Alduin switched menus to begin two player mode, I had to grin a little as a memory from a long time ago surfaced.


My little brother, sister, and I had just been taken in the middle of the night from the little apartment in Bridgeport and had been deposited in a house on the far outskirts of the city.  We’d been told very little.  Alaric and Cyn were only about 4.  I was very close to turning 15 soon.  None of us really knew what was happening, other than we were being sent away “for our own protection”, though even then I suspected that wasn’t entirely true.  Still, for us, this was a new adventure and there was a big screen TV there and a couch big enough for all of us to crowd onto it and get to play our favorite games.

Games were something that we’d always enjoyed together.  And even as we all grew, it was something that remained as a favorite pastime.  It was before everything had gone so horribly wrong, when we’d had hope, when we’d been a family.


“Hey, you gonna hit start or what?” Alduin complained, laughing and nudging me with his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m gettin’ there.  Patience is a virtue, Your Highness,” I reminded him with a sneer, shaking my head to clear the memory.  “Oh and prepare to be dethroned.  There’s about to be a bloody coup in the Wyvern house tonight!”

“Pft, you wish!  Your little coup will be nothing but an embarrassing defeat!  Prepare to meet your better on the field of battle!”

It was indeed a bloody battle, and an epic one if I do say so myself.  My brother in law is a worthy opponent.  I might have had him had I been paying better attention.  As it was, it was a close battle.  At the end screen, I shook my head.  “So you keep your title another day,” I told him, grinning.  I leaned back, thinking.

“Another round?” Alduin asked, smirking.

I made a noncommittal noise.  “Hey, I think we need to try cheering up the girls.”

I could see something pass over his face as he looked away.  I understood all too well.  And the worst of it was, he still didn’t know everything.  I thought about warning him, telling him what Luna told me.  Any other time I would have.  But one of the things that Luna had told me that she’d ripped from the sorceress’s mind had been that Alduin had lost a part of himself on the trip back from the Netherworld.  I knew so little about it, I didn’t dare.  I’d let Luna handle that conversation.  Part of me hoped they didn’t go down that road.  My wife wasn’t up to her usual fierceness.  What I was getting off her brother, this time, he’d be the one doing the interrogating.  As much as I wanted to tell him to lay off, I couldn’t.  He had a right to know.

“What do you suggest?”

I shrugged.  “Well, they’d definitely enjoy a day at your family’s spa.  We can use that time to… do something, right?”

Alduin nodded.  “Yeah, they’d love a spa day.”  He pursed his lips.  “What do you have in mind?”

“You know your sister and girlfriend,” I told him.  I hoped he’d come up with something.  I wasn’t the most creative.  Truth is, Luna was easy.  Despite appearances, she wasn’t very high maintenance.  In Bridgeport, we went dancing, had a few drinks, but for the most part, she and I had just loved sitting at home, watching TV or a movie or even playing games.  Once we’d come to Monte Vista, it had all been about the baby and healing, for both of us.  So sitting together outside, or in our room.  That’s what we’d done.

“Cali loves acting, loves theater,” Alduin mused.  “Hey, what about a skit?”

“A skit?”  I reached up to stroke my goatee.  “Hm…”

My brother in law was really getting into it.  “Yeah, a skit!  Think about it, costumes, performing.”  His eyes widened and his smirk turned into a wicked grin. “Oh Watcher… Cali in a SimTrek costume…”

It made me laugh.  There was no shame on his face at all.  “Yeah…” I told him with a snort and a friendly punch to the arm.  “Somehow, think maybe you should save that for uh… when you two are alone.”  But his idea had gotten me thinking.  “Hm, a skit… a skit about true love maybe?” I suggested with a shrug.

He had the grace to blush, though he was still smirking.  “Hm, you’re probably right…”   He ran a hand through his hair, looking thoughtfully to the side. “A skit about true love…”  I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head.   “Think we can get everyone to participate? Would Cyn be up for something like this?”

“My sister would love that!”  I grinned, thinking back once again.


I’d come home from a long day of ROTC training.  I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.  But I’d come through the archway and just stopped.

“Wait, I thought you were going to be the princess,” my younger brother said exasperatedly.

Cyn grinned at him.  “I don’t do so well as the princess.  I’ll play the Dragon for you to slay!”

“But you’re my sister!”

“We’re playin’ pretend though!”


“She and my brother used to love playing pretend,” I murmured.  I spent a lot of time putting the past behind me.  But it had been harder lately, more of it seemed to surface.  I looked at Alduin.  He was Luna’s little brother and by extension mine.  He wasn’t Alaric, the differences were too glaring.  But there was still something about him that reminded me what it had been like, before I’d lost my brother.  It was a bittersweet feeling and one I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

I must have let something show because I felt Alduin put a hand on my shoulder.  “This uh, might help cheer her up, then.”

“Yeah, yeah I think it will.  So, Mr. Writer.  Any ideas?  And think we can get it all set up before they get back?”

He grinned.  “Are you kidding? Let’s get everyone working on it. We can do this. I’ll talk to Dad and Pop. You talk to Mom, Nan and Cyn.” He stood up quickly, ready to make a break for it.

It almost brought out a chuckle.  I was well aware of his opinion on the females in this family.  Truth be told, I empathized with him to a certain extent.  But I had to rib him a bit.  “Oh sure, you would leave me with them, wouldn’t you?”

He stopped and looked at me, completely unrepentant.  “You, powerful vampire.  Me, unassuming loner.  I have faith in you, Roark.”

All I saw was his back in retreat as I called out, “I think I know why you like yellow!  You sure you don’t have “coward” in there instead of loner?”  He stopped and looked back at me, baring his fangs at me in a grin.  I waved him on.  “Go, go.  With tail tucked between your legs.  I’ll protect you from the vicious females.”

His laugh echoed back at me. “They scare me and I’m not ashamed to admit it!”

I sighed in bemusement.  Cyn would be easy.  Aurora would enjoy it, I was fairly sure.  Sophia… I had to admit, of all the Wyverns, Sophia was the most intimidating, even to me.  I wasn’t afraid of her, necessarily.  She reminded me of my first commanding officer after I enlisted.  Unassuming and even congenial, but when there was trouble, she hadn’t batted an eye.  I’d seen grown men, hardened men, cower before her without her raising her voice.  Erin Kennedy had been a transplant from Sunset Valley, risen in the ranks there, then transferred to whip the base in Bridgeport into shape.  Sophia was a lot like her.  Rubbing the back of my neck, I prepared to go and try to pull this together before Luna or Cali woke up.


Roark held a cup of coffee in his hand as he watched his wife sleep.  It wasn’t for him.  His smile was tender as he watched her begin to stir, her nose twitching as she caught the scent of the contents of the mug.  It was always a treat to watch her wake up.  She was still a little pale, but the pain seemed to have left her eyes.  In fact, they twinkled when they opened and lit upon the man standing there with a fresh cup of coffee.

“Is that for me?” she asked, tilting her head at him, a light in her eyes as she looked at him.

“Maybe.  How do you feel?”

“There’s only a dull ache now, and compared to last night, it’s a huge improvement.”

Roark nodded and came and sat down on the bed, handing her the coffee.  “Yeah, that’s definitely better than it was.  Still a bit pale, but your eyes are clear.”  He leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead.  “Luna.  I want your word that you will keep your shields up.  I’m going to bolster them so stray thoughts don’t get in.  What you did yesterday was bad enough to cause physical symptoms.  There’s no telling what the side effects of continuing to use your abilities will be until you heal.”

His wife sighed.  “Roark, I know-“

“Luna, please.  Promise me.”  His gaze was intense as he brought a hand to her cheek.  “You didn’t see yourself last night.  Will you do it, for me?”

The corners of her mouth curled up in a gentle smile.  “Alright, Roark.  For you.  I promise.”

“Good girl,” he murmured.  “Thank you.”  He touched his forehead to hers.  As he did so, he opened a hole in his own shields.  He extended his thoughts out and touched her shields.  Shields took different forms for different people.  When her grandfather had helped her develop her shields, he’d told her to visualize a wall, like the wall of a castle.  It was a good technique.  But much like a castle wall had arrow slits, there were holes in Luna’s shields.  Roark used his power now to help fill those holes.  He’d remove it after a week or so.  He hoped it was enough time for her to heal.

Roark finished and opened his eyes.  Luna crawled over onto his lap after kissing him.  She let out a soft sigh as she cuddled against his chest.  “I think, that after the day you and Cali had yesterday, you guys should go to your family’s spa.  I think it would do you both a lot of good.”

“Mm, that sounds like a wonderful idea,” she purred, nuzzling her cheek over his as she crawled into his lap.


Preparations took a little bit of time.  Alduin and I ran quickly into town to grab a few things while Sophia, Draco, Aurora, and Jeff got things set up in the garage.  But by the time I heard the roar of Luna’s muscle car on the road, we had everything set up.  I smiled at my baby sister.  “You’re up, Cyn.  You remember what to do?”

She nodded vigorously.  “I remember, big brother.  Cali and Luna will love this!  This is so much fun!”  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Cyn looked great.  I hadn’t seen her this excited about something since the one evening I’d taken her to the Summer Festival in Bridgeport.

I’d wanted nothing to do with the city, not after everything that had happened.  Alaric had already left us.  Cyn missed him terribly.  I couldn’t handle another trip to the hospital, so I’d taken her to the festival, hoping it would cheer her up.  She’d had a good time, just exploring the grounds and she even got her face painted.

She looked gorgeous in her chosen outfit for the skit.

“Go on outside.  I hear them now.”  I hugged her and she seemed to glide out the front door just as Luna and Cali pulled up.  I had to grin as I watched them from the window.  It seemed like forever before Cyn led them to the garage.

“Ok, everyone ready?”

I got nods and grins all around.  “Well, here we go then!”

It was pitch dark in the garage, but it wasn’t a problem for me.  Being a vampire has its uses.  I had to lead Alduin in so he didn’t fall flat on his face.  “Hey, watch it!” he grumbled as I made him sit.

“Shhh!” I had to hold in a laugh.

I took my place, and then the lights came on.

As Cyn gave her lines, I had to admire her.  She was doing really well.  She played her Pixiepire role very well.  “Once upon a time, in a desert beside a vast ocean, the pharaoh of Egypt woke up next to the king of pirates.”

Then I heard the reactions of our audience.  Calysta let out a whistle and called out, “I want a pyramid of my own, Pharaoh!”

Then I heard my own wife’s voice call out, “Where’s your queen, baby?  I volunteer!”  It sent a shiver down my spine and I had to hide a grin even as I had to recite my next lines.

Alduin had written the skit revolving around the Pharaoh and the Pirate King who had yet to find love.  It was a good idea, and the way Alduin had written it, the girls would love it.  Except… I’m no actor.  Not by a long shot.  I couldn’t help but stare at my wife, watch the play of emotions over her face.  Turns out, I’m not the only one who couldn’t concentrate on the skit.  My father-in-law couldn’t stop staring at his wife the entire time he was supposed to be speaking.

I did have to hand it to Cyn, though.  She really shined in her part.  Of course, I think she might be spending a bit too much time with my wife.  That smack upside the head was definitely an improvisation.  As was our wild west proprietor and his saloon girl making out in the corner.

By this point, poor Draco was the only one that seemed to be taking his role seriously at all.  He gave his speech rather eloquently.  But his granddaughter was busy flirting with me and I was busy flirting back.

Cyn was still having a ton of fun.  After the last “scene”, Cyn got to bring in the rest of the packages Alduin and I had picked up.  Cali and Luna tore into the packages and then ran up to Cyn’s room to change.  We waited downstairs.

Alduin was being impatient.  “What is taking them so long?” he groused.

Truth be told, I was getting impatient, too.  I wanted to see my wife.  As footsteps sounded above, I held my breath as my wife came down the steps.

It was like a punch right in the gut.  Luna was beautiful, inside and out.  But watching her descend those steps in the garb of a Pirate Queen… It fit her right down to the ground.

When she stood at the bottom of the stairs, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She took my breath away on a regular basis.  But there was something in the way she looked at me then, something that had me closing my eyes for a moment.

She sauntered over to me, her hips swaying.  I’m pretty sure she was trying to kill me.  “Hello my King,” she whispered, her voice low and sultry.

“You… Luna, you are so beautiful.”  It wasn’t in character, wasn’t even all that eloquent as compliments go.  But I couldn’t get the words out.  I couldn’t find any that adequately described how I felt about what I was seeing, or how she made me feel on a regular basis.  I wasn’t a poet, I didn’t have my brother-in-law’s gift with words.

All I could do was tell her the best way I knew how.  Through my actions.  There was activity going on around us, I knew that.  Alduin had been laughing when his sister came down.  But I could hear his breath catch as Calysta came down.

Luna looped her arms around my neck.  We didn’t need words at that moment.  It worked for us.

Truth be told, I wanted to carry my wife off to bed immediately and I was pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that thought either.  But Cyn insisted that we all take some photos to commemorate the night.  So that’s what we did.  I’ll be putting a couple of these in my wallet, I think.

As I lay here, holding my wife close while we get ready to sleep after we had taken care of our son, I can’t help but look back on tonight with a smile.  I’m certainly no actor.  I’ll leave that to Calysta.  But it was the most fun I remember having… ever, really.  I snuggled closer to my wife.

“Good night my Pirate King,” she murmured, her voice already half-asleep.

“Good night, my Queen,” I whispered back, leaning up to kiss her cheek before closing my eyes and letting myself fall into sleep.


Author’s Note: Another huge shoutout to Ivane.  The shots from the skit are all hers.  Aren’t they just freakin’ awesome?  And she found the costumes which I just love!

Chapter 42: Revelations

Author’s Note: Ok, so I apologize if this update feels a bit all over the place.  I’m not all that happy with it, but I hope you guys enjoy it.  Another huge shoutout to Miss Ivane.  She has once again been a huge help and our collaboration continues to be such a blast.  So if you haven’t done so yet, go check out the Chronicles of Clarke, the link is in the right hand side of the blog!  Go, do it now!  If there are any errors in this, it is entirely my fault XD

Any gathering of the Wyverns is a boisterous affair.  We just can’t help ourselves.  I know it can be a bit… much for those not used to it.  We all tend to talk at the same time, argue a little, laugh a lot.  I know it’s a lot of chaos, though I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And despite my brother’s propensity for avoiding a lot of contact for long periods of time, I don’t think he would either.  Watching him with Cali, the way he glides his hand up and down her back, or how he’ll brush his fingers along her elbow.  Cali does much the same, a little touch here, or a brush of her fingertips there.  I recognize the look in their eyes, the way the eyes almost seem to glow.

It’s good to see.  I’d love any woman my brother brought home because he loves her.  But I always hoped I could love the woman herself.  And I can already see that I will.  But something’s been bothering me.  Cali is what I call a “broadcaster”.  Most regular humans have some form of shielding on their minds.  But just like there are some with natural shields, there are some that tend to broadcast their thoughts.  I’d been able to pick up things from Cali since she arrived.  The poor thing was nervous, but it was much more than that.  I had my suspicions, but I’ll look into a little later.

For now, I was concentrating on my brother.

I’ve never been one to beat around the bush, especially not where my family was concerned.  I wanted the story, the full story from him.  “So Alduin,” I began, watching him carefully.  “You died.”

That silenced the chatter.  We’d all been wanting to know.  No one but me knew how to broach the subject.  After what happened in Bridgeport, I knew the only way to get through painful news was to get it over with.

Alduin told his story and as I listened, images flashed in my mind.  Normally, I had a strict code about not intruding.  I picked up enough surface thoughts that I didn’t need to pry.  But I was making an exception in this case.  I didn’t need my telepathy to know that my brother was hiding something.  I knew him too well.  Even the way he met my gaze, then dropped his for a split second had warning bells going off.  The story that he told was bad enough to make my blood run cold.  But then I got a shock.  A picture of two men I knew too well flashed in my brain.  My eyes narrowed dangerously at my brother, but he was looking at Cali, his hand rubbing her back in small circles, reassuring her.

The Treskers… I had to bring my hand to my lap to hide the fact that it was clenched into a fist hard enough that my nails dug into my palm.  They’d gone after my brother… The realization that he knew their name hit me and it took all my control to keep the growl from escaping my throat.  Me and little brother were going to have a talk.  Yes we would…

If that little revelation wasn’t enough, there was finding out about two new groups.  The Guardians and the Caste.  I’d heard whispers of these names while in Bridgeport, but from what I could tell then, they didn’t operate here much.  There were other Realms, if you listened to those in the know.  I hadn’t liked what I’d heard.  Both sides had their own agendas, and mostly they opposed one another.  Their interest in my brother’s girlfriend made me nervous.  The thought of this Natalya having a connection to them would require me looking into things more and it added another punch to my theory.

<”Luna, what’s wrong?”> my husband asked silently.

<”I’ll tell you later.”>

Pop and I handled the questions.  He and I had shared a look.  Of everyone aside from Roark, he and I had the most contacts within Monte Vista as well as abroad.  Every little bit would help us dig into this more.  And you can bet that we’d be doing a lot of digging.  After everything that’s happened to this family, we weren’t going to let something else happen to Alduin or Cali.

Unless you counted me boxing his ears… which he’d be getting later, that much I promised myself.  But the cries of my son saved him… for the moment.  Thought it was the perfect time to introduce Ryu to his Uncle and his Aunt.  I’d fed him already and placed him in the crib, letting them get a good look at him.

If it were up to my brother, that’s all he would do, I knew.  I could see the pride in his eyes, but there was also trepidation there.  Alduin had never been exposed to kids, really.  Well, it was time for a crash course.  If the look in Cali’s eyes was any indication, my brother wouldn’t have much of a choice in that exposure.  The best way to deal with Alduin was just to go through it, make it quick, like pulling off a bandaid fast.

After I’d placed Ryu in his arms, Alduin had certainly frozen, but it didn’t take him long to warm up to Ryu.  Of course, my son knew just how to get to him too.  Seeing the look on my brother’s face, the same wonder I feel whenever I hold my son had me smiling.  When Cali got into the picture, it was just beautiful.

Of course, I had to howl at the look on his face after Cali whispered something into his ear.  I’m sure it was along the lines of how many kids she wanted someday.  After rescuing my son and laying him down for his nap, we wandered back out into the hall.

Mom and Dad, Pop and Nan had already gone off to do various chores or just go relax.  So it ended up that Roark, Cali, Alduin, and I stood chatting.  Unsurprisingly, Roark and Alduin stepped off a ways while Cali and I gushed over shoes.  She’d been admiring mine, apparently.  “We definitely have to go shopping together before you guys leave!” I told her.  “We’ll make it a girl’s day, just the two of us.”

Roark nodded to my brother.  “Luna’s been looking forward to this visit for a while.”  He grinned.  “She was up before dawn this morning.”

“Wait, Luna?  My sister?  The one who needed three cups of coffee to feel human even at noon?”

My husband laughed.  “Yes, that Luna.”

I could feel Alduin look at me sideways and I didn’t need to see his face to see that smirk of his.  “It’s good to be home.  I’ve missed this place.  And it’s good to see Luna’s home.  How are you finding our dear Monte Vista?”

Roark smiled.  I could feel his gaze on me.  I was always very aware of my husband’s gaze.  “It’s home,” he replied after a moment.  “I was never attached to Bridgeport and had I been stationed somewhere else all those years ago, would have gone there.  But this is home now.”  He eyed me again.

Alduin grinned.  “That’s good to hear.  You won’t have to go anywhere else will you?  Any other deployments?”

Roark shook his head.  “I doubt it.  Few missions here and there, but nothing extended.  This will be my post for the foreseeable future.  What about you?  Luna tells me you’ll be going on to Aurora Skies eventually?”

My brother nodded.  I had to swallow at that.  I knew Alduin was a grown up now.  And that means he would go his own way, but it seemed so far.  We’d just gotten him back… and I realized that I was thinking just like my mother had before I went to Bridgeport.  Sucks when things come back, huh?

“I’m about to go down for my workout, wanna join me, Alduin?” Roark asked.

“Sure, why not.  Cali, you ok here with Luna?”

I rolled my eyes and faced my brother with my hands on my hips.  “Shoo, go now.  I’ll entertain your girlfriend.  Place nice, you two.”

Roark just grinned.  “That’s no fun!”

I laughed.  “Go!  Both of you!”


 

Roark looked up at the chin bar.  He extended his arms and gripped the bar.  His brother-in-law was on the weight machine.  The two men worked out in silence for a long moment.

“So,” Roark began nonchalantly.  “How long have you been working for the Agency, Alduin?”

Alduin froze.  He slowly turned his head toward the vampire.  “What did you say?”

“I was an intelligent asset early in my career,” Roark continued.  “I dealt with some of their operatives.  Someone like you?  Obviously powerful mediumistic abilities, a Wyvern… you guys have had a reputation for a while, thanks to your grandfather.  Yeah, they’d salivate for a chance at someone like you.”

Alduin thought furiously, thinking of denying it all.  Then he just let out a laugh.  “Great… you and my sister are meant for each other.  Never could keep a secret from her…  Does she know?”

“She suspects.”  Roark grinned as he continued to do pull ups.  “There isn’t much she doesn’t suspect.  And I’m sure she’ll get it out of you later.  But I haven’t told her anything.  I figure that’ll be up to you.  Thought I should warn you though.  You know how she is once she gets on a scent… and let’s face it, we both know you kept something back from your story.”

Alduin winced.  “I’m doomed, aren’t I?”

Roark laughed.  “Yeah, pretty much.  That’s ok, I’ll be right there with ya, when she finds out I suspected and that we had this conversation.  Something to be said for living dangerously, huh?”

The younger man couldn’t help but let out a snort.  “Yeah, if that’s what ya wanna call it.”  He sobered up.  “So, what was the purpose of this conversation?”

Roark was silent for a long time.  Finally, he said, “The one who tried to kill you, you know who they are, don’t you?  You didn’t tell us for a reason.  I can only assume that reason is to protect someone you care about.”

“Yeah… yeah, I gotta figure out that if you know about the Agency, and could put two and two together, you must have a pretty good idea who it was.  I… I know my sister.  She’ll go after them as soon as she knows it was the Treskers.  She’s too impulsive not to.  I hope that you have better discipline.”

Alduin couldn’t see the way Roark’s eyes glowed with a cold light.  “I have enough discipline not to hunt them down like the dogs they are.  For now.  I know my wife, too.  I don’t doubt her courage or her resolve… or the ability to land smack dab in the middle of trouble at a moment’s notice.  I don’t want her going after them.  And she will.”

The two men lapsed into silence, both with their own thoughts, but running along very similar veins.


 

I looked at the tiny bundle in my arms.  “That’s my beautiful boy,” I cooed.  “Who’s a good boy?”

Ryu let out a giggle and a coo.

I lay my son back into his crib and stretched a little.  It had been a good day.  Seeing my brother and Cali had been much needed.  It had also raised questions.  Questions that kept running through my mind.  I wandered into my room, letting it all stew in my brain.  There was my husband, freshly showered and dressed.  “Hey handsome.”

“Hello beautiful,” he greeted.

“So, did you and my brother have a nice workout?” I asked casually.

Roark just grinned.  “We did,” he answered, his eyes gleaming.

I stamped my foot.  “Argh, I hate it when you do that.  Not gonna tell me anything, are ya?”

“Nope.  What fun would that be?  You’ll get it out of him tomorrow, anyway, right?”

Grumbling under my breath, I let out a sigh.  “True enough.  C’mon, let’s relax for a while, then get some sleep.”

“Great idea.”


 

“So, was it as bad as you thought?” Alduin asked as his girlfriend settled onto his bed.  He was as giddy as a school boy to be able to sleep in the bed he’d grown up in with the person who meant the world to him.  Just as it had been like some kind of wonderful dream to watch her meet his family and see the way they just… folded her right in.

Cali’s smile was beautiful. “I am in love with your family,” she murmured.

He pulled her close into his arms.  “I’m so glad to hear you say that.  They’re in love with you, too, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Oh yeah? What’s not to love right?” She grinned flirtatiously and flicked her brows at him but she couldn’t quite suppress the shudder as Why would they love you?  You bring nothing special to them ran through her mind.

Alduin grinned at her.  “Cold?  Well c’mere, I’ll warm you up.”  He waggled his eyebrows at her even as his lips covered hers.


 

Chapter 41: An Emotional Homecoming

Author’s Note:  This is a major collaboration with Ivane and I give her a huge shoutout!  So, if you haven’t met the Clarkes yet, click on the link in the right hand side of the page.  She is also the one that got the screenshots for this part, so huge thank you Ivane!

I stared at my computer screen for a moment, my eyes drifting to the time in the corner.  When you’re a kid, you always feel like time seems to slow down just when you need the time to pass quickly.  Well, it doesn’t get any better when you’re an adult either.  I’d been up since before dawn, which is a miracle for me.  I’m a night owl, through and through.  Good thing I married a vampire, huh?  Anyway, I’d lain in bed next to Roark for a while, but I was too excited to sleep.  A few days ago, I’d begun taking on a few cases again.  Mostly a lot of computer work, internet searches, maybe a very tiny bit of some illicit hacking…  Simple stuff.  I wasn’t quite ready to go back out into the field.  Not yet.  But it was really hard to concentrate at that point.  I’d had a few too many cups of coffee, too, I think.

Alduin and his girlfriend were due in a bit later that morning.  I wanted to see my brother.  I’d missed him something fierce.  I’d been having dreams lately.  They weren’t visions this time.  Just the aftermath of that last vision and knowing I could have… no, I did lose my brother, even if only for a little while.  Knowing he made it back didn’t lesson the fear nor the pain that had settled in my chest.  I sat back and closed my eyes, letting my shields down.  It had become a habit to keep them up at all times.  But every now and again, I just liked to take stock.  I knew Roark was in the nursery, cooing at his son.  I could tell what he was thinking.  Since we’d gotten married, we’d begun to work with each other on establishing links.  It could be difficult at times because a vampire’s shields were naturally strong.  Where I had had to work to establish a shield, he had to work to bring it down.

I could only grin.  Roark loved his time with his son.  And I could see Roark lifting up Ryu, our boy giggling like mad.  He loved his daddy.

I stretched my senses further.  Dad and Pop were at their normal place at the chess table.  That wasn’t anything new.  Pop was about to lose his queen to Dad’s knight.  I grinned.  Pop lured him in every time with that move and Dad still couldn’t resist.  Nan was just about to cook up a big batch of her famous pancakes.  And Mom was grabbing the trash to take it out.  Mom was ecstatic.  We’d had an early thaw, though winter wasn’t quite done yet, I don’t think.  Mom was happy though that the weather would be nice for Alduin and Cali’s visit.  That and she hated bundling up for the cold.

My eyes widened and I had to swallow.  I jolted upright in the chair.  They were here… Alduin and Calysta were finally here!  They were standing outside our door!

I was mortified to find tears welling up.  I’d love to blame it on those residual pregnancy hormones, but the truth was, I was so happy that he was here.  But I couldn’t go out there with tears in my eyes.  Alduin would take one look and run away.  The poor boy couldn’t stand to see a woman cry.  They undid him like nothing else.  So I wiped my eyes and tried to compose myself.  Still, couldn’t help but keep my senses attuned.

I know Mom had to sense them and I could see the smile playing at her lips.  She went to the trash can, waving at the two of them.

Before the bag hit the bottom of the trashcan, Mom was throwing her arms around my brother’s neck.  “Oh my boy,” she murmured, sniffling.  “It’s so good to see you.”

“Hey, Mom.”  Alduin held onto Mom for a bit.  “It’s good to be home.”

They separated and Mom stood there, looking at the lovely young woman Alduin had brought with him.  “Mom,” Alduin said, the pride and love unmistakable in his voice.  “This is Cali.  Cali, this is my mom, Aurora Wyvern.”

Mom smiled warmly at her, her red eyes full of kindness.  “Welcome to Monte Vista, to our home, sweetheart.  C’mon, your Nan just made her world-famous pancakes, Alduin.  You guys came just in time for breakfast!”

“We ate on the plane, Mom.  Part of the first class package you and Dad paid for.  We’ll be right in, though.”  Alduin looked at Calysta, smiling at her.  “Ready for the madness?” he murmured softly.  Seeing that look in my brother’s eyes made me sigh sappily as I wandered out to the kitchen.

I had to giggle when I heard her reply, “Don’t be scared, Alduin.  I’ll hold your hand.”  Her voice was amused, though it didn’t take a telepath to notice that there was a slight undercurrent to her tone.  She was nervous.  Poor thing.  Hoped she was ready for us.  Though something told me that she’d do just fine.

Calysta and Alduin made their way inside.  I restrained myself… though just barely, from leaping at my brother.  Didn’t want to scare the poor girl.  My brother on the other hand, I had no problem doing that to him, of course.  But I’d let her get accustomed to us a little first.  Nan had just gotten up from the table and was wandering into the kitchen when she saw Alduin.  I heard her sniffle and saw her have to reach up to wipe at her eyes.  “My boy’s home!” she murmured.

Ah, Nan, don’t do that!  You’ll get me started again!

“You c’mere right now, my boy!” she demanded, grabbing her grandson in a bear hug.  The woman may have been over 90 now, but it hadn’t slowed her down at all, nor made her in anyway frail.  I could hear the audible ‘oof’ from Alduin as he hugged her.

“Heya, Nan.  Sure did miss you.”

He stepped back and Cali stepped forward, a pretty smile on her face.  “Hi, I’m Calysta Clarke.  I’m Alduin’s girlfriend.”

Nan beamed at her.  “Yes you are, dear.  Welcome to our home, child.  Feel free to call me Nan.  Probably should warn you, this bunch is a little on the overwhelming side, so I hope we don’t scare you too badly.”

Alduin laughed.  “Don’t worry, Nan.  I’ve given her plenty of warning about this crew here.”

As Alduin and Cali chatted with Nan, I crept up behind them.  Ok, so maybe I couldn’t resist it anymore.  Nothing like being thrown into the deepend, right?

With a yell of, “You’re mine, little brother!” I leapt on Alduin’s back.  “Hey, this isn’t fair!  Who gave you permission to grow up!?”

Had to hand it to him, he managed to keep his feet.  I heard Calysta let out a tinkling, musical laugh even as Alduin kept me from falling off of his back.  Nan was rolling her eyes.  “My goodness, Luna,” she scolded, though I could see the smile on her face.  I could hear the chuckle rumbling up from his chest.  I leapt off and he turned around to face me.  We just stared at one another for a long moment.

<”Hey, little brother,”> I murmured in his mind.  I had missed this connection.  Distance did affect my abilities.  There was something about being able to talk mind to mind that just accentuated the closeness.

<”It’s good to see you, sis.  Very good.  I… I was worried about you.  We all were.”>

<”I know and I’m sorry about that.  I shouldn’t have worried everyone like that.  I was ashamed, Alduin.  Ashamed and so confused.  A-admitting what I did, to you, especially, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  I-I didn’t want it to change how you saw me.”>

<”Luna, I love you.  Nothing will change that and nothing will change how I see you.  You’re my big sister.  Though…”>  I could see that glint in his eyes that meant he was going to say something that I was going to have to smack him for later.  <”You are a little shorter now, aren’t you?”>

I had to laugh, even as I smacked his shoulder.  “Watch it you,” I growled aloud.  Communicating through telepathy was a much quicker form of speaking compared to using speech.  Only a couple seconds had gone by.  I turned around to face Calysta, a big smile on my face.

“Hi, I’m Luna Wyvern.  Welcome to the family, little sister.”


 

Chapter 40: The Newest Wyverns

Author’s Note: This is a smaller update, but I figure you guys would enjoy it ^^  Not a whole lot happens, so sorry if anyone is bored XD  Let me give a shoutout to Blamsart!  I used at least one of their poses in this chapter and will be using many more later!

To:  Baby Brother (970-541-1234)

Subject: Hey Uncle Alduin!

Ryu says: “Aren’t I cute, uncle Alduin?  Mommy says that you had better come to visit me soon or you’re going to have a whole family reunion come down on your head.  I wouldn’t make her mad.  Mommy means it.”

Alduin stared at the picture of his nephew that his sister had just texted to him.  He had to admit, even with him swaddled in blue like that, the kid was cute.  Of course, he didn’t know the first thing about kids.  In fact, as cute as the kid was, Alduin wondered how his sister handled something so fragile.  He had to grin at the message, at least the first part.  The second part had him gulping.  He knew his sister meant that wholeheartedly and he had no doubt whatsoever that everyone would come, including the baby!  A shudder passed over his frame and he grimaced.  Taking his phone out, he sent a quick reply: He’s adorable, sis.  He’s gonna be a real cutie.  You don’t know how happy I am that the both of you are ok.  He hit send.

Next thing he knew, his phone was ringing.  He winced when he saw the caller ID.  “Hey, Luna.”

“Don’t you ‘hey, Luna’ me!”  Alduin gulped.  He was used to his sister’s banter.  What he wasn’t used to was hearing her voice crack like that.

“Oh, c’mon, Luna, you aren’t crying are you?”

“So what if I am?  I have a right to cry.  Are you ok?”

He thought about making light of it, as he normally would have, as he often did with Cali.  But this was Luna.  And if she was upset enough to be crying, he owed her more than that.  “I’m alive, sis.  Which I count as pretty ok.”

“Alduin…” she warned, sniffling.

The thought of Luna actually breaking down on the other end of the line had him panicking.  “Luna, really.  I’m fine.  There’s some… residual pain, but I’m fine.  I promise.”

“You better be,” she murmured, swallowing.  He could hear her take a deep breath.  “When are you coming home?”

“Thought about after the term is over.”

“You’re bringing, Cali right?”

Alduin chuckled.  His sister didn’t have a subtle bone in her body and the innocent way in which she asked that had warning bells glaring in his head.  “Yes, Cali will be coming with me,” he told her, tongue-in-cheek.  He’d let Luna stew a bit. Except, he knew very well that she had no patience.

Luna growled over the phone.  “Don’t get cute!  I want the scoop on her little brother!  You guys are an item, aren’t you?  I want details!”

“Crimeny, Luna,” Alduin laughed.  It was good to hear Luna’s voice, even when she was prying information out of him.  “Yeah, you could say we’re an item.  I promise, I’ll tell you all about it, ok?  Promise.”

“I’ll hold ya to it.  Just remember, don’t even think about trying to get out of visiting with your Cali.  I guarantee if you try, you’ll have an invasion.  Is that understood?”

Alduin rolled his eyes, rubbing his free hand on the back of his neck.  “Yes, ma’am.  We’ll be there.  I’ll give you flight info later, alright?”

“You better.”  Her heard her breath hitch.  “And take care of yourself, Alduin.  I mean it.  I-I love you, little brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.  Take care of yourself and that little guy, ok?  We’ll see each other soon.”


 

I had to wipe away the tears as I hung up my phone.  I wanted my little boy.  I couldn’t be sad when I was holding him.  I opened the door, then stopped.  I quietly closed the door.  Tears stood in my eyes.  “There ya go, little man,” my husband murmured, “all changed and fed.  That’s my boy.”

As I watched the tableau, my throat constricted.  Watching Roark hold our son, hearing the love in his voice brought home just what I had.  My brother was safe, I’d get to see him in a few weeks.  I had a husband who loved me and a beautiful little boy.

I must have made a noise… or maybe he could just sense me.  Whatever it was, he turned around.  He smiled.  “Hey, look.  There’s your Mama, Ryu.  Isn’t she gorgeous?”  Our son cooed in answer.  Roark laughed.  “See?  He knows the way to a girl’s heart already.”

I sniffled.  “I used to tell my brother roses did the trick.”

Roark laughed as he gently lowered Ryu back into his crib.  After placing a gentle kiss on his son’s forehead, he went to me and picked me up in a bear hug, then found my lips with his.

I sniffled some more.  “What’s this now?” he asked, putting me at arm’s length.  “Baby, why are you crying?”

“M-must be hormones,” I murmured, looking away, “residual hormones.”

“Luna, baby, talk to me,” he murmured, putting a hand on my shoulders, holding me in place.

“I-I just got off the phone with Alduin.  I knew he was ok, but… hearing his voice…  I got weepy.  I went to go cuddle Ryu and there you were with him.  It just… made my heart melt.”

Roark smiled.  His smile was soft and tender.  And it never failed to make my heart turn over.  He picked me up and carried me into our room.  He just sat down on the edge of the bed, holding me close.  He didn’t say anything, just held me close for a long moment.

I couldn’t help laughing, though.  “Snic, you’re snoring, there girl,” I murmured, raising my head to look at the dog that had decided our bed was the perfect place to sleep.

Roark snickered.  “Silly mutt.”  He leaned over and ruffled the dog’s fur.  Snic was one of Roark and Cyn’s dogs.  She had a sister named Snac.  I haven’t had much of a chance to introduce them.  Both are pure bred collies.

Snic gave a groan and picked her head up.  Yawning, she stood up and padded out.  I imagine she was going to go find Ares.  Snic and Snac were fitting in just fine around here.  I had my suspicions.  They were getting along really well. Snic had taken quite the shine to Ares and Snac adored Apollo.

Roark kissed me gently.  “I love you.”

I linked my arms around his neck.  “I love you, too.  I love you so much.”

“I think you’ll feel better once you go take a shower, stand in the spray like you like to.”

I nodded.  That was a good idea.  I reluctantly got up and padded into the attached bath.  After a good long shower, I wandered out.  My husband lay on our bed, looking relaxed.  He smiled at me and winked.

“You look comfortable.”

“Just waiting for my wife.”  He stood up and followed me out into the hall.  Then he grabbed my arm, spun me around and dipped me toward the floor, covering my lips with his.

Mom walked by.  “If you two want some alone time, that’s perfectly fine with me.  I’m going to go and spend a bit of time with my grandson.”  She walked right into the nursery and shut the door.  Roark and I laughed.  Our son is quite the hit, as you can imagine.

His gram adores him.  Gramps does, too.  Soon as Dad gets home from the hospital, he makes a bee-line to the nursery to get a bit of time in with his grandson.

Of course, Pop and Nan dote on their first great-grandson something fierce, too.

Even his Aunt Cyn can’t resist him.

She was leery at first.  “W-what if I drop him?” she asked fearfully.  But Roark just laughed and he gently laid Ryu in her arms.  Cyn looked down into his eyes and the wonder on her face was something to behold.  “H-he’s so tiny,” she murmured.  “And so cute.”

Between all the people in the house vying for his attention, it leaves Roark and I time to just be together.  Even though it’s still winter, one of our favorite things to do every night is just to go out and sit in the snow, looking up at the stars.


 

It never ceases to amaze me the capacity for caring that my family has.  I knew they’d welcome Roark and his sister into our family.  And even knowing that, watching them handle her, even in one of her fragile states, is something else.  She’s taken to watching the gardening channel with Nan just about every night.

Just this evening, they unveiled something they’d been working on.  My great-grandmother had had quite the garden once upon a time.  Pop and Dad has spent the last few days digging through the snow, taking the plants and then replanting them in the greenhouse they had built.  Now, Cyn can care for these plants at all hours and not have to worry about weather or more importantly, the sun.

She was ecstatic.  We have a hard time getting her out of the garden, now.

But she’s very happy.  Even ventured to get a part time job at the Science Center here in town.  It took a little convincing.  She’d loved the job in Bridgeport, but she was still getting used to Monte Vista.  It’s a good sign though.


 

Well, my suspicions were confirmed!  It seems Snic is pregnant with a litter of pups.

Boy, is this house going to be a full one before too long…  And I can’t wait.  Before too much longer, Alduin will be home for a while, and I’ll get to actually meet his girl.  Life is good right now.


 

Chapter 38: The Meaning of Family

We ate breakfast at the dining room table.  Conversation was light.  Roark sat there next to me, his voice quiet when he was asked a question, but otherwise he was silent.  Cyn sat there, looking all around her, sometimes in fascination, sometimes with an almost calculating look.  It was hard to know sometimes just what she was thinking.  My family was welcoming, smiling and joking like normal.  Once everyone had eaten (Cyn had finished her tube of plasma juice; Roark was nursing his, deep in thought), the dishes were cleared.  Nan stood up.  “Roark, Cyn,” she murmured.  “Welcome to our home, both of you.  We have something to show you both.  When Luna told us you were both coming, we had some work done.”

She looked at Roark and smiled.  “I know you worry about your sister, but you want her to have her privacy.  We think this will work nicely.”  She led the way to the garage.  “We had a small room constructed up there ages ago and just hadn’t really thought of what to do with it.  I think we found something.”  She ushered them up first.  I followed them.  I couldn’t believe it.  They’d turn it into a small efficiency apartment, decorated in bright yellows.  It had a mini fridge to house all the plasma juice she’d need, a double bed, a small bathroom, a large TV, and a sink.

Cyn went crazy.  She ran and jumped on the bed, and ran around the little space.  Roark just looked on, tears in his eyes.  “T-thank you,” he murmured gruffly, his arm around my waist.  He looked at my family.  “Thank you, all of you.  This-this-“  He let out a shuddering breath.  “What you’ve done here… I can’t ever repay you but-“

“Hush on this talk of repayment,” Nan scolded, hand on her hip.  “We’re family here, Roark.  Cyn’s family now, so we’re happy to do what we can.”  She smiled as she watched Cyn dive onto her bed face first again.  Pop, his stance much like Roark’s, with his arm snaked around my grandmother’s waist, nodded, grinning from ear to ear.

“Sophia’s right,” he announced.  “Family does what it needs to do to see to their own.  You’re our own now.”  He laughed at Cyn’s antics.  “Let’s let her enjoy herself.  We can all go have a cup of coffee… tea for you, Eclipse.”  I gave him a pout.  I missed coffee…

We all trooped back into the house, leaving Cyn to enjoy her new space.  We all ended up back at the dining room table.  We were too numerous for the island or even the living room now.  Mom, Dad, Nan, and Pop took a seat.  Roark was holding my hand.  After they were seated, he cleared his throat.  He looked at me, holding both of my hands in his.  Then he addressed my family- no, OUR family.  “I want to say something to all of you.  I want to thank you all.  I know you say I don’t have to.  But I want to.  I don’t have experience with a family like yours.  My own… you know who my mother is.  And that, in and of itself, is a miracle.  I made mistakes when it came to your daughter.  Mistakes I regret with all my heart.  I made those mistakes because I made assumptions.  You have welcomed me, the son of someone who has caused you all so much pain…”  I could see the tears in his eyes.  My own watered.

He cleared his throat.  “I didn’t believe Luna when she said you’d welcome me.  I’m sorry for that, baby.  I really am.”  He looked at them all now.  “I love her with all my heart.  I know she told you what happened.  No matter what went on between us, I want us to move on, to look to our future.  Our future together, our child.”  Now I was really crying.

“I just want you all to know that I am humbled by what I have been shown here by you all.  So thank you.”

Pop stood up.  He had a serious look on his face.  “The measure of a person is their actions.  What they do because- or despite- their blood, their environment says a lot about them.  Son, you’ve had a hard life, a lot harder than most.  What you’ve done is just short of miraculous.  You’ve looked after your sister and have done a heck of a job with her.  She’s happy and healthy.  I know her condition can be difficult to deal with.  But you’ve embraced it.  And I see the way you look at our Eclipse, like she’s your whole world.  I can’t ask more than that.”  The serious face fell away and his eyes twinkled as he winked.  “Especially not with this family.  Our women are a bit of a handful, after all.  We try to look after them, but-“  Nan reached up and smacked her husband on the shoulder.

“You better watch it, or you’ll need to be looked after,” she growled.  “Sit down, Draco.”  Her eyes twinkled with mirth… and something else as she looked at Roark.  She nodded.  Even my mother gave him a nod.

I was oblivious to what was going on.  Roark pulled me to him, hugging me tightly.  “I love you, Luna,” he whispered.

With what I’d calling a steeling breath, he got down on one knee.  My eyes must have been the size of saucers.  He pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it.  “Luna Eris Wyvern,” he murmured, “You are the light of my night, that which illuminates my life.  I love you with all my heart.  Please, you would make me the happiest man in the world if you’d agree to become my wife.  I don’t want to go another day with regrets where you’re concerned, baby.”  His voice cracked.  “Luna, marry me.”

He slid the ring on my finger; I couldn’t speak.  I had clapped a hand to my mouth to keep the squeak I knew was coming at bay.  As I looked at that ring twinkling on my finger, I took my hand off my mouth and just looked at him.  Even before, we’d never actually defined our relationship.  We’d never actually been a couple.  Things had just… tumbled into place after our first meeting.  And then things had gone so very wrong.  I’d betrayed Roark, plain and simple.  And because of that, because I’d allowed my own pride interfere, we’d both been manipulated and someone had died.  And yet… there he was, asking me to become his wife.

All of these whirled through my mind at warp speed, but I’d been silent for long enough that I could hear the uncertainty in his voice when he asked, “Luna?  Baby?”

I threw myself at him, a very pregnant woman, my arms twining around his neck.  “Yes,” I sobbed, unable to hold the dam back.  “Yes, Roark.  I’ll marry you.”

He held me tightly, though very conscious of my condition, I knew.  As my family cheered around us, he put me at arms’ length.  When he did, he said, “Luna, I hope you or your family doesn’t object, but… I’d like to take your name.  I want to be a Wyvern.  I-is that ok?”

In answer, I just stared at him.  “Of course you can!” I exclaimed.  Then, I looked at him, an urgency egging me on. “Let’s do it now, Roark.  I don’t want to wait.  I-I want to be your wife.  I-I want a fresh start for you and I.  Can we do that?”

“Now?  I… I don’t mind, Luna, but… don’t you want your brother here?”

“I would love it if Alduin could come back for this.  I really would.” There were tears in my eyes again.  “He’ll understand.  And I’ll make it up to him when he comes home to visit again.  I just… I want this fresh start, Roark.”

He kissed me gently.  “Alright.  We’ll do it now.  Any objects here?”

My family shook their heads.  If any of them were shocked, they didn’t show it.  They just smiled at the both of us.  Mom and Pop got up and went to me.  “Don’t you want a dress baby?” Mom asked me.

“No, Mama.  I wouldn’t be able to fit into one right now anyway,” I told her wryly.  “Y-you understand, don’t you?”

“Of course I do baby.  I do.  It’s alright.  You should at least get dressed though.  It’s cold out there, baby.”

“I’ll be ok, Mama.”  I know I was being ridiculous.  I was still in my nighty for crying out loud!  But… I just wanted to marry Roark.  Maybe it was the hormones talking after all, but I wanted it so badly.  Roark was talking to my grandmother about something, though I couldn’t hear what she said.

Pop seemed to know not to say anything.  He just leaned down a bit and gave me a hug.  There were no words needed.

After a few minutes, Roark went to me and grabbed my hand.  “Your grandmother says we might as well go use the wedding arch in the backyard.  I’m not going to argue with her.  Are you sure you don’t want a coat, baby?”

“I’ll be ok, Roark.  Really.”

And so, we trekked through the several inches of snow to the wedding arch at the back of the property.  Roark and I stood under the arch.  It was cold, but to be honest, I barely felt the wind.  Standing there, just looking at him, knowing that soon enough, we’d be husband and wife, that part of me that was still bleeding, still scarred from the mistakes I had, was finally healing.  Oh we had a long way to go, I knew.  Maybe we’d never fully be at peace over what happened, but we had each other.  And soon enough, we’d have a child to love as well.

Apparently, what my grandmother had been talking to Roark about was rings.  She’d given him the set she and my grandfather had used almost 40 years ago.  So, with my grandparents’ rings, Roark and I exchanged vows with our family looking on.  As he slid the ring on, he murmured, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to unite two lives, and two hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you with my last breath.”

Tears slid down my cheeks when it was my turn.  I slid the ring on his finger and gave my own vow, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to never give up on you, to treat you as my partner, my friend, and above all, my heart of hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you until the end of my days.”

We clasped hands.  We were both trembling with emotion.

“Kiss already!” Nan called out after a moment.  It brought out a chuckle from the gathered family.  Roark laughed and he pulled me close, his lips soft and tender against mine.  I didn’t want soft and tender.  My arms went around him and I gave him a real kiss.

When we finally came up for air, Roark took my hand and led me back inside.  I didn’t even notice that my teeth were chattering.


 

Aurora leaned against her husband, ignoring the cold snow against her bare legs.  “Well… this has certainly been interesting.”

Jeff sighed.  “Yeah, you could say that.”  The wedding was over.  Roark had led Luna back inside already and Draco and Sophia had followed.  “I think they’ll be ok, though.”

“I hope so,” Aurora murmured.  “I think they have a long way to go yet, but I think they’ll get there.  They’ve both been through so much pain, it’s almost cloying for me, Jeff.”

“I’m sorry, Rora.  I wish there was something I could do for you, and for them.”

“Sometimes there’s nothing we can do.  Just give them time.  It’s a beautiful night.  Though… I’m cold now.  Let’s go inside and get some cocoa, ok?”

He laughed and took her hand, pulling her up beside him.  Then they walked inside.


 

The house was quiet.  Most everyone had gone to bed already, though it wasn’t too late.  I was having trouble sleeping anyway.  I knew I had to do something.  I’d put it off long enough.  Of all the calls I had made, this one was the toughest for me.  I pulled out my phone and looked at it for a long moment, then hit #3 on the speed dial.  As soon as the familiar voice answered with a tremulous “Luna?”, I had to swallow.

“Hey little brother,” I whispered.  “I uh… I have a lot of explaining to do, I know.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, Alduin.  I-I can’t imagine how worried you’ve been.”


 

Alduin couldn’t quite believe it.  His sister was ok.  He’d feared the worst and had had to argue out of leaving Uni to go and search for her.  Any of the feelers he’d put out online had gone strangely without answer.  But here she was.  He looked at his watch.  He should still have time to meet Cali.  “Yeah, you could say I’ve been worried.  Luna, what happened?”


 

“I-it’s a long story, little brother.”  Tears stood in my eyes.  I had to fight to keep my voice from cracking.  “If you’ve got a minute, I’ll tell ya about it.  I messed up, Alduin.  Really bad.”  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my voice steady as I told him all of it, much as I had my mother.  Yet this was harder, somehow.  Admitting to my baby brother how badly I had messed up, how badly I’d handled everything was painful.


 

Alduin rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.  “Luna… Oh Luna.  I’m so sorry.  Is-is there anything I can do?  Are you ok?  Wait, don’t answer that.  Stupid question, sorry.  Are you and the baby ok?”


 

That brought a smile to my face, briefly.  “Yeah, we’re fine.  You’re niece or nephew is worse than I am, though when it comes to being a night owl.  Won’t give me a moment’s peace, and yet doesn’t seem to want to come out and greet the world.”

He chuckled.  “Definitely your kid, sis.  Ok, spill it.  What’s wrong?”

“Alduin, Roark and I got married today.  I-I’m sorry I didn’t wait.  I know you’d want to be here for it.  I-I just-“  My voice cracked and I had to choke back the sobs.  “I needed to do it.  I needed to make as clean a slate as we could.  I-I didn’t want to wait.  Can you forgive me?”

He was silent for a moment.  “Luna, you shouldn’t have to ask that.  Of course I forgive you.  There’s nothing to forgive.  Though, I think you owe me some cake when I come home, at the least.”

I laughed, the horrible weight I’d been carrying evaporating.  “You got it, little brother.  By the time you get here, you’ll have a niece or nephew to help spoil.”

“Oh you bet I’ll spoil them, I’ll-“  The mirth died from his voice as I heard a noise coming from that end of the conversation.  I was suddenly bombarded with a cacophony of noise.  It was panic.  Sheer panic.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, except something was wrong and it involved someone he greatly cared about.  ‘Cali’ flashed through my mind.  It was a litany that he was repeating in his mind again and again.

I didn’t question it, just told him, “Go.  Go to her.”  Then I hung up.  I stood there for a moment, hoping my brother didn’t do something stupid.  I hoped his lady friend was ok.  A shiver ran down my spine.  “Be careful, Alduin.”


 

The last couple days have been another roller coaster of the worst kind.  Aunt Faye called.  She had two pieces of news for us.  We lost Uncle Falkor last night.  He and Aunt Faye had gone to bed at their normal time.  When she awoke… Uncle Falkor was gone.  He’d had a heart attack during the night and had slipped away quietly in his sleep.  He was buried today in the family crypt with his mom and dad.  Pop’s been pretty quiet, but he has Nan to be there for him.  It’s weird, considering Falkor was a few years younger than Pop.

If that isn’t bad enough, the other news she gave us was about Alduin.  Apparently, she had helped him set up the device he’d rigged himself.  He’d been concerned about his friend Calysta and had made an app that he’d installed on her phone.  It notified not only himself, but the University police, and my Aunt Faye.  She’d waited a day to tell us because she’d wanted to get as much information as she could.  Alduin’s friend had been attacked.  One of the fraternity boys had lured her to a party.  But he’d been the only one there.  This same guy is also being questioned in a rape/murder on their campus.  I had a bad feeling about that one.  I think I know why Alduin had been so afraid for his friend.

He had been going to meet her there when I had called him.  I haven’t quite been able to process that.  The guilt is already mingling with what I have so that I can’t tell the difference right now.  After she’d put up the distress signal, he’d gone there.  He found her, beaten and bloody.  According to Faye, not only had he fought off her attacker, but he’d given him a hell of a beating.  I can’t say I wasn’t happy to hear that, though I knew my brother was pretty sensitive.  He’d feel the guilt of that for a while.  He hasn’t called us yet.  I hope he’s ok.  And I sincerely hope his friend is ok.  Faye couldn’t give us a lot of details about how she was.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m as big as a house right now.  I can barely walk.  Even a trip to the fridge can be laborious.

I’m trying so hard not to concentrate on all the negative.  Maybe that’s why my child hasn’t made an appearance yet.  Their afraid because their mother is always so upset.  I’m really trying.  Though it’s hard.  I’m so uncomfortable.  Dad says another three-four weeks and then the C-section.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  But it’s all up to the little one, I guess.  Hopefully, they’ll decide to make their appearance sooner rather than later.


 Author’s Note: Special shoutout to Ivane’s Chronicles of Clarke.  The link is in the right hand corner.  Calysta and Alduin’s adventures can be seen there if you haven’t checked it out yet!  Go, check it out!

Chapter 37: Brighter Days

Luna rubbed the back of her neck, then stretched a little.  The desk was uncomfortable, especially having to lean over because her belly wouldn’t allow her to push the chair all the way in.  But she didn’t want to stop.  She was almost to the end.  Her cheeks were damp with tears and the paper showed a few blotches from where they had fallen onto the pages.  But her mother had been right.  She’d needed to do this.  Getting it all out was helping.  She thought she’d always carry the twin seeds of guilt and regret within her, but it wasn’t quite so bad now.  Getting it all out was helping, a little.

Something made her look up.  Her eyes lit up and she stood.  Roark stood in the doorway, watching her.  “How are you feeling?” he asked her quietly, going to her and framing her face with his hands.

“Back’s sore,” she confessed.  “But otherwise ok.  Just waiting for this little one to be ready.”  She grinned ruefully.  Her child was taking their sweet time in appearing.  She had been due almost two weeks ago.  Her dad had told her they’d wait another week.  If she hadn’t gone into labor by then, they were going to take the child through cesarean section.

“They’ll come when they’re ready,” her husband murmured.  He looked at the desk.  “Writing again?” he asked quietly.  He seemed to be searching her eyes for something.  “Is it helping?”

Luna nodded.  “It seems to be.”  She swallowed.  She’d been an emotional wreck since the day Alaric had died.  Add pregnancy hormones to everything else and you had a recipe for a lot of crying.  “I-I don’t know how I can ever make up for what I did.  I-“

Roark put a finger to her lips.  “Luna, we’ve gone over that, haven’t we?  We both made mistakes, a lot of them.  We both have to take responsibility for what we did- and didn’t- do.  We’ll get through this.  We will.”

She leaned forward, resting her forehead against his.

“I know,” she murmured.  After a moment, he put her at arm’s length.  “Why don’t I give you a backrub, then you can come back to this, ok?”

“I think I like that idea.”


 

The night Alaric died… I was in a haze.  I barely remember talking to the cops, guys I knew.  I just remembered the look in all their eyes.  I thought it was accusation, though in hindsight, maybe I thought I deserved it.  Alaric was dead because of me.  Once the questioning was over, I ran.  Roark had been trying to get to me for hours afterward, but I just… couldn’t.  I couldn’t face him, after everything.  I just couldn’t do it.  I hid away.  I talked to no one, I didn’t work…  I ignored phone calls, emails… any attempts to get in touch with me were ignored.  Somewhere, I knew my family must have been going out of their mind.  But I couldn’t face them, any more than I could have faced Roark.

Almost two weeks later, I began to be ill.  Anything I ate would come back up.  After almost a month of that, I finally went out and went to the doctor’s.  When they told me I was pregnant… I broke down and bawled right in the clinic.  I was pregnant…  Oh Watcher, what was I going to do?

For almost three months in total, two months of it being pregnant, I continued to wallow.  I took care of myself, such as it was, though it was really just going through the motions.  And then finally, staring out that window, I realized that I needed my family.  I needed them like I never had before.  And after I told my mom everything… I knew there was one last thing I had to do.  I took a taxi from the apartment and gave the driver Roark’s address.

I knocked on the door.  Roark answered.  When he saw me… I almost burst into tears then.  There was such naked emotion on his face, it hurt to look at him.  He was so focused on the fact that I was there, he didn’t seem to realize I was in maternity wear, nor that I had gained a little weight.  He looked… elated and apprehensive all at once.

He must have starred at me, just starred at me for ten minutes.  Finally, he shook his head, as if coming to.  “Come in, please.  Have a seat.  Do you want anything?  A drink?  Anything?”  I had taken a seat on the couch.  I just shook my head, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  He sat next to me and silence reigned for quite a while.

Finally, I stood up, unable to take it anymore.  I felt like a coward, among my many other sins.  I couldn’t face him, but I knew I needed to get it out.  “Roark,” I began in a rush, “I’m pregnant.  I-I… I don’t know if you’re the father or not.”

Silence reigned for a long moment.  I didn’t dare turn around.  I was afraid what I would see on his face.  He must have suspected something happened between Alaric and I.  My nerves, already strung out to the breaking point, were perilously close to snapping.  I wanted to sink onto the floor, curl into a ball and just sob.  Just as I was about to give into the sensation, there was a hand on my shoulder, and I was spun around.  The next thing I knew, Roark had wrapped his arms around and pulled me close.

“Luna,” he whispered in my ear.  “Whether I’m the father or not, that child is mine.  You are mine.  We’ll get through this.  I-I can’t tell you what it did to me to see you tonight.  I-I thought I was dreaming.  I love you, Luna.  I’m so sorry, so sorry for everything.  I want to work on things, want us to be together.  Is that what you want, Luna?”

He put me at arm’s length, looking deep into my eyes.  “Yes,” I whispered.  “Yes.”  I did break down then, clinging to him.  He held me as I sobbed, brokenly getting out my confession.  I told him all of it, what happened after I’d left him, how I’d gone to see Alaric again.  The drinks, seducing Alaric… He stopped me for a moment.

“Luna.”  His voice was gentle.  There were none of the recriminations, or accusations that I had been prepared… even welcomed.  There was only love in his eyes.  “He played you.  He was always good at that…”  He swallowed.  “He wanted to drive a wedge between us.  It’s why he told you who we were.  W-when he called me… he told me he’d… been with you.  He said you were beautiful and in the same breath, he told me if I didn’t come to the warehouse, he’d make sure your body was dumped on my doorstep.  My brother was a lot of things.  He’d never been a murderer, though.  But I couldn’t take that chance.  I couldn’t risk you.”  He smoothed a hand through my hair, just looking at me for a moment.  The tenderness made my throat close up.

“R-roark, I don’t deserve you,” I whispered.

He put a hand gently under my chin, tilting my head up.  “Luna, we both made mistakes.  I should have told you from the beginning.  I-I can’t imagine how betrayed you must have felt when you found out.  I-I… And I should have told you why.  I was scared.  Once I realized who you were… once I connected the Wyvern name back to your grandfather… I should have told you.  But I didn’t.”

 

“And I should have listened to you,” I murmured.  “I should have stayed away from Alaric.  I was just so… angry.  So hurt…  I-I wanted to hurt you as much as you’d hurt me.  I hate that that’s in me, Roark.  A-and I hate what it brought on.  If I stayed and talked to you, if I had been able to put away my pride long enough to listen… none of it would have happened and maybe… maybe your brother would still be alive.”

 

“We both made mistakes, Luna.  Mistakes we both have to live with.  Alaric… I couldn’t save him.  I lost him years ago.  I thought I’d kept him safe, kept him away from the life my mother wanted for him.  But I couldn’t.  He had always been so angry.  Angry at me, angry at our mother, yet he idolized her.   That anger ate at him.   In the end, though… in the end, I think he found something that helped cool that anger.  You.  Something happened between you that night.  You were able to reach a part of him that I never could.”

 

I swallowed, guilt assailing me.  “A-all I could see was your face, Roark.  I just- just wanted to stop the pain.  I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry for everything.  How can you still care for me?”

 

“None of us are perfect, Luna.  None of us.  If you’ll have me, I’d like to try to work through this, together.  And-and I want to be there for the baby.  And for you.”

 

I could only nod.  “Y-yes.  Yes I want that.”

 

He smiled at me, then leaned down to rest a hand on my stomach.  “Hey, little one,” he murmured.  “I’m your Daddy.”

I broke down again.  What had I done to deserve this man?  I couldn’t think of a single thing good, only several things that spoke to the opposite.  Yet here he was…  “Roark,” I murmured.  He straightened and looked at me, tilting his head.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I want you to come home with me,” I told him.  “I-I want to go home and I want you and Cyn to come with me.”

 

He pursed his lips for a moment.  “I have a few favors I can call in.  A transfer to the base in Monte Vista is feasible.  Go, rest.  Let me make some calls ok?”

 

I nodded, feeling numb somehow, yet full of so much emotion, I didn’t know what to do with it.

 

While I slept, Roark made his calls.

He woke me up a few hours later.  “Our flight is booked.  I’ve talked to Cyn.  We leave in a week.  Should be enough time for us to get our stuff packed.”

 

I was… shocked.  I had wanted him to come with me, but I think there was a part of me that didn’t believe he would, not after everything that had happened between us.  But we were going.  I nodded.  “A week.”

 


The week passed quickly.  Roark and Cyn packed up what belongings they wanted to bring with them.  It wasn’t much, really.  I asked Roark why.  “This was never really home, Luna.  It was the place our mother dumped us in, to get us out of the way.  What little we have packed made it that little piece of home.  All I need is Cyn, you, and the baby you carry.  You need your family, Luna.  We’ll figure out how to deal with all this there.”

 

That was that.  Once the luggage was packed and the things we didn’t need on the plane were shipped, we boarded our plane.  It was a long flight.  I spent most of it either sleeping or throwing up.  I don’t handle travel well while pregnant, it seems.  But finally, we touched down.  I don’t remember the car ride from the airport.  Roark had slid behind the wheel, Cyn in the back.  She’d let me have the front.  Before I knew it, the car was stopping.  “We’re here, babe,” Roark murmured.

 

He helped me out of the car and gave my hand a squeeze.  Cyn and Roark looked at the house; I could see the apprehension on their faces.  Me… I was home.  I was home, Roark and Cyn were here with me.

I didn’t expect anyone to be up.  I’d told them we wouldn’t get in till late and not to wait up.  I should have known better.  As we walked in, I saw a familiar shape at the island in the kitchen.  Of course my mother would wait up for us to get there.

“Mama,” I whispered walking in.  She got up and went right to me.  She put a gentle hand on my arm.  There were tears in her eyes.

 

“Welcome home, baby,” she murmured.

 

Roark and Cyn stood there for a moment, not sure what to say.  But mom turned to them, smiling.  “Welcome, both of you.  I’m sure you both are exhausted.  Cyn, there’s a bedroom upstairs for you to use, dear.  We have a bit of a surprise for you, but it isn’t ready quite yet.  There were some delays.  You can have your dogs just explore.  Ares and Apollo will be glad of more playmates, I’m sure.”  She turned to Roark.  “Welcome to our home, Roark.  Take my daughter to bed and see that she gets some rest, will you?”

Mom turned back to me.  “I managed to convince everyone to sleep tonight.  But I imagine they’ll be awake early and they’ll all want to see you and to meet your young man.  Go rest baby.  You look very… drawn.”

We easily took her advice.  Roark put his arm around my waist, helping to support me.  I realized I’d been swaying on my feet.  He walked me to my room down the hallway.  It hadn’t changed in the three years that I’d been way.  It was still the same.  It was home.  He tucked me into bed first, then slid in next to me.  I curled up next to him.  I was home.  Roark was next to me.  For the first time since everything happened, a tiny seed of hope had begun to bloom.

As exhausted as I was, I only managed a few hours of sleep.  The baby had been moving around a lot and when they finally settled down, they had decided that settling on my bladder was the perfect position.  I got up to go to the bathroom.  I looked down at Roark who was still sleeping.  Still a bit incredulous that he was here with me, I just watched him for a long moment.  I didn’t want to disturb him, so I left, thinking I’d see what leftovers there were.  In our house, there were always leftovers.  As I approached the kitchen, I heard the soft murmur of voices.

 

My throat closed up.  Dad and Pop.  I could picture just what they were doing.  They’d been doing it since I could remember, sitting at the chess table, talking about anything and everything.  As I walked out, I saw them just where I knew I would.

As soon as they saw me, Dad got up to give me a hug.

Immediately after that, he had to lean down to press a hand to my swollen stomach.  “And how are you feeling, baby girl?  You look tired.”

“The next person to tell me that, I may have to smack,” I told them, a ghost of a smile tugging at my mouth.  It was already good to be home, but there was still a part of me that felt… detached, even separate.  Dad laughed, giving me another hug.

“Leave the girl alone,” Pop admonished.  He grinned at me.  “Welcome home, our little Eclipse.  It’s good to have you back.”  He pulled me into a close, but gentle hug.

“It’s good to be home, Pop.  It really is.  I-I’m sorry.  I-“  Pop shook his head.

 

“You have no reason to apologize.  I want you to do me a favor, baby girl, ok?  I want you to try to forgive yourself and to relax.  It isn’t good to be so stressed with the baby.  Try to cut yourself a break, ok?”

I could only nod, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  “Love you, Pop.”

 

“We love you too, Eclipse.  Now, where’s your young man?”

 

I had to snort.  “Pop, he’s actually older than all of you, you know.”

 

He snorted.  “He’s your young man, so hush.”

 

I could feel an actual smile forming.  It was the first one I could remember in quite a while.  “Whatever you say, Pop.  Anyway, he’s still sleeping.  The baby decided they wanted to keep me up, but I thought he should still sleep.”  I grinned.  “I figure he’ll need to be tip top to have to deal with our crew here.”

 

Throughout everything, I had never doubted that my family would accept Roark.  Was he the son of Elvira Slayer?  Only in the most biological sense.  He was a good man and I knew my family would see that.  I know he was worried about how they’d deal with him, and he had told me that he fully expected them to be upset, considering who he was.  But he beat himself up about that more than anyone, even if he was as far from his parents as it was possible to be.  To find that I was right, it helped steady me.  That’s what family did.  They helped steady you when your foundation had been rocked.

 

Before too long, I heard the door to my room open and I went to see him.  He kissed me, then pulled away.  “How do you feel?”

 

“Better,” I told him truthfully.  “I-I needed this, needed to come back home.  Thank you.”

“I want what’s best for you, Luna.  For you and the baby.”

 

I nodded.  I realized that, realized that was all he wanted.  I teared up.  “I know.  I know that.  Thank you.  My family wants to have a chat after breakfast, ok?”

 

I could see the apprehension come back into his eyes, but he nodded.  “Of course, baby.”  I wanted to reassure him, but I realized that wouldn’t work.  He’d need to experience it himself.  So I smiled at him.  He’d see.  He’d been right.  We’d get through this, together.


 

Chapter 30: Reflections

As a surprise for his birthday, Mom and I decorated Alduin’s room for him.  He got the spare room upstairs across from Mom and Dad’s room.  He likes it up there he says.  While he loves people and loves our family, I noticed that he likes to spend time by himself too.  Our little Alduin is a Lone Wolf.

In other news, it was mine and Jeff’s anniversary, as well as my parent’s!  Mom and Dad have been together 40 years now.  I only hope Jeff and I make it that long.  Not that I’m worried about that at all.  Jeff and I love each other as much as the day we wed, more in fact.  Leaving Luna and Alduin at home (they insisted we all go celebrate; if I didn’t know my children better, you’d have thought they WANTED us out of the house), we “old folks” decided to go out for a night on the town.  We went to the Port-a-Party Mini Warehouse.  Am I really just getting old, or does the name sound as corny to you as it does to me?  Oh well.  We all dressed up in our best and headed out.  We sat at the bar and waited for drinks.

After sampling some of their wares, we decided on a game of pool. Actually… the game of pool was Jeff’s idea.  But we decided it would be fun.  It was dad and mom versus Jeff and I.  My parents fight dirty!  Dad especially!

“Hey, need a microscope to find where the cue goes, little one?” my dad called out as I was chosen to break.

However, after my first shot, dad just looked at the velvet with a bemused expression.  I smiled sweetly at him.

Just as I was about to sink the winning shot, it was Jeff’s birthday!

We all cheered for him and soon enough, my husband joined me in middle age!

We didn’t stay long after that, instead deciding to return home and hop in the hottub.  Unfortunately, just after he got settled into the water, Jeff’s pager went off.  There apparently had been a rather bad accident and they needed Jeff’s expertise.  So he got up, dried off quickly, and left.

I hung out there with Mom and Dad for a while, then once they started getting sappy, decided that the better part of valor was retreating… quickly.  Especially when they got that look in their eyes.

I was about to go inside (it was actually pretty late… or early, depending upon how you looked at it.  We’d spent quite a bit of time in the hottub.  It was close to dawn!) when Jeff came around the corner.

Even as the sun came up behind us, all I could do was look into his eyes, bringing my hand up to his cheek.  He pulled me close and kissed me.  “Happy anniversary, Aurora,” he whispered to me.

“Happy anniversary, Jeffrey.”


 

Dad’s retirement finally went through!  I mean, since all that happened in Bridgeport, Dad has been on light duty.  He was only waiting for the paperwork to go through announcing his official retirement with full pension and benefits from the force.  He got the phone call today.  Mom was ecstatic.  He had called us all upstairs to break the news.

After he made the announcement, Mom grabbed his hands and they just stared into each other’s eyes.  Mom never complains, but I think being a cop’s wife has been hard on her over the years.  She’s always supported Dad, no matter what, but after the scare in Bridgeport, she was always a bit on edge.  Knowing Dad is well and truly out of it is a comfort to her, I think.

“I love you, Draco Wyvern,” she whispered to him.  She’d grabbed him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

Dad framed her face with his hands.  “And I love you, Sophia Wyvern.”  Then he just held her close.

Jeff and I left them alone, giving them the time.  I think that even I forget how hard things were on Mom at times.  She always seemed so together.  Even when things were really bad, the feelings I could get off her were calming to the rest of us.  But feeling her relief… it went soul deep.  No more would she have to worry Dad leaving in the middle night, being gone for days at a time, never really knowing what was happening or whether she’d see her husband again.

I went downstairs and waited for Mom.  Before too long, she came down into the kitchen.  I could see the tear stains on her face.

“Mom?”  She looked at me.

I hugged her.  “I love you.  I’m sorry.  Sorry I couldn’t see until now how much it affected you.”

She put me at arm’s length.  “You don’t need to apologize,” she said quietly.  She’d never looked more dignified, even in her nighty and with wrinkled forehead, her cane resting against the counter.  “I knew what I was doing all those years ago when I married your father.  I knew what he wanted to do.  The truth is, I’ve always been proud of him, ‘Rora.  Your father’s a good, good man with a heart as big as can be.  He puts others first, always has.”  She smiled fondly.  “You should have seen him on our wedding day.  You were only a little baby, still swaddled in the blanket we took you home in from the hospital.  He was so nervous, he was shaking.  But when we said our vows, his hands were rock solid.  We’ve been married a long time, your dad and I.”

Her eyes were going misty, I could see it.  “I wish that for you and Jeff, ‘Rora baby.  I want you to know that kind of love, the kind that lasts for years and only grows.”  She laughed a little.  “It’s been quite the ride for us.  Your daddy sure is stubborn, but I think I’ve proven that I’m just as stubborn as he is, sometimes more so.  But in all the years we were married, I never asked him to give up what he did.  He wanted it too much.  And though I hated it at times, I couldn’t ask him to be something he wasn’t.  So don’t you apologize to me about not knowing how it affected me.  Things went as they needed to, honey.  And now your daddy’s out of it.”  She grinned at that.  “Well, at least he doesn’t have to take orders anymore.  I think if he didn’t keep his hand in in some way, at least keeping in communication, he’d go a little crazy.”  She patted my shoulder.  “Don’t fret, ‘Rora.  You do too much of that.  Your mama should be the least of your worries, with both your little ones growing up.”

She certainly had a point.  Alduin went to his first day of school.

He seems to enjoy the classes, but he’s not enamored of being surrounded by so many people all day.  It’s not that he doesn’t like people, but as an introvert, he needs respite from all the “sensory overload”, as he calls it.  So he’s always so happy to get home and just be on his own for a while.  Once he’s had a bit of time up in his room or on the computer, he’ll join me and his dad in the living room for a snack and to watch TV.

Luna’s still working at the precinct and from all accounts is doing very well.  Dad uses his contacts there to keep an eye on her.  She gets home from school, does her homework, and then rushes out the door when her carpool gets here.

She seems reluctant to talk about it.  I’m having hard time reading her to know whether it’s because she doesn’t want to upset us or if it’s because it’s not what she expected.  If I had to guess, it’s a little of both, really.  I just hope she’s careful, whatever she decides to do.


How quickly time flies… I know I keep saying that, but it seems to become truer each passing day.  It seems like just yesterday I was holding my first born in my arms, swaddled in a little pink blanket and putting her in the crib in the nursery for the first time.  And now… today, my little girl turns 18.  Mom baked a cake for after Luna came home from work.  The candles lit, surround by her family, Luna stood there, making my throat tight from all the emotion.

She leaned over- I remember having to hold her, both as an infant, and then again as a toddler.  She was so eager.  She hasn’t lost that zest she’s always had.  Her eyes were full of possibilities.

She spun around as the sparkles enveloped, whooping at this next great adventure.

And then… just like that, my little girl was a grown woman with her whole life ahead of her.


 

Chapter 29: The Trouble with Being a Wyvern

I’m a very proud mama.  Watching Luna with her little brother always brings tears to my eyes.  Whenever he gets up in the morning, he’s greeted by his big sister who lifts him up out of his crib and cuddles him close.

She also has been insisting upon teaching him how to talk by herself as well.  “C’mon, mom, I’ve been communicating with him since before he was born. Think I can handle teaching him how to actually talk,” she told me when I expressed a bit of surprise.  I could only laugh.  I peek in on them every now and again.  I’m not quite sure what she’s teaching him, though…

“No, no, buddy!  Roses!  Ya give a girl roses!”

“Why, ‘Una?  Why give girls roses?”

“Because they like that, of course!  It makes them feel special.”

“I give you roses, ‘Una?” he asked her, tilting his head to the side.

I didn’t hear her reply; I had to leave before I cried myself silly.  My little boy sure is a sweetheart and he and his sister are so close, despite the age gap.  I can’t help but feel so proud of both of them.  Instead of sleeping in like so many other teenagers do (as I did, come to think of it), she gets up early before school to spend time with her brother.  Then once he’s settled back down, she grabs a cup of coffee and then out the door she does.

Once Luna leaves, I get my time with my little guy.  I often find that he’s crawled to Luna’s room, as if looking for her.

Hm… and gotta hand it to her, Luna’s a smart one.  She’ll help him talk and walk… but she somehow always manages to avoid potty training time.  Can’t say as I blame her, really, but at least Alduin is such a good natured little boy.  He makes it pretty easy.

Of course, now that Luna is old enough, we’ve begun the self-defense training.  She gets her small frame from me and mom, but that doesn’t stop her from using her natural speed.  She’s already very good.  She tends to pick up on things pretty easily.

Aside from the physical training, she also came to me and wanted to know more about her power and how to use them.  I thought this was a great idea.  I wish she could have met her great-grandmother.  She had much better control than I do.  I have my strengths, but it is also a bit unpredictable for me.

Still, working with her, is strengthening my own power.


 

I can’t help but feel that these measures will be necessary.  I was painting a couple days ago and I seemed to fall into a trance.  It happens sometimes, though it hadn’t happened since before what happened with Dad all those years ago in Bridgeport.  When I finished, my heart clutched in my chest.

I know in my heart that the female ninja represents Luna and that there is someone behind her who wants to harm her or will want to… I wish we knew more.  I gave it to her, as a reminder to be careful and because I believe in her.

She had come to me earlier to talk about things.  Like me, she tended to get her own feelings at random moments.  This time, instead of talking about Bridgeport and her handsome prince (she still dreamed of him), she wanted to discuss Alduin.  “I can’t help but be a little worried about him,” she told me, looking troubled.

“Why’s that, sweetheart?”

She shrugged, looking uncomfortable.  “I don’t know… just a feeling I’ve been having lately.  I know Pop is the one with the feelings and clairvoyance, but seems like lately, that’s all I’ve been having.”

I frowned.  “Well, we know there are dangers out there, things we don’t fully understand.  Your great-grandmother was always fairly tightlipped about things.  I don’t think she could tell us much, other than what we needed to know.  There was a lot she kept back, I think.  But it’s ok.  We look after our own, you know that.”  I ran a hand through her hair and gave her a hug.  She smiled at me, and nodded, then went to go find her brother for some play time.


From the teenage journal of Luna Wyvern

After my talk with mom, I went and scooped Alduin up.  He’d heard us come in from outside and immediately, he’d motored to me.  Can’t believe how big he’s getting!  Could barely hoist him up.  After the conversation I just had, I couldn’t help but squeeze him tightly.

“Wuv you, ‘Una,” he murmured.  I may have been the telepathic one and mom the empathic one, but my little brother always seemed to know just what to say to make ya feel better.

“Love you too, munchkin,” I sniffled, clearing my throat.  Then I grinned.  “Guess what?  The Claw’s comin’ to get ya!”  His shrieks and pleas only made it harder not to laugh hysterically as the dreaded Claw began to tickle him mercilessly.

After the laughter subsided, my little brother looked up at me, the Wyvern eyes looking a bit serious.  “’Una, Great-gamma ‘Estia told me a secret.”

I froze.  I would have chalked it up to a child’s imagination, but in this family, the imagination often wasn’t as strange as the reality of it all.  I mean, we’ve all heard the family lore.  My great-grandmother was Queen of the Dragons.  She was tricked by her sister into coming to the Sim Realm, though none of us really know why.  She found happiness here, though and that’s how Pop and Great-uncle Falkor came to be.  We all have powers, though so far, Alduin hasn’t shown any.  But maybe… just maybe, this is the start of it.

I tried to be nonchalant.  “A secret huh?  Can you tell me?”

He shook his little head, looking sad.  “No, she made me pwomise.  Is it ok that I talk to her, ‘Una?”

“Of course it is, buddy!  Of course.”  I realized something.  “Do you see or talk to anyone else?”

“I saw Diego!” he replied happily.  “He fluffy doggy, like Ars.”  ‘Ars’ was his name for Ares.  That confirmed it.  My little brother could look into the Spirit Realm, or the Netherworld as it was often called.

“Does mom or dad know about this?”

“No…”  He looked abashed.  That look on a two year old will break your heart.

“It’s ok, little brother.  It can be just our secret for a bit longer, ok?”  He nodded, grinning again.  Oh my… my little brother will break hearts with that smile.


Hm… Luna surprised us a bit today.  She’d been thinking about it for a little while and decided that she wanted to enter the new program that the police department enacted.  It’s a junior patrol division.  I can’t say as if I’m overly happy about this.  After what happened with Dad, I’m afraid my view on them is less than stellar.  My dad’s reaction was even more volatile, but Luna just looked at him, her head tilted and said it was what she wanted.  She wanted to help people, like he did.  Dad has never been able to deny her anything, so he sighed and nodded.  That was as far as he went in giving his blessing.  Jeff and I just shared a concerned look.  But what could we do?  Denying her would only cause problems.  But we can’t keep her from what she wants.  So she went and applied today.

Due to her high scores and I’m sure due to who her grandfather is (Dad’s a bit of a legend in the department, after all), she was accepted immediately.

Jeff and Dad discussed it at length one night while waiting for her to come home.  And yes… they wait up for her, outside, in the snow.

“I would stop her if I could,” Jeff told him seriously.  “But ‘Rora and I talked about it.  We can’t.  Restricting her would do no good and would be punishing her for something that she sees as right.  I know none of us like it, but…”

“We have to let her make her own decisions,” Dad finished for him.  “I don’t like it either.  I believe in what we do, in what the department stands for, but the thought of her there, in the thick of things…  I’m hoping this experience makes her decide on doing something else.  There are plenty of other jobs out there where she can help others.”

Jeff nodded.  “Education.  I think she’d love working with kids and I know your brother said he’d be delighted to have her.”

“Yeah, Luna would make a wonderful teacher.  Look at how good she is with Alduin.  But we’ll see…”

“That we will.”  Then the two waited out there in the snow, watching for her to come home.


 

I can’t believe it’s that time already!  My little boy is growing up so fast!  Luna was ecstatic that his birthday fell on a Saturday so she wouldn’t have to go all the way through school before we could have his party.  Mom baked his cake and Jeff got to hold to blow out the candles.

“Candles, dad, candles!” he called out.  “I wanna blow on the candles!”

Jeff laughed and leaned over to give his boy a shot at the candles.  Scrunching his face as he pulled in a deep breath, Alduin blew out his candles.

Jeff set him down and gave him a quick peck on the forehead.  “There ya are big man.”

He stood up as the sparkles hit.

And now my little boy is a child.  He has a bit of nearsightedness, though the doctor said he might actually grow out of it, or at least be able to have some basic contacts when he gets older.

My… how time flies!  My children are growing so fast!


 

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!