An Update

Ok guys, I know I’ve been terrible.  Nano kicked my butt.  I did it, I got to 50K but it was a long road.  I certainly haven’t forgotten the Wyverns.  But because of the amount of time that the scenes take to set up, let alone get the screenshots, and then write, I am afraid you won’t see much of an update until after the New Year.  But if you are anxious to read something in the meantime, head over here: Wolfie’s Sims and More! This is a place where I’m throwing up all links for stories, past and present.

To keep myself in the writing mood, I am slowly working on two different Sims 4 stories.  There’s my legacy, Cornerstone: the Rampart Legacy, which I’ve already linked to.  And since Carl’s Guide and Forum brought out their Immortal Dynasty Challenge, I have a story with that now too. To Paint the World with Color.

I don’t imagine they will be very fast-paced.  I’m thinking only once or twice a week.  But it gives me something to do to keep writing without feeling a ton of pressure.  Fear not folks, the Wyverns will return, just not for a little while.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!  And a very happy New Year!

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 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 31: Alis volat propriis

“She flies with her own wings.”

I found this quote today.  It was very appropriate.  Today, my oldest child graduated.  It’s quite the paradox for a parent, I think.  It is a moment of great pride… and one of terrible sadness.  It marks a great transition in the life of a Sim in this day and age.  I wish I had thought to ask my grandmother what it had been like in times past.  But then I didn’t understand the significance, I suppose at the time.  But now, it is indelibly ingrained.

It was raining, so we all hurried out in our nice clothes to Dad’s waiting van.  With so many of us, the van is the only vehicle we can really take.

Oh yes… So much has been happening of late that I didn’t mention that we lost Megara a few days ago.  That’s why my poor mother is grieving a bit in that picture.  It was an inevitability, really.  She pined around the house after Hercules passed.  But now she can join him again, wherever they are.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Luna’s graduation.  Jeff was on one side of me, Alduin on the other.  As I watched my daughter go across the stage, I couldn’t help but glance over at my boy.  Before I knew it, he’d be the one walking across the stage.  Time surely does fly…  The ceremony was relatively short, but I swear, the speeches also seem to take forever during this. Some of them are quite good, but still.  Brings back flashbacks of my own graduation.

The ceremony ended and we all headed out.  It was official.  My little girl was no longer so little.  While Alduin went off to go read one of his beloved books, Luna asked the rest of us if we could talk.  I felt a shiver of trepidation run down my spine.  My daughter had learned as a child to shield, both from getting stray thoughts, but also from broadcasting her own unless she wants to.  Strong thoughts still get out and emotions still flare up around her… she’s such a passionate person, it’s bound to happen.  I’m not sure if that trepidation I was feeling was from me or from her, honestly.  All I knew is I was dreading this talk.  Honestly, I was afraid she was announcing her intention to join the force full time.

Still, we all assembled at the dining room table.

Luna cleared her throat and we all sat down.  We looked at her expectantly.  My daughter bowed her head for a moment.  When she raised it, the determination in her eyes made me wither a little inside.  “I know you guys are worried about me,” she began slowly, looking each of us in the eye.  “And I appreciate that, I really do.”  She drew in a deep breath.  “I have decided [i]not[/i] to continue with the police department.”

A collective sigh of relief ran around the table and I closed my eyes in gratitude.  But something made me open them again and that feeling of trepidation returned with a vengeance.

“I want to become a private investigator.”  She looked at her grandfather and looked at him tenderly.  “I’ve always admired you, Pop, you know that.  And I believe in what they do.  But… just too restrictive for me.  I believe in the system, I do… but I’d be too afraid of taking shortcuts because the ends justify the means.”

We all looked at one another.  Dad spoke first.  “I understand your reservations there.  Luna, you know we’ll support you in whatever you want to do.  Being a PI would suite you quite well, I think.”  He grinned at her.

But she didn’t meet his gaze fully.  “I… Pop, there’s something else.”  She looked around at all of us again.  Her voice was quiet.  “Since I was little, I’ve had dreams.  I’ve told you about them.  I need to figure out what they mean.  To do that… I need to go to Bridgeport.”

Silence stunned the table and we could only goggle at her.  I couldn’t get any words to form as my mind went into a tailspin.  Dad looked stunned, Mom was biting her lip.  It was Jeff though that finally spoke.  “Luna… you’re 18 now,” he began, though I could see the war within him.  “Y-you’re old enough to make your own decisions… but… have you thought about this?”

Luna nodded.  “I’ve thought about this, Dad.  Thought about this for years now.  I thought about ignoring the dreams… but I can’t.  I need to find out what they mean.”  She swallowed visibly.  “I don’t want to hurt any of you.  But this is something I have to do.  Do you understand?”

No, no I didn’t understand!  She couldn’t go to Bridgeport, not to that cursed place!  But I still couldn’t speak.  Jeff was right… she was old enough to make her own decisions, so I remained silent.  Luna smiled at all of us.  “I won’t be leaving right away.  I have to get my PI license squared away, though I’ve started the paperwork on that.”  She stood up and the rest of us followed.  Smiling as if she hadn’t sent us all into turmoil, she went off to presumably check on that paperwork.  I stood there stunned for a long moment.

Dad tapped me on the shoulder.  “C’mon,” he murmured, “let’s go grab some of those burgers your mom made earlier.  Then we can talk.”

I nodded numbly.  As I sat at the island next to Dad, he was silent for a moment, thinking.  “Aurora, letting your kids grow up is one of the hardest things you can go through.”  He looked at me.  “I don’t like it any more than you do, baby, but… Luna needs to do what she thinks she has to.  ‘She needs to fly on her own wings’.  You were much the same.”

“But she’s going to Bridgeport!” I hissed.  “How can you be ok with this?  That place has haunted her dreams for so long…”  Tears stood in my eyes.  “Dad, I keep seeing you in that hospital room and-and even worse, in that- monster’s office.  How can I let my baby go there?”

He didn’t speak right away.  Dad had always been one for thinking on what he said.  “When we love someone, we have to let them go.  We’ve prepared her the best we can, baby.”

“Luna’s tough,” a little voice interjected.  Alduin had come out to play a little chess.  He must have heard the conversation.  “S-she’ll be ok.”  My poor boy only knew some of the stories about what had happened to his grandfather.  But what he knew was bad enough.  “Right, Pop?”

Dad smiled at his grandson.  “Right, kiddo.  Your sister’s a smart cookie.  She’ll be ok.”

I wish I could be as confident.  I knew what Dad said made sense.  But that tightness in my chest wouldn’t go away.  Luna came out from her room and smiled at me.  The chair scraped along the floor as I got up.  “Luna…” I murmured.  I’d be calm about this.  I had  a right to voice my concerns, didn’t I?”

“You can’t go!” I blurted out.

I should have known better.  In this family, the surest way of getting someone to do something was telling them not to do it…  My daughter’s eyes narrowed.  “Mom, you don’t have a say in it.  I’ve already found an apartment.”

“I won’t give you the money!” I snarled.  Anger swirled with fear to the point I just couldn’t see past them.  I was desperate to stop her.  Desperate to keep her safe, even if she hated me for it.  Again, I should know better, though…

Her eyes turned icy and her chin went up.  I knew that defiant stance all too well.  We were a family, a close one.  But we fought.  I remembered that look all too well from the one rather large argument we’d had when I tried to convince her to go to her prom.  She’d dug her heels in, saying she just didn’t feel like going.  “I’ll pay for it myself then,” she hissed, “I have some money in my savings still.  You aren’t going to stop me, Mom.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but then I just burst into tears.  Sobs wracked my body.  Immediately, my daughter threw her arms around me and pulled me close.

“Mom,” she whispered.  “Please, I’ll be ok.  I-I need to do this.  Just like you needed to go to University.  To prove that you could.  I- need to know.”

Swallowing my tears, I pulled back and looked at her.  I saw her then, for the first time.  She wasn’t just my daughter.  She was a grown woman now.  She had the right to decide what she wanted to do with her life.  We weren’t normal.  These gifts we had made us who we were.  To deny her this would be unfair, even cruel.  “Yes, you’re right, baby.  You do need to do this,” I whispered, though each word took a sliver of my heart with it.  Oh Watcher… my baby was going to Bridgeport…


 

The last few days have been a bit of blur.  Once the family all agreed on helping Luna go to Bridgeport- we were going to do all in our power to ensure that would be as ready and as protected as we could arrange without knowing the future.  She’d showed us the pictures of the apartment she’d found online.  It was a nice little place, truth be told.  “Have you talked to the landlord yet?” I asked her.

“A little, mostly through email.  His name’s Roark Donovan and he seems nice enough.  He told me the apartment has been redone, all new fixtures, appliances, the works.  And it’s already furnished, so that’ll be nice.”

Something about the name struck a chord in me, but I couldn’t place it.  “That sounds lovely dear.  So…”  I grinned.  “I know you leave tomorrow.  Why don’t we have a little family pool party?  The weather’s beautiful.”

Luna grinned and did a little boogey.  “That’s a great idea, Mom!”

And so, we all ended up in the pool, splashing one another, having breath holding contests and other foolishness.  My mother, by the way, always wins.

I had to have a bit of fun, so I snuck out of the pool, then ran up onto the diving board and leapt in, tucking my knees tight to my chest.  I hadn’t done a cannonball since I was a kid.

“I give that splash a solid 6!” my son called out as he wiped water out of his eyes.  “Form was a little off, though.  Coulda gotten a bigger splash!”

He squealed when I reached for him, intending to dunk him, but the little brat escaped.  As my family cavorted among the gently lapping waters of our pool, I climbed out and looked at them all.  Tears gathered in my eyes as I realized this could be the last time we’d be together as a family like this.  I began to sob; nothing I did seemed to help.

Jeff saw me and got out, wrapping his arms around me.  “It’ll be ok, baby.  Sshhh,” he whispered, nuzzling his cheek against him.  “She’s a strong girl.  Just like her mother.  She’ll be ok.”

After a moment, he put me at arm’s length and smiled.  “Someone else wants a moment with you.”

Luna stepped up and then grabbed me in a hug.  “Mama, please don’t cry,” she whispered.  “I can’t stand to see you cry.”

“I’m your mama,” I whispered back.  “I have to cry when I know my baby’s leaving.  I love you.”

“I love you too, Mama.  I promise, I’ll email or call every other day.”

I looked at her suspiciously.  “I thought the deal was for you to do that every day…”

“Well, I’ll try,” she replied with a grin.  “But if I’m on a case or something, might be better to say every other day, right?”

“Hm… I suppose…”


 

Why is it that when you want time to slow down, it seems to speed up and when you want it to speed up, it seems to take forever?  My father says that it’s a conundrum that will never be solved.  I suppose he’s right.  But that evening flew by.  After our dip in the pool, we went back in the house and sat around the living drinking hot chocolate and just laughing and sharing stories.  There was still a tension there, an uneasiness about the unknown.  But sitting there, with all my family there, I begin to believe that it will be alright.  It has to be…

And now, it’s 4 am and we’re all gathered in the kitchen.  Mom gave Luna her car.  She’ll drive it to the airport, then it will be ferried to Bridgeport for her.  Her stuff was all packed and ready.  Since her apartment was already furnished, she didn’t need much and despite Luna’s glamorous appearance at times, she was a light packer.  We all milled around, waiting to say our goodbyes.

Luna started with Mom first.  As my mother squeezed her granddaughter in a surprisingly strong grip, I heard her murmur, “You take care yourself, girl.  Don’t take any nonsense, alright?”

“You got it Nan.”

Next, it was her father’s turn.  Jeff put his arms around her.  “Take care, baby girl.  You know you can call me anytime you need to talk.”

“I know, daddy,” she murmured.  Her voice was thick with emotion already.  I realized that this was something she wanted, but it wouldn’t be easy for her, being away from her family.  Shame flared in me.  I hadn’t made it any easier on her by acting the way I had.

She came to me next.  “Mom,” she whispered, her voice cracking.  I grabbed her into a hug, holding tight.

“We love you so much, Luna.  I’m sorry.  I just… I’m going to miss you.  Be careful, alright?”

“I promise I will, Mom.  I’ll be careful.”

Alduin waited there, looking off to the side.  It was hard not to notice the bit of moisture in his eyes.  He looked up at his big sister.  “You’ll write and call won’t you?”

Luna smiled and gently ruffled his hair as was her habit.  Normally, it elicited a boisterous response with a lot of pretend griping.  But just then, my son sniffled and he flung himself at his sister.  She held him tightly, closing her eyes a moment.  “Hey,” she whispered.  “Remember what I told ya, ok?  Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be.  But don’t hide yourself away all the time, either, alright?  I love you, lil brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.”

Lastly, she went to my dad.  He grinned at her and held out his arms.  “C’mere kiddo.”

I heard the catch of her breath and a soft hiccup of a sob as he wrapped his arms around her.  “I have every faith in you, Luna,” my father told her.  “You’re so strong.  And you know we’re here for you.  We’re only a phone call away and can be in Bridgeport if you need us in a matter of hours.”

“I-I know, Pop.  Thank you.”

“Take care of yourself, my little Eclipse.”


 

 

As the family gathered around her one last time, Aurora stepped forward, a large book clutched in her hand.  “Your grandfather and I talked it over, Luna.  It’s time.  You’re ready to take over now.”  She placed the book in Luna’s hands.  Luna’s gaze met her mother’s.

“I’ll do you guys proud, I promise.”

Aurora sniffled.  “Oh baby, you’ve always made me proud.  Now, go out and show them what a Wyvern can do, ok?”

Then, Luna turned away and left.  She didn’t dare look back until she was in her Nan’s car.  She saw them there, her mother and father, her little brother, and her grandmother and grandfather.  The ache in her heart was fierce, but this wasn’t goodbye.  This was important.  She knew it was.

“I’ll be back, guys,” she murmured as she pulled away.


 

The flight itself was over 8 hours.  Her Nan’s car wouldn’t be shipped over for about a week, so Luna took a taxi from the airport to the address of her new apartment.  She stepped out and looked up at it.  There was something about this place.  She couldn’t have said what.  Maybe it was all those memories from when she’d been four and waiting in a hospital waiting room, but while the cityscape was pretty beautiful, there was a feeling of something beneath the surface.  Still, there was a feeling of belonging.  In this time, in this place, she was right where she needed to be.

With her head held high and awaiting new adventures, Luna walked into her apartment building.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 

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


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

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

 

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


 

Chapter 26: Eye of the Storm

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

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

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

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

 2145

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

 It is obvious the two have an intimate relationship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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


 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Her grandmother stopped.  “He talks to you?”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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


 

Chapter 25: Another Dragon

I haven’t been feeling well the last few days.  I’m pretty sure I know what it is.  After getting back from Venice Beach, I was sick.  I think all the “practice” Jeff and I have been doing lately finally took.

At least, I hope so.  I really hope that it isn’t just the Sim Flu.  Jeff and I both want another child, I think Jeff even more so than me.

Hoping to surprise Jeff, I quietly went to the hospital and talked to the doctors there, swearing them to secrecy.  Then I went home.  I’ve been waiting for the call back for forever.  It finally came today!

It’s confirmed!  I’m pregnant again!  I looked down at my still flat stomach and can only grin.  “Hey lil one.  Hey, I’m your mama!”

The minute the door opened and I heard Jeff’s voice, I couldn’t contain the grin.  I ran out to meet him to deliver the good news.  “Jeff!  Guess whose gonna be a daddy again?”

He was ecstatic.  He couldn’t even speak at first.

He pulled me close and just looked into my eyes.  “I love you,” he whispered.

We rushed to go tell my parents.  I found them in Luna’s room.  Mom had been gathering laundry up and Dad had been standing in the doorway, chatting with her.  So I got to tell them together.  They were so excited!  Dad grabbed me into a- gentle- bear hug.

Dad went off to go congratulate Jeff and Mom pulled me into a hug.  “Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful.  I’m so happy for you guys!  Have you told Luna yet?”

“No, not yet.  As soon as she gets home from school, I plan on it.  I only just got the test results back today.”  Mom grinned.  She was really looking forward to being a grandma again.


 

I waited for Luna to get home from school, giving her a couple minutes to settle in.  She got her homework done first and had gone into the library to play the [i]Spaceman[/i].  I intercepted her there.  “Hey baby girl!  Can we talk a minute?”

She looked up at me, grinning.  “Mom, are you pregnant?  Am I gonna be a big sister?”

I just stared at her, then began to laugh.  “Luna!  Are you reading my mind?”

She looked sheepish.  “Well, I can’t help it!  You’re so happy, it’s blasting a bit!”

She threw her arms around me.  “I’m so happy for you mama!  And I get to be a big sister!”

“That you do, baby.  That you do.”

She immediately began rub her hand over my stomach.  “Hey in there!” she murmured softly.  I wondered if she was doing it in her mind too.  I think she was.  “I’m your big sister, Luna.  I’ll see you soon!”  She giggled, as if someone were talking to her.  “Soon enough.”


 

Since our family was going to be growing, Dad hired a crew to do some work around the house.  It didn’t take long at all.  The second floor was expanded, adding another bedroom with an attached bath and redoing the master bedroom into something even more grand as well as doing a bit of work on the pool.

I really like what they did with Mom and Dad’s room.  So luxurious.  It has a fireplace and a nice little seating area now, as well as the attached ensuite.


 

As winter gets a tight grip on Monte Vista, Luna’s been entertaining herself by beating her Pop-pop at video games.  Dad doesn’t mind so much.  I think he enjoys it, actually.

Dad also took Luna and sat her down for a talk, about the family.  She already knows so much because of her abilities, but he wanted to have a serious discussion with her.  So he took her up to his room and had her take a seat.


From the journal of Luna Wyvern

I sat in the chair in Nan and Pop-pop’s room, looking around, kicking my feet as Pop-pop sat in the other chair.  He hadn’t lit a fire in the fireplace yet, though it had gotten cold.  I could tell he was thinkin’.  I could never quite read Pop-pop.  I had to concentrate real hard to do it and I think he often knew I was doin’ it.  Pop-pop’s special power was being able to see, see things in the world around him.  At least, that’s what he always told me.  After a little while, he finally spoke, “Luna, what do you know of our family?  Of our powers?”

I shrugged.  “I know great-grandma wasn’t a Sim, right?  She had powers.  And she passed them down to us, right?”

Pop-pop nodded.  “That’s exactly right.  Do you know what she was?  What runs through our veins?  It’s the blood of the Dragon, Luna.  I know you’ve heard of a place called Dragon Valley right?  You’ve learned about it in history class?”

“Oh wow!”  I think my eyes were as big as saucers.  “G-great grandma was a [i]Dragon[/i]?!  Really?”

He nodded solemnly.  “Yes, really.  That’s where our powers come from.  Because of that, we have a responsibility to use them wisely, right?”

“You mean I need to be careful about reading minds?”

He grinned.  “Yeah, that’s part of it.  I know it isn’t easy for you sometimes.  We’re still working on learning the shielding.  But that kind of thing can be awfully uncomfortable.  Just ask your mama.”

I nodded.  “Yeah.  I only get thoughts.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to get feelings all the time.”

“Yeah, it’s not easy for her.  Not easy at all.”  He frowned.  “Luna… do you remember being in Bridgeport at all?”

A wave of feeling came over me.  Tears came to my eyes and I looked down, sniffling.  “I-I do.  Not perfectly.  I-I know you were hurt and-and you tried to leave us.  B-but mama stopped you.”

He sighed.  “Yeah, yeah I did and yes, your mom saved me.  I only brought it up because it’s been bothering me a little.  I’m sorry to upset you baby girl.”  He leaned forward in his chair and put a finger under my chin and tilted my face up.  “Yeah, don’t look so sad.  I’m still here.  I’m not going anywhere for a long while, ok?  You’re stuck with me.”

I leapt out of the chair and threw myself at him.  He held me for a bit.  “I’m sorry baby.  C’mon, I’m gonna kick your butt in Racing!”

I swallowed my tears and gave him a saucy grin.  “Not in this lifetime, Pop-pop!”  Then we raced down the stairs.


“How did it go, Dad?”

He and Jeff were at the chess table once again while Mom and I had a midnight snack.  Luna had gone to bed a little while ago, looking a bit sad.  “It… went.  She uh- remembers Bridgeport.  Remembers a lot more than she should, I think.”

I frowned, a bite of Mom’s pumpkin pie half-way to my mouth.

“Is she ok?”

“I think I took care of it.  Talking about it helped.  She seemed genuinely excited by the fact that we’re descended from Dragons,” he murmured, giving a half-grin.

“Hm, yes, she would be, wouldn’t she?  H-have the dreams changed at all, Dad?  What else have you been able to see?”

He frowned.  “It’s so unclear.  I don’t even know if they mean anything.  I just know they have Luna in them and they make me uneasy.  But other than that, there isn’t much.”  He stood up and stretched.  “Don’t worry, we’ll keep a close eye on her, ok?  I promise.  You just worry about yourself and that little one you’re carrying right now, ok?”

I worried my bottom lip, then nodded.  “You’re right, Dad.  You’re right.  You guys going to bed now?”

“Yeah, why don’t you go do the same, baby?”

I nodded.  Mom and Dad went to bed and then Jeff came over to me.  He kissed me, hard.

“C’mon, let’s go relax.  We can go and watch the stars a bit, let you calm down, then let’s follow your parents’ example, ok?”

I nodded, then grabbed a coat and my gloves, then let him lead me out the door.  Though the ground was covered with snow, we hardly noticed as we settled on the ground.  It was a clear night and the crisp, cool air felt good.  Being outside always helped clear my mind.  And with Jeff next to me, it was like paradise.

“Your dad’s right.  Everything will be ok,” Jeff murmured.  “We’ll protect her and this little one, too.”  He put a hand on my stomach and smiled softly at me.  We stayed that way for a little while, then both went in and went to bed.


The next morning, Luna got off of school for a snow day.  Her dad sat her down to play some chess.  He says she’s already quite good.  A little more practice and she’ll beat both him and my dad.

Dad and Jeff hung out holidays lights, in anticipation of Snowflake Day in a few months.

The house is certainly festive.