I recognized him by his shoes before he even said a word.
When I didn’t respond, he settled down beside me.
“Are you okay? Your feet must be freezing.”
“I’m fine. I flew here.”
“Okay. Just say the word, and I’ll give you the clothes on my back.”
It was that sort of thing that I loved about him. “No, that’s okay.”
I didn’t want to talk about what I knew we had to talk about, so instead I asked, “How did you know where I was?”
“I didn’t, at first. We checked the Lumion house and the Red Velvet Lounge first. The kids are out checking at your other kids’ houses as we speak, I should probably ring them but it’s a library…”
“Don’t worry, there’s never any librarians around. I think they died off ages ago.”
I could hear his quiet chuckle as he texted our kids.
“I’m sorry, Elena. I’m so sorry. If I’d known…”
“If you’d known, if I’d known, the kids would never have happened. And if there’s one thing I never regret, it’s my kids. I love each and every one of them, not equally, but I love them all regardless.”
“And I’d never give up the past few months. I haven’t been so happy in a while.”
“Same goes for me.”
I got up. “But…” A memory of the past couple of hours flashed in my eyes, of Corey’s furious face. And my stomach twisted every time I thought too much about it all. Which is why I’d needed solitude in the first place.
“Why?” Bael asked in sign and verbally. “Why does everything bad begin with ‘but’? You just told me you’ve been happy.”
“Oh, Bael! I have been. I’ve been so happy. I love you, and our kids…but I can’t stay with you knowing now what we know.”
“Why not? Our only relations are because of other people. Because of my mother you have grandchildren by your son, but you and I, we’re clean. I’m not your grandson.”
“I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. Are you younger or older than Tylin and Beslan?”
“Does it matter what my answer is?”
“Just answer, please.”
“I’m younger than them. I don’t think we lived in the house at the same time.”
“What do you mean, ‘oh’?”
“Would it have made a difference if I were older than them?”
He pulled me to him. “I don’t want to lose you.”
“I know. I don’t either.”
“So why even think about it? Let’s just stay together, no matter what other people think. They’re not us. They don’t know what we have.”
“I wish we could, Bael…”
“What do you mean? You don’t have to wish it.”
“But I do. It’s not even about our twisted family tree.”
“I tried to tell you, I’m not good for you. Sooner or later, there’ll be something else between us. My challenge. I aim to have 100 kids, and so far I’ve only had 75. It’s not right, it’s not fair for you to have to wait for me to be yours completely.”
“But I could do it. For you…”
“Well, you shouldn’t have to! I don’t want you to! Because you know what, right now all I can think about is that you’re the brother of my grandchildren!” Until I’d said it, I’d been avoiding thinking about it. But I had to do this, had to lie, to get him to stop loving me. He needed someone better for him, preferably someone without such close family ties.
“How can I live with myself being with you knowing that you had the same mother as my grandkids? How can I love you and hold you when I hate to think but think regardless that my son was once with your mother? I can’t, Bael, it’s not going to work.”
“So that’s it, then? It’s just…over?”
“No. We’ll forever be bound by our kids and your brother and sister and nephew. But…we can’t be together anymore. It’s not right.”
“And what if I don’t care what’s right?”
“Do I at least get to say goodbye? To the kids?”
“Don’t be silly. You can stay at my house till they’re grown. I’m not kicking you out.”
“Right now, I think I’d rather be kicked out.”
Corey and Agustin left that day after I arrived home. To be honest, I was glad. Corey may be my son, and I’m happy he’s found love and a family, but he’s also a drama llama with no tact.
As for Tylin and Beslan, they decided to stay the night.
“Come on, you lazy bones, fight me! A conqueror does not conquer if no one fights me!”
“Sorry, little uncle, maybe tomorrow.”
“Ugh. All our relations to our family is giving me a headache. Maybe this snow will freeze my brain cells so I’ll forget.”
“Okay, the snow didn’t work. So maybe some music will…Great, the only song I can think of is the tune for “I am My Own Grandpaw.'”
“Eureka! I’ve found a solution to the discord running rampant in this house! Now to bottle it…”
“A pinch of this, a dash of that…what harm could it be to add a bit extra sugar too? Goodness knows Grandma could do with some of that at the moment.”
“Am I the only one wondering how Aurora can play the guitar?”
“Same way anyone else does. One finger at a time.”
“Yeah, you don’t have to be able to hear to play the guitar,” said Stella.
“Actually, you kind of do.”
“No, you don’t. She’s feeling the vibrations of the music.”
“Beslan! What are you doing?”
“Not to worry, this will simply improve your mood!”
“How is having wet feet improving my mood?”
“I’m sure it’ll dry off quickly.”
“So how do you feel?”
“That was amazing! Do it again, again, again!”
“Well, that worked better than I thought it would.”
“Eeeeeeee! I’m so happy I could cry!”
“It was lovely meeting you, you two have such great senses of humor! Let’s do it again sometime, shall we? Preferably when you leave Corey home? Okay, great, see you then!”
“What did you do to her?”
“Why do you assume it was me?”
“It was him! He’s the best grandson eeeeveeer!”
“Sorry about all the drama.”
“It’s fine! I’m totally over it! I don’t even care!”
“I know that’s the potion talking, but that’s great to hear.”
“Thank you for the lovely potion, Bes! I don’t even care that I have wet feet!”
“What’s up with Mom?” asked Aurora.
“Magic,” signed Bael.
“Can I have magic too?”
“Sorry, aunt-niece, but Tylin and I have to go. Maybe you can figure out the recipe yourself,” said Beslan, and Bael translated for Aurora.
“Should we tell them we broke up?”
“Why spoil their last months as young adults?”
“Bael and Mom are no longer together. Ehehehe.”
“Don’t laugh so creepily. We kinda figured after what happened. I’m sad about it, but Mars says it’s better this – ”
“Yeah, I don’t care.”
“You’re a right little monster, aren’t you?”
“Why do you think I’m the Evil Well Baby of Doom?”
Over the next couple of months, I repeatedly caught Stella poking at our TV, computer, and radio with a screwdriver. But it wasn’t until Bael caught her that anything came of it.
“Excuse me, missy? What are you doing? You know I keep my book saved on there!”
“But Daddy, it’s the internet that caused you and Mom to break up! If Corey hadn’t found out what you two were doing together, you’d be together!”
“Oh, Stella, that’s not how it happened. And even if it were, it’s still not right for us to be together anymore.”
“Go put away the food. I don’t want you near the computer again.”
“Dunno why he cares if the food’s put away or not. It’ll just go bad anyways. Everyone likes snow cones to real food.”
All too soon, I could no longer hold off on aging up our quads. Bael and I cheered for them with all the gusto we had, not much of it faked. Sure, we were both sad to see them grow again, but I think by now Bael had resigned himself to their fates.
Aurora wants to go into the music business and perhaps someday become a rock star. I’m surprised by her choice, but if she thinks she can do it then who am I to tell her no?
Mars also wants to pursue music, but I think his interests lie more in playing in the park as a hobby. When I asked what he was going to do for a job, he shrugged.
Venus wants to develop her fairy abilities more, as she’s starting to think she’s not a ‘real’ fairy because I wasn’t born a fairy. Her goal is to grow greener gardens.
And Stella wants to become a superstar athlete and tour the world. I just hope she doesn’t use her world tours as a front to hack banks and government buildings by breaking their security systems. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.
“I’ll miss you, Daddy.”
“You could come live with me in Queenstown,” Bael signed
“I wish I could, but I don’t think Queenstown has the right music scene I need.”
“I hope you find what you’re looking for, Mom.”
“What do you mean?”
“Is it worth it to have 100 kids?”
“Because I said so.”
“Are you sure you want to move, Venie?”
“But where are you going to go?”
“I’m not sure. I just know I need to start over somewhere fresh. Somewhere where nobody knows me or my family.”
“But we’ll miss you.”
“So come live with me.”
“Maybe we will.”
Bael lingered after the quads left. His luggage lay around our feet.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I am too.”
And then we parted ways. We might see each other again if the kids get married or something.
Spring dawned, but I refused to age Charlie up. I needed at least one little one around me. I also did not go out hunting for fathers. I just…felt drained, felt hopeless. I missed Bael so much.
So when I got a phone call from my son Clark inviting me to visit him in Hidden Springs and meet his daughter, I took him up on it. I left Charlie in the care of my granddaughter Holly and took off.
Part of me was hoping I’d run into Cam, because he lived in Hidden Springs too.
Clark was bigger than I remembered him being. He said he thought he was pregnant with an alien like my son and his full brother Serpent had been. He’d also invited his triplet Carrie to visit. I was very happy to see both of them, it took my mind off things.
I met Clark’s first alien daughter, Celina. Poor girl seemed to be left out from the attention her father should’ve been giving her because he was busy raising his sister Celsia’s kids too.
Clark tried to get me to adopt the alien baby that was growing inside him because of how hard it was for him to raise Celsia’s kids and Celina together, but I wasn’t buying it. I have had 75 kids and to me it’s not that bad. I understood it was harder for Clark because he was going to have to raise them until they were eighteen years old, but that wasn’t an excuse.
So I told a little white lie. “Clark, I love babies and I would love to help you out but I can’t take your baby. I have a house full at home you know.”
Well, it was going to be true eventually again. When I felt up for it.
Another part of the reason I didn’t want to take Clark up on it was because of Holly. I’d raised her when she moved to Moonlight Falls to protect me, and I always felt like I’d failed her because I hadn’t sent her home to her mom Alice. I mean, after a while of living with me she took up with some hard-partying witches. What kind of grandmother lets that happen? Even though Holly was an adult?
Clark’s brother Borage also showed up at the house, and he and Celsia seemed to spend a lot of time playfully arguing. It reminded me a lot of how the quads had acted – they called each other stupid and idiot but were really close regardless.
Borage seemed to like kids – he spent a little time with Celsia’s twin daughters. I found myself attracted to him despite common sense and my recent experiences.
Carrie tried to get me to get with Borage, but we both said no. I was just admiring him, I wasn’t going to do anything about it. Besides, I was kind of turned off by the fact Carrie seemed to have a thing for Borage. He’s her half-brother! I really hoped she was joking, but they were jokes in very bad taste.
Borage made us some pretty good drinks, and I started not caring that Borage was my children’s half-brother. I wasn’t sure if it was the drink because I only had the one, but what else could it be? His magic genie powers?
See…I kissed him. And I hate to admit it, but he was a pretty fine kisser.
Clark got on my case, and under the magic alcohol I was glad he had. I wasn’t sure what I’d’ve done if he hadn’t stopped me, but it might’ve been Bael all over again, only this time I would’ve known about the relations from the start.
After that, I tried to avoid Borage by spending more time with Carrie. We had a lot of fun with the karaoke machine, I only wished I had room in my house for one.
But then Carrie wandered off and started flirting with Borage again, so I decided to step in. At least I wasn’t drunk anymore so I wouldn’t be stupid again.
It seemed to work for a bit, because Carrie got out when I got in. So I turned my attention to Celsia to stay distracted from Borage and because I was worried about Clark’s sanity. I tried to convince Celsia to be more active in her daughters’ lives, but she kept feeding me lines about needing to learn to be a spa specialist so she could own her own spa. Last time I checked, learning to run a spa doesn’t require so much of your brainpower that you can’t feed your kids yourself.
I was outside and didn’t hear Clark screaming, but I was thrown into one of my visions after his alien birth. He’d had another daughter, Vivian. She was beautiful. I still couldn’t see why he’d wanted someone else to have her.
When I got home, I decided I needed a haircut, so I stopped by the salon. Fortunately, they were still open despite the hour.
After, I decided to walk home and ran into this man.
“Hello, there. Are you Elena Queen?”
“Yeah, that’s me. I guess the haircut isn’t fooling anybody?”
“Not really, ma’am.”
“Well…so I’m guessing you want my kids?”
“No, not me.”
“But my boss does. He would like to propose an experiment. Don’t make a wrong move, here. Just come quietly.”
I conjured my aura.
“It’s all right, Ms. Queen, it’s only a tranquilizer. Why would we kill you when we can use you?”
Also, I’m out of town and have no access to most of my EPs (except Seasons, which I have on Origin) for a couple of weeks, so this is well and truly a cliffhanger. 😛
I’ll still be reading other people’s stories since I have net.
Oh yeah, and the Beslan potion thing? He rolled a couple wishes to cceate elixirs, so I indulged.