2.49 The Next Step

We celebrated Summer’s birthday today, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to remember how much we’ve done in the past few years.

It feels like a thousand things are different, and a thousand things are the same.

I’m exactly as in love with Summer as when I first met her. She’s never stopped being the smart and interesting person I know. She’s sold several books at this point and has many more she wants to write, and she even asked me to collab with her on one.

All the emptiness we’ve felt in the house has been completely filled.

Sidney and Aaron are blooming up, and May and June are starting to walk on their own. April’s going to spring up soon too, and with this many kids in the house, it’s any wonder we haven’t gone insane. Lance and Ellis have submitted all the paperwork to get a kid of their own, and Jarred has two brats now. Our kids are all going to grow up together. It’s crazy to think about, how big our family has grown. There’s cousins and aunts and greats everywhere you look. We’re going to run out of space.

Four toddlers at once. Mom and dad barely survived twins, I don’t know how we’re going to get by with four. We’re all working folks, and with mom and dad both passed, we no longer have the free babysitters we’ve come to rely on. It’s made a thousand percent worse by the construction, but it we don’t change the house, we’ll never fit in all these kids.

Luckily it finally finished after so much time.

It still needs a little work until we can save up some more money, but it’s a little more “party ready”, as Mira puts it.

The most important thing is the space. June and May will be sharing a room forever, but at least they won’t be sharing it with three other kids.

Mira also no longer has to live in her tiny old room. We’re learning to share.

With so many people in the house, we need to. I try to cook whenever I can, especially now that my schedule’s more lax, but it’s going to be a lot of work wrangling these kids.

Still, I love looking down the table. I see Summer, my beautiful wife who’s built this perfect family and this perfect house. She’s been nothing but supportive the last few years, and I can’t imagine a day without her. I see my sister, Mira, who struggled with herself for the longest time, and now she’s a professional who runs social media for an agency. Her son, Sidney, a sarcastic but energetic kid who loves the outdoor even more than mom did. I see all of my kids, Aaron and April who have managed to break the Dabney curse of a troubled childhood so far, and May and June, still babies but so sweet. I see this beautiful house and this fantastic life my parents built for me.I can look back on my life and know I accomplished with it everything I intended to. And I can put all my energy into helping my kids accomplish everything they’ve ever wanted to.¬† I see a bright future for my kids, and a happy ending for me.

 

A/N: Thus ends Gen 2! Quentin was a pretty good heir, but I can’t imagine his story going any further than this. I’m going to take a break for a minute while I prepare for Gen 3’s heir: April Dabney. I’m still updating the Plum Tree App family tree, but I realized I didn’t have a complete picture of how interconnected the family was, so I went on Family Echo and made this. This includes Summer’s side of the family, along with the extended family of Jarred and Seema, and Ray and his people. As with the last gen, I went ahead and randomly rolled everyone’s traits and aspirations.

I’ve been through a ton of life changes while Gen 2 was happening, including moving into my new place. Hopefully by now I’m settled, but it may cause a brief pause in the updating of this blog. As usual, you can check the links in Other Blogs for recommended reading while I take this (what I’m sure is a) very brief break. See you for the next generation!

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2.48 Memorial

Sometimes it felt like this day would never come. We lost Aunt Kayla and Aunt Lacy. We lost Grandma Zoe. We lost dad. And mom remained, like a rock.

The funeral was quiet. A lot of the kids were too young to attend, but Sidney and Aaron were able to come. After she was buried, after the wake, after we resettled back into what remained of our every day lives, Mira and Lance and I went together to pay our respects.

Mira’s the most broken up about it. Without mom’s support, I don’t know where she’d be right now. I don’t know where any of us would be. But she loved Sidney and Sidney loved her, and I know it hurt to think he might grow up without her.

Lance, as usual, tried to remind us of the good times. He was crushed that mom had died before the adoption papers could even be filed, but at least she got to meet May and June before she passed. We talked about all the times she helped us with our homework, or when she’d drag us to GeekCon, or the nights spent watching her favorite movies.

We still have all her pictures, and they’re so strange to look at now. Pictures of dad as he reads to a toddler Mira, and pictures of me as a baby leaning over a birthday cake. Us at festivals, waving sparklers through the air, and moments of affection captured forever to be shared. I think about showing these to Aaron or April and telling them about the one room Mira and Lance and I shared, or how looking at the right shade of orange made me nostalgic.

Weddings, pregnancies, new friendships, sibling bonds, all shared in pictures she took and images she shared. I feel like my whole world is about to shift, but these are things I’m going to keep so our future generations will know where they came from.

Interlude: Opening a Dialogue

Mira walked through the restaurant, glancing at the sunflower yellow booths as she did. She wished she’d dressed up a little more, or maybe a little less. Something cooler, that said I’m a professional and a mom, and you missed out big time, buddy. She wanted to pull on her hair. Cutting it had seemed right at the time, but she missed piling it on top of her head or letting it curl. Something new, that’s what she needed.

The booth had someone in it as she approached, and she sighed as she slid into the seat beside a familiar face. Ray Brides hadn’t changed much in the six years since she’d last seen him. He’d grown out a beard, carefully trimmed, but his face was the same underneath, and he still sported a leather jacket and dark jeans that had caused her to make heart eyes at him at the first place. A menu was placed in front of her as she sat, but she ignored it, turning instead to her long time ex-boyfriend.

“Okay,” she said. “What do you want?”

“I deserve that,” Ray said. He held up his hands. “I promise I come today with good intentions.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m assuming this has something to do with my son.”

“I deserve that too, I guess.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Can I start with an apology?”

Mira narrowed her eyes at him. “Really?”

“It’s not like you don’t deserve it.”

“I know that, dummy. I just never thought you’d give one.”

He smiled a little. “It’s been four years since I talked to you last. I know I didn’t leave the best impression, but you’ve got to give a man a chance to grow.”

“The last time we spoke,” she said, “was over the phone. I told you I was pregnant, and you said it wasn’t your problem.”

He cringed. “Yeah.”

“And after Sidney was born,” she continued, sliding the menu closer so she had anything to look at but him, “I called your parents, because I thought you might want to at least see him, and they told me you moved to San Myshuno and had no intention of ever coming back.”

“Can I at least try to explain myself?” he asked.

She folded her arms and sat back. “I’m listening.”

He sighed. “When we were kids, we were two very angry people. We barely liked each other, but for some reason we were the only ones who tolerated each other. You were the one who told me you never wanted to see me again, and then a few weeks later I get a phone call that you’re pregnant. I panicked. Not my brightest moment.”

“You could’ve done anything,” she said, feeling the anger rise in her voice. Sitting here with him, she felt like a teenager again, ready to fight and kick and scream. But she swallowed it down, breathing in. “We didn’t have to get back together. I didn’t even want that. The only thing I’ve ever asked from you is to come meet your son.”

“I know.” He rubbed his forehead. “And I didn’t leave because of that, I want you to know that. I’d already been planning to skip town as soon as I could. It was just the final nail in the coffin for me. So I moved out on my own into this nothing apartment with no furniture and no money and just sort of figured everything out from there.”

“So what changed?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Lots of stuff. I struggled to find a decent paycheck for a while and learned to rely on other people. Made friends for the first time. Stopped lashing out at everyone. I’m sure you know how that is.”

She scraped her teeth against her lip but remained quiet.

“And then I met someone.” He smiled as he said it. “I didn’t expect it to happen. I never thought–it’s hard to explain, but Alexander’s probably the first person I’ve met who actually gets me.”

“Oh.” Her shoulders slumped forward. “Alexander?”

“It’s complicated,” he said, “but it works. I haven’t been happy like this before. And now that we’re getting more serious, I realized there’s a big ol’ red mark on my personal record that I need to deal with.”

“And once you do?” she asked.

“It’s probably too much to ask for a relationship with him–with Sidney. I don’t even expect you to let me within ten feet of him. But I thought, if I can clear the air with you, I can keep moving forward with Alex, and maybe one day…”

She set her hands on the table, running through all the things she’d ever thought of screaming in Ray’s face if he tried to wheedle back into her life. But she’d been picturing the teenage boy she’d come to resent. The person in front of her now was an adult. He had a job and a partner and a life he was trying to build.

After a few moments of silence, she said, “My dad died a while ago.”

“Oh, Mira–”

She raised a hand. “My dad also struggled a lot as a kid. He fought with people, he got messed up in some bad things, and he got lucky with the people in his life who helped pull him out of it. And when I was a messed up kid, he taught me how to deal with it. My parents were both about second chances and fresh starts. And I think if Sidney gets to a point where he’s starting to struggle, I want him to know he has someone to talk to. Even if that someone is you.”

Ray looked at her. “What does that mean, exactly?”

She sighed. “You should meet him. He’s this absolute angel. And we can work something out where he gets to see you. While I’m there, at least at the start. And then we can move forward from there.”

“You have no idea what this means to me,” Ray said as the waitress left two plates of pie for them.

“You’ve changed a lot, Ray.” She smiled at him. “And I want to meet Alexander. Meet the man who tamed you.”

He laughed. “That’s making it sound more exciting than it is. But sure. Maybe we can plan something where we all go out together.”

She picked up her fork and sliced through the pie. “One step at a time.”

2.47 We Keep Growing

Looking at May and June, I wonder if this is how mom and dad felt when Mira and Lance were born. You think you have everything down pat with one kid, and then you realize you’ll have to deal with twice as much at the exact same time.

You think having four kids now we’d be better at naming them too. ‘April’ was an attempt to combine multiple names in our family together, and when we found out we were having twins, we got a little lazy. Poor Aaron’s the odd man out in this, though fitting since he ended up being our only boy.

Summer’s thrilled anyway. And mom, well.

She told me she wanted at least four grandkids, and this brought her up to five. Every day she dotes over the grandbabies. Lance came to visit and thanked us for getting her off his and Ellis’ backs to put their lot into the gene pool.

It’s been hectic since the May and June were born, and we almost missed the most surprising development of all.

After being away for several years, Ray Bridges shows up at the house.

Mira had told us a while ago that he’d reached out to her, and they were trying to come up with the best way to introduce him back into Sidney’s life. I still can’t stand the guy, but she promised he’s changed a lot. Mom said Mira matured so much in the past few years, so there’s no reason he couldn’t have. I’ve still got my eye on him.

He seems good around Sidney at least, who’s ready to start school now. Every time Ray comes over, he runs to the door.

So far, the most of their interaction has been in the house, but Mira thinks they’re ready to move onto public venues.

Aaron’s almost old enough to follow Sidney around, and I’m nervous about him being around Ray. But I trust my sister with her own kid, so I should try to trust her with mine.

2.46 The Romance Festival

Lance invited us all out to the Romance Festival and acted pretty coy about it. When we arrived, dressed up like he asked, it was pretty clear what was going on.

“Mom,” he said, “you’ve told us a hundred times that you and dad ended up here on a whim and got married immediately. Ellis and I have been talking about our future for a long time, and we were trying to figure out the best way to finally tie the knot, and I couldn’t think of a better tribute than this.”

It was Mira who ran forward and wrapped her arms around him.

“You absolute ass,” she said. “You didn’t even tell me.”

He laughed. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”

We took our seats in front of the same arch mom and dad got married at. I haven’t seen mom this happy since April was born, and Summer sat beside her, squeezing her hand as the two men of the hour took the front.

Ellis and Lance have been together since high school, and then for four more years as they shared their apartment in San Myshuno. I don’t know if I could’ve waited this long if I’d been with Summer all this time, and it seems like they couldn’t wait another second.

The ceremony was short and sweet. Lance told Ellis he was the only person he’d ever loved, and Ellis promised to keep loving him forever.

They embraced at the end as the fireworks went off around them.

We stood up with the happy couple, laughing and cheering. The festival was now in full swing. I was suspicious Lance really planned this so he didn’t have to worry about catering. Food stalls offered up good plates, and we all grabbed drinks from the bartender.

“Look at that,” a voice said behind me. “Is that Quentin Dabney?”

I turned, expecting maybe a fan or an old friend, and I was surprised at who was standing in front of me.

“I can’t believe I ran into you!” Brianna said. “It’s been, what, ten years?”

I was struck, staring at her. Brianna hadn’t changed at all since I last saw her, however long ago, as she walked away from me at the dance. Her hair was still long, though she’d given it a fashionable shave, and she complimented her skin with bright colors and bold patterns. It was probably ten years ago that the two of us stood here together, basking in the glow of the sakura tea.

“How have you been?” she asked. “Look at you!”

“I’ve been fantastic,” I said, shaking off the sudden nostalgia. “My brother just got married.”

“No way!” She glanced back at where my family was taking up the picnic tables. “Is that Summer? Is she pregnant?”

“Twins,” I said.

“What!” She laughed. “I knew you two were going to pop out a hundred babies but I didn’t think all at once!”

“How’re you?” I asked. “I didn’t even know you were living in the city. Or are you just visiting?”

She shook her head. “My boyfriend and I are in the Fashion District. We’re trying to save up money for a penthouse.”

I grinned. “Your dreams came true after all.”

“And thank Wright they did. No offense, but I think still being stuck in boring old Willow Creek would’ve destroyed me.”

“My brother lives in the Spice District for that same reason.”

“Oh, here.” She waved to a redheaded dude who’d been talking with the love guru. “Jonathon, baby! This is an old friend of mine.”

Jonathon jogged up, his relaxed clothes and shaved head not out of place amid the trendy townies. He grinned when he saw me.

“You’re Quentin Dabney,” he said.

I laughed. “You know me?”

“I saw one of your sets last time you were in town. You’re a pretty funny dude.”

“I try.” I nodded to Brianna. “I got upgraded to friend.”

She shrugged. “He was my high school boyfriend, babe. We left it a little unfriendly, I’ll admit. Luckily we’re adults now.”

“Luckily,” I said. “How long have you two been together?”

“Two years.” She reached for his hand. “We’re saving money right now.”

“My babe wants a penthouse.” Jonathon gave a shrug, as though that was enough.

“His wife is having twins,” she said, gesturing to where my family was standing. Summer had noticed our conversation and gave me a look across the courtyard. “Right off the bat?”

“We have two more at home,” I said.

She put her hand to her mouth. “That’s so many! I bet they look just like you.”

I showed her some pictures of Aaron and April, and she smiled big as she saw them. It did look like they were inheriting the Dabney genes. Brianna and Jonathon told me about their plans for the future (one kid, she insisted, when they got to that point), the penthouses they were looking at, and the traveling they wanted to do. Jonathon laughed with me, and he seemed like a cool dude. Very laid back. Very much Brianna’s style.

I did have to say goodbye, however, though she asked me to stop by next time I was in the city. It’s crazy running into her after all these years. It feels like not that long ago I was too nervous to even ask her out, and now we both have our own lives and our own families to look after. I went back to mine, kissing my wife on the cheek and offering my brother congratulations one more time.

Running into Brianna made me realize how far we’ve all come. Lance no longer hides away, Mira’s a responsible adult with a kid, Summer’s got the family she’s always wanted, and mom got to watch us grow up and accomplish our dreams. I can’t imagine what else is waiting for us.

2.45 Passing Time

I cannot believe how quickly we’re moving forward. Dad’s death was a momentary lapse, a silent moment in a sea of loud noise. Now we’re full up on toddlers.

Sidney’s growing up too fast. Mira’s focused pretty heavily on her job since she started taking on actual clients. She runs social media for organizations and celebrities, and she even offered to represent me. I could use the boost. With so much family stuff happening, it’s hard to stay on the game.

Aaron sprouted up. He loves to make messes, and I’m not usually so mad at him. I like to gently remind him that’s not how we do, and he seems to take the hint.

And so soon after losing dad, we find out we’re gaining another family member.

Summer’s so happy to be pregnant again. We weren’t even really trying. We’ve postponed any real decisions while the family was healing, but now we don’t have much of a choice.

Honestly I’m happy. Mom’s still sluggish after losing dad, and a new grandkid’ll perk her right up.

We’re both working from home more, which is good for lots of reasons. I have comedy routines to write, and Summer’s publishing her first children’s book soon. Her connections in the editing world got her book accepted quickly, and we’ll see it in stores soon. She wants to start a whole series and hopes being pregnant again will give her the time to work on it. And the two of us taking care of Aaron and Sidney has given Mira some free time.

She’s trying to date again, but I know it makes her nervous. This may be my big brother instinct talking, but I haven’t really liked a single boy she’s brought around. They all kind of remind me of Ray, who still doesn’t return her calls, according to her. I think she gets the same vibe from her beaus. They rarely come to the house. Still, she didn’t really get to experience dating yet, at least not with someone who’s not a complete asshole. We’re happy to babysit while she goes out and enjoys herself.

And after everything we’ve been going through, April’s born and grows and it’s like the time just flew by. Mom documented everything with her camera, and I feel like I barely have time to catch it. With April finally walking, we had to throw a big party with all of our people. It’s so hard to get everyone in one place anymore.

I feel like Mira’s finally back to being a person who likes herself. She’s growing her hair out again, and I think April loves her the most out of anyone in our family. Every interaction between the two of them, April adores.

And with Summer pregnant¬†again, we’re looking for all the help we can get. Luckily the boys’ll start school soon.

Mom’s still a little slow. Summer’s taken over gardening, though she tells me every day she has no idea how mom does all of this. Some weekends she hires a gardener, and if mom notices she doesn’t say. Trillian’s making some progress, Summer says, though she’s still dating three guys at once.

Jarred still manages to be my best friend and my best older cousin. He and Seema are trying for another baby as well, and I’m so excited that we’ll be raising our kids together. Sometimes it feels like this family is starting to stretch out far, even when I want to keep them close.

But there are special days where we’re all in the same place, sharing the same food and drink, dancing to the same music. It’s been a long road to get to a place that’s perfect like this. Sometimes it feels like all our dreams have come true. I’ve got a good feeling about the future.

2.44 Saying Goodbye

I reread that last entry with my dad, and I can’t believe it was the last conversation I ever had with him. I try not to think about all the advice he could’ve offered me, or how great a grandad he could’ve been to Aaron and Sidney, and all the moments they’ll miss out on with him.

The day of the funeral was muggy, which made it all the worse for our dressed in black. The suit felt stiff on me. I hadn’t worn a proper one since my wedding, and having that thought as I trudged towards the graveyard made my limbs a little heavier.

Most of mom’s friends have already passed on. We buried Aunt Lacey a while ago, along with Aunt Kayla, and Grandma Zoe’s urn got passed onto Summer’s younger sister Trillian. Just as it feels like our family’s booming, it also feels like the limbs are being cut off the trees. But we invited everyone we had left to the graveyard to say their proper goodbyes, and once he was in the ground, we struggled with what to say to each other.

Seema, Trillian, and Zoe talked among themselves. It’s hard to imagine the people they’ve already lost in their lives, and being so close to that grief again had to be a struggle today. I know I couldn’t have gotten through it without Zoe at my side.

Jarred’s also just as good a big brother as he is a cousin. He put his hands on my arms and let me know he was here for me. His moms never even got to meet their granddaughter, which must sting for him. I’m grateful dad at least got to see Aaron before passing.

And then Lance and Mira don’t even seem to know how to cope with what’s happening. Dad wasn’t the constant in their lives he was for me, but he was right by their sides when they needed it most. Without him, Mira might still be learning to channel her anger, and Lance might still be struggling with himself.

Mira’s lifted herself a lot since having Sidney, but I know she’s still struggling. Chopping her hair off and starting the tattoos were little things she did to get control, and sometimes dad was the only one who got that. She’s the only bad kid left in our family. The Rais side is disappearing.

And then there’s mom…

I don’t even know how to help her. I can’t tell her everything’s going to be alright. I can’t say to her tomorrow will be another day, and she’s still got her family right here. Dad’s gone. His support meant everything to her. He’s been her best friend, her confidant, and her true love.

I’m struggling to be there for her. What do you do when you have to take care of your own mother? How do you lift up the person who’s job is to take care of you?

I tried to remind her of what’s important. Her family. Her grandkids. All the little things we still need her for.

We headed back to the house for a small wake, which most involved us sitting around the table and reminiscing.

Sidney and Aaron were watched over by a babysitter while we were gone, and I could tell Mira was relieved when her son toddled over to her. Kids are good for a pick-me-up.

Mom didn’t seem to respond to anyone for a while. She looked lost in her own world. No one touched the food she’d made, but after a while the stories started.

Lance told us dad had tried to teach him the quickest way to deal with bullies: a jab to the stomach or a punch to the nose. Even mom hadn’t heard this one. He joked that he’d never had the confidence to pull it off, but Mira was more than happy to scrap for him.

Mira at least managed to look embarrassed about that. She said she always knew she was her father’s daughter, something I’m not sure I’d ever heard her say before. Maybe a little Rais lives on.

And after a while, even mom joined in, reminding us about their adventures together. She told us again the story about how a text from Zoe sent them off to the Romance Festival in San Myshuno, and their quick and dirty marriage. It’s the reason we keep going back, she said. It’s their place.

Our little party started to fade. Trillian pulled Summer aside and offered her condolences one last time, promising babysitting duty anytime we needed it. Lance kissed mom on the cheek and promised he’d come around again soon. He needed to get to know his nephews anyway.

Jarred and Seema left last, and I was surprised when he stopped to comfort mom some more. I didn’t think the two of them had ever really clicked, but he told her they were only a few blocks away, and nothing was too small for them to come over. Seema squeezed Summer’s hand and hugged me goodbye.

Today was a tragedy, but it was softened somewhat. We have good people looking out for us.

2.43 Aaron

I can’t believe how fast time is moving.

Summer’s pregnancy flew by, and we announced our little boy Aaron. Summer wanted a home birth, and I was surprised at how easy it was. She’s had no issues at all, not even morning sickness, thank goodness. We’ve had so much support from mom and dad and Mira’s been working from home as much as she can to take care of Sidney and promises to help out where she can.

I thought I was prepared for a kid. I thought I knew how I’d feel, but it’s different when he’s right here in front of me. I hold him in my hands, and he’s this perfect thing, small and delicate, warm and sweet smelling, his little fingers grabbing and his little heart beating. I want to give him everything. I want to watch him grow, and I want him to stay like this forever.

Mom’s absolutely thrilled to have another grandkid. When she’s not playing with Sidney, she’s cooing over Aaron. Dad’s happy too, though he’s smaller in his enthusiasm.

It took a while to settle back in, but I’m going back to work now. I hate coming home so late, but our different schedules will help when Aaron’s a toddler. I’m trying to learn to cook from mom too, and I spend a few nights a week testing out recipes.

Dad sat down with me. He’s used to staying up late, and I think he wanted to see how I was doing.

“Panicking yet?” he asked.

I laughed. “I’m still getting used to it.”

He picked up his fork, scraping the last of the leftovers across the plate. “I remember when you were born. I had a crisis over the whole thing. My job at the time was–well, it wasn’t easy, getting by like that. And getting paid peanuts for it. We barely had a house but we had you.”

I got quiet. Mom and dad don’t talk a lot about what they went through when they split for that short time. They seem happier pretending it didn’t happen. Sometimes I look at the old photos mom keeps around, and it feels like I’m looking at an alternate world altogether. It made me realize my whole life was changing.

“It’s scary,” he said, smiling at me. “But it’s worth it. Every second of drama, of pain, of stress, it all leads to this right here. I’m looking at my son with a kid of his own. And I know he’ll give you hell.”

My chest was tight. No one in this family was shy about affection, but dad always showed his in different ways. This was the first time I’d really felt he was proud of me.

“It won’t be the last one,” I said, forcing a laugh. “Summer wants three more.”

“Your mom would’ve had eight kids if I’d let her get away with it.” He stood slowly, collecting the empty plates. He moved slower in his old age, but he’d never lost his strength. He still trained with Mira on occasions, and he still went for his daily jog around the neighborhood. Sometimes it seemed like dad was invincible.

I followed him into the kitchen.

“If my kids are anything like the twins, I’ve got a lot to look out for,” I said.

He gave me a look. “You were a little hellraiser too, don’t forget. It’s a journey every child must take. From loving offspring to belligerent teen.”

“No one can be worse than Mira,” I said.

“I sure as hell was.” He grinned at the memories. “And we both ended up with loving families for it. Just keep a clear head. Don’t lose your cool. I hear you’re funny. Use that.”

Normally I played it cool around my family, but my dad was offering me fatherly advice on my newborn son. It’s stupid to say my eyes welled with tears, but it’s true. I grabbed him in a hug to hide my unmanly emotions.

“Thanks, dad,” I said.

I heard his laugh in my ear. “You’re gonna do great.”

And I want to believe him.

2.42 The Baby

We’d known Mira was ready to burst for a few weeks now, but it still came as a surprise. Lance was visiting, and he didn’t even make it through the door before she started complaining of contractions.

We rushed her off to the hospital, and in less time than we expected, she returned home with Sidney Dabney.

He’s such a perfect kid. Lance rushed forward, ready to be an uncle.

He’s mom’s first grandkid, and I don’t thinks she’s ever going to let him go.

The train of visitors came and went, and Mira showed Sidney off to everyone she could, but I think the person most struck by him is Summer.

She goes into the room just to look at him.

She cooes at him and calls him sweet names, and I can tell it’s reminded her of what she really wants.

And after a few months of helping Mira take care of him, she stopped me when I came in from work.

“He’s just so perfect!” she said. “He smells so good too!”

“Mira’s done good work for sure,” I said. “And mom’s flipping out about it. She’s so happy to finally be a grandma.”

“I’ve just been thinking,” she said. “I’ve always known I wanted a family, and I know you want one too. We agreed to wait because of our careers, and we know it involves building on the house, but I don’t want to wait anymore. I love you. I want to start a family with you. I’m ready.”

She took my hands, gazing up at me. I leaned into her.

“I’m more than ready. I don’t care what we have to sacrifice. Let’s start our family.”

And just like that, we started working on it. Our schedules were different enough that there were days we didn’t see each other at all, but the time we did share was spent doing everything we could to increase our odds of having a baby. And the free time that wasn’t spent together in our bedroom was spent helping Mira makeover what used to be her room. The carpet was pulled out, the walls painted, and new furniture brought in to make it a homier room.

“It looks pretty fantastic,” Mira said as we talked over baby Sidney. “Bright and cheery for him.”

“It’s a big change,” I said.

“Hopefully he’s not as gloomy as I was.” She leaned down and waved a finger in his face. “I got a good vibe about this kid.”

“I’m genuinely proud of you,” I told her. “You put a lot of work into this.”

She snapped a finger at me. “Couldn’t have done it without you. Actually, dad put in the most work but it was a family effort.”

We were interrupted as the door sprung open, and Summer bounced in, still wearing her work clothes. She grinned at me, holding her hands up in anticipation.

“I took a test!” she shouted. “It’s official!”

Mira held out her arms. “You’re pregnant?”

Summer let out a giddy giggle. “Absolutely! We’re going to have a baby!”

I reached out and embraced my wife. I couldn’t even say words. We’re going to have a baby!

2.41 The New Place

I can’t believe how much has changed in a few short months. One second the twins are still little brats sneaking off at night and making terrible decisions, and now they’re real adults with real jobs and real relationships. I was a little surprised when Lance first announced that he planned to get an apartment with his high school sweetheart. It seemed like a swift death for any relationship, but I may be proven wrong here.

We all took a trip together to their place in the Spice District, which is probably the place we’ve all spent the most amount of time. It took a couple months of apartment hunting, saving money, co-signing paperwork, and getting on wait lists, but once moved in, Lance invited the whole family out to see the place.

No one was more excited than mom. I think she’s happy to see one of us on our own. It probably reminds her of when she went off to build her own house, only without the physical building.

Ellis had been trying to clean up the place as we came in. He jumped up to greet us. I still haven’t seen that much of him since Lance came out to everyone, but he seems like a cool dude. His artsy nature definitely matches Lance’s musical inclinations, and he tells me all the time he thinks my set is hilarious. I’ll admit that informs my opinion a little more than I should say.

Mom glanced around the page. The two fresh adults were definitely struggling to keep the place parent approved, and there were a few food crumbs on the ground and clothes strewn around. Still, I was impressed. Mira headed towards the window to get a look at the view.

“Not much to see from here,” she called. “I was hoping for a better view.”

“Next apartment,” Lance said.

“It’s still better than my tiny room in the house,” he said. “Which I hear you took over.”

She gave a sheepish look. “It’s like half a foot bigger, and we need to make room for you-know-who.”

“You don’t have to talk about the baby like he’s in the room,” I said. “You’re not going to give him a complex in the womb.”

Mira rolled her eyes. “With my luck?”

Ellis showed dad and Mira the study while Lance, mom, and I went into the bedroom. I couldn’t help ragging on my brother a little bit.

“It’s a good look in here,” I said. “Very bachelor chic.”

Lance shrugged. “We’re still getting used to it.”

Mom smiled as she looked around. “It’s looking homey. You two have made a lot of progress.”

“Thanks, mom.”

“Not big enough for a family,” she said with a sigh. “Maybe some day.”

“Mom!”

“Don’t start her on it,” I said. “I keep telling her Summer and I are trying to be responsible. At least Mira’ll pop soon so you have a grandkid to play with.”

Lance rolled his eyes. “Maybe one day, mom, but right now this is the perfect amount of space for just the two of us.”

We chilled out together a while longer, and Lance showed off his skills. It’s weird thinking my little bro is going down a similar career path as me, though he’s on the path to being a rock star. Ellis showed off some of his sports memorabilia, while Mira enthused about the nightlife. There was no surprise when we walked back into the kitchen and dad was fixing the sink while mom cooked dinner.

The two of them have retired officially, though mom still freelances on the side, and they spend all their time doing exactly this or cuddling together on the couch. Sometimes I imagine this is what it was like when they first moved in together. When the pair of them worked together to build a home. It’s almost sappy.

Mom made curry for all of us, twice as good as what they sell in the stalls, and we crowded around the little fold out table while dad and Ellis took up the couches. I think Ellis is a little intimidated by dad. I’m not surprised. Even in loafers and comfy pants, he’s got an edge.

We told stories and reminisced until the sun went down. After a long day hanging out in Lance’s apartment, I think we were all ready to clear up some space.

Lance and Ellis picked up all the dishes, and it warmed my heart a little to look at them. I spent a lot of time worrying about Lance, but now I know he’s going to be fine.