Things had been a little hectic in the Gray household since the birth of the twins. Athena didn’t forget about her promise to Caleb though. The day had finally arrived for the sleepover. Caleb had excitedly chatted to everyone in his class about his party and had practically invited EVERYONE. He stood in the kitchen with his mother and helped her bake cookies. They were sure the chocolate chips would win his classmates over.
The time ticked by slowly, until finally it was 7 o’clock. Caleb had waited anxiously by the door. Hours had passed and the bell still didn’t ring.
“Caleb, are you sure you told them the right address?” Levi asked, trying to rationalize the situation. It was already 10:00 pm and it was obvious that no one was going to show at this time. Levi was heartbroken as he sat with his son. Caleb refused to look at his father and mumbled that maybe his friends thought he meant the next weekend.
“How about we go in and play some video games? If the doorbell rings, mom will call us,” Levi suggested.
“I’m actually feeling tired, so I’m heading to bed. Goodnight dad.”
“Caleb…wait!” Levi called after him but he knew it was of no use. Caleb was angry, hurt and confused. Levi had felt equally bad if not worse. He had wanted nothing but the best for Caleb.
This looks like a job for Elliot. As soon as Elliot heard the news, he had asked his boss if he could leave early because he was working late that day. There was a little bit of an argument but finally Elliot got his way and did not have to stay at the police station overnight.
“What’s up little man?” Elliot grinned.
“Nothing.” Caleb mumbled.
“Is it cool if Noah and I chill here with you?”
“No. Why don’t you disappear like everyone else?” Caleb shot back.
“Are you sure you told them the right address?” Elliot asked.
“Nice try. Dad already asked that. They would have called or something to let me know they weren’t coming. Our number was on the invite.”
“Maybe something came up.”
“Give it a rest Uncle Elliot! Nobody is coming! They don’t like me! I’m just some loser that they make fun of!” Caleb cried out.
Elliot was taken aback. He had recalled times in which he was bullied in school. They had ripped him to shreds because of his pink hair. They called him things like “fairy princess” and “piglett.” In high school, they called him even worse. He had a tough time growing up, for something that he was born with. He didn’t understand why people would make fun of someone as great as Caleb.
“Caleb. I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you say anything? Are people picking on you?“
Caleb wiped a tear from his eye and began to speak. “They make fun of me because I like to sing. They said that I’m a quiet little nerd and nobody will ever like me and that the songs I sing are stupid.”
Elliot had knew that Caleb liked to sing. Honestly, he was really good at it. Elliot had found out that Caleb could sing when he was singing to Puzzle. Caleb admitted that he saw himself as being a famous singer one day. Elliot brought it to Levi and Athena’s attention and they were happy about it. They were just waiting for Caleb to come out of his shell and tell them himself. They would love him no matter what he chose to do with his life.
“People used to pick on me in school too.” Elliot admitted.
“What? Why? You’re so cool!”
“I wasn’t always this cool. People thought I was weird for having pink hair. Can you believe it?”
“Thats a stupid reason!” Caleb exclaimed, now running his fingers through his own pink hair. “How did you make them stop?”
“You ignore them. They’re jealous at how talented you are. They want to have a voice like yours so they’re going to knock you down so you don’t outshine them. You can’t let them stop you from doing what you love. Stand up for yourself. Tell those bullies that you don’t care what they think because you little man, are the coolest.”
“Do you really think so Uncle Elliot?” Caleb looked up hopefully.
“I know so. Hey. I’ve got an idea. Follow me.” Elliot grinned.
The two camped outside and had their own sleepover party. Caleb and Elliot told each other jokes, played cards, made shadow puppets and did whatever else they could think of before they got too exhausted and had to go to sleep. Caleb was grateful to have a person he could relate to in his life and Athena was as well.
“That looked nothing like a dog!” Caleb laughed.
“Hey, it was a sheep dog! How can you tell with shadows anyway!?” Elliot grinned.
“You guys had fun last night.” Athena came into the room.
“Yeah, Uncle Elliot is the greatest! I had much more fun last night than I would have ever had with any of those other kids.”
“Good, I’m glad. Breakfast is ready. Why don’t you go and get some?” Athena said.
Once Caleb was gone Athena turned to Elliot. He explained everything to Athena. She felt extremely guilty. He was suffering right in front of her and she hadn’t noticed. He wouldn’t even tell her himself that he wanted to be a singer. When he talked to her about Puzzle, it was because he was feeling lonely at both home and school. She felt terrible.
“Don’t beat yourself up about it. Caleb understands that you’re busy with the other kids. He didn’t tell you about the bullying, not because he doesn’t trust you, but because he was afraid. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to try to dig himself out.” Elliot said, as if reading her mind.
“Dad… he said you were bullied growing up right? I…I’m really sorry about all of that…and I owe you more than you know for helping Caleb.” Athena said.
“Being my sister, taking me back to your home, letting me into your life, marrying my best friend. All of that is enough.” He smiled. “Besides, Caleb is a great kid and I want nothing more than to see him and the rest of the Gray family succeed.”
A few weeks later, it was Noah’s birthday and a few weeks later it would be Caleb’s.
Noah wore his shaggy hair proudly. He was a child genius, wanting nothing more to stay all day at grandpa’s chemistry table. [Athena had just given it to Bruce because Caleb showed no interest in it]
It had also been Spooky Day. Elliot being the cool Uncle that he is, decided to take the boys Trick or Treating. Caleb was a Roman Soldier and Noah was GeoMan, the superhero who loved to hug trees!
“Nice costume Uncle Elliot!” Noah smiled. “Your badge looks so real!“
“It’s not a costume Noah.” Caleb corrected him. “Uncle Elliot is actually a police officer.”
“Really?” Noah asked, surprised. “Do you carry a gun?”
“At all times. So don’t worry guys. You’re safe with me.”
“Yeah Yeah. Lets go get some candy now!” Caleb ran up the block with Noah following his older brother close behind.
“Trick or Treat!” Caleb exclaimed.
“Caleb? You’ve gotten so big! And is that Noah? Oh my gosh!” Erin smiled and pinched Caleb’s cheeks. She hadn’t been coming around the house lately, so the children didn’t recognize her. She recognized them because of all of the pictures Athena showed off when they hung out.
“Are you a gladiator? How cool!” Erin cheered.
“You live here?” Elliot asked. He and Noah had finally stopped and realized that Caleb was having a full out conversation with the person who answered the door.
“Yeah, Elliot right? How is Athena and everyone?”
“She’s great. Levi is great, the babies are great and as you can see these guys are definitely good.”
“And you and your father are good too?” She asked.
“Yeah, we’ve been doing great.” Caleb and Noah had been pulling on Elliot’s shirt impatiently. They wanted to hit more houses before their bed time. “Eheh..I have to go now. These guys want some more candy. It was nice talking to you. Maybe I’ll see you around?”
“Yes! You know where to find me! Maybe one day we can meet up and hang out.” She smiled. “Oh…uhmm with Athena too of course!” She added quickly.
“Have a good night ma’am. Stay safe.” Elliot imitated the brave police officer he made himself out to be.
Finally it was Caleb’s turn to age up. He wasn’t so thrilled about all of the attention. He was finally that age. He would be starting high school in a few days and Athena had hoped that the teenage crowd would be more merciful and understanding towards her son. With his golden personality, she was sure he would make some great friends in no time.
A lot happening in this chapter. Finally Caleb is a teenager! I’m actually really happy with the way he turned out. I didn’t edit any of his facial features and that was his preset hair when aging up! Yay for beautiful genetics 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting!