2.31 Once A Year

“Mama!” Ambrose called out to his mother, who was digging through the kitchen cabinets frantically.

Not now sweetie, mommy is trying to find some icing!” Leia called back. She was taking everything out of her cabinets.

“You know that I can go and pick you up some more frosting, it’s no big deal,” Caleb said.

“No!” Leia shook her head. “It’s icing. I’m looking for icing. Not just icing that you can buy anywhere. Daisy made this specially for Apollo’s birthday cake. It’s blue raspberry, his favorite!”

“Ok, relax. We’ll look for it together.”

No no. Who will watch Ambrose? He’s a feisty one.”

“He’s not that little anymore, he’ll be a good boy, right Ambrose?” Caleb looked at the little boy he held in his arms. He was growing rapidly and she wanted it to stop. She’d like everything to stop except for Noah’s time. She hoped his would speed up and her’s would stop. In a few years, Apollo would be a teenager, starting high school and she wasn’t getting any younger either.

“Right! He nodded.

Put him down Caleb, stop babying him,” She pushed her hair from her face and let out a long breath. “Where is that icing!?”

“Alright, alright. Sorry buddy, mommy’s rules are final.” He placed Ambrose on the floor. “I’m going to call Daisy and see if she has any extra, or if she could make any more.”

“Thank you. That would be amazing. Ambrose, why don’t you go and play with Apollo?”

“No thanks mommy.”

Why not? You don’t like Katherine?”

He shook his head. “Pollo don’t talk to me.” It was true ,when Katherine had been over, which was often, Apollo was a different person. He wouldn’t pay any attention to his little brother. Leia personally loved Katherine. She reminded her of herself when she was younger. Katherine was like “one of the boys” to Apollo. She watched the same shows as him, played the same video games and listened to the same music. Leia admired the carefree attitude that Katherine had.

“Ahh, young and in love.” Caleb grinned.

“What are you waiting for? This is an emergency, go call Daisy!”

“R-right!” Caleb stuttered and headed to the living room.

-A Few Years Later-

Leia shook her head frantically. This was Apollo’s fourteenth birthday. He was starting high school this year.Her little baby was growing up. Had the time really flown by that quickly? He probably didn’t care that much about special blue raspberry icing, but she felt like she owed him. It was something she and Daisy did for him every year on his birthday and she wanted to keep that constant. She had been on edge recently. Noah would be released from jail in just a few months. She knew there’d be some tension in the house. She had sat Apollo down and told him about his father and he seemed to be understanding of the situation. He didn’t think less of his father, at least he didn’t make it known. Still, despite all of that, it made her nervous. He hadn’t seen his father since he was five years old and Ambrose never even met Noah. She had no idea how anyone was going to react. She looked around the kitchen. She had been so out of it lately, everything was a mess. She hadn’t had time to clean up old dishes or fix the sink which had been leaking.

In the other room, Apollo had been talking quietly on the phone.

“Are you sure you can’t come?” He asked.

“I’m so sorry Apollo,” Katherine said sadly. “I really want to be there for you but my parents already booked a hotel for this weekend.”

“My mother won’t change the plans either. I have my family meeting us at the skating rink for my party.”

“Don’t worry about it. We can hang out when I get back from vacation. You should be excited, we’re going to high school this year!” She gushed.

“You better bring me back a souvenir then…” Apollo sighed.

Of course I’m going to. That’s the first thing I told my parents. Plus, your birthday gift.” Apollo could hear her parents in the background and Katherine began to speak again. “I have to go pack the car up, I’ll talk to you soon!”

“Goodbye, have fun!” Apollo said before hanging up. He was feeling a bit down after the conversation. He was excited to see his whole family together for his birthday. He was even more excited to be going to the roller skating rink. Apollo had a lot of friends coming to the party, but he had wanted his best friend to be there more than anyone else. The others were great to hang around with but Katherine understood him better.

It was finally the day of the party and despite Katherine’s absence, everyone was having a blast. Lorie came and  absolutely spoiled Apollo. She got him a game controller and two video games. Leia protested that it was too much but Lorie insisted that becoming a teenager was a huge deal.

She didn’t hesitate to add in, “Video games did you some good, so I’m sure these won’t be different for Apollo.”

“The controller wasn’t necessary then. One game would have been enough.”

“What’s the big deal? When I called him and asked what he wanted, the controller was on top of the list. Be happy he isn’t cooped up in his room all day playing games by himself. If he wants the controller, then he’s trying to play with someone.”

“Yeah, his friend Katherine. She’s always over the house and the two take turns. I hear it from Ambrose all the time complaining. He’s so jealous of his brother sometimes.”

“He’ll grow out of it.” Lorie was interrupted by Apollo himself asking her if she wanted to skate with him.

“Do it, before he grows out of wanting to hang out with his family,” Leia joked.
Later on, Leia decided to skate herself. She fell down a few times, but after a while she got the hang of it. Apollo’s friends were laughing at her until Caleb swooped in and decided to skate with her. Even though Caleb had stopped making music and appearances and his fame died down, he was still watched by many. He had what some would call star quality.
Athena had also brought a lot of gifts to Apollo. There were at least three boxes in her hands.

“What’s all this?” Leia sweatdropped.

“Don’t question it, mom.” Apollo grinned.

“Well, grandma here is getting old. I can’t really skate like I used to, so I thought I’d make it up to you by getting you something you really wanted. The problem is your aunts Lorie and Daisy beat me to it, and I couldn’t decide what to get you so I just bought you everything I thought you’d like at the store.”

“Please, that really wasn’t necessary…” Leia tried to tell her but Apollo’s eyes were glowing.

“Thanks grandma, you’re the best!” He flung himself at her and hugged her tightly.

Finally it  was time for Apollo to blow out the candles. He was officially a teenager and in a few short months he would be starting high school. Leia couldn’t help but admire her son’s good looks. His haircut reminded her of Noah’s messy hair, even though his hair color was starkly different than hers or Noah’s. She thought he resembled Noah, but Caleb insisted that he looked just like his mother, She didn’t care either way, her little boy was all grown up.

“Was this birthday everything that you wanted?” Leia asked him after everyone had left.

“Mhmm.” Apollo gave her the standard response he always did.

“You got a lot of gifts, I’m kind of jealous. I wish I got spoiled like this on my birthday,” Caleb joked.

“Thanks Uncle Caleb, thank you mom. This party was great, I had a lot of fun.”

“You’re welcome, we both love you so much.” Leia answered and Caleb nodded in agreement. “But, your gift doesn’t end here, we had something else planned but unfortunately it wasn’t delivered in time for your party.”

“You didn’t have to get me anything else. All of this was plenty. I’m so happy with everything that happened today.”

Leia shook her head, “Trust me, I’m pretty sure you want this gift. It’ll be here just in time for Ambrose’s birthday.” The boys were born only a few weeks apart, funny enough. “You guys have to share it, alright?” 

“Ambrose and I have to share?” Apollo groaned. “Fine.”

Leia thought back to the conversation she had with Noah just a few weeks ago. After almost ten years of visiting weekly, the guards trusted her and Caleb enough to talk to him face to face. No touching was allowed but not seeing him behind bars was enough to get Leia through each visit.

“You look beautiful…” Noah commented, mostly to himself. He had wanted to lean over and touch her face, to hold her cheeks in his hands. He could tell that she had aged quite a bit in the ten years he was gone. She hadn’t looked old, not in the slightest. But he could see the wear in her face. He had missed ten birthdays. No longer did the young girl sit in front of him. Now, it was a woman. “You look beautiful…” He repeated again as if he couldn’t believe that she was really in front of him and not behind a glass.

“You look incredible yourself.” Leia could barely contain herself. She sat in front of the love of her life. It had been almost ten years and physically, who she saw in front of her had changed. He had gone in a young man and left an adult. She could see the slight wrinkles near his cheek. They were so light, you’d have to really lean in to see them. She felt a pit grow in her stomach. Had that much time really passed between them? She had visited him weekly, but only now did she see what time could really do to a person. Despite his aging, she had wanted to jump across the table and grab his face and plant her lips firmly on his. She had missed his touch, the way his lips felt on hers and how his skin felt against hers.

Caleb…you look good too.” Noah cracked a small grin. “You know, for an old guy.”

“Shut up!” Caleb scowled. “I’m not that old.”

“You kind of are,” Leia joined in.

He gave a dirty look but ended up smiling a few seconds later. “Where has the time gone?”

“Not fast enough, if you ask me.” Leia rubbed her eyes.

“I had a lot of time to think here in prison. I’ve missed you so much Caleb. As for you Leia, and our boys, I have entire books written under my bunk about how I feel about you guys.”

“Five more minutes,” The guard called out.

“Seriously?” Leia asked in annoyance. “We just got here!”

“Don’t worry about it Leia, you’ll see me in a few weeks,” Noah reassured her.

“I’ll see you next week,” She corrected him.

“No,” He couldn’t keep the smile from his face. “That isn’t what I meant. They’re letting me out a few months early for good behavior. I’ll be out by the end of the month. They just have to get some paperwork done.”

“Oh my gosh, Noah…are you serious!?” She jumped from her seat but Caleb held her arm and gave her a look. “Right..no touching. I guess I could wait a few more weeks to hug you. I’ve waited this long.”

“I’ll be out right after Apollo’s birthday. But, Leia…I just want to ask you to do one thing for me, alright?”

“Anything for you Noah,” She said quickly.

“I don’t want you to come pick me up. I want my mother and father to come and bring me back to stay with them for a few weeks. I don’t want to burst right into the house and disrupt everything. The boys will need some time to adjust and until I can think of a way to do that, I want to stay with my mother.”

“Noah…” She began but was silenced by the guard at the door.

“Visiting hours are over. You can come back again next week.”

The ride home was quite despite the good news. Leia didn’t know how to react to Noah’s request. She had wanted to be with him as soon as possible, but in the end, Noah was right. He couldn’t just barge into the boy’s lives. It was Leia’s wishful thinking that he’d be able to adjust in time for Ambrose’s birthday.

5 thoughts on “2.31 Once A Year

  1. I found this chapter to be really sad. The boys growing up and the time passing without Noah having any really impact on his children's lives. I can't believe you made him stay in prison for almost all of the 10 years! Noah is right it's going to take a big adjustment in everyone's lives when he comes home.


  2. Having Noah go to jail was never my intention when creating the arson case and of all the Gray kids, Noah is the most honest and stable so it doesn't really fit his character to actually do a crime, but when the idea came to me i had to take advantage of it. It fits the story perfectly because it creates two distinct stories for each of the boys and unlike the last gen, it'll be fair game for the spouse poll.


  3. I agree with dandylion, you’re evil. 😉 I understand though. Things happen in our brains while we write and suddenly our fingers just do the typing. I agree that it will definitely give the kids some backgrounds to deal with. Oh, but I still feel very sad for them all. 😦


    • Unfortunately it was a tough call. Besides creating stories for the boys, later on in the story it strengthens the guardian’s presence. I always tell people who want to write happy things all the time, that readers want to read misfortune and terrible things, its much more interesting to read than happy things all the time as well ^_^


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