“Dad!” Apollo ran into the living room. “I need your help!”
“What’s up?” Noah asked.
“I just got an email from Sims University, they want me to send them another essay to be considered for the honors program. Can you believe it!? That means I was accepted!” Apollo said gleefully. It was nearing the end of summer, and he had received such a late response because of his late application. He was shocked that they were even considering him for the honors program. He had to make sure his essay was perfect to really wow them.
“Thats awesome news!” Noah hugged him. “I’m so proud of you!”
“Thanks! Now, I just need your help! You were accepted into Sims University with a full scholarship, so can you check out my essay and let me know what you think?”
“Of coursed I can.” Noah sat down on the floor and motioned for Apollo to join him. Apollo sat in uncomfortable silence until Noah spoke up again. “This is really good! I can really tell who you are through this essay. Its not as boring and objective as others. I think you’ll win them over.”
“Really?” Apollo’s eyes lit up.
Noah nodded. “I think you should consider writing other things too, like books and articles.”
“I have actually,” Apollo said sheepishly. “I already have a sci fi book written. It’s not that great…”
“Don’t say that! If it’s good and complete we can send it off to a publisher right away!”
Apollo smiled, enjoying the praise from his father. He thought for a minute. He planned on going into Sims University to study for a degree in business. He hoped to be a CEO of a mega corporation, that way he could make a comfortable living for him and his future family. Could he really be a writer? It was something he just discovered he loved, but was he good enough to make a career out of it?
Good news turned into bad news pretty quickly. Athena Gray had passed away from old age. No one saw it coming. She had passed away in her apartment early last week. Levi had awoken to the inevitable, but it still hurt. Leia offered to have the funeral reception at their house. She had believed it would be easiest for Noah to cope that way. She took charge for the time being, holding Noah tightly in her arms.
“Shh…It’s ok, everything will be alright,” Leia cooed into his ear.
Apollo watched helplessly at Noah’s broken figure. The man he had thought was indestructible fell weakly to his knees in front of him. Apollo was beyond upset. He had loved his grandmother immensely, but even more than that, he loved his father. Watching Noah break down so openly scared him. He was supposed to be the strong one holding the family together. He knew that Noah was human after all, and Apollo himself would be destroyed if his own mother died. He wanted to help, to say something to make everything ok, but he couldn’t. At the end of the day, someone was gone forever. It made him want to work harder to continue the legacy, in her memory.
Noah held his father’s arms firmly. “Dad…” He began.
“Son, are you alright?” Levi asked softly.
Noah began to tremble. “No, I’m not alright…mom…she’s gone…we’ll never see her again…”
Levi placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. “She’s gone, but not forgotten. She’ll live in all of our memories, forever.”
Noah wiped his eyes but more tears flowed. He wasn’t shocked that his dad held back his tears. It wasn’t that he wasn’t upset, his sense of loss was much deeper than anyone else’s. It was that Levi had known that it wouldn’t be long until he would see her again. He wasn’t getting any younger, his time was soon. “I’m going to miss her so much!“
“Me too, son. We all will. What we can do now is honor her memory by keeping the Gray legacy going.” Levi thought back to the moment when he first laid eyes on her. They were the founding couple of the Gray family. Sierra and Bruce fought hard for Athena to be able to start her own legacy and he was glad to be a part of it. Not once did he regret giving up his immortality to be with her. Even as his bones got weaker, all he could think of was seeing her face again. He couldn’t wait until he joined her, but for now he’d be strong for his children and grandchildren.
Tasha and Ambrose seemed unphased by all of this. Both Leia and Daisy knew that their children wouldn’t dare show their feelings in front of all of these people. They would save the tears for when they were behind closed doors. For now, they tried to talk about other things.
“I heard Kiwi Hale is going to be in our homeroom this year. Can you believe it? He’s such a dweeb,” Tasha snickered.
Ambrose frowned. Maybe it was all the despair around him, but suddenly he wasn’t feeling like Kiwi was all that uncool. “Are we talking about the same Kiwi? That guy is crazy cool. I was just over his house a few days ago. We did all sorts of cool stuff.”
“Like what? That boy is a stick in the mud.” Ambrose didn’t know why he was defending Kiwi. Tasha was right. Kiwi wasn’t as daring as Ambrose and his cousin, but every Batman needed a Robin right? Maybe a mellow sidekick like Kiwi would make taking over high school just a bit more fun.
“Let’s just say, you’re in for a big surprise once high school starts.” Ambrose told her. He had hoped for Kiwi’s sake he could get him on board for his ultimate high school experience plan.
“Why are you always here?” Apollo asked the girl standing in front of him. He wore a look of disgust on his face. “My mom told me that she didn’t invite you to Ambrose’s birthday party, so you’re going to have to come up with a better excuse.”
“I lied because I didn’t want you to get mad at me. I was there to see you, but you seemed like you wanted no part of me, so I tried to play it off like I was there to enjoy the festivities. I’m not here to make you feel bad. I’m here because I feel so bad about your grandmother. I want to be here for you,” Katherine admitted.
“I don’t really need you to be here,” He answered her rudely. “You should have been here for all of the other times, not just now. Don’t kick me while I’m down.”
“Why can’t you see where I’m coming from? I made a mistake Apollo. I shouldn’t have put you last in my life. You haven’t changed one bit, it reminded me why I fell in love with you in the first place.”
He began to get angrier and angrier. “Now you decide to come out and say all of this because high school is over! You should have said this four years ago. I don’t have time to be dealing with this right now, my grandmother is dead, so if you’d let me grieve…”
How could she show him what she was feeling? She missed hanging out with Apollo. She had secretly watched him as he passed her by in the hallway, looking down when he looked her way. She laughed along with her friends when they made fun of him, but she felt bad. She wasn’t sure what she wanted four years ago, and she wasn’t sure if this was what she wanted now either. There was one way to see if what she felt about Apollo was true. She placed her lips on his and unlike their first kiss, she felt him melting into it. The sensation was short lived as Apollo pulled away angrily.
“Get out of my house!” Apollo growled.
“Apollo…” Katherine whispered.
“Don’t you think I know you’re dating Tommy? I was friends with Tommy at one point. Don’t do that to him or to me. Have some decency for yourself.”
Katherine held her head. She was so caught up in the moment that she forgot about Tommy. Her head was swimming. She was dating Tommy, and she loved him…but then why couldn’t she stop thinking about Apollo? She covered her ashamed face and left the premises immediately.
Before long, it was time for Apollo to graduate. Noah let him use his car to drive the four of them to city hall to watch the ceremony. Apollo had been elected Valedictorian by the dean himself. He was honored to go up and speak on behalf of all of his classmates. He was even more excited to finally be done with it all. He had received a scholarship package in the mail. He was getting a full scholarship, including dorming at Sims University. They even offered him 18 credits in the business field, cutting his credits needed to about half. He hoped college would be everything he dreamed of.
After he had received his diploma and awards (he was surprised that his classmates voted him most popular. Apparently, everyone other than Katherine and Tommy’s friends loved him) he decided to change his look. What Katherine said kept ringing through his brain. “You haven’t changed one bit.” He didn’t want to be the only thing that stayed the same while everything around him was changing. Sims University would be getting a more mature Apollo Gray. He was now a young adult, ready to take on the world. He kneeled down by his dresser and began to pack his bags.
When it was finally time to leave, Apollo stopped Ambrose.
“You know I can’t leave without lecturing you right?” Apollo grinned.
“Of course not,” Ambrose laughed. “What’s up this time?”
“I’ve noticed recently that you’ve got a bit of a rebellious streak in you. Tone it down a bit will you? If you get any crazier mom is going to have a heart attack. Think about channeling your energy into your painting, and I can’t believe I’m saying this…street art. BUT! You know, make sure you have permission to deface people’s property first.”
Ambrose smiled in return. “You’re leaving me in this house with that guy for four years, how can I tone it down?”
“Come on Ambrose!” Apollo exclaimed. “How many times do I have to tell you…”
“Relax, I was joking. I’m passed making his life a living hell. I think we can coexist amicably. I won’t like it, but I won’t do anything stupid.”
“I guess, that’s a start.” Apollo shrugged, knowing he couldn’t change Ambrose’s mind. “I’ll be back in a few months to check up on you.”
“Before you go, I got you something. Give me a minute.” Ambrose went into the other room and came back with a large canvas in his hand. “I thought you’d like to put this painting in your dorm room or something.”
Apollo pulled Ambrose into a tight hug. “Thanks twerp.”
“I’m gonna miss you, idiot,” Ambrose said back.
The Gray family gathered outside their house to say their goodbyes to Apollo. Noah held his arm loosely over Leia’s shoulders as she spoke.
“I can’t believe you’re going to University…you’re not that little boy anymore who would always beg me to play video games. You were awarded valedictorian and most popular in school. My little boy, the smartest and most popular in school! I am beyond proud of you. Everyone there is going to be in for such a surprise!”
Ambrose rolled his eyes. His mother got so emotional all the time. He remembered what she told him on his fourteenth birthday. Apollo on the other hand looked ecstatic.
“Thank you mom, I love you so much.” He hugged her.
“What about me?” Noah asked.
“You didn’t give him a heartfelt speech,” Ambrose offered jokingly.
“Well, alright. Apollo, remember everything I told you when I chose you as heir. I’m so proud of you. You took a difficult situation when I returned and turned it into something incredible. Look at you now, with a full scholarship to Sims University. You’re going to have a blast.” Ambrose didn’t even bother sending Noah a dirty look. For once he wasn’t upset, he knew that Apollo was strong for accepting Noah so easily. Ambrose still had to face his demons and he wasn’t strong enough to give in right away. He admired Apollo for his strength and patience when dealing with him as well.
“Thank you dad,” He leaned over and hugged him as well. “I’ll be back before you guys know it.”
What kind of madness will ensue in Sims University? Thanks for reading!