“It’s looking good,” Apollo commented.
“Stop checking out my butt,” Ethan grinned.
“Wha–” Apollo blushed. “You wish. I was talking about the machine.”
“Mhm. I know I got a booty, and a pretty nice one at that.” A playful smirk fell over Ethan’s face. He had given up letting the anticipation of goodbye destroy him. It’d be better to enjoy the time he had left with the human boy than to spend it sulking.
“Yeah right,” Apollo laughed. “I wouldn’t know, because I’m not looking. I’m a married man.”
“You guys flirt really badly,” Tommy commented. “I’d say get a room, but looks like this is the only one we have.”
“You don’t need to worry anymore. Look, the machine is almost done. I say give me a few more hours and we’ll have a working time machine.”
“A time machine…so you can go back in time before all of this ever happened?” Tommy asked.
“Essentially, yes.” Ethan nodded.
“I don’t think we should be messing with time. I know first hand what it’s like to be screwed over by father time. I can’t remember the last four years and it really sucks,” Apollo said.
“I still don’t believe you, but I’m not going to do anything about it,” Tommy said lazily. “I’m done trying to help guys out.”
“Jumping in front of Damian’s attack was enough. I don’t want to go back in time because, whether I really love your sister or not, she’s still the mother of my children and those children are very real. I’d be taking life away from them and that isn’t fair. They’re my creation and I’m going to raise them,” Apollo said.
“You should take lessons from him.” Ethan turned back to his work on the invention table. “At least Apollo cares about other people.”
“You know-” Tommy began.
“Just stop,” Apollo said. “It isn’t worth it. Just stop fighting.”
“Hurry up.” Ethan ushered Apollo towards the time machine.
“Wait a minute, hold on,” Apollo protested.
“I understand that you don’t want to mess with time, but you’ll only being brought a few days into the past back into Sunlit Tides. It’s safer than staying here and waiting for Damian to strike,” Ethan said.
“It’s not that,” Apollo began.
“Apollo, really? Come on. Don’t you want to go home?” Tommy asked impatiently.
“Please you guys, just let me talk!” Apollo snapped. “When you said the machine would be done in a few hours, I didn’t think you meant this soon. I…I’m not ready to leave.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re ready or not. It isn’t safe to stay any longer.” Ethan crossed his arms over his chest. “Just go.”
“Are you coming with us?” Apollo asked the one question that had been on his mind all day. He hadn’t known if Ethan would be willing to give everything, as little as it was, up.
Ethan’s face bore no visible emotions. He was stone faced. “Of course not. I need to stay here and make sure Damian doesn’t find you. It’s very likely that once you go through that machine and time is rippled, Damian will take notice. I can try my best to hide it, but if I don’t stay here, he’ll know where you are and go after you.”
“Did you know this all along?” Apollo demanded.
Ethan nodded sadly, finally the disappointment and regret showing over his face. “You shouldn’t have followed me that day. This wasn’t supposed to happen. You know that your wife and children are the most important things in your life right now. I’m just another page in the book. You’ll get over me.” Due to the small living space, everyone had caught on pretty quick with Apollo’s secret.
“Don’t tell me whether or not I’ll get over you!” Apollo nearly shouted. “I am sick and tired of getting attached to people and having them ripped out of my life. I don’t want people to keep returning, years later. I want someone who will stay!”
“And you have her, she’s the mother of your children!” Ethan shouted back, tears brimming his eyes. “Just go with everyone else.” He turned to wipe his eye, but he couldn’t hide the sadness in his voice.
“It isn’t fair,” Apollo argued.
“I’ll stay,” Frost offered. “I’ll be the one to divert Damian’s attention.”
“Did you forget that you don’t have any powers?” Tommy asked.
“I can bribe him or something. I don’t know. I owe Apollo, i want to do something for him,” Frost said.
“You can do something for him. Give him closure,” Ethan told her. “He needs to know about those four years he lost out on.”
Frost looked at Apollo. “Guess I’ve been holding onto this information too long anyway.” She took a deep breath. “Mason didn’t speed up time four years.”
“Yes he did, that’s why I can’t remember anything,” Apollo said.
“No.” Frost shook her head. “You can’t remember anything because of a therapist that your father took you to. You were acting strange when you came back from university, and we took advantage of that. This wasn’t just any therapist, she was able to wipe your memory clean.That’s why you can’t remember anything. All thoughts connected to Tommy were destroyed. Of course, Mason wouldn’t let us have that, he had to undo it somehow, and that’s why you still remember Tommy.”
“Why the hell…why the hell would you do that!?” Apollo demanded.
“There is no legacy without future generations. If you got together with Tommy, there’d be no future for the Gray family and our plan would be a bust. I couldn’t just turn to your brother because you were already chosen.”
“Damnit…” Apollo wanted to yell, shout, punch and kick but a calm voice broke him from his violent trance.
“I also have a confession,” Ella said quietly.
“I don’t want to hear anymore!” Apollo held his pounding head. “This is insane. I thought everything was finally making sense!”
“You need to hear this from me, Apollo,” Ella said. “You too, Ethan. I owe you an explanation.”
“Huh? What is it?” Ethan asked. He looked innocently at the woman in front of him. What could she possibly have to confess about? In his eyes, she was the perfect mother figure.
“My name isn’t really Ella.” Everyone stared at her, blank expressions on their face.
Ethan stiffened at the confession, but tried to wear a brave face. “What are you talking about?”
“My real name is Cora Lyons.” She turned to Apollo, hoping for some reaction, but there wasn’t anything but confusion written on his face. “You might know me as Cora Relevart.”
“Relevart…like Emit Relevart? You’ve got to be kidding me!” Frost exclaimed. “His only traceable lineage is the Gray Family.”
“I know,” Cora nodded. “I’m Apollo’s grandmother.”
Tommy began to laugh. “This is ridiculous. Why are we sitting around here listening to this nonsense? We should be home right now.”
“You’re my mother’s age, you can’t be my grandmother. It doesn’t make any sense.” Apollo ignored Tommy and laid his eyes on Cora.
“I left Lucky Palms when I gave birth to your mother, Leia and your Aunt, Lorie. Emit had to leave me, and he couldn’t tell me why. For years I thought he had abandoned me and so I went out in search of a way to find him. That’s when I found out that the Guardians were behind everything. It was because of them that my life was ruined and I wanted revenge. I came across an old wizard who steered me in the direction of a world class magician. He also gave me a youth potion that’s kept me this age for a while. I was shocked to find that Ethan was so accepting and gullible. I made up something about a prophecy so I could get him to help me find the guardians. But I never knew that I’d cross paths with my grandson. I was sure I had grandchildren but I just…I never thought I’d hear from them. I’m sorry.”
“There wasn’t a prophecy, but I’d still like to go with you to see my children,” Cora said.
Apollo ignored her request and walked towards the time portal. “Turn on the machine now, Ethan,” Apollo said angrily.
Ethan ignored Apollo and held his hand over his heart. “How the hell did you do it all? The magic, healing…how? Was Damian ever after you at all!?”
Cora let out a sigh. “When I left Lucky Palms, I wandered around a while. I looked tirelessly for information about time travel. One day I found something about a vault of antiquity, that had the answers to a lot of things we humans wouldn’t have access to. I knew it had to be real, because Emit was a time traveler, so why would this be a lie? I just happened to come across the right person, Lucas, who promised me access to the vault if I kept an eye on you. He gave me an identity. I was Ella this infamous sorceress. Every time you were close to finding me out, he’d give me more and more potions. I don’t know what you did to warrant Lucas’ intense interest, but I just did what I had to do.”
Ethan opened his mouth to talk but Apollo held his hand up. “Don’t waste your breath on her.”
“We’re family, Apollo.”
“We’re nothing. If you told me you did all of this in order to reconnect with your family, I’d understand. But you didn’t. You left your children alone to find some guy and then when you couldn’t find him you went and looked for revenge. Do you understand how bad living in an orphanage was for my mother? Do you think I wanted to hear her cry at three in the morning because our dad was gone and she wanted us to grow up with parents? Do you think that she’d forgive you? She hates your damn guts. You intentionally hurt my mother, aunt and Ethan. I’ll be damned if I stand here and listen to you any longer. I won’t have you ruining the family my mom worked so hard to build.”
“Ethan please tell him…” Cora begged.
“Tell him what?” Ethan demanded. “He’s right, and this is his life. I can handle being deceived and I can handle being watched by the top wizard, but having you try to insult Apollo’s intelligence with your crap story is ridiculous. The three of them are going back and you’re leaving my hideout. I don’t care what you have to say. The threat of Damian to you might not exist but to Apollo, it’s very real and I’m not letting him get hurt. ”
“I’m staying too,” Frost said.
“I’m not angry at you,” Apollo whispered.
“I don’t care if you are. You have every right to be. I’ve seen first hand what it’s like for you. We’ve allowed you to become target number one because of our attachment to your family and even more than that, we’ve destroyed it. I don’t have any powers so I can’t go back to the guardians even if I wanted to. What good am I to them anyway? I’m turning myself in. I’m going to leave Moonlight Falls and move somewhere, I don’t know where, but somewhere where I can’t get into any trouble. I am so sorry for how royally we’ve destroyed your family. I can’t stop them, but I can tell you this…their intentions are good and I honestly believe that, but their methods are unconventional. Who you choose to believe is entirely up to you and it’s your life. I wish you nothing but the best in everything that you do.” Frost let the tears fall from her eyes.
“Thank you, that means a lot.” Apollo nodded. A light flashed behind him and the door to the portal opened.
“Apollo, please reconsider,” Cora begged.
“My mother doesn’t need you. I’m finally beginning to understand how Ambrose feels about our dad. She’s been rejected so many damn times in that stupid orphanage and you know what? I’m glad she didn’t have you to raise her because look how you turned out.”
“Oh snap,” Tommy muttered.
“I’m not usually this rude but I don’t see how you’ve done anything even remotely useful right now.” Apollo turned to Ethan and held his arms open for a goodbye hug.
“Apollo…I can’t…I just…it hurts,” He mumbled.
“Fine,” Apollo sighed. “I don’t want to fight this anymore. I need to go home.”
“Goodbye,” Ethan said.
“Not goodbye. That means forever.” Apollo took a step into the machine, only assuming Tommy was close behind him. They had went through separate doors once fully in the time vortex. Him to his home in Sunlit Tides and Tommy to his father in Twinbrook.
Apollo stood outside of his home as the rain pelted his face. The rain. He hated it even more now. Each cool droplet against his skin brought back a memory he had made with Ethan. They say that you have to give things up in order to really gain happiness. Apollo didn’t see it. He wasn’t feeling happiness at the familiarity of the house in front of him. He could only feel the pain that the rain drops caused him. Everything, it seemed so…final. Frost was gone for good, Ethan and Tommy were both gone and Ella…well she never existed. He turned to the door to knock. Cora was but a distant memory, one he’d never bring up to his mother. She was better off not knowing. He was reassured by her smiling face as she excitedly opened the door.
It couldn’t have been lonelier in Moonlight Falls that night. Frost had honored what she said and left. Ethan had sealed himself away from Cora’s cries. She couldn’t get into his refuge, he was positively alone. He hadn’t wanted to let his thoughts drift to her, but it had happened. How could someone so nurturing, spit in his face like that? Hearing Apollo talk so strongly about his mother tore Ethan’s heart to pieces. Just mere hours ago he would have went as far as that for “Ella”. She never wanted to help him and her nurturing abilities were all a scam. He didn’t need. Ethan stared down at the tin dog he had meant to give Apollo before he left.
“Stupid dog,” Ethan muttered before chucking it across the room. “Why the hell did it have to be like this? Why couldn’t it have been normal?” Ethan leaned against the wall and let the tears fall from his eyes uncontrollably. His caretaker was gone, his friends were gone, his security was gone and Apollo was gone. All he had left was loneliness and vulnerability, the worst combination.