“I’m inviting Ethan to the party today,” Apollo said. It had been almost a year since the two started dating. It didn’t seem like much, but considering how well they’d gotten to know each other in Moonlight Falls, it was completely justifiable to want him to meet his parents.
“Are you ready for that? Are you guys that serious? Everyone is going to be there: mom, dad, aunt Lorie, Aunt Daisy, Uncle Cyrus, Tasha, Uncle Caleb, Aunt Hope-”
“I get it.” Apollo held his hand up. “I’m positive. I’ve already told you that I’ve known Ethan for a while. Ambrose, I love him. He’s the one.”
“The one?” Ambrose asked. “If you’re that sure, then I’ll go with it. I don’t have any particular problems with him. He treats the kids right and Lynette likes him, so I’ll jump on board to .”
“Thank you.” Apollo stood up. “I’m taking Ken to the library before we meet up with everyone. Ethan is going to meet us there. You and Lynette bring Scarlett and Bailey, alright?”
Ambrose nodded. “Go and have fun. We’ll see you later.”
Ken flipped the pages enthusiastically. “All done?”
“Yes, did you like it?” Apollo asked.
Ken nodded, “Want more.”
“Hold on there buddy, I actually want to ask you something before we continue, ok? Do you remember Ethan?”
“Efan, red hair!” Apollo ruffled his pink hair.
“Yeah, him. I really like him.”
“Me too!” Ken smiled. Well, that was all Apollo really needed. He didn’t have to ask his question anymore, he just wanted to know that his children liked Ethan because they were the most important things in his life. He wouldn’t be able to continue his relationship with Ethan otherwise.
“One more book and then we have to go to the pool party, okay?”
Everyone was having a blast. Lynette was happy for the time off from both work and watching the children. The toddlers were so cute that the relatives were practically fighting over who was going to watch them. It was a much needed stress reliever for Lynette. Apollo had arrived just on time to meet up with Ethan who had walked in at the same time as him.
“You’re here,” Apollo breathed.
“Please don’t be nervous.” Ethan placed his hands on Apollo”s shoulders. “Because I’m nervous and I need you to be the rock today.”
“Don’t be nervous, they’ll love you.”
“If you really thought that, you wouldn’t be nervous!” Ethan argued.
“I’m nervous because only my dad, brother and Lynette know that I’m gay. My mother doesn’t even know. I’m sure dad told her but she didn’t hear it from my lips and everyone is here today so I’m freaking out!” Apollo breathed. “What if they disown me?”
“They won’t do that, will they?” Ethan began to panic as well. “Please don’t say that.”
“Look at us, a bunch of nervous wrecks,” Apollo shook his head. “This is ridiculous. I’m paranoid for no reason. Come on, I want to introduce you to my father.”
“Apollo.” Noah hugged his son. “How are you?”
“I’m great, actually. How have you been?” Apollo asked.
“As good as an old person can feel. I can’t believe how much you’ve grown, it’s really a sight to see.”
“Don’t get all sentimental on me dad, I have to hear it enough from mom,” Apollo chuckled. “This is my boyfriend Ethan.”
“Ethan? Moonlight Falls guy, correct?” Noah smiled.
Ethan’s eyes widened. “You told him and he believed you?”
“I’ve been in a bit of a similar situation to Apollo, so I can believe it. Each generation of the Gray family is going to have to go through it until someone stops it. It’ll take some time though.”
“So, your kids then?” Ethan frowned, turning to Apollo. “They’ll have to go through something horrible?”
“I hope not, but my grandfather warned me right before he died, and so far he hasn’t been wrong. His wife went through it, my dad went through it and now it happened to me. For some reason, a whole bunch of these factions are obsessed with my family, so all I can do is teach my kids how to protect themselves.”
Ethan nodded. “They’ll have to get through me too if they want to touch your children.” He placed his hands on his hips as if he was a super hero.
Noah chuckled. “You’re a character, I like it. I only have one thing to warn you about, Ethan. I’ve been to prison and I’m not afraid to go back if you break my son’s heart.”
“Dad!” Apollo couldn’t help but laugh. “You’ve waited forever to use that line haven’t you?”
“It’s not just a line, it’s the damn truth. Sleep with your eyes open Ethan, unless you don’t plan on doing anything to hurt my son, and in that case. Welcome to the family.”
“Noah!” Cyrus called. “Come over here!”
“That guy, sometimes he annoys me. Anyway, it was nice meeting you, Ethan. Remember what I said.” Noah shook his hand before leaving.
Once Noah was gone, Ethan pulled Apollo into a tight hug. “I’ll love you forever, just tell your dad not to hit me.”
Apollo laughed. “What are you scared of? You can control magic.”
“Even if we broke up, I’d never zap your dad with magic.” Ethan looked at Apollo seriously. “That’d be so disrespectful. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
“Oh, my mother is going to love you.” Apollo stroked Ethan’s hand lovingly. “You’re so sweet.”
“You think so?” Ethan’s face lit up. “I hope she does!”
“I’m sure my dad is putting in a good word, he likes you.” Apollo leaned into Ethan’s arm.
“Really?” Ethan clutched Apollo’s arm. “How can you tell?”
“It’s simple, because I love you and that’s what my dad cares about.” Apollo kissed Ethan’s cheek, before dragging him towards his mother. “Let’s go!”
“Apollo, you brought a friend?” Leia asked.
“Not just a friend,” Apollo shook his head. “Ethan is my…” Apollo paused for a moment. It was harder than he expected to just come out and say it. he knew his mother wouldn’t mind, but it was just more complicated now that he had divorced Lynette. Ethan rubbed his back soothingly and gave him a reassuring smile. “He’s my boyfriend, mom.”
Well, actually, Daisy seemed a bit shocked but she didn’t care ultimately. You loved who you loved. “He’s so cute!” She gushed. “Where did you find such a handsome man?”
Ethan looked away with a blush. “Thanks.”
“This is my aunt Daisy, and my mother,” Apollo said.
Leia ruffled Apollo’s messy black hair. “I’m glad you’re happy.”
They talked for a bit and Leia was indeed thrilled with Ethan’s presence. He seemed nice enough and he made Apollo happy. That’s all she wanted for her son. As the two walked away, Daisy turned to Leia with a question. “You knew that he was gay, didn’t you?”
Leia had planned the party as a sort of reunion. She wanted to see how the toddlers had grown and she wanted to of course see her sons again. She was impressed with how well Apollo and Lynette had raised the triplets and even more she was a bit excited to see Apollo find someone he could care about and share his worries with.
“You just did that?” Ethan wiped the water off of his face. “You realize that this means war, right?”
“Am I not supposed to start a war with a witch?” Apollo taunted, splashing him again.
“Witch? Now that’s hurtful!” Ethan whined.
“You know I’m kidding don’t be so sensit-” Ethan had splashed Apollo.
“That’s not fair. I really thought you were angry,” Apollo argued.
“Shut up.” Ethan pulled Apollo’s wet body towards him. “You’re so lucky your family is here right now.” Apollo blushed.
“Ethan, come on out, everything is set up!” Lynette called to him.
“What’s set up?” Apollo asked curiously.
“Come on and see.” Ethan climbed out of the pool and extended a hand towards Apollo.. He effortlessly pulled the male out of the water.
“What is it?” Apollo asked. Lynette had gathered the family around the couple and all eyes were on the two.
“I just want to say that I love you more than anything in the world, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to show you.” Ethan held Apollo’s hands in his own.
“But you tell me that all he time,” Apollo said.
“I’m going to stop you right there.” Ethan held his hands up. “It’s much more than that. I can tell you all day long how much I love you, but what does that really prove? You of all people, need something much more affirming.”
“What the heck are you talking about?” Apollo was hopelessly confused. “I’ve never asked for anything more than you’ve given me.”
“That’s my point. You shouldn’t have to ask me. I’ve decided that you’re worth the extra trouble. There isn’t anybody I see myself with more than you. In fact, I’d give you the entire world and take away your pain if I could. Unfortunately, not even I have the power.”
Ethan got down on one knee and pulled a box out from behind him. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I want you to know how much you mean to me. I want to wake up next to you every morning. I want to be in your children’s life. I want to take care of you when you’re sick. There’s just so much that I want to experience with you. That’s why, I want you to be my husband. I want to marry you Apollo, what do you say?” Apollo could only nod in shock. He was ecstatic. He threw himself at Ethan and they shared a passionate kiss. Cheers erupted from behind them. “Hope I didn’t embarrass you. I just wanted to make sure your family liked me before I did anything.”
“We love you.” Leia came up from behind them and congratulated them. “My little boy is getting married!”
“Mom, please!” Apollo blushed. “I’m an adult, don’t fuss over me.”
“Don’t fuss? Oh no, you’re my baby, no matter what. I’ll always fuss over you.” She hugged him tightly. “After a speech like that, you better treat Ethan like a king.”
“Oh no, Mrs. Gray.” Ethan shook his head. “I’ll be the one spoiling him.”
“You boys are too cute.” She drew both of them into a hug once more. “From now on Ethan, if you need anything, you call me. You’re basically my son now.”
Ethan smiled. Her kindness warmed his heart. “Really? This feels incredible, to be part of a loving family like this.”
“Well, that’s how we Grays are,” Leia smiled.
“You were in on this?” Apollo asked Lynette.
“Well yeah, Ethan had the decency to ask my permission, which he really didn’t need to at all,” Lynette said.
“Of course I did. They’re your kids. I want to make sure that you don’t feel like I’m overstepping my boundaries or anything,” Ethan commented.
“How could you?” Apollo asked. “Ken already loves you. I heard it from his mouth this morning.It’s funny because I wanted to make sure the kids like you before we took our relationship to the next step. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
“Daddy,” Bailey stretched her arms from Ambrose’s grasp. “Happy?”
Apollo kissed her forehead. “I’m very happy.”
“Hey kiddo.” Ethan patted her head.
“Efan, happy?” Bailey asked.
“I’m very happy too.” Ethan grinned.
“I happy too!” Bailey giggled. Of course she didn’t understand what marriage was, but seeing her dad happy fed off positive energy. How could she not be exuberant?
“Congrats man.” Ambrose placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “I’m really happy for you. I hope that this can lighten up your life just a little bit more. Raising kids has been hard on you and you need to just relax.”
“Don’t worry, Ethan is here no so he has to help out with the kids. Step father’s duty,” She smirked.
“I’ll start right now,” Ethan said, picking up Ken. “Hey little man, I heard that you liked me, is that true?”
“Yah!” Ken giggled. “Like you!”
Holding Ken made Ethan think. He wanted a little one of his own. One with his genes and Apollo’s. He wondered what the child would look like. Of course, Apollo wouldn’t be too thrilled about adding another child to the load, and besides, right now it wasn’t possible for two men to actually have children together. He turned his attention back to the little one in his arms. For now, he’s be happy to just be a part of the triplets’ lives. Ethan began to tickle Ken who was laughing hysterically.
“Come on, it’s getting pretty late. It’s the children’s bed time. You can come over if you’d like,” Lynette said.
“You don’t mind?” Ethan asked.
“Stop being so polite, you’re Apollo’s fiance. That means you’re our family.”
Family. Ethan loved the sound of it, but he couldn’t help but think he was selfish wanting his own child with Apollo. Those children would always be linked with Lynette, Ethan stood no chance in that. He wanted to be more than just a step-father. Conflicted, Ethan got into his own car and was about to drive home when Apollo begged him to come to the house with him. He couldn’t really say no to his fiance.
“Your place is really small,” Ethan commented. His arm was tightly swung over Apollo’s shoulders.
“I know, but it’s all we can afford right now,” Apollo sighed “It just scares me. When the kids get bigger, where will they sleep? There’s physically no room in this house for any beds, and I hate the thought of the kids camping out in sleeping bags.”
“Why don’t you just move in with me, then?” Ethan suggested. “My house has three bedrooms. The kids could share a room with your brother, Lynette can have her own room and you can stay in mine of course.”
“First of all, how did you just come here and get a house that big?” Apollo wondered.
“There was a little old lady living in that house, and well, she died. She didn’t have much family, only a daughter, who was looking to get rid of the house. She’s single so she doesn’t really need that big of a house. Therefore, I did a little sweet talking to get her to lower the price for me,” Ethan admitted.
“You flirted with her?” Apollo rolled his eyes. “You’re a terrible person.”
“It’s just a bad habit that I picked up when I was living on the streets. But hey, she wasn’t going to do anything with the house anyway. It’s better if we use it.”
“Did the lady die in the house?” Apollo asked.
“No, no. In the hospital, so you can rest easy,” Ethan chuckled.
“Well, the kids are still little so I don’t see them adjusting too well to a new place. Plus, I’d have to discuss it with Lynette. But, I’m all for it. When the kids get a bit older, we’ll be right on your doorstep.” Apollo kissed the tip of Ethan’s nose before snuggling up to him. “Sorry that things have to be like this. I’m like a child getting permission from my ex-wife.”
Ethan stroked his hair. “I understand completely. Your kids come first. Always.”
“If it makes you feel better, you’re a close second with Ambrose,” Apollo joked.
“I have to share second? Might as well make me third,” Ethan complained.
“Night boys, I have work in the morning. Stay here as late as you want Ethan, but please don’t wake the children, I’ve finally got them to sleep,” Lynette said as she walked by.
“Thanks,” Ethan said softly. “Have a good night.”