“Thank you so much,” Lynette said as she watched Ethan repair the sink for the sixth time that month. Ethan had practically lived at the apartment with the Grays, crashing on the couch when he needed to. Ethan was a handyman. He was an inventor, so fixing a sink was child’s play. In fact, he had missed his inventor’s table dearly. There were things in Sunlit Tides that just weren’t acceptable like they were in Moonlight Falls. He couldn’t use his magic, and if he did, he’d have to have a brilliant cover up. It was difficult. He had purposefully curbed his magic use in order to adjust to life in the “human world.” He loved Apollo more than anything in the world, which is why he couldn’t let him in on how big of a sacrifice he had been making to be with him. He didn’t have an inventing table because money was tight. He was scrounging money just to afford rent on a bigger house for Apollo and the kids. He had wanted to be a part of the Gray family that badly. “You know, money has been a bit tight, so hiring a repairman was out of the question.”
“I don’t mind. I actually like doing things like this,” Ethan said. “It’s pretty boring at home anyway. I’m all by myself in that big house.”
“If I wasn’t working all the time, I’d watch the kids so Apollo could spend the night at your place. I’m sorry,” Lynette apologized.
“Don’t apologize, you’re just like Apollo. I knew what I was getting into when I asked Apollo out. I knew he had three kids, and I knew we wouldn’t be able to do whatever we wanted. I’m ok with all of this. If I’m completely honest with you, I would like some alone time with Apollo. In fact, there’s nights where I really wish he was with me, but at the end of the day, the most important thing for him is to be raising those kids. He has a legacy to pass down to them,” Ethan said.
“It’s not that big a deal-” Lynette began but was cut off by the cry of one of the toddlers, and then another. “CAn you please help me with them?”
“Thanks again,” Lynette told Ethan as they sat on the couch. The toddlers wanted some attention. Lynette rocked Scarlett in her arms while Ken stayed quietly in Ethan’s.
“It’s no problem.” Ethan pushed some of Ken’s hair out of his face. “How do you survive in such a tiny place?” Ethan thought back to his living arrangements in Moonlight Falls. It was him, Apollo, Frost Bite, Tommy, and Cora in two rooms. That was a tight squeeze, but there weren’t any children involved. He knew what it was like trying to find a comfortable place to sleep. As a child, it’s one of the most annoying things in the world. You don’t ever want to feel closed in. Children should be free to roam and play. Here, they’d have barely any room to breathe.
“I don’t know, honestly. It’s a struggle sometimes. I’m the only one working. Ambrose is working on his painting and Apollo is writing but it doesn’t pull in that much money, at least not yet. We have a long ways to go until we have enough for a new house, but we’re trying,” Lynette said.
“How would you, Apollo, Ambrose and the kids like to move in with me?” Ethan asked. “I already talked to Apollo and he thinks it’d be a good idea to take the kids in when they’re a little older.”
Lynette frowned. “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just…my boyfriend, Jordan. He asked me to move in with him and I told him I couldn’t because they kids didn’t really know him that well. I didn’t want them to be startled, you know? If I move in with you, then he’d probably be upset.”
Ethan thought for a minute. “I see how he could be upset but, it’s what’s best for the kids. Don’t you think they want their own room to sleep in? A place to play? I have three bedrooms in my house. It’s still a tight squeeze, but it’s better than it was before. You’d even get your own room to yourself.”
“I’m going to need to talk to Jordan and explain this to him. I think the kids do need a bigger place to stay and since you and Apollo are getting married, you’ll be their step dad, and a huge part of their life. So, I guess it’s ok, right?”
Ethan nodded. “I think so.”
“What are you looking at?” Ethan asked. He and Lynette had placed the children in their cribs. Afterwards, she left for work and Ethan sat by Apollo who seemed deep in thought.
“We’ve got a new newspaper girl. I’ve never noticed.” Apollo shrugged.
Ethan laughed. “That’s what you’re thinking about?”
“Yeah, that little suzie girl was nice. I was just wondering what happened to her,” Apollo said.
Ethan laughed nervously. “Hehe, nothing happened.”
“Why did you say it like that? Did you do something?” Apollo asked over the table.
“Nope, why would you say that? Anyway, I saved you the trouble of talking to Lynette, and she thinks it’s a good idea to move the kids in with me, so you can rest assured. She just has to check with her boyfriend.”
“I wish that guy’d just propose already. They’re moving really slow. Lynette has three kids, what is he, playing games?” Apollo thought out loud.
“How do you feel about him? Do you like him?”
“I hate his guts,” Apollo answered honestly. “Lynette is always double checking things with him. If she’s that serious about him, why can’t he see that and stop playing games? If he’s going to be in my children’s lives, he better be worth it. Right now, I don’t know too much about him, and it’s driving me insane. I don’t know if he’s the kind of guy I want my children around.”
“I don’t want to be the second step dad,” Ethan said. “I know I’m helping raise the kids but, I just don’t feel like I could ever be their father. You and Lynette will always be their parents, and even Jordan, he could even be called dad. But not me.”
“Where is this all coming from?” Apollo asked.
“I want one of my own,” Ethan said, suddenly standing up from his seat.
“Want what?” Apollo asked.
“A child. I want to be a father…” Ethan whispered.
“Ethan…it isn’t possible, you know that,” Apollo said.
“There has to be a way. I built a time machine, so maybe there’s a way,” He began but Apollo cut him off.
“You’d risk the safety of my kids by opening up that time machine. Do you know how dangerous that is?” Apollo demanded. “You’re being selfish!”
“Right,” Ethan shrunk back. “I’m being selfish. I’m sorry for wanting something I should never have.”
“Wait, I didn’t mean to snap.” Apollo reached out an arm.
“It’s ok,” Ethan smiled brightly, hiding his hurt feelings. “You have to raise three kids now, even if there was a way your priority should be them.”
“Whatever, it’s fine!” Ethan tried to smile, but realizing it was impossible, he turned around. “Just forget about it. I should actually be heading home now anyway. I’ve got some things that I need to take care of. I’ll call you later.”
“Why so glum?” Lynette asked as she finished scrawling Jordan’s love note. It had been a full week since the incident. Ethan had been dodging Apollo’s calls and even ignored his text messages.
“Why so happy?” Apollo shot back.
“I have my health, my children, their father, uncle, step-dad and my boyfriend. To list a few.” She smiled.
“Why do things become so complicated when you put a ring on someone’s finger?” Apollo rested his head on his closed laptop.
“Lovers quarrel?” Lynette guessed.
“I’m the biggest jerk on the planet. He was just trying to tell me how he feels, and I just cracked under pressure. Things have just been so stressful with everything going on. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve been thrust from being a teenager to a full-fledged adult. I missed out on the time to grow, and apparently my mind didn’t mature with time.”
“Why don’t you tell him that? When he asked you to marry him, it was because he was sure that there was no one else he’d rather spend his time with. He wants to be there with you through everything. He’s going out of his way for you. He’s fixing the house, watching the kids, he even offered us a bigger place to stay. He doesn’t have to do that for you, or even for us. Did you ever stop to think about what he’s given up to make you happy?” Lynette lectured.
Apollo let out a loud sigh. “Just everything he is. Life would be so much different if he was home…he gave it all up for me. I just see myself as the center of the universe. I’m always loading him with my problems, and I never stopped to think what’s been bothering him. I should have at least heard him out.”
“You can tell him all that at the kid’s birthday parties tomorrow night,” Lynette said before getting up. “Now, I need to mail this. Jordan isn’t too happy that we aren’t having an actual party for the kids, but what can we do about that? I just want you, Ambrose and Ethan there. Jordan can come some other time, when the kids are ready.”
Apollo wanted to lecture her, to tell her to take things a bit more seriously when it involved her kids, but it wasn’t the time or place and so he let it go.
It was the day of the party, and despite Ethan’s absence the past week, he was there. “Please just talk to me,” Apollo begged. “I need you to hear me out.”
“I’m listening,” Ethan began. “Stop assuming that I’m mad at you, because I’m not.”
“You’ve been avoiding my calls and everything. What the hell? I’ve been worried!” Apollo nearly shouted.
“I’m sorry, but you know that I just need some time to myself to think after we fight. Remember last time? I’m just surprised that you didn’t show up at my house.” He chuckled.
“Can we go inside and talk?” Apollo asked. “I’ve just got something that I need to get off of my chest.” Ethan nodded and followed him inside. They both situated themselves on the sofa.
As soon as Apollo sat down, Ethan pulled him into a kiss. Apollo let the feeling take over his body. FInally, pulling away to take in some air, he asked, “what the hell was that?”
“We don’t have anything to talk about,” Ethan said simply. “I love you.”
“That doesn’t mean what I say goes!” Apollo fired back. “Stop obeying my every whim. If you want something from me tell me, and if I’m not listening then fight me on it! If we’re going to be married, then I need to make sure that you’re happy too.”
Ethan suddenly smirked. “Is that what you’re into?”
“What…no!” Apollo’s face lit up. “Why do you always do that?”
Ethan pulled Apollo closer to him. “I don’t know if I can fight you on what you want. I just feel like giving you everything when I talk to you. When I’m by myself, I think of all these things that I should be saying to you, but it all melts away when I’m actually with you. I want to spoil you.”
“I’m not a pet,” Apollo said. He grabbed Ethan’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “Tell me when I’m being overbearing and I’ll stop. I realize how much you gave up to be with me.”
“It wasn’t much, and I chose this life,” Ethan said.
“I want to talk about what you were saying before,” Apollo started.
“Let’s just drop it, I forgot about it already.” Ethan smiled. “It was just a passing thought.”
It was so much more than that, and Apollo knew it, but he didn’t know how to give Ethan what he wanted. A child? Ethan wanted to raise a baby. He hadn’t been there when the children were first born. It was extremely difficult to take care of them. Besides, what could they possibly do? Adopt a child? He didn’t want to think about it.
“I see everything is working out here,” Lynette winked. “Carry on with this later. It’s time for the cake.”
“They grow up so fast,” Ethan commented as the children posed for a photo.
“Aren’t they the cutest children ever? These are going all over the internet. Leia would love to see these!” Lynette gushed.
“Is it over yet?” Ken whined. “I can’t hold this pose forever!”
“Stop being a dork,” Bailey sneered.
“Guys, mom is trying to take a picture,” Scarlett said sweetly.
“I want to play with Ryder, this is stupid!” Ken groaned.
“Amelia is way cooler!” Bailey argued. “Even Night is cooler than Ryder.”
“What are you guys talking about? Ethan chuckled. He wished he had a sibling, it seemed like a lot of fun.
“Their imaginary friends,” Lynette whispered.
“Imaginary friends?” Ethan stuttered. “Like those dolls?”
“You had one too?” Lynette asked.
“No, but…forget it.” Ethan looked away.
“This place is sick!” Ambrose cheered. “I don’t even mind that I have to share a room with the kids. At least I can walk around. This is great. You’re amazing Ethan.”
“I know, I get that a lot,” He laughed.
“You hit the jackpot with this guy,” Ambrose said.
“Aren’t they considering you for that show, the bachelor?” Ethan asked.
“Eh, I could care less about that show, honestly.” Ambrose began to yawn. “Everybody is trying to shove love down my throat. It’s so stupid.”
“Don’t be so negative,” Apollo said. “Love changes a man.”
“It really does,” Ethan agreed. “You start moving their family into your house and everything.” Apollo hit his arm playfully. “What?”
“Have you guys started planning the wedding?” Ambrose successfully changed the subject.
“Not exactly. Can’t we just sign some papers?” Apollo asked.
“No way! I want a party,” Ethan demanded. “How am I doing? Forceful enough?”
Ambrose gave him a weird look but continued. “You could have it this weekend at the summer festival. It happens only once a year, and the kids are off from school. I can talk to the proprietor and see if they’ll let you host a wedding there. Of course you guys can invite whoever you want.”
Ethan’s eyes lit up. “Can we do that?”
Apollo shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”
Ethan smiled. “I’m happy as long as your family is there. I know how much this means to your mom.”
“Perfect guy,” Ambrose laughed. “Ah, love makes me sick.”
“Hey, lighten up a bit!” Ethan ruffled his hair. “You’ll find your princess one day, everyone does. I found mine.” Ethan winked.
“Wait a second, I’m not the princess of the relationship!” Apollo cried.
“Talk to the guy at the festival for us?” Ethan asked nicely. “I’ll start calling for decorations and relay the message to Lynette so she can get the kids dressed up. This should be fun!”
Apollo smiled watching his husband to be. Everyone wanted a day where they could be the center of attention and Ethan seemed like he’d be relishing in it.