Scarlett was confused when she opened the door. In front of her stood a girl around her age with long red hair and sparkling eyes. Something seemed eerily familiar about her.
“Hello, may I help you?” Scarlett asked, thinking that maybe the girl had the wrong house.
“Hi!” The girl answered excitedly. “Do Apollo and Ethan Gray live here?”
“Yeah, they do. Why, what’s up?” Scarlett asked. What the heck was a young girl doing asking for her dads?
“I hope you don’t mind me asking who you are.” The girl frowned. “I only know about Apollo and Ethan.”
Scarlett raised her brow at the girl. “I don’t mind telling you who I am, if you don’t mind telling me who you are first.” Normally, Scarlett was shy, but in this case she seemed a bit on edge. Something wasn’t right about this situation.
“Oh right!” The girl said suddenly. “My name is Pandora. It’s nice to meet you…”
Pandora’s mannerisms reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. “My name is Scarlett. Apollo and Ethan are my dads.”
Pandora’s eyes lit up as she lunged forward and hugged Scarlett tightly. Scarlett froze in fear. What the heck was happening? “Oh my gosh! Are there anymore of you guys? Apollo’s children I mean!”
“There’s three more…” Scarlett stopped. Why was she telling this girl all of this!? What if she was just scoping out information on her dads?
Ethan hovered over Scarlett. “Who’s at the door?”
Pandora’s eyes wandered to the new figure. “Oh my goodness, you’re him. Ethan Nair!”
Ethan looked at the girl, confusion written all over his face. “Who are you exactly?”
“Yeah,” Scarlett added. “How do you know who he is?” LAst time she checked, Ethan wasn’t particularly famous around Sunlit Tides.
“Your daughter,” She said, as if it was obvious. “Can’t you tell?” She stroked her red hair that matched Ethan’s perfectly.
“That’s impossible,” Ethan said. “I’m gay, and there isn’t anyone that I remember…” He looked at Scarlett. “Doing things with that would conceive a baby.”
“Oh no.” Pandora shook her head. “I don’t have a mother. I didn’t come out of a womb, I’m genetically merged from you and Apollo. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.”
“Genetically merged? You mean..like a test tube baby?” Scarlett questioned. “That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense!”
Ethan looked over at his stepdaughter. “Alistair…well, you know what, nevermind.” He set his eyes back on the girl. Was it really possible? It was impossible, this girl looked to be around the triplet’s age and they were already growing in Lynette’s belly before he had even met Apollo. It didn’t make any sense. “For starters, tell me your name and who sent you.”
“My name is Pandora. I don’t use my last name because the guy who raised me isn’t my biological dad, so I don’t think it really fits. His name is Mason and he told me that if I chose to meet you guys, to give you this note.” She reached into her small knapsack and handed Ethan a beautifully decorated sealed envelope.
Ethan froze. Mason? He hadn’t ever personally met Mason, but Apollo warned him about the guy. He said that the guy was one of the biggest obstacles that the children would have to face in the future because of his time traveling abilities. The guy never aged. “Mason Moon?”
“Mhmm.” Pandora nodded. “He said that you might have known who he was.”
“What’s it say in the letter?” Scarlett asked curiously.
“I dunno.” She shrugged. “He just told me to give it to my dads. I never thought to check it.”
“Listen,” Ethan began as he protectively put an arm in front of Scarlett. “We don’t want anything to do with Mason, I’m sorry.”
“No, please!” Pandora begged. “I don’t have anything to do with him, at least not anymore! I found out that he wasn’t my real dad and when I told him that I wanted to meet my real parents, he packed my bags and told me to go out and find you guys. But, he also said that he didn’t want me to return if I turned my back on him. I told him that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, that I just had to meet you guys for some closure, but he shut me out! I don’t have anywhere to stay, please just hear me out at least!”
“I…” Ethan looked at the tears forming around the redhead’s eyes.
“Ethan,” Scarlett said softly. SHe leaned a hand on his forearm. “I don’t really know whats going on, or who Mason is but I do know what it’s like to be abandoned by a parent. Don’t leave her crying out here by herself. If you do, I’m not going to follow you. I’m going to stay with her out here and be there for her like you were for me, Bailey and Ken when mom left.”
Ethan sighed. Scarlett was right. He didn’t know what the truth was, or if this little girl was a decoy sent out by Mason himself. But, he couldn’t leave her alone when she didn’t have anyone looking out for her. She couldn’t be much older than the triplets and imagining them out there on their own, he’d hope someone was kind enough to give them a place to stay. Examining her bag, he realized that there was no way she had anything more than a few keepsakes. If that was the case, she’d freeze outside with no food, water or clothes to survive with. “Alright, come inside. I’m going to check out this note and Scarlett will stay with you. Make yourself comfortable.”
Pandora nodded excitedly. “Thank you, thank you! I knew you’d be awesome!”
You may be wondering who this pretty young girl is on your doorstep. She’s a product of your and Ethan Nair’s genes. What a nice combination…Apparently, the timeline is much bigger than just me and the guardians, and someone foresaw the joining of you guys. Pandora was created in a science facility by taking your genes and Ethan’s genes and…well, who cares about the process, really? What matters is that 13 years ago, she was made and given to me to raise. Why me? Well for starters, you two weren’t actually together, and how weird would that be? Plus, someone thinks I have some learning to do…oh, I’ve learned so much from her. All Grays are poisonous. She didn’t want to stay with me, who’d give her a loving home, she wanted to meet her real parents. Hah, what a joke! Enjoy your time with her, because I want nothing to do with Gray scum. Just remember the classic myth, you’ve got a box and you never know when she’s going to open it and unleash chaos. Have fun!
Love Always, Mason.
Ethan sighed as he read the letter. He didn’t know what Apollo would think, heck, he didn’t even know what to think himself. Closing his yes, he tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Before he and Apollo met, Frost had taken samples of both of their genes, no…it wouldn’t be possible. She had to have done it while they were all staying together. It would make sense, genetic merging didn’t sound like it took just as long as an actual pregnancy. After Pandora was born, she was handed over to Mason to take care of, to teach him some sort of lesson about the Gray family? What would it be? Maybe Apollo knew the answer. When Pandora found out about her real origins, she wanted to meet him and Apollo which didn’t go over too well with Mason. Ethan hated that he was always the first to find out about these things, he wished that Apollo was here.
“It’s so weird in this house!” Pandora exclaimed as she collapsed onto the couch. “Everything is so…old.”
“Old?” Scarlett looked up. “We just moved into this house.”
“I don’t mean old like that.” Pandora looked around again. “Where I’m from, everything is so advanced. We have hover cars, jet packs, plumbots, dream pods…”
“I get it.” Scarlett held her arm up. “But I don’t know what any of those things are.” Pandora was weird, and she was claiming to be her sister, well, step-sister. As weird as it all sounded, Scarlett believed it. It wasn’t normal and she knew it was strange, but Pandora looked just like her father, and she acted like Ethan. As much as logic was telling her otherwise, Scarlett believed every word this girl had said. “Well, except for a jet pack. But come on, those don’t exist!”
“Not here, but in Oasis Landing they do, and they’re awesome!” The two talked for awhile about futuristic things that Scarlett couldn’t believe, until Pandora’s attention was drawn to something else.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Apollo said, out of breath. “I know I promised I’d be home for dinner but the meeting stretched overtime. I-” Apollo stopped as he felt thin arms wrap around him. Instinctively he held the small frame. Looking down he was shocked to see red hair. “What…the?” He tried to release the girl who only held him tighter.
“You’re him…it’s really you!” She held him tightly. “I can’t believe it, you really exist!”
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Apollo asked kindly.
“She’s your daughter,” Scarlett called from her seat on the couch. “There’s some letter from a guy named Mason and Ethan is in the kitchen handling it.”
“That’s impossible…” Apollo began.
“Ethan already went through this already, just go and talk to him,” Scarlett told her father. “It’ll save everyone some time.”
Apollo nodded. “I think I better.” He took a step back and looked at the girl. Her hair and her eyes were carbon copies of Ethan’s. But…if it involved Mason it would be trouble.
“Ethan?” Apollo asked. Ethan was hunched over the table, eyes on a piece of paper. Apollo placed his arm on the small of Ethan’s back, causing him to jump in surprise.
“You’re home,” Ethan let out a small breath. “I’m sorry, I was a little focused on this letter over here.”
“Care to explain what’s going on? Who’s that girl in our living room?” Apollo asked. He had his arms crossed over his chest, but not out of anger, out of anxiety. “I’m sorry that stuff like this keeps happening while I’m gone.”
“I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry you,” Ethan said softly. “I don’t mind too much, I just…I don’t know too much about this Mason guy so I’m trying to figure it out.” Ethan handed him the letter. “The answer to all of your questions is in the letter.”
Apollo read the letter and sighed. “If you asked me a few years ago if I believed this was possible, I’d laugh in your face, but it’s definitely possible…I don’t know if I believe it, but it’s possible. I mean, I do have a few questions, like…who gave Mason a baby and why does she have our genes? It leads me to believe that someone was trying to teach Mason how to love.” Apollo thought back to his father’s words that love seemed to repel Mason’s efforts.
“Wouldn’t any child suffice? It’s hard not to love a baby,” Ethan said.
“There’s something about the Grays that just attracts people.” Apollo shrugged. “I don’t know if she’s our child anyway. It could be a trick from Mason.”
“She’s our child,” Ethan said confidently. “Just look at her eyes. They’re the same as mine, and I’m the only one in the world with them.”
Apollo blinked. “The only one in the world? I just thought that your eyes looked like that because you could control magic.”
Ethan let out a small chuckle. “I probably should have told you, but it never really came up. Magicians look like regular people, my eyes are this way because I’m part of the Nair family, a powerful line of mages. There’s no other Nairs left in the world except for my parents.”
“Wait a second…” Apollo eyed the male suspiciously. “You said you didn’t know your parents.”
“I lied…” Ethan bit his lip nervously. “But I can explain before you get upset.”
Apollo placed his thumbs up and pointed towards himself. He plastered a fake grin on his face. “Sure thing, because I’m such a nice guy.”
“You are, and that’s why I love you,” Ethan said.
Apollo crossed his arms over his chest. “Stop talking. You don’t just get to compliment me and expect me to be okay with you lying to me. I don’t care what the reason is, you shouldn’t be lying to me. I’ve been nothing but truthful with you.” Apollo raised his voice.
“I know and I’m sorry, but how do you expect me to just tell you about these things! You wouldn’t understand my past, you wouldn’t believe me!” Ethan’s voice was desperate, and filled with passion. “I don’t know how to tell you, if I did, you’d never want to see me again, you’d have never spoken with me to begin with.”
Apollo stared at the man in front of him, anger rising within him. “I am in love with you and it makes me so angry that you’re lying to me. If you’ve lied about your past, what else have you lied about?”
“Nothing!” Ethan shouted. “I haven’t lied about anything other than my past.”
“Your past helps you move on and became a better person. Your past is the reason you’re the person that you are today. I don’t understand why you don’t trust me enough to tell me about your life! I’ve told you everything, every raw moment of my life, every heartbreak, every mistake, every regret! I don’t even know who you are anymore!” Apollo pounded his fist on the table.
“I’m the same person that I’ve always been since the moment I met you! Why can’t you see that!” Ethan reached for Apollo’s arm, but Apollo stepped back in anger.
“I’m not sure that you are,” Apollo said. He felt himself on the verge of tears. He turned his back to Ethan and wiped his eyes. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a teenage girl to deal with.”
“Damnit…” Ethan mumbled. He watched Apollo walk out of the room. It hurt, he never thought his past would come back to haunt him. He couldn’t tell Apollo about his past, and he was angry that he let it slip that he had been hiding something. Everything was going great…everything was starting to make sense! He loved Apollo more than anyone in the entire universe, and he didn’t want to lose him. Why couldn’t Apollo just drop this, just once? Leaning against the wall, Ethan shut his eyes tightly and tried to quiet his thoughts. He needed to calm down, and he didn’t want to leave Apollo’s side in fear of it being the last time he’d see him.
“You okay, Ethan?” Scarlett asked. She had leaned over the couch and faced him. “It sounded pretty brutal in there, my dad doesn’t get mad easily.”
“I know,” Ethan agreed. “I just…I think I messed up.”
“It’s ok,” She said. “Dad loves you, and when you love someone, no matter what that person does, you can’t stay mad at them, even if its what you want to do.”
“Since when do you know so much about love?” Ethan mused.
Scarlett let out a small laugh. “Night is a regular casanova, can you believe it?”
“Yeah, I can,” Ethan said. “Imaginary friends have a way of stealing your heart.”
“That sound really cryptic Ethan, what are you talking about?” Scarlett asked jokingly.
“Nothing, just forget about it.” He pushed off the wall. Maybe some alone time would do him some good. He headed to the basement where his alchemy table had been set up. He needed to just forget about all of this for a little while, and with the kids in the house,he couldn’t choose a more destructive outlet.
Pandora bit her lip as Apollo approached her. “I’m sorry, was that my fault? I didn’t mean to cause any fights.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Apollo said. “It’s not your fault.”
“Are you sure?” She asked. “I’m really sorry.” She apologized again.
Apollo placed a hand on her shoulder. Something about it felt so natural, as if he had known her for her entire life. Looking into her eyes, he saw Ethan, and he knew from that moment that she was their daughter. Any hatred and ill will he had felt toward Ethan in the moment had melted as he saw Pandora. “Really, it’s not your fault. We were arguing about something else. I’m sorry for being so loud. You already know that my name is Apollo, and my husband’s name is Ethan. I have four other kids. Ken, Scarlett and Bailey are my triplets and Alistair is a toddler.”
“Triplets?” Pandora’s eyes grew wide. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a big family! Being with Mason was kind of lonely.” Apollo was curious, she had yet to refer to Mason as her father. He wouldn’t ask.
“I’m going to trust that what you’ve told, Ethan, Scarlett and I is the truth. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that you’re my daughter, and seeing that you came all the way here, I can’t really deny you a home. If you’d like to stay with us, there’s room with the girls. We can roll out a sleeping bag until we find more permanent arrangements.”
“Do you really mean it?” Pandora asked excitedly. “I can stay?”
“Of course, seems to me like Mason has given up custody of you, and I don’t understand why,” Apollo said the last part mostly to himself.
“I always knew that I looked different from Mason, and no matter how much older I got, he seemed to always look the same. He hid me from the world, and told me that I couldn’t leave the house, that he was in hiding from some people, I think he called them the guardians. I didn’t understand, he had always bought me things and fed me but I never really thought of him as my parent. He hated when I tried to call him dad and he wouldn’t refer to me as his daughter,” Pandora admitted.
“Mason doesn’t like us,” Apollo said simply. “He hates the Gray family because of something that had happened in the past, with my grandmother and grandfather. Unfortunately, we’re always going to have a target on our backs thanks to Mason and since he doesn’t age, we don’t know when he’s going to strike next. That’s why, no matter how much he wanted to, he could never truly care for you because you have the Gray genes inside of you.”
She looked up at him and hugged him tightly. “I knew it. I knew there was a reason that he didn’t want me to see you guys, and why he threatened to abandon me. He hates you guys, and now he hates me.”
“He hates everyone,” Apollo corrected. “It was a matter of time until he hated you too. It’s better that you were able to escape him now before he tried anything.”
Pandora nodded. “I know this is sudden, so thank you for taking me in. I really appreciate it.”
“I can’t abandon my child. No matter what.” He smiled as he said it. “Welcome to the family, please make yourself at home.”