Tommy bounced Peyton in his arms, singing her a soft lullaby as she lulled to sleep. Charlotte watched him with interest as he effortlessly maneuvered around the room. Peyton and Emerson could talk. Often they’d argue with her in babbles, refusing to do as she told them to. Peyton, especially. Charlotte hadn’t remembered Pax, Graciela or even Waverly giving her as much trouble as the human twins did. Being a twin herself, Charlotte thought she could sympathize with the toddlers, but she often felt afraid of breaking them as if they were made of glass. “Do you have kids at home?” Charlotte asked from the doorway.
“I do,” Tommy said, looking up at her with a smile. “Talon. He’s a bumble fairy. Got these cute little wings like a bee.”
Charlotte placed her hand over her mouth as she giggled. “You know, I used to think the idea of a supernatural and a human together was horrendous. I thought you humans were weak.”
“Well my dad proved you wrong, huh?” Tommy asked, placing Peyton back into her crib. “He’s got a way with women. I should know, I take after him.”
“He never gave up on me. I don’t understand why. I even told him that he was just a human and I was superior.” Charlotte shut her eyes and remembered how hard Jeffrey had fought for her when she wasn’t even willing to fight for herself. It brought a smile to her lips. “He told me that I was worth something. No, he showed me it. I wouldn’t have made it this far without my human husband. But, raising a human is absolutely terrifying. Raising two…”
“They’re babies,” Tommy said. “Just like your other kids were. I used to make my ex do everything for Talon. I thought she could raise him better than I could because she was a fairy. Did dad do that too?”
“Definitely not. He raised Pax, Graciela, Waverly- and then Camila, Nerissa and Waverly- like a pro. He didn’t even flinch when Pax bit him for the first time as a toddler. I was so astounded.”
“So, just follow his lead. I think Talon and I would be much closer if I didn’t stand back so much. The most important thing to remember is that Peyton and Emerson are your daughters. Don’t make them feel like others.”
Tommy noticed Charlotte’s lingering gaze and he smiled. “Did you come for my expert parenting advice only?”
“No,” Charlotte said hesitantly. “My reasons are more selfish. Before you came here, your father would quite often your tell me that you and I would get along. You were his strong minded fighter who stood up for what he believed in. He said that you stuck up for yourself against your mother when she didn’t support your union with a supernatural.”
“Is that all you’re interested in?” Tommy asked, tilting his head. He approached Charlotte. “All I did was tell that woman that she couldn’t stop me from loving who I wanted to. It took us all too long to realize she was too controlling. You didn’t see dad back then, he barely ever smiled. He was in his office all of the time. We never got to see him because she was just too overbearing.”
“I’m sorry,” Charlotte said, placing a hand on her heart. “I can’t imagine Jeffrey being like that. He’s always so full of life, and his kids are his world.”
“I know,” Tommy said. “I’m kind of jealous. I saw Graciela in a panic this morning because she couldn’t find a book she had been reading. Within seconds, he dropped everything he was doing and helped her track it down. He was so attentive to her. Like, she’s his whole world. It’s strange seeing him wrapped around someone’s finger. But even stranger seeing that he has this whole other family.”
“Do you wish he was like this with you and your siblings?” Charlotte asked, making sure to be attentive to the boy’s words.
“Of course I do,” Tommy replied. “Don’t get me wrong, I know Dad loved us- loves us. I know he does more than anything, but I also wish he had time to drop everything he was doing for me. See, if he didn’t help Graciela I’m sure you would have.” Tommy frowned. “Once, I had scraped my knee after falling off of my bike. Dad was at the office working on a case and my mother’s response was to just suck it up and keep riding my bike. I know it’s not a big thing, but I just wanted someone to put help me up and put a bandage on my knee. But when I fell, no one was there. I know dad wanted what was best for us, but he wasn’t ever around and so we needed to default to the woman who always had a problem with what we did.”
“She drove him away,” Charlotte said more to herself than to Tommy. She looked at him with sadness dancing in her eyes. “Did they hate each other?”
“Dad doesn’t talk about her?” Tommy asked. “Not at all?”
“I know of Lisa, but he prefers to keep her out of his tales. He’s mostly concerned about his children. Oh, and this Adam guy. But I know more about him than I do of Lisa.”
“Of course. Adam didn’t nag him to death,” Tommy said. He walked over to Emerson’s crib and held her outstretched hands. “My brother is gay and she had a problem with that too. Oh, and my sister Rita wanted to go far away and help people but my mother thought that job was beneath her. Helping people…can you believe it? How can that ever be beneath someone?”
“My mother didn’t much care for me either, Tommy. She tricked my dad into having a baby with her, but it was never her intention of really properly being there for us. My sister and I were just tools that were meant to hurt my father. My dad wasn’t around for a good chunk of my life either because he was off doing something much bigger than I could ever comprehend. In the meantime, Declan- the man who took care of me, brought me and my sister to have lessons with a man who wanted nothing more than to destroy s. Then, he betrayed us. I know it’s not a competition. I just want you to know that this is why your father always thought we were similar.”
“We’re different,” Tommy said, turning his attention back to Charlotte. “You’re a good mother and wife. I’m a terrible husband and an even worse dad. But, I can see why my dad chose you. You’re different. You make him smile, and you make him want to be there for his kids. He doesn’t run and hide from you, right? This big family is always something he wanted.”
“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for this family, but you are still his son. My…step son,” Charlotte said, tasting the word on her tongue. “Don’t act as if you’re not one of us. You’re part of this family, it doesn’t have to be Jeff’s old family versus his new one.”
“I know, thank you.” Tommy bowed his head. Charlotte hoped their talk had made him feel more comfortable around her and his father. She wanted to clear the air of everything the two of them might have been feeling.
Ethan walked around Moonlight Falls, marveling at just how different the town really was from when he was a child. He barely recognized it. The town had gone through so many different changes as time progressed. Each time, he felt like a stranger in his own town. When he was growing up, the problems seemed so minuscule. His father had handled everything. But then…Rickie happened. From then on, Ethan saw a new side of Moonlight Falls. He saw a world where hiding was the only safety one could have. When he had finally had the courage to fight…
“You gave me the courage you idiot,” Ethan mumbled, tracing the engravings of the magical weather stone. He lifted his wand to activate it. The rain calmed him down. It was raining when he had first kissed Apollo. “Fuck,” He mumbled, when nothing happened. “Why isn’t it working?”
Ethan dropped down to his knees. “They ruined it,” he mumbled to himself, realizing the weather stone had been turned into a simple statue for decoration. A glorified aesthetic add on for the concert space his favorite park had been turned into.
With Declan out of power, the town was able to modernize and grow. With the Grays out of the picture, was Damian able to turn this place into what he had always dreamed of? There was no Lucas, no him or no Alistair to butt in. Ethan shut his eyes tightly, trying to ignore the pain that had been ripping his stomach open. He didn’t have the courage to tell his granddaughter that he didn’t want to return to Moonlight Falls and help them take down the evil vampires and the darkness. He felt selfish speaking up, but now seeing Moonlight Falls progress as if Apollo had never set foot into this world was too unbearable for him.
He ignored the lingering eyes of the other supernaturals and picked at the grass under him. He had truly lived too long. When would be his time?
“Hey, are you alright?” A deep and raspy voice asked. Ethan tried to ignore the man whose shadow towered above him. “Hey, man….listen, you can’t ignore me. I don’t want to be that guy but…ugh, okay I’ll just say it. We’re setting up for a show tonight and you can’t stay here. If you’re here early then you’ll need to wait by the barricades over on the left side of the stage.”
“What?” Ethan asked, looking up with tears staining his face. “Do I look like I give a shit about some stupid concert? Buzz off.”
“Holy hell…Ethan, man. Is that you?” The guy asked, running a hand through his own hair. “I would recognize that hair anywhere.” Ethan squinted, trying to recognize who the well put together guy was, but there was no light bulb going off over his head. “I heard you died!”
“Who are you?” Ethan asked, not wanting to chat any longer. “I have no idea who I’m speaking to.”
The man frowned. “No, of course you wouldn’t. I looked way different back then. I was always in the forest with my dad, hidden away from society. Come on, this purple hair doesn’t ring a bell at all?”
“Kian!” Ethan cried in realization. “Last we saw each other was when we were teenagers. That was like a century ago. You look so different. What are you doing out here in society? Your dad would have flipped.”
“Well things have changed a lot since we were teens. When Dionysus was the leader of the elves, each clan was allowed to do as they pleased. But when Tristan took over, he had this idea that each clan needed to act as one. Which, you know, sounds like a good idea but there’s a lot of assimilation going on. Bringing in gatherers to the city and stuff like that,” Kian explained.
“But you were never one to let people tell you what to do,” Ethan said. It had been a very long time since he had seen the elven male. Kian was a friend he had stumbled upon by accident when he was out searching the wilds for ingredients his father needed to create a potion. But as time went on and Damian got stronger, things got more complicated. The two friends had stopped seeing each other.
“Of course not, but my husband was very convincing.” Kian held up his hand to show off a bronze ring. “Can’t really marry someone who isn’t an elf, in the forest. My father already disowned me. Hey, don’t give me that face. It was years ago. What about you? You’ve been here this whole time? Or did you just suddenly make a return?”
“It’s complicated,” Ethan said. “I was on the run for a bit. Then I met my husband, Apollo. He was a human. We moved to a human town together and had a family. Came back with my son who became the keeper of magic for a bit and then we all moved again.”
“A lot of moving going on,” Kian commented.
“Oh, yeah. That happens when you marry into the Gray family.” Ethan smiled sadly. “Trouble always follows them.”
“Ah, so that’s what the long face is for,” Kian replied, frowning himself. “You said your husband was….” His voice trailed off. “Is he…?”
“Dead,” Ethan confirmed. “It gets really complicated, I told you. But, anyway….I should go. I don’t want to make your job hard.” Ethan stood up.
“Ethan wait,” Kian said, grabbing Ethan’s arm. “Will you be here for awhile?”
Ethan shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know where life will take me anymore.”
“Well, if you’re still here next week maybe we can catch up. You look like you could use a friend,” Kian said. “And since it’s been awhile, maybe a tour guide?”
“I don’t know,” Ethan said. “I’m really supposed to be laying low. Talking to you wasn’t part of the equation.”
“Laying low in the busiest part of town? See, you need my help. I’m full of useful tips,” Kian said. “Please, say you’ll meet up with me.” Kian reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen and paper. He proceeded to write his number on it. “If you change your mind, call me. If not, I’ll pretend like I never saw you around. I’m going to get back to work, but think about it, alright?”
Ethan nodded. “Alright. I’ll think about it.” But, really all he was thinking about was how much he didn’t want to be here. It was nice seeing Kian again, but their lives took them on different paths. The elf had a well established life in Moonlight Falls and Ethan wanted no part of it.