Ryman Legacy Chapter 13C


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Ryman Legacy Chapter 13C

  1. 1. The Ryman Legacy<br />Chapter 13C <br />The Golden Years<br />By Mzyra<br />
  2. 2. “Oh my god, it’s huge.”<br />“Remind me how we afforded this again?”<br />“You’d have a lot of money too if you’d been alive for three hundred years.”<br />“Tina, honey? I love you.”<br />“If this were the first time you’d said that, Jos, you’d be sleeping on the pavement tonight.”<br />
  3. 3. “Yes, thank you Tina,” Juan interjected, “but the big question is how we’re going to finish unpacking and moving the last of everything.”<br />“While looking after a baby too,” Jose added.<br />“I probably won’t be much help with the heavy lifting, so I can take Huey,” Mia offered.<br />“We could still use an extra pair of hands… Didn’t your father say he was going to come visit Huey soon, Jose?”<br />“Er, yeah, but I don’t think he meant-!”<br />
  4. 4. “I don’t think my body is ever going to recover.”<br />“If it managed to make it back from the dead, Dad, I’m sure it’ll get by.”<br />“I don’t think it managed that very well.”<br />“Ah, man up Landry, it wasn’t that bad,” Juan smirked.<br />“Some of us didn’t grow up cutting down trees and throwing axes, Juan.”<br />“I knew we did things better in Three Lakes.”<br />
  5. 5. “Thank you for your help, Zack,” Mia politely interjected the play-fighting as she came in, “and, as your reward, it’s about time you met somebody…!”<br />“Yeah, you can babysit your grandchild for us too.”<br />
  6. 6. “Wow – so this is him?”<br />“Yes, this is little Huey, your grandson.”<br />“Oh, and he really does have my hair! Er, is this the first grandchild of many, Jose, or…?”<br />“Er, I don’t think that’s the only one you’re going to get, but… Actually, that’s a good point, I’m going to go see where Tina’s disappeared off to.”<br />“Go make us more grandkids while you’re at it!”<br />
  7. 7. Jose eventually found his wife in one of the bathrooms. “Tina? Are you okay?”<br />“Yes, fantastic. Just ruining our brand new toilets already and afraid of moving away in case I have to be sick again,” she replied brightly.<br />“You don’t- I mean, do you think it might be… morning sickness again?”<br />“I guess I hope so, because if it’s not…! But it was never this bad with Huey, so I don’t know.”<br />
  8. 8. “I’m sorry if I’ve made you ill again, but wouldn’t it be good to have another child? My dad just ordered me to find and impregnate you anyway.”<br />“Your family is very enthusiastic about these things when they’re not the ones having to do them,” Tina frowned into his shoulder.<br />“Then they can be the ones cleaning the toilets while you rest, right?”<br />“That does sound nice, actually…”<br />
  9. 9. So that was exactly what they did, as Jose watched her sleep against his shoulder for a couple of hours, and gently stroked her stomach, hoping that he might be a father again soon.<br />
  10. 10. Before it was finally confirmed.<br />“Oh my. Well, that’s that then…”<br />“Worried, Ti?”<br />“Huey won’t even be a child before this one is born. Maybe we should have spaced them out more…”<br />
  11. 11. “Hey, this is what live-in grandparents are for.”<br />“I don’t think we can take your mother and step-father for granted as automatic babysitters, Jose.”<br />“Well no, Juan has to work and everything, but my mum’ll jump at the chance. Seriously, go downstairs and show her: I’ll bet you any amount I’ll be able to hear her squealing from up here.”<br />
  12. 12. Jose was not wrong.<br />“Oh good, another one already! That means they can go to school together and keep an eye out for each other- well, not as that really helped when Jose was acting out as a teenager, but in theory at least-”<br />“I’m sure they’ll be fine Mia, especially with grandparents like you.”<br />
  13. 13. So all was blissful. Or most of it was…<br />“Do we know if Liv’s coming to Huey’s party tonight?”<br />“Erm, I think so…?”<br />“I’m just… I’ve been worried about her since you told me and Lyle about her dad and father-in-law and everything. Do you think we should be doing more?”<br />
  14. 14. Juan balked a little. “I hate the situation, as you know, but I don’t believe she’s in any immediate danger or anything; I haven’t heard anything particularly bad about her new husband, her father-in-law seems to like her, and her father treats her a bit like a possession, but I doubt he’s about to hurt her. I’m more concerned about her happiness than her physical safety at the minute.”<br />
  15. 15. “Okay. Well we’ll see if Lyle and I can have a word with her and see how she’s doing.”<br />“Good idea. I’d help you, but… it’s been a little awkward between us since I spoke to her before the wedding.”<br />“It’s fine Juan, we’ll deal with it. It’s what brothers are for. And I’m sure she’ll come ‘round; Liv can’t not be nice to people.”<br />“Yeah…”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  16. 16. So all the immediate family was gathered around for Huey becoming a toddler, in their brand new dining room.<br />If they could stop admiring the décor for long enough, at least.<br />“Why is my family the only one that doesn’t get a brand new house?”<br />“Yours is the only one that doesn’t need one, Lyle. Give me more grandbabies and then we’ll talk,” Mia answered.<br />
  17. 17. Huey turned out very reminiscent of Jose had as a toddler, besides his grandfather’s black hair and his mother’s eye shape at least, and he was soon crawling all over the place before anyone could stop him.<br />
  18. 18. No toddler could ever stop Liv from snuggling and adoring them for a good half an hour, however.<br />“Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww– Jose! He’s got a tiny little version of your nose! And just look at that smile!”<br />Huey just giggled and tried to make a grab for Liv’s hair.<br />“Can I keep him, please?”<br />“Get your own,” Jose called back before Liv sighed dramatically and put Huey back down, making for the nursery.<br />
  19. 19. “Soooo, how’s it going with Winston and everything then?” Jose asked as Liv settled between him and Lyle.<br />“Er, good I guess,” shesaid blankly. “How about you?”<br />“Oh, uh, great. Another kid on the way and everything… But back to you, everything’s really fine?”<br />“Well yeah, why wouldn’t it be? Did anyone ask Lyle or you all this when you got married?”<br />
  20. 20. “I think what Jose means is that you’re living with Winston and his Dad and, yeah I know I live with Rox and her mums, but you’re our little sister: we have to be worried about you. So really, how is it there?”<br />“It really is good; if you think this house is big and shiny, you should see ours! There should be plenty of space, and I think I might be pregnant myself, so it should work out great.”<br />“Congratulations then. What about Winston?”<br />“Oh, you know, he works quite a bit, but that makes him happy and pays for the house, so…” <br />
  21. 21. “And what about your father-in-law?” Jose interjected, trying to hide the importance of the question.<br />“What, Seth? Seth’s great: I think I’ve been having morning sickness and he’s been telling me all sorts of hints and tricks to calm it down – he must have been really good when his wife had their kids, and he’s really nice to me. Him and my dad always seem to be arguing, but I don’t think it’s serious really.”<br />“So… it really is all good?” Jose asked almost disbelievingly while Lyle shrugged at him from behind her back.<br />“Yup. Except I’m thirsty. ‘Be back in a bit.”<br />
  22. 22. “Is it at all possible that it could be just that simple?”<br />Jose sighed. “It’d probably be a first if it is. Anyway, what about you? How come Elliot didn’t come for the party?”<br />“Oh, er, well… one of Rox’s mums passed away last night, and we’re not sure how much longer the other’s going to last either. Obviously it’s a huge blow to her, and to the kids. That’s why I couldn’t help you move earlier.”<br />“Oh. I’m sorry, man.”<br />“Mmm. I’ve never been so pleased to have a zombie for a father.”<br />
  23. 23. “Well you know we’re all here any time you or any of your family need us, right?”<br />“Yeah, I know. I’d offer the same, but your life looks pretty perfect at the moment, huh?”<br />“Er, yeah. Yeah, it kind of is. I don’t think I could be any happier.”<br />“I guess you were miserable for long enough before; you’ve earned it, so enjoy it.”<br />“I plan to.”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  24. 24. And they were good times in the Ryman house with everyone pitching in to help raise the next generation. Huey was never starved for even a moment’s attention from someone or other.<br />
  25. 25. But he wasn’t the only toddler in the family, and soon it was Lyle’s daughter Vivian’s birthday, giving most of the Ryman’s more of a chance to be out of the house (Tina stayed home with Huey and to get some rest).<br />
  26. 26. And Liv did indeed turn out to be pregnant when she showed up, and was rather happy about it too, mostly stood around rubbing her expanded belly blissfully.<br />
  27. 27. Meanwhile Vivian became a child and was soon running around looking for attention, looking a lot like Lyle but with Roxanne’s eyes and Juan’s red hair, cornrowed like her daddy’s.<br />
  28. 28. But one person was demanding a lot less attention than usual.<br />“Elliot? Are you okay?”<br />“Yeah…”<br />“What’s up?”<br />“Grandmas are gone…”<br />“So I heard. I’m sorry.”<br />
  29. 29. “Granddad? What happens when you die?”<br />Juan considered lying to him. “Honestly? I don’t remember a thing about it. But I tend to think that there must be somewhere we go if people can be recalled like I was.”<br />“Are you glad you got brought back?”<br />“And get to meet your dad, you and your sister? Of course I was. But still, everybody has to go sooner or later. Your grandmothers lived long and happy lives – and weren’t eaten by carnivorous plants – : it’s a shame they’re gone, but it’s not something to lament for their sakes.”<br />
  30. 30. “You’re not going to die again soon, are you?”<br />“…I don’t know. I don’t think so; I’ll try to stick around for as long as possible, but…”<br />“Death sucks.”<br />“Hmm. But there are a lot of accounts of hauntings at gravesites, so if nothing else…!”<br />
  31. 31. “Ghosts? Hey granddad, could we go ghost hunting?! That sounds awesome!”<br />“Maybe when you’re older. But from what I hear, you might not have to go after them – your grandmothers might come find you.”<br />“Wooow. I’m going to stay up and wait!”<br />“Don’t stay up too late – you have school in the morning, and they’ll come find you when they have something to say and not before.” <br />“Woooooow.”<br />And Juan left him with bright shiny eyes and a wide smile.<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  32. 32. And then life at the Ryman house continued as normal and not everything revolved around existing and future children; Jose got a job and worked very irregular hours to help pay the bills, while Mia and Tina stayed at home, resting or painting. And both couples managed to retain very healthy relationships, regardless of pregnancy bumps or age.<br />
  33. 33. Until finally Tina was in labour again.<br />Unfortunately this time Jose was working during the day and Mia had completely crashed after hours looking after Huey, so neither of them were available to help.<br />
  34. 34. But very luckily Juan was, especially since there needed to be more than one pair of hands for this delivery in particular.<br />It turned out to be two baby girls – the first with brown hair called Anna, and the second with black hair called Lydia, and both with Jose’s dark blue eyes and both of their parents’ skin tone. <br />
  35. 35. Huey probably didn’t understand when told about his two new little sisters, but that didn’t stop Juan trying to explain. He was bound to be happy about it sooner or later.<br />
  36. 36. Mia was, of course, thrilled to have two new grandchildren for the price of one; especially girls to spoil with whom she could style their hair and buy cute dresses.<br />Jose didn’t even check what gender they were before picking each of them up and snuggling them (although all the pink was almost certainly a giveaway).<br />
  37. 37. And then he spent much of the rest of the day lying by Tina’s side as she rested, trying to make up for missing the birth and making sure she was okay after it all. <br />
  38. 38. But Tina wasn’t one to be kept down for long, even after giving birth to twins, and she was soon up and about happily helping to look after them.<br />
  39. 39. Not that she really needed to; Juan and Mia were available for feeding for most of the day and night so that it wasn’t a matter of which crying baby would get seen to first.<br />
  40. 40. Huey, meanwhile, had noticed that something new was going on around the place and he saw some small beige-y things being carried around now and then, but his inquisitive little mind couldn’t quite work out what it all meant.<br />
  41. 41. Whatever it was, his Daddy still came and played with him before and after work, so it really couldn’t be that bad or important.<br />
  42. 42. And Juan was remarkably happy too. <br />Thanks to Jalowitz work still sucked, but it was a lot easier to deal with all the irritation when he could remember the wonderful family he had waiting for him back home. Babies and toddlers were so uncomplicated.<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  43. 43. “Hello?”<br />“Hi Mum!”<br />“Oh, Liv! What’s going on?”<br />“Oh, you know, I just gave birth last night. Want to meet your new grandchild?”<br />“I’ll be there in five minutes.”<br />
  44. 44. If anything, she took less.<br />“Isn’t he goooooorgeous?” Liv beamed.<br />“He is!”<br />“My little Dwayne. My dad’s hair and eyes too – he’s very happy about that.”<br />“I’ll bet!”<br />
  45. 45. Mia eventually prised herself away from Dwayne so he could go back to sleep, and they went to have a chat in the kitchen. <br />“Anyway, so how are you Liv? What’s it like living here?”<br />Liv laughed. “Just look around you, mum!”<br />“Well yes, the house is big and beautiful and everything, but is the company as good…?”<br />“Have you been talking to Jose and Lyle? You sound just like them.” <br />“We just want to make sure you’re happy, that’s all.”<br />
  46. 46. “Well. Winston’s not around all that much; he works a lot, but that’s not a bad thing really.”<br />“Yes, conscientiousness tends to be a virtue,” Mia agreed, eager to move on to her other housemate.<br /> “And then there’s always Seth- although it sounds like he’s got a lead role in a film coming up soon, so he might be gone for a while soon…” Liv said thoughtfully.<br />
  47. 47. “Yeah – what is it like living with him?”<br />“What do you mean?”<br />“Well… is he ever… I don’t know…scary? Act strangely?”<br />“Scary? Seth?” Liv laughed. “Seth’s great: with me when I’m pregnant, and with Dwayne. He only tends to argue with Dad and Winston, and it’s more like he’s teasing them than anything.”<br />“So he’s just… kind of normal?”<br />“Yeah. Why wouldn’t he be?”<br />
  48. 48. “So everything’s fine?”<br />Liv hesitated a little. “It is a bit quiet around here, but I have Dwayne, and we’ll probably have at least one more child, and my dad’s around, so… yeah, it’s fine. It’s great!”<br />“Well okay, if you’re sure. You know you can always come over to ours – and bring Dwayne too – if you want to. We’re only a phone call away.”<br />“I know. Thanks, Mum.”<br />~~~~~~~~~<br />
  49. 49. And before anyone knew it, it was birthday time yet again, with Lyle bringing both his kids over to see three of their cousins grow up. <br />“-so yeah, my job still sucks, but it’s not like I expect anything different. At least until Liv’s father retires or is forced to do so.”<br />“Yeah. I can still barely believe that.”<br />“Anyway, how are you?”<br />
  50. 50. “Er, well, honestly? Elliot’s been getting into trouble at school. Which is kind of awkward, what with me being a teacher and all. For a little while we thought it might be linked to losing Rox’s parents, but you can only stretch it so far and it wasn’t the best excuse in the first place. Especially when Vivian’s a little angel in comparison. And I don’t have much experience; Jose got in trouble, but that was because he got in with the wrong people – or person – if anything, it seems like Elliot is the wrong person.”<br />
  51. 51. “Did you try asking Wally?” Juan asked interestedly.<br />“Yeah, he said there probably wasn’t anything that would have stopped him before he fell for Sophie, but I’d rather not just jump to that conclusion if it means letting Elliot be a troublemaker until he’s almost an adult.”<br />“I’ll try having a word with him then. I had more than my fair share of troublemaking when I was at school.”<br />Lyle gave a relieved sigh. “Thanks Dad.”<br />
  52. 52. But first of all there had to be candles blown out and small children aged up. And the whole family was very grateful for their substantially bigger house for such occasions.<br />
  53. 53. Anna and Lydia turned out apparently emotionally quite close, but fairly different in appearance; Anna having their mother’s eyes and father’s nose, and Lydia having their father’s eyes and mother’s nose. Everyone was quite glad for the mix of genetics, however; nobody had yet turned out a clone of either parent.<br />
  54. 54. And then it was Huey’s turn, actually capable of blowing out the candles for himself when Grandma Mia brought him to them. <br />
  55. 55. Cakes all done, the girls went off to play together in the nursery (Vivian revelling in the chance to play responsible older cousin to the toddlers and frequently attempting to tell them what to draw and with what colours, but mostly to very blank looks).<br />
  56. 56. And Huey – childhood look established – sought out the only other boy, who had already found his way onto the games console.<br />“Hey Elliot?”<br />“Shhh, I’m trying to do a corkscrew 540!”<br />Huey watched as the pixelated man on the screen fell and landed in such a way that probably broke his neck. “That wasn’t meant to happen, was it?”<br />“I’d like to see you do any better!”<br />
  57. 57. By the time Juan got there, the two boys were deeply involved in their competition.<br />“Elliot, I need to talk to-”<br />“Not right now Granddad- Huey, that’s so cheating!”<br />“That’s not what you said when you did it to me last time!”<br />“I’m allowed to do it!”<br />“Why?”<br />“…Because I’m older!”<br />“And I’m beating you, so there!”<br />
  58. 58. “Elliot-” Juan tried to interject again with a sigh.<br />But he was cut off by Lyle calling from the kitchen. “Lyle! Vivian! Come on, it’s time to go!”<br />Elliot gave a huff and got up to go. “Fine, you win this round, Ryman, but I’m gonna beat you next time. See you at school tomorrow!”<br />“Elliot-!”<br />“Yeah, bye Granddad.”<br />Juan sighed. He guessed it would have to wait for another time then.<br />
  59. 59. It wasn’t like Juan didn’t have enough (step-)grandchildren to be dealing with as it was. Somehow it was easier looking after twin babies than twin toddlers – probably because babies couldn’t crawl off down the other side of the house while your back was turned for a split second. Luckily none of them had yet figured out how to escape from their cribs without adult assistance.<br />
  60. 60. The whole lifestyle was taking its toll on one person, however.<br />“300 years, Jose Ryman – 300 years I have kept my figure: less than ten with you and look what happens to it!”<br />“To be fair, you have had three children very recently, including twins. It’d be unfair to expect your body to stay the same.”<br />“Your mother had three children and look how svelte she’s managed to stay, even into old age!”<br />
  61. 61. “Yeah, well, Mum couldn’t exactly over-indulge – or indulge at all – when we were all living in a shack, so that was probably an accident more than anything.”<br />“Hmph.”<br />“Anyway, I still think you’re as gorgeous as the day I married you, as well you should know…”<br />“Hmm, that is true…”<br />
  62. 62. Very true. As he’d only gone and gotten her pregnant again.<br />“Jose, love?”<br />“Yes?”<br />“Have you considered being less virile? You know, so I could have more of a break than one day between pregnancies?”<br />“Er, I might if I could?”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  63. 63. That morning… <br />“You nervous ‘bout starting school, Hue?”<br />“A bit, but it sounds like fun.”<br />“Yeah, it can be sometimes,” Elliot smiled. <br />“I can’t wait to see my timetable.”<br />“Break times are the same everyday dude: ten, half-eleven and half-one.”<br />
  64. 64. “Oh, no, I meant I can’t wait to see what I’m gonna learn.”<br />Elliot blinked. “…You’re looking forward to classes?”<br />“Well yeah, why not?”<br />“Oh man, we need to sort you out pronto. Where’s Brawly already?!”<br />“Er, hi guys…” came quietly from nearby.<br />
  65. 65. Elliot had barely even glanced at his best friend before he burst out laughing. “Dude, what are you wearing?”<br />“Isn’t that the private school uniform?” Huey asked blankly.<br />“Well obviously,” he rolled his eyes, “but Brawly doesn’t do private school. What’s going on, dude?”<br />
  66. 66. Brawly groaned. “It was my mum – she called the admissions person. I didn’t ask her to, and my dad wasn’t that bothered about going private, but she kept saying that it would be really good for when I go to university and have to get a job, and my dad couldn’t be bothered to argue, so…”<br />“That sucks dude.”<br />
  67. 67. “But I don’t get why there’s a private thing at all if we go to the same school anyway,” Huey frowned. “What’s the difference?”<br />“You have to wear a uniform, you get lunch first and you can get extra tuition and classes.”<br />“And the teachers like you more, though I don’t think we could ever pay them enough to get them to like us,” Elliot smirked. “I heard my dad and Granddad talking – apparently they merged the public and private, and junior and high schools so it’s cheaper to run it all. Sounds stupid to me, but if we get to keep Brawly then whatever.”<br />“Of course you wouldn’t understand,” was only just audibly muttered from behind them.<br />
  68. 68. “What was that?” Elliot turned around and asked dangerously.<br />“I said ‘of course you wouldn’t understand’. Some people are just better than others and some of the lesser people won’t accept it, even when it’s made obvious.”<br />“What, you think some stupid stuffy uniform makes you better than us?! I have good enough taste to want to wear my own clothes, thanks.”<br />“It’s about more than that: it’s about your past, present and future. It shows you’re rich enough now, so your ancestors worked hard enough to afford it in the past, and that you’re actually going to be going places in the future. Or not, in your case.”<br />
  69. 69. “That’s bullcrap! It’s not that big a deal and not that many people even do it!”<br />“Wrong: look around. The only people here not wearing the uniform are you two and that girl who I’m guessing is your sister. Which means either your families are poor or your parents couldn’t care less about you. Probably both.”<br />“You shut up about my family!”<br />“We could go private if we wanted to,” Huey interjected defensively.<br />The alien-looking boy snorted. “Not if they have any standards.”<br />
  70. 70. “If all that apparently makes you better is that uniform that’s hardly worth bragging about,” Brawly glared.<br />He laughed. “We’re not even talking about me; I’m an alien, in case you hadn’t noticed. You lot are a lower class amongst humans.”<br />“You think aliens are better than humans?” Huey frowned.<br />He snorted again. “Obviously: I don’t see humans going to other planets, abducting aliens and making them carry their offspring. You’re like the lab rats of the universe, and you’re the runty ones even the other rats look down on.”<br />
  71. 71. Elliot snapped and was up the stairs in a flash. “I don’t care how freaking great you think private schools or aliens are – you’re just a snobby uptight freak who better shut up about us and our families and everything else or I’ll break your nose- or I would, if you had one, freak!”<br />“Er, Elliot…?” Huey tried to interject quietly.<br />
  72. 72. To no avail.<br />“ELLIOT HARRIS. DETENTION. RIGHT. NOW.”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  73. 73. “-and so I walk out the door and he’s right there, shouting in the face of a half-alien child, threatening to break his nose and calling him a freak!”<br />“That is… very bad, yes.”<br />“But he just keeps sulking and claiming that I wouldn’t understand because I’m a teacher and I’m ‘too nice’!” <br />
  74. 74. “You haven’t told him about that time you punched Ivan, have you?” Juan smirked slightly.<br />“Er, no… I thought that might make it worse if I’m being a bit hypocritical.”<br />“Well okay, I’ll try talking some sense into him. And the others – wouldn’t want him leading Huey astray. Although how your child is being a bad influence on Wally Verse’s is entirely beyond me.”<br />“I know,” Lyle said glumly, “that’s what he said. Though at least he was laughing when he said it…”<br />
  75. 75. “Right, so I’ve just been talking to Lyle-”<br />“He didn’t hear what the other boy was saying!” Elliot protested.<br />“He was being really mean Grandpa Juan,” Huey agreed earnestly.<br />“He called us rats and said we were poor and our parents didn’t love us because we weren’t in private school!”<br />Juan looked between them all. “Is this true?” <br />They all nodded. “He’s a massive jerk!”<br />
  76. 76. “Well congratulations – if he’s the only one you ever meet, consider yourselves lucky. They exist all over the place and you can’t go around getting into fights with all of them: you have to pick your battles carefully. And you definitely shouldn’t bring his alien heritage into it, it’s not relevant.”<br />“He was the one who brought it up – he said aliens were better than humans; he said we were just lab rats! You can’t just ignore people saying stuff like that!”<br />
  77. 77. Juan sighed and considered them all. “Okay, let me tell you something. There is somebody that I hate, and I have to see him most days. He makes comments, like that kid did, about my zombiism all the time. He is probably far more of a jerk than that kid will ever be, and, in all honesty, I’d quite like to repeatedly smash his face into a wall.” The three boys stared at him in surprise and awe. “But I don’t.”<br />“How?” Elliot asked quietly.<br />
  78. 78. “Not so much how, as why. I don’t hit him because it’s both immoral and illegal, no matter how deserved, and also because you might see that person as an incarnation of all that’s wrong with the world, but probably somebody else – their family – won’t, and you risk hurting them just as much as the actual person. What you do instead is rise above it. Ignore him. You know that your families love you, how much money anyone has doesn’t matter, and who you are is a lot more important than what you are. Okay?”<br />The boys all nodded, though Elliot didn’t look entirely satisfied, swinging his feet dejectedly.<br />“Good,” and he went to leave the garage.<br />
  79. 79. “Hey Grandpa?” Elliot suddenly asked after him. “Could you teach me how to fight?”<br />Juan gave an inward sigh and looked back at him. “Why do you need to know how to do that?”<br />He shrugged. “Sounds useful.”<br />“Elliot…!” he raised a suspicious and disapproving eyebrow.<br />“I want to learn too!” Huey chipped in.<br />“Me too,” Brawly added.<br />
  80. 80. “I’m not going to teach you ‘how to fight’,” he replied flatly.<br />“But-!”<br />“I could teach you all self-defence, however…”<br />“Yeah, that’d do,” Elliot smiled innocently.<br />“But why do you need it?”<br />“I want to be a boxer or a wrestler or something. One of the teachers said stuff like that might help me learn how to behave as well.”<br />
  81. 81. Juan was rather sceptical about that. “What about you two?”<br />“I want to join the police,” Brawly said brightly.<br />Juan couldn’t entirely endorse that under the current political situation, but it was an admirable enough sentiment. “Hm. Huey?”<br />“I just like learning stuff,” he shrugged, “and if they get to do it, I want to too.”<br />He considered the children in front of him yet again.<br />
  82. 82. “Alright,” he said grudgingly while their little faces lit up, “but there will be strict rules to this, okay? Primarily: this is for self-defence and self-defence only. Or sport, I suppose. But if I get a single report of any one you going around starting fights, it stops for all of you. And by self-defence I mean you should not be hitting first. Even if somebody’s been saying bad things to you, you do not hit them in return. And it doesn’t count if you goad the other person into hitting you first. Understood? Elliot?”<br />“Yeees…”<br />
  83. 83. “Also, if you want this so badly, I want you well behaved generally. No going around getting into trouble and winding the teachers up for fun, Elliot.”<br />“But what’s that got to do with-?” Elliot frowned.<br />“It’s got to do with me. You want me to teach you things, these are my demands. Or you can go home and ask your parents instead, but they’ll probably ask the same and be less understanding if you fail. Now do you want to do this or not?”<br />
  84. 84. “Yes Grandpa Juan,” Huey said quickly.<br />“Yes sir.”<br />Elliot just nodded.<br />“Good. We can start at the weekend then. Now go home.”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  85. 85. That night, across town, in the biggest, most lavish and expensive mansion in all of Simfield…<br />
  86. 86. Yet another birthday. With only Rymans and Harrises in attendance; Winston was working late, and Seth and Rodney had yet to show up, although they were supposed to be there.<br />Secretly all of Liv’s relatives were more than a little relieved to not have to see them, but they did feel bad for Dwayne. <br />
  87. 87. Juan especially, when a newly toddlerised Dwayne crawled over to him and tried to get his attention.<br />You poor kid, he couldn’t help but think. Growing up with the grandparents you have… And they don’t even seem to be getting any older.Let’s hope you can somehow turn out normal.<br />
  88. 88. “I’ll thank you to put my grandchild down. Right. Now. Harris.”<br />Juan suppressed his anger as he did so, before something started. He noticed with a little satisfaction that Dwayne seemed a bit disappointed.<br />
  89. 89. “I don’t even know what you’re doing here.”<br />“Liv invited us over. She actually lives here:you don’t.”<br />“I paid for most of this house-”<br />“With money you extorted-”<br />“It is mine and if Liv wants to see you for some reason she can go to your house. You don’t count as family to her – or to her kids – and I won’t have you here with them.”<br />Dwayne wasn’t happy at the angry tones, even as Seth tried to comfort him, which just made Juan more annoyed.<br />
  90. 90. “Great. Why don’t you go and tell Liv that you won’t have me here and try to explain why that is? You can tell her why you hate me, and I’ll tell her exactly why I hate you and I can assure you that my list is a lot longer. And, for your information, maybe Dwayne wouldn’t have come up to me if you’d been here instead. Just like maybe Liv wouldn’t have had me as a step-father if you’d bothered to get off your ass and interact with her when she was a toddler! You’ve got no-one to blame but yourself. And don’t worry, I’m leaving.”<br />Rodney would have sworn after him but for the young audience in the vicinity.<br />“Don’t worry Dwayne,” Seth soothed. “I know something we can do with your hair that’ll make everything better…”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  91. 91. Away from the tumultuous Jayapalan-Jalowitz branch of the family, things were a lot less strained with peaceful toddler training, chess (accompanied by a minor side of cheating), hobbies and sibling bonding. The children were, as was often the case, completely oblivious.<br />
  92. 92. And Huey didn’t spend a lot of his focus on things going on around him on the ground anyway. Ever since their run-in with the alien boy at school – who they had since discovered was called Hideki Tang – Huey had been intrigued by aliens. He wasn’t sure what Hideki had said was true about them being better, but he definitely wanted to know more. He just had yet to spot a spaceship in action outside action or sci-fi films.<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  93. 93. “Hey Mum!”<br />“Liv! Pregnant again!”<br />“Well, it’s not like I’m out-doing Jose and Tina just yet,” she laughed.<br />“True, true. It’s probably lucky Juan and I run on different schedules to them because our bedroom is right next door to theirs… Anyway, do you want to put Dwayne in the nursery with the girls, and then we can sit and chat!”<br />
  94. 94. Anna and Lydia were intrigued for all of a few moments by this slightly smaller, spikier person before they went back to their usual activities. Dwayne settled for trying to eat the crayons.<br />
  95. 95. Back in the adult world…<br />“I admit I didn’t expect to see you again quite so soon Liv.”<br />“Mmm. Well, I didn’t have much to do today besides look after Dwayne and I can do that over here, so why not?”<br />“Is that all it is?”<br />Liv sighed. “Just feeling a bit lonely. And I know I really shouldn’t say that when Dwayne is always around for me, but…”<br />“A toddler’s attentions can’t substitute for proper adult conversations,” Mia agreed solemnly.<br />
  96. 96. “It’s just that Winston’s working even longer hours, practically all he does when he’s at home is sleep before he leaves again. Dad’s got all kinds of Mayoral stuff to do so I’d feel bad asking all the time. Seth is around some of the time, but he spends most of that helping with Dwayne – which I’m grateful for, especially now I’m pregnant again – but it’s just… none of that’s really for me. I think I’m going kind of stir crazy over there, for all that we have a swimming pool and everything.”<br />
  97. 97. “Well, like I said before, you can come over here whenever you want, but I know that hanging out with your family isn’t exactly the optimum situation either.”<br />“I love talking to you Mum-”<br />“Yes, yes, I know, but I just think you might be happier if you were to invite some of your old friends over. If they have kids of their own you could even set up a play-date or something to keep the children occupied while you chat; they might be feeling similar to you.”<br />
  98. 98. “Huh. That’s a really good idea actually. I haven’t seen or really spoken to my friends in ages.”<br />“See? This could be a great time to reconnect with everyone.”<br />“Thanks Mum, I feel a lot better already! You have the best ideas.”<br />Mia smiled. “Only occasionally, but I try.”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  99. 99. And then there was another birthday!<br />The first of the Ryman cousins was becoming a teenager, which Elliot was very excited about. Everyone else, from his parents and teachers to best friends, not so much.<br />
  100. 100. For reasons that were often quickly justified.<br />“Oh my god, look how short you both are now. Seriously, can you even reach to high five me?”<br />“Yes,” Brawly replied reproachfully. “But even if I couldn’t, I can reach to hit you in the crotch.”<br />“Yeah, yeah, okay shorty.”<br />“Are you going to ditch us to hang out with teenagers now?” Huey asked sceptically.<br />
  101. 101. “Nah; all the other teens are those private school snobs – no offence, Brawls.”<br />Brawly stuck his tongue out at him.<br />“You guys aren’t that much younger than me really, and we can’t let our gang break up already! We own the school now, we have to stick together so we can own the university too! Show all those pricks like Hideki Tang who’s in charge. Right?”<br />“Yeah,” the younger boys agreed.<br />“Awesome.”<br />~~~~~~~~~~<br />
  102. 102. Luckily the rest of the family didn’t come back too late, or they would have missed a rather important occurrence. <br />“Why does this still hurt so much?! Why do I keep doing this?!”<br />
  103. 103. A lot of not-really-serious insults and threats later, Tina was holding a little boy with all of Jose’s colouring.<br />“Oh, that’s nice; two of each. Now what to call you…?”<br />
  104. 104. “Woo! Another baby!”<br />“Another one? Is this the last?”<br />“Knowing your father, probably not. But you have to love your little brother – Stern – anyway.”<br />“…That is definitely not an extremely weird name, Mum.”<br />~~~~~End of Chapter 13C~~~~~<br />