It had been a long, grueling trip to find a place that had the necessary magical properties that Fantasy Forest had, but lacked the prejudiced population. After too long on the road they had finally arrived at Forever’s End. Standing in front of their new house, emotion had overcome the inhabitants. Jenna dropped to one knee and burst into song, while Lei and Leo had celebrated with a passionate kiss. Jun and Demi had wandered into the house to explore.
They had eventually found what they assumed was their bedroom, completely decked out in Demi’s favorite color. After poking into every nook and cranny, they had plopped into a familiar cuddle.
“ You’d think that someone as amazing as you would like a more exciting color,” Jun finally broke the silence, earning a laugh and an elbow in the ribs from Demi. “ Blue is exciting. You just have to think harder.”
They giggled again, giddy chuckles that came with the great relief they were feeling. Even when the laughter stopped, the thoughtless smiles remained on their face. “ I’m so glad we’re finally here.” Jun remembered exactly why they had had to move, and added, “And alive. Very thankful for that. I love you, Demi.”
“ Prove it,” Demi teased, sliding onto his lap, needing to channel her emotions in some way other than this crazy talk and laughter.
“ Of course, Mrs. Mehntaa!” Jun eagerly complied. After a kiss or two, he pulled away.
“ I love you so much,” they said in unison, then reverted back to the old giggles.
As they clung to each other, Jun wondered aloud, “I wonder where the others are?”
Soon enough they had all made themselves at home. Demi, while an amazing policewoman, wasn’t exactly the poster girl for housewife. An attempt at mac and cheese went completely wrong, sending the stove up in flames.
While the rest of the household and guests panicked, Jenna managed to keep her cool. After all, with a husband like Diistan, she had been best buds with the FF fire brigade. Now was as good a time as any to meet the Forever’s End force.
The small kitchen was quickly filled, causing the fireman a bit of trouble, but the fire was easily extinguished.
The burnt mess was edible enough, and the hungry crowd sat down for dinner. “ Enjoying our hot tub much?” Lei raised an eyebrow at Lia’s bathing suit. “ Er, Orlando and I were debating the addition of one to our own house, and had to do some research.” “ Sure,” Lei rolled her eyes at her big sister and stood to leave. “ Suffice it to say we will be calling the hot tub company first thing in the morning.”
It was still early evening, but it was quite understandable when they all began nodding off. The guests dragged themselves to their own new homes, and Demi got someone to help her get Jun to bed.
In no time, they were all sleeping like babies. ~~~~~~~~
Early the next morning, Leo and Lei headed off to see exactly what Forever’s End. They found a cute little park, and decided on a game of chess while they were there. A man approached them while Leo began setting up the board. “ Excuse me, but I saw this board first,” he said in an obnoxious tone. Lei matched it in her reply. “ Well, you should have been faster then. Doesn’t it take two to play this game, anyway?” She raised that deadly eyebrow as she glanced around, pretending to look for the man’s partner. Seeing no one, she turned back and like a true queen, shooed him off. “Now begone from my presence.”
Once they got back to their game, Lei gave an evil smirk and cried out, “ZOMG! Isn’t that guy wearing your trademark snakeskin jacket?!”
Laughing silently, Lei quickly moved a piece or two of hers forward. “ Honey, I don’t see anybody...”
When he turned back and saw the board, her merely shook his head in disbelief. “ If I didn’t love you so much... in the future, don’t attempt this so soon in the game, ‘kay?”
For a little while the game went on without cheating.
If Leo suspected any of the “new rules” Lei kept throwing at him, he said nothing.
Eventually, a particularly difficult moment caused Lei to revert back to old tricks.
“ Oh, look, there’s that guy with your jacket again!”
Cocky expression in place, Lei got rid of the pieces that were bothering her.
“ Lei, Lei, Lei...” Leo banged his head against the board repeatedly, causing the pieces to fall. “I think we’ve had enough chess for now. And for the rest of your lifetime.”
The table was quickly occupied by someone else, and the couple wandered into a nearby gazebo.
“ Sorry I almost beat your sock off at chess,” Lei said quietly, the closest she would ever come to a real apology. “ It’s fine, love.” Leo pulled her closer and breathed in her scent. It was indescribably intoxicating. “I really do love you, Lei. Too much.” “ Me, too. In fact...”
She stood slowly, her back to Leo. “ You don’t need to do this, Lei. Not like this, if you don’t want to.” “ No, Leo. If I only do one thing the right way in my life, I want this to be it.”
Leo stood as she dropped to one knee. “Leo Trottier, would you do me the honor of letting me become your wife?”
“ The honor would be only mine, dearest.” She presented him a diamond ring in a small velvet box.
He slid it onto his finger as she scrambled to her feet. “ Do you like it?” she asked eagerly, like a little girl offering a drawing.
“ Love it,” he corrected, pulling her into a hug.
“ I can’t wait,” she sighed into his shoulder. “This is gonna be epic.”
“ I heard about this restaurant, Le Magnifique. Shall we check it out?”
“ So when’s the wedding?” the waiter asked, gesturing at the rings.
“ If I have any say in the matter, as soon as possible,” Leo answered, blowing Lei a kiss.
Lei had barely began to take a bite when she saw Leo’s empty plate. “ Whoa, hungry much?” “ Sorry,” he said with an embarrassed laugh. Lei just rolled her eyes.
“ Dessert’s on me!” Leo offered, once his plate had been removed. “ Can you wait for me to finish my dinner?” Lei joked, taking her second bite. “ Oh. Right.”
After she finished they ordered dessert, then waited with fingers intertwined.
“ Oh, I get it now,” Lei said as she watched Leo shove the entire dish into his mouth. “That’s how you do your disappearing act thing. Huh.” ~~~~~~~~~~
Back home, the brand new appliances turned out to be not as wonderful as promised. Demi attacked the garbage disposal first, jabbing her screwdriver into the circuits.
That might not have been such a wonderful idea.
She groaned and tried to regain her balance, hair wild and body blackened.
Just then her father in law entered, then gasped in shock. “ Oh no! You’re in your underwear!” ~~~~~~~~
A few days passed monotonously, until one morning Demi was jerked awake by a wave of nausea. She had the presence of mind to avoid her own bathroom, and instead ran to Leo and Lei’s.
She didn’t pay much attention to the incident until it happened again. This time she headed directly for the guest bathroom. Then it happened again. After she spent the whole day throwing up in other people’s bathrooms, she decided she was most definitely pregnant. ~~~~~~~
That same day Lei abruptly pulled Leo aside and declared she was ready to get married. We should get jerseys cause we make a great team But yours would look better than mine, cause you're outta my league And I know that it's so cliche to tell you that everyday I spend with you is the new best day of my life Everyone watching us just turns away with disgust It's jealousy, they can see that we've got it going on
And I'm racking my brain for a new improved way To let you know you’re more to me than what I know how to say You're okay with the way this is going to be This is going to be thing we've ever seen
If anyone can make me a better person you could All I gotta say is I must’ve done something good I came along one day and you rearranged my life All I gotta say is I must’ve done something right I must’ve done something right
Maybe I'm just lucky cause it's hard to believe Believe that somebody like you'd end up with someone like me And I know that it's so cliche to talk about you this way But I'll push all my inhibitions aside It's so very obvious to everyone watching us That we have got something real good going on
And I'm racking my brain for a new improved way To let you know you’re more to me than what I know how to say You're okay with the way this is going to be This is going to be thing we've ever seen “ Must Have Done Something Right” , Relient K
Shortly after the impromptu wedding, Demi’s suspicions were confirmed once and for all.
“ Jun and Demi have done their part. When are you gonna be giving me my grandbabies?” Diistan asked Lei later that night. “ Don’t worry, Dad, we’re on it,” Lei answered, strangely comfortable with the odd conversation.
Diistan’s wishes came true sooner than Lei liked.
“ Welcome to the wonderful world of pregnancy, sis,” Demi joked as she turned to give the other woman a bit of privacy. ~~~~~~~~~
Leo’s distraction might have been due to his pregnant wife, but it led to potential disaster. “ Shoot, I left my glasses in the room again. I wonder what this weird light is?” Leo leaned closer to examine the microwave, then jumped back.
“ Aaagh! It’s a fire!!” he cried out. Jenna, meanwhile, was worried about something else. “ Are you blind, boy!? Couldn’t you see that?!”
Lei later said it was the shock of discovering her husband’s sunglasses were not just a fashion statement that caused her belly to pop, but it might have been the fire. Or maybe it was a common side effect of pregnancy.
Later that night Demi felt a pang in her belly that could only be one thing. “ Jun! Wake up! Baaaaayybeeeee!!!!!!!!”
Jenna heard her cries and rushed in to welcome her newest grandchild. “ Breathe, girl. No more screaming!”
Despite her mother-in-law’s reprimands and sister-in-law’s screams, Demi gave birth to a lovely baby girl. She had her grandmother’s red hair and her mother’s brown eyes. It was hard to recognize any other features at this age, but one thing was sure: she was adorable.
Jenna smiled in satisfaction. At last, her genes were doing their work.
“ Jun, get over here and see your daughter,” Jenna called. “ Hold on a sec, Mom. Gotta update my blog about this!”
It only took one look from his mother to send Diistan running to see his baby.
Demi handed their new daughter to the eager grandmother.
“ Love at first sight,” Jenna murmured as she cuddled little Rhiannon.
Not everyone was quite as eager to care for the newest addition to the family. “ I’ll give you twenty bucks, man! Please!” Jun pleaded. “ Make it fifty,” Leo grunted. Jun quickly complied.
“ All the money in the world isn’t worth this!” Leo decided a few minutes later as he changed Rhiannon’s diaper. After finishing with the nasty work, he held the smiling baby for a few more seconds. “Maybe it isn’t so ba--Aaagh!”
He practically tossed the girl into her crib and ran to take a shower. ~~~~~~~
Lei refused to let something like a pregnancy hold her back, and insisted on repairing the dishwasher herself.
Diistan gently but firmly told her that is she harmed his grandbaby, he would not be happy.
Lei joined Demi for a quick game of SSX3 before heading off to take a shower.
She never quite made it to the bathroom, though. “ LLLLEEEEOOOO! Wait, he’s at work. AAANNEEEEBOOODEEEEEE!!!!”
‘ Anybody’ turned out to be the maid, Jun, and Demi. “ Not you guys!!! Where’s Mom and Dad?”
The maid abruptly headed for the door. “I though births were supposed to be exciting, but this is kind of dull.” “ Dull!! I’ll show you dull! OOOOWWW!”
Within seconds she held a bouncing baby boy in her arms. He had his father’s black hair and gray eyes that could be Jenna’s or Leo’s.
“ I’m glad you guys are happy, but I stink to high heaven and am about to pass out,” Lei complained.
“ Seriously?” Demi asked. “ Yes, seriously!” Lei snapped, leaning dangerously to one side.
“ His name is Ransom,” she said softly as she passed the baby to Demi.
When Leo got home from work, he hurried to see his new son. The baby smiled widely, but Leo first noticed the smell.
“ Well, he did change Rhiannon’s diaper that one time, so it’s only fair,” Demi mused as she took care of Ransom’s problem. ~~~~~
After the babies were taken care of, Demi inspected the machine Jenna had given her. Sometime during the move Demi had developed an unwanted urge for fifty first dates, and Jenna had provided the solution.
“ Only use it when you feel very, very good, ” the older woman had warned. Demi’s head was already in the opening when she considered how she felt. Actually, she was a bit sleepy, and she really had to use the bathroom...
The machine started making odd noises, and a red smoke filled the air.
Demi let out a cry and shoved the machine away from her, then cast a worried glance at the screen.
Diistan had missed the birthday because of work and came in to see the sleeping toddlers later.
Unfortunately for him, Ransom was a light sleeper and began stirring at his touch.
Before Diistan could realize what was happening, the little boy was squalling, and Rhiannon had woken at the sound. “ Diistan, you’re losing your touch,” he reprimanded himself as he scrambled to quiet the toddlers.
Jenna came to his rescue and began teaching Ransom how to walk.
Ransom, however, was perfectly content crawling and was quite loud about it.
Diistan had taken the task of teaching Rhiannon to talk, which also proved to be no easy feat.
“ Jenna, do you remember our children being so... opinionated ?” Diistan finally asked. Jenna quickly agreed that these two were definitely much more of a handful.
“ Wyanon?” Ransom lisped as the two played in the dollhouse, finally rid of their pesky grandparents. “ What?”
“ Awe you my fwend?” “ Silly! Of couwse I am,” Rhiannon giggled.
“ Will we be fwends fowevew and evew?” Ransom asked before filling his mouth with a doll. “ Yeah, we will. Stop asking funny questions!”
“ We can make a pact!” Ransom squealed suddenly. “ Yeah! With these dollies!” Rhiannon quickly agreed.
“ M’kay. I pwomise to be youw fwend fowevew and always.” “ And I’ll lub you fow as long as I live.”
The toddlers held the dolls before their faces solemnly.
“ Bottoms up!” Ransom giggled, and they tipped their heads back and bit the dolls.
“ Was this convewsation vewy weiwd fow two-yeaw-olds?” Rhiannon asked through a mouthful. “ Pwobably.” “ Cool!” ~~~~~~~~~~
She watched out of the corner of her eye as the man riffled through a drawer for her payment. The silence was deafening, and she couldn’t resist filling it.
“ I don’t usually do this kind of thing, you know,” she blabbered. “Not on purpose, anyway.”
He shut the drawer with a thump . “Sure you don’t, Lady Sorrow .” He said the name she had given mockingly. She didn’t let it bother her. After all, he hadn’t given any name at all, real or fake.
He sat down across from her again, tossing a wad of bills at her. “Stop your whining and I might consider adding to it.” She sat a little straighter and clenched her teeth, though she hadn’t been planning on saying anything else. The man continued, “Now, are we clear on what you are to do, my dearest Lady Sorrow?” ~~~~~
Anybody into sports in Forever’s End worked out at the Official FE Gym, whether they were mascots, MVPs, or not yet part of the scene.
Leo, part of the local team, the Llamas, was no exception. After a long workout, he was talking to his friend Al in the lobby. “ Please, please, please Al. My car broke down and I need a ride. And you know how slow the bus is!”
“ I’d love to, pal, but I didn’t bring my car. One of the other guys gave me a ride here, and I was hoping you would give me a ride back.”
“ What are we gonna do now? I am so not riding that smelly bus. Last time I did there was this old lady who kept--”
“ Wait!” Al interrupted. “Aren’t you married now? Call up the wife and get her to come get us!”
Wondering why he hadn’t thought of that before, Leo asked one of the receptionists to lend him the phone.
“ Lei? This is really embarrassing, but could you come get me and a friend at the Gym? Thanks, I owe you big time!”
Half an hour later, Al and Leo were still waiting. “ Leo, are you sure your gal’s coming?” Al asked doubtfully. “ Yeah, man, she probably got sidetracked with the baby or someth--”
He was interrupted by a shrill screech. Both men flinched and turned to a perky looking blonde who was practically hyperventilating. “ NO! WAY!” another shriek, then “NO! EFFING! WAY!”
Al and Leo gave each other a look, then turned back to Blonde&Bubbly, who was bouncing up and down and yelping as though in pain.
“ You bet your cute little face I’m okay!! How can I not be okay when I’m breathing the same air as the most amazing sports superstars out there!?!”
“ I just can’t believe it!! I’m actually talking to the Leo Mehntaa and... and... you !” She gave Al a passing glance, then turned her attention back to Leo.
“ You’re actually a fan of the Llamas?” Leo was surprised. They weren’t exactly the best team out there. “ Hey, look! Your wife’s finally here, let’s go.” Al was tugging Leo away from the girl, who was still shrieking about something.
However, once the girl heard the word wife , she had practically attacked Leo with a kiss.
Once Leo realized what was happening he shoved the blonde off of him. The damage had already been done, though.
Lei ran up and faced Leo, stamping her foot like a child throwing a tantrum. “How dare you!!”
She lifted her hand and slapped Leo across the face with all her strength.
He reeled back, vaguely noticing that the other girl had completely disappeared. Then his head started spinning. Man, she was strong.
“ I hate you,” his wife hissed, and Leo knew she meant it. He heard it in her voice, saw it in her eyes, and still felt it stinging on his face. If there was such a thing as true love, he was now the victim of true hate.
“ Al saw what happened, it’s not what you think,” he blurted. They both turned to the redhead.
Al gave one look at Lei’s expression and turned the other way. “I... I’m g-gonna c-c-cath the b-b-bus bef-f-fore it l-leaves, b-bye!” Leo groaned as his last bit of hope ran off.
“ Please, I know this sounds lame but I wasn--” “ Save it. Now you better go catch the bus, too. I hear it’s the last one back home ‘til tomorrow.”
“ Wait, home?” Leo was hopeful. “You mean...?” “ You’re lucky you have a son, Leo Trottier . And you’re lucky I believe a child should have two parents.” She was already walking away muttering under her breath. “I can’t believe I let that slime touch me, much less impregnate me, that good-for-nothing cheater...” ~~~~~~~~
Later that night, Leo realized that staying at home wasn’t really that great.
Not to mention the couch was supremely uncomfortable. ~~~~~~
Over a breakfast of grilled cheese, prepared especially by Demi, Jun asked Lei what was up with her and Leo. “ I’m fine. And he ,” she practically spit the word out, “is probably fine, too, making sure he’s nice and fit for that girlfriend of his, with her tiny shorts and skin tight top and giant--” a particularly loud clunk from the exercise machine drowned out the rest of her detailed description of the mystery girl.
“ What shall I name my skateboarder, hmm? Oh, how about Leo Trottier , how clever! Now I can make him fly off the cliff, over and over and over again! Yay!” “ Lei...” Leo warned, then realized he had nothing else to say. He flopped back onto the machine.
Some time later, Demi decided to join Leo for a friendly work out session. She was surprised when Leo immediately left. “ No use getting her worked up over us, too!” He called out over his shoulder, too cheerful.
“ ...and then Lei showed up, and you can probably imagine the rest.” Leo finished telling the true tale to his in-laws. “ It’s fine, Leo. We understand how Lei is, don’t worry about us.”
Then Lei popped in. “Come on, Dad, beat him to a pulp! Then I’ll do it in real life!” “ Lei!” Jenna scolded. “ Great, now you’re on his side, too? I’m your daughter, for crying out loud!”
Lei was shocked to discover that pretty much everyone was, as she put it, “on his side.”
“ Listen, Demi, when you catch Jun cheating on you like that, you can tell me what I should do. But since you haven’t, just shut up.”
To make matters worse, Ransom seemed to have developed Milkglow Syndrome. Unfortunately it didn’t affect his mischievous streak.
“ Haha! I can walk but you cwawl like a baby!” Ransom cackled as the two fled the nursery. “ But I can talk without that silly lisp,” Rhiannon shot back. “ Touche,” Ransom stopped, then added, “should I know big wowds like that?” “ No.” “ Cool!”
While the two attacked toilets all around the house, the adults were having breakfast. When Leo arrived and took the only available spot next to Lei, the others took note on how she shifted slightly away in her seat and completely ignored him, and how he turned his face away and looked at everyone but her.
“ I don’t know what you guys think, but I believe this has gone waaay too far,” Jun finally addressed the elephant in the room. “ Shut up, Jun,” Lei said between clenched teeth. Leo had opened his mouth to speak, but decided against whatever his reply had been.
Diistan cleared his throat, and was pleased when they all had the decency to turn and listen to an old man. When he glanced at Lei and Leo, he found their hurt expressions similar. No, more than similar: the pain in their eyes was identical. They were suffering equally, though because of different things.
While shocked a bit at his discovery, he continued on with what he’d been about to say. “ Well, you better make up soon ‘cause I want more grandbabies!” ~~~~~~~~~
Jenna tried to confront Lei later, but her daughter was getting tired of everyone seemingly siding against her. “I swear, Mom, if you try to tell me one more time how he was attacked by that girl and had nothing to do with it, I’ll jump out the window. Literally.” So Jenna said nothing, because she knew that Lei would keep her word. ~~~~~~
Eventually, Lei began to despair. How dare they all tell her what to do when they hadn’t even been there? They hadn’t seen what she had seen. She had to get out of here.
She decided to buy a small business in Bluewater like she and Leo had always dreamed of. But the jerk isn’t here , she remembered with a grin.
She took out the papers to the small store and read the name again. Little and Local . Cute. She took a pen out of her pocket and lightly added another word. Lei’s . Lei’s Little and Local . It looked so wonderful, especially since it was only one name. Hers.
She glanced around. It was rather small, but it would do.
She was amazed at how easily the locals could be convinced to buy the somewhat useless objects.
However, the cash register was much harder to use than she’d expected. Not being able to figure it out confused Lei. She wasn’t used to not being able to do something, or to being confused.
Just like with Leo , she realized. She didn’t hate him as much as she hated not being 100% sure about what had happened. The more she had though about it, the more confusing it had gotten, and the more she had turned her confusion into anger directed solely at him.
Just then the drawer slammed open, folding her in half and knocking her breath out for a second or two. It also knocked a tear out of her eye, and she watched in awe as it fell, then slowly spread over a bill. Like the ice spreading over my heart . She stared at the tear for a full minute. She couldn’t remember crying before. It was time to go home. ~~~~~~~
When she got home, she found that Demi had made sandwiched again. The two women sat down to eat, at first making small talk, pondering about who had left the filthy bowl there. Lei somehow managed to avoid accusing Leo.
Finally Demi addressed the real matter. “No matter what you decide, Lei, we’ll stand by you. You are more than a friend to me, you’re like the sister I always dreamed of when I was small. And I know that you’re Jun’s best friend. We love you, Lei.” Though they had probably already said that to her on other occasions, Lei felt her heart swell, and once again the unfamiliar feeling in her eyes. She touched her hand to her face slightly, and then studied the dampness. Tears again . What was happening to her? ~~~~~~~~
That night the toddlers’ birthday was coming again. Though Rhiannon was the eldest, Ransom convinced his daddy to let him go first.
The first thing he said when he was a child was “Oh no! I grew up in my pajamas!”
Grabbing a slice of cake, he taunted his cousin. “Hey, little baby Rhiannon, how’s it feel to be the little one, hmm?” Rhiannon asked her uncle why he’d let Ransom go first. He had no good excuse. “Favoritism,” Rhiannon concluded.
Leo glanced at his son, who had somehow managed to get the entire slice of cake into his mouth. Like father, like son.
“ Finally,” Rhiannon said when Leo turned his attention back to her birthday. “Not only did everyone have to work on our birthday, but the one person here is easily distracted.”
“ You grew up in your PJs too!” Ransom called out, while Rhiannon examined her new body. How did hair grow so fast?
After the two had changed into everyday clothes, Ransom called Rhiannon over to talk. “ I was wondering, now that we’re big, will we still be friends forever?”
“ Of course!” Rhiannon practically shouted. Her hair bounced slightly. Now that it was longer, it had been slowly curling, like her mother’s. “Why wouldn’t we, Ransom?”
“ I don’t know, I was just wondering.” “ Ooh, you know what? We need to renew the pact!”
“ I am not sticking those dolls in my mouth again, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”
“ No, I have a better idea,” Rhiannon said, dropping to the floor. Ransom tentatively joined her. “Mary Mack!”
Just then Demi towered over them with a plate of sandwiches. “Dinner, kids?” The two looked at each other with a smile. “I have an even better idea,” Ransom began. They finished in unison, “Grilled cheese!”
When they stood to eat, Rhiannon abruptly gathered Ransom into a hug. “I love you, Ransom.” “ I love you, too.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~