BRRL - Gen Five - Part Five


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Boolpropian Round Robin Legacy - Generation Five - Part Five

Staring Ainesly Doran, continuing her story as her family quickly grows up and she wonders if their happiness can last.

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BRRL - Gen Five - Part Five

  1. 1. “Daddy, Daddy, you’re home!” Hero came rushing out of the house as the carpool pulled up, her feet barely touching the ground. As Puck got out of the car, she tackled him almost before the door could be closed behind him. “Feet on the ground, Hero.” Despite the quick admonishment, Puck couldn’t help but smile as he scooped her up into a sweeping hug, “I can see that someone’s a little excited.” “It’s birthday day, Daddy! You didn’t forget did you?” “Of course not, sweetie.”
  2. 2. Still dancing from foot to foot, Hero said, “Mommy said we had to wait until you got home before the party could get started. She said nobody would get here until after you get home. Aunt Bo and Uncle Merc and Uncle Ty and Aunt Jaiden wouldn’t come until then. Is it true Cally is already a teenager, Daddy? Why does he get to be a teenager first. I told him I’d be a teenager first so I’m gonna be sad if he won.” Laughing, Puck hugged her back, “One thing at a time, Hero. Normal people can only handle one question at a time. Come on, let’s get inside and help your mother get everything ready. Today’s a big day for all of you.” As she bounced along at his side, he added with a proud smile, “It’s not every day all five of my children have a birthday at once.”
  3. 3. Inside, one of the birthday girls was staring up at the fish tank intently. Rosalind tilted her head from one side to the other before asking in a serious and inquisitive tone, “Do bubbles tickle?” In response, the fish swam around the tank. She nodded and seemed to listen intently before she smiled brightly and seemed to answer back, “I like tickles too.” “Rosa silly!”
  4. 4. The little girl turned to see Lysander toddling out of the nursery and up to the fish tank beside her, “I not silly. You silly!” Plopping down on his bottom, her twin looked at her and then up at the fish tank, “Why you talkin’ to da fish, Rosa?” She blinked her ebony eyes a few times as she absorbed the question. Finally she said, “‘cause I like stories.” “Fish don’ tell stories. Mama and Dada tell stories.” A little frown furrowed her brow, “I like fish stories too. They have bubbles.”
  5. 5. Getting back to his feet, Lysander reiterated, “Rosa silly. Fish don’ tell stories.” “Yes they do!” “No they don’t!” Her little face formed a pout and she plopped down onto her bottom as she responded sullenly, “Do too.”
  6. 6. Lysander saw her expression and immediately felt bad, “No cry, Rosa! Me loves you even if you silly and think fishes talk.” A smile formed, “Me loves you too, Lys.” “HUG!” Grinning from ear to ear, he stood up and held open his arms, “Hug my sissy! Me loves you!”
  7. 7. Rosa laughed as she hugged her brother as tight as she could, “Me loves you, and mama and daddy, and Hewo, and babies. And me loves fishes! Maybe they talk to you when we get bigger!” “Too tight, Rosa! Too tight!”
  8. 8. Lysander was rescued by his biggest sister as she took both toddlers into the nursery to the art table. It was her job to keep them distracted while Puck and Ainsley finished setting up for the party. Hero may have been hyper and excited about her upcoming birthday, but she took her duties as big sister very importantly. Even the two littlest Dorans were nearby to be kept occupied while the house was readied.
  9. 9. Portia and Sebastian were far too young to understand the importance of the day. For them, the extent of their excitement was in the little dangling things hanging over their heads. They might have been excited about becoming toddlers if they’d understood what that meant. For now they were simply happy to swat at the dangling llamas over their heads. *~*~*~*~*~*
  10. 10. “Do I have to go to this kiddie party, Dad?” Caliban asked with a hint of a whine. Tybalt responded with a frown and a sigh that he knew was painfully reminiscent of his grandfather’s no matter how he tried to have patience with the rebellious teenager, “Cal, you’ve been friends with Hero since you were little. She was just at your birthday party, so I think you can attend her party without complaint. Am I understood?” Andromache, his youngest, danced with her mother as she asked innocently, “Mama, are Daddy and Cally going to start yelling at each other again?” Jaiden quirked a smile and looked up at her husband and son with a bemused expression, “No Andi, they will not. In fact, if both of them do not behave, I’ll send them home without cake.”
  11. 11. Nearby, another lecture was taking place, “This is your Uncle Puck and Aunt Aine’s house, so I expect you two to behave yourself. Even if they say it is okay, I do not want any shenanigans. This means no couch forts, no switching the sugar and salt, and definitely no moving the fish into the bathtub to ‘give them more room’. Your Uncle Pendelton still refuses to let you two anywhere near his ...” Bottom paused and quirked an eyebrow at her two children. Neither of them was hearing a word she was saying. Heaving a sigh, she asked even though she knew she was going to regret it, “Valentine and Faith, what are you laughing at?”
  12. 12. “Daddy!” The twin boy and girl pointed at their father as he continued making faces just out of Bottom’s line of sight. Rolling her eyes while hiding a smile she gave a theatrical sigh, “I’m surrounded by clowns. Come on you bozos. Let’s head inside for the party.” “Yay!” “And remember what I said about the fish. Absolutely no fish in the bathtub!’
  13. 13. “Daddy, everyone’s here! It’s time for..” Hero rushed into the nursery only to be stopped by an invisible wall of odor, “STINKY!” Holding her nose, she recoiled from the smell, “That smells AWFUL, Daddy!” Puck chuckled, “Portia isn’t going to want a stinky diaper for when she turns into a toddler, kiddo. Head on out and let everyone know we’ll be out in a moment.”
  14. 14. First up were the youngest twins, mostly for practical reasons. As toddlers, they’d need a little less attention than infants, allowing Puck and Ainsley a chance to help the other kids with their cakes and enjoy the rest of their guests. Not to mention everyone was really excited to see who the twins were going to be. Puck and Ainsley may have been surprised by the pregnancy that gave them Portia and Sebastian, but it didn’t mean they loved their youngest children any less than the others. Still, no matter how much they loved their children, they’d decided that they were done at five.
  15. 15. It just took a moment of candles and confetti, but Portia and Sebastian soon joined the party as toddlers. Everyone decided that Portia, of all the Doran children, looked most like her mother. She had her mother’s nose and mouth, even if she got her father’s eyebrows. Sebastian, on the other hand, looked more like Puck. He had his mother’s jaw, but everything else came from his father. As far as personality went, Sebastian was quietly inquisitive as he looked around at his surroundings. The first thing he did after being set down on the floor was pick up something and put it in his mouth to see what it was. Portia also had an intent stare, but she was watching the people more than anything else.
  16. 16. Once the youngest were taken care of, the next pair of cakes were brought out for the older twins. For a very brief moment, there were four toddlers in the house. Luckily for Ainsley and Puck, that didn’t last nearly long enough to make either of them feel like pulling their hair out. “Cake!” “Hang on, Rosa. We need to blow out the candles first.”
  17. 17. Rosalind and Lysander may have been twins, but they looked absolutely nothing alike. They shared some features of their parents (like Ainsley’s jaw and Puck’s brow), but beyond that, no one would ever suspect them of being twins. In spite of that, they were definitely as close as any pair of twins had ever been.
  18. 18. Last, but definitely not least, it was Hero’s turn. They brought out the fifth and last cake of the evening even as some of the adults were groaning at the sugar rush the children were going to have from so much cake. Hero stood in front of her cake and looked around at all the guests. For a moment she thought about what she wanted out of life now that she was going to be a teenager. After a moment she grinned and leaned forward to blow out the candles. Time to grow up.
  19. 19. “Look at you, Hero!” Titania gushed as her eldest grandchild reappeared after a quick makeover, “You’ve grown up into such a lovely young woman, dear. It’s hard to believe I held you as a baby just a while ago.” “Grandma, you’re going to embarrass me!” Still, Hero smiled at the compliment, “Do you really think I’m pretty?” “Dear, you are positively stunning.” Titania tilted her head and asked, “I saw you thinking very hard about your wish, did you decide what you want?”
  20. 20. Hero smiled, “You know I can’t tell you that, Grandma. Then it won’t come true, will it?” Chuckling, Titania nodded, “That is true. Still, you can give this old woman a hint, can’t you? Do you wish for fortune? Fame? Love? Adventure?” “Grandma, you are not old! You look the same age as mom and dad.” “Shush dear. You’re avoiding the question.”
  21. 21. Unable to help herself, Hero smiled, “I won’t tell you what I wished for, but I will tell you that I want to be like mom. Family is the most important thing in the world.” Titania considered that for a moment before giving an approving nod, “Very good. It suits you.” She smiled, “Come dear, I see two seats open at the Llama game. You can show me how to play.” Hero rolled her eyes but followed along, “Grandma, you beat everyone at this game except me.” With a knowing glance over her shoulder, Titania smiled, “That’s because you can cheat without anyone knowing it, dear.”
  22. 22. “Gah.” “Huh?” Caliban looked down and blinked at the toddler suddenly demanding his attention. “You want me to get your mom, kid?” Portia tilted her head and regarded him for another moment before she demanded again, “Gah.” “Uh.” The young man looked around, looking to see what to do. “I don’t do bottles or diapers, kid.” Screwing her face up in frustration, Portia demanded again, “Gah!”
  23. 23. “Just pay some attention to her, Cally.” Hero glanced over her shoulder from where she danced with Rosalind, “She just wants to say hi.” “Oh. Okay.” Crouching down, he pet the little girl on the head like she was a dog, “Hi Portia. I’m Caliban.” Despite the demeaning way he was treating her, Portia smiled happily and stated succinctly, “Gah.”
  24. 24. “GAH!” Nearby, Sebastian was also interacting with the guests, but he was obvious distressed by something as he pointed at Oberon with an upset expression, “Gah!” The man turned around and regarded the little boy with a raised eyebrow, “What do you want?” Catching sight of Titania out of the corner of his eye, he quirked a smile, “You’re the one they’re calling Sebastian, aren’t you?” “Gah!”
  25. 25. Bending down and scooping up the little boy, Oberon arched an eyebrow, “So what do you want, hmm? Being nice should earn me a few points with Titania, little man.” Instead of being happy that he’d been picked up, Sebastian’s eyes widened and he began shaking. His breathing started growing quicker and he looked around with a panicked expression on his face as he searched for a familiar face. “Oh.. oh no.. no no, don’t..”
  26. 26. “WAAAAAHHHH!” Sebastian let loose with a wail that belied the size of his lungs. Everyone at the party turned to look at Oberon as the little boy threw his head back and howled.
  27. 27. “You look like you could use a little help there.” Ainsley came over with a gentle smile. “I think he might be a little tired.” Oberon gritted his teeth as he hung onto the thrashing toddler. “Here, let me take him.” Ainsley held her arms out and Oberon happily handed the child to her.
  28. 28. Instantly, Sebastian quieted. He wrapped his chubby arms around his mother’s neck and held on tight as he whimpered, “Gah.” “It’s alright, Sebastian. It’s okay. Mama’s here.” She soothed the little boy and moved away. Left behind, Oberon looked out the window with a scowl. *~*~*~*~*~*
  29. 29. Kal sighed and swung his leg over the silk fabric of the chair as he gave an irritated sound of frustration, “This is ridiculous. I’m bored, Kern. I did not sign on for this.”
  30. 30. “You signed on for a job, Kal, you stick it out until the job is done.” Kern ignored him as she turned past him and the others to turn towards the bookcase. Kal growled, “I’d rather be in the city. There’s nothing to do here in North Forest.” “Don’t let the elders hear you say that.” Her voice was cold and emotionless as she stated that fact, “We already stand out as being too enamored with the violence of human culture.” Under her breath she added, “Not that this prevents them from using us to hunt down half-breeds they deem embarrassing.” Tolan, the newest member of the mercenary group turned from his game and smirked, “I heard a rumor that the elder council is getting a bit miffed with our esteemed benefactor anyway. He may not have the funding to keep us on retainer for much longer.”
  31. 31. Kal rolled his eyes and shifted uncomfortably, “Why would they shun their golden boy now after letting him have free reign for this long?” With malicious delight, Tolan laughed, “Well, the elders found out that Summerdream’s eldest half-breed bastard married one of the Dorans. They’ve been hot to stamp out that particular stain on elven purity for generations. Gossamer promised them he’d take care of the wayward Summerdream, her brats, AND the Dorans.” “How the hell do you know all this anyway?” With an effeminate toss of his hair, the man smirked again, “I have my ways.”
  32. 32. “In other words, one of the elders has a big mouth and a taste for fops that think they’re badass.” Kern pulled a book off the shelf and turned around. “Now that was uncalled for, Kern.” The man turned towards her with a threatening glare. She silently returned the glare and he quickly backed down. Dusting off the book’s cover, she said, “We’re paid regardless of whether or not Gossamer gives us a job. That was the terms of the deal. If he fails to come up with a plan, it falls on his shoulder, not ours. I know I certainly don’t mind getting a chance to live in quiet luxury for the time being.”
  33. 33. “Let him waste his money if he wants. His failure won’t be on our shoulders.” “Whose failure, Kern?” Oberon stood at the bottom of the stairs with a glare directed at each one of his hired mercenaries. Kal quickly straightened in his seat, putting both feet on the floor. Kern swallowed and stated soothingly, “We were simply debating when you would come to us with a plan, Oberon.” She hesitated and then added, “There are rumors that the elder council is displeased at how long it is taking to deal with the Summerdream and Doran issue.”
  34. 34. “There are, are there?” Oberon frowned even deeper before he snarled and turned to go back up the stairs, “They’ll be taken care of, don’t worry.” *~*~*~*~*~*
  35. 35. “Hero! We’re gonna go play in the backyard!” The bellowed voice came from outside the kitchen window, proving the speaker was already in the backyard. Looking up from making lunch, Hero called back, “Okay, but don’t go far, I’ll have lunch ready soon.” Now that she was a teenager, the young woman took her responsibility as babysitter very seriously.
  36. 36. “Let’s play hide-and-seek!” Rosalind pointed at Lysander, “You can be it.” “Why do I have to be it?” Lysander regarded her with a bit of a pout, “I’m always it.” Rosalind explained patiently, “You’re always it because I think of the game. When you think of the game, I can be it first. Until then, you get to be it.” “Well, what if we play something else first then.” Lysander asked hopefully. “Like.. uh.. uhm..” He tried and failed to think of a different game they could play together.
  37. 37. “Uh uh! I thought of the game first, you’re it.” She grinned and turned and started to run off, “Close your eyes and count and I’ll hide.” Lysander frowned after her for a moment before calling out, “Rosa, we’re not supposed to go into the woods. You can’t hide there.” “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING!” She yelled back before she added, “I’m not gonna go far. Now start counting, Lysa ‘fore I call you a cheater!”
  38. 38. “Fine! And don’t call me Lysa!” Lysander grumbled as he walked over to an apple tree and covered his eyes. “One. Two. Three. Four.” He continued on for a few moments before he grumbled, “Someday she’ll have to be it first. READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!”
  39. 39. Running into the woods in search of a good hiding spot, Rosalind’s little legs carried her further into the trees until her brother’s counting faded from hearing. Once she’d reached a thicket of trees far enough back, she looked around for the perfect hiding spot, “Ooh. Right there!”
  40. 40. Dashing over to some bushes, she suddenly froze and tilted her head to listen, “Is.. is s.someone there? I know somebody’s c.crying. Is everything okay?” Biting nervously down on her lower lip, she edged towards the sound. Coming around a large bush, she stopped and her eyes widened, “Oh. You’re hurt!”
  41. 41. Without a care to the consequences, she rushed over to the whimpering dog and knelt down. Her breath caught as she saw the extent of the damage, “You’re bleeding.” The dog quivered as she cringed backwards from Rosa, but as the girl spoke softly and touched her gently, she quickly calmed. “It’s okay, I would never hurt you.” Rosalind got a closer look at the visible wounds on the dog. Her voice hitched as tears threatened to come, “Who did this to you?” The dog tilted her head up and looked into Rosalind’s eyes. “Oh, I’m so sorry! one should ever treat anyone like that. It’s so mean to that type of thing to hurt someone like that. It’s not right.” With a messy and heartfelt sniffle, she said shakily, “Hang on, I’m going to get help.”
  42. 42. Moving to the edge of the thicket, she called out as loud as she could, “LYSANDER! LYSA!!! HELP! I NEED YOU, LYSA! HELP!!!” In the distance, a panicked voice could be heard calling in response, “Rosa!? I’m coming!”
  43. 43. Uncaring for the scratches his legs were getting from the bushes and trees he was barreling through, Lysander came rushing into the thicket, “Rosa? What’s wrong? What happened?” He skidded to a stop, leaving a furrow of mud through the grass as he saw her and the dog, “Rosa get back! It might be rabid!” “She’s not rabid, Lysa. She’s hurt. Someone hurt her real bad.” Rosalind’s voice caught on another sob as she tried to keep it together. The boy looked from his sister to the dog with confusion. Uncertain, he reached out and tried to pull her away from the wounded animal.
  44. 44. Whipping around to face him, Rosalind begged, “Lysa, you’ve got to make it all better. Please? Please, you have to! She’s hurt so bad.” His expression grew confused as he scratched his head, “We.. we can go get Hero. She’ll know what to do.” Rosalind shook her head, “She’s too hurt to move and she doesn’t have t.time, Lysa. Please, you’ve got to make it all better. I know you can. I p.promised you’d make it all better.” Tears threatened as she clasped her hands together while she pleaded with him. “But Rosa..” “Please Lysa? Please? I’ll always be it first from now on. Forever and ever.”
  45. 45. Lysander sighed and ran his hand through his hair and across the back of his neck in a gesture that was reminiscent of his father. Looking past his sister, he watched the pitifully abused dog whimper and try to clean her wounds. Looking at the pitiful beast, something inside of him clicked. Somehow, he knew exactly what was damaged and what needed to be done to fix it. “I… I’ll try, Rosa.”
  46. 46. Moving cautiously over to the dog’s side, he slowly knelt down. He definitely did not have Rosalind’s utter lack of fear when it came to animals. Suddenly a touch of doubt snuck in, “This might not work, Rosa.” “I know you can do it, Lysa. You gotta try.” Rosalind stood back and twisted her hands worriedly as she began to sniffle again, “She says she wants to go to sleep and that would be bad, wouldn’t it?” “Yes, I.. I think so.”
  47. 47. As Rosalind watched, Lysander took a deep, steadying breath and held his hands out towards the dog, almost as if he were feeling the air around her. Rosalind tried to be quiet, but finally asked worriedly, “What are you doing?” “I don’t know.” Wincing, Lysander kept his hands hovering over the dog “It ... I can feel what’s wrong with her.” His breath suddenly caught as he felt his hands suddenly grow warm. He was far too young to have the words to explain what was happening, but he instinctively understood what was broken inside the battered dog and what needed to be done to fix it. Again, Rosalind whimpered and asked, “Is.. is it working?”
  48. 48. “Shhh.” Lysander closed his eyes with his hands barely an inch from the dog’s side. Though he had no name for the organs, muscles and bones that were damaged, he could picture how they were supposed to look. Scrunching his face in concentration, he focused as hard as he could while the damaged pieces began to knit themselves back into something whole and healthy. “Lysa! Is it working!? Did you fix her?” Opening his eyes, the boy looked at the dog suddenly lurching to her feet, “I think so.” The dog wobbled on her feet for a moment as she looked from Lysander to Rosalind. After a heartbeat, she turned and lunged at Lysander.
  49. 49. The dog proceeded to knock Lysander down and begin licking his face from chin to forehead as her tail wagged happily back and forth. “You did it! You did it, Lysa! I knew you could do it! I knew you’d make it all better!” “ACK!” Lysander couldn’t help but laugh as the dog thanked him so thoroughly. After a moment, the pup turned and began to dance with Rosalind who was hopping from foot to foot excitedly.
  50. 50. Climbing to his feet, Lysander dusted himself off. Smiling at how happy his sister was, he said, “We should find out where her home is, Rosa.” Rosalind continued dancing with the dog as she laughed, “She doesn’t have a home so she’s going to live with us now. Spot says her family went away and she asked if she could come live with us and I said yes.” “You what?” Lysander blinked from sister to dog and back again, “You can’t do that. You gotta ask Mom and Dad before we can do anything like that. You’re gonna get us in trouble!”
  51. 51. Rosalind’s shoulders slumped as she looked down at the dog that had now been dubbed Spot, “But Lysa, she doesn’t have anywhere to go and we can’t leave her out here. It’ll be cold tonight and she wants to be with us. She says we’re her people now.” She sniffled and looked up at him with an imploring gaze.
  52. 52. Lysander sighed. Somehow he knew this was a battle that he’d already lost. “Don’t call me Lysa.” Her expression took on a pout that he could not resist. He had a feeling that this was going to be a common thing between him and his twin, “Oh fine, we can sneak her home. But you get to explain it all to Mom and Dad when they find out.” “YAY! I love you, Lysa!” Rosalind laughed and ran off, followed by a prancing dog and a resigned brother. “We’ll have to be really quiet going in the house, Spot, but once we’re in you can sleep in my bed with me. I can share my dinner with you. Hero might be mad too, so don’t let her see you, so we’ll have to play until she does her homework and then we can..”
  53. 53. That night, after coming in to tuck in his children, Puck stood in the middle of the twins’ bedroom and arched a questioning eyebrow. The dog was quite obviously comfortable where she was and there was a contented smile on his daughter’s face.
  54. 54. Scratching his head, Puck considered the situation. Out loud, but said quietly to not wake the children, he said, “Y’know, I think I would remember adding a dog to our house.” Spot opened her eyes and looked up at him. Giving him a doggy grin with a lolling tongue, she wagged her tail ever so slightly. Puck gave a soft snort as he shook his head ruefully, “I think even if I was against us having a dog, I would get seriously outvoted.” He turned to leave but then stopped and looked back at the dog, “Tomorrow you get a flea bath, though. And a proper collar.” Spot gave a resigned sigh, but then happily snuggled closer to Rosalind. *~*~*~*~*~*
  55. 55. Obviously, the secret pet did not stay secret for too long. The very next day, Puck and Ainsley sat the twins down for a very long talk about bringing strays home. In the end, though, it was agreed that once Spot got that flea bath and all of her shots, she could stay. For Spot’s part, she quickly became the best friend of everyone in the house. The toddlers loved her almost instantly and she certainly loved the fact that they would share their snacks with her. Hero was a little put out at first that she didn’t get a pet when she was younger, but that didn’t last long. Spot’s enthusiasm quickly won Hero over once her moment of teen angst was over.
  56. 56. Spot’s addition to the family seemed to complete the last missing piece of what was needed in the busy, chaotic household. Life seemed to settle into a normal, happy routine for everyone. For the two youngest, this meant that there were toys to be played with, skills to be learned, messes to be made and love to be shared.
  57. 57. Even though the youngest two occupied a great deal of Puck and Ainsley’s time, Rosalind and Lysander did not lack parental attention as they settled into the routine of attending school. Much to Puck’s dismay, they were far less interested in school than Hero had been. The pair never hesitated to complain about the never ending parade of homework. *~*~*~*~*~*
  58. 58. “Fishies talk?” Sebastian stood as high as he could on his chubby little legs and looked at the fish swimming back and forth as Portia came up beside him. Portia’s brow furrowed as she considered the fish tank as well, “Rosa say fishes talk. I just hear bubbles.” “Me too.” Sebastian considered this then declared, “We need to be quiet?”
  59. 59. So, the two little toddlers stood there and listened for as long as their short attention spans would allow. Though their big sister Rosalind insisted the fish could talk, neither of them could hear a thing. Finally, Portia declared agreement with her oldest brother, “Rosa silly.” Sebastian considered this and said wisely, “Maybe we need to be bigger to hear fishes.”
  60. 60. Luckily for the youngest twins, it was finally time for them to get bigger. Their birthday had finally arrived.
  61. 61. “Do we have to?” Ainsley asked with a playful sigh, “Can’t we keep them babies for a little while longer?” Portia frowned and tapped her mother’s shoulder, “Not baby, Mama!” Puck laughed and took a look out at the guests, “I think we will have protests on all sides if we don’t let them grow up, Aine. These two are eager to join the others and I know I’d be disappointed if I don’t get cake.” “Oh, fine.” Ainsley quickly kissed her two babies and helped them blow out the candles.
  62. 62. Within moments, the chubby little toddler faces were replaced by the energetic and eager faces of children. “Wow! This is awesome! I can reach stuff now!” Sebastian danced from foot to foot as he eyed his hands and his feet, “I’m as big as Lysa now!” For Portia’s part, she frowned and looked at her clothes, “C’mon ‘Bastian, we gotta go change.” “Why?” Rolling her eyes, she did not deign to answer that question as she grabbed his shoulder and dragged him towards the closet.
  63. 63. Shortly, the two children were much more respectably dressed, at least in Portia’s estimation. Impatiently, Sebastian kicked his feet as he looked at his knees then his sister. She sat still and then asked, “Can we go play now?” Puck laughed as he put away the camera, “Okay, go ahead. I have a picture of two sparkling clean children for the records, so you can go catch up with the rest of the kids outside.”
  64. 64. Outside the party was in full swing as the collected horde of children made ample use of the playground Puck and Ainsley had built for their children. The teenagers hung out on the swings, pretending to be too cool to play while the younger kids ran from here to there and back again, making up games on the fly.
  65. 65. When combined with a beautiful summer day, there is almost nothing more joyous than the sound of children laughing.
  66. 66. With the sun shining down and a gentle breeze blowing over the orchard, it was undeniably a beautiful day.
  67. 67. That night, the adults joined them all outside for a campfire by the pond. By that point, the children were exhausted enough to enjoy sitting still to roast marshmallows and tell stories.
  68. 68. For Ainsley, as she looked out over the faces of her family and her loved ones, she felt her heart catch. This was the way it was meant to be and she could not imagine her life being any more perfect. But there was a faint hint of worry that tickled at the back of her mind, reminding her of what the future might hold.
  69. 69. Puck looked over and asked quietly, “What’s wrong, love?” Startled out of her thoughts, Ainsley gave him a sheepish smile, “I was just worrying about the future.” Reaching out and taking her hand, he gave it a gentle squeeze. “We’ll deal with the future when we get there, Aine. Let’s focus on the now for the moment.” Ainsley couldn’t help but smile. For right now, everything was exactly as it should be. *~*~*~*~*~*
  70. 70. Now that Sebastian and Portia were children, they quickly made their personalities and their interests well known to all in the house. They were no longer ‘just’ toddlers confined to the nursery. Sebastian was fascinated with the world around him. If he saw something and didn’t understand it, he wanted to know everything he could as soon as he could. While he certainly loved books, he definitely preferred getting his hands dirty and finding things out first hand.
  71. 71. It was obvious to his parents that he was a smart boy, probably the smartest of all their children. When he beat Puck at chess for the first time, his amused parents had to admit that they probably had a future knowledge sim on their hands.
  72. 72. Portia also enjoyed observing the world around her, but she had little interest in things like nature and science. She was more interested in people. Some found her intent stare unnerving as she watched everyone around her, absorbing what they said and did with a quiet intensity.
  73. 73. She was absolutely fascinated by the way people interacted with one another. What made two people like each other or hate one another? Why did her parents say they loved each other and her Aunt Bo and Uncle Merc say they loved each other, but one couple had gotten married and the other had not? Portia was also very adept at being quiet and unnoticed when she wanted to be, which was usually when she snuck off to observe interpersonal relationships in progress. While everyone fascinated her, there was one particular person that especially intrigued her.
  74. 74. Caliban Capp. Why did he come home from school with a different girl every week and why did they all let him touch them like that? Was kissing really that fantastic? After all, her parents enjoyed kissing one another all the time, but they only kissed each other like that. Caliban had lots of girls he liked to kiss.
  75. 75. The two youngest Dorans might have very different interests in life, but they both proved to be equally intense about them. *~*~*~*~*~*
  76. 76. “Mom! There you are.” Hero ran into the kitchen where she found Ainsley cleaning up after dinner. In one breath, she rushed out, “Is it okay if I have a friend come home from school with me tomorrow so we can work on homework that’s been really hard and I could use some extra help and he said he’d help and I was thinking we could work in the den and it will be okay, right?” Ainsley blinked at the rush of words, “Whoa, take a breath, Hero.” She filtered what the girl was saying for a moment before she arched an amused eyebrow, “Have I met this boy before?” “Who said it was a boy?” Hero’s response was defensive and vaguely embarrassed.
  77. 77. Unable to help herself, Ainsley laughed, “Love, you’ve never hesitated at bringing anyone home from school before. I’ve met most of your favorite friends from the time you started kindergarten. This boy must be pretty special if you’re this nervous about bringing him home.” “Mooom.” Hero gave a pleading whine as she glanced past her mother to make sure no one else was watching. Scuffing her foot nervously, she said, “His name is Jihoon.” “Tell him he’s welcome to stay for dinner too, Hero. And remember that your father and I will be checking in on you and him ‘studying’ quite frequently and unexpectedly, okay?” “You’re awesome and I love you, Mom!” Hero literally flew out of the kitchen. “Hero! Feet on the ground!”
  78. 78. The next day, Hero and her study partner had the family room to themselves. After the youngest twins had aged up, Puck and Ainsley had converted the former nursery into a family room that was most often used for watching television or doing homework. After an interminable silence broken only by the sound of pencils scratching over notebooks, Hero cleared her voice and asked, “What did you get for the third question?” Startled, Jihoon looked up, “Uh, I’m not sure I got that one right. I put down that x equals 25.”
  79. 79. “Oh, that’s not right. The answer is really 40, but you get 25 if you forget to multiply this sequence in this set of brackets before you divide it by the variable.” Hero forgot that she was supposed to be asking for help as she explained the problem. Confused, Jihoon scratched his head, “Why did you ask me if you already knew the answer to the question?” “Uhm.” Hero bit her lip before she smiled brightly, “I was bored. You’re almost done, right? Let’s play a video game.”
  80. 80. With the homework out of the way, finished or not, the two sat down for a friendly console game. The two found they were evenly matched at the game, with both winning several matches. In the end, Hero had more wins than Jihoon. Eventually, the night came to a close when Puck politely suggested that it was time for Jihoon to go home.
  81. 81. Still, the two teenagers chatted on the front lawn. Jihoon held up his puzzle sphere almost proudly, “I’ve almost solved it a couple of times, but not quite. You have to get the colors in the right order at the very beginning or it’s impossible to get them lined up correctly at the end. I just need to figure out..” “You’re really cute when you’re being geeky.” Hero’s eyes suddenly widened as she realized she blurted the words out loud. “What?”
  82. 82. Realizing there was no taking the words back, Hero smiled, “Well, you’re cute. I’ve liked you since we had study hall together last year.” Jihoon’s cheeks colored and he hid his blush behind an embarrassed hand. Suddenly all his geeky confidence disappeared as he stammered, “R.really? I.. I’ve th.thought you were really p.pretty too, Hero. I just didn’t think you’d me like that.” She blinked and grinned, “Really? That’s totally awesome.” She hesitated a moment and then asked, “Do you wanna kiss me?” His eyes grew impossibly wide and his mouth hung open.
  83. 83. Without waiting for a response, Hero leaned in and kissed him. In moments, the tentative and almost furtive brush of lips on lips turned into something a bit more heated if no less awkward. Jihoon put his arms around her and kissed back For a moment they broke apart and Jihoon said in an amazed whisper, “You make me feel like I’m walking on air, Hero.” She just smiled.
  84. 84. “Shut up and kiss me again.” *~*~*~*~*~*
  85. 85. Unsurprisingly, it was soon time for another pair of birthdays in the Doran household. This time the older twins were celebrating their teen birthday.
  86. 86. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Lysa?” Rosa looked at her brother with wide black eyes as the candles on their cakes were lit. “Don’t call me that, Rosa. It sounds like a girls name that way.” He shot her a frown that lasted all of a half second before he furrowed his brow, “I think I just wanna have lots of friends like mom and dad do. That’s the best thing in the whole world.” “You’ll do good at that. You’re brave with people.” She added in a quieter voice, “I’m just good with animals.” Tilting his head and looking back at her, he asked, “What do you want, Rosa?”
  87. 87. “Ooh, I want lots of things.” With a dreamy and happy smile she began listing things off, “I want to learn how to play the violin and I want to paint like Daddy and I want to train rescue pets and design pajamas that are really comfy and visit lots of places like Twikkii Island and maybe go to Takemizu and learn how to bungee jump and...” “Rosa, if you don’t blow out your candles soon, the wax is going to get into the frosting.” Lysander couldn’t help but grin at his rambling twin. “Oh no!”
  88. 88. After that, they made quick work of the candles and turned into teenagers. Rosa went first. “Oh wow, look at me! I look like mom and I’m as tall as Hero now.” Rosalind gave a delighted laugh as she inspected herself. “You still look like a little girl with your hair like that.” Lysander smirked as he waited for the change to help him catch up to his twin. “Well I’ll change it!” and with that she rushed off towards the house.
  89. 89. Moments later, Lysander transitioned as well. Eyes wide, he proudly flexed his muscles, “Wow, look at me! I’m totally buff!” In the background, Bottom sighed and gave an amused shake of her head, “Wow. Deja-vu. I seem to recall your father striking that exact same pose when he turned into a teenager.” Looking over towards Puck, she smirked, “I seem to remember you being a dork too.” “Aunt Bo!” *~*~*~*~*~*
  90. 90. Rosalind and Lysander quickly settled into being teenagers and all the privilege and angst those days brought. Most afternoons after school found Lysander bringing one friend or another home, but it was Andromache Capp that joined in most often. “Guys, I’m going to take Spot for a walk. I’ll be back before the grade school bus gets here.” Hero announced, leaving them alone with their friend. Andromache examined the llama tower for a moment before she said a touch too casually, “Did you hear that they’re going to have a dance at school next month?”
  91. 91. Lysander looked over and the attention he gave his friend couldn’t hide his interest no matter how casual he tried to be, “Oh really?” Tilting his head he asked with what he hoped was a teasing flirt, “Have you decided who you want to go with, Andi?” Responding with a raised eyebrow, she gave a soft snort, “Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t. Why do you care, Lysa?” “Ugh, don’t call me that.” He groaned and slumped in the chair, “I want to join the soccer team and if the guys hear you calling me that, I’ll never live it down. Tell her to stop, Rosa!”
  92. 92. Across the table, Rosalind was also watching their friend with more than casual interest. The dreamy expression on her face indicated she was a million miles away. “Rosa!” “Huh!?” She blinked wide black eyes away from Andromache and towards her brother. Luckily the green tint of her skin hid the blush, “Is it my turn?” “Tell Andi to stop calling me Lysa! It’s not a guy’s name and I need the guys to think I’m cool.” “Oh.” Tilting her head, she considered for a moment before she shrugged, “I’m just waiting for the most embarrassing time to call you that at school.” “Ugh. You suck!”
  93. 93. Andromache clapped her hands as she placed her last piece, “I win! Last piece and it didn’t fall down.” The two Doran twins blinked and leaned forward to examine the tower. Lysander frowned, “Yeah, I guess you do win.” The red headed girl laughed just as her phone rang. After answering it quickly, she frowned, “I need to run home guys. I’ll come back if I can.” Simultaneously, the two twins said, “I’ll miss you!”
  94. 94. They turned to look at one another and grimaced. “We need to talk.”
  95. 95. Climbing up into the play fort, the twins each took a seat. While Rosalind plopped down at the top of the ladder and nervously kept her knees together, Lysander climbed onto the railing to lounge in the precariously casual way only a teenage boy would. The silence lingered awkwardly between them as the breeze rustled the leaves of the nearby apple trees. Finally, Lysander sighed. “You like Andi too, don’t you.” It wasn’t exactly a question.
  96. 96. Rosalind sighed and bit her lower lip. While she looked like her mother, her personality was a bit more reserved like her father. Finally she nodded, “Yeah, but it’s silly.” Her brother frowned, “Why’s it silly?” “Because she probably doesn’t like girls. She probably likes boys. And even if she likes both, she’d like you better.” She gave a little shrug and looked out over the small orchard.
  97. 97. Lysander rolled his eyes, “Sometimes you’re such a dork, Rosa.” Rolling off the railing to sit on the floor of the fort with her, he said, “I think she’s really cute and definitely wouldn’t mind asking her out, but I wouldn’t do anything if it meant hurting you. You know that, right?” She looked at him while worrying at her lip. Finally she nodded, “I know. I just don’t want to get in the way, y’know?” “But if you want it, Rosa, you gotta go after what you want. If you don’t it can all slip through your fingers, right?”
  98. 98. “But we don’t even know if she likes girls. If she only likes boys and I ask her something like that, she’s going to hate me forever and I don’t want that. I.. I’d rather see you ask her out and then I can stay her friend, right?” Rosalind crossed her legs as she twisted to face Lysander. “Rosa, if she ends up hating on you because you asked her out and she’s not interested, then I wouldn’t want to be her boyfriend or her friend. Sure, it might be awkward, but friends don’t ever do that to one another. Ever.” Lysander was adamant about this. “I.. I guess.”
  99. 99. Lysander considered a moment before he said, “Okay, look, here’s what we’re going to do. You want to ask her out and I want to ask her out, but neither of us wants to hurt one another, right?” Rosalind nodded as she waited, both worried and eager. If anyone could solve this, it would be Lysander. He always fixed everything. “Well, we’ll just wait and see which one of us she wants more, right? I mean, we’re Dorans. We’re the hottest kids in school, so she’s gotta decide she wants one of us, right?” He grinned for extra effect, earning a laugh out of his shy sister. “Ahem.” A voice cleared itself below them.
  100. 100. “Y’know, it might have been nice for me to have a little say in this little conversation the two of you are having.” Andromache stood below the fort, looking up at both of them with a hint of irritation on her face. Rosalind swallowed and Lysander simply said, “Uh oh.”
  101. 101. “Now howabout you two get down here and we can talk this out before I get mad at both of you and go back home.”
  102. 102. “It’s not like it seems, Andi.” Lysander quickly explained as he slid down the pole and Rosalind climbed down the ladder. “So you two weren’t deciding to watch me like some experiment to see which piece of cheese I’d prefer?” She had an indignant tone to her voice, but there was a hint of pleased amusement underneath it all. It wasn’t every day a girl had twins fighting over her.
  103. 103. “W.we would never do anything like that to you, Andi. We just.. I mean..” Rosalind swallowed as the words got caught in her throat and wouldn’t come out. Andromache gave Rosalind a sympathetic look as she held up a hand to silence her friend. Looking between the twins she said, “I wish you two had just asked me what I wanted instead of just trying to guess or trying to decide between the two of you.” Lysander had the grace to look contrite as he ducked his gaze, “Sorry Andi.”
  104. 104. “I do like boys. But I also like girls. Okay. I mean, I like both. I’ve never really decided which I like better.” Her cheeks colored despite her confident demeanor, “So yeah, I’ve been thinking of asking one of you out. But it’s my choice, okay? Don’t try and treat me like a womrat or something.” The twins looked at one another and then turned to Andromache and said simultaneously, “Sorry?” She sighed and looked between them for a long moment before she grabbed Rosalind’s hand and walked away over towards the other side of the pond. Rosalind looked over her shoulder at Lysander who just shrugged with a smile.
  105. 105. Once the two girls were alone, they stood there for an awkward moment staring at one another. Rosalind raised a hand to hide her face as she looked away. Andromache tilted her head, “Why are you shy around me all of a sudden, Rosa? We’ve been friends since we were really little, right?” Rosalind nodded but couldn’t quite squeak out a verbal reply. The other girl considered for a moment before she said, “I meant it when I said I thought about asking one of you two out. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I finally figured out what I want to do.”
  106. 106. Still hiding her face, Rosalind nodded as her shoulders stiffened. Voice muffled, she said, “You wanna ask Lys out?” Andromache blinked and then shook her head, “Uh no. If I wanted to ask Lys out, I would have dragged him over here, not you.” Rosalind blinked and her hand lowered slightly with her surprise, “What?” Rolling her eyes, Andromache reached out and grabbed her friend’s hands before she could hide her face again, “Your face is too pretty to hide, Rosa.”
  107. 107. A look of confusion settled on Rosalind’s face as she stared at Andromache who stepped closer into a dancer’s position, “You.. you really like me, Andi?” “Yes, silly. I decided I wanted to ask you to the dance.” Expression hopeful, she asked, “Will you go to the dance with me, Rosa?” Slowly a shy but delighted smile settled over Rosa’s face, “Y.yes?” “Awesome!”
  108. 108. And with that, Andromache did something that both girls had been wanting since they both turned into teens... *~*~*~*~*~*
  109. 109. Life marched on for the Dorans. The younger twins anxiously awaited their birthday to become teenagers while their parents gave wistful sighs for the days of infants and toddlers. It was a loud, vibrant household full of life and Ainsley would have had it no other way.
  110. 110. Finally, the day had arrived where Sebastian and Portia would become teenagers. It was the final sign that their family was growing up.
  111. 111. It was a bittersweet but happy time for Puck and Ainsley. They were so proud of the young men and women their children were growing into, but they couldn’t help but remember the sweet, innocent faces that had first looked up at them. With the candles on two cakes blown out, the last of the children grew up.
  112. 112. “Oh. My. God.” Portia looked down at herself in horror, “This outfit is horrible!” Sebastian got a vaguely confused look on his face as he took in her sweater vest and skirt and then looked at his own t-shirt and shorts, “I like your outfit, Portia.” Portia raised a critical eyebrow at her brother, “You’re my twin, ‘Bastian. There is no way in hell I’m letting you look like a dork if I can help it. Come on, let’s get you changed.” “But...” Though he protested, she was determined. The fistful of his t-shirt she grabbed to drag him along helped convince him it was probably not worth a fight.
  113. 113. Soon, Sebastian rejoined the party looking at least a little bit cooler in a sweater and jeans. As he headed for the game table, he was stopped as he bumped into someone, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Looking up, he blinked as he saw who he had bumped into. “Quite alright.” Oberon gave a cool smile as he regarded Sebastian. He considered the teen for a moment before he said, “Congratulations, Sebastian. Seeing you and your sister grow up tells me your parents must be very proud. You both grew into a fine young man and woman.”
  114. 114. Sebastian opened his mouth to reply, but something made him stop. He swallowed and tried to still his suddenly racing heart. Panic settled into his eyes. Since he was very small, Sebastian had always had an instinctual understanding of other people’s emotions. As he began to get older, he realized that not everyone could feel what other people were feeling. It was nothing he had ever spoken to anyone about, but it was an integral part of who he was. At that moment in time, the onslaught of hate rolling off of Oberon was a wave of pure, raw emotion that hit Sebastian harder than anything he had ever felt before.
  115. 115. Oberon narrowed his eyes and regarded Sebastian. Lowering his voice so just the other could hear, he said softly, dangerously, “I don’t know what you’re seeing, boy, but if you know what is good for you, you’ll keep your mouth shut. No one will believe you anyway.” Keeping his voice a hiss just for the boy’s ears, he added, “They’ll damn you as a freak and lock you away.” Sebastian recoiled as the venom in the words assaulted him in a coordinated attack with the hateful emotions.
  116. 116. “Yo ‘Bastian. You up for a game or not?” Bottom and Mercutio’s son Valentine came up from behind them. Pausing as he looked at the expression on Sebastian’s face, he asked questioningly, “You okay?” “He’s fine.” Oberon offered with a charming smile, “Just a little over-excited. It’s not every day a boy turns into a man.” He slapped Sebastian on the shoulder and gave him a slight push away, “He just needs to catch his breath.” Sebastian stumbled with a confused look on his face. He looked into Oberon’s eyes and shuddered.
  117. 117. Turning, he ran through the living room and towards the stairs, racing up them without looking at anyone, hoping no one noticed.
  118. 118. But one person did notice. Titania looked from Sebastian’s retreating back towards Oberon who had already turned away. A pained look drifted over her features as she gave a sigh. Slowly, she rose from her seat.
  119. 119. Outside, the eldest of the teenagers leaned against the building with a laconic, bored attitude. Caliban Capp was just a little bit older than Hero, but he often acted much older. Or, at least, he hoped he acted older. Portia came outside and around the corner to where he stood as she said lightly, “I thought I’d find you out here. Don’t you want to join the party?” Caliban gave a shrug as he glanced at her and then looked away, “No offense, but there’s better things I could be doing tonight then hanging out at some kid’s birthday party.”
  120. 120. “Maybe you missed the memo, Cal.” Portia smiled as she watched his profile with an almost hungry look, “I’m not a little girl anymore.” “Portia, I’m about to go off to college and you just got old enough to start high school. I’d say you’re a..” He paused as he turned to look at her, seeing her for the first time. What he was about to say was silenced as he blinked in surprise, “Uh..”
  121. 121. Coy but provocative, Portia gave him a smile that was both sly and shy at the same time, “I think this outfit makes me look older.” Running a hand down her side to accentuate her body, she said with mock innocence, “I like having curves.” Caliban blinked once more and then gave a softly rueful laugh, “I think any guy who’s into girls will like you having curves, Portia.” “Really?” She gave him a smile as she looked up through her eyelashes. “Yeah. Really.” He took a step closer, “I guess I was wrong. You’re not a little girl anymore, are you?”
  122. 122. Taking a step closer to him to narrow the distance between them, Portia looked up to meet his eyes, “I was hoping you’d say that.” Caliban hesitated a moment before he ran his hand lightly down her arm, “I’m still a lot older than you, Portia. I am leaving for college soon. I’m nobody’s knight in shining armor.” Glancing over his shoulder towards the windows, Portia made sure no one was looking outside watching them as she took one last step to close the distance between their bodies, “Who said I wanted a knight in shining armor?”
  123. 123. “Doesn’t every little girl want a knight in shining armor?” Caliban waited for her to make the first move, but as she leaned against him, he slid a hand over her hip and up across her shoulder. She tentatively slid her hand across his neck as she leaned her head towards his. Though she was confident, she still had the hesitancy of someone trying for their first kiss, “I don’t want you to rescue me. I just want you to make out with me, Cal.” “Well, far be it from me to not oblige a..”
  124. 124. Before he could finish what he was saying, she’d leaned upward and silenced him with her mouth. What hesitancy was there disappeared rather quickly as Portia got exactly what she wanted out of Caliban Capp.
  125. 125. Inside, Sebastian was having a moment that was not nearly as enjoyable as his sister’s. Standing at the top of the stairs, he tried to contain his panic as the emotions of every person in the house seemed to drown his senses all at once. It was as if the hate from Oberon had broken down the flimsy barriers he’d had in place to protect him from feeling too much. Trying to keep quiet, he muttered, “Keep it together. Keep it together. Keep it.. AGH.”
  126. 126. Suddenly the pain of so many people in one place doubled him over. Clutching his head, he whimpered in agony as he tried to force the emotions away. In that moment, he knew that Portia was REALLY enjoying herself doing something she shouldn’t be. Hero was excited about something. Lysander was embarrassed but amused. Irritation. Laughter. Secrets. HATE. It was all pouring in on him and he couldn’t stop it. Gritting his teeth, he muttered, “He hates us. He hates us so much and he’s planning something, I know. But who will believe me? He’s right, no one will believe me. AGH!”
  127. 127. “No one will believe what, Sebastian?” He spun around and his eyes widened in surprise, “Grandma. I.. I didn’t hear you c.come up the stairs.” Swallowing, he backed away, “The b.bathroom is free if you want it. I’m just.. I’ve got a headache and needed to get away from the party for a little bit.” “How long have you been able to read people’s emotions, Sebastian?” “What?!?”
  128. 128. With a weary sigh and a wan smile, Titania spoke softly, “Sebastian, please remember that I am your grandmother. I have lived for more than five generations. Hopefully that means I have more wisdom than you give me credit for. I know an empath when I see one.” His expression grew horrified as he shook his head, “No..” “Sebastian.” Titania interrupted him with gentle but firm patience, “Talk to me, child. I am your grandmother and I love you with all my heart. Nothing you tell me will make me think less of you.”
  129. 129. Unable to keep it together, Sebastian shook his head and waved his arms, “Uh uh. You love him and you’ll believe him and you won’t believe me and I don’t want you to be mad at me and I don’t want to feel other people’s emotions anymore. It’s not fair. It’s like everyone’s buzzing in my head and I don’t know if I’m feeling my own emotions or someone else’s anymore.” Realizing he’d said too much, Sebastian’s shoulders slumped in defeat and he buried his head in his hands.
  130. 130. Titania smiled gently and reached out to tilt his chin back up to look into his eyes, “Sebastian, I may love someone, but that does not mean I am blind to their faults. You have a powerful gift, child. Let me help you with it.” Sebastian looked torn. He wanted to open up to someone, but he still wasn’t sure. Finally he sighed and looked away as he said, “Oberon hates me. And my whole family. He wants us to hurt.” Titania winced but nodded, “I know.”
  131. 131. “You know? But why.. why do you stay with him, Grandma?” Sebastian’s expression was confused. “Because we love two people does not mean that they will love each other, Sebastian. That does not mean we do not hope for the best, though.” Reaching out to stroke his cheek gently, she said, “Our time will be limited, love, but I will see what we can do to help you control your abilities. Being able to read others’ emotions is a double edged blessing in many ways. And do not worry about Oberon. Everything will work out for the best.”
  132. 132. Letting go a ragged breath he wasn’t aware he was holding, Sebastian threw himself into Titania’s arms, “I love you, Grandma.” “I love you too, Sebastian. I love you too.”
  133. 133. Downstairs, Ainsley and Puck found a moment alone in the kitchen. Sliding an arm around her waist and pulling her closer, he gave her a loving smile, “Well, Mrs. Doran, we now have a house full of five teenagers.” “And a dog.” “And a dog,” He agreed solemnly. With a light laugh, she leaned forward and kissed him soundly. Pulling back to look into his face, her smile grew sad and serious, “I think it’s time we told them.” Tilting his head, he matched her gaze, “Are you sure?” “Yes, they’re old enough now to hear it all.” *~*~*~*~*~*
  134. 134. The next night, after extracurricular activities, chores, and dinner, the Dorans gathered for a family meeting. Some of the children waited more patiently than others. Hero perched on the edge of the couch, fidgeting impatiently and glancing towards the door. Lysander and Rosalind seemed to be teasing each other quietly about what she was going to wear to the dance. Sebastian had an intent look of curiosity on his face, while Portia stared off into the distance with a smile on her face as she daydreamed. Hero finally spoke up as their parents sat down, “What’s up, Mom and Dad? I was really hoping to go out with Jihoon tonight.” Puck arched an eyebrow at his eldest, “You went out with Jihoon last night, Hero. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for you to spend one night with your family, is it?” She looked contrite and shrugged, “But what’s up? Why the big family meeting?”
  135. 135. Ainsley spoke up, “Your father and I decided that you are all old enough now to hear some of the less pleasant parts of our family history.” Looking out at her children, she sighed softly, “You all know that the elves of the North Forest do not look kindly upon half-breeds, right?” Five heads nodded as they listened with now attentive expressions. “Well, they have taken a special interest in our family from many generations back. Here is what I know and what it means to you.”
  136. 136. Over the next couple of hours, Ainsley told them everything she knew. Everything. Her father and uncle had not been the most coherently communicative Dorans in the history of the family, but she had at least understood some of their history when they parted ways. What she did not know was filled in by Titania when she began training. Now, she shared it all with her children. She told them of Carli’s original flight from the North Forest and then the discovery that sent her whole family into flight once more. She told them of Dominic’s sacrifice and the death of nearly everyone in Bluewater Village. She spoke of the tragedy surrounding her grandparents, Gethin and Amber, and how they gave their lives so their children could live. Then she spoke of her own father and uncle and how they two found happiness only to have it all ripped away. Finally, she fell silent.
  137. 137. Everyone was quiet as she stopped speaking and they all absorbed everything she had told them. Finally, Sebastian looked over at his siblings and then turned to his mother, “Does this mean you think we’re going to have to run too, Mom?” She hesitated and then looked to Puck before turning back to her youngest to respond, “I don’t know. I hope not, but there are those that wish us harm and they may try and attack us again. I want you all to understand what is at stake.”
  138. 138. Hero frowned and then said defiantly, “Well, I won’t run. I’ll take them on.” Lysander looked up with a raised eyebrow, “You against all the elves of the North Forest, Hero?” He snorted with brotherly derision, “I’d like to see that.” “I’m serious.” Hero looked at her siblings, “This is our home. No one forces us out of here without a fight, right?” She turned to her parents, looking for support, “We can take them, can’t we, Mom?”
  139. 139. Ainsley looked at her children and lifted her chin proudly even if her expression remained serious, “This is our home and we will do everything to defend it, but I also want you all to realize that a home is far more than the building you sleep in. It’s the family you surround yourself with.” Looking each of them in turn and ending with Hero, she said, “I want you to promise that if it comes to it, you will make sure to see each other to safety. We’ll stand and fight, but not at the cost of our lives.” She reached out and took Puck’s hand as she finally smiled at her children, “Give me your promise.”
  140. 140. The five Doran children of Generation Six looked at one another before they looked back to their parents. As one, they said, “We promise.” *~*~*~*~*~*
  141. 141. The night was quiet with only the sound of the wind through the trees to accompany the sound of the beeps from his phone as he dialed a number.
  142. 142. “Get your team ready. We’re moving soon.” *~*~*~*~*~*
  143. 143. And here we come to the end of part 5! I was hoping to wrap everything up in one more part, but I quickly realized the update was approaching 300 slides. Not to mention, I NEEDED to get SOMETHING out before I went crazy. Hopefully Part 6, the true finale of Ainsley’s generation, will be out very soon. While I’ve already posted about them on Livejournal, I thought I’d share the details of the generation six children one more time! Name: Hero Doran Name: Rosalind Doran Name: Lysander Doran Aspiration: Family Aspiration: Pleasure Aspiration: Popularity Zodiac: Libra Zodiac: Cancer Zodiac: Aries Personality: 6/10/5/2/10 Personality: 7/2/6/6/9 Personality: 7/10/5/2/10 Name: Portia Doran Name: Sebastian Doran Aspiration: Romance Aspiration: Knowledge Zodiac: Pisces Zodiac: Pisces Personality: 7/2/4/2/10 Personality: 5/2/6/4/10