Welcome to the first half of Chapter Four, Part Thirteen of the Pseudo Legacy!
Previously, Persephone informed Matthew that Ian had somehow returned from beyond the grave. After
Matthew agreed to trust her senses, they both decided to wait until they had proof before telling anyone
else in the family. Meanwhile, Louise grew up from a precocious child into an enthusiastic teenager destined
to cause great mischief with her best friend Star.
Star’s father, Aeric Walton, was avoiding seeking magical training from the warlock, Harry Ross. With the
birth of his son Zephyr and the unsubtle encouragement of Venus, he finally agreed. While attempting to
meditate, he discovered the ability to project his spirit into the astral realm. With typical impulsiveness, he
decided to go exploring. While checking up on his children, he made shocking discovery about his mute
Harry paced the floor of his workshop muttering to himself, “I should have known you’d do something like
this. Everything we knew about you said you have a tendency to be impulsive which is why we put the
damn wards up in the first place.” Raising a hand to rub at his eyes he sighed tiredly, “But who’d have
predicted you’d figure out how to go astral on your own.”
Aeric’s body sat there still and motionless except for a slow and steady breathing while his body continued
to function as an empty shell without the essence of who he was. It had been at least an hour since he had
excitedly decided to go off on his own and explore in his new state.
Considering his options, Harry ceased his pacing and thought out loud, “I could do a summoning spell, but
that would hurt more than help if he resisted and he is stubborn enough to resist. I wonder if I could put up
a beacon of some sort to guide him back.” He thought about that for a moment then grimaced, “And that’s
just as likely to attract unwanted attention as it is to get him back here.” Feeling helpless, Harry slumped
against the wall, “I hope he’s smart enough to find his way back on his own.”
Suddenly Aeric’s eyes flew open and he gasped for air as if he were drowning. “Wha.. wha...” Scrambling
backwards from the where he had sat still for so long, his movements were stiff as his body woke slowly,
Harry’s eyes widened, “Thank the maker!” Kneeling down, he said gently, “Slowly Aeric, slowly. Your body’s
going to need a moment to adjust now that you’re back.”
Aeric’s purple eyes were wild as he blinked frantically at Harry, “Wha..” Slowly the words the other man was
gently repeating began to sink in. Very carefully, Aeric took a deep breath and forced his panic to subside.
After a moment, he looked up at Harry uncertainly, a question obvious in his expression.
Harry gave him an encouraging nod, “Yes?”
Voice croaking as if he hadn’t used it in months, Aeric asked plaintively, “Coffee?”
In short order Harry helped Aeric upstairs and settled him on a couch while he went to get coffee. Aeric
carefully cradled his head in his hands as he regained his faculties. Wincing, he groaned, “Ugh. Why does it
feel like I have a hangover?”
From the kitchen, Harry called out cheerfully, “Your body and your spirit are readjusting to one another. This
is one of the reasons that using your astral form should be done sparingly and in controlled circumstances.”
“Uhn. Not so loud. And yeah-yeah, you told me so.” Aeric grumbled and sat back up to lean into the couch.
He breathed a thankful noise as Harry approached him with a cup of coffee.
“So what happened?” Harry sat down opposite Aeric and studied him carefully. His curiosity was eating away
at him, but barraging the other man with questions would probably have the opposite effect that he desired.
Taking a steadying sip of the coffee, Aeric set the cup back down as he considered his answer, “It feels
almost like it was just a dream. Maybe a figment of my imagination.”
“Astral journeys can be like that. It usually helps to talk about what you did and saw, or at least write it
down so you don’t lose it.” Harry gestured with feigned patience as he asked curiously, “Where did you go
after you left here?” Remembering the role he was supposed to fulfill here, he added, “I do hope you realize
how dangerous your little trip was.”
Aeric shrugged as he lifted his hands helplessly, “It didn’t seem that dangerous until I got back here.
Anyway, I thought about checking on my kids and before I could decide not to do it, I was already on my
way. I remember the houses and trees passing below like I was flying, but it was only a moment before I
was looking down at my newborn in his crib.” A proud smile tugged at his lips, “He’s beautiful.”
Harry offered a half smile and gestured for Aeric to continue.
“I thought about Star, my oldest, and suddenly found myself with her and my mom in the garden.” At
Harry’s questioning eyebrow, he snorted and clarified, “Not my birth mother. I mean my real mom, the
woman that raised me. I quickly realized they couldn’t see me. I watched them for a little bit, then thought
about Moon.” Aeric’s expression grew troubled and distant.
“What happened?” Harry asked gently after Aeric remained silent for a little too long.
“She spoke to me.” In a soft voice that contained both wonder and worry, Aeric explained...
I didn’t know what to do. I’d been longing for her to speak out loud, to say something, anything, but I
never expected it to happen like this. She just gave me one of those sweet, mysterious little smiles of her
and gestured for me to follow.
“Come see, Daddy.” Her musical voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. She lead
me over to an area on the other side of the pond where she’d set up a little tea party with all her dolls.
“Moon, how can you see me? And why can I hear you? How come you don’t talk normally, sweetie?” The
questions that seemed to be exploding in my head finally found their way out of my mouth.
She looked up at me with those guileless eyes of hers, a faintly puzzled expression on her face before I
heard her simple reply, “Because that’s not how I talk, Daddy.”
Moon sat down and gestured for me to join her. She introduced each of the dolls to me by name and even
had a separate voice for each of them. If it weren’t for the fact that her voice was this ethereal thing I was
hearing deep inside my own head, I would have thought she was just like any other little girl. Well, most
little girls. My other daughter Star usually had her dolls waging war with one another. I can’t tell you how
many decapitated Barbie dolls I found around the house when she was that age.
I sat there watching her, marveling that I could finally hear her as she sang a little song and poured us both
pretend tea. It all seemed so normal, but I knew it wasn’t. Finally I asked, “Moon, sweetie, what was it you
wanted to tell me?”
She blinked and then smiled again. I could hear her soft words come with a lilting, gentle, but matter of
fact tone, “I wanted to tell you about my dolls, and about school. My favorite class is art, but reading is fun
too. Some of the kids don’t like me much, but that’s okay because my cousins are in my classes too. I like
Oz. And Hugh, but he’s kind of loud. Louise is nice too, but she’s Star’s. They need to stay friends. It’s
Sensing something different about that last comment, I asked, “Why is it important they stay friends?”
“Because they need each other.” Moon shifted onto her knees and poured a cup of tea for her teddy bear. All
the while, her little voice continued explaining, “It will be bad if Star doesn’t go with Louise.”
There was something important about what she was saying, but I couldn’t seem to grab hold of it. I tried to
ask her to explain further, about where Louise was going, but the words would slip away each time I tried to
Before I could focus enough to figure out what was happening I heard a voice coming from the house. It
was Star, my eldest daughter bellowing from the house.
“Hey Squeakless, dinner’s almost ready, so you better come in and wash up. You know how mom freaks
when we come to dinner messy.” I’m sure she muttered something about Venus being a neat freak then.
Sometimes I had wondered if Star had used up all the volume allowed for all the children I would ever have.
If it weren’t for the fact that Zephyr had already shown he had a healthy voice, I might have started to
believe that theory. “Grandma made apple pie for dessert too! Get in here so we can have some before
Gramps wolfs out and inhales the whole pie by himself.”
Moon leaned forward to put her hand over mine. I could feel a faint tingling as her hand slipped through
mine to the blanket below. There was something calming about her eyes as I listened to her gentle voice,
“Daddy, you need to go now. You better hurry home so you can have some apple pie too.”
I opened my mouth to say I wasn’t ready to go and I had more questions, but she gave me a little wave
goodbye and that was that. I felt as if I were slipping down a steep slope and I couldn’t stop myself, but I
could hear her voice still, “And Daddy? It’s okay. I am the way I’m supposed to be. Stop trying to fix what’s
With that, I felt her give a little push and I was flying through the air, completely out of control. And that’s
when I woke up back here.
“That is AMAZING.” Harry’s eyes lit up brighter and brighter as he listened, “She’s how old? If I remember
correctly, she couldn’t possibly have hit puberty yet, right? It is so rare for a child to possess power like that.
Most children from even the strongest bloodlines don’t come into power like that until they hit the first
stages of adolescence. From what you describe, I’d say she not only has an instinctual second sight, but she
also has an active degree of empathy and limited telepathy. Beyond that, it also sounds like she has a
degree of precognition, which is truly a unique gift. What she said about her sister sounded almost like a
prophetic vision interpreted by a child. Maybe I could...”
“Hey.” Aeric’s brow furrowed deeply as he frowned at Harry, “You stay away from my daughter. She’s off
“But,” Harry began but then stopped as he got a look at the scowl on Aeric’s face. Immediately calming his
own scholarly enthusiasm, he held up his hands in a placating gesture. Gently, he said, “Alright. In the light
of what you said, though, you may want to consider getting her training sooner rather than later.” He
paused and then added, “I promise I would keep the others away.”
“You better. If I see them near my children again, they’re going to regret it.” Aeric sighed and rubbed his
temple, hesitating a moment before asking worriedly, “Do you ... Do you think there’s something wrong with
her? Moon I mean?”
“Aeric,” Harry stood up and gave a sympathetic shake of his head, “I don’t have children, so I can’t say what
I would do if I were in your situation, but I think you should probably take your daughter’s advice.”
Standing up slowly, Aeric tilted his head questioningly, “How do you mean?”
“Just what she said. Stop trying to fix what may not be broken.” Harry offered an encouraging smile, “It
sounds like she accepts who she is and isn’t held back by what others perceive as a limitation. Including
you. Maybe it’s time to just accept her for who she is?”
Aeric responded with a non-committal grunt. Even if he wasn’t going to agree with Harry right then, his
words were worth thinking about, “I should go.”
“Let me walk you to your car.”
Outside, Aeric paused on the walk and frowned as he held his hands up, “What the hell.”
Tilting his head upward, Harry smiled as a few fluffy white flakes settled onto his cheeks, “Heh. It’s snowing.
I guess winter is finally here.”
Groaning, Aeric grumbled, “I could have lived without seeing snow again.”
“I’ll see you again next week for training, right?”
Frowning, Aeric was silent for a moment before he nodded, “Fine. Next week.”
By the time Aeric arrived home, the sun had set with snow continuing to steadily fall. Much to his irritation,
a light coating had stuck to the ground in a growing blanket of white. All the way up to the steps, he
grumbled about eternal winter and why couldn’t they skip at least one blasted winter? Didn’t they deserve a
break? Abruptly, he caught sight of Moon standing at the top of the stairs, waiting for him as if she had
known exactly when he would get home.
Stopping, Aeric looked away from her towards the pond where her little tea party had been set up. He could
see one of her dolls still sitting beneath the tree, slowly being covered by the falling snow. Looking back to
her, he took a deep breath and went to the top of the steps to join her.
Hesitantly, she smiled and carefully mouthed several words.
A warm smile changed Aeric’s expression in an instant, “You saved me pie.”
Leaning down, he pulled her into a fierce hug, “I love you, Moon. You and your brother and sister, no matter
how loud or quiet any of you are.”
He felt a wave of warm relief and love wash over him as she held on tight. Even though she said nothing, he
knew she loved him back. Somehow, it felt like everything was going to be okay..
The first snowfall was quickly followed by another and then another. Eventually, the leaves were gone and
any last vestiges of autumn were covered by a thick mantle of white. Most of the children delighted in the
brisk chill and the chance to have epic snowball fights. They definitely didn’t understand their parents and
grandparents anxious complaints about the return of winter.
Before long, it was confirmed by meteorologists that this was indeed a normal winter, and eventually a
normal spring would arrive. Finally, the seasons of Terra Lostundo were marching in time with the rest of the
The seasons weren’t the only thing marching in tune with time.
“AGAIN!” Josephine Legacina bellowed with a hysterical giggle as she played with her big sister. Fearing that
the point was not made the first time, she repeated herself, “Again Eeese! Again!
“It’s LOU-eeese, Jo.” Louise grinned and tried to correct the pronunciation of her name yet again. She didn’t
mind so much, but the egg-head in her pushed her to teach her sister the correct way to say her name.
Almost defiantly, Jo stated again, “Eeese. Do it! Do again!”
Louise laughed, “Fine! But it’s your birthday tonight and you start school this week, so no more ‘Eeese’.
You’re going to say my name correctly after you get your cake.”
“NO!” Jo giggled and then pointed before asking, “Again?”
Rolling her eyes, Louise couldn’t help but smile, “Oh fine. Where’d Jojo go? Where’s Little Jo?”
That night, it was a full house for the birthday girl. If Oz was shy, Jo was most determinedly not and was
delighted to be the center of attention at a typical Legacina birthday party. She pointed and grinned at
everyone, announcing the occasion, “My birfday! My!”
“We know, Jojo.” Louise was the one chosen to bring Josephine to the cake. Matthew had grumped about it,
but relented when Louise gave him the ‘please grandpa’ eyes. “Make a wish, lil’ sis.”
“NO!” Jo declared, but then reached for the candles, “No wish! Wanna grow ups now!”
Eventually candles were blown out and Jo grew up from a stubborn, energentic toddler into a stubborn,
energetic child, “This is awesome!” She’d quickly grabbed a piece of cake and then disappeared to change.
When she came back out, she was happily sporting a new look.
As she rushed over to the couch and jump on it like a ‘big kid’, Persephone gasped, “Josephine! What did
you do to your beautiful hair?”
Without pausing in her enthusiastic gymnastics, the tomboyish little girl happily announced, “I cut it!”
Persephone had never been afraid of keeping up with her brothers, but she had always been a distinctly
feminine girl and woman. She stared agahst at her granddaughter, “But.. but why?”
Wrinkling her nose, Jo continued bouncing on the couch as she explained, “‘cause it was annoying. It was
long and in my eyes and bothering my face and I have more important things to worry about now that I’m
a big kid. So I found a pair of scissors and I cut it.”
Later that evening, Persephone would find the remnants of Jo’s long hair on the floor of her bathroom.
After most of the guests had gone home, the three Legacina children had an impromptu meeting in the
kitchen as they cleared away dishes. Even if they had a maid, they were still expected to do a certain
amount of cleaning up after a party.
“So what do you think, Jojo?” Louise smiled down at her tomboy sister and shy brother.
“I finally got to explore upstairs and downstairs without gramps and grams and mom and pops freaking
out.” Jo exclaimed, “But I couldn’t find my bedroom.” Face screwing up in a familiar look of defiance, she
stated, “I am NOT going to sleep in the nursery anymore.”
Louise chuckled, “That’s because you’re going to be sharing my bedroom. We’ve already got a bed set up
“What?” Josephine blinked and then looked between her older brother and sister, a confused look on her
Oz spoke carefully since she must not have heard the first time, “You and Louise are g.going to be sharing a
“I know that, Ozzz.” Jo dragged out his name as she expressed her annoyance, “And that’s totally not fair at
all. You get a room to yourself and Louise has had a room to herself until I got here and now I HAVE to
share. That’s so not fair.”
He blinked and a worried expression fell across his features, “I.. I’m sorry, Jo. I.. I didn’t know you’d be
upset. I.. I guess I c.could..”
“Oz, no.” Louise stepped in and gently stopped the direction of his thoughts, “You get to keep your room. Jo
and I can share and she can deal with it.”
Josephine stamped her foot defiantly, “That’s not FAIR.”
“We’ve got the bigger room, so we have more stuff in our room. Oz’s room isn’t nearly as nice as ours is.”
Oz started to protest, but Louise shot him a quelling glance, “On top of that, when I go to college, you’ll get
the room to yourself for almost as long as I had the room to myself before you became a big kid.” Giving a
helpless shrug, she added, “It’s either that or you can stay in the nursery like a baby.”
“I am NOT a baby!” Josephine looked between them and snorted, “Fine. I’ll share a room with you, but I
won’t like it!”
Later that night, Louise smiled as she tucked her baby sister back into her own bed. She had woken up to
find Josephine curled up beside her. Despite her protests and demands for a room of her own, at some point
Josephine had climbed into bed with Louise.
Louise smiled gently, “Love you too, Jojo. Even if you are a pain in the butt.”
Jo wasn’t the only toddler to enter the world of childhood that winter. Not long after Josephine’s birthday,
the Whedonberry twins also grew up. They, of course, had a huge party where they raced from room to
room meeting everyone they didn’t already know, especially their cousins. It had taken an edict from both
Miranda and Dean to get them into bed, and that was only with the added incentive that they started school
the very next morning.
The twins were initially going to have separate bedrooms since the house had so much room, but both
children had protested rather loudly when Miranda and Dean had shown them their separate rooms. In the
end, they gave in and let the twins share a bedroom.
Ash was the first one up. Throwing back the covers, he blinked at the bright light streaming in the windows.
He was eager to start school and see all of his cousins again.
Putting his feet down on the cold floor, he immediately yanked them back, “Brrr!” Peeking over the little wall
that divided his space from his sisters, he grinned and lightly poked the top of her head. When that didn’t
seem to work, he bounced on his knees and announced loudly, “Come on, Ava. It’s time to get up. Wakey-
wakey eggs and bacon.”
Ava groaned and rolled back over to bury her face in the pillow. Muffled words responded to his gentle poke
to the top of her head, “Don’ wanna get up. Gonna stay in bed where it’s warm.” There was a pause and
she added, “S’not ‘wakey-wakey eggs and bacon’. It’s ‘wakey-wakey eggiliciousness and bacinators’. Do it
He just grinned and kept staring down at the top of her head.
Finally she cracked an eye open and looked balefully up at him.
His grin just grew even wider, “Come on, let’s play. We got time ‘fore the bus comes.”
A short time later, Miranda stood leaning against the door frame, watching her children play. A bemused
smile curved her lips as she became lost in thought.
Coming up behind her, Dean quirked an irrepressible grin, “Morning, beautiful.”
Miranda flashed a smile over her shoulder at her husband, “Jelly-Dean, I didn’t wakinate you, did I? You
were still sawing serious z’s when I got up.” She held out a hand to him as he pulled her into a hug so he
could nuzzle her neck. She gave a protesting little laugh and said, “Jelly-Dean, behave!”
He just gave her a playfully lecherous grin, “That’s not what you said last night.” Still, he pulled back enough
to look into the room. He raised an eyebrow at what he saw, “What are the munchkins doing?”
Miranda grinned as she followed his perplexed gaze, “They’re being twinifferous.”
The twins sat on the floor facing one another with their hands pressed palm to palm. Each was wearing
similar, mysterious little smiles. Neither moved or made a sound for the longest time, but their eyes seemed
to dance as if they if they were sharing a very private joke.
Suddenly, Ash stuck his tongue out at Ava, causing her to blink and then giggle. Lurching forward, she
tackled him with a tickle assault, creating even more giggles between the two of them.
Dean raised an eyebrow and stated succinctly, “Our children are weird.”
Miranda gave him a look, “They’re OUR children, Jelly-Dean. Did you expect anything less than
Moving in front of her and gently rubbing a hand over the pregnant swell of her belly, Dean grinned, “Of
course not. I expect this one to live up to the Wonderful World of Whedonberry Weird as well. He’s going to
be bundle of fun just like his siblings.” Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “What do you think of the name
Laughing, Miranda leaned forward and gave him a tender kiss. As her lips brushed against his, she said
softly, “I think it sounds Samtabulous.”
“Ewwww! They’re kissing!” The two children chorused together.
Smirking, Miranda waddled into the room and she took control of the situation, “Okay Aviator and Ashes, it’s
time to get readified for school officiousness. Are your uniforms still hanging up?” She’d made sure to clean
and press them the night before, even though they had only been worn long enough to make sure they fit.
“Yes Mama.” Ash smiled and dashed over to where his uniform was hanging up.
Ava just stood there looking down at her feet.
“Aviator, sweetling, what’s wrong?” Miranda tilted her head as she saw her daughter’s expression.
“I don’ wanna go, Mama.”
“But it’ll be funneriffic, my Aviator.” Miranda knelt down with some difficulty to catch her daughter’s eye.
Gently she added, “You’ll get to meet lots of new funderful people and your teacher will have
awesomesauce stuff for you to do. You’ll also get to see all of your cousins. Jokerphine is even in the same
grade as you. It’ll be a good day.”
“No it won’t. Tomorrow will be better, so I’ll go then.” She looked up with a pleading expression, “I wanna
be in the same class as Ash, Mama and Daddy.”
“Sweetling, you are in the same class. Mr. Walter told us that you two could be together when he was here
Ash stepped up and tickled his sister, instantly earning a protesting giggle, “It’s gonna be okay, Ava. We’re
gonna have lots of fun and get to meet lots of new people on top of getting to see lots of people we already
She gave him an uncertain look but his enthusiastic smile was slowly winning her over.
“Besides, I’ll be sad if you don’t come with me on the bus. It’s our first a’venture together.” His obnoxious
pout was all it took for her to giggle and finally agree to start getting ready for the bus.
Later, during lunchtime at the prestigious Lostundo Prepatory School for Gifted Academics, Ash sat with Jo
in the gymnasium. Much to his and Ava’s dismay, they had been assigned to different classrooms even
though the Headmaster had promised they could stay together.
Glancing worriedly towards the door, he said once more, “Ava should be here by now.”
Jo gave him a cross-eyed look, “You already said that. Three times. We’ve only been here for five minutes,
“I know.” Ash shook his head, “It’s not fair. The stinky guy that came to dinner said we could be in the same
class together, but the scary old lady in the office put us in different classes.”
“That’s Foul Fuglesnot. She’s an ancient evil. Star says she’s a mummy and she lives on the suffering of
others.” Jo nodded sagely. “Everyone has the same lunchtime, though, so Ava should be here soon. You told
her to come to the gym, right?”
“I did, but what if she doesn’t know how to get here.”
Jo made an exasperated noise, “Damn Ash, you two should have been condoned twins or something with
the way you want to be together all the time.”
Ash’s brow furrowed as he questioned, “Condoned twins?”
“Yeah. Or contorted twins or something like that. It means sharing the same two legs or only having half a
brain each. Like totally connected.” At the look on his face, she rolled her eyes but said reassuringly, “If
she’s not here in a couple minutes, we’ll go look for her.”
“Okay Jo.” Ash grinned, “You’re the awesomesauce!”
Elsewhere in the school, the little girl in question was miserable. Ava had just known today would be
horrible. How she had known, she couldn’t really say, but her gut had told her all morning her that she
wasn’t going to have a good day.
First, the mean old lady in the front office had glared at her and Ash when they told her they were
supposed to be in a class together. She’d put them in separate classes. Ava had never spent any time apart
from Ash, so this was the first time she’d actually ever experienced the feeling of loneliness. Even other kids
trying to be nice couldn’t cut through her misery.
If that weren’t bad enough, now she couldn’t find her way to the gym where Ash was waiting. Trying not to
cry, she mumbled, “Come on wonder twin powers, activate. Tell me where Ash is?”
It wasn’t working.
Just down the hall, Mercedes Turner was happily sharing some mean-spirited gossip with her circle of
friends, “Then she turned around and dropped the entire tray of juice all over herself. I’ve never seen
anyone be that clumsy before. It’s amazing anyone even lets her out of the house.”
“Well, someone has to be a loser, don’t they?” Danielle Sweeney didn’t really like Mercedes, but the two girls
were of a kind so seemed drawn together.
Ty stood there listening to the two of them and chuckling at the appropriate moments until he could
interrupt, “Hey guys, check out the cry baby down the hall. Isn’t she one of the new kids that started
Ava ran a hand across her nose, sniffling miserably as she looked down the other hallway again. How hard
was it supposed to be to find the biggest room in the whole school anyway?
Raising a hand to wipe her wet cheeks, Ava turned towards the voice. It didn’t’ sound very friendly, but
maybe whoever it was could tell her where the gym was. With a quavering voice she answered, “Me?”
“I don’t see any other whiny babies down here, do you guys?” Mercedes sauntered up to Ava trailed by the
other two kids, both of whom laughed.
Ava’s eyes widened as she recognized Mercedes. She didn’t really know the other girl well, but she had been
at their birthday party the other night, “M.M.Mercedes?”
“Oh look!” Mercedes gave an obnoxiously delighted laugh as she turned to her two companions, “The
monkey can talk!”
“I’m not a monkey...”
“Well you sure look like one.” Mercedes rolled her eyes in a conspiratorial way with Danielle, “She’s stupid
like one too, doesn’t even realize she’s an ugly little monkey.”
Danielle laughed uproariously, “How stupid can you get?”
Ava’s eyes widened with shock, “Why.. why are you being so mean? You.. you came to my house. You’re my
cousin. Mama said so.”
Mercedes gave a dismissive snort, “As if.” Looking to Danielle she asked, “Do I look like a monkey to you?
How silly that she thinks I’d ever admit to being related to something like her.”
“So what are you crying about, Monkey-face?” Danielle smirked at Ava as she tried to outdo Mercedes’
insults, “Did you forget your banana? Howabout your baba? Or maybe you need a diaper change? If your
parents are as stupid as you are, I bet they never even remembered to potty train you.”
As Ava protested with incoherent little sobs, Mercedes quietly moved back from the group to let Danielle and
Ty carry on the insults. A quick look up and down the hall reassured her that no one else had witnessed her
An amused little smile curled her lips. She knew very well who Ava was, but she didn’t exactly care. Under
her breath, she murmured haughtily, “If I’m not good enough for Louise, why should I give a crap about the
rest of them?”
Leaning back against the wall, she continued to watch with amusement as Danielle brutally berated her
useless little cousin.
Over on the other side of the school, the cafeteria was buzzing with conversation and the clatter of plates.
The smells from the kitchen were an odd mix of appealing and unappetizing, but the typical hits and misses
of the school’s cooks did nothing to diminish the happy chatter as friends and classmates sat together and
socialized as much as they ate.
Oz might panic when faced with a large crowd, but he did just fine when it was him and a couple friends. As
was the norm, he shared a table with his three closest friends - Hugh, Chastity and Moon. Even though
Moon didn’t add much to the conversation, the other two chattered enough to make up for her.
Chastity, a distant cousin through the Thompson branch of the family tree was happily talking about her
plans for her upcoming birthday party. It was still a little while away, but she would be the first among the
small group to become a teenager. “My dad took me to get my hair cut so I can look pretty for my birthday.
Do you guys like it?”
Moon gave an encouraging little smile, then looked towards Oz for his response. Even if she didn’t’ say
anything, they all just knew she was passing the conversation to him.
Oz wasn’t exactly sure what he was supposed to say, so he nodded too, “It.. it looks nice.”
Chastity nodded encouragingly and smiled brightly, obviously expecting him to say more.
His cheeks colored faintly as he stammered, “It m.makes you look older. Like a t.teenager.” Changing the
subject, he quickly said, “D.do you guys think you can go to the park this weekend? Lou said they’re putting
in an ice skating rink now that it’s c.cold enough. I’ll p.probably suck, but it sounds like fun.”
Hugh grinned and said, “You’ll do fine, Oz. You did okay that time my mom took us roller skating and she
says that ice skating is real close.” He thought for a second and said, “Hey, do you think maybe Georgia
Newsom could come with us?”
Chastity gave Hugh a curious look, “Why do you want to bring Georgia?”
“‘Cause she’s really cool. She came home with me after school one day last week and we had a lot of fun.”
Hugh grinned and closed his eyes with a dreamy expression, “Did you know that she’s got three brothers
and two sisters? Can you imagine having that many brothers and sisters? That would be so cool.”
The conversation turned to playful teasing as Oz and Hugh traded ‘horror’ stories about what it was like to
be an only child versus having siblings. For Moon, the babble around her faded into distant whispers as
something on the wind called for her attention.
She listened to something only she could hear for a long moment before her eyes widened with a look of
worry. Turning back to the others, she knocked on the table to get their attention.
Chastity blinked, “Moon, what is it?”
Getting up, she waved her arms urgently, trying to get them to follow her.
“Moon, what’s wrong? What is it?” Hugh slid out of his chair and gave her a confused look as the others
Thinking hard for a moment, she tried to explain as best she could. With a combination of mouthed words
and gestures, she tried to get her point across.
Oz got it first as he blinked, “There’s trouble with Ash and Ava?” Brow furrowing, he tried to get the next
part, “I don’t know what you’re saying Moon, but I think you want us to go stop it?”
She nodded quickly and turned to run out of the cafeteria.
“Hey you kids, no running!” The lunch lady shouted after them.
Oz hurried to catch up to Moon. Taking charge, his stutter disappeared, “Hugh and Chas, you two go see if
you can find Lou and Star. I don’t know what’s going on, but Moon seems really worried and I think we’re
going to need them. Lou will know what to do.”
Chastity gave a quick frown, but nodded, “I’ll go check the library and the science lab.”
Hugh’s face lit up with a grin, “Awesome! That means I get the high school classrooms. SO cool!”
Not waiting, Moon hurried on ahead letting the others catch up on their own.
Back in the grade school hallway, Danielle and Ty had reduced Ava to sobs. “Aw look, little baby monkey
face wants her brother, hahaha!” Other children watched, but while they weren’t necessarily participating,
they also weren’t stepping in to help Ava. No one wanted to chance becoming the next target of the bullies.
Well, almost no one.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Leave her alone!”
Jo and Ash came around the corner just in time to watch Danielle give Ava another little shove. As Jo had
promised, they’d waited another few minutes then gone looking for Ava. Ash had actually made it three
minutes before he started pestering Jo again. As they headed down to where the classrooms were, they
soon heard the mean-spirited laughter over the top of a little girl’s sobs.
“You leave my sister alone!”
Ignoring the clustered kids, Ash rushed to his sister’s side, “It’s okay Ava, I’m here now.” He put a protective
hand on her shoulder and her sobs quieted almost instantly into pitiful sniffles.
“Th.th.they c.called me m.monkey f.face, Ash. Am I r.r.really that u.u.u.ugly?”
Ash shot a glare at the laughing kids who had been picking on his sister as he put an arm around her
shoulders, “Nuh uh, Ava, you’re not ugly. Grandma says you look like Mama and Daddy both and that makes
you the prettiest girl in this school.”
“Hah! If it’s a school for monkeys maybe!”
“You shut up!” Jo had had enough watching Ava cry. She might roll her eyes at her cousins’ weirdness, but
they were HER family. “Ava didn’t do nothing to nobody, so just go crawl back into the hole you came from.”
“This is none of your business!” Danielle was riding a high from the feeling of power she got from making
Ava cry, so there was no way she was going to back down at this point. “Why don’t you go back to your
nursery and see if your bottle is ready.”
Jo rolled her eyes, “Is that all you’ve got? My dog could come up with a better insult than that. Maybe she
could give you some lessons or something.”
Before Danielle could respond, Moon appeared around the corner quickly followed by a breathless Oz. The
two of them looked at the scene before them with wide eyes before Moon’s expression grew even more
anxious and she went over to check on Ava.
Oz swallowed at all the faces that turned towards him and Moon, “C.come on, Jo. Whatever th.they said, it’s
not worth it.” Even though he’d avoided the worst of any bullying, he knew how they worked. It was usually
best to just walk away and avoid them at all costs.
“Oh wait! I get it now.” Danielle sneered and pointed at Moon, “You’re all those legacy freaks. Figures you’d
all be related to wimpy little Monkey-Face.” Smirking, she tilted her chin at Jo, “You’re the useless spare
whose sister will always do everything better.” Turning towards Moon, she sneered, “She’s the mutant freak
that can’t even talk. I hear her parents were so embarrassed at having a waste of space like her, they went
and had another baby to replace her.”
Turning, she pointed at Oz, “And then there’s you.” She mocked his stutter, “Th.th.the s.s.spineless Schnoz.
Don’t you have a rock to go hide under somewhere? Oh wait, that’s right. Your nose won’t fit.”
Jo had fully intended to walk away. While she might tease Oz relentlessly at home, she adored her big
brother just as much as she adored her big sister. She knew Oz was right and even if she wanted to punch
the other girl in the face, the smart thing to do would be to walk away.
Then Danielle had started talking.
“Jo don’t!” Oz saw the punch begin in Josephine’s expression, even before her hand clenched into a fist. He
knew it was coming, but there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it. Helpless, he covered his eyes
as Jo hauled back her fist like she was clutching a hammer. “Oh boy.”
Moon cringed with a helpless look on her face. For the first time in her young life, she regretted not being
able to capture attention like her older sister could.
Jo snarled as her punch landed solidly on Danielle’s nose, “NO ONE TALKS ABOUT MY BROTHER LIKE
Danielle went down with a yelp, “My node! I tink you bwoke my node!” This was the first time anyone had
ever actually fought back. It was the shock of that as much as the pain that left her sitting in a disheveled
heap on the floor.
“What the hell is going on here!?” A bellow came from down the hallway as three teenagers appeared from
around the corner.
Jo looked up, both hands clenched in fists as she said defiantly, “She was saying mean things about my
brother and my cousins.”
The older girl’s eyes narrowed as she began to stalk forward, “They probably deserved it you little snot. Now
you get to see what I do to you for punching MY little sister.”
Jo took an uncertain step backwards, “Uh oh.”
Elsewhere in the school, Hugh was racing through the hallways on his mission to find Louise and Star.
Grinning from ear to ear, he nearly barreled into a pair of chatting teens as he tried to look everywhere at
once. Finally, he was getting a glimpse of the fabled ‘high school’ floor where all the teenagers got to go. It
was like a fabled land he had only heard stories about.
“This is so cool!” Waving at a frowning teen as he raced past, Hugh remembered his mission, “Oh yeah. Lou
and Star. Hmmm. They gotta be up here somewhere.”
In fact, the two were hurriedly working mischief in a classroom down the hall. Star paced impatiently as she
kept a watching on the door while Louise worked on an air compressor attached to a huge inflatable
pumpkin. It was the third and final gigantic decoration they were setting up in the classroom usually
reserved for dry, sleep-inducing history lessons.
Star spun around again while keeping an eye on the door. Impatiently, she said, “Come on, Lou. Hurry up.
We need to get out of here before The Waddle gets back here.”
Louise frowned as she worked on the air compressor. Through gritted teeth, she tried to get the fussy part
jammed into place so it would stay, “I told you Star, this one is broken. If I can’t get this to stick, it’s going
to deflate the moment we leave.”
“Well hurry it up. The Waddle will be back any second now.” Star turned and playfully punched the giant cat
inflatable. It bobbed happily, obviously expecting to be at a costume party instead of in a pranked teacher’s
“I wish we had time to set up a camera to see Mrs. Wadelle’s face when she walks in.” Louise grinned as she
finally figured out how to get the finicky piece to stay in one place. “Where did you find these things
Star smirked, “My secret stash in the basement. I told you they’ve got a whole butt load of cool stuff hidden
down there, from holidays and school plays and...” She suddenly spun towards the door as she heard the
click of the door knob turning, “Oh crap! Someone’s coming!”
Louise quickly ducked down behind the pumpkin, but Star didn’t have time to hide. Thinking fast, she tried
to assume an expression of wide-eyed innocence as she said breathlessly, “Oh hi Mrs. Wadelle. Look at what
someone did to your classroom! I JUST got here so I couldn’t possibly have had ANYTHING to do with ...”
“Anything to do with what?” Hugh stepped in the door and stopped to blink at his two older cousins. Finally
taking in the large inflatable decorations, his eyes widened and his smile grew huge, “Oh wow that is so
COOL! See, I told Oz that it was totally cool to be a teenager, ‘cause I mean look at this. You guys are doing
“Hugh!?!?” Star let out an explosive sigh of relief before she gave him a cross look, “What the hell are you
doing up here? You scared the crap out of me.” The scowl couldn’t last, though. His grin was irrepressible.
Louise popped up from behind the pumpkin and blinked with a grin, “Hugh, what are you doing up here?”
“Oh yeah! I’m on a mission. I’m supposed to come get you guys.”
Star raised an eyebrow while Louise worked her way out from behind the big pumpkin. When Hugh didn’t
volunteer anything further, Louise prompted him, “Why?”
“Oh!” Hugh had been staring mesmerized at the big bobbing ghosts in the back of the room, “Moon started
freaking out ‘cause something bad was happening. She couldn’t really say what, but she was really worried,
so Oz sent me to find you guys while he went with her towards whatever was wrong.”
Star raised her hand to her face as she groaned, “What the hell. Only my sister would have some freakass
spider sense. Did Squeakless at least pantomime what kind of trouble is up?”
Hugh shook his head, “Oz said it would be bad and I should get you guys.”
Louise frowned, “I hope everything is okay. We should get out of here before Mrs. Wadelle gets back
Lifting his hands to beg, Hugh gave wide blue eyes to Louise and Star, “When we’re done can I come back
here and help you?”
Star rolled her eyes as Louise ruffled Hugh’s hair, “We’re done here, but maybe next time.”
“Shut up you little snot. No one treats my kid sister that way.” The older blond girl didn’t pull her punch in
the slightest as she hauled off and punched Josephine. It became readily apparent that Danielle had learned
her bullying the family way from her older sister Dierdre.
Jo went flying back onto the floor of the hallway even though she’d tried to dodge. She grunted in pain as
she rolled onto her stomach and felt the room spinning dizzyly around her. She’d hit Danielle hard, but
Dierdre was almost twice as big as she was. From the floor, she gave an agonized little whimper despite her
determination to be stoic.
Danielle smirked, “Now who’s the bigshot, Legabrat.”
Oz took a step forward as his voice cracked, “H.h.hey, you l.l.leave her alone!”
Dierdre just smirked in his direction and pulled her foot back to kick the stunned little girl on the ground.
Moon stared with a horrified expression. Reaching out, she tried to put a hand on Oz’s shoulder and hold
him back. Her hand closed on empty air as he moved forward.
Now, Oz was not a violent boy. He enjoyed playing games like cops and robbers, but no one ever died when
he shot them. He’d insist he was using a stun gun. If he accidentally hurt someone while playing, he’d
instantly fall all over himself apologizing. But even gentle, quiet Oz had his breaking point.
Jerking free of Moon’s hold on his shoulder, he ran forward and shoved Dierdre back just before she could
land a kick on Josephine as she struggled to get to her feet, “I said l.leave her alone! G.go p.pick on
someone your own size!”
“You pushed me.” Dierdre was utterly shocked as she stared incredulously at Oz, “You actually pushed me.
Now you’re going to pay, stutter boy.”
Moon trembled with frustration and fear as she watched Oz rush headlong into the fight. Biting her lower
lip, she quickly came to a decision and rushed forward to join him. They might be outmatched by the bigger
kids, but she wouldn’t let him stand alone.
Things quickly got out of hand. Moon was knocked to the floor by one of Dierdre’s friends before she could
be of much help to Oz against the much bigger and meaner Dierdre. Josephine was still having trouble
finding her equilibrium as she tried to stand up.
And Oz? Well, he was about to find out just how hard Dierdre could punch.
“DON’T YOU EVEN DARE!”
Racing down the stairs, Star eschewed the last few steps in favor of leaping over the railing to head straight
into the fight, “You lay a hand on either of them and you are in for a world of hurt!”
Louise took the more conventional route down as she finished the last few steps, ‘What the heck is going
on! Oz! Jojo! Are you guys okay?”
For his part, Hugh followed the two older girls breathlessly, “See. I told you Moon saw trouble coming. Oh
wow, is that Oz fighting someone! GO OZ!”
Suddenly the fight became an all out brawl.
Louise rushed to Oz’s rescue, getting between him and Diedre to block the punch she’d been intending to
land on the vulnerable boy’s head. The blond girl only hesitated for a moment before she snarled and
turned her full attention to Louise.
Heading to the girl pushing Moon down, Star growled wolfishly, “Back off, bitch!”
Scrambling back on the floor, Moon just tried to get out of the way.
As Moon got out of the way, a furious Star landed a punch on the brunette, “Picking on the dorks wasn’t
enough for you anymore, you had to start on the little kids, huh?”
The brunette’s eyes widened as she quickly realized she was in trouble if she didn’t get out of here soon.
Panicked, she quickly dodged another punch from Star as she squealed, “Dierdre, help!”
“Help yourself, Allison! I’m a little busy here.”
“Ash, this is all my fault.” Ava had stopped crying, but that was more the result of shock than any sense of
calm, “M.make them stop. They’re all fighting ‘cause of me. It’s my fault.”
“GET HER, LOU! GET HER GOOD!” Ash bellowed before he turned to reassure his sister, “Ava, this wasn’t
your fault. It was their fault for being meanie heads.”
She looked unconvinced. Cringing, she hid her face behind her hands.
“Looks like we’re a little more evenly matched now, eh?” Jo had finally made it to her feet. She was going to
have a killer headache when the adrenaline went away and she was already sporting a serious black eye,
but that didn’t stop the huge grin on her face as she advanced on Danielle.
Eyes wild, Danielle looked to see if Dierdre was there to back up. Realizing her sister was busy with Louise,
she set her jaw and tried to push Jo down before the other girl could hit her again.
Quickly, the two of them were slugging one another relentlessly.
Still watching from a little ways down the hall, Mercedes swallowed nervously. Things had gotten out of
hand much quicker than she had thought they would. Taking a deep breath, she sniffed disdainfully as she
tried to act nonchalant, “Serves them right, stuck-up snobs.” That lasted only as long as it took Star to land
another wicked punch.
“I.. just remembered. I need to pick up a project in the art room. Time to go.” Things had gone on too long
without a teacher noticing. That wasn’t going to last forever and it would be best if she wasn’t there when
that happened. Swiftly, she turned to go...
...only to bump directly into the chest of a teen boy. Looking up, she met his gaze as he looked back down
at her. For a moment, there was an awkward silence between them before she said, “Wow. Nasty fight. I
was going to go get a teacher.”
He snorted softly as he met her gaze, “Sure you were. You’d watched long enough to get some
entertainment out of everyone beating the crap out of each other, right?”
A furtively guilty expression crossed her face as she tried to reply, “I..”
Disgusted, he jerked his head, “Get out of here before you make it worse.”
As Mercedes fled down the hall, the boy turned towards the fight, “Hey, everyone chill out. Don’t make me
get the other hall monitors involved.” As expected, they ignored him. Rolling his eyes, he waded into the
fight, “HEY! Stop it NOW!”
A few of the kids on the periphery backed up, but those involved in the worst of the melee didn’t respond.
Left with no alternative, the boy reached in and grabbed the first fist he saw flying, “I said cut it out!”
“Back off McCarthy! This is none of your business.” Dierdre snarled as he stopped the punch she’d been
aiming at Louise’s face. Jerking her arm free, she tried to dive back at the other girl.
George McCarthy rolled his eyes, “Of course you’d be in the center of this, Sweeney.” Yanking back on her
arm, he pulled her out of the fight, “Quit it this instant or you’re going to make me write all of you up.”
“I told you to stay the hell out of my business, George!” Dierdre growled at him, “You’re just some trumped
up townie that got a free ride to our school as a charity case. Why the hell should anyone listen to you?”
George McCarthy clenched his teeth tightly as he forced himself to ignore the girl’s taunts, “I’m a hall
monitor, Dierdre, that’s why you should listen to me.”
“So what?” The fight was breaking up slowly, but Dierdre was simply switching her ire from the Legacinas to
George, “My father could buy and sell this school a dozen times over. I don’t have to listen to what you say.”
“Maybe that’s true, but it won’t change things when your father gets a call from the Headmaster.”
“How the hell would HE find out? You gonna tell him, tattletale?”
“I won’t have to.” George said as he narrowed his eyes and jerked his head towards the administration
hallway, “I know for a fact that Ms. Fuglesnot is on her way here right now with Headmaster Walter, Mrs.
Wadelle and Mr. Trent right behind her.”
“WHAT!?” Dierdre’s friend Allison squealed, “I can’t afford to get another detention. They threatened to
suspend me if I got caught fighting again. My mother will freak!”
Dierdre rolled her eyes, “Like I care. They can’t do anything to me.”
Behind her, Danielle whined, “Deedee, dad said if he got another call from Headmaster Walter, we were both
gonna be grounded. I don’t want to lose my riding lessons.”
“FINE.” Without a backward glance, Dierdre stalked down the hall away from the scene. Dutifully her friends
and her sister filed in behind her and left the hallway behind.
Slowly, George let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.
“THAT WAS AWESOME!” Jo rushed up to George, “You totally made them freak out and run away. I hate
them, but you totally put them in their place! I’m Josephine!”
George blinked down at the little girl, “Whoa kid, you’ve got a really bad black eye there. You should
probably get to the nurse.” He quirked a hint of a smile at her unabated smile, “I’m George. I’d say it’s nice
to meet you, but you guys better get out of here before anyone gets in trouble.”
Louise stepped up and offered an uncharacteristically hesitant smile, “Thank you so much for helping us out
there. I mean, I know it was probably hard to tell who started what, but they were picking on my kid
brother and sister and Star’s kid sister, and..” She finally shrugged, “Thank you.”
George blinked as if seeing her for the first time. A crooked grin formed, “No problem. Seriously though, you
guys should scatter before the Headmaster shows up. I don’t want to see you get in trouble.” He looked
away from Louise and cleared his throat, “That goes for all of you. Hurry up and get out of here. And don’t
let me catch you fighting again or I’ll really have to write you up.”
With a little wave and a backwards glance in Louise’s direction, he headed off down the hallway.
Moon stood there, silent as always, staring up at Star who was glaring at George’s retreating back. With a
gentle and understanding expression, she reached out and touched her sister’s hand.
Star jerked slightly as she felt her sister’s fingers brush hers. A look of frustration and guilt crossed her face
as she looked down at the sympathetic face staring back up at her. Softly she muttered, “Oh shut up. What
do you know anyway?” In opposition to her grumbled words, she warmly took her sister’s hand, “Come on
guys. Let’s get out of here.”
As everyone else scattered, Ava threw her arms around her brother, “Ash I don’t like it here without you.
Can we go home now?”
“Any children found trying to leave the school property before the end of the day will be brought up on
truancy charges.” The snarled words came from the angry looking woman leading several other adults into
Headmaster Vince Walter groaned and rubbed his temple, “Agnes, please. I have asked you time and time
again to stop assuming the worst about the students of our school.”
The infamous Agnes Fuglesnot shot him a glare, “I don’t assume the worst, I KNOW the worst.”
Ignoring her, Vince went up to the two remaining children in the hallway and offered a friendly smile, “Mr.
and Ms. Whedonberry, today is your first day of school, isn’t it? How has it been going for you two?”
Ash refrained from wrinkling his nose. Vince smelled of stale aftershave, but otherwise he seemed to be a
nice man. Sparing a quick glance at Fuglesnot, he looked up at the headmaster and said, “It’s been a
horrible day so far, Mr. Walter. She put us in different classes even though you said we could stay together.
Ava’s been really really sad.”
On cue, Ava gave a sniffle and a wide-eyed nod.
“Siblings should not be allowed in the same class together.” Ms. Fuglesnot announced firmly.
Turning, Vince glared at his secretary, “Agnes, I have had about enough of this. I reassured the parents of
these TWINS that they could be in a class together, yet your inflexible attitude and disregard of my
directions makes me out to be a liar.”
“That’s Headmaster Walter to you, Agnes. Return to the office and fix this mistake of yours. Ash and Ava
Whedonberry will be assigned to the same class first thing tomorrow.”
Ava leaned over towards Ash and whispered softly, “See. I told you tomorrow would be a better day.”
That afternoon, Mercedes hopped off the bus without a backwards glance to the driver. The driver shrugged
and pulled the door shut before driving off to the next stop.
Today had been a close call. While she hadn’t done anything wrong, she knew most people wouldn’t
understand her situation. She had come very close to getting in trouble. She didn’t think anyone had seen
her start picking on Ava, but she wasn’t completely sure and that could be bad news.
“Hey kiddo, how was your day?” Micah called out cheerfully. He and Genesis both sat awekwardly
onloveseat as Mercedes walked in. Both looked amused, slightly guilty, and as if they were both about to
burst out laughing.
Mercedes gave them both an uncertain look, “My day was fine. Why wouldn’t it be?” Realizing how that
sounded, she quickly added, “It was okay, but I’m glad I’m home now. Are Moms here?”
Genesis smiled and nodded, “They’re in the kitchen working on dinner. In fact, they wanted to talk to you
when you got home. They had something they wanted to tell you.”
As Mercedes headed towards the kitchen, Micah pulled Genesis back into his lap, earning a laugh and a
For her part, Mercedes was lost in thought and unaware of her grandparents affectionate antics. There had
been a brief moment of panic when she had thought her grandparents knew about what had happened
earlier that day. It was an uncomfortable prospect and one she didn’t enjoy thinking about too much.
“Mom, you wanted to see me? Hi Mom.” Mercedes found Julie working on dinner while Kiley kept her
Smiling, Kiley stepped forward, “How would you like to visit Twikkii Island?”
The little girl’s face lit up, “Really!? That would be totally awesome, Mom. When do we get to go?”
Giving a little shake of her head, Kiley smiled, “Your mother and I aren’t going. Your grandparents are going
to take you and your first cousins. Grandpa just bought a beach house with enough room for all of you. It’ll
be you, Jeremiah’s boys and Nate’s girls.”
Instead of the elated reaction Kiley had expected, Mercedes face screwed up in an angry look, “Aw, that’s
not fair. Do they have to come too? Why can’t it be just me and grandma and grandpa?”
Kiley blinked, taken aback, “Mercedes Michayla Turner, you are not your grandparents only grandchild. I
don’t know why you have such an attitude about your cousins. They’re good kids.”
“No they’re not.” In full temper tantrum mode, Mercedes ranted, “Noah is stupid, Aaron smells funny, Caleb
only thinks about his girlfriend and Jacob is always in front of the mirror. And even worse, Henrietta and
Irondequoit are just babies!”
Julie closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Keeping her voice calm and not turning around,
she said gently, “Mercedes, you are not forced to like your cousins, but you WILL be polite to them. The
boys have always been nice to you and you’re not going until after the girls’ birthday next week. You’re
going to have to face the fact that you will have to share your grandparents for once.”
In contrast to Julie’s calm, Kiley was barely hanging onto her temper, “If you ruin this vacation for your
grandparents, you’re going to be grounded for life, little miss.”
“Why can’t I just stay home with you?” Mercedes knew she was treading on thin ice here, so switched to
logic, “If I don’t want to spend time with my cousins, can’t I just stay home?”
“Not possible.” Kiley shook her head firmly, “Your mother and I are going to be taking a vacation of our own.
We have a .. business meeting of sorts in Takemizu, so we’re going there at the same time you go with your
grandparents to the beach house.”
Mercedes’ face screwed up in a pout that threatened to become tears, “FINE! I’ll go, but I won’t like it! I
hope you’re happy that I’m going to be miserable!” With that, she ran off to her room.
Kiley took a deep, calming breath and moved over to Julie’s side, “You were right. She’s worse than I
Turning, Julie pulled her wife into her arms, “No one likes to admit that there child is a brat, love. I think
there’s still a good kid in there, but she’s been the ‘only child’ for far too long.”
Reaching up to gently caress Julie’s face, Kiley asked, “Do you think our plan is going to fix that? I’d hate
Turning her face to kiss Kiley’s fingers, Julie smiled, “We’re not doing this for Mercedes. We’re doing it
because we want to. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll help bring her around. All we can do is hope for the best.”
“I don’t get why you think this is a bad idea.” Louise sat with Star in the Walton’s nursery as the two baby
sat Zephyr. It had been several days since the incident at school and the two best friends had been having
their first real disagreement.
“It’s not like he did anything special, Lou.” Star said with a roll of her eyes, “So what if he stopped the bitch
from punching you?”
A little voice between the girls piped up happily, “Bitch!”
Lou raised an eyebrow and looked at Star.
Star sighed, “Damnit. I keep forgetting to watch what I say around him. I didn’t have to do this around
“Damnit!” Zephyr giggled and added for good measure, “Bitch!”
Ignoring the cursing toddler, Louise gave Star a beseeching look, “Come on Star. You and I both know that if
he hadn’t stopped the fight, you could have gotten suspended. Ms. Fuglesnot has been looking for an
excuse to suspend you since you put that mouse in her desk.”
Groaning, Star said, “We had it under control, Lou. He didn’t need to come to our rescue.”
Louise just gave her a look.
Sullenly, Star shrugged, “Okay, maybe we didn’t have it under control. I still don’t think he did anything
“Please Star?” Louise had resorted to the puppy pout.
Groaning, Star said, “Quit it with the eyes, Lou. Fine, we can go ‘thank’ George McCarthy for saving us. I
Before Star could finish what she was saying, Louise tackled her in a hug, “Hah! I knew you’d say yes. Come
on, it’s an excuse to go downtown which is awesome!”
“ARGH! Get off me dumbass!” Star laughed and pushed her best friend off her before launching into a tickle
attack of her own.
Zephyr giggled and clapped happily, “Dumbass!”
Later, after a bewildered Brody had been left with a swearing grandson, Star and Louise had headed
downtown to Cold Issue Clothing. It was a well regarded store among the teen population, but it also
happened to be where George McCarthy worked evenings as a cashier.
“Oh hey George! I didn’t know you worked here. Well, actually, I did but I wasn’t sure if you’d actually be
working tonight. Not that we came here just to seey ou, but since you’re here, I figured it would be cool to
say hi and thank you for what you did at school last week. So hi and thank you! We might have been okay,
but it might have gotten a lot worse if teachers had stepped in to stop it, so I guess we really owe you, not
that you were a white knight or anything, but it was still really awesome what you did when you stepped in
to stop the fight.” Louise said it all in one breath as George turned to face them. Very quickly, she added,
“Oh and there’s a party at my house next weekend would you like to come?”
Star groaned and rolled her eyes, “Geeze Louise. Obvious crush much?”
Louise gave Star a pointed ‘shut up’ look.
“Wait, what?” George blinked between the two girls.
Star rolled her eyes and looked down at her watchless wrist, “I told you he wouldn’t be interested, Lou. Can
we go now?”
Tilting his head, George looked from Star back to Louise, “Uhm. You’re welcome, I think. I’d hate to see
Dierdre and her crew get anyone else in trouble when they’re usually the problem.” He paused and then
asked more hesitantly, “Are you inviting me to a party?”
Giving a sheepish, lopsided grin Louise nodded, “Yeah. It’s my brother’s birthday party, so it’s kinda dorky
family stuff, but it’s usually a fun time.”
Leaning over, Star muttered to Louise, “Inviting a guy to your kid brother’s birthday party isn’t really the
way to say ‘Hey, I think you’ve got sexy pants.’”
“Star!” Louise was mortified.
“It sounds like fun.” George gave a crooked grin, “I was wondering how your kid brother and sister were
doing anyway and I have that night off, so.. yeah, I’d love to come.”
“What!?” Star stared at George with a stunned expression, “You’re actually saying yes?”
“Awesome!” Louise beamed a brilliant smile as her hidden nervousness completely evaporated, “Jo thinks
you’re absolutely brilliant so she’ll be thrilled to see you there too.”
“It’s next Saturday, right?” George grinned, “I’ll need directions on how to get to your house.”
Quickly the two were exchanging phone numbers and addresses.
Feeling like a third wheel, Star slipped away muttering to herself, “They didn’t even notice I left. Not like I
was needed in that conversation. ‘Oh George, how manly you are with your crooked nose. I bet your butt
looks nice in these ripped jeans you’re selling. Oh, my heart goes flitter flutter, I just might faint.’ Blech!”
Ending with a retching sound, she wandered over to look at the jewelry.
Looking down she added thoughtfully, “I wonder how much Dad would flip out if I got my belly button
pierced? Hey Lou, how do you think I’d look with..” She looked up and frowned as she realized the other girl
was still lost in conversation with George.
Star gave a frustrated sigh and went back to browsing the jewelry.
“I don’t think your friend likes me very much.” George gave a rueful shrug as he watched Star wander up to
“Nah.” Louise smiled, “She’s always a little grumpy like that. It’s just the way she is. When she gets to know
someone, she’s fine. We’ve totally been best friends since we were little kids, so I know she’ll end up liking
“You’re uh.. just best friends, not anything more?” George asked hesitantly showing a little more interest
than he had wanted to, “I mean, she seems kind of jealous. I thought maybe you two..”
“More?” Louise blinked with a confused look before understanding dawned. She laughed, “Oh no, nothing
like that. Star’s like my sister. We do everything together, but she wouldn’t be jealous that way.”
“Oh. Okay.” George quirked a faintly relieved smile, “I’ll take your word for it.”
Whether she was jealous or not, Star continued grumbling to herself.
Despite a miserable first day of school, things had immediately gotten better for Ash and Ava. True to his
word, Headmaster Walter made sure they were put in the same class that very next day. Oddly enough, the
bullies seemed to steer clear of them when they were together, so from then on, the inseparable pair found
school to be a wonderful time.
Very quickly, the Whedonberry home became the place to hang out after school. Even when they couldn’t
quite make sense of what the twins or their mother were going on about, it was always a good time.
It was not uncommon for there to be one, two or several extra children there for dinner every night.
Occasionally Dean would raise an eyebrow and ask the various cousins and children if they actually
remembered where their own homes were, but Miranda would just give him a playful whack and make sure
there was enough food for everyone. Entertaining a crowd was in her blood after all.
“Your spaghetti is awesome, Aunt Miranda.” Hugh was already popping a meatball into his mouth.
Ash grinned brilliantly, “It’s the Awesome Sauce! Where’s mine, Mom?”
“It’s coming, Ashes. Just hold your equines.”
Once all the children were served, Miranda put the platter down on the counter and went to grab her own
plate. Glancing back at the table, she gave a little shake of her head and a sigh, “Aviator, try not to
shovelinate the food into your mouth. It’s rudacious to eat like that, especially in front of guests.”
Around the hand shoved in her mouth, Ava mumbled something that sounded like ‘sorry mama’. Of course,
it was hard to look dainty next to Moon who seemed to be the epitome of the word.
Miranda smiled and reached for a plate, only to stop with a confused expression on her face, “Oh. Oh!
“OW! It’s time!”
“Hmm? Time for what?” Dean slowly looked up from his plate of food and saw Miranda clutching her
stomach, “Oh! Baby Time! Uhm, Miranda, do you think maybe you should wait until you don’t have an
audience?” He gestured nervously at the wide eyed children staring at her.
“Waiting is not ... OW... an option, Jelly-Dean.” Miranda grimaced and doubled over with another
Forgetting his worry about the children, Dean was up and out of his chair an instant, running over to offer
what help he could, “Hang in there, Miranda. You’ve done this before, with twins even, so I know this is
going to be a piece of cake for you. It’s just one this time, so it should be easier.” He blinked and then asked
with sudden panic, “It is just one, right?”
Ash was panicking just like his father, but not hiding it as well, “MAMA! What’s wrong, Mama!?”
For her part, Ava stood back gave a confused blink, “Is the baby here yet? I want a baby sister, but I guess
a baby brother would be okay. Mama, why is everyone freaking out?”
They say that there learning moments all throughout life and it’s just a matter of recognizing them when
they appear. Of course, this particular educational moment was not one that most of the children witnessing
the birth could miss.
Oz stood there staring with his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide. Nearby, Hugh was reacting a little
louder as he panicked, “IS THIS WHERE BABIES COME FROM!?!?”
Catching her breath, Miranda gasped out, “Almost there.” Breathing in and out to try and keep herself calm,
she felt the baby’s movement and imminent arrival, “Here we go!” The twirl was upon her whether she was
ready or not.
Dean’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he stared at his newest child. After the twins, he didn’t think
anything could be truly surprising about becoming a parent again. After all, he’d been through this once
before with twins. He knew he’d love the new baby just as much as the first two, but this should be
He was wrong.
“The.. The.. the baby.. the baby is…”
“Beautiful!” Miranda held her newest daughter up with a triumphant smile, “She’s absolutely beautiful! Hi my
pretty little Sam.” Bringing the green little girl down into her arms, she gave a breathless laugh, “Oh look
Jelly-Dean, she’s got my reddilicious hair.”
“She’s.. she..” Dean finally choked out the word he’d been looking for, “Green!”
“She’s green.” Dean stated again as he gently took his new daughter in his arms. So far, the only words that
had come out of his mouth were related in some way to the word ‘green’.
Miranda grinned fondly, “You’re cute when you’re flusternated, Jelly-Dean.”
“Honey, you’ve told me plenty of stories about your grandpa and your father and your brother. Of course our
little Samtabulous would be green. I bet she looks just like her Uncle Derri-cow.”
Slowly, a lopsided little grin formed over Dean’s face as he held Sam. Very softly and reverently he stated
one last time, “Green.”
Jo looked around at the stunned expressions on all the other faces around her. With a shrug slid into a seat
and picked up her fork.
Moon was still trying to calm down, but she raised an eyebrow and gave the other girl a questioning look.
Jo paused in mid mouthful and looked back, “What? I’m still hungry.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
“Sure, laugh it up, Farny.” Dean grimaced as he took Sam into the nursery. Farnsworth had arrived shortly
after they’d called him with the news. He hadn’t stopped laughing since.
“But Dean, this is freaking hilarious. You sure you weren’t making sweet love to a telescope?” Farnsworth
grinned impishly as he waggled his eyebrows, “Maybe I can convince the guys that Miranda and I..”
Snorting, Dean said, “She’s going to look just like me. No one will believe you, green skin or no.” Laying Sam
down on the changing table, he looked up, “By the way, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Warn me about.. OH MY GOD.” Farnsworth flinched backwards and plugged his nose, “How can something
so small smell like THAT?!?”
Dean just chuckled as Sam gave a happy burble.
And this, dear readers, is where we end the first half of Chapter Four, Part Thirteen!
What did Moon mean by what she said about Star and Louise? Will Aeric consent to having Moon trained by
Harry? How did Ava know she was going to have a bad day? Will Mercedes ever stop being such a spoiled
brat? Will Star continue to be sarcastic towards George as he and Louise get closer? Will Dean ever get over
his newest daughter being green?
Will Zephyr stop picking up curse words from Star?
Yeah, probably not.
The other half of this update, which are both big enough to be updates all on their own, should be out this
coming weekend. At least that’s the plan. Until then, Happy Simming!