Author’s note: This chapter has quite a bit of time skipping so if there’s anything that you feel needs better explained just ask me and I’ll do my best in my replies ❤
“DAD IS HOMMMMME!”
I glanced up from my desk at Arty’s shrill voice. An excited grin filled my face as I tossed my school stuff aside and began racing down the stairs. Reeny, Arty, and I were practically clogging up the entrance hall when Dad carried his new wife into the house.
“Kids!” he laughed, setting Ms. Suzanne down. Reeny and Arty drowned him in hugs and I sidled up after to give him a punch in the arm since eleven was far too old to be hugged by your father like that.
“Suzanne, it’s so good to officially welcome you into our family home,” Reeny said, giving Ms. Suzanne a hug.
“Oh, Suzanne, I’m so excited you guys are back!” Arty said with a beam. “How was the honeymoon? Did you get pictures of that whale you saw?”
“Hey,” I grunted.
Dad tousled my hair. “Nice welcome home speech, kiddo. Come on kids, let us in. We’ll tell you all about the trip. Hey Chance!”
Grandpa came in, all smiles. “Welcome home–both of you!” He gave them each a big hug.
It had been two weeks since Dad married Suzanne, the woman that had been mentioned those years ago when I found out about my ability. She worked with Dad and we had met her once at a company picnic though I certainly didn’t remember that. At the Christmas party–the one after I found out about my ability–Dad and Suzanne had kissed under some mistletoe and that was that. A year and a half of dating later and they got married. I was an usher, and Reeny and Arty were bridesmaids. They both really liked Suzanne a lot. She was all right. I guess.
“–and Apollo, this is for you.” She pulled a box out of her suitcase and offered it to me.
I scowled and opened it up, realizing the girls had gotten gifts too. Reeny had gotten a shirt (super boring) and Arty got a super hard puzzle (weirdo!). They got me a remote control pirate ship that would shoot little paper pellets; there was a little paper instructing me how to make them myself.
“Cool!” I shrieked.
“We’ll have to go back there sometime as a family,” Dad said.
“You bet we will,” I laughed. I had been super jealous when I found out they were going to Barnacle Bay for a honeymoon, especially since Dad hated being outside. When I mentioned that shortly after they left Reeny rolled her eyes and said there wouldn’t be much outside time for the newlyweds anyway. When I asked why, Piotr told me that it was something I’d have to ask my dad.
Piotr had stayed with us for those two weeks. It had taken some time but he eventually become a pretty important member of the family. Slowly getting to know all of us. Okay, so I was the first one he won over cause I dunno, brotherly bond or something like that; it was sweet to have a brother. Then he got into Artemis’s good graces. Arty had told me at one point it had been hard for her to understand having another sibling out there, that our dad had had another kid–she had been anxious that he’d come in and try to mess everything up. She did accept him after a coupla more visits though. Finally Reeny seemed okay with him. Her opinion about him always seemed to swing around. Sometimes she thought he was cool, other times he was a jerk. I think a big part of her problem was the fact she remembered dad the most and it was hard for her to grasp the fact he had had a love life before her other father. She had grown up thinking Goose had been our dad’s first love, first everything–and then found out it was a big nope. And Piotr was the evidence. But, of course, Reeny did allow him into her life. Most the time.
He was still almost always in clothes better suited for a boardroom meeting (get it?) and really stiff and wasn’t one for much hugging. But he was my brother. I taught him how to bowl and he taught me how to properly put on a tie which I pretended to agree was a good thing to know (they made clip ons for a reason, duh). Still, I was really glad I had him and when Dad told us Piotr’d be staying with us for those two weeks I was so stoked.
Piotr had come into the main room but didn’t really join in much of the chattering. He especially was usually quiet around Dad. I guess he didn’t know how to treat the widower of the father he never knew. Course, none of us knew how to treat his mother. We met her once about a year ago. Grandpa really wanted to meet her. We all met up for lunch and Ms. Rutkowski seemed pretty edgy the whole time. Though she remained in touch with us, and had sent someone to help with Dad and Suzanne’s wedding as well as getting them a big discount at some wedding place for dresses. Piotr had supervised the assistant since he was high up in his mother’s wedding planner business which seemed kinda weird to me.
“Piotr, we got you something too,” Suzanne said and offered a small box to him.
Piotr blushed very slightly. “Thank you, Mrs. Singer, I really appreciate that.”
Dad had taken his old name on marrying Suzanne. So they were both Singers now. They told us kids we could stay as Danevbies if we wanted which we all did. Course, Reeny wouldn’t have changed her name. But Arty and I preferred keeping it too. I had been Apollo Danevbie for ten years and my daddies were Zaid and Noah Danevbie so it just seemed to make sense to keep Danevbie. I guess if I had anymore half-siblings they’d be Singers though. Oh. Hmm. More half-siblings. I wondered if they planned on having kids or not… Suzanne said she liked kids (she usually said this as she tousled my hair, ugh!) so they probably were.
If they do I wouldn’t be the baby any more! I swallowed hard at that horrible thought. No! I liked being the youngest. I had cousins who were younger than me but in this family I was the baby, the one everyone pampered and lavished love on and gave treats to and–
“You’re not having a baby are you?!” I blurted out.
Everyone stared at me in absolute horror except for Arty who began snickering. “Apollo!” Reeny hissed, hurrying over to give the back of my head a smack. “Apologize!”
I rubbed the spot with a heavy scowl. “I–didn’t–I didn’t mean to say that…” But the looks they gave me made it clear nobody believed me. Oh Watcher!!!! She was gonna have a baby, and it had already started.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” Suzanne said but she sounded as embarrassed as she looked. Dad stood up, clearing his throat. Before he spoke Suzanne said, “It’s all right, dear. Really it is. He said he didn’t mean to ask.”
Dad made a ‘mm’ sound and sat back down, giving me quite the glare. After another minute while Suzanne and Reeny tried smoothing down the awkwardness, I ran from the room. I went outside into the hot sunshine, feeling like a national idiot. A baby! How could I have asked her that? Why did I? I should have known better but nope, it just came tumbling out of my mouth. Unless…
Maybe it was a vision! Not a proper vision, but maybe my ability to see the future had changed. Maybe now I’d randomly be saying things that were truth. That’d be… bad. Worse than randomly falling asleep and shouting horrible things (which the first time Suzanne experienced that, she seemed pretty shaken up. Also she screamed when she saw my solid eyes. She apologized for that but still). I’d have to really keep my mouth shut if I was gonna be doing that.
A month passed and I kept my eyes and ears open for a pregnancy. I knew about pregnancy and having babies. Dad had been very open with me whenever I asked. Some of it I didn’t completely understand or even believe but I got the gist of it. So I’d constantly check Suzanne’s stomach to see if it got any bigger. In the month it didn’t and another month and still no change.
Eirene headed back to college only this year she transferred out of the nearby college and into Bridgeport University. She had originally gone in for something sensible like accounting or something since she liked numbers but then decided to go for what she really wanted and was now going for a degree in mechanics. When she had announced it, she and Arty got into a fight since Arty thought it wasn’t feminine enough. Reeny pretty much exploded at her and said ‘I’m more feminine than masculine so this job is feminine!’ and proceeded to wear her prom dress while fixing her motorcycle which ruined it (well, in Arty’s opinion).
Almost every weekend her FriendFace status included Piotr which Arty and I felt supremely jealous over. The two would post pictures of them doing things like being at the top of the highest building in Bridgeport, going to movies, going to other things. One picture had Piotr in a simple button-up top and khakis. Never had he looked so casual! Seemed a constant sister was doing him good. My sister’s clothing choices seemed to get wilder and wilder. Also, no hats. Something she had to wear around her previous college but in Bridgeport she said nobody gave her ears much notice. Guess her clothes and hair distracted them enough.
Without Reeny around (she had been visiting here every weekend at her previous college) it meant Arty and I grew closer. It was sometimes hard for us to find something to do together since in my opinion fresh air was best and to her fresh air was the devil itself. So we spent a lot of out time playing games inside and sometimes going out to other buildings. We began bowling a couple times a month with Uncle Max, Uncle Royce, and their kids. My not-really-cousins. I got along well enough with Zaid (named after my dad) and kinda Paris. But Anni was more of an Arty-type girl with clothes and stuff, and Clifford–well, Clifford was just weird.
When we weren’t doing all this, Arty would go out with her friends or clothes shopping. Part of her unsure-ness of Reeny’s life choices had to do with what she felt she should be like. Arty liked tidiness and insideness and frilly things. Why get your hands dirty? Why cover yourself in grease and exhaust fumes when you could wear pretty outfits and makeup? Course she did come to a realization Reeny could do both, but it was still a bit of an annoyance that Reeny was ‘hiding’ in dirty overalls and smelled of gasoline instead of perfume half the time. Maybe that’s why Arty tried to make up for everything by pining after expensive clothes and wearing buttloads of smelly perfume.
“Whew what happen, you dump the whole bottle over you?” I’d asked, making a big show of pinching my nose.
Arty would glare and stomp off, her nose in the air. She’d go right to Suzanne who would pamper her in a girly way. The two of them got along like bees and honey. After the first week or so of strangeness, Arty started gluing herself to our stepmom. Now finally Arty had someone in the house who could help her with clothes and makeup instead of having to call one of our aunts.
November came, then December. No babies, no baby bumps. I guess Suzanne wasn’t pregnant after all and I wouldn’t have to worry about not being the youngest. I just hoped it’d stay that way.
Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way. A whole year and a half went by as we learned to be a family. Then, shortly before my thirteenth birthday, Dad and Suzanne announced they’d be having a baby. Eirene had just graduated college and returned to Storybrook County to open up her own garage. Artemis was fifteen and just as irritating as ever, especially with getting after me to keep my room clean and sometimes coming in to clean it herself. Grandpa still lived with us (thankfully! I had been worried he’d move out with Suzanne here), and I still had visions a couple times a week. Horrible, awful, sickening visions that would send me to the shower to have cold or warm water pour over me as I tried not to cry. Sometimes I did still cry, remembering the corpses and murders and violence I just saw. Feeling my skin blistering from the heat, or shivering from the freezing cold. Emotionally exhausted from the hundreds of people crying and dying like a never ending movie of pain.
“Wish I could help you,” Arty said one night when I went to her room after a particularly nasty vision. She moved over so I could lay down next to her and trailed her fingers up and down my back. “I’m sorry, Jamie.”
I buried myself next to her and let a few tears squeeze out onto her pillow. I hated going to someone else but sometimes the visions were just too much. I needed to stop though–I’d be thirteen soon and soon a man. I couldn’t run off to someone else crying. But… the comfort of being by someone, of them reassuring me that everything was okay… it helped, it did. So back to Arty I’d go the next time I needed that. I didn’t go to Dad because of Suzanne, and a couple times went down to Grandpa. He’d hold me close and tell me stories about my dad as a kid (Zaid-dad, of course) until I fell back asleep.
In any case, about two weeks before I turned thirteen Dad and Suzanne called us all in for a big family meeting including Eirene. Dad grinned, wrapping an arm around Suzanne’s waist as he told us the news. “In about seven months you’ll have a baby brother or sister!”
Reeny and Arty both squealed, clapping happily before rushing to Suzanne to hug her. Grandpa clapped as well, obviously excited to have another baby around. I just sat there feeling kinda dull and blech. A baby? I still didn’t want one in the house. Supplanting me.
You know better than that, I tried to tell myself as everyone else rejoiced. But it just didn’t seem fair. The baby of the family should remain the baby of the family (though if that were the case everyone would just have one pregnancy). “Congrats,” I managed to say, putting a fake grin on my face. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I’d like having a little sibling. I’d be able to boss them around one day–except I’d be an adult and on my own by the time they were old enough to boss around like that.
That night Dad came to my room. “You okay?”
“Mhm,” I lied, not looking up from the book I read.
He sighed. “You’re unhappy about the baby? It wasn’t–it’s not… Suzanne really wanted a baby. So did I. I miss when you kids were little.” He came over and leaned against my desk, trying to giving me a happy look. “It’ll be fun.”
“I’m not gonna babysit,” I muttered a bit darkly.
“Not really expecting you to, but I do hope you’ll help out now and again. Take them to park or something in a few years.”
Okay, now I smiled. “What, and expose the precious cargo to the evilness of sunshine and grass?” I teased and Dad laughed. “Well, no one else around here will so I guess it’ll have to be me.”
My thirteenth birthday was pretty lavish and I got tons of gifts. Maybe Dad’s way of proving to me he still adored me despite the future baby. I blew out the candles and the sparkles came to help me pass into manhood. Well. Teenhood.
Among my gifts was a new bicycle from Piotr. “Holy cow, thanks!” I shrieked, running over to look it over.
“When I turned thirteen, my mother gave me one and it was my favorite gift,” he explained a bit awkwardly. “I hoped you’d like it…”
“I love it,” I promised and rode it everywhere that summer, all over Storybrook County. It gave me freedom. No relying on people to take me anywhere, especially to places Arty didn’t want to go like the beach or the park.
Ah. The beach! Sand, surf, and girls. Girls had begun to fascinate me in a way in the past year or so that they hadn’t before. In bikinis. Oh yeah, the beach was nice. The jiggly bits were pretty nice but I definitely didn’t want to overlook legs or bums. Walking, running, jumping, tanning. Er. Well. I tried not to look too much but jeez.
I didn’t really ask my dad much about it. I wished I had a friend I could talk to about it… the only ones close to me, really, were my cousins. Carlos was a bit too old and Zaid and Clifford were only twelve and I wasn’t sure how they felt. I knew about sex. Dad had told me some and Grandpa told me some and then in one of my more recent visions I had seen people actually doing it (man and woman er, having fun–then the woman’s husband came home and ended up stabbing both the wife and other man). But, really, I just wasn’t sure who to talk to about these things or what even to say. So I just ogled and tried to deal with my changes on their own.
In January came my new baby sister (another girl in the family Watcher). Dad and Suzanne were over the moon in love with each other and with her. They named her Angel. Hoo boy. Artemis, Apollo, Angel–did my dad have a thing for ‘a’ names? She was pretty cute though in a wrinkly, crying sort of way.
For the time being she’d sleep in Dad and Suzanne’s room and once Angel started sleeping through the night she’d move into Arty’s room, with Arty’s permission. Arty certainly gave her permission as she was as much in love with her baby sister as our parents were. Grandpa too. Even though he wasn’t a blood grandpa they called him grandpa and he cuddled, cooed over, and played with Angel. Even Piotr really liked her. Ever since Reeny had moved back, Piotr began visiting multiple times a month since they had become such good friends. He mostly visited Reeny but of course came to see his other two half-siblings. I wondered sometimes asking him questions about relationships and girls but never did.
I spent more and more time outside that spring. Zipping around town on my bike. Often I’d watch other people my own age. Laughing, joking, having fun. Once I tried joining them but when they asked about who I was and why I didn’t go to public school I kinda slunk away, not wanting to talk about it. I began to feel very lonely. Reeny spent all her time in the garage or going out. Arty spent all her time doing school stuff or going out. Dad and Suzanne and Grandpa were all very preoccupied with Angel…
“Not fucking fair,” I cursed to myself one day a month after my fourteenth birthday. It felt like nobody cared about me anymore. Just like I suspected it would. Angel this, Angel that. Reeny’s latest job, Arty’s newest boyfriend. I probably could have forced myself more into the conversation but that seemed kinda rude to me. So I’d sit in silence feeling crappy. I didn’t get to do the social things. I couldn’t make friends. They’d want to know about me and I didn’t like talking about my visions with people. Not even my family anymore. If I tried to, they’d pretend to listen then hurry off somewhere. Just the previous night I went into Arty’s room after seeing about six people die in a horrible wreck on a highway and she told me she really needed her sleep and besides we’d probably wake Angel if we talked, since Angel’s crib had been put in there.
I had really begun to hate my visions lately. They were why I was a freak. I couldn’t even go and do normal things because what if I fell asleep? One time I had fallen asleep in a movie theater and Arty and I were kicked out since I began screaming about a fire. Ever since then I didn’t go to the movies at all. I worried about doing other things–would I fall asleep waiting for my turn in the bowling ally? Laying in the sun watching girls? The only things I could do without fear were active things. So I biked, swam, and ran. My fourteenth summer found me growing more muscles and more lonely. I wanted friends. I was tired of being homeschooled. I was tired of being an absolute freak who couldn’t do anything on the off chance I fell asleep and screamed bloody murder–literally.
And then my salvation came in the form of four letters to my cousins Clifford, Anni, Paris, and Zaid Fluff inviting them to a school for supernaturals.