It might not be completely reliable, but it was better than doing nothing. Every morning without fail, Leo would wake up with his blood boiling and the only thing that could help soothe it was the cold shock of water. In a way it was a relief – he seemed to be turning into the opposite of his aunt, and that could only be a good thing.
“Leo? We’re leaving soon. Don’t you want to get changed?”
He looked around. It was a lovely day, and if he couldn’t run around like this as a child, then he’d never be able to.
“No, I’m good.”
“I’m glad you could make it – it was hard enough getting one kid out the door, let alone four.”
“They were actually telling me to hurry up – why do you think I’m wearing this? They wouldn’t let me get changed!” Lor laughed. Ok, so his offer to Leo hadn’t been entirely selfless.
“I know you and my husband don’t get along, but he wanted to come today. He wants to talk to you.”
Lor froze. To say that he and Clay had parted on bad terms would be an understatement. His self-esteem had been torn to shreds and his heart had been broken. Why should he even consider talking to him?
He looked over at the space ship, where their children were playing. That was why.
“Ok. I’ll talk to him.”
“Lor? What’s up?” Malik asked, splashing around in the water. His husband looked… resigned.
“I’ve got to talk to someone. Wish me luck?”
Mal wrinkled his nose in confusion. “Good luck?”
“Good luck, papa!”
Lor grinned and ruffled Al’s hair as he walked past. “Thanks.”
Malik watched Lor walk away, his heart plummeting as he saw the man he was approaching. Oh. So that was why he wanted luck.
They just sat there, staring at each other. Clay didn’t seem hostile, which was a start, but the silence was deafening.
“Look. You know I have issues with your kind. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t.”
That wasn’t exactly a promising opening line.
“The thing is, my wife and daughter don’t. Yaritza likes you. When she came back from your house, she had all these stories. I haven’t seen her so animated about something other than cartoons before.”
“We like her, too.”
“I’m glad. Look, all I want to know is that you won’t blame my children for any problems between us. I might not approve, but I want them to be happy.”
There it was. That glimpse of the man he had liked all those years ago.
Clay got up off the bench, relieved that it was done. He didn’t say goodbye, or turn back. He walked away, and Lor watched. Finally, it was over.
“Papa doesn’t like that man. Dad doesn’t either. He makes them angry.”
Leo raised an eyebrow. This was new. He could see a faint red glow start to surround her, and quickly grabbed her hand. “Ellie, why are you angry?”
“I don’t know. I just am.”
Well, at least he knew how to deal with that issue. “Come on, let’s go and blow up some space monsters.”
Was this what growing up meant? The red glow had faded, but he could still feel the anger pouring off her. He’d never felt that before.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. We can talk about something else if you’d like?”
The concern in her voice brought Altair out of the haze that he had found himself in. She’d been asking so many questions about what it was like to live with aliens, and why he’d been born a sim instead. It was just curiosity, but he hated having to lie to her.
“Come on. Lets play – I promise I won’t ask anymore. You can be the captain this time?”
He smiled at her. It wasn’t a full smile, but it was enough.
“Hey, you two! Got any room on that ship for us?”
“Mal? Are you ok?”
“You don’t sound fine.”
Malik knew he was being silly, but seeing Lor walk over from a conversation with that man and actually smile… He knew that Lor only had eyes for him, but that pang of uncertainty was enough to make him jealous. Lor had smiled after talking to his first crush.
“Mal, look at me.” Lor reached out and gently cupped his face with his hand. “Do you want to know what we talked about?”
He didn’t, but he also really did. Lor must have seen that in his eyes, because he carried on.
“We were talking about the children. He didn’t want Yaritza to be treated differently just because we don’t like each other. I’m smiling because he’s not going to turn her against us.”
Malik melted into the embrace. How could he have thought any different?
Lyra giggled as she watched her parents. They were so happy, they were practically glowing. Green, as a matter of fact.
“I want that one day!”
Lyndsay Miles, a.k.a. living grandma, smiled down at the young girl next to her. “I’m sure you’ll get it. A pretty girl like you will have people falling over themselves.”
“Leo says that too, but he says they’ll be running away because of my table manners” she said without a hint of shame, causing her grandma to choke on her mouthful of water.
“Well, that’s what siblings are for.”
“Ciara’s going to have her baby soon. I’ve filled out all the paperwork, so the child is going to live with me.”
“That’s great news, mum!”
“Thank you. I’m just worried that I’m too old for this. If I… if something happens, will you two look after them?”
Malik nodded, his throat suddenly feeling tight at the thought of losing his mother. He’d only recently got her back.
“I’ll check with Lor, but I’m sure he’ll agree.”
“Love you too, mum.”
“Lor… there’s something I need to ask you.”
It was so hard getting all four of them to play at once! Still, totally worth it.