Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chapter 34: Echoes of Another Time

"It's ridiculously unfair," Cassidy complains, "My sister gets pregnant, so now I'm not allowed to leave the house."

"Well, at least he's letting me come over to visit you," Jesse says, trying to cheer her up.

"Actually, you're here because he wants to have a talk with you."

"Oh, geat," Jesse says, "How mad is he?"

"Don't worry," Cassidy laughs, "He won't hurt you."

Just as Cassidy is being kept under guard now because of Delaney's actions, Jesse is facing the scrutiny from her father that Jack never had to deal with. Luckily for Jesse, he has a spotless record, good grades and a promising future to present as proof of his worthiness.

Elliot is satisfied he's done his due diligence as a father by vetting Cassidy's boyfriend, and feels better about getting to know the boy. That doesn't mean he's ready to let her out on unsupervised dates again, however, and he joins the young couple in the rec room for a game of foosball.

Aurora knows Ariel Hawksquill primarily as a close friend of her parents, and as Shadow's future father-in-law, but he also runs the local hospital, which means he holds the keys to the future she's chosen for herself. 

"I'll be graduating soon," she says, "And I've decided to pursue a career in medicine."

"Your father has told me how you excel in the sciences. You'll be a welcome addition to my staff, Aurora. I know you'll go far."

"Farrell, I found this old bottle of nectar in an old trunk," Aouregan says, placing the bottle on the counter for him to look at, "The label is addressed to a ''Beloved Farrell', and it appears to me written in my hand."

"You don't recognize it?" Farrell asks. He'd wrapped the bottle carefully after he'd retrieved it from that tomb in France. It had been a mystery then, one that lead him to find her in the past. But he hadn't thought about it in years.

"Recognize it?" she asks, bewildered, "Why would I recognize it?"

"When I first met Moth, here, in my time, he told me you had left something in the tomb for me, protected by magic. I found this bottle there, with my name on it. I didn't know it then, but it had to have come from you..."

"But I've never seen it before," Aouregan says.

They bring the bottle to Ariel and Noelle, hoping their friend can help solve the mystery.

"It's definitely my handwriting," Aouregan explains, "But I know I never wrote that note."

"I found it in a tomb in France," Farrell says, "The bottle is certainly old enough to have come from Aouregan's time."

Ariel reaches across the table to touch the bottle, to see if his ability to read the history of people, places and some objects might shed some light on the mystery.

"Well, that was...interesting," he muses as he sits back against the couch again.

"What did you see?" Farrell asks.

"What Noelle or my daughter, or you, Aouregan, describe as 'possible' futures, some of which come to pass and other which do not...I believe these visions aren't simply possibilities, but actual futures. Those that don't happen here do happen elsewhere, in alternate universes. I know you're more well versed in quantum physics than I am, Farrell, you must be familiar with the concept."

"Yes," Farrell agrees, "Multiple parallel universes, each a different version of the same reality, in which  different choices are made or events happen differently. But we're not considering the future of this bottle of nectar, we're looking for it's history."

"My gift is not so different from clairvoyance," Ariel explains, "I see the history of people, places or things mostly within our own time line. But sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, I see echoes of the history of other time lines as well. They are usually weaker, so subtle and vague that I can barely see them at all, and they are always overshadowed by the very distinct and clear history of this time line. But this bottle...for the first time ever in my experience, or in the experience of my ancestors, I've encountered an object with no history in this time at all. All I'm getting are echoes of another time line."

"You're saying the bottle doesn't exist?" Farrell asks.

"Well, it obviously exists now," Ariel laughs, "But it has no history except for the echoes. I can see, vaguely, Aouregan writing the label. And I see her holding it as she lies down on some kind of altar. There's a blue fairy, she puts a spell on her. And Aouregan falls into an enchanted sleep, holding the bottle. After that, nothing."

"But that's not how it happened," Aouregan says, "I went with my brother to the Landgraab castle, and they imprisoned me. Evenfall, the blue fairy you most likely saw, did put me under an enchanted sleep, but I was not with her at that time; she performed the spell at a distance. And I most certainly didn't write the label on this bottle."

"Exactly," Ariel says, "The bottle never existed in this time line."

"Yet I managed to get hold of it in this time line," Farrell observes, "Unless, my own time travel changed the way the past would unfold. I created a new chain of events in which Aouregan would never leave this bottle for me."

"Wouldn't the bottle just cease to exist if that were true?" Noelle asks.

"Disappear in a puff of logic? No," Farrell laughs, "The bottle existed in my present before I traveled back in time, it wouldn't just disappear, would it?" he looks to Ariel for corroboration.

Ariel shrugs, "I'm a doctor, not a physicist. This is your field, my friend. If you can't figure it out, no one can."

Delaney wakes the next morning looking forward to big pancake breakfast. Her plans are changed when she goes into labor.

Elliot escorts his daughter to the hospital.

Cassidy texts Jesse, who texts his brother, and Jack rushes to the hospital to be with Delaney. He isn't allowed past reception, however, under Elliot's strict orders to keep the boy away from Delaney.

Delaney gives birth to a baby boy she names Jace. 

"Hey, Shadow," Delaney whispers over her shoulder as her cousin joins her in the nursery, once Kyle's bedroom, "Do you want to hold him? He's kind of sleepy."

"That's okay," Shadow says, "Let him sleep. I came to talk to you."

"By 'talk' you don't mean 'lecture', right?" Delaney says.

"Of course not, Laney," Shadow answers, "I just wanted to say, if you ever need anything, I'm always here to help."

"Aw, that's sweet, Shadow," Delaney says, hugging him gratefully. "There is actually one thing  you could do for me. I don't want to involve Cass, she's gotten in enough trouble due to me."

"How much trouble are we looking at?" Shadow asks warily.

"Oh, please, your parents let you get away with everything," Delaney rolls her eyes, "I just need someone to tell Jack to come by tomorrow night, late, after everyone is in bed. I'll let him in to see the baby. My Dad is being a real hard ass about that."

"Sure, Laney, I can do that," Shadow agrees.

"You've seen him? Tell me, what's he look like?" Jack asks.

"He's a baby?" Shadow answers with a vague shrug, "You can see him yourself tomorrow night. Delaney says to come late, and she'll let you in."

"Thanks, Shadow. I'm surprised anyone in your family would be cool with my sneaking in like that."

"I think you've gotten a raw deal, Jack,"Shadow says, "That's your baby, you have every right to see him."

"I've been thinking I should put off my wedding. Delaney needs me," Elliot tells his brother, "But I have no idea how I'm going to break it to Claire. She's been waiting for this for so long now."

"I know how hard it is, letting your kids go. Delaney's got some challenges ahead, but she needs to face them as an adult. She can't have her daddy watching over her every second."

"But what if she gets back together with that delinquent?" Eliot protests.

"You can't stop her," Farrell says, "And, honestly, you trying to stand in her way might just make her more determined. You and Claire have been looking forward to getting your own place. Don't give up on that."

Today was Jack's birthday, his eighteenth. Unlike other young men his age, he didn't celebrate his new status as a legal adult with a party, he just waited by himself until late into the night, to sneak into the Brannon house to finally see his son.

"He's beautiful, Laney," he whispers, holding the newborn gently, afraid he might break him.

"Listen, I've been getting some cash together. By the time you turn eighteen, I'll have a place for us. I'll be able to take care of you, I promise," Jack says, taking her in his arms.

Hearing noises in the nursery, Elliot comes in to investigate, and finds the one person he's forbidden to enter his house.

"You!" Elliot shouts, "I told you to stay away from my daughter!"

"I just wanted to see my son," Jack says, raising his arms defensively, "I'll go now, okay?"

"It's not okay! You have no business here!"

"You can't keep me away from her, or my son, forever, you know," Jack retorts.

Elliot growls as he lifts his fist, prepared to swing.

"Daddy, no! Don't hurt him!" Delaney shouts.

Elliot drops his arm, realizing that, as much as he wants to throw a good, hard punch into Jack's face, doing so would only make Delaney angry at him, and see Jack as the victim of his brutality. There has to be a better way to get this delinquent away from his daughter, and Elliot means to find it. "Go," he growls, "Go and don't come back."

"I can't believe you!" Delaney shouts as soon as Jack is gone, "Why are you doing this to me?"

"Delaney, I'm just trying to protect you," Elliot tries to explain.

"I don't need to be protected," she says, turning away and storming out of the nursery.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chapter 33: Dangerous and Wrong

"I love you, Claire. Will you marry me?"

Claire is thrilled to accept Elliot's proposal. "Kyle's birthday is coming up, and my girls will be right behind him. As soon as my kids are all settled, you and I can can get our own place," Elliot suggests, knowing that Claire will want her own life.

"That sounds perfect," Claire answers.

Later, Elliot shares the news of his engagement with Farrell. 

"She's so much better for you than Shelly ever was," Farrell says, "It will be weird living away from you, since we've been together forever, but I know you'll be happy with Claire."

"We're not leaving town or anything," Elliot laughs, and hugs his brother to hide his tears.

"What are you going to do about it?" Cassidy asks under her breath. Though the twins are the first into the dining room, the rest of the family will join them any second now, so Cassidy is careful not to say what she means directly.

"I'm going to tell Jack today," Delaney answers, and then they drop the conversation as the table fills up around them.

Delaney gets on the school bus with her siblings and cousins, but when it lets them off at school, she runs off in the other direction, to the warehouse where Jack has been holing up since he got expelled. He isn't there when she arrives, so she sits and waits.

"Hey, why aren't you at school?" Jack asks when he comes in to find her waiting for him.

"Jack...I'm pregnant," she says, getting it out there without a bunch of preamble. "I can't go to Dr. Hawksquill, he's a friend of the family. So I thought you could take me out of town, to the city, and we'd take care of it there, privately. So my Dad never has to know."

"If that's what you want, Laney," Jack says, "But-"


"I've been working for a guy in the city, getting some money together for us. I'll get us a place, and we could be a family."

He guides her up to the new mattresses he's bought, the start of the nest he's been working to build for her, and holds her while she cries in his arms.

"I want to be with you, Jack," she sobs, "But I'm scared."

"It's going to be okay, Laney. I can take care of us. All of us, you, me and the baby."

Her phone buzzes furiously in her pocket. "Are you going to get that?" Jack asks.

She shakes her head and nuzzles closer to him. "It's my Dad probably. It's Kyle's birthday today. They're expecting me home for cake."

"But I'm not going home," she finishes, her voice growing stronger in the confidence of her decision, "I'm staying here, with you. You're my family now."

"It will be so awesome, you and me and our baby. We're real adults, now, living on our own," she murmurs, kissing his neck, growing more enthusiastic with every word, "Oh, I love you, Jack."

"Where's Delaney?" Elliot asks, cornering Shadow and Aurora in the kitchen, "It's time for Kyle's cake."

"I haven't seen her since we got off the bus this morning," Aurora says, avoiding eye contact with her her uncle.

"Me either," Shadow agrees. They cover for each other, no matter what, so the twins keep quiet about Delaney skipping school that day, and what they know about where she went.

The family, minus Delaney, gather for Kyle's birthday.

Kyle becomes a young man.

A gifted athlete and a talented artist, charismatic and well-liked by everyone, Kyle had many options available for his future. "I've decided to take the Drakes' offer," he tells his father, "I'm joining the team. I'm going to be a professional athlete."

"That's wonderful," Elliot enthuses. He would have had the same reaction to any choice his son made, confident Kyle will succeed at whatever he does. Shelly would be pleased, if she knew, Elliot thinks with a wry smile, her son has turned out to be exactly the man she wanted him to be, all without her influence. 

"Don't be a stranger," Elliot continues, embracing his son tightly before letting him out into the world. "I'm sorry Delaney isn't here to say goodbye. I've tried calling, but she's not picking up."

"Yeah, Dad, about Delaney," Kyle says with a sigh. The pact they shared as teens to cover for each other suddenly seeming dangerous and wrong now that he has a more mature perspective, "She's in trouble...she's pregnant. I know she's with her boyfriend, but I don't know where she is. Cassidy will know though, or her boyfriend will."

"I worried about Laney," Cassidy whispers, "What if Jack gives her a hard time?'

"That's one thing you don't have to worry about," Jesse says, "He wants to marry her."

"Seriously?" Cassidy asks, "She's hardly mature enough-"

"Where's Delaney?" Elliot demands, interrupting their conversation.

"I haven't seen her-"

"Since you got off the bus this morning, I know," Elliot says, "You've all said that already. I know what's going on, Cass. She's in trouble and she's out with the boy who got her into that trouble. And you are going to tell where they are, right now."

"I don't know where they are, Dad," Cassidy says softly, glancing at Jesse.

"I do," Jesse admits, hating to betray his brother, but not as much as he hates to see Cassidy in trouble with her father, "The old abandoned warehouse, near the junkyard."

"Everything will be okay, Laney, as long as we're together."

As soon as he found out where she was, Elliot rushed out to get her. 

"Delaney! Up. Now," he growls, "We're going home."

Jack rises quickly, standing between Elliot and Delaney on the makeshift bed. "She is home," he says.

"You worthless little shit," Elliot snarls, backhanding the boy.

Even with his injury, Elliot still has his strength, and Jack is no match for him in a fight.

"Daddy, stop!" Delaney screams, jumping between them, "Don't hurt him!"

"Don't hurt him? After what he did to you---"

"Stop, Daddy. I''ll go with you. Just, leave Jack alone, okay?'

"You're coming with  me now," Elliot says to his daughter, "And you," he says, pointing at Jack, "You will never come near my daughter again, understand?"

"Laney?" Jack calls after her.

"I have to go with him, Jack," she says gently, barely glancing back at him, "I'm sorry."

"Not another word, Dlaney," Elliot growls, hurrying her out of the warehouse.

Delaney cries all the way home, all the way up to her bedroom, just repeating 'Daddy, I'm sorry," any time he tries to talk to her.

"It's all right, sweetheart," he says soothingly, holding her, "You'll always be my little girl. I'll always be here to protect you."

"Daddy, I love Jack. I want to be with him," Delaney protests.

"You think you're in love, but it's just a teenage crush. You'll get over him, you'll see."

"I won't!" she protests, but Elliot shushes her.

"You're not to see him or talk to him, you understand? I won';t see you throwing yourself away for a loser like him. Baby or no baby."

He takes her phone away before leaving her room, glancing back at her stuffed toys on the dresser, remembering his happy little girl and wondering how and when that all changed.

"I thought you were going to get rid of it," Cassidy says, sitting on the bed with her sister.

"Jack changed my mind. We're going to be a family. It' going to be awesome."

"Laney, having a baby isn't like playing dolls, and you and Jack won't be playing house. It's real life, and his life is going to be hard. I told you he'd end up a criminal, and that's exactly what's happening. Don't go down with him."

"He went down for me. He got expelled protecting me. I can't just dump him. And, anyway, I love him. I'm having his baby and we will be together. When I turn 18 Daddy can't stop me from going to him."

"I feel like this is my fault. I let them do what hey want...I should have been stricter."

"It's not your fault, Elliot. You're a great father," Claire assures him.

"If I'm a great father, why is my teenage daughter knocked up by a juvenile delinquent?" Elliot asks.

"You can't blame yourself for that," Claire insists, but Elliot is not ready to let go of the responsibility for his daughters' lives and decisions just yet.

"Laney," Jack whispers, careful not to wake her sleeping twin as he rouses her with a gentle shake.

"Jack," she murmurs, opening her eyes, "How did you get in here?"

"Too easily," he answers, "You don't even have a burglar alarm. You really should."

"Your father can't keep me away from you," he whispers as he pulls her into his arms, "Nothing can keep me away from you."


Poor Kyle's birthday got totally overshadowed by Delaney's events. I've randomized all his traits since birth so as not influence what he would become, whether he would live up to his mother's expectations or not. And he got generally good traits like Friendly, Artistic and Charismatic, and then Loves the Heat as a teen. So I thought he might go into a more artistic career as he grew up, or potentially politics with his charisma. But while playing catch with his dad one day, he rolled a LTW to reach the top of the sports career. And I just thought that was funny, that he would actually turn out just the way Shelly wanted, but she's not around to see it. So, he signed up for the school sports club in high school, and picked up the Athletic trait as his final trait, and is on his way.

Generation 2 has had a long run, but very soon, Generation 3 will be taking over.