"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.