Holding Pattern

There’s been no news since the last attack from our local terrorist. That’s all I can call her now, because that’s what she is. She’s made our quiet, small town in to a living hell by forcing those of us with abilities to hide, while the ones who don’t have them and are hostile towards us, get even louder about how much of a danger we are.

I’m missing part of my family, my life has been turned upside down and yet I’m the danger; according to them.

I’m not though. I’m the furthest thing from a danger right now. What I am is tired and scared and seriously pissed off.

There’s been more attacks on Otherkin in the last few days. I’m scared for the kids who have to go through the rocks through windows, cars set on fire, and watching their parents get beaten. All because they’re skin is purple, or they have tentacles or, like Ben, change once a month while being locked away.

Ben’s been busier than ever, treating those who can’t go to the hospital, like the Satyrs. Centaurs who are more horse than man have to go to him. I’ve braided the hair of more than one filly while her mother or father was getting stitched up.

It’s enough to make you scream.

Ben comes home every night exhausted and covered in what he couldn’t scrape off at work. I know this is wearing on him harder than myself because he dealt with the attacks after that September day nearly 14 years ago. He’s gotten quieter than usual around all of us, spending more time alone in the library, looking over the books he took out of the town’s stash.

He hardly eats. Sleeping is in bits and pieces. I’m worried.

I’ve already had to deal with people throwing things at me while I’m walking to my appointments or from store to store. I’m thankful that sometimes they’re metal things that I can catch before they hit me; but it’s horrifying. It hurts so much that people I once called friend are now my enemy, simply because there’s a terrorist that hates Otherkin out there and is using the whole city’s fears to keep all of us hostage.

I cry at night. Usually where the others can’t hear me, but the house hears me. It’s been trying it’s best to cheer me up; by putting in a slide for the kids so they don’t have to use the stairs, by giving me more space in my already enormous kitchen, and by bringing the cabinets and shelves down lower so I don’t have to use a stool to reach anything.

It’s been nice, but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that I cannot let my children go outside and play on nice days. We live on a dead-end street, but I’m still afraid that someone will come this way and do something to them. They do not deserve any of this.

No one does.

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Tarts and Lights

April moved in to May and I was attending my therapy sessions regularly. By regularly, I meant that I was regularly avoiding them until the last-minute, when Murphy and Jude would inevitably haul me to the car and drive me there themselves. They insisted that I’d been cleansed properly and that any left over depression I was having was because of something that I was not dealing with the right way.

They were right, of course. I wasn’t dealing with anything. I just didn’t want to. Dealing with it meant that I had to drag up unpleasant memories and left over feelings of hurt and betrayal.

I don’t know about you, but crying in the middle of my therapists office while shouting that I wasn’t a bad person, was not something that I looked forward too on a weekly basis. I felt wrung out at the end of it all. At least Murphy and Jude left me alone to sleep it off after we got home.

As much as I hated their actions, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hate them. They wanted what was best for me and were trying their hardest to do it while I kicked and fought back. They’re my Moms in every sense of the word. Jude especially. She’s happier than ever helping to take care of her grandsons while her daughter fights her inner demons. Though I get the feeling that she’d rather be back on the dig site sometimes.

I guess that’s what she’s used to after being shoved out of Ben’s life for so long. People tend to get used to the way things are done, so that when change comes along, they fight like hell to stay where they’re at or move on. I’m still stuck at the crossroads, deciding if I want to trust my therapist or not.

Yes, I talk to her. Yes, I tell her things. Do I trust her? All signs point to eventually.

So when I found myself eating ice cream while walking downtown with her, I started to warm up to the idea that trusting her wasn’t so bad. She didn’t bother to get me to talk until we got back to her office and I’d finished my ice cream.

“So when do you want to talk about the abuse?” she asked at the end of our session.

“Next to never.”

She laughed. “That’s a pretty long time. Are you sure?”

“No. I’ll let you know next week,” I said as I was putting on my jacket. May was still a bit chilly.

“All right, then. Next week.”

I paused with my hand on the door. “You’re not bad, for a shrink.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad, either. Bit stubborn, though.”

I smiled. “You should have heard my grandmother when she was upset with me. Stubborn was the most positive thing that would come out of her mouth.”

“You’ll have to tell me next week, then.”

I nodded and stepped out of her office. Waving at her secretary, I let myself out on to the street to meet Ben. A rumble of thunder had me looking up at the sky and mentally cursing at myself for not remembering an umbrella.

I made my way to Indulgence Bakery. Waddling was as fast as I went these days, so Miss Maggie met me at the door and rushed me in just before the rain started. Maisy led me to an open table and ignored my protest as she pushed me down onto a chair.

“Hush now and sit. It was a smart thing, you coming here to wait this time,” Maisy said as she handed me a cup of tea. The smell of chamomile drifted up and had me sighing. She nodded when she was sure I wasn’t getting up and went back to helping customers.

“You holler if you see Ben’s car, yeah? My cell phone is about dead,” I said as I eyed the tart that Miss Maggie was dishing up for me.

“Will do, hon. Unless you want me to call his office and leave a message,” she said as she came over with the tart and pulled up a chair.

“No point,” I replied as I forked up a piece of cheese tart. The flaky crust melted in my mouth and I let out a sigh. “He’s out in the field today. Something about missing cows and burn marks.”

Maggie watched me like a hawk as I polished off the tart and then cleared away the plate for me.

“All right then. So how was your session?” She asked.

I looked up at her, a little annoyed. She put her hands on her hips and gave me a stern look. I kept my expression the same.

“Don’t you give me that, young lady. You’re every bit as precious to this town as Ben is. Of course we all know what’s going on and we all want to make sure that you’re doing better, not worse.”

“Then you know it’s intensely private and all I’m going to ever say is that it was good. Exhausting, but good.”

She waited for a minute, then when she realized I was serious about not giving up anymore information, she nodded.

“That’ll do, then.”

I watched for Ben out the front windows as I sipped my tea and rubbed circles on my belly. I was getting restless when Ben finally pulled up out front. Miss Maggie saw me motion out the window and hurried to step out and call to him before he went to my therapists office. He jogged over and managed to get in to the store without getting too soaked. The storm didn’t look to be letting up just yet.

“Hey, Salt-of-the-Earth,” I said with a smile as he bent to kiss me.

“Hey back, Trouble,” he replied as he sat next to me. Miss Maggie dropped off a cup of coffee, doctored just the way he liked it, and another tart for me.

I smiled up at her and turned back to Ben.

“Things go okay?” I asked as I took a bite of the tart.

“For the most part. There’s about a dozen missing cows, scorch marks that are bigger than George’s, and a broken fence. The new Sheriff is worried.”

News of there being a new Sheriff didn’t surprise me. We’d all voted in the interim election held last week. Jon Jones had won by a landslide because Captain Miller wanted no part of the office on account of his last name and the fact that he’s pushing sixty. I yawned a little and started rubbing my belly in circles again as I thought about what Ben said.

“He kicking?” Ben asked when he noticed what I was doing.

“SHE is playing soccer today,” I replied.

Ben laughed. “You know, we could always stop this and find out.”

“Then we’d have to find something else to argue about,” I pointed out.

“Good point. I like arguing with you,” Ben said as he picked up my hand and kissed my palm.

I smiled and was about to say something when the street lamps in front of the shop exploded. I curled in around my stomach and hid my face in case the window went next. Ben was already pulling me to my feet and pushing me towards the back of the store as more lights started to explode inside the store. I hustled as fast as I could towards the backdoor when Ben pulled me off to the side and pushed me into the storage room. There wasn’t a working light, it had already exploded.

“What the fuck was that?” I shouted.

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet its our friendly neighborhood terrorist,” Ben replied as he hustled more people in to the room.

“I am so sick of this bitch and her stupid ass fear mongering!” I shouted at his back as he went out to investigate. Miss Maggie rubbed my back and shoulders as I calmed down. As I waited for news that we could come out, Maggie and Maisy tried to get me to sit down, but I wasn’t having any part of what they wanted. If I was going to be attacked, I wanted to be on my feet.

Ben finally came back, telling us that it was clear. I stormed out of the storage room and headed for the car. I had no interest in staying any longer. Ben settled up with Maggie and met me at the car. He didn’t say much as he helped me inside and then went around to get behind the wheel.

“I’m sick of her too, ‘Lowe.” he finally said after starting the car and getting us pointed in the direction of home.

“Something must be done,” I said firmly.

“Something is being done. We have Alvin here, he’ll figure out what’s wrong.”

“He’s been here for more than a month. Doesn’t he have any clue what’s going on?”

Ben shook his head. “He says that she’s covering her tracks really well.”

“Everyone has a weakness, Ben. They have to find hers.”

“They will, Marlowe. In the meantime, just worry about the baby and getting better.”

“There may come a time when I’m not pregnant and I have the chance to end it,” I said. “When that time comes, I will end it.”

Ben didn’t bother to reply. He knew I would do as I said. I’d feel guilty as hell for taking another life; but if I had the chance to end it, I would.

Small victories

My anger collapsed in on itself around day four after they managed to clear the spell that I was under. The dregs that were left dragged my mood down and beat it with a stick until it was twitching. I tried to keep up with the kids, Jude, and Murphy; but I got tired easily in the days that followed the collapse. Ben has been supportive to the point where I get frustrated with him.

I am not an invalid, though I feel that way when people keep doing things for me that I would normally do myself. I try to explain to them that I need to do these things to feel better, but they’re determined to do it for me. It makes me frustrated to the point of tears most days. I am not the person that I was before the spell took hold of my body and mind.

So when Murphy showed up at my bedroom door on the second Saturday in April, I was thrilled to get out of the house with her.

“Get up. Get dressed. We’re going out,” she said as she flipped the curtains open.

I hissed at her and flicked a hand, drawing them back over the windows by their metal hangers. She put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

“You’re not going to get better if you don’t get out of this house, child.”

I pulled the pillow off my head and glared at her.

“Says the woman who won’t let me do things for myself. What’s your deal? First it’s ‘Marlowe don’t do that, I’ll get it for you,’ Now it’s ‘get your arse out of bed.’ Will you make up your mind?” I ranted.

Murphy smiled at me, but there was something about the way her lips twisted that made me shove my head back under the pillow.

“Girl you were trying to climb a ladder to get something off a top shelf. I stopped you because it’s heights and you’re not dealing with them well right now.”

“Semantics,” I shouted from under the pillow. A cold draft let me know she had pulled the covers off me. As I searched for them with one hand, Murphy lifted the pillow off my head.

“It’s not and you know it,” she said softly. “Come on, Marlowe. We’re all worried about you right now and a fresh air would do you some good.”

I laid there for a few minutes while considering my options. It was a pretty nice day outside and I had been stuck inside for weeks. It would be good to get out of the house for a little while. I looked up at Murphy and sighed.

“Fine. I’m getting up, but I need to shower and dress.”

“Take your time. I’ll be downstairs,” she said as she walked to the door. “I love you, Marlowe. I hope you know that.”

She slipped out before I could answer. I sat on the bed, staring out the window. The tears started before I could stop them. I was so frustrated with being depressed. I knew it wasn’t my fault, it was the spell, but there was still some anger left in me over what happened. It depressed me further, to the point where I just wanted to crawl back in to bed.

The baby chose that moment to kick and surprise me. I laid a hand on my belly, sitting there and feeling the life inside me move around. The tears that came while I was getting up to shower were good ones.

It takes me awhile to shower now, so I wasn’t surprised when a half an hour went by between getting in and coming back out so I could dress. Picking out clothing was harder than I imagined, the feelings of annoyance with jeans that were hard to button threatened to bring me to tears again. I pushed my feet into a pair of slides and made my way downstairs, smiling a little bit as I heard my boys and their shouts drift up from the Great Hall.

As I hit the bottom step, my reluctance to go any further in the house swamped me. I loved my children, but I did not want to deal with them at that moment. I made a move for my phone, hitting the speed dial for Ben. He picked up after the first ring.

“Baby? What is it? Is it the baby? Are you okay?”

I sniffled at his tone, he cared so much. “You’re right. I’ll see the therapist.”

I heard Ben sigh. “I’ll make the appointment for you. You’ll like her, ‘Lowe.”

“I’ll see her, Ben. Then make up my own mind.”

Ben let out a huff and a little chuckle. “You’re still you, even though you’re sad right now. I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll see you tonight. Text me with the appointment.”

“Will do. Be safe.”

I hung up the phone and sat in the chair outside the dungeon door. I was still there with the phone in my hand when Murphy came into the hall way.

“Good. You’re dressed. Now grab your damn coat and let’s go before you chicken out again.”

I smiled a little and Murphy patted my cheek.

“You’ll be all right dear.”

I nodded and put my coat on, before getting up to follow her out to the car. Maybe getting out of the house wouldn’t be so bad at all.

Or maybe it would.

It’s dangerous business, going out your door.

The Next Adventure of Shopping With Kids

There’s no cute introduction tonight, just frustration and an apology. I am so sorry that I sniffed and frowned at Moms with kids who cry in stores. I really am.

Without further ado,  here is my trip to get Logan clothing and shoes with Jude.

 

“Alphie get down from there!” I shouted as I held up Logan by his waist, trying to keep him from wiggling free and running after his older brother.

“Oh let him be, Red. It’s not like he’s going to get hurt. Besides, he’s having fun.”

I glanced sideways at Jude, who was enjoying this immensely. I handed her a wiggly Logan, upside down, and ran after Alphonse. Somewhere between his last visit to the shopping mall and this one, he’d decided that shopping was great fun and that he could get in to all kinds of mischief with his brother. As I neared the display that Alphonse had climbed, I looked up at him and grinned.

“Jump, honey!”

Alphonse decided this was a great game and immediately jumped in to my arms, laughing. I grinned at him and turned him upside down while carrying him over to where Jude was laughing while holding Logan.

“Oh shut up,” I said as I put Alphonse down and took his hand.

“I didn’t say a word.”

I grinned at her and we took off to check out with arms full of things for Logan. I had to juggle Alphonse’s hand while digging for my wallet and some how managed to pinch his fingers in the zippers. While he cried, Logan realized something was wrong and started crying too. I’d just about had it and was close to tears when the cashier handed me my card back and I signed the slip. Gathering up a sobbing Alphonse, then the bags of clothes, we made it out of the store.

“Okay Honey. I’m done laughing now. It’s time for a break. I say we go dump this stuff in the trunk and find some lunch.” Jude said as she took the bags from me and handed over Logan.

He was still in tears, clutching my neck tightly as I looked up at her. I nodded and cuddled both boys as best I could on our way back to the car. I handed over the keys and Jude stuffed everything in to the trunk, before handing them back to me and taking Alphonse in to her arms. Somewhere on the way back to the mall, they managed to clam down enough so that there were just quiet hiccups and soft sobs.

I was just about to suggest a kid-friendly restaurant when we passed by a wedding shop. I stopped dead and smiled over at Jude. She looked back at me, then at the wedding shop.

“Oh no. I’m not going in there with you.”

“My dress came in, I need to do the alterations. You need a dress for the wedding.” I said as I marched off toward the shop that I bought my dress from.

Alphonse realized where we were headed and started clapping and touching Jude’s face.

“What’s he doing, Red?”

“Saying you are pretty in his language.” I said over my shoulder.

“Aww, you little heart breaker.” Jude said and started tickling Alphonse.

I heard him giggle and Logan started to smile.

“We’re gonna go get Mommy her dress so you can see too. Can you behave for a little while longer?”

Logan nodded and I smiled down at him. I cuddled him close as we walked to the shop and swung in, laughing.

“Miss Oberly! I was so hoping you’d drop in to see us soon. Your dress just came in,” the clerk behind the counter said.

“I know. I got your email. Are you ready for me or do we need to wait?”

“If you wouldn’t mind waiting, we can get everything set up for you shortly.”

“Perfect. In the mean time, My future Mother-in-law needs a dress for the wedding. Can someone help us?”

The clerk beamed. “Absolutely.”

I turned and grinned at Jude. “Follow the clerk. I don’t have colors yet, so we’re going for cut.”

Jude sighed and handed over Alphonse and followed the clerk. The boys and I wandered the racks until we came up with dressed for Jude, which the clerks too back her. The boys and I were just settling in when Jude came out in the first dress, which was an emerald-green cocktail length a-line. It was sleeve-less with a beaded jacket. The boys clapped for her, but I shook my head.

“Not the right color. What about the blue one?”

“I don’t really like that one, but I do like that blue. I like this one and the peach.” Jude said.

“Let’s see the peach then.”

“All right, but I want to see you in that gown before we leave here today.”

I grinned. “You’ll see. I’m going to make your son cry when he sees me in that dress.”

“I have high hopes for this dress,” Jude said as she made her way back to the dressing room.

When Jude came back out in the peach dress, I knew that was her dress. It was a cocktail length dress with an a-line skirt that was tiered chiffon and a v-neck.

“That’s it. That’s your dress.” I said.

The boys started clapping and Jude smiled.

“Are you sure? The price tag.”

“Hang the price tag. I’m only getting married once and damn it, my mother-in-law is going to look just as hot.” I said.

Jude laughed. I grinned back at her.

“Go get dressed. They’re ready for me now.” I said.

Jude nodded and went to get dressed. As soon as she came out, I went in. It took a little while because they had to get measurements in a pair of heels for the dress and I didn’t have mine. As soon as they let me out of the dressing room, I made my way back to the front and showed Jude and both boys. I stepped out and heard more than one gasp. I looked up and found Murphy had joined us in the store.

“Found us again, eh grandmamma?” I said as I took a spin. “What do you think?”

“I saw Jude and came in. She told me what you’re doing. I’m almost tempted to have her go put that dress on so I can see the both of you.”

“Better yet,” I said and looked at the Clerk while pointing to Murphy. “Dress her. I’m going to need her there too.”

Murphy made all kinds of excuses as they took her back in to the dressing rooms. Jude came over to me and hugged me.

“You will make my boy cry, honey. I’m so proud.”

I laughed and hugged her back. “I love you son, of course I want to make him cry.”

Jude sniffled a bit and hugged her harder.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you found your dress.”

“Oh Jude, I didn’t know I was going shopping that day. In any case, you’re here now. Help me up on to the platform so they can hem me.”

Jude helped me up and while the seamstress was hemming my skirt, it took Murphy four dress changes before she found the right one. It was a mint green tea length chiffon dress with sleeves and a belted waist. I smiled down at her when she came up to me.

“Perfect,” I said and looked over at the cashier. “Add this one too. Don’t let her argue about paying for it.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” She said and hustled Murphy back to the room before she could protest.

I grinned down at Jude and stayed perfectly still while they finished the hem on my dress. Murphy was back then and Jude went and changed back in to the dress to show her while I changed out of my gown. As I was coming back out, I passed Jude and we hugged again.

“Enough crying, Mom. We need to get the boys lunch before they revolt.” I said.

Jude cried harder. “I’m so happy my boy found you. I get a daughter out of all of this and two great little boys.”

I started to cry and hugged her. “Go change. We’ll be outside waiting for you.”

I got a watery “okay” and Jude was off and changing in her dressing room. I paid for both dressed and made appointments for both women to come back and have any alterations done. Murphy was still there so I invited her to lunch with us. I’d filled her in on how we’d gotten the boys already, so she was asking about if they’d spoken yet.

“Not yet. I’m hopeful though. Ben says it usually takes a month or two.”

“How would he know?”

“He’s been in the archives for the last few days. He’s still recovering from the incident in the woods, so I’ve been making him go read up on what’s coming with the boys and next month with the satyrs.”

Murphy nodded. “Good sense, that. It’s going to be a mess for the next few months.”

I grinned. “That’s what Ben says.”

Jude came back then and we all trundled off to one of the nearest kid-friendly restaurants to have lunch. The boys managed to get most of the food in their mouths, which was hilarious to clean up when I found Alphonse had corn in his ear. Back at the car I shook my head.

“How does a kid get corn all the way up there?”

Jude laughed. “Get used to it. There’ll be more of that as they grow up.”

I grinned over at her. “I can’t wait. I love them so much.”

Jude hugged me and then went around to her side of the car and got in. Both boys were in the back, happily chattering away. I got in and we started our way home.

“I can’t wait to tease Ben about the dress.”

I laughed. “Alphie has been doing the same thing to Ben. Miles too. It’s been hilarious to watch. He’s so frustrated he’s already talking about dates for the wedding.”

“I know my boy. He’s going to try to sweet talk you in to an early wedding.”

“He can talk all he wants, I’m aiming for late April, early May.”

“Oh really now?”

“Yep. That’s when The Watch has the room that I want open. Plus, it’ll be kind of fitting. Getting married near or on the day we met.”

Jude patted my hand. “Great way to cap off your first year in Blueville.”

“I think so too.”

We spent the rest of the time home discussing what decorations to have and who to invite. As we pulled in to the driveway, the lights on the trees lit up and we were surrounded by Christmas.

It was good to be home.

-Marlowe

Full Moon Rising

So we’ve made it to the full moon in this house and honestly? We’re all really excited. Especially Logan. He can’t sit still. He keeps bouncing from one person to another, looking for a lap to sit on and someone to hold him until he find someone else interesting to switch to.

It was cute the first hour. Now it’s just annoying to have a fifty pound dragonet land on your back.

Alphonse is handling the situation well, he’s understandably nervous, because he keeps asking Ben if he’ll change back in to a human again. We’ve all tried to assure him that he will, but until he actually does, I’m not sure that he’s going to believe us.

With all the new child in the house business, we totally forgot about Jude coming home to visit. She timed it right though, arriving that evening after I’d put everyone in their cages for the change. I was running back up the stairs when I heard the bell ringing. Thinking it was the Sheriff with an update, I ran for the front door and flung it open.

“Oh, it’s you. Don’t you know family doesn’t have to knock?” I said.

Jude laughed. “Well that’s one hell of a welcome home.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I hugged her. “It’s the full moon. I’ve got everyone down stairs already.”

“Even Ben?”

“Yeah. He’s down with our boys.”

“Logan, Mark and Miles.”

“Alphonse too,” I said absently as I shut the door behind her after she came in.

“Who is Alphonse?”

“Ben and I are adopting Alphonse,” I said over my shoulder. “Are you coming to meet your grandson or not?”

I opened the door to the basement with one hand after gathering up my blankets and things. Looking back at her, I waited while she stared at me with her mouth agape. Then the laughter started. It was answered from below with a bellow that told me the change had already happened.

“Oh, I can’t wait to hear about how this happened,” Jude said as she followed me down to the basement.

“It’s a tale, all right.”

I stopped and opened up the cells for Mark and Miles. Miles leaped out of his and padded over to Jude. He started mouthing her hand, which made Jude laugh and scratch his ears.

“Don’t encourage him,” I said as I walked past them and opened the doors to the dragons.

I was greeted with tears and a little blonde boy running in to my arms. I handed Jude some of my things and wrapped Logan in a blanket before scooping him up and cuddling him close. I looked over at Jude, whose mouth was agape again. I smiled.

“Logan meet Grammy,” I said to him as he cried in to my shoulder.

Logan sniffed and peeked out from under my chin. Jude smiled and waved at him. That got her a watery smile before he started with the tears again. I started singing softly to him while making my way over to where Alphonse and Ben were curled up together in the nest. I smiled at Alphie when he nuzzled my leg. His deep purple scales made him look like he was black in color.

“Jude,” I called over to her. “this is Alphonse.”

“Oh he’s beautiful,” Jude said softly as she came over and scratched Alphonse’s chin when he let her.

Mark padded over to me and nuzzled Logan’s leg. Logan looked down and gasped, pulling his leg back.

“No Logan. That’s Mark.”

Logan looked down and Mark and smiled a little before looking back up at me.

“It’s okay,” I said to him and set him down with his blanket wrapped tightly around him.

Mark sat down and looked at Logan, waiting patiently. Logan reached a hand out of his blanket and touched Marks head gently. I held in a breath, but when Logan squealed at how soft Mark’s fur was and dived both hands in to it and gripped tightly; I let it out again. I knew Logan would be okay with Mark’s wolf.

Jude laughed and I smiled over at her.

“So this is how dragons have children?”

“You know, I haven’t really thought about it? I’m sure that it’s the opposite for male dragons then it is for female,” I said with a laugh.

“That’s got to be a relief for you.”

“Yes, yes it is. I do not want to think about having to give birth to an egg the size of Logan’s before he hatched.”

Jude started laughing again and Logan made his way over to her. He looked up at her and smiled. Jude held her arms out and Logan held his up to her. She cuddled Logan close and sighed.

“I always wanted this, you know. I always wanted grand children.”

“Well now you’ve got two.”

I spread out my blanket in Ben’s arms and crawled in, covering myself with the other one. Ben leaned his head down and nuzzled my shoulder. I smiled up at him as I scratched his chin.

“After the wedding, we’ll think about more kids big guy.”

Ben rumbled in response.

“Why do I get the feeling you won’t leave the whole ‘big family’ thing alone?” I said to him.

He nudged my shoulder, which caused Jude to laugh.

“This must be an argument that you two have frequently.”

“Pretty much. He just smiles and goes on his way, like that’s going to convince me.”

“I got news for you kid, you’re already building a large family.”

Ben snorted.

“Oh don’t start or I’m going upstairs for the night,” I said to him.

He rumbled at me, distressed and pulled his legs closer to me. Jude smiled at us and let out a little chuckle. That’s when I noticed that Logan was asleep in Jude’s arms.

“Do you want to put him down? He’s asleep.”

“Should I take him upstairs with me?”

I looked over at Mark, who nodded. There would be time enough for him to sleep down here with the rest of us.

“Yeah, it’s okay. He might not be able to talk yet. We’re still working on that with Alphonse too. So he’ll emote. Try your best, but he’ll probably sleep all night. Changing is hard.”

Jude nodded and wished us good night before going upstairs with Logan and closing the door behind her. I settled in to my spot with my book when Mark put his paw on my leg. I looked up at him and got a face lick.

“Oh, gross. I really hope you didn’t just lick your butt.”

Mark let his tongue loll out of his mouth and barked. I laughed.

“I love you too, Mark.”

I watched him settle in his usual spot with Miles. Alphonse was slowly edging his way towards me. I patted my lap and he put his head down. I went back to reading my book while scratching his neck and eye ridges. Ben rumbled and I looked up.

“You want me to read?”

Ben nodded, so I shrugged and started reading aloud. Shortly after midnight, we all dropped off in to a deep sleep. I woke up to a shivering little boy in front of me, and his adoptive father behind me. I smiled and tucked the blankets around us before drifting off back to sleep.

We all got a rude awakening when Logan and Jude came down the steps. Logan clapped at us like Alphonse does to get attention. I yawned and lifted my head. Logan squealed and reached out for me. I laughed and wiggled out of the nest, going over to him and scooped him up from Jude.

“Look at you! Aren’t you handsome?” I said as I tickled his tummy.

Logan laughed and kissed my cheek. I looked up at Jude.

“Don’t look at me, he’s been doing that since he got up this morning.”

I shrugged and snuggled Logan closer. I felt a tug on my shirt and I looked down, Alphonse had woken up. I smiled and ran my hand over his hair. He smiled up at me in return. Logan saw who it was and held out his arms. Alphonse smiled back at him and I set Logan down, the two hugged.

Jude edged over to me and whispered, “Can they talk to each other?”

“Yeah. Dragon thing, apparently. Ben will explain when he gets up.”

“I’m awake,” He said as he finished wrapping one of the towels from the stack around his waist. “who can sleep with that noise?”

I laughed. “I did warn you.”

Alphonse smiled up at Ben and laughed when Ben scooped him up. I picked up Logan again and looked over at Miles and Mark. They were still asleep.

“Who’s in the mood for waffles?” I asked.

The answer got applause from the boys and laughter from Ben. Jude just shook her head and followed us all up the stairs.

-Marlowe

Arrivals

I pulled the car in to our drive and stopped at the end. The house had outdone itself, the pine trees had been replaced by large oaks and while everyone was out of the house, it had changed from a two-story castle to three and added a turret. Everything had been edged in multi-colored lights. I started laughing.

“Ben.” I said as I nudged him so he’d stop checking on the boys in the back seat. “Look.”

Ben turned around and his eyes went wide. “I guess no one’s home then.”

I snickered and took my foot off the brake pedal. The car moved forward and we made our way down the drive and went right in to the garage after pushing the button. Ben and I got out of the car. I went to the backdoor and before I could reach in for Alphonse, he was already up and in my arms. I smiled down at him.

“It’s okay, luv. You’re home now.” I said and tucked him under the cloak with me.

I’d have to do something soon about his clothing situation soon. I looked over the car at Ben, who had Logan. He grinned at me and I shook my head, smiling at him. I started toward the house with Alphonse and Ben caught up with me, taking my hand in his.

“You still sure?” Ben asked.

“We’re home. I’m sure. Now let’s go in.” I said and gave his hand a tug.

I gave Ben my keys so he could open up the door for myself and Alphonse, Logan had wrapped himself around Ben and hung on. As soon as we got inside, Logan took off, chirruping and flying through the house.

“Well, it looks like someone is happy to be home.” I said with a smile.

I walked in with Alphonse and Ben helped me take off my cloak. I tried to set Alphonse down, but he clung to my neck tightly. There was no way Alphie was going to let go of me yet.

“My darling, I have to make dinner, it’s my turn so you have to sit down. Would you like to sit down in the kitchen with me, where you can see?”

Alphonse nodded and finally let go when I pulled out a stool for him to sit at the table. Alphonse climbed on to the stool and sat, staring at me.

“I wish I could hear him.” I said to Ben softly.

“You will.” Ben said.

“Dinner ideas?” I said, wanting to change the subject. It hurt not hearing Logan or Alphonse.

“Pancakes?” Ben said.

“Is that coming from your or Alphie?” I asked as I opened the fridge.

“Me. He wants waffles. I can’t trust a kid who likes waffles better.”

“I knew I liked him.” I said as I winked at Alphonse. “Waffles it is.”

“You wound me, woman.” Ben said, dragging the words out in to a whine.

Alphonse giggled and I looked over at him and smiled.

“What should we have with the waffles? Berries? Bananas? Lots of syrup?”

“Alphonse wants Bananas and syrup. I want the berries in that sauce you make.”

“All right, but I need a favor from you.”

“Anything.” Ben said.

“I need you to go find Mark and Miles so they know what’s for dinner. You’ll also need to tell them about Alphie.” I said.

“What about my translating?” Ben asked.

Well well just have to deal until-” I was cut off by the backdoor opening and Mark walking in, stomping his boots off.

“You would not believe the amount of epic sh- ah, crap that is going on out there.” Mark said. He got a good look at Alphonse and then at me and Ben. “Did I miss something?”

I smiled over at Mark. “This is Alphonse.”

Mark looked at me, then back at Ben again, his mouth opening and closing like a big fish. Alphonse giggled at Mark. I looked over at Ben.

“He says Mark looks like on of the fish from the tank at the hospital.”

I laughed. “I thought the same thing, Poppet.”

“Hospital? But you- I mean, how could you- you’ve only been seeing each other for six months!”

I burst out laughing. “Mark! We’re adopting him. I didn’t give birth that fast!”

Ben started laughing and scooped up Alphonse, setting him on his lap. “This little one hatched a month before Logan. He needed parents. We’re adopting him.”

Mark looked at all of us. “You people are crazy.”

“Ben take Alphonse in to the Great Hall with Logan.” I said as I went over to Mark and led him to the table.

Mark dropped his bags and sat down as Ben and Alphonse left the room.

“There’s something out there, causing this much havoc and you want to adopt a child? Ben almost died!”

“I know better than anyone how it feels to lose someone, but life doesn’t stop going on just because they’re dead. Ben and I made the decision together,” I said. “we’re going to try to keep living our lives, Mark. Even with all this mess going on. Alphonse needs a family. We just happen to be building one.”

“Yes, but what about if one of you dies? What’s going to happen then?”

“I imagine that either one of us will find a way to keep living, even if it’s just for the kids at first.” I said. I placed my hands over his. “You’re over thinking things. It’s over for now. Let’s just take the quiet as it comes and hope that it stays that way for a good long while.”

“I want to accept that. I do, but I can’t help thinking that the two of you have made a huge mistake.” Mark said as he looked down at my hands.

“If it is a mistake, then it’s our mistake and you can blame us for it later. For now, I’m going to make waffles for my family. That includes you, if you’re interested.” I said as I got up from the table.

Mark shook his head and picked up his things. “I’m going up to shower. Don’t hold dinner for me.”

I watched him walk out and sighed. That hadn’t gone well and I made a note to sit down with him and Ben later to air everything out between the three of us. I was pulling out my stand mixer when Miles came bounding through the door, covered in snow and looking furious. I put my hands on my hips and frowned at him.

“My kitchen is not a place for an abominable snow beast. Go back outside and brush yourself off.”

“But I have news!” Miles said as he shed his outerwear and plopped down on to the stool that Mark had just vacated.

“What kind of news?” I asked because he was clearly not going to listen to me.

“They found a trace of magic left at the site that could lead them back to whomever is doing all the nasty business in town!”

That got my attention away from the waffles. “Go on.”

“That it, that’s all I’ve got.” Miles said.

I sighed. “You didn’t get any information from Eric?”

“No and he told me to tell you to keep your nose out of it.” Miles said.

I laughed. “That sounds like him.”

“The FBI was there too, including that man.” Miles said.

“Come off it, I know you’re still attracted to him.”

“Attracted, yes. In love? No. The jackass broke my heart.” Miles pouted.

I shook my head. “As it happens, I have news too.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. You’re an Uncle.” I said.

I watched the emotions play across his face.

“You’re pregnant? Already?” Miles asked and then let out a whoop, picking me up and spinning me around.

“No you great loon! Let me go.” I said, laughing.

“Then how am I an Uncle?” Miles looked perplexed.

I snickered. “Ben and I are adopting a little boy from the hospital. He’s in the Great Hall with Ben and Logan now.”

Miles set me down and looked at my face. “You’re serious?”

“Yes. His name is Alphonse.”

“Who saddled the kid with that name?” Miles said with a wrinkle to his nose.

“He chose it. We’re not saying at word, understand? He likes it and that’s that.” I said firmly.

“Can I call him Alphie?”

“We already do. Go say hi.” I said as I started pulling out the ingredients for the waffles. I turned around and he was gone.

Shaking my head, I started making the batter on auto-pilot, letting my mind drift. I made up lists of things Alphonse would need that he didn’t have and sighed.

“What’s up, habibi?” Ben asked as he came back in to the room.

“Alphie. I’m going to need to go shopping tomorrow with him. You too, if you feel up to it.” I said as I finished up the batter and set it back in to the fridge to chill.

“He’s going to need quite a lot of stuff, isn’t he?”

“Including a better coat than the one he has now. It’s too thin.” I said as I stepped in to his arms.

“A lot to take in.” Ben said.

“Yeah; but we can handle it, can’t we?”

“We can handle anything.” Ben said.

I really hoped that was true.

-Marlowe

Family Goes, Trouble Stays: Part 4

I woke up the next morning with a dragonet breathing in my face and a foot shoved in to my side. Raising my head, I looked down at where the foot was coming from. I saw the dogs crammed into one side of the bed. I looked over and saw that Logan had taken over the majority of the bed with his wings and tail. Eyeing him, I realized that he’d grown again.

I pushed myself up and sighed. He was getting too big to sleep in the same bed as the two of us. Ben would have to talk with him when he was well enough. I wiggled out of the bed and made my way to the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I was getting dressed and pulling my boots on to head back to the hospital. I was about to pull my coat on and head out the door when Logan chirruped from behind me and landed on my back.

“Logan!” I shouted as he wrapped his tail around my waist and his wings folded down around my shoulders.

His front and back legs were hooked in before I could stop him and he chirruped again. I looked back and found him looking at me, eyes wide and innocent looking.

“Oh, no. You are not going to the hospital with me.” I said.

I got a growl in response.

“Not going to happen.”

Another growl. I sighed.

“Fine. Just keep your head down and don’t let anyone know you’re under my coat.”

A happy chirrup and he settled down, drawing himself tighter around me. I decided then to trade my coat for a cloak. Flinging it over my shoulders I hauled the both of us out the backdoor and to the car. We drove together in silence to the hospital.

Walking in to the front doors, I quickly signed in and made my way up to Ben’s room. In the elevator though, Logan was getting antsy and chirruped from under my cloak.

“Hush. We’re almost there.” I said to him, silently thanking the gods that we were alone.

The doors opened and I met the Sheriff.

“Uh, Hi!” I said. It sounded a little too bright and I cursed under my breath.

“Hi.” Eric replied. He eyed my cloak and newly acquired hump. “Brought Logan with you?”

“Damn it, how did you know?”

“He is sticking his nose out.” Eric said with a chuckle.

“Logan, you’ve got to listen to Mommy and stay under the cloak.” I whispered. The nose disappeared.

“Don’t let the Nurses see him.” Eric said as he got on the elevator. “Ben’s fine, slept through the night. No trouble.”

“Thanks, Eric.” I said.

“You’re welcome.” He said and the doors slid closed.

I turned and made my way to Ben’s room, closing the door behind me.

“There’s trouble.” He said and I turned around with a gasp.

“Don’t scare me like that!”

Ben laughed. Hearing Ben’s voice made Logan chirrup and stick his nose out again.

“Is that who I think it is?”

“He wouldn’t let me leave the house without him.” I replied and took off the cloak.

Logan gave another happy chirrup and spread his wings out. Ben laughed.

“He’s so pleased with himself.” Ben said.

“I’m glad he’s pleased, tell me why he’s pretending to give me wings?” I said as I made my way over to the bed.

“He says you need your own.”

“Tell him I have my own. I have yours.”

“He says that doesn’t count. You need your own.”

“Stubborn.” I replied and Ben chuckled.

“He’s Max’s kid, you expected different?”

I sighed. The thought of Max still made me sad that he would never see Logan grow up. Logan felt my change in mood and started rubbing his nose against my cheek.

“He doesn’t want you to be sad.” Ben said he reached out for my hand and I slid mine in to his. “I don’t either.”

Logan slid off of my back and on to the bed between Ben and I. He crammed his head under my chin and chirruped.

“He’s sorry.”

I sighed and scratched his chin. “It’s okay. I miss my friend and your dad. I’m sad he won’t get to see you.”

Ben looked at both of us and sighed. “I try not to think about it. Max would think it was hilarious. Especially the part where he thinks your his Mom.”

I smiled. “He would have made all kinds of jokes by now about how we were supposed to wait for the wedding before having kids.”

Ben laughed. “I would have probably been honor bound to beat the hell out of him for making some kind of joke about how you and he had some great big affair.”

I started laughing. “That would be him. He would have done that.”

My eyes filled with tears suddenly and I looked up at Ben.

“Oh, habibi. I miss him too.”

I crawled on to the bed and tucked myself in to Ben’s arms. “He needed to be here for this.”

Logan crooned and wiggled until he was wedged between us, his head resting on Ben’s chest.

“He’s sad that he made us sad.”

“You did tell him this wasn’t his fault, right?”

“Yes. He doesn’t believe me though.”

“It’s not your fault, Logan.” I said to him. I got nuzzled in return.

We were still laying that way when the doctor came in to the room. Logan chirruped and stuck his head over my shoulder before I could stop him.

“I’m not even going to bother asking.” The Doctor said.

“My son.” I said.

“I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in knowing. I don’t see him here. Understand?”

“Perfectly.” I turned to Logan and said. “You’re not here, be invisible.”

I waited for him to catch on and sat up, turning my back to him. Logan latched on the way he did before and tucked his head down. I watched the doctor shake his head.

“Families.”

“Now Greg.” Ben said.

“That’s Doctor to you right now, you’re still my patient, not my colleague.” The Doctor said. He moved to Ben’s chart and I hopped off the bed and tossed the cloak over Logan and myself in case any nurses showed up. “Now, your tests came back fine. You slept through the day and night, but that was expected.”

“When can I go home?” Ben asked.

“In a few hours. We want to observe you a little while longer, to make sure there are no side effects we’re missing. If you do well at lunch and keep that down, I’ll send you home.” The Doctor said. “With light work. I know the kind of work load you keep.”

“I’m the only vet in town that deals with the Other, you know that.” Ben said.

“I know and you might want to think about taking on a partner this Spring. You’re going to be ass deep and satyrs.”

“Everyone keeps saying that, but I haven’t been able to get in to the archives to look at what’s going to happen.”

“You still don’t have a key? Even I have a key.”

“but you deal with the Other in their human form.” I said from where I was sitting with Logan on a chair. “That’s more important apparently.”

“Fair enough. Vets aren’t usually taken seriously.”

Ben grumbled under his breath. I missed what he said, but Greg the doctor laughed.

“Yeah, it is harder than Yale.” Greg said.

I smiled and looked over at Ben. I mouthed ‘I love you’ to him. He mouthed it back. Greg rolled his eyes.

“You two are hopeless. Congratulations, by the way.” He said.

“Thanks.” I said with a smile.

“I’ll leave  you now, check in on you later. Keep Logan out of sight if you can. I don’t want the whole floor in an uproar because there’s a pocket dragon on the floor.” Greg said as he mad his way to the door. He stopped and turned around. “Wait. I got a better idea. Let me get a wheelchair.”

Greg stepped out of the room and Ben chuckled.

“What?” I asked.

“He’s going to take us down to the children’s wing.”

I started laughing. “Oh, that’s the best place for us to hide.”

“The kids will get a kick out of Logan.”

“If he goes through the Change on the full moon, which Eric thinks he will, He’ll be one of them soon.” I said. Logan chirruped from under the cloak and made us laugh.

“That’s right, you are special.” Ben said.

Greg came back in then and helped Ben into the chair. Ben grumbled about how he wasn’t an invalid.

“You are in my hospital. Stay in the chair or I’m not releasing you.” Greg said.

Ben went quiet and Logan chirruped from under my cloak. I snickered and got a glare from Ben. I choked back a laugh and tried to look innocent as Greg wheeled Ben out, laughing. He nodded to the nurse before continuing our way down to the children’s ward. When we stepped out of the elevator, Greg told me to remove the cloak.

“It’s okay, down here. People are coming in and out with their Other out all day long. It helps the kids feel more normal, like they’re not odd.” Greg said.

I pulled off the cloak and Logan chirruped and flipped his wings out. It startled a nurse as she came out of a room.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Greg you could warn a body when you’re bringing someone with wings that big down here.” She scolded Greg.

I started laughing and Logan poked his head out from behind me and started making his happy noises. She yelped and dropped her clipboard.

“Oh my gods. Is that?” She looked over at Greg, who nodded. “I’ve never seen one that young before. How long has it been out of shell?”

“About a week, I think.”

“That’s about right.” Ben said.

“So big, so fast.” She said and stepped over the clipboard to look at Logan.

I smiled and turned around so she could see him better. Logan was preening and chirruping in my ear. I smiled and scratched his chin.

“Are you the birth Mom?” She asked me.

“No, his adoptive Mom.” I replied.

That got me a sharp chirp from Logan. Ben laughed.

“He says you’re Mom. Nothing else.”

I smiled. “Okay, baby.”

Logan chirped and nuzzled my cheek.

“Well, I’ll say. That’s good news for us here.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We deal with the Other down here, honey. Especially the dragon kin that are just hatched and turned. I’m glad to see he’s doing okay.” the Nurse said. She turned to Ben. “you’d be the vet then. The one that can talk to animals.”

“I am.”

“Good I have use for you. Bring him this way.” She motioned to Greg.

I followed them, folding my cloak and tucking my arms around it. She led us around the nurses station. Ever occupant stared at me and Logan, who happily did his own form of talking at me and to anyone who would pay him attention. I smiled at him and he nuzzled my cheek again while fanning his wings. We were led to a room at the opposite end of the ward and she motioned for us to stop.

“James Keegan changed this morning. We can’t get him to change back. He’s frantic and scared.” she said while looking at Ben. “He’s a gryphon. The only one in town and we don’t know why he changed, but I need you to calm him down.”

“I can try, but I can already tell he’s frantic. He doesn’t understand why he’s here or why he’s in his ‘Moon form’ already.” Ben said.

“He’s here because of a broken wrist he got from that blasted Jim Baker.” the Nurse said.

Greg’s face drew tight. “Again? I warned him if he hurt another kid he’d be sent here to us for safe keeping.”

“You can’t expect a Minotaur child to understand why he can’t play normally with other kids. They’re not as smart as some of the other species.” she scolded.

“I can’t allow a danger outside of the hospital. He’ll have to come here until he can understand why he can’t do things the way other kids can.” Greg flushed.

Ben sighed. “You needed to come to me sooner. I’d have helped.”

“Well you’re here now. Talk to James.” The nurse said. She looked up at me and Logan. “You come with me and I’ll take that. You’ll be too busy in a minute.”

I handed my cloak over to the nurse and smiled. “What’s you’re name?”

“Elsie Gibbons. Come with me. I have some kids who need to see Logan.” She said as she led the way down the hall to a play area.

“I’m Marlowe.” I said to her.

“Well Marlowe, I hope you like loud noises.”

We stepped in to the loud room and the whole place went silent. I smiled.

“Hello.” I said.

“Lady, do you know you have wings?” one of the kids asked.

I laughed. “I don’t just have wings, I have a whole dragon.”

Logan popped his head back over my shoulder, where he had retreated from the noise. He chirped. The kids gasped.

“No way! He’s awesome.” said a little boy with a cat tail.

“He certainly is. We’re just waiting for him to turn in to one of you so he can be even more awesome.” I said.

“Why?”

“Well, I’d like to be able to talk to him without having to use his Papa to translate.”

“His Papa can talk to him while he’s like that?” a little girl with wings asked.

“He certainly can.” I replied.

“What can you do?” Another boy, this time with a couple extra tentacles, asked.

I smiled and pulled out my car keys from my pocket. I made them levitate and another gasp went through the room.

“That is so cool.” the boy with the tail whispered.

I laughed. “I think so too.”

The nurse left me there with the kids and I spent the day answering questions. When Logan slid off my back and bounded towards a little boy in the corner who wasn’t talking or interacting at all. I watched carefully as Logan sprang up and put his paws on his legs. He started talking in his own way and pushed at the little boy’s legs. I waited. I knew he wasn’t going to hurt the little boy, but I still wanted to be sure.

I smiled when the little boy reached out and scratched Logan’s eye ridges. I watched them interact for a few minutes longer before going back to answering the kids questions. The asked everything from my job, to why I had Logan. They quizzed me on my ability and laughed when I made a metal spaceship fly around the room.

When Greg finally came in to the room with Ben, the kids had lost interest in me and where playing nicely with Logan. He was having the time of his life and had managed to pull the little boy in the corner out to play. I smiled and reached over for Ben’s hand, tangling my fingers with his. I looked over at him.

“How’s James?”

“Much calmer. He’s sleeping now.”

“I knew you could do it.” I said. “Now, can you tell me why Logan has taken a shine to that little boy?”

“Sure. He’s a dragon too.” Ben said.

“He hatched a month before Logan. We don’t know where the egg came from. I found him on my way to work on the morning after the full moon. He was filthy, naked and wandering the road way out by Blue Arrow.” Greg said.

“Well.. Sh-uh, crap.” I said, mindful of where I was.

“Crap indeed. He’s got no family.” Greg said, looking at me.

“Oh no. Really?” I said looking at the both of them.

“Now, Marlowe.” Ben said.

I pointed a finger at him. “This is not like bringing home a dog, Ben. It’s a little boy.”

“Who has no one.” Ben said.

I narrowed my eyes at him, then looked over at the boy playing with Logan. He looked up at me and his lavender eyes stared in to mine. I couldn’t help it, my heart melted a little.

“Crap.”

Greg laughed. “You gave in faster than I thought you would. Ben went on and on about how stubborn you were.”

“Does he have a name?”

“Alphonse.” Ben said.

I sighed. “Who saddled the kid with that name?”

“He did. He likes it.” Ben said.

“I’m assuming you are already listening to him?” I said.

“Yes. Marlowe I know it’s not like a dog, but he needs a home. Family. You said yourself the other night that we were building one. What do you say about starting with Alphie?”

I looked from Ben to Greg to Alphonse and sighed. “Okay. I give in. We’ll take him home with us.”

“I’ll get his discharge papers and yours, Ben. There’s nothing wrong with him, I just didn’t want to release him. He has nowhere to go but an orphanage and I didn’t want him leaving Blueville.” Greg said before he stepped out.

I looked over at Ben. “You do realize that this means the Castle is going to bud new rooms, the dogs are going to go nuts and Miles and Mark  are going to tell us we’re nuts, right?”

“Yep.”

“Ben?”

“Yes?”

“You bring another animal home from your practice and I’ll bury you in the backyard. Alive.”

“Now, habibi.”

“No, Ben. We’ve got too much on our plate now. No more animals. We’ve got two kids, two dogs, two roommates, and a fire-breathing bearded dragon.”

Ben went silent. “Okay. No more pets for a while.”

“A long while.” I said and called over to Logan.

He ran over with his tail wrapped around Alphonse’s wrist.

“Honey you’ve got to let Alphonse go. He can’t run as fast as you can on all fours.” I said to Logan.

Logan chirruped at me and looked up at Ben, who nodded. Logan let go of Alphonse and climbed into Ben’s lap. Ben looked at Alphonse and suddenly, my lap was full of crying child. I held Alphonse as he cried, rocking him back and forth and rubbing his back.

“I take it he’s happy?” I said to Ben.

Ben nodded. I sighed and cuddled Alphonse. When Greg came back in with the papers, I signed my name without thinking twice.

“Two kids.” I said to Ben as we walked out of the hospital. “I come for my Dragon with one in tow and walk out with two.”

“I like big families.” Ben said to me.

“You also like silence, which you’re not going to get anymore.” I warned.

“We’ll make it work.” Ben said as he kissed me.

We got to the car and I managed to convince Alphonse to sit in the back with Logan, who was talking happily to his new brother.

“Can they understand each other?”

“Yes.” Ben said as he went around to the other side and got in.

“Interesting.” I said.

“I’m getting to you. Pretty soon you’ll be helping me in the field.”

I shook my head and got into the car. I started the car and headed for home with my newly expanded family in tow.

“Miles is going to freak out.” I said.

“I know, isn’t it great?”

I laughed.

-Marlowe