The first part of this story takes place between chapter 33 and 34 of Ascension.
When Skies Are Grey
"I said no, Mirabelle!"
"Mom said I could go!"
"Will you all please just calm down!" Matt stepped into the kitchen, hands up, ready to intervene.
Mira ignored her brother. "I'm going to Seth's, you can't stop me."
"The hell I can't!" Adam said with a scoff.
"Stop it, both of you," Matt said firmly.
"You are freaking unbelievable!" The tension between father and daughter was stretched taut.
"I'm unbelievable? You're out of line. Whatever could have made you think that spending the night with your boyfriend would be acceptable?"
"Because," she said slowly. "Mom said I could."
"Well I say you can't. I don't you around that boy anymore than you need to be."
"Stop calling him 'that boy'!"
"You're scaring the baby!" Matt said over the sounds of his distressed niece's whimpers coming from the family room.
Mira moved to leave the room when Adam addressed his son. "Matt, go check on Lucy. I'm not done talking to you yet."
"Yeah, you are," Mira snapped at him. "I don't know what you want from me, dad. You knew when he and I decided to keep Lucy that he would be a part of this family so I don't know what your problem is."
"My problem is that he abandons you time and time again and you just take it." He sighed, noting her eyes widening at his voice of disappointment. "My problem is that it's obvious that you know why he abandoned you. Yet you still take him back."
"You don't know what you're talking about." Her voice cracked with fury. "You're just pissed off you can't control me in this!"
"You watch how you talk to me!" He pointed a finger at her.
"I'm just talking to you the way I should talk to you!" Mira spat. He could see her knuckles turning white on the countertop she was gripping. "My respect for you walked out the door the day you fucking did!"
Adam stepped forward, but stopped short when a strong hand grabbed his arm. He saw Matt standing beside him, baby in one arm, other one holding him back.
"That's enough," he said in Audrey's end-of-discussion voice.
Mira took Lucy out of his arms and marched out of the room without so much as a look at her father. The slamming of her bedroom door came a moment later. Only then did Matt release his father.
"Hope you're happy," the younger man said shortly, leaving the room.
Adam closed his eyes and sat at one of the kitchen tables. When had this happened. When had his little princess turned on him in such a way? When did he become her enemy? Didn't he see she only wanted what was best for her and his granddaughter?
He tapped his fingers on the table in thought. He'd have to talk to Audrey later. Surely once he spoke his side, she would forbid Mira from going.
He hated that boy. His feelings for Seth Elsen had gone up and down over the last year, but now he flat out hated him. He didn't care if he was Lucy's father, or every time he looked at Lucy he saw his face, it didn't matter. He was grime. He had ruined Mira's life and poisoned the lives of everyone around her.
But for some reason she loved Seth. He saw it in her eyes every time he was mentioned or came around. The smile she would give him and the happiness she radiated baffled him. He'd always thought she had a higher opinion of herself than to settle for someone like... someone like that.
Looking down the hall from the kitchen to the front door and along the side of the stairs, he knew she'd never come down and talk to him. She'd never apologize either. And in a way Adam knew she still resented him for his actions during her pregnancy. But that remark was uncalled for.
He wanted his family back. He wanted his daughter back. He wanted her to be his little girl again.
"One more peep and it's naptime for you, Mirabelle, I mean it."
Mira stopped mid-scream and stared up at her father in despair, pouty lower lip quivering as more tears streamed down her little face.
Adam sighed and rubbed his forehead, turning his attention to the color swatches on the desk in front of him.
"Mira's real mad at you, daddy," a little chastising voice said.
"Well let her be mad, Matt. I don't care. Naughty little girls don't get to have fun."
The five-year-old boy stared disapprovingly at his father before plonking down beside his sister. The baby girl squirmed around on her back until she could look up at her brother through her teary eyes. Pulling one wet little hand from her mouth, she reached up and tapped his cheek.
"Matt," she gasped between sobs. "Swide."
"Daddy says we can't go to the park," Matt told her, petting her hair. "But if you're real good, maybe we can go later."
Mira looked at her father, probably considering her options. Unfortunately for the man, his daughter took after him in stubbornness.
"NOOO!" The little girl screamed. "Want swide now!" She banged her little fists on the floor in pure baby rage. "MEAN DADDY! MEAN!"
"What is going on in here?" Linda Pascal asked as she came down the stairs. Her greying red hair was pinned behind her ears. She was a woman of subdued power and elegance, with a smile that once made men fall to their knees, and a tongue that easily put anyone in their place when needed. Matt, and recently Mira, had taken to calling her 'Orange Grandma'. It was better than what they called Audrey's mother; Mean Grandma.
"Apparently I'm the meanest daddy in the world," Adam said flatly.
"Aww, there's no need to be so cold," Linda chimed. "She's only a baby."
"Leave Adam alone, mom." Leda walked in after her mother. Her speech was a little impaired due to the three grand of metal work in her mouth. At fifteen, she was well-known for her gifts of rebuttal and never backing down in any sort of altercation. "The little Chicha's having a screaming match with herself."
"I just don't want my darling grandchildren to remember this visit as one that was sad."
"She's not even two yet," Leda rolled her eyes. "Be lamer, mother."
"Watch how you talk to your mother, Leda," Aiden Pascal's voice said from the other room.
Mira stared at the talking adults in the room and decided that attention had been drawn away from her long enough. She threw herself back on the floor and began screaming again, kicking her feet on the floor.
"MOMMY!" She screamed. "Want mommy!"
Adam watched, fascinated, as his little boy laid down beside her and stroked her forehead. They had been down here visiting Adam's parents for three days, and Mira had been completely fine with Audrey's absence. He remembered his wife's reluctance to be separated from the nineteen-month-old, but a family emergency of her own had her flying down to Florida. Adam assured her both Mira and Matt would be completely fine in his care.
Then earlier today, he had tried to take the children to the park and one of every parent's worst nightmares came true when he thought Leda was playing with Mira. But then the young teen suddenly appeared with that horrible phrase "I thought you had her" and Adam's lungs ceased to work. He'd dropped his son into Leda's arms and took off running across the park.
After almost two minutes of pure, absolute terror of not being able to locate her, he spotted her. A nice mother had spotted her wandering around the park and was holding her and asking her where her mommy or daddy was. The little girl had been too distraught in sobbing in terror to answer. Adam had scooped her out of the woman's arms and held her so tight he could feel the pounding heart against his.
He'd packed the kids up and drove them back to his parent's house. He hated punishing Matt like that, but he was far too terrified after that to let either of them out of his sight. Luckily the five-year-old had inherited Audrey's ability to be reasonable, and had taken to comforting his sister over pouting.
"It's okay, Mira," the boy was saying. "You wanna play racecars with me?"
"She's too little for racecar, Matt. I don't want them near her mouth."
Matt looked outraged at such an accusation. "I wasn't gonna let her eat any, daddy!"
A volleyball flew into the room, smacking against the side of the desk and catching Adam's attention. It bounced over by Matt and Mira, who stopped screaming to stare at it curiously.
"Leda what did I tell you about throwing that thing in the house?" Aiden yelled.
"Sorry!" The teen ran into the room and picked up the ball. She wore her volleyball uniform, hair back in a strangely large scrunchie.
"I thought you had debate team today?" Adam asked.
"That's on Tuesdays. Thursdays are volleyball days."
"Are you gonna play a game, Aunt Leda?" Matt asked innocently.
"Practice, Romper Room." She ruffled his hair.
"You don't even know what that is, Leda."
"Careful Adam," Leda warned. "Don't make me start screaming on the floor, I know it's the one thing in the world you can't handle."
"Never have kids, Leeds."
"Adam?" Linda asked, digging through her purse for her keys. "I'm going to drive your sister to her practice, please try to keep the noise down."
"Sure," Adam agreed. Twenty-eight years old and he still took orders from his mother, he thought with a shake of his head.
"Peace out," Leda tossed her ball in the air with one hand and caught in the other, following her mother out to the car. "Hey mom can I drive?" Adam heard Linda groan and close the front door behind them.
By now, Mira's screams had dissolved into small sniffles.
Adam sighed, grateful for the momentary silence. Watching his kids out of the corner of his eye, he tried to focus on these boards. While one could argue he probably shouldn't be working while enjoying a visit, he needed something to take his mind off the fact that Mira had run off today. Anything could have happened to her; attacked by a dog, snatched up by a kidnapper, fallen into the lake, the list went on. A shudder went up his spine at the thought. Tearing his eyes from his advertising project, he watched the children interact.
Matt was on his stomach beside his sister, moving his matchbox car back and forth robotically. Mira's eyes watched the small toy, giggling when Matt made engine noises and bumped it against her arm.
He gazed that them with so much love he thought his heart would burst. Matt and Mira, the two most important people in his life next to Audrey. They were so amazing and smart and-
"Mira no!" Matt's yell pulled him from his thoughts. Matt was wrestling one of the toy cars out of his sister's hands before she could put it in her mouth.
"NOOO!" Mira screamed once the toy was taken. She threw herself back on the floor in a screaming rage, kicking her tiny legs in rage. And just like that, the screaming was back.
Adam longed for Audrey to be here. Mira never acted this way with her mother. She had always been such a good baby, and this tantrum was a first. Audrey would have had her apologizing and cuddling in minutes. His wife was amazing like that.
"What is going on in here?" Aiden came into the room. He was a tall, strong Irish man. At fifty-five, his dark blond hair had turned silver and Adam knew it would be white soon. He had been the man Adam had always looked up to for his brains, his kindness, and the compassion he had for his fellow man.
"I think she needs a nap," Adam informed his father. "You wanna get Matt outta here so I can put her down?"
Aiden clapped him on the shoulder. "Hey Matt?" he asked, approaching his grandchildren. Mira immediately put her arms out to be picked up, but the older man just chuckled. "Sorry, Mirabelle, but little girls who run off from their daddies won't be getting any cuddling from me."
Mira's rosy little mouth popped open in shock and outrage and she continued kicking her feet against the floor.
"Yeah, Grampa?" Matt asked.
"I need to run to the store, want to go for a ride?"
Matt paused, a strangely mature look of confliction on his babyish face. As per usual, the boy looked to his father for confirmation.
"It's okay, kiddo. You can go," Adam assured the child.
"Can I get a candy bar?" Matt asked, standing.
"Maybe something less sugary," Aiden said, patting the boy's shoulder.
Mira by now had noticed the lack of older brother beside her and sat up. "Matt, Matt, Matt!" She attempted to bring herself to her feet, only to fall back down. Never to be deterred, she tried again. This time she was able to go after him.
Matt gave his sister a sad look, patting her downy blonde hair when she reached him. "Sorry sis."
"We'll be right back, Matt is going to help me with something," Aiden informed his granddaughter.
"No! No Matt no go!" She screamed. "Matt no go!"
Adam got up from his chair. "Matt'll be back, Mira. But you need a nap." He began toward them.
"NO!" Mira screamed again, running off and hiding under the dining room table.
"Good luck," Aiden wished his son. Matt gave Adam and Mira one last wave and followed Aiden out of the house.
Adam stood in front of the table that was half-hiding his baby. "Mira, come out of there."
"Mira if I have to go in there and get you, you'll be spending the rest of the visit in the house."
Adam huffed and pinched the bridge of his nose. When had this happened? When had his sweet, placid little angel of a daughter turn into such a raging little hellspawn? He looked up to see a China-doll face scrunched up in a glare under the table. It was the same glare her mother often gave him.
"Fine," he conceded. "Know what? You wanna stay under there, that's fine. I've got all day, little girl."
He sauntered back to his desk with a smile on his face. The smile dropped before he even reached it.
"MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT! MATT! MOMMY! MAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT!"
Adam sighed and sat at his desk. She won this round.
Fifteen minutes of nothing but solid screaming, Adam was just about ready to pack her up and take her to the damn park just to make his head stop throbbing. How was a toddler besting him like this? Matt had never been this terrible in his toddler years. He had faced down the terror that was Audrey's family and he was being put in his place by a baby? Granted the most beautiful, smart, adorable, loving baby in the world.
The screams died down and he looked up from his papers. He slowly pushed himself and tiptoed to the table, kneeling down to get a better look.
Mira had fallen asleep. Little head buried in her chubby little arms, blonde hair messy and falling around her face. For a minute, Adam just sat there staring at his little girl.
Slowly, he eased two chairs out of the way so he could duck under and pick her up and set her against his shoulder and stood.
He carried her up the stairs to the portable cot when a little hand slapped his neck. He turned his head to meet her big blue gaze. Mira picked her head off his shoulder and took his face in her tiny hands, palms rubbing against his day old stubble. Adam couldn't help but smile.
"I sowee, daddy," she said seriously, still holding his face. "I sowee."
Adam stared down at the earnest little face and all the earlier frustrations and annoyance from early just melted away as he fell even more in love with this little girl. He took the little hand from his cheek and kissed it. "I know. I know you are."
"I wuv you," she said innocently. Adam brought her forward and kissed her cheek, hearing her giggle and bat at his cheeks, his stubble tickling her.
"I love you too, princess." He kissed her other cheek, earning another giggle. "So much." Glancing at the cot, he changed his mind and instead laid back on his bed with her on his chest. "Just don't run off again like that, okay? Don't give Daddy an unneeded heart attack."
Adam knew she didn't know what that last part meant, but she nodded and smooshed his cheeks again. He looked at the clock. It was getting too late for them to go to the park, so he looked at his daughter again, who petting his chin and giggling.
"Tell you what, princess; first thing tomorrow, I'll take you and Matt to the park. How's that sound?"
Adam smiled. "And you can play on the slide."
"Yay!" Mira cheered, clapping her chubby little hands. "Matt home soon?"
"Yeah, Matt will be home soon. Then we'll eat dinner." He pushed the little girl in the air right above his chest and dropped her, catching her before she could land. "Then you get a bath." He did it again, making the baby squeal with laughter. "But what do you wanna do till then?"
Mira held onto his arms as best she could. "Suntine!" she announced. Adam brought her down so she was sitting on his stomach, legs stretched over his ribcage.
"You want Sunshine?"
Forsaking the crib, Adam lifted her up again and laid her across his chest, feeling little arms stretch out wide to hold onto him.
"You are my sunshine," he sang quietly. "My only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey." He rubbed his hand up and down her back. "You'll never know dear how much I love you."
Adam felt her snuggle closer, breaths evening out. It didn't surprise him. Next to Sleeping Beauty, this song somehow managed to always make her fall asleep. He continued rubbing her back until he felt her slip off to sleep.
"Please don't take my sunshine away..."
It wasn't long before he joined her in slumber.
Oh the feels! They are too much! This is a short story I wrote because I have a lot of feelings.
Writing teenage Leda was an interesting experience, I was aiming for 90s Marli with braces. And as for Aiden as Linda, they will most likely be appearing in Ascension… eventually. Depends how many people wanna see them. Sets have been made for Aiden and Linda, the link is in the 'other' category on my profile.
Read and Review!