Cornelius wasn't sure what all the fuss was about but from the death-like grip his adoptive father had on his wrist he sensed he'd done something very, very wrong. Maybe he should have stayed in the kitchen but there was a strange atmosphere in there and it was much more fun pretending to be an airplane in the lounge, until he had overbalanced on a particularly tricky landing and taken down an ornamental plate from the wall. He thought he might have done his grandfather a favour at first, because plates were not meant to be hung on walls.
Sam handed shards of a gaudy looking former plate to his father. "Look, I'm sorry Dad, I'll replace it, just give me the details."
Jared, the sole Truman child still living in the family home, let out a whoop and swooped his six-year old nephew up into a rare hug. "You little genius! I've been trying to get rid of that butt-ugly plate for ages."
Sam cocked his head pointedly. "Or it's wrong to go into other people's houses and break things. That would work too."
"Don't worry about it, son," Oliver took what remained of the plate gingerly. He wasn't too concerned. He had mostly bought that plate to annoy Jared. There had to be some perks to having to listen to his son and girlfriend's extremely frequent and noisy bilingual fights.
"Mate, what do we need to say to Grandpa?" Sam gestured.
Cornelius frowned in concentration. He sensed that there was only one right answer to the question but wasn't sure what it was. He was quite tempted to go with 'you're welcome' and see what happened.
Milagra sloped back into house at this point, letting Cornelius off the hook.
"Pumpkin," Jared jumped up from his seat and hastened towards her. "How was your walk?"
Milagra had come over to England as Jared's Spanish exchange partner for his A –Levels a year ago and had not yet left. The rest of the family were starting to give up hope that this was ever going to happen. It was now at the point where no one was quite sure what would happen first – her returning to Spain or a zombie apocalypse. Small, blonde and perpetually angry, Milagra's presence in the Truman house was not a welcome one. Her early morning constitutional was one that her anger management therapist had recommended. She, herself, was not sold on the idea but was trying to show willing.
"Don't call me Pumpkin," the Zen Garden of Peace brushed past Jared to get a carton of juice from the fridge. She had been informed about this little weekend trip the previous night and was not happy.
"I almost forgot," Lyla exclaimed, in a misguided attempt to diffuse some of the tension – of which she and her husband were causing a lot of. "I made some muffins for the journey."
She bent her head to rummage around in her bag and so luckily couldn't see her husband standing behind her making slashing motions against his throat. As Carter had had to wash off a fair amount of muffin batter in the shower this morning after the events of the previous night, he felt like he was uniquely qualified to comment on their quality.
"Are we sure these are fit for human consumption, Ly?" Jared surveyed them with a scientific gaze. His older sister wasn't known for being the world's greatest cook. Her culinary masterpieces ranged from the very stupid to the downright dangerous. He still shuddered thinking about the exploding eggs of 2009.
"No, you're right. I forgot about the tablespoon of arsenic I added instead of baking powder. Want to be my guinea pig and we'll find out?" Lyla asked darkly.
She fixed her brother with a withering stare. She was getting in a lot of practice with her withering stares at the moment. Men were idiots.
Jared wondered if he could get away with hiding behind his girlfriend for support without looking unmanly. He dropped a kiss on Milagra's cheek, which she accepted with a grimace.
Milagra took the Tupperware container, which was difficult when Jared wouldn't let go of her other hand. It made a rubbery, squelching sound that wouldn't normally be associated with cake. But she wasn't one to judge. Also, the fact that Jared wasn't keen on eating it perversely really made her want to.
"So let's talk travel arrangements," Oliver rubbed his hands together. It was probably about time to get this disaster on the road. The sooner they got going, the sooner he would… No, he was getting ahead of himself. "We're taking two cars. Jared will drive one, and Parkers…" he gestured towards his daughter and son-in-law. "…Are you still alright to drive the other car?" 'Are you still alright to drive the other car without killing each other?' being the question hanging unsaid in the air.
"Yes, but I don't necessarily have to travel with my husband," Lyla piped up.
"You got that one in there quick," Carter rolled his eyes.
"Well I'm not letting Puke-y anywhere near my car," Jared added, motioning towards his sister.
Lyla was notorious for throwing up on car journeys. The Truman boys had many vomit-soaked memories from childhood holidays. The unlucky child sitting in the middle seat often had to hold the sick bag open for her. Jared was madly in love with his car and so not keen on the thought of cleaning vomit from his leather interiors. If Milagra had been the jealous type then they may have had some problems (well, more than they already did).
"Huh, imagine that." Carter nudged his wife in the arm. "I'll take Puke-y." He piped up.
"We'll go with Carter and Ly," Sam added. "Two good influences for my son."
Had he been a fly on the wall in their household last night, he may not have kept this opinion.
"I'll take my Milagra," Jared added.
There was an audible sigh of relief at this. If Jared hadn't wanted to take Milagra she might have been left behind.
Oliver cleared his throat loudly.
"Oh, and Dad, of course," Jared added, privately throwing an 'oops' look at his siblings. "Let's get this show on the road," he clapped his hands together loudly. "Everyone ready, packed and toileted? Orca?"
He gestured here to his pregnant sister, who promptly threw a cushion at him. Jared, having lots of practice in ducking flying objects, so ducked and it hit Milagra instead. Lyla paled and tried to hide behind her husband who, after the car debacle wasn't that interested in being helpful.
Sam frowned and took his brother aside as the motley crew made their way outside. Talking about feelings made him queasy but every once in a while he felt like he needed to try and be a good older brother. He had missed out on a lot with his siblings after what were politely referred to in family circles as 'The Mimi Years'. "What's up with you…? You okay?"
"I'm going to ask Milagra to marry me this weekend. Shhhh…! Don't tell anyone." Jared clapped his shell-shocked brother on the shoulder and bounded down the steps.