*kicks door down* I'm back! With a sequel of all things! Now, you don't really have to have read the first story to get the sequel as I'll do my best to explain everything in this story for newcomers but it would be appreciated!
Ivan hated mornings. He used to be a morning person when he was a teenager, Now that he's twenty-eight and had kids, now it's just a hassle as he tried his hardest to comb his eight-year-old daughter's hair while screaming for his ten-year-old son to get up and get ready for school. Hair tie hanging out of his mouth while he used a brush to battle against his daughter's rat-nest of a head.
Erica had his fire-red hair and green eyes, she was a little tubby, but that's to be expected of an eight-year-old. But boy, she got her temper from her mother at times, as well as her mothers nose.
"Is this gum!?" Ivan growled as he felt a sticky substance in his daughter's fiery orange hair. "Did you get gum in your hair again!?" His daughter, Erica, clearly pouted at this.
She mumbled her answer: "Tally gave me some yesterday."
"Well, you tell Tally to stop it or else I swear Erica I will have your head shaved!" It was an empty threat through and through. He'd never put his daughter through that sort of psychological damage.
"No! I like my hair!" Erica clenched on to her locks in desperation. "I want to look like Merida for Halloween!"
"Then stop chewing gum!" Ivan snatched a pair of scissors off of the kitchen table, already ready for this situation. Then he looked at the clock on the oven. "Oh for fucksake!- Joel!" Ivan stood up his temper already reaching the red zone. He then slapped the back of his hand against his palm. "Get up! This is the last time I'm telling you if I have to go up there myself you won't like me!" Ivan roared out. Has it ever come physical punishment between him and his kids? Once, yes.
When Joel was eight he threw a rock at Erica's head and Ivan wasn't going to let that slide. Ivan wasn't proud of it, he was never a fan of spanking or physical punishment in general, but it was done and Joel learned his lesson.
The threat worked and he could hear Joel finally moving around up in his bedroom.
Ivan grabbed the scissors and snipped the gum out of Erica's hair, thankfully the gum was at the bottom and under the rest of her hair, so it won't be visible. He then showed Erica the hairy gumblob. "Stop. chewing. gum." He ordered. He then resumed brushing and put her hair up in a ponytail. "Daddy! Can I have a pop-tart!" Erica happily bounced up from her seat.
Ivan tsked slightly and sucked in a deep breath through his teeth. 'Do we have pop-tarts?' He thought for a moment. "Let's see..." He forced himself up, his knees protesting the sudden movement, this was something he learned to ignore. Quietly he opened the cupboard and frowned at it's barren state. Just some rice and instant mashed potatoes. "Sorry sweetie, no pop-tarts." Erica crossed her arms in annoyance and pouted, but she didn't press any further.
"At least it's breakfast burrito day..." She muttered.
'At least I put twenty dollars in your lunch accounts so you won't go hungry for a while.' Ivan thought to himself. Then he remembered his eldest. "Joel! Oh." Joel had just walked out just as Ivan was screaming his name.
Joel was a just a little taller than Erica, he shared the same hair color as Erica but had his mother's honey brown eyes, and he also had Ivan's many freckles, something Erica did not get.
Ivan sighed when he saw Joel wearing his overalls, the ones that were short, not long. He had his favorite white and blue striped shirt under the overalls, but that's not what Ivan was sighing about. He walked over and started fixing the crisscrossed straps. "But da-aa-d! All the kids wear theirs like this!" Joel tried to protest as Ivan straightened them.
"No they don't, Joel- why aren't your socks matching?" Ivan just happened to look down at Joel's sneakered feet and saw he was wearing one blue sock and one white sock.
"They match my shirt better, daddy!"
"...Whatever." Ivan sighed in defeat. If he kept this up they were going to be late. "C'mon just get into the car before you're late, again."
Erica instantly attached her hand to his while Joel just marched on forward. They quickly went outside where Ivan got them settled. Thankfully, Joel finally reached the height requirement so he no longer needed a booster seat, Erica still needed hers though, and god did she hate it. "I'm tall enough! I don't need my booster seat anymore!" She tried to argue as she kicked her legs in protest. Her little feet hitting Ivan's driver seat. This was nothing new, really it wasn't. The dents on the back of his seat were proof of that.
"I'm just trying to keep you safe, pumpkin." Ivan, almost robotically, replied as he still continued to buckle her in.
Erica continued to pout and whine about being in the booster seat. Joel really just sat quietly beside her. Eventually, they were both buckled in and Ivan took off for the school. Erica, pretty quickly, forgot about hating her booster seat to start rambling on about her friend Tally, and how Tally had pencils that smelt nice but didn't erase all that well, and how Tally got this, and that, and blah, blah, blah. Honestly, Ivan stopped listening about three minutes in. He could only sigh and bite his tongue. Quietly he tapped his steering wheel with his fingers. He just wanted to drop his kids off, that's one of the good things about living in a small town, it seems. Not exactly a lot of traffic, but there was a downside. It still took him about twenty minutes to get to school.
"Daddy?" Joel spoke suddenly in such a sweet voice that made Ivan close his eyes just briefly.
"Yes, Joel?" Ivan asked in a slightly wavering voice going between normal and annoyed.
"Will Mommy pick us up today? I miss her."
Ivan felt a pit open up in his stomach as he stared blankly out his windshield. Candace, their mother. They had been a couple, a disaster of a couple who thought two children would fix all of their problems. Well, two children didn't fix everything and Ivan woke up one day to Candace gone. No note. She packed up her clothes in the middle of the night and left. Ivan didn't blame her if she didn't walk out the door than he probably would have.
It's been two years since she left. Absolutely no contact from her since then either. Ivan wasn't mad she left. He was mad that she didn't give a shit about her two kids. If Ivan would have been the one to leave he would have at least stayed in contact with the kids, but she couldn't even do that.
"No Joel, I don't think Mommy will." Was all Ivan could say about the subject and he just let it drop.
Eventually, they made it to the school. Joel helped Erica out of her booster seat, they said their goodbyes, and they rushed away with the swarm of crotch gremlins making their way to their classrooms.
Ivan felt a low sigh leave his mouth and he drove off. Away from the school and away from his two kids. His headache starting to slowly dissipate. A sick part of Ivan just wanted to drive away from everything, but he couldn't do that, not to his kids, not after Candace left. So, Ivan continued to grin and bear it for his kids' sake anyways.
He got to work, which was located in the next town over. Ivan glanced at the clock. 'Five minutes till clock in time.' He took note. He looked around the parking lot. Lots of cars, yes, but nobody around to see him it seemed. He slowly exhaled a deep breath he's been holding, placed his head against his steering wheel, and cried.
He softly wept against his steering wheel. He didn't want this life and it showed. His mom was in the hospital with Leukemia, his best friend in the army, his (ex) girlfriend left him with his two kids. He's just hardly scraping by as a roofer, this is not the life he envisioned as an adult. With a deep breath, he wound up hiccupping and shuttering several offset breaths as he tried to just calm himself down. He looked at the clock again. 'One minute until clock in.' Ivan wiped his remaining tears away, straightened himself up, and became a 'man' again. With that out of his system he smiled and shut his car off, ready to start his day for real this time.
Ivan had gone shirtless by noon. It was still early autumn and Illinois got pretty damn hot around this time of year. He grunted as his staple gun suddenly jammed up in his hand. "Yo, Javier!" Ivan called out to his fellow roofer. A dark-skinned, slightly chubby, Hispanic man. He had thick black hair and a bit of peach fuzz that littered his face. He also had a pretty thick accent, but nothing Ivan wasn't used to at this point in his life. "My gun jammed again, can I borrow your screwdriver."
"Sure thing, Gringo." Javier tossed his screwdriver over to Ivan. He happily grabbed it and tried to pry the stuck staple out. Javier took this moment to leave his spot and come up to Ivan. "You watch the news last night?" Javier questioned out of the blue.
"The news-" Ivan bit his lip slightly and went back to the stubborn staple. "No." He lied with a straight face.
"Oh well, they found this boy. Strangest thing I've seen."
Ivan frowned and he continued to focus on the stable.
"Just buck naked out by the creek, a twelve-year-old-"
'He's older than that.' Ivan thought to himself.
"-No parents, silent as can be. I'm calling something strange. I'm telling you, that stuff ain't normal-"
"Got it!" Ivan got the staple out and handed Javier's screwdriver back to him. "Thanks, mate." He then promptly went back to work.
"Yeah, no problem..."
Ivan felt bad ignoring Javier like that, but the thing is: He did see the news last night, and he knew exactly who that mute 'boy' was.
When Ivan was sixteen, no joke, he found a merman out in the creek behind his home (the same home he lives in today mind you.) For about a week, maybe two (this was thirteen years ago mind you so his memory was fuzzy on the details.) he cared and made sure the merman, that he's named Ben, was well cared for. Eventually, he had to tell Candace, Eric Zoom "Zoomer", and his mother in that order. Ivan only knew a few things about Merman during that time. He met an alpha Merman named Anthony Blank that seemed to be able to walk on two legs like humans, but Ben never showed having that same ability.
Until last night it seems.
Last night Ben resurfaced, and not just that, it seemed he had himself a nice set of legs now.
Ivan was confused and he wanted to find Ben and demand answers, but he couldn't. For a couple of reasons. He has no clue where Ben is held up at, that was one. Two: He had a job and children now. He couldn't stop everything he was doing to find Ben. He just couldn't. So, he decided to just ignore it. 'It wasn't Ben.' He told himself and he continued to stable shingles to the rooftop with that in his mind. 'Ben's gone and he might not even be real.'
It was a mantra to him at this point. He's moved on with his life and he wasn't going to go back to Ben.
And it's for that reason and that reason alone that this story is no longer about Ivan.
From this point on this story will focus on his children as they will soon go on the adventure of a life time.