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10 mos ago
Cheers to 3000 days on the guild. I love you all 3000
11 mos ago
Y'all ever write something and just be shook about what you wrote? Cus damn it turns out I can write sometimes
1 yr ago
I drink water now, like lots of water. The only reason it hasn't made me too powerful is because I always have to pee now and idk if that payoff is fair tbh
2 yrs ago
No one remembers when corn kid said 'not everyone has to love it for it to be the best' and that quote hits deep
5 yrs ago
Never did I think I'd be avoiding my roommates to avoid getting asked why there was a fake wedding in the lounge room but here we are, thanks DnD


Most Recent Posts

A Zach Carter, Delaney Barlowe and Miles Price interaction
By @Hedgehawk, @Sadie and @Soufflegirl123

It had been a good while since Zach had actually been involved with any kind of coven matters. Ever since the coven ceremony a few weeks back, Zach had been avoiding the household. Too much drama going on. He had heard dribbles and drabbles but nothing from the horse's mouth so to say. Zach was eager to try and integrate himself back into Coven life. He had been admittedly quite lonely, settling into his new place and starting his new job as a fast food employee. Zach made sure that he took his job outside of Tanner, lest any of the girls there figure out the kind of job he had to take to pay the bills.

Entering the coven, he looked around the hall and noticed just how empty it was now. He figured that Carlisle had to be around here somewhere, but he had actually messaged Miles and asked him to meet up and hang out for a bit while Zach reintegrated. He was still trying to message Catherine from the dance and speak to her more, but he was getting the impression she was either not interested in him or she was giving him the dip for another reason. Waiting in the hallway impatiently, Zach spent some time observing the new sign that Carlisle had put on the basement entrance, and the extra padlock.

Miles had received Zach's text during his coffee break that morning. Miles hadn't seen Zach since the party if he thought about it, even at the party he'd barely seen him. Part of Miles knew he'd already spent quite a few evenings out recently, John had made that all too clear with his mutterings on Miles not being around to help with the evening chores as if he wasn't up at the crack of dawn to help on the farm. Regardless he knew he couldn't be out late every night, not with Lilith getting more pregnant by the day. Hoping to help with a speedy escape when the time came for him to go he asked Delaney to come with him.

Miles went straight to the coven after work, swinging the door open and walking in as if he belonged there. In truth he did. "Zach, man. How are you doing?” he asks his friend as he claps his back.

Why in the hell was she going back to this damn coven? Miles hadn’t mentioned much to her, just to help her with something. Delaney figured it had to be something with the little shrimp pretending to be in charge. She had ended up pulling in just a few moments after Miles, seeing his car and him walking inside the building.

She soon parked her car and headed into the coven. Delaney immediately noticed Miles with Zach, being all pleasant to the guy. ”No. Hell no.” She looked at Zach and scowled at him. ”Go back to wherever you came from. You’re not wanted here..”

Miles hadn't even managed to greet his other friend before she was scowling at Zach. He gave a sigh, turning to her. Miles had near forgotten the amount of times he'd had to play a middle man for his friends, why did barely any of them get along? ”Not that kinda help, Laney,” he says gently.

Zach smiled as he saw Miles. It felt nice to have some contact and some friendly company. Before Zach could even respond, another voice echoed across the hallway and Zach face fell. ”What!? What are you doing here? I didn't remember ordering a whistling hyena to keep me company” Zach growled back at Delaney.

Delaney scoffed at Miles as she returned her attention to Zach. She scrunched her nose and shook her head. ”Wow, you’re so witty. A whistling hyena? Couldn’t come up with anything better than that? Ouch, sorry for you.” She folded her arms across her chest and looked back at Miles. ”What am I doing here?”

Honestly, Miles didn't really remember that Delaney and Zach were at odds. He was hoping the woman could take over keeping him company when he had to disappear for the night. "Zach wanted to get back into the coven and I thought it'd be good for him to see another friendly face,” he throws the pair of them a stern eyebrow raise. ”I can't be out all hours of the night all the time anymore.”

Zach looked even more confused. Miles invited Delaney here? Why would he do that? Zach thought for a second before then the last part of his statement sunk in. ”Since when could the great party animal Miles not be allowed to be out all night for?” Zach asked arching an eyebrow.

She huffed at the look Miles gave her before looking back at Zach, She didn’t know why she disliked the guy so much. Delaney shook her head and rolled her eyes at the man. ”Since he went and knocked up Lilith.”

”Woah Woah. Hold up. Hold right up” Zach held up his hands in disbelief. ”You are back with Lilith and you shot a baby into her? When were you going to tell your main man? Keeping me in the dark isn't cool man”

Scrunching her nose at that response, she rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. ”Hate to break it to you, Zach. His main man position has been refilled. And don’t talk like that about Lilith. We all know she can wipe you off this place with one shake of her finger.”

Everything had gone at such breakneck speed Miles had no clue who did and didn't know about him and Lilith. Gossip spread so fast in Tanner he knew people Miles barely had anything to do with would know. "C'mon, man. I don't know how you didn't know I got back with Lilith, it's been nearly 3 months.” He sighed, running his hands through his hair. "But- yeah. She's pregnant,” he confirms. As Delaney speaks up he scratches the back of her head. "You're both good friends, ‘kay.”

”three months…” Zach looked shocked, how had he not known about this? He hadn't really had the chance to spend time with Miles since he got back from college, but this was ridiculous. ” Well I suppose a congratulations is on order. I will admit its going to be alot harder to pull now that you aren't my wingman. But hey. More girls for me right?”

"Thanks, man.” Miles replies, clapping him on the shoulder. This wasn't the response he expected from his party animal friend. In fact he was expecting Zach to expect Miles would keep going the way he always had and run from it all.

She just stood back and watched the interaction between the two of them. Delaney rolled her eyes before looking at her finger nails. [color=teal]”Honestly. Whoever came into my bar knew. You don’t get me drunk if you don’t want things to come to the front.” She looked at the two men and shook her head. ”I’m so not covering you as a wingman. I’m a taken woman now.”

”Well, we can still go out every now and again right?” Zach asked, a slight twang of desperation in his voice. Zach tried to confidently swagger it off by rolling his shoulders, but it was still there. ”I came down to the Coven because I figured I could help with something. If I am being honest I have been lonely since coming back to Tanner” He then turned to face Delaney ”Well well… Someone actually decided to take one for the team. Who do I need to give the award to?”

Delaney rolled her eyes at Zach’s comment before smirking. She knew her boyfriend was strong and very, very capable of squeezing this guy into a pulp. Tilting her head to the side, she folded her arms across her chest. Her smirk only broadened. ”Rowan Gale.”

At Zach's asking about going out Miles gives a shrug. "I don't think Li's gonna sentence me to never go out again but between the kids and the ranch I'm not gonna have all the time I used to.” Miles replies. As the pair bickered Miles rolled his eyes, placing his work bag on the ground for better access to his back pocket. He rifles through and finds his tattered leather wallet he'd held onto since he was a teen. "Part of the reason I asked you to come, Laney, is I thought you'd wanna see this,” he announces, pulling thin trifold piece of paper out of his wallet and holding it in the air between his fingers.

Zach almost winced at the sound of Rowans name. ”Poor guy. Send him my apologies” Rowan sighed. Thankfully no one seemed to pick up on little emotional display earlier,. He had feared that Delaney would pick up on it and use it against him. ”So what exactly is that you got their Miles?”

She was so ready to hit that guy. Rolling her eyes, she smirked to herself. While Rowan was a loveable type of person, he also fiercely protected the ones he loved, so Delaney wasn’t worried about anyone in the slightest. Her eyes moved from Zach to the little piece of paper in Miles’ hand. She tilted her head slightly to the left as she focused in on the item. ”Yes, do share with the class, Mi.”

”Well, Li had her first scan in my lunch hour today,” he said gently as he unfurled paper in his hands. "I dunno, thought you guys might wanna see.” Seeing his children and hearing their heartbeats earlier that day only made the situation more real to Miles. It reignited a lot of his fears but it seemed to also create some excitement in the man. "I, uh, gave them names.” He points to the first kid. "This is Tay-” his finger drops down to the next vaguely baby shaped form. "This is Ter-” he moves his finger down once more. "And this is Tot. Lilith hates it.” he looks back at his friends with a goofy grin. Although this was far from the life they had planned he figured he might as well make the best out if it. He supposed it was one of his best features- being able to roll with the punches.

Zach looked over at the scan and a look of bewilderment came over his face. Sure they were cute. And he was happy for Miles. If Miles was happy, so was he. But children? Why would you want them? Even more so at their age. Still Zach didn't want to be the downer of the group and simply smiled and patted Miles on the back. ”Three for the price of one. I suppose if you are going to do it, might as well get your moneys worth”

”You have got to be shittin’ me.” Delaney grabbed the scan from his hands and counted them out. There were definitely three little babies in there. Her wild best friend, her cyclone, her party buddy, was absolutely one-hundred percent a dad. To three. Delaney sucked in a breath and shook his head. [color=teal]”Well. Yep. That’s three.”[//color] She shook her head and glanced at Miles. She knew him and Lilith had just gotten back together, but that didn’t mean that Lil was pure and kept her panties on. ”Are we sure that you’re the father of triplets?” She looked up at him. ”You know. Asking for a friend.”

Miles pursed his lips a moment. He'd be lying if the thought of the kids not being his hadn't crossed his mind especially in those first couple of weeks. "Well we first figured it out cus Salem could feel ‘em and as far as I know there's not heaps of magi floating around Tanner. ‘specially of… my kind,” Miles seemed to be putting the pieces together all over again but it was clear he's talked through it all before. "The scan kinda proved they were conceived around the time of that first party in September and, y'know-” The man gives a sigh, looking over his friend. "I don’t think there's anyone else's they could be. Besides, Lil tried to get me to, I don’t know, leave them I guess? She'd probably just tell me straight up if they weren't mine.”

”Of course she tried to get you to leave. That’s what Lil does. She takes on so many tasks before she’ll just explode.” Delaney scoffed at her best friend and rolled her eyes. ”Just…I dunno. Don’t let the super babies rule the world or whatnot.” She shook her head and ran a hand through her hair. [color=tease]”Rowan wants kids. I’ve always just wanted to be the fun drunk aunt. But now it looks like I have to turn wholesome. Pure. All maternal.” She pat her friend on the shoulder. ”I’m still going to be auntie to those babies. If anyone should decide to hurt them.”

”I didn't mean in a mad sorta way.” Miles clarified, gently taking the pictures back from his friend. "She just kinda went on spiel about how I've got a life to live or whatever as if she doesn't too.” As Delaney mentions Rowan wanting kids a small chuckle escapes the young man. Delaney was a lot of things but maternal didn't seem like one of them. Then again, Miles knew he wasn't quite the paternal type either. He pats Delaney's hand on her shoulder. "Two fish outta water you and I, hey?” he asks. ”I get to be your baby's first visitor though. When you have them. At this rate it seems like I'll be an experienced baby wrangler by then,” he half jokes with a chuckle. It was wild, only 4 or so months ago he and Delaney were going to bars together and getting blackout drunk but here they were now, planning families.

She scrunched her nose when his hand went to her shoulder. Delaney knew she was going to be completely out of her element if she ever had a kid. She never found herself liking one. But the idea of a family with Rowan? Then she could maybe see her future. Her shoulders shrugged at him and let out a breath. ”Growing old sucks. When did we become responsible adults? Well. Responsible ish.”

”I don't know what you're talking about. We can still be young and dumb!” Miles announces, carefully placing the scan pictures back in his wallet. His voice drops as he continues on, "Just as long as Lil's okay with me going out… and there's someone to take care of the kids… and she's had a break… and I've seen them recently… this is just what being responsible when you go out looks like, isn't it?”

Zach stood there and watched as bit by bit Miles and Delaney went down a rabbit hole together. Zach didn't really interject because one: it was a moment between Delaney and Miles, but also because he had nothing left to contribute to this. He hadn't ever had a serious relationship. In fact he was fairly confident he hadn't had a relationship last longer than a week. This kind of behaviour had never interested him. He wanted to be a free spirit with friends. But now college was over and his friends were settling down and becoming stable. Tanner was a small town. People talked, and it wouldn't be long before Zach was going to have burnt through all the lovers in the town, or gained a strong enough reputation that nobody would come near him. It was an odd piece of introspection, ie which caused Zach to phase out of the conversation and the pats on the back, staring into the middle-distance as he figures out what is going on in his life.

Noticing him phasing out, Miles cocked his head before calling out, ”Zach? You okay buddy?”

Zach snapped back to reality hearing Miles words. ”Yeah no dude. Perfectly fine. Happy for you. Really good.” Zach said as he patted Miles on the back as well. He shook his head for a second to shake the thoughts out of his head. ”Gunna be weird going on the pull on my own dude”

Miles couldn't help but feel like something was off with the way Zach replied but gave a shrug. ”Thanks man. I'll need as many people in my corner considering I'm- oh.” On speaking Miles realized he never told Zach about his magical status. While Lilith's pregnancy and Miles and her relationship was news that spread like wildfire to the town gossip train, him being magi not so much. ”Turns out I'm magi… from a great family too.”

As if Zach’s brain couldn't break anymore, there it was. ”You are a Magi…. Like. When did you find that out? Why didn't I know? I have a phone you know. People can just text me” Zach retorted, looking a mix of both confused and hurt by the comments.

Miles pursed his lips as Zach mentioned the phone. He felt a little bad but in truth he was closer to Delaney, especially when it came to deep issues like this. ”’bout month and a half ago,” the man mutters quietly under his breath, averting his eyes from the man's gaze. ”Look, Zach, I'm sorry man,” Miles pleads, looking back up at the man. ”It's been a long month and I'm still trying to figure this whole thing out myself. It's like life's moving a thousand miles an hour in 10 different directions,I didn't mean to leave you aside.”

Zach on instinct folded his arms, not looking that impressed. He had a suspicion that Delaney had known everything from the start. He had always thought that he was closer to Miles than Delaney. But it would perhaps appear the other way around. With a soft sigh, Zach unwound his arms. ”It's whatever dude… It’s cool. I am happy for you”

As the two spoke to each other, she folded her arms across her chest and rocked on her heels. She knew it was a pretty big moment between friends when Miles told her about his babies. He needed someone to talk to, and she was always there for her best friend. Miles was like a brother to her and she felt incredibly honored that he hadn’t told many other people before he told her. She continued to rock back on her heels as she watched the interaction between the two guys. Rolling her eyes, Delaney nudged Zach and shook her head. ”Stop being so doom and gloom. So what if he told me first? You could always just stay stuck in second place. Get a participation trophy.”

Miles sighed at Zach's reply. It was obvious the man was mad and, honestly, it caused a twang of annoyance alongside the twang of guilt. That was when Delaney responded and he doubted her response would help. ”C'mon D.” he gently groans at his female friend. Although it was true that especially since returning from college Miles was closer to Delaney he didn't want that causing a rift in his friendship with Zach. ”Look, Zach, I'm sorry. ‘Kay? I mean we never talked all that deep about life unless we're drunk out of our minds anyway. I doubt it'd be that big of a deal to you.” If Miles was being honest, he wasn't sure if Zach would take all the news well. He was his drinking buddy, so was Delaney but Zach used to always be in for the wilder nights, not so much the quiet moments after. Miles wasn't sure how well announcing he couldn't really do them anymore would go.

”Look, I am not mad. Or angry. I am genuinely happy for you. I know you have been busy dude. Just. Yknow a single text would have been nice” Zach was angry, but he didn't want to stress Miles anymore. So instead he would just keep it surpressed and inside him. He gave off a smile, waving his hand at Delaney's comment to dismiss her, sliding his middle finger to her in the process.

Delaney raised a bored brow at Zach, her head tilting to the side. ”Oh, always so classy, Zach. I’m sorry but, if it were up to me, you’d be gone. Just because you’re…you. You should be thankful that I don’t control Miles’ life. That right now belongs to Lilith and her babies. So, you either drop the attitude towards my bestie, or I’ll make your life miserable. Kay?”

Zach couldn't have a go at Miles, but he could have a go at Delaney. He didn't really feel like getting into a shouting match with Delaney though. His brain was still wandering around the idea of relationships and children. So instead he went for the more primal response. ”You wanna step outside Delaney, give you your own free attitude adjustment”

”Alright, cool it. Both of you.” Miles intercepts, standing in the middle of the pair. In truth the fighting around him was starting to give him a headache. ”I don’t know why you 2 hate each other so much but can we just pretend to play nice?”

She stared down Zach before letting out a breathy chuckle. ”Pretend? Oh, I can do that. Just like I pretended he got me off. Which, I did. Cause Mr Oompa Loopa has a tiny woompsa.” Delaney couldn’t help but to laugh at her own joke. ”Seriously, though? I have class and he’s a mess.”

Zach audibly growled at Delaney's comment. He could feel the anger boiling over. He just huffed and threw his hands in the air. ”You know, fuck this. Don't even know why I came back to this stupid coven” Zach stormed past Delaney, brushing his shoulder into hers as he passed. ”I am out of here. Laters losers”

”Well… that could've gone better.” Miles sighs, watching as Zach storms out of the room.

She rose both brows and watched Zach run off. Delaney couldn’t help the smirk that pulled at her face. ”He’s never been able to rise to the occasion. Poor boy.” Turning to fully face Miles, she folded her arms across her chest. She scrunched her nose. ”Mine and Rowan’s kids are so going to beat your kids in something. He works with his hands, he’ll teach them all the things.” With a nod, she paused herself and groaned. ”Why am I thinking about having babies? Do you know what that will do to my waist?”

Please, my girlfriend's carrying literal superbabies. Good luck one upping that.” he teases in return. As she gives a groan Miles couldn’t help but chuckle. ”You never know, a cute lil baby bump might suit you. You might even be able to pull off stretch marks.” he jokes, giving his friend a goofy grin. In truth he had half a mind on Zach who'd just stormed away but he knew he wouldn't get anything out of the man right now, that was a later Miles issue. He refocuses his attention on Delaney first, she was here right now. ”Just promise me you’ll wait til the 2 of you know each other better. I don't know what Li and I would've done if we didn't really know each other that well.” he muses. Responsibility and seriousness like this was rarely the man's strong suit but it seemed to be growing on him. Was that part of getting older?

She eyed the man before shaking her head.”We live together and everything, we have a normal relationship. She let out a breath and shook her head. ”I’m not going to be you and Lil, you two are all heavy on lust, which led to the babies. I will be married first. So. I’ll have that for me. And I don’t know if it’ll be Rowan, so don’t jinx it.” Delaney ran a hand through her hair. ”It’s weird speaking like this. Like…grown ups or something. When did that happen?”

”Oh come now,” Miles replies with mock hurt. ”I'll have you know that in that month before we found out she was pregnant we only did it 3 times. I think for me that's quite a bit of restraint. Since when were you any better than me when it came to lust anyway?” Delaney's last question made Miles bite his bottom lip. When indeed. ”I don't know,” he mutters, running a hand through his hair also. ”I don't know if I hate it though. I guess we're just growing up, guess we're getting a bit old for the keg stands and the sleeping around.” He huffs out a breath. ”You ever get the feeling your life is over now? I don't know, I guess I always thought I'd be partying hard until I was old but here I am at 24 looking at preschools and saving for college funds.”

Delaney couldn’t help watching the multiple expressions that were being displayed on his face. She laughed a bit before covering her mouth and shaking her head. But the feeling of life being over? ”Absolutely not. With Rowan? It feels as though everything has just begun. My life has just now started and it is absolutely beautiful. She let out a breath and shrugged. ”I also don’t have the knowledge of being pregnant with triplets at our age, either. So. Maybe there’s that.”

Miles forced out a small chuckle. ”I guess.” He muses gently, looking vaguely into the distance. His mind was running a million miles a minute. It didn’t do that before. ”It’s not that I don’t love Lil or not want these kids or anything. I’ve kinda warmed up to the idea of being a dad-” his body seems to cut him off for a moment as a small shutter runs through him. ”That’s weird, I’ve never really said it that way before. I’m going to be a dad.” He seems to get lost in that train of thought for a moment, his eyes glazed over as he got lost in his mind. It wasn’t until a good minute had passed he remembered he was saying something with a point. ”Sorry, what was I saying? Lil. Yeah, it's not that I hate what’s become of this life just- it’s just a lot different to what I thought it’d be, y’know?”

Delaney had been studying him as he spoke, and a wide grin spread across her face. One of her best friends was going to be a dad. Yes, to triplets and yes, with a woman he isn’t married to-”
she stopped at that thought and tilted her head. Would he have Lilith birth these kids out of wedlock? She wasn’t one that cared about sex before marriage. Have to test drive the car before you can buy it, right? But bringing kids into the mix? She wasn’t sure of. I guess it was her way of making sure he didn’t back out from having these children. ”Have you two..talked about marriage at all?”

Miles seemed almost taken aback by Delaney’s comment. If he did see himself getting married he always thought it’d be much farther in the future. Then again, he didn’t think kids would ever be a part of his life. ”Gee, D, you’re starting to sound like my nan and pawpaw’s neighbours in North Carolina. Next you’re gonna tell me we just can’t have children out of wedlock,” he half-jokes in an attempt to lighten the mood. He takes a long breath before actually working on answering her question. ”Nah, not really. I mean what difference does it make? We live in the same house. What difference is a fancy party and a couple of signatures gonna make?”

Delaney scrunched her nose when he mentioned his grandparents. Gods, she didn’t really sound like that, did she? She shook her head and let out a breath. ”I dunno, it’s just…it makes everything more official, you know? Plus weddings are extremely fun. Especially those that have an open bar. Get one of those, you can afford it now.”

Miles gives a chuckle, shaking his head. ”I mean, we’ve only been back together for- what?- 10 weeks? It feels a bit soon to be talking about marriage. I doubt Lil’ll wanna walk down the aisle pregnant anyway.”

She snorted at him before lightly pushing against him. [color=teal]”Dude. You’re literally the dad of three triplets. Right now. You have a baby mama. Think she wants her kids to be born out of wedlock? You think she actually cares?”

”Hey now, baby mama feels a bit harsh. It’s not like we’re just friends or anything,” Miles replies, nudging his friend with his shoulder. ”I don’t think she cares all that much about getting married before the kids are born. Why does this matter so much to you? You and Rowan planning on putting a ring on it already?”

”What? Absolutely not!” She stopped and eyed him, her head tilting to the side a bit. ”Why? What have you heard? You know you can’t keep this information from me. What has Rowan said? What has he done? Do you really think he’ll ask?”

”Chill, Laney, I'm just teasing.” Miles nudges his friend with his arm. He then stops to squint his eyes slightly. ”And if I did know why would I tell you? Isn't this kind thing meant to be a secret?”

She huffed out a huff and rolled her eyes at the man. ”You would tell me cause I’m your bestest friend in the universe. Well, besides, you know, Lilith.” Delaney shrugged her shoulders. ”Part of me thinks Rowan is already there. Hell, I practically moved into his house after that first night. He’s taking everything really quickly and I just want to slow it down some. I’m not ready to be somebody’s mother.”

”All the more reason to hide it from you,” Miles teases after the woman’s first line, ruffling her hair. At her second line Miles gives her a tightlipped smile. He hadn’t really processed how fast his best friend’s relationship had moved. Or at least hadn’t processed that it was an unnatural rate considering he and Lilith moved almost as fast. Yet when he thought about it he realised they were very different situations. Miles and Lilith had dated for years before and grew up extremely close. Not to mention Lilith was pregnant with his children. Rowan and Delaney though? They knew of each other, sure, but not the way he and Lil had. And likely not enough for this to be a normal pace. ”Have you told him?” Miles asks his friend. ”He probably just got a bit excited, I doubt he wants you to have his children tomorrow.”

Delaney sighed. She knew that tone of voice from him pretty well. She always got it when he thought she was making very bad decisions. At his last comment, she laughed before covering her mouth. ”I don’t care if he’s the President. There’s no way in hell I’m spitting out some babies unless there is a ring on my finger. She shrugged her shoulders. [color=teal]”It matters completely what Rowan thinks of the whole situation, but I doubt he’s been thinking of their names. Then again, his wood work gave him plenty of time alone with his thoughts. She groaned. ”I seriously hate you right now for putting that thought into my head.”

Miles chuckles, slinging his work bag over his shoulder. He couldn't stop his mind wandering back to Delaney's earlier questioning. ”Did Lilith say anything to you? Is that why this whole getting married thing is suddenly so important to you?”

”Lilith?” She blinked and looked back at the man. ”Lilith? We don’t talk about things like that.” Delaney shrugged her shoulders. ”If it doesn’t deal with my table getting a drink, then we don’t talk about that. I didn’t even know she was pregnant until you told me. You and me are friends. Lilith and I are coworkers.”

”Alright, Alright,” Miles replies disarmingly, raising his hands. ”Look, if it means so much to you I'll ask her at some point this week. Means I can tell you ‘I told you so’ when she says something like ’let's just take things one day at a time’ with that bewildered stare she has.” he gives a small chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck.

Delaney shook her head at him and ran a hand through her hair. ”It might not be important to her. And it’s just something I believe in. So you don’t have to follow my beliefs at all. Was just a little suggestion.”
Miles nods, readjusting the strap on his bag. ”Well I’ll keep you updated. But if she says she does you have to help me find the ring. There’s no way I’m doing that alone,” he replies. His eyes turn to the windows. LIght was already fading fast as the early nights of the oncoming winters took over. ”Talking of Lil though, I should head back home. More to save myself from John than her to be honest with you. Can I just ask something of you first Laney? Apart from the whole ring thing of course.”

The last thing she wanted to do was to shop for rings. She didn’t want someone in this town blabbering off to her boyfriend that Delaney was ring shopping. But, Miles was her best friend, so she would of course help him. Looking over at the guy, she rose a brow and nodded her head. ”You know you can ask me anything, Mi. What’s up?”

”Can you just keep an eye on her for me, at the bar I mean.” Miles gave a sigh, tapping the leather strap of his work bag with his fingers. ”She's meant to be taking it easy but you know what Li's like.”

”I think we all know what Lilith is like.” Letting out a breath, she looked at him for a moment before caving, her head giving a slid nod. ”I’ll try my hardest, but no promises. And you know Lilith wouldn’t be happy at all about me watching her. She’ll know it’s you.”

Miles gives a shrug, resting on the heels of his feet. ”I know,” he confesses softly. He rhythmically taps the strap of his bag once more. ”But I think there's a lot of things she won't be happy about. What's one more reason on the growing list, y'know?”

She stared at Miles for a moment before shaking her head. ”One more reason? Lilith doesn’t hate me yet. She will most definitely not like or trust me if I keep an eye on her without her knowing. I don’t want to be a reason.” Sighing, Delaney looked around, seemingly in thought. She placed her hands on her hips as she studied her friend’s face. After a moment she rolled her eyes. ”Fine. But if she tries to kick my ass, I’m ratting you out.”

”Alright, alright,” Miles replies, raising his forearms in half-joking defense. ”You do what you gotta to save your ass, mine's getting a whooping regardless.” The man gives a chuckle, looking over his friend's hesitant face. Despite her reluctance Miles was glad there was someone he could trust around Tanner despite his and Lil's mothers. ”We should get our drink on again soon, ‘kay? Before I'm surrounded by crying babies and dirty diapers.”

Delaney couldn’t help a small laugh. She shook her head and leaned in for a hug. ”And maybe by that time I’ll have an announcement of my own.” She quickly moved back from him as she processed how her statement had sounded. The girl shook her head. ”Definitely not a pregnancy, though. I am so not the ideal mother type.” With a grin, she nodded at her best friend. [color=teal]”Definitely lots of drinks are needed before babies end up here.” She smirked at him. ”Love you, bubs. Go home to Lilith.”

Miles gives another chuckle, pulling his friend into a hug. ”And I'm far from the ideal father but here we are.” he teases lightly. Delaney was right, he should make his way home. If not for Lilith than the countless chores he was sure John had waiting for him. ”See you round, D.” he replies with a small two fingered salite before exiting the coven house and making his way back home.
Finally got one out for you Jake

Yeah sure count me in

Idk I need a place to put things where certain people can see so tada ig

A collab between @Hedgehawk and @Soufflegirl123

Mary had only intended to duck into the nearest Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries but that intention seemed to change the moment her eyes settled on the figure of Amanda Aston sitting at one of the tables at the nearby restaurants. Amanda seemed to have been mysteriously absent from the coven house from the moment her son took over and somehow more so when Mary started working there. It was almost peaceful not having the woman glaring down at her for once in her life but after all the revelations of the handover weekend Mary had a lot on her mind in regards to that woman.

Mary walked straight into the restaurant and beelined for the woman, ignoring the gawking expressions and watchful eyes. "Mandy, I think I might join you here,” she greets the woman with an almost sarcastic level of syrupy sweet cheer in her voice as she takes the lone seat across from her. "We have much to catch up on, don’t we?”

Amanda had been finding retirement a bit boring. She had been looking forward to not having to deal with the shit of all the other coven leaders, but in one regard she was certainly missing being able to meddle and mess with people. Sure she had her plans in the background, and they were good plans, but that didn’t exactly fill in eight hours of the day. So as a result she had found herself at her favorite restaurant nearly every day now. It was the only high class place of eating in this dingehole of a town, so it wasn’t like Amanda had much of a choice.

She had just finished her salmon dish when suddenly Mary came swooping in and sitting at her table. Amanda rolled her eyes at her tone and place her fork and knife on her plate before responding. ”Come now Mary, this place isn’t for the pigsty people. Don’t you have that diner place where you common folk pick up your swine food or something?”

"I think you got me misunderstood, Amanda. I wasn’t offerin’, I was tellin’,” Mary replies as she shifts herself to get more comfortable in her seat. "Funnily enough you really ain’t all that intimidatin’. Who else would I go to for sad attempts at berating me, huh? Come now, you can do better than that.” Mary was asking for it, she was very well aware she was asking for it and honestly part of her was almost excited for the insult attempts she knew Amanda would throw at her. Sure, she had business to talk but she wasn’t against letting Amanda get some of her insults out of her system first.

”It isn’t really that fun when you come in here asking for it. Though I suppose when it comes to you and getting knocked up, you were always asking for it” Amanda retorted, grabbing a hold of a red wine bottle form the table and pouring herself another glass. ”So what are you doing here then? What is it that you are tellin’ me?” Amanda made sure to put her mock southern accent on for the “tellin’” part of her response.

"I would remind you that we’re not in the late 90s or early 2000s anymore but livin’ in the past was always your forte, wasn’t it?” Mary quips in response, dragging the water jug toward her and pouring herself a glass of water into the empty glass. "Y’know Amanda, I learnt some interestin’ things at the coven party. You and I already both know I knew you wanted me and my boy dead. I even suspected you havin’ Carlisle was purposeful. Your daughter though?” The woman takes a drawn out sip of water, her eyes not dropping from the other woman’s. "Now that’s a new development.”

Amanda simply stared back at Mary as she spoke back to her. Taking a sip of her wine she placed the glass down and ran her hand across the edge of the table. ”I was sure you would find out eventually. You alway stick your nose into places where it doesn’t belong. Yes I have a daughter. What of it?”

"Come now, Mandy. I hardly had to go lookin'. Can't blame me for the fact you like to throw every aspect of your life in my face now, can you?" Mary drawls before leaning forward in her chair. "Now, I clearly remember in '96 was it? Or was it '97? You lost a child. You wouldn't have lied to me, would you?" Mary asks. She knew the answer, of course she did but she wanted it directly from the woman's mouth.

”Well I am sure Carisle came running to you the second he found out. It is not like he can actually stop her. I will admit that I was shocked when I checked up on her to discover that she actually had magical power, and at that, quite a good set too” Amanda leaned in a little bit and lowered her voice so that the few people eating in the restaurant could not hear her.

"So, tell me if I'm wrong, you had the baby, she was perfectly healthy but you couldn't feel any magical energy comin' off of her so you just gave her away? As if she wasn't yours. As if she was worthless. That's low, even for you."

”In reality I should have done that with Carlisle instead and kept her. But we all make mistakes. But yes. I couldn’t allow the Aston name to be seen as being weak because there was a child with little to no magical ability. Carlisle is a fuck up, but he was at least somewhat salvagable”

Mary scoffed, looking the woman up and down. "You've got no shame, have you? Givin' your daughter away and lyin' 'bout it all. Not to mention treatin' your son the way you do. Do you care 'bout anything but yourself and that name if yours?"

”I don’t exactly expect the peasantry to understand. But being of a higher class, reputation is worth more than character.” Amanda wistfully mused to Mary as she finished her wine. ”Look, I made a mistake, turns out Violet was worth alot more than I originally thought. But now she is here. I get a chance to correct that mistake. And get my own way at the same time”

"Y'live in small town Washington, Mandy. Y'really ain't all that important." Mary quips in response. "If you truly were y'wouldn't be dinin' here alone now, would you," she downs the rest of her water before continuing. "You put me through so much hell over havin' Miles after your miscarriage. Turns out it was all fake," she muses.

”If it helps you sleep better at night, that little deception wasn’t aimed at you. But watching you hurt over it was just that little chef's kiss on the top.” Amanda mentioned before picking up the wine bottle and pouring out a final glass. ”I am the most influential person in all of witchkind. I command the coven of covens, the one that rules everyone else. Well…I used to. But I am still the matriarch of the family itself. Protecting the reputation is my business.”

"Probably good it weren't 'cus I might have become convinced you've become unhealthily obsessed with me," Mary replies to the woman's first statement with a chuckle. For as long as she was in Tanner Amanda seemed to have it out for her for what seemed like no real reason. It her youth it was an annoyance more than anything but nowadays Mary couldn't help but find entertainment in the effort Amanda went through to get on her nerves. What was once meant with snapped back responses from Mary had become chuckles.

"Commanded, Amanda. It ain't your coven no more, that fact you've made abundantly clear with your absence. But y'know what," Mary leans in closer, wiggling her finger to gesture to the woman to come closer. Quietly, her voice barely breaking a whisper, she says "You may be the Aston Matriarch, but I'm the woman who gave birth to the magi great family member 'bout to usher in a generation stronger than you could ever be." Her coming grandkids were hardly a gloating matter in many ways. Mary knew that but she couldn't suppass the chance to throw one of Amanda's common insults right back at her.

Hearing Mary’s words as she leaned in only served to anger Amanda. Miles was a stark reminder of how she failed to have the child that should have been hers. Splitting up their family was the easy bit, but trying to make Mile’s life a living hell was difficult, made more so that her own useless excuse of a son had befriended the moron. ”Assuming that they even survive to have the child” She snapped back still close to Mary.

Mary had almost forgotten that Amanda wasn't up to date on the status of her grandkids, namely that there was more than one. She wasn't going to be the one to spill that. "My boy's survived 24 years despite all your attempts. I doubt somethin' will change now. He's a fighter, that kid. Gets it from his mumma."

”Yes quite” Amanda retorted in regards to the comment about Miles being a fighter. ”My objective has changed though. I don’t need Miles dead. I just need to stop that devilspawn form ever being born. And now I have Violet. Someone who is capable, unlike that pathetic wimp of a son Carlisle. So I am going to get everything I want. That Brat Lilith and Carlisle both gone in a single swoop.”

"It's funny how you do all this talk on how Carlisle's incapable yet you're not even capable to even consider yourself to carry out your tasks." For as well as she could cover it Mary was starting to get mad, this woman was threatening the lives of her god-daughter and her grandchildren. Unlike Claire though, Mary was scarcely blinded by her anger. Besides, Amanda was giving away her whole plan, for that point alone Mary let the devilspawn comment slide. "But thank you for displaying every piece o' that plan for me."

”It is not like you could stop it. Violet is bristling with that Aston power. And who is to say I won't get involved?” Amanda said with a soft smirk, leaning back in her seat. ”It is really interesting at how long I have waited for my legacy to be saved, and now it is finally coming together.”

Mary couldn't help but chuckle. As much as she wanted to lean back in her seat and make clear she also had some cards up her sleeve she didn’t want to take any chances that may lead Amanda figuring out how she'd gotten to Violet already. Instead she shook her head. "Y'forgetting the status m'boy holds. Even if I didn't know that power still lives in him. Hell, Aloysius Leighton has found a home here and I think we both know who he's fightin' for."

Amanda gave out a short laugh ”You kid is an enchantment Magi, yeah he can swoon and make people like him, but that's it. And Aloysius, please. A simple call back to Salem, and I am sure I can make him run away a second time.” Amanda looked down at her nail, rubbing her one finger along them as she contemplated. ”I still don’t see what he saw in you. What was so special about that raggedy ass face of yours.”

"Oh Mandy," Mary tuts, wrapping her hand around her water glass. "You need to brush up on your skill sets. Enchantment can be a powerful thing. I woulda thought you'd know that better than anyone." Mary retorts. "Y'still wrapped up over that? 25 years later?"

”It isn’t that powerful. You know that. And yes, I still am. Life gave me everything I needed right there and then for some insane reason, he decided that you, of all people, were the one to settle down and have a kid with. You!” Amended responded pointing her arms out at Mary.

Mary leaned deeper into her seat, a smirk forming on her face. "Funnily enough some people care for more than a name. I mean, what else have you got goin' for yourself?" she throws back.

A look of disgust and frustration fell upon Amanda. "Shut it you brat. You have no idea if the power and influence I still hold even if I am no longer the coven leader. The only reason I kept you alive all these years was so that you could suffer"

"Amanda, you and I both know y'never really held any power over me. Y'tell me I'm sufferin' but which one of us routinely eats dinner alone because noone can stand to breathe the same air as them, hm?" Mary asks, tapping her fingers on the empty glass before her. "Y'talk so much 'bout me sufferin' but not all my life was quite so bad. Y'might have suffered more than I ever did."

For a the briefest of moments, a small flicker of sadness appeared on Amanda's face as the realisation of what Mary had said sunk in. That face was just as quickly replaced with one of anger. Unable to come back with a taunt, she grabbed her wine glass and simply threw the wine directly into Mary's face.

Had Mary gone too far? She couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she had. That was when Amanda threw the wine at her face. She runs a hand across her face, pushing the excess wine onto the table. From there to attempts to blink the sting out to no avail. She was a little unsure how to act. Did she yell? Did she swing? Or should she stay quiet? She could feel many pairs of eyes watching the pair of them. Not quite sure how to act she pours herself another water before throwing it in the woman's face. "I'd be careful if I were you, Amanda. I'd hate to see you get hurt on account of me," she threatens

Amanda gasped as she felt the water splash on her face. She wiped her eyes clean using the table cloth and glared back at Mary. "Try it. Try and hurt me. Get whoever you want to give it a go and a I promise you Mary Price, they will be given a free early grave"

"Oh please. You've been trying for decades and how far have you come? My boy's still alive and well despite your many attempts to end him all those years ago and you never had the guts to even try to kill me. Try your best, Aston, but I have always been one step ahead if you. Always have been and always will."

Amanda got up, almost flipping the table in the process. She glared at Mary once last time before simply storming off to the toilets in the back of the restaurant, leaving Mary on her own.

A @Hedgehawk & @SouffleGirl123 post
Featuring Mary Price and Aloysius Leighton

Slipping out of her car, Mary hummed to herself as she walked toward the door of her townhouse. Relatively quickly Mary caught a figure standing at her door. Miles? No, his hair was much too long to be his- Aloysius. The woman stopped in place for a moment. Mary wouldn’t admit she was avoiding the man but the fact he hadn’t heard a single peep from her since he gave her his number was indeed by design. She couldn’t help but shutter slightly at the sight of him. She hated that there was still some power he held over her. Sure, it wasn’t love or any of the sort but it was enough to put her off. She’d read the man’s letters, every single one, three times over as she tried to make sense of the whole mess. She hadn’t said a word to him since.

Mary doubted that her piss-covered scrubs were far from fitting attire for that conversation but she barely had a choice. Then again, he was meant to meet Miles this evening. Maybe Miles didn’t show up. ”If Miles stood you up you won’t find him here. He don’t live here no more,” she drawls as she reaches the man at her door.

It hadn’t been long since Al had left Huskers. He was slightly unsure what to do with himself. He did want to speak to Mary, and knowing that Miles was heading to Lilith’s meant that he could at least speak to Mary without anyone around. But that also meant breaking the one rule that Miles had tried to lay out. Still, he needed to speak to Mary and get confirmation himself. So that was what had dragged him here. Hearing the voice behind him, he turned and gave off a soft smile. It may have been twenty five odd years, but he still loved hearing her voice. It had hardly changed.

”Actually Mary I came to speak with you. I have already spoken to Miles.”

Mary looked over the man before giving the deepest of sighs. ”You always were too persistent for your own good,” she grumbles, fishing through her bag for the keys. Part of her wanted to send him off, tell him to just leave her to her own devices in her little bubble. There was nothing she wanted more right now than a shower and to crawl into bed but what good had just avoiding the man done for her so far? Maybe after this the nightmare will be over. ”Fine.” she huffs, pushing past him to unlock the door. ”Don’t mind the smell, I’ll get changed when we get in. I’m not so much surrounded by bacon grease and coffee these days.”

The woman then throws open the front door and ushers Aloysius in. ”Just make yourself comfy, I guess. I’ll be a moment,” she instructs before slinking her way into her room to get changed.

Aloysius had wondered if Mary had stayed in the diner for the entire of her life. It appeared not. She had left it seemed and went into some kind of medical field. Aloysius felt an odd sense of pride that he couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of. Following her inside he would find himself on the sofa while she worked on getting changed. He pulled out his phone and began to scroll through his apps looking for one that allowed him to order food. He eventually settled on a place that would deliver chinese food and simply typed in their old order, not forgetting the apple pie. It might not be the best kind of dessert to get from a chinese takeaway, but he remembered that Mary was a sucker for it. With it all paid for, he sat back and looked around the room, It had hardly changed, save for the photos of Mary and Miles on the wall. Looking at them would only make his chest sting in regret.

Mary took the liberty of taking a quick shower as Aloysius waited, if he wasn’t going to talk to her on her terms he was going to wait for a shower she figured. It was only a couple of minutes before she reemerged into the kitchen. She opens the fridge, looking at what she had that she could cook quickly. ”I think I’ve got some chicken here somewhere, I can whip up a quick pasta or something?” she offers the man before turning her head to look at him. His eyes were trained on the pictures on the wall. A mix of mainly Miles or her and Miles throughout the years with a few containing or of Lilith and Claire in there for good measure too. She rests her chin on her hands on the door of the fridge. ”They grow up real fast,” she says softly, her eyes taking in the pictures also. ”I swear I blinked and now my baby’s fixin’ to have his own.”

”Don’t worry about food. I have ordered some food, figured that it would save you scrambling around after work.” Aloysius replied, not taking his eyes off a photo of Mary, Miles, Lilith and Claire. Each of the photos only served to remind him how invisible he was. Years of memories that he couldn’t see or be a part of. ”Tell me about it. I blinked and all the sudden my entire sentence was coming to an end. Everything has changed so much. Everything is so much more complicated than it once was.”

Mary’s face softened slightly at the man mentioning he had food as she gave a gentle ”Thanks.” She pulls a bottle of white wine out of the fridge, pouring herself a glass. She holds it up so Al had a better view before asking ”Want one?”

”Sure, no harm in having a glass or two” Aloysius remarked as he sank deeper in the sofa. His eyes drifted away from the photos and back towards Mary. While he knew that she didn’t love him back anymore, being near her still gave Al a really warm heart feeling alongside comfort.

After pouring Al a glass and putting the bottle back in the fridge, Mary makes her way to the couch. She hands Al a glass before situating herself in the farthest spot from him on the short couch. She leans up against the side of it so she was facing him. Her eyes drift to the photo he was looking at earlier of Mary and Claire with their arms around their young children standing in front of them. ”That’s one of my favourites,” she says, nodding to the picture. ”I reckon Miles was about 7 here. We used to take the kids on camping trips in the Summer to catch up. They always were the sweetest friends.” It was clear Mary was avoiding the reason Aloysius had once again found himself at her door. She wasn’t so sure herself if she was ignoring it or waiting for the man to initiate.

Aloysius had picked up on the fact that Mary had sat as far away as possible from him. He should have really expected it. Looking around at the picture once more he smiled. ”So Miles and Lilith have been close for a long time then?” Aloysius asked, taking a sip from his wine glass before looking back at Mary. He was enjoying this quiet discussion time. It was almost more relaxing than the half hostile attitude that Miles had given him at the bar.

”I mean, Claire and I grew up together so it was kinda inevitable,” the woman replies, taking a sip of her wine. She couldn’t help but wonder when Al would get onto why he was here but she’d never turn down an opportunity to talk about her son. ”Claire found out she was pregnant a month or 2 after Miles was born. I used to joke that she made my son a wife, didn’t know it’d actually happen. Or it’d cause this many issues.”

”Well, it wouldn’t have caused any issues if it wasn’t for me” Aloysius sighed. While having Miles was always something he had wanted, he had wanted to be here for the experience. After the Magi war, Aloysius no longer cared about the politics of the Guild or any kind of powerplay. He had wanted to retire and set up a small family and enjoy peace and quiet. ”There are days I wish I had finished my research in Chronomancy. Not to win the Magi war, but to make the right choice and stand my ground. Stay here and actually be a father. I am sure Salem would have tried to kill me. But I should have been stronger.”

Mary gave a sigh, her eyes recentring on the man. ”It’s all in the past now, Al. Honestly, I don’t think it’s really fair to redo it all. We make mistakes for a reason. Sure, things were hard on Miles and I but neither of us hated our lives.” she muses before taking a sip of her drink.

”Nah, well Miles asked me to meet him at Huskers and it was an interesting experience.” Aloysius said as he took a sip of his wine ”We had some interesting conversations” He said with a soft sigh.

”Honestly I’m a lil surprised you came out of there without at least a black eye so it mustn’t have gone too badly,” Mary replies, taking a sip from her glass. She did dare ask what was said, it wasn’t her business. She did fully expect one of them to tell her anyway.

”Well, it nearly turned out that way. There was a moment where Miles was getting very close to squaring up. But we had a few moments of understanding.” Aloysius remarked as he took another drink. ”Though he did pretty much tell me to leave you alone as I don’t deserve to be here pretty much.”

”And the first thing you do is ignore his request?” Mary asked curiously. If it were anyone else in any other situation she would have been quick to make clear these were things Miles had no right to have control over but this was a unique situation. She was also interested in what the man had to say for himself in that regard.

”Well, I wanted to actually ask you if that was what you wanted. I know Miles has feelings, but ultimately I want to respect your feelings” Aloysius remarked as the door knocked. He got up and let Mary stay relaxed as he went to the door and a moment later he came back with the chinese and laid it out on the coffee table. ”Well, I haven’t had this smell in a long time”

Mary exhales a breath she didn't realise she was holding in anticipation for Aloysius' response. ”I guess Miles always saw himself as the 'man of the house'. Poor kid always felt he had to protect me." Mary chuckles, playing with her wine glass. ”There's a lot o' drawings from when he was a kid of him protectin' me from things. Dragons, green and brown blobs I think were meant to be swamp monsters- and you." Soon the sound of someone rapping their fist against the door echoed through the house caused Aloysius to get up. Mary couldn’t help the wave of nostalgia that came over her as the man opened the containers of food. Mary quickly collects a couple of bowls and sets of chopsticks, handing one to Al. ”So I guess you have some questions to ask me?"

”I do, but first, are there any questions you want to ask me. With everything going on and all the drama, we never really had a chance to sit down between us and just talk” Aloysius remarked as he opened his takeout pot and picked up the chopsticks. He began to pick at the food before looking back at Mary.

Mary found a sudden interest in her food. Over the years she'd built a whole library of questions she'd ask the man but so many of them were either null and void or at least complicated by those letters. ”25 years," she muses. ”Every one of those letters ended with an 'I love you' until a few months ago. I don't know. Why didn’t you just give up?"

Aloysius knew that Mary had a right to know. Even if the answer hurt him, she deserved to know the truth. ”Because I never really lost hope. It was tested numerous times. But I was forced out of here while I was still in love with you. I wasn't going to let my situation change how I felt about you” Aloysius replied, picking at his own food. He knew that Mary might not like the answer, but he was at least being honest and truthful about it.

”Maybe you shoulda," the woman mumbles, picking at her meal with her chopsticks. Part of her almost felt guilty for losing her hope and desire for the man. Almost. She checked his every word with her divination to make sure he wasn't lying, she hated that she had to do that with him but she'd honestly lost all trust in him after all his stunts. All of it was true from what it told her. ”I guess, shoot with your questions." she then muses.

”Okay, suppose I should start with the big one. Get it out of the way.” Aloysius said with a deep breath, taking a small bite of his noodles before gaining the courage to ask the question. ”I know what Miles said, but I want to ask you. Do you want me here Mary? If you don’t, I will leave. I came here because I wanted to set things right. I knew the chances of carrying on were basically 0%”

”I dunno," she mumbles, still keeping her eyes trained on her food as she picked at it. ”I guess it's more I don't want you showin' up at my door unannounced 3 times a week," Mary sighs, pushing her food around her bowl. ”It's hard for me to see you, y'know? I mean for 25 years you were the deadbeat who left me to be strugglin' single parent without so much as a note that you were leavin'. This was after gettin' so excited about findin' out I was pregnant and at every milestone and all that. I've read the letters, I know the whole situation wasn't desirable for you either but it's hard t' undo what I truly believed for 25 years. Y'know? I don't know if it can ever fully be set right."

Aloysius let out a sigh. ”I get that. I had to watch 25 years of my life rush by and be left all on my own. I missed out on so much. But hey, thats my punishment right” Looking down Aloysius shook his head ”I know this can’t be entirely fixed. If at all, but I want to try. My last attempt if you like”

”Last attempt to what, Al?" the woman asks, looking at him for the first time since this can of worms was open. He looked sadder and more dishevelled than the day she first met him. ”To win me back? To call us home? To call my child yours? To change the way I've spent 25 years feelin'? What are you really doing here? And by here I mean here in my house."

”My last attempt to actually be a good person and do the right thing. I ain’t exactly getting any younger. I survived taking a direct lightning bolt of the entire New York state powergrid. I hate to think what that is going to do to my life expectancy.” Aloysius picked at his food, picking up some chicken and shoving it into his mouth. ”I legitimately came over to speak to you and see if you still wanted me around, and to just have a conversation. Every time we have tried to talk before, emotions have been high and others have been around. Plus, after seeing those letters you wrote. It kinda set in just how much damage I did.”

Mary gave a shaky breath. This was too much. She wouldn't tell the man that. Heck, she wouldn't tell herself that, but it was. She thought through her words for a while. ”Claire 'n all that saw me in my worst states. Honestly Miles saw me struggle more than any boy should watch his mamma do so despite how hard I tried to hide it from him. They're just protective," she replies, slightly blowing off his questions. She picked at her food some more before taking a bite. Despite it all she wasn't going to apologise on behalf of Claire or her son. Deep down she got some twisted satisfaction from Al getting his upcomence from them, even if she wouldn’t admit that.

”You can ask more questions” Aloysius remarked. He was honestly shocked that Mary hadn’t gone off on him. While he knew that Mary was the more composed one of the family, he was shocked that she hadn’t just decided to either bombard him with questions or berate him. ”I know it is hard, and difficult. I know I did this. I just want a chance to try and help you”

Mary gave a sigh, her eyes failing to meet the man once more. ”I'm tired, Al. I'm tired of fightin', tired of hurtin', tired of expectin' the world to let me know every single thing I want to know. I'm pushin' 50, I don't have the tenacity I used to when I was 24," the woman muses, taking another bite of her meal. ”My questions will come. I'm sure."

"Well, when you have those questions, I will answer them" Aloysius replied. "I know that feeling about being tired." Aloysius carried on eating his food "What's the coven like nowadays?"

”I guess there's a bit changing with Carlisle taking over. Just tryna stop him from being his ma, or his anti-ma in the worst ways I guess. Turns out that miscarriage Amanda gave me grief for was a lie. And yes, she did try to send me out on dangerous field missions when I was more pregnant than you left me." Mary sighs once more, taking a sip from her wine glass. ”But I think things are changin' for the better now Amanda's gone. I really hope they are. Would say it ain't my problem no more but i work for them now so it very much is."

" So after that bitch basically ruined my life by calling Salem she continued to be a bitch. Makes sense. Is it really a good idea to have another Aston around considering Amanda's track history?" Aloysius pointed out, picking gt his noodles as he tried to get a good angle on the food. Chopsticks weren't exactly his forte.

”Can't say I'd expect any less from her. She's always had something against me." Mary replies, taking another bite of her food. She does see the man struggle with his chopsticks but figured if he wanted a fork so bad he'd at least ask. ”Carlisle not much like his mother. Kids got some real issues that need to be fixed, don't get me wrong, but at least he got some of a heart." she points out with a sigh. She turned her gaze back to the man. ”What happens with magi great families now you've done a runner. Does your sister take over?" she asks. Mary honestly knew very little about magi authority structures, or about magis at all if she was being honest.

”What great families? With the Louis line destroyed in the early 90’s and the Freja line losing most of their power only the DeSilvas and Leightons are left. Lola has no interest in being involved in Magi life, and Miles is here with the coven now. So there is no one left but Salem and her offspring.” Aloysius commented. It was a sad fact, but the war had pretty much cemented the DeSilvas as the lone rulers of the Magi now.

”Poor thing,” Mary clucks as Al mentions his sister not involving herself in her magic. ”Must’ve been traumatised by that war. Does she have kids that’ll take the Leighton’s place?”

”She does, but she is trying to bring them up with the most normal upbringing possible away from magic. Let’s just say, our mother could be on par with Amanda, and Lola bore the brunt of most of my mothers anger. Never being good enough, despite the fact that Lola was without a doubt the best hydromage I had ever witnessed. I am not sure if my mother was trying to push Lola harder so she worked on her magic harder, but it didn’t work. Once my mother had finished manipulating me, I mistreated Lola. it is one of my biggest regrets.” Aloysius lets out a small tut as he then eats some noodles. He had always wondered if Lola would get her kids inducted into the Guild.

Mary gave a sigh, silently eating her food for a moment. It seemed her and Miles weren’t the only people he’d hurt. Evil mother or no it was still him behind it all, Mary wasn’t going to deny that. Her heart went out to his sister. In that moment the realization hit that Miles had cousins. Mary herself was an only child and didn’t have a large extended family, in a way the Montgomerys took that spot. She didn’t say or do anything to indicate that realisation, she wanted to know where Miles was at first before looking into connecting him with his family.

The pair ate in silence for a while as Mary processed everything the man had said. She’d be lying if she said she didn’t find the silence to be a nice break from everything. When she was ready she finally spoke up. ”Have you got any more questions for me?”

Aloysius sat and eat in the silence, finding it awkward. Aloysius had always hated silence, but he was trying to learn to be a better person and let things hang in silence if the other person wanted it. Hearing her response, Aloysius put his cup down, pushing the container with the apple pie towards Mary. ”Well, Bit of a side track, How long has Ty been in Tanner for?”

As Al pushed the container closer to her a small content smile grew on the woman’s lips. She’d always loved apple pie, that had never changed. Apple pie from a Chinese restaurant probably wasn’t the best of them but she appreciated what Al was trying to do. Just as she was about to get up to get a couple of spoons and icecream Al’s next question came.

Mary had honestly expected more questions about Miles’ upbringing, about how their lives looked after he left and how her life changed. Maybe expected wasn’t the right word. Wanted. She wanted those questions, even though they may hurt it was in a way proof he really did care enough to have pondered these things. The last thing she expected was for him to ask about Ty. ”I think Miles was 14 when they moved to Tanner so 10 years ago? His wife’s bloodline is part of the council. Do you know him from the war?” Mary knew Ty was magi, that he didn’t keep a secret but that seemed to be all he was open about. Mary knew he was in the war but not what side he was on or what extent he was in it.

Hearing about How Ty was linked to the coven council families and how he seemed to find happiness made Al smile somewhat. Despite not having any kind of contact after the war, Al did still care about Ty as a friend, even though he was fairly confident that Ty couldn’t give two shits if Al lived or died. ”He was pretty much one of my, if not most senior person. I relied alot on Ty for advice and he could really hold his own for someone who was not a great family member.”
Mary raised an eyebrow at Aloysius’ answer. So it turns out Ty wasn’t only just in the Dark Shadows but also a high-standing member. ”I mean he’s still in Tanner if you wanna catch up.” She gets up to grab a couple of spoons and some icecream from the freezer.

”Nah, I think he would punch me if we saw each other again haha. I think I will remind him of a past that he would rather forget.” As Mary came back, he would change the subject ”Has Miles always been Mr.Man of the house? Or was there a time where he was a little bit more meeker and less likely to punch someone?”

”Seems to be a recurring theme in your life.” Mary points out as Al mentions Ty likely wanting to attack him for a similar reason that washed over Miles and her. She Places the icecream container in the middle of the coffee table before resting a spoon in front of Al and taking a bite of the pastry. Sure, it was far from the quality of the diner or what she or her mother would bake but it still held the sweet sense of nostalgia attached to the dish that she loved about it.

At Aloysius’ question she gave a light chuckle. ”His bark is worse than his bite most of the time. He talks a big game an’ I’m sure he can fight well but he prefers to talk things out from what I know. He was always a bold and- rambunctious kid if that’s what you’re askin'."

”Well, Miles is a strong willed person that is for sure. It will serve him well. He is going to need it” Aloysius spoke as he looked at the ice cream and the apple pie. ”And how about you? Why the change of pace from diner to medical?”

At his first statement Mary gives a small chuckle. ”He gets it from his mumma,” she muses, taking the final sip from her wine glass. As he looks at the food before him she gives a small nod, indicating he was welcome to eat also before taking another bite herself. At his question the woman sighs. She loved her job at the diner more than anything. Sure, it wasn’t the most impressive sounding job but she never minded that.

”The diner was a good job when it was just me but the pay was inconsistent, not to mention the hours were all over the place. As soon as holidays hit my hours would be cut to give the teenagers work. That was fine when it was just me, it a bit easier to be flexible when you’re supportin’ yourself but not so much when you got a kid t’ worry about too. When I had my- episode shall we call it I guess it gave me an interest in the field. I did a CNA course then started at the hospital. The hourly pay’s only a bit better honestly but it makes a difference quickly and there were always shifts, the hours were predictable and I was still able to get some maternity leave.” She pauses for a moment to take another spoonful of apple pie and icecream. ”I guess it was just more convenient. I think part of me intended on doing a nursing degree but I never really had the time and honestly I couldn’t be bothered anymore.”

Aloysius scooped some ice cream onto his apple pie while listening to Mary talk. It was understandable that Mary would have wanted a more stable job. ”That makes sense. I am still angry that Amanda took the money from those envelopes. I was sending a thousand every month. That witch probably has had close to half a million out of me” Aloysius sighed, he took a bite of pie and ice cream. ”So you are now working for the coven? What job is that?”

”Even if she hadn’t I woulda still wanted something more stable by the time Miles was born anyway.” Mary states. In all fairness she’d been angry at Amanda for that reason too, only adding to the snowballing list of reasons she was mad at her for meddling in her son’s life. At Al’s second question the woman nods. ”Carlisle’s given me the job of Seneschal, essentially I just keep the house running. Between both those jobs I keep myself busy.”

"Why would you do both at the same time? This is supposed to be the bit where slow down as your children have kids and enjoy life" Aloysius asked as he finished off his apple pie.

”Oh I still have time," the woman argues before licking the remnants of icecream off of her spoon. ”Besides, when have you known me to slow down?"

"Yes, but it had to happen eventually. You need to slow down" Aloysius interjected, taking one last scoop of ice-cream. "I am guessing I can't convince you to slow it down?" Aloysius asked placing his spoon down.

Mary laughs lightly, placing her own spoon on the table. ”I think you know the answer to that." For a moment the rage and anger somehow melted away as she almost seemed to forget who she was with. It didn't take long for it to return though, her chuckling ceases as her face drops slightly. ”Al, I'm fine. I know my limits." she says bluntly.

With a sigh she looks back up at the man, meeting his eyes. ”Does Miles have any other relatives I should know about? Other aunt or uncles? Cousins? Siblings?"

For a brief moment, Aloysius could have sworn that Mary was at ease. That for a few brief moments the old relationship was back to where it was before he left. It felt Al could drop his guard and finally lower his shoulders. Only for seconds later for the tone to change back once more. If anything it seemed to hurt Al more that Mary had slipped back into her more relaxed form. To him it almost signaled that she could be relaxed around him, but chose to be this way.

"No. Great families tend to keep narrow bloodlines. Mother and father are out of the picture. Lola had her kids and I don't really see them often." Aloysius had always wished he had an extended family. He had heard about large thanksgiving dinners, but he never really experienced them as the family on his side was so small. " Lola is the last relative I have left. Well, Miles too, but I don't think I am allowed to count him" Aloysius says with a sigh.

”Mm," Mary muses simply, ”Likely not." she remained in silence for a while once again. Her eyes became glued to the coffee table in front of her. It almost hurt that the man hadn't moved on and had kids with someone else, that he was stuck in limbo forever when Mary was far from done with him. It hurt even more that she was able to drop her guard around him so fast, almost as if there was hope that they could be amicable. ”I need more wine." she says simply, collecting their glasses, spoons and the icecream and starting her way back to the kitchen

Aloysius let out a soft sigh. This was fruitless. He knew that they were never getting back together. Even if he wanted it. But he had at least hoped that there could be some hope of at least being amicable and Aloysius spending the rest of his life here in Tanner. But Mary was closed off. She seemed to be doing a really good job of putting herself behind a wall. "Do you remember the early days of me and you? The diner and the fact I used to order three meals a day there just to talk to you?"

With the icecream back in the freezer and 2 fresh glasses of wine poured, Mary returned back to the living room as Al talked. What was he playing at? ”Some of it," she replies simply, setting a glass before him before returning herself to the farthest point on the couch again. ”It's all kinda in fleetin' moments now. Guess that's what happens when you try to suppress a lot of it. Why do ya ask? Do you remember it?"

" Of course I remember it. It was what helped keep me going through all the past 25 years. I met you in a really vulnerable part of my life. The war had just finished earlier that year. I was trying to discover who I really was after having the enchantment off my mother swiped off me. I always maintained that meeting you was the best thing that happened to me" Aloysius remarked picking up the glass and sipping from it. "After the war, most of my friends showed their true colours. They no longer wanted to be associated with me. To most I had become a liability. A joke sometimes too"

”I didn't really do anything 'cept serve you like I do all my other customers. Really ain't that special," Mary remarks, taking a large sip of her glass, seeming to down the third of it in one go.

Aloysius looked down. It was no good. " Yeah, I get that. You just were the first who treated me like a normal human, and I will always be grateful for that. Even if you were just treating me like another customer"

”Al," Mary starts softly before a sigh escapes her lips. Part of her felt bad for him, she did, but the years of bitterness and hatred seemed to wash away what she loved about him. She knew she did once but she could hardly remember why anymore. ”I'm startin' to think maybe you didn't love me, you just liked being treated like a normal person," she states before taking another sip of her drink.

"Nah. That might had been the the case at the start. But it became love after the first few months." Aloysius took a deep drink of his glass before carrying on "You are such a kind and beautiful woman. The one thing I will admit. We do make a good looking child"

Mary couldn’t help the small blush that crept onto her cheeks as the man complimented her. She thought she was over that but she was never good at taking sincere compliments. She then clears her throat, ”He always was a handsome lil man. Got 'im into a lotta trouble in his teen years though," she says with a chuckle, her eyes returning to the pictures that covered her walls.

"So how many hearts did he break during his teens?" Aloysius asked with a soft chuckle. In his late teens he had been known for sleeping around after losing Salem. He had hoped that his children would be different, but perhaps it might not be.

”I tried to not get too involved in that part of his life honestly. But I know it was a lot. The surge of enchantment magic probably didn't help either." she responds, taking another sip of her drink. She gave a sigh leaning deeper into the couch. ”Can't say he got that from me," she comments accusingly. ”The heartbreaker stuff, the enchantment was probably me."

Aloysius didn't really say anything in response to the accusation. He knew better than to feed Mary more excuses to hate him. " The important thing now is that things have settled down and he seems to have his head screwed on. Far better than I did at that age."

”I mean at his age you left me here alone to raise him so I'd say he's definitely doin' alright by those standards." Mary knew it was a low blow but she couldn’t help herself. Part of her had waited too long to voice her saltiness about the whole situation, it seemed even her grace had limitations.

Aloysius lowered his head. Clearly it was becoming too much. "Alright I get it. I know I was a let down for you and Miles. I know I left you when you needed me most. I get that. There is no need to rub it in anymore" Aloysius pulled some of his hair down so that it would conveniently hide some the tears forming in the corners of his eye, even if his slightly breaking voice betrayed him. "I came here in good faith. I wanted to show that I wasn't a deadbeat and give you the truth behind everything that had happened. I just didn't expect to have to everyone dig in so much"

Noticing the tears forming on the man's face, Mary couldn’t help but feel bad for the man. For as much as his absence hurt her, the letters and his return did explain so much. She pulls a tissue from the box sitting on her table and holds it out to the man. ”I'm sorry, Al. The past 25 years have just been a lot. You can't blame us for still feelin' that pain because we have explanations."

"I am not blaming you at all. Just, you don't have to use the pain to inflict it back on me." Aloysius begrudgingly accepted the tissue and wipes away the forming tears "For the first time in my life, I had positive relationships. I had someone I cared for and cared for me back. I was going to have to have a child. And Salem and Amanda ripped that from me. They made me sacrifice everything to protect the thing that bought me so much joy. I get you are hurt. But I have it too. Just a different kind of hurt"

Mary couldn't help but freeze for a moment, trapped between wanting to yell and scream at the man that things were harder for her than they could have been if she had a warning about who he was and wanted to apologise profusely for what he went through as if it were her fault alone she got pregnant at a 'bad time' for the man. She turns her head further from the man. Her whole life was upended when she found out she was pregnant with Miles and once again when Aloysius disappeared into the night not to return. Sure, she might have owed him an apology for the little hurts now but not then. ”What do you want from me, Al? Really want from me?" she asks, her voice barely a whisper.

" I don't know Mary. I just don't know. I don't even know why my brain bought me back here. This is all I had. I know you can't take me back. I know we can't have things like we had before. I don't know. Maybe I hoped beyond hope that there would be a place for me in Tanner. Evidently not." Aloysius let's out a frustrated but also sad breath, leaning back into the sofa. " We both got shafted with some fucking terrible bad luck. And I realise that all of your hurt is because I came into your life. I am not blind to that fact"

Mary stayed silent for a while, unsure exactly how to feel. She wanted to tell him he was wrong. He wasn't. Or that he had a place in Tanner but she was starting to doubt that too. Her next words fell from her mouth too fast for her to catch them, she knew they were fuelled by the divination in some way. ”I think, deep down, part of you thought or at least deeply hoped I would be out here just waitin' for you to come back to me," her voice was still low as she hated putting voice to her deepest suspicions but she forced her eyes to level at the man.

" A small part of me deep down yeah. Of course I wanted that. Who wouldn't want the love of your life back who you were nastily snatched away from. A part of me wanted to come back and treat you properly, make sure you were okay and protected. Actually be a good partner rather than a sucky one. He knew that Mary could divine right into his soul if she really wanted to. There was nothing she couldn't work out. So what was the point in lying.

A shaky breath escapes the woman’s lips. ”That makes a lot of assumptions, Al. I didn’t move on, I was getting the letters and not responding for some other reason than avoidin’ you, I stayed single. I mean, what would have you done if you came back to find I’d started a new family with someone else, hm?”

"I never understood why you never replied. But now I know, cause if Amanda. I had considered that you might have moved on and found someone. I hadn't really thought much about it. I mostly wanted to see that you and our child was okay. 25 years of hearing nothing can cause you to panic" Aloyisus was unsure what to really say to try and make any of this better. He wanted to say how much he still cared for her and her wellbeing, but he knew that would get shot down right away.

The silence seemed to consume the woman once more as Aloysius somewhat blew off her question. It was clear Al hadn’t moved on at all. ”Did you ever at least consider just givin’ up and findin’ someone else?” For now she was fuelling her curiosity more than anything.

"I didn't exactly have my freedom. Salem only let me out when she wanted me to go on suicide missions that probably should have killed me. Outside of that I was kept under lock and key. Salem might give off the aura of elegance here. But I can assure you, she is a very different person when enraged. She said what she said at the dinner because she knew it would cause the most embarrassment for me. For her. I am never allowed to happy." Aloysius sighed and ran his hands through his hair. " One thing I did when I was young and I can't escape it. The consequences of which has consumed my life. I just want to leave it all. I want my happy slice of life, in peace"

Mary just nodded her head as he spoke. ”I honestly don't know what to make of this, Al." The woman sighs, bottoming out her drink. ”Do you have anything else for me before I turn in for the night?"

Aloysius let out a sad breath. "No. That's it." Aloysius would out his glass down and take one more look around the living room. There was so much history here that he had no knowledge of. It was a strange disconnect. So familiar but at the same time completely alien. It felt like he both belonged and didn't.

Mary stood in place, collecting both of their glasses and containers. ”Well thank you for dinner, Al, but if you got nothin' else to ask me I'm 'bout to turn in for the night so it's 'bout time you went home."

" Heh, yeah. Home" Aloysius remarked as he got up from the sofa. "Despite the tense atmosphere, it was nice to just talk to you one on one" He said as he walked to the edge of the hallway.

Nice. Mary wasn't sure if nice was the word she'd use but at least she had answers. ”Al, I'm not the same person I was when you left me 'ere. You gotta understand that," she says quietly before sighing once more. ”Nevermind. Just- good night Al."

"I know you are not. But you are still a good person." Aloysius commented as he out his long black coat on. "Don't worry. I won't turn up here again. I will figure something out and be out of the towns hair soon enough" Aloysius walked to the door, opening it and looking back inside. "Look after yourself Mary. And I am sorry I never lived upto what you needed or deserved"
Miles Price & Lilith Montgomery

A @HaleyTheRandom & @SouffleGirl123 post
Featuring Miles Price, Lilith Montgomery, Claire Montgomery and John Montgomery

It wasn’t until, for the second time in his life, Miles packed all his belongings away into boxes that Miles had realised how little physical objects he actually owned. Although his ma would offer him all the furniture in his room and more he really didn’t need any of it in the Ranch Considering Mary wasn’t seeming to go anywhere he decided his mementos were better off remaining in the storage closet of her house. With his whole life packed into a total of 2 boxes and a suitcase, he officially left the Price household.

Miles didn’t quite know what to make of the move. The Ranch was essentially his second home growing up and he was only moving a good 10 or so minutes from his mother. It didn’t really feel like a move, not quite. But it wasn’t exactly nothing at the same time. Just under a week had passed since John agreed to have the man move in. He’s decided to wait for Saturday to move but with so small a change he wasn’t so sure why. He’d tell people it was because of work but moving not even a carload of boxes didn’t seem to change much. Maybe he was expecting John to pump him with rules or lectures and didn’t want to deal with that after a long day at the office. When he initially planned on moving in he expected it to be a good couple of months before John would even consider the option so Lil and Claire requesting he move in fast and leaving him with a week to get sorted was the last thing he expected. Dragging his suitcase to the front door of the Ranch he rapped at the door.

Lilith had spent the last week arguing back and forth with her grandfather and mother about things she was allowed to do and not to do while pregnant. The one thing no one could do was keep her off the back of her horse. For the last few days, Lilith had taken off early in the morning on horseback, and returned during the evening. She had managed to get some chores done here and there behind her family’s back, but spending time alone at the river had proved a much easier feat.

Walking back from the barn, Lilith prepared herself to be bombarded by her mothers questions once again. When was Miles going to move it? Had she taken her vitamins? What baby names were they considering? Had the morning sickness started? Why was she reaching for another cup of coffee? Claire never seemed to stop. Caught up in her own thoughts, the young woman nearly missed the sight of Miles’ car in the driveway. Picking up her pace, Lil hurried to the house. Spotting a some-what nervous looking Miles, she smiled. She walked right up beside him, opening the front door and allowing it to swing wide open.

”Ready for this,” she asked him, her nerves already starting to get the best of her.

Hyperfocused on the door before him, Miles didn't notice Lilith until she appeared right next to him. ”Lilith," he greets her, trying to choke back his nerves. For almost as long as he could remember the Ranch was a second home for him. He'd spent almost as many of his days in his formative years within its walls as his own but there was something about this official shift that was different. Almost off-putting. ”I don’t think I'll ever be ready." he admits, grabbing her hand with his free one. ”But I reckon if I make it to the end of next week without 2 bullet holes in my skull we can call it a win. How are you holding up? They ain't giving you too much grief, are they?"

Giving his hand a reassuring squeeze as she stood on her tiptoes to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, Lilith moved around Miles so that she could enter the house. Turning around, the young woman grabbed the second box off the top of the small stack in an effort to help. ”Greif?” she laughed. ”I think they’re tryin’ to send me to an early grave, honestly. Don’t do this, don’t do that - I feel like I’m five again, but somehow they’re treating me like I’m more breakable now that I was then.”

”Maybe you are," Miles’ muses. ”Or more accurately, maybe they are." he clarifies, nodding at her stomach. ”You were a pretty tough 5 year old." He watches her grab the top box in his stack. Should pregnant women be lifting boxes? What about women pregnant with triplets? Miles didn't know, he was going into this completely blind. Not that Lil was any better. ”Lemme take that, it's kinda heavy. You can take my suitcase?" he offers, holding the handle in her direction.

Watching Miles’s reaction only reminded Lilith of the similar ones she had been getting from the ranch hands since John had broken the news. It was frustrating, but Lil knew she couldn’t get upset with Miles for the way that other people had been treating her. With a soft sigh the young woman traded out the box for the suitcase. ”I know that this is weird, and totally not how either of us pictured finally moving in together, but I’m really hoping it’ll be a good thing.”

Miles sighed in response as he took the box from Lilith. ”I don't think either of us pictured any of this," he replies meekly, walking through the door and holding it open with his foot for Lil to walk through. ”Don’t think anyone did but here we are." Miles trails behind Lilith when she enters the house as if he didn't have the whole place memorised. ”I think ma teared up this morning, not that she'd admit it. It's funny, it's not the first time I've moved and here is a stone's throw away compared to Olympia but whatever."

Lilith didn’t waste any time entering the house, heading straight for the stairs. The last thing she wanted was for her or Miles either one to be hit with the welcome wagon. ”In her defense, I think this might feel a little more permanent than college,” Lil pointed out while beginning the climb to the second floor. ”The spare room is right across from mine,” she began to explain. ”Gramps made sure it was furnished with everything you need, and I have some extra space in my dresser if you need it.”

Miles trailed a good step behind Lilith. Should pregnant women be dragging suitcases up stairs? Why was there no manual for these things? He watched her every move closely, a tumble down the stairs would be the last thing either of them needed right now. At Lilith’s explanation Miles cocks an eyebrow. Admittedly he expected to be sharing Lil’s room rather than be given his own space. Not that he really minded all that much but it was unexpected. ”Spare room?” he asks, keeping his voice light as he half-joked. ”You’re legit carrying my babies and your pawpaw’s still insistent on keeping us separated? Is he scared I’ll make you even more pregnant or something?”

Lilith was hoping that the dresser comment was enough of a hint for Miles. Listening to him speak, she couldn’t help but roll her eyes when she realized her comment had missed the mark. ”You know how traditional he is,” she joked back in response. ”I think the poor guy is trying to still get his head wrapped around everything.” And I am too.

As they finished their hike up the stairs, Lilith leaned the suitcase up against the wall outside of the door to her own bedroom. ”I also think he kind of wanted us to have that conversation ourselves,” she laughed. ”I’d put some of your things in there at the very least, that way he doesn’t have a hissy fit since he put all that effort in. But you’re more than welcome to sleep wherever you want.”

”And how's your pawpaw taking it all? Which gun do you reckon he'll be holding at me?" Miles responds to her statement on John still trying to wrap his head around it all. As she leaned the suitcase next to her bedroom door he gives her a smile. ”I'm sure there's some stuff here I don't use a lot of, it'll keep John at bay. Need me to sneak between rooms in the middle of the night like we're 16 again?" he jokes with a chuckle.

”Probably the shotgun. That’s usually his go to.” She laughed again at Miles' question. ”The man goes to bed every night at eight. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” As silence filled the space between them, Lilith’s mind drifted off imagining how the next few months of their lives were going to go. ”I reckon we should probably get you set up with whatever you need right now and then focus on the rest later. I gotta get started on dinner soon.”

”Sounds like a plan." Miles replies peering into Lilith's room, or more aptly their room now. He'd swear up and down it had barely changed over the years. It brought a wave of nostalgia as he was reminded how long it had really been since he'd been in this room. Too long. He rests his chin on the top of her head before saying what had been on the back of his mind for the past couple of weeks. "What are we even doing, Li? Like, how are we supposed to raise children? I don't know the first thing about babies."

”Nor do I,” the young woman sighed in response. As Miles rested his chin on the top of her head, Lilith closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the silence that filled the air. Deep down she knew there weren’t going to be many more moments where it was just her and Miles. They had barely laid a foundation for their newly rekindled relationship, and now they were moving in together not even two months later. Lilith was starting to wonder if the whole ‘written in the stars’ thing wasn’t just another joke from the Universe in the grand scheme to make a baby factory out of her. ”We just do what our moms did for us - their best. Feed ‘em, clothe ‘em, bathe ‘em, and when they come home cryin’ because some boy or girl broke their heart we’ll be there to listen. Don’t force our failed dreams on ‘em, and let ‘em make their own decisions - for the most part. All of the jokes and bullshit aside, mom says they have classes for all of that. To teach you the basics and stuff, I mean.”

Truthfully, Lilith had been spending every day for the last week in the woods, completely avoiding the inevitable change in her life. She hadn’t really given a second thought on how to actually be a parent - simply because whenever she did, her brain spiraled to a dark and suffocating place. There was no reason to tell Miles that she thought she was going to be ridden with postpartum depression or psychosis, or of all the other horrible things she knew could happen to both her and their children. As for now, Lilith Montgomery had simply been living moment to moment.

Miles gives a sigh in return before pressing a gentle kiss on the top of Lilith’s head. ”I guess we have each other at least. They did good enough by themselves so between the two of us we gotta be at least half-decent, right?” Unlike Lilith who’d seemed to be avoiding even thinking about what was growing inside of her Miles seemed to be unable to think of anything else all week. Not out of choice or intention but the nervousness and fear seemed to constantly remind him it was there as much as he tried to ignore it. Part of him wished he could avoid the whole situation in his mind even just for an hour.

”I asked ma what to expect. She didn’t want to talk about her pregnancy too much, she got weirdly guarded. But she said she got pretty sick. Let’s hope the Montgomerys have better luck I guess. Has it kicked in yet?”

Lilith made a mental note to pick Mary's brain at a later date. She wasn’t quite sure how much information the other woman would be willing to give, or much less how to ask. Lil had done what she could, asking her own mother questions here and there, but Claire seemed to be living in the land of rainbows and roses. Lilith would be lying if she said her mothers happy attitude wasn’t one of the main reasons she had more or less moved out of the house these last few days.

”Not entirely,” she began to explain. ”I keep getting waves of nausea, and my jeans already don’t fit the same. Certain smells make me want to rip my nose off.” Looking up at him, Lilith tried to hide the concern in her eyes before speaking again. ”What about you? How are things on your end?”

”Well I can't say I've had random bouts of nausea or that my jeans are tightening so I guess better off than you." he jokes, blowing off her question.

Lilith did the best that she could to force a small smile, her head tilting to the side as she observed Miles. She was used to her questions being dodged, but it really sucked sometimes when he didn’t want to open up about things. Nonetheless, she didn’t wish to push or pry it out of him.

”I guess you are,” she laughed. ”Though you don’t have people treating you like a prized candy dish, or yanking coffee out of your hands either.”

Miles forced a tight-lipped smile as his girlfriend studied him. Questions on how he was going was always a lose-lose scenario, he knew that. Either he'd tell Lilith he wasn't okay and she'd worry about him and spend her energy making him okay or he didn't and she'd be worried and disappointed that he was saying nothing. He pulled her in closer by the waist, glad she'd opted to drop the question. He'd hazard a guess that with her empath abilities could see he had a nice little cocktail of fear, anxiety and fatigue about him. The kids themself were news and life changing enough but his father reappearing and his relationship with Carlisle being more hot and cold than ever just added a few too many spanners in the works. Not to mention he was worried for his mother, working 2 jobs and doing all alone for real. He always worried about her.

”'Spose I should brush up on what you can and can't do, hey? Someone gotta slow that coffee addiction of yours," he half-jokes, Playing with the ends of her loose strands of hair.

”Well if you listen to my ma or gramps either one, they’re gonna tell you to put me in some sort of protective bubble,” she half-joked. Standing there in the silence, it was hard for Lilith to ignore the waves of emotions that seemed to be rolling off of Miles. It was in times like these that she wished their powers were more similar; Lil could sense emotions, but she couldn’t control or help with them. ”Really all you can do is try to help me stay sane - but you better let me do the same for you,” she declared, wrapping him in a fierce hug.

A small grunt escaped the man as his girlfriend pulled him into a tight grip. He untangles his hands from her hair and slowly wraps his arms around her. He bit down hard on his bottom lip, trying to hold in all his words. Why was she so set on hearing him pour out his heart as if he didn't have the easier end of the deal? ”You shouldn't be worrying about me. I've heard stress is bad for the babies," he says meekly. Miles was always the stoic type, holding the brunt of the burdens for those closest to him; his mother, Lilith, his friends like Carlisle. None of these people asked him to fill that role, it was a self-inflicted position perhaps to avoid looking inward. After a small period of silence he let out the deepest of sighs. ”Honestly, Li? I've never been so terrified in my life." he confesses under his breath. ”I know that's a pretty low bar, fear is not normal for me but- y'know." He sighs, resting his chin on her head once more. ”Let's just hope they're more like you than me."

Huffing, Lilith continued to keep her arms wrapped around Miles as she loosened her grip slightly. She wanted to give him a speech about how all she did was worry, and more so about how it was her god given right to worry about those she cared about - especially him. Lilith had been worrying about Miles for as long as she could remember. Their predicament wasn’t going to change that. If anything it made it worse. The young woman was doing her best to articulate the words to let Miles know he didn’t need to worry. Before she could get them out, his last comment made her blood run cold once more.

Lilith reckoned that having a child like her wouldn’t be the worst thing entirely. She had managed to make relatively good grades in school, maintain a steady job, and be a generally good person from time to time. On the other hand, her mind was designed to torture her. Lilith Montgomery knew full well that she came from a long line of insecure women and angry, egotistical men. More so that she embodied both sides of the coin. Add that to all of the generational trauma that she knew she’d be passing down, and Lilith was reminded of all of the reasons why she swore she’d never have children in the first place.

”I’m scared too, Kane. Terrified, actually. I know you keep sayin’ that as a joke or whatever, but the thought of having some foul-mouthed, dark haired wild child is absolutely terrifyin'. And we’re fixin’ to have three.” Taking a deep breath, Lilith tried to steady her nerves for what felt like the trillionth time that week. ”What if I’m a bad mom? What if I can’t connect with them? What if I hate ‘em?” she questioned in a near whisper.

”Then we'll be horrible parents together.” Miles makes the attempt at a joke before he even thought through the words, leaving him mentally kicking himself. ”Sorry, I didn’t mean that. Ignore me.” Miles quickly intervenes, running a hand down Lilith’s spine and stepping in closer to her. ”I’m sure you’ll be great Li. All we can do is our best and I guess that already gets us ahead of both our dads.” Miles didn’t really know what to say. Miles was good at pretty words and grand speeches but comforting was something different all together. He thought about injecting more calming energy into the air around them but could he use magic on a pregnant woman? Would their babies come out all odd if he did? He decided against it, that was a question for Claire or his ma later. Instead, he takes a deep breath, pulling her closer for a brief moment. ”I still have another box and my guitar waiting at the door, guess we should grab them, hey? Time to brace myself for the welcoming committee?”

The young woman couldn't help but roll her eyes at his joke. Miles had always had a special way of breaking the tension. He didn't have much to say, and that was more than fine with her. Lilith had always found comfort more in his presence than anything.

"Probably a good idea," she responded, still refusing to let him go. "I know ma's excited. Can't promise the same for gramps."

”Nah, I reckon your paw paw is more than excited to put me to work on the ranch. Probably hoping he can work me to death," Miles reasons with a chuckle. The man was generally interested in how John Montgomery would conduct himself around Miles. Until now he'd only received glares and occasional passive aggressive comments from the man but he knew moving in would open a whole new dynamic between the pair.

Despite her agreement, Miles couldn't help but notice Lilith had a tighter grip on him than ever. He presses a kiss on her forehead and lets the silence linger a while. Miles was never great with silence but right now it seemed almost healing. Unfortunately, someone had to break it and it would only be fitting if he were that someone. ”Let's go face your family." he says, loosening his grip around her.

"If you insist," she sighed in her own attempt to joke. Releasing Miles, Lilith settled on grabbing his hand before they began their descent down the stairs. "It's just me and you against the world now, ya know?" the brunette nearly whispered.

Miles gave Lilith's hand a squeeze as they started making their way down the stairs. ”With our families? I don't think it'll ever be just us. I think we’re doomed to never experience time alone again." he jokes. As they pushed closer to the bottom of the steps the clearer Miles could hear the TV playing in the background. ”John's home," he muses, squeezing Lilith's hand once more. He wasn't sure if whatever hassle John was about to give him or Claire's overexcitedness was more terrifying but it looked like he'd soon find out.

Taking a deep breath, Lilith squared her shoulders as the two of them reached the bottom of the stairs. ”I’m sure we’ll make it work,” she responded, still trying to keep the mood light as possible. Hearing the evening news in the background, the young woman was once again reminded of her new reality. So many things were getting ready to change for both herself and those around her. Lilith just hoped that her predicament wouldn’t burden many of her loved ones. More importantly, she hoped that whatever love Miles had for her wouldn’t crumble underneath all of the new pressure.

”I guess I should get a start on dinner,” she mused, her mind clearly elsewhere. ”Want to help me peel the potatoes?”

Miles turns to face Lilith, her eyes seeming to be fixed away from him. Miles was no empath, the furthest thing from it if he was being honest, but even he knew her mind was wandering. He couldn't help but wonder where to. For as long as he had known Lilith Montgomery he still could not figure out her mind, not precisely at least. His eyes floated to John for a moment. Would it be better to rip the bandaid off, just let the man rip into him now. There seemed to be so many places his own mind was trying to pull him. He gave Lilith's hand yet again another stabilizing squeeze. ”Sure," he muses, answering her initial offer as he follows her to the kitchen. ”Whacha thinking about?"

Squeezing Miles’ hand in return, Lilith walked into the kitchen and began to collect all of the items that she needed from various cabinets and drawers. ”Just the future,” she responded quietly. Grabbing the potato peeler from the drawer, she passed it to Miles before turning to grab one of the large bowls from the lower cabinet. ”Do you think you’ll still love the kids even if they come out with webbed fingers and an extra eye or two?” She did the best that she could to make her tone seem more upbeat. Humor had always been a deflection tactic, and becoming a mother didn’t seem as if it was going to change that fact. It was easier to joke about possibilities Lil knew were never really going to happen than to ask him the questions that were really on her mind.

Miles was halfway through peeling a potato as he gave his response to Lilith, his eyes still set on his task. He shrugs before responding. ”I guess. I don't really know what I- wait." He stops himself, turning back to watch what Lil was doing for a moment. ”That's not what you're actually thinking about, is it?" he asks, his voice almost as low as hers. If he was being honest Miles was unsure if that was a fair assessment. Maybe he had misjudged but something felt off. Regardless, the chances of her really opening up were slim anyway, he knew that. They were both as closed as each other in their own ways.

Lilith had moved over to the fridge at this point, taking her time scanning the items before her so she wouldn’t have to look back over at Miles. She thought that her deflection had worked until she heard him finish his thought. ”No,” she responded, lips pursed. ”I’m thinking about that and so much more. I know I said that I was scared - and I know you are too - but… it’s more than that. I don’t want to dwell on it or ruin the moment.”

”Moment's already full of fear anyway." the man shrugs. He pulls his eyes off of Lilith and back to his potatoes, moving to the next. ”Y'know this whole 'helping to keep each other sane' thing should run both ways. I think I have just as right to worry about you as you have about me, maybe more so right now," he waves the peeler in the air in time with his words before moving the freshly peeled potato out of the way and grabbing another. He knew in a way Lilith felt entitled to Miles' worries, and maybe she was, but all that seemed to do was pile on more pain for the woman. It was funny, she'd always complain about how stoic Miles was but she was no better somedays.

Lilith couldn’t help but sigh and roll her eyes in defeat as she grabbed the steaks from the fridge. Miles was right. ”I’m just… I’m scared, yeah. But I’m also disappointed, and confused. I know that nothing ever goes according to plan but… it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not even four months ago I was dead set on never seeing you again.” The silence around them was deafening, the TV drowned in the background of her own thoughts. ”I’m not judging you or putting you down or telling you that you haven’t changed,” she continued, letting the refrigerator door close behind her. ”But I’m scared of the fact that old habits are hard to break, and die even harder. You’re a good person, deep down. I’ve always known that.”

The young woman was rambling once again, trying to sort her emotions and thoughts as she spoke aloud. Placing the cast iron pan on the stove, the brunette was careful not to meet his eyes. Lilith hoped that she wasn’t hurting him. ”It’s just… would you even still be in town if you hadn’t knocked me up, Miles?” That was the easiest way of asking. She could have been more blunt, but the subject was already sensitive enough.
The truth was that Lilith wondered if the only reason Miles was still hanging around her at all was the fact she was now pregnant with his children.

Miles could scarcely do anything but sigh at Lilith's words. She had a point about old habits, a great point in fact. Miles had had multiple discussions with Delaney opening up about his fear of messing it all up all over again. If he was being honest he wasn't even certain himself if he could stop the cycle. He wanted to make some big statement that would quell all her fears, show her he was far from that person but even he had some doubt he was. 3 months was a quick window of drastic change and no matter how determined Miles was to be better he wasn't sure if he was truly capable of it.

Miles looked down at the potato he was peeling to see he had shaved it down to half its size, well past the skins. He added it to the pile before wordlessly grabbing the next. He remained silent for a while, a skill he seemed to be becoming more adept in by the day but perhaps the sounds of the peeler against the potato was enough noise for him in this moment. As much as he didn't know what to say he didn't really know what to feel. While part of him hurt that Lilith seemed to all but trust him he knew she was completely justified in that train of thought. Eventually he gives a sigh once more before speaking what he wished could say were thought out words but were very much not.

”I mean I was here the month we didn't know." he says quietly. A weak defense, one he wasn't sure he believed in but there were so many thoughts and answers in that head of his he was hard-pressed on which to grab. ”I don't blame you for not trusting me just- I don't know I guess it would've been more fitting if I ran when I found out, wouldn't it? Or the morning after the party rather than trying to start something again?"

Lilith had always had a habit of overthinking things and letting her darkest fears get in the way of things. Miles returning, Claire’s chance at a new life, John’s diagnosis and being pregnant certainly did not help or change those facts. She had been focused on seasoning the steaks as the weight of her previous comment hung in the air. The brunette took a moment to process what Miles was saying - knowing full well that he had made a fair point, no matter how small. It didn’t help, no matter how much she hoped it would.

The truth was that Miles still had time to run. There were quite a few months left until the children were born, and who knew if he could deal with living at the ranch that long. Who knew if he could handle living with her? Sure, he hadn’t bailed on the first night or when she had told him she was pregnant - but he had left her standing there alone one too many times in the past after promising to stay for her anxiety to be at ease.

Continuing to focus on the task at hand Lilith was still sure not to look over in Miles’ direction, scared of whatever reaction she may have if she did. ”It’s not that I don’t trust you,” she nearly whispered. ”I forgave you a long time ago. I just have a hard time forgettin’ things.” With another sigh she continued. ”Just promise me you’ll always be honest.”

Miles remained silent a moment, now with all the potatoes peeled there was little for his hands to do meaning less distractions for him to focus on. In truth his mind seemed almost as much of a prison as Lilith’s did to hers but his was so much more easily drowned out by simple distractions. His first instinct was to find the nearest bottle of whiskey and start downing his first drink for the night but that would mean him walking across Lilith’s space and part of him was almost scared to have to do that. Instead he awkwardly stood in front of his peeled potatoes, fidgeting with the peeler. ”You make this massive deal ‘bout how you’ve forgiven me and all that but- I don’t know- it kinda sounds like you haven’t” he replies, training his eyes on the cutting board to avoid Lilith’s face. He didn’t want to imagine the expressions it was forming at his response.

The young woman was unable to keep her jaw from clenching in response. She wasn’t angry at his words, but she did have to fight the urge to respond sarcastically. ”I have though,” she half-way pleaded. ”Don’t know what I can do to prove it to you other than ignore what I’m feelin’ and avoidin’ hard conversations - and we both know I’m not that girl.”

Beginning to sear the steaks, Lilith felt the heat rise to her face. She was already emotional enough as is - and now she had to deal with pregnancy hormones as well. ”I know I wasn’t totally fair to you in the past either,” she continued to explain. ”You had big dreams, and my only dream was to be with you. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a person.” As the meat began to sizzle, she quickly wiped the already falling tears from her face. ”I don’t know, Kane. I guess all I ever wanted was a proper goodbye or an ‘I’m sorry’ and you never gave me either one.”

Miles pursed his lips for a moment. He refused to even glance at Lilith, knowing if he did it might just cause his own undoing. ”Look, I’m not saying don’t feel what you’re feeling but- I dunno, you’d know better than me. I’m no empath.” His eyes seem to dart around the room for something, anything to look at that wasn’t in her direction as Lilith says her piece. ”Li, You can divine into the deepest parts of my soul, you know exactly what I’m feeling from the moment I enter a room. I guess I just assumed you knew I felt bad for all that happened.” He exhales a breath he didn’t realise he was holding before continuing. ”If I apologise now will you think it’s just ‘cus you said something about it or would you actually accept it?”

”Of course I knew, but I shouldn’t have to use magic on you of all people. Sure, it’d probably make the situation easier, but sorry ain’t really that hard to say is it?” she questioned, brow now furrowed as she fought to keep her tone soft. ”I’m not tryin’ to make shit hard for you or even dig up the past, despite what it seems. My body just feels like it’s on fire, and all I knew is I immediately went from hatin’ you, to fuckin’ you, to havin’ kids and now livin’ with ya, and I just - I don’t know what the hell to think.”

Sorry shouldn’t be hard to say, Miles knew that yet he was never good at saying it. Not seriously at least. He finally turned his gaze to Lilith, biting his bottom lip at the expression etched onto her face. ”I guess ‘I’m sorry’ is my L-word. I noticed you didn’t use that in your little progression of our relationship.” he replies, his tone soft. ”Look, Li, I’m sorry. I am, for everything. I don’t really know what’s going on here either. I thought I had my whole life figured out. Now- I don’t know, it seems to be moving faster than I can keep up. I want to say I didn’t mean to hurt you when we were kids but maybe in a way I did, not maliciously but maybe enough to not try to be better. I know I don’t want to hurt you again but I’ve never been the most self-aware and I guess in a way I won’t ever not hurt you. But- I’m trying. There’s not much more I can do to prove it than just show you but I am.”

Once again, he was right. Turning the stove off a little too forcefully, Lilith stuck the steaks in the oven to finish cooking before responding. ”I guess that’s all I’ve ever asked you to do, so I can’t really be upset with ya for it.” Walking across the kitchen to collect the potatoes, Lilith grabbed a knife and cutting board before beginning to slice them. She still didn’t look at Miles, caught up in the awkwardness and weight of the conversation. Clearing her throat, she did her best to steer the conversation elsewhere. ”Why don’t you go ahead and grab a drink or something? Make yourself comfortable or whatever.”

As much as Miles didn’t want to shy from the current conversation he’d gotten the hint. ”Man, these pregnancy hormones are gonna kick my ass, aren’t they? Between you and John I may never get a break,” he half-jokes, pressing a kiss on the side of the woman’s head as he wanders to collect glasses and the nearest bottle of Jack, pouring himself a glass. ”Guess I should pour one for you pawpaw too, reckon he’ll accept it as a peace offering?” he asks as he starts pouring a second glass.

Miles’ comment had stung. Was she really already burdening him that much? She did her best to shrug it off. ”You can if you’d like, but your ma’s not here and I can’t promise he’s not carryin’,” she joked herself.

”I’ll only be saving myself 20 minutes if he is. Besides, he can’t shoot me now, for as much as he hates me he won’t leave you to raise these kids alone. He’s angry but he ain’t stupid.” He picks up the two glasses before beginning his journey to the living room. As he reaches its parameter he turns back to Lilith, a lopsided smile playing on his lips. ”You might need to start convincing Cordelia I’m worth being guided to her part of the astral plane just in case.” he throws back before turning back to the path before him.

Miles would be lying if he said John Montgomery didn’t strike at least a little fear into the man’s heart. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he pressed his way to the living room, John planted in his spot in front of the TV. He knew he was asking for a verbal ass-whooping but Miles figured it was better to rip the bandaid off as early as possible. ”I’ve brought your whiskey, John.” Miles greeted the man, holding the glass toward him. Maybe a hello or a ‘thank you for letting me live here’ would have been a better start but that never really seemed to cross the young man’s mind.

Lil had managed to laugh off his comments about Cordelia and John both, continuing to focus on cooking dinner as Miles walked into enemy territory.

John was wrapped up in the evening news, avoiding the ever growing want to eavesdrop on the conversation in the next room. Random images of places around town continued to pop up on the screen as the reporter jumped from story to story. When Miles approached, John responded with a simple grunt as he looked over, taking the glass from his hands. He could have made some sort of smart comment, but decided against it. Today had been a long day, and being shouted at by Lilith would only make it longer.

”How much longer on supper?” he asked, eyes now back on the TV screen.

Miles was expecting to have insults flung at him the second he'd entered the older man's space. He was unsure if the fact John was being so cordial put him more or less at ease. He took the spot a couple of seats away from John, unable to stop himself from scanning the man for obvious weaponry. ”I'd give it 10 or 20." he replies simply, taking a sip from his glass. Sitting on the couch with John, almost waiting for the man to snap as the TV droned in the background; it felt rather reminiscent of his tween years when he'd stay at the Montgomerys as his mother worked. ”Thanks for setting up the room and all that." Miles was very much tempted to make it clear to John he had intended on sharing Lilith's room but even he wasn't dumb enough to poke that bear… yet. ”Kinda feels like old times, huh?"

John wasn’t used to having the house so full of people. From time to time, a fellow rancher may have stayed in the spare bedroom. Sometimes Miles or Mary had crashed up there when they needed a place to stay for some odd reason. Lilith’s friends from time to time, but even that was sparingly. In the last few months, John had gone from having a house of two, to three, and now four. He already missed peace and quiet.

The old man nodded his head in response to the timing. ”Good. I’m starving.” Taking a sip from his glass, John couldn’t help but give the younger gentleman the side eye. ”’Welcome.” A short silence fell between the two as John struggled to find the words to say next. ”Yeah… ‘cept you didn’t live here and ya hadn’t knocked up Lilly.” Eyes now back on the TV screen, he continued. ”I ain’t sayin’ it to be an asshole. Lot’s changed. At least I ain’t livin’ with a total stranger I reckon.”

Miles bit down on his lip as to not come back with anything too stupid until he'd thought it through. His eyes dart toward the man for a moment before returning to the TV and taking a sip of whiskey. ”You're better off saying what you really wanna say while Lilith's in the other room," he says gently. Miles might have been asking for it but the man's silences were almost deafening, his cordialness almost as much so. Maybe Miles was hoping John would unleash everything then be done forever. An empty dream, Miles knew, but he'd hoped anyway.

With a heavy sigh, John took another large drink. The truth was that he didn’t really want to rip into Miles. It was childish to hold the past against someone, but John had learned the hard way time and time again to believe people the first time they showed their true colors. ”I’m disappointed she wound up with you. I’m not even sure if that’s the right word, ‘cause there’s worse out there. But I worry about her. When you took off for college, she was locked in her room for months. I didn’t have any choice but to have her committed to a psych ward in Seattle, and part of me blames you for that - but deep down I know it’s ain’t your fault. I’m scared these kids are going to drain her, and she’s never going to get to live any of her dreams because she’s going to pour her whole existence into you, those kids, and keepin’ this ranch alive when I’m gone. I’m scared you’re going to hurt her again, and I’m even more afraid she ain’t gonna come back this time.” Finishing off the last of what was in his glass, he chuckled dryly. ”That’s a lot to put on a kid, but that’s the nicest way I know of putin’ it.”

Miles bit down on lip once more. He knew Lilith struggled when he left, his mother's occasional backhanded comments on the phone had made that very clear but the psych ward was a new revelation. ”Well that's that, then," Miles replies as he takes another sip of his whiskey while his mind continues to try and process every single word. ”She's lucky to have you, y'know. I hope one day you might say the same for me."

”We’ll see,” the old man responded, leaning back into the couch.

With perfect timing, Claire had decided to walk through the door, enthusiastically greeting the household. ”Hello, everyone,” she called out.

”Dinner in five,” Lilith called out in response.

As Claire walks through the door Miles gives her a smile as he pushes himself off the couch with a grunt. ”Good evening, Claire. Here's to hoping you're glad to see me." he half-jokes as he closes some of the distance between them.

The woman met Miles halfway, embracing him in a hug. ”That’s an understatement,” she replied, beaming at him. ”Goodness gracious I forget how much you’ve grown. I hope you got settled well?”

Almost oddly enough, Claire seemed to have the most excitable outlook to Miles’ arrival. This must have been the welcome wagon Lilith was talking about. He returned the woman’s embrace. Before her return to the land of the living Miles’ was still in his very early teens, he still couldn’t get over the fact her embrace no longer encompassed him. Even moreso that she almost appeared closer to his age than his mother’s. ”Well as I can,” he replies. ”You got some grand speech to say too or do I get a free pass from you?” Claire Montgomery seemed to not hold the same fears both John and Lilith so validly held. Miles couldn’t help but wonder if she’d not seen enough to feel connected to the whole situation or if she truly was just quick to forgive and forget. Miles knew that was a rarity for the woman.

Claire shrugged her shoulders, beginning to make her way to the kitchen to help Lilith move the food to the dining room table and grab herself a drink. ”I think you know me well enough to know I’ll put my foot up your ass if you step out of line,” she half-joked, her tone still cheerful. ”But seriously, welcome.”

”I think I’ll get hounded with punishments if I step out of line. Especially without ma here to save my ass,” Miles replies with a chuckle. He tops up his glass of whiskey after Claire does so and takes a tray of food to the table as he wanders over. ”At least with you and John here we won’t be outnumbered by kids.”

The older woman laughed along with him, carrying the steaks into the next room with her. Lilith followed closely behind with the potatoes before returning to grab the vegetables as well. ”Well, here’s to new beginnings anyway,” Claire quipped, raising her glass in Miles’s direction.

Miles raises his glass toward Claire in return. ”And here’s to our eardrums and livers.” he responds, downing a good third of his glass before taking a seat. ”And hoping they’ll be easy kids.”
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