Thursday, December 22, 2016
Chapter 86: Goodbye
Carlos and Lela decide to have a wedding now, instead of waiting for spring. They host the party at home at 7 PM, so as not to conflict with Milo's busy game schedule. In attendance are some scientists, a bunch of Ceth's friends, several of Milo's coworkers, Lela's parents, Lela's brother Barry, Lela's brother Barry's wife Becky, Francis Worthington, and Ernesto Gonzales. Carlos and Milo's parents were going to attend, but bad weather forced them to turn back.
Fold out chairs courtesy of Milo's boss.
Egg Man isn't overcome with emotion. He's just freezing his butt off.
Lela wants to keep her surname for professional reasons, and insists Carlos should do the same.
Lela has never been happier.
Jamar Whitfield takes a seat near his new son-in-law. "Boy, I want you to know I don't hate you."
"That's... good," Carlos manages to say. This is his first time speaking with Lela's parents.
"But this is the worst time for a wedding," Jamar criticizes.
Ceth has not been feeling great, so Milo brings her a drink.
"I'm not sure I should have this," she sighs. "I think I'm pregnant."
Milo presses his lips together, trying not to frown. "Who's the father?"
"Um. Not sure." The timing indicates Floyd Quill or Mithun Khan. Ceth isn't sure which option would receive a worse reaction.
By the next morning, the snow has melted due to heavy rain. Milo hops onto Ceth's bike and pedals as fast as he can towards a spot downtown, where a text from Kirstin asked him to meet her...
Despite all she's done, he goes to embrace her, to tell her she can drop her criminal lifestyle and they can work things out... but she pushes him away.
"I don't understand, Kirstin. Fairuza needs us."
"No," Kirstin sighs, "you never did understand a damn thing, Milo. The boss arranged for me to be out on bail, he owed me that much, and I'm running before I get put away for good. I can't go play house with you."
Milo fidgets. Does he look as horrified as he feels, he wonders? What is this 'for good' talk? Why is everything so final and unshakeable these days? "Kirstin-"
"No. Shut up. The organization's favorite corrupt judge can only pull so many strings, he can't magically erase all the evidence against me. Fairuza is better off not having to visit me behind bars. I'm sorry, I do love you, but I can't be who you want me to be." She pauses, trying to catch her breath after that tirade. She had to get it all out before she could be interrupted. "I guess I don't love you as much as I should. I don't know. I've never actually loved anyone before."
They stand in silence for a moment. His hands twitch into fists. Her eyes close. The rain pours down around them.
"Will I ever see you again?"
"No, probably not," she replies. "Forget about me."
A blue pickup pulls up behind them.
"I gotta go," Kirstin says. "That's my ride. Try not to take pictures of it and share with your friends... 'kay?"
Milo grits his teeth. He doesn't want these to be their last words, but he cannot will a different situation into existence. If she's not who he thought she was, did he ever actually love her? Is anyone who he thinks they are? "Goodbye, Kirstin."
As suspected, a visit to the hospital confirms Ceth is pregnant.
She worries constantly about her growing belly, and cancels all of her gigs so she can hide it from the world. Instead of leaving the house, she spends her days in the tiny room adjacent to her bedroom, where she works on other forms of artistic expression.
She allows Milo to lure her out exactly once for a game of flying disc.
"Ceth, seriously you can barely even tell..."
The sports star has many sleepless nights caring for his newborn daughter. At first he thought a lot about Kirstin and his broken heart, but as time passes, her memory becomes remote and unreal.
A second crib is added to the nursery, for Ceth's future child.
Milo still has his magic question ball, from when he was a kid.
"Am I going to mess this up?" he asks.
You'd better not, it replies.
Fairuza is far too small to play with the toys Milo's teammates keep sending her, so Lela plays with them instead.
Out of the four adults, only Carlos rolls a wish to read a parenting book.
"Baby Incoming: Preparing with a Vigilance," Ceth mocks.
"You want to read it? It has some interesting tips."
Ceth rolls her eyes. "Tip number one... remember to feed the baby. Tip number two... remember to clean the baby. Tip number three... if the baby is ugly, set it on fire..."
"All babies are ugly, Ceth."
With Ceth staying home and keeping an eye on Fairuza, Milo is free to waste some time at the park. As a child, he rolled several wishes to build a snowman, but the snow was never deep enough to do so. Now he is free to experience that simple joy.
Why stop at one snowman when you can have two?
Late one night, Ceth is digging around in the fridge for leftover crepes when she suddenly grabs her belly and cries out in pain.
Milo freaks out, wondering aloud how someone as ridiculously thin as Ceth can give birth without issues. Ceth just screams and screams.
"Calm the hell down, blondies," Carlos says calmly. "I'll take her to the hospital."
Ceth is sent home a few hours later with a son. She is still starving for those crepes.
She pauses, reluctant to leave the nursery. "You'll be okay, right? I'll be back in a minute..."
The sleeping newborn does not answer her.
"I guess I'm the only one who got any sleep last night," Lela chuckles, after being told about the new tiny person in the household. "What's the baby's name?"
"Acheron," Carlos informs her.
"Uhm... Acheron... as in the river one crosses to get into the underworld?"
"Yeah, that's probably what she was going for."
"So... who do you think the father is?" Milo whispers, as if keeping his voice low could somehow influence the answer.
"It's a little early to tell..."
"Oh stop," Ceth hisses. "I think the father is Floyd Quill. Not your idiot boss."
"Okay, okay... that's good... so... are you going to try to contact the guy?"
"Just like that? No? It's his kid..."
"He's scum and he means nothing to me. Why invite him into my son's life?" Ceth rocks Acheron slowly, at a loss for words to describe how fiercely protective she feels over him.
Fairuza grows quickly into a toddler. She has her father's eyes, and her mother's nose.
Etc.: I rolled for four kids this generation, so that's two down, two to go...