A New Hope

Wow. It felt like the birthdays would never end.

Dad, Mom, and me. What a week. A fun week, but a busy one.

A toast to my grown-up daughter. You can toast with cake, right?
A toast to my grown-up daughter. You can toast with cake, right?

Yeah. So Dad pretty much handed things over to me for now. In theory Pak could still beat me out and take over the house, but let’s face facts. I’ve got this thing sealed up tighter than a steel drum lined with lead.

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Birthday Bookends

The worst week of Aristotle’s life started with his birthday, and ended with his son’s.

His birthday was a surprise to him. Shea planned it, of course. As with anything she put her mind to, it turned out well, but he was truly surprised she got so many people to show up. He wasn’t loved; he was feared. That’s enough to keep people away, not enough to get them to show up.

Even on happy occasions, shadows lurk around him
Even on happy occasions, shadows lurk around him

But Shea wasn’t feared. She was a friend to everyone, the funny lady making it big on the joke circuit. Maybe they just showed up to see her, or to do her a favor, but they were still there, at Aristotle’s party. He was touched. Shea celebrated a bit more than everyone else, but they played along. And he had a good time.

Life was good.

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Changes

In no time at all, they had their second child. A son, Blandinus Nobbs, and as healthy and beautiful a boy as any proud father could hope for.

Remember back when I had a figure?
Remember back when I had a figure?

“I don’t… That is… How can I?” Artimus was at a loss for words that night.

“What is it, honey?” Shea answered. “It can’t be anything bad,” she was smiling serenely, having just finished feeding the new baby. Brutus looked out of his room at them and got up, but just to shut his door angrily and go back to his drawings. It seemed he was displeased with the distraction of their voices.

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Regrets

It’s a strange thing, Aristotle thought to himself, that all he’s done to provide a future for his child must be hidden from that very child. As Brutus grew into a fine young boy, he found himself wondering if all he’d done for the boy was really for the best.

He’d arrived in this country with nothing, pursued by the hounds of hell itself. All he’d done was necessary to ensure he could survive and leave his family better off. True, he’d been driven into the underworld, but until now he’d thought it a needed trade and even a point of pride that he could accomplish so much.

My little boy
My little boy

But a little red-headed boy with his mother’s cheeks and his eyes, with a bright smile as he hugged his father to him… That was all it took to make him question himself. To feel shame that he had to hide his life from his boy.

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A New Addition

His first child.

An heir to the Nobbs Legacy. The family would continue. No matter what had happened in Europe, he was alive. The Nobbs lived.

True, it might be a girl. She would be the first, but couldn’t inherit, the old laws were complex; heck, they were downright crazy, but they were traditions he intended to keep. He would still love a girl every bit as much. She would be family. Less worry if it was a boy, though.

Bats? Really? What does he do at night?
Bats? Really? What does he do at night?

His happiness overflowed, he babbled and went on about it. Shea smiled and enjoyed his attention.

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