"Oh, hey Emerald."
"Yes, Nick did come over and he is still here."
"Send the boys?"
"No, I don't need James or Stephen to come over and remove Nick. I said he could stay."
"Don't worry, Em. He will earn his keep. I can promise you that. Starting with permanent night shift and potty duties."
"Thanks for the offer. Would you and Brad like to come for dinner? No? Okay, that's fine."
Nice of Emerald to be worried that I might needed help making Nick leave. That phone call brought home to me that there was no one in our family in Nick's corner. His parents, especially his mother, and sibs were taking my side just as much as mine own were.
That wasn't quite true. Buddy seemed to be firmly on Nick's side. He was chattering to Nick after so long of barely talking at home at all. Much as it pained me to see Buddy giving Nick getting so much attention when I’d had so little; I was happy to see Buddy opening up to someone.
He never tries to initiate a conversation with me. Wise, waiting for me to decide to start a conversation. At the moment, there's not much more to say than I did when he first came home. Which I think he did hear quite a bit about that first night.
It was 2 in the morning when I woke up thinking about the toddlers. Since I was awake, I decided that I might as well get up and check that all was fine. Usually at 2, one of them wanted food or a cuddle or something.
"Hi Penny," Nick blinked a few times sleepily at me. "You can go back to bed. I have this."
I glanced around the room and noticed a sleeping bag rolled up near the desk. "You sleeping here?"
He nodded. "Easiest way for me to know if any of the toddlers needs attention. You did tell me that I'm supposed to watch over the toddlers past 10. You really can go back to bed, I have this."
I watched Nick slowly rocking with Ruby. "All right. Good night." I flipped the light switch back off and left the room.
The next day, Nick quietly left for work with the triplets deeply asleep. Buddy ate his breakfast and then gathered his stuff for school. I heard a car pull up outside and wandered outside for a look.
I shook my head. “I don’t believe we have. Nice to meet you, Rocio.”
Rocio smiled at me. “Nice to meet you. I can’t stay long but after Jerod told me that you were the most appropriate person for the thing we found, I really wanted to come and talk to you.”
“Most appropriate person for what?”
“I’ll go get it from the car,” said Jerod. He went off to fetch whatever this item was.
“Jerod also said you have triplets. Seriously?” Rocio asked.
“Oh yes, that’s true. They’ve recently turned two and they are all sorts of trouble.”
“I can’t imagine. I only have one baby and that’s plenty. How do you cope with three?”
“You do what you have to do, I suppose. My family pitched in to hire a butler and I don't know what we'd do without him.”
Jerod came back and Rocio left saying that she had to get to work. Jerod was carrying a huge axe. “Jerod? What the hell?”
I took the axe from Jerod and I could swear that it spoke to me. It told me that it was ready to destroy any obstacles in our path. I can see why it gave Jerod the creeps.
"Thoroughly, Jerod. I think you'd have to murder someone to get that title back."
He laughed. "I guess I'll have to live without it. I wasn't planning on murdering anyone in the near future. Unless you have a special request?" He gave me a sort of serious look with one eyebrow arched.
"True, but they don't have a reputation in the family." He cocked his head for a moment. "Guess I don't have a reputation either, now." He gave me another grin. "But if you want me to do something, just send word."
"My oldest married last week. It didn't take him long at all to settle well to domestic life and his new spouse. I guess that means grandchildren on the horizon. The idea of a grandchild though, that's utterly terrifying."
"Just think, a baby you can cuddle and spoil to your heart's content. Then hand back to parents when they get annoying."
He nodded. "That part sounds good, but I don't feel like I should be a granddad yet. And the youngest will probably be leaving the nest soon. Elsa and I aren't looking forward to that. You won't like it when that happens to you."
"Jerod, that's a long long time in my future. Like after an infinite amount of pottys and schooling and..."
"It seems like forever now but it won't be. Look, I have to go but do call me if you need anything."
But now, I had that axe. An axe meant for exploring. An axe that my great granddad Sam once handled. A huge, badass axe.
Could I trust Nick with the family? Could I go back to China and renew my quest to be a master of martial arts?
Well, no, I certainly can't trust Nick alone with my toddlers. Not yet. But I did have backup. If I asked, my family would check on things.
And it would be my first time away from home since before I was pregnant. It's been a long time. Who should I ask? Veronica was out, her job was too much. My parents would try but I hate to put them to too much bother at their age. Vincent? Stephen? Just trust Jake?
Bonus pics and a bit of ancient history.
It is true that their great granddad Sam earned that Axe of Pangu when he was alive. He only got to use it a few times before it disappeared from the inventory. I wanted Penny to have it but it might not have respawned in the temple. Since Rocio does live in the house where Sam and Rachel raised their tribe of 5, she and Jerod may well have found it and that's my story. :D