Kieran and Delilah are practically inseparable these days. Her confidence seems to wear off on the normally quiet Kieran, and his humility helps keep Delilah grounded. Kieran’s careful nature balances out Delilah’s headstrong, often impulsive tendencies, while her boldness constantly pushes him out of his comfort zone. Kieran always lets Delilah pick the games, and she in turn lets him make the rules. He prefers listening and observing, while she loves to talk. And they both enjoy playing dress up and bossing around Lila’s younger siblings. Indeed, she’s the yin to his yang, the bark to his bite, the sun to his moon. They’re a perfectly matched pair in almost every way, best friends forever and then add a few more years.
But that’s not to say that they don’t get along well with the other kids at school. Delilah in particular stands out as one of the most well-liked students to ever grace the halls of Foresdell Elementary, and she thrives when surrounded by her peers.
Her best friend at school is Heidi Schmidt, daughter of the notoriously eccentric inventor Heinrich Schmidt.
Delilah and Heidi hang out with Mia Sinclair occasionally too, but Mia only ever wants to talk about scary horror movies and she always picks her scabs and chews her fingernails.
She does, however, pull funny pranks sometimes…
Rigby, of course, does not see the humor in this situation.
Lots of important girly girl things to discuss. Even at her young age, Delilah enjoys a good gossip with the gal pals.
Rigby has a best friend, too. Mason Gallagher grew up living in a cramped trailer with his largely absentee mom, but despite his lonely childhood (or perhaps because of it) the boy yearns to have a big family and lots of brothers and sisters. The McKinley household, with three kids and a toddler, is his idea of paradise, and Mason spends much of his time camped out in their living room raiding their fridge and watching their TV, desperate to get away from the searing emptiness of his own home life.
Ghost stories in the daylight aren’t quite as terrifying as Delilah had hoped, but she’s a good actress and does her best to frighten her friends.
Rigby can’t believe Kieran is actually scared. What. A. Dork.
Kieran redeems himself later by playing on the swing set with his friend. Rigby has always looked up to the older boy, and he loves it when Kieran pays attention to him instead of Delilah.
But Delilah for the most part rules the playground, and when she says jump the other kids will leap through the metaphorical hoops to make her happy.
Back at home, Oona celebrates her birthday.
And ages up into a child.
“She doesn’t look like me,” Luca comments that night after the kids have gone to bed.
Emily smiles and snuggles closer. “What do you mean? She has black hair…”
“It’s not my black hair though,” he sighs. “I can definitely see Bridget’s features when I look at her face, but I can’t see me in her at all.”
“What are you suggesting, Luc?” Emily asks gently.
Luca frowns, stroking her arm affectionately. “Nothing,” he murmurs. “Just… Nothing.”
Despite a happy family and a successful career, Luca feels… itchy. These days, his life seems safe, monotonous, and boring, and he constantly worries about his rapidly advancing age. Every time he looks at his kids, a suffocating feeling of responsibility overwhelms him, and every moment he spends with Emily Luca finds himself choking back a paralyzing fear of abandonment.
As a result, his behavior has become much more erratic recently, and he begins acting unusually... spontaneous.
“In the kitchen?” Emily laughs, trying to push him away. “But-”
“The kids are at a sleepover,” Luca whispers in her ear. “I’ve always wanted to try it…”
Emily hesitates. She’s seen how restless he is these days, and while she wants to be supportive and encouraging Luca’s pushy demeanor aggravates her to no end.
“We don’t have protection,” she tells him defiantly. “Your fantasies will have to wait until another time.”
Emily starts to walk away, but Luca grabs her around her waist.
“Come on, darling,” he persists. “We can be careful.”
Emily smiles at him faintly, loving the way his arms feel around her.
“Luca,” she groans, gently fighting away his wandering hands. “We can’t.”
“We can,” he grins.
And they do. It doesn’t take Emily long to succumb to his insistent pleas and her own desires.
Many, many times.
“Emily’s going to have a baby?!” Delilah looks inordinately worried about Kieran’s latest revelation. “But she doesn’t even have a boyfriend!”
Kieran frowns, trying to focus on his homework. He hasn’t told anybody, not even Delilah, about Luca and Emily’s “affair”, as he thinks of it, and he doesn’t want to reveal their secret now. Nevertheless, he can sense the baby growing in Emily’s belly, and he fears that Luca will send him packing as soon as he finds out.
“I wonder if she’ll leave us to go and raise the baby with its daddy,” Delilah continues. “I don’t want her to leave, though! Who is its daddy?” she asks, without pausing for a breath of air.
“I don’t know,” Kieran replies hesitantly. It’s sort of the truth, as he’s not entirely sure it belongs to Luca. Emily doesn’t even know that she’s pregnant yet, and until she finds out Kieran won’t be able to read her thoughts on the matter.
“You can’t tell anyone that I told you though,” Kieran whispers urgently. “It’s a secret, okay Lila?”
“Fine,” she pouts. “I won’t tell anyone.”
A few short weeks later, Halloween arrives in Jericho. Emily promised to take the kids trick-or-treating, but she’s been suffering from acute bouts of nausea lately and doesn’t feel up to doing much of anything today. Luca, unfortunately, has to work, so Emily decides to let them go by themselves, and after a quick group photo they are on their way.
(Costumes: Oona is a fairy princess, Kieran is a pirate, Delilah is a pop star, and Rigby is a cowboy.)
Figuring that they can cover more ground if they split up, Rigby and Oona take the northern half of the neighborhood, and Kieran and Delilah head south.
While hitting up Heidi’s house, the duo runs into a familiar face. Mia (also in costume) has plans.
Pulling Delilah aside, Mia tells her friend a “secret”.
“A haunted house?” Delilah sounds skeptical. “With a real witch?”
Mia nods. “An evil witch, whose ghost only comes out on Halloween. If you can find her secret room, she’ll even give you a ride on her broom!”
“I don’t believe you,” Delilah retorts, crossing her arms. “Everyone knows that witches don’t use brooms.”
“It’s true! My brother told me so.”
“Why don’t you go then? If you’re so brave…”
“Curfew,” Mia sings. “But you told me that your dad didn’t give you a curfew tonight…”
“I don’t know Mia. Sounds fishy.”
“You’re such a scaredy-cat,” she taunts.
“Am not!” Delilah exclaims.
“Then go! Or else I’m telling the whole school that you kissed Mason.”
Mia shrugs, undeterred by the accusation.
Hearing the commotion, Kieran comes over to see what’s going on.
“Don’t be stupid,” he replies after Delilah tells him where she’s headed. “Mia just wants to get you in trouble.”
“No I don’t!” Mia snaps.
Kieran ignores her. “You’ll get grounded for, like, ever. It’s not worth it, Lila.”
Delilah, however, has already made up her mind, and Kieran’s pleas do nothing to move her.
“You didn’t have to come,” she declares irritably as they pick their way through the overgrown trail that leads to the abandoned house. “You’ll get in trouble too, you know.”
Kieran doesn’t hesitate. “I’d rather get in trouble than see you get hurt. Anyway, you need me. To protect you.”
Delilah scowls at him but remains quiet. She does feel better knowing that he’s with her in case something goes wrong.
By the time they reach the house, the sun has long since disappeared from the horizon.
“Do you think there’s really a witch in there?” she whispers.
Kieran shrugs. “There used to be, but she doesn’t live there anymore. It’s empty now.”
“Oh.” Delilah doesn’t know whether to be happy or disappointed, but she decides to go inside anyway since they’ve come all this way.
Getting into the house is a fairly simple matter, as the front door was left slightly ajar, but getting around the cluttered and disheveled interior proves to be a much more challenging feat.
“Can we go now?!” Kieran demands. “This place is giving me a headache!”
“We have to find that room,” Delilah hisses, keeping her voice down. “I wonder where it could be?”
“Try the bookcase,” Kieran suggests.
While she realizes that her friend has special powers, Delilah doesn’t fully understand how Kieran seems to know everything about everything, but she’s never really stopped to question it before. He’s always right after all, so what does it matter in the end?
“There’s nothing here,” Delilah sighs. “It’s just a bookcase.”
“Let me try,” Kieran says.
At first, the shelf refuses to budge, but Kieran keeps trying. Soon, golden sparkles erupt from his hand, showering the bookcase in a flood of light.
Delilah’s eyes widen. “How’d you do that?” she murmurs.
“Yes, how’d you do that Kieran?”
Delilah screams and begins crying as Atticus grabs the pair and forcefully drags them out of the house.
Across town, Emily can barely control her tears. Rigby and Oona arrived home hours ago, without Kieran or Delilah.
“It’s all my fault,” she sobs. “I shouldn’t have let them go alone. I just felt so sick this afternoon, and I didn’t want them to miss out because of me, and-”
Knocking erupts from the front door, cutting her off.
“DAD!” Delilah bursts into the room and runs over to her father, throwing her arms around his neck.
“Oh thank God!” Luca cries, pulling her into a tight hug. “I was so worried about you, Lila!”
“I found them wandering around Esme’s old house,” Atticus explains, eyeing the children with displeasure. “Good thing I caught them when I did. They were trying to break into her den.”
“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” Luca screams as he rises to his feet. “You could have DIED, Delilah! That house has been abandoned for years, and who knows what kind of dangers are hiding in there! And dragging Kieran into this mess?! You are in big trouble, young lady!”
“Dad, we’re fine…”
“I don’t need the attitude, Delilah. You owe all of us an apology, and then you are grounded. Grounded until you turn thirty.”
“That’s not fair!” she cries. “I-”
“It wasn’t her fault,” Kieran blurts out suddenly. “I made her go with me. I- I was dared by one of our classmates, and I didn’t want to seem like a coward. Delilah knew we’d get in trouble, but she thought I’d get hurt if I went alone. If anyone should get grounded, it’s me.”
Luca’s eyes harden as he listens to his speech. “I’m so disappointed in you, Kieran” he says at last. “I would never have expected this kind of behavior from you, and I’m afraid to say that if you ever, ever put my daughter in that kind of danger again you will no longer be welcome in this house. Do you understand me?”
Kieran nods, hanging his head in a vain attempt to hide his tears.
“Now go to your rooms,” Luca spits. “Both of you.”
Without saying another word, they disappear down the hall, closely followed by Emily, who gives Luca a furious glare before turning and storming away.
Not in the mood for niceties, Luca turns his frustration on Atticus.
“Why are you here?” he growls at the old mage. “You haven’t bothered with us before, so why show up now?”
Atticus fidgets awkwardly. “My daughter asked me to accompany her,” he replies impassively. “Maeve wants to see you, Luca.”
Luca feels a cold knot form in the pit of his stomach as a flurry of emotions overwhelms him. “When?” he asks breathlessly.
“Tomorrow morning. At the hotel. Should I tell her that you’ll come?”
Luca nods numbly, his heart pounding furiously in his chest.
“Fine. She will explain everything much more clearly than I can.” And without so much as a simple goodbye, Atticus disappears just as suddenly as he came.
Luca doesn’t sleep at all that night, too focused on his meeting with Maeve to even think about closing his eyes. He goes back and forth for hours, debating with himself about whether he should even go at all, but eventually morbid curiosity and a fierce desire to see her again win out. He gets up at dawn that morning and leaves the house long before Emily and the kids are even awake. The next few hours pass by in a blur, and soon Luca finds himself standing in front of Maeve’s hotel.
The hotel manager gives him the room number, and she opens the door after his very first knock. Maeve looks older than when he last saw her, but Luca doesn’t even notice. They stand there for what feels likes hours, just staring at one another in disbelief, before Maeve finally motions for him to come inside out of the late autumn snow storm.
He’s barely taken one step into the room before they fall into each other’s arms, kissing and hugging like they’d never been apart.
Don’t hate me! Or Luca! I really wanted to finish the scene with Maeve, but this chapter was already too long and I couldn’t find any other place to cut it off. Maybe I should put Part 1 in the title or something, but there’s more to come in my next update. If you want to judge him after that, be my guest, but I’ve worked SO hard at trying to make a likeable heir and I’d be sad to see it ruined by one kiss.
In case there is any doubt, Kieran is not wrong about Emily's pregnancy, but I’m not going to say any more than that. I don’t want to spoil anything. =) Also, yes, Luca behaved like a total jerk to Kieran there at the end, but in his defense he was very angry and very frightened and very, very upset. Admittedly, he should have taken some time to calm down before speaking with the kids, but everybody makes mistakes.
What else? Mia Sinclair is the youngest daughter of Gibson Sinclair (Luca’s pink flamingo vest friend). She has the evil trait, and that picture of her cackling while Kieran and Lila are trick-or-treating was totally autonomous and absolutely perfect. Lila’s other best friend outside of the family, Heidi, has the good trait, which I find both ironic and hilarious.