For the first time in years, Paolo takes time off from work. He's home every night cooking dinner and helping out with Haliya, letting Sun focus more on her inventing. Ever since Krista's death, no one in town has stepped up to take over her title as Appaloosa Plains's only inventor. Sun is more than happy to oblige, turning her obsession into her profession.
Having something to do seems to take off most of Sun's edge, and combined with their upcoming wedding, she now hums as she walks around the house.
Paolo looks over his shoulder, "Dinner's almost ready."
She smiles, and he returns it, "Sure, be there in a few minutes. I need to clean up." She holds out her grease covered hands and gestures towards the bathroom.
Paolo nods, and returns his attention to their dinner. He's never tried making chilli before. He hopes it's not too spicy.
Not so outwardly happy about the recent change in events is Tula. She smiles and congratulates Sun on their engagement, but something about it falls flat for Sun.
"Are you alright? You seem annoyed with me," Sun frets. She badly wants to get along with Tula. Guy has proved to be non-hostile, if elusive, but Tula is a different story. She always seems distant, somehow. Not completely engaged or genuine.
Tula smiles, "Why would I be annoyed? You seem to make my dad happy."
"Well with the new baby around, I think everyone's been a bit stressed and tired. And I don't really know what goes on in my dad's head," Tula giggles, "I'm sure staying home from work is doing good for him, just like it did for you."
Sun stands up to clear her empty bowl away. Not having work to do was the worst.
The annoyance in Sun's tone indicates that this will be interesting. Tula looks up, alarmed, "What? What is it?"
Sun's eyes narrow, but she sighs. She's being paranoid.
"Look, I'm going out. Do you want anything?" she tries to change the subject.
"Well...remember that Valerian root? That chem experiment is coming up fast. I need to tell my teacher what plant I'm going to use soon."
Sun nods. There's one place she could try...
First she makes a stop by the junk yard. Buying scrap is expensive. It's far cheaper to dig through the junk piles, and sometimes she finds old furniture too!
Michael passes by, and raises an eyebrow. He's heard about Sun's engagement to that Winterly man, and seen her around town with that burgeoning belly. He's done the math...
But he shakes his head. That child is Paolo's, blood related or not. He doesn't need a kid weighing him down.
On her way back from dropping off her widgets for consignment, Sun stops by the potions shop. Valerian root isn't highly regulated, but you do need ID to buy it, something Tula doesn't have.
Sun makes the purchase and heads home.
After she gives Tula the plant, she beelines for the nursery.
"Aww who's a cute baby? You're a cute baby! Oooh my cute baby," Sun coos.
Paolo sighs, "She's my kid too. Will I ever get to hold her?"
Sun rubs her nose against Haliya's, "Daddy's being grouchy, oh yes he is, yes he is!"
Paolo leaves Sun and Hailya and heads downstairs. It's the night of the summer dance, the last high school dance Tula and Guy will ever have.
"Do you guys want to have a party? You know, invite a few friends over before you head off?"
Tula looks at her father and decides to indulge him. He's begun taking her needs into consideration. That deserves a small reward, right?
"Well, I'll see who's free..."
She chooses to invite their cousin, Gregory. Gregory, ever the sulky honors student, insists on doing his homework before they go.
"Do you even have a plant for chem. chosen yet?" he asks Guy, annoyed by his non-chalant attitude towards their classes.
"A rose, like everyone else."
Homework will have to wait. The teens change into their formal wear and run out the door.
Or at least, Tula does. Gregory takes so long to get into his suit that Guy has time to change back into casual clothes.
"Those pants made it too hot," Guy explains. He prefers his hoodie and shorts to stuffy formal wear.
Xara came to take photos of her "big man" heading off to the dance, and sways Paolo into throwing an impromptu party. The official reason to celebrate is their kids' impending graduations, but really, it was a nice evening. Should there be any more reason to let loose?
Xara smiles at her younger brother. She hasn't seen him so happy since Krista was alive.
"Where's Tulip?" Paolo asks. Xara made a fuss about inviting their sister.
Xara sighs, "All she told me last month was that she had to go to Bridgeport for business. I haven't heard from her since. Her phone just went straight to voice mail..."
Paolo nods. He suspects that the death of her second husband, Alexander, might have something to do with it too. Her first husband, Rodney, had passed away several years before, back when Tula and Guy had just entered high school. Tulip was in Bridgeport then, too.
Though he feels for his sister, empathising deeply for her loss, he decides not to think about her right now. He's here with Xara, having fun. That's something to be happy about.
"Ew, get away from me," Xara artfully dodges her former "brother-in-law", John Bedlington. Why is he even here?
The party goes well, and comes to a close only ten minutes before Tula and Guy return from the dance. Tula makes some small talk with her aunt and the parents of some of her classmates, but they leave not too long after. The pair helps themselves to the salmon and chilli in the fridge.
"So, do you think you'll ever get married?" Tula asks after a long silence.
Guy coughs, choking a bit on his food in surprise. "Uh...never thought about it."
"Not even with my dad and Sun having their wedding soon?"
"Uh, yeah, even then..."
"Even after living with a pretty girl your whole life?"
Guy chokes, coughing and spluttering.
"You're so easy to fluster!" Tula snickers.
Hearing her laughter, Guy smiles and chuckles himself. It was just a joke! Of course. No way that she'd be serious.
"Yeah I'd beat the shit out of myself if we ended up together," Tula says with a shudder, "being with you... ew."
Guy breathes a sigh of relief, "I know, right?"
"Hey, you sayin' I'm ugly?"
Guy makes a face of disgust, "You're basically my sister or my cousin or something. Gross."
"First cousin marriage is legal in some parts of the world."
Guy claps his hands over his ears, "Lalalalalala not listening!"
"Wow, real mature."
"I'll listen when you stop being gross!"
As her older siblings bicker downstairs, Haliya contentedly plays with her blocks in the study room. Some people just make their lives so complicated.
AN: Haha this outtake;
Tula and Guy are nearly young adults! I'm kind of sad that Haliya and Tula are so different in age, but the story actually works out better this way. In a few chapters, it'll be apparent why...