Time is Not Ours
“All right, let’s see….” You held up your list. “Bread, turkey, ham, cheese, crackers, grapes, pitchers of lemonade, blanket, umbrellas,” you paused, chewing your lip. “I’m forgetting something…..oh! The cookies!” Grinning, you peered inside the cookie jar, sliding a hand inside.
“Hey! Momma, you can’t have a cookie yet! Vatti said not ‘till we eat!” A young voice reprimanded. You chuckled and looked down at the sweet six year-old frowning at you. “But I want some now!”
“Sorry, Mommy, Vatti said nein!” The yound disciplinarian scolded.
Sighing dramatically, you lowered your head. “Awww…..okay, I’ll wait.”
Bright brown eyes twinkled with triumph as a large smile spread across her face. Although she was the louder of you two children, Emma surpassed any daughter you could have wished for. She was the perfect blend of you and your German husband, though favored Vatti over you. Not that you minded, because your four year-old Adler (named after his father and grandfather: Alaric and Ludwig) favored you. Adler was a sweet optimistic boy who inherited his father’s desire for order and his secret love of sweets. Emma on the other hand, inherited Ludwig’s fondness for animals and his gift of working with his hands. She loved following him around the house, imitating his every move, to the point that she would fall asleep on her “watch” and have to be carried to bed. Adler, however, was content to play by himself or with the dogs. He would entertain himself for hours by playing “Blocks” with “Ashter” or “Berliss”.
The blond-haired boy came into the room, tugging on your pants. You smiled and knelt down, opening your arms. Emma and Adler both ran into them, her laughing and him smiling. “I love you two. Ich liebe dich.”
The front door opened and closed. “I’m home!” The solid German-accented voice called out. A large thud echoed throughout the house, one which you realized as his briefcase reaching the floor. All three dogs leaped towards their master as Emma and Adler left your arms to go hug Vatti. “Vatti! Vatti! Vatti!” Emma shouted, tackling Ludwig. Adler hugged his father’s legs and smiled shyly.
“Hallo, prinzessin.” He smiled, wrapping his muscular arms around her. She giggled and reached up to kiss his cheek, laying her head on his chest. Carefully, he reached for Adler and scooped him into his arms as well. “And hallo Soldat.” He said, smile growing wider with each passing second.
“Vatti, now that you’re home, can we go to the beach now?!” Emma demanded, poking his cheek. “Mommy said we could once you got home!”
“Did she now? Where is Mutti?” Ludwig asked, setting them both down on the floor. Adler waddled off to the kitchen while Emma replied, “She’s in the kitchen! I caught her taking cookies when you said don’t!” she puffed her little chest proudly.
Ludwig chuckled slightly at the thought of his daughter rebuking ____ for stealing cookies. “Gut job. Here, take me to Mutti.”
While Emma and Adler left to go hug their father, you made the last minute preparations for your planned outing by the beach. It was your brother-in-law’s idea, and a good one at that. You had mentioned that a tiny family vacation would be nice, even if it was just for one day. Gilbirt had laughed and remarked that the beach would do the trick. “Emma and Adler will love it, and maybe West will too.” He had said. You agreed and asked if he’d like to come along. He agreed, saying that he would meet you at the beach.
Humming softly, you flurried around the kitchen, picking and shoving things into the basket. Several times, you almost stepped on poor Adler. Thankfully, Berlitz pulled him away in time. “Mommy! Vatti’s here!” Emma sang, pulling Ludwig by the hand.
You smoothed back your hair and smiled. Emma tugging on Ludwig’s hand was just too cute. Grinning, you stretched upwards to kiss his cheek. “Welcome home, liebe.”
He released his hand from the excited girl’s hand and leaned down, brushing his lips over your forehead. “Danke, _____.” Your hands snuck around behind his neck, resting on his broad shoulders as you lifted your chin for a kiss. He smelled like clean linens, meaning that he visited the dry cleaners before arriving home.
“Ewwww, Momma, don’t do that! That’s disgusting!” Emma complained, shutting her eyes. You laughed, leaning backwards while gliding your arms around his waist. “Emma, did you pack your things? We’ll be leaving in a few minutes.”
“I did! It’s by the door, beside Vatti’s briefcase!” She exclaimed proudly.
“Why don’t you help your brother pack? Help him, okay?” You suggested, motioning to the boy.
“All right….I’ll be back Vatti!” She called out while taking Adler’s arm and leading him back to his bedroom.
Laughing quietly, you reached for a Ziploc bag. “You’re her idol, you know that right? She came in here and scolded me for taking a cookie!” You mimicked her, putting your hands on your hips. “‘Vatti said we can’t have a cookie ‘till we eat!’ She really loves her Daddy.”
He smiled fondly, nodding. “Ja….ja, she does.” He rested his hands on the counter, eyes glazed over. The German’s mind travelled back to the past, when Emma was born. She had been the screecher of the two children. In fact, jokingly, ____ and Gilbirt had dubbed her “Screaming Eagle”. Alder, however, was the dream child. Strangely, he didn’t cry nearly as much as his sister, which was fantastic because Emma’s cries had nearly driven him insane. Every time either of them had cried during the night, he had reached for the pistol he kept in his bed stand drawer, thinking a prowler was in the house. That alone scared him, but thankfully, both children were past the wailing stage.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw ____ packing the picnic basket in an organized fashion. His sky blue orbs gazed at his wife’s face, a faint smile stretching his lips. _____ was truly unique. He and _____ had met by accident, really. Gilbirt had mentioned hundreds of times that he needed a girlfriend to help him relax, and suggested that Ludwig try a blind date. At first, he repeatedly declined, and would either change the subject or leave the room. But, he had to admit that deep inside his heart, he yearned for a family. He desired to arrive home and have his children tackle him the moment he stepped inside. He wanted a loving wife whom he could cherish and protect, one who nurture and instruct his children and (hopefully) treasure him as well.
After being prodded for three years, Ludwig agreed to go on a blind date. Gilbirt arranged it with Italy, and soon he was seated at a dining room, waiting for whoever it was to appear. Hours passed and still no sign of Ms. Mystery. A waitress walked by, asking him if he wanted something to drink. He declined and bit his lip, nervously glancing around the restaurant for any inkling that She had arrived. The waitress walked away, but returned moments later carrying a glass of water and a glass of iced tea. “Here, I’m sorry she hasn’t arrived yet. Don’t worry, these are on me. Let me know if you need anything.” Her hand squeezed his shoulder affectionately.
Ms. Mystery never appeared, and Ludwig couldn’t have cared less. While he was waiting, that friendly waitress checked on him several times, and during her break, she sat with him, waiting for Her to show. That kind, caring, compassionate waitress was _____. They had gotten to know each other over the course of seven years, and after waiting another three years, he finally proposed. _____ was better than he could ever imagine. She fulfilled all of his expectations and exceeded them in numerous ways. She was perfect for the job.
“How was work?” You asked while stuffing a Ziploc bag full of cookies into the basket. “Were you productive?”
Ludwig exhaled, shaking his head. “No….the boss came to me, demanding that I finish paperwork that would double my workload.” He rubbed his eyes and continued with, “I was half-way through when he called me back to give me more.”
Your eyes widened in alarm. “Are you serious?!”
“Ja. As soon as I left his office, he called me back saying to leave the stacks on my desk and I could go home. He said I could finish tomorrow.” He scratched his head, shrugging. “I don’t know why…”
You shut the lids of the picnic basket, frowning in confusion. Ludwig’s boss never allowed his subordinates to leave without completing their assignments. That was the reason he didn’t take you to dinner on your last birthday, he was working. “That is odd….I don’t eith-“ It dawned on you. Gilbirt did it. You shook your head thinking, I’ll tell him when we meet Gilbirt at the beach. “Well, let’s not worry about that now. Go get dressed so we can go to the beach, hmm?” You pushed him gently, reaching up to kiss his cheek. “And make sure you pack your swim trunks, sir. I wanna see them on you.” You added with a sultry tone.
His cheeks reddened at your implying words. Shaking his head, he flushed and walked away, mumbling. You snickered at his expression and followed to get your swimsuit.
“Are we there yet?!” Emma demanded from her car seat. “I wanna see the beach!” She whined, her brown ringlets soaring with each shake of her head.
“Shh, don’t wake up your brother. We’re getting closer. Just be patient, sweetheart.” You replied, not glancing up from your book.
Ludwig refrained a string of German curses from seeping out as he impatiently tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. It seemed like every human on the face of the earth had decided to go to the beach. At the moment, no cars were moving, which irritated him further. Adler seemed to be the only one not concerned, seeing as he was asleep. He was in his car seat, sleeping on his travel pillow while hugging his favorite stuffed animal (a dog named Wolf) tightly. His thumb was right beside his mouth, though he wasn’t slurping on it. His blonde hair was messy with the tossing and turning he did earlier. It reminded you of Ludwig’s hair after he slept.
“Emma Lynn, shhh!” You cut her off, glaring at her. “Your brother is asleep. If you’re bored, look out the window or color in your coloring book. Just be quiet.”
The line of cars moved forward two inches, as did your car. Ludwig sighed, shaking his head. “____, we never should have done this. All of these ver-“ he caught himself before Emma heard him and continued with, “All of these idiots on the road…” As his temper rose, German spewed out of his mouth while he drummed on the steering wheel.
After checking on Alder, your hand patted his knee. “Just be patient, they’ll move soon.” He shot you a “They better….” look before firing darts at the cars ahead. Emma sighed loudly, ignoring your warning and pulled out her crayons along with her princess coloring book. Adler shifted in his sleep, soon drifting back to his adorable snoring. You gave your husband’s knee a sympathizing squeeze before delving into your book. We’ll get there soon…..I hope.
In all, you spent about two hours waiting to squeeze through the traffic jam. Now, you were on the road, and everyone seemed in a light-hearted mood. Adler was still asleep, and Emma was coloring furiously in her princess book. You glanced up from your book to look at the stoic German in the driver’s seat. Ludwig’s temper had receded once vehicles started moving, and for that you were grateful. It would be miserable for everyone if he was grumpy while on “vacation”. He remained silent, keeping his eyes on the road.
You smirked, remembering the time that he drove you to the park. It was just the two of you, and you were newlyweds. You had found a cat, and brought it inside so his dogs and cat would have a new companion. He demanded that you return it where you found it. You were upset, partially because he shouted at you and partially because you didn’t want to give up the sweet animal. Once you had released the cat, he crossed his arms and waited for your apology.
Pouting, you mumbled an apology and looked out the window. He accepted and awkwardly patted your shoulder, apologizing for his shouting. His request for forgiveness struck your heartstrings, and you kissed his cheek, smiling. Relieved that you weren’t mad, he drove away from the park, towards home. On the way back, your hand slid into his, squeezing it tightly while pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.
The kiss must have startled him, because he immediately coughed. The car swerved violently as his face colored considerably while he regained his flustered composure. “W-would you st-stay on your own s-s-side please?” he stammered. You had complied, grinning slyly while glancing out the window. That was hilarious… you thought, laughing quietly to yourself. Still grinning, you returned to your book, slightly shaking with mirth.
“I see it!” Emma exclaimed, shaking Alder out of his slumber. “Look! There it is!”
“Ja, there it is.” Ludwig commented, keeping his eyes on the road. “We’ll be there in five minutes. Put up your coloring book and all of your crayons.”
“Yes sir!” She saluted and stuffed everything inside her pink bookbag. Adler yawned and rubbed his eyes sleepily.
“Good morning, love. Sleep well?” You asked, reaching an arm backwards to pat his lap. “Where’s Wolf?”
His bright blue eyes widened as he looked for his trusted companion. Wolf had fallen on the side of the minivan, just out of his reach. His chubby arms strained, but he couldn’t reach it. Tears started to form as he whimpered. “W-Wolf f-f-fell!”
“All right, shhh, calm down sweetheart. Let me see if I can reach him, okay?” You sent a look Ludwig’s way and stretched your shorter arms, trying to reach Wolf. After several attempts, you managed to snag it (after the car stopped at a red light XD) and handed it back to Adler. “There, okay? Just a couple more minutes ‘till we’re there!”
“Hey, Vatti, will you swim with us?” Emma asked eagerly. “Last time you couldn’t ‘cuz you and Momma were in the fire water!”
Slightly smiling at her description of the hot tub, he responded with a simple, “We’ll see.”
Sastisfied with that, she fired off another question. “Momma, did you bring my princess floaties?”
“Of course I did.” You jerked your thumb towards the back. “They’re in the trunk. We’ll get them once we get there, okay?”
“Okay!” She chirped.
At last, you arrived at the glorious beach. Emma was the first unbuckled (not surprisingly) and the first outside (also not surprisingly). She grabbed her pink backpack and started to skip away until Ludwig ordered her to wait. She stopped immediately and waited impatiently. “Hurrryyy Vatti! Hurrryyy!”
He grabbed the basket and umbrella while you helped Adler out of his seat and grabbed the sunscreen, towels, and bag with the floaties inside. “You can’t go play until Mutti puts sunscreen on you, ja?” He stated.
You flashed him a smile and led everyone to the bathrooms where Ludwig helped Adler into his swimsuit as you helped Emma with hers. Squirting a nickel-size amount into your palm, you rubbed sunscreen onto little Adler and grinned when you noticed that Wolf had a swimsuit on as well. “There you go, but wait for us.” You lathered it onto Emma, and then let them go play. Ludwig strolled out of the bathroom, raising his hand to shield his eyes. With a smirk, you crossed your arms and whispered, “You look good in your swimming trunks, babe. Need some help with getting the sunscreen on you?”
He blushed harder than the brilliant red of his country flag and shook his head. “Nein, but I think you do.” He snatched the lotion from you and lathered it onto you. Now it was your turn to blush. The way his rough hands glided….ah…..You grinned and once he was finished, kissed him. He kissed back softly, allowing you just enough time to retrieve the bottle. When he protested, you laughed and poured some into your hand. “Nu-uh, don’t resist. I let you have your fun, now it’s my turn.” Your palms slid up and down his muscular chest, outlining each muscle with sunscreen. Even though you had been married seven years, you nearly squealed or blushed every time you saw him shirtless.
Once you finished your work, you stood on your tip-toes for another brief kiss before walking to the water to find Emma and Adler. Emma was squealing on the shoreline while her brother was making sandcastles with Wolf. Ludwig set up the umbrella and spread out the blanket, promptly seating himself afterwards. You slyly slid behind him and stretched your hands, beginning to massage his tough muscles. Although you tried not to worry, you felt helpless each night when he would come home exhausted, hands frozen in a specific position from too many hours of work. He would always try to be cheerful and there for the children, but he would be too tired to play with them or you for that matter. You knew that he was working overtime to provide a college fund for both of them, and you were grateful that Ludwig was thinking ahead. But….your eyes drifted to the giggling girl and the building boy. Was it worth working through their childhood so they could have the best future opportunities? Was it worth sacrificing their adorable moments for the years of the future? You didn’t think so.
“Liebe....you work too hard.” You mumbled while kneading his back.
He sighed from pleasure. “Ah……ah…but if I didn’t….there wouldn’t be money to pay the bills.”
You could feel his body completely relax under your firm hands. It felt good to know you were helping his health. “I know that….but I meant the college fund.”
“What about the college fund?” A blonde brow raised as he watched Emma and Adler play.
“I…..don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that you’re looking ahead and preparing. I’m thrilled that you want to provide for their future-“
“Of course I do.” He interrupted, scooting away so he could face you. “They deserve the best.”
“But-“ You interjected, also sliding over to continue your work on his broad, thick shoulders, “I don’t know if working twenty hours a day is good for you.”
“I can’t help that, ____, my boss is the one who decides what I do and when I do it.” He shook his head.
“I know that! Just hear me out, hmm?” You heard louder squeals and saw Emma being picked up by her Onkel Gilbirt. Perfect. “Gilbirt is the one who called your boss. He knew that you needed a vacation, even if it’s only for a day. You’ve been working too hard. You’re stressed, and even though you think I don’t see it, I do. I admire the way you’ve tried to be happy and excited for Emma’s and Adler’s sake, but it’s not worth it. I don’t think it’s worth it to sacrifice their childhood years so they have a secure future. Now, I’m not saying you entirely abandon them, I’m just saying you’re working way too hard. I love you, and they do too. But, Emma’s six. She’ll be seven in October. Seven is only six years away from thirteen, and thirteen is the beginning of the “Teen Years”. Alder would be eleven by that time, and would be starting to like girls. They need you there to guide them through that. I already told you,” You paused, adding more oomph to your massaging. “Emma is your biggest fan, after me of course. You are her idol. Even though she doesn’t look like you, she acts like you, right down to a “T”. I love that. I’m so happy that she chose the right parent to model her life after.”
You kissed his neck and continued. “Ludwig, I’m just saying that I think maybe, it would be better to have you home earlier instead of you working extra shifts to pay for their college. That’s all I’m saying.” Your hands were now at his lower back, and were slowly working their way up. “I love you, and I don’t want you to look back at the end of their childhood with regret.”
Ludwig opened his mouth to reply, but was caught off guard by Gilbirt approaching with a singing Emma and a laughing Adler. “Mutti,” Adler began.
“Hey Vatti! Momma! Onkel Gilbirt is here!” She giggled as he scooped her off of the ground, holding her upside down. Gilbird, perched on his master’s shoulder, was wearing tiny black shades. He flew around and landed on Adler’s head, making him smile.
“Gil! Hi!” You grinned, standing up to embrace him. “How are you? You’re late!”
Adler sat by his father with Gilbird while Gilbirt laughed. “Kesese~ Awesome me got trapped in traffic. But I’m here now! I’m gut, how are you?” He enveloped you in a bear hug after setting Emma on the ground. “You’re looking good!”
Ludwig rolled his eyes, glaring at his older brother. You replied with, “Fine, actually. Yeah, we got caught in that traffic too, but here we are! All right, how does lunch sound? Then we can all play!”
“I wanna sit by Vatti and Onkel Gilbirt!” Your daughter sat down beside your husband and patted the spot next to her. “Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!”
“Pushy little girl, isn’t she, West?” He chuckled, sitting down. “Wanna sit next to me and your Mutti, awesome Adler?”
The boy nodded, scooting over to Gilbirt’s other side with Wolf. “Onkel G-Gilbirt, you like Wolf?” He asked, pointing to his best friend.
“Ja, I do! He looks like your father’s dogs! One time, when your Vatti was just out of highschool, he begged me to get him a dog! I thought about it and agreed, I mean, why not? So, we go to the pet store, and he wants the hugest dog I have ever seen! I asked the owner what the monster was, and she said that the dog was a girl, and was a St. Bernard. Your father didn’t want that one; he wanted a German shepherd puppy. Well, we looked all over for one and couldn’t find one anywhere! Finally, we were about to give up when the cutest little puppy bounced up to your father and licked his cheek. He laughed and hugged it as tightly as possible and kept it, he named it Berlitz. I bet you didn’t know that Berlitz’s middle name is Wolf!” He grinned.
Adler’s eyes widened. “Really?!” He hugged his Wolf tightly. “Cool…..”
“Yeah! In fact, Aster’s middle name is Awesome and Blackie’s middle name is Gilbirt. That’s how cool it is.” The albino flashed a toothy grin. His white hair caught the sun just right and gleamed. You tried not to grin at his “dramatic moment”. “Well, let’s eat, hmm? Here, Gil, you can fix your plate. Liebe, will you get Emma’s plate while I fix Adler’s?”
“Whadja bring, ____?” Gilbirt asked, lifting the lid.
“Supplies to make ham and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwiches, lemonade, cookies, and chips. Sound good to you?” You untied the bread twisty and pulled out two slices.
“Ewwww…..cookies sound good though.” He chuckled, teasing you.
“Well you’re gonna like it, or I’ll stuff it down your throat.” You replied, laughing while handing Adler his meal.
Ludwig fed Emma then passed you a plate while grabbing his. “It looks good, ____.”
“Danke.” You smiled as he started to create his sandwich. Emma and Adler finished first, immediately wanting to play with Onkel Gilbirt. Ludwig told them to wait, so they left to go play by themselves.
“Thank you for coming. You’ve made their day.” You smiled broadly, sipping your lemonade.
“Ah, no problem. I love the beach and my niece and nephew.” He stole a glance at Ludwig, whose mind was elsewhere. “West? You okay?”
“Hmmm?” He focused his bright eyes on his face. “Ja, I’m fine. Just…..thinking.” Pouring himself another glass of lemonade, he drank some while watching Emma help Wolf and Adler build a sand castle.
You bit your lip and decided to get the debate over with. “Thank you, for talking with his boss. He really needed this. We’ve enjoyed it.”
“No problem! West hasn’t taken a day off since….ah…since…..well I don’t know. You’re welcome.” Gilbirt fed the rest of his cookie to Gilbird who nestled himself inside his owner’s hair, falling asleep.
“…..So what exactly did he say?” Ludwig coolly retorted. “Is my job over? I’m not going to get to work anymore?”
“Nein! Don’t be weird like that, West! No, you’re going to work tomorrow on all those papers you had to do! Don’t play hooky!” His hand slid into the basket for another cookie.
Your hand reached for Ludwig’s, eyes flashing “Danger” at Gilbirt. But before you could scold your husband, Gilbirt stretched. “Well, I’m going to go play with the kiddos. Kesese~ thank me with beer later! Bye!” He sprinted into the sand, tackling Adler.
Now that his brother was gone, Ludwig turned his icy glare to you. “_____, I don’t think I have an option of not working so many shifts. Emma and Adler need education, food, clothes, a roof over their heads, besides, my boss won’t let that happen.”
“I’m just saying you could at least try! At least try!” You snapped, biting your lip. “You’re right, they deserve that. I’m just saying I’d rather have a father to hug and love than money for college.” You sighed, falling backwards. Your head landed on his lap, and your eyes gazed sadly into his before shutting to rest. A warm tropical breeze fluttered by, teasing the golden wisps of the German and the strands of your own.
“Couldn’t you try?” you whispered softly, rolling your head so it faced away from him. “Just….try?” You tried to stop them, but two tears trickled down your cheeks, splashing onto the blanket. The thought of your children growing up without a solid good father figure was too much to bear. Your eyes squeezed shut as you wiped away the tears. If only….
Ludwig’s large fingers threaded themselves through ____’s hair slowly, unintentionally coaxing her to sleep. He felt a mixture of emotions: secret gratitude for his brother working out this vacation, slight anger with _____ because she felt like what he was doing for his family wasn’t enough. He felt like screaming, because he worked hard from dawn to dusk every day, trained, came home and played with his children, kissed his wife, slept, and it started all over again. Of course he loved being with his family; Emma and Adler were the best children any man could ask for. He loved being with _____, the best wife any man could dream of. He even loved his brother, the idiot brother any man could ever want. But….he felt so….so helpless. He felt that everyone was blaming him for the failure. Adler and Emma would grow up to be crooks or thieves and get put into jail because he wasn’t there as a father. Ludwig sighed, raking his hand through his blonde locks and squinted at the sun. It looked like Gilbirt was coming back, alone. Worriedly, he scanned for his children, relaxing when he saw Adler and Emma asleep in his brother’s arms. “They fall asleep already?” He questioned.
“Kesese~ My awesomeness was too much for them.” The older brother replied, lowering the sleeping kids onto the blanket. “Is _____ asleep too?”
“Ja…..I suppose it’s the tropical weather here…” He remarked while drinking some lemonade.
“West…..I heard you two arguing….” Gilbirt crossed his arms and sent worried looks to Ludwig. “You….you know, I’d be willing to talk to your boss again. Anything.”
“I don’t think even you can change his mind about it. I don’t think he’d allow it…._____ makes it sound like it’s my fault.” The taller sibling sighed, rubbing his temples. “I can’t help it. Ja, I want to be there for my family, but I have to provide for my family.” He threw his hands in the air. “I can do it.”
Gilbirt laid a hand on his brother’s shoulder and sighed. “But…when you finally do it….will there be a family to provide for? West, you’re children are so big! And how much of that do you actually remember? Do you remember your last birthday? Do you remember Adler’s first words? Do you remember Emma deciding when she wanted to be like you? Do you remember your anniversary? I thought you were pretty lucky when ____ forgave you for working on her birthday. Let’s say,” He held out his hands. “This is your family now. In twenty years, where will you be? Answer me that.”
The blonde frowned, thinking about it. Emma….Emma would be twenty-six….Adler would be twenty-four….both probably married and starting things on their own…..leaving just he and _____.....
“Exactly. West, if you worked all that time, you wouldn’t be there for when Emma and Adler graduate from highschool, or their awesome sixteen parties, or even there for possibly your first grandchild. You….you can’t miss that, Ludwig. It’s too important that you’re there. I can’t be Vatti for you.” He swallowed and continued in a softer tone. “You’ve done a great job, providing for everyone. But now it’s time you provide for you. Cherish your family while you still can.”
You yawned, stretching your arms out as high as they could go. Your head was on the blanket, beside Emma and Adler. Frowning, you sat up, looking for Ludwig or Gilbirt. You stood, brushing yourself off to go look for your husband. “Ludwig? Ludwig? Where are you? Gil? Ludwig? Gilbirt?” Hands grabbed your waist from behind. You shrieked and started flailing. “GET OFF OF ME THIS INSTANT WHOEVER YOU ARE!”
“Kesese~ Calm down, sis!” He chortled, squeezing your waist tighter. “Ludwig’s over there in the shack. He’s on the phone with someone important, he’ll be back. Now! Let’s go swim!” He exclaimed, hoisting you over his shoulder and running towards the water. “Gilbirt! PUT ME DOWN THIS INSTANT! PUT ME DOWN!” You shrieked, laughing. “Put me down! PUT ME DOWN!” He laughed and started tickling your sides, grinning as your giggles spurred him on.
With an exaggerated, “Heave-Ho!” Gilbirt tossed you into the deep waters, grinning from ear to ear.
“GILBI-“ You screamed, being shoved into the water. When you surfaced, you glared at him. “Gil! You don’t throw people into the water!” Though it did feel good, despite your brother-in-law’s silly antics.
“Awww, but you’re not a people, you’re a sister-in-law! There’s no rule against that!” He chortled, overpowering you with a wave of water.
“Gilbirt!” You heard Ludwig bellow. “I got the muscle man on my side, dummkoph!” You splashed him back, laughing loudly.
“Nu-uh! I’ll tell West you kissed me!” Another wave of water washed over you. “He’ll believe that!”
“Are you crazy?! He won’t believe that! He knows I wouldn’t kiss an idiot like you!” You teased, shoving more water into his face.
“Ja he will! He believes anything I say that can’t be disproved! It’s true!” He turned around and screamed, “WEEEEST! ______ IS TRYING TO KISS THE AWESOME ME! SAVE ME!”
“You idiot!” You tackled him, sending both of you underwater. When you both resurfaced, you were giggling while he burst out laughing. “He’s going to kill us, you know that, right?”
Gilbirt wiped the water from his eyes and grinned. “Ja, but he’ll kill you more because you looked at another man!” He taunted, poking your side.
“No! He’ll kill you for even suggesting that I’d look at another man! Besides, who would I look at? Pff, who else has abs like that?” You tittered, splashing Gil. “Here he comes!”
“_____?! Are you all right?! Gilbirt didn’t do anything to you?!” Ludwig hastily swam over to your section of water, nearly shoving his brother aside to reach you. He swept you to his chest, hugging you tightly.
“No,” You gasped, “I’m fine, really.” You slyly smirked at Gilbirt. “But if you really want to know, your brother decided to tickle me and even tried to kiss me while I was in the water!”
Gilbirt shook his head. “NO! I DID NO SUCH THING! West, she’s lying!”
Ludwig sighed in relief that Gilbirt hadn’t forced himself on you and rolled his eyes. “All right, enough. ____, I….I have something to tell you. Ah….” He eyed his brother, who immediately dove under and swam away to give him privacy.
Once his brother was far enough away, Ludwig continued his speech. “____......I’m sorry….I…you were right.” He whispered, big hands cradling yours. “I…..I-I called um….m-my boss…..a-and he said h-he would allow me to….I….I-I can be there for you and the….Emma….and Adler…”
Your face shone with happiness at his simple confession. Gently your arms snaked behind his neck, tilting his head down. Your lips pressed against his chapped lips, connecting in a loving, passionate kiss. You could almost feel his apology seeping through him into you. His arms tightened around you, tugging you towards his chest. Despite how cliché it sounded, it seemed that Heaven opened and poured its blessings into the gentle kiss. You felt touched, deeply touched by the satisfaction of his apology. It deeply moved you that he meditated on it and mustered enough courage to ask. And to think that his boss agreed! That was enough cause for celebration! Somewhat reluctantly you separated for a bit. You rested your cheek on his firm chest, sighing. “Thank you….it means a lot to me….and to the children as well.”
He leaned his head down to plant a kiss on your head, but all of a sudden was completely overwhelmed with water. “Kesese~ Hey, West! Stop kissing and start having fun!” Gilbirt sang, twirling around. Emma and Adler were in his arms, splashing and squealing loudly. Ludwig let go of you to shake his head and smooth the water from his eyes.
“Hey, Vatti! Come play with us!” Emma yelled, splashing the water. You chuckled and swam backwards away from Ludwig in order to splash him as well.
“______!” He spluttered. Adler swam over (he was wearing floaties! XD) to you, hugging your arm. “M-Momma, h-hi.” He said, kicking his tiny legs.
“Hi, baby.” You kissed his head, soon shielding him from the wall of water assaulting Ludwig completely. Emma giggled loudly, slapping water everywhere. Gilbirt threw his head back, laughing while his brother growled, playfully splashing his daughter and brother.
You grinned as Adler, with the encouragement from his uncle, managed to attack Ludwig with water as well. It….it seemed so right….Ludwig laughing, Emma giggling, Gilbirt grinning, Adler smiling, and you beaming. That precious moment made you wish for this special bond time never to end. You prayed that this would be the first play time of many to come.
“You’re unusually quiet.” Ludwig whispered. “Are you feeling all right?” It was dark, and you had stayed at the beach till the sun set. Now, after saying goodbye to Onkel Gilbirt, you were travelling back home. Thankfully both Emma and Adler had fallen asleep, which meant the minivan was strangely silent. You hadn’t spoken much; just occasionally glanced at your husband before leaning backwards to check on the sleeping babes. Today….was perfect. Absolutely perfect. You thought, smiling. “Hmm? I’m fine…are you okay?” You allowed a hand to rest on his thigh, patting it gently. “How was your day?”
He smiled faintly, stealing a glance at you. “It…..It was wonderful. Wundebar.” One hand slid from the steering wheel to cradle yours, squeezing it lovingly. Beaming, you reached up to plant a kiss on his cheek and covered your connected hands with your other hand. “I…..I had fun too. Our first true family outing….the start of many more to come.”
Author's Comment: Did not realize that Emma and Adler act a looot like Chibi!Alfred and Chibi!Matthew XD I swear it's by accident xD