The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Thirty-Two

“Daaaaaaad, stooooooop!” Calcifer whined as I adjusted his tie. He swatted at my hands but I kept fixing until his tie was on properly. He immediately scowled. “How do I look? Stupid, right? I do look stupid!” he moaned when he turned to see himself in the mirror.

I smiled at his reflection, reaching over to smooth down his hair, or attempt to. He ducked out of my reach. “You look fine. How do I look?”

Screenshot-471

He eyed me carefully then grunted. “Good.” After a few seconds he added, “Happy.” Now I turned to the mirror, facing my reflection. I looked more nervous than happy, in my opinion. I reached up and began adjusting my own tie, wishing my hands would stop shaking. Calcifer reached over and took my hands in his. “You’ll be fine, Dad.”

Screenshot-472

It was the day of my wedding. The middle of September. We were all shocked when the leaves started changing color earlier than we’d anticipated. We had to scramble to get things organized. The certificate, the meetings with the officiator, decorations, reservations, clothes… Somehow, somehow we made it. And now it was the day of my wedding. I was getting married. Soon, I was gonna have a husband and be a husband.

There was a knock at the door and Penny came in. “Hello,” she said with a smile. “Calcifer, Kay was wondering if you could go see him?”

Calcifer was busy staring slack-jawed at Penny. “Uhhh… wuuuh…? K-Kay? Yeah! Yes. Yeah.” He stumbled out of the room, casting looks over his shoulder.

“You look lovely,” I told her.

Screenshot-473

Penny blushed, looking down at her feet. “Thank you. You look very handsome. So does Kay. So does Calcifer. Oh! Mr. Antonov is here with Misha.”

“Is… Jay…?” I started but Penny frowned and shook her head. My heart sank. Poor Kay, he had been hoping so much for his sister to be here. “Does Kay…?”

“He already knows,” Penny answered softly. “He’s upset.”

I considered going to the room where Kay was getting ready, pulling him into a big hug and promising him it’d be all right. I felt fury at Jay. She couldn’t take an hour out of her schedule to come see her brother get married? Even though she hated me… she should have been here, for Kay. Nothing you can do about it, I thought, trying to quell the anger.

After a moment or two Penny and Cal switched rooms. Cal was going to be on my side of the wedding and Penny was going to be on Kay’s side. The only people that were there that weren’t in the wedding or taking pictures was Kiev and Misha. I really wished some of my friends could be here. The Bee family, and Aiden Jones. But they had no idea about my age. I was slowly losing contact with them because of my transformation to being young again.

Screenshot-474

“You ready, Dad?” Calcifer asked me.

I blinked, wanting to say yes, wanting to say no. Wanting to go to that archway, wanting to run away from it. I was so full of mixed emotions that all I could do was stand there with a dry mouth and my heart about to split my chest open. Calcifer came around behind me and gave me a little shove towards the door. I stumbled and then was able to move on my own.

“I love him,” I said when I got to the door. My palms were soaked in sweat so there was a couple of failed attempts to get the door open. Cal had to come forward and open it for me. “Thanks.”

“Dad…” He looked up at me with an anxious look. I wondered if he was going to try and talk me out of this, or say something not so pleasant. But instead he gave my arm a pat. “You’re making the right choice. Kay’s like, perfect for you.”

Screenshot-475

I grinned and gave him a half-hug, not wanting to wrinkle out suits. “Thanks.” With that I stepped outside, heading towards the seating area. There were loads of seats but only one taken. It looked a bit pathetic. Calcifer muttered something about how Jay-the-bitch wasn’t there and I had to give a little hissing/shushing sound.

Screenshot-476 Screenshot-478

I went to the archway, getting there just in time to see Kay emerging from the building he had been getting ready in. My grin went wider as I watched him nervously come forward. Penny was with him, beaming at Cal, holding some flowers. Kay met my gaze, smiling as well now. I reached out for him and his hand slipped easily into mine.

Screenshot-480

“You look so handsome,” I whispered.

Screenshot-481

“You d-do t-t-t-too,” he stuttered back, squeezing my hand tightly.

I just kept staring at him, not wanting to look away. The officiator began speaking but I just kept looking down at Kay. His big green eyes focused on my purple ones, and everything else just sort of went blurry. We stood in the fog for a long time, just holding hands and barely being aware of our surroundings until our names were mentioned.

“Jacob Danevbie,” the officiator said in a voice that made me suspect he had said it a couple times in a row to get my attention, “do you take this man, Kaleb Redding, to be your lawful wedded husband. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better for worse, until death do you part?”

Screenshot-495

“I do,” I said clearly and loudly, with no hesitation.

“And do you, Kaleb Redding, take this man, Jacob Danevbie, to be your lawful wedded husband. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better for worse, until death do you part?”

Screenshot-496

Kay’s fingers tightened around my hands. “I do,” he said in an awed tone.

Screenshot-490

Screenshot-492

Screenshot-477

I couldn’t help but give a sort of choking, laughing sound. I wanted to kiss him right then but I knew we had to wait a few more minutes. We had to say our vows, first. We had written our own. It had taken me a long time to come up with mine and they sounded so stupid as soon as I began talking.

Screenshot-487

“Kay,” I said, reading off the little note card I had in my pocket. “The first time I met you  I just thought you were some kooky mad scientist. Going on about aliens.” He chuckled at that. “But I could see you were passionate. About your work, even as weird as it was to me. We only knew each other for about nine months back then and little did I know you gave me one of the best things in my life–our incredible son. When you left I figured I’d never see you again. But you came back into my life, to save me. I didn’t know that you would end up saving me in more ways than just my physical health.”

My voice was becoming a bit cracked now as I tried not to get teary-eyed. “We’ve had some ups and downs since we got together. There will probably be plenty more in our lives but I know we’ll make it through. You are one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. You are so passionate, and kind, and so… so smart. I often wake up wondering how I had gotten so lucky to have you be my friend, my lover, my partner. My everything.” Now I was crying. “All I’ve ever wanted in my life was someone to share it with. To have a family with. To grow old with. And today I am the happiest, luckiest man in the world for that person to be you. You are everything I could ever hope or dream for.”

Screenshot-485

Kay had a few tears in his eyes as well and he sniffed loudly before he began talking. He spoke slowly, carefully, trying his best not to stammer. “Jacob. This day means more t-to me than I ever thought it would. Growing up I never imagined myself m-married. I always th-thought I had more important things to d-do with my life. But… when I met you… I fell in love. The moment we m-met, as if–as the sky opened up and the Watcher p-pointed down at you and said ‘that’s him, that’s your guy’.”

Kay reached up and wiped his eyes at that, and I had to wipe my own as well. “I never thought we’d b-be together. It was heartbreaking t-to have to sign that stupid contract and–and know I’d have to w-walk out of your life, because all I wanted was to be in it. But I left… and… one day I got a visitor…” He stopped and then gave a nervous chuckle. “A sign, so to s-speak. To come back to you and h-help you. To t-try and fulfill the f-false promises that had been unfairly made before. When you agreed to come back to Twinbrook with me I… I lied about something.”

My eyebrows raised high at that and even the officiator looked surprised. Kay began blushing. “I t-told you I had a house w-with two extra bedrooms. I d-didn’t, at the time. I only had a s-small one bedroom house. But I s-sold it and bought a new one because I w-wanted you to stay with me.” He was brilliantly red now and I was trying not to laugh, wanting so bad to hug and kiss him at this confession. He had freaking bought a house to get me to stay with him. “You did stay. I never w-wanted you to leave–even after all th-that time apart I still loved you will all my heart. I… I always thought you were out of my league. You are s-so vibrant, and open, and compassionate, and l-loving. I never thought in a million y-years you’d want someone like me.

Screenshot-479

“But you did.  You said you were the lucky one but in t-truth I am. You let me be in the one place I w-wanted to be. Your arms.” I smiled through the tears at that, tightening my hold on his hands. “And now we’re going to b-be sharing the r-rest of our lives together. I get to b-be part of your life, and part of our son’s life.”

Kay paused and now he looked down. “Since I was a v-very little child all I w-wanted was to see the universe. And now I have it.”

Screenshot-488

It was all I could do to force myself not to fling my arms around him and kiss him. It took a lot of willpower to take Kay’s wedding band from Calcifer so I could put it on Kay’s finger, murmuring the words, “With this ring, I thee wed.”

Screenshot-493

Kay took my ring from Penny and put it on my finger. “With this ring, I thee w-w-wed.”

“Be there any here who sees why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace,” the officiator said and I could feel Kay’s hands tighten hard around mine. I knew what he was afraid of. It was the same thing I was afraid of. His sister showing up and protesting our marriage.

There was not a sound to be heard, except the traffic in the distance, the wind rustling through the trees, and some birds cawing. Not even Misha made a peep.

“Then by the powers invested in me,” the officiator said and it was like a burst of flowers and beauty within me. “I now pronounce you man and husband. You may now kiss the groom.”

Screenshot-497

I yanked Kay against me and kissed him hard on the mouth. My husband. My husband. WE WERE MARRIED!!!! I kissed and kissed and kissed, then dipped him down low and kissed some more. Even when the officiator announced us with our new names, I didn’t stop kissing.

“I present to you, Jacob and Kaleb Danning.”

Screenshot-500

There was cheering from Cal, Penny, and Kiev. I finally–finally–released Kay’s lips then pulled him upright. We grinned at each other and then I laughed a bit. He giggled too and then leaned forward to kiss me again. More cheering. Even though it was only three people, the cheering sounded so loud to me. Like the entire world was cheering for us.

Screenshot-505

We finally went down past the chairs and then, at the end of the aisle, paused again to kiss once more.

“Husband,” he whispered, arms around me.

I pressed my forehead against his. “Husband.”

Screenshot-514

*

We had the reception there since the wedding was so nice. Kiev went to get food for ten, since there were eight of us. The officiator, of course, as well as the photographer who took pictures throughout the dinner.

Then we cut the beautiful cake, carefully feeding each other. Kay gave me a slightly nervous look when I reached the cake up to his mouth but I didn’t jam it in, I just carefully slid it closer so he could bite down. He did the same for me, and then the cake was cut for everyone.

After the cake, Kay set up a new stereo system he had bought then put in the CD mix we had made. It had taken us a long time to decide on what song to use for our first dance, since we didn’t really have a song. After much searching we found the one that was perfect for us.

Screenshot-518

Shadows all around you as you surface from the dark emerging from the gentle grip of night’s unfolding arms. Darkness, darkness everywhere, do you feel all alone? The subtle grace of gravity, the heavy weight of stone.

Because we had both been so alone, and thinking we would just go on being alone. Because we had both believed we weren’t good enough for the other. Especially Kay. He really saw himself in such a poor light…  doubting himself, always unsure about his decisions…

Screenshot-523

You don’t see what you possess, a beauty calm and clear. It floods the sky and blurs the darkness like a chandelier. All the light that you possess is skewed by lakes and seas… the shattered surface, so imperfect, is all that you believe.

He was so wonderful and so incredible. I didn’t care that he insisted he was lucky, I was the lucky one.

Screenshot-519

I will bring a mirror, so silver, so exact. So precise and so pristine, a perfect pane of glass.

 I wanted him to know this, to know how much I loved him. I wanted him to feel loved every day for the rest of his life.

Screenshot-520

I will set the mirror up to face the blackened sky.

Because he had shown me what love was.

Screenshot-521

You will see your beauty every moment that you rise.

And I never wanted this to end.

Screenshot-524

~

Author’s note: the incredibly beautiful lot was made for me by Scarlett! Thanks darling, it was perfect ❤ The music is performed by the very talented Sharonasims! Thanks for letting me use it in this chapter!

Screenshot-507

Screenshot-525 Screenshot-526 Screenshot-529 Screenshot-530

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Thirty-One

School was out for the summer, and Cal got his permit. He kept wanting to go drive, so I found myself at home alone a bit more than I would have liked to be since Cal, Penny, and Kay were usually off after Kay got home for work.

“Just me and you, big fella,” I said, jiggling Misha on my hip.

Screenshot-223

“Enga,” he said back. I just smiled and smoothed down his hair. He was babbling quite a lot lately. He was just about three months (a little over), so it wasn’t too unusual he was making sounds. It was still super weird. Last baby I took care of was Cal and it took him so long to babble, and very long to start talking. I could remember all the panic I had gone through… but he turned out just fine.

“A bit unruly at times but it’s my own fault,” I said.

“Mmmeeeeh,” Misha whined.

Pretty soon it wouldn’t be like this. At least, I was unsure about this. Kiev wanted to take Misha semi-permanently. He said he would keep Misha nights and weekends (which drove home to Kay the fact his sister lived, or at least worked, nearby). “You gonna sleep all night like a good boy for your daddy?” I asked, tickling his tummy.

Screenshot-224

Misha giggled, a bit of drool falling. I used the corner of his blanket to wipe it clean and then went to settle on the couch. All right so part of me was scared of what would happen after Kiev took Misha. Because that meant Kay and I completely alone in that bedroom again. Completely. We hadn’t talked about how things would… go. I assumed I’d still be in there, as there was no where else for me to be.

Alone. With Kay. My fiance.

Alone. With Kay. And that bed. That big, soft, comfortable bed that felt so wonderful when we shared it in the cold, winter months. His body and mine… under the covers… snuggled… naked…

Oh Watcher.

I shivered and turned my attention away from the thoughts of sex, trying to focus on other things to get rid of my now aching boner. Nothing worked. I finally had to put Misha in his crib and go and get a quick, cold shower. So my hair was still damp when everyone returned.

Screenshot-225

“Have a fun drive?” I asked, kissing Kay.

“It was great!” Calcifer exclaimed, punching the air. “I love driving! I can’t wait to have my permit, so I can drive on my own!”

I gave him a quick glance. “Well, we’ll see. It is Kay’s car.”

Calcifer scrunched his face up and then sighed. “Yeah, but–hey, if I get a job this summer and save up could I get a car next summer? Please? I’ll save as much as I can then next year if I’m a little short, you could pay it and I’ll keep working and pay it off? Pleeeease?”

Up went my eyebrows, down went the corners of my lips. “I don’t know. That’s a long way off. You could get a job for the rest of the summer and save up, that’s always good to do. And then–well, we can see when your sixteenth birthday rolls around.”

Screenshot-226

Cal did a funny little dance then flung his arms around me, hugging. “THANKS! I’ll work hard, I’ll save up, you’ll see!”

“I could do some work maybe to help too,” Penny offered.

No way!” My son shook his head enthusiastically. “If you work, you keep your money but you don’t need to work or anything, I mean you’re still getting used to being, y’know… not a doll and everything.”

Screenshot-230

Penny looked like she wanted to protest but then she gave a sweet smile. “All right. But perhaps next summer I could do some work. I really want to help out. I know I am being a… a… a…” She reached up, scratching her head in confusion. “…a freeloader. That’s the word, I think.”

“You’re n-not a freeloader,” Kay said, finally speaking up since he got home. “I hope you d-d-don’t feel that way.”

She shrugged, toeing the ground. “I know I don’t contribute much to the house…”

Screenshot-231

“You contribute everything!” Calcifer yelled, and Misha began whimpering. Cal ducked back, fingers to his lips, looking a bit ashamed. “You contribute,” he said again, this time softer. “Definitely not a freeloader, if anyone is it’s me.”

I turned my head to try and hush Misha, mostly so Cal wouldn’t see my very amused smile.

*

When Kiev started taking Misha in at nights, things changed a bit. Not much. But when there wasn’t a baby to take care of after dinner, to feed and change and snuggle… I felt a bit empty. Okay, I felt a lot empty.

I smoothed down the blanket still in the crib before I decided to do to my bed. Kay was still up, fiddling with something on his bedside table. He saw my movements by the crib and gave me a small smile. “M-miss him?”

Screenshot-232

“I’m sure he’s happy with Kiev,” I replied, going to my bed and sitting down.

“That’s n-not what I asked…” He came over and sat on the bed next to me. At first his hand jumped slightly when he touched my hand but then he settled it carefully over mine.

Now I sighed. “Yes.”

I felt his lips brush against my cheek. “We’re a-alone.”

“Ahhh…” I faced him then looked past him at the crib before I went a deep red.

Screenshot-233

“So I w-w-was thinking we c-could talk.”

I blinked, having expected a more physical activity. “About–what?”

He rose to his feet and began pacing. I could tell by the face he was making that he was uncomfortable talking about whatever was going on in his mind so it was a bit difficult not to feel anxious. I stood as well, going over so I could take his hands. He squeezed mine tightly before looking into my eyes. “We’ve b-b-been… engaged… a f-few months now. Three and… and a half.”

“Yes,” I said, not entirely sure where he was going with this.

Screenshot-234

One hand moved through the air as he spoke, the other one still holding mine. “We haven’t r-really talked about… a we… we… wedding…”

I swear my heart just about jumped out of my throat at that, in a good way. Was he really wanting to talk about the wedding already? “Oh?”

His loose hand settled against my chest and he stared intently at my throat. “Can… c-can it be… soon…?”

Whoa. I honestly wasn’t sure if I had heard right. I swallowed, just very slightly tightening my hold on his hand. “Did–you said–um–did you–“

Screenshot-235

He smiled. “Yeah. Um. I s-said… soon… I mean! I mean, if y-you want to. If you d-don’t mind. Of course.”

“No! I mean yes! I mean, no I don’t mind, yes I’d… I’d like that.”

“You w-w-would?”

Screenshot-236

“Of course I would.” I kissed him full on the lips, a long, sweet kiss that I didn’t want to stop. But I had to stop it to keep talking so after a good while I finally pulled back. “I would,” I said again. “I love you, Kay. I want to be married to you.”

“I w-want to be married too.” His eyes were back on my throat, and I realized that by not looking into my face it was easier for him to talk about this. So as much as I wanted to look into his eyes while we discussed the idea of a ‘soon’ wedding, I’d much rather him be comfortable.

“How soon?” I asked. “I mean, when–how–errr…” Calm down, Jacob, remain calm. “What were you thinking?”

“Autumn?”

If I had been having a drink it would have been spit out all over him. I must have made a face because his head jerked up as fear covered his face. He took a step back but I quickly regained my wits. “This autumn?” I asked, pulling him back against me.

“No! N-no, of course n-n-n-not,” he squeaked.

Screenshot-237

I grinned. “You, dear, are a terrible liar.” I kissed the tip of his nose and watched him blush. “So wow. This autumn? As in…”

“I d-d-dunno, I… I k-kinda… l-like the idea… of wh-when… the trees… are ch-changing…?”

I sucked in a deep breath. “So October. Mid-October or la–“

“Nnnn…” Kay made a really strange, whimpery sound. I tilted my head and his eyes flickered away as his face went even redder. “L-last year it w-w-w-was early October, r-r-r-remember?”

I thought back and began nodding. The leaves did change color a bit earlier in Twinbrooke. “So, early October…”

Screenshot-238

“No, it’s j-just a silly thought, we c-can wait till… n-next spring, if you like,” he said, looking all anxious.

“Early October,” I said again. “Or late September. It’s not something we can plan perfectly.” Oh Watcher that was… three and a half months. Three and a half months. Three and a half months. “Are you sure?” I managed to ask. “I–I want you to be sure, darling, I don’t want you to feel like it needs to happen soon.”

Kay pulled away and I didn’t try to keep my hold. He wandered a few feet away, his arms around his body as he stared at the wall. “I d-don’t feel rushed. I know… w-waiting… is perfectly f-fine. But… when you p-proposed to me, it was… it m-made me so happy. And these p-past couple of months I j-j-just kept thinking ‘I w-want to be married to him’ I k-kept thinking ‘I n-need to be’.”

I covered my mouth, feeling very emotional at those words. I rushed over and just grabbed hold of him, pressing my face into the back of his neck. “Kaleb…!”

Screenshot-239

He twisted in my arms to face me and we kissed, for a very long time, our bodies pressed together as firmly as our lips were. I really had no idea how many minutes went by before we parted. I clung to him still though, not wanting his body to be away from mine. “I want to be married to you too,” I murmured.

We just held each other a while longer and then got back into talking. Because there was a lot of talking that needed to be done. We spent an hour talking, making decisions about a general date which was either the last week of September or first week of October and where it’d be done, and who could be officiating, and all those sorts of things. I had thought about weddings before, a loonnnnng while before.

Outdoors, for sure. Because the changing of the leaves seemed to be very important to Kay to the point of I agreed if the leaves started changing earlier, we’d get married sooner. I really had no idea why it was such a big deal for him and when I asked, he didn’t really answer me other than mumbling something about change in his life.

Screenshot-241

We needed to find someone to officiate… but who could do that with a flexible schedule? We also needed to figure out who to invite which we didn’t really discuss at great length. I didn’t really have any friends to invite (I thought about Aiden Jones but he hadn’t seen me since my youth potion intake the previous year, we only communicated by phone really) and Kay… well… I highly doubted his sister would come to the wedding. I wanted Kiev and Misha there and when I suggested it he seemed okay with Misha but growled softly at the idea of Kiev being invited.

So that was pretty much Cal and Penny for certain, Kiev and Misha possibly, and Jay would be invited but I knew Kay was going to just be disappointed at her not showing up.

That would mean catering wouldn’t be too difficult, in fact we could probably just have some ordered food and it wouldn’t be much more than what it cost to normally eat out… though we would be getting a cake. A place for the reception? Nothing fancy, really. We couldn’t rent any place…

Screenshot-242

We eventually went to our beds though it took me a good long while to get to sleep. We might as well just have the reception here, I thought. We could move the furniture for dancing… I drifted into sleep with thoughts of the wedding filling my head.

*

“WHAT?” Cal shrieked. “THREE MONTHS?!”

“A-and a half,” I said nervously. I was tired and dizzy.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep at all, and had to wake up early to get breakfast for Kay and prepare for Misha’s arrival. Now it was almost lunchtime and I was ready to fall asleep any moment except my mind was just going fifty million miles. So many things were just pounding in my brain.

Screenshot-243

Cal looked around then put his hands on his hips. “Why d’you wanna get married so soon? It’s been a year since we came here and–just a few months since you proposed. Jeez Dad, you’re going fast.”

“I love him.” Maybe it was a bit fast. Was it a mistake? It didn’t feel like a mistake. I never felt like this before… that was a good thing, right? It felt different in a good way.

“How d’you know you’ll feel the same next year? Or ten years?” Cal muttered.

I lifted my chin and stared into my son’s face. “You’re right. I don’t know that. I can only go on the feelings I’ve been having and have right now. If you just go by ‘what if in the future’ then why risk love at all, or even make friends? How do you know Penny will still be your friend next year?”

Cal’s entire face went dark. “That’s d-different! Penny is… we’re… she–and I–well–that’s different.” He pouted for a few seconds then said, “Marriage is a big step.”

Screenshot-249

I raised my eyebrows as if to say really? Was I getting this lecture from my teenage son? “I am well aware of marriage being a big step, Calcifer. I’m completely aware. But…  I love him. I do. Completely. I–“

“Okay! Okay, Dad, I just… want to make sure… you’re making the right choice.”

“Kay’s the right choice,” I said, truly meaning it. Cal just made another face and went off grumbling. I pulled my legs up onto the couch and hugged them against my chest, a moment’s thought to the fact I could do this again without pain. Married life… happiness bubbled up and I smiled. I was going to be a husband.

Screenshot-250

I need to get him a ring, I realized with a start. I never had an engagement ring for him, and I needed to get wedding rings too. Well, take him shopping. Well… go shopping with him. Who would be paying for what? Oh Watcher, we had so much to plan for. No champagne toasts though. DEFINITELY no champagne toasts.

*

June began going by a lot quicker than I thought it would. Cal was quite grumpy for the most part, complaining often of the upcoming wedding. Kay worked a lot more than usual, putting in a lot of overtime at work. He wouldn’t get home until quite late. So Calcifer and Penny were left to do some babysitting with Misha often when I had to put in my part-time hours, or just Penny at some times since Calcifer got a job as a bag boy at the grocery store.

Because of our previous work hours usually one adult was home with the kids but now this worried me. Penny seemed to do well and Cal mostly seemed well (except he kept calling Misha ‘pup’). I got my summer hours switched around so I worked mostly weekends and late nights. So now there was an adult home at all times except I barely got to see Kay. So our planning barely proceeded,.

June turned into July and now that began passing by. Kay continued to work hard, I continued to work late nights and weekends. We would sometimes get breakfast together and a few minutes each night. Kay was in bed by the time I got home but he was almost always still awake.

Screenshot-251

“Have a g-g-good evening?” he inquired.

“Mmm,” I replied, going over to bend down and kiss him. “I’m so tired…”

“You should go to b-b-bed.”

I shook my head and slid into the bed next to him. “No, I barely saw you today. I miss you.”

Screenshot-252

“I m-miss you too.” He looked down and sighed. “M-maybe we should push the w-w-wedding back.”

“Nono!” I snatched his hand up and kissed his knuckles. “No. No, besides we don’t even know when it is yet. We’ll keep it for the leaves changing. That will be beautiful. I’m excited.”

“But we hardly g-get to see each other,” he pouted.

Screenshot-253

I kissed him on the lips again. “It’s just for the summer, though we do need to work on plans and get things sorted. What about next Wednesday? I don’t need to work that night.”

“No, I p-promised to stay late. Wh-what about Thursday? I c-could take that day off, I think.”

I frowned. “I doubt I could get the night off, that’s when the canned goods come in so I’ll need to do a lot of shelving. But that’s in the night so we could spend the day with plans.”

Kay gave me a big-eyed look. “But you’ll b-be so tired! We have to go r-running around all day.”

Screenshot-254

“I’ll be fine,” I promised, though I wasn’t completely sure about that. I had been really tired with watching Misha all day and working late at night, but I had to be okay because we had to get this done.

*

That Thursday was a super long day. We had to find a place for the ceremony, and we finally found a small park whose owner agreed to let us use the park without much advance warning, as long as it was during a weekday. It was strange but I figured our sexuality helped as the owner kept gushing about how progressive he was and asked if he might use one of our wedding photos on his website, which we agreed to.

So after a few hours of running around and walking a lot of places we then went to a ring shop. We talked about rings and it was his decision to not use engagement rings as it was so close to our wedding date. So instead we looked at wedding rings and spent an exhaustive hour choosing. We chose simple gold bands with the infinity symbol engraved on the inside. We considered having our initials in the loop but I wasn’t really sure if that would be a good idea as they’d be J and K…

Screenshot-261

We went to City Hall to get information about what we needed–how much identification we needed to get our certificate type of thing and when to get it. Within two months of it being used, so we decided we’d get our certificate in mid-September. We went to a florist to put in flower orders, and a bakery for a cake.

We had more we needed to do but it was late, and even though we had constantly swung by the house to make sure things were okay, we needed to get back to Misha. I wanted to fall into bed but I needed to get a shower. I was going to make dinner but Cal and Penny pushed me out of the kitchen and fixed dinner themselves (hot dogs and mac and cheese, but still it was extremely thoughtful of them). I was able to lay down for a little bit before having to get to work.

I worked from seven to midnight, got home, gave Kay a goodnight kiss, then fell into a deep sleep still in my work clothes.

*

Screenshot-255

Calcifer seemed to be acting odd as summer progressed. He’d slink around the house, play music super loud, and was very touchy about me going anywhere near his room. I was worried he was back in his grouchy-angry-pissed-at-us-marrying state but he didn’t seem to be especially mad at Kay. Penny, on the other hand, was extra sweet. She helped more around the house than before, ignoring me whenever I asked her to just relax.

“You need to have time to relax, sir,” she said as she cheerfully wiped down the counters. “You’re very busy, and you have a lot of planning to do. I don’t mind helping with what I can.”

Screenshot-256

She was a lifesaver during those weeks. July soon melted into August, with September careening towards us. I began to feel panicky. A wedding. So quickly. What the hell was I thinking? Did Kay really want this? Could I make him happy? What if he panicked more than me, and woke up one morning deciding he didn’t want to get married. The things Jay once told me started to haunt my dreams. That I couldn’t understand him, I wasn’t right for him. What if she was correct…? He was so much smarter than me. Brilliant. Beyond genius. What if he changed his mind.

I began to have panic attacks. I didn’t tell anyone about them, I didn’t want Kay to know. Memories of that night on the beach with Nicky played over and over in my head. Kay agreed to marry you, I tried to remind myself. But what if he backs out? said a nasty voice somewhere in the dark depths. You’ve only been like this a year, not even dating a year, a year is nothing, you waited longer to propose to Nicky.

Because of money issues. Money wasn’t an issue right now. I was ready to marry within a year before.

Screenshot-257

But she turned you down. Kay will turn you down too. You’ll get to the wedding arch and he’ll run off. Or not even meet you there. He’ll just go back to working for his sister… he deserves someone better than you… someone smarter… you’re a complete dribbling cucumber-brain compared to him…

I wanted to talk to Kay, but didn’t dare. He was doing what he needed to do for the wedding so he still wanted to marry me.

Yes but you’re keeping your cool, and secretly panicking like this. Kay probably is too. He’s probably hiding his fear from you. That smile is fake. He’s realizing he’s going to chain himself to you for ‘life’ and not go through with it, he doesn’t want you, Jacob. Nobody wants you. Nicky didn’t want you. Not even your parents wanted you.

That wasn’t true. Nicky may not have wanted me but my parents–… Kay wanted me. Kay loved me.

You think he does, just like you thought Nicky did.

No. No. No! Kay loved me. He did.

Screenshot-258

You thought Nicky did.

I know Kay does.

You knew Nicky did. You thought. You were WRONG about her and you are WRONG about Kay.

Screenshot-259

I curled up on my bed, and spent the next hour crying into my pillow and trying to ignore the nasty voice, trying to ignore what it was saying… even if it had a bit of truth in there. I did think Nicky loved me. I was so sure of her love. What if I was wrong again…?

The Danning Beginnings – Chapter Thirty

Misha’s crib did stay in the living room that night, though not for the reasons Kay had originally wanted. Cal and Penny were both shocked when I brought the unconscious Kay inside and Cal actually helped me get him to his room. Penny took Misha while Cal got the crib into the living room while I stripped Kay down to his boxers. After cleaning off his face, setting his glasses beside the bed, I put a kiss on his forehead and took my bedclothes out into the living room with the intention of sleeping there. Since I didn’t want Misha’s crying to wake Kay up.

Screenshot-15

“Tonight… surprised me,” I said honestly. The drinking thing wasn’t too shocking, the type of drunk he became was. I was still aching from our, ah, encounter. “Do you mind watching Misha a bit while I shower?”

Screenshot-16

Cal and Penny shook their heads, so I crept into the bedroom to get clean pajamas so I could get a cold shower. I turned on the water and then sank to the floor, wrapping my arms around my legs, the events of the evening finally truly catching up to me. I got all shaky and feeling kinda sick myself. Not from what Kay did, but how close I had been to giving in. The first time in my late teens and early twenties I had been a lot better at sticking to the idea of no premarital sex. Had Nicky changed me? Because if Kay hadn’t been so drunk (and still for some reason came onto me like that) I probably would have given in.

*

I made pancakes in the morning, regular, chocolate chip, and blueberry. I hadn’t slept very well at all, having extremely wet dreams all night long. I wound up having to take another shower before I started breakfast. The rest of the males in the house were asleep but Penny was up, sitting at the table and working on some homework, occasionally asking me something. I gave her a much help as I could but to be honest the schoolwork the kids were given nowadays was a bit confusing.

Screenshot-17

“Should I wake Calcifer up?” Penny asked.

“Nah, it’s Sunday. Let him sleep in. But you can get him,” I added with a laugh as we heard Misha’s ‘I’m hungry’ sniffly sounds he made. Penny set her pencil down and happily went to take care of the baby.

Shortly after, Kay woke up. He shuffled into the kitchen looking really awful. Before he could say anything I fetched him a glass of water and some asprin, which he gratefully gulped down. “M-my head hurts,” he moaned.

“You were pretty drunk last night,” I said as I made some coffee.

Screenshot-19

There was silence and then Kay whimpered. “Oh. Oh n-n-n-no. I w-was… wasn’t I? Oh no! I… I d-d-d-didn’t do anything… st-stupid… did I?” He was looking at me with an expression of terror.

I leaned back against the counters, not wanting to say anything in front of Penny who was burping Misha just on the other side of the doorway. “Nothing… too bad,” I finally muttered and he went pink.

“Did we…” His whisper trailed off into silence though his lips kept moving.

I went over and bent down, kissing the top of his head gently and very quietly saying, “We didn’t do anything last night.” His entire body slumped as he breathed a sigh of relief. “But, we do need to talk.” At that his body tensed up.

“I’m s-s-sorry. For wh-whatever I did last night, please–please d-d-don’t hate me.” His voice was squeaky and fearful.

Screenshot-22

I realized my choice of words and wanted to punch myself. “Not like that!” I said swiftly. “No, Kay, nothing like that. I love you.” I kissed his head again and then went to finish making the coffee.

“I l-love you too, so–it’s n-nothing bad?”

“No, just… since you have no memory of last night…” I poured a cup and began stirring cream in it, adding Kay’s favorite type. “I just think you should know.” Because if I didn’t tell him, and he remembered then I knew it would cause awkwardness between us. I set the cup of coffee down and then got us both some pancakes. “You feeling all right?”

Screenshot-18

“I w-will, after the m-meds help and oooh coffee, w-w-wonderful coffee.”

It was a while before we could talk. Cal woke up soon after Kay started his breakfast and moped around the house, grumbling and muttering to himself. Then he and Penny left for a walk so I had to take care of Misha who decided he was going to cry about everything. He was fed, had a clean diaper on, burped, didn’t have a fever or anything… I finally decided he was crying just to cry and left him in his crib until he cried himself to sleep.

By that point the kids had come back and Cal–who had skipped breakfast–was starving, so I fixed him brunch. Then I went ahead and did my morning chores, fixed lunch for the rest of us, took care of Misha, and finally in the early afternoon was able to sit down with Kay and inform him about what had happened.

Screenshot-23

“So… wh-what happened?” Kay looked all fearful as we sat on the edge of his bed.

“Well, uh, you did certainly surprise me with–with–well. I wasn’t expecting, um, you to be…” I tried to figure out a decent, nice word to use but gave up trying. “Horny.”

Kay went multiple shades of red. “Oh Watcher. I’m s-s-s-sorry. I–I’m sorry.” He pressed his hands over his face and his shoulders shook a bit. “I don’t even r-remember.”

“It–you just… really… seemed intent. That’s all.” Maybe I wouldn’t tell him the last bit.

But then he gave me a look and said, “I know th-there was m-more to it than that.”

“You really want to know?”

“Y-yes.”

Screenshot-24

I shifted my weight around, exceedingly uncomfortable. Why? Why was I so uncomfortable saying this to my boyf–FIANCE! He was my fiance. I shouldn’t have any trouble saying this sort of thing to him. But for some reason I was. “You uh, you uh… uhhh… gotmeoutofmypantsand–” Then I just couldn’t. My face was red, his was red behind his hands, and it was just awful.

“I d-did?” It didn’t help he was now peeking out with wide eyes. “Th-that’s not as b-b-b-bad s I w-was thinking, I’ve s-seen you be–“

“You put me. In. Your uh, mouth.” I waited for him to get all upset and flustered but all that happened was he got up and tried to leave the room without a word. I jumped up and took hold of his waist. “Kay–“

“Noooo!” he wailed, wriggling. “Stop! L-let me go!”

“It’s not that bad–“

Screenshot-26

“Y-yes it is! Let me go!”

“No!”

Screenshot-28

“Nnnnng!” He wriggled so much he was now facing me, and I was holding him close. So I kissed him. He stopped struggling for just a second then began struggling again. “You sh-should hate me, I t-tried to take advantage of you!”

“No you did not! You were the one drunk out of your mind. I was almost completely sober. I was glad it was stopped when it did.”

Now he stopped struggling again and stayed stopped. But he was looking at me with slight suspicion. “Did you n-not like it?”

Screenshot-29

Really? Really? “Jeez, Kay, of course I liked it. I loved it. But you were drunk. What I meant by being stopped was… if you had kept going, it would have been difficult for me to stop it. It was… ohhh… very… very enjoyable. Very. But you being smashed is not how I wanted our first time to be.”

“Oh.” He looked down but thankfully didn’t start the wiggling again. “Me either.”

“And I knew you’d regret it. Just as I would have regretted it, if that had been our first time.”

He looked up into my face and said, “I d-don’t deserve someone as g-good as you.”

“You deserve the world,” I said and kissed the tip of his nose before kissing his lips.

Screenshot-31

“I s-suppose saying you are my w-world would be corny.”

I let out a low chuckle and tightened my arms around him. “Yes. Very corny, very cheesy. But very sweet. You and Cal are everything to me.” I nuzzled him and then couldn’t help but laugh again. “I was going to say something about hopefully having kids one day but I keep forgetting we already do. So I guess I should say… kids we raise together.”

Screenshot-32

He nodded happily and we kissed again, and again before Misha began crying for something. “Though as much as I love babies, it is nice when kids are past this phase,” I said, going out to the living room to scoop Misha into my arms, and he quieted at once.

*

Regardless of the cheesy ‘you are my world’ line, things did get rather awkward between me and Kay. I slept out in the living room a couple more nights and used the excuse of wanting him to get rest and being with Misha.

Screenshot-33

“You two breaking up?” Cal asked on the fourth morning of me being in the living room. He looked quite hopeful.

Calcifer!” I was so glad Kay wasn’t around to hear that. “I love him. All right?”

“Remember before you started going out with him and you gave that big spiel about how you wouldn’t date someone I didn’t want you to date? That my happiness and comfort meant a lot to you?”

My stomach churned at that. Oh yeah, I had told him that. “And I said I hoped you’d be understanding,” I added. “I know he’s made you mad but–you can’t… go back and change what’s been said or not said. But you can help make our future easier. I’m not saying to just… accept him as your other father but… don’t condemn him for his mistakes.”

Cal folded his arms and glowered at me. “He should have–“

Screenshot-34

My patience snapped. “Yes! He should have! Everyone should have done something at some time. There are a LOT of things I should have done. But you know what? Time machines don’t work that way!” I moved closer to Cal who looked a bit terrified at the look on my face and the tone in my voice. “I should have told you the truth about the fact I was the one pregnant with you, but I didn’t. I intended to but things just didn’t work out that way. You condemning me forever for that?” I didn’t give him any time to respond. “People make mistakes, Cal.  But think long and hard whether that mistake is worth destroying happiness over.”

“Dad–“

Screenshot-39

“I love you, Cal. I do. But I also love Kay. We are getting married. And I just wish you could accept that.” I turned and went into the kitchen. I turned on the water and began filling the sink up with hot, soapy water. As soon as there was enough I plunged my hands in to start scrubbing the three dishes waiting to be clean. I scrubbed the fork over and over until one of the prongs bent slightly.

“Dad.”

The rest of the prongs bent. “What?” I asked, trying not to let the incredible anger leak into my voice but judging by the sharp hiss I heard from him I didn’t keep too good a reign on the anger.

Screenshot-41

“Can I be in the wedding?”

I whirled so fast I sloshed a lot of water onto the floor. “You want to be in the wedding?” I asked.

He nodded, facing the floor. “I’m… not just gonna… be happy. About him. But. You’re right.”

“I am?”

“Jeez, Dad, don’t make a big deal of it!” he snarled. “I guess you’re allowed to be right once in a while. But don’t, you know, go on about it. I’ll… I’ll not be… all… happy family. But. Yeah. Whatever. Oh Watcher, stop!” he whined as I hugged him. “You’re getting my shirt wet! You should’ve dried your hands off! Aw, Dad, come on. Stop, someone might… might see.”

Screenshot-42

I released him but couldn’t stop smiling. “Sorry.”

He grumbled, fixing his shirt and then mumbling something before going to his room. And after that things were a little better. He actually talked to Kay without any prompt and some of the times he was somewhat nice. There was still some tension, we all knew that, but at least Cal was beginning to try and accept Kay.

*

Kiev came and visited his son a lot, and I started to get to know him a bit better. Calcifer really seemed to like him too. Kay, however, didn’t. He’d grumble for a long time when he knew Kiev was coming, and grumble for a long time afterwards (I think he was just still in shock his sister had had an actual sexual life). Then there were the occasional times Kiev would take Misha overnight. I knew by now the labs were very close, definitely not the distance Kay used to assume they were. I wasn’t sure if he still did or not but I never brought it up. Because the labs being close meant his sister was always very close but just never visited.

Screenshot-45

The nights Misha was gone were nights Kay and I would go on dates. We went to a couple clubs but I never let him touch alcohol. He never asked for me to be the designated driver, and I suspected he was a bit afraid of what might happen if he got drunk again. I, however, would have a drink or two but never enough to make me more than tipsy.

These dates were wonderful and after clubbing a bit we’d park somewhere and make out. One of these nights a cop stopped by (we were just off a country road and our windows were all fogged up) and we got in trouble. It was so strange. The cop demanded our IDs, and tested Kay’s alcohol level because it was obvious I was on the not-quite-sober side of things. Thank Watcher my age was already 21 and not 20, because otherwise things would have been a lot worse.

But we were both ’21’, Kay was dead sober, and all the cop could do was tell us to move along which we did–both of us giggling like teenagers. “We just got in trouble with a cop for necking,” I said as we drove home. Kay had to pull over almost right away because he was laughing so much. I began laughing too, and then we wound up making out once more.

Screenshot-46

This time without a cop telling us to get on home.

*

All Cal could talk about during May was the fact school would be out soon and he would be fifteen and he could get a permit. I felt dizzy and sick at the realization of Calcifer driving. Penny never mentioned getting a permit and when Cal asked her, she shrugged and said she wouldn’t need one. “Maybe when I’m older, but right now I think I’ll pass.”

Screenshot-47

I could tell she was nervous about the idea of driving. She seemed to have a slight fear of a lot of things. Actually, pretty much everything she hadn’t already done. Probably due to her previous state of not being human… but none of us tried to push her into doing things, except sometimes Cal when he wanted to go do something. Of course he didn’t really need to push. Penny was happy to do things with him. Any time spent with him, she was over the moon about. And Cal was over the moon being with her. I did wonder if they were dating yet but neither said anything about being girlfriend and boyfriend. I didn’t ask, knowing it would be intruding on their privacy. As long as they stuck to their own bedrooms at night or when Kay and I were both gone, it didn’t bother me.

“Dad, you’ll teach me to drive?” Cal asked the morning before his birthday. “Right?”

Screenshot-48

“Y-yes,” I said, the dizziness coming back sharply. “I could. But it might be better if Kay does since it’s technically his car.”

Screenshot-49

Cal’s face fell just for a second or two, then he smiled. “KAY!” he shouted, and I winced at the noise. “HEY! KAY! WILL YOU–“

“Watcher, Cal! Go in the other room to talk, not shout!” I snapped.

Cal gave me a guilty smile then took off to the living room. I shook my head and Penny giggled. “He’s just so excited,” she said. “He will be fifteen tomorrow. It is strange to think that.”

Screenshot-51

“Fifteen years…” It was very strange indeed to think that. Fifteen years ago–pregnant, alone, scared, shunned by the town. The twins having been in so much trouble. In fact, the next day… would also be fifteen years since Kay and I had said goodbye. Both of us assuming forever. Then another thought crowded out that memory. “Say, Penny, when–when is your birthday?”

“I don’t know,” she said with a shrug. “When I was in my doll form I seemed to age up when Calcifer did as well. When he turned thirteen and did the special age up, I did as well.”

“So tomorrow would be your birthday as well,” I said.

Screenshot-54

She smiled. “I suppose so. I also suppose we won’t know, officially, until Calcifer and I turn eighteen.”

I decided to change the small party into a double one. After they went to school, and Kay went to work, I put Misha into the stroller and we went to the store. I had no idea what to get Penny. She never asked for anything, although… she did express some interest in art. Finally I settled on an easel and a small gift card for a store that sold a variety of things.

*

Screenshot-56

Penny loved her easel as well as the art supplies Kay decided to get her to go with my gift, and Calcifer totally flipped over the guitar Kay and I had gone in together for. He crushed me in a hug and then hugged Kay just as tight. He jumped around then took the guitar and began strumming it. I tried not to flinch at the terrible sounds he was making, and hoped we could afford some lessons so we didn’t have to listen to–to that.

After a moment or two he set the guitar down and handed Penny a small box. “Happy birthday,” he said.

She took the box and beamed, then handed him something. “Happy birthday to you too, Cal.”

Screenshot-57

I looked at Kay curiously and he nodded slightly. I had given Cal money to buy Penny something but I hadn’t even though of Penny gifting Cal. Thankfully, Kay did. Penny opened a very pretty bracelet and Cal opened a leather jacket. A leather jacket. I shot Kay a look but this time he avoided my eyes. Cal flipped again and wrapped his arms around Penny.

“Wow thank you! This is–this is amazing!!!”

“The bracelet is beautiful,” she said, sliding it on her wrist while Cal pulled on the jacket. They looked at one another and then both went red, turning their heads away. He quickly took hold of his guitar and began strumming it again.

Then he set it down with a frown. “Hey, uhhh, Kay, can I ask you something?”

Kay looked very eager and happy. “Of c-course,” he said. I was trying to hold back my glee that Cal was talking to Kay.

Screenshot-61

“Well. I’ve been wondering, um, today and stuff how you, uh, felt. About. Me.” He mumbled the last two words so much that I only just made out what they were. “When–well, you found out… about me?”

Kay sat back, eyebrows high. “I w-was there when you were born,” he said and Cal’s mouth opened.

“He saw you before I did,” I added with a slight smile.

“Jacob pa-passed out,” Kay continued. “My sister and I c-came in and had to perform the c-s-section right there in the house.” He leaned over and patted my knee gently. “He was out of it f-for quite a long time. I remember… my sister… opening him up and p-pulling you out.”

“Ewwww,” Cal moaned, making a face.

Screenshot-62

“She h-handed you to me. I cut the c-cord and cleaned you off and…” Kay gave me a quick glance before blushing and focusing on his hands in his laps. “It was hard. Kn-knowing–well, thinking I’d n-never see you again.”

I reached over and took Kay’s hand. “I remember asking you about the other parent and you wouldn’t look at me. You know,” I added, turning my gaze to Cal. “He also bought me your crib, and some baby stuff.”

Screenshot-59

Kay blushed. “It was the l-least I could do. I wanted to do s-so much more but was limited by the c-contract Jacob and I had both si-signed. Oh! But to answer your q-question, what I felt…” He trailed off then squeezed my hand tightly. “I felt… anger. At the f-fact I wouldn’t be around. I felt pain. I felt j-jealousy.” He said that bit more towards me than to Cal. I scooted closer to him and put an arm around his waist. “But I also f-felt so much joy that you were alive, and s-safe, and I knew Jacob w-was going to be a w-wonderful father.”

Screenshot-58

“Yeah, he is,” Cal said then glared at me when I grinned. “Don’t, y’know, gloat about it or anything, okay? Jeez.”

“And wh-when I saw you again… last year… I f-felt a lot of pride. I still d-do.”

Cal went dark red and began focusing on his guitar again. He didn’t argue or complain, like I knew he would have if I said that. I wanted to say that but kept my silence, just holding onto Kay, feeling like things were getting a lot better.

*

Kay indeed started giving lessons to Cal. He offered to teach Penny too but she shook her head, opting to stay at home with me and Misha. Not that there was a lot to do. One of the days I suggested a walk and so we got Misha ready and Penny pushed the stroller as we went down the sidewalk.

“Have you been enjoying the art stuff?” I asked.

Screenshot-60

“Oh yes, it’s been nice,” she said brightly. “Calcifer said my artwork is very good but I know he is just being nice. He said maybe–oh. Never mind.”

“No, what is it?”

She stopped the stroller and went around to crouch down, making sure Misha was still fine. Considering the fact he was sound asleep, he was fine. She fussed with his little jacket and made sure the pacifier was at hand. “It’s nothing really,” she muttered.

“You can tell me what you want,” I promised, a bit worried about what my son was telling her. Wild thoughts ran through my head, each of them worse than the one before and most involving things I didn’t want my fifteen-year-old doing.

“He s-said maybe I could take art classes.”

Oh. “That sounds great!” I exclaimed.

Screenshot-63

She looked up, eyes big. “Really? I mean, I know they cost a lot of money–I mean, I think they do.”

I shrugged. “If you want to take art classes we could probably work something out.”

Penny was beaming, her turquoise eyes sparkling. “Thank you, Mr. D–um. J-Jacob.” She began pushing the stroller again and she looked even happier than she did before. I smiled, stuffing my hands in my pockets and walking a bit behind. Of course my thoughts from before came back in my head.

Screenshot-64

I wasn’t stupid. I would be verrrrryy shocked if Cal’s mind was as clean as mine was when I was his age, and mine hadn’t exactly been clean. I just really hoped that if he was, ah, entertaining any ideas so to speak that he kept those ideas to himself.

Question for Dannings

Been two months since my last update. Ugh.

So I’ve been thinking. Polychromeward Bound has been easy for me to write and it is in part the chapter length or rather not worrying about chapter length. My question is… should I shorten these chapters a bit? Not worry about chapter length? I want to work more on this and I’m wondering if chapter length will help. I do love writing long chapters but I’m thinking maybe this will help.

I will say this means the chapters might be anywhere between 2000 words and 5000 words, and that’s just a general idea. I have a couple chapters written already in the usual 4,200 average area. Would you mind if the chapter lengths are varying?

So to be clear on what you’re voting for: YES = write the length you want. NO = keep the chapter lengths consistent.