A/N: Sooooo. I'm pretty sure a lot of you (who actually know me) are in shock. If you don't - let me just tell you that if you think this chapter sucks you should just be glad that it exists so close to me putting out the first one. Which was a prologue, mind you.
Um, I don't think there's a lot I need to prep you for or anything. It's pretty self-explanatory. A little too much, I think ... but I'll shut up now.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters herein. They are merely based off of the characters which Disney owns. I am making nothing. This is for enjoyment only. (Original characters of Jeff, Nina, and Jason technically are mine though.)
Fourteen years later
Joseph Justin Richards woke up to the sun shining in his eyes, the sounds of his little brother and sister playing noisily in the hallway, and the hum of magic running through him. He rolled over and pulled the covers over his head. He didn't have to be awake for another seven minutes. Joe wanted to make the best of them. "Joe! Joe wake up! You've got school!" His mother's voice penetrated through his door too easily. He needed to ask his Uncle Justin for a spell to fix that. "Joe! Get up!" There was a loud crashing noise that almost made him want to get up, but his mother's voice cut in again, "JASON! Do NOT levitate your sister! Put her down! JOE!! Get out here and – oh my gosh NO!"
With the sound of his mother's footsteps retreating Joe buried his head in his pillow again, relishing the warmth.
Honestly, Joe would rather stay out of the ruckus Jason and Nina were creating than to use his magic and help. That was his mother's bribe for everything. If he helped her, he would get to use his magic to do it. This was not a selling point for him. Joe loved having magic, don't get him wrong, but he didn't want to magic everything. His Dad got along fine never having had magic, and his mom got along just fine even after she had lost her powers.
Every time he thought about it though, Alex, his mom, looked a lot happier thinking about when she could do magic, and he could always tell how sad she was over losing that privilege.
His mom started to pound on the door, "Joseph Justin you get up this instant!"
"Get up right now and help me or you are grounded mister!"
"No I'm not."
"I don't want to help, Mom, leave me alone."
"Your clock is wrong! You're late!"
"I'm up – I'm not helping!" he resisted the urge to sit up and yell back at his mother, knowing he was driving her crazy.
There was a relative quiet now, and Joe could actually hear his brother and sister running around the kitchen. Then right as he was about to close his eyes again, he heard his mother's soft threat, "If you don't get up and help me you are not going to Uncle Justin's tonight."
His door flew open suddenly and he was glaring at his mother's smiling face, "You wouldn't." She simply raised an eyebrow and watched as her tiny six year old ran past her, chased by her eight-year old brother. He sighed in resignation, "What do you need me to do?"
"Thank you, Joey Baby."
Joe sat calmly in the front seat of his the family van while being driven frantically to school. His mother had just dropped off Jason and Nina, or rather, pried them away from her legs at school. Sadly, this was a daily occurrence. His dad said it was because they loved their mother too much to let go, but his uncle Justin commented that it had something to do with not wanting to go to school and thinking they could convince Alex to not make them. Joe just thought they were being brats, and his mom never said what she thought, except to sigh in exasperation.
Glancing over at his mom, Joe was glad she was at least a little crazy. If she wasn't, he would feel utterly alone in the family. He had noticed a long time ago that his hair and skin were a lot darker than his siblings' were. Nina had a dark ash brown blonde hair that defied a color definition, and her face was full of her father's freckles. Jason had chestnut brown hair, and apart from that was Jeff's spitting image.
Joe, however, had his mother's jet-black hair and he seemed to have a permanent tan. He was tall and skinny, the exact opposite of his father's bulky build. His father and his entire extended family thought it was funny how he alone in the family seemed to resemble his mother overall. No one but him seemed to notice that it wasn't just appearance, though.
He always felt a little isolated when his dad would throw a baseball or a football around in the back yard and he only watched. When he was about five, Jeff tried to teach him about basketball, and when he failed, he tried football, baseball, and even golf. Joe wasn't good at any of those, and he was perfectly okay with that. What stung was how, before he had turned four, Jason picked up their dad's baseball, and started throwing it around (a little dangerously). Similarly, at Nina's fourth birthday fiesta, she stole and started to awkwardly dribble the basketball Jeff and some of his friends had been playing with.
Joe enjoyed playfully wrestling with and tickling his younger siblings and father, but nothing more serious than that. It was a fact that he felt hurt his dad sometimes. His dad, the all-star athlete of his high school and the freshman starter on his college baseball team, couldn't hide the pain in his eyes sometimes when he declined an offer to shoot some hoops or play catch. His brother and sister were always bugging him to do something like that; to the point Jeff signed them up for little league and the like just to shut them up.
Normally these differences didn't really bother Joe, but on some occasions he did feel guilty. His dad would ask, hope in his eyes, whether or not he wanted to shoot some hoops, one on one, or to play catch while they waited for dinner to be ready. He simply answered with a generic "I have homework", or "not right now, Dad, maybe later," but they both knew he was just being polite.
What did bother Joe were the few and far between instances where not only was he not included, but no one noticed that he wasn't. His father would assume his disinterest (even though sometimes he did like to play, if badly) and play exclusively with his brother and sister. Even though eight times out of ten he didn't want to go, he still appreciated being asked.
Looking back over to his mom, Joe realized that sometimes he felt like she was the only one in his family who understood him. She would ask him if he felt like playing ball when the rest had forgotten him, and when he was down she always managed to come up with the perfect way to make him feel better.
As she screeched to a halt in front of his school, he smiled fondly at her. "Thanks mom!"
She yelled out the window at him after he got out, "Don't forget – I'm picking you up a little late today and I'm gonna take you to Justin's – alright?"
He waved back at her, "Got it! Bye!"
She watched him disappear into the throng of teenagers, a sad smile on her face, until a mini-van behind her honked. "Geez! I'm going, I'm going… have a little patience!"
"Um, hi mom – I thought you were going to be late?"
"There wasn't enough time to be late – now get in."
Smiling, Joe climbed in. "If you say so."
"Just drive, mom."
"Where are we goooooing?" Nina asked as they pulled out of the parking lot.
"Uncle Justin's, stupid!"
"Mommy! Jason called me stupid!"
"I heard, Nina – but you are going home. Only Joe and me are going to Uncle Justin's."
"Joe and I," he corrected from the back seat.
"Oh, shut it Joe."
Nina giggled to Jason, "Mommy told Joe to shut it."
When Nina and Jason were finally at home, Joe moved up to the front seat. They drove on, Alex asking about school, and Joe asking about how her mother's day had been. He would never tell anyone, but he enjoyed this, and he usually wished that his Uncle Justin lived farther away. Especially since the closer they got to his house, the more closed his mother became. Her fingers tapped rhythmically on the steering wheel, and he noticed she would sporadically bite her bottom lip.
Once the car was in park, Joe got out of the car happily. Daisy was on the front yard, and so was Justin. "Hey!" He held back his mutt of a dog until Alex was safely out of the car too. "You're late." He told her, embracing his godson. "Hey, bub."
"Hey Uncle Justin."
"Now before you guys completely forget I'm here –"
Justin cut her off, "Hey Alex."
She let herself be hugged for a minute, a relieved smile finally washing over her features. "I'm sure he's got homework – but DO NOT let him do it!"
"I'm serious – and you need to listen too, young man." Joe tried to look innocently at her, "You can do homework at home, this is the time to have fun, alright?" She looked seriously between the both of them.
"No promises, mom."
"Alex, stop worrying. He'll be fine."
"I know he'll be fine," she sighed, glancing between the two, finally settling her gaze on Justin, "I'll be back to pick him up after dinner, and if I'm late don't worry. Jeff has been having some problems with keeping the terrible two in line."
Justin followed her retreat to the car, hugging her again quickly, "Okay, see you then," and he kissed her on the cheek.
As she drove away, Justin turned back to his godson, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and leading him inside. "So, bub – what's going on?"
A/N: sooooo, what did you think? I know what I think, and really - I think it's just not up to par because I have yet to get to the angst. Really. It's the only reason I can think of. Also, any questions, feel free to ask. I'll probably answer them. Please review!!