Maurice groaned as he was pushed from his dreams. He woke to find his sister and little brother already dressed and ready for the day standing over him.
Maeter, who was the one shaking him said, "Come on Maurice! You need to get up or we're all going to be late!"
Linke added, "Yea and Grandpa Axel will be really mad!!"
That last part made him practically jump out of bed, not that his grandfather had ever mean to them without reason, but that he didn't want to disappoint the man that had taken them in.
The other two left for breakfast as he started to dress. The room that the three of them shared was big enough to house the younger sibling's bunk beds and his own bed plus dressers for each, but besides that it was too small to have much of anything else. But despite this their room was bright and comfortable, with posters and canyon drawings covering the walls and a low window that let the sun in every morning.
He finished dressing and left their room into the garage, this is where his adopted grandfather worked and made a living for them. It was empty now so he could see to the other side of the shop were a window allowed him to see his family finishing up their breakfast in one of the other rooms that surrounded the outside edge of the garage. He ran across and opened the door into the enclosed room and was greeted with a finger flicked over his forehead.
"Now why are you sleeping in when you have school to get to?" Axel said low but sternly.
"I'm sorry I just …" Maurice stammered.
But Axel broke him off, "I don't want hear it. Now eat your food before it gets cold and makes us late."
Maurice, thanking how lucky he was that his Grandfather was in a good mood wolfed down the food as quickly as he could despite it still being quite hot.
Later as they drove to school they listened to the radio. A report on an Earth exploration team and a military recruitment commercial played on the only station they could find without any of them really listening.
But as the weather report came and went to a close they all suddenly became very aware of the radio's message. The news said that tonight would be a full moon and that the city would be observing a lights out policy for the two hours it would be at its peak. The children all looked at each other and smiled.
Axel in the front chuckled to himself and looked at Maurice, "So I guess we'll be up late tonight….."
Maurice got the hint, "I won't be late for breakfast."
Axel got out so that the kids could squeeze out of the back of what should have been a car meant only for two.
He then looked out towards the center of town. The tower stood tall amongst the city and surrounding towns making them pale in comparison. Another civilian transport was flying in from one of the other towers towards the top of the tower, he thought to himself of when the transport with them in it would come.
Just then a kid on a ref board flew over him and just barely grazed his head causing him to almost fall face forward. "PUCK KID GET BACK HERE!!" Axel yelled as he caught himself.
The kid realizing what he did quickly banked hard to reach the other side of school but lost his balance and landed sliding on his side. He quickly recovered, grasped his board and ran off before Axel could get to him on the ground.
As the kid ran off Axel quietly recognized a similar situation with a very similar boy running away.
Sumner was waiting for Ruri to show up….again. "What is taking her so long?" he thought to himself. He was sitting in her, well their, favorite ramen place.
The old man that ran it was an acquaintance of theirs and was always happy to serve them some of his famous ramen. "Your friend is very rude to keep an old man waiting." the chef said.
"Yea well that's Ruri for you." Sumner replied. "Course she could be a bit more considerate. Besides it was her idea to come here after all this time." he thought to himself.
The dinner was small with just enough room behind the stools that someone could pass without bothering the other patrons.
"Hey do you have a restroom?" Sumner asked.
"What, you haven't even eaten yet. Why do you need to use the bathroom?" replied the old man.
The real reason is that Sumner had just run his fingers through his hair and realized it was a mess. He needed to fix it up considering it was just him and Ruri here.
"I had a big breakfast I just need to go." He lied.
"Well there's one in the back but it's not used often so be sure to wash your hands." the old man said over his cooking pot.
Sumner got up and went to the back of the shop. The walking space became very enclosed as he entered the back are of the building. His shoulders where rubbing against both sides of the hall.
"No wonder nobody bothers to use this bathroom." Sumner thought to himself as he noted the blown out lights that would have lit the cramped hallway. He finally came to the bathroom door, as he opened it he was thinking that he may as well use the facilities before taking care of his hair. But as he looked into the room he noticed a silhouette against what could have been the light from a flashlight.
It was binding down looking like it was pulling something up its long legs. But soon it turned and noticed him.
"Sumner you pervert you will never change!!" it yelled at him.
Sumner jumped back causing him to hit his head against the wall behind him.
"Stop looking and close the damn door!!" it continued, still screaming.
Sumner with his eyes closed felt for the door and slammed it shut.
"Was that Ruri?" Sumner thought through the pain in the back of his head as he quickly walked back to the front of the store.
"What was that all about boy?" the old man asked through his window.
Sumner sat down without saying anything, still holding his head.
"Found your girl huh?" the old chef said with a smirk on his face before returning to his work.
A few minutes later the chef served out the food to Sumner. He sat and stared at it not thinking of starting before Ruri showed up.
Just then a slap to the bump on his head renewed the pain in his head. Ruri sat down next to him and prepared to eat.
Sumner holding his head again asked, "Ruri why did you do that? How was I supposed to know you were in there?"
Ruri then gave him a look that was neither angry nor playful, but both.
He knew that look, she knew it was an accident but wasn't going to let him off because that's the way she was, sadistic. He knew this wasn't going to go away soon so he just started eating.
Before long Ruri was just going on her second bowl as Sumner had just finished his first, how she ate so much and never gained any weight was beyond him.
Not that he was complaining, she was beautiful to him. Tall and slender, wearing those long jeans that showed the shape of her perfect legs and the red sleeveless top she always wore showed off many more curves. But mostly he loved her face, how her brown eyes were so wide and full of life and how her short red hair framed it in such a cute way. Recently she had been wearing it out free. It went straight down to her shoulders then split off in every direction at the ends.
Suddenly he realized that he was staring at her, and that she was staring back at him.
"What are you looking at?" she said with sweetness in her voice that made him feel off centered.
"I… um… well you look good today…" stammered Sumner.
Ruri blushed a little, of course Sumner didn't notice as he was sure she would think he was referring to the incident in the back of the store. But then the entire world went blank as he realized she had leaned over and kissed him.
They stayed like that for a while till a gruff voice called over the counter, "Hey now none of that here I get few enough customers as it is without you two scaring them off!"
The broke, and faced the old chief. "Sorry about that. I'll go get the vehicle started, it was good to see you and have some of your amazing ramen sir!!" said Ruri quickly before she skipped out the door.
Sumner couldn't get his mind out of the clouds, but then he realized that today was her turn to pay for the food! He sighed as he realized that this was the price for the quick forgiveness she had given him. He paid the man and said his farewell and left the shop walking out onto Ramen Street.
As he walked down the road to where he had left the truck he noted that the place hadn't changed since he first came here. A bunch of meager looking buildings all packed together with signs for their food fluttering before them. Trash was floating around on the ground all over the place. But it was early morning, so only a few people were walking the streets at that time but during what was called the lunch rush this place was usually packed, or so he was told.
He turned the corner and found the truck running as Ruri said she would get it to do. It was huge white and green, very impressive to look at.
But it also cost a ton to fuel, but it was the only way they could get around with the two LFOs they had between them.
He kinda laughed when he thought of that little kid he met because of this thing. "Wonder what Doggy is up to right now?" he thought to himself.
Then Ruri stuck her head out the passenger window and yelled "Sumner hurry up we need to get to the other side of town quick, the air conditioning is acting up again!!"
After recovering from his surprise of her sudden appearance he walked over to the driver's side wile mumbling to himself, "Yea, yea…" He climbed up the ladder and opened the door of the truck to find Ruri sitting in the passenger's seat with her shirt half open fanning herself with some paper napkins from the ramen shop.
They looked at each other and smiled. She then winked at him causing him to blush red. So much so that he didn't even notice the heat of the engine as it warmed up the cabin of the truck as they drove off to the other side of town. The sun was bright; it made the window glare brightly and made the rings on their fingers sparkle.
Axel was sitting in his office chair having one of his guilty smokes. His office was messy now but it had been far worse after the explosion that destroyed the entire shop a little less than two years ago. It had taken him forever to reorganize his business especially after it had been blown to kingdom come.
That first year after Renton left had been hard for his old bones. He and his business partner Digger had been forced to live in secret as they had helped the Gekko-State in their war against the military. Not that he cared for the group's objectives but when Renton had gotten involved he couldn't help but care for his safety.
After the world had practically ended for the second time in his life because of the Second Summer of Love he found that he had been exonerated of his crimes and so then he was able to return from exile to his home in Belleforest.
He was able to pull some strings and get his garage rebuilt thanks to the help from some of his most loyal customers.
But then, the single one person he never wanted to see ever again appeared. Holland and a couple others showed up at his garage and told him the story of how Renton had sacrificed himself, becoming one with the control cluster along with Eureka. That destroyed him inside, his last descendent was gone before him, and his entire family was gone again.
But then Holland introduced him to his great grandchildren, and as he took them in some of the happiest days in his life followed. They made him feel younger than he had in a long time; he truly loved them as his own great grandchildren. But secretly he wished to see his grandson and Eureka as well despite what Holland had described to him as a now way back scenario for both of them.
He built them a room within the garage with the scrap left over from their "father's" old bedroom. Taking care of one child was plenty for him, but three of them almost became a disaster. Or at least at first, after some work he was able to get them in line with an average life.
"That grandiose life on the Gekko must have spoiled them a bit." he thought.
Then he heard a knock on his door. "Come on in." he said, still in thought.
It opened and Digger came in with a grin on his face as always. "Hey old man did you hear the news?" Digger said as he closed the door behind him and sat down.
"No, what news?" Axel said more annoyed than interested.
"They're opening up another dig site and this one is going to be near town! Now we'll finally start getting some money flowing through here!" said Digger then started laughing to himself.
"That's nothing new Digger. Ever since the military lost over 80% of its forces in the Second Summer of Love it's been trying to reestablish itself. They just can't give up their power. And now all they have going for them are LFOs and their KLFs." Axel explained to the now quite Digger.
"You know I know that. I'm just saying that we, the little people, can make a profit off the military's rebirth." Digger said back.
"But only till it's strong again then we'll be back to what it was like before." Axel retorted and stood up. "Got to go, the kids will being getting out of school in a few minutes." He picked up his hat off the desk and left without another word.
"Damn old man. Can't he just live in the moment like he does with those kids?" Digger got up and started to leave but noticed something on the desk Axel was sitting at. A picture was lying face down on the desk. He knew what it was, the old man's family, the family he lost to the First Summer of Love. He turned the knob and left for home.
He drove down the road towards the school as he did every week day. Whenever he had the chance he would look from the road to the top of the tower. "When will you be home?" He thought, as he pulled up to the school's driveway, and looked back to see the children standing ready to return home.
He got out so they could craw into the back and listened as they mumbled to themselves about homework. "So you doing well in your classes?" he asked getting back into the driver's seat.
"Yea where're doing great!" Linke said.
"No he fell asleep in class again today!" Maeter practically yelled into Axels' ear.
"Please quite down Maeter, Linke your going to bed earlier if you don't stop that slacking in class." Axel said to them.
"Yes sir." the two younger children said.
He started up the car and started to leave the school grounds. "So Maurice, how have your classes been doing?" Axel said looking at his in the rearview mirror.
He was looking out the window on the left with his hand holding up his head against the glass. "Nothing much, just the same stuff as always." Axel was a little miffed that he wasn't getting a straight answer but he had come to understand that Maurice always got like this on days before a full moon.
They were now almost home. The garage was just over this hill, but the road went around it so they had to go around. At least it had a full view of the grassy hill as they rounded it.
Sometimes on the weekends they would eat up on top of the hill or at night watch the stars. Tonight they would be watching the moon.
But suddenly Maurice let out what could be described as a yelp. "What was that? Are you ok?" Axel said without turning his head.
"Stop the car let me out!!" Maurice yelled pushing on Axels' seat.
Axel noticed he was looking up at the hill so he slowed down the vehicle and turned his head. He then suddenly stopped the car full in the middle of the road when he spotted something.
At the top of the hill was the sun glaring down at them. It was half covered by the hill itself so he couldn't see anything distinctly at first. But as his eyes began to adjust a few moments later he could make out two silhouettes just making their way to the very top of the hill. "Could it be?" he thought.
Maurice was still pushing on his chair and so he quickly opened the door. Before he had even got up Maurice had squeezed out of the back and landed on all fours in the road and had started running up the hill.
After he was out of the way the other two children burst out of the car and ran up the hill too. "Could it be?" he kept repeating in his head.
The children were now almost up there at the top of the hill with the other two figures. The figures turned and welcomed the children with open arms. He left his truck still running in the street and started walking up the hill with his eyes still wide open.
The group split into five once again and they all stared down on him. After what to his old mind was an eternity he was before them, his children, all of them. Renton and Eureka stood before him with their children wrapped in their arms, he couldn't speak.
Renton broke from the group and came to stand before his grandfather. They stood before each other and looked into each other's eyes. "I'm home Grandpa." said Renton softly tears starting to form in his eyes.
Axel gritted his teeth to stop tears from forming on his own face but failed. Then he with a quiver in his voice said, "Punk kid, get over here." Axel then embraced the boy he had not seen in almost two years. After a moment the children and Eureka joined in. They had finally come home. His family was whole once again.