I want to say this although it doesn't really mean much…I honestly did not intend for this massive gap in chapters…other stuff got in the way majorly…sorry…first of all…I was being my usual lazy self and then when I thought that I should start writing again… the ps3 died…by YLOD…I thought it only happened to other people lol but no…I've had the thing for over five years…words can't describe how gutted I feel lol…just as I was getting over losing a lot of data my laptop conked out two days later with motherboard failure…so that had to be replaced…the laptop also had over half of this chapter on it so I was kind of stuck till the guy fixed it
If the past week has taught me anything it's that there isn't much going on with my life once the laptop and ps3 have gone lol…I watched more Olympics this year than I have put together probably
I also had no idea how I wanted the ending to go either…
The setting for this is a few months after the final chapter…I don't really have an exact time frame…longer than a couple of months…shorter than a year…helpful I know lol…
In the last chapter Ted posed an interesting thought that opened up the storyline for this epilogue
Nate stood very still. He leant forward and pressed an ear to the door. There was silence. A few seconds passed and deciding that it was safe to move he tiptoed to the dressing table that occupied one side of the room.
With a furtive look around, he reached round the large mirror and drew out a small object. He relocated to the bed, sat down heavily and stared at the object he had just procured.
Just thinking about the small velvet-faced box made his palms sweat. He rubbed them on worn jeans and flicked the lid open. Nestled in a satin cushion was a ring. It seemed small, insignificant almost, but it had been bought with his money and from a proper jewellers shop. It was the real deal.
He would have to ask today, he had put it off so many times. Although why this was, even to Nate, was a mystery. He knew his life had reached a steady point. It was a good steady point.
Nate's life was moving on but it wouldn't go any further without him doing this one thing.
The restaurant had been booked and baby sitter organised. He guessed if he was going to do this, he'd do it properly.
Now for the hard part.
Nate listened for the sound of footsteps and upon hearing none, returned the ring and its box to its hiding place and padded downstairs to the kitchen.
Elena was there, chopping an onion with a look of intense concentration on her face. Nate gulped.
The knife stopped moving and Elena looked at him expectantly.
'How about eating out tonight?' Nate was conscious that he was trying to sound natural and in doing so probably sounded shiftier than he ought to. Elena raised an eyebrow and glared at him as if he were from the moon.
'Eat out? We haven't eaten out in months. We're the parents of a young baby. We don't eat out,' she said and resumed chopping. The baby gurgled from his high seat and Nate went over to entertain him and at the same time gain some new tactics.
The baby, in delight at seeing its father, burped. Nate grinned.
Babies cried a lot. Nate wasn't bothered by this so much. He had expected it to a certain extent but what he hadn't bargained for were the timings. It seemed that whenever he was about to fall asleep the baby cried…and cried.
Even if he wasn't thinking of proposing, a night off from being parents would be a nice thing.
'What if I said I have already booked a table at a fancy restaurant and some baby-sitters,' Nate tried.
There was silence as Elena digested this information. Nate swivelled to look at her reaction, it wasn't good. The knife was being gripped a little too tightly for Nate's comfort.
'Something tells me this isn't an 'if' situation,' Elena said.
Nate sighed, 'You're right. I've booked a table for seven and the babysitter is due in an hour.'
The temperature in the room dropped a little.
'What about this onion?' Elena asked. Nate paused.
'Uh…we'll eat it tomorrow?' he hazarded.
Elena put down the knife, 'One does not just leave a chopped onion uncooked!'
'I'm sorry,' Nate said automatically, wondering why Elena was getting stressed at the loss of one onion. He guessed he should find out, 'Is something wrong?'
Elena sighed. Today had been a trying day. Things were not working. The washing machine was on the fritz. The toaster now only seemed to give six different shades of burnt and she was pretty sure the clothes she was wearing were covered in some sort of baby fluid. And now to top it all off, Nate wanted to go to eat out when she had already started cooking dinner. Did he have any idea of what she was going through? She didn't have time to go to dinner in a fancy restaurant. She needed to ring a mechanic for the washing machine and do other things that were along the same level of excitement. Minimal, to say the least.
This seemed to be a bit much to say to Nate who was looking very confused. But she had noticed. You had to be blind not to. The way he looked when he had first spoken to her. He was up to something.
'I'll eat the onion now, if that would make you feel any better,' Nate added and Elena grimaced. He honestly thought he could make things better by eating a raw onion. He must really want this dinner to happen. This determination was telling Elena things. It was raising her hopes. A dangerous thing to be sure.
In the past, Elena had been sure that Nate was going to ask her something. Something very important. Something life changing. But it had never happened. Elena thought this was strange. They had settled into this life easily. Playing the parent and the partner, it was like they were married anyway, so why couldn't he just ask the damn question?
Elena was past caring how it was asked. Just the word being mentioned in a favourable light would do.
'You don't have to eat the onion,' she said finally, 'but seriously, if I'm thinking of going to this dinner you had better tell me who the baby sitters are. We've never left him before. How do you know these people are trustworthy?'
Nate sensed a breakthrough. He wondered what he said next would win her over. He should have thought about this more.
'It's Sully…and Miguel,' Nate said finally.
Elena picked up the knife again and Nate stood behind the high chair as a defence.
'Sully I can just about handle…but Miguel? He attracts trouble,' Elena said and rinsed the knife and chopping board. Something to keep her mind occupied so she wouldn't have to think about what Nate had just done.
'Miguel always means well. He's in town and he just sorta jumped in on things. Sully will keep him under control,' Nate said. Well, he hoped Sully would.
Elena pointed a soapy knife at him. 'I'm warning you, if we come home and our son starts saying 'mongo' I think I may just lose it.'
Nate held his hands up, 'Don't worry, that won't happen. I promise.'
Elena glared at him but didn't say anything.
Nate walked to her, took the knife out her hand and placed it in the drying rack. Framing her face in his hands he said, 'Look, everything will be fine. I think we just need an evening to ourselves, for our own sanity, if anything. One evening is all I'm asking for.'
'Hmm, fine, fine, but if this turns out to be a disaster we're going to be having some serious words,' she said and left the room, adding silently to herself that if he didn't ask the question tonight they were going to be having serious words anyway.
Nate stood in the quiet of the kitchen. The refrigerator hummed and the baby made wet noises. After a while Nate heard the boiler kick in as Elena turned on the shower.
Hah, he had done it. He was on his way. He had convinced Elena to go to dinner and she hadn't suspected a thing. Now all he needed to do was begin preparations so his night wouldn't be interrupted by various people asking him to go on adventures.
Nate picked up his son and carried him upstairs. For some reason he was feeling optimistic about tonight.
He was going to ask Elena to marry him and she would say yes and they would all live happily ever after.
Ted stepped out the car with an itch in his throat.
It had nothing to do with the summer air which was, today, the perfect temperature but more to do with his churning emotions.
He hadn't been here in a while. It was his decision to avoid this house. From the bright streamers and balloons hanging from the door it was evident that it was someone's birthday. Most probably a child's.
The wrapped present in his hands felt like a dead weight. Did he really want to be here?
Before he could get in the car and drive off, the front door opened. A woman stood in the porch and waved.
Ted felt like a magnet had got hold of him. Something pulled him towards the house, his legs moved of their own accord and his face wore a smile that he wasn't sure he really felt.
He went into the house and put the present on a stack of the things.
The woman put her arms around him and he reciprocated the gesture.
'You look good,' she said and then peered at his face properly, 'hmm, maybe not. Don't be such a miserable moo. Is this how you act when you see your sister for the first time in months? Where's the love?'
Ted managed a laugh and hugged a little harder, 'I'm happy, I'm definitely happy.'
His sister made a sound as if she didn't believe him but stepped back.
A small girl hung back in the hallway.
Ted looked at his niece with trepidation. If she started crying he would leave. He wouldn't even say bye to his sister. He would just leave.
The girl looked him hard in the face like young people do when they try and work out how to best exploit your weaknesses.
But she didn't cry.
Ted couldn't quite explain how relieved he felt.
Chloe sat back. The arrivals hall bustled with activity. People making connecting flights hurried away and others milled about with luggage trolleys trying to find relatives or taxis.
She had nowhere to go and no one to see.
Chloe let her head drop back and rest against the hard plastic that made up her seat.
She supposed she could ring Nate and see what he was up to. Oh, wait, wasn't he meant to be proposing soon? Chloe frowned; the last time she had talked to him, he had told her about all the failed attempts. Since she hadn't heard anything back since then she supposed he hadn't actually gone through with it yet.
Her phone buzzed.
Speak of the devil, she thought and answered.
'Hey, this is Nate, I just wanted to tell you something.'
'Have you finally proposed?' Chloe asked, curious.
'No, but that's what I'm ringing about. I'm going to do it today and I don't want any interruptions. If you find a dragon jawbone, hell, if you find a real dragon, I don't want to know.'
'Right. I'm glad we cleared that up,' Chloe said flatly, 'Do you honestly see my name come up on the caller id and think 'oh, no, I bet Chloe's got another adventure lined up for me'?'
There was a moment's silence.
'No, but knowing my luck something unforeseen will stop me from doing this. It usually does,' Nate muttered, 'If it makes you feel any better, I'm ringing quite a few people with the same message. Even Ted.'
Chloe scowled, there was no need to bring that man's name up and Nate knew it. He was just being a jerk.
'That,' she replied acidly, 'was unnecessary.'
'I have a point though, and you know it. Look at me, I'm doing things. I'm going to get married,' Nate replied.
'You haven't even asked her yet,' Chloe muttered.
'That's true but I'm sure she'll yes,' Nate said with wavering confidence. Chloe rolled her eyes. The man really had nothing to worry about. Those two were made for each other. Or something like that.
'You'll be fine,' Chloe said as encouragingly as she could and then frowned, 'How are you going to do it?'
'Well, I've booked a nice restaurant and got some babysitters,' Nate explained.
'You trust the babysitters?' Chloe asked.
'Since it's Sully and Miguel, yes.'
Chloe made a strangled sound that had people turning to stare at her.
'Excuse me? Sully and Miguel? Are you sure about this?' Chloe asked, thinking that if she were ever in the need of a babysitter she would never, ever consider Sully and Miguel. Especially Miguel.
'I'd trust them with my life,' Nate said, 'I think they can handle this. It's just one evening.'
'I'm surprised Elena let this happen,' Chloe commented.
'I think she wants this break as much as I do. Children are hard work,' Nate said.
Chloe was glad that she would never have to go through this.
'Well, good luck,' she said and meant it.
'You just said I'll be fine,' Nate said.
'I wasn't talking about the proposing. I'm talking about the dynamic duo you've hired to take care of your son.'
They said their goodbyes and disconnected the call.
Chloe went into thinking mode again.
She had been travelling with no real aim. It was nice. She did like being on her own but she was aware that something was wrong. Something was missing. It was like a nasty little itch that was in a place impossible to reach.
In the past few months, what had she learnt? That she liked to travel? She knew that already. That she liked to be alone? She had been alone all her life. It was something she had gotten used to.
She knew what being alone was like.
She had only assumed what it was like to not be alone.
Chloe shook her head.
Where were all these thoughts coming from? Maybe she was just tired.
With this in mind she went in search of a hotel.
Nate did up the buttons of his shirt.
He hadn't worn something so formal in a long time. It felt weird to not wear something covered in baby related gloop. It was a nice feeling though.
His jacket hung on the back of a chair. Casting a look towards the bathroom door, Nate quickly shoved his hand behind the mirror and pulled out the ring box. He checked the ring was actually in there and put it in his trouser pocket. Sorted.
There was a clunk as the bathroom door unlocked and Elena stood in the doorway, 'What are you up to?' she asked. Since he was just standing there grinning like an idiot, he supposed she did have a right to ask.
'Nothing, just watching the little guy,' he replied, gesturing at the baby. Elena stared at him long and hard but didn't make a comment.
In fact, Nate had just been totally blown away by the Elena who had stepped out of the bathroom. He was a lucky man. He thought that every day. Even Elena covered in pasta sauce and baby juices made him feel lucky but seeing her now, like this, dressed up for him, he couldn't help but feel insanely happy.
It also made him think of other things. Things which happened less often than Nate would have liked. One of those hidden costs of having young children that Nate hadn't even thought of. Elena frowned at the look Nate was giving her.
'Now I know what you're thinking. Wipe that dirty look off your face, mister. We're going for a civilised meal,' she said and went to check on the baby.
Nate was going to push his luck a little further but then the doorbell rang.
With a curse that gave Elena some amusement, he went downstairs with the baby.
The door opened to reveal Sully and Miguel.
Sully was armed with pizza and Miguel wore a goofy grin. They barged in. The baby looked at them with wide-eyed wonder.
Sully who was still on shaky ground with communicating with children said, 'How ya' doing?'
The baby made no response but gave Miguel a look of deep suspicion.
'Where's Elena?' Sully asked, looking around the living room with interest. He picked up a golden ornament from a side table and put it down again.
'She's upstairs getting ready,' Nate said and then raised an eyebrow at Sully, 'See something you like?'
'Nah, I just thought it was weird that you decorated your new house with all the weird crap you've accumulated from your adventures,' Sully commented.
The trio of men and baby moved towards the sofa.
Nate shrugged, 'I had to put something around the place. When we got the house I realised how much room there actually was and that I had hardly anything to put there. I don't think I've stayed in one place for so long. It feels strange putting stuff up, knowing it'll be there for years.'
Sully set the pizza down on the coffee table. He found the TV remote and clicked it on. Sports commentators were immersed in a pre-game discussion. If it wasn't for the baby propped up next to him this would have been like every other night Sully had experienced. He was getting old.
'So,' Miguel said with a conspiratorial eyebrow-wiggle, 'Have you got the ring?'
Nate patted his pocket, 'Yep, and you guys better not spoil this.'
Sully and Miguel turned to look at him with hurt expressions.
'What are you talking about?' Sully asked, 'we're just gonna watch the game and eat pizza. You don't trust us?'
'You cut me deep,' Miguel said dramatically and Nate sighed.
'Don't get me wrong. You guys are great but whenever I try to propose things just tend to get out of hand. And Miguel, don't take this personally or anything but things just get downright bizarre when you're involved.'
Miguel couldn't disagree and then frowned.
'Elena's taking her time isn't she?'
Sully frowned and craned his head to look past Miguel who was standing in front of the TV, 'Women take ages to get ready. It's one of those rules of life thingies. Cripes, Miguel, get out of the way.'
Nate looked at him, 'Uh huh…and would another one of those rules of life…thingies…be that old men are only ever grumpy.'
Sully didn't even look up, 'Yes.'
'Thanks for clearing that up,' Nate muttered and then frowned, Elena was taking her time. He hoped nothing had happened.
He headed for the stairs, a hundred and one things racing through his mind as to what could be keeping Elena so long. A ninja fight came to mind. And since there were ninjas involved that would explain why they hadn't heard anything. Another well-thought out reason was that a time paradox had opened and sucked Elena into a vortex that had dropped her out into the early 1900s where after failing to find a way back, she resigned herself to the time she was in and married a factory owner called Graham.
Nate realised as he pounded up the stairs that his imagination was getting the better of him. It was probably nerves. He could have faced down a hundred armed men easy-peasy, but the thought of proposing to Elena made his legs feel like jelly.
Elena picked up the phone as soon as Nate left to open the door. She had the number on speed-dial. While she waited for it to connect she sat on the bed and stared at the overflowing wash-basket. That washing machine really needed to be fixed soon. She sighed. She wanted to enjoy this evening Nate had planned but there were so many things to worry about not to mention the babysitters entrusted to her only son.
The muzzy voice on the other end broke into Elena's thoughts.
'It's Elena. I'm sorry, were you asleep?'
'Was. Was asleep. But what's up?' Chloe's voice didn't sound irritable and Elena took this as a good sign.
'I think Nate's going to propose,' Elena said. It felt weird saying that. To be honest she didn't really know why she needed to tell people but funnily enough, with all these domestic problems mounting Elena had found talking to Chloe over the months had been fairly therapeutic. Maybe it was because the other woman was still living the old life, full of travel and more importantly, freedom.
'Huh, how long have you been waiting now? Years…yeah…I think it's been years now,' Chloe replied, 'what gave him away?'
'Well, he insisted we go out for dinner this evening. He was pretty determined,' Elena explained.
'That doesn't sound very suspicious. People eat dinner all the time,' Chloe said neutrally.
'If you ever came to see us you would know that going out to dinner is a big thing. A massive thing actually,' Elena said and heaved a sigh.
'If you guys can't handle suburban life then I don't think I ever could,' Chloe muttered upon hearing Elena's depressive tone.
Elena perked up at this, 'Does that mean you're thinking about getting together with Ted?'
'No!' Chloe spluttered, 'What made you think that? I haven't thought about him for ages.'
Elena knew better than that, in fact, she probably knew Chloe's feelings better than Chloe did herself.
'If you hadn't thought about him in ages you wouldn't be thinking about having the suburban life with him,' Elena commented.
Chloe grunted, 'Look, aren't we here to talk about your engagement? Congratulations. I'm very happy for you. I'm sure you have this thing already planned in the time you've waited for Nate to propose but you'd better invite me to some sort of cake tasting. I like cake.'
Elena smiled at Chloe's change of subject.
'We were practically married anyway but it's nice to have it formalised,' Elena wondered how to phrase this next part and chewed her lip, 'You know, we haven't changed at all because of this. I am the same person I always was. Nate's still the same guy. Well, if anything, he's got a bit sillier but otherwise he is just the same.'
There was silence and then 'Where are you going with this?'
'I think I'm trying to say that relationships aren't bad. Staying in one place and putting down some roots isn't that bad but it isn't your only option. Your know Ted loves you. He's not trying to take away your freedom...he just wants you…and your happiness…or something like that,' at that point Elena ran out of steam and really just wanted to kick Chloe's butt to shake her out of her apathy.
'Right, yes, thanks. That cake tasting – don't forget to invite me,' irritation crept into Chloe's voice and Elena got the feeling she had just crossed a line but she wasn't going to give up. Elena was going to get her lovey-dovey fairy tale ending and there was no reason why Chloe shouldn't either.
'Speaking of cakes,' Elena began her final gambit, 'It's Ted's niece's birthday today. The last time I spoke to him he said he was going to stay at his sister's for a while. If you dropped by, I'm sure you would be able to get some cake.'
'That was a very…very weak link,' Chloe said after a while. Elena could almost imagine the other woman narrowing her eyes at what she had just said.
'Just think about it,' Elena pressed and turned towards the bedroom door. Someone was coming up the stairs. It was probably Nate.
'Uh, I gotta go, I think Nate's coming. Look, you've got nothing to lose here. You like taking risks, don't you? Just go to Ted and see what happens,' Elena rattled off the address that Ted had given her in case she needed to contact him just as Nate entered the room.
Nate stood and looked at her suspiciously, 'Who are you talking to? It isn't Graham, is it?'
Elena frowned at him, said a quick goodbye and clicked the phone off, 'Who the heck is Graham?'
Nate shook his head, 'It's nothing, don't worry.'
'I was just talking to Chloe,' Elena said and picked up her purse.
Nate gave her a strange look, 'Oh, and what did she say?'
'Nothing much, I was just asking her about mechanics for washing machines,' Elena said, it was a long shot but Nate seemed so preoccupied about Graham, whoever he was, that he accepted this explanation without much hesitation.
'You ready to go?' Nate asked her.
For some reason she felt nervous. She hoped that she wasn't pinning all her hopes on this evening for nothing and even though Nate had assured her that nothing would go wrong she found it hard to believe. Elena turned to Nate and gave him a smile.
'As ready as I'll ever be.'
Chloe stared at the ceiling. Lying on her back on an airport hotel bed her arm was outstretched above her. In her hand was an idle cell phone.
The conversation with Elena hadn't made her feel much better and she had just got plain confused when she heard Nate say 'Graham'.
She let her arm fall to the side. It bounced on aged springs.
Not for the first time, Chloe sighed. There was no doubt about it. It wasn't about wanting. It was need. She needed Ted. So she could be complete and all that blah.
Something was holding her back though.
It was possible that she was afraid of commitment and what it entailed. Chloe could understand this. She had lived a free life, doing what she wanted when she wanted without having to worry about how it affected others and then Ted had come along and spoiled everything.
She could also be afraid of turning into Elena who seemed a little bit on edge a lot of the time. Chloe couldn't even begin to count the amount of domestic complaints that Elena had thrown at her. Broken appliances, babies crying and unappreciative menfolk seemed to be the next stop on the relationship road.
Chloe did not like the sound of this but was realistic enough to know.
Ted was that kind of a guy. He suited the white-picket fence cliché. The question was could she fit into it too.
Probably not, the pessimist and more dominant part of Chloe thought.
If she was going to find Ted, and this was only a hypothetical, Chloe told herself, then she needed to know one thing and there was only one way to find out.
She dialled the phone.
'I need to know. Do you ever regret settling down? I mean, you talk an awful lot about broken washing machines and stuff. It sounds rotten to me.'
There was silence on the other side as Elena thought about this.
'I don't regret it and I don't think I ever will. I love this life and yes, I complain, but I would rather have this than wonder whether we would live through the next few hours.'
Chloe closed her eyes and disconnected without saying goodbye.
With a flick of her wrist, she checked her watch and recalled the address Elena had told her.
There was enough time. If she left now she could make it.
The only question now was what she was going to do once she was there.
Ted soon found himself surrounded by a group of five year olds. All were in awe of his scarred face.
'He's just like Harry Potter,' one of the girls said in a whisper. While Ted thought that this wasn't true at all, this comment did seem to win him points with the children. They clustered round him, their eager faces shining
'Did you fight Voldemort? Is that why you have a scar,' one of the boys asked.
'Uh, no,' Ted replied.
'Are you sure?' the boy said with narrowed eyes.
Ted had thought that he pretty good with children but this experience was clearly telling him that children had changed since he had last seen them. 'I'm pretty sure,' he said.
The kids looked disappointed and already tired of the new visitor ran back to the garden where a giant bouncy castle awaited them.
Ted watched them go and his sister joined him.
'Tough crowd?' she asked.
Ted turned to her, 'I swear I don't even know kids anymore. Harry Potter? Seriously?'
'It's a phase that started just after you left for your trip in Europe,' his sister explained and then nudged him rather painfully with an elbow.
'What was that for?' Ted grimaced, rubbing his side.
His sister gave him an excited look, 'Well, tell me. What happened when you went to London? Did you find Chloe? You were gone for ages and we haven't talked properly since.'
Ted sighed. London. That felt like an age ago and, to be honest, considering what had happened with the whole Turkish escapade that followed, slightly insignificant. At any rate that chapter of his life hadn't ended the way he wanted it to.
His sister sensed this and quietened down. 'Oh,' she said after a while.
Ted hadn't told his sister much about what he did. All she knew was that he was often out of the country as a private security consultant and on his travels one year he'd fallen in love with an Australian woman called Chloe. It wasn't much to go on but his sister had turned into an epic love story. You could have almost seen the stars in her eyes when Ted had first told her about it.
In an effort to avoid too many questions Ted had told her that the relationship wasn't going anywhere because Chloe didn't want to leave Australia. While this was nowhere near the truth it was believable and his sister ate it up like a trashy romance novel.
'She broke it off,' Ted said. He was a massive sap. It still hurt, even after this long.
'I'm sorry,' his sister said with feeling.
'Pfft. I'm fine.'
His sister gave him the raised eyebrow and shook her head.
'Hey, if you believe it maybe I will too,' Ted muttered and his sister laughed.
'That's not how it works; maybe you should go see Emily though. It might take your mind off things,' his sister suggested.
Ted thought that was a good idea and went to the garden, wordlessly accepting the beer that his brother-in-law, Pete, pressed into his hand. His life wasn't completely worthless, his niece didn't scream her head off every time she saw him. He could draw comfort from this at least.
He found her playing with the other children who were busy pulling their shoes off for the bouncy castle.
The boy from before spotted him instantly.
'Oh look, it's Harry Potter,' he said and the other kids looked up. His niece was one of them. She skipped over, took his hand and led him over to the others. Ted thought it was strange that only a year ago this little girl was confined to a hospital bed.
'This is my uncle Ted,' little Emily began, 'He is not Harry Potter. Harry Potter could do magic. Uncle Ted can't do magic. Also Harry has a girlfriend called Ginny; Uncle Ted doesn't even have a girlfriend.'
Pete, who was flipping burgers on a family sized barbeque snorted and Ted couldn't quite believe how wounding a five-year old's words could be.
The children however accepted this as concrete proof that he wasn't a fictional character which was something Ted supposed.
Emily beamed at Ted and having finished protecting her uncle plopped down and resumed unbuckling her shoes.
Ted couldn't help but smile and sat down next to her. While he busied himself unbuckling her other shoe, Emily patted him on the head.
'You're better than Harry Potter,' she told him in a no-nonsense voice. Ted grinned.
'Thanks, but even Harry Potter has a girlfriend,' he replied. While the slightly mocking tone was lost on the five year old, she looked at him seriously.
'You'll be fine, Uncle Ted. You'll find your own Belle and everything will be happy,' Emily said with conviction.
'Belle?' Ted asked confused.
'Yes, like in Beauty and the Beast,' Emily explained patiently as if she were talking to a plank.
Pete gave a hoot of laughter and Ted sighed. Children were no longer just physically tiring.
Before he could deal with more harsh words his cell phone buzzed. Emily gave him a hug and joined her friends on the castle.
Ted flipped the phone open.
'Yo, it's Nate,' came the reply.
'What's up?' Ted asked.
'I'm going to propose to Elena today and I just wanted to say that if you suddenly caught yourself in an adventure please don't call me. I don't want to know.'
Ted laughed, 'Copy that. What have you got planned?'
'Fancy restaurant. Proposal after dessert,' Nate replied.
'What about the baby?' Ted asked.
'Sully and Miguel are going to babysit for us,' Nate replied.
'Really? They…they wouldn't be my first choice,' Ted commented and he heard Nate grunt.
'What is it with you guys? Chloe said the same thing too. If you don't remember they saved our lives. They're trustworthy.'
'I don't doubt their trustworthiness. It's just that…well it's your baby. You can do what you want-,' it was at this point that Ted registered what Nate had just said, 'wait, Chloe? You talked to Chloe?'
'Well, yeah, I'm ringing everyone and telling them to leave me alone,' Nate said and then his man brain finally caught up with the situation, 'Ooooooh, you want her number or something?'
Ted closed his eyes and pinched his nose, 'Uh, no, I, uh, was just wondering how she was,' he finished lamely, not quite understanding how just hearing about her got his heart rate going.
Nate was quiet for a moment, 'Sure. Sure. You know, ringing her wouldn't be a bad thing.'
Ted felt that familiar irritation creep back, 'She made it very clear that we were over. I don't think she would want to listen to anything I had to say.'
'Well, if you're sure,' Nate replied and clicked off.
Ted fell back onto the grass and stared at the sky. Nate was proposing and moving on with his life.
What was he doing? Mooning after a woman who didn't want him and getting owned by a five year old girl.
The words 'utter' and 'loser' came to mind.
Nate and Elena had been gone a while when there was a knock at the door.
Sully had been split between actually watching the game and explaining the rules to Miguel who had no concept of American football.
The two men looked at the door.
'Do we open it?' Miguel asked.
Sully pondered this, 'I guess we can, it's half-time anyway.'
They approached the door cautiously. Sully wasn't entirely convinced there was an evil entity behind the door but this was the first time he had been given the task of babysitting someone's kid so he thought he'd better be thorough. Especially since the kid in question was Nate's son.
Miguel opened the door and gave a squeal of delight.
'Oh, I wasn't expecting you here,' the oh-so familiar British accent said.
'What are you doing here?' Sully asked incredulous. There wasn't anything wrong with this visitor but there was now an even higher chance of something silly happening and ruining Nate's moment.
'Is that any way to greet an old friend?' Barry asked.
Sully didn't reply and stalked back to the sofa and pizza while Miguel invited Barry in.
'What's up with him?' Barry asked Miguel.
'He's getting old,' Miguel replied wisely.
'I heard that,' Sully grunted, 'but seriously, why are you here?'
'I'm in the country for a few days so I thought I'd pop by and see the baby,' Barry explained and he looked around as if looking for someone, 'So where are Nate and Elena?'
'You didn't get a call from Nate?' Miguel asked surprised, 'He's going to propose to Elena today. They're at a fancy restaurant right now.'
'Ah, I was flying most of the day, come to think of it, I still haven't turned my phone back on,' Barry said and rummaged around in his bag for it. 'Oh yeah, before I forget, I got a present for the baby.'
Sully, who was sitting closest to the baby, looked at the package suspiciously.
'This is something…child suitable…isn't it?' he asked. For some reason he had the horrible sensation that if Barry or Miguel were going to buy a gift for a child, they would do it all wrong.
'Wow, Sully, I'm not Miguel,' Barry muttered. Miguel looked wounded.
Barry opened the wrapping to reveal a Manchester United football kit in a baby size.
'Awwww,' Miguel said, 'It's so diddy.'
Barry settled himself onto the sofa and said hello to the baby.
'So what are we doing?' Barry asked conversationally.
Sully looked at him, eyebrow raised, 'You're staying?'
'Of course, I might as well wait for Nate and Elena to come home. Then I can congratulate them in person.'
Sully grunted, 'We're watching football.'
'Ah, I never understood your American football. I always try to understand but it always boils down to people wearing body armour running into each other. How does it work?' Barry chattered away, unaware of Sully's darkening facial expression.
On the other side of Barry, Miguel was putting the football kit on the baby. Sully stopped him as soon as he noticed.
'Hey, get that off him, now,' Sully barked.
'What? Why?' Miguel asked, confused.
'You forgot already? Yeesh, I told you earlier, you're not to go near the baby 'cuz you're crazy,' Sully said.
'He's got a point,' Barry said to Miguel and took the child off him.
Holding the baby in front of him, Barry became aware of a rather organic smell.
'Bloody hell, I think he's done a shi-…I mean doo doo…yes doo doo…he's done a doo doo,' Barry corrected himself as Sully glared at him.
The three men were silent. Each contemplating what was about to come next.
'Somebody needs to change the nappy,' Barry said.
'Diaper,' Sully corrected automatically, his brain freewheeling while the horrors of diaper-changing plagued his thoughts.
Miguel held up a bag printed with rubber duckies, 'Elena said all the stuff we'll need is in here,' he said.
Barry eyed the bag, 'Are you sure? It doesn't look big enough for a Hazmat suit.'
'Who said 'we'?' Sully grumbled, 'I am not changing the diaper. End of story.'
Miguel looked at Barry.
'Rock, paper, scissors?' Miguel wondered out loud.
Barry took another sniff and gulped.
Chloe let the car come to a stop. She turned the ignition off, removed the key and sat. Well, she had certainly got here in time. Now what? Knock on the door? How would she even phrase the things she wanted to say?
What if he wasn't there? What if was and didn't want to see her?
She caught her face in the wing mirror; a dishevelled woman stared gloomily back.
Chloe dropped her head to the steering wheel with a dull thud.
It shouldn't be this hard, she thought flatly. All she had to do was get out the car, march up to the front door and knock. For some reason this just made Chloe feel physically ill.
She cursed herself; surely she was made of stronger stuff than this. With a grunt she wrenched the car door open and stepped shakily out of the vehicle.
The house she had parked opposite was large. The front garden grass was impossibly green and strewn across it were various children's toys. There were colourful balloons tied to the picket fence gate.
It definitely wasn't the wrong house.
The early evening air was warm as Chloe settled against the bonnet of the car. She could hear the sounds of laughter and voices from the backyard. One of them would be Ted's.
Chloe put her hands in her pockets and waited. She had flown all the way here, got all the way up to the bloody house and couldn't even find that extra lump of courage that would propel her to the door. She was pathetic.
But she was here.
Elena watched the waiter depart with their menus. Nate watched and noticing her preoccupied expression asked what was wrong.
'Oh, nothing really' she replied, 'I'm just worried about the baby.'
Nate was relieved it was only that and nothing else. 'Don't worry about it. They'll be fine. They're probably just watching the game. You can ring them if you want but I'm sure they'll tell you the same thing I did.'
Elena wished she had Nate's confidence.
'Do you think I should have told them about the washing machine?' she wondered. Nate laughed.
'I think it's ok; I can't see Sully or Miguel using a washing machine. They probably don't even know they exist,' he said reassuringly.
Nate was right, Elena thought. She had to stop worrying. Everything was going to be fine.
All she had to do was relax but no matter what she did she couldn't quite shake off the feeling that something was about to go horribly wrong.
She was right but it wouldn't be until dessert that she found out what it was.
Barry stood back from his handiwork.
Miguel and Barry had moved to kitchen to use the wide expanse of the dining table – a make-shift operating table for a fairly complicated prodedure...to Barry's mind anyway.
It hadn't actually been all that bad, Barry thought as he snapped off the rubber gloves he had found. They went straight into the bin. Once you had removed the doo doo it was pretty smooth sailing.
Barry turned to Miguel who was staring at something on the formerly pristine table cloth.
'Don't tell me,' Barry muttered at the stain, 'It's doo doo.'
It was only a smudge but they could hardly leave it there.
'Maybe it will be ok, maybe they will think its chocolate,' Miguel reasoned.
Barry shook his head at the other man, 'Anyone with a working nose would know that isn't chocolate.'
Before Barry could make a sensible suggestion, Sully walked into the room. He wrinkled his nose.
'What's taking you so long? Goddamn! Why is there doodoo on the tablecloth?' Sully barely paused between his sentences.
Barry explained, 'It just sort of escaped.'
Sully was silent and Barry evaluated what he had just said.
'Ok, maybe I wasn't being careful…'
Sully grunted and looked at the clock. They had plenty of time.
'Right,' he said, taking charge, 'we'll put it in the washing machine…if we put it on a quick wash it should be done before Nate and Elena get back.'
'Wow,' Barry said, 'I wasn't even aware you knew what a washing machine was let alone the 'quick wash' option.'
'Shut up,' Sully replied.
While Barry looked indignant, Miguel grabbed the cloth and bundled it into the washer. He twiddled a dial and filled the soap drawer.
Sully watched him with eagle eyes, 'Don't put too much in! I know you. You'd put half the box in and be confused when the damn machine blows up.'
Barry wondered why Sully was being so grumpy but he too was watching Miguel carefully. If any one of them were to mess up it would probably be Miguel.
Both men silently sighed with relief when Miguel shut the door and turned the machine on.
So far no slip-ups.
So they were both rather surprised when the back of the washing machine began to smoke.
Elena picked up on the second ring. She was pretty sure Nate had just sworn when the phone had begun to vibrate. She had been in half a mind to ignore the call but when she saw that it was from Sully her decision was all but made for her.
If her son was hurt…
She was faintly surprised to hear Barry's voice on the other end but she didn't question it when the words he was speaking registered.
'The. House. Is. On. Fire?' Elena said the words slowly but loudly enough for Nate to hear.
Without blinking he threw down some money, scraped his chair back with a horrendous screech and legged it to the car. Elena was following close behind.
Ted was lying on the grass as the evening drew on. The air was still warm; it would probably be hard to sleep later.
His stomach gurgled. Too much ice-cream. Ted never thought that you could have too much ice-cream. He was put off a bit when his sister told him he was being a woman. Apparently only women carried around that aura of depression and cravings for dessert that he was expressing.
His sinking mood was interrupted when Emily came over and sat on his stomach.
'There's a woman standing outside the house,' she said conversationally.
Ted lifted his arm away from his face so he could squint at his niece.
'Why?' Ted asked.
Emily gave him a long-suffering look, 'I don't know.'
'What does she look like?'
Emily tapped her chin thoughtfully, 'Mommy said she looked like an Australian.'
Ted's heart stopped for a moment and then his brain kicked in.
'How does someone look Australian?' he said hoarsely. It couldn't be. Ted tried to school his thoughts. He was letting his mind get the better of him.
Emily gave him another look, 'I don't know, Uncle Ted. But if she is from Australia…doesn't that mean she has a kangaroo? I like kangaroos.'
Ted sat up and tried not to get caught up in thoughts about kangaroos. Emily shifted in his lap but then Pete picked her up and slung her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
'Time for birthday cake. In the kitchen, kids,' Pete said and every child stood as one and stampeded towards the French doors that led inside.
Ted grimaced when he realised he too wanted cake enough to run for it. He was being a woman.
'Emily wasn't joking,' Pete said once he had put down his daughter so she could follow her friends.
Ted gave his brother-in-law a wry look.
'Ok, I'm not sure about the Australian part, I think that's just your sister getting carried away, but there is definitely a woman standing opposite the house. She's been leaning against her car for over an hour,' Pete added.
Ted was going to laugh it off when he suddenly remembered. He stumbled upon the thought. Months old but now fresh in his mind once again.
…one day in the future…when his niece wouldn't scream when she saw his face or maybe when Nate finally grew a set and proposed to Elena…
He swore. No way. It was just coincidence surely.
Even so, it took Ted a while to realise his feet were carrying him through the house and towards the front door.
Chloe gave a start when she heard a front door open.
One part of her wanted to jump into the car and take-off at the speed of the light. The other wanted to find Ted and apologise ten times over for hurting him. Fear took precedence however and rooted her to the spot.
Chloe would have cursed her cowardice but then Ted appeared at the porch.
He looked the same she thought. Chloe did curse herself just then. Christ, it had only been a few months. Of course he was going to look the same. What the heck was wrong with her? Ted was messing with her common sense again and he hadn't even said one word.
Ted walked towards her, taking the porch steps slowly. No, Chloe thought, not exactly the same. Brown hair a little longer. Kind eyes framed by a few more lines.
Chloe didn't know how long she stood there. Minutes or seconds. Chloe guessed that even if she had been given a day to prepare she still wouldn't know what to say when Ted reached her.
'How long were you planning on staying out here?' Ted asked, coming to a stop not a foot from her.
'I honestly don't know,' Chloe said truthfully. It felt good to hear his voice. Now that she was actually talking to him, Chloe realised there was so much she wanted to say. None of it very coherent and some of it probably contradictory. She should probably start by apologising. Yes, that seemed like a good place to start.
'You want some birthday cake?'
From the startled look Chloe had just given him, Ted got the feeling he had just said the wrong thing but he wanted Chloe to stay. Offering cake had seemed like a good thing to do.
It was surreal. What were the chances that he'd step out that door to find Chloe? How had she even known he was here? Ted guessed that Elena or Nate may have had a hand in that part but still. Chloe was here and he wasn't about to let her go. He had been given a chance and it wasn't going to be wasted.
'Huh? Uh, sure…wait…I need to say stuff first,' Chloe managed a recovery.
Ted fell silent. He would hear what she had to say and if he didn't like it he would just have to change her mind…somehow.
Chloe looked at him for a moment as if trying to build courage. Her hands fisted at her sides. It was almost as if she was gearing up for battle.
Ted put his hands on her arms, he wasn't sure why he did it, maybe for comfort but Chloe didn't seem too impressed.
She jerked out of his grip.
'Don't touch me,' Chloe muttered. Since there was a car behind her and Ted in front there wasn't really anywhere to go but she managed to remove Ted's hands from her arms.
Ted looked visibly alarmed. He shouldn't be, damn him. She was trying to apologise. She was trying to make things right.
Him touching her made it a lot harder. She needed a clear mind. But his hands…they were warm...
When his skin had brushed hers, Chloe found her thinking processes moving somewhere else completely. Somewhere unsuitable for the tiny faces she could see pressed up against the windows of Ted's sister's house.
Chloe was faintly disgusted with herself. She didn't just turn to mush when nice looking men touched her arms. She was made from sterner stuff than this. She had to stop acting like hormonal teenager.
'Ted, I'm sorry.'
Ted looked shocked; probably because he was unused to hearing her apologise. Chloe didn't blame him. She hated to admit she was wrong.
'You don't have to-,' Ted began but Chloe cut him off.
'No, I do. I do,' Chloe looked at Ted and felt the resistance build as the words left her tongue, 'Back in Turkey, I made some…bad decisions. It's no excuse, I know but I was confused as to what I wanted. To be honest, I still don't know what I want but I do know that I want you to be in there somewhere…or something like that.'
Chloe sighed. She really wasn't cut out for emotional heart-to-hearts.
'Am I allowed to touch you yet?' Ted asked.
'What? Oh, I guess so. I said what I wanted to,' Chloe mumbled but didn't get to say anymore before Ted closed the gap between them and enveloped her in his arms.
As he was holding Chloe, Ted mused that this was better than a dream.
Chloe actually wanted him back. Even brought up the courage to say things that could be considered 'soppy'.
For a moment there, when she had first apologised, Ted had thought she was going to say it was over - cut off all ties and dash his hopeful feelings across the warmed tarmac of the road.
'Um, Ted?' Chloe's voice sounded muffled.
'This is nice and all and I missed you too but I do need to breathe at some point,' Chloe said dryly.
Ted let up on his grip and Chloe glowered at him.
'You still love me? Even after I broke your heart?' she asked after she had calmed down some.
When Ted had thought about this before, when he had been so close to picking up the phone and ringing Chloe, the words he had prepared would have been delivered with perfectly honed rage. Now that he was actually here, face-to face with the woman he couldn't even bring out one angry word. Yes, Chloe had hurt him but his desire for them to be together again outweighed his anger ten-fold.
Ted held her gaze, 'At the risk of sounding cheesy, I never stopped.'
It took considerable effort to tamp down the burst of joy that coursed her system when Ted spoke. She had tried to prepare for the worst. What she had done to Ted was cruel. She hadn't expected to be forgiven so easily. Chloe realised how lucky she was.
She had someone who loved her even after she had acted as selfishly as she did.
While enjoying the feeling, Chloe felt her gaze drawn to the windows. Dozens of children were staring at them. It was more than a little unnerving. Their mouths moved soundlessly as they commented on what they were witnessing.
'So who are Ginny and Belle?'
Ted leant back, his brow furrowed in confusion.
Chloe gestured behind her where Ted spotted his niece and the boy from earlier chatting away.
'Umm…made up people,' Ted said before Chloe could get any more jealous.
'Right,' Chloe said disbelievingly.
'No, seriously…all the kids thought I was Harry Potter till my niece pointed out that I didn't have a girlfriend called Ginny and then she said that I was the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and that I would find a Belle one day too.'
Chloe almost smiled and patted his scarred face, 'Beast, indeed,' she murmured.
Ted was grinning, 'Beast I may be but you're no Belle.'
Chloe frowned at him, 'Why not?'
'Well, I doubt Belle ever packed heat while confessing her love,' Ted admonished lightly.
Chloe had to give him a point, there was a gun tucked into her waistband. She was so used to having a weapon on her; she'd feel naked without one. Maybe it was a sad thing she had to carry one around all the time.
'Well, I never did want to be a Disney princess,' Chloe muttered but removed the weapon and dropped it through the open window of the car door.
'Uh, now that we're all happy happy good good…I get a kiss, right?' Ted asked.
Chloe gave him a sour look, 'If you think I'm going to kiss you in front of a bunch of five year olds, you've got another thing coming.'
Ted was unperturbed, 'Fine then, I'll do the kissing.'
And when he did and Chloe felt her back hit the side of the car, she felt like she should have resisted more but what did it matter? The kids would be fine. Given 'em ten years and they'd be doing the same thing.
While a dozen children made gross-out faces at the window, Chloe mused that this had gone better than she could ever had hoped.
It was true that they hadn't talked about the future. They hadn't talked about the things that would have to be given up. Chloe supposed that when the time did come there would more arguments and hasty words but she was certain of one thing.
She would never leave Ted again.
Elena and Nate stood on the pavement opposite their house.
Smoke billowed thickly from the back of the building but the rest was, thankfully, unscathed.
A group of fire-fighters wrestled with their hose, no longer in use.
So the whole house hadn't been on fire. It had just been the kitchen. Elena was taking it rather well, Nate thought. He thought she would have been livid but she had just stood there calmly as Sully detailed what had happened while they had been at dinner.
Miguel was the first to speak after that, 'I swear, it wasn't my fault. I actually used the washing machine properly. Barry and Sully saw.'
They were all standing outside, watching the fire-fighters clear their equipment away.
Elena shook her head, 'It's ok. The thing was broken anyway. I should have told you guys not to use it.'
In truth she had only been bothered about the baby. As soon as the others had assured her that the baby was fine, Elena was already thinking of new tiles. The kitchen needed doing anyway. She could almost see the granite worktops and stainless steel sink unit.
Sully muttered something about how in his day washing machines did not catch fire.
Barry rolled his eyes and replied that this was the case because a washing machine in his time was a woman with soapy water and people weren't known to spontaneously combust.
Nate's mouth quirked in smile. He shouldn't find this funny but he couldn't help himself.
It seemed like he really couldn't propose to Elena. No matter what precautions he took he just couldn't do it. Maybe it wasn't meant to be.
At that moment a tired looking fire-woman trudged past, coiling the rest of the winding hose. Sully's head moved as she did.
'Are you alright?' Barry asked when he noticed that the older man's mouth was hanging open.
Sully blinked as he came back to the here and now. 'Nate! Nate, look at this. You get female fire-fighters! When did that happen? Oh boy, this is gonna be good.'
Without saying another word Sully stalked off after the woman.
Barry and Miguel tagged along. More to save the harassed looking fire-fighter than anything else.
Elena shifted her grip on the baby and sighed. 'I don't think I'll ever understand that man.'
Nate watched Sully chase the firewoman, 'He is unique. I'll give you that.'
There was an amiable silence. Nate fingered the ring-box in his trouser pocket. Sully got a slap in the face.
Without turning to look at Elena, Nate spoke. 'I was going to propose tonight.'
Elena smiled still watching Sully who was sporting a wounded look, 'I had a feeling.'
This time Nate did turn to look at her, 'Really? I thought I was being really secretive. Did someone tell you? I bet it was Chloe.'
'No, it wasn't Chloe,' Elena laughed, 'you weren't that smooth. Going out to dinner? Nate we haven't gone out to dinner in months and you were pretty determined.'
'I didn't know what else to do. I've had the ring for months. Whenever I tried to ask, something would go wrong or we'd get interrupted. I just wanted it to be special,' Nate scuffed the floor with a shoe.
'I think that the fact you even wanted to get married is pretty special,' Elena said quietly, 'You know, it got to the point where I didn't even care how you asked, just that you would.'
Nate blinked. His thoughts were surprisingly uncluttered as he bent down on one knee, arms outstretched with that tiny box in his hands. His voice didn't shake or falter.
'Well, I'm asking now. What do you say? Elena Fisher, will you marry me?'
Elena was faintly aware of how all movement had stopped.
Sully held a hand to his slapped cheek, watching silently. The firewoman beside him held the hose loosely in her hands, her eyes drawn to Nate's bent knees and extended arms.
Barry, Miguel and the other firemen paused too.
It was a strange freeze-frame and not quite the one Elena had expected or wanted when it finally came to this moment. They were dressed for it, no doubt, but a burning house wasn't what she had in mind for a romantic backdrop.
Elena wondered how she had ever expected to be proposed to normally. Whenever she and Nate tried to be a regular couple things failed miserable. The first time they visited her parents came to mind. And now that it was actually happening she couldn't actually believe it. Hadn't it been her dream as a little girl? To be proposed to by a man who bent down on one knee and held out a diamond ring?
For all her talk of just being fine with Nate just mentioning marriage, Elena was surprised to find that she was filled with a warm glow. Marriage wouldn't change much in her life except for her name but it was still enough to make her heart thump a little harder. If she wasn't careful, there could be tears.
It occurred to Elena that she still had to answer.
Nate was looking at her with such a mixture of apprehension and hope that Elena realised that he thought she might say no. The man truly had no brains when it came to these things.
After waiting all those years, Elena finally found herself saying those words that she had often dreamt about.
'Yes, I will marry you.'
Sorry for the abrupt ending...
I'm not sure five year olds even know what Harry Potter is but it doesn't matter lol…one of the fews thing I can do in a kitchen is fry an onion...very easy...not really great as a meal...I'm also a sucker for cake...I never wanted to be a Disney Princess...probably because there wasn't much choice in terms of brown people...just Jasmine...I wanted to be a Power Ranger...
This has also turned out to be longer than most of the chapters I have written lol…pretty sure epilogues are meant to be short and sweet…once again I let myself go with this…I could have been more direct…should have been but oh well…It's not really how I imagined it going either…in my mind it was going to be full of intense emotion but it seems that I just can't write that sort of stuff lol…I have to make do with doo doo and washing machine problems…this was meant to be a lot more serious…it turned out to be a massive build-up and then a very very short conclusion lol…
I also had a lot of extra stuff that I wanted to put in there…Ted's sister getting in the way and more about Elena and Nate but then I realised that this had been dragging for a while lol
I also avoided giving the baby a name…sorry
I hope the next Uncharted game improves on the third…since the ps3 broke and I realised I would have to play the third game again I've realised that I'm not looking forward to it…I would have played the first and second one over and over but this one I wasn't so bothered with…it's still really good and I'm not sure there was anything to improve on…maybe it was because its short or something…or maybe there is something wrong with me…that's probably it…
Did anyone else find this?
Ok…sorry this story took so long to finish...I have made mistakes and probably dissappointed but you guys are awesome for sticking it out
Thanks for reading, reviewing and being patient with my bad updating…and if any of you still have those fatty ps3s make sure you back up your data lol
Till next time,
Message me for fun if you want...I like hearing people's thoughts on Uncharted and other things...sounds like a desperate plea for friends lol...
I'll add this because it just happened...my family were just about to watch Hanna when my dad asked what it was about...my mum replied that it's about a girl who is a spy and my dad was like...What? A girl can't be a spy!
...that was nearly as bad as Sully and the fire woman