As I mentioned, I've published an extra chapter! Consider it a New Year's gift for everyone who read this story. You all have no idea how much it means to me that so many people read and enjoyed this story! I love you all and I hope that each and every one of you have a wonderful 2012! As always, read, enjoy and review!
Bonus Chapter: New Years
Outside of the sprawling city of lakes, where thousands of people were readying themselves for their festivities, a small home sat still decorated in Christmas lights. The blinking bulbs pierced the dark, night sky with such a light that anyone who would look past the lakes would see their colors.
The family that lived inside were preparing as well, even though their outside was still decorated for the previous season. This didn't bother them, the bright lights adding to the wonderment of the coming night. Even as the sun began to lower, the young boy looked eagerly out the window.
"How much longer until the New Year?"
Kratos, who'd been fiddling with a tube-like contraption, smiled at his son's desperate face, "It will come soon enough. You just have to be patient." Continuing his work, the boy frowned at him and glanced over to his mother. She didn't notice him, however, as she was busy cleaning up after dinner.
"Mommy, why do we have to wait so long?"
"That's because we need to be nice to the soon-to-be old year." A smile crossed her face as the child crossed his arms at her, turning his head defiantly to the side. He wanted the New Year and he wanted it now. Why was it he had to wait?
Stepping away from the window, the brunette walked to his room and looked around. All of his new Christmas presents were sitting around his room, several of the boxes they came in still stacked in the corner. If he was going to find something interesting to do while he waited, he was going to have to improvise. Cautiously, he stepped towards the boxes and poked at them with his toes.
A grin stretched across Lloyd's face, eyes scanning the numerous boxes. There really was nothing better to do while waiting for the New Year, right? Taking up as many of the boxes he could, he herded them into the hallway, slowly building up a wall. His parents took notice, their eyes wandering to the growing stack.
"What is he doing?" Anna asked as she wiped her hands on a cloth. She didn't even look at her husband, eyes trained on the strange action of her son.
Kratos shrugged, "He's Lloyd. He does whatever he wants." Turning his attention back to what he was messing with, he didn't notice that the boy was starting to bring out something new, something soft and fluffy.
After everything had been stacked in their respective places, the boy gained a determined stare. Glaring past the wall of boxes, towards his father, he spoke in a voice clear of defiance, "It's time to die, daddy!"
Uninterestedly, the father looked up from what he was doing, his russet eyes landing on Lloyd. Raising an eyebrow, he waited for the boy to continue what he was saying.
"I'm here to take you down." Without warning, the boy grabbed from the pile behind the cardboard wall and tossed it. The object flew through the air, its white fur rustling in the air. It crashed down, only inches away from the father's feet.
Kratos looked down at it, the white rabbit looking back with its button eyes. "Why are you attacking me with stuffed animals?"
No answer came; instead, a wave of stuffed animals began coming towards the auburn, the man jumping out of his chair to duck behind it. Several hit the wooden seat, one even staying on top to glare at him. "Check it, daddy!"
Staring at his son, he noticed the boy was readying for another wave. Kratos turned the chair on its side, pulling another close and setting up his own barrier. Quickly, his arms took up the stuffed animals that were already tossed.
It didn't take more than a second and both men were tossing the furry creatures back and forth. Anna stood back, sitting down to watch the show. As more animals crossed the sky, she could see her son's face change from one of determination to one of excitement. Her two men were having fun playing 'war' with each other and she could honestly say she was having fun watching it.
Lloyd ducked down, barely avoiding being hit in the face with a teddy bear. "That was close." The boy scrapped up his duck, holding it firmly in both hands. He'd have to wait for the right moment, wait until another animal came soaring over his head.
Lion came next, his soft, yellow body landing quiet a distance in the hallway. Jumping up, Lloyd took sight of his target and threw the duck, the little animal nearly hitting its mark. As the duck crashed into the stacked chairs, Lloyd knew he needed to act.
He launched himself over the barricade, his little feet padding forward. His tiny arms gathered stuffed animals as he approached his father, the man distracted by his force field. "Prepare!" In one motion, the boy was over the chairs and tossing the stuffed animals onto his father.
Just when the boy thought it was over, Kratos grabbed his son and picked him up, pulling him far away from his ammunition. "I've got you now!" The father began buzzing at his child's tummy, Lloyd erupting in a fit of giggles.
"Daddy! Stop!" As the red toddler thrashed around, his father dropped onto the sofa, setting to tickling the unfortunate prisoner. Even louder, Lloyd's voice came, each giggle echoing in the room more and more.
Not only was he losing, but he was losing fast. He needed to do something otherwise his father would win the war. Desperately, he looked around for anything. Teddy came into sight, the furry bear discarded just below the couch. It was a last ditch effort but he had to try.
Lloyd wiggled away from his father, his tiny body tumbling over the couch and taking hold of Teddy. In a mighty swoop, the brunette thwacked the auburn's head with the brown bear. Everything stopped, Kratos pausing to look at his child, whose eyes were screwed shut.
Making dramatic noises, Kratos began to slowly die. He reached out to the sky, turning onto his back and dropping dead on the couch. The boy, as he suspected, was watching in awe. "Lloyd," his father whispered, drawing his son's ear close, "You've won." He closed his eyes, not moving.
Lloyd looked at his father, concern filling his rust colored eyes. Glancing between his mother and his father, Anna simply shrugged at him. "You won, dear."
"But mommy, now daddy's dead."
"Am I?" Kratos' arms wrapped around his son, the boy squeaking in surprise.
"Daddy!" Lloyd turned in his father's arms to hug him, the two embracing for a long time. Anna started giggling, both men looking at her.
"You two are so cute." A ding at the clock distracted all three of them; it was already midnight, the New Year being ushered in with the sound of a grandfather clock. Lloyd broke free, running outside without waiting for his parents.
When all three were outside, their eyes were greeted with bright lights shooting into the sky. As the blues and reds slashed about in the sky, their reflection in the lakes only added to their majesty. They simply stood, watching and waiting for it to be over, the young boy involved in every bit of it. Whenever a new color would appear, he'd tug at his father's sleeve, asking if he'd seen the color as well.
Magic. It was the only word Lloyd knew to describe it all. He'd never seen what his mother was calling 'fire works' but he knew he'd love to see them again and again. Even though they were so distant, they were still beautiful and magical, creating several enchanting images in the child's mind.
But as soon as it started, it was over and Lloyd frowned.
"Don't be so down, Lloyd," his father's voice sounded distant. Turning around, Lloyd could see the man working with something. As he stood it up steadily, he turned and grinned at his son, "We've got some fireworks of our own."
Anna and Lloyd stood back as Kratos lit the fuse, the auburn running towards them before it could shoot off. When it did, the rocket launched high into the sky, exploding in a ray of red and gold. The shimmering sparks disappeared into darkness, the child's eyes still catching them. Seeing it up close, the boy giggled before hugging his father. "It was red, daddy! You made it red!"
The three hugged each other close, the warmth of their bodies bring a sense of calm upon them. Lloyd was truly happy as the two pulled away, Anna heading inside while saying something about breaking out the cake and champagne, whatever that was. Kratos took his son's little hand, grasping it in his larger one.
"I love you, Lloyd." Giving a soft smile towards Lloyd, the boy scoffed before tugging his dad along.
"I know, daddy. You need to stop being so mushy." This earned a chuckle from the older man as the two ventured inside, the smell of cake entering their noses. As they entered the kitchen, it was clear Anna had already sliced pieces of the cake, as she was holding two small plates. On one, a giant piece with extra icing sat while on the other, a skinny piece sat and looked rather depressing.
She handed the large one to her son, "This one's for you." She winked at Kratos, who heaved a sigh. As Anna handed her husband his tiny slice the boy wandered to the kitchen table and grinned toward father.
"Why does he get the bigger slice?"
"Because he won against you," she giggled before kissing Kratos on the cheek, "If, by some act of fate, you win, you'll get the bigger slice next time."
"That's right daddy," Lloyd said before taking a huge bite of his cake, the icing already staining his tiny face, "Blame your fate." Everything was indeed perfect and the toddler could honestly say he was looking forward to the upcoming year.