Jake rolled over only to feel a large tongue against his face. He groaned and sat up. Without fail, Winston had woken him before the sun was even up once again. It had almost two and half years since Jake had moved to Wit's End to attend the Creative Academy. In that time he changed from the rebel, fire loving boy to the star of the stage. He had to admit he loved his life with the Applewhites. He had been employed as an official Proof reader for Sybil. He often helped Zedediah and Archie in the workshop. He was the first one Destiny showed any of his (as he would call them) masterpieces. Of course Randolph casted him in all of the Applewhites stage productions. Counting 'the Sound of Music' Jake had been five plays and loved every one. He favorites had been playing the lion in 'the Wizard of Oz' and toad in 'Wind in the Willows.'
For the coming spring play, Randolph, Sybil and Lucille were all working together to write their first original play. They had all kept it a secret from the rest of the family. But with the end of the latest Applewhite production a few weeks ago they would have to reveal it soon. The preparations for the by-annual Applewhite play production normally began months in advance to prevent the chaos that had been 'Sound of Music.' But today the Applewhites had another reason to celebrate. It was Destiny's sixth birthday. The party had been extra hard to plan this year. It was getting harder to keep things from the nosey little guy now. Jake could barely come up with good enough excuses to avoid get reeled in by Destiny for some hair-brain idea.
When Winston licked his face again he gave in. "Ok, ok. I'm getting up." He showered and got dressed. The heading out in the cold November morning. It was late November by now all the leaves had fallen of the trees and the weather brought promises of snow any day now. Jake pulled his scarf around his neck tighter. The headed to the farmhouse with Winston at his heels per normal thinking of a warm breakfast, even if it meant eating Sybil's cooking. The Farmhouse was warm and toasty. He took of his coat. He got a shock when we walked into the kitchen. It wasn't Sybil or even Lucille doing the cooking. It was E.D.
"I'll be dammed. You're cooking."
"Oatmeal. Anything is better than mom's cooking want some." He could see the steaming pot of oatmeal.
"Yes please." He said as his stomach growled. She spooned some of the oatmeal into a bowl and handed it to him then took out a bowl for herself. He pored some honey into the bowl and sat at the table. E.D. put a bowl on the floor for Winston before sitting herself.
"Are we the only ones up?" he asked forcing a large spoon full of the warm oatmeal into his mouth.
"No one is going to take your food, slowdown before you choke." He gave her uneven grin, one cheek filled with oatmeal. "I won't cho…cho…" his eyes suddenly bulged and he made spluttering noises.
"Oh my God Jake!" She yelled and jumped out of her seat. He grabbed at his neck.
"Oh, what do I do? Can you stand? I'll have to give you the Heimlich." Jake began laughing. She hit him on the head, he only laughed louder.
"It's not funny. I thought you were really in trouble. The next time you are choking for real don't look at me for help."
"It was a joke."
"Not a very funny one."
"What are you talking about? Didn't you hear me laughing." He grinned at her. She rolled her eyes and hit him again but not as hard. She couldn't stay mad at him for long.
"So, are we the only ones up?" Jake asked again, making an effort to take small amounts on his spoon. E.D. noted this with a small smile.
"I think so. Everyone was up late make last minutes arrangements."
"If the party is after lunch are we going to work on our project this morning."
"I see no reason why not to." For their latest project they had decided to study cloud formations. Jake had agreed to it believing it would mean a lot of cloud watching. But E.D. being E.D. found a way to make even more complicated than it was. Jake never realized before just how many types of clouds there were. Really there were only four or five main types, but there many ways those few types could combine to make hundreds of different kinds. A lot of them were very similar to each other. E.D was determined not to miss classify any cloud. So it ended up been a lot of pictures of clouds and a lot of looking through books about clouds. That was another thing, do you realize how many books about clouds there were. They found six different geography and meteorology books with sections about clouds. Plus E.D. had ordered three books that were fully devoted to anything and everything cloud.
"Hey, do you know what day it is?"
Both E.D and Jake jumped. E.D. turned around and found Destiny standing at the door.
"I think it's Tuesday." She said.
"Yep, it's Tuesday." Jake said giving her a wink.
"Yes but what's special about today."
"I cooked." E.D. said. Destiny frowned.
"It's my birthday!" E.D and Jake shared a look.
"No, it's not." Jake said.
"Yes it is. I know 'cause it circled it in the calendar."
"If it was your birthday you would be six today." E.D. said.
"I'm six today."
"You can't be. It's not your birthday." She said.
"Yes it is. Yes it is! YES IT IS!"
"I don't think so Des." Jake said.
"Fine I'll go ask mama." Destiny trampled out of the room. E.D. and Jake laughed. It was part of the plan to make Destiny think everyone forgot his birthday.
"We should go before he walks up mom. You get the snacks." E.D. said. Jake shoved down the rest of his oatmeal and faked choking again. E.D punched him before running up to her room. She grabed their cloud watching kit. The three books she had bought, a binoculars and camera. All wrapped up in the blanket they used in lie on. She grabbed some extra blankets since it was cold today. She found Jake outside holding a bag of ores and two canteens of instant hot chocolate.
They headed out to the meadow and spread the blanket. When she went to take out her books Jake grabbed her hand.
"Oh no. Not today. Today we're going to watch the clouds like normal people." He pushed her down so she was lying against the blanket.
"But the project…"
"Is finished. E.D. there cannot be another type of could to find."
"Yes there can we have not documented a nimbostratus and a…" he put a hand over her mouth.
"I don't want to hear. I lie back. Look at the clouds."
"I don't care."
"Th.." he covered her mouth again. "No." he said firmly. She tried to get to through to him with her eyes. He shook his head. She rolled her eyes. He removed his hand.
"One day that's all I'm asking."
"Fine. One day." He grinned and pulled a blanket over them before laying back.
"See this is what cloud watching should be."
"Doing absolutely nothing."
"Exactly." He said grinning at her. She rolled her eyes again. She hated to admit it but it was nice just laying there. They opened to the ores and shared the pack, dunking them in the hot chocolate.
"Hey I had a weird dream last night." Jake said suddenly. She turned her head to look at him. He wasn't looking at her. His gaze was fixed straight up. His jaw was clenched.
"It had my dad in it." He said after a long silence.
"What happened?" She asked softly. Even though he never admitted it his father was a sore spot of Jake. Even before his father was jailed he had a 'bad' relationship with him. It was probably the only thing he wouldn't talk to her about.
"He was mad with me." He said. She propped up on her elbow so she could look at his face properly. She didn't say anything waiting for him to continue.
"He was mad I didn't go to see him or write." He jaws locked together. "How can he be upset with me? He was the one who was never around. You know I don't remember him saying I love you. Not once." He sat up. She put a hand on his shoulder.
"I know it's not the same but I love you, we all do. You're an Applewhite for life." He looked at her smiled but she could see the pain behind it.
"I know E.D. This is the first place I felt like I belonged. You all took me in, even if you may not have liked me at first." He gave her a shy grin. "You all changed me. You, you became my best friend." His face fell again. "But he's my dad. My dad. I frankly I liked Destiny when I first met him more that I like my father." She squeezed his shoulder slightly. He rested his hands on top of hers.
"Maybe your dream means something. Maybe you should reach out to him."
"NO!" he shouted causing her to jump. "I don't want him in my life." He got up suddenly and walked away. She thought about following him but decided against it. He need some time alone.
"Hey, E.D. come help us set up. Archie just took Destiny out." Cordelia her older sister called from the house.
"Be right there."
"Where's Jake?" she asked went E.D. came up to her.
"Am, he's in a mood, he'll be back when he steams off." She said. Cornelia shrugged. They sent up the Decorations for the party. While Lucille and their mom made the food. E.D. was glad they ordered the cake. When the time for Archie to return with the birthday boy came around E.D. went up to her room to get her present. She took out hers and Jake's present. He had hid his in her room since Destiny spent more time in Jake's room than his own. She hear a knock and turned to see Jake standing in the doorway.
"Hey." He said sheepishly.
"Hey. You better now."
"Yeah. I'm sorry for yelling at you." She walked to him and handed her his present.
"It's fine, I don't blame you." He took the present from her looking at the ground not saying anything. She tilled his head upwards to make sure he was looking at her and said. "Forget it. It's not a big deal."
"But it is. I can away count on you to talk. I shouldn't have yelled."
"Would you let it go? What are best friends for? She punched him lightly.
"Hey they're back." Hal called from downstairs. They went down and waited in the living room with everyone else. They all yelled 'Happy Birthday' when Destiny walked in.
"I knew it. It was my birthday!" he yelled happily. Without out so much as thank you he grabbed the closest present and ripped it open. It was good party, everyone had cake, there were a lot spinach Danishes left and music to dace to. Destiny had the same dance moves no matter the song: wiggle his hands in the air, shake one foot shake the other foot, wiggle his hands in front of him. He made everybody do it once. He made Jake do it seven times. E.D. was beside herself with laughter.
"Oh you think it's funny? C'mere." He grabbed and pulled her out onto the lawn were they were dancing. But instead of doing the wiggle dance like she expected he put one hand on the small of her back and the other intertwined with her left hand. She blushed as he pulled her close.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"Dancing with my best friend." He said moving effortlessly to the beat of the music.
"Aren't you full of surprises Jake Semple." She said when he performed a perfect dip. A round of applause came from everyone. "I didn't know you could dance this well."
"Oh, don't you know? I attend this school called the Creative Academy. The staff is a little weird, especially the teacher for cloud watching but there is a really good dance teacher." She laughed. They continued dance for several more songs till they couldn't dance anymore. So they sat down in the grass and watch Destiny's wiggle dance. Randolph appeared suddenly.
"Jake can I talk to you?" he asked. Both E.D and Jake noticed his face was grim but Jake stood up and followed him back into the house. After a few minutes she saw Jake run out the back entrance. What had happened? She got up to follow but felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked around to see her dad.
"He needs some time alone." He said.
"What happened?" She asked.
"His father died yesterday."