Thursday, December 5, 2019

Chapter 110

He woke up to the sound of a knock on his bedroom door. Momentarily he was confused but his brain caught up quickly to remind him he was in a hotel room in Osaka.

"What?" He reached for his phone that was charging on the night stand to check the time.
"Gym time." Jon responded.
His phone read past 11am, at least he had gotten a decent amount of sleep. "Alright, give me a minute." Moving the sheets, he started to get up.
"Just looking out for you, man."

Richie rolled his eyes as he got up and found his suitcase. Last night, he had only rummaged through it to find toiletries, not needing anything else yet. Now, he searched for some gym shorts and a t-shirt to wear there.

By now, going to the gym in the morning had become a routine to him. Still, he didn't last as long on the treadmill as Jon did but he didn't care about that. After half an hour of running, he stopped the treadmill to get off of it and headed towards the weight rack, gauging which weights he should go for today before picking them up.

As he waited for Jon to finish up his shower in the bathroom they were sharing, he got comfortable on the couch and Facetimed Sarah. It was disappointing to find out his little guy had already gone to sleep but Richie was glad he was behaving for his mom and not giving her any trouble. This way, he could catch up with her before he'd have to head to the arena.

"Is that Sarah?"
Richie looked up at Jon who had just walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He was sure it was obvious who he was talking to but answered anyway, "Yes, it is."
"Hi Sarah!" Jon called as he crossed the room.
Richie looked down at his phone to see Sarah laugh.
"Hi Jon. Are you guys having fun sharing a room?" She asked them both.
"I'd be having a lot more fun if Jon wasn't naked." Richie told her, watching as her happy expression turned to a question.
"You've seen worse." Jon responded. "At least I'm wearing a towel."
"I have indeed seen worse." Richie agreed.
"We used to share backstage showers." Jon reminded him.
"That's what I meant with worse."

Soundcheck went fairly smoothly. Jon was still working on the setlist but insisted on practicing a wide variety of songs. Richie knew it mostly would be the same as it always was, there was no way to leave out the classics and more and more songs were starting to become classics that had to be played during a concert.

"Why don't you do vocals on In These Arms?" Jon asked, looking over at David behind him.
What he said made Richie look up in surprise from fiddling with his guitar.
"Absolutely." David agreed easily, adjusting his equipment to do so.
Jon turned around again to look at Richie. "Ready?" He asked, getting a nod before counting down to start the song.

It wasn't far into the song that he felt the guitar string snap. He pulled his right hand back, shaking it at the sting he felt.

Jon stopped playing, confused, he started to get agitated at the mistake he heard but then looked over to his right to see what had happened. "You alright there?" He asked.
"Fuck." Richie swore, it stung a lot. He held his hand still to check it out.
"Did it cut?" Jon asked, walking over to him.
He used his left hand to put pressure on it, trying to ignore the sting he felt. "Yup."

Backstage, in his dressing room, Richie watched Jon open the first aid kit they had found. Finally he took his hand off of the cut, it looked like the cut had stopped bleeding by now. Disregarding that, he still cleaned it out with the disinfectant Jon passed him, making sure it would be alright.

"Do you want a band aid?" Jon asked him, going through the kit, looking for one.
"I'm good." It would only be in the way later and it had stopped bleeding.
Jon looked up at him. "Are you sure? I could probably find you a Hello Kitty band aid somewhere."
"I'm sure." He said, resisting the eye roll.
"Just looking out for you man."
That made him roll his eyes. "Thanks, you could be more useful and find superglue."

The actual show that night went a lot better and was without injuries or faulty guitar strings. Shows in Japan were always a little extra special. They had a lot to owe to their Japanese fans.

As they started In These Arms, Jon introduced David to the audience before leaving the stage and taking a break himself. Richie was too lost in the moment to even consider thinking if his guitar's string would do the same as it did during soundcheck.

Backstage, he took his time showering. They'd be on a plane in just a little while, he'd take his time enjoying his freedom before being stuck in cars and an airplane.

The flight was fairly quiet, it was almost midnight and everyone was fine with having some quiet downtime during their short flight. Their hour flight was spent by talking about the show and what they should repeat or improve for their show tomorrow night. Tomorrow would go by fast, Richie was sure he'd sleep in, by the time he got up, ate and would be ready to go it would most likely be time for soundcheck and then the show afterwards. At least they wouldn't travel until Thursday morning, their first show in Australia wouldn't be until Saturday. Thursday would be a travel day, Friday would be his day off to enjoy Melbourne, the weekend would be more concerts.

By the time they arrived at their new hotel, it was past 2am. Getting to their rooms was a lot easier than it had been on Saturday, no complaints.

"Are you going to be okay in a room on your own?" Richie asked as he walked up to his room with Jon next to him.
Jon gave him a confused look, wondering what he was on about.
"I'll just be next door if you get scared or anything, okay?"
"You're still on about that?" Jon asked him.
In response, Richie shrugged. "Just looking out for you man."
Jon pushed his door open and walked inside without giving a reply.

Richie smiled to himself, feeling accomplished in annoying Jon as he opened his own room and walked inside.

Not bothering with anything else, he started getting ready for bed. It wasn't that late but he looked forward to sleeping in.

He brushed his teeth and undressed before sitting down on the bed, leaning back against the pillows covering the headboard. Making sure his phone was plugged in, he started a video call to Sarah.

It didn't take Sarah long to accept the call.

He smiled at his phone screen. "Hey baby." He knew he sounded excited.
"Hi, how was the show?" Sarah asked right away.
Richie could see from the background that she was in the living room, he could imagine Daniel was playing in his corner. "Show was good, just got to Tokyo. Thought I'd phone you and show you my battle wound before going to bed."
She gave him a questioning look, confused at what he meant by that. "What? Battle wound?"
"Yeah." He sounded more excited than he should be as he switched to the back camera, knowing full well that would be showing the boxers he was wearing before he moved it to show her his hand. "A guitar string snapped and hit me." He showed her the red cut on the back of his right hand.
"Ouch." Sarah said as she saw the red line next to his tattoo. "Does that happen often?"
"Nope. One time I sliced my thumb doing the windmill though." Richie almost sounded proud at his injuries, or accomplishments. "I don't even know how it happened today, never done that before."
"Don't do it again, it looks painful."
"It was painful, stung like a bitch when it happened."

Their conversation changed topics as Sarah told her husband about her day so far, it was only mid-morning, the previous day for her. Doing the same as Richie had done, she switched her camera to the back one to show Daniel playing on his own in his little corner. The boy was happily occupied by all of his toys, playing nicely. Sarah only had to mention daddy once before he looked up and understood what was going on. Richie watched as Daniel crawled over to the couch where Sarah picked him up to say hi to him as well. Seeing Sarah with Daniel in her lap made him happy. The two of them always made him happy.

The next day was almost a repeat of the day before, when he finally got out of bed, he had a small breakfast before meeting up with Jon for some gym time. After showering his work out sweat off, he had lunch, then was ready to head to the arena for another soundcheck. Luckily, this time it was without injuries to cut it short for them, leaving them with the usual hour they took to complete soundcheck.

Backstage, he kept himself busy with various things. There was a lot of time before the show and he was waiting on a good time to give Sarah another call, knowing it was still early at home or she would be busy. Instead, he made sure to text Ava, making sure she was getting ready for school. Surely she had some time to text in between getting ready and having breakfast, that phone was mostly glued to her after all.

Around 5, he left his dressing room and went to knock on Jon's door, as he did so, he pushed the door open. He didn't need to wait. Seeing Jon sitting down on the couch was what he had expected, he walked over and joined him. A frown formed on his face as he saw what Jon was working on.

"That's the same setlist as last night." Richie pointed out.
Jon looked up agitated at his comment, "It's not."
"It looks exactly the same." He knew it was hard to play around songs if there were so many that were songs they had to play. There was no way they could leave out the hits or the new songs but at least mix them up a little.
"There's a few differences."
Richie looked more closely. "The ninth song is different."

He pulled out his phone that still had a picture of last night's setlist, taken before he was given a paper copy of it and showed his phone to Jon. How much clearer was he supposed to make his point?

"Yeah, well, fuck it." Jon grumbled frustrated with it.
Richie shook his head. "That's not very nice."
"Fuck that too."
"What the fuck's wrong with you?" His question was more annoyed than actually worried.

He watched Jon's face turn serious just before he went off into a rant.

In the end, there wasn't enough time to actually change anything more about the setlist and they stuck to what Jon had so far. This time, Richie didn't bother taking a picture of it to remember it before seeing the one taped to the floor next to his mike stand.

Regardless of the setlist's lack of quality, in his opinion, the show still went well. The crowd loved it and was just as excitable as last night's. On stage, no one noticed Jon's bad mood, except for the rest of the band. They knew all the little signs when Jon tried to hide how he felt on stage, the show didn't have to suffer because of it.

Not until they were back at the hotel, getting to their rooms did Richie try to catch up with Jon. During the drive they both simply had wanted some peace and quiet but now at the hotel, they had that.

"Do you want to talk or something?" Richie asked, not bothering to take his room key out just yet, depending on Jon's answer.
"You sure?" He asked. "Talking can be helpful." He wanted to add the running joke they had had for the last few days but thought better of it.

Richie watched as Jon went into his hotel room, then decided to do the same. If Jon didn't want to talk, he wasn't going to insist on it. The man could deal with his issues however he wanted, although Richie knew it would be a bottle of wine.

Inside his room, he went for another shower. They had rushed out of the arena to get to the hotel as quickly as they could and a hot shower after a show always felt good.

The next morning, he slept in, knowing it was a travel day so what else did have to do? Figuring Jon was still grumpy like the day before, he wasn't going to bother with getting up early and going to the gym with him before travelling. Especially on his day off and having to be on a plane for ten hours later on.

When they got on the plane, everyone steered clear of Jon, leaving Richie more choice of seats when he joined Jon at the table. Instead of going for his usual window seat, he sat down opposite of Jon.

He sat down quietly, then looked up at Jon. "You okay?" He asked carefully.
Jon nodded. "Fine."
"Alright." Richie agreed, at least there was no snapping. That was a good sign so far so he added on. "Just looking out for you man."
It made Jon chuckle just that tiny bit for them both to know he was alright. "Thanks."

Richie didn't question anything else and decided to let it be. Not because he liked to express his feelings that Jon was the same way. He knew that. While he liked to talk things out, Jon preferred to deal with them privately. It had been like that for the last thirty years, it definitely wasn't going to change now.

From his shoulder bag, he retrieved the book he had finished on their last flight and passed it over to Jon. "Want to finish it?"

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Chapter 109

He woke up a few hours later, he looked to his right where Jon was still sitting as if he hadn't moved at all, except he was holding a book. Richie sat up and stretched, then looked at Jon again.

"Are you reading my book?" He asked.
Jon looked up from the book. "Good morning to you too."
Jon turned his wrist to check for the time. "5, means we're almost there."
"Thank fuck." Richie started getting up, feeling the soreness of being cooped up for so long.

He waited for Jon to move so he could get into the path and walk to the washroom. He needed to stretch after sleeping in a chair for almost 4 hours.

On his way back he stopped at David's seat for a quick chat, glad to be standing for a little longer before he returned to his seat again. A private plane was definitely more comfortable but in the end, it was still just a plane and that didn't change all that much about a 15 hour flight.

Returning to his seat, he sat down across from Jon. "Enjoying my book?"
"It's pretty good."

His phone read 2:15am when the plane finally landed but they were told it was 6pm locally. That was by far the longest time difference he had had in his relationship with Sarah. He couldn't wait to get to the hotel and give her a call. It would wake her up, he knew that but he wouldn't be able to do anything with his day if he didn't at least let her know he had arrived.

Before entering the hotel, their road manager stopped them from going any further as soon as they were out of the cars.

"They fucked up." He said, already noticing everyone's moods changing as soon as he said it.
"How much did they fuck up?" Jon countered with his question.
Richie looked at him, noticing how angry he sounded already.
"They got the rooms wrong. Someone miscommunicated and they've got us all in rooms with two bedrooms in them instead of two separate rooms."
"So we're sharing?" Jon sounded even more angry.
Richie looked at their road manager, seeing how he knew they messed up but wasn't able to fix it for them. "It's fine man." He looked at Jon. "We'll be roomies."
"Why do you get to pick roommates first?" David countered quickly from his other side.
Richie looked at him, confused at why he would protest. "Did you want to share with Jon?"
"Hell no."
"Then what the fuck are you complaining?" He asked.
"I just want the option to pick."
Richie sighed at how little sense that explanation made. "Then decide if you want to share with Tico, Hugh or Bobby?"
Jon took his key cards and walked away, done with everything and everyone.
"Hey," Richie said, catching up to him, "I need a key too."

Jon kicked the door closed after Richie opened it for them and they made their way into the room. Richie shook his head and walked to the main room, dropping his shoulder bag on one of the chairs. The room was pretty big, there was a living room with dining area and a wet bar, no full kitchen this time. By the looks of it the two bedrooms were separated with the bathroom between it. He walked over to the bedrooms, looking inside both, deciding which one he wanted for himself but finding them almost exact.

He turned around when Jon was still continuing his hissy fit by the entrance to their room.

"How can they fuck up booking rooms!"
Richie rolled his eyes and walked back to him. "Work on your Japanese and book them yourself next time." He pointed out smartly.
"It can't be that hard."
"Maybe not but just calm down, will you? It's not that big of a deal, it's only a couple nights, we're leaving on Tuesday after the show and we still have separate rooms. We've done worse."
"I doubt it."
"You doubt?" Richie questioned him. "We used to share a fucking bed so get over yourself."
Jon just glared at him in response.
"Go pick out a bedroom and go have a nap or something so I can call my wife."

He ignored Jon after that and sat down on the couch, pulling his phone from his pocket as he did so. With a swipe he unlocked the screen and opened Sarah's contact, then touched the phone icon to call her. Once he heard Jon close the bedroom door, he stretched out on the couch and put the phone on speaker phone, waiting for a reply from Sarah instead of the ringing tone. As he waited for a reply,  he opened messages and started a text to Ava. In the middle of it he heard the ringing tone stop as his call was answered.

"Sarah?" He asked when a reply didn't come right away.
"I'm here." She mumbled.
In her voice, he could hear he had woken her up. "I'm sorry." Quickly, he apologized first. "I just wanted to let you know I got to the hotel."
"What time is it?" Sarah asked sleepily.
"For me or for you?"
He looked at the corner of his phone as he continued typing his text to Ava. "7:35, pm, he clarified." Then he heard Sarah trying to do the mental math as she didn't answer him right away. "16 hours." He added on, saving her from calculating it.
"How's Japan?" Sarah asked him quickly.
Easily he could start to hear the difference in her voice, he was waking her up. He didn't mind. "Not all that great so far. They messed up the rooms so I get to share with Jon. He's very angry about it. I sent him to bed like the 5 year old he was acting like."
Sarah chuckled at that. "That's because he doesn't sleep on planes."
"The boy needs his naps." Richie agreed with his own chuckle.

It had only been a day and he already missed her so much.

After a little while, he decided to let Sarah go back to sleep. Surely she was tired as it was the middle of the night for her. Time didn't make much sense to him right now.

Once he said goodbye, Richie attempted keeping himself busy but the TV was too Japanese and after browsing on his phone for a while, he felt bored. He looked up at the bedrooms, one door closed as Jon had most likely gone to sleep.

Just as he though of going to check what everyone else was up to, he heard noise outside of the room and got up to investigate. Unlike he had expected it was just their bags being dropped off after the mix up the hotel had made. He helped out hauling them into the room, then took his own to his room, leaving Jon's outside his door. He regarded his suitcases for a second until his guitar case made the most sense to him. Picking it up, he carried it back to the living room and took it out of the case.

Jon sighed when he walked out of the bedroom, finding what had woken him up. Knowing it was useless to say anything, he walked over to the couch where Richie was sat playing his guitar. It took a moment before Richie looked up at him, he always got lost.

"Yes?" Richie asked when he noticed Jon staring down at him. Realizing that meant Jon was awake, made him change his answer. "Oh, did I wake you up?"
"Kind of, yeah."
"Sorry, I was killing time until dinner."
That one caught Jon's attention. "Want to go for dinner?"

They easily found a sushi place in the large city, even if it was close to 10pm locally. There would never be a way that his first meal in Japan would not be sushi. It'd be the same as going to Italy and not having pizza, it did not make sense.

The restaurant was fairly small which was always a good sign. Generally Japanese people respected their privacy more than fans at home or in Europe. It was easier to sneak away here than it was in many other cities. After the long day they had, it was nice to be able to go out for dinner peacefully and not be overwhelmed by everybody.

When Richie's sushi craving had been satisfied, they headed back to the hotel. It was getting late, although it really didn't feel like that at all.

That feeling was confirmed when Sarah texted him a good morning. Not much later he finally got his reply from Ava as well. Glad she had not woken up in the middle of the night for him. As they were driven back to the hotel, he continued his text conversation with Ava and Sarah. Noticing Jon next to him was doing the same on his own phone. When he finally got a response to his text to Noah, he gladly told him all about the book he had read on the plane. He'd hang on to it for Noah to read as well.

Not much later, the car parked outside of the hotel and Richie and Jon headed for the elevator. Looking up for a second, Richie found the perfect moment to bug Jon again.

"Do you need me to hold your hand in the elevator?" He asked as he pressed the button to make the doors open.
Jon's eye roll was almost audible. "Fuck off." He said as the doors slid open and he stepped inside.
Richie shrugged, still enjoying his joke. "Nothing wrong with claustrophobia."
"Then why are you being annoying?"
"I'm not being annoying. I'm looking out for you." He followed Jon into the elevator and watched him press the button for their floor.
"Pretty sure I've been taking elevators for years now."
"I remember when we used to have to take the stairs."
"Was good for you." Jon pointed out.
"Calling me fat again?"
"Just looking out for you man."
Richie laughed at that, knowing Jon was trying to annoy him in return but he didn't mind it. "Thanks, we should hit the gym again tomorrow morning, get a run in." He didn't actually mind that idea at all.

Richie used his key card to let them both into their hotel room. His texts from Sarah had ended as she had to start get ready for the day, then take Noah to school. He had wished her a good night, just in case he did go to bed and didn't have a chance to do so again.

Jet lag was definitely going to bother him. It was past 11pm by now but he still felt as if it was yesterday afternoon or something. His nap on the plane had been short but all together, it surely didn't feel as if it was close to midnight.

On the other hand, that wasn't a terrible feeling either. Tomorrow they would be coming back from their show around this time. He could try to catch up on sleep or keep busy for a little longer and make sure he would be able to sleep.

"Want to watch a movie?" He asked Jon as he moved his guitar off the couch where he had left it and into its case for safekeeping.
"Sure." Jon responded, not sounding too sure about it.
"Did you want to go to bed?" Richie asked, making sure before starting up a movie. "I just don't think I can sleep." He picked up the remote so try and search for a movie.
"I'll be fine. Which movie."
"Not The Godfather." Richie didn't really care but it was always the same movie with Jon. "Broaden your horizons for once."
"Whatever. Pick a movie." Jon went over to the mini fridge in the bar area and found some snacks and drinks to bring over to the couch.

Richie got himself comfortable on the couch as he accepted what Jon passed him, then watched Jon get settled in the chair next to the couch before turning on the movie.

A while into the movie, Richie couldn't help himself, knowing Jon hated whenever someone started talking during a movie but he just had to say it.

"This brings back memories." He said, looking over at Jon.
Jon finished the handful of popcorn he had just stuffed into his mouth before agreeing. "Yeah, it kind of does."
"We had good times." Richie reminisced about their early days.
"We still have good times." Jon pointed out, wiping his hand on his jeans.
Richie nodded at that, it was true. They'd gotten older but it was still fun. "We're not sharing a bed though."
Jon raised an eyebrow in question at him. "Don't want to cuddle up with me?" He teased.
"I think we're both too married for that." Richie reminded him quickly, he knew they were only joking around but he was definitely too old to share a bed with another man. Unless it was a little man named Daniel.

He focused on the TV and the movie again but his mind wasn't all there. It had gotten stuck in 1988 where Jon and him did this often in the middle of the night or trying to live through jet lag like they were now. Everything was so different back then, they always shared rooms back then. There became a point where they could afford to get separate rooms for everyone but back then it was fun to share and keep an extra room for other, more private needs when needed.

Nowadays, they all enjoyed their downtime in a different way which lead to private rooms for everyone.

He tried to think of the last time they really had shared a room, he knew it was back in the 80's but couldn't pin point a time where they decided to spend the extra money. All he knew for sure was that touring in the 90's with Keep The Faith was when he got his own room. Generally always right next to Jon. Not that it really had mattered or made a difference but that's just how it went. These days, he didn't care all that much. As long as he had a bed to sleep in and could spend his free time the way he pleased.

A slight noise to his left, brought him back to the hotel room. Looking over, he noticed Jon had fallen asleep in the chair next to him. The time on his phone showed his mind had wandered for the last half hour. He was clueless about what the movie was about and decided to leave it that way. Grabbing the remote, he turned the TV off and sat up, reaching out to Jon next to him.

"Dude." Richie got up from the couch, ready to head to bed himself as he reached out to shake Jon's shoulder.
It took him two more tried before Jon looked up at him. "What?" He asked confused.
"Just though you might want to go lay down in bed." Richie clarified.
Jon yawned as he stretched before standing up from the chair. "Thanks."
"No problem." Richie headed towards the bedroom that he had moved all of his stuff into earlier. "Just looking out for you man."

Monday, November 25, 2019

Chapter 108

Tomorrow morning he would have to leave for Japan. Knowing that made him a little sad. The last few weeks at home had been wonderful. He got to spend them exactly how he wanted, he got a lot of family time with everyone. Several times he had the chance to take Ava out for lunch or dinner just to spend some time alone to talk and catch up on everything that was going on in Ava's life, which was a lot. With Noah, he had tried to do the same, although not as successfully as it was with Ava but he still felt like he had gotten to know him better in those few weeks. Their trip to the bookstore had really sparked it all and he could kick himself for not doing something like that before when he reminded himself that he had done exactly that before without the same results. He was happy to look back on their afternoon as a real bonding moment. Their drives home from school were a little more talkative as Noah would actually tell him about classes. Noah wouldn't say so but Richie started to get the idea that Noah wasn't having the best time of his life in high school like Ava was. Being gone for almost all of the first school semester, did not make him feel better about that, he should have noticed how Noah was feeling. Instead he thought Noah was fine and spent his time with Ava and Daniel. He hoped that the small moments of hair styling, playing clue, discussing Daniel's new picture books and judging movies on their books during the last few weeks meant something to Noah as well. Maybe once he got back, he'd get on those drive lessons again.

"I'm going to miss you so much." Sarah said as she got into bed next to him.
He turned off the TV he had forgotten about a while ago and moved to cuddle her. "I'm going to miss you too. It won't be long." He assured her.
"I know, but you'll be so much further away. With the time difference, I won't get to talk to you as much."
Sighing, he agreed. "I know but we'll figure it out. It's only about two weeks."
Sarah nodded and cuddled closer against him, not wanting to let go of him tonight.

The next morning, he was up early. Ava had already gone to Heather's house the night before but he was still determined to make breakfast for everyone before he left.

It was looking to be a very long day. He had to fly to New York first before meeting up with the rest of the guys to head to Japan tonight on the band's airplane. So far, he planned to catch up on sleep and try and not be too jet-lagged by the time they arrived in Japan tomorrow.

He didn't look forward to it.

Trying to make breakfast, and the day, a little more fun for everyone, he decided on making pancakes for a change. One could never go wrong with pancakes after all and he knew Daniel loved them. As he baked his pancakes, he had Daniel in his high chair next to him. Sarah was still upstairs getting ready for the day and he wanted to get as much time as he could with his little boy before he had to leave him behind.

To his surprise it was Noah that walked into the kitchen first instead of 10 minutes before they had to leave for school. Except, today he would be taking Noah to school as Ava wasn't there to carpool with. Richie had planned to drop Noah off at school, then head straight for the airport and to New York.

After breakfast he had to remind himself that it was only a short time. Exactly like how he wanted to tour, a few weeks at a time instead of months at a time. It'd be less than two weeks, he knew that, and two weeks would be over very quickly. Then, he would have a nice long break to be at home, work on his own stuff and be with his family. Time for himself.

"I'll miss you." He said as he held Sarah in a close hug, not wanting to let go just yet.
Sarah sniffed against him as she held onto his embrace.
"Please don't cry."
She pulled her arm back to wipe her eyes. "I try."
"I know." He soothed, rubbing her back.

Saying goodbye to Daniel he felt a little thorn, knowing Daniel didn't fully understand he would be gone for two weeks. Knowing he didn't understand entirely made Richie feel bad for leaving him, even if he wasn't upset about it at all.

He knew his son would miss him. Even if he couldn't say so.

Together with Noah, he walked out of the house to the car he had rented for the morning. Before walking out the door, he gave Sarah one last kiss before giving Daniel a quick kiss on his cheek, making him giggle and squirm. Richie loved it.

Sarah held Daniel in her arms as she stood in the doorway, watching her husband get in the car as the driver loaded the last bag into the trunk. She waved at them, at least she would be able to go pick Noah up after school. It wouldn't be the same without her husband around the house. From inside the car, she could see him wave as well, it made her smile and wave at him again until the car got onto the road.

"You'll make sure your mom's okay, right?" He asked Noah, worrying about leaving Sarah while he was in Japan and Australia. He didn't want anything else bad to happen while he was so far away.
Noah shrugged. "We'll be fine."
Richie sighed, the boy had a point, but he couldn't help but think of her episode last month. "I know."
"I'll make sure she's happy." Noah agreed.
It made him smile. "Thanks."

The driver parked at the school not much later.

It didn't take Noah long to grab his backpack and open his door, Richie had to stop him. "Wait a second."
Noah dropped the backpack and looked up at him expectantly.

Richie shook his head in thought, he would be on the other side of the world for two weeks and his son didn't seem to have any objections to that.

"You know you can always call me if you need me, right?"
Noah nodded, unsure of what he would need. "Sure."
"If you need to discuss a book or something."
"Or just talk." Richie continued.

A knock on the car window made him look over his shoulder. He smiled as he pushed the door open.

"Hey baby girl." He said, quickly getting out to give Ava a hug.
She hugged him tight. "Are you heading to the airport after?" She asked.
"Yeah, just dropping Noah off but I'm glad I got to see you." He let her go from his hug to take a good look at her. "I love you."
"Love you too daddy."
"I have to go." He apologized but Ava nodded, and let him go.

He smiled as Ava took a step back so he could get back in the car to say goodbye to Noah but once he sat down to do so Noah had already gotten out. He sighed, as he looked out the window, he could see Noah walk up to the school building. Sometimes he just didn't understand him.

After checking in at the airport, he went through security and searched for his gate. Not wanting to spend too much time lingering around. He stopped at a Starbucks for a coffee and looked for a store to get a snack.

He bought himself a chocolate bar and looked at the magazine stand, reading titles as he tried to make a choice on what to read. As soon as he spotted a guitar one, he picked it up, not minding much what the articles inside would be about as long as it would keep him busy for the next few hours. Having time to kill,  he browsed the book shelves as well. Noah had inspired him in doing so. He picked up a book with an interesting title and decided that he would have enough time on the way to Japan to read a few pages in it.

Before boarding the plane, he sent a quick text to Sarah and Ava, letting them know he would be taking off soon. He didn't expect an answer from Ava, as he hoped she was a good student in class but was happy to see Sarah answered almost right away. Reminding her he loved her very much, he sent off his next text. He knew he would do exactly the same when he arrived in New York and again by the time he would be leaving New York.

As they announced boarding for business class, he put his phone in his pocket and retrieved his ticket from his shoulder bag and headed over to the desk.

On the plane, he grabbed his guitar magazine before putting his shoulder bag away for now. He pulled his phone from his pocket, checking if he still had reception and sent Sarah an update. This flight wouldn't be too long, he knew that too but he would still rather not be on it at all. He loved to tour, he knew that as well but he loved being home with his family more. Only two weeks,  he had to remind himself. After that, he had as much time as he wanted. At least, he hoped so. There was no way he would be able to do nothing for a long time.

Before they landed, he finished his magazine. In the end, it wasn't as interesting as he had hoped and he decided to leave it behind for the next person.

When he got off the plane and was back inside an airport, he sent Sarah a text to update her. Then, sent another one to Jon to let him know he had arrived and just needed to get his bags.

Not much later, he walked into the lounge Jon had told him to meet him in.

"How was your flight?" Jon asked when he spotted Richie.
Richie shrugged at his question. "It was alright, not that exciting."
"When is flying exciting?"
"When we get turbulence." Richie stated quickly.
Jon glared at him in return. "Don't even bring that up."
"You scared?"
"Fuck off."
"I think you're scared." Richie teased. "You've been doing this for like thirty years, how are you still scared of flying?"
"Fuck you, I'm not scared." Jon defended himself. "Sometimes I get a little nervous."
Richie laughed at him. "You can sit next to me later, okay? I'll hold your hand when you get scared."
"Fuck off."
"Just looking out for you man." Richie shrugged.

It wasn't long before he was back on a plane, at least on this one, there was better company than on the last flight. Maybe he would actually get to read his book during this flight. He'd already flown for five hours and he felt very sorry for his ass that he had to fly again and sit on it even longer. For his own entertainment, he had made a big deal to sit next to Jon.

Before the plane started taxi-ing he sent his last text to Sarah for a while. Continental, he'd have WiFi to talk to her but since this was going to be a long international flight for them, it would also lose service. Instead, he remembered the book he had bought and reached for his bag from the floor to retrieve it. Along with it, he got his glasses, ready to do some reading.

Halfway through the first page, he heard Jon next to him. "What are you reading?"
Richie rolled his eyes at the question and looked up. "I don't know."
Jon frowned at him. "Then why are you reading it?"
"'Cause it looked interesting when I saw it but then someone started asking questions when I started reading."
"Fine. Read your book then."

He opened the book again and started back at the top of the page to read it again, not finding where he had been cut off just a minute ago.

A few pages into it, he got sucked into the story. Just as he had hoped it would be.

Once he was about halfway through, he folded the corner, thinking of how Noah would scold him for damaging the book like that.

He put the book on the table and looked at Jon next to him. "What time is it?" He wasn't wearing a watch himself and wasn't going to look for his phone if Jon was absorbed in his own.
"Almost 5.30."
"Oh dinner time." Richie responded cheerfully, although according to California time it wasn't nearly time yet.
"Isn't any time dinner time for you?" Jon asked him, locking his phone and putting it down.
"That's pretty bold."
Jon looked confused. "What?"
"Calling me fat like that while you definitely eat just as much."
"I also run a lot more."
"But I don't have messed up knees."
"For fuck's sake." David chimed in. "The both of you shut up. Some of us are trying to watch TV."

Richie had been right and it wasn't long before they had dinner which was fairly alright according to him. Better than what they served on regular airlines but still a microwaved meal. In the end it was a lot better than not having dinner at all.

Around 8, he pulled out his phone, wanting to text Sarah but remembering he wouldn't be able to do so. The last text he had sent her had been about 5 hours, just before the plane took off. He just wanted to talk to her, see what she was up to but instead just re-read the last few texts he they had sent to each other. Without WiFi his phone was almost useless, he exchanged it for the book he was reading and continued the story.

Deciding to leave the last 75 pages for later, he picked up on the heated conversation David and Jon were having next to him. Their talking was starting to distract him anyway.

It was around midnight when they decided to turn off to lights and try to get some sleep. They'd be landing is just under 6 hours. He watched everyone disperse in the cabin to find a quiet and comfy spot to get to sleep. Except Jon didn't move from next to him. He knew Jon wasn't going to sleep unless he was exhausted but instead of picking up a conversation again, he picked up his book to finish reading.

The last pages were intriguing and made him read faster to finish the book.

He turned the last page and closed the book. Pretty impressed he had finished it during the flight and how he had liked it. He'd have to tell Noah about it once they arrived in Japan.

"You going to sleep?" He asked Jon as he put the book back on the table.
Jon gave him a look that showed he should know better than to ask.
"Thought so." Richie said. "Well, I'm going to nap so I'm sorry if I snore." He apologized in advance.
"You could just go lay down." Jon told him.
"I have to make sure nobody opens the blinds and freaks you out." Richie said, making sure the blinds were down.
Jon's eye roll was almost as impressive as the ones Ava did.
"I'm just looking out for you man." He tried to sound more sincere this time, he was only half joking.
"Go to sleep." Jon grumbled at him but Richie took his instructions and did so.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Chapter 107

"That was amazing" Richie said when he finished his last bite, feeling thoroughly stuffed at the moment.

Thanksgiving dinner had been absolutely perfect. When he came down with Daniel and Noah, Sarah had been impressed with how well Noah dressed up. So much that she had to get several photos on her phone before they could even start dinner. The table was set lovely for the entire family to have dinner together. With Ava's help small details like napkins were perfected before everyone entered the room.

Richie knew Sarah felt incredibly proud of her Thanksgiving dinner, it took a lot of organizing and work to decorate and prepare. In the end it definitely paid off.

Now, as everyone finished eating, the only remains of the perfectly set table was a large carved turkey in the middle of the table.

"Did you like it?" Sarah asked him for confirmation.
"It was perfect." Richie told her. "I'm so fucking full right now, it was that good baby."
"More pie for us." Joan interjected into their conversation.
He looked up at her in shock. "What? No, I have space for pie."
"But you're full." Sarah agreed with Joan now.
"There's a special space for dessert. There's always space in the dessert stomach." He explained quickly.

Leaving clean up for later, they moved to the living room to recover from dinner before moving on to pie and ice cream for dessert.

In the living room, Richie turned on the TV to find the football game he was missing. No one objected and he happily sat down to watch. Noticing Ava's boyfriend did the same, he struck a conversation with him as Ava kept trying to get his attention back on her. As a dad, he was watchful of any boy Ava brought home but he also had to socialize with them so he kept the conversation on the topic of football.

He looked up when Sarah sat down next to him on the couch during a commercial break. "Could we do a family picture?" She asked. "The three of you look so handsome."
The idea of a photo sounded nice to him, it'd been a while they had had a photo of everyone, almost everyone. "Let's do it." He said, getting up from the couch. "Where?"
Sarah frowned in thought, thinking it over. "By the piano, that would look nice."

For the occasion, they took several photos. A few of the five of them, some with their mothers included. Of course, Ava needed a few with her boyfriend and then wanted one of just the two of them. Which made Richie want in on that, he wouldn't pass up on a nice picture of him and his wife. It didn't take for Daniel to get frustrated with all the fussing about photos and put an end to everyone's photo shoot.

"We still have to play that game I got for Noah." He reminded Sarah on the way back to the living room. "Or have dessert."
"Lets keep dessert for a little later, we could watch a movie or something after the game and have pie then."
He nodded, he wanted pie but he could wait a little longer, for Sarah.

It didn't take long for Noah to set up the game on the coffee table, putting out enough pieces for all the players. Ava had joined him on the floor to play the game. Joan and Abbey would be watching their grandchildren play from the couch. Noah explained the rules, making sure everyone understood the point of the game.

"Who do you think did it?" Richie whispered to Sarah next to him, looking at the cards in his hand, he had no clue.
Sarah gave him a quizzical look. "I don't think we should discuss it."
"I think we should."
She folded the cards into her hand, making sure he couldn't cheat. "I don't think so." She looked at the coffee table, watching as Noah played the next round.
Richie scooted a little closer and whispered again. "I'll share the win with you." He offered.
"How do you share a win to a board game?"
"Shared bragging rights." He clarified quickly, trying to convince her.
"Dad." Ava caught his attention. "It's your turn."

He rolled the dice quickly and played his turn, moving his character a few steps towards the next room he was going to explore. Then watched as Sarah did the same.

He whispered again when it was Noah's turn. "We'll form an alliance."
Sarah couldn't help but chuckle at that one. "You're a goof." She told him plainly.
"Just think of what's at stake here."
"Which is what?" Sarah asked.
"The bragging rights."
Sarah chuckled and shook her head.

After the game ended, with Ava solving the mystery and winning the game, Richie brought up pie again. His dessert stomach was running on empty and needed to be filled before he would have bedtime left overs. He helped Sarah with tidying up the dining room, putting everything away for tomorrow. In the kitchen, Sarah got a stack of plates from the cabinet, along with forks from the drawer.

"Ice cream, right?" Richie asked as he pulled the freezer open.
"If you want it." Sarah agreed.
"I need it." He clarified. How was he supposed to eat pie without ice cream? That made no sense whatsoever.

Carefully, he placed the home made pumpkin pie on the coffee table, then put down the tub of ice cream. He was more than ready to cut up this pie and eat it. His mom always made the best pie, nothing else could even come close to it. Maybe he was biased.

Once he had his plate of pie and ice cream, he leaned back on the couch and looked up at the TV to see what was happening in the football game. So far nobody had complained about it being on and he gladly continued watching, knowing that soon someone would suggest a movie. Not that he minded watching a movie with everyone but football was important too.

As empty plates started to stack on the coffee table, he started dreading the moment football would be turned off. The score was so close and only 8 minutes left in this quarter. He watched as Sarah got all the dishes together again to bring it all to the kitchen. Usually he would help, but the game...

"Can we watch a movie?" Sarah sat down next to him, ready to snuggle against him and watch a movie.
"Definitely." He agreed quickly, even though he wanted to watch the game.
Sarah smiled and reached in for a quick kiss. "Thank you."

She was always worth it. With the TV remote he looked for the movie guide they could rent from. Letting everyone have a say in what they wanted to watch was getting them absolutely nowhere. Noah suggested one of the Harry Potter movies which Ava strongly disagreed with. With every suggested movie, at least one person had an objection. The only one that didn't complain was Daniel.

"You know what." Richie said after almost twenty minutes. "The only one not complaining is Daniel so we're watching one of his movies." He decided, even though it was a little unfair as Daniel never made himself heard.
Ava rolled her eyes. "So we're watching Nemo?"
"What's wrong with Nemo?" He asked her.
Ava shrugged, not really minding the movie.

Richie started inputting the title into the search menu but as soon as he pressed N, another movies popped up on the screen, catching his attention.

"Or we watch Narnia, since he likes his new book."

Making the final decision on the movie, he started it under the pretense that it was for Daniel.

When the movie ended, he carefully got up with Daniel who was asleep in his arms now. He had made it about halfway through the movie until he had dozed off in his dad's arm. Richie happily held him for the rest of the movie but as it had ended now and everyone else was ready to wrap up the day, he took his son up to his bed.

Carefully he checked if he needed a clean diaper before bed after taking his jeans off slowly so he wouldn't wake up again. Gently, he laid him down in his crib, making sure his stuffed animals were set up next to him. On his way out of the room, he turned on the little light they had for him, leaving the door open just a little.

Downstairs, he said goodnight to Ava as she headed up to her room, as did Noah.

Before going back to the living room to join Sarah with their moms, he made a quick detour in the kitchen and made a few cups of tea before taking them over to the living room.

Happily he sat down on the couch next to Sarah, cups of tea in their hands.

"Ready for football high lights?" Sarah asked, looking up at him.
He was a little surprised but gladly took the opportunity. "Yeah."

Sarah changed the channel to the sport's channel her husband wanted to watch, then got comfortable against him again.

He only got to pay half attention to football as Sarah, Joan and Abbey started talking over it. Discussing their day as well as catching up on everything that had happened since the last time they were all together. Sarah proudly told them both about Caleb up in Vancouver, away at university and what a great job he was doing there all on his own. She was very proud of his achievements and didn't mind a little bragging about it, knowing Abbey and Joan would be proud as well. The conversational topic made Richie interject with how he visited Caleb at work and got to hang out with him while he was up there.

Before heading up to bed, Richie walked into the kitchen, heading straight for the fridge. He pulled it open and looked for what would satisfy him at the moment. There were a lot of left overs but he was also heading to bed so perhaps he shouldn't be eating all that much. He peeled back the plastic wrap that was covering the turkey and pried a piece off before popping it into his mouth.

After a few bites, he closed the fridge again and headed up the stairs, surely Sarah would be ready for bed by now.

Sarah looked up at him from the bed where she had gotten comfortable. "Starting on the left overs?" She asked suspiciously.
"I don't know what you're talking about." He closed the door behind him before heading into the room.
"What else would take you so long downstairs?"
"Cleaning up."
Sarah chuckled. "Yeah, cleaning up the left overs."
"Don't make such good turkey then." He headed for the bathroom so he could join her in the bed in a few minutes.

Sarah made sure the baby monitor was turned on before she laid down and got comfortable with the pillows and comforter. It had been a long day and she was ready to snuggle against her personal heater and get a well deserved sleep with him.

Sarah complained when Richie lifted the sheets, letting in the cold air as he got into bed with her. To make up for it quickly, he moved close and held her.

"Thank you." Sarah said once she was comfortable in his arms.
"No problem, I love holding you."
Sarah smiled at that. "I meant for today."
"I didn't do anything." He was confused at what she meant, other than keeping Daniel occupied, he hadn't done anything to help out.
"You did a lot and you got Noah to dress up and look nice." She had been very impressed by that, she knew how much Noah didn't care for his appearance.
He shrugged a little, he just wanted to be a good dad. "Just trying to help him, plus, it gets him talking."
"Does it?" Sarah asked intrigued by that information.
Richie nodded. "Few days ago when we were at the bookstore and went for dinner." He explained quickly. "We've been bonding. He's even talking when I pick him up from school."
"What do you talk about?"

He thought for a moment, wanting to give a specific answer but couldn't remember all the details Noah had talked about during their drives home. Most were about classes and what he was learning but Richie couldn't remember what that was, it was much too academic to him.

"He's so fucking smart, I don't even understand most of what he tells me he learns in school."
Sarah smiled at that again, she knew that but it was always nice to hear how smart her son was. "He really is." She felt proud of him.
"I learned some other things too though."
Sarah looked up at him, wondering why his tone of voice had turned more seriously. "Like what?"
"I don't think he has any friends. He also doesn't like half the people in his classes."
Sarah waved it off quickly. "I'm sure he has a couple people he likes. He's just not as social as Ava and Caleb are."
"Yeah, I guess." Unsure of that, he agreed anyway.
"But thanks for getting him to dress up and fix his hair. He looked so handsome."
He smiled, happy that he had been right that it would make Sarah happy. "He only did it because I said you'd like it."

Holding her close in his arms, he wished her a good night before closing his eyes. Very ready for some sleep. The energy his earlier nap had given him had worn out. Now was the time to catch up on sleep, in a few days he would be hitting the road again. This time he would be alone and with a big time difference between them, he knew he wasn't going to get a lot of sleep while he was gone. He had to make time to talk to Sarah and more time to video chat with Daniel, he was sure that in two weeks his boy would grow a lot and he didn't want to miss it.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Chapter 106

Thursday morning he was woken up by Sarah's alarm clock beeping at the both of them. He sighed once Sarah stopped the noise.

"What time is it? Why are we getting up?" He asked, there was no school today, he didn't have to make early breakfast, why was he awake?
"It's 7, we've got to start on dinner."
He frowned at how little sense that made to him. "Dinner? Sweetheart, it's 7am, I like food but let's do breakfast first."
Sarah chuckled next to him. "You can have breakfast whenever you like. The turkey will need to be in the oven for a long time." She explained.
"It's too early." He complained again, moving closer to Sarah so he could hold her close against him. "Bed is much better."
"You want turkey." Sarah reminded him.
He sure did but turkey could wait. "I want something else." He said, pressing himself against her, making it obvious of what he wanted.

Sarah turned around to kiss him deeply, knowing just what he wanted right now. She could push back dinner for an hour if this was the reason. Her hand trailed from his chest, over his belly and stopped at the elastic waistband of his boxer briefs. She pulled back slightly from her kiss to look up at him.

Richie felt her finger hook over the elastic as she pulled it down, moving her hand inside to wrap around him. In return his own hand reached under the tshirt, pushing the fabric up to expose the breasts he wanted to feel as he kissed her again.

She stroked him slowly, cherishing the moment of their closeness as she returned his kisses. Enjoying each touch of his lips against hers. On her skin she could feel his hand move to her his, finding her panties and easily pushing them down as Sarah raised her hips for him.

Once off, he tossed the panties in the general direction of the closet. They wouldn't be needing those again. He moved from his position, making Sarah pull her hand back. He pushed his boxers down and settled between her legs, reaching over her to kiss her again. Never would he get enough of those soft lips. He trailed down to her neck, her shoulder, her breast before capturing a nipple and sucking gently as he rolled the other with his fingers.

"Richie." She moaned slightly.
He let go and leaned over her again. "I love you baby." He said as he reached in for another kiss.

Balancing on one hand, he used his free one to guide himself inside her. Noticing her breathing getting heavier underneath him as he did. He loved the feeling of being inside her. Slowly he started moving in and out of her with long and slow thrusts. His kisses were just as slow and gentle as he savoured every small friction between them.

Before long Sarah couldn't help but moan at his long strokes. The drawn out pleasure was making her reach her climax slowly. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into a deeper kiss as an orgasm overcame her.

He returned her kiss, slowing his movement for just a moment as he waited for her before picking up his pace.

Sarah held on to him as his change in pace made her reach her second climax.

Knowing what he did to her, he continued on. As he felt the tell tale signs once again, he pushed up on his arms to look down at her, raising one to feel her breast again as he watched her reach her climax. Watching her do so ignited his own as he felt it rush through him. His thrusts became faster until he released inside her, sparking another orgasm for Sarah.

Looking down at her blissful face made him feel pleased. He lowered his arms so he capture a nipple between his lips again, making Sarah twitch at the sensation when he sucked gently. Releasing it, he moved to her side and held her close against him.

Sarah could hear his heart pounding underneath her as she laid on his chest. Thoroughly pleased, she listened to his breathing slowing down to it's regular rhythm as he relaxed again.

He watched her, knowing he loved her immensely, he pulled her a little closer so he could place a kiss on her head. Catching a whiff of her shampoo as he did so.

"I love you." He sighed, feeling so content in the moment.
Sarah could hear his contentment, it made her smile. "I love you too." She cuddled closer into him, wanting to forget she had a busy day ahead of her.

But that failed. "My mom will be here soon." Sarah said, sitting up in the bed, looking down at her husband next to her who still looked pretty pleased with himself. "Are you going back to sleep?"
He shook his head slowly. "No, I'll get up and shower." He made no actual effort to do so just yet.

Knowing how much she had to do before dinner time, Sarah did the opposite and got up, heading to the closet to get dressed. There was plenty of time to get everything ready and if not, she wouldn't mind having dinner a little later either. Leaving the closet in jeans and a tshirt, she saw he husband still in bed. On her way out of the bedroom, she stopped at the bed, leaning in to kiss him. She was sure he was going back to sleep.

Sarah was lifting the turkey into the oven when Richie walked into the kitchen in comfy pj pants and last night's shirt. She hadn't expected him and looked up surprised. "Thought you were sleeping."
"I said I was going to shower."
She pushed the over tray all the way in and closed the oven door. "It didn't look like you actually were."
"I did baby." He stated the obvious. "Do I need to dress fancy today?"
"You'll need to dress better than that." She walked over to her husband to wrap her arms around him.
He returned the hug and held her. "No pj's for turkey day?" He teased. "I didn't want to get dressed and then have to change."
"You don't have to dress fancy til this afternoon." Sarah smiled before reaching up to kiss him.

Richie liked that idea and let Sarah continue the preparations for dinner. With three women in the kitchen, it was safer to stay out of it all. Upstairs, he got Daniel out of bed and started to dress him, using the same logic Sarah mentioned earlier. The chance of Daniel needing a new shirt before dinner was very high after all.

With Sarah busy in the kitchen, the least he could do was keep Daniel occupied for most of the day. That way Sarah could use her all of her time for dinner.

He carried Daniel in his arms as he went down the stairs and headed to the kitchen. Glad to see his mom and Abbey had joined Sarah by now, knowing he didn't want to be in the way for them.

"We are just grabbing breakfast." He said as he walked to the fridge, three sets of eyes watching him do so. With everyone watching him, he started to feel self-conscious. "Guess eggs aren't an option." The counters were much too cluttered by the looks of it. "Can we have the milk?" He asked carefully, hoping they didn't need it.
His anxious behavior made Sarah chuckle. "You can have the milk."
"Can I have Cheerios?"
"Sure." Sarah said, passing him the box.
"No, wait, I want the waffle one." He said quickly changing his mind.
Sarah gave him another box. "Have them both." She turned around to grab bowls and spoons for him.

In the living room, he turned the TV on and looked for the Macy's parade to watch with Daniel, hoping it would somewhat entertain him as well. If not, they'd watch Nick Jr. instead. Daniel watched him expectantly, waiting for his breakfast as his dad was looking for a TV channel. He grumbled to catch his attention.

"Sorry buddy." Richie said, picking his channel and picking up the box of cereal to pour into a bowl for him with only a little milk. He didn't want to create a mess either, today was not the day for that. Next to him, he made sure Daniel had his bowl in his lap and spoon in hand. He was smart enough to know that the spoon would be forgotten in about five minutes but still wanted to teach him how to eat properly. Once he had Daniel settled, he started his own bowl, ready to watch the parade.

Their empty bowls stood on the coffee table as he pointed out characters on the TV to Daniel, enjoying the parade himself while trying to get Daniel to feel the same way. The parade had always excited him. He loved watching it when he was little, then he loved watching it with Ava when she was little and now he'd make sure Daniel would enjoy it as well.

A little after 10, they received Ava's company as they sat on the floor building with blocks. They could hear everything going on in the kitchen but Richie was determined to let them all be and take full duty of watching his little boy, which meant building blocks on the floor with him. He was happy for Ava to join him for some conversation as his attempts of making Daniel talk while he tried to watch some football were once again futile. He wasn't going to give up that easily, eventually the boy had to talk, and there was no way around that.

Around lunchtime, he carefully went into the kitchen, immediately all eyes were on him. "What time is dinner?" He asked quickly, stopping in his path.
"Probably around 4." Sarah said.
Richie nodded, accepting that. "I was just going to make Daniel some lunch and then take him for a nap." He joined Sarah on the other side of the island, their mothers busy at the kitchen table. "Everything going well sweetheart?" He asked her as he watched her grab a loaf of bread.
Sarah nodded. "Yeah, we're just talking and making food. Spending time together."
"Sounds fun." He grabbed peanut butter from the cabinet and helped Sarah with making a couple sandwiches for them. "I could help if you guys need me."
"I know." Sarah smiled at his offer, appreciating it. "We've got it covered and keeping Daniel busy is a lot of help already."

She watched Richie head back to the living room with a stack of peanut butter sandwiches to share. She smiled to herself, happy he had offered to help but happy he had some time with Daniel and Ava. He deserved some time with his kids before he had to get on the road again. It was the end of the road and it wouldn't be very long but she still wanted him to have that time.

Upstairs, he changed Daniel's diaper before carrying him over to his own bedroom. He pulled the sheets back on the big bed and hoisted Daniel into bed with him. It was still a few hours until dinner was ready, he was missing out on watching football right now but 7am had been much too early and a nap with Daniel sounded like exactly what he needed. He held Daniel close to him as they both went to sleep.

In the kitchen, Sarah was busy with preparing everything for dinner. Most of the morning was spent talking as it was too early to start on the side dishes. After Richie had taken Daniel upstairs, Sarah had started on peeling potatoes, appreciating her mother's help in doing so, in the mean time Joan busied herself with the sweet potatoes. They made sure there would be enough for leftovers the next day, maybe longer.

He felt his cheek being poked as he woke up. "Daniel." He groaned before opening his eyes. He heard a little chuckle followed by another poke. "Daniel." He repeated. "Stop it." Grabbing his son, he held him in a hug. "One day, you're going to love sleep just as much, just so you know." Richie said knowingly. "But I guess we better get ready for Thanksgiving dinner." Sitting up with Daniel in his arms was a little harder to do but he finally managed. He got up from the bed, ignoring the sheets behind him and headed to the closet, looking for what Sarah would want him to wear.

It didn't take long to get dressed but with Daniel in the closet, he ended up having to put all the laundry back in the basket, twice. Instead of leaving him on the floor, he finally picked Daniel up and carried him to his own bedroom to get dressed for dinner.

"How do we look?" He asked as he carried Daniel into the kitchen, making all three women look up at the two of them. He felt proud and accomplished when they all had the same reaction to his appearance with Daniel. Dressing up for Sarah was a success.
Sarah moved her pot off of the burner, putting down her utensils and started to walk over to them at the doorway. "Looks good." She said before reaching in to kiss him before looking at her little boy. "He looks so cute." She appreciated Richie had already taken the effort to get Daniel ready as well, making sure they both looked smart in button down shirts.
"Thanks." He smiled down at her. "Thought it would be cute if we matched."
Sarah's little frown didn't go unnoticed.
"Damn it."
She looked at him sympathetically. "Want me to come upstairs and make you match?"
"Please." He sighed frustrated.
Sarah followed him back up the stairs. "Who's matching who?" She asked as she watched him go up the steps in front of her, quietly enjoying the view she got.
"I was trying to go for that dark red, burgundy color you like." Richie explained, knowing she liked him in that color and since Daniel had the same features as he did, he thought Sarah would like it just as much on their little boy.
"It does looks very nice on you." Sarah assured him as they walked into Daniel's room. She went straight for his closet and looked around to see if Daniel had the same color shirt.
Richie busied himself with taking the shirt off of Daniel again as Sarah looked for a new one. "Sorry buddy." He apologized when the boy looked at him confused as to why he was just in his black jeans now.
"I think this will be close enough." Sarah said, passing him the new shirt when she walked back into the bedroom.
"Thanks." Richie said, only slightly frustrated with himself.
"You're cute." Sarah smiled as she watched him as he started to button Daniel's shirt for him. The frustration still clear to her.
Richie gave her a confused look. "Cute?"
She nodded again. "Yeah."
"I'm cute 'cause I mess up my colors?"
She couldn't hide the laugh that escaped her. "No, because you tried to match, that's cute."
"Oh." He realized. He buttoned Daniel's last button and looked him over. "Was it black?" He asked, not seeing much difference in Daniel's new shirt.
"Bright red is a lot easier, you know." He pointed out.
Sarah shrugged. "You look great in that as well."
"Too late now." He said adamantly. He wasn't going to change again after all this effort.

Sarah joined their mothers in the kitchen again to finalize the last few dishes for dinner. The table was set and all that was left to do was the turkey.

Richie knocked on Ava's bedroom door before pushing it open. He noticed her in front of the mirror, all dolled up already.
"You look beautiful princess." He said as he watched her.
"Thanks daddy." She smiled back at him.
"When does he get here?" He meant the boyfriend.
Ava rolled eyes at him. "Dad."
"Alright." He said, backing off.

With Daniel still in his arms, he crossed the hallway to Noah's room. After knocking on the door, he opened it and looked in.

"Are you getting ready?" His question had an obvious answer as Noah wasn't anywhere near ready.
"Only takes a minute." Noah said.
"Could you maybe do that now?" Richie wondered. "Daniel and I are matching." He pointed out. "You should join the burgundy party."
Noah shrugged. "Blond doesn't go as well with burgundy, looks better with darker hair. Brings out the eyes."
Richie frowned at his well thought out excuse. "But your mom likes the color and we'd look nice in a photo."
"Fine." Noah got up and headed to his closet.

Richie shifted Daniel to his other side. The boy was starting to get heavy as he needed to be carried everywhere. They would definitely have to practise walking a lot more.

"I don't have the same color." Noah walked out of his closet wearing black jeans with a red button down shirt instead.
"Looks good to me." Richie shrugged.
Noah frowned at him. "Yeah, right."
"Shut up." He glared slightly but also knew Noah didn't know about his earlier mix up. "Maybe do something about the hair?" Richie gestured at Noah's perfect resemblance of bed head.
Noah frowned, not understanding what was wrong with it. "How does my hair matter?"
"It'll matter to your mom." Richie knew it would, she was trying hard to have everything look perfect. He wanted to make sure she got that.

He got Noah to follow him to his own bathroom, his plan forming in his mind. Once in the bathroom, he let Daniel on the floor, letting him crawl off as he made Noah sit down and passed him a comb. Noah rolled his eyes as Richie leaned against the counter, watching him.

"If you want long hair, you need to do something with it or it'll just look messy all the time."
"But I want it to look messy." Noah pointed out smartly.
That had become obvious to everyone. "But you have to get it messy in the right way." Richie told him as he grabbed a pot of hair clay.
"Okay. Now what?" Noah asked as he put the comb down when he was done, looking up expectantly at Richie for the next step.
"Now you add product to finish it off." He passed the pot to Noah.
Noah looked at the jar's instructions before opening it. "How come you're giving me hair styling advice?" He used the product like the jar instructed.
"'Cause I've seen too many make up artists to not pick up on stuff."
"And I'll look like all the douches in school." Noah mumbled.

Daniel making a loud noise by the bath tub made Richie look over. He stood up and went to clean up the bath toys he had found before picking him up, ready to head downstairs for dinner.

"Get your Clue game and lets go."

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Chapter 105

Their weekend was spent mostly together. Ava was excited to have her grandma over and talked almost non stop about everything that had happened since they had last visited. Sometimes he wondered how she was able to continue talking, how she kept finding more and more topics to discuss or how she remembered another story she needed to tell. He was just happy she was so happy.

Joan happily took care of Daniel during the week while Richie and Sarah spent some time together without him. It wasn't much either, mostly preparations for Thanksgiving in a few days. Sarah was excited to prepare a big Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, he knew that. Abbey would come over to help out during the day as well but he was sure there would be a lot more help from just about everybody else too.

At home, he carried all the groceries into the house for Sarah, placing all the bags on the kitchen island.

"That's a lot of food sweetheart." He said, looking at the amount of bags piled on the island now.
"You're going to love it." Sarah said as she grabbed the first one to start putting items away.
Richie frowned at that, knowing she didn't mean anything with it. "Are you calling me fat?"
She turned around from the cabinet she was trying to reach. "What? No." She said quickly.
"Are you sure?"
Worried, she frowned at him. "Yes. I wasn't think that at all." She said, starting to feel bad that he had thought so.
He chuckled, letting go of his joke. "I was just bugging you. Sorry." He apologized quickly, now feeling bad that it had made her feel bad.
Sarah shook her head and continued with the groceries. "That's mean, you should be helping me."
"I'm helping." He grabbed a bag and started putting everything into the fridge. She was right, he knew that, he was definitely going to love all this food.

Sarah had taken him up on his offer of watching Daniel so she could go out with a friend. Today, she was going to meet Taylor for coffee, it had been much too long since they had some time together and Sarah felt more than ready to catch up with a friend and have some time to herself.

After saying goodbye to Sarah, Richie joined his mom in the living room where she had taken occupancy of his recliner chair. He didn't mind and sat down on the couch instead. Daniel was standing next to the chair as he played with his toys, glad to have someone else to play with.

"You know," Richie started, "he talked last week. He tried to say guitar." He said excitedly disregarding that Daniel hadn't made any effort to repeat it since then.
Joan smiled at him. "I wonder where he learned that from."
"He loves guitars. I can't wait to teach him in a few years."
"No accordion?" She asked curiously.
Richie shrugged, maybe. "They've got these tiny little guitars for kids. 1/4 guitars they call them and they're only about 30 inches so when he's around 4, it'd be the perfect size for him. I'm sure Norm could find him the perfect one." He explained excitedly, waiting for Joan to respond but she continued watching him, knowing there was more to come. "And I want one too."
She smiled. "That's what I thought."
"They're tiny, so easy to carry around." He added on quickly. "I'll probably still teach him accordion when he's a little bigger though, just 'cause dad would have liked that as well. He's still so little now."
That made Joan feel happy.

After the weekend, the house turned quiet during the day. No continuous talking from Ava for most of the day. Daniel was happy to get his grandmother's undivided attention during the day. Richie was enjoying some more family time, still making an effort to make breakfast for everyone and picking Noah up when Ava had extra curricular activities after school and wasn't able to drive him home when school was out

Each time he went to pick Noah up, he tried to struck a conversation with him but Noah's one worded answers kept their conversations on the way home short. It was starting to frustrate him to watch Noah seem so mopey but not being able to get any answers as to why he felt like that. He wanted a happy kid.

Today he was determined to change that.

He unlocked the doors before Noah got to the car this time but still looked up when he sat down in the seat next to him. Today, he was prepared, he had a plan.

"How was school?" Richie asked like he always did, expecting the same answer as he always got.
Richie nodded, not pressing it. "Got any plans?" He asked, not moving just yet.
Noah frowned confused at him. "No?"
"Perfect." Richie said as he shifted the Ferrari from neutral to first gear.
Noah continued looking at him. "Why? Are we going somewhere?" He asked confused. "I'm still in my uniform."
"So take your tie off, unbutton a button, you'll be fine."

The drive wasn't very far or long, 10 minutes, if that. He pulled into the parking lot right next to the freeway, then drove slowly til he found a spot to park in. There were a couple stores and restaurants in the lot leaving it pretty busy but he still managed to find himself a parking spot close to the store.

"Where are we going?" Noah asked once Richie parked the car and turned it off.
Richie looked at him confused, it was pretty obvious. "Barnes & Noble?" He asked. "Where did you think we were going here?" This was the same book store they always went to and there weren't many other interesting stores in this lot.
Noah shrugged.
"Come on," Richie urged, "unless you'd rather go home." Knowing he wouldn't
"No." Noah answered quickly.
Richie gestured at the tie and jacket Noah was still wearing. "Take those off though." He suggested, watching Noah do so. "You've got to unbutton the first two buttons at least."
"Why?" Noah asked first.
"Trust me, a done up shirt without a tie doesn't look good and you're not in school." Richie shrugged, "Besides, you never know when a girl sees you."
"Okay." Noah listened to the fashion advise he was given.

As they walked to the bookstore, Richie told him they were doing this the right way, which meant stopping at the cafe first. Noah reminded him he didn't like coffee all that much but Richie waved it off. He knew Starbucks was Ava's thing but he wasn't going to only get something for himself, that just wasn't right.

He handed Noah an extra caramel and extra whipped cream frappe. "Trust me." He told him again before taking his own cup of coffee. Now they had everything they needed to browse books. It'd be impossible to go through an entire bookstore without a drink in hand. Instead of going to the magazine section like he usually would, he followed Noah around as he browsed books. He pointed out covers he liked or titles he liked, trying to get Noah's opinion on the books which worked fairly well to get a conversation going.

He sipped his coffee as he followed Noah to the Young Adult section, glad to see Noah at ease between the books. He looked at covers, spotting one. "Hey, I've read this one." He pointed it out, making Noah look up from the frappe he was drinking.
"You've read a book?" Noah asked.
Richie rolled his eyes at his joking comment. "Yes, one or two."
Noah walked over and looked at the book. "I would have hoped you've read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I don't think you can say you've had a childhood if you hadn't read it."
Richie frowned at that. "What? So it's a must read?"
"Yes, absolutely. It's an absolute must, especially if you like Tolkien's books and knowing him and Lewis were friends and had many arguments about their books, you have to read both to understand that relationship."
"Okay," Richie agreed, "but the Lord of the Rings is like half a billion pages."
Noah chuckled at that and shook his head. "So it takes two or three weeks finish."
"You mean months."
He shook his head again.

They browsed more books, which sparked conversational topics where Richie was finally able to get some actual answers from Noah about school and life but it was almost an hour later, their drink cups had been tossed into a garbage can and so far Noah wasn't carrying any books. Richie was expecting to walk out of the store with at least a few books.

"Aren't you going to pick any books out?" He asked Noah who was still browsing.
Noah looked up, a little distracted. "Oh, I don't know. I have a lot on my e-reader I still need to read."
Richie shook his head. "I definitely haven't read as many books as you have but I do know that one can never have too many books and it's impossible to leave a bookstore without buying a book. That's like if I went to one of those guitar stores and didn't come back with something."
"That is true." Noah agreeing, he did have a good point.
"Alright. So what are we getting?"
Noah shrugged but continued looking at books. "We can get a picture book of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, that way you can reread it with Daniel, refresh your memory, maybe you'll read the rest of the series."
"It's a series?" Richie asked surprised. "That's actually a good idea."
"Yes it's a series. Sometimes I wonder how you've survived so long without book knowledge."
Richie shrugged at that, following Noah to the children's section. "I mostly stick to conversations about guitars instead."

Noah lead the way, being familiar with this store, and easily found the picture book for Daniel. He picked it off of the shelf and passed it on to Richie then continued looking at picture books, finding several fun ones and passing those on to Richie as well.

Not much later he was carrying a small stack of picture books that were essential according to Noah. Even though he had wanted to get Noah something, he thought it was sweet he instead picked books out for his little brother. Richie carried the small stack of books to the register but stopped when he noticed Noah had lingered around the table full of board games, he head back to find out what had caught his eye. Perhaps he could get him a game instead of a book.

"Don't you have that?" Richie asked.
Noah shook his head. "No."
"How do you not have Harry Potter Clue? Get it, it'll be fun to play tomorrow after Thanksgiving dinner." Richie said, actually thinking it would be fun to play a board game with the family.

At the register, Noah pulled out his rewards card before Richie paid and the cashier put everything in a bag for them to carry. They were both quite happy with some books for Daniel, knowing the little boy loved listening to stories.

Outside the store, they made a quick stop next door at See's candy store and Richie picked out some chocolates, never forgetting how he could make Sarah happy. He picked out Sarah's favorites and as well as a box for his mother. He was a good son. Not forgetting everyone else, he got some for them all to share.

"Do you want to go home?" He asked Noah once they were outside again, still holding on to their bags. "Or we can go for dinner." He suggested. They'd spent a long time in the book store which was exactly what he had planned.
"I do have homework." Noah said but wasn't all that interested in having to work on that.
"You'll have plenty of time after. I know you usually finish that in less time than Ava." Richie headed back to the car to put the books and chocolates inside before looking over at Noah again. "There's sushi, seafood, Fresh Brothers or that Italian place over there." He pointed towards it.
"Let's just get pizza."

He easily agreed to that, locked the car and they headed to the small pizzeria. It was fairly small inside but they found a table and looked through the menu to decide what they were getting.

After they ordered their drinks and pizzas, Richie tried to coax Noah into a conversation again. This time trying to get more info about school. Noah didn't have much to say other that classes were fine and he didn't mind most of his teachers. When Richie asked if he minded the kids in his class, as a joke, Noah shrugged.

"What?" Richie tried.
Noah shrugged again. "Most of them are spoiled brats."
"Assholes." Richie agreed, not actually knowing. "What about in your honors classes though? Are there genius jocks too?"
"No, but those classes are mostly girls anyway." Noah explained.

Richie waggled his eyebrows suggestively at that. In return, Noah just shook his head, trying not to be embarrassed in public. If he had his pizza, he could avoid conversation.

"What about those guys you and Caleb used to hang out with?" Richie asked when their pizzas arrived, he picked up a slice, happy with his choice.
Noah frowned slightly at the thought. "Those were Caleb's friends." Noah pointed out, remembering who he meant. "They all graduated last summer."
"Oh." He had not realized that. "But you see Ava in school, right?" At least he hoped so.
"Sometimes we share a lunch period and she insists on sitting with me with some of her friends." Noah said before taking another bite of his pizza.

Richie nodded, getting the idea. At least Ava was trying to be kind and he appreciated that. Ava had more friends than he could count and more were added all the time. The close ones stayed the same but she always met new people. He was glad that family mattered to her too. He steered the conversation away from friends, getting the hint that Noah didn't have any and didn't enjoy talking about that. He changed it to class subjects which Noah gladly talked about until Richie brought up college. It wasn't that far away in time and applications were due soon enough but it halted the conversation nonetheless.

It was almost 7pm when Richie parked his car in the garage, he hadn't meant for them to be gone for almost four hours but he definitely didn't mind it either. He was glad he had had some time with Noah and was excited to tell Sarah about everything he had learned today. It was if today was the first conversation he had with Noah in the last few months. Before heading inside, he grabbed the boxes of chocolate as Noah took the bag of books along with his backpack and school blazer.

They found the rest of the family in the living room. First, he gave his mom the chocolates before sitting down next to his wife on the couch to give her hers as well. Making Sarah smile and reach in for a kiss as a thank you.

Richie surely wasn't the only one surprised to see Noah join Daniel in his play area. He watched as Noah pulled the books out of the bag and started showing them to Daniel, pointing out pictures as he talked about the books.

It made him smile.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Chapter 104

On Friday morning, Richie reached over to his nightstand to stop the incessant phone alarm from going off. Once silent again, he placed it back down before stretching and moving to sit up in bed. He looked down to see Sarah looking up at him. "Morning." He said.
Sarah gave him a smile. "Morning, how did you sleep? How are you feeling?"
She had added the last question the whole week. Her concern, made him smile. "I'm feeling good, ready for our week."

A little while later he was down in the kitchen, wearing the same pj pants but with a clean tshirt today, making waffles. An exception on a Friday morning. He was making up for not making breakfast all week.
The first waffle he finished, went to Daniel, happily tearing pieces off of it as he started eating.
It didn't take long for the teenagers to make their way down and join them for breakfast. Which meant Richie started brewing another cup of coffee, this one for Ava before he went to sit down at the table with his own mug.

"Are you coming to the airport with me?" He asked Sarah over Daniel between them.
She frowned, thinking before she answered. "It'll be close to Daniel's nap time."
"You're picking grandma up before we get home?" Ava asked surprised, looking over from the corner where she was waiting on her coffee to finish.
"Yeah, she wanted to be here before you got home from school." Richie explained even though he was sure he had mentioned the flight schedule before.
When her coffee finished, Ava sighed, "I just like picking her up with you," and walked over to the table to start her breakfast.
"I'm sorry." Richie said, understanding she was disappointed but there wasn't anything he could change now. Most likely, Joan was already at the airport. "She'll be just as happy to see you after school." He assured her before looking over at Sarah to continue their conversation.
Sarah thought about his earlier question. "It'll depend on when Daniel wants to nap." She said.
Richie nodded, accepting that answer.

After breakfast they said goodbye to Ava and Noah who were off to school. Sarah insisted on cleaning up the kitchen and getting some cleaning done before Joan would arrive. Richie made his best efforts to offer to help her to do so but Sarah insisted he should still take it easy and sent him off to the living room with Daniel. He picked Daniel up out of his high chair and carried him to the living room, walking past the sitting area towards the corner where all Daniel's toys lived opposite of where Richie's toys were housed.

"What should we do?" He asked Daniel, wanting a reply from him but not expecting one.
He looked down in shock at his son in his arms. "What?" He asked, did he just hear that?
"Tar? What's tar?" He asked confused, wondering if he'd even heard his son right and what he meant to say to begin with.

He watched as Daniel squirmed in his arms, trying to get down. Obliging him, Richie let him down on the ground, this time he didn't pull up his legs and stood on his feet as his father let go of him. Richie was dumbfounded again as Daniel took a few steps closer to his guitar stands. He only kept a few in the living room for whenever he had the urge to play something and the boy had been taught not to go near them. Daniel stopped a couple feet away from the stands.

"Tar." He repeated, looking at the guitars.
Richie shook his head, sure he was seeing and hearing things. He went and picked up his son. "Guitar?" He asked him, still surprised at getting an answer to begin with, followed by steps. He picked up the acoustic guitar and held on to it as he carried Daniel to the kitchen to find Sarah. "Sarah?" He asked as he walked over.
"Yes?" She asked, looking up at her husband, a cleaning cloth in hand as she paused from wiping the counters.
"You won't believe this." He bent down to let Daniel stand again but this time Daniel refused to stand on his feet, pulling his feet up each time Richie tried. He sighed after a few tries. "Fine." He let Daniel sit down. "I asked him what we should do and he said 'tar' so I asked him what he meant and he wanted down so I put him down and he walked over to my guitars and said it again." He explained excitedly.
"Really?" Sarah asked, putting her cleaning supplies on the counter and walked over to her boy. "Can you say it again?" She squatted down in from of him as she asked Daniel, who looked up at her with his brown eyes.
"Daniel." Richie said, trying to get his attention. He held up his guitar. "What's this? Say guitar again." He tried to coax him into it.
Daniel looked up at them both, confused brown eyes watching them.
Richie sighed, followed by Sarah repeating it. "Guess not." He looked down at Sarah again. "I'm sorry babe."
She waved it off quickly as she stood up but he noticed it did matter to her. "It's alright, he'll be saying tons of words soon enough."
"Yeah," Richie agreed, "We'll go play some guitar, you're free to come join us." He reminded her as he picked Daniel up again but Sarah insisted on cleaning the kitchen before Joan's arrival.

Back in the living room, he let Daniel down on the couch and sat down next to him. Daniel looked up at him expectantly. "Tar?"
Richie sighed. "Couldn't say that when your mom was around?"
He moved the guitar onto his lap and checked if it was tuned before starting to play an easy tune that Daniel would like. Even if he knew Daniel would like anything he played.

The little boy sat next to him, watching and listening to the music. It always made Richie happy to watch his son enjoy something he was so passionate about. To be able to share that with him when there weren't many other ways to share with him. Especially while he was still so little. If Daniel stayed curious, it could be something they'd share for the rest if their lives.

Soon enough, his easy tunes meant for Daniel's enjoyment transitioned into songs he enjoyed playing. Bits and pieces thrown together with some lyrics that went with them.

He didn't notice when Sarah walked into the living room, something that didn't surprise her anymore these days. She walked over and sat down in the spot Daniel had vacated to go play while he listened to the music. Watching her husband get lost in what he was playing was something she admired. There wasn't anything she was so passionate about that she forgot everything around her. Carefully she reached out and touched his arm.

He felt the soft caress on his bicep and opened his eyes as he looked to his right. He smiled and stopped playing, making Daniel look up at the missing sound. "Hi." He said to his wife.
She couldn't help herself and reached in for a quick kiss before asking her question. "I just wanted to ask what time you had to leave. Was it 11 or 12?"
"11 sweets." He answered, looking for the time. His wrist didn't have a watch and he didn't know where his phone was at the moment.
"Oh, okay 'cause it's 11 now." Sarah said.
"Now?" He got up to put his guitar back in it's stand. "I have to go." He wasn't even dressed yet.
"I'm sorry." Sarah said quickly. "I didn't realize you were so focused." She also got up from the couch and picked Daniel up from his toys to follow her husband upstairs.

In the bedroom, he headed to the closet to grab a clean pair of jeans, deciding these pj pants had done their best work this week, he pulled them off and threw them into the laundry basket. His shirt was clean, he grabbed a new pair of boxer briefs and a pair of socks, carrying it all as he walked out.

Sarah looked up and gave him a raised eyebrow, not minding him in boxers and a tshirt at all.
"What?" He asked as he walked by on his way to the bathroom.
"Nothing." Sarah said quickly.
It made him frown.
"Just a nice view." She clarified.
Richie finally clued in, realizing he wasn't wearing much. "You just like looking at my ass."
Sarah shrugged. "It's nice."
"You need to get ready." She reminded him he was wasting time.
"You need to stop insulting my ass."
She was almost offended, she gasped. "I didn't insult it. I said it was nice."
"Underappreciating it is an insult." Richie clarified to her, waiting for her to make up for it, he gave her an impatient look.
"Okay, okay." She sighed. "You have a lovely tushy. Now go shower."
"Thank you." He said, accepting it. "I know you like the front better anyway." He added quickly as he started to continue his way to the bathroom.
"Go shower!"

Half an hour past 11 they were heading out the door. Opting for Sarah's SUV as Daniel's car seat and stroller were still in it and would plenty of space left for suitcases once they got to the airport.

"Are you sure he'll be okay?" Richie asked, knowing it was almost lunch time and nap time after that as well.
Sarah nodded. "I thought maybe we could go out for lunch and then by the time we get home it's definitely nap time."

He wasn't opposed to that, he liked spending his time with Sarah and Daniel even if it wasn't anything important. It was better than making the drive alone. This way, instead of blaring music, he'd get to talk to his wife.

At the airport they parked in arrivals and headed into the large building, using parking was the easiest way to skip out on paparazzi as they could just walk into the airport and skip the drop off zone where they hoarded the doors. He pushed Daniel in his stroller as Sarah walked beside him.

"Do you remember where we need to be?" She asked.
"I know where we're going." He confirmed as he lead the way through the airport. "I even checked if there were delays before we left."
"That's smart." Sarah agreed, following him.
He stopped near a Starbucks with seating area, the gate just across from it. "We can sit and wait if you want. Mom will probably be one of the last to get through." He explained, already looking for a table they could sit.
"Sure." Sarah agreed.

Richie found them a table and sat down, placing Daniel's stroller between the two chairs before he went and ordered some drinks for their wait. He returned a few minutes later and handed Sarah a slice of cake and a tea she liked before he sat down with her. The wait wouldn't be too long but he was right that his mother would stay on the plane until most people had left to not be rushed by others. It made sense to him and he didn't mind waiting for that. He sipped his coffee as he waited, people watching with Sarah.

At first a large crowd of people came from the gate, he looked up but stayed in his seat, watching the crowd thin out before standing up and walked closer to the gate. At least he was tall so he could look over some of the people crowding around the area, his mom being short made her easy to hide but he finally spotted her. He waved, trying to catch her attention as he walked over to her.

After a quick hug, he helped her back to their table at Starbucks and offered the drink he had ordered earlier for her.

"Sarah suggested we go for lunch before we head home, if you want to." Richie suggested, now ready to head back.
"That would be nice." Joan agreed.

They had a simple lunch in the city, not bothering with anything too fancy. Daniel kept up his good behavior until they were back in the car and ready for the hour drive home. Knowing he was just tired, Richie tried to ignore the crying as they drove and Joan and Sarah tried their best to calm him down but Daniel was relentless. Generally whenever he drove alone, he had music playing loudly, Daniel's crying was probably just as loud but it wasn't near the same of having loud music. He knew his son was upset.

Not until they were home and Daniel was being rocked in his rocking chair in his bedroom did he stop crying. Relieved, Sarah carefully got up with him and put him down in his bed. Glad he was finally asleep and hopefully would have a long nap.

Joan had decided on the same while Richie carried her bags to her bedroom, a quick lay down before Ava and Noah would get home from school.