Note: Before continuing the story, I wanted to let everyone know that one of my amazing friends, ra3rei, did something really wonderful and wrote a short story about Diego to give him further closure after his conversation with Mari 🙂 It is amazing, and is 100% “canon” in the A2A universe ^_^
There is actually quite a time jump between our last chapter and this one (surprise! :P) and her story takes place in-between, so now would be a perfect time to pause and read it if you can! ^_^
Thanks guys! On with the story!
“Come on! Onkel Stefan will NEVER find us in here.” Lucas beckoned his sister and Clara closer to the bedroom door.
Mari and Jonas were both working that day, so Stefan had agreed to watch the children while Tobi brought Colette for her latest ultrasound. It had not taken long for the three of them to rope Stefan into a game of hide and seek.
Jocelyne could distantly hear her uncle’s voice at the bottom of the stairs as he continued counting. He’d promised he’d give them extra time to hide this round… But Jocelyne wasn’t sure how much extra. And he was already past 30…
She raced forward eagerly to join her brother, then hesitated, biting her lip uncertainly. “Luc… That’s maman and Papa’s room… We aren’t allowed if they aren’t here.” Jocelyne shook her head slowly as she spoke.
The little boy nodded. “Exactly. Onkel Stefan knows we aren’t ‘posed to… So he won’t ever think of lookin’ in here.” Lucas replied happily.
Jocelyne said nothing for a moment. “I just really don’t wanna get in trouble…”
Clara rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Stop being such a baby, Jocelyne.”
Beside her, Lucas snickered.
Jocelyne narrowed her eyes in anger at her brother and aunt. They always loved to pick on her, and call her a goody-two-shoes, or a baby. But she was the oldest! Maybe only by three minutes with her brother… But it still counted, didn’t it? I’m not a baby! She thought angrily.
She said nothing, and instead barged forward past the two other children and into her parents’ bedroom. Lucas and Clara followed close behind, flicking on the light switch and closing the door behind them as they entered.
Jocelyne’s eyes widened in amazement as she stared up at the large display of various football trophies and awards her Papa had won. Woah… She thought, admiring the sparkling metal statues and bright, shiny ribbons. Jocelyne wanted nothing more than to open the glass case and touch them… But something told her that her Papa would not be very happy if she did.
“Hey look! Cool!” Lucas’ voice reached his sister’s ears. Jocelyne turned, and watched as he slid a large, cardboard box from beneath their parents’ bed and began digging eagerly through its contents.
“Aren’t we supposed to be hiding? I betcha Stefan’s looking already!” Clara sighed in annoyance as she joined Lucas near the mysterious box.
“I was gonna hide under the bed.” Lucas shrugged. “Then I found this.” He reached inside the box, and pulled out a small rectangular piece of cardstock. “Cool, a baseball card!”
Unable to contain her curiosity, Jocelyne drew closer, and peeked over his shoulder curiously. “Baseball?”
“One of those funny American sports.” He explained, studying the card closely for a moment. “Hey, it kinda looks like Onkel Stefan, doesn’t it? They’ve got the same smile…”
Clara snatched the card forcefully from his hand. “No way, it looks like Tobi.” She explained impatiently.
“You’re crazy. That doesn’t look like my Papa!”
“Yes it does! Their hair’s the same.”
While Lucas and Clara bickered, Jocelyne peered over their shoulders at the picture of the man on the card. His golden hair and handsome face reminded her of a character from a fairytale… Prince Charming. She thought with a smile. But she didn’t want the others to laugh at her, so instead she said “I dunno. He kinda looks like both of ‘em.”
The heavy booming of footsteps from the hall made all three children jump.
With a soft creak, the door swung open and Stefan crossed over the threshold, shaking his head in disappointment. “What are you doing in here?!” He demanded.
“Nothing!” A trio of frightened voices replied in unison.
Lucas tried to kick the box back beneath the bed as Clara did her best to conceal the baseball card behind her back. Jocelyne simply shuffled her feet awkwardly, and tried to look as innocent as she could.
Stefan shook his head slowly. “You guys know you aren’t supposed to be in here without permission.”
“Well… Maman goes into MY room all the time without askin’ me!” Lucas countered.
Stefan’s expression softened slightly and a small laugh escaped his lips. “Yeah, to clean up the giant mess you make, not to snoop around in your stuff…” He furrowed his brow slightly as his gaze fell on his little sister. “What are you holding, Clara?”
The little girl hesitated for a moment, then held out the card quite reluctantly. He took it from her, raising an eyebrow curiously.
Stefan gazed down at it for several long moments. At first, he almost appeared confused. But the longer he looked at it, the paler his face seemed to become.
“Hello?” A sweet voice called from down the stairs. “Anyone home?”
Oh no… Maman and Papa!
“What’s going on in here?!”
The three children simply stared helplessly at one another. Stefan continued staring at the card.
Tobias’ eyes fell on the cardboard box beside the bed. “How many times have we talked about privacy in this house?” He asked sharply.
Jocelyne stared down at the floor, ashamed.
“You know better than to do something like this.” Colette chimed in seriously. “You all do.”
“Sorry, Maman.” Lucas was the first to break the silence. “We promise we’ll never do it again.”
“That’s right. You won’t.” Tobias nodded firmly. “Now go.” He gestured toward the door.
Jocelyne and Lucas didn’t need telling twice. The twins scurried out into the hallway, but lingered in the doorway for a few moments, waiting for their third partner-in-crime to join them.
Clara put her hands on her hips. “You might be their Papa… But you’re just my Bruder. You can’t tell me what to do!”
Tobias smirked and gave a small shrug. “Maybe not. But I can tell Mama and Papa what you were up to…”
The little girl left the room without another word.
While the other two children headed down the hallway toward the playroom, Jocelyne hesitated, and instead leaned in close to the bedroom door, trying to listen to the conversation on the other side. She could only make out bits and pieces of what was being said.
It was her mother who spoke first. “– you doing with that old thing?” She asked.
“How long have you –” Her uncle’s fragmented reply was stern and serious. “—never shown me before?”
Then finally she heard her father’s voice, strong and clear. “Stefan, it’s just an old –” Jocelyne struggled to make out the rest of the sentence. “—matter so much anyway?”
“Come on, Joce.” Lucas called to his sister, breaking her concentration. “We don’t wanna get in even more trouble.”
Jocelyne knew he was right. The little girl let out a soft sigh and abandoned her eavesdropping.
But try as she might, she just couldn’t stop thinking about the peculiar look on her uncle’s face when he saw that card, and the strange bits of conversation she’d heard through the door.
There’s something really funny going on. Jocelyne realized.
She just wished she knew what it was.