I Almost Get a New Uncle, Part 2 is the thirty-eighth chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on January 27, 2017.
Mommy, Johnathan, Toothless, Annabeth, and I headed to my grandparents house to go meet my possible new uncle. Komodo came too.
When we got there, we found Luke and Emily playing with a boy a little younger than me in the backyard. Grandma, Nick, Uncle Zack, Aunt Selena, Peter, Elizabeth, and the animals were with them. When Grandma saw us coming, she turned to the little boy.
“Leo, the rest of us need to talk right now,” she told him. “How about you go play on the jungle gym? We’ll be over there if you need us, ok?”
He nodded and went to the jungle gym.
Everyone else sat around the table on the deck.
“So that’s Leo, everybody,” Grandma said. “He’s a little shy, so you guys will have to meet him individually.”
“What’s his story?” Uncle Zack asked.
“Good. We’re getting to the point quickly. So a couple nights ago, a warehouse caught fire in Houston. Leo and his mother were in it. Leo got out unharmed, but, unfortunately, his mother did not. She died in the fire.”
I became sad and I hated hearing about people dying.
“What caused the fire?” Mommy asked.
“That’s part of the problem,” Grandma replied. “We don’t know, exactly. But we do know that it started right where I found Leo, passed out.”
“And he was completely unharmed?” Emily asked.
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, I asked him what had happened leading up to the fire, but he didn’t tell me much. He and Luke have been together all day, and Leo told Luke more about it.”
“What did he say?” Aunt Selena asked.
Luke took a deep breath. “A lot. He said that some woman was in there with him, locked his mom in a different room, and started talking strange things to him.”
“Did he say what strange things she told him?” Grandma asked. “And did he know who that woman was?”
“He said that he thought it was his old babysitter, Tía Callida, but it wasn’t. It was someone else he didn’t recognize. And the weird part, he said that she was talking to him with her eyes closed, like she was sleepwalking.”
“What did she tell him?”
“He told me that the strange things she told him were ‘I have children too, and I understand you will fight them someday. When they try to wake me, you will prevent them. I cannot allow that’.”
“Ok,” Zack said. “Does that make sense to anybody?”
“There’s more,” Luke said.
“Continue, Luke,” Grandma said. “And please don’t stop until you tell us all that he told you.”
He nodded. “Leo said that that woman also told him that she couldn’t destroy him yet because the Fates wouldn’t allow it. But they couldn’t protect his mother and they also couldn’t stop her from breaking his spirit. Then she told him to remember that night, little hero, when they ask him to oppose her.”
We all let that sink in for a moment.
“She said the Fates wouldn’t allow her to kill him?” Annabeth asked.
Luke nodded. “And you know what that means?”
“That he’s a demigod?” I asked.
“Yes,” Grandma replied. “I can feel a power surging from him that’s similar to the power surging from you two, indicating that he is a demigod.”
“Can you tell who his godly parent is?” Zack asked.
“Not exactly. But I’d say that it’s someone who has an ability over fire. Do you know of any god that has that ability?”
“Hephaestus is the god of blacksmiths and fire,” Annabeth suggested.
“Yeah, but I’ve never seen any of his kids at camp have any ability over fire,” Luke said. “And they’re definitely not immune to it because I’ve seen them get burned.”
“So no,” Grandma said. “There isn’t any god of fire whose children can also use fire?”
“Do you want us to take him to camp?” I asked.
“No. Not yet, anyway. A lot’s happened to him in the past couple days, and he’s too vulnerable right now. Having him know that he’s a demigod would stress him over the limit.”
“I knew when I was seven,” Annabeth said.
“Yes, but you’re a lot stronger than he is. You have friends that you can rely on for help. The only person that Leo could rely on was his mother, and now she’s gone.”
“He has us now,” Luke said.
“Right,” Grandma agreed. “I’m going to adopt and raise him. Then, maybe, in about six months to a year from now, we can take him to camp so that he can be properly trained as a demigod. Until then, we train him ourselves right here.”
“Wait,” Zack said. “You’re adopting him?”
“Doesn’t his mother have any family?” Mommy asked.
Grandma looked angry by the questions. “Well, that’s the problem. None of Leo’s family, except his mom, liked him. Especially his aunt. She called him a diablo and told me to take him away. The police told me that I should put him in the foster care system, but there was no way in hell I was going to let that happen.”
“Why?” Emily asked. “Have you had your own experience in it?”
“No. But I’ve seen it for myself a million times, and I don’t like it. I couldn’t put Leo in there, not after all he’s been through. I’m going to raise him for myself.”
“Does Dad know?” Mommy asked.
“Not yet. But I’ll tell him when he gets back from work. Now, like with Luke and Annabeth, we’re not going to make anything permanent yet. We’re going to wait a week or so to see how it goes. Hopefully, It’ll go good like it did with you two.”
“At least he’s a boy,” Peter said. “We have too many girls.”
“I’m actually with you on that,” Grandma said.
“Anyway,” Grandma continued. “You guys can’t tell anybody at camp about him.”
“Can I tell Cassandra?” Annabeth asked.
“Sure. But only her. No one else. And make sure that she doesn’t tell anyone either.”
“Come on, guys,” Luke told us. “Come meet Leo.”
“Yeah, but don’t ask him about his mom or family or fire,” Grandma added. “It makes him upset.”
“Ok,” I said.
It would make me upset too if I lost my mommy like he lost his. Even imagining it makes me cry.
Luke, Emily, Elizabeth, Peter, Johnathan, Toothless, Annabeth, and I headed toward Leo. He was sitting on a swing, and Luke introduced us all.
Leo looked like an elf. He had curly black hair, pointy ears, and a sad, babyish face.
“You look weird,” I said.
“Jasmine,” Emily scolded.
I guess it was kind of mean, but Leo smiled when I said that, not looking sad, but happy.
“You do too,” he said.
I laughed. “I do not.”
“You don’t look weird,” Annabeth told me. “But you do act weird.”
They laughed. I did too.
“Do you want to come play with us?” I asked Leo.
“Ok,” he replied. “Play what?”
“We can play in the pool,” Elizabeth suggested.
I started to panic when she said that. I knew how much she liked to play in the pool, but she should know that I was afraid of water.
Thankfully, Leo saved me. “I don’t like water.”
“I don’t either,” I agreed.
“Then what should we play?” Johnathan asked.
“We can play hide-and-seek,” Peter suggested.
“Yeah!” we agreed.
“Luke plays the seeker first,” Annabeth said.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“What?” he asked, I guess just realizing we said him. “Why me?”
“Because you’re older.”
“So we’re doing oldest to youngest?”
“You are the oldest out of us, Luke,” Emily said.
“Yeah, and you’re the second oldest, which means you’re next,” he replied. “So you guys better go hide. And Annabeth, I’m going to find you first.”
“We’ll see if you can,” she replied.
“Yes, we will. Now go, all of you.”
“Count to a hundred,” I said. Then we ran to go hide. “Follow me, Leo.”
I grabbed his hand and pulled him inside the house with me. I had Toothless follow.
“Are you afraid of heights?” I asked Leo.
“No,” he replied.
“Good. I have a hiding spot for you.”
I led him into the living room.
There was a ledge above the doorway to the kitchen right next to the ceiling. It was about twenty feet up and not that noticeable.
I pointed at it. “Do you see that ledge?”
“Yeah,” Leo replied.
“I’m going to have Toothless fly you on to it.”
I had him climb onto Toothless’s back, then he flew up there and Leo got off.
“Duck down when you see Luke,” I told him. “He won’t be able to see you.”
“Go hide, Toothless.”
He nodded. Then I ran downstairs and went to the music room.
I went into the recording studio and hid in it. While I was waiting, I listened to my mommy’s music that I had on my phone.
The first game lasted twenty minutes. Luke did find Annabeth first. She hid in the grounded tree house. Luke found me fifth. I was really listening to my music that I didn’t hear him coming into the recording studio. He scared me so much that I screamed.
The ones who were caught waited on the trampoline outside. Everyone was there except for Leo.
“Do you know that ledge in the living room near the ceiling?” I whispered to Annabeth.
“Yeah?” she whispered back.
“That’s where Leo is hiding.”
“Oh. Good spot for him.”
“I know. I put him there. Don’t tell Luke.”
“He found me first. I’m not telling him anything.”
We both laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Emily asked us.
Luke came out of the house a few minutes later and walked toward us. “I can’t find him.”
Annabeth and I couldn’t help but giggle.
“Do you two know where he’s hiding?” Luke asked.
“Maybe,” we both said at the same time.
“We’ll tell you if you say you give up,” Annabeth said.
“Alright. I give up.”
“Ok,” I said.
I got out of the trampoline and went inside the house. Everyone followed me. I went into the living room.
“Ok, Leo,” I said, looking up at the edge. “You can come out now. Luke gave up.”
I expected Leo to pop his head out from the ledge, but he didn’t.
Toothless flew up to check, but he shook his head, indicating that he wasn’t up there.
“Where is he?”
“I thought you said he was up there,” Annabeth said.
“I did,” I replied. “But he’s gone.”
Luke and Emily looked worried.
“Mom!” Emily called.
We went back outside. Our parents were sitting around the table on the deck.
“Mom, we can’t find Leo,” Emily said.
“He’s probably hiding,” she replied.
“Yeah, but Jasmine said that he was on that small ledge in the living room, but he’s not there. And there’s no way he could’ve gotten down by himself without getting hurt.”
“You know, Jasmine could be lying about that.”
I felt hurt by that. “I’m not lying! I helped him get up there.”
“My powers say she isn’t lying,” Emily said.
“Mom, just tell them,” Mommy said.
“Fine,” Grandma said.
She stood up, grabbed her chair, and moved it away from the table. Then Leo came out from under it.
“Leo!” we exclaimed.
I gave him a hug. “You’re ok.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Does this mean I win?”
“Yep,” Luke replied.
“This time,” Emily said. “But you won’t next time because it’s my turn to seek. And nobody helps anybody find a hiding place. Find your own. And by nobody, I mean Jasmine.”
“Hey!” I complained.
“Leo, how did you get down from that edge?” I asked.
“I got him down,” Grandma replied. “I found him up there and I brought him down. Then I had him hide under this table since we were all sitting around it. Believe me, if I didn’t know where he really was, I would’ve been more concerned.”
“I thought you were acting odd,” Emily said. “Now I know why.”
“Yes. And Jasmine, please don’t put anyone up there again. It’s bad enough when you put yourself up there, but not someone else too.”
“Ok, Grandma,” I said.
“So are we playing another game or what?” Emily asked.
“Yeah!” we yelled.
“Then go hide. All of you.”
We ran off to hide on our own this time. It was fun, and Leo won again.
Over the next few days, Annabeth and I played with Leo for a long time.
Grandma wasn’t going to put him in school yet. She was going to wait until he got used to living with us. So while we were at school, Luke and him play together all day until we get home and finished any homework we had, then we play with him and Luke and Emily hang out together.
We learned that Leo was really good at math, both mine and Annabeth’s favorite subject. (We both get straight A’s in every subject, but Annabeth likes math more because her dyslexia doesn’t bother her so much since it’s mostly about numbers, and the same for me, even though I love to read.)
So we had Grandma give us each papers with twenty equations on it to see which of us solved them the fastest, and they were the same equations on each paper, mixed with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We each did ours one at a time so that when we yelled “Done!” it wouldn’t distract the rest of us who weren’t done yet.
Grandma timed us with a stopwatch. Leo went first, then Annabeth, and then me. And it was in the order of which of us finished first to last, so Leo won. But only by a few seconds.
I also found out that Leo likes machines, I took him to my other grandparent’s house, my daddy’s parents, and he met them and my other family, but he was more interested in their gadgets.
I showed him the airship, which he seemed to really like, but who wouldn’t like my grandparent’s airship? It was awesome!
I also showed him the griffin and taught him how to fly it, with my grandparent’s permission of course, but I didn’t really need to teach him much because he was able to fly it himself within a few minutes. He’s a really fast learner, even faster than me or Annabeth. It was so funny to see the crazy look he gets on his face when he was excited.
I really like playing with him and I think Annabeth does too.
“I think someone found herself a boyfriend,” Luke told me when he, Emily, Annabeth, and I were watching Toothless fly in the air with Leo on his back.
I smiled at the thought of it. “Maybe. But I think Annabeth likes him too.”
“Not-uh,” she protested.
“Ok, you two,” Emily said. “Stop it. And Luke, you actually sound like you’re ok with her having a boyfriend.”
He shrugged. “It’s Leo. I like him as my brother.”
“Yes, you sure do.”
But it didn’t stay that way for long.
We went over to play with Leo after we ate breakfast.
When we got there, I heard a small barking sound. I knew it wasn’t Shillow nor was it Spike, Nick’s dog, because I know what their barks sound like, and that wasn’t either of theirs. So that means that they got a new dog.
I didn’t feel any new animal presence with my aura, but either way, I must see it.
The barking came from the living room, so that’s where we headed. Leo, Luke, Emily, Grandma, and Nick were there. And then I saw the dog. At least . . . I think that’s what it was. The whole thing seemed to be made out of metal. When it saw me, it barked happily.
“Doggy!” I said.
I held my arms out to it and it jumped into them. It licked my face, which sparked a little bit and I got shocked, but it didn’t hurt so bad. Then it jumped onto Annabeth, but she didn’t let it lick her at all.
“He’s so cool!” I said.
“Where did he come from?” Annabeth asked.
“Leo built him,” Emily replied.
“He did?” I asked. “How?”
“I have no idea,” Luke said. “He worked all night on it and didn’t get any sleep. And I also agree that it’s cool.”
Leo smiled. “His name is Rover.”
“Rover . . .” I repeated. “I like it. Hi, Rover.” I scratched his head and he barked happily.
“Raylee!” Grandpa called from down the hall.
“Yeah?” Grandma called back.
He came into the living room. “I can’t find my laptop. Do you know where it is?”
“Umm, no. Did you leave it at work?”
“No. I remember bringing it home with me, as I always do.”
“Ok. Then did you leave it in your car? You’ve done that before.”
“Maybe. Though I could’ve sworn I brought it inside. Are you sure you didn’t see it anywhere?”
Yes, Cj. I mean, I did think that I saw it on your desk yesterday, but—” Grandma stopped. She was looking at Rover, who was running around me and Leo.
“What, Raylee?” Grandpa asked.
She looked shocked about something. She glanced at Nick, telling him something silently, then her expression changed back to normal and she looked at Grandpa.
“Nothing,” she said. “I might’ve seen your laptop on your desk yesterday, but I see it there all the time that I could be confusing it with any other day. You should go look in your car.”
“Ooook . . .” he said. He went downstairs to the garage where his car was.
As soon as we heard him close the door, Grandma moved toward Leo.
“Leo, what did you build Rover out of?” she asked him.
“Umm, I don’t know,” he replied.
“Ok. Where did you get it?”
“Umm, I think your room?”
“Rover is Dad’s laptop,” Emily said. “It’s pretty impressive that you made him from that, but you are so screwed.”
“I know,” Grandma agreed, sounding like she was in pain.
I heard Mommy tell Daddy that Grandpa didn’t like Leo, just like he didn’t like Luke. She said that it was probably because he wasn’t his real son. Why does Grandpa have to be so mean? That’s probably why he’s the least liked in the whole family.
“Why did you have to take his laptop?” Grandma asked Leo. “You could’ve taken mine, which I wouldn’t have been too happy about, or you could’ve taken anybody else’s. But not Cj’s.”
“I’m sorry,” he replied, starting to cry.
Grandma saw his tears and seemed to feel bad for causing them. Rover saw them too and tried to cheer him up by doing backflips. It didn’t work.
“It’s ok,” Grandma told Leo. “I have my powers, so I can fix this. But I need you guys to distract him while I’m doing so, ok?”
She said that last part to Luke and Emily, who both nodded.
I realized that when Grandma does that, Rover will be gone. Well, I guess it was better him than Leo.
We heard the garage door open and we acted naturally.
Grandpa came back upstairs. “It wasn’t in my car.”
“Oh. Sorry about that,” Grandma said. “But I’m sure that it’ll turn up eventually. Do you need it for something?”
“Yeah. I need it to look over one of my client’s case, Norton Horton.”
“Norton Horton?” Grandma laughed. “I remember that guy. Mostly because of his name. He—”
She was interrupted when Rover suddenly produced a file folder from out of his back.
“Norton Horton’s case file,” he said in a robotic voice.
Then he went back to barking happily. And he was the only one.
Grandpa looked confused for a moment, staring at Rover, then he crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Leo, then Grandma.
She sighed. “So close. So. Damn. Close.” She looked at Luke. “Luke, take Leo and the girls down to their house. Cj and I need to talk.”
“Nick, I want you to go with them.”
“What?” he asked, surprised. “I want to stay here with you.”
“I know, and that’s why I want you to go with them. I need to talk to Cj alone.”
He wanted to argue but decided against it. “Fine.”
We all stood up and left the house. Rover came with us. Luke gave Grandpa a glare, then we were gone.
The rest of that day was quiet. Scary quiet.
When we got to my house, and after Emily and Luke told Mommy and Daddy what happened, I tried to get them all to play something to be happy, but no one was in the mood. Not even Leo, or Annabeth, or even Johnathan, who picked up on their moods. The only one that was really happy was Rover, but I doubt he understood anything.
So I just went to my room and finished the new book I was reading from the library on my bed and cried, even though it was a happy book, but I wasn’t happy.
No one was.
Leo, Emily, and Luke were at my house for hours before they finally went home when Grandma came down to get them.
“Damn,” she said when she saw them all watching TV. “This is depressing.” Then she noticed me at the top of the stairs. I came out of my room when I heard her open the front door. She came toward me. “Are you ok?”
I shook my head and started crying again.
She held out her arms to me and I wrapped mine around her neck and she wrapped hers around me.
“It’s going to be ok,” she promised me.
“Does Leo have to leave?” I asked.
“No. No matter what he or anybody else does, they’ll never, ever, be told to leave. At least, not by me. That’s what a true family does. You got it?”
“Good. You need to stay strong. Not just for them, but for yourself as well. And it’s ok to cry. Most people think that crying makes you weak, which it does a little bit, but when you’re easily sensitive, there isn’t really anything you can do about it. Believe me, I know. And I’m probably who you got it from. Ok?”
I nodded again.
She, Leo, Emily, Luke, Rover, and Nick went home after that.
But it just got worse.
The next morning, Luke, Emily, and Grandma burst into our house all of a sudden.
“Guys,” Luke said. “Is Leo here?”
“No,” Mommy replied.
“Dammit,” Grandma cursed.
“Why?” I asked.
“We can’t find him,” Emily replied.
“I put him to bed last night,” Grandma said. “But when I woke up, he was gone.”
“Don’t you have super hearing?” Daddy asked.
“Yes, and the animals do too, but we didn’t hear him for some reason, and we usually always do when someone’s walking through the house in the middle of the night.”
“Did Dad have something to do with him being gone?” Mommy asked.
“Your father would never do that, no matter how pissed off he is. Though we did suspect him, we have cameras all over the house. We checked them and saw Leo leave through the doggy door. He left on his own, and left Rover behind.”
“But why?” Annabeth asked.
“He probably felt like he wasn’t wanted anymore,” Luke said.
“Because of Grandpa?” I asked.
That made me madder at Grandpa.
“Well, we have to find him,” Grandma said. “Nick and the animals are already following his scent. We’re going to go catch up with them. But first, I want to talk to you two alone.”
She was talking to Mommy and Daddy, and she looked mad. But they were confused.
“About what?” Daddy asked.
“I think you know what,” Grandma replied. “And if you don’t, well, follow me and I’ll tell you.”
She headed down the hallway and went into their room.
“Why is she mad at us?” Daddy asked Mommy.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “But I’m afraid to find out. Do you two know why she’s mad at us?”
Luke and Emily nodded.
“She’s mad at us for the same thing,” Luke said.
“What about?” Daddy asked.
“She’ll tell you,” Emily replied.
Mommy sighed. “Let’s go, Zak.”
And she and Daddy went into their bedroom, closing the door behind them.
“Why is she mad at you?” Annabeth asked.
“Because of how we treated Jasmine yesterday,” he said.
“Ok,” I replied, confused. “How did you treat me?”
“Well, you were trying to cheer us all up any way you knew how to,” Emily explained. “But we just pushed you away, might’ve even yelled at you a little bit to leave us alone. You were crying, and we didn’t comfort you like we should’ve, and we’re really sorry for that.”
“I am, too,” Annabeth said.
I smiled and gave them all forgiving hugs.
When Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma came back, Grandma, Luke, and Emily left to find Leo, and Mommy and Daddy apologized to me too for yesterday, and I also gave them forgiving hugs.
Later that day, Grandma, Luke, and Emily came back to give us an update on Leo.
“Well, he’s not coming home,” Grandma said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because he doesn’t want to come home,” Emily replied.
“Yeah,” Grandma said. “Even though we fixed the problem with Cj. I used my powers to give him another laptop just like his original one so that Leo can keep Rover. He’s pretty much given up on himself being a part of our family.”
“But we haven’t,” Luke said.
“No. And we never will. But I’m not going to force Leo to come back.”
“So what are you going to do?” Mommy asked.
“We’re going to let him roam on his own for now,” she replied. “Sort of. I mean, Toto and Chewie will keep an eye on him and we’ll check on him ourselves constantly to make sure that he’s fed, clothed, everything. I even gave him a sword to defend himself with just in case he runs into any monsters. I also asked him if he wanted to try another family, and he said yes, but not for a while. So I’ll try to find him a suitable family that’ll prepare to take care of him when he’s ready. Until then, he’ll just wander around and try to survive on his own.”
“Like we did,” Annabeth said.
Grandma nodded in agreement.
“So Leo’s gone?” I asked.
“For now, yes,” Grandma replied. “But hopefully, someday, he’ll want to come back and be a part of our family again.”
“I hope so.”
I’m going to miss Leo. He was so funny, and weird and crazy, just like me, minus the funny part.
But I wonder if I would ever see him again.
Yep, it was Leo. I thought it would've been kind of cute to add him into this before when he actually appears again. What did you guys think about it?
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