“No, Lorraine. How about you listen!” said Lailah Aurion angrily, standing up and glaring down what everyone had come to know as her mortal enemy. At least at PTA meetings. And fundraisers. And school events. And basically any time Lailah Aurion and Lorraine Fischer met face to face.
Richter Abend sighed, putting his face in his hands again. The meeting objectives had been simple enough, and kind (but stern) teacher Karla Maxwell had made them clear enough at the beginning of the PTA meeting. Now she was attempting to yet again form peace between the feuding mothers. Richter had to admit, his own husband wasn’t doing anything to help. Both Aster Abend and Zaveid Yggdrasill were the most vocal of Lailah’s supporters. Zaveid because he had a crush on Lailah, and Aster just because he found the whole matter rather fun.
“Lailah, Lorraine, please both of you sit down,” said Karla, attempting to be louder than both mothers.
“Karla is right, we do have some very important matters to discuss aside from Lailah or Lorraine’s sons,” chipped in Milla Maxwell.
“This doesn’t affect you!” snapped Lorraine. “And of course you’re siding with your cousin!”
Milla silently stared the woman down, and Richter was internally grateful it was Milla that had attended the meeting rather than one of her other cousins. It was true that there were at least three of the Maxwell family at every PTA meeting, due to Karla being a teacher at the school, and two of her cousins having children in third and eighth grade.
Ludger Kresnik-Maxwell’s daughter, Elle, was in third grade, and though he attended every meeting, he didn’t say much. From what sparse conversations Richter had had with him, he seemed to be a rather friendly person who cared a lot about his daughter. His and Karla’s other cousin’s daughter was Elize, who was in eighth grade. However, Elize’s father, Jiao, was often out of the country and so because of a lack of another parent and a rather close knit family, many of her cousins would simply fill in at the meetings in her father’s stead.
Milla was the cousin currently standing in for Jiao, and she was one of the calmer Maxwell cousins that didn’t attempt to antagonize Lailah or Lorraine, unlike her cousin Alvin. Alvin was also the older brother of Leia, who happened to be dating Richter’s son Jude, so he’d rather often drag Aster and the (reluctant) Richter into the inevitable argument. While it was true Milla tended to be a bit brusque, she at least let Richter stay out of the crossfire.
“Now that we’ve all calmed down,” said Karla sharply, glaring at Lorraine as she opened her mouth to speak yet again. “We can continue with our discussion about the bake sale. Ludger and Milla have of course offered to help with pastries from the Maxwell House café, and Lailah—”
Karla paused in her reading of the notes in front of her to glare at Lorraine who was looking ready to talk again about Lailah and her sons.
“—and Zaveid have already offered to help run the tables from noon to three on Saturday. Yes, Richard?” continued Karla, nodding to Richard Windor, who had raised his hand to speak.
“I did mention before about Asbel being able to bake and I would be happy make the banners,” said Richard. “I would also be available to help run the tables with Guy at some point.”
Richter liked Richard and his two husbands well enough. Richard and Guy liked to joke with everyone, including their poor husband Asbel, and while they didn’t seem to have a clue about raising their infant son Luke, they loved both him and their thirteen year old daughter Sophie very much. Even though they lived in the same apartment building, Richter’s children were completely different ages from Richard, Asbel, and Guy’s, so he didn’t talk to them very often.
“Thank you Richard,” said Karla, writing down some notes in her PTA meeting notebook. Richter was mildly surprised that she managed to get that many notes per meeting due to at least fifty percent of the meeting being an argument between Lailah and Lorraine.
The rest of the meeting managed to pass without much incident. Aster ended up volunteering both himself and Richter to helping run the bake sale table on Friday afternoon, managing to talk Richter out of his argument that someone needed to watch the triplets. (“Jude can handle it you know he can so come on Richter, pleaaaaase?”). Two hours later, Richter was glad to finally stand up and stretch, and could see Lorraine glaring daggers at Lailah, who seemed a bit preoccupied talking to Zaveid about something. He knew that another fight was going to break out either as soon as Karla left the room or if Lailah just didn’t leave fast enough. Though Lailah would probably end up enjoying it.
“Hey Lailah,” he said, quickly approaching both her and Zaveid. “The triplets are going to be having a movie night next Saturday, would Sorey and Mikleo like to come?”
He then turned to Zaveid and added, “Of course I expected Dezel to want to come, and if she wants to Edna is welcome as well.”
“Oh I’m sure they would love that!” said Lailah excitedly. Her two sons, Sorey and Mikleo, were a year older than the triplets. Zaveid’s son Dezel was in kindergarten with them, though his daughter Edna was eight.
“Thank you for the invitation, Dezel will definitely be excited, but we’ll see how Edna takes it,” said Zaveid with a smile.
“Now I think you two should probably get going before Lorraine gets over here,” said Richter in a lower voice.
Lailah glanced over at the other mother who was making a huge show of getting her keys out of her purse.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Karla wouldn’t like it if we cause any more fights tonight, so let’s go Zaveid,” said Lailah with a sigh, slinging her purse over her shoulder and gesturing to what Richter could only describe as her posse to follow her.
“Another crisis averted, huh?” said Aster with a smile.
“I can only hope,” said Richter with a sigh. “Lorraine is sure to throw a fit at the bake sale at some point or another and I certainly hope I’m not there when it happens.”
“But you’re such a good peacemaker!” said Aster with a grin. “Oh hi Milla! How’s Elize doing?”
“The only reason for that is we have three five year old daughters,” Richter said under his breath, but Aster, who was talking to Milla about Elize, likely didn’t hear him.
* * *
Richter woke up to the sensation of something walking on top of him. A gentle paw on his face, and then slightly more pressure made him groan.
“Kevin please, Aster or Bubbles will feed you,” he mumbled in the hopes that their cat would get off his face.
“He’s not bothering you because he’s hungry. I put him on you,” said Aster, and Richter could hear the smirk in his voice.
Carefully reaching up and pulling the cat off of him, Richter sat up to glare at his husband while petting the cat.
“Honestly Aster sleeping in would have been preferable,” he said.
“It was either Kevin wake you up or all three of the triplets jumping on you at the same time,” said Aster with a snicker.
“Oh for the love of—” Richter sighed. “Fine. What am I doing up? What do you want? What do they want?”
“They want to go to the bake sale,” said Aster simply.
“No,” Richter groaned, laying down again and throwing an arm dramatically over his face.
“Mrow,” said Kevin, walking on Richter again.
“Kevin please that’s my kidney,” Richter said, refusing to get up.
“Kevin will get off your organs if you get up,” said Aster, and Richter could once again hear the smile in his voice.
“Fiiiiine,” said Richter grumpily, sitting up to get Kevin off of him once again.
“There’s breakfast on the table if you want any. Get ready in ten minutes or I will send all three triplets in after you,” Aster threatened.
Richter knew that Aster would hold true to that threat, and not being in the mood to be attacked by three kindergarteners, he moved Kevin to the bed and threw the blankets off himself, getting up and dressed for yet another day at the bake sale.
Approximately eight minutes later, Richter shuffled into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, and sat down at the table with a grumpy expression on his face.
“Good morning sleeping beauty,” said Aster with a smile, giving Richter a quick kiss.
“You can take your morning and shove it up your—” Richter grumbled, but Aster interrupted him quickly with a sing-songy “Language!”
Richter sighed, but accepted the plate of pancakes that Aster handed him. He attempted to take as long as possible on his breakfast, resigning himself to the fact that he would have to see likely both Lailah and Lorraine at the bake sale with all of his children in tow.
“Papa are you almost done with breakfast?” asked Bubbles excitedly, running over to the table and looking up at him hopefully.
“Ah…er…yes. I’ll be done soon,” said Richter hesitantly. Bubbles beamed at him and he felt slightly guiltier about how long this was taking him. “Go ahead and play with your sisters until I’m done.”
Richter finished as quickly as he could, before standing up to wash his plate in the sink. Noticing that he was done, Bubbles was quick to tell her sisters that they needed to get ready. As he washed the plate, Richter could hear Bubbles lecturing Jude on how his hair looked. (“What’s wrong with it?” “It looks messy! You should borrow Blossom’s hairbrush!” “It looks fine! I’m not using Blossom’s hairbrush!”)
"Are you ready to go?” asked Aster, popping his head into the doorway.
“Yeah,” sighed Richter.
“Aww don’t look so grumpy! It won’t be that bad!” said Aster with a smile.
“That’s what you think,” muttered Richter, but once again his husband likely didn’t hear him as he was busy getting the triplets ready.
* * *
The words “I told you so” weren’t something Richter used lightly. He only really used it on the triplets when one of them did something he had told them in advance was not a good idea. He rarely got the chance to use it on Aster because whenever Aster did something stupid he didn’t even consult Richter to begin with. Jude tended not to do stupid things. But this. This was a moment that he was going to look Aster dead in the eyes and say simply, “I told you so.” Because it was so. Exactly as he had said. What he did find to be a miracle was the fact that all the tables were (currently) intact.
Lailah and Lorraine, however, stood glaring at each other on opposite sides of the bake sale table. Zaveid was standing threateningly behind Lailah while glaring silently at Lorraine and her clique (which mostly comprised of other snobby suburbia moms in Richter’s opinion). Lorraine and Lailah getting into a fight wasn’t an uncommon thing. This was to be expected. If you put Lailah Aurion and Lorraine Fischer in a room together whether alone or with 100 others, a fight was going to break out. Lorraine would say something, and Lailah would be unable to let the snobbishness of the statement go. It was simply how they worked.
If anything, Richter would compare them to a mongoose and a cobra in the way they were glaring daggers at each other. Lailah generally tried to be polite though, until Lorraine said something she couldn’t forgive. He wondered briefly if they’d reached that point yet. His unasked question was answered in a matter of seconds.
“Lorraine, that really was uncalled for,” said Guy Windor, stepping forward from his place behind the table with Lailah and Zaveid.
Richter was grateful that Guy was intervening because it meant that he didn’t have to. No matter what Aster said about his peace keeping skills, growing up with three sisters and having triplet daughters made it a forced way of life, not a choice to make when he didn’t have to get involved.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Jude said quietly to his girlfriend, Leia Maxwell, who was standing behind her brother Alvin with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.
“Lorraine is being awful, if that comes as any surprise,” Leia replied, equally quietly. “Lailah was doing her best to be polite since y’know, it’s just her, Zaveid, and Guy right now and this is one of the peak times. But then Lorraine had to open her mouth and make some stupid comment about Sorey again.”
“Oh dear,” Aster murmured, hearing Leia’s explanation.
“Guy’s trying to calm everything down right now…here’s hoping Alvin keeps his mouth shut,” said Leia, giving a glare to her brother who responded with a sheepish smile and a shrug.
“Listen, Sorey is a good kid, and so is Eric I’m sure,” said Guy, moving between Lailah and Lorraine. “So Lorraine, please just…let it go for today, okay? Lailah’s trying her hardest right now.”
“Well she’s clearly not trying very hard,” sneered Lorraine. “If anything Mikleo is even worse than Sorey and he’s not even her son.”
That was the snapping point, Richter would remember for when he explained to everyone who wasn’t there later. It was as soon as Mikleo was mentioned and insulted that Lailah’s fists that had been quivering already in rage made their move. It had been at that moment that Zaveid lost his cool at the exact same time. It had been that moment where Guy essentially dove out of the way of Lailah’s unbridled maternal rage. It had been that moment that all those wonderful cupcakes that Ludger had made, and that Richter was actually looking forward to trying, had been lost. It happened in just a moment. And a moment was all it took.
The table was intact with the pastries displayed enticingly upon it, and then the desserts were flying everywhere as Zaveid flipped it upside down and Lailah lunged across it to punch Lorraine in the face.
“WHOA HEY!” said Yuri Scifo, suddenly jumping in between Lorraine and Lailah’s fist. “Lailah…Lailah calm down. It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay! She insulted Mikleo!” snarled Lailah.
Richter had to admit that even after growing up with his sisters, Lailah’s fury was much more terrifying than any of them had ever been. He wondered idly why Yuri was here until he saw Yuri’s twin sister Judith and their younger brother Karol standing a bit off to the side. Yuri’s husband, Flynn, was attempting to calm down Lorraine at the same time as Yuri attempted to prevent Lailah from punching her.
“Lorraine, please apologize to Lailah so we can just move on with this,” said Flynn calmly.
“She tried to punch me in the face!” shrieked Lorraine.
“You kind of deserved it,” Guy said nonchalantly, standing up and brushing himself off.
Flynn shot his twin brother a glare before returning his attention to Lorraine.
"But she didn’t. And as much as I hate to…er…admit that Guy is right about this, you did antagonize her by insulting her sons,” said Flynn carefully. “So if you’ll just apologize—”
“It’s going to take a hell of whole lot more than an apology!” said Lailah angrily, attempting to shove Yuri out of the way to reach Lorraine, but Yuri managed to hold his ground.
“Lailah—Lailah please, all of us here know what great kids Sorey and Mikleo are it’s alright just calm down. Lailah will apologize for attempting to punch you in the face, and Lorraine you can apologize for insulting Lailah’s children,” Yuri said, glaring at Lorraine with his last words.
Lorraine sniffed and turned her head up haughtily, crossing her arms. Lailah seemed to have finally calmed down just a tiny bit and was no longer fighting with Yuri to punch Lorraine in the face. If Richter were honest with himself, Lailah probably wouldn’t be the only one who wanted to punch Lorraine in the face. If she had actually managed to do it before Flynn and Yuri intervened, there would likely be more cheers than gasps of shock.
“I…apologize for attempting to punch you in the face,” said Lailah stiffly, turning away.
“Hmph. Well I’m very sorry that your sons are—”
“Lorraine,” said Flynn warningly. Lorraine let out a frustrated huff before dramatically flipping her hair.
“Fine. I apologize for my…unkind words…towards your son…s,” Lorraine said, hesitating slightly on the last word.
“She’s like mega-ultra asshole,” Leia muttered to Jude. “She needs to get over it that Lailah treats Mikleo as her actual son I swear to Origin.”
“Language,” said Jude on impulse, before nodding his agreement.
“And by the way Lorraine,” said Lailah, and Richter sighed. “Your blueberry cobbler is truly terrible and should not have won the state competition.”
“YOU GET BACK HERE!” Lorraine screamed, but Flynn was holding her back while Lailah walked out with Zaveid following behind her, her ever loyal posse.
“I knew that was going to happen,” groaned Richter.
“At least it’s resolved until next PTA meeting,” said Aster absently. “Cupcake?”