Mason sat in the lounge watching TV. It was some boring nature programme but there was nothing else on the tv to watch, after all it was 3:00 am and all of the other shows he watched had stopped running at this time. He lay across the soft cushioned couch and began drifting in to a peaceful sleep whilst he listened to the dull monotoned man explain why Lion travelled in packs. When suddenly, he heard a small whimper come from the baby monitor. Instantly, he shot up and held the monitor closely to his ear, he smiled as he heard the low grumbles turn in to quietly spoken words.
"Da… Da… Ddy… Da… Daddy…"
He gave a small smile and chuckle as he walked in to the next room of the apartment where Neave was laying in her crib.
"Shh," Mason said as he entered the room. "Mummy's asleep in the next room, what's wrong? Does Neavie want a-"
He froze as he looked down in to an empty crib. Slowly, he took a few steps back as he felt his heart begin to beat faster. Then once again, a small noise came from the monitor which Mason held firmly in his hand.
Mason stood in silence as he listened intently to his daughter's voice. After a brief pause he ran into his and Alex's room.
"Alex love, is Neave-"
Once again, he froze as he found himself staring at an empty bed. Without a second thought he sped out of the apartment, despite not knowing where he was running to he kept going, shouting his daughters name at the top of his lungs in the process.
Then he froze. His heart sank and his legs seemed to lose all feeling as he found himself stood on Waverly Place. Lightening and thunder echoed through the air as heavy, cold rain began pounding down on to Mason's face as he stared up at the roof of the substation. A sickly feeling swirled in his stomach whilst a hot sweat took over his body as he stood watching Ana who was perched on top of the roof, she tightly embraced Neave in her arms as she stood staring out across the city.
"Dad, help us." Said Ana, who was in a trance like state, "save us daddy."
Mason looked around in panic, only to see him stood alone in the street. His heart began to beat rapidly as he searched around for help. "Ana!" He called, "stay there!"
"This is your fault…" he heard a voice whisper behind him. But when he turned around no one was there. Suddenly, the voice appeared again. "You could have saved her…" Once again Mason spun around but he was still stood alone in the street.
"Why couldn't you help her?" Mason looked next to him only to see Juliet and Alex looking up at Ana and Neave on the roof top. Slowly, they turned their heads to look at him. Their pale complexions glowed in the moonlight, Mason looked sadly at their eyes. The dark makeup they both wore streamed down their faces, leaving pitch black trails down their cheeks.
"This is your fault," the girls said in unison.
Mason looked back up at his daughters on the roof and stared helplessly at them as he found himself at a loss for words. Eventually, Ana looked down at Mason and quietly she uttered the words, "I'm sorry."
The next thing Mason knew a dark hooded figure appeared behind his daughters, as Mason sped over to the building Ana and Neave were launched off of the roof after being pushed by the mysterious figure. Mason screamed in terror as he watched his daughters fall through the air on to the stone cold ground…
"No!" yelled Mason as he leapt up from a deep sleep. He frantically looked around the room only to find that he was safe in his and Alex's bedroom. His heavy breathing gradually became slower as he became more aware of his surroundings. He cupped his head in hands and sighed in relief, Mason closed his eyes whilst his heart rate began to gradually relax. Suddenly, he felt a hand drop on to his shoulder, he jumped in his seat as he turned around only to see Alex looking at him with a worried expression displayed on her face.
"Mason what's wrong?" She asked him in a panicked tone.
"Nothing," he panted, "nothing. I just need to check on Neave." He then leapt up out of bed and rushed in to the nursery.
Mason burst in to the room and instantly ran over to the white crib where Neave lay fast asleep huddled up to her teddy bear. Mason smiled down at his daughter as he gently moved her thick brown hair out of her face and fixed the pink bed sheet that covered her so it was closer to her body. Mason stood in silence as he watched her sleep but soon he heard soft footsteps follow him in to the room.
"You had that dream again, didn't you?"
Mason turned to look at Alex who was stood in the doorway, he shrugged his shoulders and then returned to admiring Neave. "It doesn't matter."
"Mason obviously it matters!" Said Alex as she walked over to her boyfriend and wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Maybe you should talk to someone? I mean, I know you haven't found it easy since Ana-"
"I'm fine," he interrupted, "I just need to make sure Neave's okay. I can't let anything happen to her."
"It won't, Mason it's not just your responsibility to protect Neave. We're all here to look out for her."
"I know, but I need to look after her. I should have been looking after Ana and look what happened."
"Mason, what happened to Ana was an awful accident. It wasn't your fault, there was nothing you could have done. Now come on, it's late. Lets go back to bed."
Mason lay awake with Alex laying on his chest. He stared up at the blank white ceiling whilst he ran his fingers through Alex's silky dark locks. Gently, he turned his head to read the time on the digital clock beside the bed. It red 6:05 am, Mason gave a heavy sigh and began to whisper to himself, "3…2…1."
The small monitor on the dresser began to light up as a small whining noise became increasingly louder. Mason lay quietly as he listened to Neave begin to cry, she blubbered quietly until she began to try and speak "Ahdah… Ahdah!"
Mason nudged Alex as she snored softly in to his chest, "Alex," he whispered, "Alex, Neave's calling you."
"Mason don't lie, we both know she's calling you," she mumbled before returning back to sleep almost instantly.
Mason rolled his eyes, "let me up then."
Alex rolled over to the other side of the bed and soon after her snores began to echo throughout the room. Mason shook his head and shot up, almost rushing in to Neave's room to greet her. He walked in to the nursery only to be greeted by Neave stood up in her crib, clutching on to the rails tightly. Her hazel coloured hair was tatty and it stuck up in different directions. Mason gave a laugh and softly brushed her hair out of her face, instantly Neave's arms shot up and she repeatedly jigged up and down, begging to be picked up.
Mason caved and swooped her up in to his arms and hugged her tightly, "hello darling," he said after giving her a big kiss on the cheek.
"Ahdah, ahdah," she mumbled holding her pink pacifier tightly in her mouth.
Mason briskly pulled it out and smirked at her, "what? Say it again."
"Ahdah!" repeated Neave.
"No," corrected Mason, "say dad! D-ad, dad."
Mason sighed, "where have you got the extra syllable from?"
Mason laughed and walked in to the living room, clutching Neave closely to his chest as she snuggled in to him. He sat down on the couch and Neave crawled off his lap and sat next to him, promptly grabbing the TV remote and passing it to her dad.
"What do you want to watch? Peppa Pig?" Mason asked as he began to flick through the channels, he scoffed while rolling his eyes, "no thank you! The gurgles? Yeah, I guess they're… almost bearable."
"Peppa!" Called Neave pointing at the TV.
"Oh so you can't say dad, but you can ask to watch Peppa Pig? Fine…" He pressed the button on the remote and Neave clapped excitedly as she watched the TV.
Mason turned to the bedroom door as he heard it slowly open, out stumbled Alex, her hair array and her dads old band t-shirt she wore along with the grey sweats with holes in were creased and crumpled. She shuffled over to the couch and collapsed next to Mason letting out a tired moan as she snuggled up next to him.
"Hi," she yawned closing her eyes and hugging one of Mason's arms tightly.
"Why aren't you asleep?" Asked Mason laughing smugly at his girlfriend.
"I couldn't sleep, plus I'm going with my dad for our annual father daughter breakfast an I'd said I'd take Neave so we're going early so we can eat before she needs a nap."
"Right well, I want to make an early start on my work so I'll leave this one with you." Said Mason as he rose off of the couch and gently stroked Neave on the head as he walked past.
Alex moaned loudly, "why did you have to apply for college? I miss doing nothing with you!"
"I'm sorry love but I would have started this art course sooner, but you decided to give birth so…"
"Excuse me! I did not 'decide' to give birth. It just happened."
"Yeah well, I've had a year off with you both but now I actually need to go and do some work." He kissed the top of Alex's head, "sorry love."
Alex sighed as Mason walked away and pulled Neave on to her lap. Neave ignored Alex and continued watching the TV, causing Alex to roll her eyes in annoyance.
"Urggh Neave? Hi! You okay baby?"
Neave continued to stare at the TV and began to reply to Alex by repeatedly snorting like a pig.
Alex rolled her eyes, "another reason to hate Peppa Pig…"
Jerry walked over from the rustic wooden counter over the small table where Alex was sat next to Neave who was securely strapped in to a plain plastic high chair. The restaurant they were in was dated, although Jerry just classed it as 'vintage.' The air reeked of over powering sweet syrups, warm pancakes and waffles that left a sickly feeling churning in their stomachs.
They were surrounded by dark décor such as dull amateur paintings of New York and stuffed deer heads, that frightened the life out of many customers.
"Here you go," Jerry said handing over to Alex a stack of freshly cooked pancakes. He placed a smaller plate on to the sticky table they sat at, "I got these for Neave to try but I figured if she doesn't like them we could always eat them instead."
"I like your thinking!" Smiled Alex, "thanks daddy!"
"Anything for my girls," he cooed tickling Neave's chin. She giggled uncontrollably trying to bat away his hand as she arched her back whilst still sat in her seat. "So how is it going?" Jerry asked before stopping tickling Neave and tucking in to his pancakes.
"Good!" Alex told him pouring a large amount of syrup and butter on to her pancakes. "Mason's spending most of his time on his college work so it's just been me and Neave, just hanging out. Even Harper's been busy."
Jerry laughed, "well yeah, I mean Harper has a lot of college work to do too."
"I know," moaned Alex, "but it's boring! As much as I love spending time with Neave its hard not being able to have an actual conversation with someone."
"Yeah you'll get used to that," Jerry told her with his mouth full of food.
"No dad I'm being serious! You and Mom are always busy with the subshop, Justin has WizTech, and Max, Mason and Harper have college. So what can I do? I feel like lately I'm not seeing anyone except the stupid Gurgles! Which by the way I can not bring myself to watch another episode of, that triangle just freaks me out!"
"Alex this all a normal part of parenting. You're doing a great job with Neave and all of this will be worth it when she's old enough to go out with her friends and you can get your life back."
"I can't wait until then! There has to be something I could do?"
"You can always come back to work at the subshop if you wanted?"
Alex laughed hysterically, "Dad I'm not that desperate!"
"Well, full time stay at home mom it is then!"
Alex groaned, "great!" she said sarcastically as she cut up some pancakes and handed them to Neave who began to happily munch on them.
"Is Mason going to be working all day?" Jerry asked.
"I think Justin's coming round later, you should too. It's been a while since we all spent some quality time together."
Alex nodded, "yeah, I'd like that."
Max held out his arms and knelt down on the floor. He smiled widely as he began to gesture to himself. "Neave!" He called, "come on, come here! You can do it!"
Neave was stood held on to the brightly coloured couch. She laughed at Max as he constantly waved to her to her to walk over to him. She bounced up and down babbling to herself, letting out random bouts of laughter.
"Neave come on!" Max called, "come here!"
Slowly Neave shifted forward, putting one foot in front of the other she made her way over to Max. Unsteady on her feet she wobbled around as she walked to him. When she reached him she fell in to his arms and grabbed his t-shirt, pulling herself back up. Alex and Theresa watched smiling from the kitchen while Max cheered loudly, scooping her up in his arms and spinning her around.
"Yeah! Go Neave! Now this time run to me," he told her as he placed her down next to the couch.
"Max!" Yelled Theresa, "leave her alone! She can only just walk, you cant expect her to run!"
"She's just not confident yet," Alex told them, "Max if you hold her hand and walk with her she'll be able to just let go and walk on her own."
Max nodded and took hold of Neave's small hand, he then carefully led her around the room before she shrugged him off and began to wander off on her own. Everyone watched her quietly as she once again started to babble to herself as she trotted around the lounge, attempting to climb the step in to the dining area. The three Russo's were then turned to the mustard coloured front door as it swung opened.
"Look who I found," said Jerry as he walked in, closely followed by Justin and Harper.
"Harper!" Called Alex excitedly as she ran over to hug her best friend.
"Umm, hi," said Harper awkwardly as she was being squished by Alex's tight embrace. "Is she okay?" She asked Theresa and Jerry.
They both nodded, "she's bored," Theresa told her.
Harper laughed as she released from Alex's grip.
Justin held out his arms, "don't I get a hug?" he asked his sister.
"Nope," Alex smirked as she launched herself on the couch.
"Well at least I can get a hug from you!" He exclaimed as he raced over to Neave and scooped her up in his arms, hugging her tightly an smothering her with kisses. Neave squealed excitedly as she grabbed on to Justin's face and dark hair as he kissed her repeatedly.
"Oh hey Alex," said Justin sitting next to her on the couch with Neave tightly clinging on to his chest, "you know, there's been something I keep meaning to ask you…"