Kona was looking forward to his retirement years. Life was good, and it was only going to get better.
Crissy had talked him into retiring. She had wanted him to slow down and enjoy their baby that was due to arrive soon. Kona could hardly believe it, he had great grandchildren, but he was about to become a father again, all these great years later.
His family had been a bit shocked at his announcement. Kona chuckled, well, a lot shocked! Kit though had come up and been the first to hug him and congratulate him. He had also said, "Way to go Gramps!" to which Kona had blushed. He hadn't intended to have any more children at all, but all children were a blessing, and he found he was excited at the prospect of another child.
Kona had been thinking of Kanani a lot lately, and of his good friend, Tragic. He still talked to Kanani, but not as much as he used to. The day before he asked Crissy to marry him, he had gone for a long walk, and talked to Kanani for hours. He had wept, crying for all the years that he missed with her, and all the things she had missed. And after that walk, he told her he was getting married again, and that he had to let her go. He would soon have a new wife.
He thought of his friend Tragic, and all the stories they had shared while Kona was growing up. Of how Tragic had taught Kona how to be a Magician. How Tragic had believed in him, and encouraged him, and given him the props and training that had begun Kona's career.
His musings were interrupted by a phone call. Crissy was in labor. Kona let his family know, and he rushed out the door. He barely made it to her house in time to welcome his son, Makaio.
Crissy rushed past Kona and headed for outside, Makaio in her arms. "Crissy, where are you going?" Kona spun on his heels and followed her. She put Makaio on the ground and clutched her belly and moaned. "Crissy?" Kona said fearfully.
Crissy let out another moan and delivered his daughter, Kiana, outside on the sidewalk.
Kona rushed over and picked up his son, who had started fussing. "Crissy, " he admonished her, "The ground is not a proper place for a baby! We need cribs!" Kona fretted. He thought he had more time to get prepared before the baby was born. And twins! He would need to buy two of everything!
Crissy rolled her eyes at Kona. "I was trying to get to the hospital." Crissy complained. "But I didn't quite make it before Kaio decided to make his appearance."
Kona sat in the rocking chair on the front porch and began to sing softly to his newborn son. He sung an old lullaby, one that he and Kanani used to sing to their girls when they were babies. Kona took a deep breath. He could smell the lilacs in the air, and he felt the warm summer breeze on his cheek. He could never in a thousand lifetimes, count all of his blessings.
The nights and days slipped by, with joys that he had once forgotten but now remembered. The three am feedings, the bartering over who changes the diapers, the tender moments spent with a beloved, and the stolen kisses between baby cries. Before too long, his twins were already toddlers, and pulling at his pant legs to demand his attention.
Kona came up from behind Crissy and wrapped his arms around her. She smiled at him, and leaned into him. "I've been thinking." he said quietly.
"After your birthday today, I'd like us to take a trip to Sunset Valley, without the kids." When Crissy started to say something, Kona said gently, "Let me finish. Kaio and Kiana will be fine with my family for a few days, and I'd like us to travel just once, before we are too old to go anywhere. It is our last chance, and I want to say goodbye to an old friend."
"Your wife?" Crissy guessed.
"No, I've already said my goodbyes to her. I'd like to say goodbye to Tragic; he was like a father to me."
After some more bargaining, Kona finally got Crissy to agree to a short 3 day trip. Crissy fretted over her appearance, she was not used to so much grey! Kona let her know though, that he still thought she was beautiful.
"But your Kanani will be forever young in your mind." she said lightly, trying to keep the jealousy out of her voice.
"Kanani will always hold a part of my heart, this is true. She was the mother of my children, my first love, and had she lived, my only love. But she did not. You hold a piece of my heart as well, Crissy. Forever until death. Love does not contract, but expands the more it is given."
"I am being a silly old fool."
Kona smiled. He knew better than to say anything to that statement.
The trip to Sunset Valley did not take very long, but Kona was glad to have his feet on the ground again. He did not like flying.
He took Crissy's hand and together they walked to the Cemetery. A rush of memories and images flowed through Kona's mind. He had grown up here, fallen in love here, gotten married, this was the birthplace of Keiki, Poulani, and Keilani. He had dreamed big dreams when he lived here. Now he only had quiet dreams. Dreams of seeing his children grow up, graduate, maybe even get married. Dreams of sitting with Crissy on the front porch in the Summer twilight, watching for the twinkling of fireflies. He squeezed her hand, and smiled at her. She smiled back.
His smile faded, and he let go of her hand, as he stared down at the grave of his friend, Tragic. Tragic had really liked Kanani, and told Kona she was a keeper. Kona knew that Tragic would think Crissy was a keeper too.
The sound of his quiet mourning must have awakened some magic, for before Kona's very startled, red rimmed eyes, Tragic appeared.
Kona rubbed his eyes, but the apparition stayed. Crissy's squeak assured him that she saw Tragic too. "Tragic is that you?" he asked.
"I think I must ask you a similar question! Kona? Is that you? I see some old man with a resemblance to the youth I once knew."
Kona laughed. "I cannot believe it! Yes, it's me, Kona. Many years have passed, and I am all withered and grey!"
"And your wife, Kanani? I bet she looks beautiful in grey."
Kona had to tell Tragic the sad tale of his wife, but Tragic himself was no stranger to sad tales.
Tragic nodded his head in sorrow. "This is grave news indeed. I am so sorry to hear that!"
Kona groaned inwardly at Tragic's use of the pun grave. He had forgotten that little fact about Tragic, he loved bad puns. "My journey here is not one of sorrow Tragic, but of joy. I am getting married again, to Crissy."
Kona introduced his soon to be wife. Crissy wasn't so sure about talking to this blue wavering ghost that seemed to have an endless stream of water dripping from him. She did her best though, and managed not to scream at the feel of the cold, wet, clammy dead hand that she shook.
Kona gasped, and Crissy looked over at him worriedly. "I just had a brilliant idea!"
"What's that?" she asked him.
"We could get married here, right now, so that my friend could see us get married. He was at my first wedding as well, it is, like a circle!" Kona's eyes shone with his excitement.
Crissy wasn't quite as enthusiastic as him. "Here? Are you sure?"
Kona nodded vigorously. "It's perfect." He held her hands. "Marry me, please? On this beautiful day with my best friend as our witness."
Crissy closed her eyes for a moment, indecisive, but in the end gave in to Kona's request. She still felt bad for how she had treated him the first time they got together, maybe this would help assuage her conscience. Only for love would she get married in a foreign town in a graveyard, with only a ghost for a witness. Kona's quirkiness always had made her life more interesting.
They spent the rest of their vacation days either lounging in their sleepwear, taking walks together, or eating pizza while Kona beat the old stove into submission.
When they arrived back home, Kona stopped to pick up his kids. Kei met him at the door, tears streaming down her face.
"Daddy!" she sobbed. "I don't know how to let you go! I am glad for your happiness but my heart is breaking because I feel like I am losing you."
Kona hugged Kei tightly, and in a voice husky with his own tears, he told her, "Keiki, daughter of my heart, I will always be here with you. That is the beauty of Love, it never dies, it only transforms. Now, you take care of those grandkids of mine, and tell them to come visit their old Gramps, y'hear?"
Once her father had left, Kei cried on her husband's shoulder. "Kei." he said her name softly.
"My name is Keiki." she said tearfully.
Challenge notes---Kona is living on borrowed time. He really could die at any time, he could still live for a while since he completed the marathon challenge. I decided I couldn't bear to watch him die though, so I gave him his happy ending and moved him in with Crissy. The twins were a surprise all around! Sneaky Kona! He slipped those last 2 kids in, right after Crissy had them, the next day she aged to an elder.
When Kona ended up with the Tragic Clown moodlet (courtesy of the Portal), I knew I had to have him visit Tragic before Kona moved out. Just tying up a few loose strings!
Aloha in Hawaiian can mean hello, or goodbye, sometimes it can even mean love, it just depends on how you say it. :)
Next: Chapter 31: A Little R and R