Darren assembled a spaceship-style jungle gym for the kids. After Daria left for work, he went upstairs to snuggle Lily. When she fell asleep, Darren stayed and worked on a special painting for her, while keeping an eye on Jack and Iris in the backyard.
He began with an adorable purple butterfly, but as soon as he started working with the different paints, his emotions unintentionally influenced the art he created. He worried about what Lily felt–was she frightened of the unknown, or feeling forsaken?
Soon the painting was finished and Darren calmly set it aside before gabbing the easel with his paint-stained hands–wrestling with it as if in hand to hand combat for a few seconds–then he put the easel proper, and quietly hung the painting on the wall.
“Beware of the spiders, Lilybug,” Darren advised his baby girl. He heard Daria come in the front door just as he left Lily’s room. He looked over the railing at her and asked about her work, then said, “I’m just going to take a quick shower.”
Darren cried in the shower, but his mourning went so deep that it was beyond his own comprehension of it. Daria stopped still when she heard a coughing sound coming from the bathroom, and she knew.
She waited, and when he emerged from the bathroom, she asked, “Has there been news… about Skylar?”
“No, nothing yet,” he replied, keeping his face hidden.
“It’s all right,” Daria said softly. “I heard you crying in the shower.”
“So what?” Darren didn’t mean to be so defensive, especially not with her.
Daria sat down and said, “It’s just that I know how helpful that can be at times. I used to cry in the shower a lot, especially after you told me we couldn’t see each other anymore.”
The look of sadness on her face was truly genuine, but Darren was shocked. “When was that, Daria?” he questioned. “I couldn’t bear to not see you!”
Daria blushed when she thought back and realized that she only cried in the shower before they became a couple. “You’re right… I’m confused.”
“Daria… do you have a memory of something that couldn’t have possibly happened, and another memory of the same time that did actually happen?”
She was sure he would leave her, but she stood up and admitted, “Yes, I do. I don’t understand.” She bit her knuckle nervously.
“Oh no…” Darren knew Daria was describing a slip memory, and the time distortion Joshua reported was not an isolated incident.
“What’s happening, Darren?”
He could hear that Daria was close to panicking, so he asked her to sit and explained, “Not many people know this, but during the war, our enemies were using a lot of time travel technology against us. Finally our allies came to our aid with technology to defend against those incursions, but we don’t know all of the side effects that were caused by those time distortions.”
“So I’m not crazy!” Daria joked with a serious sigh of relief.
“No, you’re not. You just happened to catch a glimpse of an alternate timeline, where I must’ve rushed a little bit and become scared of my love for you,” Darren admitted.
After a quiet moment, Daria offered Darren a massage. Once she had him relaxed, she politely asked him if he wanted to talk about his feelings.
“I don’t deal well with abandonment,” he replied and pulled away from her.
“You’re upset that Skylar abandoned you?” she questioned.
“Is that so hard to believe?” Darren retorted.
He immediately apologized and said, “It’s not just her. I wanted a divorce and all, but this all reminds me of Grace.”
“Who is Grace?” Daria asked as Darren stood up.
“She was my kid sister, and she abandoned me when I had no one else!” Darren said with anger and grief. He walked a few steps before breaking down in tears again. “Our whole family was dead and she should’ve stayed here…”
Daria almost cried when he turned to face her again, but she swore to him, “No matter what happens, I will never abandon you, Darren!”
That night, they held each other and talked late into the night. The following day, Darren went to see Joshua in order to report Daria’s apparent slip memory and inquire about a few other things. He felt so much better after his emotional release, despite the lack of progress in the investigation and search for Skylar.
While Joshua and Darren were chatting, Clara was outside competing in a virtual BlicBlock tournament–a gaming girl’s ultimate pregnancy fitness routine! She was already in her second trimester, and having a very difficult pregnancy this time, but she refused to let anyone take her title just because she was with child again.
She also really needed some fun after all the hard work she’d been doing at the office and at home. After successfully defending her champion title, Clara went inside and made a greasy grilled cheese sandwich, while listening to the men talk.
She expected them to be discussing the case, but instead, she heard Joshua say, “I looked into it and you are eligible for a divorce in abstentia.”
She grabbed her sandwich and walked into the front room to join that conversation. “Did I just hear you two talking about divorce in abstentia?” she double-checked.
“Yes, we were talking about that,” Joshua confirmed.
Clara looked sharply at Darren, “But we’ve been working so hard to find Skylar!”
“And I am incredibly grateful for that,” Darren told her, “I truly want the mother of my children found! I was going to ask for a divorce before she went missing, and my desires on that remain unchanged.” The look he was getting made him turn to Joshua to say, “Help me out here!”
“It’s true, Clara. I should have told you the whole situation, but of course, the important thing is finding Skylar,” Joshua stated.
“What?” Clara was still having trouble accepting the idea. “Is that normal around here? I’d hate to think of you doing that to me.”
“No, it’s not normal,” Joshua began, and he saw Darren almost laugh finally. “We don’t judge people for making mistakes though,” Joshua continued, and then all three of them cracked up laughing.