Will thought he’d have years before having to deal with trouble at school. Imagine his surprise when he picked up the phone at work, only to be told that there’s a situation and he needed to come pick Violet up from school.

Will was going to have a very stern conversation with Artemis when she returned home today.

He had thought he’d have years before having to deal with trouble at school. With Lian’s parentage, trouble at school was to be expected. Imagine his surprise when he picked up the phone at work, only to hear Lucas Carr on the other line, saying that there had been an ‘incident’ and he should come pick Violet up. Violet’s presence in his house had been both a blessing and a headache mixed up in one; Lian loved Violet and he knew he was doing good by housing her, but providing for another person in an already-cramped home proved difficult on his stress levels.

Will did his best not to sulk as he left work early and started up his new SUV. He could only imagine the type of incident Violet had gotten into, what with her wide array of powers. When he’d offered up that Violet could take the Harper name, he hadn’t meant to be listed as her guardian. If anything, Artemis should have listed herself. He could imagine it now, her slick little smirk as she typed out his name on the school enrollment forms without his approval. It was a wonder he hadn’t noticed it as she did it. What had he been doing that night?

His stomach lurched and he felt the annoyingly familiar pull of sadness tug at his core. Right, he’d spoken to Jade that night. Now it made more sense.

Trying to pick up his spirits again, Will shifted his mind into coming up with the best way to get back at his sister-in-law. He could conveniently forget to purchase the shampoo she’d put on the grocery list this week. No, that wouldn’t work. Being a clone, he was rarely, if ever, forgetful. Leaving off her shampoo would ignite Artemis into conveniently forgetting Lian wasn’t supposed to have sugar before bed. Yeah, that definitely wouldn’t work out in his favor.

Will needed something quick and painless that wouldn’t lead her to retaliate. Then it hit him; he’d make zucchini lasagna for dinner tonight. Artemis loathed zucchini, but it was one of the few green things Lian would eat. So really, it was a win-win situation. The thought of his sister-in-law’s sour face perked him up significantly as he drove to the nearest zeta tube.

“Took you long enough,” Lucas greeted as he met Will at the front entrance of the high school.

“Sorry, I had to leave work.” Will tried not to let his annoyance seep into his voice. Judging by Carr’s unimpressed look, he’d failed. “You do know I’m not actually her guardian, right? Was M’gann not able to take her home?”

“She’s not in today.” The brunette waved goodbye as one of his faculty members left the building. “I didn’t have anyone else to call, and you’re the one listed on the forms.”

Will sighed and ran a hand down his face. “Right. Of course.”

“Try to be a little more sympathetic. She’s still shaken.”

“Shaken?” Will raised a brow. “Did she lose control of her powers or something? I thought she was getting better at it.”

Lucas paused outside his office, visibly exhaling before turning back to face Will. “Right. I didn’t mention it on the phone,” he said, leaning against the wall. “Being a principal is exhausting.”

Will narrowed his eyes. “Lucas, what happened?”

“Sorry, it’s been a long day. I don’t know how to put this, Will,” Lucas began. “She got attacked in the hallway in between classes. A boy decided to snatch off her hijab.”

Any annoyance Will had felt at coming to pick up Violet immediately dissipated once Lucas spoke. Rage came first, bubbling in his core as his jaw clenched. “Tell me you’ve expelled him.”

“Suspended. It was his first offense, my hands were tied.”

“That’s bullshit,” Will snapped. “He attacked her. Pulling off her hijab is considered a hate crime, does that not count for anything?”

“It does, which is why he’s been suspended for three weeks. He’ll also have to write a ten thousand word paper about Islam and why what he did was wrong.” Lucas paused, grinning to himself. “I came up with that part.”

If looks could injure, the glare Will gave Lucas would have sent him withering on the floor. “Congratulations.”

Lucas waved him off. “Look, he’s been taken care of. I think she’s going to be fine, she’s just visibly distressed. He tore her scarf-”


“Right, hijab. He tore it and she said she wanted to go home. So I called you.”

Will glanced into the office through the window. Violet’s back was to them, her shoulders slumped in defeat. His anger slowly receded, and he nodded. “I’ll take her home.”

“I’ll give you both some space.”

The former archer nodded and rested his hand on the doorknob, taking a second to compose himself before he turned it and stepped inside. Violet jumped at the sound and turned towards it, but relaxed when she saw Will, her brow furrowing in confusion as she averted her gaze.
“Surprised?” Will asked, closing the door behind him.

“I was expecting Artemis,” Violet admitted, tucking some of her dark waves behind her ear.

“Yeah, Artemis would probably be more helpful right now,” Will agreed, trying to keep from looking at her hair. From what he’d gathered from internet research and living with Violet thus far, he shouldn’t be looking at her when her hair was uncovered. She didn’t offer a response, and through his peripheral vision he saw her exhale and wipe her eyes.

It occurred to him that for once, he didn’t know what to do. Will was good at comforting Lian, she was easy. He’d even learned how to comfort Artemis. Physical touch and words of reassurance worked wonders on them both. But Will couldn’t touch Violet, and he wasn’t sure what he could say to her to make this better. The girl before him seemed so lost, so out of her element, and as her technical guardian he should be able to help her.

“I’ll be right back,” he excused, leaving the room.

No sooner was he out of the office did he find Lucas and pull him aside. “You got a school store here?”

Confusion splayed across the older man’s face. “Uh… yeah. Why?”

“She can’t walk outside without something covering her hair. I’m gonna buy her a hoodie or something.”

“No need, I’ll get one for you. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that,” Lucas muttered as he walked away.

Ten minutes later, Will presented the ‘Happy Harbor High’ hoodie to Violet. “You can wear this until we get home, okay?”

Violet took the hoodie in her hands, her wide brown eyes growing bigger. “I wear this?” she asked, unfolding the sweatshirt.

“Yeah. It has a hood so you can cover your hair,” he explained. “I’ll go outside, just come out when you’re ready to go.”

Violet didn’t say a word the entire way back. Not on the walk to the zeta, not on the drive back home, not even once they’d stepped through the front door. As soon as they were inside, she retreated with Brucely to the backyard and sat idly on the tire swing, lost in her own little world. Will was no expert on women, but given that at one point he’d lived with three females, he thought it best to give her a little bit of space.

It was rare that he was home so early on a weekday, so Will took the opportunity to straighten up around the house. He’d been meaning to reorganize Lian’s room, get rid of some of the clothes she’d grown out of. Iris might appreciate it if he gifted her Lian’s hand me downs. In truth he’d gotten some of the clothes from Lynn, so it felt good to pass on the favor. Really, he didn’t know what he would do without all the support from the parenting group.

“Will?” He looked up from where he’d put the last tiny dress in a box. Violet stood in the doorway, rubbing her arm.

“Hey Violet,” he said quietly, straightening up. “How are you feeling?”

“Not better,” she replied. “Can I help you?”

Will closed up the box and picked it up before he stood. “No, I’m good here, wasn’t much to give away. But I was about to start on dinner, you could help with that,” he offered.

The look of relief on Violet’s face was enough to convince him that he’d finally said the right thing.

He put her to work peeling the zucchini for the lasagna while he made the sauce. Will savored the rare chance to cook dinner for his family, given what little time he had. Usually they ordered takeout, or Artemis whipped up something quick if she had the time. It was unfortunate because he loved to cook, and Lian usually ate more when he did.

“What are we making?” Violet asked.

Will wiped his hands on his trousers before going to stir the tomato sauce on the stove. “Lasagna. Well… sort of lasagna.”

“Lasagna,” she repeated. “It smells good.”

“Good. Lian loves lasagna, you know,” he noted with a small grin. “It’s hilarious, because she can’t even say it. She’s a smart kid, but there’s a few words she just refuses to get. So instead she calls it ‘pasta cake’.”

Violet smiled, continuing to peel the zucchini into thin strips. “She is a good sister.”


“Oh, I…” she trailed off, flushing pink. “I told her I was Violet Harper now. She said that now we were sisters.” Will smiled, shaking his head. That was Lian alright. “I am sorry, I should have asked.”

“No, it’s fine. Really.”

“I am also sorry for today.” Violet placed the last strip of zucchini in a bowl, crossing her arms in front of her stomach. “I am sorry for being in your home. For being so much trouble.”

“I am trouble. Always trouble,” she muttered, huffing out a deep sigh.

Will set the burner to low, leaning back against the counter and trying to figure out the right thing to say. In a way, she was right. Not that he’d ever say it out loud. Or, well, to her face. He’d like to think that he’d become a slightly more decent person over the years. “You’re not trouble,” he finally said. Even if it wasn’t completely truthful, he knew it was the right thing to say.

Violet’s forehead crinkled. “Not trouble?”

“No. You’re family.” That much was true. She was a Harper now, and just like the rest of the Harpers, they needed to stick together and support each other despite the bad.

“So I have two families now,” she said, finally smiling. “Can I tell Lian? And Artemis?”

“Uh, yeah. Go for it,” he said with a snort. For a brief second, Will wondered what Jade would have thought of this odd girl. Probably wouldn’t have taken to her too kindly. But Jade wasn’t here anymore.

They worked in silence for a little while, assembling together the lasagna. The more time he spent with Violet, the more she grew on him. She wasn’t so bad, really. Just quirky. It was kind of sweet how excited she got at the prospect of finishing the lasagna, almost as excited as Lian got. He was starting to see why Artemis cared for her so much.

Once the lasagna was in the oven, he poured himself a glass of water and handed one to Violet. “You know, you can talk to me. About today, or anything really.”

Violet softened stretching out her fingers. “I do not know… what I did wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“The boy. I was just walking with Forager, I mean, Fred Bugg, and then he just started to yell, and nothing made sense,” Violet said quickly. “People used to talk to Gabrielle like that.”


“Yes. I am not Gabrielle anymore, Gabrielle was not liked. Not like Violet.”

Will was trying to connect the dots in his head. Artemis had told him some about Violet’s situation, but clearly not everything. “I’m sorry,” he admitted. “People can be cruel.”

“But why? I did not do anything to him. He would not even let me speak, and then he…” Violet lowered her eyes, touching her hijab. “Is it bad?”
“No.” Will didn’t even have to think about it. “That boy is an idiot. You didn’t do anything wrong, Violet. That much I can promise you.”

“Are you sure.”

“Couldn’t be more sure. The lasagna’s going to take a while, why don’t you take Brucely for a walk and pick up some ice cream from the store a couple blocks away? You remember where it is, right?”

“Yes, the ice cream store,” Violet agreed with a nod. “Artemis has taken me there many times. Can I get chocolate?”

“Yeah,” Will said, pulling out his wallet and handing her a few bills. “And get strawberry for Lian.”

“Pasta cake, pasta cake!” Lian cheered, bouncing up and down in her booster seat as Will cut up the lasagna.

“That’s right, Baby Girl. Violet helped make it.”

Lian’s eyes went wide as she stared at the Quraci woman. “Vi help?”

“Yes, it was very fun,” Violet said, smiling at Lian.

Artemis nodded in approval, finishing to set the table before sitting down. “Look at you, Will. Finally teaching Violet a thing or two in the kitchen.”

“Better me than you. All you could teach her is how to make dry chicken.”

The blonde narrowed her eyes, shooting him a dangerous look. “I’ll remember that next time you need someone to pick Lian up early from daycare.”

“I’m sure,” Will said, smirking to himself as he set Lian’s plate in front of her. She cheered and he kissed her head, hoping she’d settle down enough to eat.

Once they were all seated, Artemis tore off a piece of garlic bread and waved it at Violet. “So how was school today?”

Will and Violet exchanged a look. “School was good. Fred Bugg and I learned about something called a mitochondria.”

“It’s the powerhouse of the cell, you know,” Will pointed out.

“Please, for the love of God, stop talking,” Artemis groaned. “How’s the pasta cake, Li?”

“Nummy,” the toddler agreed, scooping up another mouthful.

“Speaking of school, did you know that I was listed as Violet’s guardian?”

Artemis looked away, instead cutting herself a piece of the lasagna. Violet had covered the zucchini with enough cheese and sauce that Artemis hadn’t yet noticed anything off about it. “Interesting.”


“Yes, we are family now,” Violet said, grinning at Lian who had tomato sauce smeared all over her face. Artemis glanced at Will, who just grinned and raised his glass to her. She hummed in response before taking a bite of the lasagna, stopping mid-chew.

“Something wrong?” Will asked, trying not to smirk. Lian immediately lifted her head, stopping to eat and staring at her aunt. She’d gotten into the habit of refusing to eat anything that her aunt didn’t like.

“Not nummy?” she asked worriedly.

Artemis shot a glare at her brother in law before swallowing and looking to Lian. “Very nummy. Daddy sure knows how to cook.”

“You better believe he does. Make sure you set a good example and finish your plate, otherwise you won’t get any dessert.”

“You’re such a di-”

Will shushed her, lifting his hand. “Ah, ah. Language. We have children at the table.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

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