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"Whew," Clay exhaled, taking off his jacket. "I know we drove home, but it's still friggin' cold outside."

"Yeah," Apollo responded, removing his own jacket. "Odd weather for out here, though. Hot chocolate?" Clay nodded, so Apollo walked into their kitchen and started grabbing things out of the cupboard and preparing the two mugs. "That comedian kind of sucked, didn't he?"

"He was terrible. I still don't understand the joke about the pickle." Apollo grunted in agreement. "We need to get Trucy better gigs."

Apollo placed the mugs into the microwave. "Yeah. I think that place is pretty popular though, so maybe some important people saw her? She did really well." Apollo grabbed a banana off the counter, peeled it, and began to eat it, tearing off his bites and popping them into his mouth.

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Maya's eyes snapped open. She shook her head slightly. Part of her felt as if she'd been asleep for years. The other part felt as if she'd not gotten enough sleep at all. She rolled to her side, watching the sun filter in through the blinds and onto Phoenix's resting face. There was such a sense of peace about him at this time in the morning. She smiled. Her eyes traveled along the lines on his face, the creases forming around his eyes that hadn't been there the year before, the way his lips parted ever so slightly when he breathed out. His hair was a mess, so unlike how it looked when he was on the job. There was no other man on the planet who could make her feel so comfortable, so free. 

Then the guilt set in. 

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"You want what? WHAT? Ohmygosh yes we will be right over!" Trucy squealed into the office phone, jumping up and down. "I'm so happy for you, Thena!" She slammed the phone down with a purpose and turned to Pearl. "We are going to Athena's house! Now!" For her part, Pearl, wide-eyed, nodded and moved with her toward the door.

"What in seven hells is going on?" Phoenix mumbled as he came back out of his office. Apollo and Clay were just as confused, sitting on the couch, drinking cola. "Aren't you supposed to be cleaning the toilet?" He frowned as Apollo rolled his eyes.

"Daddy! Athena has a date!" Trucy rushed to him, pulling his arm, and then met Pearl at the door again. Both were giddy with delight.

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"We're back!" Phoenix called as he opened the door, hanging his jacket on the coat rack. Trucy and Pearl sped into the room, giggling, and jumped onto the couch. The two groaned in unison as their full stomachs reacted to the quick movements, and they laughed some more.

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Notes: Apologies for the delay between chapters. Work has been incredibly hectic. Being a grown up sucks! Thank you so much to people who have posted this around and written reviews. I love getting feedback!

Today was the day of Athena's party for Simon, and she couldn't be more of a nervous wreck. Though she worked as hard as she normally does, Widget remained in his anxious yellow state for the majority of the workday. During breaks, she went over the party "to do" list, driving everyone crazy: she checked to make sure that the decorations were still there and had not been moved, she called the food deliverers to triple check that they would be there on time, and she called Miles to ensure he would do his best to help with the surprise aspect of the party.

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