rocky's first birthday 02∙01∙2017
If it wasn't for Rocky's fussy cries heard from his crib (a distraction tactic he and Ezra had planned, of course), Rose would have been on her mobile within seconds after jumping up from bed without a long and lanky body next to her. She could sense and feel his absence, but it was difficult to think about anything other than heading over to the other room where Rocco was, her eyes laced with sleep as she was met with a happy birthday boy standing up, his tiny fingers wrapped around the wooden bars. "Where do you think you're going, birthday boy," she emitted with a yawn, scooping him up while he continued to cry until they reached the bottom of the stairs and his cries disappeared right as Vincent started to make his presence known at their feet, Rocky's hands reaching down as if Rose was going to just drop him down to play -- oh no -- he woke her up for a reason and he's getting food in him before anything else, he'll learn the rules.

With a hint of resistance, she slowly set Rocco down in his highchair, his face strained and whining as he still wanted to play with Vincent, noises Rose had become immune to now that she was able to decipher when he was really upset and when he just wanted to get her attention and get his own way. She peered over at him with a smile, her lips pursed together, shushing him softly as she began to get the coffee ready for herself before starting on some quick vegemite toast for her. She had been running around since they hurried downstairs that she still assumed Ezra was at the gym or picking up some things for the party. She wasn't thinking too clearly because it was still painfully early, he wouldn't get out of bed without incentive this early, not without telling her.

After Rocco had cut up pieces of toast in front of him, some that ended up on the floor in seconds as Vincent licked at the vegemite, unsure if he even wanted it, Rose finally checked her phone that she brought downstairs with her originally, sipping coffee while she tried calling Ez. No answer. She tried again and again. Still right to voicemail. She called her mum, asking if she had heard from him, worry beginning to brew in her stomach, her heart speeding up while she kept an eye on Rocco, her mother telling her she hadn't heard from him. This was not like him, that was the troubling part about all of it. She start to send text messages, asking for him to call her, asking where he was, and the expected, "This is not a fucking joke, where are you?"

This didn't go on for long -- twenty minutes -- maybe thirty until she heard car doors opening outside, Rocky still in his highchair with Vincent spread out on the kitchen floor. She started to round the counter when she saw him walking through the door from the hallway, a good distance between them with her mouth open, ready to fire a thousand questions. He was calm, that was a good sign, and he was alive, another good sign. Without disturbing Rocky by yelling at Ezra, she twisted her lips and gritted her teeth. "Where were you," she said with a pissed off grunt. He leaned in to kiss her, handing her more coffee that she didn't even want, she wanted to know where the hell he was. All of her anger and annoyance melted like chocolate in the warm sun when he told her he had a present and she heard the voice of a woman, a familiar voice, an even more familiar face that flipped the switch inside her, turning her from upset to overjoyed and overwhelmed, her emotions streaming down her face through tears as she saw Ezra's parents pouring in from outside.

If it was just the two of them, Rose and Ezra, she would have slipped expletive after expletive, trying her hardest at the moment to keep it clean with her arms around Bobby and Robin as Rocco started to make loud, boisterous noises because the little man was stuck in his highchair away from all of the action that was happening around them. "How could you keep this from me!" She exclaimed, finally reaching Ezra after his parents went over to Rocco, the two of them in awe over how big he had gotten in the last four months. Leaning into his ear, she stepped in closer to him. "I was ready to murder you," she laughed, her lips pressing against the skin on his ear quickly before they all regrouped and began the catch-up chatter that lasted for hours, preparing for the party after Rocco showed them how he not so effortlessly can walk, falling down and picking himself back up with ease and shakiness at times.

With his parents settling in, they brought Rocco out into the castle, a wonderful surprise by all that he actually didn't cry; there was more confusion than tears at first, he found this so strange and they could tell, but he was quiet as his parents cuddled next to each other in the middle, reminiscing on their birthday boy and how it's been a year already. "I still can't believe you did that. I can't believe you pulled that off! You should know better than to ignore my calls. I almost put out a missing person report." Rocco tumbled down mid-sentence from Rose, something that had her on her heels ready to go over and grab him, but Ezra soothed her back with his hand. "See, he's okay, he's like his dad -- resilient." The two of them smirked. "I know this is a surprise for him, but I'm thrilled you brought them, they deserve to be here, I'm so happy they made the trip. He needs his entire family here." On the verge of tears again, he stopped her, kissing her smoothly while thumbing the hollow of her cheek, neither of them truly understanding the chaos of a children's party that was soon to erupt.

Post-party Rose snuck wine into the castle as Ezra's parents remained in the house after they had put Rocco down for bed. "We survived," she laughed, pushing herself over so that she was laying on her side, the bottom of the wine bottom held in her hand. "Do you think he'll remember any of it?" The simple answer was no, he won't remember all of the people who came for him, her parents, her sisters from Melbourne, their friends, her nephews, and most of all, Ezra's parents who found everything about Australia to be fascinating, something she found charming on her own. "Now if only we could have gotten Jerry on a plane too," she tipped the bottle back, an impractical way of drinking while she was on her side, some of the pinot drizzling down her chin, catching a bit with her palm. Ezra tried to reach for the bottle and she shook her head. "Mm nope, someone doesn't even like wine." Those words were a challenge to him, for sure, words that led to a small wrestling session, wasted wine, and the idea he had of maybe sleeping out there, to which she only had to say, "Honey, this isn't Montreal, do you know what has the potential to climb in here while we sleep?"