Gray lay asleep like a log on his messy and creaky bed. His sheets were slightly wrinkled due to him constantly shifting around while trying to sleep. Even though his body felt extremely sore thanks to the intense beating he received a short while ago, but despite this, he couldn help but feel satisfied deep inside.
He had gotten home really late after completing the dungeon Salvador had hired him to complete. He was sore, tired, and most of all... he was hungry as hell.
He snored like a pig as he hugged his pillow tightly and his limbs were stretched across the entirety of his bed, his stomach growling as he slept
As he shifted around in his sleep the broken and old blinds let some rays of sunlight shine into his face, making him squint as he instinctively opened his eyes and tried to get a better look at what was happening outside, shifting around on his poorly built bed.
But even after sitting up, he could barely make out anything from where he was. Just as the sun rays got brighter, completely illuminating his barely awake figure he suddenly realized that a familiar smell had entered his nostrils.
His sense of smell became more sensitive as he sniffed the air.
It smells like someones baking...?
He thought while rubbing his eyes as the scent lingered around him. And when the aroma grew stronger, he heard a pair of soft footsteps approach his door.
"Shh shh! Hes still asleep! Don ruin the surprise."
"I can wait anymore! Open the door already!"
"Don rush me!"
A childish voice cried out to complain to the other voice.
Gray grinned to himself as the voices argued a bit more. He kept his eyes closed still, throwing himself onto the bed again, acting like he was still fast asleep until they eventually went quiet. After about ten or so seconds, his door slowly creaked open and two pairs of feet quietly walked into his room.
Grinning widely, he swiftly opened his eyes to peak at the short pair that entered his room hurriedly. The teen resisted the urge to let out a soft chuckle as the two seemed to continue to argue about something.
The small girl, whose soft brown hair was tied up in a short ponytail, had her hands behind her back as she excitedly trodded ahead of the other child, a boy that looked to be the same age who had lengthy brown hair that reached his shoulders.
They threw backhanded comments at each other while trying to be stealthy.
The child duo quickly approached his bed, standing next to it with the little boy chortling as he gripped the soft edge of the worn-down mattress with both hands. Suddenly, they hoped to jump up as a sudden movement made Gray groan slightly.
"Don move around so roughly! Youll wake him up!"
"Says you! You
e the one yelling!"
"So are you!"
e the one who started first! If you want to stop arguing then lets go ahead and wake him up!"
The boys childish voice suddenly became stern as he spoke out angrily to the small girl beside him. The small girl pouted with her cheeks puffing out, not expecting to receive such a harsh rebuke. She huffed quietly as she looked away from the boy.
Gray still laid fake asleep, trying his best to pretend like he hadn woken up at all. However, after hearing what was said, he suddenly raised his head off his pillow.
Barely opening his eyes, he lazily glanced over at the two people sitting on his bed as they continued glaring at each other. The boy glared furiously at the girl as she stubbornly pouted her lips in protest, before grumbling to herself.
"Ok, ok! Lets just wake him up. Can we please wake him up without any fuss?"
She finally conceded as she grabbed the boys wrist and pushed him to Grays left side while she sat on the other side of Gray with her legs crossed and her arms folded. The boy sat down at Grays right side while staring at Gray with an expectant gaze.
"Alright... On three"
"Wanna count down?"
"No, you count down..."
"I don wanna count down!"
The childish bickering between the two persisted until a few moments later.
Gray did his best to hold in a snort, pursing his lips lightly as he listened intently, waiting for what would happen next. He could hear the rustling of sheets behind him as he sensed their tiny weight getting heavier upon the mattress.
"Ok, whatever! Lets just do it!"
The boy said as he raised his hand as if he was going to start counting down.
The moment the boy counted down, Gray immediately shot upright from his position and sprung up as fast as he could to grab both the boy and the girl under his arms, lifting them both up high into the air as he lifted them above his head.
As if he had caught some wild animals.
He exclaimed through his wide grin as he flung the two kids onto his shoulders sitting up straight on the bed.
"Oh no! Retreat! Retreat!!"
"It appears to me that I have caught two little gremlins"
The two kids cried out offended as they squirmed on Grays shoulders. The older teen smirked at their reactions and let out a light laugh before letting them down.
Gray then stood up and placed the two children on his knees, who were still flustered by his actions. He chuckled softly as he shook his head, before patting both their heads affectionately. The two immediately smiled brightly back at him as they leaned against his hand happily.
"Cosmo... Jupiter... what
e you doing in my room? Shouldn you two be getting ready for school and breakfast?"
Gray asked curiously. The younger siblings immediately stopped smiling and nodded shyly as they gazed down at the floor embarrassed.
"Um... Sis said we should wake you up..."
Cosmo answered bashfully. Jupiter scratched the back of her head awkwardly and glanced at the side awkwardly too as she rubbed her thumb together and avoided looking at Gray. The older sibling simply rocked them gently as he ruffled their hair playfully.
"You mean to wake me up for a Surprise right?"
Gray remarked amusedly. The two kids perked up as their ears perked up with regret and embarrassment, before nodding timidly.
Gray chuckled to himself as he pulled them close and gave them a tight hug. The two kids giggled happily and hugged Gray as well. The younger sister began hugging his chest while Cosmo hugged his shoulder as they rested their chin upon it happily.
"I told you we shouldve kept quiet Cosmo!"
e the one who just decided to barge in, Jupiter!"
Gray continued to watch the two twins bicker as they sat together on his lap like they always had done while holding hands tightly. After watching them for a bit, Gray let out an internal sigh as he let out a gentle smile.
Just another day in this adorable, repetitive life...
He wouldn change it for the world. Gray would not alter any aspect of his domestic life. It had never been a problem since he was always surrounded by family.
No matter how chaotic and stressful things get, Gray had always had a calm and stable relationship with his sisters, brother, and aunt, as well as a good friend throughout the years.
Perhaps his life as a Brawler wasn as glamorous as say, an A-Rank or S-Rank. But that torturous side of his life would always wash and fade away whenever he saw his family and friends again.
Even though most of his experiences were spent in that dangerous underground arena, fighting against the Orc Lord, he had never felt happier than when he was at home with his family.
And it wasn as if he regretted choosing to take part in Dungeon raids or impossible matches.
In fact, he found himself actually loving every minute of those battles, and only the battles. It had become part of his everyday routine ever since he first budded as a Brawler.
His life as a Brawler was nothing but thrilling and fulfilling. And even though there were times when he couldn help but wonder if everything was really worth his time and energy, considering he had never won a
Gray never considered any of his fights in the F-Ranked Dungeons to be anything more than simple skirmishes.
For those rare occasions where he got lucky enough to encounter a stronger opponent outside of Massimos arena, he would usually end up losing with his wounds being treated by a certain old geezer. At a price of course...
Even then, Gray could still also easily deal with weaker opponents by using his one singular skill...
But he always decided against it.
Because in his eyes, Id be "Unfair"...
"Big bro Gray?"
His thoughts were knocked out of his mind once the two children called his name. Gray snapped his attention towards the two as he realized that they had both stared at him with curious looks. He sighed tiredly as he leaned his forehead against the top of both the childrens heads.
"Alright, alright. Come here, come here."
Gray said as he placed his two siblings on the floor beside the bed as he turned towards them, leaning forward in his bed with his elbows resting on his bent knees as he stared into their innocent eyes.
"How about... I pretend to not know about the surprise. And let you two play out your original plan for it?"
They both immediately brightened up at Grays offer as they immediately agreed in unison with a nod of their heads.
Once they had agreed, Gray slowly stood up from his bed, causing them to giggle with excitement.
As they were satisfied with their victory, Gray picked them up once again as they wrapped themselves around his neck lovingly
"Ok then... what should I do little sibs?"
"You should cover your eyes and let us guide you!"
"Uh... I can exactly cover my eyes when my arms and hands are busy carrying you two..."
"Well do it! Just trust us!"
"Yeah! We can do it! Don worry big bro Gray!"
Gray simply smiled at his younger twin siblings, nodding as he followed their instruction to keep his eyes closed.
He felt their small hands gripping onto his face as they guided him along, making sure his body didn collide with anything. He soon heard the two giggle excitedly.
"Thats it! Keep walking Big bro Gray!"
"Ive been blinded! Oh no!"
Gray dramatically yelled out.
They chanted as they continued moving his head to direct where he should walk.
His legs wobbled and staggered slightly, stumbling every now and then, causing the two kids to laugh and clung tightly onto his shoulders, trying to keep him steady. After a few minutes of moving like that for some time, Gray suddenly stopped in his tracks.
He eventually managed to get around his bed and a few furniture pieces as he finally reached his open door.
"Am I at the door?"
The linded Gray asked with a stifled chuckle as he kept a tight hold on his little brother and sister.
"Its open so just go straight ahead! Hurry Big bro Gray!"
The seven-year-old Jupiter instructed. Gray slowly walked forward and bent his head down so he wouldn hit the low door frame.
The sound of the old floor creaked, alerting someone of Grays presence. As he drew closer to the living room, Gray could faintly hear the distant murmur of voices and laughter.
Gray heard a sudden gasp of a woman as he assumed he reached the doorway of the kitchen. The older teen tilted his head curiously as he listened carefully to the voice. As Gray approached the threshold of the door, he froze and held his breath.
e you doing?"
The soft female voice asked as Gray did his best to remember where each wall was located and the sounds of voices.
Gray laughed once more as Cosmo shifted in his arms, he assumed his little brother was waving his hand dismissively to his sister.
Not waiting for another second, the older female voice spoke again with an air of amusement, clearly amused by whatever it was that they were doing.
"Anyway... You two ready?"
"Yeah! Lets do this!"
"Alright then! Here we go!"
Gray stood still and confused by the conversation as he felt Cosmos and Jupiters hands slowly slide off of his face. The older females voice started off.
Then came Cosmos excitable and childlike voice.
After which came Jupiters calm and mellow voice.
Then silence fell over them as Gray waited eagerly to figure out what exactly was going on. Suddenly, both their hands fully slipped off his face as he felt Cosmo and Jupiter hop out of his arms and to the ground in front of him.
He instantly opened his eyes and blinked rapidly, a small stinging pain befell his eyes as the sudden burst of light startled his eyes. He squinted his eyes as his vision became clearer and he focused his sight, his pupils expanded in astonishment at what he saw.
He blinked a couple of times before taking deep breaths. And as he did so, the three voices of his loving siblings rang into the small dining room.
A chorus of cheers erupted from his siblings as they simultaneously aimed their arms and hands towards the center of the dining room, revealing a small cupcake in the center of a table covered with a singular candle and a single cake plate.
Their faces lit up as their smiles seemed to spread across their entire faces as they looked towards Gray expectantly. He stared at them blankly for a while before a confused but happy chuckle escaped from his lips.
He chuckled and looked down at their smiling faces before he slowly took steps forward towards the table, approaching them cautiously. A large grin crossed his lips when his hand met with the table.
"Is it... really that day already? I kinda forgot about it... hehe..."
As soon as those words escaped his lips, his older and younger siblings felt their entire bodies slump forward, landing flat on their faces.
"Seriously!? How does a guy forget their own birthday!?"
The older girl walked forward and pinched Grays cheek, causing him to yelp from the painful sting on his cheek. She then proceeded to give him a small smack on his back, leaving Gray to stagger forward.
"Ow ow ow ow! Shtop it!"
"No! I mean, honestly! Whyd I have to get stuck with such a forgetful brother?!"
The girl kept pinching and pulling on Grays cheek with a huff and a pout.
But even as she pulled on Grays cheeks and shook her head with slight disdain, Gray couldn keep his lips from turning into a wide grin as he tried to resist his younger siblings and laugh as much as possible.
"B-big sis Luna! S-stop! You
e gonna pull off big bros face!"
Called out a panicked but laughing voice of Jupiter as she looked at the irritated look on her big sisters face. Luna just glared back at her little brother before letting go of his cheek and stomping away.
"Hehehe... Ow... You sure you
e not a Brawler, Luna? You pinch really hard!"
Gray teased the ashy black-haired girl, causing her to roll her eyes. Her eyes softened as she gave a small smile towards him before she turned her head to her side and faced away from him.
"Cmon... sit down and eat your cake, even if its your birthday you still have to go to school. You sit down and eat, Ill be right back, ok?"
Said Jupiter as he patted his brothers shoulder in encouragement before she left the kitchen. Gray nodded as he sat himself down, his smile never fading.
As soon as he did so, he could feel his stomach grumbling. Noticing this, his sister and brother smiled as they walked over to the small kitchen counter.
They brought out two plates which they set on opposite sides. Before sitting down on the chairs next to their elder brother, they handed him a fork and knife to eat from. While he ate, he was watching the twins.
"Hmm! This cupcake is really good!"
Granted this was his first time eating a Cupcake, or a cake for that matter, but he could definitely say its taste was extremely good. Especially since his little siblings were definitely helping him enjoy it even more.
"You two want a taste?"
Gray questioned, causing his siblings to blush in excitement before nodding vigorously at him. They watched as their older brother began to equally take two pieces each and offered them to his sisters who immediately grabbed one each.
They hummed happily, enjoying their shared treat with their brother. The three siblings began to eat the delicious and colorful cupcake pieces, his lips turning upwards into a huge smile every time he bit into it.
"Mmmmm!!! It tastes great!! Thanks, Big Bro Gray!!!"
Cosmo said between bites of his food and a mouth full of the chocolate cupcake.
"Hey thank Luna for it... Shes to one that made it. Im just the forgetful birthday boy who gets to eat the cake"
Gray joked through a mouth full of his own.
"Man... 18 already... I wonder..."
Gray commented, causing his face to turn serious, but in a blink of an eye, it returned into its previous smiley mood. He let out a hearty laugh as he continued to eat and continue joking around with his siblings.
"Hey hey hey! Gray!"
Jupiter suddenly called out to his brother as she banged her small palms against the wooden chair she was seated at.
"I have a gift for you!"
She exclaimed as she hopped off her chair, the comment alone made Gray grin at her and Cosmos face drop into a shocked frown.
"Oh yeah? Well, what is it?"
Oh no! Please don tell me its...
Cosmo begged quietly, silently praying that his big brother would not pry further. He closed his eyes tightly and held his breath.
"I made cookies for you!"
Gray tilted his head in confusion, but he smiled nonetheless. But then a quick reminder shot through his mind as he looked over at Jupiter who smiled excitedly at him.
Memories of previous moments when Jupiter offered her cooking to him flooded into his mind, making his face twist into a mix of horror and disbelief. He swallowed hard with his spit harshly going down his throat.
Oh god... I can ... not again... please not now... please not after everything.
Gray deaded her words as he saw Jupiter walk off to the oven to take out a tray filled with freshly baked cookies.
He breathed deeply and closed his eyes, trying his very hardest to focus solely on calming himself down and not think of the fact that hed have to eat them no matter what, but hell still try to refuse the nice sentiment.
The thing is, Jupiters cooking... well... Itd be a surprise if she wasn a powerful Brawler with some type of poison or damage over time magic...
She was quite the cooking enthusiast for her age.
"Jupiter... You didn need to."
"I know I didn ! But I really wanted to do it! I promise Ive been working really hard on them too."
Jupiter argued with the same pleading smile she always wore when she wanted something from him. They glimmered brightly as she placed the tray on the table in front of him.
She pleaded sweetly as she moved closer to Gray and wrapped her small arms around his body. He froze for a moment before he sighed heavily, knowing there was no use in protesting any longer. His shoulders dropped as he gave Jupiter a sigh.
Before saying anything, Gray looked at his younger brother who seemed to sense that his big brother had finally given in to her pleas for once. A fake grin instantly appeared on his little brothers face.
Good luck brother...
Cosmo communicated his message with his facial expression as he smiled mischievously.
Coward! Don leave me to do this challenge alone!!
Gray sighed in annoyance as he ran his hand across the top of his messy hair. He glanced back at his siblings who stood beside him.
"Alright alright... here I come."
After hearing him say this, Jupiters eyes widened as she grinned widely. She quickly hugged him from both sides of the waist before leaning backwards, grinning triumphantly as she looked up to meet his gaze.
He gulped again, feeling nervousness well within him. He wasn sure how long hell last without being able to control the urge to throw up.
He glanced sideways at his siblings, who were waiting eagerly for him. Well, one was, the other was simply glad he didn have to risk getting food poisoning.
As he turned his gaze back to his sister, he noticed the look of pure joy on her face. His heart skipped a beat. He hated it when she looked like that. Whenever she smiled like that, it meant trouble was going to come his way.
Puppy dog eyes will not work on me...!
Gray said as he reached out his hand for the tray filled with seemingly normal cookies, not before he forced a smile onto his face.
Luna had returned to the dining room with a small wrapped box in her hands, holding it close to her chest. She walked around the hallway corner to look straight at the table where her three siblings sat.
"Hang in there bro..."
"I swear I didn put that much cinnamon in..."
"I don think the cinnamon was the issue, Jupiter..."
Gray sat with his face firmly planted on the table, his face scrunched up in pain as his mouth hung open in an O. Cosmo was currently giggling loudly while Jupiter had to bite the corner of her lip due to suppressing laughter, but was also currently worrying about how she could make better cookies next time.
Luna suddenly let out as her three younger siblings looked at her, Cosmo and Jupiter looking rather normal and Gray looking as if he was a zombie-type monster.
However, he still tried his best to push his upper body up with his shaky arm. Once he managed to steady himself, he slowly looked at the small wrapped box in her hands. With a confused expression on his face, he narrowed his blue orbs slightly as he spoke.
"Whats with that?"
A small smile formed on Lunas lips.
"Its... your gift!"
"Huh...? My... gift?"
Gray asked in confusion, a sudden rush of emotions beginning to flood into his body. He blinked twice before shaking his head and smiling sheepishly.
"Ah, sorry about that. What did you say? Did you say a gift for me?"
Luna placed the box down as she raised her eyebrows with her cheeks puffing up.
"Well... of course! It is your birthday after all! What kind of family would we be if we didn get you a present? Honestly Gray..."
Luna stated with a slight smile before reaching toward the box.
She pulled away the lid of the small carton box to reveal the beautiful white and light blue color that resembled the sky during a sunset. Soft leather-looking material was carefully folded within the box, with a thin strip of silver color lining decorating the edges.
"Sis this is..."
Out of the box Luna had pulled out a pair of fingerless gloves that appeared to be made of rather cheap material but seemed tailored specifically for heavy use. There were four different patterns etched into each piece.
Other than that the gloves had one symbol of an eye printed on the center of the palm, while the other had on its sides three circles connected by thin lines, creating the design of a star.
Upon lifting the gloves, Luna brought them over to Gary, placing them in front of him on the table.
"Brawler Equipment? But..."
"Yup! I saved up for the last month and a half. Taking extra shifts at work so I could pay for these. Just make sure you wear them properly okay? Don ruin them so quickly!"
Grays hand felt the small weight shift as he grabbed the gloves. The glove was made of soft material but felt more durable than regular fabric gloves.
"Put them on bro!"
"Yeah! We want to see how cool you look with them!"
Both Cosmo and Jupiter said respectively as Luna nodded with a smile on her face. Gray immediately slipped both gloves on.
Both of them were completely different from the usual fingerless gloves hed use in Massimos arena or the ones hed end up renting.
"Comfy... And lighter than Id expected, for gloves meant to fight unimaginable monster..."
Gray examines as he moved his fingers experimentally as he pulled his arm back, letting his siblings move back a few steps.
The middle child of the family let out a short cry while launching his left forearm forward with his right fist raised up high above his head. This action causes the two children who are standing near their brother to squeal with excitement.
"Nice... Its a nice fit and feel"
He smiled as he brought his fist back, closing and opening his hand as he did so. The happy birthday boy examined each detail of the gloves before looking back at Luna.
He mumbled softly. Lunas eyes twinkled with happiness and delight. She squeaked happily as she hugged him tightly. Gray chuckled warmly as he patted her head with a smile.
She responded with a wide grin as the two siblings embraced with happy faces.