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The walls were still some bland shade of blue Gaige can faintly remember Erin telling were a calming color. The curtains still matched the brown bed set. Gaige only bothered to turn on the little lamp that sat on the bedside table as the source of light.

After getting out his phone charger from the duffle and plugging it and his phone into the wall, he tossed his large duffle bag on the end of the queen size bed, and slide the luggage on the floor near the closet. The bedspread was cold when he sat down on the bed, sinking into the mattress that was probably better quality than his mattress back home. But sure wasn't better lived in.

Gaige remembered his father telling him how Erin had tried to 'teenage boy' the guest bedroom. But the only thing that didn't fit in the old woman vibe of the bedroom were the three wall decors of three different sports. Basketball. Hockey. Soccer. 

Gaige sighed, closing and rubbing his eyes with the ball of his palm. He was tired from the traveling. He was tired from the family. He was homesick and he'd only been away from home for three-ish hours. He missed Leon who'd have perfect humorise remarks to make Gaige smile. He missed Maddie, who'd scold Gaige for being so mean to his own father. He even missed his mother who put him in this whole mess in the first place. Well, it was Gaige who put himself in this mess.

When Gaige opened his eyes again, he was still in the dimly lit guest room in Michigan. His windbreaker made a little noise when he pushed himself off the bed at the call of his father for all the kids to come down for dinner. 

He opened the bedroom door at the same time Krista Peterson was closing her's behind her. At the sound of Gaige's door opening, she turned around to see, only to wrinkle her nose up at Gaige just like her mother. 

Krista was just like her mother. She liked to dye her hair orange, she wore little gold hoops in her ears, and name brand blouse on her shoulders. She didn't like how her step-brother was...dirtier than her, less motivated than her, less privileged than her. Krista and her brother Milton had only ever lived in the best areas of the world, so to see someone like Gaige who hadn't had that type of lifestyle went over their head. 

Krista scuff, flipping artificial orange hair over her shoulder and clicked down the hallway and stairs, leaving Gaige alone in his doorway. Now it was just to see Milton and then he'd been fully welcomed by the entire Carson-Peterson family. 

The hallway of bedrooms had more updated photos. Chester on the first day of kindergarten this year. Milton in the forest for his senior pictures. Krista with her violin under her chin at a concert. As Gaige walked towards the end of the hallway and to the stairs, he hadn't expected to see any photos of him. And not that he'd admit it, but his stomach twisted a little bit when he really did see none of himself. Not even old ones.

The closer Gaige got to the dining room, the louder and lively the house seemed to get. Like an actual decent family lived here. Gaige barely shuffled his feet to come into view to the family who was all setting the table and blabbering on about their day. 

Brad was already sitting at one end of the table, receiving a big bowl of bland angle noodles from Erin, who still stood over him with her apron on. Chester sat next to him, with a goofy kid smile on his face, looking too small for the table while he reached for a piece of bread from the plate of assumingly garlic bread that Krista was placing. Milton was sitting across from his little step-brother, and rambler to his step-father about something Gaige couldn't quite hear since everyone seemed to be talking in the dining room. 

"Oh, Gaige," Erin was the first one to notice Gaige standing on the outskirts of the room when she straightened from scooping noddles into a bowl for Chester. The little bow was already digging in without any sauce or anything on his noodles, "Come in. I think you'll be sitting next to Chester," Motioning to the empty seat, as Krista had sat next to her older brother with a dirty look at Gaige. 

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