TEN YEARS LATER
"And just what, in the name of Plumbob -"
" - is that supposed to mean?!"
Gabriel and Katerina both sighed. Hardly a day went by these days where Michael and Yuri didn't yell their heads off at one another. Their two sweet and playful little boys had grown into brash, opinionated teenagers. Now, late one Wednesday evening, they were at it again.
Yuri pulled a mocking face at his elder brother, who glared back at him from his seat on the living room sofa.
"All I'm saying," he replied, "is that you couldn't get a date for the prom even if you tried!"
"Well, who says I want to go to the prom?" Michael hissed. "I have better things to do with my time!"
"Oh, sure - like sit in your room and read books all night."
"Books are still better than some stupid popularity contest!"
"All right, boys! Enough!" Gabriel yelled. "Yuri, it's Michael's choice whether or not he goes to the prom - and clearly, he sees the whole thing quite differently to how you do. Now leave him alone and let him get on with his studies."
Yuri tutted, rolled his eyes, and stormed off to his room, slamming the door behind him - the typical "moody teenager" routine. Michael picked up his book - a tome on astrophysics - and resumed reading... only to be interrupted again when Gabriel sat down beside him.
"What is wrong, Father?" he asked, concerned.
"Nothing's wrong, my son," Gabriel replied, "but... well, are you sure you don't want to go to the prom? Don't get me wrong, I'm not forcing you to go, but... it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wouldn't want you to regret not going later on."
"Father," he said. "I thank you for your concern, but I am quite sure that I do not wish to attend. Getting a place on the police academy training course is far more important to me, and to do that, I will need good grades on my final exams."
"Michael, darling," Katerina said, "we all know you could pass those exams blindfold. You needn't push yourself so hard. Are you sure that you wouldn't like to take one night off - have a little fun?"
Michael shook his head.
"No, Mother - but thank you. My mind is made up."
The two scientists smiled.
"All right, Michael," Gabriel said. "It's your choice. Now, don't stay up too late studying - you need plenty of rest before school tomorrow."
"I know that, Father - goodnight. Goodnight, Mother."
With that, Michael headed to his own room.