The house was silent and dark, despite the raging thunderstorm outside. It had started suddenly that afternoon after the children had returned from school. They came into their grandfather's house, drenched from head to toe—Davy even had mud up to his knees to boot. The man had been forced to have them remove all of their clothes and hang their textbooks to dry while they took a quick bath. With nothing as extra clothes, he dug into the closet in the three-person bedroom upstairs—there, he found old sweaters that had belonged to their fathers when they had been their age.
Hardly an hour later, his sons came over, announcing that the rain was falling so heavily it was impossible to see. They asked if they could spend the night over instead of taking the children back to their house a few blocks away. He had not anticipated this, nor was he ready to accommodate six chipmunks; but they were family, and while he cringed at the idea of noise in the house, he concurred and made the couch bed and room upstairs ready.
The children sat and watched television for most of the night. They were like three fireflies, taking refuge from the storm beneath a tree, only blinking or making movement when lightening would crack. By seven o'clock, the power had gone out, casting the entire house into darkness. There were moans and upset shouts from the twins and AJ, but anything negative was quickly drowned out when their grandfather took his place at the piano and began to play. Within moments, the six rodents had flocked over, mostly one by one, sat on the floor together and sang along with the piano. Harmonious notes rang through the house as bells do in the church on Sunday morning, and not even the thunder could overpower them.
Nine o'clock brought curfew, and the children were tucked in on the couch bed in the den. He left the final goodnights to his sons and went up to his bedroom, hoping to read for a while before calling it a night.
He only assumed his boys went to bed in the three-person bedroom down the hall, because the house fell silent shortly after he had retreated to his quarters.
Silence, save the thunder and rain outdoors.
After a good hour or two of reading, he set his book down and closed his eyes, listening to the few sounds that could be heard in the house. Pit-pat. Pit-pat. The rain on the windows. Chink-chink! The stray branch from a nearby tree scraping the glass—he had to remind himself to get it cut one of these days. Tic-Toc. Tic-Toc. The old grandfather clock down the hallway. Just listening to it brought back the memories of younger days, how his boys had always stopped by the clock on the way to bed, just to watch its arm swing back and forth within its belly.
But there was one sound that did not fit this quiet time of night; more or less, three voices, speaking in a hushed manner down the hallway.
He frowned in confusion and rose from his bed. Slipping his feet into his fuzzy slippers and pulling a bathrobe around his waist, he walked to the door and slipped into the hallway. Hoping not to disturb anyone resting in the house, he made his way to the room down the hall. A dim light was pouring out from it, a little yellower than the bright flashes of lightning, suggesting that the door was opened and the light of a lamp was emanating from the room. After hearing a soft chuckle, he reluctantly placed his hand against the plank of wood and pushed it ever so slightly until his head fit through.
The room was just as he remembered it to be when his boys had been living there; covered in posters, books on shelves, music sheets scattered over the work desk, and clothes all over the floor—the boys had probably tossed them there while changing into more comfortable outfits for the night. A pair of large blue sneakers sat at the foot of the bed nearest the window; a pair of brown zippered boots sat by the one in the middle; and a pair of black dress shoes sat by the last.
But the one thing that made it obvious that someone was awake in that room was the large heap of covers over the middle bed. Four chairs had been carried over to the spaces between the beds and helped hold up checkered bed sheets—one green, one blue and one red. A pole of some sort held it up from beneath the bed in the middle, yet was hidden from view by the covers. Books and toys were piled up wherever the sheets touched, holding them down. A flashlight was the source of light from beneath the covers, and it was strong enough to cast silhouettes of the three adult chipmunks sitting together on the middle bed.
The man raised his eyebrows and smiled before listening to the conversation his boys were currently having.
"That wasn't even frightening," Simon whispered.
"I didn't even quiver," Theodore added with a light laugh.
The third chipmunk waved an arm in the air. "I'm not sharing my scariest stories because you two will flip and scream until Dave runs over," he said. "Just like he used to when we were kids."
"Remember that time we built a fort like this while he had his girlfriend over?" Theodore asked. "Man, was he mad when he found out we weren't sleeping."
"The worst part was that he forced me to take it down," Alvin added. "By myself."
"You were the one who built it," Simon pointed out.
"Yeah, well you helped."
Simon chuckled and his silhouette leaned forward. "Remember that time Dave was stuck in New York and we had to spend the weekend alone?" he said. "Alvin nearly tore the place apart."
"I was bored; I had to do something with my time," his brother replied. He laughed next. "Remember how we organized that pillow fight with the Chipettes? And then the stuffed toys war?"
"Oh, oh! How about the time we found that mouse and chased it around the house?" Theodore said. "Alvin even followed it into the space between the stairs. That place always freaked me out as a kid."
"We've had loads of great memories in this house," Simon announced as he leaned back. "Just us three and Dave. Life seemed so much less complicating back then. Back when we didn't think anything could be worse than getting grounded."
"Or missing a meal," Theodore added.
"Or failing school," Alvin concurred.
Silence hung for a moment in the room. The man by the door listened to the grandfather's clock for a moment and wondered if the chipmunks were doing the same.
The silhouette that had its back to the doorway shifted, and the other two seemed to turn towards it. "We took too many things for granted back then," Alvin spoke. "Or, I took too many things for granted. Dave being one of those. Being a single dad now to twins kinda changed my perspective on things." He looked up. "I mean, it's only been a month since the Chipettes disappeared, but… even that's enough to notice how hard it must have been for Dave to raise us. If I have to raise two brats that are exact replicas of Brittany and myself at that age… I can kinda see how difficult I probably was."
"We were, Alvin," Simon corrected him. "Theodore and I may have been less of a handful than you, but we still followed you into whatever crazy scheme you cooked up." The silhouette crossed its arms before raising one hand to push back something over its nose—no doubt glasses. "But Alvin does raise a good point. Not even I could foretell what being a single father would be like… not until Jeanette…" He paused here before clearing his throat and moving on. "Despite being a single parent nearly a year before you, Alvin, I've come to notice the same things you are. Dave sacrificed everything for us. Free time, health, money, maybe even a reputation. I mean, despite being our father and the manager of The Chipmunks, he must have gotten ridiculed more than once for raising three chipmunks like humans."
"I wonder what would have happened if Mom never dropped us off on his doorstep that winter," Theodore said. "Remember how she said the winter had been the worst she had seen and that she had to give us up because we'd never survive the journey south? What do you think would have happened if that winter had never been as harsh? Would we be living in a tree like Mom? Would we even know who Dave was?"
"Mom did say he was just a man who lived by himself in a cottage," Alvin replied. "Maybe we'd only see him as that; as a random human who fed pigeons or something."
"We wouldn't even know what TV would be like."
At this realization, Alvin recoiled and then grasped his head. "Holy shoot, that's freaky!" he exclaimed, making Theodore tilt his head in curiosity while Simon slapped his forehead. "No modern anything, man; we'd be regular tree dwellers like Mom!" He shuddered. "I don't think I'd like that."
"Never mind that; we would have never met the Chipettes," Simon added after a moment. "And then we never would have married them and started a family… Davy, Claire and AJ wouldn't even be here. Considering that boar nearly killed us the first time we met Mom, I don't think we would have survived long in the wilderness like she could."
There was silence for a long time before Alvin nodded firmly and crossed his arms. "Alright, it's been decided; Dave's the cause of everything that's good that's happened to us," he concluded. "Despite being pains, he gave us everything, and because of that, we are who we are today."
"I don't think I'd want a chipmunk dad," Theodore chuckled. "I'd miss out on all of this."
"We came a long way," Simon agreed. "All because of Dave."
"And heck, maybe we wouldn't even be as tight as we are now, if it hadn't been for him."
They placed their arms around each other and leaned forward as the three silhouettes formed one giant one. A red light began to glow beneath the sheets, nearly overpowering the light from the flashlight.
"Through thick or thin, good times and bad times," Alvin began, "Through the days we can't stand each other to the days we can't stand to be apart, we will always be a team… a family… And all because one guy gave us a brand new life. Mom's decision put us in his care, but we are who we are… because of him."
"All for one, and three for all," Theodore whispered.
"One big, happy family," Simon added.
"Let's stay like this forever, guys; I don't want this moment to end."
Silence hung between them once more until Alvin groaned and pulled himself away while the red light died. "Yeah, well, as much as that's a great idea, Teddy, I'm gonna get a kink in my back if we hug like that for too long," he muttered, making his brother laugh. "We'll do it later when we're on our feet and see how long we can group hug before the kids demand to be part of it."
Simon opened his mouth and yawned, just as Alvin stretched his arms out. "Okay, it's nearing midnight, and we've had a long day at the studios," he said. "Let's call it a night, huh guys?"
"Sounds like a plan," Alvin agreed.
The silhouettes of Simon and Theodore were seen sliding off of the middle bed. Two pairs of feet appeared over the floor between the beds and then disappeared again once the chipmunks had climbed onto their respected mattresses. Alvin lay down as they departed.
"Should we tear this thing down?" Theodore whispered. "Dave might get angry that we made a mess, and considering we're adults now, I don't think that looks good."
"Let's clean up tomorrow; I'm bushed," Alvin mumbled.
"But Alvin, the mess," Simon said.
"Dude, I know you just said that to bug me, so shut up and go to bed," Alvin grumbled. "You're the one who wanted to call it a night anyway."
He was replied by the silhouette of a sock flying across the beds. By the way Simon flailed his arms, the man guessed that it had landed on his face.
"Ugh! Alvin, your feet stink!"
He was replied by a chuckle.
"Real mature, Alvin."
"Oh come on, Si; what are big brothers for?"
"What happened to your grown up speech just minutes earlier?"
"It washed off. You know I can't be the responsible one all the time. I need to stay cool. I am Alvin Seville."
"Want me to remind you who I am?"
"Oooh, you wanna start? Bring it on, Si-boy—!"
"GOOD NIGHT, ALVIN AND SIMON," Theodore snapped loudly from his bed.
There was a moment of silence before the other two chipmunks chuckled. "I wonder if he knows we do that on purpose only to annoy him most of the time nowadays," Alvin muttered.
"Whether he does or doesn't, I won't argue that it's not the least bit pleasurable," Simon added.
"Guys, I can hear you perfectly well," Theodore grumbled. "You're mean to your baby brother."
"We wuv you too, Teodowe," Alvin replied sweetly. Theodore tossed a teddy bear at him, which only made Alvin laugh again before tossing it back. All three chuckled tiredly until Alvin finally turned out the flashlight and cast the room into darkness. Within mere minutes, Theodore's soft snores began, and Alvin and Simon's gentle breathing joined into the night rhythm they often slept in.
Dave smiled from his post at the door and finally pulled himself away. This was a mess he wouldn't mind waking up to—after hearing what the boys had said, he figured it would be alright if he sacrificed a few more minutes of his spare time to clean up.
"You three made my life a lot better too," he whispered to the dark house as he slipped back into his room. Settling down in his bed, he hummed the tune of the song that had changed their lives; then, after wishing the grandfather's clock down the hallway goodnight, he pulled off his reading glasses and turned out the lights.
He never told the boys that he had heard everything they said.