Author Topic: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty ("Complete")  (Read 203638 times)

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 39, 3/31)
« Reply #165 on: March 31, 2014, 12:06:40 PM »
General Note: The conversation between Franco and Tay was thought of about a day before I wrote the chapter. Pretty good reaction for something thought of so quickly!

...you had to go and make me cry, didn't you? That conversation between Tay and Franco was just so touching. Now I really, really hope that somehow, some way, Hannah will be able to have a child. One last bit of her love to hold onto after Grim takes him.

<sniff>
...you had to go and make me cry, didn't you? That conversation between Tay and Franco was just so touching. Now I really, really hope that somehow, some way, Hannah will be able to have a child. One last bit of her love to hold onto after Grim takes him.

<sniff>

I know! While playing the game, I wanted Hannah to have a child with Tay for entirely pragmatic reasons; it was unlikely that Julian would live to get Lily's last museum pieces, and I needed to guarantee a future spouse later down the line (whether having her kid marry generation four, or having them be the parent to a later spouse). It took me until writing the story to actually get emotional over it.

Well, I'm glad Hannah's happy; she deserves it, after everything. Anyone else feeling bad for Franco, though? He clearly let his soul mate (Hannah) slip right through his chubby fingers. I like Julian punching Franco, too.  ;D Julian loves Lily, and too sincerely for whatever Franco was implying.

I felt bad for him. Franco, even during the game, seemed complacent in letting his life fall to pieces.

What Raia and Rhoxi both said!  That scene between Tay and Franco was definitely touching.  And I can't help but sigh.  I had shipped Hannah and Franco from the beginning and now that he's starting to realize, I'm just like... "TOO LATE!  Why you no realize this sooner, Franco?  Agh!"  Obviously, my grammar devolves when I'm exasperated lol.  Another wonderful chapter Trip.  And that picture with Shark and the butterfly is just wonderful.

I mildly disagree; I think Franco always realized that he had strong feelings for Hannah. He just ignored the feelings, maybe thinking that they were just impulses based entirely on looks, passion, or whatever. Of course, it's causing him a world of hurt. He should just be glad that he'll outlive Hannah's partner. ;)

Just catching up, and wow - Tay was such a sweetie.

"Better phone Stone"... wouldn't be a "Better call Saul" (Breaking Bad) reference, would it?

We have a winner! Breaking Bad is my big obsession outside of TS3, and when my story called for a lawyer possibly working for criminals, I couldn't resist the urge to make a reference.

Glad you got caught up! At over 50,000 words now (really!), anyone catching up on the story deserves my respect. ;)



Chapter 39: Fashion Phenomenon



Franco spent the next morning staring into a pumpkin spice latte, swirling around the frothy cream on top. The smell of nutmeg did nothing to soothe him. Neither did the crisp air or view of autumn leaves from the window.

“Something got you down?” asked Annette, sitting down with a plate of French toast for herself.

“I had a rough night.”

“Bad clients?”

“No, this one was fine. Charming, even.”



“Well, I know what can cheer you up.” Annette whipped out her phone, already open on an image of her in her two-piece swimsuit.

“Oh yes, your stretch marks are what I need,” Franco grumbled, taking a sip of his latte.

“No, it’s the new tattoos! I finally got them. Now look at this view.”



She flipped to a picture from the back, of the massive eagle tattoo that took up her entire back.

“That nice,” said Franco.

“I think the tattoo lady did a swell job. It looks just like your father’s.” Annette sighed, trapped in a daydream. “I might have kept my name, but I’m always gonna be a Racket.”

“I sometimes miss dad,” Franco said, “I envy you guys.”

“Yeah, because you don’t have the guts to tell the woman you love that she deserves you! I know that Hannah seems happy, but really, just break that old man’s heart and steal his girl. I’m not letting my son grow old and miserable.”

“Except that there is something so genuine about those two. It’s real love, apparently.”

“Then what do you have to live for now?”

“Plenty of things! I have a job, five beautiful children, loads of friends. I just have to let this part of my life go.” One tear rolled down his cheek and into his latte. “I think everything’s too hard on me right now.”

She put a hand on his shoulder, her own eyes pink and on the verge of tears.

“That’s no way to live forever.”



Even if that wasn’t, living on in history as a fashion icon was a pretty nice way to live forever. Franco took a seat at his drafting board once again, wrapped in his most comfortable hoodie, wielding his pencil like a professional. He formed a face, slim and heart-shaped. Big eyes below tweezed eyebrows, and a tiny nose. His model on paper was slim but only a little bit slim. All he could bring himself to draw was a simple, empire-waist wedding gown. Once he lightly pressed his pencil down to shade her skin, in the greyscale equivalent of olive, he just looked at the sad portrayal. Franco’s long-lost dream appeared on paper.

“Dangit!” he said to himself, crumpling up the paper and throwing it over his shoulder.

Franco sighed. He always wanted to design Hannah’s wedding dress, but instead, she was stuck silly in love and freely unwed.



He went out that afternoon to see his last two professional clients. Rosy Whelohff decided that looking frumpy wasn’t an option when she was forever young as a fairy. Still possibly on the wedding gown-kick, Franco fitted her a lovely white dress with green accents.



Later that afternoon, Ms. Tripp felt a disturbance in her wardrobe. “Not enough black. I’m not going to be an only lady in pastels!” she said, “And I want my dark hair back.”

“Don’t worry, I see some pretty nice possibilities,” he told her, with his hand on her shoulder, “There’s a whole world of fashion out there!”

Right afterwards, Franco got a call from Watcher Wear. They kept rejecting his pleas for a feature, laughing at a small-town stylist thinking he had what it took to get in Simnation’s biggest fashion magazine. He instead spent his adulthood gritting his teeth and groaning at the thought of his work being in the second-rate Trendy Threads Trimonthly. However, the editor on the other end sounded different; thrilled, even.

“Franco Waverly! Gregor Kinsey, Watcher Wear. Everyone’s been talking about you lately.”

“Really?” asked Franco, finally excited.

“I can’t believe it either! They’re calling you a phenomenon now. And by they, I mean everyone in the office, and now I have to follow. You’re…you’re just a genius.”

Franco would celebrate right on the spot, but he already had a party planned for that night.



One, very unfortunate, bittersweet party. Franco felt as if he never signed up for having a teenager. Alas, he got one anyways. Lily, beautiful and excited as always, stroked her chin in thought of a birthday wish.

“Tell daddy what you wished for,” he taunted.

“I’m not jinxing it,” she giggled. Foiled. Franco thought that maybe he could trick Lily, and that she would admit to wishing for a certain boy to like her. Jinx that, and he wouldn’t have to worry a bit.



He got out his noisemaker anyways. If Lily was happy about growing up, he better share it with her for a moment.



Sigh. Welcome to teenagerhood, he thought. Lily just leapt into it. In an instant, his beautiful little girl was almost as tall as him, still with her hair short. He buried a few black extensions in the dresser drawer, thinking that she would maybe return to something a little longer. A chin-length bob, even. Heck, even a cute pixie cut. Franco had enough with dealing with rebellion and mohawks from her.



He could dream. Franco begged for her not to use the razor. Once Lily sheared one side of her hair in defiance, her dad surrendered, letting her shave the other side for the sake of symmetry. She got out the makeup kit and instantly slathered on one layer of charcoal-colored eyeliner and one layer of orange.

“Wash that off right now,” said Franco.

“It makes my eyes look pretty cool, dad.” Lily smiled at the mirror, “I like the way this turned out.”

“Fine. But no lipstick.” Lily put down the tube of copper-orange before it touched her lips.

“Just wait until I’m 18,” she said, with a smirk.



Regardless of the difficulties at the dresser, Lily still danced with old Shark, without a hint of embarrassment. It wasn’t like she shaved off her love for the family when he ran the blade close to her scalp.



“Okay, perhaps we actually did well,” Franco said to Pansy, “Can’t say I love the new hair, but she is lovely.”

“And just like me. Good luck looking into those eyes for eternity,” said Pansy

“I accepted it a long time ago. I don’t hate you. Can we just be friends?”

“After everything? Nope. Now if you excuse me, my boyfriend’s gone sleeveless, and that’s just hot.”



In spite of everything between him and Pansy, Franco smiled a bit when Pansy leapt into Notzo’s arms without caution, him still strong even at 86 or however old they were then.



The next morning, Franco went to City Hall for his own party. The mayor, in his best regalia, took Franco’s hand for a brisk shake. Franco gripped tightly too, which almost broke the mayor’s relatively delicate fingers.

“Gotta love a man with a good handshake. Twinbrook’s fashion phenomenon, everyone!” He turned towards Franco. “We got news about the Watcher Wear shoot as soon as we could. Good job.”



“That’s not for another few months,” Franco said, “Nice to celebrate it before I get old, though.”



Meanwhile, Lily ran into her uncle Mark at the diner. They were mutually offended over the other one’s athleticism or lack of it, family ties be darned. Then Lily’s phone vibrated in her pocket, with a reminder of the autumn party the family planned for the late afternoon.

“Looks like I’ll have to see you anyways,” she said to Mark. Surely, he was on the invite list. Lily went home to prepare, and watch Julian sculpt. It was a good way to learn before she tried sculpture herself, but her fingers itched to grab a chisel or chainsaw to try it herself now that she was more of a proto-adult.





And Julian’s sculpting methods were a bit questionable.

As the party-goers started to pour in, Franco needed to entertain guests and corral the housemates, and he prioritized the former. “Lily, would you text Hannah for me? I have no idea where she is.” So she did, getting a quick reply.

“She’s busy,” said Lily, “No details, but I think I have a guess.”



I don’t know what else she could have guessed.

“Nothing flatters a sim like a nice fall day,” said Hannah, outstretching her hand to stroke Tay’s cheek, “Orange leaves, crisp breeze, pumpkin pies. And you! Perfect day. Getting cold yet?”

“The sweater works wonder,” he said, “You?”

“Maybe a bit. I know how to stay warm,” she said, with a sly wink.

While Hannah and Tay did their nasty things in the lounge’s basement, someone tapped Franco’s shoulder while he was in the bathroom and widely smiled.

“Yeah?” he asked, turning around to the face-wide smile of Ben Kindle. He had a big mouth and a narrow jaw, much like his big sister, and shaggy red hair that covered his right eye, much like his father wore his. Franco never really liked Ben. He blew kisses to the air much like Carmen did, and believed himself to be at least as awesome as his siblings, but without a thing to prove it. Carmen painted and spray-painted, with immense talent in both things, while Franco couldn’t recall a single talent of Ben’s.

“Look, Franco, now that you’re the guy to go to in fashion, I figured that you could take on my awesomeness,” Ben said.

“I could do that a long time ago. But you have money, right?” Ben produced a stack of simoleons,a bunch of 20-simoleon notes secured with a rubber band.

“I saved my inheritance money well,” Ben said.

“Looks like I have a new customer.” Franco almost got the hairbrush out when he heard someone unzip their pants. Jeffrey stood by the toilet with a relieved look on his face.

“Gross,” Franco told Jeffrey, “Just go in the back yard if it’s that bad.”

“What am I, an animal? It's not like you have to look.” But after Jeffrey flushed, he felt lighter. Even lighter than an emptied bladder made him. Light as if he lost his torso or all of his limbs. Missing. As if every part of him floated away.



“Oh,” said Jeffrey.



“Ah! My best cook!” Annette cried out. Jeffrey smiled into the afterlife, though, almost sinisterly. He cheered when Grim materialized in front of him. “I’m your biggest fan!” said Jeffrey, “You’re just so evil.” He shook Grim’s hand, thanking him for the time to spend with Gena and the kids, and diving into the beyond with glee.

As for Franco and Ben, they decided to postpone a makeover. Franco had no strong feelings either way for Jeffrey, except for a small shred of thankfulness that he went before Shark did. In the rush of guests and his mum’s famous pumpkin pie, Franco didn’t process Jeffrey’s death completely. He absolutely forgot how it would affect him.



Heck, even Hannah forgot.



Word Count for this chapter: 1,849
Word Count so far: 54,028

I was cutting it close with Hannah! She had 3 days of adulthood left by the time I could finally press the Try for Baby button.

Also, Franco's last client was indeed named Tripp (as a surname; I forget her first name). I thought it was kind of funny.

Annette got her tattoos just after Lily was born, actually, but somehow I forgot to include them in the story.
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Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 39, 3/31)
« Reply #166 on: March 31, 2014, 01:04:45 PM »
Good bye Jeffrey!  Yay, now we get Hannah nooboos!  I love Lily's look. 

Also, somehow, ignoring the feelings just make it worse XD



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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 39, 3/31)
« Reply #167 on: March 31, 2014, 02:30:05 PM »
Goodbye Jeffrey. Thanks for helping to create some really adorable children. :)

I too am glad that he went first instead of Shark...and doubly glad that he went early enough to give Hannah the chance for her own sweet little nooboo. Talk about cutting it whisper close!

Now the next question is whether said nooboo will take after mom or dad. This will be interesting indeed. ;)

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Offline Rhoxi

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 39, 3/31)
« Reply #168 on: March 31, 2014, 03:03:10 PM »

Whew, good to see Hannah's genes will make it, just in time!

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 39, 3/31)
« Reply #169 on: March 31, 2014, 03:08:07 PM »
Yay, a Hannah nooboo on the way! I love Annette's new tattoos.  :D

You really do have a comedic touch.


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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 40, 4/1)
« Reply #170 on: April 01, 2014, 10:40:37 AM »
Good bye Jeffrey!  Yay, now we get Hannah nooboos!  I love Lily's look. 

Also, somehow, ignoring the feelings just make it worse XD

I really did cheer when the camera panned to Jeffrey dying. ;D

Lily was made for that mohawk, but she's otherwise challenging to makeover because of all the orange.

Goodbye Jeffrey. Thanks for helping to create some really adorable children. :)

I too am glad that he went first instead of Shark...and doubly glad that he went early enough to give Hannah the chance for her own sweet little nooboo. Talk about cutting it whisper close!

Now the next question is whether said nooboo will take after mom or dad. This will be interesting indeed. ;)

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I'm glad that Shark was very long-lived. It's not like Jeffrey made valuable masterpiece sculptures. ;)

I know exactly what her kid looked like, but with a father like Tay, I'll keep everyone on their toes.

Whew, good to see Hannah's genes will make it, just in time!

To think that I was making backup plans in case someone didn't die! I liked this route better.

Yay, a Hannah nooboo on the way! I love Annette's new tattoos.  :D

You really do have a comedic touch.



Thanks! Making new tattoos for my immortals is great. I can't afford my own just yet, so it's the next best thing. :P



Chapter 40: A Just-In-Time Surprise



Hannah got the news about Jeffrey as soon as she got home and didn’t hear video game sound effects. Still, she forgot to make a connection between Jeffrey’s death and the effects of what two sessions of public woohoo with Tay could do to her with the house a little more empty. She spent weeks rather oblivious to any idea of what could have changed starting that night.



Of course, she eventually had to try and make the connection, as the leftover crepes she had for breakfast boiled up inside.



However, her digestive system revolting against her was a little more important to Hannah than connections. She needed to stop retching when fans wanted her to perform, so she bent over and let out her entire breakfast, plus the tea and orange juice, and the second cup of tea to clear her throat. Hannah performed with a raspy voice that day, not daring to upset her stomach with a third cup of tea to fix her voice again.



The show went on, anyways. The rain turned out to be a bigger worry.

Hannah still spent some time in flimsy denial. When Franco started to make arrangements for his elder birthday, she brushed off the nausea as Annette’s fridge keeping food indefinitely being too good to be true, as opposed to the idea of possibly being pregnant. If Franco was getting old, then she wasn’t that far behind. Probably too old to get pregnant the usual way. When her usual clothes got a little tight, she thought that age slowed her metabolism down, and got some comfortable clothes to wear before she got resized for something a little more stylish.

She didn’t suspect a thing, even on the morning of Franco’s elder birthday.

That morning, Hannah was dozing around, with the time to doze thanks to taking a small hiatus from singing, but Franco was awake since 5AM. The party arrangements needed him. However, Annette managed to get him to relax for a bit for breakfast. “I made waffles! You’re going to prefer party planning to waffles?” Annette nearly shoved the plate into Franco’s face.

He spent an hour trying to get three bites down.

“I sometimes wonder why you’re fat,” Annette said. She cleaned her plate in 10 minutes. Franco didn’t even react to his mother’s comments any more. He stared down his plate of nearly-untouched waffles, watching the syrup congeal on the plate.

“I can make something else,” she said, “Heck, even dessert. It’s your birthday, after all.”

“I hate myself and everything I’ve done.” Franco pushed his plate away, to the other side of the table.

“Realized that you have little to live for?”

“Don’t add to it.” He slowly walked upstairs, to get dressed for the party, or to cry into his pillow before he could stain his suit jacket with tears.



Annette still cooked, hoping that he would change his mind.

That afternoon, a few hours before the party, Julian came home from the office and hung up his trenchcoat. With the heating in the house, it was pretty unbearable to wear outside of work, and even in work. Interviewees would probably still take him seriously if he simply wore business casual. Lily came home from school too, without any homework.



The two of them always liked to talk, mostly about sculpting. However, Lily mentioned something about prom. It was still a ways off, but she was excited about the rave theme the prom committee already agreed on and the caterers they considered.



Julian only vaguely remembered his prom, or so he told Lily. He still wished her well, wishing that the prom committee did a good job, and of course, wishing that she would find a nice date.

“Nah, going stag,” she said, “Or whatever it is when a girl goes alone. Is it ‘going doe?’” The both laughed a bit.

“There has to be someone nice there for you. Don’t you like that Jones-Brown kid? He seems nice.”

“Loki? He’s my best friend, but I don’t love him that way.”

“Well, it’s a bigger town than you think,” said Julian, “There’s someone out there for you.”

“There is. I might have a bit of a crush,” Lily glanced towards the floor, shyly smiling.

“Kind of sucks that he’s too old to go to prom, though,” she continued.

Julian stood frozen and mortified, while Lily nearly skipped to the dresser to get her best dress on, as if her comment was as insignificant as saying that it rained that morning. He eventually got his own good jacket on, though. He realized that Franco’s birthday was the main event, but Julian made sure that they ordered a second cake and five extra candles, to usher in his own first wrinkles.



Soon after, Julian forgot about what Lily said. The party started, and the cakes were already set up. As the pianist charmed the guests, both of the birthday boys smiled and waited for the guests to react to them instead, while wax dripped down their candles and ruined good fondant.





They both had their wishes.





In a rush of sparkles, they said good-bye to either half of their youth or all of it.



Annette greeted their wrinkles in her usual way. But she was the only one laughing that night. Franco invited Tay, but perhaps he had an early bedtime. Hannah always laughed at them ever since she finished university, but she was quiet and standing still as if in contemplation.



Her face was stuck in her default look; weary and pouty.



Her own half-brother started laughing instead, pointing right at her. “Oh my god, this is what the queen of awesome calls fashion?” Ben taunted, “I win! I am the fabulous one.” Hannah still stood absolutely silent, but her mind tried to piece things together, about why she felt sick and bloated. She weakly called out Franco’s name, but to no effect.





She understood. He had two fashion disasters to fix, after all.



While the pianist flaunted their virtuosity, Hannah stared into oblivion. “Did it really happen?” she whispered to herself.



It took Carmen waddling by for the pieces to fit together for Hannah. Suddenly, she felt a little flutter inside her lower abdomen, no more powerful than her pulse. In fact, less powerful than her pulse. After a workout, Hannah’s pulse could rock her entire body, but this was just a flutter. Just a flutter that basically said “hey there.”



She gave her tummy a rub.

“Hey yourself.”



After finishing with Julian at the dresser, Franco cheered up a bit from the morning, and he didn’t even need juice for it. Celebrating his last birthday with light gambling was his remedy instead, competing against Annette for money they did not need. She pensively concentrated on the game, or so Franco thought until she actually opened her mouth.

“I can’t believe that Hannah’s boyfriend actually knocked her up,” she said, “He looks like he can’t get out of bed in the morning, let alone actually do fun things in a bed.”



Franco propped his head up on his fist, in dejection. “I guess it’s over,” he said, “They’re a happy family now. And me? I just have a bunch of babymommas who don’t care a bit.”

“Plural? Found another?” she asked.

“The Knack sisters. Again, they don’t care. And I know that this search is hopeless, but what else can I do to fill up forever?” He pushed a stack of chips closer to the robotic dealer. “See? I don’t even care if that’s a stupid move that will lose me another thousand.”



Annette stopped talking, and just said a prayer for her son in silence.

Franco woke up that morning feeling a whole new level of stiffness. He still needed to get used to his aging body. Lazy too, he grabbed a bowl of cereal instead of expending the energy to ask Annette for a proper breakfast and wait for her to cook it. The doorbell rang as he poured the milk. Hannah answered the door, probably because it was her guest. Franco hoped that his expectations would be subverted and that one of her brothers was visiting instead, but no, it was Tay.

“It worked,” she said to him. Tay was stunned for a good minute, his eyes locked on his girlfriend in disbelief, then excitement. They nearly fell into each others’ arms, stuck in a hug for the amount of time it took for Franco to eat his cereal and fish the last peanut butter puff from the milk.

How strange. He didn’t react that way when Pansy had the same news. He said “that’s great!” and then went to work. But Tay spent the whole day at the house, even if what he could manage was just sitting down to a movie or a marathon of them on the widescreen television, with Hannah. He put his arm around her for the whole time, often not actually paying attention to the movie. Tay instead turned towards her for a kiss, or to nuzzle the top of her head and all of that soft, black hair that Franco always dreamed of running his fingers through.

At night, after dinner, Hannah helped him up the stairs. Franco braced himself for the noise that usually ensued when that happened, but even if he stood in the hallway, right above Hannah’s bedroom, he couldn’t hear a thing.

At 22:00, he opened the door to Hannah’s room, just enough for him to peek in. She left the lights on, but the two of them were asleep, both lying on their side and snuggled close together. Perhaps they really were exhausted, as they didn’t even bother getting under the blanket or changing into their pajamas. At some points, they breathed in unison. Tay’s nose was right up against the back of Hannah’s neck; his left arm was draped over her, his left hand on her tummy, perhaps trying to be protective.

Franco couldn’t help but crack a smile. He reached his arm inside to flick the switch and turn off the lights.

As the months went on, Hannah prepared for her nooboo, or she wished that was where her attention turned to. For a bit, she could focus entirely on it. She learned that it was a boy, so she went on shopping trips for toy cars and blue blankets. Hannah, for a tiny, little bit, fed herself well, and took her supplements, and once treated herself to a professional massage at the spa. She smiled every time she looked down at the round little bump under her shirt. Franco almost happily let her go. If you asked her, for that bit of time, if life was perfect, Hannah would ask why it wasn't obvious to you already.

Things changed when Tay stopped coming over. Franco asked her what was up. Apparently he was having trouble getting out of the house. But needing to drive didn’t stop Hannah from spending time with the father of her son. She spent days at a time there. On the nights she came home, Hannah looked like she was dying herself; dark circles under her eyes and a very weak smile, if she smiled at all. She barely ate at home, sometimes grabbing a plate of spaghetti from the fridge, but eating only half of it.

Franco just felt helpless seeing her. He fought the urge to draw her in for a slow embrace when she came in the door, just to tell her that he cared. He cared, but it was as if Hannah disappeared out of sight, into the swamp fog entirely. Even if she stood right in front of him. Even if she was slowly dying herself.

Franco spent nights crying into his pillow instead of helping. He couldn't even ask her what was wrong, though he had a guess. She retreated upstairs herself before he could even say "good-night."



However, he still managed to confidently smile when Shark needed him to pose. He spent an afternoon doing just that, until Shark looked through the ice and felt like he had a masterpiece. Shark got his masterpiece just in time. Franco’s phone vibrated while he stood for Shark, and five minutes did so again. Both times, it was Hannah calling. He called her back.

“Hannah?” he asked.

“I need you to pick me up.”



Word Count for this chapter: 2,065
Word Count so far: 56,093
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 40, 4/1)
« Reply #171 on: April 01, 2014, 11:12:17 AM »
Oh the roller coaster of emotions at play here...the joy of Hannah and Tay's coming child, the Franco's jealousy at what the two of them have that he doesn't, the bit of a crush that Lily may have on her mentor...

And if I'm reading the signs correctly...the sadness of losing a loved one and the fact that a baby boy will never know his father.

Words can hardly describe how this chapter hit me. You have such an amazing knack for hitting every emotional nerve.

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Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 40, 4/1)
« Reply #172 on: April 01, 2014, 10:19:09 PM »
Oh wow... I am speechless right now... And very heartsore for both of them.

Offline hazelnut

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 40, 4/1)
« Reply #173 on: April 02, 2014, 05:32:03 PM »
Oh dear, Franco.   This is really not a good point to realise what a mess you made of your life - not with so much of it left :(.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 41, 4/2)
« Reply #174 on: April 02, 2014, 06:33:42 PM »
Oh the roller coaster of emotions at play here...the joy of Hannah and Tay's coming child, the Franco's jealousy at what the two of them have that he doesn't, the bit of a crush that Lily may have on her mentor...

And if I'm reading the signs correctly...the sadness of losing a loved one and the fact that a baby boy will never know his father.

Words can hardly describe how this chapter hit me. You have such an amazing knack for hitting every emotional nerve.

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I'm glad that I portrayed the wreck of that time in the dynasty well! I had a good time writing it, because it was also going by at a fast pace when I was playing, and now I finally have the time to reflect on how it actually may have affected my pixel dolls.

Oh wow... I am speechless right now... And very heartsore for both of them.

Thanks! I feel the same way. :(

Oh dear, Franco.   This is really not a good point to realise what a mess you made of your life - not with so much of it left :(.

Yep, if only something saved him right before his ambrosia day...



Chapter 41: What Happened?



Franco stepped out of the house. His breath fogged up when he exhaled, and the frozen grass crunched under his feet. The dirt was absolutely solid with ice. The summer cicadas and crickets and frogs hibernated deeply, leaving Twinbrook silent. Not even the roar of a car engine filled the night until Franco put the key in the exhaust of his dad’s old police cruiser, his little inheritance gift.

He pulled up the Bayless house and its clouds of cold fog. A few lights were on, but the front door was left open on such a cold night. As far as he was concerned, the house was empty. Hannah stood outside, on the side of the house, her colorful blue shirt standing out against the murky swamp. Her mouth wasn’t quite agape, but still open, as if her jaw went limp. She seemed entirely limp, aside from the ability to stand. Her arms hung motionless at her side, her neck craned down slightly, and her eyes absolutely empty as they stared at the frost forming on the grass.



At first, she told her story without words.

Once Franco stood in front of her, he didn’t have time to greet Hannah before she collapsed sobbing.

“Hannah,” he softly said, “What happened?” Her answer, if there was one, was delivered in another incomprehensible wail. He wanted some response from her, and asked questions in hopes of getting it. “Are you ready to go home?” “Can I take you to the hospital?” But the broken, shattered Hannah failed to form words.



“Do you need someone to cry with?” he asked. She gave a non-verbal response, anyways, falling on him, her arms wrapped around Franco and her face buried into his coat. She clung to him like a magnet. All he could do was embrace her the same. Finally, for the first time since high school, Franco hugged the body of Hannah close to him, even though she was half-delirious in her grief. She treated him more like a pillow to cry into, but Franco wanted to look into her eyes, or kiss the top of her head and all of that thick black hair, or gently intertwine his fingers with hers.

Oh, how could he? Taking advantage of a grieving, hormonal woman was surely improper.

He still saw his breath in the frigid night air. Hannah shivered while she cried.

“Should we get in the car?” he asked, “There’s heat in there.” Still, Hannah weeped and wailed and created a large wet spot on Franco’s coat. He tried hugging her even closer, hoping that he could warm her up.

“Have you eaten today?” he asked, but the answer was likely no. Her legs trembled as she tried to cry standing up. Even as she tightly squeezed Franco close to her, Hannah’s entire body still felt loose and tired. Franco ended up bearing most of her weight just to keep her upright.

Eventually, Franco knelt down on the frosty grass, as Hannah wasn’t able to stand anymore. She still rested her head on his shoulder while she reclined with her legs on the ground, dirtying up her stockings. She hugged him around the abdomen, and her eyes almost closed. Franco almost held a sleeping Hannah, but she ended up finally grabbing some words before drifting off.

“What happened?” she asked. Her voice cracked, tear-choked and weak.

“I wish I knew,” Franco said.

“I haven’t slept for two days. Barely ate anything either. Just...worrying...about...him.”

Her voice trailed off. Soon, Hannah’s eyes closed. Her breathing soon became slower and deeper, no longer staggered by sobbing. Her body relaxed in Franco’s arms, and after barely a minute passed, her snoring filled the nighttime air. Franco no longer had to look into her eyes and see her whites irritated and pink; the lids were entirely relaxed and her mouth almost seemed to smile the slightest bit as she received her sweet, well-deserved sleep.

He smiled. She was so cute when she slept. Franco held on to his sleeping friend for at least an hour, though he noticed how still everything inside of her was. The nooboo inside of her didn’t seem to move at all. Considering the circumstances, maybe she destroyed that too.

“You have to live through this,” he whispered, putting his hand on Hannah’s tummy, “I’m not letting her get heartbroken again.”

Franco got a forceful kick, right in the center of his hand. It was enough to jolt Hannah too, so that she noticed Franco still holding her close.

“Having fun?” she asked, her voice still hardly louder than a whisper.

“You’d freeze out here without me,” Franco said, “I’ll do whatever you need me to.”



Hannah let go and stood up, still unsteady on her feet and with plenty of tears to spare.

“I really need to eat something,” she said.

“The diner is always open.”

He just wanted to lead her to the car at first, but Franco again saw Hannah in the way he usually did. Not even her puffy and swollen face could distract from the dramatic red lipstick, and the slight pout of her mouth. It couldn’t distract him from the way her nose hooked down ever so slightly. And her eyes, pink and tear-filled, were still as big as always, and the blue irises remained intact. Grieving or not, she was always going to be Hannah Carlton, who made his heart race whenever she spoke or smiled.

Franco approached her, as she was easy to catch up as she walked slowly to the car.

“Listen, no matter what, you’re still the most amazing, perfect person I know. And I’ve been a very bad friend to such a person.”

“Same,” she said, to Franco’s lovestruck face, and his captivated, nearly-sparkling hazel eyes, and the sweet smile that defeated his default scowl.

“I’m just painfully in love with you, Hannah.”



Without even half a second to say “same,” Hannah found herself drawn in for a timid kiss. Very little of him touched her; just his hand on her arm to lead her, his nose against her soft, damp cheek, and his lips pressed against hers and smudging her lipstick.

Franco hoped for a response, but Hannah stood in front of him, scared or struck by desire, just frozen in whatever she felt.

“I really, really need something to eat” she said.

They drove to the diner. Hannah looked out the window for the whole drive, as the willows and mossy oak trees, grey and dormant, passed by.

When they sat down at the diner, they took a booth near a window and sat down across from each other. Only half of the lights were on, and the crew was spread thin; only a couple cooks in the kitchen, and a lone waiter playing a game on his smartphone. Franco took a few hundred simoleons out of his wallet and waved them in the sight of the one waiter. The waiter ran over, as fast as if he was on fire and Franco was a dive well.

“Yes, Mr. Waverly! What do you need?”

“I don’t need a thing,” Franco said, “But listen to whatever she tells you. And if you want a tip like this, you’ll make her meals as soon as you get the ticket.” Hannah already had her nose buried in the menu.

“Blueberry pancakes, sausages, vegetarian hash, a side of toast.” It was if she read off everything. “Orange juice, an actual orange, a cup of tomato soup. I think that will do.”

“You deserve it,” Franco said, “Sad that there’s a wait, but I thought it would be warm enough in here.”

“It is.” She toyed with the straw in the glass of water she got, looking down at the table.

“What happened?” she asked again, “I don’t know how I ended up here.”

“I wish I knew too. To think, I once thought that you were unbreakable. I thought that I’d never see you hopelessly in love.”

“I never thought I would either. I don’t think I started with Tay that way. I thought it would be so shocking that you’d just boil over with rage. But then I actually got to know him, and the way he put his arm around me. He had the some of the sweetest kisses in Twinbrook. Sometimes he’d shyly kiss my forehead, or the tip of my nose, but when it was on the lips, he slowly drew me close. And he’d listen really well to everything I said. And as much as I never wanted it to happen, I fell in love. I’d be asleep at home and not sad now if it didn’t happen that way.” She patted her tummy a bit, looking down at her shirt again, “But this little guy, man, I wouldn’t have him without Tay. And it makes it all a lot better, and a lot worse.”

“I apologize for the kiss,” Franco said, “I know you need your time, and even if you hate me now, I just want you to heal. Seeing you so broken, well, it felt like it killed me too. I’m hopelessly attached and obsessed with you. I hate that sometimes, but then I see you, just sitting there so beautiful.” He looked her in the eyes, at her delicate smile that formed at his words.

“I’m just filling up time at this point,” he continued, “You lost someone you loved, and I’m not giving you your space.”

Hannah’s food came out. Within a minute, she ate all of her pancakes. Five minutes, and a plate full of sausages and hash was gone too, all eaten without regard for the cleanliness of the white tablecloth. She would have gotten the toast down in that time as well, if they put the jam on for her. She ate her orange slices, peels and all. Fifteen minutes, and all that was in front of Hannah were a bunch of dirty plates.

“You really needed to eat,” Franco said.

“It’s a bit of a relief. I haven’t had a big meal in months. I can’t eat when I’m worried, or when I have to cook for someone who has lost all of that.” She sighed, looking down at all of the plates. “I remember your dad, and heck, I was sad when he passed on, but the fact that it was so sudden almost made it better. Your dad still had a lot of energy in him. He got out of the house to work, and climbed the stairs unassisted, and he climbed into bed with your mum to act like newlyweds again. He died washing the dishes, for watchers’ sake! It’s a lot more heartbreaking when you watch them slowly slip away.”

“Well, it all started a few months ago. I knew that Tay was getting older, but he started to lose his sight. Couldn’t drive anymore. Getting up the stairs was hard too. So I stopped sleeping regularly. I stayed up at his place, watching TV to keep me awake, just in case he needed me. Stuff got harder. Cooking did, so I did the cooking. But I was too worried to really eat. Getting out of bed, so he was eventually bedridden. I could have called a doctor, I mean, I actually asked Randall for advice, even though he just works with teeth. He said that at that point, Tay was better off living out his last days at home. And I didn’t want to hear about last days! I wanted him to live so badly. But I took Rand’s advice because I who else would I listen to? And the last month was awful. I sat crying at his bedside, maybe hoping that I sounded unpleasant enough to keep Grim away. I just wanted him to see his son.”

At that point, she was back to the same state she was at the house, her face buried in her palms. Though she found the strength to still speak, just to make sure the story was clear.

“And just a few hours ago, Grim tapped Tay on the shoulder and put him out of his misery. And now I’m sitting here as a pregnant widow, stuffing myself with everything in sight because I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to react to this or how to live the rest of my life.” She still cried over it, with her entire world dark and hazy, as if hidden within the nighttime swamp fog. Franco still kept his eyes on her, listening intently, not saying a word. Her eyes finally met his; she spent her entire monologue talking to the table and the salt shaker, with her eyes down.

“Or I do know, but it’s been awkward.”

“If I knew that you’d have to go through this, I would have bought a ring and gotten down on my knee the moment you graduated high school,” Franco said, “Anything, so that I would see you as the strong and healthy and downright beautiful woman I’ve known for decades now. And you’re still all of those, but I wish I could fix what’s broken.”

“Are you done with the plates?” the waiter asked.

“Yeah. I’m stuffed now,” Hannah said. “And Franco? This might sound odd, but can I hold your hand?”

He smiled, absolutely melting into a smile. “You mean it?”

“Yeah. I need it.”

He extended his arm across the table, to where Hannah’s right hand rested. He brushed his fingers against hers, eventually moving them between her fingers, clutching tightly. Her fingers were still comforting and warm, thin and spindly but strong. Her eyes filled with tears still, but the smile on her face told a much different story.

“What happened?” she asked, choked again by crying, “I mean, what happened to us?”

“I don’t even know at this point,” said Franco, “But what’s happening now is fine with me.”

They exited the diner, greeted by a sunrise over the expansive lake. The windows of the diner were tinted orange and pink in the early morning light, and even though the ground was still frosty, the temperature warmed up a tiny bit. They no longer saw their breath.

“Wanna enjoy the sunrise?” asked Franco.

“I’m up for it.”



They sat down, and he took her hand again, and they turned towards each other, looking into the weary faces of the other one. Hannah, exhausted and relieved, couldn’t take her eyes off Franco. She squeezed his hand hard enough to threaten his circulation.

“You’ve made this into a lovely morning,” she said, “And twelve hours ago, I never thought I’d say that.”

“You’ve made a lot of my mornings lovely, and if I could, I’d like to wake up every morning to you, and your beautiful face. Those lovely blue eyes. I’m...I dream of you a lot. And this is some dream coming true to me.”



As the sky gave way to grey as opposed to hazy pink, Hannah agreed. She would live some amazing dream if she was in Franco’s arms for the rest of her days.



When the sky was completely a light grey, Franco took her hand again, for the third or fourth time that morning, but with a serious proposition.

“Wanna make things right between us?” he asked, “And I’m not talking about mere reconciliation. You know what I want.”

“A new girlfriend? I like to think that I know you well, Mr. Franco,” Hannah laughed for the first time that morning, perhaps for the first time in months.

“Exactly.”



They both leaned in for a kiss, melting into it with their eyes closed and their noses buried into the other one’s cheek. They stayed pressed together for at least a minute, as if in a trance. And they would have stayed that way if Franco’s phone didn’t ring.



“You ready?” It was Annette on the other end.

Franco looked over at Hannah again, her lips still curled into a smile, and her eyes gushing tears.

“Yes.”



Word Count for this chapter: 2,675
Word Count so far: 58,768

~2670 2,675 words, and a lot of heartache on my part. This, so far, was the hardest chapter to write, and strangely enough, it was one that I had planned basically all along. No matter what happened, Hannah and Franco needed their "what happened?" moment. It turned out far more heartbreaking on my behalf to write. For once, I had to stop and take a break from writing it because it was really tough putting my characters through that.

As for the title of the chapter, have my inspiration, and the soundtrack to writing this monster too. It's also a good song to put on when doing maintenance on a computer lab at night, but that's a different set of emotions.
No respect, no chance, cease and desist when I chant-

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Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 41, 4/2)
« Reply #175 on: April 02, 2014, 07:11:23 PM »
FINALLY!!!! Sorry for the outburst, but wow... Holy crap, Trip.  I went through so many emotions reading that.  I can't imagine what it was like for you to write it.  Bravo, my dear.  Truly.  That was lovely and sad and heart-wrenching all at once.  And I like the song too.

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 41, 4/2)
« Reply #176 on: April 02, 2014, 08:07:54 PM »
Not all love stories are fairy tales, and indeed theirs was a twisted, broken path. Franco may have thought he loved Pansy, at one point. He might have felt something for Carmen, or maybe even the Knack sisters, but it was all a placebo...and by the time he figured it out the woman he truly loved was in the arms of another man. Not to say that it was all wrong. That Lily came out of Franco's relationship with Pansy was itself a wonderful thing, and there is no doubt that Hannah made a very lonely old man very happy in his last days, even if Tay didn't survive long enough to meet his son. But in the end, true love really did prevail...and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Bravo. Simply bravo.

On a logistical note, you really did cut it close with Hannah, didn't you? By the time they could Try for Baby you had a window of what, two days before Grim came for Tay? That's just...wow.

And I'll have you know that, thanks to you, Mister Bayless is now on the top of my list of favorite sims. Darn you, Trip. :P

Offline Littlesister

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 41, 4/2)
« Reply #177 on: April 03, 2014, 04:11:25 AM »
That was incredibly beautiful and raw, after everything they went through. I love the depth and ins and outs of their relationship, how it isn't the typical happy ever after. Stunning.
I also just have to say that Lily is a gorgeous teenager. It'll be interesting to see how her story plays out.

Offline Ausette

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 41, 4/2)
« Reply #178 on: April 04, 2014, 03:56:37 AM »
Oooh, I'm rather torn by this. On one hand, I'm so happy that Hannah and Franco have worked things out and can finally be together, but on the other I've grown quite attached to Tay and was looking forward to him and Hannah being resurrected at the end of the dynasty together. Ah well, I'll have to wait and see how it ends. I hope the Waverlys (and mortals) are happy whatever happens.  :)

And I agree that Lily is a gorgeous teenager. I absolutely love her everyday look; the Mohawk and the orange shirt are wonderful on her.

Online Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 42, 4/4)
« Reply #179 on: April 04, 2014, 06:31:43 PM »
FINALLY!!!! Sorry for the outburst, but wow... Holy crap, Trip.  I went through so many emotions reading that.  I can't imagine what it was like for you to write it.  Bravo, my dear.  Truly.  That was lovely and sad and heart-wrenching all at once.  And I like the song too.

I knew it would be a chapter to put a smile on the face of Frannah shippers. ;) But really, if it's even half as emotional for you as it was for me, then I think I did my job.

Not all love stories are fairy tales, and indeed theirs was a twisted, broken path. Franco may have thought he loved Pansy, at one point. He might have felt something for Carmen, or maybe even the Knack sisters, but it was all a placebo...and by the time he figured it out the woman he truly loved was in the arms of another man. Not to say that it was all wrong. That Lily came out of Franco's relationship with Pansy was itself a wonderful thing, and there is no doubt that Hannah made a very lonely old man very happy in his last days, even if Tay didn't survive long enough to meet his son. But in the end, true love really did prevail...and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Bravo. Simply bravo.

On a logistical note, you really did cut it close with Hannah, didn't you? By the time they could Try for Baby you had a window of what, two days before Grim came for Tay? That's just...wow.

And I'll have you know that, thanks to you, Mister Bayless is now on the top of my list of favorite sims. Darn you, Trip. :P

I think that their struggle makes the end result much more worth reading about. They even kept me on my toes! I wanted them to end up together, but it took them until the end to agree.

I still count my blessings with how I managed to get a nooboo out of Hannah in that time frame! Similar luck came into play when it came to making Hannah herself; Harwood was 90 when she was conceived. It's a sad family trend.

That was incredibly beautiful and raw, after everything they went through. I love the depth and ins and outs of their relationship, how it isn't the typical happy ever after. Stunning.
I also just have to say that Lily is a gorgeous teenager. It'll be interesting to see how her story plays out.

Reliving all of their ups and downs made for quite an emotional writing experience. I'm glad you liked it!

Lily was as interesting as a sculptor could be, which doesn't really say much. :P

Oooh, I'm rather torn by this. On one hand, I'm so happy that Hannah and Franco have worked things out and can finally be together, but on the other I've grown quite attached to Tay and was looking forward to him and Hannah being resurrected at the end of the dynasty together. Ah well, I'll have to wait and see how it ends. I hope the Waverlys (and mortals) are happy whatever happens.  :)

And I agree that Lily is a gorgeous teenager. I absolutely love her everyday look; the Mohawk and the orange shirt are wonderful on her.

While I grew attached to Tay while writing this, while playing the game, he was mostly just a way for Hannah to gross out Franco and get a nooboo out of the deal. So my plan was always for Franco to realize that Hannah was his true love, whether while she lived or after resurrecting her. I do have an...unusual plan for resurrecting the mortals, and I honestly don't know how I'll fit Tay into it.

She was a fun teen to makeover! Helps that she has a face that works with short hair.



Chapter 42: Phoenix



“Looks like it’s time. You know, for that thing I have to do,” Franco said to Hannah. He still couldn’t take his eyes off her, from her wet eyes to her messed-up hair, and the large round bump under her shirt.

“I guess you should go home with me. I’m not leaving you alone again,” he said.

“I’d just cling to the back windshield if you forgot me.”

Franco took the driver’s seat, possibly a bad idea. He almost drove them off the bridge leading to Puddlewick Drive and all the mansions, while looking at Hannah instead of the road. Without any driving duties, she safely kept her eyes on Franco the whole time. No words, just her big blue eyes still not dry, and filled with admiration for the man in the driver’s seat.

He let her off by the front door, unable to go for a few seconds without latching on to her for a hug. He squeezed her as close as he could squeeze her, one arm around the back of her shoulders, the other around her lower back. For a few minutes, Franco held her close just to feel the sound of her breathing, confirming that she survived the worst part of her life.

“It’s going to be hard to be in the basement for an hour without you,” he said, “My mum doesn’t really suffice, you know?”

“I think I’ll live,” Hannah said, as she slowly let go of him. “I really did survive the worst.”

“And now you should take the time to take care of yourself. A nice hot bath, a nap, ice cream in the freezer, have it all if you want. Your focus should be on you now. And the little one too.”

He gave her a peck on the cheek before walking to the shed in the backyard.



Annette waited while dressed in her best, from her gloves to her heels, while Franco was down to his casual sweatervest.

“I thought you’d appreciate the effort,” said Annette.

“It’s not like you needed to,” Franco said, “I don’t even have a tie on.”

“Tie or not, your old mum’s getting impatient. I’m not eating this stuff alone again if I can help it. And I have work today, so get yourself downstairs. We’ll meet up down there. I have it all planned out!”

Franco opened the door to the dark shed. Aside from a couple of tiny windows, it was extremely dark, even as the bright autumn sun lit up every other corner of Twinbrook. Nothing was kept in the shed, except for spiral stairs down to the basement and whatever was down there.



What turned out to be down there were quite a few reflections of Franco. Young and fat, old and fat, and often dressed in something nice. Just the way he liked it.

“So this is what she likes,” he muttered to himself.



“And Shark needs to get on that teen sculpture,” he said, as he passed by Lily’s gallery.



“Yeah, they’ll all spend a lot of their time marveling at the art,” Annette said when Franco met her, one more set of stairs down. “It’s all nice, but I know how nice it is.”

“Geez, how long was I down there for?” he asked.

“An hour! Are you really that conceited? Looking at yourself six times.”

“What can I say? I make for a good statue.”

“I hope your ex-wife makes for a good statue too.” She pointed to one of the ice sculptures in front of them; Pansy in her younger days, in skinny jeans and a cropped jacket, posed pointing up to the ceiling, as if she discovered something revolutionary.



“I mean, Shark did a good job with her,” he said, “And I’m fine with her statue down here. She’s the mother to my daughter. I bet Lily will appreciate it when she’s down here with us.”



“But I think there’s one I like a lot better,” he continued.

“You are maturing, aren’t you? Anyways, the ambrosia is in the replicators. The buttons should speak for themselves.”



Although he accidentally synthesized an empty plate at first, Franco pressed the right buttons, from the arrow keys to select a meal to figuring out the difference between “Replicate” and “Nuke From Memory.”

Annette kept the head of the table clear for him.



Who didn’t want to feel like a king, after all?

“Doesn’t it taste like dirty socks?” she asked, “I just don’t want you to get turned off to it. The stuff’s an acquired taste.”



“It’s made from the most expensive ingredients on the market. I’m enjoying it for that reason alone!” He didn’t cringe once at the smell of deathfish, made worse by sitting in the replicator for quite a while. A small amount of research told him that deathfish were as expensive as their eggs. Annette didn’t have the heart to tell him that she got them for free.



He ate every bite with contentment, savoring the silky life fruit pulp, the smooth custard base that almost fell through his fork, and Annette’s secret spice blend. All while Annette’s face tensed up when she chewed, still unsure of the taste after all those years.



“Alright kid,” she said, rising from her seat in a rush of rainbows, “It’s your turn.”



“Just do the dishes,” he said, with his trademark scowl. Annette sat back down in defiance. The rainbows still engulfed him regardless, rejuvenating his digestive system, and eliminating maybe one wrinkle from his face. The whole thing felt insignificant, actually, as if he was cheated out of the deal.

“I know it feels like nothing,” Annette said, “But one or two hundred years from now, you’ll thank me. We might be old, but it’s better than the alternative!”

“Yeah, I’ll smile then.”



“But as I said, you’re here. It’s a smooth, kinda boring ride for the next few centuries. You’re up for it, right?” She looked her son in the eye, just for a split second. He still scowled, more than even his father could manage.

“I don’t want you to be miserable,” she continued, “We’re here for eternity and it’s not worth it if I have to look at you being grouchy all the time. If something’s wrong, let’s fix it before a century passes, okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said, “Grouchy is who I am. I’m feeling...well, I think things are going pretty well for me.”

“That’s great. No regrets now?”

He looked down the hall, right at the statue of Hannah and the commanding tenseness captured in her face with that pose, her delicate jawline, and even her lush eyelashes that were replicated in the statue.

“Not at all.”

Annette heard a car honk its horn, even two floors underground. “Looks like I’m out. Glad to hear that things went right for the two of you. I was rooting for you guys all along.”

Franco made his way to surface a little more slowly, perhaps appreciating the wallpaper, or slowed down and sapped of energy after a sleepless night. When he got inside the house, two chainsaws still buzzed, but kids’ music played on the stereo, and Pansy was curled up in a fetal position on the couch, with her head resting on the arm.

“Is this something we can talk about?” he asked her.

“Just time catching up with me.”

“Anything I can help with? Look, I’m always here for you to vent to. I don’t mind it. Honest.”

She stood up, approaching her ex-husband. Pansy’s brows were slightly furrowed, but only a little bit. In fact, she came off as deadpan. Her mouth forced itself into a slight frown.

“Notzo’s dead.” She then climbed the stairs and went to bed early.

Franco would have offered her a comforting hand if she wanted it, but he opened the door to Pansy’s bedroom (really Julian’s, but he got used to not sleeping), to see her really asleep, with the blanket pulled over her head.

“Good-night,” he whispered, but she didn’t wake up from it. He made a mental note to ask Annette to grill some hamburgers with lettuce and mango salsa, Pansy’s favorite toppings, just to cheer her up a bit. However, someone waited for him a few rooms over.



Hannah was awake. She didn’t take a hot bath and downed only half a pint of cookie dough ice cream, but she had a fulfilling nap in Franco’s bed, even in spite of her preference for softer mattresses (Franco liked them firm). When he sat down on the bed and fluffed his pillow, Hannah relaxed on top of the covers, with her hands folded on top of her belly and her eyes flirtatiously following Franco.

“I had a good nap, but I probably would have slept better with you,” she said, “Ready for a good night?”

“Ready for this one and plenty of others,” he said.



He put his arm around her, over her shoulder, while she rested her head on his shoulder. She used her free arm to hug Franco around his chubby waist, her other hand entirely occupied by his fingers and all the fat padding them.

“I missed moments like this,” she said, “I always liked the way you felt. Really soft and cuddly and, well, kind of dreamy!” She laughed a bit, almost out of embarrassment. “I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I mean, where would you be without a woman who liked big men? Your mum couldn’t keep her hands off your dad, could she?”

“Oh believe me, I know.” He still remembered walking in on them skinny-dipping, or breaking the shower by being rough together, “Strange how you go from a little twig of a man to me in the space of a few hours.”

“I’m just that open-minded.”

“Are you open-minded about something else?” he asked, slyly winking at her. “You might look like you’re ready to pop, but we can still get under the covers.”

“I’d rather sleep first. Plus, nothing wrong a bit of morning woohoo tomorrow, right?” Hannah turned over on her left side, pulling the covers up and sinking into the soft, hardly-used pillow on her side. Franco came back into the bedroom after a few minutes, in his bathrobe. After losing a night of sleep, he couldn’t blame Hannah for wanting it. He still got close to her, though, lying down on his left side too and pressing himself right up against her back. He found her right hand and clutched on to it.

“It’s easy to fall asleep with you,” she said, with a yawn, “Like sleeping on a cloud.”

“Looks like this will work out after all,” he said. For an hour or two, Hannah fell asleep and woke up intermittently. Franco got in and out of bed intermittently all the while. A snack before bedtime, then being surprised by prom night being that night and escorting Lily out the door to the limo rented for her and her only. He finally returned, ready to sleep, to a somewhat-awake Hannah.

“You know, it’s my birthday today,” she said, in a low, tired tone. “I’m a little scared now.”

“Why?” asked Franco.

“Wonder what it means for the nooboo.”

She soon found out. She sprung out of bed very suddenly, seized up by pain and pressure in her abdomen.



“Okay, no more wondering!” she exclaimed.



“Franco, just help me!”



He panicked. Considering that he missed his own daughter’s birth, he never witnessed one and devolved into senseless panic and fear when it came time for his stepson to be born.



All the noise woke Pansy up, much to her chagrin. Or so she thought that was what woke her up.

She always thought that her dad’s name was a little odd. Phoenix Prudence; why the mythology theme? But death and instant rebirth marked his life, taking his wife during childbirth and leaving him with newborn Pansy in return. Once she learned the story, Pansy understood a little more, even though the name was likely a coincidence, and misplaced, because he didn't die or get reborn.

Of course, she knew that Hannah was pregnant. The new nooboo supplies and the sonogram picture hanging from a magnet on the fridge told the story without Hannah actually needing to.

Death. Rebirth. Pansy remembered, finally, that she was 90 at the time. And Notzo was the same age as her.



“I’d think this is crap, but in all honesty, I’m ready,” she said, once the whole situation was made clear.

Franco heard something, even though he was six feet away from a screaming, laboring Hannah. He walked to Pansy’s room, where he heard the noises coming from. It sounded like a spectral vacuum or spiritual white noise, deafeningly loud and enough to be heard over Hannah and from a few rooms over.



“Crap, not tonight,” he said, holding back a tear.

Grim, unusually cordial, opened the door to the bedroom. “Ms. Prudence, I made sure not to be late.”

“Let’s do this in the next room, Grimmy,” she said, “I’m gonna say what I need to in private.” However, she failed to realize that the walls were pretty flimsy for a such a big house. Franco heard it all.



“Just be kind! It’s been a hard life. No infernal toilets or whatever nasty things you have down there for me, okay?” Pansy was on her knees before the one in the black robes.

“I wasn’t planning on it. I’ve been watching. You were a great police officer, an excellent mother, a good girlfriend. Why should we let Notzo wait much longer? He’s been waiting since noon.”



“Well," she said, hanging her head down and laughing a bit, "I guess I’ll just dive in.”

Franco went out to place her tombstone that night. Grim left her with the big obelisk that matched the other three in the family plot. After heaving the hunk of stone down to its location, he tried to rush home in order to help bring his stepson into the world.



But before he could get in the police cruiser, Hannah had that covered by herself.



In a rush of sparkles and rainbows, and with a big push, Hannah held up a gurgling little boy, with ruddy skin and his father’s indigo eyes.

“Goodness, you’re a cutie,” she said to him, choked to a whisper again.

She held him close to her bosom. Her little package of joy, reaching out at her loose strands of hair with perfect little hands.

“Hey there Hephaestus. I’m...oh my god, you're just amazing. That's all.”



Word Count for this chapter: 2,430
Word Count so far: 61,198

Hephaestus was named in honor of a sim from a very old game. The original Hephaestus was an ex-IF (made over to look unique, of course), and my first inventor. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus is the god of craftsman, blacksmiths, and other related things, including sculptors, and what else would I use a new mortal kid for? :P Considering that Hephaestus is also described as malformed or even ugly, it made a bit of cruel sense to name a Bayless kid after him.

(Though, aside from the comment about his eye color, the genes Hephaestus got will be under wraps until he's a toddler. Horrible or hunky, what will he be?)
No respect, no chance, cease and desist when I chant-

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