Author Topic: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty ("Complete")  (Read 203931 times)

Online Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 73, 8/1)
« Reply #345 on: August 01, 2014, 01:13:27 AM »

That...was definitely unexpected. Poor Heph, not even knowing he had a son! Clearly this doesn't seem to faze Tegan though. :)

Hephaestus would have to do a lot to fall out of Tegan's favor.

Heph has a son!  Oh my!  That is wonderful and oh so sad at the same time...

Poor kid had to become a mere cameo character. Sad indeed. :(

This story is so convoluted and awesome. I really enjoy your writing and can't wait to see where this goes next! Also, building mansions? Looking forward to seeing those. I've never been able to build well and love getting to see nice buildings!

Bleh. I hope the mansion is worth it. I like building, but I have a tall order for this story.

*blinks* Have I made it at last to the current end of the thread? I have! I'm all caught up!

And boy, what a ride it was! This is a really impressive dynasty, and it just oozes care and thoughtfulness. Your writing is, as always, excellent, and your layering of narrative just shows how much sheer patience (which I find more impressive than anything else) you've put into it. I'm certainly looking forward to the rest!

And reading it all on a binge has me thinking about a few ideas for my own dynasty...

Congrats on making it through 110,000+ words! Clearly, only the brave make it through.

Thanks for all of the kind compliments! It does take a lot of patience on my end.

Can't wait to see what ideas you got. ;)

Want some more of Trip's writing? Then look no further! I started a domination dynasty, though I can't promise fast updates on it. I can't even promise them here. But it's now an alternate way to get your daily (weekly, or whatever) dose of me. ;)

Chapter 73: Think Pink

“My fingers have gone kinda numb,” Hephaestus said, after finishing another ice sculpture, “Keep doing what you do, Tegan. I have a surprise for tonight.”

“Something that makes your aura glow in stunning lilac?” she asked.

“You know me well,” he grinned.

Until night fell over Champs Les Sims, the four of them worked on what they could manage to do. Tegan still wallowed in a widget-groove with those fun, mesmerizing drinking llamas, and amassed a pile of them at her feet. Lily felt competitive and churned out ice sculptures before Hephaestus one-upped her with them. Bronson did strength training, as the safety officers for the space program would let him man the first flight as long as she could prove his strength in old age.

And Hephaestus?

Well, the potential for cleaner sheets was extremely important. He washed a load of laundry that made fresh linen smell like musty gym gear in comparison.

The last step was to make sure that Bronson was occupied for the night. Exercise put a toll on his old bones, and he walked outside for a breath of clean French air while he drew a hot bath in order to soothe his aches and pains. Instead of relaxing with grapefruit bubble bath and a glass of bubbly nectar, Bronson found himself hexed. Mildly.

No, he didn’t die, but Bronson also felt himself getting far more warty than the average old man.

“It worked!” Hephaestus exclaimed.

“I don’t like you,” Bronson said.

“I think you’re pretty cool. Just kiss your wife and you’ll be all set.”

Unlike most nights, getting a smooch from Lily was a grueling task. However, it kept the adults distracted while the teen and the other adult went out on an excursion of Hephaestus’ choice. There were two options: the cemetery, or the old burial grounds. Either way, Hephaestus wanted Tegan to see what he saw, or get her understanding.

They arrived via the Motive Mobile, so they could keep at the ghost-watching all night. They could go to the nectary and steal grapes if they got hungry, or drink from the pristine, untouched-by-industrial-forces river if they were thirsty.

Tegan saw a cloud of pink smoke off in the corner, while Hephaestus was busy scouting around for spirits in a different part of the cemetery.

“Heph!” she cried out, but he had a spell on his tongue.

What was it with him and fire? Tegan panicked, even though he had his emergency fire extinguisher tucked in the elastic waistband of his boxers (hey, he had to carry it somewhere). He ice-blasted the flame instead, which did the trick. But while Hephaestus marveled at his magic, with his vision obscured by an icy cloud, Tegan noticed something else off in the distance. Still pink.

A ghost on a bike? Why wasn’t Hephaestus going nuts over it? Tegan was instead, beating herself up over ever thinking that Hephaestus was delusional about ghosts. She had to tell him about that. He had an excursion lined up for the Celtic Burial Grounds the next night, so maybe she could format it into a ghost story.

Conveniently for the two of them, Lily and Bronson planned their own camping trip for the same night. After taking a deep breath and kissing Bronson the toad, Lily needed to celebrate having her love back as a wrinkly human. She threw in her pajamas as a bonus.

Before curling up in the tent nearby for some remote, outdoors woohoo, Lily and Bronson held hands and marveled at the wonderful life they had, although he asked about Tegan and where she was that night.

“Oh honey,” Lily said, with a dreamy gaze in her eyes, “Probably talking Hephaestus out of a trip to the burial grounds. I trust her with that. I don't need anymore blabber from his tomorrow about ghosts.”

That was the biggest extent of Tegan’s debauchery, roasting marshmallows at an ancient, sacred site.

“You know, you might be on to something about ghosts,” Tegan said. Hephaestus lit up at those words, right in the middle of biting into a gooey, warm marshmallow.

“I’m so happy! Describe it to me.” She did. Transparent and pink, but distinctly human and female, right down to a head of hair tied back in a messy bun. The ghost rode a bike.

“Those aren’t ghosts,” he said, “I’ve never seen anything like that. Ghosts are demonic, and twisted from what the once were. It’s a reflection of their souls, not their bodies. I see my father a lot, as a smoky bloodhound, but he wasn’t a bloodhound in the slightest.”

She wanted solidarity. It had to be a ghost, but maybe he still saw those and they just appeared in different. Yes, Tegan accepted that.

“I guess I was mistaken. Sorry! Any more marshmallows in the bag?”

After that night, ghosts became a slight interest of Tegan’s, though Lily and Bronson didn’t have any stories about them in their own lives, just rumors of spirits haunting the old Racket mansion and the like. It was a start for Tegan. Maybe she’d see one too, but that was for later, when she grew up into a legal adult. As a teenager, her biggest concern was prom.

Another night, Tegan and Hephaestus went to the nectary, as France’s drinking age was low enough for Tegan to drink from the glasses they served, as long as she had an ID or a lot of money on hand. She smiled for the whole car ride there, breathing in the scent of scrap metal and Dr. Bronner’s Soap that always surrounded Hephaestus.

“I’m limiting you to two glasses tonight,” he said, flatly, “But I trust you. You might even meet some nice.”

Tegan, sweet as she was, had a wild side that sent her straight for the nectar racks in the basement, where the owners kept the old and dry stuff. Maybe she just wanted to impress grandpa Franco when she arrived home. She paid no attention to the other patrons, from the elders to the lone teenager sipping on nectar from a bottle as old as Annette.

Hephaestus had little interest in the world of juice and nectar and other cocktails and concoctions, even though his adopted family kept vast stores of drinks in the cabinets under the counters. He saved drinking for when grief might actually strike, which until that night, it never did enough for him to need to drink. Not even Hannah’s death spurned that, but something horrified him that night at the nectary.

“Peapod, one bottle of the oldest stuff here, stat!” She swore he was joking, but in obedience to her lilac prince and guardian for the night, she poured him four glasses from the bottle.

Hephaestus regained his composure and faced the horror right as Tegan poured him a sharp, dry nectar. It turned out that Lily was right about Heph’s mistake some years back. The young man introduced himself as Battiste Morel, and unless Bianca did some horrible harvesting of Hephaestus’ DNA, he indeed produced that son during his last vacation to France.

He motioned for Tegan to put the tray down and give it to whoever wanted a taste of long-aged nectar (it went quickly), and instead talked to his son for the first time, for the sake of learning everything about him. Battiste, what a guy. He was a Leo with a taste for pop music and a small chance of getting on France’s national football team once he was old enough for try-outs. And he was a mere year younger than Tegan.

On the outside, Battiste had every appearance of Hephaestus, aside from the hair and the lighter eyes, and the former just needed some time to develop on Battiste. With enough self-awareness to realize that he was a 10/10 stunner of a man and that his son wasn’t too far behind in attractiveness, Hephaestus introduced his son to his step-niece, after Battiste complained about the snobbiness of the French girls he knew.

“Ah, the lovely southern girls!” Battiste said, upon shaking hands with Tegan for the first time.

“Sure?” Tegan said, remembering that all she saw in the mirror back home was her wide nose and teenage angst, and that she didn’t have a prom date either.

Their conversation was spent with half-hearted flirting, lots of soccer enthusiasm from Battiste, and Tegan nodding and not saying much, just as Hephaestus did. As much as Battiste was a spitting-image of his father, nothing clicked between him and Tegan, and his outrageous French accent didn’t salvage the uninteresting young man she was with. But after that, she and Hephaestus got into an impassioned discussion about physics in the car on the way back to the house, and how to fine-tune machines better. They could hang out for hours in the garden, with a pitcher of lemonade and all of the passion in the world for gears and metalworking, while Battiste would kick a soccer ball around and look at Tegan’s widgets with confusion.

Oh well. Her prospects for prom weren’t so great, and Battiste would be a nice piece of eye candy to slow dance with. She asked Lily if it was possible, and Lily turned to Bronson, who then rattled off all of the red tape that the French boy would need to go through in order to attend prom in Twinbrook for just one night. Tegan dodged a bullet, and faced one too. The last singleton left in school was none other than Bryant.

He sent her a text the next night, of a box he made in woodshop. First time here. Pretty proud of it. The class would get to metalworking and mechanics too, and soon Bryant and Tegan would share an interest. She wanted to sob at the thought of it, but she saw through to Bryant a little more. No matter what past they had, the guy was human underneath.

The question of Bryant gnawed at her right until the last morning of their trip.

Tegan and Hephaestus shared breakfast at the café, with the heavy old cashier still wary of Hephaestus and his madness. She still served him and the girl crepes when he paid up. They made small talk, about the intricacies of ice sculpting and Tegan’s adventure with repairing the leaky sink in a plumbing emergency. She mentioned Bryant, and how her feelings changed.

“Really?” Hephaestus asked, before assessing the situation. No, it was still wrong, but he had to have tact. “I mean, you guys were bitter enemies just last year.”

“Well, he doesn’t deserve to be the only kid going alone! I want to see him smile, that’s all. Smiles are good.” She admired Hephaestus’ own grin, the wide mouth and those thin lips. Tegan smiled back at him.

“It’s a nice thing you’re doing,” he said, finishing up the last of his crepes. Hephaestus remained silent for most of the rest of the day, finishing up a stubborn marble sculpture, and standing by with a fire extinguisher in case Tegan’s blowtorch malfunctioned again. The two of them didn’t talk on the plane either, instead electing to try and sleep. Tegan succeeded. Hephaestus got the window seat and listlessly stared out at the dark clouds over the ocean. Sleep wasn’t coming. He slouched in his seat.

He needed a good love story to cheer him up. When they arrived home, Hephaestus ran into the ultimate horror: Franco with an ear-to-ear grin. He carried a few nooboo supplies in his arms, and the first assumption from Hephaestus was that Franco absolutely wasn’t finding true love again, but that he knocked up some woman anyways.

“Who’s the lucky mother?” Hephaestus asked, facetiously.

“This isn’t what you think,” Franco said, “It’s much better.”

While the four of them were away in France, Franco tired of eating his mother’s cooking alone, and headed to the bistro for an early dinner of worse quality, but it was a change from the usual. He set out to eat it alone outside, but then he heard loud vomiting from the next table.

If it was a stranger, he would have vacated the premises and grabbed some hot dogs at the grocery store for supper instead, but his darling Nellie was the one doubled over, emptying out her stomach contents instead. He called her over, asking if she wanted a glass of water to clear her throat after that.

“Sounds good,” she said.

Franco sighed at the sight of his gorgeous, grown-up daughter. With her laugh lines and first grey hairs, where did the time go? At least her square jaw and beautiful, full lips stayed with her throughout the ordeal of middle age.

“Is Bunny’s cooking that bad?” Franco joked.

“Nah. I’m pretty mean. I’ll let you guess this one,” she said, taking a sip of water as Franco doled out answers.

“Raw catfish turned out to not be a good idea after all?” She shook her head no. “Car ride was tough?” Nope. “Hit your gag reflex?” Nah. “Thought it was a good idea to smell my son-in-law’s used gym equipment?” It was a good idea, but no.

“Geez, dad, you’re reaching,” she said. He then gave her a sly look.

“Are you and Dustin going to make me a grandfather again?”


Word Count for this chapter: 2,220
Word Count so far: 125,011

Let's just remember that Franco and Carmen, neither of them really stunners, made that daughter. Nellie is probably one of the best sims that this dynasty produced, definitely in the top ten (among many, many sims that featured in this dynasty). I decided that she needed a spare line of her very own, and totally not because she had her grandpa Harwood's lovely mouth. No way.

You'll be seeing more of those Nellieboos, for sure.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 73, 8/1)
« Reply #346 on: August 01, 2014, 07:47:20 AM »
Okay, that last part with Franco and Nellie was all kinds of sweet and adorable. Dustin...Knack, right? Nice mix of genetics there. ;)

But Tegan is flirting with trouble by choosing to go to prom with Bryant! She is only setting herself up for heartache.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 74, 8/5)
« Reply #347 on: August 05, 2014, 07:42:42 AM »
Okay, that last part with Franco and Nellie was all kinds of sweet and adorable. Dustin...Knack, right? Nice mix of genetics there. ;)

But Tegan is flirting with trouble by choosing to go to prom with Bryant! She is only setting herself up for heartache.

Yep, the Knack boy. Good genes indeed!

That she was, but as smart as Tegan is, she's definitely one of those people with too big of a heart. All I can say for her future is that she indeed ran into heartache.

Chapter 74: Trilby and Top-Hat, Ready to Hang Up

While Hephaestus came home to Franco, the cheerful new grandfather-to-be, Lily found Julian’s room deadbolted up again. He texted her on the trip with the same make it stooooooooop message a few times, making Lily almost as worried for his well-being as he was each morning over whether he put his razor away or not.

She knocked on the door three times. Julian threw a glass paperweight at the locked door, creating a sickening, shattering sound on impact.

“Get away from me you creep,” he snarled, exhaling heavily, “I’d rather die than share this house with you.”

“Julian, the hell?” Lily asked. He opened up.

“I’m sorry, flower,” he whispered, “Can you come in to talk?” She did, sitting on his aqua, flannel blanket yet again.

“Life is really cruel to you, isn’t it?” she asked, “I guess, if it isn’t me, it’s Gram.” Julian nodded. Lily clasped his hand in hopes of comforting him. “Talk if you must.” He didn’t cry, but his cheeks filled with blood and turned pink. His face clenched up with anger and sheer disgust.

“She’s going mad, that’s what,” Julian said, “I really can’t believe her. She got drunk one night, again, and I was getting to bed. And then she…she just fell…”

“…onto me.”

“Like, kissing?” Lily asked, regarding his vagueness. Julian meekly nodded.

“Oh hell no, that’s gross,” she said.

“And she called me ‘Bill’ the whole night. She hasn’t let up either, saying that she misses him so much and that I’m the next best thing alive for her, and that it’s fine because I’m a sad widower too. I almost stabbed her with the fork because she tried to attack me with a tongue-kiss yesterday morning.” He leaned in close to Lily. “I’ve lived here for my whole life. I’ve had enough of her.”

“There are a lot of good things in this house,” Lily said.

“Like you, of course.”

“And, I know that Gram has her own awful bits, but I’ve had to think about living forever, and you know, I have to. And she has to do it for longer than any of us. I have to cry if I think about ever having to live without Bronson, but he’s here for now. Her husband isn’t.”

“Why are you siding with her?”

“I’m not, but she’s not the devil. I’ll talk to her about it, if she hasn’t gotten the message already. Understand?”

Julian hugged her with his most forceful grip. “I do, I do,” he said, “I guess it can’t get any worse.”

It couldn’t get worse for Julian, not even death could, considering that he passed 100 in great health. Being the oldest mortal in the household, things couldn’t get worse for the ancient Julian, but everyone else was fair game. Hephaestus came home crying one day, unusual for him, which caught Julian’s attention. Hephaestus, being (relatively) young, had a lot that could go worse for him. Future heartbreak, family rivalries, impending middle age slowing down his Mach 1 metabolism, there was an entire list of what could still go wrong for him. Ways that he could suffer. Ways that he could suffer over the affairs of his porcelain peapod.

“What happened?” Julian asked.

“She did it,” Hephaestus said, with a blank stare, “She really asked out that Bryant kid.”

“Virgil’s son, right?” Julian asked. He knew Virgil from a few interviews. While a bit of a hermit, Virgil angered both the military and the newspaper from the comfort of his computer and an internet connection, the former through denying that Simnation had a legitimate space program and insinuating that they were wasting their budget on lavish after-work parties (Bronson wished that was the case). The latter was merely annoyed, because Virgil brought his ideas to the press and demanded interviews that the reporters caved into on slow news days. They also uncovered, of course, his side-blog of despicable ideas about the roles of women in society too, and reported those. Julian had his problems with the family for those reasons.

Hephaestus nodded to Julian’s question.

“What a bad idea of hers, if Virgil managed to raise any sort of pathetic trilby-fanatic like himself…wait, that’s the same kid she knew in elementary school, isn’t it? The outrageous jerk himself?”

Hephaestus nodded again.

“Well, rotten fruit comes from sick vines. I’ll have to talk to her about that. Trust me with it, I can give tough love, I think. I just know that you can’t. You’re just a ball of love.”

Hephaestus nodded to that as well. Just love.

Tegan came home from school with a peaceful, relaxed smile on her face and completed homework assignments tucked under her arm. With prom coming up that weekend, she got everything completed so she could focus on shining her shoes for the event.

Julian had no time for questions. He stopped Tegan as soon as she put her books down on the floor, fists clenched and face channeling the Rotter rage he inherited.

"Did something go wrong with Annette again?" she asked, "it's terrible that it keeps happening."

"Hephaestus told me all about your date," he said, "You're such a smart girl! How could you do something so stupid like that? There are so many other guys in Twinbrook for you."

"Please, I just want to do some good for everyone," she pleaded, "I don't want it to be a long-time thing, but I wanted him to have a nice night. He's a changed man! He hasn't said anything bad in a year!"

Julian was poised to slap Tegan, just to teach her some sense over that boy, but his palm got within a foot of her face before he drew it back. “I’ll bring this up with your parents.” Julian walked away stiffly, but Hephaestus stayed around, with a worrying gaze.

“Heph, you saw it all,” she said, “He seemed fine.”

He wanted to say that it seemed so wrong, but he watched her and Bryant for the whole time.

Bryant greeted her with a bear-hug in his solid, chunky arms, while Hephaestus pretended to grill hot dogs and lovingly squeeze a line of Tegan’s favorite Dijon mustard on them. He ate all eight of them, because Bryant distracted her without cruelty, for once.

“I sent you another pic of a box, but I don’t think you got it,” he said, “Shop Class is so much fun.”

“I guess I didn’t. I really like your work there, though,” said Tegan, “You know, I’ve been thinking about what you said some nights ago, about prom.”

“What, you mean it?” he asked.

“I don’t want to go alone, and it breaks my heart to think that I could be the one thing standing between you having a good time or not.”

By the time Hephaestus finished all but one hot dog, bun and all, Tegan and Bryant slipped back into platonic conversations about gears, with Tegan giving him a cheat list of what to expect to do in Shop when they got to the mechanics unit, including answers to a few standard physics questions on one quiz, “because I’d hate to stand between you and success too.”

When the last hot dog was on the plate, he was ready to vomit the other even, and not just because seven hot dogs put a strain on his stomach.

“You know, I’ve never been kissed before,” Bryant said.

“Shucks, neither have I. It’s not like I’m hankering for one-“

“Do you want to be the one standing between me and my first kiss?”

As it turned out, Tegan didn’t want that either. Not on her heart. As for Hephaestus, he gulped his last hot dog whole in shock and horror, though he grilled up two for Tegan afterwards, considering that she would likely be hungry. Not even mistakes could strip a sim of the privilege of hot dogs. Especially not for her.

“He seemed to behave,” Hephaestus mumbled, “You can’t blame me for being wary.”

“I’m not! You’re a beautiful, kind man in all of this, but aren’t there so many woman begging at their feet for you?” He shook his head no. Tegan sulked.

“Well, I can’t go back on my promise to him. He’s a changed man. I don’t care what I am to him! If I make him happy, either just for one night, or if I’m his girlfriend after this, I’ll feel a lot better.”

She went to prom that weekend, an indoors one on one rainy night. She and Bryant linked arms for a photo, though he curiously wore his usual white sweater and sneakers to prom that night. They danced and drank punch, snacked on catered fingers foods, and even danced to a few songs. They sloppily made out in a corner just to say that they did it once in their lives, after all of their classmates moved on to making out in locker rooms before gym class or on the jungle gym when a bunch of elementary school students were clamoring to use it for actual playtime.

More importantly, Bryant decided to act like Bronson did to Lily years ago at their own prom. “We’re having fun. I’d be euphoric if we made this official.”

“The relationship?”

“Right on.”

Hephaestus grit his teeth when he picked up Tegan from the dance, and when she recounted the night’s events to him, stuttering and rubbing the back of her neck as she told it.

It didn't ruin their after-party for the night: hours of doing what they did best at the abandoned fire station.

It might seem as though Tegan’s story was the biggest story in the family. It would make sense that Lily would have her own role in her daughter’s saga with Bryant. However, something far more dire to Lily boiled under her feet, between using permanent marker to fend off the army of grey hairs outnumbering her black ones, and debating on whether it was time to retire her low-rise jeans for something mature.

She forgot about her career at points, and mediocrity caught up to Lily too late, though she had time to fix it if she spent her old age in hyper-focus.

Lily caught Kelley the proprietor when he wasn’t distracted and reviewed the upcoming gig schedule with him. He had a slot for directly after her elder birthday, when she would need to find a new fit of blazer for her uniform and a crate full of permanent markers for her upcoming silver hair to get a similar effect when performing.

She could make that work, but after much thought during stage clean-up volunteering (whatever it took to get on Kelley’s good side), Lily hung up her top-hat for one night only, and made the call to reserve The Grind for her last big bash.

With the dials on the fog machines turned up to their max effects, Lily breathed in the intoxicating chemical smoke and danced with her husband for the last time she could while wearing a dress that figure-flattering again. Everyone else poured in to get a drink or three or five (Annette got the invite too, after all) poured.

“What the hell, no cherry garnishes?” Buck asked, after returning an ungarnished cocktail to the bartender, who had an empty wooden tray that held a small puddle of red syrup instead of candied cherries, “What sort of host are you?”

“Oh, blame it on the old hag who can’t get ahead in her career!” Lily yelled, “That’s it. We’re not besties.” Buck smashed a stray margarita glass on the ground and stormed out of the party. Lily took after her grandma and downed a whole tray of drinks as midnight grew closer.

It made her and Bronson beasts on the dance floor, but they had enough body mass to metabolize a few shots. Hephaestus and his willow-thin frame, on the other hand, grew tipsy after one glass of nectar, but Annette forgot that one night and drunkenly jabbed him in the ribs while leading a strong cocktail closer to him. “You build up resistance that way,” she said, before passing out in the bathroom draped over a rarely-cleaned toilet.

He stayed upright. Too upright. The tall tables of The Grind called to him, as they had just enough room for him to shuffle his feet and shake his plaid sarong four and a half feet off the ground. The rough wood that left a collection of splinters in the soles of his feet didn’t register after the haze of juice overtook his already-deluded vision.

“Watch me Twinbrook!” he yelled, hoarse, and as if the spirit of drunk Annette took him over instead. He climbed the barstool, and then stood upright on the table.

“Keep shaking it!” Tegan cheered, pointing and smiling at the shirtless man club-dancing on the raised pub table. No one told Lily about what Annette had in mind about him, and what Franco agreed to. Leave it for when she’s an adult, they planned, and when we have a story that doesn’t make it seem like he’s been waiting it out for years until she was legal. Because of that, Lily took it as some harmless appreciation on Tegan’s end. Approaching middle age at Mach 2, Hephaestus still had the chiseled charm of a young university freshman, beard and all.

Lily waited until most of the guests dissipated before she set up the cake and inhaled with her entire lung capacity. Her family stuck around, dreaming of dinner arrangements or getting to fairly compare wrinkles again.

“I just need to look good for later,” she mumbled, trying to catch each falling sparkle of pure birthday magic and instant menopause before it could explode in front of her.

Looking good? She tried her best, deciding on a mini-dress while Bronson was still alive to enjoy the view it gave. If it worked for Hannah and Franco, it would work even better for the withered legs of an avid runner.

Lily relaxed at home the morning before one of her final shows, clad in a flannel onesie and leaning back with 24 ounces of green tea. She looked up at the hazy blue sky and pretended to follow a small dot, hoping that it was her Bronson. The space program completed everything for the maiden voyage, much to Virgil Moreno’s chagrin and denial. Takeoff was the night before, and she locked her eyes on the spacecraft as she watched from the guard-rail. The vessel carried past-retiring-age Bronson and a few new recruits that they wouldn’t mind losing if something went wrong. But no reports of exploding engines or malicious aliens came through to the news, so Lily breathed a sigh of relief. She just missed her husband in what could be his last days.

She was drawn to the kitchen by the splattering oil of sizzling French toast, with a plate and a side of strawberries set aside for her. Annette smiled as she pushed the plate in Lily’s direction, syrup pooling on the bottom with the strawberry juice, making for a tooth-rotting concoction that everyone cherished.

“I know it’s not Bronson on a plate, but I did my best,” Annette said.

“Accepted. I’m hoping for a good one tonight.”

“How many more after this?”

“As many as it takes.”

“So, how do you feel about Tegan’s new squeeze?” Annette asked.

“Not a huge fan, but dad didn’t like Bronson much at first, so I’m not gonna say a word,” said Lily, drinking four ounces of tea in one gulp. Her old voice was as smooth as petrified wood after the liquid cleared lingering phlegm, “There are a lot of better choices in town, I will admit, some right under our noses.” Annette perked up, wondering if Lily took a hint and took it well.

“I agree! I see them all the time. You know, lean and lithe types…”

“Like those Whelohff boys!” Lily piped up, “I really can’t think of a better, bigger set of men in town. They’re so perfect and Tegan already hangs with them at school all the time.” Annette nervously laughed.

“They’re nice, but now that I think of it, that Keon is a pretty nice catch, even if he’s chunky.” Annette barely knew his face, but the name came to mind. It still sounded better than “your step-brother is the only way, kiddo.”

“Her math teacher?”

“I mean, he’s young when you think about it for long enough,” Annette said, “But I digress. We’ll let her make the choice. After all, you get only one.”

“Dad and Hannah,” Lily said flatly.

“That was different, and we had a few more free beds back then.”

“You and Julian.”

“Gawd, I apologized, okay? And he’s in the house anyways, and it wasn’t gonna be serious even if I had my way. But remarrying is different and times are a-changing, flower. I want Tegan to make the right choice, because unlike your dad back in those days, we won’t have the room for a redo marriage if things go pear-shaped. Rule of Eight. I see you reading my rules all the time, so I think I can mention this.”

“I know it well, and you are right. But she’s a smart kid. She can probably see what we can’t in Bryant. I’m going to stay positive from this moment on.” Lily sighed, “Just, re-think the whole Julian thing. Maybe there’s something you need to reconcile too.”

“Fine,” Annette scoffed, “Grab me the whipping cream from the fridge, for being so cheeky.” They both laughed it off. “Always stay that way,” Annette said.

Lily had plenty of time ahead to mend turmoil and whatever possessed Annette to cling to Julian even with an apology to him, as victory in her career inched closer and closer. She needed recognition from the International Institute for Performing Arts and Optical Illusion to feel complete, but the agent from the institute that promised to visit Twinbrook to watch her shows kept getting delayed. Bad weather, anthrax scare, got held up at Customs, renewed their Netflix subscription and needed time finally watch Orange is the New Black, you name it.

But all the times he showed up was just practice, perhaps. The green stage lights and wild crowd led to that word that Bryant liked: “euphoria.” Originally something he applied to cold, scientific logic, but he had room in the definition to squeeze in something else entirely.

Elsewhere, with sand in his trousers and the rainbow technophobe clutching his hand on the beach. That was euphoria.

To Franco, it was being able to hold a tiny granddaughter in his arms again. He had two other grandsons from the same “batch” (made him wonder about the true strength of the ancient Dustin), but he could spend hours doting on the little girl with his eyes and her grandma Carmen’s winning smile. That was euphoria.

To Bronson, it was coming home from the maiden voyage, not even taking the time to remove the insulating coveralls that he wore into space. The biggest part of his career reached its apex. That was euphoria.

Lily knew euphoria, and even in the race to success, she rode on an orange wave of it, enough to lift her off the ground and make her forget about the elaborate props used to make the levitation trick happen instead.

The only thing that made euphoria slam its brakes and still crash were the repeated reminders of what was at stake with the last days of her career.

Word Count for this chapter: 3,260
Word Count so far: 128,271
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Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 74, 8/5)
« Reply #348 on: August 05, 2014, 12:48:56 PM »
Oh my XD Poor Julian, being accosted by Annette at random intervals.  *sigh* It makes me sad to know that Tegan is going to get her heart broken...  How close did Lily cut it, Trip?

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 74, 8/5)
« Reply #349 on: August 05, 2014, 07:28:36 PM »
1) Lily is an adorable elder.
2) Bryant's face is boring. I'm officially protesting his genetics.
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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 74, 8/5)
« Reply #350 on: August 05, 2014, 09:12:05 PM »
Tegan is too nice for her own good. The heartbreak she will inevitably feel, though, will only be a harbinger of better things...for who will be there to pick up the pieces but her knight in lilac? :)

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 74, 8/5)
« Reply #351 on: August 07, 2014, 09:41:19 PM »
We're almost at 20,000 views, and we're now the second-most-viewed in-progress immortal dynasty! I'd like to thank you guys for getting me (close to) there. Maybe next chapter we can really celebrate the milestone. ;)

Oh my XD Poor Julian, being accosted by Annette at random intervals.  *sigh* It makes me sad to know that Tegan is going to get her heart broken...  How close did Lily cut it, Trip?

Annette was pretty good with not kissing everyone in sight, but she made an exception for Julian. Lily actually had plenty of time to spare, but I played it up for drama. She was immortalized at 78 days, while most of the other immortals got it done a few days earlier.

1) Lily is an adorable elder.
2) Bryant's face is boring. I'm officially protesting his genetics.

1. She did age pretty dang well.
2. I am too, but my sims don't hear me that well.

Tegan is too nice for her own good. The heartbreak she will inevitably feel, though, will only be a harbinger of better things...for who will be there to pick up the pieces but her knight in lilac? :)

Perhaps one of those nice Whelohff boys (who I swear I'll actually introduce one of these chapters), or underdog Buck Green? (He was a vampire and attended a lot of Tegan's parties) Plus, even though Hephaestus might rescue her from heartbreak, he's old. Our little peapod might need a lot of support through her life...

Chapter 75: Lentils on the Floor

The bag tore. Broom bristles scraped across the floor, collecting the last of a pile of spilled green lentils. Annette needed a new idea for Hephaestus' birthday dinner, considering that a lentil star was on the menu, but maybe he could stand for another mushroom omelet instead.

Lily walked in on the last of the carnage. "Got any other secrets to spill?" She asked. Annette froze.

"What did you find out now?"

"Well, nothing. But the 'spilling the beans' joke couldn't go unnoticed."

"Though that you found out about my secret boy band fanfiction stash." Annette chuckled. "But now that I'm safe, I can order you to wish Heph a happy birthday. You know middle age better than him." She also slipped Lily a business card, done so discreetly that it seemed like she snuck an illegal hen to Lily instead.

Dr. C. Bertone, psychiatrist.
Twinbrook Foundation Hospital, 305B

"But, dad—“

"I have a lot of authority over your old man. Pretending that his step- kiddo is just a little special and perfect without intervention only works when he isn't taking a leak in the neighbor's yard because a demon is haunting our toilet, or when he isn't meditating in the buff due to some inane belief. Keep it hush and hope that Heph takes that bait."

As usual, he woke up, downed a mug of straight black coffee before prepping for a day of ice sculptures. Such a routine was the only thing he got from his grandfather, but it resulted in vast quantities of sculptures that out ranked old Harwood’s by thousands in their worth. Lily felt outright evil for daring to interrupt the prodigy at work, but she stopped the motor of his chainsaw to hand him the business card, with a voucher for $100 to spend on his lavender-scented hippie soap (it ate up his allowance otherwise). He scowled at the word "psychiatrist."

"They're blind is what it is," he said.

"But what if they can help?" Lily asked. "And do you think that you're setting a good example for Tegan by refusing help? She has enough trouble caring for her own well-being, and she looks up to you so much."

He tucked the card info his kilts belt. "I'll consider it. I like the soap, though. You guys won't go back to bar soap after using it!"

"We'll see, kid. Happy birthday."

Hephaestus, aside from dancing on the counter at Lily’s birthday party, was the least party-ready person in the household, and put down his chainsaw to celebrate in solitude as opposed to having Lily’s friends pretend that they knew him like a buddy. He initially shrugged at his new wrinkles, didn't change his wardrobe at all or cut his hair, and still paid little attention to the card that Lily handed him, especially when garlic and mushrooms were sautéing on the stovetop, releasing their delicious scent.

“No crisis?” Annette asked, while plating a mushroom omelet for Hephaestus. He shook his head no.

“Maybe you’ll have an end of life crisis like your dad did, luring some nubile young woman way out of your league and giving her a surprisingly cute nooboo, and then dying.” He didn’t pick up on the hint, or kept a stone-face through it.

“I’ll find a better way to deal with it,” he sighed. He lifted his plate to make sure that no spirit lurked under it, lest he swallow down haunted eggs. “I think Lily has a point.”

“Oh?” Annette asked, faking interest in her own idea.

“Yeah, she…she told me about Dr. Bertone, the psychiatrist. I’m going nuts. Peeing in the Knack’s bushes was a horrible idea.”

“You’re only saying that because the cops busted you on it,” Annette said.

“But there are other things. I guess I’m lacking for friends because of it, and everyone but Tegan and Franco in the house seem a little, repulsed by it? Maybe one of these things needs clearing.”

Annette nodded while scrubbing her pan. She hid a doll under his pillow that night; a sloppy rag doll that she either got from deep family tradition and generations of handing down, or from the shadiest consignment store seller in the state. The note read Use responsibly.

After he agreed to psychiatric care, she trusted the boy with dark magic a little more. How amazing was her persuasion!

Though she used up all of her powers of persuasion on Hephaestus. When Bryant meowed outside of her diner at midnight (after she attended to a rotten mayonnaise emergency; someone needed to tend the walk-in fridge’s temperature better), she grit her teeth and let Tegan either deal with that problem or get some sense into her pretty, ribbon-tied head.

Hephaestus called Tegan the next day, hoping to get some inventing done at the fire station, and to reveal his plans for psychiatric treatment. She was going to be out late, because AP Physics homework would not complete itself without help from a classmate.

“Bryant?” he asked.

“He lives at the end of Poker Flats Drive. You’ll find the house easily.”

After Hephaestus stood at the house at the other end of Poker Flats Drive for thirty minutes, swearing up and down that the spirits of old dynasty founders swirled around the foundation, but not finding a living resident. Then he turned around and got it right, with Bryant greeting him at the door while licking his hand as if it was a cat’s paw in need of cleaning.

“Geez, what a nutcase,” Hephaestus muttered.

Tegan was deep into her last physics problem, pinching her brow as she scribbled countless free-body diagrams on her scratch paper, but never arriving at an answer.

“Looks like I have some competition, babe,” Bryant said, chuckling, “He’s here to pick you up.”

“Get in the car, Tegan. I just want to get to know this guy a little better,” Hephaestus said. After a kiss good-bye from Bryant, she obliged. Maybe the plush seats of the Motive Mobile would give her some extra insight into the last physics problem.

Hephaestus led Bryant outside to the deck, saying that his mind worked better outside, and not within the walls of the house, which swirled with orange, unattached auras…or just more demons and ghosts.

“Just one minute,” Bryant said, leaving Hephaestus alone with a grill and a staircase. Bryant then came out in an alien mask within a minute.

“Why the mask?” Hephaestus asked, “Let’s take this indoors, actually. Don’t need the neighbors snooping.” His heart thumped loudly in his chest as Bryant led him back inside.

“I know you’re gonna judge for my face, because some sad nerd like me doesn’t deserve a pretty girl. But I’d like you to know that I am a nice guy! I hold doors open!” Bryant was pleading at that point, because he saw Hephaestus take a rag doll out from the elastic waistband of his boxers.

“Have you changed at all from when Tegan first met you?” Hephaestus tossed the doll in his hands. “I care about that peapod’s pinky toe more than you care about her.”

“What, are you just counting down to when she’s 18?” Bryant asked. “That’s pretty messed up of you, you know, not very caring. Who’s the big jerk here now? You have that stupid beard going for you in that direction, and your wrinkled, ugly creeperness…”

Hephaestus gripped the rag doll enough to cause one button from it to pop.

“…I think we know who will win this fight, old man.”

“I’ve had enough of you, and we’ve barely known each other for five minutes. Stop running your mouth about me, and how much you care about her more, and stop calling me a creep! I’m her uncle, not a suitor.” He thrust the doll into Bryant’s mask.

“You can’t be using your devil-powers on me!” Bryant attempted to snatch the doll away from Hephaestus, before he tore it from Bryant’s hands again.

“What? Scared that I think you’re the devil of Twinbrook?” he asked slyly, poising the doll near a knitting needle.

“I think you deserve this in a very bad place,” Hephaestus mumbled.

Bryant’s unintelligible screams rang out as Hephaestus jammed the needle into the doll’s coarse, hole-filled, burlap fabric. When Hephaestus stopped, he walked out the door without a word and into a van with a Tegan who was none the wiser.

“You like him yet?” Tegan asked.

“Not in the slightest.”

“Well, he’s a good study buddy,” Tegan said, “And so what if we’re graduating next year? I’ll take it from there afterwards, but I don’t think many guys in town are biting.”

“Why not? You’re such a beautiful young woman,” Hephaestus said, as they drove over the bridge back to the mainland.

“I’m kind of chubby, and I have a wide nose. I was the last one asked to prom—“

“Give it a year,” Hephaestus said. He nearly choked up, and considered adding “and you’re perfect, like a prize-winning life plant vine, and I would kill for a woman half as good as you.” But he bit his tongue and kept driving, before delivering the news of seeking treatment as they pulled up to the curb.

“So, think about what’s good for you,” he said, “Like I’m doing right now.”

Dr. Bertone shoed-in Hephaestus for an appointment at dusk, in his last slot for that day. He walked in gingerly, all the way to the office, to Bertone sitting up pin-straight in his desk chair. His gaze was unengaged, all while Hephaestus listed each hallucination in vivid detail, from smokey ghosts to nymphs breaking the hot tub at the public pool, to the spitting image of Ordog, the Hungarian devil of lore trying to lure him deep into the pit.

“So, how many of these are really what you see?” Bertone asked.

“I don’t even know anymore. I’ve never told anyone this story, but I started…embellishing a while ago, just to make sense of what I see. It started as much a lot of voices, distorted and in languages I don’t know, and once I made myself believe that they had a face and a name, they eventually did.” Hephaestus sighed, reclined back in the psychiatrist’s couch and almost in tears. “It’s all come to a head. I’m friendless and single and…there’s this girl, and I want to present some shred of sanity to her.”

“So you care about people,” Bertone muttered, writing in his notebook.

“I do, especially about her. She’s younger, and maybe there’s something meant to happen. Maybe it’s not, but she’s going for some other psycho in town, who’s a jerk but just less delusional than everyone says I am. He licks himself like a cat a lot.”

Medical ethics forbade Bertone from saying that he saw Bryant twice a week to keep his mind in relative peace. Only one man in Twinbrook groomed himself that way. Bertone nodded along.

“We’re confidential, right?” Hephaestus asked. More nodding.

“Good, because I don’t want to tip the scales here. I’m just despairing, I bet. Thinking that she’s my only chance. I want to get better for her.”

“Tell me more about your symptoms,” Bertone said, “Are you nervous?” Not really.

“Do you feel like someone else, a very distinct person inside of you, is telling you what to do?” Nope. “Do you feel controlled?” Not directly, only through caution against what he saw.

They went back and forth for an hour, with Hephaestus sometimes more interested in falling asleep on the fresh, not-sagging couch cushions. Watery hospital coffee couldn’t keep him awake. Hephaestus lay half in a dozing lull and in a hum of internal brown noise when Bertone got his diagnosis. “Stash Psychosis…varied external hallucinations…25mg.”

“The pharmacy should have this in the next two days,” he finished, “Any questions?”

“Sounded fine.”

The first dose quieted his world down and took the haze away from his line of vision, if adding another layer of haze. Hephaestus nearly fell while standing, often while holding a chainsaw and all alone in the sculpting studio.

Lily had no time to sculpt, after all, or to help her stepbrother as the side effects took a hold on his consciousness. He stumbled and staggered throughout the day, exhausted in a way that coffee couldn’t help.

So while the rest of the household worked, he slept during odd hours, drifting away to the sudden silence that his medicine afforded him.

Lily approached him with the news. “I did it. The Institute finally got their agent out here! I’m recognized!” She finished her last show to overwhelming reviews.

“That’s nice,” Hephaestus said, in a relaxed, drugged voice.

“Is the psychiatrist working out for you?” Lily asked.

“He’s fine.”

“You seem like you’re on a cloud, or in some drugged hell.”


“Liking it?”


He hung up the chainsaw for days at a time, with his focus shifting to alleviating exhaustion that never was alleviated. His focuses fell off him like dead leaves in a breeze, from the ice sculptures to the widgets to cloning to even Doctor Who episodes for when he was bored and when Tegan wasn’t around to gripe about the scourge of television’s influence. Hephaestus instead shut the door to his bedroom and drifted off into a silent world, barely penetrated by his own thoughts.

Food stopped tasting as good, so he ate very little, not needing to keep up his strength against a demonic army. What little was left on Hephaestus’ scrawny frame withered enough for him to lose ten pounds, which was basically all of him. He lay in bed, loopy on the ultimate sedative. And Tegan noticed. She sat at his bedside one afternoon, to her prince weakly smiling.

“You look like hell!” she cried, “Why can’t you just switch meds? Or go off them? I did the research, and Stash is actually pretty harmless. Patients have a very low rate of self-destruction, they’re just not understood.”

“You understood me?”

“Enough to still love you, okay?”

“What about friends and love? I’m…I’m on the track to those now.”

“Not when you’re in your bedroom and wasting away. I’m taking you out somewhere.”


“Wanna play the piano for me again at the lounge? I’ll provide some backup bass, we can jam out again. And I can order some olives and prosciutto for us. I know you like those.”

They took a taxi, as neither of them were in much shape to drive (or in legal standing to; Tegan was still working on that one). Hephaestus stumbled in and slouched over the piano, trying to remember a scale or five, enough for a jam session.

“I don’t care what you do,” Tegan said, “But I thought that you might still like playing piano.”

He played a simple scale, which sent enough energy through him to get his posture straightened out. Hephaestus had his groove back once a double-bass played a groove for him.

Tegan smiled as she repeated the bass line. “I think you still got it, insane or sane.”

He varied his scales enough to make a song, and a sweet piano solo. After both of their fingers ached from the session, they sat down for his promised olives and prosciutto, which he wolfed down, though his eyes still were weighed down and his motions languid.

“It’s not helping, is it?” Tegan asked.

“Depends what you consider help.”

“I can’t control you, but I don’t want to see you suffer. As I said, I understood you enough to care at your most insane. I even believe some of the things you saw.”

“Then why are they all invisible now?” he asked.

“I dunno. Did you stop believing?”

That night, Hephaestus flushed the remainder of his medicine down the toilet, disregarding the withdrawal headache that plagued the two weeks after. He cancelled every appointment with Bertone, lying and saying that he found a better doctor in the rival swampy rust-belt town next to Twinbrook. His vision soon was filled with all of his old friends and enemies from the spiritual world, just the way he liked it. And he had enough energy to keep up with Tegan as she produced heavy boxes of iron widgets and steel floor hygienators.

So while Hephaestus might have disregarded everyone’s advice, the order that was back in the household was cause enough for Lily to cheer, as was her retirement from the performance circuit too. Annette snapped her fingers to wake Lily up one morning, with a silent, knowing stare.

“Ambrosia time?” Lily asked, sleepily.

“Get your nice dress on. I’m not putting mine on just to see you in your jammies.”

“Welcome to my domain,” Annette said, when they were in the basement, casting a look at Lily. “Well, you’re stuff is in the exhibit next to mine. Take all the time you need, until it cuts into my work shift, that is. I’m not trusting those young ones alone in the kitchen for a second.”

“It turned out pretty nice,” Lily said, “Dad, Shark, Julian, everyone. They did so well!”

They went to the last floor to grab their plates of the fishy, foul meal, but then Annette then walked off with her plate. “I’ll leave you kiddos alone. Behave yourselves!”

“Why, mother?” Franco asked.

“I’ll be late to work if I stay down here much longer. As I said, behave. Do as I say, not as I do, because I’m drinking and making bad decisions once work is over.”

Franco sighed. “Never be that way, Lily.”

“Don’t plan on it. It’s not good dynasty behavior. I want to stick to a lot of it. Behaving, having one true love, you know how it is, right?” He didn’t. “Different strokes, then. How is this supposed to taste?”

“It gets worse every year, but I can warm up to not dying,” Franco said.

“I can’t see how this will be worse,” Lily said, flatly, as she took her first bite. Franco dug into the plate at twice the speed. The rainbows of youth surrounded him.

“As I said, it’s easy to love not dying. It’s a horror we’ll never have to face,” Franco said, “I’ll stay down here for you.”

“Well, I like this family enough to live with them. You’re cool, Annette’s cool when she’s sober, and still rather fun when drunk. And I’m down for following some rules.”

“That’s beautiful, flower.”

“I’ll deal with losing my mortals in my own time, though,” Lily said, as she rose from her seat with a rainbow trailing behind her, “I love them all. Bronson, of course, and Julian, and I care about Hephaestus so much.”

“I do too. Heph will make a good son-in-law for you.” Franco wasn’t guarding his mouth. The secret plan slipped out.

“He…what now?”

“Oh, it was just something mum and I were talking about. Lily, don’t get angry over it—“

“You mean that you and Gram were planning for my daughter to marry some guy who will be crusty and dead before she’s through her mid-life crisis, some guy who we all consider to be her uncle?!”

“He’s not blood, and mum and Grandpa Bill had a similar age gap. Don’t hit me, Lily.” A tear rolled down Franco’s cheek. “We’re just thinking about the dynasty with this. And I just want a piece of my soulmate in the family.”

She was poised to sock her father right in the mouth, with enough force to make the front of his smile a toothless void and a dental surgeon’s greatest patient. Her knuckles turned stark white against her magenta flesh, and what little muscle was left in elderhood tightened with her grip. He deserved it. He and that blasted drunk hag deserved hell for encouraging it, from missing teeth to a surprise date with the electrical traps in the Egyptian tombs. But then, she cried and returned to her seat.

“Blast it, how else can this day go wrong?” she cried.

“This can’t be the worst news you’ll hear.”

Indeed, it couldn’t be. Not even for that day.

Word Count for this chapter: 3,349
Word Count so far: 131,620

On a lighter note, have my true favorite screenshot from the timespan of this chapter:

Dustin Knack finally bit the dust! He was, shall I repeat, 118. Argh. I cheered so hard when he gave up the ghost, though in retrospect, his long life allowed him to have kids with Nellie, which helped my dynasty quite a bit.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 75, 8/7)
« Reply #352 on: August 07, 2014, 10:04:14 PM »
Whoa, Franco let the cat out of the bag and Lily reacted about how I thought she would. :P Bronson won't be nearly so restrained though, methinks.

There goes my second favorite mortal. :( Goodbye, Julian.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 75, 8/7)
« Reply #353 on: August 07, 2014, 11:30:38 PM »
Whoa, Franco let the cat out of the bag and Lily reacted about how I thought she would. :P Bronson won't be nearly so restrained though, methinks.

There goes my second favorite mortal. :( Goodbye, Julian.

Of course not, though I don't think anyone will please him.

I know! It was well-beyond Julian's time (he was 109), but I loved him so much. :(

A fun fact about Julian: he produced the most valuable museum piece. He did Lily's elder sculpture, which had a final value of $99,947. So I'm glad he survived for that, because he almost didn't!

Yo, small announcement.

I'm adding Word Counts to the footnotes of each chapter, and you might see that I've done the first two pages of the thread already.

This is so new readers can have a bit of a progress bar, considering how freakin' long this story is getting, and so old readers can see how invested they've gotten into this doorstopper of a dynasty.

This is also to sate my curiosity. Heh.
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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 75, 8/7)
« Reply #354 on: August 07, 2014, 11:53:01 PM »
Wow!  Not Julian!  Noooo!  *sniffle* That makes me so sad...  And Franco!  Can't you keep your mouth shut?  Or at least ease into that kinda thing?  Oy...

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 75, 8/7)
« Reply #355 on: August 13, 2014, 10:55:37 PM »
Wow!  Not Julian!  Noooo!  *sniffle* That makes me so sad...  And Franco!  Can't you keep your mouth shut?  Or at least ease into that kinda thing?  Oy...

I think the excitement of having a little piece of Hannah in the dynasty got the better of him.

And yeah, Julian. He lived a long life, but I think he had a few more masterpiece sculptures left in him! (This was clearly my top priority)

Wow, about a week has gone by. I'm only replying to let people know that:

a. I'm doing fine. I've been more distracted than anything (work, friends, Tumblr...), though I felt burnt-out on the game/things in general for a few days as well.

b. Look, I had to get through a season of House of Cards instead of writing. If you watch it, you know the struggle. ;)

c. 20,000+ views, people! :D
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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 75, 8/7)
« Reply #356 on: August 22, 2014, 07:36:12 AM »
Insert "Trip's been sick and depressed and barely knows how she got this chapter out message" right here.

Chapter 76: Have One on Me

I never listen to my own advice, but the cheapest bottle of juice has its place in the world and in time, a place where its slight tingle in my throat and the condensation forming on the glass surface wash away the worry. But just one drink for tonight, because I’m broke and will probably be dead by the end of this week, and sometimes I’m right about these things, right?

The atmosphere of Tarnished Jazz this basement club, might induce enough of a high to make up for my lack of delicious, bootlegged juice. Scattered orange lamps and candles on the tables fail to deliver the lounge from darkness, and darkness is an intoxicant, in its own way. The patrons talk over the lone jazz pianist, hardly a substitute for a proper singer or rhythm section, but I doubt that the pianist cares. He can keep a 7/4 time signature by himself. He’s good at this. And perhaps I can just regard the background conversation as ambient noise, like the type that makes studying in a coffee shop easier than studying at home.

I’m not here for any of it, though I heard of this club only through the pianist. Tank the pianist, and a man with a threat beneath his angry dark eyes. However serious it was, because we were all drinking that night, after all. Perhaps he is a big marshmallow underneath his frown, and even if he’s a hard cactus instead, I can’t fairly criticize his improvising skills. He plays like a seasoned jazz professional, in spite of looking 35 at most.

Still, it’s hard to disregard Tank’s animosity, piano or no piano, when I have little friendship left from the shady, criminal demons of the city, technicolor or charcoal or tan. Not enough friendship for ammo against what he may know about me. No, Eileen and Arthur and Jamie have used up their patience on me.

But somehow, I ended up at their stomping grounds, the three of them within sight over my right shoulder.

Jamie ordered a drink and gave me a sour glance as the mixologist shook his cocktail, sighing in disgust right after placed the decorative swizzle stick in the beverage. Eileen and Arthur share jokes amongst themselves. I haven’t talked to Eileen ever since she kicked me out of her office, even though I mailed her the check anyways. I nearly burned down Arthur’s business, I could have killed his niece that way. His gregarious smile was absent when I hand-delivered the check to him, with apology in my eyes but not on my tongue.

I wish things could be different, and that I didn’t bungle things so thoroughly with the two of them. I like jokes, and they joke a lot after some bottles of fermented wheat juice, a few salty snacks, and the stress of work (presumably) off their shoulders.

“Tank’s mum is so cold, she’d freeze up Lucky Palms!” Eileen says, roaring into buzzed laughter with her…I don’t even know if Arthur wants me to pretend that he’s her loving husband when I know his true side.

And they’re close enough to joke about Tank’s mother while they’re ten feet behind the war machine of a pianist himself. Maybe I don’t need them. They would back his threats, wouldn’t they? Crap. I hate thinking like this.

Jamie chuckles a bit, and sits down with his golden cocktail, daintily sipping and relaxing into the ambiance of smooth jazz, without even a side-eye towards me. It’s not like Jamie is an untamable beast, but I love to part on bad terms with everyone.

He arrived at my house yesterday, with his stone-like face and hat at a perfect tilt, his shirt artfully tousled and unbuttoned, just like the last time I saw him. He slipped a manila folder out of his jacket and sat down on the couch, straight-backed.

“You found something?” I asked.

“Because you knew where this bug came from, I’m just here to confirm a few things. Was an M. Welker ever involved in the project?” I nodded, still sorry for how far her good heart decayed, or how much Ms. Welker’s wife—my granddaughter—was goading her into this job. But not to burden Jamie with hours of reciting what took up multiple chapters of Eight Ways, I leave it at the nod.

“She arrived in Roaring Heights the day before you found the bug, and she was one of the only repeat passengers from Hidden Springs. I looked into its anatomy, and it’s just a recording device that can’t send any signals back to its owner. Now, the bad thing for you is that M has multiple recorded trips to Roaring Heights, starting around the time you arrived. They already have some phone calls of yours in their hands, if they’re collecting the bugs. Which they are.”

“Well, how do you know that? Or do you know everything?” I ask, hoping to lighten his business-esque demeanor.

“You know how I work, Jo,” he said, “I’m neutral. And let’s say M walked into my headquarters, with simoleons in their hand, and with a question as to where Josephine Waverly was staying. Would I tell them with as little hesitation as I’ll pass this information to you?”

“You would…”

“And I have. She’s not villain-material, though I trust that she works for something very nefarious indeed. Fifty simoleons, flat, for you.”

For the record, I get royalty checks every other week, though I put my mail on hold before leaving for Roaring Heights, confident that I had enough money to sustain me, as long as I didn’t get in trouble. When I left Sunset Valley, it was just after I deposited half of a fresh royalty check into my checking account. Between rent and food and drinks, between fines to the law and fees for those preventing me from facing the law again, all paid in checks, I still had plenty to pay Jamie.

“Once I get home. I’ll just grab my checkbook from the drawer,” I said.

“I can actually take it on debit. I have your number in the system, thanks to that amazing train system we in Simnation have. Is that easier? Because it is for me.”

“Oh, for sure. Thanks.”

He came over at noon today, with his head still in business and his face somber. “It didn’t go through my system. I can’t even buy a pack of gum with your card, which I tried only for testing purposes.”

“Impossible,” I muttered, shaking, “I have thousands in there.”

“You might be frozen. That part is between you and your bank, but I’ll just keep you on the ‘payment pending’ list, though my data tracking and hat upkeep won’t pay themselves,” Jamie said.

I’m broke. Dad’s broke. Agnes isn’t, but she might think we’re engaged if I ask her for money to borrow, and she’s the one clipping coupons every Sunday. Money matters to her.

So no paying Jamie.

No paying the next rent bill.

No more heating or electricity.

Starving when we run out of eggs.

God help me if I need some special services again.

I spent the day curled up on the couch, ready to throw away my checkbook in despair. I didn’t even have my bed, because dad plopped down there early in the morning after a night of herbs and woohoo he’ll brag about tonight. I didn’t have Agnes, not for a few hours, because she found a public easel and the itch to get back into her art. I always tell her to keep the money she makes from it for herself.

I told the story to both of them. Account frozen. I’m screwed. Agnes said that she’ll do her best with sales and coupons, though I should try and pitch in too. Dad took pity on me and gave me enough “herb money” for a drink, saying that I should probably get a job too, even if it is “on the margins,” as he’ll put it after drizzling the grime of his work with honey.

And because we Waverlys have livers of steel (or so Annette told us, probably so we could drink with her and normalize her vice), one bottle isn’t going to cut it. I’m still close to sober, even though my green bottle is bone-dry on the inside.

I could enjoy the music, like Agnes is, and with the same about of gravity. Broken bank accounts do that to her. But I often don’t need her.

I could challenge someone for a game of pool in exchange for a drink if I win, much like dad does, but I won’t win. I’m sad and not good at pool. My hands moisten with sweat and skin oil, so no gripping the cue sticks tonight. Stressful, too many people here. Fine for dad, but not for me and Agnes feels it too. If it weren’t for her pumps, she would bolt out of the club as if it was populated by ravenous bears instead.

Screw it. I need to wash up. Take a leak. Cry alone in a restroom, maybe.

Tarnished Jazz is set up like so: the club itself/the fun parts are in the basement. Upstairs is what the building once was, an eatery by the looks of it, but the whole first floor is even darker than the bar, so I have to find the restroom on literal blind faith.

In between the time of me arriving and now, someone turned on a light. Once I’m done crying at my account’s new, unfortunate state, I notice the small shrine on the dining table. Is everything in this city a secret shrine? Maybe I can worship Baphomet at the police station after all.

But here, I have a dragon-themed, Celtic tapestry and a blindfolded bust to interpret, and I like to think of myself as cultured, but nothing is connecting there. The world is full of funny belief systems, though.

“Look, we need to talk,” says a voice. Deep, stoic, and starting to grow raspy with age, it’s Jamie again.


“So you can’t pay me, but you can get a drink just fine?”

“I had change!” I did, after all.

“Fine. It's not like I need electricity anyways.”

He heads back downstairs, as not to miss too much jazz, or maybe his drink is half-finished and getting lukewarm. I’ve absorbed all I can about the shrine, especially as no one nailed a placard to the wall. My hands are still teeming with grime, or stress-sweat. I need to wash up.

When I get out, I am face-to-face with a buzzed Moira. Her breath reeks of fresh juice.

“Bestie!” she calls out. She stumbles on to me, still giggling like a drunk widow. I have enough pity in my heart to tolerate an unsteady Moira and to prevent a faceplant into the hard carpet, and I nervously laugh along with her. At least it wrings more pity out of me than if old Annette did so.

“I’m so glad you’re here tonight,” Moira says, almost crying at my presence. Well, that’s a change from Twinbrook, now isn’t it?

“Moira, why don’t you rest?” Eileen asks from the distance, “You can be tipsy around us, but you barely know her!”

“Re-lax, Jo’s, like, my best friend. I’d even go sober for her.”

Eileen sighs and approaches. She drags Moira outside, where she crashes against a chair in a hazy slumber.

“I’m sorry, for a lot,” Eileen says, when she comes back inside, “And I’ve been pretty good tonight, so that’s coming from my sober heart.”

“I’m used to it by now,” I say, “I had a…great-aunt like her. Drunk and widowed, though a fair deal older.”

“I wish she saved it for 78 instead of 28. It’s not like I’m in the best place myself, but I know when to stop. If being her friend will get her to sober up, then please, be galpals. Even just bear with her. You seem to have some interest in her, even though she’s straight.”

“I don’t need her love.” I’m also not big on close incest, but that’s my secret. “But there is something I like about her.” Did I like anything about grandma Annette? If I did, then Moira has the likable parts without as much of the insufferableness that time once gave her. No lies here.

“I guess she sees something in you. Maybe a kindred spirit. She claims to have some sort of widow-sense, and it works. She just ends up scaring your average widow off. Did some wife of yours bite the dust?”

“Husband, and glad he did.” I hesitate. “Listen, about that night at your office-“

“I’m going to forget about it. I know you’re weird, but in the end, it doesn’t do a thing to help if I’m being judgmental, does it? I know that I’m an abrasive nightmare, but hell, that’s who I am.”

“No need for an explanation?”

“Only when you have some free time,” Eileen says.

Moira sleeps through it all, though she’s alive and breathing steadily. We have time, plenty of it right now, even if I have to call a taxi home and grab Eight Ways to aid my explanation. Well, I have time. Eileen proves that she doesn’t by the time we step outside for fresh air.

“Babe, they booked Anthony for the next set.” It’s deep, younger than Jamie, and twice and stoic. Unless I drank too much the last time I saw him to remember correctly, it’s Tank.

“I’d say it’s a bummer, but…” Eileen’s voice trails off, as she gives a flirty wink to who is indeed Tank.

Yeah, I’m leaving her and the war machine alone and assuming that Arthur is 100% fine with this.

Still, Moira’s asleep through it all. Still alive and breathing. I bet she’s accepted her sister’s own antics by now as well.

“You’ve been out here for a while,” Agnes says. She’s coming out through the door, “Everything’s okay? We’ve all been feeling sad about the account too.”

“It’s fine, fine,” I say. I look over to Tank and Eileen again, still eating each other’s faces.

“My husband and I used to be like that,” Agnes sighs, “I still like you, but sometimes I can’t stop thinking about him. And about wedding bells, a beautiful proposal on the beach.”

“Are you trying to put ideas in my head?”

“Just dwelling on the past.”

“I want some tasteful cuddling instead,” I say, gesturing towards Eileen and Tank not giving a darn about their public image, “You know what the contrast is.”

Moira sleeps through that too. And as peaceful as she is, Roaring Heights may or may not be a dangerous place. She steals for a living, if I heard her right last time we met. Someone’s out for her, and if her own twin sister is leaving her there just to suck face with her not-husband, then I have to step in and be the good Samaritan.

“Agnes, you good at lifting? She looks pretty light,” I say.

Arthur spends five minutes arguing with us, that she’s probably fine, but he agrees to let us into Moira’s apartment and keep an eye on us once a police car passes by in the distance. It’s not like I plan to use the oven this time.

The two of us plop Moira down on her bed. In spite of being out cold, I have high hopes that she’ll wake up with a headache, but alive and healthy.

I was about to ask Agnes if I can stay the night with Moira, just to make sure that she’s okay in the morning and to build some good karma, but she’s already asleep and answering the question without me asking.

I can appreciate more time to snoop, can’t I? Especially right close to my sleeping beauty and my passed-out great-great-great grandmother. I stopped at the wedding of Moira and Eileen’s parents last time. Every bit of information is chronological. It takes until after the wedding to find birth certificates for the two little girls that the couple produced.

Eileen Joelle Stoneham, 6lbs 3oz
Born at 8:31PM, September 4th, 2033

Moira Annette Stoneham, 6lbs 5oz
Born at 8:57PM, September 4th, 2033

I always thought of Annette as a sick genius, but instead, she just went by her middle name to forge a new life. True master of disguise right there, but maybe disguise wasn’t her intent.

I also didn’t think of her as part-French, but it makes enough sense.

I fall in and out of sleep upon turning to the page of their early family photos, with Eileen and Moira being simply adorable (it’s in our genes). Moira will, understandably, think that I’m a bit of a creep if she wakes up and catches me asleep with her family photos open next to me. I stagger to her bookcase to put the book back. And then fall asleep on the floor.

I wake up with a 100 simoleon note, and a regular note, tucked into my shirt. Moira is not on the couch anymore, and my phone’s clock reads 7:42AM. Getting Bridget to school, probably.

Thanks for bringing me home. Sometimes sleeping in the gutter gets old.
I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that you were low on cash. Hopefully this can cover a couple of things.

-Moira <3

I have the 100 simoleons from Moira. Enough for paying Jamie, plus a few drinks for me and groceries, but perhaps I have some charity in my heart. He’ll mellow out over a delectable French press from the café. He deserves it for taking the time out of his day to confirm my own (true!) worries.

After catching up with him at the old barn where he works out of Roaring Heights, thanks to still not repairing the telephone at home, I get Jamie out of his shed for a cup of coffee at sunset. It turns out that he appreciates overpriced coffee brewing methods too, especially when someone else is paying.

At first, he thanks me for the coffee and drinks without much conversation, except for shortly raving about the Sumatran blend they used in the beverage. Coffee on the house mellowed him after all.

"And raw sugar, wow," Jamie says, after savoring half of his cup.

"I don't know if I approve of what you do or not now, but you have a gift," I say, "So why use it here? Servicing multiple sides just because they pay?"

"Rumor has it that you're a writer." I nod. "I'm certain you love drama, even if just as fiction. Sometimes I think of my job in the same way. I fuel drama by fueling both sides with what I can give. I’m not huge on television anymore, but this breathes some new life into my entertainment.”

“I’m really just a plaything to you?”

“You all are. Playthings and paychecks.”

“Even tabloid writers are saints by comparison,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Perhaps, perhaps.” He nervously rubs his neck, for the first time I’ve seen him properly emote. He even hesitates. “A blond woman asked me for the bug last night. I gave it to her. She says that she’ll keep a close eye on you regardless,” says Jamie, “I wish I could save you from this. How about I buy you another coffee? Have one on me?”

Word Count for this chapter: 3249
Word Count so far: 134,869
No respect, no chance, cease and desist when I chant-

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Offline KRae

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 76, 8/22)
« Reply #357 on: August 22, 2014, 08:44:01 AM »
Sorry about the sick and depressed. This was a very atmospheric chapter. Probably the best thing I've read in awhile.

Offline AkonIsAwesome

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 76, 8/22)
« Reply #358 on: August 22, 2014, 09:25:55 AM »
Oh dear, I hope that you start to feel better soon. Sick and depressed is an awful combination. On the other hand, yay, a new chapter in the story of the Waverly family! As ever, I love your writing style and unique sims!

Online Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 77, 8/27)
« Reply #359 on: August 27, 2014, 01:17:03 AM »
Sorry about the sick and depressed. This was a very atmospheric chapter. Probably the best thing I've read in awhile.

Wow, thank you!

Oh dear, I hope that you start to feel better soon. Sick and depressed is an awful combination. On the other hand, yay, a new chapter in the story of the Waverly family! As ever, I love your writing style and unique sims!

That it is, though I'm having a good day today. Thanks for the compliments!

Chapter 77: Bull Market

Annette kept the fridge stocked with the favorites of everyone in the household, from lowly tofu dogs for Lily to still-lowly mushroom omelettes for Bronson and Hephaestus. Julian was old enough to find out that Annette was hosting the world’s most exclusive dinner party in her basement, like a reverse-Eucharist, but wasn’t bothered by it when a fresh pot of chili con carne was left for him instead. At least he didn’t have to consume an entire tin of mints to get the aftertaste of chili out of his mouth.

He took a few bites. It was probably Annette’s best batch yet. He would even describe it as a killer pot of chili, and enough to entice him for seconds and thirds and whatever else could threaten to kill his slender frame.

He got up from his barstool, initially with the intention to take a leak, but his feet didn’t seem to land on hardwood floors. It was as if someone cut a patch out of the floor, and instead of falling into the foundation and giving himself a heart attack from freaking out over it, he just floated. And as it turned out, his heart failed anyways, after 109 years of excellent service.

Franco intended to turn towards the bathroom to remove his gloves and wash his hands so that they didn’t smell like deathfish, but he instead caught sight of his dying protégé. And surely, Lily would too, even though she was upstairs getting into her pajamas for the awkward, uncomfortable night of coming to terms with what her dad told her.

But she didn’t.

Meanwhile, the Grim Reaper showed up, poised to go over-the-top with his role taking the dead back to his realm, until he saw that the scaredy-cat himself was the next victim. No need to play up anything, then. Julian’s spirit still felt weak in the knees as the black smoke from Grim filled the area. Only the freedom of not needing solid ground kept him upright.

Grim faced Julian, stoic. Franco mourned for the dead man who was once the shaky kid with sangria-red hair who painted half of his portraits. He still hoped that Lily would come downstairs, just to give a last, comforting presence to her lifelong mentor and friend, but as the spectral white noise grew louder and louder, it was apparent that nothing was getting Lily’s attention. Not after Franco dropped the ball.

Julian quivered and Grim floated a bit, waiting for the old man to soil his spiritual boxers. But Julian just shook as if he was a statue of gelatin.

“Fine,” Grim grumbled, “I guess I’ll just have to make this puny mortal beg.”

“Can’t you just have an easier appearance?” Julian begged, “I’ve watched so many people here die, but you! You make it worse, you black monster.”

“That’s the spirit, Julian,” said Grim, “Any regrets?”

He sighed. “Are there wedding arches beyond the veil?” Grim shook his head no.

“Well, Lita would have liked a nice wedding. In another life, I guess.”

Julian left the world regretting parts of his romantic life. Lily did her best to make sure that Bronson would leave with no regrets there, as much as she didn’t want to think of her old husband’s impending mortality. But while Julian passed away and Lily drifted through her post-ambrosia life in a disgusted haze, she found her Bronson-bear for one of his strong hugs.

“Sad after living forever?” he asked, softly.

“It’s…it’s something worse. About my brother.”

“Which one?” Bronson tried to lighten the mood.

“This ain’t funny, hun.” His whole face sulked after that statement.

“Oh yeah, the blond one. Who spilled the beans?”

“Dad, though it sounded like a mistake. Like some secret he was keeping. I could tear right through that fat gut of his and rip out his innards. How could he and the old hag do this to me? It’s their granddaughter too! I really can’t believe that they’re doing this to me, to her, to you, honey!” Lily’s eyes went as pink as her skin. “I love Heph, but I can’t see him as an in-law too. And Tegan, not having a choice in the matter. She already loves that Bryant kid.” Bronson rolled his eyes at that name too.

“I guess no one is good enough for her,” he said, “I’ll never admit it anyways.”

Lily went downstairs for a snack that didn’t taste like a wet gym sock and got the news from her tearful father. She lost her appetite upon seeing the gilded urn on the floor. She could tear out her own innards as punishment for missing the death of one of her best friends, especially because she knew darn well that Julian was beyond old. It just slipped her mind. The vitriol she held for Franco evaporated as she watched him mourn. He knew Julian ever since he was a teenager and Julian was little more than a fetus under Amy’s sundress. Painting alongside him, occasionally offering help with homework, learning first aid for when someone faints, it was a little bit like Franco had a little brother.

That would be Hephaestus one day, and her feelings on him contrasted like chocolate frosting on yellow cake. Her beloved step-brother, with endless intelligence and talent studded with sometimes-lovable insanity…who would eventually marry his step-niece. All of those beautiful ice sculptures that sold for thousands and thousands at galleries, made by someone who felt like blood-family…who, you know, would also marry her daughter. At least Julian didn’t have a shred of legal binding to the family, and Annette never called him her son, so smooching him wasn’t incestuous at all, and if the stars aligned and he and Lily were an item, the creepiness would be minimal. At least minimal in comparison to making Hephaestus do double-duty with family relations.

And how could they burden future Waverlys with documenting that mess when it came to genealogy projects in school?

In all, Lily’s day was bad, perhaps the worst she would ever have. Her face tensed with anger half the day, and she got to the point of tears multiple times.

Bronson tried his very best to brighten Lily’s day, but even the powers of woohoo brought it to a “bad, but maybe I’ll see worse” level of badness.

The night went on in silence, out of respect for Julian. Franco sucked it up for long enough to admit to his mother that he made a horrible mistake in the basement. As much as she could joke about what his mistake could have been; breaking a sculpture, or forgetting that Lily was his own flesh-and-blood and leaning in for a romantic hug, she had the clearest idea of what he goofed up on.

“I’m finding better people to keep secrets with,” she said.

“It’s been a rough day, mum,” said Franco, “I mean, Julian’s dead. He’s gone, mum.”

“I’m going to miss his old butt in a speedo too, but for the love of God, can’t we focus on what you just did? Now you’ll have to wait another generation or two for your little piece of Hannah to dote on. Lily will block that wedding with all of her might, and Bronson introduced her to weight training. She has might. You screwed up, kiddo.”

“It was a mistake. I really want that too, and I just ruined it.”

The awful day resulted in everyone having a quiet time sleeping, which could have been worse. Annette tried to lighten the mood and didn’t mention Hephaestus and Tegan at all. She did suggest a trip to the Summer Festival for everyone, just for the sake of getting their minds off Julian. She needed that and everyone did, which meant no struggles when it came to piling the family into the Motive Mobile around noontime.

While the park wasn’t packed, a few townsfolk milled about, getting food or playing gnubb. Most of them were unremarkable. However, Lily found herself surprised by an old friend. Lilith! Being a little older than Lily, she grew old too, and depended on a cane for support, but her angelic blue eyes and fresh-faced features still remained under minimal wrinkles and a head of thick, silver hair still pulled back into a headband and ponytail.

“It’s like a reunion today,” Lily said, chuckling.

“We can talk later. I have a new friend to speak with first,” said Lilith.

“You do that.” However, Lilith’s new friend wasn’t the old man sitting on the park bench. She approached someone a lot closer to the family.

“Hephaestus, you called?” Lilith asked him, “I dunno what for, but you called.”

“Ah yes, we have a bit of an appointment, don’t we?” Was he finally getting a woman after 20 or so years single? Even if it was a cougar, Lilith had every right to be a cougar, with the allure to turn all of the straight ladies in Twinbrook into a commune of lesbians, and to drive the men into a hormonal frenzy too.

But she wasn’t a predator, not even for the attractive blond man that was adopted by Lily’s family. Lilith and Hephaestus just shook hands, until his glowed with magical energy.

“Christ, you’re one of them, aren’t you?” she cried.

“Your neighbor is a fairy, isn’t she?” asked Hephaestus.

“Not that I like it.”

“Do you feel luckier?”


Hephaestus pulled out a handheld scanner from the extra space in his kilt. “By the power of Marduk, I know it would work! Today’s your lucky day, Ms. Jones-Brown. You’ll be immortal this way.”

“What, like you guys?” she asked.

“Not exactly. This won’t hurt.” He started the scanner.

“That tickles!” Lilith squealed, “What sort of devil magic is this, though?”

“It’s a deep reading. That’s all,” he said, “Hungry yet?”

Hephaestus wouldn’t leave Lilith alone, just to skip away with a vial of a DNA sample. He previously knew Lilith just as a beautiful party guest, but friendship made for a nice thank-you gift, because he got what he wanted from her. For those two beanpoles, gorging themselves on hot dogs was the only way to launch their friendship.

Lilith, perpetually below 20% body fat throughout her life, inhaled each cheap sausage with minimal chewing and finished her plate with half of Hephaestus’ time. But “friendly competition” has the word “friendly” in it. And Hephaestus still beat the third contestant, a young man named Chip.

Chip had a very bad day from that moment on. He vomited out half a plate of hot dogs outside on the grass, and Franco, disgusted by Chip’s lack of control to do it in a trash bin or in a bush, taught him a lesson by leaving a large footprint on his rear.

After the bad ambrosia day with Lily, Franco was not in a good mood. And by that, he was in worse of one than he usually was. No amount of roller-skating, casual soccer practice, or avoiding Lily boosted his mood.

He skated laps upon laps, much like the rest of the family, but they started to drop due to tiredness or just to get a snack. Even Lily petered out after giving a simple skating lesson to Anderson Whelohff.

Franco took a seat next to Lily at the fountain, dejected while she snacked on a grape-flavored snow cone that flew in the face of her healthy, athletic lifestyle.

“I’m very sorry,” he said.

“You know, I know how much you love snow cones, so I’m just going to enjoy this one in front of you while you have none,” said Lily, “Right down to the syrup at the bottom of the cone. I know how much you love that.”

“This isn’t funny, flower. I’m trying to admit a wrongdoing on behalf of myself and your gram, and you’re turning this into a passive-aggressive crapfest. I’ll get my own snow cone.”

The cone maker was down for repairs. Franco stormed back to his seat. “What do I need to do?”

“Let everything happen how it should,” Lily said, “She has a boyfriend, and he’s maturing into a nice lad.”

“I’m not going to tell you that he’s bad news. I’m not going to say that she’ll change your mind, or that you’ll change your mind when they’re at the altar. I’ll accept backing out, but not with peace of mind.”

She handed him the other half of her snow cone. “I hope they repair the machine soon. Enjoy, dad.”

And even with Lily’s saliva coating the ice shavings, Franco had to accept it. It wasn’t a summer outing without a snow cone.

Still, he couldn’t keep that promise without a struggle. It was like watching a son take a vow of celibacy, probably because it was exactly that. That lean, limber body that he kept up through long walks and sensible portions of Annette’ cooking? Wasted on the single life. Though Hephaestus never spoke about being single either, as if it was a non-issue. Was Franco just being a worrywart?

Maybe Hephaestus’ positive attitude and constant amazement with the world would net him some sort of happy ending.

Why couldn’t it net him a happy ending? Plenty of women in Twinbrook would fall on their knees for him and that beautiful smile. Maybe even Tegan would without any prodding, drawn like a firefly to a jar sprayed with pheromones.

They’d see soon. Her young adult birthday crept up on the family, circled in red on the calendar for the next day. The day circled in red might be what the family needed, a stimulus to turn their faltering bear market into a rising bull market. And for Tegan, perhaps she could be that stimulus, amazing the family by making the right choice.

But, let’s remember one thing: Tegan had a few more choices than some of us later immortals had.

Word Count for this chapter: 2,316
Word Count so far: 137,185

For anyone not particularly versed in economics, Bull and Bear Markets are used to describe stock markets and whether they're rising or falling. A market trending upwards is a Bull Market, while a market trending downwards is a Bear Market.

I really just wanted to force the reference because of Julian's surname. :P
No respect, no chance, cease and desist when I chant-

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