Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 180462 times)

Offline Lisa46

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 3
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2014, 06:11:54 PM »
That is an absolutely perfect roomies representation.

Offline Cheezey

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 3
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2014, 04:40:29 PM »
Chapter 4

Cycl0n3 was not able to reach Blair when he called her, so he just left her a message and went online into TarzWar to blow off some steam.  He teamed up with his friend BlizzEgo and spent the next half hour ranting and killing monsters with him.  After that, he headed back to the kitchen to get something to eat.

He found Tamara staring into the fridge, looking disgusted.  “I think that spaghetti Emma brought home last night went bad.”  She looked at it up close, sniffed, winced, and threw it in the garbage.  “So much for something other than macaroni and cheese.” 

Cycl0n3’s stomach growled its disappointment loud enough for Tamara to hear it as well.  “I think I’ve got enough cash to get food at the diner.  How about you?”

“Are you treating?” Tamara asked hopefully.

“Are you a cheap date?”

“Hardly.”  She was not sure if Cycl0n3’s rude wording was intentional or not, but she decided to be magnanimous and let it go.  “I guess I have enough for that.  Vita treated the group to lunch this afternoon, so I didn’t have to buy my own.”

“Lucky you,” Cycl0n3 said as they headed for the stairs.  “I can’t mooch a free lunch off my boss.  Guess it proves the Altos aren’t all bad.”

Blair got off duty later than usual.  She and Hank were out on patrol when ten minutes before the end of their shift, they were dispatched to investigate a report of “suspicious items” in a new shop that opened up in town.  The store, Aleister’s Elixirs and Sundries, was on Water Lily Lane in a former house that had been fixed up and converted to retail space.  At first, Blair thought it was some sort of pharmacy or dispensary for alternative medicine and folk remedies, but she found out otherwise when she and Hank went in.

It looked like something straight from a movie, with bookshelves full of musty-looking tomes, other shelves with bottles and flasks of all shapes, colors, and sizes, containers with dried herbs, and a fireplace with a rocking chair.  There was even a stone altar with occult symbols all over it, well-used candles along the top, and a giant cast iron cauldron beside it.  The place reminded her of the Goth manor.

Hank quickly discovered what the call had been about.  There was a skull on display that belonged to some kind of animal neither Blair nor Hank could identify, and jars of preserved oddities on the counters and tables.  The clerk assured them that everything in the shop was legal to own and sell, and had been obtained through proper channels from her supplier in Moonlight Falls.  Hank let Blair check the paperwork while he took a look around the back garden.  Everything turned out to be in order, and after a chat with the clerk about what the elixirs on the shelves were, Hank wound up buying a flask of something called a “Vial of Bliss” for himself.

Since they racked up some overtime, Blair and Hank clocked out and decided to treat themselves to dinner at the diner before heading home.  They were still talking about the unusual things in the elixir shop when they finished eating.  “Well, you’ll have to tell me if that stuff actually works,” Blair teased Hank.  “If it does, maybe I’ll give that Invigorating Elixir a try next time I get a double shift.”

“Sure.  I’m going to save it for the weekend, though.  Pauline and I are throwing a party, so why not break it out then?  The guy said it was pretty much life of the party in a bottle.”  He grinned.  “You should come by.  Cut loose with us.”

Blair gave him a nervous smile.  “Thanks for inviting me, but… well, I’m not really good at parties.”

“What?  Don’t worry about that.  If I didn’t think you’d be fun to have around, I wouldn’t invite you.  Come on.  My friends will like you, and I know Pauline would love to meet you.”

“No, it’s not that.  It’s just that crowds aren’t my thing.  At all.”  Blair gave him a contrite look.  “I’m sorry.  It was nice of you to offer, and I do want to meet your fiancée sometime.  Just not at a big party.”

“Okay, but if you change your mind, you’re still welcome.  If not, well, I guess I’ll have to let you know what happened with the Vial of Bliss on Monday.”

Cycl0n3 and Tamara showed up at the diner while Blair and Hank were talking in the parking lot.  He spotted her before she spotted him, and he stopped short in his tracks.  “I don’t believe it.”


“That’s Blair.”

Tamara followed his gaze.  “The one you’re going to ask about moving in?”

“Yeah.”  Cycl0n3’s expression darkened when he saw how familiar Blair seemed with the guy she was talking to.  Back in high school, Blair had always been a quiet girl who kept to herself and never said much to anyone she wasn’t close with.  For her to be that at ease implied that she knew whoever she was talking to rather well, and Cycl0n3 had no idea who he even was.  “I called her a little while ago, but I guess she’s been too busy with Muscles over there to call me back.”

“You mean Hank?”

“You know that guy?”

“I recognize him,” Tamara said.  “That’s Hank Goddard.  He hangs out at Mick’s sometimes.”

“Doesn’t seem like the kind of guy I’d expect to see Blair with.” 

“You said she’s a cop, right?  So is Hank.  I was out with Emma and her friend Ayesha a while back, and I saw Hank and mentioned that I thought he was pretty hot.  Well, you know the kind of stuff Ayesha does, right?  Turns out he arrested her once, and she went on a whole rant about him.” 

Cycl0n3 gave Tamara an unimpressed look.  “You think that guy is hot?”

“Uh, yeah?” she said, as if it should have been obvious.  “Nice body, nice tan, looks like he knows how to have fun…”

“Looks like he spends too much time in the gym and bumming around on the beach to me.  He’s probably one of those guys who can’t count any higher than the pounds he can lift or juices he can knock back.  Like those dumb jocks at frat parties at University.  Why would Blair waste her time hanging out with someone like that?”

“Maybe she thinks he’s hot, too,” Tamara said with a shrug.  “Or they were working together and went out afterward.” 

“Heh.  You’d think they’d hit the donut shop downtown, then,” Cycl0n3 muttered, just as Blair caught sight of him.  As soon as they made eye contact, Cycl0n3 immediately headed toward her. 

Oh, yeah, everything’s cool with you and her, all right, Tamara said as she watched him go.

“You’ll definitely have to tell me how it goes,” Blair told Hank.  She was about to say something else when she saw a familiar face on the other side of the lot.  Cycl0n3 is here?  “Excuse me a second, Hank.”  She was about to wave when she saw that Cycl0n3 saw her as well, and was on his way over.  As soon as he got there, she gave him a big hug.

“Cycl0n3!  It’s so good to see you again.”  Although they had been talking over SimBook and online, they had not seen each other in person since the day he left for University months ago.

“Hey, Blair.”  He smiled at her as they broke apart.  “How’s life serving and protecting the citizens of Sunset Valley?”

“Interesting.  Today especially, right?” she said, looking over at Hank.

“Yeah, I can say that today I saw some things I’ve definitely never seen before.”  He paused.  “And that I’m not so sure I’d like to see again.”

“Cycl0n3, this is my partner, Hank.”

“Your partner on the police force,” he said, looking at Hank and then back at Blair.  “Right.  Looks like a good match.  Brains and brawn.  Mind and muscle.  Beauty and the Beast.”

Hank was not sure if he had just been insulted or not, but Blair knew from experience that not everyone quite got Cycl0n3’s odd sense of humor, so she stepped in to make sure there were no misunderstandings.  “Thanks, although Hank’s pretty sharp, and I like to think my trips to the gym are giving me a little muscle.  Hank, this is Cycl0n3.  I’ve known him since my first year of high school.”

“Nice to meet you, uh… Cyclone, she said your name was?”

“Cycl0n3 Sw0rd.  Pronounced like the weather phenomenon and melee weapon, respectively, but spelled with the vowels replaced with the numbers 0 and 3.”

“Uh-huh,” Hank said, giving Cycl0n3 a strange look.  “That’s not your real name, though, right?”

“Want to see my license and registration, officer?” he challenged sarcastically.

“It really does say that on his license, believe it or not,” Blair told Hank.  “It’s his legal name.”

“Wow.  That’s… unique.  School must’ve been fun for you with a name like that.  Not to mention finding a job.”

“School was a monotonous and miserable experience, where I endured constant mockery and humiliation from my intellectually inferior peers, but my name had nothing to do with it.  I changed it after graduation.  As for job hunting, I like to think my chosen name highlights my innate ability to think outside the box.  The smart ones appreciate that, and I’d rather not work for anyone too dumb to get it.”

“Right.”  For some reason Hank felt like he had just been insulted, although he could not say why.  “So where do you work?”

Cycl0n3 gestured in the general direction of the business complex.  “Over at Doo Peas in the news office.  Who knows?  One day I may be editing a story on a case file of yours.”  He looked at Blair.  “Not that I’ll need to fix your spelling or grammar.  But the rest of the SVPD...”

Hank couldn’t let that last remark slide.  “So, your ‘outside the box’ thinking landed you a job spell-checking press releases?  Wow.  How impressive.”

“It’s a temp job, not my career,” Cycl0n3 retorted.

“He’s still in University.  He just came home for the summer,” Blair explained.  She had no idea why Cycl0n3 seemed determined to needle Hank, but she did not like the direction the conversation was going.  She was about to bring up a subject change, but Cycl0n3 beat her to the punch.

“Oh!  That reminds me.  I left you a message earlier, but I’ll just tell you now.  You know how I moved into the loft complex with a bunch of roommates last summer?” 

Blair nodded.

“Well, a few months back one of them moved out, and while my other roommates tried to find a replacement, another one bailed on us.  Long story short, we need a new roommate fast, or we’re going to be forced to make fun choices like whether we start pawning our stuff, or have repo-men stopping by.” 

“Oh, no!  That’s awful.”

“Yeah, that’s one word for it.  So, I was wondering, now that you’re officially on the force and working, if maybe you were looking to move out of your parents’ place yet?”

Blair was shocked.  “You want me to move in with you?”

“Well, me and Tam and Emma, and that Stiles guy they found whenever he’s able to move out of his old place, but yeah.”  He gave her a hopeful look.  “You’d have your own room, and split five ways, the rent’s not that bad.”

“I—well, I don’t know.  I was thinking I’d save a little more money and start looking this fall, since my parents were pretty insistent about me not moving into a bad area or a ‘roach-infested hovel’ as my mother put it.  I have some saved, so I could, I guess, but I’d have to think about it and let you know.”

“How soon?” Cycl0n3 asked.  “Sorry to drop it on you so fast, but it’s really kind of urgent, and… I can’t bear the thought of pawning my computer, Blair.  It hurts.”  He made a pained face.  “I promise we don’t have any roaches.”

Blair could not help but feel for Cycl0n3.  For him to even entertain the idea of selling his computer, she knew that the situation had to be pretty dire.  “All right.  I’ll give it some thought tonight and let you know by tomorrow.”

He hugged her.  “Thanks, Blair.”

“You’re welcome.  I’ll call you.”

“Talk to you then.  Later.”  Cycl0n3 headed over to where Tamara had struck up a conversation with someone, leaving Blair with Hank.

“Your friend’s quite a character, isn’t he?” Hank remarked.

“I’m sorry he was rude to you.  He gets kind of weird sometimes.”

“Only sometimes?”

Blair couldn’t help but smirk.  “Okay, a lot of the time.  Especially when he’s stressed like he must be now with that roommate situation.  But he really is a good guy.  He just takes some getting used to.”

Hank watched Blair glance in the direction Cycl0n3 had departed, and gave her a curious look.  “Were you and him ever a thing?”

“What?”  Blair felt her cheeks turn red.  “I mean… what makes you say that?”

“For starters, you blushing like that when I asked,” Hank replied.  “But mostly the attitude he had with me out of nowhere.  Unless I remind him of someone that used to give him swirlies back in high school or something, that’s the only reason I can think of.  I mean, I didn’t even know him, and I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t like cops, considering you’re one.”

“Well, we went out most of my junior year of high school, but that was a long time ago now.”

“Mmm-hmm.  I thought so.”

“I don’t think he’d...”  She paused, and then shook her head.  “Nah.  It’s just Cycl0n3 being, well, Cycl0n3.”

“Anyway, I’ve got to say you have, uh, let’s call it ‘interesting’ taste in men, Blair.”  Hank smiled.  “Not that I have much room to talk.  I know I dated a few ‘interesting’ women myself in the past.”

Blair gave him a wry look.  “From what Justine’s said, it was more than a few.”

“Maybe,” Hank said with a wink.  “That’s all in the past now, though.  I’m an engaged man.”  He sounded almost wistful as he said it.  “But I can give you some advice if you’re really thinking about moving in with him,” he continued on a serious note.  “Old flames rekindle a lot more easily than they die out.  You should make sure you’re ready to handle that if you do decide to go there.”

“We’re just friends now, Hank.  We’re past all that.”

He shrugged.  “I’m just saying sometimes things happen you don’t expect.  I know I haven’t known you all that long compared to him, so maybe I’m off base here, but I do know that it’s a heck of a lot easier to avoid getting into a situation like that than it is to get out of it if it goes bad.”

“I get what you’re saying.  Thanks.”

“No problem.  What’s your partner for, if not to watch your back, right?”  Hank’s phone beeped, and after a brief look at it, he stuffed it back in his pocket.  “I’ve got to go.  Pauline wants to meet up at Mick’s.  I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”

“Okay.  Try not to think about the jar of pickled freezer bunnies too much,” she said with a grin.

Hank made a face as he headed to the street to hail a cab.  “Ugh.  You had to remind me, didn’t you?”

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Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2014, 04:22:32 AM »
This is so cool and so very believable.  Cycl0n3 is jealous... pure and simple.  It makes me wonder who ended their relationship.  Maybe Cycl0n3 didn't know what he had until he lost it.  ;)  Terrific update Cheezey.
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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4. The Secret Time Traveler

Offline karlissa

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2014, 06:04:05 AM »
Astounding writing in all throughout, it's brilliant. Better than some published authors.
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Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2014, 07:51:16 AM »
This is really good! Can't wait to read more!
because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

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Offline Lisa46

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2014, 12:07:35 PM »
I really enjoy your writing style!

Offline saltpastillen

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2014, 02:17:34 PM »
All caught up on your story, such fun so far. I wanna know what happens next!

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Offline NexttoNormal

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 4
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2014, 09:17:24 PM »
I'm really loving this story. Your writing is fantastic and I think the personalities you've written for everyone so far are perfect! Cycl0n3 is just wonderfully adorkable! Can't wait to see more!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 5
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2014, 01:52:56 PM »
Author's Note: I just wanted to thank you all for the nice things you've said about my story. I'm glad you're enjoying it, and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know.

Chapter 5

Blair kept Hank’s advice in mind, although it was just one consideration in a pile of others that churned through her head.  She thought about Cycl0n3’s invitation the entire way home.  The notion of moving out sooner rather than later appealed more the longer she thought about it.  The recent conversation she’d had with her parents about her bedroom door and her boyfriends had been a reminder that even though she had a friendly relationship with them, they were still her parents, and their home was ultimately their space.  It was time for her to find space of her own.

Now she had an offer for it, in Cycl0n3’s house.  Her own room, in a place shared with others around her own age, all of them roommates and equals.  It wouldn’t be a bad way to start out.  The idea of living with strangers was a little intimidating, but she supposed it wouldn’t be any worse than it would have been rooming with strangers at University, had she chosen to go right after graduation.  Cycl0n3’s roommates couldn’t be that bad if he managed to live with them peacefully, considering how quirky he could be, and he needed her help.  It wasn’t like she couldn’t move again if things didn’t go well, right?

Her mind was already made up by the time she made it home.

Susan was on the couch watching TV when Blair came in.  “Hi,” she greeted her.  “We got pizza for dinner earlier.  It’s in the kitchen if you want some.”

“Thanks, but I ate already,” Blair replied. 

“Long day?”

“Yup.  We had to put in overtime to answer a call at Aleister’s Elixirs, but it turned out to be nothing but someone freaked out about an animal skull and some bottled bugs and stuff.  It was kind of creepy, but there wasn’t anything illegal going on.”

Susan gave her a curious look.  “What kind of animal skull?”

“I don’t know, actually.  We took pictures, but since it wasn’t human and there was nothing else found at the scene, I don’t think identifying it is high on forensics’ priority list.  It was weird.  Kind of long, with horn-like things that almost looked like ears.  I have a picture on my phone.  Hank wanted me to get one of him posing with it once we were done, so he could show his fiancée.  But I don’t want to interrupt your show more than I already have, so I’ll show you later.”

“No, show me now,” Susan insisted.  “I was just channel surfing and wound up watching this, but it’s more like a train wreck than quality entertainment.”  She sighed.  “I’ll be so glad when the summer hiatuses are over and the new seasons start.”

Blair pulled out her phone and brought up the picture, which showed Hank making an exaggerated goofy face while hovering above the skull.  Susan studied it and considered the possibilities.  “It looks canid, but I don’t think it’s domestic.  Actually, I don’t know what species would have those horns.  Are you sure they aren’t artificial, added for decorative purposes?  If they are, I’d think maybe it’s a fox or something like that.”  She handed the phone back to Blair.  “So this is the kind of stuff in that new store, huh?  Your father was wondering what that place was, if it was an occult supply shop, or just some new-agey type of health food store.”

“Where is Dad?  On the computer?” 

Susan nodded.  “Boyd!  Can you come here a minute?”

“Just a second,” he said, typing something quickly.  He paused, typed something else, and then got up and came into the living room.  “What?  Oh, hi, Blair.  I didn’t know you were home.”

“I just got here.”

“We were wondering if you had any idea what this is?”  Susan gestured to the phone, which Blair handed to him.  “I don’t think there are any species that naturally have horns like that, do you?”

Boyd looked at the phone and made a face.  “It looks like someone put demon-like horns onto a fox or a badger skull.  Is that real?”

“We got a call to check that out at Aleister’s Elixirs today.  We found this and a bunch of other weird stuff there.  Turned out there was nothing illegal going on, but we took pictures anyway.”  She grinned.  “I know it’s not an alien ship, but I thought you might get a kick out of it.”

After studying the picture for a few more moments, Boyd handed the phone back to Blair.  “So, that place is an occult shop after all, huh?  What else do they have there?” 

“Lots of elixirs, like the name says.  Books, and some herbs, stones, and crystals.  They’ve got wands, for witches or practicing magic, I guess?  I don’t know.  There’s also a rock cutting machine and this big stone altar with a bunch of half-melted candles on it, and a cauldron.  They make their elixirs in that, according to the clerk.”

“Home-brewed elixirs, huh?  For what?”  Susan raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“Hank bought something called a Vial of Bliss.  There were other ones called things like ‘Essence of Magic,’ ‘Invigorating Elixir,’ and ‘Jar of Friendship’ and, oh yeah, ‘Liquid Job Booster.’”

“A promotion in a bottle?” Boyd chuckled. “If only it was that easy.”

“Let me guess.  They cost a fortune, right?”

“I didn’t ask.  I think Hank paid somewhere around fifteen or twenty for his, but I don’t know about the others.”

“Susan, we’ve got to check that place out sometime.”  Boyd was fascinated by Blair’s account of the place, but Susan was a little less enthusiastic.   

“It could be interesting.  I just hope it doesn’t reek of burnt herbs and old wax, and have that awful musty attic smell that places like that usually have.”

“Actually, I think it was the clerk that smelled like that,” Blair remarked.


“It’ll be fun anyway,” Boyd said.  “If you don’t want to go, honey, I’ll just go on my own after work one day.  I want to take a look at these elixirs and see if I can figure out what’s in them, and why they allegedly work.”

“My guess is that they’re made with herbs and plants that sound exotic or mystical, and they work because whoever bought them is gullible enough to believe it works, so a placebo effect takes place.”

“Probably, but I’m curious anyway,” Boyd replied with a wry look at his wife.  “Aren’t you just a little?”

“A little,” Susan admitted. 

“I’d bet in at least some of them there’s a chemical that contributes to the perceived effect,” Boyd continued, while Susan listened.  “Like how one of the chemical components found in raw licorice, in sufficient quantity, can induce a physiological reaction that releases hormones suppressing appetite, so on the surface it seems like some kind of magic diet aid.”

Blair took that as her cue to excuse herself.  She knew from experience that when her parents got on a tangent like that, they would be going for a while, and beyond finding out what happened with Hank’s party elixir at some point, she had already lost interest.  There were other things on her mind.

She popped onto the computer to check her bank account, and a few other things related to the task of moving, and then shut down and got out her phone.

“Blair!” Cycl0n3 sounded both enthusiastic and hopeful as he answered the call.  “Are you calling because you decided?”

Blair felt a touch of something—like anxiety, but not as unpleasant—when she heard how eager he was.  “Yes.  I think I’d like to.”

There was an enthusiastic shout on the other end of the line.  “Oh, Blair, thank you so much.  You have no idea how much I—how much you’ve helped us all out.”

“You’re welcome.  It’s about time for me to move out from here, anyway.  I mean, I love my parents, but you know how it is.”

“Well, I promise I won’t ever order you to clean your room,” Cycl0n3 teased.   

Blair laughed.  “My room was always cleaner than yours, anyway.”

“Hey!  I’m not a slob!”

“No, but I know how you always have pieces and boxes of old computer parts and wires laying around.  Someday you’re going to have as much of that stuff as my dad does in the carport storage room.”

“Pfft.  You’re still bitter about the time you stepped on that old graphics card in bare feet.  I told you to be careful.”  Cycl0n3 paused.  “And I’ll have you know that my room has never been anywhere near as cluttered as your dad’s archive of obsolete and broken computers and parts dating back to the eighties, thank you very much.”

“Well, anyway, I do still want to see it before I say for sure, but as long as my room is private and has enough space for my stuff, and your roommates seem okay—”

“Oh, you’ll be fine with my roommates,” Cycl0n3 assured her, cutting her off.  “Tamara and Emma are both pretty easy to get along with as long as you’re not a complete jerk.  I mean, I get along with them, and you know how well I mesh with society as a whole.”

“Didn’t you say there was another guy moving in?”

“Yeah, in a few weeks.  I didn’t meet him, but they did, and they said he seemed like a normal, average kind of guy.  A professional musician that works over at the theater.  Not a partier, though, from what they told me, so no band sessions in the house or anything.  They said he told them he can’t stand crowds in his personal space.”

“Good.  I can’t, either.  When can I meet your roommates?”

“Whenever you want.  Tomorrow after work, if you’re free, and not busy with Muscles.”

Blair blinked.  “Who?”

“Your partner.  The big muscly guy.”

“You mean Hank.”

“Yeah.  Him.”  There was a flatness in his voice.

I wonder what he has against Hank, anyway, Blair thought.  She did not really think it could be what Hank suspected, that Cycl0n3 was jealous.  After all, she and Cycl0n3 had not been anything more than friends for a long time now, and she and Hank were just friends.  Not to mention the fact that Hank was engaged.  If nothing else, Cycl0n3 ought to have known her well enough to know she wasn’t the sort that would pursue or even want someone that was cheating on someone else to be with her.  She hoped he got over it soon, whatever his reasons were.

“I don’t have any plans.  I can go over tomorrow after work,” she told him.  “Can you pick me up at the station?  I get off at three.”

“Sure can.  I get off at two,” Cycl0n3 replied, sounding upbeat once more. 

“There’s one more thing,” Blair added, glancing at her closed bedroom door.  “I need you to come home with me afterwards.”

“What?  Do you need help packing?” he teased.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind some help with getting the boxes into the moving van when the day comes, but no, that’s not what I want you to come over for,” she told him.  “I haven’t said anything to my parents yet.  I think they’ll take it better if you’re there with me to explain the whole roommate situation, and reassure them that I’m not moving in with a bunch of weird strangers or anything like that.”

Cycl0n3 laughed.  “Wait, you’re using me as an example of someone who’s not weird?  That’s a first for me.”

“You’re not weird in a bad way.  I meant more like serial killer, murder-me-in-my-sleep weird,” Blair explained.  “Besides, my parents know and like you.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time your dad told me that if I ever hurt you, he’d personally feed me to his favorite cow plant?”

Blair facepalmed, feeling a rush of embarrassment even though the event was probably a good two to three years in the past.  “Ugh.  No.  When did he say that?”

“Not long after we started going out.”

“Figures,” she said, rolling her eyes.  “Anyway, I’m sure he was just being facetious.  I know they liked you.  So you’re going to come over here with me after I check out the room and meet your roommates, and be there to answer any of their questions when I tell them, okay?” 

“Yeah, I can do that,” Cycl0n3 replied.  “I’ll see you tomorrow at three then.”

“See you then,” Blair said, and hung up.

Two hours later, Blair had already gone to bed, but her parents were still up and about.  After their discussion about alchemy and whatever potential scientific validity it might have, they got on their computers for some less academic entertainment.

Susan was browsing websites about vacation destinations.  Now that Blair was taking care of herself, they were planning a long-overdue vacation to the tropics, which was something Susan had wanted to do for years.  A nice stay a top-rated eco-modern resort with all the amenities sounded like heaven to her.  She just had to find the perfect place.  Boyd looked forward to that trip, too, but he was content to let Susan do all the planning and picking and booking.  He was not nearly as picky as his wife when it came to the specifics on amenities.  As long as the resort had good wi-fi, decent food, and a nice room with premium channels, he was good to go.  He just gave his input when she asked him for it, and played TarzWar in the meantime.

“I’m thinking about going with this package at Sparkling Sands in Isla Paradiso.  It’s the one on the main island with its own private lagoon that I told you about.  The pictures look gorgeous, and the spa facilities are included in the price of the stay.”

“Sounds fine to me, if you think it’s a good deal.”

“I do.”  Susan bookmarked it.  “I’ll look into it more tomorrow.  It’s getting late.”  She glanced at the time.  “We should turn in.”

Boyd looked at the clock on his computer and did a double-take.  How had so much time passed already?  It felt like he’d only been on a little while.  “Okay.  I’ll be off in a minute.”

Susan shut her computer down, and then headed to the bathroom to begin her nightly routine of washing her face and putting high-end moisturizing and anti-aging creams on it.  The process sometimes took her upwards of twenty minutes, depending on whether she thought she had more or fewer creases than before.  That was fine, though, because sometimes it took Boyd that long to actually sign off of his game if his character was in the middle of something.

Twelve minutes later, Susan called over.  “Are you still on?”

Boyd’s game was in the process of shutting down when the last blurb of guild chat came up on his screen before disconnecting.

Cycl0n3 Sw0rd has signed on.
Blizz Ego: hey man
Warz Lordz: Where have you been all night? You missed an epic fight.
Cycl0n3 Sw0rd: I solved my roommate problem tonight
Cycl0n3 Sw0rd: I talked my ex-girlfriend into moving in
Cycl0n3 Sw0rd: Am I crazy? lol
Smack Pod: LOL
Blizz Ego: lol dude yeah that’s crazy
Girbits: Wow
Space Invader has signed off.

Boyd’s eyes went wide behind his glasses, and he stared at the screen in shock.  If that Cycl0n3 was the same as Blair’s ex-boyfriend, then did that mean…? 

“Honey?” Susan called from the hall.  “Did you hear me?”

“Yeah, I’m coming,” Boyd called back, turning off the computer.  Susan was already in bed when he got there, but still awake.  “You’re not going to believe what I just saw in guild chat as I was signing off.”

Susan’s eyes lit up with curiosity when she noticed Boyd’s expression.  “Did Cycl0n3 say something interesting?”

“He said he convinced his ex-girlfriend to move in with him.”

Boyd watched as Susan’s expression changed, and he flopped onto the bed beside her.  “My thoughts exactly.”

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 5
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2014, 06:10:16 PM »
Ouch the dilemma of every parent... and what a way to find out!  I'm looking forward to how this unfolds when Cycl0n3 goes home with Blair to tell her parents.  ;)
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 5
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2014, 11:16:23 AM »
Well that's one way to find out... Eish!
because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

Only 2 things are infinite... The universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe. *Albert Einstein*

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Offline Ginj

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 5
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2014, 06:28:48 PM »
Why is the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" keep running through my mind after reading this?

Offline Cheezey

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 5
« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2014, 10:59:47 PM »
Chapter Six

Cylc0n3 was right on time picking Blair up from the station, which came as somewhat of a surprise.  Although she wouldn’t say he was unreliable, he had always been forgetful.  More than once she’d had to remind him about important things that he would have completely forgotten otherwise.  Assignments, appointments, due dates, and back when they had been dating, he even forgot on Love Day what day it was, and that he was supposed to take her out to dinner at the Bistro.  Luckily for Cycl0n3, Blair was both forgiving and patient.  Others they knew, Blair’s mother included, considered Cycl0n3 fortunate that he still had a girlfriend after that goof.

When Blair climbed into the car with Cycl0n3, she noticed his clean cut business casual attire.  “Don’t you look all nicely pressed and corporate?” she teased.  “Well, except for the hair and the stubble.”

“Funny, Pigtails,” Cycl0n3 retorted, before remembering that the nickname he’d called Blair back in high school no longer seemed to apply to her.  “Or, rather, Officer Formerly-Known-As-Pigtails.”  He flashed her a cheeky look.  “I admit, I miss being able to call you that.”

“You do remember that drove me nuts, right?”

“Why do you think I miss being able to do it?”

“Hmph.  How would you like it if I started calling you ‘Corporate Cl0n3’ instead of Cycl0n3?”

He made a face.  “Oh!  That’s just mean.  You wound me, Officer Blondie.”

“Ugh!  And that’s even worse than ‘Pigtails!’”  She shook a finger at him in playful warning as they pulled into the garage.  “Don’t ever let Hank or Justine hear you call me that.  They’d never let me live it down, and even worse, they might pick it up!”

Cycl0n3’s grin widened.  “Ah, do I sense blackmail material?”

“I’m serious!  Call me that in front of them, and I’ll haul you in and throw you in lockup.”

He snickered as they got out of the car and headed into the building.  “Gonna rough me up and put me in handcuffs, too?  I might like that.” 

“Oh, shut up,” Blair said, suddenly embarrassed by his borderline inappropriate joking as she realized there was someone coming down the stairs. 

Cycl0n3, on the other hand, was unfazed.  “Hey, Tam,” he greeted her as she joined them.

“I heard the car pull in, so I thought I’d come down and meet you.”  She smiled at Blair.  “Hi.  I’m Tamara.  You must be Blair.  Cycl0n3’s told us about you.”

“Good things, I hope?”  She cast a sideways glance at him.

“Yup.  Nothing you need to get on his case for,” Tamara said with a knowing look.  “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too.”

“I’m sorry Emma couldn’t be here.  She was supposed to have the evening off, but her boss called in because her kid’s sick, so the restaurant wanted her to come in for some last minute overtime to help them through the dinner rush.”

Blair nodded.  “I understand.  It’s fine.”

“But hey, on the bright side, we might get some free food tonight.”  Cycl0n3 looked at Blair.  “One of the perks of Emma’s job is she gets to bring leftovers home sometimes.  In this Kyle-inspired financial crunch, it’s saved our bacon… sometimes with actual bacon.  And you know everything’s better with bacon.”

“Ooh, stop.  You’re making me hungry.  Speaking of which, I guess the kitchen’s as good a place as any to start the tour.  Come on upstairs.”  Tamara gestured for Blair to go up.

“And since you’ve got this, Tam, I’m going to change and meet back up with you guys.  That cool?”

“Sure,” Tamara answered.

“Fine by me.”

“Great.”  Cycl0n3 raced up the stairs while Tamara and Blair followed.

It didn’t take Cycl0n3 very long to change back into his normal clothes, and Blair and Tamara were still chatting near the kitchen when he returned.  Tamara was very talkative, Blair noticed, but not in an off-putting way.  She was outgoing and charming, and Blair felt at ease around her despite her normal introversion.  She found out that Tamara worked at City Hall, and was older than she would have guessed.  Blair had assumed that Cycl0n3’s roommates were around his age, give or take a couple of years, but Tamara was in her late twenties.  Not that it mattered, other than it made Blair feel a bit out of her element as someone just going out on her own for the first time.

They joined Cycl0n3 by some couches near a television.  “So, we’ve got our TV here, and of course, the video games.”  He grinned.  “Quality entertainment is one of the first things I made sure this place was up to speed on back when I moved in.  That’s the new system I got last semester, and all the games are under there.  I could probably get your system set up in here, too, but mine’s the newer version of it.  Or if you want to bring a TV, we could hook one up in your room.  There should be enough space.”

Blair shrugged.  “I don’t have enough time to play much anymore, really.  My games are in the living room at home now.  When my parents got a new TV a couple months ago, I had Dad put my console out there.  I think he plays it more than I do now.”

Bored by the video game talk, Tamara got the tour back on track.  “Down there are the guys’ rooms.  There’s a shared bathroom between them, but it’s fine to use it when you’re down here.  We tend to go through that room,” she gestured to the closer door, “because it’s empty until Stiles moves in, but you can get in on Cycl0n3’s side, too.  If you want to brave the nerd lair, as Emma calls it.”

“That’s not going to bother Blair.  She’s been in my bedroom plenty of times.”

Tamara raised an eyebrow, and Blair felt her face turn red when she realized how Tamara took Cycl0n3’s remark.  “We’ve known each other a long time,” she explained.  “I met him my freshman year of high school.  We used to hang out at our houses a lot.” 

“Ah.  Cool.”  Tamara could tell Blair was embarrassed, so she moved on with the tour.  “So, that’s the downstairs other than the balconies.  One of them gives a view of the complex’s pool, but depending on who’s there and what they’re wearing, you might either love or hate the view,” she said with a grin.  “Living here gives you automatic membership, but lots of others in town have memberships, too, so it’s not just the residents you’ll see there.  With how hot it’s been, the pool’s been pretty inviting lately, I’ve got to say.”

They went upstairs, which had a similar layout, although the common area there had an easel, chess board, and a desk with a computer on it.  “The other three bedrooms are up here.  That’s Emma’s easel, and that’s the door to her room right by it.  My room’s the one down there, above Cycl0n3’s.  It’s the same set up with a bathroom in there, but guests usually only use the one downstairs anyway.  The room you’d be taking is the one over the kitchen.  It’s got the perk of having its own bathroom.”

“It’s got the downside of being Pepto-Bismol pink, but I think you like that color, so I guess you won’t mind,” Cycl0n3 added as they went in.

Blair took a look around the room, and immediately liked it.  Sure, the décor wasn’t exactly what she would have picked, but it had a small balcony that overlooked downtown Sunset Valley, and the private bathroom was a huge plus.  Having a near-stranger roommate walk in on her in the shower was one of those things Blair did not want to have to worry about.  The room was also situated away from the other bedrooms, which made her feel better about being able to have enough space to herself.

“You like it?” Cycl0n3 asked hopefully.

“Yeah.”  Blair nodded.  “How come I’m getting a room with its own bathroom, though?  I’d have thought one of you would take it.”

“Extra flights of stairs aren’t my thing,” Cycl0n3 said lazily.  “Plus Kyle was in here when I moved in.  I don’t care enough to move.”

“I like my room how it is, and I don’t want a balcony that gives me a great view of where I work.  I’d rather share a bathroom,” Tamara admitted.  “Emma tried this room, but she didn’t like the noise in the kitchen downstairs in the mornings, because she works later shifts and sleeps in.”

 “That wouldn’t bother me. I get up early anyway,” Blair said.  She took another look around, and realized how much she liked it.  After a quick look at the bathroom, which was spacious but, as Cycl0n3 said, very pink, her mind was made up.  It wasn’t like she was going to end up anywhere that much better if she didn’t take the offer.  Tamara was nice, so that was at least two of the roommates she would go in knowing and feeling comfortable around.  “I like it.  I’ll take the room.”

“Awesome!  I knew you’d love it here.”

“Great!  When can you move in?” asked Tamara.

Blair felt a little overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, but in a good way.  “Um, pretty soon, I guess.  This weekend is probably the soonest, if I can get a van for my stuff on such short notice.”
“That’d be perfect,” Tamara said.  “I can help you unload and unpack if you need it.  I’ll be here all weekend.”

“Same here,” said Cycl0n3.  “Let me go grab a copy of the rental papers and lease and all that junk for you.”  He started for the door, but then paused.  “Uh, where is that again, Tam?  I forget where we keep that stuff.”

“In a folder in the kitchen drawer where we keep the take-out menus and appliance manuals.”  Tamara’s impatient tone implied it was not the first time she had told him that.

“Okay.  Be right back.”

When Cycl0n3 left, Tamara took the opportunity to talk to Blair for a moment.  “I’m glad you decided to move in with us.  I like you.  At first, I didn’t know what to expect from one of Cycl0n3’s friends, especially an ex-girlfriend, but I’m glad he suggested you.”

“Thanks,” Blair said with a smile.  “I like you, too.”

“I have to ask, though,” Tamara said, glancing at the door for a moment.  “How did you ever date Cycl0n3 and not end up killing him?  Don’t get me wrong, I like him and all, but sometimes…”

Blair laughed.  “I know what you mean.  He’s got a knack for putting his foot in his mouth.  I guess I just learned to take it in stride after being around him so long.  I know him well enough to know when he’s just joking around and doesn’t mean to be a jerk, and when he actually is being a jerk,” she said, thinking about how Cycl0n3 had acted when he met Hank.

“Fair enough.  I admit sometimes I can’t tell, and some of the stuff he says makes me want to throw him into that pool over there… from the roof.  But despite that, he does grow on you after a while.”  Tamara and Blair went back out into the hallway just in time to meet Cycl0n3 coming up the stairs with the papers. 

“Here you go.”

“Thanks.  I’ll look these over tonight and let you know if I can move this weekend,” Blair said to Tamara before turning to Cycl0n3.  “You ready to head over to my house now?”


Blair and Cycl0n3 said goodbye to Tamara and went to her parents’ house.  On the way there, they chatted about the move, and the logistics of doing it over the weekend.  When they got there, Boyd and Susan were on the couch watching TV.

“Hi,” Blair greeted her parents as she and Cycl0n3 came in.  “I hope you don’t mind that I invited Cycl0n3 over.  I’m glad you’re both here.  I need to talk to you.”

Blair’s parents exchanged a look, and then Boyd went up and shook Cycl0n3’s hand while Blair sat on the couch next to her mother.  “Hi,” Boyd said to him.  “So I hear you changed your name to your screen name, huh?”

“Yeah.  I’m online so much that everyone knows me as that anyway, so I figured why not just get rid of the obsolete version?”

Boyd had to admit there was a certain logic to it, although he couldn’t fathom ever doing such a thing himself.  “Heh.  I bet it made some Sims U administrators do a double-take.”

Susan rose and greeted Cycl0n3 as well.  “How’s University going for you?”

Blair noticed an odd look flash across Cycl0n3’s face for a moment, but it went as quickly as it came, and Susan never noticed.  “It’s going all right.  Made the Dean's List both semesters.  I’m glad for a break, though.”

Boyd sat down on the couch with Blair.  “So, you said you wanted to talk to us about something?”

“Yeah.”  Blair looked over at Cycl0n3 and gathered her thoughts for a moment before answering.  “There’s an open room at Cycl0n3’s place downtown.  Their roommate moved out without notice, and they need someone to fill it as soon as possible.  He asked me if I’d like to take it.”   Blair saw her parents look at one another, and she felt a flutter of anxiousness as she continued.  “I’ve thought about it, and I decided I’m going to take him up on the offer.”

“You’re moving out.”  Susan was not surprised, but only because Boyd had been forewarned by what he read in TarzWar guild chat.  Boyd stood up, remaining silent with his expression neutral, while Blair responded to her mother.

“I’m ready to.  I’ve got my job on the force, and I have enough simoleons saved to do it.  Plus, I’ll be downtown right by work.  Most of the time when I’m called in, it’s for something downtown anyway.  I’ll be closer to work and the gym, and spend less on gas.”

“All sensible reasons to consider moving,” Boyd said, glancing at Cycl0n3.  “I take it that’s why you’re here tonight?”

“I know you and Mom worry about me, and I figured you’d have questions about the place,” Blair told her father.  “He’s lived there a while, so he can answer them better than I can.”

“Okay.  First question.  How many roommates will you have in this place?  Do you know any of them other than him?”  He turned to Cycl0n3.  “How well do you know them?”

“Just two right now,” said Blair.  “I met Tamara tonight, and she seemed really nice.”

“Emma’s cool.  She and Blair won’t have any trouble getting along,” Cycl0n3 volunteered.

Susan raised an eyebrow at Cycl0n3.  “So it’s you and two other girls?  Blair being a third?”

Cycl0n3 could not help but laugh.  “Oh, it’s not like that.  We’re all just roommates, just friends.  The one Blair’s replacing was a guy who decided he liked living at Sims U better than Sunset Valley, and we’ve got a new guy coming in a couple weeks, too.  He’s just stuck in a lease until the end of the month.”

“And you know him?” Susan asked.

“No.  I never met him.”

“You never met him, but you’re going to live with him?” Boyd asked incredulously.  “And you want my daughter to come live with you and this guy you don’t even know?  How do you know he’s not some serial killer?”

Blair sighed.  “Oh, my Watcher.  He’s not a serial killer, Dad.”

“How could you possibly know that?  You haven’t met him.  For all you know, this guy could be one of those psychos that seems like the nice boy next door, until they find body parts in his freezer.”

“His name is Stiles McGraw.  He works at the theater,” Cycl0n3 told him.  “I didn’t meet him, but Tamara and Emma did, and they said he seemed pretty normal and not skeevy or weird like the others who called.”

“Oh.  Knowing that he was the least objectionable makes me feel a lot better.”

“Dad, I’d have lived with strangers if I went to University, anyway, so how is this any different?  Besides, I’m a cop.  I’m better trained to handle someone like that than any of them, if you think about it.”

Susan could tell how agitated Boyd was getting, and realized he was well on his way to convincing himself that their daughter was moving in with the next Charles Mansim.  “Cycl0n3, obviously you trust your roommates’ judgment on this, but I’m sure you can also understand our concerns here.”  She came to Boyd’s side, and looked at Blair.  “You have access to background checks at work, right?  How hard would it be to get one on this new guy?”

“Not hard at all.  I could do that, if it’d make you feel better,” she volunteered.

“It would.  A police record would show any red flags.”

“Assuming he’s been arrested before,” Boyd muttered, although he didn’t argue farther, much to Susan’s relief. 

She gestured toward the kitchen.  “We have enough dinner for a guest, if you’d like to stay, Cycl0n3.  How about we continue this discussion while we eat?”

Over dinner, Boyd and Susan continued to grill Cycl0n3 about the specifics on where Blair was moving, and the roommates she would be living with, to the point that Blair thought that if they ever wanted to quit being scientists, they wouldn’t be half bad interrogators.  Cycl0n3 handled it well, though, and to Blair’s surprise, he avoided any significant foot-in-mouth incidents throughout the entire meal.  It helped when he brought up how he had optimized the lofts’ internet service.  While Blair found the topic rather dry, it seemed to impress both of her parents, and lightened the overall mood.

After dinner, Susan took Blair aside for a talk while Cycl0n3 looked through her console games for any he wanted her to bring when she moved. 

“I can tell you really want to do this, but I can’t help but question how wise it is for you to move in with Cycl0n3.”

Blair seemed surprised.  “Why?  Don’t tell me you don’t trust him?  I figured you’d be glad I was living with someone I knew, rather than strangers.”

“It’s not that,” Susan said, trying to think of the best way to put it.  “It’s how you know him.  I know you’re still friendly with him, but he’s also your ex-boyfriend.  You hadn’t seen him in a long time, and now, right after he’s back in town, you’re planning to move in with him.”  She gave her a concerned look.  “I’m not judging or trying to pry, but if you’re involved with him again, or thinking about it, moving in with him right now is not a good idea.”

“Mom, we’re just friends.  That’s all we’ve been since he left for University last year,” Blair said with a frustrated sigh.  Hadn’t she had this same conversation with Hank yesterday?

“You were heartbroken when he left,” Susan reminded her gently.  “I recall you saying—”

“I remember the kind of stuff I said, Mom.  I was really depressed at the time.  It hit me harder than I thought when he left, but it was a long time ago now.  I’m over it.”

Susan glanced at Cycl0n3, who was talking to Boyd by the TV.  “Are you sure?  You haven’t had the chance to spend that much time with him yet, and you haven’t seen anyone else since then, have you?”

“We talked on SimBook a lot.  And no, I haven’t, but he has.  Last semester he had a girlfriend at University for a while.  It was no big deal to me.”  In truth, when Blair first read that status, it had stung a little, but it was not like she lost sleep over it.  She had been sincere when she wished Cycl0n3 well at the time, even though said relationship ended up not working out and barely lasted a month.

“Talking on the internet isn’t necessarily like being with someone in the same physical space.”

“Online or in person, we’re still just friends,” Blair said, her tone getting a little short in its frustration.  “I appreciate the concern, Mom, but there’s nothing to worry about.  Everything else is in the past and completely over, and it’s going to stay that way.  Really.”

Susan could tell there would be no point in pressing the conversation further, so she let it go.  “All right.”  She offered her a smile.  “I guess we’ll have to find you some boxes for packing, then.”

While Susan talked with Blair, Boyd took the opportunity to speak to Cycl0n3 one on one.  “Cycl0n3, I’d like a word with you, if you don’t mind.”

Cycl0n3 had a sudden flashback to the time he was seventeen, and Boyd asked him to step out on the patio to talk to him.  It had been on a night when Boyd and Susan returned from dinner out only to find Cycl0n3 and Blair lip-locked on the living room couch.  Apparently, Blair had not yet gotten around to informing her parents that they were dating, so it caught them by surprise.  He was relieved when Boyd had not been loud, or even unreasonable, when he spoke to him.  He gave Cycl0n3 a standard parent-to-boyfriend warning that he expected him to treat his daughter well and with respect, which Cycl0n3 assured him that he would.  Then, right before they went back inside, Boyd informed him in that same calm and reasonable manner that he would feed him to a cow plant if he ever found out that he had mistreated Blair. 

He straightened and tried not to think of cow plants as he responded.  “Okay.”

“Blair’s moving in with you because she trusts you not to let her down, or have her move somewhere she won’t be happy,” Boyd said, his tone quiet but serious.  “You’re looking for a roommate because you need to fill a room.  I don’t doubt you asked Blair because you’ve known her for a long time and like her.  I assume that also means you care about her.”

Cycl0n3 felt uncomfortable under Boyd’s piercing stare.  “Well, yeah.  She’s a good friend.”

Boyd nodded.  “So you realize that a good part of why she’s doing this is because she wants to help you out, right?  Yes, she’d move out on her own sooner or later regardless, but the reason she’s moving now, into your place, is because you asked her to.  We both know that otherwise, her first choice would not be living with others she doesn’t know, regardless of who else was there.”

“Probably not,” Cycl0n3 agreed.

“I think it speaks volumes as to how much she cares about you, Cycl0n3.  Please keep that in mind and look out for her.  We both know how trusting she is, and how easily she can be hurt.  I’m sure neither of us want to see that happen.”

“No, of course not.  I wouldn’t let anyone mess with Blair,” Cycl0n3 said.

“Good.  I’m glad to hear it.”  Although Boyd still had misgivings about the whole situation, Cycl0n3 seemed sincere enough that he believed that he wasn’t intentionally leading Blair on or trying to use her, at least.  It didn’t mean that her moving in with him wouldn’t be a complete disaster, but he supposed it made it bode a little less ominously. 

Blair and Susan’s conversation seemed to be over, and they joined Boyd and Cycl0n3 a moment later.  “So, I just finished telling Mom that I want to move this weekend if I can,” Blair told her father. 

“That soon?  Wow.”  Boyd glanced at Susan, who gave him a wistful smile in return.  “Okay, if you think you can get what you need to done by then.”

“I should.  As long as I can get a moving van on such short notice.”

“I can take a look online for you if you want.”

Blair smiled.  “Thanks.  Mom offered to help find me some luggage and boxes, too.  I guess I need to start packing stuff up.”  She looked at Cycl0n3.  “Thanks for coming by tonight.”

“No problem.  Happy to help, Officer Bl—uh, Officer,” he amended, catching Blair’s “don’t you dare” look.  “I’ll message you later.”  He nodded to Boyd and Susan.  “Good night.  Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome, Cycl0n3,” Susan said, still feeling a bit silly calling him by that name.

“Good night,” Boyd said.

After Cycl0n3 left, Susan turned to Blair.  ‘Well, that was quite a surprise tonight.”

“Sorry.  I know it was kind of sudden.  I wasn’t really thinking of moving yet, but I’m sure it’ll be good.  You’ll like the place.  I think I actually got the best room there.”

“We look forward to seeing it,” Boyd said.  “Just don’t forget to stop by and see us once in a while.”

Susan nodded in agreement.  “Or call.  We’ll miss you.”

“I know.”  Blair gave her mom a hug.  “I’m going to get started on the packing project, so if I don’t see you again before bed, good night.”

Boyd and Susan told her good night in return, and once she was gone, looked at each other.

“I guess that settles any doubt as to whether TarzWar Cycl0n3 is Blair’s Cycl0n3,” Susan remarked. 

“Yeah.”  Boyd sighed.  “At least we got some warning.”

“Do you think she’ll be all right there?”

“Physically?  Yes,” Boyd replied.  “As far as living with Cycl0n3 and not having it affect her?  Not likely.”

“She didn’t want to hear a word of what I had to say about that, you know.  How can she think it’s a good idea?”

“Probably because he also seems to think it’s a good idea.” 

Susan gave him a curious look.  “How did that go, by the way?”

“Better than I thought it would when I first read that chat log,” Boyd said.  “At first I thought he was after some kind of summer rehash of their old relationship, and Blair would end up devastated once he left again.”

“I thought that, too,” Susan said.  “And frankly, if that happens, I’ll feed him to Audrey IV myself.  There’s no way he could not realize how much that would hurt her.”

“But after seeing them tonight, and talking to them, I didn’t get the impression that’s what’s going on.  At least not consciously.  Cycl0n3’s not a bad kid.  I think he thinks, just like she does, that they’re just a couple of friends who get along deciding to move in together.  He’s not manipulating her.  I can tell he cares about her.”

“Mmm-hmm,” Susan said in a knowing tone.  “Quite a bit, from what I saw.  Did you see how he was looking at her?  Or how she still looks at him?” 

Boyd nodded.  “I noticed.  I also felt someone hit my foot trying to play footsie under the table at dinner, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you.”  He gave her a half-smile.  “You never do that unless you have your shoes off.”

“Or when we have company,” Susan replied.  “So what do you think?  A week?  Two?  A month, tops?”

Boyd raised an eyebrow.  “Before they’re back together?  Probably something like that.”  He shook his head.  “I just hope the next bombshell I see in guild chat isn’t Cycl0n3 announcing that he just got back from Lucky Palms after eloping with his ex-girlfriend roommate.”

“Well, you could always ‘fess up that you know who he is.”

“Hmm… no.  I’ll manage.”

Susan smirked.  “I figured.  Besides, much as I hate to admit it, the insider knowledge is handy.  Imagine if we hadn’t had advance warning about this?”

“I’d rather not.  Give me a hug for that.”  He pulled her close, enjoying the moment before speaking again.  “See, I told you it’s not ‘trolling.’”

“Yes it is.  It’s trolling with a purpose and useful results, but it’s still trolling.” 

“Which you’re above, right?” he teased.

She grinned back at him.  “Of course.  I’ve got you to do the trolling for both of us.  Keep up the good work, honey.”

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 6
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2014, 09:05:27 AM »
I give it one day after Stiles moves in before Blair and Cycl0n3 are back together.  If Cycl0n3 was that jealous about her boss, how will he cope when a sweet nice guy like Stiles appears on the scene.  Meow!  Great update Cheezey! ;D
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

My Stories:
1. Duty Calls
2. Duty Calls Sequel: Islands of Sunset Valley
3. The Lady of the Lake
4. The Secret Time Traveler

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 7
« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2014, 12:22:07 PM »
I give it one day after Stiles moves in before Blair and Cycl0n3 are back together.  If Cycl0n3 was that jealous about her boss, how will he cope when a sweet nice guy like Stiles appears on the scene.  Meow!  Great update Cheezey! ;D

Thanks, Magz! I admit I have too much fun with jealous Cycl0n3.

Author's Note: Phew! Sorry it's been so long since the last update! For those of you still following, thanks for bearing with me!

Chapter Seven

It seemed like no time at all until moving day was upon them.  Blair knew she should probably be in bed instead of on the computer so late that Friday night, but just going on for a minute to check a few things turned into an hour after Cycl0n3 saw her online and began chatting with her.  She stayed up until almost one in the morning, until she realized she’d have no energy to pack the van due to arrive in about seven hours if she didn’t get some sleep.

As it turned out, Blair was so excited and anxious about the move that she woke up right on time anyway.  She was double-checking the spreadsheet she made of last-minute items to pack when Boyd came in to tell her the van had arrived.

“We can start loading up whenever you’re ready.  I don’t suppose you’re on there recruiting some of your workout buddies with strong young backs to come and help move the boxes, are you?”

Blair chortled.  “Sorry, Dad.  Hank said he’d come by and lend a hand if he was up, but when he said he was going to Mick’s with Pauline after she got off work at the theater last night, I didn’t hold out much hope that he wouldn’t sleep in today.  He’ll probably just pitch in over at the lofts while I unload,” she explained.  “Justine’s not in any condition to help now.  She found out earlier this week that she’s pregnant, so she shouldn’t be lifting much.  I didn’t even mention it to her.  Otherwise she’d probably come by and volunteer anyway, and I’d have to argue with her about it.  She argued with her doctor about taking on light duty at work.”

“Thinks she’s Awesome Woman, huh?  Reminds me of someone else I know.”  Boyd smiled at his daughter.  “Well, pass along congratulations from me and your mom.  Officer Keaton seems like a nice lady, and I’m glad you’ve made friends with her and Hank.  I wouldn’t have minded letting him haul a couple of those bigger boxes, though.”

“I can get the heavy ones if you want, Dad.  I know your back bothers you sometimes.” 

“No, it’s fine.”  Although Boyd was the first to admit that fitness was far from his priority, having his daughter offer to move heavy things for him made him feel distinctly old, especially considering it was on the day she was leaving home because she was grown up.  He picked up a box that was sealed and ready to go.  “Save your energy.  You’re the one who’s got unloading and unpacking to do after this part is done.  Your mom and I have it easy compared to you.”

It didn’t take long to get everything outside.  Blair took one last look around her room, her old room now, she thought to herself, and headed out to the driveway where her parents were setting down the last of her luggage.  Susan pulled Blair into a hug as she approached. 

“I just want to tell you how proud I am of you, sweetie,” Susan said.  “I know I’ve been... a bit critical of some of your decisions.  I’m sorry if that hurt you, or made you feel like you let us down somehow.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I’m very happy with who my daughter grew into, and all that she’s accomplished.”

“Thanks, Mom.”  Blair hugged her back.  “That means a lot.”

“I’ll also miss you.  Don’t forget to call and visit, even if you do keep in touch over SimBook.”

“Of course I will.” 

Boyd put a hand on Blair’s shoulder.  “What your mother said goes for me, too.  Stay safe, honey.  We love you.  And if you need anything, we’re just a call or message away.”

Blair gave her father a kiss on the cheek.  “I know.  I love you both, too.  Thanks for everything.”

Soon they had the van loaded with all of Blair’s things, and she was on her way to her new home.  Boyd and Susan watched her go, remaining quiet until after they were done waving and the moving van had driven out of sight.

“It’s hard to believe she’s really gone,” Susan remarked, her eyes still on the now empty road.

“I know.  But she’ll be fine.  You said so yourself, right?”  Boyd looked over at Susan with a slight smile.  “At least, you did a fantastic job of convincing me of that last night when worrying about her kept me up.”

“Logically, I know that.  But you know how illogical feelings can be.”

“Of course.  If emotions didn’t so thoroughly muddle rational thought, none of us would have half our problems.”

Susan smirked.  “You know, we sound like a couple of Vulcans.”

“Indeed,” Boyd replied in a distinctly Spock-like tone that made them both chuckle, lightening their mood.

Boyd turned toward Susan.  “You know, with all the running around getting Blair’s stuff together, I never thought about what we’d do today after she left.  Any ideas?”

“For today specifically?  Not beyond showing you the package I want to book for our Isla Paradiso vacation.  We just need to figure out what dates to ask time off for.”

“Sounds good.  I wouldn’t mind seeing some exotic foliage that isn’t growing in my workspace for a change.  Maybe we could even take a fishing course or two while we’re on the islands.  Landgraab Industries would reimburse us.”

Susan raised an eyebrow.  “Think we could get away with calling our vacation a business expense?”

“Maybe if the Landgraab Industries accounting department answered to us and not the Landgraabs,” Boyd remarked dryly.  “But the class fee is better than nothing, right?  It’ll look good on paper.  Maybe we can finally get those promotions we’ve been angling for.”

“That was an awful pun.”

Boyd frowned, and then realized what Susan meant.  “It wasn’t intentional.  But yes, had it been, I agree.”

Their conversation was cut short when Susan got a phone call.

“Oh, hi, Jack,” she said upon answering the phone.  Boyd realized it must be their neighbor, Jack Bunch.  The Wainwrights had known the Bunches for years.  They were a nice enough family, a couple with four children, who lived just down the road.  Judy Bunch also worked at Landgraab Industries, and was both Boyd and Susan’s supervisor.  Her husband, Jack, worked for the military and was a sporty outdoorsman type that had little in common with either Boyd or Susan. 

Despite that, Jack and Susan had hit it off from day one, and were quite friendly with one another.  Boyd understood where an outgoing personality like Jack could be entertaining in small doses, but Susan did not get bored by Jack’s favorite subjects of landscaping, work stories, sports, and crazy things his kids did as quickly as Boyd did.  Especially when he could be doing something like playing TarzWar instead.

Boyd was inside on his computer when Susan got off the phone.

“Jack invited us over for a barbecue.  They decided to do some grilling since it’s such a nice day, and asked if we’d like to come.  I told him we’d stop by.  You don’t mind, do you?”

“I guess not.” 

“Could you sound any less enthusiastic?”

“The last time we went to a Bunch barbecue, Arlo nearly destroyed my tablet with a stray baseball.”

“You could just leave it at home, you know.  I do.  I know how rowdy those kids can be.”

“I could also just stay here and play TarzWar while you go over.  I’m not sure I’m up for an afternoon of Jack’s military stories.  I know you get a kick out of them, but—”

“What?  No.  Come on.  It’s just for an hour or two.”  She raised her eyebrows.  “I go to Gunther’s Leisure Day parties with you without arguing.”

Much like Boyd felt about Jack and the Bunches, Susan felt about spending more than a short time at Boyd’s friend Gunther Goth’s home.  While Boyd found its dark and gloomy atmosphere, backyard cemetery, and reputation for being haunted fascinating, Susan found it distinctly creepy.  Boyd and Gunther had known each other since their youth, as Boyd’s father had been a friend of Victor Goth’s.  Even though Boyd and Gunther had grown up into rather different personalities, the two of them still got along well.  Susan found it hard to warm up to Gunther beyond a friendly acquaintance, however.  Despite his charming demeanor, Gunther could be quite moody and brusque at times.  While Boyd just shrugged that off, chalking it up to it just being how Gunther was, it rubbed Susan the wrong way more often than not. 

“Fair enough,” Boyd agreed.  “Let’s go.”

When Blair arrived at her new home, Cycl0n3, Tamara, and someone she did not recognize, but guessed must be Emma, were all there to welcome her.  At first, Blair was a little surprised by Emma, who had the appearance of someone rather intimidating.  She reminded Blair of the more rebellious crowd from school, the ones that liked to look and act tough, and more often than not, got in trouble.  But she soon discovered that Emma was not only warm and welcoming, but witty and entertaining as well. 

The chore of unpacking and moving went smoothly with the help and company of her new roommates.  By the time Hank called to say he could come by and help, they were nearly done, so Blair just thanked him anyway and told him she’d see him on Monday.

To celebrate the arrival of their newest roommate, they ordered a pizza.  Emma normally would have cooked, but on her day off and after moving, she wasn’t in the mood.  Instead, she was curious about their new arrival.

“So, Cycl0n3 said you’re a cop?”

Blair nodded.  “I joined the force not too long ago.”

“That’s cool.  You like it?”

“Yeah.  I mean, it’s an exciting job.  Not what I do now, so much, but still better than a desk job.  Eventually I want to be a special agent.”

“Going into the intelligence branch, I’m not confident your partner’s going to be with you for the long haul,” Cycl0n3 remarked.

Blair gave him a sharp look.  “That was mean.  You hardly know Hank.  Why do you think he’s stupid?  He’s not.”

“Hank Goddard?” asked Emma.

Tamara nodded.  “Yeah.  Talk about someone who can wear that uniform well...”

“Well, I’ve got nothing in it, but just to warn you, my friend Ayesha hangs out here a lot, and she’s not exactly his biggest fan after he arrested her a while back.  We might not want to invite them to the same parties, if you know what I mean.”

The mention of parties made Blair feel a little anxious.  “I’m not really a partying type anyway.”  She gave Cycl0n3 a questioning look.  “Do you throw a lot of parties here?” 

“Nah.  Not that many.”

“I love a good party, but I’m trying to distance myself from that scene a little,” Tamara admitted.  “Hard as it can be sometimes.”

“Oh.”  Blair suddenly felt awkward, and realized that even though she liked her roommates, she hardly knew Tamara or Emma at all.  The idea of coming home to a party going on unexpectedly made her want to run into her room and hide—which was pretty much what she would do if such a situation happened.  “Um, could you warn me if you’re going to have a big party here?  I really don’t like crowds.”

“Sure,” Emma said.  “Cycl0n3’s right, we don’t do anything like that often.  We might have a friend or two over, but not more than that without some kind of planning.”

“Actually, Stiles, the guy moving in soon, said he didn’t like that kind of thing, either.  So if we do have a party or something, we’d definitely run it by you guys.  I promise,” Tamara assured her.

“Thanks.  I appreciate it.”  Blair stood up.  “I’m a little tired, so I think I’m going to go and unpack a few things in my room and then relax.”

“Sounds cool.  I’m going to head over next door and hang out with Ayesha.  Catch you guys later,” Emma said.

“Later,” replied Tamara.  “I’m probably going out in a while myself.  I’m guessing neither of you want to tag along?”

Blair shook her head, while Cycl0n3 got up and started to head toward his room.  “Nope.  I’m raiding with the guild later.  We’re taking out an alien base on the north zone of the wasteland.”

“Oooh.  You wild man,” Tamara quipped sarcastically.

“Aw, you ladies know you want some of this level 86 rogue.”

Both Blair and Tamara snickered as they headed up the stairs together.  “The sad part is, I think he thinks that is a good come-on,” Tamara said.

“Oh, I’m about 85% sure he was joking.”

“Only 85%?”

“Well, Cycl0n3 is really into that game,” Blair said with a grin, and the two dissolved in to giggles again.

The Bunch barbecue was pretty much like Boyd and Susan expected.  Ethan, Arlo, and Darlene were having a grand time with their new backyard water slide, while Lisa spent almost the entire time they were there on the phone over by the fence.  Jack grilled a platter of hot dogs and shared some latrine-humor anecdotes from work.  After that, Susan told Jack all about how the new girl at the lab nearly got Boyd eaten by a cow plant.

Jack laughed heartily at the mental image of Boyd escaping with only his shoe as a casualty.  “So, you’ve got some war stories of your own now, huh?”

“Something like that.”  Boyd was not sure if he should be offended that his near brush with grievous bodily harm was considered so hilarious.

Judy shook her head.  “I know I apologized already after it happened, but still, I’m so sorry about that, Boyd.  I oversaw Madison’s re-training myself.”

“I know.  I appreciate it.  She’s fine in there now.  Gobias said she was a big help this past week, actually.”

“You know, I heard some of the top brass was looking into the military potential of those things,” Jack told them.  “Can you imagine?  Of all the stupid ideas.  How in Sim Nation do they think we can effectively control a bunch of ravenous flesh-eating plants without serious casualties?”

Susan shook her head.  “Isn’t it comforting to know that management in the military is just as short-sighted and inept as it seems to be in our field?”

“Oh, tell me about it.”  Judy sighed.  “It’s like dealing with children sometimes, except I don’t expect to have do to that at work.”

Boyd’s cell phone rang, and he excused himself.

“Hey, speaking of children, Susan, how is Blair doing?” asked Jack.  “I saw your post on SimBook about her moving out?”

“That was today,” Susan said with a wistful smile.  “She packed up the bulk of her things and drove over to her new place this morning.”

“Hard to believe,” Judy remarked.  “It seems like just yesterday she was a little girl selling scouting cookies to the neighborhood.”

“Speaking of which, Darlene’s got plenty of Skinny Mints and Snickerdraws up for sale,” Jack said.  “Those are the ones you and Boyd always get, right?”

“Yes.  I’ll pick up a couple of boxes.”

“Great!  I’ll let Darlene know.  Besides, the more she sells, the less we’ll have around tempting us.  We’re trying to eat a little healthier… well, aside from a couple of extra hot dogs we wanted to use up,” Judy said with a smile.

Jack nodded.  “Hence the impromptu barbecue.  But I’ve had one too many lectures from the doctor lately.  Blood pressure’s too high.  I have to do something about it and at least thirty pounds, or my commanding officer’s going to get on my case about it.  And believe me, that won’t help my blood pressure.”

“Well, your health is important, Jack,” Susan said.  “Not to sound like your doctor, but you are in the prime demographic for cardiac issues.”

“Yeah, I know.  It still doesn’t make it stink any less to give up everything that tastes good.” 

Boyd came over, finished with his call.  “Susan, I’ve got to go.  Gunther did something to his work laptop that’s beyond over-the-phone tech support.  I told him I’d head over and take a look at it for him.”

“All right.  See you later, then.”

“Bye.  Judy, Jack, thanks for lunch.”

“Anytime,” Jack replied as Arlo ran past them.  “You know you’re always welcome—HEY!  Darlene!”  He stood and shouted to his daughter, who was in hot pursuit of Arlo with a water balloon in her hand and an angry and determined expression on her face.  “Watch out for—”


It was too late.  The water balloon Darlene threw hit Susan and exploded.

“—Mrs. Wainwright,” Jack finished on a defeated note.

A panicked look flashed across Darlene’s features.  “I’m sorry.  I meant to get Arlo.”

“Well, that’s not who you got, now is it?” Judy scolded.

“Told you your aim’s bad,” Arlo said, making a face at his sister, but he quieted down as soon as his mother gave him a warning look.

“Sorry, Mrs. Wainwright.”  Darlene looked down at the ground.

“It’s... it’s all right,” Susan said, trying not to let her soaked pride color her response to the girl.  “Accidents happen.  But please be more careful.”  She frowned.  “I’m drenched.”

Judy gestured to the back patio door.  “Darlene, go get Mrs. Wainwright a towel.”

Boyd, who had not made it more than two steps, looked over at Susan.  “Want head home with me so you can change?”

Susan nodded.  “I think so, yes.  Don’t worry about the towel.  Thanks for having us over,” she said to Jack and Judy. 

“Anytime!” Jack called after them.

Once she was outside with Boyd, Susan said, “All right.  You can say it.  I know you want to.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.  I know you know how rowdy those kids are,” he said wryly as they headed home.  “But I am sorry they got you this time.”

“Me too.”  She sighed.  “But children will be children, I guess.”

“Well, I’m glad Blair was never so hyper,” Boyd said.  “Now I see how lucky we were that she was so well-behaved.”

“In all fairness, Blair never had siblings to lob projectiles at.”

“True.  But I still don’t envy Jack and Judy having to deal with that all the time.  My nerves couldn’t take it.”

“And to think, Judy mentioned something at work the other day about maybe having another baby.”

“Really?  They’re as old as we are,” Boyd said, surprised.  “Can you imagine, going through all that no sleep, baby crying all the time, trash cans full of dirty diapers stage again, at our age?”

“It makes me tired just thinking about it, and our island vacation that much more appealing.”  Susan smiled as they reached their driveway, and Boyd headed for the car.  “Here’s hoping Gunther didn’t mess up that computer you have to fix too badly.”

“I figure it can’t be much worse than the time he cheaped out on renewing his subscription to his anti-virus software, and clicked some popup claiming it would make his computer run better for free if he installed it, right?”  He started the car.  “See you later, honey.”