Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 180032 times)

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #195 on: December 03, 2017, 06:46:58 PM »
I was so sad to notice the other day that your story had been moved to the Graveyard.

It's so extremely wonderful that you and your Wainwrights are back!!! Your remarks about TarzWar remind of WoW, lol.

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 43
« Reply #196 on: December 07, 2017, 10:42:48 PM »
Yay Cheezey.  I am sooooooo glad to see an update to this story.  I love the wonderful world you've created for the Wainwrights.  I've missed this.  Welcome back.  And poor Blair, Cycl0n3 really does suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, doesn't he.  ;)

Thank you! I'm glad you're still reading and enjoying it. :)

Yes, Cycl0n3 certainly has a knack for saying the wrong thing. One could say it's part of his charm, though. At least if you're not the one interacting with him directly, hah.

I was so sad to notice the other day that your story had been moved to the Graveyard.

It's so extremely wonderful that you and your Wainwrights are back!!! Your remarks about TarzWar remind of WoW, lol.

Thank you! I've actually never played WoW but as far as MMOs go, I have played Star Wars: The Old Republic and original EverQuest. (Oh boy am I dating myself there.  ;D)

Chapter 43

After their vacation, the Wainwrights returned to their research with renewed fervor.  They had made great progress toward a more stable and effective formulation of their anti-aging compound, LI-WX923.  It was still in a prototype stage, but they had a working version that made it through the initial testing phase.  Their original formula worked, but degraded too quickly to be of practical use.  They tweaked it, ran more experiments, and after a fair amount of trial and error, they now had a formulation that stayed at peak efficacy for a month in proper storage.  The Wainwrights had kept cow plants alive for the equivalent of three times their normal lifespan with LI-WX923 so far, much more efficiently than using rare and expensive life fruit alone.

When Susan presented the data to the board, they changed her title on paper to “Creature-Robot Cross-Breeder” to honor the achievement.  On their way out for the day, Boyd congratulated her, but lamented not going to the meeting with her.  He’d stayed behind in the lab to finish some ongoing tests, and then tossed a few extra swordfish to the functionally immortal cow plants instead.  “I could’ve had that swanky level 9 title conferred on me, too.”

“Oh, you got it.”  Susan gave his shoulder a squeeze.  “I just happened to be there and got all the praise in person today.  But I’m sure they’ll stop by and make it all official for you before you leave tomorrow.”

Boyd gave her a rueful smile.  “I know.  I’m just a little jealous.  Being honored by our colleagues as a top scientist is my lifelong dream.  I’m thrilled for you, but give me my five minutes to pout that I didn’t get it today, too.”

“Fair enough.” 

After work, Boyd and Susan changed, put Orion in his playpen, and went out to check on their plants in the greenhouse.  Their collection of rare and exotic plants was not only expanding, but thriving.  Their first money tree seedling had grown quite large and would bloom before long, while a second, smaller one, grew beside it.  Their crystal plant from Oasis Landing thrived, and their life fruit, death flower, and flame fruit plants were all going strong, too.  The one they were most excited about at the moment, though, was the so-called forbidden fruit, grown from the engineered seed with sim DNA.

“I think it’s finally ripe.”  Susan bent down over it.  “I’ve never seen a live one of these before.  Just the harvested ones at University.”

“If the fruit gives us enough seed, maybe we can plant several for research at the lab.”

“I’m half-surprised you’re not planning to eat it and try the plant sim lifestyle.”  That was a known side effect from eating the forbidden fruit.  The Wainwrights had read all of the existing research on forbidden fruit and the plantsim metamorphosis.  It fascinated them from a scientific perspective.

“I’m not that adventurous for science.”

“Says the man who went through a time portal and let his descendant talk him into a life-extending serum tattoo, so he could poke around a radioactive wasteland in the future,” Susan teased.

“You went, too.  You’d have gone with me the first time, if he hadn’t insisted one of us stay.  But to your original point, there’s a big difference between some age fudging and exploration, and experimenting with something that could permanently alter my state of being.  There’s a reason you didn’t see me sipping any fairy or werewolf or vampire potions when I dabbled at alchemy.”  He watched Susan carefully brush dirt off of the top of their fruit.  “Is it ready for harvest?”

“I think so.  Shall I do the honors?”

“By all means.”

Susan tugged gently on the stem.  “It’s large.  Heavy.  I think it might be bigger than we thought.” 

“Need a trowel?”

“No.”  She dug in her fingers.  “I’ve got it.  It’s coming loose.  It’s got a second bulb and—oh!”

Boyd saw it a second after Susan did.  The first “bulb” was not a bulb at all.  It was a head, with a face.  He stared at the green bundle in her hands in shock.  “Holy plumbob!”

“A plantsim!”  Susan was as stunned as her husband.  “I didn’t think our fruit could turn into one of these!  I thought a plantsim had to fertilize a forbidden fruit for it to grow a baby!”

“It must’ve been the DNA I engineered into the seed,” Boyd realized.  “I thought the splicing was just what allowed the genetic overwriting process to work.”

“That’s what I thought, too.  That’s what the research said.”

“Guess we need to publish an update.”

Susan used the hose to carefully clean the humanoid plant baby.  It squirmed and came to life, then opened its eyes and stretched its limbs, letting out a little cry.  “Oh, my Watcher, Boyd.  It’s a baby plantsim.  A living baby.  A girl.”  She wrapped her in a towel and met Boyd’s eyes with a mixture of amazement and disbelief.  “We have another baby.”

“Another surprise baby.”  Boyd could also hardly believe it.

“We’re four for four.  Unbelievable.  We really are getting too old for this,” Susan said, although her tone was not upset or unkind.  The little plantsim cried, and Susan rocked her gently. 

“Yes.”  Boyd came to her side and examined their new green bundle of joy.  His mind reeled with the implications, but despite his anxious nature, he did not freak out.  They’d managed to handle Orion, after all, and a plantsim was less complicated.  They were a known and accepted, albeit rare, phenomenon.  Caring for one would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about them and expand their scientific knowledge.  “But we’re probably better suited than most to take care of her.  At least there’s a legal protocol for registering plantsim births, and it’s not like we don’t have the money or space for another child.  Even if we aren’t as young as we used to be.”  He looked from the baby to Susan.  “Did you notice she looks like you?  Plant-ified, anyway.”

Susan saw it once he pointed it out.  The baby’s nose, lips, the shape of her eyes, and the position of her cheekbones were all similar to hers.  “Did you use my DNA in that seed?” 

“Yes.  The forbidden fruit splicing research showed better success with female DNA.  If I’d known this was a possibility, though, I’d have checked to see if you minded first.”  Boyd felt bad about that; he knew all too well what it felt like to have his DNA taken to create a child without being told.  While that had not been intentional on his part, unlike the aliens with him, and Susan had never minded donating samples to help their research, he still felt like he should apologize.  “I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right.  I told you to use it if you needed it, as long as it wasn’t for anything nefarious.”  She smiled at the baby.  “I can’t really call her that.  I suppose that makes her my actual daughter, genetically speaking.  Think how much we’ll learn about plantsims raising her.”

“What do you want to call her?”

“She’s a plant, so… flower name?  She was born in early spring.  That makes me think bulbs.  How about, hmm, Iris?”

Boyd touched the baby’s hand with his finger, and she curled her little green ones around it.  “Iris is a pretty name.  It suits her.”

“Iris it is, then.  Iris Wainwright.”  Susan held up baby Iris and smiled at her.  “Welcome to the family.  Guess we’d better introduce you to your big alien brother, and figure out how to explain you to your even bigger human brother, and then your grown sister and her family.”

They brought Iris inside, and Boyd lifted Orion out of the crib.  Susan carried the baby to him while Boyd leaned Orion in to see her.  Both Boyd and Susan felt a sense of déjà vu, remembering how they first introduced Patrick to Orion back when he’d been born.

“Hey, Orion.  There’s someone we want you to meet.”  Boyd gestured to the baby.  “This is your new baby sister, Iris.”

“She’s a plantsim.  That means she’s a little different.”  Susan felt like even the conversation was the same, except now they were introducing their alien child to a plant one, a situation even more fantastical.  She had the thought that if someone told her back before they had Patrick that one day she and Boyd would have the family they had now, she’d never have believed it.  “Iris is a special baby from the garden that’ll grow up like one of us.  She’ll walk and talk and play like you, but she’ll also be like a plant in some ways.  She’s green, kind of like you, but she’ll really like being out in the sun, and need lots of light.”

Orion stared at Iris intently.  “Outside baby?”

“That’s right,” said Boyd.  “She came from outside.”

Orion touched Iris, and she cooed back at him.  “Sister.  Baby.”

Susan nodded.  “Your baby sister.  Yes.  You’re her big brother now.  She’s going to need you and Patrick, and Blair and Chris to help look out for her, like they do for you.”  Orion grinned and giggled, while Boyd and Susan smiled at each other.  “Looks like he likes her.”

“That’s good.  The last thing we need is sibling rivalries on top of everything else.”

Boyd and Susan waited for Patrick to come home from scouting to tell him about his surprise plantsim sister.  They felt a bit bad about the timing, because it was a big day for Patrick.  His birthday was around the corner, and he was graduating out of the elementary scouting program.  He’d worked hard on his badges, and he had an award ceremony that night.  His after-school session that day had been his last day at it.  Patrick came home beaming with pride.

“Mom!  Dad!  Check it out!  I got all my badges now.  They even gave me special ones for the frogs and rocks I collected in France.  I’m going to have the biggest collection in the troop tonight!”

“That’s great!  Your teachers said you had a knack for the natural sciences.  Almost as much as you do for art.”

“Not that that’s a big surprise.  Our family is full of scientists and geniuses on both sides.  Great job, honey.  We’re very proud of you.”  Susan hugged him.

“Thanks.”  It was then that Patrick noticed Iris on the baby mat.  “Whoa, who’s the green baby?”  He looked over at Orion in the playpen, and realized the baby was a different shade of green than his alien brother. 

Susan picked Iris up and brought her over.  “She was a surprise.  This is your new little sister, Iris.  She’s a plantsim.”

“We kind of… grew her… in the garden,” Boyd told him.

Patrick was confused.  He’d heard of plantsims before because he’d had a lesson in scouts about rare and mystical things in the plant world.  He’d been told that plantsims grew from rare seeds that only plantsims produced, planted, and harvested, though.  “You can grow plantsims in the garden without a plantsim doing it?”

“Not usually,” Susan explained, while Patrick took a closer look at Iris.  “See, we ran an experiment on a forbidden fruit seed, where we had to put some sim DNA in it, and we used mine.  We planted it.  We thought it was going to make the fruit that if you eat it, turns you into a plantsim.  We wanted to study it for work.  But it seems that how we did it, it made a whole plantsim instead.  So, since we grew her, and she has some of my genes—”

“You decided to keep her?”  Patrick was amazed by his baby plantsim sister.  She cooed and watched him until Susan placed her back on her baby mat.  Patrick noticed Buddy watching in the doorway, listening, but he did not say anything.

“She’s family, so, yes.”

“Ready to be a big brother again?  Show Orion how it’s done?”  Boyd asked with a smile.

“Sure.  It’s not that hard.”  Patrick gave his parents a curious look.  “Hey, where’s she going to sleep?  I already share my room with Orion.”

“And me,” Buddy piped up.

Boyd and Susan exchanged a look.  “Your mom and I talked about that.  We decided you should have your own room, so we’re going to fix up the guest room to be yours by your birthday.”

“You’ll have your own bathroom across the hall from it, too.  Your own space and privacy.”

Patrick was thrilled.  “Awesome!  I can’t wait!”

Buddy came up behind him.  “Yeah!  Who wants to share a room with a bunch of babies anyway?” 

Over in the playpen, Orion stopped playing with the abacus and stared in the direction of him and Buddy.  Although he resumed playing a moment later, it made Patrick feel guilty, despite knowing that Orion couldn’t see Buddy.  He had nothing against Orion, of course, but he kind of agreed with his invisible friend.  Patrick did want his own room without sharing, even if it was rude how Buddy had said it.

Susan told Patrick to finish his homework before the scouting ceremony, since they would be going to Blair’s afterward.  He took his notebook out on the back patio.

“Your baby sister looks like a green bean.”

“Don’t be mean.  She’s just a baby.  She’s kind of cool.  I’m going to ask my scout leader if I can get the ‘creatures of legend’ badge since I met and talked to a plantsim.  Mom and Dad are bringing her to the ceremony, so I can prove it.  I mean, just because she’s a baby shouldn’t mean she doesn’t count!”

“You should get one.  Probably for Orion, too.”

“I don’t think they even have an alien badge.  Besides, I can’t tell anyone outside of the family about Orion.  You know that.”

“An alien and a plant.  You’re the only normal one.”  Buddy flopped into the chair beside Patrick.  “Hey, doesn’t that make you the weirdo, then?”

Patrick frowned.  “Blair’s normal.  So is Chris.”

“She doesn’t count.  She’s old and doesn’t live here.  And he’s not your brother, he’s your nephew.  Here, you’re the only normal kid.  So that makes you weird.”

“Well, you’re talking to me, so I guess you like weirdos, then,” Patrick retorted.  “Anyway, you’re invisible.  You can’t talk about being normal.”

The Wainwright family piled into Susan’s Margaret Vaguester and headed to the school.  Before the ceremony started, Patrick excitedly introduced his parents to his troop leader and showed him baby Iris.  He was amazed to see a real plantsim.  He told Patrick he’d have the creatures of legend badge sent to him as soon as possible, then congratulated him and the rest of the family.  He was curious about Orion as well, but Boyd and Susan told their usual story that Orion suffered from a rare genetic condition.

Boyd and Susan were proud to see Patrick on stage with the other kids, being honored for their achievements.  They remembered Blair’s childhood scouting all those years ago, and mused about how time flew.  Now Blair had a son close to Patrick’s age, even though their newest kids were younger than him.  They never planned on such a large and late family, but they loved and were proud of them all.

After the ceremony was over, Patrick changed back into his regular clothes, and they grabbed a bite to eat at the diner before heading over to Blair and Cycl0n3’s.

When they got there, Blair had just gotten home from a late shift, and Chris was doing his homework.  Although he and Patrick were both in scouting, because he was younger, Chris was not part of the graduating troop.

The Wainwrights’ daughter was amazed when she saw not only her two younger brothers with her parents, but a little green baby, too.  “And who is this?”

“This is Iris.  She’s your new little sister.”  Susan held Iris out for them to see.

“She’s a plantsim.”  Boyd started explaining before anyone could ask.  He told them about the experiment, and how he and Susan expected to grow a forbidden fruit, but wound up with a plantsim infant bearing Susan’s DNA instead.

Blair was shocked and surprised, Chris was fascinated, and Cycl0n3 was stunned and amused.  “So that’s, what,” he counted on his fingers, “four unplanned kids you guys have now?  You trying to set a record?”  He laughed, while Boyd rolled his eyes.  Blair tried to keep a straight face despite her husband’s inappropriate remark, but on a childish level she agreed he had a point, and it was funny.

Susan chose not to dignify it with a response.  “We wanted you to meet her as soon as you could, so we brought her over.”

Chris touched baby Iris’ cheek.  “She’s neat, and she’s got pretty yellow eyes.”  He looked up at his grandmother.  “Hey, does she poop dirt?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think about that,” said Patrick.  “Do plantsims eat, or do they just suck in sunlight like regular plants?”

Boyd nodded.  “Plantsims photosynthesize for food.  They don’t need to eat.  Just plenty of water and sunlight.  So, to answer your question, Chris, not a whole lot comes back out, and what does, isn’t dirt.”

Blair held Iris and snuggled her.  “She’s adorable.  I’ve never seen a plantsim before, and definitely never thought I’d have one for a baby sister, but I love her!”  She played with her, and Iris made little happy noises.  “Welcome to the family, Iris!  I always wanted a little sister.  It’s too bad you came so late, even after your nephew,” she teased.  “Oh!  You need a rank to go with the Captain, Number One, and the Chief Engineer.  Science Officer, maybe?  Since you came from an experiment?” 

Susan raised an eyebrow, amused.  “If you must, I’d say Chief Medical Officer instead.”  Boyd and Cycl0n3 agreed, and Blair giggled.

“All right then.  Chief Medical Officer it is!  But don’t worry, mostly I’ll stick with Iris, since you’re such a pretty little flower.  Yes you are.”  She made playful faces at her as she baby-talked.
Blair and her mother sat down at the table to talk while she held Iris.  “You’ve sure got your hands full now, huh?  Managing the lab and two small kids, plus one almost a teenager?”
“Don’t remind me.  I already went through your teenage years once.”

“Come on, Mom.  I wasn’t that bad.  I never snuck out or TP’d the neighborhood or any of the other things I’ve hauled kids in for while patrolling.”  She looked at Iris.  “I kind of hoped I’d be having a playmate around her age before long, but we don’t want another baby until we can move.”

“How’s that going?” Boyd asked as he joined them.  “Find anywhere you like yet?”

“A few nice places, and one that’s amazing we’d love to have.  It’s up on the cliffs, with a great view of the ocean.  Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, really spacious and open.”  She sighed.  “But out of our price range by a good bit.”

Susan exchanged a look with Boyd.  “How much?”

“A lot.  It’s not mansion priced, like your place, but still more than we can afford.”

“You have a birthday coming up,” hinted Boyd.  “Maybe we can help you out.”

“Oh, Dad, that’s nice of you to offer, but—”

“But what?”  Susan cut her off.  “I know you said you wanted to earn your own way in life, and we respect that.  We’re proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished.  But we also know how hard it can be.  The real estate market is very competitive in this town.  We know how hard you and Cycl0n3 work, and how much you want a new house so you can have another baby.”

Boyd gave Blair a sympathetic look.  “Let us help you get a place.  If you don’t want us buying the whole thing for you, use the money you’ve got, and we’ll just make up the difference.  But we want you and our grandkids to live where you want and where you’ll be happy.  We hate to see you struggle and put your life on hold if you don’t have to.”

“It’ll be our birthday present to you.”

“In addition to that party you’re throwing for me?”  Blair smiled at her parents.  “All right.  If you’re sure.  Thank you.  I’ll talk to Cycl0n3 and we’ll let you know.”

Blair and Cycl0n3 discussed Boyd and Susan’s offer that night after they left, and they decided to take them up on it.  The home on Redwood Parkway that they’d liked so much, called “Unfurled” in its listing, was a spacious upgrade without being ostentatious.  Blair still did not want to feel like she was leeching off of her parents’ recent wealth, or for others to think she was some spoiled heiress whose parents paid her way through life.  Boyd and Susan gifted her the down payment for her birthday, and with what they’d saved and the sale of their old house on Maywood Lane, Blair and Cycl0n3 were able to claim their new home.

They had no regrets.  The new house had so much more space that they realized how cramped their old one was.  Blair and Cycl0n3 bought a chess table for the back patio, which overlooked the ocean.  Blair noticed they could see her parents’ house up on Summer Hill Court from their view, and that they would be able to see her home from theirs as well.  When they moved, they brought along the stereo, TV, and computer that had caused a fight between her and Cycl0n3 not long ago.  Blair was glad that having to watch every simoleon would be a thing of the past.  Their income easily covered the expenses of the new house now that it was paid for.

On Blair’s birthday, her parents threw her a party at the same rustic bistro where she’d had her wedding rehearsal dinner.  Although she had the typical mid-life birthday musings where she reflected on her life and where it was headed, she was happy and did not experience any sort of crisis about it.  She was surrounded by family and friends, and felt loved and special.  What more could she ask for?

Susan sat with Blair while they had cake.  “So, how are things going in the new house?  Will one of those bedrooms be turning into a nursery?  I saw you’ve got a crib set up.  Anything you want to share?”

“No, Mom.  There’s no baby yet.  I figured we’d keep it up for when Orion and Iris visit, and hopefully soon, it’ll have a more permanent occupant.”  Blair took a bite of birthday cake.  “We’ve started trying, but no luck yet.  I’m kind of surprised.  I guess I didn’t get whatever gene you or Dad has that makes getting new babies so easy.”

Susan laughed.  “Iris and Orion didn’t come from your typical baby-making situation, and unless you want to hear an angry monologue about the aliens, I’d suggest not repeating that to your father.  As for Patrick, well, you’re still younger than we were when he had him, and he happened despite prevention.  So I wouldn’t worry too much.  It’ll happen in time.”

Blair spotted Patrick taking a break by himself after playing tag with Chris.  “Hey, Captain!”

“Hey, Blair.  Happy birthday!”

“Thanks.  Are you having fun?  I know restaurants can be kind of boring for kids after the food and cake are gone.”

Patrick shrugged.  “It’s okay.  Chris and I were playing for a while.  He went to see if we could get some play mats to draw on.”

“That sounds fun.  So, you’ve got a birthday coming up, too.  You’re going to be a teenager.  I can hardly believe it.”

“Yeah.  It’s cool!” 

“It is.  Before you know it, you’ll be driving.”  She gave him a playful look.  “Though you better not get any speeding tickets when you do.  Just because I’m a cop doesn’t mean you’ll get out of them.  You’re going to stay out of trouble, right?”

“Like you, you mean?  Mom and Dad always say how good you were growing up.”

“Do they?  Well, it’s true I didn’t get into trouble much.  I was probably one of the only kids who made it through all of school never cutting class even once.”

Patrick was dubious.  “Never?”

“Nope.”  She raised an eyebrow.  “Am I to take it you can’t make that claim, Captain?”

He smirked.  “Well, I’ve never got in trouble for skipping class, either.”

After she finished talking to Patrick, Blair picked up Iris from her play mat.  She was still enamored with her new baby sister.  “You’re just like an adorable little green doll.”  Boyd came over to chat while she snuggled her.  “I was just thinking about how you said plantsims don’t eat.  I guess that means she won’t get to enjoy her birthday cakes when the time comes.”

“Not necessarily.  We’ll figure out something.  Maybe she’d like a fertilizer cake.”

Blair made a face.  “That sounds pretty gross, but I’m glad for her.  A birthday with no cake would be sad!”

While Blair chatted with her father, Cycl0n3 saw Parker and decided to do some off-duty questioning.  He still had not said anything to Blair about what he saw outside the bookstore, because he wanted more proof.  “Hey, Parker.  How’s it going?”

“Not bad.  This is a nice party you guys threw for Blair.  Thanks for the invite.  I’m glad she’s having a good time.”

“Yeah.  You know her.  Happiest around friends and family she can trust.”  Cycl0n3 gave him a pointed look.  “Speaking of which, I hear you and Tam have gotten more serious.  Kind of surprised me, considering.”

Parker gave him an odd look.  “Considering what?”

“Considering you’re getting it on with Nancy Landgraab.”  Although that was not what Cycl0n3 actually believed, he figured it would get a reaction.

He was right.  Parker went from calm to irate in a flash.  “Nancy Landgraab?  What the plum are you talking about?”

“Well, a little birdie told me they saw you and her talking all close and, you know, intimate, outside of the bookstore not long ago.  She even gave you a gift or something.”  Cycl0n3 was proud of his cover story.  “I mean, she’s a little old for my taste, and married, but hey, whatever floats your boat.”

Parker was not amused.  “That’s ridiculous!  I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but that’s a load of crap.  I’ve never slept with Nancy Landgraab!”

“So you weren’t out with her by the bookstore, then?”

Parker’s raised voice caught the attention of those around them.  Blair and Boyd both looked over, and Blair set Iris down.  “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.  Cycl0n3 heard some stupid rumor and thought it was true.”

“Oh, just a rumor, then?  That’s good to know.”  He only partly hid the sarcasm in his feigned nonchalance. 

“Yeah.  She donated some money to the policeman’s benevolent fund, and passed me the check when we ran into each other.  My mom used to work for her, you know.  That’s probably what whoever saw.  I guess that constitutes having an affair now.”  He rolled his eyes.  “So, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t go around repeating that BS, since it’s not true, she’s married, and Tam really doesn’t need to hear lies about me, okay?”  Parker gave Blair an apologetic look.  “Sorry about the drama at your party, Blair.  We’re cool now, though.  Right?”  He looked at Cycl0n3.

Cycl0n3 was more certain than ever that something was going on, but he played along.  Pushing it farther wouldn’t get him anywhere, and would just upset Blair on her birthday.  “Sure.”

Tamara came by just as the situation wound down.  “Let me guess.  Cycl0n3’s being himself, as usual?”

“He heard some rumor about Parker and Nancy Landgraab, but Parker told him it wasn’t true.”

“Huh.  It better not be.  Not now that we’re serious.  I’ll have to kick his butt if he is.  Also, happy birthday!”  She hugged her.

“Thanks.  It’s been great.  I’m glad you were able to come.”

“Wouldn’t miss it.  So, how are you doing?  Enjoying the new house?”

“Oh, it’s great!  I’m so glad we moved.  It’s got so much space, and the view is amazing.”

Tamara gave her a knowing look.  “What about new additions?  Any on the way yet?”  Blair had told her about wanting another baby the last time they’d had lunch. 

“Not yet.”

“Aw.  Well, hopefully soon.”  Tamara’s smile widened.  “Especially because maybe that one could play with mine.”

Blair realized what Tamara was saying.  “Tam!  You’re having a baby?”

“Told you Parker and I were serious.  I think he’s the one for me, Blair.  We really love and get each other.  He’s not into marriage, but he does want to be a dad, and I want kids before it’s too late, so… I can live with that.”

“That’s great!”  Blair gave her a big hug.  “I’m so happy for you.  Wow!  Now you and Emma are both having kids.  I know I have Chris already, but it’d be so cool if all three of us had babies the same age.”

“Well, I’m sure it won’t be hard to talk Cycl0n3 into getting right on that with you,” Tamara teased, and Blair giggled.

“No.  No it won’t.”

After the party was over, they went home.  Chris gave his mother a birthday hug and went to bed, and Cycl0n3 broke out the bottle of fancy French nectar that Susan had given him.  “Your mom said to save this for a special occasion.  I’d say this counts.  A birthday toast.  To the sweetest woman I’ve ever known, who’s still putting up with me on her mid-life birthday, despite knowing me since high school.” 

“Oh, you’re not so bad.  I think you’re pretty sweet yourself.”  She kissed him on the cheek, and he laughed.

“Hey now!  Watch it.  That kind of talk will completely ruin my reputation as a rude llama.”

They enjoyed the nectar together.  Afterward, Blair drew Cycl0n3 into an embrace.  “I had a really nice birthday.  Thank you.”

“Well, your parents threw the party, but I did do my best not to ruin it for you, so, you’re welcome,” Cycl0n3 teased.

“I meant what I said.  You really are sweet when you want to be.”

“Boy, do I have you fooled.  Lucky me.  Because that means I’ve still got you.”

“Silly.”  She kissed him.

“Speaking of lucky… want to get it on your birthday?”  He waggled his eyebrows.

“Oh, you!”  She gave him a playful swat.  “Don’t mess up the end of my birthday ruining the romantic moment.”

“Right.  Shutting up.”  He leaned in for a kiss.

Blair had reached the midpoint of her life, but she was happier than she’d ever been, and didn’t regret a moment of it.

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Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #197 on: December 10, 2017, 07:18:36 AM »
Wow there's a lot going on in this chapter, Cheezey!  I really like the idea of Iris.  I've only ever made a plant Sim once (for one of my stories).  You inspire me to go back to that save and give it another go.
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 44
« Reply #198 on: December 14, 2017, 01:42:37 AM »
Wow there's a lot going on in this chapter, Cheezey!  I really like the idea of Iris.  I've only ever made a plant Sim once (for one of my stories).  You inspire me to go back to that save and give it another go.

This is a first for me, too! I haven't played a plantsim for any significant amount of time yet and never raised one in a game before.  So I guess I will be learning as much about them as Boyd and Susan.  Her baby traits are a bit generic (loves the outdoors and green thumb) but from what I read, plantsim babies only get a limited choice of traits.  Good thing Boyd and Susan at least kept her plant happy while she was growing so she got two good ones instead of two bad ones, though!

Chapter 44

Between the new home, trying for another baby, and her recent birthday, Blair was more motivated than ever to achieve her goals and succeed.  She spruced up her wardrobe and tried out a new hairstyle.  A few gray hairs had appeared among her long blonde locks, and the updo not only downplayed them, but was also comfortable for the warm weather of spring and the upcoming hot summer.

She’d done well at her job at the SVPD over the years, and Justine recently promoted her to Lieutenant.  Hank put in a good word for Blair with the Vice Squad, the entry level to the agent branch she dreamed of working in one day, but there were no openings at the moment.  She tackled her case load with enthusiasm, and did her best to bring Sunset Valley’s criminals to justice.  Outstanding Citizens was still a suspected hotbed of illicit activity, but nobody had been able to prove to a court’s satisfaction that their management had any culpability.  Any time an Outstanding employee was charged, they disavowed all knowledge.  The criminals themselves didn’t implicate anyone, even for lighter sentences.  Blair suspected they were more afraid of whoever was in charge of the operation than they were of jail time.  It made her even more determined to bring them to justice one day.

When Blair sent her resume to Vice Squad, she still had no university degree to put on it.  Although her work experience made her qualified without it, she couldn’t help but remember her parents telling her years ago that she shouldn’t wait, because once life got in the way, it would be a challenge to finish.  It turned out they were right.  She’d had every intention of finishing a technology degree, but never got around to it.  She and Cycl0n3 fell back in love, and after he decided not to go back to Sims University, she wanted to stay with him.  She took classes online, but the force kept her busy, and later, marriage and family did as well.

Blair supposed she would end up giving Chris the same speech her own parents gave her when the time came, and she’d have to hope he took it to heart better than she did.  It wasn’t impossible to make one’s way in the world without a degree—she and Cycl0n3 both had, after all—but it did make it easier.

Despite that, Blair made keeping her skills sharp a priority.  She continued taking online classes, studied hard, and hit the gym several times a week.

Blair was doing an intense strength training workout on her day off, but it took more out of her than usual.  She’d been doing all the right things—getting plenty of rest, hydration, and protein—but she felt like something had zapped her energy.  After she finished her pull up routine, she debated calling it a day.  Then her stomach lurched.

She ran to the bathroom, bemoaning the bad luck of getting sick, when it occurred to her.  What if she wasn’t sick, but morning sick?  Even if it was during the afternoon?

Despite having to kneel on the gym bathroom’s hard tile floor to puke into the toilet, Blair went home feeling hopeful.  She and Cycl0n3 had been trying.  Did Chris have a little brother or sister on the way?

She decided to get a test soon and find out for sure, but in the meantime, she would head home.  Cycl0n3 came home shortly after Blair did, and she told him what she suspected.

“Really?  That’s awesome!”  He gave her a sly look.  “Though until we get the positive test, there’s no need to, you know, stop trying.”

“Oh, Cycl0n3.”  Blair giggled while Cycl0n3 pulled her in for a kiss.  “You know Chris will be home from scouts anytime now.”

Chris did indeed come in a few minutes later.  “Mom!  Dad!  I got a new badge today!  Knot tying.”

“Nice.  Who’d you tie up?” asked Cycl0n3.  “Hopefully one of the annoying kids.”

“No,” Chris laughed.  “They taught us how to make sturdy knots.  Like for sailing, climbing, and survival stuff.”

All of those things sounded way too active for Cycl0n3’s taste, but he was glad to see Chris so enthused.  So was Blair.  “Can you show us?”

“Sure!”  Chris pulled out a string and demonstrated.  “See?”

Blair gave it a tug.  “Pretty sturdy.  Nice job.”

“Yeah.  With all these survival skills, you’re going to be set for the zombie apocalypse.”  Cycl0n3 gave him a thumbs up.

“I can’t wait to show Patrick.  I think my knots are better than his.”

“Hey, maybe when we go to his birthday party, you could show him by tying him up.”

Chris seemed to like his father’s suggestion, but Blair tsk-ed it.  “Hey, you two.  Let’s not pick on the Captain on his birthday, okay?”

“Yes, Mom,” both Chris and Cycl0n3 said in unison.

When the day of Patrick’s birthday arrived, it poured rain that morning.  Susan heard Iris on the baby monitor, and went in to the kids’ room to tend to her.  She had not woken Orion or Patrick yet, but the latter needed to get up for school anyway.  Susan cuddled Iris and turned on the special UV light they set up for her, then put her on her baby mat.  She then gave Patrick a gentle shake.  “Time to get up, birthday boy.  You’ve got to go to school if you want to go to your class’s egg hunt at the spring festival after, before your party tonight.”

“Okay.”  Patrick grumbled and yawned, while Susan checked on Orion.

Buddy sprang to life as Patrick got out of bed, but he was not in nearly as pleasant a mood as Patrick or his mother.  “I can’t believe you!”

“What’s the matter?”

“You’re going to a festival after school instead of playing with me?  Some best friend you are!  It’s my birthday, too!  We’re supposed to hang out together!”

“I’m sorry,” Patrick said sheepishly.  “It’s just for a little while, and you can only appear here at home.  We’re having our party tonight, though.”

“It’s not the same.”  Buddy pouted.

“Come on, Buddy.  Don’t be like that.”  Patrick sighed.  “We’ll have fun when I get back, and at the party.  I promise.”  He thought for a moment.  “Hey, I’ll find enough festival eggs for both of us.  I’m good at finding stuff.  I was the best in my troop at it in scouts.”

“Okay.  But I want to play games later.  It’s boring here all day with just the dumb babies and the babysitter around.”

Susan overheard Patrick while changing Orion.  The fact that he was still so invested in his imaginary friend on the cusp of his teen years bothered her.  Most kids outgrew that phase by then, didn’t they?  The tone of the conversation troubled her, too.  She would have imagined that made up friends would be fun, not argumentative.  Was the drama just a manifestation of Patrick’s creative mind, or was he troubled, and his invisible frenemy some form of psychological acting out?  Susan hoped not, and hoped even harder that it was not something worse, like the bouts of delusion that plagued her departed brother.

After Patrick left for school, Susan took a moment to relax on the couch while Boyd fed their fish.  It wasn’t relaxing, though.  A loud farting noise blasted from the seat cushion just as she sat down.  Boyd looked over, surprised, while Orion stared from the baby swing.  Susan leapt to her feet, and pulled out a whoopee cushion.  She held it up, annoyed.

Boyd chuckled.  “Ah, I see Patrick laid a trap.”

“Apparently,” she groused, still embarrassed.

“Look at it this way, honey.  You can take comfort in denying him the satisfaction of seeing it sprung.”

“Hopefully now that he’ll be a teenager, he’ll outgrow this sort of thing sooner rather than later.”

Boyd peered over his glasses at her.  “Like Blair and her Dr. Fart keychain?”  Said keychain had been a novelty with six buttons that each made a different flatulent noise.  Blair acquired it at twelve years old, and found it the height of hilarity when she got in the mood to play with it.  She kept it well into her teen years, and although she did not break it out quite as often, sometimes she’d still pick it up and play a round with it.  As far as they knew, she still had it somewhere, unless she’d given it to Chris.

“Oh, that thing.  I still say we should’ve ‘accidentally’ dropped it on the driveway and backed over it once and for all.”  Susan remembered a drive they took as a family back in the day, when Blair had it in the car and played with it the entire time.  Although Susan wouldn’t have been mean enough to actually break her child’s toy, the fantasy had still been tempting after listening to hours of crude bodily function noises.

Susan wadded up the deflated whoopee cushion and put it in a drawer.  “It’s time to get ready for work.  You coming?”

“Right behind you.”

As they walked past it on the floor, had they looked, they might have noticed that the Buddy doll’s smile was a little bigger.  Poor Susan would never know that the real perpetrator of the prank got full satisfaction from it.

The minor morning drama was forgotten after an amazing day at work.  The Wainwrights didn’t make any scientific breakthroughs, but when they got there, the board called a special meeting to honor them in a company-wide ceremony with the level 9 title.  Susan already had the title conferred on her, but this made it official, and granted it to Boyd as well.

“Creature-Robot Cross-Breeder,” Boyd enthused when they returned to the lab.  “Level 9.  Nobody’s even achieved that ranking except us.  It’s all been theoretical in case someone met the criteria someday.  We did it, Susan!  We really did it!”  He beamed with pride.  “I’ve always wanted to be a world-renowned scientist, and now I am.  My lifetime wish.”

“And they even made a new title above us that we could theoretically aspire to.  Mad scientist.”  Susan grinned.  “I think we may just get it, when our research is done.”  She straightened Boyd’s lab coat and gave him a flirtatious look.  “I’m not sure how it’d feel for me, but it definitely suits you.”

“There’s a bit of mad scientist in you, no matter how much you deny it,” Boyd teased back.  “One of the many things I love about you.”

He embraced her.  “I’m so glad we achieved all of this together, honey.  Happy as I am, having you with me makes it all the better.  Thanks for sticking with me through it all.  Especially the weirdness.”

“I knew what I was getting into back when I said ‘I do.’  I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

After school, Patrick had fun hunting for eggs with his classmates.  He searched all over the park, and had a full basket by the time he was done.  I told Buddy I’d find enough for both of us, he thought with a note of pride.

All of the kids who participated received festival tickets for their efforts.  Patrick decided to save his for bigger and better prizes later.  His family was going to come back to the festival before it was over, and he wanted to get the best loot possible.  Besides, it was his birthday, so he was going to get cake and presents at his party later, anyway.

Boyd and Susan invited Patrick’s friends and schoolmates to his party, as well as Blair, Cycl0n3, and Chris, and some family friends.  When the time came to blow out the candles, Patrick thought carefully before making his birthday wish.  One only got so many birthdays, after all, so it was important to make each one count.

“What’d you wish for?” Buddy asked after he blew out the candles.

“You know I can’t tell you, or it won’t come true.”  It seemed like a random declaration to everyone else, but they just assumed he was stating for the record that he wasn’t going to share his wish, so not to ask.

As was tradition, Patrick got the first slice of birthday cake.  Buddy sat beside him while he ate.  “You know, I’m having fun at this party.  Even though I don’t talk to anyone but you, and don’t eat cake.”

“You don’t eat at all,” Patrick quipped.  “Too bad.  It’s pretty good.  I love the chocolate frosting.”

Mortimer Goth sat down next to Patrick.  Although Mortimer was a young man now, and much older than him, Patrick still enjoyed when he visited because they were both into art and could discuss it for hours.  Mortimer had overheard the last bit of what Patrick said to Buddy, but mistook it for him commenting on the cake.  “This looks like it came from the diner.  They make great cakes there.”

“Blair’s friend Emma made it.  She works there and makes the best pastries in town.  We cater all our cakes for parties and stuff from her.”

“Their cakes are a local work of art.  Speaking of which, how’s your painting been going?”

“Pretty well.  I took a class in France when we went.  I might join the art and music clubs now that I’m done with scouts.”  He finished the last of his cake.  “My old troop leader said he’d miss me and the stuff I’d find on trips.  He said I’d become a real gatherer in my time there.”

Mortimer chortled.  “Growing up with your parents?  I can’t say I’m surprised.  When I was a kid and your dad would visit mine, sometimes he’d tell me stuff like what fish were in that creek in our yard, or what kind of weed or flower this or that was.  My mom calls him and your mom for gardening advice sometimes.  She got things like cuttings of flame fruit and spores for glow orbs from them.”

“That stuff can be interesting, I guess.  But aside from finding cool things when I’m outside, I’m not into all the hiking around much.  Now that I’m going to high school, I want to try other things.”

“I loved art club.  Painting is a great escape for me.  Helps me deal with stuff that just… you know.  Gets to you.”

After cake, Patrick danced with Penny Bunch.  He noticed Buddy cheering and whooping as well.  He was surprised his invisible friend enjoyed the party so much, but he was glad he was having a good time.

“So, uh, is Jamaal going to be jealous that you’re dancing with me?”  Patrick knew Penny had gone out with Jamaal Hart a few times, and while he got along with him all right, he was one of the more uptight kids in their class.

Buddy laughed.  “Oooh.  Is her boyfriend big?  Is he going to beat you up?”

“No,” Patrick retorted, but Penny thought he was answering his own question after thinking about it.

“No, he won’t,” Penny agreed.  “He knows I’ve known you for forever, since our parents worked together and we used to be neighbors a long time ago.  That’d be like being jealous of Chris.”

“Aw, sorry.  She’s not that into you,” taunted Buddy, who was now dancing like a wild sim beside him.

Patrick made a vague waving motion that told him to shut it, and kept dancing with Penny anyway.

Blair gave her little brother a big hug.  “Happy birthday, Captain!  I can’t believe you’re a teenager already.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago that you were in the baby swing Iris is in over there, watching TV with our parents at the old house on Maywood.”

“I barely remember living there.  I was, what, three when they struck it rich and got this place?”

“Don’t be too hard on them now.  Remember, they’re pretty old,” she teased.  Patrick laughed, but before he could respond, Blair continued with a gleam in her eye.  “But don’t be too easy on them, either.  Rumor has it that I might’ve been.”

“Hah.  No problem.”

After the party was over and their guests went home, Boyd and Susan handed Patrick a gift box.  He had already opened the gifts for his birthday, including a few things from his parents and some art supplies from Orion and Iris that they’d obviously bought to give in their names.  The newly renovated guest room that was now his was ready as well, so Patrick did not expect anything else.

“We hope you had a good birthday, sweetie.”

“We wanted to give you the biggest surprise last.”  Boyd handed Patrick a box, and his eyes went wide when he saw what was inside.  It was a key fob for a car bearing the La Matea logo.

“Is this…?”

Susan nodded.  “Yup.  You’ll be learning to drive soon, so you might as well have your own car for it.”

“Wow!  Really?”  Patrick grinned from ear to ear.

“Now, you’ll have to get a learner’s permit first, and we expect you to drive safely, obey all the traffic laws, and stick to curfew, of course—”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Buddy cut Boyd off.  “Old people, boring rules, we got it.  Point is, new car!”

Patrick identified, but he would never be so rude about it, especially since he did appreciate their generosity.  “Thanks!  This is so cool!  I can’t wait!”

Boyd gave him a pat on the shoulder.  “We’ll start teaching you soon.”

“We’re proud of you,” Susan added.  “You’ve gotten good grades, straight A’s, and did well in scouting and with your painting.  You’ve worked hard and you deserve it.  Keep it up.”

“I will.”

After checking out his new car in the garage, Patrick headed to his new room in a great mood.  It had been repainted in his favorite color, and had a brand new bed and furniture.  His parents had hung some of his art on the wall along with his framed scouting belt, and they’d moved in his personal items so it was ready to go.

“So, you’re not really going to wait until they teach you to drive to try out that car, are you?”

Patrick was surprised by Buddy’s suggestion.  “Yeah, actually, I am.  Much as I’d like to, for one, I don’t know how to drive and don’t want to wreck it the first time I take it out, and two, I don’t want Mom and Dad to kill me.  Just because I’m the only normal kid in this house doesn’t mean I want to become a ghost to fit in.”

“I guess.  Oh, well.  At least we’ve got our own room now.  No more waking up from the babies crying.”

“That’ll be nice.  It’ll impress the girls a lot more not sharing a room with them, either.”

“Considering how hard you struck out with Penny, I don’t think you need to worry about that.”

Patrick frowned.  “For your information, I wasn’t trying to strike anything with Penny, you llama.”

“Sure you weren’t.  But whatever.  Good night, Patrick!  Happy birthday to us!”  Buddy giggled and reverted to doll form while Patrick changed and climbed into bed.

“Good night.”  Patrick pulled the covers around him and drifted off, imagining all the fun things ahead of him.

Boyd and Susan put Orion and Iris to bed for the night, and finished cleaning up after the party.  After that, they were ready to turn in.  “We’ve got another teenager now, and we just gave him a brand new car.  I hope my nerves last through this.”

“We made it through Blair,” Susan said.  “She never even got as much as a parking ticket.”

“No.  She grew up into someone who issues parking tickets.”  They shared a smile.  “We were exceptionally lucky with her, but Patrick should be fine.  He’s always been a good kid, too.”

“He has.  I’m so proud of him.”

“Me too.”

Their conversation was interrupted when they each got a text from Blair.

I know it’s late, but I wanted to tell you two first.  I just confirmed.  You’re going to be grandparents again! 😀

“Oh, how wonderful!”  Susan typed an enthusiastic response while Boyd sent a thumbs up along with his own congratulations.

“Another grandchild!  Looks like Iris will have a niece or nephew close in age, just like Patrick did with Chris.  That’s great.”

“The age differences in our family tree are comical, but I’m glad it works out.  I’m happy for her.”

“Me too.  She really wanted this.”

Susan drew Boyd close.  “You know, we’ve got a pretty incredible family.  Weird, unusual, and nothing like I ever imagined, mind you, but incredible and wonderful nonetheless.”

Boyd smirked.  “And think, you’re married to one of the more normal members of it.”

“Only genetically speaking, dear.  But I love you anyway.”  She kissed him.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #199 on: December 18, 2017, 10:44:49 PM »
You have two such great couples in this story!
Susan and Boyd, thanks to their life plant potion, remain ever youthful. In fact, in some shots, Susan looks younger than her daughter!

I was hoping that Patrick (with his father's nose and mother's hair color?) would outgrow that trouble-making Buddy.

Blair and Cycl0n3 make such an unlikely couple. It's heartwarming to see them still so much in love.
Looking forward to watching all the children grow up!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 45
« Reply #200 on: December 21, 2017, 10:48:09 PM »
You have two such great couples in this story!
Susan and Boyd, thanks to their life plant potion, remain ever youthful. In fact, in some shots, Susan looks younger than her daughter!

I was hoping that Patrick (with his father's nose and mother's hair color?) would outgrow that trouble-making Buddy.

Blair and Cycl0n3 make such an unlikely couple. It's heartwarming to see them still so much in love.
Looking forward to watching all the children grow up!

Thank you! Susan seems to age very gracefully, even with the aging mod on. She's well ahead of Blair in the adult stage, but something about her features and coloring makes the wrinkles/age lines the mod adds not as obvious.  Either that, or Blair is just unlucky in that it shows on her more dramatically than her mother.  Boyd's hair is odd that it gets darker as it grays, but because it was whitish to begin with, it's fairly subtle.

Patrick ended up a good mix of his parents. His coloring (hair, eyes, skin tone) are all Susan, but as far as facial shape/features go he is very much Boyd.  As for Buddy, he's still around, but I was so glad he didn't get another offensive trait on age-up.  Party animal is at least a fun one, as opposed to that irksome mean-spirited trait.

Chapter 45

Blair was thrilled to be having another child.  As soon as her pregnancy was confirmed, she and Cycl0n3 finished setting up the spare bedroom as the new baby’s room.

“You’ve got some pretty swanky digs here,” Cycl0n3 told her tummy.  “Your mom’s gone bananas buying every baby toy she sees.  But don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll share them with you when you get here.”

“Oh, very funny.”  Blair stuck her tongue out at her husband.

“What?  I’m just preparing mini-me two there for the eventuality that you’re going to play with his toys as much as he is.”

“What makes you so sure it’ll be a boy?  Maybe this time, we’ll have a mini-me.”

“Eh, a girl could look like me, or a boy could look like you, too.  It was just a figure of speech.”

“If you ask me, sometimes Chris is a bit too much like you already, with that smart mouth of his,” teased Blair.

“Hah!  That means I’ve taught him well.  Remind me to raise his allowance.”

Blair’s response was to toss a pillow in Cycl0n3’s direction.

“Oh?  Is that how it is, huh?”  He picked one up himself.  “It is so on.”

“Hey!  No beating on the pregnant lady, you bad boy.”  Blair wagged her finger at him and held up her pillow in mock self-defense.

“Oooh.  Pulling that card are we?  Well, I’m pretty sure the baby’s not up here.”  He bopped her on the head.

She swatted him back, and the two playfully went back and forth hitting each other with pillows before they were laughing too hard to continue.

“Ah, so you yield to my supreme pillow fighting technique, do you, my dear?”  Cycl0n3 fluffed his “weapon” and put it back on the bad.

“Sure I do,” Blair said sweetly.  Then, once his back was turned, she pillowed him squarely in the butt.  “Never!  Hah!”  She dropped the pillow and ran out of the room, still giggling.

When Chris heard about the new baby, he thought it was cool that he would be a big brother, but also wondered how it would change things.  He was used to being the only child.

“I’m not going to be able to play with him or her much.  By the time the baby can talk, I’ll be old enough to babysit.”

Blair smiled at him.  “That’s not such a bad thing.  I know it’s probably a little weird.  I was an only child for a long time, too.  But you’ll still be a lot closer in age than me and Patrick, and there’s a lot you’ll be able to do with him or her.  You’ll be surprised.”

“I guess.”  He shuffled where he stood.

“Hey,” Blair leaned closer to him.  “I hope you’re not worried that you won’t be as important to us anymore.  Because that’s not true.  Not at all!  We love you and nothing could ever change that, even if we had a hundred babies.”

Chris laughed at the absurdity of such a thing.  “A hundred babies?  You’d pop if you had that many!  Especially at once.”

“I don’t think that’s even possible, thank the Watcher,” Blair laughed with him.

Shortly after she found out she was pregnant, Tamara and Emma came over to Blair’s house when they all had an afternoon free.  Both of her friends were much farther along in their pregnancies than she was, but they still got a kick out of how they were all expecting at the same time.  Emma made a big plate of pasta for lunch.

“Enjoy, my friends.  There’s plenty of creamy delicious cheese sauce and carb indulgence for all of us and the unborn to enjoy.”

“This is so good, Emma,” Tamara declared.  “It definitely beats the cold pizza I ate this morning.  I ate half of a large pie!  What kind of craving even is that?”

“Better than the one I had for pie when I was pregnant with Chris.”  Blair recalled her ill-fated entry into the fall pie-eating contest.  “If you ever get the urge to eat an entire one, trust me on this.  Don’t.”  She set her fork down, finished.  “That said, Tam is right.  That was great!  I inhaled it!”

“It’s not hard to make.  I could give you two the recipe if you’d like.”

“Thanks, but I’m still hopeless in the kitchen,” said Tamara.  “There’s a reason there was a ton of leftover pizza in my fridge this morning.”

After lunch, they went out to the movies together.  They enjoyed Weeping with Irony, and chatted a while afterward.  Blair found out that Emma, while thrilled about her baby, was questioning her engagement with Jared.  She hadn’t called it off yet, but they’d had an argument the night before that Emma was still steamed over.  For Emma’s sake, Blair wished she’d been wrong in her prediction of how a relationship with Jared Frio would go, but it seemed her instincts had been right.  Jared was still the same jerk he was years ago.

Tamara brought Blair up to speed about the rest of their friends as well.  “I feel so bad for Stiles.  Remember how he got after things with Ayesha went south?  Well, it’s been twice as bad after that blowup with Agnes.  He’s really bitter, not that I blame him.  What’s wrong with her that she’d obsess over Xander behind his back?  He’s a ne’er do well loser with a bunch of failed relationships, a crappy job, and a kid he got while cheating on me that he barely sees, from what I’ve heard.  Meanwhile, Stiles is a successful rock musician that’s not hard on the eyes, with the patience of a saint.”  Tamara shook her head.  “I get the appeal of the bad boy type, but come on.  She should know better.”

Blair then realized that Agnes Crumplebottom, who she and Arlo had been sent to investigate the stalking charge on, was Stiles’ ex.  “Oh, no.  I had no idea that was Stiles’ Agnes.  Xander called the SVPD on her for stalking.  Arlo and I questioned her.  I thought it was bull, myself, but I admit I’ve never been Xander’s biggest fan.”

Emma shrugged.  “Agnes is a little odd, but I don’t know her that well, just from a couple of times hanging out with Stiles.  I wouldn’t have pegged her for a stalker, but you never know, I guess.”

“I’m just glad Parker’s worst habit is leaving his dirty laundry everywhere.  Seems pretty minor in comparison.  Yeah, he’s a bit flirty, but I can be that way, too, so whatever.  As long as he’s not cheating or lying to me, it’s no big deal.”

“What, you’re not worried about Nancy Landgraab stealing your man?” teased Blair.

“I still don’t know how Master P.I. Cycl0n3 got that one.  But wow, was Parker mad about it.  He ranted the whole way home.”

While his wife and friends discussed it on their afternoon off, Cycl0n3 worked on the case that led him to make said accusation.  It wasn’t Parker he was investigating that day, although Cycl0n3 still thought something fishy was going on with him.  He was tailing the original target Nancy Landgraab sent him after: Vita Alto.  Nancy wanted him to drop by later that afternoon with an update, and Cycl0n3 wanted to get as much information as possible before then.

He’d exhausted his online research leads, so Cycl0n3 decided to spend some time following Mayor Alto around.  He was curious who she might interact with.  If the Altos were guilty of the kind of things rumors said, they would be smart enough to cover their tracks and make not-so-innocent things look like chance encounters.

Cycl0n3 couldn’t tail Vita in City Hall without being obvious, and of course he couldn’t get behind closed doors.  Still, he knew enough about politicians to know they networked everywhere.  When her lunch hour rolled around, he made a point of being in the park so he could see where she went when she left the building.  As it turned out, she came right to the park.  Cycl0n3 pulled out a book and pretended to read while Vita ordered a plate of garlic fries.

After she ate, Vita took out a parasol and strolled across the park.  The spring festival was going on, so Cycl0n3 picked up the basket he’d brought along with him, and pretended to look for festival eggs.  A few minutes later, Vita struck up a conversation with an older man by the lake.  Cycl0n3 spotted a hidden egg and put it in his basket, glancing subtly in their direction.  Had he met him before?  He looked familiar.

Cycl0n3 wandered toward the pond, where he could search for eggs in the weeds nearby while eavesdropping.

“…thank Victoria for her generous donation.  I appreciate her support, and of course she can count on me supporting freedom of the press wholeheartedly.”

Ah, that was it!  He was his former boss’ husband from the not-so-great old days at Doo Peas.  Apparently Victoria Andrews had gotten political as she’d risen up the corporate news food chain.

Unfortunately, Vita and Beau’s conversation was brief, and after a bit of small talk, she said goodbye and headed across the street to the java hut.  Cycl0n3 waited until she was far enough out of sight to not notice him following, and darted over.  He stashed his basket in the bushes by the sign before going in.

Vita was ordering a latte when Cycl0n3 arrived.  He glanced at the menu to decide what to order so he didn’t look obvious, when recognized someone else there.  Wasn’t that Nancy Landgraab’s husband?  Interesting coincidence, although it wasn’t unusual to run into familiar faces in a town like Sunset Valley.  The java hut was close to the hospital, and although Dr. Landgraab was retired, the Landgraabs still owned a controlling interest in Sacred Spleen.  Geoffrey Landgraab was a board member, which Cycl0n3 knew from the research he’d done on this case of The Ridiculously Rich Rivals, as he’d come to call it.

His dining companion wasn’t, though.  Cycl0n3 recognized her as well.  Pauline Wan, Stiles’ longtime bandmate and Hank’s ex who’d fooled around with her friend’s husband in a hot tub.  Though that had been years ago, Pauline still had a wild reputation.  If the rumor mill was accurate, she’d had as many boyfriends as Cycl0n3 did video games, and that was quite a collection.

He had a rude thought about what Dr. Landgraab was probably giving her medical advice for as he ordered his maui slappucino.

Disappointingly, Vita did not stick around to schmooze with anyone.  She purchased her latte and headed for the door.  The barista was slow with Cycl0n3’s drink, and he hoped he wouldn’t lose Vita waiting on it.  Luckily, she got a text and set her drink down to answer while Cycl0n3 paid for his.

He got out just in time to see Vita heading back to City Hall.  Lunch hour is over, I guess.  Cycl0n3 lamented that he hadn’t learned anything useful, but then he saw something else.  Geoffrey Landgraab and Pauline Wan got into the same car, and drove off in the direction of the beach, not the hospital.

Cycl0n3 was surprised.  Despite what he’d said to Parker about him having an affair with Nancy to rile him up for information, he’d never heard any rumors about either Nancy or her husband being unfaithful.  In fact, Geoffrey Landgraab was known to be a caring family man.  So why was he getting into a car with a known party girl and heading off who knew where?  I hope for my client’s sake, that’s a house call, and not from Dr. Love.

“Ah, Mr. Sw0rd, thank you for coming.”  Nancy Landgraab showed Cycl0n3 to her study when he arrived for his appointment with her.  He handed her a copy of his in-progress file, and she thumbed through it.  “This is very useful.  Even if you didn’t find anything illegal yet, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.”  She smiled smugly.  “And if I can find someone not in the Altos’ pocket, we may get a legal investigation started yet.”

“I’m still hoping to catch a whiff of something with my personal surveillance, but that’ll take more time.  Today all she did outside of City Hall was get lunch and coffee.  But sooner or later, she’ll say something when she thinks no one is listening.”

“And you’ll be there to record that inglorious moment, and that’ll be a fine day indeed.  I appreciate your hard work.”  Nancy handed him a check.  “I trust this will cover some of your initial fees and expenses for ongoing surveillance?”

It wasn’t a fortune, but it was a nice down payment toward the eventual bill he would give her.  “Sure will.  Thanks.”  Cycl0n3 decided now was as good a time as any to test the waters about what he’d seen at the java hut.  “Oh, by the way, I saw your husband at the java hut earlier.  I’d have said hi, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and break cover.”

“You did?  That’s odd.  He told me he was going fishing up at Stoney Falls this afternoon.  He said he planned to be there all day.”

Cycl0n3 raised an eyebrow.  “Ah, a fishing day with a friend?  Maybe they just weren’t biting up there, so they came back into town instead.  They did head off in the direction of the beach.  Better prospects there, probably.”

It was Nancy’s turn to be suspicious.  “They?  Who was he with?  I was under the impression he went by himself.”

“Pauline Wan.”

Nancy frowned.  “Who?”

“Oh.  I had a feeling that might be your answer.  You don’t know her, then?”  Cycl0n3 felt awkward.  Although infidelity was one of those vices that got him a paycheck more often than not, he always felt for the spouse or lover who was the last to know.  Even when it was a ruthless corporate tycoon like Nancy Landgraab.

“No.”  Her expression hardened.  “But it seems like I have a second case for you now, Mr. Sw0rd.  I’d like you to find out exactly what is going on with this Ms. Wan and my husband when he’s supposedly out fishing.”  She wrote him another check.  “Will this cover your retainer and absolute confidentiality on the matter?”

It was a tidy sum.  “I’ll get right on it for you, Mrs. Landgraab.”

Across town at the local library, Boyd and Susan were about to bear witness to romantic drama on a smaller scale.  It was their day off, and they’d brought Orion to story hour in the kids’ section.  He’d behaved well and enjoyed the story the librarian read to the children, so Susan and Boyd decided to stay afterward and show him more kids’ books.  Although she was still too little to read or understand, they had Iris with them, too.  Boyd played with her while Susan read a book about shapes to Orion.

Their friend and employee Christopher Steel had brought his daughter Rachelle to story hour also.  Little Rachelle was just a bit younger than Orion, and the Wainwrights hoped that one day they might be playmates.  Orion’s unusual appearance might make it harder for him to make friends, so socializing him was a priority.  Rachelle was more interested in some other toys that afternoon, though, and Christopher had struck up a conversation with another woman in the library while Rachelle played.

Neither Boyd nor Susan heard what they’d been saying, but Monika Sekemoto did, and when she did, so did everyone else in that part of the library.

“Wow.  Really?”  Monika glared at Christopher.  “I wonder what your wife would think of that.”

“Madison knows we’re friends.”  Zelda seemed unconcerned, while Christopher tried to smooth it over.

“You misunderstood.”

“Oh, I understood perfectly well.  Not cool, Christopher.  Not at all.”  She gave him a disgusted look and stormed out.

“I’ll talk to you later,” he said to Zelda, then picked up Rachelle, and followed after Monika.

“Sounds like someone’s going to be sleeping in the specimen closet once Madison hears about that,” Susan remarked.

“That’s a shame.  I hope he’s not cheating on her.  She’s kind of an airhead, but she’s a nice one.”

“I’m sure we’ll hear more about it at work tomorrow.  Nobody in the break room can keep something that juicy to themselves.”

“Least of all Madison herself.”

“Come on.  Let’s head over to the spring festival and grab a bite to eat.  It’s less than an hour until Patrick will be meeting us after music club anyway.”

Upon starting high school, Patrick had the opportunity to sign up for two clubs.  Although he’d been interested in art club, it conflicted with the other club he really wanted to join, which was music club.  He took that and drama instead.  He could always paint at home anyway, and on nice days, the music club teacher let them take their instruments outside to rock out.

Boyd and Susan were playing horseshoes when Patrick met up with them.  “How was school?”

“It was all right.  I played the guitar in music club today.  I tried a couple of other instruments, but I liked guitar best.  Could we get one?  So I can practice at home?”

“All those Guitar Master sessions on the Maxoid 2 1/2 inspired you, huh?”

“I don’t see why not, as long as you’re serious about it,” Susan told him.

“I’m serious.”

“Pick one out, then, and let us know.”

The Wainwrights abandoned the horseshoe game to take a family photo at the booth.  Afterward, they wandered around the festival.  Boyd noticed the love tester machine and pointed it out to Susan.  “Hey, honey.  Want to go test our love?”

“Sure,” Susan flirted back.

They put in their simoleons and held the handle together, then watched as the lights climbed all the way to the top and flashed a racy message.  Susan leaned close to Boyd as they read it together.  “My.  The love tester thinks we’ve got hot chemistry.”

“It knows I’ve got my ion you,” Boyd said flirtatiously.

Patrick groaned with embarrassment; he hoped none of his schoolmates would see him with his old flirting parents.  He decided it was time to wander off and check out the festival on his own.

He spotted one of his classmates, Maria Wolff, on the dance floor.  “Hey, Patrick.  How’s it going?”

“Not bad.  How are you?”

“Pretty good.  My dad brought me to the festival for my birthday after dinner.  He took me and my little brother to the bistro to celebrate.”

“Aw, no party?”

“I didn’t want a plain old party at home, no offense.”  She had been at his birthday not long ago.  He noticed for the first time how pretty she was.  “But if I can’t have something really spectacular, you know, I feel like why bother?  I’d much prefer a divine meal at the bistro, where they all sing and bring out a flaming angel food cake.”

“Well, as long as you had fun, that’s cool.”

Maria nodded.  “We did.  I don’t see my dad a lot since he moved out.  Anyway, the festival’s a pretty good party with a wicked dance beat, so… want to dance?”


Patrick and Maria danced for a while, chatting about various things.  They had more in common than he realized.  They liked a lot of the same TV shows and movies, and neither could stand their super-sporty gym teacher who insisted everyone in the class “push it to the limit” and “feel the burn” every day.  He also learned that Maria had joined the art club, and like him, had wanted to be in the music club, too.  “I hate that you can’t join both,” she said.  “I love singing and playing music.  But I really like painting and sculpting, too, and the club has stuff I don’t have at home.”

“Maybe I could show you some of the music club stuff sometime,” Patrick suggested.  “And you could do the same with me with the art?”

“That’d be cool.”  She smiled at him.  “You know, you’re a pretty good dancer.”


“Yeah.”  Her tone was flirtatious.  He felt his pulse quicken a little as their eyes met.  She had lovely green eyes…

“If you like dancing, there’s that dance later this week.  We could go.  Together, I mean.”  Patrick kicked himself for sounding so awkward.  He could almost hear Buddy mocking him all the way from home.

“Patrick Wainwright, are you asking me out to the dance?”

“Yes,” he said hopefully.

She gave him a coy look, as if she needed to consider first, but then gave her answer.  “Then yes.”

Patrick was elated.  “All right!  Cool.  We’ll have fun.”

“I’m sure we will.  I look forward to more of your dance moves,” she said with a wink.

Boyd and Susan relaxed in the grass on the warm spring night.  They had Iris and Orion nearby, and watched the stars together.  “Do you see Patrick over there?  I think he’s got a thing for the Wolff girl,” Susan observed.

“He’s not that much younger than we were when we met.”

“Junior year, when I moved here to Sunset Valley.”

“Chemistry class.  You sat next to me.”

“I didn’t know anyone, but I figured someone who doodled Star Trek ships on his book covers was someone who had good taste, and probably wasn’t one of the dumb annoying types who’d try to copy me on tests.”  She met Boyd’s eyes.  “And you were cute, in that nerdy sort of way.”

Boyd laughed.  “Lucky me you had a thing for nerds.”

Susan sat up and stretched, and Boyd got up with her.  Iris had dozed off on her baby mat, and Orion was content playing with his stuffed robot bear.  Susan extended her hand to her husband.  “So, nerd, how about a spring dance before we head home?”

Boyd took her hand and followed her onto the floor.  “Lead the way.”

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #201 on: December 22, 2017, 12:53:34 AM »
So much romantic drama going on around the Wainwrights!
I don't play TS3 so I wouldn't know myself, but are you playing with a mod that autonomously pairs sims together in your game?

I'm so relieved, though, that the Wainwrights' relationships are rock solid.
Also, it's really enjoyable going along with Cycl0n3 as he does his P.I. work.

Again, so fabulous that you and your Wainwrights are back, Cheezey! :D

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Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #202 on: December 27, 2017, 02:56:54 AM »
Great update Cheezey.  I do wonder what Buddy will make of Maria.  ;)  Bring it on!
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 46
« Reply #203 on: December 28, 2017, 01:15:03 AM »
So much romantic drama going on around the Wainwrights!
I don't play TS3 so I wouldn't know myself, but are you playing with a mod that autonomously pairs sims together in your game?

I'm so relieved, though, that the Wainwrights' relationships are rock solid.
Also, it's really enjoyable going along with Cycl0n3 as he does his P.I. work.

Again, so fabulous that you and your Wainwrights are back, Cheezey! :D

Thank you! I'm glad you're still enjoying it so much!  To answer your question, in the game this story was based on, I had NRaas story progression running, which does add a lot of drama, especially with the personality modules installed. I didn't turn the personality add-ons on until the third game week, but it really ramped it up! Sims tend to pair up frequently with the story progression mod, and depending on their traits it can mean some sims have very dramatic romantic lives. Sometimes it's sims you expect (the ones with heartbreaker lifetime wishes or commitment issues, or sims with evil, mean-spirited, or grumpy traits) and other times it's ones that break my heart a bit. The mod leaves the active household alone, but if you have sims dating anyone outside the active household, the mod doesn't care, so that can spice things up.

Great update Cheezey.  I do wonder what Buddy will make of Maria.  ;)  Bring it on!

Thanks! Patrick is going to have his hands full. Both Buddy and Maria have the diva trait, and we all know how divas get when they're not the center of attention. Perhaps it's a good thing Maria can't see or hear what Buddy says!

Chapter 46

Orion and Iris’ birthdays fell on the same day, and Boyd and Susan planned a big party at home for their two youngest children. That morning, they received a package in the mail for Iris.  It had no return address, and was from Moonlight Falls, just like the one containing the Buddy doll that Patrick had received years ago.  Inside was a similar doll, this one called Patches.

“That’s really weird.”  Boyd read the enclosed note again.  It was just like the one he remembered Patrick getting, welcoming Iris to the family and telling her that they hoped she enjoyed her new friend Patches, made especially for her.  “Are you sure we didn’t forget being on some registry somewhere?”

“That somehow knows we grew a plantsim baby?”  Susan was skeptical.  “Pretty sure, yeah.  I thought your cousin in Riverview sent Buddy.”

“That’s what we guessed.  I don’t think I ever got around to asking him, and he never brought it up.”  Boyd frowned.  “But nobody ever sent one to Orion, and we were open about the adoption all over SimBook, just like we were with Iris.  If it was a relative, it’s kind of weird they’d leave him out.”

“Maybe they didn’t, and his just got lost in the mail?”

They looked at Patches in the crib.  “Maybe.  I know it’s just a doll, but it’s strange, Susan.  It makes me wonder who’s watching our family.”

Susan sighed.  “Honestly, I’m less concerned about some toy-giving fairy godmother than I am about Iris getting as attached to Patches as Patrick did to Buddy.  He still talks to him, you know.”

“Yeah.  I know.”  Boyd shared Susan’s concerns.  Just that morning at breakfast, he saw Patrick have an animated conversation with what to him looked like thin air, air that responded in a voice only Patrick could hear and prompted him to give detailed responses.  It was like overhearing someone on a phone call, except there was no phone and no one there.  When Patrick was younger, it had been easier to brush it off as him having a vivid imagination.  At his age now, it crossed the line into worrisome.

Patrick was not unaware of what his parents thought about Buddy.  He’d realized some time ago that they did not believe Buddy was real in the same way he did, just that he was real to him.  Buddy said that it was magic that only allowed him to see and hear him.  Though Patrick was too old to believe in magic in the childish sense, he accepted the unexplained and supernatural.  He found it frustrating that his parents accepted oddities like the ghosts of the Goth mansion, paranormal research at the lab, and the existence of his little alien brother and plantsim sister, but not Buddy.

“He’s right there,” Patrick would insist, only to get that look in response.  The thoughtful, concerned, and sometimes downright condescending look that told him they only believed that he believed it.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t see anything there.  There’s no evidence.”  His mother hadn’t meant to sound cold, only logical, when she responded with that.  Just like his father had meant well when he gave the area a cursory scan with an EMF meter, only to shrug and say there were no unusual readings, even when he crammed it right into Buddy’s midsection.

“For someone who didn’t like getting probed himself, he ought to watch where he sticks that thing.”  Buddy fired off an obscene gesture to Boyd, who, of course, never saw it.

Eventually, Patrick gave up trying to convince them.  He stopped mentioning Buddy, and kept his conversations with him to when they were alone as much as possible.  It didn’t change what he experienced, but it made life simpler.  Perhaps someday he could prove Buddy was as real as Orion or Iris.  Maybe he would even paint a portrait of him.

The first guests to arrive were Blair and her family, and the Goths.  Gunther and Cornelia were getting old, and didn’t leave their manor much these days.  Gunther’s eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, and neither he nor Cornelia liked driving anymore.  Mortimer still lived there, as their only child and heir, and looked out for them.  He had no family of his own yet.

Blair glowed with pregnancy, and her bump was round and prominent.  “Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl yet?” Susan asked as she felt her second grandchild kick.

“No idea!  We want to be surprised.”

“Any woman’s intuition on which you’re having?” asked Cornelia.

“No, although a girl would balance it out.  Plus, I’d have an excuse to buy all the cute baby dresses I couldn’t for Chris.”

“Speaking of dresses… uh, wow.”  Cycl0n3’s remark made them all look over when their next guest came in.

Eni Jish Xip had arrived.  Shortly before Orion’s birthday, she’d sent a secret transmission to the science lab asking if it would be all right to visit on the celebration of his next life cycle.  Although her appearance at his last birthday had caused issues, and she would never be high on the list of individuals Boyd or Susan wanted to deal with, she was Orion’s genetic mother.  Now that Orion was getting old enough to understand more about what he was and ask questions, Boyd and Susan wouldn’t deny him an opportunity to interact with her, no matter how they felt.

Boyd picked up Orion and greeted her, while Susan joined him, carrying Iris.  The rest of the family and guests just stared.  To her credit, Eni Jish Xip had tried to blend in.  Key word: Tried.

“Hah.  Looks like she brought the kids a fruit basket.”

“Cycl0n3!”  Blair elbowed her husband, while Buddy snickered next to Patrick.

“You know, I kind of like him.”

“Hello, Boyd Wainwright.  Thank you for allowing me to attend the celebration of the child Orion’s age advancement.  I see how much he has grown and thrives.  You care well for him.”

Boyd forced a smile that was calmer than anything he felt inside.  Although he trusted those there who did not know the truth, he hoped she learned her lesson last time, and would not say or do anything to make them question her or Orion’s real origins.  “We love the little guy.  He’s our son, after all.”

“Yes.  He is your son, Boyd Wainwright.”  Eni Jish Xip leaned in toward Orion.  “I am pleased to see you again, Orion Wainwright.”

Orion stared back at her.  “Hi.”

The alien woman turned to Susan.  “I see you have a new child as well.  She is a lovely shade of green.”

“Her name is Iris, and she’s a plantsim.”

“We grew her,” added Boyd.  “It’s her birthday, too.”

“Oh!  Another experimental child.  How delightful!”

Boyd and Susan exchanged a brief startled look, and Susan quickly cut her off.  “We’re very happy.  Thank you for coming.  I know it’s a very long trip.  But it means a lot to Orion to have you here, as someone with his condition.”  She gave Eni Jish Xip a pointed look.

She caught on.  “Ah.  Of course.  I am happy to do my part to allow the child Orion Wainwright to grow well-adjusted and informed.  By the way, I heeded your advice, Susan Wainwright.  I hope my attire is more appropriate to your social gathering this time.”

“It’s more… concealing, yes.”

Boyd noticed Gunther, Cornelia, Mortimer, and other guests that had arrived giving them odd looks.  “Eni Jish Xip here has Orion’s condition, as you can see.  We know her from the lab.  She’s been helping us with the research while she’s here.  She’s from out of town.”

Buddy laughed, although only Patrick could hear him.  “Yeah.  Way out.”

Now that their guests were all there, the best way to get away from that touchy subject was to celebrate the birthdays.  Susan brought Iris to the counter first.  In her case, the cake was purely ceremonial, although they’d made a fertilizer patty with decorative flower petals for her to enjoy in her high chair.

Susan leaned Iris over the birthday cake, careful to keep her tender plantsim skin far from the flame.  She blew them out for her, and silently made the wish that Iris would continue to grow well, stay healthy, and have a long and happy life.

The more Iris grew, the more she looked like a green plant version of Susan.  Wispy tendrils of leaf-like matter now covered her head, and she had a vague scent reminiscent of a summer day in the field.  She was cheerful and happy, and took to Patches as readily as Patrick had taken to Buddy.  Whoever sent those dolls, knew what was a hit with toddlers, it seemed.

Next it was Orion’s turn.  He was excited about his birthday, and blew out his candles with enthusiasm.  He had no fear of the fire, even if he did put his face a little too close to the flame for Boyd’s liking.

It amazed Boyd how much Orion had grown.  He’d been a bright toddler and very inquisitive, but now he was of an age to start school and interact in the world.  He and Susan had done their best to prepare him for that.  The thought of Orion being out of their direct care was nerve-wracking, more so than with their other children, because of the need to keep his alien origins a secret.  They’d done their best to explain to him who and what he was in the simplest terms a child his age could understand, as well as the importance of not telling anyone outside of their family that he was alien.

“Not because there’s anything wrong with it,” Boyd stressed to him the night before the party.  “There isn’t.  It’s just that people hurt what they’re afraid of, and they’re afraid of what they don’t understand.  The world still doesn’t understand about Sixam, and special people like you.”

Susan squeezed Orion’s hand.  “We love you how you are, but we don’t want anyone to hurt you.  That’s why, for now, you have to keep it secret.”

Orion understood, but he wished it didn’t have to be that way.  One day, he thought as he blew out the candles, it wouldn’t.

“So, Chief Engineer, are you ready to start school?  You must be excited,” Blair said while they enjoyed their birthday cake.

“Yup!  Not for homework, though.  Patrick said that sucked.”

Susan’s fork hovered mid-air, and she frowned.  “Really, Patrick?  And Orion, let’s not use crude language, please.”

“C’mon, Mom, it does,” Patrick said wryly, before appeasing her with a follow-up to his little brother.  “You’ve got to do it, though, to get good grades.  It’s not hard.  Just boring sometimes.”

Buddy rolled his eyes.  “Try all of the time.  I wouldn’t even bother.”

Patrick almost responded that it was easy for him to say; he didn’t get homework, but he did not want the stares that answering Buddy would earn him.

Orion, however, looked past Patrick right at where Buddy stood.  He could not see Patrick’s invisible friend, but he heard him.  Although he was still too young to control his innate alien abilities, they were still developing.  Much like the block-moving that Chris witnessed back when Orion stayed at Blair’s, Orion’s telepathic abilities were growing with him.  Sometimes they tuned in to things others could not see or hear, like a radio being adjusted to find a station.  Orion was close with Patrick, and sometimes, he heard what he did.  For the first time, he responded to one of Buddy’s wisecracks.  “It shows.”

Orion’s remark puzzled the rest of them, including Patrick.  He had no idea that Orion could hear Buddy, and took it as snark directed at him.  “Yeah, well, you’ll see I’m right,” he teased his little brother back.

Cake time came to an abrupt end when they heard a panicked Boyd shout from the living room.  “Gunther?  Gunther?!”

“Oh, my Watcher.  No!”  Cornelia Goth cried out in despair.

Gunther had died in their rocking chair.  Cornelia and Mortimer were beside themselves with grief, and Boyd was not far behind them.  Gunther was his oldest friend and the only one still around that he’d known even longer than Susan.  Now he’d died right in his living room, at his children’s birthday party.  It hit him like a ton of bricks, a grim, to pardon the pun, reminder of the fragility of life and his own mortality.

Susan, Blair, Cycl0n3, and the other adult guests were all shocked and saddened by the sudden death, while the younger ones who’d never seen such a thing reacted more strongly.  Even Buddy, who had a snide comment for everything, stayed silent as Patrick experienced someone he’d known all his life passing on, even if he was very old.  Blair put a hand on Chris’ back, and Orion stared, confused and overwhelmed.  He knew the concept of death, but he was young and had never witnessed such a thing.

Eni Jish Xip said nothing, but she felt sadness and sympathy for those grieving around her.  Alien or not, such feelings were universal.

When Grim collected his soul, Gunther was at peace with his passing.  Although its timing had been unfortunate, Gunther was tired, weary, and ready to move on.  He had lived a long and rich life, and his son had his whole life ahead of him.  Cornelia would be fine with him, for the time she had left.

Blair called emergency services so her parents would not have to worry about those details.  All of the other guests but Eni Jish Xip left after giving Orion and Iris their gifts, to give those grieving their space.  Blair went with Mortimer and Cornelia when the ambulance came, and Cycl0n3 took Chris home.

“I… I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“You’ve known him forever, pretty much, right?” Patrick asked his father.

“My parents were friends with his parents.  Gunther and his sister babysat me when I was Orion’s age.”

“Kind of like how I know Mortimer,” Patrick mused.

Susan nodded.  “Very much so.  Poor Gunther.  He was quite old, but still.  He seemed healthy.  I hope Cornelia and Mortimer will be all right.  She was so upset, and she’s not much younger than him.”  She stared off into the distance, thoughtful.  “I guess you just never know when your time is up.”

They went inside and found Orion talking to Eni Jish Xip.  She looked over when they came in.  “I am sorry for the loss of your friend, Wainwright family.  I can tell you grieve much for him.”  Boyd just nodded, while she turned back to Orion.  “I had hoped to spend more time speaking with you on the joyous occasion that is your aging cycle, but I will leave you to your space after this last thing.”  She handed him a box.  “I have a birthday gift for you as well.  I believe that is what you call it on your world?”

“Yes.”  Orion was excited about the gift, and opened the box eagerly.  Inside was a large chunk of meteorite.  “Is that a space rock?”

“Looks like Hexahedrite,” Susan noted.

Orion picked it up and held it, and something about it seemed to resonate with him on a level that he did not yet have the vocabulary to explain.  “It’s cool!  Thank you!”

“Hmm.  I did not think it was cold to the touch, but perhaps the difference in physiology from your non-Sixam genetics causes you to experience sensation differently.  Nevertheless,” Eni Jish Xip smiled, “rocks such as this will become more important to you the more you grow and mature.  They allow you to focus your abilities, and you will need to acquire and utilize them to keep them at your peak.”

Orion gave her a puzzled look, while the rest of the family listened.

“You are still young, so you have not experienced this need yet.  It will come in time.  To help prepare you for it, I am giving you this to focus on.  It will help keep your mind clear and energy high, and when you are of suitable age, it will allow you to use your powers.”

“What kind of powers?”

“We’re curious about that, too,” said Boyd.

“I imagine so.”  Eni Jish Xip instructed Orion to place his rock on the coffee table and watch.  “I will show you an example.  I imagine at your age you’ve already experienced feeling and hearing some things that others around you do.  As you become stronger and your body matures, you will be able to not only feel such things, but filter and manipulate them.  That’s how I healed your father when you came from his body, although that is something that will be beyond your ability for some time yet.  But something as minor as this, you’ll be able to do within a few years.  Watch.”

She straightened.  “Your father Boyd Wainwright is distressed from the death of his friend.  His emotional pain manifests in physical symptoms of stress.  You will be able to ease such discomforts with a boost from your natural abilities.”  Eni Jish Xip put her fingertips on her temples, focused on Boyd, and projected a telepathic beam at him.

They could all see the wave-like glowing beam go from the alien woman to Boyd, and he both saw and felt it all at once.  It was warm and comforting, and filled him with a sense of ease and lightness that should have been calming.  It would have been, if it hadn’t felt just like what he’d experienced back in those horrifying moments just before Orion was born, when he’d had no idea what was happening to him, and thought he was going to die.

It tripped every unresolved feeling of fear and resentment he had for the aliens, and about his abduction and the mind-wipe afterward.  A terrifying wave of anxiety overcame Boyd as he felt that once again, he was being invaded and probed.

His pulse raced, and his heart pounded.

They’re doing it again.

He was cold and numb, and terrified.

They’re in your mind.

“No!”  It came out only as a whisper, drowned out by the thudding of his heart.  He could feel Eni Jish Xip’s presence in every thought.

She’s reading you and knows what you’re thinking.

“Stop it!  Stop it!”

They’re in your mind, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it!

He couldn’t take it anymore.

They’re taking over!

“No!  Get out!”  Boyd clutched his head, screaming.  “You won’t do this to me, won’t violate me again!  Get out and leave me alone!”

His reaction caught Eni Jish Xip off guard, but she complied despite being puzzled by it.  “I am sorry, Boyd Wainwright.  I did not mean to cause you distress.  I only meant to ease your discomfort.”

Orion rushed to Boyd’s side.  He felt the swirl of emotion from everyone in the room, but his father’s was the most overwhelming.  “Are you okay?”

Boyd tried to compose himself, while Susan confronted Eni Jish Xip.  “That’s enough!  Whatever your intentions were, they’re a well-paved road to—”

“I can see I overstepped my boundaries, Susan Wainwright,” she said regretfully.  “I did not realize how your Earth culture differed from Sixam’s in this way.”

“You said you were helping him!  Why’d you hurt him?”  Orion was upset.  Patrick also watched, silent and concerned, and picked up Iris from her swing.

“I only meant to ease his burden of grief.”

“Well, she obviously sucks at it,” said Buddy.  Patrick agreed, but if Orion heard Buddy that time, it did not register.

Boyd calmed down enough to talk, but he was still clearly agitated.  “I don’t know how it works on Sixam, but here, you don’t just go and invade someone’s body or mind without asking!  The abduction and experimenting on me were bad enough!  Don’t you ever do it to me again!”

Eni Jish Xip nodded, abashed.  “I will not.  I am sorry.”  She met Orion’s eyes.  “It seems I have given you a poor lesson, Orion Wainwright, and I apologize for that as well.  I hope you will use the meteorite to hone your abilities, but do heed the rules of your Earth culture in using them.  You are first and foremost an Earth child of Sixam.  I will depart now, and return again when you are of more mature age.”  She looked from Boyd to Susan.  “That is, if you will permit it.”

“We’ll see,” Susan said frostily, while Boyd closed his eyes and sighed.

“Contact us then.”

“Very well.  Goodbye, Wainwright Family.  I wish you well, child Orion Wainwright.”  With that, she walked out the door, and vanished in a teleporter beam.

Once she was gone, Susan went to her husband’s side.  “Boyd?  Are you all right?”

“It’s… it’s been a hell of a day.”

She nodded wordlessly, and hugged him.

“I’m sorry.”  Orion looked up at his parents, his young face drawn with guilt and distress.

“Oh, Orion.  It’s not your fault.  None of this is your fault.”

He looked down.  “But it is.  You’re upset because they experimented on you to make me, and didn’t ask you.”

His words hit Boyd like a physical blow, because in the most basic sense, it was true.  He did harbor a lot of resentment about the abduction, more than he realized until now.  It had all boiled to the surface when Eni Jish Xip used her powers on him.  Orion had obviously picked up on that, and drew the conclusion that because he was the result, he was to blame.  But how could he explain that while he was angry about what the aliens did, it was separate from how he felt about Orion himself?  That wasn’t something an adult would have an easy time processing, let alone a child.  Being put in the position of having to reassure him in such a way only frustrated Boyd more.

“No.  I mean, yes, you’re right, I’m angry that they—they used me like that.  But I don’t blame you.  I’ve never blamed you.”  Boyd hugged him.

“Never.  We love you,” Susan assured Orion, then turned to Patrick.  “Would you take Iris outside in the sun?  I think the fresh air would be good for her.”

Patrick understood that they wanted to talk to Orion alone.  “Sure.”  He gave Buddy a look that told him to follow, and the three of them went out onto the back patio.

Orion sat, unconvinced.  “But you said I was made when they ran an experiment.  You said to her they didn’t ask you.”

“They didn’t.  That’s right.”  Boyd kept his response simple and honest.  It was not a conversation he ever wanted to have with Orion at such a young age.  He’d hoped what they told him—that he’d been created in an experiment aliens had run on him—would be enough until he was older, and emotionally mature enough to understand the implications without being burdened by them.  It seemed that was not in the proverbial stars, however.

“Did you want me?”

“Oh, honey, of course we want you,” Susan said.

“But if they didn’t ask you, and it made you so mad, doesn’t that mean you didn’t want me?”  Orion’s voice wavered, and it hurt both Boyd and Susan to see him like that.

“No.  Not at all.  Let me explain.”  Boyd met Orion’s eyes.  “It’s true that what they did, they did without asking. It was very upsetting.  They didn’t tell me about you, Orion.  I didn’t know about you yet.  All I knew is they just took me and ran their experiment, and made it so I couldn’t remember what they did to me.  Before you were born, I felt very sick.  I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew they did something, and because they erased my memory, I didn’t know what.  They probably thought it was ‘helping,’ like Eni Jish Xip did earlier.  But it was scary.  One of the scariest things ever,” he admitted.

“But when you were born, and she healed me, she did ask me one thing.  She asked if I wanted to keep you, or send you away with her to grow up on Sixam.  I chose to keep you here.  Even after what they did to me, I still wanted you to stay here with us.  Please don’t ever think we didn’t want you, Orion.  Because we do.  I can be angry at them without it having anything to do with you being my son and part of the family.”

Orion was reassured, but still had questions.  “So is that why you don’t like her?  My alien mother?”

Susan saw no point in sugar coating it.  “Pretty much, yes.”

“I’d rather you not call her your mother, even if she did give you genetics.  She’s your mother.”  Boyd gestured to Susan.  “We let Eni Jish Xip see you because she’s your only link to your Sixam lineage, and the best way for you to learn about it.”

“We know you’ll have questions that we can’t answer, not being from Sixam,” Susan said.  She and Boyd felt for Orion, and how overwhelming it was for him.

“She wants me to use the rock for my powers.”

“And you should,” Boyd encouraged.  “Everything else aside, she’s right that you need to know how to use them.  If the space rock helps, use it all you need.”

“We can get you more meteorite samples from the lab if you need them,” Susan offered.

“Okay.”  Orion went over to his space rock.  “I don’t know how it works, but I’ll try.  I only kind of understood what she was talking about.”

“That’s all right.  She said you might not be old enough to do much yet,” Boyd reassured him.

Orion admired the meteorite, its shiny black color and oddly curved shape formed by its travels through space.  “I won’t hurt anyone, though.  I don’t want to be like them.”

“You’re already not,” said Susan.

“You don’t have to be like anyone you don’t want to.  It’s your life.  Always remember that.”

Orion took his father’s words to heart.  “I will.”

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #204 on: December 28, 2017, 03:32:07 PM »
Wow Cheezey, what a wonderful talk with Orion.  You gave them such sensitivity, it's heartwarming.  And Eni Jish Xip really really needs a new stylist!  ;)
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 47
« Reply #205 on: January 03, 2018, 10:32:01 PM »
Wow Cheezey, what a wonderful talk with Orion.  You gave them such sensitivity, it's heartwarming.  And Eni Jish Xip really really needs a new stylist!  ;)

Thank you!

Glad Eni Jish Xip's outfit amused. :D

Chapter 47

It was Love Day, the day of the year for romance and spending time with that special someone.  Since she was such a romantic at heart, Blair was excited, and got up early to make waffles for breakfast.  Usually the Sw0rd household just grabbed quick meals from the fridge, but Blair wanted to surprise Cycl0n3.  She also made a batch of hot chocolate to enjoy with the food, since it was a chilly spring morning.

“Hot chocolate, waffles, and syrup?  Now that’s what I call starting the day with a sugar rush.”  Cycl0n3 sipped at his mug.

“Well, it is Love Day, and you need to be sweetened up.”  Blair giggled.

“I like it when you let me have chocolate before school.”  Chris finished his hot chocolate while waiting on the waffles, and chowed through his plate of extra syrupy sweetness.

“Don’t get too used to it, since it’s not very healthy, but… well, Love Day isn’t every day.  And I love you guys.”

Cycl0n3 made a joking kissy face at his wife.  “D’awww.  She’s so sweet.”

Chris rolled his eyes at his parents’ mushy silliness, and Cycl0n3 noticed.  “What?  You don’t think we’re cool?  Well, I’ll have you know I’ve never been cool.”

“Oh, I know.”

Blair snickered, while Cycl0n3 made a face of mock offense.  “You weren’t supposed to agree that fast, you know.”

“Maybe Chris is saving all his cool points for someone special in class today, hmm?”  Blair gave her son a hinting look.

“Ew!  No.”  He put his fork down and stood up.  “I’ve got to wait for the bus.”  Chris grabbed his bag and coat, and headed out the door.

“Wow.  You scared him off good!”

“Maybe I hit a little too close to home.”  Blair smirked as she stood up to clear the table.  “He’s going to be a teenager and dating before you know it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a crush on someone.”

Cycl0n3 pulled her into a hug before she could start the dishes.  “Don’t worry.  I’m sure he inherited my smooth moves.”

“Why do you think he needed sweetening up this morning, too?”  Blair stuck her tongue out at him.

“Oooh.  Harsh.  But hey, you should be proud.  I remembered Love Day this time.  I got a surprise for you tonight.”


“Stiles’ band is playing a big gig, and I scored us front row seats.  We’ve both been wanting to see one of his shows for a while now.  I figure we can go to the concert, then grab a romantic bite at the place of your choice, and then come home and…”  He gave her a suggestive look.

“That sounds great!  You are getting better at this romance thing.”  She kissed him.  “What do you want to do until then?”

Cycl0n3 sighed.  “I’ve got to work until at least this afternoon.  Nancy Landgraab left me a message about her case this morning.”

Blair was disappointed. “On Love Day?  That stinks.  What a killjoy to ask you to work today.  You’d think she’d be thinking about her own husband.”

She is, and that’s the problem, Cycl0n3 thought, although his confidentiality agreement kept him from sharing that.  Instead he just gave Blair a quick kiss before heading for the car.  “I’ll see you tonight.”

In the voicemail she left, Nancy Landgraab sounded tense, and asked him to call back as soon as possible.  Cycl0n3 got in his car and returned the call on his hands-free device.

“I asked Geoffrey about his fishing trip, and what I got was a fish story,” she ranted.  “He claimed he was at Stoney Falls all afternoon.  He even said it was nice and quiet, a real change of pace!  I wonder if that was a dig at me?  Hmph.  Regardless, I picked up his cell phone while he was in the shower, and it seems he changed the code to unlock it.  I can’t get in, but I saw a message that said ‘my place’ flash across the lock screen.  I didn’t say anything.”

“Good.  That won’t put him on the defensive,” Cycl0n3 advised.

“At breakfast, I noticed he was wearing cologne.  You know, before this, I might’ve thought he was getting into the mood for Love Day, despite the arguments we’ve had lately.”  Her voice took on a hurt note.  “He’s always had that kind of romantic side.  But then he got up and said he had some errands to run.  I asked him what, and he said the bank and the post office to mail something and a couple of other things.  Right.  When he’s getting texts saying ‘my place’?”  Nancy choked up.  “Check it out for me.  If you can get me irrefutable evidence, I’ll make it worth your while, and I’ll eviscerate him in divorce court.  How dare he cheat on me?”  She reined in her anger and wounded pride long enough to become professional again.  “Thank you for your help, Mr. Sw0rd.”

“I understand.”  Cycl0n3 felt for her.  It was obvious how hard she had been hit by the affair.  “I’ll head there right away.”

As Cycl0n3 neared the end of Skyborough Boulevard and approached Pauline Wan’s home, he noticed a familiar car in the driveway.  It was the same one Pauline had gotten into with Geoffrey Landgraab at the coffee house, confirmed as he saw him get out and walk around to the front door.  Old Dr. Landgraab’s making a house call.  Cycl0n3 was too jaded to be surprised, but it depressed him nonetheless.  The Landgraabs had been married a long time, and everyone thought they were happy.  How did they go from that to one of them lying and sneaking around to a lover’s house on Love Day?  Perhaps there was some way it was all a misunderstanding, and Geoffrey was innocent, but Cycl0n3 doubted it.  He pulled over and snapped a picture.

He parked at the beach across the street, just in time to see Pauline let Geoffrey in.  Cycl0n3 still had his phone out and grabbed a picture.  It wasn’t looking good for Dr. Landgraab’s fidelity, although no court would call what he’d gotten proof yet.

Cycl0n3 waited in the picnic area for a minute, and then went over to the house.  He stepped onto the porch, and already had a cover story in mind to give if they spotted him.  He would say he was a P.I. on a case looking into an allegation that Pauline had stolen a valuable musical instrument.  She was Stiles’ bandmate, after all.  It occurred to him that when he and Blair went to that concert later, he would see Pauline performing with Stiles.  Let’s hope that’s the only show she’s starring in today.  The curtains on the porch windows weren’t drawn, so Cycl0n3 peeked in.

Nope.  It seemed Pauline Wan also had a leading role in the marriage-smashing hit The Cheating Love Doctor is In.

Jaded just a bit more, Cycl0n3 captured the moment with both snapshots and a video. He’d gotten Nancy Landgraab what she wanted, but it was quite possibly the worst Love Day gift anyone could hope to receive.  He watched as the couple broke apart and went upstairs.  It was obvious what they were up to, and more than enough for a lawyer to have a field day with.  He returned to his car to wait so he could note the time once Geoffrey Landgraab left.

While he waited, he loaded SimBook on his phone.  Blair had shared a pink and red sparkly “HAPPY LOVE DAY!” smiley heart graphic.  It was so typical of her, and made him smile.  Jobs like this one made Cycl0n3 realize just how lucky he was to be with someone like Blair, and he thanked the Watcher for it.

Although Chris had been unimpressed with the mush and fluff of Love Day, his uncle Patrick felt its spirit beyond tasty chocolate candy for the first time.  He could hardly stop thinking about Maria Wolff, that she was going to the dance with him, and the way she’d smiled and waved when they passed in the hall.  They’d exchanged a couple of texts since that night at the Spring Festival, but hadn’t gotten much of a chance to talk.

That day, the buses were running late due to an accident blocking traffic, so the high school students hung around the schoolyard to wait.  To Patrick’s delight, Maria came over to talk to him.  “Hey.  How’s it going?  Can you believe they’re keeping us here late?  I’m so annoyed.  I’ve got so many better things to do, you know?”

“Yeah, I hear you.  I can think of a thousand things I’d rather do.”

“I know!” Maria agreed dramatically.  “I mean, it’s Love Day, for crying out loud.  People have lives and plans!”

Patrick wondered what Maria’s Love Day plans were.  He hoped there weren’t any.  That was, if they didn’t involve him.  Naturally, that would be an acceptable exception.  “Right.  Totally rude.  The driver was probably texting his girlfriend or something and caused the stupid accident.”  He tried to sound casual.  “So, uh, what are they holding up you from?”

Maria smiled coyly.  “Oh, stuff and things, but… I might be flexible, depending.  You know.”  She leaned in closer to him.  “What about you?  Are you doing anything special?”

“I, uh, was thinking maybe,” Patrick’s heartbeat quickened as he tried desperately not to sound like an idiot.  He feared he was failing, so he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.  “Prism Art Studio.  They’re having a Love Day display opening there tonight at 7.”

“Really?”  Maria’s eyes lit up.

“Yeah.”  Patrick was glad he’d seen their post about it on SimBook earlier.  He had not decided for sure if he would go or not, but as a date with Maria… “Want to go with me?”

“I’d love to.”

Their conversation was interrupted when an angry Julius Langerak came over.  He glared at Patrick, then Maria.  “Patrick Wainwright?  That’s who you dumped me on Love Day for?  Patrick Freaking Wainwright?!”

Patrick was both stunned and insulted.  Although he and Julius ran in different social circles, he’d never had a problem with him before.

“Oh, stop acting like a cave sim, Julius.”  Maria rolled her eyes.

“You dumped me with a note in my locker!”

“Well, you never answered your text.  I had to make sure you got the message some way,” Maria huffed.

“You know I hate texting!” Julius raged.  “Who dumps someone with a text?  Or a note?  For Patrick Wainwright?  On Love Day?!”

Julius’ voice escalated on each point, and Patrick was even more offended that he was being peppered in like some kind of insult.  What made Julius Langerak think he was such a prize?  At least he wasn’t the one getting a D in Simlish, as he’d overheard their teacher tell Julius while handing him back a paper with poor marks.

“Get over it.”  Maria glowered at Julius.  “I told you at lunch, we’re done.  I was done after you forgot to call me back when you promised for the third time!  And forgot to pick me up for that date last week, too.  Now you care?  Well, too bad, because I’m so over it, it’s not funny.”  She straightened and flipped her braid.  “Yes, I am going with Patrick, and yes, you can get over that, too.  We’ve got a lot more in common, anyway.”  She narrowed her eyes.  “Plus, he’s cuter, and smart enough to remember my number and text to it!” she added on a snide note.

Julius sneered at them both.  “Yeah, well, I hope he doesn’t ask you to have a threesome with his invisible friend Buddy.  Weird Wainwright here probably still talks to him.”

Patrick’s cheeks flushed almost as red as his hair, but so did his temper.  He hadn’t talked about Buddy at school in a long time, mostly because he realized that nobody believed him, but apparently Julius remembered.

“Weird Wainwright?  Wow, that’s original.  Did you come up with that alliteration all on your own, or did you have to ask our Simlish teacher for help?”

“Maybe Buddy told me.  You do still talk to him, right?  ‘Cause he’s totally real?” Julius scoffed.  “I bet you do.  Everyone knows you and your wacko family are all screwed up.  Your invisible friend, your creepy little green brother, plantsims, mad scientist parents, even your cousin has some dorky computer nerd last name.”

“Cousin?  Wait, do you mean Chris?  First of all, he’s my sister’s son, which makes him my nephew, you dumb llama!  Second, making fun of little kids?  That’s the best you can do?  Maria was too generous when she called you a cave sim.  Primordial slime would be closer.”

Maria gave Julius a disdainful look.  “You’re embarrassing yourself.  And me.”  Their classmates were staring, watching the drama unfold.

Julius ignored her and ranted back at Patrick.  “She only likes you because you’re rich, you know.  If you didn’t live on Summer Hill Court, she probably wouldn’t give you the time of day.”

Patrick rolled his eyes.  “Right.  She’s obviously a gold-digger, because living on beachfront property in a big house means the Wolffs are really hurting.  Moron.”

Julius had enough.  “The Wolffs might not be hurting, but you’ll be!”  He swung at Patrick, and it was on.

Maria shrieked and yelled for them to stop it, while their classmates gathered to watch the spectacle.  It didn’t last long.  Patrick was angry, but Julius was stronger, and in sports club.  Patrick limped away bruised in both body and ego.

“If Maria doesn’t ditch you with a text for getting your plumbob kicked, maybe she’ll kiss it and make it better,” Julius taunted him.  “I know how far she goes by the second date.”

“You’re a pig!” Maria snapped.

“Not what you said then,” Julius retorted.  “Have fun with Patrick at the dance, if he’s done limping by then.”  He stomped off.

“Hey, are you all right?”

Patrick nodded.  He was sore and humiliated, but Maria’s concern was a nice salve on his wounds.  “Yeah.”

“Julius is a jerk.  Don’t listen to him.  There’s a reason I dumped him.  I’d have broken up with him whether you asked me out to the dance or not.”  She paused, and added, “And it was really sweet how you defended me, and didn’t let him talk crap about your little brother and sister and stuff.  That was really low of him.”

“I never realized he was such a llama.”

“It was probably harsh to dump him on Love Day, but I didn’t want to string him on.  Not when I wanted to be with someone else.”  She leaned in flirtatiously.  “Someone who’d even get in a fight over my honor, all chivalrous and stuff.”

“Well it wasn’t… I mean… okay, I guess I kind of was.”  Patrick smiled at her.  “Still want to go to the Prism Studio show tonight?”


Despite the fight, Patrick’s Love Day was looking up now that he had a date with Maria Wolff.  Unfortunately, it took another downturn when he got home.

Susan and Boyd were waiting for him when he came in the front door.  He hadn’t even had a chance to take his jacket off before his mother started in on him.  “I got a call that you were in a fight at school today.”

“What?”  Patrick was surprised.  There hadn’t even been any teachers outside to see it.

“You heard me.”  Susan was in no mood for nonsense as she noted his somewhat disheveled appearance.  “I can see it’s true.  You look like a mess.”

“You’re not hurt, are you?”  Boyd looked him over.  “What happened?  Fighting’s not like you.”

“I’m fine,” Patrick said sourly.  Dealing with Julius had been bad enough, but he was in no mood to get the third degree and a lecture.  “Julius Langerak is an a—”

“Language,” Susan cut him off sternly.

“He started it, okay?” Patrick shouted back.  “He was mad his girlfriend dumped him for me, and came over and started talking crap.  When I told him what a loser he was, he took a swing at me.  So yeah, I wasn’t going to take that, and hit back.”

“I know you were angry, but escalating it wasn’t the right call,” said Susan.  “You’re smarter than that.  You’re better than that.”

“Are you seriously going to get on my case for defending myself?!  What, was I supposed to stand there like a punching bag?  Is that what perfect angel Blair would’ve done?  Or you?”

“Blair managed to make it through school without getting into any schoolyard brawls, and so did I,” Susan informed him.

Boyd sighed.  “Look, Patrick, I know how annoying bullies can be.  There were a couple of llamas that gave me a hard time when I was your age, too.  But I’ll tell you what my dad told me.  There’s nothing wrong with defending yourself.  We won’t punish you for that.  But you can’t let it cross the line from defending yourself to evening the score, no matter how mad he made you.”  He gave Patrick a pointed look.  “If all you did was stick up for yourself, fine.  If not, think about why, and don’t let it happen again.  Like your mother said, you’re better than that.”

“Okay.  Fine.”  Patrick just wanted the conversation over.  “Can I go upstairs?  I want to clean up and take a shower.  I’m going out with Maria to the Prism Studio art show later.”

“Is she the one you got in the fight over?” asked Boyd.


“Maria Wolff?” Susan guessed.

“Yeah.”  Patrick’s tone grew short and impatient.

“I see,” said Susan.  “Well, all right, but don’t stay out too late.  No taking the car.  You still only have a permit.”

“I know,” he replied, and went up to his room.

Boyd turned to Susan.  “What an introduction to Love Day, huh?”

“I can’t believe he got in a fight.  Our Patrick.  He’s never been the type for that kind of behavior.”  Susan sighed.  “It’s sweet he’s got himself a girlfriend, but it’s a shame he’s already in some sort of teenage love drama over her.”

“Hopefully they’ll have a nice date tonight, be smart enough to stay away from the bitter ex, and it’ll blow over.  A good first Love Day date should put him in a better mood.”

“I know I always look forward to ours,” Susan said flirtatiously.  “Speaking of which, we should probably call a babysitter and get dressed ourselves, since Patrick’s got a date and won’t be here to watch Orion and Iris.”

“I’ll take care of it.  But first, a little something to start the night off.”  Boyd presented Susan with a bouquet of beautiful red roses.  “Happy Love Day, honey.”

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #206 on: January 03, 2018, 11:55:28 PM »
Following Cycl0ne around on his P.I. work is so much fun. Your screenshots make me feel like I'm right there with him. :D
Poor Nancy!

You're so right! Patrick looks so much like his father, even cuter!
I really enjoyed how you portrayed the crass and desperate Julius. Ugh, what did she ever see in him?!
What a surprise to see Patrick giving the Loser "L" gesture--I'd never seen that before in the sims and it cracked me up.
Ahhhhh, teen love!

Boyd and Susan, Blair and Cycl0n3--such lovey-dovey couples. I such a fan of your Wainrights!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 48
« Reply #207 on: January 11, 2018, 09:19:34 PM »
Following Cycl0ne around on his P.I. work is so much fun. Your screenshots make me feel like I'm right there with him. :D
Poor Nancy!

Thanks! I felt so bad for Nancy, too. That was one of those cases where story progression made me sad, because I like Nancy & Geoffrey Landgraab as a couple. But SP decided Pauline needed another heartbreaker notch, and I guess despite being family oriented, the hopeless romantic part of Geoffrey fell for her charms. I saw a romance start with them in the notifications and sure enough within a sim day he and Nancy were divorced. Even worse, like all of Pauline's relationships, the following steady relationship with Geoffrey and Pauline didn't last, so Geoffrey basically tanked his marriage for nothing. On the bright side, both Landgraabs did move on and find new lovers after that. Whether those will work out, time will only tell.

You're so right! Patrick looks so much like his father, even cuter!
I really enjoyed how you portrayed the crass and desperate Julius. Ugh, what did she ever see in him?!
What a surprise to see Patrick giving the Loser "L" gesture--I'd never seen that before in the sims and it cracked me up.
Ahhhhh, teen love!

Story progression made Julius the town bully, even though his traits are mostly neutral. His worst is technophobe and maybe absent-minded. Maria did sort of cheat on him when I had Patrick ask her out, as they were romantically involved, but Patrick didn't know that (they weren't steady when he asked her to prom).

Boyd and Susan, Blair and Cycl0n3--such lovey-dovey couples. I such a fan of your Wainrights!

Thank you! I hope you enjoy their actual Love Day dates in this chapter. I had to split Love Day across two chapters to get everything I wanted included.

Chapter 48

After dealing with the drama of their teenage son getting into a fight at school, Boyd and Susan enjoyed their romantic Love Day evening out even more.  They started off with reservations at the exclusive lounge in town.  Susan chose their Lobster Thermidor special and picked a fine nectar to go with it.  Boyd decided to have the same; Susan always had good taste.

“The chef did a great job with this.”  Susan savored the delectable bite.  “It’s nice to have something so elegant without having to rely on myself to do it right.”  Susan had become an excellent cook over the years, but advanced recipes were not something she was always in the mood to spend time making.

“Having to cook your own romantic dinner on Love Day doesn’t sound too romantic, unless it’s one of those deals where you wanted to cook for your special someone.  And neither of us would want me to try cooking anything for you, considering my culinary skills are only slightly above making hot dogs.”

“Not a meal that screams fine dining and romance,” Susan agreed.  “I’d rather be wined and dined and waited on while we spend time together anyway.”

“I’m all for that.”  Boyd picked up the nectar bottle and topped off their glasses.

After they finished their meal, they had flaming angel food cake for dessert and a last glass of nectar after the plates were cleared.  “This tastes different than any we tried in Champs Les Sims.  Good, but different.  I liked how it tasted with the cake.  It was good with the lobster, too, but better with dessert.”  Boyd smiled at Susan.  “I sound like a nectar snob.  You’ve been refining my palate, honey.  You should be proud.”

“Oh, I am,” she replied, amused.  “It’s a flame fruit-cherry blend, so it complements the cake naturally.  But because of the flame fruit, it’s not something you’ll find out for general tasting.”

“Ah.  Flame fruit.  That would explain why it was on the ‘if you have to ask what it costs, you can’t afford it’ list.”

“I still love that we can order off that list.  We’ve been rich a while, but it still hasn’t gotten old or made me miss our less affluent old days in that sense.”  She paused.  “That reminds me.  We should probably make another donation to that future planning fund soon.  They sent one of their portfolios to the lab the other day.  They’ve got some great ideas in development.”

“Oh, yeah!  I looked through that.  Some of the robotics stuff was like proto-plumbot tech, even, and we know how far in the future that is.”

“Emit wanted us to give it a nudge.”

“He did,” Boyd said thoughtfully.  “It’s been a while since we heard from him.  Since Orion was born.  He said he’d contact us when the time was right, but I wonder just when that will be.”

“I don’t know.  I wonder if he knew about Iris.”

“He knew about Orion, so probably.  Maybe he’s waiting for something to cement itself in our timeline before coming back.  Maybe Iris, or Blair’s new baby?”

“Maybe.”  Susan considered.  “You know, he said he’s a descendant of Blair and Cycl0n3’s.  We always assumed it was a child Chris would eventually have.  Maybe not, though.  It could be this one.”

“It’s possible, but if so, I wonder why he didn’t show us Chris’ descendants.  Does he or one of his descendants never have children?”  A dark thought occurred to him.  “Or do they die in the wasteland explosion?  I can guess why Orion’s weren’t there.  Even though Emit knew we changed the timeline to where he lived long enough, at that point, we were out of it so it was probably in some state of flux, and couldn’t exist in that particular version of the future.  So, our Orion and Iris weren’t there, because it was like we vanished from our time at that point, and never had them.”  His brow furrowed.  “Though that goes against the ‘we always go there, so we always go back, and therefore, there they are’ fixed point kind of time theory.”

“Time travel is enough to make your head swim even without benefit of nectar.”  Susan set her now empty glass down.  She felt warm and relaxed, and found the soft piano music inviting.  “Hey.  Think maybe before we head out to our Love Day movie, we’d have time for a dance?”

“Fine dining, dancing, and a show?  We’re nailing every traditional point this Love Day, aren’t we?”  He stood and offered her his hand.

They went to the dance floor, and settled into an intimate slow dance to the romantic piano music.  “Don’t forget the lovely flowers you gave me.”

“Would it be too much of a spoiler to tell you I also left you a heart-shaped box of Simdiva chocolates on your pillow?”

“Simdiva, hmm?  You are going all out to woo me,” she said playfully.  “Truffles?”

“Dark assortment.”

“Ooooh.  You charmer.  I know what we’ll be doing when we get back to our bedroom tonight.”

Boyd smirked.  “Eating chocolate?”

“That too,” she said with a wink, and smooched him.

After dinner, Boyd and Susan went to the premiere of a movie they’d both been looking forward to.  The film was just as good as it had been billed to be.  They shared a kiss in one of the theater’s loveseats once the credits rolled, and headed home to enjoy the last of their romantic night together.

Over at the Prism Art Studio, Patrick met Maria at the entrance right on time.  They headed in to the show together.  “I’m so glad you wanted to come to this,” Maria said excitedly.  “They’re supposed to have some fabulous new pieces from Bridgeport, and the local glass blowers’ guild made a special statue just for it.”

“That must be it there.”

Menus de Vilo: My Transparent Heart,” Maria read from the plaque.  “She’s beautiful.”

“Kind of somber, though,” Patrick remarked.

“Maybe she regrets being too transparent,” theorized Maria.  “She gave her heart to someone, whole… heartedly, so to speak, and she’s afraid her lover will break it.”

“Could be.”  Patrick studied the statue.

Maria sensed his thoughtful pause.  “But…?”

“But that’d be kind of a, I don’t know, cynical take for a Love Day centerpiece.  But maybe not.  It could also be saying that love is beautiful, but fragile, like the glass she’s made of.”

“Right.  Like glass, hearts are easy to break.”

“But if it’s handled with care, it can still last forever.”

“Even transparent,” mused Maria.  “It’s even more beautiful that way.”  Their eyes drifted from the statue to each other, and there was a moment in their silence, until a passer-by came to look at the statue as well.

“So, uh… next exhibit?”


Patrick and Maria toured the entire display, admiring the various paintings, sculptures, and art pieces set out for the holiday show.  They were both impressed by the beauty and craftsmanship of the artworks, and discussed their interpretations of what they thought the artists were trying to convey.  Some of their opinions were the same, and others differed to an extent, but both thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and viewing.

Once they finished touring the Love Day show, they looked at other rooms in the studio gallery.  One that amused them was the blown glass gnomes.  “They’re goofy,” Maria remarked.  “I mean, cute and all, but still kind of, I don’t know.  Kung Fu gnome here seems like something my little brother would want on his shelf.”

“Oh, sometime I’ve got to show you the pictures of the gnomes I took at the Champs Les Sims museum,” Patrick said with a laugh.  “They claimed they were the magic gnomes—you know, the legend about how some garden gnomes are actually alive and move around and play tricks—they had ones supposedly from different parts around the world.  One from China, one from Egypt, a French one…”

“Oh!  Mysterious Mr. Gnome!  My mom told me and my brother that story as kids before she’d put us to bed sometimes.  Tad totally believed in them for a while, and blamed a gnome every time he lost something.  Once he tried to claim a gnome stole his homework and that was why he brought home a bad grade for not doing it.”  She laughed.  “Mom didn’t believe him, needless to say.”

“Hah.  Mine wouldn’t fall for that, either.  I hoped I’d catch one of them moving, but I never did.  They were neat, though.”

“You’ll have to show me when I come over sometime,” Maria hinted flirtatiously.

“Yeah.  Sure.  I’d love to show you my gnome pictures.”  He snickered.  “Wow, I’m sorry.  That came out like a bad pick up line.”

Maria giggled.  “No!  It did, but… it was cute.  Mostly because it wasn’t trying to be a bad pick up line.”

“Good, because I’d never use a bad pick up line on you.  Or any kind of line.”

“I know.”  Maria met his eyes.  “You’re classier than that.  And smarter.  I like smart guys.  Especially ones who like to talk about the things I’m into.  Someone like that,” she paused as her voice took on a flirtatious note, “wouldn’t have to use a pick up line.”

“He wouldn’t?”  They leaned closer to one another, and Patrick’s heart fluttered with excitement.

“Nope.  All he’d have to do is…”


Although Patrick was as nervous as could be, it still felt natural and amazing as he leaned in and kissed Maria.  She took his hands and kissed him back, and when they broke apart a moment later, they smiled at one another.  “That was nice.  I’m glad I got a kiss on Love Day after all.”

“I’m glad it was you I got to kiss.”

Maria blushed at the compliment.  “That’s really sweet.  I’m glad we came out.  This has been great.  A nice time, a romantic art display and… a new boyfriend?”  She gave him a hopeful hinting look.

“Yeah.  Yes!  Wow.  You bet!”  Yeah, that was smooth, he chided himself, although Maria seemed happy as he took her hands.

“I can’t wait to tell everyone!”  Maria held up her phone.  “Let’s get a picture.  For SimBook.  Our first date, on Love Day!”  They posed for the camera, and Maria took a picture, then she smooched him and took another.  They admired the shots and picked the best one.  Maria uploaded it, while Patrick loaded his phone and liked it when she tagged him in it.

The gallery made an announcement that it would be closing in an hour, but they were serving coffee at the bar downstairs for guests.

“Want to go grab a cup?”

“Sure,” Maria agreed.

The two of them headed down to the studio coffee bar and got a drink, chatting and basking in the glow of their new now-official relationship.  They were having a great time when suddenly Maria got a surprised and not altogether pleasant look on her face.  “Maria?  What’s wrong?”

“That’s… that’s my dad.  What’s he doing here?  He hates art.  He always told Mom what a waste of time and money he thinks it is.”

Patrick knew Maria’s parents divorced when she was younger.  She and her brother lived with their mother, but she never said much about her father.  Patrick couldn’t help but be a little nervous as he approached the table.

“Maria?  I didn’t expect to see you here, at this hour.”  Thornton glanced at his watch.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” Maria said quietly.  “Didn’t think it was your kind of place.”

“I had a meeting with one of the artists for a contract on the Doo Peas lobby renovation.  They don’t keep 9-5 hours.  Does your mother know you’re here?”

“Yes.  She said I could stay out until 10.”

“All right.”  Thornton relaxed somewhat.  “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Fine.  This is Patrick Wainwright.  My boyfriend, actually.  He took me here for Love Day.”  She smiled uneasily at Patrick, as if to apologize for the awkward intrusion.  “Patrick, this is my dad.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Wolff.”  Patrick shook his hand, and Thornton sat down at one of the empty chairs at the table for a moment.

“Likewise.  Wainwright?  Are you from the same family that owns the science lab?”

“Yes.  That’s my parents.”

“Ah.  I’ve never met them, but I’ve heard good things about the lab under their management.”  Thornton gave his daughter a pointed look.  “Maria never mentioned having a boyfriend.”

She turned her coffee cup in her hands.  “You never asked.”

“No.  I suppose I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since your birthday.  Well, I’ll leave you to your date, then.”  He stood back up.  “Have fun.  Tell Tad I said hello and hope he’s doing well.”

“You could always call him yourself,” Maria muttered under her breath.

Thornton looked at her.  “What?”

“I said ‘sure.’”

“All right.  Have a good night.  It was good meeting you, Patrick.”  With that, Thornton headed out the doors.

“Wow.  That was only the most awkward thing ever,” Maria vented after her father left.  “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Patrick assured her.  “I’ve got to meet your parents sometime, right?  Got one out of the way early.”

“Yeah, but dealing with my dad is about the last thing that would make a Love Day date romantic.”  She sighed.  “And we were having such a good time, too.”

Patrick smiled at her.  “It’s still not bad.  At least, not for me.”  He noticed the time.  “Too bad they’re closing.”

“I know,” Maria said regretfully.  “I’d better get a taxi and get home.   After running into Dad, I don’t want to risk getting home late, especially if he checks in with Mom about seeing me here.  Talking to him always puts her in a foul mood.”

“Hey, my parents won’t care if I’m a little late as long as I text them first.  Want me to ride in the taxi with you on the way home?  I know it’s not like a ride home in my car, but I’m still doing Driver’s Ed, so unfortunately, I’ve just got a learner’s permit still.”

Maria took his hand and flashed him a flirtatious look.  “Well, I expect a ride as soon as you get it, but I understand.”  They put their coats on and headed out.  “I wish my parents would get me a car, but Mom says I have to prove I’m responsible borrowing hers first, before she’ll consider getting me one of my own.  On the other hand,” Maria leaned in closer to him as they walked through the chilly air of the night spring snowfall, “riding in the backseat of the taxi together, you can keep me nice and warm.”

Patrick put his arm around her.  “I will.”

When they got to Maria’s house, Patrick tipped the cabbie to wait a minute while he kissed Maria good night.  “Thanks for coming out with me.  I had a great time.”  He locked eyes with her, and noticed again how pretty she was in the starlight.  “Happy Love Day, Maria.”

“Happy Love Day, Patrick.  Good night.”  She smooched him on the lips one last time, and went inside.  Patrick went home on Cloud Nine.  For him, it had turned out to be a happy Love Day indeed.

Across town, the oldest Wainwright child also celebrated Love Day with her special someone.  The depressing outcome of the Landgraab infidelity case had left Cycl0n3 especially motivated to make Love Day memorable, and being a natural romantic, Blair was as enthused as could be.  Cycl0n3 bought her a box of candy on the way home, and they ended up eating half of it watching a sappy movie on TV together before the concert.

Although Blair was a natural introvert that hated crowds, she was excited about the Love Day concert Stiles’ band was putting on.  Not only had Cycl0n3 gotten a front row center spot for them, but it was designated space kept private just for them.  No rude patrons or over-excited partying fans would dance into her personal space or bump into her.

Stiles had always been quite talented, but over the years he had gotten even better.  It was no surprise that his band got such high-billed gigs these days.  Their albums sold well, and they were popular to book, even though neither he, Zelda, nor Pauline were that young anymore.  It didn’t seem to matter to the crowd, who rocked out with them all round.

Cycl0n3 had to keep what he saw of Pauline earlier to himself, at least until Nancy Landgraab went public with her evidence and hauled her husband into divorce court.  Then, he would have quite the story to tell Blair.

The concert ended late, and most of the restaurants in town were full with long waits for seating due to the holiday.  That was fine with Blair, though, since the place she really wanted to stop in at was the new bakery that had opened—a bakery owned by her and Cycl0n3’s old friend and former roommate, Emma Hatch.

After she went out on maternity leave to have her daughter, Emma chose not to go back to work at the diner, but to go into business for herself.  Cooking and baking were her passions, and her pastries and confections had put the diner on the map.  She was confident she could succeed.  She and Jared opened the bakery together, and it and the loans were in both their names.  They still weren’t married, due to the stormy nature of their personal relationship, but did live together with their baby daughter, Rashida.  Blair didn’t quite get how that worked, but Emma seemed happy with it, so that was what mattered.

“Oh, I forgot how good her cupcakes were,” Blair sighed happily as she bit into a sweet Love Day Strawberry Special.  “I’ve had so much sugar today, it should be illegal, but I don’t care!”  She giggled and licked a bit of frosting off of her finger.

Cycl0n3 sipped at one of the bakery’s coffee drinks.  “Emma has definitely found her niche in the world.  If she put guest wi-fi in this place, she’d have an endless stream of nerds fattening her wallet and filling her chairs every day.”

“Hah.  You offering to start the trend?”  Emma came over with a cup of coffee after putting a pie in the oven.  “Don’t worry.  I won’t barge in on your Love Day date long.  Just wanted to say hi and thanks for coming.  The cashier got your order right and everything?”

“She was fine,” Blair said.

“Good.  Glad to hear it.”

“So why aren’t you out on a hot date tonight?  Jared screw up again?”

“Are you kidding?  Love Day is big business.  Sweets for the sweet, and all that.  It’s a little late now, but you should’ve seen this place earlier.  Jared and I were here all day.  He came in at 4 this morning and left a few hours ago to get some sleep.  I took the later shift.”  She sipped her coffee.  “I’m just glad Connor was willing to watch Rashida, since finding a babysitter for so long was not going to be easy with how they’re booked on a holiday.”

“How is the baby?” asked Blair.  “I saw her picture on SimBook.  She’s adorable!”

Emma smiled proudly.  “Yeah.  Little squirt’s a cutie.  She looks just like her Dad.”

“Must look better on girls, then,” quipped Cycl0n3.

“Yeah, ‘cause you’re a real GQ model yourself,” Emma retorted in kind.  “Did you notice how Alfonso looks just like Parker, too?  No denying that one.  Tam’s been joking that yours is going to look just like Cycl0n3 to make it a trifecta.  I placed the opposite bet and said since Chris is already such a mini-Cycl0n3, this one has to be all you.”

“How much money you got riding on this?”

Emma laughed.  “Money?  Nah.  Goods and services.  I win, she treats me to a spa deep tissue massage to ease my aching back after working here at the bakery all day.  She wins, I owe her a free pastry and coffee every morning before work for the next month.”  She stood up.  “Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your romantic Love Day outing.  Before you leave, pick up a baker’s dozen cookies on the house to take with you.  I know Chris likes them.  Have a good night, you two.”

“That was really sweet of her,” Blair said after she left.

“Literally.”  Cycl0n3 ate the last of the cookie he’d ordered with his coffee.

As they got ready to leave, Blair felt the baby kick.  She was well into her third trimester now, so it was nothing new, but it still made her happy.  “Someone liked the cupcakes.”  She patted her belly.

“Mom’s giving you a sweet tooth, huh?”  Cycl0n3 put his hand on Blair’s stomach, and smiled when he felt their second child tap against his hand.  “I still can’t believe you won’t let the doctor spoiler us on whether it’s a boy or a girl.”

“Come on.  It’s fun being surprised this time.”

“You haven’t been stacking the deck sneaking apples or watermelons, have you?”

“No, silly.”

“Well, whatever it is… I hope Emma’s right in her little bet.  Sweet would suit one that looks like you.”

“Oh, Cycl0n3.”  She gave him a smooch.  “Chris looks like you in some ways, and he’s adorable.”

“Yes, but we’ve established you have odd taste,” Cycl0n3 laughed.  “Look who you married.”

“I like who I married.  That’s kind of why I married him.  He even took me out to a great concert and lots of yummy sweets on Love Day.  He’s a good father and a great husband.  What more could I ask for?”

“I don’t know, but I’m glad you did.”  He pulled her in close.  “Come here.”

Blair laughed happily as Cycl0n3 grabbed her, dipped her low, and kissed her passionately.  “Cycl0n3, careful!” she giggled.  “Don’t drop me.  I’m not graceful at all this pregnant.”

“Oh, come on.  I’m not that out of shape that I can’t romantically dip kiss my wife.”

Her face froze a moment later, when Cycl0n3 stopped moving, and his expression changed.

“Cycl0n3?  Are you all right?”

“I—I can’t move.”  He struggled to straighten.  “Plum!  My freakin’ back seized.”  He made a face as Blair carefully extracted herself, and put his hand gingerly on his lower back.

Blair put her arm around his shoulders and helped him straighten out.  “Come on.  Let’s get you walking and work it out.”

“I don’t believe this.  I know it gets sore sometimes, but am I seriously getting old man back problems?!  I’m not even that old!”

“Oh, how to put this delicately… you don’t get a lot of exercise, Cycl0n3.  Muscles are a very use it or lose it kind of thing.”  She guided him in a careful walk toward the door.  “Let’s just walk around a little.  It’ll help.”

“I’m not that inactive.  I get lots of exercise.  You think stakeouts are all sitting in the park eating donuts?”

“They’re probably a lot of sitting and standing around crouched, on top of sitting in front of a TV or computer all day,” Blair pointed out gently.  “Just being busy doesn’t mean you’re active.  This happened to my dad when he was your age, too, you know.  His doctor got on his case big time about doing stretches and getting off the couch.  He never listened, either, and he was always throwing his back out.”

“Yeah, well, he’s old as dirt and still gets around okay,” Cycl0n3 grumbled.

“I doubt that, but you don’t see him lifting and twirling Mom around on a regular basis, either, especially not when she’s so-pregnant-she’s-about-to-pop size.”

After some moving around, and a walk around the patio outside, Cycl0n3 started feeling better.  “See?  Exercise is good for you.  I know you hate it, but you really do need to do it more.  At least a little.  The older we get, the less forgiving our bodies are.”

“I’ll just take two aspirin and lie and say I’ll exercise in the morning.”

“Lying to your dear wife on Love Day?  Tsk-tsk.  For shame.”

“I’m not lying when I say I love her.  That’s what counts, right?”

“That’s half credit at best.”  She met his eyes with a serious look.  “I want you to take care of yourself.  I want you with me for a long time, in good health.”

“I’m fine, Blair.  I’ll take it easy and won’t do anything to strain it.”

“Maybe you could start coming to the gym with me.”

“There’s only one exercise I want to think about on Love Day, and the gym isn’t it,” he said with a wry look.

“Oh, you’re hopeless.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“You’re shamelessly trying to change the subject,” Blair laughed.

“You’re falling for it.  I can see it in your eyes.  My irresistible charm strikes again!  I’m full of it!”

“You’re full of it, all right.”  Blair giggled, and pulled him close.  “But I love you anyway.  Happy Love Day.”

“Happy Love Day,” Cycl0n3 whispered back, before their lips met in a kiss.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #208 on: January 11, 2018, 10:39:00 PM »
What a lovely update, Cheezey!
I was expecting two Love Day dates, but you gave us three--each so different from the other.

I'm torn between wanting to watch Patrick become a young adult but not wanting Susan/Boyd and Blair/Cycl0n3 to age.
Oh oh oh! I hope Emit will be making another appearance!

Haha, Simdiva chocolates! Nice one. :D

Offline karlissa

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #209 on: January 12, 2018, 06:12:41 PM »
I can imagine that while Cyclon3 going to the gym would be good for him, it would also be incredibly comedic. The next appearance of Emit seems like it'll be very interesting and I'm guessing that's foreshadowing that he's coming soon. I also would find it somewhat funny imagining Cyclon3 and Blair talking about Nancy, Geoffrey and Pauline.
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