Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 147977 times)

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 49
« Reply #210 on: January 19, 2018, 03:55:26 AM »
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

Thank you! It's going to be hard for me having Boyd, Susan, Blair, and Cycl0n3 get old and closer to Grim, too, despite the fun I'm having with their children.

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.

I hope you enjoy Cycl0n3's foray into fitness in this chapter. :D As for Emit, without getting into spoilers, I can say we haven't seen the last of him.



Chapter 49



“‘…and that’s when they first started to suspect it was not just a disappearance, but something far more sinister,’” Cycl0n3 read to Chris in a dramatic voice.  Although he was nearing the age where he’d be too old for bedtime stories, he was not quite there yet, and Cycl0n3 had fun narrating.  The novel was Murder in Pleasantview, a classic.

“How could they not suspect?  She’d been missing for days.”

“I know, but… patience,” Cycl0n3 told him.

“C’mon, Dad.  You’re a P.I.!  You’d have known something was up by now, too.  These people are dumb.”

“Oh, Chris.  Not everyone’s as smart as us,” Cycl0n3 laughed.  “That’s going to become clearer and clearer the older you get.  There are a lot of dummies out there.”

Their conversation was interrupted when they heard a cry from the other side of the house.



“Cycl0n3!  Ohhhh… Cycl0n3!”

Cycl0n3 left the book on the bed and ran to the bedroom.  “Blair?”

“The baby is coming,” Blair huffed with a pained expression.  “We’ve got to go.  Now.”

“But you’re not due for…”

“Tell that to the baby when you deliver it, then!”

Cycl0n3 grabbed the keys off the dresser and ran to the living room, where Chris was up out of bed, worried.  “Chris, I’ve got to take your mom to the hospital.  Baby’s coming.”  He paused as he considered whether to call a babysitter.  They had not used one in a while because Chris was old enough now that they were comfortable letting him be alone for a few hours after school when he and Blair were both working.  They’d never left him alone at night before, but he had school early the next day, so he needed his sleep.  “Do you want to come with us, or just go to bed?  You can stay if you promise to go to bed and keep the doors locked.”

“I’m tired.  I’ll go to bed.”

“All right.  Hold the fort, then.  Good night.”

“Be good, Chris.”  Blair put on her coat with some effort while Cycl0n3 got the car.  “Don’t answer the door for any strangers.”

“I know, Mom.”

“That’s my big man.”  Blair smiled through a contraction.  “We’ll see you soon… with your little brother or sister.”



Cycl0n3 realized too late that he’d grabbed Blair’s keys instead of his, but the patrol car was probably a better choice anyway.  Sirens and lights would keep other cars out of their way, and who would stop a cop car for speeding?

“Cycl0n3, you can’t drive that!” Blair protested.

“Sure I can.”

“It’s illegal!  I’m not allowed to let you drive my patrol car.”

“You’re in labor.  Nobody’s going to—”

“Just move.”  She shoved him over to the passenger side.

“Wait, you’re not going to drive?”

“We can go faster with the siren.”  She winced and took a deep breath.  “I’m not hurting too bad to drive… at least as far as the hospital.”

“Blair, I don’t think it’s safe for you to—”

“Move!”  She said it in not only “Mom” tone, but “Officer Blair” tone, and Cycl0n3 knew it would be futile to argue with that.  He slid over grudgingly.  “Fine, but if you need me to…”

“Strap in.  We’re flooring it.”  As soon as Blair had her seat belt on, she turned on the lights and took off for the hospital like a sim on a mission.  They made it there in record time, and fortunately, with no incident.  Blair’s years on the force had left her with excellent reflexes and driving skills that served her even in labor, although it was a risk Cycl0n3 thought she shouldn’t have taken.  They arrived at Sacred Spleen just in time.  As she went in, her contractions intensified to the point where she had trouble walking.



Blair’s labor was intense, but surprisingly short.  She was already mostly dilated by the time they admitted her, and she delivered a healthy baby boy within two hours.  They named him Travis, the name she and Cycl0n3 picked out for a boy.   Although her insurance would have covered an overnight stay if she’d wanted it, she declined since both she and Travis had a clean bill of health.  They headed home and got there before Chris’ morning alarm for school went off.

Blair was exhausted, so she went straight to bed, while Cycl0n3 snuggled baby Travis and put him to bed.  “Welcome to your humble abode.  I hope you find the facilities to your liking.  You have the ‘little brother’ suite, complete with crib and an assortment of new and semi-used toys.  You have an older brother who will undoubtedly pick on you as time goes on, but don’t worry, because as the younger one, with a +10 charisma advantage for cuteness, you’ll get away with more than we expect.”  He set the blanket on him, switched on the baby monitor, and turned off the light.  “Now I’m going to cast a sleep spell with at least a 2 hour duration.  I’m sure the universe’s random number generator will give me a natural 20 for it, because after being up all night, it would be too cruel to do otherwise.  Right?  Right.  Good night.”  He closed the door and went to bed.



Across town, Susan and Boyd got texts letting them know they were grandparents again.  “Oh, she had a boy!”  Susan set aside her pan of French toast to respond.

Boyd brought the baby picture that accompanied the text to full screen, and showed it to Patrick and Orion while Susan resumed cooking.  “They named him Travis.  Here’s the picture they took at the hospital.”

“Cool!  Another nephew,” said Patrick.

“This one I’m actually older than.”

“Don’t let all that big kid stuff go to your head, with two younger ones to boss around,” Patrick teased Orion, who gave him a cheeky look back.

“Oh, you mean like you didn’t?”

“You can both be role models, you know,” Susan pointed out wryly as she set the finished French toast on the counter.  “Now come and get your breakfast.”



Boyd and Susan didn’t have to be in the lab until 9, so after Patrick and Orion got on the bus, Susan cleaned up the kitchen while Boyd got Iris out of bed.

“You’re not the youngest anymore.  Did you know that?  You’ve got a little nephew to meet later.  We’re going to meet him tonight.  You ready for that?”

Iris cooed and giggled, and Boyd coaxed her.  She was still learning her words.  “Yes?  Can you say yes?”

“Yis,” Iris babbled.

“Pretty close.  We’ll keep working on it.”  Boyd straightened her bow, then took her downstairs.



Talking wasn’t the only work in progress for little Iris.  Although plantsims didn’t need the bathroom in the same way everyone else did, they did have some bodily quirks that required learning the basics of hygiene and toileting.  Boyd and Susan learned quickly that the more Iris grew, the more she, for lack of a better term, could shed petals and flowers at times.

After Susan bundled her in her coat and took her to the greenhouse for a “light” breakfast, the bright spring morning sun induced a mild floral breakout in their plantsim daughter.  It didn’t cause her any discomfort, and they knew it would become manageable as she got older, but it was a little messy at times, and made her thirsty.  Susan brought her to the bathroom to clean her up and give her some water in the tub to soak in.  She re-dressed her for indoors and put her in her walker.  Walking was a skill Iris picked up quickly.  She ran all around the computer and hobby room in her walker, mashing buttons and leaving little leaves in her wake.

“You have a good day, sweetie,” Susan told her as she and Boyd left her in the care of the babysitter.  “We’ve got to go to work now.”



Giving birth didn’t take too much out of Blair.  She slept for a few hours, but was up before Chris left for school.  She checked in on baby Travis, gave him a quick cuddle, and came out to see Chris off.  He was eating ice cream out of the carton.  “Ice cream for breakfast?  That is not a meal of champions, Number One.”

“Dad’s making waffles, and he puts ice cream on them.  So I’m just saving carbs by skipping the waffles.”

Blair tried not to laugh.  “Nice try, but let’s get something with actual nutrition before you go to school, okay?  At least a glass of milk.”

“This has dairy in it,” Chris replied with his mouth full.

“Mmm-hmm.  My little nutritionist.”

“I told him he could have it,” Cycl0n3 said from the stove.  “These probably won’t be finished before the bus comes.  It’s just one day.”

“Okay.  Just this once.  No harm, I guess.  But no making this a habit, mister.  Big brother has to be a role model now, remember.”  Blair sat next to him.  “Did you see Travis yet?”

“Yeah.  He’s so little.  Like Iris was when Grandma and Grandpa first brought her over.”  He finished his spoonful of ice cream.  “Except not green of course.”

“No,” laughed Blair.  “Not green.”

“Yeah, a regular old human baby.  Something new for the family these days,” Cycl0n3 quipped.

“Oh, hush.”



After Chris left for school, and Cycl0n3 finished his waffles, Blair sat and had a plate with him.  “So, now that Travis is born, I’ve got some toning workouts to do.”

“This soon?  That’s ambitious.”

“The best time to get back in shape is as soon as you can.  Use it or lose it, remember?”  She gave him a knowing smile.  “And since you’ve been having trouble with your back lately, you’re coming with me.”

Cycl0n3 almost dropped his fork.  He couldn’t have heard her right.  “I’m what now?”

“I already called the babysitter.  There’s no problem having someone watch Travis.  Come on, Cycl0n3.  You need to start taking care of yourself.  I know you hate exercise, but just try it.  Once.”



He groaned.  “I tried it plenty of times.  High school gym class.  It sucked.”

“That was a long time ago.”

“Yeah, and time hasn’t dulled the memory of its epic misery.  I’m not going to the gym, Blair.”

Blair sighed.  “I’m not asking you to train for a marathon.  Just do a little strength training and maybe fifteen minutes of cardio.  Just enough to get your blood pumping and strengthen your back a little.  We’ll do it together.”  She gave him an encouraging look.  “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything too hard, or anything I wouldn’t do myself.  It won’t be so bad.  I promise.”

Cycl0n3 gave her a dubious look.  “You’re vastly underestimating how much I despise, hate, and loathe working out.”

“What about when you bought the Woo Fit game?”

“They lied and said it did the impossible, and made exercise fun.  I mostly got it to appease you.”  He frowned.  “I think their marketing department should be fired.  It wasn’t fun.  That’s why the Woo Fit board is now a footrest under my desk.”

“Just try it once, okay?”

“Blair…”

“Once?”  She gave him a pleading look.  “For me?”

Cycl0n3 sulked.  “Oh, fine.  Once.  But that’s it.  And I’m not going to like it.”

“Fair enough.  Thank you.”  She smiled, and added, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.  Believe me, I wouldn’t make this sacrifice for just anyone.”



Resigned to his fate, Cycl0n3 grabbed an old t-shirt, sweatpants, and sneakers, and headed off to the gym with Blair.  True to his word, he hated it.  Blair tried to get him motivated, and showed him a few simple strength exercises on the weight machine.  They weren’t impossible, but in her well-meaning zeal, she overestimated how much weight he needed, and had to lower the setting.  It was still a challenge for Cycl0n3, whose lifting habits after Chris outgrew toddlerhood rarely amounted to more than his laptop bag and the occasional home electronics project.

“This… sucks… a… lot…” He enunciated each rep with a complaint.

“Come on, Cycl0n3.  You can do it.  Six more!”

“Rather… be… watching… TV…”

“Just two more,” Blair encouraged.

“Hate…. this!”

“There!  You did it!”  Blair patted him on the back.

“My hate fueled me, Sith Lord style.”

“Well, the good news is, you’re done.”

“Good.  I’m so ready to go home.”  He headed for the stairs.

“Wait!  I only meant with the strength training.  You still need to do cardio and cool down.”

“Aw, come on!  No!”

“Fifteen minutes.”

Cycl0n3 grimaced as if in actual pain.

“Ten, then.  Just ten.  No running.”

“I don’t wanna.”

“Not even fast.  Just a slow, easy walk.”

He knew Blair was not going to budge, and sighed.  “Fine.”



Reluctantly, Cycl0n3 got on the treadmill, or as he called it, the torturous footpath of pain.  Blair set it on low, and he gingerly stepped on.  At first, it wasn’t too bad.  It was just walking, like she promised.

“Feeling better?  Getting that blood circulating and your muscles nice and limber?”

“Nothing would feel better than getting it done.”

Blair was disappointed that he was still so miserable, but she appreciated that he’d tried.  “Okay.  Finish it out and I promise I won’t make you come back.”

“For that, I’ll double my pace for the last minute.”  He pushed his finger down on the up arrow.

“Wait.  Be careful.  That setting also ups the—”

The treadmill whirred and suddenly rose in both speed and incline.  Cycl0n3 could not keep up.  “Whoa.  Whoa!  Blair, get me off this crazy thing!”

She reached for the emergency stop, but it was too late.  Cycl0n3 tripped and fell in an ungraceful heap, and Blair bent over to help him up.

“Are you all right?”

“Don’t ever do this to me again.”  He looked at her with an utterly pitiful expression, and she put her arms around his shoulder.

“Come on.  Let’s hit the locker room.”

“I told you it’d still suck.”

“Yes, you told me so,” Blair conceded, and patted him on the back as they left.



Over at the lab, the Wainwrights had been making great progress on the LI-WX923 project.  Their newer, more stable formulation proved not only to have the same potency as the prototype, but looked as though it might be even better.  They would need more time and data for hard numbers, but it appeared that this version did not just halt the aging process, it actively reversed it.  Had they finally discovered the working version of the youth-restoring formula Emit said they would someday?  They hoped so.  Boyd stayed late typing up a preliminary report with his latest observations on the cow plants on study.

Since that was a one-sim job, Susan went to city hall and made the donation to the future planning fund that she and Boyd discussed on Love Day.  They thanked her for the generous contribution, and promised to send an updated pipeline portfolio as soon as it was available.  She left feeling proud, accomplished, and hopeful.  They were truly changing and shaping the future, just like Emit said they would, and like they’d dreamed of doing one day.



While their parents worked toward the future, Patrick and Orion came home after school as usual.  Patrick did his homework while Iris played in the sun on the patio, and when he finished, he brought her in and put her in the playpen.  The downstairs was quiet, and Patrick wondered where Orion went.  He found him in their parents’ home lab, using the chemistry table.

“Orion?  What are you doing?”

“Chemistry.”

“Yeah, I can see that.  What are you making?”  Patrick looked at the bottles and jars he had out.  He didn’t see anything that looked dangerous, but he wondered how often Orion played on the table or if their parents knew it.  Their father would have an absolute meltdown if he thought one of them was playing with something dangerous without proper knowledge or supervision.

Orion smirked.  “In science class they told us about how if you mix this stuff with this, it makes you have to pee.  So, I looked up if you could make a peeing potion.  And you can!  It’s easy, and we have the stuff here.  They keep a lot of chemicals in the cabinet.”

“I know, but,” Patrick frowned as something occurred to him.  “Wait.  Isn’t that locked?  You are allowed to mess around in here, right?  Mom and Dad don’t mind?”  He had never done much with the chemistry table himself when he was Orion’s age, aside from playing on it once or twice while his parents were in there working on projects.

“They told me I could.  Besides, they keep the key in the desk drawer.”

Patrick laughed.  “Okay, but… please don’t blow anything up.  They’ll kill us both.  I’m supposed to be keeping an eye on you.”



Buddy sauntered in at the tail end of their conversation.  “Uh oh.  Is Alien Boy going to blow up the mansion?”

“No, because I’m not a doofus like you,” Orion retorted.

Patrick frowned, assuming Orion’s remark was meant for him.  “Don’t call me stupid.”

“I wasn’t talking to you.  I was talking to Buddy.”

Patrick did a double take, and so did Buddy.  “Hold on.  Are you saying you heard him?”

“You can’t hear me, pointy-ears.  I’m Patrick’s friend.”

“I can so, and you’re really annoying.  You should shut up.”

Buddy pouted, but Patrick was beside himself with excitement.  No one had really believed him about Buddy before, and nobody had ever seen or heard him.  “You can see him, Orion?  Really?”

Orion looked over.  “No.  I can’t see him.  Just hear his big mouth when he talks sometimes.  He says a lot of rude stuff.  I don’t know why you like him.”

Buddy put his hands on his hips indignantly.  “He likes me because we’re best friends, twerp!”

“I still don’t know why.”



“C’mon, stop.”  Patrick held up a hand between them.  “This is important.  Orion, you can hear him?  How?  Nobody’s ever been able to before.”

“I don’t know.  I think it’s like when I kind of hear what other people think sometimes.  Like when Dad gets all freaked out, even if he doesn’t say it, I know it’s because he forgot to check the stove, or he thinks it’s too cold outside for Iris or something.  My alien, not really mom but you know, she said it’s because of my powers.”

“So it’s an alien thing.”

“More like a freak thing,” sneered Buddy.  “And I don’t care if you heard that.”

“And I don’t care what you think.  I’m ignoring you now,” Orion said to the empty space where Buddy stood, before turning back to Patrick.  “I think you should test my pee potion on him when I’m done.”

“I don’t think that’d work,” Patrick said with a laugh before becoming serious again.  “But I’m glad you believe me about Buddy.  Do you think you could tell Mom and Dad?  They think I’m crazy.”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.”  He paused.  “I guess I’ll let you finish playing Mad Pee Potion Scientist.  Just, like I said, don’t blow anything up.”

“Okay!”  Orion poured the contents of his test tube into a beaker.  He finished his potion shortly after, but he ended up having to shelf it before any testing.  Boyd and Susan came home, and gathered up everyone to go to Blair’s to meet the latest addition to the family.



Susan and Boyd doted as one might expect excited grandparents to over the new baby.  Travis enjoyed all the attention, although they noticed he was the most content being held and played with in his bedroom as opposed to out in the family room, where the boys were playing games.  “Aww, does all the noise and chaos out there get to you?”  Susan comforted him and placed him back in his crib.  “Your mommy was like that, too.”



Orion told Chris all about making the pee potion on the chemistry station, which Chris thought was hilarious.  “Are you gonna make someone drink it?  That would be so funny!”

“I don’t think anyone would drink it if they knew what it did.”

“You could tell them it was some kind of lemonade.”  They snickered together, and Chris added, “I bet it’d be funny to give it to Mom or Dad.  Of course, they’d ground me for, like, forever.  Especially if it worked!”

“You’d have to sneak it so you don’t get caught.”  Orion and Chris lowered their voices as they fed off of each other’s mischievous moods.

“Hey, I have one of those chemistry sets.  I heard one of the older kids talking about how they put hair dye in the shower and dyed their mom’s hair blue,” Chris whispered.  “I thought about trying it.  I don’t have the right stuff to make blue, though.  I’d have to make it purple or pink or red.”

“Purple!  Do purple.”  He paused.  “Well, not if it’s permanent.  That’d be kind of mean.”

“Oh no, it washes out.  It’s like the stuff for Spooky Day costumes.”  Chris leaned in to conspire with Orion.  “We should do it!  It’d be funny.  I’ll go mix the dye on the chemistry table, and you check out the shower and make sure the coast is clear.”



While Chris headed out to the garage where his chemistry set was kept, Orion looked in the bathroom.  From how Chris described it, it seemed pretty straightforward, but he had another idea that he wanted to look up online before they tried it.  Since the adults were busy either talking or playing with the baby, and Patrick was playing a video game, he went over to Cycl0n3’s computer to look it up.

It was easy to find what he needed, but a link off of another link showed him another funny prank – something called “Scary Computer.”  It was a free joke program that flashed a big skeleton and evil laugh at the next person who started it up.  Orion pictured Blair or Cycl0n3 jumping a few feet in the air and snickered at the thought.  That would be two pranks!  He couldn’t wait to tell Chris.



He didn’t get the chance.  Cycl0n3 had a sixth sense about his beloved laptop, and came by just as Orion was mid-install.  “Hey!  What are you doing?”

“Uh, nothing,” Orion said too quickly, in a way that utterly failed to hide his guilt.

“Yeah, right.”  He peered at the screen.  “‘Prankmasters.com’?  Oh, bad move, Chief Engineer.  Hands off that laptop, now.”  Cycl0n3’s tone went from irked to outright irritated.  “You don’t screw with someone’s computer.”

Boyd heard the raised voices and came out with baby Travis.  “What’s going on?”

“It was just a joke, Dad!”

“Orion thought it’d be funny to put a prank program on my laptop.”

“It wasn’t a virus or anything bad,” Orion protested.  “It was just funny.  A scary skeleton.”



Boyd was even less amused than Cycl0n3.  Though he could appreciate the desire to pull one over on Cycl0n3, tinkering with his computer was going too far.  “It’s not funny!  You had no right to put things on Cycl0n3’s computer, even if you think it’s a gag.”

“It said it was Alienware.  I didn’t think he’d mind,” Orion replied sulkily.

Boyd was in no mood for sass.  “That’s enough of that.  Not one more word.”  He held up his hand sternly.  “Cycl0n3 was nice enough to let you use it and go online, and you’re a guest here at their house.  You don’t disrespect them by messing with their things.  It’s rude, and you owe both him and your sister an apology.  Furthermore, you shouldn’t be downloading strange programs from sites full of popups on your own computer, let alone anyone else’s.  That’s how you get viruses.”

“The anti-virus didn’t come up.  It was safe.”

“That’s still not the point.  Now go apologize, and don’t pull a stunt like that again, or you’ll be in big trouble!  Do you understand?”

Orion nodded.  “Yes.”  He went over to Cycl0n3 and Blair, who joined his side.  “I’m sorry, Cycl0n3.  I’m sorry, Blair.  I won’t do it again.  I really didn’t mean to do anything that might break it.”

“All right, Chief Engineer.  Thank you,” Blair said.

Cycl0n3 picked up his computer.  “Okay.  I’ll let it go this time.  But I think we’ll keep the computer shut down the rest of this visit.”  He took it to his room.



Although it was no fun for Orion, he had created the perfect distraction for Chris to sneak in and rig up the shower dye undetected.  Chris felt a bit bad for his little uncle getting read the riot act, but he hoped the laughs they’d have when the shower prank worked would make up for it.



Now that the shower trap was set, and also because Orion didn’t want to get in any more trouble, he and Chris joined the others in the family room.  Chris played a video game with Patrick and Boyd, while Orion played with their magic 8-ball.  Will our trap work? Orion asked silently as he shook it.  My sources say yes, was the answer.

Susan noticed Cycl0n3 limping a little as he walked past.  “Did you hurt yourself?”

“No.  Your daughter forced me to go the gym with her today.  What a load of fun that was.”  He rolled his eyes.

Patrick laughed.  “Hah!  Sucker.”

“It’s good for him.  He needs more exercise,” Blair called over from the baby’s room.  “He hurt his back the other day.”

“No offense, but it looks like you hurt more trying to work it out.”  Susan gave him a look that was half amusement, half pity.

Cycl0n3 flopped in a chair.  “None taken.  It did.”  He looked over at Patrick.  “As for you, keep laughing.  One day, you’ll have a wife who shows her love by making you torture yourself, too.”

“Nah.  My girlfriend hates the gym as much as I do.”

Boyd shrugged.  “My wife told me she’d never make me do something she wouldn’t.  Luckily, she also hates the gym.  Right, honey?”

“Over that nonsense?  Give me a diet any day.”

Blair laughed as she came out of the baby’s room.  “You’re all hopeless.  At least you youngest ones still have a chance.”  She leaned over Iris, who was in Travis’ baby swing.  “Let’s hope you’ll break the family trend and be an active little sprout.  Like the Chief Engineer, who I heard is doing well in his after-school ballet class.”

“Right.  They say his moves are out of this world,” giggled Chris.



Boyd and Susan went in to see Travis one last time before heading home for the night.  “Thanks for having us over, Blair.”  Susan gave her a hug.  “Travis is such a sweet baby.  He reminds me a lot of you.  Not that Chris doesn’t, of course, but I think Travis even looks like you.”

“He kind of does,” Blair said with a proud smile.  “But you never know.  It’s hard to tell when they’re this little, just how they’ll grow and change.”

“Take care, and make sure you get enough sleep,” Boyd told Blair as they headed out.  “And Chris, keep up the good work.  I heard you got all A’s.  Your Grandma and I are proud of you.”

“Thanks, Grandpa.  Good night!”

“‘night everyone,” said Patrick.

Orion waved as he stepped out the door.  “Good night.  Oh, and Chris, let me know how that thing goes at school tomorrow.”

Chris grinned back at his little uncle.  “Oh, yeah!  I will!”

“What thing?” asked Blair.

“Just something we were talking about at school.  Good night, Mom.”  Chris went to his room.



Little did Blair or Cycl0n3 know what that “something” was… until Cycl0n3 took his nighttime shower, anyway.

The hot water left him feeling nice and relaxed, and he looked forward to drying off and climbing into bed when he noticed a curious tint to the water.  Frowning, Cycl0n3 got out of the shower and wiped the steam off the mirror.

The stream of words that Blair and Chris heard through the closed bathroom door was even more colorful than his hair.

In his room, Chris snickered.  Operation Shower Dye was officially a success.

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 50
« Reply #211 on: January 26, 2018, 03:05:53 AM »
Chapter 50



It was Saturday morning, and the Wainwrights relaxed at home before their later plans.  It was Chris’ birthday, and the family planned a big party at the park for him later in the day.  For Patrick, there was also the school dance he was going to with Maria Wolff that night.  He felt inspired, but too keyed up to paint, so he lost himself in music instead.  He practiced guitar in the rec room.

Orion was full of energy, and hopped on the asteroid hopscotch mat.  “Hey, Patrick?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you know what’s in the secret room in the basement?”

Patrick paused mid-strum.  “What?”

“The secret room.  Well, maybe it’s not a secret, but you know, the locked room.  What’s in it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.  There’s nothing down there but nectar racks, and Mom and Dad’s old junk.”

“No, not in the basement.  I mean the room behind the basement.”

Patrick was puzzled.  “You mean in that closet?  I don’t know.  Probably just more stuff.  Like Dad’s old computer parts or something.”

Orion stopped hopping.  “Nuh-uh.  That’s not a closet.  It’s a room.”

“Are you sure?”  Patrick had never played in or explored the basement much.  When he thought about it, he never remembered opening that door.  He’d always just assumed it was a closet.

“Yeah.  C’mon.  I’ll show you.”



Patrick put down his guitar and followed Orion down the spiral stairs to the basement.  Although their mansion was large, the basement was comparatively small.  Aside from the nectar racks, it was used for storage.  There was a collection of odds, ends, and old things, some of which had never been taken out of the boxes they’d been in back at the Maywood Lane house, when it had been stored in their carport garage.  Patrick recognized some old toys that were not even his, but were once Blair’s, as well as ancient computer parts that must have been his parents’ when they were young.  He wrinkled his nose at the dust.  “Told you.  Nothing down here but nectar and junk.”

“Then what’s behind the door?  Why would they lock a closet?”

Patrick shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Maybe it’s valuable stuff or something they don’t want getting knocked over or broken out here.”  He tried the door.  “But you’re right.  It’s locked.”  He frowned as he heard a hum.  Was it just ventilation, or was Orion right?  Was there a room back there?  “I wonder what’s in there.”

“Want to find out?”

Patrick raised an eyebrow.  “Do you have the key?”

Orion put his hand on the door handle, and stared intently at the mechanism.  “Don’t need it.”  There was a clicking noise, and Orion turned the handle.

“Oh, my Watcher!  You have alien lock-picking powers?  I knew you could move stuff, but wow.  Do Mom and Dad know that?”

“They know I can move things, like you and Chris and Blair and Cycl0n3 do.”

“Ha!  I’ll take that as a no.  But that’s okay.  I probably wouldn’t have said anything, either.”



They opened the door, and were astonished to discover that not only was it not a closet and indeed a room, but it was a much larger room than either anticipated.  A room full of all sorts of unexpected things.

“What the… holy llama!  What the plum is this stuff?”

Orion was equally surprised, and curious.  “I don’t know.  Are those potions?”  He went over to a shelf full of differently colored liquid-filled jars and bottles, while Patrick examined the setup next to it.

“Is this a spell book?  It looks like something you’d find in the Goths’ attic.”  Patrick tapped the metal cauldron of the alchemy station with his knee while peering at the pages of the book on the altar.  Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Orion handling a glowing pink bottle.  “Orion!  Don’t mess with that.  We don’t know what it is.  If they locked this room, that stuff is probably weird and dangerous.  The Watcher only knows what they experiment on at work, and if they lock it away down here… it might be, I don’t know, crazy mutating acid or something.”

Orion wasn’t afraid, but he put it back anyway.  “Okay.”  He darted across the room to the bot building station.  “What do you think this thing is?”

Patrick joined him and looked at it up close.  “I’ve got no clue.  Some kind of robotics machine maybe?”



“Whoa!  Patrick!  Look at this.”  Orion’s eyes grew wide behind his sunglasses as he spotted the time portal.  It was not active, but it was on in idling mode, ready to receive any signal that Emit might send to activate it.  Patrick realized that was the hum he’d heard in the basement by the door, while Orion leaned past the posts to get a closer look at the center of it.  “I wonder what it does.”

“I don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Think it’s something the aliens made?”  Orion was fascinated.

“Maybe.  It looks futuristic or something.”  Patrick looked at Orion.  “Do you feel anything, like your intuition or if you could use it?  Like with your space rocks?”

“No.”  He put his hand on one of the portal arms and stared at the glowing part.  “How do you think it works?”

“I don’t know, but did you see there’s another door over here?  Think it’s another room?  Or is this one is a closet?”  Patrick tried the handle.  “Locked.”

“Let me try.”  Orion went to the door and concentrated on the lock, but that time, he couldn’t focus enough to open it.  “I can’t get it.  It’s making me dizzy.”

“You better stop, then.  Come on.”  Patrick took his hand.

“Where are we going?”

“To ask Mom and Dad what this stuff is, and why they’re hiding secret weird mad scientist stuff in the basement.”

Orion didn’t expect that answer, but he didn’t argue.  He followed Patrick upstairs to the home lab, where their parents were tinkering that morning.  The lab they knew about, that wasn’t a secret hidden room in the basement.



They found Susan with assorted bottles out on the chemistry table, making notes, and Boyd running some experiment on the science station.

“Mom, Dad?  Can we talk to you a minute?”

“Sure.”  Susan set her clipboard down, while Boyd double-checked the readout one last time before giving them his full attention.

“What’s going on?”

“The secret room in the basement,” Orion said.

“Why is there a mad scientist lab down there that you never told us about?” Patrick asked.  “We were just in there and—”



“You were in there?”  Boyd gave him a sharp look, not angry, but distinctly agitated, while Susan drew a sharp breath.

“Did you touch anything?”

“No,” Patrick answered his mother.  “But what is that stuff?  There are a lot of weird things in there.”

“Yes.  That’s why we keep it locked,” said Boyd. “What were you doing down there?”

“We just wondered what was behind the door.”

“We’d never been in there,” added Orion.

Susan eyed them with disapproval.  “You could’ve asked.”

“I’ll assume we forgot to lock it, and that you didn’t just break in.  Otherwise, we’d have a serious issue to discuss.”  Boyd’s voice took on a stern edge.  “That’s a room we built to keep some of our more… delicate and unconventional research.  Things that nobody but experienced, trained scientists should be screwing around with.  That’s why that room is locked.”



“You don’t trust us?” asked Patrick.

“If you went in there without even asking us about it, it proves our point on why it needs to be locked,” Susan pointed out.  “There are things that would be… complicated to explain.  Not necessarily to you, but certainly to maid staff or babysitters that might poke around in there if it was out in the open.”

Orion frowned.  “But you don’t lock this room.”

“No, but we tell the babysitters and maids to stay out of it.”  Boyd sighed.  “And half of them don’t listen.  One unplugged the science station when we had it running, to vacuum around it.  That only screwed up a minor project.  Doing that with certain things downstairs, things getting unplugged or broken… it could be much worse.”

“You mean those bottles really do have something like mutating acid?” asked Orion.



Boyd and Susan exchanged a look.  Some of the alchemy potions they’d acquired for research hit closer to that mark than they wanted to admit, although they didn’t want to scare or encourage their boys into even more curious exploration.  “There’s stuff with potentially dangerous side effects, yes.”

“Like what?  You know, back when you told us and Blair about where Orion really came from, you promised not to keep things from us anymore.”

“I know,” said Susan.

“But this isn’t the same thing,” said Boyd.  “We’re not covering anything up.  Not really.  We’re just keeping things away from prying eyes.”

“If you really want to know what’s down there, we’ll answer your questions, but you have to promise us two things.  First, that you listen to us now, and do as we say.  From here on out, no sneaking in there unsupervised, and no messing around with anything in there, for any reason, behind our backs.”

“Any reason at all,” emphasized Boyd.

“And second, you don’t tell anyone about it.  No one, not a soul, without our direct expressed permission.  As far as anyone else is concerned, that is a closet.  Got it?”

Patrick nodded.  “All right.”

“I promise,” said Orion.

“We’ll hold you to that,” Boyd warned.  “We’re very serious on this.  The same level of serious as we are about Orion’s alien secret.  You understand?”

Both boys nodded.

“Good.  That ‘mad scientist lab,’ as you called it, is where we keep our private research,” Susan told them.  “Things we don’t necessarily want to work on at the lab, personal things, separate from the corporate funded stuff.  There’s some very advanced technology down there.”

“Things that don’t, or shouldn’t, even really exist in this world at present,” added Boyd.  “That’s why it can’t be out for just anyone to see.”

“Like alien stuff?  Like me?” asked Orion.

“Kind of.  There are things we got from,” Boyd considered the right phrasing, “unconventional sources.”

“Like the creepy altar?” asked Patrick.  “Tell me you’re not secretly witches in a coven or something?”

That amused Susan.  “No.  We’re not witches.  Alchemy’s a curiosity for your father.  That’s why we have those potions.  He’s researching them.”

“What are the other machines?”



Boyd and Susan exchanged another look.  “It would take a lot of time to explain it all in detail, but for now, suffice it to say advanced technology, robotics, and portal tech.”

“Portal tech?  You mean dimensional gateways and stuff like that?”  Patrick was incredulous, while Orion was amazed.

“Wow!”

“Somewhat along those lines, yes,” admitted Susan.  “But it’s not something we can always access from our end, and we really can’t discuss that in detail with you, not without breaking a confidentiality promise we made to the other parties involved.”

“The unconventional sources,” Patrick guessed.

“Yes.”

“Do you think you’ll ever be able to tell us?” asked Orion.

“Someday,” Boyd assured them.  “Not yet, but we will when we can.”

“For now, we’ll give you a tour and tell you what we can,” Susan offered.  “After that, if you have questions, ask us.  We promised not to keep things from you, but now you’ve promised to stay out of there without our supervision.  That will extend to Iris when she’s old enough, too.”

“That’s fine,” said Patrick.

Orion echoed his agreement.  “Okay.”



With that understood, Boyd and Susan took Patrick and Orion down to the basement lab.  They showed them the alchemy station and explained what some of the potions were, and what they allegedly did.  Orion thought they were cool, and asked a lot of questions, while Patrick took another look at the book on the altar.

“Flask of bees?  Too bad I didn’t have that when Julius Langerak decided to be a huge llama and pick a fight with me.”

“See, getting ideas like pouring bee potions down other kids’ pants is why we discourage teenagers from poking around in here,” quipped Susan.

Buddy sauntered in.  “I don’t know.  It sounded like a good idea to me!”

Patrick just snickered.



They showed them the bot building station and the time portal next.  Although they couldn’t say much beyond answering very general questions, Boyd did show them some nanite designs.  “That’s so cool!”  Orion watched his father interact with the screen, and traced a few commands with him.  “I want to learn this someday.”

Boyd enjoyed his enthusiasm.  “Keep studying.  If you want to learn it, I’ll teach you, when you’re old enough.”

Patrick was awed by the futuristic technology.  “I can’t believe you have all this stuff down here.  You’ve had it ever since we moved here?”

“Some of it, yes.  Some came later.”  Susan told him how the portal had actually first appeared at their old home, when he was still a toddler.  “I look forward to the day when we can tell you the whole story.”

“Me too.”  Patrick looked at the other locked door.  “So, what’s in there?”

“Storage, and a couple of stasis pods.  We have those at the lab, too.”

“Tell me you don’t have anyone frozen back there…”

“No, there are no secret frozen bodies in the basement.  We’re not that eccentric.”

Susan unlocked the door and showed him.  “See?  Nothing too nefarious or weird.”

Patrick saw it was just like his mother had said.  “Yeah.  Nothing weird.  Just alchemy and portals and potions, and all sorts of other technology and alien stuff.”

Buddy shrugged in a dramatic gesture.  “And they still won’t believe you about me.  Go figure!”

Although Buddy found it amusing, it stuck with Patrick.  Right.  Accept anything weird or unreal, unless it’s something they can’t see themselves.  Then it’s just crazy.

Boyd finished demonstrating the program on the bot builder and shut it down.  “That’s about all we’ve got time for, since we’ve got to get ready for Chris’ party.  Is your curiosity satisfied for now?”

The boys nodded.  “Yeah!  It was cool!” said Orion.

“All right, then,” said Susan.  “Let’s head up.”



While the Wainwright boys learned about their parents’ secret lab basement, Cycl0n3 shared a juicy tidbit with their older sister.  “Blair!  Check this out.  This is awesome!  One of my cases made the papers!”  Cycl0n3 waved a copy of The Setting Sun, a local tabloid, in front of her.  He’d picked it up at the grocery store while getting the cake for Chris’ party.  Nancy Landgraab had taken the evidence he’d gathered against her cheating husband straight to a divorce lawyer, and now the case had gone to court.  Naturally, the paparazzi were having a field day with such a high-profile divorce scandal.

Landgraab Matriarch Sues for Divorce – Husband of 30 Years Caught with Local Rocker!”  Blair read the headline aloud.  “Wow.  That was your case?”

“Yup.  I’m still bound by a confidentiality agreement, technically, but anything in the tabloid rags?  That’s no secret now, so I can talk about that without breaking the rules.”

Blair took it and read.  After catching soon-to-be ex-husband Dr. Geoffrey Landgraab in an affair with musician Pauline Wan, corporate mogul Nancy Landgraab sued for divorce, seeking to cut him off from as much of the family fortune as possible. “I’ll see him eat dirt before I pay him a single simoleon of alimony,” she was reported saying.  Dr. Landgraab declined to comment on his marital issues or his relationship with Ms. Wan.  The Landgraabs’ older son, Malcolm, a ballot counter at City Hall, had no comment other than to say he was dismayed by the turn of events.  “I love my family and hate seeing them at each other’s throats.”  Their youngest child, 11-year-old Bianca, was unavailable for comment. Blair frowned.  What kind of bottom feeding reporter chased down a child for a tabloid story like that?  She read on.  The alleged mistress, Pauline Wan, also declined an interview, but did comment that she did not consider herself a homewrecker.  “A happily married man doesn’t look elsewhere.”

“What a mess.  I take it you caught him cheating?”

“Sad part is, it wasn’t what she hired me for.  But it turned into a case once I stumbled on it.”  Cycl0n3 set the paper down.  “On the upside, she should have no trouble proving it and winning.  I can say this much.  I wouldn’t want to be his lawyer.”

“Pauline’s in Stiles’ band.  I wonder if that’ll affect them.”

“The way people eat up a scandal?  It’ll probably drive ticket sales.  Or at least give Stiles some musical inspiration to write about other than, ‘alone again, with another crazy ex on my list.’”

“Poor Stiles.  I really hope his luck turns around someday.”



Chris came out of his room.  “Hey, birthday boy.  Ready to officially enter your teen years and drive us crazy?”

“Yup!”  He grinned.

“I’m so proud of you.”  Blair hugged him.  “It seems like just yesterday you were a little baby.”

“Aw, mom.  You got a little baby to fuss over.  He’s in the other room.”

“You’ll always be my little baby, so I’m still allowed to fuss over you.  But I promise not to embarrass you in front of your friends at your party later.”

“Tom and Guillermo’s parents both confirmed they’ll be there,” Cycl0n3 told him.  “And obviously, Orion and Patrick, for a little while.”

“Mom said The Captain’s got a dance to go to tonight, so he can’t stay the whole time, but he’ll be there long enough to wish you happy birthday.”

“Oh, yeah.  He’s going with Tad’s sister.”  Chris rolled his eyes.  “She’s kind of full of it sometimes.  She gets on his nerves, too.  I wish he could go to the party.”  Chris and Tad Wolff were best friends, and had the same birthday.  He’d hoped they could have a double party, but Tad’s father had insisted on taking him out for the afternoon instead.  Although Tad liked the idea of having a party with Chris, it was rare that Thornton did anything with his children.  When he did, though, he tended to get them cool, expensive gifts, so Chris couldn’t blame Tad for not objecting.



Their doorbell rang, and to Chris’ delight, Tad was there with his mother.  “I hope you don’t mind the surprise visit,” Morgana said to Blair and Cycl0n3.  “Since we’re missing Chris’ party, we wanted to bring his gift by and wish him a happy birthday.”

“Yeah!  Happy birthday to us!”  Tad handed Chris a wrapped package.  “This is for you.”

“Wow, cool!  Thanks!  Happy birthday!”  Chris was excited.  “Oh, hold on.  I’ll go get your present.  It’s in my room.”



Chris gave Tad his present, and Tad grinned from ear to ear.  “Thanks!  Let’s open them.  Can we, Mom?”

“Yeah, can we?” asked Chris.

“It’s your birthday.  Go for it,” Cycl0n3 said.

“Fine with me,” said Morgana.

“Yay!”  The boys tore open their boxes, excited.  Tad had given Chris a snow cone machine.  Chris always liked the sweet treats, and this was not a child’s toy version, but a grown-up countertop one that could be used in any kitchen.  “Wow, cool!  Thank you!”

“I know who’s serving dessert at our parties now,” Blair said with a grin.

Tad’s gift was a new gnubb set.  The boys played gnubb often at recess, and it was Tad’s favorite outdoor game.  “Gnubb!  Awesome!  Thanks!  Now we can play at my house the next time you come over.”

“Sure!”

Morgana put her hand on Tad’s shoulder.  “Sorry to cut this short, but your father will be over to pick you up in less than an hour.  We’ve got to go now.”  She smiled at Chris.  “Happy birthday, Chris.”

“Thank you.”  He waved as Tad left.  “Happy birthday!”

“You too!”



The family rented the park to throw Chris’ teen birthday party.  It was a beautiful day at the end of spring, and the weather was perfect for the occasion.  Blair and Cycl0n3 were proud of their older son.  Boyd and Susan were both excited for their first grandson reaching his teen years, and at the same time, feeling a little wistful and old because of it.



Susan pushed baby Travis around in the stroller while Chris enjoyed his cake.  Boyd sat with him.  “Patrick had to leave, but he said he hoped your birthday was ‘epic.’”  He finished with air quotes for effect.

Chris laughed.  “Thanks, Grandpa.  It’s been pretty cool.”

“So, between you, me, and possibly Grandma and Travis, who won’t tell… what’s this I hear about dying your dad’s hair purple?”  Boyd smirked.  “I see he got it out, but… your mother had a very interesting story about it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Chris grinned.

“Uh-huh.  I’m sure you don’t.”  Boyd ate a bite of frosting.



After cake, Chris asked his parents something that had been on his mind.  “You know how you asked me what I wanted for my birthday?”

“I take it you saw there’s no box in those presents big enough to hold a car, and you’re reminding us that was something on your list?” Cycl0n3 teased.

“No.  I know you’re not getting me a car yet.”

“We’ll get you one when the time comes, but I want you to take a responsible driving course first,” said Blair.  “We talked about that.”

“Yeah, I know.  I was thinking about something else.  I want to get a cat.  You said I could have a pet when I was old enough to take care of it.  Well, I am now.”

“A cat?  A cute furry tornado of claws and destruction?  You sure you want that?” laughed Cycl0n3.

“A tornado shouldn’t be a problem for someone named Cycl0n3,” Chris quipped back.

“He’s got you there.”  Blair giggled, then turned to Chris on a more serious note.  “You know a cat would be a lot of responsibility.  A pet is a commitment.  It needs its owner its whole life.”

“It’d be on you to feed it, clean up after it, and take care of it,” Cycl0n3 continued.

“I know.  I don’t mind.  I’ll do it.  Please, can I get one?”

Blair and Cycl0n3 looked at one another, and came to the same decision.  Chris was usually responsible, so they believed he was sincere.  “All right.  But you should get it from a shelter, not a store.  There are lots of kitties that need homes.”

“That’s fine!  I don’t care where it comes from.  I just want one.  Can we go tomorrow?”

“Sure,” Cycl0n3 agreed.  “We’ll stop at the pet store and get some stuff for it afterward.  I don’t want it confusing my laptop for a scratching post or my computer chair for a litter box.”



“This has nothing to do with a cat, but we hope you like it anyway.”  Boyd gave Chris the gift from him and Susan.  “You should be able to look up plenty of stuff about them on it, though.”

“Really?”  Chris opened the box, which had a new Multi-Tab 6000 inside.  “Wow!  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!”

“You’re welcome,” Susan replied.  “We hope you enjoy it.  It’s the latest model, and we got you a high end protective case for it, too.  It should last through just about anything.”  Although they loved Chris, he was the least graceful member of the family, and they would have hated to see him break it by accident.

“Except maybe a cat peeing on it, so don’t let your new feline friend put it through that test,” Boyd said wryly.

“I won’t.  If that happened, I’d be **ed!”

“Chris!”  Blair tsk-ed him, although she and her parents were more amused than offended.



After he opened his presents, Chris and the other kids at the party went skating on the roller rink.  His lack of grace was even more apparent on wheels, but he had fun anyway.

“Uh… watch out!”  He stumbled and nearly knocked Guillermo French and Tom Sekemoto over, but fortunately, a three-sim pileup was avoided.



Blair and Cycl0n3 chatted as the party wound down.  “We’ve got a teenager now.  Can you believe it?  Think we’re ready to handle it?”

Cycl0n3 chuckled.  “You’re a cop that handles thugs and criminals every day, and you’re worried about a teenager?”

“I don’t know what to expect!  There are all these parenting horror stories, and I don’t think my own experience was typical.  You knew me then.  I was a goody-goody.  I was a pretty boring teenager, as far as that goes.  So were you, for that matter.  We never got in trouble.”

“You were good.  I was… not too bad.  A little sneakier than you, though.”

“Oh, yeah.  You wild man.  You cut gym class so you could mess around in the computer lab or AV room.  Face it, we were both pretty well-behaved nerds.  You more in that computer geek kind of way than my hide from people reading trashy romance novels kind of way, but still.”



“Oh, I remember one or two occasions we got into a little… teenagery stuff.”  Cycl0n3 smirked.  “Remember that time we were in your room, your mom was out at the grocery store and your dad was outside mowing the lawn, and we were fooling around, and got so into it suddenly we didn’t notice we didn’t hear the lawn mower anymore and—”

Blair turned red, despite it being many years ago.  “Oh, I almost died of embarrassment!  He nearly walked in on us.  Because of that stupid ‘leave the door open when your boyfriend is over’ rule.”  She frowned.  “I wonder if Patrick has to abide by that.  He’s got a girlfriend now.  I bet he doesn’t.”

“To be fair, their house is so big, you wouldn’t notice anyway.  Especially if you’re on another floor.”

“Still.  Not fair.”  Blair folded her arms in mock protest.  She looked over at Chris, skating with his friends.  “But we’re probably worrying too much.  Chris is a good kid.  I don’t think he’ll give us too much trouble.”

“Says the one who didn’t get an unwanted shower dye job,” quipped Cycl0n3.

“It was a childish prank, but come on.  Like you wouldn’t have ever done such a thing?”

“An angel like me?”

Blair almost doubled over.  “Right.”

“Okay, yeah.”  He laughed.  “I can’t say that with a straight face, either.  Everyone says how much Chris takes after me.  Plum.  Well, we can handle it.”

She kissed him on the cheek.  “I think so.”



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Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #212 on: January 29, 2018, 04:58:18 AM »
I loved Chris's excuse for eating out of the ice cream carton, just "skipping carbs." Lol.
Patrick's been more of an artsy-type so far so I enjoyed Boyd's pleasure at his son's interest in future technology.

Learning about the Wolff family from the perspective of both daughter and son was also interesting.
My comments are not in any kind of order now, but those reflecting shades of Orion conceal the gaze of a troublemaker!
Rather enjoyed Orion telling Buddy off. Hahaha.

This is such a great story, Cheezey!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 51
« Reply #213 on: February 08, 2018, 02:27:53 AM »
I loved Chris's excuse for eating out of the ice cream carton, just "skipping carbs." Lol.
Patrick's been more of an artsy-type so far so I enjoyed Boyd's pleasure at his son's interest in future technology.

Glad you got a kick out of that! 

Yup, much like with Blair, Patrick didn't turn out to be the type to follow in either of his parents' footsteps, despite having a few things in common with them. I imagine that's partly because he's just naturally more of an artsy/creative type than either Boyd or Susan, and partly because their focus shifted so strongly to caring for Orion and then Iris while he was still younger. That's not to say they don't care (they do) but Patrick was easily entertained with his art projects or the TV (he is a couch potato like them), and they already had the established parenting pattern of "let the kids do their own thing while we do ours, unless they need us" with Blair, so that carried on with Patrick.

Learning about the Wolff family from the perspective of both daughter and son was also interesting.
My comments are not in any kind of order now, but those reflecting shades of Orion conceal the gaze of a troublemaker!
Rather enjoyed Orion telling Buddy off. Hahaha.

That rebellious trait is a lot of fun. :D It makes him roll a lot of wishes for pranking and I'd never played a rebellious sim before him. If he's successful, he not only gets the moodlet for the successful prank but a bonus one with flavor text talking about "sticking it to the man" or something similar. Quite amusing.

As for the Wolffs, they become fairly recurring characters from here on out. While Patrick deliberately romanced Maria (their common traits make them quite compatible, and they got attraction as soon as they met/interacted) I didn't expect SP to push Chris and Tad's interactions so heavily, so that was a nice surprise. I've always liked the Wolff family anyway. Thornton fails at the dad thing, but I don't see him as an inherently bad guy. Just someone with issues. And Morgana is a sweetie. Story progression got a bit kinder to her in this save in her late adult years, at least, after giving her a fairly raw deal early on.

This is such a great story, Cheezey!

Thank you! :)



Chapter 51



While Chris celebrated his teenage birthday with the family at the park, Patrick left after cake to go home and get ready for the school dance.  It was a formal affair, so he had to dress up.  He knew before even seeing her that Maria would look amazing, and he did not want to let her down by not looking his best.  He checked himself over in the mirror one last time.

“Getting ready for your hot date?” Buddy asked from the door.

“Yup.”  Patrick straightened his bow tie.

“Hope the dance isn’t as stuffy as those clothes.  It’d suck if it was boring.”

“I won’t be bored.”  Patrick smiled happily.  “I’m never bored with her.”

“Wow.  You’ve got it bad.”

“I don’t think it’s bad.”

Buddy let out a dubious snicker and leaned against the door frame.  “So, think you’ll get lucky tonight?  After all that dressed up dancing and romance?  You even got her flowers, didn’t you?”

Patrick’s cheeks flushed a bit.  “You’re supposed to buy the girl flowers for a dance like this.  It’s what you do.”

“And I’m sure she’ll loooove them.”  Buddy giggled.  “I’m just saying, you said Julius said something about how far she goes on the second date.”

“He was being a giant llama, talking crap to make her mad because she dumped him.”

“Yeah, but she must’ve done something with him.  They were dating.”

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Patrick retorted, in a way that implied he protested too much.

“Hey, even if it’s true, it just means if she really likes you, she’ll show it!  If you know what I mean.”  Buddy made a wink-wink, nudge-nudge gesture, while Patrick just shook his head.

He straightened, satisfied with his appearance, and picked up the flowers for Maria.  “I’ve got to go now.  See you later, Buddy.”

Buddy was still grinning as Patrick headed out the door.  “Bye!”



When Patrick rang the Wolffs’ doorbell, it wasn’t Maria that answered, but her mother.  “Ah, you must be Patrick.  Please, come in.”  She led him in and called out.  “Maria!  Patrick is here.”  She turned back to him.  “It’s nice to meet you.  She’s talked quite a bit about you.  All good things, of course.  No need to worry.”

“Nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Wolff.”  Patrick wondered if he was still supposed to call her that even though she was divorced.  He hoped he hadn’t used the wrong greeting.

If so, Morgana had no issue with it, and shook his hand as Maria came around the corner.  Patrick could not believe how lovely she looked.  Her dress, jewelry, and makeup were all flawless, and made her seem all the more beautiful.  “Maria.  Wow.  You look gorgeous!”

She beamed.  “Thank you!  You look pretty handsome yourself.”

“Yes, I have to agree.  You both look fantastic,” Morgana complimented them.  “If it’s not too much trouble, may I get a picture of you both before you leave?”

“Sure!” said Maria.



“Oh!  First, these are for you.”  Patrick presented Maria with her flowers.

“They’re beautiful!  Thank you.  That’s so sweet.”

“Indeed.  Hold them for the picture.”  Morgana got her phone out, and Maria and Patrick posed.  She took a few shots, decided which one she liked best, then turned to Maria.  “I’ll send this to you, and you can send it along to Patrick.  You two make a perfect couple.  Have fun tonight,” she said, and excused herself.



“I hope my mom didn’t say anything to scare you before I got here.”

“Nah.  She’s nice,” Patrick assured her.

“Yeah.  At least now you’ve got meeting both my parents out of the way.”  She met Patrick’s eyes with a flirtatious look.  “I like how you look in that tux.  You fancy up pretty nice, Patrick Wainwright.”



“Thanks.”  Patrick felt a blush rise to his cheeks at the compliment.  “I wouldn’t want to be too mismatched with someone as pretty as you.”

“Oh, you cutie.”  Maria kissed him on the cheek.  “Come on.  Let’s go dazzle everyone at the dance.”



They rode over to the school and made their way to the gym, which had been decorated for the special occasion.  Several of their classmates had already arrived, and others came in behind them.  Patrick nodded a casual hello to Penny Bunch, who had come with Wilbur Keaton.  She and Jamaal Hart had broken up not long ago, and both had moved on.  While Penny and Wilbur bonded over their love of horseback riding, Jamaal was now dating Gretchen Ursine.  Patrick and Maria spotted Julius Langerak at the dance as well, although he did not seem to have a date.  He and Sam Sekemoto were chatting with some of the single girls, one of whom Patrick recognized as Orion and Iris’ sometimes babysitter, over by the buffet table.  Maria tightened her arm around Patrick and posed as if to look even more beautiful when Julius cast them a sour look.

“So, shall we dance?”

“I’d love to.”  Maria took Patrick’s hand, and they went out onto the floor.



“I like this song.  It’s romantic,” Maria said as they settled into a slow dance.

“It’s nice,” Patrick agreed.

Maria leaned in close, and hummed along, murmuring the lyrics.

“You have a nice voice,” Patrick told her.  “I didn’t know you could sing.”

“I like to, sometimes.  Shower singing, karaoke when I’m feeling adventurous.”  She met his eyes.  “What about you?  You play music.  Do you ever sing?”

“Along with the radio sometimes.  Oh, and I know a couple of French songs from Champs Les Sims.  One another kid I met there taught me.  The other, my dad actually picked up from this artist we took a painting class with there.  A French romance song.  I was younger then, so I was all ‘ew no’ at the time, but sometimes my dad still hums it.  One day, for the heck of it, I asked him, and he taught it to me.  It’s actually kind of catchy.  Then on a whim I translated the lyrics out of French and I was like, ‘wow, racy.’  Now it feels kind of awkward when I see my parents French song flirting.”

“I bet.  But it’s sweet they’re still in love like that, after being together so long.  Mine can barely stand to be in the same room with each other.  Even before they split, they never seemed that happy.  They fought all the time.  Sometimes I wonder if they ever loved each other, really.”  She met Patrick’s eyes.  “So, will you sing the French love song for me?”

“I’m not sure how it’ll sound against the music they’re playing, but, okay.”  He pulled her close and sang “Je t’aime” soft and low to her.

“I liked that.  You have a great voice, too, you know.”

Patrick was flattered.  “You really think so?”

“Yeah!  We totally need to do karaoke sometime.  It’d be fun.”

“Karaoke?  I’ve never sang in public.  I’m not sure it’d be the same as playing music.”

“You’d do fine.  Trust me.  You weren’t off key at all.  And believe me, I can tell that stuff.  It’s like a cheese grater on my ears when it is.”

“I’ll take your word for it.  But I’m glad I didn’t grate your ears.”  He gave her a twirl.



While not ear-grating, a minor disturbance did interrupt the romantic ambiance of the dance.  Patrick and Maria looked over when they heard raised voices.  Jamaal, Gretchen, and Julius had gotten into an argument.  Although she’d come with Jamaal, it was obvious she’d been leading Julius on as well.

“Is it true?  Have you been going out with him?”

“Like twice,” Gretchen said, as though it was no big deal.  “It’s not like he stopped seeing Sandi.”

“I told you, she graduated so we’re not dating anymore,” Julius said.  “You said you and Jamaal were going to break up.”

Jamaal was shocked and hurt.  “She said what?”

“Oh, don’t be all high and mighty,” Gretchen snapped back.  “You were still going out with Penny when she started seeing Wilbur.”

“But we’re not anymore, and you said you were my girlfriend, that this wasn’t just a thing for you!”

“She told me you weren’t serious.”  Julius threw up his arms in disgust.  “Whatever.  Forget it.  She’s all yours.”  He stormed off.

“I’m not in the mood to dance.”  Jamaal glared at Gretchen.  “I’m going to get some air.”  He turned and left also, leaving Gretchen to sulk on the floor.  She straightened and held up her head to save face, and went over to the punch bowl to vent to Penny, who was getting a drink.



“I’d say I feel bad for Julius, but I’d be lying,” Patrick said with a hint of smugness.

“I don’t feel bad for him, either.  Serves him right for being such a jerk.”  She twirled in Patrick’s arms.  “I’m so glad you asked me to this dance.  I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else, now that we’re together.  Especially not him.”

Patrick wanted to twirl himself when he heard that, and it put an extra spring in his dance step.  “Me too.”



While Patrick and Maria danced through the end of the song, Gretchen decided that the dance had gotten tedious, so she was going to liven it up.  Although no one would have called her parents role models, Gretchen had learned a couple of things from them.  Her father knew how to party, and her mother was a master at concealing objects.  Granted, it was usually to remove them from their rightful owners, but the same tricks worked in reverse.  When no chaperones were looking, Gretchen opened her purse, took out a flask full of hard juice, and poured it into the punch bowl.  “Let’s dance,” she snickered.

Penny refilled her punch glass.  “This tastes a little different.”

“Oh, they topped it off,” Gretchen lied.

“Must be the new batch.  Still good, though.”  She downed the rest, then refilled it again.  “It’s hot in here.  All this dancing makes me thirsty.”  A few minutes later, she was giggling.

So was Gretchen.  “Cheers,” she said with a gleam in her eye, and drank a glass with Penny.



When the song changed, Patrick and Maria decided to take a break and get some punch themselves.  “I wonder if that’s strawberry or cherry.  Whatever, I’m pretty thirsty.”

“Here, I’ll get you a glass.”  Patrick poured her one, then one for himself.

“Thanks.”  She accepted and raised it to toast.  “To our first dance.”

“Our first dance.”  He tapped his cup to hers.



Patrick and Maria finished their drinks and returned to the dance floor.  The DJ played a more upbeat tune, and they got into the groove of the music.

“I did promise to show off my dance moves,” Patrick said flirtatiously.

“Yes, you did.”  Maria laughed as he twirled her around.  “I think you’ve been practicing since that night at the festival.  You better not be pulling a Gretchen and have a secret dancing partner on the side.”

“Nope.  Just me and the stereo.  I promise.”

“Good.  I don’t want to share the spotlight,” she said dramatically, and fell into his arms.



Patrick dipped Maria low, and between the romantic mood of the dance, the energy of the music, and the elated way he felt, he gave her an impulsive kiss.  Her lips met his with equal enthusiasm, and they kissed for a long moment on the dance floor.

“Get a room!” Gretchen called out with a juiced laugh that was echoed by Penny, Wilbur, and a couple of other students.

“Someone’s bitter she didn’t get kissed like that,” Maria giggled.

“From what we heard earlier, she could’ve had her pick of who to get it from, though.”  They laughed as they headed back to the punch bowl for another refill.

They drank some more, and ate a couple of bites from the buffet table, chatting and having a good time.  The next song wasn’t one either particularly cared for, so they continued to chat and drink from the punch bowl.



The last time Maria got a refill, she noticed the taste seemed a bit off.  “Hey, Patrick?  Does this have like a weird aftertaste to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like… I don’t know, like something else is in it.”  Her eyes went wide.  “I think someone might’ve spiked the punch.”

“No!  Really?”  Patrick was surprised, and took a sip of Maria’s drink.

“It tastes like before.  Well, mostly.”  They had drunk their previous glasses faster, being a bit warm and thirsty from the dancing.  He sipped again, and tasted carefully.  “You’re right.  I think they did spike it.”

“Oh, my Watcher.  Do you think we’ve been drinking spiked stuff all night?”  Maria looked down.  “I know I felt like I was cutting a little loose, but… it was just having fun.  And I thought it was warm in here because we were, you know, dancing and moving around and stuff.”



Patrick realized that he also felt a little too warm, and maybe a bit giddy.  The heat he’d chalked up to the tuxedo and the stuffy gym, and the rest, just having a good time being with Maria.  Now he realized that he might be feeling a little light-headed.  “Yeah.  Maybe we should stay away from that bowl.”

“We both just drank a ton of it,” Maria worried.  “I hope we don’t get sick.”

“We’ll be fine,” he reassured her.  “At least we don’t have to drive home.”

“Oh, wow.  My mom will absolutely flip her plumbob if she thinks I got juiced.”  Maria sighed.  “What are we going to do?”

Patrick took her hand.  “We dance it off, and play it cool.  As long as we don’t drink any more, we should be okay.”



They returned to the dance floor and enjoyed the rest of the dance, but as time went on, the more the punch they drank earlier hit them.  Soon, they were both rather uncoordinated and giggly.  By the time the dance ended and they rode home in the limo, Maria was stumbling in her heels and Patrick was almost tripping over himself.



Despite his juiced-up state, Patrick still escorted Maria to her front door.  “I had an amazing time with you tonight.  And I promise that’s not the punch talking.”

“I know it’s not.”  Maria smiled and brushed the side of his face.  “I had a wonderful time with you, too, Patrick.  I’m so glad you asked me.”   She met his eyes.  “And that you’re my boyfriend.  I—I love you, Patrick.  That’s not my juice punch talking, either.  I really do.  You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met before.  I—”

“I love you, too.”  He kissed her.  “To tell the truth, I could hardly tell that punch was spiked, because I feel like this just being around you.”

“Me too.”  They held each other in the porch light, under the stars, and kissed again.

“I wish I didn’t have to say good night,” said Patrick.

“I wish you didn’t, either.  If my mom wasn’t up waiting for me…”

He smiled.  “I know.  Mine are probably waiting on me, too.”



Patrick went inside with Maria and kissed her good night at the door.  “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“If you don’t, you’ll be in the dog house,” she replied with a wink.

“Then I’ll text tonight and call tomorrow, just to be sure.”

“You do that.”  She smooched him.  “Good night, Patrick.  I love you.”  She smiled as she said it, and he beamed inside and out.  He didn’t think he would ever get tired of hearing her say that.

“Love you, too.  Good night.”



When Patrick got home, his parents were in the front room watching TV, and they came over to greet him.  He supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised they waited on him.  His father worried about everything, even on a good day.

“Welcome home.  How was the dance?” asked Susan.

Patrick still felt the effects of the punch, but tried not to show it.  “Fine.  Great!  We had a good time.  A really good time.”  Had he said that too fast?  He noticed them exchange a look.

“Good.  Maria got home safely?”

“Oh, yeah.”  He nodded in a way that emphasized his wobbly demeanor.  “Of course.  I walked her into the house and everything.  She’s fine.”

Buddy came around the corner, and immediately noticed Patrick’s state.  “Oooh!  Someone’s been in the juice!”

Patrick did his best to ignore Buddy, but it was harder than usual to keep a straight face.  Boyd and Susan both noticed, although they didn’t realize it had anything to do with Buddy.  “So, if it’s okay, I think I’m going to get out of this tux and go to bed,” Patrick rambled.  “I’m beat.”  He emphasized it with a dramatic and somewhat clumsy gesture.



“What you are is plum-faced juiced, Patrick.”  Boyd didn’t mince words.

“Noooo.”  He forced the most serious look he could muster.

“Yes,” Susan said.  “Don’t bother denying it.  It’s obvious.”  She leaned over and sniffed.  “Even without smelling it on your breath.”



“Okay, maybe a little, kind of, sort of, yes, but—”

Boyd raised an eyebrow.  “I think it’s a little past ‘kind of, sort of.’”

“Don’t get mad!  I didn’t do it on purpose.  I swear I didn’t!”  He held up his hands in protest.

Susan sighed.  “We know.”

“We were dancing and just dancing, and talking.  Nothing but normal school dance stuff.  We were thirsty so we drank the punch and someone spiked it and… wait, you know?”

“Judy Bunch called us,” Susan explained.  “One of your schoolmates spiked the punch bowl with hard stuff.  Penny had so much she got sick enough that they had to take her to Sacred Spleen.  Her friend that did it ‘fessed up once she saw how sick Penny got.”

“So, we know it’s not your fault.”  Boyd met Patrick’s eyes.  “I’m sure you’re smart enough not to knowingly drink spiked punch?  Especially since you have no idea what might be in it, how strong it is, or even what it is?”

“We didn’t know,” Patrick assured them.  “You’re not mad, then?”



“We’re not mad,” Susan assured him.

“We wanted to make sure you’re all right, and aside from an impending hangover, I think you’ll be fine.  That said, I’m sure you know that if it had been intentional, and you were drinking juice underage…”

“I’d be grounded for eternity?”

“A reasonable assumption, yes.”

Buddy stood behind Boyd, mocking him.  “That’s right, Patrick.  Don’t you go drinking and partying.  We’re old and boring, and won’t stand for that sort of thing.  Except when we want to do it.  Then it’s different!  Then we do keg stands at frat parties, and it becomes a family joke for years.”

Patrick struggled to keep a straight face.  That had happened before he was even born, but he and Buddy knew about it because it was such a long-standing joke that his mom, Blair, and Cycl0n3 still razzed his father about it from time to time.  “Fine.  Got it, Dad.”

“Go drink a glass of water and get some rest,” Susan told him.  “Hopefully in the morning, you won’t feel like wild horses trampled through your head.”

“Okay.  Good night.”



Boyd sighed as Patrick went up the stairs.  “Well, he’s about three plumbobs to the wind, but I’m glad he didn’t end up like Penny.”

“Me too, although he’s closer to it than he thinks.”  Susan shook her head.  “Patrick seems to be a magnet for trouble lately.  I know he said he didn’t drink it on purpose, but…”

“Do you think he lied?”

“Other than that juiced attempt to cover it up?  No.  Though I’m a little insulted he thinks we’re that stupid.”

“I don’t think it’s so much that he thinks we’re stupid, just that we’re old and out of it.”

“Heh.  Not any better.  But I’m still a little concerned.  First the fight, then this inadvertent juicing at the dance… I hope he didn’t embarrass himself too badly, or upset Maria.  The last thing I want is a call from her mother about our son’s behavior.”

“He said she was fine, and he’s so over the moon for her, if there had been a problem, I think it would’ve been obvious.”

“I suppose.  Here’s hoping that’s the last of the talks like this we have to have with him, though.”



When he got to his room, Patrick was tired and fuzzy-headed from the juice, but happy.  He texted Maria, as promised.  Hope everything went ok after I left. Had a great time with you tonight. Can’t wait to see you again. He sent a sticker from the “love” category after it, a character he and Maria both liked that had hearts.

Almost immediately, his phone buzzed back with a response.  Someone already told Mom about the punch so she didn’t freak out.  There was a thumbs up after it.  Miss you already.  Love you!  ❤

Patrick couldn’t help but smile.  Seeing it in writing just made it even better, and he was still grinning ear to ear when Buddy came in.  “So, how’d it go?  And how’d you get juiced?”

“It was awesome!”  Patrick shared an enthusiastic shaka-bra with Buddy, and told him all about it while he changed out of his tuxedo into his sleepwear.  Buddy was particularly amused by the punch-spiking story.

“We should try that here sometime!  It’s not like they don’t have enough nectar in the basement that they wouldn’t miss a few bottles.  What about Maria?  How much did she have?”

“As much as me.  But it might’ve hit her harder than me.  Or maybe it was just because she was in heels.  She leaned on me a lot, but, uh, I didn’t mind that.  Especially since she seemed to appreciate it.”

“Oh?  How much?”  Buddy made exaggerated kissy noises.

“A lot.”  Patrick thought about the make-out session he and Maria had in the back of the limo on the ride home.

“Ooooh!  So, how far does she go on the second date?”

Patrick flushed a little.  “Yeah, on that note, I’m going to bed now.  Good night, Buddy.”  He climbed under the covers.

“Hah!  Guess the answer is ‘not as far as you hoped!’  Good night, Romeo!”  Buddy snickered sarcastically and transformed back to doll form, while Patrick clicked off the light and dozed off into sweet dreams.

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 52
« Reply #214 on: February 16, 2018, 02:13:52 AM »
Chapter 52



Chris was thrilled when he got his final birthday present—a long-haired cat named Diddy, who he found at the local shelter.  He was a middle-aged cat nearing his senior years, but Chris chose him over a kitten and the other cats for several reasons.  One, they seemed to hit it off right away.  Diddy purred as soon as Chris picked him up, and loved his attention.  Another was that he was gentle by nature, and would be good around small children, an important consideration given that Travis would be a toddler before long.  The third was that due to his age, Diddy had been at the shelter a while, and was lonely.  Chris took an immediate liking to him, and decided to adopt him on the spot.

“This is your new home.”  Chris petted him.  “Don’t worry.  You’ll never be at a shelter again.  You’re a member of the family now!”



Although they’d gotten the basics, an auto feeder and a litter box, Chris wanted to spoil his new furry friend a bit.  “That pet store up by the stables allows you to take the pet there with you when you shop.  Can we see what they’ve got for him?”

“Sure.”  Blair cuddled Travis.  “You want to go see the cute animals?”

“Just keep him away from the bird and reptile cages.  I’m sure they’ve got a ‘if he eats it, you buy it’ policy,” warned Cycl0n3.

“Aw, you wouldn’t do that, would you, Diddy?”

Diddy just meowed, enjoying the attention.

“I’ll take that as a no.”

Cycl0n3 scratched Diddy behind the ears.  “Yeah, well, call me cynical, but I want that in writing!”



The shop was indeed welcoming to both owners and pets, and luckily, the only small animals not secured in cat-proof cages were birds almost as big as Diddy himself.  He ignored them and decided to play and hide in a Kitty Bag instead.  “I think he likes this,” Chris remarked.  “It’s not that expensive.  I’m going to get one for him.”

“All right.  If you want,” agreed Blair.

“I’ll pay you back when I get my first paycheck,” Chris promised.  He’d gotten a part-time job at the local day spa so he would have spending money of his own.  Blair and Cycl0n3 were proud of how responsible he was.

After he asked the clerk where the kitty bags were, she helped him pick one out.  He chose one in a fish shape that reminded him of a Voidcritter, and the clerk took it back to the counter for him while he continued to browse.  He noticed a sample container of cat treats near the register.  “Oh, would your friend here like to try one?” asked the clerk.  “Free samples.  Fish flavor.  A cat favorite!”

“Sure!”  Chris took one and held it up for Diddy, who got quite excited.  “Oh, you want a treat, huh?”

Diddy meowed and got up on his hind legs, while Blair giggled.  “Diddy doesn’t look like he says no to many treats.  Look at that big fluffy belly!”



“Oh, don’t listen to Mom.  You’re not fat.  You’re just fluffy!”  Chris gave Diddy the treat, and he gobbled it up hungrily.  “I’ll get you a box of those, too.”

“Then it definitely won’t be all fluff,” Cycl0n3 quipped.



Out in the back courtyard of the pet store was a demo of a deluxe jungle gym for cats.  Diddy seemed to like it quite a bit, and Chris enjoyed watching him play in it.  “Wow, I bet he’d love one of these!”

“I’m sure he would.”  Blair noticed the price tag.  “But that’s more than a few shifts at your job, I think.”

“I know,” said Chris.  “I just think it’s cool.  Maybe someday.”

“Maybe.”

They heard a loud squawking noise, and saw that Cycl0n3 had gotten distracted by the pet store’s backyard chickens, and he’d apparently annoyed one of them.  It flapped and pecked aggressively in his direction.

“Uh-oh, Dad… did you run afoul of a chicken?”

Blair snickered, while Cycl0n3 frowned at both the bird and the joke.  “That was a terrible pun.  You should feel bad about it, and picking on your father, young man.”  He made a face at the chicken and stepped back to give it space.

“Don’t you mean pecking?” teased Blair.

“You’re just as bad!”  Cycl0n3 folded his arms and summoned what dignity that remained.  “I don’t have to take this.”

“That’s right.  You can fight beak.”  Blair kept giggling, and so did Chris.

“Egg-sactly!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Cycl0n3 groused.  “You’re both clucking hilarious.”  Charles the chicken squawked again, and Cyc0n3 pointed his finger at him as he headed back inside.  “And you, tell it to the Colonel.”



Chris had to go to work after they got back from shopping for Diddy.  His job at the spa wasn’t too bad.  Some of it was cleaning and tidying up, but he was also trained to help customers when they came in.  Sometimes it was as simple as ringing up a stylist ticket at the register or directing someone to the tattoo artist or stylist, but other times he had to assist on the massage tables.  His first try on acupuncture left him needing a band-aid on two fingers, and he nearly burned his fingers on the hot rocks when he first trained on those, but before long, he got the hang of it.



That day, he was assigned to greeting customers.  It was a little slower than normal, which tended to make the shift drag, but to his surprise, Tad Wolff came in.  “Hey, spa boy,” he greeted Chris with a teasing smirk.  “How’s it going?”

“Fine.”  He came over.  “What are you doing here?”

“Just thought I’d come in and harass you.  Nah, seriously, I fell on the deck this morning and bruised up my back when I hit the lounge chair.  It hurt like llamas!  Mom told me to come down and get a spa soak.  She said it was better than the tub, so,” he shrugged. “I guess I’m here for hydrotherapy?”  He looked at the price and services sign.  “Hmm, massages too?  I don’t know.  What are the packages?  Great Escape?  Relaxing Rendezvous?”

“They’re really expensive, and run from 3 hours to all day.  Like with Great Escape it’s a mud bath, then skin scrub-down, head to toe, they wrap you in kelp and use a bunch of fancy creams on you.  Mostly that stuff,” Chris pointed to a shelf full of expensive skin treatments.  “They also include a shiatsu massage and end with a wellness consultation.”

“Yeah, I’ll stick with the hydrotherapy, I guess.  I’m not up to being sushi-wrapped today.”

“I’m with you.  That kelp is a little weird anyway.”  He wrote up the ticket.  “Top floor.”  Chris glanced around the lobby, which didn’t have any waiting customers.  “Come on.  I’ll show you.”



Chris showed Tad to the hydrotherapy room and filled the tub while Tad changed into his swim attire.  “So, you’ve got the room for the full session,” he told him when he returned.  “The door is locked from the outside, except to staff.  If you get too warm or need something, or want to call staff, push this button.”

“Cool.”  Tad tested the water, which was bubbling and vaguely aromatic.  “What’d you put in here?”

“Healing minerals and salts, from all corners of the world, in a secret blend to grant the ultimate skin and muscle revitalizing experience,” Chris parroted in an overly dramatic way.

“They made you memorize a training video, didn’t they?”

“Yup.  Still beats flipping burgers or working at the grocery store, though.  The customers here tip.”



Tad climbed into the tub.  “Oh, I’ve got to tip you, huh?  Well, I better get excellent service then, spa boy.”  He splashed his fingers in the water.  “Get me a towel!”

“Yeah, here’s your towel.”  Chris hung it on the end of the tub, and added with a joking, “Good sir.”

“Very good, spa boy.  Now fetch me a duckie.”

Chris picked up a Ducksworth of Bathington off the stool and brought it to him.  “As you wish.”

Tad grinned.  “Spa Boy, sit on the bench and converse with me and Ducksworth.”

“As you wish,” Chris retorted with good-natured sarcasm.  “For a few minutes, anyway.  Can’t leave the front too long, or the stylist will get bent out of shape.”

“Ah, yeah, don’t want to get you in trouble.”  Tad relaxed in the bubbles.  “This is nice.  It is better than the tub at home.”

Chris noticed the bruises on his back.  “How did you fall, anyway?”

“You know, I don’t even know.  I just stumbled and went plumbob over end right across a lounge chair.  I don’t even know what I tripped on.  And of course, Maria saw, and she was all like, ‘Ha! I had better coordination than that juiced in heels,’ which she didn’t.  I saw her after that dance.  She practically fell into her room.”  Tad rolled his eyes.  “Did you hear Gretchen Ursine got suspended for a few days over that?”

“I’m not surprised.  If that had been me, well, I don’t even want to think about what Cop Mom would do.”

“Makes me glad mine’s a doctor,” Tad quipped.  “If I ever get in too much trouble, I can remind her that she swore an oath to do no harm.”



While Chris spent his afternoon at work, the youngest Wainwrights enjoyed the first day of summer poolside.  Orion played in the pool, while Iris toddled around in the sun.  She had grown considerably and no longer needed a walker, although sometimes she still liked playing in it.  She had also learned more words and chatted up a storm.  “Sun sun!”

Susan was quite proud of her.  “Yes, it’s very sunny out here.  Does Patches like the sun, too?”

“Patches like sun.  Grow big!”  She tugged on the doll.

“What about water?”  Orion playfully splashed at his little sister, and Iris giggled.  She liked the water, although Susan was less impressed when his second splash got her leg.

“Easy there.  I’m not a plant, and I don’t need watered.”

“Aw.  How come you don’t come in, too?”

“I need to keep an eye on Iris.”

“I go swim?” Iris looked up.

“No, honey.  It’s too deep.  Maybe later, I’ll take you in.”  Susan dipped her finger in the water.  “Still a little cold for me.”

Orion got up on the slide.  “Not for me!”  He let out a cheer and swooped in with a big splash.  “Maybe when Dad and Patrick get back, they’ll take you in,” he said to Iris.

“If your dad’s in the mood for anything when he gets back, it’ll probably be a soothing soak for his nerves in the hot tub.”  Boyd was out with Patrick for a final practice drive before his exam, and even though Patrick had shown himself to be a good driver, Boyd was still Boyd, and would inevitably be anxious no matter how it turned out.



“Dad, please relax.”

“I am relaxed.”

“Yeah.  That’s why you’re gripping the door.  Seriously.  You know I’m not going to crash.”

“I’m not gripping the door.”  Boyd uncurled his fingers from where they tightly rested against the hand-hold.

“Uh-huh.”

“I know you’re a good driver, Patrick.  Hey, blinker?”

“Was already on it.”  Patrick turned the signal on and turned.  “Really.  I’ve got this.”

“I know.”

“Then why do you look so freaked out?”

“Why are your eyes on me and not the road?”

“They’re not,” Patrick assured him.  “I can tell from peripheral vision.  Heck, I don’t even need to see you.  You’ve been worried the whole time.  Don’t.  I’m going to do fine.  You saw.  No speeding.  No missed signals.  And I nailed that parallel parking perfectly.”

“You did,” Boyd conceded.  “It’s not personal.  It’s just… I worry.  Do you know how absurdly easy it is to get in a fatal accident in the blink of an eye?  In the time it takes for something random, a sneeze—”

“If Blair can drive to the hospital in a speeding cop car in labor, I can handle a simple driver’s test.”

Boyd shook his hands in front of his face.  “Don’t remind me she did that!  I can’t believe she was so reckless.  I can’t believe Cycl0n3 didn’t stop her.  They could’ve been killed!  I wish they’d never told me that, if they were going to be so foolish.  And they joked about it!  They all could’ve all died in a fiery mess of twisted metal, flame, and death sirens, and it’s funny.”

“I know.”  Patrick tried not to smirk as his father ranted.  He felt a bit bad about firing him up like that, and although he agreed it was a risk Blair probably shouldn’t have taken, it did accomplish the goals of a) making him look more responsible in comparison and b) getting him off the subject of his driving.



As it turned out, Boyd’s fears were unfounded.  After their practice drive, Patrick took his exam and passed with a great score.  He left with his brand-new license, and drove home as a licensed driver for the first time.  “See, Dad?  I told you there was nothing to worry about!”

“I’m proud of you,” Boyd said sincerely.  “See, I even took my hand off the door.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“I’m sorry.  It’s just how I’m wired.”  Boyd tried to relax.  “I know you’ll be fine.  Oh!  Watch that idiot, I’m not sure they’re going to stop…”

Patrick slowed, although the other car did stop like they were supposed to at the last minute.  “See, I’m fine.  I don’t drive like that.”

“That just means I get to worry about everyone else on the road screwing you up,” he said with a rueful look.  “Hey, I’m just being honest.”

“I know.  At least you’ve got a little while before Orion and then Iris start driving, too.”

“Ah, don’t remind me.”

“Maybe Mom should teach them when it’s their turn.”

“If she wants to.  There was a time I’d have recommended Blair, your sister, the cop who should understand traffic laws better than anyone, but…”

Patrick just smiled as Boyd launched into a rant rehash, and drove home thinking about the freedom he now had with his new license and car.



By the time they got home, Susan had changed her mind about going in the pool.  The early summer sun was hot, and the water was refreshing.  Susan brought Iris in briefly, and then put her in the playpen while she lounged in the water.  Orion was still splashing around, playing on both the diving board and the slide, having a great time.  Susan envied his energy.

“Welcome back,” she called out when Boyd and Patrick joined them poolside.  “How’d it go?”

Patrick waved his license in the air.  “I aced it.”

“He did,” said Boyd.

“And how’d you do?” Susan asked her husband with a knowing look.

“You were freaking out, weren’t you?” Orion chimed in.

“Not that much.”

Patrick smirked.  “Translation: yes.”

Boyd leaned over Iris’ playpen and handed her the water bottle in there with her as Susan called over to him.  “Grab a lounger and come on in, honey.  Relax.  Our son is a good driver.  His test results prove it.”  She looked at Patrick with a smile.  “Congratulations.  I knew you’d do fine.”

“Thanks.”

“Will you be joining us in the pool, or do you already have plans for that new license?”

“Option B,” Patrick answered his mother as he picked up his phone.



While Patrick called Maria to tell her his good news, Boyd changed into his swimsuit and hopped on a float of his own.

“Feeling a bit more relaxed now?” asked Susan.

“Yeah.”  He put on his sunglasses.  “It’s pretty nice out here today.”

“It is,” Susan agreed.  “I was thinking, this year, maybe we should throw a Leisure Day party.”

“Oooh!  A pool party?”  Orion swam over.  “That’d be fun.”  He splashed in his parents’ direction.

“Easy.”  Susan put up a hand to block it, while Boyd just took it in stride and threw a lazy splash back.

“C’mon, Dad, let’s have a splashing contest!”

“I know better than to get into water wars I can’t win,” Boyd replied wryly.



Their conversation was interrupted when a loud alert sounded on their cell phones over on the patio.  It wasn’t for an incoming call or text, but an alert specific to an app they had written and programmed themselves: the app that tied to the time almanac and portal.  Boyd and Susan nearly fell off of their floats in shock, and splashed over to the side and out of the pool in record time.

“It says it’s active again!”  Boyd couldn’t hide his excitement, while Susan tried to remain calm despite her own.  “Is that what yours said?”

“Yes.  ‘Portal activation’ and ‘Transmission – Almanac’ on mine.  First notifications like that of either type I’ve ever gotten.”



“That’s what I’ve got, too.  Think it’s the real deal, or a malfunction?”

“Only one way to find out.”



“Hey, Orion?”  Boyd shouted across the pool, where Orion was headed down the slide again.

When he landed and popped out of the water to answer, Susan called over.  “We’ve got to go inside for a little bit and take care of something.  Will you be all right out here with Iris?”

“Sure.”

Boyd saw through the patio doors that Patrick was still on the phone in the kitchen.  “Patrick’s right inside if you need help with Iris.  You be careful, and no trying backflips or stunts on the slide or anything dangerous, okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” Orion promised.

“All right,” Susan said, and she and Boyd headed inside.



Still a bit soggy from the pool, the Wainwrights were lucky not to slip on the floor with their wet feet in their rush to the basement.  They were thrilled to discover that their app was indeed functioning properly, and the portal was active.  When they checked the almanac, there was a message.

Up for a visit?  Portal is set for two to travel to Oasis Landing.  Hop on in at your convenience. – Emit

“This is it,” Susan said with a breath heavy with excitement.  “The chance we’ve been waiting for, to see what’s changed in all this time.”

“Our first trip since all the big changes… it’s been so long.  Years.  I wonder what’s changed?  What’s different?”

“I don’t know, but I imagine our descendants have to be better off than that awful run-down place they were living in.  Unless we have a real squanderer in the next few generations.”

Boyd stared at the fluctuating light, deep in thought.  “Orion and Iris, they must have descendants, too.  Maybe we’ll see Travis’, and find out whether Emit is descended from him or Chris.”

“And maybe find out what happened to the other one’s descendants,” mused Susan.  “Though first, we should probably get out of our swimsuits.”

“Yes.  Good idea.”



They went into the storage room beside the portal and changed into the clothes they got in Oasis Landing.  The garments had been stored down there so they wouldn’t be discovered by accident.  “Good to know it still fits after all these years, and I haven’t lost my girlish figure,” Susan remarked.  “I hope they’re still in style when we’re going.”

“It’s got to be closer than our current century bathing suits.”  Boyd adjusted his glasses and smoothed down the shirt.  “I still kind of like them.”

“They suit you.  Eighties music video resemblance and all,” she said wryly.

“I’m going to take that as a compliment.”



Before they went into the portal, they paused.  “We told Orion we’d be right back.  What’s the exact time?  We need to note it so we don’t end up gone for more than a few minutes.”

“I’ve got it.”  Susan recorded it on the almanac and her phone.  “Don’t worry.  The kids will be fine for this.”

“Last time, we left Patrick with Blair, just in case.  He was just a toddler then.  Now he’s driving his own car.  Time flies.”

“And he’s here with Orion and Iris.  Just in case.”

“I know, but you know me.  I—”

“Worry.  Yes, I know.”  Susan kissed Boyd on the cheek and took his hand.  “Come on.  Let’s check out the future.”

He gave her hand a squeeze and mirrored her smile.  “Let’s go.”

The Wainwrights stepped into the portal, filled with anticipation for what awaited them on the other side, and disappeared into its brilliant light.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #215 on: February 16, 2018, 02:23:09 PM »
Patrick looks so great in his tuxedo! I'm glad to see that he and Maria are thriving unaffected the peripheral drama.

I love this latest chapter on Chris, especially his reasons for adopting the elderly Diddy. I have such a soft spot for Chris and his compassionate nature now!
Giggled through all the chicken jokes. Yes, Cycl0n3, you can dish it out so sometimes you need to take it, too. Seems like Cyl0n3 and Chris share the same kind of humor. I love it!
It was cool seeing his friend Tad as a teen as well.
And Boyd the worrier, LOL!

I'm so excited to find out what Susan and Boyd discover in their upcoming trip to Oasis Landing! *jumps up and down excitedly

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 53
« Reply #216 on: February 22, 2018, 10:35:39 PM »
Patrick looks so great in his tuxedo! I'm glad to see that he and Maria are thriving unaffected the peripheral drama.

I love this latest chapter on Chris, especially his reasons for adopting the elderly Diddy. I have such a soft spot for Chris and his compassionate nature now!
Giggled through all the chicken jokes. Yes, Cycl0n3, you can dish it out so sometimes you need to take it, too. Seems like Cyl0n3 and Chris share the same kind of humor. I love it!
It was cool seeing his friend Tad as a teen as well.
And Boyd the worrier, LOL!

I'm so excited to find out what Susan and Boyd discover in their upcoming trip to Oasis Landing! *jumps up and down excitedly

Chris is a sweetie. While he definitely got his sarcastic streak from dear ol' dad, he's had enough influence from Blair that he doesn't cross the obnoxious line nearly as often as Cycl0n3 does. Blair may be childish, but her good trait keeps it in check, and I'm sure she's made sure Chris knows the line between being funny and rude or mean.

Hope you enjoy the Oasis Landing trip! It starts with this chapter.




Chapter 53



When the Wainwrights stepped out of the portal into Oasis Landing, it was just like they remembered it.  Emit was waiting for them, and he greeted them with his usual enthusiasm.  “Boyd!  Susan!  Long time, no see.  Well, longer for you than me,” he amended after noticing how much they’d aged since he’d last seen them.  “For me it was practically yesterday.”

“Yeah, a little longer than that for us,” said Boyd.  “Orion was just born when we last saw you, and now he’s—”

“About halfway to his teenage years, right?  At least, I think so, if I figured the dates right.  And belated congratulations on little Iris, by the way!”

“Thanks.  Did you know about her, too?” asked Susan.  “It’s good to see you again, Emit.”

“Yes, it is,” agreed Boyd.  “We have so many questions.”

“I can imagine.  As for Iris, believe it or not, the answer is no.  She was a surprise to me!  My projection only shows your general trajectory, so when she popped up, I was shocked.  In a good way.  Another addition to your legacies, and an engineered plantsim at that.  Incredible work!  You two truly are brilliant scientists.”

“Thank you.”  Susan beamed, while Boyd smiled at the compliment.



“Emit, there’s so much we’d like to know that I’m not even sure where to start.  So much has changed, and we can only imagine what it’s affected here, like our descendants.  How are they?  Donovan and Benjamin and Leilani?  And Blair, you told us you’re descended from her and Cycl0n3, but back when you told us that, she only had Chris, so we thought it had to be through him.  But now she has another kid.  Are you related to Chris or Travis?  What about Orion and Iris?  Do they have descendants we can meet?”

“And our work, we made a breakthrough with the LI-WX923!  We’ve got a working formulation for it now,” Susan gushed.  “Does that show as part of the timeline you expected, or are there other surprises like Iris was?  Are there other things we might’ve discovered or led others to discover?”



“Wow.  Well, I may have all the time in the world, but I’ll still need a minute or two to get through all of that!  Guess this is what happens when I let the time between visits on your end fall into ‘years’ as opposed to months.  Let’s stick to one topic first.  Descendants.  We’ll go chronological.  Oldest child, Blair, who happens to be the most personally familiar.  You’re talking to him.”

“Him?  You mean you’re the only one?”  Susan exchanged a look with Boyd.

“The only surviving one?” Boyd asked.

“The only one you can talk to.  I’m the only one left from Pl4sm4’s line.  You can thank dear ol’ dad for that.”  His voice took on a bitter note for a moment, but then resumed its usual upbeat manner.  “There are others, far from here, but not local.”

“Which of Blair’s children are you descended from?” Susan asked him.  “You don’t have any defining features that give it away.”

“Oh, you think this is my natural hair color?  And here I prided myself on my individual style!  Anyway, that’s a question best left unanswered, since you’ll live long enough to see much of your grandchildren’s lives.”  He noticed their disappointment.  “Hey, at least you know how far your line continues.  All of your lines, combined and individual.”

“Orion and Iris’ lines, you mean,” said Boyd.

“Yes.  You asked if they had descendants.  They do.  Both of them, here in Oasis Landing.  I’ll arrange for you to meet them.”

The Wainwrights were excited by that prospect.  “We can see Patrick’s descendants again, too, right?  Donovan, Benjamin, and Leilani?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“Why?” asked Boyd.

“Do they not live here in this timeline?”

Emit’s expression changed.  “They, ah, don’t live in this timeline at all.”

Boyd and Susan exchanged shocked looks.  “What?”

“What do you mean?”

“They don’t exist anymore,” Emit explained.  “When you went back and changed things in the timeline, that was one of the changes.  Patrick’s entire line.”



“You’re saying we erased them from existence?”  Boyd was horrified, and Susan was upset.

“What did we do?  We were trying to make things better for our descendants, not… not kill them!”

“You didn’t kill them,” Emit reassured them.  “You can’t kill someone that never technically came into existence.”

“Kill them, delete them, same difference!” Boyd said, distressed.  “They did exist.  We talked to them, spent time with them.  We knew them and remember them.  Plum, we even have pictures of them!”

“They were good people.  We liked them.  They mattered to us.”

“By the Watcher, Benjamin was fifteen!  He had his whole life ahead of him.”

“And he still does, in a parallel timeline,” Emit told them.  “This is a natural consequence of time travel.  Time splinters and fractures.  They still exist in that alternate timestream, but it’s not a part of your timeline anymore.  That timeline ceased to exist for you when you changed the past from the trajectory it was on to the trajectory we realigned it to.”

Susan frowned.  “So, in essence, you’re saying they were already as good as gone when we met them, knowing the changes you’d planned to make?”

“I hadn’t confirmed it, but I more or less expected it, yes.”

Boyd raised an eyebrow.  “And that, I imagine, is why you’d rather not tell us if you’re descended from Chris or Travis, lest we say or do something when we go back that affects your direct descendant.”

“I do take precautions to prevent my accidental removal from my timeline, yes,” Emit admitted.

Susan met his eyes with a harsh look.  “Then how can you be so casual about their removal?”



“I’m not.”  Emit did his best to put them at ease.  “Look, I can see how this seems cold or callous to someone who hasn’t been doing it for decades, but it’s how time alteration works.  They aren’t dead, and you didn’t kill them, but I understand it might feel that way.  Believe me, they’re alive and well in that alternate timeline.  I know it’s jarring, knowing someone that technically never existed.  It’s like having a piece of a puzzle in your hand, ready to place, but the design changes to a different picture in a blink of an eye, so now that piece can never fit.  But you still have that misfit piece.  You can see it, feel it, and touch it.  You know it once fit, even if it doesn’t now.  Eventually, you learn to just put those pieces back in the box.  You don’t have to forget them, but you do have to accept that they’re not a part of your puzzle anymore, and won’t ever fit again, not without scrapping the big picture in front of you.”

“But you’re still here.  Blair’s line didn’t change with our changes.  Why did Patrick’s?” asked Boyd.  “What did we do so differently with him?”

“We’ve given him the best life we could, and I’d like to think we still would have even if we never met you.  How could his descendants be gone, and not better off, with how much better off we are?”

“But they are better off,” said Emit.  “I never said he had no descendants, I said that the ones you knew were gone.  Blair’s timeline, my timeline, was established when I came to you.  She’d left the nest, so to speak, and was on her own path.  Nothing you did was going to change that, at that point.  Patrick, on the other hand, was a toddler back then.”

Susan and Boyd listened while Emit continued.

“Your Patrick has grown up as the child of millionaires, living in a mansion with wealth and privilege and opportunity.  The experiences he’s had in that life, the others he’s met, are all different from the experiences of the Patrick who grew up on Maywood Lane with the Boyd and Susan Wainwright who never met me.  That Patrick spent his boyhood and teen years watching Orion be born only to be a sickly, weak child that needed constant protection from you both.  He saw his father drawn into increasingly ill health and paranoia that compounded it.  He grieved for Orion when he succumbed to illness, and lost you, Boyd, less than a year later.  He watched his mother withdraw and become increasingly bitter in her own grief, and bury herself in her work only to have Landgraab Industries steal the credit for everything you two achieved.  That Patrick didn’t and couldn’t become the same person as your Patrick.  They didn’t live the same life, meet the same people, love the same lovers, or have the same children, so on down the line.  Donovan and Benjamin don’t exist because that Patrick doesn’t exist anymore.  Leilani, she does, but not in Oasis Landing.  She only ever moved here when she fell in love with Donovan.  Without him, she has no connection to your family or here.  She’s a stranger to you now.”



“I’m not sure how to feel about that.  I can’t deny I’m glad we didn’t live that life, but Benjamin and Donovan, that their fate is tied to it…”  Boyd sighed.  “I know I sound like my idealistic daughter, and I know life isn’t, but… that just doesn’t seem fair.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Susan agreed.

“It’s the law of nature and time.  For some to exist, others can’t, and vice versa.  I imagine the descendants Patrick has now would be very grateful you made the choices you did.  But I get it.  I still have data about your previous descendants in the almanac.  I can have a memorial made for them.  A reminder that to some of us, at least, they did exist, and can be remembered.”

“Thank you,” said Susan.  “That means a lot.”

“Would you like to meet these descendants of Patrick’s?”

Boyd and Susan looked at each other.  They had similar thoughts—they were curious, but also hesitant.  The notion of meeting someone that might not exist the next time they returned was unsettling.  “What are the odds that they’re… permanent?” asked Susan.

“Since you asked, the truth is about fifty-fifty.  Patrick’s not an adult yet; some of his personality is still developing.  This timeline reflects the most likely course of events, given his life now, and assuming you two don’t unexpectedly change what’s been projected.  Orion and Iris, well… they’re both much younger, and while I know Orion does the things I need him to do with how you’ve raised him, his personal life, well, that could change depending on a number of factors.”

The Wainwrights considered the situation, and came to the same conclusion.  They had not come to the future to not find out the future of their family.  “We’ll meet them.”

“All of them,” Boyd added.

“I thought you would.”  Emit pulled out the almanac and sent information to Boyd and Susan’s device.  “There you go.  Three households, all local, one from each line.”



As they looked it over, one thing stood out immediately.  Although Orion and Iris’ descendants were both named Wainwright, the last name of Patrick’s was different, but familiar.  “Wolff?  Patrick’s descendants are named Wolff?”  Boyd and Susan exchanged a look.

“For how many generations?” asked Susan.

“How many would you guess, knowing who Patrick spends his time with?”

“So, he is pretty serious about Maria,” Boyd mused.  “Guess he found ‘the one’ young.”

Susan smirked.  “Some might call that a family pattern.  Boyd and I met in high school, too.  So did Blair and Cycl0n3, though they took a little more complicated route.”

“Some might call having Blair as young as we did ‘complicated,’ too,” remarked Boyd.

“Perhaps, but we’re not talking about your mother, may the Watcher rest her… opinionated soul.”

Emit laughed.  “I think that’s the first time either of you mentioned one of my one step greater grandparents.  Sometime I’ll have to sit you down for stories on both pairs.  I love a bit of family history, especially colorful stuff that doesn’t make it into records!  For now, though, I’ll let you get to meeting your descendants.”  He waved and headed inside.



“I wonder why they went with the maternal surname for the kids,” Susan said as she and Boyd left the Oasis Landing Community Center.  “In our time that’s still not as common as the traditional husband’s name route.”

“Maybe they never got married, or maybe he took her name.  Didn’t the Landgraabs do that?”

“They’re divorced now, but yes.  That was a case of marrying into super-wealthy old money, though.  But we’re rich now, too.  Just newer money.”

“Could be just that Maria wanted to stay a Wolff, and it was more practical for the kids to have the mother’s name, or maybe Patrick thought it sounded better on stage,” Boyd theorized.  “They’re both into the music and performing thing.  You have to admit that Wolff is more of a badass guitar sounding kind of name than Wainwright.”

“As long as it’s not because he’s embarrassed by us,” Susan said with a hint of disappointment.

“I doubt that.  It wasn’t personal against your family when you changed your name when we got married, or when Blair took Cycl0n3’s name.”

“Heh.  I still think that his internet name as a real life name is weird, but it’s Blair’s life.  At least the odd last name hasn’t hurt her career, and as far as I know, Chris hasn’t gotten too many wedgies over it.”



When they reached their descendant’s home, they were pleased to see it was a very high tech, upscale three floor home in a nice part of town.  This family was clearly wealthier than Donovan, Leilani, and Benjamin had been.  It seemed their success and money had indeed founded a better lifestyle for Patrick’s new descendants.

“Only two names here.  Helena Wolff and Penny Wolff.  Mother and daughter.”

“Let’s meet them.”  Susan rang the bell.

A tall woman with a strong build, hair and eyes the same color as Boyd’s, and Patrick and Susan’s skin tone answered the door.  Both Boyd and Susan noticed her resemblance to Patrick’s girlfriend, at least in facial structure.

“Guess he carries your hair gene after all,” Susan said under her breath.

“Well, if yours hid in Blair, mine can hide in Patrick.”

“Hello.  Can I help you?”

Susan and Boyd smiled at their descendant.  “Hi,” Susan greeted her.  “Do you know Emit Relevart?”

“I know of Emit Relevart.”  Her eyes went wide as she looked from Susan to Boyd.  “Wait… you’re not…?”

“Yup.  Time travel relatives.”  They knew from their previous visit to Oasis Landing that visitors like them were a known phenomenon, albeit a rare one that was considered a once in a lifetime lucky occurrence when it happened.

“Oh, holy spinning plumbobs!”  She waved them inside.  “Come in, come in!  This is so exciting.”  She turned toward the open stairs in the entryway.  “Penny!  Penny, come here!” she shouted, before returning her attention to the Wainwrights.  “My daughter, but you probably know that.  Wow!  I’m Helena, but you were probably told that as well.  Where are you from?  Or should I say when?”



Boyd and Susan answered her questions, and talked to her for a while.  They explained the time they were from, talked about their family, and got to know her.  Helena was quite enthused, and interrupted them only when her daughter, a girl of about nine, came into the room.  Penny was pleasant, although she seemed more intimidated by the idea of meeting them compared to her mother.  Helena was warm and personable, and had a sharp wit that was both lively and intelligent.

“This has been so fascinating,” Helena said.  “You said your son, Patrick, was—is—an artist as well as a musician?  I wish I could say we’ve got family heirloom artwork, but we don’t.  Even if any was passed down, not much of anything that wasn’t in vaults made it through the wasteland explosion, so old art from this region is super valuable these days.  If by some miracle we had any, my parents or grandfather probably would’ve sold it.  He hated art, said it was only good for making money.  I remember being told that there was some music written by one of my great to the x degree grandparents from back about as far as you’re from, but it’d have to be researched and verified.  The only confirmed works from your era that I know of offhand are Maria Wolff’s books.  She wrote several, but I was only ever able to recover the text of the two that were widely published.  Vice and Voice and Aquamarine.  Both fiction, a bit dramatic, but good reads, especially as period pieces of historical fiction.  It was said some of her characters were based on people she knew, but they say that about a lot of authors, so I have no idea if it’s actually true.”

“Could you share those files with us?” Susan asked.  “I’m curious.”

Boyd raised an eyebrow.  “Not worried about spoilers?”

“It’s fiction.  How would I know what might be based on reality or what’s pure imagination?  I don’t even know Maria that well.  Besides, as long as she never sees it…”

“Sure.  I’ll get it for you.  In the meantime, Penny, why don’t you show them our holo sprites?”

“Oh, I have a great holo sprite collection!”  Penny took her mother’s disc and got out hers, and she showed them off with enthusiasm.  Boyd and Susan chatted with her until Helena returned, and the four of them had a long discussion about family history, sharing anecdotes on both sides of their various time periods.  Before they left, the Wainwrights took pictures of Helena and Penny.  That way, no matter what changed when they went back to their time, they would have something to remember them by.



Their next stop was meeting Orion’s descendants, but as it turned out, they were not at home in their equally nice house.  Fortunately, the almanac had tracking technology.  Boyd found that both fascinating and unsettling if he thought on it too long, but it was useful.  It told them that Ronald Wainwright, the father, and his three children, Micah, Charity, and Markus, were all at Oasis Landing’s library.

Orion’s descendants were easy to spot.  It seemed that the alien DNA remained quite prominent over the generations, more so than they would have expected.  Boyd introduced himself to Ronald, who gasped in surprise.

“Boyd Wainwright.  Orion Wainwright’s human father.  Wow.  Incredible!  We all still look up to Orion Wainwright.  I mean, he was the first Earth Child of Sixam known to the world.  This is such an honor!”  He beamed.  “You look so… I’m sorry.  I know you were—are—human, but, well… you can very much see our Sixam blood.”

“It’s all right.  I think it’s fascinating how much you still look like Orion, though he’s got darker skin and less hair.  When he was a baby, we thought he might stay bald, but now as a kid he’s starting to get a touch of peach fuzz.  Not enough to call it hair yet.  He keeps it shaved or under a cap since it isn’t full like, well, yours or mine.”

“Sounds about right.  Adolescence is when those human hair genes tend to show for a first generation like him.  Us mixed bloods, sometimes it activates a little earlier.”  He gestured to the boy nearby, and then turned to Susan.  “You must be Susan Wainwright, then?  I know most of the family history; it’s a bit of a tradition for us.  We pass it down.  Seems that’s all I get right with the kids sometimes, but I do my best.”

“Yes, that’s me.  I’m surprised you’d say that about your children.  You’ve got three according to this, and if he’s yours, I’d say he looks like you’re doing fine.”  The nearby boy was thumbing through a book, but glancing over curiously.

Ronald’s voice took on a bitter note.  “Thank you.  I do my best, but raising them alone… well, their mother left.  Just took off with no warning to go back to Sixam.  With her kind, the purer ones.  We were too human for her.”  He frowned.  “Speciesist.  I should’ve seen it, really, but… well, I thought marrying a three-quarter hybrid would help keep the alien DNA strong, especially since I was already second generation since the last full blood Sixam married into the family.  Should’ve paid better attention to the warning signs of what she was really like, but she seemed perfect.  Too good to be true.”  He sighed.  “That’s what you get for being a sucker for love.”  He motioned to the boy.  “Micah.  Come meet your ancestors.  This is Boyd and Susan Wainwright, the human parents of Orion Wainwright.  Emit Relevart brought them here,” he said with a tone that underscored how important that was.  “Where are Charity and Markus?”



“Reading over there.”  Micah introduced himself and waved his siblings to come over.  “A pleasure to meet you, sir and ma’am.  I’m Micah.”

“It’s good to meet you, Micah.”  Boyd smiled at him.  “And we’re just extra removed grandparents.  No need to be formal.  You’re Orion’s family, which makes you family to us, even in what’s our distant future.”

“He’s about your age in our time,” Susan pointed out.  “He’s actually interested in the future technology.  Things you use every day.”

“It’s cool how you’re not-so-old for being so old,” the girl, Charity, said with wide-eyed excitement.  “Is it true that in the past you always had to shower with water and not sonic showers?”

“Yeah, and they didn’t have dream pods or food synthesizers, just beds like the cabins people camp in, and old stoves!” said Markus, the other boy.

“That’s soooo prehistoric!”  Charity was awed by such a thought.  “Micah likes old stuff like that, but he’s weird.”

“I could survive in the wild better than you two.  Markus can’t even make it to school without playing with his holo sprite.”

“To be fair, those holo sprites are pretty cool.”  Boyd pulled his out and showed it off.

“This is mine!”  Markus showed his.   “Check out my Esper!”

After playing with the holo sprites, Boyd and Susan chatted with the children and Ronald a while longer.  They were glad to see that in the current timeline, alien families like theirs were at least reasonably accepted in society.  Obviously, there were still some “speciesists” on both sides, but it made them proud to know that they had, and would, raise Orion to be the positive figure Emit told them he had to be.  They also found it curious that Orion’s descendants’ pride in their alien heritage was so strong that there was a family tradition going back many generations of partnering with other hybrids, which, in years beyond Boyd and Susan’s time, would become more common.  Ronald told them it was because their Sixam-born abilities became weak and eventually disappeared after too much human DNA mixed with it.  To some, that didn’t matter, and they married for love, regardless of their lover’s origin.  To others, especially ones who wanted to keep those abilities in their bloodline, they coordinated with other Earth Children of Sixam or even Sixam Ambassadors to arrange marriages.

When it was time to leave, Boyd and Susan took pictures, just like they had with Patrick’s descendants.  They left with the bittersweet feeling of being glad to have met and known them, but understood that it was likely the last time they would see them.  As Emit said, Orion was younger than Patrick, and that meant Ronald and his three children could easily end up as pieces of an old puzzle in an alternate timeline.



The final set of descendants to meet were Iris’.  Susan and Boyd were both excited and quite curious to meet them, as plantsims had a different reproductive mechanism than the traditional route.  They were also a little anxious knowing that of all of the descendants, these would be the ones most likely to change as Iris herself grew.  Considering that Emit had not even known Iris would come into existence, her future was the emptiest canvas.

“Looks like they’re living just as well as the others,” Boyd noted as they approached the house.

“I bet they’ve got a big greenhouse or that fertile astroturf they use for gardening here all over it,” Susan mused as she double-checked the almanac.  “Did you notice the father’s name is Patrick?  What a coincidence, huh?”

“Kind of fitting.  We named Patrick for our fathers, and Iris is your genetic plant-daughter.  Maybe they’ve kept that family name tradition going.”

Susan smiled as she thought about her long-gone father.  “Dad was a doctor, and he’d have been amazed by Iris if he could’ve met her.  I don’t know if he ever saw a plantsim.  I doubt one ever walked into his practice.”  She took a deep breath and rang the bell.

To their surprise, a young couple opened the door—a green man with facial structure remarkably similar to Susan’s, and a woman who bore no resemblance to anyone they knew.  It was clear which one was Iris’ descendant, although it was also clear that he was not a plantsim.  Both Susan and Boyd did a double-take.  Plantsims didn’t make hybrids, at least not as far as they knew.  So what exactly was this descendant of Iris’?

“Hi.  My name is Susan Wainwright.  Emit Relevart sent me to meet you.  I’m from the past.  I’m the one who grew Iris Wainwright, way back when.  Me and my husband Boyd, though it was my DNA in her seed.”

Both of them gasped.  “Iris Wainwright?  First seed of our family?  You’re her mother?  The ones who grew her?”  Patrick looked from Susan to Boyd, then back to Susan.  “Paige… pinch me.  Am I dreaming?”

“She really does look like you.  I can’t believe it.  Emit Relevart sent your ancestor!” the woman, Paige, gasped.  “If you’re dreaming, so am I!  This is wonderful!  Please, come in!”



Susan and Boyd discovered that Iris’ descendants were no longer plantsims, and that the last full plantsim in the family had been Patrick’s grandmother.  Her daughter, his mother, had been a scientist who experimented with the compound known to reverse the plantsim condition in those who changed into it from eating forbidden fruit.  Her tweaked version changed her plantsim physiology to more typically human, but allowed her to retain mild photosynthesizing abilities, hence the green skin.  It was a condition she’d passed to Patrick when she married and had a family the traditional way—a first for any of Iris’ direct line, to be born rather than grown.

“It’s quite useful, despite the odd looks I get.  I can go days without eating if I want.  That’s why I’m so thin.”

“But I like cobbler a lot, so that’s why I’m not,” Patrick’s son, a boy named Jarret, said with a grin.

“My human genes gave him quite a sweet tooth, even if he got Patrick’s chlorophyll advantage,” Paige pointed out.

Patrick nodded.  “Right.  Most plantsims can take or leave what food they might try.  I enjoy the taste of some of it, but it’s more like fuel to me.  The sun is honestly far more efficient, but there are some advantages.”  He laughed.  “Even if half the people we meet just assume we’re alien, like the other Wainwright family in town.”

“Who we’re not even related to,” Jarret added.  “But just because we have the same last name and we’re green, not even the same color green, they think we are.  People can be dumb.”

“You never know.  If you go back far enough, you might find some woodpile relation, if you’ll pardon the pun.”  Susan exchanged a knowing look with Boyd.  “But I’d say you both look quite a bit like Iris.”  She pulled out a picture and showed it to Patrick and Jarret.  “She’s still a very little girl in our time.  This is her.”

“Wow!  She was way more planty than we are, Dad.”

“Oh, yes.  That’s full blood plantsim, Jarr.  See how the hair is actually more like grass?”  He studied the picture.  “She looks so much like my grandma.  Those eyes, that nose.  It’s like a time warp mirror.”  Patrick went to a bookcase and retrieved a tablet that displayed pictures, and brought one up.  “This is Grandma Dahlia.  She was about, oh, twenty-two or so here?”

“She could be Iris, if you didn’t know better,” Boyd observed, and looked at Susan.  “Or you, green with yellow eyes.”

Susan nodded.  “Natural plantsim genetics.  They don’t change much without intervention, that’s for sure.”



Although they would have liked to visit longer, it was getting late, and both Wainwrights were tired.  They took memento pictures of Patrick, Jarret, and Paige, and left feeling both satisfied and optimistic about the future, but a little wistful.  It was rewarding to have met them, but awkward knowing that one random decision might mean they would end up in some other timeline, and not ever existing in theirs aside from their memories.

They were headed to the ZEPHYR stop when Emit messaged them.  The memorials for your previous descendants are up in Pleasant Meadows Cemetery.  Gotta love how fast plumbots work!

“That was fast,” Susan remarked.  “Want to head up there before we go back?”

“Yeah.  I’d like to go pay our respects… even if they’re not really dead.  You know.”

“I do.  Let’s go.”



Author’s Notes:  When I started writing it, I intended for the Oasis Landing trip to be only one chapter, but I didn’t want to rush through the descendants just to get it all in at once, so I split it.

It was a little disappointing that Iris’ descendants were just green sims, rather than plantsims, and I suspect it’s because the ITF descendant system doesn’t play well with occult states.  I know aliens work differently than the others, so I suppose they work better with it.  It also amused me that the descendant with the most children had the “dislikes children” trait!

Also, Patrick’s descendants being named Wolff rather than Wainwright wasn’t me taking creative liberties.  That was how the game generated them.  I like that it factored in his girlfriend, even though she’s not in the active household.  It was interesting that Helena had more of Maria’s genetics than Patrick’s, yet had Boyd’s hair and possibly eye color.  Morgana has the same color eyes as Boyd, so it could have pulled from her just as easily.  However, Maria has Thornton’s eye color, and Patrick has Susan’s, so go figure!



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Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #217 on: February 23, 2018, 12:24:26 AM »
How wonderful to hear that we still have another Oasis Landing chapter to look forward to!
I was struck by Emit's comment that Boyd and Susan look older--to me, they always seem to look just as youthful as Blair and Cycl0n3.

As for the "dislikes children" descendant, I guess you mean Ronald Wainwright? Ronald and his brood are very striking--I was sad when their visit ended, hehe.
I thought they had the most interesting story and personalities.

The pudginess of the semi-plantsim son Jarrett made me giggle some.

The more Emit avoid sharing the truth about his ancestry, the more I want to know.
This was such fascinating read, Cheesey!  Thank for explaining how the ITF descendant system has been playing out in your game.

Can't wait for part two!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 54
« Reply #218 on: March 01, 2018, 11:00:41 PM »
How wonderful to hear that we still have another Oasis Landing chapter to look forward to!
I was struck by Emit's comment that Boyd and Susan look older--to me, they always seem to look just as youthful as Blair and Cycl0n3.

The aging mod has actually changed and aged them, but it is subtle! Which is one of the things I like about it. If you're curious, I made a comparison picture of how they looked on their first Oasis Landing trip (when Patrick was a toddler, and they were EA default adults, which is a day 1 adult on the mod) and how they look now, more than halfway through the adult stage, with the mod aging them. Aging Comparison

That said, Blair and Cycl0n3 don't look all that much younger than Boyd and Susan because the tattoo reset in OL made them only about a week or so older in sim days than Cycl0n3, and Blair is just a couple days younger than him. Once they hit adult, the mod aged them, too, so they're subtly aging up with Boyd and Susan. The graying in Boyd and Blair's hair is easier to miss if you're not looking for it, because the gray streaks in those light hair colors aren't nearly as obvious as they are in ones like Susan and Cycl0n3's.

As for the "dislikes children" descendant, I guess you mean Ronald Wainwright? Ronald and his brood are very striking--I was sad when their visit ended, hehe.
I thought they had the most interesting story and personalities.

The pudginess of the semi-plantsim son Jarrett made me giggle some.

The more Emit avoid sharing the truth about his ancestry, the more I want to know.
This was such fascinating read, Cheesey!  Thank for explaining how the ITF descendant system has been playing out in your game.

Can't wait for part two!

Thank you! I hope you enjoy it. Ronald was indeed the dislikes children sim. He's a hopeless romantic, too, which is one of Eni Jish Xip's traits, so I guess that comes from her side.



Chapter 54



“So this is the future’s final resting place,” Boyd mused as he and Susan strode up to Pleasant Meadows Cemetery’s mausoleum.  “Funny how of all the places in Oasis Landing, this one feels the most like something from our time.  Even the landscaping, and the architecture.”

“Death is a constant.  I don’t imagine we change much in how we handle it, for the most part.”  Susan looked around thoughtfully.  “Though the holographic headstones are a futuristic touch.  Imagine if we could get buried with those?”

“While they’d look cool in Pleasant Rest Graveyard, I’d rather not think about us lying there anytime soon.”  Boyd paused.  “You know, the landscape has changed, but… if this is where Sunset Valley was, in theory, we’d be buried here.  At least if we go by the time theory that it’s already predestined that we went back.  Our decomposing bodies are wherever we ended up buried.  Probably Pleasant Rest, unless one of the kids kept our urns in the basement.”

“Now that seems fitting for you.  Stored eternally with all your old computer parts you wouldn’t toss while you were alive,” Susan teased.

“Is that better or worse than being buried in the backyard like Gunther was, with his and Cornelia’s parents?”

Susan raised an eyebrow.  “Depends on if you haunt the place and make it creepy or not.  But I’ll say less, if only because by the time you die, there’d be so much junk, your ghost would never get past it all to scare anyone.”



A plumbot working inside the mausoleum directed them to the memorials that had been set up, and the Wainwrights’ mood turned somber once again.  When they approached, motion sensors came to life and projected images of Benjamin and Donovan.  It brought home the reality that they had been real, at least to them, despite technically having not existed to anyone else around them but Emit.  It overwhelmed them, and they grieved, for the lives that in this timeline, their descendants never got to lead.

After saying goodbye to Donovan and Benjamin, and giving a warm thought to the Leilani that existed elsewhere, but would not know them now, Boyd and Susan headed back to the Oasis Landing Community Center.



“What a day, huh?  This morning, I was helping Patrick with his driver’s test, and we were bumming around with Orion and Iris by the pool.  I never imagined we’d end up here tonight.”

“And if we went back now, we’d have to stay up another ten to twelve hours,” Susan said with a yawn.  “They don’t even know we’re gone, because no time has passed for them.”

“Yeah.  Time traveling really messes with your own sense of time.”

“How long do you think we should stay?  I know the kids will be fine, but it feels strange being away too long.”

“There’s plenty I’d like to see and do while we’re here, but I agree.  I don’t want our sense of time to get too out of whack with the present.  That can’t be good for anyone involved.  What do you think about one more day, or half a day?”

Susan considered for a moment.  “If we can get some good quality sleep in the dream pod, we could probably stay another day, head home in the early evening here, and only be a few hours behind on sleep when we go back to afternoon at home.  Assuming Emit doesn’t have some other project for us.”

“Right.  You never know with him.  We’ll have to ask in the morning.”

“Sounds good.”  Susan stretched.  “So, would you like to share a dream on the pod, since we’re here?” she asked flirtatiously.

Boyd put his arm around her.  “A nice cozy one?”

“Mmm.  Absolutely.  Something very fulfilling and restful.”

He smoothed his hand down her back and kissed her.  “You pick, and I’ll join you in dreamland.”



The efficient rest of the dream pod had Boyd and Susan awake again bright and early.  They grabbed a synthesized breakfast, Eggs Machiavellian for Susan, and a bowl of sugary Fruti Bobs for Boyd.  Afterward, they learned that Emit was asleep and would probably be for a while because he’d pulled an almost all-nighter working on one of his projects.  They decided to use their free time to check out the Nuts n’ Bolts Bot Emporium.  There was no better place to learn about plumbot tech than a bot shop that built, bought, and sold them on a daily basis.

“Imagine if we could build one of these in our time, Susan!  Even one with simple programs, though I’d love to make one with its own real A.I.!”

“I’d like one that likes to clean and maintain the pool, so we can cancel that maid service.  A plumbot would follow directions well enough to stay out of the rooms we tell it to, leave things alone it’s supposed to, and vacuum all of Iris’ shed petals.”

“Anything that means less cleaning is okay in my book.”

Susan smirked.  “I’m shocked.  Truly.”



Since it was early, the shop was all but deserted aside from the plumbot staffing the counter.  “Greetings.  How may I be of assistance to you?”

“Hi.  We’re new to plumbot building and operation,” Boyd answered.  “What services do you have here?  What do you recommend?”

“Beep!  We supply a wide variety of fully functional plumbots, the largest selection of trait chips in Oasis Landing, and a full stock of charging stations, parts, accessories, nanites, processors, and tools.  Our building stations are equipped with state of the art technology and cutting-edge software for nanite and chip design, and feature every customization option available for plumbots of all types.”

“Impressive.”  Susan glanced over at the bot building station.  “Those look similar to the one Emit gave us.”

“I bet he got it from here.”

“Where can we see your plumbots?  Do you manufacture them here?”

“Beep!  Some plumbots are created in-house by our top-rated designers, and others were custom built by members of the community.  All features, trait chips, design notes, rating, and creator information for each plumbot for sale are listed on their displays.  We are happy to answer any questions you might have, and personally guarantee the quality rating of every plumbot sold by Nuts n’ Bolts Bot Emporium, or your money back!”

“Cool.  Good to know,” said Boyd.

“Let’s go check out what they’ve got.”



Susan and Boyd browsed the plumbots on display.  There were several different designs, each with different chips and builds clearly marketed to different demographics.  Although even the lowest grade plumbot at Nuts n’ Bolts was far beyond anything from their time, there were none that appealed to either of them enough to buy.  Although they could learn quite a bit from a prebuilt bot, they knew they would end up reverse engineering it at some point, to learn more about how they worked.  It felt wasteful to buy a plumbot and destroy it, so they decided to focus on learning as much as they could about the bot building process instead.



While Susan checked out the shop’s demo machine, and compared its stats, data banks, and features to the ones on their machine back home, Boyd returned to the counter.

“Beep!  May I help you?”

“Yes.  Show me everything you’ve got as far as bot building instructional manuals go.”

The plumbot produced a tablet.  “For beginner bot building, we recommend Integrated Circuits and You.  For the intermediate bot builder, the best seller is A.I. for Dummies.  If you are looking for advanced skill level, the manual In Case of Uprising… is the most highly rated guide on the market.”

“Wonderful.  I’ll take one of each.  Oh, and nanites and processors.  I’m going to need a stock of them, too.”

“Right this way, sir.”



After the Wainwrights loaded up and paid for their digital haul of guides, software updates, and crates full of nanites and other plumbot building supplies, they left Nuts n’ Bolts Bot Emporium enthused about their newest project.

They tried to check in with Emit, but he didn’t answer.  “Guess he’s still asleep,” said Susan.  “Might as well do a little more sightseeing here in Oasis Landing, then.”

“I’d suggest catching a show at the bot arena, but I’m sure they’re not running at this hour.”

“No.  Too bad.”  Susan was disappointed.  “Hey, what about that place over by the synthesized food café?  It looked kind of like a future mall.  Maybe we could get a couple of swanky toys to take back with us, or something for the kids?  Nothing that we’d have to say came from the future, just like harmless high tech fun stuff.”

“Yeah, let’s do that.  We shouldn’t get to keep all the goodies for ourselves.”



Although there were a lot of interesting things in the EP-XI Imports Gallery, and money wasn’t a concern, the practicality of getting things through the portal, and how to explain it back home factored in.  Installing the bot building station had been a logistical challenge, so things like dream pods and futuristic cars, while appealing, would have to wait for some other time.

“This is a pretty cool stereo, but I’m not sure I want to replace ours with it, futuristic or not.”

“I was considering this TV over here, but it’ll probably just highlight how primitive our own time’s media quality is in comparison.”

On another display, they found holo sprite discs, and picked up several of them.  They were small and portable, and they knew without a doubt that Orion would love it, and figured their other children and grandchildren would as well.  Knowing Blair, she would probably enjoy the cute sprites more than her own children.

There was a digital art easel on another station, which they agreed would be perfect for Patrick.  It was bulky, but workable, and it was the sort of future tech that wouldn’t spoil much about the future.  They imagined he would create some amazing pieces on it.



After getting the easel, they spotted a display for musical instruments.  There were some traditional style models in a futuristic design, but there was also something they’d never seen before.  “Laser Rhythm-a-Con?” Susan read aloud.  “Is that music played on lasers?”

“Is there a demo?” asked Boyd.  “That sounds cool!”

“It does.  Let’s see.”  Susan read the information on the digital display out loud.  “The sparkling new Laser Rhythm-a-Con is a new approach to the ancient language of music, manipulated through laser controls.

“Laser music?  Oh, we have to grab one of those.  The units aren’t even that big, and Patrick would be all over it.”

“And then we’ll be hearing laser riffs instead of guitar riffs at all hours.  But I agree.  Let’s get it for him.”



Now with even more stuff to tote through the portal, Boyd and Susan figured they should stop before they got overloaded.  They left the gallery and returned to the community center.  When they arrived, Boyd saw a familiar robotic face in the lobby.  “Delta!”

The yellow robot bleeped in recognition.  “Boyd Wainwright, time guest of Emit Relevart!  It is good to see you again.”  She scanned him.  “You appear to have aged more than the comparatively short time ago that we met.  Are you on a different time trip?”

“Yeah.  It’s been a while for me.  Susan, this is Delta.  She’s the first plumbot I met when I came here, and was very welcoming.  Delta, this is my wife, Susan.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Susan Wainwright.”  Delta gave her a scan.  “It is always a pleasure to meet Emit Relevart’s guests.  Have you encountered other plumbots like me yet?”

“I have, thank you.  It’s nice to meet you, too, Delta.  Boyd showed me your picture after our trip here last time.  I’m sorry I missed meeting you on my first visit.  What are your functions?”

She beeped.  “Susan, my primary functions are as follows: Office Drone, Efficient, Friendly Functions.  I am standing by and awaiting your instructions.”

“No instructions now, unless you know where we can find Emit?  We were hoping to talk to him.”

“Emit Relevart is on the premises.  I last saw him taking in nutrition in the dining area forty-two minutes ago.”

“Great.  Thanks!”

“Yeah, it was good seeing you again, Delta,” said Boyd.

“It was good to see you again, too.  Have a nice day!”



When they got upstairs, Emit was no longer in the dining area, but a growl in their stomachs reminded them that it had been hours since breakfast.  “Might as well grab something while we’re here.  What are you in the mood for?” asked Boyd.

“Mmm, synthesize me some dim sum.  I’m in the mood for a favorite.”  Susan relaxed at the table while Boyd worked the food synthesizer.

“Sure.”  Boyd ordered the plate, and then perused the options for himself.  “Nutrition cube?  I wonder what that’s supposed to be?”

“Sounds like some futuristic sport protein bar or something.”

“Well, I’ll give it a try in the name of science.  What the heck.”  He punched it in, and a large purplish-blue gelatin-like cube appeared on a plate before him.

Susan side-eyed Boyd’s plate as they sat down to eat.  “That looks like a jello mold from one of those vintage cookbooks gone horribly wrong.”

“Let’s see how it tastes.”  Boyd dug his fork in, and lifted a wobbling bite to his mouth.  He tasted it, and shrugged.  “Kind of berry-ish.  Sweet.  Creamier than it looks.  Not bad, really.”

“I’ll take your word for it.  Do you feel energized and nourished?”

“I guess.  Not enough to go work out, though.  Want to try a bite?”

“That’s all right.  I think I’m plenty nourished with my dim sum.”



After lunch, the Wainwrights went up to the upper levels of the community center to see if they could find Emit, but were distracted by a high tech multi-tier holo chess table.  Susan’s eyes lit up like a snowflake day tree.  “Oh, Boyd!  Come play a game with me.”

He chuckled.  “The Grandmaster wants to stomp me in the future, huh?”

“I won’t stomp you.  Just… grind your army under my heel into absolute submission,” she said with a wink as they sat down.

“Well, in that case, be gentle.  It’s my first time.  At least on a multi-level futuristic platform.”

The two of them enjoyed a fun game that lasted longer than either anticipated.  They went back and forth, but eventually, Susan’s expertise led her to a decisive victory.

“Congratulations,” said Boyd.  “That was a sound thrashing.  I don’t think I’ve ever been defeated by air pawns at chess before.”  One of her fatal moves had been to take a rook vital to his strategy from a pawn that he hadn’t noticed on a level above the board he was focused on.

“I’ve never done that before.  Good game, honey.”



They finally caught up with Emit after their chess match.  It was already late in the day, and although they were enjoying their time in the future, they had to leave soon.  “Hey, you two!  How’s it going?  Did you get to meet your descendants?”

“We did,” said Susan.  “It was nice to see how well off they all were.  Even if they’re not the same, it’s nice to know our success not only helped us, but future generations, too.”

“We also saw the memorials for Donovan and Benjamin.  Thanks for putting them up.”

“No problem.  Glad you like how your changes affected things, for the most part.  You’ve both been a big help to me.  More than you know.”

“We’re glad we could help,” said Boyd.

“Thanks for having us back here.  Is there anything else we need to do or know before we go?”

Emit gave them a curious look.  “Oh, you’re leaving already?  I didn’t expect that.  Especially considering all the shopping you did.”  He gestured to the pile of stuff they’d purchased gathered on the landing.



“It’s not that we haven’t enjoyed it,” Boyd assured him.  “There’s so much to do and learn here that we could easily spend weeks or months, left to our own devices.”

“But we don’t want to get too out of touch with our time back home, and we’ve got our lives there, too.”

“If you need us for something, we could probably stay a bit longer to help, but—”



“No, nothing like that.  This was just a check-in and social visit.  I’ve seen how you two did, so I figured I’d invite you back to take a peek at it yourselves.”  He grinned.  “I have a feeling you’re going to do a few more interesting things to the timeline with that stuff over there.  Part of me wants to go through it and make sure you don’t have anything I should confiscate, but what the heck!  I’m a scientist, too, so here’s to a little experimenting.  Besides, it’s not like Wainwright Industries didn’t pioneer the field of plumbotics.  I already gave you a bot station to play with, so what’s a few more manuals and nanites, right?”

“I do wish we’d had a bit more time to talk with you, though,” lamented Susan.  “Maybe swap a story or two.”

“Well, one thing I’ve always got is more time, so don’t worry about that.  We’ll get that chance.  I promise.”

“Any idea when we can expect to hear from you again once we go back?” asked Boyd.

Emit shook his head.  “That’s impossible to guess without seeing what happens once you go back through that portal, but you will see me again.  Count on that.”

Susan raised an eyebrow.  “Before we’re too old, I hope?  Don’t get me wrong, I know you already bought us a lot of time with the treatment we got here last time, but…”

“You know, now that I think on it, it’s probably not doing you any favors staying too long in the radiation this many years later.”  Emit gave them a sheepish look.  “I didn’t factor in how much the potency would’ve diminished over the time on your end.  Don’t worry, though.  A short visit like this won’t hurt, especially since you’re not out in the wasteland.  But I’ll keep it in mind for next time.  So, I guess this is goodbye for now, great-to-the-eight Grandma and Grandpa.”  He gave them each a hug, and summoned a plumbot to load their stuff through the portal ahead of them.  “Good luck, and go do some crazy incredible things.”



“That’s the goal.”  Susan smiled.  “Take care, Emit, and thanks.”

“We’ll do our best to keep it interesting for you,” Boyd said as the plumbot returned through the portal empty-handed.

Emit laughed, and gave them a parting wave.  “I wouldn’t expect anything less.  I’ll be in touch.”

The Wainwrights waved back.  They took one last look at Emit and Oasis Landing’s evening sky, and returned through the portal to just three minutes past when they left.  The plumbot had piled their new future acquisitions neatly on the floor by the bot building machine.

“Home again,” Susan said as she and Boyd hugged one another.



The portal deactivated behind them, and Boyd pondered what they’d just experienced with amazement.  “What a trip, huh?”

“I’ll say!  It’s a lot to process.”  Susan was also deep in thought about it all, and she looked over at their pile of new stuff.  “And a lot to do.  It’s hard to know where to start with so many ideas.  Well, besides getting back into something a little more this century.”  She smoothed her hand down her futuristic outfit.  “I’d rather not explain these clothes to the kids.”

“No, me neither.  We can get changed, then sort this stuff tonight and maybe give them the gifts tomorrow.  If they ask where we got it, we could say it’s stuff the development shop at the lab came up with.”  He paused as his conscience reminded him about their promise not to lie to them.  “Though I guess that’s not really in the spirit of our agreement with them about this kind of thing.”

Susan considered.  “Technically, we could make the case that it’s not really a lie.  It’s possible the future version of Wainwright Industries contributed to technology they were made with.”

“That’s close enough for government work.”  Boyd paused.  “Not that I ever trust the government, in general, but you know what I mean.”

Susan nodded, feeling the same stab of guilt.  “Still, it’s probably better if we just tell them it came from the mysterious ‘unconventional source’ and leave it at that, if they ask.”

Boyd agreed.  “I’m good with that.”



Susan and Boyd changed their clothes and went back out to the patio having only been gone a short time.  Everything was in place and normal, just like it should be.  Orion was still in the pool, and Iris was on the patio.  Patrick was keeping an eye on them both while sketching in a notebook.  “Oh, hey,” he greeted them as they came out.

“Aw, you’re not coming back in the pool?”  Orion was disappointed.

“Nah.  We’re kind of swimmed-out for now.”  Susan had almost forgotten that they’d left in their dripping wet bathing suits.

“Well, I’m going to stay in.  I’ve been perfecting my cannonball!”

Patrick looked up.  “Yeah, perfecting the splash radius.  Check it out.”  He gestured to the large wet patch around the diving board.  “By the way, I’m going out with Maria later and taking my car.”

“That’s fine.  Remember it’s a school night, though,” said Boyd.  “Be back by 10.”

“I know.”



Iris called out, and Susan picked her up, snuggling her just a little bit closer after the time away from her.  She remembered Patrick, her not-quite-a-plantsim descendant, and little Jarret, and wondered if they and the descendants of Patrick and Orion would be there the next time they saw Oasis Landing.  Boyd’s thoughts were similar as he looked from Patrick, to Orion, and then to Susan and Iris.  They had seen and learned a lot in the future, and now, once again, it was up to them to make something of it.  They looked forward to doing just that.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #219 on: March 01, 2018, 11:30:29 PM »
Thank you for the comparison shots, Cheezey!
I would never have noticed the subtle changes in their facial lines and such, otherwise.

Emit and his mysterious secrets! I'm dying to know what he does, what all he knows, and why said that Susan and Boyd were helping him more than they realized.
I wish Susan and Boyd could stop ageing altogether, hehe.
Since none of their children seem to be aspiring scientists (Orion maybe?), all of Susan and Boyd's hard work might end with their generation. That would be such a waste!

Another fascinating update!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 55
« Reply #220 on: March 08, 2018, 03:06:28 AM »
Thank you for the comparison shots, Cheezey!
I would never have noticed the subtle changes in their facial lines and such, otherwise.

Emit and his mysterious secrets! I'm dying to know what he does, what all he knows, and why said that Susan and Boyd were helping him more than they realized.
I wish Susan and Boyd could stop ageing altogether, hehe.
Since none of their children seem to be aspiring scientists (Orion maybe?), all of Susan and Boyd's hard work might end with their generation. That would be such a waste!

Another fascinating update!

Thank you! I'm glad you liked the comparison.

It's hard for me, too knowing how close Boyd and Susan are getting to elder, and the inevitable Grim visit. I wouldn't discount there being no scientists in the next generation, though. Even though Blair and Patrick are on different paths, their two youngest children are essentially science experiments themselves, and both have innate talents that work well in that career. ;)



Chapter 55



While her parents took their unexpected trip to the future, Blair’s focus was firmly in the here and now.  Her hard work and dedication paid off, and she had finally been promoted to the elite Vice Squad.  She was one step closer to her dream job, and she was thrilled.  “Congratulations, girl!” Justine told her when she caught up with her on her first day in the new position.  Blair hadn’t worked directly with Justine for a while now.  After Justine had been promoted to the forensics team, Blair was assigned another supervisor.

“Thanks!  I’m so excited for the chance to work on these high-profile cases.”

“I bet.  I hear you’ll be working with Goddard again.  It’ll be just like the old days, huh?”

“Yeah.  Except without reporting to you.”

“My team does a lot with yours, so it’s not like we’ll be strangers.  In fact, I’ll be going over some stuff with you and Goddard in a bit.  See you in a few.  I’m going to re-caffeinate.”



Blair found Hank at his desk.  “Hey, Hank!”

He got up and gave her a big hug.  “Blair!  Welcome to the team.  It’s great to work with you again!  How’ve you been?”

“Pretty good.  And you?”

“Not bad.  Same old, same old.  Work hard, play hard.  You know me.”  He grinned.  “How’s the family?  Cycl0n3 and Chris and the baby?  He must be getting big, huh?”

“They’re great, and oh, yes, Travis is getting real big.  They grow so fast.  He’s got a birthday coming up, and Chris is a teenager now.”

“A teenager?  You’re kidding me.  Wow!  Time flies.  Hopefully Bunch and Langerak won’t end up busting him at any parties.  You know how kids that age are.”

Blair laughed.  “Oh, if Chris gets busted at that kind of party, he’ll be busted.  Officer Mom isn’t as lenient as you might think.”

“I don’t doubt it.  Married to Cycl0n3, someone’s got to lay down the law in your house,” Hank said with a grin.

“Yeah, pretty much.  Hey, I think this is the first time I’ve seen you at your desk in ages.”

Hank nodded.   “Vice keeps you busy, with minimal desk time.  Which is fine by me!  Lately, I’ve been undercover a lot.  That’s how we spend a lot of our time.  Hope you won’t mind that.”

“Not at all.  I think it sounds exciting.  I can’t wait!”



“Good, because we’ll have our hands full.  I was just reading up on our case, the one they’re breaking you in on.”

“What’s it about?  Is it the one Justine said she’d be going over with us?”

“Yup.”  Hank looked up.  “You’ve heard of the Golden Llama, right?”

Blair raised an eyebrow.  “The vigilante?  Of course.”  Everyone on the SVPD had heard of the Golden Llama, an individual, or possible group of individuals, that targeted individuals they thought needed to be taught “the golden rule,” usually by force.  While the Golden Llama obviously had a mind for justice and good intentions, it was not up to whoever it was to go around the justice system, so the SVPD was on alert to find and stop them.  Blair had never seen the Golden Llama, but she’d heard the stories.

Hank leaned back in his chair.  “That’s our case.  They want us to find and catch the Llama.”

“Wow!”

Justine came over with her coffee in hand.  “Come on back.  I’ll bring you up to speed on everything we’ve got so far.”



Blair and Hank followed Justine to the briefing room, where she started off with some background.  “We’ve got a number of reports on this perp.  Whoever it is has been seen most often in this part of town, although there’s been sightings pretty much everywhere in Sunset Valley.  Some from reliable sources, others,” she shrugged, “we’ll say a little more questionable.”

She picked up a file.  “Our perp is most often described as a light-skinned man of average height with a muscular build, wearing a black and gold super-hero kind of outfit, with a dark red or maroon cape, and a helmet that obscures his features and hair.  No concrete idea of age, although we’d say most likely twenties to forties.  If he’s older than that, he’s in exceptional shape for his age.  Hair is probably short, since it’s under a helmet, though it could be tied back.  No facial hair.”

Justine set out a sketch and some blurry photos of a costumed individual taken from the city hall cameras at a distance.  “These are what we’ve got.  Nobody has any idea who it is, and when he’s on a vehicle, it’s either a motorcycle or a what’s most likely a black Yoshimoto Evasion.  No plates on either.”

“What about the rumors that it’s more than one perp?” asked Hank.  “I read on one of the cases, one witness said it was a woman?”

“Yes. That would be Victoria Andrews.  She claimed she saw a woman, not a man, in a Golden Llama costume jump down from the telephone pole in front of Claire Ursine’s house, and speed off on a motorcycle.  Later, Ursine reported that someone stole all the hubcaps off her car, the same ones hung up on a peg at the top of the phone pole, with a note attached that said, ‘How’d you like having yours stolen, Claire?  Remember, Do Unto Others.’  All typed.”



“But most of the other reports say it’s a man?” Blair asked, taking notes.

“Yes.  That’s the most consistent description.  That’s what Xander Clavell described when he filed charges against his assailant, who accosted him at the corner of Sunnyside and Main.  He self-identified as the Golden Llama.”

“What’d he do to Clavell?”

“Roughed him up on his way home from work at Outstanding.  Clavell was a bit fuzzy on details, but the responding officer got the impression the Llama probably robbed him.  Clavell didn’t say that, but he seemed angry, and we suspect the only reason he didn’t complain was because whatever he took from Clavell wasn’t Clavell’s to begin with.  In Clavell’s words, the Llama said the usual line about doing unto others and asked how he liked it.  Clavell claimed he had no idea what ‘that crazy weirdo’ was talking about.”

“Hah.”  Hank scoffed.  “I’m sure.  Clavell might be the victim this time, but he’s been a lowlife for years.”

“Yeah, you said it,” agreed Blair.  “Though this Golden Llama can’t just go around beating up citizens, lowlife or not.”

“Agreed, which is why we’ve got to get him off the streets,” said Justine.  “There was a second report of the woman this morning, chasing after some attempted purse snatcher, according to the witness.  She’s either a copycat or a member of some gang he’s formed.  Nobody filed charges or reported anything else, other than the anonymous tip, but neither scenario is good.”

“No kidding.  Someone’s going to get hurt.”



“One might argue that Clavell already did, though it was just a couple of bruises.”  Justine pointed to another spot on the map.  “Most recently, one of our favorite local bad boys, VJ Alvi, got it a little worse.  The Golden Llama cornered him at Lofty Cerulean Pool last night and accused him of mugging someone.  He took it upon himself to whoop his plumbob, and it got ugly.  VJ had a knife.  They fought, and I guess the Llama got it away from him, and Alvi was the only one who got cut.  Slashed across the hand when he tried to get his blade back.  The Llama warned him and gave the same old ‘golden rule’ line and said he’d better be more careful with sharp objects in the future.”  Justine shook her head.  “Alvi ended up needing stitches, and for once he was in here trying to file assault charges against someone else, instead of the other way around.  As luck would have it, the only DNA on the knife was Alvi’s.  Nothing to identify the Llama.”

Hank laughed.  “So, our best lead is from VJ Alvi?  Now there’s the award for most unlikely star witness.  He’s got the longest rap sheet in town.”

Blair couldn’t help but remember back when VJ was a teen, and she’d busted him for vandalism and took him home to his father.  Sadly, he never mended his ways, and had gotten much worse over the years.

“That’s what prompted the higher-ups to prioritize this case.  We can’t let some vigilante run amok putting people in the hospital.”

“No.  We’ll get him,” Hank assured Justine.

Blair agreed, determined.  “And anyone else working with him, too.”



After Justine was finished, Blair and Hank discussed strategy.  “Where do you think we should start?”

“Somebody’s got to know who this guy and the copycat or accomplice are.  Sunset Valley’s not that big a town, and it’s got a big gossip mill.  But a lot of people like the superhero ideal.  They’re not going to help turn in someone they think is fighting the good fight.”

“Are you thinking undercover work?”  Blair was excited at that prospect.

“Not yet, but we should start low key.  We might want to start sniffing around the kind of places the people the Golden Llama targets tend to be.”

Blair raised an eyebrow.  “So, seedy places?”

“Yeah, but somehow I think sweet Officer Sw0rd might stick out a bit anywhere too seedy.  You even looked out of place at Mick’s,” Hank teased.  “But we can work on that.”

“Oh, come on.  I’m not that bad!”

“Nah, not really.  But we can agree that looking seedy doesn’t come naturally to you, right?” Hank said with a wink.  “Me, on the other hand?  I have to work at the respectable thing, wild man that I am.”

Blair laughed.  “You clean up just fine, Hank.  I’ve seen it.  But how about this?  VJ Alvi’s run-in with the Llama was at the lofts.  Nobody would think twice about me visiting Tam and Parker.  It’s too bad Parker was on duty last night and wasn’t home.  He might’ve seen him.”

“If the Llama’s smart, he’d make sure he knew where the cops in town live, and whether they’re home and likely to spot him if he’s in their neighborhood.”

“Yeah.  But Tam might’ve seen something.”

“It’s worth a shot to find out.  There are two Outstanding employees living in the loft complex, so it’s possible it’s a spot he’d hit again.  Might not be a bad idea to see if the Llama’s got his golden eye on Ayesha Ansari.  Her record’s pretty clean, but I suspect that’s because she’s smarter than your average Outstanding Citizen, not better behaved.  That ties our hands… but not the Golden Llama’s, if he thinks she needs a lesson.”

“You tail her, I talk to Tam?”

“Sounds like a plan.”  Hank gave Blair a thumbs-up.  “And Blair?  I’m glad we’re working together again.”

“Me too.”



After she and Hank split up, Blair changed into her civilian clothes and drove over to the lofts.  It was easy cover, since she genuinely wanted to see Tamara anyway.

“Wow, look at you,” Blair remarked as Tamara passed her toddler son over to say hello.  “You’ve gotten so big.  And oh, my Watcher, you look so much like your dad.”

“He really does!  Another heartbreaker for the next generation, I bet,” Tamara teased.  “Got his daddy’s good looks!”

“Heartbreaker?  Well, he hasn’t broken yours, right?”  Tamara scoffed a bit, and Blair realized that she inadvertently stuck her foot in it.  “Oh, no.”

“Nah.  It’s okay.  It’s just… ugh, drama.  I sure know how to pick ‘em.”  Tamara rolled her eyes.

“What happened?”



“Much as I love Parker… he’s still like every other guy I wind up with.  Too much like me and my own taste for my own good.  We’re kind of on a break right now.  Not a total break.  We’re still living together and have a thing, and we both want to be there for him,” she tickled Alfonso’s tummy, “but we decided to see other people.  Better to be open and honest if you want to fool around than lie about it, because that I won’t put up with.”

“I’m sorry things aren’t going as well as you hoped.”

Tamara shrugged.  “It’s not all bad.  I’ve got a new guy that I met online.  His name’s Michael, and he’s even a bit younger than Parker.  He just got out of a relationship, too, looking for some fun.  No strings.”  She smirked.  “Nice bod, too.”

That was not the kind of romance Blair could imagine being happy with, and it seemed like Tamara was setting herself up for the same sort of disappointment, but she still wished her the best.  “Well, I hope it works out for you.  You deserve to be happy.”

“Thanks.  I hope so, too.  So, what’s new with you?  How are Cycl0n3 and the kids?  Doing anything exciting at work?  Most of Parker’s cop stories involve weirdos on the beat, but I heard you got promoted to Vice Squad.  Congratulations on that, by the way!”

“Thanks!  I’m really excited!  The family’s all doing well, and as for the job, it’s the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to do.”  Blair steered the conversation toward her case.  “You know, clean up the town, outwit the bad guys, lock them up.  Ever since I was a kid watching the Justice Sim cartoons.”



It worked.  “Well, at least you’re not like that wacko running around playing superhero in a tacky llama costume,” Tamara laughed.  “I’m sure you cops love that.  I heard he beat the tar out of some guy down at the pool last night.”

Blair was about to ask if she’d seen or heard anything when it happened when Parker came down the stairs.  “Blair!  I didn’t know you were here.  How’s it going?”

“Hi, Parker.  I’m good.  How about you?”

“Nice to have a day off.  I heard you talking about the Golden Llama?”  He shook his head.  “That guy, what the plum?  He’s lucky I was on duty across town, or I’d have hauled his golden tail in faster than you can say ‘do unto your lawyer.’  I can’t believe he had the nerve to hit someone right next to a SVPD residence.”



Although Parker was not assigned to the case, she was curious what he might know.  “He probably knew you weren’t home.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been watching the area.  He already went after Xander, and he lives across the way.”

“Yeah, couldn’t have happened to a nicer jerk!” remarked Tamara.

“Neither of you have noticed anyone weird hanging around the pool lately, have you?”

“Nobody in a superhero costume, that’s for sure, and nobody that really stands out.  It’s summer, so lots of people show up.  The athletic ones who started coming every morning to do laps now that the weather’s ideal for it, teenagers hanging out after school, the families with kids.  It gets crowded.  But I don’t spend a lot of time there myself.  Alfonso and work keep us both pretty busy.”

“I haven’t noticed anyone who stuck out, either,” Parker said.  “I’ve been keeping a closer eye when I’m home, but like you said, he probably knows better than to screw around when someone from the SVPD might spot him through the window.”

Blair was disappointed, but she supposed it would have been unrealistic to expect it to be that easy.  “Oh, well.  Whoever it is, I’m sure we’ll get them sooner or later.”



Stiles came down the hall from his room, dressed like he was on his way out.  “Oh, I didn’t know you were here, Blair.  I was working on some lyrics.”

“Stiles!  It’s great to see you.  How are you doing?”

“Hiding out from everyone, as usual,” Tamara teased.  “Mr. Birthday wouldn’t even let us throw him a party.”

“Tam, I told you, I don’t want any part of that.  I already agreed to go out for drinks with the band tonight after work.  Don’t subject me to a crowd now that I’m going to be a legit stubborn old man.”

Blair realized the date.  “Oh, it is your birthday!  Well, happy birthday, Stiles!  I know what you mean about crowds, but… it is a birthday.  No party or cake?”

“Emma promised to send me one of her specials.  You know I won’t turn that down.  Besides, I get my fill of crowds on stage, if you know what I mean.  Honestly, the best present?  Peace, quiet, and seeing people on my own time, you know?”

As a fellow introvert, she did know.  She also remembered he hadn’t had the best experiences with birthdays, and wondered if the milestone coming and going was a bitter reminder of the failed engagement that marked his last big milestone, and the bad luck he’d had romantically since.  As far as she knew, he was still single, although she was certainly not going to bring it up.  “In that case, how about just a birthday hug from an old friend?”

“Sounds good.”  Stiles smiled as Blair hugged him.  “Tell Cycl0n3 and your kids I said hey.”

“I will.”



After Blair left the lofts, she caught up with Hank at the station.  They discussed what they did and didn’t learn, and brainstormed a bit more before their shift ended.  When Blair got home, Travis was asleep in his crib and Cycl0n3 was making macaroni and cheese for dinner.  “Oh, good.  I’m glad you’re making something.  I’m getting hungry.”

“Yup, my special mac and cheese.”

Cycl0n3 was not much of a chef.  His “special” macaroni and cheese was just the recipe on the box with some extra cheese melted in and a dash of hot sauce, but it was tasty, so Blair would not complain.  “Sounds good to me.”  She noticed Chris heading toward the door.  “Where are you off to?  I didn’t think you worked today.”

“Just going out.”  He paused.  “That’s okay, right?  I already told Dad.  Diddy’s feeder is full, and I cleaned his box today, so he’s taken care of.”

“Sure.  Where are you going?”

“He’s got a hot date,” Cycl0n3 teased, but Chris did not find it funny.  His face reddened, and he glowered at his father.

“Shut up, Dad.”  He stuffed his wallet in his pocket.  “I’m going to the movies with Tad.”

“Oh, okay.  Have fun, but don’t be out too late.  You’ve got school tomorrow,” Blair reminded him.

“I know.  See you later.”  He went out to wait for the taxi.



Cycl0n3 snorted from the counter.  “Someone’s in surly teenager mode.”

“You shouldn’t tease him like that.  You know it’s not an easy age, and the last thing you want is your parents making it more awkward.”

“It was a joke.  You know how those two are joined at the hip.  I can’t be the first to crack that one.”

Blair raised an eyebrow.  “Honestly, did it ever occur to you that it might be a date?”

Cycl0n3 looked up, surprised.  “Wait, are you serious?”

“You said it yourself.  They spend a lot of time together.  You never know.  Could be a date, or it could be one or both like the other as more than a friend and it’s just not there yet.  They are very close, and I haven’t noticed Chris paying much attention to anyone else.  I bet people probably said the same thing about us when we were just friends, right up until we weren’t.”

“You see ships everywhere, don’t you?  Every show or movie we watch, every book you read, now your kids,” Cycl0n3 laughed as he served the macaroni.  “Though I guess he could do worse than Tad Wolff.  We wouldn’t have to worry about him knocking him up, at least!”



Blair rolled her eyes as she sat with Cycl0n3 at the table.  “Oh, brother.  Can you please be serious?  Think about it.  I’d have been mortified if my parents started making quips about you and I having hot dates or whatever back when we were in high school.  It was embarrassing enough when Mom gave me ‘the talk’ or when they’d make a comment about leaving the door to my room open.  Let’s try not to inflict too much of that on Chris.”

“Okay.  I get it.  No more jokes about Chris and dating.”  He paused, and then added, “Though if they really are an item, you ought to prepare yourself for everyone else to start cracking jokes about our family and the Wolffs.  Isn’t Patrick with Tad’s sister?”

Blair nodded.  “Yeah.  But at least it’ll make keeping up with in-laws simpler.”

Cycl0n3 snorted.  “We aren’t even sure they’re dating, and now you’re talking marriage.  Someday, you’re going to be that little old grandma that tries to matchmake everyone in town, aren’t you?”

She stuck her tongue out at him.  “Better than being that crotchety old grandpa that shakes his cane, and yells at kids to get off his lawn like you’ll probably be.”

“I wouldn’t tell them to get off my lawn.  Just my internet.”



While Blair and Cycl0n3 debated the teenagers’ love lives and their old age, the pair everyone knew for certain was an item were out on a date.  Just like he’d promised, Patrick took Maria out the same night he got his driver’s license.  They grabbed a bite at the diner, then stopped in at Mick’s Master Karaoke on a whim.

“It’ll be fun!  Just like we talked about at prom.”  Maria was excited, while Patrick was a little anxious.

“But I’ve never sang in front of a crowd before.  Just you.”

“You don’t get stage fright when you play in music club.  You’ll be fine.  Trust me!”

“All right.  As long as we do it together.”

Maria smiled and struck a dramatic pose.  “Naturally, my dear.”



There were a couple of older women at the karaoke machine ahead of them, singing along to an old song.  “They’re not bad,” Patrick remarked, somewhat surprised.

“Yeah, sometimes you hear some really awful singers up there.  The old ladies are actually decent.  I think I’ve heard my mom sing that song in the shower sometimes, though,” Maria laughed.

“So, what do you want to sing when we go up there?  We need a good duet song.  Preferably one I already know the lyrics to, so I don’t look like a huge dork reading off the screen.”

“They’ve got some stuff from musicals.”  Maria was struck with inspiration.  “Hey!  We should do one of the drama club songs.  How about ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease?”

Patrick remembered that one pretty well.  “Okay.  I can try to pull off a John Simvolta.  You’ve got to promise not to laugh at me, though.”

She smiled back at him.  “I won’t laugh.  I promise.”



Soon it was their turn, and they were on stage.  Patrick was still nervous, but Maria was enthused, and that bolstered his confidence.  She found and selected the song, and then they were on.  The music started.  Patrick took a deep breath, and sang along with the music.

“Summer lovin’, had me a blast…”

Maria came in on her cue.  “Summer lovin’, happened so fast…”

Her voice was light and sweet, and Patrick found it easier, almost natural to sing along.  “I met a girl, crazy for me…”

Maria’s eyes met his as she sang.  “Met a boy, cute as can be…”

Their voices broke out in unison as the music picked up.  “Summer days, drifting away, to ah, oh those summer nights!”



While Patrick made his karaoke stage debut with Maria, little did he know his parents, who’d gone out to a movie, were driving home past Mick’s.  They noticed his car in the lot.  Although they didn’t want to embarrass him or crash his date, they were curious, as he hadn’t mentioned anything about going there when he left.

“We’ll keep a low profile.”  Susan had a sly gleam in her eye.  “I’m not really the type to hang out at a karaoke bar anyway.”

“Wouldn’t have thought Jack and Judy were, either, but isn’t that their car?”  Boyd pointed to the Bunches’ car in the lot.

“Gives us an excuse to say we were stopping in to say hi to them, then.”

They parked and slipped inside.  Jack and Judy were on the other side of the karaoke bar, and they waved to them.  Then they looked over at the stage once they realized how familiar the male voice was.



“Oh, my Watcher.”  Boyd grinned.  “Check out Patrick on stage.”

“He got friendly, holding my hand,” sang Maria.

Patrick sang along with a suggestive look.  “Well, she got friendly down in the sa-a-and!”

Maria made a bit of a kissy face as she sang the next line.  “He was sweet, just turned eighteen.”

Patrick struck a dramatic pose and lowered his voice.  “Well, she was good, you know what I mean!”

They sang together.  “Summer heat, boy and girl meet.  But ah, oh, those summer nights…”

“He’s really into it,” Susan whispered to Boyd.  Both of them noticed how much Patrick seemed to enjoy performing with Maria.  “Not a bad voice, either.  Not quite John Simvolta, but he could get there with some practice.”

“He’s a talented kid.  Looks like Maria is, too.”

“Kind of makes you think of what we saw in the future, huh?”

“Yeah.  You’ve got to wonder how it’ll all end up playing out.”

“Time will tell, I guess.”  Susan took Boyd’s hand as the song ended.  “Come on.  Let’s get out of here before they spot us.  Don’t want to embarrass them.”

“Yeah.  I think we can keep this a secret,” he agreed as they left.



Patrick never noticed his parents’ brief inclusion in the audience.  After the karaoke number, he and Maria were in great spirits from the crowd’s warm reception.  “That was fun.  We should do it again sometime.”

“I’m good with that.”  He noticed some of the other patrons going upstairs.  “What’s up there?  Another stage?”

“No.  Games and stuff I think.  Want to check it out?”

“Sure.”

They headed up.  It was less crowded than downstairs, with just a few people playing pool and someone else playing on an arcade table.  Patrick noticed the photo booth at the top of the stairs.  “Did you ever try one of these?”

“Nope.  But we could if you want.”

“Sure.”  He fished some money out, while Maria checked her hair and makeup in a compact mirror.  Patrick went in first, and when Maria was done primping, she followed.  The camera flashed several times as they snuggled together in the booth, and when they were done, it printed out a collage of pictures for them.

“Oh, I look terrible in that one,” Maria sighed.  “My face looks all puffy.”

“You don’t look puffy.  You look great,” Patrick assured her.

She gave him a flirtatious look.  “Really?  You think so?”

“Really.”  He flirted back.  “You look hot, like always.”

She basked in the compliment and kissed his cheek.  “You’re so sweet.”



They hung out at Mick’s for a while longer, but curfew loomed ahead of them.  “I hate to go home,” Maria said.  “It’s been fun.”

“Yeah.”  Patrick thought for a moment.  “You know, I could probably talk my way into staying out a little later if I text my parents now and let them know.  Especially if it’s just to get coffee or something.  Worst I’ll get is a lecture about not letting my grades slip or whatever if I look tired tomorrow morning.”

“Lucky you.  It wouldn’t go that way for me, though.  I’d get a guilt trip about responsibility and working hard, and how important it is to get enough sleep on a school night, healthy habits, blah blah.  Mom loves pulling the ‘caring Dr. Mom knows best’ card!  And if I want my own car anytime soon…”

“Ah.  I get you.  Mine don’t really do that, but Dad does pull the ‘You made me worry about whether you got killed in a random accident!  How could you?’ spiel if I forget to tell them or run late.”

“Hmm.  It’s a nice night out here.”  Maria glanced up at the stars.  “If you take me home, maybe we could just hang out by the beach past my deck for a while.  If you won’t get in trouble.  My mom won’t mind that because I’d be home safe, and she likes you.”

“Sure!  That’d be great.”



When they got to Maria’s house, Maria told her mother that she invited Patrick to stay for a bit while he texted his parents.  Neither Morgana nor the Wainwrights had any issue with that, and Maria and Patrick went outside to watch the stars on the beach.

“I told my parents I was helping you with an art project,” Patrick said with a sly look as he doodled a heart in the sand.  “So, add a little something to this and it’s telling the truth.  Collaborative sand art project.”

Maria giggled and put a Cupid’s arrow through it.  “Works for me.”



They relaxed in the sand together.  “It’s a nice night tonight.  You can see a lot from here.  Though I bet you can see more from your roof.  Don’t you have like an observatory or something?”

“Yeah, there’s a skylight kind of roof with a telescope up there.  My parents are into the astronomy stuff.”

“I know a few constellations.  Um, that one’s Orion.”  She pointed, and paused.  “Like your little brother’s name.  Hey, did they name him after that?”

“Yeah.”

“What inspired that?  It’s kind of unusual.  But I guess it’s a science geek thing?”

Patrick leaned back in the sand.  “Oh, it’s a long story.  Maybe someday, I can go into the crazy stuff behind it, but yeah.  Short version is, my parents are huge nerds into all sorts of crazy science stuff, so yes, it’s an astronomy reference.”  Patrick wished he could tell Maria more, but he left it at that.  “I can’t talk, though.  I was named after Star Trek.”

Maria laughed.  “No way.  Really?”

“My middle name is Stuart.  So, Patrick Stuart, like the guy who played Picard from Next Generation, but not spelled the same.  They claimed it was after my grandfathers’ names, because my mom’s dad’s name was Patrick and my dad’s father’s name was Stuart, but come on.  Blair never bought it and, honestly, I grew up with them, so I’m with her.  They even called me ‘the Captain’ growing up.”  Patrick met her eyes.  “And that’s just between us.  I’d rather that not get around school, if you know what I mean.”

“No worries.  I won’t tell anyone… Captain.”  She leaned in close, and batted her eyes playfully.  “Oh Captain, my Captain!”

Patrick drew Maria into his arms and rolled over so that they lay on the sand together.   “Does this mean I can beam you up?” he teased.

She snaked her arms around his torso.  “Well, you do have a nice ship over there in the driveway,” she said, and kissed him.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #221 on: March 08, 2018, 01:11:49 PM »
Haha, I went back to read the "spa episode" between Chris and Tad. I remember feeling suspicious about Tad's bruises and laughing at how rigidly Chris was sitting next to Tad in the bath.
Do I hear a ship coming in?

I'm excited that Blair got promoted just in time to be in on the mysterious Golden Llama case.
Tamara has my sympathies--her "open relationship" with Parker sounds like no relationship at all.
It's nice for Alonzo, though, that his parents are both there for him.

How funny that Susan and Boyd snuck into watch Patrick in his very first karaoke performance.
Patrick must have been hugely into karaoke not to sense his parents in the audience.
Awww, Patrick and Maria!

(I'm so relieved to hear that the second generation includes potential scientists! Hurray!)

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 56
« Reply #222 on: March 16, 2018, 12:09:48 AM »
Haha, I went back to read the "spa episode" between Chris and Tad. I remember feeling suspicious about Tad's bruises and laughing at how rigidly Chris was sitting next to Tad in the bath.
Do I hear a ship coming in?

If by suspicious you mean you were concerned he might have been abused or something like that, no. Tad just has the clumsy trait, so they happened just like he said. It's a trait he and Chris have in common.

I'm excited that Blair got promoted just in time to be in on the mysterious Golden Llama case.
Tamara has my sympathies--her "open relationship" with Parker sounds like no relationship at all.
It's nice for Alonzo, though, that his parents are both there for him.

The way my SP mod has been running her, Tam is a poster child for poor life choices! Parker's a good dad, at least, it's just those commitment issues, I guess.

How funny that Susan and Boyd snuck into watch Patrick in his very first karaoke performance.
Patrick must have been hugely into karaoke not to sense his parents in the audience.
Awww, Patrick and Maria!
(I'm so relieved to hear that the second generation includes potential scientists! Hurray!)

It's probably from hanging around two divas (Maria and Buddy) so much that keeps Patrick focused on the spotlight, rather than the audience. At least he doesn't share their egos! ;)



Chapter 56



It was a big day for Boyd and Susan.  After spending all morning going over the data they’d compiled on LI-WX923, they presented their findings to the board.  They had run a comprehensive list of studies on their breakthrough formulation and were confident enough to take the next step.

“As you can see, it’s been viable and shown consistent results in every system we tested,” Susan announced with pride.  “It’s the real deal.  A formula that actively combats the cellular aging process and reverses it.”

“Impressive,” one of the board members remarked.  “The medical applications could prove invaluable.”

Boyd nodded.  “We’d still need to run clinical trials, but yes.  Imagine all of the conditions and associated medical treatments it could render unnecessary.  Your liver or kidney’s shot?  Who needs a transplant, if the cells can regenerate to healthy tissue?  Bad knee?  Forget surgery, this could restore it to its prime.  Type 1 diabetes?  No more insulin shots necessary if you can make the pancreas work right again, and so on.”

Another board member, an executive in a designer suit, laughed.  “Think what vain old women would pay to have that in a wrinkle cream, or what insecure bald men would pay to get their hair back.  Oh, we could make a fortune on that alone.”

The head of accounting raised an eyebrow.  “Go that route, and you could get to market a lot faster, and cheaper.  Regulations on beauty aids aren’t nearly as strict.”



The Wainwrights exchanged a look, remembering what Emit said about how the Landgraabs handled their compound in the alternate timeline.  “Wrinkle cream’s not a bad idea, but we are about innovation here.  It’s right in our name,” Susan reminded them sharply.  “There’s no reason we shouldn’t use it in multiple products.”

“I’m just saying, the cost-benefit analysis—”

“The benefits to simkind are a value, too,” Boyd argued.  “Look, we’re all for profit.  We own the company, after all.  But I’m sure there’s enough of a margin to make it worthwhile to look into both medically and cosmetically.”

“You’re certain it’ll pass that sort of rigorous testing, and the years of additional development?”

The board member’s attitude rubbed them both the wrong way.  “I am,” Boyd asserted.  “Do you know how old I am?”

“I—I don’t know, Dr. Wainwright.”  He felt as though he’d been asked some sort of trick question, but when Boyd told him his age, it changed to shock.

“That’s right.  You can check HR’s records if you don’t believe me.  And if you want a real kicker, look at my lovely wife, who everyone here would agree, I’m sure, looks younger than me.  Then realize her birthday is within two months of mine in the same year.  Now, that’s no clinical trial, but do you have any more questions about how well it works?”

Another board member, a medical doctor, stared back at them in shock.  “Plumbobs!  Are you saying you tested it on yourselves?”

“We’re saying we’re confident in the science,” said Susan.

“You did test it on yourselves.  You really are a couple of mad scientists.”  The executive laughed.  “But they say fortune favors the bold, and it looks like you’ve got us poised to make a fortune.  Swallowing untested serums isn’t something I’d ever do, but no one ever said you two didn’t have a passion for science.”  He looked around the table.  “I say we back all the applications.  We’ll be the top of this industry for years just on that, never mind everything else in development.”  He gave the cheap accountant a look.  “As for you, lighten the purse strings.  Our stock will go through the roof, and think of the PR boost.”

Susan and Boyd exchanged satisfied looks.  “I’m glad we’re all in agreement, then.  We’ll proceed?”

“Keep us in the loop, and we’ll get the ball rolling,” the doctor on the board agreed.

“And I’ll tell you what,” the well-dressed executive said, “I’m going to move that we grant the level 10 title to you two.  Certainly, you’ve gone to extremes for science to the point that ‘Mad Scientist’ is a title well-earned.”



After their presentation, the Wainwrights returned to their high security lab.  “That went well.  The level 10 title, what an honor!”

Susan was equally excited.  “I know!  We made it!  We really did it!  Though I swear I could almost feel the shift in the time stream when they brought up the wrinkle cream.  I half expected them to suggest calling it Age-Away.”

“Yeah.  It was like standing at a crossroads knowing that’s where we diverged from the Landgraabs in management.  Aside from us not being in charge, of course.”



“Not that we didn’t know it was all about money for them, but it feels, I don’t know, sad, knowing it really was just about making that much more money over making a lot of money.”  Susan went to the science station and checked the status of the analysis running on it.  “I thought I had a materialistic streak.  I like the finer things in life.  I love having the money to get everything I want, and do the things I want, but wow.  To not even try to make it work to its best potential, because it’s not as profitable as just selling it as a cosmetic…”

Boyd brought up the schematics of a nanite design.  “I know.  It’s good knowing we made the right call and fixed it.”

“It is.”



It was also a big day for Orion.  His after-school ballet club had a recital.  Their current session for the school year was ending, and Orion and the other kids had been working hard and practicing a lot.  Although neither his parents nor Patrick were active types that would have taken up such an activity themselves, Orion enjoyed it, and his family was proud of the effort he put into it.

“I hope I don’t mess up.  I’ve got to keep my balance like this, and help Tara in her twirl like this.”  He spun around and made a motion like he was dancing with a partner.

“If you’re half that graceful on stage, you’ll do just fine,” Susan reassured him.

“Yeah.  You’ve got some good moves.  You’re more flexible than I think I’ve ever been, even at your age,” said Boyd.

“That was a long time ago,” Orion remarked.

Boyd couldn’t help but chuckle.  “Yes, it was.”

“In drama club, they told us if you get stage fright, just picture the audience in their underwear,” Patrick suggested.

“I’m not afraid, and I’d laugh if I saw them in their underwear.  I’d definitely mess up if I started laughing.”

Susan glanced over at Patrick.  “When will we see you on stage with drama club?  Or music?”

“Yeah.  We heard you had a little performance over at Mick’s the other night,” Boyd said, much to Patrick’s surprise.

“You did?  From who?”

“Jack and Judy Bunch saw you there.  I talked to Jack on messenger earlier,” Susan told him.  It was partially true; Jack had been at Mick’s, and she had chatted with him on messenger earlier, although it had been about landscaping and if she thought he should use a new fertilizer on his fruit trees.

“Oh.  Maria and I did a karaoke number, that’s all.  Just for fun.”  Patrick shrugged.  “We don’t have any band recitals for a while, and I’m just an extra in this season’s play.  I ended up doing more set design than anything else.  You’d see more of the stuff I painted and helped build than any acting.”

“Let us know when it is anyway.  We’d still like to check it out.”

Susan picked up her keys.  “In the meantime, we’d better hustle so Orion gets to his show on time.  Let’s go.”



The Wainwrights headed to the school.  On their way in, Boyd and Susan received a message from Blair.  “Blair says to tell you good luck from her, Cycl0n3, Chris, and Travis.”

“She also said she hopes you’ll show her your dance moves at Travis’ birthday party,” Susan added.

“Okay!”  Orion hurried backstage while the rest of the family took their seats.

The recital went well.  Boyd recorded the event on his phone camera, a file that would eventually be saved alongside the one from Patrick’s scouting ceremony, and the one Blair had sent from Chris’, which they’d been unable to attend.  They regretted that there hadn’t been smartphones when Blair was younger.  They had pictures of her from some major events in her childhood, but the only videos they had of her at elementary school age were few and had been taken on an old school video camera Boyd and Susan owned back then.



After the recital, the family went to the bistro to celebrate.  Orion changed out of his ballet outfit before leaving the school.  He wanted to leave his cap on, but Susan made him take it off when they got to the restaurant.

“But I like my hat!”  He still looked bald, but fine hair was starting to grow on his scalp, with thicker patches coming in on the back of his head.

“It’s too scruffy looking for a place like this.”

“Yeah, we’ve got to be snooty here, and abide by the hoity-toity dress code,” Patrick teased in a fake accent.

“Hmph.  Dad didn’t even tuck his shirt in right,” Orion pointed out.

Susan gave Boyd a pointed look.  “Well, he will.  Right?”

Boyd hadn’t even noticed until it was mentioned.  “Oh.  Yes, dear.”



The family enjoyed their dinner.  Susan had their potato and truffle torte, while Boyd ordered their porcini risotto and Patrick gave their tri-tip steak a try.  Iris had a child’s plate of spaghetti, or “sketti” as she called it while picking at it without eating much, and Orion tried sushi.  Many kids would’ve been put off by things like seaweed and fish, but Orion thought it was cool to try something that other kids would declare gross and not eat.  After dinner, they enjoyed some flaming angel food cake, and when they were done, they left the bistro stuffed and satisfied.

While he waited on his dad to get the car, Patrick glanced across the block and noticed a couple snuggled up on a bench by the theater.  He did a double-take when he realized he knew them.  One was Chris, and the other was Tad Wolff.  How long had that been a thing?  He knew they were good friends; they were always together at school, but that was way beyond friendly.  He made a mental note to ask Maria if she knew they were dating, when Orion called over to him.

“You getting in?”

Boyd had brought the car around, and Susan already secured Iris in her car seat, and was getting in herself.  None of them had noticed Chris, so Patrick kept it to himself.  After all, if he’d been the one spotted by Chris in a romantic moment, he wouldn’t want him blabbing about his love life to Blair or Cycl0n3.  “Yeah.”  Patrick took a second look when they drove past the theater, but by then, Chris and Tad were gone.



Blair was excited for Travis’ birthday, although she kept the celebration to family and close friends.  Unfortunately, Tamara was the only non-family who could make it.  Emma wanted to, but at the last minute, Jared refused to cover the bakery for her out of spite because they were arguing, leaving her stuck with no notice.  Stiles and Parker were both on shift, and Justine got called in.  Hank would have gone, but he’d just come off an extra shift himself, and had to catch up on his sleep.  Blair was disappointed, but also relieved there wouldn’t be much of a crowd in her house.  “Parker said to tell the little guy happy birthday for him, and to enjoy his cake.”  Tamara set Alfonso down to play.

“Oh, I’m sure he will.  What kid doesn’t love cake?”  Blair caught the weary note in Tamara’s voice.  “How are things, Tam?  Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.  Just a little tired, and things are… well, complicated.  But I don’t want to bother you with that on Travis’ birthday.”

Blair was concerned.  “No, it’s fine, if you need to talk.  My family’s not even here yet.  What’s going on?  Is it Parker?  Last time we hung out, you said things were cooling off between you two, but you were seeing someone else?”



Tamara sighed.  “Cooling off, heating up, cooling off again, side guy doesn’t know… oh, Blair.  It’s a mess.  I’d mix a strong juice if I could, telling you this one.”

“Oh, I guess I don’t keep much of that here, do I?  We’ve got some nectar, though.  Want a glass?”

“No, that’s all right.  I really can’t.”  She met Blair’s eyes.  “You’re not going to believe this.  Heck, I can barely believe it, but… I’m pregnant again.”

“Pregnant?”  Blair was surprised.  None of them were young anymore, but Tamara was older than her mother had been back when she got pregnant with Patrick, and that had been a late and risky pregnancy.  “Wow!  I, um, take it wasn’t planned?”

“Nope.  See, I didn’t think I could anymore.  Back when I had Alfonso, they said it’d be unlikely I could have more kids, so I haven’t worried much about protection.  Well, with Michael, I did, but not with Parker when we had our fight and passionate make-up.  Pretty sure that’s when this happened.”

If Blair had not been so kind-hearted and polite, she would have face-palmed.  Even though Tamara and Parker had been together for a long time, just having an open relationship was reason enough for Blair to think that not being safe should’ve been out of the question.  Tamara had always been impulsive, though, and she supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised.  “And Parker…?”

“He knows, of course, and he’s a good dad, despite his other issues.  He’ll do right by his kids and help out where he’s needed.  It’s just, things between him and me aren’t where they should be if we’re having another baby, you know?  We may not be Emma and Jared, but it’s sure not going to make life easier for either of us.”



Blair hugged her.  “I’m sorry it’s not happier, but I hope things go well for you and the baby.  If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”

“I might borrow you and Cycl0n3 for babysitting, or maybe Chris if he wants to earn a few bucks doing it.  But other than that, and a friendly ear to vent to, or someone to feed me cupcakes for pregnancy cravings, I’m good.  Thanks.”

“My cupcakes would just come from Emma’s bakery, so if I was you, I’d go straight to the source.”

“Ha!  I know, right?  Though if I do that too much, I’ll have to lose two babies’ worth of weight!  Oh, my Watcher, have you tried her triple chocolate delights?”

“Guess what I ordered as the frosting on Travis’ cake?”

“You’re my hero!”



A little while later, Blair’s family arrived, and they broke out the cake to celebrate Travis’ birthday.

“Look who’s a big boy now!”  Blair and the baby blew out the candle on his cake together.



Blair put Travis’ cake in a bowl and set him in the high chair.  “Here you go, birthday boy!  You dig into that yummy cake.  Aunt Emma made it extra good, just for you!”

Travis giggled and poked a finger into the frosting.  His eyes lit up with excitement, and he enthusiastically dug both hands in for more.



“Mommy’s looks, and Grandpa’s table manners.”  Susan caught Boyd licking frosting off of his finger after swiping it across his plate.  He set it down and pulled out his tablet.

“I can’t get over how much he looks like you, Blair.  I’ve got some old pictures of you at his age saved on here.  Let me load them up and show you.  It’s incredible.”

“He might look like me, but I swear he got his dad’s and your all’s love of the TV.  Remember how the Captain used to zone out in the Captain’s Chair and fall asleep in front of it?  Travis is exactly the same.”  She fluffed his blond head.  “I’m going to have my work cut out for me keeping you active, huh?  Maybe your big brother and Uncle Orion will be better influences.  I saw the Chief Engineer had some nice moves on stage.”  Earlier, Boyd had shown her the video he took of the recital.

“I got a trophy after the show!  They said me and Tara danced the best of all them.”

“Congrats.  That must come from your non-Wainwright genes, ‘cause I’ve seen the rest of your family’s moves,” Cycl0n3 said.

That earned him a glare from Susan and an eye roll from Boyd, while Blair stuck out her tongue and Patrick gave him an indignant look.  “Speak for yourself.  I’ve got rhythm.”

“A regular John Simvolta, I hear,” Boyd murmured under his breath.  Susan heard, and smirked, but didn’t say anything.

“What?” asked Patrick.

“Never mind.”  Susan stood up.  “Here.  Hand me your plates.  I’ll take them to the dishwasher since it looks like they’ve got a chocolate apocalypse on their hands over there.”  Tamara was getting more paper towels while Blair tried to wipe up Travis and the other toddlers’ mess.  Alfonso and Iris also had cake.  Tamara’s son had it all over his face and shirt, while Iris managed to smear it everywhere and get flower petals stuck in it.  She had only tasted the cake and found it more fun to play with than eat.



While the adults cleaned up and socialized, Patrick sat with Orion and Chris, who were playing a fighting game.  Patrick was still curious about what he’d seen coming out of the bistro, especially since Chris hadn’t mentioned anything about a boyfriend or dating Tad.  When he’d asked Maria about it, she’d just laughed and said, “Oh, finally?  It’s only been obvious he liked him for, like, forever,” and said she’d ask Tad about it later.  Patrick hadn’t had the chance to follow up with her yet, though.

Chris pounded the tar out of Orion’s ninja with his barbarian.  “Ow!  I hate that stupid axe,” Orion groused.  “If I could get up, I’d slice you in half with my katanas.”

“That’s why I’m not letting you up.”  Orion’s health bar dropped to a critical low, and Chris whacked him again with the axe.  “Off with your head!”

Orion’s ninja dropped in sad defeat.  “You’re a llama!  I’m going to get a better weapon this time, and kick your plumbob.”

While they were between matches, Patrick looked over at Chris.  “Hey, question for you.”

“What?”

“What’s the deal with you and Tad?”

“What do you mean?”  A blush rose to Chris’ cheeks, and Patrick noticed.

“I think you know exactly what I mean.”

Chris set his controller down.  “Orion, try that one, third from the left, top row.  Test it out in solo mode to get used to it.  I need to talk to Patrick a minute.”

“Okay.”  Orion loaded it up, while Chris stood and gestured for Patrick to follow.  They stepped out onto the back patio, and Chris closed the door behind them.



“All right, now I’m really curious.  Is it some kind of big secret?  Because if it is, I’ve got to tell you, making out on a bench in front of the theater isn’t the best way to keep it.”

Chris turned even redder, although in the dim light of the patio it was not obvious.  “You saw that?”

“Yup.  On the way home from dinner after Orion’s recital.”

“Oh, plum.”  Chris sighed.  “Grandma and Grandpa and Orion, too, or just you?”

“Just me, I think.  Why?  Is it a secret?”

“Not exactly.  It’s just… don’t bring this up in front of them.  Please.”

“Okay, but why?  Are you not supposed to be dating yet or something?  Geez, I didn’t think Blair was that much of a prude!  And Cycl0n3’s probably been looking up pervy pics on the internet since he was way younger than you.  Probably Orion’s age.”



“No, it’s not that.  I’m allowed.  I just don’t want to talk about it around them.  You know how they are.  Mom would just gush and say how cute it is that I like someone.”  Chris made a face.  “Or worse, Dad would say stuff he thinks is funny but just makes me want to crawl under the floorboards.  I know that’s just how he is, but I don’t want to deal with it right now.  Especially if Tad was to come over and Dad says something stupid, and…”

“He takes it personally, and it screws things up?” Patrick guessed.  Although he didn’t know Tad beyond a friendly acquaintance, he’d spent enough time with Maria to know that despite her brother’s outgoing nature, he could also be quite moody.  In fact, it was Maria’s primary complaint about him whenever she vented about home drama.

“Yeah.”



“I know how they can be, but I don’t think Blair or Cycl0n3 would upset you on purpose.  And I know Mom and Dad wouldn’t.  They’ve been pretty cool about Maria.”

“I’m not really worried about Grandma or Grandpa either, other than they’d talk to Mom and Dad.  I don’t even think Mom would be that bad other than her cutesy isn’t-that-romantic stuff.  But Dad’s already made a dumb comment about our ‘hot date’ when I just said I was going to the movies with Tad like we always do.  He didn’t even know it was, he was just being, well, you know.  Imagine if he did know, what stupid stuff he’d say.”

“I get what you’re saying, but the thing is, they’re still going to find out sometime.  Unless you break up, which isn’t how you want it to go.  You can’t just pretend nothing’s going on forever.  Eventually you’ll have to say something, unless you want it to come out by accident.  Like them walking in on you, or, I don’t know, spotting you on a bench by the theater when you think you’re alone.”



“I’ll tell them at some point, but not until I’m sure… well, until I’m sure it’s going to stay like this.”  Chris paused.  “You’re the only one other than him I’ve even talked to about this, Patrick.  I don’t have any other friends I could.  He was the friend I’d have gone to about something like this, if it was someone else I, you know, liked.”

“Double or nothing.  That’s a big gamble, huh?”

“Yeah.  They say being friends first means it’s more likely to work out, but if it doesn’t… kind of sucks to lose your best friend, too.  So I really don’t want to screw this up.”

“I understand.  But you’ve been friends a long time, so that’s got to mean something.”

“Since second grade.”

“Yeah, that’s a pretty good record.”  Patrick glanced through the window before returning his attention to Chris.  “Try not to worry too much about Cycl0n3.  He’s got a big mouth, but I don’t think even one of his more boneheaded moments would be enough to run off someone who cares about you.  After all, Tad’s with you, not your dad.”

“I guess,” Chris said uncertainly.  “Though you don’t live with him.  You just see the highlight reels at family gatherings where he’s on better behavior because Mom makes him dial it back.”



“I don’t know.  There’s been a few times I was sure the only reason Mom or Dad didn’t whip out some pocket death ray and nuke him with it was because they didn’t want to leave their oldest daughter a widow.”

“Well, even Mom can’t shut him up all the time.  Which is kind of my point.”  He headed for the door.  “Come on, let’s go back in before Orion hunts us down.”

“Sure.”

“And Patrick, thanks.”

“No problem.  What’s the cool uncle for, right?”



When they went back inside, Orion grabbed Chris for his rematch right away, while Patrick sat down at the table with his sketch book.  Tamara had just left, and Blair and Cycl0n3 were cleaning up.  Susan held a sleepy Iris while Boyd had Travis, who was also getting tired.  “You’ve had a long day, huh?  Well, you’ll have plenty of time to play with your presents tomorrow.  Did your mom show you your new sprite?”

“Those things are so cute!” Blair said.  “We’re going to use it like a night light in his room until he’s old enough to play with it.”

“Admit it, you just want to play with it,” said Cycl0n3.

“I don’t need to play with his.  They got me my own.”

Iris started to fuss in Susan’s arms.  “Oh, sweetie.  I know, it’s late and dark.  Let me put you in the swing.  Maybe you can nap?”  Susan carried her over, but not before her loud crying set Travis off.

Boyd winced as his grandson hit a sharp note.  “Great.  It’s contagious.”  He tried to calm him down.  “I think if your mom agrees, it’s time for you to go to bed.”



“Uncle Patrick votes in favor of that,” Patrick interjected from the table.

While Blair said it was fine to put Travis to bed, Cycl0n3 found Patrick’s obvious annoyance amusing.  “Not enjoying that harmonious baby wail duet?”

“Not particularly.”  Patrick erased a line he wasn’t happy with.

“Well, they outgrow it soon enough, and Iris won’t be a bean sprout forever.  As long as you don’t follow in your parents’ footsteps and get yourself an unplanned Wolff cub with Maria, you shouldn’t have to deal with it much longer.”  He patted the back of his chair and headed for his computer.

Luckily for Cycl0n3, neither Susan nor Boyd heard his remark, but Patrick was none too impressed.  He was thinking of a snappy retort when he heard Chris clear his throat loudly behind him.  He looked over and saw Chris with a see-what-I-mean/I-told-you-so expression on his face.

Patrick went over and picked up a video game controller.  “Point taken,” he said low enough that only Chris could hear.  “I get it.  Good luck with the stealth.”



Susan came into Travis’ room just as Boyd finished changing him into a clean shirt and diaper to sleep in.  “Can Grandma have a hug before bed?”

“Sure.”  Boyd passed him over, and she snuggled him.

“I hope you had a nice birthday, sweetie.  Now you go to sleep.”  She kissed Travis on the forehead and put him in the crib.  He fussed a little, but settled in and put his arm around the bear in the crib with him.  Boyd turned on the holo sprite to display one of the more colorful ones, while Susan dimmed the lights.

Boyd looked over as they were on their way out of the room.  Travis’ eyes were closed and he was still and calm.  “Looks like he’s out already.  Good night, little guy.”

Susan yawned herself.  “I’m with him.  Come on.  Let’s round up the others and call it a night.”

“Sounds good to me.”  Boyd closed the door behind them.

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #223 on: March 16, 2018, 11:16:39 AM »
Loved the board meeting scene--it was such a great way to show, rather than tell, us that the Wainwrights were altering the course of the future.
I also really like that Orion is pursuing ballet as a hobby--Be yourself, Orion! That's all anyone can do!

Chris's concern that his father could spoil his budding relationship with Tad proves very real!
I'm glad cool Uncle Patrick is someone Chris can trust to confide in.
Haha, Cycl0n3 can be so utterly tactless, yet he makes a great P.I. ;-)

Travis looks soooo much like Blair. It's uncanny!
Can't wait to read about what your Wainwrights are up to next!

Offline Rikki8528

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #224 on: March 17, 2018, 11:55:02 AM »
I just caught up with this (has it really been a year since I last read?) and I'm still loving it! My dad can be a little tactless like Cycl0n3 (not as bad though) so I definitely understand where Chris is coming from...

Travis really does look like Blair - I guess Emma won that bet then! And nice to see Orion doing well - does the recital mean he's nearly at the Teen stage?

 

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