Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 180461 times)

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 7
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2014, 03:27:38 PM »
Yay they're back!  This chapter provided some greater depths into the characters we know and love.  I love how it all played out.

Merry Christmas Cheezey  ;D
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

My Stories:
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2. Duty Calls Sequel: Islands of Sunset Valley
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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 8
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2014, 09:51:44 PM »
Yay they're back!  This chapter provided some greater depths into the characters we know and love.  I love how it all played out.

Merry Christmas Cheezey  ;D

Thank you! I hope you had a merry Christmas, and that you have a happy new year as well! :)

Chapter 8

Shortly after Blair moved out, Boyd and Susan finally got to take their island vacation.  Even though they were both more the type to stay indoors on a computer as opposed to enjoying the great outdoors on a given day, they couldn’t help but be taken in by Isla Paradiso’s natural beauty.  Aside from connecting their smartphones into it, Boyd and Susan didn’t even use the wi-fi at Sparkling Sands on their first day there.

After checking into their first class room, which Susan refused to skimp on, stating that it was their first real vacation in years, and she was going to live it up, they changed into their swimsuits to check out the beach.

“You did remember sunblock, right?” Susan asked before they left the room.  “The sun will fry you to a crisp much faster here than back in Sunset Valley.”

“I know.  I calculated that I’d have a sunburn in approximately ten minutes without it, as pale as I am.  I just about bathed in the highest waterproof SPF I could find.  How about you?”

“Covered.  A tan might look nice, but the wrinkles that come from sun exposure won’t.”

“So I guess you don’t need me to get your back or shoulders, then?  That’s too bad,” Boyd remarked with a smile, admiring Susan’s physique in her skimpy swimwear.  “By the way, nice new bikini.  You never wore that to Gunther’s Leisure Day pool party before.”

Susan basked in the compliment.  “Well, it’s vacation, after all.  Why not get a few new things for it and treat myself?”  She gave him a flirtatious look.  “And you.”

Boyd held the door open for Susan and waited for her go down the steps, absently locking the door behind him as his eyes were still on his wife.  “You won’t hear me complain.”

After some relaxing on the beach, they enjoyed dinner back at the resort.  It was served buffet style, and had a fantastic array of gourmet food and island delights.

“This is some of the best dim sum I’ve ever had!  Now I see why the buffet got such good reviews.”

“Mmm-hmm.  It’s pretty good,” Boyd agreed.  “You should try one of the drinks from the stand outside after dinner.  I had one when I was waiting for you to finish booking the rental boat for tomorrow.  They even serve their piña coladas in a coconut shell.  It was fantastic.  Too bad it started raining.  I’d tell you to go get one.”

“It’s all right.  I’ve never been much of a fan of piña coladas and getting caught in the rain anyway.”

Boyd set his fork down and gave her a look across the table.  “You had to go there, didn’t you?”

“Sorry,” she said with a mischievous smirk.  “It’s because we just watched Saviors of the Galaxy on the plane coming here, and it got that song stuck in my head.”

“Well, thanks.  Now it’s stuck in mine, too.”

“Next time I go swimming, maybe I’ll grab one at the pool bar,” Susan mused, glancing out the window.  “I always wanted to try out one of those.”

“Really?” Boyd arched an eyebrow.  “Don’t you worry that the water might be a little, uh, murky by the pool bar?”

“What do you mean?”

“Free flowing drinks, bathroom all the way inside, lazy vacationers who had a few too many... you do the math.”

Susan made a face.  “That’s—that’s just—ew.  Gross.”  She sighed.  “And thanks for ruining the pool bar for me before I ever got to try one.”

“Sorry, honey.”  Boyd gave Susan a rueful smile.  “Believe me, you’re not the only one who wishes that the kind of things that pop into my head sometimes just wouldn’t.”

“It’s all right.  After twenty years, I’m used to it.”  She smiled and patted his arm.  “I’m sure the drinks are just as good at the other bars.  Come on, let’s get some dessert.”

The rain let up after dinner, and Boyd and Susan took a walk around the resort.  They each picked up a post-meal drink, and a short while later, took a dip in the hot tub.

“Think we could fit one of these on the back patio?” Boyd asked, relaxing in the hot bubbling water.  “Imagine how great it’d be to unwind in after a long day.”

“It would be nice, but we’d have to maintain it.  Keep on top of the chemical levels, make sure there’s no algae, drain it and clean it every so often...”

Boyd sighed.  “Yeah.  Probably too much work.  Expensive, too.  Especially if we want to do that mini-lab or theater project in Blair’s old room.  Too bad, though.  I could get used to this.”

“Maybe one day when we’re rich.  Rich enough to not only have these things, but pay someone to come and take care of them for us.”  Susan relaxed in the water, enjoying the dream.

“Sounds good to me.”  Boyd closed his eyes.  “Just as long as there’s still enough for us to always have the best computers, and keep them upgraded so they stay that way.”

“That goes without saying.” 

The next day, they enjoyed some more of the island’s amenities.  First they went snorkeling in the lagoon.  Susan found a beautiful abalone shell, while Boyd found someone’s lost Ducksworth of Bathington.

After that, they took a trip scuba diving.  It was a little intimidating at first, but they got the hang of it before long.  Each of them spent a few hours underwater at Rocky Reef.  Not only did they find it fascinating to study the underwater sea life in its natural habitat, but they even picked up a few seashells and other samples to identify and study later on. 

Dinner that night was out on the town at a local lounge.  Susan enjoyed the chance to show off a necklace she bought shopping earlier in the day, and the compliments from her husband, who got into quite a romantic mood after trying some new fruity drink at the bar. 

Later, they even did a bit of dancing, although neither was the most coordinated of individuals.

The following morning, Boyd and Susan took the fishing class that their job would reimburse them for.  They learned a surprising amount about the differences in tropical ocean life compared to that of the Sunset Valley area.  After the class was over, they went out boating and visited some small uninhabited islands that were open to the public. 

They practiced some of their newly learned fishing tips and kept some more samples of shells and plants for both scientific and souvenir purposes.

The rest of their trip was no less eventful.  One day, they went to a smaller local island and toured the museum there.  Afterward, they did some shopping, and had lunch at a café and bakery in one of the island’s original buildings from when it was first settled.  Both agreed that it had pastries so good that they put the hotel’s to shame.

Another night, they tried the resort’s famous fire walk challenge.  Boyd wasn’t much of a fan of it.

Susan, on the other hand, toughed it out and won a prize – a premium foot soak and pedicure in the spa, and a coupon for $100 worth of their skin care products.

Like all good times, however, their vacation eventually came to an end.  After spending their last day at relaxing at the resort, Boyd and Susan headed back to Sunset Valley in great spirits.

While Blair’s parents were away in the islands, Blair herself was still adjusting to her new lifestyle.  After she finished unpacking and arranging things how she liked them in her room, she crashed and slept straight through to the following morning.  The stress and energy of moving had taken its toll on her.

The following day it seemed like hardly anyone was around.  Emma took an art class in the morning and worked all day, and Tamara was not home.  Cycl0n3 was, but he was on and off of the computer and obviously distracted.  By mid-afternoon, he still hadn’t bothered to get dressed and was wearing what he’d slept in, and he was fuming as he wolfed down some leftover pancakes Emma left behind.

When Blair asked him what was the matter, he launched into a tirade about how he and some online friends with names like WarzLordz and Girbits went in to take down some spider alien hive in a place with a weird name she had already forgotten, but another group showed up and stole something or other from them, and it was an affront to their entire guild, so they were plotting a suitable revenge.  He then muttered something about a space marine and some weaponry, and went back to his room, still chewing on his final mouthful of pancakes after shoving the plate into the dishwasher.  Needless to say, she let him be after that.

Blair took a trip to the gym and met up with Justine, who, even though she was pregnant, was not letting it slow her down on her workout routine.  Justine confided in her that due to her light duty restrictions at work, she would be rearranging the shift load a bit, and that Blair might need to work a few extra hours in the upcoming months.  She also let Blair know that there was a logic class over at Landgraab Industries that was highly recommended for all the rookies, and that if she took it sooner rather than later, she might be able to get a promotion for her approved in the near future.

A quick check of the schedule online showed that class had a session that afternoon, so Blair squeezed that in after her workout.  She found it surprisingly easy, and much of it seemed like second nature to her.  The instructor complimented Blair on her performance, and then asked if she was any relation to Boyd or Susan Wainwright, who worked there with him.  When she told them she was their daughter, he laughed.  “No wonder you scored so well.  Genius must run in the family.”

It was dinner time when the class ended, so Blair stopped for a bite to eat.  When she came home, she found Tamara in the kitchen area with some guy she didn’t recognize.  He looked to be around Tamara’s age, maybe a little older, with a scruffy look and shifty eyes.

“Hi,” Blair greeted them.  She tried to quell her gut reaction to finding someone she didn’t know in their home.  She knew that logically she had no right to argue or complain, as the unofficial household policy on guests was that it was fine to have a friend over without asking as long as no one was sick, they weren’t being loud when others were sleeping, and it wasn’t someone who had caused problems before.  It still caught her off guard, though, and strangers in her home space made her feel anxious.

Tamara was getting herself a drink from the bar.  “Hey, Blair.  How’s it going?”

“It’s going all right.”

“This is my friend Xander Clavell,” she said, gesturing to her guest.  “Xander, this is Blair, our newest roommate.”

“Oh, yeah.  The cop.  I heard about you from Ayesha.”

Blair blinked.  Ayesha?  Wasn’t that the name of Emma’s friend?  She hadn’t even met her.  What was there for her to say about her?

“Xander and Ayesha work together,” Tamara explained.

“And that’s all we’re going to say about it, right, Tam?” Xander gave her a meaningful look.

She chuckled.  “Yeah.”  Tamara looked over at Blair.  “Want one?  I mix a good juice.”

“No thanks.  I’m kind of full from the diner.”

“Probably a good idea.  Tam makes them strong.”  Xander grinned at Tamara.  “I feel like a lightweight after one or two of her specials.”

“This isn’t one of those.  I’m done with my juice-crash hangovers, especially when I have to go into work early in the morning, thank you very much.”

“I know, I know.  I was just warning her.”

Blair was not sure what to say.  She could not relate at all.  “Thanks, but, um, I’m really not much of a juice drinker anyway.”

She felt Xander’s eyes on her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.  “Really?”  He chuckled.  “Then again, you are kind of young, aren’t you?  It probably hasn’t been that long since it wasn’t even legal for you to buy juice.”  He paused and then added, “No offense or anything.”

“None taken,” Blair said, even though it was not quite true.  As much as she liked Tamara, something about her friend put her off. 

Tamara sat down at the table with Xander.  “Blair just graduated this year.  She and Cycl0n3 knew each other in school.  He’s the one who introduced her to us.”

Xander snickered.  “Wow.  So that makes, what, three girls he’s actually talked to in his life, the others being you and Emma?  Not counting his mom?”

Blair’s opinion of Xander fell lower, but Tamara spoke up before Blair could come up with an appropriate response.  “That was harsh.  Yeah, he’s nerdy, and pretty awkward sometimes, but he’s all right.”

“He’s a huge freakin’ geek, Tam.  I know you’re friends with him and all, but seriously, when do you think is the last time he had a date that wasn’t on his computer?  Never mind a girlfriend.”

“Actually, he’s had at least two girlfriends that I’m aware of,” Blair informed Xander in a slightly elevated tone.  “One in high school and one at the beginning of his last semester at University.  Neither dumped him for being too geeky.  Believe it or not, there are women who appreciate an intelligent man.  Just for the record.”

“Hey, relax, babe.”  Xander held up a hand.  “I was just joking around.  No need to take it personally.  Sorry I insulted your friend.”  He lowered his voice and muttered under his breath, “Even if he is kind of a jack—”

A sharp interjection from Tamara cut Xander off before he could finish.  “So, yeah.  How, about those Llamas?  Think they’ll win this season?”

Blair appreciated Tamara’s subject change, but even after she left and went upstairs, she still felt frustrated.  She had told herself that she could handle unexpected situations with her roommates, but now she wondered if it would be more of a challenge than she thought.  Well, it would’ve been worse in a dorm at University, right? Blair retreated into her room, where she stayed the rest of the night.

Fortunately for Blair, there were no more unpleasant incidents like that in the days that followed.  The next day, she vented to Cycl0n3 about Xander, and his response of, “Yeah, I can’t stand that loser, either,” made her feel better and somewhat vindicated.  She refrained from complaining about Xander to Tamara, since he was her friend, but she hoped that Tamara would not bring him by again anytime soon.  She was curious what Emma thought of him, but as it turned out, Emma’s schedule was so different from hers that Blair barely saw her third roommate and never got a chance to ask.  It was a shame, because she liked Emma and wanted to get to know her better.  It was odd to be near strangers with someone she shared living space with.
Almost as odd as living with someone she used to be pretty much the opposite of strangers with.

Although Blair was comfortable around Cycl0n3, and could take his quirks in stride with better ease than Tamara and Emma, sometimes it felt too comfortable.  Like when he would stroll out to the kitchen for a snack in nothing but his boxers.  At first, Blair chalked up the awkward feeling that induced to secondhand embarrassment, like she often felt when he did something inappropriate around others.  But that wore thin when Blair realized that sometimes, she felt that way even when Cycl0n3 wasn’t doing anything weird.  When all he was doing was looking at her for what felt like a moment too long, or when he would casually touch her with an arm around the shoulder or lean in close and whisper a juicy bit of gossip. 

Blair tried to tell herself that feeling, the one that left her wanting to get closer to and run away from Cycl0n3 all at the same time, was nothing more than nostalgia.  Surely it would fade in time, once she was used to her new living situation.  She just needed to keep a clear head and stay logical about the situation. 

Especially now that the time had come for their fifth roommate to move in.

Blair took a steadying breath and tried not to be anxious as Tamara brought him upstairs to meet them.

“Guys, this is Stiles, our new roomie,” Tamara said as they gathered together.  “Stiles, you already met Emma, and that’s Blair and Cycl0n3.”

Stiles gave them a small wave.  “Hey.  Nice to meet you.”

Blair had not been sure what to expect, but the clean cut and seemingly normal guy whose most distinguishing characteristic was his slight southern drawl was not it. 

“Welcome to our humble abode,” Emma greeted him warmly.

Cycl0n3 grinned.  “Yeah, welcome aboard.  I’m the crazy nerd you’re sharing a bathroom with that Tam probably warned you about.  But for the record, I deny everything.”

Blair didn’t know quite what to say after that, so she just said, “Hi.”

“Thanks.  Glad to be here,” Stiles replied, his gaze traveling from Emma to Cycl0n3 and then to Blair. 

His smile was warm and genuine, and Blair returned it with one of her own.  She felt a great sense of relief that she did not get any unpleasant vibes from their new roommate.  Quite the opposite, actually.  Stiles seemed like a nice guy. 

See?  Nothing to worry about.  You can handle this, Blair told herself as they helped Stiles move his things in.  Everything will be just fine.

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Offline karlissa

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 8
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2014, 08:00:48 AM »
Blair has Jinxed it.

I think Xander is going to get arrested while Blair is on patrol and then things will get awkward.
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Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 8
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2014, 08:11:58 AM »
I particularly liked Boyd and Susan's vacation. 

Without the cap, Xander actually scrubs up quite well.  It's a pity he's such a wastrel.  I've always thought he should have had the loser trait (although inappropriate covers that too) but I like your take on him.  Very believable.  Poor Tam! 

And Stiles looks nicer out of the plaid.  I really like how you've dressed all your characters.
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Brief Update/Message
« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2015, 11:58:19 AM »
I realize it's been a while since I updated this story, but I wanted to post to let anyone still following it know that I haven't abandoned it. I actually have a good chunk of the next chapter done, and have been working on it.  I hope to get it up before too much longer.  Sorry about the long inactivity on it!

Also, to respond to the last couple of comments (thank you for those, by the way!):

Blair has Jinxed it.

I think Xander is going to get arrested while Blair is on patrol and then things will get awkward.

Xander does seem to be a trouble magnet. And if the way Tamara flirts with him is any indication, she finds that attractive, even if she won't admit it!  :D

I particularly liked Boyd and Susan's vacation. 

Without the cap, Xander actually scrubs up quite well.  It's a pity he's such a wastrel.  I've always thought he should have had the loser trait (although inappropriate covers that too) but I like your take on him.  Very believable.  Poor Tam! 

And Stiles looks nicer out of the plaid.  I really like how you've dressed all your characters.

Thank you!  I enjoy making over the base game sims in newer stuff.

Xander really does seem like he should have the loser trait, doesn't he?  He's a decent looking sim, but between the commitment issues, inappropriate, and mooch traits, not to mention the criminal career, he's not exactly who a sim lady would want to bring home to meet the parents. It's probably a good thing that Blair doesn't find him at all attractive.  If she did date him, I imagine Boyd and Susan would both be wishing she had run off to Lucky Palms and eloped with Cycl0n3 instead.

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 9
« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2015, 01:49:59 PM »
Author's Note: Phew! I finally got this updated! Fair warning, this chapter is wordy compared to previous ones. My aim is to keep them shorter than this, but since I like to include both what Boyd & Susan are up to as well as Blair in a given chapter, it didn't feel right splitting it. 

This is also pretty much the transition point where the 'prequel' backstory that took place prior to starting the game ends, and events from my game play in the save this is based on start factoring in.  In said save, I played Boyd and Susan's household only, but with NRaas story progression running, I got regular updates on Blair's life as well, so she will still be as much of a focus as she has been throughout it. I hope you get a kick out of the twists and turns of the story as it goes from here. Thanks for reading!

Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley

Chapter 9

Now that their vacation was over and they were back in Sunset Valley, it was back to the grind for Boyd and Susan. Both came back to work with a pile of stuff on their desk, messages to go through, and plenty of lab gossip to catch up on upon their return. Judy called Susan into a meeting first thing, while Boyd started in on an analysis that had a looming deadline.

Madison, the lab tech assigned to help on Boyd’s projects, was already there when he arrived. She had been working with him for a few months now, and although they did not have much in common, they had a friendly rapport. Madison was easy to get along with, if not a bit prissy and clumsy at times, but she was enthusiastic and had a playful outlook on things that reminded Boyd a little of Blair, especially since she was not all that much older than her. “Welcome back,” she greeted him. “How were the islands?”

“Sunny, picturesque, and relaxing. Seeing the marine life up close was fascinating, even if scuba diving itself is kind of nerve wracking. Especially when there are sharks involved.” He shuddered. “One swam a little too close for comfort. I could live without ever seeing a shark again, except for maybe on TV.” He went over to the white board to work out a calculation. “So, what did I miss last week?”

“The end-of-quarter freezer sample inventory, some guy turning in a pink diamond he found up in the hills by the beach—seriously, why are the only rocks I ever find the annoying kind that get in my shoes, and not gemstones worth a small fortune?” She made a face. “You also missed a really long and boring department meeting on Friday afternoon.”

“Oh. What a shame.” Boyd tried to hide his smirk; he and Susan had deliberately picked the week of the monthly department meeting for their vacation. Their boss, Judy, was notoriously thorough, and her meetings were always tedious to sit through. Even Susan had trouble staying awake in them, and she was probably the most diligent employee Landgraab Industries had.

“I know, right? It dragged on for over two hours. I almost fell asleep, but Gobias woke me up before Judy saw.” She sighed. “Staying up until 2 in the morning the night before probably didn’t help, but my new boyfriend likes to go out and stay out late. He’s kind of a partier. But he’s so much fun,” Madison gushed. “I wish my roommate would stop going on about him, though. She doesn’t like him and thinks he’s a jerk.”

“And I take it he’s not, if you’re seeing him?” Although Boyd was not particularly interested in Madison’s personal life, he knew from experience that she would talk about it anyway. She could be quite the chatterbox.

Madison bit her lip. “Well… he can be a little sarcastic and mean sometimes, I guess, but that’s just moods he gets in. He’s not a bad guy. He just doesn’t always think before he talks.” She giggled. “And he’s cute.”

“My daughter dated someone like that,” Boyd remarked, thinking of Cycl0n3.

“How’d it turn out?”

“Fine while they were together. He put his foot in his mouth sometimes, but luckily for him, Blair’s pretty forgiving. They’re still friends. Close enough that she lives with him and some other roommates.” Boyd still questioned the wisdom of that, but Blair seemed to be handling it all right so far.

“She must really care about him, then.” Madison smiled. “That’s how I feel about Jared. I know he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but he’s not this monster people like his ex make him out to be.” She frowned. “Jared says she’s just bitter, and lies and exaggerates stuff all out of proportion. My roommate works with his ex, so she’s heard her go on about him. But she’s totally biased! She doesn’t even know him! His ex gets all the sympathy just because she’s pregnant. It’s not like Jared even knew. She found out about it after they broke up.”

Boyd raised an eyebrow. To him, Madison’s dating situation sounded like a drama minefield, one that would make good fodder for one of those daytime talk shows where angry exes shouted about paternity and lie detector test results. “It sounds like a complicated situation.”

“It is, but it’s all right. He and I have been friends for a while, you know, and it was actually this whole thing with his ex that made him realize how much he cared about me. He told me I’ve been the only one really there for him. Even his brother, who’s usually such a sweetie and really supportive of him, is giving him a hard time.”

Boyd was not sure what to say to that, so he was relieved when Gobias came in and ended the conversation for them.

“Hey, guys. Did Judy break the big news to you yet?”

Boyd and Madison exchanged puzzled looks. “Nope.”

“What news?” Boyd asked.

“Ah. I’ll take that as a no.”

Madison gave him a pointed look. “You could always tell us.”

“Please do,” Boyd added. “Otherwise I’m going to imagine nothing but worst-case scenarios, and on my first day back from vacation, I’d rather not.”

“Oh, it’s nothing catastrophic, Boyd,” Gobias said with a laugh. “Just boils down to extra work. Some of it related to the higher-ups wanting more ways to measure our progress in economic terms, like Judy was saying at the meeting last week. Be glad you missed that one. Ugh. It was a doozy. Maddie here almost started snoring in the middle of it.”

“I was not snoring,” she protested haughtily. “I wasn’t even asleep.”

Gobias laughed. “I guess you were just watching that fascinating power point presentation with your eyes closed, then?” He looked at Boyd. “Anyway, we’ve now got to justify the expenditures of our projects with measurable progress and results according to these criteria some accounting guy in corporate came up with.”

Boyd groaned. “Oh, great. How much time are we going to be wasting with paperwork to prove how efficient we are?”

“Enough to counteract any hope of efficiency,” Gobias replied wryly. “That’s not all, though. Judy’s probably telling Susan now…”

In one of Landgraab Industries’ meeting rooms, Susan sat down at a table with Judy. “Welcome back from vacation, Susan. I hope you and Boyd had a good time.”

“We had a wonderful time,” Susan replied. “The islands are beautiful, and Sparkling Sands is a great resort. If you ever get a chance to go to Isla Paradiso, you should stay there. The service and amenities were excellent. Have you ever had a volcanic mud bath in an island spa? Now I can say that I have, and it was worth every penny.”

Judy let out a small laugh. “Well, it sounds great, but Jack and I don’t really get to take those kinds of vacations. Not with all the kids and our schedules. If we can coordinate a trip to Llama World for the family for the week, it’s a small miracle. But they’re worth it.” She set her folder down at the table. “Speaking of which, that’s got something to do with the reason I called you in here.”

Susan gave her a questioning look. “Oh?”

A bright smile lit up Judy’s face. “I’m going out on maternity leave as of next week. Jack and I are having another baby.”

“A baby. Wow.” Susan was surprised, even though she remembered Judy mentioning that she was thinking about having another child not long ago. It had surprised her then, too. Not only because Judy already had four children ranging from a few years younger than Blair to as little as six years old, but also because she and Boyd used to feel overwhelmed raising just one at times. Susan supposed that some were more cut out for parenthood than others, and that Judy was one of those who was. Susan could barely imagine what it would be like to have a baby at that point in her life. “Congratulations,” she told Judy. “You must be very happy.”

“Oh, we’re thrilled! We’ve been wanting just one more. I love kids, and having a big family.”

“Well, you certainly have that.” Susan made a mental note to message Jack with congratulations on SimBook later.

“I do. And I know I’m going to miss Ethan when he goes off to University in a couple of years, or moves out. Having the youngest to take care of will keep me going until the grandkids start coming along.” She gave Susan a sympathetic look. “I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for you with Blair moving out.”

“I miss her sometimes, but she’s on SimBook a lot, and Boyd and I talk to her on the phone pretty often.” She chuckled. “Although I’m in no rush to be a grandparent. I like to think I look too young to be ‘Grandma’ to anyone.”

“Well, I don’t think any of us want to look like Grandma,” Judy joked back. “But I bet you’ll be proud whenever she does get married and give you and Boyd some grandkids to spoil.” She glanced at the clock. “Anyway, I know that my going out on maternity leave will put some strain on the workload here, and it’s at a time when we really don’t need it. I went over this at the meeting last week while you and Boyd were on vacation, but since you missed it, here’s what’s going on. The Landgraabs are taking an interest in Landgraab Industries again. Back in the day, Chester Landgraab kept tabs on the project pipeline here, but in the years since he passed, they’ve been more hands-off. Nancy Landgraab doesn’t have the medical background her father did, and her pet projects haven’t ever been in our line of work. But I guess the hit we took in the market last quarter caught her eye, and as a primary shareholder, she rattled the suits up in corporate about our productivity and efficiency. Never mind that scientific research can’t and shouldn’t be done assembly line style, but try explaining that to a board that has more members with MBAs than PhDs.”

Susan cringed. “Oh, no.”

“That was my reaction,” Judy said. “As your department head, I now have to report on the viability and potential profitability of all the projects everyone reporting to me is assigned to, and also justify my headcount. As in, do I need as many employees as I have, and if so, why are they an asset to the company more so than someone else in another department? Because we were told we have to cut 10% across the board, but they’re ‘reasonable’ enough to not make each department lay off 10% of their staff. It’s going to be by what projects and employees look the best and worst on the financial spreadsheet.” She let out a weary sigh. “I hate this. An employee isn’t even something you can quantify like that, but for instance, even though you and Boyd have worked here for twenty years and have so much experience, your unfinished degrees put you at just barely more desirable than a relatively new hire with one, like someone who’s got a degree but only a few years of experience.”

“What?!” Susan was outraged. “Even though we’re working on them, and just logged a couple of credits for continuing education with our diving and fishing classes in Isla Paradiso? Which was technically working while on vacation?”

“I know,” Judy said, shaking her head. “Believe me, I know what you both contribute. You’re one of the hardest workers in this place. There were a few things I wanted to say about it, but after the accountant pointed out my lack of degree to the whole room in a condescending tone, I realized he’d probably just note me down as not being a ‘team player’ or some nonsense, and take it out on my staff.” She tapped at her folder. “The good news is that your research is solid, and it’s been producing results. Same with Boyd’s. It also looks good that you’ve been working on your degrees. But it’ll look better if you can finish them before the end of the year, when we have to file the next productivity report.”

“That soon? We both have 18 credits left. We’d have to attend a full semester in the fall to do that.”

“I know it’s inconvenient timing, especially considering I’ll be out on maternity leave, but if there’s a way you could do that, we can arrange a light remote work load where you just check in a few hours a week. It’ll make you look even more diligent and dedicated. My supervisor was the one who suggested that to me, as a way for you and Boyd to keep your positions secure. With a completed degree and your experience, you’d both be not only gold star employees on paper, but up for a promotion. They want to put you on my level, Susan, but not until your degree is completed.” She paused. “If you’re concerned about your projects, Gobias will be overseeing them since he’s the most experienced. Madison and Christopher both need some more responsibility to justify their positions, and we’re confident they’re up to handling the grunt work involved. But of course, this all depends on whether you and Boyd can do it.”

Susan thought for a moment. Although they had planned to finish their degrees in the near future, now that Blair had moved out, it seemed that fate wanted to ensure that they got right on it. “I think we can.”

“I’m glad,” Judy said with a breath of relief. “If you do, our department will be one of the best here, on paper and in practice, and none of you will have to worry about a thing as far as job security goes. Thanks, Susan. I knew I could count on you.”

Susan straightened. “Do you want me to send Boyd in to talk to you?”

“Actually, you can go ahead and tell him. I know the two of you need to make your own plans and arrangements, and it’ll free me up to work on rearranging the project load. Let me know after you’ve worked out the details, okay?”

After she left the meeting room, Susan found Boyd in his lab, working on an analysis. “Hi, honey. How busy are you right now? Do you have a few minutes?”

“Sure. Give me a minute to finish this sequence.” He double-checked the screen against what he had just typed. “So, I hear Judy’s going out on maternity leave soon. Can you believe it? They’re going to have five kids.”

Susan smirked. “No one can say the Bunches don’t have an apt surname.”

Boyd straightened and turned toward Susan. “True enough. So what did you need to talk about?”

“Let’s go into your office. You’ll probably want to sit down.”

“That sounds ominous,” he said as he followed Susan into the adjoining room.

“So, here’s the deal.” Susan proceeded to explain the situation as Judy had explained it to her. “If we want to make sure our positions here stay secure, we have to sign up for a full semester at Sims U this fall, and finish our degrees. We’ll be set and promoted if we do, and out of danger because it’ll make our department look really good, but if we don’t…”

“Looking anything less than spectacular puts us at risk of being the headcount on the chopping block,” Boyd finished.

“Pretty much.”

“I guess there are worse job assignments than to go take classes you were planning on taking eventually anyway,” Boyd mused. “At least they didn’t drop this on us until after Blair graduated. Maybe we can get some grants or scholarships to help cover the bills while we’re there.” He frowned. “If we’ve got to live there for a semester, that’s short notice to find a place to stay. I know you don’t want to live in a dorm any more than I do.”

“Probably less,” Susan replied with a look of distaste at the thought. “Shared bathrooms and kitchens, and a small room with thin walls that force us to hear juiced-up college kids hollering at all hours of the night? No thank you.”

“Don’t forget the rich microbial ecosystem that you’re likely to find in every mattress in said dorm,” Boyd said with a shudder.

“Thank you for that lovely mental image, dear.” Susan winced. “I’m sure we can find an off-campus house or apartment to rent. Hopefully one that doesn’t have milk-crate furniture. I’ll start looking tonight when we get home.”

Blair came home from work ready to relax. It had not been a particularly bad or tiring day, but it had its share of small annoyances, and she was glad to be home. She almost collided with Stiles as she came in the door, while he was on his way out.

“Whoa. Sorry,” he said, stepping back. “I didn’t see you coming. My carpool’s waiting, but I got halfway down here and realized I forgot the card with this new band manager’s number, and I’ve got to call him tonight since I couldn’t get him earlier.” He gave her a sheepish smile. “No excuse for almost knocking you over, though. Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay.” Blair smiled back at Stiles. He had turned out to be a pleasant addition to the household. Although he tended to keep to himself, and she did not know him all that well yet, he was always polite and personable. He was also quite good on the guitar, and sometimes she could overhear him practicing alone in his room. The rich tunes he strummed out were quite catchy, and she would have liked to compliment him on them, but she never felt right bothering or interrupting him. More so than anyone else in their household, Blair understood what it was like to need personal space, and she imagined Stiles probably had his fill of dealing with other people in his line of work. She could certainly relate sometimes. She liked her job, but there were aspects of it that made her want to hide in her room and forget about the rest of the world for a while, too. “Have a good night, Stiles.”

He turned and gave her a warm look. “Yeah, you too, Blair. Thanks.”

She found the place strangely quiet and dark when she got upstairs. Blair knew Emma was working that evening, but both Tamara and Cycl0n3 should have gotten off of work around the same time she did, so she wondered where they were. Sometimes Tamara went out with friends after work, usually to a place like Mick’s karaoke bar or that new lounge that had opened downtown, but that wasn’t Cycl0n3’s kind of thing.

Her stomach rumbled, so she headed for the fridge. Emma had made cinnamon rolls earlier that morning, and while that was not an ideal dinner, some of Emma’s delicious home cooked junk food sounded great right about then. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found. A quick glance in the dishwasher confirmed that they’d already been finished off. “Oh, great.” Blair debated ordering take-out or attempting to cook macaroni and cheese, and then decided she’d figure that out after getting changed out of her work clothes.

When she was on her way back downstairs, she heard what sounded like keys being slammed onto a counter and loud and angry muttering. “Cycl0n3? Are you okay?”

“Do I look okay?” Cycl0n3 snapped, whirling around to face her.

It was then that she saw that he was soaked from head to toe. “Oh. What happened?”

“Life,” he muttered. “My crap job. Everything.” He sighed. “I’m miserable, Blair. I hate this job. Do you have any idea how boring the stuff I do is? How mind-numbingly tedious? I’m so tired of it, and the office politics, too. They suck! Plain and simple. I’ve got to swallow so much bull that by the time I’m ready to leave, I want to punch someone’s face in. Or at least tell them what I really think. Every time I get ready to, Connor’s like, ‘Relax, it’s not worth it,’ and I let it go, but I swear, I’d have already cracked my keyboard over a few heads if he hadn’t stopped me. Today, despite a stupid deadline that was more unrealistic than thinking the latest TarzWar patch wouldn’t have bugs, I got my stuff done, only to have Victoria come over and harp on me over one misplaced comma, like I didn’t know that it could change context, when it was just a mistake.” He scowled. “I managed to not tell her where to shove her comma, but only because it was already ten minutes past quitting time, and I just wanted her to shut up. I still ended up missing my carpool, so I had to get a taxi. And I had no idea it was supposed to rain today, so I had no umbrella, so I was already soggy by the time my ride showed up. Then, to top it all off, when I finally got home, the jerk driving behind the taxi hits a puddle in front of our walk at full speed, and tsunamis me with it.” He took a deep breath, but he wasn’t done ranting. “So I come upstairs, thinking at least I can have one of those godlike cinnamon rolls Emma made to warm my cold, soaked soul, but no. Someone ate them all. Screw my life.”

Blair went over and gave Cycl0n3 a hug. It caught him off guard, but it also soothed his anger. He put his hand on her arm, and then turned to look at her, not quite letting go. “Blair, I’m all right. Just aggravated. Today really sucked.”

“I know,” she said softly. “Try to remember that this is just a temp job, and it’s not forever. Before long you’ll be going back to University.” She felt a bit wistful as she said it, thinking about how she would miss him.

Cycl0n3 looked away, his expression hard. “Actually… I won’t.”

Blair blinked in surprise. “What?”

“I’m not going back, Blair. Not yet, anyway.”

“Why not? I thought you were doing well there.”

Cycl0n3 let out a weary sigh. “I am. I was. I guess.” He slumped down on a bar stool by the counter. “But I’ve come to realize some things lately. I just… I just don’t want to go back.”

Blair was shocked. “You don’t? But why? I thought you were happy there last year.”

“It was all right. But it wasn’t… I don’t know. I just know I hate my job. I hate everything about what I’ve been doing all summer. I hated a lot of stuff in my classes, too, even though I did all right in them. I like writing, but I don’t think I like this career. I think maybe I’m just not cut out for journalism.”

“You’re a great writer, Cycl0n3. I’ve read your stuff.”

He gave her a half-smile. “You mean my crappy Simstar Galactica fanfiction I wrote in high school?”

“It wasn’t crappy,” she protested.

“It wasn’t great,” he admitted. “And I suspect you only read it to humor me. You didn’t even watch SSG.”

“My parents watched it and talked about it enough that I knew most of what was going on, and what I didn’t, you explained.”

“That’s not really the point, though,” Cycl0n3 said. “Journalism isn’t anything like writing sci-fi or fiction. Well, no. I take that back. Some of the articles I proof are so puffed up or obviously sponsored that they might as well be fiction, but as I found out, that’s not the kind of thing you say to your supervisors. Back when I got into this, I thought that one day I’d be writing about great discoveries or interesting news stories a level above the dumbed down sensationalism stuff in the news these days. You know, educating the average reader so that one day, maybe the average intellectual level of the populace wouldn’t be the sort of idiots that surround us every day. But it turns out I was the idiot, or naïve at least. It’s nothing like that. I can tell even from peon level, looking at my boss, her boss, and their bosses. The jobs that aren’t are so hard to get that you have to pucker up and kiss so much butt to get them, that I’d have to invest in a lifetime supply of lip balm. So why should I even waste my time doing something I hate?”

Blair gave him a half-smile. “Now you sound like me when I told my parents why I wanted to join the force instead of go to University.”

Cycl0n3 chuckled. “Yeah, well, I have to say I didn’t see that coming from you, either, Officer Blondie.”

“I told you not to call me that.”

“You had the right idea, though. Life’s too short to not do what you’re meant to do, and I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to do this.”

“What will you do, then?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, my aptitude scores were highest for a tech degree, but I can’t picture going into law enforcement like you, or the freaking military. I’d last five seconds in that. I like working with computers, so maybe something in the IT field. But that’s all corporate, too, and I hate that. I thought a little about private investigating. It’s a little bit like the aspect of journalism I liked.”

“You’d be a great PI, I think,” Blair encouraged. “You’ve always been good at solving puzzles and mysteries, and some of the stuff you can do online… well, as a police officer, you probably shouldn’t talk to me about that, but I’m off duty.”

Cycl0n3 could not help but smile. “Thanks, Blair. I’ll give it some thought. Maybe I’ll see what kind of background I need for it, but in the meantime, I need at least a semester off. If nothing else, I don’t want to waste money on classes I might not need, and I should save what money I can with this soul-sucking void of a job I have now.” He glanced over at the refrigerator. “I’d still like to whack Stiles or Emma or whoever finished the last cinnamon roll with the empty plate, though. I’m starved, and there’s nothing decent to eat.”

“Hey, how about I order a pizza? You can change and,” she stepped back and looked his soggy clothes over, “maybe get a shower, and by the time you’re done, it’ll be here.”

“Okay. I guess I do need one.” He sighed, remembering something else. “Oh, no. I forgot I was supposed to do laundry yesterday. I only have enough work clothes for tomorrow. Great. Guess I get to hit the laundromat after work. That’ll make two days getting home and online late. Blizz has a raid planned for tomorrow, too.”

“Don’t worry about that now. Go and relax. You’ll feel better out of those dirty clothes.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” He headed down the hall. Blair called in the pizza while he was gone, and then her phone rang. It was her mother.

That call was the second bit of surprising news Blair got that day, and both were about University. First she found out that Cycl0n3 wasn’t going back for the upcoming term, and then her mother told her that she and her father were. Blair knew they wanted to finish their Science and Medicine degrees, but she never expected them to pack up and pound out the last of those credits in one final term. It struck her how weird it might have been if she had gone to University and they chose to do that.

“Let me know how you like dorm life,” Blair teased her mother in a playful tone.

“Right. Straight from luxury island resort accommodations to starving student ones,” Susan quipped on the other end of the line. “No, your father and I will be renting a house near campus. I just hope it doesn’t have roaches.” She paused. “Speaking of which, do you think you’d mind coming over to water our plants so they don’t die off while we’re away?” She heard a voice in the background. “Your father just asked me to add, especially the flame fruit in the lawn, if it hasn’t rained in more than a couple of days.”

“That giant vine by the kitchen table windows?”


“Okay. Make sure whoever’s mowing your lawn doesn’t cut it down, ‘cause it kind of looks like a weed.”

Susan chortled. “Don’t remind me. Anyway, have a good night, honey, and thanks for your help.”

“Anytime. ‘night Mom.”

The pizza arrived just after Blair’s call ended, and a cleaned up Cycl0n3 joined her in grabbing a slice. “That smells like cheesy tomatoey ambrosia. I say we eat it all and leave none for them.”

“I can’t eat half a pizza,” Blair laughed.

“Like it’ll make you fat. You weigh next to nothing.”

She swallowed the bite in her mouth. “Hey, I’ve actually put on a little muscle, you know. I work out every day.”

Cycl0n3 laughed. “I know. You’re nuts. Gym was bad enough in school, and you now go to one voluntarily. You’ve been spending too much time with Muscles.”

Blair rolled her eyes at his dig at Hank. “Staying in shape is something I have to do for my job. And Hank’s given me some good workout tips.”

“I bet. I’m sure he loves spotting for you, too. Watching you flex and twist and squirm in the name of checking your form.”

His sarcasm left Blair feeling defensive. “Actually, Justine’s been working out with me more lately. She just had her baby and wants to lose the extra weight. She’s been a great workout partner.”

“You and Justine, huh? Kinky.” Cycl0n3 grinned and took another bite of pizza.

Blair was about to respond to his quip when Tamara came in. As it turned out, she’d gone out to Mick’s with friends after work. When she spotted the pizza, she helped herself and joined them. The subject shifted to how dead and boring the bar was, and then Cycl0n3 told her all about his terrible day. The three of them chatted there for a while, until Blair began to feel tired and excused herself.

Later on, Blair was about to get in the shower before bed when she heard a knock on the door. “Blair? You still up?”

It was Cycl0n3. “Come in,” she said, surprised by his late visit. “What’s up?”

Cycl0n3 stepped in and shut the door behind him. “Hey. I saw you still had your light on. I’m not going to keep you up late on a work night or anything, but I just, well, I wanted to say thanks for listening earlier.”

“It’s no problem. What are friends for?”

“Yeah. But it really cheered me up.” He paused. “You’ve always been good at that, actually.”

“Thanks. I’m glad.” He was looking at her that certain way again, and Blair had a feeling she was doing the same. But we’re not together anymore. That was a long time ago...

“I’ve missed you,” Cycl0n3 said, moving closer into the space between them. “I didn’t realize how much until you came here.”

Blair felt her heart pound when he said that. “I missed you, too.”

Cycl0n3 leaned forward so their foreheads touched. “I’m so glad you’re here,” he said, and then he kissed her.

Much like it had been the first time they kissed all those years ago, it was tender and sweet, and when it ended, they found themselves smiling at one another.

“I’m glad I’m here, too,” Blair told him.

Cycl0n3 held her and brushed his lips against hers. “I promised I wouldn’t keep you up, so I won’t. Good night, Blair.” He planted another light kiss on her lips, and then let go.

“Good night, Cycl0n3,” she replied as he left. But he had been wrong. With what just happened on her mind, it was going to keep Blair awake for quite a while.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 9
« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2015, 04:50:57 PM »
Yesssss! Cycl0n3 and Blair back together!!   Well hoping for that anyway.  ;)  Terrific update Cheezey.  I'm sooooo glad you were able to get this story going again.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 9
« Reply #37 on: June 05, 2015, 07:59:57 PM »
Aw, that last part was adorable! I'm so glad to see Cycl0n3 and Blair together again!

But what amusing adventures await Boyd and Susan at Uni? This ought to be fun. :)

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 10
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2015, 09:10:53 PM »
Yesssss! Cycl0n3 and Blair back together!!   Well hoping for that anyway.  ;)  Terrific update Cheezey.  I'm sooooo glad you were able to get this story going again.

Thank you! Cycl0n3 and Blair are getting there, but you know how these inappropriate sims are... ;)

Aw, that last part was adorable! I'm so glad to see Cycl0n3 and Blair together again!

But what amusing adventures await Boyd and Susan at Uni? This ought to be fun. :)

Thanks! Glad you liked it! :)

I had a lot of fun with those two at University. They aren't quite there yet in this chapter, but will be in the one after this.

Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley

Chapter 10

Making the arrangements to register for the courses required to finish their degrees at Sims University during the upcoming term left Boyd and Susan scrambling to get what they needed done, but they managed to get it worked out in time. After a call to the administration office, a mascot delivered a kit for them, which included a test that served as an application for scholarship bonuses. Their high intellect and years of experience working in biological research made it easy for both of them to ace it, and they were awarded a generous bonus toward their tuition, freeing up other funds for them to live on while they were there.

There was only a short time left before they had to go, so they used the Sunday before they left to visit Blair. Although they had kept in close touch with her since she’d moved out, it had been comforting to know she was only a short drive away if they wanted to see her. That would not be the case once they went off to Sims U, and this time, they would be away much longer than for an island vacation.

They were on their way to the lofts when they passed by the park. Susan glanced out the car window and recognized her daughter and her roommates sitting at one of the picnic tables, so she and Boyd stopped at the park to catch up with them.

“Mom! Dad! Hi! I didn’t know you were coming out here today.”

“Actually, we were going over to see you, but we saw you from the car, so we figured we’d just say hello here,” Susan told her, while Boyd gave her a hug.

“We’re hitting the road tomorrow, and wanted to see you before we left,” he said.

“Oh, okay. Well, I’m glad you stopped by. I still can’t believe you’re going off to University. But I hope you aren’t going to be worried about me or anything. I’ll be fine.”

Boyd gave her a fond smile. “You know me. I worry all the time anyway.”

Susan noticed that Cycl0n3 lingered while Blair’s other roommates struck up a conversation with nearby park patrons. “How are you doing, Cycl0n3?” She still felt ridiculous calling him that. While she could understand calling someone by their screen name if that was all you knew them by, it felt odd doing so face to face.

“I get by,” he said with a shrug. “Blair keeps me out of trouble. Mostly.”

Blair laughed. “Oh, please. That’d be a full time job, and I already have one of those.”

“Yes, keeping people out of trouble. Isn’t that what you cops essentially do?” Cycl0n3 countered, while Boyd gave him a pointed look.

“Well, I hope you wouldn’t want to get her into trouble, either.”

“Nah. Of course not.”

“So, are you looking forward to the big trip, and that crazy 18-credit schedule?” Blair asked.

“18 credits, huh? Wow. You’re not going to get much sleep.”

“I think we can handle it,” Susan said confidently. “Besides, it’ll be an experience if nothing else, and then we’ll be done with our degrees for good. That alone will make it worth it.”

“I’ve heard the labs there are cutting edge,” Boyd said, holding up one of the brochures. “There’s some experimental equipment there that they let students use, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I also heard there’s a huge movie theater near campus, and that they show classic monster movies every weekend.”

“Oh, yeah! It’s right across from Keith’s Komics!” Cycl0n3 said enthusiastically. “The matinees are cheap, and the popcorn’s budget priced without being stale or lacking the proper ratio of salt and butter.”

Boyd’s eyes lit up. “There’s a comic shop, too?”

“Keith’s Komics is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. They’ve got every genre, every title, new issues, indie publishers, back issues, imports, and a decent manga selection. They’ve got some sweet Codzilla action figures, too. You know the ones they only released overseas about six years ago that they charge out the nose for on the internet? They have them. They’ve got a steep price tag, though.”

“I’ve seen those online. I was tempted to order the Mechacodzilla, but it was either that or my new tablet, and the tablet is more useful.”

“That place has free wi-fi, and a sweet gaming room, too. Everything from old school arcade games like Fire in the Skies to UFOware computer gaming stations. It’s a great place to kill time between classes.”

Boyd nodded. “It sounds like it. What games are on the UFOware stations?”

While Boyd and Cycl0n3 got onto a tangent geeking about computer games, Susan and Blair strolled toward the swings. “Careful, Mom. If they keep it up, Cycl0n3 and Dad might run off to play TarzWar together and never return.”

“Oh, honey, you have no idea.” Susan thought about how Boyd had discovered that one of his guild mates actually was Cycl0n3, and how he had yet to reveal that fact to anyone but her. Aside from the bombshell about Blair moving out, nothing much had come from that trolling, although recently Boyd mentioned logging in on the tail end of a conversation Cycl0n3 was having with their friend BlizzEgo about how “she was still into” him, followed with a wink. Boyd had theorized on the meaning of that, but without context he had no idea if it was Blair he was talking about or not.

“Cycl0n3 spends hours on that game, just like Dad.” She paused. “I wonder if he and Dad ever played together. That would be funny if it turned out they did, huh?”

“Stranger things have happened,” Susan remarked. “Speaking of which, how are things going with your own kind of strange living situation? It seems like you and Cycl0n3 are getting along well?”

A blush crept to Blair’s cheeks. “Um, yeah. We’re getting along pretty well.” She thought about the night Cycl0n3 kissed her. The two of them had talked the following evening, and both admitted that feelings they once thought they were over were maybe not as over as they thought. Now they were taking it slow and seeing where things went again, but Blair had not shared that with anyone other than Tamara. Emma and Stiles also had some idea, since it was hard to not notice something like that when living with someone. Blair and Cycl0n3 had not even used words like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” yet, though, and neither had changed their SimBook relationship status from single.

Susan noticed the change in Blair’s demeanor almost immediately, and gave her a knowing look. “I thought so.”


“Honey, I’m not going to give you any more concerned parent lectures. You’re a grown-up, and I know you well enough to know you’re going to do whatever your heart tells you anyway. If he makes you happy, I’m glad. And, well, your father and I can always let you know if we see him up to any shenanigans at Sims U when we’re all there.”

“Actually, he’s not going back. He’s staying here.”

“Is he?” Susan glanced over at Cycl0n3, where he was still chatting with Boyd, before turning back to Blair. “Well, that’s interesting. I guess he’s found something worth staying for. That’s actually quite sweet.” She smiled. “Sounds like something your father would’ve done back in the day. Before we found out we were having you, we were planning to go to the same university together, and hopefully live in the same dorm.”

Blair turned even redder. “Mom, it’s not like that. He’s thinking of changing majors. He doesn’t like his job and he doesn’t think journalism is the field for him, so he wants to figure out exactly what he wants to do before he puts more time in. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

Susan raised an eyebrow. “Sure it doesn’t.”

“I’m serious. He said that before we… well, before anything like what you’re thinking. I swear.” A couple hours before, sure, but it was still before, Blair thought.

“He may have questions about his job or major, but that’s not what’s keeping him in Sunset Valley. There are plenty of electives he can take as early in his academic career as he is while he makes up his mind. Just saying.”

Susan and Blair rejoined Boyd and Cycl0n3, who were in the midst of an in-depth discussion about the newest operating system release. Susan chimed in her thoughts, and then reminded Boyd of the time.

“Oh, yeah. We were going to go catch that new disaster movie that came out this weekend. It’s almost time, isn’t it?” Boyd looked at Blair. “Actually, we were going to ask if you wanted to join us, as a last family outing kind of thing before we go, but since you’re already out with your friends, we can just plan something when we get back.”

“Yeah, you kids have a nice time,” Susan said, giving Blair a hug. “Thanks again for keeping an eye on the house for us. Your father told me last night that you said Justine was spreading the word to the officers on patrol.”

“Be sure and thank her again for us,” Boyd added.

“Will do,” Blair said.

“And please let her know that Ethan Bunch is mowing our lawn, so if she sees him around our house, that’s fine. Jack said he was looking for some extra cash, so I gave him some money to pay Ethan with to take care of it for us.”

“Help yourself to some of that flame fruit if it ripens up, too. I bet Emma could make a killer cobbler with it,” Boyd remarked. On a previous visit to Blair, they had been treated to some of Emma’s delicious baking. Boyd had eaten about half a dozen chocolate chip cookies before they left, and Susan polished off more than a few herself.

“It’s a shame she couldn’t join us, but I’m glad we caught up with Blair like that. I can see she’s happy living with them, and she’s even going out and doing things with them. That’s great. She’s always been so shy.”

Susan nodded. “I know. She’s really come out of her shell. I’m glad. I won’t worry quite as much as I might have a few months ago, if we’d had to leave for a whole term away like this.”

“She knows she can always call us, anyway,” Boyd said. “I think she’ll be okay.”

“I think so, too.” Susan leaned a little closer and lowered her voice. “Although I think Cycl0n3 has something to do with that. We were right on the money, you know.”

Boyd laughed. “They’re back together, huh?”

“She didn’t exactly say it, but it’s pretty clear that it’s happening, and she’s not even denying it anymore. He’s also not going back to University this term. He’s staying here. He told her it’s because he’s not sure about his career direction and major, but I’m sure Blair’s at least a factor. Especially when you consider how they were sitting together when we left.”

“Yeah. I saw that, too. I guess there’s no more need to wonder if the ‘she’ that Cycl0n3 in my guild said was still into him is our daughter.”


Boyd cast a quick glance in the direction of the park. “At least things seem to be working out, and if there is something going on between them, it’s probably better that he isn’t going back to University. For her and us. Imagine how awkward it’d be if it went bad, and we had class with him or something.” He shook his head. “Hopefully things won’t get weird for them. Well, weirder than they already are considering we’re talking about a guy who legally changed his name to his internet name.”

“Speaking of which, thank you for not ever making me Mrs. SpaceInvader,” Susan teased.

“I’m more than happy to have you as Mrs. Wainwright.” Boyd leaned over and kissed her. “Come on. We’d better get in, if we want to get popcorn and good seats before the movie starts.”

Back at the park, Blair and her roommates were still hanging out and enjoying their day off. “That’s so funny that your parents are going off to University this fall,” Cycl0n3 teased Blair. “I wonder if they’ll go to any keggers.”

“My mother wouldn’t be caught dead at a kegger. I can’t picture my dad at one, either. Do they look like party animals?”

“Can’t say so, no,” Stiles agreed.

Emma shrugged. “Hey, you never know. Kyle used to say the wildest partiers at University were the ones you least expected it from. The ones just waiting for a chance to cut loose and indulge their rebellious side.”

“Well he’d know all about that, wouldn’t he? We kind of thought he was a good, reliable kind of guy when he and Cycl0n3 went off to University last year, except he decided to flake out on us and stick us with several months’ rent so he could stay behind and party with his friends there,” Tamara said, bitterness in her voice. “I bet if you ask Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright when they get back, you’ll find out he’s bailed on his new buddy Randall and he’s now crashing and herbing it up with someone else.”

Blair blinked. “Herbing it up? You mean…?”

“Oh. Yeah,” Emma said. “Kyle’s a real fan of ‘spicing’ up dishes with special blends. You should ask Tam about the time he cinnamon-spiked the fruit juice at the Snowflake Day party we had over break last winter.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” Tamara snapped. “It was stupid. I ended up inviting the pizza delivery guy in and kissed him under the mistletoe without even knowing his name.”

“Like you needed cinnamon to do that,” Cycl0n3 quipped.

“Shut up, Cycl0n3.”

“Hey!” a cheerful female voice sounded from behind them. Blair turned and saw that it belonged to a pretty blonde woman with a flower in her hair, coming toward them with another woman she didn’t recognize beside her. “Stiles! How’s it going?”

Stiles gave them a wave. “Hey,” he greeted them, and turned to his roommates. “These two ladies are in the band with me,” Stiles said by way of introduction. “Zelda Mae and Pauline Wan. Zelda, Pauline, these are my roommates: Emma Hatch, Tamara Donner, Cycl0n3 Sw0rd, and Blair Wainwright.”

Although she had not met her, Blair immediately recognized Pauline’s name, and Pauline registered the same recognition. “Oh, hey! You’re Hank’s partner, aren’t you?” She gave her a friendly smile. “Nice to finally meet you, girl! Hank’s told me a lot about you.”

“He has, huh?” There was an edge to Cycl0n3’s voice as he spoke.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Pauline,” Blair replied. “Hank talks about you a lot. It’s great to finally put a face to his fiancée’s name.” She stressed the word, hoping Cycl0n3 would take the hint. Although Blair now understood that it was coming from a place of jealousy, she still found it frustrating, since she did not have any romantic feelings for Hank.

Zelda gave Cycl0n3 a curious look. “Cyclone Sword? That’s a pretty wild name. Stage name?”

“Screen name, actually.”

Emma laughed. “Yeah, he’s not a rocker. He’s a hacker.”

“I thought that was illegal.” Pauline gave Blair a curious look.

“I don’t ask the details of what he does online. It’s just easier that way.”

“The old ‘ask me no secrets and I’ll tell you no lies,’ right?” Pauline grinned. “That’s always been Hank’s motto for things like that.”

Zelda giggled. “Well, it’s hardly a secret that Hank’s all about the good time outside his badge. You two throw some of the best parties in Sunset Valley.” She winked at Stiles. “You should come next time they throw one. You’ll have a blast.”

“She’s right, you know,” Pauline agreed, before turning back to Blair. “You should, too. We’d love to cut loose with you sometime. Hank’s always saying what a sweetie you are.”

“Yeah, I bet he’d love to cut loose with a ‘sweetie’ like Blair,” Cycl0n3 said, staring right at her.

“Yes. He likes to hang out with his friends, that’s true.”

Although the tension felt palpable to Blair, Pauline either did not notice, or pretended not to out of politeness’ sake. “Absolutely. I hope we get to hang out more sometime, Blair. I’m starving, so I’m going to go grab a bite to eat, but it was great meeting you. The rest of you, too. See you at work tomorrow, Stiles. Later!”

Blair turned away, and she could sense Cycl0n3 standing behind her as others continued to chat with one another. “What was with that?” she asked in a low tone that only he could hear.

He just looked at her. “You really don’t know?”

“I know you were being pretty rude with someone you’ve never even met. Someone I’ve never met, until today,” Blair said, frustrated. “All because you’ve got this thing against Hank, for whatever reason. I don’t even get why. We’re friends, Cycl0n3. That’s all.”

“Yeah,” Cycl0n3 retorted. “We were friends, too. Real good friends.” He paused. “Just like you and Hank.”

Blair sighed. “It’s not the same thing. Not even close.”

“Really? Because I’ve seen how he is around you, Blair. How friendly and all partner-like, and how he’s always telling you he’s so there for you if you need him.”

“He’s all ‘partner-like’ because he’s my partner! At work,” she said with a note of exasperation. “Our lives depend on each other on the job. We need to have each other’s back. So yeah, because of that, he’s my friend and I care about him, and he cares about me. But there’s nothing romantic to it, Cycl0n3. There never has been. He calls me ‘little sister,’ for crying out loud. And even if he didn’t, he’s engaged to Pauline. Do you think he’d be talking to her about me and telling her about the stuff we do if he wanted to cheat on her with me? Seriously?”

Cycl0n3 frowned. “I don’t know. But I know how guys like him are. The partiers. The ones with reputations for dating a string of girls a mile long, and believe me, Muscles is one of those. Did you ever look at his internet dating profile?”

“What? No, but I take it you did,” Blair retorted.

“You might find it interesting to know that it doesn’t say anything about him being engaged.”

“His SimBook profile does.”

“Yeah. And yours and mine both say ‘single,’ too,” Cycl0n3 snapped. “So what does that tell you?”

Blair bit her lip and fought back a wave of emotion. “That maybe a status doesn’t tell the whole story.”

“Or that maybe, people make the profiles they want the target audience to see.”

Their voices had risen somewhat, and Blair realized that their private conversation was running the risk of becoming not so. “What are you saying, then? Is this even about Hank?” Her voice wavered as she tried to keep it down, and she edged farther away from the others. “Or are you saying you think I’m saying something with my status?”

“What I’m saying is… yeah, I kind of would like a status update,” he admitted. “On us and SimBook.”

“Okay, except I’m not so sure what that status is, Cycl0n3. Should I change mine to say that I’m ‘in a relationship’ and tag you in it? Because you haven’t said that we are,” she said, meeting his eyes. “Even when we’ve kissed, or—”

Cycl0n3 pulled out his phone and started typing on it.

Blair frowned. Did he just start texting in the middle of a conversation like this?! “What are you…?”


Blair’s phone beeped, but she ignored it.

“Go on. Check it. You have the SimBook app, right?”

She picked up her phone. There was a blurb on the screen from SimBook.

Cycl0n3 Sw0rd listed that you two are in a relationship. [Confirm] [Hide]

Blair’s ire fizzled away, and her expression softened as she clicked the confirm option.

Cycl0n3’s phone buzzed. He looked at his screen, and then at Blair, smiled at her.

“So, are we good, then?” Blair asked.

“Yeah.” He reached over and stroked her cheek. “We’re good, Officer Blondie.”

“Don’t call me that,” she protested playfully. “So when Hank likes or comments on that, will you promise to not be a jerk to him anymore, and accept that we really are just friends?”


“Good.” Blair hugged him.

“As long as he’s not flirting with you.”

After their movie was over, Boyd and Susan turned their phones back on upon leaving the theater. As soon as they did, SimBook flashed that they had unread updates. Both checked out of habit, and saw Blair’s name in the notifications.

Blair Wainwright is in a relationship with Cycl0n3 Sw0rd.

“Heh. I guess that makes it official,” Boyd remarked, looking over at Susan as he hit ‘like’ on his daughter’s status.

“A SimBook announcement. They are getting serious.” Susan thought for a moment. “If they get married, you don’t think our grandchildren will be named Sw0rd, do you? Will Blair?” She, too, clicked the like button, and typed a quick, “Happy for you, sweetie! :)

“Maybe not. She might hyphenate.”

“I’m not sure that Wainwright-Sw0rd would be any less weird.”

Boyd chuckled. “Quite a note to leave for University on, huh?"

“Thank the Watcher we have the internet to keep us updated.”

Bright and early the following morning, Boyd and Susan picked up their suitcases and headed out to the van that would take them on their long drive to Sims University.

“Well, I guess that’s everything,” Boyd said. “Ready to hit the road?”

“Did you check all the faucets and the stove one last time?” Susan gave him a pointed look. “Because in about two or three hours from now, you’re going to start second-guessing that you did.”

He nodded. “I did. Just before we left. You can tell me that then, too.”

“Good.” Susan set her travel mug in the holder. “We’ve got our things, we’ve got our coffee, and I know I locked the door, so we’re good to go.”

Boyd was about to start the van when he paused. “The coffee. Oh my Watcher, Susan. Did we unplug the coffee maker? It’s on a timer. What if it tries to brew empty tomorrow? That could start a fire…”

“I turned it off.”

“But did you unplug it?”

“I—I don’t know. I think I probably did. But I know it’s off.”

Boyd frowned anxiously. “What if there’s a power surge of some kind? It might cause it to turn on.”

“Then it would be reset anyway, and our timer would be erased.”

“What if it glitched and didn’t?”

Susan sighed and handed him the house keys. “Go on in and check it. I’m not spending a five hour drive with you freaking out over the coffee pot.”

He took them from her hand and hopped out of the car. “I’ll be right back.”

Five minutes later, and after a vigorous shake of the door to ensure that it was locked behind him, Boyd returned to the van with a much more relaxed expression. “Now we’re ready to go.”

Susan gave him an affectionate pat on the shoulder and turned the satellite radio to their favorite station. “Off we go.”

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 10
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2015, 09:06:03 AM »
I just loved this update Cheezey.  ;D   
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 10
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2015, 08:04:16 PM »
I love how you are portraying Cycl0n3's Inappropriate trait in this. :)

Offline karlissa

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 10
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2015, 11:33:25 AM »
Seems like Officer Blondie is a bit self-concious about how Cycl0n3 sees her friendship with Mr Muscle.

I just had to  ;D
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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2015, 09:04:57 AM »
I just loved this update Cheezey.  ;D   
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Thank you!  :)  As for what you mentioned behind the spoiler tag...
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I love how you are portraying Cycl0n3's Inappropriate trait in this. :)

Thanks! I'm glad you like it. Cycl0n3 is a lot of fun to write.

Seems like Officer Blondie is a bit self-concious about how Cycl0n3 sees her friendship with Mr Muscle.

I just had to  ;D

A bit, yes. ;) Blair and Hank are good friends in this save, but even if Cycl0n3 wasn't a factor, I don't think Blair would really think about Hank romantically as long as he was engaged to someone else, since she is both good and a hopeless romantic.  If he wasn't, I could see her being charmed by him, but if that happened, I suspect it would end badly, doomed by his commitment issues and heartbreaker lifetime wish. 

Chapter 11

Boyd and Susan arrived at Sims University eager to start their academic adventure. The drive there had been long, but not bad, for both were in good spirits. Boyd had even managed to not worry much, which surprised Susan a bit considering his habit of imagining worst case scenarios for everything. Back when they had come home from Isla Paradiso, a small bit of turbulence during the flight had him convinced that they were going to die somewhere over the Simuda Triangle, never to be seen again. Luckily, the only bad thing that came of it was a broken bottle of souvenir coconut juice in Susan’s suitcase. Boyd had been relieved, but Susan was aggravated that her expensive juice was gone, and that it left her clothes smelling like a late night beach party.

“This place isn’t too bad at all, honey,” Boyd remarked as they went into their rental home for the first time. It was no luxury palace, but it was close to campus and had reasonable rent. It came furnished, so they had not been sure what to expect.

Susan cast a critical look around the room. “Hmm. That TV’s at least ten years old, if not more, and what a small screen.”

“Yeah, but there are video games hooked up to it,” Boyd said, looking it over. “An older system, but they left a couple of classic games here.” He held up a disc. “Remember when Blair used to play this? She loved this game as a kid.”

“The couches aren’t stained. That’s a plus. Those chairs at the kitchen table look like butt-biters, though.” Susan sniffled.

Boyd shrugged. “At least they’re not milk crates.”

They spent the next couple of hours unpacking and settling in. Boyd set up a desktop computer on the house’s only desk, while Susan used her laptop at the kitchen table. Although the chairs were cheap, she was glad that they were not as uncomfortable as they looked. “Hey, even though classes don’t start until tomorrow, the administration hall’s open today. Did you know there’s an option to apply for extra funds available only here on campus?”

“There is? What’s it involve? Do we qualify?”

“It looks like it’s based on academic performance. We have to sit down with an administrator for an interview, but other than that, there doesn’t seem to be a catch. It’s not a loan.”

“Huh. Maybe we should give it a try.”

Susan shrugged. “Why not?”

They came out of the office with surprisingly large checks in their hand.

“I can’t believe they just gave us each two and a half grand to help with living expenses,” Boyd said. “You know how tempting it is to buy something cool with that?”

“Yes. We could replace that ancient TV with a much better one.” Susan sighed. “But I guess we shouldn’t waste the money on that when we’re on reduced pay due to time out of work.”


They took a walk to the courtyard in front of the administration hall, which had a pavilion with chess tables and benches. There were a handful of students wandering around, most of whom were much closer to Blair’s age than their own. Although they expected that, they still felt a little out of place. “Boyd, please tell me we don’t look as old as I think we do.”

He put his arm around her. “You never look old, honey.”

Susan smiled as they approached a chess table. “That was a good answer. Want to play a game?”

“Sure.” They reset the board and began to play.

“I read online that the chess circuit has active competitors here,” Susan said as she moved her pawn. “I’ve always wanted to get into that.”

“You should,” Boyd encouraged. “It’ll probably be easier to schedule around classes here than it would be back home, where we’ve got our work schedule to deal with. Students are more likely to have flexible hours.”

They finished their chess game, with Susan the proud victor, and then went to check out the student union, where a new student meet and greet was going on. There were information booths set up with freebies and information about the campus and classes, and some of the professors were there meeting the new students in their majors. Boyd and Susan introduced themselves to their professor, a man a bit younger than they were, who said that he thought it was great to see “older folks like you” coming back to complete their higher education.

“Older like us,” Susan huffed as they went to the second floor. “He’s, what, five years younger than we are at most? At least that’s what he looks like, if he’s not.”

“I don’t think he meant it as an insult. You know how it is. The proportion of students in the ‘professionals finishing their degrees’ demographic is much smaller than ‘kids starting out to get their degrees’ one. He probably thought he had more in common with us than them. That’s what I got out of it.”

“I guess.” It was clear that she was not convinced.

“Try not to let it get to you. Come on. Blast some pixels with me.” Boyd put some money into a nearby two-player arcade machine.

Susan did the same, and relaxed as they began to play. “Remember the arcade we hung out in back in high school had one of these?”

“Of course I remember. That was what we did on our first kind-of date.”

“Our first date was at the movie theater.”

Boyd glanced up at her over his glasses. “That night at the movies was our first official date. But the afternoon at the arcade was the first time I asked you to hang out with me outside of school, just you and me, that didn’t involve any kind of school project or studying. It felt almost like a date to me, with how nervous I was about you not finding me boring or too geeky or weird. I wanted so badly to ask you out and not get shot down in flames.”

“Like I just did to that five hundred point monster?” Susan replied with a grin. “But I wouldn’t have. I didn’t.”

Boyd fired a barrage of missiles at the boss monster on the screen. “I know that now, but sixteen-year-old me was not exactly the pinnacle of confidence.”

After a good session of asteroid blasting, Boyd and Susan got up from the table and helped themselves to some of the free food up for grabs. The chunky nougat surprise bars were stale and disappointing, so Boyd grabbed a soda from the vending machine, while Susan spotted a photo booth. “Look! Want to get pictures taken?”

“Oh, wow. I haven’t seen one of these things in ages,” Boyd said as he came over.

Susan put some money in the slot. “Come on. It’ll be fun.”

The two of them climbed into the booth, pulled the curtain, and laughed as they made exaggerated faces together while the camera flashed at different intervals. Susan pulled Boyd into a quick kiss while they were alone in the booth, and then he teasingly goosed her in return, which made her squeal with indignant laughter.

“Was that your juiced-up fraternity boy imitation?” she joked as they came out.

“When in Rome… Besides, you’re cute when you jump.”

They waited while the booth developed the pictures. “Depending on how these come out, do you think we should put them on SimBook as a pictorial memorial of our first day at Sims U?”

Boyd considered for a moment. “I don’t see why not. Our friends might get a kick out of them.”

The machine began to rattle and the sound of printing could be heard. A moment later, a photo sheet popped out of the slot, and Susan picked it up. When she looked at it, her eyes went wide.

“Never mind. We’re not putting these on SimBook.”

“Why not?”

Susan turned red in the cheeks as she pointed to one of the frames. “Do you see where your hand is? And the look on my face in that shot?”

Boyd let out a sheepish chuckle. “Oh. I, uh, didn’t think the camera caught that. Whoops.” He nodded with her in agreement. “No. Those aren’t going online.”

Once they were done at the meet and greet, Boyd and Susan grabbed dinner at the local burger joint, and then headed home. They hung up the free poster they got from the student union, and unwound for the night. Susan watched a nature show while Boyd caught up on and updated SimBook.

Boyd stretched in his chair and turned off the computer after a final check to his notifications. “It’s getting late. We should turn in so we’re ready for that early morning class.”

Susan clicked the remote to shut off the TV and stood up with him. “Probably. We’re too old to be up all night like these kids, after all,” she said sarcastically.

“Nah. We’re just well-trained for the harsh reality of early morning alarm clocks.” Boyd glanced over at the kitchen. “Especially in a house with no automatic coffee pot.”

“Oooh.” Susan winced. “We’ll have to get up early enough to hit the java hut down the road before class, then.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Back in Sunset Valley, Blair had a pleasant surprise waiting for her after she got out of her post-work shower: a freshly made platter of her favorite food, fish and chips. Emma was loading the last of the pans she’d used during cooking into the dishwasher when Blair came downstairs. “Wow! That looks so good!”

“Help yourself,” Emma said with a warm smile. She not only loved cooking and had a natural talent for it, but she also liked having others enjoy what she made. “You actually inspired me to find a recipe for this stuff and give it a try. It’s been ages since I had fried fish. Those cheap processed frozen fish sticks at the diner don’t count.”

“I did?” Blair asked, surprised.

“Yeah, remember when your parents came by right before they left on that trip to the islands?”

Blair nodded. Although she had kept in close touch with her parents since moving out, that had been the first time they came over to see her at her new place. Once Stiles had moved in, Blair had not been able to resist ribbing her father about his paranoia that he would turn out to be a serial killer. Boyd had taken that in stride and said he was glad to be wrong, but she also suspected that he and her mother wanted to see for themselves what kind of individuals her roommates were. It embarrassed her a bit, and made her feel like the baby of the household more so than usual, but none of her roommates said anything about it. Instead, Emma fed her parents, Tamara chatted them up, and Cycl0n3 played a console game with her father for the better part of an hour while Stiles played guitar for everyone.

“When your dad was telling me how much he liked the cookies I made, he mentioned how he and your mom don’t really cook much,” Emma told Blair. “Then your mom said something about how the last time she tried baking, it was your fifth birthday and she tried to make you a chocolate cake from a recipe, but burnt it up and ruined the pan. She said it made her so mad she swore she’d never try baking again.”

“Oh, wow. I remember that,” Blair said. “She was pretty upset. My dad ended up running out to the store to buy a cake. I felt bad about the whole thing. I remember telling my mom I’d make my own cake in my toy oven, but it only made her more upset.”

Emma chuckled. “I guess it would be pretty humbling to be outdone by your kid’s Little Baker Oven. But in all fairness, it is easy to screw up a cake if your oven’s not set right, or if you don’t use the right kind of pan. So I told her if she wanted to try again sometime to maybe go with something more forgiving like cookies, and I could give her plenty of easy recipes for those. Then your dad asked if I had any easy recipes for fish and chips, because it was both his and your favorite. Unfortunately, I’d never tried making it before, so I couldn’t help him out there.” She took a bite and then continued. “But today, Stiles came back from the park with these fish he caught, and I remembered talking about fish and chips, and I thought, ‘That sounds good. Let’s try that tonight.’”

“It turned out great. Thanks!” Blair turned to Stiles. “I didn’t know you knew how to fish.”

“Oh, yeah. I like fishing, especially on a gorgeous day like today. I learned it back when I was a sim scout.”

Cycl0n3 snickered. “Why am I not surprised?”

Stiles gave him an odd look. “Why is it funny?”

“Because it’s just so… so typical. You’re the perfect stereotype of Joe Average, Stiles. Average height. Average build. Typical manly hobbies like guitar and fishing. You wear jeans, t-shirts, and the occasional plaid. Of course you were in sim scouts. You were probably on the football team, too.”

“Yeah, I played football in high school. So what?”

“Nothing. It’s all perfectly normal and average, like I said. You just proved my point.”

“I was in sim scouts for a little while as a kid, too,” Blair said. “I didn’t retain all that much from it, though. I remember hiking and fishing a couple of times, and I even convinced my parents to take me camping up in Granite Falls once, but now I don’t remember how to do any of that stuff.”

“Aww. Officer Blondie was a little forest ranger,” Cycl0n3 teased. “You never told me that.”

Blair shrugged. “It never came up. I didn’t know you then.”

“You met in high school, right?” Stiles asked.

Cycl0n3 nodded. “At a pep rally.”

Emma and Stiles exchanged incredulous looks. “A pep rally? Are you serious? I can’t picture you at a pep rally.”

“Attendance was mandatory because it was during school hours,” Blair explained. “It was my first year in high school and I hardly knew anyone, and you know how I hate crowds. So I went to the top of the bleachers way in the back to get some space, and almost stepped on Cycl0n3. He was crouched sitting down where your feet go with his laptop out, playing a video game. I don’t even know how no teachers saw him and he got away with that.”

Cycl0n3 grinned proudly. “What can I say? My computer nerd skills are legendary.”

“Oh, I don’t think anyone would question how legendary your nerdiness is, Cycl0n3,” teased Emma.

Stiles gave Blair a curious look. “So you almost stepped on him, and then you dated him?”

“Well, not right away. We were friends for a while first,” Blair said.

“And now they’re back together. It’s adorable.” Emma made an exaggerated face at Cycl0n3, which elicited a laugh from Stiles as well. Blair, on the other hand, blushed and looked down while Cycl0n3 responded to Emma.

“Funny. So, what, are you taking over for Tam with the relationship gossip tonight? She’ll be sorry she missed it. Well, unless she’s having more fun with Xander. That is who she’s out with, right?”

Emma laughed. “Yes, she’s out with Xander. Make of that what you will.”

Stiles shook his head. “Ah, that guy. He seems kind of shady, if you ask me.”

“Just a lot,” Blair agreed.

“I only talked to him a couple times, but I heard plenty from my bandmate that dated him for a few weeks. She was torn up about it because he ended things right when they started to get serious, and then she saw him meeting up with some rich young widow from up on Redwood Drive the day after they broke up. I ended up taking Zelda out for a couple of drinks after work just to cheer her up.”

Cycl0n3 raised an eyebrow. “Wait. Flower-in-the-hair short-shorts hottie Zelda? Right. I’m sure that’s the only reason you took her out, Stiles. To cheer her up. I definitely believe that.”

“It is,” Stiles insisted. “I’ll be the first to agree she’s a nice-looking girl, and a sweet one, too, but dating another band member is begging for drama. So I don’t go there.” He paused. “Though there’s a cute blonde doctor I met at Mick’s the same night I’m still kicking myself for not getting the number of.”

“The only blond doctor I know is Dr. Landgraab, and I’m pretty sure he’s not who you meant,” Blair said.

“I know who you mean. Her name’s Jamie,” Emma said. “But I think my friend’s brother is dating her. I don’t know how serious it is, though, or if it’s even still a thing.”

Cycl0n3 stretched and stood up. “I feel like going and blowing something up online.” He looked at Blair. “Want to join me?”

“Not for blowing things up, but I’ll grab my laptop and keep you company.”

Blair and Cycl0n3 were only on their computers for about half an hour before Cycl0n3 logged off of his machine. “Hardly anyone’s on tonight,” he said with a sigh. “Well, Girbits and Smack Pod, but that’s barely enough for a good group-up, let alone a solid tactical mission. Especially since Girbits is still a kid in school and has to be off before midnight. Blizz is out on a date with that new girlfriend who’s as old as Space, Warz was only on long enough to say he had other stuff going on, and they said Space hasn’t been on all day.”

“So is he the one who claims he’s going to make a fortune inventing something revolutionary, or is that Warz?” asked Blair. Although she was not all that interested in the game itself, Cycl0n3 talked about his in-game friends so often that she wanted to know enough about them to understand what he was talking about.

“Neither. You’re thinking of Smack Pod. He’s the one who hangs out in junkyards and builds stuff out of salvage in his bedroom.” Cycl0n3 grinned. “Warz is the one who wants to own and run a tech company someday, but laments his current position as a corporate peon, much like I do in the career I hope to get out of before too much longer.”

“Interesting friends you have on there,” Blair remarked as she closed her laptop and put her arms around Cycl0n3. “Speaking of careers, did you look into the PI thing yet?”

“A little. I was thinking of transferring the credits I can to a tech degree. I don’t need it to start, though. That just takes some paperwork. Even though it’s not a police job, they make you register for some legal and procedural training over at the SVPD to get the license.” He looked up at her. “Right where you work. Who knows? You might be my instructor.”

“That would be… I don’t know. It might be cool, or it might be weird. Like Stiles said, mixing your personal life with work can cause problems.”

“Not always. Haven’t your parents worked together for, I don’t know, forever?”

“Yes, but I don’t think one of them was ever in the position of having to evaluate the other’s performance.”

Cycl0n3 just laughed, while Blair flushed a bit.

“That’s not what I meant.” She made a face. “It’s also not something I want to think about, thank you very much.”

Cycl0n3 held Blair closer to him. “You have pretty eyes, you know that?”

“And you can be sweet when you want to,” she murmured, her lips brushing against his.

“You bring that out in me.”

Blair looked into Cycl0n3’s eyes as she settled closer into the embrace. “I love you.”

“I know.”

Whatever she expected him to say, that was not it, and stab of frustration eroded her amorous mood. “Did… did you really just quote Han Simlo in the middle of a romantic moment?”

“Oh, Blair.” Cycl0n3 smiled at her, the mischief in his eyes replaced with a warm and affectionate look. “The fact that you know that was what I was doing is one of the many reasons I love you. You get me.” He kissed her.

“Yes. I get you,” Blair replied, stroking the side of his face. “But that still doesn’t change how that was about as far from suave as you could possibly get.” She could not help but smile. “For the record.”

“That’s all right. I was never under the delusion that you were dating me for my sophistication and charm. I thought it was my brains, my wit, and my big… hard drive.”

“Oh, my Watcher. Just stop talking,” she said, exasperated, and drew him into another kiss.

That time, Cycl0n3 listened. Their conversation was over, but their night together had just begun.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2015, 09:17:26 PM »
That was totally awesome!  I really loved the SimBook post.  I have no idea how you did that but it was amazing.  ;D
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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


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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #44 on: July 27, 2015, 11:49:35 AM »
I've just discovered this and I love it! The attention to detail, the screenshots, the writing, and all my favourite Sunset Valley sims. What's not to like?  :)