Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 144832 times)

Offline Trip

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #45 on: July 27, 2015, 03:28:01 PM »
Man I wish financial aid went that smoothly in the real world. :(

Nice to still see updates here.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2015, 07:24:38 PM »
I agree with Magz--that Simbook post was super-clever. :)

Looks like Blair and Cycl0n3 are having fun. Their relationship is too cute! I love geeky romance...

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Offline mpart

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 11
« Reply #47 on: July 28, 2015, 10:43:40 PM »
Aww! Such a cute, geeky couple! I wonder if Blair will end up pregnant.

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 12
« Reply #48 on: August 26, 2015, 10:14:22 AM »
That was totally awesome!  I really loved the SimBook post.  I have no idea how you did that but it was amazing.  ;D

Thank you! I'm glad you got a kick out of it. I made it with a fake Facebook post generator I found online, and used the in-game online dating profiles from my save to get screenshots for the thumbnail pictures of the sims commenting.

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?  :)

Thank you so much!  I love hearing that other people like these sims as much as I do, and enjoy reading what I write about them.  Thanks for commenting!

Man I wish financial aid went that smoothly in the real world. :(

Nice to still see updates here.

Yeah, the sims don't know how easy they have it as far as that goes!  It's almost ridiculous how much money the sims can make if they go for the financial aid every day and keep their grades up.

I agree with Magz--that Simbook post was super-clever. :)

Looks like Blair and Cycl0n3 are having fun. Their relationship is too cute! I love geeky romance...

Thanks! I had a lot of fun making it.

I'm glad you're enjoying Blair and Cycl0n3's romance.  He's far from suave, but he's endearing in his way.  ;)

Aww! Such a cute, geeky couple! I wonder if Blair will end up pregnant.

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if Blair and Cycl0n3 get to that level at some point down the road...  ;D

Chapter 12

Bright and early, Boyd and Susan headed off to their first day of class. They barely had time to grab their coffee at the crowded java hut before the lecture started.

They arrived on time and took a seat at a double table together. The lecture was not as interesting as they hoped, however. The professor spoke in a monotone, and while they could tell he knew his subject material, as veteran researchers for Landgraab Industries, they viewed him through a more critical perspective than most students.

“This is so redundant for us,” Susan muttered, scribbling something down. “I thought we were supposed to be learning something new.”

“Yeah.” Boyd blinked to try and stay awake, since the professor’s droning voice was putting him to sleep. “I hope the lab half of this class is better.”

Twenty minutes later, and despite drinking an Organic Red Rocket brew before class, the professor’s sleep-inducing tone proved victorious over the caffeine and Boyd’s interest, and he dozed off. When Susan noticed, she gave him a gentle kick under the table.

Boyd shook his head groggily, but if the professor noticed his impromptu nap, he did not acknowledge it.

Susan wrote in her notebook and nudged Boyd to look over at what she wrote: “Have a nice nap?”

He gave her a sheepish look and a nod, and whispered when the professor went to write on the white board. “Did I miss anything?”

“Not really,” she whispered back. “If the rest of this class is this basic, we’ve got it aced already.”

Their other classes were better. In the next session, Susan attended an advanced chemistry class, while Boyd went to a science field study. The first session was just a lecture, but as the term progressed, he and the other students would be able to go out and collect and analyze organic and inorganic samples found in the wild, even if the “wild” was pretty much the campus grounds and surrounding public areas.

Their third class was a practicum limited to a small number of students selected to work on one of Sims University’s largest projects. It involved a complicated machine run by several computers, and was overseen by nearly every department at Sims U. Both Boyd and Susan had read about it, and they were thrilled to have gotten slots in the class that allowed students to do hands-on work on the project.

“Wow! You have to check out the stats on this thing when you’re done over there,” Boyd called over to Susan after he logged into his assigned work station. “Hands down, this is the coolest machine I’ve worked on. Ever.”

“I know!” Susan was almost giddy with enthusiasm. “The interface on this is unlike anything I’ve ever used before, and I think I can actually feel these impulses while working this node. It’s almost like a direct communication of sorts, but not with any one individual or intelligence in particular.”

“It’s like a collective,” Boyd mused as he brought up several different windows on his console. “Incredible. I’m reading data from both direct and indirect communication here. A good number of these are passive. I wonder what the range on this thing is…”

After their classes were over, Susan and Boyd checked out Keith’s Komics. Boyd had wanted to go there ever since Cycl0n3 told them about it that day in the park, and when they arrived, it did not disappoint. They both found interesting things to look at and books to browse. Boyd almost bought the mint-in-box Mechacodzilla figure, but Susan reminded him that he did not need yet another dust collector on his already cluttered desk back home. He countered that his desk at University had barely anything on it, and promised to “make a place for it” when they went home, but the three-digit price tag and Susan’s obvious disapproval won out, and he put it back on the shelf. It took the distraction of the shop’s old school Fire in the Skies arcade machine to get Boyd’s mind off of trying to change Susan’s, however.

Susan continued to browse while Boyd plunked quarters into the arcade game, but soon she started to feel like she should study to keep the material fresh in her mind. Since Boyd was well ensconced in his game and close to an expert at it, considering he’d held the top score for years in the old Sunset Valley arcade, Susan knew that he’d be a while. She settled into a comfortable chair and pulled out her textbook to do the assigned reading out of her Green Genes: Planting Information textbook.

It wasn’t long before Boyd’s marathon Fire in the Skies session caught the attention of two university students hanging out at Keith’s.

“Hey, Mahmoud, I think that old guy’s going to annihilate your high score. So much for the two year reigning champion that ‘no one could ever beat in this lifetime.’” He used a mocking tone as he quoted his friend.

“Kiss it, Ludo,” the other student retorted, although he frowned a little as he looked at Boyd’s screen.

Hearing himself referred to as “that old guy” only made Boyd more determined to beat the high score, which was what he had been trying to do anyway. I’ve been playing this game since before you were born. I’ll show you ‘old.’

Mahmoud and Ludo watched Boyd play for a little while longer, and then Ludo let out a low whistle. “Oooh, what was that high score of yours again? Because I think it just went down in flames.”

“Yeah, yeah. Rub it in,” Mahmoud muttered.

The spaceships came faster and faster, and Boyd managed to keep up for a few more levels, but finally they got the best of him. The screen lit up congratulating him for getting the highest score, and asked him to put in his name. Feeling smug, he entered “SpaceInvader” and turned around, pretending to only then notice that he’d had an audience.

Mahmoud nodded to him. “Congrats, man. Nice job.”

“Very gracious, Number Two,” Ludo quipped before acknowledging Boyd. “Good job. You kicked him to second. Congratulations on unseating the fraternity’s reigning nerd.”

“Remind me why I put up with you again?”

“Because I’m an evil genius, and you’d never get anywhere without me,” Ludo replied in a way that seemed only half-serious.

“Thanks,” Boyd told the students.

“Are you a new professor here?” asked Mahmoud.

“No. I’m a student. Continuing education. I’m here to finish my degree.” He extended his hand. “Boyd Wainwright. Nice to meet you.”

“Same.” Ludo shook his hand. “I’m Ludo Vicco.”

“Mahmoud Yavari,” Mahmoud said, shaking Boyd’s hand next.

“So, continuing education, huh? Aiming for a better job?” Ludo guessed. “Can’t blame you there. That’s why I’m here. I don’t want to start in a low-paying job.”

“Trust me, you don’t,” Boyd agreed. “Sure, I’m a scientist now, but I started washing glassware and volunteering to sell my plasma for cash to the facility I work at. Not how you want to start if you can avoid it.”

“Hey, you’re a science and med major? Me too.” Mahmoud gave him a high five, which Boyd returned.

“Yup. I’ve been taking classes online and at night back home for years, but my wife and I got kind of a double or nothing offer from where we work to finish out our degrees this semester. If we knock out the last 18 credits and graduate, we’ve been offered a promotion. If not, well, it’s possible we could lose our jobs since the company’s aiming to cut headcount by 10%. Needless to say, we’d rather not be chopped.”

“Your wife? Is she here with you, too?” asked Mahmoud.

Ludo glanced over at the other side of the shop. “I’m guessing she’s the redhead sitting over there. She’s older than we are, and wearing a wedding ring. Am I right?”

Boyd nodded. “That’s her.”

Mahmoud gave Boyd an approving nod. “Nice looking lady.”

“I think so, yes.” Boyd smiled as he looked at her.

There was a beep from Mahmoud’s pocket, and he checked his phone. “Speaking of hot ladies, that’s the one I’m meeting tonight. Catch you later, Ludo. Boyd, it was nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

“It’s somewhat unusual to see a couple like you two here at University,” Ludo remarked. “Enjoying it so far?”

“Quite a bit. I’m fascinated by the group project. We just came from a class working on it.”

“You got into that, huh? They’re pretty selective. You two must’ve impressed them. Mahmoud and I are the only ones in the fraternity that got accepted to work on it. I’m on the tech end of it, though.”

“Nice. I’d love to brainstorm with you sometime about that. The potential in that thing is just, well, it’s incredible.”

“Oh, yeah. Sometimes I think about the mayhem it could cause once it gets working, and…” Ludo laughed. “Well, I’m sure you get the picture.”

Boyd grinned. “Absolutely. Earlier I was telling Susan about the passive data collection and—oh, you know, let me get her in here so I can introduce you.” He opened the glass door to the room where she was still studying. “Susan? Come here. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

“Hey, honey. This is Ludo. He’s a tech major that also works on the group project. Ludo, this is my wife, Susan.”

“A pleasure.” Ludo shook Susan’s hand.


The three of them then discussed the group project, with Ludo offering some insight into the design of it and ideas that the tech department was tossing around. Boyd and Susan told him their impressions, and thoughts about scientific applications. The conversation lasted for the better part of half an hour before Ludo had to leave.

“It was great meeting you both. We should hang out again. I thrive on intelligent company like you two.”

“Well, thanks,” Boyd said. “I’ll see you around. Too bad we don’t have any classes together. I think Mahmoud’s in one of ours, though. Now that I’ve met him, I remember seeing him there.”

“If you ever want to chill, stop by the Urele-Oresha-Cham house. Mahmoud and I are both brothers there. We throw some great parties and, well, we know how to have a good time.”

Susan chuckled. “Thank you for the offer, but I think we’d be painfully out of place at a fraternity party at our age.”

“Not as much as you might think. Professor Lovelace lives with us, and parties harder than half the guys in the house, and he’s way older than you. Around seventy. He’s awesome. He hangs out over at the Grotto with us a lot, too. You should check it out sometime.”

“Heh. Maybe we will,” Boyd said. “Thanks.”

“See you later.” Ludo gave a wave and left, and Boyd and Susan went to the burger joint next door to Keith’s Komics to grab dinner.

“So what did you think of Ludo?” Boyd asked. “I like him. He seems like an interesting guy.”

“I agree, although I’m not sure what to make of him inviting us to party at the fraternity with him.”

“Partying is a favorite pastime of students at Sims U,” Boyd said wryly. “Why does that surprise you? Take it as a compliment. We’re not too old and boring to party with.”

Susan gave Boyd an incredulous look. “Oh, my Watcher. You’re actually considering it, aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” he admitted.

She let out an amused chuckle. “I think your friend Ludo might be a bad influence on you.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m reminded of when you went to that symposium in Bridgeport right after your last birthday, and came home wearing a three hundred simoleon snakeskin jacket you picked up in some trendy shop because it made you feel young and rebellious.”

“Hey! I love that jacket,” Boyd protested. “I still wear it.”

Susan patted his arm as they sat down. “I know.”

Back in Sunset Valley, the Wainwrights’ daughter went in to work and was surprised to find Hank already there. She was usually in ten to fifteen minutes before him on a given day. “Hey, partner. I’m not used to you making it in before me.” She noticed that he looked a little worn.

“Well, I didn’t sleep well anyway, so I figured I’d come in and get a jump on things.”

“Is everything all right?”

“Just stupid stuff. Pauline and I had an argument last night, and I ended up crashing on the couch. That thing makes these chairs look comfortable after a few hours.”

“Oh, no. I’m sorry.”

Hank shrugged. “It happens. You know how it is. Sometimes that special someone knows especially how to drive you nuts.”

Blair offered a sympathetic smile. “Well, if you need a friendly ear, you’ve got me on patrol with you for the next six hours to listen. We can stop and grab a coffee on the way.”

Hank got up from the desk. “Thanks, but unfortunately, we’ve got a stop to make before patrol duty. Justine just told me about a last minute change to our assignments. I don’t think you’ve had to deal with this kind of stop yet, so sorry it got sprung on you today. These almost always suck.”

“What is it?”

“A domestic case. A child support deadbeat, repeat offender. We’ve got to go and bring him in.”

“Oh. That’s terrible. What kind of parent doesn’t want to see their child taken care of?”

“One who doesn’t give a flying plumbob about anyone but themselves. At least, that’s the impression I’ve always had of Jared Frio. I’ve dealt with him before. He’s a neighbor, and he’s got a record for petty stuff, including a previous child support delinquency from back when his kid was still practically newborn. This time, he’s two payments behind and late on a third, so his ex filed charges.”

“Wow. That’s pretty low to not pay it for that long.”

“To put it nicely and in workplace-friendly terms,” Hank agreed. “So, since this is your first time on something like this, Justine wanted you go to the door and serve the warrant, do the talking, and all that, while I serve as backup if there’s trouble. Are you okay with that?”


“Fair warning, sometimes these cases can get uglier than you expect. I know you haven’t had much worse than an irate speeder throw coffee at your feet before, and you handled that well, but when family and ex-lovers and children are involved…”

“I get it. I’ll be careful.”

They turned on to Sun Song Avenue and headed toward the far end of the beach. “Jared Frio’s got an attitude and a chip on his shoulder. The ex lives over there, across the side street.” They pulled up to the Frios’ home. “She’s a bit of a hot-head herself, but we shouldn’t have to bring her into this today.”

“Thanks for the heads up on what to expect.” Blair took a deep breath and picked up the warrant. “Here goes.”

“You’ll do fine. If anything starts looking sketchy, I’ve got your back.”

“I know.” Blair went and knocked on the front door of the Frios’ home. She heard some muttering, and then a door slam. A moment later, the front door opened, and a man in his mid to late twenties, wearing nothing but the shorts he had slept in, came out. “Police?”

Following procedure, Blair showed her badge. “I’m Officer Wainwright with the SVPD. I’m looking for Jared Frio?”

Jared gave her a dubious once-over. “Oh? Heh. They’re making better looking cops all the time. That’s me. What’s up?”

Blair maintained a professional tone. “I’m here to serve you this. You’re delinquent in your child support payments, and your child’s mother, Claire Ursine, has filed charges.”

Jared’s face hardened, and he glowered in the direction of Claire’s house. “For real? Claire called the cops on me? What a load of—” He slammed his fist against the side of the house. “She’s a crazy llama. She’s just trying to screw with me because she hates me. Look at that house. You think that kid’s not living just fine? And she pulls this?”

“Mr. Frio, our records show that it’s past due and not the first time. I need you to take this and—”

“You can take that and shove it!” Jared ripped the warrant out of Blair’s hands, threw it onto the porch, and stomped on it. “It’s bull. Claire can take her court papers and shove them, too, right where the sun doesn’t shine. Overdue child support.” He sneered. “You know what I do for a living, honey? I’m a cook. You what they pay cooks? Beans. But Claire? You know what Claire does?” Jared let out a bitter laugh. “Oh, I could tell you lots about what kind of job an outstanding citizen like Claire has. Maybe you should ask her. I seriously doubt she reported her income to the judge on the up and up.”

The rising note in Jared’s voice and his aggressive demeanor made Blair uneasy. “If you feel that there’s some kind of error, we can arrange for a meeting with your attorney and a judge. I do need to ask you to please come downtown with us, though, either to pay the overdue child support, or to contest it legally at the bench.”

Jared’s glare hardened. “Are you saying I’m under arrest?”

“I’m saying you need to come with me and settle this at the station. You can cooperate and go voluntarily, but if you refuse, I’ll be forced to take you in.”

“Are you for real?” He sneered at Blair. “You’re going to arrest me. You? That’s cute, babe. I’d love to see you try.”

Not being taken seriously made Blair feel both angry and humiliated, but she refused to give ground or lose her composure. “Mr. Frio, you need to come downtown.”

“I’m not going anywhere. You’ll just have to cuff me and haul me in,” he taunted. “But that might be fun from a cute little thing like you.”

Blair reached for her handcuffs. “You have two choices. Come in agreeably, or come in cuffed in the back of the squad car.”

“I’m not going anywhere!” he argued. “I’m not paying a simoleon, and I’m not going to jail. So you just better drop it and leave.”

Blair heard someone else inside the house hurrying down the stairs to the porch. “Jared? What’s going on? Why are the police here?”

“It’s bull, Connor. Just Claire pulling something funny. Don’t worry about it.”

Blair frowned. “This is serious, Mr. Frio. Child support delinquency isn’t a joke, not to the court system, your child, or her mother. This is your last warning. Get in the squad car, or you’re under arrest.”

He stared her down. “Make me.”

“Jared, no!” Connor forced his way between Jared and Blair. “Don’t make it worse, and for the Watcher’s sake, don’t mouth off to the police!” He turned to Blair. “Officer, I’m sorry…” His voice trailed off as he and Blair simultaneously recognized each other. “Blair? Blair Wainwright?”

“Connor? I didn’t know you lived here.” She and Connor were the same age, and had been in the same high school graduating class in Sunset Valley. They were barely acquaintances, however, and only knew one another by name and face. Both had always been introverted and the limited social circles they had hadn’t overlapped. Blair never knew that Connor had a brother, let alone that he was the man she was sent to arrest that day.

“What in the flying plumbob? You know this crazy cop chick, Connor?”

“She was in my class in high school,” Connor said, obviously upset. “And no, I didn’t know she was a cop. What I’d like to know is why the cops are here for you not paying child support! You haven’t been helping Claire with Gretchen?”

“Claire doesn’t need my help,” Jared snapped. “She’s doing just fine. It’s not like she even wants me around Gretchen anyway. She wouldn’t act like such a screaming psycho every time I try to go over there if she did.”

Maybe paying your child support would help with that, Blair thought, although she kept it to herself in order to stay professional. “We’re here to serve him a warrant for child support in arrears,” she explained to Connor. “It needs to be paid today, or he faces jail time.”

Connor let out a beleaguered sigh. “Oh, wow, Jared. Really?”

“You’re my little brother, Connor. Not Mom. Don’t harp on me. Besides, even if I did owe the money, I don’t have it. Like I told you, officer,” he said the title with heavy sarcasm, “I’m broke. Most of what I make gets pooled with what he makes to pay the taxes and bills on this place. We aren’t living it up like Miss Ursine and all her sweet ‘work bonuses.’”

Connor looked at Blair. “I know you don’t know me that well, and the Watcher knows Jared didn’t leave a good impression here, but please don’t arrest him,” he pleaded. “I’ll pay it off. He’s telling the truth. He’s broke. But I can cover it, at least enough to get Claire off his back and keep him out of jail.”

Hank, who got out of the car once Connor showed up, frowned as he approached. “Everything okay here?”

“Officer Goddard? Look, we don’t want any trouble. I just told her, I can pay Jared’s back support. Nobody needs to go to jail.”

“Jail, huh?” Hank regarded Jared with disgust. “You wouldn’t just get in the car and come downtown to pay it off and be done with it?”

Jared looked from Hank to Blair. “Oh, I get it. This is your backup. I knew you couldn’t handle me solo.”

“Shut up, Frio. She could handle you just fine,” Hank retorted. “I sent Wainwright because after dealing with you last time, I thought maybe the most patient and reasonable officer on the force might be able to talk some sense into you where so many others have failed. Now I realize that’s probably beyond anyone. So how about you do the right thing, get in the car, and pay your child support, and not leave it up to your little brother to clean up your mess?”

“I would, but like I said, I’m broke. Next week, maybe?”

Connor sighed. “I said I’ll pay it. Claire needs the money for Gretchen now. You can pay me back later, Jared.”

Blair looked at the Frio brothers. “You’ll both need to come in to the station, then.”

“Okay. I’ll get my stuff, Jared will get dressed, and we’ll go,” Connor said.

The ride back to the station was filled with bouts of tense silence broken up by Jared complaining about Claire. Although Blair had never met the woman, after meeting and dealing with Jared, she had a feeling that Claire could probably say a few choice things about him herself. All in all, it left Blair feeling depressed rather than satisfied about a job well done. Even though it looked good on paper to resolve it without an arrest, knowing that Jared got away with shirking his parental obligations left a bad taste in her mouth.

They escorted the Frios to the clerk’s office to take care of the matter, and then stopped to grab a coffee in the break area. “Good job out there today, partner,” Hank said to Blair as he handed her a cup.

“Why doesn’t it feel like it, then? All we did was stick that kid’s uncle with a bill her father should’ve paid, and let him off the hook.”

“Yeah, but if he’s willing to pay it, what can we do?” Hank shrugged. “I don’t like it, either, but it’s his choice.”

“It’s a shame Connor isn’t that little girl’s father. He seems to care more about her than Jared does.”

“Connor’s a good guy,” Hank agreed. “So, you know him?”

“Barely. He went to high school with me. He was in a couple of my classes, but we never hung out or anything.”

“Ah. Right. Because you were having your first whirlwind romance with Tornado back then,” Hank teased.

“That’s Cycl0n3. And did you have to use the storm pun?”

Hank grinned. “Yup.”

“Anyway, Connor was kind of quiet. I remember him being in the school library a lot, and sitting by himself reading.” Blair paused thoughtfully. “I guess I have more in common with him than I thought. I was kind of a loner, too. Just not in the same way. I liked to take walks or play chess in the computer lab.”

Justine ran up to them with a paper in her hands. “Sorry to bug you two right before patrol, but someone,” she gave Hank a pointed look, “forgot to sign his report here, and I need to turn it in to the chief. Can you fix that for me before you head out?”

Hank nodded, and Blair finished her coffee. “I’ll meet you out front, Hank.” On her way out, she ran into the Frio brothers, who were leaving the station. Jared gave her a smug smile as he sauntered by, while Connor lingered behind.

“Um, Blair? Officer Wainwright? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call you, but…”

“Blair’s fine.”

“Okay.” Connor paused a moment. “I just wanted to say thanks for not throwing the book at Jared. I know he kind of had it coming, and I couldn’t even blame you if you did, but I appreciate that you didn’t.”

Blair felt that same pang of unpleasantness again. “Well, the law is satisfied with the payment made. It doesn’t matter who writes the check as far as that goes. The money’s being sent to Ms. Ursine, and he’s off the hook until the next bill is due.”

“I’ll make sure he pays it,” Connor assured her.

Blair just nodded.

Connor read the look on Blair’s face. “You think I’m letting him get away with it, don’t you? I’m not. I’m angry at Jared for not paying Gretchen’s support. She’s my niece, and I love her. But Jared’s my brother, and I love him, too. What was I supposed to do? Let him rot in jail for something he doesn’t have the money to pay, and let Claire struggle with the bills and the baby, when I could do something to fix it?”

The conflicted look on his face struck a chord with her. “I understand. You didn’t want to see your brother go to jail.”

“I don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I know how he is, and that what he did is wrong. It’s just… well, he’s my brother. Nobody knows Jared like I do. He’s not all bad. Honest, he isn’t. He’s made a lot of bad decisions, but he loves Gretchen. When things between him and Claire went bad, it went really bad, and… I know he’d never hurt Gretchen on purpose. He stays away and keeps his distance because,” Connor paused, unsure whether he wanted to continue, but then he did. “Well, suffice it to say we didn’t have good role models as parents. It’s not an excuse or a justification. Just an explanation. I’ve been trying to get through to him and help him be a good father.” He sighed. “I guess I have my work cut out for me. Anyway, I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have dumped all of that on you. I just wanted to say thanks.”

“I’m just doing my job.” She tried to not to think about how Connor was likely going to wind up footing the bill for Jared’s irresponsibility for some time to come. “Take care.”

“You too.”

Connor had just taken a few steps when Blair called after him. “Actually, Connor, wait.”

He turned around.

“I just want to say that your niece and your brother are lucky to have you. What you did was really generous. I hope Jared appreciates it.”

“He does. Thanks, Blair. See you around.”

“Yeah, you too.”

Hank, now finished with his paperwork, caught up with Blair and overheard the tail end of her conversation with Connor. “Do you think he appreciates it?”

“I wish I could say yes, but I think we both know better.” Blair sighed. “It’s a shame Jared takes advantage of him like that.”

“Yeah. Unfortunately it’s like the old saying goes, ‘nice guys finish last.’”

“I never liked that saying.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re one of them,” Hank quipped as they got into the patrol car. “But you know what? The nice ones like you and him, the ones that try to see the best in everyone, yeah, a lot of times, you get burned, but still, you do a lot of good because you do care. Isn’t that why you said you wanted this job to begin with?” Hank patted her on the shoulder. “I knew today would get to you. Stuff like this ate at me at first, too. Try not to let it. Sometimes our job is crazy pickled freezer bunnies or coffee-chucking speedsters that you can look back on later and laugh about. Others, it’s like this. It’s not easy, but you have to try to not let the dirtballs, the Jared Frios, and other jerks like that take up your head space, you know? Otherwise, you can burn out real fast.”

Blair watched as Jared and Connor got into a taxi and drove off. “I know what you’re saying, but it’s hard. Does it ever get easier?”

Hank started the car. “Not as much as you’d hope.”

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 12
« Reply #49 on: August 26, 2015, 05:18:44 PM »
I really enjoyed this update Cheezey.  I like the understanding you write into the drama of policework and Boyd's nerdiness is cute.  Jared has always been a dirtbag in every file I've played in Sunset Valley (his traits don't help) and I can easily imagine Connor trying to be peacemaker.  It's been ages since I've played Sunset Valley and you make me want to go there again real soon.
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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 12
« Reply #50 on: August 26, 2015, 05:42:03 PM »
Good Conner, stepping in before my anger towards his brother could get out of hand. ;D Though I hope he toughens up and stops bailing him out too.
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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 12
« Reply #51 on: August 26, 2015, 08:13:00 PM »
A older professor that parties? Fascinating.  :D

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 13
« Reply #52 on: August 29, 2015, 03:34:12 PM »
I really enjoyed this update Cheezey.  I like the understanding you write into the drama of policework and Boyd's nerdiness is cute.  Jared has always been a dirtbag in every file I've played in Sunset Valley (his traits don't help) and I can easily imagine Connor trying to be peacemaker.  It's been ages since I've played Sunset Valley and you make me want to go there again real soon.

Thank you! I'd been wanting to do a more serious angle with her police work, and I figured NRaas' story progression updates about Jared not paying child support were a good way to work it in.  Jared's traits are pretty bad, with both mean-spirited and inappropriate together.  He's always picking fights and being nasty to others, even his brother who starts at best friends level green relationship with him. 

Good Conner, stepping in before my anger towards his brother could get out of hand. ;D Though I hope he toughens up and stops bailing him out too.

I know what you mean, and I'm glad I was able to convey that right.  The Frio brothers, their traits, and how I've seen them interact in game (with Jared autonomously being so terrible to everyone around him) play out as a rather dysfunctional family, which makes them a pretty interesting story in themselves, but not necessarily a happy one.

A older professor that parties? Fascinating.  :D

I figure that old rebel Rex Lovelace must live in the University world's fraternity house for a reason.  ;D

Chapter 13

As the term progressed, Boyd and Susan found themselves busier and busier. Their credit load was the maximum students were allowed to carry, and while some classes were easy for them because of their work experience and the knowledge that came with it, it was still exhausting.

In his field science class, Boyd got more exercise walking around campus and the nearby foothills than he’d had in years. In the process, he acquired and studied all sorts of geological, botanical, and insectoid samples, including a few rare specimens that even impressed the professor. Analysis of some of them indicated gene splicing potential that had him intrigued, and he enthused to Susan at length about it in their downtime.

Susan had so many assignments for her chemistry class, especially with the extra credit she took on, that she set up a home chemistry station in their rental house to work on them. She had access to the university’s lab facilities, of course, but she preferred to work on her own schedule, and to not have to compete with other students for peak hour usage. She concocted many a potion on the table over the course of the semester, and even made a breakthrough or two.

Ludo joked one afternoon when he and Mahmoud dropped by that it looked like they were pulling a “Breaking Sims” with her chemistry setup. Boyd laughed, and while Susan was also amused by the comparison, she made it a point to assure them that nothing funny other than a bladder flow or stink potion had ever been made on it. Mahmoud then asked Susan if she’d brew up a bladder flow potion for a prank on a frat brother, which she did, although she felt a bit juvenile doing so. Boyd, meanwhile, helped their fraternity friends plot out said prank by recommending a juice with a chemical makeup that would best mask the flavor.

It was not long before Ludo made good on his offer to invite Boyd and Susan to a party at the fraternity house. One evening, the brothers threw a formal affair, a charity fundraiser that the fraternity did as part of its charter for community service. Susan was still iffy about attending any fraternity party, but the event description made it seem like it wouldn’t be a juice-chugging free for all, so she agreed to go since Boyd wanted to. She felt a little odd walking past the old furniture and plastic lawn decorations in her fancy red dress and heels, but she hoped it wouldn’t feel so “fraternity” at the party inside.

She was wrong.

“Oh.” She daintily stepped over a jacket left on the floor in the entryway. Brightly colored light strings hung around the room adjoining the hallway, and loud party music blared from the nearby stereo.

“Not what you expected?” Boyd asked when he saw the look on her face.

“No. Unfortunately, it’s exactly what I expected, or rather, feared.”

“It does seem a little informal for a formal party,” Boyd agreed, although he noticed that everyone was as dressed up as they were.

Mahmoud was coming up from downstairs when he saw them. “Boyd! Susan! You made it! Welcome to the party. How are you doing?”

“Fine. Thanks for inviting us.”

“Anytime! Come on. I’ll get you two some drinks.” He led them into the next room, where there was a large juice keg in the corner.

“And there it is,” Susan murmured, her fear that it was nothing more than a juice-fest with a fancy dress code confirmed.

Mahmoud mistook her dismay for a simple observation. “Yup. Chock full of juice goodness, although if you want some of the sweeter stuff, we’ve got a bar out back.” He gestured toward the window, through which Boyd and Susan could see boisterous partiers hanging around a backyard bar while a frat brother wearing a formal suit and a very informal polka-dot party hat served them. Mahmoud grabbed a red plastic cup and filled it from the keg, offering it to Susan with a flirtatious bow. “Ladies first, and might I add, you look lovely tonight, Susan?”

She accepted it with a gracious smile that hid how awkward she felt, even though she was flattered by the compliment. “Thanks.”

Mahmoud filled a cup for Boyd and handed it to him. “Careful, Boyd. Don’t think that some of these guys wouldn’t hit on your hot wife in a second,” he teased. Then he added with a grin, “And you never know, the ladies might love you in that suit. Nerds with class, we’ve got it going on!” He gave him a high five and sauntered off into the crowd.

Susan raised an eyebrow. “How much do you think he had?”

Boyd took a sip from the cup. “Plenty, although he might’ve only needed a few to get there.” He made a face. “This stuff is strong.”

They stayed at the party for a little while, although they ended up in one of the rooms without a keg or music for most of it, talking to Ludo and a few others. They got into a discussion about a television series they liked, and Boyd and Susan ended up having a good time. The party got wilder as it got later, however, and formal or not, once Susan noticed a couple of juiced-up fraternity boys whooping and pulling off their clothes in the backyard, they decided it was time to head out.

“I can’t believe we just went to a frat party.” Susan locked the front door of their rental home behind them.

Boyd chuckled. “I know. It was kind of fun, though. It was something different.”

“It was that,” Susan agreed. “You seemed to enjoy yourself.”

“Well, now I can say I’ve had another part of the ‘university experience’ that we never got to back in the day.” Boyd pulled Susan into his arms. “And as a bonus, the hottest girl at the party came home with me.”

Susan couldn’t help but smile at his flirtation, and she returned it with a coy look of her own. “Typical university guy. You take someone home from a party and try to score.”

“Absolutely,” he replied, and drew her into a passionate kiss.

The following morning felt harsher than usual, since the party and their romantic interlude afterward had kept them up late. It was a light day, class wise, but that one class they had was first thing in the morning. Getting out of the house took longer than it should have, thanks to a faucet in the shower breaking. Boyd and Susan had to skip their usual stop at the java hut and go straight to their anatomy class running on empty.

Even worse, they had just set up to do the anatomy exercise with their interactive medical skeletons when it began to rain. When one of their fellow students asked the professor if they could take it inside, he informed them that their equipment was water resistant, and then launched into a speech about how their bodies were comprised of about 70% water. That was easy for him to say. He had an umbrella.

The rain fell at a steady pace, but Susan and Boyd plugged through the exercise until it was over. Even though they came away soaked, at least they both felt like they learned something from the class, a small consolation for their discomfort.

After the class was over, they were free to do as they wished with the rest of the day. They headed over to the warm and dry Roasted Toasted Beans Coffee shop to grab a bite to eat and caffeinate themselves while they figured it out.

When they got to the counter, Boyd decided on a whim to forego his usual choice of the Organic Red Rocket coffee in favor of something else.

“What can I get you?” asked the barista.

“Tea. Wonderpetal. Hot.”

Susan, who was deciding what food to order, gave her husband an amused look. “Wonderpetal tea, Captain?”

“Nothing warms a soaked body faster than hot tea, and wonderpetal is good for the mind. Or so I hear.”

“Since when do you drink herb tea?”

“I don’t know. I thought it’d be fun to try something a little different. Change things up. Experiment. You’ll never know if you like something if you don’t try it.” He took a sip. It had a citrus-like spice to it, but milder. “Not bad. Want to try it?” He offered her the cup.

“No thanks, honey. I can smell how strong that herb is from here. Just take it slow drinking that. I’ve heard wonderpetal and some of the other herbal blends can be rough on the stomach if you’re not used to them.”

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “I’ll go grab us a table.”

Boyd went and sat down while Susan waited on her order, but when she came back, she informed him that she wouldn’t be able to stay. While she’d been at counter, she received a call from the chess club. Susan had signed herself up to be contacted for ranked match games so she could get in on the competition, and now there was someone else at her level that wanted to meet up and compete. As it turned out, her opponent was already upstairs at Roasted Toasted Beans. “I can’t believe it! I didn’t even know there was a chess table here, let alone that I’d be having my first match today. I told him I’d finish eating and meet up. I’m so excited, but… oh, I hope I’m prepared well enough.”

“I’ve seen how you play chess.” Boyd gave her an encouraging smile as she wolfed down her brownie. “You’ll wipe the board with him. Go claim that victory.”

Susan finished her food and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks, sweetie. I’ll see you when I’m done.”

When she went upstairs, Susan was surprised to discover that her opponent was someone she had seen at the fraternity the night before. It seemed that he recognized her as well. “Hello,” he greeted her. “I’m Miles Forthright. You’re here for the chess match?”

Susan nodded. “Yes. Susan Wainwright.”

“Good to meet you, Susan,” he said as they sat down and set up the board. “Shall we?”

“Sure.” They settled in and made their first moves, and then Miles gave Susan a curious look.

“So, you were at our party last night, right? Did you have a good time?”

“Yes. I take it you’re one of the fraternity brothers,” Susan said as she made her move. “I don’t think we were introduced, though.”

“No. But you made a memorable impression. An attractive older woman generally does, especially in a fraternity house.” He smiled at her.

Susan raised an eyebrow, unsure of how to take that. She suspected he meant it as a compliment, although it was certainly an awkward one. “Thank you,” she said after a moment.

“Mahmoud mentioned you and your husband were friends of his. I wondered who you two were. We don’t get a lot of people your age at the parties, although sometimes Rex invites a colleague or two. Professor Noetal has also been known to show up on occasion, and she’s at least forty,” he said in a way that made it sound like he thought it was ancient. “But it’s cool. Old people have got to have fun, too, right?”

To that, Susan had no idea what to say, although a few choice words came to the forefront of her mind. Instead, she just kept to a neutral “Mmm-hmm.” She used her knight to take out his bishop. “Your move.”

The small talk Miles made during the rest of the match did not get any more bearable as it went on. In an effort to change the subject, Susan asked him about his major. It turned out to be business, but Miles mostly talked about how he was only doing that because his parents told him his ambition of becoming a superstar athlete was unrealistic, and they wanted him to get a degree in something that guaranteed a decent paycheck. He then proceeded to talk about sports, something Susan had no interest in, at long and boring length. Although she had friends that were sports enthusiasts, like Jack Bunch, Jack at least could tell when her eyes were glazing over, and he would say something witty or change the subject to keep things lively. Miles picked up on no such social cues.

It was a relief when he became so wrapped up in his monologue that he left himself open to a fatal move on the board. A swift checkmate later, Susan was free. She treated herself to another mocha in the spirit of victory, and to wake herself back up after the tedious conversation.

While Susan was playing her match, Boyd finished his wonderpetal tea. The taste seemed to get stronger the more he drank, but since he found it pleasant, he kept going. Soon he felt energized, but not in a caffeine rush sort of way. Instead it was mentally energizing, a clarity that was like a good burst of inspiration. Boyd thought about some of the samples he’d analyzed in his field study recently, and he pulled out a notebook to jot a few ideas down. When he bent over to get it out of his bag, though, his stomach lurched, and he felt sick. Susan might’ve had a point about the wonderpetal being too strong. Maybe I should get something to settle my stomach.

Boyd went over to the counter and looked at the menu. The nausea intensified as he walked, and he grimaced as he read over the selections. The guy in line in front of him noticed how uncomfortable he looked as was leaving the counter with his bagel. “Hey. You all right, man?”

“Me? Oh, yeah. Stomach’s just a little off. I didn’t eat this morning, and wonderpetal tea was apparently not the best choice.”

He made a sympathetic face. “Oooh. Wonderpetal on an empty stomach. That can be rough. Bit of advice from someone who’s made that mistake? A lemon poppy seed muffin, with a little bit of butter with sweetgrass in it. You’ve got to ask for the shaker, but they’ll give it to you on request.”

“Sweetgrass, huh?”

“It works better than most over the counter stuff for an upset stomach. I swear by the stuff.”

“Thanks. I’ll give it a try.”

Boyd went ahead and ordered the muffin and sweetgrass, and sat back down to eat it. Sure enough, within a few minutes, he started to feel better. He finished writing up his notes and took the sweetgrass shaker back to the counter. On his way back, he noticed the man that told him about it sitting on one of the couches, studying from a textbook. He took a short detour over to him. “Hey. I just wanted to thank you for the tip earlier. I feel a lot better.”

“No problem. Glad it worked.”

“Incredibly well,” Boyd said. “I’m half tempted to get a pot of that stuff for my house, or for my yard back in Sunset Valley, so I’ve got it on hand.”

He sat up. “You’re from Sunset Valley? No kidding? Until I moved up here this past year, I used to live there.”

“Oh, yeah? Small world. What part?”

“Downtown in the loft complex. Nice to meet you, by the way. My name’s Kyle.”

“Boyd,” he responded, shaking Kyle’s hand. “Believe it or not, my daughter just moved into that complex not long ago. She’s about your age, maybe a little younger. She graduated this year.”

Kyle smiled. “How about that? Anyway, if you’re serious about wanting to grow some sweetgrass, it’ll grow great there. You could probably get some seeds or clippings off the community garden in the back of the Grotto next door. I clip herbs off of there all the time. It’s free for anyone, as long as you don’t trash the plants. They’re cool over there. If anyone hassles you, just tell them you know me. I know the crew over there real well.”

“I will. Thanks.”

Susan caught up with Boyd after her chess match was over, and the two of them decided to go and see a movie. On the way, Susan told Boyd about her chess victory. “You don’t know how satisfying it was to stomp him,” Susan said. “He was so boring, Boyd. Sports, sports, sports, blah, blah, blah. And what was he thinking? ‘Old people like to party, too,’ like we’re one step off of the nursing home and collecting Sim Security. Oh, you have no idea how badly I wanted to knock some sense into him.”

“It sounds like you did, on the chess board.”

“I annihilated him,” Susan said with a grin. “I schooled that boy like he was a newb.”

“A well-deserved victory. Congratulations, future Grandmaster, on your new rank.” Boyd pulled out his wallet and bought their tickets to House with No Doors.

After the movie, they came home to relax. Susan ordered a pizza while Boyd listened to the latest podcast of Tool Talk. “I think I’m going to try for another match this week,” Susan said while they were eating. “Maybe I can get to the next rank before midterms. Or maybe two of them by the end of the semester.”

“If anyone can do it, it’s you. You’re a force of nature when you decide you’re going to get something done.”

Susan chortled. “Just don’t call me Hurricane Susan.”

“Don’t worry. With our daughter already dating a ‘Cycl0n3,’ the last thing we need is for it to be a joke that Wainwrights have an odd predilection for weather names.”

“Speaking of which, have you heard from Blair? I haven’t been on SimBook today.”

“Last I checked, she hadn’t posted since the one she made about how some days on the job suck.” He sighed. “I still worry about her in that line of work. I know she can’t talk about what happened on social media, but I wonder what it was. I hope she’s all right.”

“I’m sure she would’ve called us if it was anything serious,” Susan reassured him. She finished her pizza and got out her laptop. “Oh, she made a new post this evening.” Her expression brightened as she read it. “Well, that’s good news. She got a promotion!”

“She did? That’s great! It’s been a good day for accomplishments for the Wainwright ladies.” Boyd picked up his smartphone so he could load SimBook and read it himself. He liked the status and posted his congratulations in a comment.

Susan did the same on her laptop. “It has indeed.”

Back in Sunset Valley, Blair had just been taken out by her co-workers to celebrate said promotion. “Nope. You’re not getting out of this one, Wainwright. We’re going to treat you to a couple of drinks, and that’s final.”

“Really, Justine, it’s fine,” Blair insisted. “I appreciate it, but—”

Hank held up a hand. “Nope. No buts. Come on, partner. We’re going to Mick’s.”

“But I hate crowds.”

“So does Justine, which is why I suggested Mick’s. It’s never that busy on this early, so it won’t be crowded. It’ll just be the three of us. Good drinks, some good music, and a bite to eat.”

Justine patted Blair on the back. “We just want to do something nice for you since you’ve done such a great job. You’re the first from your class of cadets to get to this level. Don’t worry. If the place fills up with juiced-up idiots, I’ll want out of there just as fast as you do, I promise. Goddard’s the only one of us crazy enough to like that. Besides,” she smirked at Hank, “he promised to embarrass himself on the karaoke machine for us.”

Blair laughed. “True. I wouldn’t want to miss that.”

“Don’t tell him, but he sounds like a dying llama,” Justine teased as she and Blair watched Hank croon out his rendition of the old classic “Jesse’s Sim.”

“I guess we can assume Pauline’s got all the musical talent in that relationship,” Blair quipped. “Speaking of which, how’s Marty? And Wilbur?”

“They’re both great. Marty’s been driving me a little nuts now that Wilbur’s getting bigger and getting into everything. He sees doom everywhere. Our house is so child-proofed that it’s half adult-proofed.” She smiled. “But there are worse things to be than over-cautious when it comes to your kids. He’s a great father.”

Hank had just finished his musical number when Tamara, Xander, and some others that Blair didn’t recognize came in. “Whoa!” Tamara came over to their table. “Blair, out at the karaoke bar? This is a first. How’d you talk her into that?”

“I’m a smooth talker,” said Hank. “Full of charm.”

“Full of something, anyway,” Justine said wryly.

“I got a promotion, and they insisted on taking me out,” Blair told her. “Tamara, this is Hank and Justine. Hank, Justine, this is my roommate Tamara.”

Hank flashed her a smile. “I’ve seen you around before. Nice to meet you.”

“You, too,” she said with a flirtatious look.

Xander eyed their table dubiously, and walked over to the bar. The others that Tamara came in with joined him. “Guess we’re not high on Clavell’s list of who he wants to hang out with,” said Justine.

“Fine by me.” Blair picked up her glass. She was starting to feel edgy now that Mick’s was getting fuller, especially now that Hank was preoccupied chatting it up with Tamara.

“Admit it. It was hilarious,” a deep male voice carried over the crowd as more patrons came in. When she looked over, Blair was surprised to see the heavyset man it belonged to talking to another one of her roommates.

Emma laughed. “I didn’t think you’d actually put the extra-hot sauce on Nancy Landgraab’s firecracker shrimp when I said it. I was joking!” She shook her head. “But it was funny. Who’d have thought blue blood could turn so red?”

The two of them laughed even harder together, and when Emma regained her composure, she noticed Blair. “Hey! You’re the last one I expected to see here.”

“That’s what I said,” Tamara chimed in. She’d heard Emma as well, and she and Hank rejoined the conversation. “Normally, we can’t pry her out of the house with a crowbar.”

Emma smiled. “It’s good to see you out and about, Blair.”

“She got a promotion today,” Tamara said, giving her a hug.

“Really? Congrats! That must be why Xander’s hiding on the other side of the bar. Beau and I got called in on our day off to help serve a late lunch for some high ranking suits at Doo Peas, but after the main course, Molly let us leave. We figured we’d stop in and grab a drink, since his wife said she and some co-workers had to meet a colleague from out of town here. Beau, this is Tamara and this is Blair. They’re two of my roommates.”

“Hi.” Blair felt more overwhelmed now that there was yet another individual she didn’t know.

Emma and Beau sat at the empty chairs at their table, and Hank called the server over to get some more drinks. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, especially when an oddly dressed couple got up on the karaoke stage and began singing a duet. Their voices were surprisingly good, in inverse proportion to their atrocious fashion sense. The man had a loud shirt with a mismatched sweater over it, athletic shorts, and a mullet that appeared as though he’d worn it that way for over twenty years. The woman had what looked like pajama pants on with a striped shirt and vest jacket that did not even match the pants in color, let alone style or pattern. They were having a good time, though, and Blair supposed that was all that mattered. And I thought my parents had embarrassing fashion choices sometimes…

Justine leaned over. “Getting a little crowded for your taste, too?”

“Yeah. I think I want to go soon.”

“Sure. I’ll let Hank know as soon as he gets back.” He and Tamara had just gone off dancing.

The next group to come into Mick’s included yet another of Blair’s household. It was Cycl0n3, accompanied by a woman she didn’t recognize, and someone else that she never would have imagined seeing in a karaoke bar—Connor Frio. They were all still dressed for work.

“Oh. My. Watcher.” Cycl0n3’s eyes went wide behind his glasses. “And I thought Connor and I would get the award for being the ones you’d least expect to find at Mick’s tonight. Blair?!”

“Cycl0n3? What are you doing here?”

Beau got up from his seat and pulled the woman with Cycl0n3 and Connor into a hug. “Hi, baby.”

Victoria Andrews, a soft-spoken woman who was the seeming opposite of her large and loud husband, smiled and embraced him, while Connor just edged away from the crowd and glanced at the back door with a trapped look on his face. I know the feeling, Blair thought.

Cycl0n3 pulled a bar stool over and sat by Blair. “There’s a couple of bigwigs from the news hub in Bridgeport showing up in town today. Guess whose department was chosen to be the welcome wagon?” He rolled his eyes and lowered his voice so that only Blair could hear over the din of the crowd. “I tell you, as soon as that PI license shows up in the mail? I’m out of there.”

“I don’t blame you.” Blair squeezed his hand.

More patrons came in, and the music got louder. Connor came over and tapped Cycl0n3 on the shoulder. “I’m going outside to get some air. Come get me when those guys show up.” He waved at Blair as if to say hello and goodbye at once, and then went out.

Cycl0n3 gave her a curious look. “I didn’t know you knew Connor.”

“I don’t, really. He was just in the same graduating class as me in high school.” She lowered her voice. “And I happened to run into him on the job recently.” Blair was not allowed to name names if she talked about her police work cases due to confidentiality reasons, but she had told Cycl0n3 about the incident with the Frios while leaving names out of it.

“You ran into Connor Frio on the job?” Cycl0n3 said incredulously. “No way. Mr. Quiet Goody-Goody has a dark side? I’ve been working with that guy since I started there and I just can’t picture it! Tell me all about it.” He pulled out his notepad like a reporter. “Come on. Inquiring minds want to know.”

“I didn’t arrest him, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Blair was amused by Cycl0n3’s reaction, but that faded as she thought about the case itself. “You know I can’t tell you the details, but he was there at one of the stops. He was more of an, I don’t know, witness, I guess. He wasn’t involved in the crime or reason for the call. Just… happened to be there. You know how it is.”

Cycl0n3 seemed a bit disappointed. “Ah. Wrong place, wrong time kind of thing?”

“Something like that.”

It was then that Cycl0n3 noticed her mood. “Hey, are you all right?”

She nodded. “It’s just crowded and loud in here. You know how that bugs me.”

“Yeah, it is. I’d offer to take you home, but…” He sighed. “Work.”

“It’s okay. Work’s why I’m here, too. I got promoted today.”

“Oh, yeah!” He brightened. “I saw on SimBook. Liked it with a big macro of a huge thumbs-up. But I guess you didn’t see that yet. So, congratulations, Officer Blondie.” He planted a big smooch on her cheek.

He said that just loud enough for Justine to hear. “Officer Blondie?”

Justine repeated it loud enough that Hank, who was returning to the table, also heard. “Wait… Officer Blondie?” He looked at Blair with a huge grin on his face.

“It’s just a nickname,” Blair said, embarrassed.

“I love it, partner!”

“It’s adorable,” Justine agreed.

Cycl0n3 gave Blair a sheepish look. “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”

Doing her best to keep a straight face as her co-workers dissolved into hysterics, Blair answered. “Yup.”

Offline Alex

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 13
« Reply #53 on: August 30, 2015, 09:35:26 AM »
I've just discovered this and sat and read the whole thing in one sitting. Really love the way you're taking everybody's stories - lots of fun and completely true to their personalities. Also love Cycl0n3's makeover in particular.

Offline chetanhaobijam

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 13
« Reply #54 on: August 30, 2015, 11:42:01 AM »
Blair and Cyclone's make over looks awesome. Looks like they are going for real long lasting relationship this time. Like Sunset Valley sims and their stories. Nice to see the two Wainwrights having good time at Sims U. Looking forward for next update.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 13
« Reply #55 on: August 30, 2015, 10:02:06 PM »
Tea. Wonderpetal. Hot.

That ST:TNG reference made me giggle inside. :)

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 14
« Reply #56 on: September 11, 2015, 06:33:08 PM »
I've just discovered this and sat and read the whole thing in one sitting. Really love the way you're taking everybody's stories - lots of fun and completely true to their personalities. Also love Cycl0n3's makeover in particular.

Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it that much! Also, glad you like Cycl0n3's look. He's one of the few sims that can pull off that University hairstyle. On most, it would just be too goofy.  ;D

Blair and Cyclone's make over looks awesome. Looks like they are going for real long lasting relationship this time. Like Sunset Valley sims and their stories. Nice to see the two Wainwrights having good time at Sims U. Looking forward for next update.

Thanks! Blair is certainly thinking long-term (that hopeless romantic trait, in all honesty she probably never got as far over him as she thought, but don't tell her that!) and Cycl0n3 probably is, too, although I'm not sure he's thought it out that far consciously.

Tea. Wonderpetal. Hot.

That ST:TNG reference made me giggle inside. :)

I was hoping someone would catch that!  :D

Chapter 14

Time at Sims University seemed to fly for Boyd and Susan. Before they knew it, both cooler weather and midterms were upon them, and although they both passed their exams with flying colors, the heavy course load was challenging to keep up with.

Regular trips to the java hut, and more than a few wonderpetal bagels, also helped. Boyd became quite the herbal enthusiast over the course of the semester. A little studying and careful experimentation with adding it to his food yielded better results than drinking teas as far as his system agreeing with it went. He preferred the tried and true taste of coffee anyway, so that was fine by him.

His knowledge of botany and experience from work also served him well in getting high quality samples from his field study, some of which he was able to improve in the genetics lab. A few seeds were of such good quality that he looked forward to being able to plant them once he was back home. One was a life fruit seed that he had obtained in his genetics class. The students were given a chunk of it to work with and practice extraction and analysis procedures on. There was a viable seed in the piece Boyd received, and he saved it while taking several samples of the fruit itself for future analysis after the class work was complete. He was hopeful that he could grow his own life fruit plant back home. He would have tried starting at University, but with the fall weather and limited time before they had to go home, he knew it would not have time to mature, and he did not want to risk losing a fragile seedling in transport over long distance.

When she wasn’t brewing away on her chemistry station or studying for another class, Susan took on challengers and worked at climbing the ranks in the competitive chess circuit. Her first victory against Miles Forthright had left her determined, and that motivation stayed with her. She did not win every match, but she won most of them, and with a close victory against Samantha Grey toward the end of the semester, she finally achieved the next rank. All over Sims University, Susan’s name was one that her fellow chess players had come to both respect and dread when it came time for a competitive match.

Of course, they still made time for their less academic hobbies. Before their trip to University, Boyd and Susan spent much of their free time on their computers, and that didn’t change while they were there. After remotely checking work email—something Susan was far more diligent about than Boyd—she would catch up on the forums she followed, and sometimes play a little online chess to keep her skills sharp between competitions. Susan also started a personal blog called “Board Insight.” Most of what she posted pertained to her chess hobby, strategy, and experiences in the competitive circuit, but she made the occasional more personal or thoughtful post talking about life in general, or things that excited her.

Boyd followed her blog, and Susan encouraged him to make one of his own as well. He did, but he posted far less frequently than she did, and ended up deleting it after a couple of weeks of worrying that he was inadvertently giving out too much personal information over the internet. Susan assured him that she had no problem with hers, and that she hadn’t shared anything too risky or identifying, but Boyd had always been more paranoid about such things than she was, so there was no changing his mind. Instead, Boyd kept his online sharing and musings to The Tinfoil Hattery, the conspiracy forum he moderated with his online friend Smack Pod, and talk with his guild mates in TarzWar. Although his current schedule didn’t allow him to play as frequently as he used to, he went on when he had the chance.

Cycl0n3 still didn’t know that his TarzWar buddy “Space Invader” was Boyd. When the subject of personal lives came up in guild chat, Cycl0n3 would occasionally mention his girlfriend, who, unbeknownst to him, was “Space’s” daughter. He never said anything bad, which Boyd was glad for, but there was one time he wished he had the ability to un-see text. That was an evening when Cycl0n3 signed off saying that he’d love to stick around, but he was “about to get lucky! Woohoo!”

“Wishing you’d told him who you were in that game yet?” Susan teased Boyd, who was still cringing over his keyboard after telling her about it.

As finals loomed, the two of them and Mahmoud, who shared their major, got in a big study session together. When they needed a break, Susan made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. Mahmoud was thrilled. He told them that even though grilled cheese was far from the most sophisticated meal in the world, it had always been his favorite, being the perfect comfort food. With the dried wonderpetal Susan sprinkled on it while cooking, it was also the perfect study food. “I’m so glad Blair passed along the video Emma shared of making these. I never knew they were that easy.”

“Emma has a real knack in the kitchen, that’s for sure,” said Boyd. “Our daughter’s got this roommate who could cook just about anything and make it taste gourmet,” he told Mahmoud. “It’s quite impressive to watch her. It’s almost like watching someone like Simeril work. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a five star chef someday.”

“Is she single? Maybe you could get her my phone number,” Mahmoud said with a grin. “I love a lady with an appreciation for fine food. I like to cook myself, although I never have the time, and I hate cooking in the kitchen at the house. There’s always a sink full of dishes someone left for someone else because they couldn’t be bothered to clean them.”

Susan glanced over at Boyd. “I know exactly what you mean.”

After dinner, the three of them studied for a couple more hours until they felt like they were prepared for the final. “Good luck tomorrow,” Mahmoud said as he put his notebook back in his bag. “Oh, we’re throwing a big end-of-term party at the house tomorrow night. I hope you can make it. It’s a wet ‘n wild theme, so wear your bathing suits.”

“Bathing suits?” Boyd repeated. “But you don’t even have a pool at the house.”

“Nah, but we’ll be doing juice slides and chugging and a jumbo cup juice pong tournament in the basement. Sometimes we break out the hose, too, just for fun!”

“I see. Well, we’ll stop by,” Boyd said, while Susan’s eyes went wide and Mahmoud headed for the door.

“Great! See you tomorrow, then!” He waved and left.

“What?” Boyd asked as Susan stared at him.


“It’s the end of the semester, and they’re our friends. It would’ve been rude to say no, and who knows when we’ll see them again, except online? Besides, doesn’t it seem just a little bit fun? For the crowd-watching aspect, if nothing else?”

“Okay, maybe that could be a little amusing. But other than that? No. I don’t think drinking too much juice, covering myself in it, and then acting like some wild university kid out of control sounds like a good time.” She gave him a pointed look. “And for the record, watching you do it isn’t high on my list, either.”

“So does this mean I don’t get to hold you upside down by a keg just once?”

“You better be kidding.”

“I am.” Boyd held Susan’s hands. “I promise, no keg stands for you, or juice pong, or anything else you find objectionable. If things get too rowdy or offensive, we leave. I wouldn’t enjoy myself if you were miserable, anyway.” He kissed her. “Sound good?”

“Sounds good.”

Exam day was grueling, but they made it through. All their studying and hard work paid off, and both Boyd and Susan finished their exams feeling confident that they had done well.

“Aced Extrapolation of Essentials 202! :)” Susan texted to Boyd after finishing her last exam. “Hope yours is going well. See you at the house!”

Once they were both back from their exams, they grabbed a bite to eat, relaxed, and caught up on the latest episode of one of their favorite shows. Shortly afterward, they received a text from Mahmoud reminding them that the party started in an hour. They headed into the bedroom to get changed.

Boyd put on his swim trunks and looked over at Susan. “Looking good! Though I’m selfishly glad you wore that suit and not the bikini you had in the islands. I’m not the jealous type, but a house full of fraternity guys ogling you in that would probably test my limits.”

“I’m sure there will be plenty of girls their own age to ogle, and probably in skimpier suits,” Susan remarked. “Let’s just hope everyone keeps their skimpy suits on. If they had a few streakers at their formal party, I’m worried we’re going to see more of these partiers than we want to at one where their specific goal is to cut loose and go ‘wet ‘n wild.’”

When they arrived, the party at the fraternity house was just getting started. It was crowded and there were plenty of guests, but the majority were watching the “juice pong championship match” between Mugsy Brotaski and Steve Texas downstairs, or were keeping their cups full at one of the three different kegs set out for the party. A few were dancing to the loud music from the stereo in the foyer, including old Rex Lovelace, who made Boyd and Susan feel young by comparison.

After briefly watching the juice pong game, Mahmoud took Boyd and Susan to the back room to show them the items he’d unlocked in a new melee combat video game he had. He invited them to play with him on player vs. player mode, and soon the three of them were beating the tar out of each other’s pixelated avatars and releasing the stress of a university term’s worth of classes.

Between rounds, Mahmoud set the controller down and stretched. “Hey, want to go grab a couple of drinks? I’m getting thirsty. The stuff up front is great. We splurged for the end of the semester. No cheap light stuff.”

“That stuff at the last party was light?” Susan laughed. “I’d hate to see strong.”

“Ah, I think you’d like it if you gave it a try. I could grab you a cup. How about you, Boyd?”

“Sure. I’ll take a walk with you.”

“I’ll catch up in a few,” Susan told them. “I want to try out a different weapon on this first.”

Boyd and Mahmoud left Susan with the game and went to the nearest keg. There were already some party guests gathered around it. One was Ludo, who was grinning as he watched one of his fraternity brothers hold another guy upside down over the keg tap, and squirt a stream of juice into his mouth. They began a counting chant while he was holding him, and when he was finished, all of them, including Mahmoud, let out a cheer.

“Here for drinks, or here to try a keg stand?” Ludo gave Boyd a mischievous look.

“Just drinks,” Boyd told him. “One for me, one for Susan, and one for him.”

“You sure?” Ludo looked at Mahmoud. “You look like you want to do a keg stand to me.”

Mahmoud didn’t take much convincing. “All right. Let’s do it.”

Boyd was amused. “And to think, Susan’s going to miss this.”

“Oh, that’s a shame,” Ludo said with a grin. “Because you’re going to help him.”

“Wait. What?”

“It’s easy, and he’s a lightweight. Just lift him up like this.” Ludo grabbed Mahmoud by the torso and turned him upside down with more force than he intended, swinging him to the side and nearly into the wall. Luckily, Mahmoud saw it coming, and put out his arm so it got that instead.

“Dude! Watch it!” he protested as Ludo set him back down. “How many have you had?”

“Five…” Ludo glanced into his cup. “…point six seven, give or take.”

“Yeah, well I can see why you’re off keg stand lifting duty,” Mahmoud said, before turning to Boyd. “You up to it?”

“I’m not entirely sure my back is up to it.” Boyd felt the eyes of the crowd on him, and the eager look in Mahmoud’s. He gave in. “But I think I can manage. Come on.”

Another juiced cheer went through the room. Boyd braced himself and grabbed Mahmoud, who kicked off the floor and balanced an arm on the side of the keg as Boyd lifted and then held him place. Mahmoud grabbed the tap and began to squirt juice in his mouth while the crowd counted enthusiastically.

He lasted to the count of seven before he began to struggle, and let go. Boyd lowered him back to the floor while Mahmoud finished swallowing and caught his breath. He was soaked with juice halfway down his chest, and as he stood, he wiped the excess off his face with the back of his hand and let out a loud whoop of excitement. “YEAH!” The crowd cheered with him, and Boyd, finding their energy contagious, joined in.

Mahmoud turned to Boyd. “That’s one down. Now for yours.” He shoved him in front of the keg.

“Uh, wait. No. Really, a cup is fine. I’ve got to bring one to Susan anyway—”

“Ah, come on, Boyd! Try it!” Mahmoud glanced around the room. “You guys want to see him try it, right?”

Loud cheers affirming their answer rang throughout the room.

Boyd was somewhat overwhelmed. A part of him felt that keg stands crossed the line into foolishness he should be above, but another part of him, a little rebellious voice inside of him that had gotten louder as of late, whispered that just once, it might be fun. “I don’t know. I’ve never done that…”

Ludo put his arm around Boyd’s shoulders. “Did you hear that? This poor man has never done a keg stand! How can we, the loyal brothers of Urele-Oresha-Cham, let one of our good friends graduate tomorrow never having done a keg stand?”

“We can’t, right?” Mahmoud pumped his fist in the air and started to chant. “Keg stand! Keg stand!”

The crowd echoed him. “Keg stand! Keg stand!”

“Oh, what the heck,” Boyd conceded, much to the glee of his young fraternity friends. “Why not?”

Making sure he didn’t get the chance to change his mind, Ludo pumped the keg while Mahmoud grabbed Boyd by the waist and hoisted him up. “Here we go!”

Once he was in position, Ludo handed Boyd the tap and stepped back. Boyd hit the trigger and his mouth was flooded with a rush of sweet juice. The awkwardness of the position made it hard for him to swallow the spraying juice without soaking himself completely. The partiers around him cheered and began counting, and Boyd was somewhat proud of himself as he got a handle on the flow rate and managed a few less clumsy gulps. At least, until a camera flash went off, and he realized that his inglorious moment had been immortalized on digital media. Boyd’s innate paranoia kicked in immediately, and he choked on the juice, spewing out a stream of it while some went up his nose. He fumbled and dropped the tap while Mahmoud eased him back to the floor.

Mahmoud asked Boyd if he was all right while Boyd got his bearings. He nodded and stood up, and Ludo gave him a thumbs-up. Boyd realized then how soaked he was, and as he pulled off his sunglasses to wipe the sticky juice off of them, he saw Susan standing in the doorway, face-palming.

Ludo filled up another cup and offered it to him. “One for the road?”

“No.” Boyd looked sheepishly over at Susan. “I think I’m done.”

Susan was not upset, but she did spend the way home from the party shaking her head at her husband’s antics. “I knew Ludo was going to be a bad influence on you. I hope while you were embarrassing yourself you had fun, at least.”

“Kind of. Aside from when the juice went up my nose, anyway. But don’t worry. It’s not something I think I’ll ever want to do again.” It was late, so Boyd kissed Susan good night and took a shower before bed, while she went ahead and turned in.

Susan was up before Boyd the following morning. She decided that for their last day at University, she’d make a pancake breakfast with some mix she’d grabbed from the convenience store earlier that week. Their graduation was scheduled for later that afternoon, and she knew the local joints would be full with folks from out of town dining out before the ceremony. They had invited Blair to come, but she was not able to make the drive due to work obligations. She sent her congratulations long distance, and sent each of them a message saying how proud she was of them and how she wished she could be there. Unfortunately, Susan’s laptop crashed right after reading that.

She was going to fix it herself, but she wanted to eat first. Boyd got up just as the pancakes were finished, and he offered to take a look at it while she ate. “No sense in letting it getting cold on you when you were the one who went through the trouble of making it. Besides, I owe you one for making you bring me home soaked in juice last night.”

“Well, yes,” Susan said with a smile. “You’re feeling all right this morning? Didn’t have too much out of that keg?”

“No juice hangover, if that’s what you’re worried about. I didn’t have that much.”

“I still can’t believe they talked you into that.”

“I’m not quite sure how that happened, either,” he admitted. “I suppose I got caught up in the mood of partying and cutting loose. But the term’s over now and we’re going back home soon, so, that’s that for the university partying experience.” He rebooted the laptop. “There. It should be good now.”

“Thanks.” Susan washed her plate while Boyd set aside the laptop. He was about to grab some pancakes when they heard the morning mail being delivered. “Hey, I wonder if that’s the final transcripts.” They knew their grades already—both had earned A’s—but they had requested transcript copies to give to Landgraab Industries upon their return. The sooner it was on record that they had their degrees, the sooner their jobs would be secure, and the raises would come in.

Boyd got the mail while Susan fixed up a plate of pancakes for him. “That’s them,” he said with a note of pride. “Here it is, in writing. Our final grades, overall GPA, and look, we both got recommendations from the dean.”

“I can’t believe it’s finally happened. Today we get our university degrees. The ones we started when Blair was five.” Susan felt a rush of accomplishment. “In your face, everyone who said we’d never do it.”

“I like to think my mother didn’t really mean that when she said it back then.” Boyd set the papers down and took the pancakes. “You know how she was. If you didn’t do things her way, you were wrong, and her way was definitely not us getting married and having a surprise baby right after high school.” A smile tugged at the edge of his mouth. “That said, I hope she’s hearing the ‘I told you so’ right now, the Watcher rest her soul. And that she’s proud of us.”

Graduation time arrived, and Boyd and Susan joined their fellow graduating students in Sims University’s gymnasium for the grand ceremony. Both were proud and excited to accept their diplomas and walk across that stage. They left the ceremony feeling like they were on top of the world.

“We did it, Dr. Wainwright,” Boyd said with a big grin.

“Doctor. I love how that sounds in front of my name.” Susan beamed. “How about you, Dr. Wainwright?”

“It feels wonderful.” They hugged each other.

“Hey, let’s get some pictures for SimBook,” Susan suggested. “I know Blair would like to see them.”

“I wish she could’ve been here.”

“Me, too.”

Susan and Boyd each took a picture of the other with their diploma, and then they asked someone standing nearby to snap a picture of the two of them together on each of their phones. A few minutes later, they were on SimBook, shared with the world. Tomorrow, they would go home.

Blair smiled as she looked at the picture on her smartphone of her parents cheering with their diplomas. “I’m so happy for them,” she told Cycl0n3, who was getting out of the car now that they were at the diner. Cycl0n3’s PI license had come in the mail, and on the next work day he was planning to give notice. He offered to take Blair out to celebrate.

“Yeah, it’s cool they made it. They must’ve chugged through at full steam.” He took her hand after locking the car. “Sorry I couldn’t take you anywhere better, by the way, but I still make next to nothing. After I solve my first big PI case, though, we’re going to the bistro.”

Blair took Cycl0n3’s hand and smiled. “It doesn’t matter where we go. I just like being with you.”

Cycl0n3 held her a little closer. “Aw, sometimes I forget how sweet you are, and then you just go and blow me away with it.” He squeezed her hand.

“Cycl0n3? Blair?” A familiar voice called from behind. It was Connor Frio, heading into the same restaurant they were with someone neither recognized on his arm.

“Hey, Connor,” Cycl0n3 said. “Nice seeing you outside of spell-check purgatory.”

“Hi,” Blair greeted him.

“Yeah. My girlfriend and I came out to get dinner.” He looked at the woman with him. “Jamie, this is Cycl0n3 and Blair. Cycl0n3 works with me at Doo Peas, and Blair… um, she went to school with me.” Blair realized Connor did not want the incident with his brother brought up.

“Nice to meet you,” Jamie said.

“You too.”

“So, I guess this is a popular date spot tonight,” Cycl0n3 said. “We were about to grab a bite, too.”

“Now if you want a real hot spot, you should try that new lounge that opened, or Mick’s,” Jamie said. “But this is a fun place to relax with someone. Of course, Connor here would sooner go to the library than one of those places,” she said with affection. “That’s fine by me, though. I also love to read. We actually met there. He was researching his novel and we got talking.”

Blair gave Connor a curious look. “Novel? I didn’t know you were a writer.”

“It’s not a big deal. Just something I do in my spare time. I haven’t been published or anything.”

“Yet,” Jamie added. “You’ll get there.”

“Well, anyway, we should probably go in and get a table,” said Connor. “See you guys later.”

“Heh. Who knew he even had a girlfriend?” Cycl0n3 remarked after they left. “He’s so quiet, it’s hard to picture him going out and meeting someone, even if it is at the library. Did he have any girlfriends back when you knew him in school?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Oh. Do you remember if he had a date at your junior prom we went to together?” Cycl0n3 smiled. “All I really remember was you in that pink dress with your hair all up and the flower corsage thing. You looked really pretty.”

“You were handsome in your suit, too. You even had your hair combed out. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you like that.”

“And it’ll be a long time before you get me in a tux again, too,” he joked. “You know how uncomfortable they are?”

“I bet not as uncomfortable as those heels I had on. I never wore those again after that night.”

“So you learned your lesson and got better shoes for your senior prom, huh?”

“Actually, I never went to my senior prom.”

That caught Cycl0n3 by surprise. “Really? Miss romantic at heart skipped her senior prom? I figured that’d be a ‘can’t miss it’ kind of thing for you.”

She met his eyes. “There wasn’t anyone I wanted to go with. I wasn’t seeing anyone, and I didn’t really have anyone in mind I wanted to date.”

“No good single prospects around prom time, huh?”

“More like not for that entire year.”

“Wait. You’re not saying you didn’t date anyone, right? Like not even going out once or twice?”

Blair shook her head. “I didn’t. Nobody ever made me feel like I did when I was with you, and if it couldn’t be like that, it just didn’t feel worth it.”

“Wow.” Cycl0n3 looked down at the pavement. “Knowing that makes me feel a little bad about that thing I had with Asala at University.”

“No. Don’t.” Blair put her hand on his arm. “You moved on. I meant it when I told you I was happy for you on SimBook. I was glad you were happy, that you found someone. I mean, it felt a little weird because I didn’t have anyone, but I never wanted you to be lonely. I felt bad for you when you two broke up. I saw it wasn’t… an easy split.” Blair remembered the angry statuses Cycl0n3 had posted at the time, and some of the remarks he’d made in the comment thread about him being single again.

Cycl0n3 met her eyes and let out a rueful chuckle. “I never told you this, but you were the reason we broke up.”

“What?” Blair was stunned.

“She was jealous. She never liked that you and I were still friends. When she saw you on my SimBook and asked me who you were, she got all bent out of shape. I told her things were cool, that it was over and you and I were just friends, and I even pointed out that you were a five hour drive away, but she couldn’t accept it. She couldn’t stand it.” He shook his head. “We argued a bunch of times over it. I told her to relax, that she was freaking out over nothing. I even let her sit at my computer and read my private messages and emails to prove it. But it wasn’t good enough.” Cycl0n3 looked into the distance for a moment. “She said no one just stays friends with an ex like that, and that if I meant it when I said I loved her and that it was over with you and me, that I’d cut you off. Stop being your friend. She gave me an ultimatum to choose.”

“And you chose me over the girl you loved?”

“I chose the one who’d never make me choose between her and someone else I cared about. The one who’d always trusted me, who’d been my friend since I met her, regardless of what we were in the past.” Cycl0n3 stroked the side of Blair’s face. “Maybe I should’ve realized then how much I still cared about you. I guess Asala could tell, and that’s why she was so threatened. But I didn’t see it that way or even feel that way at the time. You were my friend, and I’d never cheated on her, with you or anyone else. It ticked me off that she wouldn’t just trust me. I realized that she wasn’t who I thought she was, so I called it quits.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Obviously, I made the right choice.”

After that, the two of them went inside and had dinner. While they were waiting for their food, Cycl0n3 got a text from his boss, and while he was responding to that, Blair checked her SimBook app. In her notifications, she saw that some friend of her father’s had tagged him in a photo. Figuring it was another graduation picture, she clicked.

When she did, her eyes went as wide as the diner’s coffee cup saucers. “Oh, Dad. You didn’t.”

“What?” Cycl0n3’s curiosity was piqued.

Blair handed him the phone, and when he saw it, Cycl0n3 burst out laughing.

Back at University, Boyd and Susan were packing up the last of their things when Boyd’s phone beeped. He pulled it out of his pocket and saw the notification that he’d been tagged in a photo by Ludo.

“What is it?” Susan asked, placing some clothing in a suitcase.

“Ludo tagged me in a picture,” he replied as he waited for it to load.

“One from the graduation ceremony?”

“No,” Boyd replied, embarrassed. There it was, in full color and high resolution, him doing a keg stand with Mahmoud. He could already hear the wisecracks from his friends and co-workers coming his way.

Curious when she saw her husband’s reaction, Susan came over and looked at his screen. “Oh. That’s quite a picture.”

“Social media is a curse sometimes,” Boyd muttered. “I better un-tag myself from that before everyone sees it.” He tapped furiously at his phone, but it was too late.

The phone beeped again.

Jack Bunch has commented on a photo you’re tagged in.

“Oh, great. Nobody’s going to let me live this down, are they?”

Susan gave him a pat on the shoulder and a consoling, if not amused smile. “Probably not for a while.”

Offline karlissa

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 14
« Reply #57 on: September 12, 2015, 12:49:49 PM »
Just seeing that last photo made me go into hysterics for a little bit.
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 14
« Reply #58 on: September 12, 2015, 08:50:03 PM »
<snicker> Oh goodness, I sure hope that the science lab doesn't have a social media policy that Boyd somehow violated. :P

That last exchange between Cycl0n3 and Blair was so sweet.

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 15
« Reply #59 on: September 23, 2015, 08:56:24 PM »
Just seeing that last photo made me go into hysterics for a little bit.

I'm glad it amused!  ;D

<snicker> Oh goodness, I sure hope that the science lab doesn't have a social media policy that Boyd somehow violated. :P

That last exchange between Cycl0n3 and Blair was so sweet.

Luckily for Boyd, Landgraab Industries isn't the most corporate of places owned by the Landgraabs, and his workplace wasn't tagged or mentioned in the picture.  Of course, his co-workers will still see it, and you know childish sims like Gobias will take that and run a mile with it...

Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
Chapter 15

Upon their return from Sims University, Boyd and Susan received a warm reception on their first day back at Landgraab Industries. “Well, if it isn’t the doctors Wainwright,” Christopher Steel, one of the newer lab techs, greeted them. “Welcome back and congrats on your degrees.”

“Yeah, way to go!” added Madison.

“Thanks,” Boyd said.

Susan nodded. “Thank you. It’s nice to be back.”

“Anyway, we’re glad to see you,” Madison told them. “With Judy out on maternity leave and you two away, we’ve been like a skeleton crew for a while. Poor Gobias has been up to his eyeballs in reports.”

“I know,” Susan said. “I tried to keep up with my email as best I could, but that 18-credit schedule made it tough.”

“Yeah, it was pretty grueling. I didn’t check as often as I probably should’ve, either,” Boyd said apologetically. “But we were both pretty busy over there.”

Gobias grinned as he joined the conversation. “Yeah, with all those classes and those wild parties, right, Dr. Keg Stand?”

“Ha ha. Okay, get it out of your systems. Obviously, the 28 comments that photo was up to last I checked wasn’t enough for all of you,” Boyd quipped, while Madison giggled.

“Oh my Watcher, I still can’t believe you went to a kegger. That’s hilarious! And you were there too?” She looked at Susan.

“I was on the premises.”

“You were there just like me,” Boyd pointed out. “Don’t pretend you weren’t.”

“Aw, and we didn’t get pictures of Susan hitting the keg? I feel cheated.”

Susan gave Gobias a pointed look. “That’s because I didn’t hit the keg. I might’ve had a cup out of one, but that’s about it.”  She made a face. “It wasn’t even good juice.”

Christopher laughed. “It usually isn’t when it comes in big party kegs.”

“Well, we’re all glad you’re back, anyway,” Gobias said. “It’s not the same without you two. I think Audrey IV even missed you a little, Boyd. She won’t beg for swordfishes from me or Madison like she does for you.”

“I’ll bring a fat one for her when I head down there to check on them. Is her room still on that Nitro-13 study?”

“Yup,” Gobias said with a nod. “That stuff is great for growth, but boy, does it make them ravenous. Count your fingers when you’re done.”

After catching up with their co-workers, Boyd and Susan took on the task of doing the same with their work. Each had a considerable pile waiting for them, so by the time lunch came around, they were eager for a break. When they went down to the break room to eat, however, they found a surprise on the bulletin board.

“Oh, I don’t believe it.” A flush of embarrassment colored Boyd’s pale cheeks when he saw the printout of his keg stand picture. Someone with handwriting suspiciously like Gobias’ had sharpied “Dr. Keg Stand” across the top of it.

“That’s quite mature,” Susan remarked.

“I’m starting to think I should’ve fed Ludo to a cow plant for posting that.”

“That’s what you get for being a wild university party animal,” she teased.

“Thanks for the support, honey.”

Aside from the ribbing he took over his Sims U partying adventures, Boyd ended up having a good day, and so did Susan. Although Judy was out, her supervisor called each of them into the office to give them good news. Not only were they assured that their jobs were secure and safe from the looming headcount cull, but they were each given a substantial raise and promotion. Boyd left with the new title of Carnivorous Plant Tender, and the position of overseeing all of the cow plant studies on site, and Susan was granted the position of Aquatic Ecosystem Tweaker. It was, as Judy had promised before they left for University, the same level and title she held, and she now reported to the same supervisor that Judy did.

“This makes it all worth it, huh?” Boyd said as they left for the day. “Think of all the stuff we’ll be able to do with that extra money.”

“I know!” Susan was excited. “I think we should expand our plans for the basement. Forget just a laundry room. Now we can afford to set up a home lab down there.”

Boyd nodded. “We’ll have to tweak the ventilation plans, but otherwise that’s totally do-able. We could also make that second bathroom we were going to put in down there a full bath instead of half, with a shower at least. That’d be better with the chemistry stuff and work bench nearby, and it’d raise the value of the house.”

“So, what do you think we should do with Blair’s old room? A home theater? Get a big wall-mounted flat screen TV, a really nice surround sound system, and maybe a nicer couch?”

“How about a couple of those Sharper Sim leather foot massage chairs? Those are great. I’ve wanted one ever since the first time I tried one out at the mall…”

They continued to discuss their plans as they got in the car. On their way home, they noticed that there was a festival going on in Sunset Valley’s central park. They decided to change out of their work clothes and then go check it out. Although the Wainwrights usually just went online or watched TV after work, it was a nice day, and they felt like celebrating.

On their way into the festival, they stopped at a tent where they had their picture taken and put on a festival background card as a souvenir. Since it had been such a memorable day for them, it just seemed right to make a memento for it. After that, they stopped at the snow cone vendor and treated themselves. Boyd tried a blizzard flavor that ended up dyeing his tongue red, while Susan tried a rainbow flavor that put her in a great sugar-induced mood.

On a whim, they decided to hop into the festival roller rink. Neither had been skating since they were teenagers. Needless to say, between that and their not so active lifestyle, Susan and Boyd were pretty shaky on their skates. After a few clumsy attempts to make it around the rink, they decided that was enough, and headed over to the food vendors to grab some dinner.

When they got there, they ran into the Bunches. Judy, Jack, and two of their kids were at a picnic table enjoying some funnel cake. Jack waved Susan and Boyd over to chat when he spotted them. “Glad to see you two back in town! How are you doing?”

“Pretty well,” Susan replied. “We started back at work today, and we both got promoted.”

“Oh, congratulations!” said Judy. “I’m so glad they followed through on that. You both deserve it. I hope everything there’s going well?” She patted her stomach. “I’m still out for a while. This little one isn’t going to be here for a few months yet, even though she feels so big already.”

“She? So you know you’re having a girl, then?” Boyd asked.

Jack nodded. “Yup. Three daughters. It’s a good thing we still have some of Darlene’s stuff to pass down to her.” He sighed and shook his head. “I’m sure glad they’re far enough apart in age that only one of them will be dating for a while, though. Lisa’s got this boyfriend I can’t stand that’s nothing but trouble. Has a blue mohawk and thinks he’s real slick.”

“VJ’s a jerk,” Arlo piped up. “He always makes fun of me.”

“Did Blair ever date any guys like that? Ones you two wanted to stuff into the latrine, or whatever?”

Susan chortled. “Not unless you count the time Boyd threatened to turn Blair’s boyfriend into cow plant chow if he didn’t treat her right. He turned out to be fine, though. She’s still with him.”

Jack shot Boyd a curious look. “So it worked, huh? Kept him in line? You know, Judy, you’ve got access to those…”

“Jack, we’re not feeding VJ to a cow plant.”

“A guy can dream,” Jack said with a chuckle.

Boyd and Susan chatted with Jack and Judy for a bit longer, but when Boyd said he wanted to grab a bite to eat, Jack suggested that they join him in a hot dog eating contest instead. Neither Boyd nor Susan was interested at first, but Jack had a way of being persuasive, and somehow, he managed to talk them both into it.

When the bell went off, both Susan and Boyd felt a bit silly shoving hot dog after hot dog into their mouths in front of a crowd. To both of their surprise, however, Boyd won the contest. It turned out that years of a steady diet of junk food by a computer had left him with an iron stomach that wasn’t fazed by the sudden glut of chemical-laden meat. That stumped Jack, who asked where a skinny guy like him could put it all. Dr. Landgraab, who also participated in the hot dog eating contest, reminded Jack wryly that with his blood pressure, participating in such contests was not a great idea anyhow. Poor Susan did not fare well at all in her mass hot dog consumption. Her diet wasn’t any healthier than Boyd’s, but her system was a lot touchier, and she ran from the table to puke in the bushes as soon as it was over.

She felt a little better after a few minutes, but at that point, both Boyd and Susan were ready to call it a night. After saying goodbye to the Bunches, they left. Susan wanted to go straight home, but Boyd asked her to drop him off at the Maywood Glen Arboretum on the way. The arboretum was a new addition to the small park, where a handful of showy plants were tended year-round and smaller displays of unusual plants were rotated on a regular basis. Boyd remembered that they had an herbal display that was ending soon, and he wanted to make sure he got a sample of the rare basil they had before it was gone. Susan wished him luck and dropped him off, and Boyd headed down the footpath into Maywood Glen.

Maywood Glen was deserted at that hour, but Boyd did not mind that. It meant there would be no one to slow him down with questions, and he would be able to get what he needed without a hassle. The arboretum was lit up and seemed to take on an ethereal glow in the falling night. Boyd went inside and found the plant he was looking for. He stepped over the divider that kept foot traffic away from the plants’ tender shoots and root systems, carefully looking for the optimal spot to sample.

Unfortunately, the arboretum’s display plants had grown quite a bit since they were last rotated, and most of them had branches intermingling with their neighbors. The part of the basil plant that looked most optimal for sampling was on its side and down low. Crouching carefully, Boyd reached for it. “Come here, you. I just need a little sample.” He grimaced a bit. The angle he had to bend at was not pleasant on his back, and it was an annoying reminder of his age. “There we go. Hold still and work your magic while I get what I need…”

Boyd paused when he realized he had two sets of leaves in his hand: the neighboring bush’s as well as the basil plant’s. “Whoops. Not you.” He glanced at the shrub crowding into the basil, one of the arboretum’s permanent bushes that the displays rotated around. It was Gypsophila elegans, commonly known as Baby’s Breath. “Definitely not you. No, I know what happens if I talk to you and ask you to work your magic.” Like many sims, Boyd was aware of the folklore surrounding the shrub. He did not put much stock in superstitions, so he did not believe there was anything to the old sims’ tale, but at the same time, there were enough strange phenomena in the universe that he was not one to tempt fate, either. He had nothing against children, but with Blair already grown and on her own, he and Susan were content to let that stage of their lives be done with.

“Actually, I’m surprised Judy and Jack don’t have you in their yard,” Boyd remarked, thinking of the Bunches and their ever-growing brood of offspring. He returned to sampling the basil leaves. It didn’t take long, and once he got what he needed, he stood and stretched. He had only been bent over for a couple of minutes, but it felt like he’d been doing something strenuous. Maybe if Susan was feeling better when he got home, he’d ask her to give him a back rub. He always enjoyed her massages…

By the time Boyd made it back home from Maywood Glen, the lights were off in most of the house, except for their bedroom and the bathroom, to which the door was open. He locked the front door behind him. “Susan?”

“In here, doing my face,” she called back.

Boyd stepped into the bathroom where Susan was meticulously applying expensive facial cream around her eyes. While Boyd accepted things like his hair turning gray and his face gaining wrinkles, Susan was not nearly as copacetic about middle age. She had begun dying the gray out of her hair once she had more than the occasional strand to pluck, and the first time she noticed a faint crease by her eye that could have been termed a wrinkle, she started buying high end moisturizers and cosmetics to combat them.

“Feeling any better?” Boyd asked.

“Yes, although I don’t think I’m going to eat a hot dog again for a long time. You can have that whole prize platter as far as I’m concerned.” She made a face. “Or if you don’t want them all, maybe we could take them over to Blair so they don’t spoil. There’s five of them in that place, so I doubt they’ll last that long.”

Boyd shrugged. “Maybe. I thought I might freeze some and microwave them later.”

“Okay.” Susan poked at a spot by her eye. “Do you think I look any younger? Is this as noticeable as it used to be? I think that new cream is working. Come here and look.”

Boyd went to her side and looked at the spot, which to him just looked like moisturized skin. Susan did look younger than her years, and he had no doubt that her fastidious skin care routine played a role in it, but which cream did it and by how much, he had no idea. “I never really noticed it in the first place, honey. You always look good.” He put his arms around her waist in a hug. “I’d say you look younger than me, and we’re the same age.”

The answer was acceptable to her, but Boyd could tell she had hoped for an even more flattering one. “Do you think someone who didn’t know us might think Blair was my sister rather than my daughter?”

“Hmm. Yes, possibly.” Considering that Susan had Blair young, taking off some apparent time could make it a reasonable assumption. Of course, Blair’s habit of giggling and acting silly often made her seem younger than she was. Boyd was certain that Blair would be carded for juice and nectar into her thirties because of that, and that did make a balance factor. He left that unsaid, though, since he had learned a long time ago how sensitive Susan could be about her appearance. Instead, he held her a little closer and gave the side of her neck a gentle kiss. “I think you look young and beautiful.”

The compliment worked, and in the mirror, Boyd saw Susan’s beaming smile as she leaned into his embrace. “Oh, sweetie. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Susan turned around, and they kissed.

“You’re romantic tonight,” Susan remarked. “Not that I’m complaining. I guess winning that contest put you in a good mood, huh?”

“That, our promotions, and, well, you wearing nothing but a towel doesn’t hurt,” he said with an appreciative look, which then turned hopeful. “I don’t suppose I could talk you into giving me a back rub?”

She gave Boyd a concerned look. “Did you hurt yourself getting those plant samples?”

“I just bent at a bad angle, that’s all. Your magic fingers would make it all better, though. They always do.”

Susan mirrored his smile. “All right, but you know, you should at least try those stretches Dr. Landgraab recommended sometime.”

“A back rub from you sounds a lot more fun.”

“I’m sure,” Susan said, putting away her face cream. “Go on and lie down. I’ll be right in.”

As Boyd predicted, Susan’s massage did make it better, enough so that afterward, both felt amorous. After a delightful romantic interlude, Boyd and Susan fell asleep in one another’s arms and shared a night of sweet dreams.

Across town, the youngest Wainwright was also trying to enjoy a relaxing evening at home. Emma and Stiles were both at work, and Tamara was helping her boss, Vita Alto, at a fundraising campaign party at the posh Alto mansion. Tamara told them that they were welcome to attend, but Blair did not like the idea of going to a party full of others she didn’t know, and neither she nor Cycl0n3 had spare cash to donate to political campaigns. Truth be told, Blair was wary of the Altos because of the rumors she heard about them on the job, but she kept that to herself. It was not like the SVPD had any solid evidence on them, and Blair knew that Tamara thought highly of Vita Alto. She had recently promoted her in recognition of her hard work on her campaign.

Blair had some assigned reading to do for work anyway. Justine had asked her to read and review the procedures in How to Avoid Concrete Shoes, and Blair wanted to just get it done and signed off on so she could concentrate on the more exciting aspects of her job. Cycl0n3 kept her company by setting up his laptop downstairs and playing TarzWar there while she read.

“Oh, yeah,” Cycl0n3 said, grinning. “Guess who’s going to make level 87 tonight?” He frowned. “That is, if Girbits doesn’t get us all killed!” Cycl0n3 started typing furiously and made angry grunting noises. “Ugh! We told you not to shoot at him, stupid! So help me, if you bring a squadron of droids down on us…”

“Not going well, I take it?”

“Girbits can’t seem to remember that he has no hit points on that rinky dink ship. It’s a damage class, not a tank. I’m half tempted to let him get blown up, but Smack’s our medic and he’s not on, and we’ll all get killed trying to salvage his stuff if he blows up out here.” Cycl0n3 grumbled again. “If I had a simoleon for every time me, Smack, Space, or Warz told him that, I’d be richer than Vita Freaking Alto and her swanky party.”

The doorbell rang, interrupting their conversation. “I wonder who that is. Are you expecting anyone?” Blair asked Cycl0n3.


“I’ll go see who it is.” Blair marked the spot in her book and went to answer the door.

It was Hank. Blair could tell right away that he was upset. “Hank? What’s wrong?” She invited him in.

“Hey, Blair. I’m sorry to just drop in without calling, but, oh, man. I need someone to talk to. Someone I can trust.” His voice was shaky with emotion.

“Of course! What happened? Are you all right?”

“Not really.” Hank met her eyes. “Pauline and I just split up.”

Blair blinked in shock. She had figured that whatever it was, it was something to do with work, if Hank came to her about it. Although they had become good friends in the time they’d been working together, that was what they had bonded over. She would have expected him to go to a friend he’d known longer for something so personal, but then, Blair supposed that most of those friends were probably close with Pauline, too. That would make it hard to talk about something like that. “I’m so sorry.” She gave him a hug.


“Come on up.”

Blair and Hank went upstairs, where Cycl0n3 was still playing TarzWar. He was surprised to see Hank, and stood up and greeted him and Blair curiously.

“Hank’s had a bad day.” Blair gave Cycl0n3 a pointed look.

“Let me guess. Ran out of donuts down at the java hut?”


“Kidding,” Cycl0n3 protested, holding up a hand.

Hank was too depressed to be offended. “I wish it was something that stupid,” he said with a sigh. “Actually, I found out my fiancée had a wild skinny dip and who knows what else with someone else. Someone else who happens to be married, and to a friend of hers, no less. Needless to say, she’s not my fiancée anymore.” He looked down at his hand, which still had the ring on it. He turned it with his fingers, and then sighed again.

Even Cycl0n3 had no witticism for that. “Ouch. That sucks.”

“Wow.” Blair did not know what to say, either. “That’s just terrible.” She paused. “Would you like me to make you some coffee or get you something to eat?”

Hank’s eyes fell on the juice bar by the wall. “No, I think I’d prefer something a little stronger.”

“Oh, okay. Sure.”

“Yeah, help yourself,” Cycl0n3 said. “I’d be going for the strong stuff if it was me, too.”

“Thanks.” Hank went over to the bar and blended up some juice. When he was done, he sat down at the table.

“So, what happened?” Blair asked. “How did you find out?”

“Pauline told me, but only because I was going to find out anyway.” Hank took a hearty swallow of the juice. “She went over to her friend Morgana’s, but she wasn’t home. Her husband, Thornton, was, though. They’re kind of friends.” He laughed bitterly. “Or something. Who knows? Anyway, she stuck around and hung out even though Morgana was working late at the hospital, and they ended up in their hot tub. Except Pauline didn’t bring a suit. She said it was just skinny dipping for fun. Well, when Morgana came home and found Pauline naked in the hot tub with her also naked husband, she didn’t think it was so innocent.”

“Oh, my Watcher,” gasped Blair, while Cycl0n3 let out a cynical snort.

“Uh, on what planet is naked with someone else’s husband or girlfriend innocent? Did she think her friend’s a total idiot?”

Hank let out a bitter laugh. “I know, right, man? There’s ‘yeah, we’re having a wild party so we all got naked’ and there’s ‘hey, there’s a private party in my hot tub while my wife’s out’ naked. Most of us can tell the difference.” He downed the rest of the glass of juice. “That hit the spot. Mind if I have another?”

Blair nodded. “Sure.”

Hank filled a second glass of juice. “So Morgana flipped, not that you can blame her. When I came home, Pauline was in tears. I asked her what happened and she told me. She was crying and said she was sorry. I asked her if it was true, what she told Morgana, that nothing happened. Other than, you know, being naked with Thornton Wolff in his hot tub while his wife was at work, and I’m nowhere around. Her answer was, ‘not really.’”

“Not really?” Blair repeated. “What kind of answer is that?”

“Not really a good one,” Cycl0n3 remarked.

He took another hearty swig from his glass. “That’s what I said. So I asked her. Did something happen or not? She gave me these vague answers. ‘Nothing major.’ ‘It was just spur of the moment.’ ‘It was no big deal, because it didn’t mean anything.’”

“So something did happen,” Blair guessed softly.

Hank shrugged. “I never got a straight answer out of her, but yeah. She was way too defensive for it to be just nothing, and Morgana sure didn’t think it was nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she and Thornton are splitsville, too.”

Hank finished his second juice. “You know me, Blair. I’m not a jealous type. I know she likes to flirt. Heck, I like to flirt, so I’m not going to be Mr. Hypocrisy and get bent out of shape over nothing. I dance with other girls when I’m out. Once or twice I might’ve even snuck in a juiced kiss or two when I probably shouldn’t have. She has, too. We’re both free spirits, and stuff happens. I can deal with that. We’ve always leveled with each other and moved on. But this? Getting naked with her friend’s husband behind my and her back? There are lines you don’t cross.” He sighed. “The worst part is, I don’t think she’d have told me about it if Morgana never caught them. Heck, I don’t know what might’ve gone on if Morgana hadn’t come home. Nothing? Maybe? I don’t know for sure. I feel like I can’t trust her. The flirting and stuff I could get over. But not knowing if she’s being honest with me? Not so much.”

Blair gave him a supportive pat. To her, even Hank’s idea of what was all right in such a situation was beyond her. She knew she would not be able to take seeing Cycl0n3 kiss someone else, juiced up or not, in stride, let alone something akin to the hot tub scenario. They were not even engaged, but she knew she would still feel betrayed. “I’m sorry she hurt you like that, Hank. You deserve better.”

“Yeah, seriously,” Cycl0n3 agreed. Although “Muscles” was still not someone Cycl0n3 considered a friend, he could not help but feel bad for him in this scenario. “It sucks to break up, but it sounds like you’re better off.”

Hank slipped the now superfluous engagement ring off of his finger and put it in his pocket. “Yeah.” He glanced at the bar. “Mind if I grab another?”

“Not at all,” Blair said softly. He got up and took a third glass of juice.

It was about then that Tamara came home. “Phew. What a fundraiser!” she announced as she came up the stairs. She was surprised to see Hank there, and looking so down. “Whoa. What’s going on?” She noticed the empty juice glasses. “Did we have a party here I missed?”

Hank let out a juiced up laugh. “Yeah.  A pity party.  For me.”

Blair gathered up the empty glasses. “I’ll go put them in the dishwasher.”

“Oooh,” Tamara said sympathetically. “I’ve had those kind of nights.”

“When you find out your fiancée was probably getting it on with a married friend’s husband? My condolences.”

“Yikes. That’s a worse night than I thought.” Tamara went over to the bar and gestured for Hank to join her. “Here. Let me make you one of my old specials for that one.”

Hank smiled at her. “Thanks.” He looked over at Blair. “You’ve got some good friends here, you know.” He pointed at Cycl0n3. “Even you, Tornado.” His speech slurred a little as he spoke, while Tamara made the strong juice.

“That’s Cycl0n3.”

“Right. Sorry.” He took the juice Tamara handed him. “And thank you.” He took a sip, and made an exaggerated face. “Oh, yeah. This is good stuff.”

Cycl0n3 shook his head and turned to Blair while Tamara and Hank started chatting. Blair was glad to see Hank cheering up a little. Tamara always had a knack for knowing what to say. It was a talent Blair envied at times.

“So, that’s pretty crazy what Muscles’ fiancée pulled on him, huh?”

“Yeah. I can’t believe it. I know they run in kind of a wild crowd, but still.” Blair took Cycl0n3’s hands in hers. “I’m glad that for all the crazy things you do, I know you’d never do something like that.”

“Does this mean I should tell you about that sexy alien girl in TarzWar who’s always flirting with me to get loot?”

“There’s a sexy alien in your game hitting on you?”

“She only wants me for my roguish charm and my sweet ship,” Cycl0n3 told her. “But she does have a nice set of, uh, rocket launchers.”

Blair was not sure whether to laugh or roll her eyes, and she ended up doing a combination of both. “Really? So should I be jealous of your alien admirer?”

“Nah. I’d never leave you for an alien. Especially not an incompetent mage-scout with an annoying talent for drawing unwanted fire,” he said with a grin. “Now if she was a medic…” Cycl0n3’s voice trailed off as he noticed the look on Blair’s face. “Just kidding. I still wouldn't leave you. Not even for a healer.” He pulled her close. “Although if you’d ever like to play one, our guild would welcome you with open airlocks.”

“Cycl0n3?” Blair pulled back and met his eyes.


“Quit while you’re ahead.”

He straightened and smiled at Blair. “Transmission terminated.”