Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 144862 times)

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 57
« Reply #225 on: March 22, 2018, 12:17:04 AM »
Loved the board meeting scene--it was such a great way to show, rather than tell, us that the Wainwrights were altering the course of the future.
I also really like that Orion is pursuing ballet as a hobby--Be yourself, Orion! That's all anyone can do!

Thank you! I didn't want to send all the kids through scouts in elementary school, and Orion struck me as the most likely candidate for something like that. Patrick is a couch potato, and Iris is a plantsim with green thumb and loves the outdoors, so quite suited for scouting. Orion, on the other hand, is rebellious and likes to do his own thing, and it's probably best he burns that energy productively, instead of booby-trapping his parents' computers and leaving whoopee cushions to "stick it to the man" like his moodlet says when he does go a-pranking! ;)

Chris's concern that his father could spoil his budding relationship with Tad proves very real!
I'm glad cool Uncle Patrick is someone Chris can trust to confide in.
Haha, Cycl0n3 can be so utterly tactless, yet he makes a great P.I. ;-)
Travis looks soooo much like Blair. It's uncanny!
Can't wait to read about what your Wainwrights are up to next!

Travis' genetics seemed to come out pretty much all Blair. It's possible his lean build came from Cycl0n3, but he and Blair have the same body sliders. I'd say it's his just so he has something in the gene pool, and because Travis got his couch potato trait, I'd imagine they'd have a similar natural physique. Also, Travis' eyes are actually Boyd's color and not Blair's. So, like Chris with Susan's hair, Travis inherited a physical trait from a grandparent.

I just caught up with this (has it really been a year since I last read?) and I'm still loving it! My dad can be a little tactless like Cycl0n3 (not as bad though) so I definitely understand where Chris is coming from...

Travis really does look like Blair - I guess Emma won that bet then! And nice to see Orion doing well - does the recital mean he's nearly at the Teen stage?

I'm glad you're still reading! Thanks for commenting.

Orion is indeed close to his teen years. The recital happened in the game a couple of days before his age-up.

Chapter 57

It was a typical morning for the Wainwrights, and the only time of day one could generally find them all in the same place—in the kitchen, grabbing breakfast before school or work.  Orion took a seat with a big slice of leftover birthday cake.  Since some of Blair’s guests hadn’t been able to make it to Travis’ birthday, she’d ordered a much larger cake than she’d needed, and she sent some of the leftovers home with her parents.  “Can we keep cake around for breakfast every day?”  He took a frosting-filled bite.

Susan looked over at Boyd, who was also eating leftover cake for breakfast.  “See what a good example you’re setting?”

“Don’t blame me.  Blame Emma’s baking for leading us into a life of sugary temptation.”

“I just hope your teachers don’t have to scrape you off the walls,” Susan said to Orion.  “Don’t get too hyper today.”

“I won’t.  Today’s our field trip to the bistro.  I wonder if they’ll show us how to make the fire cake we had there.”

“Oh, that is today, isn’t it?”  Boyd recalled signing a permission slip recently.  “Have fun.  And stay away from the sharp objects and griddles.  It’s easy to get hurt in a kitchen, especially an industrial one.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Just make sure you listen to your teachers and chaperones.”

“I will.”

Patrick checked his phone as it beeped with a text from Maria.  “Don’t worry, Dad.  I don’t think Orion will start juggling knives.  Will you?”

“No, but it’d be cool if they let us cleaver up big hunks of meat, like they do on those cooking shows Mom watches.”  He made a chopping motion with his fork.

Boyd did not like the thought of that, and Susan spoke up.  “I suspect they’ll leave meat cleaving as demonstration only.”

“They’d better,” Boyd muttered, while Patrick excused himself after reading his text.

Call if you can!!!

Curious, Patrick went out to the living room and called Maria.  “What’s up?”

“Oh, my Watcher!  Patrick!”  She was breathless and excited.  “You’re not going to believe this.”


“My mom just told me she’s going out of town for a couple of days.  For a medical conference.”  She lowered her voice as if she wanted to make sure no one overheard.  “She’s leaving while we’re at school, and said Tad and I don’t have to go to Dad’s and could stay here.  Alone.”  Patrick could almost hear her grinning on the other end.  “And get this.  Tad wants to throw a party here tonight.”

“A party?”  Patrick was intrigued, and when he overheard, Buddy’s interest was piqued also.

“Party?  You’re going to a party?”

He waved Buddy to wait while he got details.

“Yeah!  After Mom went to pack, Tad was like, ‘We’ve got to throw a party, it’ll be awesome.  No parents, no rules.’  I told him I don’t want to get in trouble, but I also think it’d be fun, you know?”

“Yeah!  I think so.”

“And besides,” Maria said flirtatiously, “if it ends up dull or someone annoying shows up, we can always go off together ourselves.  Without Mom there…”

“Sounds good to me!  What time?”

“Come over after drama club.  The party’s later, but we could hang out before.”

“Definitely!  I’ll be there.”

“Awesome.  I’ll see you at school,” she said sweetly.

“See you soon.”

“You’re going to a party tonight?”  Even without being able to go himself, Buddy was just as excited as Patrick.  “Where?”

“Maria’s.  Her mom’s going out of town and her brother wants to throw a party.”  Patrick kept his voice low and glanced toward the kitchen to make sure no one was listening.  “Should be pretty cool.”

“No parents around?  Perfect!”  Buddy grinned.  “I know who’s getting some action tonight, huh?”

“Buddy, come on.  That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about.  I respect her.”

“Yeah, I know.  But when she bats her eyes and invites you to her room, you’ll still be all over Miss Wolff faster than you can say ‘doggy style,’ and we both know it.”

“Even so… there’s no need to be crude.”

“Okay, fine.  So, who else is going?”

“She didn’t say.  Tad’s throwing it, so whoever he invited, I guess.  Chris, probably.”  Patrick chuckled.  “Don’t think I’ve ever seen him really cut loose.  That should be interesting.  I can just imagine what Blair would say.  Not that I’d tell her.”

“Probably some boring old person thing.  She’s not exactly a wild party animal.”  Buddy gave him a mischievous look.  “So, are you bringing any juice?”

“Juice?  Are you serious?”


“I’m not even old enough to buy it!”

“Who said anything about buying it?  Your parents have a bunch in that bar over there, not to mention racks full of French nectar in the basement.”

Patrick lowered his voice.  “They’d kill me.”

“Like they’ll even notice,” Buddy scoffed.  “Especially the nectar.  They have so many bottles, you think they’d miss one or two?”

“I don’t know.  Besides, I’m sure someone will come up with some drinks.  Someone always does at these kinds of things.  Even if Tad just raids his mom’s bar for it.”  He shrugged.  “Though I hope he’s got a plan for explaining where it went if she notices.”

“True.  I bet Maria would be impressed if you brought one of those fancy imported nectars, though.”

“Hmm.  She might.”  Patrick cast a thoughtful look in the direction of the basement stairs.

“I know I’d bring some if I could go.”

“Yeah, well,” he smiled, “maybe I’ll have a glass in your honor.”

“You’re going do it, then?  Ha!  Awesome!”  Buddy did a shaka-bra with Patrick.  “I can’t wait to hear how it goes!”

“How what goes?”  Orion came into the living room and side-eyed the empty space where Patrick’s attention had been.

“Buddy and I were just talking about some plans for later.”

“What are you doing?”

“Stuff too grown up for you, alien boy.”

Orion rolled his eyes at Buddy while Patrick answered.  “Just going to Maria’s after school.  We’re hanging out with some friends.”

“Oh.  You mean like a party?”

Patrick put his finger to his lips and gestured toward the kitchen.  “Just a bunch of us hanging out.”

Orion snickered.  “Oh, it’s a secret.  Okay.  I won’t tell.  As long as you don’t tell Dad that I’m going to try out the cleaver at the bistro if I can.”

“Deal.”  The bus honked outside, and they grabbed their bags and hurried out the door.

Once they were at school, Orion’s class piled into another bus and rode over to the bistro.  They broke the kids up into smaller groups to tour with, led by volunteer chaperones.  Leighton Sekemoto was the chaperone for Orion’s group.  “All right, everyone here?  Corina, Orion, Sommer, Mario?”  He did a quick head count.  “Good.  Let’s get inside.  It’s starting to rain.”

“I like it,” Corina Hart giggled.  “It’s so hot out, it feels good to be in the rain.”

“I don’t know.  It’s spattering on my glasses,” Orion grumbled as they went inside.

They were given a tour of the restaurant, and then went to a station in the kitchen where a chef did a demonstration for them.  “Okay, kids.  Today we’re going to make a big chef salad, and you all get to help.  You ready to gather the ingredients?”

“Sure!” Mario Kayes said enthusiastically.

“Do we get to wear chef hats?” asked Corina.

“I don’t think we have any in your size.  Though it looks like you’ve already got your protective gear on, huh?” the chef said to Orion as they got started.

The children gathered and prepared the ingredients.  The chef showed them proper chopping technique for the vegetables, although to Orion’s disappointment, he was not allowed to try the really big knife she used to dice up the vegetables.  Sommer Wan was elected to grate the cheese, and Mario sliced up the hard-boiled egg.  “Okay, I need a volunteer to help me with the ham and turkey.”

“Orion, how about you?” Leighton suggested.

“Sure!”  He came up to the counter.

“We need to chop this into pieces about this big.”  She showed him with her fingers.

“All right!”  Without hesitation, he reached for the chef’s cutlery and pulled out the large cleaver.

Leighton paled.  “Orion!  Put that down!”

“Whoa, easy there!”  The chef gently took it from him.  “This is overkill cutting for cold cuts.  Here, we’ll use this,” she picked up a smaller knife, “but I’ll handle the blade.  You can help by arranging the chopped meat on the salad like I showed earlier.”

“Aw, okay.”  Orion put on the gloves she handed him, and put the meat in the salad after she chopped it.  “But I could do it.”

“I’m sure you could.”

Orion finished his field trip and came home with a full belly and a bento box souvenir, and Patrick geared up for his plans with Maria and the party.  His parents were home, but otherwise occupied.  Boyd tended the plants in the greenhouse while Iris played in the sprinkler, and Susan read an e-book on her tablet while Orion did his homework.

Patrick slipped into the basement unnoticed by anyone but Buddy.  “I wonder which ones I should take.  Some of these are pretty rare and expensive, I think.”  He checked the year on one and did a double take.  “Yeah, that’s got to be worth a small fortune.  They’d probably notice that missing.”

“How about these?”  Buddy pointed to a different shelf.

Patrick picked up a bottle.  “Apple-renoit.  I’ve heard that’s a good blend.  It’s not as old, but it looks respectable.  But then, Mom probably wouldn’t have anything that wasn’t.  She’s a snob that way.”  There were three of that type, so Patrick set one aside.  One of several was less likely to be missed.  He looked at another shelf and took an older meloire grape nectar, and then, off the bottom shelf, a cherry-pomelo blend that was well-aged with a golden label.  It was the only one like it, but it wasn’t prominently placed, so he figured it was one his parents wouldn’t miss.

“Three bottles.  That should get the party started!”

“That’s the goal.”  He exchanged a high-five with Buddy, and snuck his party stash out to his car.

After a quick stop in front of the mirror to brush his hair and put on a spritz of cologne, Patrick told his mother he was going to Maria’s, and headed over.  Maria invited him in and kissed him.  “Glad you’re here.”  She eyed the nectar bottles he brought.  “Ooh.  What’s this?”

“A little something for your party.  Hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all!  Thank you!”  She noticed the labels.  “Wow!  This isn’t cheap stuff!  I’m impressed.”  She set them down on the counter.  “Hey, Tad!  Patrick’s classing up your party.  Check it out.”

Patrick saw Chris was there, on the couch with Tad.  “Hey,” he greeted them.  “You got an early invite too, huh?”

“Of course he did.  There are perks to being on the VIP list.”  Tad got up and looked at the nectar bottles.  “Nice!  Thanks!  Now we’ve got stuff other than the basic juice from the bar outside.  Not that anyone’s going to want to be out there long in this weather.”

“I’d still like to know how you think Mom’s not going to notice whatever’s gone.”

Tad waved her concern away.  “I’ll figure something out.  Your boyfriend seems to have connections.  Hey, Patrick, know anyone who’d help us out?”

“My connection is my basement.  Sorry.”

Chris wagged his finger at Patrick.  “You filched some of Grandma’s nectar?  Shame.”

“Eh, she won’t miss it.  They’ve still got a ton down there.  Besides, are you going to tell?  Somehow I doubt Blair knows you’re attending this little affair,” he teased back.

“And it’s going to stay that way.”

“I’ll drink to that.  The less anyone’s mom knows, the better.”  Tad picked up the bottle of apple-renoit.  “What do you say we sample the goods before the crowd arrives?”

“Who all did you invite, anyway?” asked Maria.

“A whole bunch of people.  Tom, Penny, and I think she’s bringing her boyfriend Wilbur.  Jamaal said he might come.  Oh, and Bianca and Katharine.”

“Katharine Cruz?  She babysits Iris sometimes.  She’s cool.”

“Yeah.  I know her from Simlish class.”

They had some nectar and relaxed before the party started.  “I’m kind of nervous,” Maria admitted.  “Mom would flip out if she knew about this.  I feel a little bad because she told us before she left how she knows we’re responsible enough to be on our own.  But nothing bad’s going to happen, right?  It’s not like we’re going to trash the place or anything.  Just have a little fun.”

“It should be fine,” Patrick assured her.  “We can cut off anyone who looks like they might be getting too wild.  It’s not like prom, where most of us didn’t know until it was too late.”

“True.”  Maria set her empty glass down.  “This is good.  Thanks for bringing it.”  She kissed him, and he could taste the sweet nectar on her lips.

“You’re very welcome.”  He took her hand as the music changed to an upbeat song.  “Want to dance?”


Soon the guests started to arrive, and the party was in full swing.  Patrick and Maria danced and chatted, while Tad’s innate charisma was in full shine playing host.  He handed Penny a glass of nectar.  “Take it easy this time.  Heard the prom stuff made you sick.”

“You’re younger than me and telling me to take it easy?  Don’t worry.  I’m fine.  Gretchen put some crazy hard stuff in that.  Nectar’s nothing.”

“I promise I won’t and didn’t, spike anything this time,” Gretchen called over from the chip bowl.  “Besides, Tad’s got some decent refreshments here.”  She picked up a glass from the ones they’d mixed on the deck bar.

“I aim to please,” Tad said with a bow.

“Bet that’s what he said to Chris when they were in his room earlier,” Maria whispered to Patrick with a smirk.

“Hey, Penny,” Chris said as she joined him at the table.  “How’s it going?”

“Pretty good.”  She giggled.  “Wilbur and I told our parents we were going out to the diner.  We were going to say it was to the stables to ride, but they’d never buy that we were riding in this weather.”

“My mom’s a forensic expert.  I need at least a halfway believable cover story to fool her,” said Wilbur.

“I just told my parents I was hanging out with Tad.  The best lie is a half-truth,” Tom Sekemoto chimed in, before calling over to Katharine.  “Hey, want to dance?”

Katharine set her glass down and got up from the couch.  “Sure.”

While dancing with Patrick, Maria noticed a familiar and unwelcome face among the crowd, dancing in the kitchen with Bianca Landgraab.  “Oh, Watcher.  Julius?  What the plum is he doing here?”

Patrick looked over.  “I don’t know, but Bianca’s got bad taste in dancing partners.”

“Seriously.  Tad!”  Maria hollered to her brother.  “What’s the deal?”  She pointed irritably to Julius.

“Just because you hate his guts doesn’t mean I do.  Ignore him.”

“Easy for you to say.  He’s not your ex, in your house!”

“Yeah, well, it doesn’t look like he’s worried about you anyway,” Tad retorted, unconcerned.

She flipped her braid in disgust.  “Ugh.  Un-be-lievable.”

“Whatever, princess.  Get over yourself,” Tad muttered.

“Why would she start now?” Chris quipped.

Tad laughed and took Chris’ hand to dance.  “I know, right?”

“Hey,” Patrick met Maria’s eyes.  “How about I help you forget that llama Julius Langerak even exists?”  He drew her into an impulsive kiss.

“Mmm.  Who?” Maria whispered flirtatiously as they broke apart.  “I don’t see anyone but you.”

“And I just see the most gorgeous girl at the party.”  He sang a verse of “Je t’aime” low and private.

Maria took his hands.  “What do you say we ditch Tad’s increasingly questionable crowd, and go back to my room?  Just the two of us?”

Patrick’s heart skipped a beat, and he squeezed her hand.  “I’d love to.”

As the hour grew later, and the nectar and juice bottles emptied, the music got louder and the party rowdier.  Chris was downright giddy, and could not stop laughing at everything, including his own wobbly dance moves.  He did an exaggerated step to play it up, only to end up tripping himself, which made it even more comical.

“Nice moves, Grace,” laughed Penny.

“Yeah, yeah.  I know.”  Chris was also laughing.  “Shut up.”

“It’s okay.  Your dance fail is kind of cute,” Tad said with a juiced smirk, just as he walked into a chair himself.

Not every flirtation at the party went so well, however.  Chris and Tad heard raised voices in the kitchen area, where Bianca was having words with Gretchen and Julius.  “I thought you two were broken up?”  Bianca narrowed her eyes as she saw the object of her affections sharing a rather close laugh with the girl she thought was his ex-flame.

“Julius.  You bad boy.”  Gretchen let out a very juiced giggle.  “You didn’t tell me you and Bianca were serious.”

“Cool it, Gretchen.  Bianca, listen.  It’s not what you think.”

“I think I heard enough!  You said she was a lying llama and cheated on you with two other guys, but now you’re all cozy with her?”

Gretchen gave Julius an indignant look.  “Hey!  You liar!  It was one, not two!”

“Ha.  Either Gretchen gets around more than we thought, or you suck at math, Julius,” Tom joked.  “Which is it?”

“Oh, shut it,” Julius retorted to Tom before turning back to Bianca.  “I said she was with two guys.  Me and Jamaal.  And we were just talking.”

“I do not get around!” Gretchen snapped, while Jamaal scoffed a differing opinion under an obvious fake cough nearby.

Bianca was not mollified, and she threw up her hands.  “Whatever!”  She stomped off.

Julius went out to the bar to get another juice, while Gretchen danced away her aggravation.  Tom cheered Bianca up by dancing with her, and the fun mood of the party was restored.

“Is it me, or do Gretchen and Julius start something every time they’re invited somewhere?” Chris remarked to Tad.

“Can’t say they don’t keep things interesting.  Speaking of which, it looks like Wilbur and Penny are doing interesting things on the couch over there.”  Tad waggled his eyebrows.  “I’d tell them to get a room, but they’d use one of ours, and then I’d have to change the sheets after.”  He put his arm around Chris.  “Not that they’ve got the wrong idea about a little fun at a party, though.”

Chris was unable to keep the smile off his face as he leaned in closer to him.  “No, not really.”

Whatever would have happened next was interrupted by a loud bang on the front door.  “What the plum?”

Confused and somewhat anxious, Tad went to answer.  He got a sinking feeling in his stomach when he noticed flashing lights outside, and his fears were confirmed when he opened the door.  Officer Arlo Bunch was on the other side, all business, with a stern look on his face.

Tad gulped in the face of impending doom, and summoned the most charming, easygoing smile he could manage.  “Uh, hi, Officer… nice night, huh?”

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #226 on: March 22, 2018, 01:58:10 AM »
That's some wild teen party!

Am I allowed to dislike Buddy? Buddy's a troublemaker who instigates Patrick while never put himself at risk.
On the other hand, Orion's also a bit of a prankster but a lovable one. I really like the way you're writing him. He's so quirky and full of surprises.

I was surprised at how spunky (and a little unwise) Tad's turned out to be, inviting Julius and Gretchen to their house party.
Chris seems so much more innocent than Tad.
Arrgggh, cliffhanger, darn it!

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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 58
« Reply #227 on: March 28, 2018, 08:25:54 PM »
That's some wild teen party!

Am I allowed to dislike Buddy? Buddy's a troublemaker who instigates Patrick while never put himself at risk.
On the other hand, Orion's also a bit of a prankster but a lovable one. I really like the way you're writing him. He's so quirky and full of surprises.

I don't blame anyone for disliking Buddy. He's not terribly likeable, and I know he's not the type of personality I'd like my kid hanging around with.

I'm glad you enjoy Orion's rebellious personality, though!

I was surprised at how spunky (and a little unwise) Tad's turned out to be, inviting Julius and Gretchen to their house party.
Chris seems so much more innocent than Tad.
Arrgggh, cliffhanger, darn it!

Tad has the charismatic trait, so he's a bit of an extrovert and likes having a lot of friends, and generally gets along with others unless his grumpy trait kicks in and puts him in a mood. Of him and Maria, I figured Tad would be more likely to throw the party, since charismatic sims generally get wishes for that.

Gretchen is an odd case, she isn't an unlikeable sim exactly, she's just a bit wild and not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Tad gets along with Julius just fine, so he figured Maria could just ignore him if she doesn't like him, forgetting that his sister is a diva, and therefore everything is about her, and that would never work. As for Chris, I see him as a bit more introverted than Tad, though not to the point of being a loner like his mom. But I do think of the two of them, Tad is much more likely the one to suggest something like cutting loose at a party. Hopefully next time, Chris will use that genius trait of his to talk him out of a dumb idea, rather than going "hmm let's see what happens, might be interesting!"

Chapter 58

“We had a noise complaint,” Officer Arlo Bunch informed Tad in a no-nonsense tone.   “What’s going on here?”  He looked past him.  “Party?  A rather loud one, according to your neighbor, and I’ve got to agree.”  He looked at him.  “How old are you?”


“Not old enough to be drinking what I see on the table over there, I’m pretty sure.”  Arlo stepped inside to take a better look.  “What’s your name?”

“Tad Wolff, sir.”

“And you live here?”

Tad nodded.

“Where are your parents?”

“Ah, well, my mom’s not here.  So, I can just take a message.”  He gave him a sheepish look.  “Party’s too loud, old man Koffi next door’s not happy.  Got it.  We’ll turn the music down.  Sorry we bothered him, and sorry about the hassle, officer.  No need to worry.  Warning accepted, heard loud and clear.”

If he wasn’t on the clock, Arlo might have been amused by Tad’s attempt to smooth-talk his way out of trouble and rush him out the door.  “Your mother’s not here.  Your father?”

“He doesn’t live here.  They’re divorced.”

“So, no adults here.  I figured as much.”  He raised an eyebrow.  “Where’s your mother?  I’m going to need to get her home here.”

Tad looked over his shoulder anxiously, where Chris and some of the others watched.  “Hey, turn the stereo down.  Now!”  Chris took care of it while Tad answered Arlo.  “Uh, that’d be kind of hard.  She’s out of town at a medical conference.  But there’s no need to call her.  Really.  I’ll send everyone home and shut it down.  Mr. Koffi won’t hear any more noise, I swear!”

“No.  He won’t.  But I think I’ll shut things down myself.”

Although he was on the job, Arlo was not inclined to be too much of a hard-nose with some kids having fun, provided nobody was hurt, nothing was damaged, the complaints were resolved, and no harm was done.  He would have to let the Wolff kid’s parents know, of course, and confiscate any juice, but other than that, he would just break up the party, tell the other kids to go home, and be done with it.

That was, until he saw his little sister hot and heavy on the couch with her boyfriend, and juice glasses on the table beside them.


Startled, Penny looked up only to see Arlo, in uniform, staring down at her while she was lip-locked with Wilbur, and their hands on each other everywhere they’d rather not be caught with them.  “Oh, plum on a stick!”  She sprang to her feet.  “Arlo!  What’re you—”

“What am I doing here?  What are you doing here?  I’m on shift, responding to a noise complaint.  I didn’t expect to find my baby sister at it, juiced up and pawing her boyfriend on a couch.”  He glared at Wilbur.  “Oh, your mom will love this.  I don’t envy you when you get home tonight.”

“We’re not that juiced,” Penny argued.  “Just had a little nectar.  And it’s none of your business what Wilbur and I do.  I’m not a baby, and you’re not Dad or Mom, so lighten up!”

Arlo pointed at the glasses angrily.  “No, but I am a cop, and I’m on the job!  I’m also your brother, and I care about you!  Didn’t prom make it clear you can’t handle that stuff?  What were you thinking?  Getting sick once wasn’t enough?  You want to give Mom or Dad a heart attack?  They’re getting too old for this kind of stress, and I don’t want any of you in the hospital!”  Penny opened her mouth to argue, but he held up his hand in stern warning.  “Just don’t.  Stay right here and don’t even think about moving, or so help me, I’ll lock you in the squad car myself.”

“All right, listen up!” Arlo shouted.  “This party’s done, so put down every one of those glasses right now.  If you don’t live here, get on out and go home.  If you’ve had so much as a drop of that stuff, don’t even think about getting behind the wheel.  Get a ride, walk it off, or call a cab.”

He frowned as he recognized another familiar face.  “Chris Sw0rd?  Wow.  Won’t Blair be thrilled.  We’ve got the whole junior SVPD here, don’t we?  You stay put, too.  And Wilbur…”  Arlo trailed off as he realized Wilbur had taken his orders to heart, and was already out the door, along with a kid he was pretty sure was Parker’s little brother.  “Well, Justine will find out soon enough.  But you, Chris, I’ll take you home to your mom myself.”

The rest of the kids cleared out, leaving Tad, Chris, and Penny in the room.  Arlo picked up an empty nectar bottle and shook his head before setting it back down.  “None of you are sick?  Had too much?”

They shook their heads, wisely invoking their right to remain silent.

“Anyone else here?  Out back, or in the other rooms?”

Chris and Tad exchanged a look.  “My sister and her boyfriend,” Tad admitted.  “I think they’re in her room.”

Arlo sighed.  “Great.  You three, stay where you are.”  He headed down the hall.

The other two bedrooms were empty, but when he banged on and opened Maria’s door, he walked in on Maria and Patrick doing pretty much what he expected he’d find a couple of dating teenagers doing in a bedroom at a party.  “All right.  Knock it off.  Party’s over.”  He did a double-take as he recognized the boy in bed with Tad’s sister.  “Patrick?  Oh, great.  Blair’s son and her little brother at the same party.”  Although he knew Blair best from working with her, and it had been a long time since the Wainwrights lived on Maywood Lane, the families were still friends, so he knew them well enough.

“Arlo?  I, uh…” Patrick turned as red as his hair, and Maria huddled under the sheets, mortified.

Arlo turned around to give them the courtesy of a little dignity.  “Just get dressed and get out there.  I’ll take you to your family along with Chris, after I get her dad here.”

“My dad?” Maria squeaked anxiously.  “Oh, Watcher.”

“We are soooo dead!” Maria wailed.  “Mom made such a big deal about trusting us, and Dad is just, ugh!  He’s going to flip out, and the cops calling is just going to make it a million times worse!”  Her eyes filled with tears.  “What are we going to do?”

“It’ll be okay.”  Patrick tried to calm her down, even though he had a miserable feeling about what was coming their way, too.

“What if they ground us for, like, forever?  And they caught us in here, like this!  What if they go all prude and puritan-like, and say we can’t see each other again?!”  She sobbed into his shoulder.  “I don’t want to lose you!”

“Hey.”  Patrick met her eyes.  “They can’t stop us from seeing each other.  Even if we get grounded, we can still see each other at school until it blows over.  But I don’t think they’d do that, and even if they did, screw ‘em.  I love you.”

Touched by his declaration, Maria sniffled and smiled a bit, despite the situation.  “I love you, too.”

He kissed her.  “Come on, let’s get dressed.  Might as well not delay the inevitable.”

“Heh.  I’d be happy to delay it forever,” Maria said dramatically as she picked up her dress.

By the time Patrick and Maria got out to the living room, Arlo had already called Thornton Wolff, and radioed the station with a status update.  He told them to give Justine a head’s up that her son had just been busted at the party and was on his way home, and to let Blair know the same, except that he’d bring Chris to her himself.  “As for you,” he said to Patrick, “I’ll deliver you to your parents first.”

“You can just leave me at Grandma and Grandpa’s, too, and save the gas,” Chris suggested, only half-joking.

“You think they’ll be any easier on you?  Have you ever actually had Mom angry at you, or sat through one of Dad’s three-hour lectures?” Patrick sarcastically sang the phrase to the tune of Simmigan’s Island.  “I think I’d rather be left at Blair’s.”

Chris looked at Arlo.  “Maybe you could leave him with Mom and Dad, then, and take me to Grandma and Grandpa’s instead?”

They heard a car door slam in the driveway, and an angry Thornton Wolff stormed in.  “What the plum is going on?”  He glared at Tad and Maria, while Arlo explained the situation.  Thornton listened, remaining polite with him, and then faced his kids.

“You two… I don’t have words for how disappointed I am!  Your mother and I trusted you were mature enough to take care of yourselves for two nights, two short nights, and she’s not even out of town a day before you pull this?!”  He pointed at Tad.  “You promised there’d be ‘no problem’ and ‘not to worry.’  Hah!  I had my doubts, but Morgana was sure you could be trusted.  ‘They’re responsible,’ she said.  ‘They never give me any trouble,’ she said.”  He shifted his glare between the two of them.  “So I agreed, since I know you’d rather not stay at my house, and Watcher knows I didn’t want to have to stay here and sleep in my ex-wife’s bedroom.  But I guess we were wrong, because as soon as our backs were turned, you threw a party!  A party I find out about from the cops, because you were so obnoxious about it that the neighbors complained!”

Thornton got angrier as he ranted.  “Then I come here and see all this juice lying around, it’s obvious that you’re half plum-faced,” he shook his finger in Tad’s face, “and you’re caught shacked up in your room with your boyfriend over there,” he hollered at Maria.  “By the Watcher, I hope you were at least smart enough to use protection, because I wouldn’t put any idiotic decision past you right now!”  Maria started crying, and Thornton glared at Patrick, Chris, and Penny.  “You three can say good night and go with Officer Bunch,” he said icily.  “Maria and Tad won’t be available for social calls for some time.”

“I’ll see you at school,” Patrick said softly to the still crying Maria, and mouthed, “love you,” as they headed for the door.

Chris exchanged a meaningful look with Tad, who nodded back, also upset.  “Bye.”

“Bye, guys.  Sorry,” Penny said, her head low as they went out to the squad car.

Arlo got a call from Blair shortly after they pulled out of the Wolffs’ driveway.  “Looks like we’re going to the Sw0rd house first.  Patrick, Blair called your parents.  She said they’ll pick you up at her place, so I’ll drop you both off there.  Then I’ll take you home,” he said to Penny, who just sighed with resigned dread.

“Great.”  Patrick texted Maria to tell her he hoped she was okay and to let him know how she was doing, but according to the log, she hadn’t seen it.  Chris didn’t get any response from Tad, either, so it was an easy guess that their father was still reading them the riot act.

When they got to Blair and Cycl0n3’s house, they were received with stern disappointment.  “As you can see, they’re all right.  Just, you know,” Arlo said.

“Thanks for bringing them home.  I’m sorry my son and little brother were a part of this trouble.”  Blair shot them both a critical look.  “We’ll make sure it’s dealt with.”

“No problem.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”  Arlo turned to Chris and Patrick.  “You two, stay out of trouble from here on out, all right?  Make this a one-time thing.”  He returned to the squad car and took Penny home.

“I hope you’re real proud of yourselves,” Blair lectured.  “I can honestly say I never expected to have one of my co-workers haul my son and little brother to my house in a squad car!  Drinking juice underage at a party so wild the cops got called?  What were you two thinking?”

“I suspect thinking wasn’t involved at all,” remarked Cycl0n3.

“You’ve always been responsible kids.  I expected better from both of you.”  She looked at Chris.  “Your father and I have always been clear that we expect you to follow the rules, and it should go without saying, laws.”  She turned to Patrick, “And you, you’re older and should be even more responsible and mature.  Not encouraging this behavior.”

“Encouraging?  Oh, please.  Don’t pin that on me!” Patrick argued.  “I was there because Maria invited me.  He was already there, so back off!  I’m already going to hear enough from Mom and Dad.  I don’t want to hear it from you, too!”

“Well, the cops left you at my house, so I’ll say what I think needs to be said!  But you’re right about one thing.  Mom and Dad will have plenty to say about it, considering what they said when I told them to come pick you up, and why.”  She turned to Chris, who was silent and sullen.  “And don’t you mistake what I just said to Patrick.  Whatever he does is absolutely no excuse for you be drinking, breaking laws, getting in trouble, and lying to us!”

“I didn’t lie.  I said I was going to Tad’s.  I was at Tad’s.  No lie involved.”

“Trying to weasel out on a technicality isn’t how you want to play this,” Cycl0n3 warned.  “Neither of us are stupid.  You knew full well you were going to a party, that there’d be juice and wild teenage idiocy, and you were perfectly content to let us believe otherwise.”

Boyd and Susan arrived, putting Blair and Cycl0n3’s lecture on hold.  Susan was too angry to even look at Patrick, while Boyd threw up his hands, furious.  “Not a word.  Just get in the car.  Now.”

Resigned, Patrick looked away from all of them—his parents, Blair, Cycl0n3, even Chris—and did as he was told.

Blair was contrite through her exasperation at the teenagers.  “Sorry about this.”

“Oh, you don’t need to be sorry at all.  I’m sorry his poor judgment brought your work to your doorstep.”  Susan looked at Chris.  “I’m disappointed in you, too.  I hope you gave your parents the apology they deserve.”

Boyd nodded with her, and turned to Blair and Cycl0n3.  “We’ll see to it Patrick learns his lesson.  When you see Arlo, tell him thanks for handling it the way he did.  We appreciate it.”

“No problem, Dad.  Good night.”

After they left, Blair and Cycl0n3 picked up where they left off.  “I want you to explain yourself,” Blair demanded of Chris.  “What made you think this was at all acceptable?  Going to an unsupervised party?  Drinking juice?  Getting brought home by the police?”

“Well, nobody planned for the cops to show up.”

“Not the time to mouth off,” Cycl0n3 informed him, unamused.

“Like it ever stops you.”

Blair took a step forward, angrier.  “Don’t backtalk your father, or take that tone, young man!  This isn’t about him.  This is about you!  This was dumb, Chris.  It was a really dumb thing to do, and it makes me angry, because you’re not dumb.  You were just acting dumb, and that’s, well… dumb!”  Her voice took on a teary note as she yelled.  “So, why?  Why’d you do it?”

“Because I wanted to, all right?  Because Tad was having the party and I wanted to be there!”

“Even though his mom was out of town, and they were all drinking, which you know you should’ve had no part in?  You’re lucky Arlo was nice enough not to bust you for that and put it on your record.  Never mind that you kids could’ve gotten someone seriously ill or hurt.”

“I didn’t even drink that much.  I swear!” Chris protested.

“How much did you drink?” Cycl0n3 asked.

“Only a little nectar and one thing from the bar.”  What his parents considered a little was different than his own definition of it, that being nowhere near as much as the harder partiers had.  But while he’d shaved one or two drinks off the actual total, Chris had stopped once he started really feeling the effects of it.  He thought that should’ve earned him at least a little credit.

It didn’t with Blair.  “You still shouldn’t be doing it at all, and I’d like to know where you got it from.  You better not have bought it or tried buying it!”

“No!  It wasn’t me.”  He didn’t want to rat out Patrick, or see Tad in even more trouble.  “Someone brought it, I guess.  I don’t know.  Maybe some was in their bar and someone just got it out.”

Cycl0n3 frowned.  “Right.  Someone just cast ‘summon juice’ and it magically appeared, I’m sure.”

“Regardless, you’re grounded.  I don’t think you need to hang out with any of your friends for a while.  Not until you understand that rules and laws are serious, and you don’t get to just wave them off because you don’t think they’re a big deal.”

“Come on!  I never said that.”

“But your actions made it clear that’s what you think.  Otherwise, you never would’ve gone, or at least not stayed once you realized what kind of party it was.  But you did.  And not only did you stay, you joined in, and the police brought you home!”

Chris sighed.  “I’m sorry, Mom.  I didn’t want… okay, I know I shouldn’t have drank the nectar and stuff.  But it’s not like I was going to drive or anything, and we even said when it started we’d take anyone’s keys who tried.  We know how sick Penny got at prom.  We kept an eye on her.  Honest!  I even stopped when I started feeling weird from it.”

“So, you showed a modicum of common sense.  Bravo.”  Cycl0n3 slow clapped.  “But here’s the thing.  You still screwed up.  Big time.  And the more you go on about how it’s not a big deal or that bad, the more we think you don’t get just what a big deal it is, and you do need to realize that.”

“So yes, you’re grounded,” Blair reiterated.  “For at least two weeks.  Maybe longer.  You don’t go anywhere but to school, your activities related to school, and work, unless we give explicit permission otherwise.  No friends over, either.  Not until we’re sure you can be trusted to be the responsible person we know you can be.”

“And no computer or video games for the first week,” Cycl0n3 added.

“Great.  I’m sure I’ll have a very exciting time to think about what I’ve done,” Chris muttered with not-terribly-subtle sarcasm.

“Keep that up, and we’ll confiscate your phone, too.”

“But no calling your friends,” Blair told him.  “You’re only to make calls for simple communication and emergencies only.  We’ll trust you to stay in the spirit of our rules, and not abuse them, until your grounding is over.  If you prove you can handle that, you’ll get your privileges back.”


“One more thing,” Blair said.  “During the extra time you’ll have, I expect you to write some formal apology letters.  One each to Mr. and Mrs. Wolff for disrespecting their home and rules, one to Mr. Koffi for your part in the party he complained to the police about, and another to Arlo for participating in a situation where he was forced to take you home on the job.”


“Yes.”  Blair’s tone was firm, and Chris knew better than to argue further.

“Okay.  Can I go to my room now?”

“Yeah.  I think we’re done here,” said Cycl0n3.

Chris picked up Diddy off the couch and carried him to his room.  “At least I’ve still got you to keep me company.”  He scratched him behind the ears.  Diddy purred and snuggled up to him, and Chris held him while staring forlornly out the window.

His phone beeped with a text from Tad.

I’m alive but Dad grounded us until Mom gets home. X_X He called her in Bridgeport and woke her up. Don’t even want to know what she’ll do when she gets back. Not supposed to text except to politely answer so that’s this. See you at school. There was a broken-hearted poop emoji after it for effect.

Chris texted back.  I’m grounded too. :(  See you in homeroom.

He put his phone on his nightstand and flopped on the bed.  Diddy climbed up beside him and he petted him.  “Guess I’d better start on the apology letters and get back on Mom and Dad’s good side, huh?”

Patrick’s punishment was only delayed until he and his parents got home.  Barely a word was spoken in the car.  Susan fumed in silence while Boyd drove, keeping his focus on the road lest he become distracted if he got started.  Patrick slumped quietly in the back seat.

Once they were inside, Boyd lit into him.  “All right.  Before we get started, let’s make sure I’ve got all the facts straight.  We just picked you up at your sister’s house because,” he held up a finger, “you went to a party you never mentioned was happening at your girlfriend’s house.”  A second finger shot up.  “While her mother was out of town,” followed by a third, “where you were all drinking,” the fourth joined in, “underage.”  His thumb went up, with scalding sarcasm Patrick might have expected more from Cycl0n3 than his usually mild-mannered father.  “And the party got so rowdy, neighbors called the cops.”  Boyd raised the index finger on his other hand, “Who found you in the middle of all this in bed with your girlfriend, literally, with your pants down,” a seventh finger joined the tally, “with the end result of the cops hauling you and Chris home to Blair.”  He glared at him.  “Any pertinent points I missed?”

Buddy sauntered in.  “Well, at least they don’t seem to know you brought the nectar!”

“That, uh, about covers it, I guess,” Patrick mumbled.

“And that’s all you have to say for yourself?”  Susan was completely fed up, and only as calm as she was because she forced herself to remain so.  It was the first thing she’d said since leaving Blair’s.

“What the plum is the matter with you?” ranted Boyd.  “Was that apologetic attitude after prom and you insisting you didn’t know the punch was spiked just a llama load?  You said then you knew what’d happen if you did something like that, but here we are!  Got an explanation?”

“I was just, you know, having fun.”

“That much was obvious,” Susan said sarcastically.  “Did you really think you’d get away with a stunt like that?  Partying it up at an unsupervised underage juice fest, and just coming on home after with no one the wiser?  I hope you weren’t drinking and planning to drive home!”

“No, Mom, I—”

“Speaking of which,” Boyd cut him off, and held out his hand.  “Keys.  Now.  You won’t be needing them for a while.”

Patrick frowned.

“Now, Patrick.”  Susan made it clear he’d better not argue.

He fished them out of his pocket and handed them over.  “Car’s still at Maria’s anyway.”

“Yeah, we figured, considering the cops brought you home.”  Boyd curled his fingers around the keys.  “You ought to count your lucky stars it was Arlo Bunch who busted you, and not some hard-nosed llama wanting to make an example of you kids.  You could’ve gotten a record, and that’s among the least of what could’ve went wrong!  Like winding up in the hospital like Penny after prom, or someone stupidly driving juiced and killing someone!  Or someone getting hurt because they were juiced and stupid, including, potentially, you!  Or Chris, or your girlfriend!  Did you even think about that?”

“We’re fine!  And besides, if someone even tried to hurt Maria, I’d—”

“You’d what?” challenged Susan.  “Is that some tough guy juice muscles talking?  Would you get in another fight?  Because that worked out so well for you last time.  Is that another thing we were wrong to think you learned your lesson about?”

“I’m just saying I’ve got her back!  But I didn’t get into any fights, so you can’t yell at me for something I didn’t even do!”

“I can’t what?”  Susan’s glare could have cut through steel.  “Fighting or not, I can yell plenty about all the things you did wrong tonight, not to mention your attitude!”

“Yeah, we noticed,” Buddy quipped from the sidelines.

“Okay.  I went to the party and drank a little.  I broke the rules and I shouldn’t have.  I’ll own that.”

“The rules, underage drinking laws…”

Patrick wanted to say that a veritable Jack Sparrow of the internet like his father lecturing him about breaking laws was rich, but he knew that would just get him in even more trouble.  “Yeah, well, as I’m sure you’ll remind me, I’m not the angel Blair was.  Sorry.”

“We don’t expect you to be Blair.  We expect you to be the intelligent, well-behaved boy we raised!” Susan said, exasperated.

“Who’s that?” snarked Buddy.  “I don’t see him.”

Upset and frustrated, Patrick ignored Buddy and faced his parents.  “I’m sorry, all right?  I don’t know what else you want me to say!”

“That you won’t pull an idiotic stunt like this again would be a nice start,” Susan retorted.  “That you’re not just sorry you were caught, but sorry you acted like a fool, made horrific choices in judgment, and embarrassed yourself and us in the process.”

“Would you even believe me if I did?  Because it sure as plum doesn’t seem like it!”

“Dial back the attitude,” Boyd warned.

“Why should I?  You’re grounding me anyway, right?”

Boyd had enough.  “If you want us to drop the parental banhammer, fine!  Three weeks is a good start.  Want to run your mouth again, and go for a month?”

“Shape up, Patrick,” added Susan.  “There’s no excuse for any of this!  I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you better get it out, and fast.  Now go upstairs and cool off, preferably with a shower.  Between the party and the back of a squad car, I’m sure you need it.”

“Fine.  Good night.”

“And stay off your phone and social media, too.  I don’t want to see you active, and believe me, we’ll find out if you are,” said Susan.

“Of course they will.  They have no lives,” Buddy sneered.

That time Patrick agreed with his invisible friend completely.  “Yes ma’am,” he said, decidedly snippy, and went upstairs.

“I can’t believe this garbage,” Patrick groused once he and Buddy were in his room.  “Tonight started so awesome, but this just sucks!”

“Parents suck the joy out of everything!  I’m glad I don’t have any.”

“It’s like they’ve gotten so old they forgot what it’s like to be normal.  They go on about me breaking the law having a little juice, but it’s fine when they do shady stuff online.  Like they got so good at hacking following laws, right?  At least when Blair did it, she wasn’t being a hypocrite.  She’s always been Miss Goody-Goody Sim Scout.”  He pulled some clean clothes out of a drawer.  “I half expected them to go on about Arlo walking in on me and Maria, but I guess even they couldn’t pull that off with straight faces considering how they got Blair.”

“Really!  Weren’t you an accident, too?”

“Yeah.  Though they say I was a ‘surprise.’”

His phone beeped with a text from Maria.

Dad grounded me and Tad.  :'( Can’t text except to answer politely so I can’t after this. Sorry!!! ❤ Miss you love you.

“That figures.  She’s grounded, too.”  Patrick sent back a frowny face and told her he loved her, then put his phone away since it was pointless to say more.  He didn’t want to get her in more trouble using the technicality of responding more just so she could answer with the pretext of not being rude.  Especially since her father seemed like the type who’d check her phone.

“At least you got to have some fun before the old fuddy-duddies ruined it all,” Buddy commiserated.

“Yeah.”  While Patrick regretted that they hadn’t been just a little less wild—enough that no one would’ve called the cops—some aspects of the party he did not regret in the least.

Buddy noticed the look on Patrick’s face as he pondered that.  “So, how much fun?”

Despite everything, he couldn’t help but smile.  “Enough to make it worth it.”

Online oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #228 on: March 28, 2018, 09:16:48 PM »
Such a teenage thing to do, throwing a party while the 'rents are out of town.
Except not with any kids whose parents are popos...
The reactions of Blair and Cycl0n3 were so believable, even though Cycl0n3's such a hipster.
Also very believable was the fact that the boys, not for a minute, realized how much their parents' anger was triggered by fear for Chris and Patrick's well-being.

Loved Patrick's remorseless smile at the end. :D

Offline mpart

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #229 on: April 01, 2018, 11:16:50 PM »
Hello, I've been reading silently for a bit. Oh my goodness I can't believe those two went to a party! I love how small town it all feels. The fact that Arlo found his little sister at the party and happened to bump into his coworker's son at the party. It really just ties together well and is very funny!  ;D

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 59
« Reply #230 on: April 05, 2018, 11:21:36 PM »
Such a teenage thing to do, throwing a party while the 'rents are out of town.
Except not with any kids whose parents are popos...
The reactions of Blair and Cycl0n3 were so believable, even though Cycl0n3's such a hipster.
Also very believable was the fact that the boys, not for a minute, realized how much their parents' anger was triggered by fear for Chris and Patrick's well-being.

Loved Patrick's remorseless smile at the end. :D

Thank you! Yes, Cycl0n3, for all of his quirks, did mature a little bit over time. He's flaky, and he's got a big mouth, but he is a good parent and definitely doesn't want to see his son making foolish decisions.

As for the teens, they will probably need a few years of maturity to not feel like their parents are being harsh and unfair making such a big deal over it. ;)

Hello, I've been reading silently for a bit. Oh my goodness I can't believe those two went to a party! I love how small town it all feels. The fact that Arlo found his little sister at the party and happened to bump into his coworker's son at the party. It really just ties together well and is very funny!  ;D

Thank you for the nice compliments! I'm glad you've been enjoying the story. I've been having fun with all the townies working their way into things.

Chapter 59

The harsh reality of being grounded set in during the following days.  Patrick was used to having his car and going out whenever and with whoever he wanted, as long as he was home by curfew.  While it was not first time he’d been in trouble, he’d never had his freedom curtailed so severely before, nor for so long.  Boyd and Susan were not strict parents, and usually the worst of their punishments involved a lengthy lecture, perhaps with some short-term punishment.  Not this time, however.  They made it stick, and although they could usually be swayed into lenience with good behavior, it was clear that Patrick would have to work hard to earn it.

He stayed polite and refrained from showing any attitude or overt frustration.  It was not always easy, especially if Buddy was around, but he managed.  Patrick also did his chores without complaining, and he went the extra mile by doing little things around the house.  Since he was home anyway, he helped Orion with his homework when he needed it and watched Iris while his parents were busy.

It worked, slowly but surely.  After a few days, Susan and Boyd allowed him on social media and his smart phone again.  He still couldn’t go out, but at least he could keep up with his friends.

Maria was still in trouble, too.  Her punishment had been harsher than his.  Thornton grounded her and Tad, and he cut them off from phone calls and texting.  Patrick found out from Maria at school that he made them clean their house from top to bottom.  They also had to do extra chores to work off the bill to have the carpets and couches professionally cleaned to get rid of the party stains, along with the cost of replacing the juice they’d taken from Morgana’s bar.

Things didn’t get better once Morgana came home.  She let Maria and Tad know on no uncertain terms how disappointed she was in them and continued their grounding.  In addition, she gave them a lengthy lecture about their irresponsibility, and told them that any chance of getting cars soon was out of the question.  Also, because of how Maria had been caught with Patrick, Morgana sat her down for an embarrassing talk about protection and asked if they’d been safe, and if she needed any tests done.  Although Morgana was only concerned for her daughter’s well-being as far as that went, for Maria it had been utterly mortifying, especially with all of her mother’s “I’m just saying, not only as your mom, but as a doctor…” remarks.

After a few days, Morgana relented enough to let her kids text again.  Maria and Patrick took full advantage of that, and one sunny afternoon when they were both stuck at home, Patrick went up to the roof deck and looked in the direction of Maria’s house.  There were too many obstacles in the way to see it from there, but it still felt like a sort of connection.

He texted her.  I’m looking at you as close as I can get.  View is nice but wish you were in it.  Tried the telescope but the trees block it.  What are you up to?

Stalker!  ;)  On the porch now, looking your way.  Can’t see you or your house either.  Miss you.  It’s so boring here!  Wish we could go out.

Me too  :(

One break Patrick got from the monotony of grounding and school was a field trip to the theater.  Although he could’ve done without having Julius Langerak in his tour group and the Wolff in it wasn’t his girlfriend, at least he liked Tad, and knew Jamaal from music club.

“That’s cool that Stiles McGraw himself is giving us the tour,” remarked Jamaal.  “He’s practically a local legend.”

“My aunt plays with him,” said Julius.  “He’s not like you’d expect a rock star to be.  Quiet and kind of down to earth.”

“Not like your Aunt Zelda.  I hear she’s a partier and a half,” laughed Tad.

Julius flashed a proud grin.  “Yeah, well, we’re cool like that in my family.  We know how to party.  My brother’s pretty wild, too.”

Patrick couldn’t help but scoff at that.  “You mean the one who’s a cop?  The one you ran out of the party to avoid being ratted out to?”

“Shut it, Wainwright.  Before I shut it for you.”

Tad changed the subject so there wouldn’t be another brawl in front of the theater.  “Believe it or not, my mom actually went out with Stiles McGraw the other night.  They met online on Plenty of Sims.  Most people meet creeps and weirdos on those apps, and then my mom finds a rock star.  She said he was pretty nice and they might go out again.  I hope they do.  If she finds true love and romance, she might lighten up and let me off the hook for that party sometime this century.”

“Hah.  Good luck with that one,” said Jamaal.  “You’ll need it.”

The theater trip ended up being a lot of fun.  Not only was the tour interesting, especially to someone as into the arts as Patrick, but there was something exciting about being on a stage that had hosted so many world class performances.  Stiles was professional but friendly to the students, and introduced them to one of his bandmates, Pauline Wan.  Pauline showed them around for part of the tour as well, and asked if any of them knew how to play.  Patrick said that he and Jamaal were in music club, so she had them play a tune with them.

It was nerve wracking to jam with the pros, but also exciting.  Stiles and Pauline complimented them both and said that they’d seen a lot of young talent that day.  Patrick was both flattered and thrilled.

The students were given souvenirs at the end of their trip, and Patrick hung his new studio-style mirror in his room with pride.

Patrick also passed the time during his punishment on creative projects.  Before he’d been grounded, his parents had given him some new high-tech items: a digital easel and a laser music machine.  Although he still liked working with actual paint, the digital easel was more advanced than any computer painting program he’d ever tried, and it expanded his skills in other ways.  It was also convenient if he wanted to just try something quick without wasting paint or canvas, which he couldn’t just drive out and get more of now.

The laser rhythm-a-con was an odd instrument.  Patrick had no idea where his parents got it, and when he asked they just said it was some cutting-edge music tech given to them by their “unconventional source” friend.  Regardless, he thought it was cool.  His natural aptitude for the arts helped him learn the basics of it, but he had a long way to go before he would be anywhere near as good at it as he was with his guitar.

Still, even Buddy was impressed by it, and he had a snide comment for everything, so Patrick took that as a sign to keep working at it.

“Now that would rock at a party, I bet!”

“Maybe once I get better at it, and I can actually go to a party again.  But I’m not bringing that up before I get my car back.  Still working on that.”

“I can’t believe the old farts still haven’t lightened up.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.”  Patrick played a loud riff that made one of the orange strands flash red.  “I’m just glad they never found out about the nectar.  You were right.  They never noticed, and no one tattled on me.  Not that I think Maria or Chris or even Tad would.  But Julius was there, so I wondered if he’d spread it around just to stick it to me.”

“If he did, he’d just rat himself out for being there.  Didn’t you say he bailed like a weenie as soon as Arlo showed up?”

“Yeah, him and Penny’s boyfriend.  Not that it saved Wilbur.  Penny said when I talked to her at lunch that his parents grounded him as bad as the rest of us.  Guess Mrs. Keaton didn’t like her son setting a bad example in front of her co-workers any more than Blair did.”

Orion loved the holo sprite his parents gave him and played with it a lot.  He learned the interactions for it quickly, and discovered it had a leveling and experience mechanism that could unlock other sprite forms.  He just had to keep interacting and playing with it.  He liked showing it to Iris and amusing her with it, too.  Sometimes she played like Patches was talking back to it.  “I hope Patches is nicer than Buddy if she talks to you someday, too,” Orion told her.

Iris hugged Patches.  “Patches nice.  She fun!”

The Wainwrights’ kids weren’t the only ones trying out the future tech goodies from Oasis Landing.  On the days they weren’t at the lab, they tinkered with it themselves.  Boyd came in from the greenhouse with a few charged crystal flowers.  “I set up Iris in the playpen with the baby monitor.  I bet someday she’ll be able to charge these things so much faster than we can.  You ready to head down to the basement?”

“Mmm-hmm.”  Susan closed the file on her tablet.

“Reading anything interesting?”

“I’m not sure what to make of it, honestly.  I was reading one of the files from Oasis Landing.  One of Maria Wolff’s novels.”

“Reading something she hasn’t written yet.  I wonder if you’d actually see the text change if you interacted with her in some way that changed it, or if it’d just be different.  Would you remember both versions?  So, anyway, how is it?”  They entered their hidden lab together.

“It reads like a dramatic romance novel.  The protagonist is this girl, Sofia, who’s an aspiring starlet.  She’s a real drama queen, but likeable enough I guess.  Sweet, but a little high on herself.  The story so far seems to be about how Sofia made a name for herself, with a heavy side arc chronicling her on-again, off-again relationship with her angsty artist lover.”

“Oh, no.”  Boyd was not sure whether to laugh or be weirded out.

“Oh, yes.”  Susan echoed his sentiment.  “Get this.  His name is Redd Wright.  He plays guitar and paints and sculpts.  He’s even got an ‘invisible, ill-tempered muse’ that he speaks to sometimes as if he was real.”

“That’s kind of… eerie.  Though Patrick never mentioned any interest in sculpting.  Wonder if that’s artistic license or something he picks up someday.”

“I don’t know.  There is something about the character that bothers me, though.”

“Other than imagining she’s writing about our son in the future?”

“Yes.  This Redd, he has a temper.  A rather explosive one.  It’s described something like ‘an inner flame that burned red-hot, fiery as the hair on his head, that could flare in a second.’  Redd and Sofia argue quite a bit.  At one point he loses it and tears his studio apart, smashing everything in sight, including a half-made clay sculpture he was making for her.”

Something about it nagged at Boyd the same way it did Susan, though he tried to brush it off.  “That’s got to be embellished.  I mean, he’s an artist and they can be a little more sensitive or emotional about things, but… well, Patrick’s had his angry teenager moments, but I’ve never seen him like that.”

“No.”  Susan tried not to think about his fist fight with Julius Langerak, or the way he’d lashed back while they were grounding him.  “It’s probably just creative license for dramatic tension.  ‘Inspired by’ doesn’t mean reality.”

She pulled some nanites out for analysis.  “Anyway, let’s try to figure out how these guys tick, and if we can replicate them.”

Boyd loaded up the screen on the bot building apparatus.  “Pulling up the designs now.”

Soon the Wainwrights were lost in their work.  They worked out the schematics of several nanites, including a few wild ones Boyd had caught in Oasis Landing on his first trip, when Emit sent him out into the wasteland.  Later, they worked on the trait chip designs, since they were less complex than the bots themselves.  They compared existing schematics to the ones in the manuals from Oasis Landing, and also updated their machine with additional designs from those manuals.

Susan was enthused.  “This is so exciting!  I think we’re really going to do this!  Make a plumbot in the here and now.”

“We’re well on our way.  I’d like to make a few more trait chips first, just so we’ve got plenty to work with in case there are bugs.  We’re also going to have to get more material for the body first… but I think I can cobble something together on the workbench in the garage.”

“I bet we could do this easily enough.”  She showed him an entry in the manual.  “What do you think?”

“Absolutely!  I’ve got an idea.  Give me about,” he checked the time, “an hour or two?  I’m sure I can find what we need for this,” he pointed to a section of the design, “over at the salvage yard.”

Susan wrinkled her nose.  “Better you digging around in dirty old junk outside than me.  Have at it.  I’ll hit the chemistry table and make a test batch of the cooling fluid we’ll need.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

While Boyd left to find scrap metal, Susan tackled her project.  She had never made the exact formula called for in the bot building manual before, but they had all of the ingredients on hand.  It took some time to finish, but she mixed it with no problem.

“One step closer!”  She hoped Boyd’s half of the project was going equally well.

Over at the local junk yard, he found some useful scrap pieces, although it took hunting and digging through several different piles.  He brought them home and spread them out on the work bench.  “Okay, a little reshaping here, a little welding there… should be good to go.”

Unfortunately, he ran into an explosive setback.  The flame hit some combustible material that was, unbeknownst to him, still inside a crevice in the old scrap, and it went up like fireworks.  Boyd panicked as his shirt caught fire, and he ran to the safety shower that he profusely thanked the Watcher that he’d installed for just such a catastrophe.  Luckily, he didn’t get burned, but after that, he was ready to call it a day.

Susan caught up with Boyd in their room after he cleaned himself up.  He told her what happened, and she hugged him.  “Oh, Boyd.  You’ve got to be more careful.  There’s all sorts of nasty oil and who knows what else in that stuff.  Didn’t you clean it first?”

“I wiped it down.  Guess I should’ve been a little more thorough.  I will next time, though I think I’ve got what I need for now.  Just don’t feel like messing with it more today.”

“I don’t blame you.  We can take a break.  The kids will be home from school soon, anyway.  Let’s take Iris outside and relax by the pool.”

Across town, and much like Patrick, Chris was on his best behavior to try and mitigate the severity of his grounding.  He’d written the apology letters he’d been ordered to, and babysat Travis while he was stuck at home.  Blair noticed him buckling down and helping out, and she and Cycl0n3 were glad to see him making an effort to be responsible again.  Although they knew he also wanted to get himself out of trouble, they hoped that having to work so hard to do it would drive the lesson home and make him think twice about doing such a thing again.

Poor Diddy got a serious case of fleas while Chris was grounded, and he had to ask to go to the pet shop for medicine.  Cycl0n3 took him, and afterward, Chris had the fun task of giving his cat a flea bath.  The fleas bothered Diddy so much that he didn’t even protest when he put him in the tub and scrubbed him.

“I know it’s no fun, but this’ll get rid of those stupid fleas.”  Chris worked the medicated bubbles throughout his fur.  “You’ve got to stay away from the wild animals outside.  And maybe the Andrews’ cat.  Did your girlfriend give those to you?”  He’d seen Diddy romping around with a cat with Siamese markings that belonged to the Andrews family.  He hoped she was fixed, because Diddy was not yet.  He was still saving to pay for that vet bill, and after being grounded, he was not about to ask his parents to front it to get it done sooner.

“There we go.  All done!”  He lifted him out of the tub and snuggled him.  “Now we’ve just got to give you that pill to keep them from coming back.  You won’t fuss too much for that, will you?”

Diddy meowed.

“Come on now.  It’s for your own good.”  He tried to slip it into his mouth, but Diddy did not cooperate.  Suddenly Chris had a squirming mass of claws and teeth in his arms.

“Whoa!  Whoa!  Okay.”  He set him down and rubbed his arm where Diddy’s protesting had drawn blood.  “Hmm, what if I put it in a bit of food?”

The cat just looked up at him.

“Yeah, you’re a little piggy.  I bet you’d take it then.”  Chris scooped Diddy up under one arm and with the pill in hand, carried him to the kitchen.  He set him down and wrapped up the pill in some lunch meat.  “Here you go.  Super special anti-flea snack.  You know you want it.”

Diddy sniffed the treat, almost suspicious, but the tempting aroma of the ham won out.  He chomped it down and ate it, pill and all.  “Glad you can’t say no to treats.  I’ll remember that for next time.”

After he took care of Diddy, he had to work at the spa.  It was a run-of-the-mill shift until Tad came in.  “Wow, hey!”  He brightened, glad to see him, then made a teasing face, mocking their parents.  “But what are you doing here, young man?  You are still grounded, aren’t you?”

“Unfortunately.  But I managed to work a side trip here, in my quest to earn brownie points and change that, and to get out of the house.  It’s so boring and Maria is lousy company.  She’s whining so much, I can’t stand it.  Like, yes, I get it!  Being grounded sucks.  Kind of living it myself.  Can you quit making it all about you already?  I’m miserable enough.”  Tad rolled his eyes.  “You’d think she was the one who had to sit through the hour long medical dissertation on juice poisoning and what it can do to someone, how lucky I was to not get sick and that nobody at my party got sick, blah blah blah.  Mom only gave her the digest version, since she kept going on about how the party was all my idea, and Dad told Mom I was much more juiced.”  He frowned.  “Or maybe it was because she already heard it once after prom, but whatever!  She deserved to sit through it again if I had to!  But enough ranting.  I can only get away with stopping to buy Mom’s salon only brand of shampoo for so long.”

“Oh, so that’s how you swung it.”

“She complained she was out of it and the spa would be closed when her shift ended, so I said I could pick it up after debate club on my way home.”

Chris raised an eyebrow.  “She has no idea I work here, does she?”

“None at all.  She’s almost always working during after school hours.”  Tad leaned in.  “So, uh, any chance you have a break coming up where we could kill a few minutes hanging out?”

“No.  I wish.”  Chris was disappointed until he was struck with inspiration.  “Actually, I do have to empty the trash into the dumpster before the end of shift.  I guess now’s as good a time as any.  I mean, if someone struck up a conversation with me outside, especially a customer, I’d have to do my part to be polite.”

Tad put the shampoo on the counter.  “Luckily, I happen to be a paying customer.”

Chris rang him up and handed him the bagged shampoo and his change.  “Thank you for your patronage.  Please come again.”

“Count on it.”  He headed out, while Chris quickly changed the trash bags on the first floor.  The upstairs clerk covered the register while he took it out.

“So, what’s a nice guy like you doing in a trashy place like this, huh?” Tad quipped as Chris came around the corner and tossed the garbage bags in the dumpster.

“Working, of course.  Being grounded, I certainly can’t be socializing!”

“Oh, no.  Perish the thought!”

Chris gave him a playful look.  “So, can I help you with something?”

Tad cleared his throat and assumed a serious demeanor.  “Absolutely.  You know, I purchased a softening lip balm here, and I’m just not one hundred percent confident that it’s working as advertised.”

Chris was amused.  “Lip balm, huh?”

“Infused with coconut oil and vitamin E.  The good stuff!  I was promised results, you know,” he said coyly.

“Well, I, uh, better evaluate that for you, then.”  Chris drew Tad close and kissed him.  Although they’d seen each other at school, it was the first real private moment they’d had since the ill-fated party and their resultant groundings.  “Good news,” Chris said afterward with a grin.  “Seems to be working just fine, in this trained spa professional’s opinion.”

“Glad I checked, then.”  Tad mirrored his smile, then sighed.  “I should probably go.  I’ve pushed it as far as I can, without having to make up some story about a line or wait, or getting your boss ticked at you.”

“Probably.  Sorry.”

“Don’t be.  Just do what you can to get out of trouble, so we don’t have to keep stooping to dumpster dates.  I want something much classier for prom.”

“Prom?”  Chris’ heart skipped a beat.  It was the first time anything that serious had been brought up.

“We are going, right?  I mean, you do take your boyfriend to that.  I guess I didn’t formally ask, but I kind of figured—”

Chris beamed.  That was also the first time Tad had said flat out said they were more than some nebulous thing, and while he knew he felt that way, he’d felt shy about bringing it up in case it would screw things up.  “Yeah!  Sure!  Of course!”

“Good!  Then let’s get un-grounded, so we can have a good time without worrying about all of this!”  Tad squeezed his hand, then shuffled back.  “Now get back to work, slacker!  And no more lip balm testing.”

“Not on today’s schedule.  Second floor trash and first floor register duty await.”  He was still smiling as he went back inside.  Although going to prom meant cluing everyone in to his personal life, now that he knew Tad was serious about him, it no longer seemed quite so scary.

Online oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #231 on: April 06, 2018, 12:54:03 AM »
Chris and Tad are so cute together.
I had somehow forgotten that these two weren't officially an item yet, since Patrick had spotted them making out in front of the theater weeks ago.
I'm glad for Chris that Tad wants to go public with the news that Chris is his boyfriend. Yay!

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Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #232 on: April 07, 2018, 04:12:14 AM »
All caught up. Yay for Tapatalk lol

I'm with @oshizu about Buddy. I'm hoping he never gets made real... I shudder to think what he'd be able to talk Pat into.

If I was Boyd or Susan, I think I'd be worried about the temper shown in that book. Wasn't it Pat's descendent that screwed up the future the first time? Maybe Pat's temper has something to do with that...

I love how the teens are finding ways to get out of trouble, and also to have contact with their significant others too.

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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 60
« Reply #233 on: April 12, 2018, 11:14:13 PM »
Chris and Tad are so cute together.
I had somehow forgotten that these two weren't officially an item yet, since Patrick had spotted them making out in front of the theater weeks ago.
I'm glad for Chris that Tad wants to go public with the news that Chris is his boyfriend. Yay!

This scene was my way of showing the in-game transition of them as romantic interests to steady. I'm happy for them, too!

All caught up. Yay for Tapatalk lol

I'm with @oshizu about Buddy. I'm hoping he never gets made real... I shudder to think what he'd be able to talk Pat into.

If I was Boyd or Susan, I think I'd be worried about the temper shown in that book. Wasn't it Pat's descendent that screwed up the future the first time? Maybe Pat's temper has something to do with that...

I love how the teens are finding ways to get out of trouble, and also to have contact with their significant others too.

If Buddy turned real, I'm not sure how long he'd last in the house before Susan put her foot down and threw him out, regardless of Patrick's feelings on the matter! I can't see her snob trait tolerating his rudeness for long. ;D

You're right, Boyd and Susan should pay a bit closer attention. They love Patrick, but ever since Orion and Iris entered the picture, and they took over the lab, they fell into a similar pattern with him that they did with Blair growing up where they autopilot parented a bit too much because they were focused on the younger kids and their projects. They care, but have no clue that they don't know him as well as they think they do.

Chapter 60

While Chris mixed after-school work with time with Tad, Blair worked undercover with Hank.  Their investigation of the Golden Llama kept turning up connections to a local bar, and they decided to try and dig up some leads.  Hank put on an old t-shirt and jeans and went in around happy hour.  He got a drink, then kept to himself playing darts while keeping his eyes and ears open.  Blair, who felt out of place somewhere like that, took a different approach.

She arrived long enough after Hank that no one would suspect they were connected.  That was good, because Blair needed extra time to get ready.  She didn’t want to be easily recognized, and she wanted to look like someone who might frequent a seedy establishment like that.  It didn’t come naturally to her, but she made her best attempt.  She styled her hair into an updo different than her usual simple one, and picked out her clothes with the loose barometer of “would Tam have worn this back in her partying days?”  To complete the look, Blair wore a pair of high heeled sandals she bought once on a whim, but rarely wore, and a little too much jewelry and makeup that she hid under a pair of new sunglasses she hadn’t worn anywhere except driving yet.

She giggled.  “All right!  Undercover barfly!  This’ll be fun!”

Blair strode into the bar confidently, swaying her hips perhaps a tad too much as she got into character.  Hank glanced over as she came in, took a sip of his drink, and resumed playing darts.  It was certainly not how he was used to seeing Blair, and he had the thought that Cycl0n3 might get in his first bar fight if he saw how the skeevy guy by the door eyed his wife’s rear end as she sauntered up to the bar in those sparkly aqua shorts.  She never wore those in the police station workout room.

After handing her drink to the patron next to her, the bartender turned to Blair.  “Can I get you something?”

“Yes.  I’d like a Sweet Hijinks.”  She named one of Tamara’s favorite drinks in a slightly higher-pitched-than-normal voice.

The bartender started mixing, and the old man beside Blair struck up a conversation while sipping on a Kneecapper and waiting on his plate of hot wings.  “Don’t think I’ve seen you here before.  You here for the band later?  That kid from Bridgeport on bass is popular around there, I hear.”

Blair glanced at the stage.  “Thought about checking it out.  You heard them before?  They any good?”

“Dunno.  I’m here for the Kneecappers, and a break from my wife.  Dorie’s a live wire, haha, but sometimes a man’s got to hide out.  Been with her longer than without, love her to death, but sometimes her shenanigans, not to mention her nagging, will be the death of me if I don’t get away.”  He held up his glass.  “Casandra?”

“Another already?  Careful, or you’ll start seeing llamas in the parking lot again.”

“But there was a llama in the lot last night.”

“Sure there was,” Casandra Upton, the bartender, laughed.

“You saw a llama?”  Blair perked up at the possible opening to work in an innocent question about the Golden Llama.

“Honey, he had enough Kneecappers last night he was lucky he wasn’t on his knees.”  Casandra handed Blair her drink.  “I love ol’ Gus here, don’t get me wrong, but he’s, uh, got a bit of an imagination, let’s just say.”

“There was a llama by the dumpster!  Lurking behind it, watching.  Waiting!”

“There aren’t any wild llamas in Sunset Valley, though.  Unless maybe someone’s got a pet that got loose or something,” Miraj Alvi remarked.  Although he and Blair had met once, years ago, the time she busted his brother VJ for vandalism, it had been so long that neither knew or remembered the other.

Blair sipped at her drink.  It was strong, but the sweet lemon flavor made it easy going down, and the sugar was energizing.  “Maybe it was that Golden Llama I heard about in the news.”

Gus’ eyes lit up.  “Yes!  By plum, the lady’s got it!  Thank you!”  He turned to Casandra.  “Told you I saw the llama!”

“That’s the llama you meant?  You saw him?”

Miraj seemed dubious.  “What would he be doing here?”

Casandra laughed.  “Sweetheart, maybe you haven’t noticed, but the cream of the crop doesn’t always hang around here.  That loony llama’d have his pick of people to mess with.”  She polished a glass.  “Which I hope he doesn’t.  Bad for business.”

“The Llama’s a good guy, though,” Gus pointed out.  “He was probably just watching out for the ladies like this pretty one here, that might get in a bit of trouble from the guys that can’t stop looking at those sparkly buns!”  He gestured to Blair’s rear end, and she almost spat her drink.  She was pretty sure she heard Hank drop a dart behind her and mask a laugh under a cough.

She decided to play along with feigned indignance.  “What makes you think I need protecting?  Who needs a llama to fight for your honor when you’ve got spiky heels, huh?”  She stomped her foot for effect.

“I’m just saying!  I wouldn’t, of course.  I’m a family man.  Happily married, have been for decades.  But some men see shiny objects on a nice behind and, well…”

“I didn’t think the Llama was a knight in shining armor.  I heard he was a doofus in a fur suit that thought he was a superhero.”

“Well, he kicked my brother’s plumbob, and if you knew my brother… let’s just say the Llama can’t be all bad.”  Miraj drank his Llama Head and went over to the shuffleboard table.

“No, I told you, he’s good!”  Gus seemed a bit annoyed, while Blair regretted the chance to question someone a little less questionable slipping off into the crowd.  She didn’t want to be too obvious, in case the Llama or one of his cohorts was around.  Still, Gus had allegedly seen him, so that was something.

“What did he look like?  One of those university mascots with a cape?”

Gus laughed.  “No!  His outfit is much cooler than that.  How the heck would you kick the tar out of someone looking like one of them furries?  Is that what the kids call them?  I can’t keep track.  Anyway, he had the whole getup.  Helmet.  Cape.  Big muscles.  Not bouncer big, but big enough.  Maybe like, uh,” he looked around, and pointed to Hank, “that guy.  Yeah.  Maybe he’s the Llama.”

“Him?  Nah.  He’s no Llama.”

“I don’t know.  He just might be!”  He shouted over to Hank.  “Hey!  Are you the Golden Llama?”

Hank turned around, and Blair just shrugged a bit behind Gus.  “Depends.”  Hank gave the impression of being unimpressed.  “Are there free drinks in it for me?”

“I wouldn’t turn down a free drink,” a young lady approaching the bar said coyly.  Always one on the lookout for a pretty prospect, Hank looked over, only to see that not only did the young lady look too young to be at the bar, but he knew exactly who she was.  He sighed.  While Gretchen Ursine didn’t have her mother’s record or her father’s ill temper, she was one of those kids who seemed to find trouble too easily.  Hank had busted her once for being out after curfew, and he was not the only one of his colleagues to have done so.

“Unless it’s a Mountain Runoff, don’t serve her.  She’s underage,” Hank informed Casandra.  Although he’d have rather not called attention to the fact that he was a police officer, he was not completely hiding his identity like Blair, and he did have a duty to uphold.

“Oh, um, hi, Officer Goddard.”  Gretchen gave him an uneasy smile.

“Hello, Miss Ursine.  I didn’t expect to see you in an establishment like this.  I assume you’re meeting one of your parents here?”

“Uh, no.  I was, uh, just kind of thirsty so I stopped in.”

“Mmm-hmm.  I see.  How about you get that Mountain Runoff to go, then, and head on along?  And don’t let me catch you in here again until you’re old enough, or I’ll have a chat with your mom about your school night hangouts.”  Although Claire Ursine had her faults, and she wasn’t chummy with any SVPD officers, she loved her daughter.  She’d been quite stern with Gretchen the time Hank brought her home, and she’d thanked him for keeping her safe.

“Okay.  Sure thing.  I’ll just use the little sims’ room, get my drink, and go.”

After dealing with Gretchen, Hank noticed that Blair was no longer talking to Gus.  He sidled up to the bar next to her.  “Hey, blondie.  Can I get you a drink, or is the old man getting luckier than me?”  There was a gleam in his eye as he delivered the corny undercover pick-up line.

“Thanks, but I’m good.  I’ve already got a Big Mistake here.”  She swished her drink and flashed an overly sweet, flirtatious smile.  “I think I might go get some air.  It’s hot in here.”

Hank waggled his eyebrows.  “Oh, yeah.”

Blair finished her drink and stepped outside.  She savored the breath of fresh air.  While the undercover game was exciting, the atmosphere of a dive bar was far from her thing.  Hank came out a minute later.  “Thought you ought to know, Casandra told me I should give you a shot,” he said with a grin.  “At least she thinks I’ve got a better chance than old Gus Hart.”

“I’m glad he wasn’t trying!  Unlike a couple others I caught leering.  Ugh.  I don’t know how Tam stands it, let alone likes being hit on all the time.  Give me Cycl0n3’s geeky pick-up lines any day over that.”

“Look at it this way.  You pulled it off.  Nice looking blonde walks into a bar, nobody knows it’s Officer Sw0rd, looking for information on the Golden Llama.  So, what all did you get from Gus?  Did he actually see him?”

“I think so.”  Blair related everything Gus had told her.  While Hank had been dealing with Gretchen, Blair asked Gus to tell her about what he saw.  He’d said the Llama was in the lot, by the dumpster, hiding in the shadows like he was watching or waiting.  Gus said when he saw him, he put a finger to his lips telling him to stay quiet, but he wasn’t threatening.  More like he was keeping watch, in case of trouble.  Then he’d just stepped back into the shadows and vanished.  Gus said he told Casandra about it later and she thought he’d had too many Kneecappers, but it was the Watcher’s honest truth.

“Then we’re on the right track with this place.  It’s definitely a hot spot.  We need to keep some surveillance here.”  He glanced at the dumpster.  “I know our shift is almost done, but we should probably check this area out and see if there’s any evidence.”

“Yeah, though I wish I had better shoes for it.”  She made a face.  “These things are killing me.”

“Tell you what.  I’ll take care of the dirty work.  You keep watch.  Wouldn’t want you to get those cute sparkly short-shorts dirty, anyway.”

“Oh, shut up,” she teased back.  “But I won’t argue.”

Blair acted like she was watching traffic or waiting on a taxi, while Hank poked around the dumpster.  He didn’t find anything of interest on the ground around it, so he took a look inside.  He doubted the Llama would be foolish enough to leave something like a hidden extra costume there, but one never knew, so he checked.

Unfortunately, all he came out with was the need for an immediate shower.  “No evidence of anything other than stale drinks, rotting bar food, and broken dreams in there.  We’ll regroup and plan our next step tomorrow, okay?”

“Sure thing.  Good night, Hank!”

“‘Night, Blair.”

When Blair got home, she was still in her undercover getup.  Cycl0n3 was holding Travis while Chris, done with his shift at the spa, did his homework at the table.  Cycl0n3 looked his wife up and down in an appreciative, but decidedly amused way.  “Did Tam dress you for work today or what?”

“No, silly!  I was undercover.  I did use her for inspiration, though.”

“Undercover, huh?”  Cycl0n3 eyed her shapely legs.  “Wouldn’t mind getting you under the covers, hot stuff.”

Over at the table, Chris cringed.  While not as painful as commentary on his own romantic life, watching his father lob pick-up lines at his mother ran a close second.

Blair, on the other hand, found it cute and giggled flirtatiously.  “Oh, you.”

“Dare I ask what mission had you dressed like this, or is it top secret?”

She couldn’t give details, so she answered in general terms.  “Hank and I are tracking down a gang.  They hang out at that seedy dive northeast of the park.  I was trying to blend in.”

“Well, you nailed it.  You look like the kind of girl Hank would bring home, which I do mean as a compliment.  Though Muscles better have kept his hands to himself.”

“Hank was a perfect gentleman for someone undercover in a low-rent bar.  Besides, you know I’ve got eyes for no one but you.”  She smooched him.

“Good, because you’re all mine, sparkle-butt.”  He gave her tush an affectionate squeeze, and that time, Chris couldn’t help but groan.

Neither Blair nor Cycl0n3 noticed, and they kept going.  “So, tell me, nerdy man who has so much experience at bars, what would you do bringing home someone like me?”

“First, I’d set this little guy down, and then I’d upload you the best love torrent of your life.”  Cycl0n3 put Travis in the baby swing, while Chris debated moving to his room before his brain exploded.

“Ooh.  Is that wild enough for a girl like me?”  Blair struck a dramatic sexy pose in her heels.

“Baby, I’ve got the wildest apps around.”  Cycl0n3 kissed her, and Blair gave him a sultry look and goosed him.

“In that case, show me what you’ve got, you handsome geek.”

They relocated to the bedroom, and Chris did his best not to hear anything after that.  He closed his notebook and was going to hide in his room when he got a text from Tad.  They were glad they had that back outside of school and stealth spa meetings.

So bored and Maria won’t stop whining around me. SAVE ME.

Chris texted back. I would but I just had to listen to my parents use the worst pick-up lines in existence on each other so maybe you should save me instead.

There was a laughing emoji.  Ok you have it worse this time. Tad followed up a moment later.  Mom said if I kept being good she’d let me go out with an earlier curfew next week.  Also she’s glad we’re going to prom because she always liked you but hopes we’ll stay out of trouble. So good I guess? How about you?

Chris hadn’t said anything to his parents yet, and he certainly wasn’t going to right now.  Still grounded. 😦 But they’ve been ok so they might let up soon I hope.  Didn’t get a chance to talk about prom yet.

After that, Chris finished his homework and checked on Travis, who was asleep in the swing in front of the TV.  He changed the channel and sat down.  There was not a whole lot else to do while grounded, and at least the movie re-run was decent.

When Blair and Cycl0n3 came back out, Chris was relieved to see his mother dressed normally again.  Cycl0n3 got a snack while Blair came over.  “How was your day?  School and work go well?”


“Good.  I’m glad.  It’s nice seeing you be the responsible boy I know you are again.  I want you to know that I’ve noticed, and so has your father.  We appreciate it.”

Enough to let me off the hook? Chris hoped, but all he said was, “Thanks.”

“If you keep this up, and promise you understand the importance of following the rules and the law from here on out, we’re willing to say you’ve done enough time as of the end of the school week.  But any more trouble, and I mean any, and the consequences will make this one look like a cake walk.  We’re trusting you to be responsible, all the time.  Any betrayal of that trust…”

“There won’t be,” Chris assured her.  “I promise.”

“I’m glad we understand each other, then.  I love you, and I want to trust you.  You’ve earned that back.”

“I won’t let you down.”

“Okay, Number One.  Thank you.  Let’s put it all behind us, then.  I’m sure you’ve got things you’d rather do than dwell on all this.”

“Yeah.  Speaking of which…”  Chris felt anxious as he broached the personal subject he’d been putting off.  “Prom is coming up.  I’m going, so I need to rent a tux.”

“Sure.  That should be fun!”  She gave him a curious look.  “Going with anyone special?”

“Uh, yeah.  I’m going with Tad.”

Blair smiled.  “Oh!  Well, I’m sure you two will have a wonderful time.”

“Yeah.  We—we will.”

“Hey, you know, you don’t need to be so nervous.  Your dad and I both like him.”

Cycl0n3 joined the conversation.  “Right.  As long as you two have broken your wild party habit, it’s not like we’d disapprove or, heck, didn’t see it coming a mile away.  In fact, I owe your mom five simoleons.  She bet you two were going to go together.”

Chris flushed as red as his hair and turned to his mother.  “Are you serious?”

It was Blair’s turn to be embarrassed, and she faced her son sheepishly after giving Cycl0n3 a “thanks a lot” look.  “Yes, but it was just something we said in fun!  Not making fun of you or anything, I promise!  We just noticed you spend a lot of time with him and I just thought you might think of him as more than a friend.  I mean, I’m your mom, I notice these things, who’s important to you, and what not.  But I never meant to embarrass you!  I’m sorry, I wouldn’t—”

“No, just… it’s okay.  Forget it.”  Chris stood up.

“No, really.”  Blair felt awful now that she’d made him feel so awkward.  “I’m sorry, Chris.”

“Yeah, same,” Cycl0n3 added.

“It’s all right.  You know, we all know, it’s all good.  We can stop talking about it now, okay?”

Cycl0n3 felt bad, too.  “Enough sensitive talking moments.  Got it.”

Chris went into his room, and Blair shook her head at Cycl0n3.  “Way to go, big mouth.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who made the bet,” he protested, while Blair just gave him a look.  “Does this mean I don’t get my five bucks?”

That same evening, there was a senior class afterschool pool party at the lofts’ pool.  It gave Patrick and Maria a brief respite from their respective groundings.  She met up with him poolside after the mandatory participation activities.  “I’m so glad we got a chance to hang out.  Even if it is just a glorified gym class at the public pool.”

“At least they’re not making us do laps.”  He gave her a flirtatious look.  “And you look pretty good in that suit.”

She basked in the compliment.  “You don’t look half bad yourself.  See, we’re so hot, we don’t even need the gym like Mr. Feel-The-Burn always says,” she said, referring to their overly-enthusiastic gym teacher.

“You sure don’t.”  Patrick took her hands.  “Wish we could go out somewhere after this, especially now that I’ve kind of got my car back.”  Boyd and Susan had restored Patrick’s driving privileges on probation.  He was now allowed to drive to school, but he couldn’t go anywhere but school or related activities without their permission.

“I’m so jealous.  I think it’ll be winter in Sunlit Tides before my parents get me a car, thanks to Tad and his stupid party.  But at least Mom’s lightening up a little.  She said we could go out as of this weekend if we’re home by 8.  Better than nothing.  And she’s okay with us going to prom.”

“It’ll be our last one before we graduate.  I’m glad you can go.  I don’t want to miss that.”

“Me neither!  But one upside to being grounded, I’ve had plenty of time to look for dresses online.  I picked out the perfect one.  I’m looking forward to showing it off to you, so… you better get un-grounded yourself, mister.”

“I’ll be in the clear by then.  Your parents aren’t bent out of shape at me for, uh, how they found us at the party, are they?”

“No.  My mom likes you, and Dad, well, I don’t think he even really likes me or Tad sometimes.”  She sighed.  “But he was mostly mad about how we embarrassed him, and how stupid we were.  Me and Tad, I mean.  You he didn’t say anything about.  I don’t care anyway.  He cheated on my mom and has affairs with married women, so whatever!  He’s got no right to criticize me.”  Maria stroked Patrick’s cheek.  “You’ve always been sweet to me.  Never lied or cheated.  Never made me feel worthless or treated me like crap.”

“And I wouldn’t,” Patrick promised.  They sat down in the grass by the pool.  Although it was hot out, neither felt like going in.  They wanted to spend time together while they had the chance.

“I wouldn’t, either.  You know, I think it’s kind of horrible how they say we end up with people like our parents or have relationships like theirs.  Like, wow, no.  I’d never want anyone like my dad, and thanks a lot, fate, if that means I’m doomed to end up like them.  Forget that bull.  Maybe if Mom’s new boyfriend works out and they get married, and it counts for a parent and a step-parent, I’ll take that back, but otherwise… no.”  She frowned.  “Why are you laughing, you llama?”

“It’s not you.  I swear!  It’s just, when you said that, I couldn’t help but think of Blair.  And I hate to say it, but… you could kind of say she married a rude ginger version of Dad.  They’re both huge computer geeks and sci-fi nerds.  And Mom, too, kind of, but I think she’d throw me in that pool if she ever heard me compare her to Cycl0n3.”  He met Maria’s eyes.  “But as far as us, I don’t think you’re much like my mom, and I hope I’m not like your dad.”

Maria laughed.  “No!  If you were like him, I’d be headed for the hills!  Sorry.  Maybe you’re a bit like my mom in that you both like art and painting, but so do I, and I probably got that from her.  So that’s a good thing.”

“I can live with that.  And I guess, like my mom, you can have… discriminating tastes.  High standards.  But I’ll take that as a compliment since I passed them.”

“I’ve never met anyone like you,” Maria said sincerely.  “Nobody else I’ve ever felt so comfortable with, so easy to talk to and click with, like we do.  Quirks and all.  I just can’t imagine not being with you now.”

“I don’t want to imagine it.”

“Me neither.”  They enjoyed the moment together, until the teacher blew a whistle to let everyone know things were wrapping up.  “Guess we’ve got to go home now.  Back to jail.”

“Hopefully not for much longer.  I’d offer to drop you off, but—”

“No.  Better to not have to explain and prove I didn’t go somewhere I shouldn’t if Mom sees me get out of your car.  See you at school tomorrow?”

“First thing.  I’ll message you later, once I finish my homework and brownie point acquisition mission for the night.”

“Well, I don’t want to get in the way of that.”  She smooched him.  “Talk to you tonight.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

When he got home, Patrick grabbed a leftover plate of autumn salad.  Boyd was the only one still at the dinner table.  He was reading something on his phone when Patrick came in, but he stayed to chat.  “I thought they gave you pizza at that pool party.  Was it bad, or are you far more nutritionally conscious than most kids your age?”

“Nah.  I’m hungry.  Never got around to having any.”

“Oh.  Guess you wanted to spend time with your friends, huh?  Can’t blame you there,” Boyd said sympathetically.  “You know, your mom and I talked it over, and, well, with Orion and Iris’ birthday party falling on Leisure Day coming up…”

Patrick looked up hopefully.  Was he finally getting a reprieve?

“What I’m saying is we’re letting you off the hook.  As of Leisure Day, anyway.  Since the incident, we appreciate that your grades haven’t slipped, and that you’ve been good.  Nice.  Calm.  Helping out.  You’ve followed the rules and there’s been no trouble since we gave you your car back, so… I think it’s fair to say you learned your lesson?”  He gave him a pointed look.  “You promise no more wild partying, juice, sneaking around, breaking rules?”

“Yeah!  Definitely not!  I promise.”

“All right.  Then we’re back to normal, as much as that gets around here.  Same rules as before.  Curfew at 10.  Don’t break it, and if anything comes up, text or call and tell us so we don’t worry.”

“Sure.  No problem.”

“Woohoo!”  Buddy cheered behind Patrick.  “The old geezers finally lightened up!  It’s a miracle!”

When he finished, Patrick picked up his plate, and the empty one in front of his father that he’d obviously forgotten about.  Boyd got up, and his phone beeped with a new notification.  Whatever it was, he wasn’t happy about it.

“Dad?  Everything okay?”

“Uh… yeah.  I—I guess.  It’s nothing you need to worry about, but I’ve got to talk to your mom.  She still out in the living room?”

“Yeah.  Planning stuff for the Leisure Day birthday bash you guys are throwing.”


“Wow, what freaked the old coot out so bad?” wondered Buddy.  “I haven’t seen him like that since that day I followed him around turning on all the lights he turned off.”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure he’ll say something if it’s a big enough deal.”  Patrick thought he said it low enough that Boyd couldn’t hear, but he did.  Ordinarily, the reminder that Patrick still talked to an invisible friend would have bothered Boyd more than it did, but he had more pressing concerns on his mind.

Susan was behind their entertaining bar, mixing sample drinks.  “I saw this recipe for a party drink online.  Now, I’m no mixologist, but I think I could whip up a few of these and impress the guests.  What do you think?”  She handed him a sample.

He sipped it and sat down, nodding back to her distractedly.  “It’s good.  Fine.  I think they’ll like them.”  He gave her a questioning look.  “Did you check your phone?”

“No.  I left it over here so it wouldn’t get any juice on it.”  She noticed the look on Boyd’s face.  “What’s wrong?  What happened?  Is it the lab?  Emit?  The timeline?”  She set the shaker down and retrieved her phone.

“No.”  Boyd grimaced.  “Eni Jish Xip.  She sent a message to the lab.  I just got the notification.”

“What does she want?”  Susan loaded it while Boyd brought it back up on his screen.

“It’s about that time again.  Orion’s birthday.”

Susan read the same message Boyd had gotten.

Greetings, Wainwright Family.  The time is nearing for the child Orion’s age advancement to his adolescent years.  As this is a most important milestone to both humans and us of Sixam, I would like an opportunity to visit with him, with your permission.  I know my previous visitations during his celebrations caused emotional hardship and complication to you, so I wish to arrange a visitation time that will not create conflict.  If it can not be during the social gathering, I understand.  I only desire a chance to speak with you and Orion Wainwright so his transition to this step closer to maturity can be as smooth as possible for him.  Please respond with the time and conditions that are optimal for you, and I will gladly honor them. – Eni Jish Xip, Sixam Ambassador to Earth

“Ambassador?” Susan read, surprised.  “What’s with that?  Did she get some kind of promotion?”

“Maybe that’s the next step up from just abducting and experimenting on us.”

“Either way, if she’s an example of their fine diplomatic skills, I can see why there are future timelines where we’re at war.”  Susan understood why Boyd was so upset.  “What do you want to tell her?”

“To buzz off to the nearest nebula?”  Boyd sighed.  “No, not really.  I don’t hate her, or anything, and Orion deserves a chance to talk to his alien… connection.  I’m sure there are questions only she can answer for him, and the Watcher knows we sure don’t have a manual on raising a half-alien teenager.  As Patrick proved, we don’t even have a handle on our regular human one sometimes!  And, truth be told, there’s stuff I’d like to ask her, and I’m sure you would, too.  I just wish it didn’t… didn’t remind me of what they did to me.”

“I know.  It’s your call.  I’m fine with whatever you decide, honey.  I know how this gets to you.”

“We can tell her to come the day after his birthday.  That way there won’t be any party guests to make up cover stories to, and no stressing about her or someone else saying the wrong thing, beyond just dealing with her one on one.  It’ll be just us, her, Orion, and the kids.  We’re going to have to explain the whole story to Iris pretty soon anyway.  She’s been asking questions.”

“The other day she asked me why Orion can’t make flowers open but can make silverware dance.  And why can’t she make the silverware dance?”

“Yeah.”  Boyd smiled wanly.  “So, I guess that settles that.  I’ll send a message back tonight.”

“Look at it this way.  At least we’ll have a nice party first without her crashing it.  Celebrate our kids growing up, spend time with our family and friends.  Live it up on Leisure Day, and de-stress before—”

“A nice big stress?  Sounds like a plan.”

Online oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #234 on: April 13, 2018, 12:05:16 AM »
I cracked up at Blair in her sparkly shorts at the seedy bar.
Cycl0n3's reaction to her undercover look was the best. Poor Chris, having to listen to his parents and knowing they'd gone off for a little sumpin sumpin, lol!
How great that Blair and Cycl0n3 were so cool about Chris and Tad going to the prom together.
That's surely a great relief for Chris, though he seemed miffed about his parents betting small change on his love life, haha.

Poor Boyd, still so traumatized!

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 61
« Reply #235 on: April 20, 2018, 01:45:41 AM »
I cracked up at Blair in her sparkly shorts at the seedy bar.
Cycl0n3's reaction to her undercover look was the best. Poor Chris, having to listen to his parents and knowing they'd gone off for a little sumpin sumpin, lol!
How great that Blair and Cycl0n3 were so cool about Chris and Tad going to the prom together.
That's surely a great relief for Chris, though he seemed miffed about his parents betting small change on his love life, haha.

Poor Boyd, still so traumatized!

Boyd probably won't ever get over the abduction beyond the point he's already at, thanks to his neurotic trait. Poor guy.

Living with an inappropriate dad and a childish mom means poor Chris is probably embarrassed all the time! Blair and Cycl0n3 don't mean to do that, of course, but you know how it is when you're a teenager and maybe not that confident, and worried about what your friends might think!

Chapter 61

Leisure Day was sunny, gorgeous, and festive with everything Wainwrights celebrated at their party.  Orion and Iris their birthdays, Patrick his freedom from being grounded, Boyd and Susan their success, and, of course Leisure Day itself.  Blair had a much-needed day off, Cycl0n3 had a break from his cases, and Travis got to play in the pool for the first time.  Chris, Tad, and Maria were also finally free of their punishments, and the Wolff teens were just two of the guests that came to the Wainwrights’ summer bash.  Mortimer Goth, Wilbur Keaton, Gretchen Ursine, and Tom Sekemoto attended too, as well as several of the Bunch clan: Jack, Judy, and Ethan and his wife, Kaylynn, who had just discovered she was pregnant with their first child.  Jack and Judy were thrilled to have a third grandchild on the way, while Boyd and Susan mused at how much their own grandchildren, not to mention their other kids, had grown.

Mortimer asked Patrick about his guitar, so he brought it out to show him and played a tune.  That drew several of the guests in to listen, and Patrick’s time and practice showed.  Boyd thought again how it was a shame that his father, who’d also been a musician, never got to meet Patrick.  He imagined he’d have been proud to see his grandson following that path.  He mentioned as much to Chris, standing beside him.  “I didn’t know my great grandpa played guitar.  That’s pretty cool.”

“Guitar and violin.  He was an orchestra lead when he retired.  He also composed a few original pieces.”

“Guess Patrick got all that talent,” Chris joked.  “I can’t play anything.  I can barely hum on key.  Can’t draw like him, either.  Sometimes I think the only thing I stand out at is wisecracks and playing Cat Whisperer.  Half the strays in the neighborhood come to our backyard for treats now, because they know I’m a softy and can’t say no.  Dad complains when they fight late at night out there, though.”

“Don’t sell yourself short.  You’re a bright boy, Chris.  You could succeed at anything you were passionate about.  And compassion is in short supply in this world.  Having it’s a good thing.  I think your mom would agree.”  Boyd smirked.  “Besides, your feline friends tweaking your dad’s a nice bonus.  He’s earned it.  At least a little.”

Chris snickered.  “Yeah.”

Blair and Orion played tag before cake.  “Whew!  You’re a speedy one, Chief Engineer.  I got in my workout keeping up with you.”  She fanned herself.  “It’s so hot out here.  I think we’re both getting a tan.  You look a little darker.”

“But I’m green.  Can you call it tan on me?”

“Maybe more like olive.  But at least it’s not a burn.  I’m so pale, that’s what I usually get!  Speaking of which, I better go tell Cycl0n3 to put on some sunscreen before he gets burned.  He’s on his laptop so much, sometimes I think he forgets what the sun looks like.  I’m sure he forgot.”

Unlike his father, Chris remembered his sunscreen.  That was a mistake he only made once, earlier in the summer, and he did not intend to repeat it.  A co-worker at the spa showed him their best stuff, and he got it with his employee discount.  It worked.  Despite the blazing summer sun, his pale skin turned a golden painless tan.

“Don’t you look all nice and bronze?” Tad said flirtatiously.  “I’m jealous.  You know, it makes your hair look even redder.  Which I like, by the way.”

Chris couldn’t help but smile.  “Thanks.  And you look fine.  You don’t need a tan to look good.”

“And you claim you’re no good at being charming,” Tad teased.

“I said I was no good at being suave, not that I couldn’t be charming.”

“Close enough.”  He took his hand.  “Hey, now that we’re free again, want to do something after the party?  Just us?”

“That’d be cool.  Where do you want to go?”

“They’re having Leisure Day fireworks at Old Pier Beach tonight.  We could check that out.”

The thought of sitting on the beach under the stars watching fireworks with Tad sounded great.  “Sure!”

Patrick put his guitar away and caught up with Maria poolside.  “It’s blazing hot out here.  Want to go in the pool?”

“It is, but… nah.  I don’t want to mess up my hair and makeup.”

“Aw, come on.  It’s a pool party.  You don’t need to worry about that.”

“Easy for you to say.  You won’t look like a raccoon if your mascara runs.”  She fanned herself with a dramatic pout.

“Somehow I have a hard time picturing you looking like a raccoon.”

“Somehow I have a hard time picturing you in mascara, so I doubt you understand.  Though your eyelashes aren’t bad natural.”

“Nothing on you’s bad natural, either.”  Patrick smirked.  “And I’ve seen you pretty natural.  Just saying.”

Maria blushed, but she was obviously flattered.  “Oh, my Watcher.  Patrick!”

“It’s the truth.  But that’s okay.  Maybe sometime when it’s just us, you can skip the makeup and go in the pool.  Maybe skip a few other things, too.  Like these unnatural bathing suits!”

“If I was in the pool, I’d splash you for that.”

“Depending on how natural you are at the time, I could be into that, too.”

Maria’s response was a playful swat, but he backed away, laughing, and the two of them chased each other across the patio.

After some socializing and enjoying the sun and pool, they started the birthday celebrations.  Little Iris went first.  Susan carried her to her cake and helped her blow out the candles.  “Remember to make a wish, sweetie!”

Iris took a deep breath and blew with all her might, excited and happy.

Unfortunately, the celebration was interrupted by a cry of alarm.  Over by the patio doors leading into the study, Judy Bunch called for help, then collapsed, unconscious.  Everyone rushed to her, but there was nothing they could do.  She was non-responsive, and even though an ambulance was called, they feared the worst.

Jack was beside himself, and Ethan broke down as they couldn’t revive his mother.  Everyone else was understandably upset, and Susan dissolved into tears once it hit home that they’d lost another of their old friends.  Judy was old, and had a few health issues, but no one saw it coming.  She’d been happy, active, and mingling with the guests like nothing was wrong only minutes before.

Boyd and Susan both had the thought that chronologically, Judy and Jack were their same age.  It was a reminder of just how generous a gift the treatment Emit gave them in Oasis Landing had been.  Meanwhile, Orion couldn’t help but remember how old Gunther Goth had died at a previous birthday party of Iris’ and his, and he felt bad, even though he knew it wasn’t their fault.  He wondered why bad things kept happening on days that were supposed to be good.  It didn’t seem fair.  He saw old Mr. Bunch, a seasoned army veteran wracked with sobs over his wife, and he saluted him out of respect.  It felt like the right thing to do.

Judy did not make it.  It was her time.  When she saw Grim among the crowd, her spirit greeted him with acceptance.  She was sad to leave her family behind, but she’d lived a long and full life.  She’d had a successful career as a scientist and achieved her lifelong dream of raising a large and loving family.  All but the youngest of her children were grown now, and even Penny was close to adulthood and independence.  She had two wonderful grandchildren and another on the way.  Ethan had grown into a good man and would be a dedicated father, just like Lisa and Darlene were loving mothers to Kristian and Starla, and Arlo was on his own with his whole life ahead of him.  Judy was happy and had given her all to her family, and they loved her as much as she loved them.  They would be there for Jack in the time he had left.  She also knew that one day, she would see them all again and greet them on the other side with open arms.

“She died.”  Iris was upset by what happened to old Mrs. Bunch.  The young plantsim was as bright as the rest of the Wainwrights, having gotten Susan’s natural intelligence along with her facial structure from the DNA engineered into her seed.  The birthday and time in the sun also brought out the variety of her foliage.  As a baby and toddler, Iris’ skin had been smoother and the leaves on it similar in color.  Now, some natural purplish color stood out more.  The hair-like leaves on her head had also gotten thicker, and it had a texture more like late-season hay than fine spring grass.

Orion tried to reassure Iris.  Although they were quite different as a half-alien and a plantsim, in some ways he felt like they had more in common than their other siblings.  Not just being green, but being the youngest, and not human.  “It’s okay.  It’s not your fault.  Not anything you did.”

“Was it because she was old?”

“I think so.”  Orion looked at the grieving guests.  “You’re too young to remember, but this happened when I turned your age, and you were just growing up from being a baby.  With Mr. Goth.  Mortimer’s dad.  He was really old, too.  He died in the rocking chair.”

“Was everyone crying and upset, too?”

“They said it was his time.  It was Mrs. Bunch’s time this time, I guess.”

“She was nice,” Iris said softly.  “She gave me and Patches chips.  I gave her a flower from my hand and she said it was pretty.”

“She was nice to me, too.  A nice old lady.”

“And now she’s gone and everyone will miss her.”  Iris blew a flower out the patio door into the breeze.  “I hope Mrs. Bunch will be okay wherever she is now.”

“Kaylynn’s taking Dad to the car.  There are some things we have to sign and fill out, officially.”  Ethan tried to keep himself composed.  As the oldest Bunch child, he’d always been responsible and level-headed.  “I’ve got to tell Lisa, Arlo, Darlene, and Penny.  Darlene took Penny to the stables for her riding event today, so Starla could see the horses.  So Mom and Dad came here since Penny told them not to worry about it, it was just a local thing and they could see the big regional show next time.”  He sniffled.  “Now she won’t… but at least she was here having a good time with everyone when…”  His voice cracked, and Susan put a hand on his shoulder.

“Your mom was a good lady and a great friend.  She was happy, and don’t forget that.  She loved all of you very much.  She just told me today how proud she was of you, and how excited she was for you and Kaylynn and the baby.”

“We’ll miss her,” Boyd added.  “I’m so sorry.  If there’s anything we can do, for you or any of the family, let us know.”

“And it goes without saying, take any time you need off and don’t worry about it,” Susan told him.  Ethan had followed in Judy’s footsteps career-wise, and he worked at the lab with them.

“Thanks.  I appreciate it.  Tell Orion and Iris happy birthday.”  He smiled.  “Mom wouldn’t have wanted you to stop their party on her account.  She’d want them to have as great a birthday as they could.  You know her.”

“We do,” said Boyd.  “Take care, Ethan.”

After paying their respects to Judy, they celebrated Orion’s birthday.  His birthday wish was simple—that this would be the last birthday of his someone would die at.  Despite his rebellious streak, Orion had a kind heart and an altruistic nature, much like his older sister Blair.  Boyd and Susan had raised him with the qualities Emit hoped they would, and they were both proud of him.

Along with the other physical changes of adolescence, Orion now had a full head of hair.  Much like his descendant Ronald Wainwright said in Oasis Landing, the patchy hair that came in late in his childhood was now full and thick.  It was an odd shade of green, unnatural for a human, but also strange-looking when compared to the bald full-blooded Sixam alien look of his genetic mother, Eni Jish Xip.  Having hair made Orion feel like he fit in a little better, although sometimes Susan hinted that she wished he’d keep it a little less shaggy.  “You are your father’s son,” Susan would tease after he’d brush that suggestion off, although it was in fondness.

Iris and Orion ate their cake with Chris and Wilbur.  “Are you sure that’s not going to make you sick?” Orion asked his plantsim sister.  “I never saw you eat that much before.”

“It’s not going to make me wilt or anything.  Besides, it’s yummy.”

“So, Iris, are you ready for school?” Chris asked.  “It’s probably not going to be much fun for you stuck inside all day.  They only let you out at recess.”

“Mom’s sending a note that says I have to sit by windows, so I get enough sunlight.  Oh, and I’m not allowed outside if it’s too cold once fall and winter come.  Patrick said that wasn’t fair, because I’d get out of running when it’s cold out and he wished he had that note for gym class.”

Chris shrugged.  “Wouldn’t do him much good now.  He’s already a senior.  Besides, running’s not that bad.  Better than climbing the rock wall.  I fell off last week and bruised my butt.”

“No offense, but you fall off of everything, Chris,” Orion pointed out.  “I’m surprised you made it up the pool slide.”

“Did you see his epic belly flop on the diving board earlier?  That was impressive,” Wilbur said, and Iris, who’d seen it happen, laughed.

“Ha ha.  You wouldn’t be laughing if you knew how much that hurt.  Don’t think I’ll be joining the swim team anytime soon, though.”

“Speaking of which, I thought about joining clubs now that I’m going to high school.  My ballet teacher said I should try sports club since I’ve got so much energy, but when I asked Dad what sport I should try, he looked at me like I had an extra head.  I was also thinking maybe shop club.  I like building things.”

“You can make some neat stuff in shop club.  Tom showed me a model he made there before math class the other day.”

“What about you, Iris?  You taking up ballet, or scouts?” asked Wilbur.

“Scouts.  I don’t dance good like Orion, and I like doing stuff outside.”

“Scouts was fun,” Chris agreed.  “You’ll like it.  You get to go fishing and look for stuff in the woods and the lakes and beaches.  You find all sorts of cool things, like rare mushrooms and rocks and bugs.”

After cake, Orion caught up with his father.  “Hey, Dad, you said you got fireworks for the party, right?  Can we set them off soon?”


“And I can light some, right?”

Boyd was hesitant.  “I don’t know.  They’re kind of dangerous.”

“I can do it, Dad.  I know how to be careful around fire and explosives.”

“And where exactly did you get experience with explosives?”  Boyd shook his head.  “Never mind.  I probably don’t want to know.”

“Uh, you really think I don’t know what chemicals in the chemistry table could make a huge explosion?  I did get an A in science.  Besides, you and Mom both told me what to be careful with.”

“All right.  Just promise you’ll keep a steady hand and be careful.”  He lowered his voice so only Orion could hear as Chris walked by.  “And if anyone asks, I’m only letting you because it’s your birthday.  The last thing I want is one of you kids getting hurt in a fireworks accident.  Chris is clumsier than a llama, and Iris, especially, keep her away from it.  Even if she wasn’t still too young, one spark on her…”

“I know, Dad.  Relax.  It’ll be fine.”  He gave him a thumbs-up.

“Heh.  Famous last words,” Boyd said, while Orion called Patrick to help him bring them out.

Cycl0n3 overheard Orion shouting to his brother for firework assistance, and he went over to Blair, admiring her tanned physique.  “I hear they’re getting out the fireworks.  But I think you and I could light a few of our own, pink bikini babe.”  He waggled his eyebrows and adjusted his sunglasses in sync for effect, then kissed her.

She enjoyed that, but when his hand got a little too friendly on her rear end, she wriggled back.  “Aren’t you a little feisty tonight?  But this should wait until we get home.  We’ll have it mostly to ourselves anyway.  Chris just told me he and Tad are going to Old Pier Beach’s fireworks show, and that ends pretty late.  Travis will be asleep.”

“All right.  I’ll behave and try to keep my eye on the fireworks, then, even if you are hotter than that Red Glare they’re setting up over there.”

Although Boyd’s fears about Orion having a mishap with the fireworks were misplaced, they were not unfounded.  Patrick lit one before Boyd had time to say anything, and as bad luck would have it, it had a faulty fuse, and exploded with fire instead of sparkles.  With a shout of panic, Patrick jerked back and kicked it toward the pool, but it did not make it before it went up in a pillar of flame.

“Oh my Watcher, oh my Watcher, oh my Watcher!”  Boyd started hyperventilating as his mind fast forwarded the scenario to flames everywhere, catching the house, the patio, and everyone on it in a blazing inferno.  Iris looked dangerously close and he screamed for her to get back, but Susan was already on it and pulled her out of harm’s way.  Patrick cursed a panicked blue streak, almost as freaked out as his father, while Orion grabbed the fire extinguisher they kept near the grill.

“I got it!”  He sprayed down the blaze, and no harm came to anything but Patrick’s pride and Boyd’s nerves.  There was some soot on the patio, but that would clean easily enough.  Still, Orion had the thought that his father would be unbearable with his what-if catastrophe paranoia for a while, now that one of his long-shot worries had actually happened.

Boyd ran over to Patrick.  “What happened?  Are you burned?  Oh, you’ve got to be careful with that stuff!  I’ve said a million times!  Let me see your hands, are they—?”

“I’m fine, Dad.”  Patrick was shaken up, but still felt the adrenaline from almost being caught on fire.  He held out his unburnt hands.

Orion picked up the charred remains of the ill-fated firecracker and looked them over before tossing them in the trash.  “I think it was messed up from the factory or something.  It didn’t light right when the fuse caught.”

Susan nodded.  “I saw.  It flared.”

“Does this mean no more fireworks?”  Iris was disappointed.

“No, we’ve just got to check them first, that’s all,” Orion said without waiting for either of his parents to verify.

“Really?”  Boyd was still paler than a ghost, despite the day in the sun, but he could tell everyone else wanted more.  “Okay, just please, be careful.  Check them all.  Carefully.  In good light.”  He brought over a table lantern.

Once everything was cleaned up and the remaining fireworks verified as safe, they started again.  Cycl0n3 jumped in the pool and treaded out a few feet, and Blair called out to him.  “What are you doing?”

“Getting prepared in case of Inferno: Round Two!”

“Llama,” Patrick muttered, while Susan just shook her head, and Boyd debated for a moment whether or not to join him.

Across town, Chris and Tad missed the fiery home fireworks at the Wainwright mansion just as the extravaganza at Old Pier Beach started.  The crowd gathered as the opening burst lit up the sky.  Tad looked around.  “We should find somewhere to sit,” he said just as a loud one went off.


Tad took Chris’ hand while eyeing a prime unoccupied spot of sand.  “Just follow me.  Come on.”

They wove through the crowd and around the lighting areas until they reached the spot Tad wanted to claim.  As they approached, Tad tripped over something in the sand.  “Whoa.  You okay?” asked Chris.

“Yeah.”  Tad lifted his foot from what looked like a wire or cord he’d snagged.  “Just got caught on this.”

There was a loud shout behind them, and one of the event attendants rushed their way.  Chris looked over, and shoved Tad.  “Plum!  Keep moving!”

“What?  Why—? Oh!”  It seemed that whatever he tripped over caused a disturbance that led one of the displays, which had been lit, to tip.  It sparked wildly and danced in the sand, lighting before its time and creating a light show that was almost as impressive as it would have been had it lit properly.  Luckily, Tad and Chris escaped into the crowd before anyone could pin them as the clumsy culprits behind the accident.

“That was close,” Chris said as they found a new spot to watch the fireworks.  “The last thing we need after getting un-grounded is getting blamed for screwing up Sunset Valley’s Leisure Day fireworks show.”

“Oh, I know!  Mom would not be zen about that, especially this soon.”  Tad stretched out in the sand, and when Chris lay down beside him, he put an arm around him.  “And I think Dad donated some money to this show as a business write-off, so I’d probably hear all about it from him, too, once he found out his screw-up son made him look bad again.”

“I think we’re in the clear.  They shouldn’t have had a wire half buried in the sand where anyone could’ve tripped on it anyway.”  Chris frowned.  “Did your dad say you were a screw-up?  That’s kind of harsh.  I mean, my parents were mad about the party and stuff, but they weren’t like that.”

Tad sighed as a brilliant blue and gold firework exploded above them.  “It’s just how he is.  Everything’s always got to be up to his impossibly high standards.  Better never have a grade below a B, but anything other than an A gets a ‘try harder next time.’  Maria’s and Mom’s art is a waste of time, I’m lazy and unmotivated, I expect everything just handed to me and don’t know the value of hard work.  Mom spoils me, that’s why I’m so irresponsible and won’t ever amount to anything if I don’t shape up.  On and on.  Like that.  He was just mad he’d have to explain to Mrs. Landgraab why his kids had the cops at their house, because everyone at the water cooler would be talking about it in the morning.”

“Mrs. Landgraab wouldn’t have much room to talk, being her daughter was at the party too.”

“Yeah, well, when you sleep with your boss, you worry about things like that, I guess,” Tad said, while Chris looked over in surprise.  “Oh, yeah.  Dad totally had a thing with her.  Right after she divorced her husband for sleeping with Pauline Wan.  Who my dad also cheated on Mom with years ago when he and Mom were still married.”  Tad rolled his eyes.  “Dad should talk about screw-ups. Especially since I think he’s got another married girlfriend now.  Last week when I was still grounded, he came by to pick up something he forgot while he was staying at our house.  There was a lady in the car with him and it didn’t look like a business connection, if you know what I mean.  I saw her at your grandparents’ party today.  Kaylynn, the pregnant one.  Hope for her husband’s sake it’s his and not some sibling-to-be of mine.”

Chris leaned against Tad as they talked.  “Ethan’s wife?  Wow.  That sucks.”

“It was pretty awkward.  I played it like I’d never seen her before and I guess she did the same, if she recognized me.  I don’t think her husband has any clue.  But that’s as close as I’m getting to that mess.”

They lapsed back into silence and watched a multi-color firework ripple out in bands across the night sky, followed by a rocket that exploded with three colorful bursts in succession.

“Okay, that one was cool,” Chris remarked.

“Yeah.  Not one we could get for a home party, either.”

“You don’t know my grandparents.  They probably could.  They find a lot of crazy stuff.  Though I’m not sure they’d shoot it off in their yard.  Grandpa gets paranoid about stuff like that.”

“Aren’t your grandparents mad scientists, pretty much?” Tad joked.  “That’s what Maria says.  Not like it’s a bad thing, just… weird.  Like eccentric weird, in a good way.  They seemed okay, and they’ve got a pretty sweet mansion, that’s for sure.”

“Hope you’re not hoping I’m going to inherit it, because I’m way down the list, you know.”

Tad rolled over and stroked Chris’ cheek.  “It’s not a big house I’m after.”

“Oh, is it a big something else, then?”

Tad just smirked and answered him with a kiss.

After they finished the fireworks back at the Wainwright mansion, most of the guests left, although a few hung around shooting the breeze for the last few hours of Leisure Day.  Maria was one of the ones who lingered.  Since Tad was allowed to stay out until the fireworks in town ended, Morgana said she could stay at Patrick’s until the same time.  They settled into the hot tub together.

“This is so nice,” Maria sighed happily.  “I could relax out here all night.”

“Stay as long as you want, or at least that you won’t get in trouble for.”  Patrick put his arm around her.  “I like having you here with me.”

“I like being here.  Especially since we’ve got it to ourselves.”  Everyone else was on the other side of the patio.  “A nice romantic moment under the summer stars!”

Patrick kissed her.  “Happy Leisure Day.  Here’s to leisure, relaxation, and pleasure.”

“Pleasure, hmm?”

“Absolutely.  It’s a vital component to Leisure Day, you know,” he said with a flirtatious grin.

“Oh, is that some scientific fact?  Like 9 out of 10 doctors say pleasure is a part of a balanced Leisure Day outing?”

“Could be.  My parents are scientists, your mom is a doctor.  Pretty sure that gives us the credentials to run our own study to prove it.”  He slid his hand along her thigh under the water.  “And we’re pretty alone over here.”

“Not that alone.”  Maria placed her hand on top of his.  “But maybe alone enough for this.”  She climbed into his lap and kissed him.  He circled his arm around her waist and leaned back in the bubbling water with her, and they conducted their impromptu Leisure Day study.

After the last guest left, Susan was surprised Iris was still outside and energetic at that hour.  She was next to the moondial flowers, humming happily.  Susan wondered if they were communicating in a way only a plantsim could understand.  “Usually you’re beat this time of night.  Is it the excitement of the birthday and party?  Or are you just enjoying the flowers?”

“They liked the party, too.  Though the fire scared them.  They’re glad it happened far away.”

“I imagine so.”  Susan found it both fascinating and sweet that Iris could indeed communicate with the plants.  Although she wouldn’t want to take advantage of her in any sort of undue way, she could not help but think how incredibly useful that ability could be with their gardening experiments.  “But it’s been a while since you’ve had any sun, and you’ve got your first day of school coming up.  Maybe you should say good night and head to bed?”

“Okay.”  She bent down and brushed her fingertips against one of the flowers, as if speaking telepathically, then gave her mother a hug.  “G’night, Mom!”  She went inside.

Once Iris was in bed, Susan found Boyd out on the private deck off their bedroom.  “There you are.  I wondered where you went off to.”

“I came up to take a shower but got distracted.  The sky is pretty tonight.  Relaxing.  You can even see the fireworks from town if you look that way.”

Susan joined him and remembered a previous Leisure Day, many years ago now, when she and Boyd were on their roof patio at their old house on Maywood Lane together.  She had only recently learned she was pregnant with Patrick, and they’d spent the day at the Goths’ for the holiday.  Now Patrick was nearly grown, and both Gunther and Cornelia were gone, like most recently, Judy.

Boyd’s thoughts ran in a similar vein.  “Do you remember the Leisure Day when we’d just finished University, after Blair moved out, and you’d just found out we were having Patrick?  When we were watching fireworks from our roof at our old place, and we saw lightning?  It was here.  I don’t know why I thought of that.  But it was.  Right here.  You said it was probably humidity from the beach.”

Susan smiled.  “You joked that it was weird lightning.  You wondered if it could be a dimensional portal or alien attack.  You said I Scully-ed you with the mundane possibility.”

“You did, but… I need Scully-ing sometimes.  Like you sometimes need a bit of Mulder-ing.”

“Much as I love Mulder and Scully, ‘Mulder-ing’ doesn’t have the nicest ring to it.”

“No.  A bit too much like ‘moldering.’  It’s just an odd coincidence.  Another Leisure Day, and here we are.  Where lightning struck.”

“Yes.  It’s nice tonight, though.  I don’t think there will be any freak storms this time.”

“After Judy and the fire?  I hope not.”  Boyd drew Susan into an embrace.  “Though there’s a spark of something.”

She leaned in for a kiss.  “Definitely.”

Online oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #236 on: April 20, 2018, 03:06:41 PM »
So many happy couples in this update. My fave has to be Cycl0n3 and his pink bikini babe, lol!
What a treat to see Orion and Iris reach the next life stage. Orion with his shaggy hair and shades looks rather rockstar-ish. :D
And Iris is really beautiful--is her skintone with its various colors and patterns usual for a plantsim?
I'm so curious how Orion and Iris will develop. I like how Orion identifies with Iris for their shared otherness.

Patrick and Maria together are cute, but Chris and Tad are so adorable! Must be hard knowing that your father's a sleaze, though.
I appreciate your reminding me of your sims' various traits, Cheezey.
You've really done a fantastic job giving them personalities and lives that reflect those traits. (Also, I'd completely forgotten about the Neurotic trait!)

As always, I'm looking forward eagerly to what happens next!

Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #237 on: April 20, 2018, 08:09:52 PM »
I agree with oshizu, Orion definitely has a pop-rock-boyband thing going. He could easily pass for one of The Beatles (Ringo was always my fav for some reason. Must be the nose #TookShnozHasCompetition) or maybe he can sub for one of the Oasis peeps lol

I love Cycl0n3 jumping in the pool in case of another fire and Boyd seriously considering it himself

Great update as always, and I can't wait to see the next one!!

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 62
« Reply #238 on: April 27, 2018, 02:10:58 AM »
So many happy couples in this update. My fave has to be Cycl0n3 and his pink bikini babe, lol!
What a treat to see Orion and Iris reach the next life stage. Orion with his shaggy hair and shades looks rather rockstar-ish. :D
And Iris is really beautiful--is her skintone with its various colors and patterns usual for a plantsim?
I'm so curious how Orion and Iris will develop. I like how Orion identifies with Iris for their shared otherness.

Patrick and Maria together are cute, but Chris and Tad are so adorable! Must be hard knowing that your father's a sleaze, though.
I appreciate your reminding me of your sims' various traits, Cheezey.
You've really done a fantastic job giving them personalities and lives that reflect those traits. (Also, I'd completely forgotten about the Neurotic trait!)

As always, I'm looking forward eagerly to what happens next!

Thank you! Iris' skintone appeared when she aged up. It was a surprise to me, since she's the first plantsim I've played, and I didn't know that would appear on her once she hit the child stage. It was a pleasant surprise, though, and I like how it looks on her.

This chapter has a lot of Iris and Orion, so I hope you enjoy it.

I agree with oshizu, Orion definitely has a pop-rock-boyband thing going. He could easily pass for one of The Beatles (Ringo was always my fav for some reason. Must be the nose #TookShnozHasCompetition) or maybe he can sub for one of the Oasis peeps lol

I love Cycl0n3 jumping in the pool in case of another fire and Boyd seriously considering it himself

Great update as always, and I can't wait to see the next one!!

Thank you. I'm glad you like Orion's look! When fall hits in the game, you can see his rebellious leather coat outerwear, too.  ;D

Chapter 62

When Iris went to bed, she picked up her Patches doll to take with her like she usually did.  This time, however, something different happened.  Patches started to wiggle, and Iris could’ve sworn she heard a little girl’s voice say, “Put me down.”  Startled, Iris did what she asked.  To her amazement, the doll began to sparkle and twirl.  Iris blinked, and then suddenly, Patches was no longer just a doll on the floor, but a moving, talking doll as big as she was!  “Patches?!”

“Hi, Iris!”  She greeted her cheerfully.  “Happy birthday!  We’re big enough to play together now!  Not just doll stuff, but anything you want!”

Iris was amazed.  “You’re alive like me?  You’re another kid?”

“Well, kind of.  I’m alive, but only to you.  I’m magic.  Special.  Not all toys are like me.  I was made to be a friend for you, so only you can play with me and talk to me like this.”

“Wow!  Is it because I’m a plantsim?”

“No, but it’s kind of like how you’re a plantsim and you’re the only one who can understand the plants or help them grow the way you can.  I have a power that lets me turn into another kid so I can play with you.”

“But why?  I like having a friend, but wouldn’t it be more fun to play with and talk to everyone?”

“It would!  But I don’t work that way.  I don’t know why.  It’s just how it is.  How I was made, I guess.”

“Who made you?”

Patches shrugged.  “I don’t know.”

“What about parents?  Do you have parents?”

“I don’t think so.  I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.  I just wondered.  Parents usually know stuff.  But I guess if you don’t have any, I could ask mine.”  Iris yawned.  “Though they wanted me to go to bed.  I start school tomorrow.”

“Oh.  We can play later if you’re tired.  I’ll sleep in my doll form.”

“Okay!  We’ll play tomorrow, then!  Good night!”

“Good night!”

While Iris stayed up late, Orion simply could not sleep.  It was something that had been gradually happening to him for a while.  The older he got, the less he slept, and when he did, it was not restful in the way it had once been.  He dreamed, sometimes, and while those could be good or interesting, they weren’t always.  Focusing on space rocks like the meteorite that Eni Jish Xip gave him helped sometimes.  Other times he would just lie there trying to clear his mind.  He would feel alert and refreshed afterward, but it was strange, because it was not sleep.  He was awake and aware of what was going on around him the entire time.

He’d mentioned it to his parents in the days before his birthday, but the advice they had wasn’t helpful.  Boyd offered sympathy, and told him he had trouble sleeping at times, too, especially if he was keyed up about something.  He suggested a few things—hot drinks without caffeine, distraction, a bath.  But while those things were relaxing, they did not make Orion sleepy.  He knew he meant well, but his own inability to sleep was not like his dad’s, or any human’s, he suspected.  His father would fall sleep if he got tired enough.  Orion just didn’t.  Susan, meanwhile, advised Orion to try to relax as best he could, and let his body physically rest even if no sleep came.

The night after his birthday, Orion stayed up on the computer until late.  He signed up for the afterschool activities he wanted, and then chatted online.  Afterward, he went up to his new room.  Now that he and Iris were older, their parents renovated the third floor rec room into two rooms: a smaller rec room and a bedroom.  Iris kept the bedroom that they used to share for herself, with all new paint and new personal touches, while Orion got the new one upstairs.

His attempt to sleep once again proved fruitless, but letting his mind drift gave Orion a renewed sense of clarity and energy.  After a couple of hours, he got up and entertained himself with his sprite, January.  He’d unlocked some new forms and got better at it every day.  His personal goal was to unlock everything on it before anyone else.

In the early hours of the morning, he messed around on the chemistry table.  In addition to the “pee potion” he made a while back, he’d come up with more concoctions.  He hadn’t tested them all yet, but he imagined they’d be fun to try.  This time, he tried making one he’d seen online called Ninja Vanish.  One never knew when a quick disappearing act might be in order, after all.  He mused that Patrick could’ve used that the night of the party, although he snickered thinking that apparently his and Maria’s clothes had already taken it when Arlo Bunch walked in on them.

After breakfast but before school, Patrick worked on his newest project—a clay sculpture.  After they’d put away Iris’ old playpen, he’d asked to set up a sculpting station where it used to be.  He’d tried it out in art class and wanted to do more of it.  Boyd and Susan didn’t mind, as they supported Patrick’s creative endeavors, but they couldn’t help but think of what Susan read in Maria Wolff’s novel from the future.

“Guess Redd’s sculpting wasn’t creative license after all,” Susan remarked privately to Boyd where they chatted across the room.

“I’m sure at least some of it was, though.”  He wanted to reassure her as much as himself.  “Was he successful at it?”

“The character was an accomplished artist and musician.”  She looked over at Patrick.  “I just want him to be happy.  Not troubled, or angry, or…”

Boyd squeezed her hand.  “He’s fine.  He’s not,” he paused, and reworded his thoughts.  “He’s a teenager.  Mood swings and rebellion are part of it.  It’s normal.”

Susan glanced over her shoulder.  “It didn’t happen much with Blair.  The worst she ever got was a little moody and childish.  She never snuck out, or got in major trouble, or anything like that.”

“Probably because of all the time my mother babysat her during her formative years.  It put the fear of the Watcher into her that she’d better behave.  You remember Mom.  I was a pretty well-behaved kid, too, knowing the wrath I’d face if I wasn’t.”

“You weren’t that good, Boyd.  You just didn’t get caught at some things because your parents weren’t electronics nerds.  Same with me.  And we might not have snuck out or partied, but I remember a few teenage romance escapades on the sly.  Remember that night in your old UFO tree house?”

Boyd smirked at the memory.  “Hey, we didn’t get walked in on.  I’m just glad you forgave me for that, ah, unfortunate splinter you got.”

Although Patrick’s focus was on his art and he didn’t hear what his parents were saying, it didn’t take his genius IQ to know they were talking about him.  It set him on edge, especially because he caught the vibe that it was a concerned conversation, like the ones about Buddy, who they still didn’t believe existed except in his head.  Even after Orion told them he could hear Buddy, the fact that he couldn’t see him led them to conclude that Orion experienced something that Patrick did, but whether that was a separate being, or a manifestation from his mind, they weren’t sure.

“What are you making?”

Patrick pointed to the reference drawing with his hammer.  He didn’t want to answer aloud with his parents in the room.

“Oh, neat.  Still looks like a big block, though.”

“Now’s not a good time,” he muttered quietly enough that only Buddy would hear.

“Oh, the old farts are giving you a hard time again, huh?  Treating you like you’re nuts?”  He snickered.  “They should talk.”

“Heh.”  Patrick couldn’t say more, but Buddy was glad that he agreed.

“Well, since the geezers are being a pain, guess I’ll see you later.  Maybe I’ll short-sheet their bed while they’re at work.  Bet they’d blame that dumb maid, hah!”

Buddy went out through the patio doors, where Orion swam to the side of the pool.  After finishing on the chemistry table, he’d taken an early morning dip.  Buddy sneered at him as he passed.  “Well, well!  It’s Alien Boy, the drip, dripping wet.”

“Nothing better to do than bother me?  Even Patrick getting tired of you?”

Buddy was about to respond when he stopped in his tracks.  He sensed a presence, a new presence, one that made him feel oddly competitive.  Orion felt that presence too, and he paused mid-stroke on his way to the ladder as he tried to get a sense of it, while Buddy got downright agitated.  “What the… who is that?  Who is she?”

Orion’s puzzlement turned to amusement when he realized who the little girl whose voice he suddenly heard was.  A little girl laughing alongside a much more familiar voice—Iris’.  “I take it you haven’t met Patches.”

“Who the plum is Patches?!”

“I’d say ask Iris, but she’s lucky enough that she can’t hear you,” Orion said as he climbed out.  “She’s Iris’ doll.  Like you.”  Orion cast a sarcastic smile in the direction of Buddy’s voice.  “And from what I hear, a better model.”

“She is not, and there’s no one else like me!” Buddy retorted indignantly, his hands on his hips.

“Yeah, thank the Watcher.”  Orion picked up his towel and went inside.

When Iris woke up, she didn’t have to eat breakfast or do anything to get ready other than shower to water herself and get dressed.  Patches waited for her, ready to play before her first day of school.  They had a big giggly pillow fight before Iris had to leave.

“We can play more later when I get home,” Iris promised her.

“Maybe we could play outside?  Or at the pond across the street?  We could see if the unicorn’s been there!”

“That’d be cool.  I’ve never seen a unicorn before!  I didn’t even know they were really real!”

“They are!  And I love horses, so seeing a unicorn would be even better,” Patches said.

“As long as they don’t try to chew on my hair.  What if it tastes like grass?”

“I’d stop ‘em!  Nobody hurts my best friend.”  Patches bopped her with a pillow.  “Except in pillow fights.”

“No fair!”  Iris laughed.  “I already put mine down.”

“Sorry.”  Patches was still laughing.  “I had to!  But I’ll see you after school!”

“See you later!”  Iris waved as Patches transformed back into her inanimate doll form, and she went out to the bus.

“You’re ready for your first day, sweetie?  Remember everything we told you?”

“If I feel thirsty, ask to go to the water fountain because it’s important I stay watered.  Always sit by a window.  If someone has allergies or sneezes around me, don’t get close to them or touch their stuff.  Listen to the teachers, pay attention in class, and work hard.”

Susan was proud.  “Sounds like you’ve got it.  Good luck!”  She hugged her before she got on the bus.

School was a new experience for Iris, but she didn’t mind it.  Despite being the only plantsim, none of the other kids treated her differently, other than to ask innocent questions.  At recess, she played on the seesaw with Lester Sekemoto.  He told her his big brother Tom told him about her because he was friends with Patrick, and he’d met her at their party on Leisure Day.  After that, Iris showed Jeanine Andrews and Kristal Steel how she could make flowers.  They thought that was cool, and luckily, none of her classmates had allergies to her.

As for her classes, learning wasn’t hard and some of it was fun, but sitting inside the classroom for too long made her feel restless.  She managed, but the teacher had to remind her to stop staring out the window a few times.

As for Orion, high school wasn’t much of a change, other than more challenging classes and subjects.  He was with the same schoolmates as before, for the most part.  His old ballet partner, Tara Keaton, was in his science class, although he ended up sitting with Guillermo French as his lab partner.  He didn’t know Guillermo all that well, as he was a quiet type who kept to himself.

“Hi.”  Orion sat down and opened his notebook.

“Hi,” Guillermo replied.

“So, I heard we do a lot of chemistry experiments in this class, and brew formulas.  I wonder if it’s anything I haven’t already done at home.  If it isn’t, it’ll be an easy A, I guess.”

“Sounds like I lucked out for a lab partner, then.”  Guillermo became a little chattier once Orion initiated conversation.  “Your family’s all scientists, right?  Don’t know how much help I’ll be.  I’m okay at science, I guess, but my mom’s a cook.  Sure, I can make a killer batch of brownies, but…”

“I know a formula that if you stuck it in brownie mix, you’d never taste it until it was too late.  And it wouldn’t bake out when you cooked it, either.”

“Oh, no.  Not the old ex-lax trick?”  Guillermo grinned.  “I never knew anyone that actually did that.  Just heard of it.”

“Close, but let’s just say that’s not how you’d wind up in the bathroom.  But while you laugh hard watching the victim, you wouldn’t be the one wetting yourself.”

“Hah!  Seriously?  That’s funny, but… did you really do that to someone?”

“No.  There’s no one I don’t like enough to do that to.”  In truth, there was, but as far as he knew, Buddy didn’t eat, drink, or pee, and since he couldn’t see him, he wouldn’t be able to witness his indignity anyway.

After the last class of the day, Rachelle Steel approached Orion at his locker.  “Hey, do you know what room debate club is in?  I forgot.  I thought I wrote it down, but I can’t find where.”

That wasn’t an activity Orion took, but he knew it was down the hall from the gym because he’d seen a sign on the door.  “It’s in 113.”

“Oh, thank you!  You’re a lifesaver!  I feel so dumb when I forget stuff like that.”

“Dumb?”  Orion was surprised.  Rachelle was one of the handful of students that was honored along with him for excellent grades at elementary graduation.  “You were on the honor roll with me.”

“Well, not dumb that way, but you know what I mean.  It’s like, ugh, why am I such a doofus that I can’t remember something simple?  So, are you in debate club, too?”

“No.  I took sports club.  I saw the sign when we left gym earlier.”  She was in a few of his classes with him, both science and gym.  They had faced off in a soccer shootout that day.  He won, but she’d had a pretty nice kick, he’d noticed.

“Ah.  Well, I totally missed that.  Like I said, I’m such a doofus sometimes.”  She let out a nervous laugh.  “Thanks, though.”  She closed her locker.  “See you later.”

He smiled.  “See you later.”

Patrick passed by on his way out.  Normally Orion would’ve ridden home with his brother, but Patrick’s music club had a special award event in two hours, so he was going home to get ready for it while Orion went to his afterschool activity.  “Hey.”  Patrick noticed that Orion’s attention remained on Rachelle as she walked down the hall, and he followed his brother’s gaze.  “Not bad,” he remarked.  “She’s cute.  You should go for it.”

Orion straightened.  “It’s not like that.  She’s just someone I know from class.”

“Yeah.  That’s why you’ve got that dopey grin on your face and you’re only now looking at me and not her.  But okay.  Whatever you say.  I just wanted to make sure you still didn’t need a ride home before I left.  Don’t want to stick you with the bus if you don’t need it.”

“No, I’ve got a club today.”

“Okay.  Iris is doing her first scouts thing today, too, so she’ll also be on the late bus.  I’ve got to go shower and get dressed up.  Playing guitar with an expert.  I hope I don’t screw anything up.”

“Good luck!”

“Thanks.”  Patrick gave his brother a sly look.  “And good luck with your, uh, friend there.”


“Later!”  Patrick waved with a grin, and headed down the hall.

Although he was understandably nervous, Patrick’s music club event went well.  The famed guitarist, Andres von Butterfingerz, played for the students and listened to each of them perform a solo.  Every student was rewarded for participating, but they were told at the start that the one who played the best would get a signed golden record to hang on the wall.  Patrick was stunned, but honored, when he won it.  He knew he’d played well and didn’t think he made any major mistakes, but his classmates had also performed well.  Winning put Patrick’s mood and confidence through the roof.  Maria was thrilled for him and gave him a “first prize kiss” when they went for coffee afterward.  When he got home, the rest of his family also congratulated him.  He hung his award in his room with pride.

That was also the same night that Eni Jish Xip came to visit.  Everyone gathered in the living room when the time came.  Boyd did his best to put his personal issues aside as he invited her in.

“Greetings, Boyd Wainwright.  It is good to see you again.  You look well.”

“Thanks.  Come in.  Orion’s looking forward to seeing you.”  Boyd led her inside.  Iris, who had been too young to remember her last time, looked at her in amazement.  She’d never seen anyone that looked so much like Orion before.  Her parents had explained who Eni Jish Xip was before she arrived, but it was still a shock.  Susan regarded Eni Jish Xip politely, while Patrick did the same.

“She looks less weird in that alien space suit than in that crazy banana head getup she wore last time,” Buddy remarked, and he had to agree.

Orion was both excited and anxious.  Although he wanted to learn about his alien heritage and Sixam, and Eni Jish Xip had been kind to him when they met, he couldn’t help but remember her last visit.  Since then, Orion had come to terms with what he learned that day, but he didn’t know how to feel about his alien kin.  Knowing how profoundly his father was affected by the abduction made it hard not to be a little wary of them, even though he got no sense that Eni Jish Xip had sinister or ulterior motives.

She greeted him warmly.  “Orion Wainwright, you have grown into a strong and thriving youth.  I am glad to see you looking so vital and… human-like.  You are the first Sixam hybrid I have seen with such hair.  I knew the human ones often grow it, but I had not seen it myself before.  We are not often permitted contact with human-bound Earth Children of Sixam.  Our technicians generally just study them from afar.”

“Well… I am half human.”  Orion was not sure what to say, but he didn’t want to be rude.

“And you live here among them.  It was intended as a compliment.  You appear to be happy living a human life.  It is what we hope for with each Earth Child of Sixam raised by their human parent.”  She eyed him curiously.  “I see you still wear reflective eye covering.  Does your vision require correction like your father, or are your eyes simply light-sensitive?”

“People stare sometimes.  I mean, not that they don’t stare already with me being green and all, but the eyes really get some of them.  The ones who don’t know me.”  He shrugged.  “Besides, I think they look cool.”

“I see.  Well, I am glad your eyes are not malfunctioning.  There is a procedure to fix it that I could have probably cleared for you, but it requires extensive documentation due to regulations.”

While Boyd bitterly wondered how many alien bureaucrats it took to approve him being abducted and experimented on, Susan just remarked, “Nice to know red tape is universal.”

Eni Jish Xip laughed.  “Indeed, Susan Wainwright.”  She turned to Orion.  “I am pleased you are doing well.  I imagine you must have questions now that you are reaching maturity.  Our bodies go through many physiological changes during adolescence, and there are differences between you and your human family.”

“Other than the freak-green skin and random hair growth?” Buddy sneered, but Patrick elbowed him to be quiet.

“I can hear things others can’t.  Some are pretty annoying,” Orion said on a pointed note.

“You mean the thoughts of others?  Your telepathic abilities?”

“Something like that.  I guess, also, things like that are on a different, I don’t know, level or plane or something?”

“That is typical.  With proper focus, you can learn to experience either more or less of it, whichever you prefer.  Use your meditative abilities, as I imagine you do now when you rest.  You are at the age where you need to recharge.”

“If you mean sleeping, I don’t.  I can’t.”

“We do not sleep past childhood, Orion Wainwright.  That is normal.  You merely need to focus your mind to keep it and your body sharp.  Our physiology has a physical advantage that way.  Your human genes may cause you to tire faster, but it will still work the same.  Much of our genetic makeup is similar.  It is why we can create hybrids such as yourself.  We reproduce similarly, too.  Has your human family explained that to you?”

Boyd had to bite back the urge to say that yes, Orion was aware that he could not go around abducting and experimenting on hapless individuals to impregnate them, while Orion tried to avoid a sex education talk even more awkward than the one Boyd gave him teaching him the birds and the bees.  “Uh, yeah, that’s been gone over already, thanks.  I know how it works.”

“Wonderful.  I will only say, then, in case your human educators are not aware, we of Sixam are genetically compatible with humans even without being hybrids.  You could mate with any fertile human of your choice, so you should have no trouble procreating when the time comes.  We encourage all of our Earth Children of Sixam to have families if they desire, with as many different mates as they like.  Variety is good for the gene pool.”

Buddy laughed.  “Pfft.  Like Alien Boy’s going to have even one girlfriend, looking like that.”

Orion’s eyes narrowed behind his sunglasses, but he ignored Buddy while answering Eni Jish Xip.  “Okay.”

She sensed his awkward feeling and moved on.  “Very well.  Do you have any other questions?  Perhaps about meditation, or bio boosting or draining?”  When Orion gave her a puzzled look, she explained that was their ability to heal.  As it turned out, they could also weaken others with their powers as well as strengthen them.  “But I urge you not to drain anyone out of negative emotion.  Not only will it fatigue you, but it is almost universally considered cruel.  There are times it is necessary, but it is something that should only be done with a clear mind, conscience, and purpose.  On Sixam it is considered akin to physical violence.  I imagine your Earth custom would be no different.”

“You imagine correctly,” Boyd said.

“It seems you’re learning our customs,” Susan remarked.  “Is that why you’re an ambassador now?”

“Indeed!  I have been in training.  After I reported what happened during my last visit and expressed my concern about our lack of understanding of certain Earth customs, they appointed me to a position to gather that valuable knowledge.”

“I see.  Congratulations, then.”

“Yeah.  Good luck with it,” added Boyd.

“Thank you, Susan Wainwright and Boyd Wainwright.  Your sincerity is appreciated.  Especially since it was you, Boyd Wainwright, that I upset so badly last time.  I apologize again for that.”

“Thanks.  I appreciate it.”

“And now I would like to present Orion Wainwright with the gift I brought.  On Sixam, his age is an important milestone of independence and transitioning to adulthood.  I understand that here on Earth, the freedom to travel independently is celebrated at this age, so I brought something that will allow him to do so quite efficiently.  It is in your backyard, if you will follow me.”

Curious, Orion and the others followed Eni Jish Xip through the house and out the back doors, where a small spacecraft hovered in the lawn between the pool and the greenhouse.

“Holy llama!”  Orion ran over to it with the others in tow.

“Is that a spaceship?!”  Patrick was amazed.

“You got him a spaceship?”  Boyd was equally shocked, while Susan gasped.

“It’s amazing!”

“That’s so cool!”  Iris jumped up.

Eni Jish Xip beamed.  “I am glad you are all pleased.  Indeed, Orion Wainwright, this is yours.  It is a Galaxa Space Car.  It is very simple to pilot and responds to simple voice commands.  Here is a manual for its maintenance and upkeep.”  She handed him a tablet.

Orion was already halfway in it, while Patrick just shook his head.  “Man, and I thought I got a cool car on my birthday!  Orion, you’ve got to let me try that.”

“In due time, big brother.  But this is my spaceship!”

Boyd joined Orion’s side.  “Just a minute.  You don’t have a license for that, or even for a regular car yet.  Let’s not just jump right in and go flying.”  He grinned.  “At least not without me riding shotgun.  You know.  For safety.”

“Shotgun in a spaceship?  What happened to ladies first?” protested an equally eager Susan.  “You wouldn’t leave Mom behind, would you?”

“Yeah, ladies first!” Iris said.  “And I’m small and won’t take up hardly any space!”

Orion laughed.  “You’ll all get rides, I promise.  But if it’s okay… I’d like to try it solo first.”

After some brief instruction from Eni Jish Xip, Orion got in and took off.  It was surprisingly simple to fly, and it lifted off smoothly into the air.  Eni Jish Xip explained that while it was spaceworthy, for now it was programmed to stay within safe flying limits in Earth’s atmosphere.  Space travel was only for experienced pilots, she warned, although she said that those restrictions could be removed from it in the future.

Orion took his new spaceship for a cruise around the local air space, amazed.  Riding around in it was not only fun, but he also felt a connection to his Sixam heritage in a way he rarely experienced, except when focusing on meteorites.  It left him exhilarated and excited.

When he got back to the mansion, his family waved for him to land on the rooftop deck.  They had shifted the bench and telescope off to one side so the Galaxa could be parked up there.  Although it was narrow, he managed to maneuver it onto the small deck, and he climbed out to the cheers of his family.

“Excellent piloting, Orion Wainwright.  I knew you would have little difficulty.”

“My son has a spaceship!  That’s awesome!”  Boyd clapped, while Susan laughed with him.

“How was it?  You’ve got to tell us all about it!”

“Or better yet, give us rides!” said Patrick.

“Yeah!” echoed Iris.

“I will, I will!”

Eni Jish Xip smiled.  “I am glad you like it so much.  But if you do not mind waiting a little longer, I only have a brief time left for this visit, and there are a few more things I would like to discuss with Orion Wainwright.”

“Sure, that’s fine.”  Orion looked at his parents.  “Right?”

Boyd nodded.  “Of course.”

Eni Jish Xip removed a meteorite from the space car’s storage compartment and went inside with Orion.  “You have been focusing on these like I instructed, right?”

“Yeah.  They help me with that mediation thing I do instead of sleep.”

“They are useful for that.  But in a pinch, we can also consume their energy.  Watch.”

Orion did as she asked, and was amazed to see her levitate it, focus on it, and engulf it in a beam of telekinetic energy.  It spun and whirled, and to Orion’s shock, it slowly but steadily diminished in size until it was gone.  “There are several geological specimens that can refuel our brain power in this way.  Your parents’ lab has a good stock of them.”

Boyd and Susan, who came in along with Iris, Patrick, Buddy, and Patches, watched but otherwise did not interrupt them until they were mentioned.  “We do,” Susan said, although it was clear she was not comfortable with the idea that the aliens knew the lab’s inventory.  Boyd felt the same.

Eni Jish Xip met Orion’s eyes, and somehow without words being spoken, aloud or telepathically, she imparted the understanding of how she did what she’d just done.  Orion also realized that he now understood how to bio boost and drain, and how to manipulate the vibrations of the rocks as well as absorb them.  He glanced over at his room, focused, and one of his small space rocks flew through the open door to his hand.

“Excellent!  I see you understand how to use your abilities now.  You have a great intellect and keen reflexes.”  He heard her voice in his mind.  Be mindful of the size of the rocks you summon.  As your powers hone, your strength and range will increase.  I do not want harm to come to you or anyone you care about.

I will, Orion thought back, and she put her hands on his shoulders.

“I believe I have taught you all I can at this time, Orion Wainwright.  I am pleased you are doing so well, and I have no doubt you will continue to do so.”  She turned to Boyd and Susan.  “Boyd Wainwright and Susan Wainwright, thank you for allowing me the chance to interact with Orion Wainwright.  Your son is a fine Earth Child of Sixam and on behalf of my people, we are proud to count him among our kind.”  Eni Jish Xip stepped back.  “My allotted time here is up, and I must return to the ship now.”

“Okay.”  Orion was disappointed.  Although the visit had been awkward at first, he now felt more comfortable around her, and still had so many questions.  “Will you ever come back?”

“I will try, but visits are difficult to schedule.  Our appearances on Earth are heavily restricted, even for an ambassador.”

“Yet they let me walk around like no big deal?”

“I’m still not sure I even get why that is,” Boyd admitted.  “But from how she explained it when you were born, if the human who has you wants you to stay, you’re considered an Earth citizen.”

“That is correct, Boyd Wainwright,” she confirmed as they walked her out the front door.  “Our approved interactions with Earth citizens are strictly regulated.”  They paused on the sidewalk.  “I would like to say that I very much enjoyed this visit and hope to arrange another one in the future.  I wish you well, Wainwright family.  Orion Wainwright, take care of yourself and congratulations on your aging milestone.”  She waved.  “Goodbye.”

“Bye.”  Orion waved back while Boyd and Susan also said their goodbyes, and Patrick and Iris also waved.

Eni Jish Xip tapped her wrist, and she disappeared in a teleporter beam.

“Well, it’s been quite a night, hasn’t it?” remarked Susan.

“Yeah, it sure has.”  Orion laughed.  “I can’t believe it.  All the stuff I learned, and… I have a spaceship!”

“That’s the coolest part!” said Iris.

“Yeah, I’d say so,” agreed Patrick.

“You are going to be careful with that, right?  Not going to scare me into a heart attack taking crazy risks in it?”

“No, Dad.  I won’t.”

Boyd smiled.  “But I will get a ride in it… maybe now?”

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll take crazy risks?” Orion teased.

“Well, I’ve already got plenty of gray hair.  What’s a few more?”

“All right.  Come on.”

“That’s my boy.”  Boyd hugged him, and they headed back to the rooftop deck.

Patrick hurried after them.  “Dibs on the second ride!”

“Nope.  Sorry,” Susan interjected with a grin.  “I’m pulling rank, and I’ve got seniority.  I go after your father.”

“Oh, fine.”

“Aw, that means I’ll have to go last,” Iris pouted.

“There’s an upside to that,” Patches whispered beside her as they skipped behind Patrick, who was right with his parents on Orion’s heels.


“You get to stay up late,” Patches pointed out.

“Yeah, I do!”  Iris ran to catch up, and the Wainwrights’ night of joyriding in a space car for the first time officially got underway.

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #239 on: April 27, 2018, 02:52:41 AM »
I enjoyed this update immensely. (Do I say that every time?)
It's so fun watching Orion and Iris growing up! You depict their unusual presence at school so realistically.
Some things I never considered before:
* Iris resembles Susan, but does Orion similarly resemble Boyd?
* I've forgotten who Boyd's "perp" was and assume it wasn't Eni Jishi Yip. Has Boyd ever met or communicated, even indirectly, with his pollinator?
   (In Sims 4, I recently noticed that Senior Pollinator Tech #3 appears in her brood's relationship panels but not for her abductees.)

Also, I will need to go back someday soon to re-read your chapter describing that novel by Maria (or her descendant?). My memory is so hazy!!!
How great that Eni has developed some cultural sensitivity around the Wainwrights.
I was absolutely tickled by the excitement of Orion and his entire family over her gift to Orion of a spacecraft.
Is it too early to start shipping Orion and Rachelle? hehe