Author Topic: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty - The Open Sky (8/31/19)  (Read 7049 times)

Offline Deme

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Thank you! I do love sim weddings. Just sappy, sappy speeches all the way home (And Kestral, refusing to look away from the prize. It's so wonderful having a sim who can justify all your weird game-play decisions in-universe. Would recommend....Though I suppose a lot of simmers get that sort of vibe from inserting the watcher.)

And I also want to, sincerely, thank you. I have a few friends I ask to read this and tell me their thoughts, but your comments do a lot to help keep this story feeling like it's worth sharing, and I really appreciate that.


Addendum: So, this story had a very near miss in the recent past! Back on, oh, Sunday I think it might have been, maybe Saturday, the weekend was a rough haze for me... My laptop, which had been the device on which I played this game, died abruptly! Yipes. Once the panic died down, though, it turned out that my saves, most of my notes, and my screenshots were all on the cloud, and things are running just fine on my new laptop. But geeze was I worried!
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"All This Feelings Junk" (6/16/18)
« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2018, 11:27:32 PM »
Chapter 7: All This Feelings Junk

So, the wedding had another little story, right? The sun is setting slowly over the party. Miko wants to socialize, I’m taking care of the bar. It’s been a perfect wedding. And up walks Gino, a little slower than usual.


“I got my notice today,” he said with a little sigh. “Time to get the ol’ affairs in order.”
Now, I could ask the reasonable question, which is whether he was just going to take that lying down. But I’d wreck my whole gig.

“That’s rough. Anything I can do with that?”

“Probably not. I’ve been enjoying the liveliness! I’ve been enjoying the company… All the company, if you understand me. I’ve got a little boy, you know. Julian.”

“Congrats!” So, this glass for my sympathetic bartender shtick has gotten really, really clean in the time I spent waiting for him to say anything more. “What’s your drink, Gino? I’ll make you a double.”

“I don’t think you can make a double of a Sour Punch, but sure! I’ll give it a shot!” This gets a smile out of the old guy, at least.

“If someone told you that, they’re just afraid to try. If it’s double the liquor, it counts. Break out a taller glass.” I start mixing it up as he settles back down and says, into the silence:

“Have you ever really wondered about what it means to get your affairs in order?”

“I refuse.”

“Fair enough, little missus,” he shakes his head. “What I mean is… Let’s say you love someone. Like you’ve never loved anyone.”

“Like you love Mila,” because there’s no such thing as a real hypothetical anymore. Also, because I just got married, so, you know.

“She’s a wonderful lady! A hard worker! A sweet woman. And it’s...it’s real fun. Just being around her.” The promised drink arrives at his seat. “Maybe I’m just being sentimental, on account of your wedding. Sweet wedding… But there are things I’d like to say to a woman like that… But then I’d leave her a widow, just like that! That seem fair to you? Is it settling my affairs to go all in -- or to keep things settled?”


“I think you asked me because you know what you want -- and if you didn’t want to do it, you wouldn’t even need to be asking this question. If she won’t be happy, she’ll say no. If that’s fine with her, she’ll say yes. Go get her, tiger.”

I won’t ask why he was in PJs. I think he might have slept through the start of the party.

“Oh, yeah! No moving her in!” I shout after him.



“Mila! I’m glad you came!”

“It’s always a delight. And a fine sartorial choice you’ve made, dear.”

“Every party can be a pajama party if you want it to be! Besides, it’s a perk of being an old guy.”

“I’ll have to try it sometime.”

“ I want to ask you something. It’s important.” He takes a deep breath, holds it a while. “We both know we -- there’s just not enough room for us to ever live together.”

She nods, sadly.

“But all the same: you’re a beautiful, excitin’ part of my life. And I want everyone to know it. I want you to know it, now and forever, from the bottom of my heart.”



“So I’m asking you to marry me.”

“Oh!”

“Oh?” A little waver in his voice tells its own story. But then the ring is swept up onto her finger, dazzling.



“Don’t worry! Yes, of course I’ll marry you!”

“Arright! Off we go to the arch!”

“Right now?”

“Life is short! Up you go!”



“Gino!” She says it like a scolding, but then the lift throws her head back; her laughter throws her head back, her braid draped over his arms. “Hahahaha! You stallion! This can’t be good for your back.”

“...No,” he admitted, in a slightly strained voice. “Not really.”

“I can walk there just fine.”

“We’ll run, then,” he said, swinging her back down.



And so they end up running; when Mila runs by I can hear her making a noise somewhere between a pant and a laugh, outpaced by a man a whole life stage ahead of her.

“I -- I didn’t think of myself as the marrying kind. I’ve got to admit, I don’t know what to say.”



“Except that I love you. And I didn’t think my heart would be settled, not if you weren’t sure of that. I’ve seen the sea in a million moods, I’ve fought fish the size of me! But I feel like this, right here -- you, right here --  is the most thrilling, amazing thing I’m going to find, and my… Well. My biggest catch.”


“I think that’s just right. I’m honestly very surprised. I’ve thought of myself as, oh, splendidly lucky; lucky to have loved someone once, and with him having a wonderful family. If that was all the love allotted to me, I’d have been happy.” She guides his hand into hers. The dusk between them is bridged. There’s an outside world, sure, but it was miles away.  “You’ve given me far, far more than my share. No matter how long it lasts, I’m so happy to share my love with you, to share a family with you.”



“As long as we both shall live,” Gino said, his voice breaking huskily over the sentiment, like water over river rocks. “...And as long as you care to remember.”
“As long as you’ll have us,” she answers.


“I now pronounce us man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”


And Gino Levin and Mila Munch marry alone in the dusk; I think they liked the privacy, a little moment -- a series of moments -- carved out just for the two of them, like the sudden elopement of young lovers.

When the night’s gone very still and dark, and the party’s dispersed, Gino goes out fishing again.

And maybe the fish sense something; maybe there’s something a little faster to the twitch of his fishing rod, a lightness to his step that doesn’t drive away the fish. How should I know?

But apparently, a newlywed can catch a lot of fish when he’s happy; he fills out his first aquarium’s worth of angelfish.


I can just tend my bar in the night, and I’ve got to laugh. I’m in such a sappy mood. All this feelings junk. It’s really alright.

Mila probably understands just how short time is running there. Sure, active might add a little extra. It might not.
But this is probably why, the next day, they go out to celebrate, and spend a little time together. And I came, too.


Oh, and Zest is here with a pretty thing. He has embraced this philosophy of bad humor and fairly white-bread debauchery.

Me? Miko’s at work. So I’m just here for the pictures of experimental food!

Don’t know if I’ll keep the experimental food pictures as a museum thing. They’re not worth a whole lot. But hey! It’s an idea for now.


The actual happy couple gets their own table, away from this whole business. As they deserve, and can talk about this and that -- more sailing stories, Mila’s first three kids: little Julian, too.
“Of course, I do intend to make his food. I think it’s an important touch, even when you’re just considering baby food.”
“That boy’s going to be spoiled rotten! I need to come see him.”
“...You do.”

Before we leave,  Johnny tells me he picked up some Lilies and Snapdragons. How good!

Just after dinner, because when you’ve resigned yourself to the so-called “fact,” like you’re just going to take what’s given to you even when that’s losing, you know, existing, you’ve got to gamble on when the last time is, she invites Gino to the chateau.

Well... I can’t think there’s anything wrong with making every second count.

 and I’m there, too, because I hate being left behind when people are out and about. Gets me behind on all the good gossip. Besides, my wife gets to come join when she’s done working. I’ve got seconds to make count, too.

And we can enjoy some time together. Just me, her…


“And the tickle monster!”
“Ahahaha~ Ow, my sides! Ahahahah Hey, that’s not -- Miko!”

I’ll have to get payback!

And a powerful smooching, to close out the night peacefully.

Little did I know, the true horror that awaited me in the morning…

“Akira Kibo, what is that?” Whatever it is, it’s going in the blackmail folder.
“Casual friday?”
“Too casual. Put it back.”


I can get another turn closer -- yeah, that’s right, another mixology level. They certainly fly by… This is a solid 7: nothing to worry about but hitting the career branch for this level.

Later that day, Gino stops by our dear neighbor’s to see his son.

“Hey there, little man. Hey there… Look at you. How tiny! You’ve got to grow up big and strong, alright? And be good for your mom, OK? What else… Oh. Yeah.” He bounces the boy up once more, and holds him as tight as he can. “I love you. Remember that.”

Julian probably would never remember this moment. It’s all kind of unfair, isn’t it? Well, that’s why I’m getting out.

Miko’s giving stuff some thought. Because she heard about that, and she let out the biggest, goopiest “Awwwww” you’ve ever heard.

I know it looks like she’s mopping, but that is a zone right there, and she is in it.
“Alright! Bathroom’s washed! Dishers are in the dishwasher! Teapot’s clean! I am doing my best thinking, I am living my best life! ...What do I want?”

She takes a deep breath, and she smiles a big, bright smile.


“Keeestraaal~ Are you ready?”
“I think we’re ready. Soo… The marriage bed’s still pretty new. We might still need to… Try it out.”
“And try for a bit more than that, teehee.”

That’s right. We think the days off are getting decent; the pay’s getting manageable.


“Yes!”
We’re going to have a baby!
Stories In Progress:
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Offline oshizu

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"All This Feelings Junk" (6/16/18)
« Reply #27 on: June 16, 2018, 11:57:44 PM »
First of all, yes, your story is very much worth sharing.
I love Kestral's sassy narration, the playful stream-of-consciousness dialogue which is as silly as it is thoughtful, and the many lovely screenshots and great facial expressions.
it's always a pleasure to notice that you've updated!
Also, I'm so glad to hear that you, Kestral's story, and the images survived your recent laptop catastrophe. What a close call!

Oh, the somber, serious and senior romance of Gino and Milo, in the wake of the giddy, giggly, also serious, but oh-so-much-younger romance of Kestral and Miko.
Mila's relationship with Gino makes me like Mila a lot more than I ever have.
Amidst all the poignant carpe diem moments, Akira in his...what outfit is that? Please remind me: is he a roommate along with Johnny Zest?
Kestral looks fabulous in her tuxedo. I was wondering what she'd say while looking that awesome and I got: So I’m just here for the pictures of experimental food!
Hah!

So excited about Kestral and Miko expecting!!!

Offline MarianT

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"All This Feelings Junk" (6/16/18)
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2018, 08:47:47 AM »
Such a sweet story about Gino and Mila. Good to see that Kestral and Miko are bringing in the next generation.
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Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"All This Feelings Junk" (6/16/18)
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2018, 09:51:39 PM »
First of all, yes, your story is very much worth sharing.
I love Kestral's sassy narration, the playful stream-of-consciousness dialogue which is as silly as it is thoughtful, and the many lovely screenshots and great facial expressions.
it's always a pleasure to notice that you've updated!
Also, I'm so glad to hear that you, Kestral's story, and the images survived your recent laptop catastrophe. What a close call!

Oh, the somber, serious and senior romance of Gino and Milo, in the wake of the giddy, giggly, also serious, but oh-so-much-younger romance of Kestral and Miko.
Mila's relationship with Gino makes me like Mila a lot more than I ever have.
Amidst all the poignant carpe diem moments, Akira in his...what outfit is that? Please remind me: is he a roommate along with Johnny Zest?
Kestral looks fabulous in her tuxedo. I was wondering what she'd say while looking that awesome and I got: So I’m just here for the pictures of experimental food!
Hah!

So excited about Kestral and Miko expecting!!!

Thank you! It's really very nice to hear. I basically feel the same way about Gino and Mila; I hadn't really given her much thought before this story, but I think, on the whole, that I am very glad she's a part of it; It's a really sweet, sentimental thing, seeing these two kind of unexpected characters happy, riding atop by and large the game's happenstance (the wish to marry her was Gino's own whim, and there; there, I personally just melted.)

Also, yes! I moved Akira in with Miko, so Kestral doesn't really care much about them, but he and Johnny are both housemates. And pollinators, though each for their own reasons.


Such a sweet story about Gino and Mila. Good to see that Kestral and Miko are bringing in the next generation.

Thanks! I'm looking forward to introducing them!
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The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"A Tiny Social Hailstorm" (6/17/18)
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2018, 09:54:32 PM »
Chapter 8: A Tiny Social Hailstorm


“We’re having a baby!”
“Generation Two is en route!”
“...Kestral,” Miki reminds me. “Our kid should be allowed to be a kid, alright? I want you to remember that.”
“Don’t worry. Don’t worry.” Sure, I’ve got some ambitious plans, and they’ll have requirements to do, but there’ll be plenty of time for lemonade stand schemes and the like.


Of course, we’re going to need space for a kid, and while my house is looking more like *my house*, I’ve got to admit… That nearly bankrupted us. A really fleshed-out nursery will have to wait.


“OK, so. Mila really is keeping it up with spending time, so Gino gets to see his son as a toddler with the some nice green eyes.


“‘Vroom! Vroom!’
“‘Vwoom!’
“Mila’s house down the road was filled for a while with the sound of father and son. He’s trying to cover the kid’s bases a little. Some playtime…


“Some basic education… Telling him to eat his fruits and veggies (and, I swear, if he’s telling that kid to eat lemons I will give up on the world), and asking for their names back.
“‘Brocci!’
“‘Good try!’

“And, well… Just...

“‘C’mere, Julian. I think I know a boy who’s earned a hug!’
“‘Love you, daddy!’
‘Me, too.’

“Just being there, I guess. Well, that and getting a little busy. He was wandering her house in his pajamas when he went down the hall to see the second one. Little Kate. See, someone apparently has good name sense.



“...She was so tiny. Like, really tiny… You think… Our kid’ll be that small, Miko?”


I’m lying on the grass, telling her that story -- I like telling stories like this, what can I say? And that’s what I ask.

“Maybe; I was a really little baby, too!” Her hands mark the space out, maybe about a foot and a half? And then those hands slide back onto her stomach with a wistful little smile. “As long as the size is healthy, it should be fine if they’re a little on the Tom Thumb/Thumbalina side.”

“...You think we’ll be that good?” I ask what I really wanted to, then. I’m trying to not just swallow the question, because of course we’ll be good. Of course we’ll be fine. I’ve got this, like I’ve got to.

“We’ll have love. The power of love can never be defeated!”

“Yeah, why not.”



Well, however we look at it, he’s still on a row with his angelfish, working on tank #2.

As for me, personally? Well, for the past little while I’ve started a club for keeping me pumped! Encouraging me to go forward! We got pretty far with me practicing drink-mixing as a club activity, but you know what the downside is?


Maximiliano here, who I love for his hair, dirtying up my bar. My bar! My practice metaphorical bar! Stop making drinks there! 

I had to set up my portable bar and lure him off of mine, or he’d never leave it alone. My poor baby.

As for some of our other members of the household...

It’s me, shocker, I know.




And Zest’s spliced our prizes: these plants will grow me pomegranates and orchids, bringing us toward the final stretch.
“I’m proud of you, Zest. You’ve done me a fine service.”
“You’re welcome. It’s a nice break from the standing in front of a mic forever. I don’t mind the practice, but sometimes the monotony leaves me in a bad… humor! Eh? Eh?” He has learned to wiggle his eyebrows. Points.
“...I’ll pretend that’s an improvement, Zest.” Deep breath. Be responsible about this. Don’t crush the guy while his aspirations grinding the slow, slow grind.
“You’re not doing a very good job, Kestral. Do you wake up in the morning and think ‘I think I’m going to freeze one of my best friends out under a tiny social hail storm!’?”

OK, now, that image? Actually kind of funny.
“Keep it up, Zest. Keep it up.”


The bonuses from my promotion are enough to get us rolling on a real nursery. Miko’s getting about ready to pop, so we’re just in time!


“So much for tiny. More to love, huh?” I do not sound soppy, or sentimental, or impressed at all. Promise.
“I hope you mean the baby!” Miko mock-pouts.
“You tell yourself whatever you want, dear. Something-something-never-be-defeated, right?” We both have a little chuckle about that. I think the baby does, too -- “Hey, that’s the kick! Hey there, kiddo. You be nice to your mother.”
“Huh. We’ll have to figure out what we want them to call us. ‘Mother’’s a little stuffy for a cute girl like me, don’t you think? I could be like how I called my mother. I’ll think about it, though!”
“Let me know what you pick. I can’t say I’m particular.”

While I’m at work (and I know this because I do not miss the good gossip), Miko and Akira end up talking a little. They haven’t for a couple of days, so it’s kind of a relief. Not that I talk to him more often than that. I’m busy.


“I feel like trash about...back then.” is what he started at. Now, despite my claims, I do not have the gossip for ‘back then.’ Might have to snoop. “I want to apologize. I should have respected you more.”

“Yes, you should have,” Miko says, her paintbrush swiping across the canvas. The baby is restless tonight, and she winces for a moment.

“You’re not like other people. I… I guess I just wish there was someone I could trust. Where the moment I turn my head, they’re not going to do who-knows-what with who-knows-who. Where I could be sure, deep down.”

“...I think you should give people a chance. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a real happiness.”

He sighs, leaning his head to the cool computer screen. The screen flashes just a little under his forehead.

“I don’t want to give trust that’s just going to be broken. When you’re really with the one, you should know. But. This isn’t about me. I wanted to say I’m sorry. And, Miko… That I hope we can be friends again sometime.”

Miko almost leaps to it -- very nearly answers right away. And then, she stops.

“I’d like that -- but we’ll have to put a rain check, OK?... Or. Nnh! a water break check. Anyway.”

Just as I walk in the door, the baby starts coming, and we start rushing out to the hospital in a flurry of shouts and taxis. And adjusting taxi seats. And getting my hand crushed.


“Oooh… Nnnh. Baby, you are not… Making it easy… To get to the doctor!” Miko’s trying to keep a good sense of humor, even now.  I’m glad I got home in time. I am. Sure. I’m not freaked out at all…Well… Maybe a bit.



I follow after her and the doctor into a surgery room, where things get down to delivering -- to delivering my heir. My generation two. My accomplice.


“Um, is that supposed to be involved? Because it looks like a bottle of glue. Does there need to be glue? Ahaha -- ahhh!”

If the doctor weren’t a quack!

Who lets a ghost deliver a baby  -- they’ve already lost at keeping people alive: THEM! They have noped out! They have anti-lifed! This is the opposite of what you want, medically!


My wife’s heart is supposed to be inside her!

But after all the fuss, and all the screaming, there he is.

Our second generation, Kite Avyan.


“Welcome to the world, my precious little one! I think you’re gonna like it here. It’s really something amazing… Just like you.”


 I thought I had it all under control; but he turns his head into my chest, and despite my better efforts, there’s nothing I can do but fall apart. He’s so perfect, my boy. He’s heavier than I thought he’d be, a warm weight, all surrender in his sleep. All tender, delicate trust. Something I never want to lose; something I never have to.
 
“Strap in, kiddo. Because we’re in this together, all the way.”
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Online Trip

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"All This Feelings Junk" (6/16/18)
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2018, 11:13:59 PM »
Kes in her tux plus Miko in her business suit is such a butch/femme power look. I love it. As much as I hate the first old pollinator dying. With few exceptions you want just another day, even if just emotionally.

AND you posted again while I was writing this. God I forgot about all the tender moments that come with an immortal dynasty. The founder finally not being alone and having a squishy baby heir is one of my faves of the early days.

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Offline oshizu

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"A Tiny Social Hailstorm" (6/17/18)
« Reply #32 on: June 17, 2018, 11:17:09 PM »
Welcome to the world, Kite Avyan!
I should have guessed earlier with a family name like Avyan, but I'm almost certain now you'll be going for all bird names.

Johnny lives in a world of his own mostly, while Akira seems like such a needy bloke.
Gino and his little boy--I'd never seen that pink icon with the goo-goo eyes.
I was worrying that Gino and Mila's kids might not age up to teens before Mila's time, then realized that her three boys still live there. Phew!

I chuckled that Kestral used a cheaper portable bar to lure a clubmate away from her practice bar.
Bars are so irresistible to sims, aren't they?

Awww, the final shot of Kestral with her heir! <3

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"A Tiny Social Hailstorm" (6/17/18)
« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2018, 08:41:33 PM »
Kes in her tux plus Miko in her business suit is such a butch/femme power look. I love it. As much as I hate the first old pollinator dying. With few exceptions you want just another day, even if just emotionally.

AND you posted again while I was writing this. God I forgot about all the tender moments that come with an immortal dynasty. The founder finally not being alone and having a squishy baby heir is one of my faves of the early days.

It's a great look! I think Miko might like something more colorful for it, but it really is a nice image.
And yeah...It's a sweet little moment; one of the things I like about the IC is specifically the degree of sap one can get, pairing deaths and infinite lives. (Yeah... I was surprised Gino lasted this long, and yet, it's never quite long enough.)

Welcome to the world, Kite Avyan!
I should have guessed earlier with a family name like Avyan, but I'm almost certain now you'll be going for all bird names.

Johnny lives in a world of his own mostly, while Akira seems like such a needy bloke.
Gino and his little boy--I'd never seen that pink icon with the goo-goo eyes.
I was worrying that Gino and Mila's kids might not age up to teens before Mila's time, then realized that her three boys still live there. Phew!

I chuckled that Kestral used a cheaper portable bar to lure a clubmate away from her practice bar.
Bars are so irresistible to sims, aren't they?

Awww, the final shot of Kestral with her heir! <3


Yup! Birds all the way down!

Having two different pollinators at once is a fun exercise for me, character-wise, coming up with different ways to follow a similar, if subtly different, course. As for Mila's age and how that impacts the kids' lives... It also does help that pregnant sims don't advance in age; all those days add up pretty heavily, and where I am now, Mila's still an adult and I wouldn't be surprised if Julian's teen birthday would be within a day or so. So the kids are perfectly safe, even not factoring in the original Munch kids.

Bars are irrestitable when it's an a club activitiy! Not a great idea, really, but I wanted Kestral to be able to gain points without doing anything different, at least for a while. And hey, it got Rally the Troops fast.
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline Deme

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Chapter 9: We All Have Our Own Accomplishments

Kite’s mostly a quiet baby -- and man, that’s a relief. Right now, I’ve got my mixology I want to work on.


Level 8 flies by; even if I have to pack up my bags and go bringing the portable bar places. Like our neighbor’s, Because Gino wants to  spend some time with his family in general and specifically to meet the newest of his kids, Soren. Yeah, there was another one.

“Calm down, Gino, I thought elders were supposed to be careful about their woo-hoo,” I joke.
And he laughs uproariously. Head back, deep from the belly, rocking his kid until he giggles.

“Guess I’m a late bloomer.”
Soren’s about Kite’s age, so that’s something I want to remember. And not the only one, for that matter.


Kate’s another sweet brown-haired, green-eyed toddler these days, shouting for her “da.” I’ll want to keep an eye on this family. As thanks for Gino’s help, right? Hahaha.


Fire-breathing tricks are fine around toddlers, right?

Speaking of. So. When we eventually get home, it’s evening; just before work, as a matter of fact. 

And I’ll be able to max mixology after just a second. Just an instant. And tonight at work, I’ll get that promotion -- and then I’ll have finished my first aspiration. It’s just a minute more…

And that’s when I drop the lighter for my fire-breathing trick. Into my wooden bar. Full of bottles of liquor, renowned for its flammability.



Forbidden words. There goes that idea.
“Aaaah! There’s a fire! Quick, where’s a -- we don’t have an alarm! Why doesn’t this town have a fire fighting force!” Is about the scope of Gino’s input. Zest’s comedy practice is interrupted by the chance to flail and scream three fight from the slowly-growing inferno of my bar. Thank you, team. The fire licks up, rising towards the roof of the porch overhead, gnawing at the wooden floorboards of our porch. An orchestra of color, flashing in brief vivid blues as a bottle of an especially good vintage goes up, dancing red and orange as it spreads. But hey, you know what?



I got this. I have this under control. Unlike some chuckleheads, who think waving their hands and screaming will definitely put the fire out, I can actually use my brain for five seconds. I’m more worried about being late for work, which is a bummer, but what’s a fire to Kestral Avyan?
I just use the fire extinguisher all over the bar, until eventually the flames are drowned out by a layer of white foam, puffs of smoke and chemical mist hanging in the air around me. Not a beat is missed, not a hair is out of place.


Because I’m the boss. Now, if I get going just now, I’ll only be a minute late.
“See ya.”


“That was… A little spooky. We all saw that, right?” Asks Zest, left in my wake, staring at the house from the safety evacuation mandated distance.

“A woman on a mission is a powerful thing, my boy,” is Gino’s answer, nodding to break his stare at the middle distance. I’ll order a new one; it’ll be fine. Miko ends up getting home from work just in time to have totally missed the fire.

“Aw, man! I just missed something really cool, didn’t I?” Miko can only sigh, having missed me being incredibly impressive. Well, part of me being incredibly impressive.


Because guess who started a fire, put out a fire, got a promotion, and is going to max mixology in just a second? And she’s got a spiffy black uniform, too!


And there we are. Mixology maxed – and my first aspiration complete. It feels like a weight off my shoulders that I hadn’t even noticed. A deep sense of satisfaction wells up within me, a sigh into the cool night air.

This is going to be doable, I think. Not that I didn’t know that, of course, I mean! I just really felt it in that moment.


And so I spend a moment relaxing with, well, someone who was kind of my first friend in this.
“We’ve come pretty far, haven’t we, Zest?”
“We really have. A round of applause!” He says it with an almost teasing laugh, but he claps anyway. I take a little bow of my head, all humility.
“A decent house, we’re both advancing in our work, I’m done an aspiration...A wonderful wife… A perfect boy…”
“And me, right?”

“Sure, Zest.”
“Say it like you mean it! Put some, heh -- Zest into it.” He is my friend, I will not pour the contents of this tumbler onto his head. He is my friend, I will not pour this tumbler onto his head. He is my friend… He adds, clearly too satisfied, “...I had to. But hey! The crowds are starting to like my style!”

“And you’ve had a kid with a normal name, if the message on our answering machine is right.”
“...Heh. Yeah. Uh. Let’s maybe not -- let’s maybe not worry about that, right now!” He tries to stop me, as if I could be restrained by mere human hands.
“How many kids you’ve never met is this?”
“...Um. Well. A few.”
“We all have our own accomplishments, Zest.”
“Don’t say it like that!...They’re probably better off without a dad to fight the whole way." He stares forlornly, his usual smile just an abrupt twist in his lips. He pushed his food around his plate, even as it's perfectly tasty. “ I turned out OK striking it out on my own, didn’t I?”

You know, I’d never thought of Zest as having folks. I mean, I guess he probably did, but if you told me he’d been born in a chemical accident at a whoopie cushion factory, I’d have given about the same response: seems legit. Still… I get the feeling that it’s still kind of a wound with him. And better not to touch it; I know I wouldn’t want someone poking around about my parents.

“You were so desperate for something that you moved into the house of a woman who didn’t have a house.” When I point that out, he winces. It’s not exactly good comfort, but I’m not super good at comforting.  “Either way, I can only tell you how to live your life when it’s convenient to me. So you should do what you can, and enjoy what you can.”
“...You’re a weird girl, Kestral... They'll be fine. Yeah! Of course they will.”


With things I’m accomplished, I should hopefully be able to spend just more time with Kite while he’s growing up. Yeah -- his needs are pretty simple right now, but that just gives me a chance.


Right now, I can knock out Gourmet cooking, and get back to work on homestyle cooking to follow it up. You know, just in a day’s work.

But there is stuff to do besides fuss over the baby and skilling.
The next day, an expectant Mila invites her husband out to lunch, as usual.

“You are aware I invited my husband, and not my husband and his entire household, correct?” She asks, looking at the assembled triple date. Miko and I, Johnny and the girl du jour. Look, they blend together a lot. It’s not the entire household. Kite’s too young to travel, and Akira’s at work. So it’s really only most of his household.

“Sorry about that! Kestral just thought it’d be nice if she and I could go out -- we don’t get a lot of the same times off! We won’t bother you at your table, OK?” asks Miko, all sweetness so she couldn’t possibly put up a fuss, before giving me a sly look out of the corner of her eye. Thank you, my dear! I need to have a wonderful lunch with you (and take photos of experimental food.)

“It’s fine,” Gino said, reaching over to put his hand on Mila’s across the table. “I can still have you all to myself, and you can have me all to yourself… But it’ll make the restaurant lively! It’ll be fun to listen in on all these kids.”

“I suppose so,” she admits, melting. She probably has enough liveliness, what with the whole six children counting the young adults situation, but Gino was beaming like a spotlight, and I don’t think she could say no. After all, the whole reason for inviting him there was because they love each other so much -- and I’m not sappy about it, you’re sappy!

He wasn’t kidding about the restaurant being lively; I think I can hear about three different conversations about once.

The travelling one isn’t super interesting, even if I wanted to eavesdrop on a stranger’s table (I have no objection to doing so, if it’s good.) But from Gino and Mila, I can eavesdrop with the best.

“While I’ve always loved having him around, I think now I truly appreciate it that Gunther has yet to move out. It certainly gives me an extra pair of hands around.”
“I’ll try and take the tykes off your hands for the day soon; you should both get the chance to go out for yourselves! Live a little!” Gino exclaimed, his hand reaching across the table for hers.
“I rather think I am living for myself a little… With you.”
“It’s sure a good life.” He pauses for a moment, his expression growing pensive. The restaurant’s chatter lulls for just a moment; I can hear someone badly mishandling a tumbler up by the bar. “Make sure you keep it good, after all’s said and done with me...OK?”
“Tut-tut! No talking like that on our dates.”
“Seems to me like we’re always datin’!”
“Well, isn’t that convenient?”

Though for conversations, my favorite is of course the one I am having.

“Naturally, this won’t look as good as real food photography -- think we could get some motor oil?”
“Motor oil? What would you do with that?” Miko asks brightly.
“Food photography involves a lot of stuff that’s not even remotely food, to make the food look more food-like.”
“It would probably give it a nice gloss -- I guess the lighting on that has to be super-duper precise, right?” She asks, eager to share a little of what she’s picked up
“That’s true of all photography; but I think it’s probably true of food, too. A restaurant’s ambiance is key.”
”Well, silly goose, I’m letting you take a picture of my food, so until our robot overlords come, hold the motor oil!”

She really did wait for me to take a picture of her dish for our nice new museum...

Starting now! ...I didn’t get those photos on that wall yet, though.

But there was one other thing we needed to do that night.

It was time for my little man to age up.
What an Angelic little kid. What a mop of hair!


We tried setting the bird’s nest down for a bit…

But it just poofed back into place. He’s got Miko’s eyes, and I think that mouth might be more hers than mine? Maybe. As for the color...Who knows, maybe he’ll grow into mine, anyway. But first!


“Let’s get you started, champ. Easy now, easy…”
“Ees! Ees!”
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline oshizu

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I loved that shot of Kestral swaggering off to work after Gino and Johnny prance around in a frightful panic.
Gratz on completing Master Mixologist!
Kite the cutest toddler! Looks like he has Miko's rosebud lips for now.

Gino is really making the most of his senior years! He and Mila are so sweet together.
I'm rooting for a mini-Kestral. Are they planning on another child? lol

Offline Deme

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I loved that shot of Kestral swaggering off to work after Gino and Johnny prance around in a frightful panic.
Gratz on completing Master Mixologist!
Kite the cutest toddler! Looks like he has Miko's rosebud lips for now.

Gino is really making the most of his senior years! He and Mila are so sweet together.
I'm rooting for a mini-Kestral. Are they planning on another child? lol

Yup! We're coming along pretty nicely here. And yeah, I think he really takes after Miko a lot -- and is precious, so expect a lot of toddler spam in the next update in approximately a minute.

 At this time, I wasn't sure what I would do, between another kid, maybe a dog or cat, or another pollinator or something. I put it off until the right thing presented itself. So I wouldn't rule it out, but they and I probably hadn't thought about it yet.

Gino really, really has gotten a second lease on life after getting the news in order message; it's very sweet.
Stories In Progress:
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Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"Our Pamphlets Are..." (7/2/18)
« Reply #37 on: July 02, 2018, 11:51:46 PM »
Chapter 10: Our Pamphlets Are Impressionist Poetry

Kite’s education begins in earnest. With so little of my skilling waiting, and between rallying the troops and Miko and I’s work cycles, we can try and give Kite the best toddlerhood possible. I’ll bet you good money we make it, too.


“C’mon, Kite! Stack those blocks. No, no, kiddo. A little to the… This is silly.”
He laughs, as if in confirmation. One cannot coach block-stacking, only explain the details. The refined and essential details, natch. Like that that side’s orange. We can keep that up until he’s tired of blocks.



If I’m going to be super honest, more honest than I really want to be to most people, I don’t think I really know what teaching someone to talk should sound like. I mean, the parenting guides on the internet are vague about this and also have lame opinions. Maybe I should just try talking normally; he’ll probably catch on.
“Kite, listen: I’m going to be counting on you to do your part as time goes by, OK?”
OK, that’s maybe a little strong for a toddler. More explaining.
“You’ll make all sorts of friends, and be...Uh. Good. At your job. I guess. You’ll be a good adult?”Real smooth, Kestral. I mean that sarcastically this time. His eyes light up.
“Goo?” He asks, insistently enough that it’s not babble.
“Of course you’ll do a good job. Are you kidding? And you’ll learn skills, too. Wanna try saying skills?”
“Skis! Skis!”
“Eh, close enough for horseshoes and handgrenades -- and don’t let your Ka-san know I was saying a word like ‘handgrenades,’ OK?”
“Hangade!” The scamp.
“...I guess we’re safe for this second. But a skill is something you get to be the best at, and get better and better.” I lean in to share a secret, just because I think he’ll get a kick. “We’re working on a skill right now.”
“Heehee yay!”

“Alright, Kestral,” says Miko, shooing me off for a bit. “All work and no play’s no way for a kid! Come here, you! It’s time for you to go on a ride!”

She scoops him up; the house echoes with the sound of them laughing, the vrrooom, vrooom of a pair of airplanes flying about the nursery. We’re a team in this, too… This turned out pretty good, I think. To keep my top-notch understating in play.


While I’m on my own, I catch sight of something  happening up by the waterfall. People come up there, but...

“So I tell my waiter my soup is too hot! And he says ‘Ice’ll cool it right down!” And he takes the soup, and I say, ‘I’m going to wait right here while you’s’ll cool it right down!”
“Oh, that’s hysterical!” The girl, whose name escapes me but whose age does not, laughs.
“You think? I’m planning on putting it in my next routine, but I’m not really sure how I feel about dialect humor...The road to comedy is long and paved with whoopie cushions.” He shrugs, before heading back in, a little social time spent.

“Jonathan Zest, you total cad (thanks for that, by the by). That girl is a teen!” I comment at him as he comes back in, before he can escape to the comfort of his room. He could at least wait a little.
“What?” He stares at me. Then he laughs. “Look, I’m not...Well, I’m kind of freewheeling, but even I can talk to a girl without false intentions. Sometimes, I want to practice my comedy by making someone laugh.”
Oh.
 “Oh. Sorry. Well, knock ‘em dead out there, then.”

We have Ulrike over that night, and this isn’t a super great choice on our parts, because as Miko heads downstairs, I hear Ulrike say…

“Hey, Miko. Looking fantastic this evening.” She gives a sort of low laugh that I’ve heard from Akira’s bedroom a few times now. My heart goes clench.
“Why did people wait until I was in love to start flirting with me? It’s unfair!” Miko throws a mock-pout over my way, where I’m preparing some food. Not because anyone in this house will be hungry for an age, but because I need the practice.
“They say a woman in love is at her most charming,” I answer, seizing the flirting day! Take that! “But you’re always the utmost of adorable, so it is a profound mystery why everyone’s waited until now, and I didn’t have to fight a single bear for your love.”
“Oh, that would have been great. But you’ve already won, so we can’t get a bear now…”


“So I’ll pass, sorry Ulrike,” she shakes her head to the baffled-looking artist. She glances back at me, sighing a little in relief. I give her a thumbs-up.
“Thanks, babe. Oh, but...Ulrike. Isn’t Akira going to go ballistic if he knows?” I ask.
“Serves him right, sometimes.”

Miko had just come down to get a book to read to Kite before bed, tucking him in up to his chin. He wriggles under the covers like a puppy trying to get cozy.

And she happily reads him a story, the tale of a brother and a sister -- and while the sister was ill, the brother had to go travelling.
“First he went to Brindleton Bay, where the sea goes boom, boom against a big gold shore. And the boy loved the way the sea looked. Did Mom tell you what color the sea is?”
“...Bue?” He asks, very soft and quiet, the word a little uncertain.
“That’s right! And because he loved the sea so much, he drew a picture. And he sighed, because he wished his sister could go to the sea.”
I think she sees Kite looking a little worried up over his blanket, because she laughs and adds,
“Don’t worry! She’ll be happy when he comes home.”
Yes,” He says, insistently: Yes, she should be. Or, Yes, you better be telling the truth, Ka-san, I think. You’ve got to make the most of a toddler-sized vocabulary by having a few bludgeoning words.
And the boy in the story went to Granite Falls, and to Selvadorada, and to Oasis Springs, and to Windenburg,
“Where he saw the cutest little house and the sweetest little boy who lived there!” Miko closes the storybook decisively.
“Who?”
“You, of course! And he drew a picture of our house, too,” declares Miko, showering him with tender little kisses as he giggles. This is not not very productive for getting him to sleep or keeping me from giving cavities. “And at last, he went back home. And his sister was so happy. But the brother was sad, and he said to her, ‘I wish you could go to all the places I have seen.’ But the sister told him, ‘I have! I have seen them all, because your pictures can take me there!’ And they were very happy… But I think what made her happiest was knowing that all the time, when he saw those pretty things, he was thinking of her with love.”
 
Kite had drifted off by then, the nursery falling totally still. Which is very wow. She gave him a kiss and walk out to the big open space of the second floor, where I had been listening in. He really is learning a lot from things like this. I’m glad.
 Kite had drifted off by then, the nursery falling totally still. Which is very wow. She gave him a kiss and walk out to the big open space of the second floor, where I had been listening in. He really is learning a lot from things like this. I’m glad.

Because it’s good for the museum’s value and making sure he can get everything he needs to, of course. OKThat’sEnoughOfThat, I’ve got a report about the house!


With the nursery set away, I figured we could make a few adjustments to the house: starting with actually making the start of a proper kitchen and dining room. Tres fancy! You know, for a kind of lame value of fancy. We’ll probably keep building it up, since it’s just a room with a table for now, but money’s tight. We move a few things around – and this isn’t even the final form of our stairs-bathroom arrangement. The computer desk got moved upstairs, we’ll build a proper study for it later. Maybe the kid’ll care more about books than I do.


But the kitchen’s enough for now. Not perfect, but enough for this:  the last dish of my path to maxing cooking. I have all three of my skills done, and everything’s just a matter of friendships and promotions and that last party (thanks Zest) now. And still as a YA! Who’s the best? C’est moi.



Other news on that front: Zest finally gets to planting the Orchid and Pomegranate for our deathflower splicing purposes. We’re so close to having our ingredients ready to go!

Of course, there’s still the future to build.

It can’t all be glamorous. The future takes its potty training price.


“Kes?” Miko’s voice rings out. “Why is our baby eating Gumbo?”
As if that wasn’t obvious.
“Because it’s good gumbo. Also, we have about 24 – ah, sorry, Kite, 23 servings of it.” It’d been my training food, because it really improved my skills a lot.
“…OK, then. I’ll just… go get my smudgey boy a paper towel.”
“I wanna towel!”

Of course, there are times when even with us both doing our best, Kite gets left by himself. Maybe he’s even a little relieved for some quiet.

Or maybe he can’t bear to be without his moms! When I got home, he told me -- out of the blue, and totally serious-faced…
“It’s island.”
What an odd kid. I asked him what he meant, and he didn’t answer, just returning to his blocks.

I don’t talk enough about what Miko’s been up to in her own right. She’s still in politics for now, collecting donations. While I know she wants to try other things… I know she’s passionate about this work.

“Have you stopped and thought about the sims left behind?” She asks Katarina. The reaction she gets is more puzzled than enthused.
“Left behind by what?”
“Existentially left behind! ...I guess. In this world, we demand a sim pick their goals early, and that initial choice impacts the rest of their life! But sometimes, this doesn’t work! And so sims are left behind!... Is how I’m thinking about it, anyway,” she says, her politician smile being replaced by something softer and more tentative. “Our pamphlets are impressionist poetry, which isn’t super helpful. But there are all sorts of ways people get left behind by the world. And with a little help from everyone, we can ensure no sim gets left behind!”
“Oh, gosh! Here, have some. I know how sad strays are; it’s hard to imagine for a sim.”
“Thank you very much!”
She’s so earnest that I think she’s really good at work like this.


Kite’s getting a little more adventurous with the house all the time -- I guess he’s gotten tired of how empty the second floor is.

There is an abomination on my counter.

“Akira, what is that?”
“Well, to be recognized as a real curator, I need to finish a collection,” he answers, reaching down and popping open another little party favor. He has a mountain of them.  Sigh.
“...That didn’t answer my question even slightly.”
“It’s a Christmas cracker prize. They cost ten simoleans each, so I can just lay a bunch out of the stuff on a counter instead of running around for fossils and jewels, and I only have to collect all 8!” He grins like this is a grand accomplishment.
“…It looks like a terrible monstracity and hey, are you lazing your way through an aspiration?”  Actually, I should take a note of that for someone eventually, you know, if we need a rush job. He gives me a frustrated look, letting a groan strain through his teeth.
“Look, I’m tired of waiting, and my feet. Are sore.” Some people. Just have no value to their dreams. This is absurd. And yet… Here we are. He’s just going to pop those things all day.

Gino decides to invite his three toddlers over the next day -- it keeps them out of Mila’s hair for a while, and he gets to see them. There’s another baby -- yes, another, her name’s Carla, but she’s still just a newborn. Really, all he does is fish when he’s not with his family, so this is a nice opportunity.

“Heya, son! Ready to have some fun today?”
“Daddy!”


To be honest, they all kind of look alike; I can’t quite keep track of which little guy’s Soren and which one’s Julian. Kate has the straight hair, though.
“And the better dancing skills! You going to let her show you up, Julian?”
“No! No!”

After their little dance party, it was story-time. And time for the other upside of having them over: Kite can get going on some friendships.

...Well, nearly alone. Kite works his way onto the couch, neither sure how to talk to someone new.
“...Hi,” Kite tries after a second.
“Hi-hi,”she answers. There’s a long silence. Kite’s shyer than I thought he’d be, but like I said -- he’ll toughen up. But for now, it’s kind of cute. If I have to get fire and brimstone with any bullies when he starts going to school, well, those children better be ready for terror.

“Know wha?” He asks her.
“Wha?”

“Icken Butt!”
The two descend into frantic giggles, wild with delight at a joke that really never has meaning, but especially not to two toddlers. I need to ask Zest not to use jokes with him yet. He needs a healthy sense of humor. But for the move itself? That’s my boy. It’s way too early to arrange a marriage or anything, but if Kite could keep this family close, for a while – if we could watch over them – that’d be real swell.

“Play dolls!” He suggests, ushering her over to the one toy outside his room.

If Kite did decide he liked her, she’s got green eyes, that’s pretty great. I’m just thinking ahead. Maybe later, we’ll have a real playdate for the kids.

And when all the dust settles… Kite’s already responding to his feelings, like an immortal sim ought! You do what you need to, kiddo.

“Goo’ job. Good.”

Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline oshizu

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Gratz to Kestrel on completing all her requirements but her friends (which are best saved till later anyway) and her elder birthday! And completed so quickly, too!
Now she can relax and spend that long stretch to elderdom doing....well, I'm really looking forward to finding out how she fills that time.

Oh, Kite is making friends with Gino's kids already! I thought he would save them for the Social Butterfly aspiration!
I really can't wait for Kite's birthday! <3

Offline Deme

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Gratz to Kestrel on completing all her requirements but her friends (which are best saved till later anyway) and her elder birthday! And completed so quickly, too!
Now she can relax and spend that long stretch to elderdom doing....well, I'm really looking forward to finding out how she fills that time.

Oh, Kite is making friends with Gino's kids already! I thought he would save them for the Social Butterfly aspiration!
I really can't wait for Kite's birthday! <3

Well, she has a few things besides friends and elder birthday: Specifically, she's still got the promotion that will complete Master Chef and then the rest for her career to go... But besides a level of Charisma I didn't know about at the time that's not hard to get, that's just down to showing up to work, so a matter of time. There's the museum, which is pretty easy no matter how you cut it -- at least for a sim with as many options as Kestral, and my notes referred to a successful house party that I can't find any record of, so I'll have to make that or something else up later. So it's essentially patience, patience, patience.

Well, it's not like toddlers are so efficient at making friends with strangers that that's not still an option, ha ha. Fun Fact about Kite's birthday, by the way: It's also the adult birthday of every non-Miko (Because she's a few days behind) YA in the house. So that's going to have a lot going for it.
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"In the Weight of a Life" (7/4/18)
« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2018, 08:07:20 PM »
Chapter 11: In the Weight of a Life


“It’s nice to finally have some time to ourselves.” Mila grins as the lunch crowd at our local Italian place chattered around them. From what Gino said when he told me this later, she figured out my secret: I don’t feel like I have to show up for food I can cook just as well at home. And can’t take food pictures of. But for her, this is probably a chance -- and at the end of the day, it’s not certain which chance will be the last -- to simply be alone with the one she loves. Can’t fault her that.
“It certainly is a treat, isn’t it, my dear?” He reaches across the table and pats her hand, and give her a wink. “Now I get you all to myself.”
“Oh, you silly man. If you fret about that, you only need to call. I’d never mind; hearing from you always brings me joy, even if our circumstances are perhaps unusual…”
“You got that right! But it’s been an adventure.”

They smile at each other across the table, as the waitress slides the insalata between them -- a detail they ignored, at least until stomachs growled to remind them.

“How’s fishing, then?” She asks over it.

“It’s going fantastic! Seems like the river sparkles more these days… Because there’s something for me beyond that that sparkles real fierce, too.  And when I cross that final river… That’ll be enough to call it all fulfilled.”
Now, I’d guess she’d say something to fight that -- if it were me, I wouldn’t accept defeatist wussing out like that! But she’s not me. From the man himself’s telling, she didn’t. All she did was hold his hand. And they were glad for that.

But for that day, life got to go on. And it was around the 3 AM club rallying that I had a thought.

“You know, Maximilliano, you’re a pretty alright guy. You clean up --”
“Because it’s a club activity,” he answers, scowling.
“Details, details. It’s not like you have to come every time we start a gathering in the wee hours.”
“...I don’t?”
“I mean, I dunno.”
Something in him goes snap right then and there.

I don’t have to be here at 3 AM?!!” He shouts. I shrug.
“I mean, I guess you technically probably do? Well, thanks for being a sport.

And he stomps off, yelling something about crazy women and their 3-am cleaning service clubs...

And Okay, buddy, this is unacceptable[/i]
“Hey, you; lay off. He’s got nothing to do with you, so don’t you dare take this out on my boy!”
He at least as the decency to look abashed as tempers cool. I don’t give him the time to anwer.
“Meeting’s over. Get out before I throw you out. You can beg to come back next time.”

He slinks out, and I set to fixing up the dollhouse, piece by piece, as Kite watches with wide, tear-filled eyes.

“Sorry, kiddo… He shouldn’ta come up here.” He pressed his head against my knee, and we put the pieces back together.

Geeze. Some people.

The morning comes, and with it...

“Put the orchid in the pomegranate and mix them both together, put the orchid in the pomegranate and mix it all up~” Johnny hums through the garden as he works with a couple of plants.
“Do you mean what I think you mean, you acceptable, acceptable man?” I ask from the porch. Oh yes.
“... Acceptable?” He shakes his head. “But yes! I’ve grafted the orchid to the pomegranate and visa-versa! You  could say they’re… Branching out.”
Since we’re now in deathflower go mode, I will ignore that! Ha-ha!

Meanwhile, though...

Akira is still popping those crackers. These are my counter islands, now. Crackertown.
 “It’s so much better than running!”


“How long do you think he’s going to have to open these until he’s done with those?” I ask Miko, watching him open another without any luck.
“Who knows? It’s kind of fun, though; the confetti doesn’t stick to the floor, so it’s not too too much of a mess, the colors are bright: it’s festive!” She mimes the pop of confetti coming out with her hands to punctuate the energy of her point. Her elbow sidles up to my ribs, delivering a single -- surprisingly pointy -- nudge. Was that really necessary? “We should get some if a holiday comes up!”

That seems like it’ll be a ways off, though…
“Sure thing, babe. We can open them together.” It’ll bring a smile to her face.

It’s not much longer until that when I’m off to work, and out the door. So I didn’t see this. Not directly. But Zest and Akira heard a noise outside. A thud.

Gino didn’t make it up the stairs.


That Reaper arrives, perfectly silent. Totally still; the last listener to his last words. No one else is out to hear what Gino says as he reaches up for something. Maybe a goodbye, I don’t know. Wish I could tell you. Best Miko could tell me, lipreading from upstairs,  was that it was a sentence or two, a laugh in the middle. She thought it might have ended with
“Tell them I love them,” but that’s just her own, sentimental guess. Who knows? Only the Reaper, the jerk.   Miko, upstairs, pulls Kite away from the window and back to his blocks. She told me the Reaper might have said something in reply, but without lips, who knows?


And then he’s gone. The boys come out too late to see it. Heck, what would they have done? I guess heard what he had to say -- I’d told them the rule about pleading. And they’d chosen to follow it.


“Let’s see what we have here…” The reaper says, scanning dispassionately through his tablet. “Gino Levin. You got your second notice quite a while ago, but you always took good care of yourself. A career fisherman. Husband of Mila Munch (Surviving), and four children...Almost all of whom were born after your first warning. I see.”
Johnny bawls at the summation, while the reaper presses a few points across the tablet.


“On the whole,” pronounces the Grim Reaper, “It was a good life; you lived happily, even if you got a late start at everything that didn’t happen on a boat, or with a rod in your hands. But what does that matter, in the weight of a life?... After all. It wasn’t ever too late for you, not as long as you lived.”


“You may go to your rest, Mr. Levin.” And even the body is gone, fading into the grave.


Goodbye, Gino.  I… It didn’t have to be this way. I want you all to remember it. I’m – I’m not – I benefit because it was this way. I know that. But it didn’t have to. I wouldn’t have minded. I won’t say he’s a sucker. I can’t. But… I certainly will miss him. Death just isn’t fair. That’s why I’ve got to get out.

Eventually, when I got home, I’d found he’d left a couple of potions of youth in the secret room. Two whole aquariums full of angelfish. I’m probably underselling it -- he was nearly 100, give or take. He was a loving father, best he could be, to Julian, Kate, Soren, and Carla. He was a good husband, whose wife loved him very much. He was my real friend.


When Akira goes back in, hands shaking, tears streaming, he pops another cracker. Why? Maybe he just didn’t know what else to do; they were right there. Force of habit from leaving them all over the kitchen And another one of his dumb holiday plush-blobs comes out. The last one.

 ”Hey, nice work completing your aspiration,” says, you know, literally Death, to the man mourning the loss of his roommate. “Sure put in… Something like an effort.”

Akira sniffs and answers,
“Thanks… Why are you still here?”

“You were popping holiday crackers. I love those things!”


But…I come home after this with my 8th-level promotion. My second aspiration, complete. Just a few promotions more. Just a few parties more. Just a few friends more... Friends, huh? I hope you’re watching this, Gino.
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline oshizu

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"In the Weight of a Life" (7/4/18)
« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2018, 11:46:50 AM »
It was so fortunate for both the household and Gino to have found each other.
Who knew that he would live to sire four children with Mila.
And how great that they live just up the hill, because that means you'll see them walking to and fro in front of the house.

By the way, I hope Kestral gave that Maximilliano fella the boot!
As for La Bovine, it's such a lovely restaurant. I'm always a bit disappointed when I remember (like, in every new game) that its menu is nothing special. :/

Gratz on your hopefully soon-to-be death flower! *crosses fingers

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"In the Weight of a Life" (7/4/18)
« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2018, 04:45:40 PM »
It was so fortunate for both the household and Gino to have found each other.
Who knew that he would live to sire four children with Mila.
And how great that they live just up the hill, because that means you'll see them walking to and fro in front of the house.

By the way, I hope Kestral gave that Maximilliano fella the boot!
As for La Bovine, it's such a lovely restaurant. I'm always a bit disappointed when I remember (like, in every new game) that its menu is nothing special. :/

Gratz on your hopefully soon-to-be death flower! *crosses fingers

It really was a wonderful surprise, how things turned out. And yeah, you have a point. I can grab a lot of the household's children from time to time, or at least a not-small number.

(She did not. Actually, he is one of her good friends. The good news is, he never acts out like this again, so presumably she put the fear of watcher in him and rules with iron fist.)
Yeah, aint that a bummer? Ah, well. That aided in their final date. Which, like, point to Mila: she really did ask him out basically every day, and I found that super touching.

The good news about my deathflower situation: These screenshots are from back in April, so the nerf isn't as ruling a factor with our progress as it could have been, had the timeline broken a little differently. A relief, a relief, a relief. Frankly, a number of my gardening decisions worked out in a very beneficial way. Like leaving all my plants ready for one type of evolution or another.
Stories In Progress:
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Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"I Respect Your Pinterests" (7/7/18)
« Reply #43 on: July 07, 2018, 04:39:57 PM »
Chapter 14: I Respect Your Pinterests

We have to try and move on as best we can. Kite probably won’t really figure out what’s up, and I’m glad to shield him about that, if I can. You don’t have to introduce a kid to your conceptual nemesis when he’s still collecting valuable understandings like what number three is. So we go and hang with the upstairs stereo because it’s what we need to do right now, until his eyelids start drooping.


“Mom, Storytime?”
“Now, what am I obligated to ask you to say because I want you to have good character values, and I want extra points from being a super parent even though I don’t really believe in it?” That’s a mouthful, but, really, who really thinks it’s magic? He focuses on decoding that long ramble.
“...Storytime Please?” He offers.
“Very good. What sort of story?”
“Pwincess! Pwincess!”
“Alright, kiddo. Princess stories it is.” I guess princesses skip a generation.

Speaking of the kid...

I made a little play area for him; cute, right?

And in a lot of ways, that sort of thing makes it easier to get by. Akira doesn’t have it (I mean, not that he acknowledges; he’s got a whole bunch of kids, mostly with Ulrike), and it’s really thrown out his stride.

“Look, you’re great… But not today, Ok? Things have been... Rough, I guess. Have you ever thought about mortality?”
“...So, I guess I should… Go, then?” Sonja asks, a nervous chuckle rising.
“Don’t leave me to die alone!” Akira shouts, near-bawling.
“OK, ok, I won’t… You lost someone, right?”
“Right. I wouldn’t even say we were close, just… It stirred me up. He was the same type, romantically, I was… But he was so. So.... He was really happy.” Akira sighs and shakes his head. “Well, let’s just. Take our minds off of things.”

Way ahead of you, buddy! We head down to the flea market, since I got an invite. Well, I do. I bring Miko and Zest, because this is way more Miko’s speed.

We’ve got her taste in a lamp in the living room.


I figure that, while I’m here…

I can collect some other recipes! You know, just as a thing to do when the chance arises. I’m going to have so much time to build a recipe book. Maybe I should get a chef station one day.

And when we’re at home, it’s back to the tiny toddler center of our energies right now.

“OK, cuddlemonster, you know what this is?” He squirms for a long minute before Miko asks, “What is it, Kite?”
“Ka-san… Me see? See?” He leans far to one side, trying to catch sight of the card. Miko laughs a little and gives him a pat on the head.
“Oops, ahaha, I guess I cheated that out a bit too much. Sorry, sweetie. OK, take two!”
“Tee-vee!”
“Good boy!”

Later, Miko scoops him up (she really needs to let him do a little more of his own walking; we need that last level and some trimming of movement… But if I say anything, I don’t get to see them being adorable together. Decisions. Unfair.) and rewards him with a bit of said TV while they talk.

“Ka-san?”
“What’s up, honey?”
“Can I meet a flower?” This somewhat odd question draws a look of confusion from my normally unbefuddable bride.
“You want me to get you a flower? Or show you a flower?”
“No, meet. I just wanna chill. An’ be friends!”
“That’s a nice idea! They’re really pretty, aren’t they?”
Kite nods.
“I’d still wanna be friends. If they weren’t. It… It’s not fair,” he folded up his hands, intently trying to capture in words some tragedy of the world he wanted averted -- the kid can be pretty patient, but I gotta admit… He’s a wierd little doodlebug sometimes.
“That’s sweet, honey… But plants don’t think the way people and animals do.”
He looks down at his hands, eyes watering -- quietly, he’s not really...A crying sort of kid? Which is great and super worrying, and Miko gives him a hug.
“But I’m sure they’d still love it if you talked to them! I’ve heard that’s good for plants!”
Household crisis averted. Thank you, Miko. And hey! He’s gotten his Communication wrapped up, and tonight’s bedtime story brings his imagination home. Just a little bit further and we can rest assured of that extra museum item!

And when the night comes, we get a call to another festival in the city! Busy time in San Myshuno there.


“Finally, a to-do that’s all to do with me!” Zest’s happy, at least. I don’t really care about Jokesters vs Pranksters or whatever; how do you even win? But he can carry on all he wants. “I am home now. These are my people.”
“...Did someone spike the tea?” One of his fellow jokesters asks.
“I’ll let you know if I see a needle,”Johnny answers in reply, “But if I’ve got you feeling spiky, then maybe I should have joined the pranksters!”

Well, I’ve got my own business to take care of, away from the misfortune raining upon these partygoers.

“Let us be clear. Your behavior was something that I’m perfectly happy to break you over.” I could make a fist, though, I’ll be honest: not really a puncher. I mean, sure, there’s a place for brute force. But really, I’d rather think of something a little bit subtler. Smoother. Less likely to get me arrested for assault. Instead, I smile a focused smile at him. Let him squirm until he’s got a nice sense of respect of me and mine.
“Understood. Understood… Please, forgive me?” He asks, clearly nervous.
Here’s the thing: I already have a friendship with this guy. It’d be efficient and convenient if we could be Good Friends. I don’t need to like him. But I need him to like me. But between that and the unflirty, using him as anything but a warm body is shot.
“I guess I can try that out. So, clubmate, what sort of activities would you like going forward?”
“Not...Not 3 AM?” He offers, nervously.
“Non-negotiable.”
“...Movies?” He tries again. Much better, see?
“Yeah, sure. I bet they have some good late-night stuff when I get off work and need the pick-me-up. What sort of movies do you like?” And within the night, we’ll be Good Friends and I can only occasionally worry about the ol’ charm offensive again.


The silly festival’s still ongoing, but it looks like our house is divided down the middle…

And Akira doesn’t appreciate Zest’s act.
“Johnny, don’t impersonate pranksters! My girlfriend is a prankster!”
Zest looks around. He knows Akira means Ulrike, because she’s the closest girl. But she’s not the only girl Akira’s been with at the festival, unlike Johnny’s situation. He gives Akira a skeptical look.
 “…Man, I want you to know you just gave me the power to blow up your social life, right to smithereens, but I’m not going to, because we’re pals, right?”
“Carry on.” The nervous sweat beading on Akira’s forehead tells a lot of the story, even if Ulrike thinks it’s sweat from the lights.
 “So as I was saying, they’re all ‘Look at me, I like to stick pins in things!’ Now, I for one think it’s better to go punny than pinny, but really, folks, I respect your pinterests!”
I don't mean to sound radical, but have we considered burning this festival to the ground? Miko's in politics. Could she make this happen?
And yet! This joke gets a hearty laugh, proving no one here has taste. Summer Holiday pulls Johnny up to his feet, still chuckling.

“C’mon. Let’s get away from the tables for a bit,” and leads him out to a stretch of floor. “You know, I like a guy who makes me laugh.”
“Then you’ve come to the right guy! And the right place.”

“And the right kisser.”
We really can’t take him anywhere.

While the chuckleheads are at it, Miko and I take in a different sort of Jokes and Hijinks festivity.

Sparks shower around between us, embers dulling and bouncing, a faint red glow, across the pavement. Miko pulls back for a second, the rain of sparks illuminating her mock-frightened smile.
“Wow! There’s nothing a like some fireworks at a festival!”
“It does have a certain something, doesn’t it?”
“It’s got flower color and star heat, that’s what it’s got! ...Fireworks kind of feel more alive than other sorts of lights, I think.” Her tone’s a lake gone still after ripples crossed it. She adjusts a bit of hair behind her ear, and I draw a little closer. The sparks crackle in the silence. “What are you going to do next?”
“Hmm…” I gotta admit, I haven’t really decided what my next goal is, besides being a super parent. “Let’s get Kite through his toddler years, then I’ll start really picking.”
“You’ll do great.”
“We’ll see.”

Speaking of, once we get home, Akira actually ends up watching Kite for a bit.

“Unca Kira? Why’s you live here?”
“I was friends with Miko. Besides, I’ve got to live somewhere.” He stares down into his coffee, and I’ve got to wonder what’s going through his head then; I don’t really talk to the guy, so I can’t say I know super well.
“Why?” Kite asks. Beginning the torment.
“I mean, you can’t just live nowhere.”
“Why?” Now, see, if you’ve spent some time around a toddler, you will see what is happening.
“You need food and a place to sleep.” Akira adjusted himself on the tiny foot of the tiny bed, eyeing Kite like the kid was a black hole.
“Why?”Because Akira has not spent time, however.
“Because people like living.” The edge of tension in his voice.
“Why?” And so he cannot escape the trap.
“I don’t know!” He finally burst out, the frustration boiling over.  He waves the coffee cup around, hot coffee spilling out onto the floorboards to Kite’s mild interest, while the adult in this discussion raves and tantrums. “You tell me, kid! What’s the point? You hurry and you hurry and you’re reaching and then -- then -- you tear it apart the moment you find something, like you’re so afraid it’s not real that you won’t let it be fake! Why?”
“...The sun’s warm, Unca Kira,” was Kite’s answer, delivered with a toddler’s gravity and a gentle, reassuring pat on the knee with a tiny hand. “Dig the sun.”
This just caused Akira to storm out, but hey! Thinking level 5! Just one more to go!


And there they are. These little puppies will have to live down in a chest in the secret room, until I’m ready.

But, in the meanwhile, since Kite’s so close to done his toddler skills, I thought I’d make it a little more fun.

“Hey, Mila; can you bring one of your munchkins over to play today?” Yadda-yadda, no dice. How dare she.
“Well, we’re just going to have to have our own playdate, right, Kite? With card games! And girls!” In fact, forget the playdate!… Nah, I’m just joshing you.

We have a pretty great time out there until it’s lunch time.


And then we dance the day away, until, at last, Kite completes his final toddler skill. My boy! We’ve earned it!
“And you’ve earned some extra play time! C’mere, you!”

“Oh, Cuuuuuute <3! You make an awesome horse, Kes!” Miko starts laughing and clapping along, filling the big second floor hall with the sound of mock-hoofbeats.
“Miko, be serious! ...I am obviously a unicorn in this celebratory romp.” Like I’d be something as common as a horse.
“Oh, does Kite like unicorns?” We both look at him expectantly. Or Miko does, and I crane my neck some.
“Unicorns’s good. Horses’s good… Do I gotta pick?” Kite’s got a little worry there.
“Nah, kid. I can be both!”
“Yaaaay!”

Eventually, I tuck my little rider into bed. And then? It’s time for me to prepare.

For tomorrow, the day everyone in this house (well, sans Miko) has a birthday. Let’s do this.
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline oshizu

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"I Respect Your Pinterests" (7/7/18)
« Reply #44 on: July 07, 2018, 09:00:57 PM »
Love the little toddler play area in the back!
Congrats to Kite and his devoted parents on maxing all the toddler skills!
Ohhhh, what happened with the toddler play date? There was nobody to invite because all of the older Munches weren't home? Shoot!
Lol, poor Akira and the "Ask why" onslaught.

Offline Deme

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Re: The Avyan Immortal Dynasty -"I Respect Your Pinterests" (7/7/18)
« Reply #45 on: July 08, 2018, 09:09:38 PM »
Love the little toddler play area in the back!
Congrats to Kite and his devoted parents on maxing all the toddler skills!
Ohhhh, what happened with the toddler play date? There was nobody to invite because all of the older Munches weren't home? Shoot!
Lol, poor Akira and the "Ask why" onslaught.

Something like that, yeah: there was just no one to invite, which I'm not exactly sure why of. Was the only toddler Kestral, personally, had met Julian, and had Julian aged up? Maybe. It's not unreasonable to think that, but I don't have proof.

But this post is actually a great segue into a small thing I prepared badly! A small pre-Seasons, pre-birthday house tour! Consider it a time to take stock.


As you can see (pardon the night pic; past me made some dubious choices that I can't really correct now. Keep moving forward!), the playground is actually in the front, near the side. My plan is likely to eventually encircle it a little if I need more room.


We enter here, with Kestral and Miko's room to the left. The door nearest to us is the downstairs bathroom, the door near that little stairwell area where the easel is is Akira's, and the room in the back of the kitchen was Gino's. None of the boys' rooms have a whole lot of furniture, so they're not in this tour. I spent money getting all of them top-tier beds, for back when people slept regularly.


And here we have our living room area! Right now, a lot of our furnishings our rewards, but I do love that sloth painting. The door at the end of the hallway is Johnny's, and it's got sort of a funny shape. Eventually, it will become a part of the dining room and I will move the zesty one upstairs. And get him bedroom furniture. One step at a time.


The downstairs bathroom, aka the lesser bathroom.


The kitchen.


Our tragically sparse dining room. Kestral weeps, if Kestral would be willing to concede to the idea of having tear ducts.


Upstairs is a horrible void. You've seen the nursery, which I am (as of the time these pictures were taken) about to largely sell off. Bad decision, past me. But these things happen.


At the front of the house, upstairs version, we have the little micro-study nook, which has largely been furnished by or for Akira's work. Thanks, Akira.


In retrospect, the upstairs bathroom is probably one of the house's nicer rooms. Oops.



And the basement is just the museum at this point! It's probably going to get a remodel in the near future, because I'm not satisfied with these pictures as being worth enough, and it'll probably be easier to just have Kestral make a thing. At that time, the entrance was out the back porch. Which, uh. I did not have a door to at that juncture? Bad me, very bad. These days, the stair to it is directly under the stair to the upstairs. I don't think I noted when I changed it, but it does change.

And there you have it, your friendly Avyan house circa the Adult Birthday Day, give or take some rooms!
Stories In Progress:
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Offline Deme

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Chapter 13: Many Birthdays, Many Stories, Part 1: Miko and Zest

Miko’s Story
Hey, everyone! Mikoooo here again! OK, so it’s not my birthday, but I’ve got some stuff going on that’s worth talking about, too! And I don’t want to step in people’s ways? So I’m going first :3

So, after moving here, I started trying out painting, right? And that was fun! I’m not really a creative type, or anything… But it was cool seeing something get made, and making a prettier space! I made a couple of portraits for the museum, even! Not, like, official museum pieces, or however Kestral would put it. Just little things to remember these days by.

But, aspirationally-speaking, I’ve probably gone as far with painting as I can. It’s not unfun now -- but I’m ready to move on. To bigger and better things! Or, different, anyway!

Back before Kite was born, I got a teeny head start onto Renaissance Sim. But, like so many renaissance men and women and others of the past, I was tied down by the demon known as money! Heehee. Just a little flare. But I think we’re doing better now -- I think I want to try and see more of what the world has to offer!

So that means starting with a nice round of chess. Which means getting a chess table, but I don’t think anyone would mind me using that space. But if I’m not exactly a creative thinker… Well, I guess I wouldn’t call myself a logical one, either; I’m a fantasy geek more than a tech kinda geek, you know? But you know what’ll spice that up?


Pulling my favorite birthday girl into it <3
“Does this mean you’ll be quitting your job?” She asks me over the chess table. And I kinda squirm a little bit and nod.
“I love making sure no sim gets left behind, I do! But…” How do I put this? I never intended to settle down as soon as I did -- in a lot of ways.
“But it’s leaving you behind,” Kestral offers.
“Bingo.” Oh, and speaking of bingo… “And Bingo!”
“You mean checkmate, right, babe?” She rolls her eyes -- but she’s kind of laughing, too. She’s got that cute little crinkle at the corner of her eyes when she’s trying to look too cool to laugh.
“My game, my rules. Also, you know, it’s salient.” I tap my chin. “Now you have to take off an article of clothing, dear.”
I’ve got her there -- her cultivated calm breaks open for a second, just a cute hint of pink on her ears. Heehee. I just wanted to see my wife look a little off-guard for a second, that’s all >:3
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, my dear Miko. I’ve got a party to arrange.” She glides to her feet, settling back into her Kestral groove -- but not before giving me a kiss. “But you certainly earned a winner’s kiss. Deal? Deal.”
Dee-alll~! I’m too weak-kneed for the rest.


You’ll hear about our strings of birthdays later -- I’ll admit, I felt a little sad pang watching Kite grow up. I’m his momma -- how can I not feel a little sad, watching my baby grow up? Well, you’re my baby forever, of course!
...When I put it like that, I understand the sort of thing Kestral wants, in wanting something that’s yours forever. But what’s he going to think of that? Am I the only one thinking about that? Well, we can work it all out! Maybe when he’s old enough to understand.

While everyone else is sorting through clothes, I decide that I really should ditch the lace underwear look. Yeah, it’s super cute to sleep in, but I kind of spend a lot of time around the house. Probably not the best look, right?

So better lounge PJs it is! For now? They’re not super perfect, but the selection at our local stores doesn’t have anything <cute> and <pop> enough (You get the reference, right)?


I think Kestral (who was the birthday sim for the actual birthday party bit of the day) was actually kind of anxious -- don’t tell anyone! (This is another one of those things Kestral thinks no one notices, and maybe almost no one does, when she’s got that little knot of worry. It’s not a common enough expression that you can really see a trace of it on her face now, though.)

But you know, she doesn’t need to worry, my pretty older lady.

“Of course I’ve still got it,” Kestral insists over the cake -- and she means it, the little knot gone now -- “I’ve got an eternity ahead of me, it’d be pretty lame to run out of steam right now!”
“That’s true; the pitter-patter of my heart couldn’t possibly settle down! The maturity! I swoon!” And I do, like a lady in a period film, until Kestral lets out that amused little puff of breath.
“I’m getting too old for this…” Kestral says, miming pulling a detective’s fedora over her eyes.
“Have you decided what you’re going to work on next?”
“Step one, finish this party. My checklist --” Oh my plumbob, she has a checklist! Oh, my precious muffin. That’s toooo~ cute. “I wrote down that this’d be the last, but I don’t remember the 4th. One day, we’ll have to make that up. Gotta cross my Ts and all that jazz…” She slumps a little. “I don’t really know. But hey. I’ve got time to socialize, at least.”
“That’s true. I wouldn’t worry, right? You can try stuff out until you find a new goal to focus on.” I’m with you, honey!

That said, I do think she’s getting maybe a teeeeeny-tiny bit restless.

I saw her jogging around the neighborhood after we were done with the party. She just can’t sit still, can she?

Oh! Moving forward! Right!

At the end of the night, I make a phone call.
“Hey, Paint Studio Palette? I heard you’re hiring! Sign me up!”

And that’s the choice I made today! Thanks for listening, everyone! Mikooooo, signing out!

Zest’s Story


Freeze Frame. Record Scratch. That’s me. And I bet you’re wondering how I got here. Well, scratch that, I know you already know! Kestral’s been telling you all along. So how about we change places, and you tell me: How did I get here? Is that a thing I’m allowed to do, just go ‘hey, you, I’m going to sit here on stage, and you’re going to tell me some jokes! And then I’ll shout something about your mother, and you’ll have to find a way to make a joke out of me!’ Well, ha-ha! I already beat you to that part, buddy!

...This is a bit. You, um. Just to be sure, you get that, right? Geeze, I don’t ask that...Anymore...But, uh. You’re a tough audience. Quiet as all get-out. Well, maybe I’m just uneasy.


So, yeah, my birthday today. At the top of the hill, and nowhere to go but down! Well, that’ll make a nice change, I guess -- from having nowhere to go but up. I’m not sure I have a wish -- how about to get that aspiration done at long last, ha ha?


Wow, talk about your crow’s feet -- I feel like I got the whole bird!


I think some of my look has got to go -- a real beard, a different hairdo… That sort of thing. But there is a screaming inside my head here that I’m not sure how it’s not a screaming outside my head. I don’t know how to do this. I’m only good at being a young punk -- when did I become an adult?
Oh, right then? Forbidden words, I knew I forgot something!


And I forgot something else, too.
Sitting in the mail, just for me. From Hobart. And Ulises. And Bonnie. And Yaritza. And Annabelle. And Alyson -- really, when you start just going down the list, you’ve got to stop and realize “Wow, did I screw up!”

And there they were, children’s crafts.

Children’s toys that end up in Kite’s new room because Kestral gives them a glance-over and makes it so. They don’t know what else to give, they don’t know me -- and yet, there they are, in wrapped boxes with cute little cards, like I matter to them! Like they want me in their lives; like they’re not me, or something, and like I’m not the Landgraabs. Like, in a way that was, in all other ways, so determined that I thought I knew that!



I really screwed up.

But how do you fix that? What can you do? That night, as I’m returning from a quick check-in on the garden, a miracle happens.


Kite’s gently holding a girl’s shoulder, and I’d recognize that blonde anywhere -- it’s (still, woo!) in the mirror. A quick check of my messages tells me that’s Bonnie. My daughter, Maaike’s girl.

“Hey, why the heart-type rainstorm there, Bonnie? Don’t know if I can make summin’ happen about it, but you can lay it out,” he says. “An’ maybe that’ll help it feel better.”

“It’s nothing,” she says, insistently. There are tear-marks on her cheeks. She rubs at her eyes a little, and breathes out a sigh. “I don’t know why I came here. I mean, I’ve got a whole lot of people around, all the time! I guess… I guess I’m a little lonely.”

Somehow, I know what I need to say.

“Hi, a little lonely…” And as I say it, I feel it, like a bright ray of sunshine. Something wonderful opens up before me, and I realize I shouldn’t have been afraid at all.


“I’m dad.”

“D-dad?!” She looks totally paralyzed, but I think that got at least a little smile out of her. And an eye roll. Perfect. Beautiful.

“Thanks for the plate. It was really sweet. Wanna come inside?”

There’s a second where Bonnie isn’t sure; but her little friend there’s melted into the background of our lives, and she nods.


“I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I’ll try to do better,” is really the most I can say to her for now, about that whole mess that’s been my young adult life. “So, uh...What sort of things do you like?”

And she tells me. Food, some of it. Slightly too many voidcritters. Rainbows and kitties, that kind of things. Not a horse phase girl. It’s smooth if your version of smooth contains cat tongues and gravel roads, but really? That’s because it was way past time. But she’s a great kid. Groans like she pretends that’s not the most funny thing a person can do when they hear my kinda joke. They won’t be kids forever… I mean, I tried my best, but I couldn’t. I guess I can’t stop running away from what I am in my life now --


and that’s apparent!

Badum-tish
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline Deme

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Chapter 14: Many Birthdays, Many Stories, Part 2: Kestral, Kite, Akira

Kestral’s Story

Alright, this birthday set-up required some thoughtful timing, especially if I didn’t intend to waste my time on more than one cake. I mean, I did make a second cake, but it’s an emergency cake, in case someone. Like, say. Zest. Were to, you know, dump my cake in a dishwasher.


Step one, get the chuckleheads their birthdays before Akira has to go to work. I can probably at least give Akira a bagged lunch before he has to go racing out of the way.


Before the real party this evening, we get to what’s really, actually, the most important birthday of the day; it’s the biggest. I’m not going to groan over my adult birthday like it’s a big deal (the party’s a big deal, though.)

My boy.


The hair’s a surprise -- but that tends to happen in my family. I wouldn’t be surprised if it shakes out different, down the line… But I think, seeing his personality a bit more, he takes after Miko way more than me. He’s a Good kid.

He’s up getting his room sorted while we get the party started. Got guests invited -- just a couple, I want this nice and controlled so we don’t miss a beat. Time to wine and dine and entertain.


“Summer! Having a nice time? You want me to fix you up something? I’ve got some stuff with a lot of kick to it!” If she’s going to sit at my bar, the wining takes precedence.
“...That gesture...Doesn’t really look like a kick to me?” She asked, chuckling. What a beautiful set-up.
“Sometimes a kick, sometimes something a little stronger. Let me guess… Maybe a Zebra Fizz girl? It’s got a refreshing brightness.”
“Sounds good.”

Guests drinking drinks: Check!
I set some people on the spare cake I made! People eating cake: Check!

...In the end, I do everything I can without blowing out the candles, before it’s time to get going.

“Make a wish!” Miko shouts, but I don’t need wishes; I can get what I need to get done by myself. But for a goal… Let’s make sure nothing’s standing in my way of enjoying my descendents, or having ambrosia the moment I want it.


...Not my favorite look, tbh.


But babe’s still got it. And a gold party under my belt, too.


Kite’s swung right into using the activity table we bought him! I’m in his corner; we’ve got to get rolling on those aspirations, after all, and childhood’s only so long.
“Yeah, that looks good, don’t you think? You can probably move onto the next one, and then… We’ll probably need to buy a violin?”
“It’ll look like how it’ll look… But the look’s lookin’ like another look, so I gotta look a little more…” he looks up at me from his drawing and he gives me a smile, and I can no longer function the part of my brain that planned more than the next three seconds, so we’re going to draw a while! “...I can give jammin’ a shot, though?...Uhh… Does it gotta be a violin?”
“I don’t like them either, but pianos are pricey, and they don’t make guitars your size.”
What a shame. We both sigh.

But where’s he going to go, huh? I had my heart set on a few things pretty much out of the gate, so… I don’t know what’ll happen if he’s not going to throw his back into it. But as long as things get done, it’ll be fine if he’s not sure. Exactly as long as things get done.

There’s life going on outside my immediate family...I caught a little scene going on outside the house.

That’s really bad child-hugging form, Zest. We can all tell you’ve never done it.

Well, you’ve got to start somewhere. I wouldn’t mind a closer look at some of Kite’s contemporaries, either. You know. No time like a birthday for looking ahead.



Kite’s Story


“Three, two, one...Go!”

The way I figger, that’s as good a place as any to start, right? If it’s not, that’ll prob’ly be arright, too, right? Because it’s a start and it’s the rest that counts… I’m a little stuck on ‘the rest,’ but I’ll tell you about the party, ok?  I don’t think I’ve got much to say for an introduction; you’ve been listenin’ to Mom’s story, so you prob’ly know more about me than I do, I guess.

That’s cool, means we’re pals already. Nice to meetcha, pal.

I donno if my birthday’s anything particularly special... it kinda ends up in the middle of a birthday patch, ready to harvest. But it’s exciting, finally getting to see more of the world. And there’s cake, dude, cake! I guess not right away, birthday patch an’ all, you know?


 The partially-shaved head was...Well, I can’t get that for me, if that’s cool? I’m still not sure what I’ve got going on is right, you know? I donno how I’d know, you know? But… It can be a thing. I want a look that feels… I donno. You look outside, and sometimes you see kites, right? In the big blushing evenin’ that makes you want to tumble on into it. The kinda kites I saw while I was playing outside, they had these split tails -- like a fancy coat, maybe, the sort of bird you could see makin some music -- well, like… Conductin’, that’s the word, right? Nah, listen, it’s not the fancy coat I want. Just that that’s how the tails were; you don’t see that on other birds of prey, Mom told me, just little swallows and these kites. And there, up against the sky, they flew in these… Just really peaceful circles, just these perfect shapes in the sky like it was nothin’, just these big loops like they had nothing to do but look at that pretty sunset sky, too...An’ I want to look like that felt, if I had a way to look. ‘M I makin’ sense?

Like, my room’s I guess kind of a little easier; could use some more color, maybe? The old mirror still gets to live here, I’ve got a shine to it.


The bed was Mom’s idea -- it’s a good bed for catchin’ Zs, even if it makes me feel like an old lady… Not bad, though, I guess it’s a bed that feels like you wanna knit? Huh, you figger if it had a quilt you could snuggle into, that’d work it? I can probably swing somethin’, since it was a big gift… Oh! Gifts.  I got some new toys, too. I got a little jackalope buddy. He is a ranger, a jackalope ranger, watchin’ the forest for jackalope kids lightin’ jackalope fireworks. They could be jus’ plain ol’ fireworks, too, it’s no big deal where they get ‘em, but even if the lack of spark’ll pull you down, you gotta be good about forests.

Oh, hey! The birthdays. After that, that was when I got to chow down on some cake, an’ talk to some of the guests. We had some a’ the moms’ friends, An there was Uncle Johnny, but Uncle ‘Kira was at work, which… Ponder it a sec with me. That’s gotta be sad. He’s got a girl he likes here, and Mom’s cake, and he’s just gotta  -- gotta play the ol’ letter piano for a buck all day... Poor guy…

He isn’t the only one who had it bad, though… I don’t know what to do about... Well, lemee lay it out for you, maybe you’ll get it. So we’re having cake, and...


“How’s the b-day been, Uncle Johnny? Party’s a little late for you, but it’s not never, so close enough for good, right?”
But I just sort of get a stare back, an he starts prodding at his cake like it’s gonna have pudding behind the cake if he digs it out. Now, I don’t wanna just give up on the uncle a’ my heart, you know? “...Are you OK?”
“...Have I been hurting people?” He asks, an’ where I was supposed to know this from, I do not know. But he wasn’t really askin’ me any more than I was really answerin. But...
“Probably,” Ulrike says, an I’m thinkin’, woah! That’s a hard spike, aint it? Like she came out pew-pew-pew, all lasers firing. Phwew.
“You’re right, you’re right...  It’s a mess. I’m a mess.”

It hurt, seein’ him sad. Ka-san tried to teach me stuff f’r this, but… Maybe when you’re a grown-up, you’re up too high to get it? If you get bigger, ‘n the world gets bigger, does the stuff that bums you out also bloom on up? But. If it’s good ‘nough for Ka-san, I want it to cut mustard!

“...I don’t know what did that’d make a mess, but… If you did somethin’ bad, why not say ‘sorry’, Uncle? If it’s somethin’ you smashed to bits, can you fix it?”
An even if that was just sayin’ words, he still gives me a smile, an’ he says...
“...Maybe. I don’t know if I can.”

So I donno, either… I donno what I could really do there; there’s not a whole big thing I can do fer everyone or nothin’. Is it really cool to just look starward and hope, huh? Maybe...

Since one a’ my gifts was an art table (oh, hey; I was supposed to be on about birthdays, right? Sorry.), thinkin’ about that with a crayon seemed nice. Just lettin’ the color spool out until there was a little house lookin’ up at me. An’ the little house didn’t have a clue ‘bout how to fix an uncle, but I felt better.



So Mom really hopped on to it with this, leaning over and offerin little tipbits an’ stuff. She kinda wanted me to hurry a little, but, trip, they’re drawin’s. They won’t go nowhere if I’m not making ‘em go somewhere, so they’ll be there day or night. Maybe if it gets super dark, they’d need to hide out, but hey! Lightbulbs are pals for that. An’ there’s one thing she asked that really stood out to me:

“Kite, what’s your wish? Sky’s the limit, kiddo.”

“Donno, Mom… I can wish fer a wish fer a bit, I guess?”

 I don’t really got an answer; there I am at the door of the plane with the world zippin’ by down below, if you catch me, but I don’t think waitin’ for the sky’s the limit, ya know? Not for Mom. So she hmms and she’s blinking, like I said somethin’ weird. An that’s fair, right, I think I do say stuff not like the uncles or moms? She looks worried, and that’s tyin’ me up in knots, too.

“Can’t say I expected that…”  Her fingers go tap, tap, tap on her arms, rainin’ and each one’s a big drop -- an’ I drop, too, down. Down. Down. But fer both of us, it’s just a tick; just a little bit; Mom claps her hands together, an’ I bob back up. “But we got this, don’t you worry. We can cover a lot of ground in trying things up for you. Being an Artistic Prodigy’s quick, and if you like drawing, we can start from there.” An’ Mom gives me a big thumbs-up with that, so I figger, yeah, hey. ‘Sall good if it’s all good down the line. An’ she gets a grin outta the pics, too, so it’s a flow I can go with. ...Where’s a kid find a wish, anywho?

I figger, maybe outside! You wish on stars, ‘r I wish on stars, anyway, so maybe they’ve got somethin’ to spare for someone. An… In the whole a’ things, I’m glad I went out. A little too dark fer birds, though, but there were still folks out there! And I met another kid!


Bonnie’s the name; she’s a kid a bit older’n me, but she says she’ll help me out ‘round the playground if I need a hand of the people-meetin’ type. (She, uh, didn’t exactly say it like that, but you’re gettin’ what I mean, right? Cool, good.)

“You wanna hang inside? We got cake!” I tell her, an she’s happy ‘bout it for a thinnest-hand-spin, but then her face drops, an’ I ask…

Well, you heard what I asked already, right? An’ I’m glad I did; it all worked out really well, and I guess I helped Uncle Johnny along after all, huh? Seems like a good birthday to me.


Akira’s Story



“Happy new phase of life, Akira.” “Wow, thanks, Akira.” Phhh.


Ulrike might be pregnant again....Will this one be mine? She says all her boys are. And I want to believe that… But I can’t know. I just can’t believe that. I don’t want to go over there, and look at their faces, and not see any sign of myself. I don’t want to shatter that thought.

...That’s kind of more interesting than my birthday. What a pain.

I stumble at the cake, which just feels like an omen from up above.  I don’t even get to eat a slice! Ulrike gets to hang around with my dog of a housemate, but nooo, not Akira! Akira’s got to go from aging up right to work! Blow out the candles, and go out the door!


I program all day, and then I go home and I program some more! I miss running around for jewels… I miss holiday crackers…


And my mind wanders to my romantic life. I want to be swept off my feet! I’m not getting any younger -- a birthday’s a good time for that, too… Shouldn’t I be building a life with my soulmate? Instead… There are a lot of women in my life, but no one who makes me feel safe. Like Ulrike.

...I’m going to pay to help support the kid, of course. I’m not a monster. It’s a little pathetic, right? I lie in bed awake at night thinking about whose bed she might be in, but I still pay up… I’m just afraid of being alone. What if I never find someone who can have my trust? What then?

Everyone else seems to feel like their life is going somewhere. What do they have that I don’t?

Maybe I should go outside for a bit. Go for a walk, sure it’s late out, but…

Oh, wow. What a beautiful woman… It’d be wrong of me not to say something, and maybe she…
Stories In Progress:
The Avyan Immortal Dynasty

Offline MarianT

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Everyone (except maybe Akira) had a great birthday, but I really loved Johnny's story. I'm glad his presents made him come to a few realizations, and glad he's making friends with Bonnie. The new beard looks great!
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Offline BallerinaHippo

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I'm not completely caught up yet, but just wanted to pop in and say that I'm really enjoying this.  Your story is one of those that I like to "save" and binge read several updates at once.

You're doing such a good job at making these characters come to life.  Miko is my favorite so far, because how can you not love adorable, sweet Miko?  Kite is rapidly winning my affection, too.  And Akira?  Well, I just want to shake some sense into him!  But that means you are doing a good job of writing him.  Ha! 

Keep up the good work.  I'll be reading, and I'll try to get caught up and comment more frequently.  :)

 

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