Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Five - Part 3 (B)


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Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Five - Part 3 (B)

  1. 1. Alexander strode up the walkway to the front door. He managed to not grit his teeth as he rang the doorbell, though it stung a bit that he had to ask for permission to enter his own home. He waited patiently as he heard what sounded like the resounding sound of a pipe organ playing from within. He rang the doorbell again, this time tapping his foot with impatience while he waited for the caretaker to answer the door. “Come on. I can hear you in there. I know you are home,” he whispered, vexed.
  2. 2. After a few moments, the organ music stopped and the door opened. He straightened his shoulders as he stood face to face with the caretaker of his home, Cecil Goodytwoshoes. “It's about time!” Alexander snapped. “Didn't you hear me ringing the doorbell? I've been out here for quite some time.” He was prepared for an argument until he saw that Cecil was regarding him with completely neutral expression. “Mayor Goth, might I inquire as to why you are here? Your insistent ringing of the doorbell has not been a welcome addition to my daily practice.”
  3. 3. Alexander was about to launch into a tirade, but Cecil's mostly bland but slightly curious expression stopped him, and he was irritated. He was accustomed to people jumping and obeying when he showed any ire, but it was apparent that Cecil wasn't going to do any of that. Another thing that irritated him was the fact that he was slightly jealous of Cecil's calmness; something that Alexander, on his best day, could never be. He ground his teeth and attempted not to scowl. “Mr. Goodytwoshoes, may I come in? There is some business that I would like to discuss with you.” Cecil stood there for a moment longer before he stepped back with a slight nod to allow Alexander into the house.
  4. 4. Before Alexander could say anything as they sat down in the parlor, Cecil said, “Cecilia, grown up gentlemen have business, very dull, do go upstairs to your room, dear girl.” “Yes, Papa,” the dark haired girl replied and she exited the room. Alexander's attention, however, was distracted by the cat that had walked in. When he saw the animal, all of his thoughts of trying to be diplomatic left.
  5. 5. “Cats? You have cats? That was not part of the deal when you were given the position of caretaker. I'm sorry, but any money that I was going to give you for keeping my house in order will now be taken away. The furniture looks clean of the cat hair, but I'm quite certain that it's buried deep within!” He couldn't shake the feeling that Cecil was acting like he owned the house and Alexander was the one who was the guest; an unwelcome guest at that.
  6. 6. Despite Alexander's tone, Cecil appeared unruffled. “Mayor Goth, I must insist that you do not raise your voice in this house,” was all he said.
  7. 7. “This is not your house!” Alexander yelled. “This is my house! This house has been in my family for generations. You were placed here only to properly maintain it until I was able to reclaim the property. That is all. You have absolutely no right to claim this as your own! Don't give me commands! I can say and do whatever I want in my house!” He was aware of how childish he sounded, especially when he was confronted with the other man's neutral expression. If he didn't know any better, he could have sworn that Cecil appeared almost bored. Alexander took a deep breath and lifted his chin before he continued. “Yes. It is way past time for me to reclaim what is rightfully mine,” he said. “Effective immediately, you are to vacate the premises and find new lodgings for yourself, your daughter and your cats. When my family and I are settled back in, I will then go on through and review the rest of the property. If I find so much as a single mess, then I will send the cleaning bill to you. Have I made myself clear?”
  8. 8. “Perhaps, good sir, when you had decided to pass a law requiring all citizens to register their ancestral homes, it would have been in your best interest to do so as well. As I am in full compliance with said law and have registered this as the Goodytwoshoes Manor, I find no contractual obligations to accede to your request,” Cecil replied. “But...but...” Alexander sputtered. “But, no! This is my house!”
  9. 9. Cecil continued on as if Alexander hadn't interrupted. “Fortunately for you, I am not without concern for your plight. Anticipating some confusion with the registry of this home, I took it upon myself to delve deeply into your family's history. Though it was no small expense, I was able to locate and register the home your family occupied before this one.”
  10. 10. Alexander felt his mouth drop open as he considered the other man’s words. Another house? And older house? Maybe it'll be better than this one! “I didn’t know that…” he cleared his throat and began again. “I mean, I was unaware that my family still had properties after ‘Project Pleasantview.’ This is somewhat of a relief to hear.” Cecil raised an eyebrow. “While it is a point of pride with me, not everyone would consider it a grievous offense for one to not be fully versed in the minutia of one’s own family’s holdings and history.” Alexander blinked and nodded, listening to Cecil’s words, but not hearing the meaning behind them. “You are absolutely right, Mr. Goodytwoshoes. Thank you very much for doing that.” All feelings of animosity towards the other man left as Alexander imagined how grand the other Goth Manor house would be.
  11. 11. Cecil stood up. “I do not seek any gratitude for my efforts in this endeavor. I agree with your law and believe it important that all families be in their proper place. Now, if you will excuse me, this whole affair has taken more time than originally anticipated. I am sure you are as eager to see your ancestral home as I am to see you leave mine.”
  12. 12. Alexander stood up as well. “I thank you for your time, Mr. Goodytwoshoes. You are correct; I would like to see this alleged property that you spoke of. I sincerely hope that this new Goth Manor is as grand as this, er, the old one.” Cecil's lips curved slightly. “I would not be misspoken were I to state that the current Goth Manor is well befitting one of your current station.” Alexander smiled widely back, pleased with the compliment. “That is very good to hear, Mr. Goodytwoshoes. Good day to you, sir.” He nodded slightly in Cecil’s direction and walked out the door, anxious to get to the courthouse and obtain the deed to his new home.
  13. 13. “Are you sure this is the right address?” Lucy asked. They had driven around town for hours, trying to locate the house that the court house had registered in the Goth name. The building that they had found certainly did not fit the pictures Alexander had in his head. “Yes,” Alexander said through clenched teeth. “This is the right address.” Lucy shifted uncomfortably. Alexander was not the most pleasant person to be around when he was upset. “I thought you had all of these buildings demolished,” she said softly. “Not if they are registered as historical landmarks,” he replied with exaggerated calm. “Oh,” was the only thing she could say.
  14. 14. Alexander seethed as he and Lucy turned away from the last surviving Budget Slum Unit in Pleasantview. He felt his eyelid twitch as he remembered Cecil's words: “I would not be misspoken were I to state that the current Goth Manor is well befitting one of your current station.” He would have applauded the insult if it would have been directed at someone else. He would also have applauded the way that the other man made sure there was nothing to be done about the situation, were the target someone other than Alexander. Jealousy mingled with outrage filled him as he drove back to their apartment. ***
  15. 15. “Nice suit,” Rose giggled at Jill. Jill looked at her own suit, mortified. She had bought it brand new with the money from her part time job specifically for the pool party Rose was throwing. All that work, and it turned out that her bathing suit was identical to Rose's. “Oh, no,” she said. “I'm sorry. I should have--” “Why the heck are you apologizing?” Rose asked. “It looks good on you. We both, clearly, have great taste in clothes. Great minds think alike, you know,” she said, trying to make Jill feel better. It worked as Jill gave a smile in response.
  16. 16. “Yeah, that is a real nice suit, Jill,” Karen said in a snide tone. “It looks an awful lot like like one I donated to the thrift store last year.” She waited for some retort and was irritated when it appeared that neither Jill nor Rose heard her. “I said--”
  17. 17. “Karen,” Eden interrupted. “What?” Karen tried to reply innocently.
  18. 18. “Leave her alone. Leave them both alone.” Eden's voice was calm as she chided her friend. “Why? What do you care?”
  19. 19. Eden paused as she lined up her shot. “Because look at them. They're happy. I like seeing them happy. Besides, they're cute together,” she replied. Karen just rolled her eyes, but she managed to refrain from saying anymore mean things.
  20. 20. Later that night though, Rose was not as willing to keep quiet. “Eden, why do you keep bringing her around? I think you're the only one who likes her.”
  21. 21. Eden considered her cousin's question for a moment before she answered with, “Because...because I feel bad for her.”
  22. 22. Rose gave the other girl a doubtful look. “You feel bad for her? Really? Why? She's spoiled, she's mean, and she'll probably be like a major whorenado when she gets to college and you feel bad for her?”
  23. 23. Eden nodded. “I think she's really insecure. She's adopted and she has no idea who her real parents are. I think she's afraid that if she lets anyone get too close that they'll leave her like her parents did.” Rose was skeptical. “Really? She told you this?” Eden shook her head. “No, not in so many words, but it kinda makes sense if you think about it. Just look at it from her point of view.” “I think you're wrong. I think she's just plain old mean.”
  24. 24. Eden shook her head. “Nobody is completely mean. Everyone has at least one redeeming quality, you know. Sometimes you just have to look for it,” she said as she turned and walked away. ***
  25. 25. A few days later, Rose, Amelia, and Miles sat in the parlor and talked about Rose's upcoming high school graduation and transition to college. “So, Rose, as a Family Sim, I'm sure that you can't wait to go off and find a boy to marry immediately. But, if you could do me a favor and not jump into anything too soon. I'd hate for you to end up in an unhappy marriage like your Aunt Mary,” Miles said.
  26. 26. Rose gave her father a confused look. “Um, a boy?”
  27. 27. “Who said anything about me wanting to marry a boy?”
  28. 28. Miles laughed. “Well, yeah, a boy. Who else would you marry?”
  29. 29. “Oh, Miles,” Amelia said with pity. “What?” he asked. “Really? You don't know?” Miles became confused. “Know what?”
  30. 30. “Oh my God, Dad, I've been dating Jill, that's what! Geeze, don't you pay attention?”
  31. 31. “What? I thought she was just your friend!” Miles protested. “I'm sorry. I really try not to think about my daughter's gender preferences, okay?” “You don't have a problem with this, do you?” Amelia asked. “What? No! Of course not! Seriously, I never thought about it. I'm sure that's like her thinking about her own parents and what goes on in our--”
  32. 32. “Gross, Dad,” Rose hastily interrupted. “That's just gross! Please don't continue with that because I'll die of embarrassment otherwise. Can I go now? Jill's coming over and we wanted to go shopping and pick some things up for college.”
  33. 33. Miles got up and gave her a hug. “Yeah, of course. I'm sorry. I want you to be happy no matter who you're with.” “I know, Dad. Thanks.”
  34. 34. Amelia gave her a hug as well. “He means well. He's just very silly sometimes.” “God, I hope I never embarrass my kids as much as he embarrasses me sometimes.” “Actually, you probably will. It's part of the fun of being a parent. At least, that's what my mother told me.” “Yeah, well, grandma's pretty weird herself,” Rose laughed.
  35. 35. As Rose was wrapping things up with her parents, Jill walked towards the house.
  36. 36. She stopped on the sidewalk by the gate entrance and heaved a sigh. She really liked Rose, but sometimes she felt very insecure because she was poor while Rose was rather well off. She had no idea what Rose saw in her.
  37. 37. Before she thought anymore on the matter, Rose came skipping down the sidewalk and threw her arms around her. “Hey! Ready to go shopping?” Jill gave her a huge smile. “I take it that it went well? They didn't freak out or anything?” “Yeah, my parents are pretty cool. Just never let them know that I said that because otherwise I'd never hear the end of it.” “Your secret is safe with me,” Jill giggled.
  38. 38. “Sweet. Do you just want to walk and window shop? It's a nice day.” “That sounds great,” Jill replied as she slipped her hand into Rose's. ***
  39. 39. “Gilbert! Holy cow, when did you come back to town?” Malcolm greeted his old friend from Bluewater Village. Gilbert Jacquet shook Malcolm's hand eagerly. “Cassidy and I just moved back a few days ago,” the dark haired man beamed. Malcolm grinned back. “Cassidy, eh? I see there was someone who managed to finally tie you down judging by the wedding ring you're wearing.” “Yep. I see you're wearing one as well. Congratulations to the both of us, I'd say. Belated congratulations on being able to adopt a child as well. That is, of course, if the young woman behind us is indeed yours.” Malcolm smiled. “Yeah, that's Karen. Who would have thought that I would have been a father, hey?”
  40. 40. “Cass and I would like to adopt, but everything's changed since 'Project Pleasantview.' There's a lot more red tape. Heck, Cass and I couldn't even get married here. We had to do it somewhere else. I also couldn't get J'Adore back; I had to reopen a smaller bakery down the road from here, J'Adore II. But, despite the fact that it's smaller, we're still getting tons of business.” “That's great, Gil. Do you want to come inside for dinner? Frances is cooking, not me, so you know it'll be edible.” Gilbert shook his head reluctantly. “I can't. Not today. I have a ton of stuff to do over at the bakery. Rain check maybe? It'd be nice if we all got together for dinner or something.” “Sounds like a plan. I'll give you a call.”
  41. 41. “Who was that, Dad?” Karen asked as Gilbert left. Malcolm continued smiling as he watched his friend walk down the road. “Gilbert. He's an old friend of mine from college. We were in the same Fraternity.” He laughed at some of the memories that popped into his head and then he turned to Karen. “So. Report Card Day. Let's see it.”
  42. 42. Karen sighed as she pulled out the sheet of paper. The grades were okay, but the comments the teachers wrote were not. ~Needs to use time wisely ~Social Butterfly ~Needs to learn to respect fellow students ~Constantly tardy ~Needs to come to class prepared ~Flippant The comments were nothing new, but she realized that she was going to get into trouble from her parents. Or, at the very least, she was going to have to sit through another long lecture of 'how she was raised to act better than this.' She thrust her report card at Malcolm and walked inside, not even bothering to watch him read it.
  43. 43. Her cellphone started to ring as she walked into the living room. “What?” she answered impatiently. “No, I'm sorry, Eden, but I probably won't be able to do anything tonight. I'm sure the 'rents are going to have a fit when they see what my teachers wrote.” She rolled her eyes as she listened to her friend. “Well, yeah, they had some stupid things to say about me. They don't like me like they like you. Not everyone can be as perfect as you are.” She felt a pang of guilt as the words came out of her mouth. “I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I just have to listen to the same boring lecture over and over again. It's not fair. They just don't get that my teachers don't like me. Look, I'll talk to you later, okay?” She snapped her phone shut before Eden could say anything else.
  44. 44. She flopped down on the couch and sulked. School was boring. It was the same old routine everyday. She wished that she and her dads could go on a trip around the world again. She would have even settled for going and seeing some of the other towns nearby, like Strangetown or Veronaville. Anything would be better than the tediousness school brought. She sighed woefully as she waited for Malcolm and Frances to lecture her about her attitude. Again. ***
  45. 45. The next day Karen decided to skip school. Both of her fathers, as well as Peyton, left for work early, so she didn't even need to play sick. After taking as long as she wanted getting showered and dressed, she strolled down main street looking for something to do. Anything was better than sitting in class on a nice day.
  46. 46. She made her way into on of the little boutiques and looked at the expensive clothes. She had a ton of spare cash on hand seeing as even though her fathers were disappointed in her school conduct, they didn't cut her off from her allowance.
  47. 47. Not finding any clothes to her liking, she made her way over to her second most favorite thing to buy: jewelry. With a critical eye, she peered at the necklaces, watches, rings, and bracelets before she settled on a few pieces that she liked.
  48. 48. The clerk at the cash register watched Karen intently. “Aren't you supposed to be in school?” she asked.
  49. 49. “Aren't you just supposed to ring me up and not ask questions in case I were to complain and get you fired?” Karen retorted sullenly. The cashier, who needed the money she earned from her school's Co-Op program, pasted on a big, fake smile. “Of course. The customer is always right after all,” she said in as cheerful of a voice as possible. Karen just scowled and paid for her items.
  50. 50. Karen spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town, ducking down alleys when she saw an adult who would know her. She had fun, she felt daring, and she sighed sadly when she noticed the time. She wanted to make sure that she got home around the same time the school bus would have dropped her off so her fathers wouldn't know that she had played hooky. Unfortunately, there was a slight snag in those plans when she noticed that her fathers were already home.
  51. 51. “You skipped school?” Malcolm asked angrily. Karen tried to look contrite, but Malcolm didn't buy it. “You skipped school! You skipped school the day after we gave you a lecture about how you need to behave appropriately?” “I'm sorry--” “No you aren't!” Malcolm yelled. He sighed and tried to calm himself.
  52. 52. “On top of that, do you know how worried your father was when the school called him and told him that you weren't there? Do you know how frantic he was when he tried to call your cell phone and you didn't answer?” “I didn't think—” “No, it's quite apparent that you didn't! You're not going anywhere after dinner. It looks like we're going to have to have a very long talk about how things are going to change around here, young lady!”
  53. 53. Frances tried to keep the conversation polite during dinner, but Karen just sat there glaring. Malcolm was so upset that he actually ate dinner in a proper manner.
  54. 54. After the usual lecture of 'you should know better' and 'what were you thinking' and, of course, 'you were raised better than this,' Malcolm said something totally and completely new. “You're grounded.” “What?” Karen asked in disbelief. “You're grounded. That means no going out with your friends, no television, and no computer. Oh, and no phone.”
  55. 55. Karen stood up and glared with her arms crossed. “You're grounding me? That's something that you do to little kids! I'm almost an adult!” “Well, when you act like a little kid, you're going to be treated like one,” Malcolm said. “Karen, sweetheart,” Frances tried to say in a peaceful tone, “believe it or not, it's for your own good.”
  56. 56. “Oh whatever! Do you honestly believe that bullshit line? You're just doing it to be mean!” “Watch your language, young lady! No daughter of mine will have a foul mouth. Not if she knows what's good for her!” Malcolm yelled. “If you keep it up, your punishment will be worse!”
  57. 57. “Screw you!” she shouted. “You aren't my real parents anyway! Why do you even bother trying?” Malcolm's mouth dropped open while Frances covered a gasp with his hand.
  58. 58. Karen felt horrible as soon as the words came out of her mouth, but instead of apologizing, she walked past her fathers and made her way up the stairs.
  59. 59. Malcolm put his arm around Frances. “Are you okay?” “No, Mal, I am not. Why would she say something like that?” “I don't know, Fran. She knows better. She has to.” “Really? Are you certain?” Malcolm tried to smile. “Maybe it's just a phase. Don't worry. I'm sure tomorrow she'll come down and apologize. She knows that we love her.” “I certainly hope that you are right,” Frances said sadly.
  60. 60. Upstairs in her room, Karen looked around at all the things that she loved. She knew that her fathers now hated her for what she said and they wouldn't want her anymore. She sighed sadly and wished that she could turn back the clock five minutes to undo the damage. She idly poked at the pretty ballerina jewelry box that had been left on her doorstep on her last birthday. She often wondered who left her the gifts. The jewelry box, she thought and something clicked in her mind.
  61. 61. She sat down on the floor and pulled her favorite old doll onto her lap; the doll that her fathers told her was also a mysterious gift. “Are you from my real dad?” she whispered to the doll. “Do you think my real dad would want me now? I don't think my dads, I mean, Frances and Malcolm, are going to want me anymore. But, if my real dad has been leaving me all of these gifts, maybe that means that he wants me? Maybe he and my mom will take me back?” She stood up with the doll in her arms and got ready for bed, convinced that Malcolm and Frances were going to kick her out in the morning.
  62. 62. She tucked the doll next to her pillow and she climbed under the covers. “My mom had blond hair, just like me,” she whispered to the doll. A vague memory of a blond woman laying on the ground and a dark figure entering the room flitted through her mind as she fell asleep.
  63. 63. Thaddeus, who with his exceptional ears had been eavesdropping all evening, smiled. “Oh, I think this will work out quite nicely. Is she your daughter, Thanatos? Is that why you've been so interested in her and leaving her gifts?” He laughed out loud. “This is going to be more fun than I thought.” He laughed again and he disappeared into the night. ***
  64. 64. “So Karen left for college after that? Really? I thought that we would all get together or something and then we would all leave for school together. That's too bad. I was really looking forward to that.” Eden tried to keep the sound of disappointment out of her voice as she talked to Rose. “Well, yeah, the rest of us can still do something. Where do you want to hang out?” She blinked when she heard Rose's answer. “Here? want to come over here? No, that's fine it's just...”
  65. 65. “Oh drat! This seam is crooked! It's not perfect. Oh dear, now I will have to start this entire project over! “
  66. 66. “Whoa! Am I shrinking? Why are you guys so huge? I'm so small! I can't see the television! Are they cooking grilled cheese today?”
  67. 67. “I don't know. Couldn't we all come over to your house? I..I don't think my parents are really up for having visitors, know what I mean? Is that okay? Great! I'll see you in a bit then!” Eden hung up the phone and sighed with relief. She was glad to be able to get out of the house and even more glad that her friends wouldn't witness what her parents were like at home. That was another worry she had when it came to having to get married. What if her future husband didn't understand? She sighed again and shook her head as if to clear those thoughts away. She wanted to have fun with her friends today. She wanted to make plans for more fun in college. Getting married was a long way off. Eden pasted a happy smile on her face and got permission from Mary to go out. ***
  68. 68. Later that night, Zane looked at his aunt and uncle's house miserably as he paced back and forth. He knew that he really shouldn't be there and he knew that he wasn't supposed to say anything. But, he wanted to see them. He fidgeted with his hands for a moment and then decided against ringing the doorbell. As he was about to turn and leave, he heard Kitty's voice. “Zane?” Zane winced and slowly turned to his aunt.
  69. 69. “What are you doing just pacing in front of the house?” Kitty asked as she hugged Zane. “You're family and that means that you can just walk right on in.”
  70. 70. Zane closed his eyes and hugged his aunt tight. “I..I know,” he said. “Then why are you being so silly?” Because you wouldn't be so happy to see me if you knew that I got your papers today, he thought. He shrugged uncomfortably. “I don't know,” he answered lamely. “Oh, Zane. Come inside. Come on!” Kitty ordered and he couldn't help but obey her.
  71. 71. As they both entered the house, Zane tried to speak. “Aunt Kitty, I--” Kitty turned to him and held up her finger, cutting him off. “No.” “But--” he tried again. “Zane, no. I know what you're going to say. It's written all over your face. And I can tell that you want to apologize, but you shouldn't. It's a natural part of life and you shouldn't feel guilty about being part of it.” “But--” “No buts. Now, go over and say hello to your Uncle Sebastian. And smile! You look so nice when you do.”
  72. 72. Zane attempted a small smile as he greeted his uncle. “Hi Uncle Sebastian,” he said quietly. “Hey kiddo. How are things?” Zane bit his lip. “Fine,” he lied.
  73. 73. Sebastian hugged Zane tighter. “You're a good kid. It's hard to believe that my sister managed to produce someone like you.” I don't think you know what's going to happen tomorrow, Uncle Sebastian. I don't think you'll be saying that I'm a good person then, Zane thought. “Thanks,” was all he said out loud. Sebastian patted his back and gave Zane a smile. “I mean it, you know. I'm sorry I ever thought otherwise.” “Thank you. That..that really means a lot to me.” ***
  74. 74. “...and so then Ang promised me that she'll have the picture delivered here as soon as she can. I'm so glad that you finally agreed to pose in the Victorian clothing because you looked so hot in them!” Kitty said enthusiastically. Sebastian sighed. “Well, I'm glad that it made you happy even though I still think that future generations will look at the picture and think that we were a couple of freaks with a costume fetish.” “So what? We won't be around to listen to their comments. And if they get really loud about it, we can just haunt them! A few soiled pants later and they'll stop.”
  75. 75. Sebastian felt a tightening in his chest and he pulled Kitty close. “Please stop. I don't want to talk about dying. I don't want even want to think about it.” “Well,” Kitty said in a soft tone, “what do you want to talk and think about?” “Nothing. I just want to hold you forever and let the rest of the world pass us by.” “Sebastian, that's not how it works and you know it.” “Yeah, I know. But I can pretend for the night, right?” “Well, I suppose. Especially since you were a fairly good sport about the entire Victorian clothing thing,” she replied before kissing him.
  76. 76. A little while later, the two of them laid in each others arms. Sebastian stroked Kitty's shoulder and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “Thank you,” he whispered. “For what?” “For being you. For sharing my life with me. For everything. I couldn't have asked for a better partner.” Kitty giggled. “Believe me, Sebby, the pleasure has been all mine.” ***
  77. 77. “I'm sorry, Keith. But, we have a very strict rule at this house and that rule would be that everyone is required to wear pants,” Sebastian tried to explain as diplomatically as he possibly could to Keith the next morning. “What about Mary and Eden? They wear dresses.” “Well, I mean that, um, all men are required to wear pants.” “I've seen Goopy. He rarely wears pants.” Sebastian sighed in an exasperated manner. “Goopy is mentally challenged! Put some damn pants on!” “QUIT OPPRESSING ME! PANTS EMBARGO FOREVER!”
  78. 78. “So, are you ever going to let Keith Smite someone?” Kitty asked me as we heard Keith's yell from outside. “Well, I was going to have him Smite Alexander, and I still might. But when he was going to do it changed. So, yeah, eventually. But I don't know when anymore.” “Oh, Alexander would be a good choice.” “I totally agree, and it's a better choice than, say, Miles or Zane. People might actually get mad if it was someone that they liked.” “There's always Goopy you know.” “Very true and believe me, he is another candidate that I'm considering.”
  79. 79. I walked to the other end of the pool table and chalked up my cue stick. “So, Kitty, how are you doing?” I tried to ask as nonchalantly as possible.
  80. 80. Kitty smiled. “Good. Well, as good as can be, I suppose. I mean, Mary is pretty miserable. More miserable than normal. Do you know what that's about?” I shrugged. “Yeah, kinda,” was all I said in response. Kitty nodded in understanding. “By the way, Zane came by last night looking all guilty and stuff.”
  81. 81. I looked down and idly kicked the stick. “Oh, he did? Did...did he say anything?” “He really didn't have to. It was pretty clear on his face what he wanted to say. I also could tell that he wanted to be all ridiculous and apologize. By the way, you've really made his life miserable by being so mean to him. I figured I'd put that out there for the record and stuff.” I tried to smile, but I couldn't.
  82. 82. I chalked my stick up again so I had something to do with my hands. “I'm really gonna miss having you around,” I finally said. “It was awesome having you here and I'm glad that everything that had to happen to get you here did happen.” “I'll miss being around,” Kitty said softly. “I had fun.” I coughed, trying not to get choked up. “Try not to scare your descendants too much, okay?” Kitty laughed. “I will make absolutely no promises.”
  83. 83. Before we could say anything more, Keith walked in. “Hey Kitty! Tell your husband to stop harshing my Pants Embargo buzz!” Kitty rolled her eyes. “For the love of God, Keith, put some pants on! One of these days, someone is going to take an embarrassing picture and put it in the worst context possible. How funny do you think this entire Pants Embargo business will be then?” “Aw, come on! What are the chances of that happening?” Keith asked with a snort. Kitty just shook her head. ***
  84. 84. Mary and Eden were the only ones who joined Sebastian and Kitty that night. Unlike the Lewis family, Mary thought that it was far more tasteful to keep the Grim Reaper's arrival private. “I'll see you on the other side,” Kitty said as she gave Sebastian one last kiss. “I'll be right behind you,” Sebastian promised.
  85. 85. As they parted, Kitty felt Zane's arrival. She could feel the mixed emotions, his attempt to be cheerful, deep underlying sadness, and most of all, guilt, emanating from him. She shook her head as he moved to stand in front of her.
  86. 86. “Um, Kitty Devereaux,” Zane began, reluctant to use her name without the title of 'Aunt' in front of it, “It''s time,” he said simply.
  87. 87. “Oh my God, what? It's time for me to leave this plane of existence? What a total surprise! I totally didn't see this coming last night when you came over with that guilty look on your face!” Kitty said in mock surprise, trying to lighten Zane's mood.
  88. 88. Zane paused, and Kitty could sense a slight bolt of humor through the other emotions. Zane continued. “You have led an exceptional life and you will be rewarded in the afterlife,” he said, deciding to stick to the generic Grim Reaper script.
  89. 89. He produced a suitcase and placed it next to her. “Oh my God! Is that a suitcase? I totally didn't see that coming!” she said, trying very hard to make Zane laugh. Zane only shook his head, but Kitty could sense that he was smiling a little bit under his hood.
  90. 90. “Oh my God! A Mai Tai? No way! You are the most awesome Grim Reaper ever!” Kitty smiled as she took the drink that Zane had silently handed her. “And all of this was so totally unexpected! How cool it would be to be the Grim Reaper and hand out neat things like this to everyone!”
  91. 91. “Aunt Kitty, it's not your job to make me feel better. It's my job to make you feel better,” Zane tried to scold. “But, thank you. Thank you for everything. I...I'm going to miss you.” “Oh my God! Zane? You're the Grim Reaper? No way!” Zane paused and blinked. “Wait, what?”
  92. 92. “I'm kidding,” she said. “I was on a roll and I really wanted to get that last laugh in. Do you feel better?” Curiously, though, she could sense that Zane was still very upset about something and she could tell that he was trying to cover it up when he said, “Um, yes. I am feeling better.” “You're lying.” Zane shook his head. “I'm sorry, Aunt Kitty, but we have to go.” And with that, Kitty disappeared.
  93. 93. As she did, Sebastian stopped crying and gave a trembling smile to Zane's disappearing form. “Okay, I'm ready for you to take me as well,” he said.
  94. 94. Zane's shoulders slumped as he pulled off the lei, which disappeared with Ruth and Jezebel. He fidgeted with his bony fingers a moment before he finally mumbled, “I'm sorry, Uncle Sebastian.'s not your time yet.”
  95. 95. It took a moment for Sebastian process what Zane had said. When it hit him, he felt his heart drop into his stomach. “What? you mean that you have to lead her to where she needs to go and then you'll be back for me later today?” he asked in a hopeful voice. “No,” Zane whispered sadly, “I don't know when your time is up.” Zane's own sadness mixed with Sebastian's, causing Sebastian to fall to his knees.
  96. 96. “Please, no!” Sebastian sobbed. “Please. I can't live without her. I can't survive another wife's death, and I don't want to! Kitty is my other half. Please, take me with as well. What is a few days to you? To me, it's a lifetime. Please! Please don't leave me here alone without her.” “Uncle Sebastian, I can't. Please stop. I can't. Please don't ask me,” Zane cried, horrified, as he tried to pull Sebastian up.
  97. 97. Sebastian yanked his arm away and remained on his knees. Zane started wringing his hands, trying to keep his rising panic and sadness at bay. “Please, Uncle Sebastian,” Zane pleaded, “please. Please don't beg me to murder you. That's what it would be. Please don't make me a liar. I don't murder people. I can't murder people. Taking you before your time is murder. Please don't turn me into my mother. I don't want to be more of a monster.” “Kitty is my soul mate. It's murder if you make me live without her,” Sebastian said irrationally. Ruth and Jezebel reappeared, unaccompanied by their regular Hula music. “Zane?” Jezebel asked, crossing her arms. “What's taking you so long?”
  98. 98. Both Sebastian and Zane ignored the Hula Girls as Sebastian stood up, anger evident on his face. “Look at me,” he glared through his tears. “I am looking you,” Zane whispered.
  99. 99. “No you aren't. I want you to look me in the eye. I want to see you look me in the eye as you tell me that you are leaving me here, alone, without my wife. I want to stare into Death's eyes as he tells me plainly that he's just doing his job. I want you to look me in the eye as you tell me that this doesn't affect you. I don't want to hear all of this as your face is hidden behind your hood. Look at me!”
  100. 100. Jezebel tried to maintain a pleasant, even tone as she said, “Zane, don't do it. I know this hurts, but you knew this was coming. He's just upset. Looking him in the eye will only make this worse. Don't leave yourself unprotected. Especially not when your uncle is being irrational.” Zane ignored her as he sadly spoke a single, magical word.
  101. 101. He stood miserably before Sebastian in his human form. “Uncle Sebastian, please don't turn me into my mother. Please don't beg me to kill you.” Sebastian poked Zane in the chest. “Say it. Tell me that you are willing to let me suffer. Say it!” A tear trickled down Zane's cheek. “I don't want you to suffer. I never want anyone to suffer. Seeing you upset is tearing me up! Please stop. I don't think I can handle this!” The last part was said in a desperate whisper.
  102. 102. Sebastian wiped the tears from his eyes as he choked back another sob. “I know. I'm sorry,” he finally managed to say. “ obviously just don't know what it feels like to lose your other half, do you?” Zane's eyes only widened slightly, but the emotion of horror shot through the room, mixing itself with the sadness. Sebastian noticed this and he asked, “Or do you?”
  103. 103. He pressed on. “Have you ever loved anyone so much that it feels like you would die if you had to live a single minute without her? Have you? Do you?” Zane covered his face with his hands. “She makes me feel alive. I..I almost feel human when I'm around her. She..she's my lifeline,” he said in a barely audible voice. “And living a single day without Kitty makes me feel dead. If you know love, then you know exactly how I feel.” Sebastian responded sadly. Guilt and hurt filled the room.
  104. 104. Ruth interrupted them. “Zane,” she said softly, “Zane, you need to control yourself. It's too much! You're going to destroy yourself!” More sadness flooded into the room as Zane wiped his eyes. “Zane!” Ruth's tone was sharp as her hand went to her forehead. “I'm trying,” Zane said. “No you aren't! Try harder!”
  105. 105. He looked up at the ceiling as the emotions swirling around the room slowly began to dissipate. Ruth sighed with relief.
  106. 106. Zane looked at his uncle. “I know what it feels like. I..I'll do it. I'm the only one who can.” “Oh, Zane, no,” Ruth wispered.
  107. 107. Sebastian pulled Zane into a fierce hug. “Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for understanding,” he cried with relief. “Zane, you can't,” Ruth said. “I don't want him to suffer,” Zane said. He hugged Sebastian tightly...
  108. 108. ...and did what only a Grim Reaper could do.
  109. 109. A powerful blow of sadness, misery, and guilt filled the room. Zane ran his hand through his hair and simply said, “I'm not doing this anymore. I'm done.” And he walked out the door, disappearing before it shut. ***
  110. 110. Tina blinked when Ruth and Jezebel entered the house. They both looked subdued and she couldn’t help but notice that Zane wasn’t with them. “Where is he?” she asked as she glanced from one sister to the other.
  111. 111. Ruth looked down while Jezebel picked at one of her fingers. “You can't feel it? Even after all this time of being with him, you can't sense him, can you?” Jezebel asked. “Be fair, Jez,” Ruth chided halfheartedly. “He's let all of his barriers down, Ruth. Everyone on this realm can feel it.”
  112. 112. Trying to remain patient, Tina asked, “What are you talking about? Sense him? What? What do you mean? No, I can't 'sense' him. What happened?”
  113. 113. “The longer a Reaper does their job, the better they get at masking their feelings. It's easier, usually, because the Reaper who is assigned to a realm is a stranger; they don't know the people they are coming to collect. Zane, through an oversight in the paperwork, got himself assigned to this realm. His home realm. He's too involved, too invested. And...and...” “And this Reap was bad.” Jezebel finished. “It blew through the fragile walls he's built to cover up so his feelings don't bleed all over the place. But you should be able to feel it. Plumbbob knows that the mortals in the room felt it when it happened.” Jezebel looked down. “I need a drink, Ruth. I can't stay here with all of this pressing down on me. If I needed to breathe, I'd be suffocating.” Ruth nodded in agreement and said to Tina, “Find him. Talk to him. Try to make him feel better, if you can. Above all else, remind him that he's not a monster. He can look at what he did as an emotional act of mercy, okay?” And with that, the two sisters trudged out the door.
  114. 114. A bit bothered by the girls' attitude, Tina went to Zane's bedroom door and knocked on it. It occurred to her that she had never seen the inside of his bedroom before, though she knew he rarely used it to sleep. “Zane,” she called out when there was no response, “are you in there?” When she still didn't get an answer, she hesitantly opened the door.
  115. 115. After she had taken a few steps in, she could tell at a quick glance that he wasn't in the room. Curiosity came over her and she took another, slower, look around. She smiled slightly at the books piled on the nightstand next to the bed; it explained the holes on the bookshelf in the living room. On his desk, she could see his clipboard and a few binders with names on the bindings: *Devereaux *Worthington-Landgraab *Norrington *Morgan/Fitzhugh *Vetinari-Jacquet *Legacy-Smith On a small piece of paper, she saw a scribbled note with the words, “Mercator Isle” written upon it.
  116. 116. Before she was able to open up one of the binders, her eye caught the pictures that she had only glanced at before. She saw a picture of herself. She saw a picture of Karen. She chuckled a bit at at one of the joke pictures Jezebel had convinced all of them to pose for. Then she eyed the pictures of the other people on the wall. His mother holding him as a toddler. Other people who were strangers to her, but they had some sort of resemblance to each other. Then it clicked in her mind. All the pictures on the wall were people that Zane considered his family. Everything else started falling into place. The obvious dossiers, most of which were names that were unfamiliar to her. She remembered him talking once about the Multi-Verse and something about a half-brother also being his uncle, among other things. He kept tabs on his family. All of his family. Her eyes wide, she looked at the clipboard and saw the name “Kitty Devereaux” typed neatly on the sheet of paper. Understanding came crashing down upon her.
  117. 117. She rushed out the front door, realizing that if Zane were on the Dead Realm, the only place he would be was the stable where his horse was kept. In her mind, the understanding kept ringing. He's a Family Sim. He's on his home realm. He loves his family. He's the Grim Reaper. He has to watch his family die and he's the one who collects them. And this Reap was bad. Where is he? And then it hit her. The crushing despair, depression, and sadness felt like a physical blow that nearly knocked the wind out of her. As she tried to recover she heard an angry cry and something crashing in the stable as if something were being hit against the wall.
  118. 118. Her heart pounding in time with her footfalls, she ran to the stable. She could sense him there and the closer she got, the stronger the feelings of hurt became. Through the slats of the door, she could see someone scrambling on the ground and she could hear someone, him, sobbing.
  119. 119. She rushed through the door and she managed, just in time, to stop herself as she saw Zane stand up with his hourglass in his hand.
  120. 120. With a cry, Zane violently threw the hourglass at the stable wall where it crashed, making an identical sound to the one that Tina had heard on the porch. “Just break, damn you! Break! I can't do this anymore! I won't!” he cried.
  121. 121. After the hourglass hit the wall, it bounced to the floor and rolled a few feet from Tina. She looked down at it and saw that not only was it unbroken, but the ever flowing sand was still trickling, even though the glass was on its side.
  122. 122. She looked back at Zane, who had slumped on some bales of hay, spent. She could feel the sadness waxing and waning, as if he were trying to tamp it down and block it. “Zane?” She asked, softly. He didn't respond. “Zane, I saw your clipboard. I'm sorry I went into your room, but I was looking for you. I saw your aunt's name on it. Oh, Zane, I'm so sorry. I didn't know. I mean, I knew, but I really didn't. I know you loved her.” Another shot of sadness went through the barn as he struggled to push it back down. “My Uncle Sebastian, too,” he said in a strangled voice. “Wh..what happened?”
  123. 123. “He begged me. He pleaded with me. He said that he didn't want to live even one day without her. He made me look him in the eye as he pleaded. He..he asked me if I have ever loved anyone so much that I would rather die than live for one minute without them.” He choked off a sob. “I..I do know what it feels like,” he finally said in a whisper. He was silent for a moment. Tina didn't say anything as she waited for him to continue. “So, he begged me to take him with, too. I..I didn't want to. I'm not a murderer. But he pleaded. He told me that if I knew love, then I would know exactly how he felt.” He gave a rare sigh. “So...I took him as well. I didn't want my uncle to suffer. He was so happy. He was happy that I killed him. He thanked me. He thanked me for being a murderer. A monster.” He choked off another sob before continuing. “I..I can't do this anymore. I can't watch everybody die! It sucks! And it hurts! And it makes me feel lonely!” At that, he broke down and wept.
  124. 124. Tina closed the distance between the two of them and gathered him into her arms. She felt his arm slide around her waist as she rocked him, running her hand through his hair. She held him like that for a long time, continually stroking his hair or the back of his neck making soft, comforting noises all the while. Eventually he stopped and the feeling of hurt in the air subsided as he gained control over himself and his emotions. Tina tightened her arm around him, holding him close. “Zane,” she said after he was silent for a while. He didn't respond. “Zane, look at me.” He heaved a shuddery sigh.
  125. 125. She tilted his head back, and threaded her fingers through his hair. “Zane, you are not a monster in any way, shape, or form. I don’t think you ever could be a monster.” Removing a hand from his hair, she trailed a finger down his cheek, wiping away a stray tear. “What you did was an act of compassion. A monster would not be affected by it the way you are. You did it because you didn’t want to see him suffer. You did it out of love.” Zane closed his eyes. “I wish I could believe you,” he whispered. “Your mother is a monster. And yet, she somehow managed to produce someone like you. You’re nice, so very nice. You’re compassionate. You care about other people and their feelings. I think the meanest thing you have ever said about someone is that you ‘never really liked them.’ And the people that you love…”
  126. 126. She trailed off as she slowly lowered herself onto his lap. Keeping her arms wrapped around him, she gave a small laugh. “And the people you love, you love unconditionally. No matter what they say or do to you, no matter how manipulative they might have been, no matter what mistakes they have made, once you decide that you love someone, you love them no matter what. I’m such an idiot for not seeing that sooner.” She looked into his eyes again as she felt his arms tighten around her slightly. She gave another small smile and shook her head. “I remember once thinking that I would give my life to find just one nice guy. I did. Literally. And I found you.” Zane gave her a sad look. “Yeah. You found the Grim Reaper,” he said bitterly.
  127. 127. Tina pulled him into a fierce hug. “No. I found Zane. Sweet, wonderful, caring, loving Zane, the human being.” “Not a monster?” “Not even close. I don’t have a great track record when it comes to guys, but I know that I would never love a monster.” Zane, whose eyes were closed as Tina hugged him, opened them, startled. After a moment of processing what she said, he asked, “You love me?” “I do,” she replied simply. She started to pull back to look at him again when Palus let out a loud snort near her head, causing her to jump out of Zane's lap, startled.
  128. 128. Embarrassed, Zane stood up and patted the horse on its nose. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude into your living area with my--” he stopped and cocked his head as if he were listening to something. He gave a small smile. “Yes, I guess I’m feeling a little bit better. Again, I’m sorry that--” He got cut off again and he listened with his eyes wide. His mouth dropped open and he blushed. “It’s not…No!…I mean…You’re impossible!” he managed to sputter out.
  129. 129. Tina blinked and peered at Zane. “You can understand what your horse is saying?” she asked. Zane nodded but didn’t look at her. Curious, she asked another question. “Well, what is he saying to you?” Zane cleared his throat and raised his hand to hide his face. “He, um, asked if I was feeling better among...among other things,” he said, embarrassed. “What other things?” He winced. “He, uh, well…he said that…” He blushed furiously. “Hesaidthatweoughttogetaroom,” he said quickly. “And, I was just trying to tell him that…that it wasn’t necessary because--” He stopped and started again. “And I was trying to tell him that there was no need because it isn’t like that and..and--” “Zane,” Tina interrupted. He stopped stammering and looked at her sheepishly.
  130. 130. She stepped towards him and pressed her lips against his. He didn’t respond at first, due to surprise, but eventually his arms wrapped around her and the kiss became more natural and…sweet.
  131. 131. They both broke away from the kiss at the same time, but kept their arms around each other. “Oh,” Zane said. He then blinked in understanding. “Oh!” Tina smiled softly. “Yeah. Oh,” was all she said. She took his hand and led him out of the barn.
  132. 132. Palus leaned over the fence and began eating some of the hay. He flicked his tail and telepathically sent a message to his master. It’s about time. He snorted in amusement as Zane ignored him. *** Holy huge update, Batman! This is the official end of the chapter, but there's just a little bit more (sorta BTS stuff) on the last couple of pages! ---------------------------->
  133. 133. Rhys: So, um, aren't we going to address what's going on over there? Marina: What are you talking about? Rhys: Oh, you know, Lytton Goodytwoshoes making out with Mary. Marina: Yeah, just keep your back turned, Rhys. We're gonna pretend that never happened. It's being filed under 'Rebuild Lulz' never to be mentioned again. Rhys: Okay. If you say so. I would like to point out, though, that I wouldn't get off so easy if I were caught making out with a married woman.
  134. 134. For those of you who have no idea where the entire Gypsy Matchmaker sequence came from, here is the explanation: While I was rebuilding (again) I was in the process of flagging the Legacy Sims that I had imported as relatives. Mary was one of the people in the Welcome Wagon for the house I was doing all of that maintenance work, and ACR kicked in causing Lytton to stalk Mary and have his First Kiss with her. Lytton's memory had been wiped by the Batbox, and he felt that was a very important memory that he wanted recovered. The two of them fell in love and spent the rest of the day making out. I hemmed and hawed over how to work it into the story and if I could work it into the story. So, I did, but not in the way that ended with the two of them being together. There was no way Lytton and Mary could get married due to a lot of circumstances, namely, to keep the explanation simple, the Goodytwoshoes family does not believe in divorce. So, I nuked the entire relationship both in game as well as in SimPE. I would like to keep him as a potential spouse option further down the line and I'd like his memories to be of that spouse, not of Mary.
  135. 135. However, the two of them are still friends, though he'll probably never be invited over as long as Mary is alive. I've gotten rid of ACR, but I don't want to take any chances. Thanks for reading. Special thanks to the following people: Liz/Tribebohemian (The Norringtons) for the continued use of Kitty. I'm so sad that she had to die this chapter, but I really hope that you like how it all played out. I'm really going to miss those two. Professor Butters (The Squeaky Clean Legacy) for Lytton, Cecil, and Cecilia. I hope you liked the Lytton/Mary and Cecil/Alexander stuff. De/FireFlower (The Morgan Legacy) for having your Simself show up everywhere. Because of her, I was able to tie certain events together! Marina/Smoothiequeen (Fitzhugh Legacy/Villainous Apocalypse) for the brief appearance of her Simself and Rhys Fitzhugh. Until next time, Happy Simming!