Chapter 35 – Beyond the Storm Part 2The story continues...
It was morning, and Calico Legacina was playing with her new toy, a stuffed bear named "Kirstial". Her favorite Auntie, Toshiko, had sent it to herwhile on vacation, and Calico had eagerly ripped the package open. Auntie Toshiko had suggested Callie use the bear as a punching bag whenevershe got mad or anything.
Callie was taking the advice to heart. At the moment, she wasnt exactly stressed about anything, but she didnt like the way her dads face had goneall scary when he saw the bear, so she beat up the bear to make him feel better."Take that! And that!"
By lunch time, the bear was a bedraggled mess, and Ian Legacinas face was back to its normal colour."Come and eat, Callie!" he called, carrying a plate of salad from the kitchen to the dining room. "Your friends will be over soon!"
"Do you really live in Paris?" Callie asked Laertes Smith, her eyes widely incredulous."Of course I do," Laertes smirked. "With my mom and dad, and Grandpa Gavin.""Cool," Callie said. "Whats Paris like?""Um, there are a lot of buildings," Laertes shrugged. "I guess its nice.""So why did you come here?""Err, I dunno," Laertes shrugged. "I think my mom is friends with your dad or something. And my dad is friends with your mom."
"Hey everyone, watch what I can do, or Ill zotz you all," Persephone Biggs said in a bragging tone of voice."I know what you can do," Sterling Buccaneer shouted. "Youre really good at blocking the TV!""Aw, be nice to Persephone, Sterling," Orlando Pseudo protested. "Shes company.""Som I," Sterling shrugged. "And you dont see me blocking the TV. Im telling my dad.""Which one?""Both of them!"
"Okay, thats enough TV for now if all youre going to do is argue,"Coxinga chuckled after exchanging glances with Ian. He shut it off. "Callie and Laertes.""Now, why dont you kids have go and play?" "Thats what I said!""I think we should play right here!" Callie exclaimed. Making a gunout of her thumb and forefinger, she pointed at Orlando. "Bang! "No you didnt, and I want my name to come first."Youre dead, you rascally robber!" It wasnt long before the entire game dissolved in a chorus of giggled"No way!" Orlando squealed, ducking behind Zings leg. "I totally accusations.dodged your shot!" Persephone didnt join in. She just watched, a demonic smile playing"Gotcha!" Laertes chimed in, shooting at Sterling. "You two crooks across her pixie-like features.will never get away from the dynamic duo of Laertes and Callie!"
"Yesterday wasnt so bad," Ian said the next morning to his wife, Angora. "Nobody went home crying, anyway.""Thats good," Angora chuckled. "Those kids! Theyre a handful and a half. I wish I could have gotten the day off of work, but with my maternityleave starting soon I didnt want to leave everyone scrambling.""Well, youre here now, and no more work until Junior in there is a lot older," Ian said. "Im going to like having you all to myself again."
"Silly, Im always all yours," Angora chuckled."Yeah, but theres no feeling quite as strange as being kicked in the middle of a cuddle," Ian said. He hastily reached forward and patted Angorasswollen belly. "Meaning no offense, kiddo.""I think you offended him. Or her.""Oh?""The babys kicking up a storm!" Angora said.
"Maybe hes just ready to come out and meet his family," Ian said. cleaning up the breakfast dishes in here and then Ill treat you to one of my expert backrubs.""It wouldnt surprise me," Angora said. "Id want to meet me if Ididnt know myself already." "Youre in a good mood today," Angora observed as she headed out the door.Ian blinked at her. "It was nice seeing Toby and Opie yesterday," Ian shrugged. "I"Okay, that made a lot more sense in my head before I said it," havent really connected with anyone from home in forever. I knowAngora laughed. Opie doesnt live there anymore either, but still.""Why dont you go relax on the sofa?" Ian suggested. "Ill finish "Ill be waiting for that backrub!"
However, the backrub never materialized, because no sooner had Ian put the last dish in the dishwasher when he heard Angora cry out with pain."Im giving birth, not performing live theatre! Do I really need an audience?!?"
"Shes fuzzy," Ian managed, a short while later. "My daughter is fuzzy. Why are they always fuzzy?""Aww, shes an adorable little Ragamuffin," Angora crooned, cuddling her new daughter close."Is that really what youre going to call her?" Rani, Angoras mother, asked."Why not?" Angora chuckled, bouncing the baby gently. "It fits!"
"I still dont get the whole orange thing," Ian confided to his father-in-law, Pierce, a little while later. "But I think shes even prettier than Calliewas, if thats possible!""I dont try to understand the orange fur myself," Pierce shrugged. He regarded his granddaughter. "Whos a cute little Ragamuffin? You are! Youare!""Can you say daddy, Muffy?" Ian added in a singsong voice.
The entire family doted on Muffy, and it wasnt long before they were celebrating her birthday. Everyone was eager to see what the youngerLegacina child looked like.
And here she is! While Callie looks a lot like Ian (youll have to take my word for that, but its true), Muffy is a tiger-striped clone of her mother.The adorable toddler didnt take long to have the entire household wrapped around her little finger.
But the one who loved her best was her big sister, Callie. Not a moment went by when Callie wasnt playing with her little sister, and she eagerlyawaited the day when Ragamuffin was old enough to play Cops n Robbers with her."Where did I go, Muffy?""Go? Cant see you!""Nope, cant see me! Peek-a-boo!"
"Eeeee!" the little kitten dissolved in gales of laughter. "Boo!"Lest you die of sugar-shock and cuteness overload, lets visit another household, shall we?
This is Cate Pseudo, and shes fully living up to the expectations of the rest of her household.
Shes stalking the fish.This is something of a tradition in the Pseudo household, by this point.
Cates older brother, Orlando, is an avid adherent. Hes been watching the fish since he was a wee toddler. (The tank is in the bathroom--its kind ofhard to miss, and theres not much else to look at while you pee!)
Orlandos mother, Lainey Pseudo (née Barthelet) was not raised with the tradition of fish-stalking, but it is a tradition she has come to embracesince marrying into the family. Now she is as avid a practitioner as anyone in the household.
And even the oldest generation in the household participates. Will Pseudo, along with his wife Orikes, originated the tradition when he moved tothe house and first stocked the tank.The activity has become something of a trademark for all of the Pseudo bunch.
"I saw your sister stalking the fishies when I went to the bathroom a few minutes ago," Auntie Liv Pseudo chuckled to Cates twin sister, Sarah. Livwas the most avid practitioner of fish-stalking in the entire family, though she no longer lived in the family home. She had her own fish tank now."Do you like the fish, Sarah?""Nummy fish!" Sarah squealed. "Kill em and eat em!""No, you let other people do the killing," Liv advised. "And you dont eat aquarium fish anyway. Instead, you go downtown to Auntie Livsfavourite sushi restaurant, and you order the chefs special. Thats the way to eat fish.""Sushi?""Sushi."
"Auntie Liv, why do you encourage Sarah in being weird?" Orlando demanded once Livs arms were free."Sometimes its fun being the weird one in the family," Liv smiled. "I like it.""Yeah, but youre an Auntie," Orlando pointed out. "I dont think Sarah is weird the same way you are. Shes mean, and youre nice.""Why thank you, Orlando," Liv chuckled. "But you shouldnt say your sister is mean. Its not very nice of you to do so.""But she is mean," Orlando insisted. "Shes always trying to strangle Lila." Lila was the family dog.
"I think thats supposed to be a hug," Liv said. "You werent very gentle with Lila when you were that small, either.""I suppose," Orlando said doubtfully.
"All done looking at the fishies, Cate?" Will asked, sitting down on the toilet to read his newspaper."Potty time? Where my book?"Like grandfather, like granddaughter?
Orlando got along pretty well with his sisters, all things considered. But he did think of both of them as being pests of the highest order, andbecause he wasnt the nicest of children himself, he took every possible opportunity to torment them."Want the horsie, Sarah? Do you?""GIVE HORSIE!"
"Too bad! You cant have it!" Orlando snickered, pulling the toy out of Sarahs reach."Aah! Bad Lando! Kill you and eat you! Wiv sauce!""Now, Orlando, dont tease your sister," his father, Hugo, said absently. "And Sarah, thats not very nice.""Lando sushi!"
The two girls, however, were exceedingly fond of one another, though they were pretty different when it came to personality. Cate was allsweetness and light, while Sarah had a meaner streak. Mostly this was expressed via a myriad of extremely creative threats when she didnt get herway, while Cates sweetness was shown through the large quantity of hugs she bestowed on other people.
She also liked to dance. Whenever there was music playing, Cate wasnt likely to be far away."Pway dat funky music, steweo!"
"You know," Hugo murmured to Lainey one evening, "it wont be long until the girls celebrate their birthday. What do you say we try for another?""Arent three enough?" Lainey blinked."Well, I would like more... but it was more the try part I was talking about," Hugo winked."Oh. Oh!"
It seemed like no time at all before the girls were ready to celebrate a birthday. First, Grandma Orikes brought Cate to the cake.
And then Lainey (who was feeling decidedly ill and doing her best to not show it and risk spoiling the party) brought Sarah to the other cake.
The two girls grew up extremely cute! They wanted to dress alike, but Lainey convinced them to wear the same outfit in different colours instead.She suggested that Sarah stick to pink and Cate to blue, and to her relief the girls agreed."But we look way different," Sarah insisted seriously. "Cate has your colouring, Mommy. And mine is like Daddys.""Thats true, dear," Lainey said fondly.Then she clapped her hand over her mouth and bolted for the washroom.
To her complete lack of surprise, she popped out into her second trimester belly that night."Another little one," she said fondly, rubbing her stomach. "Well, I cannot say I am unhappy. And I know Hugo will be pleased. I do hope mycareer will not suffer from this delay, though! It is difficult being a businesswoman and a mother at the same time."But she didnt really mind. She had plenty of time to top the business career track before her next birthday.
"Hey Cate, pull my finger," Sarah said, a devious grin spreading across her features as she rubbed her feet on the rug in the family room."What? Why would I do that?" Cate asked, disgusted. "Youre just going to fart all over the place and blame it on me!""Am not!" Sarah protested in an injured voice. "This is something completely different. Besides, only boys do that.""Yeah, Orlando is the stinkiest!" Cate giggled."Are you going to pull it or what?" Sarah asked impatiently.Cautiously, Cate reached forward.
"Aaaaaaah!" she screeched as the spark jolted between her and her twin.Sarah doubled over with laughter. "Gotcha!"
Once shed recovered, Cate couldnt help laughing either. "Howd you do that?" she asked."Its so easy," Sarah said proudly. "You just wear fuzzy socks, like I am, and then you stand on a rug and rub your feet really fast on the carpet.And then you touch somebody and it lectrocutes them!""Thats awesome. Lets go do it to Orlando.""I like how you think!"
"Aaaaaaah!" Orlandos shriek could just be heard over the sound of "Fat chance," Orikes snorted. "Like Id let my guard down. You cantkicking and punching. distract me that easily, my dear. Im going to kick your butt at this game.""The kids off murdering each other again?" Liv asked, jammingfuriously at her controller. "Oh, I dont think so," Liv said. "Im past mistress in the art of Mortal Kombat.""Probably," Orikes said. "FINISH HER!" the TV commanded."You should go separate them." "Oh yeah?" Orikes smirked.
"Aw, man," Liv pouted. "I was totally winning."
"Ive still got it," Orikes crowed, waving the controller around airily."How does someone of your generation get so good at playing video games?" Liv complained."Er, have you forgotten what I do for a living? I thought you were following in my career footsteps?"
"Yeah, I suppose," Liv conceded. "Hey, you want to try this new game I brought home from work? Its still in beta testing, but its supposed to bepretty cool."Orikes looked at the packaging and shrugged dubiously. "I guess. It doesnt look as interesting as the second one in the series, though."
Upstairs, the kids had gotten tired of electrocuting each other and instead were involved in the serious business of blowing each other up."This is a real missile," Cate said importantly. "Only Im allowed to touch it."
"No its not," Sarah contradicted her. "Anyway, didnt you get the memo? Were playing with cars today, Cate.""Id rather play with the rocket ship," Cate insisted. "You guys can have your dumb old cars. Cars dont esplode.""They do after Ive had them for a while," Sarah giggled deviously.
"Stop being weird, Sarah," Orlando ordered, turning his back on the one sister and facing the other. "Just ignore her, Cate. Ill play with you."But their playing was soon interrupted by a shriek from downstairs.
"Baby! Coming now!" Lainey, who had been outside working on her Logic skill for the past several hours, cried shrilly. "Oh, where is Hugo? Hehas not appeared once in this update and now he is at work for the birth of his child! Drat the man!"
In the end, it was William who assisted in the births of his newest two children. Say hello to Dominic and Billy Pseudo, everyone!
On the other side of Pirate Island, Liv greeted the birth of her two newest nephews with glee, bouncing all over the house.
The very first thing she did was invite over her older nephew, nieces, and big brother so that Lainey could get a bit of a rest."Thanks for coming to visit, Cate," she smiled, stooping to give her niece a kiss. "I cant wait to hear all about your baby brothers!""They just sleep all the time," Cate said disgustedly. "Except at night. Thats when they cry, so Mom is always tired. Shes napping now andGrandma is playing with the babies. Except theyre little and cant play, so she just makes faces at them and they stare at her."
Inside, Orlando and Sarah were involved in a cutthroat game of Cops n Robbers."Dad!" Orlando whined. "Tell Sarah shes not allowed to kill me all the way dead!""Fight your own battles, Orlando," Hugo called from the table, where he was sitting and having coffee with Uncle Nick and Uncle Green."I hate it when he says that," Orlando grumbled.
Still, Hugo started slapdancing to the music playing on the radio a few minutes later, and Sarah gave up on tormenting her big brother to join him."People are weird, Grandpa Jack," Cate said seriously to the plush bear shed found under Auntie Livs couch."Arr, that be th truth, lass."A great time was had by all, and when the kids and their dad went home, they were greeted by a rested Lainey who was much more her old self.
Unfortunately, the brightness of the kids visit was soon tarnished by an unexpected visitor. Kilo, the very first pet that Nick and Green hadadopted, was taken by the Grim Reaper shortly afterwards.
"This house just doesnt feel like home without a cat," Nick said sadly to his twin brother Will a few days later."So what are you going to do about it?" Will prodded."We dont know yet," Nick said. "A cat is a big responsibility, and if we got one it would outlive us."Liv, who was eating dessert at the kitchen table, turned around at that. "Uncle Nick, if you want a kitten, go ahead and get one. I like cats--Ill beglad to take care of it for as long as you need me to."
Nick and Green didnt have to be told twice, and the next day they welcomed the arrival of their new kitten, Cobble.She was absolutely adorable in all her buttery gold downy softness and everyone fell in love with her instantly--even the dogs.
And everyone thought it was hilarious when Cobble got lost in the snow drifting high around the house. She really was tiny!
Still, it didnt take long for her to turn into a full-grown cat. To the surprise of all, Cobble lost most of her golden colour and grew into a gorgeousragdoll. And, like all cats, she completely ruled the roost.
Days at the small cabin hidden in the forest of Pirate Island were busy, but for Liv, at least, the nights could be a little lonely. Nick and Green hadeach other to talk to for long hours in the evening... but Liv was alone.
So when she saw a familiar figure striding down the sidewalk in front came to visit!"of the house one chilly night, she didnt even put on her coat beforeflying outside. "All the way from Paris?""Randy!" she squealed, launching herself at the pale-skinned "I have not been able to get you out of my mind," the Count saidindividual. "What in the world are you doing here?" fondly.Count Randy Fuchs didnt reply for several minutes, as he was being "Me either," Liv said. She grabbed the unprotesting Randys handquite thoroughly kissed. When Liv let him up for air, he smiled-- and led him into the house. "We can talk later. For now, Ive got arevealing two glistening fangs. "My dear Liv, what do you think? I few other ideas."
Several hours later, Liv and Randy sat down to a sparklingly healthy dinner of freshly caught salmon."It has been far too long since we last saw each other," Randy said in his sultry voice."Yeah, but I think were making up for lost time," Liv laughed throatily. "How come youve not visited before now?""I thought you were angry with me," Randy said."Angry? Why would you think that?""Well, you were in Paris for some time and yet you did not even tell me you were in town."
Liv blinked at her lover, and then realization dawned. "Ohhhh... that." In a few short sentences, she sketched out the tale of her adventures with hercousins Ching Shih and Toshiko."I see," the Count nodded. "I had heard... tales. Kirstial Legacina is not one to be trifled with. She is very powerful.""Was very powerful," Liv corrected. "Now she is a soft childrens toy."Randy laughed delightedly. "Such an ending is... fitting.""We thought so," Liv agreed.
Suddenly, she stood up and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oooh... I dont feel well.""Is it the fish?" Randy asked concernedly. "Being undead, I am unable to taste if something has been prepared incorrectly.""No, I dont think its the fish," Liv said, gulping. She sat down quickly. "I think--"
"I dont think we were as careful as we ought to have been."Livs words echoed loudly in her own ears over the next several months.
Meanwhile, in Paris..."How was your flight?" Rakshasi Thayer asked Terry Ottomas. Terry was her high school boyfriend."Entirely too long," Terry groaned, massaging his neck. "Its a long way from Pirate Island to Paris and I didnt get a wink of sleep.""Maybe you should have a nap," Shasi suggested. "I remember how brutal the jet lag can be.""Hmm, I can think of something else Id rather be doing," Terry said, standing up and stretching."Oh?"
It wasnt long before Rakshasi and Terry were an established couple once more.Unfortunately, due to some stupidity (read: Terry is a Romance sim, and not a monogamous one) on Terrys part, it wasnt long after that beforethey were no longer a couple.
Venkat had heard about Rakshasis newly single status and decided to try his luck."No, I dont think so," Rakshasi said warningly. "Im done with Romance sims, Venkat.""Fair enough," Venkat said. "Youre gorgeous, Rakshasi, but Im not one to beg.""Good," Rakshasi said. "Its not becoming."
Her heart wasnt exactly broken by Terrys philandering ways, though, despite Rakshasis pronouncement against Romance sims. She found herselfspending a lot of time with Terrys Family sim twin brother, James. The two of them were both chess aficionados, so that was what they did mostof the time.
Both of them were pleasantly surprised when their friendship turned to something more.
And by the middle of Rakshasis fourth year of university, James shocked her by dropping down on one knee and proposing in the middle of thesidewalk as they returned home from class."Oh my!" Rakshasi gasped. "I dont know what to say!""Say yes," James urged, his eyes shining with hope.
Yes!" Rakshasi giggled, slipping the diamond engagement ring onto her finger. "Oh, James! Im so excited!"James just smiled as his heart resumed beating. Hed always fancied Rakshasi, and ever since shed broken up with his brother (and hed broken upwith his former girlfriend, Caryl--yes, the two events are intricately intertwinted), hed looked forward to this day."Youll have to wait a little while," he said slowly. "Ive still got another two years of university.""I can wait," Rakshasi said. "After all, weve got our whole lives in front of us."
Venkat, meanwhile, was not deterred from pursuing Pirate Island half-brothers told me about you."girls. One day, on his way home from class, he decided to stop by thegirls dorm on a whim. "Half-brothers?""Hi!" a green-skinned beauty said brightly, greeting him on the "Well, presumed half-brothers," Stella shrugged. "Borusa andsidewalk in front of the residence. Spandrell. We were all born around the same time after our fathers got abducted. So were probably siblings.""Er, hi," Venkat said awkwardly. "Im Venkat." Venkat blinked. Borusa and Spandrell hadnt said anything about"I know," the girl said in a friendly voice. "Im Stella Roseland. My having a sister, so that probably meant she was off-limits.
Then again, they hadnt said anything about not dating their half-sister.Venkat found himself coming up with excuses to stop by the girls dorm practically every day. In the eyes of the other girls in the dorm, at least, heand Stella were completely inseparable.
"So, how many chicks has it been now?" Venkat asked conversationally around the dinner table on a fine evening about halfway through Borusaand Spandrells fourth year of university.Borusa thought about that for a moment. "Ten," he said finally. "I dont think Ill get to twenty before graduating, though.""Dude, Im the one who wants to hoo twenty chicks. Its my lifetime goal! I thought you just wanted to be a sports star.""Yeah," Borusa agreed. "Thats still what I want. And maybe Ill slow down a little when I graduate. But for now Im just being young and havingfun. Im not ready to settle down."
"Settling down isnt so bad," Spandrell shrugged. "It has its benefits.""Not so much for a Romance sim like me and Venkat," Borusa said."Our brother-in-law is a Romance sim and he doesnt seem to mind being married," Spandrell said."Really?" Venkat asked, growing thoughtful as he thought of Stella. "How would you guys like another Romance brother-in-law?""Is Stella dating someone?" Borusa said, his voice growing sharp. "Shed better not be with a Romance sim! Ill have to kick his arse!""Er, I dont know," Venkat said evasively, and changed the subject.
The talk of commitment preyed on Spandrells mind for some time, and finally he decided to do something about it. One bright day towards the endof his last semester of university, he took the plunge. He and Hades were enjoying a fairly ordinary date when Spandrell suddenly dropped to oneknee and pulled out a velvet-lined black box."Diamond of doom?" Hades gasped."Err," Spandrell blinked.
"Doomy goodness forever!" Hades grinned, slipping the ring on his finger. "This is groovy stuff, Spandrell. Wait til I tell my mother!""Didnt she disown your sister and strip away her immortality recently?" Spandrell gulped."Well, yeah, but Athena deserved it," Hades shrugged. "Moms going to be so happy! Shes wanted us to get married practically since she metyou!""Oh good," Spandrell said faintly. "Pressure.""Stop worrying," Hades said consolingly. "Mom only dooms people who deserve it. Just let her plan the wedding and everything will be fine."
Borusa, meanwhile, continued on his college conquest. Girl number eleven was Robin Zhang.
She did not depart unsatisfied, and afterwards she was often heard muttering something about creating a shrine out of the Arravast hot tub.
Even one of the campus cheerleaders, Julie Brown, couldnt resist Borusas many charms.
And Borusa discovered that not every date had to end in woohoo. Julie was much too hyper to stay in one place long enough to kiss, let alone hoo.By the end of the date she had the entire household slapdancing with her and looking like some demented boyband in the process.
But if Julie wasnt willing to go all the way with Borusa, others certainly were. Especially when Borusa was wandering around in nothing but atoga.
Roxie Sharpe was Borusas kind of girl, and she was just as disinclined to commit as he was.
For a while, there were no new girls and Borusa made do by dating some of his longer-term friends-with-benefits."Woo! Go Borusa! Inappropriate PDA!" Julie cheered loudly."Geez, Julie!" Borusa gasped, coming up for air. "Its only inappropriate because you wont leave!"
Later, at the same party, Borusa decided to introduce himself to a guest he hadnt met before."Borusa Buccaneer," he said charmingly."Ashlee Thompson," the dark-haired girl said."Ashlee, has anyone ever told you how utterly gorgeous you are?" Borusa purred."Ooh, not somebody with such a cute lack-of-nose as you," Ashlee replied, fanning herself.
"How dare you flirt with someone in front of me!" Julie cried shrilly, launching herself across the room at Borusa and slapping him so hard he sawstars."Wha--?" Borusa blinked, putting his hand to his cheek. "You complain about the flirting, but not the making out on the couch?""Chill out, Julie," Ashlee advised."Youre just as bad as he is, you tramp!"Both Ashlee and Borusa stared at Julie in complete and utter confusion as the now sobbing cheerleader stormed upstairs and (presumably) out ofthe house.
"Fortunately, Im not about to let that ruin my evening," Borusa said, a little while later. "How about we make this a night to remember for otherreasons?"
"She really bought that cheesy line?" Spandrell said in disbelief as he waited for his brother to toss him the football. "Oh, man. No wonder you getso many girls--theyre all idiots!""I dont think it was so much buying the line as it was wanting the excuse," Borusa grinned, tossing the football to his brother. "But I think Imgoing to settle down a little after this."
"Right," Spandrell said, catching the ball easily and letting it fly back to hisbrother. "You. Settle down." "Exactly.""Not with a person," Borusa said patiently. "I just mean Im not going to "So where are you planning to live when we get back?" Spandrell asked,sleep around so much anymore. It would be nice having a second or third changing the subject.date with someone. I might even try to get a steady girlfriend." "Hadnt really thought that far yet," Borusa admitted. He tossed the ball"Thatd be a change," Spandrell smirked. back to his brother. "Probably find an apartment or something.""But it might be a good one," Borusa said. "Anyway, Ill never know if it "Want to move in with Hades and me?" Spandrell asked. "If you do we canworks for me unless I give it a try. And since were graduating and moving probably afford a really nice place."back to Pirate Island next week, it seems as good at time as any." Borusa shrugged. "Sure.""Yeah, because nobody back home knows your reputation!"
With that decided, all they had left to do was graduate--which they both did, with flying colours!Neither of them really wanted a party, so instead they hopped on a plane back to Pirate Island immediately. They decided to go for ahousewarming party instead.Besides, they were eager to see the rest of the family instead.
"Papa, dont want a nap," Balthier complained as Jim tucked him into the crib."I know," Jim chuckled. "But you need your rest, my son. Tonight is a big night for you!""But Im not tired!""Yes you are," Jim corrected him gently. "Just close your eyes and you will be asleep."
"It doesnt matter how much he protests, he always falls asleep right away," Ching Shih said gently, coming up behind her husband. Balthier wasalready snoring softly in his crib."You do not know just how much I wish I could stay here and simply watch him sleep," Jim said with a foolish smile. "You and he are both soprecious to me.""I love you too," Shih said with a happy smile. She leaned in a little closer and whispered something in Jims ear."What?!?" Jim practically shrieked, and then cringed guiltily. Behind him, Balthier rolled over and murmured in his sleep, but he thankfully didntwalk up. Jim continued in a quieter voice. "Are you certain?"
"Oh yeah," Ching Shih replied. "Ive been throwing up non-stop for the past few days. Balthier is going to be a big brother!"
"Oh, my beautiful wife... I am so happy," Jim said, reaching forward and caressing Shihs cheek lovingly. "Nothing in the world could make mehappier than this news.""I bet I could think of something," Ching Shih laughed wickedly. Then she clapped a hand over her mouth. "Ooh... but itll have to wait until Imfeeling better.""Perhaps you ought to have a nap too," Jim said solicitously. "I have heard that women who are with child are frequently tired.""That sounds like a good idea," Ching Shih said, yawning. "Just call me when its time for the party, okay?""It is a deal, my lovely one."
Nobody was downstairs when Balthier woke up, so he let himself out of his crib and started toddling around looking for someone.Grace nearly tripped over her grandson when she came downstairs."What are you doing out of your crib?" she scolded, carrying him back to the nursery and changing him out of his pajamas."Sploring, Grandma," Balthier declared solemnly."Well, how about we explore the kitchen?" Grace suggested. "Are you hungry?""Cookie?"Grace set Balthier down on the kitchen floor with a laugh.
"Yes, you can have a cookie," she said, tickling him. "I think youre just a cookie monster in disguise!""No! No tickle monster!" Balthier giggled, shrieking with happy laughter. "Grandma, tan I have a tory?""Of course," Grace said, sitting down opposite him. "Which story would you like to hear?"
"A funny one!" Balthier decreed, so Grace obediently went and fetched a funny story from the library."Yay!" Balthier squealed when he saw that it was one of his favourites.The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon reading the book together quite happily, though Grace did curse the hardness of the floor when shestood up later. She wasnt as young as she used to be!
Six oclock rolled around and the party guests soon arrived. It was a small party, with just family in attendance: Borusa, Spandrell, Shere Khan, andCoxinga."Okay, Balthier," Ching Shih said in a sing-song voice. "You remember what to do?""Blow out the candles and dont spit on da cake," Balthier said solemnly."Thats just right," Ching Shih said approvingly. "Ready?""Ready!"Authors note: I tossed in alien default replacement skins around this time, which is why Borusa and Spandrell look a little different.
As Shih and her son bent over the cake, the celebrants twirled their noisemakers or hooted encouragingly.
With that kind of support, its no wonder that Balthier grew up successfully! And he is still the spitting image of his father, dont you think?Hes also still a pirate, because I say so.
The party guests spent the remainder of the evening getting reacquainted. It had been some time since the whole family had been together, and theyall missed one another.As for this particular legacy player? Well, I had my hands full keeping Gertie and Borusa from behaving badly. Theyre extremely bolty, and thatsjust ew.
Balthier also took the opportunity to get to know his uncles. Theyd bedroom than out of it since getting married."been gone from Pirate Island since he was little, and while theyddoted on him then and called frequently since, theres nothing quite "That is just too much information," Borusa said, shuddering.like actual conversation in person to rekindle a friendship. "What do they do in there?" Balthier asked."Just wait til were a little more settled in our apartment, kid," Borusasaid. "Your other uncle and I are going to spoil you silly!" "Er, well tell you when youre older," Spandrell said hastily, reaching past his mother and covering up his nephews ears."And my little brother or sister?" Balthier shrugged away. "But Im already older!""Brother or sister?" Borusa blinked. "Does that mean--?" "Its a grown-up thing.""First Ive heard of it," Grace said. "But it wouldnt surprise me if itwas true. Your sister and her husband have spent more time in the "Aw, phooey."
Somewhat disgusted, Balthier stomped upstairs and jumped on Spandrells old bed until he felt a little better. Bed-jumping is fun, doncha know.
That night, after the guests had left and everyone was fast asleep, Ching Shih suddenly woke up.
"Finally!" she said happily as her stomach expanded with an audible *pop*. "Im so freaking tired of getting sick."And with that pronouncement, she crawled back into bed with her husband.
The next morning, Balthier left for his first day of school. Jim and Ching Shih both had the day off of work, so they spent the morning loungingaround without getting dressed.
"This is indeed a fascinating game," Jim said approvingly, watching as Shih lined up a particularly difficult shot."Its just physics and hand-eye coordination," Ching Shih shrugged. "Childs play, really."
"I suppose," Jim said. "However, it is the fact that you are able to play and win without your glasses that I find truly remarkable."
"Thats just a result of long years of practice," Ching Shih said, studying the table. "I know roughly what each blob of colour represents. SometimesI make mistakes, but not often.""I do not think I would do as well, given a similar visual impairment," Jim said.
"Yeah, but you do other things well," Ching Shih said, winking. "Thats why Im roughly the size of a house."
"Is there really a baby in there?" Balthier asked excitedly, waving at didnt know who he was, except that he was nice. But now heshis mothers burgeoning belly. Papa.""There really is," Ching Shih said happily. "What do you think, "He was always your Papa," Ching Shih said fondly, ruffling herBalthier? Are you excited about being a big brother?" sons hair. "And he always wanted to be with us. I just had to go and be a pirate first before that could happen.""I guess," Balthier shrugged. "But the baby wont be able to play oranything for a long time." "Im going to be a pirate when I grow up," Balthier declared. "I think it looks like fun!""I wish you were closer in age," Ching Shih said sadly. "But with thetroubles your father and I had before you were born and when you "Not as much fun as playing with your cousin all day," Ching Shihwere a baby, it couldnt be helped." chuckled. "School is canceled today!""Yeah, I remember when he came for the first time," Balthier said. "I "Yay!"
A short while later, Balthier was prancing around excitedly just inside the front door, watching for Sterling to arrive. He hadnt spent much timewith his cousin before, other than at school.
"Guess what?" Sterling said. Sterling stopped bragging for a moment and considered that. "Hm."What?" You may be right. Do you know if its going to be a boy or a girl?""Im going to be a big sister soon!" "Nope," Balthier said. "I kind of want a brother, though. Someone I can play with.""Thats so cool!" Balthier said. "Im going to be a big brother!" "Girls can play too!" Sterling said indignantly."Oh yeah? Well my dads bigger than the whole wide world!" "Yeah," Balthier said, but he didnt sound convinced."Sos my mom," Balthier said, pointing.
Sterling shrugged at Balthiers obvious inexperience and suggested they smustle instead.So they did that for a while, until they were bored."Hey, its stopped snowing! Lets go out and play!"
The two of them ran down to the yard and tossed snowball after snowball at each other until their teeth were chattering and their lips were blue."M-maybe we should go get our coats!" Sterling stammered."G-g-g-good idea!"
By the end of the day, they were best friends--and somewhat stinky from all the exercise!Sterling promised to come over and visit again soon."But well see each other at school anyway," she added. "So we can play there.""Cool!"
Even though he was very outgoing and preferred the company of others, Balthier was also playful enough to amuse himself when he didnt havesomeone to play with. He often spent time playing with his mothers old dollhouse after school.
"That was my old dollhouse before it was your mothers," Gertie said,coming into the room. "That would be him.""Really?" Balthier blinked. "Thats neat." "Can you tell me about him, Auntie Gertie?""I think so," Gertie smiled. "And before it was mine, it belonged to "Of course, Balthier," Gertie said with a smile. "What would you likemy father, your great-grandfather Roche." to know?""Hes the goofy one in the Pirate suit on the portrait wall, right?" "Everything!"
Gertie talked until the sound of a car door slamming outside signalled that "Auntie Gertie told me all about great-grandpa Roche today and I want to beJim was home from work. Balthier gave a hasty thanks to his great-aunt just like him when I grow up!" Balthier was breathless with excitement.before barreling down the stairs as fast as he could and flinging himself intohis fathers arms for a hug. "Well, you have a lot of time to decide," Jim said, thinking about Roches unhappy and ultimately failed marriage. "Perhaps you could do some things"Papa! Youre home!" like him and some things like other people?""Were you expecting someone else?" Jim said affectionately. "I guess," Balthier said. "But that means you have to tell me about more people so I know who I want to be like!""Not really, but that would be kind of weird," Balthier said. "But guess whatguess what guess what?" "How about I tell you about your great-great-great-grandmother Mary for a bedtime story?""What?" "Cool!"
With Balthier safely tucked into bed, Jim was free to dote on his now very gravid wife. Shed taken to lounging about the house in her pajamasbecause they were the most comfortable clothes she owned. She had a pair of daytime pajamas, and a pair of sleeping pajamas."Soon, my little one!" Jim said happily, waving at his wifes stomach. "Soon I will hold you in my arms!""Sooner than later," Ching Shih said, feeling an especially strong kick. "Come, my husband. Lets go to sleep while we still can."
Ching Shihs prophecy proved to be an accurate one. Less than three hours after falling asleep, she was awakened by a familiar type of pain."Ooh!" she whimpered. "Baby on the way!"
"What do I do?" Jim asked in a panicked voice. "I have never done this before!""Stop freaking out and get over here!" Gertie commanded. "She needs you!"
But before Jim even had time to walk across the room, it was all over.Cradled gently in Ching Shihs arms was his second son, a little red-headed boy they decided to name Kennit.And they lived happily ever after?Tune in to Chapter 36 and find out--coming in late December! (Probably!)