“Have you noticed the kids seem a bit quiet lately?” Ching Shih Buccaneer asked, reaching for her husband’s hand as they strolled down theboulevard.“They do seem to be whispering in corners, that sort of thing,” Jim nodded. “I had assumed they were planning some sort of elaborate prank onBalthier for his next visit.”
“Me too,” Shih shrugged. “But when I asked them about it they got all quiet. You don’t think they’re in trouble, do you?”“Not Arabella and Kennit,” Jim said with quiet pride. “If they were in trouble that they couldn’t handle, they would tell us. It might be one of theirfriends, though. I’ve noticed Kennit can be a bit overprotective, and Arabella practically worships him. I’ll talk to Balthier and see if Kennit hasmentioned anything.”
“Good idea,” Shih nodded. “Ooh, we’d best hurry. It looks like the others are here already.”“Our lateness is your own fault, my dear.”
“Oh?” Shih asked, a smile playing about her lips.“The first outfit you tried on was completely unsuitable. I could not let you leave the house wearing it.”“You’re incorrigible.” ***
“We must do this more often,” Bartholomew Buccaneer, generation four spare, said with a smile, and raised his dinner glass. “These dinners arebecoming far too infrequent.”“Hear, hear!” the chorus of voices joined in.
“The formidable repast was veritably satiating, and yet discourse with such amenable companions is the eminent satisfaction.”“What my lovely husband means to say is, we’ve missed you,” Meadow Thayer said with a gentle smile.“Our fraternity provides some compensation for the tribulations of immortality,” Jack added. “Upon that same subject: is it decided who the nextinitiate to our ranks will be?”
“You mean, have we picked out the heir and the spare?” Ching Shih asked with a chuckle. “To be honest, I’ve found myself with a bit of adilemma.”“Elaborate, pray tell.”
“My dear wife finds herself torn between her two sons,” Jim clarified. “Balthier himself shows a preference for heirship that his siblings lack, andyet he can’t sail to save his life. But the Pearl goes with the title of heir, doesn’t it?”“Exactly,” Shih nodded. “What was the point of finding the damned thing if I can’t pass it on to whichever of my kids will appreciate it the most?Which at this point is a toss-up between Arabella and Kennit.”
“Why not just pass the ship to whoever is elected immortal, and they can pass it on to the next heir?” Susanna suggested. “Or you could give it tome. It looks all ship-of-the-dead, if you ask me.”
“I secondMy great-niece’sSuggestion.”“You call that poetry?” Susanna blinked at Celeste. “Sometimes, Auntie, I think you’re not even trying anymore.”Celeste shrugged. “My verse is not what once it might have been. I’ve not appeared since I was in Sim Spade.”
“Speaking of that, what ever happened to Sim?” Meadow asked, elbowing her husband in the ribs. “I haven’t seen him or Toshiko in ages.”
“Were I to elucidate upon their whereabouts, I should be required to inhume this present company.”
The conversation gradually moved on to more general subjects, but the question of the family inheritance was not forgotten by Ching Shih. Shemade a mental note to revisit it in the near future. ***
“Hey mom, what are you working on?” Kennit asked.“Oh, just getting my badges… I’ve found myself with a lot of time on my hands since I topped that last career,” Ching Shih said.“I know that. What are you working on specifically?”
“Munchie-bot,” Ching Shih said. “But I’m just going to sell it when I’m done. Chips aren’t very healthy. What brings you to the garage on a brightSunday morning?”“Bored. Balthier keeps getting mad when I make fun of him.”“It’s not nice to make fun of your brother, dear. Even when he’s been unlucky enough to get hauled off to the Secret Society in his birthday suit.”
“Wow, moms really do know everything.” A worried look crossed Kennit’s face.“We do,” Ching Shih said knowingly. “There, all it needs is a coat of paint and I should have my gold badge. Think I’ll tackle toymaking next.Now, why don’t you tell me what has been bothering you and Arabella lately.”
“What makes you think something’s been bothering us?”“All-knowing mother, remember?” Shih put down her tools and turned to face her son.
“Whatever it is, you know you can talk to me.”“I know,” Kennit said. “But it’s not really either of our deal. We’re both just worried about someone else.”“Someone I would worry about too?” Shih prodded gently.“Probably,” Kennit said. “But I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.”
“Well, I can’t promise I wouldn’t say something to your friend’s parents,” Shih said. “But maybe it would be better coming from me than fromyou, if you think your friend’s parents ought to be told.”“Maybe they should… but I don’t know. I talked to Balthier about it and he said he’d help.”“That’s good,” Shih said. “I’m proud of you, Kennit. You have a good heart. Just remember you can’t fix everyone’s problems.”
“I know,” Kennit said. “But sometimes it really stinks that I can’t.”“If you do need more help, just let me know. You know I’m always here.” ***
“You know, I’m really going to miss Friday nights when you all go to university,” Zeus said in a melancholy voice as his sister lined up her shot.“Arabella will still be here,” Troy pointed out.“I know but it won’t be the same.”
“I dunno,” Arabella tossed over her shoulder. “Four fewer older cousins means four fewer chaperones. What do you think, Karat? Looking forwardto being out from under your dads’ watchful eye?”“Am I ever,” Karat said emphatically. “Every time I go on a date, one of the cousins pops up like an unwanted ad for male enhancementproducts.”
“See, this is why it’s going to suck when you all go,” Zeus said. “I’ll miss the banter. I’m not one for banter myself. I prefer to watch with aknowing smile whilst drinking in all the camaraderie. Banter isn’t really my strong point.”“I noticed.”“Also, you’ll get stuck watching Arabella suck face with Loki if you’re going to be doing the chaperone thing,” Karat giggled.
“For the last time, Loki and I are not dating,” Arabella said in frustration. “He’s aggravating!”“Aggravating because he won’t kiss you? That curly hair of his is awfully cute.”“Well, maybe a little.”“Well, don’t get your corset in a knot but he’s coming up behind you.”
“Oh hey Arabella. Fancy running into you here. Of course, this is the only hangout of note on the entire lame-o island.”“Why do you keep ragging on our home? Lest you forget, you’re from here too.”“Only by blood. Not by birth or breeding.”“That doesn’t even make sense, Loki. How about I own your ass on the basketball court?”“That is such a non sequiter. Sure.”
Five minutes found the two teens changed into their workout gear and on the basketball court.“Prepare to have your ass handed to you,” Arabella said, rubbing her hands together gleefully. “Um… have you seen the ball?”
Prodigal inflatables retrieved, the game was finally underway.“Best out of five?”“Yeah, sounds good. And no raising the limits if I’m winning after five, either.”“Hey, we don’t cheat on Pirate Island. No matter what you may hear about Uncle Jack’s business practices. That’s the Code.”
Arabella took her shots and then Loki stepped up to the line.“Not bad, not bad. Looks like I have to sink five to win. You’re pretty good.”Jump. Swish. Jump. Swish. Jump. Swish. Jump. Swish. Jump. Swish.
“Oh,” Arabella said, a little forlornly as the fifth shot flew through the basket with barely a sound. “Nice shot, Loki.”“Hey, you had me working hard,” Loki said. “You’re definitely the best girl I’ve ever played against.”
At that comment, Arabella rounded on him. “You think the reason you won is because I’m a girl? You are such a sexist pig, Loki. Ugh, why don’tyou just go away. You won. Good for you. Get lost.”
“I didn’t mean it like that!” Loki protested, throwing his hands up in frustration. “Aah! I hate when the stuff I want to say comes out wrong.”“Sounds like you’re making excuses.”“No! What I meant to say is, I haven’t played against anybody as good as you, here or back home in Paris. And well, the bit about you being a girljust kind of slipped out because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you and the fact that you’re a girl and you’re gorgeous since the firsttime I saw—“
‘*mmph*’‘Best seven of nine?’‘What about the Code?’‘It’s more like guidelines.’
Upstairs, most of the Buccaneer cousins were having a good time. There weren’t a ton of teenagers left on Pirate Island but of those who werestill around, the majority tended to hang out at the Youth Center on a Friday night and it seemed like all of them were there. In fact, everyonewas enjoying the music and atmosphere except Karat.
“Stupid cousins. Ignoring me while they’re busy flirting with all the dorks who hang out here every Friday. Well fine, if they’re going to ignore me,I’m going to go somewhere I can really have fun.”And, taking care to ensure none of her cousins were paying her any attention, Karat carefully slipped out.
She wandered the streets of Pirate Island for a while, sulking and enjoying her sulk.
When the rat jumped out at her from behind a garbage can, though, Karat decided it was time to head back towards civilization.
She looked around, trying to get her bearings, and realized where she was.
The Mauve Flamingo was packed, just like it had been the last time Karat snuck in. Just like before, Kennedy barely glanced at her fake ID beforesliding a drink across the counter. Karat picked it up and sipped it gingerly.
“You sure you’re old enough to drink that stuff?” one of the other patrons asked, eyeing Karat with concern. “I thought you were one of Joey’sclassmates.”“Got ID, don’t I?” Karat said, picking up her drink and downing the rest of it in one gulp. She slammed the cheap plastic cup back down on thebar. “Gimme another one, Kennedy, and keep ‘em coming til I say to stop.”
“These don’t taste so bad after the first couple.”
“Sh’more?”“I think you’ve had enough. Besides, last call was ten minutes ago, girlie. Time to sober up and get ready to go home. The bar closes in an hour.”
Grumbling to herself, Karat staggered to her feet and stumbled in the direction of the dubious-looking ladies’ room.“Oof.”“Oopsie!” Karat giggled, stepping back from the individual she’d just run into. “Hi! You’re cute! Can I play?”“If you can stay upright, you can probably play.”
“I’m Casper.”“Karat.”“Aren’t you a bit young to be coming here?”“Just gradumated. Got ID ‘n’ everfing.”
“I haven’t seen you on campus yet.”“Ovbiously you haven’t bin lookin hard enough.”
“Obviously not,” Casper agreed. He eyed Karat again. “You don’t look too steady on your feet. Need help getting home?”
“F’r the lass time, I can walk just fine!” Karat said angrily, shrugging off Casper’s helping hand. “Sides, this is where I live.” She hiccupped, andgiggled.
“Well then, I shall bid you adieu,” Casper said once he’d helped the inebriated teen to the front door. “Thanks for an interesting evening, Karat.”
“You’re awfully cute,” Karat said. “How’s about a goodnight kiss?”“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, at least not for a few more—“
Instinctively, Casper’s hand slipped lower… both to steady himself, and because hey, he was a Romance sim, and that was what he normally did.“This is a really, really bad idea…”
Suddenly, the lithe teenager disentangled herself from the college student and bolted into the house.
Casper brought a hand to his mouth. “That was… odd.”
Once she’d recovered somewhat from the effects of the alcohol, Karat managed to kick her clothes to the floor. She collapsed onto her unmadebed and was soon fast asleep. ***
After enjoying a prolonged clinch on the basketball court, Arabella found herself challenging Loki to a pool game. The youth readily agreed andthey rejoined Arabella’s cousins upstairs at the Youth Centre.
“Hey, have you seen where my sister got to?” Troy asked, looking around the room.“I thought I saw her heading to the washroom a bit ago,” Minerva said.“She’s not there,” Arabella called. “Stopped in on my way back from the court.”“Weird,” Troy said. “With the kind of mood she’s in, she’s probably downstairs sulking over a coffee. You probably just missed her on your wayup.”
But a search downstairs ended up fruitless as well.“Guys, I hate to ditch, but I’m going to go looking for Karat,” Troy said, gesturing towards the door. “Anybody coming with me?”“Yeah, might as well,” Arabella said. “Come on, Loki. Let’s help my cousin find my other cousin. And then we can take turns yelling at her forbeing a dumbass and taking off without letting anyone know where she went.”
“I was kind of thinking we could keep this as a cousins-only excursion,” Troy said quietly.“Loki’s cool,” Arabella said simply. “He won’t rat us out or anything. He knows how to hold his tongue.”“”I never thought I’d hear you, in particular, say that about him.”“I’ve had a bit of a change of heart.”
With that, the teens traipsed off into the night. Their first stop found them outside one of Ching Shih’s businesses.“Can I help you lot with anything?” Shih asked, stepping out onto the boulevard.“No, we’re good,” Troy said waving at his aunt. “Just going for a walk to burn off some youthful exuberance before we head home.”“That sounds like an evasion,” his aunt said cheerfully. “Well… pirate, I suppose. Just remember that curfew for most of you is in an hour. Don’tknow about you, Loki, but I suspect your family won’t be happy if you’re out much later than that.”“Yes, Mrs. Buccaneer.”
By unspoken agreement, the teenagers avoided their parents’ establishments from that point on. Answering questions would be … awkward.“Oh hey, I’ve been here,” Loki said when they reached the Cluck in a Bucket. “My uncle Herc runs this place. Sometimes Aunt ‘Faba helps him butusually they’re busy yelling at one another about onions. I think it’s how they show affection. I don’t think they even know I’m in town.”“So we’ll just peek in the windows and be on our way,” Troy said.
“I don’t even think these shops are open this late,” Minerva said doubtfully, eyeing the row of bluestone businesses.“Of course they are,” Troy said. “This is the police station, Minerva.”“Then why does it have a clothing store signboard?””“Can we please just stay focused?” Troy asked. He turned around and glared at Kennit and Arabella. “Are you two coming?”
“Your boyfriend is a coward,” Kennit said, looking around the rows of carefully arranged plots. “It’s just a graveyard. Nothing to be scared of. Ourgreat-aunt’s the Grim Reaper.”“It is full of irritable ghosts though,” Arabella said. “I don’t mind him and Minerva waiting outside.”“I just hope Zeus hurries up and gets back from the washroom,” Troy shivered. “I don’t think Karat is here. She’s angsty, but not really a goth.”
By the time the teens reached their final search location, they’d lost Zeus and Minerva to the siren call of curfew.“She’s not here,” Kennit said disgustedly, looking around the deserted lot. “The pet store’s been closed for hours, and they don’t actually sellcatnip. Face it Troy, she’s just going to show up in her own time.”“Yeah, figuring she would come here to get in touch with her feline side was a long shot, I admit it,” Troy said despondently. “I just wish she’danswer her phone. When she turns up, I’m going to kill her.”
“I think we should call it a night,” the red-headed boy said. “I don’t think I can handle much more lovey-dovey goodness from my sister and herbeau over there, and you can obviously see that their heart isn’t really in searching anymore.”“I guess we’d better head home,” Troy agreed reluctantly. “Let’s go.”The weary teens plodded on to Troy’s front step, whereupon the other three called a cab and he headed inside to get changed and then possiblytalk to his parents.
Imagine, then, Troy’s surprise when he turned on the light in the room he shared with his two sisters and found Karat sprawled unceremoniouslyin bed and reeking to high heaven of cheap booze and old vomit.“What the hell? After I spent all night worrying about you! Why you ungrateful…”But Karat was dead to the world, and her only response to her brother’s diatribe was a pungent belch and a loud snore. Throwing his hands up indisgust, Troy went to bed. ***
Mid-morning the next day, the entire extended family arrived for brunch. If Troy and his cousins appeared to be giving Karat the cold shoulder,none of the adults noticed. Karat’s head was fuzzy enough from the after-effects of overindulging that she didn’t pick up on it either.
“Who’s going to be a big girl soon?”“Me!”“Who’s going to avoid spitting on the cake for daddy?”“Cake is lie!”
Due to the small size of the kitchen/dining room, and also due to the beautifully warm weather, it was decided that the festivities should takeplace outside.
“Okay, Drachma… time to make a wish! And don’t spit on the candles!”“Oooh… fire!”
Candles successfully extinguished, Sterling placed her littlest sister on the grassy lawn and the entire family gathered to cheer Drachma on hergrowing up.
And with that proclamation, the cake was served.
“Hey guys, wanna grab some cake and go inside and hang out?” Karat asked.“Do you hear something, Kennit? Because all I hear is the wind.”“I think you’re right, Arabella,” Kennit agreed. “It sure is windy out today.”
“I am here, you know,” Karat said, scowling at the pair.“Anyway, Loki has to go back to Paris tonight which totally sucks. I wish we could have spent last night actually hanging out and having funrather than traipsing halfway across Pirate Island in search of ingrates, but he’s cool. He said he had fun.”“Why were you wandering the streets of Pirate Island? Hello?”
Giving up, Karat moved to sit with Zeus, Minerva, and Balthier but Drachma snuck into the empty seat.“Is college fun, Balthier?”“It’s okay, I guess,” Balthier said, flashing a grin at the birthday girl.“Was it fun when you got inducted into the secret society with no clothes on?”
“Hey, the munchkin doesn’t need to hear about that sort of thing, Zeus,” Balthier admonished.“I—““I’m not a baby, Balthier,” Drachma said petulantly. “You’re eating my birthday cake. I’m big enough to say naughty words now.”
Throwing her hands up in frustration at her inability to break into any of her cousins’ conversations, Karat stomped towards the house. Sterlingmade as if to approach her but, seeing the look on Karat’s face, decided that discretion was the better part of valour.“Everyone is driving me crazy! I need to get out of here and do something fun.”
“Hi… Casper? It’s Karat. Want to get together and do something tonight?”
“Well, at least she’s stopped scowling at everyone,” Balthier grinned as he headed towards the house after his cousin. “Best see if I can find outwhy nobody else is speaking to Karat.”“This have anything to do with Kennit’s big secret that he confided in you?” Shih asked, coming up behind him.“Arrr,” Balthier said.“A proper pirate’s non-answer if ever I heard one, mate,’ said Grandpa Jack. “Now, where’s a bear go to get a drink in these parts?”
Though she stayed and pretended to be sociable until the guests left, Karat was gone as soon as she was sure the rest of the household wasasleep. ***
“Zeus? What are you doing sleeping on the couch?”
Zeus started and sat up, rubbing his eyes, as his uncle plopped down on the opposite end of the couch.
“I’m sick and tired of having to share a room with my dads,” Zeus complained, managing to scowl and yawn at the same time. “Do you knowwhat it’s like praying you fall asleep before your parents decide to indulge in marital activities? It’d be fine if they’d do that sort of thing whileI’m at school, or while I’m out with my friends. But it sucks trying to sleep with your fingers shoved in your ears. Especially when you have pointyears with exceptionally good hearing, like I do.”
“So in other words, you’re tired of being scarred for life and you really want your own room.”“Exactly. And until I get one, I’m claiming the couch.”“You can’t be having a very good sleep.”“No, because you keep bringing your girlfriends home and your room doesn’t have a door. And by the way, the furry one who came by lastnight? She was in Balthier’s class. She’s barely legal, I’ll have you know.”
“Err…” Borusa blushed. “Right. Well, if you’d slept on the other side of the door Ragamuffin wouldn’t have disturbed you.”“Exactly the problem,” Zeus said. “This apartment is too damned small. Even with Minerva going to university soon, I’ll just be trading up tosleeping in the closet. Heaven forbid I need to get up to go to the washroom after the dads go to bed. I still have to go through their room to getto it. I want to move.”“I’ll see what I can do.” ***
“So here’s the deal,” Borusa said later that morning, once the kids had gone off to school. “This apartment is too small for all five of us.”“Minerva moves out next week.”“Even so. I’m sleeping in what should be the dining room, and Zeus has started sleeping on the couch. Minerva sleeps in a closet. And we’re notexactly broke anymore.”
“We might have some money, but can we afford a house with more bedrooms than this apartment has? I mean, I’ve looked at the paper and stuffand property is not cheap. I don’t want to move only to have to live like a pauper for the rest of my life.”
“Look at us,” Borusa said. “The three of us have all topped our careers. I think we should look at a medium-sized place with expansion potential.That’s the real benefit to buying a house. Once we have it, we can add on as needed. As everyone is so fond of saying, Minerva moves out nextweek. Zeus is only here for one more season but I’m sure he’d appreciate having a real bedroom for that season.”
“So how about I look around and find us the perfect place,” Borusa continued. “I’ve got three days off in a row. I’ve got a pretty good idea of ourbudget. And I think I know everyone in the family well enough to pick something we can all live with. What do you two say?” ***
That afternoon found Borusa touring the various for-sale houses of Pirate Island.“Yes, we’re looking to upgrade to a more box-like structure. Somewhere we can store the vast quantities of Elixir we require to maintain ouryouthful figures. Would you like to see the living room?”
“Oh yes, my boyfriend’s half-brother isn’t going to be with us much longer and the layout of this house just doesn’t work for us, but it does havelots of bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Oh, have fun at work Dionysus, darling. I’ll just show Borusa around the house.”
“Ooh, you must be Borusa! Come right in! This house is far too big for just my son and I—we’re hoping to downgrade to a small apartment. Justwait til you see the kitchen. It’s utterly marvellous.”
“No, Jeeves, I can handle this appointment myself. I’ll be showing the house for the next hour or two if you would like to go out and pick up thedrycleaning. Come in, Borusa. Ever since the children went to university and my husband passed, I get so agoraphobic in this great big house. Iwill say the real selling-point is the master bathroom. You simply have to see it to believe it.”
‘Tina! It’s been forever! How are you? How’s your son? Your husband?”“Cyd passed away last year, Borusa.”“Oh, I’m so sorry. I hadn’t heard. So you’re selling your house?”“Thinking about it, at least. Why don’t you come in and we can catch up on old times.”
“So I guess you’re all wondering why we booked the party room for dinner tonight,” Hades led off. “Well, there’s two reasons really. I know we’redoing a big party to celebrate your graduation, Minerva, but I thought it would be nice if we celebrated more privately as well.”“Thanks,” Minerva said, blushing modestly. “What’s the other reason?”
“We wanted to surprise the two of you,” Borusa said, grinning. “I bet you’re wondering why I’ve been out so much the past few days. Well, I’vebeen house-hunting for all of us! I must have looked at every house on Pirate Island currently for sale, and even a few that aren’t, and I learnedthat there sure are a lot of bored Romance sim housewives and lonely widows on Pirate Island, but that’s beside the point. The good news is, I’vefound us a place!”
“Woohoo!” Minerva and Zeus chorused in unison.“Do we get to have our own rooms?” Zeus asked hopefully.
“Oh, I get it,” Minerva said, realization dawning. “You’re moving just as I move out. This way you can get a smaller place and still guarantee Zeusa room of his own.”
“The timing is a bit unfortunate, I agree,” Spandrell said placatingly, “but wherever we wind up living, we’ll make sure you have a bedroom setaside until the two of you decide which one of you is moving home after university to carry on the family line.”
“Well in that case, I approve,” Minerva said. “What do you think, Zeus?”“I get my own room! This is so sweet!” ***
Balthier’s second semester of university had been remarkably uneventful, other than relentless teasing from his classmates about theunfortunate Secret Society Induction incident. Final exams rolled around and he passed respectably, though not at the head of the class. Shortlythereafter, he found himself in his dorm room surrounded by a year worth of accumulated… stuff. And a soused bear.A knock sounded at his door.“Come in!”
“Umm… hi Balthier.”“Chandler? What are you doing here?” Balthier walked around the bed and stared at his former best friend.“Well, my room is next door.”“Really?”
“Really. I’ve been hiding in a coffee shop every day hoping to avoid running in to you,” the redhead continued. “Grilled cheese?”“No thanks, I just ate. Why the hell are you here?”
Chandler pushed the door shut behind him. “I wanted to apologize.”“Apologize? APOLOGIZE? Bit late for that, isn’t it?”“Oy, keep the noise down, mate!”
“I just… I feel guilty,” Chandler said, crossing his arms defensively. “I knew you and Brittany were a thing, and I wanted her, and I pretty muchjumped her that night at the dance. She wasn’t into it. She pushed me away and ran after you. I didn’t start dating her until she’d given up ongetting you back.”“That’s not how I remember it.”“Well, it’s what happened no matter what you remember. It was my fault, and I’m sorry. I was kind of hoping… since we’re neighbours… thatmaybe we could be friends?”
“That depends,” Balthier said, glaring at Chandler suspiciously. “Are you and Brittany still together?”“We broke up ages ago,” Chandler said. “Apparently, I’m not her type. Anyway, she got a bit weird towards the end.”
“She always was weird,” Balthier said, his voice a mixture of fondness and annoyance. “Well, I guess if the two of you aren’t together anymore, Icould handle at least being civil again.”A look of relief washed over Chandler’s face. “Really? I mean, that’s cool.”“Yeah, have you applied to Arravast yet? You should. I’ll make sure my cousin and her girlfriend don’t blackball you.”
“You’d do that? Seriously? I was just hoping to avoid getting a black eye when I walked in here.”“Chandler, all that shit happened five years ago. I’ve been over Brittany since before coming to university—by the way, did you hear she’spledged Arravast? Not sure if I’m going to let her in or not. Thinking about it. Anyway, I’ve definitely moved on to greener pastures. Occasionallybluer pastures.”“Yeah, I hear you’re a bit of a Don Juan around campus. What’s your secret?”
Balthier grinned. “It’s simple. Dazzling good looks, no real sense of shame, and realizing that not every relationship has to be forever. Some mayonly last until the next morning, but as long as you and she are having fun, it’s worth it and not worth any regrets.” ***
Before anyone knew it, the end of Spring arrived. College students flew back to Pirate Island for a quick vacation before heading back to theSummer semester—and in some cases brought their significant others home with them to meet the parents. And on Pirate Island, a new class ofstudents graduated.Seeing as how her younger son was among the members of the Spring class, Ching Shih decided to throw a blowout party honouring all of theseason’s graduates.
The Fall and Winter classes had their Sadie Hawkins dance, but the event of the season that all the younger members of generation seven wouldtalk about for years was the Spring class graduation party. Everyone who was anyone was there, young and old alike.
“Do you think mom will throw a party this awesome when we graduate next season?” Arabella asked Zeus, shouting to be heard over thepounding music and the chatter of fifty or so guests.“I dunno, wasn’t this expensive?”“Silly, she owns this place,” Arabella grinned. “Not that money is any object to our family. I snuck a peek at mom’s bank statement and we’reworth over a million simoleans now! Plus, pirate – if we ever run out we can just go pillage some more!”
Only one member of the graduating class wasn’t really having a good time. Karat still found herself ostracized by her cousins, and that alienationhad spread to include much of the rest of the class.“Things will be better when I get to university,” Karat told herself. “Definitely better. No supervision, no clingy and judgemental cousins.” But itwas thoughts of a certain dark-haired collegiate that really occupied her imagination.
“Whoa, watch the exuberance there, Zing,” Ching Shih grinned, surveying the room and dodging her older brother’s flailing arm. “Gonna takesomeone’s eye out if you’re not careful.”“Dance dance revloo… resovul… revulso… turnin’ round thingy,” Shere Khan opined.“If you’d been looking at the camera, this would actually be a nice photo of the four of us,” Jim chimed in, leaning forward to examine the shotDrachma had taken.
“You must be Sterling’s sister, Karat,” Claire Mellon said, smiling warmly and reaching forward to shake Karat’s hand. “I’ve heard so much aboutyou from Sterling and Balthier. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you!”“Really? I mean, it’s great to meet you too,” Karat said, willing a smile that wasn’t entirely forced. She found herself liking her sister’s girlfriend.“You’re all Sterling talks about. I feel like I already know you!”
Troy, meanwhile, was trying to get the attention of one of his classmates: specifically, Naomi Curious. The blond Pleasure sim was one of the fewof his non-related classmates who had not yet succumbed to his charms, and he had high hopes for at least a dance during the party.“Teenagers are lettuce-noses,” Drachma said, rolling her eyes dramatically as she watched the proceedings. She was careful to make sure she gota good picture—for later blackmail purposes, of course.
Drachma was careful to make sure got in as many other incriminating shots as she could—again, for future blackmail purposes. Jack BuccaneerJr. nodded in approval once he realized what she was doing.“Stop corrupting the youth,” his wife chided.“Absolutely, my inestimable cinnamon strudel. Nevertheless, should this enfant horrible require suitable employment upon maturity, theSyndicate will be forthcoming. We must endeavour to improve her vocabulary, however.”
“Remember when we were heading off to university? Seems like it was only yesterday.”“I dunno, sometimes it feels like it’s been ages,” Hades said slowly. “For some reason the past few seasons feel like they’ve dragged on far longerthan they ought have. I think it’s my deity sense tingling.”
“I hear you’re dabbling as a Romance sim now that you’re away at university,” Borusa grinned, giving his nephew a wink and a nod.“Just enjoying myself before I have to settle down. Not that I’m certain I’ll need to settle down. But if I wind up as heir, I’ll need to settle down.And if I don’t, I won’t. In conclusion, I’ve had too much punch and now I’m going to go crazy dance.”
“Gah, Drachma! Get that camera away from me. I was totally having a Derp moment.”“Silly kale-toes Kennit, I was taking a picture of Sterling. She’s danged pretty in that dress. You just got in the way.”
As the party wore on, Karat found herself having a bit more fun. She was able to get some of her classmates to give her the time of day onceeveryone got a bit more relaxed and started enjoying the party hospitality. She spent the rest of the event hanging out with Mialee and Joey whileshooting daggers at her cousins whenever she glanced in their direction.
“Great party, Mrs. Buccaneer!” Dominic Pseudo said enthusiastically. “This is the event of the season, hands down. I hope I get invited to all yourparties once I’m fully employed as a Professional Party Guest.”“I’ll keep you in mind, dear,” Shih grinned. Dominic’s father was one of her favourite cousins, and while they didnt get together as much as shewould like, Shih had a soft spot for all of Hugo and Lainey’s children.
“Congratulations, Kennit!” Sterling grinned. “Great party! Sure wish our parents had thrown something like this when I graduated. Now I’mfeeling unloved.”“As if,” Claire grinned, coming up behind her girlfriend.“Wow, your girlfriend really is hot,” Kennit said, eyes wide. “Balthier wasn’t lying!”“Perv. And no, you can’t watch.”
Looks like the party is in full swing. Silly sims… should I? Nah… more fun to wait. They’ll get what’s coming to them sooner rather than later.Mua Ha Ha. *cough* *cough*Hmm… needs work.
Finally, the party wound down and the four newest graduates of Pirate Island posed for posterity in front of their going-away banner. Spring wasover… what would Summer hold for them? ***
Thanks to all of my dear readers for your infinite patience as it seems only update a few times a year these days. I’m working on it—honest! I’veplayed through to the end of Summer and the start of generation 8, so I hope I will be able to update again soon. The plot is moving into highgear so I’ve got to stage everything, which takes longer… but on the plus side, I know exactly what is going to happen.See you all again soon, and Happy Simming!
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