Previously in The Absolutely Crazy Matriarchy: "He just gave us this weird prophecy type thing. Let's see... Two halves of one One lives in the sun One stays in the shade Not meant to be made When one takes it all The other will fall Which way will it side? You must decide."...
...What. The. HECK? What on earth is that meant to mean? I send you guys on an expensive trip to Takemizu Village, and all you can tell me is some dodgy poem?...
...Rin hauled herself onto the small bed, miserable with worry. The baby (well, babies, if Fury was to be trusted) kicked at her gently. She rested her hands on her abdomen. "It's okay, sweeties. We'll get out of this. Fire will save us. I hope."...
...I'm not afraid of you, Fury. I know who you are. "Oh? And who am I, then?" You're me, aren't you? Fury chuckled. "Someone's done her homework." She tugged off her beret and glasses, shook her hair free, and wiped at her makeup...
...Where is Corinna, Fury? Fury sighed. "Downstairs, but good luck getting to her." And the fourth wall? "I can't remove that. You'll have to do it yourself." I didn't think so. Now get out of my sight before I decide to be less merciful. With a last dirty look at her doppelganger, Fury raced out and to her helicopter. Fire didn't try to stop her...
...It was not over. Not yet... *** And now we return to your regularly scheduled broadcast.
Well, Fire said to the others with a satisfied smile on her battered face. Looks like we're going to get back to normal at last. "Define normal." Lucy quipped. Fire grinned. Well, as normal as we can get. "Where's Remus?" asked Jeremy.
A deafening howling came from outside. He's... well... it's a full moon. "He gets to be a werewolf?" Well, he is a werewolf in his home dimension... "How come he gets to be all hairy but I'm still human?" Spike snapped. His non-vampirism had become a definite sore point. Fire rolled her eyes. We've been through this, Spike. You're immortal already, you don't need to be a vampire. "So?"
Spike, I love you too much to lose you for half the day. Now, can we get on with things? "Fine." Fire cleared her throat. First order of business. Since joining their world, I have managed to set up an alliance with the Good Witches... "You're a witch?*" Spike exploded. Oh, forget it. Meeting adjourned. We might as well get back to the Chandlers. The Simselves beat a hasty exit as Spike started ranting about Simselves who needed their priorities straightened. *SimFire is also a witch in charris' Regacy 'hood. I blame her entirely for Fire rolling the want to become a witch.
Corinna was delighted when her belly first 'popped'. She'd all too recently been afraid she'd never give birth to these children. She was a touch less reluctant to change into her bland maternity clothes this time around.
"You're going to get a little brother or sister, Justin. Or both," she added, remembering with a slight shudder Fury's prediction of twins. "I hope you can be a good big brother." Justin gurgled happily. Rin smiled and tucked him in. "Goodnight, little man."
This pregnancy was certainly harder on Rin than the last one had been. She wanted to be taking care of Justin but the reality was that she didn't have the energy. Bella was all too happy to take care of her grandson while Rin rested.
Rin was determined, however, to twirl her son into toddlerhood. She sighed as she stepped up to the cake with Justin in her arms. She knew Fire was out there somewhere, but it would have been nice to have her at the small party.
Rin blew out the candles for her infant son and, as Bella looked on and cheered, threw him lightly into the air.
In a shower of confetti Rin caught her son; he looked an awful lot like his father, but he had inherited Bella's flattened nose. Rin tweaked said feature, earning a shrieking giggle from Justin. Justin's personality is 4/10/9/4/1. He's a lot nicer in-game than his personality suggests.
With Rin heavily pregnant and getting closer to her due date, Bella had taken over teaching Justin to talk. "Can you say 'Bella?" "Bewwa!" "How about..." Bella cast her eyes about the nursery for an idea. "...Rocket?" Justin's eyes lit up. "Wocket! Wocket!" Bella chuckled. She seemed to have hit upon a theme here. "Star?" "Staww!" Justin put a lot of effort into pronouncing the word. "Guess you want to be an astronaut one day, huh, Justin?" "Astwonawt!"
Rin made a huge effort to be a good mother to her son. "What did Grandmama Bella teach you today, Justin?" "Juss be a astwonawt!" "Really?" "Yep! Juss go inna biiig wocket!" Rin could only smile at her son's enthusiasm. "When you get bigger, sweetheart. You have to go to bed now." "Night night mummy."
Several hours later, Rin woke up in the middle of the night. "Oh no. MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!" Rin heard her mother call out sleepily from the bottom floor. "Whassamatter?" Rin yelped as the next contraction hit her. "Baby!"
Bella arrived in Rin's room just as Rin twirled out her daughter. "She's beautiful, Rin." "Sure is. She's my kid, isn't she?" Rin cooed at her daughter. "What's her name?" "Susannah." Susannah is named after Susannah Simon, the protagonist of Meg Cabot's Mediator series. Susannah can talk to ghosts and kick their butts if need be.
"Uh, you'd better hold her, Mum." "Why is that, dear?" Rin yelped again. "Being a twin yourself I would have thought it would be obvious." Bella's eyes lit up. "Oh!"
After some more shrieking and cursing of the twins' father, Rin was holding a small baby boy, with the same skin, eyes and hair as his sister. "Hello, little James." "Two J kids?" Bella asked teasingly. "Hey, I like James."
Rin looked at her two children proudly, then looked over at her mother. Her face fell slightly. "What's the matter, Rin?" Bella said worriedly. "Can you imagine all the nappies we'll have to change?" wailed Rin. Bella chuckled. "We'll manage, honey."
Rin and Bella set the two up in the nursery, marveling the whole time at how cute the two were. James rolled over and went straight to sleep. Susannah, on the other hand, stared up at the ceiling with mild interest. Twins they may have been, but Rin doubted there would be anything identical about them.
The days fell into an easy rhythm. Bella kept teaching Justin his skills. "Up we go, little man." "Juss walk now, Gwandma Bewwa?" Bella looked at him skeptically. "Okay, kiddo. Walk away." She was fairly surprised when, with a giggle, Justin tottered quickly away from her. She ran to catch up. "Gwandma silly."
Rin hugged her daughter. "You've got a busy life ahead, Suzie." Remembering the trials she herself had faced as heir, she sighed. She was somewhat interrupted by the sound (and smell) of James, who was wailing. "Nappy change time, is it? Yeesh, I was right about those, wasn't I?"
Soon, it was inevitably time for birthdays. By chance, Justin was going to become a child on the same day as the twins became toddlers. "Juss not want to grow up, Mummy. Want to stay little." "Everyone has to grow up someday, honey. Besides, when you're bigger you can help me look after the Twin Terrors." Justin liked that idea. "Juss be good big brother." "You sure will be, little man."
Bella looked fondly at the twins. It was a rare peaceful moment, with neither of them crying or needing a nappy change. She knew she'd miss the baby stage the minute the first of them flooded the bathroom.
Justin's birthday was a quiet affair; with three birthdays to get through there was no opportunity for a big party.
Rin had to gently restrain Justin as he reached, entranced, towards the glowing candles. "No touchy, little man. We have to blow them out, not play with them." Justin pouted. "They're pretty!" "C'mon, kiddo, you want to grow up?" Justin stopped pouting and tried to blow out the candles. "Let me help you there." Together they blew out the candles, then Rin set Justin on the floor so the sparkles could do their job.
"Hey! I'm bigger! And I've lost that adorable but irritating lisp!" Rin scrutinised her oldest son's face. "Yup, you definitely got my nose, kiddo." Bella chuckled. "It was my nose before it was yours, Rinna." Rin laughed. "We better get the other two, otherwise this will take all night." "I don't mind." piped up Justin. "Juss, you don't get a late curfew until you're sixteen." Justin pouted again.
Bella and Rin set up the new cakes, then slipped upstairs to pick up the twins. "Maybe it'll be easier to tell them apart now," said Rin hopefully. "Wonder if they got the nose as well," mused Bella. "Maybe they'll get the squirrel cheeks too." Rin dodged Bella's playful elbow.
"Just for that, I'm spinning first." Bella blew out James' candles and twirled him into the air. James giggled as the glowy sparkles tickled his skin.
Justin (now with a decent hair cut and new clothes) smiled as his newly-toddlerified brother landed in Bella's arms. "He got the nose." "He sure did." Bella smiled at her grandson. "We better get you a better haircut than that, James."
"Are you done yet?" Rin blew out Suze's candles and then proceeded to throw the heir to the Chandler line into the air.
Suze came down into her mother's arms sporting hair not unlike Fire's. "I'm sure Fire will be pleased you picked this hair, sweetie, but it really doesn't suit you."
"Let's get you a hairstyle that suits you better, Suzie."
The twins looked surprisingly alike, but with the addition of colour-coded pyjamas, Rin was able to tell her kids apart. Suze and James are actually physically identical, but their personalities are respectively 10/9/1/1/5 and 7/3/1/8/8. After my last brush with the Firstborn Effect, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw this.
The next few days were a blur od toddler skilling, emptying potties, and other such mundane tasks brought by the presence of two rambunctuous toddlers. Well, one toddler who was precocious enough for herself and her brother. "Can you say Mummy?" "Rin!" "No, Mummy." "Rin!" "Close enough."
However, there at last was a time in which everyone was asleep.
"Hoo boy, what have I gotten myself into? I should have just made Tempe do this. Now THAT would have been funny. "Or maybe a complete disaster. Oh well, the terrors are quiet now, in any case. Maybe I can close my eyes... for a little bit..."
But it was never to be quiet for long. "Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum!"
In what seemed like an extremely short stretch of time to everyone except Rin, Suze and James had learned all their skills and were ready to join Justin as children. Justin was fairly pleased to finally get someone his own age to play with.
After the candles had been blown out, Rin and Bella set the twins on the floor for a synchronised sparkledance.
Perfectly synchronised, as it turned out. "Hands!" "James, sweetie, you need a haircut." "And I need a fashion intervention! Who put me in this tacky bathrobe?" "Uh, that was you, sweetie." "Lies! Lies, I tells you!"
"Much better. Pink is such an elegant colour." Suze could have sworn she heard a frustrated voice yell out "Not another framming pink-loving egotist in the family!" followed by the sound of a cranium impacting on a wooden surface.
James, however, opted for a short but messy cut which suited his laid-back style.
After some protests, Rin finally managed to persuade the twins into bed. This was mostly achieved by bribing Suze with a pretty pink castle bed. "You've got guts, kiddo, and an ego. Don't know how useful it's going to be to you, but you'll need something to get you through all this insanity. Especially since we don't have Fire around any more."
Next morning, the twins were looking forward to their first day at school. "What's it like, Justin?" "It's okay. There's a lot of scary big kids, but the classes are cool. Especially the ones I have with Ganymede. He tells me about the stars." Ganymede is the result of a Dance Sphere experiment I did on Daniel. Luckily, he is not insane like his sister Stella.
And so, bright and early, the three siblings traipsed out to the school bus to give their mother some well-earnt quiet time.
Bella was determined to get the three into private school, as she had been for her own children. "Nice to see you again, Principal." "A pleasure." The principal seemed less interested in the children than in Bella herself. Bella ignored his oily manner and commenced the usual tour and dinner.
"I think we can find a place for your children in my school, Miss Chandler." "They're my grandchildren." "Really? But you look so young!" Bella rolled her eyes. "Nice try, but I've been in a relationship for several years now." The principal looked disappointed, but nevertheless admitted the children into the school. Seriously. He stalked her. All night. He didn't go home after the points were tallied. I eventually had to get out the Batbox and send him home. Darn glitches.
Naturally, the commencement of school also brought the commencement of homework. "...and that's how we got vampires!" "I don't get what the llamas have to do with it, Mum." "They have everything to do with it, sweetheart." "You do know I'm doing maths homework?" "Of course..."
"What's two times three, Grandma?" "Well, if you had three apples, and I gave you three more..." "Grandma, are you sure you don't want to close the door?" "I am quite happy where I am, young man."
"Byeeeee, Miss Bus Driver!" "See you later, kid!" James' friendly and laid-back personality had netted him friendships not only with the whole class, but with his teacher, the principal. and the bus driver.
Suze, however, was not nearly so friendly or cheerful at that moment. "Aww! A B+? That sucks! I guess Mum was wrong about the llamas. I think I'll go to Grandma for homework help from now on."
Justin, on the other hand, was quietly pleased that his project on space travel had received an A+. His teacher had even put a little comment in the margin for Rin to read. 'Justin is an intelligent and capable student. If he continues this work there is no doubt he will succeed in his future career.'
One day, thought Justin as he looked eagerly through the (previously fairly neglected) telescope. One day, I'll go up to the stars and planets.
One morning, Suze got up and groaned. Then she brightened when she saw the calendar tacked above her dresser. "Yay! Weekend!"
"What are we gonna do today, boys?" "We could go find RealFire!" James said brightly. "Mum's always saying how much she wants her back. I think she'd be happy if we found her!" "What? You been drinking boot juice, twin? Fire's just a fairy story Mum tells us to make us go to bed on time." Suze was scornful. "Nuh uh. She's real. Mum said there's an invisible wall between us and her and one day it'll be gone again." "And you think you're gonna be able to get rid of it? Yeesh, twin, you come up with some weird ideas." "I got an idea." Justin's eyes shone. "Mum and Grandma set up a playground for us. We can go there!" "Good idea! C'mon, twin. Last one there's a rotten egg!"
"Rats." Justin looked at his plate as the twins scampered out the door, then snarfed the pancakes down as fast as he could. "I'mfff coming, guyshhhh!"
"Let's play 'Spaceship Adventurers'!" "Like the TV show?" "Sure! I get to be fearless Captain Barrow, adventurer and alien scourge." Justin looked out across the imaginary starfield. "Aliens off the port bow!"
"Only if I get to be the beautiful Princess Nari who Barrow is taking to Makron-5 for her wedding to the *handsome* Prince Zon." "What about me?" "You, twin, can be Zobrat." "The cabin boy?" "Sure!" "Rats."
"Um, guys! Did the forecast say anything about ice rain?" "Nope, but it did say there would be hail today." James was proud that he remembered. "James, you doof, that is ice rain." "Oh." "Abandon ship!" hollered Justin.
"Ow ow ow ow!" Defeated by the unpredictable weather, the kids were driven back inside to escape the hailstones pelting them.
"Well, this is boring." "You called it, little sis. Weekends are meant to be awesome, not hail-y."
"I have an idea of what we can do." James picked up the remote control for the stereo and switched it on. Rin's favourite station blared out. Shuddering slightly at the music, James switched to a more kid-friendly pop station.
"Dance time!" "Maybe not all your ideas are weird, twin." The three kids spent the afternoon dancing crazily, not really caring that the sun wasn't shining anymore.
"Hey guys! It's stopped hailing!" "Last one back outside's a rotten egg!" "Aw rats!" Suze raced out to catch up with her brothers.
"Whee! This is more LIKE it!" Justin was getting ever closer to becoming a teenager. He didn't mind getting older too much, but the fact that his little sister kept reminding him of it was a little annoying.
"Hee hee, you're gonna get oooooooold!" "Knock it off, Suze!" "You'll be old like Grandma Bella! You'll be all crusty and wrinkly!" "Knock it OFF, Suze! Sheesh!"
Suze persisted, if only because she was Suze. "You'll look like this! Arrr, I'm Justin and I'm ooooold!"
"Enough, Suze!" "Ooooh, touchy, are we? That's another sign of getting oooooold!" "What about you, then?" "What about me?"
"I get to grow up and you'll still be little! Suze the squirt!" "H-hey! I am not a squirt!" "Suze the shrimp! Shrimpy Suze!" "Just you wait! I'll grow up too and I'll beat the snot out of you!" With that, Suze bolted up to the tower to hide.
Truth was, Suze was a little scared of growing up. She knew that one day she'd end up as a portrait on Legacy Wall with just a tombstone to prove she'd ever been alive, while her brothers would live forever in all the comfort afforded Legacy spares. She knew her duty. That didn't mean she liked the idea of dying.
Justin wanted a party for his birthday. In the past, Chandler birthdays had been quiet affairs due in part to monetary issues. Now the family was reasonably affluent so there was no reason for Justin not to have a decent party. However, Rin managed to put her personal touch on the event. "She's gone a bit overboard with the balloons, hasn't she, Grandma?" "I don't know. I think there's a square metre over there without them." "Where?" called Rin from the hallway. "I was being sarcastic, dear!"
The guests started arriving, including Tempe who was back temporarily from the Bachelor Challenge. She 'accidentally' ran into Fire. No hard feelings, Tempe? "Plenty, thank you. And what's this about a fourth wall? I'm away five minutes and you let the place fall to pieces?" At least your sister's still alive, pointed out Fire frostily. And we thought you might benefit from meeting people who are not your immediate family. "I don't like people who aren't my immediate family!" So you don't like Frank at all. "I... er... never said that..."
"Aunt Tempe? Fire? Can you please not argue? I need to blow out the candles, is all." Sorry, Justin. Fire looked fondly at the eldest Chandler. Tempe muttered something about uppity demigods and ignored her younger sister's glare.
Everyone custered around the table and cheered as Justin took a deep breath and blew out the candles.
Justin made his wish as the sparkles swarmed and spiralled around him. I wish for the stars, and the smarts and drive to get me to them! Justin rolled Knowledge/Popularity, with a LTW to become a Space Pirate. Shock horror.
"Wow, I'm tall!" Justin grew into a fairly good-looking specimen of a teenager. "You're ooooooold, Justin!" called Suze. "Suze... drop it."
Justin soon found clothes that suited him better than when he'd transitioned into, and managed to get Rin to give him a haircut that did not involve a mohawk of any kind. It was a near thing, though.
"So, big brother. You headed off to college now?"
"Not just yet, Suze. I'm going to stay awhile and help Mum look after you two little terrors." Suze pouted. "Not that little. Gonna be big in a few days." Justin chuckled. "I know that, squirt. Still gonna stick around awhile. Besides, Mum says she wants us to all go to college together. Something about a blonde traitoress who needs dealing with." Suze grinned wickedly. "Sounds like fun!"
School continued for the Chandlers. "Yessss! An A+! Susannah's creative story titled 'The Great Wall of Cheese' is funny and inventive and she has thoroughly earned this high mark. "...But it was meant to be factual! I KNEW I should have gone to Grandma!"
Justin managed to score a high mark on the same day as his twin. "Let's see here... James is a quiet boy but his recent project on the history of grilled cheese made him stand out from the class. Yay!"
"Twin, can I swap study-buddies with you?" "Nuh-uh. I like studying with Grandma Bella. She can talk through doors." "You been into the boot juice again?" "No! But I think Grandma Bella has." "So has Mum. She thinks llamas will take over the world." "Adults are weird."
Justin's fascination with the stars had not been altered one jot by his transition. "I just have to study hard for the next six or so years and I'll reach the stars. Easy-peasy."
Justin was always watched, however. His great-great-great grandmother always kept a close eye on him. "Such a driven boy. Such potential... Such a shame." *** That's the chapter! Will Suze grow up an ego bigger than Mars? Will James come out of his shell? Why is Holly's ghost so worried about James? Well, you'll have to wait for the next chapter to find out!