Rajah Buccaneer and Moll Thayer danced in slow circles on their front lawn. It was a time of change, and while they werent happy about it... theywere ready.“Weve had a good life together,” Moll said softly. “Two children, five grandchildren. We eventually got married. Do you regret any of it, Rajah?”“Only that we couldnt be together longer,” the tiger-skinned sim said in a low rumble.
That was apparently the cue that the Grim Reaper had been waiting for.“ANOTHER OF MY PEERS,” Susanna sighed once Rajah had disappeared from sight, umbrella drink in hand. “I AM GETTING TIRED OFWATCHING MY FRIENDS DIE.”“Just wait until your children start to go,” Jeanette, one of the hula zombies, said sympathetically. “Thats even rougher.”“YOU ARE NOT HELPING. THATS IT, NO CHRISTMAS BONUS FOR YOU THIS YEAR.”“Aww...”
For Moll and Rajahs family, however, life had to go on. Two of the grandchildren of whom theyd been speaking were celebrating their toddlerbirthday only a few hours after Rajahs passing: Angel and Spike.Children of Rakshasi and James Ottomas-Thayer, the boys were unfortunately not blessed with the familial tiger skintone. Thanks to their fathers... unique ... appearance, the rest of the family were curious as to what the boys would look like.
Angel was the first to grow up into his toddler years, assisted by James. While everyone silently agreed that the tiger skintone would have helpedhis appearance greatly, nobody was crass enough to say it aloud. Besides, such interesting genetics were sure to spice up the general appearance ofPirate Island.
Next up was Spike, aided and abetted by mother Rakshasi.“Lets see just how much like your daddy you look,” Rakshasi cooed, cuddling her son close before she leaned forward to help him blow out thecandles.
Little Spike poofed into a remarkably similar appearance as his twin brother, though with the darker skintone he wore it a bit better.“Come on, you,” Rakshasi smiled, putting her son down. “Why dont you go play with your brother for a bit, and then you can have a slice ofbirthday cake!”“Caek!” Spike cooed, clapping pudgy hands together excitedly.
The next day, Moll followed her husband to the great beyond. Presumably they will be spending the rest of their existence sipping mai tais on thebeach in the Great Beyond.“IT DOESNT GET ANY EASIER.”“You know, you could start offering the rest of the generation volume discounts,” Jeanette suggested.“THAT IS JUST A LITTLE BIT CRASS ... ILL THINK ABOUT IT.”
Despite their grief, Rakshasi and James were so busy with the education and training of their young sons, they didnt have much time to wallow.Young Angel had frequent requests for stories and songs and general attention from both parents. If he wasnt being played with by somebody, hewasnt happy.
As for Spike, he was more content to sit and play with his xylophone. But somebody better be watching him, or he was sure to kick up a fuss!
Both boys were growing bigger at a rapid pace, and before Rakshasi and James were ready for it, it was time for another birthday.This time, Rakshasi assisted Angel to the cake.“Come on, little man,” Rakshasi said encouragingly. “Blow out the candles and make a wish!”“Cant tell,” James added. “Or it wont come true.”“Okay,” Angel said seriously, screwing his eyes shut. Then he opened them. “Ready!”
James stepped up to the second cake with Spike a moment later.“Wish time?” Spike asked, pointing at the cake curiously.“Exactly,” James said. “You ready, little man?”“Blow candles! Now!” Spike insisted. Leaning forward, he doused all four candles in a spectacular display of spittle and phlegm.“Err... better get the spare cake out of the fridge,” James said over his sons head as he put the boy down on the ground to finish growing up.Rakshasi nodded and grinned at her husband. “Im on it!”
To the familys surprise and delight, Angel grew quite nicely into his features. While he was still on the awkward side, he wasnt likely to becondemned to an uglacy any time soon. And with his charming personality, nearly everybody liked him.
Just like his brother, Spike grew up better than anyone had expected. Also like his brother, his oddly shaped eyes had less than 20/20 vision, but hecheerfully donned his pair of glasses.“Glasses are cool,” he declared as he pushed them up the bridge of his nose. “Cmon, Angel... lets go outside and play catch!”“Wish we could get our own soccer net,” Angel grumbled.“If you go to bed on time, Ill take you to the field tomorrow,” James promised. “Now, eat your cake and then you can brush your teeth and getready for bed. Got it?”After a little bit of grumbling and moaning, both boys nodded and did as their father said.
One final surprise awaited the family that evening. Once the guests had left, Rakshasi was startled when her stomach suddenly popped into anunmistakeably pregnant aspect.“James,” she called sweetly from the bedroom. “Would you please GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW?”“What is it?” James asked, rushing in. His jaw dropped when he saw his wifes delicate condition. “Were having another baby! Woo hoo!”*****
Angora Legacina grinned at her husband Ian. “Is it hot in here, or are you just happy to see me?”“Baby, you make it hot in here,” Ian said, fanning himself. “Even in those ridiculous orange pajamas.”“Hey, I thought you liked my pajamas!” Angora pouted.“I do,” Ian said. “They look great on the floor next to our bed when--”
“Eww!” their oldest daughter, Calico, said disgustedly. She put her hand over the phones receiver for a moment. “Mom, dad, could you at least trynot to traumatize your children?”“We aim to please,” Ian called over his shoulder as he led his wife out of the kitchen and toward the stairs.“Ugh,” Callie complained into the phone once her parents were gone. “Theyre totally gonna do it now. Hang on a sec, Ive gotta turn on thedishwasher to drown them out.”The family cat, Tuxedo, chose not to comment.
Upstairs, Callies younger sister Muffy was staring at the wall and wondering what she ought to do with her day. Then it struck her: eavesdrop onher sister!As it turned out, she didnt even need to try very hard. Callies friend, Sarah Pseudo, had stopped by for a visit. Muffy snuck around behind theporch and listened interestedly.
“Youre so totally wrong,” Callie said quickly. “Theres no way that “He is a Romance sim.”rumor is true.” “Still,” Callie pouted. “Its only been three days since I asked him“Im telling you, I heard it from a reliable source,” Sarah said. “Anne out.”Zomg told her sister Devi, who told Gabriella Newson, who toldIsaiah Gavigan, who told my brother Orlando, who told me. Anne “Oh... you only asked him out three days ago?” Sarah blushed.saw Monsoon Curtin making out with Elanor Traveller behind the “Well, he was making out with Elanor five days ago. So I guess hegym!” wasnt cheating at all.”“But Monsoon is my date for the Sadie Hawkins Dance,” Callie Any response Callie might have made to her slightly misleadingwailed. “I cant believe hed cheat on me!” friend was cut off by the sudden chill that filled the air.
“I guess this isnt entirely unexpected,” Rani Buccaneer said softly. “Rajah is gone... my beloved Pierce is gone...”“SO MANY PEOPLE,” the Grim Reaper nodded in agreement.“Tell me, Susanna, will I still be able to see my children from... wherever it is youre taking me?”“AS A MATTER OF FACT, I AM CURRENTLY OFFERING A DISCOUNT ON REMOTE DIMENSIONAL VIEWING DEVICES...”
Rani may have been happy to move on to the next life, reunited with her husband, her brother, and those of her friends who had predeceased her,but it wasnt very easy on the family she left behind.For the next several days, the Legacina family frequently found themselves bursting into tears unexpectedly. While Angora naturally took hermothers death the hardest, she wasnt alone in her grief.
“Im sure shes in a happier place, mom,” Callie said consolingly. “Where shes young again... and shes with grandpa... and--”
Callie stopped, unable to continue past the lump in her throat.“We all miss her,” Ian added, reaching over and squeezing Angies hand briefly before continuing to eat. He looked around. “Wheres Muffy?”
Callie wiped her eyes before answering. “She said she wasnt feeling very well and didnt want supper. I think she just wanted to cry where nobodycould see her.”Angora moved to get up, but Ian put a hand on her shoulder. “Ill go. You finish your dinner.”
By the time Muffys birthday rolled around a few days later, the family had come to terms with their grief. Besides, nobody wanted to shadowMuffys special day.“All right!” family friend Balthier Buccaneer cheered loudly as Muffy leaned over the birthday cake. “Great timing, Muffster--youll just be oldenough to go to the Sadie Hawkins Dance next week.”“Ooh,” Muffy grinned, eyes wide as she blew out the candles. “I cant wait! I wish--”
But, like all good legacy kids before her she didnt share her birthday wish, knowing that it wouldnt come true if she told anyone. Instead, she justran into the other room to get changed and fix her makeup.“This is fabulous,” she grinned, cheering at her reflection. “The boys of Pirate Island better watch out, cause Im all grown up and Im smokinhot.”To the discomfort of her somewhat overprotective father, Muffy chose Romance as her aspiration. Luckily for him, she has the somewhat tamelifetime want to be a Hall of Famer.
“What do you think, fishies?” Muffy asked her favourite of the family pets. “Am I gonna knock the socks off of all the boys at the dance?”The fish gurgled in response.
“Have you got a date for the Sadie Hawkins dance?” Muffy asked Balthier coyly, reaching forward to run one finger down his arm.Balthier blinked at her. “Muffster... gotta say, I like you but I dont like you.”
“Aww,” Muffy pouted. “Dont you think Im pretty, Balthier?”“Of course I do,” Balthier said, gulping a little. “But Muffy... youre my friend. And I have a girlfriend. And this is so not cool. You wanna mackon someone, please dont make it me. Im just going to shoot you down.”“Oh, fine,” Muffy said, pouting. “I guess I can deal with that. Puttin a big red X next to your name in the potential boyfriends column, I hope yourealize.”“You... do that,” Balthier said. And with that, he made his hasty exit.
“Muffy, now that youre nearly grown up Id like to give you some advice,” Ian said to his daughter.“Oh?” Muffy blinked. “What kind of advice?”“The advice-y kind,” Ian said. “Always be true to yourself. Dont let the expectations of others drive your life or how you live it. And know thatyoure a wonderful, gorgeous person and that your family loves you.”“Wow... pretty deep.”Ian smiled softly. “Ive had a lot of time to think about it. Just... I know its corny stuff, but dont forget it, okay?”Muffy grinned. “Promise.”
“So, what did you think of your first day of high school?” big sister Callie asked a few days later.“I think it was pretty great,” Muffy said happily, setting her homework down on the study floor. “There are a ton of cute boys at school.”“Honestly, is that all you ever think about?” Callie asked disgustedly.
“No,” Muffy said. “But its what people expect from a Romance sim, right? Im supposed to be boy crazy all the time, arent I?”Callie stared at her sister for a long moment. “Uh... no.”“What do you mean?”“I mean, theres gotta be more to you than just the chase,” Callie said. “Otherwise, no offense but youre a pretty boring person.”
Both girls sat down to do their homework before Muffy brought up the conversation again.“Well... Im sorry if Im boring, but Im not entirely sure what a Romance sim is supposed to do,” she muttered as she pondered a quadraticequation.“Your aspiration is secondary to who you are,” Callie said. “You dont make it own you. You own it, yknow? So you dont run around chasingboys because you figure thats what the expectation is. Instead, you just live your life... and do what you want to do. You dont need to make a bigproduction out of it.”
“I guess,” Muffy said doubtfully. “So... the boy crazy thing was getting a bit old?”“Just a little,” Callie chuckled. “You dont see me mooning around after bubble blowers all the time, do you?”“Nah, but you do moon around after Monsoon!”“Hey!”
“Not that theres anything wrong with that,” Muffy said quickly. “He is your boyfriend, after all... isnt he?”Callie shrugged. “Not yet, anyway. But hes my date for the dance and I really like him. So thats a start. Whether it goes any further than that...well, I dunno. Im not going to push it. Im just going to enjoy our date and hope hes up for a game or two of Red Hands.”“In other words, youre just going to be yourself and damn the consequences?”“Exactly.”*****
“Babysitting kinda sucks,” Persephone Biggs complained as she cast an eye towards her baby brother. “I have so many things I would rather bedoing right now.”“Like what?” her almost-twin brother Laertes asked, checking over his quadratic equation homework a second time. “Plotting the destruction oflife as we know it?”“Boom!” baby brother Horatio said gleefully, joining in the conversation.
“No, definitely not doom,” Persephone said, putting her homework down for a moment. “Its just that theres a lot going on these days and I get tomeddle with it... if I want. Horatio, get Ken out of your mouth. Hes just ucky plastic and not good for chewing.”“Im a monster!” Horatio crowed. “Roar!”“I thought you could only meddle with things when youre visiting your other grandparents?” Laertes pointed out.“Well, yeah, but Grandma Sarah said I could come over and visit whenever I want as long as it didnt interfere with my schoolwork. Andunfortunately, Ive got so much schoolwork these days that if I leave even for half a day, its going to meddle.”
Horatio stared from his brother to his sister as they argued over Persephones powers, responsibilities, and the fact that she couldnt just pick up andleave whenever she felt like it.“Music time,” he said, tossing the Ken doll and giggling as it bounced off of Laertes forehead. Horatio toddled into the rec room and sat downcontentedly at his xylophone.
The next morning, Ophelia Smith, mother of Horatio and Laertes, was serving breakfast. This was unusual because Ophelia wasnt generally one todo most of the cooking in the household. It was a chore she was more likely to leave for her husband or one of his uncles, though the number stillliving with them was getting fewer all the time.Once all of the food had been set out, Ophelia looked around the newly remodeled dining room in satisfaction before cupping her hands to hermouth. “All right, everyone! Come and get it!”
“Mm, this is great stuff, Opie,” her husband Toby said appreciatively a few minutes later.“It could be worse,” step-daughter Persephone said noncommittally. She and Ophelia had a rather guarded relationship.“Dont listen to my doofus of a sister,” Laertes said, eyes shooting dagger at Persephone. “She wouldnt know good cooking if it jumped up and bither on the a--”“Language,” Toby said in a stern voice. Then he turned to Persephone. “And you need to be a little nicer to your stepmother.”“But shes evil!” Persephone protested. Then she thought for a moment. “Oops. Actually, I am. Right. So thats why I cant be nice.”
“Evil is well and good,” Ophelia shrugged, “but if youve got a problem with my cooking... you can make breakfast tomorrow.”“The hard way,” Toby said quickly. “No deity powers, or I tell your grandmother.”Persephone stuck her lower lip out and pouted. “You guys are no fun. Just wait til I get my own universe controlly thingy. Youll all pay.”“You dont mean that,” Laertes scoffed. “Youd rather meddle in whatever your grandmother is up to.”Persephone grinned. “True! Can I go over there after school today? Grandma said she would pick me up any time I wanted to visit.”“Maybe in a couple of days,” Toby said. “Its Horatios birthday tonight and you need to babysit tomorrow.”“Aww... I need to learn how to be omnipresent.”
Persephone wasnt too upset, though, to be celebrating Horatios birthday with a big party that night. For one thing, the rec room had also beenremodeled and she was eager to hang out in the newly awesome room.“Wish for lots of mayhem and destruction!” she advised the birthday boy.“No... more girlfriends than you know what to do with,” Laertes chimed in.“Evil minions are always a good bet,” Tobys friend from work added. “Theyve never served me wrong.”“Yeah, I can get behind that,” Persephone agreed.
Like all wise birthday boys, Horatio kept his mouth shut regarding what hed wished for, though Persephone couldnt help but notice themischievous glint in his eye as he blew out the candles.Now that he was a little bigger, Horatios resemblance to his father Toby was even more pronounced. He was completely adorable, everyoneagreed. To his disgust he found his cheeks being pinched frequently as the night went on.
The party lasted until the wee hours, til even Toby and Ophelia were forced to admit defeat and go to sleep. They were barely cognizant of the lastof the guests bidding them farewell before letting himself out the back door.
As predicted, Persephone and Laertes found themselves babysitting their little brother the next afternoon. Now that he was older, though, they paida little less attention to exactly what mischief Horatio was getting to.“Whee!” the blond-haired boy crowed ecstatically. “Have you guys ever tried this? These new stairs are awesome!”“Horatio, dont--” Laertes began, looking up from the Dont Wake the Llama board. “Actually, that looks like fun.”
“It is seriously awesome,” Horatio breathed. “You gotta try it. Cmon, Perse! Your turn!”From upstairs, Persephones voice sounded. “Its not nearly as exciting as youre making it out to be. With my deific powers, I could float down thestairs if I wanted to. But I dont. Which is why Im not.”“Dont be such a wet blanket, Persephone,” Laertes smirked. He winked at his brother. “We both know you can only use your powers when yourgrandmother is around. You can talk big, but thats it. I bet youre just too scared to slide down the banister yourself.”
“I am not,” Persephone retorted as she slid gently down the stairs and hopped elegantly to the carpet below. “See?”“Sorry, we were paying attention to the game,” Horatio said. “Youll have to show us again after I kick your butt from here to China.”“As if either of you could beat me at that game,” Persephone muttered, walking over and sitting down opposite Horatio. “Umm... how do we playagain?”
“Well,” Horatio said, divvying up the straws between himself and his siblings, “in the official rules this isnt actually a competitive game. ButLaertes and I have got some preliminary rules worked out.”
“Yup,” Laertes said, picking up a handful of straws and arranging them quickly atop the llama. “This way is more challenging than the real game.For one thing, you start with a bit of a handicap because there are already some straws stacked up.”“So how does it turn into a competition?”“Basically, the goal is to not wake the llama, just like in the regular game. Only in this version, your opponents get to try to knock over your strawsas you place them.”
“These rules sound kind of like the sort people make up so they can mess with their sisters head kinda rules,” Persephone said dryly. “How aboutwe just play the regular way?”Horatio and Laertes exchanged a look, then shrugged. “Well, it was worth a try...”
“Yeah, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on your big sister,” Persephone said.“Uh huh,” Laertes smirked. “Youre the brightest, Perse.”“Shut up, Lert. I might not be all-knowing yet, but just you wait.”*****
Humming to himself, Spandrell Buccaneer carefully set the ingredients for his concoction out on the counter.
With measured quantities and much stirring, his creation was nearly ready. He carried it over to the stove and delicately began cooking.The birthday cake for his daughter Minerva was nearly ready.
Created: 04.13.2009 - Updated: 04.13.2009That night, the entire extended Deity-Buccaneer family was present at the festivities.“Is can be caek time soon plz?”“Hold your horses, Shere Khan,” Borusa said fondly to his brother-in-law. “Minerva has to blow out the candles first!” And, suiting actions towords, Borusa leaned forward, niece in arms, and helped the youngest member of the Buccaneer family pop into her toddler years.
With a sparkle of confetti she did just that!Minerva Deity is a Capricorn with a personality spread of 10/7/0/5/3.She immediately captured the hearts of those around her even more than she already had.
While Uncle Borusa and Daddy Hades oversaw getting Minerva changed into an outfit that wouldnt clash so much with her blue skintone, DaddySpandrell was busy popping into his next trimester of pregnancy.“I hope this ones a boy,” he murmured, rubbing his belly fondly.
Changed into her new outfit, Minerva was pronounced even more kissable than shed been before.To be quite honest, this picture is here simply to show off how adorable she is.
“Daddy, read me a tory!” the little girl said beguilingly as Hades walked past her towards the kitchen. “Pease?”Well, who could resist when asked so nicely?
Certainly not Hades. He disappeared into the living room for a moment to retrieve his favourite childhood tale from the bookcase.“This horseman hurtles in, and the hall enters;Riding to the high dais, recked he no danger;Not a greeting he gave as the guests he oerlooked,nor wasted his words, but Where is, he said,The captain of this crowd? Keenly I wishTo see that sire with sight, and to himself say my say. Er... of dooooom.”
“Minerva safely asleep?” Spandrell asked Hades a couple of nights later.“Like the dead,” Hades chuckled.“Ha.”“I try.”
That night, Hades was woken from a sound sleep by Spandrells frantic cries.“Baby coming! Now!”
It was all over very quickly, and before they even had time to react, really, Spandrell was cradling Zeus Buccaneer in his arms.The little boy had brown eyes and brown hair like his blue father. Only time would tell whether hed inherited any interesting features from hisalien father.
“Guess what, Minerva?” Hades cooed, tossing his daughter in the air.“What?”“Youre a big sister now!”“Whats dat?” the little girl queried.“That means theres a little tiny person who lives in the crib in daddy and daddys room who cries and poops all the time, and you have to help takecare of him and keep him safe because hes littler than you.”Minerva considered this. “Oh! Okay.”
Zeus was a rather fussier baby than Minerva had been, and oftentimes Spandrell and Hades found the only way to get him to sleep was to playmusic for hours upon end. Perhaps the child was destined to be a musician.At least the neighbors didnt seem to mind. Then again, the other residents of the apartment included a family of orphaned teenagers who kept evenstranger hours than Spandrell, Hades, and Borusa.
“So youll be here at seven? Awesome!” Borusa hung up the phone and got preparations underway for the next family birthday party.
It was Minervas turn to get a little bigger all over again, and her daddies and her uncle were dancing attendance on her as she leaned forward fromHades arms to blow out the candles.“Wheres Grandpa?” she asked sweetly before she took her deep breath.“Hes just dancing in the hallway,” Hades chuckled. “You can play with him in a few minutes, okay?”“Yeah!”
Minerva grew up into an adorable specimen of childish beauty.She spent the rest of her party getting acquainted with her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins--all of whom partied.
Because the apartment they all shared was so tiny, Minerva was pretty excited to get a bedroom all her own--even if it was just a remodeled closet.It was big enough for her bed and her toys (though they had to be kept on the shelf), and that was good enough.
“Do you want to throw another party tomorrow night?” Borusa asked as he cleaned up the remains of this nights celebration.Hades pondered for a few minutes.“How about we just celebrate with the four of us this time? I know Spandrell is always up for a party, but our place is really getting too small forgiant festive occasions. I expect major doom if we try to cram more people in here.”
“Okay, but next birthday were having a big party,” Spandrell was still insisting the next night as the family gathered round the kitchen to celebrateZeus entering his toddler years.“I like parties,” Minerva opined. “Theyre fun, and I get to stay up late with my cousins.”“Well, the next party is Zeus child birthday and thats not until next week,” Borusa said. “We can probably get the furniture rearranged in time forthat, dont you think?”“Yeah!” Minerva agreed. “Can we have cake now?”
With a spin, a twirl, and a burst of confetti, Zeus popped into his toddler years.“Time to play!” he announced. “Now?”Zeus is a Gemini, and very playful with a personality spread of 6/8/9/8/3.*****
“So what do you think about that, Arabella?” Ching Shih Buccaneer, generation six legacy heiress of A Piratical Legacy, asked her youngest child.“You have a cousin named Zeus, and hes just exactly the same age as you!”Arabella blinked wide grey eyes at her mother and gurgled in response.
“Well, maybe youll be more interested in a few years,” Shih chuckled, pulling Arabella into a tight embrace. “Youre a bit little yet to be caringabout such things as cousins, or people other than your mommy and daddy and grandpa and brothers.”
As the only girl in the family, and the youngest at that, Arabella was very much doted on by both of her siblings.Balthier even volunteered to babysit, eager for the extra time to play with his baby sister.
It wasnt long before he learned the cardinal rules of babies: do not bounce after feeding!
“I read on the internet that these kids in Paris invented some new rules for this game,” Kennit said, considering the Dont Wake the Llama boardcarefully.Jim folded his arms and fixed his younger son with a level stare. “Are these the kind of rules designed to trick your parents into giving you extraprivileges or getting you out of chores?”“Im offended by that insinuation,” Kennit grumbled, but he didnt bring up the alternate rules again.
“The games more fun when you are working cooperatively rather than competitively anyway,” Jim said, carefully placing a straw atop the pile.“Yeah, but competition is fun too,” Kennit declared. “I like trying to be the best or the fastest. Dont you?”
“Sometimes,” Jim said with a shrug. “Competition and cooperation teach you different kinds of skills, and they are both important.”“Even though youre a famous pool player now, daddy, you still sometimes sound like a schoolteacher,” Kennit grumbled.“And you dont like school?”
“I guess its okay,” Kennit said, placing a green straw precariously at the top of the pile on the llama. “I know I gotta learn stuff, but sometimes itsso boring.”“What part is boring?”“Every bit but recess.”“Thats just because youre an active kid, just like your mom, and you dont like sitting still,” Jim grinned. “Stick it out a few years longer, kiddo.Once you are at university you can set your course work and study only the things that interest you.”“Okay.” Kennit cocked his head for a moment. “Hey, is that Arabella crying?”“Ive got her!” Lee called down the hall, disappearing into the nursery.
“Whats wrong, Bella Bella?” Lee crooned, cradling the screaming infant in his arms. “Are you hungry?”“AAAAAAAHHHHHH!”“Nope, not hungry. Tired?”“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”
“Figures Id get stuck with diaper duty. Again.” Lees grumbles were only half-hearted, however. He honestly didnt mind even the less pleasantaspects of caring for his granddaughter if it meant he got to spend time with her and dote on her.
“Now, lets get you back to sleep,” he murmured, cradling the Arabella in his arms. “Hush little baby, dont say a word... Grandpas gonna buy youa mockingbird... and if that mockingbird dont sing, Grandpas gonna buy you a diamond ring...”
The familys happy existence was shattered by the sad departure of long-time family member Andrew Bigfoot. While hed largely retreated into hisbasement apartment after Gerties death, Andrew was still very much beloved by the family and they were all saddened by his passing.“I HAVE AN OPTION ON A BEACHFRONT TIMESHARE, IF YOU ARE INTERESTED.”“Andrew has difficulty getting sand out of his fur.”“YOU WILL FIND THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO BEING ETHEREAL.”
Life goes on, however, and the family realized that the best way to get over sadness was to celebrate the continuation of life.Lee got to do the honours and bring Arabella to the birthday cake while everybody looked on.“Gained a bit of weight, have you, Spandrell?” Ching Shih teased her younger brother lightly as they cheered on the birthday girl.“Havent lost it all since Zeus was born,” Spandrell shrugged. “All I did while pregnant with him was eat and eat and eat.”“That sounds like me with Kennit,” Shih said sympathetically. “It felt like I was eating for five, not two!”
Their conversation was interrupted by the explosion of confetti as Arabella poofed into possibly the cutest little toddler the legacy had ever seen.A Saggitarius with a personality of 24/8/9/3, her frequent requests for peek-a-boo had Arabella the life of the party in no time.
Lee, though, couldnt help but cry a few tears for Andrew even despite the happy occasion. Andrew had doted on two generations of legacy kidsand would have loved to have seen Arabella grow up just a little bit bigger.“Now Im the only one left,” Lee sighed to himself. “And I dont even know if I want to see my babies get bigger... or move on and see my lovelyGrace once more. Oh, Grace... I miss you.”
Ching Shih and Jim certainly did their part to make sure that the party was a roof raiser! Then again, they were king and queen of inappropriatepublic displays of affection.
“Do you think you guys could do that somewhere I cant see from the rec room?” Balthier asked in a disgusted voice. “Your bedroom, for one? Imean, seriously! Get. A. Room!” He paused for a moment. “You guys arent going to have another kid... are you?”Ching Shih and Jim came up for air just long enough to reply: “No!”
The days went by and Arabellas family set about making sure she knew all of the things she needed to learn as a toddler.“Come on, Bella Bella,” Shih said encouragingly. “Just two steps and youre here! You can do it!”She laughed ruefully as Arabella stared wide-eyed at her for a moment before stubbornly plopping back down on her bottom. “No!”
“Lets try again,” Ching Shih said, standing her daughter up once more. She left the little girl wobbling unsteadily in place and crept back a coupleof paces. “Now, come to mama.”“Why?” Arabella asked, scrunching her eyes shut and yawning. “Tired, mama!”“Too tired for a hug and a snuggle?” Shih asked with a smile.
“Not tired!” Arabella declared suddenly, opening her eyes wide. Hesitantly, she put one foot in front of the other. “This how I do it? I walkin?”“You did it!” Ching Shih crowed exultantly as her daughter toddled into her waiting arms. “Oh, Arabella... youre getting to be such a big girl!”“Still the baby,” Arabella insisted, sleepy once more now that she was getting the promised hug. “Gotta love me?”“Of course,” Ching Shih said happily. “My baby, Im your mama... Ill always love you.”“Yay!”
Arabella was a toddler on a mission. She could walk and she could talk, but it was her next skill she had in mind as she wobbled her way into theliving room.
What Arabella really wanted to do was learn how to dance!Plunking herself down in front of the stereo, she listened to the music for a moment before she started wiggling in time to it. She didnt know thewords, but she was having the best time of her young life.Jim walked into the room and saw his daughter boogying away. “Having fun, Bella Bella?” he asked with a grin.“Fun!” Arabella chirped in agreement.
Fun was something Arabella always made sure she had a lot of. After a while, her daddy turned off the stereo, murmuring something about notwanting to wake the neighbors. Taking that as her cue, she wandered back into the nursery, where her brother Kennit was happily building a towerout of blocks.“I play too?” she asked sweetly, sitting down across from him.“Sure,” Kennit said. “But dont knock over my tower, and dont eat the red ones! They dont taste like strawberry.” Young Kennit spoke with thevoice of experience.
Holding up a blue block, he continued. “The blue ones kinda taste like cheese, but thats because Balthier dropped pizza on them yesterday whenhe was cleaning up.”
“Balthier is silly,” Arabella declared as she picked up a green block. “Why he put pizza on the blocks?”“Well, it was an accident, or so he says,” Kennit shrugged. “I think he was just grumpy about having to help clean up instead of getting to phonehis girlfriend.”“Whatsa girlfriend?” Arabella asked.“Thats a girl that you kiss all the time,” Kennit said, wrinkling his nose.
“Like kisses,” Arabella giggled, putting down the green block and picking up a blue one. “Thinking about kisses makes Balthier drop pizza?” Shesniffed the block curiously. “Smells like cheese.”
“I told you so,” Kennit said. “Here, give that one to me and Ill get mom to wash them off. Probably its not very good to lick old pizza off ofblocks... so dont put it in your mouth!”“Yucky,” Arabella acknowledged. “Dont like old cheese.”
“You know,” Kennit said after hed put the offending blocks aside, “youre pretty smart for a little kid, Bella Bella.”“I listen,” Arabella said with a shrug. “How come you call me Bella Bella? My name is Arabella!”“The grown-ups do it,” Kennit said. “An so I just copied them. Dont you like being called Bella Bella?”“Arabella!” the girl insisted.Kennit grinned. “Okay, I can call you Arabella all the time if you want me to. Just thwap me with a red block if I forget.”
Lee sighed as he occupied himself with his game of billiards. The kids were at school, Jim and Shih were at work, and Arabella was down for hernap. Consequently, he was left to fend for himself with the pool table.As Lee lined up his next shot he pondered what he could expect over the next few days. Kennit had been pestering his parents to have a party ofsome sort so he could hang with his friends. Balthier had his Sadie Hawkins dance. And Arabella would grow up to childhood all too soon.
“I think Ill take the kids camping after the dance and Arabellas birthday,” Lee said to himself. “Zeus should be old enough to come with by thenas well, and it would be nice if all of my grandkids could get to know me before ... well, before.”That decided, a fair bit more spring came into his step and Lee bounced upstairs to shower and get dressed.
“So, everything still a go with you and Britt for the dance?” Orlando, who had come home with Balthier to work on a group project, asked.“Definitely,” Balthier grinned. “I was thinking about getting her one of those corsage thingies for her wrist. Do you think thats too over the top?”“Um, flowers?” Orlando smirked. “Balthier, dude, youre totally twitterpated. But chicks dig flowers, so shell be all over you if you do it. I say gofor it!”“She doesnt need to be all over me,” Balthier blinked. “Thats not why I want to do it.”“No, but its a nice bonus, right?”
“Hes right,” Gabriella Newson, also there to work on the project, smirked. “Flowers will definitely get you at least to second base.”“Im not trying to get something out of it,” Balthier protested. “I just want to make Brittany happy, you know? Youre friends with her, Gabriella...has she sounded excited about the dance at all?”“From the sound of things, shes got it as bad as you do,” Gabriella grinned. “Trust me, you wont even need the flowers if you want to get tosecond base.”
“Did you hear that?” Balthier asked Arabella a little while later. “Brittany really, really likes me!”“Shes your girlfriend,” Arabella said, wrinkling her nose. “Kennit says that means all you do is kiss each others mouths all the time.”Balthier blushed. “Thats not all we do,” he protested. “Sometimes we talk.”
“Talkings boring too,” Arabella declared. “Sing me a song, Balthier?”“How about Hickory Dickory Dock?” Balthier asked, settling Arabella down on the floor and sitting across from her.“Dont know that one,” Arabella said. “Teach?”
“Yeah, okay,” Balthier shrugged, glad he was no longer being interrogated by a three-year-old. “Sing along with me, okay, Bella Bella?”“Nuh-uh,” Arabella insisted. “You sing first.”“Fine,” Balthier shrugged. “No skin off my nose.”“You have no nose skin?”“Do you want me to sing the song or not?” Balthier complained.“Sing!” Arabella said gleefully. “I be good.”
“It goes like this,” Balthier said.“Hickory Dickory DockThe mouse ran up the clockThe clock struck oneThe mouse ran downHickory Dickory Dock!”“Thats silly!” Arabella said, making a delighted face. “Again!”“Okay, but only if you sing along this time,” Balthier said. “Ready? Hickory Dickory Dock...”
The sound of babyish laughter combined with Balthiers deeper adolescent voice and Kennits childish tones were a welcome refrain to theotherworldly visitor who stopped by the legacy manor that evening. Grace Buccaneer was haunting for the very first time since shed passed on andshe was happy to hear that love and laughter still reigned in the home shed once presided over.
Floating into the bathroom, she ran into a welcome face and couldnt help but startle him.“Grace!” Lee cried, breathing hard. “I... wasnt expecting to see you! Dont worry, darling... well be together again soon...”Grace smiled even wider, if that was possible. She also knew it wouldnt be long... and she couldnt wait.*****Well, thats it for this chapter! Stay tuned for Chapter 41, when we finally explore that strange beast: the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Also, Persephonegets a bit friskier, a power struggle begins, and an unexpected reunion takes place!