Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1.36 Not How People Think

Jet, now a teen and one day closer to being an adult in his own right, is feeling at peace more than anything. True, he knows that there's been some drama behind the scenes lately and everyone in his family seems worried about one thing or another, but he can't seem to muster any sort of excitement for the future other than to enjoy the moment of what is. It's an unusual feeling for him, he was always running behind his sister, fighting for attention with his little rebellions and wanting to get his parent's attention all to himself, but suddenly that seems like it was very long ago. His parents aren't going to change, only he can change. Maybe it's all the books that he's been reading, but he's ready to take life in stride. As more a marathon and less of a sprint. More on his terms than on anyone else's.

He looks around satisfied. Probably he feels so at peace right now because he's starting to realize his life is pretty awesome. He can do what he wants, be who he wants, and even reinvent who he is all starting now. He's finally grown into his room, embracing the solitude of it.

Jyoti and her father took off after the latest family party to get a bite to eat at a bar in town. They stay out late talking, laughing and discussing recent events. It reminds her of the night they spent so long ago exploring the graveyard by the light of the full moon. Her dad is always up for any adventure and she loves that about him. He became great, not because he aspired to it, but because he couldn't settle for anything less than his best effort, day in and day out. Even now after a long day, a set on stage, a family event, he still makes times to spend with her.

Instead of taking the limo home they to go for a jog in the moonlight. She hadn't promised Kevin that she would stop jogging by herself like he asked, but there was something chilly in the air that made her not want to be out alone nonetheless. Her father was more than willing to oblige her, maybe he sensed that sooner than he expects or wants she would grow up and these opportunities to spend time together would become less and less frequent.

A stray dalmatian wanders along next to them as they run for a while.

As if it can sense how much she would appreciate the companionship; that it would be a welcome traveler alongside them. As if it too, sensed something out here was different and didn't want to wander around alone.

Or, in a way that would be alarming if not arriving in such a cute polka-dotted package, as if it knew where they lived and were simply going back with them.

Oddly (and cutely) enough, the animal sees them home, the disappears as their house crests above the bend in the road.

It's quickly put out of mind after that.

They arrive home at an hour or two before dawn, exhausted and happy.

The best thing about Dustin and Jyo's relationship is that they understand each other without speaking many words.

So what if the first half of her teen years were boring and uneventful? She's making the most of it, and right now it feels like no greater happiness is possible. Family has that effect on her. That, and putting herself first. Without some kind of daily workout routine her good humor fades fast; this run was exactly what she needed after a long stressful evening.

Jet is up early for once. Not long after his sister's head hits the pillow he's energized and eating breakfast. He reads half a novel before the rest of the house stirs and the sound of trilling birds alerts to the warmth of an early autumn morning.

Jet is on time for the bus for his first day of high school. Jyo doesn't even have time to yell at him for lagging behind. She's somewhat disappointed she can't tease him about it.

An excitement bubbles up in his chest and he finds it hard to keep his enthusiasm clamped down under his usual facade of indifference. Nothing feels as exhilarating as this powerful kinetic energy harnessed thinly in the walls of a fresh start. He feels like a well tuned engine, waiting for someone to turn the key and ignite him. He doesn't know if he's excited to learn, or excited to be let out of the house for more hours everyday.

Why not both?

Meghan and Dustin take the morning off from work in order to spar a bit.

Despite Meghan cheating and wearing inappropriate clothes for this, her husband beats her cleanly, 0-3.

Not that he didn't appreciate the exercise, or the show.

Leila Greets her lesser human when the day is drawing to a close.

Jet comes home... disappointed.

Unsure of his place in school among the older kids, he found himself distracted instead of being able to put forth his best effort. Rebelling against the system isn't nearly as fun to do without his friends to be impressed by it, but this is where he begins to realize that there's something about the institution of school that is broken. Or at least, it doesn't entourage him to learn all that much. Not bad in science, and excelling at simlish and art, he finds himself with zero interest in any other subject, and putting zero effort into it. He's much more excited by after school events instead of any kind of formal learning.

After his earlier excitement, it's hard not to feel a bit depressed. He's got several more years of this.

Meghan senses her son is having trouble adjusting, and is there with an encouraging push forward. “Whether you like the other subjects or not, if you put effort into them, they will make all the difference in helping you succeed later.”

Since it's so rare to get direct attention from mom like this, he finds himself listening intently.“But what if, I already know what it is that I want to be?”

“Use what you're learning in the subjects you don't like and channel the energy from it into your writing, your artwork. Don't overlook any detail, okay? Never take your education for granted.”

Jet knows his mother's story, a very little amount of it. She was denied an education for years, and now her work in bioengineering has won her more than accolades and rewards; she has respect, and has made an impact with her efforts that will outlive her. It's hard not to take that seriously. He finds himself nodding slowly. If this lecture came from his father (whose job it is to play around all day coming up with new tricks for his act) the message might have missed him entirely. “Okay... I understand.”

“So you'll try?” Her voice is all delight and relief.

“I'll try... more.” He affirms.

And then Meghan heads back down to one of her favorite rooms in the lab to write up some research notes and take her own advice about working hard.

Jyoti stays after school one day to corner Darla about the excitement during her brother's birthday party. She and the fae girl don't really get along (Darla is a fairy who hates being outside, whereas Jyo loves it and both think the other to be more than a little bit weird) but curiosity is winning over comfort. “So, nothing was wrong after all that? Just a feeling, that you both had at the same time?”

“It wasn't something that had anything to do with you, so there's nothing to worry about.” Darla says shortly.
Jyoti is unable to get anything more out of her, and has to leave it at that. Kevin hasn't said anything else, so chances are it was just another reason to run around during a full moon. Reluctantly Jyo decides to let it go. Kevin is not so unkind a friend that he would allow some danger to be near her home or in his town without warning her about it.

Meghan uses the recent trip to China as an excuse to expand the underground laboratory.

It takes some maneuvering, but she is able to properly store her insect collection and samples. They are temperature controlled and separate from the rest of the family's collection of random junk and 'treasure'.

Stones she's found along the way are actually much less valuable as research projects, but she collects fresh samples to send to local universities for use in class projects.

She adds more DNA samples to the collection.

You never know when a clone of your kid may come in handy.

She thanks Jet for helping her out with a new sample, and tells him to start building up some skills, like they've been talking about.

“I have a new project I'm supposed to research... as long as you have a can of spray paint around I can practice for it.” He lies unconvincingly.

She lets him have his way, like she usually does. Besides, street art seems like a good alternative to becoming an actual gang member. It's still not at all the kind of 'skill building' she had in mind. That rebellious streak doesn't look to be growing out of him any time soon.

And then sets out to gather all the evening bugs she's missing. Wouldn't it be amazing if every creature had the ability to transform into something better, the way most beetles can become plasma bugs? These poor, lovelorn lightning bugs are in for a very long night.

In the middle of another warm night later that fall, Leila ages up to glorious doggy-adulthood.

And Dustin is immediately bonding with her, teaching her tricks. It would be awesome to have an animal in his act, but he didn't adopt Leila for his own amusement. She is Jyoti's dog.

The current lab situation.

Meghan and Dustin's room hasn't really changed since they were newly married (except for the picture of Eugene on the wall in his dashing hat which is still here)

The backyard is still extensive and relaxing.

The kids are allowed to take a day off for the sake of a local fair and everyone piles into the limo instead of on the school bus.

Leila gets (or takes) a spot of honor to guard Dustin as they travel. She knows well that a car ride is a gamble with fate. At times the store is the destination and treats and toys flow freely. Other times end with the smell of disinfectant and shots. Thankfully her humans bring her back home no matter what the trip was about, and she can count on a long nap after all the exertion.

Whatever fate waits for Dustin and the family, Leila will be there by their side. Even if she has to bite a doctor and several nurses on the ass.

I spot Leon by the side of the road as they drive by. He's a handyman now, one of the many jobs he has taken on to be able to support his family as it grows. Maria, now his wife, is to the left.

The family gets to the park and is immediately pelted by hail. This is going to be a great day.

Dustin doesn't pay any attention. His body is practically indestructible from all the intensive training he does to keep in shape for his work, and he's been in horrible weather more than once, working crowds late into the evening. There's a show on here and for once he gets to be a spectator.

He stops on the way to upgrade an umbrella for his wife in case the rain returns. She may as well also have it act as a safety light.

(If anybody remembers how long ago I posted this picture in the MTS thread then they will know how far the story is behind playtime. I was so excited that umbrellas could be upgraded. Nearly an actual year ago...)

Meghan can't help a little throw back to the days of running around unfamiliar towns and surviving on back yard gardens and grilled festival foods.

Leila, for her part, is just excited to be somewhere that isn't the vet or the store. The sights! The smells! The taste of this water right now. It all seems too good to be true.

Jyoti is also excited. Her brother seems to have become more open minded about activities and didn't even bring a book to the park today. He agrees to a game of catch to pass the time before the show starts.

Awesome. We're doing this glitch again (I'm sure it's just a debugging thing I'm not supposed to see, but still).

Dustin also is feeling nostalgic about the past and gets in on a hot dog eating contest.

The drive for victory is strong in him.

Jet quickly discovers what years of gym have already foreshadowed. He can't catch a ball, let alone throw it with any accuracy.

Not that Jyo cares. She's having fun.

Okay, this is getting a little too nostalgic. It's like the parents once again forgot they have had any kids.

Or pets to be responsible for.

And when Meghan runs off after what she feels is a rare species of insect and leaves the family behind at the fair...

Jyo finally gets that smooch she's wanted from doggo.

...after passing out because she forgot to eat all day.

Leila was laying near her when she got back up. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Thanks Leila.

Jet decides that a game of catch and conversation with some lady who wanted to discuss the weather was enough social interaction for the day.

He opens up to his dad later about a story idea though. Alien sightings. Maybe he could explore local lore and talk about the people who research unresolved cases? It would make for a great detective show if the people and scenarios in it were interesting enough.

There's also a painting he wants to compose. There's so many ideas running through his mind, he can't decide where to start.

Dustin can't decide if he should harp on the boy for not thinking about his schoolwork again. It's rare that they get to sit and talk like this, so he tries to patiently listen instead of stating the obvious. Besides, it's kind of cute when the kid gets going and just rants, usually he's quiet.

And he's pleasantly surprised when they end up having a decent conversation. Dustin is interested in the topic as well, and it's something people don't like to talk about in Starlight Shores; there is an unusually high number of reported sightings and even occasional abductions, but the locals don't want to talk about it for the sake of their image. Jet is brazen enough to write about this and depending on the way he broaches the subject it could really pay off for him in the long run. They stay out late, brainstorming, and Dustin gets a unique look into the way his son's mind works. Jet cares about the truth, and wants to share the way he sees the world with other people. He just doesn't know how to relate most of the time. Other people don't care about the same things he does.

“Your mom might be able to share some ideas with you. Apparently, there's more than one meteorologist that has reported strange sightings while collecting samples or even just researching existing meteor rocks. Maybe there are records you could access at the scientific library.”

Dad knows just what to say sometimes.

“But you have to do your homework first before you can go out there to research for your novels. If you don't learn discipline for things you don't like you won't be able to have it to complete the things you like and truly want to do.”

Jet grins. “I'm sure I can just plagiarize my papers for class, but sure I'll try to make time for it.”

He's promised this before. Dustin narrows his eyes. “If you can get your grades up to a B, I'll get you a car too.”

All pretense of rebellion vanishes. “Really? I'm not old enough to drive yet, but-”

“But you can pick out the make and model right now.” Dustin presses.

“Shoot. Okay, something Jet black, like my name, and something like a truck, not too big- but big enough that I can transport things if I need to gather supplies for large projects, and-”

“Okay deal. But there's a catch.”

Jet groans. Predictably his dad isn't that easy. “A catch?”

“B's for an entire semester. C+ or higher in math, just because I'm a great guy.”

“Done. I'll do it. Thank you so much!”

“Don't thank me. Earn it.”

“Okay, okay, deal- I'll earn it.”

Meanwhile Meghan has long since returned home with her precious new sample and stored it carefully.

And with nobody minding what she's up to, Jyoti invites Kevin out to a bar. She's not entirely sure they'll get in, but it's a secluded spot that is known to cater to any type of ...person.

“What's going on?” He asks immediately. This kind of thing isn't like her. She doesn't drink or party that he knows of, and this bar isn't the kind of place he wants his parents to find out he's frequenting. A glance at the crappy cars in the parking lot is enough evidence that this isn't the best part of town, either.

She looks over her shoulder. Nervous also, despite herself. “You haven't been around a lot lately. What is going on with you?”

“You invited me out here because you think I won't tell you at school.” He says. “Well, it seems like you have a question, so ask me.”

Jyo freezes. She wasn't expecting him to be direct. “Don't you want to go inside first?” She aims a thumb at the tavern behind them.

He shakes his head lightly. “Not really.”

“Okay... well I guess you know I'm worried. I mean, we did have simnational pretests last week, so of course you would be studying, but things have been quiet lately and well that's actually not what I wanted to ask about.”

“But you have something to ask me?”

“I think so.” She resists the urge to fiddle with something. There was time all last week to think about it already. “I mean, I'm curious about what happened at the birthday party but lately, I've been thinking. And don't take this the wrong way because I'm not saying we should, but why haven't we tried dating?”

Kevin doesn't smile often but he can't help it. “Do you think we need to be?”

“No.. I don't know. Is it weird that we're not? We spend a lot of time together. And people think we are.”

“You don't have anyone you like.” He repeats for her what she's always complaining about.

“Yeah... Kevin, I mean I like you and all, but not like how people think. Not in that way, I don't think? You're one of my oldest friends here, so I was wondering if you felt that way about me. Or, any way at all really.”

“Well I like you as a person, sure. I mean, you and I understand each other and that's great. But there's really nothing... I mean, what I want to say is...”

“We're out after curfew?” She teases.

He nods seriously. “That does bother me, yes. I promised my parents. But, why are you asking me about this in the first place?”

Jyo stops to think. “I don't know. I guess, I don't know what love is, or what it's like to want to be with someone, even though I want to be around you, I think it's not the same thing. But I feel like I'm being selfish, like what if you wanted to try dating and I didn't? Or what if, we're really meant to be together and we're just lying to ourselves?”

“How is someone meant to be?” He counters.

She tosses her hands in the air. “You know what, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I just wanted to make sure that I'm not like... stringing you along without knowing it, or something.”

He smiles a small smile. “I don't think you are. We have a lot in common, but we're different people. I'm happy as things are. You're my first human friend, did you know that? So it's not something I'd want to change. Not now, at least.”

“Okay,” She says with relief. “Thanks, sorry for being weird.”

He shrugs. “I expect it from you.”


And as Kevin is not the type to waste time, he heads right home after that.

Jyoti doesn't know if that went well or not. What if he thinks about it and changes his mind? Maybe she's thinking about it because she wishes she liked him that way. It would be easier, dating one of her best friends then having to worry about finding the right person later. She sighs. She doesn't have to date, but her life just feels lately like nothing in it is moving forward, despite the fact that this is her last year in school.

Well who knows, maybe this year will end better than it began.


The fairy wings sticking out of every vehicle crack me up a lot.

The kids were supposed to get a day off school to spend with the family, but they immediately got scolded for skipping when they got to the park and I had to unground them both before continuing. xP

She's too cute I can't even.