A Work in Progress

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The last bell thundered off through the concrete halls of Twinbrook's school, and with it a slew of children billowed away from classrooms with backpacks and books in tow. It was pretty impressive, how fast they all funneled out of the building; some stayed behind for extra-curricular activities, but as soon as they reached their destinations the school seemed a bit like a deserted outpost amidst the hustle and bustle of town.

Unfortunately, though, not everyone got their freedom as fast as they'd like.

"I'm here for detention, Mrs. Kane," Ian Pesce grumbled as he re-entered the classroom, his expression quite down-trodden. It was obvious this was the last place he wanted to be, but something about Mrs. Kane made him very wary of skipping out on his punishment.

"Take a seat, Ian," she responded lightly from behind her computer, the keyboard still tap-tappitying away. "I'll be finished in a moment."

When she finally shut down her computer and stood up from the desk, Ian got up from his as well. "So, am I writing lines? Like Bart from the Sim-sons?" he asked sarcastic.

Alesha smiled. "No, nothing like that. I'm pretty sure that sort of thing's not going to work on you. Today, we're actually going to try something a bit different: we're going on a field trip."

"A... field trip? For detention?"

"Well--sort of. I'd like to talk to you, but I'm pretty sure we're both sick and tired of sitting in this musty old school, right?" When he slowly began to nod, Alesha grinned and pointed towards the door. "C'mon, let's take a walk."

The first few minutes were a little awkward. Ian trailed a couple of steps behind his teacher, increasingly tempted to bail as much as he was increasingly curious why she was being so nice to him. Clearly, he'd done nothing to deserve it--and it really puzzled him.

Finally, as they rounded the bend next to Hogan's Diner, Alesha spoke up. "So... what's your deal?"


"Your attitude. I've been giving you all the chances I can, but you just don't seem to want to take any of them. You're obviously much smarter than you've been acting... So, what's the deal?"

"I... I dunno."

"Is there something bothering you about my lessons?"

"... No."

"Did Margo or anyone else do anything to provoke you?"

"Er... no."

"So... you're just being a big pain in the butt because you can?"

Ian stopped for a moment. Besides his siblings, no one had ever talked to him like that before. Certainly no adult ever had--much less a teacher. It caught him off-guard, but something in the tone of her voice sounded... different. She wasn't talking down to him--she was just being candid. "Well... I don't know. Sorta."

"Well, unfortunately, that's not a very good reason, Ian," Alesha sighed as they descended the steps down towards the beach. "You're going to have to give me better than that."

"There isn't better," he mumbled.

"Of course there is. Look, Ian. I've seen you doodling the answers to problems on the sides of your papers, I've noticed you getting antsy while I'm trying to teach the rest of the class. I can tell--you're bored. You're too smart for this class. I was thinking about discussing this with your parents, but I wanted to ask you, first--would you want to be bumped up a grade? Get some more challenging things to learn? I know it might be hard at first, but I think you'd--"


"Ian, if you stay in my class you'll be wasting a lot of potential that--"

"Potential?!" For the first time, Ian whirled around and actually made eye contact with her. "Why, so I can be even more out of place than I already am? I'd skip the baby stuff and move onto multiplication tables and fatter books so what, I can still be three steps behind my brother and sister?"

"Ian, calm down, I didn't mean to--"

"No! I'm sick of it! You wanna know why I'm so mean to everyone? Because it's the only thing I'm the best at! Ethan's soooo smart and soooo talented at everything he does--and Sophie's sooo popular and sooo good at sports. But me? I'm nobody. And I'm tired of being ignored. It's my turn to be special! I don't care how!"

Alesha scowled. For a moment, she considered comforting him--but she knew that would get him nowhere. She highly doubted that Moe and Jane were ignoring their child as much as he claimed they were--but whatever approach they were taking clearly wasn't working... so it was time for something a bit different.

"So what, you're going to give up on everything else because you might not be quite as good as someone else? Do you realize how stupid that sounds?" Alesha snorted in disappointment. "Giving up on something you enjoy because you aren't 'the best' is a really, really cowardly thing to do, Ian. I thought you were above that."

"Well... I'm not," he responded, forlorn.

At this point, Alesha was actually starting to get frustrated. "So, this is why you pick on Margo over everyone else? Because you're so low you have to bring down someone who actually has to work really hard for what they have?"

"No--no," Ian responded, quickly. His ashamed, guilty expression quickly evaporated the moment Margo entered the conversation--he even turned back around to face Alesha, again. "I mean, not really. It's... complicated."

"Oh, I have time," Alesha scoffed, entering Over-Protective Mother Mode.

"It's just... Margo's different. Like me. Kinda... weird, and not really good at anything." Ian frowned as he shoved his shoe-tip deeper and deeper into the sand. "But if even she makes friends, and I can't... then that'll show how even more I suck at everything. So I... just... don't really want her to make friends, I guess."

"Ian," Alesha began to ask with a bit of a smile on her lips. "Did it ever occur to you that if you made friends with Margo, then you'd both have someone?"

"I--uh--er..." Ian froze. Oh snap. "I... guess not... But--I dunno. Margo would never like me--"

"--Because you're mean to her--"

"--and we don't really have anything in common--"

"You've already said something big you both have in common, Ian--you both are a bit different than everyone else. Maybe in unique ways, but honestly, good friends don't have to have a lot alike. Between the two of you, you could learn a lot from each other."

"Yeah, but it's kinda too late now--she hates me," Ian shrugged.

"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that, actually. She's really nervous around you, is all." For good reason. "If you apologized... you never know. Margo's a very sweet girl who would give anyone a chance if they asked for it--and if you gave her a chance... I think she might actually like you."

"You really think so?" His voice was edged with disbelief, but there was a bit of light in his eyes when he asked.

"Yeah. I do."

After a few more moments of silence, the two plopped down onto the sand and began flipping rocks into the water; it was a strange activity, for student and teacher, but after their conversation a level of understanding had fallen between them. Suddenly being on the same page had increased their respect for one another. Even Ian didn't feel so bad about having detention, anymore.

"So,  everything you do is because you're really just jealous of Margo?" Alesha finally asked, a quizzical brow raised.

Ian shrugged. "Well... kinna. It's pretty fun to see how fast I can get her to cry, sometimes, too."

"Ian," Alesha gasped, sending him a potentially lethal glare. "That's horrible."

He giggled and tossed another rock in the water, listening to the splash with a satisfied, cock-eyed smile across his face. "Yeah, but at least I'm good at it."

"How's that last batch coming, Tom?" Lamont called across the room as he looked up from his beaker. "I've just finished dissolving the next solution of tiberimate for you."

"It's alright, if you want to give everyone cancer before you cure their bloodlust. The ratio of tiberium is still a bit too high--the rate of mutation on these samples is growing faster than that ridiculous puff on your head."

"Heeeyyy, I can take a hint! No dissing the hair, either--if my wife hears about it, she'll come after you, dude."

"Dude, my wife could so take your wife."

"Yeah, not after all the--"

On the other side of the room, Bradley was trying his best to ignore the younger men's immature bantering. He'd finished calibrating the settings on the latest model of the tiberimate infusion device; it left Brad with a little bit of free time to check up and see how everyone else was doing...

... and get on their nerves. "That figure is unacceptable," Bradley grumbled over Moe's shoulder, glowering fiercely at the computer screen. "If we have to give a patient several infusions over that period of time for them to be cured, my sister will be stuck in prison until my daughter is old enough to drive a stick shift. You need to find a dispersion scenario that allows us to get it done all at once.

"Excuse me?" Moe stopped what he was doing, and gently rolled himself away from the computer to face Brad. "Do you have a degree in neurology?"

"No, but--"

"I know you want your sister cured, but it won't be much good if we fry her brain in the process. Even if a single infusion model could be done safely, it's entirely possible it could revert her entire brain chemistry to how it was right before she was bitten. Do you honestly want to rob Amelia of several years of her life? Her relationship with Naomi? And that's if it didn't turn her into a vegetable."

Bradley scowled. He didn't want to admit it, but Moe was right; Amelia would rather stay in prison for the rest of her life than lose that. "Fine. But try to get the time frame to something less ridiculous."

Bradley turned rapidly to go inspect what the other two were probably messing up, which nearly caused him to thunk right into Lamont. The look on his face was tainted with worry; Lamont was usually a very easy-going person, but the past few days he'd been quite tense around his Boss. In fact, everyone had.

"Brad... are you sure you're okay? I know the doctors told you you were fine but you just... seem a little off, since the accident."

"I'm fine, Lamont. They did a full body scan and a full blood work-up--besides a little fever from this bug I caught from Margo, I'm just peachy."

"You just... don't seem it, ya know? In fact, you look quite... not peachy. Like, super pale."

"Lamont. I. Am. Fine. Could you please stop worrying and get back to work?!"

"No, Brad, I think Lamont has a point." Moe had come up from behind him, also taking a rather strong interest in Brad's appearance. "You're looking quite a bit off color. The bags under your eyes, the fever--you really need to sleep. This flu's going to murder you if you don't get some rest."

"I am just fine, Moe. Can you please leave me al--"

"Moe is right, Brad--you should really get some rest, you've been down here non-stop for days... Don't worry--we can handle things without you for a while."

That did it.

"Handle things without me for a while? Are you serious, Lamont?! You can barely function with me here, correcting your every mistake! You all are useless! I don't know why I even asked for your help in the first place--I may as well do this with one brain hemisphere tied behind my back!"

"Brad, don't you think you're being a little--" Moe began, but he'd never get to finish.

"OUT! All of you! OUT! This is my property--I'll call the police if I have to. And don't you dare come crawling back until you get some bloody sense into your heads!"

"He's the one that needs the 'bloody sense'," was mumbled under Thomas's breath as the three men slowly began to vacate the room. They each continued to mutter things to each other, looking over their shoulders at Bradley in some last hope that his breakdown was all some sort of sick joke.

"I can hear you," Bradley growled, not even turning to watch them go. "Don't make me tell you again. Get. Out."

Several minutes after Bradley heard the rumble of their cars leaving the driveway, a sort of peace began to settle over the small laboratory. Everything seemed a little bit clearer; he knew he'd overreacted, but Brad was still quite certain that he'd made the right decision asking them to leave. They weren't taking this as seriously as they should. Mistakes left and right, weeks of progress wasted following their convoluted ideas... Time that his sister had to sit and stare at a set of bars fit for an animal at the zoo.

As Bradley passed by a nearby mirror, though, he couldn't help but stop and examine his complexion. He did look a little off... but he didn't feel it. He'd never felt more energetic in his entire life--in fact, he hadn't even needed to sleep the past few nights, he felt so invigorated.

Besides: it was time he didn't have to spare. He had work to do.

Even though Alesha loved being a teacher, this part of her job was incredibly tedious. Check paper, click name, enter grade.

Luckily enough, she was able to do this all from home. Her little 'detour' with Ian had proven to be fairly productive--although probably the first of many detentions to try and talk some sense into him--but it had left her with a stack of grading to do far later into the evening than she'd planned.

"Verionica Grant... done. James Hale... done. Kenzie Howell... done."

"Wait--what?" Alesha stared at the screen in disbelief. That couldn't be right. She flipped through the papers on her left; sure enough, what she was looking for wasn't there.

And it wasn't the only one.

"Pixie, look up! We're approachin' the Planet Immadabbubble! Change the heading to 25 dash 74 dash 10, and switch to ippulse engines! Better buckle up, it's gonna get bumpy in their apposphere!"

"Kathunk-kathunk-kathunk--Pixie, prepare the shubble craft! We're heading down to the planet surface! Brrrrrrrrrr, whirrrrrrrrrrrrr, kashhhhhhhh!"

"Margo, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you."

"I think I see some sort of cotton based vebetation, the lack of trees suggests a pethera of ubbivores--oh look, Pixie, I think I've spotted exxatestrials! Over there, in the distance!"


"I think it's trying to communicate! Switch to universal transmation mode!"

"Margo! NOW."

"Awwwww, man, and we just discovered a new planet," Margo said, defeated by Alesha's Mother Voice.

"You can come back to it later, sweetie. I'm sorry, but this is important."

Margo had already figured that out, though; the expression on her face had fallen to one of pure dread, which made Alesha pretty sure that she knew what was coming. "O..o...okay."

"Margo... why haven't you been turning in any of your assignments? There's a few from the first week of school, but everything else--did you forget to hand them in?"

"... No," she mumbled, scuffing the ground with her shoe. "I tried to do 'em... I just didn't understand."

"Aw honey, why didn't you say something? Why don't you go get your homework and show me what you don't get, okay? Asking for help isn't anything to be ashamed of."

"Okaayy...." Margo tucked Pixie away and stumbled off to get her homework, but clearly, she didn't really believe a word her mother said.

"Alright, so, this question here about the story we read in class--why do you think Mr. Elderson didn't like having children run across his lawn?"

"'Cause his lawn was the only thing he had to take care of."

"Good--now what about number two--why did Mr. Elderson warm up to Tilly over the other children?"

"She brought him seeds for his favorite flowers to plant in his garden."

"Great! See honey, this isn't that hard! You're doing fine!"

"Now, what about the next one?"

Margo lifted to paper closer to her eyes, bit her lower lip, and stared at the question for several seconds. "Uh... I. I dunno."

"Margo, what's wrong?"

"I don't get it." She looked away sheepishly.

"Well... read it off to me."

Margo froze, unable to look at her mother. "I can't."

"Margo, honey..." Alesha sighed. She was afraid this would happen; Brad had had glasses since he was very young, so there was always a high likelihood that either of their girls would need them as well. "Why didn't you tell me you were having trouble seeing things?"

But the response Alesha got was not what she expected. "I'm not. I can see everythin' ok."

"Then... what's the problem, dear?"

"I... dunno. I look at the words, and they just... don't look right. When you read it it makes sense,  but when I try to it's like the letters get all rearranged on me. I think the words are tryin' to hide from me, mummy."

Alesha sat in silence for a moment. Guilt washed over her, with the sudden realization that all this time, she'd coddled Margo so much that this had slipped under their noses completely unnoticed. At the same time, though, a pit began to form in her stomach: this wasn't something a trip to the eye doctor could fix.

"Mummy...are you okay?"

Alesha blinked, then nodded slowly. "Yes, dear. I'm okay."

And then, the question she dreaded the most. "... Is something wrong with me?"

"No,  honey," Alesha said firmly, carefully resting her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "You are perfect."


Mary Mary,  October 10, 2011 at 9:43 PM  

Alesha is such a good mom and teacher. But even good moms miss things right under our noses. Alesha tries so hard to give to everyone and do for everyone. And it looks like there might be more on her plate soon *looks at Brad*. I'm looking at Brad and I hear, "Something wicked this way came..." Whatever is going on is not going to be shiny candy apple news.

I love seeing the kids. Maybe I'll see one my little rugrats in a scene. :D I'mma looking!

P.S. I never really noticed Moe Pesce in game. I think I'm starting to have a little pixel crush on him. "Hey pretty thing, how about you take a shower...a long shower?" Okay, it's a lust crush but, dude, it's MOE!

Tender Wolf,  October 11, 2011 at 10:50 AM  

Oh, so that's what's going on with Ian! I didn't expect that to be the case, but hopefully it gets resolved. Also, the Sim-sons was very clever! :D I wonder what's going on with Brad. Something tells me that tiberium stuff changed him in some way. I'd laugh if he turned into a werewolf while trying to find a cure for his vampire sister. :D Yikes, maybe he'll turn into a mindless zombie! Nooooo! I wonder what's going on with Margo as well. It sounded like dyslexia, if the letters get mixed up on her, but somehow that doesn't seem to be it. Alesha is worried about it for sure, but if it's dyslexia, why would she feel guilty? Meh, I don't know, but I can't wait to find out! Hope everyone will be okay!

Kaleeko,  October 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM  

Aww! <333

Yah, Margo is just... insanely unlucky, in life. I think I may throw her that trait instead of loser, because really... just everything goes wrong for her. What makes her so sweet is her ability to still be happy at the end of the day, though!

Eeexactly! The only way to get through to Ian is to stop seeing him as a kid. He's a lot "older" than most kids his age--just very misunderstood.

Hehehe, glad you liked the scientific jargon! I know it's wholly ridiculous at times, but it's fun to write. ;D

Thank you so much, sweetie! *tacklesmooch~!*

Kaleeko,  October 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM  

Ahahahaa--he's afraid of Alesha because she's the only one who sees through him! He's totally vulnerable around her. S'what happens when good meets evil, bwa ha ha. >:] And ya... I know they probably can't take them off campus, but hey--Alesha's a klepto, so she's used to taking things she's not supposed to have! LOL

You hit the nail on the head with Ian, there--honestly, he's basically like a tumbleweed... one small thing set him in motion, and it's just compiling and compiling until there's no return to grace for him. It's not his fault his siblings are so awesome, though! ;D I'm glad you think he and Alesha are cute together, tho--I am having way too much fun with their wacky friendship. :D

LOL, Moe/Brad Bromance. Yah... They are hilarious together! (Dr. Jekyll? Hmmm.. *strokes chin, looks evil* Hehe)

And yeah, I know *exactly* what yuo mean. They didn't catch my brother's dyslexia until he was almost in high school, and it set him behind a LOT. :(

Thank you, darling!!! *squeeeeze* ♥

Kaleeko,  October 13, 2011 at 5:10 PM  

Hehehe, that's Alesha for ya! She has a must-fix-everything complex... She's drawn to people with issues because she always feels like she can help them. But, hard to say if she'll get through to Ian, at this point.

Yeah, there's deeefinitely something going on with Brad... but my lips are sealed for now! >:D You're on the right track, though!

:( Yeah, and Margo's stories are the things she loves the most, so not reading is very very hard for her... But yeah, her mom finally catching it is a really good thing. I know what can happen if it's not. :(

Thanks for the comment, dear! ♥

Kaleeko,  October 13, 2011 at 5:18 PM  

Chrysaaaaaaaaaaaammeee!!! *kermitflail* <333333!! lol when you first posted this comment I thought it might be you!

Aw yeah, exactly. :( Unfortunately, try as she might, Alesha can't juggle everything at once--she's trying to be a good *everything* right now... and you're right, her plate can only handle so much. *eyes Brad, too*

Awww, I love the kids, too! And actually, you may see some of your kids soon! Margo stayed the night over at Kenzie's the other day and I believe Wren showed up and started getting very mean towards Margo... So, I think someone just volunteered for a part I needed filled upcoming in the story! >:]

AHAHAHAHA!!! Oh man, I gotta make sure Amelia hears about that. ;D Moe is definitely... very attractive. o_o If any EA sim is deserving of a pixel crush... mrowr! ^-^

Great hearing from you sweetie, hope all IRL on your end is going well! I think about you every time I run into Marta in my game--always gives me the biggest warm fuzzies. Take care!!! ♥♥

Kaleeko,  October 13, 2011 at 5:22 PM  

Hey T-Dog! *ahem* T-*Wolf*! lol ^-^

Yeah, Ian's issues are a bit more complex than meets the eye... buuut he's not quite off the hook yet!

*snickers* Oh man, that WOULD be funny, wouldn't it? A werewolf trying to cure a vampire--lulz. ;D But as for what is happening to him... you'll see! >:]

It is dyslexia, actually--Alesha just feels guilty because she should have seen the signs earlier. She's never actually seen Margo read anything, for instance--she always asks to be read to. Unfortunately, Alesha's just got a HUGE guilt complex and thinks that everything is her fault. XD She cares about everyone too much, sometimes!

Thanks for the comment, TW! <333 I may actually get around to getting caught up on your stories tonight--I am reallyreallyreally hoping. I could use a good Kenzie mystery, right now!

*big smooches~!*

Kaleeko,  October 14, 2011 at 1:06 AM  

Oh and thank you for the gift, you sweet thing you!! What am I gonna do with you?!? *flail hug*

Rose Mtjr,  October 14, 2011 at 8:31 AM  

if Brad met Alex (a scientist somewhere), he would probably have known that's not good keeping that tiberium in the laboratory especially in the basement. It had caused radiation effect in some other place before. Maybe he should take life fruit to cure "the cancer"? Hmmm.. fever in nights are certainly not good.

I really feel for Margo though.

Althea quin,  October 18, 2011 at 12:33 PM  

Dun Dun Dun for Brad and T__T for poor Margo. So many things started in this one that just lead on from the last. As always you have me loving every minute and 'Desperate' for more

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