The Weak Link

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An aire of intensity hung in the kitchen as Jebidiah and Meredith ate breakfast the next morning. Where Meredith's mind was clouded with questions of where Jebidiah disappeared to the night before, Jebidiah's could not stop buzzing with concerns over Mimi's reaction to what Tana had told him.

Everything remained silent until the two children awoke; a loud giggling at first from Bradley, always first to arise, and then an annoyed screech from Travis, unhappy about being cooped up in his crib for so long. Their parents knew it was about time to purchase some furniture for the empty room that was to be Travis's as soon as his Age Up day came, but since no one was talking... It was a matter for later.

As soon as Jebidiah was out the door to the gym, Meredith had to get busy with the children. As much as she delighted in the fact that she got to sit around all day playing with children's toys, a large part of her still wished that she could follow Jeb and tail him, to try and figure out if he was actually going where he said he was. But, with her arms full at home, she contented herself with Travis and Bradley, cringing when she overheard Travis mumbling about anything he overheard from his father.

At least she had plans for that evening that would hopefully keep her mind off things: first, a 'dinner date' with her sister, and then they'd finally finish setting up the boy's room, since Travis would be aging up any day now.

Jebidiah's day still had yet to begin. Yes, he went to the gym as he'd said -- it really is where he always goes -- and then he began to head over to the martial arts academy, where he taught lessons. Today was different, though. Instead of lessons, it was going to be a 'show' day; Jebidiah would spend a few hours displaying his incredible karate skills to the public, supposedly as advertisement for the school...

But in reality, it was just a cover for why several Company members would be looming around the Academy that day. The few associates that were working on the "Strummer Home Project" needed to sort out the kinks of the strange information and picture leaks popping up for the police, and the Leader made it quite clear that they were not to do it on the Company's time. So, Jebidiah, Mimi, Tana, and two more of their cronies -- Cody Chisholm and Tameka Polanco -- arrived at the Academy in order to discuss the matter. Cody even arrived in disguise. (Notice the horribly dressed woman in the picture above? That's Cody.)

But even before Jebidiah could finish up his "show", Mimi decided that it was time to confront Tana about her accusations.

Now, Mimi Brown was a rather prime suspect for where the leaks originated. She had not been outright accused, as of yet, but there had been rumors floating around the company that Mimi's heart was not in crime. Perhaps this was true; Mimi was not the best of criminals, and in fact, of all members of the Company, she had gotten caught the most... But she had always managed to get off the hook. Some referred to her as the Luckiest Crook, but others -- especially Tana -- had remained suspicious. Was she spilling the beans in order to stay out of jail?

Well, the obvious dislike between Tana and Mimi did not take long to surface; first, the public pointing of fingers, and then the all-out brawl... Lucky for them, there were few people around to see.

And, despite Mimi's "lucky" nature, Tana ended up kicking her butt, and slamming her dignity in the trash.

None too happy about this, Mimi waited until Jebidiah was finished with his block-breaking display, and then told him what happened. Sort of.

"She's a bloody rotten liar, Jeb! Saying that I'm a traitor, when she's the one working for the cops! She's got it in for me, I tell you... I don't know how much longer I can put up with your little friend telling me what to do, either. She's gotta go, Jeb. She's risking this whole operation!"

Well, naturally, Jebidiah wasn't going to give up his best source in the department, but the amount of suspicion and finger pointing was beginning to nag on the thief's mind. He agreed to talk to Tana, and try to resolve this so they could all sit down like decent human beings and solve this leak problem of theirs.

But unfortunately, confronting Tana was not the best idea. "I can't put up with this," she loudly exclaimed at her brother-in-law. "The meetings off. We're going to have to figure this all out on our own, because all this is going to result in is aimless finger pointing." It was already well through, anyways... Cody had already left due to boredom waiting, and Tameka had never bothered to show up. The list of people he felt he could trust was growing thinner and thinner... Who was the leak?

Later that evening, Meredith and Tana sat down to dinner at the neighborhood Bistro, but things were not noticeably more social than breakfast that morning. Tana's mind was still clogged with thoughts about those suspicious photographs that had given the police department too many ideas -- luckily they were too blurry to make too much of a difference... but the fact that they existed at all was worrisome. And now, Meredith was troubled. She'd asked her sister to dinner in order to lighten her own load, but neither seemed in the mood to chat.

Some saving grace appeared after silent meal: Simon Shallow. He'd been a Kane himself, once -- he was Farah's cousin -- but was still known affectionately as Jebidiah's "uncle". His appearance sparked Meredith, and she instantly latched onto him for some actual conversation.

"Travis's birthday is approaching," she told him eagerly. "And we've decided to hold him a party again... He's a bit too young to have friends, though, so we're just going to be inviting family again. I'd love it if you brought your husband, as well... I don't think I've met him, yet."

Suddenly, though, Tana froze -- she recognized Simon. He was no one, really, in particular; he'd been a great business tycoon, back in the day, but it wasn't actually him that worried her.

"Oh, yes, I'm sure Dallas would love to come."

Things finally got a bit less tense at that point -- Simon sure has a way to brighten anyone's day -- and eventually, as he walked away to begin heading home, Tana gave her sister a hug. "I'm sorry I was such a downer, today, I just had a really rough day at work... But I suppose I'll see you again soon at this party."

Tana counted on it.


Covering Leaks

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oh, suspicion... It only takes one seed, one victim, before a whole ecosystem is suddenly in turmoil. All it took was one shred of midtrust, and the entire family had fallen ill of the disease of doubt. But while lies had lead each person to become anxious of something different, they all were aimed at the same target: Jebidiah.

Farah had become concerned of her son's ability to remain prosperous and uphold the family name; Meredith was concerned whether he was going to end up in jail, or corrupt their children; and Tana... Well, her's had become more complicated than it started out initially.

On an impulse from her sister's spoken concerns, Tana bought a house just across the street from the Kane's; they had planned on upgrading from their condo eventually, but the location was ideal for their situation, she thought. Jebidiah needed to have a close eye on him, and Tana wasn't going to be able to do that from across town.

As Meredith had said -- while it was actually a white lie -- Tana was now becoming curious about Jebidiah's integrity as a husband. Perhaps Tana was not exactly the most noble of persons herself, also carrying the Evil trait, but she wanted better for her little sister... But she had been unable to talk her out of it in the beginning, back when they first started dating. Tana could even remember stopping by Jeb's house, years and years ago, to give him a very serious threat that if he ever hurt her sister... Well. You can guess so much as what came after that.

But now that Meredith and Jebidiah were married, it was her job -- at least, she felt -- to make sure that her equally-evil brother in law was keeping to her vows... And now she had reason to believe otherwise.

In fact, at their first invitation over for dinner, Tana found out just how faithful Jebidiah was willing to be.

But seeds of doubt grow into plants of suspicion, and that plant never stops growing: Tana was beginning to wonder if Meredith wasn't the only thing Jebidiah was being unfaithful to. How loyal was he to the Company, really? And even if he was... If he was caught, did she know how loyal he might be to her, and keep her own criminal activity a secret?

"No... No, if he's faithful to anything, he's faithful to the Company." But that led Tana into a connundrum. Things were getting leaked more than usual, lately... She'd heard information at the police department that the cops weren't supposed to know about. If it wasn't Jeb, who was it?

That wasn't the only thing on her mind now, though.

Things were about to get really testy for Tana, now -- she was pregnant again, which meant less time at the department... Which meant one less person covering up the evidence for the Company.

Even if Tana wasn't particularly excited about having another baby, though, Meredith was happy for her.

The leak was still weighing heavily on Tana's mind, though. Who? Maybe Jebidiah was right... Maybe Meredith was more suspicious lately. There was only one way to find out; in order to put things straight, she decided to give a little bit of an interrogation...

But Tana underestimated Meredith's ability to play dumb.


Was it Meredith that had leaked the information? Was it Jebidiah? Or was it someone else that Tana trusted, waiting to reveal themselves...?

Well, Bradley's first birthday came quickly. As usual, the family was gathered for a small celebration. A few friends, too -- Jeb's old friend Chandra, of course, and Trista, even if she and Jebidiah still were not on speaking terms.

The party went rather smoothly, but as most of the girls stayed outside chatting and playing in the sprinklers, Jebidiah retreated indoors with Bradley, finding Chandra sitting inside watching TV.

"I guess I wasn't the only one who needed to escape," he mused. They talked... Gossiped... But did Jebidiah say too much?

However, things began to cool down over the next few weeks. Meredith, her hands full with two toddler boys, was no longer as concerned about Jebidiah's secret job as she was before; live and let live, she had decided. He still made her happy, and for right now, that was all that mattered.

That, and making sure those boys were raised proper. Aww, aren't they so cute.

But where Meredith's doubts had began to subside, Tana still had lingering concerns. If the leak wasn't Meredith, and it wasn't Jebidiah... Well, there was a whole Company to investigate, and if anyone could find out who it was, it was Tana. But with rumors running rampant and names being brought into question, Tana had to approach Jeb with an ultimatum.

 "Things are getting testy at the station... I can keep covering for you guys, but with my own toes on the line... I'm gonna need more." You know, green paper things. Simoleonies.

"That's not a problem," Jebidiah admitted easily. Even though they still hadn't taken care of the 'Big Job' yet -- with all these rumors running amok, it was dangerous to waltz into something that risky -- the monopoly that the Company had on crime in Riverview meant that money was never in short supply.

"Alright, then I need for you to make sure you give me a solid alibi... It better be good."

Tana was able to walk away a little bit more easy-minded, but now Jebidiah's concern had been heightened. Not sure what to do, he grabbed his phone, made a call, and then disappeared out the door and into the night.

On the other side of town, two cars pulled up to the Riverside Park. It was deserted, except for the two people emerging from their vehicles, and converging next to a park bench. It was almost too dark to see, but this was good... Nobody was supposed to see, or hear.

"There's been some drama stirrin' up, Mimi," Jebidiah wheezed anxiously to his fellow criminal, the very woman who had recruited him all that time ago. "Tana's not sure what's going on, but there's been a leak at the company. She's asking for more, in order to keep us under wraps..." "Do you think anything's been leaked about the jewel?" Mimi asked, still looking around to ensure they were alone.

"Apparently there's been some pictures floating around that might expose some Associates," he said, a disgusted tone in his voice.

"Well, if Tana's starting to have second thoughts..." the dark-skinned woman contemplated, pursing her lips together. "I best have a chat with our little Cop friend."


The Seed of Doubt

No matter how much you think you know someone, it never ceases to amaze how it can only take an instant for perspectives to be life-alteringly changed. One lie can destroy a marriage, an entire family... But Meredith Kane wasn't going to let that happen.

It takes a strong person to confront the person they love about a dirty secret that they've just discovered -- but it takes an even stronger one to willingly stow it away and vow to not let it affect their future. Though to the outside observer Meredith may not have been the prime candidate for "forgive and forget", this was one basket-case scenario she wasn't going to succumb to. Though she realized the trust between herself and her husband had been blatantly ignored, there was a silly, illogical, and naive force that gave Meredith the strength to handle the fact that Jebidiah was a criminal: Love.

It's a shame that Jebidiah's idea of reciprocation was painfully pale in comparison.

But... Life goes on. Attempting to follow Farah's advice of 'stop stressing yourself to death', Meredith instead focused on the minor things in her life. Well. Actually, I wouldn't call her son's impending birth minor, but it had taken a backseat when she learned of Jebidiah's secret life -- it was allowed back into the spotlight, now.

And it was simply amazing how much time had passed. In our world, perhaps not long, but the Sim-equivalent of months lapsed by, and Meredith was close to popping out her second kid. The first one wasn't forgotten, though -- Travis was toddling along wonderfully, and with Tana's daughter June so close in age, the family decided to go on over to the Larson home for a 'playdate' for the two kids.

Though, knowing that Jebidiah didn't really seem to 'get on' well with Tana's husband -- Howard -- Meredith gave her husband strict orders not to cause any drama. I don't blame her for asking.

After bringing Travis indoors and getting him settled in the nursery,  Tana proceeded to bore Meredith's (metaphorical) socks off with endless jabber about her law enforcement training. Yay, discussion about weight training at the gym. ... Not. As much as Meredith 'loved' her sister, she had to steer the topic back onto something they both sort of care about: the next Kane Kid. Well... At least, Tana pretended to care. She wasn't much on kids herself, but I guess after having one of her own, she was a bit softer on the idea.

After a nice meal --that Meredith cooked-- and sitting down to watch a movie --which Tana hated, since she's a certifiable technophobe-- the Kanes began to head home... But not before Tana slipped Jeb some 'sensitive information' that he'd been waiting for. Perfect... A perfect cover for why Jebidiah and Tana actually put up with these little get-togethers. Neither believed that either of their spouses suspected a thing...

Oh, if only they knew how wrong they were.

It had been ages since Trista Dow had been by to see Meredith -- in fact, Meredith couldn't recall seeing her since Trista had her own baby. It's not surprising, for someone in the music business, and someone going through a rather rough patch in their marriage. It was about time she dropped by, so she was invited over -- and she even performed a song for her friend's unborn baby! It was cheesy, but... Meredith was sympathetic. Jebidiah, on the other hand...

Was not.

This was something that greatly upset Meredith. While she did not expect her husband to change overnight -- especially when she hadn't talked to him at all about what she'd learned -- she childishly expected that he would at least put up a good show at home in order to appease her conscience for deciding that he was worth staying with. This lead to heated chat over dinner, which lead to arguing, which lead to...

Uh oh.

Well, long story short: their argument was forgotten. Once their son was on the way, the babysitter was called, the taxi was phoned, and several hours later, Bradley Kane was the newest resident of Riverview County.

The "discussion" could wait for another day.

 The information that Tana had passed on could not.

Jebidiah had tracked him down. Who "him" was isn't particularly important. He was... the gardener. Maid? No... He'd been in for repairwork. Or the security installation. Well... Jebidiah didn't feel the detail was important -- just the information that he knew. And he had a meeting that was going to completely alter the timetables for The Big Job. Yeah, Jebidiah couldn't help but be a little 'excited'.

Tana had picked up a lead from the police department: a guy was going to go to jail for making suspicious nectar for Underage Drinkers (you know how kids love the taste of life fruit juice!) but Tana would get him off the hook if he spilled everything he knew about the recent upgrades to Carl Strummer's security systems. Well, Carl wasn't too cautious, and Mr. Guy knew all the weak points on the grounds, in the house, and all the numbers (but not the order) needed to disable the case surrounding the gem. ... Or something to that effect. Ah! It was perfect.

Jebidiah even generously offered some monetary compensation to the fellow as a 'Thank you'. How thoughtful.

However, when Jebidiah arrived home that night, with Bradley tucked neatly into his cradle and fast asleep, and Travis snoring away happily in his own crib, there was one member of the Kane family that was waiting up for her husband.

Oooooh, and they exchanged words. While Meredith was careful not to divulge that she knew what he was doing, she made a point to voice that she disapproved of how much he was working lately, and that for the kids' sake -- especially Travis -- he needed to start spending more time with the kids.

That's not really why she was mad, of course... It was a sorry excuse, really, and even Jebidiah could tell that that's not really what she was upset about. But, she wouldn't tell, and he wasn't exactly sure if he wanted her to. It was safe just to leave it alone... If he did what she asked, maybe whatever was bothering her would just 'go away'.

But in the meantime, it meant that he had to spend some time with the babies. Kids, he didn't mind. But babies? ... Well, as long as he can have their candy.

A few days later, though, Meredith was still feeling nervous about everything. Though she no longer had to worry about over-stressing a baby in  her tummy, she was trying very hard to follow Farah's advice... And it just wasn't sticking. It's not that she was having doubts about her feelings for Jeb -- in fact, she was never more sure in her life, now that this had come up -- she was having doubts about his feelings for her. ...  On top of being upset that any day, he could end up in prison for the rest of his life.

In a moment of "weakness", Meredith decided that it wouldn't hurt to bring her sister into the mixture of her situation -- at least, partially. After a long, exhasperated phone call, Tana finally decided to just come over and see what the matter was... Meredith was being awfully sketchy on the phone.

This made Tana a bit nervous, too. Had she discovered her involvement with Jebidiah's Company? Had she discovered what Jeb was, and what he was planning? This was dangerous, because even if Meredith didn't plan on doing anything with what she knew... There would be people at The Company that would take 'measures' to prevent it getting out, and Sim-God forbid that anything happen to her little sister.

Tana was justifiably worried, but after some brief chat with her sister, she no longer was. "You're worried that he doesn't love you?" Tana asked her hopelessly neurotic sister. "Meredith, he would do anything for you." Even rob the world's most secure bank to make sure that his wife was the most pampered woman on the face of SimPlanet.

As Meredith trotted off to go make them dinner, Jebidiah decided to pull Tana aside, too. Her sister wasn't the only one considering that she might know something. "She's been acting so suspicious lately, keeps asking too many questions about work, keeps eavesdropping and--" "You don't have anything to worry about, Jeb," Tana adamantly explained to him. "She's just being paranoid about general stuff as usual, I've settled her down."

But while Meredith mislead Tana, the white lie had seeded into Tana's mind... And now, she was misleading Jeb.

Oh, what a complex web we spin... The wife knows the truth, but spins a fib of her own. But now, with what she has been led to believe, the sister-in-law lies to her sister -- she doesn't really know how much Jeb loves her -- in order to protect her, and now lies to the husband... Because now she's suspicious... And wants to know if he's really being the husband he should be for her sister.

Because, now that Meredith has seeded the doubt, Tana really wonders...

Is he?


Fickle Suspicion...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jebidiah had only just arrived home from his trip to Shang Simla to learn that he was going to be a father -- again. There are some things that a Sim can hear that never gets old, and I'm sure that Jebidiah would admit that that is one of them. Even a selfish, evil Sim such as himself has a special place in his heart -- or... whatever that thing is inside him -- for his offspring. Perhaps, one day, another son to carry on his legacy... Or a daughter to spoil with unimaginable riches! Ah, the possibilities are endless, in Jeb's imagination.

No, no... He couldn't be happier.

In fact, after helping Meredith take care of the house -- she'd left it in quite the disaster in her nervousness! -- and giving Travis a proper greeting, they celebrated with some 'presents' he'd brought home from China.

I have to say, they were some pretty nice fireworks, but he probably should have picked up more. I guess, it was a fairly decent show, still.

Life carried on as normal -- Jebidiah made sure to call his mother to brag about his exploits in China, making sure to greedily emphasize to her how he couldn't have done it without his extensive training with the Company. It was all Farah could do to grit her teeth -- if only she had a little less self-respect, she'd have turned him in in a heartbeat a long time ago.

But, perhaps, maybe she was the slightest bit proud how successful he was. I mean, not every mother gets to see their son become the most notorious criminal pickpocket in all of Simington... Perhaps, perhaps, it was worth giving him credit for brilliance and aptitude, if not nobility. Yes, she could live with that.

However, Farah was not the only one becoming increasingly cocky in her son's skills. In fact, Jebidiah himself was becoming so sure of himself and his abilities avoiding the law that he was no longer worried of ever getting caught, let alone ending up in jail. He hadn't seen the inside of a cell since the beginning days of thuggery, and it had led him to only one possible conclusion: he was invincible. Unstoppable. Uncatchable.

And this is something he simply could not keep from his son.

But what Jebidiah did not forsee is that his idle braggery to a naive and uneducated Travis would fall upon the ears of someone who was far less naive then she was given credit for.

What was Meredith hearing?! Her husband, a thief? A common burglar? A criminal? She had only come downstairs to grab some food for her slowly expanding belly, and now she was hearing her husband confess his darkest deeds to their  son.

But what was she to do? Confront him? That could only end in tears, in arguments, and in a separation she couldn't handle right now. Neurotic as she was, the idea of leaving her husband scared her spitless, what with a young toddler and another one on the way. No... She grabbed her juice, and then went to talk to him as if nothing happened. He spoke to her belly, told her he loved her, and then continued to try to teach Travis his ABC's.

But lingering in her mind was what she heard: all the riches they'd ever made, their entire lifestyle, was based on a career taking from those who'd rightfully earned it. And now she had to hide what she knew... Or did she?

Jebidiah, noticing her obvious tension -- and not surprised, as nervous Meredith was always that way, especially when she was pregnant -- gave her a backrub... But it obviously didn't make the problem go away. In a stuttered exclamation, she said she wasn't feeling well, and was going to Farah's to see if his mother knew what might be bothering her... since she was a doctor, after all.

It wasn't until Meredith arrived at her mother-in-law's that she realized that she had no idea why she was going to see Farah. What could that self-absorbed, snobby woman possibly give for advice? Meredith enjoyed Farah's company, and her generous donation of money for toys for the kids, but beyond money and family-image... Well, Farah wasn't exactly a good counselor.

Still, it couldn't hurt... And Meredith had few alternatives.

The hardest part was bringing up the subject. How exactly turn to someone and say: "I just found out your son, my husband, is a criminal. Care to offer any constructive advice?" Meredith considered turning to Tana for help instead, but childish and naive Meredith knew enough about her sister to know that, even though she was a cop, she probably wouldn't care very much. Tana would avoid criminal conviction unless every scrap of evidence was found... A few words overheard to her son would not be taken seriously.

But before Meredith could even mutter out, "I overheard... Farah I think he's a..." Her mother-in-law took her by the shoulders, and told her: "I am glad you asked. I was sure you would figure it out eventually."

They went inside, and after nonchalantly asking Meredith if she wanted to play foosball, Farah began -- in the most noble tone of motherly-pride -- began to explain how she too discovered her son's life of crime. Facts were twisted to suit Farah's own ends, but in a rather expert use of her eloquent skill at Schmoozing, she explained that Jebidiah's trade was an art, and that as disreputable it may be, it was who he was. Meredith was never told because he loved her, and Farah knew that Jebidiah would rather rot in jail than lose the woman he loved.

"Turn him in if you want," she explained in a sickly sweet tone to her daughter-in-law. "But search your own soul before you decide what to do. Your feelings for him haven't changed, have they? You still love him as much as you did the day you married him, and you would be lying to say otherwise. Perhaps his decisions are against your own moral conscience, but you will lose him, one way or another, if you do not keep his secret for him."

Unfortunately, Farah knew Meredith better than Meredith thought she did. As much as it pained Meredith, what her husband was actually doing for a living, she would rather keep living this lie than lose the man she loved. "I love him too much." That's all she could say.

Oh, if only Jeb had known how much his wife loved him... How much she was willing to sacrifice for him.... And how big a part it would play in his future.

But for now, Farah simply offered her best medical advice: "Stop stressing about it so much. What happens will happen, and the best that you can do is watch out for your son, and the one you have on the way." Oh, and that's right -- Farah had deduced that Meredith was having another boy... Good; something she could share with her husband when she got home.

The rest... She'd keep to herself...
For his sake.


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