Playing with Fire

Friday, July 30, 2010

When we first meet someone, no matter how hard we may try to remain on neutral ground, it is inevitable that at some time, somewhere, we will slap a sticker on our fellow human and label them. Perhaps not always in stereotypes -- although that does seem to be the 'thing' to do -- but in one way or another, we always pass judgement on others... for the way they dress, the way they treat others, the job they hold... It's decidedly hard not to.

But at some point, it is possible that the label we place on someone becomes challenged -- everything we thought about our friend, family member, or neighbor, comes tumbling down over a sudden revelation about their character...

And how we see them may never be the same.

Painting in pajamas: Maybe they didn't have a lot of money to throw around anymore, especially trying to upkeep their not-too-shabby estate, but living in Twinbrook did have it's perks... Like being able to lounge around outside in the middle of the afternoon, in your pajamas.

Can you blame Meredith? Sure, they had new neighbors that might toss her funny looks out their window, but... Well, it sure beat trying to look pretty when she had a toddler and three dirty boy's worth of clothes to wash, a garden to maintain, and a daily ritual of checking all the appliances in the house for leaks, wear, and possible tampering.

One could never be too careful!

It no longer surprised Meredith when her phone began to ring off the hook; "I need someone to take my Senior photos!" "I need a portrait of my Great-Aunt-Sally!" "I need some ideas on a new camera for my wife for her birthday..." "We're preparing an exhibit today with some of your paintings, do you think you could stop by and talk about them a little?" ... She didn't mind a little attention now and then, but the Loner inside her was going -- frankly -- insane.

The phone call she received that day was... well, typical. "Hello, Mrs. Kane? This is Holly Greenwood, Jade's mother? I'm just calling because -- well, you see, I'm the caretaker for the community gardens -- and I was wondering, do you think you could stop by and take some photos for the..."

Blah blah blah. It meant she'd have to get dressed, but if there was any chance of some extra spending money on the side, Meredith would have to suck it up and go over there.

When she arrived, she was surprised to see Tana's husband, Howard, talking with some woman in the parking lot.

"That's odd," Meredith thought to herself as she watched the two conversing. "I thought Howard was usually at work by now."

She shrugged to herself, but figured, it'd only be decent to pop over and say hi -- he was her Brother-in-Law, after all.

But... something about the look Howard gave this woman set Meredith aback. She was just about to call out his name, but before she could say anything...


... Howard swept the woman up into a kiss.

For a minute, Meredith simply stood, dumb-struck. Her own sister's husband, smooching on some skank in knee-high boots and a see-through top? Although part of her was furious, another part of her felt her heart sink into the floor...

In a way, she knew she couldn't blame him. But she knew it was the right thing to do... Maybe.

"Howard?! What... what are you doing?" Meredith said as she approached her brother-in-law, pointing at him with an accusatory finger. "Out here... Out... Out in public?"

A shocked look crossed Howard's face, but immediately, he was pleading with Meredith to keep quiet. "Please, don't tell Tana... Please. I was planning on telling her soon anyways, she knows things are on the rocks, she's suspected things for a while... Don't make it worse by rubbing salt in the wound. Just give me some time -- I mean... Penny's going to be having my--"

"I don't want to hear it," Meredith jabbed, as she backed away. "I just don't want to hear it."

As angry as she was, as much as she wanted to jump in the car and head over to the Police station where Tana was busy at work... She realized, as surprising as it was to see Humbly-Boring-Howard turn into Horndog-Howard right before her eyes... She couldn't blame him.

And she wasn't sure why.

Next door at the Community Pool, a confrontation of a totally different nature was about to take place.

Jebidiah Kane's eyes scoured the poolside like a pair of hot coals as he looked for the man he came for. Though he knew he shouldn't feel surprised to find him there -- it was just as she'd said -- something perked up at the back of Jeb's neck once he spotted his target... Marc Brandt.

The area was populated, but it was probably better that way -- it would prevent Jeb from doing something horrible... Something he wish he could do.


Marc didn't miss much; he saw Jeb approaching before he reached the table-side, and quickly stood up to try to get the first word, but Jebidiah wouldn't have any of that.

"It was you! You, a little rat! Did you think I wouldn't find out, Marc? Did you think she'd keep your secret forever? Think she'd actually cover your butt, and give you the cut of the money she promised?!"

Marc tried to back away, but with a pool on one side, a building on the other, and a table at his back, there was very few options he had. "Look, I was just doing what I thought was right, Kane. You can't blame me for that, can you?"

Jebidiah guffah'd. "Of course I can! Just because you thought it was right doesn't mean it was! Besides, I know exactly why you wanted to hand me in," he started, his voice carrying lower, in order to avoid being overheard. "You've got a record that needs cleared, and a big, fat pending case you need wavered to resume your own little cushy lifestyle..."


"Look, I'm not trying to start any trouble, Kane," Marc began, although his intimidation at Jeb's towering figure -- or hat, or something -- was showing clearly through his emo-cut hairdo. "We didn't get the reward money anyways, remember? So what's the big deal?"

"The big deal?" Jeb grumbled. "The big deal is that my family was put in jeopardy... Especially my wife. Because of your big mouth, we could've both ended up in jail... Away from our children, for Plumbbob's sake."

"Well, you should've thought of that before you murdered someone, huh, 'Blackjack Kane'?"

Ooooh, that did it. All it took was one big remark from Sissy boy to get Jeb riled up... And without hesitation, he smacked Marc Brandt across the face.

But... Marc did not take that lightly. He instantly rebounded...


... But Jeb was quick to get the kid into a headlock...

... And thoroughly kicked his behind.

Although there was several women watching in awe several feet away, Jebidiah had no shame in saying his final words:

"If you ever mess with me or my family again, mark my words, Brandt... You'll regret it until the day you die."

And luckily for Marc, he was smart enough to read into those words what they truly meant: if he ever did mess with the Kanes again, the 'day he'd die' would be a lot closer than he expected.

The next day, nerves in both the Kane parents were still running hot. Meredith was angry about what she'd seen of Howard, but was so torn on what to do that she had started to realize how actually little it bothered her (which, in turn, bothered her even more); and, Jebidiah, he had never felt so stressed in his life.

Their bank account was running slim... And there was no way to get rid of the reason why. He'd nipped one bud, but the bush was still growing. The tension was too much -- and unfortunately, the steam had to let loose, somehow.

"You agreed to stop stealing, Jebidiah." Meredith stretched her arms as she watched silently from the stairs. She'd crept down as quietly as possible, and had even fooled Jeb -- and the moment he heard her voice, he closed his eyes and hung his head.

"Meredith... You don't understand." He pulled out the chair from the computer, turning to face her as she finally came down the whole rest of the way into the basement.

"Yes, I do, Jeb! I know money's tight! I know things are hard! But when we moved here, you agreed to stop being a criminal! All that's been keeping this marriage together is your promise that you'll change, but no... You haven't. I come down here and find you hacking. HACKING!  Stealing money!"

"You have absolutely no idea how much we need that money, Meredith," Jeb retorted in his defense. "Without it, we're doomed. We'd may as well cash in and head back to Riverview, if we don't start making ends meet soon."

"It's not an excuse, Jeb! You got us into this mess! You decided to lie and steal and rob and hack networks... And look where it landed us!"

"Oh yeah?!" Jeb laughed, pointing a finger right back at his wife. "This is all my fault? I was perfectly content to sit and jail and pay for my crimes. Once they found out I was innocent of Carl's murder, I'd be paying a minimum penalty, at best. But then what happened? YOU decided to get involved!"

Meredith's jaw dropped. "You're pinning this on me?!"

"Yes, I am, Meredith. I would've had everything under control. But, then you pushed your way in, and now Chandra's dead. Then we had to run from the law. Now, we're being hunted by bounty hunters for crimes we didn't commit, and being blackmailed up the wazoo by a woman more vindictive than your own sister..."

Although it caught Meredith by surprised, she didn't have much time to focus on that tid-bit before Jebidiah dropped his next bombshell. "We're in this position because of your mistakes... And if you can't handle my methods in able to keep us just barely surviving..."

At this point, Meredith had had enough. As she looked at her husband, tears began to well in her eyes, and an unshakable fury swept over her like a mad tidal wave.

'I can't believe you, Jeb! Excuse after excuse... I can't believe that I'm even listening to you anymore! I should've left you when I had the chance! I hate you! Your stupid lies, your stupid choices, your stupid, stupid reasons for acting so... stupid! I hate you!"

Before Jeb even had a chance to stop her, Meredith raced up the stairs, and the front door of the house slammed shut not long before the sound of her car's engine started up, and zoomed out of range.

Eva didn't even have time to react before the door to her humble home opened to reveal Meredith, still crying over the encounter with her husband only moments before. "Meredith, what's wrong?" she asked as her red-headed friend approached her.

After a moment of wiping tears and taking deep breaths, Meredith was suddenly no longer tearful, and again, full of rage.

She started to explain things... Well, at least, as much as she could. About how Jebidiah landed them in a really bad position with his job, which is why they had to move... And now he's blaming it on her, and she was just-about-ready to give up entirely on making this marriage work.

"I just don't know what to do anymore, Eva. It's like some crazy balancing act... one minute, everything's perfect, and the next, something tips the scales, and it's just as chaotic the first time we fought about it."

"Look, there's obviously a lot I don't understand or you can't tell me," Eva began, shrugging. "But I do know this much. Sometimes, men just act that way because they feel guilty... He could just be blaming you because taking all the blame on himself is too much to bear. He feels bad, so he's taking it out on you."

"But... What do I do? I've given him all the forgiveness I can, but all he does is just... you know..."

"Well, when all else fails..." Eva shrugged again, giving her best friend a solid look in the eye. "Sometimes, when when someone tips the balance too much in their favor... You need to even the score."

Meredith left Eva's house with a heavy heart, and the hurt that Jeb had driven so deep inside her hadn't been washed away a bit by her friend's comforting words. It stung even deeper, when she pulled up back to her house, and Jeb's black car was missing from the driveway -- in fact... there was only one thing in front of her house.


As she walked up the sidewalk to her front steps, part of her was glad that Shamus was there. It confused her, a little, but she was relieved nonetheless. She still felt like punching her fist through the glass in her front door, but... Maybe that could wait until she was around Jeb; it'd be a bigger impact, yaknow.


Once she reached the threshold and Shamus turned and saw her, he immediately swept her into a tight, fierce hug. "Eva called and told me what happened," he said as he tightly held Meredith in his arms, answering Mere's question before she even had the chance to ask. "I was just getting off work, so I figured... I'd come over straight away. I figured you'd need some comfort."

Mere's lip twitched a little as he said that, the fury inside her surging a little as he seemed so eager to be around while she suffered.

But... a little voice at the back of her mind teased her with a thought, which caused her to quickly pull away from Shamus, and look into his eyes with the hurt that she still felt from Jeb's words.


"Look... I'm not all that happy that you're here. But... You're here, and... Well..." Meredith pointed her thumbs towards the front door, and bent her head in that direction. "I could really, really use a distraction right now."

Shamus stood silent, for a moment, before he slowly began to nod his head. "Say no more."

Across town, a twitch grew in Jebidiah's upper lip, his anger mounting as his eyes turned back to stare at the woman laying on the bed behind him, smiling in delight at his obvious misery.

"I've done what you asked, given you what you asked... What more could you possibly want?"

As Tatianna crossed her arms over her chest, a devilish smile began to slowly tug across her lips.

"Oh... I think you know, Kane. I think you know."


Something's Fishy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It had been some time since the Kanes had found the time to visit their "beloved matriarch", but since Jebidiah's late night phone call in somewhat of a panic, Farah had decided to extend the invitation to her descendants... Despite the rather cool distance she'd seemed to have been keeping ever since the family shoved off and moved to Twinbrook.

Jebidiah wasn't altogether thrilled about the idea of spending the evening with his mother, but... It was probably the least he could do. With all three kids bundled up into the car, they drove across town to Farah's miniature mansion -- it certainly was not the biggest in Twinbrook's "snob division", but most of the other decadent houses on the lane had more than one, old woman living inside them.

But... it was best to reserve judgement for someone that was doing him a very, very large favor.

"Wonderful dye job, mother," Jebidiah chuckled, trying to hide his sneer as he reached out to take his mother's hand.

"You can reserve the sarcasm for later, darling," she responded quick-wittedly, though still smiling. "I really am glad that you came."

"I... well... You know why I'm really here."

"Yes yes, it's inside. But please, don't make this visit all about that. I really do miss all my children."

As Farah and Meredith bustled into the kitchen to get dinner ready, with Amelia settled into the dining room with some toys, the boys got to work testing out grandma's new video game system... And Jeb had to admit, being rich really did have it's perks.

He missed those days... And it frustrated him to no end, that he had no idea when he might ever see them again.

But, just as they'd gotten into the heat of a game, his cellphone rang.

"You can take that, dear," Farah said as she swept into the room. "Meredith's just putting the final touches on the cobbler, I can play with the grandsons until it's ready."

Jebidiah grumbled a 'thanks' under his breath as he moved away from the television, but it was difficult to keep his voice down over the sound of the television as he answered the phone.

"I told you not to call me when I'm around my family! What the heck is it this time? ... Yes, I got it. ... Yes, I'll deliver it to you as soon as possible. ... 100, as we agreed upon. ... No, I didn't -- Just... Can we talk about this later? This is not a good time."

As he hung up the phone, the impulse to slam it against the wall almost overcame him... But as Meredith skipped into the room to announce, "Dinner's ready!", Jebidiah had no choice but to put on the biggest smile he could manage, and pretend that everything was alright.

The next day, Jebidiah received a call from Marigold Racket -- she was loony-er than a Canadian dollar, but... That was sort of his job these days, wasn't it? Settling riddles for the overly paranoid, overly nutty, and overly nosy. He didn't care if it was an honorable gig, but man, couldn't they at least pay him more?

Even though Marigold was certifiably insane, Jebidiah indulged her case on the sheer fact of the size of her pocketbook -- maybe he'd get a little bit more out of it, this time.

"So... You're saying, all the apples just disappeared?" Jebidiah was really trying to remain professional, but... It just wasn't that easy.

"Yes!" Marigold nodded vigorously. "I was coring a bunch of the darn things for a pie, and then, just outta the blue, I walked outta the room, and WOOSH! They were gone. Completely gone! I want to know what happened to my apples! MY APPLES!!"

Well, Jeb didn't have much choice but to stop by the Racket's estate to see what all this business about "apples" was; and first stop, the kitchen.

But, after he did a little bit of investigating, a look of surprise crossed his face: those weren't fingerprints! They looked like... Fin marks? And water, everywhere... And it smelled like a pond had just up and walked all over the kitchen, too. It didn't make any sense, but... There was a trail to follow -- and he was going to go after it.

It led straight to the trashcan outside. As he suspected, within the trashcan was "Apple cores," he murmured to himself.

Still, a lot of this didn't make sense. What he'd discovered wasn't human... Wasn't human at all. While he'd discovered what happened to the apples -- obviously, eaten -- he owed it to Mrs. Racket and her generous bank account to discover who -- or what -- had devoured her pie filling... And as he considered the possibilities, a tinge of disgust touched the tip of his tongue.

First stop: the science facility. It wasn't in  his favorite part of town, but at least it was easy to find -- double silo, double water tower... The epitome of Twinbrook's once industrious nature.

He asked a whole lot of questions to the scientists, but no one seemed to want to give him any answers -- in fact, everyone was being a little too tight-lipped about this whole thing. Well, if the scientists weren't willing to talk about this "mutant fish", then maybe some people around town were willing to talk about the scientists.

Jebidiah spent almost all evening interviewing various people around town, but it wasn't until he ran into Pattina Knack that he finally got a lead:

"Well, I'm not really sure what sorts of experiments they've been running at the science lab, but that Marshall Curious sure has been acting funny lately... I saw him snooping around the Peddler's house last night, and it didn't seem like he was up to much good."

Pulling out his trusty branches, Jeb decided to spend a few hours in front of the Peddler's house trying to uncover this nonsense... But all he saw was Penny and her husband coming home in succession. "Rats," sighed Jeb as he uncrouched from his position... But, as always, there was one last thing to check before he went off to his next stop:

The garbage can.

And, as he suspected... More apple cores. What was Marshall Curious doing? Did he have some ravenous cravings for apples? That would almost make sense, except that didn't explain the fin markings... Granted, he could always be wearing a fish suit of some sort -- Jeb had caught Milly Pidgin dressing up as a shark to scare off fish only a few weeks ago -- but... that seemed unlikely.

However... The apple cores wasn't the only little tidbit of juicy information he'd discovered siphoning through the Peddler's trash.

"How... How did you know?!" Penny responded to Jebidiah's accusation, completely shocked.

"Why does it matter? You're pregnant, and I know who the father is -- and it's not your husband. You know... It could be really bad, if he found out..."

"What do you want?"

"Oh... I think you know."

"So... You, you... You promise not to tell anyone?" Penny stuttered as she came back with an envelope of cash, handing it off to Jebidiah as he attempted to keep his devilish smile under-wraps.

"As long as we keep this secret between you and me... No one will have to know. Even your husband."

"And, you won't tell the father, will you?"

"Well..." Jebidiah shrugged, as he slipped the cash into his back pocket. "No. No, I won't."

As he left the Peddler's house, Jebidiah felt a brief pang of guilt -- blackmailing a poor woman who probably just made some stupid mistake... But, he needed all the money he could get. If he wanted to keep his family together... every dollar would count.

"Brad, what are you doing here?" Travis looked up from his gaze lake-wards towards his little brother, scrambling up the latter to the top of the playground. "Can't you stop following me for a little while?"

"I'm not following you. Mom sent me here to tell you your friend's at the house looking for you. And, she wanted me to tell you to turn your cellphone back on."

Travis grumbled. "I'm not turning my cellphone back on. And... It's not Lolly at the house, is it?"

"No, it's Emerald's big sister."

Travis felt a huge surge of relief as he slid down the pole, landing on the send with a light *thud*.

"Jade," he whispered to himself. "Oh, how I wish..." Travis turned his eyes towards the lake, staring out over it's expanse with the same wishful daydreams he'd had before. "If only," he muttered, thoughtfully. "If only."

"Jeez, Travis, took you long enough to get here," Jade called as Travis walked down the stairs and settled onto the couch next to her. Jade had been playing video games in their basement ever since Meredith had sent Bradley out to look for him, so at least she was enjoying herself for the time being.

"Sorry, I was just... ya know. Hiding."

"Hiding? With your cellphone off? Whatever for?"

"Well, you know... I just..." Travis looked over at Jade, carefully eyeing her as she remained so absorbed in her current game of Simanimals. "Well, to be honest, I was hiding from Lolly."

"Seriously? You two having problems or something?"

"I don't know," he responded with a shrug. "She certainly doesn't seem to think so. I guess I'm just feeling really cooped up in the relationship, you know? She's not exactly very adventurous, just... way too overly traditional, not to mention she's sooo--"


"How'd you know?"

"Well..." Jade put down the controller to the game system, and turned her eyes to finally face Travis for the first time.

"June told me," Jade finally finished. "In fact, she told me that you'd chickened out breaking up with her because you're too much of a boy to go two minutes without having someone to mack on."

"Oh yeah? And what do you think?"

"I think the look you're giving me right now is a really dangerous one, Travis... Why don't you fix things with Lolly, and then we can talk about what I think..."

Jebidiah had never been up onto this side of Twinbrook, before; it was a lot higher, colder, more desolate... The trees all seemed to be dead, and only one house stood out among the expanse of rolling hills. There was no mistaking it: the Curious' house.

Whipping out his sturdy magnifying glass, he began to search... The mailbox, the garden, the trashcan -- until he came across something incredibly peculiar... A journal.

It looked like it'd been hastily thrown out, so quickly that Marshall hadn't even made absolute sure that it was discarded properly. After flipping through a few pages, Jebidiah decided to finish up his snooping at home, so that he wouldn't have any chance encounters with any of the Curious Kind.

As he read through the journal at Meredith's snoozing side, the heartbreak of a father became all too obvious: Marshall, a brilliant scientist, had made a terrible mistake... His own son had been accidentally transformed by one of his experiments, and no longer was anything what a Sim would call human. He had done everything he could to make him feel normal, but after a time, his son had escaped... So he'd been following him around town, making sure he was alright.

It was this "Fish Kid" that had stolen all the apples, and Marshall was just standing by, making sure he was alright... Like a father. But, in the end, he had to let his son go -- he had disappeared down a sewer, and now knew he would never see him again.

It was likely in his anguish that he'd tossed the journal away; so, as Jebidiah tucked it away in his nightstand, he decided that tomorrow he would tell Marigold that the culprit had been caught, and she'd never have to worry about it again. It wasn't worth bringing more shame on Marshall Curious than he'd already endured.

But... As Jebidiah slept and Meredith awoke, she looked upon her husband with a small amount of disdain.

She knew, he was up to something... He'd been growing distant, and since their one night of bliss, believing that she would be taken away, he had been withdrawn and angry. Meredith was tired... And was ready to discover what he was really up to.

Marshall Curious was not the only one who had something to be ashamed of: for, he was not the only man that lied.

Some Random Screenshots I Wanted to Share:

Here: a random shot I took in Twinbrook, that I thought just looked awesome. I really love this place. :)

Coming over to Carolina and Marta's house to take Carolina's picture for her Visa...

Amelia chillin' with some hot new babes in town...

And, the cutest picture wall Ever #1...

... and #2.


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