Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chapter 5: Your Ass is on Fire

"I can hire a babysitter," Heath says to Marvin over breakfast, "You don't have to spend your Saturday watching Farrell." Much like Ashlynn did when she first moved in, Marvin has been working hard around the house to prove his worthiness to stay or earn his keep.  And it's entirely unnecessary. "You're family, Marvin. Not a servant."

Family. Like all the other kids he knew in the group home, shipped off from house to house, always hoping for a home, the word means more to him than he can say. "I like taking care of Farrell," he answers quietly, not looking up from his waffles, "And, I've asked Brad to come over later, if that's okay?"

"That's fine Marvin," Heath says with a smile, "I look forward to meeting him."

Brad arrives just as Heath is preparing to go out for his day of playing for tips in the park before his gig tonight.

"I wish my dad was that accepting," Brad sighs as he and Marvin are left alone with napping toddler, "You're so lucky."

"Believe me, I  know it," Marvin agrees.

Shasta has accepted that she can't have Marvin, so she tries to find romance elsewhere. Beau Broke has recently broken with Wren Dublin, and Shasta decides he's worth a shot.

Until she discovers the asshole trait that made Wren dump him. Are there any boys in this town who aren't complete jerks? Shasta wonders.

Elliot spends his Saturday in the park with Rochelle Sheffield. Though she's only just started school, Rochelle considers herself the adult in her family while parents continue to goof around and behave like children. Her desire to be grown up and serious all the time can make her a difficult playmate, as she prefers conversation to games, and absolutely refuses to play tag. Still, Elliot is drawn to her company, and forgoes the childish pleasures of the park to talk about school and books and other boring things with her.

Heath has his first gig at a private venue. The money is getting much better as he climbs he way toward stardom.

When Farrell outgrows his crib, it's time to start thinking about another addition to the house, or better yet, a move to a new house.

Despite his status as a headliner and his many wins at the frequent SimFests, Heath still performs his sing-o-gram duties. Because he needs the money to buy the house he has his eyes on.

"Dude, your ass is totally on fire," his client, Coby Sheffield, comments with childish giggle.

Luckily the gym has a shower room where Heath can extinguish the ass fire. The stupid sing-o-gram machine thing, Heath isn't sure what it's called, has been acting up a lot lately, and he decides it's a good time to stock up on shower in a can. Because while most of his sing-o-grams are delivered in the gym where showers are easily accessible, sometimes he's stuck performing out on the sidewalk, which would be a bad place for your ass to catch fire.

Brandi Broke was romancing her husband Skip and thought that a romantic sing-o-gram would help the mood. Not something Heath would choose to do at an intimate moment, but who is he to question the client?

Stupid machine! Why can't they get him one that doesn't try to set his ass on fire for two out of three sing-o-gram gigs?

All the hard work pays off, and Heath is finally able to afford the house next door.

The ground floor has three bedrooms and a bath for the kids, plus a large space to play in. The second floor is an open kitchen/living space with a half bath, and the top floor is Heath's master suite. There's even a small plot for Heath to do a little gardening, a hobby he hasn't been able to indulge in much since he moved to Storybrook.

New furniture, yay!

Undaunted by the assholery she's been encountering in her male schoolmates, Shasta perseveres. With prom coming up, she has no choice. Even though she wouldn't be the only girl to go alone, she is determined not to show up dateless. Brian Lecocq is a freshman, having just started high school, but he's shown absolutely no signs of the asshole trait. Sure, he's clumsy and absent-minded, but at least he's nice.

Shasta's date for the prom is secured.

Heath's heartfelt romantic ballads has garnered him a loyal following of female fans.

Marvin brings Brad out to watch Heath's gig at Doug's Hangout. Wednesday night is a slow night, and there's only one person in the audience besides his son and his date.

"You were at the SimFest the other day," Heath says, recognizing the girl from his earlier shows.

"I go to all your shows," she enthuses.

Heath sees this as an opportunity to sell his CD.

Heath learns that his fan's name is Bianca Carter, and she works as a roadie at the theater, hoping to be a rockstar someday.

She leans in suggestively as she tells him about herself, and, a little frightened to find himself actually attracted to another woman, Heath decides it's time for him to bolt, before something happens that he might regret.

Marvin graduates with honors.

Heath runs into Bianca again at Marvin's graduation. "You aren't graduating today, too?" he asks her, his heart caught somewhere in his throat.

"No, silly," she laughs, "My little sister just graduated. Don't worry, I'm all grown up and perfectly legal."

Heath blushes a deep red. "I need to go," he mumbles.

"Okay," she smiles, "I'll see you tonight."

"Tonight?" he asks, wondering if he had somehow made a date with her.

"At your gig," she giggles, "You're playing at the Little Lennon Cafe tonight right?"

Heath's blush deepens. "Right," he says, "I'll be there."

Bianca giggles again, "Well, I hope so. It won't be much of a show without you."

Before his gig, Heath stops at home to see Marvin off. Marvin got a job at the bistro, hoping to be a chef, and Heath helped him to buy a small house a few blocks away.

"Don't be a stranger," Heath says, giving him a tight hug, "If you ever need anything, never hesitate to ask. This is always your home."

Bianca shows up to his gig that night as promised.

Usually when he sings, he keeps Ashlynn's image in mind, but tonight, he's singing to the girl directly in front of him.

After the show, he has a drink with Bianca. He used to be really good at this, he remembers, vaguely, like it happened in some other lifetime, he had been confident with women, flirting came so easily. No he's just a mess, stumbling over his words, blushing every time she glances him. And he feels guilty, though he has no one to cheat on but a ghost, he feels like every smile, every flirtatious joke he shares with Bianca is a betrayal.

"Look," he says quietly, "I'm not sure I should be doing this." He glances down at his toes, "Maybe you should find someone else."

Bianca lifts his face so he's looking into her eyes, "I'm not trying to rush you into anything, Heath," she says gently, "We're just hanging out. Maybe something will come of it, maybe it won't."

The next day is Shasta's prom. "You look beautiful," Heath tells her, "I wish..." He stops himself before finishing his sentence.

"I know, I wish Mom were here, too," Shasta responds to the words he left unsaid, "It's been hard, growing up without her. If it weren't for you...well, you've been a great Dad. Marvin told me what it was like to be a foster kid, and I know you could have put me there, that you didn't have to keep me..."

"I couldn't let you go like that, you know that."

"I know," Shasta whispers.

"I loved your mother," Heath says, kicking at the floor, "I still love her. But...Shasta, how would you feel if I, you know, if I started seeing someone..."

"Seriously?" Shasta's face lights up, "Nothing would make me happier than to see with someone, Dad. You deserve it."

Heath is at level 9 of the Singer career. He's got like 6 SimFest awards now. 
Bianca Carter is part of the Carter family that comes with the populated version of Storybrook. As I mentioned before, I'm using the unpopulated version but I did grab a few of the families to move in to the town, as well as using a few of my own families. I did change her hair color between the scene where Heath first mets her to when he runs into her at Marvin's graduation. Because, it was naturally a greenish tinged blonde, and I couldn't deal with it. Maybe she spends too much time in the pool, and chlorine has damaged her hair, lol. So, I gave it good washing to make it a lovely platinum blonde.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapter 4: In Love with a Memory

"If you get married, are you going to send me away?" Shasta asks him one morning before school.

"Well, there isn't much chance of my getting married," Heath laughs. Outside of the single one night stand with Pearl, who left town the next day as promised, Heath's romantic life was pretty much non-existent. "But even if I did,you don't have to worry. I'm your dad now, and nothing will change that."

Elliot grows into a toddler. He has his mother's hair and eye color.

Raising two kids on his isn't easy, but Heath has put his all into doing the job properly.

On Sundays he takes Shasta and Elliot to visit Ashlynn's grave.

Elliot will never remember his mother, but Heath makes sure he knows that she loved him.

Doug's Hangout, the club that first rejected him, has now offered him a steady gig on Friday nights. The Little Lennon coffeehouse also gave him a regular Wednesday night spot, and he does a showat the park every Sunday. With the money he's taking in, he should soon be able to afford to build  proper bedroom for Elliot.

One evening as he's coming home from playing for tips in the park, Heath finds a teenager sleeping on the lounge chair behind the house.

"Hey," he wakes the boy gently, "Don't you have a home to go to?"

The kid looks at him sullenly. "Sorry," he grumbles, "I'll get off your beach."

"If you're hungry, I'm about to make dinner. Well, salad, because I'm useless with a stove. But you're welcome to join us."

The kid gives him a suspicious glare, but his hunger finally wins out, introducing  he follows Heath into the house.

He says his name is Marvin, and doesn't offer a last name. He takes immediately to young Elliot, trying to teach the toddler new words while Heath chops up vegetables for their simple salad.

Over dinner, Heath draws Marvin's story out with a gentle questioning. The boy ran away from a group home after suffering and endless string of miserable foster homes. 

"I'm better off on my own," Marvin declares defiantly. Heath knew a few kids like Marvin when he was in high school, and he can't really dispute his claim. "You aren't going to call social services on me, are you?"

"You can stay here," Heath offers.

The new bedroom gets built, with a bunk bed for Marvin, and Elliot when he's old enough to leave his crib.

Heath did have to get Social Services involved, he couldn't enroll Marvin in the local school without explaining the situation. He'd had dealings with them before when he took legal guardianship of Shasta; back then he;d been worried that his sketchy living conditions would be cause for them to take his kds away from him, but the overworked social worker assigned to case laughed at his fears. "You should see some of the conditions kids are living in," she told him, "Your house would be heaven for most of them." Knowing that, he expected no trouble in adopting Marvin, and he got none. They were jst thrilled to have one more out of the system and into home.

Heath tries to make waffles for their Saturday breakfast, but ends up setting the stove on fire.  He's useless as a cook, but he does at least know how to handle a fire extinguisher.

The call from Social Services was unexpected, but Heath came right away, prepared to fight to keep his kids if necessary. When gets to the office, he finds Officer Bradley, the one who interrogated him repeatedly after Ashlynn disappeared, waiting for him with his social worker.

"What do you know about Pearl Yang?" the officer demands.

It takes him a moment to recognize the name; when he does, he blushes. "Almost nothing, really," he admits, "I spent a night with her, but we didn't talk much."

The officer gives him a disapproving frown, and the social worker covers a smile with her hand. "She's a criminal," Officer Bradley says harshly, "She's robbed several banks. Sunset Valley PD picked her up a few days ago. She was in the hospital. Giving birth. She put your name down as the kid's father."

Heath gapes for a second, and does a bit of mental calculation. "It could be mine," he admits. The timing was right on.

"He is yours," the social worker informs him, "Since the police here had your DNA on file, we were able to conduct a paternity test."

"Pearl is gong down," the officer breaks in, "She won't see the outside of a prison for a long time."

"So, we need to know if you intend to take custody of the child," the social worker finishes in a more gentle tone.

"Of course I will," Heath answers.

And so little Farrell joins the family.

Life in the Brannon household carries on. Heath helps with the homework.

And wins trophies at SimFests.

Farrell becomes a toddler.

Shasta has her badging ceremony.

And Marvin has his prom. He went alone, as the boy he was interested in, Jake Preston, decided last minute to go with Annabelle Humble instead. But it turns out okay, as he met Brad Soteto at the dance, and sparked up his first romance.

"How was it?" Heath asks him when he gets home.

Marvin draws a deep breath, and decides to come out to his adopted father, telling him about meting Brad.

"That's great," Heath says, hugging the boy, "You'll have to invite Brad over to meet the family. Unless we're too embarrassng."

Shasta and Elliot have their birthdays together.

Shasta develops a fruitless crush on Marvin.

But, knowing that that won't work, she decides to try romancing her childhood friend Sebastian Striker.

Only to discover that Sebastian acquired the asshole trait as a teenager.

"You can do way better than Sebastian Striker, Shasta," Marvin tries to cheer her up after the humiliating encounter.

Where words fail to comfort, a good pillow fight succeeds.

"I know it's wrong, we're like brother and sister. And Marvin is gay, but I just wish..."Shasta sighs, confiding her feelings in Heath, "The guys at school are such jerks."

Now more than ever, Heath wishes Ashlynn were here to handle this situation. He has no idea what to say to Shasta,what kind of advice she needs. All he can do is hug her and assure her the right guy will come along someday.

While he's out doing the laundry, Heath gets the worst crank call he's ever heard of. Someone thought it would be funny to pretend to be scientists and tell him he could bring the ashes of his loved one in to be revived. What kind of sicko comes up with a joke like that?

Still, the crank call inspires him to visit the graveyard after his gig that night. Ashlynn's ghost takes his hand when he arrives.

"Shasta's a teen, now," he tells her, not sure how much the dead know about what happens down here, "And Elliot has started school. They're both really beautiful children."

Her ghostly voice is unintelligible, so Heath just takes her in his arms and whispers to her about how much he misses her, needs her, and how sorry he is she couldn't be there to see her kids grow up.

"It was great seeing you again, Ash," he says, kissing her goodbye, "I'm sorry I never told you that I love you."

He's kept their photobooth pictures, taken the the day they first met, on his wall. There are still so many things he doesn't know about her, things he'll never know, he figures, just like he'll never know how their relationship would have worked out if she had lived.

He's still not even sure if what they had was love, at the time. His feelings for her have grown, he's fallen in love with his memories of her. There's been no one else who could compare, no one he'd give up his memories of Ashlynn for. He'll be alone forever, he thinks, until he joins Ashlynn in the grave, and that thought doesn't really bother him.


Raising all these kids has been utter chaos.
Heath is up to level 8 of the Singer career.
In game, Shasta isn't considered family, because she's not legally adopted. So, the game considers Marvin a fair target for her romantically, and she immediately rolled a wish to have her first kiss with Marvin when she aged up to teen. So that's where her story of her crush on him comes from.