"Don't cringe when a kick comes your way, Laney."
Delaney growls, chafing under Rory's instruction.
"You're improving," he says, smiling at her scowl, "But you're letting your emotions cloud you."
"To be ready for anything that comes at you, your mind must be clear," he finishes, throwing out another kick, "Anger at your opponent only slows your reaction time."
Rory wins two out of three rounds, and after they shower they meet up again by his pool.
"I don't like the way that last job went down. Landgraab just showing up like that...he must have known we would be there," Rory says.
"He said he saw us in security footage from the museum," Delaney answers.
Rory shakes his head. "I'm not buying it. He was already in place when we got there, waiting for us. He knew what we wanted. And he offered up something of his own, that book Shadow wanted so badly."
"Shadow had his father check it out; there's no bug on it or anything. And they haven't exactly sent troops in after us."
"Well, I suppose that's something," Rory chuckles, "I've dealt with MorcuCorp before. They abducted my niece, for their experiments. I don't know what this Geoffrey Landgraab wants from you, but I wouldn't trust him."
"I'm not the one that needs convincing," Delaney says, "Shadow wanted that stupid book, and he wants to trust, well, everyone and anyone."
"Keep an eye out for trouble," Rory warns, and Delaney nods. "Listen, there's something else I wanted to talk about," Rory continues, "I've set up a meeting for you with some friends, in China."
"A village called Shang Simla. There are dragons there, like us, but also, not like us. I think it's time for you meet them. Also, there's a martial arts tournament. I think you're ready for some real competition."
"My daughter's birthday is coming up," Delaney says, "I can't go before that."
"That's fine," Rory says, "Maybe you should take Jillyan with you."
"You think she's a dragon?" Delaney asks, surprised.
Rory shrugs, "It's possible. With us hybrids, it's hard to tell sometimes when a true dragon will manifest. But that's not the point. I never took the time to get to know my kids, Laney. I'd hate to see you go that way. You don't want to find yourself alone."
It's mid-morning when Delaney leaves Rory's house and heads across town to the apartment Jack stays in when he's not in Drake's Hollow. She hesitates outside the door for just a minute; she's never been to Jack's place before, and has mostly tried not to think about the life has he away from her, like he just ceases to exist when he's not with her. Walking through this door, seeing the place he calls home, will change that, she thinks.
"Baby!" Jack exclaims, lifting her into the air as soon as she's in the door.
"Did you just get up?" she asks.
"We got in late last night," he answers, "So I slept in this morning."
"I was having the craziest dream," Jack continues, his word coming between kisses as he guides he back toward the kitchen counters.
"Was it a dirty dream"" Delaney giggles.
"I wish," Jack laughs, hoisting her up to the counter, "No we were at some conference or something in a hotel. There was a speaker, going on and on about, I don't know, that kind of spiritual crap Shadow is into. I felt like I was supposed to be paying attention, but you were sitting next to me in some hot little dress, and all I could think about was how tight you looked, and how long would it be before I could get you up into a room."
"Did we ever get to that room?" she asks with a laugh.
"We got to the room, but I woke up just as I was getting under your skirt," Jack answers, reaching his hand under her skirt now, pulling her panties down.
"All this morning, all I could think about was being inside you," he whispers as his pants fall to the floor, "I'm so glad you're finally here."
"Oh, me too," she gasps as he enters her.
In the bedroom, Jack gets the rest of her clothes off.
"I have dreams about you, too, you know," she whispers, licking her lips as he spreads her thighs with his knee.
"You want to tell me?" he asks.
Laney wraps her hands around his neck, "I prefer the real thing."
"All the way to China?" Jack asks when, after an afternoon of lovemaking, he and Delaney finally get around to talking.
Delaney nods, "Right after Jilly's birthday. I'm going to take her along."
"I'll miss you," he pouts.
"It won't be any different than your deployments are now," she answers.
"It will be different to me, knowing you aren't home. But it's okay, Laney. It'll be good for you and Jilly to take a trip together. And for you to connect with your dragon thing. Or whatever."
Delaney smiles at his attempt to understand and sympathize. "I don't really get it either," she sighs, "Cole says we're dragons, and he means, like real dragons, you know. But, I can't get my head around that. To me it's more like, I have a temper and I don't always think things through. Like, there should be some 12 step program where I show up and say 'I'm Delaney Brannon and I'm a dragon", and talk about what a shit I've been to the people I care about.
"You haven't been that bad, baby," Jack says gently.
She strokes his hand, "You know I have. But I'm glad we're moving past that. Are you going be home tomorrow for Jilly's cake?"
"Absolutely," Jack answers, glad his current leave coincides with his daughter's birthday, "I just have to go in tomorrow morning for my psych eval. I'll be home before she's out of school."
"Home as in my house?"
"That's the only home I have, Laney."
Weylin and Jillyan go rock collecting together one last time as children on their final day of elementary school. Today is their joint birthday and they will go to bed tonight as teens.
Jack shows up at the house, as promised, before school is out for the day.
"When you get back from your trip, I think we should start thinking about maybe getting married," he says hesitantly.
"I don't know, Jack," she says, grabbing his ass before he can startto frown, "We're not big thinkers. I say we just go ahead and do it without thinking about thinking about it first."
"Yeah? You want marry me?" he asks, making sure he understands her right.
"You and no one else," she says. She thinks about dragging him into the bedroom, but the excited shouting of the kids' coming home from school puts that plan on hold. "It's birthday cake time."
Jillyan is first up to her cake.
She's her mother's double.
Weylin is up next.
And he's nearly a twin of his father.
"I'm so happy you could be here for my birthday," Jilly enthuses, getting her dad alone for a minute after they've had cake.
Jack wants to say he would never miss her birthday, but he knows his job doesn't let him make that kind of promise. So he takes the moments he can.
Jilly and her mother are flying off to Chin a tomorrow, so tonight she spends as much time as she can with Jack, showing off her kicky bag skills while she talks about getting camera so she can learn photography while she's in Shang Simla. "Mom says I can learn martial arts, too, like her," she says, turning to catch the ball on her heel behind her. "I did some research on the area, there are gemstones and indigenous insects there that you can't find here. And you can even dig up old relics."
"Sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun," Jack says, wishing he could go with them. But he has other obligations.
Fergus slips out after the cake is done to visit the Hawksquill house. His grandparents are out tonight, as anticipated, and Fergus is able to get his uncle Max alone as he comes home from his shift at the hospital. "Anything I say to you, you have to keep confidential, right?" Fergus opens the conversation.
"You mean the doctor-patient confidentiality thing? That doesn't apply to minors," Max explains, "And I'm not a full doctor yet. Is something wrong? Are you feeling ill?"
"No, not exactly," Fergus says, "It's not physical."
"It's the curse?" Max asks, and Fergus nods, "Your mother has been training you, hasn't she?"
Fergus nods again, "Since we could talk." He looks down at his shoes uncomfortably. There are things he'd rather not discuss with his mother. But thinking that telling his uncle would be any better was probably a stupid idea.
"So, you want to talk about something you've seen that you don't want to talk about with your mother?" Max surmises, "Okay, have a seat. I can keep your secrets."
"I touched something, something really old, with lots of memories," Fergus starts, "I've never been near anything that old before and---"
"It was overwhelming," Max finishes.
Fergus nods, "I've tried what Mom said to do, filing the memories away in a mental library. But, they won't stay there. I dream about this person, I live this whole other life in my head. I feel like I might lose myself, and be taken over."
Max sits quietly for a moment, and Fergus fears he might not just be cursed like the rest of his family, but he might actually crazy.
"My father always warned us that that could happen," Max finally breaks the silence, "He said that when a memory is that persistent, instead of resisting, you should give it the attention it wants. Just take some time to take it all in. It could be there's something in there that your subconscious has flagged as important for you to know."
"Okay," Fergus says weakly, "But. This person, the memories--they're violent, some of them."
"That's always hard," Max answers with sympathy, "Only the strongest feeling get invested into objects, so we are forced to witness some truly horrifying scenes when we come in contact with them. But once you've made that contact, you can't break it off. Those memories are in you, so you have to deal with them. I think it's better for you to confront them than let them haunt you while you sleep."
I really wasn't planning on more travel this generation, but Delaney got this opportunity to go to China to learn secrets that will improve her Athletic skill. She actually maxed that skill, and martial arts, ags ago, but I couldn't resist accepting the opportunity and making a trip to China part of the story. Even though I really just want to move this thing forward to gen 4. But, at least they are all teens now and I can get this thing moving once China is done, yay.
Jack should be aging up the same night as Jilly did, but the fact that he's been invited to spend the night might delay the transition. Delaney will age up when she gets back home. Then Shadow and Iola in the next days before that.
On to the out takes.
This one is for Aunt Estella, who will not doubt wag her fingers at the shameful., shameful lack of curtains.
For shame, Jack. For shame.
And this is Jack being proposed to. I couldn't use these in the story, but I had to show them anyway.
Stupid goofy proposal animations. Also, as soon s this was done, Delaney attempted an autonomous try for baby, which I canceled. I know I have that turned off in woohooer, but my wishacy Sims have been sneaking around that, and now it's happening here. Maybe retuner is somehow conflicting, I'll have to check that I have that set to non-autonomous there, too, I guess. Just, don't tell Shadow he can sneakily make another baby, because he will.