Evelyn sighed. What was she supposed to tell them?
"Why is he blue, Grandma?" Gloria repeated her question once more.
Why indeed. The explanation Freddie had given her after she'd confronted him had been absolute nonsense. Magic? A wish gone wrong? A genie from a lamp turning into Charity...?! Ludicrous. Could it be the strange herbs that she'd found in his laundry the other day? She winced. That was just another worry she didn't want to think about right now.
"This is just how he is," Evelyn finally said.
Gloria worried, "Are we going to turn blue too?"
"Is he sick?" Grace asked with a note of concern.
Those, at least, were questions Evelyn could answer. "Your uncle Félix said that Gene seems healthy. He's still waiting for the lab results though. And no," she laughed, "you two are not going to turn blue."
Thoughts of her son Félix always filled Evelyn with pride. Why couldn't Freddie be more like him? What had she done wrong? Those were the questions she tormented herself with daily. The only difference she could find in their upbringing was the fact that, unlike Fred, Félix had always had something worthwhile to occupy himself with. Educational toys, chess, after school activities - Evelyn was sure that those had aided Félix greatly on his way to becoming a doctor.
She would make sure to nudge her grandchildren along on the right path.
Not that there was anything to worry about with Grace and Gloria.
The twins were incredibly bright and inquisitive. When they weren't eagerly seeking out knowledge on their own, they bombarded Evelyn with a steady flow of astute questions that bespoke their intelligence.
Sometimes, though, the questions were merely difficult.
"Where's Grandpa?" Gloria had asked just shortly after the twins' age-up.
Rémy had died in their nursery, yet at the time, the girls had still been too young to comprehend what had been going on. It had spared them a lot of pain, but now that they were old enough, they looked at their earliest memories with more analytical eyes.
Evelyn gulped. The loss of her beloved husband still distressed her deeply.
"He's gone," she finally managed, feeling the tears welling up.
Gloria pressed on, "Gone where?"
Usually, Evelyn did her best to answer all of the girls' questions honestly and completely, to make sure to fill their little minds with accurate facts. This, however, was something she still couldn't bring herself to talk about. "Far, far away..." She sobbed and clutched at her chest, looking away in attempt to hide her anguish.
"When will he come back?" Gloria continued her line of questioning.
Evelyn stifled another sob and turned to Gloria again. "He won't, darling." She wiped away a tear that ran down her cheek, then took a deep breath in an effort to compose herself. As much as it hurt, she needed to comfort her granddaughter. "But you need to know that he loves you very, very much."
Evelyn hugged Gloria tightly, burying her face in the little girl's soft curls.
Sometimes the twins tried to satisfy their thirst for knowledge by asking their father.
"Dad, why don't we have a mom?" Grace began without preamble as she hoisted herself onto the chair.
"Why don't we have a mother?" Grace repeated, her voice crisp and clear. "Gloria and Gene and I. We have you and Grandma and we have more aunts and uncles than any of my classmates! But we don't have a mom."
"You have a mom," Fred mumbled distractedly. "She's just not here."
"We do?" Grace perked up, her eyes wide. "So where is she then?"
Fred chewed his lip. He didn't like to think about Charity. The recent encounter with the genie had reopened old wounds that had never healed completely. He had no idea where Charity was or how to contact her. He'd given up any hope of ever seeing her again. Thinking about all this made his stomach twist in a knot. "I don't know," he said finally, "probably very far away..."
"And is she ever coming back here?" Grace wanted to know, now eagerly leaning forward in her chair.
"I don't know..." was all the answer she could wring from Freddie.
Dissatisfied, Grace retreated to her room to play and think. She would have loved to talk things over with her sister, but Gloria was in her own room right now and Grace knew better than to disturb her.
Sometimes Gloria required time alone, away from other sims. That's why each of the girls had her own room, even though Grace would have gladly shared. Grace did not understand this strange need her sister felt - she herself dreaded loneliness and loved to be surrounded by others all the time - but she had accepted it.
It just made the times when Gloria did decide to join Grace in her games even more special.
Together, they spent hours traveling distant galaxies and discovering bizarre alien species.
Evelyn rocked Gene in her arms, absently staring at the vacant seat next to her and the vast ocean stretching out behind it. Such a jarring emptiness had Rémy's passing left in her... but she willed her thoughts back to the present moment.
Where was Freddie? His shift at work was long over and he should have been home more than an hour ago. It was not like she had needed his help with setting up things for Gene's birthday party - in truth, he would have probably just gotten in the way - but at this point, the guests were due to arrive at any moment. Fred still wasn't answering his phone.
"... and then I said to him, 'Maybe your llama will like it.'"
Freddie, Todd and Larissa guffawed at Anton's joke. He'd only just arrived in Starlight Shores and would soon be off again on his travels to the distant corners of the world. Anton Kasmir's rare visits to his arcade were always treat - he either brought back new flavors for the bubble bar or exotic herbs to plant in the garden, and he was always happy to share with the trio and take note of their opinions.
"Man, this gummy mint flavor is awesome," Freddie said. "But I need to get going now. It's my kid's birthday today."
"Really?" Larissa tilted her head. "Didn't they age up just the other day? Time flies..." She took another deep inhale.
"No, no, not the twins." Fred smiled. "The new baby."
Todd gaped at him while Larissa choked on her bubbles, coughing violently.
Of course, the first words out of Larissa's mouth were, "Why is he blue?"
"It's from his mom," Fred began, "She was blue too, kind of lightish blue but still. And I guess he just came out darker? Or something?"
"So a blue woman left her baby on your doorstep...?" Larissa asked, "Just like that?"
"Well yeah, but no. I mean, he's my kid, I guess. So yeah."
Larissa tensed. "I didn't know you were seeing someone again."
"Uh, I wasn't... I think. It kind of felt like a dream." Fred scrunched up his face, trying to remember. "But then it turned out it was real all along. And then there he was and I let her go because I'd promised."
Noticing Larissa's blank expression, Freddie scratched the back of his head and laughed nervously. "Yeah, I know, it's pretty weird, but that's what happened. It was magic."
"I... see," Larissa said. She didn't.
"I kind of thought she was Charity for a bit..." A blissful smile appeared on Fred's face. "She looked like her at least. Well, not really, but she had her hair and clothes and stuff and everything that happened... happened again! It was really weird." He sighed. "But also nice to be with Charity again, even if it wasn't real, you know?"
Larissa gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. After a short while, she managed to speak again. "So... after all this time, after all that's happened -- you're still pining after her? She left you and skipped town and you're still thinking about..." Larissa pressed her lips together into a tight line for a moment before pushing out the dreaded name through clenched teeth. "Charity?"
"Well, yeah," Freddie said, oblivious. "I mean, it's not like she wanted to leave, I think. I don't know. But I do know that I still love her!"
"I see," Larissa said again. And this time she did.
She didn't stick around for Gene's birthday party.
"I have good news," Félix announced. "I got the lab results today - the boy is in perfect health! Nothing unusual about him at all."
"Nothing unusual?!" Evelyn snapped. "What about his skin?"
Félix cleared his throat. "That was... an unfortunate choice of words. Sorry."
Evelyn raised an eyebrow. "So?"
"Well, there was nothing we could find out about that." When he saw his mother's distress, he quickly added, "But Mom, that's good news! We found nothing wrong with him. Gene is a perfectly healthy little boy."
"And after all, that's all we could ask for," Evelyn finished his thought and sighed. "Thank you, sweetie. That really is a load off my mind."
After finishing their slices of cake, the twins retreated outside to their treehouse. Even if it was just the extended family visiting, Gloria felt uncomfortable with too many people around and much preferred to only speak to one person at a time. And ideally, that person was her twin sister.
"So Grandma said that Grandpa has gone to a far away place?" Grace asked.
"And he's not coming back, yes," Gloria repeated.
Grace furrowed her brows. "That's kind of weird."
Gloria shook her head. "I know what it really means," she said. "I read about it in a book."
Her sister's bright eyes and attention rested on her expectantly, so Gloria continued, "It means that he's dead. It's what happens to sims when they get old or when there's an accident."
At first, those bright gray eyes grew wide. Then they narrowed.
Gloria shifted uncomfortably.
"What?" Gloria finally asked. "What is it?"
Grace stared off into the distance. "I asked Dad about our mother." She paused. "He said she has gone far away and he didn't know if she's coming back."
Now it was Gloria's turn to gape. There was no need for any further explanation.
Ever since they had been born, the twin's inquisitive minds had been busy absorbing information, persistently questioning the world around them, and drawing their own conclusions where no answers were to be found.
And in the same way they always treated facts that were presented to them, they accepted this newest truth they'd arrived at.
Their mother was dead.
Questions, non-answers and conclusions! That's what happens when you ask Freddie difficult stuff.
On another note, there is a new tab up at the top: Heirs. For those who were curious what everyone's exact traits are :) I tried to put them in order of when they got them, as far as I could remember.
Who would've thought that Bloom was charismatic all along? There might be some more surprises in there, actually. I try to write sims according to their traits, but sometimes I fail miserably or the characters just develop differently than originally planned, so I ignore certain traits. Like Freddie's athletic trait. I randomized him at birth, before I had decided on that generation's story. Later I started thinking about giving him a midlife crisis LTR and changing it for absent-minded or something, but changing a sim's traits so late in life feels strange... So I guess it's probably just an inborn talent he never had the grit to develop!