Freddie sighed as he glanced around the room. The thought of hiring a maid had never crossed his mind up to this point, but keeping a household was much more difficult than he'd imagined. Things had gotten a little out of hand during Grace's absence.
Just a little.
"Dude, it reeks worse than my gym socks in here," Todd complained, his face contorted in disgust. "When did you say Grace was coming?"
"Just a couple more hours," Freddie groaned, panic rising in his gut. "Todd, I totally messed up. I wanted to have everything ready for a surprise party before she comes, but now time's running out and nothing's ready! The place is a mess, there's no food and the stereo's broken so we won't even have music..."
"I can take care of that," Todd offered helpfully. "I know my way around a wrench."
"Are you sure?" Freddie had never thought of Todd as being particularly handy. "You really know how to repair stuff?"
"Of course," Todd smiled. "It's easy. See, electronic devices are like women - sometimes they want a little TLC. So when they act stubborn, all you've gotta do is poke and prod 'em a little until they return the love."
"Uh, okay." Fred didn't quite get Todd's analogy, but at this point, any glimmer of hope was welcome. "I guess I'll get started on the cooking while you do that then."
And so Todd went to work on the stubborn stereo.
The fridge looked as dismal as the rest of the house, but there were enough ingredients for mac & cheese. Incidentally, this was one of the few things Freddie knew how to make.
Freddie found himself relaxing as he stirred the cheese into the macaroni. Things were looking up! With Todd's help, he might just be able to bring the house to a presentable state before Grace arrived.
"There, I fixed it," Todd proclaimed proudly after just a few minutes. "Now I'll just check if the remote works and--"
After an initial moment of stunned shock, Freddie's ears stopped ringing and he ran over to Todd, who was panicking beside a raging fire that had engulfed half of the living room furniture.
"Ohmyplumbob," Fred yelped. "What happened?! Everything's on fire!"
"It was the damn stereo," Todd shouted, "Why on SimPlanet didn't you get a professional to fix it?!"
Todd didn't give Freddie time to form a reply--he simply turned on his heel and started to run.
"Call the fire department," Todd called over his shoulder. "I've gotta go, sorry!"
Todd had forgotten he had an important appointment...
... someplace not on fire.
Fortunately, Freddie wasn't left alone for too long.
"Dad, I just saw Todd running--PLUMBOB! What happened?!"
"I can see that, dad!"
"Why isn't the fire alarm going off?!"
"Batteries! For my controller..."
All the while, the macaroni and cheese had been simmering on the stove. Every last bit of liquid had slowly evaporated and now, during this brief exchange, the inevitable happened.
"The mac and cheese," Freddie whined, close to tears.
Fortunately, Gene had the presence of mind to run to the storage closet and bring back two fire extinguishers.
"Take this," he growled as he shoved one into his father's arms. "Just do what I'm doing."
Freddie grabbed the fire extinguisher and followed his son's lead.
It took longer than it should have...
... and many treasured possessions were lost.
The fire was a veritable inferno, devouring everything in its path.
But somehow, finally...
... they got it under control.
Father and son stood amidst the debris that had once been Evelyn's carefully selected furniture. They were sweaty and covered in soot, but otherwise unharmed. The same could not be said for the house.
(To add insult to injury, the dirty laundry on the floor was the only thing impervious to flames.)
After a long silence, Freddie asked hopefully, "Can you... can you do some magic or something?"
Gene sighed. "I guess I could try..."
What other option was there, really?
Gene closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to his temples in an attempt to focus. His relationship with his inborn magic had always bee a fickle one. It was frustrating to say the least - he could feel the enormous power flowing through his body, steadily growing and building up pressure to an uncomfortable level, yet he was unable to release it.
The most vexing part of it all was that he couldn't even talk to anyone about it. He'd long since given up on trying to convince other people of his magical nature. After being teased mercilessly as a child for his blue skin and crazy stories about being a genie, Gene's athletic achievements and the fact that he rode his very own motorbike to school had finally earned him a spot as one of the cool kids in his teenage years. He was not going to risk losing that again.
Once he'd tried to explain the problem to his sports coach at school. Circumspectly, of course, without ever mentioning the dreaded word magic. Seeing how intently the coach listened, Gene had actually dared to hope for some helpful advice. No such luck. The coach had laughed, slapped Gene on the shoulder and said something about "teenage hormones" and "walking it off".
The only sim that both believed in and encouraged Gene's magic was his dad, and right now he needed Gene's help. What better reason was there to give it another try? Maybe this would finally be the day Gene learned to actively control his powers!
Gene pictured the house the way it had been before... before this distaster. He took his time, making sure he visualized every last corner in minute detail. There was a tingling sensation in his fingertips, then a feeling of warmth and then almost unbearable heat. Gene held on tightly to his image of the house and released his magic.