Besides, he still had a hard time sleeping with Kaitlin's nightly activities.
It was even worse now that Beryllium had started showing an interest in her mother's favorite pastime as well.
He much preferred it when she was down in the lab with Bismuth, helping their mother with her slightly less unsavory research.
Bloom gave Arthur reason for concern as well. Sure, he was glad he enjoyed painting as much as Arthur did himself, but he had been cooped up in his room for days, reverting back to the shy little boy he had once been.
When it was time to celebrate Bismuth's birthday, Arthur was glad to have his entire family in one room again, spending time together.
Even if it did shock him when he suddenly realized that his last little baby was going to be a teenager now!
"Everyone, you may be surprised by my attire, but there is a good reason for this. Keep all your gifts, I don't want them. Let's all go to China instead!"
Bismuth seemed a bit miffed when they told him he should at least eat his cake first. He had grown to be a very determined young man. Arthur managed to book flights for the coming week, but even that did not seem soon enough for Bismuth!
Kaitlin once again was reluctant to leave her experiments alone. Besides the amazing flame fruit bush (which worried Arthur every time he saw it burning so close to their bedroom carpet), she had even managed to grow an egg plant - no an actual EGG-plant - and a cheese plant. He supposed that after their two PlantSim sons, nothing should surprise him anymore.
The one thing that excited Kaitlin more than her research in botany was working on experiments together with Bismuth and Beryllium. Arthur had bought her the same equipment they'd had at Sims University a while back, but it took three to fully operate the machinery. Arthur was always too busy with his own work, and Bloom and Bismuth had never been too interested in science. Finally Bismuth was old enough to help his mother and sister!
Beryllium was still obsessed with finding out more about her home planet. She had even taken a part-time job at the science facility - as an alien test subject! When her parents voiced their concern, she shrugged it off.
"Well, maybe they'll be able to find out where exactly my DNA came from."
Arthur knew how bad Kaitlin felt about not being able to tell Beryllium more about her origin. All she knew was a rough direction of the solar system, but that was it.
The day of their departure for China came and Arthur watched Kaitlin water her plants one last time. He just hoped that the flame fruit bush wouldn't burn down the house while they were gone.
To be honest, Arthur hadn't booked the trip simply to satisfy his teenage son's whims. The chief of police had made it known that any employee of the police force who learned the martial arts skill would receive a raise. Still living by his grandfather's advice, he saw the chance to seize yet another opportunity. Plus, he wanted to spend some quality time with his family - the children were just growing up far too quickly.
When they arrived, however, they quickly scattered in all directions. This wasn't at all what Arthur had imagined!
Kaitlin and Beryllium were off to the Scholar's garden, where Kaitlin did what she loved to do most in unfamiliar ecosystems - collect samples. Beryllium could not resist taking a peek through the telescope, in the hopes of maybe discovering a new solar system from this different vantage point.
Bloom and Broccoli went to the market, where Bloom finally picked back up where he had left off on his charisma training, as he told Arthur proudly.
"It's been too long. I shouldn't let failure stop me."
He never did tell Arthur what exactly that failure had been, though.
At least his youngest son came along with Arthur to the Martial Arts Academy. Bismuth seemed to have a real knack for learning martial arts and received his first belt while Arthur was still reluctantly kicking at the training dummy.
In the evening, they all met at the market for dinner at least.
And since Kaitlin hadn't brought her computer, they shared a lovely evening together at the hotel.
The next morning after breakfast, there finally was a chance for the entire family to spend some quality time together.
It made Arthur glad to see his children getting along so well.
Even though Broccoli always got along with everyone - a little too well sometimes, in Arthur's opinion. Those explorers were far too old to be looking at his son with those dreamy eyes!
Arthur was somewhat annoyed when he received a phone call from a local police officer. Apparently they needed someone to help with a secret operation, and true to his grandfather's advice, Arthur felt obliged to take the opportunity.
Following the instructions, Arthur uncovered a hidden stairway.
"I'm too old for this...", he grumbled as he emerged from the murky waters of a well he'd had to dive through.
A sigh of utter relief escaped him when he finally found the chamber he had been looking for. Always seizing opportunities was good advice, but he started to wonder whether he had been taking it too literally.
When he turned in the requested relic to the police officer, he couldn't help being a little indignant.
"Well, here you go then. I really don't know why you needed a forensic analyst to do this - on his family vacation no less - but here you go."
The man smiled and tilted his head as he eyed Arthur curiously for what seemed to be a while, before finally replying.
"Maybe, maybe it is time. Time to leave the adventuring to the younger generation. You deserve rest."
Arthur wasn't sure whether to be offended or not, but he decided to just leave it at that and return to his family.
He found them all in the Scholar's Garden, bathed in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun.
They spent their last hours in China there, simply relaxing and enjoying each other's company.
Broccoli was telling Bloom about a Chinese myth he'd heard about a big green man, made entirely of leaves and grass, while Beryllium and Bismuth discussed the constellations in the night sky. He was so proud of all of them.
"You seem different.", Kaitlin's sweet voice interrupted his reverie.
He looked into Kaitlin's loving eyes and thought for a moment.
"I feel different.", he replied. "You know, all these years... all my life I've always worried about this and that. About everything, really. But now... I don't know why, but now I feel so calm. Like I've done everything right. Like I can lean back and relax and just..."
"... pass on the torch to the next generation?" , Kaitlin smiled. "To our beautiful children."
"Yes... yes, I think that's it."