The Gooder Public School of Starlight Shores prided itself in finding and cultivating each and every student's innate talents, and finding ways to make others benefit from them as well - for the gooderment of simkind, as the school motto proclaimed. (They put considerably less emphasis on the teaching of grammar, unfortunately.)
Charity Best, a recent offshoot of the once wealthy Best family, was a timid and quiet girl. Although she was very bright - or perhaps because of it - she hadn't been able to make any friends at school.
The school's administration smelled another success story in the making and decided it would be a gooder [sic] idea to pair the shy girl up with a particularly carefree boy whose biggest accomplishment thus far had been making the most friends in the shortest amount of time. Perhaps, they reasoned, he could bring her out of her shell while she might spark some enthusiasm for studying in him.
And so it was that one day Charity Best was sent to spend the afternoon at the Dutiel family's house.
"Hello, I'm Charity. It's very nice to meet you," she greeted, shaking his hand formally.
"I'm Fréderic, but you can call me Freddie. Everybody does."
"What do people call you?" he prompted when she remained silent.
Charity was the strangest girl Freddie had ever met. For starters, she didn't know or show interest in any of the video games he suggested they play - instead she talked about books and asked Freddie if he'd read them too. Of course he hadn't. They sounded super boring.
She was nice though. Freddie tried hard to keep listening to her talk.
A familiar flash of red was a welcome sight for him, however.
"Hey Larissa," he called. "We're over here!"
"Fred! I just saw the coolest thing," Larissa shouted, running up to him. "Did you watch it? Today's episode of Freezer Bunny Boarding?" She practically bounced with excitement, her gaze still fixed on Fred, who looked at her with wide eyes. "Freezer Bunny finally did a triple nollie kiwi flip with his eyes closed! It was SO awesome!"
Charity, who wasn't spared even a glance by Larissa, smiled nervously and looked back and forth between the two other children.
"Aw man," Freddie replied, disappointment evident on his face. "I didn't notice the time... I've been out here all afternoon. I'll have to watch the re-run tomorrow morning!"
"Ah -- this is Charity, by the way," he added quickly. "We've been... uh... playing, I guess."
"Oh, I didn't see her there," Larissa remarked, her expression going blank as she finally turned her head towards the other girl. "She kind of blends into the wall."
Charity only managed a nervous smile.
"Hey!" Larissa's voice was back to its usual force. "Look Fred, there's Todd! -- HEY TODD, LET'S PLAY TAG," she yelled as she started running towards the newcomer.
Her reply was quiet and uncertain. "Uhm... I guess so."
"Great!" Freddie exclaimed as he darted off.
But soon, the game came to a halt. Charity was doubled over, coughing and gasping for air.
"Are you alright?" Freddie's concern was genuine.
After much struggling, Charity finally managed to catch her breath. "Yeah," she huffed, her voice still unsteady. "It happens sometimes. I have a medical condition and-- I'm not supposed to run too much or get too excited." She put her complex explanation, picked up from various doctors, into simple terms. She wasn't used to talking to other children, but she was determined to try her best.
"Oh." Freddie didn't quite know what to say. "That sucks."
After Freddie told his friends that they needed to pick something else to do for Charity's sake, Todd readily agreed and showed the timid girl a colorful beetle he had found on the ground.
Larissa just made gagging noises.
After a long day of playing, Charity was picked up by her mother and Todd eventually made his way home as well.
Larissa had somehow evaded the adults' detection and stayed around the house long past Freddie's bedtime. Both her and Todd stayed over like this quite frequently, and Fred surely wasn't going to complain.
"Why are your shoes white, Rissa?" Freddie was getting sleepy, his thoughts almost blurring into dreams. But this was something he'd always wondered about.
"Because it's my favorite color, silly!"
"Oh." He let out one more big yawn before drifting off to sleep.
Leisure Day came, and with it Félix' birthday!
As per Félix' request, they celebrated his birthday with a pool party.
"Happy birthday, little bro!"
Catching up with the siblings - Evelyn and Emily's favorite pastime! The two sisters could talk for hours about their children.
Slowly, Emily was getting over the death of her late husband Javed. Having new grandchildren to care for helped keep her mind off of the loss of her one true love.
Still, it pained Evelyn to see her big sister with greying hair and no romantic partner to share the experience of growing old with.
"Editor in chief of the school newspaper, huh," Nikki Kerman said. "So you're, like, good at writing or whatever, right?"
Francis grinned. Score! "Well, not to brag, but..." He shrugged, quirked his eyebrow and shot her a lopsided smile. "There's only one editor in chief, after all."
"So, uh, can you help me with this essay thing I have to write? I need it for Monday or it'll be, like, detention or whatever..."
"Uhm, sure..." Was she coming onto him? Asking for help with a simple essay... there had to be some ulterior motive there! Double score! "I'll be glad to help. Just come on over after school tomorrow." Francis shot her another grin, disarmingly charming - he hoped!
Freddie had been allowed to invite his friends to the party - not like anything would have kept Todd and Larissa away anyway - and even Charity had come.
Eager to make the shy girl laugh, the boys tried to show her how to have fun.
"Watch as Mr Muscle prepares for his blast-off into the sky," Todd announced, strutting along the diving board and flexing his 'muscles'.
Well, he certainly did manage to make Charity laugh!
What a ridiculous get-up! Why didn't that girl have a real bathing suit? Larissa was delighted. Showing that photo around at school was going to be hilarious!
Charity had just been given a big slice of cake by Freddie's mom and was looking for a place to sit when Larissa stepped in her path.
"You sure you should be eating that?" the red-haired girl asked sweetly.
Larissa smirked. "Cake makes you fat, you know," she stated, giving Charity an appraising once-over.
Charity's eyes narrowed. She understood the hidden insult, but was unable or unwilling to return it.
"Come on Freddie, you're getting all pruney and wrinkly like all those old people here," Larissa teased. "The pool is boring, let's go play some games instead! I'll tell Todd."
The boys didn't have to be asked twice.
"I told Charity to come too," Freddie informed his friends.
"What did you do that for?!" Larissa moaned. "She's so lame. She probably doesn't even know how to play!"
"She's not that bad."
"Yeah," Todd agreed. "She's alright. And she smells nice."
Larissa made a farting noise with her mouth.
"Oh, there she is!" Fred spied a mass of blonde hair coming up the stairs. "Hey Charity, over here!"
"I... I don't know where to sit," Charity complained quietly.
"Well, too bad," Larissa piped up. "It's a three-player game anyway."
"Don't listen to her, there's another controller right here." Freddie gestured towards it. "Come on, it's fun!"
And so they spent the rest of the afternoon.
Again, Larissa stayed around long after most guests had left.
As promised, Nikki Kerman came home from school with Francis the next day.
"Thanks for agreeing to help me or whatever. You're, like, so sweet," she giggled and briefly touched his arm. Francis blushed.
When Nikki confidently strode into the house ahead of him, he quickly checked his breath with his hand. Fresh. Phew! He was ready.
"Well then, let's get started," she said, sitting down. "I need 1500 words."
"Uhm... okay." Francis was a little confused. "This isn't my room though."
"So? Does it matter? I thought you were going to help me or whatever," she urged.
This was not what he had expected at all.
Meanwhile, someone else was having much better luck flirting.
Zebulon Lack and Félix had met during debate club at school and had immediately hit it off. When they were asked to prepare a speech together and found themselves alone in Félix' room, their school assignment was soon forgotten...
Unlike his younger sister Larissa, Zebulon was extremely shy and self-conscious.
Having this little kid interrupt his first kiss was more than Zebulon could handle.
"Sorry I made your friend run away," Freddie mumbled.
Félix laughed congenially. "It's okay little bro, this is your room too after all. Zeb will get over it." After a short pensive pause, he continued, "You know, I think it's time I asked Mom and Dad for a room of my own."
"Oh..." Freddie's shoulders slumped.
"Hey, don't look so sad, little buddy!" Félix leaned down to give his brother a hug. "You get to keep this room and all the toys. And you can even have the pink car now, Freddie! I know how much you always liked it."
"But you don't have to leave, Félix! Please! I promise I won't scare your friends away anymore," the younger boy pleaded.
"Oh Freddie, you know I still love you! You can come visit me in my new room whenever you want - just knock first, alright?"
Francis and his sisters might have had their differences, but they did agree on one thing...
Their parents were gross!
"They're so embarrassing!"
"What did we do to deserve this?!"
Rémy and Evelyn were still as happy together as ever. They spent most of their days by the pool or at the beach, with Evelyn floating on a pool lounger while Rémy practiced his diving.
"Can you believe it?" Evelyn continued her account of her recent visits with the extended family. "My own brother - Leader of the Free World!"
Just a few days later, the nursery upstairs had been remodeled into a new room for Félix.
Finally he and Zebulon could enjoy some peaceful time by themselves.
The adjoining room had become Félix' new laboratory.
... maybe it was time to find a new hobby, though.
Zebulon Lack. Zebulon.
The Lack family gives me so much joy.
I imagine Esteban's rise to power as something like House of Cards. Maybe because that show is pretty much all I know about American politics :D