Just to make it clear, the time skip ended up being a year long – so the triplets are now in their last year of high school and have just turned eighteen.
Faye sidled up to her sister who had been eyeing her appearance in the mirror for the last five minutes, fingers worrying at each other absently. They didn’t need to leave for another five minutes, and Faye didn’t exactly care about getting to school on time (especially on the first day back), but she also wanted to see what her friends were wearing. The school was trying out a new thing – allowing the sixth year students to wear their usual clothes, rather than uniforms.
Faye was quite happy with her outfit, and had spent a few minutes last night picking one out. Skye seemed a lot less happy. “You look fine,” Faye said sweetly, nudging her.
“Thanks,” Skye said. The tone of her voice was flat. Faye wasn’t sure if she had accepted the compliment or not.
“What are you worried about?” Faye prompted when her sister didn’t start the conversation. Skye didn’t need to say anything, but her eyes rose to examine her hair. Skye had finally found the confidence to dress how she wanted, and dye her hair how she wanted. She hadn’t quite worked up the courage for a piercing, but the satisfaction she had when looking in the mirror was immense. She was happy with how she looked. It felt right.
That didn’t mean she wasn’t nervous to appear in school with black hair and bright red ends. Although some students had left school, there were still some that Skye was uneasy around – including most of Faye’s friends. It was a wonder that Faye had decided to stay in school, but since her fourth and fifth year grades had been on par with hers, their parents had tried everything they could to keep Faye in sixth year.
“I mean,” Faye reached up to run her hands through Skye’s hair, something that she always loved her mother doing. Faye? Not so much. “I guess – it suits you. You know? It’s just a bit…. Like, woah, at first. People shouldn’t bother you for dyeing it, even if it is a bit weird.”
Skye looked heavenwards. If Summer was here, they would have shared a glance, but she was wolfing down breakfast after waking up late. “Wow, thanks, you’ve made me feel a lot better.”
Faye looked confused at the sarcastic reply, but Skye didn’t bother elaborating on how fantastic Faye was at giving backhanded compliments.
“Anyway,” Faye grinned, quickly recovering, “has Felix seen your new hair yet?”
Skye groaned and shrugged her sister’s arm off her shoulder. She reached down to grab her bag off the floor and swing it onto her back. It was light today, but tomorrow she’d be weighed down with all the textbooks that teachers foisted onto her. “Between you and dad, honestly. Nothing’s happening, we’re just friends.”
“You camp over at his! All the time! You can’t tell me nothing has ever happened,” Faye pouted, checking that her phone and purse were in her bag. Hopefully there was a pen at the bottom of her bag somewhere; either that or she’d borrow one from Uma.
“Nothing has,” Skye mumbled, trying to keep her face turned away from Faye’s prying eyes. If her sister could see her face, she’d immediately catch onto the disappointment.
Even if Skye had the confidence to dye her hair, she didn’t have the confidence to closely analyse her and Felix’s friendship.
While his siblings were all returning to school, Liam was travelling back to his grandfather’s. In his heart it was ‘home’ but he tried not to refer to it as such in front of his parents. He didn’t want them to think he felt like he didn’t belong in their house, but the truth was he felt so at home with his grandad that nothing else would compare.
Of course, part of this feeling was because of his two best friends.
Finn and Serenity were waiting for him when he returned, skateboarding up and down his driveway and chatting between themselves. Well, saying Serenity was skating was like saying a paper aeroplane could take passengers into the sky. She was wobbling, arms swinging wildly, and Finn was literally skating circles around her while laughing and occasionally handing out a piece of advice. There were two empty cups in the grass – Liam assumed his grandad had given them tea while they had waited – and he scooped down to pick them up.
“You think you could do any better than Ser here?” Finn asked by way of greeting.
“Much better before I grazed my elbow,” Serenity pouted. Nonetheless, she put herself back on the board with a determination Liam admired, even if he thought it was somewhat delusional. “Missed you.”
Liam smiled at her briefly, though it was Finn’s nod that caught his eyes. His usual stoic face was brightened with a wide smile, and it was odd to see him so full of expression. Liam rolled his shoulders and tried to ignore the way his heart fluttered at that. The past year had been confusing, with Liam feeling growing feelings for Finn while his crush on Serenity remained strong. Now he couldn’t decide if he liked either, or if he liked one more than the other, but he did know that whenever he received some of Finn’s rare acceptance it made his cheeks warm.
“I missed you both too. I should go in and see my granddad, though. I’ll catch you tomorrow morning for school?”
“We’ll pick you up on the way. Maybe Ser will be brave enough to skate there.”
“Fat chance,” she mumbled.
Sam laughed. “Happy to be back?”
“Of course! There’s a lot more space here, and a lot fewer siblings,” Liam grinned.
Sam pulled out of the hug and took the empty cups from Liam. He placed them by the sink and began to rinse them out. “Well, you certainly make this old place a bit livelier. So do your friends. They helped me clean the gutters last week, did they tell you?”
“Yeah, they did.” Liam recalled some very entertaining simchats from Finn. They had agreed to pop in on Sam every so often. Liam didn’t like leaving him in the house alone, and there were a number of things that he was becoming too old to do. Knowing that his grandad wasn’t climbing up on any ladders alone put his worries to rest.
“You have some very lovely friends, Liam.”
“I do, don’t I?”
“Fa-aye,” James replied, turning around and seeing her approaching with what could only be described as a sweet, angelic expression. “Well if that’s not a face that is going to try to convince me around to something, I don’t know what is.”
Faye giggled and twirled hair around her fingers. “I was wondering –“
“Oh here we go,” James said, with a mock sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Faye pushed her bottom lip out. “There’s a concert on next week that me and my friends want to go to – we’ve liked this band for aaaages – please please please can we go?”
“I have a feeling that this concert isn’t on a weekend,” James noted, rolling his eyes. Where they lived had no decent venue, so she would be traveling some hours to get there and back. While she was perfectly capable of doing that on her own, she would have to miss school the next day. “You know what my answer will be.”
“To ask mum?” Faye said hopefully. James shook his head, though he couldn’t help but laugh at his daughter’s hopeful face. He’d been in that situation many times. In fact, he’d bunked off from school for this very same reason. Best not to tell Faye that, though…
He patted the counter for her and hopped up onto the surface the other side of the oven, being careful not to bang his head on the shelves. “She’ll say the same thing as me, and you know it. Listen, Faye, your grades have been great and you took school a lot more seriously last year. We’re proud of you – but you can’t stop now.”
“I’d miss one day,” Faye whined. “It wouldn’t even be the full day, we’d be back by lunchtime. Pleeeease daddy?”
James wasn’t the best at saying no to his daughters (and they all knew how to wrap him around their little fingers), but he knew they had to continue being firm with Faye if they wanted this to keep up. “It’s just half a day now, but then you’ll find another concert or another reason to stay off school… I’m sure they’ll be back next year, and by that point you’ll be in university somewhere and can go to it if you choose.”
“Right,” Faye muttered, shoulders slumping. “University.” It was said with enough disdain that it was clear neither James nor Jessica had managed to change her mind. He hated to think that his daughter would waste her potential elsewhere, especially as she seemed to have no other hobbies, but university would be good for her if she could only find a direction in life.
James slipped off the counter, grabbing a sponge from the corner and mopping up a few splashes of sauce on the hob. “Well, where do you imagine yourself this time next year?” he pressed. “It’s certainly not going to be in this house without a job.”
“Ugh,” Faye groaned. Here they go again… “I don’t know. Wherever life takes me!”
“Faye, you don’t have a Scooby about the real world,” James said, chucking the sponge back into its designated corner. “Things don’t tend to work out like that for most people.”
“Since when am I most people?” she pouted, flicking her hair over her shoulders like she was in some kind of shampoo advert. Secretly, James didn’t doubt that Faye would manage to sort something out. She was the kind of person that didn’t need to work hard to have things fall into place for her – usually because other people did all the work. James had known enough of those people in university to know that he did not want his daughter to end up like that.
“You know what I mean.” He slipped his glasses off, cleaning them on the hem of his shirt, eyeing the fuzzy shape of Faye still frowning at him. He was aware there was only so far he could push Faye before her mother’s stubbornness reared its head and she did the opposite of what they wanted, so he decided to tactfully change the subject. “I don’t suppose you want to join us for the pictures tonight?”
“And watch superheroes beat each other up?” Faye rolled her eyes. “I’ll pass.”
“Hey Uma,” Summer grinned, drifting towards her friend in the first section of the library. There was a truly enormous book next to her, and as Summer approached she could see that it was a hefty tomb on analysing the various world religions. Sum could only be thankful that she had chosen not to take religious studies as a class. “That looks fun.”
“It would be more fun if I didn’t feel like I was doing weights every time I picked it up,” she giggled, pulling the bobble out from her hair and redoing her ponytail. Summer had a brief flash of Uma with her hair down and felt her cheeks warm. Even now, Summer still felt awed by her beauty. “I can’t believe you’ve already had your last shift at the bookstore! The last year or so has been great fun having you there.”
“I know,” Summer nodded. It hadn’t been her choice to quit – the manager had deemed it unnecessary to have a second employee now that school was back in session, since last year hadn’t been busy enough to warrant it. It had served the purpose that Summer had wanted it to, however; she and Uma were now firmly friends, and even spent the odd evening together outside of school.
“Anyway, more time for writing I suppose,” she said cheerfully, rubbing out a few pencil marks on her paper and blowing the dust away. Summer slid her hands into her hoodie pocket. Sixth year hadn’t only given them the freedom to wear normal clothes, but also had delivered to them the joy of free periods. Technically these were to work, as Uma was so studiously demonstrating, but most students caught up on sleep or spent time with their friends.
“I’ve finally finished the second book,” Summer grinned, feeling the excitement building in her chest. After years of editing and re-editing her first book, she decided that she had to move on sooner or later. Sum had far too many ideas floating around her head to stay stuck on one novel.
“Oh! Did you figure out the ending?”
“Yeah. Shanna and her girlfriend end up in hiding. She doesn’t know if her friends are alive. I have plenty of ideas for the next book.”
“I don’t know. It just sort of comes to me when I’m writing and dreaming I guess.”
The bell rang, its high pitched screech making Sum wince. Uma smiled and stood, stretching her long arms above her head and providing Summer with a view she tried not to appreciate too much.
“Yeah!” Summer brightened, watching as Uma slid the book back into her bag with a grunt. “I really enjoyed it. It’s the first time I’ve read a graphic novel.”
“I really love them. There’s something wonderful about seeing the characters but still being able to read. I’d love to be able to do something like that one day.”
“Imagine that! That would be so awesome. After we finish school,” Uma grinned. “Anyway, I need to run across the school to art, so I’ll see you later. Bye!”
With that, Uma rushed passed. Summer smiled after her, a warm feeling in her belly. Did Uma want to continue being friends after school? Nothing would have made her happier.
“Don’t you find it difficult to sleep with that man’s brains above you?” Bethany asked, eyeing up the interesting art behind him. This was actually the first time Bethany had seen his room, despite their long friendship, mostly because they saw each other in the lab enough that they didn’t feel the need to see each other outside of it.
“It’s oddly comforting,” Loxley shrugged. Bethany snorted to show she wasn’t surprised by Lox’s odd love of science. Febe – who was very successfully taking over Lukas’ position in the lab – had taken advantage of this by allowing Lox to volunteer at the lab alongside Bethany’s internship. They both still worked there, within whatever capacity they were allowed to, and were surprisingly respected by the academics working there. Scientists tended to appreciate other lovers of their discipline.
Now, unfortunately, the situation had changed. At the end of the year Bethany would begin studying the degree she had already been accepted into despite official applications not even opening yet. Febe was wary of having Loxley on his own in the lab – not because he was younger, but because she hadn’t forgotten his behaviour when trying to uncover Lukas’ mystery. She didn’t quite seem to believe he had dropped it, which made Loxley think she knew more than she was letting on… but he had promised to let it lie, and he would continue to do so.
“What’s your plan then? I don’t know if Febe is about to let you work in the labs.”
“I was thinking of applying to go to the uni anyway. I might as well, right? School has taught me everything it can.”
For most people, this would have been an arrogant statement. Bethany knew it was anything but. Lox devoured information like it was the oxygen he needed to breathe. He wouldn’t be much younger than anyone else at university, and he would maybe even be able to skip straight into second year with the number of advanced classes he was doing this year.
“Well, biochemistry I expect. It’s more what I want to do my postgraduate course on. Might as well think ahead.”
Bethany laughed, though she didn’t doubt that Lox would be advancing there as quickly as he could. He didn’t know the concept of struggling with anything academic.
“True, but is that where I want to go? I’m not sure yet. I’ll start looking into it soon. Are you thinking of going into student accommodation or staying at home?”
Bethany puffed up her cheeks. “However costly it may be, I want to move out. We could flat-share. That would be fun.”
“Yeah, though I’m not sure my parents would be happy that their house is suddenly empty after the chaos it usually is.” Not that this would stop him, of course. He only felt some sympathy for his parents to suddenly have no children around, though none of the triplets had fully decided what they were doing or where they were going – despite James’ continued attempts to get them to decide.
“I would think they’d enjoy having a quiet house after having five kids…”
Loxley laughed. “You’re probably right.”
Summer was what they referred to as a ‘gardener’ in writing terms. She planted the seeds of her book with a vague idea of where the story was going, what it would eventually bloom into, but then she let it run its course and went with the flow.
It was the first time she felt completely at a loss with this style of writing. There was a big decision that Shanna needed to make and she needed to make it before Summer could write anything else… the problem was, Summer didn’t know which route to take. Her writing intuition told her she was missing something, but her thoughts were interrupted with the familiar smell of Uma’s sweet perfume. Summer looked up from her blank document and greeted her friend with a shy smile.
“Mhhmm,” Summer mumbled in reply.
“Well, I found out something yesterday that I think will help you in a whole different way!” She produced a leaflet with a flourish. “The university asked me to put it up in the window, and I thought you might find it interesting?
“A writing mentor?” Summer asked, excitement and apprehension growing in equal parts.
“I know! And see, all you need to do is fill the application, attach a two thousand word piece of prose, and you’ve got a chance at it. She can help with publishing and editing too! Sum, it’s meant to be. You can finally get your work out there!”
Well, Summer thought, so long as she changed the name of the lead’s girlfriend…
“It is an amazing opportunity,” Summer agreed, her mind already whirring as she tried to plan her two thousand word story. She knew she was a good writer – she knew it like Lox knew he was smart – but she wasn’t so arrogant to think that she didn’t have anything left to learn. This would improve her ability immensely, and give her the network needed to publish…
“You have to do it!”
There was one ‘but’ on her mind. Summer didn’t want to be that person – the person that wanted to go where her friends were going – but the worry that Uma would leave to go to university far away and forget about her was so intense it took Summer’s breath away.
“I will,” Summer smiled half-heartedly. There was no way Uma would hang around this sleepy town. She was smart, she had endless possibilities even if she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. Summer saw the future clearly in her mind’s eye – as clearly as she saw what she needed to write – and she knew that Uma would move away, their friendship falling by the wayside, and the only evidence that they had ever known each other in the first place would be Uma’s name in the front of the book, thanking her for being Summer’s inspiration.
“And I think I know how I need to start book three,” Summer murmured out loud, the idea falling into place in her mind. The future was just as uncertain for her main character, Shanna, as it was for Summer – but there was really only ever one choice to give them the best shot at their dreams.
a/n: a few things:
Uma was made by plumbmeow over on tumblr, and Serenity is a spare from blurrpxls’ legacy on the same site. While I’m listing sims I haven’t made, Kane was made by simphonious and various university side characters were made by simarex. I’m very bad at letting people know that, oops.
“don’t have a Scooby” means you don’t have a clue. It’s Cockney rhyming slang – I don’t have a Scooby doo rhymes with clue! It’s not as used as I’m hank (I’m hank marvin = starving) and saying someone is telling porkies (porky pies = lies) which people may be more familiar with.