Hey friends! Quick heads up that Loxley looks quite different from his teenaged self. That is because he was edited, because my sliders tend to hate children and teens, but the edited version looked bad aged up so I went back to the original file. You can see A LOT of James in him, so I’m gonna say he’s just grown into his features and lost the little puppy fat he had.
Also, I gotta recon and say that Loxley will be lecturing the week after next when Law got Echo’s message.
“Don’t you just love it when the pictures don’t show the worst bits of the house?” Jasmine asked, nudging her shoulder into Kane’s as he snorted. The wind blasted into the exposed porch and he tugged on the strings to his hood, tightening it around his neck. Jasmine didn’t seem to notice the cold; Law wondered if her stomach had long ago become used to all weathers given how often she liked to have it exposed.
Law half listened to his dad’s response, his attention on his phone instead. He stared at the message Echo had left him the week before, chewing on his bottom lip. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say, or even if he did want to say something. His mind had been going circles since and he had barely slept; it was a relief that Saturday had finally come around. He could feel the struggle in keeping his eyes open, especially after the boring house tour. Law had already taken one look at the outside and turned his nose up, but he stuck to his internal promise not to say anything that would change the minds of his father or Jasmine.
Jasmine turned to face her partner and walked slowly backwards, her trainers stepping on the corner of a weed poking up through the wooden boards. Law tucked his phone away, the weight reassuring in his back pocket, and tucked his hands into his front ones. They both looked at her expectantly.
She beamed at them. “So that’s a no from me. You two?”
“A definite no,” Kane muttered, tugging his sleeves down his forearms. Law shivered at the sudden blast of wind and wished he had bought a jacket. “Law?”
“Whatever you both decide is fine by me,” Law shrugged, peering up at the sky. It was painted with a watery blue today, the cold sapping the strength from the sky, but at least it was pretty. He pretended not to notice the shrug Kane sent Jasmine’s way, and her answering roll of the eyes.
“We both know you have an opinion, Law. You don’t have to hold your tongue for us.” Jasmine tilted her head to the side, studying him. He guessed it was obvious something was on his mind, but it had been a long time since Law opened up to Jas. Come to think of it, it was a long time since Law had opened up to anyone.
“It’s your future,” Law shrugged, his voice even. “I want you two to be happy.”
Kane’s gaze swung from Jas to his son. “What about you?”
“I’ll be off to uni in a couple of years, dad.”
“But it’ll still be your home. You can’t never visit. What would I do without you?”
Law snorted. “I’m sure you’ll amuse yourselves.”
“Well…” Jas trailed off suggestively, making both of them blush and Kane grumble a complaint under his breath. She laughed and hooked her arms through theirs. “Law, our future is your future too. So stop shutting up and tell us what you think. It’s not like you to be this quiet.”
She nudged Law playfully. Law didn’t know what to say in return so he just nudged her back, and so began a war between them as they walked home, resulting in bruised ribs the next day.
“So, umm, this is my room.” Eilidh finished with a nervous giggle, encompassing her entire room with a hand gesture. She tucked her hair behind her ear and shifted her weight from one leg to the other, listening to the creak of her floorboards. “Much nicer than the rest of the house.”
“Yeah, what’s with all the old pictures?”
“Something about my grandparents. I think mum is too afraid to change the house. But she let me do whatever I want with my room.” Eilidh smiled proudly. She’d done the entire room by herself, not counting Law’s occasional help painting when they were eleven. Everything had been hand-picked by her, and she’d even braved the IKEA instructions on putting her desk together. Everything about this room was hers, and she loved it.
“It’s nice,” Rhoan said, nodding approvingly, and then their conversation trailed off into silence.
Eilidh hurried over to her cat stereo and turned it on so they could at least have the radio for background noise. They had met up last week with Law to avoid this exact problem, but it was no less awkward for it. She picked at her chapped lips and looked at Rhoan who had followed her to the radio, clearly just as unsure as she was.
“Okay!” she said brightly. “This is weird. Why is this so weird?”
Rhoan laughed and the spell was broken. “I don’t know. I guess we’re so used to thinking of each other as Law’s friend?”
“Maybe,” Eilidh nodded. “I mean, if you’d like, we can go out for a walk or back to the arcade. There’s, uh, not much to do here, if I’m honest.”
“No, it’s fine. Let’s just talk.”
“What’s your mum like?” Rhoan asked, fiddling with the sleeve of his jacket. He’d managed to get it dirty, somehow, and Eilidh wondered how much it was driving him up the wall.
“She’s nice. She doesn’t really understand me, but she tries, and lets me do what I want most of the time. Of course I know your parents are like, super activists.”
Rhoan burst into laughter. “No, they’re not. They just go to marches a lot and have a lot of debates with their friends. My mum is a psychology lecturer, and my dad is a robotics expert. Crazy smart, like Law.”
“Oh, so did they pay for you to get into the smart school?” Eilidh asked sweetly, the teasing glint clear in her eye. Rhoan chuckled.
“That was all on my own merit, thank you very much. My dad did go there when he was a teenager, but that’s unrelated.”
Eilidh snorted. “Whatever you need to tell yourself, Rhoan.” She wandered over to her bed and patted the space next to her.
“So from what Law said you’ve had quite a few girlfriends.”
Rhoan blinked. “Oh, wow, we’re going there already?”
Eilidh glared at him, but then her face broke into a smile. It was like the sun coming out from behind clouds. “I just wanted to know what I was getting myself into.”
Rhoan pursed his lips and pretended to think. “Should I be insulted…?” he asked aloud, laughing when Eilidh swatted at him. “I guess I’ve had some. I mean, to Law, everyone’s experienced. Lord knows the boy doesn’t want to look up from his school work.”
Eilidh giggled at that. “I did ask him if he’d beat you up for me if you broke my heart.”
Rhoan looked moderately terrified by this. “Shit, he could too. Have you ever seen him do the fighting stuff? He moves like a blur.”
Eilidh hooked an arm around his shoulders, hand curling against the hard leather of his jacket. Rhoan looked at her in surprise, but he quickly masked that into curiosity, especially when she shushed him with a finger.
“He reassured me that I could take care of you if you hurt me.”
“Hey, does taking care of me mean you’ll kiss me?” Rhoan looked at her in amusement, his hands fluttering uselessly in his lap. Despite his easy confidence, he didn’t seem to know what to do with them. Or, maybe, Eilidh though with a smile, he didn’t know what to do with her.
“So long as you’re a better kisser than the guys in my school, yes.”
“And here you are accusing me of being a heartbreaker,” he said, eyes twinkling. She laughed at him softly, inching closer to him, and her minty breath tickled his cheek and neck.
Then she did what she’d been threatening to do and kissed him, her lips soft at first. Curious; exploring. He let her set the pace until she settled, her hand coming to rest on his chest where he was sure his heart was pounding wildly enough to be felt through his thin top. The warm weight of her hand was amazing, but better was her mouth, and soon enough Rhoan took the lead, speeding up, growing bold and firm. His hand rose from his lap to her neck, smoothing up her skin and over her jaw, thumb stroking her cheek. She smelled of vanilla perfume and mint chewing gum and coconut conditioner, and her hair was as silky as it looked.
Rhoan could have kissed her forever.
As with every night, Law fought to unstick the bottom drawer to fetch his pyjamas, giving each side a well-practiced jerk to open enough of a sliver to tug his clothes out. His phone buzzed from on top of the drawer, its sound multiplied by the hard wood, and Law chucked his clothes onto his bed to read the text. He wasn’t surprised that Rhoan was around at Eilidh’s (he’d spent most of the time since their last meeting talking about how much he liked her, even when Law had clearly tuned out), and he quickly offered up the sofa for his friend in need. Then, while he was on the phone, he checked his messages with Chase and rolled his eyes at the latest tease.
Law was still working on his retort to Chase when the door buzzed, and he realised he hadn’t told his dad about their unexpected guest.
Law showed Rhoan into their kitchen. While Rhoan had walked to Law’s house plenty of times, he had almost always waited outside while Law had rushed in to get his things. Partly it was because Law’s house was his own little private space, and cramped enough as it was, but it was also that it was nothing on Rhoan’s clean, modern build. Everything that could be automated was automated, and it was bright and spotless. In contrast Law’s tiny flat was dull, with windows that could use a clean, and appliances that had been old when Law was born. Nothing but the sofa had been updated in the room since he could remember.
Rhoan, of course, didn’t bat an eyelid when he swooped into the room to grab a chair and twist it around so he could sit and face Law on the sofa. He hid his yawn behind his hand.
“Sorry to be a pain. But hey, this is your place! Why have you never invited me get any further than the hallway or your bedroom again?”
“C’mon, we both know you’re dying to talk about your date.”
Rhoan grinned and said nothing about the topic change. “Okay, it was amazing. At first it was so awkward, but then we kissed, and things were fine after that. We talked about so much stuff. It was nice –“
They both looked up as the door creaked.
“Hi, Rhoan. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Hey, Mr Williams. Thanks for letting me stay.”
“No problem. Anything I need to tell Elspeth about the date?” Kane asked, raising his eyebrows and trying not to laugh at Rhoan’s sudden discomfort.
“Dad,” Law complained. “Rhoan doesn’t like being teased when he can’t be teased back.”
Rhoan snorted but said nothing, wisely not taking the opportunity to banter. He didn’t know much about Kane, but it was never a good idea to shoot the breeze until you knew what was off the table to laugh about.
Rhoan gave his best dazzling smile. “I was a true gentlemen, I give you my word.”
Kane laughed. “Somehow I don’t believe that, but I’m sure Law can handle you.”
Before Rhoan could make some rude joke, Law viciously jabbed his elbow into Rhoan’s ribs, who disguised his yelp with a laugh. “Can I stay over at Rhoan’s tomorrow, dad? School is off on Monday but the library is open to work in, even though buses aren’t on.”
“Of course,” Kane shrugged. “Can never complain about you doing more work. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
They chorused their goodnights and then Law mumbled something about changing into his PJ’s, avoiding Rhoan’s suspicious looks behind Kane’s back.
“How did you sleep through my dad’s morning routine?” Law snorted, closing the kitchen door hard enough to wake his friend up. Rhoan groaned.
“When there’s a will, there’s a way. So, he’s gone? Why’d you pretend you’re sleeping over at mine tonight?” He gave a mock gasp and widened his eyes. “Unless you’re sleeping over at another boy’s house?”
“Shut up!” Law hissed, his cheeks growing hot. “And no. Chase invited us and Eilidh to a party at Tee’s.”
“And you lied to your dad. I’m loving this new law-breaking Law,” Rhoan smirked. “Are you even going to drink?”
“I’ve had a drink before,” Law protested.
“A bottle of WKD does not count as alcohol, my dude. You text Eilidh, I’ll go make myself beautiful, and we can chill at mine until the party starts. I think I know where he lives.”
Since Tee had firmly maintained that his party was to be chill, and that if anyone was sick on his floor he would personally rub their face in it (Law wasn’t sure this was a fake threat; he and Tee took the martial arts elective together and it had given Law an appreciation of Tee’s sense of justice and humour) Rhoan had grabbed a couple of pizzas on their way and they rocked up half an hour later than the start time given. Tee waved them and Chase raised his cider at them, quickly returning to the game they were playing with their friend.
Law perched on the sofa and grabbed a cracker from the plate next to him, watching as she frantically described whatever she could see through the VR headset. Ant was laughing hard and leaned over to update Tee on what had gone on moments before, while Rhoan and Eilidh settled down on the floor, with Eilidh shamelessly clambering onto Rhoan’s lap. Law shared a look with Chase and snorted.
Chase grabbed a slice of pizza, pulling it up as high as he could until the stringy cheese snapped. Law’s eyebrows climbed as Chase finished off his bottle of cider and made grabby hands for the box tucked beside the sofa. Tee laughed and nudged Ant forward so that he could reach for it, and then passed it over to Chase.
“Alcoholic,” he accused.
“Hardly, Ant’s almost on his fourth!” Chase said. “Hey, genius, you want one?”
Law made a face, but when in Rome… “Just one.”
A cheer went up at his statement and Tee chucked one over to him, and then passed a couple over for Rhoan and Eilidh. Through this they had been barking instructions at each other, but the sound of a bomb exploding ended the game and the headset was passed around to the next player.
After a few more rounds Tee flipped the games off and turned the music up. The group were pleasantly buzzed, inhibitions sufficiently removed, and even Law was feeling the atmosphere. Ant and Chase were both swaying more than the others, but neither of them were drunk enough that they were in danger of throwing up, but the last of the drink had been dished out anyway. Law glanced outside and was surprised how utterly dark it was; the time had sped by.
He ducked out of the room of dancing and giggling friends, hoping to find some cool water in the kitchen. He shook his head in amusement as Eilidh and Rhoan half-heartedly danced while taking to Tee, Ant’s arm hooked around him for balance.
“Hey genius,” Chase said, swerving into the kitchen instead of continuing into the hall where the bathroom could be found. Law gave a distracted wave and shut the fridge door, setting the fancy glass bottle of elderflower cordial onto the counter.
“How are you feeling?” Law asked, chuckling. “Would you like a drink?”
“A drink of what?”
“Water, of course. You could probably do with some hydration.”
“Is this where you tell me how alcohol affects the body with your biology hat on?” Chase asked, half-slurring through some of his words.
“I could do, if you insist,” Law teased. “Though I think my words of science might be lost on you in this state.”
“In this state?” Chase repeated, pretending to be offended. The effect was ruined when he came over, stumbling over his untied shoe lace, but he caught himself on the edge of the fridge. Law reached out to steady him, laughing.
“Your words are never lost on me, regardless of state,” Chase said with a nod. Law held his breath as Chase stepped closer.
It wasn’t so much that Law couldn’t breathe, it was that there was suddenly no oxygen left in the room. His cheeks immediately flamed at how close Chase was to him, and they only grew redder as Chase slipped a hand around his waist. Chase’s height compared to Law was something he always forgot, especially with how laid-back the other boy was, but now it was all the more obvious as Chase reached down to tilt Law’s chin up so that they could look eye to eye. Law swallowed, feeling his skin burn where Chase was touching it, and he wondered if it was scientifically possible to have your heart beat so fast that it just gave out.
“Go on, tell me about the biology happening right now.” He raised his fingers to smooth over Law’s cheeks, which must have scalded his fingers, and Law felt himself grow dizzy.
Chase smelled of peppermint, and though Chase’s body wasn’t pressed against Law’s he could still feel the weight of Chase’s body somehow. Law tried to speak but the only thing to come out was a strangled word which even he didn’t understand, but it made Chase laugh, his face softening into a grin. The intensity of the situation was broken and Law quickly tugged Chase’s hand away from his face, which made the other boy laugh more, and very soon he was stumbling off in the direction of the toilet. Law pressed himself against the fridge and breathed, wondering if he could just crawl into it and cool himself down. Embarrassingly, the reaction Chase had on his biology wasn’t just confined to his face. Law wondered if the other boy would even remember that as he sneaked back into the living room where he could lie on the sofa, his legs dangling off the other end, and a well-placed cushion held to his crotch.
Two of the girls danced beside him, giving him no attention, which was perfectly fine by Law. A quick glance proved that Eilidh and Rhoan were still dancing, looking into each other’s eyes, and since Ant and Tee were facing away from the kitchen no one else had witnessed the embarrassing scene.
If only the floor could just open up and swallow him. He desperately hoped no one would mention this ever, ever again.
Loxley scanned the crowd in the gymnasium during a pause in his presentation, giving a subtle tilt of his head to Bethany who flicked to the next slide and then pulled out props to pass around. All biology students were attending the lecture, where Lox was presenting an introduction to cancer cells as a teaser to get more young, smart minds passionate about researching the topic. He, of course, thought this dumbed down lecture was a waste of his time, but Bethany always strong-armed him into it and gave suitable threats to prevent him from going too deeply into his latest research.
It was lucky that Loxley respected Solomon, who was the brother of Loxley’s old PhD supervisor, and as much as he didn’t like to go back to the basics of biology, Bethany did have a point. It was a good way of getting people interested in the biological sciences.
So he sucked it up and spoke to the room, breezing past the basics he was sure most of them would know by this point to arrive at the more interesting points of his presentation. Bethany rolled her eyes at him each time he shortened the notes she’d poked him into writing, but since she wasn’t here as a co-presenter she couldn’t jump in to make the notes more approachable to those with less biology knowledge than others.
Bethany did the outreach a lot more than Loxley, but both of their passions remained in the labs; Loxley continuing his research on cancer cells and Bethany moving onto bacterial cell research. Though they were in fairly different areas, they lived in the same city and spent a lot of time together. At this point, Loxley was sure they were so in sync that he could step off the podium and Bethany would finish his talk near word for word.
Loxley glanced up from where he and Bethany had been playfully bickering as they put away the laptop and all of its cables. A spark of recognition came into Lox’s eyes as he reached out to shake Law’s hand.
“You’re the nephew, aren’t you?”
“Uh – you know?”
Loxley snorted. “Last name Williams, from the same town my sister moved to all those years ago? Hardly a coincidence.”
“Plus Echo left her Facebook open,” Bethany added, smirking once her friend swatted her away.
“Oh. Um… I have to admit I didn’t think you’d know me.”
Loxley shrugged a shoulder and passed a folded up cable to Bethany to slip into one of the pockets of his laptop bag. “I’m not interested in ridiculous family drama, but if you ever wanted to work with me in the lab, feel free to get in touch. I’ve heard you’ve got quite the brain.”
“Look, Law, I’m going to be blunt here. Your mother and I have never got on. Even now I don’t think very highly of her. The fact that you and Echo have turned out to be interesting young people is a miracle in itself, but if you want to ask me anything about Faye I have no answers for you. She makes no sense to me and I have far better things to do with my time than to talk about her.”
“Oh,” Law muttered, folding his arms over his chest awkwardly. “Alright. Sorry to waste your time.”
Loxley huffed a sigh. “Just contact me if you wanted any work experience. My email was on the slides that will be sent around to you.”
“That would be good, but I am already working with another researcher. Luke Savio,” he added, because Loxley was looking at him expectantly.
“Well, the offer is there,” Loxley shrugged, picking up his laptop bag and striding out of the gym. Bethany tucked her props back in another bag and smiled at him.
“What does that mean?”
“She’s honestly hard to explain, Law. And like Lox said, a waste of our time. You’d be better of focusing on getting to know Echo. She’s a sweetheart. And your grandparents, who I’m sure would love to meet you.”
Law tried to feel happy about that, but the genuine exasperation when Bethany had spoken about Faye was disheartening. “What about her other siblings?”
“Oh, hmm. Skye and her husband run bushcraft and various outdoor classes, Summer and her wife Uma make comic books together, and Liam is a carer. His romantic situation is, ah, interesting, and I have no idea what’s going on with it these days. But,” Bethany said, with a sudden glint in her eyes, “you should ask Echo all of this. She’s dying to hear from you, and she’s actually been pleading with Loxley to intervene and get you to respond. He refused, of course, but don’t let him fool you. Your brains have him all envious. It’s not often he’s met someone who is more than his match, even at your age.”
Law flushed at the compliment and smiled. “So when he’s offering me a place studying with him he means it?”
“Oh, absolutely. You should think about it, but I would make sure it’s what you want to do. Don’t do it just because he’s family, alright?”
Law chewed on his bottom lip and nodded, watching Bethany disappear out of the same door Loxley had minutes ago.
“It’s fine with me if it’s fine with you. Come in,” he added, when Law didn’t seem convinced. “What’s up? Aren’t you supposed to be on the bus home?”
“I’m going to get a later one,” Law said dismissively. “I ended up speaking to Loxley.”
“Oh, right! How did that go? Did he know who you were?”
“He basically said as much in his introduction,” Law admitted. “But he followed it up by saying how much he wasn’t going to get involved and how much he doesn’t care for my mum, so it’s a dead end. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.”
Chase made a thoughtful sound and patted his bed, and Law reluctantly approached. It was hard not to look at Chase’s long, powerful legs, or his well-toned shoulders and arms. They were usually hidden underneath jeans and a hoodie, and it was unfair that he was this attractive.
“Okay, hit me. What are you here for, if not to spend some quality time with your favourite agony aunt?”
Law sat next to Chase and resolutely tried not to look at him, which Chase made extremely difficult by fidgeting around until he was lying on his back, arms hooked behind his head, and facing the same way as Law.
Chase blinked at him. “Oh. Really? That’s it?”
Law tried to work out where the sudden disappointment had come from. “Uh, if that’s okay?”
“…Sure,” Chase shrugged and nodded towards his phone. “What do you want from her?”
“What? Oh, I see. I guess… Well, I want to know what happened. And it would be nice to… to meet her. And maybe the others, if my presence isn’t going to make things difficult, which it probably will.”
“Won’t know until you ask,” Chase said. “Okay, give me your phone. How about something like this…” He muttered to himself a bit, typing out and deleting phrases as he went. Law let him work, trusting him completely, and finally Chase cleared his throat.
“Hi Echo. Thanks for reaching out to me. I would like to get to know you too, and our family, but I’m worried that I’ll cause problems given my mum’s secrecy about me. I won’t be able to return to Inverness – my dad doesn’t know I found out who I am – but if you’d like to talk over here then I’d love that.”
“Yes,” Law nodded, glad to have the message taken out of his hands. “Send it.”
Chase nodded and hit send, handing Law’s phone back to him. “That’s everything?”
Law had a sudden image of Chase crawling on top of him and kissing him, so before his mind could get any further with that treacherous thought he jumped up. “Thank you, and yes,” he said, so quickly that it almost blended into one word. Chase raised an eyebrow. “I better go and catch my bus. Thanks again!” He rushed out, feeling his face burn, and hoped it wasn’t too obvious to the entire world what kind of dirty thoughts were going through his mind.
Fun fact: I almost ended the scene with a pose exactly what Law was thinking of. And then I didn’t, because I had just read Lousie’s introduction to her Tension pose pack and decided it was a Sign. So blame her 😛
Also, when I was rereading chapters to remember what Lox said he was going to study, I also remembered he promised to leave the mystery of Lukas Smith alone. Given that he kept his promise under Febe’s watchful eye for the first year or so, and Lukas then disappeared and became Luke Savio instead, he hasn’t realised who Law is referring to…
My busy life is getting busier for the month ahead, so posting once a fortnight is the goal. We’ll see how that goes. Happy simming!