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10: Klein – ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

Alex Klein (Adult), Rhys Klein (Child), Gavin Klein (Child)

Gavin Klein was an odd child.  He liked talking to himself–the kind done in the middle of a room, sans mirror–which freaked his older brother and father out quite a bit.  Still, he had inherited his father’s natural charm and so it always seemed less strange than it should be.

He was friendly.  He loved to talk.  It just didn’t always have to be at someone.

Rhys didn’t dislike his brother, but they didn’t really share many interests.  Their age gap aside, Rhys was much more serious while Gavin tended towards a more lackadaisical approach.  Despite his eccentricities, he won people over easily.  When he started school, he was instantly popular, even with the bigger kids.

Rhys couldn’t wait until he started high school.  Being compared to or lumped in with Gavin wasn’t something he particularly relished.

Camilla hadn’t ever really excelled at being a wife or mother, but at least she could cook.  Her passing had left an emptiness in their hearts and their bellies.  Alex was woefully inept at anything beyond ‘opening’ and the boys were too young to make their own meals.

The three of them all survived on what was the easiest to acquire–pizza and ice cream.  Lana had scolded Alex for feeding his children such horrible dinners, but Rhys and Gavin had no true complaints.  Who didn’t want to eat pizza and ice cream for dinner?

Link had done his job well and despite his initial reservations, Alex found himself fond of the dog.  Having a pet had assuaged some of the anguish that had built up in the house after Camilla’s passing.  It would be years before the wounds healed completely, but for now, a bandaid was enough to move through another day.

It was incredibly difficult, raising two boys while also trying to juggle the demands of an entire city.  Still, Alex enjoyed the stress of it and through himself headlong into it.  It gave him something to focus on that he wasn’t horrible at.

Rhys’ ascent into high school came with a bevy of things–snottiness and hormones being big players.  The despair and confusion he had carried with him as a child welled up and became a whole new beast all together.  He’d always been the quiet one–the silent observer in a sea of constantly moving mouths.  Now he was tired of being quiet and he was making his anger known.

Emma Steel, his best friend, was bearing the brunt of that.  She shrugged it off easily, much as she did everything.  Finding something Emma took seriously was difficult indeed.  The girl was a wall, her true emotions locked away tightly behind a facade of carefree nonchalance.

“I can’t believe you went to a senior’s party,” Rhys commented dryly, disapproval written all over his face.  “What did you even do there?”

“Made out with everyone.”

“You’re disgusting,” Rhys responded grumpily.  “Seriously, how did you even get an invite?”

“I met Jack Ryder in sports club.  Clubs are an awesome way to meet the older kids.  Socialization, Rhys… you should try it sometime.”

He shook his head.  Emma was a mystery to him, despite their close friendship.  They shared status and were, technically, family… if not by blood.  She was the step-daughter of his grandfather, which creepily made her his aunt.  A shudder ran through him anytime he thought on it too deeply.  It was easier just to see her as Emma Steel–his friend and constant source of annoyance.

“Stop being such a stick-in-the-mud, Rhys,” Emma said, giving him one of her patented looks.  It was like staring into the icy surface of a frozen over lake.  She could be intimidating if she wanted to.  “You need to stop moping and live a little.  It won’t kill you.”

“It might,” he said, shooting back with a pointed look of his own.

She threw her hands up in exasperation.  “Fine, have it your way.  Now let me see your math homework.”

“You’re so lazy.  Do your own homework, Steel!  I’m not one of your mother’s adoring fans.”

Emma grinned large.  “It was worth a shot.”

Realistically, Rhys had no right to complain.  He had a good life.  He lived in a nice house right outside of the city in an area the locals dubbed ‘money mountain.’  He’d probably never want for anything in his entire life between the money his mother’s music still brought in and his father’s political career.

It didn’t matter.  Hormones or not, Rhys couldn’t erase the way that he felt.  It nagged at him and ripped apart any attempts of happy thoughts that entered his mind.

Alex had been forced to deal with Rhys’ mood swings.  It was strange.  They had done everything right–therapy, counseling–all of it timed and paid for.  Still, Rhys walked around in a dark mood and any word said to him was met with a snotty reply.  It was hard to rationalize his reactions.  He’d always been such a quiet, contemplative child.  How did he turn into this?

Any attempt to talk to Rhys was met with cold indifference.  Alex would try to reach out to him only for Rhys to ignore him and poke at his cellphone.  He’d act as if this was the last place in the entire world he wanted to be.  It was hard to figure out what exactly he wanted.

Alex was ill-equipped to handle angst of this magnitude.

Emma Steel ran hard and fast, delighted as the wind pushed against her face.  She had been raised a city girl, but there was a part of her that loved nature.  The wind in her hair, the sound of her feet pounding against the ground, and the distant sound of the city behind her was beyond words.

It was a few minutes of running before she heard it moving through the distance–the low, tinny sound of notes floating through the muffled noise of the city and the quiet complacency of nature.

Rhys sat with his piano, fingers deftly moving across the keys.  He’d inherited his parent’s knack for anything musical.  He was especially gifted with instruments.  He didn’t need sheet music.  He played beautifully, if privately.  It wasn’t something he wanted anyone to really know about.  He didn’t want to draw comparisons to his mother.  She had been a singer and Rhys, instead, was a talented musician.  That was his reasoning, at least.

“So.  You going to stay out here all day?  Your dad is worried.”

Rhys ignored her, fingers dancing across the keys effortlessly as a beautifully complex string of notes wound itself into a melody.  He continued like this for several minutes until the music slowed and he spoke, voice quiet and almost lost against the sound of the music:

“I don’t want to be her.”

Emma sighed.  She didn’t understand Rhys’ preoccupation with becoming his mother.  They all knew the stories–Camilla was infamously selfish and horrible.  The tabloids had lauded her after her death, but the ones before that had been scathing looks into her emotional outbursts.  She’d left her own child behind to pursue her career without a thought.  Rhys had told her that he couldn’t remember a time when he felt loved so much as tolerated.  It was an admission he would later deny.

“You’re not.  You won’t be.”

The music cut off abruptly, a cacophony of noise as Rhys’ fingers slammed down on the keys.  He didn’t turn to face her.  “I am.  I don’t understand why, but… I’m selfish.  I don’t particularly care about other people.  I’m mean, even to you.  I think I hated my own mother.  What kind of person does that make me?  A horrible one… like her.”

“It makes you an idiot,” Emma said brusquely, causing him to turn around.  “You can’t lump people into tidy categories, Rhys.  The world doesn’t work like that.”

“Geeze, you’re a teen,” Emma continued, dragging him away from the piano.  “You’re not supposed to think about this stuff, okay?  You think that I spend my nights worrying over the fact that my parents are split up and I’ve technically got two dads?  Never mind the fact that one is an eternal child who I’ll never be able to rely on and the other one is a freaking crime lord!  I don’t.  Because I’m a teenager and my mind… it can’t handle that stuff.”

Rhys stared at her.  “You can’t just ignore everything and hope it goes away, Emma.”

“I didn’t say that!”  She huffed in reply.  “I mean… just… enjoy today, you know?  Enjoy being a teenager because… it’s only going to get crazier from here on out.  One day, I’m going to have to face down the fact that… no, you know what, no.  You’re not doing this to me.  Come on.  You just need to learn how to blow off some steam!”

Rhys said nothing as Emma drug him away.  Whatever she had planned, he was sure he wouldn’t like it.

They’d ran through the city, the sun slipping behind the buildings as the street lamps blinked on.  By the time they reached their destination, everything was awash in darkness, the harsh light from the street lamps their only guide.  Rhys stared at his grandparents house.  He could see people moving from the wide, open windows.

Emma had told him that he needed to blow off some steam.  He needed to vent some of that pent up anger towards his mother.  What better place than his grandparents house?  It was madness, to be sure, but for some reason… it made sense.

Rhys really needed to learn not to listen to Emma.

His grandmother, Kelly, had been furious when she saw the eggs splattered across her door.  She’d come out in a wave of anger, shouting into the darkness.  Rhys stepped forward and had the decency to at least looked ashamed.  Kelly was shocked.  She hadn’t expected it to be him.

She drug him inside by his ear and called his father immediately.

Alex had been in the middle of reading Gavin a bedtime story when he got the phone call.  Kelly’s angry voice greeted him from the other end and he sighed.  At least it had been there house and not a stranger’s.  Oskar wouldn’t press charges against his own grandson, thankfully.

When Alex had picked him up, Rhys had been quiet.  His head hang low and he refused to face his father.  The car ride home had been an awkward one.  Alex hadn’t said a word until they moved through the front door.  He wanted to shout and be angry, but he couldn’t.  From the look on Rhys’ face, he’d been doing a good enough job punishing himself.

“Rhys, you can’t do things like this,” Alex said softly, placing a hand on his shoulder.  “You’ve either got to talk it out or find some sort of outlet that doesn’t involve crime, okay?  Did Emma put you up to this?”

Rhys looked up at him and refused to answer.  Alex gave another labored sigh.

“You’re grounded until summer’s over and no Emma, either.  Maybe next time you’ll learn to use your own judgment instead of someone else’s.”

Gavin may have been a little strange, but at least he was easier to parent.  Of course, he wasn’t yet a teenager, either.  Still, something about his attitude and demeanor made Alex think that Gavin would always have a sunny disposition about him.

Honestly, Gavin seemed a lot more like him when he had been younger and before the messy divorce of his parents.

Gavin had been warned by Rhys, on numerous occasions, not to play in his room.  This went unheeded.  Gavin insisted that purple was the color of royalty and so, Rhys’ room was the royal throne room of the house.

It was hard to be mad at him, but it didn’t stop Rhys from openly grumping about it whenever he had to do his homework in the kitchen just to get some peace and quiet.

———————————

Annnd… we’re back!  Seasons is up and running.  I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do on that front yet, so things might be a little bananas.  We’ll see how it goes, haha.  I don’t really like to ‘plan’ before I’ve had a chance to get a feel for how something affects the world.

Poor Rhys.  He acts a lot like Camilla, but not in the ways you’d expect.  He’s not quite as extroverted or anything, but he is quite cutting and selfish.  I can see him really struggling against becoming his mother.  Of course, to counterpoint that, getting obsessed with something like that only leads you to becoming it in most cases.  Hopefully he’ll let himself figure out who he is instead of trying to lump himself into a category.

Emma is a bad influence, you guys.  But you probably already assumed that, hah!

Title is The Verve – ‘Bittersweet Symphony.’

10 comments to 10: Klein – ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

  • Well, I don’t know! Throwing eggs at his grandparents’ house was probably not the greatest idea in the world but the general suggestion for Rhys to cut loose a little bit is decent. I would kind of expect Dominic and Asha’s daughter to be very bold and kind of spontaneous, so it fits!

    Poor Gavin. He’s going to be an interesting one to watch as he grows up. Strangers might not be as accepting of the conversations he holds with himself as his family is. After all, they’ve had his whole life to get used to it. Side note, but I don’t think Aperture has had an insane sim yet, has it?

    • Mao

      Haha, you’re right. Emma had the best of intentions, just the wrong execution! Hopefully she’ll learn. ;) I really enjoy Emma. She’s quite a character… but she keeps a lot of herself bottled up.

      You’re right, he’s the first Insane sim (aside from Morrigan.) I don’t think he’ll be clinical, though… just more eccentric, maybe? A little out there? It doesn’t seem in his nature for him to be totally off-the-wall bananas.

  • Josh

    I loved the extra long update, Mao! Poor Rhys. He’s so handsome and suffering so much… the perfect Byronic hero. Gavin should grow up to be quite a handful, I can’t wait.

    Is Alex ever going to find love again? And what’s seasons like? I heard it looks amazing but I haven’t gotten it yet.

    • Mao

      Haha, I’m glad, Josh! I do try not to make them monsters, but sometimes they get away from me. ;) Rhys is very much the brooding type. Hopefully he figures things out or he might end up like Mark!

      As for Alex, the maid is pretty fond of him, but he’s too busy with work and wrangling the boys to really think about it right now.

      I LOVE SEASONS! I do. It’s brilliant. Even the husband loves it. He hasn’t touched TS3 since Ambitions and this expansion made him want to reinstall everything and play again!

  • It is always great to see a new Aperture Valley post. I’m so glad the hood survived the transition to Seasons. I love Rhys and Emma’s looks. Rhys’s outfit is probably my favorite male outfit in the game. I agree he has a strong chance of becoming like Camilla as he struggles against it.

    Rhys should heed his dad’s warnings about Emma. I can’t remember if I have said this before, but Emma scares me. She scares me more than Clark or Asha’s family ever did. There is something calculating about her. I am interested to see how her story develops.

    • Mao

      Me, too! I was so worried when I initially had issues. I was like “oh, no!” I love that outfit, too, though I wish the sleeves were the same length.

      Ha, you know… I’m glad you caught that. I really enjoy Emma (it’s no secret I like fiery lady characters), but there’s something dark with her and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Only time will tell where that goes…

  • Yay! I am happy that you are back to posting! :)

    Oh Rhys….so grumpy and angsty. I like that he’s at least worried about becoming like Camilla, even if he can’t really prevent it. You hinted at something with Emma in her speech to Rhys to enjoy every day that has piqued my interest! Can’t wait to hear more about what she worries about!

    • Mao

      Thank you! It’s good to be back. I missed my sims. :D

      Oh, Rhys. I’m hoping he figures things out. He’s being a total bugger to his dad right now and for no reason!

      As for Emma, you caught that, did you? Emma is a very private person. It’ll take awhile to see what’s going on in her head… if we ever do. ;)

  • Woot! So happy to have you back! Curious how you will be implementing seasons, guessing you might have a better idea on that now, then you did when this was a new post! Not sure where you exactly peg AV being located!

    As for these boys, wow, poor Alex first of all. I think life would have been horribly complicated, maybe even more so if Camilla had lived. If she had lived though, then he would have been given choices, to stay married, or not to at some point, the kids would have a choice to have a relationship or not. With her dead, there is just no choices for anyone, they just have to move forward, and that’s hard. I think that Gavin is absolutely adorable! I love him playing and all his costumes! And Rhys, poor guy having a rough go, hard trying to find yourself, especially when you have a parent that you do not want to be anything like. He will have to learn that she is a part of him, that there was good in her somewhere, and that he has free will to make his own decisions in life.

    Happy to have you back!

    • Mao

      Maisie! Thanks! As for AV, I’d picture it on the East Coast. Temperate, so no huge changes in climate. ;)

      The absence of choice is always difficult. Alex just seems to be floating along. I’m curious to see what he’ll do once the boys are grown, though. Everything is just so uncertain right now!

      Gavin is going to be a fun one. A nice counterpoint to his more dour brother, Rhys. Oh boy. He is a lot like Camilla, but there was good in her, too… she just never focused on it very much!

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