Chapter 5.5: Home

Chapter 5.5 Home

A/N: So, confession—this chapter isn’t going to move Jo’s story forward very much because it’s focused on what has been going on back home. Sorry! It may be a little self-indulgent on my part, actually, because as I got to know James’ and Candice’s kids I just felt REALLY inspired to get their stories written out, so I did! I regret nothing though because I seriously LOVED writing this chapter and I know many of you wanted to get to know Gemma, Augustus, and Tobias more anyway so…hopefully you’ll still like it.

As usual, the chapter will, of course, still be told primarily from Joanne’s point of view, but it will switch to Candice’s, Augustus’, Gemma’s, and Tobias’ where indicated. I hope you all enjoy getting to know everyone as much as I did because I seriously had a blast creating this.

The track for this chapter is, well, Home by Flyleaf. The lyrics fit so perfectly I nearly cried, lol. Happy listening and reading!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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Don’t give up yet
Stop trying to pretend
You’re never gonna change
That might be true
You’re gonna be a better you

Oliver improved greatly after our conversation, making a more conscientious effort to spend more time with me. The result was many dinners together, a few more passionate nights, and many more stolen moments with one another in which we would simply enjoy each other’s company.

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Despite this though, I found that I couldn’t quite keep my mind off of what I’d discovered, and the more we talked, the more I realized just how important the idea of our future was to Oliver. He brought up marriage, and how he’d always thought it would be ideal after he’d graduated from college; he brought up children and how he’d always wanted to have a big family; and of course, he mentioned me, and how much he wanted to have those things with me. Each time I smiled and seriously considered his words, and each time I couldn’t help but think: our ideal futures look nothing alike.

In my ideal future, I’m a star, of course. Marriage and kids, yes maybe, someday. Later. Always much later. In my ideal future, I’m a star first…and it isn’t until late in my life that I ever even consider settling down.

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Looking for signs
In the corner of your eyes
Take a breath and step outside
Don’t hide the light inside of you

Then I’m lying beside Oliver on his bed though, gazing into his lovely blue eyes and running my hands through his soft blonde locks, and I wonder if maybe my ideal future could allow for this dear sweet boy so much earlier than I’d intended, but in the end, I just don’t know.

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As for Hannah and I, our friendship was actually on a bit of rocky ground ever since our argument. She apologized—mumbling something about being jealous that I have someone that loves me as much as Oliver does, but we were still kind of awkward around each other.

We mostly kept to ourselves, honestly, only really hanging out to practice our set as neither of us had wanted to give that up. There was no denying that something integral had broken between us, and I wondered too if that would ever be mended.

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One step closer
We’re looking out for brighter days
One step closer
We’ll find our way back home
Time to go home

As weeks passed though, the end of the semester came upon us and soon enough we were all receiving our first final grades and preparing to visit home. I’d come away with a mixed bunch of As, Bs, and Cs, and kind of wished I hadn’t gotten the Cs, but also couldn’t bring myself to care much more about it. After all, I’d done decently, and that was more than enough, in my opinion. It wasn’t like I was studying to be a doctor, or even a scientist, like Oliver. He’d gotten straight As.

What did draw my interest though was the prospect of home. I’d already missed so many birthdays, so many day to day events, and I was so eager to catch up—eager to see my family smiling in person and smothering them all in hugs and kisses.

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That was exactly what I did too. As soon as I arrived in Starlight Shores, Oliver dropping me off at my parent’s house, I raced toward the door and knocked frantically, my heart nearly bursting out of my chest. I hadn’t felt so happy and exhilarated in ages.

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Of course, as soon as the door opened and I saw my father with a few extra lines on his face and a sprinkling of grays in his ordinarily chocolate expanse of hair, I burst into tears, hugging him so tightly that the choking noise he made might have actually been genuine.

“I missed you so much!” I wailed like the stupid baby I was.

“I missed you too,” he said with a bit of a strangled laugh.

As soon as I pulled away from my father, both of our eyes shining, my mom came rushing up to hug me and then I was crying all over again.

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I swear I was an absolute mess by the time I was in the house and got through all of my siblings, marveling at just how much they’d grown over the past months.

“Oh, Gemma, you’re so pretty! And Augustus god, look at you! I’m sure you’re the biggest heartbreaker at school. And Tobias!!! Oh my gosh, the last I saw you your head barely even came up to my knee!”

It was perhaps unsurprising that my siblings found me pretty embarrassing by the end of it all, but I didn’t even care. I was home, finally, and I was going to enjoy every second that I had here.

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Every change we take will lead us
Through the unknown
Home

It turned out, however, that that was actually kind of difficult. Mom worked a lot, Dad spent countless hours typing away on his laptop, Augustus was suddenly and uncharacteristically so moody, Gemma was always tagging around Gus despite his apparent displeasure for the world, Grandpa wasn’t even home, having gone to China for the week, and Tobias was always outside looking at various rodents and reptiles and then researching what they were on Mom’s laptop.

It seemed that in the months that I’d been gone they, obviously, had learned to get on quite well enough without me.

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Not that that stopped me. No, not at all. I followed Tobias once on his little journey, played chess with Gemma on the rare occasion that she wasn’t with Augustus, watched a movie with my sulky sibling when he’d finally felt up to it, and of course stalked my parents in the evenings when they usually relaxed.

It may not have been my favorite method of spending time with them, but it worked, and honestly, that was all that mattered to me.

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Tears stain your eyes
But you didn’t give up the fight

“You and Mom are challenging to grab a moment with,” I stated one evening, sitting down at the dining room table with my dad and a cup of tea.

Dad laughed, his hands wrapped around his own mug of tea, presumably decaffeinated. “Sorry, Jo. Been pretty busy.”

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“What’s this new book about anyway?” I asked, sitting back in my chair.

“That’s classified,” Dad said with a maddening smirk. His eyebrows were raised, and I knew it was useless to push it. He was always so secretive about his work.

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I frowned, scrunching up my nose. Frowning, however, vaguely reminded me of Augustus. “Do you know what’s up with Gus?” I asked, changing the subject. “He’s been so…moody.”

“I’m not sure,” Dad said with a frown of his own, staring at his cup. “He keeps insisting he’s ‘fine’.” He tapped his fingers on the table, the thought clearly making him anxious. In general he seemed a little more on-edge lately, or perhaps that was just because he was so into his current novel.

“Are you okay?” I couldn’t help but ask, taking a slow sip from my mug to try and appear casual.

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“Yes, Jo,” he assured me calmly. He clearly wasn’t buying my act. “I wish you wouldn’t worry so much about me.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled, a bit embarrassed as I ran my fingertip around the edge of my mug. “Is it still…difficult? To manage I mean? …like the anxiety…and stuff….” And by stuff I mean drinking….

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“Hmmm,” my Dad mused, glancing up at me. He knew what I was saying even if I didn’t speak the words. “It’s not…easy, but it’s not difficult anymore.” He sighed, taking a sip from his mug and then setting it down. “Every morning when I wake up, there’s always a small part of me that thinks, ‘it’d be really nice to have a drink right now,’ but I just—you know, ignore it. The voice isn’t loud anymore…so it’s not too bad.”

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I made a face, feeling a little incredulous. “You say things like that and then you tell me not to worry?”

Dad laughed, shaking his head. “Well, yeah. It’s been…how many years now? And I haven’t given into the voice yet. Doesn’t that earn me a little faith?” he asked, glancing up at me with a bemused look on his face.

“I guess so,” I admitted. “But…I’ll probably still always worry. I mean…you’re my dad,” I said, feeling my throat get a bit tight.

“I know,” he admitted, and then looked up, his eyes lighting up as he saw something behind me. “Hey,” he said with a wide smile.

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I turned to see my mom, smiling, but looking a little worried. “Hey,” she said quietly. “Sorry. You just—hadn’t come up to bed yet.”

I looked back at my dad, giving him a pointed look. See, I tried to tell him with just my eyes, she worries too.

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“Yeah, yeah,” Dad said to me out of the corner of his mouth, having clearly picked up on my silent message, and then turned back to Mom. “I’ll be up in a second. Promise.”

“Hmm, you better be,” my mom said with the sort of smile that you should never see your mother give your father.

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“Oh, don’t!” I groaned, feeling completely awkward now. They both laughed, and the next thing I knew my Dad was standing next to me, ruffling my hair. “Hey!” I cried out, trying to stop him from messing it up.

He laughed again, shaking his head. “Good night, Jo,” he said with a smile.

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“Good night,” I said quietly, and then watched him head into the kitchen to put away his mug.

I took a sip from my own, finishing it off and then setting it back down on the table. Was it really so bad to worry about the ones you loved?

I didn’t think so.

~*~Candice~*~

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And now the fear won’t paralyze
So leave your broken satellite

“She seemed worried…again,” I noted as soon as my husband walked in the door. I’d just finished changing, thinking back to seeing the lines on Joanne’s face when she looked at her dad. Pfft, and she didn’t even know….

To my surprise, James chuckled, shaking his head as he shut the door behind him. “You’re one to talk. I was what, 15 minutes late to bed?”

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I scowled, hating to feel stupid. “I blame you! You’re the one who’s been so determined to quit taking your medication,” I muttered.

“Which I am doing under the careful guidance of both my psychiatrist and my therapist,” James interjected calmly. “Plus, I’m not actually off it yet—just on a lower dose,” he reminded me, pulling his shirt up and over his head. I couldn’t help but get distracted. Even after all these years, seeing him wearing nothing but a pair of fitted jeans was enough to make me want to jump his bones right then and there.

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“It’s still stupid,” I pouted, tearing my eyes away from the definition of his hips. “Do you even remember the last time you went off of them?”

James winced and I suddenly felt like a complete bitch. “Kind of hard to forget,” he said in a way that made me want to kick myself in the mouth for even bringing it up. I forced myself to plow forward though, taking a quick intake of breath.

“Okay, so then you’ll know this situation is beginning to look pretty damn similar, isn’t it?” I asked, my hand traveling automatically to my stomach. James tripped about midway through taking off his jeans and he cursed softly, kicking them away and then looking at me. I felt my belly swoop—an action that had nothing to do with my current status.

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“I’m over that,” he reminded me gently. “I thought I proved that with Tobias.”

“But you were on the medication then,” I said, my throat suddenly feeling tight. Ugh, goddamn hormones!

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“Mmmm, technically still am,” he said, and then came up to me, taking my hands in his. His lavender eyes met mine, and I could feel myself slowly turning to pudding under his gaze, which was frustrating, to say the least. “Look,” he said softly, his voice melting me further, “if it becomes an issue, I go back to the original dose. No big deal. This is just something I want. I’m sick of being…dependent on it. I want to be strong for once in my damn life.”

“You’re already the strongest person I know!” I protested.

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James laughed out loud. “Right,” he scoffed. “I’m many things, Candice, but not ‘strong’.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but he held his hand up, pleading for just one more moment. I let my mouth fall shut, but I wasn’t happy about it.

“If I don’t do this,” he explained, “I’m going to risk getting addicted to the damn pills instead. I already have to take way more than I used to in order to get the same effect and if I ever don’t take them it’s a whole fucking withdrawal process all over again. Hence, why I want to get off them. But I’m doing it with help, not alone, and it’s a really gradual process they have planned out so please, stop worrying and just let me do this.”

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I felt temporarily at a loss for words. I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d expected him to say, but it definitely wasn’t that. The thought of another addiction made me sick. “You—you never told me that,” I finally managed to get out, feeling pained.

“I know,” he admitted, and his face looked pained as well. “I just didn’t want you to worry even more. I already worry you enough,” he said with a short, nervous laugh.

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I tried to smile, but failed, worry still putting me ill at ease. James must have sensed this because he closed the distance between us, gently pulling me into his arms. I wrapped my own around him tightly, burying my face in the crook of his neck and taking in his scent—honey and soap. He felt so warm and safe. I needed to trust him in this.

“Okay,” I said quietly. “Just….be careful. I love you so much…I-I don’t want to see anything bad happening to you. Not again.”

“I love you too,” he murmured, planting a soft kiss on my forehead. “And you can definitely trust that I’m going to be careful. You think I want a repeat of before?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

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I shook my head and then pulled away a bit. I forced a bit of a smile. “So,” I said, trying to lighten up the mood, “when do you want to tell the kids our news?” I smiled again, this time genuinely as I rested my hands against my still-flat stomach.

James smiled softly, placing his hands gently on top of mine. “We’ll tell them tomorrow. After we get some rest.”

“Oh, I don’t think I want to rest quite yet,” I said with a sly smile pulling at my lips.

“You have no idea how glad I am that you said that,” he said a grin….

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….and then pulled me in to give me the kind of kiss that made me doubt that I even still existed in reality because seriously, how could reality possibly feel so good?

~*~Augustus~*~

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Every breath is a chance to know yourself
And show them what you’re made of now
Forgiveness is the sweetest sound

“Just please…promise me you won’t tell them! Not yet!” I pleaded, giving my twin sister a desperate look.

“Yes, all right,” she sighed. “I promise, Gus, but this is completely illogical.”

“Not everything can be boiled down to simple terms of logic, Gemma.”

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“Sure it can,” she said smoothly, a small smile teasing her lips. “The world is completely logical. In fact, anything illogical is only classified as such because people refuse to accept that fact, or refuse to actually recognize the logic within it.”

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“Could you just be human, for like, five seconds?” I asked, already growing irritated.

“I am,” she replied, looking offended.

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Gemma sighed, leaning back against the sofa and looking bored. “They’re not going to care. You do realize that Mom and Dad’s best friends are a homosexual couple, right? Or have you just completely forgotten that Uncle Mitch and Uncle Chris exist?”

I winced and then looked around the room hastily to make sure no one had overheard her. “Would you lower your voice?” I whispered angrily, my heartbeat fast even after I’d clarified that no one else was in the room.

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“HOMOSEXUALITY! GAY! TWO MEN LOVING EACH OTHER!” Gemma called out, one hand cupped around her mouth to amplify her voice. “UNCLE’S MITCH AND CHRIS ARE TOTALLY GAY AND SO ARE Y—” I tackled my sister in a rage, covering her mouth with my hand to cut off her last word.

“Are you fucking INSANE?” I shouted, hot tears filling my eyes. “You just don’t get it! It’s one thing to have a friend who’s…who’s…gay,” I said the word quietly, my heart beating at a million miles per minute, “but a son?” I finished through gritted teeth.

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I took my hand off my sister’s mouth, backing away from her and slowly feeling as if I were coming apart at the seams. She would never understand what I was going through right now. Never. Why had I thought that she would?

Gemma looked at me in surprise, her lavender eyes wide. “Gus, they’re seriously not going to care,” she whispered. “They love you. I love you. We all love you and it’s not like being gay is a bad thing anyway so I don’t understand why you’re treating it like it is!”

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“You wouldn’t, would you!?” I growled through gritted teeth, my temper finally boiling over. “You never understand anything! You’re a fucking robot, Gem! Nothing ever gets to you, does it? Well, I’m not like you, okay, so just leave me the fuck alone!” I snapped, and then turned away from her.

“Augustus!” I heard my sister cry from behind me, but I ignored her, walking out the back door and then slamming it behind me.

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I didn’t know where I was going until I finally found myself in our sprawling basement, surrounded by ancient relics from far off places that I doubted I’d ever see. There, I found an old training dummy and just beat the shit out of it, angrily punching and kicking at every fucking splinter of wood I could see.

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I didn’t know how long I hit it before my energy left me, my arms limp and heavy by my sides as I breathed heavily. Angry tears fell freely from my eyes. If my own twin sister didn’t understand me, then no one was going to.

~*~Gemma~*~

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One step closer
We’re looking out for brighter days
One step closer

“I am not a robot,” I muttered to myself as I stormed upstairs. If I were a robot, I wouldn’t be feeling so angry and frustrated by my completely illogical brother right now. If I were a robot, all of this would be infinitely easier, that was for sure.

Whatever though. If Augustus wanted to tear himself apart over such a tiny matter, then far be from me to stop him. What did it matter if one was gay anyway? Perhaps ironically, people so overcomplicated human sexuality by trying to place it neat little boxes. The truth is that humans are just pathetic social creatures who are in dire need of affection and yes, sex, and in the end will pretty much turn to anywhere to get it and who cared anyway?

I certainly didn’t. While I preferred the intimate contact of males, I could just have easily preferred that of females and I don’t think it should have mattered either way.

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I finally reached my destination up on the third floor, a small well-ventilated room in which I had my chemistry set. Once only containing a stock of a few simple substances to toy around with when I was a child, the lab consisted now of a multitude of compounds that I could manipulate for hours.

I set to work right away, grabbing my lab coat and goggles for protection and then picking up where I last left off.

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I was currently working on a new paint for Dad—something that would dry slower and allow for more time to blend while the colors were still on the canvas. I loved Dad’s paintings, and he always seemed so peaceful when he was working on them. It wasn’t that he didn’t look like it otherwise, but painting seemed to transport him into another world, which was fairly fascinating to observe. Especially fascinating was when the worlds came to life in his books, the subjects walking along their pages and the colors just as vibrant if not more so.

I’d tried dabbling in both arts myself, but I never could get the hang of them. Everything always came out so…flat.

I sighed, mixing together two chemicals unthinkingly. Maybe I was a bit of a robot. I hadn’t exactly been very sensitive toward my twin, had I?

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BOOM!

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“Holy fuck…..”

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Mom was going to kill me.

~*~Tobias~*~

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We’ll find our way back home
Time to go home
Every chance we take will lead us
Through the unknown
Home

Blarina carolinensis—the southern short-tailed shrew!

I laughed, watching the furry little animal run around. Even though Starlight Shores had a lot of people living in it, there were lots of animals that you could find if you just took the time to look for them!

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Bungarus candidus—the Malayan krait snake. It must have been someone’s pet!

“Run!” I called out to the shrew, stomping my foot. The shrew made a weird noise and then ran up a tree. I felt bad for scaring him and probably losing the snake his lunch, but I didn’t exactly want to see that.

I walked further away from the house, trying to keep it in sight just as Mom and Dad had asked me to do. They didn’t mind if I went out exploring, but they made me promise not to go too far and to them, not being able to see the house anymore meant that I’d gone too far! I didn’t mind though. There was plenty to find out here!

I went exploring a lot, especially lately. Everyone at home has been so weird. Mom and Dad are all mushy-gushy and Gemma and Augustus aren’t talking to each other. They usually hang out all the time! Jo is okay, I guess. She seems nice, but I don’t know her very well, so she makes me feel shy.

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“Oh my gosh!” I cried out. There was something really bright up ahead!

I snuck up on it extra quietly. I didn’t know what species this one was! Maybe some kind of chameleon? I’d have to look it up on the computer right when I got home!

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Oh man, this thing was so cool! I watched it for a really long time, but it was starting to get dark and I knew I’d have to get home soon. I didn’t want to leave the lizard though, so I had an idea—I could take it home with me!

I crept up closer to the lizard and then grabbed it super-fast! It crawled around in my hands like crazy, which kind of tickled, but I didn’t mind. This little guy was going to be the coolest pet EVER.

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I ran home quickly, racing through the front door with my hands still cupped.

“There you are!” I heard my mom say as soon as I got in. I jumped and dropped the lizard, turning in surprise to see my mom just leaving the dining room.

“I can explain!” I cried out in a panic.

“Explain what?” Mom asked, raising an eyebrow at me. “You came in right before the sun set, just like you’re supposed to.”

“Oh…right. I—I thought I was late,” I lied, feeling really bad. I didn’t like to lie to Mommy. She was so, so nice.

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“Right…okay, well, we’re having a family meeting tonight after dinner, so don’t go running off again, okay?”

“Okay,” I said quietly. As soon as Mom was gone I looked around frantically, but I couldn’t find that darn lizard!

Oh great…my parents were going to kill me!

~*~Joanne~*~

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The time has come to take our chance
Fire, let me see you dance
Home
One step closer

I was the last to come downstairs, finding my family already all sitting around the fireplace. My first impression was that everything felt rather…tense. Not my parents, who looked happily and ecstatically in love, but their children…that was a different story. Gemma and Augustus were sitting on opposite sides of the living room, which was odd on its own, and Tobias kept looking around the room all nervously, as if he was expecting something to suddenly pop out at him.

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“Are you okay?” I asked him as I sat down, raising an eyebrow at my youngest sibling.

“Yeah,” he said shyly, averting his gaze from mine. Well, that was convincing.

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“Okay! So this will be pretty quick, actually,” Mom said as soon as I’d settled. She and Dad were standing before us, seeming barely able to contain their happiness. “We just wanted to share the news with everyone at once.” She smiled at Dad, who smiled back, and then turned to us again. “We meant to tell you all sooner, but well, you guys are going to have another little brother or sister!” she beamed.

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“Oh, that’s so great!!” I cried out, feeling surprised, but truly happy for them. After my outburst though, I noticed that everyone else in the room had remained rather quiet. I looked around at my siblings, feeling confused. They all looked horribly distracted. “Uhh…isn’t that nice, guys?” I pressed, feeling uncertain now. Did they know something that I didn’t?

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“Yes!” Tobias piped up quickly, looking like he felt bad for not responding right away. “I always wanted a little brother or sister. It’s just—oh man, I’m so sorry!!! I brought home a chameleon and it jumped out of my hands and now it’s loose in the house somewhere!” he cried out, looking panicked.

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“A chameleon?” Mom asked questioningly. She quickly looked down, as if expecting to see it suddenly crawling up her leg.

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“I blew up the extra bedroom up on the third floor!” Gemma blurted out then, continuing the train of confessions. “I’m really sorry too! I didn’t mean to! I mean, it’s not that bad—but the walls are pretty scorched….”

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“You what!?” Dad exclaimed, both of my parent’s attention snapping to her now.

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Augustus stood up then, distracting us all. “I’m gay,” he said flatly…and the entire room went silent. He hadn’t even spoken all that loudly, and yet in that moment, none of us could hear anything else. I looked at my brother in surprise, vaguely aware too that everyone else was doing the same. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered miserably as the unbroken stares continued. Tears appeared in his dark brown eyes, causing them to glimmer like fathomless pools.

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One step closer
We’re looking out for brighter days

“Oh, honey,” Mom said softly, breaking the silence. “That’s nothing to be sorry about!” She swooped down on Augustus, pulling him into a tight hug as he broke down into tears in her arms.

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Dad immediately came over too, placing his hand gingerly on August’s shoulder. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that,” he said quietly, looking pained at even the idea that Gus would think there was.

“You guys are just saying that!” Augustus groaned, pulling away from Mom and wiping his eyes in frustration.

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“Hey!” my Dad cut in firmly, his hands on Gus’ arms now to look him in the eye. “We’re not just saying that and don’t you dare think otherwise! Say sorry when you’ve made a mistake; say sorry when you’ve hurt someone; but don’t ever be sorry for being you. I’m pretty sure I raised my son better than that!” he finished sharply. I remained frozen to my seat, surprised to see Dad reacting so strongly. He was usually so…contained.

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Augustus looked up at Dad in surprise too, his dark eyes still shining with tears no matter how many times he tried to dry them. “I…I haven’t…failed you then?” he asked haltingly, and I swore I could feel my heart breaking for him. How could he possibly think that he had failed? No wonder he’d been so miserable lately. My eyes filled up with tears. I could hear Gemma beginning to cry on the other sofa.

“God no,” Dad said, his voice laced with incredulity. “Why would you ever think that? You’ve only ever exceeded my expectations and that hasn’t changed in the slightest.”

Augustus looked at Dad once more, as if trying to find a lie in his eyes, but of course, he found none, so he broke down into tears all over again, this time though, tears of relief.

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Dad said something that I couldn’t quite make out and then pulled Augustus into a tight hug, my brother like a child again as he held onto him and cried. Mom also murmured something as she pulled them both into a hug, and soon Gemma had gotten up as well, joining the hug. I stood up then too, followed by Tobias, and then we were all hugging each other and crying.

To anyone walking in it probably would have been the strangest, most pathetic thing that they’d ever encountered, but to me, it was the most beautiful.

“I love you guys, too,” Augustus whispered after a while, and I knew then what my parents had said to him.

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I really did have the best family, and the thought that I would be pulled away from them once again, only to be thrown back into the confusing mess of my relationships at school tore at me.

I didn’t want to disappoint them though. I was, after all, the first Winters to ever attend college.

They’d all done so much for me—the least I could do was succeed in this. For now, however, I’d savor these moments.

After all….

“Guys?”

“Yes, Tobias?”

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“What’s ‘gay’?”

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.…there truly was no place like home.

One step closer
We’ll find our way back home

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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27 thoughts on “Chapter 5.5: Home”

  1. That was wonderful! I’m not even sure where I should start with the commenting lol. First, Jo should really tell Oliver what she wants for her future. Communication is important. If she doesn’t speak up, he is going to assume that she wants the same thing. Oliver loves her and I know that he will work with her to help her dream come true as well as his own. And he won’t mind waiting to start a family. The important thing is that she also needs to keep in mind the realism of the dream she wants to pursue. She could give up Oliver, spend her entire life fighting to be famous and it just doesn’t happen, and then she is left with nothing at the end of the day. I know that won’t happen because this is a legacy so she will at least have one child but still, life is hard, life is suffering, and having a great life partner makes the really hard times more bearable.
    Next, that was the best family meeting I have ever seen. I love how all the kids just blurted out what they did wrong, or told the truth, and no one even really commented on the pregnancy other than Tobias lol. They are such a great family. I’m going to be so sad when James and Candice aren’t around anymore. Gemma’s face in that last photo is to die for lol. Such a great chapter, it really boosted my mood before the weekend!

    1. Aww! Well let me just say your comment also boosted my mood right before the weekend, thank you! I’m really glad that you liked the chapter, especially because I felt kind of guilty that it didn’t push Jo’s story too much further. However, as I see from the beginning of your comment, I got the point across with Jo and Oliver’s current status, even if that part was brief. Jo definitely needs to have some tough conversations with Oliver, or else she’s going to be caught in a whirlwind of pain and regret.

      They really are a great family, so I just couldn’t resist telling their stories! Gemma is so expressive, especially her eyes. I absolutely adore how she looks. I also had a ton of fun capturing that last picture. I swear I must have looked kind of weird, zoomed in all close to my sims and giggling as I watched them make faces. ….capturing photos in the sims makes me feel like a real creeper sometimes….lol.

      So happy again that you liked it! The next chapter will really push Jo’s story forward 🙂 ….brace yourself, haha.

  2. OMG! BEST CHAPTER EVER! Let me start:

    Candice–welcome to the club of simmers who like to hit “try for baby” too often! I felt so much for Candice when she and Jaime were in their room. She wants to be supportive, but she’s also so worried. It’s not like Jaime has a good track record. I hope for the best though.

    The twins–Gemma is the most beautiful teen I’ve ever seen! I found her hilarious, too. When she blows up the room, I was laughing so hard! And poor Gus! I wanted to just draw him in for a hug.

    Tobia–I think I laughed the most about him. First, his agony of loosing his lizard! The poor kid’s confession was so funny, but then after Gus’ confession, I loved how Tobias had to ask “what is gay?” That was priceless!

    I totally agree that it was worth deviating from Joanne to include this. I loved it!

    1. Oh man, tell me about it. I CANNOT resist always making my sims try for ONE more baby once they hit their Adult stage. If you’ve noticed I’ve done it every generation so far, so I honestly was trying NOT to this time, but then that birthday came and…well….fail *hangs head* lol.

      Candice and James are very happy about it though–just worried, given James’ recent choice. He doesn’t have the best track record, but I think they’ll be just fine 😉

      Gemma seriously is stunning! I can’t say I was expecting that since she looked like every other cute sim as a kid, but then she grew up and I think my jaw actually dropped, lol. I laughed at her all blown up too. It was perfect XD

      And gahhhh Gus! My baby *hugs him tightly* I’ve been considering writing a special about him, but I think I’ve gotten my point across about what’s going on with him. Tobias is also the best! I guess you can’t really blame me for wanting James and Candice to have one more kid when the others are so amazing!

      I’m really, really glad you liked the chapter! I had a blast writing it, but again was concerned because it DIDN’T progress the story much. I think it was worth it too though ^_^ Thank you so much! ❤

  3. I have to say that I really enjoyed this chapter. Sure it may not have “progressed Joanne’s story” all that much, it showed enough of what was happening, and gave us some insight on what’s happening at home.

    I agree with Autumnrein. Jo really needs to communicate with Oliver what it is that she wants… Because if he assumes that she wants the same, that could throw everything off, and I’m sure he would understand. He’s been very understanding thus far. He’s a pretty good guy.

    But I loved that we were finally able to see how the family was doing back home, and get into their heads a little bit. I hope that James stays true to his word, but I’m pretty sure that he will… And Oh my gosh! Gemma is really pretty!!!

    I understand that Augustus was struggling, but that was kinda messed up that he kept calling his sister an emotionless robot. Granted, she could have been a bit more understanding of his struggle…

    It was funny how everyone was blurting everything out during that meeting. Tobias’ last line made me crack up! And everyone’s facial expressions at the end made me laugh. XD

    Great chapter! Can’t wait to see what happens when Jo heads back. Is she going to be heading back at the beginning of the next chapter? Or will she stay home for a bit longer..?

    1. Thank you very much! That’s pretty much what I was aiming for here: just enough on Joanne to see what’s going on there, and then of course a snapshot of everyone else at home so everyone could see that too.

      You’re right about Oliver, he probably would be understanding. Joanne just needs to sit him down and finally let her feelings be known…..

      Gemma is a real stunner! If she hadn’t had the same exact hair and eye color as James, I might have developed her into the heiress, but I’m still happy with this decision. I never felt that music fit right for her and Joanne is adorable, so it’s all good, lol. As for James, he will stay true to his word–he may have a few bumps along the way, but he’ll stick to it. The main thing is that he doesn’t want to be on medication for the rest of his life, if he can help it.

      Augustus was indeed pretty harsh, but it was out of frustration that Gemma wasn’t on the same page as him. It’s like when you vent to a friend about something that really has you upset and their reaction is, “Umm…so why are you upset again?” lol. Even though Gemma was 100% right (it seriously wasn’t something for Gus to be so freaked out about), it still frustrated Gus to no end that she was reacting like that and not acknowledging his worries at least a little. On that note though, the two have made up and are best friends once again 😉

      I love that photo at the end! Sometimes I just come back here to look at it and giggle, I won’t lie, lol.

      I’m having some writer’s block issues (*HEAD DESK*), but the current plan has her right back in college at the beginning of the next chapter.

  4. I understand that Jo wants to be with her family, but, I feel like her being in college allows her to grow up and mature. So I’m glad she’s sticking it out, even if it is hard. I’d want to be home too if I found out my mom and dad were having another baby. Although… In the next couple years I could be having my own baby! O.o that’s a thought to ponder on…

    But yeah, it was cool how they all blurted it out at once. Gus’ was obviously the most impacting. I felt as though each kids news escalated XD And then the room went dead silent. And Toby and his comment made me chuckle. He’s so adorable with his love for animals. He’s gonna be a little vet one day, so cute! I love Gem! She is adorable! Such a cutie.

    Great chapter! So cute.

    1. I feel like the older I get, the faster time flies. I never remembered years being so quick before. It gets to a point where you’re like wow, if you fast forward 5-6 years from now (probably less for you!), it is entirely likely that I’ll have a new job, get married, and have a baby. Um, what?! How could such little time bring such dramatic changes?! And yet in a year of middle school the most that would typically happen is you’d lose some friends and gain others. Craziness. A thought to ponder indeed….

      Augustus’ news definitely had the most impact, which is why I saved his for last, hehe. I did indeed intend to escalate the severity of the confessions XD Thanks so much! I love all of James and Candice’s children–they’re super adorable and really smart too! ❤

  5. That last picture! SO FUNNY! I really liked this little snapshot into how the family is doing back at home. W didn’t know Jo’s siblings that well and they all have unique personalities. I loved getting to know them.

    First off, I think James is really brave for trying to give up on the medication. I agree that you can get hooked on the stuff and he’s going through it in a sensible way. He’s more centred than I’ve ever seen him and I hope this time that he has the strength, and support, to follow through. The new baby will definitely be a challenge though. Was it planned? James has grown up so well. He’s definitely looking fine 😉

    Poor Augustus. Going through something like that is really difficult and he’s lucky that he has an open-minded and supportive family to help him make his way through. He also has Mitch and Chris to give him advice. He’ll be fine. He had the biggest ‘confession’ to make, but I think hearing his brother and sister admitting their mistakes gave him the strength to admit it finally. I agree though that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. You love who you love and anyone who tells you that loving someone of the same sex is wrong is not worth listening to. He’s inherited the Chinese heritage hasn’t he?!

    I see what you meant about Gemma and Oliver. If they were closer in age and Oliver wasn’t head over heels for Joanne, they’d be the perfect match. She is so uniquely beautiful, and has that geeky ‘girl next door charm’. I can see a lot of James in her.

    Tobias is adorable, and I can sense that he’s going to be another smart one when he gets older. I’m guessing that because he’s so shy and introverted, he’ll make friends in the animal kingdom instead.

    As for Jo, she has her own confession to make. She’s clearly not happy in college, and is there only on sufferance. Like Gus, she doesn’t want to let down her family who expect such great things from her. In reality, she’s hiding something from them, and herself, and damaging herself in the process. She needs to follow in her brothers footsteps and be honest and upfront with her loved ones. The same can also be said for Oliver. She loves him, and doesn’t want to hurt him, but in actuality, her omission will cause more harm than good. As each of her family members admitted something about themselves, it was painfully obvious to me that Jo is hiding.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this little snapshot of life back at home. I felt bad that thus far none of James and Candice’s children had really had much in the way of character development, so I took this opportunity to provide everyone with a little more insight as to who each of them are. There’s still quite a bit that’s unsaid here, of course, but at least this gives people an idea 🙂

      Yes! Totally. Many people are on these medications for life, and while I wouldn’t fault anyone who needs to be, it was very important to James to at least try to cope with life without it. It isn’t easy, but as you said he’s going through this in the most sensible way possible and is doing this with a lot of support as well, not only from his therapist, but from his wife as well. The baby is a bit of an interesting story. They originally did talk some about having one more child, so they had begun to try, but the attempt wasn’t successful. They had just finally decided that you know what, this is enough, when lo and behold Candice found out she was pregnant! Funny how life works 😉 It’s an added challenge to be sure, but as you said James is more centered than he’s ever been before and this fact will aid him greatly. Lastly, I know right!? I love my handsome James 😉 Wait until you see him later–all those years of staring at computer screens makes glasses a new necessity and boy does he wear them well, hehe 😉

      Augustus is so fortunate! Although I believe that more and more people are becoming accepting of homosexuality, there are still those who are wildly against it and would be more than upset by his confession, but of course his family is nothing but supportive. They truly don’t view it as anything wrong because, of course, there really is nothing wrong with it! Just another facet of an individual like having blue eyes or brown hair. Totally agree! And yes he has indeed inherited quite a few traits from his Chinese background. He and Joanne inherited the most of those traits than any of the other children; Augustus with his eyes and Joanne with her nose. Then of course they both have dark hair. On that note, I loved the variety among the siblings, although it made no sense to me that none of them had skin that was even remotely darker than James’ despite Candice being their mother. Pfft, stupid game, lol.

      Gemma meanwhile is indeed the most similar to James in looks. In fact, she almost looks like a female version of him, although there are some subtle differences. Regardless her looks are extremely striking. She’s the most beautiful teen I’ve ever had in my game. She’s not yet an adult (like 1 day away), so I don’t know how she’ll look yet, but I can probably guess that she’ll look great. Of course, most importantly I’m sure she’ll be as bright as ever! She really is quite a genius 😀

      Tobias isn’t necessarily shy, but he’s definitely very introverted. He spends most of his time on his own studying animals, so like you said most of his friends are in the animal kingdom. He just sort of prefers their company to that of people though; not because he’s uncomfortable around people per se, but more so because he’s even more comfortable with animals, if that makes sense.

      As always you hit the nail right on the head with Joanne! It is very telling that every person present at that family meeting shared information EXCEPT Joanne. Even her parents had the announcement of the pregnancy to tell. Joanne though? Absolute silence regarding personal information about herself DESPITE the fact that she clearly has plenty of things on her mind. Her continuous habit of omission will indeed have adverse effects on her life if she allows this trend to continue. Jo is very much hiding….

      Thank you as always for such an awesome comment! They never fail to make my day 🙂

  6. Joanne, Joanne… *sigh* LOL. It’s cute worrying about her dad, and Candice worrying also… but I think it’s because I relate to James that although I see the worrying as a good thing on the surface, it’s actually quite annoying. What the worrying says is that Candice and Joanne don’t have faith in James to be okay without being babied. Even if Candice and Joanne don’t say that, that’s what it feels like. I had never gone on medication to get myself out of my depression, and I’m lucky I hadn’t because I can’t even imagine having to be dependent on a medicine just to feel normal. I have heard some people say that when they are medicated, they feel as if they’re in a fog, even though their illness may be under control. I completely understand James just wanting to prove to himself maybe, that he can be okay without the help of a drug.

    I’m not surprised Joanne came home and found everything changed, people grow up and have their own lives. I wonder if that is part of a problem Joanne has, where she either doesn’t like it, or doesn’t understand how to deal with it, which is why she’s having such a hard time with Oliver and Hannah. LOL I love singed Sims, they just look so hilarious. I almost wanted to yell at Gemma for yelling such private information, but when no one heard her, I was relieved. Taking a gay person’s ‘coming out’ moment away from them, by outing them before they have a chance to tell people themselves, is an incredibly bad thing to do, it’s something really personal and scary, so I’m glad no one heard her. I’m not surprised that Augustus was feeling so uncomfortable even though he knew he had gay uncles. Not all people are the same, so just because Augustus had gay uncles, it doesn’t mean that he himself is just automatically going to be okay with what he’s feeling because everyone’s journey is different.

    LMAO Tobias, ‘what’s gay?’ Good question… good question. XD Also… Gemma reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He’s very logical and doesn’t understand feelings very well, and often gets called a robot.

    1. That’s exactly how James feels sometimes; that they don’t have faith in his ability to remain strong. Of course, outwardly neither Candice nor Joanne would ever say that they doubted his ability, but then if they truly had no doubts they wouldn’t be so worried. James understands where they’re coming from, but it still sort of…hurts sometimes, knowing they don’t completely trust him in that sense :/ Thus I think he feels extra motivation to prove that he is in fact able to do this. Well, that he really doesn’t want to be on medication for life. Sure it can be helpful in the moment, but medication is rarely intended to be used for life–the idea is to develop the coping skills, etc. needed so that eventually, you can live without it. Now there are those who may need to be on it for life, but James wants to at least try to go without it and he is embarking on the process to doing so in the best way possible. He’s not about to mess things up for himself–not when he’s come so far. ❤

      Hmmm. It seems like maybe Joanne has an inability to see that the world goes on regardless of whether or not she's around to witness it. Then, when she realizes that it does, she feels sad for having not observed the changes in the first place. It's sort of the tunnel-vision thing coming into play again though, and it's something that will continue to come up for her. She gets such a restricted way of viewing the world sometimes; so completely focused on one thing that other things fall away. Then when she takes a step back to widen her view, as she will every so often, she's surprised to see that things have changed. Perhaps we need to hope then that she'll keep her eyes a little more open from now on…..

      LOL I think singed sims look hilarious too, so I just HAD to include that image when Gemma very nearly blew herself up with the chemistry set. I've never watched The Big Bang Theory *dodges things being thrown at her*, but from your description Gemma does sound like she shares similar characteristics to Sheldon. She really doesn't understand feelings too well, which is why she didn't see why her brother was "making such a big deal" about coming out. Of course, it is something that's very personal and very scary and it was really causing Augustus a lot of distress until he finally mustered up the needed strength and courage to do so. Luckily, his family was indeed very accepting, but still Gemma shouldn't have tried to force it before Gus was ready to reveal that information! As you aptly pointed out, everyone's journey is different.

      Bahahahaha, yes Tobias, good question! I still love that image of them all to pieces, lmao. Then again, I just love this family 😉

  7. Joanne really should communicate with Oliver and tell him she’s more career oriented, that she wants to establish herself within the singing industry before she even begins to think about settling down. He seems to care rather deeply for her and I’m fairly certain that if he knows what she wants, he’ll be okay with it and understand and if he doesn’t because he’s so focused on the delusional (and a teeny bit selfish) future he thinks they both want, then he isn’t good for her at all.

    It was lovely seeing everyone at home! It’s really strong of James to come off of his medication and I hope that Joanne and Candice are completely supportive of him and understand that he wants to prove to himself that he’s better. It’s exciting that they’re expecting another baby; their children are so adorably stunning, I’m sure baby number five will be as well, haha. 😉

    It’s so great that everyone is so accepting of Augustus and loving and supportive; he’s not weird or abnormal or wrong or a disappointment for being gay, it’s how he was born and he cannot help who he loves. ❤

    Great chapter! 😀

    1. Joanne really does need to do that, but it looks like she may have inherited her father’s tendency of keeping things bottled-up inside. Argh. For a girl who’s trying hard not to repeat her father’s mistakes, she seems to be making quite a few of them herself. Then again, they are more similar than is initially apparent.

      Also, I’m so glad that you picked up on the whole “delusional (and a teeny bit selfish) future he thinks they both want” bit because I’m pretty sure you’re the first who has! Or at least, of people who’ve commented, lol. Everyone is on Oliver’s side, which is fine of course because he is a great guy and Jo’s not really doing all the right things here, but there is this touch of a unsettling feeling around Oliver because he’s just assuming that all of this is what Joanne wants. Now, Joanne should of course speak up and correct him, but she’s too afraid to do so, especially because she already has fears around Oliver slipping away from her. If she said what was really on her mind, wouldn’t that push him away even more? Or at least, that’s Joanne’s reasoning here. Not a good situation :/

      Thanks!! I’m so glad you felt that way. This was honestly one of my favorite chapters to write because I indeed got to show everyone back home, as well as develop the characters of James and Candice’s other wonderful children a little bit more 🙂

      Eeeee, yes! James is taking that next step and it’s very brave 🙂 He really has become such a strong person, even if he still has difficulties seeing this himself. Joanne doesn’t really know about this, but Candice (although she does have her reservations) will of course support James every step of the way–as will his other children. Baby number five is definitely sure to be stunning–just as all of James’ children have been!

      Very happy you feel that way! I absolutely love Augustus. As you’ll see, he’s a very good person and the fact that he’s gay doesn’t minimize this in any way shape or form–nor should it even be a thought that it would!! It’s just, like you said, how he was born and he can’t help who he loves. I adore Augustus, so you’ll for sure get to see more of him (and his lovely twin, Gemma!) in the future 🙂

      Thank you!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. Heh… “What’s ‘gay’?” Bwhahahahahahahahahaha! XD Tobias is just too cute! And that ‘family confession’, yeah, awesome update. A nice break for Jo and readers, in my opinion.

  9. OMG, Tobias… 😀
    That was hilarious.

    Jo and Oliver? Sometimes it’s hard to decide when it’s better to end things. I mean, he’s a nice dude and she has nothing against him. Can’t blame her for not making a decision now.
    I’m a world famous procrastinator too, so I can relate…

    1. Hahaha, glad that you enjoyed it.

      Hmmm such a decision is very hard, especially when she really does care for him. As you said, she has “nothing against him” and I think that makes it even more difficult to process her feelings about a future with him. In fact, it even makes her feel bad about it. After all, if she can’t think of anything wrong about him and she loves him, why in the world should she end things? And yet, something is clearly not right…..

      Thank you for reading and commenting! ❤ ❤ ❤

  10. I burst out laughing at the end XD
    The siblings are a treat! And obviously your parents could care less if you were gay or straight Gus!
    Aww makes me sad, but Oliver and Jo probably shouldn’t stay together if their views don’t match up. Maybe they could come to a happy compromise? Of course they’d need to sit down and talk about it first.

    1. Hehe–I’m glad I could make you laugh =)

      I adore the siblings and can’t help but write about them every now and then.

      Of course not! But Gus certainly did fear that they would. He feared that they’d be disappointed, which was almost a worst thought that if they’d disapproved. Obviously they didn’t though–they love him as much as they ever did…and in fact feel a little confused as to why their son would ever think otherwise! But our fears can definitely get the best of us sometimes…..

      A conversation is definitely necessary because there’s some clear mismatches here and as of right now Oliver doesn’t even know about them. It’s unfair to them both if things continue like this.

  11. Loved this post 🙂 It’s so funny, and I love seeing the other kids! And Gemma is sooo pretty, after reading this I had to summon a lot of willpower not to skip to Augustus and Gemma Specials because I’m really curious about them, and Tobias is so sweet, they are such a great family. 🙂

    About Jo… Since reading all generations in a short period of time I notice all the heirs have some problems in communication 😀 Reed, Tamara, James and now Jo… Maybe it’s a Winters gene 😀 Or maybe I’m noticing because I recognize myself there 😛

    1. Thank you!!! It’s one of my favorite chapters in this generation and it’s when I officially fell in love with the other kids too. After I wrote this, I knew there was no way I would be able to resist not including more of their stories later. I didn’t realize that would mean I’d write a whole separate arc for them, but I regret nothing, LOL.

      Gemma is seriously gorgeous and she only gets more so as she grows up. My goodness. How even!? Then again, Candice is her mother and she’s an absolute stunner, so it only makes sense. In fact, Gemma looks a LOT like Candice when she grows up, only she has her dad’s coloration. A nice mixture of them to be certain.

      Hahaha, yes, resist skipping ahead, but I am excited to see what you’ll think when you get there ^_^ Tobias is definitely a sweetieeeee. You’ll see more of him in the Specials as well! Love this family so much ❤ Lol.

      Oh god it’s 100% a Winters thing. At first it was kind of accidental and likely the result of a bit of myself seeping into my characters, but now I do it purposefully, haha. In fact, I will say that this trend is going to begin breaking down later in this generation, to the point where it should be fairly shattered with the next heir. Still, it’s a pretty trademark trait of the Winters, so despite how many times they have to learn this lesson the hard way, it seems that for each of them it takes an extra lesson more =P

      Thank you for reading and commenting! ❤ ❤ ❤

      1. hahaha I’m glad you did an arc just for them 🙂 I can’t ever play legacies because I can’t bare to send any of the children away haha and I get sad when people disappear in other’s stories as well, and now getting to know James and Candice’s kids I would be heart broken if I didn’t hear more about them so I can’t wait to get to the specials 😀

        It’s cool they have their own thing, even if they are all so different it’s nice they have simmilarites as well, so it worked out good even if it was accidental 🙂

        Thank you again for reading and replying even though I’m a little behind 🙂 ❤

        1. Oh my gosh, I know. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with losing James and Candice. They’re still alive in my game right now and I don’t think I can stand watching them die ;__; I mean I have their Sims saved, but STILL. That’s going to ruin me…especially because as the generations go on I get more and more attached to the characters (hence story arcs for some of the spares now too haha).

          Aw, yes, no problem! Like I said I love reading your comments and no comment is ever too late ^_^

  12. That ending was perfect haha. And that family hug! ❤ I loved seeing all the other family members. And Tobias is a sweetheart, and very smart to remember the latin names for things. I don't even remember the latin names for the damn fish or whales I've been studying for years hahah. Though I DO remember the name "puffinus puffinus" which is actually the Manx Shearwater and not a puffin. There's a fact to wow your friends with 😛

    1. Ahh, thank you!!!! This was one of my favorite chapters to write in this generation, which actually should have been a sign to me from the start that I wouldn’t be able to not come back to Joanne’s siblings, lol. And thus the side-arcs with Gemma and Augustus. I fell in love with them too hard and too fast, and now I need to tell their stories too. Oh and yes, Tobias is in those side-arcs too! He’s a define sweetheart and has a remarkable memory for things that interest him.

      And OMG I am SO going to tell people that, LOL. Those are exactly the sorts of facts that I love spouting off to friends–I’m not even kidding! XD ❤

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