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The Price of It - Part 1



Aaron and Mari Green are 47; Riley and Joel are 14; Marina and Jody are 7.
Cory Green is 49; Maggie Kauffmann is 14; April Newson is 26.


March 2025



The sun was only just coming up when Aaron Green left for work.


Well, it was spring now, he reasoned, the days would be getting longer soon.  But it was still an early start and, after years of teaching at the local high school a few minutes away, he wasn't used to a long commute.  One more thing to add to the 'against' side of the mental list of pros and cons he'd been keepings since he'd started working as a guest lecturer at Redwood City Tech.


There was a good chance he'd be offered a permanent position at the conclusion of the short-term contract... but he'd also been offered the position of headmaster at the high school.  They'd said they would keep the position open for a month, to allow him to work out his contract at the university and make a decision about what to do next.

But at the start of the second week, he was no closer to coming to any conclusions, beyond the fact that he didn't like the early starts.  Dark or not, he missed seeing his family in the morning.  He'd be half way to the city before they even sat down to breakfast...

"Hey, Mum," Riley said, "can Maggie come round after school?"


Mari nodded.  "That's fine.  Ben already asked."
Riley stared down at her food, then pushed the plate away. "I''m going," she said.


"Riley?" Mari asked, as she stalked out of the room. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Riley yelled back.
"It doesn't look like nothing."
"I just want to get to school early, ok?  It's nothing."  She grabbed her bag and slammed the front door behind her.
Mari looked at Riley's twin brother questioningly.  Ben just shrugged.


Before she had the chance to ask any more, the phone rang.
"Oh, hi Cory.... no, he's already left.  Is something wrong?"


She involuntarily gripped the handset tighter as he replied, but she kept her expression neutral.  "You might be able to catch him on his cellphone before he goes into class," she said.

The kids were watching, and there was no point in worrying them before school.

---- 

Looking around the room full of expectant - and not-so-expectant - faces, Aaron realised that college kids still bewildered him.



Ok, so the youngest weren't that much older than the eldest in high school, but that was part of the problem.  Kids seemed to expect that moving out of the family home would magically turn them into adults...


In reality, though, many of them were poorly equipped to handle the freedom, and the responsibility that came with it.


Like this class of first year students.  The lecture room was often half-empty because the kids had been there long enough to realise that no one was going to chase them to class... but not long enough to appreciate the consequences this would have on their grades.  And the ones that were there, were often barely awake after an evening of no curfews, no set bedtime and no one to monitor their intake of junk food, alcohol and partying.


In the short time that he'd been there, he could see that the kids who usually achieved the most in that early period, were the ones that still lived in a family home.  Usually.  There were a still a few that concerned him.


And it that wasn't always practical, or even desirable, for kids to stay at home... they had to grow up sometime.  If only they weren't expected to do it, magically, the day after they moved into the dorm...

----

Debra, the junior professor he was sharing an office with, was at her desk when he got back.
"So, how was the class?"  she asked.

Aaron shrugged.  "Ok, I guess... " 
"Don't sound too excited... "
He sighed.  "I still don't know if this is really for me, " he muttered, pulling his cellphone out of the drawer.

 He frowned as he read the message on it, then dialled a number.  He didn't look any happier, when he eventually ended the call.
"Damn..."
"What's wrong?"
"My father's in hospital.  It's the second time in a few months, too..."
"Is he ok?"
"Well, my brother said that they think its not too serious, he'll be able to go home in a few days, but..."


"... but you'd still rather be there, right?"
Aaron nodded.
"What's your schedule like?"
"I've got another lecture in about 10 minutes..." He paused thoughtfully.  "... then I've got two hours before the next one..."
"So go to the hospital after your lecture.  It's only a few minutes from here."
"I've got to use that time to grade assignments."


"Grade the assignments tonight at home.  You'll be able to concentrate better anyway, when you know your father's ok."

Aaron nodded slowly.  He'd never been a person to put his work off any longer than he had to, but she was right, of course.  Maybe it wasn't just the students who needed to learn some lessons in managing their time.


He picked up his phone and called Cory, to let him know he'd be there in about an hour.

----

"Sorry, your father's at work," Mari told her stepdaughter.


 "I know," said April, "but I've got the day off... and it's still kind of weird at home, with no one else around."
Mari smiled sympathetically.  "I'll make coffee," she said.


"You miss Gavin?" Mari asked.
"I shouldn't," April said.  "I mean I was the one who left... but... sometimes I think I do, and sometimes I just don't know if I miss him, or if I just miss being with someone."  She paused.  "That sounds terrible, doesn't it?"
"It sounds like you're thinking it through.  That's a good thing."
"Something else happened," April said.  "He called.  He wants to see me."


"Did he give you any idea why?"
April shrugged.  "Not really...  I'll find out soon enough, we're having dinner Friday night."

It was a while before Mari spoke. She hadn't wanted to bring this up, but she couldn't really ignore it, either.   "I hate to give you more bad news," she said, "but there's something else you need to know."
"About grandad in hospital?"


"So you already heard?" Mari was never quite sure of the lines of communication in situations like this... not with a family this complicated.  In college, Aaron's high school girlfriend had simultaneously dated both him, and his twin brother.  By the end of their second year, Marsha was pregnant to Aaron, and engaged to Chris.  When they'd graduated, Marsha and Chris had married and moved away, and Aaron had taken his daughter to raise alone.

"Mum called me when Uncle Chris found out," April said.  Mari nodded.  Although it was years before the two brothers even spoke to each other again, Aaron had ensured that April maintained contact with her mother, spending the summers with her while she was growing up.

Mari had been a single parent, too, when she met Aaron.  They'd formed a close family;  Aaron and April, Mari and her son Steven.  So much so, that she and Aaron had never even considered having a child together, until Steven and April were in their teens.  When Riley and Joel had been born, they'd thought their family complete, but the younger twins, Jody and Marina, were an unexpected addition six years later.


"Call me any time you want to talk,"  Mari said, although she already knew that April would.  She had a good relationship with her mother, but with Marsha six hours away, it was usually Mari she turned to first.

The school bus pulled up as April left.  As Mari watched Ben and Reilly get off with their friend Maggie, she remembered the way the girl had stormed out during breakfast.  She tried to remember if April had been that moody as a teenager, but she wasn't sure.  Maybe it was just her age, but Mari wished that Reilly would feel as comfortable to discuss her problems, as older sister did.

---

Riley cringed.  They were at it again.


She and Maggie had been friends for over a year now, since the first day of high school.  Riley remembered how big and busy the school had seemed back then...


It was even worse for Maggie, who'd only ever been to the tiny primary school in Bluewater Village.  There was no high school out there, so now she had to bus up to Richmond every day.


 Next to her little town and her family's farm, she said, Richmond felt like the big city.


It didn't take long for them to become best friends.  At first, shy Maggie had been a bit bewildered by Joel's teasing and joking around.


Riley had encouraged them to get to know each other, though.  She wanted her twin brother and her best friend to like each other.


She just hadn't quite wanted them to like each other quite as much as they did now...


---

"So, what exactly did the doctor say?"  Aaron asked.


 "I mean, I know they said he'd probably be well enough to go home in a few days," he went on, when Cory didn't answer, "but this has happened twice in - what - six months.  He never really got over it completely the first time.  Did the doctor say anything about that?"
Still no answer.

"Cory... Cory?" 
Cory just stared out the window, apparently unaware that Aaron was even talking to him.


Aaron got up and tapped his brother on the shoulder. "Hey, Cory, are you ok?"  When he didn't respond, Aaron shook him a little harder.  This time, he jumped like he'd been hit.  Aaron jumped back, too.

"Sorry," said Cory.  "I didn't hear you there."
"Yeah, I noticed," said Aaron.  "I said, are you ok?"
Cory nodded.  "Why?"
"Well, for starters, I'm standing right behind you and you don't even notice me."
"I was thinking."


"You must have been thinking really hard..."
"I was.".  He avoided meeting Aaron's eyes.  "Look, I've got a lot to think about right now, ok.  I mean, because of Dad... and..."  He trailed of without finishing the sentence.


Aaron took a deep breath.  He'd heard all this before, more than once.  These past few weeks, Cory had been so... absent-minded wasn't even the right term for it.  Maybe just, absent.

So he had a lot on his mind.  Well, it wasn't like he was the only one.  Serdar was Aaron's father too... then there was this job... and his daughter had left her husband, his other daughter was suddenly acting like she couldn't stand the brother she'd always been close to... hell, he had a lot to think about, too.  But at least he wasn't so wrapped up in his own problems that he didn't give a care about what was going on with anyone else.

But none of this was new for Cory, Aaron realised.  When he thought about it, well, his brother had spent the better part of his life moody and withdrawn.  Maybe Aaron shouldn't be so surprised to see him go back to the way he'd been.


The way he'd been...

The thought came suddenly, or maybe it had been there all the time, lurking in the side of his mind.  Waiting for the chance to stir up a fear that made his other problems seem insignificant by comparison.  "This isn't - " he started, suddenly determined to get to the bottom of it.


Then he stopped, caught Cory's attention again, and beckoned him to follow him into the hall.

"This isn't just now," he said, closing the door carefully behind them.  "This has been going on for a while."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Cory said.


"I think you do," said Aaron.  "The last few weeks, you've been on another planet.  I don't know what's going on, but every time I try to ask you, you brush me off."
"Then stop asking!"
"Cory, I just want to help you... I mean, if something's wrong, and I can - "
"I don't need any help.  I just need you to leave me alone."
"But - "
"I mean it!  Just get off my back!"  Cory turned and stormed back into their father's room.


Aaron took a few minutes to compose himself before he followed him.


He had a feeling he really wasn't going to be able to concentrate on those assignments tonight after all.

----

This is the first of three parts... a lot going on in Aaron's family.  Their complicated history happened as I wrote it... Aaron's girlfriend - my first YA pregnancy - cheated on him with his brother Chris, and ended up married to him, while Aaron raised the baby.  And, yes, there are two Aprils in my hood now - result of my guilt over killing off the first April

Serdar alluded to the twins' story in the prequel, when he said that Cory's brothers had some dramas in college... I've always imagined that this is part of the reason no one realised how troubled Cory was, even back then... he was the quiet one in the background while the big soap opera was going on with the others.  As for what's going on with Cory now, that will become clearer in the next two parts... all I'm saying is, I didn't do this!  He got into it all on his own, and he trashed the much simpler storyline I had planned... :)

Aaron's daughter April is married to Gavin Newson, but they're separated.  They had a kind of indifferent relationship... they never rolled wants for each other or anything, or even acted in a very romantic way towards each other... Gavin rolled more wants to interact with his siblings, than with his wife.


Sometimes when a couple are like that, I move one of them out and see what happens.  Sometimes they miss each other and start to roll wants, so I let them get back together - that's why Ruth Centowski Cadey took her husband (Melissa's father) back, after he cheated with Cory's ex - they rolled lots of wants for each other over several sim-days.  Sometimes, the couple don't roll wants for each other at all...Ashley divorced his first wife, because they didn't even give each other a thought, after she moved out.  And sometimes, something totally unexpected happens, which is why Cherry never came back from her vacation away from Kevin Beare, after she met Twikki Island local Talin... :)

April is rolling romantic wants, but not for Gavin - she just wants to flirt with someone etc.  Gavin has rolled wants for her a couple of times, but he's rolling more generic wants, too.  I'm going to play them each a couple more sim-days, before I decide what to do with them.

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