This time we enter the Dreamer residence, where Darren and Dirk carry on their lives after Darleen's untimely death.

"Dad, your paintings aren't going to cover all these bills! You need to get a proper job." Dirk loved his father's canvases but knew that they'd need a more steady income, at least for a time. He didn't want the Repo-man to pay a visit and take his one joy in life - the Playstation!
Darren sighed. "Okay son, I'll take a look later. Now you get off to school; don't want you neglecting your studies."
While Dirk caught the school bus to Verona Comprehensive over in the next borough, Darren picked up the newspaper. There wasn't much on offer, but a nice man named Rod Humble had just dropped off a package; when opened Darren found a computer. Hopefully he'd have better luck online.
It took perusing a few jobsites, but eventually Darren discovered what looked like an interesting career. Emailing his CV to the employer, he was offered a position in Oceanography. Okay, so messing about with fish was a lot different to messing about with a paintbrush, but if it kept their heads above water he was willing to do it. Anyway, Darren could still moonlight as an artist!
"Hey, cool career!" Dirk said on his return from school. He'd brought his friend Dustin over, who wasted no time in thrashing Dirk on SSX-3. He might have not had his mate's skills with a console controller, but pinball really hones a boy's reflexes!
"Dirk, I've been thinking," Darren said over dinner. "I know you miss your mum, and to be honest I don't think Darleen would want either of us to be unhappy..." His voice trailed off as he came to the difficult bit.
"Dad, what is it?" Dirk asked.
"Well... you know your friend Dustin lost his dad some years ago?" Dirk nodded. "I've been considering asking his mum Brandi to marry me."
Dirk's eyes widened. "Dad! Are you totally nuts?" he asked incredulously. "She's poorer than a church-mouse! You gotta find someone with money!"
"There's more to life than money, son. I love her, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her."
Dirk wasn't convinced. He loved the metallic smell of coins, even if they did make his fingers dirty. Having a woman who lived in a tiny place with barely enough room to swing a cat become his stepmother wasn't high on his list of priorities. Still, if it made his father happy...

"YES!" Brandi screamed the place down when Darren proposed the following day. He'd played it safe, inviting her over for drinks (now she was no longer pregnant it was safe for her to have whatever she liked!) before getting down on one knee. Aware of her large family and that it would become larger when he and Dirk moved in, Darren planned to save some cash from his job and buy a new house big enough for everyone. It was either that or build a second storey onto Brandi's place!

The prospect of becoming a stepbrother to Brandi's children took it's toll on Dirk. While pleased for his father, he wasn't too happy for himself, and it showed in his schoolwork. Instead of his grades remaining in the "A" range, they dropped to a "B" as he didn't feel like studying. The dart-board and the Playstation held more allure. Well, those and Lilith, whom he invited over for some fun! He was also wanting to go to college, and so took a part-time job in Journalism to start his savings. Yes, he'd get a §500 grant automatically just for going, but that wouldn't get him far. Time to work on some scholarships!

Autumn arrived, with its trees dropping their (albeit pretty coloured) leaves all over the lawn. Darren tried raking them up but his job prevented him from doing much more. Dirk helped out on Thursday after he got back from work, but by then the daylight was failing. As he got out the watering-can, a familiar figure appeared by the gravestone under the weeping willow. It was the ghost of Darleen!
She'd never approved of her son's relationship with the "bad girl of Pleasantview", aka Lilith Pleasant, and wasn't afraid to show her disdain. After floating about for a bit, she came across Dirk by the back door, intent on watering the geraniums...
"BOO!" Dirk jumped a mile in the air, his pulse racing. The last time he'd been that scared was when the kitchen caught fire six years ago! He'd woken up to find the place blackened and his mother gone. Darren had told him what happened: he'd left some toaster pastries in the oven, and Darleen had raced inside to find the stove in flames. She'd bravely tried to extinguish it, but had died when the fire spread to the counters either side. The two of them had buried her remains under her favourite tree, but neither had had any idea she'd return to haunt them!
Dirk was still struggling with his studies by the time the weekend arrived, so knew that for now at least, two scholarships were out (SimCity Scholars and the Young Entrepreneur). There was still time for those, but he wanted to get something NOW! His paintings looked like kids' pictures, and he couldn't play chess to save his life... what could he do?
To help him think, Dirk switched on the radio, tuning it into the College Rock station. To his surprise, he found his foot tapping, then he had an urge to dance.
Let's face it, to begin with he was terrible, falling over every time he tried a twirl, but before long he worked out moves that he COULD do! Shaking his booty soon became more appealing than SSX-3, and for the rest of the weekend he could be found upstairs in Darren's studio. Darren even joined him on occasion!
It took some hard work but soon Dirk got a phone call. The local dance instructor had seen him through the window and was very impressed. So impressed in fact, that she'd called to offer him the Tsang Footwork Award, which he would receive the day he moved to University. Dirk was delighted.

So, will Darren and Dirk move in with Brandi and her six children and extend the house? Or will they hire an architect and build a new place? One thing's for sure: expect a lot of loving next time!
 


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