December started with their Grandpa John being admitted for a staph infection. Morgan wasn’t terribly concerned for her Dad, having seen it on elderly many times in her career, and she felt confident with her skills to get her Dad back on the mend and back home.
The girls were more rattled by it all, and they missed him terribly at home.
Vivienne ate trashy food when she felt stressed, and she spent most of her visiting time in the cafeteria, usually getting free food because her Mom was the Chief of Staff.
Cicely did not eat when stressed, and she couldn’t understand her sister’s relationship with food. Cicely was diligent, and she stayed with her Grandpa until she was told to leave.
Usually by her Mother, she’d send Cicely to do her part-time job in the pediatric unit. Morgan was concerned over both her daughters’ coping mechanisms, Cicely unable to set boundaries, and Vivienne eating into blissfulness were not healthy choices.
Cicely did feel better when her Mom forced her to go to her shift. If anything happened, she could blame her Mom or the nurse who sent her away, if she missed her Grandpa dying, then it wouldn’t be her fault.
She didn’t believe he’d die from this infection, but he was just shy of 80 years old, and she’d already lost her maternal Grandma.
Putting on her scrubs though, and preparing to head up to the pediatric unit gave Cicely a sense of purpose.
Quinn Gray was in for tonsillitis, but she was recovering quickly, and Cicely loved checking in on her.
Unlike her twin sister, Cicely felt certain about her future. She wanted two to three kids, and she absolutely wanted to be a pediatrician. She loved coming in and seeing Quinn’s face cheer, and watching her recover from an illness induced sleepiness into bright eyes and smiles.
Cicely was around enough to know Ms. Gray wasn’t with the Father, but Cicely had come across them in supply closet. She hadn’t disclosed of this information to anyone, and while she did feel it was in poor taste, she kept the secret and remained professional.
She told Ms. Gray that Quinn was recovering quickly, and she’d be going home soon. She wasn’t a doctor, but she’d overheard the Dr. Marcus and Nurse Caroline speaking, so she felt confident in her assurances.
Ms. Gray did not feel favorable for a teenager giving her any medical advice.
Cicely balked, trying to explain herself, but Ms. Gray was not interested in being calmed. She insisted Cicely stay away from her daughter and go back to study hall.
It was a hard lesson learned, and Cicely felt embarrassed by the entire situation. Her time with Quinn was over, which was only a matter of time since she was surely being sent home soon.
Caroline called her over to understand the raised voices from the room, it wasn’t often voices were raised in anger on the pediatric unit. Caroline explained how Riley hadn’t gone home in days, hadn’t showered, or changed her clothes, that she was exhausted from the ordeal, and none of it was personal.
But much like her own Mother, Cicely snapped. She had pride which wouldn’t allow her to be consoled by a nurse, even if she adored the nurse doing it. And she definitely didn’t want anyone to know she’d made such a huge mistake.
She felt bad for being rude to Caroline, but she needed space. She ran to the surgery hallway and cried. Everything felt huge and complicated. Her Grandpa was in the hospital, she was a senior in high school, she was probably breaking up with her secret boyfriend, and her entire future was just a breath away and she was scared to leave her family and Grandpa, just as much as she was ready to leave and start working toward her future.
Cicely gathered herself together, and she went to say goodnight to her Grandpa.
Vivienne found Cicely in the waiting room, just waiting out the clock until she could head home. She’d been at school working the locker room, when she felt like her twin sister needed her. She wouldn’t exactly call it a twin thing, more like an intuition.
They’d always known when their twin was down and in need of company. Cicely was relieved to see Vivienne in the waiting room, although she didn’t feel like sharing.
When Vivienne cracks a joke about their English teacher, Mrs. Grimsley, Cicely is pulled from her shell. Vivienne is always good at cracking jokes and bringing Cicely out of her own head.
Their Grandpa should be home for Christmas, and Quinn will be home soon, and all this makes Cicely feel better, knowing it’s temporary problems.
Back at the house, Cicely doubles her efforts to get a 4.0 GPA. Both the girls aspire to be Overachievers, Valedictorians of their class, and they are very close to achieving it.
Cicely spends her time studying medical books from her Mom’s personal library.
While Cicely has her plans, Vivienne is still uncertain about her future plans. It’s frustrating to her Mom, who was born knowing she’d be a doctor. But she has brought her grades up, and this has brought a tentative peace.
Morgan has been working longer hours than usual, taking care of her Dad, even though it’s not technically her ward. As Chief of Staff, most the employees don’t mention how she’s supposed to be up in Labor and Delivery.
She has an ad out for new doctors, and Hadley Millett graduates in the spring, but Dr. Marcus Dwyer is stretched thin, and Morgan doesn’t trust him with her Dad. So she works late, does paperwork, and watches her Dad.
Zeke is lucky, his Mom got pregnant when she was a teenager, and so she’s isn’t as old. Morgan already lost her Mom, and her Dad is nearly 80, it’s just a matter of time.
When he’s awake enough, he tells her to go home, usually by raising his voice and making the nursing staff anxious. But his shouts don’t rattle Morgan, she grew up with them, and she can be just as stubborn.
One of her newer nurses is annoyed having the Chief of Staff overlooking her shift. She’s been RN of the ICU ward for a year now, and she doesn’t need a patient’s daughter getting into her business and questioning her on every move.
She’s the only one to tell Morgan to go home, to let her know she’s meddling, and she needs to sleep.
She does do what Morgan asks, and while Morgan wouldn’t admit it, she does consider her words. Of course not enough to actually go home, but she can pull back on the demands and just do the things herself.
When Cicely comes back in after school the next day she finds her Grandpa feeling better. He’s awake and his infection is clearing. He will be home soon, and he’s already talking about all the pretty young staff, he’s especially fond of Hadley Millett.
While the family is all preoccupied, Zeke has been helping his son, Lewis get settled. In the past year, he’s asked his Dad for help in getting an apartment and making a life for himself.
It’s difficult, because his wife, Morgan doesn’t really care for Lewis, and he isn’t the most welcome at the house. It’s not Morgan’s fault as much as it is Lewis’ for his anger and all the fighting he did with her. Morgan allied with Caitlyn and Thomas, which was easy enough when Lewis wasn’t coming around, too occupied couch surfing, but now that he’s returned to the family, it’s complicated.
Zeke can’t disown his son, he was very hot-headed in his own youth, and his Mom, Kenzie helped raise Lewis after his ex-wife died. He believes in his son and the man he can become if given the opportunity.
Lewis had gotten Caitlyn pregnant on their high school senior trip, he’d been just a teen and it hadn’t been easy for Lewis. Caitlyn was extraordinary, and Lewis simply wasn’t ready, but he seems to want to make better choices now, and Zeke will support him.
Together they find a clean, affordable one-bedroom apartment in North Albany. It is close to Caitlyn and Thomas, and while Thomas won’t have his own bedroom when he visits, it’s all Lewis can afford with his current gig as a Bungee Jump Instructor. Zeke wants to bring Lewis into the IT world with him, but Lewis still wants some adventure in his life.
Lewis spoke with Caitlyn in private, letting her know he wanted to be a better Dad, and she believed him. Thomas wasn’t as positive over the new arrangement of visits. In the past Lewis had popped in and out of Thomas’ life, and he had let his son down more times than not; he’d have to prove himself to Thomas.
Thomas was thrilled his Grandpa Zeke was there though. Morgan and Zeke had been part of Thomas’ life since he was first born, and he was still over regularly. He especially liked visiting in the summer so he could swim in their pool.
Caitlyn is still hesitant over this new arrangement and when Thomas is busy telling his Grandpa about all the latest schoolyard drama, she questions Lewis on things like dinner, homework, and making sure Thomas bathes before bed. Lewis will take the couch while Thomas gets the bed on nights over.
She’s appeased though, and after she’s gone, the boys order pizza. Together they christen the new apartment with the first family dinner with the only men in the family, and Thomas really enjoys this time with his Dad and Grandpa. They hope to make it a regular event, and Lewis has insisted he’s going to learn how to actually cook, which makes both Zeke and Thomas a bit apprehensive.
Back at the house, the girls receive a letter, they’ve achieved their goals. Overachievers/Valedvictorians, they are the best of the class of 2032.
Cicely meets up with her secret-boyfriend, Chaz at Lincoln Park. He’s a junior, but he isn’t sure about attending university, he’s pretty sure he won’t. His Dad owns Holmes Automotive, and he’s pretty sure he plans to work there too.
She has things she wants to do, and she can’t see the point of staying with her high school boyfriend. She isn’t like Vivienne, who is happily still dating Monroe, ready to throw away a nonexistent future for love.
But seeing him now, waiting for her, and her heartbreaks knowing what she must do.
Cicely has goals she has to reach before she can embrace love, and as heartbroken as Chaz is, he isn’t surprised.
He never thought he could keep her, so this all makes sense to him.
Her Grandpa is home now, and Cicely knows the family will be rejoicing in the basement, reminiscing as Vivienne plays Grandma’s favorites on the piano for Grandpa.
Long after Chaz has walked home, Cicely lingers at Lincoln Park, enjoying the cold on her skin.
Cicely wants this moment to linger with her thoughts before she embraces the happiness her family feels over their academic accomplishment and Grandpa’s recovery.
Notes: This is the first time I can recall getting my teens to the Overachiever status, and both the girls got it done. It was one reason I played their household so early in this round, seeing they graduate in the spring.
Cicely wasn’t rolling any wants for Chaz, and they never brought their relationship out into public, so I thought it was time to let Chaz free. The girls will attend EU in the fall, and I’m not sure Chaz will follow them once he graduates.
Lewis is set up in his own apartment. He’s been couch surfing for several years now, and while Morgan and Lewis did not get along (which he almost entirely instigated on his own), Zeke and Lewis are in an okay relationship.
Thanks for reading, I hope everyone is doing well!