Sunday, 5 November 2017

2.24 Intruding

Guy cries at the new waste of money  beautiful machine of science that Sun brought with her. 

All that wonderful! So... expensive. 

Once he gets over its astronomical price, he gets distracted by the fancy looking console. 

Oooh, science! 

He's just randomly tapping buttons, but what if he discovers something? What if he finds the cure to some disease? 

What if he could make a clone? That would be cool! 

Meanwhile downstairs, Sun is freaking out about an imperfect clone of her own. 

She's pregnant. 

The initial wave of panic becomes a deep sense of dread. She wasn't supposed to stay here forever. Carrying Paolo's baby makes her living situation- and her life- so much more complicated. She was going to quit her job and put her engineering degree to use after finding a place and saving up a little. Now she has a child to provide for. She does. She can't imagine Paolo wanting to play house with a woman he just started dating. Plumbob, she was so stupid! Why did she move in with a guy she's barely seeing seriously? He even has two kids! 

How is Paolo going to feel about all of this? 

Then another thought hits her; she never even broke it off with the other guy she was seeing. He might think the kid is his! 

Sun buries her face in her hands. What is she going to do? 

Tula walks in and sees Sun hurry dramatically out the front door. She arches an eyebrow; something tells her that Sun's going somewhere interesting. 

This warrants an investigation. 

Anxiety and panic lancing through her veins, Sun half walks, half sprints into the art gallery. She's going to break it off with Michael. They haven't seen each other in a while, but not long enough for it to be mathematically certain that this baby isn't his. Sun knows it probably isn't, but that "probably" isn't too reassuring. 

No need to tell Michael though. Telling him would then require telling Paolo that the baby might not be his and...and... 

Too complicated! She has a plan. She just needs to follow it. 

Michael smiles at Sun as she greets him, stumbling through small talk. She seems nervous- more so than usual- and he wonders what it could be. He might have picked up a knack for sniffing unease as a journalist, but Sun isn't too hard to read. Her hands fidget by her sides and her smile seems tense. 

Once Sun finally gets through her little questionnaire, Michael opens his mouth to speak. "What's wrong, Sun? You seem like you want to tell me something." 

Sun smiles- still a bit unnaturally, Michael notices- and says in a quick jumble, "I've uh started seeing someone- well, er, moved in with him- and I think we should stop dating." 

Michael isn't too pleased about this. 

"We date for a year and you just start seeing someone without telling me?" 

Sun flinches. When Paolo went AWOL, she just sort of...continued things with Michael. It wasn't ever serious, at least she didn't think so. 

"But you never asked me to be your girlfriend," she says innocently. 

Michael stares at her, astounded, "We both weren't seeing anyone else! We even talked about this, remember?" 

Her face flushes. They did, one particularly romantic night when they went camping under the stars together. She might have possibly got caught up in the moment, and made a few promises about their relationship that she didn't ever think about following up on... 

Aside from disinterested art gallery visitors, there is one witness to Sun's spectacular screw-up. 

Tula can't really hear what they're saying through this glass, but she doesn't need to. It's obvious from the way the man looks at Sun that they're involved, or used to be anyways. He seems quite angry with her. 

She stares, dispassionately but engaged, as Sun waves her hands around, probably in an attempt to get the man to lower his voice. She's embarrassed of this interaction. Tula wonders why; sure, Sun is with her dad, but by making such a big deal out of it, she's only inviting attention. Besides, why would her dad care that Sun's seeing someone else? As far as Tula knows, they haven't agreed to any terms of commitment yet, beyond the normal responsibilities of a housemate. And even if they did, Sun should either revise the terms or not make such a big fuss about it. Simple. 

She watches with mild confusion as the man reaches up to touch Sun's face, only to have his hand roughly swatted away. Is he angry or sad? Rough or tender? It's hard to tell. 

She obviously has more to learn about romantic interpersonal relationships. She takes out her phone and snaps a few pictures, wanting to have both evidence and data from this particular case-study. 

After coming home, Tula uploads the photos of the secret meeting from her phone onto a USB stick. Who knows when this could come in handy? 

Sun comes home not long after, and goes upstairs to talk to Paolo. Her resolve to announce their impending bundle of joy fizzles when she sees that he's fast asleep. 

She glances at his dresser, which becomes staring when she notices the pictures of Krista. Everyone heard about what had happened to her. Hell, Sun's sister was one of the paramedics that saw Krista...dead. Nakisha had told Sun in a low, somber tone that she had never seen so much blood in her life, that sometimes she still felt guilty about being too late. 

And somehow, knowing that, Krista had never been brought up between Sun and Paolo. The tiny town's first murder in Watcher-knows-how-long and they just...never spoke of it. He was married to her, and has a daughter with her, but he never talks about Krista. 

It shouldn't bother her. It's been years since then, and maybe Paolo just wanted to move on, but the thought persists. What if she's pregnant with the child of a man hung up on someone else? What if she's intruding? 

Quietly, she creeps out of the room. This wasn't for her to see.

Paolo wakes up early the next morning for work, completely unaware that someone else was in here. He's always slept in here, ever since becoming an adult. It never occurred to him that he could sleep downstairs with Sun, or put away the old photos and their bittersweet memories. 

Everything is, more or less, as it always has been in this room, except for the fact that he now sleeps alone. 

Sun calls in sick for work, feeling nauseous enough for it not to be an excuse. With Paolo gone for training for the day, Sun is jittery and on-edge in the house. 

So she does what she does best; busy work. She's found that she can't stop a task until it's really finished, just how she wants it. 

The exact precision needed in engineering soothes her and occupies her for most of the day. Why can't this be her job? She much prefers it to tending to the mostly boring and sometimes aggressive plants at the lab. Living things have a way of doing what they shouldn't be. At least when a machine breaks down, it can be fixed. A dead plant? Pft, no way. 

And at least machines don't need to eat. She has to stop her little time-suck project and get a late lunch. 

She finishes her meal quickly, but barely tastes any of it. Without something to occupy her, Sun's thoughts turn back towards reality; she's pregnant, and Paolo needs to know. 

But does he really? Maybe it's a false alarm...maybe her period's just late... 

Even as she tells herself these things, she knows it's not true. 

The sound of the door opening pulls her out of her panicked reverie. 

Oh crap, it's him, she feels her stomach drop. 

Caught between her instinct to flee and her rational decision to talk to Paolo, Sun is paralysed. Before she can make any moves, Paolo's already in her path, talking to her. 

Except she's not hearing a word he's saying. He must notice, because he suddenly stops speaking and trails off. 

"...are you alright?" 

The question is asked innocently, but it tears through Sun's immobility. Suddenly she feels irritated beyond belief. 

"Do I look okay? Gosh, Paolo! No, no I'm not!" 

Paolo stares, surprised, "What's wrong?" 

Sudden tears of frustration prick her eyes. She knows she's being irrational, but she can't seem to stop herself. 

"I...I'm pregnant and I don't know what to do!" she cries, throwing her hands up in frustration. 

Paolo can only make this panicked-happy expression. "Pregnant?" 

"Yes! Pregnant! With your baby!" she exclaims. She sighs, then pinches the bridge of her nose. 

"I-I...I always thought I'd be having kids if I were married, you know? And you and I aren't even proper boyfriend and girlfriend," she says with a sigh, "We live together and stuff, but we aren't together-together, y'know? And I feel a bit old to be a mom...but not really ready to be a mom either, and you already have Tula and Guy and you might not even want another kid...or me..." 

"Sun, wait, no, don't talk like that. Of course I want to be with you. I wanted you to move in here, right?" Paolo is quick to soothe her, "And any baby we're going to have is going to be our kid. Of course I'll love them." 

"You say that now," Sun sniffs, "But babies are a lot of work and we both work full-time and you have two other kids now..." 

Paolo takes Sun's hand, "That would never happen," he says firmly, "We'll get through this together. I promise." 

Sun looks away. She can't help but feel dread, but then again...

She has no one else. She'll have to trust Paolo. 


Sunday, 24 September 2017

2.23 Surprise

Not much happened at prom. Tula and Guy went home early, citing fatigue. In truth, Tula wanted to go home because it quickly became apparent that dancing was not something she was good at. All the missteps, the tripping, stepping on people's feet... she has several large bruises on her shins from falling so often. Damned clumsiness. 

Right now she's working on something far more interesting. She's read that certain chemical compounds can induce a temporary intangibility; or in simpler terms, make someone a "ghost" for a short period of time. So far she hasn't had much success; so far all she's been able to make is a short-lasting sleep syrup. 

Or explosive, flammable failures. 

Time to hop in the shower. 

The next morning, Guy wakes up early. He can't fall asleep, so he slips on his...flippers...and goes into the new study room upstairs and plays around on the internet for a while. 

Guy finds it very easy to lose track of time just surfing the internet. He originally was going to look something up for school, but that got boring very quickly. 

When Tula comes into the room, he assumes that she just wants to use the computer and exits out of the browser. He gets up to go, but Tula stands firmly in his way. 

"Is there something...wrong?" he asks hesitantly. The blank look on her face is making him uncomfortable. 

"It's just that I woke up and couldn't find you anywhere," she says sweetly, leaning closely to him. 

Guy feels himself blush, and takes a small step backwards, "Oh, yeah I just uh came up here to use the computer." Why is she acting so weird? He wonders. He's suddenly hyper conscious of the fact that he's not wearing a shirt. His blush deepens. 

Tula scrutinizes his reaction. In her quest to find out more about romance, she's been reading up and observing flirting in the halls of their school. She wanted to put some of the theory she read into practice. Not yet confident enough to try this on anyone at school, Guy seemed a suitable guinea pig; unrelated, her age, and close by. Interesting how such a subtle change in her behavior can garner such a strong reaction. She wonders if others would react in a similar fashion. It definitely warrants further investigation. 

But for now, she's satisfied with the results of her minor test run and pulls back. 

"Like, I looked everywhere for you. I thought you left for school without me," she pouts. 

Guy's face returns to its normal colour. I must have been imagining that, or just overreacting, he tells himself. He feels a huge wave of relief; the idea of him and Tula doing anything romantic together is just...ew, no. When they were younger, their classmates referred to them as siblings. He wouldn't call Tula his sister, exactly, but she feels like a cousin or some other close relative. 

He shakes his head a little. He would very much like to never think about this again. 

"Have I ever left the house without you?" he asks sarcastically. 

And it dawns on her that he hasn't, not even once. They have done certain activities separately, of course, but Guy has never left the house without her. He was bound to her once, before he became a flesh and blood sim. It seems that in a sense, he still is. 

This kind of dependency...bothers her. It's fine now that they're in school, but once they have to start working... Will Guy even get a job? she wonders. 

Tula's intense gaze causes Guy to squirm uncomfortably. "I'm just going to go downstairs and get ready..." he nervously walks around her, and all but dashes out of the room. 

Tula narrows her eyes. She'll have to make a plan. 

It's a day off for Paolo, which of course means fishing at the beach. Winter is slowly but surely encroaching on the small town. Paolo is a bit sad at the prospect of one of his new hobbies being taken away from him for a season. The serenity and solitude of the ocean calm him. He often wonders if his mother felt the same way. 

He never got to ask. 

Once night begins to fall, he makes his way over to his other regular haunt, the library. Today, however, he's being joined by Sun. They wanted to check out each other's favorite authors together. 

"I like the braid," Paolo compliments. 

Sun smiles, "Long hair gets in the way a lot during lab work. I wanted to try something a bit more elegant than the usual ponytail." 

Paolo smiles, "I think it suits you. It shows off more of your face." 

Sun blushes a little. She doesn't get flirted with very often, so most of Paolo's compliments make her feel giggly and blushy. "Let's get inside, I'm freezing." 

After checking out a few books, the couple takes a seat on the couch. 

"Hey, are you alright?" Paolo notices Sun's downcast expression. 

She sighs, "Not exactly. The house is getting too crowded, and we just had a housemate meeting this morning. One of us needs to go, and soon. Greta can't find somewhere big enough for her, her husband, and the baby, and the rest of us are stuck. I'm considering moving in with one of my siblings, but it sucks because they all have kids. I'd be imposing on them." 

Paolo reaches out, his eyes large and sparkling with concern and sympathy. It's so tender and affectionate of a gesture that Sun looks down, overwhelmed. 

"It's not that big of a deal, don't look so sad," she frets. 

"I'm not sad, I'm just worried about you. I don't want to hear that you died from hypothermia after a hard night on the streets," he says, only half-joking. 

Sun smiles, but his words hit close to her true fears. She's been stressing about this since Greta's baby was born. There don't seem to be any places in sight, not soon enough for her to be comfortable. 

But she doesn't want to scare him with such talk, so she kisses him instead. She could use the distraction herself. 

Paolo pulls back. Before Sun can kiss him again, he clears his throat. 

"If it's really that urgent," he begins hesitantly, "You could stay at my place for a while. I'm sure the kids wouldn't really mind. Just until you find a new place." 

Sun blinks, "Do you really mean that?" 

The expression on his face is enough of an answer. 

She laughs, mostly out of relief than amusement. "You sure? You might get sick of me real fast." She internally very strongly hopes that he doesn't take back the offer. She doesn't want to get kicked out with no place to go. 

"Of course I'm sure. I just...need to talk to the kids about it first, to let them know we'll be having a guest for a while. I'm sure it'll be fine." 

The next afternoon once Tula and Guy are home, Paolo surprises them by sitting down to eat. Guy quickly excuses himself, not really liking the serious look on Paolo's face. Besides, this is a rare opportunity to be alone in the house without worrying about Tula coming after him to make him feel uncomfortable. 

"So, to what do I owe this honor?" Tula asks, her words dripping with venom. From her observations at school, a lot of teenagers become snappy and hostile towards their parents. She figures she and Guy have far more than enough reason to be; even though they're getting along without him, Tula has to admit that this seems like bad parenting to her. 

Paolo winces. "Is it a crime to eat with my daughter in my own home?" 

"Crime? You want to talk about crime? How about never talking to your kids? How about never even looking at us? Half the time I think you don't even realize we exist!" she fumes. 

Paolo looks down guiltily. "I don't really have an excuse. But I can change. I'm going to be around more, I promise. And it won't just be me around the house anymore. My, uh...girlfriend's going to be moving in with us soon." 



True to his word, Sun does show up with her stuff only days later. 

"Nice...outfit," Paolo says in greeting, looking over her clothes skeptically. 

She smiles, "It's my moving outfit! Carrying around this stuff is tiring and makes me all...sweaty. Can't be wearing anything too frilly for that, right?" 

"I think this is the first time I've ever seen you wear a skirt..." 

"And it will probably be the last!" Skirts are rather impractical, even if they are pretty. Working in the lab for most of the day doesn't really let her wear pretty clothes. 

Paolo insists on carrying the heavier boxes, which gives Sun a chance to look around the place. It's very bright and colourful, so unlike where she used to live. All white and sterile. Like the lab. She definitely prefers Paolo's place. 

(AN: Ahhh her normal face! How I've missed it) 

After the bulk of her things are in Marko and Persis's old bedroom, Sun and Paolo unwind with a game of chess. 

"I asked if I could be assigned to maintain the robots at the lab," Sun informs Paolo on her work activities, "But they said no. Again. I hate working with plants! I don't think I can stand it there much longer." 

While Sun bitches about her job, Tula hovers nearby, ostensibly to do cardio exercises. She's very interested in their new housemate. They haven't lived with anyone else in quite some time. Tula's looking forward to getting to know the woman her dad's involved with; people are like fascinating puzzles, and they're all put together differently. What are the particularities of this puzzle? How do all the pieces fit together? It's up to Tula to find out. 

After Paolo wins their chess game, Sun and Paolo start unpacking her things. After that and a nice, long shower, the pair flops onto Sun's new bed. 

"This room really needs to be redecorated," Paolo sighs. His parents have been gone for a long time. Now that someone else is living here, it feels wrong to keep their things around. 

"Well, we did try," Sun points out, nodding to her various nickknacks from home. 

Paolo glances at them. A rabbit rug, a pull up bar, the terrarium, glass cat, and cow-plant statuette. 

"Why the pull up bar? You don't strike me as someone who likes sports," he says. It's by far the most confusing item she owns. 

Sun shrugs, "Every so often I like to pretend that I care about my body, ok?" 

"Though, there is a much more fun way to exercise," she purrs suggestively.

Paolo grins, "Really? Well, let's give it a try."

Sun smiles back. She is definitely going to like living here.