“It’s me again!”
Lor tried to refrain from rolling his eyes and saying ‘Hi Me, I’m Lor’. His mum’s sense of humour was contagious.
“Hey, Gideon. I wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon.”
“I know, I know. But there’s a reason, I promise.”
A reason? Now he was curious. What could have been so important that the man would travel to another planet on a whim?
“Lorcán – meet Allison.”
The lady looked him up and down and gave a low, appreciative whistle before turning to Gideon.
“I see what you mean, black suits him perfectly.” she said. “Right, young man, I have a gift for you. I just hope it’s the right size.”
“Ummm… Allison? Don’t you think this is a little small?”
“If you show us how it looks then maybe I can answer that, now stop hiding and get over here”
Lor took a deep breath, hoping that the heat in his cheeks wouldn’t give away his embarrassment, and stepped forward into view.
“No, I think it fits perfectly.”
“Really?” he asked, looking down at his body. “It feels a bit clingy.”
“It’s meant to be clingy, silly. How else would it monitor and adjust all your bio-levels? Skin contact is neccessary.”
“Well, it’s definitely making contact.”
Gideon snorted with laughter, and she turned and hushed him.
“That’s yours to keep, Lorcán. I expect you to wear it when you visit us.”
Lor ran his hand over the smooth materials covering his arm, flinching slightly as he felt the tingle of power coursing through the glowing strands of liquid. It was a surprisingly comfortable outfit, almost like a second skin.
“I will. Thank you.”
“I don’t see why you’re even bothering with him.”
The voice came from the front of the house. The man was a stranger, but the distrust and hostility in his manner were plain to see.
“Um… hello. It’s nice to meet you. I’m-”
“I know who you are, freak. You’re the mixed-blood everyone was going on about. I had to come and see you for myself, and it looks like the stories were true.”
Hurt rippled through him as the words kept coming, each one stabbing into his heart.
“Look at you. You aren’t one of us, you aren’t one of them – I don’t understand how you even exist. Something to do with a lab experiment, I heard.”
Lor thought back to Clay’s words all those years ago. Maybe the man was right. He thought he’d moved past the doubts, but the old pain had returned. The Sixan’s words became muffled as his thoughts began to spiral, but then something cut through the haze.
“… and that mother of yours. What was she thinking? Marrying a Sim of all things.”
Anger coursed through him, bringing everything back into clarity.
“How DARE you?”
The shock on the other man’s face brought him pleasure, and he surrendered to the heat of the moment.
“I don’t give a FLYING PLUMBOB what you think of me, you PLUMMING-” he paused, unable to find a word strong enough to fit his feelings before just going on regardless, “but you do NOT bring them into it. They are the most wonderful people I know. You have a problem with me? Fine. But DON’T shift it to them, understand?!”
“Ok, you two, we should probably keep the noise down unless you want to wake the whole neighbourhood.”
The man huffed derisively. “If you can call this a neighbourhood.”
“That’s enough, August” Ash said, and grabbed his arm, dragging him away. Lor could hear them arguing as the walked away. He just stood there, watching. The adrenaline was leaving his body, leaving only an exhausted numbness. He didn’t even say goodbye to the others, he just went inside, crawled into bed and closed his eyes.
“Do you think he’s ready?”
“I do. I mean, we might as well start now, right? He’s got plenty of years left in him, and he’s in good physical condition.”
“I’ll tell the others to start preparing.”
“I can’t believe how much the baby has grown!”
“Well, that is generally what happens, Lor. It’s been seven months – if the baby hadn’t grown I’d have been more worried.”
Lor looked down at his co-worker’s belly and smiled. He was so happy for her.
“Look, do you want to feel the baby? I can tell you’re dying to ask.”
Margarita nodded and Lor gently placed his hands on her stomach, eyes shining as he felt a gentle kick.
“Do you know whether it’s a boy or a girl, yet?”
“Not yet, no. We asked the doctor to keep it a surprise. It does mean that we have to think of more names, though. Clay has been working his way through all the books in the library, hunting for ideas.”
Lor’s smile wavered a little at the mention of her husband, but the baby moved under his hands again and it returned.
“So, how about you?”
“Are you thinking of having kids? I’m sure you’ll settle down with a nice man soon enough, but were you thinking of adopting later on?”
“I’m not allowed to adopt.”
Her face fell, and he forced some cheerfulness back into his voice. “Something about agencies not trusting aliens with sim children. But you never know, they might change their minds.”
“I really hope so, Lor.”
He hugged her, hoping that she would understand how grateful he was for those words. They meant a lot, especially now.
Lor wiped the sweat off his brow and stepped back to admire his handiwork. The rocket was coming along slowly but steadily. He’d been so happy when he’d been put in charge of the project, and the physical nature of the work reminded him of his time as a labourer. He’d loved that job.
“So, are you stopping for now?”
“I have to, otherwise I think my arms might fall off. I’m going to work in the greenhouse for a bit.”
“You know, with the miracles you’ve done in there I might have to ask you to have a go at doing up the kitchen. All that microwaved food probably isn’t doing this little one much good.”
Elisa stood up and stretched, her bump becoming even more noticeable. “All this sitting probably isn’t helping, either.” She looked down and addressed the baby. “You’re going to end up lazy, my girl.”
“Yes! We found out at the weekend. We aren’t sure what to call her yet, but we’ve got a while left. Want to say hi?”
So many babies, Lor thought to himself as he watered the plants. They were the closest thing he had to children right now. It wasn’t that he was bitter, but it would have been nice to know that there was an option in his future of having them. Alas, he’d ruled out the most likely way by being gay, and the other by being partially Sixan. He’d have to be content with living vicariously through his friends.
“Come on, you have to grow up nice and strong for me, ok?”
“So, I’m thinking of bringing in some new appliances for the kitchen here, if that’s ok? All this fast food isn’t healthy.”
“Be my guest. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if you haven’t redone half the lab by the time you retire, Lor.”
“I’m not that bad, am I?”
Cassandra raised an eyebrow and Lor laughed. Ok, so maybe he was.
“I’m really glad you stuck this job out, you know. It’s not easy starting out, but look at you now! You haven’t set anything on fire for at least a week, and that cloning machine has worked wonders with our food supply. I wouldn’t be surprised if you got another promotion, soon – even if it’s just because you’ve saved us a fortune on supplies.”
“I wondered where we kept getting new stock from,” he grinned. “Too bad it only does really small things, though, huh?”
“For now…” she said, wiggling her fingers mysteriously.
“Still, it’s being tested. I wouldn’t recommend eating too much of the cloned food, especially to our pregnant friends over there.”
“At least I don’t have to worry about you needing pregnancy leave, huh?” she said, winking before wandering off back to her reports.
That’s true, he thought as he got back to his work. After all, he couldn’t get pregnant, and he certainly wouldn’t be getting anyone else into that state. He put his smile back on and started to mix the chemicals in front of him.