“Right, I’m off to work. Bye Lor, bye little one.”
Malik rested his hands on Lor’s stomach and his heart melted as he felt a soft kick.
“Wow. I’ll never get used to that.”
Lor grinned. He couldn’t remember having ever been so happy before. He was going to be a dad soon.
“Have you got any plans for the day?”
“Not really. I’m going to work on the garden a bit, at least.”
“Well, be careful.”
“I will, don’t worry.”
The lab had forced him to take paternity leave, much to his chagrin. The first few days had been a nightmare of trying to keep occupied, but now he was grateful for the time. It was better to be slightly bored than to hurt his child.
He loved the baby already, and he hadn’t even met them yet. He remembered his mama telling him that she could read little bits of emotion from him before he was born, and he wished that he had inherited that ability. It would have been nice to know that he was loved back, and that the baby was happy.
Still, he was doing his best. He was eating healthily as much as his cravings would allow, and the meditation and light exercise were stopping him from getting too restless.
He wanted it to last.
“So it’s basically checking and editing simple code for most of the day.”
“Hence the name.”
“Exactly. I’m just surprised they’re allowed to call people ‘Code Monkeys’. I mean, rude much. And don’t you dare say it suits me.”
Lor shut his mouth with a smirk. “Wasn’t going to.”
“Yeah you were.”
“Yeah, I was.”
Malik rolled his eyes and turned back to his food. He loved coming back to this every day.
Malik looked up, confused. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Lor?” the voice came again, slightly louder this time.
Why did this situation seem so familiar?
“Ooof! Good thing I’m a ghost or that would have knocked me over.” she looked over his shoulder and gave a little wave. “‘Sup, Mal?”
Lor hugged Lissa next, and she looked down at his stomach with a satisfied smile. “Glad to see it finally worked.”
“I missed you so much.”
“We missed you too. It’s really annoying being able to hear you but not talk back.” Lissa said.
“You… you could hear me?”
A range of emotions crossed Lor’s face as he realised what that meant. Every secret he’d confided in them had actually been recieved. They knew it all.
Lissa looked between the two men and sighed to herself. Something needed to be done. She raised an eyebrow at Morgan, who nodded. They’d discussed this before arriving.
“Malik, can you show me the nursery? I want to see what you’ve done with the place.”
“Sure, I’d love to.”
Lissa and Lor watched them walk off together, and then she turned back to him.
“Right, now be honest. What’s going on between you two?”
“So, what do you think?”
Morgan looked around at what had once been her room, and smiled. It looked wonderful.
“We want the baby to grow up close to you both, and this seemed like the best way. That way, even though you would’t be around physically, you would always be here.”
She’d promised herself that she wouldn’t cry, but it was happening anyway. Since when had she become so sappy?
“It looks beautiful.”
“So why haven’t you done anything about it?!”
Lor struggled to find the words he needed.
“You love him, and from what we can tell he loves you too – so why is this an issue?”
Lissa saw tears forming in his eyes, and her face softened. “Lor, sweetheart. Don’t cry. I’m sorry. We just want you to be happy. I don’t understand why you’re making this so hard on yourself.”
“He deserves more than I can give him” Lor whispered, so quietly she had to lean in to hear.
“Lorcán Centauri, what are you on about? You love him. Why wouldn’t that be-”
“Because what if I don’t love him enough?!” The words burst out of him, and he clapped his hand over his mouth as the tears started to fall in earnest. “What if I can’t love him enough?”
Lissa just stared at him in shock. Now that he’d started talking, he couldn’t stop.
“When you and mum were together, you were almost always glowing. I’ve never had that happen – what if I’m just not able to feel that much? If I don’t love him enough for that, then maybe he’s better off with someone else.”
Had she had legs, they would have collapsed underneath her. How long had he been feeling this way?
“So… when your grandma died…”
“I wasn’t sad enough.”
“I’m never enough. No matter how much I think I feel, it’s not enough. What if I can’t even love my own children as much as they need?”
This was worse than she could have possibly imagined.
“So, is my son treating you right?”
Malik jumped, coming out of the daydreams that always seemed to sneak up on him in this room.
“Of course he is. He’s been wonderful. I never expected him to ask me to move in, even temporarily.”
“Is it temporary?”
He looked down at his hands, smile falling slightly. “Yeah, it is.”
“Look, I was trying to be subtle last time we talked, but screw it. I’m dead now, I can be as blunt as I want. You love him.”
“So why haven’t you done anything about it?”
“I don’t want him to feel pressured. I mean, he has a baby on the way and his hormones are all over the place – I don’t want to cause more confusion for him.”
Morgan looked at him, raising an eyebrow. she knew there was more to it.
“Fine. I’m scared.”
“What if he doesn’t feel the same way? What if it gets so awkward that he ends up wanting me out of his life, not just the house?”
The room fell silent once again, but it was a silence filled with understanding this time.
“Hey. Do you think I could just live here as a lamp without being noticed?”
Malik laughed. “If you can stop floating, sure. I won’t tell.”
“Did you ever think that Morgan loved me less than I loved her?”
Lor looked up in shock. “No! Of course not.”
“She wasn’t glowing.”
“But she’s a sim, she can’t glow.”
“And you’re half sim. You can’t read minds either, can you?”
“No, but I-”
“Maybe this is another thing that you can’t do. It doesn’t mean that you feel any less, it just means that you show it differently.”
“But what if-”
“Lor, I’m going to do something. Think about Malik, right now.”
She gathered her strength and went into his mind, experiencing his feelings washing over her in a rush. Returning to her own thoughts, she looked over at her son.
“You can feel as strongly as I can, Lor. Don’t think it needs to show in a certain way to be valid.”
“You’re telling the truth?”
“Yes, love, I am.”
As the morning arrived, the ghosts left. The house seemed quiet again, but not in the same empty way it had before. They weren’t really gone.
Lor turned to go inside, but the movement made him dizzy and his vision faded to black as he started to fall.
“Woah. I’ve got you.”
He felt the strong hands holding him upright as his head started to clear, and he opened his eyes with a grateful smile before starting to fall again.
“Right, lets get you to bed before you hurt yourself. Can you walk?”
Lor rested his head on Malik’s shoulder and smiled sleepily into his neck.
“I’m happy you’re here.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
They stood like that for a while before Malik blushed and moved away a little. “Well, anywhere but the house” he amended. “You can’t sleep out here.”
Malik laughed at the sulkiness in the other man’s voice, and wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Fine, you can. But you’re not going to.”
Lor really didn’t have the energy to argue, so they made their way inside. He looked back at the graves as he went through the door. Things were going to be better now.