“I’m going to bed. G’night papa, g’night dad.”
Ellie walked up the stairs and into the house, yawning loudly as the door shut behind her. She’d been thrilled when she’d heard the news, asking question after question about weddings on their way home. It was only once they’d promised she could be a bridesmaid that she’d settled down and the tiredness had kicked in.
“Well then, fiance of mine, want to practice being carried over the threshold?”
Malik laughed as he was pulled upright again. “I don’t think that’s quite right. We didn’t actually go anywhere, you see.”
“Oh dear, I guess I’ll have to keep practising” he said, settling into Malik’s embrace. Movement flickered on the edges of his vision, and he turned to look, groaning as he realised what was happening.
“Not to ruin the mood, but we have visitors.”
“Don’t let us stop you!” Ash called back as he walked into the house.
Lor buried his head into Malik’s shoulder and sighed. “At least we don’t have work tomorrow.” His eyes widened and he grinned, drawing back.
Malik sighed and smiled back. He knew that look. “What is it, love?”
“Can I invite my work colleagues over? Inter-species communication and all that?”
“You promised Cassandra, didn’t you?”
“Sure, why not. The more the merrier.”
This is actually going really well, Lor thought as he went to get more drinks. No one had ended up frozen in a block of ice, or mind controlled. Yet.
There was still time.
Lor walked outside at the sound of a raised voice. Of course it would be him, he thought as he walked over to the two figures.
“Why would I care what you think, sim?”
“I don’t know, I just-”
“You’re right. You don’t know anything.”
“August…” Lor growled, looking at the man. “You’re in my house, please be polite to my guests.”
“Why are you sticking up for them? They’re only-”
“Right, come with me.”
The man stood up and sighed. At least it would get him away from these… people.
“Look, I’m trying to understand your attitude but these people have done nothing to you. Why must you be so rude all the time?”
“They haven’t done anything yet, but they will. They always do. You should watch out, you know. As soon as they find something more interesting, they’ll drop you like a month old pastry.”
“You don’t know them, August. They aren’t like that.”
“You’re kidding yourself. It’s sim nature.”
“They’re my friends.”
August went silent, staring at the water’s surface. Lor waited for a while, wondering if he’d get anything else out of the other man.
“Do you know why so many of us have sim names?”
Lor looked up, suddenly alert. Where had this come from?
“No, I don’t.”
“We’re the ones who weren’t wanted. Our parents named us and then shipped us off.”
Lor sat down next to him.
“We were their children and they just sent us away. The ones with Sixan names? They were born of love. We were just stuck wherever there was space.”
His voice shook, but he carried on.
“Most of us were sent back as babies, so it’s all we know. But sometimes that’s not the case. I remember my parents. I loved them.”
“I’m sorry.” Lor said. There wasn’t really anything else he could say.
“You were lucky with your family. Just don’t assume that every sim is as accepting as your mother turned out to be.”
August stood up and walked away, leaving Lor by the pool.
He made his way to the front of the house, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand. He was surprised to find someone already there. A sim. He braced himself for the inevitable questioning, but it never came. She hadn’t even noticed that he was there.
He found himself watching as each brushstroke added to the image forming on the canvas. It was relaxing.
Maybe even beautiful.
“Mal? Are you ok?”
“I’m fine, Lor. Just filling your parents in on this whole… thing… we have here. I think Lissa would have liked it.”
“She would have. Thank you.”
“I also told them about our engagement.”
Lor’s face heated up as he imagined their reactions, and Malik laughed and took his hands in his own.
“You’re really cute when you’re embarrassed.”
“Yeah” he said, and then leant forward and whispered in Lor’s ear.
Lor looked at him, stunned. His entire body grew warm at the words and he grinned before dragging Malik inside the house. He wasn’t getting away any time soon. Not after that.
“What’re you laughing about?” Nylah asked as the other woman joined them in front of the television.
“Oh, nothing much. What are you watching?”
“It looks like the Sixan version of MasterCook as far as we can tell. Some of the ingredients are kinda scary. Where were you, anyway? You’ve been missing for ages.”
“I was painting. I thought it might make a nice thank you gift to our hosts.”
“I’m sure they’ll love it. I’ve got that painting you did for me in my living room and everyone thinks it’s wonderful.”
“Speaking of our hosts” Cassandra said, looking around, “where did they vanish to?”
Helen stifled her giggles behind her hand, not sure if she should say.
“Well, they did just get engaged. Where do you think they are?” she laughed, watching their faces as realisation hit them.
“August, what are you doing?”
He closed the browser with an innocent look. “Me? Nothing.”
Thalia raised an eye-ridge before moving on. She’d find out eventually.
“I got some blueprints from Cassandra for a cloning device” she said, looking down at him. “Want to try them out when we get back?”
August wrinkled his nose at the thought of getting something from a sim, but he had to admit that a cloning device would be fun to have around.
“If I must.”
“Lissa? Morgan? This is Allison. You might not remember me, but I was the one in charge of the team that kept abducting your son. It started as an experiment – we wanted to see whether his mixed DNA might make it easier for him to conceive – but it became more than that. I’m just sorry that it took us so long that you didn’t get to see the results.”
She should probably head back to the ship. They’d be waiting for her. She dried her eyes and turned away. She couldn’t show weakness in front of her crew. The house was silent as she walked away.