Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Chapter 80: Fusion
I trust you, Carlos.
Lela Whitfield's words haunt him as he tries to sleep. Is she really that naive, or was she just trying to manipulate him? Or maybe it's neither. Maybe he's just paranoid. Maybe it isn't necessarily naive to trust someone. It's important to consider all possibilities... all the variables...
They meet in different locations every several days, to chat and to make a meteorite for cash exchange. Of all these places, Carlos feels safest in the library, where soundproof study rooms are readily available.
He assures her it hasn't been a problem to acquire the meteorites since he managed to get himself on the team that scouts for and collects them in the first place.
"You don't have to pay me for them anymore," he tells her. "I feel too bad about it."
"But I am already in your debt," she points out.
"I'm not taking the money."
"I'll find some way else to make it up to you."
They chat for hours about what Carlos has learned about Lela's probable ancestors. There are more than one known species of extraterrestrial in their universe, and data on them is highly restricted, but from what Carlos can gather, Lela's people are one of several known offshoots of a species that has the ability to fuse itself with drastically different organisms.
In the distant past they sent pollination crews to fuse with Earth lifeforms, in hopes of communication... and for some reason, the pollination crews chose to fuse with shrubbery, resulting in sentient plant creatures. The sim hybrids are a far more recent development.
"It's such a shame I can't tell this stuff to Francis," Lela speaks of her conspiracy theorist hacker accomplice, a teen genius who only recently turned adult, dropped his stupid fake internet handle name 'Girbits', and got a job at the police station. "He would be so interested."
"They might not kill me for leaking information, but I'd lose my job and probably end up in some prison," Carlos reminds her.
"You don't look or sound convinced that murder is off the table," she observes.
" Hey, let's change the subject! I think it's likely your parents really are your parents," Carlos tries to reason with Lela, now that he knows so many sad details about her personal life. She picked up the Unstable trait as an adult, and the person they thought was their daughter completely changed on them. "You just have recessive genes that didn't express in the previous generation. Have you met your grandparents?"
"My mother's parents were not unusual. My father's parents committed suicide when he was young, but I don't think they were anything but low-lifes."
"Huh." Carlos has a bad feeling about this.
Here are Lela's parents by the way.
Jamar Whitfield is a music talent scout, and it was his dream to send his little girl to stardom.
That had been Lela's dream, too, until she finally realized she had no talent for singing or playing any instruments.
Now her once loving parents disapprove of her job, worry about her sanity and argue with her about politics.
"Carlos." Lela says his name and leans in closer, staring at his eyes. "I think I'm accidentally falling in love with you."
Well, you've stalked me long enough, are the words that come to mind, but he can't seem to force those words out of his mouth, so he stands there in nervous silence.
"Please say something," she murmurs. "Let me know if I should try to stop."
"Lela..." Carlos struggles to find something, anything, to say. "I'm a very private person. You don't know much about me."
"I know you look forward to talking with me every time we meet." She frowns. "I also know you are hiding something. I try not to let it frighten me, because I don't think it has anything to do with me."
"It doesn't." He lets the silence hang for a while, then sighs. "Do you want to get some coffee?"
Out in the open, with so many other sims bustling around nearby, they are forced to talk about mundane things. No aliens, no hacking, no conspiracies...
"Ceth La Mer has a gig here tonight," Lela brings up.
Carlos frowns at his coffee. Is Lela keeping tabs on everyone in his house? "Yeah, she's good enough for better establishments, but she keeps coming here for reasons."
"This is very good herbal tea."
The two go upstairs to watch Ceth perform.
Phil has a gig tonight at Mick's, but Egg Man is here! Like some kind of back-up Phil.
Lela's father is here, too. Lela isn't too happy about the look he's giving Ceth. That's the look he gets when he wants to cheat on his wife.
Jamar seems to sense her discomfort. He soon leaves, without even a word to his daughter.
It's not like Ceth would have ever been interested in him anyway.
The only girls who sleep with Jamar are the ones looking to do anything, anything to be discovered.
Egg Man is way too excited to hear his favorite singer sing in person.
After the show, Ceth stays for the bubble bar, and Lela and Carlos stay for foosball.
Why is that woman so chatty with Carlos, Ceth wonders.
She feels like she's see that woman before...
"Aliens?" Ceth wouldn't leave Carlos alone when they got home, not even after the bubble effects wore off. So she got the whole story. She's usually not one to worry, but Carlos can tell by the gently possessive way she's kissing him that she is concerned about what he's been up to. "Really though. Aliens. Ay-lee-ins."
"For the fifth time, it's not a joke," he says.
Ceth's left hand, the one not resting on his neck, finds its way inside his jacket. "Just please don't get caught. You're not too smart to get caught, okay? Everybody around you in that spooky tower is a genius."
They relax after making love, as if their worries never existed.
Everything feels good right now.
Incidents like these have been frequent, but these two are not in a serious relationship. They may love one another dearly, but anything closer than this wouldn't work out. So why torture themselves trying to turn it into something it isn't?
Still, Carlos can admit to himself that he thought of Ceth when Lela more or less professed her love. He knows he shouldn't have. Ceth is actively trying to date other men, after all.
Maybe he'd be doing the same thing, if he wasn't a werewolf.
"Milo, we need to talk." Kirstin has not been herself this afternoon. Normally cocky and thrill-seeking, she has been quiet and withdrawn.
Milo smiles uncertainly. "Uh oh, what'd I do?"
Kirstin stares at that smile for a moment. "Well, it's something we both did. My doctor said I'm pregnant."
"Oh, no..." Milo only realizes what he said after the words have left his mouth. "Uh, it'll be okay though! We can pool our money to buy a decent place, and... we'll be a family. I promise I'll be a good dad. Even if it happened sooner than I planned."
"Did you plan at all?" she has a way of asking questions that cut to the heart of the matter.
"I... no," he mumbles. "I wanted a family but I thought it would be..." A bad idea? How he can tell her that?
"I don't want us to have a house together," Kirstin says, bringing her boyfriend out of his panicked thoughts. "The housing market is abysmal right now. And I just... I don't want to live with a baby underfoot and in my way. I do a lot of business from home."
Milo tilts his head, confused. "It won't be a baby for very long, Kirstin..."
"Great. But for a while, it will totally be a baby that I do not have time to look after." Her stare is piercing, trying to force him, perhaps, to feel the gravity of their situation. "Do you want to take it, when it's born?"
"And you just said YES?! Plumbob, you are a pushover," Ceth groans.
Carlos shoots Ceth a disapproving look.
"What else could I do? Tell her to make adoption arrangements? My kid could have a tail or something!" Milo voices the concern Carlos left unsaid.
"How could you be so irresponsible?" Carlos snaps.
"Look, I'm sorry! I can't change it now..." Milo whines.
Ceth rolls her eyes. "Where are we going to put a nursery..."
Etc.: How about the garage?