Chapter 10: How to Make an Entrance

It was late in the Galactus household.  Han was still at work.  Ulrike was painting away downstairs and Ripley was asleep.  The newlyweds were relaxing in the hot tub on the deck.

“This is a lovely night,” Jaimie murmured as she leaned against Marcus.

“Sure is, though not as lovely as you.”

She giggled.  “I may be old, but I’m not blind.  I know what I look like.”

“That’s my wife yer talkin’ about,” he scolded her, kissing her gently, his grip around her waist tightening.

She smiled at him.  “Thanks.”

He leaned close and murmured in her ear, “You are a fine, fine woman, Jaimie Flex.  Don’t you forget that.”

Jaimie giggled again.  The two were too involved with one another to realize that a certain little girl had woken up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of orange juice.  She was half asleep as she wondered into the sunroom.  She liked to sit in there.  And doing it at night, when everyone was asleep added another element to it; it was a little scary, but really cool at the same time.  But as she sat, she heard the murmur of voices behind her.

She turned and saw that Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie were in the hot tub.  She turned around in her seat, her head tilted as she watched them.

They were kissing!

Ripley was puzzled.  Her parents kissed all the time.  She always came upon them with the same kind of looks in their eyes.  She heard a bit of splashing and her attention refocused on the hot tub as she saw the two of them disappear under the water!

Feeling intrusive, Ripley scuttled out of the sunroom, put her glass in the sink and then went back down to her room.  Her mother must have gone up to bed because she wasn’t in the family room painting anymore.  Ripley made a note to herself to ask her mother what Jaimie and Marcus were doing in the morning.


Han got home just as dawn was breaking up over the horizon.  He hit the treadmill first, then decided it was time for breakfast.  Marcus and Jaimie were already at the table, looking like two cats that had just eaten the canary.  He arched a brow and sat down.  “You guys are in your swimsuits,” he observed.

Jaimie giggled and looked at Marcus, winking.  “We were just- uh, enjoying a soak in the hot tub, right Marcus?”

Marcus nodded, his eyes twinkling.  “Mhm.”  He cleared his throat.  “Look, Han, ol’ buddy… were you serious when you said that I could uh- quit my job whenever I wanted?”

Han looked puzzled, then he nodded.  “Of course.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do.  Right Watcher?”

Of course.  You are all free Sims.

 Marcus looked at Jaimie.  “I’m glad to hear it.  Because I’m done.  I’ve got seven young uns now.  Some young buck can take over.”  His hand came up and he put it over Jaimie’s.  “Han, Jaimie and I got married last night.  We want to spend what’s left of our lives together.”

Han blinked for a moment as he processed the information.  “You- married?”  Then a huge grin split his face.  “Congratulations!  Sincerely!”  He winked at Jaimie.  “Gonna keep him in line?”

Jaimie laughed.  “You can call it that, yeah.”

Marcus laughed, a big booming sound.  Han stood.  “C’mere, big guy!”  The older man stood up and the two shared a back slapping hug.

“Congratulations, really.  I’m really happy for you guys.”

“Thanks man, truly.  She- makes me happy.  In a way I’d never thought of bein’.”

Han stepped back and then pointed at Jaimie.  “C’mon you!  Your turn!”

Jaimie gladly stepped toward him and was treated to a bear hug.

“You make sure he takes good care of you and you take good care of him, huh?  I want you guys to enjoy yourselves.”

Jaimie sighed.  “Thanks Han.  That means a lot.  Without you… Marcus and I would never have met.  So, thank you.”


While Han congratulated his two friends, Ulrike sat at the chess table in the family room with her daughter.  “Hey Mom?”

“Yeah sweetie?”

“I uh, I saw Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie in the hot tub last night.”

“Mhm,” Ulrike said, moving a piece.  It wasn’t that unusual.  After gardening especially, Jaimie liked using the hot tub to soak her sore muscles.

“Well, they were- doing stuff.”

“Stuff?” Ulrike turned her full attention on her daughter.

“Well, there was kissing and then they went under the water and there was a LOT of splashing.”

Ulrike almost choked on her laughter.  “Oh-oh my, is that so?”

“Mhm, I wanted to get a drink and I was sittin’ in the sun room and I saw them out the window.”

“I-I see.  Well, don’t you worry about anything, baby.  They were- just having a good time, is all.”

“Oh, ok!  Can I have a good time, too Mom?”


Ulrike looked down at the bowl she was mixing things in, deep in thought.  Her daughter was off to school; luckily, the bus had come right around the time that Ripley was asking her why she couldn’t have fun like Marcus and Jaimie.  Ulrike was pulled in two directions.  She saw nothing wrong with those kinds of activities.  After all, didn’t she and her husband enjoy it?  Enjoy their relationship? But this was her little girl!  She was a child yet she would be a teen soon enough and that meant rampaging hormones.

“Afternoon beautiful.”  Han walked in, kissed his wife on the cheek and then sat down at the island.

“Hey, babe.”  She looked over her shoulder at him, batting her lashes.

“So, did you hear about Marcus and Jaimie?  They got married!”

Ulrike snorted out a laugh.  “I heard- something, as it were.”  Knowing that her husband might not take it so well about his daughter asking about ‘fun’, Ulrike decided to wait to tell him.  “I’m happy for them.  They both deserve it.  There’s always been- something there.  It’s nice they have one another.”

Han nodded.  “Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

“Hey Han?  Ripley texted me on her lunch break.  She’s bringing a friend over after school.  One of Marcus’s brood, actually.”

“Oh yeah?  That’s nice!”


“Thanks for having me over, Ripley!”

“You’re welcome, Landon!”  Ripley giggled.  She and Landon- Marcus’s only son- were seated in the sun room, talking and laughing about their school day.

Han was on the treadmill, using the excuse to work out, though in reality, he just wanted to watch them.  He’d been a bit shocked to see that his daughter’s little friend had been a boy.  The two kids stood up and though Han grinned, the thoughts in his head were not quite so pleasant.

“I should get back home.  Again, thanks Ripley!  And thanks for the help with the homework!”  The two children hugged and Landon left.

Ripley smiled up at her father.  “Landon’s great, Papa!  It’s ok for him to come over this weekend?”

“Um, sure, baby.  Of course.”

Ripley beamed up at him.  Han had to hold in the sigh.


You look a little- tense.  Everything ok?

 Han was running on the treadmill, looking very intense.

“I’m fine.  Just- thinking.  Thinking about Ripley.  My little girl’s gonna be a teenager soon.”

Yes, she will.  Tis the way of life, Han.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.  Go on, I’m fine.  Just wanted to get in a workout.”

Hmm…  Hey Ulrike, think your husband could use some time with his wife.

 “You got it, Watcher.  Thanks.”

As Han emerged a little while later, Ulrike was there to greet him with a tight hug and a knowing look on her face.  Han let out a sigh and let himself sink a little.

“I love you, Ulrike.”

“I love you too, Han.  C’mon.  Let’s just go relax a while, huh?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.”


 

Chapter 9: I’m Just Crewman #6

“Hey Mom?” Ripley was studying the chess board in front of her intently.

“Yes baby?”

“I know that Aunt Jaimie does the gardening and you paint and cook.  Dad’s working on all his requirements, right?  So- what does Uncle Marcus do?”

Ulrike cringed a little.  It wasn’t that she had a problem with explaining things to her daughter, but she knew her husband wouldn’t be happy about it.  “Well, baby.  Marcus has a very important job, you see.  But it’s one I’ll explain to you a little later, ok?”

Ripley’s brow furrowed, but then she nodded slowly.  “Ok, Mom.  I was just hoping you could tell me why he has several kids running around.”

Ulrike’s eyes widened.  “O-oh… well-“  She hurriedly looked for something to keep her daughter’s mind off that.  “I believe that’s check, Rip!”

Ripley looked at the board intently again, her brow furrowing.  Then her head popped up.  “Mom?  What’s that over there?”

“What?  What do you mean, baby?”  Ulrike looked in the direction her daughter pointed.  “I don’t see anything, sweetie.”

Ripley had to hold in the giggle as she quickly switched a couple pieces.  “Oh no?  Sorry, Mom.  Must be losing it.”

Ulrike turned back and looked at the board then at Ripley.  She arched a brow.  “I wasn’t born yesterday, long lady,” she said with a laugh.

Ripley giggled.  “No, guess not, Mom.”  The little girl smiled sweetly.

“Oh, go get ready for school!” Ulrike told her with a laugh.

Still giggling, Ripley went upstairs to grab some breakfast.

You’re a tricky one, aren’t you?

 “Who me, Watcher?  Never.”

Hmph, you don’t fool me, child.  –chuckles—It serves your father right, though.  It’s about time he got a taste of his own medicine.

Ripley giggled again.

Better get to school, darling.

 “Oh, you’re right!  Bye, Watcher!’

Bye, dear.  Have fun!


Marcus sat in the room he shared with Jaimie, deep in thought.

“Hey, Marcus.  Simolean for yer thoughts?” Jaimie asked as she came in.

He smiled at her.  “Hey there, girl.  Not sure they’re worth that much.”  He managed a little chuckle as Jaimie sat on the edge of his bed with him.

“C’mon now, that isn’t like you, hun.  What’s wrong?”

Marcus shrugged.  “I-I’m just- I guess I’m tired of ‘the life’, now.  I’m old and while I still got it-“ He gave her a grin, “I just- I don’t want to break anymore hearts.  The girls are pretty good natured and all- they get this is a Dynasty and all that, but still.  And my kids- I wish they could live here, with us.”

Jaimie took one of his hands in hers.  “I know, honey.  I know.  It’s ok, though.  You know Han said that anytime you wanted to stop, you could.  What brought this on?”

Marcus flushed a little.  “While-“ he swallowed.  “To be honest, there-there’s someone that I want to be with.  Th-that I want to spend my last days with.  I-I just don’t know if she’ll have me or not.”

“O-oh.  I see.”  Jaimie masked the frisson of hurt in her eyes with a smile.  “Who’s the lucky girl?”

“It’s you, sugar,” Marcus said softly.

Jaimie’s face went from hurt, to surprised, to shocked.  Then she began to grin widely.  “Me?”

“Yes you.  We’ve been friends from the beginning.  I could always tell you anythin’, Jaimie.  Anything at all.  I always wanted to help Han.  And I have.  But I realized that I want to spend my last days enjoying life and I can only do that with you.”

“O-oh, Marcus,” she breathed, a single tear tracking down her cheek.  She shut her eyes and leaned against him.  He slid his arm around her and she did the same.  They just sat there for a long moment, enjoying each other’s company.

Marcus leaned back to grin at her, then something cracked in his back and he winced.  “Man, this gettin’ old stuff’s fer the birds!”

“That it is.  Here, let me help ya with that.”  With a smile, Jaimie began to massage his back and shoulder.  Marcus groaned in appreciation.

He stood up after a moment and looked at Jaimie seriously.  “Jaimie, I know you gotta think me crazy, but-“  He had to clear his throat.  “I love you, Jaimie.  We aren’t young anymore, you an’ I, but I know what I feel for you.  I love you, Jaimie Wilburn.”  He got down on one knee and looked up into her eyes.  “Will you spend the rest of our days together, as my wife?”  He pulled the ring from his pocket.

Jaimie’s eyes had grown impossibly wide as she looked at the ring, then at him.  “O-oh!” she managed.  “Yes, Marcus, yes!”  She slid the ring on her finger, admiring it for a moment before she kissed him softly.

With a whoop, Marcus swooped her up into his arms, grinning foolishly at her.  “Marcus!  Put me down!  You’ll hurt yourself!” Jaimie scolded, trying not to laugh as she grabbed onto his neck for dear life.

“Now now, I ain’t so old that I can’t lift my girl into my arms.  Yer light as a father, baby.”

Jaimie laughed and kissed him, not so softly this time.

Marcus set her down gently.  “We’ll have a wedding no one will forget!  I promise you.”

Jaimie looked up at him.  Then she shook her head.  “No, Marcus.  A nice, quiet ceremony, just you and I.  We should do it now.  Why wait?”

“Y-you don’t want a big ceremony?”

“No!  Not at all!  Leave that for the young ‘uns!” she said, cackling a little.

“Oh, thank the Watcher!” Marcus breathed out a sigh, then laughed.  “I figured you’d want a big one and was gonna give ya one.  Well, then, if you don’t, then yer right.  Let’s do it now.  Just you, me, and the beautiful sky out there.  I’ll go change into something appropriate.”

“Me too.  I’ll meet you out at the arch.”


And so, Marcus and Jaimie changed into something more suitable, though to be honest, neither one cared about that.  Then they met outside at the wedding arch where Han and Ulrike had exchanged their vows.  With Han at work, Ripley at school, and Ulrike busy with painting and cooking up a storm, Marcus and Jaimie spoke their vows beneath a clear blue sky, just the two of them.

“Jaimie Wilburn, I promise that from this day forward and until the day that Grim comes for me, I will honor you, cherish you, and support you in all you do.”

“Marcus Flex, I promise that from today onward and even after Grim takes me, I will honor you, cherish you, support you in all you do.  And I promise that I will be the kind of step mother to your children that won’t be seen as a wicked witch!”

That brought a laugh out of Marcus as she kissed his cheek.

The two kissed after their vows, holding each other close.

Congratulations you two.

 Marcus smiled.  “Thanks, Watcher.  You aren’t mad?”

Not at all.  You’ve done wonderfully.  You deserve to be happy now.  Congratulations, Jaimie.

 “Thanks, Watcher.”

Once they spoke their vows, the two went their separate ways for a little while to change and to get back to work.  Jaimie came back outside, intending to work in the garden.  “Jaimie!”  Marcus smiled at her.  “Hello wife.”

“Hello, husband,” she greeted with a grin.

“We should probably tell Han, huh?” Marcus said with a grin.

“Yes, though let’s give it a little time.  He’ll be home soon.  We’ll tell him tomorrow, at breakfast.”

Marcus took her hand in his.  “My wife is a smart woman.”

Jaimie winked.  “Don’t you know it!”


 

Chapter 8: Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

“You ready for school, baby?  You look very pretty,” Han told Ripley as they sat down for breakfast.  They had a lot of leftovers from all the parties, plus all of the practice Ulrike had been doing.

“You bet, Dad!  I can’t wait!”

He grinned.  “That’s my girl.  Have a good day, Ripley.”  There was the sound of a honk.  “Oo, sounds like the bus.  Better get going!”

Ripley had already jumped up.  “Bye, Dad!”  She waved at him over her shoulder as she disappeared down the stairs.

Han sighed, looking down at the rest of his breakfast.

What’s wrong?

“She’s growing up so fast.”

That’s what children do, Han.  You did.

“Yeah, but-“  He sighed again.  “Maybe a workout will do me some good.”

Good idea.

 Ulrike was out in the sunroom already.  Han hopped on the treadmill, determined to work it off.

“You ok, Han?”

“Just feeling a little- melancholy.  Ripley’s off to school.”

Ulrike smiled softly.  “It’ll be ok, Han.  She’ll always be our little girl.”

“I know.  Just seems like just yesterday, she was small enough to fit in my arms.”

“I know, baby.  I know.”

The two lapsed into silence, the only sound was Han’s footfalls on the treadmill.


“How was school, lil thang?” Marcus asked Ripley as they sat at the dining table.

“It was great, Uncle Marcus!  Had a lot of fun!”

“Look at you, doin’ yer homework already!”

“Uh huh.  Need to make sure I get good grades.”

Marcus shook his head, grinning.  “You’re too good, kiddo.  Yer mama and papa are lucky.  I’ll see ya later, ok?”

“Sure, Uncle Marcus!”

Once her homework was finished, Ripley went to the couch to watch TV.  “H-hey Watcher?”

Yes, sweetie? 

 “I-I’m not feeling so good…”

Let’s get you some orange juice, then it’s bed time!

 “O-ok, Watcher.  But what about helping daddy with his parties?”

You don’t worry about it.  You need to feel better first.

 Ripley nodded and she trudged down to her bed.


Ok, Han, a slight change in plans.  Ripley’s gone to sleep.  Poor thing has come down with something.

“O-ok, Watcher.  She alright?”

Yes, just a little under the weather.  Just needs some rest.  Ok, so, first one is going to be a house party.  Places everyone!

“You made some lovely food, baby.  And you look just- magnificent,” Han told his wife.

“Han’s right, Ulrike!  Food’s great!” Marcus agreed.

Ulrike grinned, a spoonful of stew halfway to her mouth.  “Thanks guys.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.”

Hm, ok, great job so far guys!  That’s the house party and the dinner party, both gold!  You guys are doing wonderfully!

There was a few cheers, though most everyone was pretty tired.

You guys have all earned a bit of a break.  Plus, I have some things to do.  Come on then, to bed. 

Han pulled his wife close.  “Couldn’t have done this without you, Ulrike,” he murmured as he kissed her.

The Watcher went on a slight building spree, including constructing the all-important museum. **

** To see all the work on the house, go here: The Dynasty House, Version 2


“This is nice.  Nice night, just sitting in front of the fire,” Marcus murmured.

“Yeah, it is,” Han sighed softly, smiling.

“This is fun, huh, Daddy?” Ripley said with a giggle as she roasted a hot dog over the fire.

“Sure is, sweetie. Don’t know what the Watcher was talking about.  This Weenie Roast isn’t hard at all!”

“Uh… does someone smell burning plastic?” Ulrike asked after a moment.

“FIRE!”  Han leapt up, grabbing the extinguisher.  All he could think about was his little girl there.


“I-I don’t know if I can take another night like that!” Ulrike blurted out.  The fire had been taken care of, but everyone was tense and uncomfortable.  They knew it had been a close call.

“Oh sweetie, it’ll be alright.  The Watcher has already said no more of that, not until someone completes Freelance Botanist,” Jaimie soothed.  “So we won’t have to worry about a party like that for a while.”

“C’mon, baby.  Let’s go get some sleep, huh?” Han took her hand and led her into the bedroom.  Once inside, he stopped and he simply looked at her, as if memorizing every feature.  Then he brought a hand up to her cheek.  “I’m sorry, baby.  I-I know this isn’t easy on you.  Y-you didn’t realize what you were signing up for.”

“N-no, it isn’t that, Han.  Not really.  I knew what I was signing up for.  I-I was just hoping we wouldn’t run into all these problems, all at once.  A-and then the fire…”

“Shhh, I know, baby.”  Han spun her around and went to work on her back and shoulders, trying to help her relax.  As he did so, the door to their bedroom opened.

Ripley looked in.  “Mama?  Dad?”

“Hey baby, c’mon on in.  You ok?”

The little girl hopped up on her parent’s bed.  “Yeah, I’m alright.”

Han sat down beside her.  “What is it, baby?”

“I’m just wondering what this Dynasty thing is you guys keep talking about is.  Will you tell me?”

Han swallowed and looked at Ulrike.  She sat down on the other side of Ripley and shared a look with her husband.

“Well… it’s a little complicated.  But- I can try to explain it,” Han said slowly.  He looked at Ulrike.  She nodded and then Han told his daughter the truth about himself, where he had come from, and why he was there on Earth.   When he finished, Ripley wore a thoughtful look.

“Daddy?”

“Yeah, baby?”

“You believe in me right?  You think I can help you?”

Han had to swallow past the lump in his throat.  “Of course I do!”  He hugged her tight, looking at Ulrike over the top of his daughter’s head.  She smiled at him and the little family remained like that for a while.


 

Chapter 7: Never Tell Me the Odds!

Author’s Note:  Sorry for the slightly disjointed chapter.  Lot happening in game and screenshots was not a priority as I tried to deal with some bugs involving parties.  So again, apologies, but hope you enjoy!

Ulrike, a bit shaky after her brush with an incompetent doctor, slid off the table and went to pick up the small infant.  “Oh-oh look at you.  Y-you’re perfect.  Look at her, Watcher.  Isn’t she just-“

Perfect?  Yes, she’s a darling, Ulrike, truly.

Well, let’s get the both of you home.  I’ll uh, go retrieve, Han… I may have given him the wrong room number…  Otherwise poor little Ripley may have gotten to see a bit more of her daddy’s dark side than she really needs to.

The doctor shuffled nervously.  He was only too happy to see them all leave.


Back at home, the first one to the bassinet was Marcus, of all people.  “Hey little thang!  Aren’t you just the cutest!  Uncle Marcus could just eat you up!”

“Hey, there will be no eating of my daughter!” Han told his friend with a laugh, though there was a protective look in his eyes.  Sims didn’t eat children… did they?

Marcus grinned at him as he set Ripley back down.  “Don’t you worry none.  That lil angel will be well looked after!”

“I don’t doubt it.”  Han smiled at his friend.  Then it was his turn.  He looked down into the bassinet and his breathe caught.  He didn’t even have words.  So he simply reached down and gently picked her up, holding her to his chest.  He lost himself in looking into her eyes.  “Hello, darling.  I’m your Daddy,” he whispered to her.

“I love you very much.  You and your Mommy are my world.”  He had to swallow past the lump in his throat.  Had he really wanted to leave?  It was amazing that such a tiny creature could change- well, everything in such a short time.  Little Ripley made a soft noise and Han hoisted her up, holding her against his shoulder.  Ripley quieted, content in her father’s arms.  “I’ll always be here for you,” he promised her.


Having a baby in the house made things a little hectic for a while.  It seemed as soon as either Ulrike or Han lay down, Ripley needed something, whether it was a bottle or a diaper change, or just to be held.

“Here ya are, baby girl,” Han would murmur to his daughter.  He didn’t mind the sleepless nights, really.  Anything for his precious Ripley.

“Is someone hungry?  Yes she is.”  While Ulrike had decided she wanted to learn to cook in order to help Han meet the requirements of these Rules he had to follow, she loved spending time with her daughter too.  There was definitely something about that moment for mother and daughter.

Han didn’t even mind changing her diapers… well, at least not too much.  “Whoa, such a lot of stink for such a little thing!”  Ripley just smiled up at him from her bassinet.  “You just wait, you little stinker.  Wait till you have your own!”


But before anyone was ready, it was time for Ripley to age up! *

Author’s Note #2: *So… while Ripley was a wee babe, this was when the Watcher was trying to get a bunch of parties outta the way… but the timer bug hit and they were dismal failures, only reaching silver.  So yeah, I didn’t get as many shots as I wanted while Ripley was an infant.  All the adults in the house- when not doing things for parties—were always in the master bedroom, picking her up!

Ulrike did the honors.  “C’mon, baby girl.  Time to grow up!”  Her voice cracked a little, even as the bassinet shook.

There was a cry of “Woooo!  I’m free!  Whoa!  I need to chaaaange!” and then Ripley exploded out, a full-grown child.

Her first stop was definitely to change her clothes and to fix her hair.  She wasn’t a fan of poofy hair, not at all!  When she emerged, though, she grinned saucily.


And let’s not forget Marcus and Jaimie.  They both aged up to elder.  There was no party, since they were all pretty tired out, but they did have cake.

Ripley was given the other room downstairs and it was outfitted for a Princess.  But the only thing she cared about right away was the activity table that her parents had gotten for her.  She loved to draw.  She thought she wanted to do that when she was older, just like her mom, though she thought about writing too.  Maybe she’d do both!

“Mama, when I grow up, can I paint and write?”

Ulrike looked at Ripley.  “Of course, you can baby girl!  You can do anything you put your mind to.”

Ripley was certainly a precocious girl.  Han wasn’t quite sure he was ready for her growing up.  When she’d been a little bundle that could fit in his arms, it had been easy to keep track of her, to know what she needed and when.  Now, though, he was a bit adrift.  His little girl wasn’t so little now!  Then again, it was great to be able to sit at the counter with Ripley and talk about all sorts of things.

“Hey Dad, I get to go to school on Monday!”

“Mhm, you sure do.  Are you nervous?”

“No way!” she exclaimed.  “I can’t wait to sit down at my desk and crack open my books!  And the art room- oh, all those new paints and crayons!”

Han laughed.  “That’s my girl!”

Ripley hopped down off the stool.  “C’mon dad!  Hip bump!”

Han looked concerned at first.  “I don’t know, Ripley…”

His daughter laughed.  “Oh c’mon!  I’m a big girl!”

A short shaft of pain hit Han.  She was a big girl… and she was only going to grow older.  “You got it, baby girl,” he murmured.

“Ooof!  Easy on yer ol’ man!” Han complained, though he was grinning.  Ripley just laughed and ran off.  Han sighed a little, though he couldn’t help but grin.  She was a good kid.


Wow, gettin’ really good there, Ulrike!

“Check this out, Watcher!”

Nice trick!  Got some air on that.  Ready for your birthday?

Ulrike grimaced.  “Not so much.  But guess it’s gotta happen.”  Once the cake she was baking came out of the oven, she brought it out onto the counter and put the candles on it.  With her family watching, Ulrike leaned down to blow out the candles.

“Happy birthday, baby,” Han told his wife as the adults sat down at the table.

“Still lookin’ good as ever, though, huh?” Marcus commented with a grin.

“Oh you!” Ulrike laughed.

Jaimie shook her head, chuckling.  “Better watch it, Marcus.  Wouldn’t want Han to have to trounce your behind!”

“Nah, no way!”

The group laughed.  This was a long-standing joke among them.

“Pretty soon, we’ll be celebrating Ripley’s teen birthday!”

Han groaned.  “Don’t even go there!  I am sooo not ready for that!  She only just became a child!  Don’t make me think about her becoming a teen already!”

There was some snickering, but Jaimie pointed out, “You’ll have to come to terms with at some point.  Kids do grow.”

“Yeah, yeah… but I am going to ignore it until I absolutely have to!”


“If Han can’t even handle Ripley being a teen, what’s he gonna do when the first boys come around?” Jaimie asked Ulrike as the two women and Marcus enjoyed some peace out in the sunroom.

Ulrike grimaced.  “I have no idea… I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.  Ripley’s so good natured, but I have a feeling she’s as stubborn as her father, so it should be… interesting, to say the least.”

Marcus chuckled.  “Got that right.  Though, I don’t blame Han much.  Any boy hurts that little girl and I’ll help my buddy to hide the body.”

Ulrike rolled her eyes.  “Don’t you dare give him ideas!”

Now, now everyone.  The poor thing has a while to go before she’s a teen, so let’s worry about that when we get there.  For now, let her enjoy being a kid as much as she can.  She’ll have enough to worry about with the Dynasty huh?

“Hear hear, Watcher!”

Ripley would have enough to deal with was right…


 

Chapter 6: This is a New Day, a New Beginning

Ulrike ran out of the house, glowing.  She forgot her anger at Han- mostly even as she skidded to a stop next to his rocket.  “Han!”

He looked at her warily, wondering how much yelling she was going to do this time.  Not that he didn’t deserve it, but a man (of any species or race) could only take so much abuse from all fronts.  “Ul-ulrike… hi.”

“Hanhanhan!”

“What?  What is it?”  There was a sudden fear.  Was she alright?  She had been pretty ill…

“We’re gonna have a nooboo!”

Han could only stare at her for a moment, his mouth a big round ‘O’.  Then he pulled her to him, hugging her tightly before kissing her senseless.

After a moment, he put her at arm’s length.  “Ulrike… can you ever forgive me?  I-I… I had to try.  I-I thought maybe- maybe if I could talk to-to SOMEONE, maybe I could get my answers.  I-I didn’t want this- thing to hang over our heads.”

Ulrike smiled gently at him.  “I get it, Han.  I do.  I’m a Renegade, remember?  I-I know that when someone tells you not to do something, it’s the first thing you want to do- and that’s just a normal thing.  You- you lost your home.  But- you have a new home now.”  It was left unspoken that he had her- and now he would have a child as well.

“You’re right,” he whispered.  “You’re right.  Ulrike, I-I won’t do something so stupid again.  Y-you… you and the child you carry.  You’ll be my world now.”

“C’mon, let’s go inside.”  They went back into the house, hand in hand.


Han cringed.  “Is Ulrike in the bathroom again, Watcher?”

Afraid so.  The morning sickness hits hardest during the early trimesters.  And it’s hitting your poor wife pretty hard as it is.  I can’t believe how sick you guys have been getting lately!

“Are you feeling better, baby?” Han asked his wife as she emerged from their bedroom to join him at the table.

She nodded.  “Yeah, for now.  It comes and goes.”

Han leaned over. “Be nice to mommy, kiddo.”  Ulrike stood up and Han followed.  He grinned as he leaned down to place to his hands on his wife’s swelling abdomen.  “You’re gonna be the bestest wittle nooboo around!  Aren’t you, sweetie?”

Ulrike grinned.

Ugh, medicine for you pal, soon as you’re done.  Your wife doesn’t need to get sick again. 

He frowned.  “Yeah, need to do that.”


“Can’t believe it, man.  You gonna be a daddy!”

“I know… it-it’s so weird!  And yet- I can’t stop smiling about it, Marcus!”

Marcus gave a raucous laugh.  “Yeah, there’s just- something about it.”  He let out a deep breathe, still running.

Han concentrated on his reps for a moment, then asked tentatively, “You gotten to see any of your little ones lately?”

“Nah, not yet… I plan on making some rounds though.”

Han nodded.

How’s the painting coming along?

 “Well enough.  Helps take my mind off the backache… at least for a while,” Ulrike answered ruefully as she gave her painting a critical onceover.

Ulrike?  What would you think of becoming a full time painter?  You could quit your gallery job, spend your days here painting and still be around for when the nooboo arrives.  We don’t need the money as much and honestly, your paintings sell for more than enough on their own.

Ulrike tilted her head to the side, thinking.  “Actually… I think I’d like that.  I really would.  I only took the job at the gallery to get started, but you’re right.  I would have more time for my own work and be able to be home with our baby.”

I hear Han.  Why don’t you talk it over with him?  See what he thinks?

“There’s my beautiful wife.”  Han was beaming as he looked at Ulrike.  She responded with a flirtatious tilt of her head and a fluttering of her lashes at him.

“I love you,” she murmured.

“And I you,” he responded.  He had to lean down murmur to his wife’s belly.  “I love you too, baby.  I love you very much.  Mommy and daddy can’t wait to meet you.”

“Awww,” Ulrike sniffed.  “So cute!  You’re going to make a great daddy.”  She sighed and stretched, grimacing and letting out a groan as her back ached.

“Oh baby, why didn’t you say anything?  Here, let me see what I can do for ya.”  Han spun her around gently and then began to massage her back and shoulders.

“Uuuuhhhh, that feels so good!  Oh, thank you so much, baby!”  Once he was done, she turned around to wrap her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Why don’t you get changed?  Get comfortable and we’ll spend the evening relaxing,” Han told her.

“That sounds lovely.”

They found themselves in the sunroom, relaxing as Marcus did his nightly run.  Han had gotten very comfortable, sitting in his skivvies with a glass of milk in hand.

“Hey hey!  Lookin’ good there, mama!” Marcus called out, waving at them both from the treadmill.

“Don’t you know it!” she replied.  Han just laughed.


“Hi, yes, I’m planning a birthday party.  It’s my own.  Turning into an adult.  Yeah, yeah, middle-aged my rear!  Yup, got what we needed.  Wife has made the cake already.  Yup, thanks!”

“Woo!  I’m an adult now!”

–sigh—Yes, but it only got to silver… this timer bug is going to be difficult to maneuver around.  That’s alright though.  We have time yet.

 “Yeah, I guess so.”

Ulrike, cake looks great, honey.

 “Thanks Watcher.”  Ulrike yawned.  “I’m beat.  I think I’m gonna call it a night.”

You do that.  You’ve earned it.  Anytime now and it’ll be time to meet your little one.

 Just as Ulrike went to climb into bed, she caught her breath and let out a sharp cry as something seemed to release inside of her.  “Oooooo!  W-watcher, I-I think it’s time!  M-my water just broke!”

Oh!  Alright, sweetie.  It’s ok.  Let’s get you to the hospital!  Han!  Get your butt moving!  It’s go time!


They arrived at the hospital, Han trying to remain calm, though his voice was about an octave higher than normal and he was talking much louder than necessary.  As Ulrike checked in, Han stood there, looking particularly menacing.  “If anything happens to her-“  He had been checking the computer on occasion and had stumbled upon Carl’s forums.  He’d seen some of the horror stories.  “I swear… I will hurt them like they’ve never been hurt!”

Yeah… I think you’re a bit too highly strung to be in there with her yet… C’mon, Han.  This way.  Don’t worry, Ulrike, I’m right here with you.

 “Th-thanks, Watcher.  This corridor is too darn long!”

I don’t know, sweetie.  Poor design maybe?  Almost there, though!

 Ulrike finally reached the room and changed into the gown provided for her.  She eased herself onto the cold steel table, a shiver running through her.

“Don’t worry Mrs. Galactus.  Everything will be alright,” the Doctor soothed.  He manned the controls, a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead.  He hadn’t quite gotten the hang of these new contraptions. He found the proper setting with a small sigh of relief and hit the button.  But as the machine whirred and the arm went through the slot, the EKG machine blared a warning and something that shouldn’t have been in the grip of the claws was!

“W-watch…er…”  Ulrike let out a gasp and her head lulled to the side.

Oh my God!  Do something you moron! 

Outside the door, there was an all-too familiar voice.  “Ulrike?  Ulrike!”

If you don’t fix this now, I can’t promise I can hold him back!  You are a dead Sim if he comes in and sees her like this!

Frantically, the doctor hit several buttons, his eyes wide in fear.  The orderly peeked outside the doors, putting his life into his own hands just in case Han was still out there.  The machines still blared their warning and Ulrike was still.

Doctor!

Finally, the machine responded to the doctor’s commands and a few moments later, the machine picked up a sinus rhythm.  Ulrike’s eyes opened.  “W-watcher?”

Oh thank the Forum!  You’re ok, Ulrike.  You’re fine, sweetie.  And guess what?  There’s someone here to see you.

A sharp cry split the air and Ulrike turned her head to look into the bassinet by the table.  A beautiful little blue baby stared back at her.

Welcome little Ripley Galactus, the heir to the Dynasty.