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 3: Live Long and Prosper

“You look like you got something on your mind, lad.  What is it?” Kade asked, looking sideways at Han on the other end of the couch.

Han started and then looked over at the gardener.  “I uh… met someone, Kade.  I-I can’t seem to get her out of my mind.”

Kade laughed.  “A pretty woman’ll do that, son.  Did you get her number?”

Han had the grace to blush a little.  “Um, yeah.”

“You gonna call her?”

“I-I don’t know.  Maybe…”

“Let me give ya a little advice: it’s better to regret what you did do, than what you didn’t, alright?”

Han’s brow furrowed.  “Yeah… I guess.”

Kade grinned and stood.  “Well, I’m gettin’ old, so I’m gonna head to bed.  Have a good night, lad.”

“Night, Kade.”

Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time?

 “I’m doing much better, I promise.  That and it helps clear my head a bit.  Don’t be such a-a… what’s the term?  Worrywart?  Something like that.”

Hm… I hope so.  Wouldn’t want any unfortunate accidents, would we? 

“Yeah, yeah.”

Oh dear, Kade!  I didn’t realize your cowplant had grown up… Just be careful with him.


“Oh don’t worry, Watcher.  Rover here won’t hurt anyone!”

Rover?  Um, alright… Sims!

You two look as if you’ve hit it off.

 “Hey Watcher!  How’s it hangin’?”  Marcus grinned.

“Ain’t he a trip, Watcher?” Jaimie asked with a chuckle.

Hm, he’s something alright.  I’ll leave you to it.  Keep him out of trouble, Jaimie.

 “You got it!”

Han?  You have a visitor.

He looked up from the piece he was working on, this time he was clothed.  “A visitor?  Really?”


Intrigued, he left the workbench and stepped outside.  When he saw his visitor, he froze.  “Ulrike…”

She smiled at him.  “Hello Han.  I got a little tired of waiting.  I’d heard you were pretty busy, so thought I’d come and check on you myself.”

Han swallowed.  All thoughts had flown out of his head.  Without thinking, he opened up his mind, something he’d been warned about doing around Sims.  But it was too late!  Thoughts and feelings flowed between them in a matter of seconds, an intense flood that staggered them both for a moment.

Ulrike shook her head, trying to clear it.  She looked at Han intensely.  “Y-you’re an alien!”

Han tried to smile, though it was more of a grimace.  “Um… yes?”

“That’s really cool!  Everyone said I was crazy to think there were aliens, but… wow!”

“Wait… you aren’t… freaked out?”

“Freaked out?  No, of course not!  I think it’s really cool!”

“Y-you do?”  He couldn’t help but grin.  He had been worried about that.  It was one reason he hadn’t ventured out much.  No one in the house really cared about him being an alien, but he’d heard some insane stories about how Sims reacted.  The fact that Ulrike thought it was ‘cool’ seemed to be a sign!  He’d been careful to keep his glow down to a minimum, but this time he didn’t care.

“Poor thing,” she murmured.  “You ok, Han?”  She gave him a hug, having felt and seen some of what he had been feeling earlier.

“Yeah, yeah I am.  You uh, wanna stick around for a bit tonight?”

She lowered her gaze a little, looking at him through her long dark lashes.  “Sure, I’d like that.”

“Morning beautiful,” Han murmured to Ulrike.

“Hi yourself, handsome.”

“Thanks for hanging out.  Sorry to keep you so long.”

Ulrike laughed.  “I hardly noticed the time.  Thanks for having me.”  She wrapped her arms around him.

Hello Kade.  What do you see?

“W-watcher… It-it’s that time.  The Reaper is coming.  Y-you take care of Han, ok?  T-tell him I’m glad to have been a part of his family, even if only for a little while.  So-so tired.”

O-oh, Kade… Oh, I’m so sorry.

“Now, now.  N-none of that.  Y-you look after him.  And you make sure he listens to you.  And Watcher?”


“Make sure he’s happy.”

I’ll-I’ll try,  Kade.


“What’s going on here?” Han came running over the grass, looking concerned.  Then he saw Kade on the ground.  “K-kade?  C’mon, man.  Thi-this isn’t funny!  Get up!” His hand went to his mouth as the realization that he was losing one of the only people in the world who had really believed in him, even when he hadn’t believed in himself.

“Han?  What is it?”  Ulrike was running toward them.

“Ah, man, not Kade!” Marcus exclaimed, not quite able to disguise the sniffle.

“Oh, Kade,” Jaimie whispered, tears in her eyes.

“Oh-oh, dear.  Oh Han… I-I’m sorry.”  Ulrike had talked to Kade a bit the previous night and she had seen how close he had been with Han.

Grim, if-if you could please hurry… this is agony.  He-he was a good man. 

 “Yes, Watcher, I see that here.  Don’t worry, he will be well taken care of.  You are right, he was a very good man.”  The Grim Reaper’s scythe swiped down, severing Kade’s soul from his body.  “I am sorry for your loss.  I am- only doing my job.”

“We know, Grim,” Jaimie told him gruffly.  “But… your job surely sucks.”

“That it does.”

RIP Kade Cotter.  You will be dearly missed.


Interlude Four: The Darkness Thickens

Bridgeport, a few weeks after Alaric’s death


The city’s lights faded away in the rearview mirror of the expensive car.

Belisama Donovan sat behind the wheel, her grip on the steering wheel made her knuckles white.  She had thought about ignoring this summons.  Had actually contemplated just ignoring and doing what she wanted.  But right on the heels of that thought was the possible consequences from ignoring the summons.  Though she hated to admit it, those thoughts sent a shiver down her spine.  And so, she found herself following a winding road out of the city.

It looked like nothing more than a small stone shack on the far outskirts of the city.  But looks could be deceiving.  Bridgeport was home to one of the world’s only super, super max security prison facility.  It was the kind of place that was used to house supernaturals.  The only place that could, aside from the Netherworld, anyway.  Belisama looked disdainfully at the shack façade as she climbed out of her car.  She walked through the double doors into the barren interior.  In front of her was an elevator.

She rode it down and instinctively knew that they were several stories below the surface.  The wards, both technological and magical, made her skin crawl.  Hmph, she’s the one locked up like a rat in a cage and she has the nerve to summon me like a wayward child!

She went through the security station.  There were no guards here.  There didn’t need to be.  Those wards were more than enough to keep the inmates in line.  And if by some miracle, they managed to escape, the unseen guards would take care of them.

Another shudder ran over Belisama’s flesh, raising goosebumps along her arms.  She sauntered through the double doors in front of her.

There was almost a sucking sound, as if the next little room was some sort of a vacuum.  Then she was through the last set of double doors, a huge window looking through into a room on the other side.

The woman on the cot had been waiting for this visitor.  She didn’t need to look to know it was her.  Her energy was only too familiar.  Elvira supposed it was better late than never, though the lack of obedience would need to be dealt with.

Belisama looked around, that unmistakable sneer on her face.  “How the mighty have fallen,” she murmured, though not even she was brave enough to say it any louder.  She watched out of the corner of her eye as Elvira levered herself off the dingy cot in the corner of the small cell.

Elvira wanted to wipe the smirk off the arrogant chit’s face, but that would have to wait.  They had much to discuss first.

The elder vampire matriarch went and sat down in the small chair in the cell, steepling her hands in front of her as she rested her elbows on her knees.  “I’m glad you could finally join me,” she murmured.  She had no need to raise her voice.  She would be heard.  Belisama had gone right up to the glass, peering in.

That voice… it sent a chill down Belisama’s spine.  Her mother in law had always been able to do that.  The power seemed to roll off Elvira Slayer in waves.  One could forget it for short periods, but never when they were in her presence.  That thought of defiance, of refusing to sit, flew out of Belisama’s mind.  She took the seat, even as Elvira stood up, her arms crossed over her chest.

“Good girl,” Elvira murmured.  “Now, shall we get down to business?”

“That would be appreciated.”  Belisama managed to inject enough disdain in there to make it clear what she thought of being summoned there, yet Elvira had to admire her pluck.  At least for a short amount of time.

“Word has reached me that you plan on traveling to Monte Vista.  Didn’t I make myself clear already?  Any moves against the Wyverns are to be made only with my express permission.”

Belisama’s eyes narrowed dangerously.  “I see your network is as strong as ever.  There’s no point in lying.  Yes, I plan on going there.  I plan on ripping Luna Wyvern’s heart out of her chest while that traitor watches.”

Elvira sneered.  “Do you even have any idea who you’re dealing with?  The Wyverns are powerful.  More powerful than you can imagine.  And their home is surrounded by wards.  Wards that will turn you to dust before you could attempt to step across the threshold.”

“You’d let them get away with they have!?” Belisama hissed, clenching her hands into fists.  “They killed your son, my husband!”  Fury and what might have been grief colored her pale cheeks.

“I’m well aware of what they’ve done.”  Elvira’s voice was as cold as an Arctic wind and her eyes flashed dangerously.  “They will pay, in due time.  But touching them in their home territory is not only foolish but dangerous.  I gave those orders for a reason.  Don’t you think I would have already taken care of them by now if caution wasn’t needed?”

“I want her dead!” Belisama exploded.  “She deserves to die for what she did!  Alaric tried to protect her and it got him killed!”

She had begun to rise from her chair but then dropped back in shock as the lights all around her went out.  Elvira hadn’t moved.  But all the lights had simply died… Belisama knew fear then.  Elvira could manipulate things in this place?

“Yes, she deserves to die,” Elvira continued, as if nothing untoward had occurred.  “They all do for their interference.  I have already begun to ensure that, but the fact remains that attacking them on their home turf is out of the question.  Disobey me in this at your own peril, Belisama.  My name, nor my power can protect you in Monte Vista.”

Belisama knew a dismissal when she heard it and she was only too happy to make a beeline for the door.  She couldn’t help looking over her shoulder as if something monster was behind her.  But even as she left Elvira’s presence, fury and something akin to shame assailed her.  How dare that woman order her about like some dog.  She had a right to avenge her husband’s death.  So their home was warded.  There were other ways to get to someone.


Elvira watched Belisama’s retreat with the same stony expression.  Only once she could feel the girl leave the premises did she allow the malicious smile to cross her lips.  The seeds had been planted.  She knew Belisama better than the girl knew herself.  Even terrified, the girl’s rebellious streak and need to prove that she was her own boss would send her running to Monte Vista.  Elvira very much doubted Belisama would succeed in her mission, though even if the girl managed to do half of what she wanted, it would be worth it.  And Elvira had no doubt that the Wyverns would rid her of the nuisance that Belisama had become.  It was killing two birds with one stone, as far as she saw it.  And if Belisama managed to kill Luna Wyvern?  All the better.

Her eyes glowed red in the absence of light and the abyss seemed to look back.


Interlude Three: Wrath of the Dragon Queen, Part 2

David enjoyed the cool air of the evening as it swirled around him and his wife.  His gaze was pointed up to the sky but he was only too aware of her next to him.  Since he had awoken in Simgardheim- that was the name of this place, a place where the Gods of Simanity resided- he’d actually become used to quite a lot.  It was a protected world, he’d found out, one filled with wonder, but also with dangers of its own.  The first “person” he’d encountered had been Lyall.  She’d smiled at him and welcomed him to his new home.  He had been so confused, he hadn’t had a thought in his head, let alone been able to speak.  “Don’t worry,” the Goddess had told him.  “Your wife will along shortly.”

Lyall had spoken the truth.  He had been afraid that it had been a dream, that his life with Celestia might have been some hallucination.  He’d always been able to feel her, her vibrancy and her energy.  He had stood in front of the easel Lyall and provided and lost himself for a little while, trying to make sense of things, a part of him feeling as if he were missing something vital.  Then… in a moment of perfect clarity, everything righted itself.  He’d turned… and there she was.  His Dragon Queen.

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed since they’d both awoken here, since they’d… well, died.  It was a pretty distinct memory in his mind.  He missed his family, but being able to watch them, even from afar helped a little, though worry marred his countenance a little.  The undercurrents in Simgardheim were vast and bound to pull the unwary below and would drown them quickly.  It wasn’t much different from the Sim Realm, really, in that regard anyway.  With a quiet sigh, he leaned back a bit and just looked up at the gorgeous night sky, his wife beside him.

They had sat there in silence for a long time, neither really needing words.  But David felt compelled to ask after a long moment, “Thanatos is due to arrive soon, right?”

His wife nodded slowly.  “Yes.  I’ll know when he does.”

“Celestia…” he murmured, hesitating for a moment.  She turned her head a little to look at him out of the corner of her eye.

“Yes, love?”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I am, David.  I am.”  She turned her gaze back up to the night sky, letting her husband absorb that.  He gripped the hand that was beneath his securely and let the time slip away.

It wasn’t long though, before Celestia sensed Thanatos’s presence.  David had gone to another part of the large mansion to wait for her.  This business was hers alone to deal with.  She sat in the office, the same office that she had met Lyall in when all this began.  The irony of it was not lost on her.  Here she was again, this time cast in Lyall’s place.  The door opened as she sat lost in thought and in walked Thanatos, the God of Death.

Slowly, Celestia stood up, her face a blank mask even as the dark hood came up, looking at her.  She couldn’t see any eyes, but she didn’t need to.  She could feel the way he measured her.  “Celestia,” he intoned, his voice a dark resonance that seemed to echo within all that darkness.

“Thanatos,” she murmured with a slight incline of her head.

Silence reigned for a long moment as the two studied one another, neither wanting to be the first to break the silence.  It had often been thus with them.  Celestia and Thanatos had once been neutral parties in the petty squabbles that went on around them.  But many things had changed.  Finally, Thanatos broke first, a hint of impatience in his voice.  “Why have I been summoned here?”

Tilting her head to the side, Celestia acknowledged the concession briefly before she intoned, “I claim the Right of Accusation against you.”  Her words seemed to echo around them, the very utterance of them holding some kind of power.

Though she could not see his expression, hidden as his countenance was by that infernal hood, Celestia knew by the way he crossed his arms over his chest that she had startled him.

He said nothing as Celestia laid the charges before him: one of her children, her flesh and blood children, had been wounded, had technically been killed by one of his.  The rules governing the Gods’ flesh and blood offspring were many and myriad, but their protection was absoluate.  The fact that Celestia’s son would have died because of Thanatos’s daughter was a serious matter indeed.

When she finished speaking, Thanatos said nothing.  Finally, he intoned, “What is your price?  What boon or what punishment do you require to right this wrong?”  His words held as much power- and as much of a binding oath- as Celestia’s had.

Something appeared between the two of them.  It was an orb.  The mortals called it a Moondial, but this was a finely crafted Looking Glass.

It was a precision instrument and used for viewings of many types.  Celestia had thought to use the large screen that Lyall had had commissioned, but Celestia knew Thanatos was old fashioned, a traditionalist.  She thought he would appreciate this more and it would keep the advantage to her.  The boon she was asking was unheard of.

Letting a trickle of power flow through her, that golden glow surrounding her, an image began to swirl inside the globe of the viewing sphere.  As it coalesced into a discernible image, that of a person, Thanatos flicked a glance at Celestia.  The image was that of a vampire, his red eyes glowing brightly, his handsome face vaguely familiar somehow.

“He is the price to be paid.”

“You wish his death?”  She could hear the uncertainty, a sure sign that she was hitting her mark.

“No, his life.  He is no longer one of yours, Thanatos.  His life now belongs to me and mine.”

The silence that fell was glaringly loud in its intensity.  Celestia waited, her body seemingly relaxed, though she was coiled tighter than a spring.  “As you wish… sister.  It is done.  He now belongs to you.  The debt is paid.”  With a crack of sound, he disappeared in a cloud of yellow and black smoke, leaving Celestia alone.

She wasn’t alone for long though.  Lyall appeared, looking at the globe, but more importantly, the image within it.  Celestia leaned against the desk, letting some of the tension drain away.

Lyall frowned, her brow furrowing.  “You’re responsible for Luna’s dreams.  That’s her “vampire prince”, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m responsible,” was all the Queen of the Dragons murmured.  She waved her hand and the image changed.  This time, there was a young girl there, and though there wasn’t any outward indication, Celestia knew that power flowed through her veins.

“I hope you know what you’re doing…” Lyall murmured.

“Me too,” Celestia whispered as Lyall disappeared once more.  She continued to stare into the globe, watching the girl within it, her expression troubled.  Then it became determined.

This would work… it had to.


Chapter 15: It Comes in Threes…

I’ve been sitting here, staring down at this book for close to an hour now.  The paper is beginning to rip from where I’ve scratched out what I’ve written so many times.  I know I’m supposed to record this.  My mother would want me to.  But I’m… numb.  There just seems to be… nothing inside of me right now.  Is that normal?  Whether it is or it isn’t, it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.  Maybe I’ll find some kind of perspective on all of this.  At the least, I hope to finally feel SOMETHING.

It didn’t start out bad.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  The day started out with my wife’s birthday.  She was a little apprehensive about leaving her youth behind, though I told her she was being silly.  She would still be beautiful and I couldn’t possibly love her anymore.  She had a beautiful and talented teenage daughter and our marriage couldn’t be happier… well, except maybe for me working less days, though it was getting better.

We all gathered around: Mom, Dad, Falkor, and Aurora.  Faye had gone home the night before, but we would get a call from her later on.  But that’s later.   Anyway, we all gathered around the cake and Dad lit the candles.  Sophia seemed to think for a moment as she leaned over the cake.  The rest of us cheered and blew noisemakers for the occasion.

After the sparkles hit, my wife stood there for a moment, biting her lip.  “How do I look?” she asked.  “I’m sure the wrinkles are awful, aren’t they?”  In answer, I went to her and pulled her close, kissing her soundly.

“Does that answer your question?” I whispered into her ear before putting her at arms’ length and grinning at her.  She seemed to forget about her wrinkles.  Though, she did want to change her hair.  Her curls, apparently, are a pain to take care of.  So she, Aurora, and my mother went to the bathroom to help her cut it and straighten it to within an inch of its life.

She’s beautiful… but then, she always has been.  And if it makes her happy, then I’m all for it.  Her birthday also happened to fall on our year anniversary.  It seems a little unreal that we’ve been married a year, though we’ve been together quite a bit longer.  Contrary to popular belief, I did NOT forget about our anniversary.  In fact, I even took a few days off work and told them don’t bother to page me;  I wouldn’t answer.

We decided to actually head to Varg’s Tavern, grab a drink.  We don’t get out much, her and I, so this was a nice interlude together.  We talked of silly things, of life in general, about music and even had a spirited discussion on who was going to win the high school football tournament.  That’s one thing about Sophia; I’ve always been able to talk to her about anything and everything.  Even when there’s silence, it’s a comfortable silence and we can speak without saying a word.

After our drinks and a bit more conversation, we headed to Venice Beach.  It was early summer, but still, the water was fairly cold.  That didn’t stop us, though.

After a brisk swim and some fooling around and splashing one another, we decided to head home.  The hot tub beckoned to us; I swear, it was calling our names, even.  It was nice, just the two of us.  The balmy summer night air, the warmth of the water, and having my wife next to me made it all perfect.

But… while my wife and I enjoyed ourselves… all was not well.  From what my mother had told me, Dad had gotten up, rubbing at his chest.  He’d been uncomfortable since they’d gone to lie down and his sleep had been troubled.  She asked him if he was ok.  He’d smiled at her, like he always did.  Then something passed over his face.  “I’m sorry my love.  My Queen…”  He fell to the ground.  There… was nothing my mom could do, though she tried.  Her screams brought Aurora and Falkor running.  But they could only watch as my father’s spirit began to drift to the dark shape that waited for him on the deck outside my parents’ room.

I had no idea… no clue what was happening, still too wrapped up in my wife.  Why didn’t I know?  H-how could I not know what was going on?  Why couldn’t I feel it?  I still don’t have any answers to that… other than I wasn’t meant to.

Aurora told me later that my dad looked back at them all through the doors.  He wore his normal smile.  “Don’t be sad for too long, my loves.  We’ll see each other again.  I love you all.”  Then he looked at my mother.  “My Queen.  Thank you.  Thank you for everything.  I love you.  I’ll be waiting.”

Sophia and I had come inside by this time and I was still oblivious.  Until I heard my mother’s wail of agony.

And then I knew.  Something ran through me then.  It was like a lance through my heart and that’s when I realized that I couldn’t feel my father anymore.  Always before, there was an… awareness of those around me, particularly those I shared blood with.  It wasn’t very overt, but it was always there.  But now… that awareness of my father was simply… gone.

None of us handled it well.  My brother and I did our best to comfort mom.

But I’m afraid that there is so little we can do…  Not when it feels like we’re missing a piece of ourselves.  I can’t imagine how mom feels.  When she isn’t sobbing uncontrollably, she just stands there, looking lost.  I don’t know what to do for her.  And then there’s my daughter.  Poor Aurora.  She was so close to her grandfather.  And with all the grief around her… she’s just being bombarded.

It didn’t end there.  Grim had barely left us, taking away my father, before he returned.  This time for our dear Gabe.  The old fella had been close with my father and I think watching him die had been too much for the poor dog.

Hasn’t Grim done enough?  He took dad… and I never got to say goodbye.  Now Gabe.  Could it get any worse?  It can… it really can.  I can’t help but think that we get so complacent, that we can’t help but take things for granted.  We go through life, getting used to something.  For me, it was my parents.  Death happens, I knew that.   But they just seemed so… eternal, I guess.  I never thought that I’d lose them.  It just… never entered my mind.

I’d just gotten Aurora to lie down when I heard a whisper in my mind, <”Take care of them, Draco.  You are my heir, my first born.  I love you, my son.  We’ll meet again.”>  I tore out of my daughter’s room and took the spiral stairs two at a time.  I got to my mother’s room.  But it was too late.  <”Goodbye everyone.”>

Losing Dad had been too much for her.  She died of a broken heart.  A part of me wants to rage… weren’t we enough to keep her here?  Didn’t we matter?  But another part understands all too well.  The thought of losing Sophia, after living a lifetime together… and my dad was really what made her.  If not for him, I’m not sure how her time here would have played out.  He gave her something no one else could.  Losing that, losing him… it broke her spirit.  She was never a normal Sim to begin with.  I don’t know what my aunt’s game was in what she did to my mother.  But my mother made the most of her situation here.  I don’t doubt that she loved us.  But she couldn’t stay.  Not without my father.

While it angers me and it saddens me… I understand.  I’m no longer numb now.  But I can’t succumb to what I’m filled with now.  I have a family to take care of.

The last few days have been more than hard.  Before, I felt numb.  Now… there are so many emotions, I don’t know what to do with all of it.  I’m trying to be strong, trying to keep it together for the family.  My parents would want that.  But it’s hard.  It’s so very hard.  We lay mom and dad to rest a couple days ago.  We didn’t have a service; mom and dad wouldn’t want that.  They would have wanted us to celebrate their life.

Monte Vista is an old village.  On our property, we found what had probably been an old wine cellar or maybe even a crypt.  We had it dug out and finished off.  This will be where our family is laid to rest.  Above ground, a mausoleum was also built, a place to show life, as my parents would have wanted.  As I said, we lay mom and dad to rest, side by side as it should be.

In the mausoleum, they each have a corner.  Dad’s holds the easel, with the last painting he had been working on as well as one of our favorite paintings of his.  Mom’s corner holds her potions and her spell books and components.  It seems like so little, but I can’t help but feel that they’d appreciate this.

As much as this hurts, there is another who feels it more.  My daughter.  Poor Aurora… I don’t know what to do for her.  Losing her grandparents has been devastating to her.  She was so close with both of them.

Art club, which she had been going to since elementary school, had a ceremony for her.  She had won a painting competition she had been in.  During her speech… she’d lost it.  Bursting into tears, she’d run out, sobbing.  I found her outside the school, bent over, trying to stop the tears.

With everything going on, we did have a good bit of news.  Amidst all the grief and sadness, there is life.  There is always life.  Falkor ran off to the hospital to be with Faye.  She gave birth to their second child, a little girl they called Katherine Elise Wyvern.

After the “services” were over and things had begun to settle down just a little bit, we got another surprise.  A gentleman called.  He called himself Gerome Giacomo.  He was a lawyer, he was dad’s lawyer.  Apparently, he and mom had left a letter with him.  Could be called a will, I suppose.  In it, they left the house and the land to me, Sophia, and Aurora.  But they didn’t forget Falkor and his family.

Falkor, the letter read, we know you wanted a home of your own, a place to raise your family.  We’re sorry that we couldn’t be here for you more, to see your children grow up.  I know it isn’t much, but I hope you will accept this; Sophia’s mother and father left her their home, but she has no need of it and placed it in our care.  We want you to have it.  It will be your and Faye’s home and should give you plenty of room for you and your children.  I’m sorry we aren’t there for you, my boys.  Your mother and I love you both very much.  Give our love to your families.  We’ll meet again, someday.

Love, forever and always,

David Michael Haynes and Celestia Wyvern-Haynes

Falkor had been a big help to us.  But he was right.  He and I talked about it.  “Draco, it’s time,” he told me softly.  “Mom and Dad are-are gone.  I miss them too.  But it’s time to move on.  You have a family of your own now.  I do, too.  Little Katherine’s a toddler now, Rickie’s in elementary already.  It’s time.  I want to live with my family.”

I gave him a hug and hung on a little bit.  “Take care of yourself, little brother,” I murmured.  “You know you’re always welcome.”

He grinned a little.  “Same goes for you, ya know.  Come and visit.  The kids would love to see you, you and Sophia and Aurora.”  He frowned.  “How’s she doing, by the way?”

“She’s… withdrawn.  Her mother and I can’t get her to open up.  When she’s ready…”  I shrugged.  “I can’t force her to talk about it.  I can only hope that she’ll talk to us when she’s ready.”  I slapped him on the back and then waved at him and his family as they loaded the last of their things up and then left.

The house is quieter without my brother and Faye running around.  I still wake up, expecting to see my dad in the kitchen, mixing up pancake batter or see my mom playing with one of the dogs.  It hits me hard at times.  I finally let loose.  My wife just held me to her, letting me get it out.  She had known this is what I needed since we lost them both.

It felt… good, surprisingly.  I’m always going to miss them and while I’m fully prepared for it to sneak up on me every now and again, life moves on.  I’m going to live life, like they would have wanted.  I’m going to keep doing what I need to, concentrating on my family and on my career.  It’s because of them that I can.  They gave me everything in life.  I can only return that favor by being what they would have expected of me.

Good bye mom and dad.  You will never be forgotten.  We had a plaque made from old photos of mom and dad, then hung it up.  I think it looks good.

In memorium of David Haynes and his beloved wife, Celestia Wyvern-Haynes.  May you watch over us always.