Sunday, October 22, 2017

1.10 Age of Entertainment

Dustin works hard and his tricks have a unique flair that other local entertainers can't seem to mimic in quite the same way. Really he knows that this is nothing more than an attention to detail on his part, some modifications to accepted classics that utilize his natural handiness, and the fact that he actually likes people enough to put on shows for them. With so many entertainers out to trick fans into handing over cash quickly and the misconceptions that every artist is a polished gem waiting to be discovered by the right network, there's a shortage of quality in this line of work.

Dustin gladly and gradually rises in popularity to fill that gap.

Even with simple backgrounds and non-impressive sets his humor and work stand out. The city has named him a rising star, his face is being used to advertise the seasonal fair as a local talent to attract more attendance, and he is more importantly able to put food on the table.

Part of Element the Suspicious' popularity comes from his habit of playing for tips for small crowds after each show, but to him this merely makes sense as there's already a gathering of people. He jokingly calls this 'overtime'.

Plus he knows Meghan's at home working and though bills aren't as tight as they once were, he doesn't want her to stress about what type of research will make the most money in the long run. He is able to encourage her to follow her instincts into which types of study will pay off long term and after careful effort, which is an idea she can get behind wholeheartedly.

Despite what she said about being willing to marry him 'tomorrow', he's taking things in stride and hasn't pressured her. There's no way he's going to let her regret marrying him, and no way he's going to let her have a bad memory if he picks the wrong time or time of day to exchange vows and rings. Her mind seems to be gradually settling back to the way it always was before, which is both a good and bad thing. She's so unpredictable.

It's already been months since they had their first conversation about it.

They both continue to work late into the night, Meghan now does a combination of posting studies online and (occasionally, alright it's at least three nights a week) scooping ad revenue out of the unwitting hands of Zike Buckerzurg of Macefook. He probably doesn't need the money anyways. There's just so much equipment to gather and the list of things she can't afford grows along with each new research project, so she rationalizes away any question of morality regarding the growing habit. This brings each day a tenuous balance of frustration and excitement. There is much to do, and barely enough time to do it all.

Dustin goes to bed in his glasses half the time, forgetting to take them off because he's so exhausted. Meghan frequently has dreams in which she is still working. But now that their path together is finally decided neither one of them want to waste any time. They are driven to succeed and build the best chance at a life together. Starlight Shores is a place full of energy and promise, there's something about it that draws one to put in a complete effort with a happiness covered by an edge of urgency in each day.

Dustin hadn't realized how much he needed this kind of partnership with Meghan until he actually had it. The feeling that they both are aligning their goals, trimming away wants to focus on things needed and weaving a tapestry of wishes and efforts and goals is impossible to describe or measure. He just loves this feeling, and is happy to be exhausted in this way.

They still manage to snag the occasional weekend together and sleep in.

Meghan wakes up excited for another day of exploration, doing mental gymnastics on her way to the kitchen. Not that there's a room in the house that isn't also the kitchen, or the laundry, or the bathroom, but semantics amirite? They're saving money and nobody ever died because they didn't have enough walls.

Dustin's parents would be upset about some of their living conditions if they saw them, but again this is all temporary. He had managed to get in touch a few days ago and as it turned out, Eugene eventually blabbed and told his mother everything anyways. He owed them a visit, and promised to deliver on it once they had saved up enough money and gotten further established out here, which is he were perfectly honest was looking like a duration of years.

They get a little time to chat in the morning, the mood is calm. Dustin is proud of his pancakes, he's probably made them five dozen times by now. Meghan seems to be in a thoughtful mood even though she's still merely half awake. Her 'chair' wobbles as she sits down with frustrated caution. They needed money and they needed it fast.

“Do you want to take a walk? It's a beautiful day outside.” He suggests, wanting to extend their time together. He knows the more the day goes on the more likely it is they're end up doing their own thing as they're each so independent. “I'd like to spend time with you today.”

She chews her food for a moment without answering, working to finish a minor calculation. Perhaps if she adjusted the time of exposure of radiation to the next insect the genetic changes resulting would be more gradual and less energy could be used overall to achieve similar results.

She forgets he asked a question and responds with one of her own. “If I want a fine tuned-control of the radiation production at my station by making adjustments to the volts per ampere flowing into the laser array, can that be provided on my interface now or would I need a new one? Can you add a feature so I can utilize sub-ohms for more power, even if it's just on a dial to start?”

The tines of her fork click against her teeth as she chews on a bite of pancake thoughtfully, but Dustin rolls his eyes.


He just frowns at her. “I mean I can but we have all day together for once and that's what you want to talk about? At least I know I'm talking to Meghan at the moment.”

She puts her fork down slowly, without making eye contact. Clearly she's knows what he's referring to. “I don't know what you mean.” She lies clumsily. “I was just tired.”

“Meghan you weren't tired, you were someone else. If it was mere exhaustion then excuse me for thinking you would know who I was.”

“I-” She's scrambling now, looking for a way to turn the conversation into something else. She was not expecting a direct confrontation, but when one of her 'Others' showed up at a very... inconvenient time last night and threatened Dustin for being a stranger, asking where they were... threatening to call the police on him... well it was probably going to come up in conversation. Eventually he had been able to convince that self that he intended her no harm, but when Meghan woke up she'd found his side of the bed empty and he had been sleeping in a sleeping bag again.

Unable to answer him, she silently flounders. There is a question that (if she could admit to herself) had been on her mind a lot lately. Did he know about her condition? Not the condition that made her believe any dish with eggs was going to cause a litany of potentially hospitalizing discomforts or the condition she'd recently resolved where she could bury herself in dirt for energy and converse with her vegetable garden (that had been real, hadn't it? Or was that a new Other joining the ranks?), no- the condition where several different people inhabited her mind. She hadn't been able to admit it to him openly, which hurt sometimes- he was honest and trusting always and she envied him for that. Why was she unable to match his honesty in kind?

“Do you know... about me?” Her voice is quiet, unsure, it feels like her breath freezes in her lungs. He's going to finally run screaming out of the front door and she'll never see him again. Maybe he knew, but it was her oldest secret, maybe he thought it was all her.

There's a long and pregnant pause where he just watches her thoughtfully and she squirms, sure that she's finally done something to make him snap. Did all men snap, eventually, or was it personality or circumstance driven? She has never seen him really lose his temper, would she be able to handle it when he did? “I'm sorry.” She finally says, unable to handle any more silence.

When he sighs too she resumes eating, but more for show than anything else. Each bite is small and cautious. This is a normal conversation. She is a normal sim. Everything will be fine, even if it doesn't feel like it now. Everything is...

“I know you have more than one personality, and that you struggle to hide them.” He interrupts her thoughts in a grim tone. “But that's what they call it, isn't it? Multiple personality something disorder or other. Last night was difficult for me but I'm only upset you haven't told me about this in detail. I didn't think you'd ever... not know who I was.”

There's a shiver of sorrow in his voice and she feels so guilty. “I didn't know, no I don't know how to explain it.” She finally admits. “I've gotten pretty good at hiding them I was just hoping you wouldn't notice.” Her voice is vulnerable and childish and for a second he thinks she's switched again. But it happens more at night, so maybe not.

“Meghan?” He asks cautiously.

She takes a second to answer. “It's me.” She says simply.

But he looks away, suddenly not wanting to force anything out of her. Sometimes she still reminds him so much of that little girl in the park, playing alone, pretending that everything was her choice. Her mother did not leave her, she had chosen to leave her mother. He's done some research on his own about the disorder and it seems to be associated with trauma, often from a combined application of unrelenting psychological and physical abuse. Meghan wasn't into art or he'd probably have a much better idea of what she went through because she would be recreating it for therapy. Something painful enough for her mind to shut it out completely, encapsulated with a new personality on top that was solely the keeper of those memories. Each one unique, each one holding the keys to a smaller part of her true personality and mind.

He doesn't think being shut in a storage shed is enough alone to do that, and the feeling of white-hot anger that he feels when he contemplates it can't do Meghan any good right now. What if he says something and it breaks her? What if she changes one day for good, and he never gets the real her back?

Andrea is the most frequent Other, the little six year old girl who witnessed a horrible thing. He backs down, not wanting to force her to talk about it anymore. “Come outside with me after we eat.”

It's more of a polite command, but the words carry a weight for some reason and she just nods once. If he's willing to accept her, craziness and all, she thinks she'll do anything he asks.

He cleans up from the meal and heads out first. She washes her hands slowly, pondering his change of mood and follows after. When she gets outside she's surprised to see him sitting in the beat up car he's been working on, while the rain begins to fall from the vast oceanic sky above. Starlight shores is still a beautiful place, even with its eyes full of tears.

“You mind telling me why we have to be outside right now?” She grumbles, grateful to have avoided much more difficult topics once again.

He pretends to yawn for the dramatic effect of it all. “Quit being grumpy and join me.”

“It's raining.”

“This is called drizzle.”

“Drizzle is what they put on ice cream sunday right before the cherry goes on top.” She complains, buying time. “This is bouncing off the ground. It's wet and cold and uncomfortable.”

“It's not cold, and I won't let you stay cold if you are. Please?” He tries one more time.

“Fine but I get to drive. Move out of my seat.”

“If that's what it takes.” he agrees easily and scoots over.

“I was surprised you'd buy something like this.” She admits when she sits down, placing her hands on the thin metal steering wheel. Her fingerless gloves protect her skin but it's not nearly as cold out here as she expected it to be. His seat was warm and there's an unexpected and nice sort of balance between the chill in the rain and the warmth in the air around them. Maybe it's just her proximity to him making her feel that way, though. He was always strong, solid, and reliable. Whenever they were just quietly near each other (which was not often enough lately she found this moment forcing her to admit) her fear of the unknown and her worries for the future fled. The vacuum of peace left in the wake of this feeling was always warm, like he was. It lulls her in a way.

As she is lost in thought he trails his fingers over the tattered cloth surface of the seat between them, reverently almost. “I wanted something to prove that we're in a better place. Sorta symbolic, you know? Of how far we've come. The things that... happened in the past, we can't change them. We just have to progress from it, and make our lives now a better experience. Um, if that makes sense.”

“I'm still a mess.” She says frankly.

“Nobody is perfect Meghan. And you don't need to be.” He smiles. “You aren't alone anymore.” Having seen her shy eye contact he carries on. The next question is potentially much more difficult. “Are there any other things about you that you think I can't handle knowing about?”

She shakes her head. “No... not really. I just... I get angry sometimes and I don't know why, or I get too hot or too cold and I need to change clothes because what I have on doesn't feel right, but you kind of knew that, right? I mean, you really still want...” She can't say the rest. To marry someone like me?

“Yeah I do.” There is no hesitation I his voice. “I want you more than anything, so stop asking me that.”

She reaches over, relief and gratitude making her feel full with too much happiness. “Okay.” Is all she's able to say.

He smiles, and rests his head gently against hers. “So you realize... we're in this together.”

She nods. She was right, this was worth everything. “Dustin?


“I love you too. More than I love anyone.” More than I love myself, she thinks idly.

He smiles and pulls her gently towards him, interlacing their fingers together as they kiss. “Marry me, then.”

That gentle voice again, but laden with assurance and confidence- she finds it so irresistible. He knows she's going to say yes this time, and every time after. He could ask her in fifty years and she would tell him yes, and he knows it already. When had she become so easy to read? But it's thrilling and she loves it. She never thought there'd be someone who would come to understand her in this way.

There's a feeling of simplicity here. They don't need parties, they don't need the world to know, it's enough that they have each other and it's enough that they know.

Shivering a little and wet from the rain and standing outside in one of the temperamental bursts of sunshine they decide to simply exchange promises. Mostly promises like 'forever' and 'no secrets'.

Forever is a long time, but they're sure they can make it.

Afterwards they go back to his project and just hang out for a while, enjoying the moment. “Let me drive this time.” Dustin says, idly tuning the radio, the only working part of this contraption.

And she does.

The day feels kind of like a date, even though they never went anywhere. It's all in who you're with.

They enjoy another simple pleasure and sit, eyes on the heavens. Scouring the skies for shifting anomalies is becoming a favorite activity that they can do whenever they like. Plus there's the added bonus of a reduced risk of skin cancer as the sun is on the other side of the world.

He liked how happy she was as a plant-sim, but honestly it's so much more exciting that Meghan's really back. “I hope you get to just be yourself for a while.” He admits.

“Yeah.” She says easily, but her voice trails off and he knows there's something on her mind. He sighs. That was way too fast- she's concerned about something else already.

“I'd like to try... to have kids actually.” She says squeezing his hand lightly.

“Uh- Kids?” He repeats, completely shocked.

“Yes, kids. The more than one we talked about back in college. We could sort of try here and there and if we have them early, we have them early. Is that okay? It's one less thing to worry about if I think about it that way. I do want them with you, people say younger is better, and even though I'm selfish and I want you all to myself for a while I don't mind if we just see what happens in the beginning. Is that ...a good idea?”

He still can't hide his shock. “I-I mean I love kids, but I sort of can't believe you just said that to me. Is this part of the list of things you were going to do if you ever got your health back? Get married, have some kids, join the circus?” He asks, his familiar, good-humored tenor carrying out into the night.

“Marry you, have your kids, and become the circus.” She corrects him. “I think you're right, we can handle it, and I sort of- I like the way you do things. You're casual and in the moment. So, if in some moment we happen to get pregnant and I have a child or two, I think we should let it happen.”

Finally they have agreement. Like the earlier deal they also seal this one with a kiss. They aren't taking it lightly- not really- but kids are one of the things they're also working hard for now, so it seems a natural progression to have this conversation.

Meghan does wonder if she should give up on gardening for a while. That much sun can't be good long term, and she wants to survive long enough to be able to have a kid in the first place. Funny how some of the worry creeps back in when he's asleep.

But at least she knows they love each other.

And they're finally together, till death... um these seems like some very literal dreams... and uh...

Right. There's always research and medication.

And Dustin. He's good for therapy too.

About this time Meghan finally hits her dream ghost over the head with a frying pan (probably literally too, but it is a dream and all) and drifts back off to sleep.

The next part of their lives progresses a little too easily, bills are paid on time, they sort of get to do whatever they want when they aren't working, Dustin makes the meals and Meghan opens up to him. It's almost too good to be real.

They buy some nicer things, which are all immediately upgraded.

Meghan works to get over her fear of the weather and decides on a worthwhile lifetime goal- to be in perfect mental and physical shape at all times. She's already kind of fit compared to other young women her age, but most of her plans are overly complex and the things that she works hard to break into through research will undoubtedly take a miraculous luck or decades of work to achieve. If she's able to be the healthiest possible sim despite her upbringing and scholastic challenges, it is a more than worthy goal to her.

Even in a nicer suit tips are important. This place will be hopping in a few more hours. Maybe break for lunch? Dustin's dream is still to be the absolute best at this. Lunch can wait.

Within the next two years they are able to expand, and Meghan will finally have the beginnings of her much desired laboratory. She insists that it be built below ground to better protect her research and intellectual property. Also that will keep the neighbors from asking too many questions. People are nosy here.

There's also some apparent bs glitch that makes any lot I build on look like a resort lot that was just given a well-reviewed recreational item. I have no idea. I've never seen this when I'm not a resort lot. But let's not be confused, no one other than Dustin and Meghan will be allowed down here, and there shall be no partying in the lab!

Not a bad start.

Walls in the main residence have been on the three year plan for about five years already. They'll get some one day.

Dustin hangs out with other people's kids at the park, since despite their casual attitude early on there are no baby Sparrows in the house, and none on the way. But kids are the best, and he's really starting to want one of his own. He resolves to talk to Meghan about it when he gets home tonight.

He's got to help this kid find his contact lens first.

When he gets there though, she's in a bit of a mood. “I am not cleaning this sink. I'm not doing it. It's not worth it, who knows what's on it?” She's mumbling to herself.

“I'll clean up.” He says easily, giving her a small kiss.

It's her turn but the relief on her face is worth it. “Thanks,” She breathes, as if the sink contains a gaggle of baby sharks, waiting to nibble her fingertips, unhindered by the presence of anti-bacterial soap.

Heh... baby sharks. Baby Meghans would be so much cuter. Damn, this is really on his mind a lot lately.

She looks him over once and smiles knowingly. “Something's on your mind. Is it that you made dinner and now you have to clean up too- I could try to make it up to you some other way-”

He hums and his mouth quirks up into a cheeky little grin. “I like the sound of that. But I wonder what I'd owe you if you knew what was really on my mind...”

“I always know exactly what's on your mind.” She murmurs back. “Your side of the bed of mine?”

He moves towards her carefully, letting his arms slide up her back, pulling her close. His warmth is so inviting. She thinks he's going to move in for a kiss, but he rests his forehead against hers for a few moments instead and confesses.

“I think I'd like to have children, really try for them.”

The look on her face is a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

He falters for a second. “Meghan?”

“I'm here. Uhm, and yes- let's try.”

“And you're sure? I know we still don't have a lot...”

“I knew you wanted them. And I think, if it's with you I'll be okay. It's not that I think I'll be a good mother, but I know I want to be better than my own mother was.” there's still some fear in her voice. “I think we're different and we can make it work.” Her eyes betray the depth of how much she wants her words to be true, but her voice quavers with wary disbelief. She's being brave for his sake, he thinks.

“Are you sure?” He has to get these things right. The feeling that she's fragile and still incredibly strong is always there, in moments like these. It awakens his most basic instinct of needing to protect her.

She nods. “I said yes to you Dustin, I know what it meant. I think we should try...”

Which they do, for months. Nothing feels any different. Maybe being a plant-sim did have a lasting effect. She's trying to be smarter than her emotions are though. If she's pregnant she'll worry about what to do, and if she's not pregnant she'll worry about what to do. She going to worry no matter the outcome, isn't there a way not to? Should she get tested, or fertility treatment or something? She didn't want quintuplets or something crazy.

Meanwhile, they build.

And study.

And enjoy their time together.


And that was a lot of pictures! :o  And not much entertainment, but Dustin's doing really well at his job, hence the name.

But it's been a while so I wanted to show a good progression of time. I used the risky woohoo for the first several game days which resulted in no pregnancies even though people say it had a high rate (10% doesn't seem like a lot, but I haven't really used woohooer for a long time or anything).

Sorry there's no babies yet, I wanted them to be less poor first because this is gen 1 and all. But there will be babies soon.

There's not a while lot of drama, and the story of Meghan not recognizing Dustin came about from the expressions he was making, but I didn't go into detail because it was literally for a moment or two that he made that face, and he had no negative moodlets or anything. I figured it was something she said or that he didn't want to talk about. 

Element in his glasses and top hat. My favorite thing ever.