Thursday, August 10, 2017

0.13 Peer Pressure

The makeshift family gathers outside the school for the end of year awards ceremony. Meghan was up all night rehearsing the speech she will give as chairwoman of the debate club. Lize is showing in her pregnancy and very glad to get out of the house for something other than work. Being a paramedic is especially challenging in her condition and she'll have to take time off soon. She doesn't get to see her husband often enough, and is pretending that this is a date.

Loki was at a separate ceremony and sees them on his way out. “Good luck with your speech,” He says to Andrea. “Call me afterwards, I found a couple more options for us.”

She nods, focused on what she's doing now and offers a small smile as she walks by. It's a low maintenance relationship so far.

“Dustin, you should really think about going with us. There are some great co-ed dorms, but with three of us we could just rent a house.”

Like I want to be intruding on your love nest. Dustin thinks disgustedly, not really wanting to talk now.

“At least attend some vocational program, learn how to build more things? Wasn't there a project you had in mind?” Loki reminds him.

Dustin nods imperceptibly. “Yeah I'm pricing them out now, but I wouldn't be able to work on something like that in college anyways.”

Loki shrugs. “Just go with technology man. That kind of degree would suit you really well and you'll have a lot of different options. We can talk about it after the party this week? I'm sure we can find you a scholarship too.”

“I'm not really interested in that Loki but thanks.” He hedges. He knows that Meghan will be getting a free ride to university for her accolades in genetic research relating to biology. The fact that she has half a dozen actual stars with her name on them didn't hurt her either.

“I'll bring the application paperwork.” His friend tells him, not one to take no for an answer. They separate. 

Dustin tries not to mutter impolite things under his breath. University with Loki and 'Andrea' was the last place he wanted to be, and he had run out of things to improve around Eugene's place so he was getting antsy. Maybe he'd buy a plot of land somewhere, and simply start building. He needed something to be accomplished when he felt this way, not to go off with friends playing an exaggerated version of 'house'.

The ceremonies went well, Meghan nailed her speech and they leave with their awards. Dustin is overcome with a feeling he can't explain and reaches for Meghan's hand, only to hold himself back at the last second.

She notices his hesitation and asks him what's wrong. He's just staring.

“Nothing,” He walks past her, inept as ever.

He was frustrating her so much right now. She feels an episode coming on and with great effort stamps it back. We're all under stress, she reminds herself  sternly.

She didn't realize how much he used to share with her until he didn't anymore. The sense of belonging they had was there but it was strained. Maybe a good kick in the teeth would open his mouth. Why was he being such a moody jackass lately?

She grabs his arm, not willing to let him get away with tiptoeing around her anymore. “Dustin. We need to talk, will you just look at me?”

He shrugged. What was the point of this anyways? It would kill him to have to watch the two of them together at university. Why was she so damn clueless about things?

It was actually pretty easy to get him to talk though. She manages to peg him with a snowball in the neck and he can't stay angry.

“That's for being a mopey jerk!” She says laughing. He's facing her now so that's good.

One look at each other and they're back to this. It's a roller-coaster in a way, but not horrible. Is he really so upset about the university thing?

“We can go together.” She tries to tell him. We're going over the details after our birthdays, come with us. I know Loki asked me, but we both agree it wouldn't be the same without you.”

“Meghan...” He says her voice cautiously as if it's precious. Because she is Drea at school and only Eugene's family calls her Meghan, her birth name is something special to them. It reminds her that they are family in a way.

He always manages to make her feel that she's important to him, even if he doesn't know he's doing that directly. She wonders if there's any way she can do the same thing for him.

“There are grant programs, scholarships- it wouldn't be a problem- we won't have to borrow a lot from Eugene and Lize. You wouldn't be a burden to us if you come along I hope you know that.” She doesn't want him to feel abandoned, but she doesn't want to be without him either. It's complicated now. Everything is.

Dustin smiles a little at the urgency in her voice. He knows she's truly excited about it, the future is all open doors and adventure. He's too practical to believe careless things about the future, or maybe she just knows she can make every one of her goals happen. She'll be fine without him, even if she doesn't believe that right now. He finds it obvious.

He chooses his next words carefully. “I think... you're a very smart person Meghan. You'll do very well there, a place that can satisfy your curiosities, hold your attention for more than three seconds... whether Loki and I go with you or not maybe University is a good fit for you. You'll be a field researcher like you dream about, not chained to a desk but to ideas. As for me... I'm not going to uni.”

Silence. She was waiting for him to explain.

His gray eyes searched her face for understanding, possibly even forgiveness. “I- I really like when I can make people happy, encourage them you know?” He began. “Think back to prom for example, why do you think we were voted prom king and queen? It's not because I can dance or I'm really smart. You're smart, and you won because you win over everyone the way the sun does when it bursts from the clouds after a week of rain. You make people feel energized and happy, so they voted for you. I think people find me amusing, simple as that. Did Loki tell you how I tried to intimidate him when he asked you to date him?”

She frowned; so no then.

He continued. “I wanted him to know that he wasn't allowed to do anything to hurt you- everything happened so quickly that I thought he was trying to take advantage or something – I know you're smart so I'm not saying he would have been successful if that was the case- and instead of responding how I expected after I seriously threatened him, he laughed at me assuming it was all just a joke.”

She didn't like where this conversation was going so far. “Dustin-”

“I'm not finished. It made me realize a few things. Number one, you and Eugene are the only people who take me seriously, ever. I naturally inspire people to laugh and I want to embrace that part of myself instead of trying to be who I'm not.' 

"Number two, you and I need time apart. You don't need me even if you think you do, and you'll be fine no matter what happens. I'm going to get a job at the theater after I graduate so I can learn to perform on stage. Maybe I'll try a few open mics or something like that. I'll work out here a bit and when I'm better, I'll make a name for myself in Starlight Shores. Once I'm able to support myself, I'll contact my family, let them know that I'm alright.”

Meghan just looked at him, shocked. So, graduation was going to mean they were saying goodbye?

He released her from what was a very long embrace that she realized they had still been holding. The silence that resulted hung heavily, that was when she noticed that everyone had gone home except for them. How long had they been standing out here in the cold like this?

She smiled wistfully, knowing he needed her to pretend that she was okay with this. “I think you'll be really good at that.” She says, biting back a multitude of arguments.

They get home and work on late homework. Leon wishes all classes were music class. Meghan is quieter than usual and Eugene for once doesn't meddle.

Instead of having dessert, Meghan decides to yell at this book.

It has apparently committed a heinous offense against sim kind. Popular theories for this outburst include that the book is refusing to provide the supportive recipes she needs at this stage in her life and also that the book is called 'Dustin' in some social circles.

The next day after school allowed time to process more and Meghan realized that she wasn't okay with any of this. She spent the entire ride on the way home from school attempting to change his mind and feeling panic set in as he refused to.

He was having to work hard to keep ignoring the imploring notes in her voice. Can't he just get a clean break, and leave this drama behind with his dignity intact? It hadn't been easy to tell her he wasn't going with them in the first place.

“I don't want to talk about this anymore.” He groans.

“It's not the end of the world, it's the next step, it's what we're supposed to be doing next. Why won't you come with us? You can get a degree that will help you in the entertainment industry even!”

“I seriously doubt that.”

“Then you can work on mechanical projects, which you love. If it's a free scholarship there's nothing for you to lose! Loki found some good ones yesterday, we're sure you can get in!”

“Come on Meghan we've been over this. And you have, uh, Loki to look out for you now.” He says, snapping her out of her reverie. “You don't need me to be there. You'll be fine.”

She studies his face. He's different now. He didn't look so angry before, or is depressed a better word for it? He was hard for her to read which was infuriating right now.

Is he worried about her again? That she was going to mess something up and he was going to have to fix it? No, that was her worry. But the way he looked... She wanted him to be proud of her, she had done everything right, gotten her life together, a life that she wanted him to be a part of, why couldn't he just go along with it and humor her for a few measly semesters?

But something deeply was wrong and graduating high school was starting to feel like the end of a golden age.

“We'll still be friends, right?” She asks him quietly, and he finally looks her in the eye. He doesn't respond.

She fidgeted, it was quickly becoming clear that Dustin was going to say something she didn't want to hear. She had gone through every scenario trying to find the one where he would agree. Eventually she fell silent, crestfallen, having nothing left to say.

He hated the way she had said that, so afraid. He reached up and moved a few strands of hair from out of her eyes, being careful not to actually touch her. He couldn't handle getting closer than this. “Why do you want me to go?” He asked, his own voice betraying a depth of emotion.

She froze: she didn't know what to say. It felt like there was something exact that he was looking for and she was scared she wouldn't be able to provide the right answer. She didn't want to be separated from him, what was she a child? She couldn't say that after working so hard.

“Please just come with us. Come with us, Dustin. It won't be the same without you- nothing will be right if we aren't together, don't you feel that way too?” All pretense is broken and she asks him earnestly. It moves him and makes him feel incredibly uncomfortable at the same time. He feels a crack, within the facade that he had created where he'd be fine without her, but he wasn't really the one she wanted to be with, right? Why drag me along!? He wants to scream.

He doesn't know how to respond, and knows he should just head upstairs to get ready for the party without saying anything at all. But everything he's told himself is starting to crumble. 

Childhood is the place where nobody ever leaves, no one dies, and nothing gets broken. 

If you love someone, you'll let them go.

It all sounds stupid in the face of this moment when he just can't let go and walk away from her. Not when she looks like this.

He sighs deeply, feeling self-hatred begin to well up. “Maybe if there is a good scholarship opportunity...” He mumbles, hedging his bet that he'll be able to back out later when he isn't facing this kind of pressure. He knows he won't refuse again.

She smiles, knowing that she's won. She won't have to decide anything for a while now. Crisis averted! If there's one thing Meghan cannot handle it's separation. It was going to be hard enough leaving Eugene, Lize and the kids behind after this. If Dustin came with them, things would work out, she knew they would.

But dammit, she looks so happy and relieved. This was torture. If Meghan wanted to jump off of a bridge with him, he'd probably do it. The thought should terrify him but it doesn't somehow. It would be so much quicker if she just took him to the top of a nice, tall bridge right now so he could find out.

He excuses himself to go upstairs and do whatever brave young men did when they wanted to cry but were unable to force it. He was not going to let himself hope for something to come of this. That stupid party was later tonight anyways. They shared a birthday, it was supposed to be fun.

All too soon, a bunch of people show up. Karl's younger sister Kristin shows up for no reason, not having been invited.

Loki's family is invited, his sisters and parents. Loki's younger sister Erin just aged up to teen and Dustin humors her with a dance. He leads, thank you very much.

Dustin goes first.

From the left; Dustin, Loki, Lynn's scalp, Kristin, some creeper who's name I've forgotten, Karl, Erin, Edvin's younger brother whats-his-face. 

Meghan's in front of course.

Nice pants Dustin. He's now a Natural Born Performer.

Lize, check your five! Yeowch, looks painful!

Yeah she didn't uhhh.... didn't check her five. I mean, her seven-thirty. Whatever. 

This old guy is someone's dad, Edvin's I think who we've never met before and also did not invite. But nobody cares because he brought freaking lobster!

Meghan ages up wearing whatever she feels like, as usual. Loki's dad seems unimpressed. She is now a Computer Whiz.

Eugene is excited to get part of the house back soon.

Kristin leaves without even having cake. She must have read Jennika's blog post about how to remove oneself graciously from a party. Classy like.

It can't be put off anymore, he thinks as he watches the dark liquid swirl in his cup. He has to seriously decide now. Is he going, is he not going? He feels resigned, he knows he's going to get dragged along to university.

It's college, it can't be that bad, he thinks. 

Also, coffee is crap. Why did adults drink this garbage?

Meghan gets him a gift. How thoughtful.

Except it's one of these.

He sighs dramatically and fills out the application.

Loki is so tiny now, compared to them. How adorable.

That cannot be my competition, Dustin thinks selfishly. He was going to try again, maybe come out on top for once. A lot could change in a few short semesters and he was not going to waste them. 

College was going to change everything.


Haha baby Loki compared to everyone else. That was a lazy ass party on my part. Just age up already! >:O

I love Dustin without his glasses actually. And sorry if the drama is too damn high (much like the rent in certain places) I couldn't write them another way with all the faces they constantly make at each other and the random arguments they kept having. Things will get better though soon. For some people (laughs in schadenfreude).

And I can't spoil anything and somewhat I don't even want to mention it, but I'm really glad the three of them met and became friends (especially after literally no one else ever worked out in the whole freaking town). It sort of feels like Dustin, Meghan and Loki vs the world right now which can't continue but I've been so inspired by their personalities even if things will change drastically in the future. That's all I can say about it now. Please pardon the vagueness of that.

Also a few more things; Starlilght Shores is where Gen 1 will take place, and I cannot stand university so I'm hoping they won't be there long. Probably a few posts though. Gen 1 officially starts next post, and Dustin rolled 'Magician' which I think suits him quite well!


    well some kinds, other coffees do taste like a dog literally shat in a cup
    sorry, I should probably watch my language, I'm just passionate about coffee and idek why

    Yoo, drama can never be too high, make it as dramatic as you want, it just makes things more fun ;) I'll talk about the chapter now lol

    ARGH! They were so close to kissing! The picture under Dustin mentioning the intimidation. Gah, so close. So, even though Loki's cool and everything, he and Meghan gonna break up soon, yeah? Get the childhood best friends together then *nods*

    Woo! Start of Gen 1! *throws confetti* it's cool how you did this little prelude, I liked it ^-^

    1. Yes I was drinking coffee while I wrote this, but he just looked so UNHAPPY with it haha.

      Thanks, I get really caught up in the interpersonal relationships and mindsets of characters when I write and it's hard to know if I go overboard with it, so I appreciate the feedback.

      Anyways yeah, I wonder at which point the rest of the family decided to leave them standing there? Probably pretty early, they're in their own little world. And Meghan is selfish, but in an innocent way.

      I want to say things so badly! ARHGHG....! I can confirm that Dustin and Meghan will get together soon, but I'll still be following Loki a bit and there's good reason for that.

  2. *I wrote this comment as I read the chapter, so sorry if it's a bit disjointed.*

    I love how you work the contents of the speech bubbles into your narrative. Some of them are so random, but you always do a great job of explaning them. ;)

    And looky at Dustin, being all mature and grown-up about things! He might be right in that he and Meghan needs some time apart - I think it'll do both of them some good. But I'll be really glad when they stop dancing around each other! They fit together so well. <3

    ...And apparently they're not gonna get that time apart. Dustin shouldn't go to uni if he doesn't want to. :( Also, I agree with Carrie. Blasphemy, Dustin! Coffee is *amazing*.

    Dustin without glasses...hmm. I can't decide which version I like more. He looks so mature without them, but somehow I feel like the glasses fit his character better? IDK, I'm just rambling right now. Drama is cool. Yay for aging up! Looking forward to seeing how their lives are gonna turn out in Starlight Shores. :)

  3. LOL I neglected to place this above...'Trigger warning: Insults to coffee'.

    I love that you wrote the comment that way. I usually half forget the things I wanted to say and the moment to say them passes and then don't comment because I forgot what I wanted to say haha.

    Yeah he was really mature there for half of a day. He was always mature for his age but I think Meghan pulls him back with her innocence, not that it's a bad thing exactly as he'd be pretty lonely without the perspective she brings about life being so exciting. That's also what makes her oblivious to social nuances, she's probably going to be secretly embarrassed about things she did when she's older.

    When he gets a top hat and still has the freaking glasses on I love it so much. I get the same weird thought that his eyes are smaller without them like what happens to people IRL because they belong on his face.

  4. D'awww poor Dustin. well, you snooze, you lose! But I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for Meghan to date someone else before settlign down with Dustin. ;)

    They look so nice as adults! And I'm so stoked for the magician roll! :D What did Meghan roll?? Or is that a surprise? ;)

    1. Honestly I think she'd take him for granted otherwise, having no experience with other people much and I agree. I wish club activities weren't just rabbit holes, I should buy her a podium for public speaking but I forget where you get that item in this game.

      She rolled freelance scientist, but if I had my way I'd make her a politician because I find her personality as the persuasive type. It's a shame to waste it, but it makes sense too that she's a more private person having been ostracized as a child.

      I'm horrible with surprises, it's obvious that these two are going to be together at this point. Then again I have a few plans I'm shutting up about, so we'll see.

      Oh yeah and they need to do something awesome, so that should be good.

    2. Ah I guess I read this chapter and the last one already! I thought since I hadn't commented on the last one I hadn't read it. XD It's a good thing I'm re-reading then! I have a mind like a sieve.

    3. That's funny- like you read from the bottom up or something. xD

      I've taken supplements for memory (like ginko biloba) but haven't had much luck. There's something about the way my mind works where I remember the most mundane things -like how to trick the new kuerig into allowing any brand of cup or that Jimmy Johns only delivers in less than five minutes because they don't deliver outside of five miles from their stores, but important things people names are hard to hold onto.

  5. I couldn't agree more with Dustin, I have no idea why people drink coffee! Energy drinks serve the same purpose, don't taste like garbage, and they even come in sugar-free! Well, they're not really healthy though I guess.

    And ohh magician, that's awesome! And Starlight Shores too, I haven't played there since forever.
    But why do you send them to university if you don't like it and neither of their careers benefits from it?

    1. I just take vitamin b supplements for energy, it's the same thing essentially. But coffee is a guilty pleasure of mine (depending on the brand, most things in cans are horrid and not an example of worthwhile blend). I just think he's being cynical uncharacteristically. Are you a tea person at all?

      Loki wanted to go haha. Because 'Andrea' loves having adventure, she decided to follow him there. I also couldn't see Loki wanting anything to do with Starlight Shores. He's not into that scene and I have to work out some things in their relationship before we can go to Starlight. So in short, I play the game spastically and chose prom on a whim, and now everything that happens after will be Loki's fault (uhm, not mine heh)

    2. Yep, definitely more of a tea person!
      It's always the sims' fault ;-) I don't dislike uni but I probably won't do it unless my heir's career profits from it, it can get a bit repetitive. I'm sure Meghan will have fun with the science machines there!

    3. Yeah I know I'll eventually get a roll that requires it and I'l probably really try to jazz up the uni world for it. I already remade three lots for this story and they were there for a week in game.

      Yerba Mate is awesome tea, the preferred drink of many South American countries, in case you haven't tried it yet. :3 It's a different bush than a tea bush and is awesome in the morning in place of coffee, and really good with any type of added citrus.

      Yeah part of mu motivation was to snag the science machine for her awesome ass bomb shelter I'm building. Damn, you're too smart.

  6. I'm so mad at Dustin for not confessing his feelings for Meghan after she said uni wouldn't be the same without him. She can't read your mind, dammit!

    Lol, it's good that I get so wrapped up in the story.

    I also think that Dustin should not be forced into uni if he really didn't want to go. And Meghan should be asking herself why Loki isn't enough for her.

    1. LOL I'm going to pretend that I know how to write a guy's perspective then because I think this about my husband all the time (I can't read his mind dammit XD)

      I think Meghan is a risk for him to try to date (emotionally), and he's kind of still reeling from all the back and forth because she's sending him so many mixed signals. He failed in trying to distance himself but that doesn't mean he's willing to risk everything in their relationship. He wouldn't have gone with them if she hadn't said 'things aren't right if we're not together' I don't think.

      And I'm really glad you like it! <3

      You're so completely correct. She's not really considering Loki in any of this, as if he's a wall fixture who is there to make her seem 'normal' lol poor idiot.