Warnings: language, sexual references, death
It is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love.
We all handle it in our own unique way.
But regardless of whether we embrace it or hold back, face it head-on or run from it kicking and screaming, that irrevocable moment comes for us all in time.
Whether we are granted the perfect opportunity or are left wanting, regretting, we all must eventually say goodbye.
Nervous Subject woke from his dreams, this time with the faint certainty that he would not dream that particular dream ever again.
It had happened.
It was over.
"Okay, sure. Thanks for letting me know. Yeah, I guess so. I'll try my best to make it."
"What was that all about?" asked Frances. Tank had come to expect him to appearing seemingly from thin air behind him after any phone call. He might have confronted Frances about his constant eavesdropping, but the whole process was more or less second nature to him now. It was easier than having to start up conversations on his own and it saved him from having to explain everything if Frances had already overheard half the conversation.
"That was Buck," he said. "He called to tell me that Jill's father died."
"That's the one."
"So you'll be attending the funeral?" Frances asked. That surprised him, given Tank's feelings about the alien species, but he also knew his relationship to the Smith family was much more complicated than that.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"I wouldn't have expected that."
"Really?" Beau cut in, also seeming to appear from nowhere. "That doesn't surprise me at all. His brothers will be going, so it makes sense to me for Tank to go. Yeah, you really should go to something like that when your brothers are like basically married into the family. Right, Tank?"
"Oh come on! Buck's been dating Jill for like FOREVER! Since they were babies, practically. And Ripp is Johnny's... what did you say they were again now? 'Bromantic life partners', perhaps?"
"I said I didn't even want to know whatever the fuck they were!" Tank roared. He instantly regretted telling Frances anything about that last conversation he'd had with Ripp.
"Or was it maybe more like 'polyamorous co-boyfriends'?"
"Or just 'boyfriends'." Frances offered.
"I said I don't want to fucking know!" Tank warned, a look of thinly-veiled rage and disgust on his face. "For fuck's sake!"
"Please forgive my gossip-monger of a boyfriend." Frances said, though Tank knew he was easily just as bad, if somewhat less vocal.
"Well gee, Tank. Glad to know you find us gross." Beau said.
"Hey, I never--"
"He's picking on you," Frances said. "Stop putting words in his mouth, Beau."
Tank gave an exasperated sigh. "Yeah, you know it's not that. It's just--"
"It's his brother, Beau."
"Oh, so it's okay when it's just his roommate..."
"Stop trying to point out people's hypocrisies. You know what he means."
"It's because it's my brother and him," Tank said, "and he's the world's biggest asshole."
"Gee, Tank. For someone who doesn't want to know, you seem to know an awful lot about the size of his asshole."
Frances shoved Beau forcefully on the shoulder and knocked him back head over feet into the couch. "My apologies, Tank. We were talking about a funeral, I believe."
"And you're really going to go?"
"I guess so. I'm not sure how welcome I'll be, but I feel like I probably should go. The Smiths... well, for all the animosity between our families, they were kind to me and my brothers after my father went missing. Even the old alien, though he had no love for my father, surely. But he said he hoped we'd be able to put the past behind us and move on, to forget old grievances."
"That was nice of him." Frances said.
"Yeah, but he was still an alien. And I don't trust them, maybe not even the rest of that family. I'm not sure I should let one cancel the other out, even if he seemed to be a decent enough... " The pause where he would have said "guy" hung for a few moments, as he was unsure of what to replace it with. "Anyway, Jenny was always nice to us. After Mom left, it was good to have someone act a little like a mother to us. I should probably go, for her sake."
"Would you like me to go with you?" Frances asked.
"You'd do that?"
"Yes, of course. I know how awkward these things can be. Would you feel more comfortable that way?"
"I'm sure Beau will go, too, if you like."
"Actually, I can't!" Beau blurted, still sprawled out on the couch behind them.
"Yeah, I have... stuff. Stuff I need to do."
"What 'stuff'?" Frances asked, suspiciously. "This is the first I've heard of you having anything else to do."
"It's okay," Tank said, eager to stop this squabble before it started. "You're supposed to be quiet at funerals anyhow, right?"
"Yeah, see? I'd just be in the way."
"If you say so." Frances thought it was all a little strange for Beau, who usually went out of his way to spend time with him, but decided to let it go for now.
"Plus someone should stay and watch Tits, right?" Beau said.
Tank sighed loudly at the mention of his newly acquired robot, while Frances quietly noted how this conflicted with Beau's previous story.
"Watching tits! Yeah, I'll bet you never thought you'd hear me say THAT." Beau burst into a flurry of fake laughter at his own joke.
Tank forced himself to ignore him and turned back to Frances. "The funeral's in a couple of days. Do you think you'll be free?"
"Yes, I'm finished with all my exams. And the graduation ceremony isn't until the end of the week."
"Oh, right. That thing."
"I'm not really one for such events, as I'm sure you know, but I'm looking forward to it all the same. Between switching majors and everything else, it feels like I've been in university forever."
"Yeah, it sorta does."
"It was really hard to see P.T. like that." Ripp said.
"It really was." Ophelia agreed.
"And Johnny didn't seem like himself at all when we were there."
"Well, can you blame him?"
"No, but it didn't make it any easier to see him that way."
"No, you're right. It didn't."
"Poor John. Now he's like us."
"Yes," she said, sitting next to him on the bed. "Like us." Both took a moment to reflect on that, their very similar yet separate losses. "But he still has Jenny, at least."
"Yeah, and he got to say goodbye."
She waited, holding her breath. It was like encountering an animal in the forest and being afraid to move because you might scare it off. Would he actually talk about it? He never had, not once, not even with her.
"I'm glad we went to see P.T.," Ripp continued. "To get some..."
"... closure." His voice cracked as his face twisted horribly into a mess of tears.
"Oh Ripp..." She reached for him, to hold him in her arms, but he resisted her. "It's okay. You can tell me about it."
He could barely choke the words out. "I didn't... get to... say I'm sorry."
"I'm sure he understood. It wasn't the end of the world to make a scene at dinner."
"No, not just that. Sorry... sorry for being... such a shitty son."
"It is! It's exactly how it was! Every single thing about me. Nothing was ever right. Not what he wanted..."
"You know that's not--"
"Don't say it. Please don't. Just... don't, okay?"
"Nothing you could possibly say will ever change the fact that I'll never have a chance to prove myself to him. His opinion of me will never change. That's it. That's all I'll ever fucking have."
Ophelia nodded, knowing that feeling at least in some sense. "I'm so sorry."
"He'll never love me."
"He didn't. At least he never said so. I mean, I loved him. I don't know why, but I still did. He was my father. He was a fucking asshole, and most of the time I hated him too but I did love him."
"I loved them," he said, "and I miss them so much." She reached for him again, and this time he didn't resist her. "I never got to say goodbye. To either of them."
"It's okay," she said. "I understand." And he knew that was true. "You once told me it was harder for me," she continued, "and in some ways it was, but seeing my parents there... after it had happened, and knowing... well, it is different. I've said my goodbyes, if not directly to them. I saw them lowered into the ground, and I placed flowers on their graves. That was closure. Not the sort that Johnny was able to have, but still closure. You had nothing. You're allowed to feel... whatever it is you need to feel."
She held him in silence until his tears gradually faded away. Her thoughts turned to Johnny's decision and how she needed to tell Ripp about it. It hardly seemed like the best time to throw that at him, but when would there ever be a good time? He needed to know. Wasn't it better to get it over with?
"Johnny's leaving," she said finally.
She hadn't thought his face could get any sadder, but somehow it did. It was terrible. But then the expression slowly faded, leaving behind nothing but blankness. "No he's not," he said with unnerving calm.
"He's not going to leave."
"They're not my Dad... NO!"
Beau woke with a start, just as he was crashing to the bedroom floor.
"Beau! Are you okay? You fell out of bed!"
"Yeah, I can see that. Ouch!"
"Are you hurt?"
"Nah, I think I'm okay..."
"Did you have a nightmare? You were crying out in your sleep."
"Yeah, but I'm fine. Just a bad dream. No big deal, Franny."
"Are you sure?"
"You said something about your father."
"Oh no! Then I guess you'd better break out your psychology textbooks and get to the bottom of this right away," he snarked.
"Don't be mean. I'm just trying to help."
"I know. It's fine, really it is."
"Was it all the talk of funerals today? You seemed a bit uncomfortable..."
"You're not going to let this go until you drive it right into the ground, are you?"
"It's okay if you are. A lot of sims are uncomfortable about the idea of death."
"I'm FINE, Frances."
"Okay. If you say so."
Beau stood up and dusted himself off, though they both knew that any dust he found on the floor in Frances's bedroom was purely figurative.
"Come here," Frances said, holding out his arms.
Beau climbed back into bed with him.
Jenny listened as Pascal gave the eulogy, recounting her husband's life; the good, some of the bad, the amusing, the heart-warming. An idealized portrait, no doubt, but still true for all that. Her brother had done a good job with it, as she had known he would, but there was so much more to this story. Things that he couldn't know, and the things that not even she knew. Nobody's life could be summed up so easily, in so few paragraphs, and Pollination Technician No. 9's life had been longer and more eventful than most.
She remembered when they had first met. She remembered their wedding day. The birth of their children. She remembered all the little moments, all the spaces in between. How could she go on living without him?
But she must, for her children's sake. For her family's sake. For everything her husband had worked for all his life.
Some sims bottomed out in the face of such a loss, but she knew she would get through this. She was buoyed up by all the good things in her life. His death had brought her lower than anything ever had before, but she knew she would not go under.
Afterwards, the funeral attendees came up to her to offer condolences, then mixed, mingled, and chatted about their own affairs, before slowly trickling away from the cemetery. Like that, it was over. Just one day, and time marched ever forward.
"It was nice of you to make it to the funeral," Vidcund said.
"What are neighbours for?" Circe replied. "I haven't seen much of you lately. How was your trip?"
"To Veronaville? Oh, it was good. Very good..."
"And how have your lectures at LFT been going?"
"Great! They've offered me a replacement position there for the next semester while the regular prof is off on maternity leave."
"That's exciting. You should drop by sometime to tell me all about it..."
"Hello, Nervous." Pascal said.
"Hi." Nervous mumbled, more to his shoes than anything.
"How are you feeling today?"
"Nice to see you out and about, though I wish it were under better circumstances."
"Yeah." Nervous glanced over in the direction of Circe.
"Yes, I know. She's here, but don't worry. There's nothing she can do while we're here."
"She can't touch me." He meant it literally, referring to the particulars of his deal with his father, but he didn't explain that to Pascal.
Nervous surveyed the cemetery and glanced back towards the fresh grave where P.T. had been buried. "I knew he was going to die," he said.
"Yes, we all did. Once he became sick with the virus, it was only a matter of time."
"No," Nervous said. "Before that. Long before that."
"What do you mean?"
"I... saw it. In a dream."
"You... saw it." Pascal could not hide his disbelief.
"Yes. My nightmares..." Nervous Subject's dark eyes stared directly into Pascal's. "They're always about death and they always come true."
"You had a dream that P.T. would die?"
"Yes. Every night."
Pascal considered this. "For how long?"
"For months. Nearly a year..."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I was afraid," he admitted. "And talking about them doesn't change them. They happen. It doesn't matter. They always happen eventually."
"So there have been other dreams like that?"
"I wonder what that could mean?"
"It means that I know when sims are going to die."
"But why would that be?"
"It's because of my father. Because he's my father."
"The one who comes for them."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, you know... As well as I can be."
"I'm so sorry."
"Thank you." He placed his hand on her shoulder. "When should we get started on our plan for..." He glanced over to where Circe stood. "... your friends?"
"As soon as you feel up to it."
"This might be a good time. It wouldn't be expected that we were involved, perhaps. After all this happening..."
"That's a good point."
"Lazlo..." Crystal had approached them while they were talking, but did not seem to have heard their conversation. "I'm very sorry for your loss." She embraced him.
"I'll give you some privacy," Erin said.
She walked over to where her old roommates were standing. Even Chloe seemed happy to see her that day.
"What were you two talking about?" Crystal asked.
"Oh nothing. I'm going to be helping her with moving some stuff."
"That's nice of you," she said. "So I shouldn't be jealous?"
"Only if you want to flatter me," he smiled.
"Will you be coming back to the apartment soon?" Buck asked.
"I'm not sure I'm ready yet," Jill admitted.
"No, of course not."
"Do you want to stay the night at our place?"
"Your Mom won't mind?"
"I don't see why she would."
"Is there enough room?"
"You can sleep with me, in my room."
"I don't know... that doesn't seem right to me." He knew that P.T. had liked him, but he couldn't help but feel awkward about it. And there was also Jenny to think of, who might not approve of them sharing a bed.
"I'm sure Mom won't mind. We can pretend you're sleeping on the couch if you want, just to be respectful. And it's just for tonight, then we can head back to the apartment tomorrow."
He moved his hands across the lettering on the gravestone, touching it one last time before standing up.
"Johnny..." Ripp stood behind him, arm in arm with Ophelia.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It would be so easy to turn and fall completely helplessly into their arms, especially now, but he had to remain firm to his decision. He was afraid to even look at them, because he knew he would weaken.
"Johnny." Ripp stepped closer, and placed his hand on Johnny's shoulder. He leaned into him, and Johnny felt that familiar and almost transfixing feeling wash over him. Ripp spoke softly, directly into his ear. "Please come home with us."
"Yes, you can," he said. "You really can." His voice was gentle, and seemed calmer, deeper, and more solemn than usual. It held more authority. In it, Johnny could hear a promise of the man that Ripp might one day become. Ripp the father, Ripp the husband... suddenly it wasn't hard for Johnny to imagine that at all.
"Please, John. We want you to come home."
With that, Johnny turned around.
The sight of them was enough to both mend his heart and break it all over again. Ophelia, so understanding and forgiving, and Ripp...
He thought once more about the many reasons to stay, but then there were the other more compelling reasons to leave. He would protect them by staying away. If he stayed, the danger that might find him would very likely touch them too, and if they didn't lose him now, they might lose him later to injury or even death. This way, at least, they would know he was out there somewhere. Wouldn't that be better?
And together, they would be happy. With him, who knew what would happen.
What choice did he really have?
"I've made my decision," he said, "and I need you to respect that."
"I DO respect that!" The old Ripp was back in an instant, more stubborn and childish than ever. "But John, you can't think for a minute that this is what you really want! How can you?!"
Gritting his teeth, Johnny said, "It's not always about what we want, Ripp. Sometimes it's about doing what's right. What we must do."
"But you don't have to do fucking anything. You don't owe that to anyone. I mean, I understand how you must feel now, with your father..."
"It's not just that. It won't be safe for me here. I'll be putting us all in danger if I stay."
"So what?! We don't care about the danger! If it comes down to that, we can deal with it together. Aren't we all in danger all the fucking time, anyway? Sims just die or disappear for no reason. Life is always fucking dangerous! I could walk out the door tomorrow and never come back--just vanish without a trace, just like that! I could get struck down by a goddamn satellite before I'm even finished this sentence!"
Johnny didn't respond to that, but his expression clearly showed that he wasn't convinced.
"And maybe WE could protect YOU from danger. Did you ever even fucking think about it like that?"
Again, Johnny stood firm.
"Do I need to BEG you?!" Ripp's voice cracked and rose sharp at the end, and that was all he could say.
"I hope it won't come to that."
"Ripp, it's okay," Ophelia said, as she placed her hands on him to calm him. She turned to Johnny. "You know we understand. You have to do what you have to do."
He reached out and held her face in his hands. "Thank you." Then Johnny leaned forward to kiss her, and lingered there for a moment before letting her go. "I'll think about you always. I love you."
"We love you too, Johnny," she said. "Goodbye. Goodbye and good luck."
Ripp didn't say goodbye. He couldn't.
Johnny placed his hand on Ripp's shoulder, and gave it a squeeze. Ripp still did not react.
Then he turned to leave.
But Ripp wasn't content with that. Not at all. He watched him go, but still he refused to accept it as the last time.
Continue to part two...
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