Warnings: language, sexual situations, regret
“So you’ve been granted a seat on the council,” Lola said. “That’s no small feat.”
Johnny had been arranging the contents of his desk when she’d come in.The sort of busywork required to distract his wandering thoughts. He set that aside for the moment and turned to face her.
“It’s amazing the doors that will open for you when you have the right father," he said. "Don’t you think?”
Lola couldn't help but agree. It hadn’t exactly hurt her chances in landing the space pirate assignment. “Still,” she said, “it’s an achievement. And a good position to be in.”
Johnny smiled. “Between the two of us, we should be all set then.” He and his aunt had obviously grown from a common branch on the Curious family tree, at least where personality was concerned. They had the same sort of drive and ambition. He walked towards her, glancing over to the window and out at the alien skyline. “When do you head out?” he asked.
“Later this evening.”
“Oh.” That was much sooner than he’d expected, and this fact was written clearly across his face.
“I know,” she said. “Already. But there’s plenty of work to be done.” Lola walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder. “We likely won’t see much of each other for a while. You okay here?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Well, you know…”
“It’s hard,” she agreed.
Johnny’s gaze returned to the window. “Even the sky is different here.” In a way, he was glad for it. Nothing was the same. It should look the part.
“We’re doing the right thing,” Lola said. “They need us here. We can make a difference.”
Those were exactly the words that Johnny needed to hear. Making a difference. The Greater Good. All that virtuous, heroic llamashit he kept desperately trying to believe in. He needed to focus on that. To forget the other things. But those thoughts were always there. He couldn’t forget, no matter what he did. Still, he would try. He would go through the motions until he believed it. “I hope so,” he said.
She nodded, and her confident smile reassured him. “Never doubt it,” she said.
He walked Lola to the door. “Good luck out there,” he said.
“You too.” She placed her hand on his shoulder once more. “Give ‘em hell.”
Once Lola had gone, he returned to his desk.
Lola had been right. Getting on the council had been quite an achievement for him. He was by far the youngest council member and one of the few alien hybrid seats at the current time. Not nearly enough seats, he thought. That would have to change.
He would do his part. He’d do everything he could to see that they remained mindful of the sims and their concerns, their rights. He’d do his part for both sides, both aspects of who he was.
They’d build a new society.
He’d have children.
No, not children. He’d have offspring. Impersonal. Removed. That’s the only way he could bring himself to do it. Not a family. He’d never have a family. Not here.
He’d play his role in the new colony. He’d give it his all, as he always did.
And he’d do all of it alone. Surrounded by people, but alone.
Johnny opened the box on his desk.
The photographs had been one of the few things he’d taken with him in the small amount of luggage allowed on the spaceship. A sentimental act, and very much in opposition of his intention to leave the past behind. But he couldn’t help himself. He'd taken some family photos, some mementos, but mostly it was pictures of them. Almost all of the photos he owned were of them. Or photos of himself that they'd taken. Each one told a story. And the story told by them as a set was a very clear one.
So many memories.
He picked up one of the more recent ones, one of the last he’d had printed. Ripp had likely forgotten he’d taken this one. It had obviously been in an intimate moment. Had he intended it for him to see? Or had he not even considered that the camera had been Johnny’s? There they were, disheveled and flushed and now recorded for posterity.
He liked that one. Ophelia was beautiful in it. He could make out the outline of her tits through her shirt, likely tossed on for the sole purpose of this photograph. She wasn’t wearing a bra. It was a good photo. Ripp was of course shirtless. When Johnny had met him, he’d been as baby-faced as he was, but now he was carelessly hairy in a way that Johnny himself never would be. They looked out at him from the photo, both seeming perfectly happy. He liked that. He could imagine them together, happy.
He could imagine them.
Maybe he shouldn’t have taken this one with him, but he had. Would they have minded? He hadn’t asked, but it was obviously too late for that now.
And this one. Him lying on the bed, also topless. Had Ophelia taken it? Or had Ripp? The look on his face… He clearly loved the photographer, but he couldn’t for the life of him tell which of them it had been.
He examined the details of his expression. Love. Different kinds of love. Would they show up differently on your face? And how would he even know the difference?
It was all love. Not ever quite the same, but still love. The way he loved Ophelia and the way Ripp loved her. The way she loved them both, on their own and as a unit. The way he loved Ripp and the way Ripp loved him. Different kinds of love.
The love of all three.
Sometimes he placed the two photos together, overlapping.
Why hadn’t he gone for it? He had wanted to.
Well, he had, hadn’t he? It was something. Surely that counted for something. Did it need to be worthy of pornography to count?
In the dark, they’d both kissed her. They kissed her, one after the other. Lying together, all three. Their hands had touched her through her clothes. Under her clothes. They moved over her skin, across her torso. Meeting in the middle. There was a moment where they’d connected, and held their hands there for a moment. Kissing their girl. Holding hands. That was all.
In his mind the memory had grown into something entirely different, more visceral and more alive. Beyond his control. There was that memory of them in the cabin, that time he’d walked in and caught them in the act. Every little moment, all the potential there, and all of the photos. He’d pieced it together from what he had and made up the rest.
In the cabin, he replayed it as it might have been. How it gloriously, recklessly might have been.
Or fuck it, sometimes he chose a different setting altogether. Some garish rent-by-the-hour place, complete with a vibrating bed. Why not? Why not go all the way and make it festive? Like a celebration. It wasn’t dirty, in his mind. It was beautiful. Elegant. Exuberantly happy.
Okay, sometimes it was dirty. Really dirty. The things they did together in Johnny’s mind would have made even Ripp blush. Well maybe not, but he’d surely have approved. And why not? Where was the harm? How was it anything other than beautiful?
Why hadn’t he just gone for it?
It was a truth learned too late. He didn’t regret any of the things he’d done. Only the things he hadn’t.
Sometimes it was just him and Ophelia. On their own. His girl. She was still his girl. She was his, he was hers. In his heart. In his memories. Always.
He could have stayed. He could have kept her all for himself. He could have done a lot of things.
He could have gone for it.
Why hadn’t he?
He placed the photos back in the box.
He put his hand to his chest and reached his metaphorical fingers in to pull out his metaphorical heart. He placed that in the box too, where it would be safe. Then closed and locked it.
Forget the past, Johnny Smith. It’s over and gone.
But he couldn't.
He could never forget.
I've been working on chapter 40 for ages now and I've been making decent progress (it's going to be a fairly long one--maybe four parts?), but I was suddenly inspired to do this shorter half chapter and thought it might be a good way to get back into the swing of things. Since Johnny obviously won't factor into the action back on Sim Earth, I thought this would be a good opportunity to include him.
Anyway, thank you for your patience in waiting for an update. Part one of Chapter 40 should be ready before too long. You may have seen it already if you're on Tumblr, but I also posted this short snippet from Johnny's POV on the colony a while back. I think it makes sense to include it here too.
Thank you for reading. :) I'd love to hear from you! Comments are always appreciated.
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