Monday, October 29, 2012

Overlord Legacy - Chapter Thirty-One - Pappy's Test

Rolling over in bed, Gator checks his phone sitting on the end table. A text message from his mother - she just bought a piano and she'd like his help moving it this morning. Gator sighs. He knows he's really the only one she can call to help her - his father is now old and his brother Waylon's practically been disowned for getting into a relationship with their vampire enemy Emelie Van Gould.

Gator glances over at Amaranth as he gently gets out of bed so as not to wake her. Before he leaves the room, he gently kisses her.

He wonders how quickly he'd get disowned if his mother knew he'd been in bed with an Overlord.

Before he leaves to assist his mother, however, Gator decides to say goodbye to someone who, judging by the wailing, is most definitely awake.
Gator: "Oh, listen to you, crying and trying to get your mother woken up. You know how hard she works for you, Soren? You've got a good mommy."
Soren: "Mama."
Gator: "So you gotta treat your mama really nice, 'kay, Soren? Gator has to leave and go help HIS mama, so I expect you to watch over your mama like a big boy while I'm gone."
Soren: "Mama n' Dader mwah!"

Gator grins as Soren plants a sloppy kiss right on his jaw.
 Gator: "C'mere, you little goof!"
Soren: "Weeeee!"
Gator: "You think you can surprise-kiss me? Just wait till you get a little older, kid, when I teach you how to wrestle like a wolf."
Soren: "Dader woof!"

Gator briefly holds Soren close to him for a moment. There's so much more he wishes he could do. He can't imagine how much Amaranth must struggle being a single mom. Yet he knows there's only so much he can do to help. His parents don't approve of even his friendship with Amaranth Overlord. He's afraid that if they knew he's now in a secret relationship with her, he'd break their hearts. It's hard enough on them that they lost Waylon.
Soren: "Dader daddy?"
Gator: "....sigh. No, Soren, I'm not daddy. I....I wish I could be. I'll do all I can for you, Soren."

Soren responds by stuffing a fistful of Gator's hair into his mouth. He quickly discovers that hair doesn't feel that great on the tongue and disgustedly pulls it back out. Grimacing, Gator pats down his hair and tries to wipe the baby spit off.

Knowing he has to get back home, Gator sets Soren down next to his toy dragon. He starts to walk away when Soren screeches, "No!! Dader mwah!!"

With a small smile, Gator bends back down and softly kisses Soren on the head.
With Soren satisfied, Gator is free to leave. There's an uneasy feeling in his stomach, however. How will he ever be able to tell his family that he's in love with Amaranth Overlord? And if he can't find the courage to tell them, how will he ever be able to tell Amaranth that they can't be publicly together in a relationship?


There's one last person Amaranth knows is essential to meet Soren, someone whom she hasn't seen in a little while and misses like crazy.
Amaranth: "Dad! How are you?"
Jakkson: "Well...lots of things in life happening, all pretty unexpectedly. But it's wonderful to see you again."
Amaranth: "Same here. And there's someone I'd like you to meet!"
Jakkson: "Ah, yes. I've heard much about him from Phantom!"
Amaranth: "Here he is, the one and only. Soren, this is Grandpa."
Soren: ".....Woof?"
Jakkson: "Hmm. He's pretty observant."
Amaranth: "Well, he...kinda knows where a werewolf looks like anyway."
Jakkson: "Does he?"

Amaranth isn't sure whether to spill it or not. She's certain she's in love with Gator...but it really wasn't too long ago when she was in love with Zack. Will her father think she's childish for moving on to another relationship so fast? But...she's known Gator for a long time, and she definitely set aside the time to think before telling him she loved him.
 Amaranth: " remember my friend from high school?"
Jakkson: "...Oh, the one with the really long hair? His name was, like, Alligator or something like that."
Amaranth: "Yeah, Gator. He's a werewolf, and, well, he and I are....well, we're...."
Jakkson: "Together?"
Amaranth: "Yeah, I guess you could say that. We haven't told anyone that it's official yet, but...we're in love. Soren's met him, so he knows a werewolf when he sees one."

Amaranth wonders about how her father will react, but he simply smiles and nods. He doesn't seem too perturbed by it. Amaranth inwardly breathes a sigh of relief. Sometimes her dad can be awkward, but at least he doesn't really freak out about anything she has to tell him.

Meanwhile, Amaranth knows she has some catching up to do with her dad's life too. She knows he and her mother are not together any longer. They still live in the same house, but Midnight is often out with a bunch of other guys. Amaranth had heard her dad found someone else too, but hasn't heard much else. She decides to ask him about it (after Soren starts whining and Amaranth places him down so he can play in the sand).
Jakkson: "Well...there's going to be a...a whole lot of transitions going on in my life pretty soon."
Amaranth: "Transitions like...?"
Jakkson: "...Honey, you're going to hate me."
Amaranth: "I'm not going to hate you, dad."
Jakkson: "No, seriously, I think you're going to hate me."
Amaranth: "Dad. Oliver married Zack's mom and I don't hate him. Whoever you're seeing, I'm not going to hate you."
Jakkson: "Well, we're...not seeing each other anymore. I...tried to make things work out, but we had another big fight this morning and she left for good."
Amaranth: "Oh....I'm sorry. Who was it, at least?"
Jakkson: "Um...Zoe Durwood."
Amaranth: "Zoe--...Zoe Durwood?! Zack's sister?"
Jakkson: "I told you you'd hate me."
Amaranth: "But...why? Dad, she's Zack's twin! Isn't she a little young for you?"
Jakkson: "Technically she's not that much younger than me. Werewolves age differently."

And suddenly Amaranth realizes where she gets her hopeless romantic side from. And she realizes how much of a scam the stupid Durwoods are and how much they've wrecked her whole family. First Zack with her, now Zoe with her dad. At least Serena and Oliver get along.

Amaranth: "...Well, that's a bit unexpected. said you had transitions to go through? Have you found someone else?"
Jakkson: "Eh, no...I,'re going to have a half-sibling pretty soon."
Amaranth: "A Did you.....?"
Jakkson: "Sigh. Yeah, she's pregnant. We used protection too. I don't know..."
Amaranth: "...I'm definitely your daughter."
Jakkson: "And I'm definitely your dad. Looks like we'll be sharing the same boat for a while."
Amaranth: "Are you going to be taking care of the child?"
Jakkson: "Depends on what the court rules. I think Zoe wants complete custody and only wants me to pay child support. Which sucks."
Amaranth: "Well. That's the opposite of Zack."
Jakkson: "Different sorts of selfishness, I guess."

After a bit longer of a chat with her father, Amaranth decides she might as well take advantage of career-raising opportunities and decides to do a little stakeout at the beach.
Jakkson: "Amaranth? What are you doing?"
Amaranth: "...? You're not supposed to be able to see me behind these bushes. They're magic bushes. I catch criminals all the time hiding behind these things."
Jakkson: "Oh....interesting technique."
Amaranth: "Hey, while I'm here, can you watch over your grandson for a few?"
Jakkson: "Of course. C'mere, little rabbit."
Jakkson: "You look just like your mother, Soren."
Soren: "Gappa Woof!"
Jakkson: "Yeah, Grandpa Wolf...grandpa...geez, that makes me sound so much older than I actually feel."
Soren: "Dader Woof."
Jakkson: "Dader?"
Soren: "Dader n' mama mwah!"
Jakkson: "...I still have no idea what you're saying. But hey, I can play something for you on guitar if you want. I brought it with me."
Soren: "Ditar!"
Soren: "Yay!"
Amaranth: "That's a print on your guitar, dad."
Jakkson: "It's your mother's. She let me borrow it."

Nothing turns up at the stakeout. Jakkson thoroughly entertains Soren (who happens to be a Virtuoso and thus pays attention pretty well) until Amaranth is over, at which point Jakkson hugs her goodbye and heads back home. Amaranth decides to take advantage of Soren's good mood and start teaching him to walk.
 Amaranth: "Alright, Soren, come to mama....come to mama..."

Soren reaches mama, and as soon as Amaranth begins to straighten back up, nausea hits her like a train.
She freezes, trying to take deep breaths and pray the sudden queasiness will pass. Unfortunately it doesn't. She can feel the vomit rising back up through her throat. She swallows it back down, trying to keep her hands from trembling as she holds onto Soren's tiny hands. Then the vomit lurches again, and Amaranth knows if she doesn't get to a toilet now, she is going to throw up all over her poor toddler son. Immediately she turns around, accidentally kicking Soren's legs out from under him as she runs. Soren hits the ground and starts screaming immediately while Amaranth throws the bathroom door opens and heads for a stall.
Amaranth hurls into the toilet, disgusted at herself. What is going on? With the nausea she feels the old familiar heartburn. She's felt this before. And there was a specific reason she felt this too. Can it be...? Not so soon. Certainly not so soon.

Amaranth whimpers a silent prayer to the Sim Deity. She can barely handle one. What will she ever do with two?

Back at the castle, Amaranth resumes training Soren to walk. The Sim Deity has to stop her in the middle of it. Amaranth closes her eyes and swallows. She knows what she's going to hear.
Amaranth, my dear.
Amaranth: "....Yes, Sim Deity?"
You are once again the carrier of life. There's another little Overlord in your womb.
Amaranth: "....Sigh. Sim Deity, how fertile am I? Am I ever going to be able to have sex without getting pregnant?"
I cannot reveal such things to you, Amaranth. I'm sorry.
Soren: "Dagon!"
Amaranth: "No, Soren, we still have walking to do."
It just takes a few more steps. Amaranth steps all the way across the room, watching her son from a distance. Frightened for a moment, Soren begins to whimper. But with the beckons of, "Come on, Soren, I know you can do it!", Soren begins to teeter and totter.
Much to Amaranth's (and Soren's) delight, he makes it all the way across the room without falling. Amaranth beams at him. Soren excitedly smiles back.
Amaranth: "You did it, Soren! You did it!"
Soren: "I walk!"


After calling a babysitter, Amaranth heads out for a case she received. Apparently Pappy Wolff is missing a very important book - in fact, he's convinced someone stole it. Amaranth knows to give him utmost respect. He's one of the founders of the town...not to mention Gator's grandfather.

After looking around for a while, Amaranth finally finds Pappy.
Pappy: "Run, Bessie, you ol' truck! Heh heh heh! Can't catch me, coppers!"
Amaranth: "Um...Mr. Wolff? You know you're not going anywhere, right?"
Pappy: "Meh...'course the engine had to conk today. It's much more fun to pretend it can actually RUN. Phooey."

Slowly Pappy stumbles out of the truck and walks over to the sidewalk, where Amaranth meets him. Swallowing, Amaranth straightens up and tries to give him a good impression. She's never actually met Pappy before.
Amaranth: "Mr. Wolff, you called me about a missing book?"
Pappy: "Mr. Wolff? Who's Mr. Wolff?"
Amaranth: "...You?"
Pappy: "Mr. Wolff's my son, young lady. My name is Pappy."
Amaranth: "I'm sorry, uh...Pappy. So, anyway, about your book--"
Pappy: "Absent-minded little lass, aren't ya? You haven't even introduced yourself."
Amaranth: "Oh, I-I'm sorry, sir."
Pappy: "Sir? Who's Sir?"
Amaranth: "Pappy. I apologize."

Amaranth feels like an utter fool for about three seconds. Then Pappy gives her a smirk and she realizes he's just been playing with her the entire time. Amaranth smiles back, relaxing a little bit.

Amaranth: "I'm Detective Overlord, and I'm here to take your case."
Pappy: "Detective Overlord, eh? Quite a name. Never met you, but I hear from my grandson that you're quite the sweet young lady. Friends with Gator, aren't you?"
Amaranth: "Oh...y-yes. Gator and I have been friends since high school."
Pappy: "Yes, yes. Now then. You gonna find my book or what?"
Amaranth: "Oh, yes, of course. Where do you think you might have set it, or where was it stolen?"
Pappy: "It was taken from me in the gym. Here, young lady, follow me."
Suddenly Pappy takes off in his werewolf run, causing Amaranth to sprint to keep up with him. It surprises Amaranth - she'd thought he was unsteady on his feet and a bit frail. Yet here he is bounding along like an alpha wolf. She's impressed...yet a little saddened when Pappy reaches the gym and has to kneel over for a moment or two, wheezing and coughing.
Pappy: "...Can't do that as well as I could when I was younger."

Amaranth decides to ask some people around the gym if they might have seen Pappy's book. Nobody seems to know where it could've gone, not even the "Oliver's Day of Rage" woman.
Amaranth: "Excuse me, ma'am. Have you seen a book entitled 'Dances with Werewolves'?"
Oliver's Day of Rage woman: "Why, no, darling, I haven't seen it. It does sound perfectly delightful. Although I rather prefer vampires myself! There was a stylist vampire not too long ago who applied my makeup and oh, he just made me radiant. I'd never would've known how to style my makeup without him!"

After getting no clues, Pappy tells her that he's heard someone took it to the library. Perhaps she could snoop around the library and see if she can't find it? So off to the library Amaranth goes, searching every crack for the book. It takes hours of searching before she finally discovers it outside on the ground.
Amaranth: "....There it is! Oh goodness, 'Dances with Werewolves,' am I ever glad to see you."

Hastily Amaranth returns the book to Pappy. Pappy smiles at her as he receives the book, but has another demand.
 Amaranth: "So if that's everything..."
Pappy: "Oh, no, it most certainly is not everything! Someone stole that book and I want you to find them. I want to know who's the rascal who stole my book."
Amaranth: "...Alright. I'll conduct a stakeout at the library and see if anybody returns for it."
For another two hours, Amaranth stakes out the library, coming to absolutely no conclusions. In fact, with the talk she's been hearing inside the library, it sounds like Pappy actually came to the library and placed the book on the ground himself! Nobody "stole" his book. This whole thing had been a ruse. A little frustrated, Amaranth returns to Pappy, who's now entered the tavern.
Amaranth: "Pappy...did you drop the book at the library? People are talking and saying the whole thing was your doing. Nobody stole your book..."

Pappy stares at her for a moment, then smiles gently.
Pappy: "Yes, lassie, it was a test."
Amaranth: "A test? You were trying to test my abilities?"
Pappy: "Not quite....I wanted to see your character. Heck, I know I've been a pain tonight. Gave you no information, badgered you into finding my book which I'd placed at the library myself, then when you thought the case was over, I sent you right back out to look for book thieves which didn't exist. Wanted to see how well you'd respond. You were gracious, young lady, and you did your best. You didn't grumble even at the inconvenience. Quite admirable."
Amaranth: "Oh...thank you. Just doing my job."
Pappy: "...Dwayne and Erika may not suspect it, but I know. I've listened to my grandson and I know how he feels about you."
Amaranth blushes.
Pappy: "...I don't like your last name, young lady. Don't know if I like your family's legacy, and I'm an old badger and I'm not afraid to say that right to your face. But...I like you. I just had to be sure that my grandson was picking a good one...and he has."
Amaranth: "....Thank you, there anything else you need?"
Pappy: "Nah, I'm not going to pester you any more tonight. Thank you for passing the test, Detective Overlord. Should call you Amaranth, really. That's what Gator calls you."

Amaranth smiles, says goodnight, and calmly walks away. Secretly, though, fireworks are exploding in her heart. Gator's grandfather approves of her! She can't wait to tell Gator.

Pappy, meanwhile, wanders around the tavern aimlessly, deep in thought. It'd been a tragedy when his grandson Waylon left the family to pursue the Van Gould girl, and Pappy had been frightened that Gator was charging into a similar tragedy. But Amaranth...he'd thought wrong about her. Quite the lovely young lady. He's comfortable with the thought of his grandson being in love with her.

Taking a deep breath, Pappy releases it in a long sigh. He closes his eyes and whispers.
Pappy: "Well, Mr. Reaper...I know you've been waiting for me. I apologize for fighting so hard. I just...had to know. I had to know Gator was making the right choice. I can go to the netherworld in peace now."
Grim Reaper: "You've made good use of the extra time I've given you. It's time to make the passage across the Styx now, Pappy Wolff."
Pappy: "I know...I'm ready. It'll be good to see my wife again..."
The owner of the tavern is the one who must call the Wolff family and inform them of their loss. Stone-faced Erika cannot contain herself and breaks into heartwreching sobs. Dwayne, though equally crushed in spirit, places his arm around her and tries to comfort her, but cannot stop the tears from flowing himself. They knew deep down inside that Pappy's time was coming. Yet they still can't quite imagine life without him.

Gator doesn't need to be told. He returns from work to find the state of his parents, and he knows. Locking himself in his bedroom, Gator lies down on his bed and thinks about his last conversation with his Pappy. It was just a couple of days ago. Gator had told him about Amaranth and, though he hadn't stated it outright, he'd hinted about his feelings for her.

Gator sighs, letting the tears flow as they finally come. If Pappy had truly met Amaranth, he knows he would've liked her. He just wishes Pappy had the chance before he died.


Amaranth is unaware of the news. She's hurrying back home to barely make it in time for her son's birthday.
Soren: "Birday!"
Those old magic sparkles swirl around and Soren reaches childhood, gaining the Frugal trait to add onto his Virtuoso and Good traits. Looks like he'll turn out to be a responsible young man.
There is absolutely no doubt that he is Amaranth's son. Amaranth looks into his face and smiles. Soren smiles back.
Amaranth: "Do you know how much you look like me when I was a child?"
Soren: "Do I?"
Amaranth: "Here, the picture's on the dresser over here."
Soren: "...Wow!"
Amaranth: "Told you."
Soren: "...Hey, mom, what did my dad look like?"

Amaranth freezes. Soren doesn't know anything about his father. With the exception of a few minutes at his birth, he's never met Zack. And Amaranth intends to keep it that way. If Soren wants to find his father, he can do so as a teenager when he's making some decisions for himself.

Amaranth: "...Your father was...rather handsome. But we can't think about that now. It's past your bedtime."
Soren: "But mom!"
Amaranth: "Goodnight, Soren."
Soren: "....Goodnight, mom."

Author's notes: Soren is basically just a clone of Amaranth in male form. I can't BELIEVE how much he looks like her. He basically inherited absolutely no physical characteristics from his father. Which, considering how much of a doofus Zack is, I'm okay with.

Oh, PI career. Just threw that golden story with Pappy right in my lap. I had to do something with it. Really didn't expect him to die right after Amaranth left though. I feel like next chapter is going to be very sad...both Serena (Oliver's wife) and Midnight are basically in their final days. I hate that. I still miss Rufus a ton, and pretty soon I'm going to be missing Midnight too.

And yes, StoryProgression is throwing a hoedown and dragging me into it, causing a bunch of chaos and craziness and "yeehaw, watch this!" I cringed when I saw Jakkson get together with Zoe Durwood. They broke up after approximately two days. Then I get the notice, "They're keeping it hush hush, but Jakkson and Zoe are shopping for baby clothes." WHAT?! Thank you, SP. Just thank you. Taint my Overlord line with Durwoods. That's just dandy.

Finally, a blooper. Amaranth was riding with Soren back home in the taxi, when apparently the homicidal taxi driver hit the "eject" button and sent Soren, well, soarin'.

Thanks to ResetSim, no toddlers were hurt in the making of this screenshot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Overlord Legacy - Chapter Thirty - Visits and Pleasantries

Being the mother of a toddler is so much harder than Amaranth ever could have imagined. When she's not working as a detective and putting effort into her legacy ambitions, she has a thousand other chores to do around the house.
Laundry needs to be done at the most inconvenient time. Fortunately she doesn't have to do it often - there's only her and Soren in the house at the moment - but it's still one more strain to her day.
It amazes her how such a little boy can produce something that smells so entirely bad. Emptying Soren's potty chair is Amaranth's least favorite chore. Sometimes she can't grab the bag without her fingers touching the awful smears of excrement. Sometimes she swears it takes effort not to throw up inside the potty chair.

Of course, that's only half the work. The other half is getting Soren to even sit on the thing.
Amaranth: "Soren? Where are you, Soren? It's happy potty chair time!....Soren, come on, where are you?"

After finally finding him (he seems to hide somewhere else every time), Amaranth has to literally wrestle him onto the chair, desperately trying to pull off his bunny onesie without catching him with the zipper.
Amaranth: "Okay...stay there...and poop....just sit there....and poop...."

Soren always strains and grunts, then passes his lovely bowel movements into the chair. Amaranth sighs, wondering why it always has to be a struggle when the actual act of using the potty chair is so easy. Finally quiet, Soren gazes up at his mother, giving a small smile when he's finished. Relieved, Amaranth smiles back. Maybe he's finally getting the hang of it...
...and then the wailing starts. Amaranth can't see any comprehensible reason why Soren would be so upset after successfully using the potty chair and getting zipped back up into his snuggly onesie. Yet here he is, crying like she's the worst mother in the world. Sometimes the tears and screams get to her, and it's hard not to believe she's the worst mother in the world. Amaranth bends down to pick Soren up, but he screams even louder and swings his arms to hit her.

Amaranth has to step away for a moment. She has to step away or surely she'll do something she'll immensely regret in her anger.
Soren cries after her, "Mama! Mama!!" But Amaranth can't come back. Not just yet. Leaving the door propped slightly open, Amaranth goes into the laundry room and lets herself cry. She doesn't understand it. She's heard so many stories of babies being cute, gurgly, playful little things that smile and coo and laugh. Is her situation unusual? Is Soren supposed to cry this much? Isn't there anything she can do to make him feel better? What is she doing wrong?

As she cries, she hears the door being jiggled and then pushed close. Evidently Soren tried to get to her, but accidentally shut the door instead of being able to open it. She hears him cry even harder on the other side, pressed against the door. Putting her back against the wall and sliding to the floor, Amaranth bawls into her hands. Why does she have to care for a difficult child? And worse, why must she do it alone? She feels so helpless to do anything right for her child.

Why? Just why?


The next morning is just like any other morning. Amaranth wakes up to Soren's screaming, tiredly giving him his bottle and waiting until he starts wailing again. She's too exhausted to go to work today, but she does not want to stay home alone with Soren all day. She loves her son deeply, but sometimes it's so emotionally draining to try and handle him herself. She decides it's time to do some visits. Her family hasn't seen Soren yet. They'll be happy to meet him.
Uncle Oliver's house is first on the list. She can only stay for a brief time, knowing Oliver has to meet up with a client in about an hour. She doesn't even get past the gate before Soren starts crying in the stroller. Amaranth closes her eyes and says a small prayer. Please don't let him be like this the whole time...
Oliver: " he shy?"
Amaranth: "Don't think so. He just likes to cry. A lot."
Soren: "Sniff sniff..."
Amaranth: "Look, Soren, this is Uncle Oliver! He took care of me when I was just a little one like you. I called him Toof. Can you say Toof?"
Soren: "...No!"
Oliver: "Ha! At least he's opinionated. Please do come inside, Amaranth. I seem to recall you don't like the outdoors."
Amaranth: "I don't like sharing my environment with bugs and dirt."

Once inside, Amaranth gently sets Soren down, as he's stopped his crying for the moment. Then she gives Oliver a proper hug. She's missed him a lot.
Oliver: "How have you been, Amaranth? You look tired."
Amaranth: "...I am tired, Oliver. I love Soren so much, but....oh Oliver, he's so much work. He cries constantly, throwing tantrums all day long, and I don't know how much longer I can handle this. How am I supposed to concentrate on influencing the citizens of Moonlight Falls and furthering my family's domination plans if I can't even get myself together when it's just me and Soren?"
Oliver: "Parenting isn't an easy job, Amaranth. You're doing an excellent job of it, but it's not easy. You're even stronger than most. When you were a baby, I had Jakkson - your father, rather - and Phantom to help. You're doing this by yourself."
Amaranth: "Why did Zack have to be such a jerk?"
Oliver: "...I take it the break-up was bad?"

Amaranth realizes she hasn't let Oliver in on the details of her break-up. She almost doesn't want to burden him with such a stupid story, but she decides to talk to him about it anyway. Oliver quietly listens to her, sympathizing with her story. By the end, Amaranth is glad she told him. Oliver's always so easy to talk to.

For the remainder of their time together, Amaranth decides to enjoy the simple pleasures of just sitting on the couch and watching TV. The Overlords have never owned a TV (or a computer, for that matter). She wonders if she shouldn't get one soon. Just sitting down and zoning out for a little while is so relaxing. Oliver sits down to watch with her, and soon even Soren is intrigued and joins them.
Amaranth: "So...I take it you aren't married to Serena yet?"
Oliver: "...Sigh. We are married, Am."
Amaranth: "Oh. Is she at work then?"
Oliver: "She's very particular about housing. She doesn't want to live here, but we can't find a suitable house that we can afford, so...we're living separately right now."
Amaranth: "But...that's terrible."
Oliver: "It is. I hate it. She has bad feelings about this house, but I can't fit in her current house - she has two roommates and she doesn't want to kick either of them out. She just really wants a new house. I check for houses around town and in the real estate ads all the time, but I just can't find anything."
Amaranth: "...I wish I could give you the castle and move into a smaller house. But the market's terrible right now. There's not a lot of available housing, for as big as the town is."
Oliver: "You're telling me. I just fear that by the time a house becomes'll be too late."
Amaranth: "...Are you going to turn her?"
Oliver: "I don't think I can, Amaranth. I've lived so long and it's....I don't know. I often wish I just had the normal life of a human. I don't think I could subject her to vampirism."
Amaranth: "...I see."

Soon Oliver has to excuse himself to go see his client, so Amaranth decides it's time to let Soren visit another uncle. She really can't wait. She hasn't seen her "cousin" yet.
Amaranth: "Phantom! I'm so happy to see you!"
Phantom: "I'm so glad you came! It's not a castle, but it does okay. I wish Delia would let me shoot paintballs around the house though. The walls are so drab."
Amaranth: "Oh Phantom. By the way, where is Delia? I haven't seen her around."
Phantom: "Ah, she has work at the bistro, you know. Hopefully she comes back with food tonight. We had lobster thermometer last night."
Amaranth: "Therm....oh, you mean lobster thermidor?"
Phantom: "It was a lobster and it had stuff on it and it was great."
Soren stares curiously that the winged creature sitting beside him. It's about his size, with longer hair. What in the world is it?

Amaranth picks up Phantom's daughter, Eva, and has some fun with her.
Amaranth: "Look at you! Aren't you just the prettiest little fairy? You've definitely got your daddy's wings and his eyes."

Phantom likewise plays with his little nephew.
Phantom: "Are bunny rabbits ticklish?"
Soren: "...Mama?"
Phantom: "No, you're a bunny rabbit, not a mama."
Soren: "Mama?"
Phantom: "...Oh, you mean me? No, I'm a Pixie."
Soren: "Bizzie?"
Phantom: "You're definitely Amaranth's son. Do you tickle as well as she did?"
Soren: "Ahhh ha ha ha ha ha!"
Phantom: "I can't wait until you get older. All the pranks I can play on you."
Soren: "Banks?"
Phantom: "No, I can't play tricks on a bank. I tried that once and Mama Pixie had to convince the police not to send me to juvie."
Phantom: "You can flyyyyy!"
Amaranth: "Are you having fun with Uncle Phantom, Soren?"
Soren: "Bizzie?"
Amaranth: "Ha! Is he calling you Bizzie too?"
Phantom: "Well, he was calling me mama earlier."
Amaranth: "See, this is your cousin Eva, Soren. She's a Pixie too....wait, is she? Or is she a Brownie?"
Phantom: "She's a Brownie. She's very quiet and stoic. If she were a Pixie, she'd be zinging all over the place."
Eva: "Bownie."
Amaranth: "Have you been teaching her to speak, Phantom?"
Phantom: "No, that's Delia's doing. I've been trying to teach her to play pranks, but she doesn't get it yet. But I'm happy she's learning how to fly. She has my wings, just the healed version of them."
Amaranth: "...I feel like I've heard about your wings before...something about how you couldn't fly when you were younger? But I don't think you've told me anything about that..."

Phantom only smiles.

Amaranth: " is family life for you, Phantom? Is everything going alright?"
Phantom: "Oh yes."
Amaranth: "You and Delia still happy together?"
Phantom: "Every day gets more exciting with her. She's talking about having even more babies."
Amaranth: "Oh really! What do you think about that?"
Phantom: "I like children. They're fun to prank and fun to play with. Eva's tons of fun. I hope we have a Pixie sometime."

Eventually it comes time for Amaranth and Soren to go home. Amaranth, Phantom, Soren, and Eva all give a group hug before Amaranth and Soren leave, making the Sim Deity melt into a little puddle of warm happy goo.
Amaranth hugs Phantom tightly, hoping to visit with him again soon. Then she puts down Eva and gently kisses her head.
Amaranth: "Down you go, little cutie. You have fun with daddy. Soren and I will come back soon!"
Amaranth: "Alright, little guy, let's go home. You've been in a pretty good mood today. Mommy has someone to call once she gets home. There's someone else she wants you to meet."


Amaranth: "Hey, Gator. Soren's awake now. I told him he could see you."
Soren: "Dader."
Gator: "Haha! Sounds like he's learning to talk."
Amaranth: "I try to squeeze some speech-teaching in when I can. What's with the athletic gear, by the way?"
Gator: "Got off work not too long ago. We've got a game coming up tomorrow, so we were training and getting ready for it."
Amaranth: "You and your sports."
Gator: "Gotta get my energy out somehow."

After a small pause, Amaranth swallows and tries to calm her pounding heart. She's had the time to think about it, and she knows for certain now. She's sure of herself and she's sure of Gator. Slowly, she steps over to him, stopping close to his body.
Amaranth: "Well...I really called you here for a specific reason, Gator."
Gator: "...Have you had enough time to think?"
Amaranth: "I have. And I'm sure now, Gator. I'm very sure."
Gator: "...Are you?"
Amaranth: "Yes. But...I don't want to say it unless you say it first."
Gator: "Unless I say what?"
Amaranth: "You know what I mean, Gator."
Gator: "...Give me a moment to take this in. I never thought this would ever happen."

Slowly Amaranth wraps her arms around Gator's waist, brushing her hands against him as she pulls him close. She feels him tremble slightly at her touch. She doesn't mind. She knows she's not going to pull away this time.

Gator softly brings his arms around her, holding her even more closely to him. Amaranth gently massages the small of his back as she brings her mouth close to his neck. There's that cologne again. She's come to love it so much. Gingerly she kisses his neck by his jawline. She traces the kisses along his jaw until she comes to his ear. She can feel Gator smiling.
To Amaranth's delight, Gator brings his hands up to caress her face, looking deeply into her eyes. Gator has such beautiful eyes. She feels as if she can see worlds in them. Her eyes trail down to his lips, then she smirks as she looks back into his eyes. She's made it clear what she wants and what she's now ready for.
Gator: "If you don't know I love you by now..."
Amaranth: "Yes...I know. I'm ready to accept it. And I'm ready to love you in return. I'm going to trust you..."
Gator: "I promise I will do everything I can to deserve that trust, Amaranth."
Amaranth: " there for me and protect me..."
Gator: "Always."
All the movies Amaranth had seen at the theater as a kid - about that magical first kiss that shakes the world and creates fireworks - could not have better described when her lips and Gator's lips touched. Warmth and happiness floods all over her body. She's in love, and this time she knows she can trust him. Finally...finally...everything seems to be right.

They finally pull away, but not for long. Gently their lips meet again, and again, and again.
Soren watches for a second or two, then realizes it's pretty boring and finds his dragon toy to play with. He plays for a little while, then mama comes to put him in his playpen. He doesn't particularly mind this time, as long as she doesn't take away his dragon toy. He prepares to cry just in case, but when she gives it to him in the playpen, he happily accepts and resumes his fantasy adventure.

Amaranth heads into the bedroom, giving a coy look to Gator before saying, "I'm going to use the restroom. I'll be right back." Of course, she doesn't truly mean it and Gator knows it. With a sheepish grin, he follows her into the bedroom. He finds her plopped down on the bed. Trying to control his enthusiasm, he slides in next to her.
Amaranth: "Mm. Naughty boy. You think I don't know what you want?"
She gives him a smirk to indicate her teasing.
Gator: "Well now. I was rather of the impression that you wanted it too, my lady."
He returns the smirk.
Amaranth: "Hmph. You're a beast."
Gator: "Werewolf. But you were half-right."

Then Gator sits up a little in bed and gently grasps her hand, a serious look on his face.
Gator: "But honestly, you want to do this? I mean...I know I love you and I know I want to make love with you. But I don't want to push you to do anything you're not ready for."
Amaranth: "...I'm ready, Gator."
Gator: "Are you sure? I want to make sure--"
Amaranth touches a finger to his lips, tapping them to gently silence him.
Amaranth: "I told you before. I trust you. And I'm ready."

Gator smiles, then leans forward to peck her on the lips.

One thing leads to another, and to another, and to another, and, well...can I make it any more obvious?
Author's notes: Decided to look at a more realistic view of single motherhood with Amaranth and Soren. Sim toddlers are so adorable and I love them so much (especially in bunny onesies), but I decided to focus on some of the difficulties. Amaranth really does want to be a good mom.

Soren gets to meet his uncles (he'll get to meet Grandpa Jakk soon). And yes, Oliver and Serena are married but they can't find a house to move into, even though StoryProgression repeatedly tells me they're looking. I'm considering just building a house that would suit them and seeing if they'll be able to move in. I feel bad that Oliver has to live in an entirely separate building from his wife. I had fun visiting Phantom and Eva, but I do wish Phantom would have some toddler toys on the ground floor so that Soren and Eva could play together.

I was so happy to write this chapter. There's one big reason, and it starts with G and ends with Ator. I like him and Amaranth together. :-}