Amaranth is beyond surprised to see Zack at the hospital, waiting for her after she gives birth to Soren. He doesn't look too happy to see her. In fact, he looks pretty miserable. Silently, he follows her out the hospital and into the taxi cab to go back to the castle. Finally, as they get out to go home, Amaranth speaks up.
Zack: "Skinny jeans are the new trend."
Amaranth: "Those are jockey pants."
Zack: "They look good on me."
Amaranth: "No, they--....ugh, never mind. Why are you here?"
Zack: "...It's a government requirement for fathers to see their children at least once. And to pay child support if they're not living with the mother."
Amaranth: "Oh....I'm rather surprised you let the government know Soren was yours."
Zack: "I didn't. Your obnoxious fairy friend went to some political prick's campaign fundraiser and...spilled the beans in not the nicest of ways."
Amaranth: "Well...if you thought you could ditch me without even paying child support, you deserved to have Phantom tattle on you."
The tension between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The more Amaranth thinks about Zack, the more she wonders why she ever fell in love with him, the more she wonders why she would still have feelings for him, the more she wonders why she wanted to get back together with him. Now every feeling of love and yearning turns into bitter anger and disgust. What a heartless wretch! He doesn't feel any remorse, any sorrow, any affection, even any pity towards her. And if it weren't for Phantom, he wouldn't have even taken any responsibility for being the father of Soren.
Amaranth: "I was going to, then I had this inconvenient occurrence known as 'going into labor.' Then wouldn't you know it, out popped a little boy. YOUR little boy, in fact."
Zack: "...I just got out of high school and I feel like my life has already been horribly messed up. I can't believe I have to go through this..."
Amaranth: "...Get the f**k out of my castle. And don't ever come back. Whether you have a change of heart later in life or you always remain the selfish cold-hearted pig you are now, you will never ever be allowed to see Soren. Get out. And while you're out, get yourself some real pants."
In a rage, Zack storms out of the castle. Amaranth is almost surprised at her own reaction, how much she's glad to see him go. The fool took advantage of her, used her and threw her away, didn't even care about the bundle of life he'd helped create. Is this the world her grandfather had in mind to overthrow? Are these the "good" citizens of Moonlight Falls, trembling under the thought of being ruled by an evil overlord and yet cruelly abusing their fellow man behind the scenes? Is this the situation her family's legacy is straining to control? Perhaps Amaranth's views have been a little off. Perhaps her mother's maniacal determination wasn't as unnecessary as Amaranth had thought. Perhaps her father's dreams of tyranny weren't misplaced. If this is the state of the world in which Amaranth lives and in which her son must now grow up in, why, who could blame her family for trying to overthrow it? Who can really point fingers at Rufus Overlord and say he started the mess that Moonlight Falls is now in? Her grandfather didn't start this mess. He did nothing about the "little people." That is Amaranth's job.
Perhaps she ought to redirect her focus. Perhaps she ought to tap into the "wickedness" her mother gladly possessed. Perhaps it's even noble to further her grandparent's plans of world domination, or at least far more noble than to leave the world the way it is.
Trying to balance her career with her new mother responsibilities is a bit tough. Sometimes she takes little Soren to work with her.
It's far more convenient (and not terribly costly) to hire a babysitter. Fortunately her first call brought about a responsible young man.
A repeated number of her cases revolve around one man. Amaranth is sick of hearing his name at this point.
Param: "I'm quite certain he assists the criminal organization with their paperwork."
Amaranth: "Of course he does. He also steals mouthwash, lies about theft on his property, and cyber-bullies little girls. I'll go look through his mail..."
Hmm. Amaranth just realizes she's thinking like this. Perhaps she's a real Overlord after all. Her mother would be proud.
Amaranth: "Did I find anything? Goodness, yes. He does work with the crime organization. He also subscribes to Tiger Beat magazine and sent for an autograph from One Direction."
Param: "That's...more than I wanted to know."
Amaranth: "Then it's probably a good thing I didn't tell you he also ordered fishnet stockings from a Playboy catalog."
After her traumatizing experience with Rainflower Ivy's mail, Amaranth decides to conduct a stakeout at the local hangout. As she arrives, she finds her mother there. She wonders what she's doing there. She'd heard that her mother and father weren't getting along very well and were quite close to splitting. She wonders if they've already done so. She doesn't really like to think about it, but, well, her mother is who she is.
Amaranth: "Bah. Almost more information than I really want to know. Everything's going really well."
Midnight: "Well, good. I'm really glad you're finally getting your head in the right area, Amaranth. I've heard that Zack guy you were obsessed with in high school just had a kid with some bimbo. It's a good thing you didn't stick with that guy, or else heaven knows that could've been you."
Midnight: "....'um'? You did dump that boy's behind...right?"
Amaranth: "Well, yeah, I did."
Amaranth: "...After....after we, um...."
Midnight: "....Amaranth? Is there something you need to tell me?"
Amaranth: "....sigh. Yes, mother. The baby is mine. I had a son a couple of days ago. I named him Soren."
Midnight: ".....Of course I couldn't have trusted you to leave your foolish little-girl emotions behind and stay focused on what's most important. Of course."
Midnight: "Which wasn't wise of me. I should have waited. And even then, everyone was under my control. Where's your control of Zack? Hmm?"
Amaranth: "I am focused on world domination, mom. I'll further the legacy just like I promised you, whether it's with or without a kid."
Midnight: "That's what you told me as a high schooler, and now look what's happened. No doubt you'll just go running off to Zack again and forget everything."
Amaranth: "No, I won't!!"
Midnight: "When I see it, I'll believe it, Amaranth. Don't let me die in disappointment."
To Amaranth's frustration, her mother walks out of the hangout, off to who knows where. Offended and hurt, Amaranth doesn't even want to answer her phone, but she decides to anyway. It could be an important case for her.
Her heart plops pitifully to the floor after Oliver says it: Serena Durwood. Zack's mother. Oliver even asks, "Are you and Zack still together?" to which Amaranth simply (and makes every effort to say nicely), "No, we broke up a little while ago." Who knows? Perhaps Serena is not like her son. Perhaps she and Oliver will live happily ever after once they're married. She certainly hopes this is the case.
After her conversation with Oliver, Amaranth proceeds with her stakeout, which she originally came here to do anyway.
Then things begin to get really freaky and Amaranth seriously contemplates just going home. But something intrigues her.
Dog (after twitching and suddenly turning freaky): "Why, hello, Amaranth Overlord. I happen to be an alien from the planet Oorgump. Would you happen to know the way to the local shelter? I am sure there are more of my kind in disguise there."
Amaranth: "...I think I'm going to...go downstairs..."
Amaranth decides she just can't leave him alone. Every ounce in her wants some sort of vengeance for how he's treated her.
Amaranth: "...You don't deserve my respect. But I'm going to leave you alone anyway, out of respect for your father."
Turning her heel, Amaranth heads back up the stairs. That's enough staking out for one day. She hopes that alien dog found his friends okay.
Evening comes around and the Sim Deity prods Amaranth to place her baby boy on the floor.
I'm glad you're relieved, Amaranth. The Terrible Twos are next.
Amaranth: "Mm. I think he'll be a good toddler."
I certainly hope so.
Soren grows up just a little bit. It's almost a relief to Amaranth to discover Soren has no visible features of Zack's. He's the spitting image of his mother.
Amaranth: "....Oh boy."
Yes, Amaranth, it begins.
The next day Amaranth decides to stay home with her little one rather than investigate any cases. Afternoon rolls around and Soren gets cranky (even crankier than normal - the young boy likes to wail and cry at random intervals throughout the day), so Amaranth lays him down for a nap. Soren screams even louder, but she knows he needs the rest.
Soren complains even more, but falls to sleep very quickly. Relieved and exhausted herself, Amaranth stumbles downstairs and slumps into the couch. Being a single mother is so much work. And Soren's only been a toddler for less than twenty-four hours! She wonders how she's going to pull this off. She barely has enough energy to even focus on her career (which she needs to focus on, since it's her way of getting information and control over the town). Will Soren be this cranky through all his toddler days?
Amaranth inwardly groans when she hears the doorbell ring. She's so tempted to just ignore it, but she decides to get up anyway. It could be her dad, or Phantom, or Oliver, or--
Gator: "Hah! I told you I would. Now I'm even taller than you are."
Postman: "...Why is she not wearing any pants? Just...never mind. I hate delivering mail to this castle. The people who live here are just weird."
For your information, Mr. Postman, she is wearing little teeny short shorts. Look harder--...actually don't.
Gator: "Oh, no, it was a small family celebration. I didn't need anything big."
Amaranth: "Did Sophie get you anything?"
Gator: "...Sophie? Oh. Um...yeah, she and I broke up a while ago..."
Amaranth: "...Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't know."
Gator: "No, it's alright. She had feelings for...someone else."
Amaranth knows by the look on Gator's face who that "someone else" is.
Amaranth: "Does his name start with Z and end with 'ack'?"
Gator: "Something like that."
Amaranth: "That sucks. Sophie had so many good things with you. Doesn't make sense to me why she would ever go for that scumbag."
Amaranth: "Oh! You haven't even seen him yet! The last time I saw you, I was still pregnant."
Gator: "So it's a boy? I've been too lazy to read the paper to see the birth announcement."
Amaranth: "That's okay. Yes, he's a boy. His name is Soren. He's napping right now, but if we're quiet, we can go see him."
Amaranth: "I know. I don't see Zack in him at all, which I'm kind of happy about."
Gator: "So...how's life with a toddler? I'm the youngest of my family, so I've never known what it's like to have a baby in the house."
Amaranth: "It's...I mean, it's...well, rewarding, I guess. I mean, I love the little stinker. He can be so cuddly and precious sometimes. And then others....sigh. Sometimes he just doesn't stop crying. He'll sit on the floor, surrounded by toys, and just start throwing a tantrum for no reason at all."
Gator: "Sounds pretty realistic. At least he's got a good mother."
Amaranth: "He's got a tired mother, that's for sure."
Gator: "...Has Zack seen him yet?"
What is it with tears around Gator? Amaranth tries to hold herself back, but Gator holds out his arms and, like before, she allows herself to fall into them and quietly weep on Gator's shoulder. Fortunately the tears don't stay for too long. She clears up pretty quickly. Close to his neck, Amaranth can smell his cologne very well. With her cheek gently pressed against the soft skin of his neck, Amaranth suddenly feels a spark. Perhaps the spark was always there; she'd just never allowed herself to think this way about him. Gator's always been just her friend - her unique, energetic friend. I mean, he's always been cute, but Amaranth was always too obsessed with Zack to really let herself focus on it.
Now she's in his arms, and he hasn't let her go yet. Closing her eyes, Amaranth focuses on how she feels now. She lets herself open her heart to the possibilities. Gator's body is warm and strong. She likes how it feels against her. She likes how his hands are gently resting on her back.
Should she take the chance? She's been horribly wrong and horribly hurt before.
...But this is Gator. She knows Gator. She's been friends with Gator for a long time.
Slowly she moves her hands up and rests one against the nape of his neck. She gently intertwines her other hand with Gator's long silky hair.
Pulling away gently and staring deeply into his eyes, Amaranth knows her heart is on fire. She knows she can trust Gator. She knows everything she feels is right.
...but Amaranth pulls away.
Gator: "It's alright, Am. I understand."
Amaranth: "Please don't think it's anything against you, Gator. It's just where I am right now. I want to be sure...I want to be careful..."
Gator: "Amaranth, I'm not offended. I understand why you want to take it slow, and I agree with you. You've been through a lot. It's good for you to take time and be sure of yourself."
Amaranth: "...Do you need time too?"
Gator: "...No. I don't. I felt this way the first day we met. I've had all the time I need to know what I feel is certain."
Amaranth: "Since we met? But...then why did you date Sophie?"
Gator: "I asked Sophie to the prom, after you...well, after you went after Zack. I wasn't intending on having an actual relationship with Sophie, but she kind of took it that direction, and I was kind of stuck."
Amaranth: "...So that's why you didn't feel bad after you broke up."
Gator: "And I promise I'll be there whenever you're ready."
Amaranth: "...You're wonderful, Gator."
Gator: "I hope, after you've had your time to think, that you realize how much you are too, Amaranth. Take all the time you need."
Author's notes: StoryProgression has caused the planning of my story to go in eight hundred different directions. This chapter was actually going to be a LOT different. With how Zack was behaving around Amaranth at first, it was looking like they were going to be getting back together, with Zack having a change of heart. That's where last chapter was headed. Then on the exact same day, Sophie and Gator broke up, and then Sophie and Zack got into a relationship. Total change of plans. But it's a change of plans I don't mind really. :D
Anyway, here we see the turning point for Amaranth. She's on the path to true Overlordship, especially concerning her career and her behavior around average citizens. But...as you can see with Gator, she still has some of her innocence deep inside.
Soren's a cutie, but he's definitely a wailer. One time I left him downstairs (because his sleep schedule is completely whacked - he's awake while Amaranth's sleeping, and vice versa), and after he got tired, he literally crawled into Amaranth's room and threw his tantrum there to wake her up. He's also managed to poop his diaper WHILE HIS BLADDER WAS FULL. I have no idea how that happened, but it sent him crying again. Makes for an interesting personality. I kind of like it.
And, just a little spoiler because I don't want to lead you on only to disappoint you...Soren can't be the heir. I always randomize my rolls for their traits and he's got the Good trait. Note, that you don't have to have the Evil trait to be an Overlord heir (Amaranth does not have the Evil trait), but being Good automatically knocks you out of the running. So as much as I adore little Soren, he's not carrying on the line. :(
Anyway. Thank you, StoryProgression, for totally destroying all my plans and making me rework them. I think I'm having more fun this way though. :D