“Oh, hey,” Fabian said in surprise as Zahra stumbled into the room. “Wait a minute and I’ll have breakfast ready.”
“Thanks,” Zahra said distantly. She sat down at the counter and blinked at him while he flipped pancakes. “You don’t have to cook for me.”
Fabian shrugged. “I didn’t expect to see you up so early while you’re on maternity leave.”
Zahra offered a wan smile. “That’s assuming I’ve been to bed.”
“Oh. I guess that solves the problem of who sleeps in our bed.” He served the pancakes up on a plate for Charles and Shanni to grab on their way out. “Zahra, is this the best we can do? Forgive me or throw me out, please. I don’t think I can handle the waiting anymore.”
Zahra sighed at looked at him with eyes that were suddenly vulnerable. “I know,” she said. “I’m still trying to figure out what could convince me to trust you again.”
Those eyes were still flashing before his vision all the way to work.
“Give me a second, Hank,” he said to his partner as they were getting ready to go out on patrol. “I need to make a call.”
(Yeah, Hank is still Fabian’s partner, despite the fact that he’s supposedly been promoted to a desk job.)
His fingers dialed the familiar number by reflex. “I was wondering if you wanted to meet up. You know, the same old place after work.”
The voice o the other end sounded so cheerful that it made his heart ache. “Fabian! I thought you’d never ask.”
Shanni had survived the morning, and she was starting to think she had this job under control when SHE walked into the salon courtyard.
“I believe I have an appointment for new formalwear,” Agnes Crumplebottom said. She gave Shanni and awkward smile. “I have a hot date tonight.”
“Surely you don’t mean me!” Shanni squeaked. “Beau is much more experinced. He could–“
“You’re the trainee with the discount, right?” Agnes demanded. “I prefer to get the discount.”
Fabian’s amazingly rich heiress girlfriend was a tightwad. Great.
I can do this. I can do this, Shanni repeated to herself as she escorted Agnes into her studio. I can be completely impartial and give her the best look I can possibly give. And I won’t think once about who she has a date with. All right, I thought about it once, but that’s it.
In the end, she felt she outdid herself.
Agnes thought it was acceptable enough not to demand a refund, at least.
Agnes smiled at Shanni. “You seem like a strong, hardworking woman. I’m glad you were the one to do the work. I’m not the easiest person to work for, nor am I the prettiest face to paint up. Thank you.”
She left Shanni to pick her jaw up off the floor as she left.
It was Fabian’s jaw that hit the floor next, as they met up at dusk at the bistro. “Agnes, you look… you look amazing.
“I’m glad you appreciate the change,” Agnes said. “I hear the salmon is especially good tonight.”
Fabian started to walk into the restaurant with her, but then he stopped himself. “Agnes, the real reason I’m meeting you like this it tell you we have to stop meeting like this.”
“Why on earth?” Agnes demanded. “Did you suddenly notice you were married?”
He looked at her with miserable, puppy-dog eyes. “I’ll always value your friendship.”
Her face clouded over. “That’s exactly what it is, isn’t it? You never minded our relationship with any of your other girlfriends, but now it’s different?”
“Yes.” Fabian tried to hold his voice firm, but he heard it crack, and he cringed. “Now it’s different.”
“You bastard,” Agnes snarled. “Don’t pretend this somehow makes you a good, faithful husband. You’re just a bastard with a pile of guilt. Have a good time with it.”
And with that, she stalked out of the bistro and out of Fabian’s life.
He headed home, feeling numb. He and Agnes had been a thing almost since Fabian had graduated from high school. She’d never asked anything of him, and now he couldn’t even give her what little she wanted.
He consoled himself the best way he knew how.
When Zahra came in from the garden, he told her the news.
“It’s through between us. I made that clear.”
Zahra flashed those vulnerable eyes at him. “Thank you.”
And when he went to bed that night, she joined him, without explanation or promise.
It was Fabian who lay awake that night. It was nice to feel Zahra close to him again. That meant the danger zone was past, right? Right?
(So, a little creative license there, since of course there’s no way for a Sim to set a date later in the day, silly folks. But this was the first afternoon after work when Fabian could have met with Agnes to ask her to just be friends, so I’d decided that’s what he was going to do. And who do you think shows up looking for formalwear? It was pretty awesome synergy. So it all really did happen the same day, without me planning it.)