Sim Fu brought Fabian something he’d never really had — peace of mind. It became a ritual; he’d meet Charles most evenings after work to work the kinks out of his body and mind.
Fabian had never been a man who saw a lot of point to the physical. The power of the human brain was astounding. Add to that the collection knowledge mankind had built up over the millennia of recorded history, and there was nothing you couldn’t do. He could sit at his computer and participate in the econopolitical upheaval in China. By comparison, pushing things around with your fists seemed sort of primitive — a throwback to our Neatherthal ancestors. Surely we’d moved past that sort of thing.
It turned out that Fabian had vastly underestimated the power of the primitive, especially inside himself. He had never felt so empowered, and by contrast, so at peace with himself.
And it didn’t hurt that he’d gotten pretty good at visualizing Malcolm Landgraab’s face on the training dummy.
Fabian stopped obsession over his promotion at work. The physical release actually helped his focus. He became a master at blocking out distractions, eliminating past and future, and letting the present become all that matters. When his resentment was nicely sealed in a box, 3D Crime Scene Modeling was pretty amazing work.
And, hell, if Malcolm wasn’t going to promote him anyway, there was no point in trying to court his favor. He stopped showering Landgraab with compliments and became his most outspoken critic in the department. After a while, he could see his boss stiffen as soon as he walked into a room, and it was perversely satisfying. Fabian was at the end of his career. What could Landgraab do to him? If he fought back, Fabian would just retire.
Then one day, the list of promotions went up in the break room, and Fabian’s name was on it.
He was a Dynamic DNA Profiler, the pinnacle of the forensics profession. By giving up his dreams, somehow he’d achieved them.
Fabian walked past Landgraab’s office as he walked out of the precinct, and his boss looked up to give him a silent, squint-eyed look. Fabian had no idea what it meant. It didn’t seem like a look of respect, but perhaps it was a sort of acknowledgement of a worthy opponent. Fabian could live with that.
That night was a night of celebration. Fabian took the whole family out for a fancy dinner on him. He drank a toast to Charles Sample, “The best sensei a geeky old wimp could find.”
Then he lured Zahra into their bedroom for some time alone.
“I want to apologize,” he said as he pulled her close.
Zahra raised her eyebrows. “Apologize?”
“I didn’t turn out to be the kind of husband I always thought I would be.”
Zahra thought about this. “That’s true,” she said. “Sometimes you’ve been kind of jerk.”
Fabian cringed. “I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t be so eager to agree.”
“What do you want me to say?” Zahra said. “I could point out that I’m not the easiest wife in the world. That’s true. But I never cheated on you. And I know about the ass you made of yourself to Michelle Yo at Willem’s birthday party.”
Fabian flushed a deep red. “How did you find out about that?” Charles had promised to never tell!
Zahra looked at him over her glasses. “Half my department was at that party, Fabian. They told me at the watercooler the very next day.”
“Oh,” Fabian said. He sighed. “I thought that if I won your heart, I’d never look at another woman. But the truth is I’ve never stopped looking. Being faithful has never come naturally, even after all these years. I hope that doesn’t make you want to leave me now.”
Zahra shook her head. “That’s not news, but thank you for telling me anyway.”
“You told me once that you were staying with me for Ada. I don’t think she needs me here anymore. I, uh, understand if you want me to leave.”
Zahra smiled a complex smile. “Thank you, but I never needed your permission. If I wanted you to leave, you’d already be gone.”
“Congratulations on your promotion,” she said. “I never thought I’d ever say this, but I think it’s time to stop talking.”
And so they did.
In the end, I just had to do it the hard way. I just had to get Fabian to his LTW the hard way — keep his mood high and make him Work Hard every day. So the story is sort of correct. He had to work off his stress moodlet after work, and he pretty much couldn’t do anything else other than work and soothe.
I was starting to worry that he wouldn’t live long enough, but he finally made it.
And in other news, Avalon is back on! Simsample ended up fixing it for me and giving me the files. It looks like there may be something weird with my system. I’m still experimenting. I’ll be pretty grumpy if it turns out I can’t use Create-A-World, but for now I have my Avalon, and I’ll probably move the families in tonight!