Jonah set himself to exploring the ocean around the island. The bays and sea caves around Avalon were fascinating and very different from the scenery he was used to.
The land was beautiful too. There were so many colors and types of plants — grass, flowers, bushes, and trees. Mountains above the sea could reach up to the sky and even have snow on the top. The air changed temperature much more than the sea as well. It could swing from cold to hot and back to cold in the span of a day.
And then there were horses.
Avalon was home to a small herd of wild horses. The first time Jonah saw them, they took his breath away. They were huge and majestic. Calling the sea-critters seahorses was just a joke.
He slowly worked his way on land to try to get close to them. His first attempts were an instant failure.
Jonah was a thoughtful and determined merman, and he couldn’t get them out of his mind. He watched the horses for hours and approached them much more gradually.
That attempt was ultimately a failure too.
Winston had developed a fan base. A little fan club had even sprung up on the Internet. He lurked there every once in a while just for the ego boost.
He started seeing familiar faces show up at his performances.
One name started showing up over and over again on the fan club forum — Emilie Weaver. Eventually Winston got a chance to meet her face-to-face.
“I can’t believe we’re finally talking!” she enthused. “You look amazing on the stage, but you’re even more attractive up close.”
“I’m not sure what to say to that,” Winston said. “Thanks?”
“I enjoy watching your show, but I’m not a mindless fangirl,” Emilie said. “Well, not just a mindless fangirl.” She laughed.
The longer Winston talked to Emilie, the longer he wanted to. The chemistry between them was hard to deny. Were there rules about dating fans? Were there rules about having fans? This was new territory. A huge was probably all right.
But his mind was on other things.
Gamora activated the time machine. It was ready for one more whirl through the continuum. This was the moment where she learned whether all her carefully laid groundwork was built on the correct assumptions about the time stream.
There was no way to know without going there to see. And if it didn’t work, well… she’d just have to come up with a new plan. Everything was fixable with time?
Victoria and Jonah had a lifetime to catch up on. They spent almost all their time together. It helped that Vickie’s income came from selling her diving discoveries and had no particular schedule.
Indeed, diving was one thing they could do together. They shared a passion for the sea, and that did a lot to bridge the chasm of their life experience. Vickie was conscious that this was much more time than Jonah had ever spent out of the water. She tried not to keep him away so long that it became painful for him.
After plenty of landwalker woohoo, Jonah was eager to show Vickie the pleasures of aquatic life.
Vickie found the idea exciting.
Woohoo and the sea, two of her favorite things together? What could be better?
Jonah was certainly thrilled.
It was certainly fun, but Vickie had to admit that her dive equipment made everything a bit awkward.
In the end, they found a compromise.
It worked pretty well for them.
He and Joy had found a perfect cottage. They were just starting to unpack, but he hoped to invite the family for a housewarming gathering as soon as possible.
Edmund had just had a birthday, so this would be a chance to celebrate two parts of his new life at the same time.
At around the same time, Gamora got a very different call from her father.
It was about her stepmother.
Gamora hung and immediately went go find her father. He wasn’t exactly a people person, and he wouldn’t expect to talk to anyone about Emily’s loss. Gamora knew Sawyer well enough to know he’d be wrong.
When his shift ended at the hospital, Gamora was waiting for him. “Hey Dad,” she said. “I thought tonight would be a good time to take you to dinner.”
Sawyer scowled at her. “You don’t eat,” he said. “We’ve been over that before.”
“I’ll watch you eat,” Gamora said. “That’s entertaining enough.”
The fact that he didn’t argue further was a sign of how bleak he was feeling.
Sawyer focused on his food and said very little. Gamora told him about her progress at the astronomy center. Their current focus was clearing space debris which, combined with environmentalist initiatives she was also funding, promised to keep the planet healthy for hundreds of years to come.
“You’re making good use of all that money you cheated from the future,” Sawyer said. “I hope there isn’t some causality loop that unravels all your planning.”
“I specialize in time causality, Dad,” Gamora said. “Give me a little credit here.”
Sawyer finished his meal, sat back, and looked at her. He was lost in thought, and a half smile tugged at his mouth.
Gamora smiled back and waited for him to say something.
“We did everything!” he cried. “Cardiac enhancement drugs. Reinforcement surgery. Experimental treatments. She had the best that medical science could offer, and her heart still failed. I couldn’t do anything because I’m a neuroscientist, not a cardiologist. The cardiologist was an idiot!”
“Dad, I think–” Gamora began.
“I could have saved her life,” Sawyer said. “I’m a world-famous neurosurgeon. I’ve saved hundreds of lives, but I didn’t get to save my own wife!”
“Dad, you did all you could,” Gamora said. “You haven’t saved everyone who came to you either. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault.”
“She died in the operating room,” Sawyer said. “I couldn’t do anything. I hate being helpless. I shouldn’t ever be helpless.”
“Emily was my lead nurse and research associate,” he said. “She worked with me on all my recent research. How can I got back without her?”
Gamora didn’t say anything. She just hugged him. He broke down and cried on her shoulder, and she held him tight. Then she took him home and stayed there so he wouldn’t be alone.
After some long talks with his daughter, Sawyer decided to retire. He purchased a new, nicer house. The two of them set to upgrading the interior with bits of technology Gamora had gleaned from the future. Sawyer didn’t seem nearly as bothered by tangling the timeline when the result cooked and cleaned for him.
Gamora wondered where all this compassion came from. Since when was she the kind of person to hold someone, even her dad, while he cried?
When Jonah touched her, Vickie found it hard to think.
All she could feel was the need for more.
Jonah himself spoke mostly with his eyes. He was self-conscious about his air voice, but also he just seemed to be awkward about words. She could feel his fingers tremble against her skin, see the longing in his eyes. Whatever the energy was between them, he was just as consumed by it.
She never saw him slip out of bed as she slept and watch her anxiously.
Eventually, she just had to escape to clear her head. She slipped out while Jonah was sleeping and headed downstairs to find something to eat.
A huge old ball of fluff met her in the kitchen. He was so happy to see her that his body wiggled all over. His joints were stiff enough these days that it took a lot of energy to get that excited. “Connery!” Vickie cried. “Just the pup I need to see!”
“There’s nothing like doggy love,” she said. “Want a smoochie?”
“Hey,” Winston said, coming up behind her. “Are you ok?”
“Um, sure I’m ok?” Vickie’s voice sounded even shakier than she felt. “I think so?”
Winston looked awkward. “I know you’re a big girl and all, Vickie, but you’re my sister. I’ve never seen you bring a guy home and lock yourself in the room with him all day. Do you even know him? I’m pretty sure that’s not Rodney.”
“He’s new,” Vickie admitted. She couldn’t bring herself to say that she’d only just met him, or that they’d only exchanged a handful of words. “Gosh,” she breathed, “this really isn’t something I do.”
“I was kinda thinking that too,” Winston said.
Here, with time to think half a house away from Jonah, Vickie could see how out-of-character her behavior was. It chilled her. Could she be under a spell? She knew there were romance spells, though she’d never learned to cast one. Could… oh dear… a drug do this? Not that Jonah had given anything to eat or drink… that she remembered… And of course he acted a bit strange. He was a merman without a lot of contact with landwalkers. Why was he here again?
Vickie too a deep breath and pulled out her phone. “I think I’m going to call a friend and see if I can get some advice,” she said.
Winston’s face softened. “Look, I don’t want to freak you out. I’m your brother. I have to worry about you. But there’s no harm in giving the guy some space, right?”
She thought she was going to dial Judith, but somehow that didn’t seem like the right kind of advice. She only knew one person who might give her some insight on mermen, but they’d only exchanged some sporadic texts since they met in Isla Paradiso.
“Maya? Hi, it’s Victoria Sample.” She paused. “Yeah, it’s me! It’s great to hear your voice too! ….Yeah, we never talk voice. We should fix that …Well, yeah, I did have a reason for calling. There’s a guy, and he’s a merman, and thought you might give me some advice about mermen…”
“You can stop squealing now, Maya! I get the point!” Vickie flushed. “Yeah, maybe I deserved that.”
To Vickie’s surprise, Maya insisted on meeting in person, and she was quick with the airline reservations. She found a flight that arrived in the afternoon, and they rendezvoused at the Old Mill teahouse.
“Wow, it’s been so long! You look great!” they chorused when they laid eyes on each other.
“I had no idea you could come visit this quickly,” Vickie said. “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
“I can’t always travel on such short notice,” Maya said, “but you lucked out this time. I had other reasons to spend some time in Avalon.”
“I hope you were going to look me up,” Vickie said.
“Sure I would,” Maya said, though Vickie thought there was a guilty edge to her voice.
“Let’s sit down and have a drink then,” Vickie said. “The Old Mill is such a peaceful place, and I never make time to come here.”
“I want to hear about this merman,” Maya said.
“You listen, and I’ll pour,” Vickie said.
Winston wandered into the kitchen in the afternoon and found Vickie’s guest sitting at the dining table, eating what Winston thought uneasily might be raw fish.
He grabbed a slice of Andria’s flaming angle food cake from the fridge and sat down beside the merman. “Hey,” he said. “I’m Vickie’s brother. My name’s Winston.”
The merman paused and gave Winston a long look. At last, he said, “I am Jonah of the Waves clan. Thank you for your hospitality.”
“It sounds like you’ve been showing my sister a good time,” Winston said. “Good for you. Just a piece of advice, man to man — Vickie lives with two brothers and her mom. You might want to be careful about loud noises.”
“Waves clan, really?” Maya said with raised eyebrows. “Those finfolk are wild.”
“Wild how?” Vickie asked, feeling her stomach tighten.
“Wild like a lot of them have never used their legs at all,” Maya said. “They live out in the deep ocean. I’ve only met a few. I get the impression that they don’t think much of shore mermaids like me.”
“If his clan doesn’t like the land,” Vickie said, “why did Jonah come here?”
Maya snickered. “For you, obviously.”
Vickie thought about that for a while. “You don’t know if Waves clan merfolk have any unusual abilities compared to shore merfolk?”
Maya frowned. “Not that I know of… What are you getting at?”
Vickie felt her face heating up. She tried to keep her voice casual. “Maybe any mermaid can do it? Affect how a human thinks about you?”
Maya frowned. She caught Vickie’s eyes from across the table until Vickie felt uncomfortable and looked away.
“Vickie,” she said. “Have you ever been with someone who really drove you crazy? Like you can’t get enough of them feel most comfortable when you’re with them?”
“I…” Vickie began. She’d had some good woohoo for sure, but she had to be honest with herself — the relationship part had always been awkward. Roderick had been good for a while, but even he had always looked at her with this devotion she couldn’t share. It made her feel guilty every time.
“I guess not,” she finished.
“You know what I think?” Maya said. “I think that you’ve got serious chemistry with a guy for the first time in your life, and it’s freaking you out.”
“You know, Maya,” Vickie said. “I think maybe you’ve got it exactly right.” She leaned forward to pour herself a little more tea.
They let the conversation drift to other things. “It’s been amazing to talk like this,” Vickie said. “I wish you were closer so we could do this all time.”
Maya gave a secretive smile. “That could happen someday,” she said. “Don’t give up hope.” She winked.
“Tell your fishy boyfriend hello for me,” Maya said. “Next time, we double-date or something, okay?”
“Absolutely,” Vickie said. “Thank you so much.”
It was dusk when she returned, and Jonah was waiting for her.
“You were gone when I woke up,” he said. His eyes looked large and mournful. “You’re unhappy. We have gone too fast. If you wish, I will return to the sea.”
“I’m sorry,” Vickie said. “I just needed to get away to think. I want you to stay. Please stay, Jonah.”
His face lit up, and he pulled her close.
I had real writer’s block with this one, but it finally came together.
Vickie wrenched herself away from him. “What? What are you doing?” she demanded. “Who are you?”
“I’m called Jonah, of the Waves clan in the South Simsian Sea,” the merman said in a thick voice.
“So you do speak Simlish,” Vickie said.
Jonah looked embarrassed. “I understand very well,” he said. “I just don’t often speak.. with air.”
“Oh!” Vickie said. “You’ve been following me. Why? Why do you stare at me like that?”
The merman dropped his eyes. “I did not mean to upset you,” he said. “I just felt… this. I assumed you felt it too.”
“Felt what?” Vickie asked, trying to mask the trembling in her voice.
He frowned, thinking, then reached out and brushed his hand over her skin. “I don’t know the name for it,” he said. “The call of the sea?”
She opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came.
Instead, she took him by the hand and wordlessly led him back to the house.
They stayed in her bedroom a long time.
Downstairs, Edmund was also thinking romantic thoughts, but of a much more chaste and proper manner.
“Joy? Would you grant me the pleasure of your company at Ventinari’s Restaurant this afternoon? Perhaps on the early side? 6pm? Yes, that would be delightful!”
He arrived early. If Joy appreciated punctuality, he wanted to be punctual. Even if she didn’t, it was unlikely she’d be happier if he were late.
“I wanted to celebrate a milestone with you,” he told her, “both for me and, I hope, for Avalon. We are free of all but the oldest, most powerful vampires.”
“Really? That’s amazing,” Joy said. “You did this all on your own?”
“With the weight of a thousand years of fae knowledge behind me,” Edmund agreed. “The strange thing is that most of them wanted to be free. They thanked me for returning them to mortality.”
Joy shook her head. “I guess I’ll never really understand it all.”
“To celebrate, would you join me for dinner?” Edmund asked.
Joy smiled. “But of course!”
“Vetinari’s is the nicest restaurant in town,” Joy said. “I’ve never been here. I’m looking forward to finding out if it lives up to the hype.”
“My mother makes several things on this menu,” Edmund said. “I wonder how a restaurant compares.”
“Your mother is a gourmet cook?” Joy asked.
“In her spare time,” Edmund agreed.
“While we’re waiting, would you join me in a toast?” Edmund asked. “This is some of my father’s prized nectar, which he put down before he died.”
“How can I say no to that?” Joy said.
“Is it supposed to burn?” she asked.
“Perfect quality flame fruit nectar,” Edmund said. “I have heard that flame fruit nectar is memorable, but I’ll be honest — I have no idea how this tastes. It might be an expensive disaster.”
“All right then, I’ve been warned,” Joy said. “I’m ready for the adventure.” She raised a flaming goblet to her lips.
“Oh, my. This is amazing. I’ve never tasted anything like this!”
“Wonderful! This is ideal for a celebration, then. I think Dad would approve.” Edmund sipped his own.
The nectar danced over his tongue and warmed him from the inside out.
“I think this is going to my head!” he said. They both laughed.
Edmund looked up and met Joy’s eyes over their wine glasses. “I am embarking on a new chapter of my life. I have been searching for a small place of my own, and I’m ready to move away from my family estate. Would you consider joining me there?”
Joy froze, then took another sip. “I don’t think I’m ready to talk about marriage,” she said slowly.
“However you wish to define our relationship, I am at your disposal,” Edmund said. He tried to hide the splash of wine as his hand trembled.
Then Joy’s face relaxed, and she beamed at Edmund. “All right then,” she said. “I would love to move in with you. I know I couldn’t have handled your entire family, but just the two of us, with books and magic, that sounds divine.”
The counter stood between Edmund and Joy, so he couldn’t take her into his arms. Perhaps this wasn’t the most wise place to start an important conversation. He settled instead for a soulful gaze across the distance. “Joy, my love,” he said. “With you, I am the happiest man alive in this moment.”
He was pleased to see her blush.
I had the hardest time with this scene, but here we are — Edmund has completed his Lifetime Wish and is moving out of the house with his girlfriend! He really should have proposed to her, considering that he is a Proper sim, but it didn’t happen in the flow of the moment. Joy is Unflirty and pretty cautious about commitments anyway.