Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Prologue] Chapter 6: Risk Management

Looming like a shadow in the dark, Maeve feels death creep closer with each passing hour. Exhaustion is her constant companion these days, but yet sleep provides no relief for her tired mind. She struggles to stay coherent, often blurring the lines between the dream world and reality, but even in such a fragile state Maeve recognizes the man sitting at her bedside.

“Luca?” she whispers in a faint voice. “Is that you?”

“Hush,” he soothes, getting up to put a cool, wet rag on her forehead. “You need rest, my darling.”

Maeve starts to protest, but the effort proves too much for her. Luca watches in pained silence as she collapses onto the bed and fades out of consciousness once again.

As soon as he’s certain that she’s asleep, Luc reaches into his backpack and pulls out a single flower, gently placing it in the palm of her hand.

“For you, love,” he murmurs with a final kiss.

Maeve’s mother catches Luca as he’s walking out the door.

“She will be alright, won’t she?” Esme stammers.

Luc glances away uncomfortably. “I- I’m not sure,” he admits. “She doesn’t have much fight left.”

Esme nods, trying to remain composed, but Luca can see the despair in her eyes.

“I will be back later tonight,” he says as he squeezes her arm reassuringly. “I have some business to attend to at the hospital, but Maeve should be fine until I return.”

I hope, he adds silently.

After leaving Esme’s house, Luca heads home to change into his uniform and check his mail, but an unexpected surprise awaits him as he walks through the front door.

“Emily?” he frowns. “What are you doing here?”

Emily jumps up, aghast. Apparently she wasn’t expecting to see Luca either.

“I’m sorry, Mr. K!” she cries. “I wouldn’t have come here, but I thought you were going to be out of town for the week and the house was completely empty and I didn’t have anywhere else to go and-”

Luca glares at her irritably, and Emily immediately stops talking. He has so many other things on his mind right now that the intrusion feels particularly invasive.

“I don’t appreciate my house being broken into,” he snaps. “You need to go home, or I will have to call your mother.”

His tone makes Emily cringe, and before she can stop herself the teenager bursts into a fitful bout of tears.

“I have nowhere to go home to!” she sobs. “My mom kicked me out when she found out I was pregnant.”

Luca reaches over and awkwardly pats her arm. “I’m sorry, Em” he tells her distractedly. “I didn’t mean to-” He freezes, replaying her words over again in his head. “What did you say?”

“I’m p-pregnant,” she repeats in a trembling voice.

Luca’s eyes widen in horror. “But- How- You- You’re only a kid!” he sputters. “Are you… Are you sure?”

Emily looks up at him through tear filled eyes and nods. “I should have told you sooner,” she whispers dejectedly. “But you seemed so happy with Maeve, and then you were so sad when she broke up with you, and then there was the outbreak of the fever and you got so busy at work, and- and-” She trails off feebly, out of excuses.

Luca sighs and rubs his aching head. “You can stay here tonight,” he tells her after a minute, “but when I come back tomorrow you and I need to sit down and have a long conversation about this. Understand?”

Sobbing, Emily throws herself into Luca’s arms.

“Thank you, Mr. K,” she cries. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”

Luca would have liked to have had that discussion with Emily tonight, but unfortunately he has other, more urgent tasks to take care of right now.

Sneaking into the lab at work proves to be an easier feat than he had expected. Before he left town, he asked his boss for a week’s worth of time off, claiming that he needed to visit his dying mother in Lucky Palms. He was worried that showing up at the hospital two days before he was due back would seem suspicious, but at eight o’clock at night no one even blinks an eye at him.

He quickly locates the samples he needs for Atticus’ potion and tucks them into his briefcase. Just as he’s about to leave, however, a thought crosses his mind. Luca’s team spent hours collecting and compiling data about the White Fever and its victims, from their genders and ages to where they had lived and worked and any places they’d visited recently. Atticus specifically mentioned that the first plague, the Great Plague, had magical origins, but he had explained that they were never able to isolate its source. However, the disease was extremely widespread back then and much more advanced than it is now. If Luca could show Atticus their research, perhaps the old mage might see something that he and his team had missed. It’s definitely a long shot, but he is willing to take the risk. Luca wants to get rid of this disease once and for all.

Hurriedly Luc logs into the computer at the lab and scans through the files. There are literally dozens of hard drives full of information about the fever, but he doesn’t have the time or the space to take them all. Being careful not to trigger any security alarms, Luca copies over the most important documents to his flash drive.

He’s just saving the last file he needs when a familiar voice echoes over his shoulder.

“What are you looking for, babe?” Bridget murmurs as she comes up behind him. “I can’t imagine its half as pretty as I am.”

Luca frantically closes his browser. “Bridget,” he exclaims. “What are you doing here so late?”

“Are we keeping secrets?” she purrs. “Well, well. I never thought of you as the type, Dr. McKinley.”

“Um, no,” he stammers, standing up to talk to her. “No secrets. It’s just… I’m not supposed to be in town until Monday. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m skipping work at a time like this.”

Bridget smirks. “I see. What a dilemma. It does look rather suspicious after all, since you’re supposed to be at your mother’s funeral right now…”

Luca feels his palms grow sweaty. “Right. I am. I mean, I was. At her funeral. But… it’s over. It ended.”

Silence hangs in the air.

“But maybe we could, you know, keep this a secret between you and me?” he asks her quietly. “I mean, no one needs to know that I was here tonight…”

“Of course, baby. I would do anything for you. My boyfriend.”

Luca frowns. “But we’re not-”

“Dating?” she laughs. “Well, in that case, I guess I’ll just have to report this incident to the-”

Luca doesn’t even give her a chance to finish. He leans in and kisses her, desperately trying to distract her.

“I thought that might be your answer,” Bridget whispers with a seductive grin. “Why don’t we take this somewhere more private?”

Seeing no choice but to oblige, Luca reluctantly follows her to his office, where things take a predictably steamy turn. He tells himself that he’s doing this for Maeve, for all the victims of the fever, but deep down he knows that keeping Bridget quiet helps one person and one person only. Luca loves being a doctor, and he won’t risk losing his position over this.

What he doesn't realize, however, is that while he fights to save his beloved job, something far more precious is in jeopardy across town. Maeve has finally succumbed to the fever, and the reaper is here to claim her life.

…Or so he thought.

With a lovely new flower to add to his collection, Grim returns Maeve’s spirit to her body, healing her physical form in such a way that only he can.

“I thought I’d lost you,” Esme sobs as Maeve rises to her feet. “I thought you had died.”

“I did,” Maeve soothes. “Only, I came back.”

Esme has so many questions to ask her, but for now all she wants to do is hold her daughter close and never, ever let go.

A short while later, Luca arrives back at Esme’s house. Leaning up against the front door, he tries to prepare himself for whatever scene awaits him inside, but worry and guilt quickly overwhelm him. Although he’s eager to see Maeve, to check up on her condition and offer her what little comfort he can, Luca feels tired from the evening’s events and sick from his encounter with Bridget.

Defiantly, determinedly, he takes a deep breath and opens the door.

Maeve heard Luca’s car pull up, and as soon as he walks inside she throws her arms around him, kissing him passionately.

“You’re alive,” Luca breathes when they finally break apart.

Maeve nods. “The flower, it saved me. You saved me,” she smiles.

“I can’t believe it worked,” he exclaims. “That’s incredible! The book at your father’s house said it could charm death, but I-”

“No,” Maeve whispers, putting a finger over his lips. “I don’t want to know. Let’s just enjoy tonight, okay? We can talk about it tomorrow.”

Pulling her closer, Luca kisses her again. “I couldn’t agree more,” he replies with a grin.

Challenge Notes:

Did you know that you can’t kill a pregnant Sim in TS3? I was, like, shocked. Floored. Blown away. I literally couldn’t keep my pregnant Sims ALIVE in TS2! And now they won’t even let you kill them?!? I tried everything from starving her with TCE to twallan’s debug enabler mod/kill option, but it glitched out every time. So, as you may have noticed (or not), Maeve isn’t actually pregnant in the death scenes. Because, really. She needed to die. But how stupid is that that pregnant Sims can’t get killed?! I understand the whole “let’s not piss off the parents” issue, but seriously. What bullshit! Just one more way that EA fails! /rant

(By the way, I swear I’m not a horrible person IRL…)

Back on topic, I really dislike the way the death flower works. The Sim dies and then gives reaper the flower. As a ghost. It’s like, why would they still have the flower on their person as a incorporeal being?! But I guess it comes back to the whole inventory issue. Where do they store all those items? I did an interesting experiment though. FOR SCIENCE! In an alternate save, I gave Maeve the flower after she died (but while she was still human, if that makes sense), and reaper refused to take it. The whole interaction just didn’t happen, and she died for realsies. I guess that’s to keep you from cheating or something.

Yeah, I need to think of more to write in this section…


  1. Oh, poor Emily! =(

    Great chapter! I was really on edge while Luca checked the records, because like him I am hoping Atticus can discern who is responsible for the plague. *waits for next chapter*

    1. Aw, thanks Becky! I'm so happy you liked it. I feel bad for Emily too, but I'm not putting her through all this torture just for the hell of it. There's a method to my madness, as they say. =)

  2. Oh boy, I do believe that Bridget is going to be in for a real shocker. Sims in my game have learned the hard way in what it cost them when they mess with a man who belongs to a witch, and a pregnant hormonal witch to boot.

    1. Hehe, you are so right. Bridget is definitely in for a surprise, in more ways than one. I wouldn't mess with a pregnant, hormonal witch if it were me, but she may not be so wise. Thanks for reading!

  3. I have to agree with Pinky here, Maeve seems pretty timid but I would be not the least bit surprised and VERY happy to see her give Bridget an ass kicking.

    So many things are pilling up on Luca's shoulders... I think he'll probably succeed in curing the curse, but I'm curious as to how much he'll lose in the process of saving everyone.

    1. Luca does have A LOT on his plate right now, but it can only help that Maeve is alive and well. As for how much he'll lose, well only time will tell. (...Cause I haven't even decided how mean I'm going to be yet! Haha.)

      Thanks for reading, Cece! =D

  4. Oh dear, Bridget is trouble! I hope she winds up getting her just desserts!

    I'm rather concerned about what will happen to Luca and Maeve, I'm glad she survived but if Luca is going to go back to Atticus with the evidence about the plague I fear there will be consequences for the two of them over the death flower.

    1. Bridget is definitely adding another wrinkle to Luca's plan, but don't worry. I can guarantee you she will end up paying for it. >;)

      And yeah, there will be consequences for Luca. I just haven't decided what yet, lol.

      Thanks Ali, for the lovely comment! =) I really appreciate it.

  5. I wouldn't have expected anything less from Bridget. That will be a bad bad bad relationship and he is caught. Unless he cures the illness, then no one will care that he was off a week.

  6. Hm, will Emily's kid count for Luca's five? As in, will he help her raise it? And will Bridget be pregnant too?

    This is great. <3

  7. I feel like this whole Bridget thing is going to come back and bite Luca in the ass. Men never learn. Haha. I'm so glad Maeve is ok and I REALLY hope Luca ends up with her.