Aaron Fineman paced the kitchen, his heart beating hard against his ribs.
Siobhan sat in the dining room with Nate, and it seemed like their mutual friend just couldn’t take a hint and leave, no matter how many times Aaron said he was tired and pretended to yawn. While the two of them spoke, Aaron wrung his hands and felt in his pocket for the little velvet box. It had been burning a hole in his pocket all day. If only Nate would leave him with his girlfriend, he could finally have a chance.’
He put it on the counter and opened it so that the gold and diamond ring could shine. If only he could have paid double and had it teach him how to pop the question. No matter what he came up with, it sounded stupid to his mind. He’d tried writing what he’d say the day before, but he had only produced paper balls to throw away. It was better if it came from the heart anyway, wasn’t it?
Footsteps sounded by the door, and Aaron quickly snapped up the box and put it in his pocket, just in time for Siobhan to walk in. He pretended to be cleaning the sink, and just shot her a quick smile.
How would he ever convince her to say yes?
Just looking at her made his heart leap and he felt so lucky, so significant; and at the same time he felt so inadequate.
Siobhan walked up behind him and put her arms around him, resting her cheek on his back. It relaxed him a little. Even if he couldn’t find it in him to ask today, she was here. That should be enough. A feeling of calm washed over him, made him almost sleepy in his contentment.
“Nate’s leaving in a little moment,” Siobhan said.
Aaron immediately tensed up again. Yes, this was it.
Soon after, Nate walked into the kitchen. He said goodbye, and reminded Siobhan about the work assignment they had been discussing. They worked in the same office on the same project. “We don’t have all year,” Nate said, and then he left.
“Oh gods, he’s so on my case about our work,” Siobhan said after he’d left, leaning up against the counter. “I know the report is due soon, but…”
Her shoulders sank and she looked at him with eyes that were blank with emotions. “I don’t want to-” Her voice broke. “Damn that report…”
What Aaron did next, he didn’t think about. He got the ring box from his pocket and held it out to her. It was like one, fluid motion when he took her hand and fell to his knees. His mouth spoke on its own:
“Siobhan, marry me.”
She looked horrified. For a whole, miserable minute he knelt in front of her. His knee started to ache and a hard lump settled in his stomach, making him nauseous.
Finally, she spoke.
“Oh… Oh, Aaron, I… I need to think.”
He flew up and pulled her into an embrace that she reciprocated. Thank goodness that she didn’t shy away from him. She still held him like she always did, only now he could feel her heartbeat fluttering against his chest.
“It’s okay,” he said. “If you don’t want to, it’s okay, but if we do this then…” He pulled out of the hug and stroked her cheek. “You can quit that job and stop being miserable about it. I can support you and you can do anything you want. You can focus on your music.”
She let out a sob and pulled away.
“Oh goodness me I hate my job.”
“I know, that’s why I want to help…”
“I need a moment,” she said, taking a step back when he tried to touch her. “I need a moment right now to… oh Aaron this is just not… Excuse me.”
Siobhan rushed out of there and he thought he saw tears. He put the box into his pocket, wondering if he had messed it all up. Had his instincts been wrong? She seemed like the one, but now he suddenly wasn’t so sure. Of course, he would love her even if she said no. There had always been something inside of him pushing him forward, into her arms. It would take more than her denying his proposal to get him to dump her.
Only now did he notice that he was shaking. He tried taking deep breaths, but it kept coming. Waves of nausea rolling over him. Taking a deep breath, he left the kitchen to find Siobhan, knowing that only being with her would settle this feeling. She was in the dining room. When she heard his footsteps, she spun and held out her arms for an embrace. She cried softly against his shoulder. The feeling of calm and comfort that he always felt with her settled over him.
“It’s okay,” he whispered to her. “We don’t have to marry yet. If at all. You can move in and quit your job and-“
“I-I can’t,” she said, her sobs growing harder. “Oh goodness, I can’t do it, Aaron.”
“I know. I understand…”
She shook her head. “You don’t. You really don’t…”
One of her hands let go of him and he looked up at her. There was a sudden, sharp pain in his shoulder and he tore away from her. He pushed her away and opened his mouth to ask about it, but she had a knife in her hand. Then a shot rang out, so loudly he thought he would go deaf. A stranger pushed him away, raising a gun and aimed it at Siobhan. Siobhan whose knife dripped with blood.
“Step back,” the stranger said, still aiming at Siobhan. “We’re with the police.”
“Like hell you are,” Siobhan growled. “Out of my-”
The door swung open and a voice called for Siobhan. In one of the most surreal moment of Aaron’s life, his eyes met Nate’s. Then they met his gun.
The stranger was faster than him. She dived out of the way, pushing Aaron to the ground all the while firing her gun at his friend. Nate ran for cover by the doorway. The stranger fired a couple of rounds at Siobhan who had to dive for cover too. When the two of them were out of the way, the stranger moved the dinner table, knocking over the lamp. She dived for cover and dragged Aaron with her.
She crouched down, gun at the ready.
“W-who? What?” Aaron asked her, but just then she flew up, firing again and he had to cover his ears.
Were gunshots this loud in real life?
The stranger ducked again, reloading her gun. “Aaron Fineman, I presume. I’m Dani,” she said, meeting Aaron’s gaze just as a couple of bullets flew past them and hit the wall. “Stay down. The table won’t really stop bullets.” Then she raised her voice: “Milena! Help, damnit!”
Aaron didn’t have time to wonder who Milena was, because just then another shower of bullets flew over his head. One of them flew clean through the table and a flower of blood started spreading on his shoulder.
Gunshots are so loud, he thought.
Dani swore under her breath, pushing him back and pressing a hand to the wound. She fired blindly over the table. Aaron couldn’t keep awake. It didn’t even hurt, but it was like the entire room was spinning.
His brain slowly shut down.
He fell to the ground and thought he saw another stranger come in the door. The most recent stranger waved a hand and Nate flew through the room, hitting a wall. But that didn’t make sense because nobody touched him. Aaron tried asking Dani, but no words would come.
The last thing Aaron thought he saw was Nate somehow hovering over the floor. Then he passed out.
“Milena! Help, damnit!” Dani shouted.
Milena let the energy surge through her and walked through the door, throwing her power at the first person she saw. The man flew through the air and hit the wall. Then the woman tried to jump at her and Milena threw her to the ground with a flick of her wrist. Dani was huddled behind a table, holding her hand to the wound of a man who was lying face-down on the floor, and her hands were covered in blood.
She didn’t have time to ask. The woman was on the floor, but the man had gotten up and was grabbing for his gun. Releasing the woman, Milena focused her Talent and threw all her power at the man. His feet dangled over the ground, as she pushed on his throat.
A well-known feeling surged through her entire body, a thrill like no other.
Stop it, Milena, she thought. You don’t want to kill him.
But then he was a murderer, an assassin, hired to kill a harmless programmer who was bleeding out on the floor. She took in deep mouthfuls of air, concentrating her power, and watched the colour drain from his face.
A small voice inside of her said that it was wrong, but it wasn’t loud enough to break through the rush of power.
“Mills, let go,” Dani said; her voice, too, faded to the background.
Part of her wanted to stop this right now, but another part didn’t. It had been months since she had really flexed her powers, really used them beyond just practice.
She was hyperventilating, increasing her force second by second. Her head was starting to go light at the thrill, and then suddenly, a voice broke through the rush.
“That’ll do, Hartfield.”
Milena felt Janus’ hand close around her wrist and she immediately let go. Their opponent fell to the floor in a heap, gasping for breath. She took a deep breath, releasing her Talent. The power slowly left her body, leaving her head feeling like it did after a night of binge drinking. Neither of her companions said anything as they handcuffed the assassins and tended to Fineman’s wound.
“I-I’m sorry,” Milena said after a while. “I didn’t even think, I… I lost control.”
Her breath came in little gasps and when Janus stood to put a hand on her shoulder, she struggled to look him in the eye.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“Go get some sleep, Hartfield,” Janus said, leading her out of the door. “There’s a guestroom upstairs. We’ll get help for Fineman.”
Walking up the stairs, she felt sick. Images of her opponent’s face slowly turning blue kept haunting her, and she had to stop on the landing and press her hands to her eyes to stop them. She wasn’t supposed to let herself get carried away like that. She wasn’t supposed to feel thrill at the thought of hurting or killing. There were many good reasons why nearly half of the League of Talented thought she should have been locked up forever.
For now, she had to ignore it. She took several deep breaths, chased away the images that pressed on her, and then she found the door to the guestroom. It was a small room with a single bed, a green desk, and curtains. It was all very clean and smelled like it had been vacuumed recently.
Milena kicked off her shoes and curled up on the bed, on top of the covers. It felt weird and intrusive, walking all over this man’s house while he was downstairs bleeding out, but they were going to stay for a while. Hopefully, he would be okay. Whatever that meant when he had been nearly killed by two of his friends.
While lying on the bed in his spare room, Milena promised herself that she would make up for her losing control. She didn’t know why those people were here or why somebody wanted him dead, but she would find out.
Author’s note: There ya go – the very first chapter of my rewrite. It’s been a hard couple of months for me so this took a lot longer to get ready than I thought. I’m sorry about that. This chapter has a lot of home-made poses so there’s a distinct possibility of a posepack in the future, but really what was hard was the writing and the editing I’ve done. The first version of this was SO BAD I didn’t even feel like editing it.
Anyway, on to changes between this and the old version:
- No more timetravel! Good riddance, it was bothering me. Every time I wrote a conflict I realised that timetravel could solve it way easily. So no, there’s no more of that. It poses some challenges, but it solves way more problems than it creates.
- Characters do more stuff! In the first story it always bothered me how everyone called Milena super awesome and powerful and stuff, but we never actually got to see much of it. I let her have this first chapter to show that she can kick ass.
- Aaron is called Fineman now and he’s a programmer. I can easier see him making a killing off of that rather than him just working at a charitable organisation. Also, Aaron is dark-skinned instead of green. I want normal-skinned sims all around so that it’ll have greater impact if I decide to have some sims that are non-normal. Other non-standard coloured Sims also have normal skincolours now.
- Siobhan’s name is now spelled properly. I looked it up, and EA’s spelling of ‘Siobahn’ is wrong, but a common mistake with the name. I was tired of red lines in my Word document, so I changed it.
- Before there was both my magic system (the Talents) and also the standard EA magic system which Janus used. That has been scrapped and now there’s only the Talents and no other kinds of magic.
- It’s not clear from this chapter, but now every Talented One can access all five Talents. Milena isn’t just a Fighter now. Instead, it’s very hard to learn to use them, and so the Talented Ones generally choose one Talent to specialise in.
- Also not clear but important to note: Using the Talents now requires people to drink a potion for it to work.
- Guns! I didn’t use them before because I thought it would be silly to have both guns and magic powers, but I realised that the Talented Ones would still be using guns. No Talent can really stop a bullet, and only few Talented can effective defend themselves against a gun-wielding opponent (Milena being one of them).
I think that’s about it. Anyway, I hope you liked it and want to see more. If there’s anything else that’s not clear from the chapter or the stories, feel free to drop me a question and then I’ll see you for the next one 🙂