Aaron felt no closer to the truth after talking to Milena, and it didn’t help that she seemed to avoid him after that. Every time he tried to pull her aside for the following week, she excused herself because she was busy and she hoped that he would be patient – she would tell him everything very soon.
She didn’t. Every day for a whole week, she ran off while he was left with doctor King. For every day he just sat around and pretended to not care that he had no explanations for the sudden attack or her powers or anything, he grew more frustrated.
Around the fifth day, he started planning a small investigation of his own, and on the eighth day, he finally saw an opportunity.
He sat in the living room, half-heartedly scanning the lines of a book Sally had recommended, when he heard the very same woman talking to another police officer. She told him that she would be out for an interrogation of their suspects and that she would like him to look out for Aaron.
He put down the book, crept out of his seat and he looked out the window just in time to see Sally walking down the road. The officer she had been talking to was outside the living room, sitting guard like he did every day.
“Doc just left,” the man said. “She said she’d be back in a couple of hours.”
“Oh, I see.” Aaron started feeling tense. He could still see Sally, but she walked with long strides and would be gone soon. “Uh, can I go outside for a moment?”
The officer raised an eyebrow. “You’re supposed to stay safe in the house.”
The sound of the doctor’s heels against the sidewalk were disappearing.
“I need a smoke,” Aaron blurted out, and he saw the disbelief in the other man’s eyes. “I stopped like a year ago but with everything that’s happened… man, I need one now.”
To his relief, the officer grinned wide and nodded. “I know the feeling, man. You can probably just go into the garden – it’s okay.”
Aaron stared at him for a moment, but then he dashed past him and into the garden. The man must have noticed that it was completely fenced in with no way out. Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t seen the little whole in the fence that Aaron had been putting off fixing. It was just big enough that he could squeeze through, too.
Once he was out on the road, he ran to catch up to Sally, and he only just saw her turning a corner onto one of Durnin Valley’s smaller roads. She headed for a grey brick house that he had seen many times on walks down this street. The house was just another unanswered question. There were no uniformed cops or any cars owned by them nearby, no indication that this house was connected to the police. Of course, it could be cops dressed as civilians that he saw Sally talking to in the doorway, but then…
He crept into a bush next to the house and sat there waiting. She was in there so much longer than he imagined, but he stayed put, waiting and waiting until all his joints ached and sweat pooled on his back.
The doctor reappeared much sooner than he had expected with a stranger in tow, and she looked agitated.
“… let him get out of there?” Aaron caught the man speaking as they walked away.
“Well, he said he let him go out for a smoke.”
“The Sisters help us… He doesn’t even smoke…”
They walked away briskly until Aaron could catch no more of the conversation. His heart felt like it was about to burst out of his chest while he watched them leave. Finally, when they turned the corner, he snuck up to the door and listened. There were no sounds inside, and nobody came running when he opened the door and stepped inside.
It turned out this little house was one of the most depressing he had ever seen. The stone walls were bare on the inside as well, and the windows provided little illumination in the grey exterior. Instead, it was lit up with a few candles in the corners. The temperature was, at least, tolerable, but it still felt cold with those dull, grey colours.
What really caught his attention, though, were the bars.
Metal bars with doors blocked the way into two small cells where two figures were kept locked up. He ignored the one where Nate was resting, still remembering the gun and his callous expression, and went straight for Siobhan. The woman who had been his world for the better part of a year.
She was in a pink sweater and light trousers and only socks, and she looked so vulnerable. When he walked nearer, her head snapped up, and when he met her eyes, it all flooded back. Candlelit dinners and picnics and romantic dances in his living room. The way her lips creased when he said something funny. The emotions, the memories, were overwhelming and sudden.
“Aaron,” she said, her voice crushing him with another wave of feelings. “Aaron, oh I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Aaron?” Nate’s voice sounded from the other cell. He smiled out at Aaron, all of the cynicism wiped from his features. It was like he’d never tried to murder him at all. “Dude, it is good to see you.”
“Are you alright?” Siobhan asked, coming up to the bars. “Oh god, after they dragged us off, I was so worried about you.”
His friends looked like they always had. Only a weak throb of pain in his shoulder reminded him that anything was amiss.
“You guys… shot me,” he managed to say.
“We… we did what?” Siobhan gasped and her eyes went blank. “Oh… oh please no.”
“That is fucked up,” Nate said from his cell, shaking his head. “I never thought they’d go so far.”
Aaron took a step back, touching a hand to his shoulder. “I was shot. There’s no doubt. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
Nate slammed a fist on the bench he sat on. “The bastards. Those utter bastards…”
“Aaron, you were shot, but it wasn’t us. You have to remember.”
His mind and his heart seemed to be having a race. Logically, he was sure he’d seen it all. Siobhan had stabbed him and then shot him. Nate had threatened him and thrown him around like a ragdoll. And yet, his heart was telling him that couldn’t be true, because he loved these people. He looked into Siobhan’s eyes and they were deep and full of emotions. He remembered the events so clearly, but he felt like it couldn’t be.
“I’m… confused,” he finally said.
“I thought for sure you’d figure it out,” Nate said. “After what you saw.”
“But I saw…” Aaron started, but Siobhan interrupted.
“You saw what that woman did to Nate, didn’t you? You know, how she… she tried to…” her voice broke.
They didn’t even have to tell him what they meant. He did see Milena using that power of hers, choking Nate.
“Yes, I saw.”
“When they can do that,” Nate said. “Is it so hard to believe that they’re messing with your head, man?”
“We would never hurt you, Aaron,” Siobhan said, drawing the attention back to her. “You have to believe us.”
“I don’t know.”
Her eyes were wet with tears. “What have they told you?”
“Only that someone wants me dead. And then she, Milena, she told me she has that ability. She said it’s just her and not the other detectives, but I don’t-”
“It’s not just her,” Nate spat out. “It’s the whole lot and they’re dangerous. They tried to kill you and now they’re making you think we’re the bad guys. They tried to kill you – you have to try to remember. They’re not with the police.”
Aaron shook his head. “I don’t know about anything…”
Siobhan hid her face in her hands and her shoulders shook as she cried. He had to look away. When she spoke again, her voice was thick with tears:
“Ask her, Aaron. Ask that woman about her ability and ask her about what’s going on. She’ll refuse to tell you anything. She’ll say she can’t tell you anything now, and then you’ll know that we told you the truth. We’re your friends and we… I love you.”
The emotions were threatening to overwhelm him, so instead of listening to anymore, he walked out of the house. Before he left he heard Siobhan shouting for him to ask the questions. She begged him to find out the truth. He ran back to the house while trying not to cry.
With all the interrogations they had to do, Milena had no problem avoiding Aaron. Sure, she felt a stab of guilt every time he tried to ask about her Talent and she once again told him she would talk about it later, but then she just told herself that this was for the best. They learnt during the week that they could easily rule out all the people closest to him – none of them had ties to Talented Ones.
They visited his ex-girlfriend first. She was the author he had dated for a year, and she lived in a home that smelled of potpourri and laundry detergent. When they told her of Aaron’s predicament, she nearly cried and insisted on going to see him until they assured her that he was fine.
There was no ill will there, as she had nothing but good things to say about him.
“Then why would you break up?” Milena asked at one point.
“We just wanted different things.” She shrugged and explained: He was very much a family-man in the making, and she was very much not. When they realised that they were too different, they broke it off, but it was very amiable.
She asked them over and over again to wish him a good recovery and promised that she would come see how he was doing.
The former CEO of SearchCo was not quite as amiable, but didn’t seem murderous either.
“Well, yeah, he’s part of why we had to file for bankruptcy, but I wouldn’t want to kill the guy.” He sighed at their suspicious looks. “Seriously! I’m back on track. Building a new company from scratch and I’m going to take him down… I mean his company.”
Then he told them to leave or he’d sic security on them; he didn’t care if they were police or not.
Everybody else they spoke to about Aaron were much like them. They were either fairly neutral or praised him to the skies. His employees thought he was great; others in the business said he had strong morals; locals around town either didn’t know him or thought he was a nice enough guy, though a bit reclusive.
After a week of hearing nothing but nice or neutral things, Milena and the others were about to head home when Sally called.
Fineman was gone.
They rushed back to his house, only to find Sally screaming at a guard while Aaron read quietly inside the living room. He looked up at Milena and raised an eyebrow at her.
“Things are pretty intense around here,” he said. “Apparently, the guy out there thought I’d gone missing.
“Where were you?” she asked.
Aaron returned his eyes to the book. “In the back of the garden.”
His demeanour had changed, she noticed. He was a bit colder towards her than before, and there was no hint of his lovely smile. She stood watching him for a long time, and finally he looked up. “Can I help you?”
She shook her head and turned around, but he stopped her:
“What’s going on here?”
He stared at her intensely. “Two people I loved dearly suddenly tried to kill me, and nobody will tell me why. Then there’s you, some kind of superhuman who can choke people with your brain or whatever, and you won’t tell me what that’s all about.”
“It’s honestly starting to piss me off, Milena.”
She was compelled to look away. “I wish I could tell you,” she said, eyes fixed on the floor. “But I can’t. Not now.”
The springs in the sofa creaked as he got up. “Can’t you see why I’m frustrated? How can I trust you?”
“I need you to trust me on this, Aaron. If I tell you… I can’t.”
“Add to all this that you’re just about the weirdest detective I’ve ever met. You all are.”
He stood only a hands length away from her now, and her stomach became a tight knot. Then suddenly, he spoke:
“Have we… met before?” Her head shot up. He no longer looked angry, just confused. “Now that I look closer you seem familiar.”
“I don’t think so. I’m not from around here. Aaron, I…”
“But I’m sure that I’ve seen-”
“I have to go.”
She pushed past him and sped out of there; she didn’t stop until she was out in the back garden and there she pressed up against the wall of the house. Dani was calling for her from somewhere, but she kept hidden. After a while, her partner stuck her head out the door and saw her.
“Hey, Mills, there you are. We were just talking about doing some more research, so if you could-”
“I need to ask you something,” Milena said, grabbing Dani and pulling her inside.
Author’s note: Hi guuuuys, look at that 😀 I’ve published a new chapter and it hasn’t even been eight years since the last one. Weeee!
It’s always fun to have the bad guys (OR ARE THEY?!) messing with the good guys’ heads a bit, don’t you think? I also put way too much thought into dressing Siobhan and Nate for this one. I wanted them both to look really ordinary, hence loose, comfy sweaters in muted colours and Siobhan’s hairstyle being a bit more casual. But that’s how I almost always dress my Sims. I could spend all my time just dressing my characters and designing their houses (example: Aaron’s house is very much decorated like a sweet old lady’s because he’s a dork and likes cute things – I love him). Anyway, I’ve rambled way too much already. I’ll see you for the next chapter – cheeeers! 😀