juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
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Ghost and Aaron: Master List | Next Update

Long update is long. It would be longer, but my brain has taken a sudden turn towards completely inoperable and so the second storybit will have to wait until I can get that sorted out. Instead, you get pictures. Tons and tons of pictures. It took a while to find the stopping point this time but, having done so? Yeah, I love this update, too.

Ghost, sleeping
To open: mostly just a picture.
(But Ghost and sleep is a heavy theme here, and it is a pretty picture.)

Cornelius and Gertrude bond
Cornelius and Gertrude bond over the fact that they're both dead.
(Go with what you know, right?)

Gertrude is everyone's clever great-aunt, friendly but witty. Cornelius is a narcissistic and mean-tempered, but intelligent—except when he misses the things right in front of his nose. So while Gertrude approaches the "Oh goodness me, you're also dead!" conversation with a bit of irony, Cornelius, well, he considers it perfectly valid bonding material.

Cornelius and Gertrude are getting along well these days...
The ghosts have been getting along well these days, but...
Cornelius is the roadblock to a true friendship. He's sort of an ass.

Aaron curled around Ghost
While the ghosts watch TV, the boys sleep.
And Aaron takes care of Ghost.

Ghost may not yet have told Aaron of his troubles, but Aaron has, consciously or otherwise, picked up on them. He doesn't understand Ghost's nightmares and knows of no better way to fend them off than to hold Ghost close—but that helps more than he knows. When Aaron is there, Ghost nightmares are gentler.

That morning, Aaron spends a few minutes with Ghost
The next morning, Aaron interrupts Ghost's painting, just to say I love you.
The scene for this is the storybit down below.

Ghost went to make cookies, and, well
And then Ghost wandered off to bake cookies.
Now I know Ghost is absent-minded, but absent-minded enough to set the stove on fire? Impressive.

Ghost notices the fire
Not quite absent-minded enough not to notice the blaze, though.

The boys share a freakout in front of the blaze
Aaron jumps off the computer at the sound of the alarm, and the boys freak out together.

The boys sharing a glance that says:
As a firefighter puts out the blaze, they share a glance that says, "We can't afford this."

The damage
And they can't. The stove is trashed, and after a lot of thought they decide to upgrade rather than simply replace it.
The new stove is nice, but unless Aaron gets a raise, they might not be able to pay the bills this month.

(In line with the game's accelerated time scale, I generally view in-game weeks as equivalent to real-world months. The timeline gets a bit screwy—the "next day" sometimes isn't precisely that, but really none of it needs to be precise. The overall story is there, and gaps in the timeline are filled by backstory, written scenes, and the minutiae of daily life.)

They shoved the destroyed stove into the garage
The ruined stove they shove into the garage...
...which is where they shove most junk. See the dead TV from the last fire?

The other half of the junk room in the garage
Here's the other half of the junk corner in the garage.
I'm actually quite in love with the clutter piled out there.

Which was more than enough excitement for one day.

Aaron, he of great grace and maturity
Aaron, the next morning: a paragon of maturity and grace.

Ghost, painting
Ghost, hard at work at a painting, stumbles upon mastery of the craft.
Not that he'd believe anyone who told him as much. But his passion for his art outweighs his insecurities.

Aaron recounts grand events
Aaron gets a call from a random townie acquaintance.
"Yeah, my boyfriend tried to burn down the house yesterday. Baking cookies. What can I say, man. It's a skill."

Not long later Aaron heads to work and...

Oh for the love of...
Oh for the love of.

This third arrest kepts him one day further from a promotion and puts the boys one day closer to late bills and repossessed furniture. Fortunately, the next day Aaron's work hours go off without a hitch, and he finally earns another promotion—and with it, a substantial bonus. Thanks to that break, the boys are able to pay their bills, Ghost doesn't have to sell off paintings (which he hates to do), and Aaron's klepto treasure trove too remains safe. There's a catch, though. Aaron is now working a night shift.

An average night for Cornelius
Speaking of night shifts: this is an average evening for Cornelius.
Why do ghosts need to exercise? Why do they sweat? Honestly, I couldn't say.

The next day, in the transition from dayshift to nightshift, Aaron has almost a full day off—and he knows exactly how he wants to spend it.

The next morning, Aaron was all over Ghost
As soon as he woke up, Aaron was all over Ghost.
Ghost, unfortunately, needed to eat and take care of other chores.

Ghost smiles at Aaron in passing
So Aaron watched TV for a bit and stayed out of Ghost's hair.
I think it's adorable when the boys greet each other in passing.

But as soon as Ghost had eaten...
But not long after Ghost had eaten, Aaron was there again.
It wasn't seduction so much as "Hey, Ghost, let's fuck," but sometimes—

I don't think Ghost minds, though
That's more than enough. They lock themselves in the bedroom for the afternoon.

Riley pays a visit
After that, Riley pays Ghost a visit.

Riley is Tomi Dalton's partner, but the relationship isn't always a smooth one. Riley is desperate for love, but Tomi is more interested in play—so while they usually make it work, neither of them is quite faithful and it's not the relationship that Riley is looking for in the long run. Yeah, most all of the sims in my town have a bit of a story. >.> What can I say? At least it's at sane levels for everyone but Aaron and Ghost.

Aaron naps before his night shift
Aaron meanwhile took a nap in order to readjust his schedule for a night shift.

Ghost recounts the fire
While they hang out, Ghost recounts the fire and Riley tells him, "That is why I never cook."

(And he doesn't. Emily was the household cook; since she moved out, they most live on microwave meals. No one else in the household has a very good grasp of "prepare, heat, don't burn to an inedible crisp.") So while I'm rambling on about Riley...

Riley, with and without glasses
Here's a proper view of him, with and without glasses.

Riley has horrific fashion sense and unflattering hair and thick glasses and he really isn't much to look at—except that in his more natural state, sans-glasses and with his hair wet (no one can resist the sprinkler!), he's actually quite lovely. But he has no idea. Riley is a brilliant boy, but malcontent and insecure, too easily lead by his heart. He's not the most colorful or memorable of his household, but I miss him, too.

Anyhow. Less talk, more pictures.

Aaron runs off to work
When Aaron wakes up, he has just a moment to say hi to Riley and goodbye to Ghost before running to work...
In, er, an interesting outfit. There's very little which doesn't flatter Aaron, but this comes close.
"I know the outfit looks ridiculous," Ghost tells Riley, "but you have no idea how hard he worked to earn it."

Aaron is indeed working pretty damn hard. Harder than his boss knows—because he doesn't overexert himself at work; what's impressive instead is the shit he'll put up with, the exercise he's getting in, the recommended literature he's remembering to read, and his complacent acceptance of his bad luck with the cops. Especially considering he's doing all of that when he would rather just bum around with Ghost, as he used to.

Gertrude musing:
Gertrude muses over whether or not that poor boy will be arrested, again.
Not this time! Over the next few days, Aaron earned another promotion.

But right now, Ghost wishes that Aaron were just bumming around the house. They'd be broke, but Aaron would be there, and Ghost could use some time hanging out with his boyfriend. Aaron's adapted well to his new work hours but Ghost, not so much. He's sleeping like shit and trying to keep busy so that he doesn't feel like he's just waiting around for Aaron to wake up or get off work. A few days pass. While Aaron sleeps, Ghost goes to the park to kill time. Aaron wakes early and stops by so he can see his boy before work.

(Yeah, I was lying about the "less talk" thing.)

Ghost isn't doing so well, these days
Ghost just isn't doing so well, these days.
(He's been stealing Aaron's sweatshirt—the first time, because he was cold; now, because it's Aaron's.)

Aaron does help, though
Having Aaron there helps a lot, though.

Aaron runs off to work
But before long, Aaron had to run to work.
Wearing ... hell, I don't even know. Clearly, his boss is sadistic and has poor fashion sense.

Aaron chats with Gertrude
In the nights after work, Aaron waits up with the ghosts until Ghost awakes.
He hangs out with Gertrude and tells her the good news about "I love you"s...
and she immediately leads the conversation towards the bedroom. Aaron's expression mirrors mine own.

The first meal Ghost cooks after trying to burn down the house
The first meal Ghost makes after trying to burn down the house...
and it comes out wonderfully, and it's his favorite dish. Success!

The boys have early mornings and late afternoons together, their schedules split by opposing cycles of sleep and work. Ghost has been having a lot of friends over to fill the empty house with a bit of noise. Mouse visits from across the street, and:

Mouse pays a visit to Ghost
Aaron has just enough time to insult her family before running to work.
So what else is new?

Ghost curled around Aaron
When Aaron and Ghost manage to catch a nap together, Ghost clings to Aaron.

Ghost, sleeping poorly in bed alone.
But most nights now he's sleeping alone—and not sleeping well.

More nightmares, half-remembered but no less stressful for that fact, waking him frequently through the night, and it's near impossible to ever get a good night's sleep. I think I've finally figured out what's causing this spate of nightmares, but whether that gets Ghost any closer to resolving them is a different issue.

Aaron gets to the end of his work week, but the boys are still on opposite schedules. During the night, as Ghost sleeps restlessly and Aaron is up all night with nothing to do...

That evening, Aaron worries over Ghost's sleeping problems...
Aaron worries over these problems with each of the ghosts.
(I guess when your day begins at dusk, there's not many other folk to turn to.)

Ghost, obsessing over a theme
As soon as he wakes up, Ghost starts on a new canvas.
He's obsessed with lighthouses, trying again and again to express the image in his head.
Yes, it's connected to his dreams. He works without pause until he finishes the painting.

The boys spend the morning watching TV together
The boys spend some time that afternoon hanging out and watching TV...

But before long, Aaron needs to sleep.
But before too long, Aaron gets tired and goes to bed.

At this point I started to worry about my boys, trapped on opposing schedules, haunted by sleep and dreams and distance and worries—but:

As soon as Aaron woke up, Ghost came to him
Just as soon as Aaron woke that evening, Ghost came to him.

Ghost rarely initiates, but when he does...
Ghost rarely initiates, but when he does—well, he's irresistible.

I just liked Aaron's expression, here
This one may just be a pretty picture of Aaron and his beautiful eyes.

The boys spent the whole evening together
Aaron's stomach was growling, and he didn't care.
The boys spent the whole evening together, making love.

Midway through, Ghost led Aaron outside
For the second round, Ghost led Aaron out into the cool night air...
and under the glow of stolen lights they made love again on a park bench Aaron picked up at the cemetery.

At the end of the long evening
Aaron didn't eat until the end of the long evening, when Ghost had finally exhausted himself and gone to bed.
And they were both happy, and Ghost slept, for a change, more or less peacefully.

I can't understate the level of autonomy the boys have, and it just amazes me. From Aaron reading books for work (which none of my other sims have ever done) to rearranging his sleep schedule, from conversations to long hours spent having sex ... they are so self-directed. (Fully disclosed, my involvement is limited to: triggering woohoo (once they've autonomously maxed out the attraction tree—the autuonomous woohoo mod I was using is just too buggy to function), canceling activities from queue (rarely, and often only after they've been at the activity for a while, like ending game-playing or TV-watching), and sending them out of the house. All the rest is them. I do, however, have a number of mods, from dangerous stoves to ghost reaction remover, to say nothing of Awesomemod, which impact gameplay and sim behavior.)

And all that autonomy makes them so real. I don't know how bored you all are with their daily lives—but I'm not. I expected that much of my fascination would pass about the time that the boys formed a stable relationship, but there are enough ongoing events that their lives and my fascination both continue apace. After all of my prior angst, that's a relief—but it never ceases to amaze me. They are so real to me, and their love is beautiful, and so I can't even begrudge them the fact that while I play them I can't manage to tear myself away and spend time playing other sims.

I suspect that there will be some more writing to come, eventually, on Ghost and his dreams. When probably depends on how he deals with them, but there's more to be said, there. When I write about Aaron, it's usually his backstory, because I will never have the chance to photograph that—but Aaron is often easy to show: his personality is very visible in his actions and his body language. Ghost, however, lives in his mind, and begs a lot of writing so that his mind has some visibility. He's quieter, he internalizes, and his dreamworld is complex and terrifying; his sexuality and his role in this relationship is also more internal than external, though there's some evidence of his initiative every now and then, as there is here.

The writing for this time, though, is as promised above:

Storybit 03: Aaron says "I love you."
300 words (amazing, I know!)
Takes place at the same time as this picture from this update.
No warnings, there's just some romance.

* * * * *

"I love you too, you know," says Aaron. "I didn't say it last night because I didn't want to sound like I was repeating you. I'm not saying it because you said it. I'm saying it because I love you."

Ghost smiles and squeezes Aaron's hands in his own, and he says, "I'm glad."

It's bigger than that. Ghost has been waiting to say those words for weeks now, waiting through the first flurry of passion, waiting through their first big fight, because he wanted to be sure. For him, those words are a promise. They are as solemn as a vow. Aaron has been waiting to say them until Ghost said them first, because he couldn't say them on his own. Waiting, because the last people to have his love did him no good at all. Waiting, because he was scared shitless.

Aaron's not scared now. He kisses Ghost and then wraps him in a swift, firm hug, burying his face in the crook of Ghost's neck and breathing deep the scent of his bare skin. "Love you," he says again. "That's all." He pulls away and they stand, smiling at each other.

"I'm craving cookies," Ghost says after a few moments pass. "Chocolate chip sound good?"

"Absolutely." Aaron's grin overtakes his features—he shines with it, youthful and fresh but older than he was ten minutes ago. "Yeah, that'd be great."

And when Ghost nearly burns down the kitchen, deaf to the kitchen timer as he thinks back on a confession made half an hour past, Aaron can't even find it in his heart to be angry.

Ghost and Aaron: Master List | Next Update

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
juushika

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