Maintaining the garden is one of the highest pleasures of the morning. Meghan spends time with each and every plant, sensing that her goal will be reached soon and her bond with the them will never remain the same. She is like them, but not, and this in a way reflects her experience in life. She never has quite been able to fit in, and she has no idea who here 'peers' are. Among other women she aspires to facts more than feelings, among other scientists she answers to no board, among the plants she acquiesces to no force of nature. How odd to find a parallel for everything she is in this experience.
Tomatoes are so forward! Meghan didn't behave like that or say things this way when she was just a sprout! She's going to miss this back and forth fairly soon, but better things await her. She marches up and down the vibrant ranks informing everyone that there's going to be some changes around here, but she promises not to forget the important things like water, available sunlight and square feet of soil.
She promises to release lady bugs soon for the plants dealing with infestations, and she's got sprinklers on order from the horticulture center. Everything's going to be alright.
It would be nice if the Kona bean bush wasn't so concerned about it's size compared to the tree saplings a few plants over. “I really don't think you're supposed to be that tall so quickly.”
She pauses for a moment. “Yes, yes I know that coffee plants are technically trees but these things take time. Okay?”
She nods. “Good.”
Always nice to have a chat, but onto more important things.
There is a rhythm in the house now, the days are all quiet focus and the afternoons are up for grabs- Dustin makes improvements to the few possessions he shares with the love of his life and take things a day at a time. He knows that she wouldn't be with him for convenience, at least he tries to tell himself that. The way she reacted when things fell apart between she and Loki was sometimes a reminder to him that she didn't have a clear understanding of how relationships worked. He can't stand the thought of not talking to her again after a breakup, or the thought of a breakup at all. But the sense of energy in the house lately tells him that she's working towards a new goal- something she's not telling him.
There haven't been many changes to the overall situation between the two as a couple, though he's admittedly kept some distance from Meghan in the past few months and it doesn't seem like she can tell he's pulled back. He's still just happy when she does need something that he can help her with, but both of them are actually petty independent so it's hard to say if they are just being emotionally cautious or there's and unspoken disagreement.
Mostly she seems to need to be alone, and there are moments, however fleeting- where he can see a regret in her eyes as she looks at him or he notices a hesitation in her voice that wasn't there when they were younger. He wants to be there for her, but when will she reciprocate? Can he ever expect it?
Meghan, for her part, spends longer than she needs to engrossed in her work. Honestly relationship or not she would always have to have a project or something to be better because she touched it, and gardening is quickly becoming a hobby that has the double purpose of aiding her in her research. She loves the feeling of the wet soil under her fingers and the sight of delicate shoots of new grass that sprout each morning.
Dustin was supposed to leave an hour ago to work at the fairgrounds, so when she makes a unique discovery she doesn't think to include him on it- someone should record a rare borealis in a town that's geographically this far to the south!
She finds herself staring, mutely. Starlight shores. Is this phenomenon a part of it's namesake?
But when she stumbles back inside exhausted from a long day in the garden and doing... whatever else it was that she had done after dusk, he's already long gone and she realizes belatedly that they didn't speak to each other at all that day either. She winds up working straight through the night and until the sun dawns on a new morning.
She's nearly there. If they aren't even going to speak to each other then she should be working on something that matters, like pilfering ad revenue. It hurts though, to think that he could be fine with things being this way. It felt like there was an actual ache in her chest when they were near each other and not speaking, but he deserved better than what she was able to be right now.
She chooses to bide her time.
As the days wear on she does work in some research on her own crops, which helps her discover why some apple breeds are much smaller than their near identical counterparts. She has a lot to learn- but does finally make what she considers to be a great enough discovery. This may just put her over the top.
Also, does it matter that a machine capable of producing this much visible radiation is near the kitchen, where they eat?
One sunny summer day she takes a quick trip to the labs with her research data and specimens-
And she comes out feeling much more refreshed, but so overwhelmed. Her feet still feel rooted to the ground. What had she been doing with her life before this? Trying to force the world to become something compatible with her, when she could be trying to find her place in the world that was already here.
This visit is enlightening for a variety of reasons, and she feels a combination giddiness and soul-chilling dread. What if, now that she's ready for things to change, it's fundamentally too late?
Then I will research why. She tells herself. She's never been a quitter anyways. The worst thing that could happen is that she finds out the truth, so at least now some of her resolve has been reawakened.
Dustin takes longer than usual to get home sometimes, he was making good money from tips and was able to purchase something for himself that's he'd had his eye on for a very long time. The rain doesn't faze him anymore, he works in it constantly.
He grabs a bite of carnival food at the festival and then heads out to the junkyard to make a very important purchase.
Well, important to him, by the way.
He'd wanted an old car to fix up for a long as he could remember- long before he saw the broken down jalopy that was laid to rest on the front lawn of Meghan's father's place. This was going to be a hobby, and a way to help him work though things that worried him. He had run out of things to immediately upgrade around the house.
Hmm. The integrity of this door is not at all what he expects, but not a lot of rust comes off when he knocks on the weathered metal surface. But the more he tries to settle on this new project the more he can't think of anything that's not Meghan.
He still has the feeling of limbo- that he's waiting for things he cannot control to become better without his interference. There's a resignation but also a patient hope in the second year they've spent together. He trusts Meghan and he knows that she's been working very hard. Both of them stay out of each other's way and talk about the minor things, but it makes him miss their conversations of the past where she was excited for the future.
He's starting to wonder if he needs to talk to her about breaking up. He doesn't want to, but he doesn't want her to be a part of something she does not ultimately want. What if her new project is a new place without him? He shakes his head, thinking that she does love him after all, and that's a dumb thought.
But he can't shake it out completely.
Meghan makes it home and gets some leftovers from the fridge, then works a bit online until her eyes cross completely. Dustin has been working outside even since he bought that thing, and she's just been grinding. Since when did money matter this much?
Life is difficult as an adult.
But when Dustin walks in the door the anxiety she's been feeling so much fades, just like that. She's always been terrified of change and yet had to grasp the idea: isn't the future worth a little bit of risk?
He just feels right to her, and always had.
“I miss you lately.” She whispers into his shoulder, and his embrace tightens.
“Meghan, I-” He starts, but stops himself on the last beat.
“Hmm?” She sighs happily, glad that he is everything she remembers from before she had been changed. She knew he was, but still. The warmth of his response proves it.
“Nothing, I'm just happy to see you. I'm just glad we came out here together. I wanted you to know that I'm here for you, even if...” He can't finish the sentence.
She smiles and give hims a little kiss on the lips. “Everything's okay now. I finally got the cure- I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't scary to make a decision like this, but I'm glad I'm out here too. With you. So stop looking at me like I want different things than you do.”
“You don't believe me.” She guesses.
His smile is shy, which just looks odd on him. He's never shy. “Well I love being able to hold you, is it really difficult to imagine that I want more? Do you think I'm being selfish?”
Her mind flashed back to a very long time ago, one of her most pressing thoughts- that everything she wanted made her a burden on her mother, who left, her father, who hated her. “We're in this together.” She says clearly. “It's not selfish, or if it is, we both are.”
She slides her arms out of his embrace and struggles with the next part. “It's probably.. better if I tell you everything, but I still can't, not yet. I know you Dustin, and you're nothing like him. All I can say now is that I can't live in the shadow of my father anymore, afraid as if he's some phantom. Afraid of marriage, afraid of intimacy, or of living my life.'
“It still feels right, when the two of us are together. I want.. I mean if you still want to-” She freezes up. This is way more difficult that she'd expected it to be. Sweat beads out on her palms. What was she saying!? Her voice sounds foreign to her.
He's getting an idea of where she's going with this, and so far silence is working for him. Every time she talks like she's glad they're together it makes him want to throw away every ounce of pride and ask her again. He steels himself for this to be a conversation about some mundane topic and not about their future together. But his heart is pounding erratically. Plus, she's nervous. How cute.
Her next change of topic nearly makes sense- she's clearly not ready to say whatever it was she was trying to.
“Do you remember, after we got the first ferry out of town and the world was all bright and wonderful and we thought nothing could stop us from achieving our dreams, even though we had no idea what they even were yet- and then after the worst day ever filled with no real food and mean people we had to sleep in the damp cold on the wooden benches at that dog park in Mayfield Springs?”
He grinned. “Yeah. But we bounced back from that. Hot dogs at the fair. Our first non date. You were like a big-eyed little puppy looking at everything with wonder, happy and afraid and cautious and adventurous all at the same time.” His smile fades and his tone becomes much more serious. “My life changed when I met you. When I realized I had gotten you back. You were this weird quirky girl who I always looked for in town because you'd play any game, can you imagine my surprise when after you had been gone for years I found out you had still been there all along?”
She smiled a shy smile. “I don't think you know what it felt like for me when I first heard your voice from the other side of that door. Nothing good came through that door. Nothing. And that all ended when you were there, tearing it away.”
His gray eyes searched her face. Looking for more secrets to be revealed. She felt like she was telling him everything, even though she really wasn't. He was waiting for her to say more.
She bends down for a second and retrieves something, feeling her hands shake a little. This was how it felt. The hope and expectation. The fear.
She notices the old familiarity of the pangs of hunger and for once is grateful for it. A reminder of everything that they've survived together. A reminder that every moment is precious.
“We still need to work hard together but -I love you Dustin and-”
“Uhm, Meghan?” Dustin is nearly speechless. Half of him had expected this conversation to be about breaking up, or- he had feared it was. This doesn't seem real.
She shrugs. “I did say I wanted the same things, but I was scared. Assuming that we couldn't overcome... our difficulties. And I want to ask you something important.”
“So ask me.”
"Don't interrupt me- I'm trying to propose here! I mean, I'm saying yes I want to marry you. Do you still want-?” Her voice is a rush, then a waver, even her bravery has limitations. “Would you be my husband?”
It takes him a few moments to find his voice. “Of course? I'd always want to be with you. But- there's not a hidden camera anywhere...”
She huffs and he laughs a little. “Sorry, it just doesn't seem real.” He reaches out for her hands. “And you want this. You're sure?”
She nods, blinking. “I want this. But only with you. And you have to be patient with me-”
If you were to ask Dustin to recall this moment later on it would be romanticized; the deep conversations and how irresistible they found each other to be. In the reality of the moment, though...
There was possibly some jumping up and down like a little kid. Every day with his best friend, just like he had been hoping for, been working towards. Every day with Meghan.
It's impossible for her not to feel his happiness. But she's surprised in a way- there's no way she could make someone this happy.
“You're probably the only person I'd ever be willing to do this with.” She says again. All the fear and terror of the unknown fades when she looks at him. It can't possibly be this easy? But it feels like it can. “I wanted... to be right when we talked about this.”
“I know. So let me be a part of your life from now own, okay?” He asks urgently.
And she rises up to embrace him one more time. “You always are, anyways.”
“Uhm, could we not have anything fancy though? I just want to be with you everyday, we don't have to have a party right?”
“No, I don't mind parties but we don't need to have one.” He affirms. “You're new hair is different by the way.” He reaches up to pass his fingertips through it. “Are you keeping it?”
She shrugs. “I didn't realize it was any different.”
“I wonder what else is different?” He says moving to kiss her.
They stay up for hours after that, talking. Both of them are exhausted but that doesn't matter very much at the moment.
“How soon?” He asks her. “I'm not trying to be pushy. We could wait a year. That's common enough.”
She smiles a little. “Real soon. I feel like we've put everything on hold because I had that condition, disease, I don't know what to call it but I'm thankful to have my life back. If we wait- won't something else come along and challenge us, change more things?”
He smirks, skeptically. “So what, like tomorrow? Wouldn't that be rushing things a bit? I don't want you to have second thoughts about this.”
“No, wait.” She says thoughtfully. “Why not tomorrow?”
“Because you might change your mind in a week?” He suggests, a little too easily.
He really seems to believe that, and it annoys her. “I can prove it to you. That we don't need to wait.” She says in a coy threat.
“Oh okay, prove it to me then.” He rolls his eyes.
It doesn't take her long to make him believe her, clumsy as her advances are. He knows what he said about waiting and that he'd meant it, but she's full of surprises today and he can't force a willingness to wait. Even though he probably should be making her work a little harder to convince him, but they both do want the same things, and when she lets her hand ghost into the open collar of his robe and over his body while they kiss no quickly becomes the furthest word from his mind.
Meghan has no regrets. Being hungry, feeling loneliness or a thrill of fear at the unknown, didn't that just prove that she was alive and all the more, how hard they should be working to make things better together?
Dustin slept immediately after that, and she stayed up with her thoughts, at times just watching his chest rise and fall with each breath. She wasn't going to let things get so out of hand again. This was what was real, this was what was worth risking everything for.
Dustin's sleeping thoughts are much simpler, he just dreams about how cute she looked today.
The next day the unspoken rule about leaving each other be during the day has ended, and Dustin helps Meghan with the garden, which is already a bit harder for her to maintain. Not long ago she'd actually thought all these plants had personalities. Right now, she's not so sure. She and Dustin seem to be much more alive. And she's glad for his help- the sun has to be bad for her skin again...
She grabs a sample while she considers the origin of life and like, the universe and stuff.
Dustin is getting a better understanding of his new project too, it still provides him with valuable time to collect his thoughts. Yesterday... really happened. He can't make it through a pass with a surface grinder without a slightly idiotic grin.
She had told him yes!
Meghan's thirst for science begins taking over more and more, even above her respect for smaller creatures. Then again radiation is present in the atmosphere normally, so this probably doesn't even hurt them. Only one way to find out!
(Also, what is this garbage?? This is my least favorite hair in the entire game, and about now I get fed up and give this woman a makeover. Why did the cure change all her stupid hairstyles? But this isn't a story about me...)
Much better. But some things still haven't changed.
If these two would stop digging my story into a hole that I have to get their romance safely out of every other chapter that'd be greeeaaat. Which of course is my subtle admission that I rolled couple for Gen 1! I could have rolled literally ANYTHING ELSE and this would have been an easier tale to tell. Just goes to show you my priorities are all cracked and I play haphazardly (I usually play on the premise of 'what ifs' and that's why the story goes off on so many tangents). It is made of the tangents.
My sims are always proposing in the bathroom (and when they're starving). I thought I had avoided the 'propose in the bathroom curse' this time with no walls and everything but NAH, they don't need no walls to be inappropriate.
So it turns out that Meghan has a cheater reputation- somebody has to have guessed it? She was slightly romantic with Dustin before she ever dated Loki, which made her a cheater even after she broke up with Loki. I'm not going to reset her relationships because there's a lot of history there now, so she's going to remain that way. What was weird to me was that Dustin had no problem saying yes to her, but she was constantly rejecting him, even though SHE was clearly the one with loose morals. I'd expect things to be the other way around, where she'd have to convince him that she's serious now. The reputation system is dumb.