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A Specter Legacy Ch 7


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The Specter kids have a lot on their minds as they struggle to find themselves.

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A Specter Legacy Ch 7

  1. 1. Ch 7: Always on My Mind<br />Ch 7<br />Soundtrack: Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, Understand by Christina Aguilera, Nobody ‘Til You by Lindsay Lohan<br />
  2. 2. “Crap,” Asher muttered to himself. He should be able to fix the computer with no problems, but he couldn’t stop thinking about her. His girlfriend. After all, that’s what she really was. That’s what you called someone after you dated them for three years.<br />“Damn it,” he cursed as something small flicked past his head. He really ought to pay attention before he shocked himself, but Melanie just had that affect on him.<br />
  3. 3. She was… distracting, to say the least.<br />
  4. 4. And now more than ever, she was in his thoughts. He was a senior now, in his last semester. In two weeks, he would graduate and go home. And she would stay here. Unless, of course, he did something about that. He and Melanie had avoided talking about the future but it seemed that they wouldn’t be able to do so for much longer.<br />“I shouldn’t feel guilty,” he muttered aloud.<br />
  5. 5. That’s what he told himself whenever they were together, which, he had to admit, was rather a lot lately. He had told her he couldn’t get serious, that he didn’t want to get married, that he didn’t want to be with anyone for very long. But it was a lie. He did want those things. With her. And he knew she wanted them too. He knew that she knew he knew what he really wanted. But she hadn’t pushed. At least, not yet. She would say something, eventually. She had to. Because when you dated someone for three years, when you knew how both of you felt, and when you knew you would lose the one you loved unless you did something - you had to say something. Right?<br />
  6. 6. “Something on your mind?” Melanie asked him, later that day. “You’re not as attentive as usual,” she teased.<br />Asher gave her a tight smile. “Nope.”<br />*****<br />
  7. 7. Elizabeth was having a bad day.<br />“How did this happen?” Taz yelled.<br />“I don’t know!” And she really didn’t. She knew perfectly well how to make pork chops and she’d been standing right there in front of the oven, waiting for it to finish – she couldn’t have possibly left it in too long. But it caught fire anyway.<br />
  8. 8. Luckily, they had installed a sprinkler system. But that did little to calm her beating heart. She was spooked.<br />
  9. 9. Between the fire and the ongoing cheerleader spat, Liz was at a low point in her life. She was just not happy. She’d given up everything to be at the Académie, and yet things didn’t feel right. Something – or rather, someone – was still missing. Worse still, there was nothing she could do about it. Or was there? Maybe she need to make the first move.<br />
  10. 10. “Hey.”<br />“Hey.”<br />“….So, you called.”<br />“Yeah. Yeah I did.” Elizabeth took a breath. “I’m glad you came.”<br />
  11. 11. “Look, I don’t what you went through. I don’t what it’s like to be in your shoes – mostly because you won’t talk to me. Or anyone else, for that matter.”<br />“Liz-”<br />“Let me finish.” She took another breath. “The only thing I do know is what I want. What I feel. And I know that I want you in my life, Zeph. I miss you. I wanna have you around, even if we’re only just friends.”<br />
  12. 12. “I realize now that we’ve changed. That you or I will never be the same exact people we once were. But I want to get to know the you you are now. I… want to give us a chance and-”<br />
  13. 13. Liz got cut off as Zeph pulled her in for a tight hug.<br />“Oh, Liz, I’ve been an idiot. I‘ve missed you too. I never should of pushed you away.”<br />
  14. 14. “I’d like a second chance, too. …Do you think we could start over? I mean, if you still-”<br />“Yes. I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”<br />*****<br />
  15. 15. Asher, as usual, had a lot on his mind. So much, in fact, that he really didn’t notice anything going on with anyone else in the house. He was worried about the party that night. Melanie would be there – she always was. And so he was worried about what exactly he would say to her. Their time left together was getting shorter and shorter and surely she’d say something soon. He was sure of it. He just wasn’t quite sure what he would say.<br />
  16. 16. So later that night when the two had pulled away from the crowd and stole a moment to lie under the stars, he kept pointing out constellations, hoping that a lack of a lull in the conversation meant that they wouldn’t have to talk about what he so obviously didn’t want to talk about.<br />“Oh, and look at that over there. It’s a shooting star.”<br />“You know what, I think you’re right. Quick, make a wish.”<br />
  17. 17. “You know what I wish? I wish we could always stay like this.”<br />Asher just smiled and kissed her nose, unwilling to tell her that he wished the same.<br />“So?”<br />“So what?”<br />
  18. 18. “What did you wish for?”<br />“But if I tell you, it won’t come true.”<br />Melanie sighed and rolled her eyes. “Okay, we need to talk.”<br />“Talk?”<br />“You mister,” she poked him in the chest. “Have been avoiding me.”<br />
  19. 19. Asher looked back up at the sky. “What are you talking about? I see you everyday.”<br />But Melanie only sighed again. “I realize that we’ve always avoided having the relationship talk. We’ve never really talked about us, evaluated our relationship, or defined anything. And maybe that’s my fault.” Asher raised his brows. “Partly. I let it go because you always seem so reluctant to talk about it. But it’s a conversation we need to have. We have to talk about the future, Ash.”<br />
  20. 20. Asher stayed silent and let Melanie keep talking, hoping he’d figure out the right thing to say as they went along.<br />“What do you want out of life?” she asked him suddenly. “Because I want a lot of things. Lately though, I realize that I want to stay with you. Despite the fact that you drive me crazy.” Asher couldn’t help but crack a smile at that. “I want to get married someday, Ash. And I want to start a family. With you. …Eventually.”<br />And at last Asher had to speak up. “I can’t.”<br />
  21. 21. “Can’t or won’t?” Melanie asked, sitting up. “I don’t understand this thing you have against marriage, Ash. And I won’t ever unless you open up and talk to me.”<br />“It’s not unusual to be against marriage.”<br />Melanie waited a moment before she spoke. “No it’s not. It is however, unusual for someone who so clearly wants to get married to refuse to do so. You can’t lie to me, Asher. You can’t tell me we don’t want the same things.”<br />
  22. 22. “I’ve told you. It has to do with the legacy my father wants me to continue. I can’t let it go on. It has to end with me.”<br />“So you’re going to deny yourself happiness for your entire life just to stick your nose up at your father?”<br />Asher shook his head. “It’s not like that.”<br />“So tell me what it’s like.”<br />
  23. 23. “This legacy,” Asher began, not sure where he’d end up. “It means more than most. It means a lot of pain, a lot of hurt. My siblings and I went through a lot because of it. Just to pick the heir. …I-I can’t let you go through that. I can’t let my kids go through that. I don’t wish my past on anyone and I can’t let it happen to my kids.”<br />“Oh, Ash. You don’t know that’ll happen to us. You-”<br />
  24. 24. “But I do,” Asher said with a quiet forcefulness. “I do.”<br />Melanie thought for a moment. “You think you know what will happen.” She held up a hand to stall Asher’s protest.<br />
  25. 25. “You think you know, but you don’t know for sure just exactly what will happen. Don’t you see? You’re living in fear-”<br />“To prevent an even great tragedy from happening.”<br />“So you say. But what about your brother and sister? What happens if you don’t have children? What’s to stop them from carrying on the legacy? What if everything you fear still happens, just to different people?”<br />
  26. 26. Asher frowned. “You don’t understand.”<br />“I’m trying to. I really am.” She paused. “But I just can’t help but think you’re being a little ridiculous.”<br />“Melanie-”<br />“Asher.”<br />
  27. 27. Asher steeled himself. “I can’t give you this, Melanie. I won’t marry you. I won’t have kids.”<br />“So what happens to us?”<br />“You and I… can’t be. I can’t give you what you want. And I won’t lead you on, letting you think I might change my mind someday. Because I won’t. And I can’t do that to you. I can’t ask you to give up your dreams for me.”<br />
  28. 28. Melanie just looked at Asher. Hard. “…Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”<br />
  29. 29. “We’re breaking up,” Asher somehow managed to say in an even tone. “We’re over.”<br />And he walked away before she could reply.<br />*****<br />
  30. 30. A tad bit earlier that night:<br />Aerith walked away from the house. She wasn’t in the mood for a party. What she really wanted was to sit in the quiet and write in her diary. But that wasn’t likely this night. So she went for a walk. She didn’t quite know where she want to go, just that she was uneasy. Nervous. Something was not quite right and she couldn’t help but think that everything was on the verge of changing. Her feet, she decided, would simply have to take her to where ever she was meant to end up.<br />
  31. 31. Tonight, it seemed, that meant the city. A club. Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded – she wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. She wasn’t quite sure why she felt compelled to stop here; there was loud music and cheap food at home, after all.<br />Still, a part of her couldn’t help but feel that she had to get away from there for a bit – and that she needed to be here.<br />
  32. 32. After a quick look around, she snagged the pinball machine in a quiet corner of the club.<br />
  33. 33. She let out all her frustrations as she played, showing more emotion than she usually did. She didn’t know what was wrong. Everything was going well at school. She was engaged to her best friend, the love of her life. She should be happy, yet all she could feel was a sense of unease. She sighed and it was then that she heard footsteps behind her.<br />“Excuse me,” a melodious voice said.<br />“Sure, just give me a sec, I’m almost done.” She turned around…<br />
  34. 34. And found herself staring at the Contessa, locked in a trance.<br />“W-Wh-” she tried to get out a sentence, but failed.<br />“Shh, child. It is useless to protest. Everything will be over soon.”<br />
  35. 35. And then she bit her.<br />
  36. 36. Aerith stumbled, a bit woozy from the trance. She couldn’t believe this was happening. It’s a dream, she decided. It had to be. Everything was so bizarre. Vampires didn’t just walk up and bite you.<br />
  37. 37. But a second later as her senses heightened and her pulse slowed, it was clear she wasn’t dreaming. She had been bitten. She was a vampire.<br />
  38. 38. “What the hell?!” she exclaimed.<br />But the Contessa only rolled her eyes. “Sims these days. No appreciation or respect,” she waved a hand.<br />“Of course not! Why the hell did you bite me?” But the Contessa only shrugged and turned away.<br />
  39. 39. “Whoa, whoa, wait a minute! You can’t just bite me and then walk away!”<br />“Of course I can.” She turned again.<br />“Wait! At least tell me how to cure this.”<br />This time the Contessa chuckled. “My darling, you can’t cure vampirism. It is a curse. A curse cured only by death.”<br />“W-What? But - I thought-”<br />
  40. 40. “Maybe some sims can,” she interrupted. “But you are not one of them. You are different. Of special blood.”<br />Aerith was taken aback. “You don’t even know me.”<br />“I know enough. This path has been chosen for you. You will not be able to undo it.”<br />“I- I don’t understand.”<br />
  41. 41. The Contessa shrugged again. “It’s not my job to explain it to you.”<br />“No, it’s your job to randomly bite some sim you’ve never met.”<br />She shrugged again. “It is. Now if you’ll excuse me.”<br />“Wait!” But it was too late. In the blink of an eye the Contessa was gone.<br />*****<br />
  42. 42. “Holy crap.” It was early morning and Aerith had finally made it back home. She’d tried to go after the Contessa to no avail. Then she’d tried to buy a cure from the gypsy. But that didn’t work either. The potion had no effect on her.“What the hell is going on,” she muttered to the mirror. Clearly she wasn’t talking to her reflection.<br />
  43. 43. She had no more reflection.<br />“This is just too weird.” Aerith leaned into the mirror. There was nothing. It was like she wasn’t there. “Why the hell does this stuff have to happen to me?”<br />“Aer?” A voice called from the hallway. “It that you?”<br />“Crap,” she muttered.<br />
  44. 44. “I thought I heard you, where’ve you’ve been all- Holy shit. What happened to you?!”<br />Aerith stared at her brother’s eyes in the mirror. “Can’t you see? I’m dead. Or undead.”<br />“Aerith!”<br />
  45. 45. She sighed, not knowing how to explain. “I was bitten, Ash. I went out for some air and – and I was bitten.”<br />“What happened? Did you get into some kind of accident-”<br />Aerith laughed bitterly. “I wish.”<br />“What’s that supposed to mean?”<br />
  46. 46. “This was no accident. The Contessa told me so.”<br />“The Contessa?”<br />“She just came up to me and bit me, Ash. There I was, minding my own business and the next thing I know I’m in this weird trance and – and –” she gulped. “And now I’m like this. Cursed.”<br />“Aer,” Ash said softly. “Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe-”<br />
  47. 47. “Maybe I won’t have to shun the daylight and never feel the warmth of the sun, living only a half life for an eternity, watching everyone I love grow old and die around me?”<br />Asher sighed. “Well, okay, then we can cure it. We’ll just-”<br />“Go to the gypsy? Yeah, been there, tried that. Doesn’t work.”<br />
  48. 48. “Wait, what? Is that even-”<br />“Possible? Apparently.” Aerith felt like crying. “I don’t know what to do, Ash. I-” she shook her head. “I just don’t know.”<br />Asher put a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “We’ll figure it out, Aer. We’ll-”<br />“No,” she brushed his arm off. “I can’t involve you in this.”<br />
  49. 49. “Aer-”<br />“What if I bite you? What if you become stuck like this, too? Melanie would kill me!”<br />“Actually she’d probably be ecstatic. …Not that it matters much anymore,” he muttered.<br />“What?”<br />Asher shook his head. “Nothing. Look, you’re my sister and I’m not-”<br />
  50. 50. “You can’t help me with this,” Aerith practically yelled. She sighed and took a breathe. “The Contessa told me I’m stuck this way.”<br />“Why?”<br />“I’ve no idea. But I have to find out. I have to find answers. But in the meantime, I have to stay away from you. From everyone. I can’t risk hurting anyone or biting anyone.”<br />
  51. 51. Asher opened his mouth as if to say something, but a voice from the hall interrupted him.<br />“Aerith?” This time it was Taz calling.<br />Aerith grimaced and looked longingly at the window.<br />“You have to talk to him sometime,” Asher said quietly. “He is your fiancé.”<br />
  52. 52. He was right, so Aerith steeled herself and walked into the hall.<br />“A-Aerith?”<br />“I’ll give you two some space,” Ash said as he disappeared downstairs.<br />
  53. 53. “So.”<br />“So.” Aerith sighed. “You probably think I’m hideous.”<br />“Actually, I think it’s kinda hot. Vampires are very sexy.”<br />Aerith cracked a smile. “Taz, be serious.”<br />
  54. 54. “I am.” He paused. “You’re beautiful, Aer, as always. You’ll always be beautiful to me.”<br />Aerith stared at him for a moment. “…You know what this means don’t you?”<br />“Enlighten me.”<br />“We can’t be together.”<br />
  55. 55. “Why not?”<br />“Because I’m dead. Undead. And you’re living.”<br />“So?”<br />“I might hurt you.”<br />“Being without you will hurt me more.”<br />
  56. 56. Aerith shook her head. “You’re not thinking clearly, Taz. I could bite you-”<br />“So bite me.”<br />“Taz-”<br />“I’m serious, Aer. I love you. I want to be with you. I’m not going to break up with you just because you- you’re-”<br />
  57. 57. “I’m a vampire. And I have no idea what that even means yet. But I know one thing. I can’t hurt you. I can’t curse you and doom you to the same fate. And there’s no telling what I’d do to you or what this curse will do to me.”<br />“Will you stop looking at it that way?”<br />“What way? I’m looking at it for what it is. And it’s a curse, Taz. I’ll never be able to live a full life. A part of me has been taken, changed-”<br />
  58. 58. “But you love me.”<br />“…Yes.”<br />“Then nothing else should matter. Nothing else does matter. I’m with you until the end, Aerith. Even if that means until the end of time.”<br />Aerith was silent for a moment.<br />
  59. 59. “Please, Taz. Give me sometime. Everything’s so new to me. I- I don’t know what this means or what this will do to me. I need to be sure I won’t hurt you.”<br />“And how will you be sure?”<br />“I need answers. I need to figure out what’s going on and what’s happening to me.”<br />“And until then?”<br />
  60. 60. “We’ll have to be on hold.”<br />Taz was silent, but Aerith could see he was fighting to keep his emotions in check. Finally, he said, “Just promise me one thing.”<br />“What?”<br />“You won’t do anything rash. You won’t do anything without me.”<br />
  61. 61. “That’s two things.”<br />“Aerith.”<br />Aerith sighed then nodded slowly. But Taz noticed that she didn’t actually say anything and kept staring at her, searching her face for answers. Uncomfortable with the scrutiny, she got up to go back to her room.<br />
  62. 62. Taz watched her go. He knew what she was thinking. He knew that if he let her, she would disappear and never look back. Just to “protect” him. He couldn’t let that happen. He had to stay one step ahead or he’d lose her.<br />*****<br />
  63. 63. Dawn came all too soon and though the first rays of light were still faint, they still itched her skin, signaling that if she lingered just a bit longer, she’d learn just how much the light would burn. Sighing, she looked longingly at the bed that used to be hers, still unmade from that afternoon’s nap. But it wasn’t for her anymore. Now she had a coffin.<br />
  64. 64. She changed into her pajamas and climbed in. It dawned on her that this would be her life from now on, a half life, always fleeing the sun. She couldn’t do that to Taz. She’d have to leave before she hurt him, just like she hurt everyone else around her. And it’d have to be tonight, before anyone could suspect she’d leave. She sighed as morning fully made itself known.<br />“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” she whispered.<br />******<br />
  65. 65. “Hey – whoa. What’s with all the neatness? You never make your bed.”<br />“Aerith’s leaving,” Taz said bluntly.<br />“What? When?”<br />“I don’t know. Probably tonight. She scheduled her finals early,” he said as an explanation. “She probably didn’t think I’d notice. If she wasn’t in that coffin right now, I’d probably shake her silly. …Where’d she get that thing anyway?”<br />
  66. 66. “I don’t know,” Asher replied. “It just showed up on the porch sometime before dawn.” He paused. “I didn’t really expect all this to happen so soon. It looks like I’m going to be the only one left around here.”<br />“What are you talking about? You still have Liz and Melanie.”<br />Asher shook his head and ignored the latter part of the sentence. “Liz left earlier this evening. Before the party. Said something about trying to work things out with Zephyr.”<br />
  67. 67. “Oh.”<br />“Don’t feel bad or anything. I understand.”<br />“I know, I’m just…. Your family has a habit of pushing people away.”<br />“Tell me about it,” Asher muttered.<br />
  68. 68. “What if… what if I can’t convince her? What if I lose her for good?”<br />Asher shook his head again. “Don’t worry. Aerith was always a bit smarter than the rest of us. She’ll come to her senses eventually.”<br />“Thanks, man.”<br />“Don’t mention it. Just take good care of her.”<br />*****<br />
  69. 69. Asher was going stir crazy. He was alone in the house and the silence was getting to him, eating at his brain. Liz had left to work things out with Zeph, Aerith had left to protect Taz and everyone else, and Taz had left to go after Aer. Which left Asher alone, straining to find ways to fill up the time, struggle to keep his mind off Melanie. The only thing that really benefited from the situation was his skilling. He got a lot of work done and finally mastered the drums. But, damn it all, he was still lonely.<br />
  70. 70. So he decided to do something about that and move in a placeholder, Chris. He was graduating in a few days anyway, so it was really about time.<br />In fact, that was all he did lately - focus on finals, skill, and prepare for graduation.<br />
  71. 71. Until he got a phone call.<br />“Melanie,” he said with some surprise. “What’s-”But he was interrupted. He couldn’t quite place it, but there was definitely something odd about her voice.<br />Nevertheless, she sounded firm when she said, “We need to talk. Now. It’s important.”<br />“Uh, okay. Come on over.”<br />
  72. 72. “Hey, what’s up? Because… I mean what I said-”<br />“It’s not about that. Not really. Look, can we go inside? It’s kinda chilly out here.”<br />“Yeah, okay. Let’s go in the dining room.”<br />
  73. 73. Asher felt nervous as he sat across from Melanie. Something was up, he could feel it.<br />“So… Is everything alright?”<br />“No.”<br />“No?”<br />
  74. 74. “Look, you know me – I don’t believe in stalling, so I’ll just say it. Asher… I’m pregnant.”<br />Asher sat back, stunned as his world came crashing down. “W-What?”<br />“I said I’m-”<br />“I don’t understand,” he muttered, rubbing his temples. “How could this happen?”<br />
  75. 75. “Well, if you have to ask me that, you’ve been a hell of a lot more distant than I thought. We had sex, Asher. Quite a few times, too,” Melanie said, an edge in her voice.<br />Asher blushed. “That’s not what I… I just meant…. I always just assumed… That you, you know, took certain precautions against this sort of thing.”<br />“I did. But nothing’s foolproof, Asher.”<br />
  76. 76. “But I mean… It’s just… This can’t be happening…”<br />“I assure you it is.”<br />“You’re sure?”<br />“Yes.”<br />“How sure?”<br />
  77. 77. “Asher!”<br />“I mean, this isn’t because of what I said the other night, is it? Because I’m not just going to change my mind. I meant what I said. I can’t be with you and I can’t marry you and I’m not going to change my mind all of sudden, just because you say you’re pregnant. So if this is some kind of – some kind of-”<br />“Some kind of what?” Melanie fought to keep her voice even.<br />
  78. 78. She had sat there stunned, listening to Asher’s words, but now, all she could feel was hurt – and a hell of a lot of anger. “I cannot believe what you just said to me.”<br />“Melanie-”<br />“You think I’m making this up? You think I would do that? You think I’m the type to come up with some elaborate plan to trap you into marriage with me? What the hell, Asher!”<br />
  79. 79. “I’m sorry! I just – I’m just shocked-”<br />“And I’m not? Did you even think for one second how I might feel? About how crushed I am because my boyfriend refuses to marry me because of some stupid vendetta against his family or about how scared I am because I’m about to be a mother and my whole life’s about to change?”<br />“Mel-”<br />
  80. 80. “I didn’t come here to demand you marry me, Asher. I came here because I love you and you were my boyfriend and I thought you might like to know you’re going to have a child. I didn’t ask for your approval or support, and you know what? I don’t want it – not if you’re going to be such a jerk about it.”<br />“Melanie, I just-”<br />“You just what, Asher?”<br />
  81. 81. “I don’t have time to play games. Not anymore. I have to get to my life together and somehow figure out in the week just how I’m going to raise a baby. I can’t wait for you to get a grip and get over your demons.”<br />“Melanie, I-”<br />“Call me when you grow up, Asher.” She gave her head a last little shake and stormed out the house, leaving Asher to sit there dumbfounded.<br />
  82. 82. He didn’t know what to do. Part of him was still shocked and confused about how it happened; he’d thought he’d been so careful. Another part was upset - angry that things had gotten this way. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t even supposed to happen. He’d vowed to never have a family, to let the legacy die.<br />And then there was a part of him that was ecstatic about having a baby, the part that wanted to apologize to Melanie, to marry her and hold her close and tell her everything was going to be alright. But he just couldn’t escape the feelings of doom and the fear of the legacy that was slowly taking over his life. And worse, there was no one to talk to – not that his siblings could ever really understand the pressure of being heir. In actuality, there was only one other person who could.<br />
  83. 83. So he called him over.<br />“Asher! I must say I’m surprised; I didn’t think you’d ever-”<br />“I’m pregnant,” Asher blurted out.<br />“What?” Andy furrowed his brows, confused.<br />“I mean,” Asher tried to calm his nerves and took a deep breath. “Melanie, the girl I’ve been seeing, my- my girlfriend. She’s pregnant.”<br />
  84. 84. “I see,” Andy said quietly. “And how do you feel about that?”<br />“Dad… I can’t do this.”<br />“Can’t or won’t? Because I think you’re very capable, Ash.”<br />Asher scowled. “Of course you’d say that. You’re-”<br />“Your father, yes, but I also know you. And I know that you’ve wanted this for a long time.”<br />
  85. 85. “Why does everyone keep saying that? What, do I have an ‘I want to get married and have kids’ sign written on my face?”<br />Andy gave him a tiny smile. “No, but family sims are a bit transparent that way. Not to mention, it’s the way you were raised. You can’t deny you’ve always expected to grow up and start a family.”<br />“Yeah, but-”<br />“And maybe things aren’t exactly the way you planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it.”<br />
  86. 86. “How am I supposed to make the best of a legacy where everyone is going to die?”<br />“Asher-”<br />“I don’t know, okay? I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I want to do this. All I know is what I don’t want. And I don’t want what happened to me and Zeph and Aer to happen to my kids. And I don’t want what happened to mom to happen to Melanie,” he finished quietly.<br />
  87. 87. “Melanie – my girlfriend – she doesn’t understand. No one understands, not even Zeph and Aer. Not really. I know what they would say; they think it’s so simple, to just put the legacy aside. To just say ‘I’m out, I’m not doing this legacy anymore.’ They don’t understand what it is to feel like- like-”<br />“Like everything’s out of your control?”<br />Asher nodded. “It’s like everything’s happening all at once and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. …It’s like I don’t have a choice anymore.”<br />
  88. 88. “It’s easy to feel that way, Ash. We don’t ever get to control most things. You usually don’t get to decide when life will throw hardship and death your way or even when your girlfriend will get pregnant. But you do have some control, control over the way you respond to life’s challenges. Those responses, those little things add up and can help you make the best of things.” He paused. “I can’t tell you what to do anymore – you’re not a little kid. You have to look inside and ask yourself some hard questions. Do you really want to be alone? To leave your girlfriend alone – to not get married?”<br />
  89. 89. Asher was silent for a moment. “But what do I say? What do I tell her? I mean, the legacy, it – it broke you and mom. What if that happens to me?”<br />Andy took a breath. “I will admit, it was hard on me and your mother. She never really understood what was happening. …But it was my fault, too. I never really took the time to explain it. …I can’t tell you what to tell your Melanie. And I can’t promise that if you do tell her everything, it would make things easier. All I can tell you is that you are not me. And she is not your mother. You can do things differently, make your own mistakes.”<br />
  90. 90. “And I can tell you, that some times you just have to force yourself to relax, to take yourself out of the clouds and stop worrying about the future. Sometimes, you just have to stay grounded and enjoy the moment. …It’s the only way I ever got through.”<br />“Dad… Can I ask you-”<br />“Anything.”<br />
  91. 91. “How did- …Why. Why did you let us go through the challenge?”<br />Andy was taken aback for a moment. “I thought it would be better if you knew,” he said quietly. “I thought it’d be better if you saw it coming. But maybe… Maybe I was wrong.”Asher looked down as his father continued. “I can’t tell you how to do this, how to run the legacy. The only thing that I can keep telling you, and hope you’ll understand, is that this stuff… It will happen. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s going to happen anyway.”<br />
  92. 92. “Thanks, Dad. You- It-” Asher sighed. “I have a lot to think about.”<br />Andy nodded in agreement. “You do. …We only have so much time here on Earth, Asher. Do you really want to spend it without the people you care about?”<br />And as Asher pondered that question, Andy pulled him in for a hug and said goodbye.<br />*****<br />
  93. 93. Asher did a lot of thinking that day, and that night. He was still unsure about a lot of things, but there was one thing that his dad said that really resonated with him. He didn’t want Melanie to be alone. Marrying her was the right thing to do, but more importantly, he couldn’t deny that a part of him wanted it. He wanted her and the baby and a family. He didn’t really want to be without her.<br />So the next morning, he called her and asked her to meet him in the park.<br />
  94. 94. “Thanks for meeting me here, Melanie.”<br />She nodded. “I still don’t know if this was a good idea.” She looked him up and down. “Are you going to be a prick today?”<br />Asher sighed. “I know I deserve that. And I’m sorry. Really I am. …I don’t have any excuse.”<br />
  95. 95. “I felt cornered and shocked and – and nothing. I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have said, things I didn’t even mean. I’m sorry I hurt you.”<br />Melanie put her hands on her hips after a curt nod. “So what’s this about, anyway? You called me all the way over to the park just to apologize? You could’ve done that at-”<br />“No. Actually, I called you over here to propose.”<br />
  96. 96. “What?!”<br />Asher shrugged. “It seemed more romantic this way.”<br />“But what about all that stuff you said before – about the legacy and - What, are you just going to forget it?”<br />“No,” Asher shook his head. “I’ve just… Been doing some thinking.”<br />
  97. 97. “And you were right. And my dad… Well, basically, everybody was right and I realized that I can’t live in fear. I can’t- I don’t want to be without you Melanie. And I want this. I want you and this baby and… I want a family. With you. That is… If you’ll still have me.”<br />
  98. 98. And Asher got down on one knee and asked Melanie the question he’d been so afraid of asking.<br />“Melanie… Will you marry me?” He held his breath. He loved this woman, but he’d also hurt her. There was no logical reason for her to-<br />
  99. 99. “Of course I will, you knucklehead.”<br />
  100. 100. “I love you, Ash,” Melanie whispered in his ear as she gave him a hug. “And I don’t want to be without you either.”<br />
  101. 101. “I love you, too,” Asher told her. There were still a lot of doubts in his mind and he wasn’t a hundred percent sure about anything, but proposing definitely felt like a step in the right direction.<br />
  102. 102. So when he graduated and moved back home, he was still nervous beyond all reason, but excited, too. He had hope that maybe – just maybe – things would be okay.<br />*****<br />
  103. 103. Andy, too, was nervous – this time for his son. When he had signed that contract all those years ago, this wasn’t how he’d thought his life would go. His wife was dead and his relationship with his children was strained at best. He didn’t want that for Asher. He didn’t want that for himself either, to be honest.<br />
  104. 104. So he had stormed into KB’s office and demanded answers. And though he’d talked to her, he came away from there knowing no more than before. His numerous questions remained unanswered. The only thing he knew for sure was that what he told Asher was true. They had to look out for themselves. They had to make the best of it.<br />
  105. 105. Andy didn’t know what the future held, but he hoped for his children’s sake at least, that it was something good.<br />*****<br />The End. <br />
  106. 106. Hmm, I think Liz got the last laugh after all. Anyway, later simmers, and happy reading.<br />