If Bella thought she’d find peace running, she didn’t. As her feet pounded on the pavement, she slowed to a jog, weaving up and down the streets of Neighborly City. Running usually brought a release for her. Maybe I’m just out of shape, she thought. While she had stretched before she started, the last time she ran five miles had been well over a month ago. Other things had preoccupied her time.Today, she’d settle for two. Two should be enough to clear my mind.
But all her anger toward her parents, her fears about life, and concern for her plans pooled in her mind like an overflowing wine glass, unwelcome and yet unavoidable. She began to doubt running was a good idea at all. Maybe she should have stayed on the line longer this morning and tried to hear her mother out. Maybe there was a reason Jocasta didn’t want Bella to come home for fall break. Maybe she should have tried to explain her frustrations, and maybe her mother would have listened to her. Or maybe she should just forget it all and go home with Daniel over the weekend since he offered.
Daniel. She smiled at the thought of his name. He was a fairly even constant in her life these days, and there was no threat of him overstepping his bounds. She knew he played both sides of the fence, and frankly it didn’t bother her one bit, but both of them knew his parents would probably kill him if they found out. That was why their friendship was safe. They could hang out in each other’s presence with no pressure to be anything other than what they were, and yet to the general public, they appeared to be more than they were. Of course, Jennifer knew, and she was supportive of her brother’s choices, though she did lightly lecture Bella on occasion about the dangers of letting people believe untruths. Bella knew Jennifer just didn’t want her brother to get hurt, and while she was aware of the possibility and, if she dared to admit, sexual tension between them, she was content to remain friends with Daniel.
Going home with Daniel, she was certain to get a few curious questions from his mom and possibly a lighthearted quip about the two being soulmates from his dad. Daniel would pretend to be embarrassed and Bella would laugh awkwardly and then it would be done. They could enjoy the weekend together without any further inferences. Daniel had the whole weekend planned – a bonfire on the beach the first night back with cheap wine coolers and second-rate juice, because that was all he could afford. Bella was game for roasting marshmallows and tinking around on the guitar under the autumn stars. Saturday morning, they would attend the pancake breakfast at the firehouse and make a small charitable donation, followed by a Misimgan Sparks pro-soccer game that Bella was sure Daniel blew all his money on obtaining tickets. She thought it was sweet so she would go. Sunday morning they would duck into the Learning Center and make fun of whatever educational speaker was lecturing followed by a picnic and reciting poetry in the stacks on the fourth floor because no one ever went to the dusty old books section. Daniel, like his father, shared a flair for the dramatic and he was most excellent at mimicking all the voices in Simspearean plays. Even if it was goofy, Bella was glad someone could make her laugh. Sunday night, they would be sure to stop at Woodland Park on the way out of town for the best ice cream in the Midwest, waffle cones, Bella would insist, and chocolate dipped, because they wanted extravagance.
Maybe that’s what she needed – to blow off steam and get out of town. They wouldn’t be leaving till tomorrow morning, but that just meant her dorm should be quiet and peaceful with most of the students moved out for the weekend. The more Bella thought about going home with Daniel, the more she felt depressed. She could safely visit Pleasantview without running into her parents because her mother was at a medical covention in Simcago and her father was attending the Midwestern Peteran Conference in the state capitol for the weekend. Even Michael was on the west coast for a robotics tournament, and was visiting the golden state in style, thanks to Mortimer Goth putting her brother and his team up in his summer home.
How sad is it that I can go home and no one would even know I was there? Bella’s muscles ached and she slowed her pace. Was it just her bones? Maybe my heart is aching too. She was grateful the clouds were gathering on the horizon. Rain would match her dreary mood much better than a star-studded night. As the fog rolled in, Bella felt reassured that the universe was listening to her desires. She kicked a rock with her shoe and it clinked against the hubcap of a parked car.
“Sorry,” she murmured to the inanimate object.
She lifted her hand in thanks for the driver waiting for her as she cut across the street toward Landgrabb Boarding House, her dormitory. Named for the famous, or infamous, depending upon whom you asked, Landgrabb family, Bella found her abode to be lacking in pleasantries. Sure, it was furnished and had updated appliances and a common area, but she sort of wished for some more color and decor, a Gothic golden lampstand or two and an antique mantle clock to keep her company on her late nights studying.
Bella sighed as she climbed the outside steps. Only a mile and three quarters. Two miles three days a week should’ve been enough to satisfy her, but she was annoyed at herself for falling out of her routine. Upon entering the dorm, Bella halted, inhaling and exhaling deeply, wiping sweat from her brow. She wished her shorts wouldn’t stick to her legs like they did after she exercised. She tugged on her sports bra lightly to allow air to circulate.
As Bella rounded the corner, she gasped. A figure with a shock of blue hair was slumped over in front of her door, his shoulders shaking. The man was breathing heavily, wincing as he braced one hand against his ripped pants and the other against the thin brown carpet. A familiar green-yellow bottle of Mountain Rain slipped from his hand and rolled behind the ornate orange potted palm plant.
“Are you okay?” Bella asked, gruffly, still fueled by the frustration over her life circumstances.
He was in her way. She just wanted to climb into bed and sleep forever. When the young man didn’t answer, she wondered why she bothered and started to step past him, pulling her keys from her pocket. His moan echoed throughout the hallway. She froze, her keys perched above the key hole, and wished she didn’t have to deal with this tonight. Repeating her question, Bella knelt next to the man and touched the small of his back. She felt him recoil, wincing in pain, and when she removed her hand, it was stained with a thick red substance. Blood! She shivered.
“Hey, what happened? Are you in any pain?” she asked, reaching her arms out to help him sit.
The man slumped against the wall, pulling his legs up to his chest defensively, turning his head so she couldn’t fully see his face. He couldn’t have been much older than her, though his unnatural blue hair and lack of facial hair could be contributing to his young look. He was paler than a ghost in a haunted house, his skin almost an unnatural white. His shoes were made from expensive leather, the kind one would buy in Sims Fifth Avenue in Big Apple City, yet the rest of him suggested nothing of wealth – threadbare and holey dark jeans, no belt, and a blue button-down shirt that looked as though an animal had attacked it. His eyeglasses lay in a tangled, cracked heap on the floor, partially wedged between her doorway and the hallway. A burnt orange dried blood stained the bridge of his nose, and his left eye was blackened and swollen shut. His right eye showed the beginnings of bruises in the soft tissues beneath, and his cheeks bore the markings of a boot print. What the hell happened? Bella wondered, reaching for the man’s quaking hands.
Blood began to drip from inside his nose, and he sniffed, and began coughing. Bella pulled a squished, but unused tissue from her pocket. He flinched, hitting his head against the wall, and she motioned to his face. He seemed unresponsive, his eyes glassy and bloodshot. Bella leaned in and tenderly pinched his nose for him. His diluted rain-colored eyes pooled with gratitude as his own hand replaced hers. Bella was surprised, as he had initially refused her help, and now he cried openly, though silently, before her. It takes a strong man to weep in the presence of a woman, she recalled her father’s wise words. He needed to cry, she supposed. He looked as though he was beaten and bent by the devil himself.
Bella frowned. Something about the man seemed familiar, and yet she had never seen him before, or at least she couldn’t remember seeing him before.
“Are you…” she began.
He didn’t even hear her question as his head dipped forward. Before she realized what she was doing, Bella wrapped her arms around the man to keep him from landing face down in the hallway.
Bella almost felt guilty for her utterance. She didn’t know the guy and he had passed out in her arms. One whiff of him told her that he wasn’t drunk as he didn’t smell of alcohol, and he didn’t fit the image of a stoner. She sat with her legs outstretched, hoping no one rounded the corner and saw her with the strange man across her lap. She weighed her options, knowing she could easily move him, even if he was twice her size, but to where? She could call her resident assistant, but she doubted the woman would be able to do anything for the man other than call an ambulance. Maybe she should call the cops. It wasn’t her problem.
Oh yes it is! a voice echoed in her head. You made it your problem the minute you stopped to help him.
“I’m not the flipping good Samaritan!” Bella cursed beneath her breath, letting his arms drop momentarily.
Maybe if she went outside she could find someone on the quad across the street on campus. There was almost always someone on the quad, even this late at night, though she wondered if she should abandon the man. Sighing heavily, Bella did the only thing she really could do.
On Saturday evening, the man finally roused. It had been over forty-eight hours since Bella had rescued him from the hallway. She had called Daniel trying to keep an even tone as she explained she had too much homework, and it would be better to stay on campus for fall break. Naturally, he had tried to talk her out of it and was incredibly disappointed and almost angry when she refused to come home to Pleasantview. After all, he had made so many plans for them, and now he would have to face his parents alone since Jennifer was visiting her boyfriend, John on his family’s farm in Old Town, Virsimia. In a panic, Bella had hung up on Daniel, most likely making things worse, but she couldn’t exactly abandon the strange man in her room.
For two days, he slept, face down on her pillow. She kept trying to tilt his head to the side, worried he wouldn’t be able to breathe, but the man still seemed alive. She thought about calling a hospital when he didn’t wake up after the first night, but she didn’t know who he was or how she would explain his presence. Since she barely left the room, afraid of leaving the man alone, Bella managed to finish all her homework fairly quickly, and then she took the extra time to work on her Simlish literature mid-term paper due in a few weeks. When she completed the paper, she decided to give herself a break and ran to the store to pick up some items – a few premade meals and bottled water, and a fresh nail polish.
Then she began to wonder about the man and what he might need when he woke up. Bella swiped a first aid kit from the pharmacy, some sewing thread from the arts and crafts department, and then wandered through the men’s department until she found a white tee shirt. She hummed and hawed, uncertain of the man’s pant size so she picked out three different pairs of jeans, figuring she could return what he didn’t use. When she reached the checkout, she panicked. What if he didn’t want the clothes? What if he was scared when he woke up and she wasn’t there? What if… he wasn’t there when she returned? Bella quickly paid for all her items and rushed back to the dorm.
Thankfully, the man was still asleep, and Bella sighed in relief, collapsing on the ottoman that had been her uncomfortable bed for the past two nights. She decided to go for a quick jog around the block to clear her head. When she returned, she plopped down at her computer and began playing one of her favorite mystery games. It helped to pass the time, and she needed to do something relaxing. Within the hour, the man had stirred, lifting himself from his sleeping position. He looked bewildered and pale, but surprisingly, his hair was still perfectly in place and he didn’t have a pillow imprint on his face.
“You’re awake,” Bella said, saving her game and twirling in her desk chair as he slumped forward, weak from his long hours of sleeping.
She leaned and grabbed his wrist to keep him from falling. “Hey take it easy.”
He didn’t say anything, but slowly moved to a seated position. She tried to project an aura of soothing so the man wouldn’t freak out. She figured she could take him if he reacted violently, but that wouldn’t change the fact that he knew where she lived. He had been resting in her dorm room for the past two days. He could have awakened while she was gone.
“Cat got your tongue?” Bella asked cheekily, and he looked up into her face blankly.
This is weird, she plopped on her ottoman and folded her arms across her chest.
“So um… do you speak?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied meekly.
“You talk! Hallelujah!” she threw her hands up in the air sarcastically.
“Halle…” he repeated. “Lu…jah?”
“Yeah, you know Praise the Lord,” she replied.
“Which lord, milady?” he puzzled.
“Milady,” she snickered. “Um… no, you can call me Bella. What’s your name?”
“Um…” he blinked rapidly. “Emit…” he hesitated, wincing as if trying to remember his own name. “Emit..Emit Relevart in your glorious debt, milady.”
Bella giggled. “Bella, really. Please call me Bella. And it’s nice to meet you Emit Relevart,” she stretched out her hand to shake his own.
He frowned, and leaned against the wall.
“Okay, not a hand shaker,” she shrugged. “That’s okay. I guess. I mean, it’s not very polite since I’ve been taking care of you for forty-eight hours, but whatever.”
“Forty-eight hours?” he repeated.
“Yes, two whole days. I’ve never seen someone sleep that long,” she replied.
“It is my rejuvenation cycle,” he said simply. “I am…” he touched his cheek. “…healed.”
“Oh…kay…” she made a face.
As she observed him, she realized he no longer had a black eye and the blood had disappeared. Not even a scab remained, which was strange, but she shrugged it off. Color hadn’t returned to his skin yet. Bella stood up and snagged a juice box from her mini fridge and handed him a drink before grabbing herself one. Emit lifted himself from the bed and moved to her desk chair.
“Well, that’s a long time to sleep,” she remarked, poking the straw through the hole of her carton.
“It is normal among my people,” Emit shook his head, following suit with his own straw.
“And what people is that?” she asked, getting tired of this strange conversation.
If it was possible, Emit paled even more. He averted his eyes, staring at the top of his juice box.
“This is delicious,” he remarked.
Bella decided to let him change the subject. “Yeah, it’s fruit punch.”
“Fruit… punch?” he repeated, looking confused. “Why would you punch a fruit?”
Bella laughed. “No… the drink is called fruit punch… punch… like a drink made from fruit juice, no? You don’t know what I’m talking about?”
“I like your fruit punch,” Emit stated.
“Well, it’s not mine,” Bella returned to her seat on the ottoman. “I just bought it at the store.”
“Milady,” he leaped to his feet, and immediately knelt before her, laying one arm across his knee and bowing his head. “Forgive me. I did not offer you the chair.”
Bella rolled her eyes, and laid her hands on the man’s shoulders. “Please don’t do that. There’s plenty of seats. I’m fine here.”
Emit lifted his eyes graciously, and murmured a lengthy thanks before sitting cross-legged on the floor. When Bella asked him why he didn’t sit in her desk chair, he replied that it was improper for a man’s head to be above a woman’s, and since she was sitting on the couch, her head was lower than his so the only proper thing for him to do was to sit on the floor. Bella grimaced wondering where the man was getting all his strange ideas, and then just figured Emit was a foreign exchange student from somewhere.
“Can I ask you what happened?” she inquired, slurping her drink, and wiping her mouth.
“Milady is making the most unusual sounds,” he remarked, his grey eyes full of curiosity as he attempted to slurp through the straw also.
Bella doubled over laughing. Emit was a wonder. And he wouldn’t stop calling her milady. She was starting to like the sound, even if it sounded as though he was stuck in another century. She wondered why he didn’t want to answer her question. She cleared her throat, slumping off the couch onto the floor. He immediately bowed his head, placing his arms flat on the floor.
“No, no, no, that won’t do,” Bella tugged his arm and forced him into a sitting position. “Look I don’t know where you come from but here in the Sim Nation it’s totally cool for you to just sit on the floor with me or wherever for that matter.”
“Totally cool,” he said slowly. “I had no idea that this concept was related to temperature.”
“Ugh!” Bella rubbed the side of her face in frustration. “Um… okay… why don’t you just sit there and tell me what happened to you? Why were you outside my door on Thursday night?”
“I fell upon your doorstep by pure chance, milady, and you bestowed upon me grace befitting of a queen by allowing me to take refuge in your quarters,” he replied.
“Go on,” Bella urged, leaning forward as she pressed her palms into the carpet, trying to ignore his odd way of speaking.
“I had been taking a late evening walk and I was happened upon by some cruel and large gentlemen.”
“So you were beaten up?” Bella inserted impatiently.
He called them gentlemen?
“In my wor… I mean, my home place… my town of residence… my home… um… we… the men, do not fight one another unless a female should ask us to,” he explained. “…so I am very much befuddled by their posturing to me as if I were a blight upon this world and they must rid this world of me.”
Bella frowned. “I doubt anyone wants to rid the world of you. Did you anger them or something?”
“Not that I recall. I was simply… what you say… minding my beeswax…and I happened to find a delightful variation of night-blooming jasmine. I stooped to pluck the beauty that I could only hope to be worthy to hold between the wisps of my fingers when they pounded me from behind and did not stop until they had stomped out what felt like most of the life in me, calling me all sorts of foul things that I shan’t repeat in the presence of a lady.”
Bella touched her lip, feeling sadness. He was jumped by a merciless group of bullies. She had heard horror stories of gangs of thugs running around the Sim Nation, beating up supernaturals. The world tolerated the Sims with superhuman abilities, but most people still didn’t like the idea of paranormal beings living among the general population even in a decade as progressive as the ’80s. Bella felt sick to her stomach, aware of her own abilities and genes. It was not like she chose to be supernatural. But her parents had chosen to try and cure her, and she had kept her powers hidden for years. It helped that she appeared normal enough, but if she had been open about who she really was, perhaps she would be facing a fate similar to the man before her. Bella now had a newfound understanding of her parents’ wishes.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.
“You have nothing to apologize for. It was not you who chose to make an example of me by the trash receptacle behind your building.”
Emit spoke with utter sincerity, but Bella tried hard not to laugh. His phrasing was almost amusing. Still, the thought of anyone being beaten behind her building made her nervous.
“Can I get you anything else?” she asked, timidly.
“No, you have done enough, milady,” he replied. “Thank you for your hospitality. Might I leave?”
He was requesting her permission to leave? Bella puzzled as she stood.
Emit quickly stood, keeping his head bent, almost as if afraid to look into her face. She resisted the urge to touch his alabaster chin, though she was undeniably drawn to the man.
“Of course,” she said hoarsely. “Of course, you may leave, Emit.”
“H’valak vamek,” he uttered in a strange tongue, and then looked almost confused, touching his own lips as if he couldn’t believe what he had said.
“What?” she struggled to ask, her heart pounding, threatening to leave her chest.
“Oh…it is in my mother tongue,” he replied. “It means… thank you.”
“Oh…um… okay,” she shrugged, her hair falling over her shoulder. “You’re welcome.”
Emit reached for her face with his hulking pale-as-moonlight hands, his thumb alone stretching the entire length of her profile, his other fingers tucked behind her ear and into her hair. He lowered his head, pressing his forehead against her own as he closed his eyes, and she caught her breath in bewilderment and awe, wondering what he was doing. The gesture was intimate, but nothing about Emit’s actions felt awkward. Bella felt oddly comforted by his touch as if they were two old friends embracing after a long absence.
“Z’dra’vej’jo a’lim’ma al’lieck, milady Bella,” he murmured. “Bo’di do’broh-hag.”
The foreign words were harsh, but his tone was gentle and soothing. She shivered, enjoying the way he said her name.
“What? What does it mean?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“It has the meaning of… health and wisdom and protection for you; be well, Bella.”
Author Note: So I’ve been waiting to do a story with Emit Relevart. I had to use cheats and mods to recreate him and make his character playable, but I hope you are as pleased with his character as I am. I am going to leave his origins a mystery for now, but the language he was speaking is based on real-life Slovenian and Greek, both of which I am not a native speaker, and I added my own twist to the words, ripe with apostrophes, because it’s fun.
A few quick side notes, the Misimigan Sparks are based on Chicago Fire, a pro soccer team in Illinois. Mountain Rain is my Simworld version of Mountain Dew. Sims Fifth Avenue is a play on Saks Fifth Avenue. At this time in history, supernaturals are tolerated, but many are outcasts, and most are considered second-class citizens.
Hope you enjoyed!
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