A/N: It’s been a very, very long time—about a year and a half, to be exact. It’s been so long, in fact, that apologies are fairly pointless—although I am really, really sorry! Despite the fact that it’s been so long though, and despite the busyness, the other games, and the broken mess my Sims game was/is for the longest, Different Winters has never been far from my mind and I am determined to finish it. I’ve had this one written for the longest, but my game crashed every time I had to take a photo. Frustrated, I abandoned Different Winters for quite some time, but I’m back now with a beaten into submission (hopefully) game.
Since it’s been so long, you may want to catch up on this generation by re-reading the first two chapters (I know that’s what I had to do x_x), but besides that note, without further ado, the YEAR in the making, Chapter 4.3: Fractured Pieces.
There are some things in this world that, having tried them, you just can’t stop. Things like that perfect video game that sucks you irretrievably into its world, or that particularly decadent greasy food that you know is absolutely terrible for you, but just tastes so good. Or, perhaps even, the feel of another person’s lips on yours, because they feel like softness and warmth and taste like sugar and really, how in the world could you possibly resist that?
Rather, how could I resist feeling those warm, soft lips against my own whenever I possibly could?
How could I resist touching skin that was so soft, and so warm, and just so utterly perfect?
How could I resist tasting a mouth so sweet that it should have been banned by the FDA?
The answer, of course, is that I couldn’t.
And my assumption, given that Maddie never seemed to be able to keep her hands off of me either, is that she, against all reason, found me just as desirable and addicting as I found her.
I just laughed out loud even TYPING that, but it was somehow true and as such, Maddie and I had been inseparable since the day those soft lips of hers found mine as we sat beside a campfire in the middle of the night.
“This fucking sucks, James!” Candice yelled, my best friend’s voice so loud that I had to pull the phone at least an inch away from my ear.
“What does? And jeez, Candice, I’m not hard of hearing.”
“Um, hello? Do you really have to ask? Mitch and Chris? You and Maddie? And what the fuck do I get? A big ol’ golden badge pinned to my shirt that says ‘THIRD WHEEL’!”
“Gold? Damn, that’s a nice quality badge right there.”
“Shut the FUCK up, James. I’m being serious here, you freaking ASS.”
I sighed, feeling the first inkling of a headache that was creeping its way into my skull. “I know you are,” I said tiredly. “I just don’t know what to do. It’s not like I made this happen, you know? And I’m TRYING to keep you in the loop. I do CALL and INVITE you out. It’s not like I’ve ditched you like…well, I don’t know. Look, I haven’t abandoned you, okay?”
“Like the others have? Is that what you meant to say?” Candice responded with a heavy sigh. “Okay. Yeah. I’m sorry. You do do those things. And I would hang out, but whenever you and Maddie are together I suddenly feel like I’m watching the beginning of a porno!” she wailed.
“At least we save the actual ‘core’ of the porno when we’re out of sight,” I pointed out, pushing my tongue into my cheek to keep from laughing as I heard Candice’s cry of disgust.
“Oh come ON, James. I do not need to know the details of your relationship. I’m being serious here,” she said. And she suddenly sounded like it too, no longer groaning and whining, but calm and unusually concerned. She was actually upset about this.
“Look,” I said quietly, taking on a serious tone myself as guilt began to sneak its way into my head. “I-I can try to be better,” I offered weakly, wondering how I could rectify this situation.
“It’s fine,” she said briskly, clearly trying to cover up her previous vulnerable moment. “I’m just being overly sensitive about it. We’re the outcasts, right? So who do I go to when the outcasts outcast me?”
“We haven’t outcas-”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, still one of our best friends, mushy gushy little bit of bullshit here, little bit of bullshit there, it’s all-”
“It’s NOT bullshit, Candice, but if you keep being this way about it it’s GOING to be,” I finally snapped in annoyance, surprising even myself. There was a long silence on the phone, or at least long considering who I was talking to, before I heard anything on her end.
“I gotta go, James. I’ll talk to you later,” she said, her voice one of dejection. It made me feel terrible.
“No, wait!” I said quickly, trying to keep her on the phone. “I’m sorry. I’m an asshole, you’re right. We need to-”
“It’s fine. I’m serious, I have to go. I’ll talk to you later, okay? Bye.”
“Bye,” I responded reluctantly, and then frowned as I heard the familiar sound of a call disconnecting. I debated sending Candice a bunch of apologetic texts, but I figured that would just piss her off, so I resisted the urge.
Instead, I decided to check my text messages. There was one from Mitch sending me a SimTube video of two cats playing Pat-a-Cake (aw man, cat videos were the best) and five from Maddie, four of which were various hearts and emoticons and the last one reading, “Dad working late tonight, you coming over?”
I thought for a moment about Candice, upset and alone in her room, and my thumb even hovered over the call button, but then I thought about how stubborn and irritating she was being, so I quickly texted back, “Hell yea. See you at 8.”
After all, how could I help her feel more included when all she did was pull away?
I didn’t actually hear from Candice for the next couple weeks, but I couldn’t do much about it because I also became a heckuva lot busier. For instance, while I was struggling to be not only a good boyfriend, but also a good friend, and student, Kira had been dancing through life as easily as can be. Or so it seemed to me. Maybe it was because she had finally graduated high school and was away from all that drama, or maybe it was because she had finally found her soul mate and didn’t have issues balancing her other friends. All I knew was that by the time Kira’s 18th birthday came along, I’d never seen her happier.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KIRA!”
“Make a wish! Make a wish!”
Kira laughed and made a big show of making a wish, more for Amelia than anyone else, who was excited to be celebrating her big sister’s birthday.
I celebrated along with the others, but the whole event was just adding more things to stress over in my life because Kira had been accepted to a prestigious art school to continue her studies….in France. In fact, we’d all be heading off to France next week to see her off, and I wasn’t the least bit excited, even though it meant a whole new country with all kinds of new literature and art to experience.
Unfortunately, my lack of enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed by my sister, because that night brought a knock at my bedroom door, Kira walking in before I even said anything in response.
“Why bother knocking if you were just planning to walk in anyway?” I asked, unable to hide the annoyance from my voice, but keeping my focus trained on the book I’d been reading.
“The knock was just a warning,” Kira admitted with a laugh. I glanced at her over the top of my book and raised an eyebrow. She really had grown up a lot, and I guessed that I, so ‘busy’ all the time with Maddie, had barely even noticed until now. She also looked positively giddy with excitement, and I was glad she was, I really was. Only, I also, well, wasn’t. And it was for entirely selfish reasons. Kira’s smiled faltered some when I didn’t say anything, but then she seemed to perk right back up again, taking a breath. “So, Nolan is coming to France too,” she said, barely holding in her excitement. “He was also accepted. He’s a masterful sculptor, you know.”
“That’s great,” I said, forcing a tight smile and then turning back to my book. How nice it’d be to have everything working out so smoothly.
Kira hesitated in the doorway, biting her lip with uncertainty, but finally she shut the door behind her and then took a seat in the plushy armchair I’d stay up late reading in. I clenched my teeth together, a tick working in my jaw. I really just wasn’t in the mood to talk tonight. Couldn’t she see that?
“Are you okay?” Kira finally asked, letting out a breath. “You seem kind of…on edge lately,” she said carefully, her eyes watching my reaction. “Is everything okay with you and Maddie?”
“Yeah. Everything’s pretty great, actually,” I said truthfully, my face softening some as I remembered her whispered words to me before she left this evening: I love you always, you know that? I don’t just love you—I love you, always.
“So why are you being so weird?” she asked bluntly.
“I’m not acting weird,” I said in exasperation, snapping closed my book and standing up to put it away.
“You are too,” Kira argued, standing up as well. “I mean…I don’t except you to jump for joy necessarily, but I would have thought you’d be happier for me,” she admitted, a touch of sadness crossing her features.
I slowly pushed my book into place on the shelf before turning toward my sister, wondering what the right words were to get her to go away. “I am happy,” I stated firmly.
“James….” she started, getting up and taking a step forward, but I stepped around her, annoyed.
“Look, I said I’m happy, god!” I snapped in frustration, throwing my arms into the air. “I mean, what do you want me to do?” I asked, feeling angry now. “Sing and dance? Throw you a party? Maybe buy you a fucking pony with polka dots and a great big fucking bow tied around its neck because the only person that truly understands me is leaving me forever!?!” I cried out, pent up frustration and worry escaping my being. My heart pounded and specks of red appeared at the corners of my vision. I was much more furious than I even understood why. Why was I in such a foul mood? And why was I taking it out on Kira, when she really was the person I trusted the most in my life?
“I’m not leaving forev—” Kira began to argue in protest, but I just couldn’t hear it any longer.
“UGH!” I shouted, and then stormed out of my room and slammed the door with such force that the wall itself vibrated.
Of course, this now led to the awkward predicament of having stormed out of my own room and shutting Kira inside of it, which meant I had to either steal someone else’s room, or just hang out in the living room like a moron. Being a fan of neither of those options, I finally just called out that I was going out and then walked out the front door before anyone could say anything.
I started out walking, but then I broke into a run, all of my pent up frustration being taken out now on the concrete beneath my feet. I kept running until I was forced to slow down, my out of shape body revolting against the sudden burst of activity I had just forced it into. At that point I finally looked around and registered where I was—standing outside of the gate that surrounded the Price family’s home—Candice’s home. The revelation startled me, and I stood there breathing heavily for a long time. Clearly this Candice drama was bothering me more than I had thought. Why else would my subconscious have led me here?
Irritated at this realization, I stomped over to Candice’s door and banged on it before remembering that it was not only late, but that her parents would probably home too.
“Shit,” I hissed, and then, like a goddamn idiot, went running from her porch, my heart practically bursting out of my chest. I didn’t stop running until I couldn’t see the house anymore, instead standing across from the diner, trees scattered all around me. I held onto one as if my life depended on it, trying to catch my breath. God, what was wrong with me tonight?
“BOO!” I suddenly heard shouted behind me.
I yelled and leaped about a foot in the air before turning, only to see Candice standing there, a surprised look on her face. She then cracked up hysterically, doubling over and literally clutching her sides as her shrieks of laughter pierced the night.
“Yes, real funny, Candice, giving me a damn heart attack!” I gasped, watching as she fell onto the floor now, rolling. Okay, NOW she was exaggerating. “Candice!”
“Okay, okay,” she breathed, tears of laughter streaming from her eyes as she stood back up. “Oh man. You know, if you wanted to hang out, a text would have worked too, you know.”
I looked down, at a loss for words and regretting even coming here in the first place, not that I had planned to or anything. Stupid subconscious. “So what do you want anyway?” she pressed when I continued to stand there in silence.
I opened my mouth to respond, only to find that I didn’t know the answer. Why was I here? I looked up at Candice, at her warm brown eyes, her hair so tightly braided, the white of her teeth as she grinned, and I felt something within me unravel a little. I realized then that I had missed her.
“I’m sorry,” I finally blurted out awkwardly, barely able to main eye contact.
“For what? …..ah yes, it must be because you haven’t said a word to me in two weeks, and our last conversation wasn’t so happy,” she stated matter-of-factly. My mouth dropped open some and I looked back at her once again, but she didn’t look angry. Instead, she was smiling.
“Angry? Why should I be?” Candice asked with a shrug of her shoulders. “It’s not like I said anything to you either in that time.”
“True,” I said slowly, but then why did I feel so bad about it? Candice smiled a little and then averted her gaze, looking suddenly embarrassed, and I wondered why she would feel that way before I realized that I was staring at her. I cleared my throat and glanced up at the sky, looking for the moon. It was an especially cloudy night—difficult to find anything, really.
“My sister’s moving to France,” I finally said, keeping my gaze on the sky. “She was accepted to some fancy art school there.”
“Université de Champs Les Sims?” Candice asked.
I looked back at her, startled for a moment, but then slowly nodded. “Yeah, that’s the one.”
“And you’re not so thrilled about it, are you?”
“Not at all,” I sighed, shuffling my feet.
“I’m sure she’ll still email you and call regularly,” Candice assured me warmly. The kind words threw me off guard, and they seemed to throw her off guard as well because suddenly she was looking up at the dreary sky too.
“I hope so,” I murmured, forcing my gaze from the sky and looking down again, staring at the hem of her plaid pants. She was always wearing plaid—and red. I couldn’t even picture her in another color. I felt a smile pull at my lips, but I still felt anxious for reasons that I couldn’t explain.
“James—” Candice started. My heart sunk. I couldn’t imagine anything good coming from her current tone. Since when did she ever really say my name anyway, let alone like this? She took a breath and then looked right at me, her confidence seeming to have returned to her. “Look, I need to tell you something.”
“Oh?” I asked, wincing inwardly and wiping my clammy palms on my jeans. I met her gaze, almost at level with mine. My heart seemed to be pounding now, and I wondered at whether or not she could hear it. Candice nodded and then opened her mouth to speak, but my phone suddenly let out a loud ring. The jarring noise made both of us jump about three paces away from each other. Her dark eyes stared at my phone as if it would strike out at her. I pulled it out of my pocket and tapped the green little phone icon quickly, bringing it to my ear without even looking at who it was.
“James, come home, now.”
I winced, my father’s voice cutting through to my core. He was clearly unhappy, which he rarely ever was. Not that he was the buoyant, smiley type either, but he was way more likely calm, or serious…not unhappy. Crap.
“I’ll be right there,” I said hastily, hanging up the phone and then shoving it back into my pocket.
“I gotta go,” I said, already backing up to hurry off. “My dad’s ticked!”
“Oh,” Candice said, “Okay well, see ya….ass hat,” she said with a bit of a smirk, although there was something else in her eyes too that I couldn’t place.
“See ya,” I said with a light laugh, and then ran off in the direction of home, but I couldn’t help but think about everything that had just transpired.
Mostly though, I couldn’t help but wonder what Candice had been about to say. Part of me wanted to turn around right that instant and ask her what it was, but the other part felt that it might be best to never know. And, for better or worse, the latter part of me won out that night.
A/N: Ta da! I hope you enjoyed this long, long, long overdue chapter and I hope to see you all for my next chapter, which I hope to have up in a timely manner x_x. In the meantime, I leave you with this ultra creepy blooper. It scared the crap out of me in game, LET ME TELL YOU. *cries at memory*
DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU, JAMES!! *cries all over again at seeing it*
Until next time 😛