Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chapter 70: Back and Forth

Julian joins Jilly on the sofa on the balcony outside their new bedroom in the house they bought in Isla Paradiso, located conveniently near Nautilus Laboratories, one of Landgraab Industries' many research facilities where Fergus had sent he and Jilly to work for him. "Fergus just texted; he wants to meet with us at the lab tomorrow. He has an assignment for us."

"I have an assignment already," Jilly pouts playfully, stroking his knee, "What are you guys doing with all those octopusses, octopi, whatever, that I keep catching for you, anyway?"

"That's not my project," Julian clarifies, "But I believe they're experimenting with cell regeneration. And I think whatever Fergus has planned will take precedence over your scuba expeditions."

"Okay," Jilly says, resting her head against his shoulder. "Are you okay?" she asks quietly, "With being at Fergus' beck and call like this, I mean?"

"I am if you are, Jill," Julian answers non-committally.

"But, he's my cousin," Jill points out, as though her family relationship with their new boss makes her situation more tenable than his.

He could explain to her that everything Fergus had done went according to Geoffrey's plan, and if he was caught up in it now, it was probably more than well-deserved, but Julian tries to distance himself from the man he was before and simply speaks to a different truth, "I'm happy, Jill. Happier than I think I ever imagined I could be." That wasn't part of Geoffrey's plan, as far as Julian can tell, though figuring out what, exactly, his former self had actually wanted when all was said and done has proved near impossible, despite his access to Geoffrey's memories. Maybe Geoffrey never really knew himself.

Julian puts thoughts of Geoffrey to rest; whatever his former self had wanted is no concern of his now, and he has his own desires to look to. Jill draws her knees up against her chest as she nestles under his arm.

"Good," she answers simply, not being one to brood over things.

"I knew, the moment I first saw you, that you were the one," Julian broaches a new subject after a small, content silence.

"You mean love at first sight?" Jilly interrupts his carefully prepared speech, "That's silly. You didn't even know me."

"Even so, I knew in my gut that you were the one," Julian carries on.

"I thought you were cute," Jill says cheerfully, "Really, really cute. I definitely wanted to get to know you better."

"Which is why you blew off our first date," Julian laughs, following her down this sidetrack into their shared memory, leaving his prepared speech behind.

"I never did!" Jilly protests, and laughs, "Oh, you mean that day I blew off classes and you made Fergus call me?"

"You had promised to let me walk to class with you," Julian says.

"Well, that was hardly a date," she answers, "But still, I'm sorry if that's what you thought."

"I'm over it now," Julian answers, smiling fondly at the reminiscence. It wasn't that long ago, really. But so much had changed since their first meeting that it felt like years gone by. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Julian decides to drop the tender preamble he'd practiced and put his proposal out there in the most direct and simple way he could, "Jill, will you marry me?"

"Okay," she answers as casually as if he'd suggested they order a pizza.

"Just okay?"

"Should I do the same act I did in the restaurant for the fake engagement?" she asks, her voice teasing.

"No," he answers with vehemence, pulling her onto his lap to embrace her fervently, "I don't want you to fake anything. I just want to know that you want this, that you aren't agreeing just to be agreeable."

"Julian, baby, you know that's not me, I don't do things I don't really want to do," Jilly answers, wrapping her legs around his waist as he buries his face between her breasts, "Of course I want this. After everything we've been through, we've stuck together. I just thought it was obvious that marriage was the next step for us."

Pulling their clothes off each other in a desperate hurry, they fall back onto the couch together in a deep passionate kiss.

"I love you, Jilly," he says, his voice husky as he comes up for air.

"I know, baby," Jill answers, "You don't have to say it."

"I like saying it," he answers, "And I like hearing it."

Jilly smiles indulgently, "I love you, Julian," she says, groaning as he enters her.

"Again," he begs, holding himself still inside her as he waits.

"I love you," she sighs, and he thrusts again.

"Again," he demands.

"I love you," she answers,  her response become as much a demand as his as they move in time with the back and forth rhythm of their words, until the words themselves lose their meaning and become the song of their lovemaking.

"It's a good thing we own this whole island," Julian remarks with a chuckle as they lounge together after making love on their balcony. Their new house sits alone on a small island named, appropriately enough, Isla Romantica.

"I bet any creep with a telescope on their balcony could get an eyeful, though," Jilly laughs.

"I'm going to pretend that we have absolute privacy here," Julian laughs with her, "Otherwise, I'd have to get up and take you inside. And buy more curtains, too, probably."

They laugh together, making no move to go inside, too content to just lay in each other's arms out in the warm evening air.

"That day you disappeared," Jilly breaks the small silence, her tone grown serious, "I looked everywhere, I couldn't believe you were gone. All I wanted was to get you back, I would have done anything to get you back."

"I knew you would," Julian answers softly, contrite now, "I used that to lure you in, to rescue us both. I'm sorry I used you that way."

"No, don't be sorry," Jilly replies hastily, "You didn't plan to be kidnapped, and you just did what you had to get us back together, even if that meant tricking me. You're a very sweet person, Julian, but you can be ruthless and cunning when you need to. I like that about you, and it will definitely come in handy." She rests her head back against his chest, laying her hand over his at it wanders down her stomach, "What I was trying to say is, I'm not romantic like you are. I don't talk about my feelings much, though I'll try, for you. And I just wanted you to know how much you mean to me. I was lost without you, and I'll never forget that."

"I'll never forget it, either," Julian promises as she releases his hand to continue its travels down her abdomen, "Do you want to go inside or...?" he asks.

"Hot tub," she says, taking his hands as she stands.

The next morning, Jillyan was able to get in a few hours of scuba diving, catching a few more of the requested octopi to bring to the lab before their scheduled meeting with Fergus. After delivering her catch, she finds Julian at his station, and throws her arms around his neck.

"You are so sexy in your science costume," she purrs against his shoulders, "Dorky sexy."

"And you can really rock a wet suit," he replies, turning to embrace her.

"Fergus!" Jilly exclaims when her cousin joins them, "You'll never guess! We're getting married!"

"Actually, I had guessed as much," Fergus answers, "You'll have to put off any wedding plans, though, until you finish this mission I'm sending you on."

"Like you delayed your wedding so we could rescue Julian?" Jilly replies, her fists balling in anger. Julian wraps a gentle arm around her waist, calming her with his touch.

"It's okay," he whispers in her ear, "We're in no rush. Let's hear what he wants."

"Both MorcuCorp and my grandfather did a lot of back and forth time-travelling to one particular time and place. You know what I'm referring to," Fergus says looking significantly at Julian, who nods in response.

"Where your grandmother came from?" Jilly asks.

"Yes. The number of divergent timelines created by both Farrell's and MorcuCorp's interference has created an imbalance in that area. Unfortunately, it's an area already heavily imbued with fairy magic, including a portal into the fae realm."

"You think there might be contamination?" Julian asks.

"My grandfather brought an artifact home with him from France, a nectar bottle, that should never have existed in this timeline. There's definitely contamination, but how bad it is, I can't say. I'm sending you two to investigate."


I haven't updated the rolls on my sidebar yet, but I'll reveal it here. It's Couple, 2 kids.
So, Julian is here to stay. The original rolled secondary career was Business, but I've decided to take the expansion gift and change it to ITF Astronomy career. Though Julian has actually been in the household all this time, he's not worked at all. In the story, his career was going to be about his continued attachment to MorcuCorp under Fergus' reign, and I rather prefer him being in the scientific research area over the business side of things. It certainly helps to go along with Jilly's adventuring. For those of you who have not played the scuba career, you can actually get dive jobs from the science rabbithole (and from City Hall and the Bistro, too) so Jilly diving for octopi as an assignment is actually a real thing she does for her job.

I've torn down the science rabbithole in IP and replaced it with an open building that has science & chemistry stations and stuff, plus rabbithole rugs for the science building and ITF's astronomy career building. (Thanks, Misty!) I will eventually post the lot on my Simblr for anyone who wants it. It will be an IP specific lot, since it's a beachfront lot and being non-level will probably only fit in that one location.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chapter 69: Plans Gone Wrong

"Still nothing," Julian sighs after checking every news feed, every bit of industry gossip and corporate conspiracy site for even the smallest hint of a shake up at MorcuCorp, only to find, once again, not so much as a whisper of trouble. Something had gone wrong in his plan somewhere, but, what? Had Fergus not gotten the message? Was Tourmaline so incompetent that she couldn't find him despite the clues he'd left for Fergus?

"It's been a whole week we've been holed up here in the mountains," Jilly complains, "Maybe I should just call Fergus..."

"You can't call Fergus," Julian say emphatically, "If MorcuCorp doesn't know where we are, calling Fergus will bring them down on us."

"Well, that might be better than just waiting here, not knowing," Jilly says, obviously frustrated by their long period of inaction, "You don't have to worry about MorcuCorp. If they tried to take you back, they'd have to through me."

"That's actually what I'm afraid of, Jilly," Julian says, smiling a little at her self-confidence and eagerness for a fight even as he raises a hand to his forehead in dismay at the thought of her throwing herself against MorcuCorp's assassins, "MorcuCorp is ruthless. If Fergus hasn't taken them down, they will come after us. We'll never be safe anywhere."

"Then there's no point staying here like sitting ducks, right?" Jilly reasons, "If we aren't safe anywhere, we should keep moving and make ourselves a harder target."

Julian sits beside her on the edge of the bed, wrapping his arm around her waist. "Life on the run won't be as exciting you think," he says gently.

"We'll do what have to, to be free," Jilly says, giving his shoulder a comforting squeeze, "I won't let them take you."

Julian leans close to her, brushing his lips against her neck. She's reckless, over-confident and tends to see herself as the heroine of some action movie playing in her head. But it's not all her fantasy, she's got the skills to back up her bravado, and their situation is dire enough that he might need to use them. It's a bit of a turn on, he has to admit to himself; like Geoffrey, he has a strong attraction to dangerous blondes. But Geoffrey, in all his engineering of the Brannon line descending from Pearl's son Farrell, never anticipated the role Elliot's line would play in their lives. He couldn't have designed a more perfect woman for himself, and yet here she is, the true love who broke his curse.

"You aren't wearing my ring," he observes in a whisper, pulling away from her.

"I thought it would be weird, since it was a fake engagement," Jilly answers.

"Jillyan, you know how I feel about you. There was never anything fake about it," Julian answers, and then sighs, heavy with a new resolve. He can't, he won't, drag her down with him, even if it means he has to lose her. "I would give anything to spend my whole life with you, but..."

"If you're about to say that I'd be better off without you and that you're going to turn yourself in to MorcuCorp so I can escape...I will knock you out and chain you up," Jilly cuts him off.

"This is serious, Jill," Julian insists.

"And so am I," she answers, "I'm not going to let you just walk off and pretend things would be better that way. If we have to live on the run, that's fine. But I am going to be with you, Julian. Whatever it takes. We are in this together."

"I couldn't live with myself knowing I was putting you in danger," Julian protests.

"Stop that," Jilly says, "This is decided. No discussion. You aren't going anywhere." She frowns at him sternly, "Now, we need to make plans for our next move..."

This time it's Julian who interrupts her, silencing her with a deep, passionate kiss. "We aren't going anywhere today," he whispers, "Except back into bed."

Their attention focused on each other, they don't notice the door open until Tourmaline, gun pointed at them, orders them to get off the bed.

"Fergus, what the fuck?" Jilly asks her cousin, standing as commanded, putting herself in front of Julian even as he tries to move her behind him.

"I got your message," Fergus says, looking at Julian.

"I meant for you take MorcuCorp down, not to become one of them," Julian answers, his glance moving from Fergus to his former agent and back again, "You can't seriously trust her."

"I'm not the traitor here, Geoffrey," Tourmaline answers, "I'm the one sticking to the plan. You engineered Pearl to be the catalyst, to awaken the latent power the Brannons carried in their genes. You lured Pearl's son to seek out his ancestors, so he'd encounter Reinier Landgraab's daughter, betting on them producing children. You did all this to create an heir you'd never be able produce naturally, a super-Landgraab with powers your family has never possessed. And now that all your planning has come fruition, you want to use him to destroy us. But he's smarter than that, Geoffrey, smarter than you. MorcuCorp will be better, and stronger, under his leadership."

"So, you're the boss of MorcuCorp now," Jilly says to her cousin, "Why is she pointing a gun at us?"

"Jilly, move away from him," Fergus answers, "You don't know who he really is."

Jilly pulls out of Julian's arms, stepping deliberately between him and the gun pointed in their direction. "I know exactly who he is," she says defiantly to her cousin, "And I know who you are. This isn't you, Fergus. So call your bitch off and let us go."

"It's not that simple, Jill," Fergus says, "He knows way too much to just let him walk away."

"So you're going to murder him?" Jilly shouts, "I won't let you!"

Jilly takes a step forward; beside him, Fergus senses Tourmaline tensing, her fingers tightening around the trigger, ready to shoot.

It's not a vision, really, not like his mother's Sight, though her ability, latent inside him, might play role in the new talent he's unlocked in himself. But unlike his mother's gift, Fergus' sight is based on physics and mathematics, his mind making rapid calculations that let him see the immanent consequences that would result from the current course of events. 

Real time slows around him as he peers ahead into the minutes that follow this one, watches as Jilly presses forward, angry, threatening. Tourmaline will then shoot her gun, killing her instantly. Fergus watches his cousin fall into a widening pool of blood.

And Tourmaline will shoot Julian as well, but not before he falls in grief over Jilly's dying body, not even trying to defend himself or escape his own death, overwhelmed by his loss.

This surprises Fergus. When he learned who Julian really was, any grain of trust he might have nurtured for his cousin's lover was destroyed. But his sight undeniable in its truth. Whether he's Julian or Geoffrey, he loves Jilly enough to die for her. And that's all the leverage Fergus needs over his former adversary, turning a potential threat into an asset to valuable to waste.

"Stand down, Tourmaline," Fergus orders, returning to the present to stop the future he glimpsed from ever happening.

"Sir?" Tourmaline questions him, but complies, pulling her weapon away automatically at his command.

"We're all family here," Fergus says, "I'm sure we can work out a suitable arrangement, without resorting to violence."

Jilly relaxes her stance, but folds her arm across her chest as she asks, "What sort of 'arrangement'?"

"You, both of you, will work for me," Fergus answers.