"I can't believe this our last night together," Kai whispers, nuzzling his cheek against Alex's chest.
"It's not our last night together," Alex answers, squeezing his shoulder, trying to sound more reassuring than exasperated, "I'm not even going to be that far away; the house I'm moving into is just down the street. You can even see it from your window."
"I want to be able to do more than just see you from my window," Kai says, attempting a slight laugh but only managing a bitter cough.
"I know," Alex sighs, "I'm sorry." He's made the same apology, over and over, since he made it clear to Kai that he wanted to live separately. The fact that he was willing to uproot himself from the only home he'd ever known, where generations of the Torres family had lived, leaving his father behind, being unable to visit his mother's grave...that should have been enough of a demonstration of the fervor of his love, but Kai still wished for more, And Alex wished he'd had it in him to give. But try as he might, he could not.
Since graduation, they'd come to live in the house the Brannons had bought in Cape Garner. For Alex, it would be a temporary stay until he set himself in his own place, but for Kai, his parents' house was home, and he'd never choose to leave them. Alex understood his attachment, though his own familial bond to his father was not knitted of the same material. He was content to love his father, and his mother's memory, from a distance, just as he would be content to love Kai while not sharing a home with him. "Our love is strong enough for this, Kai," Alex says gently, trying again to give words to the feelings that flow from his heart, "We are one, no matter how far apart we are."
Kai wraps his arm around Alex's neck, holding back the tears he doesn't want to shed, "I don't want us to be far apart," he chokes back a sob.
"Sssh, mi amor, it's all right, it's going to be all right. I promise," Alex whispers, cradling Kai close to his chest, "There's no goodbye, here, and I'll never be far from you. I will see you everyday, if that's what you want. And I'll spend the night with you so often that you'll think I never moved out."
"It's not the same thing," Kai protests, "Not being able to wake up with you in my arms every day..."
"I know. I'm sorry," Alex whispers, words he's repeated so many times now he feels he will never be done saying them.
The Stark Research Center in Cape Garner offered Julian his own office and access to their well funded laboratories, but he still prefers to work independently and set up his own workspace in their new home. He, or, rather, Geoffrey, had a singular goal that he bent all his research in genetics towards, and had scrapped any threads of research that didn't fit in with his master plan, no matter how groundbreaking and important they might have been. As Julian, he was now free to pursue all those discarded threads, to make promising discoveries that would benefit all Simkind, and not just the glory of one corporation. While the Stark Center was no MorcuCorp. Julian remains wary of all corporate backed science, allowing them access to his research and consultation as he believes it will benefit him and his work.
Kai met up with Manisha at Grizzly's, a local watering hole with a decidedly Country Western flavor. The only tavern in town actually, open from lunch hour through dawn. And apparently the place to hold job interviews.
"Is this really a good idea?" Kai asks, worried that meeting his prospective employers for the first time in a bar might paint an inaccurate portrait of who he is, "I don't want to give them the wrong impression. I don't even really drink."
"It was Caryn's idea," Manisha tells him, "And if you want to work with her and Junior, you'd better get used to it. This is their favorite place."
Manisha introduces Kai to Caryn Arsenault and then promptly leaves them alone to conduct their business without her.
"My husband is right behind me, he's just out parking the car," Caryn says, and launches breathlessly into a discussion about the latest issue of Toadsim Ninjas. "I'd love to get our hands on the license to make a Toadsim Ninjas game, but Junior says it's not very likely."
Kai smiles and nods, trying not to fidget too much, too nervous around this outgoing, talkative stranger to speak, even if she paused long enough to let him.
Caryn's entrance is shortly followed by her husband, and more importantly, her partner in the game design company they'd started together.
"I'm Junior," he introduces himself, "And, yes, that is my actual real name that my parents, in their infinite wisdom, bestowed on me at birth. You can call me J.R. if you want, but no one ever does. So, Junior it is. And you must be Kai Brannon. Manisha has told me a lot about you."
Kai worries that his smile must look bizarre and forced, because it's certainly how it feels on his face, and his hand is probably too sweaty to offer to shake. But he should offer it, right? His cheeks flush at the indecision, and he wishes he could just drop into a hole in the floor. He's not going to get this job, obviously.
"Do you play pool?" Junior asks, leading Kai toward the nearby table without waiting for a response.
"I figure we can do the interview thing while we play," Junior says, "That way it's less of an interrogation."
"Is Caryn--Mrs. Arsenault--not going to be part of the interview?" Kai asks, noticing his other prospective boss seated at the bar with Manisha, and fearing he might have to survive two separate interviews,
"Ha, don't go calling her 'Mrs. Arsenault', that's rule number one. She hates that," Junior laughs, "Caryn is the lead programmer of our team. I'm the 'people person', so I get to do all the face to face work." As he speaks, Junior bends over the table to line up his shot, slowly pulls his stick back and then shoots, dropping his ball into the pocket. "Booyeah!" he cheers for himself, and then continues, "Manisha says you majored in Technology, but you are also a talented artist," he prompts.
"Uh, yeah...choosing between art and tech as my major was a really difficult decision. I love them both equally. I also write a lot. Stories."
"Great. We're a small company, and we need multi-talented people. Right now, we're primarily after people with a creative background, but having technical knowledge will be a huge asset for you."
By the time the game is done (Junior won) Kai is feeling comfortable enough to relax with the couple as they share a platter of greasy onion wings, which Caryn promises are the best thing about Cape Garner. Outside of a few questions about his abilities, the 'interview' seemed more like a social event than anything formal, and by the end of it, Kai felt he'd made two new friends.
"Come by the office tomorrow," Junior says as they are making their goodbyes, "We'll take care of all the formalities then. You know, forms, paperwork, hours..."
"You mean, I got the job?" Kai sputters. He'd been expecting a 'we'll get back to you in a few days' response at best.
Junior laughs, "Honestly, you had it before we got here, based on your through the roof test scores and the glowing recommendations of your professors. We just wanted to meet you in person before sealing the deal. And you're pretty cool, so, you're in."
"Me? I'm not cool," the words slip out before Kai realizes what he's saying.
"Neither is Junior," Caryn laughs, "Welcome to the nerd based gaming industry. I'm sure you'll fit in just fine."
Alex's house is on his way home from the bar, and when Kai notices his car parked out front, he decides to drop in and share the good news with him.
"Hey, it's great to see you," Alex greets him with a warm embrace, "How was the job interview?"
"Aced it," Kai beams, "I don't know how, but I managed to impress them. I'm going in tomorrow to set up a schedule and stuff."
"Of course you impressed them," Alex smiles, "I told you you were a shoe in. Congratulations, I'm so happy for you."
Alex has his own good news to share, he's found an agent who's excited about his writing and is confident he can get him an advance on the novel he's been working. "It's a huge relief that I will be able to work at home," Alex finishes, "I was dreading having to get a job in an office or something."
Kai returns the congratulations, happy that they had both gotten what they wanted. "But," he adds, "You know you'd never have to work anywhere you didn't want to. My family is rich enough to..."
"Believe me, I know how rich you are," Alex laughs, "If my mother were here, she'd be reminding me about it everyday. And you know that is why I'd never be happy to take your money. I love my parents, but I'm not like them."
Alex dips Kai down for a sudden deep and passionate kiss. The celebration of their successes today has put Alex in a rare high spirit, breaking his normal quiet reticence. Days like this are a rare gift, and Kai knows well that this openness is something Alex shares only with him.
"Let's go out," Alex whispers, breathless against Kai's ear, "Let's celebrate."
Cape Garner boasts some the loveliest coastlines in all the world, and the couple walk across the street to an old jetty with nothing but its natural beauty to attract visitors, here they can watch the sunset alone, together, celebrating in the only way they'd enjoy, away from noise and crowds.
"Do you miss me?" Kai asks. "I miss you."
"I saw you yesterday," Alex answers, and worries that they are never going to get past this. Even on a day as happy as this, Kai is still sad about their living arrangement., "And we're together now."
"Now, yes, but what about tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow you start your new job. And I have to work on my novel if I'm going to get that advance my agent promised. When we're done with work, we'll be together again."
"What about tonight?" Kai asks.
"Will you stay with me tonight?" Alex asks in return.
"I'd like that."
So here's Generation 2. The family has moved to Cape Garner Islands (Jill, Julian and Kai only. Dylan is staying behind in IP with Luther and Biscuit. )\Alex obviously was also part of the move, but he as moved out to his own house very shortly after arrival. Kai has already rolled a wish to move in with him. Poor Kai, your roll is not kind to you, there.
Kai has started his career in the Video Game industry. Junior Arsenault is his boss, and his wife Caryn is a co worker. They were both generated by the game. I edited them in CAS to not be puddings.
Julian is mostly pretending to work. Nothing he does right now actually earns money. He could, but the family doesn't really need income right now. There are a couple of dive spots here that Jill will of course check out, but I doubt I'll have her doing much in the way of actual work, either.
No matter how informal your job interview is, I'm pretty sure talking about your naked boyfriend is a no no. Just saying.