It was amazing how much friendlier boys were when they weren't afraid you were going to impregnate them.
Not that Dina was even sure how pollination worked (she assumed it involved sufficiently advanced technology). She wasn't even in contact with anyone who could tell her. But there were some things you just couldn't live down, and her "family history" was one of them.
To put it bluntly, Dina and her sister were ¼ alien. Her father was the result of the abduction of her grandfather, Nestor Caliente. It wasn't something you could tell just by looking at her—unless you knew what to look for—but she'd grown up in a place where strangeness was nothing to hide. So, for the first fourteen years of her life she'd never thought of hiding it.
Two years after her mother's death, the family had left the desert in search of better jobs and better schools in the humid suburbs of SimCity.
In her freshmen English class, for once Dina had done her homework and written a paper on her paternal grandfather (the hook of the paper was that she technically had two paternal grandfathers.) She'd even volunteered to read it out loud to the class, figuring it would impress her new classmates the way it had the old ones in Strangetown.
It certainly had made an impression. By the lunch hour of that same day the entire school had heard about the Calientes' heritage, though the rumors going around were more "loosely based on a true story" than anything else. The most anyone in town knew about alien abductions was what they'd heard on SBN news, bastion of panic and moral outrage.
As it turned out, being descended from a species most famous for impregnating men was not a turn-on for most teenage boys. Or at least not a turn-on they could openly admit to having. Not that there weren't some desperate ones willing to overlook anything for a little action. For example, Nina's ex-boyfriend:
Dina had chosen to live the single life rather than lower her standards. Unlike her sister, she could (and did) live without snogging. She was more affected by the things people said behind her back (and to her face) and the difficulty of finding friends that she hadn't shared a womb with.
Things could have been worse. Being skinny and blonde and fairly normal-looking still came with its privileges, but in the context of her own life... things could have been better.
And then she'd accidentally broken her sister's brain.
Now, in the shadow of the Sims State tower, was the chance for atonement, and Dina knew all too well what her sister needed to recover from her breakdown.
"Lookin' good, ladies. Green has always been my favorite color!"
Dina wasn't going anywhere near Parker Langerak, no matter how much was in his wallet. Sure, a part of her couldn't help but wonder if he was related to Illiana Langerak of the Langerak Dynasty, whom she often read about in Rat Race magazine— but no, she wasn't even going to look at him.
Anyways, a slacker with mommy's money wasn't really her type of millionaire. She was looking for a socially awkward genius who had the potential to become the richest man in the world (or at least SimNation.)
"The dean's nerdy son. He's got his own little batcave up there."
It felt like a four hour climb to the top floor. The "nerd" turned out to be a lot better looking than she'd expected, satisfying her turn-on for black hair. He was too engrossed in some computer work to notice her come in, so she tried to break the ice with a witty and somewhat suggestive observation.
"Wow, you have a really big telescope!"
"Indeed," he said, not looking away from his computer screen.
"I haven't seen one of these in a while. Seems like everyone got rid of them after what happened to that guy in Riverview."
He still didn't look at her. "That story has been completely misconstrued by the media. I assure you, the scientist in Riverview has never been happier in his life. It's not a cause for panic; it's a triumph of science."
It took her a moment to absorb this. Though it was nice to hear, she wasn't sure if she actually agreed. She lost her thoughts when she noticed what was hanging over the boy's desk.
It was a child's painting, which gave her the chills before she even realized why. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the artist had decided to draw a girl with ketchup-red hair punching a man with a top-hat, mustache, and monocle while a yellow-haired girl look on smugly, but it was still an eerie coincidence. There were green-eyed, yellow-haired, alien-headed girls staring down at her from around the room, but their situations didn't look so familiar.
"My daughter drew that. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be."
"You have a daughter?!" He couldn’t have been much older than she was.
They were interrupted by some jockish looking guy coming up the stairs, not that there was anything interruptible going on.
"Hey, Morty, Bella just called—" His voice dropped out as soon as he saw her.
"—who's this?" He said it with such an accusatory tone that Dina had to assume she was trying to seduce his boyfriend.
"I have no idea," Morty replied, but didn't seem too concerned about it. "What did Bella want?"
"She wants you to pick up a 24 pack of crayons for Cassie on your way home, and it sounds like she expects that to happen soon." He turned his attention to Dina, looking her over with a curious smile before actually speaking. "You must be lost. The party is downstairs, not on my brother-in-law's desk."
Dina blushed. "Thank goodness. Six stories and only one exit? If there was a fire this place would be a deathtrap!"
"I'm not a homewrecker," she said, as they started down one of many staircases. "I just didn't think to look for a wedding ring. He looked too young to be married let alone a father."
"He is too young. Ridiculously young, he's just rich enough to get away with it." He seemed to believe her, as he didn't press the matter. "I'm Mike, by the way. Michael Bachelor, which —unlike some people in this building— also describes my status."
She wasn't sure what to think of this guy. He wasn't giving off bad vibes, but she was conditioned to recoil from anything in a letterman's jacket. "I'm Dina Caliente. My name describes me too."
He grinned. "I think I met your sister a little while ago. She was kicking the ass of the evil cow mascot."
"Sounds like her. She probably thought it was a stress-induced hallucination."
They passed some more paintings on the next floor. "Hey, this picture kinda—"
"No, it doesn't."
Her tone of voice must have scared him because he quickly changed topics. "I haven’t seen you around here before. Are you a student here?”
Dina hesitated, not sure of the wisest way to answer that question. "No, I’m just visiting. I just graduated."
"Nice. We have our commencement ceremony soon but I won't be finished until after the summer semester. Where are you from?"
Dina thought about it for a second. "Hell."
"Really? You know, I would have guessed the opposite."
"Wow. Don't be too smooooth on these steps now, you might slip and break your neck."
"Sorry, it's a hard habit to break," he said with a laugh. "So what are you into?"
"If we're talking hobbies: music, film & lit. But if we're talking school, the only class I stay awake for is econ, though I'm okay at math as long as there's simoleon signs involved."
"Wow, I'm guessing you're planning on making it big one day?"
"No." She spun around to face him. "I'm planning to marry someone who did."
That wiped the smirk off his face. "You mean, like a gold-digger?"
"No...like Cinderella," she said, as she swiveled back around and kept walking. "Or the heroine in an old screwball comedy."
"Hmmm, you know, I've seen a lot of those kinda movies—I mean, of course, that my little sister forced me to watch them at gunpoint." They reached the bottom floor; he got to the door first and it held it open for her. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the gold-digging screwball heroine usually choose love over money in the end?"
"Always," Dina said, her voice husky, "and then the guy turns out to be secretly rich."
"Well...." It took him a few seconds to figure out what else to say. "Congrats on having your life figured out— I don't. That's why I'm a philosophy major."
"Seriously?" She almost snorted, more from surprise than derision.
"It's what they stick you with when you can't decide. The career advisors here weren't much help; they told me the best track to an athletic career was a degree in Show Business."
Dina tried not to cringe. "So you are a jock."
"Honestly, I don't know what I am anymore."
She raised her eyebrows. "What the hell are you gonna do with a Philosophy degree?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know and you're graduating next semester?"
He shrugged. "Would you like to dance?" There was music in the air, but it was strangely off-key.
"I don't dance," she said, pausing a moment to see if he would try and coerce her. "I sing, though."
She didn't try and make him do a showtune, figuring that would be pressing her luck. (Though, maybe at this school it would make sense for showtunes to be a jock thing.)
Asked a girl what she wanted to be
She said baby, can't you see
I wanna be famous, a star on the screen
But you can do something in between
Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I'll love you
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
He was a schmoozer, but so was Dina, and it soon became clear he was friendly to everyone, not just the people he wanted to woohoo. Really, if he had any sort of career aspirations at all he could have made good use of his many, many connections. Most importantly, he had good hygiene, which was a vast improvement over the last few guys who'd tried to hit on her.
By midnight, Parker was passed out from an overdose of Nina Caliente, the most intoxicating substance to be found at this event.
"Wow. I haven't seen a party this wild since my 8th grade promotion dance."
"Wait ‘til they break out the Myshuno game."
"I could go for a little Myshuno, right now, actually," Nina said, elbowing her pillow in the ribs. "Parker?" The word "Myshuno" brought him back to life.
"Would you like to join them?" Mike asked.
"Nah. I saw an SBN expose on how Myshuno's corrupting the youth of SimNation and leading kids to the occult."
He chuckled and leaned back. "Well if you have a problem with that, I should warn you that I'm descended from a long line of occultists, mystics, and decadents."
That would explain a lot. "Mystics, huh? Does that mean you —or your immediate family— can maybe, see the future?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Not me." He coughed and looked away. "My sister's the eccentric one...or at least, she tries to be."
"Too bad you didn't get any of the decadent genes. I really like decadence."
After a brief silence, he asked, "Got any plans for the summer?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"Parker's mom's got this huge vacation house on the beach and we're all going. You know, Chris, Melissa, Bubbles, Llama-boy. I was wondering if you'd like to come with us? And Nina, too, of course."
"I can't," she said, trying not to look at him, "but I wish I could, more than anything."
"Okay, then." He sat up and scooted over next to her. "Why are you upset, baby? Was it something I said?"
She shook her head and smiled sadly.
"Anything I can do?" His fingers grazed the back of her hair and settled on her shoulder. Without his jacket, it was his skin against hers.
"You sure about that? I'm not secretly rich, you know."
"Kiss me anyway."
She wondered if he could tell she had no idea what she was doing, or if that was even a potential issue.
Somehow he was able to tell when her mind started wandering; maybe it was his occultic DNA. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing you've done," she whispered. "There's just something that I need to confess."
"Okay. What's that, baby?" He pulled away from her, looking a little apprehensive.
Dina took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I’m 18-years-old."
"What? You told me you just graduated!"
“Oh no!” He searched for words. "That's kind of an important distinction, Dina!"
"Nina and I started school later because our birthday is in the Fall. I’m starting La Fiesta Tech in a few months. It’s not that big of a difference.”
"Yes, it is. You’re barely out of high school! And I'm gonna be out in the real world soon enough!"
Dina got to her feet and followed him as he walked away from the fire. "And I'll be out of your life before then, so don't worry about it. I wasn't expecting a long-term commitment. Were you?"
"I don't know."
"You say that a lot."
His voice got softer. "Why did you lie to me?"
"I didn't technically lie; I just refrained from correcting the misconceptions that I deliberately caused." He gave her a look that made it clear that was a moot point, so she continued, "I guess I just didn't want to be seen as someone who could be taken advantage of."
"Yeah, I would have left you alone for that reason. I'm not some creep who goes around hitting on Freshmen girls." He made a face.
"Well, I'm glad you made an exception for me, however unintentionally." He let her get close enough to touch him. "And I don't think you've corrupted me or anything, if that's what you're worried about."
"Anything else I should know?" he sighed.
There was one thing she could think of but it was not exactly vital information. She decided if the subject came up she would tell the truth, but only if it happened to come up.
Credits, Et Cetera :
My author's notes for this chapter are so ridiculously long I'm going to put them in another entry. Click here for a discussion of Michael Bachelor and premade continuity. Please comment there if you have any questions or concerns about the timeline!
"Baby You Can Drive My Car" is a Beatles song, of course.
My version of Michael is available here.
I'd like to call attention to Michael's separated, untuckable Letterman's jacket, made by Jaccirocker a.k.a. pkheartznroses. She went above and beyond and learned a whole new skill to make it so that it can be worn with any bottoms. Grab it over at her dreamwidth!
Also, thanks to trappingit for converting Dina's top!