Darwin had almost forgotten how annoying it was to have an infant to take care of. At least his worst worries had not come true - Clover stuck it out with him and helped take care of baby Diamond as if he were her own.
Still, both of them could not shake the pangs of regret they felt. They never voiced their feelings on this matter, but there was a definite feeling of resentment at being thrown into a situation beyond their control.
Quiet, solitary moments were few and far in between.
Darwin was thankful to Clover for not resenting him, though.
Sheryl Shukepoj-O'Dourke grew into a child and visited her favorite uncle Bloom all by herself. She was a cute one, even though she was afflicted with the dreaded chin pox, a disease that had emotionally scarred generations of children all across SimNation. But she'd grow out of it eventually.
When Dolores wasn't working, she spent most of her time at the gym. Physical fitness was paramount to climbing the ranks within The Organization. She was very single-minded in her determination, but she spotted a familiar face, Dolores took a break from her workout.
"If that isn't the badass hot dog ninja," she said by way of greeting. "What's up with the get-up? Finally went out and bought a proper costume?"
He laughed, flashing his bright white teeth. Others might have taken offense to her mocking tones, but not this guy.
The young man was visiting the gym because he had just joined up with the military and the facilities at Hidden Springs' base were notoriously under-equipped.
"So tell me, buzz cut, why did you join that bunch of losers anyway? Was it because of the oh-so-stylish haircuts? Because let me tell you, it's not doing you any favors."
He ran his hand over his stubbly head, almost knocking off his hat, apparently flustered for the first time.
"Well, I do miss my hair," he confessed. "but to be honest, I had no idea what else to do after graduating. So I did what my parents wanted and followed my big brother into the military."
"That was the single most moronic thing I have ever heard. And with the incredible density of idiots in this town, that's saying something."
"You might be right," he chuckled.
Maybe it was this laid-back attitude that kept Dolores talking to him, or maybe she just wanted to see just how many insults it took to wipe that smile off of this one's face.
Another night, another workout.
"I took your advice,", a voice called from behind her.
"What are you talking about?" she asked as she got off the treadmill. "I don't give out advice, not for free at least."
"I quit!" he grinned. "What you said the other day made me think. I don't want to be in the military, never did. So I quit. Growing out my hair again and all... And I thought to myself, if I could be anything, what would I be, you know? So I signed up as self-employed at city hall. I'm going to be a professional photographer!"
"A professional photographer, huh? That's cute. I have an uncle who does that."
"You do?" he sounded genuinely interested.
"Yeah. He's kinda old, single, and lives in a tiny shack with his equally old and single brother. It's pretty pathetic, actually. But I'm sure you will make it big."
"Well, just make sure you don't forget about good old Hidden Springs once you're jet-setting around the world," she continued. "Humble beginnings and all. Will make a great story when you're rich and famous."
"Rich and famous? Nah, not me. I just want to be happy. Content, you know? And I think... I think I found that thing now."
"Wow, such ambition!", Dolores mocked.
Laid back? Or just too soft to fight back? Dolores wasn't sure, but there was something about this guy. Maybe it was that smile of his. Or those eyes...
But then, out of the blue, a woman walked up behind Dolores and slapped her!
Dolores struggled to control her rage, but she wanted to know the reason behind this behavior before she destroyed that stranger.
"What the hell?! What was that for!?", Dolores demanded.
"OH, I know your kind! I know who you really are," the woman replied in an unnervingly high pitch. "I can tell from your eyes, yes, yes... those demonic eyes. Yeeheess... and the hair too. Others do not see but I do. I know!"
The young man stepped forward from behind Dolores, trying to get between the two women. "There, there, Minzi. Calm yourself. Where's your---"
But before he could finish, he was shoved aside brutally as the two women got ready to pounce on each other.
"I'll say it again. WHAT. THE. HELL." Dolores was fuming, ready to strike, but still dissatisfied. "Explain yourself! NOW!"
"Don't you try using your mind control powers on me! It won't work! I know that's how you snatch up all the eligible bachelors in town, you... you preying mantis! But NO! Not Minzi Cho! I am immune to your space rays, alien! Try as you might... OH, and HOW you've TRIED! But not Minzi, NO! NooonoNO! Minzi Chohoho-Nohohooo!! Not Minzi! "
The woman was talking herself into a frenzy. She was nigh on unintelligible.
It wasn't quite clear who attacked first, but soon there was a wild scuffle.
He looked on in horror, struggling between the need to step in, but not wanting to physically restrain or possibly hurt one of the women.
Before he could make up his mind, it was over. Dolores was victorious. Minzi never stood a chance.
"YOU," Dolores hissed, pointing her fingers at the panting woman's chest, "You just made the biggest mistake of your life. You messed with the wrong Sim."
He was obviously uncomfortable with the situation.
But before he knew what was happening, Dolores strode over to him and pressed a kiss on his lips.
Dolores wasn't sure if she really liked this guy, but right now this felt like the best way to seal her victory. Rubbing it in. Marking her territory.
He obviously misread her intentions.
"I- I'm Trent, by the way," he breathed as they broke apart.
He was actually a pretty good kisser. Not that Dolores had anything to compare it to, but still.
Minzi, in the meantime, stared off blankly into space.
"Trent, was it? Want to come back to my place for dinner?"
And so they went. Trent, beaming. Dolores, gloating.
He had a pretty nice car, but Dolores was too preoccupied to notice.
"What was wrong with that chick?!", Dolores said, more to herself than anyone else, as she looked back over her shoulder at the gym. To her surprise, Trent spoke.
"That was Minzi Cho", he stated quietly.
"I've gathered that much, thanks."
"She's known all around town - are you telling me you've never heard of her?"
Dolores remained quiet. Not really talking to anyone much, besides the occasional snide remark, she was unaware of any of the gossip that passed between the housewives in this little town.
So Trent continued. "Well, apparently all Minzi ever wanted was a husband, a couple children, that whole deal, you know? There was some pressure from her parents involved as well. But because she was off in the head, she never got past the finding a husband part. Or maybe that's why she became off in the head. The stories are a bit unclear on that. Anyway. She's certifiably insane. But you know the state of SimNation's institutions... so people just let her be, you know? She lives down by the lake, all alone. It's pretty sad actually."
"Well, that b*tch had it coming.", Dolores muttered under her breath.
"Nothing. Turn left here!"
It was late when they arrived. All the lights were out, everyone asleep.
Dolores raided the fridge for some leftovers.
"Hot dogs?", he asked, quirking an eyebrow.
He was too much of a gentleman to stay the night. Dolores wasn't sure if she should be disappointed, or relieved.