1:06 a.m. | Oldmerrow River
“It looks like because of the heavy snow, and prediction of troublesome upcoming weather, a storm warning has been issued.” Danny says as he and his friend Bruce cross one of the walkways over Oldmerrow River to return to their lodgings.
“Good thing we were already on our way back. It doesn’t look too bad yet.” Bruce says. “Hey, it looks like there are people in the river!” Danny exclaims, as he directs his friend’s attention to the waters below.
“You’re right… What on earth are they thinking? One of them looks unconscious, let’s go help.”
Come on Persefoni, get it together. Wake-up and say ‘I told you so.’ Kim thinks as she begins pulling Aislyn out of the icy waters. The further along they drifted, the more she began regretting suggesting the idea. Even though Kim herself could handle it, she could sense Aislyn slipping before falling unconscious altogether.
“If you die on me, I’m going to kill you.” Kim says aloud in a state of panic as she drags Aislyn onto the snow. “Need some help?” A voice says behind her. “She turns and sees two men running towards them. Kim figures the odds of running into yet another pair of criminals were slim; besides, she was too desperate to refuse any aid considering Aislyn’s current state, so she accepts. “Yes please.” Kim replies.
The taller of the two men offers Kim his coat and shoes, to which she says thanks, before bending down to pick Aislyn up with his friend. “We were walking back to this place we rented which isn’t too far from here. Can you manage?” He asks. Kim, who wasn’t aware of how violently she was shivering until this moment nods. “Let’s go before this weather worsens.” The other man says, and they begin walking along.
After a few minutes they enter a rather isolated house in a neighborhood Kim doesn’t recognize. She is enveloped in warmth the moment she steps in, but doesn’t get to truly enjoy the feeling because of her concern for Aislyn…
The same man who had offered Kim his coat instructs her, and a girl who was sitting inside when they entered, to take off Aislyn’s wet clothes in an empty room while he waits outside. He then enters and places Aislyn in a bed, before tending to the wound on her face. Kim infers he’s a doctor of some sort, but doesn’t get to ask, as she also needs to ditch her wet rags. Once she feels the blood pumping warmly in all of her extremities, she takes a last look at Aislyn who still hasn’t woken up, flicks off the light, and exits the room.
“Why isn’t she waking up?” Kim asks as she re-joins their two saviors and their friend.
“Everyone’s recovery time is different.” The jacket lender says. “You’re lucky you didn’t experience more extreme side effects of hypothermia as well.” He adds.
“I can tolerate the cold fairly well.” Kim says as she sits down. “I’m sorry; you’ve done so much to help us, and I didn’t get a chance to say thank you or learn your names.”
“Don’t sweat it.” The man sitting next to her says. “I’m Danny.”
“I’m Kimberly, and my friend who has yet to wake up is–”
“Aislyn, right?” The blonde girl says, cutting Kimberly off. Surprised, she nods. “You know each other?” Kimberly asks.
“I’ve asked her for a favor before; I’m Jo. I’m glad you guys are all right.”
“While Jo is right that it is a relief you guys are okay, I can’t help but ask what on earth you two were you thinking? Swimming in the river in this weather with such inadequate clothing…” The man on Jo’s left interjects. “I’m Dr. Renolds, by the way, but you can call me Bruce.”
“Well, Bruce.” Kimberly says. “We didn’t have a choice, it’s kind of a long story… Speaking of which, do you have a phone, I need to contact my friends.”
“We do, but since the storm warning, the phone lines have been down. The power has been flickering on and off as well.” Jo says. “Since, we have to wait around until your friend wakes, and we can’t call anyone, why don’t you enlighten us with that long story?” Danny asks.
As J.D. sits in front of the fireplace that the people residing here put on to keep Aislyn warm, he can’t help but feel rather down. Granted, he and Jacob managed to help Aislyn and her friend escape, but he still felt so… useless. And the only other time he has felt like this was when Aislyn was hatching her plan to catch the two criminals she’d lured to her place a few months ago, and it nearly didn’t work out.
J.D. knew he was dead, he didn’t know why or how that was the case, but he knew he was. And so, he also knew there would never be an instance in which he could help Aislyn in any way other than through his words, and that never bothered him until these instances in which she was in serious danger, which was more often than she’d like to admit.
Seeing her like this, without being able to protect her, made him feel pathetic. He wasn’t oblivious to how much he’d come to care for Aislyn, and he wasn’t sure it was a good thing for either of them since it was only a matter of time before she’d help him uncover his past and he’d move on for good…
He moves over to the bed beside her and watches her take small, silent breaths; breaths he himself no longer could, and wonders how Aislyn will take to him being gone when the time comes for him to go. How would she feel mourning someone she never truly got to meet?… And what about him? If he did find out where he was buried and what happened to him, would it easy for him to leave this life he’s gotten used to behind?
As J.D. lets his imagination run wild, Aislyn begins stirring in the sheets. “Ow…” She groans as her lids slowly open. Her eyes dart around before lying on J.D. “Hey there, Sunshine.” He says, wiping the grimace from his face. “Are you in pain?” He asks.
“No.” Aislyn protests as she gets up. She tucks her hair behind her ear as she does so, which indicates to J.D. that she is lying. “You sure about that?” He says disapprovingly. “Where am I?… Where’s Kimberly?” She asks. “About that…” J.D. begins, but is interrupted by the door opening…
The light flickers on, hurting Aislyn’s eyes which were accustomed to the dark, unfamiliar, room she was in.
A man she doesn’t recognize enters, and she is feeling apprehensive as J.D. hadn’t answered either of her questions yet. “How are you feeling?” He asks.
Aislyn refrains from answering and glances at J.D. “It’s okay, Sunshine. He’s alright.” He says, and Aislyn drops her guard a little. “I’m fine.” She says.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” The man says as he walks over and grabs Aislyn’s wrist. She pulls it back, but he reaches for it again. “Relax.” He says. He presses his index and middle finger on her vein and stares at his watch. “Do you normally have a low resting heart-rate?” He asks after a few seconds.
“I think I heard him say earlier that he’s a doctor… If he isn’t, what he just did would be weird.” J.D. says after he moves closer. Aislyn resists the urge to smile. “Yeah, I do.” She says. “I’ve tended to the wound on your face as best as I could given what we have available here. You won’t need stitches, but try to refrain from touching or covering it; it needs to air out to best heal.” He says.
“Thank you… Mister?…”
“Bruce is just fine.”
“Well, you’re probably wondering where your friend is, she’s right outside. After you.” Bruce adds, while gesturing towards the door.
Aislyn steps past him to exit the room and finally feels, for the first time in a while since their whole ordeal began, a sense of relief when she sees Kimberly sitting safely on the couch.
As Aislyn gives her a smile, she looks around and sees another young man sitting down, as well as an unexpectedly familiar face. When Aislyn sees her wave, the name of the blonde girl sitting before ventures to the tip of her tongue.
Kimberly interrupts her attempts to remember the girl by rushing up to give her a hug. “Oh, thank goodness.” Kimberly says. “You had me worried there.”
“I told you going into that water was a bad idea…”
“A bad idea, that ended up turning out alright.” Kimberly counters.
“How long was I out?”
“A few hours.” Kim answers.
“And how did we end up here?…” Aislyn asks, suddenly aware of the clothes they were both wearing. “Bruce and his friend Danny there carried you here after I pulled you out of the water once you passed out.” Kim says. “We happened to be walking by at the time.” Bruce chimes in.
“I guess we were lucky you were…” Aislyn says. “Thank you.” She adds as she turns to both of the guys in turn.
“Jo there gave us these clothes and helped me get you out of yours as well.” Kim says, and Aislyn feels some heat rise to her face at the thought of others seeing her body.
Upon hearing the girl’s name, Jo, she remembers exactly who she is, and glancing at her face again, Aislyn recalls how she knows her…
– FLASHBACK –
8:00 a.m. | Liberty Library, 2 months ago
It was a relatively slow morning; Aislyn had just finished stacking away misplaced encyclopedias when she hears someone cough to get her attention. When she turns around, she sees a rather pretty young blonde girl standing before her. “Hello.” She says. “Hi.” Aislyn says back.
“Can I help you?” She asks. “Yeah, do you have any books detailing life in Oldmerrow? Like a tourism guide or something?” The girl asks.
“I’m sorry, Oldmerrow isn’t a popular town like the nearby cities of Bayville or Ravensburg, so those kind of materials are pretty non-existent. Are you new?”
“I don’t live here, but I’d really like to get a feel for the city… As soon as possible. Any suggestions?” The girl asks. “Well, how long are you here for? I wouldn’t mind showing you around if that’d help.” Aislyn suggests.
“That would be perfect!” The girl exclaims, Aislyn notices she doesn’t answer her first question. “I’m Aislyn.” She says.
“You can call me Jo.”
“Well, Jo, when would you like to–” “Does tomorrow work for you?” She asks, cutting Aislyn off.
“Tomorrow would be fine, but I’m working until four–” “That’s fine!” Jo says, cutting her off yet again. Aislyn wasn’t sure if her enthusiasm was endearing or annoying.
“Want to give me your number?” Aislyn asks. “Umm… can I just meet you outside of here tomorrow, whenever you’re done with work?” Jo asks. Aislyn found her lack of information odd, but didn’t push for answers, since it would be hypocritical of her to judge someone for having secrets. “Alright.” She says.
“Perfect! See you then!”
12:00 p.m. | Ranny’s Diner, the next day
The next afternoon at work, Aislyn had filled Mai in on her plans for the evening. “And she just left? Without giving you any confirmation other than her word that she’ll show up outside the library later?” Mai asks suspiciously. “Well, I found that odd as well, but she seems harmless enough…” Aislyn says.
“If you say so…”
3:42 p.m. | Aislyn’s Room
“So you’re telling me this chick just tells you to meet her so she can take a tour of this old town?” J.D. asks. “Sounds quite weird to me. What if she shows up with some shady dudes and tries something?” J.D. adds with a smirk.
“In broad daylight?” Aislyn says with an eye-roll. “I’m just saying.” J.D. says. Aislyn had left her shift a bit early to get ready, and despite her dismissal of J.D’s remarks, she too found Jo’s request to be strange, but her curiosity overpowered her sense of doubt.
“I’m going to head out now.” She says.
“While you’re having fun playing tour guide, I’m going to be spending my time wisely trying to see if anything regarding my past pops up.”
“Alrighty. Later.” She calls over her shoulder as she heads out towards the library to make it on time.
4:11 p.m. | Outside Liberty Library
Though Aislyn wasn’t expecting otherwise, she still felt a bit surprised to see Jo sitting on the bench outside the library as she approaches. Jo waves enthusiastically when their eyes meet, and Aislyn can’t help but smile.
“Were you waiting long?” She asks. “Not at all! I can’t thank you enough for this.” Jo says. “So what exactly do you want to see? Are you planning to move here, do you want to check out places to live?” Aislyn asks.
“No, no, not at all. I want you to show me Oldmerrow the way someone who lives here would see it. Where you’d hang out, where you’d buy your food, cool things to do, etcetera.”
Aislyn figures that for someone who was planning on living here, which she had to assume since Jo wasn’t divulging any information whatsoever, a tour would be the first logical step. “Follow me.” She says.
6:53 p.m. | 24 Hour Gym
After a while of showing Jo seemingly mundane things like the best place to get groceries, the prettiest park, the cinema with the best seats, and so on, Jo, who was commenting on everything, fell silent once they entered the gym’s pool area.
“You alright?” Aislyn asks. “Yeah.” Jo says in a solemn tone. “Is this what you wanted, because I feel like I’m boring you, and–” “You’re doing great.” Jo says, back to her chipper self. “Let’s keep going.” She adds.
7:42 p.m. | City Hall
After making their way through most of downtown, Aislyn ends her tour at city hall. “Well, that’s just about it. Do you have a feel for Oldmerrow now?” Aislyn asks. “Yup, I do.” Jo says.
“Is that Aislyn over there?”
“It looks like it…”
“What a convenient coincidence.”
“This is where we part ways. Thanks for all you’ve done today, Aislyn.” Jo says.
“I didn’t do much, are you sure you don’t want me to–”
Aislyn’s words are cut off due to her being swept literally off her feet by a pair of arms. “Hi there.” Gus says, as he kisses the base of her neck. “Woah.” Jo says. “You better know this guy. If not…” Jo adds, as she tentatively reaches her arms out.
“It’s fine.” Aislyn says, slightly breathless from being surprised. “He’s–”
Her words are cut off, yet again, by Gus spinning her around and giving her a kiss. “I’m her boyfriend.” Gus says with a grin after he pulls back.
He drops his hands into Aislyn’s which flusters her as she wasn’t used to such public displays of affection just yet. “What are you doing here?” He asks. “Um… I was giving my acquaintance here, Jo, a tour of the town.” Aislyn says, collecting herself. She supposed it was normal to do these things in pubic with the one you were in a relationship with, but she couldn’t help but still feel slightly embarrassed. “Hello.” Jo says.
“Jo, this is Gus and Cailean.” Aislyn says, pulling her hands out of Gus’s and gesturing to them in turn. “Nice to meet you.” Cailean says. “What’s up?” Gus chimes in. “Same here, and not much.” Jo replies.
“I’m actually on my way out. Thanks again, Aislyn.” Jo says. “It was no trouble at all…” Aislyn begins to say, but Jo already begins walking away. “So does this mean you’re free for the rest of the day?” Gus asks. “I guess so…” Aislyn says as she watches Jo walk out of sight…
After recalling that encounter, Aislyn realizes she hasn’t seen Jo again since that day. “Long time no see.” Jo says as she joins her on the couch. “I’m guessing my tour didn’t help you out much since I haven’t seen you around.” Aislyn says.
In the brief time Aislyn got to see her, she inferred Jo was someone normally bright and upbeat, and the drop in her expression when Aislyn speaks indicates that there was a sensitive subject she was avoiding discussing. “No, it didn’t… I’m really thankful though.” Jo says as she drops her gaze. “Sorry to hear that…” Aislyn says, doing her best to keep her curiosity at bay.
“Kimberly has made us roughly aware of what’s happened, and we understand how important it is for you guys to get to the police station. The moment the weather clears out, we’ll take you straight there.” Bruce says as he takes a seat.
“You guys must have a lot of people worried sick.” Danny chimes in.
“Yeah…” Aislyn says absentmindedly. She hadn’t gotten around to thinking about anyone other than Kimberly and herself at all, and a feeling of guilt began to creep up inside of her. The fact that Nicole and her father would be coming to town had completely slipped her mind… which means they’d be aware of her disappearance. Not to mention all the others they were with during their hangout which now felt like eons ago… Her mind also drifted to Gus whom she hoped wasn’t somehow blaming himself for leaving her alone outside…
1:00 p.m. | Oldmerrow Police Station
“Nearly sixteen hours now, and still no new developments… That storm didn’t help our search efforts at all.” Commissioner DeCarlo says.
“Officer Ramirez took the parents to a nearby café to get some air and something to eat now that the weather outside has cleared up a bit.” Officer Turner says. Commissioner DeCarlo sighs and nods. “What should we do now?” He asks in her silence.
“Nothing.” A voice at the door says.
The moment the storm outside cleared, as promised, Bruce, Danny and Jo – who lent Aislyn and Kim some shoes that were a tad too small – drove them all down to the police station. An officer who was on his way out saw them and escorted them all inside, he told the others to wait in the waiting area while he brought Kimberly and Aislyn to the commissioner.
“Contact Ramirez now and tell her to head back here.” Commissioner DeCarlo says. Aislyn can see the weariness in her face and can only imagine how their parents look. “Are you alright?” The commissioner asks.
“Yeah.” They both say in unison. “How on earth did you guys get here?” She asks. “It’s kind of a long story.” Aislyn says. “Well, I can’t wait to hear it, but that can wait. Your parents will be outside any minute…” At those words, Aislyn and Kim take off for the double doors they entered through.
Aislyn sees a woman with a striking resemblance to Kimberly walking in the distance with a female officer she recognizes, before laying eyes on her father and Nicole. The relief on their faces nearly breaks her heart when she thinks about how worried they must’ve been. She runs into their embrace, as Kimberly does the same, and for a moment there is nothing but silence.
As she rests in their arms, she pushes out all other thoughts… What she plans on telling Commissioner DeCarlo when the time comes, where J.D. and Jacob have gone off to, what Gus, Cailean and the others are doing and how they must be feeling…
The million things that were swimming across her mind get shoved onto the back-burner while she takes in this moment where, after a few exhausting hours, she feels warm, comfortable and safe…
Thanks for reading! Well, another wordy chapter I’m afraid. I kind of killed most of my weekend working on this, because my game kept crashing, haha, but I managed to get it done though :’D I finally introduced Jo, whom was the mystery female I’ve mentioned before as being important~ I’m curious as to what you think of her. I’ve started working on the next chapter and I wanted to give a teaser, because there was no Cailean here, but I also don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just tell you he and the others will appear soon :3
I hope you all have a wonderful week~ I know mine shall involve some binging as I’ve finally gotten around to starting some stories I’ve been excited to read, both here in the simlit community and some novels that were lying on my nightstand… Can’t wait to delve further into all of them 😀 Take care!