The house isn’t much, just one floor and a loft up above, with a shed out back, but it’s theirs, and that makes up for everything, when it comes down to it. It’s the one thing Church had never dreamed they’d be able to have, as much because he never quite thought they’d be able to afford it as the fact that she’d actually said yes.
Allison has opinions about everything, from colors to patterns to what kind of fabric they should get for the curtains, even if she makes him do all the work of buying things, and Church doesn’t complain, doesn’t do anything but smile and kiss her hair just for the way she barks at him.
They have this, finally, and he won’t give it up for the world.
She smiles more, too. Once, she never would have dreamed of showing him a softer side to her, just the hard edges he’d fallen in love with, but he’s finally learned how to make her laugh and smile and reach for him, and he thinks he loves her more than anything.
They settle in, unpacking boxes and ordering furniture and decorating, and little by little it’s less a house and more a home, and when he wraps his arms around her every night, he can’t imagine things being any other way.
It’s everything he’d ever worked for, everything she’d fought for, and it gets more perfect every day, all the way up until she smiles at him and presses his hand over her belly and slips her arms around him that he realizes it’s all too good to be true.
Church draws back, hands shaking, and doesn’t hear her asking what’s wrong, doesn’t feel her hands against him, trying to snap him out of it, he just remembers, remembers what he’d never seen, her body twisted and broken, bleeding out and that’s not right this can’t be happening it’s not real—
( end simulation )
The hand sliding over the keyboard is worn and spotted with age, and as the message pops up on the screen ( new fragment gained accept y/n ) they shake as he types in the command.
“Why don’t you take a break while we process the fragment, sir?” the Counselor says, voice low and quiet, and Church simply shakes his head.
“Start up the next simulation. Let it run a little longer this time.”
Church leans back from the terminal, watching the way the AI tries to pull itself back together without the fragment it had just lost, and doesn’t notice when his hand slips into his pocket, thumbing over the ring tucked inside.
He still wonders if she would have said yes.