When we last saw the Liu family, we learned that I accidentally caused irreversible harm to one of my most treasured Sims, and started teetering on the verge of destroying two families at once.

for heaven’s sakes, keep it in your pants

All we can do at this point is damage control. That is, someone’s going to get hurt no matter what happens, but we can help Xiyuan do some soul-searching. Xiyuan has to figure out whether or not he wants to pursue Mike, whether or not he should divorce Aileen, and, if so, whether he should leave immediately or after Shu ages up, or suck it up and go back in the closet.

While he mulls it over, they can eat in separate rooms, I guess.

There’s no immediate reason to leave the house. Aileen and Xiyuan are both good-natured, extremely close, and agree on their priorities.

Shu’s lucky to be a daddy’s boy, because he could very possibly have 3 daddies.

We have plenty of time to consider every possible situation and reflect on the merits of each. First, whether running off with Mike is worth it. Xiyuan calms his nerves as he visits the Jeong-Espinosas for the first time since they almost blew it, using Shu as an adorable distraction.

Let’s stand in increasing order of emotional turmoil and eat our feelings! Yay!!!

Claudia answers the door. Mike is in the kitchen baking cupcakes; would you two like some? Come in!

He was hardly a stranger to having Claudia shove food in his face. She always had to feed everyone, ever since she became the third roommate. Mike was a lot of fun, but Claudia always had this sweetness about her that put people at ease. Xiyuan briefly considered what would happen to her if Mike suddenly up and left, or she discovered he was having an affair—but the pain was enough to make him physically cringe.

Are you okay, hun? Have another cupcake.

He looked around at the house, with Mike’s comedy award next to Charlie’s frog in Claudia’s shiny kitchen, and finally felt like an outsider. Settling down had changed Mike, and he was no longer the unencumbered free spirit Xiyuan knew. There was no possibility of Xiyuan ever convincing Mike to leave or harm his family. He hated to acknowledge it, but pursuing the person he felt closest to in the world would likely alienate everyone else he cared about.

Xiyuan gave his best friend a parting hug, right before Claudia walked up to give Mike a hug in the same spot. That was it; he chose Claudia. Xiyuan was an afterthought. If anything could have happened, it was too late.

Xiyuan drew distant from Aileen as he tried to mourn his lost love in private. But both families were still best friends, so when Mike invited the Lius to Ghost Night at the bar, he shoved his feelings deeper into the closet, past the Halloween costumes and winter coats, and prepared for another unbearable night out.

That’s when he did The Thing.

The Thing that instantly shot him straight to the top of my list of best Sims of all time, beating out every colorful character, legacy founder, self-insert and local legend that I’ve made over decades of simming. The Thing that was an optimal combination of being a total fucking idiot, and, at the same time, so brilliant that he actually outdid the planning of a real human. The Thing that must be phrased as a multiple-choice question.

Imagine, for a moment, you recently discovered you’re gay and are handling the delicate situation of balancing self-actualization with the needs of your beloved family. You see a beautiful stranger while at the bar with your wife. Do you:
a) Trick question! I stayed home because going to the bar seems irresponsible.
b) Keep to yourself and have a talk with the wife when you get home.
c) Throw all caution to the wind and introduce yourself all sexy-like.
d) Option c but also the stranger is a 19th-century ghost.

XIYUAN YOU MAGNIFICENT FUCKING BASTARD.

(Let me clarify here that, unlike with Aileen, I had no part in establishing this relationship whatsoever. He just walked over to the ghost, showered him with rose petals, and then kept flirting. This screenshot was taken after the fact because I wasn’t even at the computer when it happened. This does explain why I had so much trouble finding him a romantic partner in the first place, because on top of being a deeply repressed gay man, Xiyuan is also apparently a massive freak.)

Nobody’s wife was happy.

YES, THE GHOST’S WIFE WAS ALSO THERE. SHE SLAPPED HIM TWICE. This happened ages ago and I can’t look at these pictures without choking on my tea from laughing too hard.

This is the second time Aileen caught Xiyuan flirting with a guy. She managed to keep from slapping him, but was too angry to even look him in the eye.

She stormed off and tried to calm herself down in the mirror.

When that didn’t work, she dragged him out of the club, where they had a huge fight.

Nothing could save it.

yeah buddy, something tells me that wasn’t going to work anyway

The Hot Ghost Situation is what led to Xiyuan and Aileen sleeping in separate beds, Aileen keeping the master bedroom because she wasn’t an adulterous piece of shit and Xiyuan sleeping in the bed he got as a career reward (why?! What are the logistics of that?) in his old upstairs bedroom.

doop deedly doop doo science, la la la

Shu has absolutely no idea what’s going on. He continues to play the perfect little angel, duct-taping the rapidly fraying string holding his parents together. He wants nothing more in life than to play with his friends, play with his toys, play the violin, and do homework. Oh, is his homework done? Can I do the extra credit, please? Just an all-around studious little scamp who lives to make his parents happy.

And it’s working! That’s autonomous busking, btw.
It’s not the Spice Festival without a kid playing the violin while his parents yell at him. He earned 17 Simoleons, so he just paid for his parents’ drinks.

Xiyuan, having been banished to the upstairs portion of the house, spends most of his time hiding in the studio until Shu comes home. He waits until Aileen leaves for work to eat or shower.

So, totally different from before?

At some point, he had to decide between staying long enough for Shu to grow up or leaving. Patching things up with Aileen was no longer an option—he didn’t so much come out of the closet as run out screaming, light the closet on fire and walk away in slow motion while it exploded. Perhaps he needed to know what he’s missing in order to make that choice. That’s how he ended up going out to meet some guys.

Where do we go? The haunted house! BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT YOU LIKE

Unfortunately, he miscalculated: the ghosts must have been sleeping. But then!

IT’S HIM

Well, now, this is interesting.

At first, he’s put off by the man’s intensity, the culture shock, the size of the house. But the ghost recognizes Xiyuan! The ghost says to call him Bernard. Bernard asks, do you want to know how I died? He joyfully pantomimes himself being burnt to death, hamming up his own suffocation until he finally goes limp. “Eh?” he gestures, looking for a reaction. Xiyuan doesn’t have one at first, but then laughs nervously at the realization that this man has been dead for over a century and still gets a kick out of disturbing tourists. Fascinated and charmed, Xiyuan finds himself being drawn in—but the guilt drives him to leave. He walks back home feeling more alive than he’s felt in years.

The pain of staying in his house becomes unbearable, and Xiyuan starts to have nightmares about withering away in his second-story prison. His love for Shu is the one connection left he has with this place. But Shu is a fast learner, and needs his dad’s mentorship less every day.

This is Shu reaching level 10 in violin skill. It’s the same first maxed skill as his dad.

This is when Xiyuan is convinced Shu will recover. They can spend weekends together in the city. They’ll go to the museum together, busk in the parks, and spend hours painting next to each other. The kid absolutely idolizes his dad, and one day he’ll understand why he had to leave.

Xiyuan leaves the house and all of the money with Aileen, taking only harvestables, masterpieces, and treasured items. He leaves a few things for his son: the Starry Night bed, the portraits of Aileen, the canvases. So with a goodbye sad painting,

and a goodbye hug,

Xiyuan prepares to actually move on.

Shu doesn’t know that when he comes home from school, his dad will be gone.

It’s going to take some time to get over the trauma, but this was the right decision for everybody. None of this was actually a mistake: Xiyuan needed a hard push to find himself, Aileen was removed from obscurity to live the life of her dreams, and Shu came into existence. Nobody had bad intentions. Nobody wanted to be mean.

All three members of the former Liu family are faced with individual challenges: to acclimate to life without Dad, to find an identity outside of “Xiyuan’s wife,” to possibly convince a century-old ghost with surprisingly nuanced views on gay interracial relationships to leave his wife and mansion to move to uptown San Myshuno. It’s not even clear whether we’ve figured Xiyuan out yet, or if he’s using his obsessive artistry to hide even deeper secrets.

But now, looking out of his penthouse window, Xiyuan’s life is actually beginning.

EPILOGUE: He’s ok, folks.

Hell yeah, apple painting
The Liu Family Makes a Tough Call
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18 thoughts on “The Liu Family Makes a Tough Call

  • November 28, 2019 at 4:34 am
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    “because on top of being a deeply repressed gay man, Xiyuan is also apparently a massive freak.)” Hey, don’t kink shame the man. Some people like ghosts *shrug*
    Imagine doing so well at work your boss gives you a bed. There’s no way to accept that gift well.

    Reply
    • November 28, 2019 at 3:01 pm
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      True! Sorry, Xiyuan, you’re a precious sunflower and it’s none of my business what you’re into. (I can’t use Wicked Whims or any of the spicier pose packs because it’s like watching your children or parents have sex. No thanks.)

      Reply
  • January 5, 2020 at 6:54 am
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    You mean you never get whole-ass beds for a Christmas bonus or something? Weirdo.
    So that’s where that Tumblr post with Bernard came from!! Now I get it! I’m wishing Xiyuan all the best, man. Massively respect the dude for following his dreams even if those dreams involve screwing a literal ghost. You just do you, man.

    Reply
    • January 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm
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      Look, we’re both academics. We both know I’ve never gotten a Christmas bonus because I’m never going to have a real job.

      (Spoilers! My tumblr tends to go a bit Xiyuan-heavy because I love that pretentious lil’ necrophiliac.)

      Reply
      • January 5, 2020 at 6:44 pm
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        You’re totally valid… I barely know him yet and I already love him too.

  • July 5, 2020 at 3:43 am
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    Bhahaha this is hilarious! I mean, I realise the whole broken family part is sad, but hey, it’s better for them down the line. Props to Xiyuan for thinking outside the box as far as finding a solution to his predicament goes…

    Reply
    • July 5, 2020 at 3:11 pm
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      Laughing at the outside-the-box bit. That’s his motto now. Xiyuan Liu: Think Inside the Coffin.

      Reply
  • July 17, 2020 at 8:54 pm
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    Oh damn, there is some overt foreshadowing in this chapter. I’m not going to point it out because I only noticed it upon my reread and it wouldn’t be fair for me to spoil stuff. Damn. Damn! Okay.

    I always love your jokes in the photo captions. This is probably just me, but I was particularly tickled by “Let’s stand in increasing order of emotional turmoil and eat our feelings! Yay!!!”

    It all goes back to Xiyuan, yeah? The first domino to fall, so to speak.

    Reply
    • July 18, 2020 at 12:27 pm
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      (note to other people: I did not know what the overt foreshadowing was and she had to explain it to me. That’s how intricate this thing is, lmao)

      Fuckin’ Xiyuan, man. This is tooting my own horn, or really maybe Yuan’s horn, but it’s been two years and I STILL can’t look at those screenshots without laughing.

      Reply
  • April 7, 2021 at 7:37 pm
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    Bernard’s wife also being at the big coming out fiasco is the chef’s kiss garnish on the plate here. Wish I saved that line for the other family but ah well. 😛

    Reply
    • April 8, 2021 at 1:47 pm
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      Hahahah… ugggh… yes, that’s a solid J.-E. pun for sure, feel free to use it again down the line when we’ve all forgotten this. And, dawg, this scene is going to get a hell of a glow-up. Mimsy pimp-slapping Bernard is in the top 1 of things I can’t wait to draw.

      Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 1:39 am
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    Ooof! What a wild ride for everybody!

    XiYuan’s That Thing is like Athena’s That Thing for me. I waited ages for her to autonomously get romantic with any sim. I was so desperate I switched off aging. And finally, she chose the half-dead guy. 😏 Not as impressive as AI picking the best multiple choice and dealing with so many hard topics but I am simple to please XD

    “”It’s not the Spice Festival without a kid playing the violin while his parents yell at him. He earned 17 Simoleons, so he just paid for his parents’ drinks.”” That is just wrong on so many levels and brings up so many memories. 😂

    Reply
    • May 5, 2021 at 8:59 pm
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      You know I approve of Athena’s ultimate choice… mostly. It was the pink that did it. And then again, spoilers. Spoilers!

      Ahahaha, was that too real? Shu’s just bringing big magnet-school energy here. I just hope they let him keep the cash (pssssh! you better give me my $17).

      Reply
  • January 6, 2022 at 12:15 am
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    Woah. Haha. So Xiyuan’s into male ghosts or 19th century men enough to flirt with one of them in front of his\their wife!! That’s definitely unexpected. I wonder how Bernard feels about his love life after death.

    Reply
    • January 7, 2022 at 12:11 am
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      Right?! Just imagine how disaster Yuan would have to be for his soulmate to be an undead 19th-century manslaughterer.

      Reply
  • January 6, 2022 at 9:23 pm
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    hoo boy i wasn’t expecting it to become so emotionally touching (i just want my precious boi Xiyuan to be fulfilled and happy 😭 <3)

    at least there are some 24-karat solid gold comedic quips in the picture captions to keep me laughing through the pain 😂 😭

    …and ghosts 😏

    Reply
  • May 24, 2022 at 10:15 am
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    Poor Yuan. All these realizations just fucking bombard him like spit balls. He likes men. His marriage is a sham. He is in LOVE with his bff who is ALSO married with children. Claudia is too sweet to fuck over. Upon seeing LOTOR: I want to fuck you like a revenant. Yuan is fucking all over the place with his feels.
    Him leaving (divorcing) Aileen and leaving Shu HAS to be the shit his parents are phoning about (not to mention what has Iliana getting wet by playing detective) in Haunted.
    I mean, maybe Yuan does need an intervention…er therapist. Like he can’t tell Mike about his feels, he can’t tell anyone who is close to him. He’s just making these LIFE-CHANGING decisions that effect others. Ay Yuan.

    Damn. If I ever come back as a ghost my #1 pickup line will be “wanna see me pantomime my death?” Can’t wait to live up my slut aspiration post-mortem! Can’t wait to tell guys I can’t tell if it’s in b/c I can’t feel it. Anyways, good for Yuan, his ghost-crush wants to crush him.

    I was kinda hoping to see the barf sun in the parting paintings, but maybe that’s later?

    I need more …. because I am seriously confused. “Aileen was removed from obscurity to live the life of her dreams” Is obscurity a far worse life than to be chosen by Yuan, live a financially stable life, but not have the love you thought you were sharing with someone (I guess that might be me projecting that she felt that way, but homegirl was angry with Yuan for openly-flirting with ghost dude and told him to sleep somewhere else…in the house).

    LMAO, good luck, Yuan. I hope you get that ghost dick that you crave, but it seems like, if he wants Ghosty to leave his wife, that he’s looking for more than a rebound. He wants to go from one relationship into another. Yuan. You just found out that you’re into dick, maybe you should like take it for a test drive? Several times. With several people… or ghosts. No? Okay, ruin another home, you home-wrecker (or maybe he has a vigilante complex and thinks he needs to liberate all the men from their marriages).

    Reply
    • May 26, 2022 at 1:30 am
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      “I want to fuck you like a revenant”—very accurate, killed me. Yes, Yuan is all over the place; and yes, his divorce is exactly what his parents are calling to yell at him about. You can see where his core character developed from this chapter alone, and have already pointed it out. Looks fancy. Is fancy. Driven by intuition. One million opinions. Total prick about grammar. No impulse control. I repeat, NO impulse control. Has two speeds: on and off. Is both a world-class genius and an impossibly dumb fucking idiot.

      I’ll say nothing about what Shallot likes in bed but forgot to state again how amusing it is for me that despite me not saying anything about sex positions in order to not enforce stereotypes/not enforce tropes/bore the fujoshi away/give my virtual kids some privacy… people can still totally tell. And everyone who’s guessed, guessed correctly. I don’t know what that says about me or my characters.

      I SHOULD HAVE PUT THE BARF SUN THERE DAMMIT. (Check Haunted 1-1 again, though, for an Easter egg.)

      Is it worse? I don’t know how NPCs feel about the player characters achieving more in life than they could ever dream of. Her situation certainly is complicated enough to deserve a second look. MAN am I glad I started that comic.

      Again—love Yuan, love him with all my heart, and he is also a stupid motherfucker who can’t keep it in his pants long enough to not do adulteries. I don’t condone this behavior, either. But from behind the fourth wall, it’s hard not to humor your sim when you leave to get tea and when you come back, he’s picking up a ghost in front of both their wives. Haunted might make the rebound aspect better? It clarifies Yuan has at least had a college boyfriend and an unspecified number of random hookups, and maybe a weird not-boyfriend-not-fwb, by this time. Enough experience to know he’s really a one-man man and just wants to find his person.

      Reply

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