Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chapter 8 Angel

Brandon watches me like he's waiting for me to burst into tears.

"What did you do?" I ask, my voice sounding small outside of the apartment.

"I asked him if you could stay."

An odd quiet falls between us. Somehow I doubt it was that simple. It couldn't have been. "And he agreed?"

Brandon pushes his hair back. "To a week more. That's it."

I dread having seven more days of counting down until I see Henri again and head off with him to wherever he goes. But at the same time I love Brandon for even asking for that extra time.

"Listen," Brandon says cautiously. "Angel invited us over for lunch. I'm going to cancel, and I'll be right back to make some lunch." He takes a half step to get around me and I almost hop in his way, one hand up to stop him before I even realize what I'm doing. Even as my stomach clentches nervously at the thought of meeting another dangerous tribe member, I also realize it's a chance to see Mitchell again.

My hand falls lightly onto his bare arm, and I realize that this is the first time I've ever reached out and touched him. It's an odd realization. He's put his arm around me, never for long and usually to comfort or to lead me away from bad things, but I've never reached out for him.

My free hand lightly grips his bicep and I look him in the eyes. I can tell he's a little surprised too. "I'm okay. I can go." My other hand holds the letter by my side. I can feel it, amazingly heavy for such a small envelope.

Brandon looks at me dubiously. I don't think I've ever seen a more sincerely dubious look on anyone's face before. "We don't have to." His eyes quickly jump down to my other hand down at my side, the one holding onto the envelope tightly despite my brain's attempt to completely ignore it, before meeting my own gaze again.

I bring my hands together and fold the envelope in half while keeping my eyes on Brandon. "It's okay really." As I stuff the letter into the back pocket of my jeans, a thought occurrs to me. "Wait-- is she mean?"

"No," Brandon says with a gentle smile. "Angel's actually a good friend of mine."

That helps put my mind at ease a little. I think about the "stray" from a couple of days ago, and how Brandon saved her. He wouldn't be good friends with someone like the person who'd taken the girl. It almost gives me a bit of hope.

The apartment is bigger than Brandon’s, though it is just as bare and the furniture is just as used and mismatched.

The first thing to catch my eye is the easel sitting in the living room right beside the window. The canvas is already sketched out, oil colors just starting to bring the picture to life. It stops me as soon as I enter, and it's the only thing I see for a moment. Unconsciously, a finger presses to my lips as I stand in quiet awe of the first object I think I've seen that has no real use other than to be beautiful and admired.

"Mitchell does them," a strange voice softly says as Brandon shuts the door behind me. Oddly colored eyes, turned slightly up by a smirk, watch me carefully, as if I might suddenly bolt. "We trade them at the village."

Brandon stands behind me near my elbow. When I don't say anything, my hand still pressed to my lips as my mind goes blank, he fills in the void by apologizing. "Hey man. Sorry we're late."

Frozen in my spot, I look at the man standing in front of me who now turns his smirk on Brandon. Bright blue hair falls over his face, and he tosses it back with a shake of his head as he reaches his hand out to Brandon. "I saw Mr. Smith. I didn't think you'd make it."

"You mean you were hoping. Now you've got to share Mitchell's cooking."

It takes a moment. Plates in the kitchen clink together as they are gathered, and my eye momentarily catches Mitchell far in the background putting the plates on the table. When I look back at Brandon and the man in front of me, it clicks.

He turns his eyes back to me as he reaches out a hand. "You must be Paula, obviously. I'm Angel."

I swallow, doing my best to be brave or a close impression of it. I take his offered hand, rough and calloused, in a firm handshake as he smiles at me, one edge turned up as if he knows how surprised I am.

"Nice to meet you," I say, unfortunately aware of how lame I sound.

Angel doesn't say anything about it. He warmly invites us to have a seat over at the dining table with the mismatched seats. The back of the apartment has less light than the front as there's only one window in the kitchen. But there is a candle sitting on the table, already lit and casting a gentle glow on the set table. Mitchell smiles at us as we step over to the already filled plates. I notice his smile is mostly on Brandon.

Brandon gently guides me to the chair on his right as Mitchell takes the seat on the opposite corner from mine, on the right hand side of Angel. I have to wonder if it’s another cultural thing. Their charges have to sit to their right like salad forks or something.

Brandon suddenly smiles though he tries to hide it with a hand that casually rubs at that spot just below his nose. Angel, Mitchell, and I all look at him questioningly.

“Sorry, stray thought,” he says with a grin. Angel rolls his eyes.

The food is simple, but really good. With each bite I try to pick out the flavors of the nameless dish, almost completely ignoring the way Mitchell never actually looks at me even as he smiles politely while Brandon asks him about his new art. I also manage to almost ignore the way Angel seems to watch me from his spot in front of me and the way the folded over letter sits heavy in my pocket.

The flavors of the dish mix refreshingly in my mouth like a salve over the wound of Henri's visit. But I try not to think about that. Instead I try to eat somewhat slowly knowing that as good as the food is, I don't think I'll be able to eat a lot of it and not pay later. My stomach still churns nervously. Maybe Brandon was right. Maybe I shouldn't have insisted that we come.

And then I hear, "Of course she's going with me."

I sit up a bit straighter and glance at Brandon, the spoon in my hand resting on my plate. "What?"

"To the village," Brandon says, like that's supposed to mean something to me. He seems to catch my blank expression and so, with a smile, he explains. "I go there about every two weeks or so to pick up supplies. And you're going with me." He has that twinkle in his eyes that makes him look like a mischevious little boy. Like the two of us are sneaking out to have some fun right under Henri's nose.


"In a couple of days."

There's a buzzing in my head from my jittery heart that makes it hard to believe him. Anything to get out of this horribly dreary place, away from the violence and from Henri and the invisible threat of his second in command.

It isn't until we're on the way out that I notice the small rack of weapons. The thing sits beside the front door on the opposite wall of the easel, holding dangerous looking knives, a couple of swords, other unfriendly looking devices, and a couple of guns. That shocks me, the guns look completely out of place in this world of no electricity. Somehow they look even deadlier.

I can't help the momentary hesitation that comes from my surprise, but I press on following after Brandon all the while hoping that Angel didn't notice. There is something wrong about the fact that this rack of dangerous weapons sits in the living room so close to Mitchell's easel that he has his back to it when he paints.I t's always present, right there in full view as if Mitchell would ever forget the difference between himself and Angel.

Next Chapter -->


  1. D'aww, Paula's so cutely naive for thinking Angel is a woman. (At least I think she did with the "--is she mean?" question. It may just be my tired mind playing tricks on me.)

    Angel seems like a nice guy like Brandon and Mitchell. Still don't trust him, though. I find the small rack of weapons in the apartment intriguing. Maybe he's some sort of weapons expert.

    The prospect of going into the village seems intriguing. I hope some good comes out of this for poor Paula.

    (That cap of Brandon raising his arm makes me remember how much I wish the Asian skin didn't have so much shading under the arm. I understand what the creator was going for, but yeah. :( I'd totally use it if it weren't for that. Instead, I settled for the moonlight skin for males.)

  2. lol, you're right. She did assume Angel would be a girl. Even tired, you caught that little bit.

    lol, is there anyone you do trust? XD

    The village will definitely be something. That's what I've been working on in CAW.

    ((And what the heck was the creator going for with those dark armpits? I loved Brandon's face in that one, but I haaaate his dark armpits. I'm tempted to see if I can lighten it up or somehow fix it and make some other modifications.))

  3. A trip to the village eh? Should be interesting to see what happens to her when she leaves the "safety" of the compound they're in.

    I also get the 'red armpit rash' on some of my sims, and that's with the EA made ones. I'll bring Brandon some ointment when I come back for chapter 9.

  4. Wow....what an interesting meal that was. So little was said, but so much was conveyed--you're so great at this!

    Mitchell was unaware of the family connection between Paula and Brandon, and I'm wondering if Brandon has kept that from Angel as well.....why would he do that? Though Angel knew that Henri was around and that it might disrupt their lunch...

    And why does Mitchell only look at Brandon? Weird. I wonder if it is a hierarchy thing--the strays have to entertain and look at only the one who has the most power at the table? Hmm....

    Angel is beautiful, by the way, which is just as it always is with your Sims (I'm so jealous!).

  5. Poida, would you? That would be great. This arm pit rash is a serious medical condition.

    I hope you like the village. Hopefully it'll be refreshing.

    Rachel, you bring up some good points. Since we're seeing this from Paula's point of view, she's completely clueless! And I had planned on maybe sharing Angel and Mitchell's story as a side story. That plan was sort of scrapped because Paula's story is so unruly, I'm still beating it into submissions.

    Tht being said, there is a reason that Mitchell is not looking at Paula. Actually there's probably at least two (there could easily be more which you can guess at), one having to do with the fact that he was unaware of Paula's connection to Brandon.

    I sort of hating dropping information into a comment that was not clearly indicated by the text itself. But we're never going to hear it from Paula 'cause she's never going to know. Mitchell likes girls, and he could very easily like Paula.

    And thank you. I had to work very hard on Angel. Don't know why it was so difficult with him.

    But you have Nick and Sean. Nick. AND Sean.

  6. Nick and Sean and Angel. Now there's a holy trinity.

    Love the mood you're creating with Paula's story. She's so different to Edith and Michael in many ways, but there is the same sense of unease about things. That ending was brrrrr-tastic.

  7. You know, for some reason, I kind of assumed Angel was a dude. I don't know why, especially considering they were talking about the "relationship" in Mitchell's chapter. (Is it *that* kind of relationship, between Angel and Mitchell?) Something had my gaydar going off though, ever since we met Mitchell.

    So that's interesting you say that Mitchell likes girls, which would mean it's forced on Angel's part? Unless he's bi, of course...

    I'll let you answer before I go off creating whole stories in my head from all this, lol!

    I can't wait to see what happens in the village! I love the descriptions of them sneaking off like a normal childhood adventure. Though I'm sure it will be a bit more complicated than that ;)

  8. Rad, LMAO! Oh man, If Angel weren't gay already, I'm sure he could be for Nick or Sean or both.

    Thank you very much. I worry about repeating themes too much. Both Paula and Edith are in similar situations, so I'm glad that the feel is different from the first story.

    Laura, I wondered if anyone would make the assumption that Paula had and at some point while re-reading the last chapter I was sure that not many would be surprised by this turn of events.

    And you and the creating of stories, lol! I will say that what I know is that Mitchell says he likes girls. That's what he's told me when I've written from his point of view. But he's been with Angel for four years now under his protection, and so in a way, his own way, I'm sure he loves him.

  9. There are so many things I love about your story; the very indepth world you've created here, the characters and of course the pacing. You pace out the events really well, nothing moves too slow or too fast, it moves enough to keep and hold the reader's attention.

    I have to agree with Paula about where those weapons were stored. I don't know how Mitchell could stand having his back to them.

    Also, I wonder ... this marketplace trip of Brandons ... I keep getting visuals of an escape plan to allow Paula out of Henri's grasp.

  10. Heh, it wasn't just Laura's gaydar going off here - mine was kind of pinging too. I don't remember wondering when we first met Mitchell but it crossed my mind this time

    "I t's always present, right there in full view as if Mitchell would ever forget the difference between himself and Angel."

    I really loved that last line. It seems like Paula has found herself in this fairly mundane-on-the-surface situation - sharing a meal with friends/acquaintances - and there's just a rack of weapons in the living room reminding of where she is and what kind of a world it is.

  11. Ha! A holy trinity indeed (though perhaps it is not exactly holy--given the types of thoughts each character usually inspires in the others...)! I still think LunarFox's faces are some of the most interestingly beautiful Sim faces out there. Carnaxa's too.

    Ahhh...I get Mitchell's discomfort now--before, he was fine because Paula was just like him and he couldn't even begin to think about her as anything but someone else's property. But now, she's unattached and he's having some trouble keeping his feelings in check, and he definitely doesn't want Angel to see that.

    I reread that part again, and it strikes me that Brandon knows this! I couldn't figure out what he was smiling about before when he says "Sorry, stray thought"--but now I think it is because he picked up on Mitchell's feelings for Paula. I think he can read minds. Or feelings. Yes I do.

  12. Oh, thank you Carnaxa. I was actually thinking about the pacing and wondering how necessary was this chapter even. (But it will be important later on in a slightly indirect way.)

    And I love speculations! That lets me know if I'm on the right track or if I'm being too predictable. Because I aim to be unpredictable without being distracting.

    Carla, thank you. Poor Paula is probably going to have these odd moments where her life seems normal and then something sneakily reminds her that no, everything is indeed quite different and she shouldn't forget it.

    Thank you, Rachel. That means a lot about the faces. They all look very different in my head, and I want them to be easily identifiable even if I changed their hair or clothes.

    And exactly. That's one very good reason for Mitchell to be a little uncomfortable. There are still others, lol. I should try sitting down and writing his story again, but with the side stories I do end up waiting for inspiration so who knows how long that'll be.

    And ha. Love it, yes I do. Answers will be coming in about three more chapters or so.

  13. If I had one word to describe this update, it would be assumptions.

    Or maybe I'm missing some points.

    Paula's assumption about Angel didn't surprise me. I'd make the same assumption, various vampire shows notwithstanding. Angel is normally a woman's name.

    Angel and Mitchell are living together right? Not sure, in the world you've created, that I'd assume they're lovers. Or exclusive or anything really.

    If Mitchell is sitting on Angel's right, like a salad fork (LOVE LOVE THAT!!), and Paula assumes that the 'charge' sits to the right of the 'charger', then why assume the weapons are Mitchell's instead of Angel's?

    I love Paula's reaction to the painting. The first object she'd seen that had no use other than to be beautiful and admired. Another assumption that's probably wrong, but a gorgeous, gorgeous description.

    Guys pick up on that kind of thing at least as quickly as women do - who is interested in whom. Not a bit surprised Brandon would catch Mitchell's interest in Paula.

    Always, always intriguing!!

  14. Ooo, SB, you are rarely ever missing points.

    First off, Angel's name, lol! Good point. I think it depends on our experiences as well. I purposely chose an ambiguous name. But where I'm from, Angel is more often a boy's name than a girls name! Isn't that funny?

    So I looked it up. According to this page, in the US, Angel is the 32nd most popular name as a boy's name meanwhile as a girl's name it is the 147th!

    It's good that you're learning to not assume. Mitchell and Angel's living together alone might not mean they are in that kind of relationship. But in Chapter 5 Brandon makes a point of telling her that what Angel and Mitchell have is "something completely different" from what Paula and Brandon have. When she asks for clarification, he says:

    "Angel keeps Mitchell around for more reasons than one, if you know what I mean." I sit there blankly waiting for something to magically enlighten me. "They have something of a... relationship."

    That's all you know which is still very vague. Paula (and you guys) still has to make assumptions.

    But I have to admit I'm not understanding your question: "...then why assume the weapons are Mitchell's instead of Angel's?" Paula is assuming that it's Angel's, and it disturbs her that on one side of the living room is an easel and the other a rack of weapons. That's a huge difference.

    Thanks for reading and commenting SB. I always love hearing your thoughts. You read things so differently even from me!

  15. You're right. I missed that about the weapons and the easel. And it is a huge difference.

    And I tend not to think of relationships as sexual first. Talk about assumptions! Which is probably stupid LOL! But sex rarely trumps power, or at least not for long, so I read that into everything.

  16. This chapter is almost like a (welcome) breather after the others.
    Everything is forever tinged by the strange light of a different sun... but there was something almost banal (mundane?) about these events. A nice moment with brother, going for dinner to a friends house... but nothing is ever 'normal', is it?

    Brandon and Paula have come a long way in a very short space of time. I think that Brandon is every girls dream of the older protective brother.
    Is he trying to give her some space to read her mother's letter when he proposes to cancel the visit to Angel's?
    The special moment of touching him and reaching out for the first time was beautifully portrayed. Humans are social creatures by nature after all and Paula has been deprived of physical contact for a while now.

    I thought Angel was a girl too and I was braced for a mysterious, enigmatic (and obviously stunningly beautiful - lol) amazon.
    Saying that, this Angelo is mysterious and enigmatic in his own way (and a very handsome Sim). Is his hair dyed or is this genetic in this world?
    I was suprised at Paula asking whether Angel was mean before they went there. I thought Brandon had already told her that Angel was a friend... and by now she should know that Brandon would not expose her to a meanie?

    I can't always follow her train of thoughts, she is so... I don't know how to put it, she doesn't think too deeply about things, often makes wrong assumptions when she does AND she hardly asks 'pertinent' questions. Yet in your organic tree-picture of all your stories together she was the stem everything else sprouts from - which makes her very important, right?
    That is probably why I find Angel's interest in Paula very intriguing...

    I hope they'll be safe outside the compound. I wonder whether there is more to the trip than picking up supplies and whether Mr Smith is aware that they are going there together. I think so actually, well... hope so!

    The weapons rack near the door makes perfect sense to me. That's where they ought to be in a 'military-oriented' world, right where they are easy to grab in case of an attack.
    But again, Paula surprises me with her comment that Mitchell paints with his back to them. I personally would be more worried that he paints with his back to the door... Then again, there isn't much light in the appartment, so maybe that's the best place to paint. I find it endearing that she obviously admires the beauty of his art, but doesn't think of the light issue... and goes for a most scary interpretation yet again. :)

    I really enjoyed this chapter!

  17. Oh SB, that's an interesting observation about how you view relationships! Now that is something I never really have thought about. Generally, the theme I enjoy playing with greatly is power. But I also spend quite a bit of time thinking about the sex, lol. I especially did that with Mitchell and Angel.

    Ah, Moondaisy! I really needed a pick me up today.

    Brandon and Paula have come a very long way rather quickly. I worried about that when I was writing it that it wouldn't be realistic. But she probably needs someone right now to help her feel normal, to stabilize her world. And Brandon... well... *mumbles incoherently*

    When he's trying to cancel, you're asking a very good question actually! And I will say that I imagine he is just worried that she's a little shook up after meeting with Henri.

    As for the touch, thank you. I think touch is important too. In particular here because she reached out for him. As she says, he's reached out for her a few times already.

    And lol! You'll eventually meet a woman who is of equal rank to Angel, so keep that image in mind. Maybe you're right!

    The blue hair, haha, good question. I would definitely imagine that it is actually natural, not dyed.

    But I did check back, and Brandon didn't ever actually say until she asked that Angel was a friend. Actually, I let it slip in the comments that Angel and Brandon were good friends. See? Dangerous with these comments.

    Oh, good observations about Paula as a narrator. That's exactly what I'm going for. She doesn't look very deeply, and she's full of assumptions. She's a girl dumped into a world she knows nothing about but she thinks she knows, so assumptions are definitely the name of the game!

    Does this make it difficult to read her story? Is she very frustrating as a narrator?

    As for that story tree-- see, I love that you remember and bring in things from previous stories! Actually, in that picture she was really only the center because I was working on her story, so all the other stories branched off of that. Ideally, I could possibly make other branches the trunk and so then Paula would become a branch, if that makes sense.

    But in a way she is important, just not in the way everyone thinks I think. I'm still having to work on it carefully, make sure everything is balanced because that's the other word for this story. Assumptions and balance.

    And lol, you too, huh? Well, that's two people who think that there might be another reason for going into the village other than to pick up supplies, and I tell ya now that I rarely go the expected route. (Which might be good or bad, yikes!)

    Oh thanks Moondaisy! That whole last paragraph is very interesting and very telling. You're right, she does end up going for the most scary interpretations. I think that's partially due to her state of mind. Even if she acts fine, it's clear she is not very fine at all. She's clinging to Brandon and a semblance of normalcy and she sees a threat around every corner.

    (But you're right about the easel and the light. That's exactly why I placed it that way, I figure that would be where he would get the best light during the day when he's working and Angel is out training.)

    Thank you Moondaisy!

  18. Well, like Paula, I also assumed Angel was a girl.
    And meals seem to have a lot of significance in this world. At least, it seems so to me.
    Ok, I am willing to admit, I may have been wrong about Brandon. Still dangerous I believe, but I think he really does care for Paula. Or for her sake, I hope he does.
    Going to the village? Should be interesting, as long as they don't wind up in a Diagon Alley type place. Or was it Knockturn Alley was the dark place? Sorry, Harry Potter on the brain.

  19. lol, Drew. Awesome. I'm glad some people were surprised!

    And yes, meals do have some significance. I mean, it's generally a safe time, it's comforting. And for Paula I think it holds some extra meaning too.

    And yay! I really do love Brandon's character, lol. There's definitely more to him than Paula knows right now.

    Knockturn Alley, yeah, lol. I wouldn't have remembered that off the top of my head. Good one. XD