Friday, February 12, 2010

Chapter 8.5 Clean Up

It's a day or so later later when Brandon and I are sitting on the couch trying to reach an understanding about the appeal of television and there's a knock on the door that makes me jump.

There have been a couple of times people have knocked at Brandon's door. He always answers, and then excuses himself if he has to have a word with the person on the balcony. This time it's late, and both Brandon and I are ready for bed. Dinner was hours ago, and the sky has been dark since. It puts me slightly at unease for some reason, though I assume it has to do with the dark and the semi-eerie light from Brandon's old oil lamp.

Brandon gets up casually, the space where he'd sat suddenly lacking in the warmth of his protection. I shake that off once again sure that it's just because it's dark and late and time for bed.

At the door, he opens it a crack to speak with the person, his face changing ever so subtlely when he sees who it is. He glances back at me as if he's mulling over what to do, and I half expect him to excuse himself again.

But he doesn't. He steps back, opening the door to let the person in with hardly a word. For half a moment, my heart stops and my breath slows as I fear Henri's decided to come for me early.

It's Angel who steps in with a glance at me as he smoothly walks over to the bathroom. I pull my legs close to my body as he walks past as if trying to give him room even though there's plenty. There's something different about him, and I notice it right away.

In the dim light, I can see his hands stained, dirty, the same color on his pants. I don't say anything. I don't think it. There is no emotion on his face as he walks past, but he looks tired. His bright eyes are dull. Quietly, he closes the door to the bathroom.

Brandon walks over to the bedroom without saying a word and without looking at me. The water from the bathroom sink hums deeply, filling in the uncomfortable silence in the apartment.

I'm sure my eyes are huge by the time Brandon steps out of the room with a pair of sweat pants in his hands. He knocks on the bathroom door, handing the pants over when Angel opens up a crack.

My legs are folded tightly under me as I sit on the couch still taking in the entire scene, the muscles too stiff to untangle. Brandon takes his seat next to me again with a slight sigh and a look of apology like it was a hard decision on his part to let me see that.

In a whisper much too quiet, I ask him, "What happened?"

He runs his hand through his hair. "He needs to clean up and change before he goes home."

"What? Why?" I must really sound like an idiot, but my brain seems to not want to have to deal with the work it would take to understand.

"Because he doesn't want Mitchell to see him like that." Brandon's voice is gentle and patient, but his eyes are keen as if he's watching me closely for my reaction.

So I take a moment to try to understand what he's telling me. He could have asked me to go to the bedroom if he really didn't want me seeing that, but he didn't. My eyes search his as if I'll find the answer written on his face that will explain everything to me. "But-- Mitchell knows, right?"

"Knowing and seeing are two different things."

Angel comes out wearing Brandon's sweat pants which are a little too large for him. He thanks Brandon who stands up and tells him not to worry about the clothes; he'll deal with those. With a last thanks, Angel heads off.

Brandon then turns to me. "You'd better get some sleep. We're heading out to the village tomorrow."

I nod as I walk to the bedroom, the scene playing over in my mind. There was clearly something I was meant to take from all that. But as I take off my glasses and place them on the small table next to the bed, I can't help wondering if Brandon does the same thing for me too. Another way of protecting us, perhap, by simply never telling us. Like a split personality, with us one way, and out there another. And so I fall asleep not thinking about Angel or how he works to hide that part of himself from Mitchell, but about Brandon and who he is when he's out there.

Next Chapter -->


So I've been playing around with putting up bios for characters, and I think that I am going to put up bios for "side" characters as we get to them in the story.

The bios are mostly for me, cause they're fun. I'll try to put information in them that will hopefully be interesting and keep it short. This is like a shortened version of what I do when I'm stuck with a character. I just start talking myself through it.

So first up, Angel and Mitchell.


  1. So the first thing that comes to mind with this episode is how much Angel must care for Mitchell, or how much he's scared that if Mitchell views him in the harsh light of day, he won't feel lucky to be with him anymore. Brandon has definitely spared Paula from some of the horrors, but he's never spared her from all of them--like when he came in after saving the stray, etc.. Someone else (I can't remember who) said that it was like he was preparing her for traveling with Henri, and this chapter definitely lends itself to that interpretation.

  2. This is a rather scary chapter. What was Angel doing? Well, we know it involved blood and violence, possibly death.

    In a way, it is very considerate of him to do that for Mitchell and it shows a very human side to these trained fighters that we haven't really seen in this second story until now.

    When Brandon says, "Knowing and seeing are two different things" I was thinking how very true that is.

    Going back to Angel protecting Mitchell and perhaps Brandon protecting Paula in his own way, I wonder if it's one of the things that make them still "human". I mean, the ability to feel, the ability for compassion and the ability to care are all very human traits, thus, perhaps it is a way for these fighters to keep a hold of their human side and keep it close enough to prevent their more violent natures, upbringing and survival instincts from completely and utterly taking over them and turning them into a machine or at the very least, another Michael as he was when we were first introduced to him, brutal, cold and unfeeling.

    Do they feel remorse at what they've done? Deep down, does the act of harming another human being eat away at them, maybe not now but eventually.

    In a lot of ways, I think Brandon's decision was to prepare Paula for her new world because sheltering her from it could ultimately do her more harm than good, maybe by showing her the reality of it, then she will be more prepared and thus able to survive in what is essentially at the heart of it, a very harsh, primitive world based on survival, strength and power.

    Kind of reminds me of how animals fight; the ones who show fear or back down first are the ones most often targeted, but showing strength whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally proves to not only make others fear you but not mess with you as well.

    A thought provoking chapter Lunar!

  3. I thought it was going to be Henri behind the door too! I was nervous on Paula's behalf!

    This chapter was quite scary and suspenseful. I can always hear your character's "voices" but I thought Paula's was particularly loud and clear in this chapter (or mini-chapter, if you like, seeing it's a .5)

    Brandon saying "Knowing and seeing are two different things" certainly got me thinking. Like Paula, I started thinking about whether Brandon goes to those sort of lengths for her, to hide the horror of what's really going on. I wonder if he should just go ahead and be open with her about it though. I just feel like reality is going to hit her sooner or later, whether Brandon wants it to or not.

  4. Rachel, Yeah to all of your observations. Mitchell is a very kind person, but he's not naive so he knows bad things happen and he understands they happen for a reason. Angel and the rest work to protect their way of life and that includes the humans that are in the village.

    But still, that doesn't mean that Mitchell wouldn't be scared to be faced with the truth. And in being scared, it'd be the same as rejection I think.

    Carnaxa-- wow! Seriously, wow.

    I'm glad you bring up Michael here and make the comparison between him and them. Michael lacks an ability to understand humans for the most part having spent so little time with them in actuality. Before he escaped, he only spent time inside Edy's head really. Any other heads he peeked into would not have given him a good view of the people or the world around him. (Which brings up an important discussion about powers that I'm going to need to have very soon.)

    But these guys, they've had plenty of contact with life and people. People like Brandon and Angel are second generation, born to experiments, so they weren't experimented on themselves. Plus they've grown up being taught to protect this village because it's important even as they see the scorn a lot of people have for human life (like that stray a few chapters back).

    So I think at their heart, many of them are very conflicted.

    I have to admit I was a little concerned what people would think of Brandon after he decided to open up the door and let Paula witness that. I hope it is clear that it was something he had to give some thought to before he actually did it.

    And of course, Carla, you bring up an excellent point as to whether Brandon is really doing enough to show her what this world is like. Early on he tried to shield her from things like the stray and the execution. Plus, what're they talking about in the beginning of this entry? TV. So he's not giving her information that she needs to know. It's like this was a step in the right direction for him, but it's really only a step.

    But the holding back he might be doing ties back into raquelaroden's comment about Angel and how he's scared about Mitchell seeing him for what he really is.

    **Recomment because somehow I made a huge typo. I suppose I should look where I'm typing. XD

  5. going to indulge in one big long sigh on behalf of all the people in the world who try to protect or save people they care about. Sometimes they do boneheaded things; sometimes they do things that disrespect the person they're trying to protect; sometimes they do very brave things.

    Acts of love don't always make sense.

    Is Mitchell all that fragile? If he's all that judgmental, then Angel's concern is misplaced (JMHO).

    Paula is beginning to recognize how far Brandon is willing to go protect her by keeping her in the dark. What astonishes me about these women, Paula and Edy, is they accept that kind of paternal protection so easily. Take off your glasses. Go to bed. Don't go in there and smack the guy and demand to know something ANYTHING at this point.

    Your writing is wonderful. If you can make me this totally frustrated with some of the characters, you are definitely doing your job!

  6. "What astonishes me about these women, Paula and Edy, is they accept that kind of paternal protection so easily."

    That was the repeating theme I was seeing that had me worried. Ack! You put it much more eloquently than I could think it.

    In Edy's case, I've always seen her as more of a willow, just bending in the wind. There are parts to her that aren't that way, but those parts sort of got in the way of the story because it was too short. It was mentioned in Mark's chapter that there were times she stood up to Micheal for them, jumping in front of Mark to protect him. But over all, those times were few. Possibly partially to maintain her own sanity.

    And Paula, well she's hardly a week in with a few more days to go before she heads off to Henri's. She's never questioned anything in her life. It's a fatal flaw of hers that she's always pretty much accepted anything anyone's told her with a casual shrug and an "okay." But now she's starting to percolate here. Though I highly doubt she'll ever be the sort of person to suddenly demand answers which is really what she SHOULD be doing.

    So I swear I will someday write some characters in this story that aren't so frustratingly accepting! XD Like Gina or Selene both of whom we'll get to someday eventually.

    And the rest, ah yeah, the stupidity of love. I believe that in general we do what we can to protect those that we care about. Angel not showing this side to Mitchell hopefully shows some insecurity on his part. Which I hope makes you question Brandon's motives too if he's keeping things from Paula.

  7. I've also been wondering if this (and the upcoming trip, especially) was meant to be some kind of preparation for her. And seeing as how Brandon is making moves towards exposing her to these selected traumas in a way Angel doesn't expose Mitchell makes me wonder if maybe he's preparing her for something bigger than just surviving in this world, (and this is just a random speculation) like maybe Henri might intend to give her some kind of work to do, or even turn her into a warrior herself?

    I really can't wait to see what happens on this trip!

    Also wanted to say that was a beautiful profile of Angel and Mitchell, like a little story in itself :)

  8. What a wonderful and very clever go-in-between!
    I love the ambiance in particular... that deliciously feeling of being let in on a secret!
    TV! I almost forgot that the Neutrals have electricity. Brandon has obviously been there more than once if he can discuss TV with Paula... I wonder what got them on that subject in the first place.
    Now isn't it interesting that Paula is allowed to see something that might 'upset' Mitchell! There is a diffference between 'knowing and seeing' and Paula does both...
    I so like the way Brandon encourages her to ask questions... It is as if he is gently pushing her to start thinking a little deeper.
    That's why I'm so happy with her last thought before she drifts into sleep... She'll see Brandon 'how he is out there' on the trip, won't she?

    (Paula is so photogenic. She looks absolutely adorable in those pictures!)

  9. Laura, speculation is always welcome of course. Haha, it lets me know if I'm being too obvious or not.

    And thank you. That's sort of what I was going for, like a mini-story. Since there's so much that we're not going to see really.

    Aw, thank you Moondaisy.

    Oh, that was me being unclear again at the beginning. I think I trimmed it too much. Basically, it was Paula explaining TV and Brandon going, "Why in the world would anyone do that?" Poor kid was scratching her head trying to figure out a way to explain it to him, but I trimmed it for this shortened chapter because it set the wrong tone.

    In other words, Brandon hasn't actually been to the Neutral Territory. Though he does know people who have been.

    Yes, Paula sees Angel like this, which is a way he does not want Mitchell to see him, but he isn't someone nearly as close to her as Brandon has become. So in a way, while she's seen it, it's almost as if it's still disconnected.

    As for "out there" she means away from her. Because she's realizing that beside your close ones is one place where you might behave one way, and away from your close ones is another.

    (And thanks, lol. I loved her faces while they were talking, so I couldn't just pick one. I had to use all three.)

  10. Lunar, I like bios too, I did them at my Blood Brotherhood story, and I do them more for me, to keep events and personalities clear in my mind.
    Loved the bio on Angel and Mitchell, just enough info.

    And speaking of the boys, Angel stopping to clean up and change before facing Mitchell is quite interesting. I wonder if he is doing to spare Mitch any distress. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be nagged.

    Very telling Brandon's statement, about 'knowing and seeing', got Paula thinking. For I believe Brandon 'out there' would be one scary dude. Making Brandon even more intriguing, if that were possible~
    Great update!

    Off to Hogsmeade next chapter, Yay!

  11. I think bios can be super handy. And, well, they're fun to make. I especially like the getting of the pictures part!

    LOL! No one's put it quite that way. He doesn't want to get nagged. XD Though I will say I doubt Mitchell would do any nagging. I mean, there's a rack of weapons right by the door.

    And I love that so far you've been the only one to suggest that Brandon might be dangerous. I can't wait for the next chapter to be up.

    Hogsmeade is appropriate. We'll definitely be going to this world's equivalent.

    Thank you, Drew. :)

  12. You have no idea how happy I was to check back and see so many updates! 8D

    Firstly, Henri is a douche. lol, okie, maybe not really. But I do wonder where Brandon got all that caring an thoughtful traits from. I hope we'll know more of Brandon's background in future, I'd love to learn more about him, how he turned out to be such a good soul in the midst of all the fighting and killing.

    Angel kinda creeps me out a little, with all the staring at Paula. It felt like he was measuring her up, getting ready to barter her off at a market. o.O It surprises me to know that he tries to protect Mitchell though. I didn't know he actually cared about Mitchell's well-being, with the guns at his back while he paints. :S

  13. Aw, thank you! And thanks for taking time out to stop by.

    Oooh good question! This will mostly be addressed with the update I'm posting tonight!

    And, lol! If anyone's going to sell her, it'll probably be Henri. What? Who said that? :x

    And I'm glad that surprised you. They aren't all douches, just sometimes their idea of caring and love is twisted, particularly depending on what they've gone through or their situation.

  14. Great little insight into some of the main characters. I've also read through a lot of the comments and agree most everyone else's thoughts on what happened.

    I'm not sure that Angel thinks of the weapons as "in-your-face" as blood splattered clothes. He has probably grown up with cold steel and its almost surgical, sterile precision - very different to the reality of blood. Mitchell might even find them comforting knowing that if someone dared invade Angel's home, protection is merely a step away.

  15. I have to admit that I never thought about the comparison of the weapons and the blood spattered clothes. It does seem contradictory, doesn't it?

    But I think you're right. They aren't as in your face. Weapons are just tools with possibility. Blood spattered clothes hints at what has actually happened.

    Plus, you're right. I actually continue to see a scene in my head where Angel cleans his weapons as Mitchell paints, and I see Mitchell actually finding a bit of comfort in the ritual.