Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapter 16 Breakfast

The next morning, I wake up and get dressed early. The sun hasn't even risen yet. But I'm awake and unable to sleep, so I figure that's early enough to count.

I step out of my room and freeze. Henri's already rattling around in the kitchen. He pauses a moment and turns back barely towards me, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. "You're late," he says gruffly.

For half a moment, I'm ready to remind him that there don't seem to be things like alarm clocks on this side of the border, but I don't think it'll help, so I don't say anything. Instead I step into the kitchen, take a breath and make an offer.

"I can cook if you gather the equipment," I say in what I hope is a helpful manner.

Henri gives me a very dubious looking glance, and I almost laugh out loud. He was the one who wanted me doing chores, but it seems that he's had time to rethink his original orders. I don't know what comes over me, but I hear myself saying it before I can think about what this actually means.

"I can cook. I swear."

He sighs. "All right. You can't screw up eggs."

Did I actually just defend my right to do chores? Somehow that small victory doesn't really feel much like a victory at all, but I do win. He steps over to a small fridge hooked up to what appears to be a battery of some kind. His fridge is actually filled with fridge things, eggs and milk, not like Brandon's which had cans and jars. I glance up at the ceiling. There is a light fixture, but it's not on. Instead we're using a lamp that has no cord. It very well could run on battery power.

I need to focus on the task at hand, so I pick up a bowl and reach for the first egg, my hand stopping just short of the small pile. "That's a lot of eggs."

"They'll be company," he says shortly without bothering to explain further.

It's clear that he's used to dealing with his soldiers, not his soft little teenage daughters. I let it go, accepting that it's going to most likely be a surprise though mentally taking a bet that one visitor will probably be Jimmy. My stomach burbles nervously as I beat the eggs and heat the pan.

When it's clear that I've got it, Henri takes a seat, picking up a newspapers to scan while he's waiting. I almost laugh at the image of us two quietly ignoring each other and at the same time looking like one of the Neutral propaganda pictures that riled Mom up so much. I can't help wondering if she'd put him in his place, just stand up to him and let him have it for being such a stereotype.

By the time the eggs are solidified, the door opens and in he walks. Jimmy's gray eyes scrape over the scene of me holding the pan ready to put eggs on each plate. I freeze for a moment. Even though I expected him, there is something about seeing him again now as the early morning light filters in through the window. Last night was like a bad dream, but now here he is in the flesh taking a seat at the table next to Henri.

Then the door opens again and both of us slide our eyes over to the door to see Brandon entering with the corner of his lips turned up in something like a knowing smile. It's like a joke he's playing on all of us.

"Good morning. Hope you made enough for all of us."

I think I can hear Henri sigh again from his spot at the table. "Yes. I had a feeling you'd be by."

Brandon steps over to the counter to help me move the plates to the table with a smile. "Hey, I couldn't leave Paula alone with you two. Neither of you are very entertaining, you know."

Jimmy barely raises an eyebrow, one corner of his mouth just barely twitching. "We're educational."

I gulp my first bite, the hot eggs sliding down my throat, at Jimmy's subtle teasing. When I catch him almost glance my way with a tiny evil little sparkle, I look down at my plate to examine my eggs in detail.

Henri seems to completely ignore it, probably too used to the two of them taunting and teasing each other. They start to talk about someone called "The Leader" and I let my mind wander, hoping that Brandon is too focused on their talk to catch any of my burbling thoughts. I dare to glance up at them as they talk seriously about business.

Jimmy is the easiest to look at sitting across the table from me. He eats his eggs very precisely, sliding the fork under the eggs and lifting the fork to his mouth without dropping so much as a crumb. I also notice that he never talks with his mouth full. It's a weird thing to notice, but mom used to like to say that my sight was my natural talent.

I focus on my own plate again not wanting to stare or draw attention. Hopefully these strange little breakfasts won't be an everyday thing.

"The Ranking Fights are coming up," Jimmy says when their conversation seems to have a break in it. Both him and Henri look over at Brandon. "You should take your rank."

"I'm fine where I'm at," Brandon says.

I can almost imagine I hear Henri muffle a sigh as he looks down at his eggs. Jimmy and Brandon still look at each other, neither one willing to give up.

"You should just get it over with," Jimmy tries again. "They know. You might as well show them."

Brandon almost smirks. "I like the aura of mystery I've got now."

I glance from one to the other as Henri finishes off his eggs. I don't know what rank Brandon is at, and I really don't want to know. Mostly, I don't want to hear what he's done to get the rank he has now or what he'll have to do.

That thought is stronger than I meant it to be. Brandon seems to remember that I'm there too; he barely turns to look at me, his eyebrows pulled down a bit probably mirroring my own concerned look just moments before.

Next Chapter -->


I dunno, why, but I feel I should say something and all I can think to say is, "I've got Ambitions! X3" So far I'm loving it. Also, so far, no glitchiness! And I've put most of my mods back in. *knocks on wood* I better be careful or I'll curse myself!


  1. Someone who eats precisely, leaves no crumbs, and doesn't talk with his mouth full either has has good manners (and in this environment, sort of doubt etiquette is high on the list of good things) or they approach everything carefully, and leave nothing behind. If it was hunger or memory of hunger, he'd probably just grab what he could as quickly as he could.

    You're right. A detail that tells, if it could talk.

    Henri is a total dick. Rude. Insulting. Deliberately so? Make her feel bad no matter what? Bite to make her bite back? See how much she can stand before she throws the plate of eggs in his face? Is it a test? Or is he just breathtakingly horrible?

    Brandon does not seem intimidated. I'm sure Henri's intimidation is not limited to beating up on girls (or is it).


  2. Henri thinks Paula is pretty much useless, lol. He's an ass, but I kinda expected he would be, to her.

    I'm happy Brandon came to visit--I thought he might. Jimmy's teasing is interesting--I wonder what Henri will think of it.

    This ranking fight is intriguing...Brandon isn't at all anxious to advance in the ranks, it seems. I can see how that would exasperate Henri. I wonder if it's a fight-to-the-death scenario? That would probably squelch some of the ambition for him.

    Can I just say how much I love your description of her stomach "burbling"? I love that word--it really helps me imagine her nervousness, and for some reason it is endearing (not that Paula wasn't already endearing enough).

  3. SB, I offer no explanation and no apologies for Henri's behavior, lol. He is the way he is, and I get the feeling he's always been a dick. Which makes me think he just doesn't know how to relate to anyone. (So maybe there's hope that there are a lot less children of his than it seems like there should be.)

    As for Jimmy, I enjoy watching his actions through the eyes of others. This trait of his, the neatness/ seemingly politeness crops up a lot while I'm free writing and is very... Jimmy.

    Brandon is not intimidated, but then Brandon does have the distinct advantage of being able to read those stray thoughts we can't control. As for Henri and beating up on girls, I will say that I think you might be surprised.

    Rachel, lol, you hit it on the nose. I can hear Henri thinking, "What the hell am I supposed to do with her?" every time he looks at her in my head.

    I'll explain more about the ranking fights next time as it'll come up again. But it isn't a fight to the death-- that'd be highly inefficient, lol. He has other reasons that he doesn't look forward to rising in rank.

    Also, thanks. I thought stomach burbling was pretty common. I love that you say Paula's endearing! Thank you for that.

  4. After the interlude with Mary I definitely see Jimmy in a different light, particularly the teasing even if it is subtle. And I am not surprised that Brandon came. After not being allowed to bring Paula to Henri it makes sense that he would be there.

    Not sure yet how to take Henri's attitude with Paula. On one hand he may feel as uncomfortable as she does and not know how to react so his gruffness could be some kind of defense. And perhaps he needs to define what "early" means to him if Paula was up before the sun...

  5. You know, I don't exactly get "total dick" from Henri. Maybe dick-ish. He's gruff, for sure, but does he know how to be any other way? Has he ever needed to try before? It's not a very jovial or friendly world that they're living in and Henri's kind of been at the centre of it all, no?

    He's definitely an interesting man to try and nut out.

    I liked Paula's little victory of being allowed to cook the eggs for breakfast. I imagine that people, when they're in crazy situations like this one, would try to grasp onto a) any sort of normality they can and b) any little thing they can control. There's not much else Paula can control but she can cook eggs. That would be a weird little comfort for her.

  6. I have to admit that I laughed out at almost everything Jimmy and Brandon said. That mini bickering was so nice (and heartwarming) to witness! Omg, I'm so tickled whenever people do that, whether in stories or in real life, haha. And, of course, my heart soared when Brandon walked through the door. ^^

    Sitting beside Henri, Jimmy and Brandon looks kinda young all of a sudden. I'm rather surprised, but I don't know why. I already knew Henri is much older. :\ I guess I've always thought of Jimmy and Brandon as fully-grown adults, and suddenly, they look like just boys beside their father, lol.

    I love that Paula has this very acute sense of observation. :) It sure will serve her well in here, where everything's pretty unknown.

    Also, it makes me wonder is Henri has some underground connections, since he could get his hands on fresh food. I mean, I know he's their chief, but I don't think the problem lies with money or status. Hmm... my mind can't stop thinking! Haha.

  7. Loved it!

    I really don't see Henri as a dick, but I do think he's a bit er...rough around the edges. Well, he's very rough, lol.

    I really adored the detail about how Jimmy eats. It says a lot about his character.

    By the way, I hate you because you have Ambitions. ;) (If you don't mind me asking are the system specs required for it higher than those for the base game?)

  8. Gayl, I'm glad that I could shed some light on Jimmy. And Brandon, well he couldn't abandon her!

    I think you may be onto something there about Henri. Though he would probably heartily deny it. As for defining early, he would be the type of man who would expect that everyone has the same definition of "early" as he does.

    Carla, huh, also a good point. He's probably never really had to try before, certainly not like this. He's not exactly the one people come to for comfort of any sort.

    It probably is a weird comfort for her. And it's also a little strange to fight for chores, lol.

    Ning, awe thanks. I definitely see Brandon and Jimmy often teasing each other. They're so normal in that respect, and so unnormal in every other way.

    Haha, you're right, Brandon does look young compared to Henri and Jimmy. And even Jimmy looks young compared to Henri.

    Paula's powers of observation are actually pretty strong, but not honed at all. Her other faults (laziness and complacency) usually get in the way. So she's going to have to work on this.

    Oh, interesting observation. There is a clue there, but you're just focusing on the wrong thing. For Henri and fresh food, being the chief, I'm sure that he does get offerings or gifts from people/friends/connections.

    Nicole, thanks!

    Rough is a great word for Henri too if you're trying to be nice about it, lol.

    From what I can tell, the system specs are the same.

    Also, whoa! Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I've had this window open for a couple of days working on a response, but seem to be going through a stupid phase right now. (Thank Ambitions and Shining Force for that.)

  9. I love the depth of your characters, I'm always having to rethink my views on them, I think I've seen another side to Henri today.

    Great chapter mate ;)

  10. Another great chapter! :)

    Lol at Paula thinking she was up early enough. I tried to imagine Henri saying "Good morning, darling, did you sleep well?" and literally rolled off my chair laughing.

    I cracked up again when I saw Henri's "very dubious glance". That shot is awesome!

    "I can cook. I swear." Eggs machiavellian takes level 7 cooking and is a special recipe. Not bad for a teenager!!!
    Don't you just love that it's actually called "machiavellian"?

    Ha! All my questions about electricity answered :)

    Henri already knows there will be visitors! Is that arranged or does he have "the sight"?

    It's early in the morning, but Paula has got her head screwed on this time. I love the fact that she is now adjusting rapidly and showing more of her personality.
    Her observation that he is used to dealing with his soldiers and not teenage daughters shows self-deprecation (in a positive, almost funny sense) and empathy. I like that!

    As I do her thinking of her mum...

    "...Jimmy's gray eyes scrape over the scene..." What a wonderful way of putting it.

    Yay for Brandon walking in.
    At first I was happy about Jimmy teasing Paula subtly.
    "We're educational," he says, but are they really? She learns from observing them, but they - themselves - haven't taught her anything yet so far.
    And then it worried me that he teases with a tiny evil little sparkle in his eyes. So it was bad teasing, not fun teasing?

    It's so nice that her natural talents come to the fore and that she is aware that she is using them.

    The ranking fights sound very interesting as is Brandon's reluctance to participate.

    And now, my favourite moment... "That thought is stronger than I meant it to be". Such a clever girl... If she learns to control the strength of her thoughts, she maybe will be able to "broadcast" or not at will! That could be very handy indeed given the bond between her and Brandon. :)

  11. 'Breakfast with the Smith's', just a wee bit tense, but not overly so. I love the effect Jimmy seems to have on the ladies, making their insides flutter nervously. Good or bad thing?

    They must used old fashioned printing presses to print the newspaper, or are their pockets of electricity throughout, or is Henri the only privileged one? Yes, my brain wonders at these nit-picky things. Battery power would be limited.

    Interesting, vague conversation on the ranks. Brandon did not seem keen.

    Mr Smith is like one of those Dukes from the Regency era, lording over everyone, even his own children. He doesn't exactly ooze warmth and charm, that's for sure, again, another interesting character! Well done~

  12. Thanks, Poida. I do love delving into the characters and looking at them from different angles.

    Moondaisy, LOL @ that image. "Good morning, darling..."

    Yeah, that shot was an accident. Even the sim doesn't seem to know what to think of Paula.

    I can't believe you knew that dish! Actually, I cheat! I use ChaosMage's Foodex hack to have dishes ready made, lol. Really, Paula would have made scrambled eggs or something.

    So all your questions about the electricity were answered? ;)

    lol, there could be a third option. He just knows Brandon and Jimmy that well. They are like his sons.

    Thank you. I think Paula will definitely have a strong sense of empathy compared to many of the other characters, excluding Brandon of course. I think a lot of the other characters end up ignoring and not looking at things whereas Paula, who's not used to this side of the world, will be unable to ignore somethings. Plus, now she's able to think of her mom and it gives her some strength. She's going to need it.

    Paula sees an evil little sparkle in his eye. I assume that she's right in her own way... As for not teaching her anything so far, perhaps that's their intent now.

    For strength of thoughts, it'll be a hard one. I think she's going to be more aware of it, but as for controlling it, I doubt anyone really could though some people do try.

    Thank you Moondaisy!

    Drew, lol! Well, with Jimmy, it could be either or both depending on who he's looking at. In Paula's case it's a bad thing, very bad.

    OH good catch with that detail. There actually is a reason that Henri has a newspaper. Unfortunately it sort of got edited out, but I'm sure it will come back around. Here's a hint- reading is very low on a normal Wildlander's list of things to do and learn, so it's definitely not a Wildlands paper which leaves two other areas it could belong to.

    We'll learn why Brandon isn't keen next update.

    No he doesn't ooze with warmth or charm. I kinda like that about him right now, lol!

    Thank you, Drew.

  13. I wonder if Jimmy can even taste food anymore. From Paula's perspective, his motions when eating seem very mechanical, almost like he does it because he has to not that he enjoys it. Jimmy is definitely a stark contrast to Brandon who at least seems partially normal.

    I get the feeling the "family" breakfast thing might have been Henri's way of trying to make her feel comfortable without being obvious about it or even maybe knowing this is what he was doing? I am not sure if it's a regular thing but I get the feeling family get togethers aren't a thing this particular family partake in unless it's to do with an emergency or trouble or something along those lines.

  14. Oh, that's an interesting reading that I didn't think of. Knowing what we know about him, that's actually an interesting view of what Paula's seeing.

    Jimmy compared to Brandon is a stark contrast. But it's interesting that Jimmy raised Brandon, so if Brandon seems partially normal, he's got Jimmy to partially thank for that.

    I like that take on the breakfast too. Really, I think Henri just knows those two way too well. But I do think you're on the money with this not really being a regular thing unless there were some trouble.