Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chapter 21 Removing the Blindfold

"Alex huh?"

Brandon appears at the top of the stairs with a smile that tells me he obviously caught my thoughts.

My cheeks are hot, not that he needs something like that to probably catch how embarrassed I am. I had been peeking out the window and not seeing a certain someone just a moment before I heard the footsteps on the stairs.

"Uhm, what're you doing here?" I raise one of my hands to subtly massage my warm cheek like that'll make it go away.

Brandon holds up a small bag. "I brought lunch."

In the apartment, he has a seat at the table while I pour us a couple of glasses of water. Behind me, I can hear the bag rustling as Brandon takes out two sandwiches he's prepared for us.

"I heard something about you actually cooking."

Immediately, my memories turn to this morning and the bacon. I wrinkle my nose at the memory of the snapping popping meat curling up in the pan like a bug rolling over to die. Mom never cooked meat at home, and I think I know why now after cooking it myself. There's something almost distasteful about it. I roll my shoulders back to loosen the muscles as I grab two plates for our sandwiches.

"That almost sounds derogatory," I say putting the glasses down on the table before I step back to grab the plates. "Are you seriously insulting my cooking while offering me a peanut butter sandwich?"

He laughs as he trades me a sandwich for a plate. "They're the easiest thing to transport."

"You even had my cooking the other morning," I add for good measure, not wanting to let this drop until I properly have him convinced of my ability.

Brandon takes the time to pause with a sandwich in his hand. "You mean you actually did cook that?"

I can't help looking at him in confusion and disbelief. At first I thought he was just teasing, but now it's getting hard to tell. "Uhm, yeah. What did you think I was doing that morning in the kitchen?"

"I thought Henri cooked and you were just making the plates." He shrugs as he takes a bite out of his sandwich. "Don't most Neutrals have servants?"

"Servants? No." If he's still teasing, he's doing the deadpan thing a little too well. "Where would you get that idea from?"


"Jimmy?" It seems that something isn't right here. I get the feeling that Brandon is not kidding, and that leaves me even more confused. Where would Jimmy get that idea from?

"He's been there." Brandon says as he watches me as if waiting for some thought of mine to rise to the surface and make things clearer for him too.

But my mind goes blank for a moment and I remember that first time I saw them. We were in a Neutral judgment room. Henri and Jimmy were there on the Neutral side when I was handed over. Obviously they weren't there for me; they didn't even know me. I was just tossed at them.

There's a quiet between us as Brandon lets me connect the thoughts. "Wait; so they've both been there."

Brandon's blue eyes take on that look of patience again. "Yes. We have contacts there."

"Like my mom." My mind is blank again and it takes thought to notice that my breath has stopped and I need to breathe.

"Yes." He pauses probably to give me a chance to jump in with more questions, but I don't really know what to ask. What in the world do you say when you realize that the person you know probably wasn't exactly the person you thought she was? It feels like there are more things that I never knew, and I feel older in that instant. Maybe this is what it's like to grow up. The blindfold they keep over your eyes as a child finally falls off and you realize that the truth is probably different from what they've been telling you your entire life.

"So is that the real reason all of this happened then?"

He knows right away what I mean. "I don't know. You'll have to ask Henri."

Of course I'd have to ask Henri. I bite the inside of my cheek at the thought. It wasn't so bad the last time, but still a part of me can't help feeling like I'm being a bother to him.

Brandon smiles. "Its okay. Everyone feels like that and it's true. We do annoy him. But it's good for him."

I can't help smiling back at him. Clearly he's at least half joking/teasing. The oddness falls away, and it just us two again, sitting down to simple sandwiches and enjoying each other's company. I take a small bite of my sandwich and eye him over my glasses. "So what else has Jimmy told you then?"

For a moment he actually looks a bit sheepish. "He's said that the roads are all paved."

That's true enough. I was briefly considering the idea that Jimmy was probably pulling some weird prank on Brandon. It would be something I would expect a normal brother to do, so not what I would expect from Jimmy.

"With circuitry for self propelled cars."

"And you believed him?"

"That bastard. He's been fucking with me." Brandon's eyes sparkle in a way that suggests he's going to get even. I almost choke on my sandwich with a laugh.

"And you believed him. You've never been then? And why didn't you ever just ask me?"

"No, I've never been. And you weren't exactly in shape for it."

I glance down with a nod. He's right of course. It's hard to believe that it's only been a few weeks since I came here.

"Anyway, I thought you might be getting bored being stuck here. We're going to meet up for some sparring tomorrow, and I wondered if you wanted to go." He adds in with a sly smile, "Maria'll be there."

There is no way I can turn an offer like that down, and I imagine he wouldn't let me anyway. So I agree, curious about what this new experience could possibly lead to.

Next Chapter -->


I'm going to completely confess that I took an idea from Ning of Colliding Stars and handed it over to Brandon. I think he'd wholeheartedly agree that Henri could be annoyed more, lol.

Also, posted up new info on ranking. Couldn't sleep the other morning, and so I finally actually did proper research. That wasn't hard, I'm just lazy.


  1. Ok I have no idea what's going on now LOL! The Neutrals supposedly have all the great stuff, paved roads and self propelled cars but not servants. (And throwing servants in there is so bizarre considering that where Brandon lives, they have slaves or something close to it.) One big joke like believing the Jetsons are real. Ha ha of course they don't have that who believes something like that, that's crazy!!!

    and Jimmy has been there bringing back tall tales.

    What struck me most was Paula's reaction. Everything she knew as a child was a lie. She was wearing a blindfold. Now she knows the truth. Why is that truth a lie and this one real?

    Going crazy!!! You keep me wanting to bang my head against the wall and scream! Wonderful writing!!!

  2. I think I've been a little distracted here which is probably what makes this confusing.

    Brandon thinks that those are things the Neutrals have. When he mentions self propelled cars, Paula responds, "And you believed him?" With a look of disbelief on her face.

    Neutrals don't have those things, so Jimmy has been bringing tall tales. As Brandon says, Jimmy's been fucking with him.

    Good question. I think Paula tends to see things in classic black and white. She learns this new information and instead of fulling absorbing it and adding it to what she knows, she feels like she's been lied to. Good people aren't spies, right?

    Thank you. (Is it a good thing I make you want to bang your head against a wall? lol!)

  3. There's something I hadn't considered about living with someone who can catch thoughts! You really could never be sure that you'd be able to keep anything private. It reminds me the Buffy episode "Earshot", where she picks up the ability to read minds - everyone was more likely to think what they didn't want her to hear.

    I love that Jimmy is pulling Brandon's leg with stories of the Neutrals! I guess he really can't catch Jimmy's thoughts then!

    Paula's being hit with bombshell after bombshell right now! First about Henri, and now about her mother. It's like her whole world is coming down around her.

    LOL, I've never read Colliding Stars but I did smile when Brandon said being annoyed is good for Henri! I can understand that!

  4. LOL! That's funny 'cause it's true. I know I'd think about things I didn't want someone to know. It only makes sense. I think that's why it would take a lot of training-- like a lot of meditation and control, and only certain people could do it.

    Oh this would probably be a fun topic to explore.

    Brandon really can't catch Jimmy's thoughts! I think he might also rely on his power too much to tell him when people are lying, so perhaps along with having a little fun with Brandon, he's trying to teach him a little lesson?

    For Paula, it's probably true. I think because she sees things in black and white, she's not very flexible and not very quick at adapting.

    And you should try reading colliding stars! Very fun read. I sat down and read it in an afternoon. I just couldn't stop reading it, lol.

  5. Ooh sparring, I'm looking forward to seeing that.

    Once again, another great chapter, keep em coming :)

  6. I had to laugh at Brandon's opening line. How embarrassing for Paula! The poor girl is going to be overthinking every thought from now on, making sure it's safe for her to let Brandon overhear.

    Of all the information Paula had to absorb in this update, I think the hardest might be realising the part her mother has had to play in all of this. That Jimmy and Brandon and Henri may not be always truthful with her is one thing - she's only known them a few weeks anyway - but that her mother's life was kept a secret from her her whole life. That's got to be tough to swallow.

  7. Thanks, poida. Hopefully it will work out as fun as it sounds.

    Illandrya, lol! Yeah, true. Impossible to control your thoughts. Maybe she's just going to work on thinking random things when he's around to bury her thoughts? XD

    True. Poor girl definitely feels lied to. I'm sure her mother had a very good reason not to tell her, but it doesn't make it any better.

  8. Hmmm, maybe this makes me love Jimmy even more? See, he's dark, damaged, brooding, and funny! *swoon* lol! :)

    Hilarious (and mortifying for her!) that Brandon knows the instant she even has a crush on someone, lol! How will she even manage to think around him?

    But oh, she keeps finding out more and more! Like every little piece of everything she believed is being disassembled. It's heartbreaking to see, but I think I feel her evolving for the better. She feels a bit stronger with each new piece of information. I can't wait to see what she makes of it all when she's done.

    And the sparring! How fun! Can't wait for that!

  9. Eep, I'm always forgetting to check my google reader! :X

    AHAHAHAHA!!! Brandon got tricked by Jimmy? XD It was so funny that Paula pointed out to him that he believe Jimmy unconditionally, like Jimmy thought he was gullible. It was hilarious that he would mention paved roads too. I never thought that as something significant, but I guess the most common things for us can be pretty amazing for them. ;) And LOL at it being good to annoy Henri! It's like he needs it. XD

    At first, I thought Brandon thought that Henri cooked the meal because it didn't taste good. :P (It's not that I thought Henri was a bad cook, just that I thought Henri wouldn't be bothered with making meals good.) That was a very interesting way of describing the process of cooking meat, by the way. You're not gonna make me turn away from meat, though, hehe.

    I need a little help for the part about Paula's mum. :P What did Paula mean when she said "So is that the real reason all of this happened then?" Did it mean that Paula's, um, current situation (being tossed to Henri) is a result of her mum being connected to Henri's side?

    (By the way, I have no idea why I can no longer log in to openid :( )

  10. Laura, lol! That's him exactly. I just love that the weird humor comes in weird places.

    I know, poor kid. Watch those secret thoughts! At least he didn't embarrass her too much? lol!

    Yes, exactly. I can't even see what she'll see when its all over since you know, they're ad-libbing. Dang characters!

    The sparring better be fun to shoot dang it. It has definitely been interesting to write.

    Ning, Brandon got big time tricked, lol. I guess he is a little gullible, but who'd see it coming with Jimmy?

    And, well Brandon was thinking they had self propelled cars, so he was pretty amazed, lol.

    Actually, Brandon probably would complain about Henri's cooking for that reason! I was thinking that in the back of my mind, but it didn't really come out. A couple of times, Brandon started the conversation with, "Who knows what you're eating with Henri cooking?"

    The thing with her mom-- you've got it. Everything is connected-- Cheryl's activities that she hid from her daughter, and Paula's birth. While they got her because of Paula's heritage, they probably only found out because of whatever Cheryl was doing.

  11. I am really intrigued by how much of this story is about the myths we are told and circulate within our communities; yet how our communities shield us (whether deliberately or not) from truths about the world out there. It's a really interesting concept, and I guess all the different groups within the world will have their own mythologies about the others? Too tired to comment more but I love how this story keeps you thinking and how well crafted it all is.

  12. Thanks Rad. Yes, that's it exactly. I'm more about the people when it comes to this story, examining the relationships and all their misconceptions about each other, but that means in the grander scale I'll end up having the community hanging over their heads.

    Each group definitely has their own myths and prejudices about the other. A lot of it goes unsaid between Brandon and Paula.

  13. The more you try to control you thoughts, the stronger those things you want to hide will come out I think. I can picture Paula trying to mask her thoughts about Alex and just making them worse. She seems too innocent and open to pull that off just yet.

    One thing that struck me here is the idea that Henri and Jimmy knew nothing about Paula. They were there for some other reason. Now I am intrigued as to what that reason was and why Henri didn't know about Paula. What would he have done if he did know? And since we don't think that Paula has powers, I wonder even more if she does.

    I love how you write the relationship with Jimmy and Brandon. It feels normal in a world that is anything but normal.

  14. Isn't that the truth? It's impossible to control thoughts, and it's hard for her to know at this point how much he's actually getting. Luckily, Brandon isn't the sort to hold it over her, though he also wasn't going to let it slide on past. He is trying to appropriately slide into his role as big brother, and he's never had a sister so far as he knows, so he's enjoying this.

    I'm glad that you noticed that. This will be a very important detail, and those are some very important questions.

    Thank you. I don't know much about brothers, so I'm really glad their relationship is coming across as normal. I really love those two together.