Chapter 6:

Hello! My Name Is Jean!

Ludicy - Reaching Out

After arriving at the house, Daniel and the girl sit down at the kitchen table, and Alex goes to Daniel's room to call her parents. Daniel just now realized he never asked the girl for her name or age, for that matter. So he did. "My name is Jean, and I am 9 years old." the girl says. She continued on to say she noticed many people around the city had been acting strange. Alex enters the room, looking distressed. The concerned Daniel immediately jumps to hug her and asks what happened. Alex tells him she couldn't reach her parents. They didn't answer their phones or the landline, so she called the office. Their coworkers from the office told her nobody heard from them ever since they left work the day before. Daniel comforted her telling her everything is alright, and maybe they left their phones at the house before going somewhere. At the same time, Jean wandered off to the living room and turned on the TV. It was left on the news channel in the morning. The reporter's words filled the room: "It is with great sorrow that I am reporting to you today since this is likely to be our last broadcast for a long time. The number of staff members in the studio has been decimated. There are currently only 8 of us left here. With that said, I will now move on to the news. Most of the world's capitals have been lit on fire to combat the spread of the disease. Amongst the most destroyed ones are: Washington D. C., London, Moscow, Tokyo, Taipei, and New Dehli. Power plants are shutting down, and we have gotten reports of some nuclear plants blowing up across Europe. The number of reported deaths tallies up to..." Daniel walked into the room. He switched the TV off and said to Jean: "Let's go to the kitchen, and I'll make us some food. What would you like to eat?" It was blatantly clear that he didn't want Jean to get sad. He looked at Alex, and her facial expression was all the validation he needed. She smiled at him and looked away as if to let him dedicate some time to Jean. He felt like an older brother. He liked taking care of somebody, which surprised even him, mainly because he never liked being around people. "Alex said she would like an omelet, and I'm fine with whatever. What would you like?" he asked with an unusual amount of niceness. "Pancakes!" was the word that immediately shot out of her mouth. Daniel chuckled a bit and said: "If that's what you want, so be it. I was in the mood for some pancakes as well, as it happens." Alex watched the two from outside the kitchen as they cooked together. When they finished up with the pancakes, Daniel set the table and was pulled aside by Alex. She whispered something in his ear. That caught him off guard, but they all sat around the table regardless. Jean talked to Alex about how good Daniel's cooking tasted, and it seemed the two hit it off nicely. While that was going down, Daniel was deep in thought once again: "What does she mean by that? What does "I want you." even mean in this context? Does she mean romantically? Could it have any secret meaning I am unaware of? Is this the proclamation of love that I've been hoping for? I'll just leave it on the side and only ask about it if she brings it up. That seems like a good plan." They finished eating, and Daniel went to wash the dishes. He started humming to himself as a thought crossed his mind. The 3 of them looked like a small, happy family. That was something he had never experienced before. A certain sense of happiness overtook him as Jean came into the kitchen with Alex. Alex hugged him from behind. He knew it was her because of the height and the feeling on his back. Jean joined him and started humming along. Daniel washed the dishes and passed them along to Jean, who wiped them and put them on the drying rack.