Chapter 42:

Ch 42: My Quiche!

I was Born the Unloved Twin

Like a primary school teacher, Gable leads the way and we follow.Bookmark here

The boys are still tense but they come along easily enough. Especially after Gable leads them on with a vague:Bookmark here

"Do you want to know what this rock entails? Why it snows?"Bookmark here

It's not that they're fearful they're just, on guard. If anything you could say they were on their best behavior, from what I know of them at least. Bookmark here

They walk a little bit behind like the naughty kids in class, quietly whispering and signaling to themselves. Bookmark here

I'm not sure what's going on in their heads but It's too troublesome to deal with. They'll come to their own conclusions eventually, besides if I say it's fine then it's fine. Which is exactly what I told them to get them moving.Bookmark here

"Come on already, he doesn't bite"Bookmark here

They both give me a look that says there are worse things than biting. Bookmark here

"Hmm this isn't the way back to cave." noted Amar.Bookmark here

Since Gable is here, of course, I'll leave it all up to him. Indeed we're heading in another direction, deeper perhaps. I've lost track really but it's ok. It's like when you trust a parent to drive you, unquestioningly, that sort of belief in a person. Bookmark here

So I believe it 100% when Gable literally walks up us to a damn tree and stands there expecting us to go through ii like it's an open door. And not a whole solid tree.Bookmark here

"We can just walk straight through it?"Bookmark here

Well here goes nothing.Bookmark here

Surprisingly I am not allowed to go in first, the boys silently stop me and signal to themselves. They come upon an agreement and it looks like Lukas is up first. Ah so careful, they look very professional like this. I feel like a princess, or a wealthy client, with her guards.Bookmark here

Normally Gable's face is rather stoic but I think I'm making way on figuring him out over the days. Watching our interaction seems a bit amused and another part that I still can't read, it feels conflicted. Bookmark here

We all carefully watch, for different reasons I'm sure, as Lukas takes a rather exaggerated breath and essentially charges his way through the tree. It's a pretty good war charge, I'll give him that, very spirited. Seeing a person go "poof" and disappear out of thin air is really amazing! Quite Harry Potter vibes.Bookmark here

Since he's gone through, I'm next with Amar right behind me.Bookmark here

There's no need to rush up running, the supposed tree blurs and dissapates just like the earlier cave wall entrance. Bookmark here

On the other side is not a dark staircase, surprising it's the fireplace in the kitchen!Bookmark here

Amazing! What a secret entrance!Bookmark here

I'd be more amazed if I wasn't distracted by the fact that my quiche is still in the oven. It's a stone brick oven so it's not like it's going to get any hotter but it can still burn! Why didn't Gable take it out earlier? Bookmark here

"What are you doing?" asked Lukas, watching the whole thing since he arrived first.Bookmark here

"Just help me out."Bookmark here

I'm attempting to drag a kitchen chair since I'm too short to reach much and have no levitating powers.Bookmark here

It's much easier to use a boy to do the heavy lifting, though he does roll his eyes at me. Odd I swore Amar was right behind me, why isn't he here yet. But Lukas is more than enough to scoot a chair and help pull the pastry pie out the oven. Bookmark here

Ah thank goodness, it's a little too dry on top but it's not burnt. Bookmark here

"You really been living here for awhile?"Bookmark here

Asked the other boy after we managed to set the quiche out on a wooden board and wrap it up in a cloth to keep in warm. I'm technically not allowed to play with fire but I can at least boil water. I'm cold and want something to drink ok!Bookmark here

"Hmm, yeah I have. Why?"Bookmark here

"Nothing much, it's just. Wow, you even call him by his first name. Just like that."Bookmark here

"Have you never met Gable before, he's very relaxed. It sounded like a lot of the troops know him so I thought he would be around more."Bookmark here

"Maybe, not around me at least. I've only been allowed to go on a few raids so far and it's not like kids like me are allowed in the meeting halls We hear about him a lot but we've never seen him. I know we can sneak in some but what's the point, nothing interesting ever happens."Bookmark here

He pouts and makes a face before returning back to his original volume. Bookmark here

"Only Amar or Phillipe goes with me anyways. But we're getting more permissions to go on raids and stuff!"Bookmark here

Ugh, the mention of my cousin has me scrunching my nose.Bookmark here

I may not have the best history with Lukas but that hasn't happened yet. He's a fun kid, a little suspicious but an overall alright kid. The thought of him or Amar turning into anyone's lackey makes me shake my head. What a waste. Bookmark here

They're good kids, even without asking they automatically took the position to protect me. Bookmark here

But they're not like other servants that I can just pick up or some loyal hero to be that I can lure over to my side. These kids are too much of wildcards Their pasts are definitely not simple, either one of them.Bookmark here

Story of life, right? Bookmark here

I don't know exactly what to do with them, where to place them. They're on hold if they're a potential future enemy or not, especially Lukas. But it doesn't hurt to make for some friendly relations right? A little kindness costs me nothing.Bookmark here

Even if I can't cut them off from Phillipe I can at least make them a little more sympathetic towards me, when the time ever comes. Bookmark here

At this time Gable and Amar appear from the dark bricks of the fireplace. That took a while, but something must have gone on because the slight cloud hanging over Gable's expression is eased. He still must be thinking about something, taking a careful look between us. Meanwhile I can never read the younger, he always seems so happy and innocent till he holds something sharp and lethal.Bookmark here

Wildcards, the lot of them.Bookmark here

"Have you cleaned up yet Rosalia?"Bookmark here

Gable asks unnecessarily, he can see how I must have just put down the pot holder. Lukas over here looks as dusty as ever. A real rough and toughing it boy, not so different from Amar's current state. As messy as they look they seem so used to it and are nowhere near as bad I was when Gable first found me. Bookmark here

With a wave of his hand, a basin of water fills up and lands in front of us along with a bar of herbal handmade soap. Bookmark here

"Ladies first, then the rest of you."Bookmark here

Gable mutters before going off to rummage in his cabinets.Bookmark here

This isn't any of the strange but lovely bath products Gable already has but something from a batch we made together one spare afternoon. He was curious after telling him of my previous soap making adventures. Guess it really isn't common knowledge in this world. Bookmark here

I got to test more soap recipes with local plants and according to Gable making my soaps was "much easier" then getting his hands on whatever he was previously using. They were nice though, must have been costly. Bookmark here

Still, I think my soap bars are turning out quite well as a cost effective alternative. This herbed one was simple to make, has antibacterial cleaning qualities and smells quite nice. I lather up and wash my hands well in the slightly warm water.Bookmark here

Surprisingly the boys either learn quickly through my example or they both have experience using soap. It should be a luxury item not commonly seen or used by most people, yet they don't look curious or intrigued by it at all. Instead, they wash up not only their hands but thoroughly up their arms, necks, and heads. Bookmark here

Is standard soap another thing grampa already brought along to the troops? Do I not have a monopoly in this market? Oh where is that old gramps anyways?Bookmark here

"Gable, where did my grampa go? He's been with you this whole time right?"Bookmark here

"Yes, well, I made him go take a bath. He's even filthier than all of you children combined."Bookmark here

"Ah, I see.Bookmark here

A little strange but whatever. Ack, I almost forgot the reason why we came looking for them in the first place, sorry Yuna!Bookmark here

"Gable! Outside there's a strange venomous bug and it bit someone, just a kid or well teenager. No one knows what to do."Bookmark here

"Hmm, yes I saw. I already sent some medicine their way, not much to do with that one really. The boy should be fine after a lot of sleep. "Bookmark here

"You know what that thing was?" asked Amar, half soaked over the bin.Bookmark here

Gable gives a half wave, indicating it's still in research. Which is fair given no one's ever heard of a fanged jawed butterfly, ever. Bookmark here

Clean towels float over, one for each of us, though I think the boys' towels have a mind of their own as they rub them dry all over. Bookmark here

"Uh I think we're good?"Bookmark here

"Hey! Get this thing to stop attacking already!"Bookmark here

Eventually, they're freed from the floating towels and hairbrushes, hey where did those come from? They're as clean as they'll get for now and actually look pretty decent. They were already some cute looking children but clean faces and freshly washed hair makes a lot of difference. Bookmark here

Gone are the dusty though still very rambunctious boys. It's like giving a street cat a bath, they're so fluffy! Luka's platinum silver blonde hair is looking more like the snow we just played with. Now clean his features resemble a haughty pedigree cat, sharp like a bengal. Meanwhile the contrast between Amar's tender face, dark curls and bright green eyes were a pop of color compared to Luka's paleness. When not caked in mud and dust his natural olive skin tone was hard to place, shades too something to be native to this land. Bookmark here

Overall they clean up very nicely, I'm surprised. Bookmark here

The bar soap wasn't meant for hair but it did a pretty nice job lathering and washing on two different hair types. Potential for shampoo bars perhaps?Bookmark here

While I'm thinking of my future business prospects the table sets itself and there are 3 steaming mugs, of something milky sweet, waiting for us. If I didn't know any better I'd say Gable was showing off.Bookmark here

Ok maybe he is doing that, just a bit. This honey milk is some good shit. Bookmark here

He is using his levitation magic quite a bit more than usual. It's very Alice in Wonderland tea party in here. The boys aren't hiding their amazement either, though it's more of the shocked silly by power kind than their earlier ooos and awes. Setting some kitchen tools to chop and fry up some vegetable Gable takes a seat, chairs gathering up whoever wasn't at the kitchen table yet.Bookmark here

The boys are still awkwardly silent and Gable's own stoicism is not helping. It's an adult and some kids but why is every eyeing each other back and forth? Bookmark here

I take another loud sip of my warm drink, ah it's so damn awkward. Just get on with it.Bookmark here

"It smells wonderful in here! I'm starved- eh, when did these munchkins get here?"Bookmark here

"Commander!" Bookmark here

" Lord Commander?"Bookmark here

"Hello to you too grampa." Bookmark here

Cue the ice breaker, grampa stomps like he just came from a relaxing sauna and soak. His face is freshly shaved and skin all glowing, hey hey what products did you use?! Tell me, was it one of mine? Also why are you leisurely just taking a bath now of all times?Bookmark here

"So mean Gable, I thought it was going to be just us- ooompf" Bookmark here

A couple of towels smacks into gramp's face and wipes him much more violently than it did Amar and Lukas earlier. Effectively shutting him up. Bookmark here

I get that grampa is annoying and all but I really feel that I'm missing something here, hmmm. Gable gives a not so forced cough.Bookmark here

"You've gathered some rather...talented disciples here Ronald."Bookmark here

"Mmmppf hmmf?"Bookmark here

The towels are still attacking so grampa settles for a shrug.Bookmark here

"They're not only skilled but quite mature for their age, in fact what are you doing taking in children so young hmm? Just where did you pick them up?"Bookmark here

The towels may be suffocating him but before any of the boys can get a word out the quiche floats over and serves itself on separate plates. Vegetables fried with chopped ham pours on the sides straight from the frying pan and if the sight wasn't enough of a distraction the smell definitely is. I hear someone else's stomach growl. Bookmark here

I'm feeling pretty ravenous and I actually had breakfast. I don't know about the boys but from the look of things I doubt they've had much of a proper meal through their camping trip. 5 year olds should have chubbier cheeks no?Bookmark here

Their eyes shine but they hold themselves back with extreme discipline, gazing back and forth between Gable and the grampa, who is still incapacitated. Bookmark here

"Go ahead and enjoy, there's plenty of food. We're just going to have a quick word between adults."Bookmark here

The moment Gable walks out, dragging grampa along with him, its a free for all. While Amar is a little bit better about table manners, they both wolf down their food. As concerned as they are for their 'Lord Commander' it's clearly out of their hands. It's an 'adult' matter, which means absolutely nothing to us. Bookmark here

"It's so good, do you eat like this every day?!" Lukas chokes out between bites, absolute stars in his eyes.Bookmark here

"Something like that, this quiche is just something we're just testing out. Gable lives by himself so he's a pretty good cook. " Bookmark here

Hmmm these vegetables are a fried with something fatty. Not very healthy but oh so tasty. This growing body can afford the fat and calories. Bookmark here

"Qu-iche? The egg pastry pie thing? It's very big and fluffy?" exclaims Amar, plate clean until another slice of quiche floats by and plops itself down.Bookmark here

A pitcher of that hot milk thing refills my mug. Damn how does this levitation magic thing work and how do I get some?Bookmark here

The rest of the meal passes by an comfortable chatter, the boys relaxing back to their usual state around good food and the knowledge that their companion outside is relatively ok. Bookmark here

The plain rock still sits on the counter, undisturbed but for a faint icy blue glow on the bottom. Bookmark here

----Bookmark here

In another room but a few feet away from a certain band of children, it is silent. Even without the muffling spell that protects this space there is a tense silence, the quiet after a disaster, of grieving. Though the room is not very large there is no need for two grown men to be crowded in the corner.Bookmark here

Gable puts face in his hands, tightly grasped and shakily slides down the wall. As if his long legs can no longer support him.Bookmark here

Ronald goes with him, steady and supportive. There's a part of him that wants to pry Gable's hands out of his face, another part that wants to keep apologizing till he makes it all better, even though that won't help. He knows better but he can't help feeling that he has to do something, even after all these years.Bookmark here

Really, he can only wait it out. Wait with bated breath, steady and strong as ever. That's all he can do.Bookmark here

The mood has is vastly different than any of their earlier interactions on this day. Bookmark here

"So will you take him?Bookmark here

Ronald breathes, eyes pleading even though he knows the other can't see him. Not with closed fists and teary eyes. Gable fails to hold back a sob and half chokes on it. Bookmark here

"I can't, god Ronald you know I can't. I'm not- I can't face- I'm not strong enough."Bookmark here

Battered hands come up to rest and cover on Gable's own hands, he can feel their heat radiating. Bookmark here

"I know you and I know you're more than strong enough. But you don't have to if you don't want to."Bookmark here

"That's not fucking fair Ronald."Bookmark here

"I know."Bookmark here

It's never fair, goes unspoken. For a while there's nothing but heavy breathing on one side and silent support on the other. Bookmark here

"They won't kill him."Bookmark here

Gable finally manages, his voice hoarse, wavering. Bookmark here

"No...not anymore at least. They were going to."Bookmark here

"No, my sister wouldn't have let them."Bookmark here

"Only because she'll damn him to a fate worse than death, her and her husband."Bookmark here

Gable finally looks up out of his hands, eyes red and emotions fully on his face. He gnaws on his lip, an old nervous habit, and looks the broader man in the eye, despite the little tremors running through his body.Bookmark here

"I can't do this, I'm not you."Bookmark here

Ronald shakes his head, softly breaking into a full blown smile, just because he can't do small ones. He's all or nothing in more than one way and Gable feels himself caving to this man. Like he's caved time and time again no matter how much his pride says otherwise. Bookmark here

"Hey...that's a good thing you know."Bookmark here

"...I can't....I can't save people like you do. I can't, especially not him. I can't even save myself."Bookmark here

"Bullshit. I never saved anyone, not really. I can stop the jaws of a beast or liberate a city under seige but saving someone? What does that even mean? What comes afterwards is more important, the recovery. "Bookmark here

"Ronald."Bookmark here

"If we're talking about saving then you're stronger, you saved me."Bookmark here

"I can't Ronald, I can't even look at him without seeing-god what does it matter. If they find us, find him, it will be even worse. I would make things worse. "Bookmark here

"They won't Gable, I promise they won't."Bookmark here

"You're already too close, what are you thinking? Why tie your Rosalia up in all this when you know what they are. Why put us back in this? I can never tell what you're really thinking."Bookmark here

Gable finally relaxes from his ball, hands and body going limp. Like this Ronald can intertwine their fingers, the gesture familiar and comforting.Bookmark here

"That's the problem my prince, you think too much when I don't."Bookmark here

"Stop calling me that already."Bookmark here

"But my prince, I swore a vow!"Bookmark here

"Stop, I'm disgusted already, god you're not even a knight."Bookmark here

Gable pulls his hand away sharply, purposefully smacking a laughing Ronald in the process. But he soon returns them, softer this time. Bookmark here

"...I'll think about it. Give me a little more time."Bookmark here

"I knew you could do it."Bookmark here

"I didn't say yes!"Bookmark here

"You can do it, we both can. I watch your back you watch mine, just like always."Bookmark here

"....Sap."Bookmark here

"Hey's good that he still has you as family. He thinks he's all alone out there."Bookmark here

"I doubt it, I'll be the shittiest uncle in the world. "Bookmark here

"Maybe but he'll love you, we all do. Don't worry Gable, Lukas will just love you."Bookmark here

-----Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.