street people

“So we’d be a bit like street people, just not on the street because we have no other choices but because that’s what we chose.” They’d been looking over those pages of places to visit for a few hours now, looking at a big map that had been set up against one of the empty walls in the family room. They had set little markers, pins to all the places they absolutely wanted to visit.

“I guess it’s one way to look at it. We could live out of expensive hotels and make sure we have all we need but I don’t think we’d really get the kind of travelling we’re trying to achieve.” Quentin looked down at their side by side notebook, chuckling softly at the sight of it all Here they were, plotting out a trip around the world and it wouldn’t happen for at least another decade or two. It really depended on how well and healthy their cats were and how long their beautiful lives would keep them about. They had no desire to rush that.

“If we travel like tourists, we’ll be treated like tourist. If we try to blend in though I know it’ll be hard in a few different places, we might just be treated differently.” He nodded, turning his gaze to the map after a moment. “I’ve been a street person, it’s not exactly a pleasant way of life though I suppose it depends on who lived it and how they lived that life. As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t pleasant and I’m just glad I managed to get off the street and into a house. I’m aware that if it hadn’t been for that old man, I would still have been out there, like you I guess, and we probably wouldn’t even have met.”

“I’m glad you found him, helped him and that you found me then.” Yael closed his notebook, stretching with a soft yawn as he did. “My life on the street was not exactly a good one and I know I wasn’t about to last much longer with the way things were going.”

It had taken some getting used to and a lot of writing in his journals once he’d moved from the street to his new home, some would have claimed that he could have done with some therapy with someone for how easily some things set off his nightmares but he would claim that he handles whatever comes his way well enough, there really wasn’t a reason to involve someone else into his private life this way.

“Tired?”

“A little, I think it’s all the sorta darkness. All these clouds, they make it hard to know what time it is and I feel almost as if I have the blues, it’s really weird. I mean, it’s not my first winter here with you but it feels as though this one is darker, I know it’s just the weather, I guess I can’t help it.” He shrugged, offering a sheepish sort of smile.

It was dark outside, the sky was covered in what seemed to be several layers of heavy snow-filled clouds that just weren’t ready to let go of their cargo. It had been dark out when they’d woken up and it still was dark out now, as if nothing might manage to break through the thick cover over their heads. Not that either one of them wanted more snow, what they had now was enough though more wouldn’t have hurt and it certainly would have helped the temperature to warm up somewhat.

“How about we had up to the garden and have ourselves a hammock nap?”

“And a few more sunburns?” Yael chuckled at the idea though he closed the other notebook and stretched with another yawn as he eased to his feet.

“I suppose there is that downside. We could set up an alarm clock?”

“Or we could go up to the mezzanine on the third and settle with a blanket up there. It’s not as toasty as the hammock but it is as comfortable and the view is beautiful, fewer chances of sunburns.”

Quentin nodded, that did seem like a good idea. A good, heavy blanket since the temperature was a little cooler up on the third floor compared to the garden floor and they could rest for a while, watch the clouds and see if they might get more snow or not out of them. The weatherman had only mentioned the heavy cover, not the snow fall.

“I’ll let you get the blanket and I’ll put all of this away, I’ll meet back up with you by the stairs unless you want to go up first.”

“I can wait for you.”

It was Yael’s turn to nod as he watched Quentin step from the family room, head off towards their bedroom where they kept all of their blankets. They could have gone for the pool as well, the thought hadn’t crossed his mind. It had actually been some time since they’d last been in the pool. They kept the water to a comfortably warm temperature so he didn’t see why not.

He took a moment to put away their pencils and notebooks, into a small dresser of sorts that sat against the wall under the map. Once that was done he wandered off to meet up with his companion.

Yael found Quentin still digging through the large chest at the foot of the bed. “I had a thought, why don’t we have a swim instead? It’s been a while. Of course we don’t have a view of outside but that might just be for the best. We can forget how cloudy it is for a while and have some relaxing time nonetheless.”

Quentin stopped digging, looking up to Yael as he did. He tilted his head to the side, a thoughtful motion that always made Yael smile. “Been a while since we’ve done more than have a brief dip in the pool, hasn’t it?”

Quite a while, usually their ‘dip’ was a slip in, swim one length and get out sort of thing, mostly so they wouldn’t feel as though they weren’t using the pool at all. It seemed pointless to have a pool if you didn’t use it. “Sounds like a plan, let’s change and head there.”

While they still had no issues with swimming bare, it seemed easier to swim with a bathing suit on in winter. It wasn’t that the temperature in the pool area was cooler, it was kept as warm as the rest of the house but there always remained that little bit of a chill when they got out of the pool since they kept the water a little warmer in the winter.

They each stepped to their dresser, digging about to find their bathing suit. Once found, they changed where they stood, used to being bared around one another. They located their fluffiest towel, set those about their shoulders and headed off towards the pool area all the way to the back of their home.

“Think the boys might try to jump in for a swim?” Yael hung his towel up, shivering briefly before he stepped towards the pool.

“They just might but that’s fine, they do have their own small pool off to the side and if they want to jump in the bigger one, I know they can swim just fine.” He’d left the door ajar, their two bigger felines loved to swim and took to the water at any given chance though they had taken to using their ‘own’ personal little pool instead of the big one after a bit of teaching.

“A few lap to warm up, then we just float around to relax or do we bring out the mattress?”

“I think a few laps to warm up and then the mattress would be fine, though I’d be good with just floating around with a few pool noodles, I wouldn’t be able to stay close to you.”

“You’re just trying to make me blush.”

“And it works every time, Yael though I’m honest. I like being near you when we’re in the water so a few laps and the mattress sound perfect.”

“All set, then.”

the phone is ringing

Something was ringing.

It was ringing loudly and it was annoying the hell out of him. He really was trying to focus on catching the butterfly that had landed on- he was out in the wild forest of he couldn’t tell where, why was there something ringing?

Groaning, Cyrille rolled over on his bed, one hand reaching out blindly along his bedside table for the ringing offender. His hands found several things, most of them hitting the ground as he swept his hand about to try to find the phone, it had to be his phone. He barely paid attention to whatever it was he was throwing to the ground, that didn’t really matter, it wasn’t even important.

Eventually, his fingers curled about the slim object and he brought it closer. He rolled over and stared at the screen. A number he didn’t recognize sat there as it kept on ringing, as if taunting him, as if telling him that he had to wake up now even though it was way too early to be awake.

He stared at the phone for another long moment before he answered it.

“Hello?”

“Congratulations, you’ve won a trip for t-“ Click.

He dropped the phone back somewhere on his bedside table and he rolled back over, hugging his pillow over his head to try to ignore the light beginning to filter through his curtains. He wanted to still be asleep, he wanted to still be far away into the world of dreams. He was sure he’d been having a wonderful dream though he couldn’t even remember what it had been about now.

After a few heartbeats during which sleep proved to be absolutely elusive, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He turned his gaze to the other beside table and squinted at the numbers on there. Six fifteen. Way too early. Even if he’d had work, he wouldn’t have been up this early.

“Bah.”

He knew he wouldn’t be getting any more sleep at this point so he did the only thing he could think of. He went into his bathroom, had himself a nice, hot shower and dressed. He stepped into the living room, book in hand and started reading.
Cyrille knew better than to wake the twins, Mira especially. He needed all the sleep he could get and staying as quiet as possible was the one necessary step to this.

After a couple of hours, Agni joined him in the living room, still rubbing his eyes and still wearing his bathrobe, something they’d all taken to wearing late at night or early in the mornings when the air still felt chilly.

“You’ve been awake long?” He blinked, rubbing his eyes again. Cyrille made a soft shush noise, looking down the hallway. Agni followed his gaze before he nodded and rounded the couch to flop down on it. He was hungry but he could wait a little while more yet.

“Couple of hours, my phone was ringing this morning, I swear I’d turned it off or at least set it on vibrate but it rang loud and clear. So I answered it, got myself a scam call and that was it. I tried falling back asleep, couldn’t. So I just washed up and came out here to read.”

“That stinks. Think we can get away with preparing some food without waking up?”

“Well I can check his door to make sure it’s shut and I’m sure that so long as we keep the noise to a minimum we should manage something, I am starting to feel pretty hungry at this point, I admit.” He chuckled softly, not daring to laugh by fear of waking Mira.

“M’kay, I’ll go see what we can prepare that doesn’t require a lot of fussing about and you do the check up on mister hand-made gifts grumpy pants.”

“He’s just trying to give you and the rest of us something he’s made with love, don’t be childish, Agni.”

“Sorry, sorry.” He shrugged, heading off into the kitchen to check on what they might have on hand as far as food was required while Cyrille carefully made his way back towards Mira’s open bedroom door. He peeked in a moment and his almost maternal side took over as he noticed that the teen had kicked off most of his blankets.

Keeping as quiet as he could, he stepped inside and closer. He moved to cover Mira with his blankets once more and refrained from kissing his forehead though it was tempting. He smiled down at the sleeping down and tip-toed back towards the door.

“What’s for breakfast?”

Cyrille froze in the doorway, a soft sigh escaping him. “Aw hell, Mira, I was just trying to cover you back up so you’d be warm, I’m sorry I woke you.”

“I woke up a while ago, I think I heard your phone ringing. I rolled over and settled against, I think I was in-between when you did the tucking in.”

“Shit. I’m sorry about the phone, it woke me up too and I was sure I’d turned it off for the night. How are you feeling?”

Mira shrugged gently and Cyrille stepped back inside, sitting on the edge of the bed. He reached out, brushing his thumb ever gently along the underside of Mira’s eyes.

“Still a little sleepy but I’m okay. I fell asleep in the middle of the movie last night, huh?”

“More like after the first fifteen minutes you were out like a rock. Even during a few of the louder moments you didn’t even budge, it was actually pretty cute in its own way.”

Mira rolled his eyes and yawned. He looked out towards his windows a moment and then to his alarm clock. “It’s still early, I guess I could try sleeping again but I don’t know that I’d manage. That and I’m honestly hungry.”

“Well Agni is trying to see what we can prepare for breakfast, we were going to try for something really quiet so we didn’t wake you. I guess we can see about whatever we want at this point, you ready to get up?”

Cyrille went to the back of that bedroom door, taking the bathrobe that hung there in hands. He walked back to the bed as Mira stretched and got out of it. The robe was settled on those shoulders and Mira tightened it securely about his waist. “Thanks for trying to let me sleep, Cy, I really appreciate it.”

“You needed it, you do look a tiny bit better than yesterday, I’m sure if you get done with the project today, you’ll finally be able to get more sleep than you’ve been getting and we can all appreciate that. Agni is starting to feel a bit left out, he’s wondering what you’ve been doing and why you haven’t asked for his help. I told him some of what you were working on was for him and you very well couldn’t ask for his help. I didn’t tell him what it was and it seemed to be enough for him.”

“Thanks.”

With a nod, Cyrille walked back to the door, looking back to Mira to make sure the teen was following him. They stepped out and then to the kitchen. “Looks like he’s awake so we can prepare the usual if we feel like it.”

“Thank goodness, I was looking through all we had and the only non-noisy stuff we could have prepared was cereal and that’s the last thing I feel like eating right now. I could do with watermelon though.”

“Looks like someone’s found a new favourite food for a while. I don’t know if we could even find watermelon at the store but we could look, it wouldn’t hurt. I can prepare us some eggs while you guys get some toast done?”

“Egg sounds fine, thank you Cy.”

“You’re so polite lately, it’s weird, Mira.”

“I’m just trying to be nice, Agni.”

“Let’s not get started on this, guys. We all need a good breakfast before any arguing about niceness starts, so bread on one side and eggs on mine, yes?”

“Yeah.”

“All right, let’s have ourselves some breakfast.”

Africa

“Now I want to visit Africa.” Yael hugged his coat tighter to himself, tugging the scarf a little higher on his nose as they moved out of the ever warm building, across the driveway, the yard and towards their own building. It was a short trek but it still was cold out and he didn’t much care to be outside for much longer than was necessary.

“Yael, you want to visit the whole world.”

“Well, of course I do but and I can’t help it, I just want to discover everything myself. You have to admit that Eoghan’s meal preparations were quite something.”

“What I admit is that I had never tasted almost everything that had been on those plates and it was all surprisingly very good.”

“This coming from the guy who does have issues trying new things he’s never even heard about.”

“I’m not that picky.”

“You’re not, I’m just teasing. Let’s head inside, I’m freezing.”

It was the one downside to being the ones one to live in a different buildings, they had go to through whatever the weather was flinging at them to get to and back from the meal and movie though it didn’t even take them a minute to cross from point A to point B.

When they stepped inside, they stamped snow off of their boots and shrugged out of their coats. They hung them up to dry and let the warmth of the inner foyer sink in. Once they’d taken off ever winter related items, they slipped into the house proper, making sure that there were no kittens in the in-between. They closed and locked the door.

“China, Africa, Japan, oh, the Netherlands!” Yael laughed as he rubbed his hands together gentle, bringing warmth to his fingers somewhat. He’d forgotten to take his gloves along though Quentin himself hadn’t and Yael was more than a little glad for that. Quentin’s fingers were important, more important than his own though he knew he couldn’t manage to do most of what he did now if he’d lost those fine, slightly bony fingers of his.

“In a couple of decades, we’ll visit the world. Just the two of us, just a backpack each and nothing else to accompany us. We’ll find places to stay, we’ll work along the way, we’ll discover the world as it was meant to be discovered: with the people.
“Short version, we’ll try not to be tourists?”

“Something like that.” They shared a soft laugh as they stepped from the living room, the fireplace empty and cold though it was only an additional source of heat they didn’t necessarily need. They stepped into their bedroom and Yael went around the bed to flick the switch on for their electric blanket.

It was just one of those things, sliding between cold sheets tended to shove him right back to alertness and he had all the issues in the world falling back asleep after that. He knew Quentin appreciated the comfort of pre-warmed sheets, too.
“What would be sad though, is that by the time we’re ready to explore, some of these places might no longer exist.”

“Yael, the world has been as it is for a long time, I can’t imagine that in two decades, some places will have disappeared altogether though I’m aware that it could happen. With the speed at which technology grows, we might even have virtual realities by then and we could probably visit the world without leaving the living room. Personally I think that’s just lame but if some places do go under, so to speak, it could be an option.”

“I guess you’re right. I just worry about the world.”

“You always worry about the world, that’s just how your mind works.”

“Sorry.”

“Nope, no apologizing, there’s no reason for that, I adore your mind and the body attached to it and the emotions that come with it and everything else.” That seemed to get a laugh out of Yael and he shook his head.

“The bed is going to need a little bit to warm up, I don’t like the blanket being too warm at once I’m always afraid it’ll catch on fire or something. We have some time.”

“A steam would be nice?”

“A steam would actually be pretty nice, my fingers still are cold, I forgot my gloves and the air out there is frigid.”

A steam did turn out to be absolutely what they were needing. Just enough time for the blanket to do its job and warm up the bed, just right to finish thawing Yael’s fingers and for the two of them to relax completely.

When they stepped out of their steam shower, they both wrapped themselves up in their thick terry bathrobe, the material warmed up just so thanks to the heater they were hanging by.

They quietly made their way back to the bedroom and as they each eased between the now warm sheets, wiggling their feet to find comfortable spots between sleeping cats—they always did take to sleeping on the bed when the blanket was warming it up—Quentin tugged a bit on their curtains, settling a semi-darkness about them in the bed.

“What do you think the world is like out there? I’ve heard Eoghan talk a bit about all of his traveling but I can’t really manage to imagine myself out there with him. I suppose I really have to experience it myself to be able to close my eyes and imagine it all again. I can imagine my wandering from Beauvais up to Dunkerque but that’s about it. It’s all the life experience I have with being out there in the world.”

Offering his arm, Quentin settles against his pillows, Yael moving to nestle against him just so. This was their way, this was how they were the most comfortable and that wouldn’t change any time soon.

“We’ll travel when we can, Yael. We’ll discover the world together and we’ll make memories. I don’t really care if you have world experience or not. I have experience myself and it wasn’t all that unpleasant but it isn’t experience I gained because I wanted to. I just wanted out of the world I was in and I did all I could to manage that much.”

“At times I wish I could go back in time and keep you from being snatched away as a child.”

“Considering that I’m older than you, I don’t know how that would even work out. Plus, I might not be here now and today if I hadn’t lived through what I have as a child. I’m not happy with my childhood but I have you here with me now, I’m not really going to change that and I wouldn’t want our lives to be any different than what they are now.”

“I’m glad.”

“Now just close your eyes and dream of places you’d love to visit. We’ve watched so many documentaries about so many places on the planet, I’m pretty sure it can’t be too complicated to manage that one. If I can, I’ll join you in the usual dream and we’ll go from there. It’s not quite world traveling but we’re managing at least that much, mm?”

Yael laughed softly against his shoulder. He closed his eyes, huddling a little closer. He was warm now, toasty really but anything he could do to make sure he was as close as possible to Quentin while they slept, he did. At times he dreamed that he was one with the other though those dreams rarely were innocent.

“Let’s dream of Africa.” The words were murmured against the top of Yael’s head, they earned a soft sigh, a note of content before the quietness of their home settled on them and the few cats settled comfortably on the heated blanket.

Life was far from perfect but to them, every day was a new adventure and a new learning experience, it was all that really mattered, in the long run.

boiling water

Now that all dishes had been washed and leftovers had been packed up and put away, the little group still sat around the table, still trying to decide whether or not they were watching a movie or if they simply were going to spend quiet time just lounging out and about in front of the fireplace.

Eoghan, still in the kitchen, was keeping track of the water, it was almost up to boiling point and he could get coffees, teas and hot cocoas out to those who had requested them.

He stepped out of the kitchen, knowing his kettle would begin to whistle when it was ready. “Have we come to an agreement?”

There were nods all around the tables, a few chuckles here and there and one single shrug though he understood where that shrug came from. He knew Mira had been working nearly non-stop on that blanket he was crocheting for his brother and Eoghan wasn’t all that surprised that the youth might have preferred a chance at going to bed at this point, he didn’t blame him.

“Well, as soon as the water is ready I’ll have the hot drinks out and we can head whichever way we need to. No one has to stay though, I’m looking at you, Mira. We’re not forcing anyone to stay and watch a movie or stay and lounge out along by the fireplace. If you’d rather head down to get some rest, no one will hold it against you.”

The teenager blinked, a soft frown touching his lips though he shook his head, the frown melting into a slight smile moments later. “I’m tired yes, but we’ve settled on one movie I’ve really been meaning to watch and I want to watch it. I know I might honestly fall asleep somewhere in there but at least I’ll have caught some of it.”

“You’re absolutely adorable, Mira.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.” Eoghan stepped back into the kitchen then, Mira huffing softly at not being able to make his point. Eoghan pulled out several cups, knowing he had more than enough water for everyone in his kettle. He prepared one cup after the other, knowing those who wanted tea had the prepared tea bags (hand made with loose leaf) already in hand.

He located one of his trays, set all cups to it and eased back into the dining room with his last heavy tray of the evening. Cups went out to each person settled around the table and he picked up his own once he was sure that the rest of his group had all they needed on hand. He did try his best to be a good host.

As the lights slowly grew in strength after the movie, they began to file out. Armin left first, a wide yawn escaping him as he settled into the elevator and went down to his floor to get back to his bed so he could curl under the cold blankets and make sure they warmed up quickly enough so he’d stop being chilled.

Quentin and Yael stayed a few more moments, helping with the finally bits of clean up. Cyrille stepped out just moments after Agni, a sleeping Mira tucked into his arms and against his chest. “Wonderful meal and good movie, thank you, Eoghan. All of this, it’s so different from what I’ve known all my life but it feels like home, I have no words to thank each and every one of you for that.”

Eoghan smiled, mussing Mira’s head gently. “There are no thank yous to be given, Cyrille. We’re just a tight knit group of people who do what we can to make our lives easier and we just keep track of one another. Make sure this one gets more sleep, he looked like he could have fallen asleep in his plate a couple of times during the meal.”

“I’ll try, he’s been working really hard on his project but I know he’s almost done, so he’ll get a lot of sleep after that.”

“You three have a good night now.”

“G’night guys.” Agni called out quietly as they stepped out. He looked between the elevator and the stairs and opted for the elevator. He knew well enough he could have taken the stairs and Cyrille would have managed too, even with his brother fast asleep in those arms but he didn’t really want to chance it.

“What has he been working on anyway? He won’t let me in his room and he refuses to tell me anything about it. I could help him if he’d let me.”

“Agni, if he could let you help him, he would. I’m pretty sure one of whatever he’s working on is for you, so letting you help him would be a bit of a moot point. I know how far along he is and I know that he’s just a couple of hours away from being done, at the rate I’ve seen him work, tomorrow, I try to keep him in bed for a while longer and he can finish up in the afternoon and then he’ll be gift-making free for a while.”

“All right, though I still feel a little left out.”

“Sorry, Agni. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to make you feel that way.”

“They’re growing up so quickly. I mean, I suppose I could have said that if I’d known them longer but I feel as though I’ve known them forever, they’ve changed so much from the meek, frightened boys we met when we were doing the rounds around the warehouse while it was still being renovated.”

“Eoghan, they’d never known anything else but the street and their sister. The fact that she hadn’t tried to teach them the language just adds to the whole thing, they didn’t speak a word of the language, they more than likely didn’t understand it either. It was surprising they’d done so well so far. They’ve adapted quickly to our life as it is now and I don’t think we could really change anything. I mean, other than how she’s wandered off and walked away from them but that’s out of our hands.”

“You think she might come back?”

Lex shrugged lightly as he looped one arm about Eoghan’s waist, walking with him towards their bedroom now that all of their guests had gone on their way. “She might, she might not. If she does, she’ll have to move into another apartment because I don’t imagine the twins telling Cyrille to move out so she can move back in.”

“I don’t think she’s a bad person, you know.”

“I don’t think any one of us think she’s a bad person. She’s just struggled all of her life to raise her kid brothers, living out in the street, protecting them and now that there is some normalcy with all of their lives, she’s found someone to love. She did try to get them to move in with her and the guy so she didn’t really want to completely abandon them here, it just happened. I believe they’re better off here as it is.”

“So we’re not bad people for having kept them here with us.”

“We’re not bad people. Eoghan, it’s almost Christmas, gifts and decorations and even more time spent together, this is a time for celebration, not for feeling poorly about decisions that were mostly out of our hands.”

“Why do we even celebrate? We know he’s not real.”

“I think it’s the commercialization of it and I think we’re mostly doing it so we can decorate the place prettily and you can spoil ever single one of our friends, they all need it in a bad way, think of it as a valid excuse to give them extra stuff.”
“I don’t usually need an excuse to give them stuff.”

“I know, but this is a valid excuse and it should be appreciated, that’s all.”

“Okay, all right. I guess you have a point and this place is pretty when it’s all decorated this way.”

“I’m glad you think so, now come on, time for some sleep.”

starry night

“Do you like to stargaze?” The question came from Mira, standing on his left, just moments before they were called to the table. Cyrille looked down to the slighter youth a moment and then back up to what little of the sky he could see out of the window.

“There’s less lights here, back at my house, the area was so brightly lit that I couldn’t even make out the brightest of stars in the sky. There’s still plenty of lights out here but they’re a lot dimmer so you can see more. I remember, as a kid, when we were out there in the middle of nowhere, that I’d love to just stare up at the sky while I was just flopped out on the ground. It was so dark out there, not a single light, the view was breath-taking. Starry nights are just one of those things we should cherish.”

“I don’t much recall ever looking up to the sky, guess we were too busy with the rest of everything to really worry about that.” Mira shook his head and Cyrille slipped his arms around those shoulders to lead him towards the table.

“If you two don’t hurry up, you won’t anything to eat!” Eoghan’s amused voice came to them as they were entering the dining room.

“You’re still putting the food on the table, Eoghan, I don’t imagine they’ll be missing out on much.” Quentin, settled next to Yael, of course, chuckled and Eoghan rolled his eyes, sticking his tongue out as he did. Mira looked briefly between the two and laughed as he settled down into one of the empty seats, Cyrille sitting down between him and Agni, of course.

“And they weren’t the last ones to sit down so I think your point isn’t valid.”

“You guys are all ruining my fun, what did I ever do to the lot of you?”

“You mother us.”

“You feed us.”

“Gave us a roof.”

“Keep us warm.”

“And you teach us to be sassy.”

“Wait, what? I did not teach any of you to be sassy.”

Laughter erupted all around the table as finally, Lex himself sat down at the table.

“So I know that last week I said we were visiting Africa and eating purely African meals but when I saw the watermelon at the store, I couldn’t help myself. With the new year coming in, I’d told myself that we’d pick places in the world and we’d find what was native to that area and prepare meals with that but I guess I got us started early. Most everything that’s on the table is native to Africa, a few small things here and there aside. Enjoy the meal.”

It did turn out that the meal was enjoyed by all parties though a few items were requested more than others, as it usually happens. Discussion flowed easily, mostly about what was in that bowl or what was in that one. At least at the beginning of the meal.

“I heard you two talking about stars while you were joining us at the table, want to tell us more about this particular discussion subject? Or why it came up?”

Mira looked up to Cyrille and then back across at Eoghan who did look to be genuinely curious. He shrugged gently. “I just noticed that Cyrille seems to spend a lot of time looking up to the sky in the evenings and I was curious.”

“So you watch him.”

“What? No! I mean I- no.” Mira blushed, the colour burning itself deeply into his cheek and he shook his head. Cyrille laughed, shifting just so under the table, touching their knees as if to comfort him.

“I do stare out the windows a lot. I love looking at the sky. Back at the house, the lights were so bright I couldn’t even make out a hint of what was out in the sky, it’s a little darker here and I already see so much more. I’ve always been fascinated with the sky and it’s not hard to notice that about me even without watching me.”

“Don’t tease my brother, Eoghan, that’s not nice.” Agni managed those words between two bites of the watermelon salad. He’d never had any before in his life but now he was discovering that he might just have to try to make a habit of trying to buy the watermelon itself, it was light and delicious, just a little sweet.

“While I appreciate you defending my, err, honour, Agni, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.” Mira’s blush was beginning to lessen now though he still was mostly staring at his plate.

“Can’t stop me.”

Cyrille lightly bopped Agni on the head. He kept his voice gentle, amused really as he mock-chastised the teen. “Probably can’t, you’re right but it’s not exactly pleasant to see you chew your food this way, close your mouth while you do chew.”

Agni blinked and he was the one to blush somewhat this time, he swallowed his bite and mumbled a quiet, “Sorry guys.”

“This meal is absolutely delicious, Eoghan, you’ve outdone yourself again.” Yael broke through the amused chuckle of their little gang, Eoghan turning to him with a light nod of his head and a smile at the compliments.

“I’ve found out that I like discovering new things and I like any chance I get at trying out new recipes and helping others discover new things with their tastebuds.”

“And here I thought you mostly liked sausage.” All eyes turned to Quentin’s innocent—though hardly innocent—face. He blinked all around and grinned brightly. “I’m not even going to apologize for that one, you guys. I spent five years of my life getting to know this guy before I met Yael, so, honestly, I’ve heard more about certain, particular things than anyone else in this room.”

All eyes then turned to Eoghan who blinked, looking baffled more than anything else. Lex was the first one to break the silence, he laughed, the sound bright and clear. Some might have been offended by what was being discussed but he saw no point to taking offence for that kind of thing, it was pointless. It was more amusing than anything else and the thought that Eoghan might have discussed their sex life with the only real friend he might have had during their time apart didn’t bother him one little bit.

“All right, let’s move away from our personal lives and back to the fact that this is a great meal and that I honestly think I’ll be stuffed until way late tomorrow, I might not even be done digesting all of this by then I ate so much.” He had eaten more than he usually ate but he blamed the watermelon salad. Anything that had watermelon in it he could hardly keep his hands off. It was a good thing it had been the biggest bowl on the table. While a hot meal would have been nice considering the weather, this mostly cool, with hints of hot meal had been perfect.

“A toast to our masterful chef.” He rose his glass, nothing more than carbonated water. They usually kept to non alcoholic drinks during their meals seeing as two of their guests still were underage. No one really complained.

Glasses went up all around, clinking gently together. Eoghan murmured a quiet thank you and the comfortable quiet of a good meal being eaten and appreciated settled on their little group once more.

Eventually, when all plates and most bowls were empty, they each got up, moving to get the clean up process started without anyone really having to ask who would help or who was washing the dishes. This had become a community work, almost and everyone helped in their own way, be it through taking dishes into the kitchen, washing them, drying them or putting them back where they belonged in the cupboards.

Collaborative efforts always did get them to their movies faster, after all.