Bridgette is still in the clutches of the Vampire Butler – Zero, but others are always moving about the Mansion, including the Giant Duggie, and the Kitsune.
As Niko approached the kitchens with his new companion in tow, the tension in the air was quite palpable. In fact it was making his hair stand on end just a bit. Luckily for him he didn’t really feel like he had a lot to worry about, the kitchens were his domain and his giant companion was intimidating on his own. He sideways glanced at the baker girl with curiosity as he stepped on into the kitchen, whatever trouble she had gotten herself into with the angry butler were her own problems. Niko could be fickle and selfish like that, sometimes he wanted to stir the pot and other times he wanted nothing to do with other people’s troubles. “This way my friend, ignore the caveman and the damsel, unless you want drama” Niko smirked, waving to Bridgette as he skipped into the kitchen.
Entering the kitchen with his hands on his hips, he narrowed his eyes as he looked around. Even though the kitchen was technically a common area, Niko was very protective of the kitchen and hated when people didn’t bother putting things away or in the wrong spot. When they did it was hell trying to coordinate dinner with the other chefs for the household. Once he decided that his area was in order, he was content to get on with business. Closing his eyes, he began to take in the cacophony of smells, enjoying each one as he gradually filtered through them trying to find the one from the shirt. He stood there a long while in silence before sighing and shrugging his shoulders. He couldn’t pick up a strong scent here so that probably meant she hadn’t been here recently, least of all not in the last several hours.
“I don’t think she’s been in here recently…..” he said with a pout. He figured it was going to be easy to find her, everyone had to eat so her scent should have been there. However it wasn’t strong enough to tell where she came or went from, so it wasn’t use mentioning. “I could use a snack, you hungry?” he perked up, throwing open the doors to the cabinets as he scanned the contents for ideas. Pancakes? Cookies? Grilled cheese? It was hard to decide with so many possibilities!
Playing the Giant – Douglas
The doorways that lead to different rooms were only so high. More than adequate for your average size human, but when you are a giant, they are a little bit on the short side. Following his new companion in the search for the gold thief, the Giant happened upon the small group that included the Vampire butler, the french baker and the other couple, that all appeared to be in a stand off of sorts. The fox had a point that it was probably a good idea to ignore the fuss, since the Giant had more pressing matters, like ringing the thief’s neck. Rather than acknowledge the gathering, he merely sneered at them and turned to walk through the kitchen door way…which he hit…with his head.
“Damned confounded…ill made piece of CRAP!” Yes, he meant the door frame, which had a rather nasty dent in it. The Giant lowered his frame slightly and ducked under the door frame; making his way into the Mansion’s kitchen. The work place of the Fox and the heart of the Mansion.
As one would expect, the kitchen was in pristine condition, thanks to one of the other chefs having cleaned up after the Vampire had made a mess. The floors, bench tops and other surfaces were all spotless. There was the heavenly scent of the french rolls and pastries that the French baker had made earlier, and it didn’t take long for the Giant to find them. In fact, he was about to pop one of the delicious morsels into his mouth, when the Fox declared that the girl the Giant searched for, had not been in the Kitchen’s recently. That meant one thing. She was obviously not a member of the kitchen staff, and thus, she could be ticked off that list of workers.
“Meh!” Duggie blurted as his search in the kitchen would come to nothing. The good part was, that the Giant was a bit peckish. In fact, he could eat a stag, and have room for desert. The fox was offering to cook up something, which really was very nice of him. It was his job after all. The Giant stroked his ginger and silver beard, and then gave a nod.
The hunt could continue, right after he had a good feed.
Sitting himself down on what would be the meat cutting board, the Giant asked;
“Got any baby back ribs?”
The words failed him as the male seemed to back down and agreed to part ways from there on. Zero’s shoulders seemed to relax but his eyes were still aflame with protection, overly so, and readiness to pounce into action and start throwing punches. Just then, just when he thought that there would be a break and the two would scoot on their way, the little fairy woman met his gaze and decided it wise to step closer.
It was a moment of miscalculation on both ends. The closer she got the more Zero got on edge, like the hair standing up on a spooked cat, and the more tense he became the harder it was to control the urge to snap around and begin breaking things. This overbearing anger he’d lived with for centuries, he didn’t know any better.
The butler shifted slightly, ignoring the new arrivals who tromped right to the kitchen – they were quite wise -, and turned his head to watch the fairy, Alexander now down the hall to his right, the two girls at his left. Then the fairy woman touched Bridgette’s wrist and a warning sounded, a single throaty snarl that broke the silence of the tension riddled hallway.
It seemed like ages but finally the two were on their way, seemingly, and the Carpathian’s gaze lessened and faded back to a golden tint and then the awkwardness set in. He didn’t look at the baker, not wanting to process what had just happened, and decided to kneel down, picking up the loose papers one at a time and seemingly interested in their order, making sure it was numerical.
He didn’t speak.
It was evolving, the raging monster within him was. He’d do whatever this girl said, but she didn’t realize that yet, thankfully. He’d protect her…Which would come off as unwanted help. This he knew. He knew he’d just be lounging in the shadows. It was the only thing he wanted. The closeness. And the only way he knew how to express it was to be brash.
Making a mental note to work on his attitude, he kept cleaning up the papers. Finally asking the question that was tearing away at him internally.
“Did I actually hurt you?”
Alexander’s tone took that of a slight panicked one as Ember pulled away from him and headed past the vampire towards the other woman. He noticed the tension in the other man rise as he glared daggers at Ember. As she got closer to the baker, she took hold of her wrist, which made the vampire jump and release a snarl.
“Do not dare..”
Alexander shot him a warning through gritted teeth. As Ember spoke to the woman and returned to him, he released a sigh of relief. Taking hold of her hand, he held tightly on to it, afraid she might try to do something rash once more. He began to pull her in the kitchen and away from the other two, just as two other people walked in…well..calling them people was probably not the right term since one seemed to have cat like ears and a tail attacked while one was naturally huge. Leading to him hitting the wall above the doorway as he tried to walk in. Hurriedly he pulled Ember to the back of the kitchen where all the plates, silverware and vases were. Once there, releasing his tight grip on her hand and letting out a breath of relief.
As he calmed down his racing heart, he turned to Ember now with an almost upset look in his eyes, his brows furrowed.
“That was so dangerous and uncalled for!”
He began as he turned to face her. The anger quickly fading through as he took hold of her shoulders and looked her over.
“Did he hurt you by any chance while you passed him? Tell me quickly if i have missed anything he might have done to you. Such a man that treats women with such disrespect cannot be forgiven!”
As he realized that the other two individuals were also in the kitchen having a snack while conversing, Alexander quickly lowered his voice. Releasing his grip on Ember as he covered his mouth, lowering his gaze and turning his head away a bit with a soft apology at his behavior.
“I had to make sure she was alright. I couldnt just leave her without checking.” She told him. Even her voice was trembling and it cracked. She could see the anger fade away as he grabbed her shoulders.
“He didnt hurt me. He may have wanted to but he didnt.” She said to him. As he let her go she seemed to slide down to where she was sitting on the floor. His grip had kept her up longer than her legs were willing to. On the floor she hugged her knees and put her forehead on them as her tears finally spilt over and ran down her face.
She trembled still with fear and now with her sobs. Something about that mad had terrified her. And it wasnt just how he was but how it felt she had met someone like him. Possessive, abusive, cruel. She couldnt remember who she had met like that. It was in her missing memories. But the feeling that she once knew someone like that, that she had been on the receiving end of the person’s cruelties terrified her.
She had heard Alexander apologize for his behavior but she was crying too hard to speak to him. Too scared of what her past held. But she wanted to know what it help. What happened to her?
“Ribs? As a snack? You’ll ruin your dinner” Niko scolded with a wag of his finger. It was incredibly annoying to slave away in the kitchen making dinner for the entire household, and then someone decided to eat only a hour before so they’re not hungry and a plate goes to waste. Although on second thought with the size of the giant it was entirely possible ribs were just a snack for him, he looked like he could eat a whole cow as an appetizer.
“Fine, I’ll see what we’ve got” he huffed, opening the doors to the enormous refrigerator/meat locker to see what they had in storage. He remembered distinctly coming in to work with the smell of braised ribs the other day, so if there were any left they’d probably be hidden away in here. And if they were all gone, the giant would just have to settle, because Niko did not feel like waiting around several hours to slow cook ribs to perfection.
“Oh lucky you, there’s leftovers” Niko called out, huffing and puffing as he carried a whole half rack covered in foil to the counter. There was no name on the wrappings so that meant fair game in a kitchen like this. He hummed to himself as he ventured over to preheat the oven and from there went to the closet to retrieve his apron, washed and rinsed his hands in the sink, and then set about unwrapping and plating the ribs. Since they’d been in the freezer they needed to thaw for a bit, so that gave Niko time to make new sauce. He pulled whiskey from the cabinet, some ketchup, dark brown sugar and a cup of vinegar from the fridge and mixed them in a bowl. Tasting it with his finger, he returned to the fridge for lemon juice and the cabinet for Worcestershire sauce and added those to the bowl as well. Satisfied with the taste he poured the sauce into a saucepan and began to heat it on the stove. As he cooked Niko seemed to be in his own little world, blocking out anyone and anything else that might interrupt him. His eyes glazed over like he was reminiscing about memories, despite the fact no one remembered anything before the mansion. Once the oven was done heating, he took the ribs out and painted them up with his fresh sauce, he set them down on the counter with a huff of effort.
“Eat up” Niko sighed happily, resting his elbows on the counter and his chin in his hands. He’d get around to cleaning up while the giant ate, but for now he just wanted to bask in the aroma of food. Nothing else made him happier, aside from eating that is.
He whispered her name before reaching a hesitant hand towards her and gently pressing it against the top of her head. She was very shaken, and for what reason, he did not understand. He didnt know if he was at fault but…at this point he felt responsible. They were hidden behind the shelving of the silverware and plates, out of the view of the other two in the kitchen.
Bitting down on his bottom lip, he finally could not hold back any longer as he took hold of her shoulders and pulled her against his frame in a tight embrace. The need to hold her tightly and comfort her took over.
“Sh…its ok, i wont let anything hurt you i promise.” He whispered to her soothingly as he gently pulled her in his lap while sitting against the nearest wall. His arms wrapped tightly around her small frame to subdue her shaking.
Him holding her seemed to help her calm down. She didnt feel so alone. And he wasnt hurting her. Though being held and comforted felt very new to her. It took her a few minutes to stop crying and trembling. She coughed as she tried to catch her breath. Her head hurt as well. She relaxed the death grip she had on Alexander but didnt fully let go. “Im sorry.” She said quietly.
She lifted her head and looked at him. Her eyes were puffy and red from the crying. “Im sorry. I didnt mean to upset you. Or worry you. But I couldnt go without making sure she was alright.” She looked down. “That man… The way he acted triggered something. Before I came here and lost my memories I must have known someone like him. Been a victim of whoever it was. I dont understand it but it terrifies me.” She explained. She felt he deserved an explanation for her breakdown. “Thank you for not leaving me to cry alone.”
She took a deep breath still recovering. She became aware of his arms around her. A light blush formed as she looked at him. “Um… Where are the flowers? Th…They need to be placed in water. They’ve gone too long without it already.” She told him trying to go back to normalcy.
The French baker had not ever been the centre of attention before in her time at the Mansion. To feel the girl approach her even in the face of the angered Zero, she naturally shied away when asked if she would ask for help if needed. A slow nod was her only response, for she could hear Zero growling in the back ground, and the last thing she wanted was for him to lay a hand on the other girl. The other gentleman drew the girl back to him, and together they moved on from the scene, leaving Bridgette and Zero alone once more. Another pair had been past and gone straight into the kitchen, but thankfully they knew better than to get involved in the disagreement.
Bridgette released something of a sigh of relief when at last silence had returned. The Vampire Butler’s eyes returned to their ember hue and the knelt down and started to pick up the last of the fallen books pages, one by one. He made sure they were in numerical order and tapped them on the floor as they were finally back in a sense of order. The French baker didn’t leave his side. For some reason, Bridgette felt they had unfinished words to say to the other.
”Hmmph. Did I actually hurt you?”
The French baker did not answer straight away. She glanced down at her swollen wrist and then said. ”Oui.” She wasn’t about to lie to him. ”I…vill get zome ice on it.” Bridgette was about to turn and go into the kitchen, when she stopped a moment and then asked quietly. ”Vhat….did I do to youz?” She was now curious as to why he had acted the way he had. The heat of the moment had passed, and Zero had gone on and on that she had cursed him, done something to him that hurt him. But what was it?
Bridgette felt she needed to know.
Playing the Giant – Douglas
The Giant pulled open a drawer that was close by to where he was sitting, and withdrew a long metal skewer. Slamming the drawer shut, he started to used it like a toothpick, to clean away at the spaces between his enormous teeth, while waiting to see if the fox could find him some baby back ribs. ~Pick pick pick~ went the metal instrument, the Giant’s head tilting back and forth as he grunted unceremoniously. He could just spy the fox’s tail weaving upward from behind one of the long stream line middle kitchen benches as he searched for ribs. The Giant had to admit, that this little fur ball was actually dutiful and also quite useful thus far. Offering to sniff out the girl using the frilly white shirt, and now actually preparing him a meal to starve off his growing hunger.
”Ahhh, there’s a good laddie.” The Giant sung out, on seeing the whole half rack covered in foil and being placed up on the kitchen bench by the little fox. He’s come up trumps. The sound of the gas being turned on for the ovens meant that this meal was going to be one to enjoy, even if it took a bit of time to heat up. Duggie had decided that the search for the girl could wait a bit – his stomach being far more important at the moment.
Tossing the metal skewer away haphazardly behind him, he drew up his empty flagon of scotch and let out a sigh. ”What kind of lassie wastes a good drop of scotch…I ask you.” He gave the deflated looking bladder a shake, before putting it back on over his shoulder. The Giant’s temper seemed to be cooling. Maybe it was due to the delicious smells that were coming from the strange concoction that the fox was mixing together in the bowl. He clearly knew his way around the kitchen. This interested the Giant, who had only a few loves in this world – one of them being food.
”Ere…’ow long you been a cookie?” The giant asked, as he watched the little fox go about his work. Course the greatest moment came when the fox brought out the ribs from the oven, and then with a brush painted over the glaze on the cooking meat. It was enough to have Duggie practically salivating. With his big hands, he tore off one of the ribs and began to feast upon it. Slobbering and gnawing at the bone like he had not eaten for a good week or more.
”Now this…this is what I call…a meal for a King. Ahaha!” The juices were slowly running down his chin as he chewed heartily. ”You’re a keeper…wee foxy.” That was a compliment if ever he had said one.
He inhaled sharply and collected the last paper, placing it on top and then putting the chapters together. It looked alright, but there was a trace of red where the blood had to be either gently cleaned out or the paper needed to be discarded. He stood up and held the remains of the cook book in his hands as she spoke about ice and then turned to leave.
Zero assumed that would be it but then she asked him what she had done and he, for the first time, believed she didn’t know. How could he explain this? He set the pile of papers down on the window sill to their right in the hallway. Words failed him. Without the vocabulary it was hard to explain…Color was foreign.
The butler walked to the wallpaper and pointed to a black spot in the intricate vintage looking design. “This..” He said and then shifted his finger to the accompanying gray. “And this…” And then looked around, catching sight of the wall trim that was white, dusty, but white. “…And that. Those..three..and variations.” He sounded like a lunatic. “That was all I could see. Everything was this and this and that.” He pointed to each color in the same order respectively. “There was no…” and then his hand shifted and pointed out the window where the brilliantly blue sky could be seen. “Or…No…” And then it was the green lamp shade of one of the many lights in the hallway. Then to the softer green carpet on the floor. Then to the red on the book. “Then I saw you…And it happened at once. And now I can see everything.”
Well he gave it his best shot.
“I thought it was a curse..But…I am not sure what happened.” He rubbed his head reliving the moment and exhaled. “I…” Zero paused and then straightened his vest almost nervously. “I was scared, with everything being so…bright. And I attacked you, because I blamed you. I’m sorry. It’s all I know how to do. While it was happening I knew I didn’t want to hurt you.”
For a shy and reclusive girl like Bridgette, it was a great change to see her actually trying to hold a conversation with a man that had only moments earlier threatened her. But curiosity in the man had now been engaged due to his rapid mood changes. He was a kaleidoscope of different emotions that oddly enough she seemed to trigger. What was this connection between her and his moods? She simply had to know.
The Vampire had gone about gathering up the last of the pages of the damaged cook book, in some sense of order, and yet now the girl was staring at him, wanting to know how it was that she had caused him pain. The book was forgotten for now.
As he set down the book on the window ledge and then started to point out various patterns on the wallpaper, to explain how he had only been able to see in black, white and grey; Bridgette came to think that perhaps he had been color blind. How else could he only see the world robbed of the magnificence of color? Her eyes followed each sample he pointed to, and she hung on each phrase as they passed from his lips.
It was when he started to point out the change, how there was no blue of the sky or green of the lamp before he had met her, that she started to see his dilemma. From a colorless world, all of a sudden the shock of the brilliance of color would indeed caused him distress….pain perhaps. But it was the fact that it was on meeting her, that this incredulous change occurred. To the Vampire, it would have seemed like a kind of magic, a curse even. He admitted that it had scared him greatly, and thus he reacted as he had, thinking she had caused this.
Bridgette approached him slowly. Each step perfectly placed. The butler had been more than honest with her right now, and she felt she owed him the best explanation she could give.
She actually reached out and touched his chest with her small right hand. Her fingers lightly pressed to his vest.
“It waz not me….It waz your heart.” She believed that his heart had started to beat again. Whatever she did was not some spell, or enchantment. “You are…zeeing color…because…you velt something in your heart.”
Niko shrugged in response to the gisnt’s question, he couldn’t recall having ever cooked anything before this mansion. “Ever since I woke up here I suppose. I just….already know somehow. I don’t use recipes most of the time, I know by taste or smell if it’s right or wrong” he explained, crunching up and folding the foil into a square on a whim. He tossed it over his shoulder aiming for the trash can but missed. Shrugging again he went over and put it away properly and then headed for the sink to lather up and wash his hands.
For some reason what the giant had said about a meal for a King made Niko angry, the hair on his tail began to bristle and he found himself gnashing his teeth together. The idea of serving a king infuriated him for reasons unknown….hah! Niko serving a king! Absolutely preposterous! That coupled with the way he misnamed his race made him spin about and stare down the giant. “I am NO servant and you are NOT a king! I am a kitsune not some foolish little forest vermin, and I’d soon see proper respect or that meat will turn to ashes in your mouth!” he threatened with a real fire in his eyes. The air crackled a bit when the static electricity began to buildup in his tail, which could only mean the production of fox fire for a kitsune. His features also seemed to stretch and elongate, taking on a more feral and menacing look. It was a subtle change however, almost like a trick of the light, where you had to look twice just to be sure anything had changed at all. The work of his illusions for sure, already painting doubt in the minds of any in his audience.
Niko wasn’t sure why the giants words were setting him off like that, but it just felt so insulting! He was the one who deserved people waiting on him hand and foot, not some pompous human who got their power from decades and centuries of inbreeding! He deserved worship and praise and…..what? Where had those ideas come from? It puzzled and confused the kitsune enough that he seemed to settle back into himself. “I…..will not apologize” Niko finally said, going back about cleaning up the ingredients and cookware he had displaced. “I have a temper and a short fuse, and apparently you’ve found one way to light that fuse. I am NOT a servant, I do NOT serve royalty or anyone else! I am at the neck and call of none but my own desires. I cook in this mansion because I want to and because I enjoy it, and you only get to eat because I am not wasteful, understood?” he declared with a certain air of finality, somewhat like a parent laying down the law for a child. He was nearly done wiping down the counters now and he still held a right frown and tenseness in his body. Whatever he had been and done before this mansion was clearly clashing with the idea of serving others, but Niko had no clue why.
“Can we get back to looking for the thief now?” he asked with his back turned to the giant, washing his hands once more.
He asked in a soft voice, the hand on her upper arm gently rubbing it to keep her calm. However, she asked about the flowers then, and his eyes instantly went wide. Turning his head away he pressed a fisted hand against his forehead and cursed under his breath. He had left them back in the hallway. The bastard vampire better have not stomped them to death….Lifting her up and gently putting her back on the floor, Alexander quickly stood back to his feet.
“I will go get them, you can tart preparing the vases. I’ll be back soon.”
She watched his reaction about the flowers. Figuring they had been left behind she hoped the guy hadnt done anything to him. She made a small noise as he lifted her up and moved her to the floor. Was she really that light that he could move her like a rag doll? She watched him stand and nodded. “Alright then.”
She stood up and sighed a bit. She noticed the other two in the kitchen. She ignored them and got some vases and started filling them about halfway with water waiting for Alexander to come back.
The Giant sat with half the rib hanging out of his mouth, when the little furry creature went absolutely ballistic over a comment that the Giant had made, which had been done as a compliment, but totally taken the wrong way. Niko had just finished saying how he could not recall anything before winding up in the mansion, which was something that the Giant and he both shared. But on the compliment about the meal being one that was fit for a King, the kitsune went apeshit.
Even the hair on his tail went all fuzzy like, bristling as the tiny creature raged on the Giant. Now you have to remember there is a great size difference between the two and to see something so small give the Giant a piece of his mind, it was quite a sight.
. “I am NO servant and you are NOT a king! I am a kitsune not some foolish little forest vermin, and I’d soon see proper respect or that meat will turn to ashes in your mouth!”
”Woah…woah little laddie. I think you got what I said all wrong….eh?’ The Giant put both hands up as though to try and calm the little fellow, but the kitsune was already starting to charge up – with eyes like fire and the crackling of energy radiating about his form. The situation and the Kitsune were both heating up and it needed to be dealt with. Even the features on the little fellow were growing and sharpening. The Giant had said a faux pas and hadn’t even realized it.
”Aye, I am no King…and I am sure you are no servant laddie. Will ya just calm ya clacks?” He almost begged the little fellow. He actually had a small soft spot for Niko as he viewed him as something of a new friend – a rarity within this crazy house. On and on the Kitsune sprouted, ramming home that he was no one’s servant, he cooked for the house because he wanted too, not because he was ordered to. It was like being at teachers night….really.
At the end of the emotional tirade, the Giant surrended. He waved the frilly shirt like it was a white flag. ”I give…Really am sorry, little one. It was a very good meal…just saying.” Getting up off the meat cutting board, which groaned after being relieved of the Giant’s bulk, the Giant wiped his mouth with the frilly shirt and then said.
”Right, back on the trail then, laddie.”
(thread change – dining hall?)
Bridgette went about explaining how it was his heart and he, being the cold loner he was, couldn’t really see that…Or understand it really..He couldn’t fathom the concept of a muscle in his chest controlling sight. But the way she said it made him believe her, somewhere in the back of his head, and he didn’t argue the point, assuming he’d find out later what everything meant. All these troublesome emotions were flying around. He was like an angst riddled teenager.
Color must be the term to describe the shades that he wasn’t used to seeing, the butler concluded, not wanting to sound idiotic by asking. Color. The word repeated in his head as he thought about the new found world around him. Maybe this place wasn’t such a lifeless pit after all.
It was only then that he realized how calm he’d become as he looked down at the girl before him. He caught himself staring at her eyes, they were so beautiful, and looked away for half a second before looking back.
Through thick and thin never once had they had a chance to exchange names, though he didn’t really blame her for not shouting her name while they were exchanging glares and such. And honestly he couldn’t think of a reply to her words about heart. He didn’t want to reply. Maybe it was this impending fear that he was changing so swiftly..