"Don't blame me when you get fucking /Tim Burton/ kitchen up in here." (Buzzkill TP wrap-up!)
<NYC> Harbor Commons - Kitchens - Lower East Side
Gleaming and polished and new, the common house here boasts an enormous industrial-sized kitchen for preparing communal meals. Set up as two mirror-image fully equipped kitchens, both left and right halves of the room contain a trio of enormous ovens, each topped with twelve gas-powered stove burners. There is a wealth of cabinet and drawer space ringing the walls, and separate side-by-side fridge and freezer to each side of the space as well. Both halves of the room contain their own large central islands, black granite countertops providing a large expanse of space for food prep; beneath the center islands are stored a well-stocked supply of pans and pots and cutting boards and kitchen gear. The pantry is shared, a large walk-in room along the back wall, its shelves all carefully labelled and organized. The opposite wall has sinks, deep three-compartment ones for each side of the room.
There are very clearly labeled signs in the kitchen, denoting the left half of the room strictly for preparation only of foods both vegan and Kosher; there are no restrictions on the foods prepared in the right half. Equipment from each side is color-coded and should be kept separate. Instructions request that any prepared foods served or stored in communal space keep /strict/ lists of the ingredients used for those with dietary concerns and that leftovers are marked clearly with dates before being stored.
The chill in the evening air outside promises a frosty night, but in the Common House there is warmth and light and music and revelry. A dinner party is in full swing, with conversation and snack foods and board games (really, would it be a Commons party without those) galore. The kitchen is also bustling with activity, albeit slightly more businesslike than elsewhere.
Autumn has her hair tied back with a threadbare blue bandana, and wears a cheerful flowery apron over an extremely oversized black t-shirt and old, worn jeans. She is tending to a big pot of mapo dofu, bright red with the fresh-ground peppers she just added. "Okay, that can just simmer now," she says, covering it and checking on the pot of soup beside it before turning away to cast around the kitchen, the whites of her eyes flashing in something like incipient panic. "I'm sure I'm forgetting something, what am I forgetting?"
Jax is brightly dressed, black and red-plaid pleated skirt worn over red velvet leggins, large stompy buckly platform boots, mismatched multicoloured armwarmers (currently with their lower halves rolled up past his wrists), a metallic silvery-red sleeveless top. His hair is vividly flame-hued in red-orange-yellow, eyepatch orangey-yellow and sporting a trio of apples embroidered into its center. "Not forgettin' nothin," he carols cheerfully as he swoops in to whisk the cutting board from the peppers off to the sink to wash, "I jus' put up extra rice so there'll be plenty afore it runs out out there, no worries." He maaaybe has plenty of experience cooking for Crowds, only warm cheer in place of his panic. "This all smells so great, you can jus' relax an' --" Though here his cheer falters, briefly, something like regret creeping in. "Well. Should enjoy your dinner, yeah?"
Dusk is totally not helping. He's /been/ playing board games and now he's taking a break to come be a NUISANCE, judging by how he strolls in to draaape a wing around Jax, heedless of the fact the other man /is/ doing actual productive work. "Dude, you sure you don't want to stay? Because, I mean, if we ate like this more often I'm pretty sure Hive and Daiki would just be glad with the free room and board for always, this is fantastic." He's sneaking a hand towards the tofu pot. Sneaksneak. Nobody will notice. In attire he is much less colourful than Jax -- drab brown corduroys, a plain black backless wrap shirt, Vans sneakers -- though he echoes the other man's colour in the vibrant autumn hues of his /wings/, enormous clawed batwings painted up in a fallen-leaf pattern of reds and yellows and golds.
Matt is lifting a baseball-sized tea strainer from a liter-plus teapot of purple-glazed china from which steam gently rises. His short brown hair is just a bit touseled and he wears a navy t-shirt with one little turtle saying "Trust me!" as he tips a barrel of radioactive ooze toward three others and khaki cargo shorts. "Here, have some tea," he says placidly, filling a matching teacup and setting it on the counter in front of Autumn. "Yeah, we've got your back. Really, we do, and I don't just mean in the kitchen. Anyone else want some? Milk oolong, it's deliiiiiiicious..." He waggles the unwieldy teapot (tempt, tempt!), flashing his boyish grin.
Jack isn't too far behind Dusk, also coming from board game time. Dressed in newer jeans, his Nightwing-logo t-shirt, and a red hoodie he's left unzipped, he just blinks as he looks around at all the cooking. He's got some bandages peeking out of the collar of his shirt and some around his arms if anyone peeks in the empty sleeves but they don't seem to be slowing him down. "Wow..." he trails off, taking in the scents of the meal in progess. "Need an extra set of hands for anything?" he offers around.
Having tagged along with Jack for his first taste of life off the campus or away from his arguably small city life, Cody has been a sort of wallflower this whole time, not wanting to actually bother Dusk or anyone else that his roomie seems to at least know in passing. So most of the time has been with his hands either in his pockets, his lap, or reading from a dog-eared and travel worn paperback novel. Still doglegging on the group, he leans on the doorframe behind Jack and sort of waits quietly... the uncomfortable silence of someone who doesn't know if he should be here.
Shane hasn't been here in the kitchen long, being more busy outside with the Snacking and the Conversing. But now he has peeled himself away from Daiki's side, abandoning the small knot of people they've been talking with to venture into the kitchen. The tiny sharkpup is dressed in much his usual style, crisp sharply-tailored trousers, dress shirt, bowtie, houndstooth vest, polished saddle shoes. He ambles into the room with hands tucked in his pockets, kind of /habitually/ trailing after his dad to the sink to start washing the dishes Jax puts there. "So," he offers in preamble-free greeting, "you seriously going through with this?"
"Oh, /oh/ the rice!" Autumn gasps, eyes going even wider. "Thank you so much, that would have been a complete disaster." She scoops up the tea with a nod at Matt and blows across its surface, her shoulders relaxing just a bit. "It /is/ tempting," she admits, darting a glance at Dusk. Then she sees where he's headed. "Hey, careful, I just put a bunch of peppers in that and it's /mega/ spicy." She finally takes a sip of her tea, then starts eyeing the small pile of daikon radishes lying on the counter. "You guys are so wonderful, and I love it here, but...well, my mom. I don't know if I'll ever /forgive/ her, but I believe her. And DD needs a parent, you know? Not just..." Though she ducks her head there and does not finish the sentence. At Jack's arrival, however, she brightens visibly. "Hi! I hope you're having fun. I think we've got it handled, but if you want to chop some veggies, I wouldn't say /no/..." Peering past him, she waves at Cody shyly. "Hi, I'm Autumn. I swear I'm not always freaking out like this!"
"Tsk." Jax's chiding is not all that reproachful, really; he doesn't actually try to /stop/ Dusk from pinchin the food. He does lean briefly into the wing-hug, but straightens soon after to hold his hand out to Matt, eye wide and puppy-like as he silent-begs for his own cup of tea. His cheeks flush dark crimson at Autumn's answer. "If you think it's what's right for you then -- but." His teeth drag against his lower lip, clicking against the lip rings there. He brightens back up as he waves at Cody and Jack. "Oh! Hi! Hey! Cody, woah, welcome. I been holed up in the kitchen so long I didn't know you was here, uh -- welcome t'my -- our -- home. Dinner. Thing."
"It's okay," Dusk assures Autumn, deadpan, "I only /look/ like a white boy. I can handle my spice no problem, though." Yoink! He nabs a cube of tofu (bright red peppers clinging heavily to it) from the pot to pop into his mouth. "Also that sounds like nonsense to me. There's like a /dozen/ parents here, that's way better than one? Believe her about what, anyway?"
Matt's lips press into a thin line. "I can't speak for your mom, but DD's got /you/, and you have us...parents included." He smiles again, and pours Jax a cup of tea as well. "Anyway, I've already talked your ear off about all /that/. You know where you stand with us, and you don't have to go just because you threw a farewell party." He hefts the still-mostly-full teapot and starts loading empty teacup onto a tray. "Anyhow, I should go and spread this beverage around before it gets cold."
"C'mon in, Cody. You don't have to hang back all quiet...leave that to me," Jack jokes a little. Attention turns to Autumn and Jack offers an unseen smile. "Its been fun so far. Pretty much every time I've been here's been fun though," he chuckles. He's quiet a moment as the other speak, nodding. "Parents can be overrated too," he murmurs quietly. "The ones here not included," he adds quickly.
"Sorry, it's just a little overwhelming." Cody replies, and then out of politeness he moves past where Jack is, and walks over towards where Autumn is and holds out a hand, "I'm being a rude guest. I'm Cody Maddox. I room with Jack at school. I heard he was going out, and he let me tag along. I've never seen anything of the east coast. Looks almost like Thanksgiving in here." A brief smile is given over to Autumn whether or not the handshake is returned, but then he looks around again, and gives an almost apologetic look to Jax. Nerves being what they are, there's a momentary ripple in the air around him, but nothing that would do more than push away something touching him at that moment.
"Fuck parents, seriously," Shane grumbles with a shake of his head. "It's not /blood/ that makes them parents it's being fucking /there/ for you. Always having your best interests in mind. /That's/ the important thing to have around, who-the-fuck-ever's giving it." He flicks soap suds off his fingers, spattering them over Dusk's wings. "Girl's in the goddamn room with literally the only people in history who've successfully stolen people out of Prometheus and she thinks -- I don't know what the fuck." For Jack and Cody, though, he only has a briiight (and very sharply toothy) grin. "Well, yeah. It's an Autumn-party."
"Look, I know you guys have more.../experience/ with the whole Prometheus thing, but you've got your own lives to look after," Autumn says quietly, looking down. "And I'm not saying she's awesome just because she's /blood/, but she's dedicated to finding Summer. That I believe." The smile she smiles is kind of forced, but she shakes Cody's hand without hesitation. "Welcome! I've never really done Thanksgiving, but this menu is basically what we do for Lunar New Year dinner. Except way, /way/ more of it. Here..." She pushes the daikon and a cutting board with a knife on it toward Jack. "If you can slice that, I'd really appreciate it. Where'd I put the mushrooms?"
"Sure we do," Jax answers Autumn quietly, "but findin' the folks those labs have caught an' makin' sure they're free is always gonna /be/ part of our lives. We been searchin' for them -- ain't gonna /stop/ till they're all found." There's a very faint ripple of light around him, that fades soon. Shifting his teacup to one hand, he moves to retrieve a -- neatly chopped! -- cutting board full laden with mushrooms and place it at Autumn's side. Somewhat lighter, more amused than otherwise at the others' statements on parents: "They're right, though, anyway. It ain't /parents/ that's the important thing. It's having a family around that cares about you -- however you want to build that." He leans back against a counter, curling glittery-nailed fingers around his teacup and offering Cody a lopsided smile at his apologetic look. "I'm glad you came. Y'ain't bein' rude at all, there's -- always a lot goin' on, 'pologies it's a bit hectic. Anyway we like guests, here. Feed as many people as we do, couple more don't never hurt."
"Shiiiit have we skipped to Thanksgiving already? And moved straight past Halloween? Not cool, we need to get some spooky decorations in here stat." Dusk's grin is bright and very sharply fangy, though it soon fades into bafflement. "Wait wait wait back up." His brows lift, thumbclaws twitching at the tops of his wings. "You're ditching us for a bunch of gangsters because you think they'll find Summer? No offense but that's sort of stupid, isn't it? If they were /really/ dedicated to finding Summer, they'd do it if you lived there or not -- which, I mean, we aren't going to /stop/ looking if you leave. And if finding her is contingent on you living there they're -- not that dedicated, are they?" His head shakes quickly. "... besides which," is more hesitant, "I think I've just made progress in tracking people down that got disappeared."
"I don't doubt you, but dedication isn't always enough. Your mother almost certainly does not have a full understanding of what she is getting herself into." Matt looks up into Autumn's eyes. "And *you,* because I'm guessing they'll want you in on it." He fills the tray-ful of teacups with expert grace, basking in the light scent of the oolong that blossoms enough for a moment to be detected over the savory smells of dinner in the making. "I'd venture to say this beats most Thanksgiving dinners...which, admittedly, isn't saying *much.*"
"Thanksgiving here was...I've never seen that much food in my life," Jack replies to Cody. He's got very fond memories of that meal. He jumps slightly when offered the knife,rolling up he sleeve and exposing some of the bandages. "Oh, Lo siento," he says, embarrassed that he got distracted. He starts to very carefully cut the radish, making sure not to cut himself. He smiles to himself as everyone responds to Autumn. "And...like I mentioned...gangster. It could all just be smokescreen to keep you under their thumb," he says, eyes still on his cutting. He pauses at Dusk's news though. "You did?"
Since the conversation seems to be about something that Cody isn't aware of, or that he could even comment on, he moves off and away from the crowd after giving an apologetic nod to Autumn. There's a few moments that he's caught sort of looking at Shane, and then Dusk, and then back to Shane once more before he gulps and moves off to a nice and convenient kitchen corner that isn't bustling with activity. But from his spot, he blows out a breath, and says towards Autumn, "I've got no clue what everyone's talking about... and I'm not going to ask. But seems like there's a lot of people here who want to help you."
Eyes going to Jax and then back, he continues to talk towards Autumn, "I spent most of my growing up shipping between my parents little house and my aunt's farm. My parents and my older brother spent a lot of time out on their boat making a living fishing. I have an older sister, but she was so focused on school there was no one home, and daycare cost too much... my aunt stepped in. She never made a worry about it. She lived alone on the farm, hired hands to helped out. She must have worked... I dunno... eighteen hour days, every day. But she always made time to talk, or check in on me. When the whole..." Skipping the word over, "thing happened... her first concern wasn't about anything other than if -I- was allright. She helped pay for my flight out to New York and is giving me some allowance while I'm here." Another pause as he looks at the tea, and then waves it off politely, "I suppose what I'm trying to say is family happens where you are, even when you don't expect it."
"See? Every-damn-person here laying some truth out for you." Shane shrugs, drifting away from the sink to grab Dusk by the arm and drag him over instead, stationing the bat-winged mutant at his post. There. Job as good as done. "People -- people who /care/ about finding her -- are going to look for Summer regardless of what /you/ do. So where's going to be the safest, healthiest place for you to look after DD?" He's drifting back towards the exit, snagging one of Matt's teacups on the way. Though he gives Dusk a small eye-roll at the Halloween mention: "Great. Now you've gone and done it. Don't blame me when you get fucking /Tim Burton/ kitchen up in here." He absconds with the tea through the swinging doors, back out into the merriment beyond.
"Wow, when did /that/ happen?" Autumn gawks at the mushrooms. "You are seriously a kitchen /wizard./" She takes the cutting board over to a wok with some onions, garlic, and carrots at a low sizzle in oil. "They think I can help them...with my abilities. And I /want/ to. But..." She stops, stares at Dusk. "You have? Sorry, of course you have, I'm not actually questioning you it's just..." She chews on the inside of her cheek, eyes going distant. Seeing the bandages on Jack's arm snaps her out of her reverie. "Oh, no! what happened to your arm? You don't have to do that if it hurts." Remembering her stir-fry, she dumps the mushrooms into the wok and folds them in with the other vegetables while listening to Cody, nodding periodically. Her shoulders sag a little and her hand pauses for a moment at Shane's question, though she does not answer it.
"You've had your hands a little full," Jax says with a quick grin to Autumn. "I'm kinda used t'juggling a lot." His single eye shoots over to Dusk at this announcement, though, pierced eyebrows lifting. He doesn't ask.
He /does/ brighten at the mention of Halloween decorations, though. A wide smile stretches across his face as he steps out of the way of the food-prep. The room around them starts to blossom with colour -- the lights shifting into hovering very elaborately carved jack-o-lanterns with grotesque faces, the cabinet handles and legs of counters and fixtures on the sink all remaking themselves to look like bones, a fluttering flock of bats flitting around the ceiling. None of these things look particularly like storebought Halloween /decorations/ -- more like the room /has/ started to transform itself into the set of a stop-motion animation. Jax's eyepatch shifts, too, the apples on it replaced with a skeleton.
More satisfied, he sips at his tea. Then tips it slightly towards Cody. "All kindsa ways t'make a family, for sure. Anyway, the decision's yours -- decision's /been/ yours. I'd just. Sleep easier knowing it was on account'a where you /wanted/ t'be an' not on account'a feeling like there weren't no options that'd still help your family."
Dusk's eyes widen as he is conscripted into dish-duty, though he doesn't fight it. Just folds his wings in behind his back and gets to scrubbing. "Yeah. It's been sort of a slog and I still -- have a lot of work to do -- lot of work to do, but." There's a small furrow to his brows, a heavier tightness to his shoulders. This all dissolves at the sudden change in decoration, though, eyes widening. Bright smile returning. "Never gets old."
Matt's vivid green eyes fix on Dusk for a moment, but then he grins when the kitchen transforms around them. "Wow, all we need is some leftover mooncakes and this would be all the autumn parties rolled into one." He lifts his tray and levels a sympathetic look in Autumn's direction. "At least stay the night, huh? You're going to be *exhausted* after this." Then he's off, bearing tea to the thirsty masses.
"Huh?" Jack looks as confused as an empty hood can at first. When it registers with him what Autumn is talking about, Jack chuckles. "Oh, I was just a little clumsy playing around with some of the other guys," he says, not mentioning the Fight Club. "Someone with some healing powers fixed me up for the most part. I'll be okay, not even the worst I've been hurt in the past," he says, cutting a little more. When he finishes, Jack presents the cutting board and freshly sliced veggie to Autumn. Jax's sudden decorations get Jack looking around. "Wow..." he trails off with an unseen grin. "Told ya he was awesome," he remarks to Cody.
Cody whistles at the change around him and everything else he was thinking about is kind of gone. He ducks his head a bit and then mumbles out, "Yeah... awesome." And with little else to do at the moment, as well as feeling rather self-conscious about standing there off to one side, he moves over next to Dusk. Once there, he digs around until he can find a towel and says, "I'll dry."
Autumn stares into her stir-fry, though the sudden influx of Halloween puts a trace of a smile back on her face. "Yeah, even if /I'm/ not exhausted, DD will be." She starts when Jack presents her with the veggies, then smiles broader. "Well, I'm glad you're okay now. And thank you for helping out...all of you." Her gaze sweeps the kitchen, but at last settles on Dusk. "Good luck. And, if it's okay...I think we're going to stay for now. But only if I can find some way to pay rent that isn't just dinner parties."
"Brunch parties." Jax's suggestion comes without hesitation.