"I know perfectly well this isn't simple for any of us--you least of all, no?"
<PRV> Tessier Residence - Greenwich Village
Understated opulence claims this spacious and well-kept townhome, the decor throughout the whole of it of the highest quality and carefully chosen. The front door opens onto the entrance hall, a closet close at hand to receive coats and shoes -- the pale hardwood floors gleam underfoot, unsullied by tracked-in mess from outside. The living room beyond the entrance is all dark woods and pale earth tones, comfortable couches and armchairs and a thick soft rug laid down beneath. Two large and painstakingly aquascaped aquariums flank the entrance to the dining room, with several brightly coloured species of fish within. Most of the rest of the wall space, notably, is taken up with shelves -- shelves crammed with books of every subject and genre.
A study branching off of the main hall is cozy, small, done in pale blues and lined with books as well around the large computer desk and smaller futon, though these rarer books are cased behind glass. Another securely locked door leads to the basement, and another to the full bathroom downstairs. The kitchen connects to the living room; in contrast, it is sleek and modern and well-appointed, stocked by someone who takes their cooking seriously. And takes their alcohol equally seriously -- to one side of the kitchen there is a fully-stocked bar. The back door to the kitchen looks out on a small well-kept garden.
With the extensive Christmas decorations tastefully arrayed around and inside the house, the beautiful tree that somehow manages not to crowd the (subtly adjusted!) furniture arrangement in the living room, and the sound system playing quiet half-familiar medieval carols, it might be easy to miss the ways that Yule is coexisting with it's younger and more popular sibling holiday here.
But the longest night of the year has not gone unremarked, the vigil evidently successful since the day has in fact dawned, sunny but chilly. The fire has been banked and a luxurious breakfast served, after which Matt is now cleaning up, little though there left clean up after a cook as fastidious as Lucien.
Matt's ugly winter holiday sweater of the day (he has, unsurprisingly, several) could also go for either Christmas or Solstice, bright red dotted with white snowflakes wreathing three rows of white text reading "FAB YULE OUS". He's humming tunelessly along to what sounds distantly like "Christ was Born on Christmas Day" but is in fact the considerably older and less jingly "Resonet in Iaudibus."
Gaétan isn't looking particularly festive as he trudges back down the stairs, an empty plate in hand suggesting he did, in fact, eat something, much though he was scarce down here. He's just in jeans, a pale blue sweater banded across the chest in a stripe of darker blue, thick grey socks on his feet. He hesitates at the threshhold of the kitchen with plate in hand, giving Matt at his cleanup a slight narrowing of eyes. His grip on his own plate tightens just-barely as he gives the room his consideration.
Matt looks up from the counter he's been wiping down. "Blessed Yule," he--doesn't quite chirp, but it's not far from it. Some of that cheer eases from him when his eyes light on where his brother's hand grips the plate. "I can take that," he offers, more softly. "Though there's more if you want more."
"Sun came back," Gaétan observes with a small flick of his eyes toward the window. He steps further into the room, though he doesn't relinquish his plate. "Yyyeah," is his reply to the question of more, "I think if the theatre stays closed past New Year we're gonna have to find another Tessier somewhere to adopt."
"It was looking dicey for a while there, but we rallied in the third period." Matt sets the towel aside and picks up a stack of glass containers--sausage and potato hash and biscuits--from the counter next to the refrigerator sets it within Gaétan's reach. "I can fry you some eggs, if you trust me that far at the stove. Oh and... " He taps one of the green and silver glass covered plates. "...there's still tartlets." After clicking on the burner beneath the kettle, he leans back against the counter. "Mm. Perhaps, though we have some work to do yet with the ones we have already got. A sibling for Flèche, now that's a different story."
Gaétan raises an eyebrow, his head shaking. "S'cool. I'm good." He's dishing himself out some more hash, absconding with it to tuck himself into the window bench. His lips purse in mild disapproval at the mention of a sibling for Flèche. He casts a skeptical look in Matt's direction before turning his attention to his food. "Seriously?"
Matt scrunches one eyebrow down and turns a thoughtful moue toward the ceiling. "Probably only slightly more serious than you were about finding us another sibling." He's helping himself to a pear tartlet and starts to cram it into his mouth but stops and fetches a dessert plate for it. "I've been taking her on more walks, which I realize is not overly impressive, but probably less jarring than the alternative when I've been derelict so long."
"Luci is going back to work eventually and you'd still have two dogs to walk." Gaétan pushes some of his potatoes around on the plate without really eating them. "So how long is this gonna last?" He's waggling his fork kind of generically at Matt.
"I'd walk them both," Matt replies equably, "as often as needed. Mind you, I'll do that for just Flèche, too." He opens the tea cabinet and pokes around. "Indefinitely." Perhaps he had, for just a moment, considered leaving it at that, but if so he clearly thinks better of it. "It's not that I think doing the bare minimum I ought to've been doing all along is enough. I've got a long way to go." He comes out with a tin of Earl Grey, glances over at Gaétan's plate, then exchanges it for one of their numerous Assams. "With all of you. Tea?"
Gaétan's eyes cut toward the tin, his brows furrowing briefly. His mouth purses as he drops his gaze back to his plate. Very briefly, there's a faint flutter of his power, just a small stirring that soon subsides. "S'cool, I'm good." His arm circles the plate as he spears his next mouthful of potatoes. "'All of us' include Sera?"
Matt goes on prepping the teapot, somewhat automatically--he's still making enough for two, and then some. "Yeah," this comes out heavier, though his expression remains placid. "That's...also been falling to Luci. I know perfectly well this isn't simple for any of us--you least of all, no?" He glances at the kettle, then back at his brother. "I don't even know where you two are with each other. Don't know where either of you are with just about anyone, these days." His next breath comes quicker, but he lets it out slow. "That's wholly on me, and I am sorry."
"We're fine. She's fine." This comes out casual enough, though Gaétan's shoulders have tightened, his head bowing further over his plate. He's gone back to moving his food around, fork chasing a potato from one edge of the plate to the other. There's a distinct pause before he asks: "What do you want me to do with that? With -- any of this?"
"Mmm." This comes out more noncommittal than skeptical as Matt studies his younger brother. "I'm glad you're been getting on fine," sounds genuine enough. "I want you to talk to me, if and when you feel able--" He breaks off shaking his head, crosses his arms and looks down at the floor. Tries again with, "I don't expect you to just forgive and forget and certainly don't expect you to break down weeping in my arms as you unburden to me your hopes and fears." His face briefly takes on a particular blankness that indicates he is suppressing some other (probably inappropriate) affect.
"Though of course you may do that, in the vanishingly unlikely event you should ever wish to." He lets out a shallow breath. "We're good at acting like everything is fine, but we can't fix what we won't admit is broken. I have no right to demand your trust that we can fix...us, but I'd like the benefit of the doubt--for me and for this family." He cants his head slightly, glancing around the more-or-less spotless kitchen. "...and maybe not preempting me on all the housework that Luci hasn't already preempted."
Gaétan's lips purse skeptically as Matt speaks. His eyes are focused more on his plate than his brother. He does, at least, spear his potato, one step closer perhaps to eating it. "We're not getting fixed." He sounds both confident and casual about this, finally shoveling the remainder of the food into his mouth. "You want my chores, though, have 'em." He leaves the plate where it is, dropping the fork to it with a clatter as he stands.
Matt nods slowly. "Maybe not." He also sounds casual, though not nearly so certain. "Thanks for listening, though." This is soft, measured, as he collects the plate, the fork, and the container of leftovers. "I've got a thing or two to learn from you in our...few-chores."
There's a small twitch at the corner of Gaétan's jaw, a small twitch at the corner of one eye. He exhales quick and sharp, not really a laugh. Not really a sigh. Not really anything. He shoves his hands in his pockets, eyes dropping heavily to the floor as he trudges back up to his room.