Closed Gray Areas (Matthew)

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Nathaniel Ankah on June 25th, 2014, 12:17 am

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Well, that was sooner than expected...

Busy as he appeared with the dishes and the leftovers and the eager pooch at his side, Nate's ears were pricked like a cat's as the Kay and Matthew talked. He had a habit of keeping an ear and either eye on any guest in their house; Jorka seemed to do the same. Not that he was expecting anything physical trouble from Matthew, but...

"Oh, for..."

The cut-off curse had no effect on Kay, of course. She plowed on and with all sincerity queried about Matthew's rates. Thirty gold-rimmed? A count's ransom down in Sunset, but what about if Nate wanted to find himself a nice length of-

"Oh, please, my fucking sides," he said without any pain but a hefty dollop of sarcasm in his voice, hoping it would be enough to signal Matthew now to honestly answer the mad old lady's questions. "Ignore her, Matt. Gets a few glasses in her and she forgets to be nice."

Took him some effort, too. Big Davey had worked his sides like a human beef tenderizer that night. Even touching them in pantomime was like pressing a poker into his ribcage.

"Ah, and you're the expert, are we?"

Nate turned sharply, but saw no malice in her eyes. There could have been, so easily. All he had done, all he had been guilty of and carried out not only with no reason but grinning enthusiasm... oh, yes. She was right on that point, but... she never bought it up. She needled him and she groused and sometimes, in her bad moments, she cursed him.

But she never judged him in a way that mattered. She looked on him with fondness over the rim of her cup, toasting him with a cocked eyebrow...

Fuck. How was he meant to stay mad at that?

"Alright," he said in a voice near a huff, "Nearly time for bed, love."

"Hark at 'im, Matthew?! We get some company and suddenly the boy is telling the grown up when beddy-byes is."

Nate knew getting red-faced and offended wouldn't solve this, so he took a page from her book. "You've been working hard all afternoon cooking, you had a spell earlier-"

"Nathaniel?!"

"Well, you did, and Matt probably worked that out for himself, so... yes, now you are head to bed. It's near the witching hour as it is."

"What about dessert?"

Nate's eyes narrowed. Intractable, this one... but he couldn't disappoint her. The meal wasn't complete in her eyes without the rough pastries she'd tried hard to made delicious, as fancified as she was sure Matthew was used to.

She tried so har. Nate spent a fractured tick marveling at just how in awe of this woman he was, then shook his head with a smile.

"Urgh... fine. The buns, and then sleep. Deal?"

"Sold, to the man with the fresh bruises!"

Nate grinned wide and several teeth waggled. Fucking Davey. But by the time he was wincing in pain, he'd turned his back and opened the oven, carefully withdrawing the baking tray with plump, rounds, golden bums, topped with icing she'd had to spend a little more on, just for them.

"Always the sod-"

"Nate?!"

"... flipping comedian..."

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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on July 7th, 2014, 6:55 pm

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Matthew had an incredibly hard time following along with their banter due to the thick accents, but he found that if he focused the general idea kind of revealed itself to him. It was certainly a unique way of talking and he was determined to remember it and somehow puzzle it out later. Would his limited exposure to it allow him to fully reconstruct it out of memory alone? It could come in handy at some point, he thought. He focused as hard as he could on the conversation and let the words flow through him, picking out the interesting ones and noting them down for later exploration. It was probably a simple conversation to most but Matthew found it incredibly interesting. There was sarcasm, teasing, kindness, warmth, irritation... quite a wide variety of emotions displayed in just a few sentences.

Something about Nate's last grin drew Matthew's attention, sharp blue eyes suddenly refocusing and turning abruptly towards the Sunberthian brute. Had his teeth moved? He wasn't sure, Nate was moving his head too quickly and then had turned it off to the side to grab buns from the oven. Their smell hit his nose and he wrinkled it, though not in distaste. He was merely studying, much like he did with everything else.

Cinnamon, sugar, some sort of... bread smell. Which made sense, it was bread. What else? Milk, perhaps? It was the only thing he could think of that would give the icing that color. Egg whites were transparent (which made him wonder about their name), sugar was transparent... but then there was powdered sugar, so that could have made it white if it was mixed with water. Hm.

He would have offered to help Nate with the buns but quickly realized that would end with him favoring some very burnt hands. Instead he just politely waited, turning to engage Kay in a bit of menial conversation while they waited. He would take his time with the bun since the old woman seemed to be enjoying his company so much. Normally he was antsy with a crowd, but these two weren't all that much of a crowd persay. Kay had seemed to pick up on his quiet nature and didn't really demand too much interaction from him either, which was a very nice touch.
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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Nathaniel Ankah on July 9th, 2014, 10:45 pm

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[googlefont=Exo]Nate didn't need to pretend to enjoy dessert, and not just because he was warming to Matthew's polite if owlish company. She was an infuriatingly good cook, and that's the right term for it.

Nothing was ever measured. Everything was handfuls of this, pinches or punches of that, dabs of this. Unless she was unsure, in which case the pot or dish would get her best Suspicious Stare... and then get treated to a double shot of whatever she thought was lacking. Fine, make it a triple.

Chaos in action, and like a tornado whipping together a watch at your feet, she always excelled. Nate felt like a little boy again, reveling in the warm, soft bread with its subtle sweetness, and the sinfully sugary icing on top. He resisted the urge to eat the bun around the icing for starters, saving the whole head of gut-enabling-deliciousness for the very last.

"A triumf, K'."

"Nate! Manners!"

Nate rolled his eyes and swallowed everything down before continuing, big hand eclipsing hers again in a quick pat. "A triumph."

"So you always so."

"So it always is. Would I lie to you?"

There was that stare again. Nate grinned impishly and winked, pecking her on the cheek as he got to his feet... but he stayed looming over the table.

"I believe we had a deal?"

"Oh, fine, slave-driving whippersnapper..."

Between her stubborn hands and his faster ones, Kay soon had her crutches under her and leaned on one of them to clasp Matthew's hands together in her own. Brown eyes that danced and brooked no cruelty for any - and how many had mistaken that for weakness? - regarded Matthew with a smile that seemed to chase the shadows from the room.

"You'll come to see us again, of course."

Nate tucked his chin to hide his smile. Not even the suggestion of a question at the end of the sentence; Kay had decided the nice young rent boy would see them again, so he would. Syna would rise, water would be wet, Matthew would choke down sticky buns. End of.

He waited for Matthew to say his own goodbyes and put his "mother" to bed, with all the care of a son who didn't need the quotation marks. He led her to her room and gave her some privacy to undress, never rushing her by fidgeting or sighing. Once she was in her gown he helped her battered, scarred legs up and over, under the blankets... and wrapped them over her.

It was their routine, every night. The mundane, the warm and familiar... and the other part of it.

"With you didn't have to do this, son," she whispered, holding his hand and not letting go, smile of apology on her face that nearly ripped his heart in two, "Have to take care of an old lady-"

"You're not 'an old lady'." Nate said firmly, remembering he still had a guests and not wanting to walk back in with ashen face and wet eyes. "You're my girl."

"Aye... aye, I suppose..."

"Suppose, bollocks, love." Nate said as he kissed her forehead. "Sleep in peace-"

"-and wake to strength."

She finished it for him, an old Sunberth saying. Nate made his way back to the kitchen and only when he was out of earshot did he allow a long, deep sigh to wheeze out of him. Matthew was still there, blinking steadily, indefatigably, like he was some invisible observer to all this. Nate rifled through the stand next to his table... came up with a little pouch and a worn wooden pipe.

"So," he said after he'd sat back down, low tones those of a man talking to a man, not a man talking at the table, "Aside from what you said... how'd you know I'd been fighting?"

A match flared over the herb-packed bowl. There was a tiny supernova of a glow but Nate's eyes didn't dim, nor did they turn from Matthew's face./googlefont]

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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Matthew on July 28th, 2014, 7:59 pm

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Matthew was once again a sharp contrast to Nate, someone who seemed to be utterly filled with delightful life. While Nate was a bundle of noises and soft words, face displaying plenty of emotion and lips seemingly enjoying the tasty treat that Kay had given them. The Harlot displayed none of this, eating his own dessert with a polite look on his face and all the personality of one of Sahova's golems. It wasn't that it didn't taste good, it actually tasted excellent. Matthew was just someone who had never found that much pleasure in food. He had recently begun to wonder if that was something that would get in the way of what cooking skills he eventually wanted to learn. With that in mind, his brow furrowed and he made doubly sure to focus on what it was he was chewing. He tried to pick out flavors and textures, chewing slowly and savoring every last bite. Most of the ingredients were something he could name, though he wasn't exactly sure of the science that was required to make the actual bun.

There was something else there though, some sort of very faint taste that reminded him of something he didn't like at all. Had the woman added some sort of alcohol to the bun? He paused midway through, giving it a slightly suspicious stare before he was distracted by Nate and Kay getting into some of their trademark interactions.

Manners? Ah, speaking with his mouth full. It was surprising to find someone else in Sunberth who knew of table manners. While someone with a lack of manners didn't bother Matthew at all, any lack of manners on his own part was definitely an annoyance.

Then Kay was up, crutches and all, grabbing Matthew's hands and giving him a brilliant smile and a few choice words. The Harlot parted his lush lips to reply, then paused for a moment as he suddenly realized that Kay had phrased her question in a very specific sort of way. She wasn't leaving him any room for argument. He cleared his throat and then nodded slowly, his reply quite polite. "Yes, of course. I'd be delighted. Sleep well." He gave a little wave and then stood, finishing the last bits of his bun. While Nate put her to bed, Matthew focused on cleaning the table. All of the dirty dishes were gathered up and then brought back into the kitchen, a basin of water was found and then used to make sure each of the dishes were as clean as they could possibly get. He worked quickly and effectively, ordering them in neat little rows to dry at the side and then going back to the table to wait for Nate to reappear.

The massive mountain of a man soon did, fixing glowing eyes upon the Harlot while he lit his pipe. Matthew blinked at the question and then tilted his head, eyes not wavering. "The fresh sweat whenever you came in was the main clue. Some of your minor wounds also looked rather fresh and there was a slight sheen to your weapon, as if it was damp because of a recent rinse. However, I didn't really know. Not until you reacted the way you did during the spar. Does that make sense?" He paused and then lifted his hands up, sensing the need to provide an example. "My hands are wet. Explain why."

The most logical thought would probably be that Matthew had just rinsed his hands. They had just eaten and the buns had been sticky, no doubt they had gotten a bit of a mess on his fingers. However, Nate hadn't been in the room when Matthew had taken the dishes for a wash. The real clue was the fact that the dishes were missing, which would then lead to the actual most logical conclusion.
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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Nathaniel Ankah on August 1st, 2014, 4:07 am

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Nate cocked an eyebrow, seeing that he was being tested and impressed that the stranger would take such a liberty. He'd known smart, slick boys like him bashed for presuming as much from a Sunset lad like him.

Then again, Nate would wager most of them wouldn't have waited for that lengthy, concise explanation. His frown had deepened as Matthew talked, equal parts amazed and self-critical that he'd given himself away so... well, was it easy? Matthew was hardly your average Sunberthian.

Observation. And that d-word... deduction? Yes. You see what everyone else sees, and filter out all the garbage from what matters.

He glanced at the presented hands, a sheen of moisture over the slightly-reddened palms. Recently washed. Nate opened his mouth to speak... but...

Careful. He watched and thought before he worked things out.

He thought of the main room when he came back in from Kay's bedroom. Something odd, out of place... no, not a thing, a task... clearing the table. Another part of his nightly routine, but it hadn't been necessary. Why?

Because someone else took them. Someone that wasn't Kay.

"You washed them." Nate winced inwardly, realizing he'd blurted out the words rather than the answer. "The dishes, I mean. You took them off the table an' washed 'em. Now your hands are wet."

He licked his lips, tasting the remnants of stew and buns and the fresh tang of Taloba Grey on them, studying the harlot carefully. This was a game he was unused to: exercising his mind as much as he was, in this... singular activity. Nate's eyes were trained to spot dangers, threats, ambush points, exits, avenues of attack, defence, retreat, deception... but this was something new. He cracked his sore knuckles and grunted as he did so, looking the man up and down... before smiling softly.

"Take the Eastern Avenue next time you come down this way. Away from the cattle market." His eyes flickered up from Matthew's shoes and he winked. "How'd I know that?"

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Gray Areas (Matthew)

Postby Amora Jade on April 3rd, 2015, 2:59 am

Congratulations, you've been awarded!

 
Nathaniel
Please update your ledger to reflect the season change, then send me a pm with a link to this thread and I'll release your grade for you. :)
 
Matthew
Skills
  • Cooking +4
  • Strategy +1
  • Auristics +2
  • Rhetoric +3
  • Teaching +1
  • Unarmed Combat +5
  • Acrobatics +1
  • Endurance +3
Lores
  • Nate: Sweaty Friend of Kay's
  • Cooking: Minor Alterations to an Existing Recipe
  • Auristics: Seeing a Soup's Aura
  • Acrobatics: Preventing Injury with a Twist


If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to send me a private message! Also, please remember to edit your post requesting the grade as "Graded."
With love,
Miss Jade
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