Posts tagged baby au
Posts tagged baby au
“Afternoon!” Alycia said brightly. “How are you guys enjoying retirement?”
“It’s been very relaxing,” Oliver said, and gave a hug when she came over for one. “It’s still amazing to wake up Monday morning and have nowhere to go. What about you, how’s the opening?”
“Hectic,” she admitted with a laugh. “But everyone seems to be enjoying the menu.” The smile got a bit wider when she was given a look. “Well, here’s the lunch and dinner menue. Feel free to order whatever you like.”
Jean took it up, critically. “Alright, thank you.”
“I’ll just give you guys some time.” She headed off to more agreeable patrons.
The new menus had a homey script printed on butcher paper. Each applicable entry had a beer neatly printed under it, which corresponded to a key on the liquor menu that listed breweries and awards.
It was clean and fitting, as he’d been taught. When he couldn’t find anything printed to point out, he ordered a meal so large and diverse that it made Oliver’s vegetarian penne look downright anorexic in comparison. Oliver quickly canceled his own, but insisted the beers be served in significantly less than the pints they would normally give. Alycia kept the smile she’d perfected over a decade of difficult customers, and hurried off to the kitchen.
“Are you honestly going to…”
“He deserves an honest review from us, doesn’t he?” Jean replied, coolly. “I won’t be as harsh as the critics, I guarantee you.”
Oliver’s brow raised in a sign of resignation. It wasn’t far from the truth, even if Jean was going to do his best to match what the papers could put out, and he waited for their table to be covered in appetizers. He continued to stay quiet as Jean tasted individual components, combined for balanced bites, and took sips of the correct beer at a pre-determined time. When he finished with one, he’d move onto the next.
And, as the staff looked on nervously, he eventually returned to the first and continued eating.
“So, how is it?” Oliver asked when he finally was allowed to dig into the appetizer he’d been eyeing.
“Hm,” Jean replied, and picked through that course as he would the ones that would follow.
Joel only wandered from the kitchen when business had begun to die down, but mostly after his parents had a chance to get through to dessert. Even then, he sat down with only a guise of ease.
“What’d you think of my travesty?” Joel asked, purposely in his best French.
Jean took a moment to wash down the cake he slowly made his way through. “I suppose it can be forgiven.” He worked a forkful off another plate. “This time.”
“Hey, Joel?” Alycia said as she came into the kitchen. As a full partner, and head of the front of house, she would have been justified in not using titles. Really, though, she chose to ignore it because they’d played together far too many times as children to be hung up on things like that.
“Yeah?” Joel, likewise, didn’t look up from his work filling a multitude of tickets.
“Your parents are here. Table 12.” She smirked at him as she turned to leave. “He’s still the same old Chef, so don’t disappoint him.”
Joel’s takeover of the restaurant had been quiet, despite the fact it’d been thoroughly anticipated. He kept the same menu and standards as his father as he slowly worked at building a menu of his own. At least that’s what he told everyone.
Nobody for a second believed he didn’t have a menu, or at least all the components of one. He had too much of his father in him not to have notebooks full of recipes and flavor combinations. He needed that time for something else, though nobody was quite sure what.
It wasn’t until he bought ad space that he let the world know the time had been spent talking to vendors. He was going to build his menu, at least a large chunk of his menu, around being paired with locally brewed beers. Joel had known that Jean, who viewed beer as something for after work and in no way related to fine dining, would be less than happy with the selection. He’d be even less so when he saw that there were indeed items like burgers placed onto the lunch menu, and refined but distinctly comfort feel to the dinner one.
It was inevitable he’d come, not to support but to judge, and Joel had to bear with it. “Make sure they get both menus, alright?”
She left for the dining room, and Joel couldn’t have been more relieved that she was the one handling their table. Alycia’s position hadn’t been granted by birthright so much as for her incredible ability to diffuse even the most irate patron.
She was sure to need all her skills to take care of whatever was out there, and he hoped she could before he had to greet them as well.
Jean put the lifestyle section down, and likewise pushed away from the table, more roughly than necessary. Oliver looked up from the business section as Jean began to dig through the cabinets.
“Where did the checkbook go? It’s always here!” he demanded.
“Took it for balancing,” Oliver replied, gently. “What are you…?”
“I’m buying my restaurant back,” Jean snapped as he headed off to the office.
“No you aren’t!” Oliver called after him as he took up the paper. He read over the half page ad with a quirked brow. “So he’s finally ready to premiere the new menu…”
“And it’s dragging down my legacy, my family’s legacy! I’m not going to let him…”
“How about we at least have a meal there before you declare it a total loss,” he said, sternly. “Now come eat your breakfast. You know how much you hate cold eggs.”
Jean came back to the table with the checkbook gripped firmly in hand, and plopped back into his seat. “You’d better not stop payment when I write it.”
“When have I ever done something like that?” he asked with a smile. Oliver ignored the glare he was shot and returned to the stock reports.
It was easily Ilan’s longest timeout. Every other time, he’d been apologetic within a few minutes so he could get back to his toys. This pout only grew deeper the longer he was forced to sit in the armchair.
“You can get out as soon as you tell me,” Jean said, as he dug through the kitchen cabinets.
“No!” Ilan shouted back from the living room. Angry tears began to threaten to pour down his cheeks.
Fred was going on a sleepover. She was going to spend the night with other kittens, and she’d be home by the dinner the next day (though she might still be sleepy from all the playing). That’s how Oliver had explained it, or at least how he’d thought he’d explained it. Ilan had evidently heard nothing but that his bedmate wouldn’t be around, and that just couldn’t stand.
By the time Jean was ready to crate her up, Fred was nowhere to be found. Ilan wasn’t much of a liar, but he didn’t even try that time. He said ‘she doesn’t want to go’ and left it there, even when he was sentenced to the timeout chair.
They risked being late, and Jean turned to Ilan’s room as he figured he probably should have done to begin with. There was a quick glance to the hamper and the bookshelves, where Fred could often be found but certainly not secured, before he moved on.
Fred was thoroughly Ilan’s, as much as Schrodinger was definitively Oliver’s. She had patience for him well beyond her years, and she must have used every bit of it to agree to be locked up in the toy chest. She’d just curled up between a giraffe and stegosaurus, and mewed irritably when her nap was interrupted.
Ilan sulk deepened as Jean brought her out and put her into the carrier.
Oliver, stuck in the early bits of the twilight stage, lifted his head when Jean came into the bedroom after work. Ilan was curled up with Carlton, and as they’d come to expect from him didn’t wake up a bit when his Papa came in.
“What happened to ‘letting him sleep with us will spoil him rotten’?” he asked as he changed for the night.
“He tried sleeping with Schrodinger instead,” Oliver said. “It didn’t go well.” He pulled the covers up a bit more.
“One night shouldn’t hurt anything; his buddy will be back tomorrow.” Jean fitted into bed, and smoothed Ilan’s hair when he whined a bit. “If a bit lighter.”
Ilan had managed to calm down, rather quickly for an infant even if it was excruciating for everyone else. On occasion he’d whimper, but for the most part he was far more concerned with his toy workbench.
Jean took significantly longer, and continued to scowl into his beer. Oliver watched him from around the mass of orange fur he hugged to his chest.
“He’s getting better, looks like…” he said, hesitantly.
“He shouldn’t need to be ‘getting better’,” Jean growled. “If your damned cat hadn’t…”
“You know how he is about that ball!” Oliver began.
“So you’re going to defend him when your son is still in pain?”
Oliver buried his face a bit deeper into Schrodinger’s fur. “No, but…!”
“There’s no ‘buts’. He’s always been a bastard with weapons, just now he’s decided to use them against the one family member who can’t fight him off.” He took an angry swig of his beer. “I’m making an appointment.”
“But that’s mutilation!”
“And that isn’t?” Jean snapped, and motioned to the still-raw marks across Ilan’s face. “It’s a cat, Oliver. Your son’s welfare is more important that…”
“I know that, but I’m not about to cripple him!”
“Then he’ll go to the shelter,” Jean said plainly. “Your choice.”
“No, just…” Oliver panicked a bit as he thought. “I heard about something, it’s a good middle ground.” With Schrodinger still held protectively, Oliver rushed off to find his lap to. He brought it back, and presented a website cautiously. “What about this?”
Jean red it over, but finally nodded. “We’ll at least try it.”
Oliver stuck, not particularly happily, to the finances for the report due the next day. Jean, in the kitchen, hummed as he experimented for the weekly special. Ilan, in the living room, went about the important business of chewing on Carlton as Elmo taught him the letter B.
Schrodinger watched all of them from the top of the bookshelf, and irritably licked at his paws. He’d woken up from a catnip-induced stupor to find them feeling off, somehow. They didn’t particularly hurt, but something was wrong.
Jean spoke far too happily about something called ‘nail caps’, though. It’d probably be safe to blame him for everything.
“We’ll send him back to his old school,” Oliver said over lunch. “We’ll get him a few tutors, and then he’ll be ready for college, finally.”
“I don’t know if he’s the college type,” Jean warned. “He’s always liked using his hands more, and…”
“He’s going to college,” he snapped. “And besides, he’s never been a bad student. Just a lazy one.” He took an irritable sip from his tea. “He’s getting too old to keep playing around.”
“It was a legitimate career…”
“No it wasn’t. How many dancers and actors have you seen stuck as waiters their whole lives, barely making rent because they want to go for auditions they probably won’t be picked for? Do you want that for him?”
Jean sighed. “No, of course not, but…”
“I know you liked the idea of it,” Oliver said, more gently. “But for Ilan’s sake, we need to show him it has to be given up. There’s plenty of majors I’m sure he’d enjoy.”
Jean’s reply was interrupted by the door bell. He left the table for the door, to find Ralph and Owen on the front porch. The look between the two of them showed far more mature concern than Jean had assumed them capable of.
“Is Ilan okay?” Owen asked, hesitantly. “We’ve called a few times, and he hasn’t answered….”
“He’s up in his room,” Jean said, and smiled a bit. “It actually might be best if he talked with you two.”
“Hold off a minute, though,” Oliver called from the kitchen, his cellphone pressed to his ear. “It’d be best if we send you up with some pizza. Make him eat as much as you can.”
Oliver’s apartment was luxurious for a student, and the envy of his friends. It had a wood floor, and porch large enough to take meals on. To anyone outside of the college life, though, it was far from anything to brag about. Aside from the TV (which had been a graduation gift) and laptop (one of the first purchases off substantial student loans), everything within the apartment was between second and fourth hand. Drawers hung crooked, and holes were hastily patched (if patched at all). The coveted wood floors creaked, and the porch meals needed to be balanced in someone’s lap.
The worst of it was doubtlessly the appliances, which should have been retired ages ago. They groaned furiously every time they were asked to do what they’d been designed for. When Jean had first come into the apartment, the ice maker was in a full-blown fit.
Oliver shot it an irritable look, and then smiled apologetically to his date. “I’ve asked them to look at that…” he muttered.
“I don’t mind,” Jean said as he did his shoes. “We won’t hear it much longer, anyway.”
Oliver smirked, and tugged Jean off in the direction of the bedroom.
Out of the corner of Jean’s eye, he was sure he saw something staring back at him from around the battered couch. He ignored it, then, far too preoccupied. The next morning he focused on cooking up an impressive, if quick, breakfast before they both had to leave. He forgot to see if whatever had been there the night before had come back.
When Jean came to the apartment with a suitcase, the ice maker was as angry as ever.
“We’re getting that fixed, or an ice tray, if I’m supposed to live here,” Jean said as he dragged his bags inside.
“You get used to it,” Oliver replied. He came in, slow from how heavy the box he carried was.
“I don’t really want to have to get used to more than I absolutely need to,” Jean said. “There’s enough as is.”
The first cat he was ever to live with watched them from the couch. His tail twitched, confused and curious about what all the commotion was. He seemed to scowl, sure that no matter what they were doing it wouldn’t be good for him.
“Cats don’t need to be adjusted to,” Oliver insisted. He began the steady replacement of his consignment shop pots and pans for ones of higher quality, but just as much wear. “You groom and feed them, and they take care of themselves beside that. And I’ll be taking care of both of those, so you just scratch him every so often.”
Jean agreed. If nothing else, he figured, he’d hardly be around between work and school.
The two had settled in rather quickly, though nowhere near to the level that Oliver beamed about. They’d both simply realized, rather early on, that Oliver cared about them both considerably. And, even if they couldn’t figure out why, they knew that he’d be very upset if one were to be chased out of the house. If that were even possible.
They stayed at their opposite ends of the couch, and made sure as much as they could that Oliver’s attention was divided evenly.
The man who’d come to them that afternoon stirred cream into his coffee with calm, spider-like fingers. In a tone of practiced sympathy, he told them exactly how tall a dancer needed to be in order to be hired. He explained the restrictions, and the level of talent needed to overcome such a handicap.
The voice dipped down, apologetically, when he said Ilan hadn’t met those requirements. He wouldn’t be invited back to the dance academy come the fall.
Oliver did all the talking, concerned more with the financial aspect when it became clear there could be no negotiation. Ilan had gone numb, and stared blankly into space. The man did his best to give Ilan his condolences before he shook Oliver’s hand and headed out.
Joel, who’d spent the entire meeting around the corner, ducked out of sight as Ilan stood and headed his way. He winced, sure he’d get the normal punch in the arm for eavesdropping. Instead, he watched Ilan trudge past and head up to his room.
He didn’t come down for supper, even though Jean had taken off early to be home for him. Ilan also didn’t head down for breakfast, and at lunchtime the tray of food he’d been brought was still untouched.
Unable to get him to take a bite or a look over his shoulder, Oliver smoothed Ilan’s hair and left him to sort himself out in bed.
With the approach of midterms, Oliver had entered into a self-imposed moratorium on meeting with his friends. It’d taken only one refusal to so much as get some lunch for them to get the hint, and they begrudgingly agreed to see him after things were finished.
Oliver wouldn’t leave the apartment for more than it took to attend class. Dirty laundry and delivery containers that he swore he’d take care of once he was done testing lay about in the best semblance of order he was still capable of. His notes and books were far less neat than the garbage, and took up most the floor.
He looked over, exhausted, as he heard papers crinkle up. “Schrodinger…”
The kitten, though hardly the size of a kitten any more, continued to stroll defiantly over the note cards that cluttered the wood floor. To be fair to him, Oliver admitted to himself begrudgingly, there wasn’t any other option.
Schrodinger ignored everything he was told, as he usually did, and curled up in Oliver’s lap.
He rubbed his eyes and, with last of his concentration broken, looked at the mess which had become of his life. He scratched his cat’s ears, and figured that maybe a few minutes of break wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
There was nothing a microwave could do that proper double-boiling or baking couldn’t do better, and Jean hated the fact one had been grandfathered into his kitchen. He hated even more that Joel was set to use it; as Oliver was too scared to let such a young child loose with a stove, and Ilan was often home too late to help his brother.
It was easier to grumble and make plenty of leftovers than to drive a grade schooler to the ER, though, so he’d put up with it. As Joel grew older, though, and bold enough to make suggestions on the grocery list, Jean’s patience had run out.
Joel came home from school one day to find a recipe card on the counter, and groaned tragically. There was no option but to set to work, because his papa would drag him out of bed if there wasn’t food to check when he got home from the restaurant.
Within a few minutes, he was elbow-deep in an over-complicated mess. There was sausage to grind, and tomatoes to roast. He had to go clip herbs from the garden before he rolled out fresh dough. It was only thanks to not having the capacity to make his own cheese that allowed him to only grate the Romano into the mix.
There was a pile of dishes in the sink by the time Joel heated the oil up to proper temperature and exhaustedly dropped his results into the pot. When they were golden brown, he poured himself some of the marinara and sat down.
Seemingly (very possibly, Joel figured) to avoid helping, Ilan came in for a visit from college as the last dish went into the drying rack. He took a quick look at the dishes used and sniffed the air. “You asked him for pizza rolls?”
Joel grumbled. “He decided it’d be best if they were both more expensive and less convenient.”
“Take my advice, don’t accidentally come home with a Pop Tart. He will figure out a way to force you to make that.” He popped one of the leftover rolls in his mouth.
“I think he just wants to eat this stuff, and can’t bear to buy a pack.”
“Don’t ever let him hear you say that,” Ilan warned. “Bet he’s got a Twinkie recipe stashed somewhere.”
“Please don’t say that,” Joel moaned. “I put those on the grocery list, too.”