How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat? (private)
Dinner at the Emilianos was always a unique affair, with four (five, with the Jiro) occasionally conflicting and always individual tastes to see to. Octavia wouldn't eat cooked meat and Loretta honestly didn't care for it either. The men, though, would probably want the option and might enjoy what the Americans (of which she was supposedly one, now, she must remember) called 'sides'.
At least everyone could tolerate eating out of doors - Loretta would have gone stir crazy with all those people crammed in around a conventional table. And bless Tobi for not caring either way - indoors, outdoors, raw, cooked, it was all the same to him, or so he claimed. Such a good son, so easy to get along with.
Walking out into the courtyard, she stepped onto the raised terrace and took a final look at the arrangements. A round brazier stood in the center, where those who were so inclined could cook their food, and cushions were scattered around it. Plates were set on three low, round tables arranged around the fire. Covered bowls of steamed rice and plates of salmon steaks rested on each table, with a bowl of Asian salad in the center. Bamboo curtains blocked out the wind. No one would mind the slight chill; it was by no means extreme and the fire would serve to warm them up.
Wanting to add a finishing touch, she neatly added a small centerpiece to each table, pushing the bowls of salad slightly to one side to make room. Simple ferns and wildflowers tied with flat ribbon, but the look was, Loretta thought, a pleasing one.
Sighing, he stood up and made his way back to the hospital. Coming to his and Etta's private floor, he went to his room and divested the rest of the monkey suit for something more comfortable. The faded jeans and black tee shirt felt so much better that Vaughn felt his mood brighten considerably. He was almost looking forward to socializing with his family.
Making his way to the outdoor eating area that his wife had set up, he could smell the small fire that was burning before opening the door. He stood for a moment in the entrance way and watched Etta as she finished the last of her preparations. She was so precise, a trait that he had not noticed until long after they were married. It made him smile a bit sadly and he pushed his thoughts aside before they soured his good mood.
Walking over to Loretta, he slid an arm around her waist and gave her a light kiss on the cheek.
"It looks delicious."Â?
Vaughn stepped back and took in the view from their courtyard,filling his lungs with the cool night air.
“I attempted to move beyond ‘satisfactory’,” she said in response to his compliment, without a trace of a smile. In spite of her dry reply and unyielding figure, though, she was both flattered and a little thrown by the Sarkis’s affection. He was so difficult to understand.
“The children will be here soon; they’ll be bringing the wine.”
That would go nicely with the meal and perhaps it would, for some people, render the evening a bit more bearable.
Without noticing it, she had curved herself to fit Vaughn’s embrace and was flush against him. She sighed and pulled away, turning back to go in the house.
Feeling some odd need to explain her strained mood, she paused on her way inside and turned back to her husband.
“Thanos will be joining us.”
She looked back to the settings, feeling a moment of smug satisfaction at the idea of the Jiro being the odd man out. Then it occurred to her that her husband might prefer to share a table with Thanos rather than her; she felt a sick wave of disgusted jealousy at that and turned abruptly into the house without another word.
She gave her brother one last scowl before entering their parent's private floor. The dinner would be set up outside and Tavi wasted no time in moving towards the doors. There was no reason to start the evening off with an argument about the two of them being late....all her fault, of course.
Opening the doors to the courtyard area, she could see her father looking off into the distance. There were many times when she wondered just what it was he thought about in those moments. Octavia set the wine bottle down on the table and then walked over to stand quietly next to him.
If there was one person in the world who could bring her to speechlessness it was Vaughn Emiliano, enigmatic Sarkis of the Vyusher R'asa, her father.
Well, screw it. Why everyone couldn’t just shut up and eat their food at these things he had no idea. Still, he trudged along after his twin and hoped, in his own indifferent way, for the best.
Tavi was carrying the wine, mostly because she’d picked it out and Tobi thought it might be good if she got credit for it. If it were up to him they’d all be drinking Boon’s Farm or T-Bird out of brown paper bags; he was neither picky nor particularly classy.
They made their way out to the patio, where his father was standing – he waved and muttered a ‘hey, pops,’ that he didn’t think Vaughn heard. His mother was nowhere in sight. Dad and Tavi seemed content to just stand around looking at the trees (or so he assumed) but Tobi was antsy within moments. Would it be totally rude to check his email? Probably, he guessed; still, he had his PDA with him just in case there was a slow moment. Heh, a slow moment at the Emilianos – not bloody likely, but it could and did happen occasionally - usually when mom was out of the room.
After another second of standing around, he flopped down on a cushion by the little table he’d share with Tavi (unless she decided to sit with Thanos) and pulled out his Palm, quite easily giving in to temptation in the end.
They had parted seemingly of mutual accord. Vaughn could feel her behind him as he took in the scenery below. She was like the last ray of sunshine warming his back and as she moved further away Etta took that warmth with her.
The Jiro's arrival suggested the reason for her mood but also explained the extra effort she was going through to make dinner a perfect scene of R'asa family life. She disliked Thanos and never seemed to fully approve of the idea of the Nothos as the Jiro. It had taken many long nights of discussion to convince her that the man, despite his less than auspicious birth, was the best person for the position. Sometimes he thought it was a miracle that she had agreed at all. Yet the two did manage to work together far better than Vaughn would have expected. Tonight though would be a display of all the things that Thanos did not have, a family, a wife, and a set place in the order of things. Vaughn felt pity for his friend and hoped that Nachton would bring good things for the Jiro; perhaps the stability of location would help him settle down and find someone to start a family with.
His own family made an appearance. The door opened and he heard someone approach, Tavi by the lighter step. Tobi gave him a greeting that would be considered disrespectful in most households of the R'asa but he knew that his son meant it in his own light hearted way. He did not turn around immediately when Tavi came to stand beside him, enjoying the peace of the moment. In a perfect world he could be the father she deserved and in a perfect world she would be the daughter that he always wanted.
Turning around, he took in both of the children. His son had gone back to one of his pieces of technology and was absorbed into whatever fascinating bit of drivel could be mined from the thing. Vaughn sighed and smiled at Tavi.
"I am sure Thanos will be here shortly and then we may sit down to eat."Â?
She heard the door open and paused with her hand halfway to her head, listening. The children were here, then. Frowning, she wondered if Tobi would seek her out. When he was younger he would come straight to her, nevermind if she was getting ready or terribly busy, but she didn't mind his company while she fixed her hair and picked out her clothes. He didn't come, though. Since his andre he had grown more distant, too old to sit on his mother's bed and watch in fascination while she combed her hair and spoke of inconsequentials. He clung to Octavia now. This disturbed her - her son needed a wife, not a sister. Not Octavia.
Of course, he would always need his mother.
Sighing, she jabbed the pin into her hair and left the bedroom, walking out onto the patio and smiling effortlessly. Tobi was fooling with his little computer, but looked up when she stepped through the sliding glass door. She bent over and gave him a little motherly kiss on the forehead before turning to her husband and Octavia.
"Octavia. Don't you look...vivid." She concluded with an absent smile, beyond wondering why Tavi insisted on coloring her hair so loudly. Not everyone could be a natural beauty and compensating with garish hair colors seemed an exercise in futility, but arguing about it was, she had discovered, equally futile. That didn't mean she could let it pass without saying anything though.
He spoke about Thanos coming and then they could all eat as if that news was so important that it usurped the need for greetings. Perhaps her father was as thrilled to be spending time with his family as she was. All of that was his own fault as far as she was concerned. They raised her to be this way and if they didn't like it then too damn bad. Tavi answered with a sulky apathetic shrug despite looking forward to seeing Thanos.
She was about to go sit next to her brother when her mother came in. Loretta always looked so put together, perfect. Tavi had this vision of her being a house wife in the 50's doing the daily chores while wearing a dress and pearls. The idea was ridiculous for more than one reason and she had to fight back a snort of laughter at her own inward humor.
It burst forth in as something caught between a laugh and a cough when her mother pronounced her appearance as 'vivid'. Why, yes, Mrs Cleaver, I suppose you find it very shocking. That she was a disappointment to Loretta as well as Vaughn was a fact that she rarely escaped from.
Tavi gave her mother the biggest widest fake smile that she could manage and said with sugary sweetness.
"Why, thank you, I do try."Â?
Done with the family banter for the moment, she trudged over to where her brother was sitting and flopped down next to Tobi.
He wished he had stayed plugged in, though, when mom made her little snippy remark to Tavi. Geez, were they starting already? Eh, maybe not – Tavi wasn’t feeding her like she sometimes did and had apparently brought her sense of humor tonight. That was good – he wasn’t much for keeping the peace and generally just tried to tune out the arguments. What did dad do? Tobi gave a mental shrug at that thought – who knew what was going through the Sarkis’s head? Instead of brooding about it any more, he scooted over a little so he wasn’t taking up all of Tavi’s leg room.
“Hey, check out the wine,” he said, in a half hearted effort to steer the conversation toward the positive. Of course, he was guessing they were all hosed if Thanos turned out to be late - then mom would be pissed and Tavi would be tense and dad...well he would still be dad, there was that at least.
He gave Etta a hard look at her comment towards Octavia but refrained from comment. Their daughter was perfectly capable of returning the verbal slings and arrows that his wife threw. It was perhaps one thing that they could claim their parenthood had brought her.
Taking a seat on one of the cushions with a space for his wife on one side and the Jiro on the other, Vaughn turned his attention to the wine that his son pointed out. It was a particularly excellent red wine and one that he personally preferred. His gaze lifted to Tavi; he knew she was responsible for choosing it.
“Yes, you certainly do.”
Everyone in the family was here now, and the children were settled – as far as Loretta was concerned they could go ahead and get started if not for her husband’s declaration that they would wait for Thanos. Who was, by her definition, late. –Why- had Tobi invited him?
Well, there was nothing she could do about it now, unless she wanted to blatantly contradict Vaughn. In spite of her contrary and oftentimes confrontational nature, that was something she rarely did, particularly in front of others. Thanos was hardly worth the argument in any case.
She turned her attention to the wine at Tobi’s comment, grateful for the distraction. Her son seemed proud of the choice and she supposed he had reason to be – it was a good wine.
“That’s very nice, dear,” she murmured, still looking down at the bottle. After another brooding moment, she looked up and favored him with a slight smile before walking around the brazier to join her husband. She sat between Tobi and Vaughn, content to avoid a place next to Thanos even if she didn’t quite acknowledge that her husband had arranged things that way. How very charming – she was between her two favorite men.
A man’s gotta eat, after all. Couldn’t expect him to sit around chatting while there was food on the table.
His mom took a look at the wine, but instead of thanking Tavi, she seemed to think –he- had something to do with it. Crap, that sucked.
Deciding he should swallow his stolen food before trying to talk, he chewed as quickly as possible, grateful that Loretta hadn’t looked up yet.
“Tavi picked it out.”
His sister, for whatever reason, ended up taking a lot of crap from his mom sometimes and he thought it would be nice if she got a little acknowledgement as well, even over just a bottle of wine.
"So nice of you to notice."Â?
Her brother tried to deflect the rising heat in his usual manner, 'Oh, look Elvis!"Â? and it seemed that Loretta took the bait. Of course she automatically assumed that Tobi was the dutiful child who picked the wine out and thought to bringt it.
Her brother, who was sneaking into the rice, stood up for her at least. That was something in her eyes, especially when it would have been so easy for him to keep quiet and take credit. Besides who could be mad at a chipmunk faced rice bandit that was about to get caught for talking with his mouth full; she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.
Octavia flashed a big grin and looked over at her father, gesturing with her hands in the hopes of keeping the attention of both parental units focused on her.
"Well you know, I knew that Dad liked it and I thought it was an easy favorite. That's all. Its no biggie."Â?
She gave Tobi a cut it out look and then found one of the straps on her jacket extremely interesting.
Given the late notice he didn’t think he would be expected to bring anything, but he thought a gesture of goodwill might go over well with the Savia in particular. Under his arm was a bowl of mixed berries and sliced peaches. He would freely admit that he hadn’t obtained the fruit himself, but he –had- sent a lackey out to get only the best. Not all that easy of a task considering the season but he’d been impressed with the underling’s offerings. And if he were impressed that might mean Loretta would be satisfied.
He’d been told countless times that he could simply come in when invited for dinner, but habit forced him to give a warning knock first. The door was, as expected, unlocked, and he made his way out to the patio with growing concern.
Damn. He’d thought he might have at the very least beat Tobi and assumed the more responsible and mature Tavi must have dragged him out on time. Really, he should have known the twins would arrive together – strength in numbers after all – but he never liked arriving dead last.
Nodding to Vaughn, he remained standing for the formalities.
“Good evening Sarkis. Savia.” His smile grew more genuine as he turned to Tavi. “You’re looking well, Tavi…” He peered around the brazier to where Tobi was apparently trying to slump behind the table. “Tobi…” Oh, he had a mouth full of food.
“I hope you haven’t been waiting too long,” he said with a trace of irony meant for the male half of the Emiliano twins. He could see, though, that even if he had only been a hair behind the children, that was a hair too long. Loretta had been especially venomous that afternoon and he supposed she still wasn’t finished yet. He didn’t bother trying to fathom the reasons for her hostility this time – he knew from experience that he would know exactly what her problem was when she was good and ready for him to know.
"It is a wonderful wine."Â?
He turned and gave Tavi a nod of approval before looking up to greet their guest. The Jiro had arrived and bearing gifts. Fighting down a sneeze at the smell of fruity smoke, Vaughn smiled and gestured to the remaining seat next to him.
"Welcome, Thanos. Not at all."Â?
Everyone else, of course, still felt the need to pander to the silly girl’s every mood. Loretta was practiced enough to avoid rolling her eyes at the way the men bent over backwards to ensure she got full credit for choosing the wine.
She was saved from further exercises in self-restraint by Thanos’s arrival. Raising her eyebrows coolly, she gave the practically required passive aggressive response to his greeting.
“How good of you to finally join us.” She gestured to the last empty seat. “Do. SIT.” The last was practically barked – in contrast, she spoke with saccharine sweetness when she continued. “All ready for your trip?”
It was only because she was watching Tobi out of the corner of her eye, wanting to see how he acted around Thanos, that she noticed his guilty expression. Curiosity burned in her chest; what were the Jiro and her son –up- to?
Well, she would find out in good time. For now, there was dinner on the table and a bottle of ‘very good wine’ to be drunk.
Really, he was surprised to find that Dad’s praise bummed him a little. How hard would it have been to have picked out something of his own to bring so maybe pops would look his way too? Meh, too hard – he’d probably just fuck it up anyway. He wasn’t sure why he cared in the first place. And what right did he have to be jealous of his twin just because Dad and the Nothos Jiro liked her better? Pretty stupid thing to worry about by his reckoning. Thank the gods Thanos arrived before he could curl up in a ball emo style. That mental image amused him and he actually had a grin for the Jiro when he greeted him, though he still felt a little guilty for his own thoughts.
He ducked a little lower on his cushion when Mom commanded Thanos to sit. Yeesh, what was her problem tonight? He winced a little when he realized what must be wrong – she hadn’t wanted the Nothos there tonight and he’d gone and obliviously invited him anyway. Ooops. Well, whatever, Tavi would be happy to see him.
With that in mind, he managed a sincere (but entirely masculine!) nod in Thanos’s direction. He had managed to swallow all the rice without choking and so he was able to interject in the conversation before his mom could get too far into the work of tearing up the Jiro.
“Hey thanks for coming.”
He even managed another grin, figuring he didn’t have to like the guy to see his uses in making the family dynamic just a little more entertaining.
/ooc He mentioned that his nod was masculine because he was concerned that the gesture would make him appear gay. *rolls eyes* I called him a closet case and he (apparently picking up tricks from Thaddeus) threw a stuffed monkey at me.
Thanos came in to save them all from more lack luster conversation. She was not surprised that he was greeted without much warmth from her father and downright coolly from her mother. Did that woman like anyone?
She looked up and gave him a bright smile when he called her name. Sitting up a little straighter now that there was a reason to pay attention to the conversation, Tavi wondered if Thanos realized that he saved the evening, at least as far as she was concerned. She could give her brother a big embarrassing hug for asking the Jiro and risking their mother's displeasure.
"Hey!"Â? She processed what her mother had said and questioned. "You're going on a trip? You just got back."Â? Tavi couldn't help but shoot her father an accusatory glance figuring the whole errand boy routine was his idea.
It was Tobi’s greeting that really surprised him – the kid had actually mustered up a little genuine civility there, though he played it off in his usual offhanded way. Was this a change of attitude or an act to suit his own sneaky little purposes?
What a weird guy.
He sat as ordered next to Vaughn, giving the Sarkis a friendly nod as he twisted his legs into something resembling comfort.
Maybe he overanalyzed people, but then, a Jiro had to pay attention. His position was a shade more tenuous, as it was so entirely subject to the Alphas’ whims, and it served him well to have a solid understanding of said whims.
In a way it was a relief that his sincere friendship with Tavi could exist without thought to political ground – the fact was that he lost it rather than gained it when it came to the Savia. She was worth understanding, not in the context of Vyusher R’asa politics, but for her own sake. She’d make a fine Savia one day, but he thought he might be the only one willing to put money on her rather than her idiot brother.
And the fact that she actually gave a damn about his comings and goings was just further proof that this friendship was its own reward. He gave a slight nod at Tavi’s question, refusing to give Loretta the satisfaction of looking her way.
“The Mormons have gone touchy,” he said by way of explanation. “and we want to make it clear that they’re a priority for us.” He smiled. “Or at least, their network is.”
He left out any mention of just –why- they had ‘gone touchy’, satisfying himself with the fact that the truth ought to be obvious to anyone paying attention.