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Dining room

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Though Mitch was aware of his presence, Dark's interjection still made him jump in his seat. However, as he listened to the man's words, he nodded solemnly.

"I suppose you can't reverse what you grew up with, no matter if you still believe it or not," he pondered out loud. He silently gestured to the table in an invitation for Dark to sit with him and Rose. "I still listen to and play the music that Pa told me was devil music. I have had some 'casual' relationships. I obviously haven't been back to my home church in years." He shrugged. "Maybe my brain tells me to think nothing of it, but I still feel that impending doom."

He looked to Dark with a bit of curiosity. Of course there were the tattoos, but he had no idea what kind of life the man lived. Of course, asking about his 'prohibited choices' was a little too forward. "How long have you identified this way?" Mitch asked.
 
"How long?" Dark repeated, and looked silently up at the ceiling, recounting the years in his head. He didn't say anything for a long time, and then finally he said, "It must have been when I was about eighteen, I think, or perhaps a bit later, when I began to identify as an athiest. It was my wife--well, the woman who later became my wife--who first called me one. I had told her, only in passing, late one evening or early one morning, I forget which side of the clock we were on, that our whole relationship was extremely haram-- she was raised in the same faith as I was, but she left it more easily-- and she remarked how she did not see why it mattered to me, seeing as I was an atheist. And I accepted it. But I had stopped practicing a few years earlier, where I could, anyway, I did not attend mosque and stopped praying five times a day, like I had done my whole life, but it was not a conscious choice, they fell away on their own. And I do not know when I stopped believing. If I ever really believed at all."

"Impending doom is a good way to put it," Rose nodded. She was amazed with how much Dark had said, and with his hands. Shee had yet to see his tattoos, and was surprised that when she had looked at Mitch to see if he saw them too, he seemed to have expected them. He must have seen them earlier, "I'm thankful there weren't really any forms of music banned in my home."

Dark smiled, or, as much as he did. If someone looked closely enough, they may have seen the corners of his eyes crinkle slightly, but no more, "Impending doom is why I still cannot eat pork. I have been able to shake out much of the dirt--I listen to music, not only prayer chants, I lived unmarried with my wife for seventeen years, I decorate my skin, but the little things stay. They are too small to wash out."
 

Machina Somnium

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Luka had been busy in the kitchen, humming to himself as he came to the table and went, bringing things. The peach and gelatin salad, the little sandwiches. Bread, butter, water with and without lemon...

"Not that I don't love talking about religion, personally I think god is either dead or never existed at all. But I'd change the topic before Selene comes back." Said Ishade, taking a seat and not missing how Abel pretty much circled the table to sit by Mitch's side. Ikanov said hi, quietly, and then gave the gelatin monstrosity on the table a very offended look. As if it had crossed him. He didn't care to talk about god or no god. If he went to hell he'd fuck satan and make friends. If he went to heaven or some other realm he'd figure it out. But he would rather fade away, preferably 60 to 70 years in the future. Or live forever.

Mrs. Dunham herself had excused herself just after her conversation with Mitch was over. She had gone to the bathroom.

Ishade immediately noticed the cucumber sandwiches and got ready to snatch the 4 little triangles as soon as it was appropiate enough. Mainly so he wouldn't get a shoe thrown at his face, from Luka or from Selene. Whose kids were keeping quiet and nervously looking in Ikanov's direction from time to time. Not that the blonde had noticed. Maybe they'd avoid the storm today.

"What topic?, and is there anything else I should bring?" asked Lukais.
 
Rose nodded, knowing Ishade was probably right, although she was disappointed to have found a topic Dark was willing to speak about, but it was for the best. Who knows what may have happened if Selene was in the room when they were all speaking honestly about their feelings regarding religion with each other.

Dark did not understand, or at least, he did not understand why Selene as an individual was not one to be around during discussions of religion, but he did understand feeling sensitivities around the subject. He folded his hands in his lap, and took a brief glance at Ikanov, and at the rest of the table, and seemed to be finished talking. He turned his attentions to the doorway to wait for his daughter, and gave no attention to the food on the table.

"I think we've got everything we need," Rose answered Luka, "and I feel like whenever I'm asked for a conversation topic, my mind goes blank."
 

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Mitch nodded. "We can talk about this when we don't have outside company. Probably a bit heavy of a topic for lunch." With that, he sat back in his chair, giving Abel a pat on the back of the shoulder as he sat in the chair next to Mitch. "Rose and I are going to the record store after lunch. You coming with?" He asked.

He found himself taking a glance at the gelatin salad, an eyebrow quirked up. Not exactly his idea of a nutritious diet, and it admittedly took him some effort to not make his disdain overt. At least there were other things at the table. If anything, Mitch yearned to learn more about Dark. It felt as if he only got a toe in the water. There seemed to be so much history that was just within grasp, but not quite. Religion may be a controversial topic for the dining room, but it also spoke volumes of the person and what they stood for. Mitch loved discussing it, and it made his heart hurt knowing that there were some that used it as a weapon.

Mitch shrugged with a weak smile. "The thing that makes starting conversations the most difficult is knowing you have to start a conversation," he joked.
 
"It's like suddenly, all I can think about is religion," Rose laughed, "where are those embarrassing conversation topic cards when you need them? Or the children? They always have something interesting to talk about."

"Ivy should be washing her hands." Dark replied, still watching the doorway. Logically, she was probably just waiting her turn, there were many people in the house. But he could not help but fear that perhaps she was not quite as recovered from her upset as he thought, and was off miserable somewhere private. But, if she was off miserable somewhere private, that was her choice, and it was not his job to order her to deal with her emotions in ways which were not natural to her. And all it really meant, if she scrambled off to be sad and alone, was that she was rather like him. But he did not want her to be sad somewhere alone, so he kept watch on the doorway for when she came back, and estimated how long he should wait before going to check on her.
 

Machina Somnium

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"We could talk about ice witches of the north" Suggested Ikanov. He earned a harsh glare from Lukais, and made Ishade snort.


The children were talking amongst themselves in hushed tones.

"Mitch gave me a music sheet" Whispered Olivia. Failing really hard at not being heart. Ikanov snorted, amused, but said nothing. The girl passed it over to her brother who studied it with curiosity, and then proceeded to lift his head and squint at Mitch.

"You should practice your handwriting." He stated, matter of factly. Ishade rolled his eyes, remembering Gabriels judgement about his own ability to write by hand.

"Rude, kid. Mind your business" Said Ikanov, who had been silently fucking losing it for a few seconds.

"You mind your business! And I'm not a kid." He said, bristled by Abel's words. Olivia sighed.

"You're really not supposed to listen to what he says..." She said, folding her arms and looking at her older brother.

Luka watched the exchange, initially amused. Now, however, he was glaring at Abel. He was an adult, could he please be a bit more proper?

Ishade took his chance and swiftly and quietly adquired one of the cucumber mini sandwiches.
 

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Mitch turned his head to the side and down at the floor, trying to hide his face turning red. It was a barrage of embarrassment. Not only was his music being shared around and nitpicked on, but Ikanov ended up running to his defense like a zealous bodyguard. "Hey, that's not..." He started, but he tripped on his words as soon as he began. He just found himself stuttering before he shut himself up.

He found himself looking helplessly at Rose before he cleared his throat. He hit the table lightly but firmly with his hands. "Anyway, the record store after lunch, yes? Rose? Abel?" He spoke each word loudly in an effort to flatten that subject.
 
"Sounds great," Rose said cheerfully, but she had already expressed her willingness to go, and to the children said, "when you're writing music, it's really easy t'get too int'what you're doing, so you write too quickly t'remember your penmenship. Try writing every thought you have down as quickly as you have 'em, your handwriting won't stay perfect either," It was a calmer defense, but still technically a defense, "when I write really really quickly, my handwriting turns all into squiggles, and I get ink all over my hands."

In his quiet manner, from his end of the table, Dark took a brief break from watching the door and said to Olivia and Gabriel, "I can write right-to-left and left-to-right, and I know two alphabets which do not have any of the same letters, they do not even have the same number of characters." He did not mention the number of languages he could (and did) do calligraphy in, because he was not attempting to brag, he was attempting to distract the children from Mitch's music with the mystery of different alphabets.
 

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"oh shit, yeah I'm coming with. I heard you the first time, but ehh sidetracked." Said Ikanov in an apologetic tone, looking at Rose and Mitch for a second.

"Listen to Rose, Gabe. You just don't know because you don't write for fun!. But when I write in my journal it's not always so neat, it's comfortable. And it's not that bad I can read it just fine, Miste- uhm. Mitch. I promise!" Said the girl, heaving seen how the poor older man had reacted to her brother. She snatched the music sheet away from him. And put it away.

"Also like, nobody asked yo-" Muttered Ikanov under his breath.

"That is enough from you. We'll talk later" Lukias interrupted Abel, making the other man roll his eyes. Ishade now had two of the cucumber sandwiches on his plate.

Gabriel looked triumphant, and was about to talk again. But Liv was faster.

"How did you learn to write the opposite way?? And what's the other alphabet?? Is it the language of bugs? They have one!" Said the girl, fully convinced and in almost an accusatory tone to the non present bugs. If their mother heard about this whole conversation they'd be without dessert for some time, and probably get extra tasks assigned. But apparently her brother had chosen today of all days to be an absolute buttfaced clown.
 
"I learned the opposite way when I was twelve years old and moved to the United States after the first war," Dark replied, knowing full well what she meant, but being far too proud to answer her question in any other way... but not so proud he did not then confess, "but I could not write much more than my name in English until I was almost sixteen. My native language is not the language of bugs," he dropped his voice to a whisper--apparently he was quite good at theatrics, when he wished to be--"although I hear their language is quite beautiful, if you dedicate yourself to it, but they write on a diagonal" in his normal volume he continued, "my other language is the language of Kings and Prophets, and it was spoken for centuries before the first person in England ever considered speaking in English, before they even thought there could be such thing as English. My first language is Arabic, which is so old a language that they did not have ink to write it in, they needed to chisel it into stone and mud. And it is so lovely the first people to ever build civilizations, my people, one day decided to replace their language with it, which is why I grew up speaking it."

Hopefully that was enough to fully switch the conversation, and Dark sat easily in his seat as he went on to mention (now, bragging perhaps a little bit), "My daughter, Ivy, she speaks, reads, and writes both languages, too, because she was born here, but she is from that ancient land, where history began."
 

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Mitch regained his composure and took a deep breath. He was just relieved that Olivia was, admittedly, impressively aware of social cues. It was true, he hadn't really intended to be displaying his music to anyone else, so he didn't really bother being clean with his handwriting. It certainly didn't give him the confidence to share his other writing, though.

He couldn't help but feel a vague sense of warmness and pride that Rose and Ikanov were covering for him in their own special sort of way. He, unfortunately, did not know much about linguistics beyond English, and even then he wasn't even confident that he was fluent in that. "It's impressive," he finally spoke up. "And a bit of a shame that learning other languages isn't the norm for the United States." He smiled. "I, for one, would have been very happy to learn the language of the bugs when I was younger."
 

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"Sounds like Ivy applies herself, if she's learned all that already. Impressive." Said Lukais, looking genuinely surprised in the best of ways.

"Yeah! And I've never tried diagonal for the bugs. Hm. Maybe they speak Arabic also? If it's a language from before English..." Said Olivia, deep in thought. It was good to know she wasn't the only one interested in talking to bugs.

"What are you going to talk about, with a caterpillar?" Asked Gabriel. "Bugs are gross" he continued, getting kicked by his sister under the table. Ikanov made a face that could sort of be interpreted as, yeah they are gross.

"Their perspective on the world would certainly be... Invaluable knowledge. Do let us know how your investigations continue" Said Luka to Olivia, amused. The girl nodded.

"I will, unless they ask me to keep it s secret. Then it's between me and them, sorry uncle Luka" She said, like she was about to take on s truly important and dangerous mission.

Selene arrived from the laundry room.
"It's almost all of us here already. It's good to see you." She said, in general, as she took a seat. She was pondering what she had just learned from Ivy about her parents. It was certainly intriguing and worrying. Very much so.

"I just met Ivy, she was on her way to wash her hands. She's a very nice girl, takes after you a lot." Said Selene, talking to Mr. Dark.

"God save us all" muttered Abel, more to himself than anything. But people who were just by his side probably heard him.
 
"Maybe it depends on where the bugs are from. Not all humans speak the same language, so why would all bugs? Especially because there are more bugs than people in all the world," Rose mentioned. If she had wanted to, she could have further impressed the table by reminding them all she was fluent in Irish Gaelic, but she was certain everybody knew. Well, the Darks didn't, but they lived here, now, so there was no rush.

Dark, speaking to Luka, explained, "We spoke to her in Arabic and English since she was born, so it was a fairly natural acquisition, I think. But of course she is amazingly brilliant, and so dedicated, she reads to far above her level--in both languages--and... well, these are all the extremely annoying things parents say about their children." He thought briefly that it was a blessing his wife was not there, because she would tease him about what a boring old man he had become... and then he remembered, and although his face did not change, he felt some further and deeper part of him crack. It was his private torment, and he turned to Gabriel, seeming as calm and casual as he had moments before, and said, "caterpillars, I believe, have much insight to share. And you may find it valuable, if you can keep your temper, as all caterpillars will advise you to do, and adapt to the ups-and-downs of it all, and then, maybe, if you are quite fortunate, you may learn the answer to the hardest question ever asked, 'who are you?'"

He seemed so serious and earnest about it all that Rose could not help but grin, and resting her head in her hand (as one should never do at the table), asked Dark, "Is that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?"

"
It may well be, but who among us can say for certain," Dark replied smoothly, as Selene entered the room. He stood when she did, because of how he had been raised, and greeted her before sitting back down, "Thank you. She is," he put his hand over his heart, "and more like her mother to my eyes."

Rose overheard Abel's little remark when Selene entered, and she rolled her eyes and quietly replied, "just make it through lunch."
 

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Mitch found himself grinning during the conversation about bugs and their languages. "I don't think it's fair to dismiss bugs as gross until you've had a heartfelt conversation with a honeybee or a bumblebee." He leaned forward in his chair to Gabriel, his arms crossed on the table. "You know, they're responsible for so much. The flowers blooming, the honey we use. You know that we wouldn't have a third of the food we have at this table if it weren't for them? No bread. No fruit. Not even pasta. If I told them you thought they were gross, they may not be so happy to share their hard work with you."

Mitch leaned back in his chair, acting as if nothing even happened. He gave a brief nod to Selene, but said nothing. He did, however, chuckle to himself. This wasn't the first time Lewis Carroll had become a part of his day today.

He elbowed Abel when he made his comment, but just gave a half smile to him instead of any sort of verbal reprimand.
 
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Machina Somnium

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"They are... Just bugs..?" Gabriel looked conflicted, half glaring at Mitch. He looked at his very much delighted sister. Who, of course, was very happy with how the conversation was going.

Selene looked at the people who talked about insects and their feelings at the kitchen table. She had an inkling of who may have started the conversation, but it wasn't off-putting or inappropriate. So she didn't say anything else.

"You're not annoying, don't worry" Said Lukais with a chuckle. He felt a bit protective of it all, the family feeling of Mr. Dark and his daughter. His enthusiasm about her, and how much he cared. It made him envious, it really did, he wanted something like it badly. Something like what Selene had with her kids, too. The lingering mist of what could have been would always remain between them.

"It never stops" Said Selene, who for a moment managed to look a bit amused.

Ikanov covered his mouth to avoid laughing out loud when Rose and Mitch actually fucking heard him. First because of Rose's words and then from the other man's playful gesture.

Ishade was now in possession of all the cucumber mini-sandwiches and looked satisfied.

"Respect the bugs or you can't have mama's special pasta ever again~" Said Olivia in a singsong tone, poking fun at her brother. Gabriel groaned in response.
 
"And you are just a human," Dark replied, "but I am sure to yourself and to those who care about you, you are much more than a little thing with cells and limbs, squirming beneath an unforgiving sun. Out there," he gestured out the window, towards the sky, "who knows what other creatures may live and thrive and see us as rather small and unimportant. Who knows what landed in the desert in 1947, or how large and wise humans are?" He sighed, nodded his head, and momentarily brought his eyebrows together before saying, "there is wisdom in all things, or so I have been told. There was an Ancient Greek mathematician, who you will surely learn about one day, perhaps soon, who said, 'There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres,'" he glanced at Selene, and then looked at Gabriel, and concluded his soliloquy by saying, "if there is wisdom and value in a circle, which does not, and cannot live, then certainly there must be knowledge to be gained from insects."
Dark spoke so easily with the boy, and so freely, while remaining deeply philosophical that it was obvious these conversations were not uncommon with him, and it never once occurred to him that quoting something Pythagoras said which is not A^2+B^2=C^2 might be above a twelve year old's head, and it never once occurred to him not to mention the grand scale of the universe which makes all things small in comparison to children, either.

Shortly after he finished speaking, Ivy entered the room, and stood in the doorway, just as her father had while Mitch and Rose discussed religion. She would have lingered for a few moments, to size up the people in the room (or, more honestly, the other kids), but she was immediately noticed by her father. He would likely have allowed her to remain where she stood for at least a little while, but being spotted she acquiesced to her fate and said, "Hello, my name is Ivy." She stood awkwardly for a few moments, dreading how the boy and girl would respond to her, worried she would think she is some giant, or that she's weird, or one of the other things kids always seemed to think about her. She looked at them as briefly as she could without being rude, and avoided playing with her hair, because she thought it would make her look too shy and meek, and she didn't like to think of herself as shy or meek. She didn't like thinking anything bad about herself, but it was hard not to, with other kids around, because she just coming to the right age where she was beginning to view herself as a gangly freak, because of things she had been called, and was not yet old enough to see that she was tall and lovely, and sometimes people were just mean.

But she did not avoid looking at Ikanov, because adults didn't bother her the way other kids did. So instead of looking at Gabriel and Olivia, she looked at him, the man who swore at her, not with anger or upset, but curiosity, and went to sit beside her father.
 

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Mitch found himself entranced by Dark's monologue about Pythagoras. He had done some research himself, and was well aware of the mathematician's immense effect and impression on music theory. If anything, Mitch had forgotten that Pythagoras was only known for basic geometry. He had to admit, ever since the Darks moved in, he had been doing much more philosophical thinking than he ever had been. He had to be somewhat grateful for that.

Mitch sat up in his chair, noticing that the entire household had made it to lunch. Time to actually pursue the food at the table. He was actually going to grab one of the cucumber sandwiches, but... Well, that's what he gets for getting distracted. The gelatin salad was certainly... technically an option. He opted to get himself a glass of lemon water and one of the tuna sandwiches. He didn't begin eating until he knew everyone else had started.
 

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Finally, Gabriel was shut up by Dark's words. Specifically he was given more to think than he'd seen coming, so he frowned and kept quiet. Olivia had giggled a bit, just loving the whole talk. She didn't have a problem adjusting to the many possibilities as far off as they seemed. And Mr. Dark wasn't that scary now. He didn't even seem all that mean, and reminded little Liv of her uncle Keith a bit. Always going on and on about topics that made Gabriel frown and her mother nod quietly. Sometimes uncle Keith and uncle Luka started talking, and it could be hours...

Then Ivy arrived, and little Olivia perked up. She hadn't seen the other girl yet. The first thing she noticed was how tall she was, and that she wasn't wearing a dress. Her outfit looked so practical, and she was so tall she probably had no trouble climbing trees. In her enthusiasm, and because she was used to it, it was easy not to notice her mother's demeanor. Very subtly, with her gaze she seemed to loom over the people present. Especially Gabriel, Ikanov and Ishade. God forbid they said anything rude, or wrong.

"Hello Ivy! I'm Olivia, or Liv. It's really nice that you're moving in next door from us! And your clothes look great!" She'd ask her mother for something like it later. They'd have to put a skirt somewhere, because othesrwise some other people might get upset. And that was bad. But it looked so comfortable...

Ishade just started eating one of his sandwiches after welcoming Ivy with a little wave of his hand. Ikanov, sitting by Mitch's side, half squinted half glared at Ivy... Why was she staring at him?.

"Good, now we're all here. It's a pleasure to meet you, Ivy. Welcome to the boarding house" Said Lukais, smiling gently at the girl as she sat by her father's side. He then started cutting pieces from the peach salad.

"Who would like some?" He asked, starting with Selene and her children first. Gabriel had been deep in thought still, and had only welcomes Ivy quietly before getting back to it.

Selene merely smiled warmly at the girl, and then focused on her peach salad. It was fresh and jiggly, just the way she liked it.
 
"Hello... thank you..." Ivy replied to Olivia, but said little else. She didn't want to be rude, but she was mistrusting. She preferred Gabriel, who said almost nothing to her, but she still did not feel confident around him, either. And anyway, it wasn't like she thought it was nice she was moving into the boarding house. She knew why she and her father moved, and although it was nice to be moving away from her old school, she'd rather they didn't have to move at all, she wanted to stay up in Chicago, before everything had changed. Dark wordlessly put his hand on her shoulder, and she looked up at him, and although she fought against it, she softened.

And then she noticed the jello salad. And how it jiggled. Dark had known of its existence, but ignored it, but Ivy was more affected by it. She looked up at her father, who seemed unphased, and then at Luka, who was offering it, and all she could think to ask was, "Um... is this, American food?" This question was asked in earnest, because she did mainly eat her parents' food, which decidedly was not Americana in origin, and when they went to a restaurant, it was not 'classic American cuisine' (if this is what that was). Her uncle was an American, but he wasn't much of a cook, so she was quite acquainted with mac 'n' cheese and simple sandwiches (and take out), and so jello salad was a completely foreign concept to her.

She asked it with such genuine bewilderment that Dark, who rarely ever showed any true emotion, genuinely and visibly smiled, and not in the put-on obligatory way he had when speaking to Olivia earlier. It only lasted a moment, but it did happen.

"I'll have some, Luka," Rose said. She didn't like most jello salads (and so she found Ivy's question extremely amusing), but the peach and walnut was, for certain, the best of them, "a little piece, though. Thank you."
 
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