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Dining room

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Mitch let out a laugh before stifling himself in response to Ivy's question. At least he wasn't the only one who was less than enthralled by the 'salad'.

"Sorry about that," he mumbled, his hand covering his mouth before putting his hands back in his lap. "If it isn't what you want, there are other things at the table. I'm fine for jello salad, thank you."

Mitch had a certain opposition to eating food that moved around more than he did, so gelatin wasn't exactly his thing. Come to think of it, he wasn't really sure how much American cuisine was his thing. He had been to more than one diner that featured a doughnut sandwich on the menu. That's enough said there.

Mitch took a slice of lemon from his glass of water and squeezed it into the glass, dropping it in after he had practically rung the fruit dry. He took a long sip from the water. Cold and crisp. "What kind of cuisine do you guys usually eat? Any favorites?" He asked to Dark. Maybe it was a little presumptuous, but clearly Ivy wasn't totally familiar with American home cooking.
 
Dark leaned down and softly said something to Ivy, prompting a brief conversation between the two. Although nobody else at the table could understand them, he was attempting to convince Ivy to be polite and at least try the salad, although he did so without scolding her, and she was trying to convince him to let her avoid it entirely and just eat something else.

"Most of the food we cook at home is either Egyptian or Iraqi, which is itself influenced by Turkish and Iranian cuisine. My wife grew up inside Cairo, and I am from a small town near Baghdad, and food makes anywhere feel like home, so..." He shrugged, "and sometimes we mix them, because some Egyptian food can be a bit... bland. Koshari is delicious, and my wife's molokhia is probably the greatest thing I have ever tasted, but she only made it when someone was ill, so you can imagine my disappointment when I first went with her to Cairo and I thought I was finally free from the soup-code, but I found no recipe which was anywhere as good as her closely-guarded family recipe."

"I know how to make it." Ivy said coolly, mostly because she knew it drove her father insane that, if she wanted, she could break the long standing soup tradition, while also reminding him she never would.

Dark explained they did, on occasion, cook food from other cultures, but that most of the time if they desired to expand their palates, they would go to a restaurant instead.

Rose listened politely, while everyone served themselves and began to eat, and asked, "What is molo... in the, soup?"

"Molokhia. And I can't tell you or anyone." Ivy replied
 

Machina Somnium

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"Secret family recipe hm?" Said Lukais, who had been listening to the others speak with interest as he ate his own food. He'd ask Dark to teach him how to make some Iraqi and Egyptian dishes, or desserts some day. He was very fond of cooking and baking, so really, the opportunity to expand his knowledge was irresistible.

"I don't know if I'd call this American cuisine, per se." He said with a thoughtful hum. "But gelatin salads are fresh and allow for some... artistic freedom, so I like to make them from time to time. Simple ones, like this one, nothing too... preposterous."

In a turn of events, and despite the look he'd given the gelatin salad earlier, Ikanov took a piece as well. It was almost comically small, but he did. If only because he'd been rude enough, and the way Luka beamed at him for trying it made up for it.

"Lu, if you really want to take artistic freedom I'll lend you a canvas" Said Ishade with an amused snort, he nibbled on his sandwiches, not particularly hungry now. It came and went, and sometimes he'd been scolded because he forgot to eat. If you asked him, having people around all he time and big dinners were a clever strategy to keep him in check. It wasn't beyond his brother to do that, but it was unknown whether it was a conscious effort.
 

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Mitch nodded, a keen interest in his eyes. "You'll have to cook for us some time," he said with a smile. "Whatever recipes you have access to, of course. I don't think I've ever had Iraqi or Egyptian food. I really only grew up with Irish stuff. Soda bread, boxty, and naturally we had shepherd's pie. Ma used to make fantastic shepherd's pie. I'd give my left leg to have it again." He sighed wistfully. There wasn't much to be fond of from his childhood, but that was certainly one of the few things that gave him such nostalgia.

At this point, Mitch was the only one who hadn't had a slice of the jello salad in front of him. Just out of sheer peer pressure, he grabbed himself a very thin slice of the salad. It wasn't worth getting singled out.
 
"I am unsure the access to the correct ingredients is here," Dark replied, ignoring the existence of the 'salad' on his plate, in attempt to make his child believe it was, in fact, edible, "when I traveled with work, I passed through towns such as this often, and I could go ages without finding even a single can of pomegranate juice. But that was in the depression, perhaps things have changed in the intermittent years. If these things have become accessible outside of large cities, I would gladly cook."

"I don't think I've ever had a pomegranate," Rose mentioned, and then turned to Mitch, and pouting slightly said, "you can't speak about Irish food t'me, Mitch, you'll put me off everything else. I'm homesick enough already!" She was almost certainly the only one at the table who had a fairly consistently happy childhood, and who had a close relationship with everyone in her family without any major or traumatic interpersonal conflicts (all of those, for her, had roots in other aspects of life), and as a result, instead of searching for untainted memories amongst the sorrows of youth, she had, with the exception of fairly common moments like the loss of a pet, or the end of a friendship, she thought back to happy and nostalgic moments, which made being away from home so difficult. All of her family lived on the other side of the Atlantic, which a whole different kind of family struggle.

"The Prophet said they are the fruit of Paradise... but of course in Greek mythology, they are the fruit of the Underworld, and what Hades gave to Persphone to get her to return, which..." Dark shrugged his shoulders, and did not further explain, choosing instead to ask Rose, "Do you go back to Ireland often?" As he asked, he silently urged Ivy to eat, even though she was hesitant.

"Not as often as I'd like, it's been a few years. Travel is really expensive."
 

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Mitch perked up in his seat. "Oh! I've been to a pomegranate farm out in the Coachella Valley when I backpacked out to California. I could bring back some juice next time I go. I love pomegranates, they're delectable."

He leaned forward in his chair. "You know the pomegranate is also a symbol of resurrection in Christianity, and in Judaism, it's believed that each pomegranate carries 613 seeds; one for each commandment. The pomegranate is pretty consistent as a blessed fruit among lots of belief systems." Though Mitch was unsure of his own faith, he was very familiar with each major one, especially when it came to little idiosyncrasies such as blessed fruits.

He laughed. "I'm sorry, Rose. I could try making shepherd's pie here, but it'll be nothing like my ma's. She would never tell me how she made the lamb so impossibly tender. I mean, lamb is already tender on its own, but this was a different level." He stopped himself before he made things worse for her homesickness. "We'll have to take a trip soon to remedy that."
 
"They take a really long time to get the fruit out," Ivy murmured, without looking up, while pushing the food around on her plate with her fork to make it look like she was eating.

"Fruit of paradise..." Dark sighed, his mind drifting back to childhood, where the trees simply grew, and the one near his home he would steal from, praying he wouldn't be caught, "I would not have lived so long were it not for them."

Finally Ivy took a bite of the gelatin salad, and did her best not to make a face, choosing instead to look up at her father with slightly furrowed brows so he knew that she was both very very polite and very very annoyed that he made her try it. He silently acknowledged her, and then she looked across the table, and focused on something somewhere near Gabriel, and she watched it with a strange smile and look of curiosity on her face, and if her gaze was followed, it led to an average sized spider crawling across the table.

Rose, however, did not notice, and instead continued her conversation with Mitch, saying, "Poppy, my youngest sister, she wants t'be a chef--I forget if I've mentioned it before--and she does wonders with lamb, and with everything she makes. I can't remember a single bad dish, she was eight years old watching my parents or one of my other siblings--usually Iris--cooking, and she'd come up, taste it, and then just grab some herb and throw it in, and it always improved it. She's only sixteen, but maybe she'll make your shepherd's pie like you remember, when we go..." Rose fell silent, and after a few moments said, "I'm always worried that I'll go there, and spend a few days in my home, and then want to be anywhere else. It hasn't happened so far, but it's always a fear."
 

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Though the slice of the jello salad was on his plate, Mitch made a lackluster effort to break it up with his spoon. He eventually got a negligible piece from it and put it in his mouth, swallowing it down immediately as to not feel the sensation of the unnatural, wriggly substance on his tongue. The taste was fine. If anything, the taste was the redeeming factor to the dish. Peaches and walnuts were not the problem here. Regardless, he went to grab his glass of water again, taking a cleansing sip before continuing on his sandwich.

"I guess I feel somewhat attached to the town I grew up in, but I never felt like I had to go back. I can hardly imagine what that's like for you. That's probably why, uh..."

After a moment, he noticed Ivy's gaze leading to the spider crawling across the table. He wasn't particularly jumpy around spiders, but he knew it to be likely someone else at the table was. He instinctively and discreetly pulled his plate back to get some distance between the arachnid and his meal before he continued talking.

"That's probably why I move around so much. I don't know for sure what 'home' feels like. That's no sleight to the Luseths, of course," he smiled warmly to Luka and Ishade before returning his eye contact to Rose. "I love it here and I am grateful that there are wonderful people that welcome me with open arms. I don't know where the place that I'm going to be from is going to be."
 
Rose nodded as Mitch spoke, even though she couldn't really relate to how he felt, because she did have such a strong connection to 'home'... but she did understand what it was like to not feel like you were there, even amongst people who cared for you, "I think, sometimes, if my family all moved here, I wouldn't miss it so much... but also, even then... I don't know, I miss the ocean, I think. And the seals and otters.. sneaking off to Galway city and being grounded for a month because of it... well, maybe I do miss all of it. But what can you do? I did the American thing, I came for opportunity--and I'm certainly making good use of it, aren't I?" She laughed at herself, because she definitely was far from making the most out of the land of opportunity. If Selene did give her that job, then she'd be doing a bit better, but only economically, "Hey, Dark, you come from away too, do you miss your homeland?"

Dark paused. He had been hoping to not have the question extended to him, "Well, I am... much older than... the rest of you, so it is possible I have had more theoretical homes, and recollecting is..." He took a sip of his drink, and allowed himself a few moments to collect his thoughts before saying, "I believe I am the only one here who has memories of, or was even alive during, the War, and growing up in such an environment is complicated. I was eight when the war began, and twelve when it ended," He eyed the children at the table, aged eight, ten, and twelve, "and then I came here, because there was very little left." It did not answer the question, but it was near enough to it that he hoped it would just be accepted. And, in a weird way, he was grateful for World War I, because it meant he could express his complicated and difficult feelings regarding his childhood, and most people would generally accept the answer and not attempt to press for more, because everyone understood war. Everybody. So he didn't have to talk at all about the real pains of his youth, which made the four years of gunfire seem lovely and nostalgic in comparison.

"I can say much about home, or the concept of it, but I do not wish to seem like everybody's father, or worse, cliché." He joked in his subtle way, and it was mostly genuine, but also certainly a deflection.

"Home is where the heart is?" Rose asked, guessing the intended cliché, and Dark nodded, shrugging his shoulders.

"You get old and forget how to speak creatively," Dark replied, "but I would love to hear more about your home."
 

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Now it was Mitch's turn to deflect. "Well, there was certainly the beauty of American schooling during and after the Second War." He spoke with a rather unfamiliar malice, albeit subtle. Usually, he was simply polite at best and cagey at worst. "I was just turning seven at the time, but I was old enough to notice things were changing when it came to how schooling worked. Let's just say that, by the time I was in high school, most of my classmates had dropped out, and my English class was less about the classics and more about wartime propaganda and heavy-handed nationalism, even after the War was over."

He wasn't really talking about his home, was he? He sighed and thought for a moment, staring down at his plate. "My home was honestly not much different from this neighborhood. We lived in a small town, everyone knew each other's names, and everyone was terrified about the War. The town was small enough to notice when people just... disappeared." He trailed off, shaking his head. He realized that if he continued on that tangent, he was bound to make some kids and a certain parent upset.

He cleared his throat. "I apologize. I don't intend to be so dour. My original home actually wasn't too far from here. Just a bit further South. I remember every weekend, me and the rest of the boys from my class would go out to the springs and swim in the waters, trying to act all manly for the girls, knowing that there were gators in the water." He snorted, rolling his eyes at his childhood. "We definitely were not manly."
 
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Machina Somnium

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The rest of the people present were talking, involved in their own conversation. The siblings were bickering amongst themselves, Selene ate rather quietly while answer this or that from Lukais. She had been in her usual serious demeanor, but he made her smile from time to time. With a comment, with his hopes for the future. What future?, She thought but didn't say. They were both bound to rot here, at least she felt like she was rotting. And he, from what she knew, was her equal in many ways. But still, even though she knew he was acutely aware of reality, they talked of a future that wasn't for them. Of the present. And he made her feel lighter, less guilty for waiting for a ghost to return. Because while he wasn't, he was, in her opinion, wanting for a ghost to appear.

Ishade watched his brother while he ate and talked to Abel. He seemed content, as always. That was the keyword. Never upset, or angry, or lonely. He was like a mannekin who apparently was always just fine. Obviously, he wasn't, but how bad was it really?.

Abel was plain bored, low-key interested in Mitch's and Rose's life though. So he paid attention to that, a little, while him and Ishade talked. He wasn't a fan of big family dinners. Reminded him too much of home.

"You're manly now, no worries" he commented off handedly. Even though by society's standards, Mitch wasn't manly at all. Neither was he, but it wasn't something he was going for. Did Mitch want that, he wondered? Sometimes he envied men like Dark and Lukais, to whom it came naturally. But then again he'd also love to see them in a skirt and a corset. Preferably while tied up. So he'd better get on a different train of thought before he had to leave.
Mitch could rock a skirt though, and so could he.
 
"I might have taught you in high school, had we lived closer," Dark replied, "but I can say little about how the American education system was before I began to teach. I did not have my high school degree until I was thirty six. It is quite difficult to go through school when you barely speak the language your books are in. But you need no concerns about my curriculum, I was often reprimanded by my superiors for the content of my lectures. But I have always admired John Scopes."

Rose was, admittedly, a bit shocked to learn how recently Dark had officially completed high school, and felt a bit ashamed for feeling surprised, "I was just raised to know how our people suffered, and to respect kinship. We were neutral," She knew better than to say much about the war, but did want to acknowledge she didn't have the same experiences as most, "but when it came t'impressing girls we--or, the boys, I mean--all just did the normal things like carrying books and acting all moody so you seemed deep. Of course, that's what you had t'do in Catholic school, the nuns cracked down on anything more overt. But swimming with gators isn't not manly."

Dark sucked air in between his teeth before saying, "I did not enjoy Catholic school."

"You went to Catholic school?"

"For a few months, before I dropped out thirteen. My knuckles still hurt, and I do not know what I did, they only yelled at me in English."
 
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Mitch sat up in his chair as Dark talked about his time in high school, but he found himself lost for the words to say. He didn't have the fortune to say that he even got his own high school diploma. What would they even think of him?

"I was really only in Catholic school for my elementary years," he said after his brief moment of self-doubt. "Parents moved me to public schooling pretty shortly after; guess they didn't want to put the money down for it after a while." It wasn't necessarily incorrect, but it didn't make much insight to deduce he was being rather vague.

He smiled. "As for the carrying your books and being moody, I imagine it's no surprise I was a tad too goofy to pull off the deep, romantic thinker archetype. Just imagine me now, but smaller, more twiggy and baby-faced, and with even less of an ability to grow hair on my face. I practically had Coke bottles for glasses and I dressed like one of those animated film characters." He laughed at the thought. "It was easier to just show blatant disregard for safety and self-preservation to get the attention of the individual you're attempting to court."
 
"I wish I could drop out of school," Ivy said, briefly looking away from the arachnid still sneaking across the tabletop.

Dark frowned, this evidently being a conversation he had often, and he replied by saying, "But you do excellent in school."

"But it's boring. And I don't like the other kids. And the teachers like to say I'm making things up. I want to join a carnival like you and Mama did and travel all around and not have to do homework, and if there's someone who is a jerk, I'd be away from them in a week and never have to see them again."

"I would not have you live under that stigma. It is enough for you to be our child," He sighed, and smoothed the back of her hair, "no, you will finish school, and one day be a doctor--you do not have to be a medical doctor if you do not wish to go into medicine--but a doctor, and show everyone how great you are, and how far you can go, regardless of your background or your gender."

He spoke very seriously, but Ivy didn't seem at all impressed. Going through that many years of schooling seemed far less cool than running off and exploring and spending each day with other freaks and not having people tell her how to behave.

Rose listened to their little interaction, amused at how it seemed all parents pushed their children in the same basic direction (although her own parents were very supportive, but that's a privilege of having six sisters, they can have one starving artist in the family), but did not interject, because it was no buisness of hers... and anyway it was nice to see a father pushing his daughter to become a doctor, rather than pushing her to marry one. Instead she chuckled at Mitch's statement and said, "I don't think the people at my school," which of course meant her, but she hoped she disguised it well enough, "pulled it off well either, but Oscar Wilde Jonathan Swift were Irish, so I think we all thought we were as witty and complicated as them."
 

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After listening to Dark's lecture on the importance of becoming a doctor, Mitch's face darkened. He looked briefly at Ivy with what seemed like guilt in his eyes, but he said nothing. It wasn't his place to intervene in how someone wanted to raise their child anyway. Regardless, he knew just how limiting it must feel for your only choice as a child to be to become exactly what your parents want. Mitch looked down at his plate and, despite still having the remnants of a sandwich and a slice of jello salad left, he felt that he was satisfied; or at least he had no more appetite.

He got out of his thoughts and laughed politely. "Yeah, unfortunately I couldn't convince anyone I was any type of Oscar Wilde." He pushed his plate back. "Well, I've been real excited to check out some of the new prints at the record store, so I'd like to get going soon. Lunch was fantastic as always," he said with a beaming smile, although he did still have a vaguely troubled look in his eyes.
 
Ivy looked up just in time to see Mitch looking at her, and made a face before shrinking down in her chair, presuming he was thinking something negative about her... So maybe she didn't always trust strange adults so much either. It was her dad's job to freak out over her future, she didn't need strangers doing it too. Just because they lived together didn't mean she had to listen to him. Thankfully, she scared him off and he looked away (or, at least, she interpreted the situation like that), so maybe he wouldn't judge her going forward. In her mind, she was quite the intimidating ten-year old, when she wanted to be... not that she normally wanted to be. Dark watched his daughter, his face was neutral (as always), but his eyes were gentle, and as he often did, he smoothed the back of her hair.

"I'm about ready t'go," Rose told Mitch brightly. She had just finished the last of her lunch, and thanked Luka heartily for it, as if she had not aided in making it. She noticed the look in Mitch's eyes, but wasn't going to ask if he was alright in such a crowded room. Maybe later. For now, she would be bright and warm and hopefully make things a bit better that way, "I've been dying t'go all day, it was most of what I thought about in church t'day. Don't tell Jesus I said that. Did we ever decide how we're getting there? It's not too far."
 
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