She closed the door behind hgger, placing the bag on a wooden table. It was a small house, three rooms. It wasn't falling apart which Charlie was happy about. She hadn't changed much in the past month and had been working in a supermarket to pay the rent. People would get suspicious if she didn't have a job. She looked out the window before pulling the curtains closed.
After a long day of work at the workshop, Kaz walked home to hopefully find his mother sober, and his siblings alive and well. He walked across the house next to them, that up to about a month or so, had been uninhabited for over a decade. He gave a nod of acknowledgement and a quick wink at the girl inside it just before he noticed the curtains were pulled tight shut.
She saw him and pulled them closed as fast as she could. She moved out of sight and groaned. He was a pain. Lived next to her and was hot as hell. But she promised herself not to get to know anyone. Especially boys like him. They were loud too. As well as a troubled mother. She'd come up to her often to harass Charlie, often drunk. She sighed, before jumping when her oven exploded open and black smoke poured out. After getting the fire under control, she swore.
Just as he was about to enter his own house, a loud and obnoxiously high-pitched and repetitive sound erupted from the mysterious girl's house: the distinct tone of old fire alarms. Figuring that it would be a good time to try practicing his fire powers and to finally introduce himself and get a good look at the relatively new neighbour, Kaz stretched his arms and walked briskly towards the front door. Once he got there, he knocked twice. "Hey, is everything okay inside?" He asked in asperous Czech, his voice the low grating of stone against stone.
Her head whipped around to the door and bit her lip. Shoot. She grabbed a tea towel to swipe against the alarm, trying to get it to stop. When that didn't work, she opened a window on the side of the house. Maybe he'll loose interest and go away. she knew the oven was broken and it would cost to get someone in there to fix it, lord knows she has no idea what to do when it came to fixing things. After a moment, she didn't hear the stairs creak and sighed, "yeah, everything's fine, sorry!" She called out.
He knocked again, noticing how much smoke was coming out from a window on the other side, "Ah, an American." He changed to his course English before continuing, "It does not look fine from outside. You need help? That sound is now drilling into my skull."
The door flew open and she glared up at him, "it's fine, the oven just....stopped working. There's no fire and the smoke should be gone in a few moments. If it's drilling into your skull then I'd suggest you leave as distance usually works with noise. Ear plugs might also be helpful." She scowled, tapping her foot.
He brazenly rolled his eyes. "Just trying to help, so don't rage." he replied and quickly checked her out before starting to walk away. "And get it fixed," he deadpanned as he pulled out and threw a business card at her that read: "Novacek & Brekker: Automovile and Domestic Appliance Mechanics" followed by the phone number.
She rolled her eyes as she saw the card, "always an opportunity to advertise." She huffed as the oven made a noise once more. She whipped out a phone and dialled the number.
He sighed heavily, and his voiced seemed to sound ever-so lower than normal, "Be right back," and without further ado, he hung up and showed up on her front porch a few seconds later. "I'm here. May I come in?"
She beamed at him and stepped back, "sure," she said.
Before she managed to finish extinguishing the flames, he discreetly closed his right hand into a fist and watched as the fire died down. Without waiting for the oven to cool down, he took the hot racks out nonchalantly and placed them on top of the nearby stove before doving his head inside the oven and looking around it for the source of trouble.
He was an elemental. Of course h read. Just. Her. Luck. She leaned against the wall, "how expensive will it be, do you know?" Novacek. Novacek.
"I'm in a good mood, and my psychotic mother says you did not welcome her (probably burnt) cookies as a welcome gift to the neighbourhood when you got here. So let's just say I'll replace the cookies for a free oven-fixing-card." He said as he examined the entrails of the complex and antique heating machinery until he found a gas leak and the igniter with a fusion problem. He got out special tape from his pockets and a small toolkit from his messenger bag and continued fixing the malfunction, "That is, if you let me buy you a drink."
She flushed, there were multiple reasons why she denied the cookies. One, she asked Charlie to pay for them and two...she'd been struggling to keep food down recently and better for the women to give it to someone who'd appreciate them. "I wouldn't have appreciated them, plus she asked me to pay for them," she forced out, "and I can pay. Even if it's just a tip." She hesitated at the last question. "I don't know your name."
"Let's play a game then. You guess my name before I pay, and I'll pay the drinks and the tip. You don't guess it, I still pay the drinks, but you pay the tip." Kaz explained as he finished sealing everything and making sure the oven was fixed in the aspects that could actually be fixed. After this, he stood up, put the racks back in, closed the oven, and clapped his hands together once in conclusion. "You game?"
She narrowed her eyes, "that's...do you realise how many names there are in the world? Not including the unisex names."
"Fine," he conceded and proceded to ponder for a few moments as he brushed the grime off his hands with a small cloth from his bag that he always used to clean himself. "I'll give you three major hints. It's specifically for men, starts with "K" and is Eastern European."
He furrowed his eyebrows and glowered at her; "Is that even a name?" he queried as he walked out of the house, expecting her to follow.
"People have called their kids apple, so Kookie might just be," she replied, following, "I'm not that well dressed to get a drink," she observed looking down at her clothes. Jeans, plain black boots and a woolen shirt, no sleeves and a turtle neck. It hung loose below her waist line.
"Well, forgive me, but I am not exactly taking you to a fancy bar, but rather to my go-to pub. Besides, no one dresses up for a pub. I mean, look at me." He gestured to himself, his most decent pair of dark low-rise jeans, a tank top with a few black grime stains and a worn-out genuinely vintage brown leather jacket to match his boots.
"You're a man," she pointed out as she walked passed him, "you can get away with it."
The barest of smiles crawled unto his lips, "I don't need to. It's your loss, after all." He then shrugged and continued walking, not quite waiting for her to follow, "So I take it that you gsve up on the name hunting?"
"I decided Kookie was the right one," she informed him, easily keeping pace.
Kaz remained silent as they both entered the threshold and suddenly there were people, music, indistinct chatter and laughter filling the air and giving Kaz a chill in his spine. Finally home... He thought.
She followed after him, her gaze sweeping the room. She looked on through hooded lids, her mouth a perfect frown and her back was arched. For a moment, she'd accidentally slipped back into her old persona but it soon slipped off. "Cosy," she said.
"No. I have two. You've probably seen the eldest. The youngest rarely ever leaves home, and she is twin to my only brother. I was referring to her not because of the drinks, but rather because she is..." he looked for a word to describe her without sounding harsh, "...odd, and a little antisocial."
"Oh, right," she replied, "nothing wrong with that." She shrugged, still eyeing the place, "you have a big family."
He shook his head, "Not that much. We are only six, and if you keep in mind that two of my siblings are twins, we were only supposed to be three siblings. Many people don't know what it's like to be twins and invade them with the usual questions that we all get tired off. Do you have any friends or close people that are twins?"
She paused at the question. Not saying anything for a few minutes, looking for the bartender to get out of it, before eventually saying, "no, no, no I don't know anyone who are twins. Not that I'm close with anyway."
Kaz stifled a snort and then looked around, so she didn't catch his amused expression as the bartender frowned slightly, "Of course, lady. Corona, Heineken, Stella Artois, and quite obviously, Guinness."
She cut a glance towards Kaz before back to the bartender, "heineken. In the. bottle."
He blinked, "I did not mean necessarily family related, but rather related as in any label, form, or relationship."
"Makes it seem like I belong to you. I'm your lady. It's not really got anything to do with you, I just don't like labels in general," she replied. Plus, I kind of ran away from a label and secretly desired another label for my whole life. She didn't say this, though. Instead, she changed subjects, "say, why do they call you by your last name?"
Considering his English wasn't the perfect, he didn't quite get her pun, but chuckled anyways, figuring it was supposed to be humorous due to her phrasing and the context. To conceal this, he pouted, "No. Not random people. Only attractive neighbours," he said playfully as he winked
She smiled at the compliment. No matter how much she was running from everything she use to be–a compliment was always nice. "Is it often you have attractive neighbours coming through?" She asked, "I haven't really met anyone but..." she trailed off with a shrug, unsure of where she was going with it. "Not many people seem to come and go."
He didn't quite know how to reply to that, so he just decided to go safe, "It is a pretty secluded neighbourhood. And let's say it's not for everyone, so once a family thinks they fit there, they tend to stay st home for really long periods of time.
She took a short sip of her drink, "no offence, but that sounds really boring," she said, "I can't imagine staying in this place forever. Or having a family here." Or having a family at all, she thought to herself.
"Well, then we're quite different, because I really can not bare to imagine otherwise. I attribute this to the fact that I have been living this alway ever since I can remember."
"I grew up somewhere where we had to travel for quite some bit to meet any other human beings, so I suppose that might play into effect," she shrugged, "but I still think you're Kookie for wanting to spend every single moment of your life here."
He took a long swig from his drink and quickly after swallowed it before he grabbed the bottle nimbly from its neck and swilled it graciously in near-perfect circles, "It sounds so much more dramatic when you put it that way..."
She grinned, "everything's dramatic," she said, "so, question, why don't you to an academy or something? Surely your siblings are elemental's as well? Might open your eyes and then, after graduation, decide if you want to come back."
He grinned inanely down at her and stifled a petty snicker from his part, "I was right. You are an elemental after all. Guess I should've known right when I was fixing your smoking oven bare-handed and you didn't shriek to stop me..." He trailed off for a few seconds before coming back to her, "Getting to your question, yes, my siblings are elementals, and I do wish to go to the academy, but..." he gave way to a second of reticece but shrugged it off shortly aftwerwards, "I've heard there are still some negative stigmas about us, you know, bi-elementals."
"Depends which one you go too," she replied, "most ones...the rich ones, where all the royals go to...aren't that fussed."
"You mean, like, the actual Elemental Academy? I don't know if I could go there, I mean, I have been saving, but I don't know if that's enought to pay for enough for my siblings' education. Or even just mine for that matter." He sighed, "I don't know if that's a price that is worth paying."
"You could try for a scholarship?" She asked, "and I hear it's a really good school."
He shrugged, "I honestly don't have any clue. Never researched anything about it. Just've heard from a few guys from the middle-high-class families in the neighbourhood that it's a good school and yada yada yada."
She grinned, "but I suppose it shall never beat the life of a mechanic."
He rolled his eyes playfully, "My father once told me never to trust women, specially if they were mysterious and attractive. Does that mean I shouldn't trust you?" He winked back and took a sip from his drink.
She frowned, "smart guy. He was right. You really shouldn't trust me."
He sat there pensively for a few seconds before actually replying, "I think I would like to already have at least two children by then and have my company develop into a prestigious mechanical company, at least locally, and not having to work."
"A dad, huh? Nice, I don't think I could raise a child, I'd probably start crying with them," she said, only half joking.
"You don't want any children?" Kaz asked, apparently appalled as he took a quick gulp from his drink, effectively finishing it and sighing after he swallowed it." I want that dadbod everybody talks about," He teased.
She laughed, "I think you're already there," she teased, "and no, I don't think parenthood is the life for me."
The bartender neared them and Kaz gestured for him to give each of them another drink of what they'd just had. "Was it hard being an only child? Or do you have any older siblings? You don't look like the type to be a younger sister, though."
She paused, Christina was technically younger but neither usually cared. She felt the usual stab of guilt that occurred whenever she thought about her twin. "Four older," she lied, oh well. Not like he'll ever know the truth. "Two brothers and two sisters."
"It's okay," she shrugged, "I don't really speak to any of them anymore so...I forget myself." For instance, she didn't even know Harry's age. "I can't say I'm remorseful of that so the idea of a big family kind of scares me. Is it as scary as I think?" She asked, this was slightly true. The idea of living with all of them, including her mother and "step" father made her want to claw her eyes out.
He pondered for a few moments, and giggled while still speechless as the bartender came back with their second round of drinks. He mouthed a quick grateful czech phrase and turned back to Charlie, "Of course having a big family has its setbacks: I mean, there's always the annoying sibling, the times when you feel like someone is being the favorite one, when they blame you for things your sibling has done and whatnot, but it also has a wonderful feeling to it. You get to love more people, to care for them and you become a big unit of solidarity. It may be intimidating, but in the end it is something worth having."
She frowned, for once silenced, and she took a drink to hide it. "It does sound nice," she confessed, "but, like everything, I suppose it's not for everyone."
"I don't know about that. I really believe everyone should have their own family to live and develop with. But of course, te larger the family it is, the more controversial it becomes."
"Some cultures push big families and the smaller are more controversial. And family doesn't always mean blood. I don't have to live with them or call them my siblings for them to be family." This was hypothetical now. She didn't exactly have anyone but her blood sister to call family.