Title: greener with the scenery
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - April 23, 2010 02:29 AM (GMT)
The simple fact was, he didn’t really know what his mother would think. He just wanted to make sure they were somewhere where throwing things would be unacceptable, and he’d have time to run in cause she decided to beat some ‘sense’ into him. Of course, being in public had never stopped her before, but in a place like Al Castello? He could dream anyway. But of course this was all worst case scenario. She might be completely accepting – might be. His guess was that she’d be somewhere in between the two, best case scenario. He had no idea when he turned into such an optimist, but really anything was possible when your mother was Virginia Jenner.
He had even tried to polish up for their little get-together. His face was freshly-shaven and he had run some gel through his hair to keep it out of his face, which was where it usually was. He had dressed in a black pin-stripe dress pants and even tucked the bottom of his white shirt in. He covered the majority of the shirt with a black button-up vest. The real Kieran showed through in the tie he hadn’t tightened all the way and the sleeves he had rolled up to mid-forearm. He checked the time on his watch – he still had 15 minutes to meet up with his mom and it only took him ten to get to the restaurant. He spritzed himself with the Hugo Boss bottle sitting on his desk and shoved his wallet in his back pocket. The final touch was a black belt that hugged his toned waist well. Kieran did one more glance-over, deciding that he’d do his mother proud and slid his shoes on before he headed out the door.
The ten minute drive felt like it was taking half an hour. The traffic wasn’t bad, but the thoughts going through his head slowed everything down ten-fold. How was he going to tell her? What was she going to say? He’d already accepted the offer, and he wasn’t going to go back on it now. Not in a million years. She already knew something was up – that much was evident from their text message conversation earlier today. Sometimes he wondered how on earth he could have possibly come from her, other times it wasn’t a question in his mind that he’d be dead by now if he hadn’t. A part of him felt guilty for knowing for as long as he had without telling her, but it was all about the right moment. He had been brave this afternoon when he called her (well, until he’d called her, hence the hesitation in his message) and now there was no looking back. Unless of course she severed his head from his body with one of her glares.
He pulled into the parking lot and didn’t see her car. Good – if he was the first one here, he’d have a little extra time to think before she entered and demand he spit it out. He locked the door of his truck behind him and walked through the doors that were opened for him.
“Thanks,” He said with a quick smile. “Reservation for Jenner.” He was shown to his table with a pleasant hello and a long list of what was new and poppin’ (his own term of course) at Al Castello. He didn’t really care, to be honest, but he went with it. He had only been in here a few times and found himself incredibly uncomfortable. He was a burger and fries guy, and Cessy’s Diner was his kind of place. Of course, telling his mother he was planning on moving across the world in a burger joint was on the list of one of the worst ideas he could have ever possibly had.
“Just a water please,” He requested, sitting down with his back facing the entrance of the restaurant. He wouldn’t be able to see her coming, which might make things easier. He couldn’t run and pretend he thought she’d ditched him if he saw her walk in. He sighed and sat back in his chair, rubbing his face to set himself straight. Why was he so scared of this woman sometimes? If he hadn’t been such a pompous ass, he would realize it was because he absolutely adored her, and he hated anything that could possibly hurt her, and he didn’t know if he was about to become one of those things.
Virginia Jenner - May 8, 2010 08:58 PM (GMT)
Her day was almost over, and thank God for it. She'd spent the last hour rubbing her temples as she read over some of the assignments her students had handed in today; a fairly simple analysis paper, with few twists and turns, nothing too complex, and yet, she could feel gray hairs accumulating at some of their responses. It was always the bad ones that stuck in her head, making her rub her temples and curse every having made the choice of becoming a teacher, and on this occasion, she had decided to tackle those she suspected would be sub-par first. A dreadful choice, of course; the hour she had set for leaving came upon her, and she was left with a splitting headache, throbbing like a nuisance and forcing her into slowing her progress. She'd almost run out of red ink, too. Disaster; she'd need another pen.
She admitted defeat at the ticking of the clock, and slipped the papers, both graded and un-graded, into her worn, leather briefcase, initialled on the front, closing it and securing it before she gathered up her jacket, placing it over her arm and carrying it, and the briefcase, out of the university with her. A few goodbyes were administered to valued co-workers, and a few co-workers were avoided like the plague - there were certain nuisances she didn't need when she had a headache like this one - until she was finally tucked safely away inside her car, free to push the button and fire it up - always such a disappointing task, especially since all the Prius did was hum - and get on her way.
It was an easy ride, thankfully. Joyfully; she didn't think she could handle road-side aggravation, today, when she was worn thin enough to explode over a missed turning signal. There were no traffic violations, however, and rush traffic was conveniently missed, allowing her to make it to the restaurant on time - a minute early, even. She expected Kieran would be a few minutes late, and took her time in leaving the car and locking up, carefully placing the briefcase's lead over her shoulder - she could have just fished out her wallet, but it seemed such a bother to start rummaging through the bag to find it, now - before she went to enter the restaurant.
She was immensely surprised upon entering and giving the name of the reservation, when she was informed that her company had already arrived. She was sure her surprise was evident from the half-smile of amusement the maitre d' displayed after he'd said it, before he led her into the restaurant, toward the table. When she saw the boy sitting there, she was for a moment convinced that he had the wrong Jenner, but she recognized that hair, and those shoulders. In fact, she recognized everything about her only son, and would never fail to point him out in even the largest crowd; he was her son, after all, and as much of a failure she might be in showing affection and raising him to a strict set of socially acceptable rules, she was still a mother.
The maitre d' led her all the way and left her by the table, standing beside her chair and staring with wonderment down at her son, brow quirked in mild disbelief. "Look at you!" Was this even her son, with the tucked-in shirt and fashionable vest, the freshly-shaven jaw and pin-stripe dress pants? Even his hair was arranged, out of his face, out of his eyes, and she appreciated the sight, really she did, but couldn't help but be relieved that his sleeves were rolled up so clumpy and his tie wasn't tightened all the way. Heart-warming as it was to know that he'd made an effort, just for her - though the possibility that he had a date planned for after this encounter was always present - she had always been exceptionally proud of Kieran simply for being Kieran - himself, with no excuses or regrets. She smiled at him after her few moments of obvious bafflement, quirked eyebrow lowering and allowing her expression to become warm for a moment, before she sat in opposite him, placing her worn book bag on the floor beside her chair, resting against its wooden leg, and immediately after picking up the menu that had been placed so abruptly at her seating, resting atop a now flattened napkin, and opening it to peruse her choices. "You must have done something terrible to show up looking so neat."
Their waiter approached, setting down a pitcher of water and collecting the wine glass already set down in front of Kieran, and proceeding to ask if she would like to hear the specials, an invitation she quickly declined, before asking for a glass of her favourite red, and dismissing the waiter. She lifted her eyes above the edge of her menu, passing her son a somewhat suspicious smile. "Have you been here long?" Her headache dwindled.
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - June 6, 2010 05:50 PM (GMT)
Kieran tapped his foot absentmindedly on the carpet of the flashy restaurant. He was much more of a burger joint kind of guy, but he could hardly have asked his mother to meet up with him at Cessy’s or the Burger Joint – he knew her better than that. He’d estimate her reaction to that being a laugh and a quick response telling him not to be ridiculous. Anyway, he tapped his foot along with a song that had been percolating in his head all day today, and he received a rather unwelcome glance from the folks sitting beside him. Not that he’d noticed, but that wasn’t the point. Kieran didn’t fit in, in a place like this. His messy appearance alone said that – the effort was there, but he was still, unapologetically, Kieran Jenner-Carmichael, scruffy and gruff to the core. He cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter, remembering himself in his slouch. As much as he didn’t really care about his posture, he didn’t want to embarrass his mother. At least not this evening.
He had zoned out and found himself staring at a rather uninteresting fork when he heard the sound of her arrival. “Look at you!” His head snapped to attention, and a crooked grin spread across his face. “Yeah, yeah,” He waved off the look of mild surprised that had etched itself into her features. He was taken slightly off guard when that look had turned into a smile, and his crooked grin turned into a mirroring smile before he looked down at the table. That was all they really needed, he though. His mother had never been overly affectionate, not that he could remember anyway, but he’d kill anyone that said she was a bad mother for it- quite literally rip them in half. He couldn’t think of a single other person in this world that could put up with his antics like his mother could. He thought he’d found one, but he’d turned out to be very, very wrong about her. He had never gone into great detail with his mother about how he’d felt about Raina, about what she’d opened his eyes to even after they’d split up. It had been a short period of time together, but there had been a change in him and he was slowly bouncing back, but there were things he’d realized he wanted that he hadn’t been aware of before her. He was regaining his player reputation and had been with a few girls on a simply physical level (another thing he hadn’t shared with his mother) since Raina but that was all it had been – purely physical.
“You must have done something terrible to show up looking so neat.” Kieran chuckled and re-adjusted in his chair again – they just weren’t the same as a padded booth, but he’d survive for a few hours. “I told you I wasn’t pregnant. And you know I’d never impregnate with a girl with no teeth, mom.” He joked cheekily- though he’d never sleep with a girl with no teeth either, so it wasn’t a lie. He would wait for a while before he shared with her what he’d called her here for. He’d wait until she settled in. The piece of paper weighing down his wallet never left his mind though, even as she ordered her glass of wine with the cool ease of Virginia Jenner. He reached over and grabbed his own menu, opening it up to look at what this place had to offer. He thought he was in the mood for steak tonight, but really, when wasn’t Kieran in the mood for steak? He was a stereotypical boy in the sense that he could consume whatever he could get his hands on during the day and still go to bed with a small rumble in his stomach. It didn’t help that he was almost always on-the-go, be it a jam session with the band, a romp through the dingier part of town or the very infrequent runs he took across town the guy hardly ever stopped.
“Have you been here long?” He looked up to see the suspicious smile on his mothers face and felt his stomach drop to the floor. Of course she’d know he was up to something – he’d known she’d know as soon as he left that message for her. “Naw,” he replied lazily, shaking his head. “Ten minutes, max.” He looked up from his menu to shoot her a quick smile in return, turning his focus back to the bound book in his hands. He didn’t even know why he was looking at the thing – he knew what he wanted. A distraction for his hands probably, which he promptly folded into his lap, elbows rested on the arms of the chairs to stop him from fidgeting nervously. “How was your day?” He asked, curious not only for her, but for his own benefit. She seemed to be in a good mood, but he wanted to make sure so he knew how to go about this little piece of news he’d been keeping from her for the last while. He recalled the date on the top of the letter that so heavily weighed him down, and hoped to god she’d skim over that part when he handed it to her. Mind you, that mother of his didn’t miss much, especially when it came to her boy.
Virginia Jenner - June 28, 2010 12:24 AM (GMT)
It had always delighted her, though she met her son's repeated "yeah" with eyes that expressed amused exasperation, that Kieran could so easily dismiss the amazement of others when he had done something truly worth noticing. This borderline dressing-up might not have seemed like much to the random passer-by, but Virginia recognized effort when Kieran had made it, and knew that it was usually associated with something important - she hadn't raised him to waste his efforts, after all. It was almost enough to make her worry, but rested now in a comfortable post-work condition that her son was largely responsible for putting her in, with his presence alone, as it happened (this was a glorious idea he'd had), she would, for the time-being, allow her skepticism to be checked at the door, for however long that lasted.
What made her comfortable experience less comfortable, however, was the state of being seated at a reasonably classy restaurant table in your standard reasonably-classy-restaurant chair. What she needed, what Virginia Jenner really needed, was a mixture of sophistication and comfort to suit her picky pallet. By all means, she wanted her fine wine, but would it kill these establishments to set her up with comfortable seating? She'd admit, however, that Al Castello was one of the better of these sophisticated establishments that West and North were famed for, especially since their food, while certainly on the pricey side, was not overly extravagant. Still, she sometimes missed the freedoms of her youth, with gritty South End and East Side establishments that offered greasy pizza and burgers and watered down coke in padded booths. But on the other hand, she much preferred her fine wine to watered down coke, and she much preferred Al Castello's ravioli to the Burger Joint's bacon burgers - she wondered if that place was still open?
She re-adjusted in her seat when her son did - unknowingly, the realization about comfort had been inspired by his actions - and resisted the urge to place her elbows on the table. She had learned a few tricks in her old age, it would seem - her mother would be delighted. “I told you I wasn’t pregnant. And you know I’d never impregnate with a girl with no teeth, mom.” She tried to hide her amusement under a disappointed look, but ended up smirking at her only son, instead, unwillingly admitting to herself that the boy had a way of conjuring up vivid imagery. "What a relief, Kieran; you know I judge man's worth by the number of teeth in their mouths." It wasn't too far away from the truth; as supportive as Virginia was of the underdog, only unwilling malnutrition could really excuse hideous oral hygiene, and only the most naive of romantics could pretend that these matters were inconsequential. She knew for a fact - or at least she hoped she did - that her son was not a naive romantic.
Ten minutes, not too long, but the realization that he had been waiting for her here, at this restaurant, which he had arranged for them to go to because he had news, struck her again and refueled her skepticism. It was no longer checked at the door; no, it was a very present, and pressing, matter, all of a sudden, especially at the sight of how quick his glances were. A brow arched slowly, and she closed her menu, already having decided what she'd be ordering, and placed it on the table beside her empty wine-glass as Kieran placed his menu in his lap. “How was your day?” She didn't think it was possible for her brow to rise any further, but it did, climbing slowly up her forehead until she was sure it was touching her hairline. "Uneventful," she stated bluntly, almost mechanically, while suspiciously looking her son over, brow slowly settling back into its natural position. "I was lucky enough to be propositioned by a particularly cocky sophomore," she continued, hiding her amusement at the fact behind a wall of skepticism, "I doubt he'll be making a similar attempt any time soon." She paused, considering the events that had passed earlier that day, and for a moment, her eyes left her son to stare into empty air for a moment, brow furrowing lightly. "I might have put him off women entirely, actually..." she added, absent-mindedly, before shaking her head and returning focus to her son.
Her arms crossed over her chest, her head tilted to the side and she watched him, brow still furrowed, lips lightly pursed, brown eyes searching for any indication of what his news were. Clearly, something important, since he'd gone to all this trouble... "Have you fallen in love, or something?" she asked, skeptically, looking him over again, before a sudden realization wiped the skepticism straight off her face and replaced it with overwhelming blankness, mixed with just a touch of horror. "Oh God. You haven't enlisted, have you?"
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - June 28, 2010 03:37 AM (GMT)
"What a relief, Kieran; you know I judge man's worth by the number of teeth in their mouths." Kieran chuckled and shook his head at his mother – unsurprised but all the same entertained by her response. She was one of a kind, this mother of his. A stick of dynamite disguised as a professional book-worm - he thought that was quite a fitting comparison, really. How else could you describe her? It wasn’t a wonder people might find her just a little bit intimidating. As much shit as he gave her, the woman was one to be respected, if not only out of fear but also for the poise and charisma he knew she was capable of. Even the way she had waved away the waiter just moments ago. Perhaps people knew it was best to do as Virginia Jenner said. Kieran, however? He liked to cross that line every once in a while. He reached back and scratched the back of his neck absent-mindedly, letting his hand drop back down to his knee. ”See, I don’t always let you down.” He said, a pleasant grin playing on his lips.
That eyebrow…that fucking eyebrow. She had him. That was it. He was done. That fucking eyebrow got him every time. He cleared his throat uncomfortably but found himself more comfortable when she started talking again. ”Uneventful. I was lucky enough to be propositioned by a particularly cocky sophomore. I doubt he’ll be making a similar attempt any time soon. I might have put him off women entirely, actually…” Kieran laughed this time, quite heartily. ”Atta girl. If the fire-breathing didn’t work, get a name. I’ll take care of business for you.” Kieran wondered, all jokes aside, if his mother knew how willing he was to re-arrange anyone’s face when it came to her. Or Anna-Maria, for that matter. She may have been a stripper, but she was still his sister, and a Jenner woman. Being a Jenner woman with a Jenner brother meant you were to be feared and respected at all times. According to Kieran’s standards, of course.
Kieran reached out for his water glass and brought it too his lips, tipping it back slightly to permit the near freezing liquid to pass through his lips. Apparently, he had chosen the exact wrong moment to do so, as what his mother said next caught him completely off guard, and after that? Sent him into a choking sputter that would have brought along the attention of a 500-year-old corpse. He managed to set the glass down as he choked and sputtered, pounding on his own chest with his fist as his eyes started to water and his face turned red. How would one respond to that? Yes and no? As the burn died off, the fist pouding the water out of his lungs turned into the flat of his palm until it was silenced – not quite before he achieved the stare of most of the customers in the restaurant, but it had been an accident. He diverted his eyes from his mother as he reached out for the water glass again, taking a sip before forcing an uncomfortable chuckle. Was he in love? Fuck, if he knew, he’d be willing to divulge such information. This was probably going to be a more candid discussion than he was prepared for, why not go all-out. He chose to ignore that one, and head straight for the answer she didn’t know she was looking for. He looked at her for a moment before-hand, searching his mothers face for what he didn’t quite know. But this was it, this was the moment of truth. Of course, he had hoped to get a few more glasses of wine into her before he revealed his big secret, but now was just as good a time as any.
”No, ma. I didn’t enlist.” His voice was quiet, hoarse perhaps from the cough, perhaps from the tense feeling that had a death-grip on every part of his body. He forced his arms to move, shifting up in his chair to make sliding his hand in his pocket a little more easily. He unfolded the old black leather wallet and retrieved from in it the letter he had been reading over and over again for the last few weeks. He kept the letter in his hand while he shoved his wallet back in his pocket, sitting up straight again while he did the unfolding for her. Perhaps it was a stalling mechanism, but there was only so much unfolding he could do before he’d rip the sheet clean in half, completely defeating the purpose of the evening. He took a deep breath, letting it out in a hefty sigh as he reached across the table to give her the very warn piece of paper. He said nothing, only folded his hands in his lap to wait until the sheer force of Virginia Jenner came to life in the, he assumed it was supposed to be tranquil restaurant. If there was ever a time he needed a beer…
May 25, 2010
Dear Mr. Jenner,
We are pleased to inform you of your acceptance into the Music Without Borders program. We are sure you will enjoy your time with us, and look forward to your arrival in Brisbane.
Included in this package is a list of requirements we request you fill out and return to us before your temporary relocation. If you have any questions regarding the customs documents, please contact your local embassy. Also included is information on living accommodations and expectations while you are on campus. Please read through each of them carefully and if you have any questions regarding this documentation or concerns you have about the program itself, please contact your assigned councilor, Andrew Grimshaw, whose business card is attached to your “Important Dates” brochure.
Thank you again for applying for this position, we look forward to seeing you in the fall.
Dean of Admissions
Shaw Music Academy
1342 East Point Drive
Virginia Jenner - June 28, 2010 06:09 PM (GMT)
Her suspicion reached a peak: He broke out in a coughing fit at her words, and her brow quirked again, wondering which part it was. Love, or enlistment? The attention his outburst had gained from the other patrons - as well as a sideways glance from a maitre d' who knew better than to challenge them - was insignificant to her and barely noted: She kept her eyes on Kieran, searching for indication as he took a sip of his water, clearing away the coughs. She was only happy to hear that he hadn't enlisted - it would have been greatly objected to, to say the least - but his voice made her freeze in uncomfortable tension, waiting for whatever was to come, this mysterious news that was apparently located in his wallet. A picture of a bastard child. She could almost picture it, three months old and already pierced and tattooed, but the mental image was too ridiculous for her to entertain for more than a few moments, while he got a piece of paper from his wallet, put the wallet back in his pocket and meticulously unfolded it. She waited, both impatiently and dreading the conclusion of this obvious stalling, realizing that if it was grave enough to make him stall, it was grave indeed. She took the worn piece of paper when it was offered, however, eyes watching her son skeptically while she turned it to read, and not leaving him until she was ready to take in the black type on the folded and obviously read and re-read piece of paper.
The formality of it tipped her off first. Mr. Jenner, words used to her son only when he was guilty of some kind of mischief, words directed at him by figures of authority that had her grinding her teeth at their tone. His actions were usually rendered insignificant at that; how dared they take that tone with her son, when it was clearly her duty, and her right alone, to take any kind of tone with him, to scold or praise whatever action he might have carried out? But this tone, it was rather different from that tone; it was formal, yet kindly, preceded by a jovial "dear" that made her stomach tighten to knots, though flutter like a million tiny wings at the same time. It was undeniably exciting, knowing that her son had received a formal letter with such a kind beginning, but terrifying, utterly nerve-wracking, considering the context in which he presented it to her, and the clear trepidation - to her, at least - he'd displayed upon handing her the letter. They were pleased to inform him - for the sake of argument, she decided to be pleased, as well, for however long it would last - and now her, however intentional that was, of his acceptance into the Music Without Borders program. How delightful, but she hadn't the foggiest what it all meant. She skimmed on.
Her eyes halted suddenly, frozen in a stunned silence when her eyes came upon a familiar word, a familiar place - she'd been there once, and never again, though not through a decision to never look back - a location she could place on a map in her sleep. Brisbane. Her heart skipped a beat, the pieces of the puzzle all melted together, fitting, at last, but turning the image they presented into a floating smudge. Her hand trembled a little, but she stopped it at will, seeing the slight shake of the piece of paper in her hand, and deciding that it was no way to present herself. She cooled, she calmed, she bristled under a blank exterior her own father had taught her to perfect - volatile, passionate people, they had to go to the same lengths to stay calm when they felt themselves shaken like branches on a wind-touched tree - and stilled after a moment. She kept reading, slowly, judging, filled with reprehension for these people, these people who would be taking her youngest child away from her - and she, who had always supported reaching outside the borders of your own life and developing yourself in the vastness of the world! She, who had entertained dreams and notions of travelling the world alone and seeing everything in her youth, and who had stayed, instead, in a house with a child and a man, one more child to follow. She was happy for him, happy for his chance to experience everything she hadn't, happy for his chance to develop music, like he wanted to. She was no happy at all, however, for the people who would be receiving him, and not happy with them, either, despite the opportunity they had offered her son. Grimshaw - it sounded positively evil, and she narrowed her eyes at the name before reading on, re-reading the assurance that they looked forward to seeing him in the fall eight times before going through the motions of noting address and location once more.
She started once more at the top, taking in the date, and once more, her eyes narrowed for a moment, and she had to fight the urge to pass her son the seething look she knew was forming in her dark eyes. No need for that, Virginia. Her father's steady voice droned in her head, softened by the influence of age and the heightened wisdom that came with it, soothing and rough, but to her, undeniably smooth and a source of much comfort and safety, like she wanted her own to be to her children, despite her lacking ability to convey affection through gentle words and soft embraces.
She cleared her throat carefully, folded the letter and placed it on the table, fingers pressing it down on the hard surface as she slid it across to him, apparently finished with it, having seen what she needed to see. She released the document when it was halfway across the table, leaving it beside an unlit candle to wait for him to pick it up, and withdrew her hand calmly, placing it, with the other, in her lap as she looked across and found her son's face, seeking out his eyes. "Have you filled out the necessary paperwork yet?" Her tone was calm, though she detected the slightest touch of a tremble in her voice and cleared her throat again in hopes of dispelling it. "You've certainly had plenty of time to." She couldn't help the touch of accusation in her tone, despite her efforts to appear cool as a cucumber about this news - horrifying, to say the least, especially when it was joined with such a mixture of pride and joy for him - and shifted her eyes away from him for a composure-regaining moment, seeing, as she did so, the waiter approaching with a stemmed glass on a tray, containing a deep, red liquid she could almost taste on her lips already. She watched him as he approached, keeping her eyes on him until he arrived and gave her the glass, accepted it as graciously as possible, but with the subtlety she always employed in these situations, and took a sip right away, nodding her approval at the waiter. "Bring the bottle," she ordered as he cleared away the empty glass in front of her, and saw in him a moment's pause before he nodded, borderline perturbed, but immediately accommodating. He scurried off. She took another sip of her wine.
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - July 18, 2010 10:59 PM (GMT)
It was the most tense hour Kieran could ever remember being involved with. Perhaps it hadn’t been a whole hour – perhaps it hadn’t even been half of that. Maybe it hadn’t even been five minutes, but did it matter? He discovered then that time didn’t mean much when you only had a little bit left. Be it an hour or five minutes, the end was dark and bleak, with no hope of escape. You could look at it both ways really. If you had an hour left you had more time to wallow in your own self-pity while saying goodbye to the ones you loved. If you had five minutes, you could say fuck it all and do what you wanted. Of course, in this particular situation, be it an hour or five minutes, Kieran was in the ultimate limbo – scared for his life and what would most certainly be a painful and slow death. He should have told her. He should have told her when he had applied, he should have told her and he should have updated her on a daily basis. He couldn’t read her face, had never tried when he didn’t understand it like this. He knew each of her laughs and what each of them meant. He knew each turn of the eyebrow, and which ones he, Kieran Jenner-Carmichael, should be afraid of. But this? This was a look he had never seen on her face before, and one he was sure meant imminent doom for all within a 500m radius should anyone more too quickly.
He looked down at the page shaking in her hand, a mere tremble before her incredible control put a stop to it. He cleared his throat and slumped down in his chair unknowingly. Bastard, he thought to himself. He was an undeniable bastard. Kieran reached out for the water glass sitting in front of him and sipped idly, carefully even, waiting for her to finish reading and for what would come next. Usually he could read her – his nineteen years had been spent reading the woman that had brought him into this world, and now? He had no idea. He watched the changes in her face, the furrow of her brow and found himself mirroring them, wondering what was going through her head. If he thought slowly enough, he could see past the rage she might feel at not being told sooner that her only boy was leaving for eight months come the end of August. She might just be proud that the boy who had so often told his mother, a university professor, that he had no plans on going to school – that he was going to find his way into the world of rock and roll come hell or high water. At least this way he’d have something to fall back on…a moment of thinking sensibly had led him to this moment now, and he hoped that maybe she’d see the light in this.
He looked away from her uncomfortably as she started to fold the letter back up. He missed the part where she slid it back to him, so carefully, instead placing his fingers under his chin in a pondering moment. What came next? She would have to be the first one to speak – he didn’t know if he could find the words. What were the words? At least if she had questions, he could go off of those, though perhaps with a little trouble. He looked back to her when she looked away, swallowing an uncomfortable lump in his throat. What he was waiting for came with the crisp sound of her voice. “Have you filled out the necessary paperwork yet? You’ve certainly had enough time.” Had she not been looking, Kieran would have winced. The dig was testament to his current self-proclaimed piss-poor son-dom, and he shifted once more in his seat to sit up straight again. He opened his mouth to speak but found himself interrupted by a guy that looked about his age with a glass of wine for his mother. He watched her movements as she reached for the glass, and found himself completely unsurprised when she asked for the whole bottle. A quick smile played on his face that he fought with a vengeance and had tidly tucked away in his back pocket by the time her focus had turned back to him. Perhaps, for the first time when it came to paperwork with deadlines, Kieran nodded a yes.
“Yeah, everything’s been taken care of. I’m still waiting for my VISA, but it should be here in a few days.” He replied, clearing his throat gruffly again. What else could he say? He thought about it for a second, bringing his hand back to his chin as he thought of the words he could use with her. This was his mother though, and who else in the world could he be more honest with? “I’m sorry. For not…telling you sooner.” He began, looking to her face. The lines were set – his mother had a wicked poker face. “I just need to get out of Bishop for a while, ma.” Kieran dropped his hand back down to the arm of the chair he was so uncomfortably sitting in and looked down at his knees. Wasn’t that just the truth? He was a born and raised Bishop City boy, and he had no doubt he’d come back here one day. But there was so much now that he wanted to get away from, that he needed to get away from before he could refigure out exactly what he wanted. He had always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, and that hadn’t changed. Australia had been a whim, and he was sure what he did there would follow suit. He looked back to her, patiently waiting for what she had to say next. But if he had to pick between the two? Love would have been the answer.
Virginia Jenner - September 12, 2010 06:42 PM (GMT)
She saw him shifting in his seat after her question was administered, sitting up straight where he'd formerly been slouched back, a position she couldn't recall seeing him entering into. No doubt she'd been occupied reading the letter that still lay on the table, at the edge of her line of vision, imposing on the image of her son and attempting to draw her attention to it. She inwardly read out a Tristan Tzara poem to herself, calming herself in the steady beat of rhythm and meticulously combined sounds, locking away her aggression for now, and trying to find a healthier release for them than what she wanted to do: To grab the damned letter and rip it to shreds, and then preferably stomp on it and empty Kieran's glass of water on it and exclaim There! That's what I think of your little letter! No, such childish displays did her no good anymore; she could get away with it when she was younger and didn't have the responsibility of knowing better rested on her shoulders, but now, her age worked against her instincts. It was easy for her to explode, but her age meant that she had to make the effort to fight it. She wanted to make the effort, and Kieran and Anna-Maria had been a large part of her motivation. They still were. He was, right now.
He answered her, and a sting travelled through her body, shifting from one location to the next in a matter of seconds, soon having covered her entire body from top to bottom. She could only guess as to how long he'd been planning this, and how long he'd been working on it, but any guess she could possible made lead her to one result alone: She'd been blind for ages. How much had he been doing behind her back? Had she been so consumed by her own affairs that she hadn't even noticed her own son scurrying about, preparing for an overseas journey that would take him away for... She didn't even know how long, and the flurry of realizations she came to as Kieran spoke those words and cleared his throat challenged her willpower to the extreme, making her concentrate as hard as she could to keep her outward appearance calm, still, rigid, cold - though the latter was not entirely intentional, simply a lucky side-effect of the focus that went into keeping her emotions on the inside. She lifted her glass and took another sip of wine, swallowing it as calmly as she could, and waiting until she'd gently set the glass back down on the table before she spoke again. "I see." Her words were chilled, even she could sense that, and perhaps more chilled than they usually were, and she inwardly ordered herself to remove that extra edge. Far be it for her to alleviate her son's guilt - she was far too angry for that - but she didn't need to add to it. Or maybe she did? Maybe she did.
“I’m sorry. For not…telling you sooner. I just need to get out of Bishop for a while, ma.” She stared at him as his hand dropped and his eyes followed, turning down and taking in his knees, rather than facing her across the table. Her gaze turned sharper, more focused, and she released some of the effort put into keeping her emotions in check to allow a wave of frustration to travel across her features. "I hate it when you call me that." Childish. Immature. She reined herself back in, solidifying her expression once more, and containing it somewhere between stoicism and frustration, not quite as cool as it had been moments earlier, but infused with some of her usual heat. She lifted the glass to her lips again, paused for a moment with it suspended there, a fraction of an inch from her lips, and finally took the sip she wanted, a larger one than the previous ones. She placed the glass back on the table, taking less care than before. "We all need to get away, sometimes," she stated as casually as possible, staring at the glass of wine, her hand resting at the base of its stem, fingers idly and slowly tapping against the table.
She took a breath and lifted her eyes, finding her son again, and her features chilled once more and hardened. Her eyes narrowed for a moment, lips pursing as she considered her options. She could open her arms wide and offer him forgiveness for everything, simply concluding that shit happens and carrying on from there, or she could press the matter, express the mildest bitterness and leave him suspended in guilt for a while longer. Really, it wasn't a choice at all. Virginia knew very well that when it came to forgiveness, she took her sweet time, every time. "Why wait so long?" Her tone was ripe with challenge, bordering on the childish once more, or so she felt, and her chin lifted slightly as she spoke the words. She arched a brow, and the sharpness in her eyes faded a bit, though perhaps not entirely. "Why didn't you just tell me when you applied?"
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - October 20, 2010 06:28 AM (GMT)
He couldn’t explain with words how he felt right now for three different reasons. The first one, and probably the most important actually, was that he had never been gifted with words. He could speak, sure. He could string a line of words together to make a coherent sentence, but for it to have meaning? It took a lot. A lot that he didn’t always have to give. Perhaps that much was his own fault, but it was a part of him that he couldn’t quite beat. The second reason was sitting right in front of him, looking at him with an expression on her face that he both knew and didn’t know. He had seen the body language before – the stoic, holier-than-thou-and-I’m-not-even-trying posture that scared him stiff every time he saw it, mixed with a kind of hurt he had never seen himself being the cause of before. This ties in with reason number three; he had never felt this way before. Kieran had made mistakes, this much he knew. He knew now that Australia hadn’t been a mistake, but not telling her had. He had had his reasons and he had thought them reasonable at the time, but knowing he had hurt one of the only people that had ever cared about him, even if it was in her own strange way, absolutely killed him. He swallowed uncomfortably and cleared his throat shortly after. It was two words that sent the red-hot lightning bolt of guilt shooting down his spine again. I see.
She saw, but did she really see? Could she ever really see? Through no fault of her own, of course. He had no doubt that there was no one in this world who knew him better than his mother did but there were still things he kept locked inside from the world. For whose protection, he still wasn’t sure but they were there, lying dormant in his chest like a hundred pound boulder that wouldn’t shift. He didn’t know if this would change in the coming months. Perhaps the change in atmosphere, in breathing air could diminish some of this weight. He didn’t believe in the act of crossing fingers or the tale that it actually worked, but he would hope against hope that perhaps it could take away some of the anger that had built up inside of him over these last years. Kieran looked from his mother, to the table and back again. I hate it when you call me that. She had snapped, but this time he had to fight the mildest hint of amusement off his face. She did hate it when he called her ma, something that had driven him to call her by the fond name more frequently. Inspiration, you could call it, for irritation. Perhaps irritating her with such a miniscule thing now wasn’t such a great idea, but Kieran had never had many great ideas. He had to make do with what he had. We all want to get away sometimes.
In the last five minutes, she had been all over the map. Cold, harsh, indifferent…she was impossible to read when she was being like this and it drove him insane. However, the very tiny logical part of his brain told him that she probably had the right to be all over the map on this one. Hell, even he was all over the map on this one – how could she not be? He was leading her on a wild goose chase, meant for nowhere but very real disappointment in him for not telling her sooner. And then the question he had been waiting for arose, and he swallowed heavily again. Why wait so long? Why didn’t you just tell me when you applied? It was a perfectly simple question and as previously stated one he had wholly expected. There were so many answers though, and he had spent a lot of the time leading up to this meeting deciding which one he was going to give her. At first, he thought she might try to talk him out of it. Perhaps she would have, but in later weeks he thought that once she had warmed up to the idea she might have been okay with it. Perhaps if she had had more than a few weeks to prepare. Had he been a better son, this might have been the case. Mind you, had he been a better son, perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided in the first place.
He sat up straight again and cleared his throat, reached forward for his water glass and took another sip from it before he could look back to her to reply. “I…” He huffed, frustrated more with himself than anything else and tried again, deciding that perhaps this time it was best to be honest. “I’m tired of disappointing people.” It took everything he had, but he looked her straight in the eye when he said it. “I didn’t want to start this whole thing and fall short. Again. I figured if I didn’t tell anyone about it and nothing happened, I wouldn’t have to be disappointed, and I wouldn’t have to disappoint anyone.” He sighed heavily now, feeling the weight of the world and his words pressing down on him with the look in her eyes. And then it did happen, and I didn’t know how to tell you.” It wasn’t often that the son of Virginia Jenner was candid like this, and the chance of it happening again any time soon was slim. But he could at least try, for her sake. "I'm just tired of being the guy with the plans that never go anywhere."
Virginia Jenner - November 27, 2010 01:11 AM (GMT)
The risk of softening was imminent at all times. She could feel it creeping up behind her, taking the shape of that cunning cat of female sympathy, the clever feline of motherly affection. Because he was uncomfortable, because he was nervous, because he felt guilty, no doubt - a rare occurrence, but it wasn't an emotion she demanded of him very often - and because he seemed so sheepish where he sat, shifting and clearing his throat, sipping from his water glass, struggling for words. She'd never been the perfect mother; she was more than aware of that. When Anna was born, she'd found it difficult enough just holding the small creature in her hands when she cried, and that knack for comfort that women were supposed to naturally develop after producing offspring had never set in properly. She hadn't cuddled her children close and kissed their boo-boos better - she hadn't practiced over-protection and screamed with horror when they hurt themselves. She would say that she had let them live, but she knew, even so - no matter what she said - that she had never been the perfect mother.
Perhaps they would have enjoyed a cuddle and a there-there every now and then; a display of pure affection, rather than her usual candid surmising of the situation, neatly tied together with a quick 'it's a scratch, kiddo; you'll live'. She couldn't help but think, for a moment, that Kieran might have told her, then. He might have divulged this detail of his life if she'd been the kind of mother who would hold her children close and let herself be vulnerable in their presence, and by that permission permit them, too, to be vulnerable in her presence. She sighed quietly, eyes lowering to the tablecloth and studying it absent-mindedly as Kieran spoke again. He was tired of disappointing people.
Her eyes lifted again, curiously observing her son and noting his mannerisms as he spoke. She'd always encouraged her children to be honest with her; always urged them to tell the truth, and always prided herself in being the kind of mother who wouldn't bring the house down if the news was bad. But had she ever been able to inspire such a straightforward delivery of emotional conflict from her son? He brow furrowed, in confusion as well as concern; confusion, because he was offering this up so blatantly, and concern, because it troubled her that he felt this way. She had never wanted him to feel this way.
She met his eyes and nothing about her faltered as he finished his piece. For a moment, she was quiet, merely taking him in from across the table, concentrating on those eyes - there was a genuine look in them, she felt; a strong suggestion that he meant every word he said - and there it was again. That silly cat, curling up on her lap, forcing the hardened look in her eyes to slowly fade and soften lightly. It wasn't a normal state this cat was forcing her eyes into; it felt odd to display sympathy, almost uncomfortable to tilt her eyes in that way. "I am proud of you," she stated quietly, nodding slowly, swallowing hard. She lifted her glass of wine and took a sip, allowing that sense of discomfort at the way the cat was wrapping around her. No, that knack for comfort had never been something she possessed, but heavens if it didn't try to work its way into her from time to time.
She shook her head and looked down at the table again for a moment, and when she lifted her eyes to meet her son's again, she'd conquered the cat, but come away with the lesson. "You never disappoint me, Kieran," she stated genuinely, but her face was hardened again now; not quite the mask of disapproval, but rather her usual look of stone-faced pride, "My expectations are far too low for that." Finally, the moment broke away from her, and she smiled at him, her lips curving more to the right than they did to the left in a near-smirk. "And now... Your plans are going somewhere." She lifted her glass again, patiently taking a sip from the deep red liquid in a pause between words. The taste filled her mouth, traces of leather and earth piquing her senses before she swallowed and let the liquid leave a light sizzle in her throat. She put the glass down gently, smiling lightly in an almost content way when she heard the stem click against the surface. "You should be happy."
Kieran Jenner-Carmichael - February 20, 2011 06:09 AM (GMT)
All of the things he had been dreading were slowly turning into things that he wished would happen. He wished she would yell, throw something. It would be easier that way. It would be easier than sitting here in this stony silence, shortened only by short phrases and simple words. It would be easier than wondering what was going on in her head while he tried to sort out exactly what it was going through his. Why hadn’t he done this before? Why hadn’t he been honest with her? But then it all came back down to the simplest thing – of all people in this world, she was the last one that he wanted to let down. His plan had backfired in a way not even he could understand –unbeknownst to him, she was thinking all the wrong things and it was his fault. Had he had access to that brilliant mind for just a second, he would see that she was doubting the way she had been his mother. When it came down to it, it was one of the only things in his life he had no desire to change. Maybe she hadn’t been like all other mothers. Sure sometimes he had had to dust himself off and keep going, but who would he be now had she coddled him?
It wasn’t even a thought in his mind. He could only think now of the way her face almost softened and the quick way she bounced back to her ever-stoic self. He was curious to know what it had been to bring out that brief moment. Had he imagined it? Was it wishful thinking? Either way, he was brought out of his internal crisis by the sound of her voice on the other side of the table. I am proud of you. Kieran had never doubted that. Not once. He had given her cause to be utterly heartbroken at the way her son had turned out – given her cause to tell the little lie that the kid that almost got kicked out of school again, the kid that had been caught in on private property, the kid that had done the same thing time and time again was not hers. But she hadn’t. No, instead she had been the one to stand up for him. She had been the one to make other people see that they had no right to reprimand him. He was her son. Nobody else’s. He would have it no other way.
You never disappoint me. My expectations are far too low for that. He couldn’t do anything but chuckle. That was more like it. He reached for his glass of water and took another sip, letting the cool slide down his throat welcomingly. He wished it were that glass of red though. Preferably that bottle of red, that bottle of red that he could demolish more easily than was appropriate for such a nice place. “Well in that case, I’m glad I’ve managed to stay consistent.” At least he had that, right?
And now your plans are going somewhere. You should be happy. Was he happy? The correct answer was yes. Absolutely. Over the fucking moon. He was up and now it was just a matter of time before he was out. This, telling his mother, had been the only thing keeping him from soaring through the roof. He knew he’d come back – he had always known he’d come back. Bishop City wasn’t the kind of place one grew up in and never returned to. From his experience, anyway. He needed an escape route, but his whole life was here. Anna had come back, after all. He knew very well where he belonged, but the adventurer in him needed to see what else was out there. Where better than the other side of the world, right? “I am happy.” He finally stated, offering his mother the smallest of smiles before he took another sip from his water glass and set it down. “No wild parties while I’m gone though, eh? I know how wily you Jenner women are when then men folk aren’t around.” It was a futile attempt at humor in the current situation, and he was glad when seemingly out of nowhere the young waiter appeared with the bottle of wine she had requested what seemed like a forever ago.
Never before had a bottle of wine been more welcome.
Virginia Jenner - April 5, 2011 06:15 PM (GMT)
This was his chance, she thought to herself. It was the very same chance she had missed all those years ago, when the test was positive and she found herself unexpectedly propelled into the world of motherhood. She wouldn't call her chance wasted, per say; fond of careful wording as she was, she would not associate the word waste with either of her two children, but they had come with the very distinct side-effect of having every plan she ever made and every dream she ever dreamt forcefully taken from her. She didn't want her children to have to face the same reality, or to in any way inhibit them from experiencing everything they could experience. In a way, this was her chance, too, for that very reason. Her chance to prove that, if she hadn't accomplished anything else as a mother, she at least accomplished the task of holding her children's needs and desires higher than herself, and to value their accomplishments higher than their transgressions.
With Kieran, that had always been a particularly imminent responsibility.
And so she smiled. She smiled and chuckled lightly, and nodded to communicate that yes, he had managed to stay consistent, and in ways that were so similar to the ways she had stayed consistent at that age that it was impossible to disregard the similarities. She had done this, too - she had kept a piece of truth from the parents who so vehemently encouraged honesty. In that light, she was infinitely happy for what she had just been told, even if there was that bitter after-taste of the information having been kept from her: At least he hadn't just announced that he was going to be a parent. At least her son wasn't so much like her that she would be put to that test and have to discover if was every bit as tolerant as his grandparents had been.
His words brought back that slightly slanted near-smirk, and she parted her lips to speak, but was interrupted by the sudden return of the waiter. She faced him with an arched brow, issuing a cool, "You're not very quick on your feet, are you?" and watched him shift his weight awkwardly for a few moments before continuing, "Run and fetch another glass, will you?" She turned her eyes back to Kieran, giving the man leave to release a relieved sigh - after all, disgruntlement usually lead to complaints, but it seemed that he had dodged a bullet this time - but her quirked brow didn't rest yet. "We're celebrating." He didn't inquire about her son's age or hesitate for even a second; putting the bottle on the table, he issued a hasty "yes, ma'am" that Virginia took a moment to resent as he scurried off to do her bidding. She turned her cool stare at the man's turned back as he left, narrowing her eyes a bit. She couldn't stand it when young men called her ma'am.
After a moment, she shook her head, picking up her menu on the table and, as though nothing had passed between then and now, continued on with the conversation they had paused when the waiter returned. "My house, my decision." Her voice was sharp as a school mistress's, but accompanied by a playful glance cast over the top of her menu, before it travelled again over her options. It was of no use to her, now; she had already made her decision long ago. Shaking her head, she put the menu back down, leaned forward and rested her elbows demonstratively on the table in the way that sophisticated people never should, fixing her son with a scheming smile. "I have any number of ideas for what to do with your room..." she suggested teasingly, ushering her resentment of the situation to the back and shifting instead into her usual position of innocuous derision.
She didn't lean back when the waiter returned and placed a second glass of wine in front of Kieran, hesitating for a split second as he looked the boy over, but continuing to open the bottle and pour him a glass. As the glass neared its fullest state, the waiter asked in a tentative and light voice, "Are you ready to order now, or do you need some more time?" Finally, she sat back, crossing her arms over her chest and smiling her most hollow smile at the young man. "I certainly don't need any more time." Her voice was near lively. She shifted her eyes to her son. "How about you, Kieran?"