Apologies for the late post. Next one will be on time! -NP💔
Scarlett wasn’t sure how she let Noah talk her into swinging by the room he shared with his brother. She told herself that she was indebted to the nineteen-year-old for both healing her and giving up his room, and so that was her reason for going along with his request. Or that she had to humor him after their embarrassing encounter that morning. Still, the newcomer found herself nervous as she made her way to the boy’s side of the corridor.
This will be a good opportunity, she analyzed. I need to learn more about my court mates.
The Callahan brothers stayed in the room across from Eric, making their rooms the first ones on that side of the second floor. Their door was ajar, and she could hear the muffled sounds of words exchanged when she raised her fist, poised to knock.
Then the door suddenly opened, and a young man came bounding out without looking forward. “Alright, alright! I’ll take farm duty tomorr–oof!” Isaac ran right into Scarlett, nearly toppling them both over. “Ah! Sorry, Scar!”
“It’s fine,” she shrugged off the younger teenager’s apology and stepped out of his way. “And don’t let Noah give you too hard a time. I helped him this morning.”
“Wait, seriously?” he scoffed, his expression a mix between shock and amusement as he glanced over his shoulder. Sable black curls topped his head, and his coffee-brown eyes shone with suspicion. “You made it seem like you had to do it all yourself, you lyin’ ass…”
“Yeah, yeah. Go make breakfast,” Noah grumbled with a smirk, shoving his brother out the door. “Scar and I got shit to do.”
“Whatever!” sang the younger brother. He was making his way back up the corridor when he called out, “Don’t let him push you ‘round, girl!”
Scarlett frowned. “I won’t.”
However, Noah scoffed at her vow. “You mean starting now? ‘Cause you are here, so that means it’s worked up ‘til this point.”
She cocked an eyebrow at the healer and crossed her arms. “You want my help or not?”
He turned to go back into the bedroom, waving her in. “I dunno if I want it, but I sure as hell need it.”
Scarlett entered, surveying the bedroom. The space seemed to be split down the middle; two twin beds sat parallel to the left and right walls, divided by a little over five feet of space that was decorated with a slate grey area rug and a rustic accent table. The table was tall and minimalist, standing level with both beds and having no drawers or attached cubbies, but Scarlett noticed that six white storage boxes were slid beneath it. They were in stacks of three and decreased in size with each higher level box. Atop the table were two desk lamps, a tablet, a laptop computer, an uneven stack of books ranging from novels of various genres to recipes and self-help guides, and a cluster of small, adorable little plush creatures. The right bed had been stripped of its bedding, while the left was dressed in a creamy white quilt that featured an illustrious floral pattern that matched the two pillows. Coral, navy, forest green, and mauve were all knitted into the quilt, and the edges were lined with a smoky grey chevron border at least three inches thick. The walls above that same bed were covered with a collage of posters and magazine pages of long-deceased celebrities and movies she had never heard of, and the walls over the opposite bed, while bare, saw hints that similar decor had hung there, the proof in the form of discolored squares and rectangles arranged in a neat, straight fashion. At the foot of each bed were an ottoman and a wicker basket with a lid.
Scarlett turned around to study the wall along the door she had just entered through; the right side had shelves hung up that displayed books and knickknacks, all situated over a cream-colored writing desk, while the left side was as bare as the bed and walls it faced, save for a rustic-looking vanity. Two wooden accordion doors were situated between the vanity and the bed, leading to what she presumed to be the closet.
“I went ahead and cleaned out the guest house yesterday,” Noah explained as he began pulling three of the six white boxes out from beneath the accent table. “And I already moved my decorations from here to there–I figured that that’s the most personal part. Now’s when I need your brawn.”
Scarlett cocked an eyebrow once again as she considered the different routes to most efficiently complete their tasks. The guest house is at least twelve meters from this one and has two stories–and I don’t think any of the bedrooms are on the ground level. “What are we moving in terms of large furniture?”
“Uh…” The healer grimaced and shot her an apologetic look. “My bed, that vanity, and one of the two dressers in the closet.”
When the newcomer threw him a glare that had, “Are you serious?” written all over it, he remarked: “Aaaaand now you know why I asked you. Alice says she’s too busy, Aria’s in her own little world, Eric’s doing whatever with Julian, Isaac’s got kitchen duty, Gin and Chloe aren’t exactly laborers–”
“What about Wellington?” she suggested. “I mean, I have no problem carrying your clothes and those baskets down the stairs and over to the other house, but that heavy stuff will be a problem for you and me. At least with his teleportation, we can have him transport that crap.”
He frowned. “Easy to call it crap when it ain’t yours…”
She rolled her eyes and began walking out of the room. “I’m waking him up. Start taking shit, I’ll help when I get back.”
Scarlett was already back in the hallway when she heard Noah snicker. “Oh, got brains and brawn, huh?”
Wellington, who was already awake and dressed when she knocked on his door, consented to help his comrades with a hint of his smile on his lips. The three of them got to work almost immediately; the teleporter took the heavy furniture over first, and once he had completed that task he took the ottoman and boxes down to the first floor, allowing for Scarlett and Noah to retrieve them more easily than if they had to trudge back up the stairs. He offered to help more, even suggesting to teleport the rest to the guest house, but the elder teens thanked him for his assistance and sent him on his way.
He’s a good kid, Scarlett mused as he disappeared, his ability accompanied by the sound of a flute playing a few notes. He’s loyal and eager to help–unlike these other self-absorbed assholes.
“Who decides the chore schedule?” she asked out of nowhere. The two teenagers had been arranging the furniture in Noah’s new bedroom to music from an old radio; Scarlett had come to find that the Zeroua Court had an extensive collection of compact discs, cassette tapes, and vinyl records, all boasting a wide assortment of music. The little round radio was playing songs by a female rapper with a soft voice and introspective lyrics.
Noah lowered the volume on the mini-boombox as he thought for a brief moment. “We all kind of do.”
Scarlett frowned. “That’s not exactly an answer.”
“Well, our methods have changed since we first started,” he shrugged, hoisting one of the white storage boxes into a far corner of the room. “After Alice recruited the first of us, we realized the best way to protect our families while preparing for the mission was to live separate from them. It was hella weird for our parents, but they’d all heard rumors about angels and demons and all that from traveling traders, so they let us do our own thing. This place used to be Alice’s great-great-grandpa’s or something, and her parents gave it to us.”
“Let me get this straight,” Scarlett paused from organizing the beauty products on Noah’s vanity. “You were one of the first recruits, and Alice’s family just gave our court their property?”
The healer had already placed two of the boxes in the corner and was returning to his bed for the third when he hesitated by the newcomer. “I mean, yeah. The Valentines sorta founded the colony after the plague hit; her parents are on the colony’s council, and since we all knew that the Poseideans were protective of the tribes and colonies they came from, it only seemed logical for them to give us our own space so that we could protect them in turn.”
She rolled her eyes and resumed her task. “Yeah, and what a fine job you’re doing, letting the Poseideans do all the work.”
Noah huffed, half-amused. “Says the angel who don’t even have a power. At least I can heal our people, and my power has granted us a treaty with the Poseideans that has led to our peaceful lives.”
“Whatever,” she grumbled. Hate to admit it, but he has a point. “You never explained the chore situation, though.”
“Well, I would have, if someone hadn’t interrupted so much!” he teased as he began plucking hangers of clothes from his bed, lifting them off the ground, and escorting them to his walk-in closet. “As I was saying, since we were living on our own, we had to figure out the whole chore thing. My momma suggested it be a sorta rotating schedule, you know? Like, we draw names for the first week, and every week after that we would rotate the chores. The issue there was that not everyone liked doing every chore, and usually those who didn’t like something did a shit job of it. Plus, we don’t only have weekly chores, but daily ones, so that meant having to draw names more often…”
Noah stopped by the vanity and began rearranging his makeup, which Scarlett had already organized. “After only two months, we were all going crazy. Alice tried enlisting Aria’s help, but…” he sighed. “Look, I love her, but she’s a space case. There’s a reason she hangs out with Alice and Gin a lot–she’s basically a teenage girl trapped in a woman’s body. Sure, she’s emotionally mature, but her common sense just ain’t all there. Her head’s always up in the clouds, so when Alice asked for her help, it was no surprise when she couldn’t come up with any solutions.”
“Okay…” she scoffed, pointing at his reorganized makeup. His lipsticks, which were previously stacked together, had been rearranged by first shade, then size, all lined up in a row before his vanity’s attached rectangular mirror. “Was that necessary?”
“Yes,” he muttered. “I need to have them this way.”
Scarlett blinked and took a step back, her cinnamon eyes scanning the room. Noah had, in fact, moved his decorations from his old bedroom to the new; posters and photographs hung from the sage green walls in either square or rectangle frames, all spaced out appropriately and arranged so that the overall result made a rectangle shape at the center of the wall opposite of the door. The sharply angled headboard of his twin bed was centered against the adjoining wall, and on either side were two wooden nightstands found in the guest home that matched one another. The dresser and wicker hamper were somewhere in the closet, and the ottoman sat between the vanity and the corner storage bins. Wooden shelves were hung on either side of the bedroom door, perfectly level and at the exact same height, each one housing books organized by height and thickness from between simple iron bookends. Two medium-sized, peanut-brown shag rugs ran along either side of the bed; neither floor piece extended beyond the footboard. All the furniture lined the walls perfectly, leaving nothing out of place.
Her eyes were wide as she understood. Orderly to the point of perfectionism. OCD, maybe?
She regained her composure in time for Noah to turn spin around and give the room a once over. “Yeah, I know. Isaac always makes fun of how I organize, but did you see the absolute mess on his side of the room? I hate to imagine how drastically the room will change now that I’m not there to offset his chaos…”
Scarlett shrugged. “I mean, his bed was made, and I didn’t see anything on the floor, so you gotta give him props for that much, right?”
The healer smirked. “That’s what momma always said. ‘Ain’t everyone like you, Noah, so don’t expect perfection.’ “
“You still haven’t told me who makes the current schedule, and how,” she grumbled as she began taking clothes on hangers from Noah’s bed.
“Sorry,” chuckled Noah. “Been a while since I’ve chatted with someone new. I make the schedule.”
“So why’d you say that you all did?”
“Because we don’t expect people to take part in tasks they don’t like or aren’t good at,” he explained, grabbing another pile of hanging clothes and following Scarlett to the closet. “I take input from everyone regarding who does what chores. Isaac, Alice, and I are good at cooking and meal prep, so we get kitchen duty more than anyone else.”
Scarlett blinked at that revelation. Princess actually gets her hands dirty?
“Aria and Gin are beasts at laundry–they can get everyone’s clothes washed and hung up on the line by lunchtime. Eric isn’t particularly good at or opposed to anything, and Julian’s just a kid, so we tend to stick them on cleaning duty. Wells and Chloe are helpful with everything, so we float them around.”
The newcomer was listening intently as she hung up his clothes one article at a time. “And no one’s particularly fond of farm duty, so that’s where everyone has to pitch in.”
“Not exactly,” Noah offered her a half shrug, already having hung up most of the clothes he had brought. “Eric is real prissy about farm duty, and Chloe’s power helps us get the animals to cooperate, so we keep him off that list and boot her towards the top. Gin thinks the animals have been helping Julian acclimate and open up, so he’s a regular farm hand, too.”
She hung up the last article of clothing in her hands and turned to leave the closet. “And me? What do you think I’d be most helpful with?”
Scarlett was already picking clothes off the bed when he answered: “You give me floater vibes, like Wells and Chloe, but I get the feeling you’ll do more harm than good in the kitchen. Cleaning, laundry, and farm duty all require the volunteers to accomplish menial tasks without putting much thought into it, while cooking requires creativity.”
They met at the doorway to his closet, his empty hands raised in a surrendering motion. “Not saying you can’t be creative–I’m sure that you can. But there are people who thrive off their creativity, and those who can only dip into it, and you seem like the kind of person who would rather perform chores on autopilot.”
“In other words, you think I’m just an empty-headed worker,” she bristled, pushing past him with an arm-full of clothing.
“No, I ain’t said that. Don’t put words in my mouth!” Noah called out over his shoulder. “I said you prefer working on chores that you don’t need to think about–that don’t mean you don’t spend that time thinking. Hell, I bet you do most of your thinkin’ when your hands are busy, right?”
Scarlett sighed. Well, shit. He sees right through me. “Maybe.”
He snorted at her vague-yet-telling response. “Mmhmmm. I know I’m right. It’s the only reason I can think of why you’d insert yourself into chores when I haven’t even put you on the list yet.”
The young woman continued hanging up his clothes, unaware that a smirk was forming on her face. “Okay, so I like to keep busy. Why haven’t you put me on the list, anyway?”
“Alice thought you needed time to acclimate,” Noah revealed as he re-entered the closet, another stack of clothes folded over one arm. He was about to begin hanging them as well when he noticed Scarlett’s handiwork and froze, his eyes twinkling with intrigue.
She frowned at his reaction and passed her eyes over the clothes she had already organized. “What? Did I do it wrong?”
He shook his head, his eyes still on the clothes already hung up. Scarlett had adopted the healer’s organization methods, arranging his clothing first into sections based on the clothing type. Tops were to the left, ordered first by color and then by sleeve length; denim bottoms hung from the right, with the length of pant legs taking priority over the various shades of blue, black, and grey. At the center were Noah’s “other” bottoms, ranging from leggings to sweatpants, all of which were organized by use–lounging, training, or miscellaneous–before she had arranged them by pant leg length and color. Between the tops and “other” bottoms was a small section consisting of one piece outfits, such as overalls and jumpsuits, which were arranged by color and then sleeve and pant leg lengths. The colors all blended perfectly, following his own rainbow scheme that started with white and ended with black, and each color grouping was shaded from light to bold to a shade close to the color that was to follow. Every article of clothing was hung meticulously without a wrinkle in sight.
“It’s perfect,” said the angel, his tone a mixture of relief and fascination, while his eyes shone with curiosity. “That’s another reason why you’d make a great floater–you adapt really well.”Scarlett averted her gaze and hung up the final t-shirt in her hands. You have no idea.