Family Secrets

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#81
Ronan shrugged as Juliette turned down his offer. He had figured she would, but he thought it'd be nice to invite her anyway. "Suit yourself," he said. He glanced to his brother, who had settled onto the couch and turned the Xbox, seemingly having calmed down and recovered from his panic at the earlier confrontation. The boy turned and shuffled off down the staircase.

Kennedy smiled at Juliette as she watched the girl pull the whisks from the stirrer and start to clean them without being asked. "Thank you," Kennedy said, stepping back slightly to let Eva deposit another pancake onto the tray on the counter. Kennedy stood on her toes to pull several dishes from one of the cabinets. "Think you could set the table for me?" she asked Juliette just as the shower stopped upstairs.
 

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#82
Juliette was too occupied with her chore, her breathing, and and the mess of her own thoughts to realize Kennedy had been speaking to her when she said Thank you. She stood on her tiptoes, glad to have started cleaning the whisks before the batter had a chance to stick too much.

When Kennedy moved to grab dishes from a high cabinet, Juliette glanced warily in the direction of their soft clatter sound. The Kennedy turned toward her with a handful and requested she set the table. Juliette took it as an order, as were all requests, and nodded dutifully, turning off the sink and wiping her wet hands on her pajama pants. She took the plates with extra caution and set them on the dining table, one for each chair. She released a small sigh of relief when she finished without having dropped any. Then she moved back toward the kitchen and pulled out enough utensils for everyone, the smell of different kinds of pancakes filling the air. Juliette's stomach rumbled as she shut the utensil cabinet and went back to the table to place them.
 
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#83
As Juliette finished setting the table, Jupiter descended the stairs. They were fully dressed and had done their makeup, the most prominent feature being the sharply winged eyeliner. They had slipped their breast forms into the bra inside their shirt, but it wasn't particularly noticeable under the loose fitting top. "Hey," they said.

Jupiter seemed calmer now, and they glanced around the room for Ronan. Upon not finding him, they looked to Hugo and the rest of the people in the room instead. "I'm sorry," they apologized quietly. "I'm just...tired." They paused to search for the right word before finishing. Eva smiled as she drifted past Jupiter and set the tray of pancakes in the center of the table.

"It's all right," she told them. "Could you grab Ronan from the basement and tell him breakfast is ready?" Jupiter nodded and headed down the stairs, offering Juliette an apologetic smile as they passed her.
 

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#84
Juliette anticipated when Jupiter would return to the kitchen as their shoes clicked on the stairs. She really liked the staircase. It gave her easy warnings for where people were so she wouldn't have to listen for more subtle markers. Plus, the fell-down-the-stairs lie she used to tell at school could be more easily backed up now that there actually were stairs in this house.

Juliette kept her eyes down when Jupiter came in, then went to go clean some of the rest of the kitchen supplied now that Eva seemed done with them. The they apologized. Juliette paused. Would that always seem strange to her? Hearing the words "I'm sorry" from someone that wasn't her? When Eva moved to put the pancakes on the table, Juliette followed suit and put the syrup beside it, finally looking up at Jupiter as they passed and smiled at her. She returned it politely, though their eyeliner reminded her of her old school, of the girls that she tended to watch, that never noticed anyone but each other.
She went back to the sink to get back to cleaning, feeling responsible for finishing the job she started, even as the fresh pancake smell made her mouth water.
 
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#85
A moment or two later, Ronan reappeared at the stop of the stairs, Jupiter trailing him and appearing somewhat annoyed. "Hey," Ronan said, holding up his right hand. A cut ran across his palm, blood beginning to seep from the wound. "Not to be melodramatic, but...I think I'm bleeding."

Kennedy looked over at him, and breathed in a long, exhausted sounding sigh before walking over to the boy and taking him by the wrist to inspect the injury. "It's not deep," she stated, tugging him over toward the sink. "Rinse it off and put a bandage over it and you'll be fine." She drifted past him again, pausing to glance back over her shoulder as the boy obliged and began to rinse his injured palm.

"If I catch you working on that dress without work gloves on again I'm going to hide it from you," she threatened. She didn't mean it, of course, she was just exasperated by her son's carelessness. "You can't work with broken glass like that and expect it not to cut you when you haven't dulled it down."

"Sorry," Ronan apologized as he bandaged his hand. "It's almost finished. I thought I could dull out the last few pieces myself. I couldn't find my gloves." The boy seemed unbothered by his injured hand, his excitement over the dress occupying his mind instead. The dress in question was a slimming black dress, bedecked with a spiral pattern of triangular pieces of broken mirror. He had been working to dull down the sharper edges, but had cut himself on an unfinished piece of the glass.

"Anyway," Kennedy said. "It's time for breakfast."
 

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#86
Juliette turned around as Ronan came up the stairs, bleeding. Her eyes widened and she backed away from the sink as Kennedy tugged him toward it. She tugged down the sleeves of her loose cardigan and stayed out of the way until she remembered where the first aid kit was. She dashed up the stairs and pulled it out from under the upstairs bathroom sink, then sprinted back tot he kitchen to place it next to the sink. She was pretty good at bandaging things, but she doubted she would be the one doing it this time. Nonetheless, she pulled out an alcohol pad and gauze, then moved out of the way again.
"Anyway," Kennedy said. "It's time for breakfast."
Juliette took that as her cue to sit at the kitchen table and stay until everyone got their plates filled before serving herself.
 
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#87
"Thanks," Ronan said, grinning at Juliette as the girl placed the first aid kit on the counter beside her. He bandaged his injured hand before settling down at the table and beginning to fill his plate with food.

"Are you still performing tomorrow? Who else is in the show?" Ronan asked, looking over at Eva as he shoveled a forkful of pancakes into his mouth. "Are we still going?" he paused and glanced over at Juliette. "You could come with us!" he suggested happily. "It'll be fun!"

"I'm going," Eva told him. "Cherie's hosting it, and other than that it's me, Lucy, and Sal. Lita's supposed to be part of Lucy's number but she's technically not performing. Whether or not the rest of you go depends on your behavior. And Juliette doesn't have to go if she doesn't want to. Cherie's a lot to deal with all at once." She paused to take a sip of orange juice. "She's my sister and I love her, but sometimes I feel like I need to nap for three days after I perform with her."

Eva chuckled softly as she spoke. Cherie was a drag queen a few years younger than Eva, and the pair had met several years ago, having learned their performance skills together from Sal, who had run his own bar for several years. A seasoned performer, Sal had often taken it upon himself to help out the younger queens, becoming a parental figure to the ones he saw the most potential in. He was calm, and somewhat stern with his drag children, and was somewhat of a legend among the community.

Cherie, in contrast was loud and wild, outside of drag being a six foot three punk man, whose primary job was fronting a rock band. Most of her performances were dark and macabre, and she had a large stage presence no matter where she was. Lucy and Lita were two of her drag daughters.

"I'm surprised she asked for you again," Kennedy teased. "After you shattered your entire leg the last time you performed in her show."
Eva shot her a playful glare. "That was forever ago," Eva told her. Besides, people tipped well for that death drop anyway. And its not like she hasn't watched me perform in the shows I host with you. She knows I've yet to break another limb."

“I want to go!” Hugo piped up. He shrank back down as the rest of the table turned to look at him. “I’ve never seen Sal perform before,” he said quietly. He looked to Juliette. “You might have fun,” he said. “Everyone at the bar is really nice.”
 
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Ravenbelle

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#88
"Thanks," Ronan said, grinning at Juliette as the girl placed the first aid kit on the counter beside her.
Juliette gave a tiny smile in return before sitting at the table with the others, paying attention to the conversation and surreptitiously serving herself a regular pancake once everyone had some on their plate.
"Are we still going?" he paused and glanced over at Juliette. "You could come with us!" he suggested happily. "It'll be fun!"
Juliette looked up from her pancake with wide eyes, still unsure of what kind of performance event they were talking about. She watched Eva explain some details and chewed on a small piece of her breakfast, trying not to get distracted by everything happening at once. This pancake, easily the best breakfast she'd had in years, was only one of the major factors at the table. The clatter of utensils and scent of the pancakes, plus trying to piece together what their conversation was about without asking stupid questions. She didn't look overwhelmed, but it was still the first meal she'd had with more than once person at the table in a very long time.
"I'm surprised she asked for you again," Kennedy teased. "After you shattered your entire leg the last time you performed in her show."
Eva shot her a playful glare. "That was forever ago," Eva told her. Besides, people tipped well for that death drop anyway. And its not like she hasn't watched me perform in the shows I host with you. She knows I've yet to break another limb."
Juliette stared at their exchange with worried eyes, unknowingly going still mid-chew. She didn't know what a death drop was, but she wasn't sure she wanted to go anywhere that involved the breaking of limbs. She had only ever broken her wrist three times, but she didn't want it to happen again. She swallowed..or gulped? Both.
“I want to go!” Hugo piped up. He shrank back down as the rest of the table turned to look at him. “I’ve never seen Sal perform before,” he said quietly. He looked to Juliette. “You might have fun,” he said. “Everyone at the bar is really nice.”
Bar? Her heart skipped a beat. Nothing good ever happened when Dad came home from a bar. She doubted going to one would make things any better for her. But she wasn't going to argue. She didn't dare, especially when it came to alcohol. Juliette kept her eyes down, cut another piece of her pancake, and accidentally made a screech sound with the knife against her plate. She winced and her shoulders tensed, hoping the conversation would start up again. She didn't look at anybody, as if that would keep them from looking at her.
 
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#89
Jupiter caught Juliette's worried expression at the mention of Eva's broken leg and decided to explain. "Eva was supposed to fall backwards at the end of her drag number and you're supposed to sort of catch yourself to soften the landing on the stage, but she screwed it up and broke her leg instead. Done right you're supposed to stay in one piece." Jupiter snickered. "They're pretty cool to see done. I'm still trying to teach myself."

"Cherie is kind of like our aunt," Ronan added helpfully. "She's Eva's drag sister, which mostly just means they learned their performance skills from the same person, but they're really close anyway. Kind of like siblings. And Cherie has her own drag children she teaches, so they're sort of like cousins. Lita and Lucy are two of them. They're a couple of years older than us, but they're really nice anyway. Cherie is cool too. Loud and kind of all over the place, but she's really sweet."

"Harmless," Eva added, partly to Juliette and partly to herself. "Scary looking and kind of impulsive, but sweet underneath it. Just sometimes does stupid shit without thinking. She's in a band outside of drag and one tried to jump to the stage off a platform, but missed and broke a bunch of ribs."
"I forgot about that," Kennedy whispered, a hand over her mouth as she tried to smother her giggles.
"At least you didn't see it," Eva told her. "I don't think I knew you yet. I had to stand there and watch her do it. She thinks I forgot about it. Nope. She got up and played the rest of the show with a bunch of smashed ribs though, to her credit."

"Sal's nice too," Hugo said. "We don't see him much, but he's nice when we do see him. He's..." the boy trailed off.
"An enigma?" Kennedy offered. "We're never quite sure where he is. He just kind of materializes when we need him. Generally with some kind of semi-cryptic queer wisdom."
 

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#90
Juliette was relieved to her the story behind Eva's injury, since it stopped her from coming up with the worst possible scenarios. But she hoped Jupiter wouldn't hurt themselves attempting it. Ronan chimed in, explaining the event further and she nodded along, doing her best to keep track of the names and the system of relation as the conversation progressed. She had a vague idea of what drag queen shows were like, but had never been to one or understood what it was for. She wouldn't want to mess up with names or explanations later.
Cherie is cool too. Loud and kind of all over the place, but she's really sweet."

"Harmless," Eva added, partly to Juliette and partly to herself. "Scary looking and kind of impulsive, but sweet underneath it. Just sometimes does stupid shit without thinking. She's in a band outside of drag and one tried to jump to the stage off a platform, but missed and broke a bunch of ribs."
"I forgot about that," Kennedy whispered, a hand over her mouth as she tried to smother her giggles.
She winced at the mention of broken ribs. Those were the worst. She remembered having to breathe shallow for nearly a month to keep from causing herself pain all the time. She didn't find it funny the way Kennedy did.
"Sal's nice too," Hugo said. "We don't see him much, but he's nice when we do see him. He's..." the boy trailed off.
"An enigma?" Kennedy offered. "We're never quite sure where he is. He just kind of materializes when we need him. Generally with some kind of semi-cryptic queer wisdom."
Juliette tilted her head and ate another piece of pancake. How did Sal fit into all of it? The world of drag itself was entirely a mystery to her, but it seemed important to them all, so she did her best to keep up.
 
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#91
"Sal taught Cherie and Eva most of their performance skills," Ronan explained. "I guess that technically makes him their drag mother but since he's always been more of an androgynous male entertainer the phrase never really stuck." She shrugged.

"I called him my motherfathersisterbrother for a time," Eva laughed as she lifted another forkful of pancake to her lips. "But it's kind of a mouthful so everybody dropped that too. He's just Sal. Technically his stage name is Salazar, but we all just call him Sal." She shrugged. "Cherie used to call him Salamander just to get on his nerves." Eva rolled her eyes.

"For as annoyed as you pretend you are by her," Kennedy started, taking a sip of her drink. "Drunk you and sober Cherie are pretty much the same person. You're just a little less impulsive. After a couple of peach daiquiris you're as much of a loud giggly drunk person as she is a loud giggly sober person."
Eva snorted. "I suppose. I've never actually seen Cherie drunk, since she doesn't drink. I imagine she would just completely devolve into a mass of colors and jagged shapes."

"Sounds like my gender," Jupiter joked. "A mass of colors and jagged shapes." They picked up their empty plate and took it to the sink.
 

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#92
Juliette nodded, understanding a little better now, though she still wasn't clear on the lingo. Her eyes flicked to Eva while she spoke, then to Kennedy, then down at her plate when the latter spoke about what Eva was like when she was drunk. Juliette didn't feel very hungry anymore.
Loud and giggly weren't exactly the most apt descriptions for drunk people she would use, but she didn't normally feel like the words she says are ever really all that useful. She didn't know what they expected her to contribute to the conversation, but she hoped Ronan had been sincere about her quietness being acceptable here.

When Jupiter stood, with a clack of their heels, Juliette did as well. She brought her plate with her, though it still had a fifth of her single pancake on it. She slid carefully past Jupiter and set hers next to the sink before rolling her sleeves up a little, bruised wrists low by the drain while she stood slightly on her tiptoes to start on cleaning Jupiter's plate. She figured the others would soon follow suit so she could clean them when they finished.
 
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#93
Jupiter set their plate in the sink, and turned around when the noticed Juliette coming up behind them. The girl turned on the faucet and reached out to clean Jupiter's plate, but Jupiter gently nudged her away. "You don't have to do the dishes all the time," they told her gently. "I'll take care or them. You don't have to clean up after everyone all day long."

Jupiter reached out to take Juliette's plate from her, and started cleaning it themself. "What other things do you like to do?" they asked. "You must like things other than cleaning up after people." They paused. "I like to draw."
 

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#94
As Jupiter nudged her, Juliette tensed and swiftly moved aside. She looked up at them with wide eyes and gulped, unsure of what they expected her to do if she wasn't cooking or cleaning. She was a little afraid to ask, and gave Jupiter her plate without resistance.
"What other things do you like to do?" they asked. "You must like things other than cleaning up after people." They paused. "I like to draw."
She struggled with the question, terrified to say something that might set them off when they were upset before breakfast. She had seen them drawing last night, but her teeth clenched so hard she couldn't say so. Besides, it was dangerous to tell others she drew things. Especially if they also like drawing. Revealing common interests makes people feel closer to her and that's never been good. She didn't dare ignore a direct question though, not from someone already in an earlier bad mood. "I like to read," she murmured, hoping that was innocuous enough that they wouldn't be further interested in her very few hobbies.
 
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#95
Reading. A short response, given after hesitation and nervous shifting. Jupiter raised an eyebrow as they set the dish to the side of the counter to dry. "Well, what do you like to read?" they asked. "I like reading. Eva reads a lot too. I have books you can borrow if you're looking for something new to read. I'm sure Eva would probably lend you something too."

The kitchen began to empty, and the ping of the xbox could be heard as Hugo started it up. "What else do you like?" Jupiter coaxed. "You must like other things." Their gaze travelled to Hugo on the couch. "Hugo could play video games until his eyes fell off--not that Kennedy would let him. And Ronan really likes birds. Specifically parrots. Knows everything about them. There's a bird store a couple of streets over he goes to all the time. He's wanted a bird forever. Particularly a conure."

Jupiter's voice lowered. "Eva and Kennedy might finally get him one for Christmas," they said. "I'm the only one they've told, since Hugo can't keep a secret to save his life."
 

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#96
Jupiter raised an eyebrow as they set the dish to the side of the counter to dry.
Juliette had to think to stop herself from reaching up to grab the plate so she could dry it. That it was her first reaction bothered her. She clenched her teeth.
"Well, what do you like to read?" they asked. "I like reading. Eva reads a lot too. I have books you can borrow if you're looking for something new to read. I'm sure Eva would probably lend you something too."
Her eyes grew wide, failing to immediately staunch the excitement for new books to read. She wasn't sure she would have the courage to ask anyone for one of their own books and didn't really have a preference when it came to what kinds of books she liked yet, but she gave a tiny smile, "Okay," then followed Jupiter's eyes to Hugo on the couch.
She had heard from other students about inviting friends over to play video games, but she had never actually seen a game system, much less used one. It was strange to watch, but at least it gave her an excuse not to answer Jupiter when he asked what else she liked.
"..Ronan really likes birds. Specifically parrots. Knows everything about them. There's a bird store a couple of streets over he goes to all the time. He's wanted a bird forever. Particularly a conure."

Jupiter's voice lowered. "Eva and Kennedy might finally get him one for Christmas," they said. "I'm the only one they've told, since Hugo can't keep a secret to save his life."
Juliette made sure to remember that, and nodded with a serious expression. "I can keep secrets. I won't tell." It was probably the most certain in anything she'd sounded since arriving to this house.
 
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#97
Jupiter smiled as they saw Juliette’s eyes widen at the idea of new books to read. She gave a small smile as Jupiter finished cleaning the dishes, and Jupiter paused before turning to look at her again.

“You could pick some out now if you want,” they offered. “My bookshelf is in my room, but I’m not currently reading anything, so you can borrow whatever you want.” They shrugged.

The girl’s gaze had travelled over to Hugo. “He’d probably let you play if you asked him,” Jupiter told her. “I play with him sometimes but I’m terrible at video games.”

Juliette nodded at the mention of Ronan’s possible bird, saying she could keep a secret. “You ought to ask Ronan to take you with him to the bird store next time he goes,” Jupiter suggested. “Birds are neat. He’d probably just start spouting bird facts immediately, though. He may never stop.”
 

Ravenbelle

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#98
His offer to let her choose now was tempting, but not tempting enough to leave the kitchen now when Jupiter had yet to dismiss her from the conversation or get bored of her near-silence. She considered trying the video game, but Hugo's fingers were moving so quickly she doubted she could ever keep up well enough to learn how to play. Besides, he looked so focused. She didn't want to bother him.
“You ought to ask Ronan to take you with him to the bird store next time he goes,” Jupiter suggested. “Birds are neat. He’d probably just start spouting bird facts immediately, though. He may never stop.”
She wasn't sure if it was an order or a suggestion, not that she knew the difference most days, so she nodded anyway. She bit her lip at the thought of leaving to an unfamiliar place with a single male. She was worried enough about it in the house, but out there, she would have no control at all. Especially since everything this far was unfamiliar and the snow would slow her down. Her eyes found the floor again. She didn't know what else to say. She never knew what to say. At least Jupiter seemed like they were almost done with the dishes she still felt kind of responsible for. It had taken another pair of clenched fists to keep from picking up a rag to dry them.
 
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#99
Juliette didn't say anything back, and Jupiter hadn't really expected her to. "Feel free to go take a book any time you'd like," they said. Jupiter put the clean dishes away in the cabinets, and Hugo let out a loud, exasperated groan as he lost his last life in the game he was playing. Jupiter smiled at Juliette one last time before they gave her a light pat on the shoulder and strode away into the living room, jumping over the back of the couch and bouncing onto the couch beside Hugo, who jumped slightly to the side and narrowed his eyes at his sibling. Jupiter reached out to tousle the boy's hair, and Hugo restarted his game without saying anything, offering only a small smile in return.

(I'm sorry it's so short. You can do a time skip of some sort or something if you want. :))
 

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Genre You DON'T Like
Medievel, detective stories
Juliette did end up borrowing one of their books. It took a couple of tries over the next three days for her to finally build up enough courage to just pull one off of the bookshelf in their room without fretting over how offended they would be over which title she chose. She ended up with one called A Series of Unfortunate Events. She only ever read it in her room before she went to sleep, which was always far too late. Having discovered that there were no rules for how late she could stay up here, she had been losing sleep a lot. Her bedside lamp stayed on most nights so she could read and draw and toss and turn, avoiding nightmares til the sunrise.

Christmas Eve was only 4 days away now and Juliette woke from a light sleep with rather obvious dark circles under her eyes. The door bell was ringing. She hadn't left the house yet, but she had been told that her grandmother would be visiting today. She checked the clock by her bed. 11:30. She must have missed breakfast. Juliette scrambled to get dressed in the last clean outfit she had with her and stop by the bathroom before she could see who had knocked at the door from the top of the steps. She had been expecting an older woman that looked like Kennedy, but it was her case worker instead. She was on her way out the door again when Juliette met her eyes.
"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, Juliette," Ms. Piane smiled, (sadly?).
Juliette stared. Why was she here?
"I hope you have a wonderful christmas, hon. I'll see you soon," she waved, then she was gone. Juliette descended the stairs slowly and then looked to Kennedy with tired eyes wide, nervous and curious, asking too many questions that she couldn't voice aloud.

Ms. Piane had only stopped by to drop off some pill bottles the doctor from her initial examination at the hospital had prescribed her.Two of the bottles contained vitamin supplements for those she was deficient in. One of them had antibiotics prescribed for chlamydia. It was left up to Kennedy to decide what to tell Juliette (or what not to tell her), but Juliette would have to take one of each after breakfast every morning until they ran out.