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The Confrontation

Posted on Wed May 17th, 2023 @ 9:15 by Valjean Beaumont & Cameron Johnston

Chapter: All Hallow's Eve
Location: Kitchen, Avalon Institute
Timeline: Morning, Thursday, October 28th, 1992
2115 words - 4.2 OF Standard Post Measure

"Cameron. At last. We see each other plain." The French chef of the institute stood in the doorway leading to the kitchen, arms crossed, thousand yard stare locking eyes with the speedster. "Has Claire not spoken to you about the personal use of school supplies?" He slowly started to close in on the man in the process of hand picking some of the eggs and bacon he had bought for that morning's breakfast.

It was not the first time Cameron had come close to emptying an armload of supplies all over the kitchen floor, mostly because it wasn't the first time the chef had managed to sneak up on him despite best laid plans. One-handed juggling of a package of bacon ought to have, in any other company, resulted in a degree of admiration at the very least, but here all it was likely to do was antagonise further. Cam hitched a knee up towards his chest to try at least keep the eggs from meeting an untimely demise and froze, somewhat defeated, at the slap of the other half of his breakfast hitting the ground. At least it was still wrapped. "Breakfast," he pointed out for the umpteenth time, "is part of my employment contract. I can hardly utilise food for impersonal use and," he held up a finger now that he had a free hand, crouching tentatively to scoop up the bacon again, "I have only taken what I need."

"What you need can feed all of House Pridwen." Valjean slowly walked closer to the man, he had increased the orders week by week and somehow it seemed that this man only took that as an invite to steal and eat more. "After the Sentinel you ate all the eggs in the county." It was a bit of an exaggeration but the local farmers had told him that they couldn't supply them with more. Though it did occur to him as well that some of the farmers stopped supplying the institute altogether after the press conference. Bigots.

"Ah, yeah. About that..."

Rather than risk the eggs further, Cam doubled-over slightly and waddled with his load towards one of the serving counters. Very gingerly, he lifted his arms and managed to deposit his bounty in a heap without gravity's continued interference. He held a hand out for a moment to anticipate uncooperative eggs and then stepped away with a resigned sigh to deal with the other man's ire. As it happened, it wasn't something Cameron was proud of, if anything it was something he tried his best to minimise and this wouldn't be the last time he considered just installing a second fridge in his office.

"I did try to replace those," he explained quietly. "I just...wasn't able to find a decent supply. Those were extenuating circumstances though, I don't usually need that many."

"I am not able to plan meals for 300 people when these extenuating circumstances crop up every fortnight." Valjean shot back at the man who he had just caught taking another dozen eggs and enough bacon to go with it. He walked towards the counter where he had put everything back and reached underneath to grab a large frying pan. With a clang he placed it on the stove and with a flick of the switch made the gas ignite into a blue flame. "Scrambled, sunny sides up, omelette au fromage?" He lopped off a bit of butter and swirled it around the cast iron pan to make sure whatever it was he threw in there it wouldn't stick.

And there he was; damned if he did, damned if he didn't. For the longest time, dodging the chef had seemed like a better sport than incurring the combined wrath of Reagan and Claire, but Cameron wasn't so sure anymore. Reaching up, he rubbed the back of his neck, not immediately answering but feeling, instead, like he owed the guy further explanation. "It's just my metabolism, is all. I'll take other suggestions for protein infusion if you've got them."

"It is tiresome to be, how you say, quarrelling all the time, non?" Valjean knew of his reputation and that had helped him in the past to set boundaries for students and staff and kept his kitchen his own. Something that was of utmost importance in the previous kitchen he worked seemed to work against him in his current place of employment. "Protein is mostly fish and low fat... eh... milk products. Or the chicken without the skin. Eggs, oui, of course. But must get boring." He stepped away from the pan a moment to open up a cabinet and reached inside for a sack of mixed walnuts. "Perhaps as a snack, to keep energy levels even, one can eat nuts. Pecan. Walnut, Almonds." He shrugged then as he lobbed the left over walnuts from last night's salad in the direction of the mechanic.

Cameron caught the package against his chest and took a moment to navigate between having them squished against the palm of his hand and eventually cupped within it. At that point, he could see what he'd been offered and huffed with resigned laughter. Any time someone wanted to accuse him of being a little nuts, he invited them to investigate the contents of his pockets, which amongst many weird and wonderful things almost always contained a smooshed packet of mixed nuts. They were a sound choice, they just didn't seem to work as well as eggs. They also tended to get stuck between his teeth.

"I'm not restricted to protein," he pointed out, having more than proven his capacity to put away other cafeteria staples, such as bowls of cereal and loaves of toast. "But if the powers have been used, the body's pretty picky about what it needs in order to stop its fussing. I get in trouble if I try to sleep it off," he confided, which was a gross misrepresentation of what sheer exhaustion looked like.

"Do not indulge in carbs, or sugar." Valjean shook his head a bit, "it gives a bad crash." He was mixing the eggs in a bowl now, since Cam hadn't specified how he wanted them he was just going with his own wims and started whisking up the eggs for an omelette. "Moving twice as fast must be almost like moving with two bodies." He looked up a moment from his dutiful whisking to see if there was a bit or recognition there. "There are so many diets 'ere that it is difficult to keep track sometimes. Makes my life more stressful."

Twice as fast. If that was the chef's approximation of Cameron's potential, then it was no wonder he failed to comprehend the man's dietary requirements. The speedster wasn't in a hurry to correct, however, finding no way to phrase it that wouldn't sound boastful. "I think life's been a bit tough on everyone just lately," Cameron agreed, whilst tactfully striving to put the situation in context. Valjean was flamboyant and prone to temperamental outbursts but Cam had never got the impression that he was so unsympathetic as to be cruel. "I'm sure it doesn't help when local supply chains are uncooperative." He'd met the same resistance when he'd tried to resupply the eggs himself, it wasn't much of a stretch to empathise with the chef's ongoing challenges. "Maybe it's time we put Claire's vision onto action and get the agricultural studies off the ground. A decent vegetable patch, maybe a small orchard, a chicken coop..."

Valjean seemed to contemplate that, "Perhaps." It was a bit unclear as to what part exactly he was responding to. Avalon already had some small scale fruit and vegetable patches, but they were more for the benefit of keeping some of the extracurricular slots filled with busywork. It was nowhere near big enough to consistently feed the burgeoning institute's population, so a more robust agricultural activity wasn't a bad idea. In the meanwhile the chef had poured his mix into the heated frying pan, the sizzle immediately released an amazing smell. With a hand full he added the cheese to the breakfast staple. "Something your girlfriend might want to look into."

The bemused hitch of Cameron's eyebrows was followed by a moment of confused hesitation. "Which one?" The moment the words left his mouth, the insinuation behind them caught up to him and, not for the first time, Cameron was left wondering what the point of an exceptionally agile mind was if you lacked the basic wherewithal to make it through a normal conversation without putting your foot in it. "...of the many unavailable and unviable options..." That really didn't make it sound any better. "...determined by mutual you mean?"

"The biology teacher, Miss D'Angelo. She's always going around with the kids to pluck mushrooms and look at beetles." Valjean looked at the speedster a bit incredulously, as if there was someone else that could be considered his girlfriend. The two of them were two peas in a pod. He folded the eggs and allowed the heat to permeate through the omelette, making sure the eggs were done, without becoming too dry. He slid the thing out of the frying pan onto a plate and immediately throwing some salt and pepper on top of it. "Voila. Omelette au fromage."

Cameron huffed at that. He had no idea why he'd expected the chef to throw something unorthodox at him but there was something almost reassuring about the fact that the flamboyant man had fallen victim to the same assumption as just about everyone else. "Knew I should have gone with the bingo card idea," he observed, an entirely ridiculous statement without context. Rather than explain it, Cam simply hastened to add, "Contrary to extremely popular belief, I'm not that lucky, my friend. I count my blessings that she puts up with me at all." Without exposing more of Reagan's personal preferences than were really his business to discuss without her present, Cameron decided that there was no harm in evoking a sense of resignation. It flowed nicely into his appreciation of the breakfast offering, likely better than any of his attempts despite the fact that eggs were the one thing Cameron had figured out how to cook without messing up. "Smells great. I wasn't trying to put you out though." Once again, his hand reached up to rub at the back of his neck. "Or, you know, create problems. Just with the recent issues, we've been training a whole lot more, and..."

"C'est la vie." Valjean made a gesture to dismiss any protestations or apologies. "I think we are more in balance now. Please don't steal, simply ask." He gestured for the omelette he had made and put in front of the man. The fact that Reagan and Cameron were not together was a bit of a surprise, but in the end none of his business anyway. "Either way, any effort to grow and maintain a vegetable patch would need proper supervision, and with the Institute's dietary needs, I would not be the person to do so." Aside from the fact that he had black fingers for anything other than weeds.

"Agricultural studies, especially in a location like this, isn't a terrible addition to the syllabus. If we put it on Claire's radar, maybe she can find us an Old McDonald to bring on staff." As far as puns went, it wasn't Cameron's strongest but he was trying to extend a similar olive branch without making things ridiculously awkward. It was a shame that wasn't a skill he tended to have cultivated very well. "I'll have a chat to her, if you like."

"Weh." Valjean started to clean the kitchen up to prepare for breakfast rush. Seemingly unimpressed with the pun. "Let me know if you need any 'elp with convincing her."

Reaching forward, Cameron picked up the plate he'd been prepared and looked closely at the bounty it contained. As much as he felt like he'd perfected the art of cooking breakfast, it was difficult to argue that the chef's attempt wasn't more...aesthetically appealing. Certainly Valjean had managed just the perfect half-flip so that the edges lined up almost exactly, a far better effort that Cameron's typically mangled attempts. Reaching for a fork, he sawed off a portion and lifted it to eye level to examine. The flecks of black pepper were an interesting addition and, as soon as he took the first mouthful, Cameron understood the appeal.

His stomach gurgled. Cam paused, fork halfway to his mouth with a second morsel, to glance sideways, sheepishly.

"S'piddy good," he confirmed around a veritable spittle of eggy bits.


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